Chantal’s the glory girl as vets enjoy a day out at the seaside

SOMETIMES we struggle to get reports from Roadrunners events. This week we are privileged to have TWO from the same meeting, with Sam Whalley and Colin Cottell doing the honours. Here’s the contribution from ladies’ captain Sam…

ANYONE who had seen the weather forecast for Bournemouth midweek might have been put off attending the first Hampshire League cross-county fixture of the season. But then again, it would have been proper XC weather. Unlike what it actually turned out to be – very mild and quite sunny.

The Bournemouth fixture is the furthest away, and it can be difficult to persuade enough people to travel, particularly with rumoured travel disruption just outside of the town.

Imagine my delight when nine women and nine men turned up – a bit of a difference to the respective three and seven we had seen a year ago; the word is spreading.

First of our women back was Chantal Percival, with a placing of 15th, the highest we have seen in the club for some time, and a position that earned her an offer to run for Hampshire in the Inter-Counties XC champs, had she been eligible.

Hopefully we will see Chantal (second from right in our team line-up) receive a similar offer in the Berkshire XC champs at the end of the year.

Making up the overall scoring team were Gemma Buley (47) and Bithja Jones (49), the latter running her first XC race for the club. Afterwards, Bithja said: “I hated it from km 3 to km 5, and now I feel like I loved it.” Yep. Sounds about right.

Sarah Dooley (73rd) and Nicole Rickett (137th) were our other vets to score, Nicole feeling like she had run her best given her recent holiday and busy work schedule, which involves shoe-horning in runs whenever she can.

Travelling by train with her Southampton University Athletics Club team-mates was Katie Rennie, making her debut in the Hampshire League, and giving us our first Under 20 runner in the team, at least in recent years.

Next was Claire Seymour, still basking in the glow of her Chester Marathon PB last week, albeit on tired legs, followed by Nicky Chadwick, who, like me, was inspired to run XC by a daughter who needed ferrying to the fixtures. The team was completed by Alix Eyles, making a return to racing.

I was delighted with the performances of all of the teams and hope this level of popularity continues throughout the season.

And here are the words of wisdom from Colin…

LONG gone are the days when Reading Roadrunners were represented by one man and his dog (well, actually, there was no dog) at the annual Hants Cross-Country League fixture in King’s Park, Bournemouth.  It was more a case of ‘we do love to be beside the seaside’ as the green vests descended on the south coast, if not exactly in their hordes, but in sizeable numbers.

The 70-mile journey proved to be time well spent as the green vests turned in a host of top performances.  We were up against some of the premier running clubs in the country, notably Aldershot, Farnham and District, never mind in Hampshire, and at the end of an afternoon of high-class racing,  Roadrunners’ veterans stood proudly at the top of the vets’ league and in seventh position in the first division. 

Meanwhile, our ladies, who had raced earlier in the afternoon in bright and unseasonably warm conditions, were in eighth position in their league, and sixth in the veterans’ table. 

In what is an inexperienced women’s team at this level of competition, pride of place must go to Chantal Percival.  Continuing her rich vein of form after her 1.27 half marathon the week before, and in her very first Hants League event, she ran a storming race.  

As high as 11th place at one stage, she faded only slightly on the last lap to come in 15th, but still well ahead of athletes of the calibre of W45 England international Kath Bailey. 

Gemma Buley and Bithja Jones, the latter also contesting her first Hants League race, also ran strongly, finishing 47th and 49th respectively. 

The results for all our women can be found here: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2018/20181013_hlwomen.htm

I am afraid I haven’t very much to say about the men. I was running, and by the time I had finished they were all on their second cup of tea. Suffice it to say they performed to the same high standard to which we have recently grown accustomed, Mark Apsey having a great race, Andy Mutton also going well and Chris Buley making a top debut.

I did hear Mark Worringham complaining that he was 15 seconds down on last year, and that he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, but I will take that with a pinch of sea salt given that he came in first V40, with Lance Nortcliff second.

With Andrew Smith and Pete Jewell giving great support, all I can say is Lord help all the other teams, when our vets gets all their ducks in a row.  

Full results for the men are at https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2018/20181013_hlmen.html

I won’t trouble you with my own travails, except to say that it if had been a cricket match, the phrase ‘he didn’t trouble the scorers’ would have been appropriate. 

I can at least say that I continued my proud tradition in recent years of being the last male green vest to cross the line, although on this occasion I was only a whisker away from pipping Stuart Jones, another excellent debutant, to the post.

I tried a new tactic of trying to pace myself using my TomTom – I usually don’t switch it on at all for cross-country –  but found that after starting at 3.55 per km pace, and feeling easy, this dropped away steadily, until that final mad and ultimately futile dash to the line. 

