Fairlands Valley Spartans won the men’s and women’s race in the final cross country league fixture of the 2015-2016 season.

CRAIG HALSEY opened up a gap to win the men’s race by 51 seconds in 34 minutes 25 seconds and NATALIE LAWRENCE won the women’s event in a fantastic 38 minutes 42 seconds no less than 3 minutes 32 seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

It was hilly, chilly and sunny as the Spartans set a new all time club record for participation in a cross country event. 324 from 20 clubs finished and 53 were FVS. Many had joined the Stevenage based club in the last year.

Despite the tough course five of the men’s team managed to run the 5.5 miles in less than 40 minutes. After Craig ANDREW PATTERSON was third in 35 minutes 29 seconds; GRANT RAMSAY 14th in 37:29; KEITH COUGHLIN 23rd in 38:33; and PAUL HEWETT 33rd in 39:35. The eight man “A” team was completed by MIKE GREEN, 45th in 41:09; STEVE GREEN, 51st in 41:41 and PAUL WHYTE, 65th in 42:44.

The men were second on the day, just six points ahead of Trent Park, and came THIRD in the whole series with 92 league points, just one behind Trent Park and five behind winners Royston.

The Spartan women’s “A” team WON their race on Sunday. All five of them finished in the top twenty five with CLAIRE WHITCHURCH moving into the top flight for the first time. They were, of course, led in by race winner NATALIE LAWRENCE in 38:42; MICHELLE REEVES sped in at eighth in 44:56; TRACY PEZ was 15th in 46:40; CLAIRE PULLEN 21st in 48:19 and Claire Whitchurch 22nd in 48:22. Fifteen other Spartan women finished so the club were unique with complete A, B, C and D teams at the end.

The others, many running such a hard event for the first time and coming out smiling, were SUZY HAWKINS, 28th in 49:20; CLAIRE COX, 48th in 52:07; HAZEL CLARK, 57th in 53:13; ISOBEL GREEN, 63rd in 54:02; VERITY FISHER, 73rd in 55:27; STEPH MAYFIELD, 87th in 58:26; SUE HAMER, 91st in 59:30; ADA JANUSIENE, 95th in 60:32; JEANETTE COLLINS, 99th in 61:32; OLWEN BATTY, 103rd in 62:32; NICOLA TOUT, 104th in 62:47; JENNY GARRETT, 105th in 63:02; SHARON CROWLEY, 107th in 63:33; JULIE SHADBOLT, 115th in 67:52 and PETA WILSON, 122nd in 72:00.

The FVS women were fourth over the whole series which started in October. It was desperately close for the third, or BRONZE, position with the Spartans just one league point, 82 to 83, behind Garden City but actually ahead of them, 813 to 751 on individual race points. The combined male and female teams were second on the day – Royston scored 1772; FVS 1962 and Trent Park 2020.

The 33 men had enough for four teams and some to spare.

Those giving tremendous support to the “A” team and beating many other clubs’ first teams in the process were LIAM HERBERT, 69th in 43:08; JOHN HARRIS, 70th in 43:11; KARL CLARKE, 77th in 43:51; TIM SABAN, 82nd in 44:07; TODD GRAY, 83rd in 44:15; DANIEL BATES, 91st in 45:16; THOMAS SAUKA, 92nd in 45:22; RYAN DUNNING, 117th in 48:12; MARK GOODWIN, 127th in 49:07; STEVE SMITHSON, 142nd in 50:44; DEAN CARPENTER, 153rd in 52:44; DANNY SUTTON, 157th in 54:09; JON SYPULA, 160th in 54:23; ROBERT WRIGHT, 165th in 55:25; VISH SHAH, 166th in 55:26; ANDY JAY, 167th in 55:26; TIM ROBINSON, 169th in 55:45; ANDY PRIOR, 175th in 56:41; KEN JUDE, 182nd in 57:47; JIM BROWN, 184th in 58:29; LEE PICKERSGILL, 187th in 61:08; SIMON SYPULA, 190th in 62:50; STEVE GOUGH, 198th in 67:42; MARK FREEMAN, 200th in 76:29 and PAUL HOLGATE, 201st in 76:32.

