Please visit our Bramley page for more details and to enter.
Snowdonia Trail Marathon – Sunday 15th July– Report by Caroline Hargreaves
The Marathon started at 9am and after a brief run through the village centre we hit the first ascent which goes on for about 3.5 miles and it a brutal way to start the race. After finally reaching the top there is a brief downhill until you reach a turnstile, which is the only way to cross over one of the farmers land and because of that there was quite a que of people getting across. Once across the turnstile you can finally stretch your legs and get some downhill running, crossing over grass and bogs and you get to see some stunning views of the countryside. Not for long though as not far around the corner was a slate hill where you had to climb over a huge pile of slate. After that climb we were running on flat land until the check point at 6 miles. Once through the check point and realising how long it had taken to complete the first few miles myself, Pete Morris and Suzanne Bates knew that we needed to get going if we were going to make the checkpoint at 2:15, which we were told was at 18.8 miles at Pen y Pass. The next 10 miles were undulating with plenty of turnstiles to climb over, hills to go up and down, stone tracks, gravel paths and thin trails to run through including running around a beautiful lake at mile 13.
At 17 miles we had 35 minutes till cut off and felt that this was enough time to get there on time, however I was not expecting that the next few miles were going to be so brutal! Incredibly steep hill that just seemed to go on and on and on and at 2.15 I was at 19 miles and the cut off was no-where in sight, feeling incredibly deflated I thought I had missed the cut off but just had to keep on going as I was determined to complete the race. I finally reached the check point at 2:28 and was happy to know that the cut off time had been extended until 3pm and so I was all good to carry on. Pete Morris was already there waiting and Suzanne came in just after and we were told we were ok to go and we were the last people to leave to climb Snowdon. All runners after us were told they could not continue.
Now the hard work started, the first part of the climb is large rock boulders that you can step up, once at the top we went around the side of the mountain and had 3 tough miles to the top. The inclines just kept on coming and coming and at some points you had to physically climb on your hands and knees to get up. Finally, we reached the top, absolutely shattered all I had in my head is that I needed to finish and I needed to finish as so as I could and so from somewhere I managed to get the energy to run all the way to the finish, physically my body was absolutely broken but mentally I knew I was going to finish and so I put my big girls pants on and just ran. I finished in 9:22:13.
The Ultra has 7000ft of climbing over 60km and this was the first year that the event has held an Ultra distance. The race was won by Reading Roadrunner Rob Corney in a fantastic time of 5:56:05 The Ultra was also ran by Peter Higgs who is now the only person that has ran all 4 distances at this event and he came in at 12:12:58. In total there were only 151 entrants and 15 of them DNF which shows just how tough the course is.
The half marathon takes a different route up to the top that doesn’t involve climbing, however is still the toughest half marathon that I have ever completed and was taken on this year by numerous Roadrunners. Clive Bates, Chloe Lloyd, Amanda Rosser, Tina Woffington, Sarah Richmond-Devoy, Veronika Royle, Andy Dingle, Nicola Gillard, Kathy Tyler, Helen Grieves, Linda Wright, Hannah McPhee, Sarah Drew and Gill Manton. And Chris Manton tackled the 10k.
If I could sum this race up in one word it would be BRUTAL!! However, it was one of the most stunning courses I have ever done and is both mentally and physically challenging. If you are looking for a challenge I would recommend this race. Just make sure you enter nice and early and book your accommodation as both sell out incredibly quickly.
Report by Fiona Ross
As the SCVAC Track & Field League 2018 draws to a close, it is not just the high jumpers who reached greater heights!
GEMMA BULEY was the big winner at the eighth round of the Reading Roadrunners’ club championship, the Wycombe 10k.
Gemma was first lady home at Adams Park and led our girls to take the team prize.
In doing so she moved up to 199 points and pretty much sewed up this year’s senior ladies title.
Melanie Shaw, fourth lady overall, and Sally Carpenter helped Roadrunners clinch the four-to-score team award.
