Report by Andrew Butler.
Had a good first day, picked up the race numbers at the race village. Very easy, nothing much going on there in particular, got a customary shot in a Roadrunners top, spotted our names on the entrants wall for a couple more selfies etc. Free T-shirt (in what are apparently Marseille colours) picked up. Looking at the mountains of Tee’s for 10km and half runners, a slight concern on the much smaller pile of shirts for Marathon runners. Noticed there was no proper course map in the bag, or race magazine, nor were there little country flags on the bibs as there is at some races.
Spent the day chilling out, didn’t end up sleeping in the day as per the original plan. Found a good Pasta place for the customary pre-race Pasta.
Back at the hotel for an early night, but then sadly woken up by our ‘Neighbours’ about 2AM. Managed to get back to sleep but it was hardly ideal prep.
Left the hotel a little later than planned and walked down to the start (this time we hadn’t ‘pre-walked’ the route). Arrived to find the organisers had provided a woefully inadequate number of loos (about 10 near the marathon and half start, and with the marathon, half & 10km about 13800 runners (!) Made it but meant we were a bit frazzled at the start, having just about navigated to the right start pen, the only directions given in very fast French (and again something that could be solved by printing it out before hand, as happens at many races.
For the race itself, I was looking for the 345 pacer, so we pushed through the pen to find him, only too later see he had moved back in the pen. Pen was a mixture of marathon runners and half marathon runners.
Off we went, having the half runners with you for quite a bit of the route, making pacing harder and emphasising the need to ‘run your own race’. For myself things went largely according to plan, was happier when the half marathon runners split off; less happy with a park we had to run around with two big ‘out & backs’ in, and after that the two hills, both on the coast road.
Was running well then came back through the city for the 2nd Lap, at about 16 miles or so… Then there was a large group of apparent runners, hundreds of them high fiving me as I went through…(which gave me a lot of energy)..I had been thinking, that’s nice of the finishers to high five, then I noticed they were in a pen, and the 10km course car ahead!
The 10K runners were then chaotically released just behind us! This caused me and the few other marathoners around me quite a bit of trouble; first we had to move out of the way of the course car & motorbikes, with the quick runners for the 10km just behind. It was a real rhythm breaker, and a bizarre, and frankly idiotic way to organise a race, and caused us to need to run on the far left hand side, plus caused more pacing issues.
Just about recovered from that and then it was time for the marathoners to split off again, into the lovely park, with (somewhat confusingly) a different route to run it in (but including the two hated out and backs).
Was still feeling quite good on 20/21 miles as reasonably on target and a good 300 minutes ahead of the 345 pacemaker. Once we started the coast road, it was time to ‘merge’ with the masses from the 10km field. This caused no end of trouble, with some of them running back down the course the wrong way, stopping suddenly, fiddling with phones and getting in the way by stopping for selfies. Had my rhythm broken at least 4 or 5 times and had to keep running round people which was quite chaotic in the narrower bits (forced to jump into curbs, pavements, traffic Islands). Was struggling slightly but still overtaking the 10K runners when at about 25.2 miles I was eventually overtaken by the 345 pacer. This was slightly heartbreaking as I think I could easily have made that pace without the 10K runners in the way; and he went past in an area where an unnecessary course car basically forced me to stop, since I wouldn’t get round it in the narrow cobbled streets of the last mile. In addition to the 10kmers, one man at one point blocked the marathon route in his car and argued with a fellow runner (in French) then shouted at me, cyclists and scooter riders where someone on parts of the course (sometimes going the wrong way).
There was sadly more chaos at the finish as was still trying to pass people all the way to the line plus there was no way of immediately getting water.
A chaotic and badly organised queue for medals formed in the small finish area. I only got the finishers bag (which is quite nice tbf) because they happened to be getting a box out when I went past. Eventually I found the water, so took 3 bottles to make sure. Wasn’t feeling too smart at the end; possibly as a result of energy gels and/or too much water.
On the course, for a hot day (about 20 degrees by finish time) there was insufficient water for the marathoners (not too much of an issue personally as I was wearing my race pack).
