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

Tough French connection, but now we’ll always have Paris

GLOBE-TROTTING runner-writer ANDY ATKINSON follows up his dispatches from Berlin, New York, Bilbao and Verona with this report from the Paris Marathon…

QUESTION: What activity do you come out of feeling worse than when you went in? 

ANSWER: Not running a marathon, but going to the doctor to ask for a medical certificate to run one! 

The French ask for conformation from a medic prior to allowing you to enter the Paris Marathon and I went into the surgery confident that this would be a formality.

After much sucking of teeth and comments about high cholesterol and blood pressure my doctor said no! She would have to get confirmation from the senior partner before risking a signature on the form. 

Fortunately, it turned out that the senior partner is a parkrunner and after a few questions and agreeing to appropriate medication I was in.

Liz, my wife, had similar problems — her doctor flatly refused to take the risk and sign the form, leaving her to find a more enlightened medic at a bureau in Paddington. Charlie Macklin submitted the form all right, only to have it thrown out for having the wrong wording. It turned out that the words were right in the end, but this only came clear on collecting bibs at the expo.

The medical certificate obstacle surmounted, a small group of Reading Roadrunners independently took the Eurostar to Paris. We consisted of David Walkley, Charlie Macklin, Anthony Eastaway, Liz and myself, supplemented by our neighbours, Joelah and Linda Flintoff.  Unfortunatley, Sev Konieczny was unable join us, but her sister, Véronique Chalmandrier ran in support.

We also had the backing of supporters in Paris — Anthony’s husband Jeremy and Charlie’s children, as well as the warm good wishes of a large number of Roadrunners following us back home on the event app.

On the eve of the race Anthony, Jeremy, Liz and I ventured to the top of the Arc de Triomphe to view the start and finish of the course, while Charlie opted for a view from the Eiffel Tower. We also managed an evening rendezvous to enjoy a meal together and talk race strategy before retiring early in preparation for the next day.

Weather on the day was ideal for running — cool to the point of being cold, bright and sunny. The course is flat and fast, provided you watch your feet on the notorious cobbles and can squeeze through streets sometimes alarmingly narrowed by pressing spectators. 

But you don’t run Paris just to get a personal best… the course takes in all the major tourist landmarks of the city. 

We started in the Champs Elysees, passing L’Opera, La Bastille, through the Bois de Vincennes, back past Notre Dame, the Musée d’Orsay and the Tour Eiffel.

The last five miles is a tough slog through the Bois de Boulogne, but relieved in the end by the sight of Frank Ghery’s magnificent Louis Vuitton building. The finish culminates along the Avenue Foch in front of the Arc de Triomphe — a fitting end to an exhilarating tour of the town.

We all felt we had good runs, and caught up afterwards to compare notes over a beer or two. David in particular turned in a well-deserved PB at 3:40.46 and Charlie was very near her best at 4:23.18.

Anthony ran a solid 5:49.36 and Liz, relaxed as ever, cruised in at 5:41.14, just under two minutes behind her PB scored at Berlin last September. Véronique achieved a creditable 5:17.46.

As for me, I was pleased, not so much with the time of 4:34.24, but with my state at the end — managing a strong finish and a little sprint over the line with a noisy squad of ‘London to Paris’ marathon-running nutcases pulling me along.

After the run, most of us stayed on to do a little sightseeing and relaxing. Paris can be an expensive place to eat and drink, but once you get the feel of the city, not really any more than London. Liz and I certainly enjoyed visiting some new sights and discovering interesting cafés and restaurants.

In common with many great cities, Paris has a fantastic metro system and it is easy to get to most landmarks, so it is a good place to combine running with tourism. We saw some signs of gilet jaune damage to the shops in the Champs Elysees, but there was no trouble.

Much more distressing was, as we left, the reports of the fire at Notre Dame. Television pictures of the fire and the distress of Parisians were very moving, but I have no doubt that the resilient French will bounce back and soon have this eternal monument restored.  Overall a great race and I think a few of us are keen to return next year.

Heartbreak Hill conquered… now it’s Chicago here I come

SPECIAL report from Roadrunner BRENDAN MORRIS on yesterday’s Boston Marathon… and it’s aftermath!

IT’S 3.30am local time and I’m wide awake lying in our hotel room in Boston. Yesterday I ran the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:47.50. It was a time that I was quite happy with and celebrated accordingly afterwards.