Paloma Crayford rounded off a day of success as the first F50 finisher.
Also among the age group winners was Alan Freer, who didn’t let a heavy fall stop him from collecting the M60 prize.
“It was a real pleasure to chase Alan round the course,” said Gemma, “although he gave me a fright when he fell over about 7k in. He was incredible descending on those hills and he jumped straight up, completing the course with blood trickling down his face and knees.
“I’m in absolute awe of him. He gave me a good run all the way round.”
Alan said: “I was only on the ground for about five seconds.” At the finish he still had well over three minutes in hand over his main F60 opposition, Marlow Striders captain Mike Thompson.
Alan had already made sure of the F60 championship but was still chasing points in the ‘all racers positioned by age grade’ title race.
Gemma was quick to praise her team-mates’ achievements. “I was so pleased for Mel Shaw contributing to winning the team prize as she says she never wins anything. She did so well in the heat.
“Katherine carried her water round, offering it to me out on the course. Such lovely team spirit as always in the Roadrunners.”
Gemma was also on hand to accept the second-place team prize for Roadrunners’ men as our four stars had already left the Wycombe Wanderers ground.
The successful foursome was Andrew Smith, Tom Peirson-Smith, Paul Kerr and, first home in his debut event in our colours, James Rennie.
Sixteen-year-old James was sixth to finish overall in a time of 42:14. Bearing in mind that almost everyone was about five minutes over par over a challenging trails course on a stinking hot day, that shows he is proving a very useful recruit.
Andrew Smith’s performance took him to 200 points and the guarantee of at least a share of the men’s V40 title.
Ninth overall, his team prize followed key roles in both the club’s recent relay triumphs on the Ridgeway and at Runnymede.
There are also new leaders in the M50 (David Fiddes) and M65 (Andy Atkinson) title races, as well as at senior level (Chris Buley).
“Rob Corney is running against me at the Englefield 10k,” he said. Good luck with that, Chris!
Englefield is on August 26th but the next round of the championship is the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon on August 12th.
That event is listed as a ‘road’ race…. but then so was the Wycombe 10k! Someone misinformed our excellent championship organiser….
*Our main picture shows Mel Shaw, Katherine Sergeant and Gemma Buley bookended by race officials.
*Standings after round eight are on the club championship page.
Race Report: Darren Lewis.
Following a thoroughly enjoyable race in Reading with a speedy team, a post on the busy Endure24 Chat Facebook caught my eye. A team from the Midlands were short of runners and appealing for somebody to stop in and give them confidence to take part. I wasn’t fully-recovered from six hard laps (yes solo runners only 6) at Wasing Park, but thought: Why not? Meet some new people, feel good about helping out, no pressure and a stack more miles in the legs.
On arrival at a sweltering Bramham Park I found the Midland Deaf Team. They’d already setup a caravan and a few tents set up in the motorhome area. This was a result as I was able to park my car in our camp for the duration. Even better – pasta was cooking and my new pals insisted I scoff a few platefuls. Carbs consumed, we promptly found the bar and chatted more about the Midlands than race tactics. They all live near Rugby and, hailing from Coventry, I used to play rugby against Old Laurents RFC where a few of them are active members. It is a small world. There were hearing folk among their party that were able to translate my drivel. We got on like a house of fire – so much so we’ve entered Leeds 2019 together. They are also coming to Reading for the first time next year.
For those that dont know Endure 24 is billed as Glastonbury for runners with camping, music and food. You can run or walk it as a team, a pair or solo and you have 24 hours to complete as many laps of the five mile trail as you can or want to. There are marshals every couple of kms and a fuel station half way round the lap. Encouraging signs point the way and fairy lights adorn trees, buildings and the odd marshal. There’s amazing support, slick organisation and a festival-like event village with thumping dj tunes, food, trade stands, music, showers and a massage tent.