Spartan Men on Therfield Heath (Eight for each team); FVS Second Out Of Twenty.

Position Name Age Group Time Comments
1 Craig HALSEY SM 34:25 “A” team
3 Andrew PATTERSON SM 35:29 “A” team
14 Grant RAMSAY V40 37:29 “A” team
23 Keith COUGHLIN SM 38:33 “A” team
33 Paul HEWETT SM 39:35 “A” team
45 Mike GREEN V40 41:09 “A” team
51 Steve GREEN V40 41:41 “A” team
65 Paul WHYTE SM 42:44 “A” team
69 Liam HERBERT SM 43:08
70 John HARRIS V50 43:11
77 Karl CLARKE SM 43:51
82 Tim SABAN V40 44:07
83 Todd GRAY SM 44:15
91 Daniel BATES SM 45:16
92 Thomas SAUKA V40 45:22
117 Ryan DUNNING V40 48:12
127 Mark GOODWIN V50 49:07
142 Steve SMITHSON V40 50:44
153 Dean CARPENTER V40 52:44
157 Danny SUTTON SM 54:09
160 Jon SYPULA V40 54:23
165 Robert WRIGHT SM 55.25
166 Vish SHAH SM 55:26
167 Andy JAY V50 55.26
169 Tim ROBINSON V40 55:45
175 Andy PRIOR V40 56:41
182 Ken JUDE V50 57:47
184 Jim BROWN V60 58:29
187 Lee PICKERSGILL SM 61:08
190 Simon SYPULA V40 62:50
198 Steve GOUGH V40 67:42
200 Mark FREEMAN V50 76:29
201 Paul HOLGATE V50 76.16


Spartan Women on Therfield Heath (Five for each team): FVS Win, First Out Of Twenty.

Position Name Age Group Time Comments
1 Natalie LAWRENCE SW 38:42 “A” team
8 Michelle REEVES SW 44.57 “A” team
15 Tracy PEZ V35 46:40 “A” team
21 Claire PULLEN V45 48:19 “A” team
22 Claire WHITCHURCH V35 48:22 “A” team
28 Suzy HAWKINS V35 49.20
48 Claire COX V35 52.07
57 Hazel CLARK V35 53.13
63 Isobel GREEN V35 54.02
73 Verity FISHER SW 55.27
87 Steph MAYFIELD V35 58.26
91 Sue HAMER V45 59.30
95 Ada JANUSIENE SW 60.32
99 Jeanette COLLINS V45 61:32
103 Olwen BATTY SW 63:37
104 Nicola TOUT V35 63:57
105 Jenny GARRETT V45 63:57
107 Sharon CROWLEY V55 64:02
115 Julie SHADBOLT V45 67.41
122 Peta WILSON V45 76:27


Suspicious in Gravesend

ROGER BIGGS ran in the strangely named ‘Unusual Suspects’ marathon from the Cyclo Park in Gravesend. It was seven out and back laps on mixed terrain, uphill for the first half of each lap, and down for the second. He finished in 5 hours 35 minutes 15 seconds.


Punchbowl Paul

On Sunday CAROL PAUL ran the Punchbowl marathon in Surrey which is a 30 mile off road event taking in the Devil’s Punchbowl. There were lots of hills and it was very muddy underfoot. Carol completed the event in 8 hours


Who Will It Be?

Will it be Iris, Julie, Maddie, Sam, Suzy, Tracy or Yllka? Will it be Barry, Bernie, Craig, Grant, Jason, Jim or Steffan? Who will be the club champions for 2015? Come along to Fairlands Valley Spartans Presentation Evening, Dinner and Disco which will be at Chesfield Downs Gold Club from 7.30p.m. on Friday 26th February. Tickets are just £20. Go to to book yours. You must book by 19th February.


Parkrun Reports

Spartans were relatively few in number at parkruns last weekend as most took it easy ahead of the final cross country league race.

