Traffic can’t hold up the Corney record machine

ROB CORNEY completed part two of his grand scheme to rewrite the Reading Roadrunners’ record books when he won the Marlow 5 in 25 minutes and 42 seconds.

That was despite being, quite literally, held up in traffic during the race.

Rob lost time when the pace car pulled up in front of him to avoid back-markers running on the wrong side of the road at a point where the course revisits a street used at both one and four miles.

“I had to slow down,” he said. “It definitely cost me a few seconds.”

Nevertheless his time in the fourth round of this year’s club championship improved the previous best set by Mark Worringham at Headington two years ago by 21 seconds.

Then Corney revealed that his achievement in his first competitive race at the distance was the second time he had broken the old mark in a week.

“I was through five miles in pretty much the same time during the Shinfield 10k on Monday,” he said.

It was Rob’s second club record of the year, he having lowered the long-standing half marathon mark to 1:09.20 with his second-place finish behind Scott Overall at Wokingham.

His next target will be the club’s 23-year-old 10k record of 31:38, set by the Ethiopian Zak Tsegay, when he races the prestige Vitality London event on May 28th.

And once again he is ahead of the game, having been inside that time when he went through 10k during the Maidenhead Easter 10 miles event.

But Corney was only one of seven Roadrunners to mount the podium at Marlow, with our ladies squad of Gemma Buley, Katherine Sargeant, Helen Pool and Julie Rainbow having captured the team prize, all four of them running personal bests.

There were also individual prizes for second-claimer Ben Paviour (MV40) as well as Ed Dodwell (MV60), who was claiming his fourth such award in the space of a remarkable 15 days.

Gemma Buley was our first lady home, and fourth overall, in a time of 32:07, a PB with more than six minutes to spare. She had celebrated her 26th birthday six days earlier with a two-minute PB in the Shinfield 10k.

Katherine captured the FV40 age category prize to follow up her excellent time of 3hr 14mins in dreadful conditions at the Boston Marathon.

Helen also made a second trip to the podium with runners-up prize in the FV40 group, having shaved seven seconds off her PB.

And Julie made it a clean sweep of PB’s among our successful girls, coming in as fourth scorer to clinch the award.

Roadrunners were controversially denied a team prize double when the race organisers decided that Paviour was deemed to have entered to represent his first-claim club, Herne Hill Harriers.

Ben was wearing our green vest and finished fifth overall in 27:10. With Corney’s first place, Stephen Ridley in eighth and Ben Whalley 22nd, that should have left us clear winners. 

But the organisers were having none of it and our next finisher, Pete Jewell, despite PB’ing in 42nd position couldn’t quite get us across the line.

Pete had plenty of consolations… a county championship silver medal, all 50 points in his club championship group as well as 50 more in the prestigious age-grading section (pipping even Corney), and a first PB for five years.

He was one of no fewer than 13 Roadrunners who picked up Berkshire championship gongs in the final event of the county’s road-running programme.

Gold for Corney, of course, in the senior men, and a bronze for Ridley; silver for Ben Whalley in the 40-49 group; silver for Jewell and bronze for Alex Harris in the 50-59 section and a clean sweep in the 60+ category, where there was gold for Alan Freer, silver for myself and bronze for Andy Atkinson.

The ladies among the bling were Gemma, with a senior silver, Helen Pool with a 35-44 silver, Sam Whalley with a 45-54 bronze, while in the 55+ group coach Lesley Whiley took silver and Susan Knight bronze.

All that success led to nine more medals, including two golds, in the county’s overall awards for their four events at Wokingham, Maidenhead, Woodley and Marlow.

Alan Freer emulated Corney by finishing with a perfect record of four golds, so they will both have a fifth gold to help them celebrate.

There will be silver for Alex Harris (V50) and Andy Atkinson (V60), plus a bronze for myself.

Among the ladies there will be more silvers for Gemma and Helen Pool and bronze medals for a couple of new names enjoying county success, Helen Dixon (seniors) and Paloma Crayford (FV45).

Some of those girls were also able to celebrate taking full points in there club championship… Gemma (senior), Helen Pool (V35), Katherine Sargeant (V45), Lesley Whiley (V55), Heather Bowley (V65) and Cecilia Csemiczky (V70).

The men who picked up the full complement of points were Corney (senior), Ben Whalley (V40), Pete Jewell (V50), Alan Freer (V60), David Dibben (V65) and Jim Kiddie (V70).

