Even though the numbers were dramatically down on pre-Covid times, the 500 runners in the Henley Half Marathon and 10K run enjoyed the picturesque and one of the toughest courses in the area, in the sunshine yesterday morning.
Friends Jen Armsom from London and Emma Langston Davis from Lower Shiplake were joint half marathon ladies winners crossing the line together in 1 hour 27 mins. Jen said, “I’ve run the course once in 2006. I was third that day. It was absolutely fantastic to win today. I love a local race and there is something really special about running with your friend because you’ve got company and support. Crossing the line together was so nice. Emma added, ” I’ve never run the this one but done lots of other ones. It’s the first one this year as I’m five months pregnant and we were running it together and didn’t expect to win. The course is really nice, the hill was really tough and Jen had to really encourage me up it. The rest was lovely. The baby has been kicking me quite a lot since 7 miles. It’s probably thinking why haven’t you stopped and what are doing woman?!”
Paul Piper from West London won the Half Marathon in a quick time of 1 hour 11min 31 secs (the second quickest time in 8 years). He said afterwards, “I entered on the day. It was a long training run for the Valencia marathon in December. I’ve never run the course – it was very interesting! It’s the longest hill I’ve done in a half marathon. I thought I was at the top and I had another quarter of mile to go. Then you get the downhill and your legs go.”
Ben Reynolds who has previously won the half marathon 8 times came in fourth in a time of 1 hour 17mins. He commented, “It was hard work. I’m a bit old for this caper. I went out with these three young guys, then I thought that was a bit stupid so I let them go. It’s always a lovely course and that’s why I love coming back as I don’t live in Henley any more.”
Chris Lucas who runs for Reading Roadrunners won the 10K race in 39mins 38secs. He said, “I am really happy. I didn’t know what to expect doing this one. I had a week off, really taking it easy, and thought I’d see how it goes. Luckily I felt really good today, so I’m really pleased. The time was around what I was expecting. I knew the course had a massive hill in the first few kilometres so I factored that it. I think if I got around 37 minutes which, I was thinking if I get around that I’ll be really happy. I did the half marathon in 2018. I haven’t really done much half marathon training but I thought, 10k, I had the form for. I think this is the first 10k race I’ve done since last year.”
The first woman over the line for the 10K race was 17 year old Amelie Judge from Henley who is studying A Levels at St Helen’s and St Katharine’s. She completed the course in 50mins 55 secs. Afterwards she said, “I really enjoyed it. I went to a party last night so I’m glad I managed to get round. I just kept going and tried to really relax, and it just flows. In lockdown I did lots of running. I do a lot of sports at school so I don’t really have time to go for runs during the week, but I really enjoy running. I ran with my dad. He’s somewhere behind me. I think he was expecting me to beat him! I do lots of lacrosse, I play netball at school, I do hockey outside of school and I do some gymnastics as well. I love sport; it’s my favourite thing.”
Zeph Gibbon from Trinity who was celebrating his birthday by running the 10K with his Dad for the first time. He said afterwards, “My Dad said it would be something memorable.” His Dad added, “Worst birthday ever?!” We’ll make up for it later with a big cake.”
The event is organised by Henley Rotary Clubs. Annie Lathaen, Henley Rotary Club President said “The 10k and half marathon went off very successfully, the weather was a bit drizzly at first but then the sun came out and all was well. There were fewer runners this year and we think that several factors had an influence on this, Covid and because of Covid restrictions we didn’t make the final decision to go ahead until the beginning of June when usually we announce the date in April; Covid still has an effect on whether people want to compete and be in a crowd, many events have been down on numbers; several other10k and half marathon races have taken place recently and the London Marathon only took place last week. All in all many factors which led to fewer competitors however, we hope numbers will be back to normal in 2022. Unfortunately, the reduction in competitors will mean less money to give to local charities. Once we have paid the bills we will be in a position to know how much surplus we have to give to good causes. A big thank you to all those involved planning, competing, helping on the field, the marshalls and those running the water stations. I look forward to next year when hopefully things will be back to normal.”