Marathon Du Medoc 2018

Medoc Wine Marathon Madness– Report By Caroline Hargreaves

On the 1st March at 9am I was on the computer getting my entry sorted for the Medoc marathon. After missing out last year as it has already sold out by the time I was home from work I was determined that I was going to get in this year! This race attracts people from all over the world and I was lucky enough to get in alongside 4956 people from France, 1081 other brits, 305 Japanese, 25 Italians, 2 Mexicans, 6 from Iceland, 1 Kenyan, 17 from New Zealand, 87 Canadians and many more nationalities represented.

On Friday we flew out of Gatwick and landed at Bordeaux airport and jumped straight on the bus into Bordeaux centre to check into our hotel and then head to the expo. The expo is where the race starts, which is about an hour out of town on the train and then a 5-minute walk. There is an option to pick up your race number on the day, but the expo is absolutely the best expo I have ever been to and so well worth going to the day before. I have never been to an expo before where there is wine tasting along the road to the entrance and a lot of the other race stalls giving away wine, beer and cider along with the flyers, it was setting the tone for the next day.

Race day is an early start, there are buses laid on for the event that you need to book in advance (only 7 euros) and so it was a 6:15 bus that we boarded to take us out for the start line. There are 8,500 participants in total, pretty much all in fancy dress and with the theme being amusement parks there was so really big crazy carousel and fun fair style floats at the start line. With it being Caroline Jackson’s 40th birthday, Paul ensured that Caroline was appropriately decorated with a 40th birthday sash and giant badge whilst we all wore smaller 40th badges.

I lined up with Caroline, Paul, Cathrin Westerwelle and her boyfriend Dan and the atmosphere was just crazy, with music playing and fighter jets flying above the crowds and helicopters filming everything, I have never experienced anything like it. The race started and we ran into the town where there were loads of people cheering everyone along and filming everything, within half a mile of the start you hit the first wine stop, which we decided to skip to give us a chance to split away from the chaos as the first few miles you can bottle neck trying to get through the town. Once you get out of the town and into the first wine yard there is another wine stop and this one we didn’t miss! We then started off again and came to the first chateaux where people in duck outfits were in the pool which was hilarious, Paul and Caroline managed to get themselves interviewed by some reporters. Over the next 20ish miles it was pretty much all going through numerous wine yards and chateaux with more wine stops than I could possibly count. It was a really hot day and it fancy dress this did make the race even more challenging but with so many opportunities to stop and get a drink and various snacks it made the heat more bearable and they did have water stops with every wine stop as well as a few extra water stops too. A lot of the chateaux also had various types of live music, which was good to have a dance on the way round. Around 16 miles one of the wine fields was full of balloons that was just an amazing sight and at mile 20 there was a field that was full with about 8 different wine tables that looked like village fete. The last 3 miles is just one long stretch of road, that in the heat felt like it was twice as long as that but it had an Oyster stall about 1.5 miles from the finish and then an ice cream stop about half a mile from the end, I swear I have never appreciated an ice cream so much in my life.

At the end of the race we were given the best goodie back ever, a bottle of red wine and a Medoc marathon designed cool bag. After the race was finished there was only an hour until our coach was taking us back into Bordeaux and the car park was about a 20-minute walk away. Unfortunately, they had the worse organised bag drop ever and so I only had the chance to finish and get my bag and then head straight to the bus and so no party tent for me this year! Next time I would look to get the train back and so I would have time to chill out before having to head straight back. Cut off for this race is usually 6 hours 30 minutes but this year this was ended to 7 hours due to the heat. This is a race where you would want to be out on the course as long as possible and make the most of all the wine stops, there was one rose stop and one white wine and the rest are all red wines, I drank more red wine on this race than I have ever drank in my whole life! This race definitely has to go on the to do list for anyone that enjoys wine and fancy dress!

 

Burnham Beeches Half 2018

Good things happen to those who wait… and wait again… Race report by Ben Hart

The Burnham Beeches Half Marathon was a long time coming. The path which took to me to the start line was not a straight one, and certainly not simple.

As a few Roadrunners were aware, I was looking forward to the Reading Half in March, it being my first race. What is more, this run was part of two events in aid of the children’s charity, Dreams Come True, a cause I have raised money for previously.

