Neil Pollard bags 1st place finish and 10K PB at Duxford

Neil Pollard achieved a 2-second 34:07 PB in the Duxford Dash 10K in Cambridgeshire on Sunday March 13th, finishing an impressive 1st of 284 runners overall and 1st of 57 in his M40 age group. Together with his PB in the Wokingham Half Marathon two weeks ago (1:13:09), this puts Neil as fastest Jogger over 10K and Half Marathon distances this year. Other Joggers to finish were Baz Colley (54:06, 107th, 26th of 50 in M50) and Orla Dockery (1:09:38, 94th F of 110), the latter competing in her first race for two and a half years. In the Duxford Dash 5K, Andrew Taylor put in a huge effort to shave 8 seconds off his PB. He clocked 20:41, finishing 5th of 118 runners overall and 2nd of 15 in M40. He intends to concentrate on 5K events this year, rather than his usual 10K focus. He was followed by Sarah Last (32:14, 32nd F of 64, 5th of 9 in F50).

Not far away, 3 Joggers were competing in the Haverhill Running Festival Half Marathon over a very tough, hilly course with around 550ft of climb. The ultra-consistent Miles Johnson was first home in 2:01:11, 39th of 62 runners overall and 2nd of 4 in M60+, followed by Lynda McCormack (2:24:09, 13th F of 23, 1st of 2 in F60+) and Emma Reader (2:44:59, 21st F). All three ran quite a bit faster in the Cambridge Half Marathon the week before; not surprising with the difficulty of the Haverhill course and the short time available for recovery.

On the same day, it was the Inverness Half Marathon in Scotland. Marc Drury (1:25:35, 132nd of 2,116 runners overall, 42nd of 309 in M40) and Angela Barnes (2:01:03, 332nd F of 972, 112th of 316 in F40) were both competing in this race just one week after their top PB efforts in the Cambridge Half Marathon. Marc still managed another PB by 2 minutes, while Angela went very close, showing that both are currently in great form.

Meanwhile, in the Oundle 20 in Northamptonshire, Vanessa Allen (3:06:52, 186th of 326 overall, 61st F of 147, 8th of 30 in F45) did well in her first known attempt at the distance, possibly as preparation for a spring marathon. This was just one week after achieving a fine 1:49:40 in the Cambridge Half Marathon, her first known attempt at that distance too.

On Saturday March 12th, Jimmy Smith was honoured to be called up at short notice (as first reserve) to join the Suffolk senior men’s team of 9, in the Inter County XC Championships at Loughborough. He clocked 42:37 over the tough 10km course and did well to stay ahead of the Suffolk second reserve call-up, with Michael Bartram the leading Suffolk finisher in a time of 35:03. The overall standard of competition was extremely high, with Suffolk finishing 27th of 34 county teams. Surrey took the Championship title in both men’s and women’s senior competitions.

Jimmy Smith on the far right with the other members of the Suffolk Senior team at Loughborough. From left: Michael Bartram, Craig Fiddaman, Jack Nixon, Sam Boreham, Seb Palmer, Matt Snowdon, Scott Williams, Chay Hopkins, Jimmy Smith. Many thanks to Jimmy for the photo.

On Sunday March 13th at Woodton near Bungay, the sixth and final fixture of the Suffolk Winter XC League 2021-2022 took place. The pleasant rural course was along two undulating laps of grassy tracks, around the edges of fields and farmland. After the race, there were bacon rolls on sale from the farm and cakes, coffees and teas served for donations in support of Ukraine. The turnout of Newmarket Joggers [NJ] & Sudbury Joggers [SJ] (who join forces in this League) was low. We had just enough runners for one men’s team of 7 and one women’s team of 4. We’ll have to wait to see if our men’s team managed to hold onto third trophy position of the 17 competing teams. Our women’s team in order of finishing was: Jackie Hann SJ 134th {of about 240 runners overall}, Ruth Cowlin SJ 166th, Jan Holmes NJ 222nd  and Jo Bouttell NJ 227th; our men’s team: Paul Holley NJ 4th, Neville Clarke NJ 88th, Charles Jones NJ 104th, Brian Munns NJ 119th, Jim Withers NJ 189th, Alan Thornhill NJ 194th and Chris Aylmer NJ 207th. Shane Basing was there to watch his two daughters compete in the U15 and U11 junior races. His older daughter did well to finish 40th overall in the U15 girls’ and boys’ 1.5km race. We don’t know yet how many boys and girls were running, nor the results of the U11 fun run, in which his younger daughter was participating.

Piglets at the farm in Woodton where the XC was held. Many thanks to Jo Bouttell for the photo.