We had 13 runners in the Hillingdon half marathon this year and one in the 10K, reports Mark Kencroft, with some taking up free places offered after the cancellation of last year’s Hillingdon 10/Finchley 20. Ian Leslie actually turned up without having a place in the race at all, but luckily managed to grab a last minute entry. (It seems hard cash and a word in the right ear can work wonders if you’re in the know!)
The weather could hardly have been more different from the freezing weather experienced in 2018. Perfect running conditions prevailed throughout the morning, and it was a joy to finish in the sun.
The majority of the course is run on pavement around the university campus, apart from a small muddy section (which provided welcome relief to the feet). It was very well marshalled, though it was quite a challenge for the marshals at a few key junctions, where runners had to cross roads. On the quieter roads, many runners chose to run along the edge of the road, to avoid the constant ups and downs created along the pavements by residents’ driveways.
Quite a few ESM men on marathon training entered the race as part of their build-up. Steve Plummer has been organising (very) early Sunday morning long runs, and all their hard work is now paying off with great results.
Jonathan Horan’s running continues to go from strength to strength and he finished second overall with a massive personal best. The £50 cheque was the icing on the cake!
V50s Mark Kencroft, Steve Plummer and Martin Daoud helped each other keep pace on the first lap of the course, with Steve giving much-needed encouragement. Mark started to fade after seven miles and dropped back, while Steve and Martin pushed on.
Martin is one of those on marathon training and his improved endurance was demonstrated by a huge PB (eight minutes!), also going well under 90 minutes for the first time.
Adam Goodman is now quite an experienced half marathon runner and he showed great pace judgement to cruise past all the ESM veterans at around eight miles and to grab a well-earned and significant PB.
V60 Ian Leslie made good use of his last-minute place by finishing second in his age category. Fellow V60 Wilton Grey was three minutes quicker than last year, and showed good consistency with his autumn half marathon times.
V50 Simon Turrell ran two half marathons in February 2018 (Watford and Wokingham) and his performance was again very consistent with his form this time last year. Tony Hursey brought home the veteran men; it wasn’t his best time, but he is one of those who will often use races to get in a hard training run.
Only four women completed the race this year, reports Fiona Kennedy, led home by Kylie Goodman. She was another who went home with a big chunk off her PB: around three and a half minutes.
Sarah Holroyd was – understandably – a little frustrated at missing the two-hour mark by just 15 seconds. Like Mark, she was impressed by the marshals and other volunteers, but the course wasn’t entirely to her liking: “I think I would have preferred to do this race the other way round. The uphills were monotonous and the downs too short, hence Jenny’s comment ‘uphill all the … way!'” Sarah’s looking forward to the Hampton Court Palace half next month (where she set her PB in 2016).
Gurmeet Lally was significantly quicker than her debut at the Ealing Half last autumn. She was pleased to get a PB, despite her training having been interrupted by a heavy cold. She also disliked some aspects of the course: “I personally didn’t enjoy running through the car park with speed bumps!”
Liam Kencroft is still building up his distances, and opted for the 10K. He ran it last year and this was only his second attempt at the distance, so he was pleased to knock almost exactly three minutes off his time. Mark explained that the 10k race started as the front runners of the half came round to start their second lap. The idea is to encourage more competition, with runners of both races finishing together – a clever idea, he felt, which seems to work well.
Armed with her camera, Caroline Plummer gave much needed vocal support around the course, and we have her to thank for the great action photos.
ESM results summary:
Men: 2 Jonathan Horan 74:48, 23 Adam Goodman 86:00, 28 Stephen Plummer (M55) 86:41, 31 Martin Daoud (M55) 87:04, 40 Mark Kencroft (M50) 88:24, 79 Ian Leslie (M60) 94:41, 112 Wilton Grey (M60) 98:45, 146 Simon Turrell (M50) 1:43:14, 279 Tony Hursey (M50) 1:55:20
Women: 48 Kylie Goodman 1:55:27, 70 Sarah Holroyd (W55) 2:00:15, 76 Gurmeet Lally (W55) 2:03:00, 94 Jennifer Jones (W50) 2:07:03
10K: Liam Kencroft 47:09