Star Strider Humphries on comeback trail

Star Strider Tom Humphries (right), who is firmly on the comeback trail after problems with injury.
Star Strider Tom Humphries (right), who is firmly on the comeback trail after problems with injury.

One of the most accomplished trail runners at the Gainsborough and Morton Striders club is on his way back to his best after an horrendous time with injuries.

Tom Humphries was sidelined for most of 2016, but the new year has started out much better. He dipped his toe back into the racing pool in a very modest, by his standards, 27km race at the Wildest Peaks Trail Run in the Peak District and he emerged from the very hilly contest with a fine fifth-place finish and, thankfully, injury-free.

Humphries’ time of two hours, seven minutes was less than a minute behind the winner of the 100-competitor race, which should give gime great encouragement that he can get back to the form which saw him become a member of the prestigious Bob Graham 24-Hour Club, one of the top achievements for trail runners.

The Bob Graham Club consists of runners who have all successfully completed the Bob Graham Round, which is a 66-mile circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District within 24 hours. The circuit includes 27,000 feet of ascent.

Elsewhere, there was very little racing at the weekend so, once again, Striders resorted to training runs in preparation for their forthcoming 10k, ten-mile or marathon races. However, many of them also took part in Saturday morning’s ever-popular parkruns, which were scattered across the country.

At Gainsborough, Ronnie McWilliam ran his slowest time for more than a year, 19.43 minutes, but it was still almost three minutes quicker than anyone else and it was still enough to maintain his remarkable record as he secured his 29th first-place finish from 30 starts.

Fellow Strider Dave Bembridge was third to finish, in his first run for almost a year, while Steven Gaffney pocketed a fourth-place finish with his third personal-best (PB) time in successive outings.

Kirsty Smithson celebrated her 50th parkrun with a time of 31.59 minutes, while the most prolific runner at Gainsborough, Maureen Allen, completed her 64th run in 39.31.

Of the junior Striders on view, Scott Frisby finished in 31.40, a minute ahead of Dyllan Marsh, with Cayden Kelsey clocking 37.15.

There were three parkrun tourists representing the club at the weekend. Craig Ward and Clare Hardwick made the short trip to Sherwood Pines in Notitnghamshire, where they ran 20.54 and 30.38 respectively. Karen Ramsdale made the much longer trip to the Tees Barrage event in the north-east, but would have considered it fully worthwhile as she secured a personal-best time of 27.54.

Should anyone be thinking of running a marathon or half-marathon this year, then feel free to join in with one of Striders’ weekly club training sessions. The Thursday senior session starts at 6.30 pm from Queen Elizabeth’s High School, while the next Tuesday evening senior session will begin from DW Sports in Marshall’s Yard at 7.15 pm. High-visibility clothing will be required. Meanwhile the juniors continue their training on Tuesday at 5.30 pm at the Gainsborough Academy.