Richards defies the brutal one-day London heatwave

 

MATTHEW RICHARDS was the Reading Roadrunners star on a blisteringly hot day at the Virgin London Marathon.

Richards was the first Roadrunner home in the sensational time of two hours 32 minutes and 39 seconds.

His red-hot performance matched the temperature in the capital as he ran a new personal best time, eclipsing even the brilliant time produced by Mark Worringham at Brighton a week previously.

The club’s 20-miles record holder (left) showed he could add another storming 10k to that distance, running a personal best and a negative split to finish 45th overall.

Apart from Richards, a lot of his club colleagues wilted in the heat and there was general disappointment that what people had trained for so hard for so long was simply impossible on the warmest-ever day in the history of the race.

A lot of victims of the 24-hour heatwave felt like losers afterwards, but the winners could turn out to be the organisers of the Abingdon Marathon. Roadrunners are already queuing to sign up for the Oxfordshire event on October 21st, determined to use their training in more favourable conditions.

Back at Greenwich, the options were simply to scale back on one’s ambitions… or pay the price!

There were personal bests on the day for Liz Atkinson, Sarah Richmond-De’voy and, of course, the Queen of Improvements Gemma Buley (3:33.37, pictured right), but the real Roadrunners stars were right at the back of the field, where Hannah McPhee and Jenny Gale took over seven and a half hours to complete their brave, roasting journey.

Our athletes set off boosted by a string of helpful tips from club marathon record holder Keith Russell, who must have known his figures weren’t going to be threatened in such conditions.

Most people’s experience was summed up in a nutshell by Steve Ridley: “I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be able to hit a PB, so started backing off. Wheels came off properly from miles 14-18…”

Another of the club’s elite runners, Seb Briggs, who had been the first Roadrunner to finish in 2017, said: “Absolutely astounding from Matthew Richards, who managed an incredible time and placement. Brilliant work.

“The Roadrunners at Mile 23 were fantastic again and it’s difficult to overstate how much of a boost they give you at what is probably the hardest part of the 26.2.”

Briggs (below) admitted that his time of 2:42.14 was way off what he envisaged when he started training for the event back in December. “But it was more than acceptable considering the heat,” he said.

“My time was put into perspective by the fact that I finished in the top 200. I started the race with a target time for 2:35 but with the energy-sapping heat and my right leg starting to cramp up I had to readjust my target and enjoy the experience.

“I had the pleasure of running alongside the impressive Brendan Morris for the majority of the way. Approaching 30k he told me he didn’t think he could sustain his pace before speeding off while I chugged along, seeing him go further and further into the distance. Cheers for that!”

Brendan, the hero of a ‘secret’ half-marathon victory in the capital a month before, said: “I tried to reserve some energy to pick up the pace in the final 10k but when I put the hammer down I simply couldn’t get my legs to go any quicker.

“The last few miles seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t look up at the scaffolded Big Ben as it seemed a hell of a long way away and not getting any closer.

“I knew the PB was not a possibility from five miles out but I was still happy with my time (2:41.48) taking into account the conditions on the day.

“It was clear a lot of people were struggling in the heat. I was hoping for a top-250 finish, so finding out I had come in at 183rd confirmed it was a run I should be happy with.”

Another runner to take a realistic view of the conditions was Alex Harris, who said: “It was one of those days when you just had to focus on survival and getting round safely. Pretty much everyone was way off their target time.”

That didn’t stop Alex, recently new to the V50 age category, from coming within nine seconds of a personal best with a time of 2:56.58.

“I didn’t look at my time until there was 600 metres to go and by then it was too late,” he said.

“I was totally cooked after eight miles and I couldn’t see how I could finish, so I stopped looking at pace/splits and just focused on getting round.

“Anyway I was really happy with my time as the conditions were brutal.”

Those conditions caused a scare for Sarah Dooley, who collapsed at the finished and was wheeled off to the medical tent without being able to collect her medal and goody bag.

“The race was a bit of a disaster for me,” she said. “I had to make two toilet stops due to stomach cramps, then I had trouble breathing in the last few hundred metres and couldn’t breathe when I crossed the line.”

Sarah still managed to complete the course in a highly creditable 3:39.10.

Another runner to make several toilet stops was my training partner Joe Blair, but that was because he was sensibly taking on board plenty of water.

Joe, doing the Brighton-London double on consecutive weekends due to charity commitments, said: “I decided to follow collective advice and start slowly. That paid huge dividends.

“I took on water every mile, mainly to douse my hat, wrists and neck. But the heat really drains you and in truth I still had a bit of Brighton in my legs.

