Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Still time to enter this year’s half marathon

PARENTS and children at two Henley primary schools will be competing in this year’s Henley half marathon next month.

PARENTS and children at two Henley primary schools will be competing in this year’s Henley half marathon next month.

Sacred Heart will be represented by 55 people in both the 13.1-mile race and the accompanying Henley Standard 10km event, while 19 parents at Valley Road will also be taking part.

Five-times GB Olympic skier Graham Bell, of New Street, has been enlisted as an ambassador and trainer for Sacred Heart’s runners.

Headteacher Karen Edwards will be running dressed as a meerkat, while parents Debbie Robinson and Lisa Weatherley will be running together three-legged.

Kirsty Grant, a mother and governor at the school, said she came up with the idea because a lot of the parents went running in the mornings.

In the past two years, they have raised £5,000 for the school’s tiger turf sports pitch and some equipment.

This year they hope to raise £4,000 for a new building encompassing two chalet-style rooms in the garden.

Mrs Grant, whose son William is in year three and daughter Olivia is in reception, said: “We’ve got some beginner and advanced runners taking part. There will be a team of children who will be with their parents. Some will be walking but the bigger ones are running in the 10km race.

“It’s lovely to get the children involved as well as parents, teachers and governors.

“It’s about raising money but equally important is doing something together as a school. Karen is a big believer in sport and how it impacts on the children so it also has educational benefits.”

The team, which is the school’s largest entry yet, will be running in special shirts sponsored by Henley Chiropractic Centre.

Bell, who will be leading three training sessions before the race, has been telling the runners how to psyche themselves up for Fawley Hill and instructing them on diet.

He agreed to be involved as he is a friend of Mrs Robinson, whose daughter Emily is a pupil at Sacred Heart.

“I got Debbie into running three years ago,” he said. “I started her off and took her up the ‘hill of shame’ as she calls it.”

Bell, who now works as a commentator for the BBC, has been helping out with the corporation’s Get Inspired programme.

He said his trainer role with the school fitted in with that, adding: “We’re trying to get people into doing sport.”

Mrs Robinson competed in the half marathon last year and said she chose to try three-legged running this year as something different. “It will be a lot more difficult, especially when we’re running up the hill and also down it,” she said.

Valley Road has increased its number of runners from 12 last year.

Siobhan Pratt, who chairs the parent-teacher association, said: “We’re very excited. We’re doing it mainly for team spirit and fun and hopefully we will raise some funds as well.

“Everyone has been training very hard and it has pulled the parents together.

“It’s great to be flying the flag for the school. Last year was the first time and this time everyone is more inspired to get behind it.” Mrs Pratt, of Gainsborough Hill, Henley, said that last year she went to the starting line to support the team and decided to compete this year. She said many of the adults who ran the 10km last year would now be attempting the half marathon.

“Most people do this half marathon rather than others because this is our town and it’s an exciting event to have.” she said.

Runner Joolz Smith, of Gillotts Lane, added: “After last year everyone said how much of a buzz they were on for a long time afterwards so we can’t wait to go again.”

To sponsor the Sacred Heart team, visit https:// mydonate.bt.com/events/sacred heart2013/101140

MORE than 2,000 runners are expected to compete in the Henley half marathon on Sunday, October 13.

The 31st race and the accompanying Henley Standard 10km will start and finish at Henley Rugby Club, beginning at 9.30am.

The half-marathon course goes through Henley over the bridge and along the Thames before crossing the river again and taking runners up Fawley Hill and back to the rugby club.

A minor change has been made to the course at the Flower Pot pub in Aston.

Among the entrants are seven-times winner Ben Reynolds, of Vicarage Road, members of the parent-teacher associations at Valley Road and Sacred Heart primary schools, a team from Henley’s French twin town of Falaise and more than 50 employees of London hotel group Cubitt House. The race raises money for the RNLI and there will be representatives from a number of charities, including Sue Ryder, the Child Bereavement Charity and the Samaritans taking part.

Children from local groups, including the Henley sea cadets, air cadets and Eyot Centre, as well as students from The Henley College and Shiplake College, will be volunteering as marshals.

The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge and is sponsored by Invesco Perpetual. Organiser Peter Wilkinson said it had grown over the years and both races were now timed using electronic chips.

“I think everyone appreciates the splendour of the course,” he said. “We get a lot of volunteers to support it and the feedback is that it’s well-organised. It’s used by a lot of organisations and groups to raise funds for their own good causes, which we welcome. The club is enormously proud of the event and, although it’s a lot of hard work, we have an awful lot of fun.”

Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, a member of the club, said: “It’s great for Henley because it’s a wonderful spectacle. We’re trying to grow the 10km race because we can actually cope with the same number of runners as in the half marathon due to the staggered start times.”

The closing date for online entries is Wednesday, September 25. A limited number of entries are available before 8.30am on the day at a cost of £25 for the half marathon and £20 for the 10km. For more information, visit www.henleyhalfmarathon.org.uk

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