Richards defies the brutal one-day London heatwave

 

MATTHEW RICHARDS was the Reading Roadrunners star on a blisteringly hot day at the Virgin London Marathon.

Richards was the first Roadrunner home in the sensational time of two hours 32 minutes and 39 seconds.

His red-hot performance matched the temperature in the capital as he ran a new personal best time, eclipsing even the brilliant time produced by Mark Worringham at Brighton a week previously.

The club’s 20-miles record holder (left) showed he could add another storming 10k to that distance, running a personal best and a negative split to finish 45th overall.

Apart from Richards, a lot of his club colleagues wilted in the heat and there was general disappointment that what people had trained for so hard for so long was simply impossible on the warmest-ever day in the history of the race.

A lot of victims of the 24-hour heatwave felt like losers afterwards, but the winners could turn out to be the organisers of the Abingdon Marathon. Roadrunners are already queuing to sign up for the Oxfordshire event on October 21st, determined to use their training in more favourable conditions.

Back at Greenwich, the options were simply to scale back on one’s ambitions… or pay the price!

There were personal bests on the day for Liz Atkinson, Sarah Richmond-De’voy and, of course, the Queen of Improvements Gemma Buley (3:33.37, pictured right), but the real Roadrunners stars were right at the back of the field, where Hannah McPhee and Jenny Gale took over seven and a half hours to complete their brave, roasting journey.

Our athletes set off boosted by a string of helpful tips from club marathon record holder Keith Russell, who must have known his figures weren’t going to be threatened in such conditions.

Most people’s experience was summed up in a nutshell by Steve Ridley: “I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be able to hit a PB, so started backing off. Wheels came off properly from miles 14-18…”

Another of the club’s elite runners, Seb Briggs, who had been the first Roadrunner to finish in 2017, said: “Absolutely astounding from Matthew Richards, who managed an incredible time and placement. Brilliant work.

“The Roadrunners at Mile 23 were fantastic again and it’s difficult to overstate how much of a boost they give you at what is probably the hardest part of the 26.2.”

Briggs (below) admitted that his time of 2:42.14 was way off what he envisaged when he started training for the event back in December. “But it was more than acceptable considering the heat,” he said.

“My time was put into perspective by the fact that I finished in the top 200. I started the race with a target time for 2:35 but with the energy-sapping heat and my right leg starting to cramp up I had to readjust my target and enjoy the experience.

“I had the pleasure of running alongside the impressive Brendan Morris for the majority of the way. Approaching 30k he told me he didn’t think he could sustain his pace before speeding off while I chugged along, seeing him go further and further into the distance. Cheers for that!”

Brendan, the hero of a ‘secret’ half-marathon victory in the capital a month before, said: “I tried to reserve some energy to pick up the pace in the final 10k but when I put the hammer down I simply couldn’t get my legs to go any quicker.

“The last few miles seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t look up at the scaffolded Big Ben as it seemed a hell of a long way away and not getting any closer.

“I knew the PB was not a possibility from five miles out but I was still happy with my time (2:41.48) taking into account the conditions on the day.

“It was clear a lot of people were struggling in the heat. I was hoping for a top-250 finish, so finding out I had come in at 183rd confirmed it was a run I should be happy with.”

Another runner to take a realistic view of the conditions was Alex Harris, who said: “It was one of those days when you just had to focus on survival and getting round safely. Pretty much everyone was way off their target time.”

That didn’t stop Alex, recently new to the V50 age category, from coming within nine seconds of a personal best with a time of 2:56.58.

“I didn’t look at my time until there was 600 metres to go and by then it was too late,” he said.

“I was totally cooked after eight miles and I couldn’t see how I could finish, so I stopped looking at pace/splits and just focused on getting round.

“Anyway I was really happy with my time as the conditions were brutal.”

Those conditions caused a scare for Sarah Dooley, who collapsed at the finished and was wheeled off to the medical tent without being able to collect her medal and goody bag.

“The race was a bit of a disaster for me,” she said. “I had to make two toilet stops due to stomach cramps, then I had trouble breathing in the last few hundred metres and couldn’t breathe when I crossed the line.”

Sarah still managed to complete the course in a highly creditable 3:39.10.

Another runner to make several toilet stops was my training partner Joe Blair, but that was because he was sensibly taking on board plenty of water.

Joe, doing the Brighton-London double on consecutive weekends due to charity commitments, said: “I decided to follow collective advice and start slowly. That paid huge dividends.

