Uganda Marathon 2018

Race Report by Caroline Hargreaves

When I signed up for the Uganda Marathon I wasn’t sure what to expect but the whole week exceeding all my expectations. The Uganda Marathon is not just an event that happens once a year but a social enterprise that works with community-lead projects in Masaka 365 days of the year, helping them to become self-sustainable and less reliant on external funding. Over the week we learnt so much about the projects and I feel that I really understood what drives the community and witnessed their determination to create change in their lives. If any of you would like to hear more about the charity projects please come along and have a chat or feel free to have a look on my facebook page.

RACE DAY

The race started at 7am and so I was up at 5am for breakfast, the start was only a 5-minute walk from the hotel and so plenty of time to get ready and to the start. There was a 10k, half marathon and full marathon, as running is still quite new in Uganda most runners were completing the 10k. In total there were 1500 runners, only 250 of the runners for the marathon and out of the 1500 runners, 150 of them were internationals.

The race started slightly late and the marathon and half marathon runners set off on the course leaving Liberation Square and the town centre. The first few miles were flat and so I just concentrated on getting into a running rhythm and getting used to the heat. We were advised when signing up for the marathon to add 25% to our marathon time and so I knew that it was going to be a long day and that I needed to pace myself. After going past the Masala District Administration Headquarters, we hit out first hill, once I got to the top I felt out of breath but once I saw the view it was well worth it. A few more ups and downs and then we reached ‘The Steep hill’ where we could hear some noise from the bottom, once I had reached the bottom I was overwhelmed to see loads of children lining either side of the course shouting ‘winners, winners, winners!’ it was an amazing sound.

The course then headed back into Masaka and we went past St Joseph’s primary school where I had spent my Legacy day at, the memories of spending the day with the 300 children came flooding back to me and I could see the gardening project that we had done on that day. About 8 miles in we reached ‘The Beast’ I had seen photos of this on the website and so knew what to expect and so walked up it, happy that I had reached the top with enough energy to carry on.

I was hoping that the rest of the lap was going to be downhill, but that was not the case, not long after we reached another hill which they are going the name in the future ‘Heartbreak Hill’ as it really was! After that it was a few more ups and downs and then we were back at Liberation Square and ready to start lap 2.

Lap 2 started well and I continued the same plan as lap 1 where I ran the straights and downhills and walked the steep up hills. Everything was going well until I reached ‘The Steep Hill’ where I slipped on the loose ground, falling I felt a sharp pain in both my knee and ankle, the next minute I had 2 medics and my friend Hat by my side making sure I was ok, my knee hurt but I was so determined to complete the race so I got up saying that all was ok and carried on with the course. For the next few miles everything was ok but the 2nd time around ‘The Beast’ and ‘Heartbreak Hill’ felt that they were twice as long as the first lap. What was amazing on the 2nd lap is that at various points on the local children would come up and grab your hand and run along down the street with you or they would just be cheering and saying “bye mzungu” (bye foreigner). After run walking the last few miles as my knee had swollen up I finally completed in 6 hours 31 minutes.

The race was won this year by a Kenyan national who completed it in 2:34. The fastest international completed the course in 3:04.

I would absolutely 100% recommend this race to anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge, hands down my favourite marathon and one of the best weeks of my life.

Thank you to everyone that donated trainers, these were all taken to the local running shop so that the local runners that had entered either the 10k, half marathon and marathon could purchase them before the race. They are sold for only a couple of £’s but the idea is that when they runners buy them it makes they feel like they have earnt them and so they respect them more than if they had been given to them as charity. All money from the sales goes back into the Uganda Marathon project.

Thank you to everyone that donated trainers, these were all taken to the local running shop so that the local runners that had entered either the 10k, half marathon and marathon could purchase them before the race. They are sold for only a couple of £’s but the idea is that when they runners buy them it makes they feel like they have earnt them and so they respect them more than if they had been given to them as charity. All money from the sales goes back into the Uganda Marathon project.

If anyone would like to would like to sponsor me and help support this amazing project then my BT donate page is still open https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/carolinehargreaves1#.WslzgV0ugA.facebook

 

The Westminster Mile-More Than a Mile

By Sev Konieczny May 18

A favourite in the race calendar, the Westminster mile traditionally takes place the Sunday prior to the London Vitaly 10,000, another highly rated event by the RRR.