Those not already given a mention should go to the head of the long list of those who claimed a PB… Tracey Hicks, Vince Williams, Adele Graham, Hilary and Peter Rennie, Stewart Wing, Helen Dixon, Susan Knight, Paloma Crayford, Sam Whalley, Katherine Sargeant, Julie Rainbow, Fergal Donnelly and Pete Jewell should take a bow ahead of the usual suspects, Gemma Buley, Helen Pool, Stephen Ridley and Rob Corney.

The club championship roadshow quickly moved on to the second of its three 10-mile events, this time at Hook. 

Whether or not next year’s championship includes the Marlow 5, I would strongly advise anyone who has not already done so to give this race a try.

It’s my idea of a value-for-money event, being comparatively cheap to enter, well organised with generous vouchers for prize-winners from Runners’ Retreat, a quality T-shirt for finishers as well as a bag full of goodies and results published almost as soon as you cross the line after a race which provides a great chance of a personal best. 

Respect to the Handy Cross club for their organisation!

Pictures by Fiona Ross and Matt Fowler

Full results at can be found here

Naturist Foundation 5k 2018

The Naturist Foundation where bare is beautiful- By Peter Higgs

Over the weekend I completed a 5k for the club Charity, why would anyone sponsor me to run a 5k, well because this was no ordinary 5k, this was being organised by the Naturist foundation & the race required the runners to be as nature intended, yep au natural, in the buff & I don’t mean Multi-functional head wear.

As the day approached I began to get a bit nervous, I wouldn’t know any of the others runners, I had no support crew going with me & Sheryl advised me that she had overtime at work on Sunday morning, I wonder who she bribed to get that!!.  But at least I wouldn’t need to worry about what kit I was going to wear.

Sunday morning arrived and with trepidation I set off for Kent, the SAT NAV sent me down a long winding county lane.

I approached the gates of Brockenhurst where I was greeted by two fully clothed men in high vis who asked me if I was here for the race and then checked my name off the list and directed me to the visitors car park where a portly man wearing a striped dressing gown open at the front greeted me. OMG he was naked! Suddenly it was all real. I would have to get my kit off as well, but not yet, later, yes later, 2 mins before the race, that would be fine.

Strolling across the car park I saw a guy I knew as a parkrun Tourist, oh god he was naked! & so was his mate. Do I turn & run or casually say hello? So I casually said hello & we got chatting. Seems he was a regular & had done it for the last 5 years. Walking up to reception fully clothed I started to feel out of place as most of the other people were baring all, well what did I expect, I waited in line to complete the registration process & the lady at the desk thankfully had clothes on, but no one else did & the café & sun room was full of naturists all smiling & chatting,” pop over there & see the girls they will write a number on you” I was informed , so I headed over to the number desk, where yes you have guessed it  two naked ladies were perched on the edge of a table writing numbers on runners chests & arms with a red lipstick, removing my top I suddenly felt very overdressed I was the odd one out, I still had trousers on.  A little voice in my head said come on Higgsy its time to man up, so I walked over to the locker room , disrobed & headed out into the sunshine, I still had a good half hour to go before the race started,  to say I was nervous was an understatement, I mean where do you look when there’s a whole load of people on a grassy knoll in front of you and their err tackle is at eye level?

“Any first timers that wants a walk round to familiarise themselves with the course please meet up by the pool” one of the helpers announced & I decided that was the best thing to do, so off went to check out the course which turned out to be quite undulating & through the camp site and a lovely bluebell wood.

We got back and it was time for the race.

After a quick safety briefing, the whistle was blown and we were off. It actually felt good as I passed a few people and exchanged hellos and great day for it etc. The weather was perfect for running and I was enjoying the wind whistling through my hair!

By the second lap I was passing people and really enjoying the run, I had completely forgotten that I and everyone else was naked, until I approached a runner who had shorts on and looked completely out of place. How strange is that?

One more lap to go, this was great but actually quite a tough course. Then three laps were done into the finish with a time of 27.08. Not a PB but who cares as I loved the race. At the finish line I started chatting with runners who had already finished and soon discovered that a number of them where parkrunners from the London area as one guy was a Datchet dasher and another was from Woodley parkrun. We all stood around chatting and clapping in the other runners, including a group of ladies who were walk/running and having great laugh.

So I was standing around with 140 odd other naked runners and it felt great, uninhibited plus I felt really relaxed.