The Leeds course
The Bramham course felt marginally faster than Reading with nothing like Heartbreak Hill to zap the legs. The chalky tracks were looser underfoot creating far more dust and reflecting so much light that sunglasses were essential. It was, in my opinion, mentally harder. With less distinct chunks than Reading and it felt more relentless.
The loop starts with largely downhill first kilometre along a tree-lined track and under the first ENDURE24 banner. This is followed by a drag uphill (similar to first km at Reading) through woods before flattening out past the Temple of the Lead Lads, which is adorned with fairy lights overnight. Then there’s an open section leading downhill to Temptation Corner, where the SKAbus was parked and Cliff and Mark Saunders from Roadrunners danced around to Madness for the whole event while handing out shots of energy drink. Up a rise to the first gazebo where marshals in hula skirts danced urging runners on towards The Deep, Dark Wood – the only cool area and a short but welcome break from the dusty gravel. Slight downhill to Shambles Café, a water station offering Clif Shot Blocks marked half way. The fastest descent follows before a sharp little incline to the next marshal point in a copse. Back into the open and onto Festival Field. Then a long stretch that was the hottest part of the course. Round a bend then another descent past another giant ENDURE sign, up an incline onto another tree lined path. From there the start/finish is in sight, under a Mizuno banner and past a giant inflatable trainer before a dip and rise to the end of the lap.
After the kind of night’s sleep that’s normal on cider and a roll mat, the scorching weather saw us up early and deciding on our race plan. The team decided to set me off first with no real idea how many laps we’d each complete.
In the race village I found a few more green vests. Rachel Derry and John Saunders were both running solo. I promised to run with them during the night. Sorry guys. Next time I’ll take a pen, note phone numbers and discover where tents are before it gets dark. The start was like a big city marathon with a Mizuno gantry and chip timers. For a wally like me that means adrenaline overdrive. True to form, I nudged my way to the front and set off far faster than sensible as the crowds hollered and music blasted out. There’s something about chasing a lead car that does funny things to a deluded forty-something – even on one of the hottest weekend of the year! The exact same 3:30 km I kicked-off with at Reading. Way, way too fast, but plenty of coverage for the green vest on the Endure start videos. A solid first lap coming in about 10th.
Back to the tents for banter and rest, then two laps back-to-back. Our predicted first lap times had been fairly accurate. I was running laps in around half of some of the others. Folk were wanting to stay out of the sun and they were keen to ensure I got a decent number of laps in/similar time on the course. A couple laps overnight (one of these after text as I into not my sleeping bag asking if I’d be happy go again as others were falling apart), saw my fastest runs as the temperature had dropped and breathing was easier. The Leeds course was far more predictable underfoot, so easier to hammer it wearing a head torch.
My final loop was around 11am before we joined arms for the celebratory team run through the finish.
Another 30 miles solid running under my belt, off precious little training, a huge amount of fun, new friends and signed-up of both Endures next year.
For comparison my lap times were as follows (in both cases saving just enough breath to mutter encouragement to pretty much everyone on every lap):
Leeds: 33:09, 33:13, 34:38, 32:37, 34:18, 34:23
Reading: 32:39, 32:49, 33:26, 35:10, 33:25, 34:43
Runnymede Relays – Saturday 7th July 2018 – by Sam Whalley
Despite an unforeseen clash with an England world cup football game
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.
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.
ROADRUNNERS coach Katie Gumbrell is about to make a comeback following a summer sabbatical. Here she explains the reasons for her absence…
“It doesn’t matter that I was asked me to write this by our resident hack, David Dibben, or that it’s taken 16 re-writes to get it done, this is massively self-indulgent.
“I’ve had a little bit of a break from coaching. Contrary to the rumours (largely self-manufactured), this has not been to assist Gareth Southgate at the World Cup, pregnancy, nor a run-in with the law. Truth is, I have three jobs, a family, hobbies other than running and sometimes those things get in the way (life is rarely about time, just priorities).