The next Hants League fixture is on Saturday, November 10th, at Wellesley Woodlands, Aldershot. 

How Roadrunner Jane Davies put the ‘great’ in grandmother

ROADRUNNERS’ latest international Jane Davies tells the inside story of her debut for the England Age Group Masters team at the Chester Marathon…

SUNDAY, October 7th, saw me up before dawn tucking into a tin of cold rice pudding… my pre-marathon breakfast of choice.

By 7am I had donned my England vest and lots of layers of warm clothing and outside the sun was coming up. Our first task was to scrape the ice off the car before heading into the city to Chester racecourse. 

At race HQ, there was already a buzz and a warm welcome at the England Athletics tent. Pre-race team photos were a challenge as we had to strip off down to race kit in glacial conditions.

Our paparazzi moment was soon over and there was time for a quick canter around the racecourse before heading to the special start pen for the Celtic Challenge competitors. We were just behind the elites and puffed up with pride.

We set off at 9am with a loop around the city before heading out into the countryside and crossing the border into Wales.

My race plan was to average 5 minute-kilometres, but my new Garmin was telling me that I was doing 4m 35s. A quick decision (and it proved to be a good one) was to keep going at that pace for as long as possible, ticking off each kilometre.

It was certainly a gamble as I had done 3h 41m at Brighton in April and my race plan for Chester was a finish time between 3.30 and 3.40.  

My progress was helped by lots of family support en route; my husband, Phil, who I saw twice and who was in charge of my performance-enhancing jelly babies; my daughter, Helen, with her friend, Lizzie, and our granddaughter, Lexi, had found themselves a Welsh vantage-point; my son, Michael, daughter in law, Claire, and our baby grandson, Zac, were close to the start and later cheering me on as I came along the home straight at the finish.

My parents, Ann and Richard, were with me in spirit, supporting from their home in Suffolk, so I had four generations of family support in all.

I was in good spirits throughout the race with just one flat patch early on around the six-mile mark, but soon came through this and out the other side.

At the 20-mile point, when marathon gurus tell you that you are psychologically halfway, I knew I had to keep strong and have faith that my training would pay off. It certainly did and I overtook a lot of fellow runners during the last six miles.

The route was mainly flat with a few undulations until the last mile when we found out they’d been saving up a serious hill for us. It was SO tough at that stage of the race and we all had to dig deep to conquer it.

Finally, the racecourse was in sight and the finish gantry – euphoria!  Now I know how the horses feel. 

As we crossed the finish line to the roars from the crowd, we were rewarded with a wonderfully calorific goody bag (not a nosebag!) and a chunky medal.

My race stats : 

  • Finish time : 3.22.23  (PB : London marathon 2013 : 3.22.15)
  • Second in F55 category
  • 59th female out of a total 831 = top 8 per cent of women overall
  • Overall – 553 out of 2785 = top 20 per cent

I would recommend the Chester marathon for its excellent organisation, lovely venue, wonderful marshals and for all the friendly local people who came out to support. 

Plans now are to enjoy the cross-country season running for the club then to tackle the London marathon once again in April.  It will be my tenth London, 30 years after I first ran it in 1989.

The sky’s the limit for ambitious Roadrunners relay squad

 

ROADRUNNERS celebrated their first appearance in the national road relay championship finals with an ambitious target…. now let’s get there every year!

Men’s captain Phil Reay said: “The future’s bright for us. We’ve set a new benchmark. It was the first time in 31 years we have made it there, but with the strength in depth we have I expect these finals to be an annual fixture on our calendar.”

Roadrunners’ senior men were a highly-creditable 71st at Sutton Coldfield, having been elevated one place from their finishing position following the disqualification of Gateshead Harriers.

Our under-strength line-up on the Birmingham course included just two of the squad who did so well to qualify from the southern finals at Crystal Palace, Jack Gregory and Seb Briggs.

They were joined by two members of the B team, Chris Lucas and Jamie Smith, veteran squad anchor man Ben Whalley, and late call-up Ian Giggs. Reay said: “They all did the club proud.”

Like most of the other teams, Roadrunners front-loaded their line-up with their quickest runner, Jack producing our fastest leg in 18mins 42secs, good enough for 46th place.

Such was the strength of the opposition that Reading AC’s top man, the Great Britain international Jonny Davies, could only manage 12th place. Anyone who saw the clips posted on the club’s Facebook page by the acclaimed film-maker Pete Morris couldn’t failed to be impressed by how fast these guys were racing… and that was only the second-strings!