After a Burger & coffee it was time for the presentation of trophies & certificates where each person was called up and duly had their photo taken with the organiser / owner of the camp. I then returned to my car, put my clothes back on which felt strange. I then headed home.

There’s another Naturist 5k in Sept and I will be signing up, but this time definitely won’t be as nervous, as getting your kit off & running with other like-minded people is actually really fun.

Thanks to everyone who donated. Over £300 to the club charity is great

SCVAC Track & Field

SCVAC Track & Field League Starts with a Bang! – Fiona Ross

‘On your marks, get set……..’ and with the gun shot echoing round Horspath Stadium, Oxford, on 30 April 2018, the Vet 35A men stormed down the 100m track, including Reading Roadrunner David Ferris, in an impressive opening event!  David Fiddes and Nigel Hoult followed close on his heels, each giving a very strong performance in the Vet 50 100m and Vet 60 100m respectively.  They did not stop there, David Fiddes also gave a sterling performance in the Vet 50 3000 steeplechase as did David Ferris, together with Ian Giggs, in the Vet 35 400m events.  Simon Denton then beat Reading AC at their own game in the Vet 50 400m event!

When talking about the events in which he participated, Nigel highlighted what many Roadrunners feel, i.e. sprinting is “something most of us don’t do in competition”.  However, the atmosphere at the SCVAC Track & Field is fun and friendly.  Indeed, Nigel recounted that there was “a bit of humour when the starting pistol didn’t go off for one of the races!”  Furthermore, there is a sense of achievement in competing against clubs who focus more on athletics than road-running.  Nigel was rightly pleased which his 100m time of 17.8 seconds, and that he scored 4 points for the club. Furthermore, although Nigel had little time to prepare for his 400m race, because he had been co-ordinating our team and watching the steeplechase, his time was nevertheless impressive!

When it came to the 1500m events, Reading Roadrunners certainly came into their own.  Ian Giggs was a strong contender and Mark Worringham and Pete Jewell were second in the Vet 35 and Vet 50 age categories respectively. Fergal Donnelly flew round the track in just 5 minutes flat! As a non-scorer, he ran with the Vet 50 runners and said modestly afterwards, “I learned how to finally win a race – run in an older age category!”  However, I am sure Fergal would have given our competitors in the younger age category a run for their money!

The Reading Roadrunner ladies team also gave it their all.  Our very own ladies’ captain, Sam Whalley, certainly did. “I am by no means a sprinter”, she told me, “but as ladies’ captain, I feel I should set an example and participate. I was pretty confident I would come last in my 100m and 400m races. Nevertheless, I was cheered on by members of our club and others, and the other competitors, who I assume had excelled at sprinting in their younger years, all said ‘well done’ when I had finished. Once I saw the results, I was delighted to see that I had come within a second of my PB at both distances. With it being the first meet of the league, I can even claim them as season’s bests!”

Like Sam, I was really pleased with my 100m and 400m achievements too, especially since this was my first ever track & field event, but I agree with her that the team spirit of the Reading Roadrunners and our competitors (shown in the individual and relay races) makes these events even more enjoyable!  I would like to thank Sam and Roger Pritchard for encouraging me to take part, Tony Canning for the coaching for the sprint events and for his patience (I did not even have the spikes screwed into my sprinting shoes when I first started training!) and Glynne Jones for his advice.  With   their support and that of Nigel and our team, I had the courage to take part and enjoyed it!

Adele Graham was just half a second behind her Reading AC competitor in the Vet 50 100m race and Tracey Lasan finished ahead of her Reading AC competitor in the Vet 60 100m and ahead of Oxford in the Vet 50 400m race!  Helen Pool and Claire Seymour did us proud in the Vet 35 1500m race too.  The Reading Roadrunners have talent, even when not roadrunning!

Furthermore, it was not just on the track that Reading Roadrunners showed their prowess!  Ian showed his long-jump skills and Andy Atkinson and Simon Denton skilfully ‘put shots’ or ‘threw the hammer’, scoring points for the Reading Roadrunner team! These achievements were all the more impressive, since these are not events in which Reading Roadrunners normally participate at all.  Indeed, Andy recounted his experiences:

“Not since 1966 had I tried to put the shot.  Some of the other competitors seemed to be capable of throwing (not the right word as you will see) the shot a remarkably long way! I stepped up in the ring, after sagging under the weight of the shot, and took Glynne’s advice not to stand back, twirl or stagger. I grunted and hefted and the shot hit the sand at what appeared to be not far beyond my toes, but actually was 5 metres in! “No put!” was the referee’s response. Apparently, I had let the shot part from my cheek on launch and had effectively “thrown” it, which is not allowed. On the second round I did the same – about 5 metres in, but a “no put”. There were audible sighs of relief, when it was deemed on the third round that the put was good and the 5 or so metres stood.

