Dinner Dance 2019

We are now taking bookings for the 2019 annual Dinner Dance at Sonning Golf Club..Full details below:

Contact either Anne Goodall at track or Hannah McPhee: socialsec@readingroadrunners.org if you have any queries

DinnerDancePoster-19

 

Oh, what a night! Mary reigns in Spain on weekend of culture

 

FOLLOWING his brilliant dispatch from the Berlin Marathon, Roadrunner Andy Atkinson has been pounding the streets of the continent again to bring us a first-hand report of another exciting race…

WHAT links architectural greats such as Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli and Philippe Starck and sharp artists like Joana Vasconcelos, Alberto Giacometti and Jeff Koons with marathon running? Answer: they all come together in the Basque city of Bilbao.

On October 20th, international architecture and art were complemented by an equally international group of Reading Roadrunners, who came together to run the Bilbao night marathon, half and Carrera Pirata 10k.

Starting at the Estadio de San Mamés (ACXT, 2013), with a bag drop at the Euskalduna Palace (Soriano and Palacios, 1999) and a finish at the Guggenheim Museum (Gehry, 1997) for architecture alone the key race points won first, second and third prizes.

The race was billed as a “night marathon”, which immediately raised comparisons with Roadrunners’ outruns, groping through dimly-lit alleyways and tripping over raised ironwork and kerbs.

Yes, there were a few cobbles and tram tracks to negotiate and the going was a little uneven in places, but overall the “night” format worked very well. It is easy to see why this timing is quite popular in hot Spain. It is cooler, there is less traffic to handle and, work being over, the crowds were out in force and in fine voice. The Spanish also seem to spend a little more on street lighting, reducing the risk of an unexpected trip.

The race format was interesting in that all three distances were combined in one common start. So, once we had found the bag drop – not at the start, as we were to discover – we all lined up in four zones for the off. To get runners to stop at the correct distance, a system of filters was used in much the same way as the M25 separates off the M4!

The gusto of some runners made it equally hairy, with 10k runners zipping in front of marathoners to exit at the correct junction and then, for some unknown reason, rejoin the main traffic before splitting off again. 

The route was flat and fairly fast, sticking quite closely to the banks of the River Nervión through the heart of the town. However, the out-and-back riverside format had the unfortunate side effect of seeing the finish area approach on one side of the river, with cheering crowds and vivid illuminations, only to fade away as we slogged on to a far turning point.

The eventual finish made up for this – night accentuated the blazing lights alongside the Guggenheim and, never mind the neighbours, we were reeled in with music and cheering up to full volume.

Our performances were solid, but not spectacular and the jury is out on whether running at night is more efficient that in the morning. Our overall consensus was that morning is probably better, but who knows – there may not have been many owls in our group.

Fiona Ross (GB) took on the Carrera Pirata 10k, finishing with a very respectable time of 55:26. Most of the rest of us ran the half, with varying times.

A few notable performances included Fergal Donnelly (Ireland) at 1:27:11, Helen Pool (GB) at 1:36:54 and Nicole Rickett (Germany) at 1:43:58. Our guest on this trip, Seb Janssen (Netherlands), also managed a very respectable 1:52:48.

Two hardy Brits, Mary Janssen (right) and Mark Andrew accepted the marathon challenge, involving running twice around the half-marathon course. The repetition proved a challenge too far for Mark, who, afflicted by a stomach upset, withdrew after one lap, but managed a sprint to the loo, finishing in good time! Mary soldiered on to a brilliant 3:43:44

In the end however, she was not the biggest winner – Fiona picked up the sweepstake for most accurately predicting her finish time to within 20 seconds.

Finally, many runners live to run – not so with our group. We run to live and one of the great benefits of a Saturday night race was that most of that day and all the following Sunday we were free to socialise and explore the city.

It’s the Guggenheim museum’s 20th birthday and entry on both days was free. We made the most of this to review some interesting and controversial art (below). 

Like true tourists we did both bus and boat trips. Bilbao has consciously attracted famous international architects and engineers in revitalising its run-down areas. If you like modern art and architecture, it is a place not to be missed and the bus or boat are a good way to get an appreciation.

A recovery run on Monday, with beautiful weather in such a spacious city, was delightful. Another way some of us recovered was to cross-train with a swim at the Azkuna Zentroa swimming pool in an old wine warehouse re-modelled by French architect Philippe Starck. The quality of the building and the experience of swimming there is matched by few other pools. And all this is not to mention the jazz, bars, an excellent hotel and general ambience of the city.

So if you run to live, Bilbao is a great place to race. Use one of the three races as an excuse to get there, forget the PB and have a good time!

COMING SOON: Andy Atkinson reporting from the New York City Marathon.

Reading Dragon Boat Festival

RR’s Dragon McDragonboat – Report by Jennifer Holmes

 

20 teams gallantly entered the 2018 Reading Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 19th August, including our very own Dragon McDragonboat, comprising of 17 of RR’s finest athletes.

Well, almost…. Some of the Dragon McDragonboat crew had been out the previous night and only returned home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. They were, obviously, very tired, and averse to sunlight, loud noises, the smell of food – even moving was difficult for them. Some didn’t make the 08h30 start time and quite a few were probably over the drink-paddle limit. Pete the builder was even grumpy. Poor loves.