“I finished comparatively strongly and it was only when I finished that I allowed myself to accept the achievement of two marathons in eight days. So far I’ve raised over £2,400 for my charity, Marie Curie.

“The heat took quite a few casualties and I’m just grateful that I made it round.”

One of those casualties occurred near the Roadrunners marshalling at Mile 23. There Chris Manton had to carry a fallen runner off the course to the medical facilities.

Another runner upset by the heat was our own Melanie Shaw, disappointed not to be in a position to challenge for a PB after a year out with an injury deferral.

“I was totally wiped out by the heat,” she said. “You’ve no idea how hard it was out there today.”

Back out on the course, Hannah (right) and Jenny, the bravest of the brave, were still battling and it was almost 6.20pm when they finally made it to the Mall.

Roadrunners’ ladies captain Sam Whalley paid this tribute to her girls: “Huge kudos to Hannah and Jenny; I can’t imagine what it must have taken to keep going in those conditions.

“It took me back to the disaster that was Brighton 2017, where the high temperatures had me reduced to an alternating walk/shuffle for the second half of the race.

“Anyone who ran yesterday should be really proud of themselves for getting round. Look what the heat did to that marathon great, Mary Keitany. It was an exceptional day.”

The Roadrunners’ spirit was summed up by Seb Briggs when he said: “Looking forward to next year already.”

Another triumph for Corney in Woodley 10k

 

ROADRUNNER Rob Corney warmed up in style for the London Marathon with victory in the Woodley 10k.

It was his second big win of the year and followed success at the Devon Coastal Marathon as well as setting a new club half-marathon record at Wokingham and his superb third place in the Maidenhead Easter 10.

Corney stormed home in 32mins 18secs from the Bracknell Forest runner Neil Kevern, with James Samson, of Datchet, third.

Roadrunners also took ninth and tenth places, with Mark Apsey at last beating his target 35-minutes barrier with 34.49, followed in by Dave McCoy.

Corney was one of three Roadrunners to pick up a Berkshire county championship gold medal, being joined by Alan Freer (MV60) and a new name to FV55 honours, Sarah Bate.

There were also silver medals for Helen Pool and Pete Jewell and a bronze for Mary Janssen.

Both Freer and Corney lead their categories after three events with a perfect 30 points and look assured of overall gold when the competition comes to a climax at the Marlow 5 on May 13th.

A-category first places went to Caroline Hoskins (FV50), who was fourth lady overall, as well Ed Dodwell (MV60, below) and Roger Pritchard (MV70), plus of course Corney in the senior men.

There were plenty of other Roadrunners celebrating personal bests after the Woodley race, most notably Stewart Wing, who slashed just over SIX minutes off his previous figure, finishing in 42:01.

Vince Williams also improved his mark to 45:32 and remarked wistfully: “Apparently that was my idea of taking it easy before London.”

Among the ladies cheering new figures were Paloma Crayford, achieving a pb for the fifth race in a row with 49:36, Fleur Denton in 48:36 (“best since I got married”) and Maria Norville, whose time of 54:59 was seven minutes better than in the same race a year previously.

Sarah Bate (below) made it a double of county bling and PB, Candy Cox got a second PB to follow up her new mark at the Maidenhead 10 and there were also new best times for Peter and Hilary Rennie, Helen Dixon, Suzanne Drakeford-Lewis, Jo Rippingale and Laura Chandler.

All of them probably agreed with Corney when he said: “The Woodley 10k was a nice race. It was good fun and well organised.

“There were some good runners, so I got the measure of everyone in the first couple of km before opening up a lead.

“It was a comfortable run, about 30 seconds slower than my first 10k in Maidenhead, but I had half an eye on London.

“I like the fact that my two wins this year have come from completely different races… trail marathon and road 10k.”

Corney has promised a renewed assault on county championship medals, club championship points and more race victories after his big date in London.

 

Worringham super show and England call for Davies

 

MARK WORRINGHAM was the Roadrunners’ hero at the Brighton Marathon, finishing 13th in a field of nearly 20,000.

The former club men’s captain took nearly four minutes off his personal best, coming home in a time of two hours, 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

His successor as men’s captain, Phil Reay, led the tributes to his star vet. “Like a fine wine, Mark just gets better with age,” he said. “To run a marathon in that time and take almost four minutes off his PB is incredible.

“Mark gets a lot of plaudits for his times and achievements but what is really impressive is his bravery and courage.

“He attacked the Brighton course, running the first half in 1:13.37 to see what he had in him. Respect.”

Just ahead of Mark, the race had a dramatic climax, the long-time leader Dan Nash losing his massive lead to Stuart Hawkes in the final mile, the Tipton Harrier winning for the second year in a row in a time of 2:22.33. But, unknown to the huge crowds on the seafront, the outcome was decided, just like most Formula One Grands Prix…. in the pits!