“I was asked to support a new coach, Vroni Royle, for a few weeks, as she aimed to gain her Coach in Running Fitness qualification. This coincided with a couple of Wednesdays of work interference, some volunteering elsewhere and a family crisis or two for good measure. Oh, and an assignment for my MA in Mindfulness in Education and a gym instructor qualification.
“It became rather more straightforward to have a break from coaching for Reading Roadrunners, rather than leave session plans for someone else to deliver.
“While supporting another coach was great development for me, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to offer the best coaching to my athletes at the same time. Since planning for other people takes significantly longer than planning for oneself, I just didn’t have the capacity to do both.
“I also took the opportunity to have a think about what volunteering as a coach means to me. While I’m a relatively new and inexperienced coach, I’ve been a teacher for over 10 years and the two roles aren’t entirely dissimilar.
“For me, that means carrying my professional integrity into my volunteering role, which means being the best I can be on any given day.
“In coaching terms, it’s about knowing my athletes and their goals, and planning sessions around them. That’s fine, since most of the Roadrunners athletes are distance runners and, regardless of the overall distance of the long-term goal (10k, marathon, whatever), a Wednesday night session should suit all athletes.
“Runners can then plan in the training they will need to specify for their event around the Wednesday night. I have done this planning for many runners and they’ve had some great successes.
“My thinking culminated in a decision to restart my coaching group. In order to avoid being accused of poaching athletes, which would be a contravention of the Code of Conduct from UK Athletics, I sought advice from Simon Davis, the club’s Coaching Co-ordinator, about how best to let people know that I was going to be available again. Simon suggested I go via the club committee, which I duly did.
“So, I am going to resume a coaching group on 25th July, once term’s ended and at least some things have calmed down a bit. The group will be aiming to have a good time while training hard, whether the overall goal is to get faster, run for longer, find a lost mojo, regain fitness, pootle about, whatever!
“Everyone will be welcome; no one will be obliged.”
*Coach Katie is pictured in her natural habitat, at her favourite watering hole.
Our annual Mortimer 10km will take place on Sunday 30th September 2018 in conjunction with an 8km charity walk and a 3km junior race.
Please check our main Mortimer page here for further details.
ROADRUNNER Loretta Briggs has enjoyed an amazing marathon success… on a THURSDAY!
At the Dorney Lake Marathon, Loretta…
*SMASHED the ladies’ course record by four minutes…
*IMPOROVED her personal best at the distance by a whopping 12 minutes and..
*GRABBED a Good For Age qualification for next year’s London Marathon.
The Dorney Lake race is organised by a company called Running Miles, who specialise in staging low-key events, mainly in midweek, in Berks, Bucks and West London.
“It wasn’t easy to find,” said Loretta. “I did some online digging for marathons before the August cut-off for London GFA entry.
“That’s not easy as most of them are in the spring, or in July when it’s too hot.
“For my Milton Keynes marathon in May it was 29C so things didn’t exactly go to plan and I ran 3:49. But I knew I had more in me this year.
“The Dorney race was so dull, though. It was ten out-and-backs along the lake… not even round it, just up and down, up and down…
“Also, I was first lady and broke the women’s course record by four minutes, in an albeit small, and slightly bonkers, field.
“Anyone who turns out on a Thursday to run ten out-and-backs over a marathon distance must be bonkers, including me. Definitely running nerd territory. But a win is a win.”
Loretta came home 13th overall in a field of 66 and said: “There were a few obsessives there on the day… 100 Clubbers etc!”
Despite her success she said: “I’m not sure I really enjoy running marathons at all. Past 20 miles is not fun for me. But I’d be very glad to have another pop at London.”
Six-year-old youngest son Tommy made his debut at Reading parkrun alongside his dad and came home in 28 minutes. “He loved it,” said a proud mum.
- Loretta and Seb are pictured above with sons Louis and Tommy and their niece.
- Right: Tommy (left) collecting his award for being the first six-year-old finisher at the Green Park Mile