Nevertheless Seb managed to maintain most of Jack’s good work by coming home in 19:16 for 46th place. Chris ran 20:32 for 58th, Jamie 22:47 for 68th, Ian 22:51 for 72nd and Ben stayed in 72nd with 21:09. Our accumulated time was 2:05:17.

Among the big names who were missed by the Green Vests after their heroics at Crystal Palace were Matthew Richards and David McCoy, who both ran personal bests in the Chicago Marathon the following day. Matt clocked 2:31:20 and David 2:44:32.

The club had fielded a total of seven teams in the SEAA championships at Crystal Palace, with several club members stepping up to the challenge of running in more than one team after late cry-offs.  

“Every single runner gave 100 per cent,” said women’s team captain Sam Whalley later. “It was a grand day out.”

For the women, ever-consistent Carrie Hoskins was the fastest  Roadrunner over the 4.8k course, recording 18.32, followed by Gemma Buley in 18.54 and Katherine Sargeant 19.15.

Both Claire Seymour and Susan Knight went the extra mile by running two legs after two of those originally selected couldn’ t make it.

“It was tough but good,” said Susan. “It was a bit steep quite early on, but it doesn’t go on for ever.” Crystal Palace split times:

Senior Women A (4 stages of 4,800m): Gemma Buley (18.55), Jane Copland (19.54), Pip White (21.06), Sophie Hoskins (20.56).

Senior Women B: Sally Carpenter (22.48) , Sam Whalley (23.53), Susan Knight (23.31), Claire Seymour (25.38).

Veteran Women A: Helen Pool (20.03), Katherine Sargeant (19.17), Loretta Briggs (21.34), Carrie Hoskins (18.28).

Veterans Women B: Susan Knight (22.10), Claire Seymour 23.28), Angela Burley (22.55),  Julie Rainbow (21.26).

Senior Men A (6 stages of 6,100m): Mark Worringham (19.06), Jack Gregory (18.28), Mark Apsey (19.20), Rob Corney (18.32), Seb Briggs (19.40), Steve Ridley (19.36).

Senior Men B: David McCoy (19.55), Jamie Smith (22.24), James Lockhart (22.41), Ben Whalley (21.43), Chris Buley (22.54), Chris Lucas (20.26).

Veteran Men: Ben Whalley (20.50), Lance Nortcliff (20.11), Colin Cottell (in action above, 23.55), Mark Worringham (20.38).

Berlin Marathon: A view from the tail end of the field

AFTER the Berlin Marathon, our intrepid correspondent Andy Atkinson reports from the front line…

THE trouble with big races – there are so many participants it is hard to spot anyone. The trouble with marathons – the front runners have gone home, are in bed, or on the plane before the tail-enders finish. Thus it was with Berlin.

Some fantastic performances from our front-runners, Rob Corney, Brendan Morris and Gary Tuttle, but did we see them? No.

But just as we were returning from a post-run light lunch, who pops up, but Rob with his sis, Susie, who kindly agreed to take this photo!

Unable to escape in time, Rob was asked the inevitable: “How does it feel to take the RRs marathon championship?” and answered with usual modesty that it was an honour to be classed with such runners as the former champ. How was his run? “Great for the first 30km.”

Very heartening to hear that even champions fade on such a long run.

This interview begged a comment from the former champion, Keith Russell, who just happened to saunter into our departure lounge at TXL.

“How does it feel?” we ask again. More modesty from Keith: “Rob is a great runner and his achievement is well deserved.”

Asked if he will be back, Keith confirmed that he is returning to form and thinks he can get his times down. With Brendan not far behind, it should be an interesting couple of years. Keith was in Berlin to support the Roadrunners, showing great club spirit.

So, the highlights of the marathon viewed from the latter half of the pack…

The day before: In-line world championship skating at astonishing speeds. The winner covered the marathon course in 57.58.

The after-party: After presentations to Eliud Kipchoge, the new marathon world record holder and Gladys Cherono, the women’s winner, we did the best we could on the dance floor, but I had to admit defeat and retire well before the night was out. Past and present champions are made of sterner stuff and continued on into the night.

The bit in the middle: I entered the marathon ballot as part of the team “Aaron and the Andrews”. This was the result of a post-parkrun coffee… Mark was later to comment that it was the most expensive coffee he had ever had.

One Andrew and Aaron did pretty well at 3:28:18 and 3:27:45 respectively. The other Andrew (yours truly) was a little further behind at 4:38:19, so it was just as well there were no team prizes to lose. Mark and Aaron were a little disappointed with their performances, but it was hot and both are recovering from niggles and illness.

Although slower than my last two marathons I was quite pleased that I managed to finish strongly and get round without injury.

I am gearing up for the NYC Marathon, so this was a result in itself.