Preparation for Reading had taken an unexpected turn for the worse when I sprained my ankle badly playing football at University back in January which left me with only a few weeks to resume any running.   Yet, to my disappointment Reading was cancelled for all except the barmy minority who still braved the streets of Berkshire to run their own 13.1.  So I set my sights on finding an alternative – The Gloucester Half Marathon. Roll on August but disappointment manifested itself again. The local council did not approve of changes to the course route and, as a result, Gloucester went the same way as Reading. I did begin to wonder if the running Gods were punishing for me for claiming a Reading finishers’ medal and t-shirt despite the event not taking place!

Quickly I discovered that it was all meant to be. Burnham took place a week after Gloucester should have done. My final training run took place on the day that I would have been running Gloucester and the extra week of prep allowed me to reach thirteen kilometres – the furthest I had run in this training stint with the sprained ankle still not being 100% and the focus of much physio. Eventually, and I do not use that word lightly, it all paid off.

With donations still rolling in, I put pressure on myself to succeed at Burnham. My stance on my unfortunate “run” to the start line was, “it’s been tough but these troubles are nothing compared to the battles which the children of Dreams Come True are fighting.” My second source of motivation was a work colleague of mine, Alex. Alex was training for a one-week cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, which would see him and two others complete approximately 150 miles a day. He advised me to watch an interview called “Driven” with an ex-Navy Seal called David Goggins, on the eve of the big day. I did, and Goggins did not disappoint. Goggins once completed an event called “The San Diego One-Day.” In short, participants run around a one-mile track and see how many miles they can complete in 24 hours. Goggins, built for heavy lifting and not long distance running, set out for 100 miles. For the last 19 miles, he ran with compression tape on his ankles and feet in an attempt to limit the pain he felt from multiple stress fractures.

With the children on one shoulder and Goggins on the other, I knew I was going to eat the thirteen miles in front of me for breakfast.

Early mornings are not generally familiar to me. As a University student, a 9 o’clock seminar is my worst nightmare, let alone a thirteen-mile race. My Mum deserves a mention for her efforts in helping me, not least when she prepared my breakfast of honey sandwiches, as I adopted her pre-race nutrition. Well fed, we arrived at Coldicot school and I was rather excited for the imminent challenge.

For the first few kilometres I was trying to settle down into my own pace, with Mum’s words of wisdom “run your own race” reverberating around my head. Another new phenomenon was the water pouches handed out to runners. My, are they hard work?! If anything, my inability to open the darn things made me chuckle as I pounded the woods of Buckinghamshire. At half way I felt strong and comfortable, confident that the second half of my race would be quicker than the first. After one more battle with the impossible pouches, the second half of the race seemed to fly by. I think it helped running a two-lap track as I could prepare mentally for the physical battle that was to come.

I desperately chased a time of sub 1:40 but missed out by twenty seconds, coming in at a time of 1:40:20. The sense of accomplishment upon crossing the line was one of my all-time sporting achievements.

I would not go as far to say that I have “caught the bug”, but I will definitely be wearing Roadrunners’ green (and blue shorts!) again in the future.

Roll on Reading 2019. I will be there to collect a medal that was truly earnt this time round!

Lets Go Fell Racing

An Insight Into 1990’s Fell Running– Report by Kathy Tytler

When I first started running in the early 1990s I used to run the Great North Run (GNR) every year.  I was born in Newcastle, so my journey to the north-east had a dual purpose; returning home to see the family and taking part in the 13.1 mile shuffle from Newcastle to South Shields.  One year there was an invitation in my race pack to take part in ‘The Great Mountain and Marathon Double’, running up and down the Simonside Hills in a Fell Race from Thropton, Northumberland the day before the GNR – a new experience for me that was too good to miss.

A group of Reading Roadrunners and our supporters (my mum and dad) went to Thropton Country Fair and some of us took part in the race.  Once the race left the village we were soon crossing a river, by running through it, then it was a steady climb.  At the top of Simonside, we scrambled over rocks before running back down, through the river again and into the show ground.  I was a little bit stiff for the GNR the next day, but as the race was always very crowded in my part of the field, there was never any chance of a PB, so it didn’t matter.  We got a special print on the back of our GNR T-shirts and I knew which race I enjoyed the most!

So after this I was on the look out for fell races, if possible within travelling distance of Reading!  I entered the Box Hill Fell Race in Surrey.  Driving there around the M25 it didn’t seem possible that there would be a fell racing landscape nearby, but suddenly the hill was there, rising steeply in front of us.  There is also a series of fell races in the Isle of Wight, which I took part in several years later.

Then there was the Goodrich Fell Race in 1996 which was a day trip for a group of us from Reading Roadrunners, which I reported on for our club newsletter: ‘How Not to come last in a fell race.’  For several years the Goodrich Fell Race was part of a double, with the Blaisdon Jelly Leg the next day.