This year, a group of RRR made up part of the 8048 finishers of what is now the biggest ever timed mile  event in the world. From 9.30am to 3pm successive waves of aspiring athletes started on the Mall, passed Horse Guards, followed St James’ park to Birdcage walk to finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

The well established event now in its 5th year is far more than an epic distance in an iconic location, it is an opportunity to enjoy a great (family) day out, test fitness , mix with the greatest, have a go, witness new generations running their heart out and above all feel totally inspired.

Rumour had it that Mo Farah will be running in the family wave. Sadly he wasn’t in Stewart Wing’s one. It didn’t dampen Stewart’s spirits as he added yet another PB to his impressive collection of late, securing his nickname of PB king.

 

His Queen, Helen Dixon, chose a later wave to race a speedy sub 8.30 ( PB of course!). She was accompanied by Rachel Allaway, a Westminster mile first timer who was delighted by her faster-than-she-thought performance and Hannah McPhee.  Hannah was interviewed by the one and only Mo Farah at the start line. Vlm and weather chat as well as his words of encouragement were a great help in locating her running mojo.

Seb Coe sent off the rest of us in the parkrun wave.

 

 

Dean Allway couldn’t sustain his quick pace but still rejoiced at his sub6

Kerri French raced to her target, fantastic sub10 achieved in what she described as “an amazing organised event”

 

Liz Atkinson used the mile as a warm up for the 10,000 the following day.

 

I visualised the track at Palmer park every 400 meters. Sadly the voice of Tony Canning wasn’t loud enough in my head to take me to a sub9 .  Sporadic attendance at the Friday speed sessions had a slowing effect on the day as well as splinters and cuts under foot result of being stranded on Black Swan Lake in windy conditions the day before.

Moral of the story : more regular Friday training sessions at palmer park and less paddle boarding on the eve of the race for me as next year target is set.

 

Pollen was high this year making the race conditions quite tough. Andy Atkinson missed out on a sub7 and got beaten by Teresa Caswell ( of Reading parkrun) and Sam Whalley. Both parkrun EDs were determined to improve on their last year’s time with Sam reflecting afterwards “ I knew I would struggle to get close to last year’s time because I do not have a marathon behind me. When I saw my time was so close to 7, I wished I had had Peter Reilly breathing down my neck, as that might have made me go faster”

 

Regardless of the distance, when wearing a bib, race mode is on !

All of us embraced the day to the full and we hope more Roadrunners will join in next year for this uniquely inspiring experience.

All good practice for our club track mile!

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!

 

All Roads Lead To Rhodes

Road to Rhodes Marathon Weekend 2018 by Paul Monaghan

We do marathons quite often but every now and again a gem pops up that you just don’t expect. I’d visited Rhodes in 96 so started looking at my videos & photos again before we left, and what really sprung back to mind was just how beautiful this Greek island was.

Would it have changed since the 20+ years since I’d visited? Would I see it differently from a running perspective? I would shortly be finding out, and I couldn’t wait.

The largest of the Dodecanese Islands Rhodes is a maze of cobbled streets surrounded by sunny beaches enjoying 300 days of sunshine per year. The Old Town is a historic delight to walk around, a true gem from the past. We wouldn’t be running through this but would run past it which was good enough for me.

To the South is Lindos, dominated with its view of the ancient Acropolis, dazzling white houses & turquoise crystal clear waters. A mecca for sun worshippers and history buffs alike. I’d also taken a boat trip here in 96 and loved it, I wondered if it would have retained it’s charm? We’d be taking a boat later during the trip, so for that reason alone I had to survive another marathon plus numerous souvlakis and plates of humus. No Hard Rock Cafés though…Every cloud (In joke)

It was Kerry Eastwood’s suggestion we give this one a go and with it including a 10k & half also it’s an easy sell, as we tend to not just get the hardcore marathon runners to join us, which is always a good thing. It was also great value and included an Adidas t-shirt a pasta party and free photos; It just had to be done. Pete Cook decided to give his camera a miss as his lenses would probably need a seat by themselves. Still, there were plenty of us to grab a pic or two (or even a #TeamJackMon video)… I hear you snigger.

Higgsy & Sheryl, Kerry Eastwood, Peter Cook and Maureen Sweeney stayed at a resort in Kallithea whilst Caroline Jackson & I (#TeamJackMon). Bushy & Pete Morris decided to stay in the city centre as our marathon was to kick off at 7:15 due to the race temperature. Our hotel was great especially the al fresco breakfast and was close the start.