The trouble is now that I’m rather uncomfortable. The hangover is bearable,  but not pleasant, the muscles in my upper legs are particularly sore, but the worst thing is, I need the toilet. 

This will be the third time that I would be going during the night (an issue with maximum rehydration after a marathon). The first time, my left leg gave way underneath me completely and I ended up in a heap on the floor and crawled to the ensuite.

The second time, I made so much noise groaning in pain that I woke my wife up and she was less than sympathetic. 

So I’m now weighing up the options available. The most attractive one seems to be to wet the bed, but I think the most acceptable one will be to attempt to roll out of bed into the floor quietly and then once again crawl to the toilet and muster up the strength to stand, then hobble back. 

The prestige of the Boston Marathon needs no introduction. It’s an event that is on many amateur runners’ bucket lists, with a difficult qualifying time and no opportunity to run it otherwise, making it a race to aspire to. The city seems to have embraced this event with open arms as well, with the locals generating a great atmosphere throughout the marathon weekend. 

Upon signing up to run Boston, my initial thoughts were… “it’s that marathon with a hill in it.” After running it, I think it would be better described as “the marathon with one flat bit in it.” 

The more I read about the course in the build-up to the event, the more it started to worry me. “Though it has a net drop in elevation, do not let that fool you into thinking it’s a quick or easy course.” This was just one of the cliche-type phrases that I read and in hindsight all of them seemed to have been true. 

Another element to the Boston Marathon is the unpredictability of the weather conditions and this year did not fail to disappoint. As myself, Gary Tuttle and Grant Hopkins sheltered from torrential rain in a marquee, wearing ponchos and bin-liners around our feet, we spoke to a local runner who had done Boston “around ten times”. He claimed that your finishing time in Boston can’t be compared to other marathons; it’s a different kind of beast. 

He said you cant even compare your Boston time to other Boston Marathons as the weather each year is so different. Again, more cliches that rang true. 

This year they had initially predicted heavy rain throughout and for it to be cold. It was actually pretty mild in the end and the rain had passed by before the race started. The real issue during the race was the humidity to begin with and I would say in the final stages it felt pretty hot as the sun came out. 

The crowds along the course were great. Again, the area seems to have not grown tired of this event but to relish in it. Lots of unofficial feed stations, water stations, live music and co-ordinated cheerleading had been set up and in true American style they are unapologetically loud and bold. The Wellesley scream tunnel left my ears ringing and the last couple of miles in Boston proper were incredible. 

My build-up to the race had been hampered by a foot injury. I was only able to build up to the distance slowly and was not able to put in the amount of training I would have liked. I could only manage four runs greater than the half-marathon distance, which for me is not many (London and Berlin ten runs of 18 miles-plus).

So I was looking for a decent performance in the region of 2:50.00 but wasn’t going to be too harsh on myself if I only managed sub-three hours. My tactic was to run comfortably on the downhill stretches, not slowing myself down, then respect the uphill sections and not put too much effort into attacking them. I thought this would leave me good energy to finish strongly in the last five miles, which are pretty much all downhill.

Unfortunately this didn’t seem to work as well as I had hoped.  A lack of long hilly runs in my training meant that around the halfway mark my quads were sore and I could feel my hamstrings tightening. 

This seemed to coincide with the temperature increasing and I knew it was going to get tough in the second half. I made a decision at that point to stop looking at my pace and concentrate on feel. 

I still respected the hills through Newton (a series of four inclines culminating in the infamous Heartbreak Hill) and took them steady in the hope that I could run strongly in the final stages. 

The course had taken it’s toll on my upper leg muscles though. By the top of Heartbreak Hill I was in agony. My legs couldn’t turn over quickly enough to take advantage of the last downhill section. In fact i was cursing the downhill parts by this time due to the pain. 

The last five miles became “let’s just finish without walking” mode. I was in a world of pain by the time I got into Boston proper, but the crowds and a runner who I was keeping pace with really spurred me on.

I snapped out of my defeatist mindset in the final stages and suddenly realised that I was still on for a good time. I gritted my teeth in the last mile and tried to make sure I ran under 2:48, which I managed.

It was a tough race. I would like to tackle it again with more specific training and higher volume. Considering the conditions and lack of preparation I’m happy with my time, the injury was fine and it gives me good confidence going into Chicago in the autumn. 