My better half, Liz, had another great run and was the only person I know to enjoy the experience and look relaxed from beginning to end.

Astonished to find herself accompanying a runner with a name (not a number) on his bib, she enquired further. “Ronaldo da Costa… what are you doing here at the back. Did you get up late?” (Ronaldo was the world marathon record holder in 1998 with a time of 2:06:05).

I think that did the trick as, after a few exchanges of where each other lived, he sped off never to be seen again. He finished in 4:03:59… not bad given that he was at the back for the first few miles.

Liz likes to talk her way around a course and was delighted to be accompanied and supported by Tony Eastaway for the first half of the run. She adds that Tony’s support helped her to a new marathon PB.

Tony had a difficult run, finishing in 6:07:29. With characteristic grit, he rallied at the end and finished well. I am sure the experience will be good preparation for his shot at the NYC Marathon in November.

Our group of runners were accompanied by a fantastic support crew including Louise Atkinson, Linda Wright, Veronica Andrew, Veronica’s mum and sister. Also running were our neighbours, Linda and Joella Flintoff, supported by Grant Flintoff.

Other supporters we know of include those mentioned above… Susie Corney, Keith Russell and Anna Richmond. It is the supporting teams as much as our fellow runners that make the race such a fantastic event.

And that’s not to mention the live bands on just about every corner of the route. Just as I was flagging at about kilometre 32, Purple Rain belted out from one of them. Was Prince reincarnated? From my position it was hard to tell, but the echo kept me going for a good few miles!

Overall, a five-star race not to be missed!

Corney’s record collection: Another one bites the dust

ROB CORNEY went yet another step towards rewriting the Reading Roadrunners record books when he set a new mark of two hours, 27 minutes and 27 seconds at the Berlin Marathon.

Already this season he had destroyed the old records at 5,000 metres, five miles, 10k (twice) and half-marathon.

For his latest trick Rob (below) shaved 21 seconds off the previous marathon mark set by Keith Russell in Amsterdam five years ago.

And on a great day for the club Keith was on hand to support his successor and break the news of his triumph with a post on our Facebook page.

Second Roadrunner through the Brandenburg Gate, and also in a personal best, was Brendan Morris in 2:38:53, and there were also PBs for Sam Hammond, with 3:31.30, and Liz Atkinson, with 5:39.15. Sam took a massive 16 minutes off his previous best and Liz (pictured below) went one better with 17.

Other Green Vests starring on the iconic German course were Gary Tuttle (3:07.29), Aaron Chai (3:27.45), Mark Andrew (3:28.18), Andy Atkinson (4:38.19), Colin Byers (4:58.54) and Anthony Eastaway (6:07.29).

Having taken over seven minutes off his previous best set in Dusseldorf last year, Rob revealed the secret of his success.

“I didn’t go into the race with Keith Russell’s record in mind,” he said. “I knew if I ran the splits I wanted I’d get it so I just put it to the back of my mind.

“I target 1km splits in races. They come up pretty quickly so it’s easier to stay in control of your pace. The plan was to hit 3:30min/km.

“Obviously the first 10k was slightly fast… no one needs negative splits anyway. I spotted Simon Goldsworthy (ex-Reading University) shortly after the start and crossed to run with him. We found ourselves in a nice little group going just above our target pace.

“Just after halfway Simon started to ease ahead and I, being sensible for once, held back with the group.

“As you can tell from my splits, 35-40k was a struggle and there were some pretty dark points where it was a battle to keep moving. But that’s why we run marathons, isn’t it?

“I saw Simon again and passed him at about 39k as he was going through a low patch and I’d managed to pull myself together.

“After that it was just a matter of trying to pick my feet up and run for the line.

“I think Keith Russell was more excited about my time than I was. He’s a great sport and unfailingly encouraging! I can’t wait to see Keith fit and racing well again.”

Former club men’s captain Keith said: “I have no mixed feelings about losing the record at all. Rob is a great guy who trains hard and is very supportive to everybody else so I was more than happy that he was the one to take my record.

“I’ve been rooting for him to do so for ages and, to be honest, I’ve held the record since May 2009 (before improving it myself in October 2013), so it’s about time somebody else had it. Hopefully Rob’s breakthrough is just the start of a glut of sub-2:30 marathon performances.”

After Sunday’s race, Rob joined the rest of his team-mates in a pub, and he said: “Brendan Morris, who ran another great race for a big PB, then put on his second magnificent performance of the day!”

Meanwhile the tributes poured in from club-mates on social media and men’s captain Phil Reay said: “I’m running out of superlatives for Rob Corney. He’s re-written the club’s history books this year. His hard work and dedication have really paid off.

