On Sunday October 8 over 2,300 people gathered in the grounds of Rothamsted Research in Harpenden to take on Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the Herts 10K, which is now in its 12th year. Runners, joggers and walkers of all ages came together at the start line in the autumn sun to embark on this popular multi-terrain route through the surrounding countryside to raise money for the vital services that Rennie Grove provides for local adults and children diagnosed with cancer and other life-limiting illness and their families.
The Herts 10K is a particular favourite of several running clubs in the local area, including the Harpenden Arrows. Each year they not only enter a team of around 20-25 runners, but they also help with the route signage and marshalling.
John Rowlands from Harpenden Arrows explains; “We support this event right from thestart and not just by taking part. We have had someone out on the route this morning checking that the signage was correct before the runners went out. The Herts 10K is a fantastic event and the money raised goes towards helping a brilliant charity.”
Ruth Kent is part of women-only running club, Athena, based in St Albans; “There are about 15 Athena runners taking part today. We have a 5k-10k running group and today is the graduation of the 10k team. As a club, we think it is important to support local causes and charities and we are aware of the vital services Rennie Grove provides in the local area.”
Rachel MacKie and her team of brightly coloured runners, Run Redbourn! said; “It’s one of the best running events in Hertfordshire and everyone does it. We have around 30 runners in this year’s race and one of them (Kerry McGeachy) did the St Albans Half Marathon in aid of Rennie Grove back in June this year.”
Other teams that tackled the 10k route were Understanding Recruitment and Fluxus Fitness from St Albans.
Barrie Johnston from Fluxus Fitness said; “For some of the team, it’s their first 10k and whilst it is a challenging route, the event itself is always really friendly with a brilliant atmosphere. It also supports a great local cause, which is always a plus to taking part in something like this.”
Gold sponsor, Harpenden-based Plowman Craven, entered a team of 21 runners. Janet Henshilwood from the Marketing Team explained that organisation’s support of the event reflected the importance they place on achieving a good work/life balance and that they positively encouraged their staff to take part. She commented; “As a local company, we are pleased to be able to support a local cause. What’s particularly great about this event is that they cheer everyone over the line. There’s a good team spirit and a fantastic atmosphere for everyone involved.”
A team of 10 from Sherrards’ Solicitors were also limbering up to take part. Mark Fellows, a partner at the firm said: “We do a lot of work with Rennie Grove as some of our staff have directly benefitted from their care and we know only too well how much money is needed on an ongoing basis to fund the care they provide. We are really proud to support them.”
St Albans Nordic Walking Group, based at Westminster Lodge, brought along a team of 11 people to walk the route. Sharon Walsh, one of the instructors, said: “We wanted to set the group a challenge and as some of the ladies in the group have had first-hand experience of the care provided by Rennie Grove at Grove House, it seemed very fitting to sign up for the Herts 10K. Nordic walking has such great health benefits and is a really sociable activity so we’re all looking forward to the experience today.”
Another eager runner who had returned for a second year was Suzanna Holmes from Harpenden. With her were two 10k first timers Sian Essex and Sajida Parveen and another returning runner, Saima Khan; “I’m really looking forward to it. The weather is beautiful and it is always a really well organised event. I said last year that I would come back and do it and I bought some newbies with me!”
Running duo, Greg and Tim Haden from Harpenden and New York were sporting lederhosen t-shirts in a bid to celebrate Octoberfest whilst out on the route. Greg said; “I did the 10k last year and invited Tim along to join me for 2017. It’s a great event and it’s just full of energy.”
Tim said; “I wanted to do it for a bit of fun. It’s actually the same distance as the running route round Central Park in New York – fun fact for you there.”
Judith Moore, Head of Clinical Services for Hertfordshire at Rennie Grove gave words of encouragement and thanks to the thousands of runners waiting at the start line before a short speech from Lawrence Levy, founder of the Herts 10K and a quick warm up. The buzzer sounded and a sea of dark blue t-shirts sprang into motion as the runners set off.
