More than 500 runners and superheroes signed up for the first mass-participation running event in Hemel Hempstead at the weekend.
Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Hemel 10K and 1.5K Superhero Fun Run started and finished at Astley Cooper School, and participants used their superhuman powers to keep the rain away and bring perfect weather conditions for running.
Around 150 fun runners set off first at 10am to complete their 1.5K route, which was started by the Mayor of Dacorum Cllr Gbola Adeleke whose chosen charity of the year is Rennie Grove.
Among those taking part were ‘The Incredibles’ team from Abbots Langley, which was made up of Karen Ingleby, her husband Robert and children James, seven, Karis, six, and two-year-old Ted. “We really wanted to do a fun run with the kids and thought this would be the perfect event to raise money for a local cause at the same time,” says Karen.
“It’s great to see that so many people have made the effort to get dressed up for the theme.” The family’s outfits meant they were crowned winners of the best-dressed superheroes competition, which meant they won vouchers for Willows Activity Farm.
Six-year-old Halle Dickinson, who attends Micklem Primary School in Warners End, also dressed up and was excited to take part as the Hulk.
“Halle loves fancy dress and when I saw this event advertised I knew that she would love to get involved,” says dad Wayne, who ran with her.
“I’m a keen runner and Halle wanted to do her first race this summer.
“It’s nice to do something together and to raise money for a good cause at the same time.”
A family of four from Hemel Hempstead also wanted to support Rennie Grove and donned their superhero costumes for the occasion.
Amy and Graham John were persuaded to sign up by their sons Ethan, seven, and Toby, four.
“Ethan has swimming lessons at Astley Cooper and when he heard about the event he was desperate to take part,” says Amy.
“The boys wanted to do a fun run for a charity and the superhero theme was a bonus!
We’ve set up a JustGiving page and are hoping to raise £100 in sponsorship for Rennie Grove.”
The fun run was enjoyed by all who took part, but it was particularly important for Phoebe Molnar, six, from Woodhall Farm.
Phoebe had open heart surgery aged two and a half and likes to do regular exercise to keep her fitness levels up.
Phoebe was running with friend Beverley Wymer, and her parents Rachel and Nick Molnar went on to take part in the 10K route which set off at 10.30am.
Rachel said: “The event was well-supported and the volunteers cheering us along were fantastic.
“There was beautiful scenery along the route and a great start and finish venue with plenty of activities going on.”
First across the 10K finish line was Robert Kirby from Hemel Hempstead who completed the run in a fantastic 36 minutes and 1 second.
The first female was Alex Eykelbosch, again from Hemel, who came in at 42:12 and was running with her Mum, Ruth.
“I’m part of the Dacorum Athletics Club so am a keen runner and the 10k is my favourite distance,” says Alex.
“It’s nice to do something local and I really enjoyed the scenic route.”
Unlike Alex, Marnie and Lorraine Willis are not seasoned runners and were taking part in their first official race, alongside trainer Debbie Brown. The group, who called themselves ‘Team Girly Bugs’, are all best friends from Hemel and have known each other for a long time. “We did 15 weeks of training and I was buzzing all the way round,” says Lorraine. “It was a great course and a really well-organised event.”
Also tackling the hilly terrain was Paul Richards from St Albans Boxing Club who took part with a number of other boxers, including Jiten Raval who is a pharmacist in Long Chaulden and lives in St Albans.
“It was a hard course and was hilly, but was really good and I’ll definitely be back for the challenge again,” says Paul.
“I feel invigorated now that I’ve finished.”
Rennie Grove Hospice Care supports local patients with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses and their families, and the race was particularly poignant for Helen Younger from Boxmoor who took part with her husband Tim.
She said: “Tim had already signed up and I decided to join him a few days before the event.
“The organisation helped tremendously when my Dad was ill and, as his funeral is tomorrow, I wanted to do something worthwhile today to support such an important local cause.
“I only set up a JustGiving page yesterday and aimed to raise £100, but already there’s been £240 donated which is fantastic.”
The charity relies on the generosity of the local community to fund around 85% of its £6.7 million annual costs, and it’s hoped that this event will raise £25,000 to support the services it provides.
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rennie Grove, says: “We would like to thank everyone who made the day such a huge success.
“As 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the Buncefield Disaster and Rennie Grove reaches the milestone of providing 30 years of care, it was fantastic to see the people of Hemel coming together to enjoy a new event for the town and to support us.
“Special thanks go to Heart FM for compering the event, Astley Cooper School for allowing us to use the venue, and Gade Valley Harriers for helping us design the route.
“We would also like to say thank you to our amazing volunteer marshals who gave up their time to keep our participants safe along the route and offer lots of encouragement as they ran past.”
The event was also supported closely by Dacorum Borough Council and Maylands, and local businesses not only sponsored the event but also entered their own teams.
Osborne, a repairs and maintenance contractor for Dacorum Borough Council, entered a joint team with the council for the Hemel 10K, and also provided a treat table for the runners at the finish and gave out medals with their mascot, Rosie.
The team at Bella Italia were another group of employees coming together for the event and were there on the day as part of the launch of their flagship restaurant at Jarman Park.
“It was a great event to do as a team and was really scenic, but definitely a challenge,” says Teresa Lawrence, new opening marketing manager at Bella Italia. “Supporting charity events is really important to us as we’re part of the local community.
“We are already working closely with Rennie Grove through its Corporate Patron Programme so were pleased to be involved in the event.”
The Hemel 10K and Superhero Fun Run is one of nine active fundraising events organised by Rennie Grove Hospice Care throughout the year.
If you have been inspired to take part in one of its events, there are still places available for Colour Blast, which will take place on 23 August in St Albans and offers a 1.5km or 5km colourful course which is open to all ages.