One thing I will say about Rhodes town is even though a lot of the place can have a tacky feel , it’s still managed to retain its culture and a lot of nice places can still be found, which is ideal if you’re a couple travelling together and don’t want to bring England with you. It caters for most tastes which Caroline & I found appealing. We may not be able to enjoy 300 days of sunshine but we booked from Fri-Wed giving us at least 6 days.

On that note though, our first night was spent touring some of the bars plus catching up with pals & locals discussing our impending marathon. Us RRs know how to party, so much so that we may even write a pamphlet on it. ‘Foreword by Pete Morris & Martin Bush’.

The next day it was a case of going to the expo to pick up our race stuff and catch up with the others. Expo was ideally located close to the start in the town centre, which was easy compared to some races were a private jet wouldn’t go a miss to get to the expo from start line.

We all met up in the town during Saturday afternoon but one thing that totally slipped my mind was that Bushy had never visited. Fine you might say until you realise he must have a lack of Greek souvenirs. Anyway let’s just say the Greek economy was restored with just an hour of his shopping.

The guys staying at Kallithea ate back at their inclusive hotel but us Rhodes crew decided to give the pasta party a go during the early evening. We did notice there were no pasta party tickets in our race bags, so we brought our numbers along just to be on the safe side. The pasta party was to be held at Pane di Capo in Kallithea and we had no idea what to expect but gathered it probably wouldn’t be sitting on grass in the rain.
We made our way to the pick-up point but were slightly hesitant as not one of the crowd looked like a runner, in fact it looked like a gathering for a Greek wedding. Could we be in the wrong queue? I spotted a pair of Asics on one of them so we decided to take a punt.

Pane di Capo which we arrived at was absolutely stunning as it was located next to a postcard style turquoise watered bay. It seems most of the Greeks had got wind of it and decided to invite their families, meaning that the 150 they expected turned out to be nearer 400, so you can imagine the chaos. They had three chefs cooking from scratch and a DJ playing amongst the palm trees. As Pete commented it was more like a wedding scene from ‘The Godfather’. You just had to be there to appreciate it, but believe me it was as good as it gets.

We sat down having a beer and noticed a queue growing which we eventually decided to join. We must have queued for 1.5 hours because of the unexpected chaos. They just couldn’t cope, plus we had the added panic of just 2 hours before the coach took us back. Bushy had latched on to being able to get free beers whilst in the queue so I guess it cushioned the blow slightly. Anyway this was the only slight downside to an otherwise perfect set up. The coaches waited so all was fine eventually. I’ve attended a few pasta parties but this was by far the best despite the queuing. The race is almost worth doing just for that evening and I’ve not even started telling you about the race yet.

We’d anticipated a hot race but as we opened our curtains at about 6am the sun was already blinding us. Caroline had run London the previous week but this would be even hotter, we are used to these kinds of temperatures and really enjoy them but there’s never any chance of running a fast time. Never the less we couldn’t wait to start this one and it didn’t disappoint.

The start area atmosphere was electric. The MC was hollering enthusiastically as the runners and officials posed for pics. We couldn’t understand a word but it had a loud passionate tone that had all cheering. The full and the half would kick off the same time whilst the 10K would kick off at midday, though we were all there to support each other.

Eventually the gun fired as the full and half marathons set off together. There was a festive vibe to all of this, and to me it always seems just that much better when it’s hot and sunny. As usual there were happy kids’ high fiving us as we set off, with the obligatory drones hovering above us to grab that essential YouTube aerial island footage.

Was not long before the endless blue of the Aegean was to our left as we ran alongside the ancient Rhodes walls of the old town. The heat was killing me but the brilliant views more than made up for it. I decided on a strategy of not looking at my watch, though the pacemakers can spoil the fun of ignoring your own time & pace. Parts of this route were unsupported, but it’s no surprise as there were no houses at many points and parking would have been difficult. I pushed on regardless but had no choice to stop at most water stations. I just poured bottles over myself as the temp had ramped up to 27 with no shade. Eventually the route doubled back so was a chance to see where the rest were and cheer each other on. I was ahead and still feeling quite good. It was back past the medieval castle and eventually up a hill with the most breathtaking views. I was not sure of my time at mile 24 but had estimated about a 4:20 finish as spent so much time walking and drinking water and generally enjoying the views. Anyway I had a second strength and speeded up towards the end, little did I know Caroline was in pursuit. I crossed the line in 4:05 which though disappointing for me, I knew I couldn’t have done much better in the sweltering heat.

