Hardy runners from across Dacorum were out in force at the weekend as the marathon season got under way in earnest.
> Dacorum & Tring AC
Nine Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners were in action over the weekend in full and half-marathon events around the country and abroad.
Four members were taking on the full marathon distance for the first time, raising close to £10,000 between them for their chosen charities.
Chris Kitchener, Jules Robinson, Esther Hamilton and David Stears made their marathon debuts at Brighton at the weekend, raising hundreds of pounds for charity at the same time.
Chris Kitchener crossed the line in 3:33:42, in what he said was an ‘awesome’ experience although he said he’d underestimated how physically and mentally hard running 26.2 miles would be.
He was grateful to everyone who helped to raise more than £1,200 to his fund-raising effort for the Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance.
Jules, meanwhile, was delighted with her first marathon attempt; she completed the distance in a speedy time of 4:04 hours and has raised nearly £2,000 so far for the NSPCC.
She said she had to ‘dig deep even to get to the start line’ after a series of injuries, but added: “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Although it was tough at times, the atmosphere and support was absolutely fantastic.”
Esther ran her first marathon, raising more than £600 for Prostate Cancer UK, and all her hard training was put to good use as she crossed the line in 4:16.
She said: “It was the most fabulous overall experience; totally uplifting to have strangers shouting your name in encouragement, and I felt the training really paid off!”
David Stears crossed the line in 4:18 and, despite developing a painful blister, said it was an ‘awesome experience.’
He has raised more than £5,000 so far for Spinal Research, and has pledges of another £5,000 for the same charity for the Virgin London Marathon which he will run in two weeks’ time.
Elsewhere, Tim Churchill ran the Paris Marathon, finishing in 4:03:08 – a PB by 23 minutes. Next up for Tim, a multisport specialist, it the Ironman UK 70.3 Wimbleball triathlon in June.
Casper Du Buisson scored a new half marathon PB of 1:56:58 at the Hillingdon Half, with Manon Pagniez not far behind in 1:58:18. Russell Morris started the race but pulled out early to avoid exacerbating a previous injury.
New club member Clare Hunt ran the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon and, despite struggling in the hills and heat, still managed to finish well below the two-hour mark in a quick time of 1:50:32.
D&T members also had a busy weekend at various parkruns across the south-east.
Jamie Marlow was the first finisher at the Gladstone parkrun in London in a time of 17:12 minutes, which also doubled as the course PB. Kirsty Russell also ran, as she ramps up her post-injury training, finishing in 30:44 (fourth SW30-34).
Both Jamie and Kirsty were at the Gladstone parkrun as part of their training to be run directors at the Gadebridge parkrun in Hemel Hempstead, which is set to launch in early May.
Simon Walker posted a new PB of 19:14 at the St Albans parkrun to finish 19th place overall and second in the SM25-29 age group.
He was followed by Michael Lamb in 22:58, Carly Dollman in 23:06 (third SW25-29), Calypso Phillips in 26:36 (second JW15-17), Star Phillips in 27:14 (first JW11-14) and Peter Bailey in 30:27 (third VM70-75).
Chris Marriott ran a quick 19:03 to finish sixth overall and first SM30-34 at the Cassiobury parkrun, while Victoria Thornley finished in 25:42 (third SW30-34).
Over at the hilly Tring parkrun, Rob Salt finished 27th overall in 24:47 (third VM50-54), with Louisa Hopper not far behind in 28:09, fast enough for 1st VF40-44.
> Gade Valley Harriers
A team of nine Gade Valley Harriers travelled to the south coast on Sunday to tackle the Brighton Marathon after many months of hard training.
The athletes faced warm weather and stiff sea breezes as they faced the 26.2-mile course, starting in Preston Park, winding through the streets of Brighton and along the coast line, before finishing just beyond the famous Brighton Pier.
As a result of their dedicated training, every GVH athlete achieved a new personal best time.
Putting in huge efforts for the Harriers were Dean Kidd who finished in 4:01:07 (PB), Tracey Aldridge-Jones 4:01:46 (PB), Russ Bailey 4:12:04 (PB), Emma Graham 4:20:35 (PB), Andy Watt 4:23:45 (PB), Joanna Kidd 4:26:18 (PB), Gina Oliver 4:54:26 (PB), Peter Tucker 5:13:53 (PB) and Angeline Cottrill 5:41:49 (PB).
Elsewhwere, the Harriers had runners in action at four parkruns, including the Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida, USA.
Guy Wollett had a 7:30am start to avoid the heat of the day in Clermont, but still faced 80 degree temperatures. Wollett clocked an excellent time of 19:44, good enough to come in fifth place overall out of 75 runners.
Also in action abroad, James Thomson from GVH ran the Copenhagen parkrun in 21:06, good enough for 13th place.
Closer to home, Tom North took first place at the Tring parkrun in 20:22, with team-mate Anthony James in fourth place in 21:29. Lesley Jugoo crossed the line in 34:58.
Vince Ellerby was in action at Black Park parkrun, where he finished in a respectable 19:58, in eighth place, while Scott Dixon was the lone Gade Valley Harrier at St Albans parkrun, where he crossed the line in 13th place in 18:38.
> Tring parkrun
A group of 108 hardy souls ignored the poor weather forecast for this week’s Tring parkrun and were rewarded by seeing the spring beginning to turn the park green.
At the front it was Tom North of Gade Valley Harriers who finished just 9s ahead of James Taylor of Chiltern Harriers AC in a time of 20:22.
Anthony James, also of Gade Valley Harriers, was third over the line.
For the ladies, junior Tilly Green again finished first with a PB time of 23:15.
Lynn Boddy of Leighton Buzzard AC was second lady, closely followed by Lynda Hembury, who once again had the highest age category percentage score.
This week there were 108 runners and 27 recorded new personal bests.
Of the regular runners, the biggest improvements were from Steen Dalgas (1:21), Louise Abslom (1:15) and Katie Haines (1:04).
Brothers Finn and Harvey Bell were the fastest juniors, followed by Scott Towell. Tilly Green, Hatty Bell and Leonie Glasson were the fastest junior girls.
Registration for Tring parkrun is free at www.parkrun.org.uk/tring