Over 2,000 people signed up to take part in the Herts 10K on Sunday October 9 to support Rennie Grove Hospice Care and the services it provides for local patients with cancer or other life-limiting illnesses and their families. Runners and walkers alike gathered at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden to line up for the race which was taking place for the eleventh time. In perfect sunny but cool conditions, the race was officially started by Cllr Frances Leonard, the Mayor of St Albans and District.
Experienced runners were joined by novices as corporate teams, groups of family members and friends and those taking part individually threw themselves into an energetic warm up led by Fitness First.
The corporate teams were spearheaded by a team from the event’s founding sponsor, Levy Associates. The organisation’s Managing Director, Matt Murphy, came along to cheer his team on and said, “Levy Associates is thrilled to be a main sponsor of the Herts 10K and I’m really pleased that the team managed to get up early to run today!”
Another main sponsor, Harpenden based Plowman Craven, entered a 20-strong team which included at least seven people who had not run before while John Jackson and Mark Corr from fellow sponsor, Brayleys, also took part for the first time.
Mark said, “We’re really looking forward to the run today. It’s great to be able to support and local charity and we hope to be able to do it again next year.”
The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead also entered a corporate team into an event for the very first time. One of their colleagues is currently receiving care from Rennie Grove and their team of 16 staff ranged from the Managing Director to instructors, and lodge spa and kitchen staff. Zoe Green, Sales and Marketing Manager said, “We’re really excited about taking part today. Some of our team have never done any running before but we’ve had a few team training runs and it has been a great team bonding exercise. I’ve definitely got to know people in the organisation that I’ve never spoken to before.”
Local running club, Harpenden Arrows, also entered a large team as well as offering their help once again in signing the route.
First across the finish line in a time of 33 minutes and 29 seconds was Michal Glowacki who has now taken part in the event four times, winning on three of those occasions. Michal said, “It’s a great course with good competition. It is the atmosphere that always makes me want to do it again and the chance to raise money for charity.” Second place in the men’s race went to Euan MacKenzie with Warwick Raath taking third place. The fastest woman was Laura Cowley from Hatfield who crossed the line in 40 minutes and 16 seconds. Laura said, “This is the first time I have taken part but it is a good course and it has been great fun with a really good crowd. I will definitely do it again - the all-terrain course makes it much more exciting than a normal 10K road race.” The second placed lady was Rebecca Cackett with third place being taken by Charlene Jacobs-Conradie.
Paralympic and international blind footballer, David Clarke, supported the event by running alongside the race’s founder, Lawrence Levy. David said, “It was an amazing experience to run with 2,000 people supporting a great local charity and it was especially good to run with the race’s founder, Lawrence Levy.”
Amongst the many people taking part in memory of loved ones were a group of 18 family and friends who gathered from far and wide to remember Carrie Smale who was cared for in the Day Hospice at Grove House before she died from Leukaemia in June. The group was brought together by Carrie’s sisters, Gill Forward and Rosie Willett, and has raised nearly £6,000 in Carrie’s memory.
Liz Moyle, Jon Clark, Lisa and Jim Hodgkins and Clare Stanley, all from St Albans, also took part in memory of Sarah Green. Rennie Grove cared for Sarah and are still providing support for her family. Liz said after the race, “It’s been such a lovely atmosphere and a great race today. We have all taken part before and enjoy a challenge each year. It’s good to take part in a local race and to have a time to beat.”
Emily Walls from Harpenden was taking part for the second time in memory of close family friend, Alex Demain, who was like a brother to her. The care provided by Rennie Grove’s hospice at home service allowed Alex to spend his final days at home surrounded by his family and friends and Emily has raised nearly £600 in sponsorship for this year’s race in his memory. Finbar Swords from St Albans also took part in memory of his brother Kieran who died of cancer last year.
Nigel Crawford and his two sons, Thomas, 13, and Sam, 12, from Harpenden returned to run for the second time. Nigel said, “Taking part this year has a particular significance for us as my mother has just undergone an operation for cancer so it’s good to be supporting a local hospice charity. It was a really hard course but the marshals were fantastic and kept us going. I’ve done many running events and this is one of the best organised events I’ve been to.”
15 year old Adam Bailey from Harpenden found the course tough-going but was pleased to beat last year’s time. Adam, who attends St George’s School, was running with his mum and enjoyed the challenge of the event.
Hollie Prince took part in the event last year and this year brought her sister, Rachel, and mum, Julia, as well as friend Rachel Reynolds to run as a way to keep fit in advance of Hollie’s wedding in two weeks’ time. Hollie said, “I really loved the event last year. The atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real sense of achievement when I finished, so I’m delighted to be back and doing it again with family and friends in the run up to my big day.”
The Herts 10K continued with its tradition of awarding the final participants across the line with bunches of flowers and this year’s honour went to Sheila Riley from Hemel Hempstead with her co-walkers Diane from Harpenden and Caroline from Suffolk, all of whom were taking part for the first time and who greatly enjoyed the course and the atmosphere.
Race founder Lawrence Levy commented, “I’m so proud that even after 11 years the turnout is still immense. Over 2,000 people running for Rennie Grove to raise money for our local charity is a big achievement.”
Jenny Provin, Chief Executive of Rennie Grove said:
“I had a tear in my eye as I watched 2,000 people cross the start line this morning but after that I never stopped smiling until the last three ladies crossed the finish line.
“I would like to thank every one of the very many people who have been involved in today’s event, from our 2,000 runners to our fabulous marshals and many other helpers who volunteered their time to help. Thanks also go to the Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Frances Leonard for being our official starter and helping with the presentations. We are also very grateful to our sponsors for their support and to Rothamsted Research for kindly hosting the event. I would also like to thank our brilliant race commentator, Lee Partridge. The money raised from events like the Herts 10K is crucial if we are to continue to care for local patients and families and it was wonderful to see the local community come together to support the work we do. I found the whole event truly inspirational and I fully intend to take part myself next year!”
Photography courtesy of Phil Smith, Harpenden Studios