As the nights lightened, the skies brightened and Spring struck hard against the shield of gloomy Winter, many Westbury Harriers took advantage of the perfect running conditions (and absence of 2018-style snow) to record some impressive runs, personal bests and notable prizes in a month chock-full of interesting races.
Rodway Easy Runner 10K Mangotsfield, 10th March – Westbury Harriers takeover
This is a popular and slightly unusual multi-terrain 10K, run on and around Siston Common and sections of the Bristol-Bath Cyclepath. The tarmacked path sections make it unsuitable for spikes, yet the muddy sections on Warmley Common rivalled the best (or worst) of the cross-country season, making shoe selection “key”. One of the highlights is the climb back towards the finish up the “79 steps”, but there are plenty of other sharp climbs and twists, with time to be made up bombing along the cyclepath.
The 2019 edition saw a Westbury Harriers takeover, and (almost) total domination in the prize categories (despite the event billing, prizes no longer provided by Easy Runner…). This year’s popular club championship contest may have boosted the entry, but above all it was not too far to travel for an enjoyable and different challenge on a cold but dry Spring Sunday morning.
Congratulations first of all to Alex Hamblin, whose highly impressive form continued with a superb overall victory and a new course record (36:48). He finished just ahead of the Moroneys (of whom Brendan has been an erstwhile Westbury Harrier, although now running more at Emersons Green), with a clutch of blue-and-white vests (and vets) close behind. Richard Noble finished in an impressive 4th place to bag the VM40 prize (in which there was a Westbury 1-2-3), just ahead of son Aidan (5th) who wore a non-Harriers T-shirt for good luck, then managed to have a nasty fall requiring medical attention and lots of bandages (he was fine). Just behind them were Robin Phillips, 6th 40:26 2nd VM40) and Ewan Paton, 7th 40:38.
It was also gold (and prizes) for the Westbury women. Continuing her own excellent race form and prize-bagging, Vicky Tester was first woman home (13th overall, 42:06), followed by Robyn Ellis (42:29) who scooped the VW40 prize.
Other Harriers included Ian Gawinowski 18th 43:06, Alex Miller 30th 46:20, Stephen Shakespeare 34th 46:32 and Trevor Fitsall 63rd 50:34.
British Masters Indoor Championships – Nigel Gates
Many members may not know him, but Westbury Harriers are privileged to have a National Champion in our ranks. Nigel Gates should be an inspiration to all runners, young and (perhaps especially) veteran, while he continues his stellar form as one of the country’s top V65 runners. Mike Mewse reports on his latest achievements:
“British Masters Indoor Championships
Lee Valley, London 10 March.2019
Congratulations to Westbury’s Nigel Gates who came out as a convincing winner in the 3,000m at the indoor championships. Nigel won the race in a new British MV65 age record of 10.16.02.
Nigel also recently broke the V65 British record for 5 miles (29.52 at Exmouth) and also holds the top UK MV65 ranking for Parkrun with a 18.22 clocking.”
English Schools Championships – Leeds 23rd March
[pictured: Kate and Rosie; Ellie and Phoebe; Abdi]
Thanks to Maria Eriksson Hobbs for this report (and well done to all athletes and parents who made the trip to Leeds – the second of two trips up North for those who also ran in the Nationals):-
“Some great results at the English Schools XC Champs at Temple Newsam, Leeds. First off were the Intermediate Girls who smashed it with finishing fifth team overall. They were led home by Westbury’s Rosie Hamilton-James in 33rd place, and Kate Howard in 94th, who was fifth girl in for the team. Then followed Junior Boys with Seamus Robinson in 24th. Junior Girls with Clemmie Lee in 152nd, Amelia Honor in 180th and Abigail Woodworth 330th. Inter Boys had James Harrod in 153rd, Senior Girls with Ellie Hobbs in 25th and Phoebe Gould 298. Senior Boys finally with Abdi Hassan in 25th, Ben Rawlins 140th, Greg Hayward 198 and Aidan Noble 251. Amazing running from everyone. Tough conditions, with more or less constant rain and gusty winds on a very testing course.”
Half Marathons – Bath, Forest of Dean, Weston-Super-Half
These races were “snowed off” last year, so the clement Spring weather was especially welcome for those Westbury Harriers who had put in the tough Winter training for an early Spring “half”. It clearly paid off, as there were some great runs in all events.
Bath Half Marathon 17th March
Although the Westbury entry was relatively low for this one compared to some years, those who ran enjoyed a cracking event. Conditions were sunny but with a chilly breeze throughout. This is a fast but not entirely flat couple of laps around the outskirts of Bath, taking in a testing little climb around Queen Square and the long drag up Pulteney Road to the finish. It is an event on a massive scale, with nearly 15,000 runners taking part, a runners mega-village at the Rec, and large crowds around most of the course. Thanks to those Westbury Harriers (Vicky, Tom and others) who went all that way to cheer the runners on!
