So just how did we get through March so quickly?  The beautiful blue skies and promise of more daylight running hours certainly has put an added an extra spring into the Bentley Ladies trainers; with hard winter months training paying off as proven by the weekly race reports.  So firstly, a huge ‘thank you’ must go to all those Bentley Ladies who put on these weekly training sessions/social runs and to Caroline Searle for creating Doodle Polls whilst also, I understand, setting 7 times tables as additional homework for track sessions.  Ladies you must be extremely proud seeing fellow runners follow your plans and advice and getting faster, fitter and stronger – I am sure I have heard this somewhere before, but it’s so true – a plan and encouragement goes such a long way! As does wearing a new Bentley blue vest with your name on – so Grainne Hallahan have you got yours yet, clearly the colour will suit you?

As many of you know Eileen Shafford (our Club Treasurer) has recently had a hip operation – we are so pleased to learn that the operation was successful – on that note ladies, beware – Eileen will come back even faster and stronger, of that I am certain!  Rest up for now Eileen – we really look forward to seeing you soon.

Well the Spring race session has certainly got underway – for some ladies they just could not hang up their cross-country shoes and travelled hundreds of miles towards Devon looking for knee deep mud and hills aplenty.  Yes, we are talking ‘The Grizzly’ on the 6th of March apparently named after Grizzly Bars produced in a factory by John Barrington.  As a bit of background … the race started in the village of Beer in 1988 with just 27 runners covering a 6 mile course.  Within a few years though the race has grown both in distance and runners and moved to nearby Seaton with two distances – 20 miles and the ‘Cub’ distance of 9 miles.  Our brave ladies took on the mud and mountainous terrain with Vicky Presland winning the 20 mile race in an astonishing 3.20.35 along with Sarah Davidson and Kathy Bishop. Whilst continuing her 50th birthday celebrations in earnest Vicki Law, armed with a chocolate cake to feed all, took on the 9 mile challenge alongside Super Mum Barbara Law, Lindsay Buttery, Caroline Talbot, Emma Welham, Donna Harris, Maddison Allen – I do believe for some there was even a post-race glass of Prosecco or two and a hot tub involved – now that is style.  Well done ladies – tempted, yes although hot-tub not has not been included in the race description.

Nearer to home Sue Wray completed the Colchester Kawasaki self-navigation 10 mile route in a great time of 1.47.  Meera Rajoo-Oakley meanwhile took on the challenging off-road race – Hadleigh Legacy 10k in 55.55 alongside Lenoi Harvey 1.07.10 and Michelle Auer 1.11.10.  Sue Wray completed both the trail event at Mersea Island and tried out the new park run at Old Rendelsham Forrest which apparently got a big thumbs up.  Talking of park runs Emma Wakeling smashed her 5k post operation time at Highwoods Winter Course – 34.37 subsequently bravely taking up the Great Bentley Park Run Takeover pacers role wearing the 35 min bib at Highwoods Park which, under the guidance of Yolanda Arnold, received fantastic positive feedback.  Super effort by Jo Weatherall at Highwoods Park Run too – her first of hopefully many park runs).  Please note that Emma Levett-Welham, who works for Austism Anglia, will be calling out for more volunteers this weekend (02 April) for her ‘Silly Socks’ Colchester Park Takeover so, if you are around and can volunteer please message her directly.

Other achievements this month included a chilly Chelmsford 10k where Michelle Auer achieved a 1.11.10 time and Louise Balfour once again gained a PB: 56.11 going on to win Dave Wrights Colchester 7.5 Women’s race in 1.10.48 the following week; brilliant running.  Our captain Mags did the same smashing out a further two PB’s at Tarpley 20 in 2:50:24 subsequently followed by a PB at Cambridge Half Marathon – 1.41:30 and Dave Wrights Colchester 15 miles – 1.59.47;  all makes for extremely tiring reading/typing eh?

A popular distance this month saw two other ladies travel to Brentwood to gain PBs for their half marathons – Lisa Briggs (‘Cucumber’- all will become apparent – read on) 1:54.56 and Norma Smith (under the guidance of Caroline Searle’s training plan knocked off an impressive 30 minutes) 2.10.35: that was even with the notorious ‘Death Hill’ thrown in!

