Fall guy Burt hurt but our vets finish first in Hampshire League

From Dorset to Illinois, the Roadrunners website has the weekend action covered, thanks once more to ladies captain SAM WHALLEY…

FIFTEEN hardy Reading Roadrunners made the rainy journey to Bournemouth for the first fixture of the 2019-20 Hampshire League. This is the furthest away of the races in this league, so we were pleased to be able to field full teams, although until just before the women’s race traffic problems and navigational issues had us feeling a little thin on the ground.

The women’s race was underway at 1.35pm, and as usual we took up our starting positions way behind the Under 20 elites. Three of us were excited to be sporting brand new spikes, although only one of us had tried them out before that moment, and at least one of the others was wishing they had done the same. 

We were grateful for a break in the rain, and for the course to not have yet been run on by too many feet. We’d be sure to churn it up nicely for the men.

At 6k, the women’s race consisted of two small loops and two large ones, mostly on grass, and with a stretch of uphill through the woods. Any other ups and downs were short and steep, but enough to remind me that I really need to do some hill training. 

Sarah Dooley, in great shape only a couple of weeks after running a PB at the Berlin Marathon, was our first woman home in 56th (12th vet).

Chloe Lloyd (right), only recently having returned from injury, continued her fantastic run of form and was second, in 88th, with me (Sam Whalley) in third (113th, and 38th vet) to complete the scoring team. The senior women’s team was 16th. 

Chloe later told me she’d been looking for me on the corners; she needn’t have worried, there was no doubt in my mind that she’d be faster. We still needed a third vet though (increased from 35 to 40 this year, to match the men’s vet category), and this was to be Claire Seymour (132nd, 48th vet), pleased that she had finished, despite a niggly leg, with Alex Bennell only two places behind in 134th (50th vet), keen to get finished before her son set off in the U17 men’s race. 

The vet women’s team was fifth. The inspirational Cecilia Csemiczky completed the women’s team, in 181st (80th vet, but first FV70), and, despite her fears, was not in last of the 190 runners. Well done, team!

The men were off at 2.30pm, just in time for the rain to restart, and had four large loops to look forward to for their 10k.

I’m calling Jamie Smith (left) the unofficial men’s captain for the day with the actual men’s captain being in Chicago for the marathon; the support and encouragement Jamie offered to the rest of the team was commendable (and he is also a dab hand at putting up the tent). 

There were a few switches of position during the race, with Mark Apsey, on his way back from a period of injury, and now with a new baby in the house, initially leading the team, but being caught by Jamie later on, with Jamie finishing 43rd, and Mark 47th. 

Chris Burt was third home, in 69th, having got the bug for the Hampshire League right at the end of last season, and keen to get started this year. It might have been Chris’s excitement that led him to fall over twice during the race! A spikes newbie (below), he thinks he might have to plant his feet differently to feel the benefit of the extra grip. 

Completing the senior men’s scoring team were the first of the vets, Andrew Smith (74th, and ninth vet), fresh from Chester Marathon last week, and Lance Nortcliff (79th, and tenth vet). The senior men’s team was eighth. Pete Jewell was the third scoring vet, in 108th (22nd vet). The vet men’s team was first — amazing!

The men’s team was completed by Hampshire League debutant Tony Page (141st, 46th vet), who probably won’t be brave enough to run in road shoes next time, Colin Cottell (161st, 59th vet) and David Walkley, who decided halfway through the race that it would actually be easier to run without glasses, and finished in a creditable 195th out of 239 runners, having raced both a marathon and a half marathon in the last two weeks. Great work, guys!

This is a very promising start to the season, and we look forward to seeing how far we can get this year. Luckily we won’t have to go as far as Bournemouth again, with the next fixture being at Sparsholt, near Winchester, on Saturday, November 9th. 

I, for one, really appreciate everyone taking time out of their weekend to travel to these races and represent the club, so thank you, and most of all, well done! Race rewards from the Whalley bakery were vegan brownies and gluten-free white chocolate crisped rice squares.

Elsewhere this weekend, over in Chicago, Brendan Morris ran a 2:34.45 marathon, a PB by over four minutes, and you might have seen him live on the BBC red button (below), crossing the finish line in 201st place — brilliant work! “I’m over the moon with that performance,” said Brendan. “Everything just clicked into place.”

Also delighted with her run in the Windy City was Susan Knight, whose time of 4:00.14 represented a PB by five and a half minutes. “I went much too fast in the first half,” said Susan, “but I’ve learned a lot just in case I ever feel like another one.”

There was an even bigger PB — more than 26 minutes — by coach Vroni Royle who finished in 4:00.02. “Those pesky two seconds!” said Vroni, who threatens something similar at next weekend’s Great South Run.

Not far behind Vroni, in 4:11.06, was Ian McGuinness, whose posted a PB by a massive 20 minutes.

Closer to home, Ian Giggs was 43rd in the Eden Project Marathon, with a great time of 3:52.13 on what he described as a hilly course with some off-road sections.

Noora Eresmaa and Christina Calderon ran the Autumn 100 mile race in wind and rain to complete the 100 mile Grand Slam, which means they have run four 100-mile races in the past five months. Incredible — I cannot even imagine what this must be like, but I hope you both live in bungalows.

In half marathon news, Liz Jones was first FV50 in Henley, with 1:45.03, while Peter Aked was our first finisher in 1:34.49. Over in Oxford, Alex Warner was first RR home in 1:25.23, followed by Michael Hibberd in 1:28.48. There was a PB for our next man home, Andrew Butler, who defied a migraine attack to post 1:32.03, an improvement of 1:40 on his Reading HM time.

Despite the atrocious conditions another Roadrunner claiming a PB in the Oxford race was Clinton Montague, with 1:35.44, off the back of the two PBs he achieved in one night in the Friday track mile and 5k. 

Fergal Donnelly ran 1:30.21 in Exeter’s Great West Run (half marathon), while Helen Pool equalled her PB with 1:34.36, and was second FV45. As a Devonian, I can completely imagine that the course might have been more than a bit challenging.

Brian Kirsopp was eighth in the Tadley 10 mile, in an impressive 1:03.47, and was unsurprisingly first MV50. At Wimbledon, Ashley Middlewick clinched third place in this month’s Second Sunday 5 event.

And finally, supervet (not the animal kind) Jane Davies achieved a whopping 87.97% age grading at Prospect parkrun, bettered on that course only by the 88.92% she achieved last year.

Results: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2019/20191012_hlmen.html and https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2019/20191012_hlwomen.html

Pictures: Chloe Lloyd and Claire Raynor

Amazingstoke! Our girls race away with the team trophy

SUNDAY, October 6th, 2019 may well go down in history as the busiest race day ever. There were Roadrunners everywhere, and not just running on roads, writes SAM WHALLEY…

As a good number of us lined up for the start of Basingstoke Half Marathon, the final half marathon in this year’s club championship, I wondered whether it would have been preferable to have been running a six-mile cross-country race…… until I saw the photos and realised the usual stream had been pretty much a river!

I felt bad that I hadn’t reminded people to bring a complete change of clothes with them; they’ll know for next time.

A whopping 46 RRs and three guests turned up to run the first Thames Valley XC fixture of the season, hosted by Metros, in Hillingdon, some of them for the first time.

First to score for RRs was Jack Gregory, in second place overall, followed by Chris Lucas in fifth. Third to score was Andy Blenkinsop, as first vet for the club, and then Ian Giggs. Gavin Rennie was the club’s second vet, and the scoring male team was completed by Markus Orgill.

For the women, it was Gemma Buley who was first to score, followed by Mel Shaw. Vets Claire Marks and Mary Janssen completed the scoring team.