I raised my arms and clapped the crowd as I crossed the finish. This was better than most foreign marathons I’ve done hands down, as everything was just spot on. From the pasta party to the expo, the marshals, the course, it was nearly impossible to fault.

Caroline was not far behind at 4:06 as was chasing me down, It was big hugs as she crossed the line. Bushy & Pete Morris managed a 4:37 and a 4:58 respectively.

So what about the others? They all ran the half except for Maureen who did the 10k. Whilst Sheryl was kind enough to come along to support us all. Pete Cook did a 1:54 whilst Higgsy and Kerry who looked like they were having great fun running the course together managed 2:34 each. Maureen’s 10k kicked off later at 12:15 so she had a chance to cheer us in before starting her own race in which she managed a 1:09. Results for us all though were more or less irrelevant as this was more about the experience.

I just missed out on an age cat prize as did Caroline but it was so much fun watching the festive prize giving. All us RRs sat in the roasting sun sipping beers on this stunning island. Even Bushy resisted the gift shops and pubs for a few hours (OK two hours)… A friend of ours from the 100 marathon club ‘Costas’ did pick up a prize so we had something to celebrate besides finishing in the blistering heat.

During the prize giving we were approached by the Larnaca marathon organiser. (Larnaca Marathon is twinned with Rhodes Marathon) They offered us free accommodation during that weekend as Caroline will be running her 100th there. It was the icing on the cake to a great day.

The following day we took a trip with Pete to Lindos which I’ve described above. If you go you really have to do this, not only is it a stunning place, but you get a chance to sunbathe on the top deck of the boat and go swimming. If you happen to go with Pete you may even get a few dodgy selfies thrown in.

We did another boat trip plus visited the infamous Faliraki and a few other places, which I’ll skip going into detail about. Ultimately all as I have left to say is you just have to do Rhodes Island’s Marathon weekend as you won’t regret it. Oh and don’t forget your sandals & sunscreen J

  1. If you want to join us or anyone at the club for a foreign trip or race please get in contact or check out my new ‘Runners on the Road’ section on the website. Everyone is welcome regardless of ability or even if you’re recovering from injury. All are also more than welcome to join us for Caroline’s 100th Marathon at Larnaca, Cyprus in November.     

Nott a problem as Corney completes record hat-trick

ROB CORNEY smashed his third Reading Roadrunners record in the space of just eight days when he won the Royal Berkshire 10k at Green Park.

Rob’s time of 31 minutes 30 seconds took eight seconds off the previous club best which had stood for 23 years. And it followed new records in the Marlow 5 on the previous Sunday and in the Track 5k barely 40 hours before.

His time of 15:23 in the Friday night handicap event improved Mark Worringham’s old record by 15 seconds… but was not his biggest moment of the week at Palmer Park.

Just 48 hours before, Rob had so impressed national coach Nick Anderson that he invited our man to take part in an England training camp later this summer.

At Green Park, Rob says he “got lucky” in finding someone to push him to a new course record in the race in which he was pipped on the dip by Oxford’s Jon Holmans in a photo finish last year.

That someone was the Wiltshire champion Simon Nott, who led the Roadrunners star for the first 7k. “I was definitely dragged round,” said Rob. “It was a bit off a shock to find myself sitting behind someone at 31:30 pace.

“I didn’t fancy a repeat of last year’s sprint finish, so I had to grit my teeth and maintain the gap. It was nice to see the clock reading what had been my target time for the season.”

Nott chased him all the way to the line, finishing just nine seconds in arrears.

Another West Countryman, Dan Mapp, was third, with Jack Gregory, the winner of this event in 2014, in fourth.

Afterwards Jack (right, No.2342) revealed that he has left Reading AC and joined Roadrunners as a first-claimer. That’s a great signing, as he has a 10k PB even quicker than the all-conquering Corney!

Reading AC speedster, Naomi Mitchell, was first lady finisher in 36:59.

These were the stars of a race which attracted 60 Roadrunners on a baking hot day, far more than the Binfield 10k (10 RR) and our club championship 10-mile event at Hook 10 (16 RR).

