Let’s hear it for the girls: Meet the women who set new standards at Shires & Spires

It was great to see so many strong, inspirational women taking part in our Shires & Spires event last month.

It’s one of my favourite events and always brings together a wide-range of runners, coupled with a fantastic atmosphere and the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside – this year looking particularly resplendent under a hot sun.

At Go Beyond, we have partnered with SheRaces to promote women’s running, but there is still much work to be done.

The imbalance between male and female participants at events is something which remains sadly all too prevalent.

That’s why it was great to see the pre-dominance of women in our 10k race, where 64% of the field was made up of female competitors.

We were also treated to a strong performance by Human Energy runner, Zoe Kemp, which saw her break her own course record in the half-marathon. Zoe sprinted home in 1:36:42 to finish as first woman and third overall over the half-marathon distance.

And there was another podium busting finish in the form of Amy Sarkies’ third place over the three-quarter marathon distance. Amy, who has represented England and Great Britain over 100km, had originally planned to run the event’s 35-mile ultra marathon, but dropped down in distance to take on the three-quarter marathon event – a new distance aimed at bridging the gap between a half- and full marathon – due to a niggling injury.

Despite carrying that injury, she won the women’s race while finishing third overall.

We managed to catch up with Zoe, who is a member of the Weedon-based Human Energy Running Club in Northamptonshire, after the event for a quick race review.

She told us: “It’s always tough here, the hills are tough.

“I’ve done it a couple of times before and I always enjoy it. The half-marathon is not as painful as a marathon. You can settle into it.”

We always love having Zoe at our events, and yet again she produced a superb result. As for Amy, it is not every day you get to welcome a Great Britain international to a race.

We have seen internationally how the likes of Jasmin Paris, Camille Herron and Courtney Daulwater have shaken up the running world and consistently beaten male runners.

It’s fantastic to see that being replicated at local events as well.

What is Shires & Spires?

For those who don’t know (where have you been!), Shires & Spires consists of five separate distances raced through the Northamptonshire countryside, with runners competing over 10k, half-marathon, three-quarter marathon, full marathon, and the ultra distance.

The event starts and finishes in Naseby in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside, and the home of one of the most important battles in British history.

The Battle of Naseby 1645, part of the English Civil War, saw The Parliamentarian New Model Army, commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, destroy the main Royalist army under Charles I and Prince Rupert.