Greek Island Retreat and Sore Feet

Crete Marathon Long Weekend 2019
By Paul Monaghan

Because of budget and time constraints it was necessary for Myself and other half Caroline Jackson, Pete ‘The Train’ Morris & Martin ‘Bushy’ Bush to fly to the Crete island capital Heraklion for the marathon which is based in Chania and a 2hr 45 minute coach ride. We’d be flying back from Chania the following Wednesday, so the most difficult part was getting there.

We had this worked out so we’d make it easily in time for the Chania expo which closed in the evening at 8:30, however we didn’t bargain for and hour getting through passport control and then getting off the wrong stop on airport bus to coach station. Anyway 2 hours later than planned we caught the 3:30 coach to Chania, there were no loos on board so it meant no drinks could pass our lips. Pete Morris brought on board an empty drinks cup to be on safe side. Thank god he didn’t use it especially whilst trying to hold his phone in the other hand.

The journey itself was picturesque as we were travelling through stunning mountain ranges and along the coast, though we were feeling really parched and in bad need of a drink. Not ideal prep for marathon the next day.

We got off the coach with about two hours to spare so decided best to head to Expo before checking in to our hotel. The Expo was held at the Kucjk Hassan Mosque which is the oldest Ottoman building in Crete and was a great sight. It’s on the sea harbour which in itself was impressive but typical of a Greek island. There was also a lighthouse on the sea front which made for quite a few good photo opportunities.

Inside the Mosque was a photo exhibition but Bushy looked far more impressed with his free towel and t-shirt in the goody bag. He prob has enough towels himself to dish out to every runner and enough marathon t-shirts to clothe the island, but that’s never stopped him collecting them (I won’t go into his medals)

We finally got to check into our hotel which was great as we had a roof terrace. One thing I never knew about Crete is there’s an ice tipped mountain range within sight, so it made for a great view from our terrace, mind you saying that, it was 25 degrees in the UK at this time but only 18 in Crete. Always nice to think you’re getting money’s worth weather wise but guess we’d missed out this time. A case of unusual high temperatures back home.

A pre-marathon Torch carrying relay was due to finish at the marathon start area so we headed in that direction to see what it was about and also hook up with some 100 marathon club pals. As we arrived there were about 15 torch carrying toga wearing guys just entering the area. After a pose for pictures they lit an Olympic style cauldron which was an impressive sight especially as it was at night. After a few speeches in Greek a band then started playing. It was an amazing buzz that got us right in the mood for the next day

Whether it’s placebo effect or not, I think it divides opinion but regardless we headed to an Italian restaurant to carb up for the next day. Easy enough for Caroline, Pete & I, but Martin ‘Bushy’ Bush always has a few issues with food and is quite happy just eating chips. He’s also not a big fan of cheese so pizzas usually need to be minus the

cheese.  Anyway, he ordered plain pasta but the waiter brought it and explained how the chef had covered it in a lovely spicy tomato sauce he would enjoy. WRONG!! That was not all, his garlic bread then came with lashings of cheese WRONG!! Poor old Bushy had to send 2 dishes back but by this time we were eating at 10pm. Luckily Caroline & I were not taking this marathon serious and would run together taking pics. London was looming so not a good idea to push yourself the week before. Anyway, Bushy was finally happy and it did give us all a few laughs. I kind of like chaos especially on holiday, so right up my street.

The next morning was the marathon so we were up early and grabbed a bit to eat before our 10 minute walk to the start. But hey, where was everyone? The place was empty except for about 20 officials and runners. We spent the next 45 mins in and out of the loos as was a novelty not to queue for a change, so decided to take advantage. Then 20 mins before the start about 400 runners turned up, definitely not quite as laid back as we’re used to but a refreshing change. That was not all, as at 9am race start time there was about 10 mins of passionate speeches (all in Greek of course) as 400 runners all raised their right arm. I’m sure I heard the words TeamJackMon, Bush & Morris mentioned but I could have been mistaken. Anyway, 10 minutes later than scheduled we were off.

The scenery on the route was something else as it started along the coast, though not many supporters as guess they were busy getting ready to support the kids 10k which would start in 4 more hours.  Caroline & I decided to run together, take this easy and enjoy, and that is exactly what we were doing. It was an out and back route and before we knew it Bushy was overtaking us.. For him no magnet shops or photos during race today for some reason. The sniff of beating us may have been a factor 😊. We eventually saw Pete who looked far more interested in his phone then the scenery. Must be some phone, that’s all I can say.