If you didn’t make the scoring team, you will undoubtedly have affected the scores of the other teams by finishing ahead of their runners. Every position counts in XC.

The next TVXC fixture will be hosted by Thames Valley Triathlets, at St Neot’s School in Eversley, on Sunday, October 20th. In the interim, the first fixture of the Hampshire League will be in Bournemouth on Saturday, October 12th.

As people were tucking into the post-race refreshments after the Metros event, many of us were still going at Basingstoke.

It was a great performance by the women in particular, with Laura Peatey fourth, Katherine Sargeant fifth, and Helen Pool eighth. Katherine was also first FV50 — by the little matter of TWENTY-TWO minutes! — and Helen was third FV40. That was easily enough to take the ladies’ team trophy back to Palmer Park.

As far as the club champs were concerned, Laura picked up 50 points in the seniors category, and Donna Saunders picked up 48, with non-contender Lizzie Hogan in between the two. Hannah McPhee took away 47. For the vet 40s, Katherine collected her usual 50 points, Helen 49, and Sam Whalley 48. Alex Bennell was no longer in the competition.

There was only one competitor in the vet 50s age group, so Nora Holford was able to increase her lead at the top of the group by four points. Linda Wright is the last women standing in the FV60s, so must have just taken part for the fun of it!

For the men, Brian Kirsopp was third MV50, and David Dibben won the MV70 age category. In the club champs, David Walkley’s 50 points and Derek Cheng’s 49 have propelled them further up the table. David earned his points the hard way, running a 35-seconds PB just a week after a sub-4hrs finish in the Barnstaple Marathon.

In the vet 40 category, Tony Page was delighted to pick up 50 points (and a PB) over Ben Whalley’s 49 to increase his lead at the top of the table, while Tim Miller came in sixth for 44 points, behind non-competitors Fergal Donnelly, Chris Thomas and Tony Long. 

For the highly competitive vet 50s, our first finisher Brian Kirsopp’s 50 points took him to top of the table. There were 49 points for David Caswell, 48 for David Fiddes and 47 for Tony Streams. I’m looking forward to seeing how this category in particular will end.

Joe Blair was the only contender for the vet 60s, and his 50 points keep him in second place on the table, while David Dibben’s 50 keep him in a similar position for the vet 70s.

With only two more events in the championship, the Ricky Road 10 miles on  October 27th and the Mapledurham 10 on December 1st, there is still time for positions to change in many of the categories.

Elsewhere in the country, there were Roadrunners aplenty at the Bournemouth 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon. Reports of smashed targets are still coming in, but Miriam Coleman was possibly the most delighted to have recorded a PB with her first ever sub-2 hour half marathon, while Rachel Helsby PBd at Cardiff Half Marathon.

Rob Cannings nailed a PB at the Bournemouth 10k to follow up his huge improvement at 5k at the recent Track Friday event.

Closer to home there was a thumping win for David McCoy at the Reading 020 10k. The busy Ulsterman beat the second man home by more than four minutes in a useful warm-up for this weekend’s Chicago Marathon.

There was the customary win in the FV50 group at this event for Lesley Whiley but Ed Dodwell had to settle for second place in the MV60s in a race top-heavy with early finishers from his age group.

Plaudits for the best marathon performance of the weekend by a Roadrunner went to Andrew Smith for his run of 2hrs 54mins at Chester.

Further afield Shweta Saikumar ran an eight-minute PB in the Portland Half-Marathon in Oregon.

The less usual events of the weekend were Gill Manton’s Jersey Marathon Relay, Chris Burt and Sam Hammond’s Spartan exploits and Ian Giggs’ 300th different parkrun at Herrington Country parkrun, near Sunderland.

Pictures: Sibrand Rinzema

Basingstoke HM results: http://racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16222&RId=167&EId=1

TVXC round 1 results: http://tvxc.org.uk/results/detail?race_id=88

 

Roadrunners do relay really well to earn honours at the Palace

Multi-talented selector-captain-runner-baker-reporter SAM WHALLEY tells the inside story of Roadrunners’ relay teams’ big day out in the capital…

THE SEAA (or southern) road relays are a huge event in the Reading Roadrunners calendar these days. For many years they were held at Aldershot, with the women’s race on a Saturday, and the men’s on a Sunday. 

In recent years they have mostly been held at Crystal Palace (one year at Bedford Aerodrome was not popular), and we have grown from a minibus to a coach. We are grateful to the club for funding this for us; it’s so good for team spirit to be able to travel together, and takes some of the stress out of the day.

This year, I had enough interest to put together two senior teams and one vet 40 team for the women. I hadn’t noticed that this year, for the first time, they would also be accepting women’s teams in the vet 50 category – a breakthrough and another step towards equality. Whatever next — vet 60?

Mark Worringham acted as team captain for the men again, and was inundated with runners wanting to be part of the squad. He entered three senior teams and one vet 50 team, with himself and Seb Briggs being speedy enough to run as vet 40s in the seniors A team.

The rules with this and similar events are such that you can enter a certain number of runners per team, and no one may run who has not been entered on the original list. This allows for a bit of shifting around if there are any last-minute injuries, and while no athlete can run more than one leg in one age category, a vet runner could run a leg in both a senior and a vet team, if necessary. Fortunately, there were no on-the-day changes needed this year, for either the men or women, and no one was asked to double up and run two legs. Relief all round.

Arriving at around midday, we had enough time to use the delightful facilities, do a bit of shopping — coffee and event hoodies were the order of the day — check out the course, including the infamous steep-then-gradual hill, a changed finish from last year, and, for the men, an extra 0.7k loop around a car park, per lap.

It was also a good idea to watch the junior races, to check out how the handovers worked. 

Officials at such events have been doing their thing for years, and can be a bit shouty if you get it wrong. To the relief of our first-timers, there was no baton involved; you were just told to go once your incoming runner had crossed the chip mat. 

For Mark and me, there was also the task of collecting race numbers and chips and completing the team declarations, which involves writing down exactly who will be running which leg for which team. It’s no small job.

The women were off first, at 1.30pm. There were some nerves in the camp, with a few feeling more than a little intimidated. It’s fair to say that the best of the best run in events like this, including GB marathoner, Tracy Barlow, and local parkrun course record holders, Naomi Mitchell and Jess Gibbon.

Added to that the crop tops and skimpy shorts (OK, pants), and confidence can be knocked, especially considering where we were all at in our race schedules and general health. 

I had run a marathon the week before, Sarah Dooley and Liz Johnson were a week away from their marathon, Mel had not long returned from a long period out with injury, Claire Woodhouse had had her second baby only six months ago, Gemma Buley, Aga Faulkner and Sally were nursing niggles, and Claire Seymour and Magda were at the end of colds. Apart from that, I think everyone was raring to go.

Both senior and vet teams run together, so it was Gemma Buley, Aga Faulkner and Sarah who were tasked with getting the A, B and vet teams, respectively, off to a good start. They did not disappoint, running fantastic times of 17:25, 21:39 and 19:01 for the 4.8k.

They handed over to Laura Peatey, Sally Carpenter and Magda Bennett, who again ran brilliantly, with 18:53, 22:23 and 19:57. 

On the third leg were Mel Shaw, Claire Woodhouse and Claire Seymour, who handed over the metaphorical baton in 18:55, 23:01 and 22:52.

Waiting in the start pen with Liz Johnson and Claire Raynor, it was wonderful to hear Liz declare “She’s quick” as Mel ran in, looking strong. Having missed last year’s race due to injury, Mel’s journey must be one of the comeback stories of the year. 