It was a ‘proper’ fell race in the mountains of North Wales in 1998 which was the scene of my greatest fell racing glory; The Moelwyn Peaks Race.  I had been staying in Snowdonia for a week and I’d noticed that on the Saturday of my return home there was a race in Blaenau Ffestiniog, a 13 mile fell race.  It was soon after the other major highlight of my running career, it was the year I’d won the Compton 40 (first female), so no doubt I was feeling very confident.

I was feeling a little less confident after arriving at the race venue, explaining to the organisers that I was from Reading and I hadn’t done much fell running before, I asked them if I would be OK to run.  “Yes you’ll be fine,” I was assured as they pointed to three peaks clearly visible in a cloudless sky.  “See those three mountains there,” one man said, “It’s those three.”

It had snowed heavily during the week before and although the day was bright and sunny, and not too cold, there was plenty of snow on the ground as we climbed higher.  It was probably this combination of weather conditions that ensured my safety, or at least meant that I didn’t get lost.  The studded prints of a few dozen pairs of Walsh PBs are quite obvious in the snow.

I was at the back right from the beginning of the race, and I didn’t make up any ground at all.  But I didn’t make the same mistake as some runners who went up the wrong side of the first valley and were out of the race.  I was soon on my own, following footprints in the snow.  I did have a map and compass (and I do know how to use them), but I don’t think my brain would have been able to cope with that and trying to run up and down mountains at that time.  Approaching my second peak I had a strange experience; a woman was approaching from the other side and she recognised me.  “Hey, it’s Kathy,” she shouted, turning to a man who was walking a short distance behind her.  “What are you doing here?”  he demanded, “You’ve got a marathon next weekend!”  It was a senior engineer from work at Thames Water.  I was part of his London Marathon team raising money for WaterAid and he didn’t think a fell race was the best Marathon preparation, “You should be tapering!” he shouted.  I completed the London Marathon without any problems a week later.

There was a point where we came alongside a mountain road where there were marshals and drinks.  I asked them if I was last, and they confirmed that I was indeed last.  I them asked them if I was a long way behind everyone else, and they confirmed this too.  “Do you want me to retire?” I asked, almost hopefully.   “No, no, you carry on,” they were all very emphatic.  One of the marshals (an older man) accompanied me for a few hundred yards to make sure.  When I reached the road back in Blaenau Ffestiniog, the car with the marshals was returning and the same man got out and ran with me to the finish.

Although I was last by a very long way, they were all impressed by my performance; “coming from Reading an’ all!”  They said I deserved a trophy, and gave me ‘1st local veteran lady’ for which no finisher had qualified.  On hearing that I was driving back to Reading, the caretaker opened the showers especially for me.  I went into the local shop to buy some sweets for my journey home and I was greeted like a champion; “You’re the woman from Reading who’s just run the fell race!”  My fame had spread.

Later that week, at Reading Roadrunners, someone was studying Athletics Weekly.  My name was in the results!  I may have been last, but I was 4th female; there I was Kathy Tytler, Reading Roadrunners, placed in the Moelwyn Peaks Fell Race!   I’d featured in the results in Athletics Weekly and felt I’d made it as a runner!

 

Berlin Marathon: A view from the tail end of the field

AFTER the Berlin Marathon, our intrepid correspondent Andy Atkinson reports from the front line…

THE trouble with big races – there are so many participants it is hard to spot anyone. The trouble with marathons – the front runners have gone home, are in bed, or on the plane before the tail-enders finish. Thus it was with Berlin.

Some fantastic performances from our front-runners, Rob Corney, Brendan Morris and Gary Tuttle, but did we see them? No.

But just as we were returning from a post-run light lunch, who pops up, but Rob with his sis, Susie, who kindly agreed to take this photo!

Unable to escape in time, Rob was asked the inevitable: “How does it feel to take the RRs marathon championship?” and answered with usual modesty that it was an honour to be classed with such runners as the former champ. How was his run? “Great for the first 30km.”

Very heartening to hear that even champions fade on such a long run.

This interview begged a comment from the former champion, Keith Russell, who just happened to saunter into our departure lounge at TXL.

“How does it feel?” we ask again. More modesty from Keith: “Rob is a great runner and his achievement is well deserved.”

Asked if he will be back, Keith confirmed that he is returning to form and thinks he can get his times down. With Brendan not far behind, it should be an interesting couple of years. Keith was in Berlin to support the Roadrunners, showing great club spirit.