Young Welshman Nash had been forced to make not one but TWO unscheduled stops to use the portaloo facilities.

The ladies was also won for the second successive year by Helen Davies, of Ipswich, in 2:38.41.

Roadrunners’ second man home, Paddy Hayes, slashed a massive ten minutes off his personal best … and then treated us to a brilliant summation of the big event.

“Brighton was where it all began for me,” said Paddy (below). “It was my first marathon in 2015, where I first felt that awful feeling of running completely out of available energy and trying to push on for the final few miles without slowing too much. I felt that again last Sunday.

“I was trying to bring my PB down from 3:14.34 to something much quicker, so I gambled and went with the sub-3hr pace group.

“I knew it wouldn’t last, but I wanted to see how long I could cling on for. I enjoyed the first half immensely, despite or maybe even because of the ups and downs around Rottingdean and Ovingdean.

“The fourth quarter of the race was pure punishment. The sub-3hr group had gone away around half way, and I focused on seven-minute miling until around mile 22.

“In an otherwise scenic race, the stretch around Shoreham port is painfully uninspiring. The power station, sawmills and warehouses aren’t much to look at and there are relatively few spectators.

“After turning for home I had to keep asking my legs for one more mile at 7min pace, then one more at 7.15 as fatigue began to bite.

“Eventually the race re-joins the seafront promenade, the finish line now in sight, albeit three and a half miles away. I crossed the line at 3:04.02, feeling that familiar combination of appalling pain and elation.

“It’s worth repeating just how much difference is made by the support of fellow Reading Roadrunners, both spectating and running.

“It was particularly cheering to see Mark Worringham over at the head of the race.

“Naturally I was pleased with my time but I later spotted that the London Marathon have tightened up their Good For Age criteria and capped the number of places.

“It appears I need to find another four minutes, left out on the road somewhere in Shoreham.”

For Paddy’s training partner, Dan Brock, the race had a contrasting outcome… no PB but a Good For Age qualification.

The British Airways long-haul captain finished in 3:11.58, slightly off the pace of the 3:09 he ran at Abingdon last year. He plans to use that GFA qualification to run Chicago in October and use his Brighton certificate for Boston next year.

“These are both places we fly to on the jumbo,” said Dan, “but I think I’ll go as a passenger for the races.

“Boston is a favourite destination of mine as the city is setup for running and whenever I’m there I’ll always run.

“If I can find a 10k or another event when I’m down-route, I always try to enter. I enjoyed a good 10k in Mexico City last year, but the 7,832 feet of elevation made it hard going.”

Dan (right) will be one of eight Roadrunners in the Simon Davis training group heading out to next month’s Copenhagen Marathon, and he had plenty of praise for his team-mates.

“Most of my long runs are done with Simon’s fantastic Sunday morning group,” he said. “I really can’t begin to say how wonderful they are. Everyone encourages each other and a large proportion came down to Brighton to support… very loudly.”

Another Roadrunner to return an outstanding time was Chris Buley, finishing his very first marathon in 3:21.17.

“I didn’t know what to expect and it was a really enjoyable experience,” said Chris. “I loved every moment of it and was very pleased with my time.

“Running towards the power station was particularly tricky and the only dull part of the race.

“I was going really well until mile 21 when I had severe cramping in both legs. My left leg cramped and then my right… it was agony! I’ve never had such bad cramp.

“Next time I have to be a bit smarter with fuelling for the last five miles as, for once, my fitness felt great.

“It was nice to see fellow Roadrunners along the way, so thanks to those who gave me a big cheer and smile.”

Improver-of-the-day title went to Michael Hibberd (3:21.38), who chopped a massive 28 minutes off his previous time, while Mark Andrew (3:25.32) had to settle for a two-minutes improvement.

Roadrunners’ first lady to finish was Jane Davies in 3:41.35, and it was the start of a bitter-sweet week for her.

“That’s well outside my PB of 3:22.08 which I ran in London in 2013, so I’m about four minutes a year slower,” she said.

“It was a GFA for me, but it’s easier for the ladies. The GFA rules for London have changed though, so I won’t definitely get a place.”

But Jane’s mood changed from disappointed to euphoric a couple of days later when she learned she had been called up for the England Age Group Masters marathon team.

Her performance at Brighton, after which she cooled off in the sea (left), sparked an email from England Athletics confirming her selection to represent her country against a Celtic Nations team on a date yet to be announced.

Jane’s performances for a lady approaching the closing months of her spell in the FV55-59 age category never ceased to amaze, as do those by the inimitable Ashley Middlewick.

