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.”

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 Gifford, 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!

 

 

 

 

Victoria victory for modest Morris

 

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.