By Ruth Jones
Hundreds of hardy athletes who flocked to Peterborough for the Nene Valley Harriers 10 mile road race on Sunday were treated to four seasons of weather in one day.
Every variety of weather, from sun to heavy rain and strong winds, kept the 363 runners guessing as to whether it would be snow or a heatwave that would hit the course next.
The popular race, which winds around the streets and woods of Bretton, incorporating a challenging mix of winding housing estate walkways, muddy trails and a variety of bridges, is the Harriers’ flagship event.
The first man across the line was Lincoln Wellington’s Tom Straw, who won in his first attempt at the distance in a fine 53.05mins.
The 23-year-old was well ahead of Hermitage Harriers’ Matt Adcock (46) in 53.59mins, with a similar gap back to third placed Liam Smith (21), from Marshall Milton Keynes, who clocked 54.54mins.
It was the host club’s V45 masters international, Philippa Taylor (47) who took the top honours in the women’s race, taking first prize in a swift 1.01.38hrs.
Taylor’s personal best (PB) for the distance is 59.46mins – she has been struggling with an Achilles injury all year – but still managed to beat her nearest competitor by a minute and a half.
Second place went to Bedford Harriers’ Anna Folland. The 44-year-old smashed her previous best time for the distance with a solid 1.03.07hrs, an improvement of more than two minutes.
Martha Hall (38), from Garden City Runners, claimed the third ladies’ position with 1.04.27hrs, proving that age over youth prevailed on the day.
The event always attracts a competitive field, with the course records of 48.35mins and 55.41mins still standing.
However, it also provides a warm welcome to club and unattached runners of all abilities, with goody bags this year including a commemorative race mug to help competitors celebrate their efforts with a well deserved hot drink after the event.
Meanwhile, the race headquarters provided a warm and dry refuge from the wild weather outside, with plenty of refreshments to keep athletes fuelled up before the race.
The next Nene Valley-hosted event is the Harrier League 5k on February 4 of next year.