Ashley’s body of exercise for the weekend consisted of a cycle ride from Reading into London on Saturday, another from South London down to Brighton on the morning of the race and a further ride home afterwards.

In the middle of all that he contrived to slip in a parkrun at the new Hazlewood course in Sunbury-on-Thames, where he was the FIRST finisher. Oh, and he ran the marathon in 3:08.03.

The day’s racing at Brighton kicked off with a 10k in which both Roadrunners competing, Vroni Royle  and Nicola Gillard, chalked up personal bests.

They were no doubt helped by being pulled along by a high-class field with pacemakers… but not by stopping for their drinks!

 

 

 

 

Modest Morris reveals his secret capital triumph

 

BIG Brendan Morris was proud to join the queue of Reading Roadrunners proclaiming their shiny new Easter personal bests.

“I’m struggling to keep this one to myself,” he announced on Facebook. “One hour 14.12 for the Victoria Park Half Marathon…PB!”

But Brendan was barely telling half the story. What he failed to mention was that he actually WON the race, beating a field of over 700.

While some of London’s elite runners were in Berkshire on Good Friday denying our best guys the prizes at the Maidenhead 10, our gentle giant was already in the capital to gain revenge.

So a month which began with a lot of frustration ended in triumph and Brendan can look forward to the Virgin London Marathon with bags of confidence.

Sharpening up in February with a 58-minute pb in the Bramley 10 and a 17:10 parkrun pb at Woodley, his target has always been London. Let Brendan take up the story…

“I’m hoping to improve on my marathon time of 2:41 that I ran at Abingdon last year, which has got me on to the Championship start line for London,” he said.

“If my taper goes smoothly and there are good conditions on the day I’ll be aiming to go under 2:40.

“My wife Gemma will be running London as well as she got through in the ballot. She’s new to running but has been putting in a tremendous effort and deserves to achieve a time she should be proud of.

“Though I won’t be with her on the day, my thoughts and some of my concentration will be with her. My wife and I both wanted to do a half marathon as part of our training and we picked the Bath Half as we knew it was quite a flat course. Unfortunately the ‘Beast from the East’ had other ideas and the event was cancelled due to heavy snow.

“Still eager to do a half marathon we signed up for Reading a couple of weeks later… well, we all know how that ended. By this time we thought we were cursed and had upset the running gods.”

Not long afterwards Gemma Morris suffered a foot injury and eased off the mileage, but Brendan was still keen to race a half marathon and to crack the 75-minute barrier. Using the RunBritain website he sourced the Victoria Park Half in Mile End, east London.

“The course was flat and the weather pretty much perfect,” he said. “I had taken an early train as I didn’t dare wake my wife, so I was going solo.”

Well, not really solo! The six-and-a-half lap course soon became a parkrun-style free-for-all. Not only was their route open to the general public enjoying a dry Bank Holiday but two more races, at 5k and 10k, were taking places simultaneously over the same course.

“It was a constant battle to pick a racing line against oncoming dog walkers and runners who I was lapping,” said Brendan.

But he was always up with the leaders and his 75-minute pace target. By the nine-mile mark he was pulling away from his main opponent, Tom Sawyer of Tring.

He eventually prevailed with 35 seconds to spare over second-placed Sawyer. “Crossing the line I was over the moon,” he said. “I couldn’t quite believe that I had cracked it.

“But I’m always looking to improve, so I never dwell on the PBs too long before trying to work out how I’m going to cut the time down further.

“We have some fantastic runners in our club and I want to be able to represent the club at the sharp end of competition.”

Roadrunners men’s captain Phil Reay paid tribute to the achievement. “I’m thrilled for Brendan that his hard work and dedication has been rewarded with a race win,” he said.

“After recording PBs at seven distances in 2017 it’s no surprise to see him continue to go from strength to strength.

“He is without doubt an inspiration and a role model for all those members striving to continue their own improvement.”

After London, Brendan says he will be “hoping to scrape together enough pennies to do all six of the major marathons in the next three years.”

If he does, let’s try to persuade him not to make a secret of his future successes.

Bitter-sweet for Rob Corney at Maidenhead Easter 10

 

ROB CORNEY came within an ace of rewriting the Roadrunners’ record books in the Maidenhead 10… but he wasn’t happy!

Corney, who smashed the club record for the half marathon six weeks previously, finished third and led home a long list of Roadrunners county championship medallists.

Alex Harris, Alan Freer and Gemma Buley joined Corney with Berkshire golds, there were silvers for Sally Carpenter and Sarah Dooley and bronze for Pete Jewell, Helen Pool, Sarah Bate and myself.

