[Happy faces at Rodger’s first trail of the season]

This week’s races began on none other than April Fools Day itself – perhaps says something for us runners? Our local parkruns got into the spirit with posts being seen on Facebook about a £2 wristband available for a 10 second head start, new codes meaning all previous runs were deleted and how running was banned past the nesting Swans in Maldon. Thankfully the blue vests were no fools and turned out at 9am as per usual. Starting at Clacton Seafront parkrun for the reverse route, Scott Young was first GBRC back in 23:11 with Brian Telford hot on his heels with a time of 23:19. Robert Thorpe ran with his son coming in at 27:35 with Sandra James the only female representation at Clacton finishing in 33:42. Hopefully those times are all correct as our very own John Bush was taking time to volunteer as timekeeper.

Colchester Castle parkrun had the most blue vests Saturday, with Ryan Day putting in a strong performance of 17:29, his fastest parkrun time to date. This also saw him receive the second finishing token out of a field of 327 runners. David Wright finished in 18:34 and was unimpressed to find himself absent from the results and claims he definitely had remembered the golden parkrun rule – his barcode. James McCullagh was the third Bentley vest back in 24:37, followed by Anna Mills 25:07. Running together were Jack Wicks 30:27, Louise Upston, 30:31, Frank Gardiner 30:35 and Luke Groves 30:38.

There was also another second finishing token to be gained by a Bentley vest this weekend which was handed to Ben Ficken and his beloved pooch, Janice, at Mersea Island parkrun, who achieved a time of 19:37. Davina Swindell also tried out Mersea Island parkrun for the first time, finishing in 30:41. Only one club member decided to opt for Harwich parkrun which was Cherie Hipkins in 36:32.

Now for the parkrun tourism! We had Matt Jones down on the south coast checking out Bevendean Down parkrun which he described as the most challenging yet. This comes from the man who has now completed 37 parkruns at 21 different locations so it must have been a tough one! 22:49 was a good enough time to see him finish in an impressive 6th place. Caroline Searle was a little further along the south coast enjoying the sunshine but not the slippery grass at Lymington Woodside parkrun with a time of 27:21. Making an escape from the most bombed ‘Boom Boom’ hotel (fact courtesy of Paul Carlisle) was Paul Hollidge and Debs Cubberley at Ormeau parkrun in Belfast. This was a busy parkrun with a similar amount of runners to Colchester attending however thankfully only a few gradual up and downs. 21:52 saw Hollidge finish in 37th place with his better half, Cubberley finishing in 26:33. Rounding off this weeks parkrun jetsetters is Richard Moor at Holkham parkrun in Norfolk who was the third male finisher with a time of 20:56.

Sunday saw a bad day at the office for our usual marathon man, Paul Blackwell, who sadly didn’t manage to run the marathon distance he had hoped for due to some niggles but still got a fantastic medal for 16.5 miles at The Groovy Baby Challenge.

Bungay Festival of Running was a popular choice of race for the club Sunday which I’m sure has nothing to do with the free beer at the end. Stopping the clock dead on 44:00 in the 10km race was third lady home, our very own Sam Godden. Moving onto the hilly half marathon distance, Ryan Day earned himself another club champ by taking 01:25:16 to race the 13.1 miles. Luke Groves made a school boy error of forgetting his sacred running watch but it didn’t stop him achieving 02:04:23. Rounding up the Great Bentley representatives in the half marathon is John Bush who tackled the hills well but says he struggled after 8 miles, finishing in 02:36:49. The final race offered at Bungay was a marathon and we had two out on the course with Frank Gardiner finishing in 04:44:09 and Gemma Colling with 04:58:10.

Our last racer of the weekend is Andy Stephens who also took on a marathon, opting for one slightly further afield. He was very happy with his time of 03:48:04 and enjoyed the sun and support from the crowds.


[Andy Stephens enjoying a pint after the Manchester marathon]

And finally a big thank you to Rodger Alexander who put on the first of this years trail events and even sorted out a beautiful day weather wise. Lots of runners made their trail run debut and I’m certain they will be back for more!