Dave McCoy (the Irish one) finished second at Hook, Alan Freer won the MV60 award and Katherine Sergeant came in second FV40.

There were no age group prizes for our club at Green Park, although my son Mark, coached by Corney, was second in the MV40 group with a big personal best. I made it a family double with a similar placing in the MV60s and Alex Harris was runner-up at MV50.

Pride of place among the personal best achievements went to Sarah Richmond-De’voy, (left) who completed a full house of PBs for the year at every distance she has competed.

In doing so she emulated Gemma Buley, Roadrunners’ first lady finisher in 41:48 despite running with a heavy cold. That was passed on to her by husband Chris, recovering but still not sufficiently to finish within half a minute of his wife.

Our second girl over the line was Loretta Briggs, also with a PB to follow up her excellent performance in the Milton Keynes Marathon.

More PBs came from Beth Rudd (below), with a three-minutes improvement, David Clay, following up his first sub-20 park run the previous day, and Ivan “that was a bit toasty” Harding. Vince Williams (first time under 45), Sarah Bate, Paul Morrissey and Ben and Jess Johnson also set new marks.

But there was no doubt about the performance of the day from the man who Track 5k organiser Fergal Donnelly called “not just a phenomenal runner, but a great sport.”

Rob has proved himself as a top clubman in the last month by staying behind to marshal the junior races after his victory at the Shinfield 10k and then allowing himself to be the patsy at the Track 5k.

There it was convincingly proved that the only way to beat Corney is to start a race a damn long time before he does.

Next he will prove his worth again at the Ridgeway Relay, where he has volunteered to run leg six, the daunting climb over the Downs out of Goring, for men’s captain Phil Reay’s all-star squad.

After Sunday’s latest record splurge he took the trouble to email me to pass on praise to many other club-mates who ran well and for the efforts of Glynne Jones, Emma Caswell, Chris Drew and the rest of the RR volunteers marshalling the start/finish area.

Corney’s contribution to the club was best summed up by the immortal words of Emma Caswell: “Bloody all-round amazing.”

 

Pictures by Ian McGuinness.

Results: http://www.royalberkshire10k.com

Running 100 Miles

Running 100miles, via Intensive Care – by Stuart Kinton.

 

I’ve been fortunate enough to do well at and enjoy endurance events since childhood and so have always sought challenges that test my physical boundaries. I have come to learn just how much the human body and mind are capable of and the incredible feats they can achieve. Only 3 years ago friend and former Roadrunner Gavin Collins was competing regularly in ultra-marathons and I thought the idea of him running 50 miles was a crazy one, one that I simply couldn’t get my head round. At that stage I had never completed a stand-alone marathon and had only run beyond half marathon distance a handful of times in training.

 

Having completed an Ironman in 2014, I struggled for motivation and entered very little in 2015. I needed a new challenge to get me inspired again and running has always been the activity I enjoy the most. A friend suggested the South Downs Way 50 mile race in April 2016 and I went into it on a rather hit-and-miss training plan where my longest run had been 18 miles. A certain Gemma Buley just so happened to be racing that day and so we stuck together, power walking the many uphills and jogging all the flats and downhills. We reached the athletics track in Eastbourne with a great sense of achievement and couldn’t quite fathom completing those last 50 miles having already run 50 miles beforehand as is the course for the South Downs Way 100.

   

 

 

South Downs 50 2016 with Gemma Buley

Just over a month later, in May 2016, my life was quite literally flipped upside down. Whilst out on my bicycle I was hit by a car. The Thames Valley Air Ambulance flew me to Oxford where I spent 9 days in hospital including 3 days in intensive care with a variety of injuries. From very early on I saw this as another physical challenge, one that I would give everything to. I was determined that this accident would not define me and that I would come back and prove to myself that despite these injuries I was as good as, if not better than before. I spent lots of time in the gym and had managed a couple of runs before requiring further surgery on my arm and with it a ban on running until Christmas 2016. Of course the most sensible thing to do when under a ban on running, having sustained such significant injuries and having not run for so long is to put yourself on the waiting list for a place at the South Downs Way 100 in June 2017.