“I took on water every mile, mainly to douse my hat, wrists and neck. But the heat really drains you and in truth I still had a bit of Brighton in my legs.

“I finished comparatively strongly and it was only when I finished that I allowed myself to accept the achievement of two marathons in eight days. So far I’ve raised over £2,400 for my charity, Marie Curie.

“The heat took quite a few casualties and I’m just grateful that I made it round.”

One of those casualties occurred near the Roadrunners marshalling at Mile 23. There Chris Manton had to carry a fallen runner off the course to the medical facilities.

Another runner upset by the heat was our own Melanie Shaw, disappointed not to be in a position to challenge for a PB after a year out with an injury deferral.

“I was totally wiped out by the heat,” she said. “You’ve no idea how hard it was out there today.”

Back out on the course, Hannah (right) and Jenny, the bravest of the brave, were still battling and it was almost 6.20pm when they finally made it to the Mall.

Roadrunners’ ladies captain Sam Whalley paid this tribute to her girls: “Huge kudos to Hannah and Jenny; I can’t imagine what it must have taken to keep going in those conditions.

“It took me back to the disaster that was Brighton 2017, where the high temperatures had me reduced to an alternating walk/shuffle for the second half of the race.

“Anyone who ran yesterday should be really proud of themselves for getting round. Look what the heat did to that marathon great, Mary Keitany. It was an exceptional day.”

The Roadrunners’ spirit was summed up by Seb Briggs when he said: “Looking forward to next year already.”

Another triumph for Corney in Woodley 10k

 

ROADRUNNER Rob Corney warmed up in style for the London Marathon with victory in the Woodley 10k.

It was his second big win of the year and followed success at the Devon Coastal Marathon as well as setting a new club half-marathon record at Wokingham and his superb third place in the Maidenhead Easter 10.

Corney stormed home in 32mins 18secs from the Bracknell Forest runner Neil Kevern, with James Samson, of Datchet, third.

Roadrunners also took ninth and tenth places, with Mark Apsey at last beating his target 35-minutes barrier with 34.49, followed in by Dave McCoy.

Corney was one of three Roadrunners to pick up a Berkshire county championship gold medal, being joined by Alan Freer (MV60) and a new name to FV55 honours, Sarah Bate.

There were also silver medals for Helen Pool and Pete Jewell and a bronze for Mary Janssen.

Both Freer and Corney lead their categories after three events with a perfect 30 points and look assured of overall gold when the competition comes to a climax at the Marlow 5 on May 13th.

A-category first places went to Caroline Hoskins (FV50), who was fourth lady overall, as well Ed Dodwell (MV60, below) and Roger Pritchard (MV70), plus of course Corney in the senior men.

There were plenty of other Roadrunners celebrating personal bests after the Woodley race, most notably Stewart Wing, who slashed just over SIX minutes off his previous figure, finishing in 42:01.

Vince Williams also improved his mark to 45:32 and remarked wistfully: “Apparently that was my idea of taking it easy before London.”

Among the ladies cheering new figures were Paloma Crayford, achieving a pb for the fifth race in a row with 49:36, Fleur Denton in 48:36 (“best since I got married”) and Maria Norville, whose time of 54:59 was seven minutes better than in the same race a year previously.

Sarah Bate (below) made it a double of county bling and PB, Candy Cox got a second PB to follow up her new mark at the Maidenhead 10 and there were also new best times for Peter and Hilary Rennie, Helen Dixon, Suzanne Drakeford-Lewis, Jo Rippingale and Laura Chandler.

All of them probably agreed with Corney when he said: “The Woodley 10k was a nice race. It was good fun and well organised.

“There were some good runners, so I got the measure of everyone in the first couple of km before opening up a lead.

“It was a comfortable run, about 30 seconds slower than my first 10k in Maidenhead, but I had half an eye on London.

“I like the fact that my two wins this year have come from completely different races… trail marathon and road 10k.”

Corney has promised a renewed assault on county championship medals, club championship points and more race victories after his big date in London.

 

Worringham super show and England call for Davies

 

MARK WORRINGHAM was the Roadrunners’ hero at the Brighton Marathon, finishing 13th in a field of nearly 20,000.

The former club men’s captain took nearly four minutes off his personal best, coming home in a time of two hours, 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

His successor as men’s captain, Phil Reay, led the tributes to his star vet. “Like a fine wine, Mark just gets better with age,” he said. “To run a marathon in that time and take almost four minutes off his PB is incredible.

