Best foot forward as Garden City Runners delighted with growth and solidarity in lockdown

Garden City Runners at the 2019 Hertfordshire Half at Knebworth

Garden City Runners are looking forward to a big get together, like this one at the 2019 Hertfordshire Half Marathon at Knebworth House. - Credit: GCR

Garden City Runners have emerged from the lockdowns in a strong position after positive feedback at the club's AGM.

Held online and with members logging in from around the country, chairwoman Jane Molloy reflected on the challenges the pandemic had posed as well as speaking positively about the future.

She believes the previous 12 months have shown how strong the GCR community is and how loyal, creative and supportive the members are.

The club has hosted a wide range of both virtual and real events, when permitted, and particular acknowledgement was given to Richard Somerset and Peter Harvey for organising a full season of midweek league and cross-country events, as well as other special one-off.

Molloy took special pride in how speedily the club officials and run leaders have responded to changing circumstances and their willingness to shoulder the additional responsibilities required to keep members safe and compliant.

Looking ahead, she emphasized two priorities for the club, the first of which is to rebuild the face-to-face community, including a hoped-for mass celebratory get-together in the autumn.

That will lead into the planning for the club's 40th birthday in 2022.

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The second target is on performance development with a more structured approach to be driven and co-ordinated by new club secretary, Sean Bowen, with the support of other coaches and run leaders in the club.

GCR have managed to maintain their membership, holding steady at 370, and there are a couple of new faces in positions of power.

Helen Paine has stepped down as women's captain, replaced by Hannah Frank, and she will be assisted by Rebecca Barden.

James Huish and Tom Wackett remain in charge of the men.

There will be plenty for the club to get their teeth into as the year progresses, especially in June.

The first parkrun is scheduled for June 5 with the Herts Half Marathon and 10k taking place a day later at Knebworth House.

Seven days later half marathon runners will head to St Albans while the Welwyn 10k will be a virtual event this year with runs during the period June 25 to July 3 counting.

Some are already racing, like David Heal who clocked up marathon number 76 at Denbies wine estate.

Racing over laps of a hilly 3.28 mile trail circuit. Heal said: "It was brutal with 2,906 feet of ascent and strong winds blowing me back on the downhill sections.

"It was the first time in four visits to Denbies I’ve not managed an ultra nine laps but I’m happy to have finished another marathon distance especially on a circuit like that."

He completed the 26.2 miles in six hours 31 minutes 18 seconds.

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