Leaping from one month to the next

February is the ugly duckling of the year: usually grey and damp and only 28 days long. But on a leap year it suddenly becomes the “cool” month, with those born on the 29th during leap years (my cousin for one) able to celebrate their “real” birthdays. 2020 was also the first time that parkrun-day fell on the 29th Feb and throngs of runners made their way to parkruns around the world to celebrate the occasion. Our Bentley Blues were not immune to the allure of a “special date” and descended upon several parkruns to partake in the glorious celebration of running that is parkrun.

Highwoods parkrun prove to be the most popular choice for the blue vests. Dave Jones got himself a Highwoods PB with a time of 28:31 despite the course being very wet and sludgy. Justine Sheekey, still feeling under the weather, finished as the second lady after Milly, who forgot her barcode. Paul Connell volunteered to help with Tesco car park duties which meant he was also able to run. He started towards the back to finish 10th in a time of 22:23. Vicky Presland was not far behind completing the course in 23:42. Phil Presland got round in 26:03 whilst having a good chinwag with Paul Hollidge and Derek. Captain Scott Young also favoured the muddy route, running with Mags and finishing in 29:40.

Vying for the attention of the Colchester-based runners was CCPR which this week featured twice in the “part of a longer run” movie. David Wright finished in 15th place with a time of 20:40. Emma Wakeling got round in around 29 minutes (no barcode, no time – them the rules!) chatting to Wixy and mostly enjoying the run apart for the little matter of the torrential rain and hailstones.

At Harwich parkrun Mark Harris enjoyed a “gentle breeze” during the 28:05 duration of his run whilst Anna Young found that the “breeze” helped her on the way home as she tabbed the course with a 12kg rucksack in a time of 33:29. That’s an extreme way to avoid being blown away by the wind!


Anna Young tabbing at Harwich parkrun

Also on the coast Clacton promenade did not enjoy the best running conditions either. Jason Cook defined the conditions as horrible but admitted he strangely enjoyed them and went on to claim the coveted winner (sorry! Not a race) first finisher spot in 20:04.

Martin Owen was up in Suffolk checking that his ankle had finally healed in a wet and windy Ipswich parkrun, which he did in 24:09.

But Saturday had more in store for Bentley runners that, not happy with getting round 5k in the morning, made their way to several other events.

Scott Young swap running partners and headed to the Chilly Chappel Chase with Tomasz Komorowski and Sam Beardsell. They thought it was an excellent run and got round the self-navigating 5-mile trail together in the glorious mud to finish with a beer at the Winter Beer Festival. Running is thirsty work after all!

Magdalena Komorowska for her part didn’t stay at home waiting for hubby to be back but headed to the Hare & Tortoise “the 29th” run completing 10 miles in 1:26:14 and claiming the 3rd lady podium spot. Anthea Colsell also ran the very windy and very muddy course in 1:35:09, finishing 6th lady and claiming a Bronze Standard.  Mark Harris and Anna Young also made their way there after Harwich parkrun. Mark completed the 10 miles in a time of 1:41:00 and Anna, battling with pollen, mud and hailstones, in 1:53:21.

And with that February ended with a bang and March, the gateway to spring, arrived cold but dry. Whilst many Bentley Blues took part in the training session organised by Coach Caroline with Olympian Paul Evans, others took part in organised events. Paul and Sarah Davison both decided to run Essex 20 in its new Rochford location. Sarah finished in a time of 2:58:33 and Paul in 02:27:00, achieving a Silver Standard in the process.

Hélène Tyler decided to “canicross” the 5 miles of Craig’s Layer Narrative Trail. She thought it was a lovely event and very well organised, with plenty of water, woods and very, very muddy.


Hélène and her four-legged companion

It seems that Tomasz has no concept of a rest day as he was out and about in the Hannington Hike. This is a LDWA challenged organised by Beds, Bucks and Norths local groups and consisted of 27 miles with three check-points and friendly marshals. Tomasz enjoyed a good variety of food on the hike and a hot meal at the finish. Despite the tough-going though fields, footpaths and bridleways that have been made muddy with the recent rain, Tomasz thought it was overall a great event.


Tomasz at the Hannington Hike

To conclude this report I would just like to spare a thought to those affected by the covid-19, which was the reason for the cancellation of the Paris Half Marathon. As we approach peak training time for spring marathons I am sure that many of us worry that events might get cancelled as authorities seek to contain the spread of the virus. Frustrating as cancellations are, sometimes they are needed. That does not need to stop your training but perhaps you’ll be more aware of how lucky we are of being healthy (injuries aside) and being able to go running to our heart’s content.  So go on! Keep running! But don’t forget to wash your hands.