“Mark gets a lot of plaudits for his times and achievements but what is really impressive is his bravery and courage.

“He attacked the Brighton course, running the first half in 1:13.37 to see what he had in him. Respect.”

Just ahead of Mark, the race had a dramatic climax, the long-time leader Dan Nash losing his massive lead to Stuart Hawkes in the final mile, the Tipton Harrier winning for the second year in a row in a time of 2:22.33. But, unknown to the huge crowds on the seafront, the outcome was decided, just like most Formula One Grands Prix…. in the pits!

Young Welshman Nash had been forced to make not one but TWO unscheduled stops to use the portaloo facilities.

The ladies was also won for the second successive year by Helen Davies, of Ipswich, in 2:38.41.

Roadrunners’ second man home, Paddy Hayes, slashed a massive ten minutes off his personal best … and then treated us to a brilliant summation of the big event.

“Brighton was where it all began for me,” said Paddy (below). “It was my first marathon in 2015, where I first felt that awful feeling of running completely out of available energy and trying to push on for the final few miles without slowing too much. I felt that again last Sunday.

“I was trying to bring my PB down from 3:14.34 to something much quicker, so I gambled and went with the sub-3hr pace group.

“I knew it wouldn’t last, but I wanted to see how long I could cling on for. I enjoyed the first half immensely, despite or maybe even because of the ups and downs around Rottingdean and Ovingdean.

“The fourth quarter of the race was pure punishment. The sub-3hr group had gone away around half way, and I focused on seven-minute miling until around mile 22.

“In an otherwise scenic race, the stretch around Shoreham port is painfully uninspiring. The power station, sawmills and warehouses aren’t much to look at and there are relatively few spectators.

“After turning for home I had to keep asking my legs for one more mile at 7min pace, then one more at 7.15 as fatigue began to bite.

“Eventually the race re-joins the seafront promenade, the finish line now in sight, albeit three and a half miles away. I crossed the line at 3:04.02, feeling that familiar combination of appalling pain and elation.

“It’s worth repeating just how much difference is made by the support of fellow Reading Roadrunners, both spectating and running.

“It was particularly cheering to see Mark Worringham over at the head of the race.

“Naturally I was pleased with my time but I later spotted that the London Marathon have tightened up their Good For Age criteria and capped the number of places.

“It appears I need to find another four minutes, left out on the road somewhere in Shoreham.”

For Paddy’s training partner, Dan Brock, the race had a contrasting outcome… no PB but a Good For Age qualification.

The British Airways long-haul captain finished in 3:11.58, slightly off the pace of the 3:09 he ran at Abingdon last year. He plans to use that GFA qualification to run Chicago in October and use his Brighton certificate for Boston next year.

“These are both places we fly to on the jumbo,” said Dan, “but I think I’ll go as a passenger for the races.

“Boston is a favourite destination of mine as the city is setup for running and whenever I’m there I’ll always run.

“If I can find a 10k or another event when I’m down-route, I always try to enter. I enjoyed a good 10k in Mexico City last year, but the 7,832 feet of elevation made it hard going.”

Dan (right) will be one of eight Roadrunners in the Simon Davis training group heading out to next month’s Copenhagen Marathon, and he had plenty of praise for his team-mates.

“Most of my long runs are done with Simon’s fantastic Sunday morning group,” he said. “I really can’t begin to say how wonderful they are. Everyone encourages each other and a large proportion came down to Brighton to support… very loudly.”

Another Roadrunner to return an outstanding time was Chris Buley, finishing his very first marathon in 3:21.17.

“I didn’t know what to expect and it was a really enjoyable experience,” said Chris. “I loved every moment of it and was very pleased with my time.

“Running towards the power station was particularly tricky and the only dull part of the race.

“I was going really well until mile 21 when I had severe cramping in both legs. My left leg cramped and then my right… it was agony! I’ve never had such bad cramp.

“Next time I have to be a bit smarter with fuelling for the last five miles as, for once, my fitness felt great.

“It was nice to see fellow Roadrunners along the way, so thanks to those who gave me a big cheer and smile.”

Improver-of-the-day title went to Michael Hibberd (3:21.38), who chopped a massive 28 minutes off his previous time, while Mark Andrew (3:25.32) had to settle for a two-minutes improvement.

Roadrunners’ first lady to finish was Jane Davies in 3:41.35, and it was the start of a bitter-sweet week for her.

