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.

Parliament Hill squad left to reflect on a thing of brute-y

TWENTY-FOUR brave Roadrunners gave their all on London’s iconic Parliament Hill Fields course today. As ever, our captains are proud to quickly spread the news. Here’s JAMIE SMITH’S report on our men’s performances…

ROADRUNNER David Clay summed it up perfectly when he said: “Well, that was brutal!”

He was one of 15 men in green vests who took to the start line for this year’s South of England Cross-Country Championships at the bottom of the first of many daunting hills.

Among our team were seven debutants at the famous Parliament Hill course.

On the coach up from Palmer Park, there was a mixture of nervousness and excitement. As we arrived one of the younger age group races was just starting and everyone was eager to see how these youngsters tackled the first big hill.

Race time came round for us in no time at all and, having just seen our women’s team run so strongly, we wanted to do ourselves and the club proud.

Away up the hill, a swarm of runners were all looking to get a good start and find the right line for the first bend, which is known for being a bottleneck. After topping that first hill, the men had three full laps to complete to make up the 15km distance.

We were soon to find that this was not going to an easy day, with deep, heavy mud throughout the entire lap, each corner getting more perilous with each lap as the 1,172 runners trudged through.

Interestingly, the people who look after that part of Hampstead Heath use shire horses to help bring the ground back to good condition.

There has been a big debate around the distance of the men’s race and for me the battle to get round and beat the conditions makes it one my favourite races of each year.

The race was won by Great Britain runner Adam Hickey in a staggering 47 minutes 21 seconds. Perhaps being at the front meant he had easier conditions!

It was fantastic to have so many green vests on the start line and our squad managed a very respectful 24th position out of 81 teams. Well done to every single guy who tackled that course today.

We were led home by Jack Gregory in 116th, despite his having been unsure all week if he would run because of a heavy cold.

Our scoring six was completed by Matthew Richards (125th), Sibrand Rinzema (296th),  Callum Pratt (312th), Lance Nortcliff (356th) and David McCoy (385th).

Everyone should be incredibly proud of their run today.

And here’s SAM WHALLEY’S report on our ladies’ efforts…

Nine Roadrunners’ women lined up in pens 46 and 47 at the bottom of Parliament Hill, with a few having withdrawn through injury.

There was a mixture of nerves and excitement among those who were there, with some knowing what was in store, and others going on the hearsay of ‘it’s epic’, ‘you’ll love it’, and ‘it’s an amazing downhill finish’. We all knew it was going to be undulating, tough, and given recent weather conditions, very, very muddy. It was definitely a day for the 15mm spikes.

First home were Parliament Hill newbies Mel Shaw, in the form of her life despite developing a huge hole in her spikes mid-race, in 239th, and SEAA over 60s champion Jane Davies, in 248th.

Experienced XC runner, and the club’s FV40 XC championship winner, Sarah Alsford, was next, in 304th, with Chloe Lloyd, another Parliament Hill newbie, completing the scoring team in 313rd. The team was 41st out of 70 complete teams, which is a great result.

Following them in were Sam Whalley (426th), ‘try anything once’ Alex Bennell, only one second behind in 427th, first-timer Swinda Falkena in 455th, Liz Johnson, giving her new spikes the ultimate test, in 495th, and Claire Seymour, in 593rd, with all women finishing the tough 7.6km course in under 50 minutes. 

Well done to everyone who ran for us… and to the first lady home, Reading AC’s Jess Gibbon.

Our next visit to Parliament Hill should be for the National XC Championships in February next year. Who’s in?

Pictures: Gemma Buley, Pete Morris

Results: https://results.sporthive.com/events/6626442416927653632/races/472908

So you win again! How Ed Dodwell and our XC vets grabbed the glory

CLIMBING was the theme of this weekend’s racing for Reading Roadrunners. The dreaded ascent up to the mansion house in Prospect Park was the big feature of Saturday’s Hampshire Cross Country League fixture and that was followed today by the killer 3k drag up to the finish of the Woodcote 10k and the iconic remake of The 39 Steps at the Cliveden 10k. Club captains SAM WHALLEY and JAMIE SMITH have again filed accounts of the cross-country action and their reports follow my own missive from Woodcote…

QUIZ question: Who has been the most successful Reading Roadrunner over the last year?

Step forward please… Ed Dodwell.

As Ed climbed the podium to collect his customary M60 prize after the Woodcote 10k he said: “I’ve been very lucky. In the last 19 races I’ve entered I have had two second places and 17 wins.”

That’s not luck, Ed… that’s good running!

Roadrunners would have cleaned up at Woodcote but for four little problems…

1 There was no team prize. Had there been one, our four guys in the top 18 — Chris Lucas third, Brian Kirsopp ninth, Fergal Donnelly 17th and Tony Page 18th — would have walked away with it. No other club had more than one athlete in the top 20.

2 First lady home was our second-claimer Ellie Gosling. Unfortunately she was wearing the wrong kit!

3 No prize for Sarah Dooley for winning the W40 group… they handed it to someone else by mistake! Was coach Sarah miffed? Just a bit!

4 And no M70 prize for yours truly. There wasn’t one! Pity, the day had been going OK right up until the time I head-butted the pavement.

