The Start of the Autumn Racing Season

The astronomical season of spring may still be a few days away, but the days are certainly getting shorter, and the weather has been positively autumnal. With the cooler temperatures promising the opportunity for PBs, and a variety of attractive races for our members to take part in, it was a busy weekend for our running club.

This week’s race report starts on Saturday morning when Meera Rajoo-Oakley and Frank Gardiner ran the fifth and final event of the Essex Cross Country 10k Series. This month’s 10k race took place at Weald Park. Going into the race both of our runners were on course for silverware. In this competition trophies are awarded to the top five in each category. After four races Frank was sitting in third position in his league, and Meera was fifth in hers.

Both had solid performances in the final race, with Meera finishing ninth lady in 48:49, and more importantly finishing ahead of the lady who was sitting in sixth place in the league. Frank finished in 52:46, finishing fifth in his category in this final race. Frank and Meera left before the trophy ceremony, so they didn’t know whether they had secured their coveted award-winning positions. Unfortunately, at the time of going to press the final positions still haven’t been published.

It was a relatively quiet week for Bentley runners at parkrun. There were just two Bentley runners at Colchester Castle parkrun. James McCullagh (26:57) took the run easy in preparation for a 10k race the next day. Nicholas Goodman had run his all time parkrun PB at Mersea Island the weekend before, finishing in 23:30. This week at Colchester he scored a joint-all time parkrun PB, matching the Mersea time to the second!

Clacton Seafront was once again this week’s most popular parkrun venue amongst Great Bentley Running Club members, with five taking part. The seemingly ever present Ray Baggs was the first Bentley runner to cross the line, finishing in 20:03. Dave Nugent (43:33), Catherine Ott (28:50), Davina Swindell (26:06) and Brian Telford (27:38) completed the Bentley representation.

This week two Bentley runners completed the free weekly timed 5k at Mersea Island. Luke Groves (26:59) ran with pet dog Meatball, while wife Claire and son Noah watched on. Helene Tyler ran a course PB of 31:45, despite a brief pause to get back to her feet after loosing her footing. There were also two human and one canine Bentley runners at Harwich this weekend Ben Ficken (and Janice, 20:03) and Malcolm Jarvis (21:29).


This week’s parkrun tourism came courtesy of Debs Cubberley and Paul Hollidge, who ran Ashford parkrun in Kent in 25:56 and 25:57 respectively. The course was celebrating its 200th parkrun event and our tourists finished in 100th and 101st places, with Paul completing his 125th parkrun.

Moving on to Sunday morning and there was a sea of Bentley blue congregating in Langham for that morning’s races. There were three race distances: 2k, 5k and 10k, and Bentley runners took part in all three. The first race of the morning was the 2k race. Chloe Iddon improved on her time from last year’s event by 1 minute, finishing in 16:21. Sister Megan Hughes finished in a speedy 10:39.

Also in the 2k Thomas Colsell improved on his time from last year by over 20 seconds, crossing the line in 10:06. Yasmin Leek clocked 13:27, and Rufus Keitch made his dad Charlie work to keep up with his sprint finish, as he recorded a 14:01.

Next up was the 5k race and three Bentley runners competed. David Iddon clocked a solid 27:58. Helene Tyler missed out on her targetted bronze standard time, finishing in 32:04. ‘Sad but good race’ was how Helene summed up her morning’s work. David Wright finished 6th overall in an impressive 18:21.

By far the most popular race of the day was the longest running of the three events – the Langham 10k. Twenty Bentley runners toed the start line of the (mostly) flat and fast 10k route in search of PB’s and standards. One such runner was Helen Carey. Relatively new to the club, Helen achieved her first club standard when she finished in 47:49. This impressive time was good enough for a rare diamond standard.

Helen Carey running a diamond standard time at the Langham 10k

Also running an impressive diamond standard time was Eileen Shadford. Eileen must be getting used to diamond standards by now, but her time of 47:22 was also her fastest 10k since 2013, and it earned her a place in the club champs. Gemma camp secured a silver standard in her new age category with her 49:17 finish. Barbara Law clocked a 63:47 finish and an age group win in the process.