Pictures: Gemma Morris and Brendan Buxton

Boston results: http://registration.baa.org/2019/cf/Public/iframe_ResultsSearch.cfm?mode=results

SPOTY selection as the cry goes up.. Corney for England!

ROADRUNNERS have nominated Rob Corney for a prize at the 2019 Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards.

The club’s announcement comes a few days after he took a stunning eight minutes and 15 seconds off his own club marathon record when he finished fifth in the big race at Brighton.

It’s not clear yet whether Rob’s nomination comes in the ‘achiever’ or ‘improver’ categories, but he’d look a good bet to win both. He’s certainly improved a few times on the club honours board!

Club chairman Phil Reay – responsible for Rob’s nomination from his role of mens’ captain last year – said: “I’m running out of superlatives when talking about Rob. It’s not just his speed which is impressive, it’s the way he goes about it. He leads by example with his strong work ethic and is a role model to all at the club and the town’s running community.”

Corney’s astonishing time of two hours 19 minutes and 12 seconds in one of Europe’s principal marathons has started people talking about the possibility of our man being called up for international honours.

The England marathon coach, Nick Anderson, was impressed by Rob when he took some Roadrunners training seminars last year and was at the public address announcer at Brighton, so he was able to witness his current form.

The Woodley flyer will be 33 at the time of the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, while Bournemouth athlete Steve Way was 40 when he represented England at the 2014 Games on the back of a 2:16 qualifying time.

Corney said: “I don’t know about international call-ups. I think I’d need to go a couple of minutes quicker at least. There’s a lot of very fast runners on the scene at the moment. But never say never.”

Corney will be joined at the Reading SPOTY awards gala dinner by ladies’ nomination Gemma Buley, who kicked off the Roadrunners’ PB-fest at Brighton with a brilliant 37:20 in the 10k race which preceded the marathon.

That race featured a welcome return to top form by Jack Gregory, whose best time for four years, 31:51, suggests he could soon threaten Corney for the club No.1 spot at that distance.

The other half of Gemma’s Mr-and-Mrs PB club, husband Chris, made a triumphant return to Brighton, where he debuted at the distance last year. 

Chris slashed an amazing 18 minutes off his best with 3:03.19, finishing just outside the top 200 in a field of nearly 17,000.

Another Roadrunner to boast an 18-minute PB was Sarah Richmond-De’voy, who ran 4:38.27, while Simon Brimacombe ran 3:47.55, a 13-minutes improvement, and Clinton Montague hacked an ever bigger margin, 26 minutes, off his previous mark with 3:39.47.

Bragging rights of the day, though, went to Vince Williams, whose 3:40.08 represented a 27-minute mark-up.

Three others RR ladies to run PBs were Nikki Gray, making a welcome return to the green vests with 3:01.07, Sophie Hoskins (3.44.15) and Julie Rainbow (3:51.22).

There was no PB on the day for Sophie’s mum, Caroline, just the consolation of victory in the 50-54 age group by almost half an hour and the knowledge that she had clinched her third international vest at different distances.

She will now line up in the England age group masters squad in the marathon at York in October as well in the half-marathon at Maidenhead in September.

Despite missing eight weeks’ training in the winter through a hamstring strain, Carrie was 11th lady to finish in 3:00:54. Her training partner, Alex Harris, was second Roadrunner to finish in 2:57.52. 

So, a great day at the seaside for the club and returns on their efforts for those who did the training. Those who wonder whether all the winter miles are worthwhile should have a study of Rob Corney’s Strava output for three months before the race.

Anyone else do half that training? No, me neither.

Results link: https://resultscui.active.com/events/BrightonMarathon2019

Pictures: Gemma Buley and Sophie Rainbow

 

Loretta’s even better… all last weekend’s race results

WITH the next club newsletter not due to be published until mid-May, here’s a catch-up on last weekend’s results, with most members either in marathon action or not racing because they were training for one.

Loretta Briggs (pictured) is obviously in good form for London on April 28th, shaving just over a minute off her half marathon personal best in a Dorney event.