The hammer is a heavy ball of iron on the end of a steel string! The first time I forgot to swing the ball over my head and went straight into the rotation, got dizzy and threw the hammer beyond the left side boundary – “no throw”. The second time, I remembered the swing, limited the rotation to one turn, but in my elation at getting the hammer beyond the tarmac area, stepped out of the magic circle – foul! The third throw, at 11 metres, was good and the fourth at 11.5 metres, better. I was delighted even though some competitors had put the shot further than my hammer throw! I got two points this time.”

Andy recommends that these events are something worth trying and can be done by anyone with minimal training.  He feels it does require some practice to gain technique, but strength and balance rather than speed are key to success. A discipline different from just running and well worth a go!

Adele Graham took third position in the Vet 50 Hammer event for the ladies and represented us in the Vet 50 long-jump too and javelin events too!  Helen Grieves and Liz Atkinson, following her superb performance in the London Marathon, also scored well earned points for the Reading Roadrunner ladies in the Vet 35 and Vet 60 Javelin events!

 

The SCVAC Track & Field League Starts has certainly started with a bang!

The Reading Roadrunners team would be top of the leader board, if points were also scored for team spirit and we went home with something as important as any award, a great sense of achievement!

On behalf of us all, a big thank you to Nigel Hoult for organising the Reading Roadrunner team, to Tony Canning and Glynne Jones for the coaching sessions provided for these events and to Sam Whalley and all those involved.  Fergal Donnelly spoke for us all when he said it was “a great evening, expertly organised by Nigel & team”.

We would like to encourage other Reading Roadrunners to take part in this Track and Field League because it is a great opportunity to try something new, support your fellow Reading Roadrunners, get to know other club members, who were friendly and supportive, and an opportunity to have some fun! Sam Whalley recommends “if you are 35 or over, and haven’t yet given these events a go, be brave, and try it!”

The next fixtures are on 14 May, 4 June and 2 July 2018.  Nigel Hoult has published the details. Come and join us!

Richards defies the brutal one-day London heatwave

 

MATTHEW RICHARDS was the Reading Roadrunners star on a blisteringly hot day at the Virgin London Marathon.

Richards was the first Roadrunner home in the sensational time of two hours 32 minutes and 39 seconds.

His red-hot performance matched the temperature in the capital as he ran a new personal best time, eclipsing even the brilliant time produced by Mark Worringham at Brighton a week previously.

The club’s 20-miles record holder (left) showed he could add another storming 10k to that distance, running a personal best and a negative split to finish 45th overall.

Apart from Richards, a lot of his club colleagues wilted in the heat and there was general disappointment that what people had trained for so hard for so long was simply impossible on the warmest-ever day in the history of the race.

A lot of victims of the 24-hour heatwave felt like losers afterwards, but the winners could turn out to be the organisers of the Abingdon Marathon. Roadrunners are already queuing to sign up for the Oxfordshire event on October 21st, determined to use their training in more favourable conditions.

Back at Greenwich, the options were simply to scale back on one’s ambitions… or pay the price!

There were personal bests on the day for Liz Atkinson, Sarah Richmond-De’voy and, of course, the Queen of Improvements Gemma Buley (3:33.37, pictured right), but the real Roadrunners stars were right at the back of the field, where Hannah McPhee and Jenny Gale took over seven and a half hours to complete their brave, roasting journey.

Our athletes set off boosted by a string of helpful tips from club marathon record holder Keith Russell, who must have known his figures weren’t going to be threatened in such conditions.

Most people’s experience was summed up in a nutshell by Steve Ridley: “I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be able to hit a PB, so started backing off. Wheels came off properly from miles 14-18…”

Another of the club’s elite runners, Seb Briggs, who had been the first Roadrunner to finish in 2017, said: “Absolutely astounding from Matthew Richards, who managed an incredible time and placement. Brilliant work.

“The Roadrunners at Mile 23 were fantastic again and it’s difficult to overstate how much of a boost they give you at what is probably the hardest part of the 26.2.”

