Surprisingly there are very few Hallmark Valentine’s Day cards featuring two sweaty runners adorned in lycra locking eyes across a Parkrun start line. “Your pace, or mine?”
Yet something was obviously in the air at the Mundys to encourage such a wonderful turnout from TRC for our ‘parkrun of the month’. Maybe it was the thought of the pink-frosted heart-shaped treats that made a welcome refuelling alternative to the medjool dates?
Yet again the Duracell Bunny in human form, Ben Bohane, was first across the line in a time of 19:43, now taking him above Nick Williams as the runner with the most first finishes at this race. I ask again: does Ben ever have a bad run? (Spoiler alert, possibly in Dursley). It then got a bit ridiculous, as TRC runners filled almost all the rest of the top 10 male finishers, with Asten Haynes, Nathan Darkin, Alan Gatling, Paul Thomas, Sean Leadbetter, Tom Usherwood and Andrew Darton following Ben home. (Not literally). Julia Jolley was the first Thornbury woman runner, and a very impressive third overall. Catherine Dack was sixth overall, and ran a new course PB in 27:53. To do so in this weather, and underfoot conditions, is a sign of significant improvement.
Highlights from the previous two weeks’ parkruns included: Ben Bohane winning both Thornbury on the 29th January, and then Berkeley Green the following Saturday. TRC’s London Marathon record holder, and late 90s Milk Tray Man, George Evans, continued to impress with a brilliant new Mundy’s PB of 19:38. At Chipping Sodbury on the 29th, Taryn Roberts was fourth woman in 20:44, and James Harrod fourth male in 16:34. On the 5th Feb, Clare Watt was, yet again, first woman at Thornbury. TRC’s growing strength in depth amongst the male team was reinforced by top 10 finishes at the same event for Adam Frontczak, Jonathan Hall, Moray Sloan, Tom Usherwood and Henry Orna.
Feb 13th was the second round of the Gloucestershire Cross Country league. Sadly the team was significantly weaker than usual, with the clash with the Dursley Dozen, and a few Covid absences, meaning we didn’t really have a chance of recording a meaningful score as a team. It was a foul day in Cheltenham, with 25mph winds and incessant rain. By the time the men ran at the end of the day the entire course had a slippery sheen of mud.
James Harrod was the outstanding male runner of the day. He ended up running almost the entire race on his own, not quite able to bridge the gap to two runners ahead of him, but still strong enough to hold off the runners behind. He finished in 9th place, in 38:19, although on this occasion he had to cede the U20 race to a very talented junior from Birchfield Harriers who was 13 seconds ahead of him. Andy Wilson is moving up the ranks in these races, and now pacing his efforts to perfection. He was an excellent 41st place in 41:46
George Evans is also improving with each cross country race, after his stunning season on the roads. He was 65th in 44:25. Jim Godden was next in 45:53, and he managed to secure a top 5 age-category position. Henry Orna was 85th in 47:04.
Sadly our ladies’ team was even more depleted than the men’s. However we were encouraged to see 17 year old Laura Evans, daughter of George, make her debut. In what was a very tough event, and far further than any school race she’d run, Laura came a magnificent 9th in her age category, and finished in 38:25. She is fortunate to have inherited her father’s exceptional athletic abilities, and even more fortunate that she got her beauty and brains from her mother! (Sorry George, couldn’t resist that one!)
However, first woman home for Thornbury was Laura Orna. She ran a very impressive 34:16, to be 8th in category and just inside the top 50 overall. Carol Mosses also demonstrated her improving form, and was delighted to finish well inside the hour mark.
Finally, Sunday also saw the Dursley Dozen, and the atrocious weather conditions made what is already a brutal race into a real test of mental and physical endurance. So huge congratulations to all the TRC runners who took part, and especially so to those who got to place a sodden trail shoe on their respective podiums. Or should that be podia?
Taryn Roberts recorded a brilliant fourth place overall, and completed the gruelling 12 miles in 1 hr and 49 minutes. Anything under two hours on that route is very impressive. Hannah Hamilton was not far off that mark, and came 13th overall in 2hrs and 4 minutes. Clare Watt was third TRC woman, in 2hrs 11 mins, and was 2nd in her age category. Emma Barnes (2hrs 27) and Sarah Newnes (2hrs and 32 min) completed the line up.
The Hobbs family are running royalty in these parts, with all three adult children competing at a high level in distance running and triathlons. Yet their dad Dave is also an incredible runner, and seems to thrive on the trails in particular. Dave was first TRC runner home, in 1hr 39 mins, 10th overall, and the clear winner in his age category. Performance of the week I would suggest!
You know you’ve run well if you’re ever ahead of Dylan Roberts. Even if Dave was stronger on the day, Dylan still performed very well, and was 19th overall in 1hr 42 mins. Ben Bohane was next, and surely the sub-20 parkrun the day before explains the slightly slower time of 1hr 47. Peter Cable ran 1hr 53; Ian Evans 2hrs 5mins and Garry Slater 2hrs 49mins.