National treasures Jane and Mark lead the Roadrunners Fast Show

Jane Davies and Mark Worringham were the headline acts of a superb performance by the Reading Roadrunners team in the final of the England Athletics Virtual Road Relay competition.

Jane was the winner of her V60 age group in a fiercely competitive national round, returning a time of 37 minutes and seven seconds for the five miles. That earned the England masters marathon star the astonishing age grading of 87.84 per cent… but Mark did even better with 87.96 per cent!

Mark was the fastest Roadrunner in the event with a stunning time of 25:53. It won’t be recognised as a personal best but it eclipsed the 26:03 he ran five years ago when smashing the course record at the Headington 5.

The former club men’s captain is a modest guy who lets his times do the talking for him. So here’s his splits… 5:10, 5:11, 5:10, 5:14, 5:07.

The time-frame for the competition had been extended due to poor weather and Roadrunners saved their best until last, the speedy council planning officer racing just a few hours before the final deadline.

Current club men’s captain, Jamie Smith, hailed his predecessor by saying: “That’s a fine performance by Mark, beating his time in the previous qualifying round by 17 seconds.”

Jamie added: “It was a superb team effort and it was great to see new names taking part and giving it a go.

“A note of thanks to Rob Corney, who went out of his way — having been injured recently — to meet up with one of our youngest club members, Jacob Atwal, and pace him for his five-mile effort round Green Park. What a tremendous show of team spirit!”

Second fastest Roadrunner was Brendan Morris, whose time of 26:34 improved his best — run in the previous round — by over a minute. Tony Page (28:52) and Matthew Davies (29:14) were our other scorers, just ahead of new member Adam Lewis, who ran 30:18 on debut.

Leading our ladies home was Jane Copland (33:26 despite being just back from injury), followed by Sarah Dooley (33:36) and Helen Pool (34:04), with Jane Davies completing the scorers. That’s Jane Copland pictured with son Sam, a potential future Roadrunner.

Proud women’s captain Sam Whalley said: “It was great to see so many different people turn out for this round. Jane Copland managed a great time following some calf issues and Jane Davies proved to be the fastest F60 in the land.

“Sarah Dooley and Helen Pool performed at their usual excellent standard, while Sara Lopez continued her recent run of form with a superb time.

“Thanks to Katie Gumbrell and Alex Bennell for uploading their efforts and well done to Gill Manton, who recorded an unofficial PB.”

Roadrunners were today confirmed as finishing 45th overall, an improvement of two places from the qualifying round. Wirral AC were the overall champions and will represent England in next month’s international final.

Our graphics show all the RR finishing times:

Now for round two! Roadrunners show they’re really relay brilliant

SOME fantastic performances in round one of the England Athletics Virtual Road Relays meant Reading Roadrunners have clinched a place in next month’s National Round, writes Sam Whalley.

The competition, which required entrants to run a five-mile road leg, was initially scheduled to take place from Boxing Day to  January 10th but was extended to January 13th to allow more time for those clubs whose local areas had been affected by adverse weather conditions to participate. 

Club members aged 15 and over were invited to enter, and asked to run either out-and-back courses or lapped courses of no less than 1km per lap. Track laps were not permitted, and competitors were reminded to comply fully with government guidelines regarding exercise.

Team numbers were uncapped, and scoring teams were made up of the fastest four men and four women from each club, with the top 50 teams to progress to round two. With a total time of 4hrs 5mins and 51secs our eight scorers bagged a provisional 47th place in a competition which attracted 128 teams.

As usual the standard was exceptionally high, with the fastest times overall being 23:57 for the men and 27:36 for the women.

21 Roadrunners – 12 men and 9 women – rose to the challenge during the competition period. 

Scoring for the men were Jack Gregory (26:01 – 54th overall), Mark Worringham (26:10 – third MV40), Brendan Morris (28:26) and Tony Page (28:49). Mark’s time was over a minute faster than the club MV40 record of 27:25, set by Lance Nortcliff at Overton in 2016, while Tony’s was a PB by more than four minutes.