But the rest of us – our bodies are a temple – were rearing to go. Admittedly, we were a rather motley lot, not easily identifiable as we had no uniform or cool outfits (did you see the pics of Darth Vader & his Imperial Guards…and Peter Higgs’ team in purple wigs? We definitely need to re-think our look for the 2019 competition.) But we were brimming with enthusiasm, under the leadership of the lovely Hannah. Having participated in the 2017 event, Hannah wanted us to beat the 1:03 race time achieved by RRs previously, and we were confident we could rise to the challenge. As a great ‘team building’ event, with no experience required, we felt certain our physical and mental preparedness as runners would give us the competitive advantage over the lardy office-based worker teams.

The day started with quite some warm-up. Some lithe firecracker leapt onto the stage and put us through our paces. We had to limber up for the races, she said. I started to feel a little frightened at this point, to be honest. Just how much paddling was actually involved if we needed a workout like this…? The other issue was that she was on a clean, flat stage, whilst we were rolling around on wet, lumpy goose-poo grass. Most of the Dragon McDragonboaters weren’t sufficiently fit or supple to get through the warm-up and had to retire to our marquee early for a rest. And a bacon butty and more water. Some needed a nap. Some of the team were also interviewed by the famous Debbie McGee for her radio station, BBC Radio Berkshire.

 

We were in the first race. Boat 3, I was the drummer. We had our safety briefing, put on buoyancy aids, and attempted to board our dragonboat. This is very dangerous. The boat wobbled every time one of our athletes climbed on & there was definitely a lack of coordination staying seated & holding the paddle whilst trying not to capsize. But we made it and cast off, ready for our first race. Being the drummer is a very important role. You are there to help the team coordinate their strokes, to increase the paddle RPMs, and to give encouragement. Nobody takes a blind bit of notice of you. It was each to their own, hacking into the Thames as if the excess splashing and gnashing of paddles would improve our speed. Result Race 1: 1 minute, 25 seconds (second place in our heat). The crew felt relief and elation, but Hannah was doing the maths. How were we going to beat the previous year’s result…?

After a lengthy period of rest and recovery, the RR Dragon McDragonboaters were on the water again, this time under the command of Pete the Builder. What could possibly go wrong… Well, our improved time of 1 minute, 15 seconds (second place in our heat) was less to do with the drummer and more to do with the extra paddle power and coordination. Our helmsman was from way up North and we were rather terrified of this giant. No mucking about on this race. Other than Pete Cooke, who decided he didn’t need his paddle and it had to be retrieved by the Safety Boat somewhere near Henley. Pete claims to have participated in the race and alleges he only lost his paddle after the finish when Sheryl Higgs viciously knocked it from his hands, but I know Sheryl and she is all sweetness. Next year, I suggest we put a neck strap on Pete’s paddle, like a camera, and he’ll do much better.

Well, you would think that by Race 3, we would have nailed this dragonboating malarkey, that hangovers would have subsided and the competitive nature of us runners would lead us to victory, but you would be wrong. Race 3: 1 minute, 26 seconds (last in our heat, by quite some way). I’m not saying that it was because we had a new crew member in Kevin Bilsby, because lots of things went horribly wrong in our final race and I don’t think we should just blame Kevin. Poor Hannah. We had really let her down. Well, we had let ourselves down. None of us looked up when paddling, there was zero coordination in our strokes, I think we were exhausted from having to use our upper bodies so much. We are runners after all.

Feeling a little deflated by our poor performance but exhilarated we wouldn’t have to do another race as we were a good 15 seconds off the teams in the Finals, we had a debrief of the day and came out with a few points to take away with us. We learned:

  1. There is no ‘I’ in TEAM, only in Idiot.
  2. TEAM stands for: Together Everyone Achieves More.
  3. Hydration (of the non-alcoholic variety) is key.
  4. Sleep is essential (more than 2 hours after a party, preferably).
  5. There is more to life than winning.
  6. Stick to running; dragonboating is perhaps not our thing.
  7. Don’t have anyone called Pete on your team, definitely not 2 Petes.

And, quite fascinating, was that the course length this year was longer than in 2017 and there was no way we would break the RR PB of 1:03. Happy Hannah!

So, well done, awesome Dragon McDragonboaters. A great time was had by most of us and, hopefully, those whose bodies were in a (self-inflicted) sub-optimum state are now fully recovered and will know better next time. Or not!

Dragon McDragonboat Team Leader: Hannah McPhee

Dragon McDragonboat Team: Angharad Shaw, Cullum Ross, Neil Fenwick, Juliet Fenwick, Sheryl Higgs, Sophie Higgs, Kerry Eastwood, Pete Cooke, Maureen Sweeney, Tony Long, Caroline Jackson, Paul Monaghan, Pete Morris, Jenny Gale, Neil Carpater, Jen Holmes & Kevin Bilsby.

Dinner Dance 2018

Please note: Final payment must be made by Wed 21 Feb so we can confirm numbers with the venue and place the food order with them.

Black tie for dress code (or smart lounge suit and tie)

Carriages at midnight

We are now taking bookings for the 2018 annual Dinner Dance at Sonning Golf Club..Full details below:

DinnerDancePoster2018

 

Curryoke Night 2018

Our social team have been at it again, and what more could we ask for than another Curryoke evening to kick off 2018?

Such memorable performances of established classics ruined by us lot, which I’m sure we can manage yet again in January, and all for the mere price of £13

Details are below, so be sure to snap up your tickets from Hannah or Fiona.