Kathy’s Comrades Marathon 2005 Memory

Comrades Marathon – My diary entry from Thursday 16 July 2005– By Kathy Tytler

One of my most memorable events was Comrades Marathon in South Africa.  In 2005 Christine Usher and I ran it and Jackie Astley was our support crew.  I would recommend this race to anybody who is able to complete the 56 miles in the time limit of 12 hours.  The time limit is strictly enforced.

I was in a group of runners raising money for CoCo (Comrades of Children Overseas) and the money raised went to charities local to the race. Lucy from CoCo looked after us before and after the race.

Race Day

I had to get up at 2am to catch the minibus at 3am after a restless night’s sleep. It was a long journey to Pietermaritzberg and knowing that we were running all the way back did little for my nerves.  We got there at 4.15, the minibus drivers parked up and said we could use them until we were ready to go to the start.  MacDonalds opened at 4.30 so we went there to use the toilet.

We left the minibus at 5 o’clock to walk to the start.  Our start was G pen which was quite far back, and F,G and H starters were all in together.  It only took 5 minutes to cross the line after the start gun went off.  It was crowded, but we could start running right away, without hold-ups.

The weather was perfect – not too cold at the start (it was winter in the southern hemisphere), although there were some cold patches once we left the town.  Once dawn broke it was a bright sunny day, but the heat never got too oppressive.  There were plenty of water stations with water and energy drinks in plastic bags.  The support from spectators was fabulous, the other runners were friendly, without being over-chatty this race was a serious business!

As we left Pietermaritzberg there was a group of about ten African men at the side of the road singing – what a wonderful sound.  Several South Africans of all colours and from different places who noticed that I was from England spoke to me and welcomed me to their country.

I joined the sub 11 hour pacing group for a while, but I found it difficult running in such a big crowd.  The hills were very hard and downhill also got hard towards the end of the race.  The support got louder the nearer we got to Durban.  There were lots of people from the African market area along the main street by the bus station.  The women were especially supportive, encouraging me as I was trying to keep running when a lot of others around me were walking.  Shouts of ‘Well done Lady!’ became ‘Well done Mama!’ and ‘Well done Grandma!’ as I aged rapidly during the last few miles.

The race finished at the cricket stadium.  It was packed with people and the finish was also being shown on a big screen.  I finished in 11 hours 28 minutes, with tears streaming down my face, it was so emotional.  I went to the International Tent where Jackie and Lucy were there to greet me.  Christine came in a short time later.  Most of our group finished within the time limit and Rob got a silver Comrades medal.

We watched the end of the race with everyone desperate to do the lap of the stadium and finish as the countdown to 12 hours took place. At 12 hours an official stood on the finish line with his back to the runners and fired a gun into the air – and it is all over!  It was heart-breaking watching runners who were still coming into the stadium.  A bugler played the last post to commemorate the origins of the race.

I made my way slowly back to the hotel, my legs were very sore and stiff, but my feet were OK.

Altogether this is a wonderful event, very hard but full of agony and ecstasy.  A real honour to take part in this classic ultra with so much history.  Run The Comrades and experience the human race in action in South Africa.

 

 

 

World Marathon Majors-Completed!

By Katherine Sargeant

 

When I completed my World Marathon Majors in Boston on 16 April, Sam asked me to write a piece for the newsletter.  My son, and new Roadrunner, Ben came up with some questions about the journey from the New York City Marathon in November 2015 to the final, very rainy race in Boston this Spring.

Was there anyone or anything that first inspired you to attempt the 6 Majors?

That’s an easy one: Aaron Chai.  I still vividly remember Tom announcing during a dark and chilly pre-track briefing that Aaron had completed his 6 in November 2014.  Aaron’s journey concluded in New York, a place that was on my bucket list so I wondered to myself if I could secure a place for that amazing race and in my wildest dreams target all of the other races.  I’d never gone away without Ben, all of my annual leave was reserved for doing stuff with him, so this was a major departure and challenge for me: to travel on my own, find my way to the hotel, the Expo, the coaches to the start and then sight-see round New York for a week.  It ended up being one of the best weeks of my life.

What are the stand-out memories from the 6 races?

Each one stands for something.