Liz herself has gone from strength to strength since taking up running only a couple of years ago. Feeling somewhat daunted by her escalation to the A team, she did herself and the team proud, bringing them home in 20:44 (her personal target had been 22 minutes), which gave them an overall finishing position of 32nd out of 55 complete teams. Fantastic!

Claire Raynor, who had also been watching her son Mattie race, was next off for the vets, with unfortunate timing that meant she was caught up quite quickly in the entire first leg of the men’s race, which started moments after she had set off. 

Having been ushered to the side so that the 141 men could start, I did not envy her one bit. Nevertheless she had a great run, coming in at 21:33, and ninth out of 10 complete teams — a great result!

I was the penultimate woman to set off for the final leg of the senior women’s race. Yes, I realise I am way too old to be in an under 40s team, and I had thought I would be safely on the bench as third reserve. Alas, three women having to pull out meant that I had to get my tired legs back into action and complete the team. Captain’s duty. 

Watching the YouTube footage, anyone would think that I was in leg two for the men, as an entire swarm came past me at great speed. I was pleased to maintain my position, and finished in 22:35, with the team in 54th. Job done.

By this time, the men’s race was well underway, having started at 2.30pm. I hadn’t had as much opportunity to speak to the men individually, but knew that at least Matt Richards (left) and David McCoy had a marathon on the immediate horizon, Rob Corney, Lance Nortcliff and Andy Mutton had a niggle or two, and Pete Jewell was returning from illness. 

There might have been other reasons for people not feeling their best, so apologies if I was not aware — it definitely didn’t show! 

Seb Briggs (A), David McCoy (the younger)(B), Chris Buley (C, below) and Brian Kirsopp (vets) ran the first 6.2k leg in respective times of 18:20, 18:38, 20:27 and 21:06, setting their teams up in fantastic positions.

They handed over to Rob Corney (16:59), Ryan Faulkner (in his first team event for the club)(19:28), Ian Giggs (21:56) and Colin Cottell (22:46), who also had brilliant runs. 

The third leg runners again ran really impressive times — Matt Richards (above, 17:36), Chris Lucas (19:03), Lance Nortcliff (20:04) and Pete Jewell (21:59). 

By now, the lead runners were beginning to lap those further back, and things were looking pretty messy out on the course: men warming up and down, women cooling down, spectators everywhere, and park users generally in the way. 

I think the lead bike had stopped doing its job by this point, but having that on the track at the start and finish of each lap did not help matters. Those actually in the race had to have their wits about them to keep up with what was going on around them. 

Up for the fourth legs were another new Roadrunner, Sibrand Rinzema (18:24), Jamie Smith (19:22), Tony Page (21:18) and Tony Walker (21:53). The latter’s anchor leg brought the vet 50s home in 13th out of 20 complete teams. Well run, guys! 

I don’t know when was the last time that RR had a vet 50s team at these relays, but a precedent may have been set now.

Meanwhile, the seniors continued for their remaining two legs. At the point in the YouTube film, Tonbridge coach Mark Hookway was counting runners into the stadium. He knew every vest of every club. When he saw Sibrand, in 18th, he said something along the lines of “Don’t know who these guys are.” Were the green vests suddenly a threat? They had certainly been noticed. 

Leg five was run really well by Mark Worringham (18:05) and Matt Davies (19:26), but Andy Mutton (23:03) was clearly not comfortable. I hope he has been resting this week. 

On the anchor leg were Jack Gregory, Chris Burt and Ollie Watts. Jack ran a storming 17:47 and brought the team across the finish line for the final time in 17th place.

This was a huge improvement on their 25th place finish of the previous year, and was set to see them qualify for the National Road Relays on October 6th. Chris and Ollie also ran well, with 19:31 and 22:37, but the latter had reported a rather lonely leg, with the race drawing to a close. The B team finished in 48th, and the C team 68th, out of 73 complete teams. Great performances all round.

The results were up as we arrived back in Reading. The A team was listed as incomplete, with both Rob’s and Matt’s times missing.

Team manager Mark set about investigating why, and reported back that, somehow, Rob had not been listed on the original electronic entry form. While this does not seem possible, even with such a problematic entry system, which is prone to crashing, the SEAA were adamant, and with no way of proving otherwise, the team had been disqualified. Devastating!

Regardless, the fantastic performances still happened, those brilliant times were still run, and it was incredible to be part of a club with enough members of that standard. What a great day! In the words of Mark Hookway, as Jack came into the finish: “These have done well… Reading Roadrunners!” And yes, they had indeed.

The SEAA six (women) and twelve (men) stage relays will take place in the spring. Get your names down now (there will be brownies).

Pictures: Claire Woodhouse, Gemma Buley, Mel Shaw

Brendan tunes up for the Windy City with PB in a soggy town

PREPARING hard for next month’s Chicago Marathon, BRENDAN MORRIS headed to the Wild West for a training half marathon and came home with a personal best and this brilliant report…

IN the words of David Brent: “I heard they dropped an atomic bomb on Swindon… did about ten quid’s worth of damage.”

Well, that’s probably a bit unfair, but by running the Swindon Half Marathon I’ve apparently viewed the highlights of the town. I hope the organisers have a self-deprecating sense of humour and the “highlights” of the town they list are tongue-in-cheek, yet I can confirm that they seem to be unfortunately accurate…

My relationship with Swindon consists of fond memories of failure and rejection. As a teenager a close friend of mine and I started supporting the football club. It was the early Noughties, when a couple of fake IDs ordered from the back of FHM ensured you could simultaneously be old enough to buy eight cans of Fosters for £5 in the corner shop on the way to the ground and yet secure a child’s train ticket and child entry (£2!) to the ground (as long as we acted sober and avoided breathing cheap lager on the entry stewards). 

We watched them be relegated into Division Two. Sometimes we would stay in town after the game and sample the best of the clubs and pubs Swindon had to offer, where if rejection didn’t meet us at the door, it would smack us in the face on the dance floor. I also failed my driving test there, so was keen to make amends.

The race is advertised as being mostly flat. When looking at the profile of the course online, you can quickly see that though most of the course is fairly flat there is a definite hill at mile 11. About 40 metres of elevation over a mile, then the majority of the final mile is a steep downhill.

I felt in good shape, thanks largely to the track sessions with team-mates led by Jack Gregory. A team I then ditched to run the Swindon Half (the rest of the guys were running a stellar performance in the Southern Road Relays in Crystal Palace) because that’s the kind of clubman I am…

The game plan, was to aim for a PB (sub-74 minutes preferably). I knew I would slow on the hill at mile 11, so I wanted to be a good 20 seconds up on the target time by the foot of the hill. 

The race is a fairly small event for a large town (2500 entrants) and catered well in terms of bag drop and toilets; pretty much no queuing, easy to get to etc. 

The race starts at two of the town’s highlights —the County Ground (grey concrete walls) and Magic Roundabout (grey tarmac). 

Standing on the start line, the clouds were looking more and more grim and I think we all knew the rain was on the way. Conditions were slightly muggy and the rain when it hit (about one mile in) was actually quite refreshing. It was non-stop from a mile in, all the way to the end and seemed to intensify as the race went on. 

It was from the first mile marker that I took the lead. One runner stuck on my heels for another couple of kilometres but then I heard him drop away quite quickly. The next few kilometres were fairly lonely; sweeping perimeter roads broken by roundabouts every 500 metres or so with supporters huddled under bus stops, trees and umbrellas. 

I was running pretty well, felt fairly comfortable and was hitting the target pace. I was trying to gauge how far behind second place was by listening to the small groups of supporters and the gap they left between clapping me and the person behind. I could tell second place was gaining on me.

At around five miles I could clearly hear the squelching of second place’s shoes on the soggy roads. He caught me around nine kilometres. We stuck together for about a mile and had a pleasant conversation. Our conversation revealed that he was quicker than me. 