Counting for the women’s score were Katherine Sargeant (fourth FV50) 31:51), Sarah Dooley (33:53), Mel Shaw (34:41) and Liz Johnson (36:00). Katherine’s time was almost two minutes faster than the club FV50 record of 33:45, which was set by Lesley Whiley at Peasemore, and has stood since 2011.

Other notable performances were recorded by Rob Cannings (31:19) — a brave competitive comeback after he was hospitalised during the first wave of Covid — and Jane Davies (36:13), who was third FV60. Jane, Katherine and Mark all achieved an age grading of 87 per cent for their performances.

Racing solo is no easy task, so well done to everyone who took part.

Here’s confirmation of the results, which means we can now prepare for the National Round, which will take place between and February 10th and 15th:

https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/news/virtual-road-relay-competition-the-results-are-in

 

 

 

Katherine and Brian are Masters of the universe… just like Eddie!

Tony Page and Katherine Sargeant have topped the club’s results in the virtual 10k challenge set by the British Masters Athletics Federation (BMAF), writes Sam Whalley.

Aimed at getting masters athletes (those aged 35 or over) back into action after Christmas, the challenge required entrants to run one or more circular or out-and-back road loops totalling 10k, or a full 25 laps of a track.

The standard was predictably high, with the fastest man running 30:59, and the fastest woman 37:26.

Tony’s time of 36:20 earned him 16th place in the MV45 category, while Katherine (left, with Tony Streams) won the FV50 age group with 40:10, over 90 seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

Also triumphant in their five-year age categories were Brian Kirsopp (MV55) with 38:06, and Eddie Thorpe (MV75) with 52:52. Eddie is pictured, right, enjoying a well-deserved pint.

Jane Davies was third FV60 with 46:45, while David Parton was fifth MV50 with 36:49 and Helen Pool was fifth FV45 with 42:36.

There were reports of (unofficial) PBs across the club, including Becky Mellor running her first 10k, and Andrew Small beating his previous MV70 time by seven minutes, so well done and thank you to all of those who took part.

Full results are here: https://data.opentrack.run/en-gb/x/2020/GBR/bmaf-virtual-10k/event/1/1/1/

For those aged 15 and over, EA is currently hosting a virtual five-mile road relay, with four men and four women to score for each team. The deadline is January 10th, and full details are here: https://data.opentrack.run/en-gb/x/2020/GBR/earr/

Roadrunners ‘virtual’ heroes? Nonsense, they’re the real deal!

Following the cancellation of the National Road Relays, Reading Roadrunners have been competing in the inaugural ‘virtual’ competition which replaced them… with stunning results! Here’s the inside story of our success, told by ladies captain SAM WHALLEY and the fastest Roadrunner in the event, JACK GREGORY. First here’s Sam’s report…

With race calendars empty, 20 female Roadrunners jumped at the chance to pull on their green vests and represent the club in the Virtual National Road Relays. The wearing of club kit was not even a requirement for this race, but it just felt right, and certainly helped get the adrenalin flowing for what was essentially a 5k time-trial.

The beauty of this race, while being pretty tough to run solo, was its convenience, with no choice but to run loops or an out-and-back from your own front door, including warming up and down, of course. Routes were carefully plotted in advance, taking into account the negative elevation limit of 30ft. 

We also thought about the most suitable time of day, the number of road crossings, and any potential obstacles — wheelbarrows, toddlers, barriers — to try to ensure our best performance. In hindsight, some might have chosen differently, and some did indeed have another go, before uploading their fastest attempt. I don’t think anyone had bargained for this week’s sub-tropical weather either.

Still on her way back from injury, Gemma Buley led the women’s team home in a great time of 19:21, just ahead of Carrie Hoskins, in 19:39 (fourth FV50). Just missing out on a sub-20 were Nikki Gray, in 20:01, and Katherine Sargeant, in 20:05 (seventh FV50). With Sarah Dooley in 20:16, and Jane Copland in 20:46, this put the women in 31st place in the six-stage competition, with a combined time of 2:00:08. Apart from Gemma, all of these were also FV35 scorers, and just needed Mel Shaw’s 21:18 to achieve an excellent fifth place out of 47 complete vet teams — amazing  — with a combined time of 2:02:05.