Going a further afield, another well done to Inga Hayden Cooper on completing 5 laps of Debden Airfield in 2:58.40 – 5 times with flying feet too – I assume you have to maintain flying feet whilst running around an airfield?

As the facebook photos show – beautiful proud smiles filled ‘Awards Night’ last week as our very own Bentley ‘Cucumber’, I mean Newcomer, the lovely Lisa Briggs received the ‘Newcomer’ prize.  Justine Sheekey took the prize for Geoff Day Female and Caroline Talbot for the Mickey Edwards series.  Vicky Presland picked up ‘I Trailed Them All’ as well as ‘Best Performance’ at Hangers Heroes Trail Marathon whilst Deborah Hollidge following in her fast footsteps, deservedly scooped up two trophies herself for ‘Female Vet’ and ‘Most Improved Runner of the Year’.  I think we would all agree that there really could only be one winner of ‘Runner of the Year’ and that went to our Captain who has continued to lead from the front notching up PB after PB in everything she has done this year.  What fantastic achievements Bentley Ladies, well done all! 

Questions of the month: Norma Smith

Age category: 55 – 59
Occupation: Retired but Insurance career before that
How long have you been in GBRC for? 6 months (so glad I joined)
The silliest thing you did on a race: Well I’ve only run 3 road races & 2 XC so far & being a newbie I take them very seriously BUT……. I broke the golden rule & decided to wear my new trainers for Brentwood Half having only trotted 3 miles around the village in them beforehand. Luckily they were super comfy & had go faster stripes getting me a PB !
Favourite distance: Half Marathon. I only started running in the August before lockdown & I never in a million years thought I’d be able to run a Half. I still grin every time I do
Best achievement: Has to be the Bentley Half Marathon. I lost my running mojo & confidence big time last year & joining the club really helped me pull through. I felt so privileged to get a ballot place that I wanted to do the club & myself proud. Caroline kindly prepared a training plan for me, which I followed with such discipline & on the day I managed to knock over 30 mins off my last half time coming in at 2:15. Although I got another PB at Brentwood of 2:10 Bentley still holds that special place in my heart
What’s your ultimate running goal: To run a Marathon ! In my dreams I used to think but you lot have inspired me so much. I’m 60 this year so feel like I should do something special therefore I’ve signed up for Chelmsford in October
Favourite medal/t-shirt and what for: That will be my first ever medal & was for running the Orbital with Running Colchester. I didn’t see the point of medals until I got my first one, I felt like Muttley from Wacky Races (those that know, know!) It’s my favourite route & I even managed to do it in reverse without getting lost. I’ve only had one race t-shirt (Brentwood) & was amazed it actually fit me. Of course favourite t-shirt has to be my Bentley blue
Interests other than running: My allotment, gardening, anything to do with wildlife & nature
Favourite & Worst events and why: XC – Marmite. Actually I can’t wait until next season
Most challenging event and why: Bentley Half. I gave it my all in horrendous weather conditions & couldn’t walk down the stairs for 3 days after. Mentally it was a big thing for me to run it & I felt like a different person as a result. So a big thank you to everyone for organising it so well & for cheering me on.
Most useful running information you can share: Well as a newbie I haven’t got much to share but thankfully I’m getting great tips from all of you. One thing I have found amazing though is running without a watch. A wonderful sense of freedom in just letting your body guide you & gives you a chance to take in the surroundings.

Runner of the Month

This month Maddy Allen has been nominated as Runner of the Month. Together with Milly Presland these inspiring young ladies have taken it upon themselves to raise money for the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis running 4km every 4 hours for 48 hours.  The statistics literally speak for themselves as Maddy has averaged just 3 hours sleep and running 48.9 km – an amazing achievement for such a worthwhile cause which is affecting so many innocent people. Well done Maddy!

A few races I have noticed that are coming up and may either tempt you to enter or watch:
Harwich ½ Mayflower 400 Marathon – 3 April
Road Relays 5,000m – 10 April (email Meera to enter)
Bromley 10k – 17 April
Layer 5 – 24 April
Mickey Edwards Baseline – 11 May

So all that remains for me to say now is a final ‘Thank You’ on behalf of the whole ladies’ Great Bentley Team to Magdalena Komorowska for the inspiration and commitment you have shown us in your role as Captain.  You certainly have used your position positively to encourage and support others and left us all aiming for smiles and floaties at every event!  Thank you.