Having said all that, I did manage to finished with an 8 minute PB though would have been nice to hit 3.45. To be honest I’d been aiming/hoping for 3.40 but it just wasn’t to be on the day.
I did really my time in Marseille. Hotel excellent, good food and lots to do. Nearly 10 miles of the race where on the coast which was really nice, and the flights here a lot cheaper than the other marathons we were looking at. The bag, medal, and T-shirt are nice, you can stay near the start and Port Vieux is a really nice area, especially near the start zone.
I’d have to only give a 4 out of 10 for the race. Good marks for the pretty route. The day before was well organised, but not enough water stations plus the 10km started just behind us causing chaos during the route and at the finish A shame because these things are easily fixed.
Reading Roadrunners are proud to have picked First Days Children’s Charity as their chosen charity of 2019.
It’s a local charity providing much needed essentials to children & families living in poverty. Below is a clip from their website.
At First Days we believe all children deserve the same start in life.
We provide everyday essentials to families who are living in poverty across Berkshire (and further afield) by distributing clothes, toiletries, school uniforms, equipment, furniture, toys and books.
Roadrunner Zoe Browne will be representing them at our club and first port will be Reading Half Marathon on Sunday.
We wish Zoe, Annette and her team all the best for 2019 and hopefully they can raise shed loads of much needed cash & supplies during the next 12 months.
More details available on our Charity page.
Our club received this thank you letter from No5 Charity recently. Well done to Kerry and all involved in raising the money this year.RR-thankyou19
SHE baked the cakes, she managed the team, she ran the race and now she’s done the write-up! Sam Whalley reports from Prospect Park on another momentous weekend for Reading Roadrunners…
WHEN I first joined Reading Roadrunners in 2015, all I heard was that the Sunday Thames Valley Cross Country is the league to do; that Saturday one is really competitive, only for the fast people.
Having been inspired to join a club, however, by my time watching my daughters run XC in that very league, I was not deterred, and, despite not being a fast runner, I have never felt unwelcome.
We’re always excited, therefore, when the Hampshire League fixture is the most local one, which Reading AC host in Prospect Park, because it provides an ideal opportunity for our club members to try the league for themselves.
Some were donning their green vest for the first time. Others were completely new to XC, and weren’t sure what to expect, so the usual advice was issued: the front end of the race will be incredibly fast, your mile/km splits will mean nothing, and try and catch the person in front.
We can always rely on Rob Corney to try to do just that, a new streamlined haircut helping him to lead the senior team home.
Despite nursing a rest-day-induced (his claim) niggle, Rob had a storming race and was third overall, only seconds behind two Aldershot runners, and an improvement on his fourth place here last year.
Rob was followed in by Jack Gregory, with a really good run, in an excellent 12th, his best position so far.
With this being the fourth fixture of five, the biggest hope for silverware this season lies once again with the vet men, currently sitting at the top of the league. And they did not disappoint.
You know you have a strong vets team when the likes of runners like Lance Nortcliff and Andrew Smith are superfluous to the scorers.
The scoring this time was well taken care of by a tightly-packed Ben Paviour (20th), Mark Worringham (22nd) and Seb Briggs (26th), as second, third and fourth vets. Seb’s sprint finish battle with an Under 20 runner from Aldershot was a real highlight, but the younger legs won out in the end.
These first five finishers put the senior men’s team in second place, and joint fifth on aggregate, while the vet men were again first, and remain at the top of the table.
Although the scoring was completed by these five, the job of the rest of the team — as there were 31 more men! — was to keep on pushing and keep the scores of the other teams down.
David McCoy (the younger), was next, with Lance, Ashley Middlewick (nicely warmed up from his cycle from Frimley Lodge parkrun), Andrew, Pete Jewell, Brian Kirsopp, Matt Davies and Calum Pratt all managing top-100 positions. Pete and Brian were also among the top 10 for the M50 age category.
Standing at the finish line, it was clear that every single person had run their absolute hardest, and the efforts of all were appreciated. I’d have liked prior knowledge that David Clay always finishes his races a little unsteady on his feet — gave me quite a worry there, David — with his competitive spirit leading him to try to chase down a Reading AC runner.
