Daphne Hurley pulls off surprise win in final Winter 5k Handicap

5k Virtual Handicap: Daphne Hurley has been putting in some good training mileage around the streets of Worlington, with the encouragement of experienced fellow Jogger Caroline Mcintosh. It certainly seems to have paid dividends in the final April fixture of the 2020/21 Virtual 5k Winter Handicap series. Hurley managed to take 2 min 19 sec off the time achieved in her previous race in February, to finish in 33:59, her PB so far this year. ‘Coach’ Mcintosh also did well to achieve her best 5k time this year (32:32), 1 min 24 sec inside her March time, gaining herself 3rd position of the 31 participants. Splitting these two was Lisa Jennings in 2nd place (29:15), putting in a great effort to finish 1 min 59 sec quicker than her previous attempt last November. The above three Joggers all received well-deserved trophies. Next to finish in the Handicap were Kate Warboys (4th, 27:32, – 1:19), Jan Holmes (5th, 27:28, -1:17) and Mark Hayward (6th, 17:13, -0:55). Well done those runners and all who participated in the series, to make this an enjoyable and motivating challenge. Thanks especially to club secretary Sianie Painter for maintaining the entries and results spreadsheets and for all her encouragement and communication to members throughout this virtual competition.

5k Virtual Time Trial: Based on time alone, the top female participant this month was Hannah Parsons in 21:13, the fastest time recorded by a female runner in the series. Parsons was leading from the start of the series last October and has had a great season, despite all the disruption caused by the pandemic. This overall best time earns her the women’s  ‘Silver Shoe’ trophy. Second fastest was new member Rosalyn Crawford, in a very promising debut time of 24:11, with great efforts by Claire Acklam (3rd, 25:01), Rebecca Fordham (4th, 26:12), Ellie Bithell (5th, 27:08) and Jan Holmes (6th, 27:28).

For the men, fastest this month was Mark Hayward in 17:13. Good to see him coming into top form, now that there are some real, live races to compete in. Then came Jimmy Smith with an excellent run of 17:29, followed by top efforts from James Walker (3rd, 19:38), James Thomson (4th, 19:56), Phil Blundell (5th, 21:38) and Tom Elton (6th, 24:07). Fastest male runner of the series and ‘Silver Shoe’ winner was Jimmy Smith, with his phenomenal ‘unofficial’ PB of 16:23 recorded in March. Full recognition also for Chris Gay, who gave Jimmy such a run for his money throughout the series, gaining himself an ‘unofficial’ PB of 16:35 in March.

5k Age Graders: Looking at age graded performances in the Handicap this month, the top six women were: Hannah Parsons (74.08%), Claire Acklam (73.22%), Jan Holmes (65.11%), Rebecca Fordham (63.74%), Caroline Mcintosh (63.11%) and Rosalyn Crawford (61.89%). The top six men: Mark Hayward (79.09%), Jimmy Smith (78.93%), James Walker (67.91%), Clive Purbrook (67.14%), James Thomson (66.22%) and Phil Blundell (65.18%). Well done for all those excellent achievements.

Hopefully, the real live version of the Winter 5k Handicap will be back in full swing for the 2021/22 series, starting this autumn in October.

Colchester Harriers 15, Sunday 18th April: Jimmy and Nicole Smith ran in the Colchester Harriers 15M road race on Sunday 18th April, starting at Langham in Essex, covering 2 laps of a similar route to the better known Langham 10K. It was billed as the only 15 mile road race in Essex and ideal as preparation for a spring marathon. Of course there is also the well-established Benfleet 15M trail race in Essex, which normally takes place in mid January but was cancelled this year due to Covid-19. Some use that for early marathon preparation too. Jimmy (1:29:51) and Nicole (2:23:42) enjoyed very good runs, in cool, sunny weather. It was Nicole’s first ever 15 mile race, so an automatic PB for her. She showed good pace with no weakening at all over the distance, which is a big confidence booster for her. It was also a fine PB for Jimmy, who has run in the Benfleet 15M on five occasions, as well as two other 15 mile races, including this same road race in 2019, when he clocked his previous 1:32:04 PB. So, he’s beaten that time by 2 min 13 sec. Impressive, just a week or so after his huge effort in the Dorney Marathon.

Oundle 10K, 18th April: Clive Purbrook took on the Oundle 10K, which had been postponed from January due to the 3rd lockdown. He put in a top class run of 49:50 for his age group category, finishing 119th of 248 overall and earning an age grade of 69.00%. Clive has managed to maintain his form well during the pandemic crisis.

Essex Marathon, 18th April: The Essex Marathon, took place over a multi-lap course at Debden Airfield, Carver Barracks, the same place as where our Kevin Henry Saffron Striders 5k race takes place. Mark Hayward was going very well until the 20 mile marker, but then found his pace was slipping and he didn’t feel 100% fit, so wisely decided to pull out to avoid the risk of injury. His main target is the Boston (UK) Marathon at the end of May. This race was an insurance against the possibility of very hot weather in Boston and also a testing ground for his training progress. The standard of his HM and 20 mile split times was impressive though: 1:17:21 for HM (77.14% age grade) and 2:00:31 for 20 miles (77.97%). We wish him all the best for Boston and hope he can be at peak fitness on not too hot a day.