The Berkhamsted Half Marathon and Fun Run produced a number of record performances on Sunday, as more than 1,500 runners lined up to take part in Dacorum’s biggest and longest-running road races.
The half marathon men’s section was won by Ed Banks, while Nicola Sykes took top spot in the ladies’ race.
The two runners, who both compete for Birmingham-based clubs, stormed to victory in very different ways.
Banks was pushed all the way by Jack Parslow of Dacorum & Tring AC, winning a record fourth consecutive title by only seven seconds – the closest margin of victory in the event’s history.
Sykes, meanwhile, led from the gun to finish a brilliant 18th overall in a new PB of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 18 seconds – smashing the previous women’s course record by nearly four minutes, and crossing the line just eight minutes behind Banks.
That represented the narrowest gap between the top male and female since the race began – a testament to the increasingly high calibre of runners competing in Berkhamsted.
Third across the line for the men was Paul Adams of St Albans Harriers, while Mairead O’Rourke of London’s Mornington Chasers was second lady. Wendy Webster, of St Albans Striders, was third.
Top veterans were Zoe Doyle of Begrave Harriers, who finished fourth lady overall in an impressive 1:25:57, and Steve Hallas of Preston Harriers who travelled down from Lancashire to finish ninth overall in 1:17:11.
St Albans Harriers took home the club trophy thanks to the performances of Adams, Adam Dunajko (5th), Andy Auld (12th) and Tom Crouch (13th). In total, 56 Striders finished the half marathon.
The men’s five-mile fun run, meanwhile, was won by 17-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet’s Ben Rochford in 27:13, while Catherine Davies of Dacorum & Tring AC won the ladies’ race for the second consecutive year.
The fun run was also notable for the striking performances by local youngsters. Thomas Rayner, 14, of Watford Harriers, was third in the men’s race, while 12-year old Chiltern Harrier Emily Alderson was third home for the ladies.
This year, the organisers of the race, the Rotary Club of Berkhamsted-Bulbourne, introduced a popular new race within a race – the Schools Challenge,
This awarded a £250 prize to the top boys’ and girls’ teams from competing secondary schools, with the top four runners picking up valuable points. Berkhamsted School won the boys’ prize, led by Alex Aherne in 33:33, followed by Ben Howell, Chris Cox and Nathan Walmsley. Ashlyns School took home the girls’ prize, with Alderson, Molly Jarvis, Emily Rothery and twins Amy and Maddie Perry scoring for their school.
Paul Dickenson, BBC athletics commentator and president of Dacorum and Tring AC, was on hand to start both races in style.
Dickenson, a former Olympic hammer thrower, said: “I was absolutely delighted at the way the event was organised, the way in which it was supported and the way in which it was hosted – a very good job was done by one and all.”
Dacorum & Tring AC
Top results came from Jack Parslow, second man over the line in the half marathon in 1:12:25, with team-mate Andrew Cracknell in fourth spot. Catherine Davies, meanwhile, was women’s winner of the fun run in a time of 34:39.
Kelly DuBuisson smashed her PB by four minutes to finish 11th lady overall in 1:32:45. Next across the line was Steve Russell in a PB of 1:37:19, followed by Russell Morris in a PB of 1:39:04.
Alex Dean posted 1:50:37, smashing his previous PB by more than 23 minutes. He was followed by Richard Smith in 1:53:02, Paul Stocker in 1:56:17, Louisa Hopper in 1:56:39 and Rupinder Mahil in 1:56:41.
John Slack finished fourth in the M65 category in 1:56:49, followed by Pat Hayball in 1:58.02 and Hannah Cracknell in 2:05:00.
Husband and wife team Samantha and Jason Hawkridge, meanwhile, shaved a combined 40 minutes off their previous personal bests for the distance,
Ken Perry accompanied visually-impaired runner Louise Simpson in the race, with the pair finishing in a very respectable 2:32:09.
In the Five Mile Fun Run, Pia Davis clocked 35:35, followed by Wendy Pearson in 38:33, twins Maddie and Amy Perry in 46:50 and Clare Murray in 50.33.
Rhys Rowlands and Joshua van Heinengen came seventh and ninth respectively, and they were followed by Steve Shaw in 32:59, Simon Bright in 33:48, Vincent Murray in 34:00, Danny Macey in 35:18, Nathan Walmsley in 37:10 and Gary Sturdy in 52:09.
Gade Valley Harriers
The half marathon is always a feature of the Harriers’ training for the spring marathons and gives a good indication of how their training is progressing.
In a very successful run, personal best times were set by Steve Reeve, Michael Ferris, Simon Wallis, Andrew Terry, Mick Whelan, Joanna Kidd and Krim Saidi.
Tring Running Club
A group of 41 Tring runners turned out for the half marathon, producing some impressive results.
Notable performances came from Andrew Hill who was first man home for the club, and Clare Doherty who was first lady and eighth female overall.
Tom Griffin finished first in the M65 category, beating his nearest rival by 15 minutes and 350 places.
Meanwhile, nine Tring representatives ran the five-mile race, with Dominic Evans and Becky Shaftoe coming home as first man and lady for the club.
Shirley White ran an excellent race to finish 3rd in her F55 category.
> Visit www.chipresults.co.uk for full race results