There are too many names to mention, but full results are here: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2019/20190112_hlmen.html
As usual the women’s race, earlier in the afternoon, was less well attended, and for some reason was the smallest women’s field of the season so far. Nevertheless, our club was out in force, with 19 of us making up a significant proportion of the competitors.
Leading the senior women home was Gemma Buley, in an excellent 18th place, new coaching obviously paying off. She was followed by Hampshire League debutante Sarah McDade, and our first vet scorer, Helen Pool.
These three women placed the senior women in sixth, and seventh on aggregate, a really pleasing result, especially since we were missing two of our strongest performers, Chantal Percival and Bithja Jones, due to injury.
As I was obviously still running, I didn’t see our second vet, Sarah Dooley, and XC newcomer Katherine Foley cross the line, but they were both awarded the same time, so no doubt there was some friendly rivalry there.
They were followed by Liz Johnson, delighted to be making the scoring vet team on her XC debut, despite her pre-race fear that she would be rubbish (not her exact words). The vet women’s team was fifth, and is also fifth on aggregate. These senior and vet results were our best of the season so far.
There were some stand-out performances, with Angela Burley, Katie Rennie, Sarah Harford and Claire Seymour all making the top 100, and Alice Carpenter, Beth Rudd, Chloe Lloyd, Tina Woffington, Divya Samani and Ruby Lee all new faces in this league, alongside the experienced Hampshire League runners Maureen Sweeney and Cecelia Csemiczky.
Tina reported that she had loved it, and Ruby thanked those who had offered her support and encouragement. Cecilia was just a little disappointed that she hadn’t managed to beat her nemesis, Marilyn from Victory.
Full results are here:
All in all, a fantastic set of results from both men’s and women’s teams, and the camaraderie on the day was exceptional.
The next and final fixture of the season will be at Dibden Inclosure in the New Forest, on Saturday, February 9th. All members welcome; let’s try to finish on a high.
Note: You do have to be a fully paid-up member, and wear a club vest/T-shirt.
Pictures courtesy of Liz Atkinson & Pete Morris
We are now taking bookings for the 2019 annual Dinner Dance at Sonning Golf Club..Full details below:
Contact either Anne Goodall at track or Hannah McPhee: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queriesDinnerDancePoster-19
Caroline Jackson finally achieved entry into the prestigious 100 Marathon Club last week when she crossed the finish line at Larnaca Marathon 2018.
‘It feels like a dream. Having my friends & family here with me is just the icing on the cake’ Caroline commented.
Not only has she run 100 Marathons but she’s ran them in style clocking up over a third outside of the UK and all in 7 years. She’s also been on the podium many times including first lady at Limassol, Cyprus marathon and second lady at both Hunsruck in Germany and Liverpool.
It was a group occasion as Caroline was joined by her partner Paul Monaghan (they call themselves #TeamJackMon) and many members of Reading Roadrunners plus other friends from various clubs at the Larnaca marathon were she finally nailed her 100th. Her family were also there to witness the presentation and join in the celebrations after she crossed the finish line.
Well done from all of us at the club.
Chicago Marathon Week 2018 by #TeamJackMon (Paul Monaghan and Caroline Jackson)
UK, Europe, North Africa, even New York we have ran them all, but now was time to return Stateside and a good for age qualifier gave us a chance to have a crack at Chicago.
We weren’t the only Roadrunners on this trip, amongst the other participants were Brooke and Elizabeth Johnson, David McCoy, and Simon Davies, and some of other friends from the 100 Marathon Club plus fellow traveller & runner Peter Mizzi .
It’s as much about the city & culture as the race so we decided we’d spend a week visiting and believe me it was a week well spent. We can’t recommend this city enough as it can be described with most superlatives we can think of.
For the first few days we were fortunate enough to stay with one of Caroline’s friends Sandi who she had last seen 18 years ago. We’d stay with her and her family on the outskirts of Chicago and then spend the remaining time Downtown. We therefore were able to experience the city from a local as well as a tourist’s perspective
Sandi had a very nice meal prepared when we arrived and was great for them both to catch up, they were just as interested in our culture as us in theirs so we spent most of the evening comparing different American & English versions of words over a home cooked dinner followed by cookies.