New York (November 2015) was a week of surprises.  I’d been pretty anxious about travelling alone and finding the start line, let alone the finish!  I was targeting sub 3:20 and in the end did 3:15:26.  For the last bit, which is undulating around and into Central Park, I think I had a look of shock on my face but this changed to absolute delight, especially when I was reunited with my ‘phone and saw that David Lewis and so many friends had been tracking my progress and sending me messages of congratulations.  Back at the hotel, one of the barmen asked me my time and when I told him he said the drinks were on the house and random people started congratulating me.  I ended up going out for dinner with an American couple who were also running.  The next few days were spent sightseeing in beautiful sunshine and talking to people wherever I went, e.g. to a guy on the Staten Island Ferry who had seen the Twin Towers come down from his office window.  It was a very memorable week.

Next up was London 2016 and I had one goal at this special race: a sub-3:15 and a Championship qualifying time.  I ran my heart out and finished in 3:11:18.  I was over the moon and onwards to Berlin in September.  Or so I thought.

Just 3 weeks before Berlin I tore my right plantar fascia during an off-road race.  Training had gone brilliantly until then.  I was heartbroken to pull out, absolutely choked.  It was a real low point for me.

So I considered myself very lucky to rock up at Tokyo in February 2017, on just 3 months or so of training following the PF injury.  This time I was part of the Sports Tours party, and it was a party.  Race day was sunny and chilly – perfect running conditions.  I tried not to think about the fact that it was 1 and 3 am back home and I was therefore running through the UK night!  Somehow I finished in 3:08:23 and ended up partying with a new set of friends who I still see (and have raced with) since then.  I will never ever forget how awesome that day was.

Chicago had been reserved for October 2017 and that was supposed to be the next target.  However, one of my Tokyo friends was doing Berlin and so – for someone injury prone I made the only sensible decision – to run Berlin in September and Chicago 2 weeks later.  And I was extremely fortunate to do so.  After Reading Half in 2017 I ended up with plantar fasciitis in my left foot and had another 3 months out.  So the mission became “get round” Berlin and Chicago.  When I started running again at the end of June my physio said “no speed work, no races, just miles in the legs, 3 times a week”.  I ran a reserved rainy race in Berlin and got round in 3:22:53.  Two weeks later Chicago was the complete opposite: in the high 20s and beautiful sunshine, it was tough running and I was thankful to cross the line in 3:23:32.  One race to go!!

Boston, 16 April 2018, torrential rain, near-freezing temperatures and a headwind of 25 mph gusting to 40!  Training had gone brilliantly and in ideal weather I thought I might come close to my Tokyo PB.  In the end it became a matter of survival with warnings of dressing appropriately to avoid hyperthermia.  All anyone was talking about was what kit to wear as the usual shorts and vest top would be crazy.  Elites were dropping out beforehand and those that did run were way short of their target times.  I was very grateful to squeeze under the London Championship qualifying time again, with 3:14:18.  I sobbed when I crossed the line.  I have no idea if it was the Majors achievement, the concentration I had been under for the last few hours, or the cold and wet.  Fortunately Aaron Chai, the guy who had inspired me to run all these races, finished just ahead of me.  He looked after me, took me to collect my long-coveted 6 star medal, but then I ended up in the medical tent to be treated for the cold.

Was crossing the finish line in Boston the most satisfying, the toughest and the last?

For sure.  We had done our final 20 mile training run on Good Friday in pouring rain, but nothing could prepare us for the Boston conditions, including the quagmire at the race village at the start in Hopkinton.  Being a point to point race, from west to east and into a biting easterly wind, there was no respite.  Seeing Roadrunners, Ann McKinnon and Louise Atkinson, at the foot of Heartbreak Hill (at 20 miles) was lovely.  Despite the atrocious weather there was support along the entire route – a tough but outstanding race.  My advice to anyone new to running: train in all weathers!

How important was the support you had in achieving this dream?

The support was fabulous.  Ben, you were always amazing.  I remember the tear-provoking text which you sent me before I left the New York hotel, and you were always there to listen to the highs and the lows.  Tony Streams – boy, has he been through the mill?!  But we’ve run 3 of the races together, so we’ve had some fantastic trips and done some lovely stuff.  No response to this question would be complete without mentioning David Lewis, whose updates on race progress via Facebook are second to none!  Plus I am a member of an online wellbeing (but not running!) group called On the Wagon.  I’ve made a stack of friends there who made the bad days bearable and celebrated the highs.

Where is your Majors medal now?

It’s still hanging on my bedroom door.  It’s pretty much the first thing I see when I wake up which is really nice.  It’s also ready to pop in my bag and show to colleagues and clients etc. who have all been interested in my progress and want to hear about Boston in particular.  The plan is to have it framed with the 6 that made up the journey.

Do you have plans to run any of the Majors again, other than London?