I began running again at Christmas and did my best to start with short, steady and infrequent runs. My motto soon became, “time on feet”. Only the elite runners will actually run an entire ultra and therefore you have to train your body for a lot of walking too. At no other time in life do you spend 20+ hours on your feet, let alone asking your legs to provide continuous forward progress during this time and so getting acclimatised to this is important. I soon realised that I really enjoy sticking to a strict run-walk schedule and tend to base this around 12 minutes so that it fits nicely into an hour. One training run on the Ridgeway was as much as 9 minutes walking, 3 minutes running – this was a great way to get 30 miles and nearly 6 hours of ‘time on feet’ without taking too much out of myself or risking injury with too much running. I completed a number of these 25-30 mile run-walks and felt as prepared as I could be going into the South Downs Way 100. For me the idea of completing 100 miles is still too much to think about in one go and therefore it has to be broken down into smaller chunks such as aid stations.

 

My goal for the race was to complete it, hopefully in less than 24 hours and also raise more than £2900 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (the cost of the average rescue).

 

As per my usual racing I set off way too fast and got carried away by the excitement of it all. I went through halfway in 9:10 and was going well until about mile 78 by which point, a friend had joined to be my pacer. The relentless hills of the South Downs and the early pace took its toll and at that point I realised that the last 20 miles would be nothing faster than a walk through the night. This was extremely tough to handle mentally as I knew that this was likely 6 or so more hours of walking when already exhausted. Continuous forward progress is definitely the name of the game at this stage of an ultra and that’s what I did, putting one foot in front of the other over and over again. The emotion of reaching the track in Eastbourne was overwhelming, all pain left my body and I ran the last 200m like an effort on a Wednesday night at Palmer Park!

 

There were a lot of tears; I was back, I had achieved something I had never dreamed possible, I had completed the race in 22:07:04 and had raised over £4,000 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

   

 

 

During SDW 100 – June 2017

Of course I quickly forgot those painful last few hours and over time considered my next challenge. I thought about how strong I had been until those last 20 miles and wondered if I picked a flatter course and adjusted my training whether I could break the 20 hour barrier. I chose the Thames Path 100 and was motivated by the fact that I would know so much of the course. This year I would also have a whole year of running in my legs and the knowledge that I could complete the distance.

 

I completed Brecon to Cardiff (44 miles), Chester 50, and Exmoor Coastal 32 with four weeks separating each race so as to get my legs used to more ‘time on feet’. I did well at these races however a niggling foot problem meant that I had to really hold back on training in between them and therefore by race day my main goal was a PB, though I still had dreams of 20-21 hours.

 

At the start line in Richmond the sun was shining and the heat was already rising for what we now know to be the hottest early May bank holiday on record.  I set off on a

9/1 run/walk schedule for the first hour, 10/2 for the second hour and 9/1 for the third hour.  In hindsight I was running way too fast, particularly given the heat and with the walking breaks being so short I was not able to recover fully, get fuel on board and let this fuel digest. This was a big lesson in sticking to my training where my walk recoveries would be a minimum of 3 minutes and as much as 9 minutes as mentioned earlier whilst maintaining a very good average pace. I felt terrible 20 miles in; I was hot, I had sweated buckets, my legs were tired and my head had dropped at the thought of another 80 miles to go. I even considered at what point I would drop out and thought that if I did so then I would at least be able to enjoy the sunny bank holiday weekend. It was at this stage also that I swore I would never enter another 100.

My goal of sub-22 had gone and so I set my sights on sub-24, something I knew I would still have to work really hard for. To get through the heat of the day with my fatigued body and mind I was only managing sporadic short jogs but this was helped by tagging along with other runners on their jogging efforts. I just kept ticking off each aid station, working towards the next one and a few miles before Henley realised that my power walking pace was really strong and saved a lot of energy also.

 

I got into the halfway point at Henley in 10hrs 34mins and was buoyed by my strong walking and the fact that I was now joined by a friend to pace me. Having a familiar face and conversation is so valuable and this really helped me to push on with the walking pace and manage a few short jogs wherever possible. I am extremely grateful to my friends for giving up their Saturday night to pace me and a real psychological boost was that every couple of hours it would be a different friend taking over pacing duties and so with it came fresh conversation and something to work towards. I knew that if I maintained 4mph I would go under 24 hours and I was consistently hitting that even with aid station stops along the way. I was sure to get into each aid station, grab what I needed, have a sugary cup of tea and get going as quickly as possible so as not to waste time.

