Doynton ‘Hard’ Half-Marathon race report

Not many people wake up on a Sunday morning in January, see slate-grey skies and frost on the ground, and decide to run a half-marathon through freezing rivers, steep escarpments and rutted farm tracks.

Yet TRC has more than its fair share of committed off-roaders, for whom the Doyton ‘Hard’ half-marathon is an inked-in fixture in the calendar, rather than cruel and unusual punishment to flee from.

Thornbury’s men definitely had the A-team out, and they were rewarded with a quite brilliant team victory, defeating even the mighty Bristol and West on cumulative time.   Nick Williams was the first runner home, in 5th place overall, in a fantastic 1hr 36 mins.  That would be an excellent half-marathon time on the road, so it beggars belief that he could cross that terrain at that pace.

Sean Leadbetter was the next runner home, in sixth place, just two and half minutes behind Nick, in 1hr 38:43.  Bear in mind that this was just seven days after Sean celebrated a magnificent second place in the Riverbank Rollick.   That effort must have told in the final few miles, so to come so close to Nick is a sign of how much Sean is improving as a runner for all terrains.  He must have a fantastic coach – and he does; it’s Nick!

But that is not all.   Just 15 seconds behind Sean, and in 7th place overall, was Ben Bohane.   Ben never seems to have a bad run: from parkruns to marathons he performs with incredible consistency.  His finishing time sealed the team competition.   Ben must have a brilliant coach – and, spoiler alert – it’s also Nick!

However, that is still not all.   Behind our triumphant triumvirate, TRC’s men continued to score highly in the remaining competitions.   Rob Watkins isn’t the sort of guy who turns up for mere parkruns, or those commercial road 10ks where they give you jelly babies en route, and doughnuts at the end.   Rob’s in his element on the slippery scrambles and the sapping silt and sludge, and he reminded us that he remains one of the club’s very best runners, by storming to the finish in 1hr 47mins, 17th overall, and second in his age category.   The male V50 team was completed by Jim Godden (1hr 51) and Paul Thomas (1hr 59) and they too were clear winners in their team category.

Congratulations to the remaining TRC male runners.   It really is a significant achievement to get round that beast of a course, and they did so in some excellent times.   Ian Evans, Chris Foley, Chris Pritchard and Kev Cundy were all within 25 mins of each other, while Hugh McPherson and Arthur Renshaw both managed top-20 finishes in their distinguished age categories.

On balance, TRC’s women have had the better of the men in recent major events, and even though they were behind the men on this occasion, it was only by a fraction.   Our top team of Hannah Hamilton, Jo Plumbley and Melanie Wilson finished second overall in the team competition, losing out to Bitton by less than five minutes.   Had Taryn swapped her camera for her trail shoes I suspect the outcome would have been different!

Hannah was ninth overall, in a time just outside two hours.   It is a fantastic achievement to get in the top 10 in a race of that quality.   Jo and Mel were 20th and 21st respectively (although with much higher placings in age category) and barely 10 mins behind Hannah.  Ros Rowland (2hrs 12), Sarah Newnes in 2 hrs 36, and Sonya Bryson in 2hr 45 were the remaining TRC runners, and they capped off another great overall performance from the team.

Cross country, the Rollick and the Doynton Half have meant fewer TRC runners have turned out for parkruns this month.  However it is worth noting a handful of highlights.

Tom Usherwood has recorded consecutive top-10 finishes at the Thornbury parkrun.   Last Saturday he ran 22:24.  Simon Pinnington has been busy: he won the Wotton parkrun on the 15th January, and was just a second above the 20 min barrier, which is very good for such a muddy, hilly course.   The following week Simon ran at the newest addition to the parkrun roster – the super-fast course on the Weston-super-Mare prom – and finished 9th in 19:05.  Simon is another TRC runner honing in on the ‘national standard’ 80% age-graded score.   On Severn Bridge, Jon Welsh knocked a full 40 seconds off his course PB, and finished in 24:30.