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

SOME fantastic performances in round one of the England Athletics Virtual Road Relays have left Reading Roadrunners confident of a place in round two, 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.

When we get confirmation of the results we can look forward to round two, which will take place between and February 12th and 15th.

 

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/

Giggsy’s Strava Art

Mr Ian Giggs has been a member of Reading Roadrunners since he was a young lad. Most of you will have met Ian as he’s a keen runner plus usually organises out Endure 24 events. He’s also now know as the International parkrun legend (IPL) as we’ve lost count of the countries and places he’s ran parkrun

Ian had an amazing idea for us all during lockdown. We each run a letter of the alphabet using our watches and then upload our Strava (Some of us used Garmin Connect) map to Ian’s Facebook  event.

As you can see the result was amazing as it spelt out the name of our 2020 Charity ‘Reading Roadrunners Supporting Parenting Special Children 2020 Charity‘ (Lots of cash raised since lockdown) This was different to anything I’ve ever tried. The hard part was getting the letters a close as possible to something readable without bumping into a tree and avoiding rabbit holes in the process.

Since lockdown our Captains and members have been busy keeping us active by arranging everything from Bingo runs to relays and all manner of virtual runs.
It really is a pleasure to be a member of this friendly active club. Thanks to all involved.

Coming up next Jamie’s Ridgeway Relays and Ian’s Virtual Endure 24

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.

 

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.

Nortcliff, Kirsopp the heroes as Roadrunners win at Lightwater

FIVE green vests in the top 20 meant a great finish to the Sunday XC season. Men’s captain JAMIE SMITH reports on Roadrunners’ challenge for the title…

THERE was a fantastic turn-out of Roadrunners at today’s final Thames Valley Cross Country League fixture of the season. What a way to start the New Year, with a distinct difference from the wet and muddy conditions we have had to endure so far this season.

It was a lovely spring day with a slight chill, but it was dry and sometimes we enjoyed a glimpse of sunshine breaking through.

All of this would suggest an easier day, but in reality Bracknell Forest Runners laid out a truly testing course. 

Taking place on the heathland around Lightwater Country Park, with gorse that seemed to reach out and grab at you, there were plenty of bloodied arms showing afterwards.

With a fair amount of dry conditions underfoot this allowed for a faster pace than we have had to get used to when ploughing through the mud. 

I would probably describe the course as never actually being flat, and none more so then on the long hill we had to run twice.

How would we rank the hills from this season? Sandhurst, Handy Cross or today’s… which was hardest? 

But there were — as should be included on all cross-country courses — a few technical muddy sections that allowed all of us to get a good covering of mud over our legs.

With the results still currently provisional, it looks as though our men were overall joint first on the day, with Windle Valley.

I’d like to thank everyone who has turned out for us this season. Everyone who runs plays a part in any team success — so well done all!

We were led home with another fine run from Jack Gregory in second place. Like all the top runners he had to survive a confused start, caused by a marshal not being in position and a lack of signage.

This brought the front of the field to a virtual standstill, only resolved when Bracknell’s Neil Kevern , the eventual winner, took the initiative to find the correct course. A potential disaster was averted but Jack had to work his way back past about 20 runners.

That’s Neil in our picture, battling it out with Tom Harrison and Kerri French.

Following Jack home in the scoring team was Chris Burt in sixth, Mark Apsey seventh, Lance Nortcliff 12th, myself 17th, and Brian Kirsopp 32nd.

Special thanks to Lance and Brian for turning out for this fixture after a last minute call to arms on Friday evening! Their performances were crucial in clinching top spot for the men’s team on the day and for the season.

So that’s the end of the TVXC for this season, but don’t worry there is still plenty of mud to be found if you feel you need some more.

Next Saturday we have the penultimate Hampshire League fixture and following that Popham Airfield stages the last races on February 8th.

Here’s SAM WHALLEY’S report on the Roadrunners’ ladies’ efforts at Lightwater…

It was great to see such a good turn-out of women for the last fixture of the season — I counted 25!

With last year’s race having been cancelled due to snow, and some of us not having run it many times, there seemed to be various memories of the course, but commonly mentioned were hills, bottlenecks, a ditch, and a lack of desire to run the second lap. Yep, they were all still there.

We have really missed Chantal Percival (right) this year, but work commitments have not always been able to fit in with the race schedule. What a surprise to see her today, and maybe less of a surprise to see her lead home the women’s team in fifth.

Laura Peatey was next, in 11th, with Mel Shaw hot on her heels in 12th. There followed a couple more seniors — Chloe Lloyd in 26th, and Renée Whalley in 29th — but it was our first vet, Claire Marks, who would complete the scoring team, in 30th.