Briggs (below) admitted that his time of 2:42.14 was way off what he envisaged when he started training for the event back in December. “But it was more than acceptable considering the heat,” he said.

“My time was put into perspective by the fact that I finished in the top 200. I started the race with a target time for 2:35 but with the energy-sapping heat and my right leg starting to cramp up I had to readjust my target and enjoy the experience.

“I had the pleasure of running alongside the impressive Brendan Morris for the majority of the way. Approaching 30k he told me he didn’t think he could sustain his pace before speeding off while I chugged along, seeing him go further and further into the distance. Cheers for that!”

Brendan, the hero of a ‘secret’ half-marathon victory in the capital a month before, said: “I tried to reserve some energy to pick up the pace in the final 10k but when I put the hammer down I simply couldn’t get my legs to go any quicker.

“The last few miles seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t look up at the scaffolded Big Ben as it seemed a hell of a long way away and not getting any closer.

“I knew the PB was not a possibility from five miles out but I was still happy with my time (2:41.48) taking into account the conditions on the day.

“It was clear a lot of people were struggling in the heat. I was hoping for a top-250 finish, so finding out I had come in at 183rd confirmed it was a run I should be happy with.”

Another runner to take a realistic view of the conditions was Alex Harris, who said: “It was one of those days when you just had to focus on survival and getting round safely. Pretty much everyone was way off their target time.”

That didn’t stop Alex, recently new to the V50 age category, from coming within nine seconds of a personal best with a time of 2:56.58.

“I didn’t look at my time until there was 600 metres to go and by then it was too late,” he said.

“I was totally cooked after eight miles and I couldn’t see how I could finish, so I stopped looking at pace/splits and just focused on getting round.

“Anyway I was really happy with my time as the conditions were brutal.”

Those conditions caused a scare for Sarah Dooley, who collapsed at the finished and was wheeled off to the medical tent without being able to collect her medal and goody bag.

“The race was a bit of a disaster for me,” she said. “I had to make two toilet stops due to stomach cramps, then I had trouble breathing in the last few hundred metres and couldn’t breathe when I crossed the line.”

Sarah still managed to complete the course in a highly creditable 3:39.10.

Another runner to make several toilet stops was my training partner Joe Blair, but that was because he was sensibly taking on board plenty of water.

Joe, doing the Brighton-London double on consecutive weekends due to charity commitments, said: “I decided to follow collective advice and start slowly. That paid huge dividends.

“I took on water every mile, mainly to douse my hat, wrists and neck. But the heat really drains you and in truth I still had a bit of Brighton in my legs.

“I finished comparatively strongly and it was only when I finished that I allowed myself to accept the achievement of two marathons in eight days. So far I’ve raised over £2,400 for my charity, Marie Curie.

“The heat took quite a few casualties and I’m just grateful that I made it round.”

One of those casualties occurred near the Roadrunners marshalling at Mile 23. There Chris Manton had to carry a fallen runner off the course to the medical facilities.

Another runner upset by the heat was our own Melanie Shaw, disappointed not to be in a position to challenge for a PB after a year out with an injury deferral.

“I was totally wiped out by the heat,” she said. “You’ve no idea how hard it was out there today.”

Back out on the course, Hannah (right) and Jenny, the bravest of the brave, were still battling and it was almost 6.20pm when they finally made it to the Mall.

Roadrunners’ ladies captain Sam Whalley paid this tribute to her girls: “Huge kudos to Hannah and Jenny; I can’t imagine what it must have taken to keep going in those conditions.

“It took me back to the disaster that was Brighton 2017, where the high temperatures had me reduced to an alternating walk/shuffle for the second half of the race.

“Anyone who ran yesterday should be really proud of themselves for getting round. Look what the heat did to that marathon great, Mary Keitany. It was an exceptional day.”

The Roadrunners’ spirit was summed up by Seb Briggs when he said: “Looking forward to next year already.”

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)
This is invisible text

Trips Planned For 2019

Oct
27
Sun
all-day Dublin Marathon Weekend
Dublin Marathon Weekend
Oct 27 all-day
Dublin Marathon Weekend @ Dublin | County Dublin | Ireland
About 15 Roadrunners will be going to Dublin and running this marathon. Entries showing closed but places will be released again on 1st July. See Alice Carpenter if interested.
Dec
15
Sun
all-day Malaga Marathon Weekend
Malaga Marathon Weekend
Dec 15 all-day
Malaga Marathon Weekend @ Andalusia | Spain
A few of us are returning again for this in December. Always nice & hot and an amazing event. Most of us will arrive on the Friday and return on the Monday. Contact myself or Caroline Jackson if interested.  