Making up the remainder of the women’s 12-stage team were Chloe Lloyd, with a huge PB of 21:42, Julie Rainbow, in 21:58 (ninth FV55), Swinda Falkena, in 22:17, Liz Johnson, in 22:45, and Claire Woodhouse, in a post-baby PB of 23:29. 

The 12-stage team was an incredible 13th, in a combined time of 4:13:37. Well done!

Once the results were in, an FV50 category was added, with four to score. Had we had one more runner in this age category, I think the club could have won! Our three FV50s ran a combined time of 1:01:42, with the winning team of four coming in at 1:36:25. Someone please check my maths!

Another great thing about this race was that there was no limit to numbers. Just run, and the fastest 12 would be counted.

So, also running like they had stolen something were Caroline Jackson, 23:31, Claire Raynor, 23:33, Claire Seymour, matching her track 5000m PB, in 23:53, Angela Burley, 23:58, Sam Whalley, 24:17, Liz Ganpatsingh, just days after her three-day Paris Marathon, in 24:48, Alex Bennell, 25:44, and Katie Gumbrell, in 27:48.

Well done to everyone who represented the club and put in 100 per cent effort. It was so nice to hear about your experiences, pre-race nerves, and near-vomit finishes. That’s what it’s all about. I hope you enjoyed being part of the virtual team, and, who knows, maybe we will take an actual team to the Nationals next year?

And here’s the in-depth report from hugely enthusiastic speed merchant Jack:

The National 12 and six-stage Road Relays are a staple of the UK racing season, providing a competitive transition from cross-country to marathon/road (and track), while also truly showing which club can boast the most depth of distance talent.

Personally, it is an event I have been trying to compete in for years both in my time with our rivals (Reading AC) and more recently since I made the jump to Reading Roadrunners (more controversial than Spurs to Arsenal). 

It does though involve some considerable organisation from team captains and also having 12/6 runners available to help you qualify at the Southerns, and then represent at the National at Sutton Park in Birmingham. This is far easier said than done as it does often clash with popular road races and seems to be a common time to get injured.

Having seen the success of the club in the Southern 6/4 stage in September, Jamie Smith, Mark Worringham and myself on the men’s side, and Sam Whalley on the ladies, had been pushing for our first appearance in the event. 

This was sorted, with almost two full teams registered on both sides, ready to head up to Milton Keynes. Unfortunately, as with every other event, it fell victim to Covid-19; leaving us rather disappointed.

Talk had begun a few weeks back on various forums and groups of the organsiation of a virtual event. Fortunately our sport has many great characters and volunteers and the Virtual National Road Relays were created by the small team at Opentrack, who have done an outstanding job at short notice with almost seven times the amount of entries they were expecting.

Jamie and Sam quickly went to work in drumming up interest among the members and the regulars quickly made themselves available. What I have been particularly happy about though is members who maybe don’t always feel “quick” enough or have not competed in club team events before getting involved. It has paid dividends as we have seen a number of “PBs” (very unofficial) from top to bottom.

The brief for the race was very simple: run a 5k as fast as possible, while following all social distancing guidelines, and then upload to Strava and the Opentrack website. This obviously means some will take liberties here and we all know the slight limitations of GPS; but did mean everyone could access safely and close to their homes, while providing a fairly accurate 5k time.

The standard of the racing has been sky high. Based on entries, over 60 current or ex-GB internationals signed up and this can be seen in the results.

On the men’s side, notables include Marc Scott for Cambridge, a Nike professional who recently broke Mo Farah’s European Indoor 5000 record in 13.08. He was only third fastest (although the athlete in first has a slightly suspect time), in 13.43. To get into the top 50 times you had to run 14:43, 15 flat would get you 97th, 16 minutes 394th and 17 dead 798th!