The club’s only representatives at the prize-giving were Caroline Hoskins, after another outstanding performance in the FV50 category, and Tom Harrison, who vanquished his sole opponent at MV80 by the small margin of 34 minutes.

Meanwhile Corney was left to rue what might have been. After a delayed start to the sell-out race he forced the pace and went through 5k very close to Mark Worringham’s club record time of 15mins 38secs.

And although he soon lost the lead to the eventual winner, Dan Wallis of Belgrave Harriers, his next personal best time quickly followed as he clocked a personal best 31:47 for 10k, just outside the club record of 31:38.

“After that it started to unravel a bit,” he said. “An old hamstring injury I struggled with at some of the XC races flared up.”

Rob was passed by the Kent runner Chris Greenwood and eventually finished in a time of 52:48, only 23 seconds outside Howard Grubb’s longstanding club record.

“I was not at all pleased as I was on for about a 52:10, which I had to abandon,” he said. “But I will live and learn and at the next flat-road 10 miler I will claim another club record.”

Corney’s final thoughts were for the Roadrunners supporters. “They did the club so much credit again,” he said. “It’s great to get so many shouts of support and it must be tough for the guys from other clubs who get nothing like the same cheers.”

The club’s first lady finisher, Carrie Hoskins, led a long list of personal bests with a sensational time of 1:03.42. She had more than seven minutes to spare over the second FV50, our own Jane Davies.

Both our girls earned age gradings of over 88 per cent for their performances… practically international-class running.

And Carrie’s wasn’t even the best pb in her family… daughter Sophie, the Henley Hockey Club star, improved by over four minutes.

Another notable new mark was set by our top MV50, Alex Harris (1:01.13), now clearly back close to top form leading up to the London Marathon, having been lucky to survive a horror crash while cycling in Lanzarote last year.

The usual suspects in our pb list, Chris and Gemma Buley, were at it yet again, Mrs B returning a new mark over six minutes quicker.

There were also huge improvements for Judith Ritchie (10 minutes) and Stewart Wing (eight). Other men on pb form were Chris Manton, sharpening up for next weekend’s Paris Marathon, Nelesh Kotecha and Tony Long, while firefighter Vince Williams was on red hot form and pilot Dan Brock was really flying.

Captain Sam Whalley spearheaded a bunch of super performances from her women’s section, including pbs by Paloma Crayford (again!), Liz Ganpatsingh, Sarah Richmond-De’voy, Vroni Royle, Cathrin Westerwelle, Rachel Allaway, Sian Deller and Hannah McPhee.

Towards the back of the field my wife, Jill, finishing after the weather had turned from threatening to Noah’s Ark conditions, improved by over three minutes from her time at Bramley, enough to earn her congratulations from the Prime Minister.

Roadrunners’ own leading lady, Carrie Hoskins, is the only competitor of the fairer sex to have 100 points after two rounds of the club championship. Among the men there are perfect scores for Corney, Freer, Harrison and myself.

Looking ahead, ladies of a certain age looking for a bit of success at the Woodley 10k should be warned that Mrs Hoskins will be in the field and won’t let the fact that it is only seven days before the VLM slow her down.

Likewise Corney has targeted that race and isn’t planning to finish second. He has also entered the Marlow 5, leaving those chasing points in the senior men’s section of the club championship to battle it out for the minor placings.

Link to the revised results: here

Race Pictures

Link to Peter Cook’s Flickr album here

Link to Chris Drew’s Flickr album here 

Link to Sev Konieczny’s Flickr album here

 

 

Mark and Helen win SPOTY awards

 

ROADRUNNERS Mark Worringham and Helen Pool both won trophies at the Reading Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Former men’s captain Mark took the prize for the veteran achiever and Helen picked up the award for the best local improver during the year.

For Mark it was a reward for his success during a year when he represented England at the Masters Cross-Country international in Ireland and led his Roadrunners squad to the veterans’ title in the Hampshire Cross Country League.

And for Helen it marked a year in which she ran big personal bests at every distance on the way to clinching the club championship and culminated in being selected to represent Berkshire at the Inter-Counties Championship.

Our heroes received their awards at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Reading.

With his usual dry wit Mark commented that the “goodwill in the room seemed to dissipate when it was mentioned I was a Reading Borough Council town planning officer.”

The main awards for the local sportsman and sportswoman of the year went to Jenine Hutchison (taekwondo) and Dan John (swimming).

Here’s the link to full details of the awards ceremony… https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/reading-sport-personality-awards-2017/

Trains, Towels & Pole Dancing

Castellon, Spain Marathon 2018 By Paul Monaghan

This marathon on paper looked a good one. Was easy we thought. Fly to Valencia and then catch a train to Castellon to check into hotel and visit expo on the first day. Course seemed flat and weather was looking good for that weekend.

