Sunday, 24 March 2019

Village 10km runners not put off by wind and rain

Village 10km runners not put off by wind and rain

THIS year’s Goring 10km race has been hailed a success despite bad weather and the cancellation of last year’s event.

Organisers had feared that attendance would be lower because the race was called off at the 11th hour last year due to snow and ice on the course.

However, almost all the 1,200 spaces in Sunday’s race were taken and the proceeds are expected to be on a par with previous years.

Runners set off at 11am from outside Storton Lodge in Icknield Road and followed a circuit through the countryside north of the village.

They ran as far as South Stoke, where marshalls were manning a water station, before heading south along the Ridgeway past the Withymead nature reserve and then finishing in Bourdillon Field, off Elvendon Road.

The skies were overcast and there were frequent downpours as well as a strong wind, which made the second half much tougher than usual.

The race was started by Ben Smith, a mental health campaigner who completed 401 marathons in 401 days in 2016 to raise awareness of bullying, homophobia and depression.

He jogged alongside the runners to offer words of encouragement and finished 405th in just under an hour.

Children from Goring Primary School, whose parent-teacher association runs the event, gave medals and jelly babies to each finisher as well as flapjacks made by Pierreponts café in the village high street.

The winner was Ben Paviour, 46, from Sonning Common, who runs for Herne Hill Harriers and Reading Roadrunners and regularly competes in the race. He finished in 35 minutes and 54 seconds.

He said: “It’s local to me so I usually do it. It’s a really tough course — in fact, this one and the Woodcote 10km are about the hardest 10km courses you can get.

“It was windy and the last few miles were the hardest I’ve ever known. The conditions were hard but it’s a great local event. I’ve won the men’s veterans category before but this is my first outright win.”

Jess Gibbon, 22, from Rotherfield Greys, who runs for Reading Athletics Club, was the runner-up and the first woman home with a time of 36 minutes and 58 seconds. Miss Gibbon, who was taking part for the third time, said: “It’s a traditional course and a really nice one.

“It was not easy with the rain and there was a really strong headwind uphill. It was good fun but tough.

“I came second the first time I did it but that was under better conditions so I’m even happier with my result.”

Chris Lucas, from South Stoke, a former winner of the Woodcote 10km, came third and was the men’s open winner while 15-year-old Adam Hunt, from Tokers Green, was first in the men’s juniors.

The other category winners were Mark Stileman (men’s super veterans), Peter White (men’s grandmasters), Susan Francis (women’s veterans), David Richards (men’s masters), Stephanie Cook (women’s super veterans) and Tracey Lasan (women’s masters).

Organiser Jules Hopkinson, who also took part, said: “The race had a proper cross-country feel as it was such a wet and blustery day.

“Runners were kept cool by the wind and it made the opening stretch much easier but they had to run into it later on so there was no chance of a new record being set. It was a very tough finish.

“I don’t know how he did it, but Ben managed to speak to hundreds of people and was running for short stretches while holding their hands, which was appreciated. We were very glad to have him with us.

“We were nervous that people would wait until the last minute to see what the weather was like but there was a huge pile of completed entries on the morning and we’re happy with how it went.”

The proceeds will go towards the school’s £30,000 appeal for a new minibus.

The full results will be published in next week’s Henley Standard.

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