Jill Howard earns well-deserved win in January virtual 5k Winter Handicap.

The Newmarket Joggers January virtual Winter 5k Handicap was run over any local 5k route of each participant’s choosing, from Jan 4th to Jan 10th 2021, with the position of each finisher determined not by time alone but by the improvement in each runner’s time compared with their previous attempt.

Jill Howard reaped a well-deserved reward for her commitment to training, finishing first of 34 entrants in 31:54, -3:11 (=3 minutes 11 seconds inside her previous attempt). In the Winter Handicap to date, Jill has recorded 37:10 (Oct), 35:05 (Nov) and now 31:54 (Jan), so is certainly on the upgrade. She was training hard in Stuart Janes’ bubble group, with a lot of mileage in the lead-up to the Bury to Clare 18 mile race last December (in which she performed very well) and has also been doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) over the same period, so all her dedication has paid off. Her next target is a marathon for 2021.

Jill Howard, winner of the virtual NJ Winter 5k Handicap.

Next came Sara Kinston in 2nd, 30:35 (-2:25), followed by Baz Colley 3rd, 25:00, (-1:35),  Rebecca Fordham 4th, 26:01 (-1:04), Emma Reader 5th, 33:27 (-0:44) and James Thomson 6th, 20:03 (-0:41).

Going by time alone, the finishing order for the men this month was 1st Jimmy Smith 16:59, 2nd Chris Gay 17:25 and 3rd Neil Pollard 18:29. It was noble gesture for Pollard to declare his effort ‘hors concours’, even though it represented a 75%+ diamond standard age-graded performance, the envy of most runners in the club. It might have given him an advantage in the February 5k handicap standings, so was a generous declaration. With 16:49 to his name in 2020 and a PB of 16:11 in 2019, Neil is probably only going to be content with something less than 17 minutes, preferably comfortably less.

Neil Pollard….aiming to take the lead in the men’s Winter 5k series time trial when the time is right?

For the women, Hannah Parsons was taking a bye this month and it was great to see Claire Acklam (25:14) secure 1st place on time alone, despite being in the 55-59 age category, an amazing achievement. Then came Rebecca Fordham (26:01) in 2nd and Ellie Bithell (26:48) in 3rd.

Besides the handicap competition, there are also prizes in the Winter 5k for the quickest male and female times recorded in the series. So far Chris Gay is leading male runner with a time of 16:57, narrowly ahead of Jimmy Smith on 16:59, with Neil Pollard 3rd on 18:29. For the women, Hannah Parsons reigns supreme and holds all 3 best times of  21:32, 21:49 and 21:57. She is enjoying a great run of form over the winter. Nearest rivals are Claire Acklam on 24:42 and Lisa Johnson on 25:18.

On age-graded performances, the top three female Joggers were: 1st Claire Acklam (72.59%), 2nd Jan Holmes 27:45 (64.44%) and 3rd Rebecca Fordham (64.19%). For the men, the order was: 1st Jimmy Smith (81.26%), 2nd Chris Gay (76.56%), 3rd Richard Jones 20:29 (76.08%). Richard Jones has been upping his mileage and is a notable improver this winter, running the best he has in several years, defying his age category of 55-59 in a similar way to Claire Acklam.

Nice to see that Bridget Wallwin (1:27:42) and Alison McKenzie (1:27:45) both recently participated in the virtual Thetford Forest 10k Hoohaah, running the distance on a local trail route, including a few stops along the way. The actual series of three Hoohaah 10k races at Thetford Forest, Childerley Estate and Wimpole Estate had to be cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus. The races were set to raise much-needed charitable funds, primarily for the Arthur Rank Hospice, with a very attractive set of three interlocking medals ready to be awarded, together with a smart hoodie for those running all three. The Hoohaah organisers decided recently to hold the series on a virtual “anyone, anytime, anywhere” basis in 2021, costing only £12.00 per race, to support charity and give runners the chance to earn the attractive set of medals. No official time results are being collated or published, though runners do need proof that they have completed the distance in order to receive the medals. It’s not too late to run in all three. There is currently no time limit and you will get a medal of some sort, but these specific medals are limited and will be on a first come first served basis. See:

Hoohaah 10k virtual races

The virtual Hoohaah 10k series medals, interlocking to form a running shoe.