“That’s well outside my PB of 3:22.08 which I ran in London in 2013, so I’m about four minutes a year slower,” she said.

“It was a GFA for me, but it’s easier for the ladies. The GFA rules for London have changed though, so I won’t definitely get a place.”

But Jane’s mood changed from disappointed to euphoric a couple of days later when she learned she had been called up for the England Age Group Masters marathon team.

Her performance at Brighton, after which she cooled off in the sea (left), sparked an email from England Athletics confirming her selection to represent her country against a Celtic Nations team on a date yet to be announced.

Jane’s performances for a lady approaching the closing months of her spell in the FV55-59 age category never ceased to amaze, as do those by the inimitable Ashley Middlewick.

Ashley’s body of exercise for the weekend consisted of a cycle ride from Reading into London on Saturday, another from South London down to Brighton on the morning of the race and a further ride home afterwards.

In the middle of all that he contrived to slip in a parkrun at the new Hazlewood course in Sunbury-on-Thames, where he was the FIRST finisher. Oh, and he ran the marathon in 3:08.03.

The day’s racing at Brighton kicked off with a 10k in which both Roadrunners competing, Vroni Royle  and Nicola Gillard, chalked up personal bests.

They were no doubt helped by being pulled along by a high-class field with pacemakers… but not by stopping for their drinks!

 

 

 

 

Modest Morris reveals his secret capital triumph

 

BIG Brendan Morris was proud to join the queue of Reading Roadrunners proclaiming their shiny new Easter personal bests.

“I’m struggling to keep this one to myself,” he announced on Facebook. “One hour 14.12 for the Victoria Park Half Marathon…PB!”

But Brendan was barely telling half the story. What he failed to mention was that he actually WON the race, beating a field of over 700.

While some of London’s elite runners were in Berkshire on Good Friday denying our best guys the prizes at the Maidenhead 10, our gentle giant was already in the capital to gain revenge.

So a month which began with a lot of frustration ended in triumph and Brendan can look forward to the Virgin London Marathon with bags of confidence.

Sharpening up in February with a 58-minute pb in the Bramley 10 and a 17:10 parkrun pb at Woodley, his target has always been London. Let Brendan take up the story…

“I’m hoping to improve on my marathon time of 2:41 that I ran at Abingdon last year, which has got me on to the Championship start line for London,” he said.

“If my taper goes smoothly and there are good conditions on the day I’ll be aiming to go under 2:40.

“My wife Gemma will be running London as well as she got through in the ballot. She’s new to running but has been putting in a tremendous effort and deserves to achieve a time she should be proud of.

“Though I won’t be with her on the day, my thoughts and some of my concentration will be with her. My wife and I both wanted to do a half marathon as part of our training and we picked the Bath Half as we knew it was quite a flat course. Unfortunately the ‘Beast from the East’ had other ideas and the event was cancelled due to heavy snow.

“Still eager to do a half marathon we signed up for Reading a couple of weeks later… well, we all know how that ended. By this time we thought we were cursed and had upset the running gods.”

Not long afterwards Gemma Morris suffered a foot injury and eased off the mileage, but Brendan was still keen to race a half marathon and to crack the 75-minute barrier. Using the RunBritain website he sourced the Victoria Park Half in Mile End, east London.

“The course was flat and the weather pretty much perfect,” he said. “I had taken an early train as I didn’t dare wake my wife, so I was going solo.”

Well, not really solo! The six-and-a-half lap course soon became a parkrun-style free-for-all. Not only was their route open to the general public enjoying a dry Bank Holiday but two more races, at 5k and 10k, were taking places simultaneously over the same course.

“It was a constant battle to pick a racing line against oncoming dog walkers and runners who I was lapping,” said Brendan.

But he was always up with the leaders and his 75-minute pace target. By the nine-mile mark he was pulling away from his main opponent, Tom Sawyer of Tring.

He eventually prevailed with 35 seconds to spare over second-placed Sawyer. “Crossing the line I was over the moon,” he said. “I couldn’t quite believe that I had cracked it.

“But I’m always looking to improve, so I never dwell on the PBs too long before trying to work out how I’m going to cut the time down further.

“We have some fantastic runners in our club and I want to be able to represent the club at the sharp end of competition.”

Roadrunners men’s captain Phil Reay paid tribute to the achievement. “I’m thrilled for Brendan that his hard work and dedication has been rewarded with a race win,” he said.