Well, you know I want to take you, Ben, to NYC for the 2020 marathon when you’re old enough to be bought a beer in the US.  I’m hoping that’s the time when you also get the bug for running 26.2!  I’d also like to go back and do the time I know I’m capable of in Berlin.  And I might go back to Tokyo and share that race with Tony, as he looks to finish the 6 majors as well.  So no, not really!!

What’s next?

I hope to enjoy some Club Championship races in May and June because I gave these up in a bid not to do too much.   In the autumn, it’s back to some more overseas marathons, all being well.

 

Beer Lovers Marathon

Liege, Belgium 20/5/2018 – By Dean Allaway

After running the Medoc Marathon back in September 2017 this was on my radar to do and entered as soon as entries opened, only in it’s third year being held and only having a limit of 1500 places how could I resist a run with beer and music involved?

On to the weekend where I was accompanied by fellow Roadrunners Pete the Train Morris, Caroline Hargreaves and adopted Roadrunner Pete Bowles we all booked to go on the Eurostar which was dead easy from St Pancras to Brussels, then onto Liege which was about 3 hours in all.

We arrived Saturday afternoon with another short journey to Palais by train with only around 400m to walk we were right by the expo and very close to our Ibis hotel, so no logistical drama’s this weekend, wallet, passport, phone – check!!

Numbers picked up and bib number photo done, hotel check-in and back out for a few beers and to watch the FA cup final, which the winner was coincidently scored Belgian Edin Hazard.

In the evening we went out for a meal, most of us had steak and chips (which seemed a good choice as this was a fun run and nothing more), just as well it was a fun run as me and The Train ended up staying out late and going to the beer festival that was going on at same time.

Race day was a 9:30 start we only had a 5-minute walk to the start line by the expo, ideal as The Train was a bit hungover and I was feeling a bit de-hydrated. We got up at 8am and got ready to go with a fancy-dress theme of cowboys and Indians, Pete seemed to forget his outfit? We met up with Caroline dressed as Indian and Pete B another cowboy.

 

So a bit about the race, the first 10k was mostly uphill with over 500 steps to climb getting some great views of the city.  I think I drank more water to re-hydrate here, with 14 more beer stops to come of the best Belgian beers ranging from 5-9.5% and aid stations every 4k or less well stocked with cheeses, fruit, biscuits, white pudding and other savoury snacks. The route was then was mostly flat with nice parts along the river with music playing, it made for a great atmosphere, I had a water pistol gun which helped on a hot day too.

We had so much fun and we all just about beat the cut off time of 6 hours 30 me and Pete B 6:27 and Caroline and the Train got in just under 7 but I think there was still quite a few finishing behind us. We then had an after party which you got a free meal of chilli con-carne and yet more beer and music being played.

A great weekend had by all and a most do for any beer lover!!!

 

Runners on The Road

Runners on The Road

 

Come and join us for races or holidays abroad!! 
Full calendar with future events below

Often throughout the year many of us Roadrunners organise our own trips abroad. Someone will come up with an idea and we'll then eventually post it on Facebook.

These races are usually marathons but many incorporate half marathons & 10Ks also. Often many will just come to support, so it's ideal if you just want a holiday.

The problem is many people can feel left out or new members may not have noticed old posts on Facebook.

All the trips I arrange I try to make everybody welcome. So if you have a trip planned in next year or so, or have a great idea then please contact me or email your idea and rough details to runnersontheroad@readingroadrunners.org or just tag me in (Paul Monaghan) and mention details on Facebook. Note you're not obliged to do this and it's totally understandable that you just may want to arrange your own trip with friends. But come on we all love a good holiday.
(Hover over or click links below for further details)
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Trips Planned For 2018

Nov
18
Sun
8:00 am Larnaca Marathon (Caroline’s 100... @ Cyprus
Larnaca Marathon (Caroline’s 100... @ Cyprus
Nov 18 @ 8:00 am
Come and join many of us to help Caroline celebrate her 100th marathon in sunny Cyprus. Hotel we have booked at the moment is Zodiac Apartments. We’ve booked with a cancelletion on Booking.com
Dec
9
Sun
8:00 am Lanzarote Marathon @ Sands Beach Hotel
Lanzarote Marathon @ Sands Beach Hotel
Dec 9 @ 8:00 am
Lanzarote Marathon @ Sands Beach Hotel | Costa Teguise | Canarias | Spain
Quite a lot of us will be travelling to this in December. Martin Bush is doing his 1000th marathon (Yes I kid you not 1000)so will be as good an excuse as any to celebrate. This one is a cracker with guaranteed weather.  

 

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/