AFTER months of benign conditions, there was a gentle reminder of how tough the Harwich Parkrun can be during the autumn and winter on Saturday morning.

Storm Brian was scheduled to arrive later in the day and by 9am the wind was already blowing strongly along the promenade.

Luckily, high tide wasn't until early afternoon - otherwise the runners would have had to contend with large waves crashing over the sea defences.

Even the top runners found the conditions challenging.

The first runner back was Harwich Runner Simon Day, in 19 minutes and one second.

Second place also went to a club member, Simon Harrison, in 19m 37s.

The first three ladies to finish were Harwich Runners.

Claudine Benstead was first on 21m 20s.

The next lady back was Karen Stapleton in a time of 23m 25s.

Personal bests were few and far between this week.

Alison Evans was the only club member to record a new best.

She ran the best Parkrun of her career, in spite of the challenging conditions. Digging deep when it mattered most and feeding off the efforts of runners around her spurred her on in the final section of the run.

She was rewarded with third-placed lady in a new PB, beating her previous fastest time by five seconds to record a new record time of 24m 15s.

The travelling fair had taken root in Cliff Park, but had little effect on the Parkrun as the pathways were kept clear.

This Saturday all should be back to normal and hopefully the weather will be more suitable for running.

Sunday morning was just as windy and four members of Harwich Runners headed down the A12 to Chelmsford for their latest running challenges.

Stephen Peck had chosen this for his first-ever attempt at a marathon and, after a lot of hard work in training and some very impressive results at shorter distances, it was always going to be a result worth looking out for.

In the end, Peck excelled, finishing sixth out of a field of 570 runners in a terrific time of two hours, 51 minutes and 48 seconds.

In the last five years only club record-holder Rob Reason has run faster for the full marathon distance and in the club's 30-year history only three members have run faster over the marathon distance.

The other three club members opted for the shorter 5km race on offer.

Having recorded a new personal best two weeks ago at Martlesham, near Ipswich, Nicola Flatt managed to improve again.

Paced round by coach Steve Cooper, Flatt sliced another 17 seconds off her time to post 23m 7s.

There was also a strong performance by Kieran Callaghan, who finished well in 23m 33s, with all three runners finishing inside the top 30 in a field of just over 200 runners.