Commenting From Afar

By Andy Inchley

So I don’t have a serious injury, but it’s enough to stop me running for a few weeks, so in order to keep involved with the events that are going on and because we haven’t had a report on the website for a while I thought I’d write a few words about last weekend’s various events with really just a couple of conversations, the results and Strava to guide me. Apologies if my perceptions are wildly inaccurate, but you can put it down to my age!

Saturday started with the final XC of the season, the English National Schools Championships in Leeds. Back in the dim and distant past when I was a lad, this event was generally considered to be the highest standard race around. This is because not only do you have all the runners, but you also have lots of very fit youngsters taking part from other sports. Therefore, simply qualifying for the event is a big achievement.

This year, we had three of our junior members who made the cut to run for Bedfordshire in Temple Newsom Park. In the Junior Boys race Oscar Butlin is in the bottom year of the age group so did exceptionally well to qualify for the team and finished 5th for Beds in 323rd place and will no doubt be well up next year. Imogen Chesterton has improved massively over the course of the season and this was shown by her selection for the Junior Girls team in which she was also 5th home and finished in 312th. Finally Amy Killick ran very well to be 2nd home for the Inter Girls Bedfordshire team in 263rd. Very well done to all three.

The other race on Saturday took place in Hertfordshire around the boundary of Ashridge. Surprisingly the race is called The Ashridge Boundary Run! It’s one that I have considered a few times, but it always sells out way before the day, so you have to commit to it early. However, we did have four organised people who did exactly that.

Obviously I wasn’t there to witness it, but I understand from reports that it was ridiculously windy. When you combine that with the standard hilliness of Ashridge, the fact it’s 99% off-road and almost certainly fairly muddy and that it’s 16.5 miles, it is not to be taken lightly. James Bell (who loves these things) led the small squad of Buzzards home as he finished 12th in the race and was delighted to achieve his target of two hours with a comfortable 13 seconds in hand!

Ruth Mitchell has been struggling with injury recently but ran very well to come home as 6th female in 2:26:55 after having her training severely restricted. In a very similar situation was Jane Sauer who should also be pleased to get around the course in 2:42:04. Finally, Katie Stanton has made huge leaps forward with her training in recent months and will surely be delighted with a time of 3:01 in those conditions. All three should feel that the race was hugely beneficial towards their marathon training for next month.

Moving on to Sunday, and with marathon season just around the corner there were road races happening all over the country, particularly of the longer variety. The Fleet half marathon has long had a reputation as a fast event and this was what drew Pete Mackrell to go and give it a go in his build up to Rotterdam in a few weeks time. The standard did not disappoint once again as Pete’s time of 1:16 only just got him in the top 50!

Meanwhile, Jordan Clay who represents LBAC when he’s up here and Cornwall AC in his adopted county too, chose to run for his third club, Vegan Runners on Sunday as he smashed out a ridiculous time on the streets of Bath. His 1:10:04 means he ran the 13.1 miles at and average of 5:20 per mile (3:19 per km), which the fast majority of us would be happy with for one mile!

Much closer to home we had the MK festival of running, which featured a 5K, 10K, Half marathon and 20 miler. We had runners in all four events with some excellent results. In the 5K, despite having been up in Leeds the previous day, Amy Killick took a fantastic win in running 20:04 for the course that finishes outside the xScape building in central MK. Following in her sister’s footsteps, and running in her first ever 5K Katie Killick set herself an impressive benchmark time of 22:56 for the distance. Splitting the two girls and also doing his first ever 5K was Tytus Grygier, who’s time of 21:31 is excellent for an U13. Let’s hope all this stamina translates well onto the track this summer.

In the 10K we had just the two participants. Valentina Ferrari, however, put in a great performance to run a PB of 54:56 for the 6.2 miles while Billy Mead came home 5th in what was a slightly lonely  race for him in 36:25. Because the city centre is basically the highest point in MK, all of the three longer races have a very tough last two miles so running a good time is never easy on these courses

There were five club members donning the purple and yellow for the half marathon. Scott Isaacs and Sam Dear finished one after the other just outside the top 50 in 1:28:16 and 1:28:38 respectively. Maria Williams has had a tough winter with illnesses but has come out the other side and used Sunday to drag her partner around his first half marathon in just under the 1:50 mark. Meanwhile, at the front end of the field Stuart Read ran his first half marathon in three years and consequently smashed his PB by 5 minutes to finish 8th in 1:20:21.

Steve Sharples has spent much of the winter eyeing up the club records in the knowledge that he was turning 55 in February, (He was also checking out the V50 ones too!). Now that has happened, this was his first opportunity to go for one of them and his clocking of 1:25:28 meant that he managed to take it by over 2 minutes with an age-grading of nearly 85%. Fantastic work Steve. One down, about five more to go! Both Steve and Stuart are running London marathon at the end of April, so maybe that’s next?

For many people running April marathons, the 20 miler is an ideal build-up event. Three of our club members were included in the line-up for the run and I believe all three are also doing London on the 28th April. Mike Furness managed to get within a minute of the time he ran last year, but was no doubt pleased to be 35 seconds quicker and therefore earning himself a PB 2:22:05. Jo Sharples has been a woman on fire for the last six months and having broken the club 20 mile record two weeks ago, managed to run 21 seconds quicker in MK to lower it to 2:14:24, so two club records for the Sharples family on the same day.

Our final runner of the weekend was Coralie Anderson. Coralie has significantly increased her mileage since the start of the year with London in mind and ran a fantastically consistent race on Sunday to finish in 2:49:26. Unlike Steve, Coralie had not been studying the website and had no idea that her time earned her two new club age-group records, so was hopefully very pleased when she found out!

Very well done to everyone who competed over the weekend, sorry if I missed anyone, and let’s hope these stellar performances continue for the rest of the year.

Of course the big race of the weekend was the Tonbridge Junior parkrun, in which I made a “schoolboy” shoelace error and had to pick up a wailing 2-year-old for the second lap, both of which delayed the 5-year-old in getting her pink barcode scanned – useless father!