Around 7,000 people took to the city’s streets on Sunday (June 11) in the award-winning St Albans half marathon. As well as the main event, which won second place in the half marathons with fewer than 5,000 runners category at the 2017 Running Awards, the popular race boasted a wheelchair half marathon, walking half marathon, 5K run and 1.5 mile fun run.
As the main benefitting charity of this year’s event, Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Chief Executive, Jenny Provin, joined the Mayor of St Albans, Councillor Mohammad Iqbal Zia, on stage to make the presentations to the winners of the various different categories in the different races. Rennie Grove was represented across all of the events except the wheelchair race, with members of its 96-strong team raising £19,741 from their hard work along the hilly, challenging courses.
It was a day of achievements and firsts as St Albans Half veterans lined up alongside first timers at the event, each with their own personal reasons for running but all braving the hills and heat together. Hemel’s Tim Boyall had run plenty of marathons and half marathons before but this one was special as he was running in memory of his mum, Linda, who used Rennie Grove’s Day Services at Grove House before she sadly died in April.
Liam Dwyer signed up to take part in the half marathon to support Rennie Grove as his mum, Ann, is one of the charity’s hospice at home nurses working in the Herts team. Liam said: “I visited Grove House the other day and everyone was so lovely. I was really pleased to be able to support my mum and to run today for Rennie Grove.”
Jenny Vango, who lives in St Albans, succeeded in raising £100 for Rennie Grove and said that it seemed more of a challenge this year: “I think I set out a bit too quickly and the hills and the heat were definitely a factor but I’ll be back to do it again!” she declared.
Running newbie Kerry McGeachy from Redbourn described the “epic support” that she experienced all around the route. “I only started running in December, which was also when one of my friends passed away. Knowing that I was running for such a good local cause definitely kept me going today,” she said.
Also new to running was Nick Lugar-Mawson from St Albans, who ran the 5K before stepping up again to take part in the fun run with his daughter Rosie and the family au-pair, Laura Martin. Nick said: “I’ve only just started running and this was my first 5K. It was an amazing, but challenging route with a lot of hills. But there’s a great atmosphere here today. I was pleased to sign up to run in Rennie Grove’s team as I find the work of hospices quite inspiring and it’s great to support a local charity.”
The Jenkins family from St Albans took on the fun run together. Barry and Anita ran with their daughters Katie (10) and Ruby (5) and were converted by the course and the cause. “We’re not runners but we wanted something that we could do as a family with the added benefit of supporting a good cause. It was a good course and I think it may even spur us on to do more running in the future,” they said.
Also running the 5K for Rennie Grove were friends Fiona Swallow and Emily Sanders from St Albans. Raising over £550 for Rennie Grove, Fiona said: “It’s really fabulous to have completed the run and to have raised money too. It makes getting out of bed on a Sunday morning really worthwhile!”
The walking half marathon was a popular option this year with several friends taking part together to raise funds for Rennie Grove. Each with their own very personal reasons for getting involved, they all praised the marshals and the atmosphere. Carolyn Crawley from Hemel and Liz Middleton from Redbourn were the “Walking Ringers”, a name which reflects their hobby of bell-ringing. Liz has previously run the St Albans Half Marathon many times but thoroughly enjoyed walking on such a lovely day. Carolyn said: “I have had cancer myself so I feel quite strongly about supporting local causes. Today’s event has been fantastic with marshals cheering you along the way. We were really pleased to take part and be part of the Rennie Grove Team.”
Rachel MacElvogue was joined by friend and fellow St Albans resident, Melanie Church. Rachel said: “We really enjoyed today. It was a lovely atmosphere and the marshals and other participants were so supportive and encouraging. My mum is currently being looked after at Rennie Grove’s Day Hospice in Grove House. She loves everything about her Wednesday session, especially the amazing volunteers and she’s even worked with one to have her life story written. I’m really pleased to be able to take part today to support the charity.”
Jenny Provin said: “We were thrilled to be chosen as the event’s benefitting charity this year and the day itself was great fun – I really enjoyed myself. The opportunity to raise an extra £20,000 through our Rennie Grove team of runners will make a huge difference to the local families we support; it will help significantly towards the cost of one of our specialist nurses. Thanks to everyone who voted for us and ran for us we’ll be able to give more patients affected by cancer and other life-limiting illness the choice to remain at home.”