But there were still trophies for Dodwell, Jane Davies (F60 prize in her second tough race in less than 24 hours) and Lucas, a winner of this race in 2018 but a bronze-medallist this time after being run out of it in the last 400 metres.

Amazingly, three Roadrunners chalked up PBs on this tough course. On his comeback from injury, Tony Page managed an improvement of 28 seconds, George Nyamie progressed by 25 seconds and new member Julie Sugden (right), donning a green vest for the first time, found it made her over a minute quicker.

Brian Kirsopp, a winner last year, had to settle for second place in the V50s but my spies tell me that the man who beat him, David Parton, may soon be racing in a green vest.

There were 29 Roadrunners contesting the Woodcote event and 22 competing at Cliveden, where Ian Giggs was our first finisher and Elizabeth Ganpatsingh our first lady home.

Here’s SAM WHALLEY’S report on the Hampshire League fixture…

With this being our second visit to Prospect Park this season, the BBO XC Champs having been held here in November, there were to be no surprises in store.

The course, though, felt markedly different. I heard the mud described as soft, sticky, claggy… it was certainly deeper in places, especially on the hills and through the woods, and the boggy end of the field was indeed boggy. The course was, as usual, short, at 5k, and we continue to be baffled as to why we don’t run an extra loop that the men run, to increase the distance to nearer the advertised 6k.

Regular TVXC winner Freya Martin was once again first for the team, in an impressive 13th, followed by Hannah Green, making her debut for the club, in an excellent 37th. Helen Pool completed the team, in 44th (8th vet), and the team placed a fantastic fifth.

Mel Shaw, not really feeling the love for this league after a few years away from it, was hot on Helen’s heels in 46th, while Jane Davies did battle with a Reading AC rival for 52nd (11th vet, first V60), during what she called her warm-up for the Woodcote 10k. 

Chloe Lloyd continued her great run of form not far behind in 62nd, and our other Hampshire League debutante, Emma Paton, completed the vets’ scoring team in 73rd (24th vet). The vets team was a brilliant third.

Also having strong non-scoring runs on the day were Sam Whalley (that’s me!), Alex Bennell, Claire Seymour and Cecilia Csemiczky, with Cecilia just being pipped by her arch-rival from the Victory running club.

Well done to everyone who ran, and thank you to those who came out to support, mostly on the worst hill — what a motivator!

With one fixture to go, the women’s team overall is sixth on aggregate, while the vets are third, just one point ahead of Stubbington Green. We had a team of 11 at this race; It would be great to have an even bigger turn-out for the finale at Popham Airfield on February 8th. If you’re free, join us!

And here’s JAMIE SMITH’S report on the men’s race at Prospect Park:

A fantastic turn-out of 19 Roadrunners lined up for the penultimate Hampshire League fixture. It was great to see 11 runners making either the debut this season or turning out at the Hampshire League for the very first time. 

Having run the same course in December at the BBO, everyone was well aware of all of the hills and, indeed, once again the mud that was to come. 

Speaking with lots of the new faces, there was a mixture of excitement and nervousness pre-race. The Hampshire League is seen to be a step up in class from the TVXC, and one that really should not be there. This was best summed up after the race by first-timer Daniel Rickett: “Really enjoyed that” he said. “If I can do it anyone can!” 

Unfortunately, having picked up a few niggles in the recent TVXC event and with the depth to the team these days I had the chance to watch the race from the sidelines. It was thoroughly impressive to see the commitment and enthusiasm from all who wore the green vest yesterday.

At the front of the race there were plenty of top-level runners, including recent TVXC  winner Jack Gregory, who led the team home with his highest-ever finish of tenth. Jack has set himself a number of goals for this year and a top-10 finish in the Hampshire was one of those. One down, three to go!

Finishing in a fine 23rd was Ben Paviour, who was making his debut this season. Ben was second vet40 to finish after a run that was nearly perfect apart from an unfortunate stumble on one of the downhills.

Behind our leading pair the scoring team was made up by Mark Worringham in 33rd (fifth vet), Mark Apsey in 37th and this season’s cross-country ever-present Chris Burt in 57th.

This led to the senior team finishing in a fine sixth place, cementing our current sixth place in Division One for this season.

With one race to go our men’s vets team have all but secured the league title. They won the fixture yesterday thanks to a fine run from Andrew Smith, completing the team as 15th vet 40.

Congratulations to those who have scored and made this league win possible. Beating the Aldershot team is no mean feat.

In the men’s vets individual competition, we have an exciting conclusion to the season with mud-lover Mark Worringham currently in fourth place only one point away from third ahead of the final race at Popham airfield on February 8th.

Thanks to everyone who turned out on a cold and very windy day. Let’s be seeing some more of you, either at Popham or next season!

Hampshire League ladies: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2020/20200111_hlwomen.html

Hampshire League men: https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2020/20200111_hlmen.html

Woodcote results: https://www.woodcote10k.org.uk/copy-of-results-2019

Cliveden results: http://onyourmarksevents.org/results-2020-cliveden-10k.html

Pictures: Pete Jewell, Jeanette Allcock, Nigel Hoult, Eddie Thorpe, Matt Davies, Chris Drew.