Great performances at the Welwyn Half Marathon, medal winners at the Herts County Cross Country Championships and a 5k handicap.

Welwyn Half Marathon * County Cross Country * Handicap 5K 

Fairlands Valley Spartans had a winner and some great performances at the Welwyn Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  After a cold start conditions were great for running as proved by new club member STEFFAN FORD who came third overall out of 348 finishers in 1 hour 20 minutes 5 seconds.  This was Steffan’s first outing as a Spartan.  He has been training with the club for the last two months.  The race was in the beautiful countryside of Hertfordshire and made for a good local race.   He says the race for third became a tactical affair over the last three miles. The final push with two miles to go was decisive and the final hill section of the course was his fastest mile split of the day. 

TIM SABAN improved his personal best (PB) to 1:32:45 and came 45th while MADDIE PRITCHARD cut her PB to 1:35:14. 

JIM BROWN got involved in a real scrap in his age category.  Although he didn’t know what position he was in at the time he caught the leader at 11 miles Jim produced a genuine sprint in the last 50 metres to win the Vet 60 prize by seconds.  He was 113th overall, beating his season’s best by 4 minutes 2 seconds, when he finished in 1:45:29. 

Men’s team captain DANIEL BATES was 49th in 1:33:59 and MARK GOODWIN completed the men’s team of four in 1:41:01.

IAN ALEXANDER was a real hero.  Running his first ever half marathon he went off course but still battled on to finish a total of about 14 miles in 2 hours 54 minutes 53 seconds. 

DAWN EASBY was 190th in 1:56:47; TRACEY SKINNER 250th in 2:08:43; NICK WITCOMBE 287th in 2:14:24; VIVIENNE HONEY 288th in 2:14:02 and LES BUTLER 339th in 2:33:09.  


Position Name Time Comments
3 STEFFAN FORD 1:20:05 New club member
45 TIM SABAN 1:32:45 PB
49 DANIEL BATES 1:33:59  
56 MADDIE PRITCHARD (F) 1:35:14 PB.   4th FS.
88 MARK GOODWIN 1:41:01  
113 JIM BROWN 1:45:29 1st MV60! SB (4:02)
190 DAWN EASBY (F) 1:56:47  
250 TRACEY SKINNER (F) 2:08:43  
287 NICK WITCOMBE 2:14:24  
288 VIVIENNE HONEY (F) 2:14:02 (Chip Time)
339 LES BUTLER 2:33:09  
346 IAN ALEXANDER 2:54:53 1st Half Marathon. Extra mile.


Gold for Iris; Silver for Julie.  

Seven Spartans competed in the Hertfordshire County Cross Country Championships for veteran runners on Sunday morning.  IRIS HORNSEY won the gold medal for women over 75 and JULIE SIMMONS the silver for women over 55.  The women’s team were fifth. 

In the men’s race over eight kilometre BERNIE BARNABY was 32nd in 37:55; THOMAS SAUKA 45th in 40:15 and ANDY JAY 52nd in 45:19 while in the women’s over 6.5K JULIE SIMMONS was ninth overall in 32:46; PETA WILSON 23rd in 38:13; SHARON CROWLEY 30th in 43:48 and IRIS HORNSEY 33rd in 44:49.


Tim and Liz Win Handicap 5K 

Eighteen Spartans took part in Thursday evening’s Handicap 5K race.  The winner on the night was Tim Robinson in a new personal best (PB) of 22:59, a 58 seconds improvement.  Daniel Bates was second also improving his PB, this time by 17 seconds to 19:28.  Last month’s winner Andy Jay was third, 44 seconds faster than February, in 23:29. 

Liz Carvell was first female in a new PB of her own, 49 seconds quicker in 29:18, with newcomer Jane McFarlane second in 28:22 and Fiona Thornton third in her debut 5k, with 27:11. 

Daniel Bates was quickest runner with his 19:28, with Callum Beasley second quickest in 21:49, and Mark Goodwin third fastest with 22:33.  Verity Fisher was fastest female in 23:00, with Fiona Thornton second quickest and Jane McFarlane third fastest.

There were also PBs for Mark Allen 22:43, Ken Jude 24:09, and Carmel Thornton 31:10, and year best times for Callum Beasley, Mark Goodwin, Paul Holgate, Mark Cheadle, Nick Witcombe and Sharon Crowley. 

Next Handicap 5k will be on Thursday 30th April 2015.


Roger Challenges Whale

Roger Biggs partly made up for missing USA marathons on the last two weekends, with a three medal haul in Virginia Beach.  He took part in the Whale Challenge, that meant running an 8km race on Saturday, and a marathon on Sunday.  One medal for each race, then an extra medal for completing both. 

Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, both days were almost perfect for running, with both event courses virtually flat.  Roger not only will return to the UK with three medals, add to that two long sleeve t-shirts, two shoe bags, one cap and one towel.  They may not be cheap races, but you certainly get your share of ‘bling’, as all the items are referred to in the States.

Roger’s times were 1:02:26 for the 8km and 6:07:51 for the marathon.



The first ever Parkrun at Hatfield Forest just south of the main runway of Stansted Airport was held on Saturday.  Daniel Bates went to give the event a boost and fly the flag for Stevenage and the Spartans.  However there was no repeat performance of the Thursday night’s Stevenage 5km Handicap (finishing that event in 19-28) and he crossed the line in 11th place (out of 188 runners) in 20-37.  However the one-lap course was an excellent warm up for the next day’s half marathon in Welwyn.  The course goes through the heart of Hatfield Forest, consists of gravel path, wooden walkways and grassy patches and a tour of the lake is included.  A great flat course, not a PB course but one which makes runners run hard.

Down at the Spartans favourite local Parkrun, Panshanger in Hertford, Steve Elder was first home for the blue stripes finishing in 10th (out of 190 runners) with a time of 20-39. Verity Fisher (60th) finished in 24-45, Daniel Sutton (61st) in 24-46, Emma Kinsley (63rd) in 24-55 and Mark Allen (64th) in 24-56.  Jeanette Collins came in 94th with a new Parkrun PB of 27-13.   

JASON ANDERSON was in Ireland at thes weekend for a wedding. He took the opportunity to run his first park run and came third in the Kilkenny race with a time of 18 minutes 20 seconds.  Not a PB but he reckons he had a sore head from drinking too much Guinness the night before!


Running London?

With just over four weeks to go so far 24 Fairlands Valley Spartans have declared that they are running this April’s London Marathon.  Some have qualified on time; some came out of the draw; many are running for charity. 


Please support them.  Over the next few weeks several stories on the Spartan entries will be released.  To get the ball rolling


Got a place in the London Marathon?   

Got a Place in the London Marathon?  Every year Fairlands Valley Spartans successful train thirty or more people, many of them first timers, to run the London Marathon.  There are training groups from starters to fast fives to suit everyone.  Why not have a look at or contact Jim Brown 0793 968 7509 or Karen Palmer 0773 467 8566?  Newcomers very welcome.


Coming Events 

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

  • Serpentine 5K in Hyde Park on Friday 27th March.
  • Orion 15 classic cross country on Saturday 28th March.
  • Oakley 20 mile road race on Sunday 29th March.
  • Maidenhead Easter Ten on Friday 3rd April.
  • Sandy 10 mile road race on Sunday 12th April.
  • Flitwick 10K on Sunday 19th April.
  • London Marathon on Sunday 26th April.
  • Handicap 5K on Thursday 30th April.
  • County 1500 metres track championship in Stevenage on Monday 4th May.
  • County 5 miles senior championships at Pednor on Monday evening 4th May.
  • Midweek Road Race League race in Stevenage on Tuesday 12th May.
  • Midweek Road Race League race in Chingford on Wednesday 27th May.
  • Midweek Road Race League race in Harlow on Wednesday 17th June.
  • Midweek Road Race League race in Hitchin on Thursday 2nd July.
  • Bushey 10K including Herts Veterans road championships on Sunday 5th July.
  • County 10000 metres track championship in Biggleswade on Thursday 9th July.
  • Midweek Mob Match in Welwyn Garden City on Thursday 16th July.
  • Fairlands Valley Off Road Challenge on Sunday 19th July.
  • County and Open 3K Relay Championship in Stevenage on Thursday 30th July.
  • County 5K Senior Championships on 2nd September.
  • County 5K Veterans Championship on 16th September.
  • Standalone 10K (inc. country senior champs) in Letchworth on Sunday 4th October.
  • Great Eastern Run in Peterborough on 11th October.
  • Stevenage Half Marathon (includes County Veterans) on Sunday 1st November.
  • St. Neots Half Marathon on Sunday 15th November.
  • County 10 miles Veterans Championship at Buntingford on 27th December.



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 £35 per year, £25 without UKA membership.  Concessions are available.  Membership forms are available on the Spartans website  Please ask if you would like a paper copy. 


If you want to know more about the Spartans please contact Jim Brown (0793 968 7509), Karen Palmer (07734678566) or visit their website



Leave a Reply