Harriers Noel Morris Summer Handicap Series heats up as both Men’s and Women’s course records are smashed
A bright Tuesday evening with pleasant temperature, no wind, and dry ground saw the 5th race of 7 in this year’s Noel Morris Summer Handicap Series. This is the point in the series where things start heating up. Participants have to complete 5 races in the series to qualify as the overall series winner. Those who race over 5 races get the benefit of dropping their worst positions over the series. Additionally summer speed training which takes place every remaining Tuesday of the month starts to pay off.
21 runners turned up for the race with the field open with the first runner starting off over 20 mins before the last runner, but in a race where everyone is pitted against themselves and the handicapper, it’s great to have a race anyone no matter their ability can win.
34 mins and 35 seconds after he set off Ron Birch was the first home. A fantastic run from Ron knocking 4 mins off his last run here and fresh from his 10k at the weekend, he was nearly 3 mins ahead of the rest of the field as he completes his last summer series handicap race before he turns 80. 2nd went to Rhian Pierce in 20 mins 31 and a new course record. Rhian stormed back from a career-threatening injury to take 53 seconds off her personal best and break Emma Collins long-standing record. Third was Mat Jones in 20 mins 55. Mat also is showing great improvement this summer having taken nearly 4 mins off since his first race of this season back in April.
It was a tight finish for 4th and 5th with Tony Benton and Emma Collins having both raced so closely this season started together with Tony just getting a 2 second edge on Emma to finish in 21:38 and 21:40 respectively. Both in their first time under 22 minutes this season.Further down the field, the men’s course record also fell. Shaun Hughes continues to have a fantastic season, completing the course in 17:38 and taking over 20 seconds off his own best time from last season.
As far as the series goes, only Diane Roberts has done 5 races so far and must be looking good for a podium place. She stands at 59 points over the 5 races, lowest score to win. However there are 4 runners who have completed 4 races, with Tony Benton (22 points), Phil Hayes (26 points), Tony Wood (53 points) and Mari Jones (54 points) all in contention if they can drop their higher placed race, though with 2 races left the competition is wide open.
In another quiet racing weekend, 5 Harriers took to the Clwydians on Sunday for the annual the 2 Hillforts fell race. Runners race 9.2 miles with 1871ft of climbing up and over hillforts Penycloddiau and Moel Arthur. As much of this summer, conditions were hot and humid but at least it stayed dry throughout the race. First Harrier home was Tony Wood taking 9th in 1:20.09 followed shortly behind by Jonathan Fleming in 14th and 1:23.32. Also in the top 20 and taking the male prize for first local to finish was Owen Conry 18th in 1:24.57. Of the ladies Sioned Griffiths was first Harrier home in 43rd and 1:40.25 and taking the prize for first local lady home. She was followed in by Anwen Brown in 54th and a great time of 1:46.14 in this punishing race.
The Harriers were represented in 3 parkruns this week. Just over the border, Rob Gotts continued his comeback in 26:28 at Chester. Emma Collins took 3rd Lady in 22:06 at Conwy. Over in Wepre, Elen Baugh ran a fantastic PB in 27:04 taking nearly 1 min 30 off her previous best on this tough course and finishing as 8th Lady. David Baugh took 13th in 23:07 which Sarah Bayliss continues her fine form as 11th Lady in 28:02.
Noel Morris Handicap Summer Series 1st Ron Birch 34m45, 2nd Rhian Pierce CR 20m31, 3rd Mat Jones 20m55, 4th Tony Benton 21m38, 5th Emma Collins 21m40, 6th Katy Baugh 23m05, 7th Bob Neale 24m41, 8th Melina Morris 23m43, 9th Joe Welch 18m44, 10th Fred Jones 23m21, 11th David Say 24m26, 12th Mari Jones 35m03, 13th Shaun Hughes CR 17m36, 14th Paul Jones 28m15, 15th Chris Baldwin 24m52, 16th Arwel Jones 24m00, 17th Duncan Jones 23m36, 18th Elen Baugh 25m12, 19th Diane Roberts 34m45, 20th Menai Baugh 27m08, 21st Tony Wood, 20m21.
2 Hillforts Fell Race Tony Wood 9th 1:20.09, Jonathan Fleming 14th 1:23.32, Owen Conry 18th 1:24.57, Sioned Griffiths 43rd 1:40.25, Anwen Brown 54th 1:46.14.
Parkrun Chester Rob Gotts 104th 26:28, Conwy Emma Collins 39th & 3rd Lady 22:06, Wepre David Baugh 13th 23:07, Elen Baugh 53rd & 8th Lady PB 27:04, Sarah Bayliss 67th & 11th Lady 28:02.