“There were a couple of things from Berlin which really stand out and encapsulate the culture of the club and the good all-round people we have there.

“Firstly that our previous club marathon record holder Keith Russell was in Berlin genuinely willing Rob on to break the record and was the person to break the news.

“Secondly, Rob had an amazing day and the spotlight was on him, but he still made the time to congratulate another of our members on a PB in a 10k.”

So, what’s next for the club’s No.1 speedster after a year which has also seen him chalk personal bests at 15k, ten miles and parkrun as well as victory in a 60k ultra-marathon in Snowdonia?

Immediate targets include a half-marathon in Sweden and he has an entry in the Abingdon Marathon on October 21st.

By then, of course, the records books may have been rewritten again. I understand that Matt Richards, who was nine minutes quicker than Corney in the London Marathon in April, is confident of running a very good time in the Chicago Marathon on October 7th.

And Mark Worringham, fresh from his 11th-place finish in the M40 marathon at the World Masters Championships in Malaga at the weekend, will be chasing another good time in the Chester Marathon on the same day.

Will Keith Russell, far from fully fit at the moment, bid to get his record back? “Of course. That goes without saying.”

Buley, madly, deeply! How Gemma wowed Wycombe

GEMMA BULEY was the big winner at the eighth round of the Reading Roadrunners’ club championship, the Wycombe 10k.

Gemma was first lady home at Adams Park and led our girls to take the team prize.

In doing so she moved up to 199 points and pretty much sewed up this year’s senior ladies title.

Gemma finished 22nd overall in 46 minutes 20 seconds, just 36 seconds and one place ahead of Katherine Sergeant, who also came first of the F40s.

Melanie Shaw, fourth lady overall, and Sally Carpenter helped Roadrunners clinch the four-to-score team award.

Paloma Crayford rounded off a day of success as the first F50 finisher.

Also among the age group winners was Alan Freer, who didn’t let a heavy fall stop him from collecting the M60 prize.

“It was a real pleasure to chase Alan round the course,” said Gemma, “although he gave me a fright when he fell over about 7k in. He was incredible descending on those hills and he jumped straight up, completing the course with blood trickling down his face and knees.

“I’m in absolute awe of him. He gave me a good run all the way round.”

Alan said: “I was only on the ground for about five seconds.” At the finish he still had well over three minutes in hand over his main F60 opposition, Marlow Striders captain Mike Thompson.

Alan had already made sure of the F60 championship but was still chasing points in the ‘all racers positioned by age grade’ title race.

Gemma was quick to praise her team-mates’ achievements. “I was so pleased for Mel Shaw contributing to winning the team prize as she says she never wins anything. She did so well in the heat.

“Katherine carried her water round, offering it to me out on the course. Such lovely team spirit as always in the Roadrunners.”

Gemma was also on hand to accept the second-place team prize for Roadrunners’ men as our four stars had already left the Wycombe Wanderers ground.

The successful foursome was Andrew Smith, Tom Peirson-Smith, Paul Kerr and, first home in his debut event in our colours, James Rennie.

Sixteen-year-old James was sixth to finish overall in a time of 42:14. Bearing in mind that almost everyone was about five minutes over par over a challenging trails course on a stinking hot day, that shows he is proving a very useful recruit.

Andrew Smith’s performance took him to 200 points and the guarantee of at least a share of the men’s V40 title.

Ninth overall, his team prize followed key roles in both the club’s recent relay triumphs on the Ridgeway and at Runnymede.

There are also new leaders in the M50 (David Fiddes) and M65 (Andy Atkinson) title races, as well as at senior level (Chris Buley).

But Chris (left), hampered in this race by a knee injury, was not celebrating like his wife. He knows what  he has to do to take the title, but he has a sense of foreboding about what’s coming next.

“Rob Corney is running against me at the Englefield 10k,” he said. Good luck with that, Chris!

Englefield is on August 26th but the next round of the championship is the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon on August 12th.

That event is listed as a ‘road’ race…. but then so was the Wycombe 10k! Someone misinformed our excellent championship organiser….

*Our main picture shows Mel Shaw, Katherine Sergeant and Gemma Buley bookended by race officials.

*Results: http://racetimingsolutions.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16269&RId=909&EId=1

*Standings after round eight are on the club championship page.

What Katie did next: The return of the prodigal daughter…

 

ROADRUNNERS coach Katie Gumbrell is about to make a comeback following a summer sabbatical. Here she explains the reasons for her absence…

“It doesn’t matter that I was asked me to write this by our resident hack, David Dibben, or that it’s taken 16 re-writes to get it done, this is massively self-indulgent.

