AWESOME ORNAS CONQUER EDEN – race report w/e 10th October

TRC has notched up a few parkrun ‘first finishers’ in recent weeks.   Last Saturday saw a hat-trick of sorts on a single day.

Mallards Pike is a single-lap course through the Forest of Dean that attracts some serious cani-cross runners – of both two and four-legged varieties.  Bristol and West’s Ben Robinson holds the course record in 12:34.   Clearly he is some athlete, as you have to have incredible leg-speed to avoid face-planting into the dirt at 4-min mile pace, but after recording that time you’d think the dog would get a name-check too.

On Saturday, TRC’s Taryn Roberts was first across the line in a brilliant 20:08.  The results page says she was ‘assisted’ and while it is possible she stopped on the way to ask for directions, we can presume that she too strapped herself in behind her canine companion and set off into the woods like Boudicea astride her chariot. Taryn has set the mark: any other TRC member fancy competing for the unofficial club cani-cross record?!

At the Mundy playing fields Sean Leadbetter continued TRC’s excellent showing at our home parkrun, winning in an impressive 18:46.   The grass, hills and sharp turns mean Thornbury is not a fast course, so any male time under 19 minutes is seriously good.

Severn Bridge, by contrast, is a fast course, although running from the bottom of the bridge to the apex into a headwind is deceptively tough.   18 year old James Harrod prudently paced his effort to the half-way point, and then used the slope back to base to good effect, finishing with a sub 5-min mile, to record 16:09, the fastest time by a junior and the ninth quickest in the history of the event.

Behind our three race winners there were some other noteworthy performances.   Ashleigh Ferris missed her Thornbury parkrun PB by a handful of seconds, and ran just over 25 minutes.  Melinda Evans ran a 30:56 PB in the same race.  At Severn Bridge, Paul Harrod was still in England while son James was scanning his barcode in Wales, but still finished 6th in 18:30.   Roger Glew is in a rich vein of form at the moment, seemingly knocking off parkrun PBs each week for fun.   He’s increasingly resembling a Michelangelo sculpture that is coming into sharper relief as the marble is chiselled away.  Another 23:27 PB to add to the collection.  Catherine Dack (24:24) and Ann Green (28:06) also ran their respective Severn Bridge PBs and both comfortably exceeded a 70% age-grade score.  Congratulations too to Naomi Hibbard, for her ‘post baby PB’ of 29:44! Finally, at Cheltenham, Clare Watt ran 24:20, and recorded yet another highly impressive age-grade score of 77% plus.

Phil Blackburn joined TRC during lockdown, and has been wowing the 7-min group with the dizzying rate at which he has been improving.   Phil came from a background in football, and so for the first few weeks needed help tying his shoelaces, and had to be carried off with cramp after the first couple of miles [citation needed].   Since then he has been posting fast times at races from 5k to half-marathon.   On Sunday, he ran his debut marathon in Manchester and finished in a wonderful time of 3hrs and 5 mins.   He was on for a sub-3 until about mile 23 when he just couldn’t quite maintain the 6 min 50 mile pace he had been hitting on average right up to that point.   Old hands at the club know it takes years to build an endurance base.   Phil has achieved a phenomenal amount in 12 months, and if he can maintain his obvious enthusiasm for training, then allied with his natural talent and raw speed, he could knock 20 mins plus off that time during the next few years.

The Eden Project marathon in Cornwall sounded like a fell run that happened to be on tarmac.  The site itself is full of sharp ‘switchback’ paths that sap the hamstrings on the way up, and the quads on the way down.   Plus the rest of the route on local roads is undulating to put it mildly.  So forget the times, and focus on the finishing positions.   Ben Bohane cranked up that internal diesel engine of his and finished in a fantastic 7th position overall, in a time of 3hrs 33 mins.  A quite brilliant run for someone who hasn’t had the time to train seriously for a marathon, even if he has been ripping up the 10ks.   

Laura and Henry Orna were raising money for MIND – a fine charity, and a cause very dear to their hearts.   Laura was the 5th lady, and finished within the margin of error of 4 hours.  Husband Henry’s relentless training sessions up and down Olveston’s Vicarage Lane were put to good effect as he finished in a shade over 3hrs 50.   Henry and Laura are NHS heroes who somehow seem to combine bringing up their two lovely children, with incredibly demanding and stressful jobs, and yet still find time to train and race at a high level.  Inspirational stuff, and all your club mates salute you!

*Next race report will be w/e 30th October, covering round one of the Glos cross country league.