Although a race for all abilities, the more elite runners started to cross the finish line with times below 34 minutes. An incredible achievement.
First across the line in an impressive time of 33 minutes 40 seconds was Warrick Raath who started running originally with the Harpenden Arrows when he lived in Harpenden. Although he now lives in Surrey, he comes back every year for the Herts 10K, but this is the first time he has ever won the race. Warrick said: “I didn’t find it too hard today. It was a lovely route, the weather was good and the atmosphere and support were wonderful. It’s such a well-organised event and I really appreciate the opportunity to be here.”
Tilly Snow was awarded 2nd place female, crossing the finish line at 40 minutes 42 seconds; “It’s just so fun to be a part of something like this. The weather is beautiful, everyone is in really good spirits and it’s for a great cause.”
Mike Birkett from Harpenden has taken on the established 10k route five times; “It’s a nice run and a lovely setting. I always see people I know here, which is encouraging on the way round. This year was good apart from the sprint at the end!” Mike’s daughter Emily (7) cheered him on, alongside fellow runner David McGuiness who was with his children, Olivia (7) and William (9).
Leo Ketchin from Wheathampstead Warriors running club has taken part in the Herts 10k three times; “There is always such a friendly atmosphere. It’s a big event but it’s still good fun and you have the knowledge that the money you raise is going to a good cause.”
Another running club called “I love PT” who run regularly at Clarence Park in St Albans also took part to support the charity who had cared for one of their members’ parents. Susan Lonie, Amanda White, Annabel Faulkner, Natasha Armstrong and Steve Bonfield represented the club and said at the finish line: “It was a really well-organised event with a great atmosphere. It really helps running together because it wasn’t an easy course but we love having a race like this on our doorstep supporting a local cause. Thanks also to all the local residents who came out and cheered us along the way.”
Sisters Shona Mackinnon-Moore and Jennifer Lauterpacht from Harpenden and Wheathampstead carried on a family tradition of taking part in the race started originally by their parents. Shona and Jennifer ran together while their husbands Dominic and Conan raced each other and their parents, who started the tradition, stayed at home looking after the children!
Emma Saunders from Hemel Hempstead took on her first 10k and running event since completing the London Marathon two years ago; “My Dad passed away nine years ago and the Rennie Grove nurses were there for him through his last few days. It was the most difficult time of our entire lives and I will never forget the help that Rennie Grove and the nurses gave to my family and me, because of this I want to do anything I can to help raise money for the services they provide to patients and their families.”
And to prove that age is no barrier to taking part, 83 year old Andy Bell from St Albans crossed the finish line to claim is third Herts 10K medal saying how much he loves the camaraderie of the event. His daughter, Sue Murphy, also took part on the day.
Lawrence Levy, founder of the Herts 10K, commented that it was: “Yet another great day for the Herts 10K and for Rennie Grove Hospice Care.”
Cllr Mohammad Iqbal Zia, the Mayor of the City and District of St Albans said: “I was delighted to be the official starter at this year’s Herts 10K and to make the presentations to the winning runners. The Herts 10K is an important event for our local community not just because thousands of local people take part, but also because the money raised from the event helps to fund the care provided to adults and children diagnosed with life-limiting illness and their families right here in our community. There was a fantastic atmosphere on the day and I was so pleased to see so many people out on a Sunday morning supporting an important local cause.”
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rennie Grove said; “I’d like to thank everyone who was in involved in making this another successful year at the Herts 10K - our founding sponsor Levy Associates, headline sponsor Plowman Craven, the volunteers, marshals, our fantastic race commentator Lee Partridge and Rothamsted Research for generously providing today’s venue. The money raised from events such as the Herts 10K ensures that we are able to continue providing care and support to local adults and children diagnosed with cancer and other life-limiting illness and their families.”