“I’ve had a little bit of a break from coaching. Contrary to the rumours (largely self-manufactured), this has not been to assist Gareth Southgate at the World Cup, pregnancy, nor a run-in with the law. Truth is, I have three jobs, a family, hobbies other than running and sometimes those things get in the way (life is rarely about time, just priorities). 

“I was asked to support a new coach, Vroni Royle, for a few weeks, as she aimed to gain her Coach in Running Fitness qualification. This coincided with a couple of Wednesdays of work interference, some volunteering elsewhere and a family crisis or two for good measure. Oh, and an assignment for my MA in Mindfulness in Education and a gym instructor qualification.

“It became rather more straightforward to have a break from coaching for Reading Roadrunners, rather than leave session plans for someone else to deliver.

“While supporting another coach was great development for me, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to offer the best coaching to my athletes at the same time. Since planning for other people takes significantly longer than planning for oneself, I just didn’t have the capacity to do both.

“I also took the opportunity to have a think about what volunteering as a coach means to me. While I’m a relatively new and inexperienced coach, I’ve been a teacher for over 10 years and the two roles aren’t entirely dissimilar.

“For me, that means carrying my professional integrity into my volunteering role, which means being the best I can be on any given day.

“In coaching terms, it’s about knowing my athletes and their goals, and planning sessions around them. That’s fine, since most of the Roadrunners athletes are distance runners and, regardless of the overall distance of the long-term goal (10k, marathon, whatever), a Wednesday night session should suit all athletes.

“Runners can then plan in the training they will need to specify for their event around the Wednesday night. I have done this planning for many runners and they’ve had some great successes.

“My thinking culminated in a decision to restart my coaching group. In order to avoid being accused of poaching athletes, which would be a contravention of the Code of Conduct from UK Athletics, I sought advice from Simon Davis, the club’s Coaching Co-ordinator, about how best to let people know that I was going to be available again. Simon suggested I go via the club committee, which I duly did.

“So, I am going to resume a coaching group on 25th July, once term’s ended and at least some things have calmed down a bit. The group will be aiming to have a good time while training hard, whether the overall goal is to get faster, run for longer, find a lost mojo, regain fitness, pootle about, whatever!

“Everyone will be welcome; no one will be obliged.”

*Coach Katie is pictured in her natural habitat, at her favourite watering hole.

 

Midweek marvel Loretta conquers bonkers marathon

ROADRUNNER Loretta Briggs has enjoyed an amazing marathon success… on a THURSDAY!

At the Dorney Lake Marathon, Loretta…

*SMASHED the ladies’ course record by four minutes…

*IMPOROVED her personal best at the distance by a whopping 12 minutes and..

*GRABBED a Good For Age qualification for next year’s London Marathon.

But the Emmer Green mum, who finished in 3hr 33mins and 58 seconds,  reckons her biggest achievement was in simply FINDING the event.

The Dorney Lake race is organised by a company called Running Miles, who specialise in staging low-key events, mainly in midweek, in Berks, Bucks and West London.

“It wasn’t easy to find,” said Loretta. “I did some online digging for marathons before the August cut-off for London GFA entry.

“That’s not easy as most of them are in the spring, or in July when it’s too hot.

“For my Milton Keynes marathon in May it was 29C so things didn’t exactly go to plan and I ran 3:49. But I knew I had more in me this year.

“The Dorney race was so dull, though. It was ten out-and-backs along the lake… not even round it, just up and down, up and down…

“However it is UKAA registered and should hopefully qualify me for London GFA next year. The GFA for my age is sub-3:50.

“Also, I was first lady and broke the women’s course record by four minutes, in an albeit small, and slightly bonkers, field. 

“Anyone who turns out on a Thursday to run ten out-and-backs over a marathon distance must be bonkers, including me. Definitely running nerd territory. But a win is a win.”

Loretta came home 13th overall in a field of 66 and said: “There were a few obsessives there on the day… 100 Clubbers etc!”

Despite her success she said: “I’m not sure I really enjoy running marathons at all. Past 20 miles is not fun for me. But I’d be very glad to have another pop at London.”

Loretta is married to the Roadrunners’ distance star Seb, and within two days of her fine performance at Dorney there was another Briggs showing his paces.

Six-year-old youngest son Tommy made his debut at Reading parkrun alongside his dad and came home in 28 minutes.  “He loved it,” said a proud mum.

  • Loretta and Seb are pictured above with sons Louis and Tommy and their niece.
  • Right: Tommy (left) collecting his award for being the first six-year-old finisher at the Green Park Mile

Nott a problem as Corney completes record hat-trick

ROB CORNEY smashed his third Reading Roadrunners record in the space of just eight days when he won the Royal Berkshire 10k at Green Park.