Age group winner Barbara Law collects her prize post race at the Langham 10k

Tim Ballard was hoping for his first sub-40 minute 10k, and after crossing the finish line he was confident that he had achieved that, clocking 39:52 on his watch. However, technical issues with the chip timing mat at the start meant that the only official finishing times available were gun-to-chip. The result of this was that most Bentley runners found their times several seconds slower than their watches, as they didn’t start their watches until they approached the timing mat at the start. The results were given to hundredths of a second, and when looked at in this way Tim achieved his goal, crossing the line with a gun-to-chip time of 39:59.55.

Hot on Tim’s heels was Jake Darkins who finished in 40:33. Scott Young wished to improve on his 50:08 finish from the Takely 10k the previous week. Charlie Keitch offered to pace him and the pair achieved their goal, crossing the line in 49:38. Also running together for the majority of the race were Matt Jones and Colin Farmer. Both aiming for a sub-43 minute finish the pair clocked 42:49 and 42:53 respectively.

Bentley runners at the Langham 10k

Leoni Harvey (62:10) ran her first race in over ten months and was delighted to run pain-free. James McCullagh underestimated his fitness and surprised himself with a 45:29 finish. The Bentley representation was completed by Kevin James (49:30), Sandra James (73:17), Alison Clarke (69:16), Jennifer Aylen (49:11), Eric Shaw (52:30), Hien Hoang (53:15), Sam Godden (58:23) and Lara Townsend (56:24).

Hien approaching the finish line at the Langham 10k

Also on Sunday morning was the Brightlingsea Jog, Walk, Run. A 4 mile (or 4.25 miles according to Ben Ficken’s GPS watch) event organised to raise money for the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance service. Ben Ficken (and Janice) finished in (joint) second place overall in 29:22. Joining Ben in the event were fellow Bentley runners Mark Crittenden (43:27), Peter Reeve (46:36), Rita Page (55:17) and Dave Nugent (60:37).

Sunday was also the day of the 37th annual running of the world’s biggest half marathon – the Great North Run. Seven Bentley runners were among the nearly 54,000 finishers of the 13.1 mile race from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields.

An enjoyable time appears to have been had by all. John Bush lamented a course personal worst after finishing in 2:49:33, but said he still ‘enjoyed the run and great atmosphere’. Bee Palmer-Barnes had a strong run, finishing in 2:28:45. Anthea Colsell finished in 2:11:35 and said ‘far from a PB or a standard, but that wasn’t what today was about’. Darren Willey ran with Anthea, clocking a 2:11:34 finish.

Anthea and Darren donning their Great North Run finishers’ medals

Also running the Great North Run together were Chusa Batis and Lee Clarkson. Returning from injury (Chusa recorded just 7 miles run in the whole of August), the pair crossed the finish line holding hands in a scene which must have been reminiscent of that inaugural London Marathon all those years ago. Their official times were 1:54:47 (Chusa) and 1:54:46 (Lee).

Chusa and Lee following the Great North Run on Sunday.

Ade Cherry had a tough time of it. Returning from injury his two aims for the race were to complete it at a sensible pace (target 10-minutes per mile), and not to get injured. He reports that he was on target for the first eight miles, at which point calf cramp resulted in a visit to the first aid tent.

Determined to avoid a DNF, once able to, Ade pushed on and didn’t stop again, save for a brief refreshment stop at the mile 11 beer station. Once suitably refuelled, Ade hit the road again and managed to finish in a time slightly faster than his original target – crossing the line in 2:10:51. Despite his misfortune, Ade’s feedback from the field included the phrases ‘what an occasion’ and ‘despite my biscuit legs, I loved the GNR’.

Also running a half marathon this weekend was Sarah Fletcher, who competed in the New Forest Half Marathon. The event began at the New Forest Showground in Brockenhurst, and then set off on a circular multi-terrain route consisting largely of forest trails, but with some short road sections. Only recently returning from a stress fracture, Sarah recorded an impressive 1:48:26 finish for the challenging 13.1 mile route, earning herself a silver standard in the process.