There were some very good runs and big PBs: well done to top Westbury man Alex Hamblin for a superb 84th place in a PB of 1:16:38, and top woman Katie Hughes for another PB and 219th place (2nd VF45) in a stunning 1:22:34. The other finishers were Ewan Paton 1:23:05 (also a PB, 235th), Sophie Voller 1:27:01 (391st) and Leanne Chew (3:27:11)
Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon 24th March
This challenging and scenic trail half, around the forest near Speech House at Coleford, saw no fewer than 10 Westbury women (but no blokes, strangely..) run superbly and bring home a whole clutch of individual and team prizes.
First woman home, in a rare but welcome competitive race outing, was Emma D’alton, 63rd overall and 2nd female finisher (and 2nd VW35) in 1:28:25. In the women’s rankings it was in fact a Westbury 2-3-4-5, as very close behind Emma came Vicky Tester (1:28:35, 3rd VW35), Sophie Voller (1:28:45) and Bridget White (1:28:59, another very welcome returning racer, and prizewinner as 1st Senior Female), resulting in a massive victory in the Women’s Team competition. Very well done also to Jane Goodwin (376th, 10th woman, 1:44:22), Michelle Bower (1:46:11), Heidi Andrews (1:53:32), Nicola Derrick (2:09:04), Kay Ridgwell (2:26:16) and Ann Lovell (2:29:05).
This race sounds like fun: one competitor observed on Facebook that “the rave at mile 9 was a fantastic addition, and definitely made me smile”. Blaise Blazer organisers take note.
Well done also to evergreen racer Richard Noble, and Caroline Bull, who were the sole male and female Westbury racers in the inaugural “Weston Super Half”, finishing on the pier while avoiding falling into the sea. Richard finished 34th in an impressive 1:26:07, and Caroline was 18th senior woman in an equally impressive 1:45:19. Well done both.
“It’s got nothing to do with your Vorsprung Durch Technik, you know… and it’s not about you joggers who go round and round and round….”
Oh, but it is. We are now blessed with a huge choice of parkruns in the Bristol area, and within a short distance. It seems incredible that runners of all abilities can take their pick from hundreds of slick but friendly volunteer-run, expertly timed 5k races every Saturday morning, and have their ‘race time’ (although of course “it’s not a race…”) online in a couple of hours, complete with all the crunched data for age categories and PBs. Most Westbury Harriers will have done one or more of these, probably on many occasions, but if you haven’t, or haven’t for a while, why not check one out next weekend? Or the weekend after? They can be used as good speed training practice in advance of a 10k or longer race. If you haven’t done one yet, register online to get your all-important barcode (no printed out barcode, no official result..)
Some favour the swift 3 laps at Chipping Sodbury, with the fast runners having to lap and dodge the dog walkers in the final stretch. The hardcore masochists remain loyal to the Ashton Court Big Hill. There’s also a Hill, but not quite so Big, at Pomphrey Hill. Eastville starts off downhill all the way, and includes a lap of a big duck pond, but you go back uphill again three times. Newer kids on the block include the Keynsham Somerdale event with the “twirly whirly” spiral, Thornbury and the (old) Severn Bridge runs, the latter only for the brave in a high wind. And that’s before you even get into newly toll-free South Wales, with runs nearby at Rogiet (Severn Tunnel Junction), two at Newport and loads of others.
A word also from Jayne for the Kingsweston Junior parkrun:
“A word of thanks to all those involved in the Kingsweston Junior Park Run. This is a fabulous event which started in August 2015 with just 28 runners. Now, after 3 and a half years, there are often in excess of 120 young runners. Each event needs around 22-25 volunteers, so if you’re not already involved, it’s now perfect weather to start ????????. A true community event for young people to get into running if ever there was one.”
If you’ve run a parkrun PB, or are just very pleased with your run, let me know. And I’ve just discovered that you can spy on club members’ results each weekend via the “results” tab at Parkrun central…so without sparing any blushes, well done in particular (from 30/3/19 alone) to:-
Aidan Noble, 1st place at Pomphrey Hill in a PB of 17:33
Vicky Tester, 1st lady (9th overall) at Severn Bridge in 19:02
Tim Clothier, on an excellent 6th place and sub-20 run at Thornbury (19:47)
Kim Ingleby, 5th lady at Severn Bridge in a PB 22:20
Alex Hamblin, 3rd at Eastville in 17:27 (and Katie Hughes, 1st lady in 19:06)
The previous week (23/3/19) there were also impressive 1st places for Matt Ellis at Severn Bridge (16:05) and young Jack Derrick at Chipping Sodbury (18:43), with Adam Shrewsbury in 2nd in the same time.
A bit like the Formula 1 motor sport (except there are no motors involved, and it is actually a sport), the Club Championship starts again in April, with the last one only just having finished. The sun is shining, but the pleasant cool breeze and crisp mornings make it perfect for racing. The first event is the Hanham Horror multi-terrain (with 100 steps and a rope climb) on 21st April, followed by the lovely Horton Spring Bull Run on 28th April, where you are virtually guaranteed a PB over the unconventional 4.2 mile distance, and the home made cakes are delightful.
Good luck also to all those doing the London Marathon and other races. Keep those results coming!
(Thanks to Mike, Maria, John Canning, Gary Woodruff and the Rodway 10K race photographer for all photos, used with thanks.)