This week’s racing action begins way back on Boxing Day when several Bentley runners converted some of those extra Christmas calories into solid running performances around the roads of Witham. A total of seven Great Bentley Running Club members participated in the Witham Boxing Day 5. The route is described by the hosts as being ‘Fast, undulating’ and ‘mainly rural’.
First home for Great Bentley was Paul Hollidge (36:47), who commented ‘not a PB but happy with the time after the festive binge!’ Debs Cubberley (43:49) and Gemma Colling (43:48) ran the race together. Debs reported that she was happy with her time considering the undulating nature of the course, and that she still hadn’t managed to shift her cough and cold.
John Bush completed the race in 50:45, describing the event as a ‘nice Boxing Day run’. Completing the Great Bentley representation were Belinda Palmer-Barnes (47:35), Helene Tyler (53:10) and Martin West (43:23).
On to New Year’s Eve, which was a Saturday, and so also a parkrun day. At Clacton Seafront parkrun Emma Levett-Welham made her parkrun debut. Emma completed the 5k course in 37:17. Also running the Clacton course for the first time were Jamie Neill (22:29) and Luke Groves (26:17).
The Clacton Seafront parkrun regulars were also out in force. Robert Thorpe was only 5 seconds outside his course PB when he finished in 20:52. Patrick Reynolds (22:45), Kevin James (23:07) and Sandra James (34:41) all toed the line. As did Louise Upston (29:13) and Jack Wicks (30:23) and December’s runner of the month Frank Gardiner (24:30).
Meanwhile Mersea Island parkrun was hosting its third event. Three Great Bentley runners made the journey to Cudmore Grove in East Mersea. Clearly recovered from her Boxing Day racing, Belinda Palmer-Barnes achieved a course PB when she crossed the line in 28:40, taking 10 seconds off of her time from the inaugural event. Running the event for the first time were Ben Ficken (25:33) and Lee Clarkson (24:18).
Eleven Great Bentley parkrunners crossed the Castle Park finish line at Colchester Castle parkrun. Linzi Iddon decided to end 2016 how she began it, by running Colchester Castle parkrun. Having not done any walking or running for 10 days prior to the event, Linzi set off on a walk/run strategy and completed the 5 kilometres in 43:58. Charlie Keitch was pleased that his recent knee problems seem to be on the mend, and despite running his highest mileage week for a long time, he finished in 20:28.
Not far behind Charlie was Rich Moor (20:40). David Iddon was just 15 seconds off his course PB (31:30). Debs Cubberley and Paul Hollidge ran together, finishing in 27:26 and 27:27 respectively. Claudia Keitch and Scott Young both finished in 29:46 and were closely followed by Sue Sorrell (29:54). The remaining Bentley runners were Malcolm Jarvis (21:38) and Darren Willey (26:26). Over at Harwich parkrun there was just a single runner representing Great Bentley. Antoinette Wilson finished in a new course PB of 23:49, and was third female finisher.
There was also some New Year’s Eve parkrun tourism to report on. Caroline Searle ran Lymington Woodside parkrun and was 4th female finished in 26:45. Liz and Matt Jones were on the Sussex coast and decided to try Hastings parkrun for the first time. A flat out and back route along the promenade and a fairly calm day meant that fast times were a real possibility. Liz ran her third fastest 5k when she crossed the line in 27:54. Matt completed the course in 21:34.
Sunday was New Year’s Day, and bright and early some of the Bentley juniors were in action. At Colchester junior parkrun Harrison Leek was first finisher, completing the 2k course in 8:25. Angel Jasper ran a junior parkrun PB of 12:03. James Blacker finished in 14th place with a time of 10:53.
There is a parkrun tradition of hosting parkruns on New Year’s Day, even when it doesn’t fall on a Saturday. Furthermore many venues start their events later than usual to allow participants to run two events in the same day. For the second year in a row New Year’s Day fell adjacent to a Saturday, allowing parkrunners to run three parkruns in two days. Many Bentley runners took advantage of this opportunity.
