Cold and windy but there was no sign of the threatened snow for Sunday’s Watford Half Marathon which included the Hertfordshire County Championship within the open race.

Come Back for London Winter 

Cold and windy but there was no sign of the threatened snow for Sunday’s Watford Half Marathon which included the Hertfordshire County Championship within the open race.

The Watford Half is a race of hills and this year there was a new tough one avoid the floods encountered in previous years.

Despite this GRANT RAMSAY beat the 80 minute barrier to finish in 1 hour 19 minutes 28 seconds.  He was fourth veteran (40 plus) and 34th overall out of 1,821 finishers.  There were new personal bests by TIM SABAN, 367th in 1:37:15, improving his time on the fast St Neots course by nine seconds; YLLKA ISTREFI, 508th in 1:40:41, improving on her Bedford time by 2 minutes 41 seconds and a season’s best 1:49:31 for JIM BROWN who was 838th and improved by exactly two minutes.

SUZY HAWKINS was 476th in 1:39:56 and ANDREW JORDAN, coming from a long way back, 493rd with a chip time of 1:39:22. 

AMANDA WHORWOOD finished in 2 hours 8 minutes 48 seconds and ANTHONY WALLER in 2:12:47.  Despite the extra hill PAUL HOLGATE improved his time from 2014 by six minutes to finish in 2 hours 13 minutes 1 second. 

Position Name Time Comments
34 GRANT RAMSAY 1:19:28 4th Veteran (40 plus)
367 TIM SABAN 1:37:15 Personal Best (PB)
476 SUZY HAWKINS (F) 1:39:56  
493 ANDREW JORDAN 1:39:22  
508 YLLKA ISTREFI (F) 1:40:41 Personal Best (PB)
838 JIM BROWN 1:49:31 Season’s Best (SB)
1529 AMANDA WHORWOOD (F) 2:08:48  
1596 ANTHONY WALLER 2:12:47  
1597 PAUL HOLGATE 2:13:01 6 mins improvement on 2014

1821 finishers.  A huge number did not start.


30 Year Comeback at London Winter


New Spartans PAUL and HANNAH WEST (father and daughter) completed their first 10K race today at the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run 2015.  Paul (MV45), who had not run in over 30 years until joining the club recently, finished in 1 hour 15 minutes 28 seconds, and Hannah, still a junior, finished in 1:09:21.  They are both looking forward to their next race. 

HAZEL SMITH and DAWN HARDY ran their first race for Fairlands Valley Spartans at the same event.  It was a very cold day with a bitterly cold wind and the snow machines around the route made it feel even colder.  Hazel ran well, only slowing down for the last 2K to finish in an amazing 58 minutes.  Dawn finished in 1 hr 19 mins.  Both times were personal bests.  Joining Hazel for this run was her Mum CATHY CRAIG, a second claim Spartan who finished in 1 hr 1 min.



Looking ahead to Sunday’s race JIM BROWN had a steady run round the Hyde Park 5K on Friday. 

On a cold, dry but windy day he was 197th out of the 265 runners in 24 minutes 55 seconds (24:59 gun time).


Parkrun Report 

The Spartans were out in force on the weekly Saturday parkrun circuit, this time heading up to Cambridgeshire for the scenic run around Wimpole Hall Estate north of Royston. The snow showed signs that this could have been a whiteout but was not to happen, instead the runners got an offering of ice and mud on the one lap course.  A lot of runners couldn’t cope with the steep hill after 2km due to heavy snow and the slippery conditions but it didn’t stop the group from Stevenage running up it.   

First Spartan home was Daniel Bates still recovering from last week’s marathon in Gran Canaria but finished just outside the top ten places with a time of 22-07.  Thomas Sauka wasn’t far behind finishing in 22-46 whilst Mark Allen paced home in 24-44.  Emma Kinsley was sixth female in 26-19.  Thomas, Mark and Emma were running Wimpole for the first time.  There were 201 runners. 

12th – Daniel Bates – 22-07; 19th – Thomas Sauka – 22:46; 34th – Mark Allen – 24-44 and 57th – Emma Kinsley – 26-19. 

However a lot of parkrun courses were cancelled due to the extreme icy and snowy conditions across the country which caused problems for Verity Fisher and Danny Sutton at the Southampton parkrun course.  The run was cancelled but they ran round the course in about 30:52.


Running London? 

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:   

  • Cross Country League at Therfield Heath, Royston on Sunday 15th February.
  • Bramley 20 mile road race on Sunday 15th February.
  • Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday evening 19th February.
  • Serpentine 5K on Friday 27th February.
  • Presentation Evening, Dinner and Dance at Chesfield Downs on Friday 27th February. Tickets available now.
  • County Veterans Five Mile Championship, and open road race, at Berkhamsted on Sunday 1st March.
  • Finchley 20 mile road race on Sunday 8th March.
  • Silverstone Half Marathon on Sunday 15th March.
  • Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday evening 19th March.
  • County Cross Country Championships for Veterans in Trent Park on Sunday 22nd March.
  • Welwyn Garden City Half Marathon on Sunday 22nd March.
  • 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.
  • County 1500 metres track championship in Stevenage on Monday 4th May.
  • County 5 miles senior championships at Pednor on Monday evening 4th May.
  • Bushy 10K including Herts Veterans road championships on Sunday 5th July.
  • County 10000 metres track championship in Biggleswade on Thursday 9th 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.
  • Stevenage Half Marathon (includes County Veterans) on Sunday 1st 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 9.30a.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


More from Jim Brown (Press Officer) 0793 968 7509 or Karen Palmer (Secretary) 07734678566


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