 

Another triumph for Corney in Woodley 10k

 

ROADRUNNER Rob Corney warmed up in style for the London Marathon with victory in the Woodley 10k.

It was his second big win of the year and followed success at the Devon Coastal Marathon as well as setting a new club half-marathon record at Wokingham and his superb third place in the Maidenhead Easter 10.

Corney stormed home in 32mins 18secs from the Bracknell Forest runner Neil Kevern, with James Samson, of Datchet, third.

Roadrunners also took ninth and tenth places, with Mark Apsey at last beating his target 35-minutes barrier with 34.49, followed in by Dave McCoy.

Corney was one of three Roadrunners to pick up a Berkshire county championship gold medal, being joined by Alan Freer (MV60) and a new name to FV55 honours, Sarah Bate.

There were also silver medals for Helen Pool and Pete Jewell and a bronze for Mary Janssen.

Both Freer and Corney lead their categories after three events with a perfect 30 points and look assured of overall gold when the competition comes to a climax at the Marlow 5 on May 13th.

A-category first places went to Caroline Hoskins (FV50), who was fourth lady overall, as well Ed Dodwell (MV60, below) and Roger Pritchard (MV70), plus of course Corney in the senior men.

There were plenty of other Roadrunners celebrating personal bests after the Woodley race, most notably Stewart Wing, who slashed just over SIX minutes off his previous figure, finishing in 42:01.

Vince Williams also improved his mark to 45:32 and remarked wistfully: “Apparently that was my idea of taking it easy before London.”

Among the ladies cheering new figures were Paloma Crayford, achieving a pb for the fifth race in a row with 49:36, Fleur Denton in 48:36 (“best since I got married”) and Maria Norville, whose time of 54:59 was seven minutes better than in the same race a year previously.

Sarah Bate (below) made it a double of county bling and PB, Candy Cox got a second PB to follow up her new mark at the Maidenhead 10 and there were also new best times for Peter and Hilary Rennie, Helen Dixon, Suzanne Drakeford-Lewis, Jo Rippingale and Laura Chandler.

All of them probably agreed with Corney when he said: “The Woodley 10k was a nice race. It was good fun and well organised.

“There were some good runners, so I got the measure of everyone in the first couple of km before opening up a lead.

“It was a comfortable run, about 30 seconds slower than my first 10k in Maidenhead, but I had half an eye on London.

“I like the fact that my two wins this year have come from completely different races… trail marathon and road 10k.”

Corney has promised a renewed assault on county championship medals, club championship points and more race victories after his big date in London.

 

Worringham super show and England call for Davies

 

MARK WORRINGHAM was the Roadrunners’ hero at the Brighton Marathon, finishing 13th in a field of nearly 20,000.

The former club men’s captain took nearly four minutes off his personal best, coming home in a time of two hours, 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

His successor as men’s captain, Phil Reay, led the tributes to his star vet. “Like a fine wine, Mark just gets better with age,” he said. “To run a marathon in that time and take almost four minutes off his PB is incredible.

“Mark gets a lot of plaudits for his times and achievements but what is really impressive is his bravery and courage.

“He attacked the Brighton course, running the first half in 1:13.37 to see what he had in him. Respect.”

Just ahead of Mark, the race had a dramatic climax, the long-time leader Dan Nash losing his massive lead to Stuart Hawkes in the final mile, the Tipton Harrier winning for the second year in a row in a time of 2:22.33. But, unknown to the huge crowds on the seafront, the outcome was decided, just like most Formula One Grands Prix…. in the pits!

Young Welshman Nash had been forced to make not one but TWO unscheduled stops to use the portaloo facilities.

The ladies was also won for the second successive year by Helen Davies, of Ipswich, in 2:38.41.

Roadrunners’ second man home, Paddy Hayes, slashed a massive ten minutes off his personal best … and then treated us to a brilliant summation of the big event.

“Brighton was where it all began for me,” said Paddy (below). “It was my first marathon in 2015, where I first felt that awful feeling of running completely out of available energy and trying to push on for the final few miles without slowing too much. I felt that again last Sunday.

“I was trying to bring my PB down from 3:14.34 to something much quicker, so I gambled and went with the sub-3hr pace group.