Rob’s time of 31 minutes 30 seconds took eight seconds off the previous club best which had stood for 23 years. And it followed new records in the Marlow 5 on the previous Sunday and in the Track 5k barely 40 hours before.

His time of 15:23 in the Friday night handicap event improved Mark Worringham’s old record by 15 seconds… but was not his biggest moment of the week at Palmer Park.

Just 48 hours before, Rob had so impressed national coach Nick Anderson that he invited our man to take part in an England training camp later this summer.

At Green Park, Rob says he “got lucky” in finding someone to push him to a new course record in the race in which he was pipped on the dip by Oxford’s Jon Holmans in a photo finish last year.

That someone was the Wiltshire champion Simon Nott, who led the Roadrunners star for the first 7k. “I was definitely dragged round,” said Rob. “It was a bit off a shock to find myself sitting behind someone at 31:30 pace.

“I didn’t fancy a repeat of last year’s sprint finish, so I had to grit my teeth and maintain the gap. It was nice to see the clock reading what had been my target time for the season.”

Nott chased him all the way to the line, finishing just nine seconds in arrears.

Another West Countryman, Dan Mapp, was third, with Jack Gregory, the winner of this event in 2014, in fourth.

Afterwards Jack (right, No.2342) revealed that he has left Reading AC and joined Roadrunners as a first-claimer. That’s a great signing, as he has a 10k PB even quicker than the all-conquering Corney!

Reading AC speedster, Naomi Mitchell, was first lady finisher in 36:59.

These were the stars of a race which attracted 60 Roadrunners on a baking hot day, far more than the Binfield 10k (10 RR) and our club championship 10-mile event at Hook 10 (16 RR).

Dave McCoy (the Irish one) finished second at Hook, Alan Freer won the MV60 award and Katherine Sergeant came in second FV40.

There were no age group prizes for our club at Green Park, although my son Mark, coached by Corney, was second in the MV40 group with a big personal best. I made it a family double with a similar placing in the MV60s and Alex Harris was runner-up at MV50.

Pride of place among the personal best achievements went to Sarah Richmond-De’voy, (left) who completed a full house of PBs for the year at every distance she has competed.

In doing so she emulated Gemma Buley, Roadrunners’ first lady finisher in 41:48 despite running with a heavy cold. That was passed on to her by husband Chris, recovering but still not sufficiently to finish within half a minute of his wife.

Our second girl over the line was Loretta Briggs, also with a PB to follow up her excellent performance in the Milton Keynes Marathon.

More PBs came from Beth Rudd (below), with a three-minutes improvement, David Clay, following up his first sub-20 park run the previous day, and Ivan “that was a bit toasty” Harding. Vince Williams (first time under 45), Sarah Bate, Paul Morrissey and Ben and Jess Johnson also set new marks.

But there was no doubt about the performance of the day from the man who Track 5k organiser Fergal Donnelly called “not just a phenomenal runner, but a great sport.”

Rob has proved himself as a top clubman in the last month by staying behind to marshal the junior races after his victory at the Shinfield 10k and then allowing himself to be the patsy at the Track 5k.

There it was convincingly proved that the only way to beat Corney is to start a race a damn long time before he does.

Next he will prove his worth again at the Ridgeway Relay, where he has volunteered to run leg six, the daunting climb over the Downs out of Goring, for men’s captain Phil Reay’s all-star squad.

After Sunday’s latest record splurge he took the trouble to email me to pass on praise to many other club-mates who ran well and for the efforts of Glynne Jones, Emma Caswell, Chris Drew and the rest of the RR volunteers marshalling the start/finish area.

Corney’s contribution to the club was best summed up by the immortal words of Emma Caswell: “Bloody all-round amazing.”

 

Pictures by Ian McGuinness.

Results: http://www.royalberkshire10k.com

Traffic can’t hold up the Corney record machine

ROB CORNEY completed part two of his grand scheme to rewrite the Reading Roadrunners’ record books when he won the Marlow 5 in 25 minutes and 42 seconds.

That was despite being, quite literally, held up in traffic during the race.

Rob lost time when the pace car pulled up in front of him to avoid back-markers running on the wrong side of the road at a point where the course revisits a street used at both one and four miles.

“I had to slow down,” he said. “It definitely cost me a few seconds.”

Nevertheless his time in the fourth round of this year’s club championship improved the previous best set by Mark Worringham at Headington two years ago by 21 seconds.

Then Corney revealed that his achievement in his first competitive race at the distance was the second time he had broken the old mark in a week.

“I was through five miles in pretty much the same time during the Shinfield 10k on Monday,” he said.