The next day it was down to business so we headed to the expo which appeared to be similar to the expo in London. We walked there with David McCoy and his girlfriend Christina. It was our lucky day as we got to meet Paula Radcliffe and also get our bibs personally signed. Caroline had previously met her at a running event sponsored by Nike back in 2014 but nothing beats having and been able to treasure her sign our very own Chicago race numbers. We may even get to frame then (eventually). Riddled with jet lag we headed back to Caroline’s friends for an early night and some traditional Deep Pan Chicago Pizza (a very thick crust and what appears to look like a great pie rather than a Pizza), but it was delicious if not calorific. Just the tonic for a marathon the next morning (Hope no nutrition experts are reading this)
Next morning we had to rise before sunrise at 4.15am, it was dark and raining on our subway ride into downtown. We did love the trains in Chicago as it felt like we were on a movie set high above ground. The transit system is officially nicknamed the “L”. It’s elevated subway with open air segments dates from the earliest days of the elevated railroads.
We arrived at Grant Park (the location of both the start and the finish of the marathon) just before 6am and thankfully the rain stopped. As it became light we just had a few clouds covering the skyscrappers. The location of our bag drop was directly next to the Buckingham Fountain, this is a great Chicago landmark dating back to 1927 when it was announced as the largest fountain in the world, the fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, with four sets of sea horses (two per set) symbolizing the four states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana that border the lake. Obviously this became a good spot for photo opportunities and videos.
Both Paul and I had the same start corrals and our start time was just after 7.30am. With some good music and the announcement of Mo Farah on the start line, there was a good buzz and feeling of excitement as we eventually crossed the start line. Unless you’ve ran a big city marathon the feeling of euphoria as you start is hard to explain, but I guess it’s part of the addiction we have to marathon running.
We both found the marathon to be pretty similar to New York, although Chicago runs through 29 different neighbourhoods and New York runs through 5 boroughs.
All the different neighbourhoods allowed us to experience and run through different cultures, architecture, historic buildings and residences. Caroline enjoyed the neighbourhood of Pilsen, we got to see and hear Latin American music & dance, and the Mexican’s were great spectators.
Paul liked Chinatown, festive and bright and full of character. We entered Chinatown through the Chinatown gate at mile 22. We were greeted by cheerleaders, Chinese music and dragon costumed dancers.
It did rain a little whilst we were running, it was quite a heavy downpour at one point but it did not dampen our spirits as the constant cheering crowds & music were a welcome distraction. Thankfully the rain stopped and we were able to cross the finish line in dry conditions. As 45,000 were running this event, the finish was slightly congested as to be expected, but the organisers coped with this so well and didn’t rush us along as they do in so many events.
Caroline finished in 3hr 47mins which was her 97th marathon and Paul finished in 3hr 54mins, (we’ve lost count how many he has now done…) J
David McCoy & Brook Johnson both ran a sub 3 hr with a brilliant 2:44 & 2:55 respectively. Elizabeth Johnson also ran an excellent time for her debut marathon finishing in 3:58 whilst Simon Davis ran a 5:14.
As usual we finished pretty close together, Caroline had enough time to take a few photos and have a little chat with fellow runners. We walked to collect our medals and grab our goody bags. There were also bananas, baby tomatoes and something more refreshing, a free can of the locally produced Goose Island IPA, this certainly went down well. The girls giving out the goodies were very cheerful and broke into song making us smile; I think they felt like celebrating with us.
After the race and when we had warmed up a little and got changed, we headed over to the post-race party which was held on Butler Field, about a 5 min walk across from the fountain and baggage area. We caught up with Simon, Liz and Brooke and also some of our other pals including Peter Mizzi who was on top post race form as per usual and even managed to supply us with American styled slippers 🙂 . We all agreed that it was a fantastic experience, more so for Liz who had just completed her first marathon.
Rather bizarrely the weather in Chicago throughout our stay went from one extreme to the other, heavy rain storms to hot and sunny at 29c and then down to 10c on the day we came home.
After the marathon from Monday onwards and when we relocated to a hotel downtown we tried to visit as many of the local attractions as we could, our hotel was perfectively located as we were just off the Magnificent Mile.