“After recording PBs at seven distances in 2017 it’s no surprise to see him continue to go from strength to strength.

“He is without doubt an inspiration and a role model for all those members striving to continue their own improvement.”

After London, Brendan says he will be “hoping to scrape together enough pennies to do all six of the major marathons in the next three years.”

If he does, let’s try to persuade him not to make a secret of his future successes.

Bitter-sweet for Rob Corney at Maidenhead Easter 10

 

ROB CORNEY came within an ace of rewriting the Roadrunners’ record books in the Maidenhead 10… but he wasn’t happy!

Corney, who smashed the club record for the half marathon six weeks previously, finished third and led home a long list of Roadrunners county championship medallists.

Alex Harris, Alan Freer and Gemma Buley joined Corney with Berkshire golds, there were silvers for Sally Carpenter and Sarah Dooley and bronze for Pete Jewell, Helen Pool, Sarah Bate and myself.

The club’s only representatives at the prize-giving were Caroline Hoskins, after another outstanding performance in the FV50 category, and Tom Harrison, who vanquished his sole opponent at MV80 by the small margin of 34 minutes.

Meanwhile Corney was left to rue what might have been. After a delayed start to the sell-out race he forced the pace and went through 5k very close to Mark Worringham’s club record time of 15mins 38secs.

And although he soon lost the lead to the eventual winner, Dan Wallis of Belgrave Harriers, his next personal best time quickly followed as he clocked a personal best 31:47 for 10k, just outside the club record of 31:38.

“After that it started to unravel a bit,” he said. “An old hamstring injury I struggled with at some of the XC races flared up.”

Rob was passed by the Kent runner Chris Greenwood and eventually finished in a time of 52:48, only 23 seconds outside Howard Grubb’s longstanding club record.

“I was not at all pleased as I was on for about a 52:10, which I had to abandon,” he said. “But I will live and learn and at the next flat-road 10 miler I will claim another club record.”

Corney’s final thoughts were for the Roadrunners supporters. “They did the club so much credit again,” he said. “It’s great to get so many shouts of support and it must be tough for the guys from other clubs who get nothing like the same cheers.”

The club’s first lady finisher, Carrie Hoskins, led a long list of personal bests with a sensational time of 1:03.42. She had more than seven minutes to spare over the second FV50, our own Jane Davies.

Both our girls earned age gradings of over 88 per cent for their performances… practically international-class running.

And Carrie’s wasn’t even the best pb in her family… daughter Sophie, the Henley Hockey Club star, improved by over four minutes.

Another notable new mark was set by our top MV50, Alex Harris (1:01.13), now clearly back close to top form leading up to the London Marathon, having been lucky to survive a horror crash while cycling in Lanzarote last year.

The usual suspects in our pb list, Chris and Gemma Buley, were at it yet again, Mrs B returning a new mark over six minutes quicker.

There were also huge improvements for Judith Ritchie (10 minutes) and Stewart Wing (eight). Other men on pb form were Chris Manton, sharpening up for next weekend’s Paris Marathon, Nelesh Kotecha and Tony Long, while firefighter Vince Williams was on red hot form and pilot Dan Brock was really flying.

Captain Sam Whalley spearheaded a bunch of super performances from her women’s section, including pbs by Paloma Crayford (again!), Liz Ganpatsingh, Sarah Richmond-De’voy, Vroni Royle, Cathrin Westerwelle, Rachel Allaway, Sian Deller and Hannah McPhee.

Towards the back of the field my wife, Jill, finishing after the weather had turned from threatening to Noah’s Ark conditions, improved by over three minutes from her time at Bramley, enough to earn her congratulations from the Prime Minister.

Roadrunners’ own leading lady, Carrie Hoskins, is the only competitor of the fairer sex to have 100 points after two rounds of the club championship. Among the men there are perfect scores for Corney, Freer, Harrison and myself.

Looking ahead, ladies of a certain age looking for a bit of success at the Woodley 10k should be warned that Mrs Hoskins will be in the field and won’t let the fact that it is only seven days before the VLM slow her down.

Likewise Corney has targeted that race and isn’t planning to finish second. He has also entered the Marlow 5, leaving those chasing points in the senior men’s section of the club championship to battle it out for the minor placings.