It was Rob’s second club record of the year, he having lowered the long-standing half marathon mark to 1:09.20 with his second-place finish behind Scott Overall at Wokingham.

His next target will be the club’s 23-year-old 10k record of 31:38, set by the Ethiopian Zak Tsegay, when he races the prestige Vitality London event on May 28th.

And once again he is ahead of the game, having been inside that time when he went through 10k during the Maidenhead Easter 10 miles event.

But Corney was only one of seven Roadrunners to mount the podium at Marlow, with our ladies squad of Gemma Buley, Katherine Sargeant, Helen Pool and Julie Rainbow having captured the team prize, all four of them running personal bests.

There were also individual prizes for second-claimer Ben Paviour (MV40) as well as Ed Dodwell (MV60), who was claiming his fourth such award in the space of a remarkable 15 days.

Gemma Buley was our first lady home, and fourth overall, in a time of 32:07, a PB with more than six minutes to spare. She had celebrated her 26th birthday six days earlier with a two-minute PB in the Shinfield 10k.

Katherine captured the FV40 age category prize to follow up her excellent time of 3hr 14mins in dreadful conditions at the Boston Marathon.

Helen also made a second trip to the podium with runners-up prize in the FV40 group, having shaved seven seconds off her PB.

And Julie made it a clean sweep of PB’s among our successful girls, coming in as fourth scorer to clinch the award.

Roadrunners were controversially denied a team prize double when the race organisers decided that Paviour was deemed to have entered to represent his first-claim club, Herne Hill Harriers.

Ben was wearing our green vest and finished fifth overall in 27:10. With Corney’s first place, Stephen Ridley in eighth and Ben Whalley 22nd, that should have left us clear winners. 

But the organisers were having none of it and our next finisher, Pete Jewell, despite PB’ing in 42nd position couldn’t quite get us across the line.

Pete had plenty of consolations… a county championship silver medal, all 50 points in his club championship group as well as 50 more in the prestigious age-grading section (pipping even Corney), and a first PB for five years.

He was one of no fewer than 13 Roadrunners who picked up Berkshire championship gongs in the final event of the county’s road-running programme.

Gold for Corney, of course, in the senior men, and a bronze for Ridley; silver for Ben Whalley in the 40-49 group; silver for Jewell and bronze for Alex Harris in the 50-59 section and a clean sweep in the 60+ category, where there was gold for Alan Freer, silver for myself and bronze for Andy Atkinson.

The ladies among the bling were Gemma, with a senior silver, Helen Pool with a 35-44 silver, Sam Whalley with a 45-54 bronze, while in the 55+ group coach Lesley Whiley took silver and Susan Knight bronze.

All that success led to nine more medals, including two golds, in the county’s overall awards for their four events at Wokingham, Maidenhead, Woodley and Marlow.

Alan Freer emulated Corney by finishing with a perfect record of four golds, so they will both have a fifth gold to help them celebrate.

There will be silver for Alex Harris (V50) and Andy Atkinson (V60), plus a bronze for myself.

Among the ladies there will be more silvers for Gemma and Helen Pool and bronze medals for a couple of new names enjoying county success, Helen Dixon (seniors) and Paloma Crayford (FV45).

Some of those girls were also able to celebrate taking full points in there club championship… Gemma (senior), Helen Pool (V35), Katherine Sargeant (V45), Lesley Whiley (V55), Heather Bowley (V65) and Cecilia Csemiczky (V70).

The men who picked up the full complement of points were Corney (senior), Ben Whalley (V40), Pete Jewell (V50), Alan Freer (V60), David Dibben (V65) and Jim Kiddie (V70).

Those not already given a mention should go to the head of the long list of those who claimed a PB… Tracey Hicks, Vince Williams, Adele Graham, Hilary and Peter Rennie, Stewart Wing, Helen Dixon, Susan Knight, Paloma Crayford, Sam Whalley, Katherine Sargeant, Julie Rainbow, Fergal Donnelly and Pete Jewell should take a bow ahead of the usual suspects, Gemma Buley, Helen Pool, Stephen Ridley and Rob Corney.

The club championship roadshow quickly moved on to the second of its three 10-mile events, this time at Hook. 

Whether or not next year’s championship includes the Marlow 5, I would strongly advise anyone who has not already done so to give this race a try.

It’s my idea of a value-for-money event, being comparatively cheap to enter, well organised with generous vouchers for prize-winners from Runners’ Retreat, a quality T-shirt for finishers as well as a bag full of goodies and results published almost as soon as you cross the line after a race which provides a great chance of a personal best. 

Respect to the Handy Cross club for their organisation!

Pictures by Fiona Ross and Matt Fowler

Full results at can be found here