Organisers of the first ever Farm Run in aid of Rennie Grove Hospice Care are cock-a-hoop after more than 350 participants ensured that the event at Hammonds End Farm in Harpenden was a runaway success.
Runners of all ages and abilities took the bull by the horns and gathered at the start line to take part in the challenging 5k obstacle course and 1k fun run for under 10s - all raising money for the vital services that Rennie Grove provides to local adults and children diagnosed with cancer and other life-limiting illness and their families.
The charity’s day services, hospice at home service and other support services mean that patients can choose to spend their final months, weeks and days at home surrounded by their families receiving specialist care and support.
The glorious sun-soaked Hertfordshire countryside proved the perfect backdrop for this brand new event that involved agricultural-themed obstacles of varying size and difficulty, including hay bales and balance planks. An alternative extreme hill route offered additional challenges set by former Royal Marine, Nathan Wood, that included a grain sack carry and tractor tyre flip.
Despite the day reaching a sweltering 30 degrees, Hammonds End Farm welcomed 375 enthusiastic runners from Hertfordshire and beyond who did everything they could to cross the finish line and show their support the local hospice charity.
Rennie Grove cared for Rebecca Murley’s grandad, Bill Toyer, before he died 18 months ago. Four generations of the family competed as ‘Team Toyer’ and ran in the 5k obstacle run.
“Before my Grandad passed Rennie Grove took amazing care of him and since then they have been helping my Nan, Glynis Toyer. Rennie Grove have been a huge help to us as a family. We’ve got aunts, uncles and cousins taking part in The Farm Run in memory of my Grandad – there are four generations of us here today!”
Runners raced across grain fields under the sun and were tasked with jumping over haybales, negotiating balance beams and running round 5 kilometres of beautiful farmland.
The Molnar family from Hemel Hempstead are ‘seasoned obstacle runners’. Phoebe, 10 ran alongside mum Rachel, 41, and dad Nick, 44 in the 5k obstacle run.
Rachel said: We love anything that we can do as a family especially when it’s for a good local cause like Rennie Grove. [Nick and I] are seasoned Tough Mudders and Phoebe won Young Sport Achiever in Dacorum on Friday so we’re a good team!”
Nick works for Origin Global in High Wycombe. Origin Global are main sponsors of various Rennie Grove events including this year’s Chiltern 3 Peaks Challenge. Nick says: “I did push The Farm Run throughout the rest of the company! We’re happy to be here today and support a fantastic local charity”.
Matthew Catterall ran in Rennie Grove’s Half Marathon last year and was keen to support the local hospice charity again this year:
“It’s important to support a charity like Rennie Grove because of the work they do around Hertfordshire. We are excited to be here today”. Laura Catterall is a St Albans district nurse: “My team works alongside Rennie Grove’s Hospice at Home nurses so understand the importance of the cause. I ran the 1k with my daughter Sophie and we really enjoyed it and had a great time.”
Mayor of Harpenden, David Heritage, was pleased to see so much support at the Harpenden farm despite the extreme heat.
“We’re thrilled that we can support an organisation like Rennie Grove. They provide such vital care in Harpenden and across Hertfordshire. They do wonderful work in the area for local people and it’s a privilege to support events like The Farm Run for Rennie Grove.”
The 1k fun run took young supporters over hay bales. The fancy dress competition saw bunny ears, a homemade ladybird costume and the winning costume prize went to Olivia who won a family pass to Big Space in Harpenden. She was commended for with-standing the heat in her fleece pig onesie!
Six-year-old Freya Puttnam from St Albans took part in the 1km fun run: “It was really fun, I liked going on the hay bales and getting my medal”.
Only some were brave enough to face the Extreme Hill. One of those was Chris Baxter who joined in the fun alongside his work colleagues at Harpenden-based construction company Jarvis Group.
Chris said: “I tackled as much as I could! I did the grain sack carry on the hill. But all of the obstacles were brilliant and challenging and we all had really good fun. The obstacles broke up the 5k distance, it was great to be part of a 5k that was slightly different to others.”
Kate Grigg, Head of Fundraising in Herts at Rennie Grove, declared the event a great success and said: “A huge thank you to everyone who came along to make our first ever Farm Run such a wonderful day. Our runners were terrific and really threw themselves at the obstacles. Our thanks too to our wonderful marshals and volunteers who came along to help and ensure the event went so smoothly. The money raised by today’s participants will make a real difference to families right here in our local community.
“A big thank you goes to the Roberts family for allowing us to hold our new event on their farm. We are very grateful for their generous hospitality and support.”
The Roberts family has been at Hammonds End Farm for three generations and is now run by Stuart Roberts, whose late mother Ginny was cared for Rennie Grove nurses last year. “Sharing our beautiful surroundings with our local community and hosting the Farm Run seemed the perfect way to say thank you to Rennie Grove and their wonderful nurses for taking such good care of my mum,” he said.
“It meant so much to my dad, my brother and I and our families that she was able to be at home during her final days. We are so pleased to be able to express our gratitude.”