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A snowy welcome to the Hoops

As a relative newcomer to the club, the Fred Hughes 10 on January 21st was my first event wearing the red and white hoops. I’d heard a lot about Fred Hughes beforehand and was really looking forward to it, but on the morning of the run, with heavy snow forecast, I was really beginning to question my sanity…especially as our child was on a sleepover and I had the rare opportunity of a lie in! What was I thinking?? But nothing ventured, nothing gained right? I just had to keep my eye on the prize. The prize being the pub lunch afterwards…

The Fred Hughes is a 10 mile race hosted by the St Albans Striders, set in the picturesque and undulating (not hilly!) countryside of St Albans. The 1000 place event is hugely popular and was sold out this year long before race day.

I got a lift up to St Albans with Jojo and Gildas and it was great to have the company of these experienced club racers (and their cute small sidekicks of course). An impressive 26 Hoopsters turned out on race day. The snow was really bucketing down when we arrived and we were all starting to laugh nervously at what lay ahead of us. I had borrowed a light running jacket from Fiona and was really looking forward to wearing it and staying warm and dry, but Gildas gave me a stern talking to and told me that if I was wearing the hoops, I couldn’t cover them up with a running jacket. Basically he told me to harden up. Fair enough! I looked around and everyone else was proudly wearing their club vests….off came the jacket….

There was a great atmosphere inside the school gymnasium where all the runners and supporters had gathered. As I was preparing my race number to attach to my shirt, I asked Neil for a pen and he said “sure” and kindly wandered off on a search - and then returned with some (safety) pins. Apparently after 11 years in the UK, I haven’t lost my Kiwi accent….!

As the start time loomed, the snow was still coming down and showed no signs of abating. We made our way to the start, laughing at the madness of the situation. When the gun went off it was a welcome relief to finally get moving and to start warming up. The snow came down for the entire race but it was oddly pleasant to run in – much better than rain! The ground underfoot was wet and muddy in places and there were a few unavoidable puddles, but generally speaking it was a beautiful 10 mile run through undulating countryside - as promised.

Congratulations to Matt Kitching who was 5th overall and 3rd in his age category with a time of 00:57:38 and to Nathan Pask who was mere seconds behind him, 6th overall and also 3rd in his age category at 00:57:43. Congratulations also to Jojo Braine who secured a new PB, pelting home in 1:14:57.

Huge respect to all the marshals, volunteers and supporters who braved the conditions that day as it was bitterly cold – they definitely had a harder job than the runners.

Thanks to Alex for organising the pub lunch after the race for those who could make it. What a great prize that was! It was certainly worth the sacrifice of a warm lie in and a little jog in the snow. We ate at Ye Old Fighting Cocks in St Albans - apparently the oldest pub in Britain, dating back to circa 793.

It was an incredible first event as an official Hoopster and I would love to do it again next year. Thanks so much to everyone for welcoming me to the club and for all the encouragement you’ve provided on my return to fitness after what has been a six-year-long lazy spell.


Matt Kitching - 00:57:38 (5th/3rd in age category)

Nathan Pask - 00:57:43 (6th/3rd in age category)

Sam Sutherland - 01:00:57 (24th)

Neil Hutchison - 01:02:34 (46th)

Alex Johnston - 01:02:45 (47th)

Jasper Llewellyn - 01:08:06 (105th)

Nicholas Stallman - 01:08:54 (125th)

Stewart Bowring - 01:10:34 (146th)

William Harrison - 01:11:37 (162th)

Jojo Braine - 01:14:57 (215th)

Danny Levy - 01:17:05 (239th)

Alban Millas - 01:19:17 (284th)

Gilly Cross - 01:24:09 (392nd)

James Walerych - 01:24:15 (394th)

Natalie Hall - 01:24:23 (398th)

Patrick Brennan - 01:26:28 (452nd)

Emma Jones - 01:26:28 (450th)

Laura Fairbanks - 01:27:20 (457th)

Anastasia Chew - 01:27:14 (463rd)

Jennifer Humphreys - 01:27:17 (466th)

Franco Genovese - 01:34:07 (565th)

Nicola Englishby - 01:35:53 (589th)

Sofia Ali - 01:47:02 (693rd)

Adrian Boylan - 01:47:06 (694th)

Susan Kennedy - 01:50:33 (712th)

Amanda Logan - 02:04:41 (757th)

(758 finishers)

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