Link to the revised results: here

Race Pictures

Link to Peter Cook’s Flickr album here

Link to Chris Drew’s Flickr album here 

Link to Sev Konieczny’s Flickr album here

 

 

Mark and Helen win SPOTY awards

 

ROADRUNNERS Mark Worringham and Helen Pool both won trophies at the Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Former men’s captain Mark took the prize for the veteran achiever and Helen picked up the award for the best local improver during the year.

For Mark it was a reward for his success during a year when he represented England at the Masters Cross-Country international in Ireland and led his Roadrunners squad to the veterans’ title in the Hampshire Cross Country League.

And for Helen it marked a year in which she ran big personal bests at every distance on the way to clinching the club championship and culminated in being selected to represent Berkshire at the Inter-Counties Championship.

Our heroes received their awards at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Reading.

With his usual dry wit Mark commented that the “goodwill in the room seemed to dissipate when it was mentioned I was a Reading Borough Council town planning officer.”

The main awards for the local sportsman and sportswoman of the year went to Jenine Hutchison (taekwondo) and Dan John (swimming).

Here’s the link to full details of the awards ceremony… https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/reading-sport-personality-awards-2017/

‘Sno joke for the Whalleys as Reading Half Marathon called off

 



 

Corney smashes club record

ROB CORNEY broke the 23-year-old Reading Roadrunners club half-marathon record with a sensational second-place finish at Wokingham on Sunday.

Corney trimmed four seconds off Howard Grubb’s record with his time of 69 minutes and 20 seconds.

He was only beaten by the Great Britain Olympic marathon star Scott Overall (65:11).   

Afterwards a delighted Rob (right) said: “I had Overall in my sights… for about 500 metres!”

Rob was always in the front group of the best of the rest and chased down the former Reading AC runner Johnny Roberts in the last three miles.

“I noticed Johnny was tiring,” he said. “So I started to reel him in. I got into second with about one mile to go and then just had to grit my teeth and maintain the pace to the line.

“I didn’t go into this race with a target but sub-70 was a target for the spring so I’m pleased to get it.”

His Roadrunners team-mate Matt Richards was our second man over the line in eighth place in a time of 71.01.

Rob was one of three Roadrunners to win a Berkshire county athletics championships gold medal at the event, along with Alex Harris and Alan Freer.

And there were silver medals for four of our ladies – Gemma Buley (below), Erica Key, Mary Janssen and Lesley Whiley – as well as your author.

Those awards were the icing on the cake for the club after another hugely enjoyable and successful Wokingham event which, sadly, I understand may be the last.

Rumour has it that several of the committee are considering standing down after many years of service and replacements are hard to find.

That’s a shame because Wokingham has a reputation for being the local ‘half’ with the noisest, most supportive marshals and fans.

If Overall is the final winner of the event, it is a pity his tweet “Solo run at Wokingham today” sounded a bit sniffy and dismissive.

It is six years since the 35-year-old Londoner ran 61 minutes in New York and, if he doesn’t like running solo, he should drop back through the field where he can find some excellent company among those of us grinding it out in the middle of the pack.

He would be privileged to run alongside people like my old training partner Melanie Shaw who, after a year out injured and over two years since her last ‘half’, was well pleased to finish in 1:42.

Or he could have run with fire fighter Vince Williams, who came straight to the race after being on duty all night (last call 5.30am) and still managed to turn in a 1:40.

And he could have teamed up with one of Chris and Gemma Buley, a really nice couple who are fast becoming the top husband-and-wife team in Reading Roadrunners.

The Buleys are slaughtering their pbs every weekend these days, starting with ‘his & hers’ pbs on consecutive weekends at Woodley and then Reading parkruns.

At Bramley, Gemma (right) knocked 10 minutes off her best while Chris professed himself disappointed with a time of 2:31 for his first 20-miler.

At Wokingham, both ran 10-mile pbs on their way to new marks at the 13.1 distance, Chris improving by six minutes and Gemma by four.

Gemma, of course, has a top running pedigree, being the great-niece of the former world cross-country champion Stan Eldon, but Chris only took up running late in life when he got fed up waiting around for his other half to finish ultra-marathons.

The secret of success for the two teachers seems to have been their decision to train together outside of any Wednesday evening groups at Palmer Park.

“The biggest difference for us has been putting in the hard work together,” said Gemma. “Training at track with just the two of us has meant that we can plan sessions that work for us.

“The next big target for me is to hopefully take a chunk of time off my marathon in London and for Chris to get round his first marathon in Brighton.”

Competition to the Buleys for the honour of top family at Wokingham came from the usual suspects, Caroline and Sophie Hoskins.