The Architect boat tour is one we’d definitely recommend as give an amazing insight into the history of the city whilst cruising the river to a backdrop of high rise buildings. This we followed with the excellent Chicago Riverwalk joining some pals from the 100 marathon club.
Another great trip was the Languitas brewery tour brought to us by a very entertaining and passionate guide. This commenced from a room that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Charlie & the Chocolate factory. We half expected Willie Wonka to greet us on arrival.
We even visited Chicago theatre land to see the excellent Tootsie brought to life for a stage musical.
The Navy Pier is like a city within a city and also a must see. Best time to visit is in the evening with its many restaurants, boats and attractions plus great photo opportunities against the Chicago night time sky line. It’s just buzzing with life and in a league of its own.
No trip would be complete without a trip to the Hancock Tower to visit the bar & restaurant Signature room on the 95th via an elevator that reaches it in 40 seconds (the fastest in the Western hemisphere so rumour has it ). We enjoyed it so much we visited twice, the last time watching an unforgettable sunset across the city whilst sipping cocktails.
Medoc Wine Marathon Madness– Report By Caroline Hargreaves
On the 1st March at 9am I was on the computer getting my entry sorted for the Medoc marathon. After missing out last year as it has already sold out by the time I was home from work I was determined that I was going to get in this year! This race attracts people from all over the world and I was lucky enough to get in alongside 4956 people from France, 1081 other brits, 305 Japanese, 25 Italians, 2 Mexicans, 6 from Iceland, 1 Kenyan, 17 from New Zealand, 87 Canadians and many more nationalities represented.
On Friday we flew out of Gatwick and landed at Bordeaux airport and jumped straight on the bus into Bordeaux centre to check into our hotel and then head to the expo. The expo is where the race starts, which is about an hour out of town on the train and then a 5-minute walk. There is an option to pick up your race number on the day, but the expo is absolutely the best expo I have ever been to and so well worth going to the day before. I have never been to an expo before where there is wine tasting along the road to the entrance and a lot of the other race stalls giving away wine, beer and cider along with the flyers, it was setting the tone for the next day.
Race day is an early start, there are buses laid on for the event that you need to book in advance (only 7 euros) and so it was a 6:15 bus that we boarded to take us out for the start line. There are 8,500 participants in total, pretty much all in fancy dress and with the theme being amusement parks there was so really big crazy carousel and fun fair style floats at the start line. With it being Caroline Jackson’s 40th birthday, Paul ensured that Caroline was appropriately decorated with a 40th birthday sash and giant badge whilst we all wore smaller 40th badges.
I lined up with Caroline, Paul, Cathrin Westerwelle and her boyfriend Dan and the atmosphere was just crazy, with music playing and fighter jets flying above the crowds and helicopters filming everything, I have never experienced anything like it. The race started and we ran into the town where there were loads of people cheering everyone along and filming everything, within half a mile of the start you hit the first wine stop, which we decided to skip to give us a chance to split away from the chaos as the first few miles you can bottle neck trying to get through the town. Once you get out of the town and into the first wine yard there is another wine stop and this one we didn’t miss! We then started off again and came to the first chateaux where people in duck outfits were in the pool which was hilarious, Paul and Caroline managed to get themselves interviewed by some reporters. Over the next 20ish miles it was pretty much all going through numerous wine yards and chateaux with more wine stops than I could possibly count. It was a really hot day and it fancy dress this did make the race even more challenging but with so many opportunities to stop and get a drink and various snacks it made the heat more bearable and they did have water stops with every wine stop as well as a few extra water stops too. A lot of the chateaux also had various types of live music, which was good to have a dance on the way round. Around 16 miles one of the wine fields was full of balloons that was just an amazing sight and at mile 20 there was a field that was full with about 8 different wine tables that looked like village fete. The last 3 miles is just one long stretch of road, that in the heat felt like it was twice as long as that but it had an Oyster stall about 1.5 miles from the finish and then an ice cream stop about half a mile from the end, I swear I have never appreciated an ice cream so much in my life.