 

Between Goring and Benson I really got a second wind and was running 2-3 minutes at a time regularly and feeling great. I knew that every minute I put in the bank now would aid the sub-24 hour goal. I experienced the most beautiful sunrise near Clifton Hampden as I was back to a strong walk but realised that I still needed to keep fuelling. My main fuel throughout the day had been grapes and pineapple, the only things that I really wanted and could manage in the heat. As the sun came up the heat began once more and my body was fatiguing. I was just so grateful that the path was firm the whole way as I ran the last 15 miles a month pre-race and it was incredibly muddy, I really wouldn’t have fancied wading through mud with 90+ miles in the legs!

 

My feet were very sore but I fought on with a good walking pace, though my conversation with my pacing friend was very minimal by this stage. I saw the finish line in Oxford and managed one last run across the finish line in 22:52:20.

Again there were many tears, 20 hours previously I was incredibly low and didn’t think I would finish, let alone break 24 and ultimately 23 hours. I am so proud of that determination to ride that wave of negativity, be able to adjust goals mid race and complete in a very respectable time. Onwards to the next 100…

 

I think my aim now is to complete Centurion Running’s series of four 100 mile races. I think I will aim for the North Downs Way 100 next year and Autumn 100 (based out of Goring) in 2020. As for this year I am hoping to pace a friend to a sub 1:30 half marathon and another friend to a sub 3:45 marathon. As well as this I am aiming to complete my first swim-run event in the Lake District, which will involve approximately 37km of running and 5km of swimming.

 

Thank you for reading.  If anyone would like to speak to me about my experiences, my training or ultra running then please feel free – I’ll do my best to make it down to more Wednesday track sessions and local races.

 

Conquering The Transvulcania 74Km Ultra

TVR 2018 Race Report –By Ashley Middlewick

Having recently watched some videos on YouTube of previous year’s editions of the race and reading the magazine I collected with my number. I knew it would be tough 74Km with 4350 metres of total elevation gain with another 4057 metres of descending with Rocky uneven terrain to contend with.

I caught the 3.30am bus with all the other runners from my where I was staying in to the start located in Fuencaliente. We arrived just over an hour before the 6.00am start. I stepped out of the bus into the dark windy environment.
After getting the toilet and bag drop out of the way I realized that I’d forgotten to fill up my Camelbak. There weren’t any taps or anyone handing out water. My solution: finding a couple of half-bottles of water that other runners had discarded and topping up with them. Then it was the short walk down to the start. It was cool seeing a few familiar pro faces at the front – Ida Nilsson (1st woman last year) and Zaid Eit Malek (3rd man last year). I waited at the side until a few minutes before 06.00 sneaking through the barrier near the front of the huge pack. There was music pumping and the announcer was getting everyone juiced for the off. I very nearly forgot to set my GPS watch in time (started the satellite search 2 minutes before the gun and luckily the satellites were located with about 30 seconds to spare).
The gun went and we made our way up past the lighthouse and along the road. Fireworks went off which personally I found a loud distraction more than anything. A bit further along we made our way from the wide road onto a narrow trail. It was a bit of a bottleneck and I was glad to be near the front away from the worst of the crowds. As the trail led upwards it was an awesome sight to look back down and see thousands of headaches snaking their way up. The first feed station was in the small town of Los Canarios where the main street was lined with locals cheering on the runners – a real treat so early on. The headtorch came off at the top of the street as daylight beaconed and made my way into the trees and where the real climbing begun. It was ridiculous – steep ascending up sandy/gritty/loose/dusty material made progress painfully slow and was both mentally and physically draining. Thankfully the weather was pretty ideal at this time – cool and sunny and the stunning views/surroundings really helped keep morale up.

After the initial pig of a climb I knew there would be a bit of descending before the push to Roque de Los Muchachos (the highest point of the course and the island). It wasn’t too long before reaching the end of the half marathon/start of the marathon course (the half was the first 21km of the Ultra course and the Marathon started here and finished 5km before the end of the Ultra). I passed the half marathon point in 2hours 3 minutes. After this there was a nice easy gently undulating mud/track which offered a chance for the legs to recover a little before the push to Roque. Near the start of the climb we went through a forested section – it was damp and cold in places with the dew blowing off the trees and wind-chill. I was glad I’d opted for my white long-sleeved Ellesse t-shirt (a TK Maxx special purchased a few weeks beforehand) as this along with my Bramley buff kept me warm. Fairly early on during the climb the leader of the marathon came flying past at some serious pace – he had a substantial lead at what must have been about 15km in. The next 30-45 minutes I felt good – I’d gone through 23.5 miles (over halfway) in 5hrs 15mins. My initial aim was to try and finish in under 11 hours, possibly even a sub-10 of things went well, so I was thinking it was potentially game on for the sub-10 with far more downhill than up remaining. As I climbed higher and the runners thinned out I utilized the opportunity to have a pee whilst running (a time-saving tactic used by Dean Karnazes in his Ultramarathon Man book). This went well with no hesitation and minimal spillage. The heat started to intensify and altitude kicked in above 2000m and things got very hard at the highest points.