While the new England call-up Caroline was the Roadrunners’ first lady home in a new pb time of 1:24.17, daughter Sophie tasted success for the third successive weekend, with a half-marathon pb to follow pbs at 10k at Chichester and 20 miles at Bramley.

Going even one better than that was the PB Queen, Helen Dixon, who made it three in the space of eight days, with Wokingham following new marks at the Bramley 10 and Woodley parkrun.

The pb roll of honour from Wokingham, led of course by Corney, the Buleys and the Hoskinses, included a 12-minute improvement by Grant Hopkins down to 1:24, ten minutes off by Beth Rudd, six by Sarah Walters and five by Stewart Wing.

Our senior men’s club champion, Justin Simons, pulled off a great double, following up his 1:29.06 pb at Wokingham with a course record in a swimming-and-5k run duathlon at the Oratory School straight afterwards.

Other Roadrunners to make it a pb double at both Bramley and Wokingham were Katherine Sargeant and Tony Streams, as well as Paloma Crayford and Maria Norville.

Also setting new marks were Dan Brock, Sarah Richmond-De’voy, Erica Key, Ian McGuinness, Susan Knight, Tony Long, Gareth Goodall, Holly Towers (right), Katie Gash, Gary Clarke, Veronika Royle and yet another of Katie Gumbrell’s quickly improving group, Diane Hodder.

It surely can’t be a coincidence that a good percentage of these people were among the very few braving the deluge on the track last Wednesday night. And one of the last runners to finish their training despite the Noah’s Ark conditions… Caroline Hoskins. End result of her efforts… an age grading of 87.98 per cent. There are no short cuts on the way to the top.

While the award for runner of the day on Sunday undoubtedly went to Rob Corney, the award for coach of the day went to…. Rob Corney!

Rob has been coaching my son, Mark, who achieved the astonishing improvement of FOURTEEN minutes from 1:39 down to 1:25.35.

Mark (left, chasing down Caroline Hoskins) is a veteran of the Sweatshop Running Community set-up and has made huge strides since he started training regularly with the club wonder-boy.

“It was great to see Mark lay down such a good time,” said Rob. “Partly because he proved me right… I told him he could go 1:26 and he laughed at me. Now he’s clearly thrilled with the time and it’s good to see him enjoying his running so much.”

So that’s the secret! All you have to do is train with Rob Corney! Just try it for five minutes and see how it goes….

·        All the results at http://www.sportsystems.co.uk/ss/results/Wokingham%20Half%20Marathon/3457

·        See Chris Drew’s Flickr album at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-drew/albums/72157693562632655/page1

·        See Sev Konieczny’s Flickr album at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46406693@N08/sets/72157663832190697

 

 

 

Morris leads pb extravaganza

THERE were no fewer than 22 personal bests on the weekend the road-racing season got into full swing at the club’s flagship occasion, Bramley.

Pride of place went to Brendan Morris, our second finisher in the 10-miler behind the returning Keith Russell, with a time of 58mins 11secs.

Brendan was 11th overall, just ahead of another Irishman, Dave McCoy, who also dipped under the hour. Our trio also picked up the silver medals in the team event.

The big pb in the 20-miler was bagged by Seb Briggs, fourth overall in 1:56.40. Seb cleaned up at the prize-giving, taking the MV40 category prize with more than 10 minutes to spare and then carrying off the second-place team award with Alex Warner and Lance Nortcliff.

New international Caroline Hoskins started the season as she means to carry on, slashing a minute off the 12-year-old course record for 20 miles in a new pb time of 2:14.22.

Carrie, who will wear an England vest for the first time in May, finished fifth lady overall and took the FV50 age group award with more than 12 minutes to spare.

Our first lady home at 10 miles was Jane Davies in 1:11.01, a time comfortably good enough to capture the FV50 prize.

Jane also led Helen Pool and new member Katherine Foley to third prize in the ladies team award for the shorter distance.

Hopefully this is a definitive list of the PB’s from the 20-miler, in the order of finishing: Briggs, Paddy Hayes, Katherine Sargeant, our top man’s wife Loretta Briggs, the superstar’s daughter Sophie Hoskins, David Walkley, Dave Brown, Paloma Crayford and Sarah Richmond-De’voy.

Missing altogether from the results submitted to the club newsletter was Peter Manning, who finished 305th in a time of 2:45.52.