At the front end of the men’s race there was an epic battle with the lead changing hands regularly over the last 48 hours as each of Tonbridge, Leeds, Bedford and Cambridge added rapid times to their fastest 12. It was eventually Leeds, who crept ahead of Cambridge in second with Tonbridge taking bronze. Bedford were fourth. I mention four teams as they all went under three hours total. It does not take a maths graduate to work out that these teams therefore averaged under 15 minutes per leg, Leeds getting exceptionally close to 14:45.

The Roadrunners were not put off by the competition, rising to the challenge of the top athletic distance clubs in the country. Friendly rivalry between the guys meant many ran ‘PBs’ in their efforts. As results were compiled together, the men finished a highly respectable 41st out of 118 complete A teams in a total time of 3:21:05 (for comparison, Leeds were 2:57), averaging 16:45 per leg.

Scoring legs were: Jack Gregory (15.34), Mark Worringham (15:52), Stephen Ridley (15:59), Chris Burt (16:41), Mark Apsey (16:51), Ryan Faulkner (16:52), Matthew Davies (16:53), Sibrand Rinzema (17:13), David Parton (17:16), Brendan Morris (17:16), Callum Pratt (17:19) and David McCoy (17:19)

A key feature of the team was the excellent depth. All 12 of our scorers were in the top 1000 finishers, something not common in many teams outside of the top 20. Motivation is there to bring all of those times down by just 30 seconds and suddenly we would move up 10-15 places.

Special mentions in the scoring team must go to Stephen Ridley, who dipped under 16 minutes for the first time. He should probably scrap that triathlon stuff! Also, I believe there were ‘PBs’ for Chris Burt, Matthew Davies and Callum Pratt, while also excellent efforts from Sibrand Rinzema and Brendan Morris, both coming off injury but delivering solid runs. While part of the challenge of a 12-stage relay is to get your 12 strongest runners out, it is worth noting RR were missing Rob Corney, Matt Richards and Seb Briggs, all of whom would likely have scored.

As mentioned, RR’s depth is certainly a strength and this was shown by an excellent showing by the B team, finishing ninth among B teams in 3:51:36. Lots of the guys here were knocking on the door of the A team, with sub-18 performances from Jamie Cole (17.22), Jamie Smith (17.28) and Tony Page (17.47). 

Backing them up were Alex Harris (18:18), Brooke Johnson (18:51), David Clay (18:53) and Pete Jewell (18:56), who was the first Roadrunner to complete a leg, early on Saturday morning. Next up were Stuart Hyslop (18:59), Rob Thompson (20:21), David Caswell (21:13), Chris James (21:40) and finally Ben Fasham (21:48).

And if these 24 runners were not enough, there were outstanding efforts many more men. A shout-out must go to our youngest runner, Under 17 Jacob Atwal who ran an excellent 17:49 but due to age restrictions could not be slotted into our B team. Further top efforts came from Peter Cave (22:07), Clinton Montague (22:14), Chris Barkus (22:28), Alan Williamson (22:59), Stuart Wylie (23:31), Roger Ganpatsingh (24:11), Paul Monaghan (25:30) and Peter Reilly (25:41).

As well as the 12-stage race, there were the veteran six-stage competitions, categories that RR tend to perform particularly well in. This was no different with the vet men (V40 and above) 13th, counters being Worringham, Parton, Cole, Page, Harris and Jewell. The V50s were also an outstanding fifth with David Caswell adding to Parton, Harris and Jewell.

Thank you as usual to our team captains Jamie and Sam for drumming up interest and continued encouragement to get more and more RR out of their comfort zone and competing for the club. We continue to grow and improve and this can be seen in our results. 

It’s great to see over 50 runners coming together during this difficult time and has been a welcome distraction alongside the many other excellent initiatives and activities going on (virtually) at the club. Well done and thank you all

Finally, following on from my above point on our continued improvement, I thought this would be a good way to sign off. There was an overall 12 stage competition including men and women based on age grading. I won’t go into details, as most will be familiar with parkrun, however I feel this is an excellent way of bringing together the overall performance standard at a club. 