Of course when you travelling with Pete Morris, Martin (Bushy) Bush, Dean Allaway, Caroline Jackson & Caroline Hargreaves well things don’t always go to plan and truth be known I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do enjoy a bit of chaos but sometimes it does have its limits.

All seemed to be going smoothly until we got on the flight at Gatwick. A text and then a phone call came through from Dean saying he’d lost his passport. This happened somewhere between bag security and passport control. He eventually found it but he was too late for the flight and decided he would go home. We were one man down which was a shame.

Eventually we arrived in Valencia and decided it was a quick drink at 100 Montaditos (they’re everywhere in Spain) and Pete & Bushy ran over to Hard Rock Café to sneak one in there also and grab a few blurred photos. Weather was hotter than expected so was nice to eat & drink alfresco and not listen to people moan about the weather for a change
Time was tight as we’d booked the tickets. Now was just a simple case of grabbing the train to Castellon. Did I say simple? Wrong!! We got the right train OK but Caroline J thought Castello de la Plana train station said something else so we quickly dived back on the train. It was still moving and poor Bushy was running after it and eventually jumped on. Magnets and tacky souvenirs where strewn over the track, but luckily Bushy was in one piece. But wait, we were at the right stop and now ended up 8 miles away at next station called Benicassim. What the hell we thought and grabbed a few photos did a #TeamJackMon video and caught next train back to Castello de la Plana. We’d not even got to the expo yet.

We did eventually get to our hotel and soon after made our way to the expo. It was at Ribalta Park where we would finish the race. I was immediately impressed and couldn’t wait to start the race. If you’ve ever been to a race expo you’ll know that all kinds of foreign races are advertised so we tend to spend a bit of time at them. The guy from the Porto marathon stand was giving out free port so he tended to be our best friend for the day (Yes Caroline & I are now doing that marathon). A few photo shoots holding up our numbers and passports (Sorry Dean but it had to be done J ) and it was time to get back to hotel.

Sandy Sheppard and Brian Kirsopp would arrive later so we picked up their bags in advance.

Race morning came and what a great morning it was. Sandy & Brian’s hotel was right next to the start so we joined them for coffee before a mass RR photoshoot near a bull statue.
I absolutely buzz at marathon starts and still get goose pimples at the start of every race. When I first started doing marathons I used to get so nervous but now I just soak up the atmosphere. Truth be known I’m more nervous at parkruns, 10Ks & halves for some reason. The marathon is my stage and I relish it, though I feel the best parts are still the beginning & end and I can’t wait to get them over with as quickly as possible. Caroline & I only ever run together on XC marathons were we make a point of not looking at our watches and enjoy. Road ones are different so there’s a bit of competition. (One each up to now this year)
Fireworks & music blasted at the start which gave it a party feel.  This was a good course and well supported, I recommend it to anyone. €35 and they even threw in a tech t-shirt. We find these races cheaper all around than the UK all in all and we get a holiday out of it.

I did struggle on this one as Caroline & I hadn’t ran a marathon for 7 weeks so I did feel rusty even though I’d be training hard for this. I crossed the line at 3:43 were Caroline was waiting for me (she did 3:37) We received a towel and tons of food including pizza at the end. Maureen Sweeney kindly came along to support us adding to the great atmosphere later on in the park at the end of the race.

We now waited for the rest. Brian was already in and Sandy was doing the 10k . To our surprise Bushy pulled off a 4:10 his fastest in 6 years. Did he sniff a free souvenir? He told us he didn’t want to miss out on the towel hence his time. Joking aside he’d only done a double marathon the week before and it was about his 11th of the year making it even more impressive. He’d go on to run a 4:06 the following week in Malta.We have so many friends from 100 marathon club etc that it’s like a running family. Much like Roadrunners but an international version. So we all met up near the finish for a few beers in the Spanish sun. Brian got the best time, Pete got the most photos, and Bushy got the most freebies. I can’t recommend this race enough.

We were in Castellon a couple more days so had the delight of us all celebrating visiting the various tapas bars. Pete even managed to eat mussels & snails. There’s just so many of these great little local places in Castellon with a distinct lack of tourist traps. We also kind of like it when the menus are in Spanish and they don’t speak much English.
Did I mention there’s a beach at Castellon? We took a bus and about a thousand Spaniards followed us on. I was crushed against a pole which looked like I was pole dancing in the photos. The journey worn me out more than the marathon, and not one person stuffed a €10 note in my stocking.