In the 10-miler the new best marks were set by Morris, Gareth Goodall, Vince Williams, Sam Whalley, Nicola Gee, Chloe Lloyd, Maria Norville, Zoe De La Pascua, Jenny Boxwell, Helen Dixon and Sarah Walters.

Sadly, your correspondent scored a notable double of a personal best followed by a personal worst at the weekend.

The best (usual corny joke coming up) was in the Bramley 20, for the very good reason that it was my first time over the distance.

The worst was in presenting the results for the club newsletter straight after the event.

New editor Peter Reilly was anxious to make a good fist of his first edition, giving a very good impression of Tom Hanks playing the boss of the Washington Post, so copy deadlines were tight.

And he wanted a couple of reports on the race, plus a write-up of the club’s Hampshire League success, on the final whistle.

A lot to do… and I’m afraid I made a bit of a pig’s ear of the stats.

This data is always provisional for some considerable time afterwards, but that’s no excuse to my sins of omissions. Apologies if the newsletter listings appeared with some members missing altogether and several personal bests not acknowledged.

I knew things were going badly when I saw David Ferguson post on Facebook that he had achieved a pb. I’m afraid he wasn’t in the original results at all and, consulting the bible that is Power Of 10, he’s still not!

Then I saw a picture on a Flickr album of Claire Woodhouse crossing the line, but I knew I hadn’t spotted a time for her, either.

For the record, Claire’s time for 10 miles was 1:23.14 for 257th place and I think I also missed Martin Douglas, 288th in 1:24.25. A time for June Bilsby, a late swapper between the two distances, must remain one of the great imponderables.

As ever, your best chance of getting your name up in lights is to mail your race details to results@readingrunners.org as soon as possible after races. Simple as that.

You can also post in on the club’s Facebook page, send it to my personal email account, text me, tweet it or send it by pigeon. But results@readingroadrunners.org gets the job done.

There was also a pb at the weekend for Kerry Eastwood at the Worthing Half Marathon. Tip for recognition, Kerry: Enter your races as a Roadrunner!

 

Pictures kindly supplied by Barry Cornelius.

England call for Caroline

ROADRUNNERS’ superstar vets Caroline Hoskins and Mark Worringham have both qualified to represent England. The pair returned stunning times in the south of England championships at Chichester to earn international places in May.

Carrie will now line up in an England Masters vest in the Great Birmingham 10k… but Mark is sadly unavailable for the big day. The former Roadrunners captain finished 12th overall in the fiercely-competitive Chichester Priory 10k and was the winner of the MV40 age group in 32mins 57secs.

Like Mark, Carrie just missed a personal best, but her time of 38mins 44secs was good enough for third place in the FV50 section and 18th lady overall.

The first three Masters in each age group will line up in England colours against another international team yet to be announced. And they will have pride of place in an advanced starting pen just behind the elite group.

Now the Henley grandmother faces an anxious wait for official confirmation of her call-up. A thrilled Carrie said:  “It was a hard race and very windy, but a great event.

“I presume I will hear soon from England Athletics but I have no idea when so I will celebrate when the email comes through. Fingers crossed.

“I was 24 seconds off my 10k pb but happy with that in the conditions… very, very cold and very windy for the last 4K.”

To complete a great day of family success Carrie’s daughter Sophie improved her pb by over two and a half minutes with a time of 42:02.

Unfortunately Mark, who has already represented his country this winter as a cross-country international, won’t be able to join Carrie in Birmingham.

“I will be away that weekend with the boys’ rugby club,” he said, “so I never put myself forward for consideration. I was entered for Chichester before they announced it was a qualification race.”

He was disappointed, too, not to manage a pb. “My best time is 32:05 on the track and 32:22 on the road,” he said. “In fact, I think I’ve run quicker than today about six or seven times.” But Mark has plenty of big targets for the running year ahead, starting with a tilt at a sub 2hrs 30mins in the Brighton Marathon in April.

And he also has the Masters World Track and Field Championships to look forward to in Malaga in September. Along the way he will be seeking that elusive sub-32mins 10k.

Carrie, meanwhile, also has plenty of big targets in the next few weeks… Bramley, the Wokingham and Reading Half Marathons and then London, where she will be aiming to finish in under three hours again. 

Both the Roadrunners’ experienced stars have been nominated by the club in the ‘veteran achiever’ category in the Reading sports personality of the year award next month.

Middle-distance runner Helen Pool was also nominated for a local SPOTY prize in the ‘improver’ category.