It was an out and back route and support gradually improved as we hit the towns. Mind you so did the traffic and became almost unbearable for us during second half, though must add that the marshals did an amazing job controlling it under the circumstances, and with a smile.

We were having fun running this but eventually all must come to an end. The last few miles were really undulating and to our surprise during last mile or so we had the kids 10k runners all walking along the same route to the finish line, It was a nightmare getting around them and if you were going for a time it would be out of the question. However, the finish was a party atmosphere despite the congestion, and we were glad to eventually finish running in intense heat. I’d recommend this marathon for the scenery and atmosphere but if you’re seriously thinking of a time then probably not ideal. Bushy had managed to finish before us and had a great run considering how many marathons he’d just ran. Pete was also not that far behind us and told us he really enjoyed the course.

The next day we stayed in Chania and decided to visit the lighthouse via a route paved with broken rocks. This was nearly as difficult as the race but great fun. After we struggled to reach it we clocked a group of local ladies who must have been older than the rocks, sitting near it. As far as I can gather, they must have had jetpacks hidden or had perfected the ancient Hellenism art of levitation (should have asked for tips for next marathon)


No trip to a Greek island would be complete without a boat trip and Captain Nick with his glass bottomed vessel was glad to oblige. It was choppy and cold at sea that day, but he went out with around 10 of us regardless. We even all had a go at steering the boat. Pete Morris managed it with one hand whilst holding phone (I’ve recommended a surgeon who may be able to detach it from his hand) and taking selfies in the other. Got help us if we had of hit a storm. Even in the cold-water captain nick swam out and attached bait to the bottom of the glass so we could witness some cool looking fish feeding. We had the option to swim but Pete said his phone may leek, so we gave it a miss. Besides, it was not the warmest of days.

Nice local Greek restaurants are plentiful in Chania especially down the side streets. It’s real friendly 5-star service. If tacky British bars on every corner aren’t quite your thing or you prefer a more cultural trip, then Chania in Crete delivers, even if it does have its fair share of tourist souvenir shops. We found it similar to Seville or San Sabastian if you’ve ever visited. We even had Martin trying stuffed vine leaves rather than his usual chips, so I guess that says it all.

Will we be back? I love the Greek Islands and will find any excuse to go especially if there’s a marathon. We plan on returning to Rhodes next year, if only for the awesome pre marathon pasta party, but I’m sure we’ll be back to Crete soon.

If you fancy joining us on any races abroad then visit are Runners on the Road section on our website or give Caroline & me a shout.  All are welcome.

It’s Back to Back to Cyprus

Paphos & Limassol Marathon 2019 Week Report.

By Paul Monaghan

We’d last ran Paphos in 2015 and ran Limassol marathons a few times over the years but one thing we never expected was that in 2019 they’d each announce their Marathons within a week of each other. As Caroline’s parents live over there this was a perfect excuse to spend 10 days away and run 2 marathons.

After arriving we checked in at a great hotel called Nereus it seemed tons of runners were also staying there. We got chatting to a couple at the hotel bar, the guy Clive had his eye on the big win so we chatted about marathons we’d done for the rest of the evening before being sensible and calling it an early night.

The Paphos marathon expo itself is a a lovely area next to Paphos castle & the beach and near the finish. To anyone new to the race it’s an impressive area and soon gets you I the mood.

Race morning we made our way for the coach pick up as we’d be transported about 20 miles to Aphrodite’s Rock where the marathon would kick off as this was an out and back course. I’d previously ran this in 2015 but what surprised me is just how much this marathon had grown. Three coaches were there in 2015 but this time there was a queue of about 10.

You have to be there to appreciate the start. Aphrodite’s Rock area is just stunning and as it was sunrise it looked even more spectacular. A sight to behold.

We eventually started, and although being stunning there was the slight problem of a Kilometre up hill to contend with. Caroline shot off but I knew at that moment it was not to be my day. A great race but support is sparse amongst many sections of main road leading to Paphos town. I found myself running solo on some parts but about 12 mile in at an out and back section I spotted fellow 100 marathon runner Adam Holland leading the race by a serious margin.

Many runners seemed to struggle with the heat but Adam Holland took first in 2:35:03. Our pal Clive from the hotel came 5th in just a few seconds over 3 hours. My lady the other half of #TeamJackMon Caroline Jackson managed 3:53.

