A huge team of 70 Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners – nearly half the Road Running membership – took on the very competitive Hatfield 5 mile race in stormy weather over a flat and fast course.
The club produced some stunning PB performances, including four top-25 finishes from the men that were fast enough to scoop the prize for top male team.
Leading the club home was Jamie Marlow, who finished fourth overall in the race in a huge new PB of 27.30 – a full 1.42 faster than his time on the same course last year.
Jamie headed up a strong pack of D&T runners, with Mike Kazer in 10th (29.03), U17 runner Joshua van Heiningen in 15th (29.42) and Duncan Hamilton in 22nd (30.05).
On the ladies’ side, the four fastest runners were only a handful of points away from the top team prize, finishing second on the day. They were brought home by Ania Gabb in seventh, in a time of 32.44, with ladies’ captain Sam Fawcett eighth (32.48), Niamh Dempsey 10th (33.20) and U17 athlete Grace Birdseye 22nd (35.50).
Rounding out the finishers for the men were Jamie Saunders (30.27), Matt Hamilton (31.14), Rhys Rowlands (31.47), Steve Shaw (31.59), Simon Walker (32.17), Paddy Ashton (32.17), Russell Morris (32.35), Chris Kitchener (32.46), Felix Morris-Duffin (33.27), James Wass (33.34), Tim Churchill (35.14), Keith Wishart (35.24), Michael Lamb (35.35), Martin Kerr (36.11), Rob Salt (37.13), Ken Perry (37.25), Tony Reeve (37.26), Richard Stevens (38.06), David Stears (38.30), Andy Wass (38.48), John Stevens (39.00), Andy Mitchell (39.17), Phil Pugh (39.41), Jim Mason (41.23), John Slack (41.28), Jason Hawkridge (45.31), Gary Sturdy (47.09), Alan Grover (48.07), Richard Belsey (49.55) and Peter Dollman (50.36).
The ladies’ team was backed up by Carly Dollman (36.01), Sam Sullivan (36.01), Becky Fawcett (36.15), Catherine Davies (36.43, Tina Le (37.21), Hannah Bennett (38.05), Karen Wishart (38.14), Jan Strachan (38.44), Rachel Lewis (39.04), Clare Hunt (39.50), Alison Richardson (40.13), Kerry Hoar (40.27), Jessica Tanner (40.41), Vicky Thornley (40.44), Esther Hamilton (41.42), Kirsty Russell (42.50), Michelle Ashwell (43.17), Alex Bayliss (43.23), Denise Burford (44.04), Louise Flower (44.26), Penny Wallduck (44.42), Calypso Phillips (45.59), Sam Hawkridge (45.50), Annette Howard (47.22), Rebecca White (47.40), Leah Sill (48.42), Anya Higgins (49.14), Janice Flowers (49.42), Louise Tainsh (49.58), Hazel Smith (51.15) and Alexis Bunce (52.56).
The club also posted some notable age group performances: Steve Shaw was third in the VM50 category and Ken Perry was second VM60, while on the ladies’ side, Sam Sullivan was fourth V40 and Catherine Davies was third V50.
Several runners produced huge improvements on last year: Paddy Ashton was 3.14 faster this year, Esther Hamilton was 2.05 quicker and Annette Howard beat her time from 2014 by a massive 7.34.
Other big jumps in performance include Jim Mason, who took more than five minutes off his previous five-mile PB while Jan Strachan shaved an astonishing 7.55 off hers.
Also in action over the weekend were two of the club’s strongest cross country runners, Jack Parslow and Alex Eykelbosch, who competed in the 2015 Liverpool Cross Country Challenge, which double as the European Cross Country Championship trials.
Jack finished 49th, just 1.49 behind first place, in a field of 574 male finishers, while Alex, who’s been troubled by a chronic leg injury, still finished 53rd out of 291 female finishers, fast enough for 16th in the U23 women’s race.
Meanwhile, with many club runners taking a rest day before the Hatfield 5-mile race, attendance at parkrun was down, but even so, there were 20 runners and 15 volunteers out at seven parkruns over the weekend.
Steve Shaw had a stellar run at Cassiobury, finishing fourth overall in 18.39, fast enough for first in his VM50-54 age group. Also running in Watford was David Stears, who scored a new PB of 22.23, giving him second in the VM55-59 age group.
Over at St Albans, Sarah Grover grabbed a huge new PB, finishing 20th, and second lady overall in a time of 19.50, and of course, first in the SW20-24 age group.
Rachel Lewis and Duncan Hamilton ran together, finishing on 24.24 and 24.25 respectively - with Rachel’s time giving her 10th lady overall and first in the SW25-29 age group.
At Hemel’s Gadebridge parkrun, Alastair Hinchliff was first home for the club in 24.40 (first SM30-34), while track runner Ben McGuiness got a new PB of 25.28 (first SM20-24), with Michael Irvine finishing one second behind in 25.29 (second VM45-49).
Andy Mitchell was next in 26.34 (second VM50-54), John Stevens finished his third Gadebridge parkrun in 26.44 (first VM55-59) while John Cooper ran in 30.35, finishing as first VM65-69) and Annette Howard ran in an easy 35.32.
Thomas and Charlotte Ashton volunteered as sweeps, finishing together in 38.11 and were joined as volunteers by race director Kirsty Russell and her crew of Meg Brooks, Louise Flower, John Jales, Michael Lamb, Jamie Marlow, Star Phillips, Katie Rance, Jan Strachan and Karen and Fay Wishart.
In Tring, Kate Crossland ran a quick 25.48, only seven seconds off her Tring PB, and was fast enough to finish fourth lady and second SW30-34, while Chris Kitchener finished third overall at South Oxhey in 22.21 (second VM45-49), and was cheered on by volunteers Rob Deane and Rob Wright.
Vicky Thornley and Michelle Ashwell took on the Aldenham parkrun, with Vicky putting in a terrific first run on the course, finishing as third lady overall in 25.03 (13th overall and first SW25-29), while Michelle got a new PB for the event of 28.41, fast enough for fifth lady overall and first VW40-44.
Down on the south coast, the Bailey family ran in the Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun in Hampshire, and 11-year-old Jamie finished 19th overall out of 254 runners, in a time of 20.40, for third in his JM11-14 age group.
His dad Phil crossed the line in 25.33 but unfortunately younger brother Freddie collided with a railing and broke a tooth in the process, so he and mum Kate had to withdraw from the race.