He was clearly more comfortable than I was at the pace we were running and he was targeting a PB of his own; a sub-73 minute time. 

I made the decision (if you really do make these kinds of decisions) to let him get away. He slowly moved away from me, but I still used his presence to help pace me. I tried my best not to let him get too far ahead and to keep to my target pace. I was just about managing, but it was definitely getting more difficult! 

By the ten-mile mark a spectator shouted “23 seconds” at me. I knew that this was the time I was behind him, so that was probably equivalent to about 120 metres (but looked a lot further).

The next bit of drama occurred at one of the advertised highlights. No, not Swindon College, or the Great Western Shopping Centre, or even the Oasis Leisure Centre. I’m talking about the Nationwide Building Society Headquarters. This was at the foot of the dreaded hill. 

The course took you into the very start of the car park of the headquarters, before you made a quick U-turn around the end cone and made your way back out to the main road.

As I came towards the end cone there was clearly some commotion. A couple of marshals were yelling “Come back” and l soon realised that the leader had continued into the car park when he was meant to make a U-turn around the final traffic cone. 

In fairness to him there were no signs saying that a U-turn was required and I found out from him after the race that the lead motorbike he was following went further into the car park to make the sharp U-turn possible, so he was simply following the lead bike. 

After making this error he was now only a short distance ahead. I was close enough to hear him spend the next couple of minutes muttering profanities to himself; so probably about ten metres. His anger seemed to propel him up the hill. He was pulling away from me again. 

By now I was just giving it all I had. “Come on, hard effort up the hill, and then cruise to the finish!” I knew by the start of the descent I was one kilometre from the end. I looked at my watch and was behind where I needed to be. It looked like I needed to run the last kilometre in 3.10 to get me under the 74 minutes I was aiming for. I used the downhill and lengthened my stride. 

The only thing that seemed to slow me down was my leg speed. I desperately tried to lift my knees as high as I could and not fall flat on my face. I didn’t really think that I could do it. I didn’t dare look at my watch but just focused on the finish line. 

The hamstrings were starting to burn, but I could then see the timer. I still had ten seconds of time to spare and I was almost there! Second place and more importantly a new personal best (73 minutes 52 seconds).

No prizes for second place. No prizes for first either! It didn’t matter, it was always about the time and the race marked the end of the hard marathon training and the transition into the taper. 

Chicago is less than three weeks away and hopefully I can keep myself in one piece and maintain fitness for the big one. 

*The race was won by the Wimborne AC athlete Christopher Wood in 73.44.

Sargeant’s major triumph caps season of joy for Roadrunners

FOLLOWING an exciting finish to the Southern Counties Vets League fixture at Palmer Park, FIONA ROSS has filed this review of the 2019 season…

‘Reading Roadrunners win the Vets League’ is not a headline you would expect to read. You would wonder if it was factually accurate. But it all depends on your perspective.

If athletes were scored according to their sterling performances and personal achievements —despite the fact that many are not normally training for such events or have entered for the first time in many years or the first time ever and, if they were scored according to their team spirit. — then Reading Roadrunners would be in a league of their own!

It is impossible to list all the performances during the season, but I will summarise here some of the highlights shared by the athletes who took part.

The first fixture took place at Horspath Stadium in Oxford on April 29th.  Chris Manton, who organised our team for the entire league, told me that his highlight was to achieve a PB in the men’s 35A 800metres.

Adele Graham came third in the womens’ 50 100m and told me that her personal highlight was achieving a personal best in the W50 hammer(up from 17.17m to 18.33m).  She also achieved a very respectable third place, as did Dave Fiddes in the M50, in the long jump.

The second fixture took place at Tilsley Park, Abingdon, on May 20th. Ian Giggs stormed round the track to take third place in the M35B 800m while Helen Pool also took third place following a very strong performance in the W35A 3000m. In the field events, a new club triple jump record was set by new member St John Ford with 9.01m.

The penultimate League meeting was also held at Abingdon, on June 30th, and saw Nigel Hoult and Pete Jewell take third places in the M60 400m and M50 5000m races respectively. I was delighted to achieve a PB in both the 100m and 400m events.

The grand finale July 14th was jointly hosted by Roadrunners and Reading Athletic Club at our home ground, Palmer Park Stadium.  Sam Whalley, our ladies captain, summed up this fixture very well when she said: “I was pleased to see such a good turn-out of participants, supporters and helpers.  There were some really impressive performances and it was a great way to end the season.”

Indeed, Katherine Sargeant flew around the track to win the women’s 5000m event and both she and Helen Pool came first in their age categories and achieved a PB for this event. Katherine said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the club over 5,000m. It’s a challenging distance for me, I’m better over longer distances.

“But with the work which our training group has been devoting to this distance and challenge, I seized the chance to test myself, as many others have done recently with race wins at 10k and parkrun PBs.

“Supporting my club-mates was brilliant fun too, and there were many truly inspiring performances.”

Helen added: “My highlight was getting an Athletics Weekly standard and it was great that Katherine and I both scored maximum points.”

Her team-mate Claire Seymour finished a creditable third as our B string at the same distance, while Mark Worringham was just edged out by the experienced Oxford runner James Bolton after a thrilling battle in the 3,000m, with Lance Nortcliff third as our B string.  Another Roadrunner to pick up a very good third place was Tracy Jenkins in the W50 800m.

Off the track, Gill Manton won the W35 discus with a throw 16.10m to follow up her PB in the hammer at Abingdon.  In the W50 discus, Adele Graham achieved another PB (up from 11.72m to 13.07m).  She told me that it was “really nice to be competing on home territory with great support.”

Mark Andrew proved his credentials as a great clubman by stopping off on his way home from running the Hell-Fire Half Marathon at Wycombe to compete in the M50 triple jump for the first time, finishing in third place.

Alan Freer took part in the javelin event for the first time in 47 years, initially as a non-scorer, but was then invited to join the Vet 35 competitors.  He told me: “Not only was I up against youngsters and mainly seasoned athletic club javelin throwers, I also had the joy of a heavier and longer javelin to throw!”  

Nevertheless, he was pleased to have had one throw which was deemed good and to have managed not to be in last place.  Overall he said it was “an enjoyable experience that I will have another better go at next year, with a bit more practice.”

Personally, I was delighted to achieve a PB in the 200m event (down from 37.6 to 35.3 seconds) and Adele Graham, Tracy Jenkins, Hannah McPhee and I were proud to take part in the 4 x 200m relay. We managed not to come last, but above all, this event highlights the amazing team spirit of the green vests!

If you take into account this team spirit, which cannot be beaten, and the personal/team achievements highlighted above, the Vets League 2019 season certainly was exciting and the Reading Roadrunners are definitely in a league of their own.

Thank you very much again to Chris Manton for co-ordinating our team as well as to all the volunteers/supporters and coaches.  Kerri French supported the triple jump event at the last fixture and said: “I loved helping out at the event.  I wasn’t up to speed to compete, but assisting the officials meant that I could participate in a different way.”

Congratulations again to all the athletes!

We would like to encourage other Reading Roadrunners to take part next year, because it is a great opportunity to try something new, support your fellow Roadrunners and get to know other club members — and an opportunity to have some fun.  

Adele Graham said: “It is a welcoming introduction for anyone trying track and field for the first time.” Come and join us next season!

Pictures: Gill Manton, Fergal Donnelly, Tony Ford, Fiona Ross.