Always a pleasure travelling to do marathons with my lady Caroline and the rest of the Roadrunners.  You know where we are if you ever want to join us. It’s not all about running, though it does help 🙂

Brian Kirsopp              3:20:37
Caroline Jackson        3:37:33
Paul Monaghan           3:43:33
Martin Bush                 4:10:03
Pete Morris                   4:42:27
Caroline Heagreaves 4:56:25
Sandy Sheppard          1:00:55 (10K)

 

‘Sno joke for the Whalleys as Reading Half Marathon called off

 



 

New Zealand’s Coast to Coast Bike, Kayak & Run Race 2018

Race Report By Gary Tuttle.

The 2018 New Zealand Kathmandu Coast to Coast is a multisport race that involves crossing 243Km on the South Island by Bike foot, and kayak. This took place on 9th and 10th February.

I signed up to this originally with the intention of doing the Longest Day – the one-day full course event. By December with the race only in February I realised my preparation was less than adequate and I would struggle to meet the cut off times so opted to change to the 2 day event. Still a big task but I thought much more manageable and enjoyable………..

There are a lot of logistics involved before and during the event; this involved getting the equipment I would need for the race and transporting it around the course on the actual day. Every person or team taking part needs to provide their own support crew. Thankfully I had a great support team that involved my wife Trinity and her parents and an uncle who has taken part in the past so knows the workings of the event.

A friend of Trin’s dad offered his road bike for the event but the kayak proved to be a bit harder to get hold of. Turns out it is a very big event and all hire companies on the South Island were booked out months ago. In the end I managed to hire a sea kayak from a shop in Auckland who would be transporting a number of them down for the race.  With all this sorted before I flew out to New Zealand it was a big relief.

On Thursday 8th Feb we drove over to Kumara race course to register and collect race numbers and receive a briefing about the course conditions, (river levels, transitions, state of the ongoing roadworks a few of us were worried about for the cycle!)

Friday was an early start, up at 4:45 to eat breakfast and take the bike to be racked at the 1st transition. Having never competed in any multisport race previously I thought I better figure out where I would run in and then how to find my bike amongst the hundreds of others! I then walked to the beach for the final race briefing at 6:45.

The race started at 7am with the firing of a cannon by the original runner of the race, Robin Judkins, and then there is the 2.2km run to the bike transition. I had started at the back of the pack so I didn’t set out too quick especially as the days leading up to this I had been having some cramps in my quads and hamstrings. It was comfortable running and I was quickly passing people.

On arrival at the bike transition I found my bike, shoes and rucksack with no dramas and set off on the initial 55km cycle. Having never cycled in a group before this was going to be interesting. I knew a small amount about group cycling and how they take it in turns to cycle at the front (not much knowledge obviously). The ride was generally flat with a few undulations and some fast downhills. Getting stuck in the middle of a pack was frustrating at times when on the downhills as I wanted to go faster than those around me but struggled to get out and around them. I upset a few people by trying to cycle down the middle at one point.

I arrived at the 2nd transition racked my bike and ran round to find Trin with my mountain run gear. She spotted me 1st and shouted out and quickly started changing my shoes and bags. Trin and her mum were asking if I wanted food, drinks and sun-cream, with my usual thinking, this would cost me time and I had to quickly get back onto the course and start the 33km mountain run.

After 2.75km you turn off the trail, down a bank and start your first river crossing. This is the start of Deception Valley; there are numerous river crossings and the terrain is tough going, being very rocky and easy to go over your ankle, (Try running along a rocky beach) there are boulders to clamber up and over, and sometimes there is a bit of easy going smoother trail. I made good progress for the 1st 13km but the mixture of lack of food and 30 degree heat was starting to catch up on me and I was slowing. I had a cliff bar and drank some water then set off again……………

The terrain got steeper as we neared ‘Goats Pass’ peak at 1085m where there was a mandatory kit check and you could refill drink bottles (although the river water is safe to drink in most places)……………………..

I then set off again and from here there was a nice sign to tell you, having crossed the Southern Alps “it’s all downhill from here.’ This was the part of the run I was dreading as in the week leading up to it I’d been getting cramps when running downhill. I wanted to keep it at a gentle pace to delay the inevitable cramps. There were a mixture of boardwalks and rooted trails and unbelievably some steep uphills! The terrain was pretty sapping and slowed me down. The last 3km was back to the rocky river bed but the end was in sight. There was a big sense of relief when I crossed the finish line at Klondyke Corner, and everyone is greeted by Steve Gurney (9 time C2C champion) with a handshake and cold beer. My total time for Day 1 was 7:17:11

After getting a massage it was time to find my hire kayak to set it up and stick race numbers on it, then I was thankful for the cabin we had booked instead of having to camp! Before heading to bed I had to sort out my bags and equipment for the 2nd day.

