Striders dazzle at Annual Awards Dinner

At the St Albans Striders annual awards dinner, Nigel Aston and Magdalena Petrus won the awards for the most improved male and female athletes. Aston has gone from strength to strength in the 2017-18 year, setting new personal bests in every distance more than once over, meanwhile Petrus recently did her first sub-25 5k, and took 15 minutes off both her Half Marathon and Marathon PBs, in Nottingham and New York respectively.

Jen Conway was named female athlete of the year after winning the Welwyn 10K in July, coming 2nd in the Herts 10k, and 4th overall in this year's Scott's Travel Mid Week Road Race League (MWRRL), and getting a four-minute Half Marathon PB in Nottingham in September.

The male athlete of the year went to Jonathan Scott after coming top at the MWRRL this year, and finishing a narrow third in last season's Chiltern Cross Country League. Scott also won the Welwyn 10k for Striders and has broken several of the club's MV40 records.

Michelle Martin won 'Volunteer of the Year' for a year outstanding service in a number of roles, including race marshalling, catering support, and club secretary. Outgoing chairperson Graham Smith was presented with the 'Strider of the Year' award for his hard work and dedication in organising the club and various Striders activities over the year while not being able to run himself.

A new award was created this year in memory of John Hope, a long-running Strider who sadly passed away in November 2017 after a battle with cancer. Subtitled the 'Spirit of Striders', the inaugural John Hope Award was given to Wai Meng Au-Yeong for her loud encouragment, ongoing commitment to turn up at races (even when she isn't running), frequent volunteering, and musical skills with the tambourine.

Finally, two Striders were inducted into our 'Hall of Fame'. Liz Walls joined the club in the 1980s and has run more cross country fixtures for the club than anyone else. She always makes an appearance for the club at Sunday League Cross Country races, and never misses the annual National or Southern Cross Country fixtures at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath. She has also been a regular scorer for the women's team in the MWRRL through the decades, and won several marathons, including Luton in 2001. She finished the London Marathon in 3 hours and 13 minutes in 2003, and in the same year set the club's FV45 20-mile record of 2 hours 25 minutes, which still stands.

Deirdre Heydecker has been a club member for many years holding committee positions such as women's road captain and membership secretary. She has had many Top 10 UK age group rankings including 2nd UK FV60 Marathon in 2016 with her time that year of 3:28 in the London Marathon. She was the first FV60 in the Manchester Marathon 2017, also in 3:28. Her marathon PB is 3:25:50 from the London Marathon in 2015 as an FV55. A true talent at all distances, she holds the current FV55 Striders club records for 5k, 5 miles, 10 miles, Half Marathon, 20 miles, and Marathon. Selfless, modest, and kind, she shows a genuine love of her sport.

The annual club championship season came to an end as well, with Mike Martin winning the men's main competition, Jenny Maddocks the women's, with Paul Adams coming top in the men's age-graded competition, and Anna Ward doing the same in the women's age-graded competition.

Earlier in the day a number of St Albans Striders, alongside junior athletes from St Albans AC, continued the current cross country season by taking on 13 other clubs in the Chiltern League's first division at Teardrop Lakes, Milton Keynes. Jonathan Scott was the first of fifty Striders to finish the 5.4 mile senior men's race, in 31:52, 27th overall, followed by Will Bowran in 32:21, 34th place. The women suffered from a heavy downpour at the start of their 3.3 mile race. Jen Conway was the first Strider of thirty to finish, in 20th place in 22:36. Wendy Walsh was 40th in 23:56 and Helen Cartlidge 47th in 24:25.

Jack Brooks continued his marathon escapades by completing the Madison Marathon in Wisconsin in 4:57:18. It was very cold, starting at -4 degees, but warming up to -1 at the finish. Brooks also described it as one of the hilliest marathons he'd done.

Report by Howard Bull

Photos of the annual dinner by Tony Barr.

Photos of Jen Conway and Jonathan Scott by Barry Cornelius.

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