Results of Vets Track and Field League match four:

W35 Shot Putt

  5 Gill Manton 5.79m

W50 Shot Putt

 4 Adele Graham 6.02m

W35 Discus

  1 Gill Manton 16.10m

W50 Discus

  7 Adele Graham 13.07m PB

W50 800metres

  3 Tracy Jenkins 3.10.2

W35A 200metres

  6 Fiona Ross 35.3 PB

W50 200metres

  3 Adele Graham 36.6

W50 Triple Jump

  4 Adele Graham 5.77m

W35A 5000metres

  1 Helen Pool 19.57.7 PB

W35B 5000metres

  3 Claire Seymour 23.56.0

W50 5000metres

  1 Katherine Sergeant 19.37.6 PB

Women’s 4 x 200m Relay

 5 Roadrunners (Hannah McPhee, Tracy Jenkins, Adele Graham, Fiona Ross)   2.38.5

M50 Discus

  6 Brian Grieves 10.16m

M35A 800metres

  5 Tony Page 2.27.8

M35B 800metres

  4 David Fiddes 2.42.6

M50 800metres

  5 Alan Freer 2.51.3

M60 800metres

  2 Nigel Hoult 2.47.9

M50 Triple Jump

  3 Mark Andrew 8.74m

M35A 200metres

  8 Chris Manton 31.7

M35B 200metres

  5 John Fenner 29.7

M50 200metres

  6 David Fiddes 31.2

M35 Javelin

  7 Alan Freer 14.70m

M50 Javelin

 5 David Fiddes 15.77m

M60 Javelin

  7 Nigel Hoult 11.00m

M35A 3000metres

  2 Mark Worringham 9.22.5

M35B 3000metres

  3 Lance Nortcliff 10.00.8

M50 3000metres

  5 Tony Streams 12.23.6

M60 3000metres

  2 Alan Freer 12.22.9

Men’s 4 x 200m Relay

  7 Roadrunners (Tony Page, Brian  Grieves, Tony Streams, Mark Worringham) 2.16.3

Vets League non-scoring performances

Women’s Shot Putt

  – Hannah McPhee 3.99m

Women’s Discus

  – Hannah McPhee 6.90m

Men’s 800metres

  – Mark Worringham 2.22.0

Men’s 3000metres

  – Tony Page 11.12.00

Men’s 200metres

  – Brian Grieves 37.00

Women’s 2000metres walk

  – Gill Manton 15.58.2

How brave Brendan conquered pain barrier on the longest day

 BRENDAN MORRIS has joined the ranks of the local running legends who have completed a solo 100 miles during Endure 24. Now, in his own words, he tells the enthralling story of his odyssey through the pain barrier and how he finally crossed the line with the help of a great Roadrunner pal…

I’M quickly establishing a theme in my articles; feeling terrible, lying in bed and not being able to make it to the toilet. My wife has had to help me out of bed twice in the night so I can make the groaning shuffle down the corridor and back.

Her suggestion after the second time was that I sleep in the spare room and wear adult nappies. Not a solution to our relationship I was expecting to hear just four years into marriage.

I think I’m feeling so terrible due to severe dehydration, but unfortunately I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol (apart from sipping some of Phil Reay’s beer as I ran past him about 50 miles in). 

I’ve done something far more reckless and ran (walked lots) 100 miles in under 22 hours at an event called Endure 24. The event has participants do as many laps of a five-mile multi-terrain course as they can in 24 hours. There are options to enter solo, as a pair, or as different-sized teams. 

Two years ago I entered this event as part of a team of five which included Ashley Middlewick. We both enjoyed the event and decided to enter as solo runners the following year, with the aim of supporting each other in training and on the day. I had to defer last year’s place though because it clashed with a friend’s wedding. I would have deferred again if they let me, as this year I’ve been struggling with a foot injury. 

Due to the injury I had not been able to do any specific training for this event. I had put in a 20-mile run three weeks previously and towards the end my left foot had started to hurt, so I was expecting something similar at Endure 24 and made the decision to not risk further damage and pull out as soon as I felt pain in my foot. 

My main aim is the Chicago Marathon in October and my recent training had revolved around Wednesday’s track sessions to improve VO2 max and 5k and 10k times. I was going to use this as an opportunity to put in a hard long run of about 20-25 miles, and then see how the foot was and decide whether I wanted to continue.

So on went the racing flats and off I went. The course is objectively superb (subjectively less so now), with a great mixture of scenery and terrain, lots of undulations and a couple of steep ups and downs as well. Though picturesque, it was definitely more technical than I remember; sharp twists and turns in places, the odd ditch to jump and tree roots to avoid. 

I went pretty hard in the first five laps (25 miles) and completed them in 2hr 53min. This obviously put me in the lead. No one in their right mind (bar David McCoy) would start a 24-hour endurance race at this speed. I walked the next lap with a rucksack on full of food, trying to eat as much as I could stomach. 

During the 70-minute walking lap I was assessing the state of my foot and it strangely seemed fine. I decided to try and run another four laps after the walk, then would take another walking break. 

But after just two laps into this next running stint though (around 41 miles) I really hit a brick wall. I suddenly felt dizzy and sick. I found the nearest tree to lean against and get my breath back, which is a lot harder to do when you’re reassuring every passing runner that you’re fine. 

I was not fine. I suddenly realised my hamstrings were killing me and lifting my legs just to even walk was painful. The enormity of what I had done so far also dawned on me, as well as the challenge that lay ahead if I was to make it to 100 miles. 

I walked the remainder of that lap with a couple of ladies who were also going solo. Their encouragement and distraction snapped me out of the pit of despair I was falling down and my legs loosened up a bit.

I decided to try and run the next lap as I felt a bit better. This lasted about 300 metres, or 50 metres into the first ascent (known as The Hill Of No Return). Again my body was rebelling and just wouldn’t move as much as I wanted it to.

I walked the rest of that hill and even found that difficult. I knew my days of running up the hills were over. I was seriously contemplating walking to the end of the lap (50 miles) and dropping out. I had gone further than I had expected and the pain was starting to outweigh the enjoyment.

Towards the end of that walking lap, I was caught by another guy going solo. We were walking up a hill together. He had done 35 miles, so was a couple of laps behind me. He said he had got to the stage where you walk the uphill sections and only run down the downhill ones. 

This kind of run-walk strategy was not one I had considered adopting before. With the legs feeling a bit looser, I decided to try it for the next lap at least and see how I got on. It worked quite well.

That lap took me 65 minutes and most importantly felt sustainable. I did a couple more like this, then walked a lap again to take on a good amount of food.

The run-walk strategy then got harder. I managed another two laps of it, but my quads were smashed to bits by this point and it felt more like I was stumbling down the hills with no control, rather than running. At 80 miles I had come to terms with the fact that I could no longer run.

I had made the decision at around the 65-mile mark that I was going to go for the full 100 miles. I still had over 12 hours to complete seven laps, and I worked out I would need to travel at around three miles per hour to complete the distance in time, so could probably walk it home if necessary. 

At 80 miles though, even walking became a great effort. The blisters I had created were suddenly very apparent and painful. The monotony of the course and the lack of sleep were starting to take their toll. I became irritable and once again was thinking about quitting after 85 miles.

I managed to continue though, and had the incredible good fortune of bumping into Ashley in the start/finish area at the 90-mile mark. His race hadn’t gone so well and at this point he had only managed 45 miles. He said that he would walk with me to 100 miles to make sure I got there.

Ashley’s companionship was key to me finishing the 100 miles. He started as a great motivator and distraction and evolved into more of a shepherd and guardian of a toddler-like man stumbling along whinging about how far there was left to go.

I was in a bad way by 95 miles. I was seeing double and feeling quite faint. I had to close my eyes at times while walking to fight the dizziness. I’m not sure I could have gone the full distance without Ashley’s stewardship. 