Their efforts gave us second place on the day, and this seemed to me to be a fantastic end to the TVXC season. Well done to everyone who ran, especially those who were new to the club or to XC this year, and have embraced the mud. 

You have earned our ladies a final League position of fourth for the season.

If you’re wondering what you can do with yourself now, we still have two Hampshire League fixtures to go, in Reading (Prospect Park), on Saturday, and at Popham Airfield near Basingstoke on February 8th. 

You can also take a look at the email you should have received this week, with details of upcoming road relays. Let’s keep this team spirit up!

Results: http://tvxc.org.uk/results/detail?race_id=95

Final positions: http://tvxc.org.uk/content/league-tables

Pictures: Peter Reilly

Hark the herald angels sing, Corney proves he’s still king

After Roadrunners hosted a fantastically successful Thames Valley Cross Country League fixture, ladies’ stand-in skipper MELANIE SHAW has filed this report on what she has dubbed ‘Ar-mud-geddon’. Supplementary reporting by men’s captain JAMIE SMITH after his six-and-a-half-hours shift from set-up to leading the team and unpacking the vans..

FOLLOWING last weekend’s Berkshire Cross Country Championships and seven days of rain of biblical proportions at Ashenbury Park, the mud and water levels on the Woodley course had increased significantly, reducing it to a sea of treacle. Just what we wanted!  

Somehow between them Sam Whalley and Peter Reilly managed to find two very different courses, both very enjoyable. 

The latest leg-sapping course welcomed a fantastic 416 runners — including 77 Roadrunners — to celebrate the final Thames Valley XC League run of 2019, and surely the beginning of the festive season.

There were Christmas hats aplenty and the lovely Eddie Thorpe even donned his fabulous festive running gear. (Fear not, he ran in the required club vest for the race). 

The mood was buoyant — and needed to be given the conditions — and everyone seemed to enjoy the atmosphere of a great event.

Jack Gregory and Rob Corney — back after eight weeks out with an Achilles injury — led the field out and the spray from the runners was akin to travelling under a waterfall. The race was gruelling, and it was more effort pulling your foot out of the mud than placing it in front of the other one. We suffered two tough laps (of 4km each) before the final placings were decided. 

Fully recovered from his injury, Rob took first place and silver went to Jack a few muddy seconds later. 

Despite it being his first appearance of the season, our second-claimer Ben Paviour (left) was the first vet home in fourth place, just ahead of Sibrand Rinzema, whose impressive sprint finish gave Roadrunners four out of the first five places.  

If that wasn’t enough, we proudly welcomed Mark Apsey in ninth and another vet, Tony Page, in 20th, giving the club’s men a massive winning margin. With Chris Burt 13th and Jamie Smith 14th, we had nine finishers in the top 20.

I had the honour of leading our ladies team — with Laura Peatey, Jane Davies and Chloe Lloyd our other scorers — into third place. This gave the club joint first place overall, along with Datchet, after one of the Dashers’ scorers was disqualified for wearing headphones.

Sam Whalley was really pleased with the team result and wanted to give a shout-out to several other members… “Sarah Dooley was our fifth woman home, in the middle of her 14 mile long run — good going! Shweta Saikumar, who, having said just last week that she would not be back, was indeed back, and had a great run. She really will feel the benefit in the spring. Swinda Falkena’s big smile was back at Ashenbury for the second time, with Swinda claiming to have enjoyed the race much more, with the benefit of last week’s experience.

“It was great to see Annette Russell racing, after a difficult year, and Helen Wing, who had sworn never to do XC again, was a true professional in her XC spikes. Katie Rennie was back in green for this league only (at least for this year!), which was lovely to see.”

So, a big thank-you to Sam, Peter Reilly and all the wonderful volunteers who made this possible — from the course set up, the catering, photographers, results takers and the well-wishers. You really made our club proud!

Finally, congratulations to all the runners who managed to navigate themselves around the course. This event was a real show of club depth, with so many Reading Roadrunners running and/or volunteering.

Today was the final race of the year as a club and we can look forward to 2020 with a great deal of optimism.

The next XC event is the TVXC fixture at Lightwater Country Park on January 5th. Let’s start the New Year with another mass green vest race takeover!

That will be followed by the Hampshire League fixture at Prospect Park, Reading, on January 11th.

Have a wonderful Christmas all.

Results: http://tvxc.org.uk/results/team?race_id=90

Pictures: Chris Drew, Sev Konieczny, Peter Cook.