Just two weeks to go: Half Marathon and Fun Run is a real family affair

Eliot Kitchener and his dad Chris competed at the South Oxhey parkrun a couple of weeks ago. Picture (c) Glen Turner
Eliot Kitchener and his dad Chris competed at the South Oxhey parkrun a couple of weeks ago. Picture (c) Glen Turner

For many Dacorum residents, the Berkhamsted Half Marathon and Five Mile Fun Run offer a chance for families to lace up their trainers and take part in the same event – with other family members and friends on hand to provide support and encouragement.

For some parent and child teams the Fun Run poses an attainable challenge, something they can aspire to achieve together, while for others, it’s more of a competition – who will get to the finish line first?

Rotary Club logo

Rotary Club logo

Other parents will sign up for the Half Marathon while their youngsters run the Fun Run as part of the Schools Challenge, club training or simply a fun morning out with their mates.

Whatever the combination, the Berkhamsted runs provide a unique opportunity to get out and get fit, in a safe and friendly environment, and all for a good cause.

Last year we heard from Berkhamsted family Kate and Phil Bailey and their three children, Charlotte, 12, Jamie, 10 and Freddie, 7 – all of whom will be lining up for the race this year – Kate for the Half Marathon and Phil and the children in the Fun Run.

Charlotte will be joining her classmates at Ashlyns School in a bid to retain the girls’ Schools Challenge title they won last year, while Jamie has emerged as one of the top U11 middle distance runners in the county, and will be hoping to better his very impressive time of 34.33 from last year’s race. Freddie, meanwhile, is excited to run the five miler for the first time.

“Timing has meant we’ve been doing most of our training separately,” says Kate. “But Charlotte is running a cross-country club at Thomas Coram as part of the Ashlyns sports leaders programme, so the children run together there.

“We have also done the beautiful Tring parkrun together which, with its fair share of hills, is great practice for Bullbeggars Lane in the five miler!” Kings Langley resident Chris Kitchener and his son, 11-year-old Eliot, will be at the start line next month, with Chris doing the half marathon and Eliot planning on taking part in the five miler.

Chris said that the pair “sometimes run on the roads together and some Saturdays we do parkrun.

“For me these are some of the most emotionally-rewarding runs. Eliot enjoys sprinting away from me near the finish line just so he can tell anyone who asks that he beat Dad.

“We are looking forward to meeting up after the races in Berkhamsted to compare medals and share running tales.”

Richard Belsey of Hemel Hempstead will be running the five mile race with his son Daniel, who will be turning seven on the day, meaning a radical change of plans for his and twin sister Rachel’s birthday celebrations.

“We’ve run the distance together to make sure we know each other’s pace and that we’re comfortable with the distance,” says Richard.

“We both enjoy running – Daniel especially enjoys running faster than adults!

“Our goal is to complete the run in around 45 minutes and I’m pretty sure that Daniel will beat me by about two seconds!”

Charlotte Ashton and her 11-year old son Thomas are members of the same running club, Dacorum & Tring AC, but usually train separately.

Charlotte said that the Berkhamsted race “has given us the opportunity to run together. Having spent a few evenings on training runs with him my expectations have been crushed, because he is much faster and fitter than me.

“We have decided to continue to run together in the evenings and are planning to run up Bullbeggars Lane several times prior to the race as this lane gives me nightmares.

“We have agreed that on the day of the race Thomas will leave me behind and I will meet him at the end!”

Rob Salt and his children Brittany, 19, and Matthew, 22, will be doing the five mile race.

“We are all doing it for fun. Matt won it in 2013 but, due to injury, he doesn’t expect to repeat this feat,” said Rob.

“He just wants to have a good run instead – he enjoys the challenge of the Five Miler.

“Brittany and I ran together in the Hatfield five-mile race in November and we’re both running with a view to beating our PBs.

“My wife Hazel has recently started running with our club too so we’re hoping we can all run the Berko Five together in the future.”

Being part of a family effort on the day doesn’t always involve running, however.

David Stonhill, director of operations for Iceni Waters, one of the event’s sponsors, will be at the race to cheer on his daughters, both of whom are running the half marathon.

Rebecca, his youngest, will be running her second half after competing in Bristol last year, while his eldest, Terri, will be making her half marathon debut.

David says that Terri, who lives in Berkhamsted, and Rebecca, who is in the process of moving back to Bristol from Brussels, wanted to do the race together as a good way of getting fit before Rebecca gets married later this year.

The two have been following the same 12-week Nike programme so, even though they are in different countries, they feel like they’re training together.

“They regularly call each other, after runs, to compare war stories,” said David. “They’ve just completed their ‘peak week’ of training, consisting of a total of 37 miles in preparation for the upcoming race and have trained over parts of the route to prepare themselves for the hills on the course.

“I am not running myself but I will be there with my wife, cheering them on.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my girls, who have really thrown themselves into running to accomplish something. Their commitment and perseverance is amazing considering they live so far apart at the moment.”

David, who has lived in Berkhamsted his whole life, said that the beauty of the Berkhamsted Half and Five Mile runs are that they “appeal to and attract the full spectrum of residents – from the very youngest to the oldest in the community, the fun runners, the serious runners and those still persevering with their New Year’s resolutions.

“It is a truly inclusive event – which we are pleased to play our small part in!”

> To sign up for the Berkhamsted Half Marathon or Five Mile Fun Run, please visit www.berkorun.com