It was an early start again for day 2 where Trin and her dad had to get up at 4am to take my kayak and equipment for scrutineering. I had a bit longer in bed and didn’t need to wake until 5am, and once I had breakfast Trin’s uncle took me and my bike back to Klondyke Corner ready for the wave start.

The waves were groups of 10 setting off at 1 minute intervals determined by yesterday’s finish times. I was in wave 16 and we set off on the initial 15km cycle. As this was a relatively short cycle, and I was going to be sat in a kayak for a while after, I decided that I would try and go flat out. A couple of other cyclists came with me and we made good progress with a lot less congestion compared to the day before, we quickly caught up and passed some cyclists from the other groups. At the end of the cycle I had to run 1.3km with my bike down a gravel road to the bike racking, and then made my way to the kayak.

I had no idea how long it was going to take me to kayak 70km with the longest distance previously undertaken in a kayak was on the flat river Thames and covering 16km in 3hrs. Thankfully this was all downstream and the river was flowing at a decent rate. The first 25km is fairly flat without too many obstacles or features; it can get pretty braided so sometimes there is more than one route option. I tried to follow people who looked like they knew what they were doing and had paddled the course previously.

All was going well, when after 10km there was a small section of rapids, I didn’t see a large rock until a bit late and ended up sideways trying to get round it and pushed upside down by the water. I quickly decided it was best to bail out of the kayak as there was 2nd big boulder I was heading towards. I ended up getting pushed over the boulder hitting my leg against it…………………

At some of the known trouble spots there are rescue teams set up to deal with this. One guy on the bank threw me a throw line which I caught whilst another in a kayak got my boat and took it to shore, and another had rescued my paddle for me. Back on the bank I spent a few minutes emptying the kayak, getting my breath back and jumping back in before heading on my way again. I hoped that this wasn’t a sign of things to come as I had lost 10 minutes dealing with that which would add a lot of time to this section if I kept coming out.

The hardest part of the course is the second 25km stretch which is through a gorge and contains a lot more rapids, this makes it a lot more fun but there is more chance of capsizing. Lots of rapids and wave trains, thankfully I never came unstuck and kept upright the whole time. All along the course everyone is really friendly and encouraging. You get chatting to people around you as people are from all over the world. Some are local and have paddled the river numerous times…………………….

I knew I had almost completed it when I saw the Gorge Bridge ahead of me, a couple more bends and I could get out of the kayak. This was a relief as my back and leg were hurting from being sat for over 5 hours. As I came to the river bank there was an army of people to help the kayakers out. Two guys grabbed either arm and hoisted me out, my leg having seized up. From there, there was a cruel steep uphill run to the bike transition where I got changed slapped loads of sun-cream on and ran the short hill to the road with my bike.

 

I knew this last 70km cycle was going to be hard not just with the distance but also the lack of other people around me to help draft. For the first 16km I was by myself but made good progress passing a few people, but sustaining 20mph on my own was tough. Thankfully a rider from a 3 person relay team caught up and for the next 8km we worked together picking up the pace slightly (although he ended up doing most of the work). Eventually it was too much for me to sustain and he started pulling away from me. Back cycling alone I slowed, It was tough going as the roads were so long and straight and the heat was again draining. I kept getting water in me and then managed to take on some food. At one point I saw a sign that read ‘ The End of New Zealands longest straight road’, it was only a few minutes later I realised they must have meant the wrong end and this was only the start! 25km of dead straight road was mind numbing and tiring. My body was really aching, pains in my right quad and the bottom of my feet, I just wanted to get to the end. Eventually a larger group of cyclists caught up and asked if I wanted to join them. This was a welcome relief. I joined in and could relax slightly. They kept rotating at the front so everyone was getting a turn…..

Soon we arrived in Christchurch and there was only about 16km left. We had to stop rotating as there was too much traffic so some of us started to speed up as the end was in sight. I finally saw the 1km sign and peddled as hard as I could. There was a line of marshalls waiting to catch me and hold the bike whilst I jumped off and ran to the finish line. There was a steep incline up a sand bank rising 3m and I pushed as hard as I could to get to the top where the finish was. The relief as I crossed the line and was again greeted with a handshake from Steve Gurney was immense. My total race time 15.56.15………………..

I enjoyed the cold drinks and free burgers provided and enjoyed the satisfaction of having completed the event. With my burger and support crew I hobbled to the beach to cool off in the sea. It was one of the most enjoyable events I have done, everyone was friendly and helpful. I can’t wait to head back and compete in ‘The Longest Day’…………..