At Panshanger Park ISABEL GREEN had a gentle outing finishing 164th of 197 in 35:52, accompanied by children GEORGINA (165th, 35:52, new course PB) and DANIEL (170th, 37:25, new course PB).

RICHARD KENNEDY and NICOLA HABERLAND ran their regular parkrun at Holkham, Richard finishing 10th of 133 in a new course PB of 20:24. Nicola also achieved a new course PB of 23:01 in finishing 29th.

SIMON JACKSON finished second of 154 runners at Bognor Regis parkrun in a time of 17:59 on his first visit to the venue, while closer to home at the Wimpole Estate ANDREW MARTIN finished 232nd of 250 runners in 37:23 accompanying young Mabel Martin in her first parkrun (same time).

At Brockenhurst DARYL STEVENS was 90th of 91 finishers in 40:02, while DANNY SUTTON and VERITY FISHER ran at Cannon Hill parkrun in Birmingham, Danny finishing 125th of 626 in 22:44 and Verity finishing 255th in 25:45.

Finally, the most northerly Spartans at parkruns were MICK CONNELL (295th of 496 in a time of 27:25) and ROGER HARDMAN (29th, 27:27) who both ran at Newcastle.


Coming Events

Many Spartans will be enjoying a busy programme of races, social and training events over the next few weeks including the:

• Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday 18th February.
• Serpentine 5K in Hyde Park on Friday 26th February at 12.30p.m.
• Spartans Presentation Evening on Friday 26th February. Tickets only £20.
• County Veterans Cross Country Championships on Sunday 13th March (probably Watford).
• Finchley 20 on Sunday 13th March.
• Handicap 5K on Thursday 17th March.
• Serpentine 5K in Hyde Park on Friday 18th March.
• Essex 20 including Intercounties on Sunday 20th March.
• Sport Relief on Sunday 20th March.
• Maidenhead Easter Ten on Friday 25th March.
• County 20 Miles Championships at Oakley on Sunday 3rd April.
• Flitwick 10K on Sunday 17th April.
• London Marathon on Sunday 24th April.
• County 1500 metres open and veteran track and field championships in Stevenage on Monday 2nd May.
• Pednor Five (including County five miles championship for veterans) on Monday evening 2nd May.
• Halstead Marathon, including Hertfordshire County Championships for seniors and veterans, on Sunday 8th May.
• Relays in the Park, our 3K Relays in Fairlands Valley on Thursday 28th July.
• Stevenage Half Marathon, a Stevenage 70 event, on Sunday 6th November.
• County Five Miles Open Championship in Hatfield on 27th November.


Join The Spartans

Live in or near Stevenage? Like running? Fairlands Valley Spartans is your local running club and is on the up! The club was voted the UK’s Best Running Club in 2010. It now has hundreds of members and encourages participation by all. The Spartans have a varied training programme to suit those who want to run 5 kilometres through to full marathons.

The Spartans weekday training sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Go along to the new sports centre at Marriotts School – a Sports College, Telford Avenue, Stevenage (SG2 8UT) at 7p.m. Up to five running groups go out on training nights – there will be one to suit you!

The Spartan Starter group starts from Marriotts at 7.30p.m. every Monday (except public holidays) and 7p.m. every Thursday.

Most long Sunday morning training sessions start 9a.m. sharp. Spartan track training sessions are held at Ridlins Athletics Track, Woodcock Road, Stevenage most Saturdays from 9.15a.m. There are events to enter every Sunday. Newcomers are very welcome – those who have not yet done very much running might prefer to start with a Thursday, Saturday or Monday session.

Try a few sessions before joining. Membership is only £37 per year, £25 without UKA affiliation. Concessions are available. Membership forms are available on the Spartans website Please ask if you would like a paper copy. You can also join online.

If you want to know more about the Spartans please contact Jim Brown (0793 968 7509), Andy Neatham 0777 197 5499 and 01438 816889; or Karen Palmer (07734678566) or visit their website

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