Watford Harriers' flagship Half Marathon event has held pride of place in the Hertfordshire race calendar for over 50 years. The event draws 1,500 runners and apparently gives its runners wings, if the image above is anything to go by! The latest edition of this high-flying event took place on Sunday (2 February) from Cassiobury Park.
The course is on pleasant, undulating country roads that are entirely closed to traffic. The downhill start can be deceptive as there follows six miles of climbing before several ups and downs and a final tough uphill mile to the finish. Despite the challenging nature of the route some fast times have emerged and the course records are 1:04:50 by Tomas Abyu (Salford Harriers) and 1:13:42 by Liz Yelling – both set in 2007.
This year's winged-heeled gods of the tarmac were led by Jonathan Cornish (Hercules Wimbledon, 1:07:29) and W35 Annabel Gummow (Winchester, 1:14:50 PB) as both champions enjoyed healthy margins of victory.
Cornish, the recently crowned Oxfordshire cross country champion, quickly established a winning lead and returned to Cassiobury Park more than two and a half minutes clear of the 64-minute PB owner Paul Martelletti (M40 Victoria Park Harriers, 1:10:10). Podium bronze went to Chris Oddy (Serpentine, 1:10:58).
Gummow's win in the women's race was even more decisive as three minutes had elapsed before the arrival of W35 masters Rachel Felton (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, 1:18:10) and Sophie Delderfield (Vale of Aylesbury, 1:19:59 PB) to complete the rostrum.
The Hertfordshire Veteran men's gold medals went to M40 Matt Sayers (1:16:19); M50 Nigel Rackham (1:17:12); M60 Neill Duke (1:45:03) and M70 Stuart Mann (1:47:38). The women's titles were claimed by W35 Rachel Felton (1:18:10); W45 Caroline Greenaway (1:30:54); W55 Lynda Hembury (1:35:07) and W75 Georgie Hamilton (2:46:32).
Overall there were 1,353 finishers in 3:17:55 and half those were home and hosed in 1:52:25. The race raised funds for the Watford-based Peace Hospice Care charity.