We averaged an exceptional 83.06 per cent across our top 12, finishing 31st out of 148 clubs. This included beating local rivals Reading AC, Windsor and Newbury and national powerhouses Belgrave and Serpentine. An incredible achievement! Below are the scorers (ordered by highest age-grade score):

Mark Worringham, David Parton, Carrie Hoskins, Jamie Cole, Jack Gregory, Pete Jewell, Stephen Ridley, Katherine Sargeant, Alex Harris, Tony Page, Julie Rainbow and Chris Burt.

 

Roadrunners clean up the prizes as girl power reigns at Goring 10k

Following the second club championship event of the year, ladies captain SAM WHALLEY again does the honours with this report from the front line after competing herself…

THERE was a Reading Roadrunners 1-2-3 at the Goring 10k. Well, first man and second and third women, at least.

With Fleet Half Marathon cancelled and marathon training plans out of the window, there were a few on-the-day entries for the undulating local race, and competition in the club championship* hotted up.

*Quick reminder that you have to be in it (your RR kit) to win it. There are no fewer than 41 RRs on the results, and no way were they all in green (shaking head, sad face).

First home in the senior men’s category, and first man overall, was Marcus Fletcher. You may be surprised that he was not first across the line; this accolade went to in-form Jessica Gibbon, of Reading AC, who has completely smashed the XC season.

For the MV40s, there was a close battle between Fergal Donnelly and Tony Page, with Fergal just winning.

The MV50s was the most populated category of the race, and only David Caswell was required to complete the set. With Brian Kirsopp pulling up with hamstring pain at 3k, it was Tony Streams who took the 50 points.

Alan Freer led home the MV60s, and also picked up the Masters trophy, as they called it.

Eddie Thorpe missed out on the Grandmasters prize by two minutes, but was the only contender in the club’s MV75 category, while Stephen Wing was happy to pick up 50 points in the MV65s.

There were no senior women, but Sarah Dooley picked up 50 points the FV40s, along with the vets prize overall (third female).

Katherine Sargeant was second female overall, first FV50 for the club, and declared the Supervet! Whose idea were these names?!

Jane Davies, unsurprisingly, was first FV60, and the Masters winner, with Heather Bowley claiming 50 points for the FV65s.

And here’s my report from the Saturn Running-organised Lost Runs event at Thames Valley Park, where there was also a good turn-out of Roadrunners.

This seven-hour window of opportunity was designed to be ideal training for those entered in spring marathons, half marathons and ultras.

I thought it would be a perfect warm-up for Paris (er, perhaps not) and then Brighton (oops!) Oh dear, this is getting expensive.

With little incentive for the longer stuff I ran a half-decent half marathon (with negative split) and fled early, leaving the proper long-distance runners — like Martin Bush and Jo Sollesse — to continue racking up the miles.

We had been dreaming of racing over the Verrezano Bridge in NYC while having to make do with the Horseshoe bridge over the Kennet, which became increasingly difficult to cross as East Reading’s finest returned from Tesco laden down with the fruits of their stockpiling raids.

As a tribute to my unlucky club colleague Liz Jones, I wore my (totally redundant) England vest for this event. 

Liz was supposed to be lining up for England in the age group masters international at Fleet but with this race also falling foul of the pandemic, she missed the chance to represent her country.

This disappointment followed a week in which she had battled to recover from a fractured thumb and cracked ribs after a cycling accident.

Liz was determined to make the most of her big day however, and wore the coveted strip on an off-road run, proudly displayed it to her horse, Kazan (left) and then a field of goats, as well as the statues in Trafalgar Square, buskers in Covent Garden… and finally she slept in it (below). Coming soon will be  a montage of images of Liz’s vest’s day in the sun… set to music!  

Elsewhere, Ryan Faulkner was the only Roadrunner competing at the somewhat controversially-staged Bath Half Marathon, where he ran 1:18.22, while Emily Brett was also a solo half-marathoner. She ran Hampton Court in 2:13.00.

For the second consecutive event, Ashley Middlewick was on a podium. He picked up another runners-up prize with a time of 37.45 in the Mad March Hare 10k at Woldingham.