At the end of the race we were given the best goodie back ever, a bottle of red wine and a Medoc marathon designed cool bag. After the race was finished there was only an hour until our coach was taking us back into Bordeaux and the car park was about a 20-minute walk away. Unfortunately, they had the worse organised bag drop ever and so I only had the chance to finish and get my bag and then head straight to the bus and so no party tent for me this year! Next time I would look to get the train back and so I would have time to chill out before having to head straight back. Cut off for this race is usually 6 hours 30 minutes but this year this was ended to 7 hours due to the heat. This is a race where you would want to be out on the course as long as possible and make the most of all the wine stops, there was one rose stop and one white wine and the rest are all red wines, I drank more red wine on this race than I have ever drank in my whole life! This race definitely has to go on the to do list for anyone that enjoys wine and fancy dress!
Good things happen to those who wait… and wait again… Race report by Ben Hart
The Burnham Beeches Half Marathon was a long time coming. The path which took to me to the start line was not a straight one, and certainly not simple.
As a few Roadrunners were aware, I was looking forward to the Reading Half in March, it being my first race. What is more, this run was part of two events in aid of the children’s charity, Dreams Come True, a cause I have raised money for previously.
Preparation for Reading had taken an unexpected turn for the worse when I sprained my ankle badly playing football at University back in January which left me with only a few weeks to resume any running. Yet, to my disappointment Reading was cancelled for all except the barmy minority who still braved the streets of Berkshire to run their own 13.1. So I set my sights on finding an alternative – The Gloucester Half Marathon. Roll on August but disappointment manifested itself again. The local council did not approve of changes to the course route and, as a result, Gloucester went the same way as Reading. I did begin to wonder if the running Gods were punishing for me for claiming a Reading finishers’ medal and t-shirt despite the event not taking place!
Quickly I discovered that it was all meant to be. Burnham took place a week after Gloucester should have done. My final training run took place on the day that I would have been running Gloucester and the extra week of prep allowed me to reach thirteen kilometres – the furthest I had run in this training stint with the sprained ankle still not being 100% and the focus of much physio. Eventually, and I do not use that word lightly, it all paid off.
With donations still rolling in, I put pressure on myself to succeed at Burnham. My stance on my unfortunate “run” to the start line was, “it’s been tough but these troubles are nothing compared to the battles which the children of Dreams Come True are fighting.” My second source of motivation was a work colleague of mine, Alex. Alex was training for a one-week cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, which would see him and two others complete approximately 150 miles a day. He advised me to watch an interview called “Driven” with an ex-Navy Seal called David Goggins, on the eve of the big day. I did, and Goggins did not disappoint. Goggins once completed an event called “The San Diego One-Day.” In short, participants run around a one-mile track and see how many miles they can complete in 24 hours. Goggins, built for heavy lifting and not long distance running, set out for 100 miles. For the last 19 miles, he ran with compression tape on his ankles and feet in an attempt to limit the pain he felt from multiple stress fractures.
With the children on one shoulder and Goggins on the other, I knew I was going to eat the thirteen miles in front of me for breakfast.
Early mornings are not generally familiar to me. As a University student, a 9 o’clock seminar is my worst nightmare, let alone a thirteen-mile race. My Mum deserves a mention for her efforts in helping me, not least when she prepared my breakfast of honey sandwiches, as I adopted her pre-race nutrition. Well fed, we arrived at Coldicot school and I was rather excited for the imminent challenge.
For the first few kilometres I was trying to settle down into my own pace, with Mum’s words of wisdom “run your own race” reverberating around my head. Another new phenomenon was the water pouches handed out to runners. My, are they hard work?! If anything, my inability to open the darn things made me chuckle as I pounded the woods of Buckinghamshire. At half way I felt strong and comfortable, confident that the second half of my race would be quicker than the first. After one more battle with the impossible pouches, the second half of the race seemed to fly by. I think it helped running a two-lap track as I could prepare mentally for the physical battle that was to come.
I desperately chased a time of sub 1:40 but missed out by twenty seconds, coming in at a time of 1:40:20. The sense of accomplishment upon crossing the line was one of my all-time sporting achievements.
I would not go as far to say that I have “caught the bug”, but I will definitely be wearing Roadrunners’ green (and blue shorts!) again in the future.
Roll on Reading 2019. I will be there to collect a medal that was truly earnt this time round!