Weekly report Oct 13th 19

Men’s Cross Country team

Tina, Susie and Helen in Sofia

Dave after doing the Oxford double

Leona Flaherty at Windsor

As well seeing the two-hour barrier for running a marathon broken for the first time, Saturday saw the return of the Chiltern Cross Country League and the first fixture of the 2019-20 season took Gade Valley Harriers to Horsepath Country Park in Oxford, and they took with them rainy, overcast conditions which were perfect for making the trails and paths slippery and slidy.

As usual the ladies team went first and Lisa Newing – who only runs for the club as a second-claim club so doesn’t count towards the points or positions that the club can score – was the first member to complete the 3.5 mile course, which sends participants up the steepest of inclines that is Shotover Hill, before heading through the woods and back down the boggy descent to the finish. Newing crossed the line in 25:12, less than thirty seconds ahead of Teresa Reason (25:40).

Tracey Cotton had spent the previous night in Oxford so that she could join in the city’s 5km ParkRun first thing on Saturday morning, and still managed to complete the cross-country course in 27:15, just five seconds ahead of Vicky Crawley-Wise (27:20).

Claire McDonnell was completing her first cross country race since receiving surgery and wrapped up a fine come back by recording a time of 27:37. Megan McCreadie no longer lives in the Dacorum area, but came back to join the club for this fixture and finished in 28:40, with Sam Raffety (28:47) just a few seconds behind.

Team captain Angeline Cottrill (29:55) managed to complete the course in under thirty minutes for the first time, ahead of debutant Lizzy Andrews (30:10). Isabel Wilson was also taking part in her first ever league fixture, and secured the second vet 65+ age group place by crossing the line in 30:45.

Bethan Heaton celebrated her birthday by making her first league appearance and clocked a time of 31:10.

Mary McCluskey (31:58) was competing in the first of two races over the course of the weekend, before heading into London for the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday – which she completed in 2:28:09. She was joined in the capital by Kim Morgan, who picked up a personal best (PB) of 1:54:58 at the same event.

Laura Johnson (32:02) was another Harrier running in their inaugural cross-country fixture and she finished ahead of Helen Cook (33:01) and Claire Pellett (39:41).

Less than a year ago, Caron Williams had never ran but she completed the Harriers’ Learn to Run course in the summer – the club’s Couch to 5km style course. She wore club colours for the first time as she completed her first ever race, and crossed the line in 55:13.

Once the ladies were all safely across the line it was the turn of the men, and unusually, they had a smaller team then their female counter-parts, as some of the club’s strongest runners were unavailable due to injury or lack of fitness. The 5.2-mile course takes the gents on two laps of Shotover Hill, which by now was even muddier and slippery.

Antony Beamish led the team throughout, despite being in the taper stage of his training for a marathon next weekend. He crossed the line in 35:22, less than fifteen seconds ahead of debutant Michael Linden (35:36) who had taken part in a marathon just last weekend. Dylan Wendleken completed the course in 36:39, ahead of a cluster of team mates who crossed the line less than two minutes apart. Hamish Shaw (37:26) led Anthony Willcox (37:56), while Simon Wallis (38:01) and team captain Ross Deacon (38:11) pushed each other throughout the race as they jostled for position, ahead of competing in a marathon next weekend.

David Goodman (38:30) was in Oxford for a race double as he was preparing for the Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday – which he completed in 1:28:21, despite the torrential rain – and he sprinted past Nick Crowther (38:34) on the home straight of this fixture. Rob Humphreys (39:00) finished ahead of Edward Price (39:25), who, despite being in the early stages of recovering from an injury setback, passed Phil Heaton (39:30) in the closing stages. Stephen Newing (39:55), Phil Mercer (40:59) – who is another Harrier who is taking part in next weekend’s marathon – and Dean Kidd (43:13) completed the line-up for the club.

While most of us slept on Saturday night, Peter Tucker was in Australia for the Melbourne Marathon, which started and finished with a lap of the home of Australian cricket – the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In warm conditions, on a closed road, city-centre route, Tucker completed the 26.2-mile race in 06:03:07.

Later, on Sunday, a trio of jet setting Harrier ladies were in Bulgaria for the Sofia Marathon and Half Marathon. Susie Ivin was taking part in her ninth marathon of the year and 34th in total, in the 13th different country, and Helen Heathcote was running in her tenth long distance race, in the seventh country, all within the last four years.

Ivin completed the two-lap course, which ended with a tedious, long out-and-back stretch along a dual-carriageway, in 4:45:02, with Heathcote enduring the hot and humid conditions to finish in 5:14:11. Tina Searle completed the half marathon in 2:23:10.

Elsewhere, Leona Flaherty participated in the Windsor Lakeside 10k and clocked a time of 56:34.