The Milton Keynes 10k was a family affair for Roadrunners. Andy Atkinson was second MV65 and his wife Liz third in the same age category. Mark Andrew was up in 23rd in that event with a time of 41.20 and his wife Veronica finished with Liz Atkinson.

Goring results: https://www.chiptiming.co.uk/events/goring-10k-2020/

Pictures: Eddie Thorpe, Phil Reay, Katherine Sargeant.

Three and (anything but) easy for Worringham hat-trick heroes

FOR the third year in a row, Reading Roadrunners have won the men’s veterans title in the fiercely competitive Hampshire League. Men’s captain JAMIE SMITH here pays tribute to Mark Worringham and his brilliant squad…

Under clear blue skies and in glorious sunshine, the last league cross-country fixture of the season took place at Popham Airfield. Yes, that was actually the weather yesterday!

There was no sign of the mud that we have had to get used to over the course of the season and this was certainly very much appreciated after the recent mudfest at Parliament Hill for the Southern XC Championships.

We finish the cross-country season as veteran Hampshire League winners. The confirmation came with another first place finish for the team on the day.

This meant that we are the champions with a perfect score of just four points (for four wins!)… an amazing achievement in a very competitive league. The mightily strong Aldershot, Farnham and District squad trailed in second.

With such a strong veterans’ team performance it’s no surprise that we also had runners finish in the top ten overall for the season.

Mark Worringham was our highest placed runner in fourth place, just missing a podium spot by one point. Lance Nortcliff finished the season in equal seventh place and Andrew Smith ninth.

On the day itself 13 green vests lined up to race and were led home by another of the club’s veteran runners, Ben Paviour, in a fine 19th place overall. He was also second vet home. Hopefully we can persuade Ben to run a few more Hampshire League races next season.

Second home for the club was Mark Apsey in a season’s best performance in 25th place.

Mark Worringham finished a mere ten seconds back in 27th place (fourth vet), with Lance Nortcliff in 53rd (sixth vet) and David McCoy in 59th making up our scoring team. 

Also running were Andrew Smith (65th), Jamie Smith (77th), Ben Ashby (87th), Tony Page (89th), Chris Buley (116th), Pete Jewell (120th), Jon Green (215th), and Nick Adley (237th). Excellent running all round — well done everyone!

The men’s team finished in our joint best position over the season, with a fine fifth place on the day.

Indeed, fifth place was also the same position where we finished in the 2019/20 league table. An excellent effort, showing the real strength in depth that now exists within the club.

It’s been a fantastic cross-country season with two out of three league titles won.

Well done to everyone who has turned out throughout the season. We’ll be back for some more mud when the new season starts in October.

Now here’s SAM WHALLEY’S report on a great finish to the season by our ladies…

Sun, wind and a distinct lack of mud faced the ten female Reading Roadrunners in Popham, for the fifth and final Hampshire League fixture of the season.

With the SEAA XC champion on the start line, it was no surprise that Reading AC’s Jess Gibbon was again the race winner.

Freya Martin was once again first home for our club, matching her best position of 13th, and giving her 11th overall for the season.

Hannah Green followed in 26th, with Helen Pool hot on her heels in 28th (second vet and fifth vet overall for the season). The women’s team was sixth on the day and sixth overall on aggregate, which is an impressive result.

Sarah Dooley was next, in 40th (seventh vet and seventh vet overall for the season), with Chloe Lloyd in 54th. Completing the vet’s team was Emma Paton, in 63rd (20th vet), giving the vet women’s team their best finishing position of second and third on aggregate. 

This was a fantastic result, and a brilliant end to the season. If it were up to me, I would be rewarding team podium finishes, and top-ten finishes in the overall and vets’ competitions. But it’s not.

Other non-scorers on the day were Sam Whalley (93rd, 39th vet), Alex Bennell (106th, 50th vet), Claire Seymour (110th, 52nd vet), and Cecilia Csemiczky (141st, 71st vet, and second V70).

I am really grateful to the all the women who have turned out for the club this season, and proud of what we have achieved as a team. Well done!

Men’s results: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2020/20200208_hlmen.html

Women’s results: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2020/20200208_hlwomen.html

Action picture: Gemma Buley.