Great Bentley meets the Great North with Great Expectations.

September signals the start of autumn and racing starts to pick up once again. Sunday had Springfield Striders Running Club play host to this years Essex Championships half marathon race. A truly beautiful “chocolate box” scenic course with mild undulations and quiet country roads. Eight members of the club travelled to the village of Pleshey to take part. Pleasant race conditions helped lead the way in for Bentley Club Coach Darren Horner with 1 hour 35 minutes 20 seconds. Steph Horner, returning from a long term injury was next home with a season’s best of 1hr 45m 10s. Paul Hollidge put in a very strong and steady performance to finish in 1hr 51m 2s just holding off Claire Groves, who ran a new personal best of 1hr 52m 43s. Caroline Searle ended Her race with a strong sprint finish to also gain a new PB in a time of 1hr 53m 55s. Both Groves and Searle earned themselves bronze club standard awards. Other runners were Barbara Law, Luke Groves and Debs Cubberley.
Moving closer to home and Dedham, another East Anglian village invited runners to race along their roads. The Dedham 10k has been on the racing calendar for over twenty five years, proving popular with every level of runner. Set in the beautiful Constable countryside of Essex and Suffolk, this event can create some surprises with two incredibly challenging hills! A time of 44m 27s saw Michael Belton place 40th out of 268 entrants and first for the club. Anthea Colsell, steadily working her way to a PB for the 10k distance finished in 53m 57s, somewhat four minutes faster for this course than last year. Frank Gardiner, Alison Clarke, Peter Reeve, Sandra James, Louise Reeve, Rita Page and Michael Sommerlad also took part.
Probably one of the most famous and iconic events around the globe is GNR, the Great North Run. This event is the second largest half marathon in the world, now attracting well over 55’000 runners. Devised by former 10’000 metre runner Brendan Foster, the run was first staged in 1981. The course starts in Newcastle upon Tyne, travelling through the city of Newcastle, crossing over the famous Tyne Bridge and on towards Gateshead. Finally finishing in South Shields. Whilst Mo Farah sprinted to British and European victory in just under an hour, the course record is still held by Kenyan Martin Mathathi. A time of 58m 56s saw him win in 2011. GBRC runner Andy Stephens, knocked off over a minute to a new PB of 1hr 45m 25s.  John Bush also ran, taking 2hrs 39m 10s to complete the course.
Competing elsewhere in triathlons and duathlons were Joe Alexander, Tricia Stacey, Martin Owen and junior Megan Hughes. Alexander took on the standard tri distance in Clacton on Saturday. Finishing in a total time of 2hrs 2m 18s and placing him 3rd in his age category. Stacey completed her sprint tri distance over in Great Dunmow in a total of 1hr 28m 31s. Owen (1hr 28m 6s) travelled to St Albans for a duathlon. This comprises of a 5km run, a 20km bike ride then returning to a 2.5km run for the final phase. Hughes participated in her first duathlon, the Tri-Star off road event.
Rodger Alexander and Paul Carlisle chose to partake in the Brecon Beacons thirty mile ultra trail challenge. Famously known as a training ground for the British Army and elite forces, the route also takes in the 886 metre summit of Pen-y-Fan. However Alexander and Carlisle will not be forced to black out their faces, carry rifles or a bergan. Both of them completed the course safely, coming home in second and third positions overall.