Harriers show their toughness in arduous long-distance tests
The weekend saw several Gade Valley Harriers in tough long-distance endurance races across the UK.
Four athletes alone managed to complete more than 370 miles of competitive action between them, including an Ironman triathlon.
A hundred of those miles were completed by Chris Dowling, who as well as taking on the physical challenge of a century of hilly miles along rough trails and loose paths, also had to deal with the repetitiveness of ten laps of ten miles.
Dowling started the Wendover Woods 100 on Friday morning along with 44 others for the one-off event, which included 20,000 feet of ascent and descent, in near-perfect conditions for the time of year.
He put mind over matter from the start and reached the first split in just over an hour in 14th place.
As the competitors dealt with five energy-sapping climbs and quad-busting descents on each lap, Dowling knew the only way to complete the course would be to walk the downhill sections in the early laps and evaluate things as day turned to night.
Despite some lows throughout the night, he was determined not to give up and battled around the final few laps to be one of only 20 people to complete the course, crossing the line after a remarkable 26 hours 15 minutes and eight seconds, in eighth place.
Teresa Reason and Anita Berwick competed in ultra action at the Race to the Stones event on Saturday. The 100km route started in Oxfordshire and went along part of the ancient Ridgeway before ending at a neolithic monument in Wiltshire which contains three stone circles. It took in views of stunning chalk ridges and Roman river crossings over 4,000 feet of elevation.
Both Harriers chose to complete the gruelling challenge in one day, despite a two-day option, making the feat more impressive.
Reason was the first of the duo to reach the stones and fourth female veteran 40+ (FV40) in 11:59:27. Berwick finished in 18:22:00.
Susie Ivin completed her 31st marathon on Saturday at the Piece of Cake Marathon, a low-key 26.2-mile race though the Shropshire Hills.
Starting in Carding Mill Valley near Church Stretton, the route encapsulates everything the England-Wales border region has to offer, with panoramic views, rolling hills and miles of unspoilt countryside. She crossed the line in 5:56:15.
Not content with running a marathon, Craig Hardiman took part in the Bolton Ironman triathlon on Sunday.
His epic challenge started with a 2.4-mile lake swim in the Pennington Flash on a relatively cool morning.
He exited the lake after one hour, 21 minutes and 20 seconds, before saddling up on his bike to ride through 112 miles of hilly Lancashire countryside in 7:29:59.
The ultimate endurance multi-sport event climaxed with a marathon-distance run, which Hardiman completed in 4:25:36 to complete a total time of 13:30:59, including transitions.
Closer to home, a small handful of Harriers took part in Sunday’s Spire Bushey 10k event, which wound its way around the leafy Hertfordshire town’s roads.
Alistair Flowers was the first club member to complete the course in eighth overall, clocking 38:04.
Phil Mercer finished in 43:45 despite competing in and picking up a personal best (PB) at the Olympic Park Chase The Sun 5k on Wednesday night with a time of 20:32.
Sian Shaw (45:36) finished ahead of Trevor Normoyle (45:52) and Tracey Cotton(47:19), who was first FV40, while Helen Heathcote crossed the line in 1:03:30 to pick up a course PB.
Dave Goodman completed the Adidas City Run Shoreditch 10k in 41:21.
On Saturday, Ross Deacon celebrated his birthday with a ParkRun PB, completing the two-lap 5km Rickmansworth event in 19:13.
Gemma Tucker used the same location to record her milestone 100th ParkRun, clocking a time of 28:50.