“I knew it wouldn’t last, but I wanted to see how long I could cling on for. I enjoyed the first half immensely, despite or maybe even because of the ups and downs around Rottingdean and Ovingdean.

“The fourth quarter of the race was pure punishment. The sub-3hr group had gone away around half way, and I focused on seven-minute miling until around mile 22.

“In an otherwise scenic race, the stretch around Shoreham port is painfully uninspiring. The power station, sawmills and warehouses aren’t much to look at and there are relatively few spectators.

“After turning for home I had to keep asking my legs for one more mile at 7min pace, then one more at 7.15 as fatigue began to bite.

“Eventually the race re-joins the seafront promenade, the finish line now in sight, albeit three and a half miles away. I crossed the line at 3:04.02, feeling that familiar combination of appalling pain and elation.

“It’s worth repeating just how much difference is made by the support of fellow Reading Roadrunners, both spectating and running.

“It was particularly cheering to see Mark Worringham over at the head of the race.

“Naturally I was pleased with my time but I later spotted that the London Marathon have tightened up their Good For Age criteria and capped the number of places.

“It appears I need to find another four minutes, left out on the road somewhere in Shoreham.”

For Paddy’s training partner, Dan Brock, the race had a contrasting outcome… no PB but a Good For Age qualification.

The British Airways long-haul captain finished in 3:11.58, slightly off the pace of the 3:09 he ran at Abingdon last year. He plans to use that GFA qualification to run Chicago in October and use his Brighton certificate for Boston next year.

“These are both places we fly to on the jumbo,” said Dan, “but I think I’ll go as a passenger for the races.

“Boston is a favourite destination of mine as the city is setup for running and whenever I’m there I’ll always run.

“If I can find a 10k or another event when I’m down-route, I always try to enter. I enjoyed a good 10k in Mexico City last year, but the 7,832 feet of elevation made it hard going.”

Dan (right) will be one of eight Roadrunners in the Simon Davis training group heading out to next month’s Copenhagen Marathon, and he had plenty of praise for his team-mates.

“Most of my long runs are done with Simon’s fantastic Sunday morning group,” he said. “I really can’t begin to say how wonderful they are. Everyone encourages each other and a large proportion came down to Brighton to support… very loudly.”

Another Roadrunner to return an outstanding time was Chris Buley, finishing his very first marathon in 3:21.17.

“I didn’t know what to expect and it was a really enjoyable experience,” said Chris. “I loved every moment of it and was very pleased with my time.

“Running towards the power station was particularly tricky and the only dull part of the race.

“I was going really well until mile 21 when I had severe cramping in both legs. My left leg cramped and then my right… it was agony! I’ve never had such bad cramp.

“Next time I have to be a bit smarter with fuelling for the last five miles as, for once, my fitness felt great.

“It was nice to see fellow Roadrunners along the way, so thanks to those who gave me a big cheer and smile.”

Improver-of-the-day title went to Michael Hibberd (3:21.38), who chopped a massive 28 minutes off his previous time, while Mark Andrew (3:25.32) had to settle for a two-minutes improvement.

Roadrunners’ first lady to finish was Jane Davies in 3:41.35, and it was the start of a bitter-sweet week for her.

“That’s well outside my PB of 3:22.08 which I ran in London in 2013, so I’m about four minutes a year slower,” she said.

“It was a GFA for me, but it’s easier for the ladies. The GFA rules for London have changed though, so I won’t definitely get a place.”

But Jane’s mood changed from disappointed to euphoric a couple of days later when she learned she had been called up for the England Age Group Masters marathon team.

Her performance at Brighton, after which she cooled off in the sea (left), sparked an email from England Athletics confirming her selection to represent her country against a Celtic Nations team on a date yet to be announced.

Jane’s performances for a lady approaching the closing months of her spell in the FV55-59 age category never ceased to amaze, as do those by the inimitable Ashley Middlewick.

Ashley’s body of exercise for the weekend consisted of a cycle ride from Reading into London on Saturday, another from South London down to Brighton on the morning of the race and a further ride home afterwards.

In the middle of all that he contrived to slip in a parkrun at the new Hazlewood course in Sunbury-on-Thames, where he was the FIRST finisher. Oh, and he ran the marathon in 3:08.03.

The day’s racing at Brighton kicked off with a 10k in which both Roadrunners competing, Vroni Royle  and Nicola Gillard, chalked up personal bests.

They were no doubt helped by being pulled along by a high-class field with pacemakers… but not by stopping for their drinks!