Marathon Efforts? Not Half!
This past weekend saw Harborough AC runners tackle a variety of terrains, taking on both the tarmac surface of the streets of both Leicester and Peterborough, as well as the slightly more uneven lands of Markeaton Park in Derbyshire. The latter of these, on Saturday, was the host venue for the opening fixture for this season’s North Midlands Cross Country Series, and bore witness to a strong club turnout. Leading the charge in the Men’s race was Sean Fenwick, placing ninth (in a time of 33:44), with Will Clapp not too far behind in 30th (36:08). He was followed home by Martin Gore (56th, 37:34), Adam Brooks (72nd, 38:17), John Thompson (168th, 44:14), David Ward (223rd, 49:15), Steve Sawford (232nd, and in 54:57 on his club debut), and Dave Oram (242nd, 59:45). A very impressive showing sees the Club sit top of the Men’s Veteran league after this first race in the Series. In the women’s event, Karen Brooks (43rd, in 30:23), Sarah Ward (84th, 33:24), Lianne Brooks (94th, 34:24), and Lin Farrow (114th, 38:51) all acquitted themselves with strong displays that dispelled the long track season that they have all had, placing the Club 15th in the team standings. In the Under 11 race, the Watson twins proved their collective mettle exerts beyond the track, with 12th and 17th places for Niamh and Mollie respectively.
The following day, the road-runners were out in force across both the Great Eastern Run, and the Leicester Half- and full Marathon. While the previous day had been dominated by stories of marches around the city, Sunday saw a far more brisk pace executed by the three HAC athletes taking on the 26.2 mile route around Leicester. First back from the Club’s perspective, and in 119th place overall, and 13th woman, was Debbie Napier, in a strong time of 3 hours 32 minutes 32 seconds. Just behind her, in 124th position was the ever-committed Shane Edge, in 3:33:23. Completing the Club trio was Paul Russell, in a time of 3:43:33, placing 171st in a field of 578 finishers.
Over half that distance, Kevin Dinsdale, Sean Maxwell, and Rachel Marriott pitted themselves against the strides of a further 2,056 runners. Finishing in that order, Kevin clocked 1:46:11, for 488th, with Sean a little back in 1:58:00 (1,030th), and Rachel in 2:05:37 (1,334th).
Sunday was also the day for the Perkins Great Eastern Run – also held over the half-marathon distance – and for which the warm autumn conditions clearly suited the HAC approach, with four of the six representatives recording new personal bests! In a race won by Kenyan Edwin Kipyego – with a world-standard time of 62:16 – the club was headed by yet another spirited performance from Ady King, who crossed the line in 75th position, with a PB of 1:21:14. A little over four minutes further down the field was Jason Pitcher, with 1:25:41 for 136th. Tony Harrison then reinforced his return to action, with 418th place in 1:36:07. Their collective female Club counterparts were certainly not to be outdone, with all three registering lifetime best runs! Jackie King continued the progress that held her as the Club’s Most Improved athlete for the past 12 months, coming home in 1:55:36 for 1,438th, while Jo Johnston proved typically resolute in 1,990th place with 2:06:26. Yvonne Barber marked her debut outing at the 13.1 mile distance with a determined run of 2:42:51 for 3,016th place overall.
A little further afield, and Matt Driver marked his debut at the half marathon distance with a very impressive time of 1 hour 23 minutes 51 seconds to take 25th in the Congleton Half, from a field of some 674 runners.