GCRs’ top gun Heal feels the need - the need to run as many miles as possible

PUBLISHED: 08:47 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:47 19 November 2019

Garden City Runners' Dave Heal (right) with Paul Watts of Harlow Runners at Phoenix Running's Day at the Movies event at Walton on Thames.

Garden City Runners' Dave Heal (right) with Paul Watts of Harlow Runners at Phoenix Running's Day at the Movies event at Walton on Thames.


Garden City Runners’ unstoppable marathon marvel was at it again as he closed in on a milestone for the distance.

Phoenix Running's Day at the Movies event was Dave Heal's 44th marathon but he decided not to stop at 26.2 miles and pushed on to complete just shy of 30 miles.

The event required athletes to complete as many laps of a 3.28-mile muddy and slippy trail circuit at Walton on Thames as possible. As long as you start the last lap before the six-hour cut-off you are fine.

Once finished you then get to choose your medal from the various movie-based gongs on offer.

Heal managed nine laps with a total running time of six hours 19 minutes 23 seconds and used the last circuit to guide blind runner Paul Watts from Harlow Runners.

He said: "I took up the challenge of leading Paul with lots of enthusiasm as it's been something I wanted to do for a long time.

"I managed to get him around safely on our ultra distance lap on a very hazardous trail circuit with lots of trip hazards, mud and puddles. "It was a great honour to lead Paul to get our much deserved medals.

"He is a remarkably accomplished athlete."

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As for those medals, Heal added: "I chose the top run medal after the Top Gun movie."

There was more running round water courses in Leighton Buzzard for the Dirt Half, which follows the canal towpath north to Stoke Hammond and through the Rushmere Country Park before returning the same way.

New GCR Herbie Hopkins finished 15th overall in 1:26:59 while Charlee Chapman also joined the fun, clocking 2:12:43.

Eight club members ventured north to the St Neots Half Marathon, a popular and speedy course in the weather conditions.

Daniel Pudner led team GCR home in 1:24:13 and was followed by Rebecca Barden in a new PB time of 1:41:12.

She described the event as having "excellent friendly marshal support around the course and a very welcome flat and downhill last three miles".

Other GCR finishers were Brad Smith (1:41:44), Richard Darley (1:55:37), Mel King (2:01.17), Stuart Whitford (2:05:16), David Selwood (2:10:41) and Lou Smith (2:13:46).

London was calling for three of the Welwyn Garden City-based team.

Michael Scutt and Peter Lapthorne took on the Love Fulham 10k event, part of the City Run series, finishing in 56:56 and 1:00:28 respectively.

Claie Emms meanwhile was at the Richmond Park 10k, finishing the scenic race in 1:31:24.

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