The best part of this race is the awards ceremony. They gave out lots of age cat prizes which many of our pals picked up. Caroline only just missed out on the vet female 40. Free beer was flowing as well as a local DJ. Our friends and fellow RRs Stephen & Julie Wing had a good marathon and also joined us at the end.

Did we rest the following day? Erm not quite as we walked about 8 miles to and from Tomb of The Kings which was a welcome quiet day.

A couple of days later Caroline & I joined the local Cypriot running club West Coast Runners for about 10K around Paphos. Was one of the highlights of our stay as they were a great bunch, we’d meet some of them a few days later at Limassol marathon.


Next port of call would be Caroline’s parents in Pano Lefkara for a couple of days before heading to Limassol. A can was needed for this but as usual for us we were ill prepared which meant us walking around Paphos for a couple of hours to get the right one, one back alley place we ended up by accident was a used car, car park with prices sprayed on the windscreens which we decided may be worth giving a miss, luckily we found a great Europcar garage that gave us just what we needed.

Caroline’s parents as always were great as hospitality & food were in abundance, not to mention the bottomless wine carafe her dad always produces. I really do need to get myself one of these. Pano Lefkara is up in the mountains and a stunning typical Cypriot village that specialises in linen and has managed to keep it’s culture despite the tourist buses that frequently visit. I’ve been close on a couple of occasions to buying a set of curtains whilst just going for a loaf.

They have a local running track at the village which in our wisdom decided to do about 20 laps on in the 25 degree heat. It was empty so we had it to ourselves, we even managed to  collar a local old lady to grab a few pics though 5 minutes later she returned with curtains and a few table cloths.  We did eventually manage  enjoy a ice cold local beer after our track & linen dodging session.

It was eventually time to leave Caroline’s parents so we drove to Limassol to check into our second hotel. This was slightly more out of the way from the marathon start but had great views from our balcony.

We managed to get in a few tourist sites including Kolossi Castle and the brilliant Kourion archaeological site whilst in Limassol which required a lot of walking, not really ideal for our marathon in a couple of days but well worth the visit.

The expo on Friday was a quiet affair but the pre-race pasta party was a different matter. They’d put on the entertainment of Greek dancers doing their balancing glasses on the head routine. As the sun was setting this was great fun but the lack of lighting meant we couldn’t see how many glasses were on his head, still I’d lost count after 15 anyway. The Cypriots know how to put on great pre and after marathon shows which seem to lack back here in the UK.

Marathon morning was buzzing, as the race starts parallel to the beach surrounded by Palm trees. With the DJ pumping out tunes, this really is a mega experience. Caroline was recognised by some of the organisers as she’s won the 2015 Marathon so there was quite a few pics taken though no autograph hunters I’m afraid .


Before we knew it we were off. This year the race was in waves for the Marathon, HM and 10K meaning there was no congestion as in previous years. I was feeling a lot more up to it then at Paphos the following week so shot off at 7:15 min mile pace though just 1 mile in I had a case of the runs so shot into nearest loo. Caroline also seemed to be on better form as I didn’t catch her until 20 mile in when after seeing me she found some competitive energy to leave me for dead. This is a great course though support can lack in places. The heat and hill at about 15 mile make this tough but the scenery and atmosphere more than compensates.

I came in at just over 4 hours which was 20 mins faster than the previous week. Caroline also finished faster. Can never really run your best in these hot climates but these races were as much about the holiday as running.


After the obligatory #TeamJackMon video and a few post drinks it was time to celebrate in the evening at the Guaba Bar who organise the official race after party. Live bands, DJs etc play well on until after midnight. It would be rude not to indulge so we did the decent thing by singing along to cheesy tunes and returning to our hotel long after the door had been locked.

Cyprus as always is a great island to visit as so much more to do besides running, but take my word for it, It’s far more fun if you run. It would be rude not to.

Marseille Marathon 2019 Run Report

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.

Our Charity For 2019

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.

Table-toppers! Worringham’s wonders in league of their own

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.

And such has been the buzz around all XC fixtures this year, that we were overwhelmed by the number of Reading Roadrunners who wanted to come along.

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:

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

Dinner Dance 2019

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

Contact either Anne Goodall at track or Hannah McPhee: if you have any queries



Caroline Jackson Achieves 100 Marathons

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.