April 6th

Windsor Spring Half Marathon

Pos           Name                            Chip

 48            Loretta Briggs             1:38.39 PB

Time Turner Pre-Marathon

Pos           Name                            Chip

43             Gill Manton                 3:12.23

April 7th

Manchester Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

 624          Darren Lewis              2:56.18 PB

 650          Alex Warner               2:56.26

1935          Andy Morgan            3:04.25

1430          Liang Guo                  3:12.42

2168          Paul Morrissey          3:26.11

2221          David Caswell            3:26.19

3584          Caroline Jackson      3:42.03

4659          Katherine Foley        3:48.19

4706          Tony Walker              3:58.37

4934          Paul Monaghan         3:52.32

5178           Catherine Leather     3:49.51

5773           Fleur Denton             4:06.46

6012           Ben Fasham              3:58.10 PB

6829          Claire Raynor            4:06.43

7352           Beth Rudd                 4:14.54

7479           Pete Morris               4:27.51

8456          Sam Whalley             4:28.13

8974          Dan Rickett               4:29.17

9236          Alex Bennell             4:27.30

10746        Martin Bush             4:44.01

12857        Andy Patrick             6:09.37

Rome Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

8044         Phil Reay                     5:21.55

8045         Christina Calderon    5:21.56

Wimbledon Common Half Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

253            Chris Manton             1:50.46

Combe Gibbet to Overton, 16 miles

Pos            Name                           Chip

  21            David McCoy (M40) 1:56.35

  40           Chris Cutting              2:03.25 PB

180           Katie Gumbrell          2:46.24 PB

 

 

Lamb bam, thank you mam… but no noose is good noose

AFTER a tough trail run across two counties — the iconic Combe Gibbet to Overton race — Roadrunners’ coaching co-ordinator KATIE GUMBRELL still found the strength to send us this report…

A 2pm start made for a lovely lazy Sunday morning, with tea in bed and a rather portentous chapter from The Art of Running Faster, by Julian Goater and Don Melvin.

En route to the race there were several signs to a local lambing event, which seemed like a much better plan than 16 miles of hilly trail running.

It was especially inviting given that the weather forecast suggested that all but the very fastest runners would get soaked. As it was, three intrepid Roadrunners – David McCoy, Chris Cutting and myself – made it to the start after a hair-raising coach journey. 

Not only did the coach entirely fail to stop at the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery, but the route necessitated a hairpin turn to head up towards the highest point in Berkshire (Walbury Hill; which is actually the highest point in the south-east of England – have that, Leith Hill).

The race start was at the Combe Gibbet, a short way west of Walbury Hill. The original frame, long since gone, was erected to gibbet the bodies of lovers George and Dot, who were convicted of murdering the former’s wife and child in 1676.

Luckily for us, the only dead body to be seen was at about the 11-mile mark, where a hare was having a particularly bad day.

The terrain was rough, wet in places (puddles up to my knees – bliss!) and, although technically a downhill race, there was enough up to challenge even the most mountain-happy goat.

Other significant landmarks included a fabulous huf haus, the Highclere Castle estate, plenty of lambs and some scallies on motorbikes: the 16 and a bit miles flew by.

With a proper cuppa in a mug at the end and plenty of friendly marshals and runners en route, it was a lovely event.

I think the lambing and/or the gin distillery would have been better, though.

Our picture shows Katie with Chris Cutting and David McCoy. Chris and Katie were both credited with personal bests and David a season’s best. Right: The course profile.

Results link…. https://www.runbritainrankings.com/results/results.aspx?meetingid=286079

Marathon madness: I stumble over the Sale of the century

A NEW correspondent to the Roadrunners’ website, DAN RICKETT, has filed us this report on yesterday’s ASICS-sponsored Manchester Marathon…

THE Manchester Marathon has a reputation for being fast and flat, which is no doubt why it attracts a field of nearly 20,000. 

This year 21 Reading Roadrunners and a plethora of supporters made the trek there and back by train, automobile, and (in one case) plane. 

It is probably a good thing the course profile is favourable, because the views are not exactly scenic. Perhaps my limited knowledge of Mancunian landmarks meant I bypassed these unknowingly. 

Aside from the occasional Oasis track, we could have been anywhere, and were mostly running through residential streets. 

However, the benefit of this was a continuous embrace of local support: children with power-up high-fives, street-party cheering, live music and a constant supply of jelly babies. Manchester is certainly a friendly place to run.

I embarrassingly confess my confusion passing through a pleasant looking suburb which I had mistakenly thought to be falling on hard times, since every public building seemed to be for sale, only to later realise we were running through a town called Sale. That’s marathon brain  for you.

Roadrunners did not waste the fast and flat opportunity with personal bests and target times smashed. Social media has already flagged personal bests for Darren Lewis (pictured with fellow 2:56 finisher Alex Warner) and Ben Fasham, smiling medal shots from several runners, and congratulations aplenty.