Finishing the 100 miles in 21 hours and 53 minutes meant there was probably time to walk another lap. I was thinking about the money I would need to be paid to even attempt to do it. I settled on a year’s wages. Due to the nature of the event, finishing is rather an anti-climax. Only Ashley and I knew that I had finished. I didn’t really have the energy to celebrate and couldn’t stop thinking: “How the hell am I going to take my tent down?”

Ashley put me in a chair. It was the first time I had been off my feet for 23 hours. It felt incredible.

For completing 100 miles there is a prize of… a tee-shirt! I’ve been there and got the tee-shirt, so there’s no need to return. Never. Ever. 

In fact, is it too early to put one’s name down to do the Ridgeway Relay in 2020 instead?

Pictures: Chris Drew.

Results: http://www.chipresults.co.uk/live24/index.aspx?cat=SM&eventId=30

Who’s the daddy! Roadrunners triumph again on Ridgeway


LAST year it was a runaway victory, this year a thrilling close-fought battle as Roadrunners retained their Ridgeway Relay title. Ladies captain SAM WHALLEY, one of the architects of both successes, gives a blow-by-blow account of how the drama unfolded…

THE Ridgeway Relay is, for me at least, one of the best days to be a Reading Roadrunner. It’s the day when, for as many years as I am aware, we have had around 40 members running the length of the Ridgeway National Trail, with a couple of deviations along the way to avoid dangerous road crossings, or to finish at a more practical venue for a prize-giving than Overton Hill.

We knew a year ago that there would be a date clash with the ever popular Endure 24 event, so I was delighted to find 40 willing participants for this year’s race. (Note: there is no clash next year, so do bear this in mind before you sign up to run for 24 hours, solo, around Wasing Park, or even Comrades, or just a marathon every other week.)

Having run in the Ridgeway Relay for the past three years, I was slightly miffed at having to attend a wedding on the very same weekend (shh, don’t tell the bride), and my involvement was limited to putting the teams together with Grant Hopkins, nagging people for their predicted times, and then letting everyone know when they needed to be at the start of their leg. 

Some runners requested certain legs that they knew, ran all the time, or were on their doorstep. Others fancied the challenge of particular legs they had heard about. 

We set up a WhatsApp group for each team, and this enabled us to share locations, updates and stories throughout the day. With chairman Phil Reay following the teams in person, from start to finish, there was no shortage of information, and it was a really exciting event to be a part of, even without the running bit.

When I woke up in North Devon on Sunday morning, my phone was already well awake. The race had started, and there was a picture of a very chilly looking foursome on Ivinghoe Beacon. 

At that moment, I felt really chuffed that everyone had got up at the crack of dawn to drive all the way there, to run for us. That’s commitment, and we are really grateful. Enough of the soppyness, though, with it having rained a lot during last week, much focus was on the footwear — were we to go with road or trail shoes? 

The answer was that it really depended on which leg you were running, with each one being so different: some with stretches of road, others with steep ups and downs, muddy tracks, chalky sections….. the list goes on. Of course, if you have done your homework and completed a recce, you know what to expect. (I’m looking at you, Sarah Dooley.)

As expected, David McCoy, the younger (left), led everyone off down the hill for the A team, with Sarah Dooley for the ladies, late replacement Alan Freer for the vets, and Dan Coleman for the Bs. 

Having broken the course record with a storming run last year, the A team, albeit made up of different members this year, had a trophy to defend, and we may just have given that team a disproportionate amount of attention. 

At each checkpoint the questions were, What position did they come in at? How much of a gap was there in front and behind? And who did they have left to run? If we were to try to be competitive across all three categories, we would ideally have a team manager following each team throughout the day. Any volunteers?

At the end of leg 1, which was 11 miles, the A team was third, vets 28th, ladies 33rd and Bs 34th, out of 42 teams. Ask Dan Coleman why he might have been held up for a few minutes. Not my place to divulge.

Swindon Shin Splints had a five-minute lead, with a talented Tonbridge runner on their first leg (second-claim Swindon). This is completely legit — a runner doesn’t actually have to be a member of a club to run this race. St Albans Striders were in second, but didn’t seem to feature throughout the rest of the day.

Leg 2 is one of the shorter legs, at six miles, and seems often to be run by women. Not necessarily in this club though, and it was Mark Apsey (A), Ben Fasham (B), Miriam Coleman (ladies) and Susan Knight (vets) who took over, with the As coming in second, Bs 23rd, vets 26th and ladies 36th. Swindon were still in the lead. Mark (above) was the second-fastest runner overall on this leg.

For Leg 3, it was the first of the two required women for the A team, Laura Peatey (below), with Derek Cheng for the Bs, Gary Tuttle (one of the two allowed men) for the ladies, and Tom Harrison for the vets. In this race a vet is over 50; I don’t know how many of the teams had an over 80 raring to go! 

This leg was 9.4 miles and the As finished in fourth, Bs 25th, ladies 27th and vets 37th. Headington were now in the lead. Gary (for the ladies) was the fifth-fastest runner overall on this leg.

Leg 4 is the only other short leg in the race, at 5.4 miles, and this was requested by men’s captain Grant Hopkins for the As, Clinton Montague for the Bs, Sophie Hoskins for the ladies and Julie Rainbow for the vets. The uphill finish for this leg is brutal, and the As finished in fourth, Bs 22nd, ladies 26th and vets 36th. Vale of Aylesbury were now in the lead. Grant was the seventh-fastest runner overall on this leg.

Leg 5 is 10.1 miles, but it has a lot of downhill to the river, and is notoriously muddy and overgrown. Still, it is popular with A teamer Chris Lucas (right) as it is the closest leg to his house. For the Bs it was Belinda Tull, for the ladies Liz Jones, and for the vets, David Fiddes. 

At this point last year, the course-record-breaking year, the A team was already well in the lead, but the team remained composed. It was, however, time to pull out the big guns. The As finished in third, Bs 23rd, ladies 29th and vets 35th. Vale of Aylesbury were still in the lead, but Chris was the fastest runner overall on this leg.

Having recently realised that the race was actually on Sunday not Saturday, Rob Corney (below) was in the right place at the right time and ready to take over for the A team at leg 6, at 10.4 miles and including the climb back up from the river. 

“He’ll never maintain that pace,” laughed the Aylesbury team as Rob set off through South Stoke village like a rocket. Ahem. Don’t they know who he is? 

With Rupert Shute for the Bs, Chris Buley for the ladies, and Colin Cottell for the vets, things were getting exciting. Needless to say, the As finished first, putting Reading Roadrunners in the lead, with Rob the fastest runner overall on this leg, and even faster than his time last year. The Bs were 15th, ladies 21st and vets 31st. Rupert and Chris were eighth and ninth fastest respectively.

Leg 7 typically has a mass start for those teams whose runner has not arrived by 2pm, so all apart from our A team runner, Gemma Buley, were in this. For the Bs it was Bryan Curtayne, for the ladies, Claire Seymour and for the vets, Brian Kirsopp. At the end of the 9.1 miles, Vale of Aylesbury had given themselves back a four-minute lead, with our A team finishing second, Bs 13th, ladies 29th and vets 31st. Super Brian was the third fastest runner overall on this leg, and Gemma was 10th.

Leg 8 was my first experience of the Ridgeway. I like to call it the tourist leg, as it goes behind the White Horse at Uffington, and it is incredibly well signposted. I challenge anyone to get lost on this leg. Still, it is not easy, with chalky hills and narrow treads, and another brutal uphill finish.

Lance Nortcliff was up for the As, Angharad Shaw for the Bs, Belinda Drew for the ladies, and Peter Reilly for the vets. As they finished, Lance was still in second, but had had a storming run and closed the gap to two minutes, with the Bs 23rd, vets 27th and ladies 34th. 

