Snow, Mud and Trail

It’s been a relatively mild start to January so far, but this week’s race report starts with some snow. On Saturday Lee Clarkson traveled to the Arctic circle to take part in Norway’s most popular winter race: the Tromso Polar Night Half Marathon. It is currently the Polar night period, meaning that there are only around two hours of daylight per day. By the time Lee toed the start line at 3 p.m. the city was in darkness. If the conditions were right, the runners could expect to see the Northern Lights. Lee takes up the story:

“Running in below zero temperatures and on snow requires layers and trail shoes. After a warm up, which proved runners are not all that coordinated when it comes to dancing, runners set off. It was dark but the snow all around reflected the lights and there were candles lining up the finish line, making it a very pretty sight. Sadly it was overcast so the northern lights didn’t come to cheer the runners up, but the snow held till the end of the race, so Mother Nature was kind to us.”

Lee completed the snow-laden course in 1:59:11 and took a hitherto vacant club champs place in the process.

The start of the Tromso Polar Night Half Marathon

Lee Clarkson post-race

Running in less extreme conditions were this weekend’s band of Bentley parkrunners. At Clacton Seafront parkrun Ray Baggs ran another sub-20, crossing the line in 19:44. Ray was second finisher, just six seconds behind the first runner home. Emma Welham ran a new parkrun PB, completing the 5k coastal route in 33:46. Sandra James (35:55), Alison Clarke (30:51), Brian Telford (23:47) and Robert Thorpe (26:41) completed the Bentley representation.

At Colchester Castle parkrun Nick Goodman ran a new course PB when he crossed the line in 23:00. Richard Moor continued his run of ever improving times following his knee surgery, crossing the line in 23:33, some 23 seconds faster than his New Year’s Day run at the same venue. Claire Groves ran her fastest parkrun since the birth of baby Noah, crossing the line in 26:11.

Castle Park regulars Scott Young (28:48), Claudia Keitch (28:50), Magdalena Komorowska (26:53) and Tomasz Komorowski (26:54) all embraced those undulations that they love so much. Ryan Day bagged a sub-20 and top-ten finish, completing the challenging route in 19:24. Also helping to make Colchester Castle the most popular parkrun amongst Bentley runners this weekend were Sue Sorrell (31:01), Russell Clarke (25:47) and Tricia Stacey (26:18).

At Harwich parkrun Antoinette Wilson was second female finisher in 24:42. There were a trio of Bentley first timers at Great Notley parkrun. Meera Rajoo-Oakley was first home in 28:13, closely followed by Deborah Cubberley (28:34) and Paul Hollidge (28:34). parkrun Tourism this week came courtesy of Caroline Searle, who completed Princes parkrun, Liverpool in 26:14.

There was only one Bentley representative at Colchester junior parkrun this week. Angel Jasper paced her run perfectly, ending with a sprint finish and dipping under ten minutes, with a time of 9:55. She was also the first female finisher, the second time she has achieved this at the event.

The Bentley representation (minus Russ) at that Essex Cross Country Championships

There was more running to come for our three parkrunners at Great Notley, for also on Saturday, Great Notley Country Park hosted the Essex Cross Country Championships. A total of eight Great Bentley runners competed in the annual event. The course consisted of a churned-up, muddy 4k loop, which the ladies’ race covered a twice (8k), and the men’s race covered three times (12k). Bentley fielded two ladies, both of whom finished in the top 100. Debs finished in 97th place, and Meera finished in 65th. Meera reported that the route was very similar to the 53-12 route, which allowed her to compare her time to her last running of that event. Happy with her 38:12 finish, Meera was left looking forward to the National at Parliament Hill next month. Unfortunately four scorers were needed to get on the team table, and so the ladies’ team didn’t get a final position.

Charlie Keitch gliding his way round the Essex Cross Country Championships

Great Bentley entered six runners into the men’s race. Adam Smith was first home in 47th position. Russ Sharp wasn’t far behind in 70th. Charlie Keitch earned a top-100 finish, taking 99th spot, and Paul Connell (111th), rounded off the scoring. Paul Hollidge (154th) and Frank Gardiner (196th) completed the Bentley representation. The men’s team score of 677 saw them finish in 19th place out of 25 teams. Overall the race received positive reviews with most runners saying they would enter it again next year.

Our three runners at the Kings Forest 10k

On Sunday three Bentley runners took part in the Kings Forest 10k. The one-lap 10k trail race took place at West Stow Country Park in Suffolk. Our three runners ran together, Magdalena Komorowska was first across the line in 1:03:33. Tomasz Komorowski was one second behind her in 1:03:34, and Anthea Colsell was one second behind Tomasz in 1:01:35. The event organisers have described the race as a ‘one off (at the moment)’. That concludes this week’s race report. Good luck to all racing this coming weekend!