Several runners commented on the support from members of other clubs local to Reading, and I have to agree — lovely camaraderie away from home.

For me personally (race report writer’s prerogative), I surprised myself with an enjoyable race. My finishing time of 4:29.17 was far from a PB, but I didn’t set out to achieve this. 

My training had gone well, but not excellently, with some nice social long runs, so I aimed for a realistic target (hoping my time started with a four) and the objective to enjoy it. 

By mile 23 I still felt in control — this was new territory — so I decided to be a little more ambitious and aim for an arbitrary time. 

By mile 25 I was slowing, cursing myself, and wondering why certain arbitrary numbers have more gravitas than others — just who do they think they are?

Until, that is, a kind (perhaps psychic, perhaps imaginary) stranger on a bike pulled up and cycled alongside me. “Just over the brow of that hill,” he said. “Then you will see the finish line. It’s a great finishing straight.” 

I looked at my watch, re-engaged arbitrary smug number, thanked stranger/fairy godfather, and pushed on to succeed — still managing to enjoy it. And he was right: Manchester does have a nice finishing straight.

Lesson learned for me: that targets should be re-evaluated appropriate to training. Life gets in the way sometimes, and I won’t punish myself for that by hankering after a rigid target, no matter how tempting. Sometimes it’s OK to just want to finish or enjoy the atmosphere. 

Which brings me to a nod to those who didn’t have a good day’s race, who were sadly DNF, or who were injured and didn’t make it to the start line. You may be feeling a little faecal now, but this doesn’t make you any less awesome for making the right decision. There’s always next time, and plenty of RRs ready to cheer you home. 

Manchester was a fast and friendly course, but I’d recommend staying an extra night when the cheers have faded if you want to see Manchester itself. 

Results available here

Pictures courtesy of Paul Monaghan & Anna Balogh

That’s ‘Andy! Datchet cut Dash with training stroll in the park

 

WITH the Spring marathon season kicking off in earnest this weekend, several Roadrunners were grateful to our friends at the Datchet Dashers club for staging their annual warm-up 20-miler last weekend.

Roadrunner Andy Atkinson, himself off to Paris for 26.2 miles of fun next weekend, said: “Great kudos to our Datchet colleagues for a properly marshalled training run in the Great Park. Fantastic!

“The Dashers run it as a service to all local runners as preparation for London etc. With a bacon roll to finish (at cost price) and/or a pint in the local rugby club if you prefer, it’s a magic day.” Worth remembering that for next year, especially as it is only £1 to enter.

Only snag with the Datchet event is that no official results are published.

Across the other side of Windsor, at the Dorney Lake London Prep races (which cost 18 times as much to enter), results were published on Sunday night. Then some different results on Monday. And then some different ones to those on Tuesday.

So 48 hours after crossing the line, David McCoy dropped four places in the 20-mile race, Chris Lucas, Gemma Buley and Brian Kirsopp each dropped six places, and Alan Freer ten.

Brian’s only consolation was that he was deemed to be the fourth lady to finish!

Biggest loser of all was Paddy Hayes, originally declared the winner of the 24-mile race but later relegated to ninth. “I guessed I was about sixth or seventh,’” said a rueful Paddy. “Shambles!”

Whatever, here are all last weekend’s results, plus a couple of overseas marathons from the previous weekend…

March 24th

Marseille Marathon

Pos       Name                             Chip

305       Andrew Butler            3:47.10 PB

Limassol Marathon

Pos         Name                           Chip

 174        Caroline Jackson       3:56.30

 202       Paul Monaghan         4:05.57

The Big Cheese (15 miles)