Lance was the fastest runner on overall on this leg, but I still reckon that wasn’t as hard as trying to get changed afterwards with a flimsy towel in a high wind.

As I arrived at leg 9, I saw the Aylesbury runner leading off, followed shortly by Mark Worringham for the A team, whose legs were definitely turning over a lot more quickly than those ahead of him. Indeed, Mark had (above)checked the Power of 10 profile of his opponent while waiting, and knew it was in the bag. 

For the B team, it was Ben Whalley, en route from Devon, the ladies, Alice Carpenter, and the vets David Caswell, who had accidentally signed up during a post-Manchester Marathon celebratory drink. I forget nothing. 

No surprise that the A team took the lead and finished this very tough 10.7 mile leg in first, with the Bs 15th, vets 24th and ladies 34th. Mark was the fastest runner overall on this leg, and Ben was third. 

Alice incurred a five-minute penalty due to inadvertently taking a short cut, that I had inadvertently shown her as the correct way when we did a recce of the leg together. Oops. Fortunately the fate of the ladies’ team was not hanging on this fact, and I promise we will go back and do it properly.

And so the A team went into the final leg with an eight-minute lead over Vale of Aylesbury, and with Headington a further 28 minutes behind.

While our supporters were hoping anchor man Matt Davies could hang on for 9.4 miles, Matt (left) had other ideas, increasing the lead to bring the team home to Marlborough Leisure Centre nine minutes ahead of second place. He had run the fifth-fastest time for that leg. 

The trophy that Glynne Jones had come all the way back from family in Slough for, to unlock from the cabinet so it could be returned, was coming straight back to Palmer Park.

Meanwhile, there was another mass start for leg 10, at 5.30pm, and up were Ollie Watts for the Bs, Liz Johnson for the ladies and Pete Jewell for the vets. They finished in 15th, 32nd and 23rd respectively, with the ladies fourth Mostly Ladies team, and the vets second Vets team, only two minutes behind the winners. We definitely have the depth in this club to aim for more than one trophy!

Next year’s race will be on June 21st. Yes, it is always on Father’s Day, but what better way to spend it?

Pictures: Barry Cornelius, Phil Reay, David Fiddes.

Results: http://marlboroughrunningclub.org.uk/uploads/files/documents/Ridgeway%20Relay%202019%20Draft520Results.pdf

Oh what a Knight! Roadrunners put on a capital performance

AFTER a day out in the big city on marshalling duties, ladies captain SAM WHALLEY reports on a highly successful British championship event for the Roadrunners…

THE second May Bank Holiday Monday is always the date for what is now called the Vitality London 10,000.

Why is it 10,000 and not 10k, asked my daughter, with it being on a road and not a track? I don’t know, is the answer. 

Still, it is an incredibly popular race, with almost 20,000 finishers today. For many, it is the closest they will get to ‘running London’, as the course starts on The Mall and takes in sights as far as St Paul’s and the City. 

There are a couple of stretches where the course is two-way and, if you’re lucky, you get to see the elites on their way to the finish.

Our club is allowed to apply for six free male and female places for this race if we participate in the Autumn road relays, and Carl Woffington organises this for us. 

These places are ‘captain’s pick’; we want to choose some fast runners as this is a British 10k championship race, with team positions at stake, but it is also nice to reward some of our less elite runners. 

Personally I like to recognise those who have put themselves forward for team events throughout the winter.

Our men’s team was: Jack Gregory, David McCoy (the younger), Chris Lucas, Brian Kirsopp, Lance Nortcliff, and Pete Jewell. Rob Corney qualified for a complimentary championship place through running a sub-32 minute 10k elsewhere.

The women’s team was: Nikki Gray, Laura Peatey, Helen Pool, Sarah Dooley, Angela Burley and Claire Seymour. Gemma Buley qualified for a complimentary championship place through running a sub-38 minute 10k elsewhere.

From our marshal spot on the Strand we were able to see the runners at just before 2k and just after 7k. The race was won by Mo Farah (above, with Susan Knight) and Steph Twell.

There were 37 Reading Roadrunners listed in the results, and it was hard work trying to spot them all. As usual our eyes were tuned to spot green vests, so apologies if you did not get a cheer — you were invisible.

I will never understand the non-wearing of the green vest. Indeed, in an event such as this, it is a bit risky; not wearing a club vest is a violation of the championship rules and your time would not count towards the team total. You don’t want to be that person.

It will come as no surprise to read that first club member to finish was Rob Corney, in 29th place. Only a week or so after another great marathon, Rob (right) proved once again he was worthy on an England vest (which he will wear in the Toronto Waterfront marathon in October). 

Rob’s PB of 30:29 is another new club record, taking 56 seconds off his previous best.

Rob was backed up by Jack Gregory, in 32:41, still managing to run great times despite the inevitable restrictions and tiredness that come with having a new baby in the house, and James Rennie, in 34:00.

Not yet 18, James is showing so much talent, including some for even pacing, with his first 5k being 16:59.

Today James (left), who switched his allegiance to Reading AC since entering the race, latched on to the international Gemma Steel to help him achieve his very evenly-paced PB. (He must have left her for dust in the end; I notice her finish time was 34:31).

The second men’s team was made up of David McCoy (34:10), Chris Lucas (left, 34:51) and Chris Burt (36:48), but the PBs did not end there. There was also a first sub-37 for Mark Dibben, a sub-38 for Chris Buley, and PBs for Brooke Johnson, David Lennon and Peter Rennie, so far as I know of at the time of writing. 

Brian Kirsopp was running his second 10k of the Bank Holiday weekend, having raced at Birmingham the previous day. He finished today’s race only five seconds slower. Lance Nortcliff felt unwell during his warm-up and made the sensible decision to not start the race.

Gemma Buley didn’t run with husband Chris but did finish at exactly the same chip time as him, leading the women’s first team home in 37:59. Gemma was supported by Nikki Gray, with a PB of 39:11, and Laura Peatey, also with a PB, in 41:14.

The second women’s team was made up of Helen Pool (41:34), Sarah Dooley, in another PB of 41:42, and the ever-improving Liz Johnson, again with a PB, in 46:42. 

There were also PBs for Carmen Fuentes-Vilchez, Angela Burley, Susan Knight, and Hilary Rennie, with others possibly to be confirmed. Susan (below) was delighted with her achievement, coming as it did less than a week after her 57th birthday.

Tina Woffington and Sandy Sheppard had a fantastic day out in the atmosphere, while Jenny Dimmick celebrated her newly-regained mojo with Gill Manton, the latter fresh from a PB in the Westminster Mile yesterday.

I don’t know if I am the only person who caught up on all the TV footage as soon as they got home, but I am taking two things from it. 

Firstly, the 800 women who were running in their underwear were part of the Celebrate You initiative, which aims to use plus-size models and normal-sized women to promote body confidence and prove that exercise is for everyone. Aha, that explains a lot. 

Secondly, the first three women to finish were noted for the strength they had built during the tough, hard, muddy winter of XC. Just saying..

Well done to everyone who ran today — you did us proud!

Results: https://www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk/results/2019/

Pictures: Tina Woffington and Pete Morris

Seventh heaven as Roadrunners ladies Pool their resources

CHAUFFEUR, head cook, team organiser, runner and race report writer… SAM WHALLEY covered the whole gamut of jobs on the first weekend of the summer relay season. Here’s her report from our ladies’ trip to the Midlands…

IT WAS Helen Pool’s idea to try and get a team together for the British Masters Road Relays at Sutton Park, so we have her to blame/thank. 

An email was duly sent out to all women of an appropriate age, and we were delighted to have replies from seven who were both interested and available.