The views were incredible and I could see Mount Teide/Tenerife above the clouds in the distance. Just when I thought I’d reached Roque there would be another little descent and another little climb. Eventually I saw the big white marquee marking the aid station at Roque and this couldn’t come soon enough. I’d gone through all three of my energy bars and was in urgent need of refueling. Entering the marquee there were several tables full of choice. I necked a few cups of water and must have had 5 or 6 chunks of watermelon to help rehydrate. Food wise I opted for a couple of cereal bars and raisins. Both hit the spot well and I took some raisins in my empty jelly-baby containers with me. After some iso drink, more watermelon, re-filling the Camelbak and getting water poured over my head I pushed on feeling significantly more refreshed.

The altitude and heat were still testing but I placed myself conservatively and felt good enough. A little way down the dusty Rocky track the heat really intensified and I pulled my rolled-up long sleeves back down to avoid burning. I was now descending at a not-much quicker than walking pace and was constantly having to move aside to let faster runners past. I kept drinking at least every 5 minutes. There were a few occasions when I stepped aside to pee but nothing came out. I knew this was now survival mode – go slowly, keep drinking, concentrate and make it down safely. There was an aid station maybe halfway down – again badly needed. I discovered after rummaging around/spreading cereal bars everywhere that they didn’t have any of the chocolate ones they had at the top so had to make do with apricot. So after a cereal bar, more raisins, iso drink, watermelon and water on the head I pushed on.

Thankfully it wasn’t too long until I came into familiar territory at Mirador El Time where I’d come to watch the Vertical Kilometer race on Thursday. At this point I was grateful to be back on concrete/tarmac for a bit albeit very steep downhill stuff. I had a quick glance at the watch (I was just over 10 hours in with 12-13km to go) and thought any chance of a sub-11 had gone with a tough descent and final climb still to come. However things weren’t as bad as I was fearing with a decent distance covered with tarmac followed by the final track down to the beach in Tazacorte being solid (no loose Rocky crap) which made it mostly slowly runnable. I made it down to Tazacorte with 10hrs 25mins on the clock with only the final 5km climb to go – the game for the sub-11 was well and truly back on. I didn’t stop at the water station grabbing some a bottle of Gatorade and cup of water as I ran. The route went down onto the beach briefly which I wasn’t expecting before looping under the road and following a dried-up river upstream. This was pretty tough but I was in the zone and it felt great to be overtaking runners rather than being the one overtaken.

After the dry river the course went up some very steep cobbly tracks/tarmac and knew I’d have to keep the intensity up to get in under 11. My Camelbak had now run dry and I was thankful for the bottle of water that I hadn’t yet touched on my running belt. This came into play in the last 2km and poured some over my head as well as drinking some. Finally the hills stopped and it was a long straight road about 1km long to the finish and I could see the finish arches in the distance. Another glance at the watch: 10 hours 54 minutes – this should be in the bag. I ran this last stretch with a big smile on my face high-fiving the locals cheering me on. I had to keep a decent pace going and there was a slight doubt towards the very end causing a relative sprint. Then the clock came into view and I knew I’d done it. A few last high-fives before crossing the line in Just over 10 hours 59 minutes. Job done 🙂 .

I’d give Transvulcania a solid 8/10 rating. The support, scenery and aid stations were all superb and were generally well organized. Good choice of help-yourself food at the end too which I took full advantage of. Good free buses too. They could have improved the signage in a few places – generally I was OK as was just following the person ahead but there were a couple of uncertain moments when I was in my own. Also there was a lack of toilets at the end and those few that were there lacked paper causing me to have to sneak into a restaurant. The medal was nice but lacked the year and distance on it.

Overall not as good as The Maraton del Meridiano in my personal opinion, but superb none the less. Definitely one off the Ultra bucket list!!!