Hard slog for runners

Simon Jackson from Fairlands Valley Spartans was a happy man despite running in floods, some more than ankle deep, strong winds and hills. He improved his personal best time by more than two minutes in Sunday s Oakley 20-mile road race in Bedfordshire. Hi

Simon Jackson from Fairlands Valley Spartans was a happy man despite running in floods, some more than ankle deep, strong winds and hills.

He improved his personal best time by more than two minutes in Sunday's Oakley 20-mile road race in Bedfordshire.

His time of 2-09:58 improved on the 2-12:01 which he ran at Bury St Edmunds only three weeks ago. He was 11th out of 684 finishers.

Another big improver was Andrew Hull whose 2-49:19 was a six-minute improvement and saw him finish 23rd.


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Times: Simon Jackson 2-09:58 pb, Todd Gray 2-20:00, Jim Brown 2-30:23, Andrew Hull 2-49:19 pb, Sara O'Callaghan 2-51:19, Rob Shaw 3-03:08, Nick Stewart 3-05:48.

Paul Maguire ran the Wendover Woods Tough Challenge Half Marathon which had rain, mud and 3,000ft of climbing.

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There were ropes attached to the trees at the top to help people climb to the top and he sludged around eventually in 2-37.

The Charnwood Off Road Marathon was on minor roads, tracks, fields, footpaths, stiles and gates, plus the odd hill or two. It was based on Quorn in Leicestershire.

Times: Mike Newbitt 5-35:02, Robert Hardy 6-14:52, Dave Carter 6-54:09.

Four Spartans were in Kent for the Sevenoaks 30 and 20-mile off road events around the North Downs from Sevenoaks and like all other events on Sunday, it was cold, wet and windy!

Times: Roger Biggs 7-06:25, Kevin Lawlor and Dave Paul 7-17, Carol Paul (20-mile option) 4-31.

* Fourteen members of North Herts Road Runners, in training for spring marathons, were at the Oakley 20-mile race.

Despite the inclement weather, several Squirrels were very pleased with their performances.

Catherine Marsden Jones, in training for the Hamburg Marathon, finished in just over three hours in 3-02:16 with Rachel Annetts, in training for the London Marathon, also pleased with her time of 3-13:12.

Melissa Winters conquered her bogey race to finish at the third time of asking in 2-23:48.

Other finishers were: John Russell 2-18:00, Richard Thackeray 2-19:48, Jane Chappell 2-25:47, Stewart Bryant 2-30:25, Howard Davis 2-33:41, James Walsh 2-39:31, Michael Mello 2-41:30, Chris Priestley 2-56:23, David Benson 3-25:20, Lindsay Cook 3-25:33 and Nicola Blake 3-33:50.

Further afield, the first spring marathon took place in Rome.

Jo Summers came agonisingly close to breaking the club record for her category finishing in a new personal best of 3-33:58. Jean-Marc Beloulou took part in his first marathon and was clearly inspired by the Italian capital completing the race in 4-34:59.

Sunday was a popular day for half marathons with North Herts members in Hastings and Bath.

In Hastings, Steve Taplin returned to racing form to complete the tough half marathon in 1-38 finishing strongly with a negative split.

And in Bath, two of the club's leading runners raced against more than 10,000 other runners.

In a high quality field, husband and wife team Astrid and Steve McKeown more than held their own.

Steve finished in 125th position overall in a time of 1-19:13. Astrid set a new club record of 1-20:17 to finish in 150th place in the race and only a few seconds outside her personal best.

* FVS Tri's Brian White won first Vet 50 in the Spring Ballbuster Duathlon based around Box Hill in Dorking, Surrey.

The five-lap race is tough with each eight-mile lap including an ascent of Box Hill which was shrouded in early morning mist for the start.

His total time of 3-02:47 comprised 47:45 for the first run lap, 1-20:32 on the three-lap bike and 53:50 for the final run to give an overall 16th place from 200 starters.

Four members of FVS Tri entered the third and final circuit race in the Team MK Season Starter series.

David Hard and Jon Gillham were joined by first timers Mark Racher and Mark Grayson for the one hour plus five lap race which averaged 24.7mph on the MK Bowl circuit.

Mark Grayson had to retire mid race but David, Jon and Mark Racher were all involved in the bunch sprint finish.

Robbie Laughton competed in South Africa in The Cape Argus Cycle Tour over a 70-mile closed road course.

He finished in 3-00:42 in 1,822nd position from more than 38,000 starters with a 65th category position from 616.

The race was action packed with 80 recorded crashes and 43 hospitalisations!

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