Team entries are based on the number of runners anticipated in each ten-year age group; V35 teams needed four runners, while V45, V55 and V65 teams only required three. 

The age spread of our women was one x35, five x45 and one x55, and with runners allowed to run in a younger age group but not an older one, we had to be organised into a V35 and a V45 team, with our three strongest runners put into the latter.

Disaster struck on the eve of the race, when Katherine Sargeant’s iffy hamstring was deemed unsuitable for the task of running 5k. 

This is when it would be really good to have a pool of reserves to call upon at very short notice. Alas, we had no such pool, and runners were only allowed to run once, for one team.

Nevertheless, we were all still keen to run, even with an incomplete team. Indeed, Claire Seymour was already halfway through her mini-break in Birmingham, and raring to go.

We were thankful for our 7am departure for Sutton Coldfield, when, for reasons best known to herself, the designated driver (that was me) veered off the blue line indicated by the sat nav and then missed the first exit that would have set us back on the right track, in favour of a half-hour detour down the M6 and back up the other side, in the average speed limit stretch, no less. 

I can neither repeat in print the words that emerged from my mouth, nor apologise enough to my passengers.

In spite of this brain malfunction, we arrived with the desired hour to spare, enough time to put up the tent, update our team declaration sheet, and prepare for the race, with the leg one runners on the start line at 10.30.

Helen Pool and Paloma Crayford did the honours for leg one, with Helen keen to beat her big local rival, and Paloma already chuffed to be trying something out of her comfort zone. 

With this being an undulating one-lap course, the first runners were due back after around 18 minutes, pretty swift for senior female athletes, let alone masters. 

The changeover line was a serious business. We were called from the holding pen in order, as our incoming runners appeared halfway up the finishing hill — oh yes, it finished on an uphill, why wouldn’t it? — and were told not to waste time looking behind us, as we would be given a three-second countdown and a tap on the shoulder when they had crossed the line.

This made me feel really nervous, and fearful of a false start. Lesley Whiley had already been told off for only having two pins on her numbers.

Helen was back in sixth place for the V45s, in 21:31, ahead of her nemesis — yes! — while Paloma felt the benefit of the inevitable leg one speediness and ran a fantastic 24:36 for 26th place. Had Paloma been running in her actual age category, this would have been 15th.

Lesley and I took the metaphorical baton for leg two. With numbers worn front and back, it should have been easy to see who we were racing against. 

From a personal point of view, those age group numbers needed to be quite a lot larger for me to be able to see whether someone was in my race or not, given that everyone had spread out so much over leg one, but as with any team race my aim was to run as fast as possible, not lose any positions, and pick people off if I could. 

Such was the nature of the course, that splits were somewhat erratic, and, while I felt like I should have been able to run faster, I was pleased to not lose any places — phew! — and come in at 25:16, while Lesley, running in an age group one below her own, slipped one place, courtesy of second-claim runner and former Reading Roadrunner Sarah Urwin-Mann. 

Lesley was still the eighth fastest V45 runner over this leg, with a great time of 23:43. This would have been the 12th fastest time of the day in the V55 race.

Lesley and I handed over to Julie Rainbow and Claire Seymour, respectively. Julie, who is in fantastic form at the moment, achieving PBs in some distances for the first time in many years, ran an excellent leg, the fifth fastest V45 time in that leg, with 22: 41, and brought the V45 team home in seventh place. 

Claire also had a great run, in 25:35, and gained one place, with the team finishing in 25th after the three legs.

As an incomplete team, however, we were then left hanging, with no final position listed, but could be pleased with our performance, and that none of us had got caught by the V55s or V65s, who had set off five minutes after us.

A relatively uneventful journey home had us brushing with travelling Manchester City fans and discussing the best marathon training plans, but mostly involved refuelling with sandwiches, salads and home-baked goods from Paloma and myself. See what you could be missing? 

We all agreed it would be a brilliant event to have on our regular race calendar. Note: You can see a copy of such a team race calendar on the noticeboard at Palmer Park.

Later, Lesley reflected on her best performance at the very same road relays, back in 1999, when she ran 17:57, and the Reading Roadrunners V35 women won the prize for second team — wow! Something for the speedier veterans among you to aspire to, perhaps? 

In the meantime, we will most definitely be back.

Results: https://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2019/bmafw19.pdf

Pictures: Bryan Dale

 

Horse sense prevails in search for club championship points

ROADRUNNERS’ ladies captain SAM WHALLEY reports from the wilds of Hampshire after the first of the three five-mile races in this year’s club championship…

THE eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the Hurstbourne five-mile race on the club championship calendar was listed as ‘by request’.

This had appeared in the champs last year, and although it is around an hour’s drive from Reading, it was so enjoyable that Tina Woffington (below) asked for it to be included again. She then forgot to enter until the day, but that’s another story!

The course has everything: farm tracks, grass, uneven ground, a big hill, woodland paths (up and down hill), bluebells, fallen tree hurdles, the big hill again, more grass…. you get the picture. 

It’s hilly (see profile below) and you really need to watch your footing to avoid tripping up or turning an ankle. It wasn’t as muddy this year, so most of us found our times to be a couple of minutes faster.

There was a good turn-out of 20 green vests, enough for a bit of friendly competition, and it also felt good to be supporting such a small event. There were 266 finishers overall.

First Roadrunner to finish was Ben Whalley (above, right), in third overall, achieving 50 points in the MV40 category. Next in that category was Tony Page, who also picked up the prize for first MV40, followed by Bryan Curtayne.

The MV50 category was as competitive as ever. Mark Andrew took everyone by surprise by by-passing the pre-race banter and turning up on the start line.

Rumour has it that he arrived early for an on-the-day entry, and then caught up on some sleep until race time. He was first of our MV50s home, bagging himself 50 points. 

He was followed by the Davids, Caswell and Fiddes, Tony Streams (still with broken toe in-tow — that was interesting on the downhills, ouch!) and George Nyamie.

Alan Freer picked up the prize for first MV60, and with he, Andy Atkinson and Jim Kiddie being the only competitors in the MV60, MV65 and MV70 categories, respectively, each could also take away 50 points. Ben Fasham was the only senior RR male in attendance, so he too was able to take home an easy 50 points.

For the women, it was Katherine Sargeant who was first RR home, as fourth female, and first in the FV45 race category.

As far as the club championships were concerned, it is rare that Katherine doesn’t pick up 50 points, and Saturday was no exception, in spite of changes to the female age categories to bring them in line with the men’s. Katherine was followed by me and Caroline Hargreaves.

There were grumbles in the FV50 category, following the removal of the FV55s. “Where’s the incentive now?” asked Sarah Bate, as she scooped the full 50 points, ahead of Catherine Leather. 

Sarah will have to take solace in the fact that not every club member takes interest in the club champs, and there’s still everything to play for.

In the FV60s, Tina Woffington took the 50 points, followed by Sandy Sheppard, while Liz Atkinson was the only contender for the FV65s. Liz had the grace of a carousel horse as she came into the finish. “That was tough,” she said afterwards to Katherine. “Why would a thoroughbred like you want to enter something like this, where you could injure yourself? Leave it to us Shetland ponies.”

A great event, and with many of our runners only a week post-marathon, some impressive performances too. 

The remaining five-mile races in the championship are the Marlow 5 on May 12th (also a Berkshire Road Running Championship race), and the Headington 5 on August 25th. Don’t miss out.

Results: http://www.hurstbourne5.org.uk/shared/attachments.asp?f=1fa511bc-dd1c-4c31-bcf3-508b17f44ca9%2Epdf&o=HBT5-Results-2019%2Epdf

Pictures: Emma Caswell