A marathon effort

There will be almost 40 members of North Herts Road Runners competing in European big city marathons over the next few weeks. Five members are starting off with a trip to Italy for the Rome Marathon this Sunday. With Flora London Marathon places becoming

There will be almost 40 members of North Herts Road Runners competing in European big city marathons over the next few weeks.

Five members are starting off with a trip to Italy for the Rome Marathon this Sunday.

With Flora London Marathon places becoming increasingly hard to obtain, many members of the Letchworth-based club are looking to other city races as a viable alternative.

Apart from those journeying to Rome, nine are running at Paris, two at Rotterdam, one in Zurich and culminating with more than 20 competing at the London event on April 23.

Expectations vary across the club with many members attempting their first marathons.

But there will be an eye on the ladies' club record with Paula Adams, Melissa Winters and Suzy Crowe all capable of getting near the time of 3-13:04 set by Adams in London two years ago. All three ladies are running at London.

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Getting under the three-hour mark is the target for several men with Gary Cook, as well as veterans Pete Sibbett and Richard Harbon all looking to achieve the feat at London, with Kevin Ferry hoping to do likewise in the French capital two weeks earlier.

Among those attempting the distance for the first time are Jo Summers and Keiron McGill (Rome), Lysa Ralph (Paris), Claire Messenger, Clive Adams and Marion Yeeles (London) and Joanne DeBoise and Catherine Marsden-Jones (Rotterdam).

Many charities will benefit as a result, including Children with Leukaemia, Starlight Children's Foundation and British Blind Sport (Athletics) in memory of prominent club member and Paralympian Paul Pearce who was tragically killed last month.

Two Squirrels dipped under 90 minutes for the first time at half-marathons at Bath and Silverstone on Sunday.

Veteran Mark Young travelled to Avon for the 25th Bath Half-Marathon and recorded a time of 1-28:44 over a two-lap windswept course around the city centre.

Young was delighted to join the sub- 1-30 club as was James Brooke who led home a handful of Squirrels at the Adidas/Flora Half-Marathon around the Silverstone Formula One race track.

Brooke knocked more than seven minutes off his previous best to complete the 13.1 miles in 1-28:28.

Mike Mello was the second member of the club to finish putting in a solid performance to finish in 1-32:15.

There were further personal bests for Graham Thompson (1-57:03), Natalie Simmonds (1-59:15) and from Marion Yeeles who reduced her previous time by more than 12 minutes to cross the line in 2-12:23.

The big participation event for Fairlands Valley Spartans was their pre-London Marathon training run.

With five weeks to go to the big day, around 50 runners took part on a beautiful spring day.

They completed distances up to 21 miles on a course, with optional loops, between John Henry Newman Leisure Centre, Rableyheath and Codicote.

If you would like to find out more about the club's London Marathon training sessions, contact Paul Holgate on 07764 237659, paul.holgate@bt.com or visit www.fvspartans.org.uk

Andrew Patterson improved his time by more than three minutes at the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon on the world famous F1 circuit.

He finished in a superb 1-24:29 and he was 100th out of 5,004 runners.

Jim Brown was 193rd, and fifth out of 80 supervets, in 1-28:49.

Roger Biggs extended his series of best since the 20th century runs to seven consecutive weekends when he ran the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday.

The 57-year-old's time was 1-36:40 - the best since 1999.