Pos          Name                          Chip

273          Juliet Fenwick          3:41.27

March 31st

Dorney Marathon Prep Race, 16 miles

Pos          Name                           Chip

   9           Chris Buley                 1:51.04

 43           Sahan Jinadasa         2:25.22

 46           Alice Carpenter         2:25.41

104          Dave Wood                3:01.30

Dorney Marathon Prep Race, 20 miles

Pos          Name                                   Chip

 13            David McCoy (Snr)            2:04.07

 26            Chris Lucas                         2:13.35

 38           Gemma Buley (3rd lady)  2:17.47

 44           Brian Kirsopp                     2:25.26

 70           Alan Freer (1st M60)        2:36.40

150          Brian Fennelly                   2.53.05

166          Jana Nehasilova                2:57.01

174          Ben Adams                         2:59.05

178          Carmen Fuentes-Vilchez 2:58.43

239         Judith Ritchie                     3:10.01

390         Corinne Rees                      3:43.13

Dorney Marathon Prep Race, 24 miles

Pos          Name                                    Chip

   9           Paddy Hayes (3rd M40)   2:54.25

 31           David Dibben (1st M70)    3:35.13

Wokingham 10k

Pos          Name                                     Chip

   2           Richard Hallam-Baker       39.28

   6           Chris Cutting                        42.25

 12           Ed Dodwell (1st M60)        43.22

 22          Stuart Bradburn                   45.33

 65          Katie Gumbrell                      53.53

135          Angelique Haswell            1:00.22

137          Adele Graham                    1:00.35

158          Liz Fletcher                         1:03.36

178          Amy Hawkes                       1:06.33

Wokingham 5k

Pos          Name                                    Chip

  4            Nick Adley                           21.59

Treehouse 10k

Pos         Name                                        Chip

  50          Bryan Curtayne                     45.53

Dorset Ooser Marathon

Pos          Name                                     Chip

  88          Simon Denton                     4:44.14

  89          Sian James                           4:44.14

181           Donald Scott-Collett          5:37.08

King Carl: Capital guy who put Roadrunners into the capital

NEW chairman Phil Reay led the tributes to his predecessor Carl Woffington last night as the Roadrunners showed their appreciation for the long-serving ‘Marathon man’.

Carl stepped down at the club’s annual general meeting after more than five highly successful years at the helm.

As Carl took his place in the audience, the stresses of leadership at last behind him, Phil asked for members to indicate who had either marshalled at the London Marathon or obtained a club ballot place to run the big race in the capital.

An almost unanimous show of hands shot up from the packed attendance at Sutton’s Bowls Club in Lower Earley.

Phil said: “That is only possible because of Carl and his work with the London Marathon organisers going back over 23 years.”

He added: “Carl has been a member of Reading Roadrunners for well over 20 years.  Before becoming chairman he was the Bramley course director and also the event director for our TVXC fixture for many years. 

“He has been the course director at the Mortimer 10k for many years and remains in the role.

“Carl will also continue to be the club’s ambassador and point of contact for the London Marathon and will carrying on leading future club ballots on the matter. 

“He has given so so much to this club and the club has also been kind to him.  It’s here, at Reading Roadrunners, where Carl met Tina. They fell in love and the rest is history….

“Five and a half years ago the club found itself mid-term without a chairman.  According to the club constitution the general secretary is to deputise for the chairman, however Roger Pritchard, the Gen Sec at the time, thought he would apply another of the rules.

“That was to co-opt Carl on to the committee, and after a beer and a chat about club affairs, Carl agreed to be co-opted on to the committee and was then asked to become the chair.

“He’s involved himself with anything and everything to do with the club and he’s overseen a 20 per cent growth in membership during that period.   

“He also introduced the XC championships and arguably as impressive as anything else, over the course of Carl’s leadership the club has contributed over £100,000 to local charities.

“It’s no surprise that Carl is also a lifetime member of the club. Carl, on behalf of Reading Roadrunners, thank you. You’re certainly a hard act to follow.”

Then we all said a warm thank-you with a standing ovation for Carl, the man who took the club into London.

Phil (above) leads a 2019 team which includes five ladies new to the committee… Jill Dibben (treasurer), Liz Johnson (social secretary) and ex-officios Alice Carpenter, Claire Seymour and Vroni Royle.

They’ve taken the places of Roger Pritchard, Tom Harrison, Hannah McPhee and, of course, Carl himself.

Bob Thomas will continue in his role as the club’s general secretary alongside long-serving membership secretary Anne Goodall, social media guru Paul Monaghan and ex-officio Simon Denton.

The new men’s captain will be the flying Welshman, Grant Hopkins, who will serve alongside current ladies’ captain Sam Whalley.

Sam announced during the meeting that she has nominated Gemma Buley in the ‘improver’ category in the Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards. Watch this space for first news of nominations from our men’s section.

Meanwhile Kerri French will take over as race director of the Dinton Relays, to be run this summer at Woodford Park, Woodley.

Our picture shows (from left): membership secretary Anne Goodall and general secretary Bob Thomas with the committee new girls Jill, Alice, Claire and Liz. Picture: Colin Cottell