The most popular double parkrun combination amongst Bentley runners was Maldon Prom followed by Chelmsford Central parkrun. Taking part in these events were Lee Clarkson (23:05, 23:38), Jack Wicks (26:49, 31:06), Rebecca Conran (27:48, 29:20), Louise Upston (28:44, 31:04), Claire Groves (28:46, 30:17) and Luke Groves (28:47, 30:18). Colin Farmer ran a different local combination, completing Ipswich (21:54) and Harwich (22:00) parkruns. James McCullagh ran yet another combination, Ipswich (23:41) and Colchester Castle (23:13) parkruns.
There was also some double parkrun tourism. Sam Godden took part in two parkruns in the Bristol area. First she ran Ashton Court parkrun in 22:51, seventh female and first in her age group. She then became the second Great Bentley runner to complete Pomprey Hill parkrun, after Liz Jones completed it just two months earlier. Sam completed the course in 27:48 and remarked that she ‘certainly missed the flat of Essex!’
Liz and Matt Jones completed the double parkrun combination that the city of Brighton and Hove had to offer. First they ran the (usually) fast and flat Hove Promenade parkrun. However, strong winds and bitterly cold rain weren’t conducive to fast times on the day in question. Thence they travelled to nearby Hove Park to participate in Brighton & Hove parkrun. Although a much more undulating course, it was more shielded from the elements and so conditions were more favourable. Liz was very happy to dip under 30 minutes in the brutal weather at Hove Promenade (29:58), and she finished Brighton & Hove in 31:12. Matt completed Hove Promenade in 22:44 and Brighton & Hove in a slightly faster 22:36.
Some runners only ran one New Year’s Day event. One such runner was Rich Moor who completed Ipswich parkrun in 21:36. Three Bentley runners ran Harwich parkrun only: Sandra James (34:09), Claire Reynolds (35:33) and Cherie Hipkins (30:52). Many chose to run Colchester Castle parkrun only. Katie Presland completed the undulating course in 25:42, closely followed by her mum, Vicky Presland, one second later. Scott Young and Claudia Keitch ran together and finished in 28:15. Anna Mills (23:34, third female finisher) and Belinda Palmer Barnes (29:10) completed the Bentley representation.
Running the Chelmsford event only were Michael Simmons (19:48), Marion Simmons (25:31) and Nina Simmons (27:26). For Marion and Nina this was their first ever parkruns. Marion said of the experience: ‘I really enjoyed it, and will definitely do more Parkruns!‘
Undertaking some parkrun tourism but opting not to double up was Meera Rajoo-Oakley. She took on Prudhoe Riverside parkrun on New Year’s Day and finished in 23:42. Meera takes up the story: ‘Stupidly only took road shoes up north with me… Was 2nd lady till we hit the mud about a mile and a half in… Finished 5th lady (but the first in road shoes!)’
Also partaking in multi-day events but at an all together different level were the brave souls who ran back to back marathons over the muddy terrain of the Flitch Way Marathon route on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Andy Stephens and Gemma Colling both took on the challenge of running two marathons in two days. Andy ran 4:19:33 on the first day and 4:49:38 on the second. Gemma ran 4:53:07 and 5:34:28.
The New Year’s Day Flitch Way Marathon was a popular event with Great Bentley runners, with seven club members completing the race. Both Anthea Colsell and Alison Clarke made their marathon debuts at the race. Anthea finished in 4:51:04 and Alison earned a club silver standard with her time of 5:28:38. The first Bentley runner across the finish line was Paul Davidson with a time of 3:51:28. Paul Hollidge and Debs Cubberley ran together and finished joint 17th in a time of 4:38:40. Paul Hollidge commented ‘enjoyable but tough run, only rained in last hour and a half!‘
The Flitch Way Marathons weren’t the only events of that distance to welcome Great Bentley runners this week. 100 Marathon Club man Paul Blackwell was in action again on Thursday at the Phoenix Frozen Marathon Day 1. Paul said the 8 lap race along the Themes lived up to its name. The following day he was at it again, running the same route for the Phoenix Frozen Marathon Day 2. This time he was 8 minutes quicker. More was to follow with Paul also running the Fowlmead New Year’s Eve marathon the following day.