So, the highlights of the marathon viewed from the latter half of the pack…

The day before: In-line world championship skating at astonishing speeds. The winner covered the marathon course in 57.58.

The after-party: After presentations to Eliud Kipchoge, the new marathon world record holder and Gladys Cherono, the women’s winner, we did the best we could on the dance floor, but I had to admit defeat and retire well before the night was out. Past and present champions are made of sterner stuff and continued on into the night.

The bit in the middle: I entered the marathon ballot as part of the team “Aaron and the Andrews”. This was the result of a post-parkrun coffee… Mark was later to comment that it was the most expensive coffee he had ever had.

One Andrew and Aaron did pretty well at 3:28:18 and 3:27:45 respectively. The other Andrew (yours truly) was a little further behind at 4:38:19, so it was just as well there were no team prizes to lose. Mark and Aaron were a little disappointed with their performances, but it was hot and both are recovering from niggles and illness.

Although slower than my last two marathons I was quite pleased that I managed to finish strongly and get round without injury.

I am gearing up for the NYC Marathon, so this was a result in itself.

My better half, Liz, had another great run and was the only person I know to enjoy the experience and look relaxed from beginning to end.

Astonished to find herself accompanying a runner with a name (not a number) on his bib, she enquired further. “Ronaldo da Costa… what are you doing here at the back. Did you get up late?” (Ronaldo was the world marathon record holder in 1998 with a time of 2:06:05).

I think that did the trick as, after a few exchanges of where each other lived, he sped off never to be seen again. He finished in 4:03:59… not bad given that he was at the back for the first few miles.

Liz likes to talk her way around a course and was delighted to be accompanied and supported by Tony Eastaway for the first half of the run. She adds that Tony’s support helped her to a new marathon PB.

Tony had a difficult run, finishing in 6:07:29. With characteristic grit, he rallied at the end and finished well. I am sure the experience will be good preparation for his shot at the NYC Marathon in November.

Our group of runners were accompanied by a fantastic support crew including Louise Atkinson, Linda Wright, Veronica Andrew, Veronica’s mum and sister. Also running were our neighbours, Linda and Joella Flintoff, supported by Grant Flintoff.

Other supporters we know of include those mentioned above… Susie Corney, Keith Russell and Anna Richmond. It is the supporting teams as much as our fellow runners that make the race such a fantastic event.

And that’s not to mention the live bands on just about every corner of the route. Just as I was flagging at about kilometre 32, Purple Rain belted out from one of them. Was Prince reincarnated? From my position it was hard to tell, but the echo kept me going for a good few miles!

Overall, a five-star race not to be missed!

Corney’s record collection: Another one bites the dust

ROB CORNEY went yet another step towards rewriting the Reading Roadrunners record books when he set a new mark of two hours, 27 minutes and 27 seconds at the Berlin Marathon.

Already this season he had destroyed the old records at 5,000 metres, five miles, 10k (twice) and half-marathon.

For his latest trick Rob (below) shaved 21 seconds off the previous marathon mark set by Keith Russell in Amsterdam five years ago.

And on a great day for the club Keith was on hand to support his successor and break the news of his triumph with a post on our Facebook page.

Second Roadrunner through the Brandenburg Gate, and also in a personal best, was Brendan Morris in 2:38:53, and there were also PBs for Sam Hammond, with 3:31.30, and Liz Atkinson, with 5:39.15. Sam took a massive 16 minutes off his previous best and Liz (pictured below) went one better with 17.

Other Green Vests starring on the iconic German course were Gary Tuttle (3:07.29), Aaron Chai (3:27.45), Mark Andrew (3:28.18), Andy Atkinson (4:38.19), Colin Byers (4:58.54) and Anthony Eastaway (6:07.29).

Having taken over seven minutes off his previous best set in Dusseldorf last year, Rob revealed the secret of his success.

“I didn’t go into the race with Keith Russell’s record in mind,” he said. “I knew if I ran the splits I wanted I’d get it so I just put it to the back of my mind.

“I target 1km splits in races. They come up pretty quickly so it’s easier to stay in control of your pace. The plan was to hit 3:30min/km.

“Obviously the first 10k was slightly fast… no one needs negative splits anyway. I spotted Simon Goldsworthy (ex-Reading University) shortly after the start and crossed to run with him. We found ourselves in a nice little group going just above our target pace.

“Just after halfway Simon started to ease ahead and I, being sensible for once, held back with the group.

“As you can tell from my splits, 35-40k was a struggle and there were some pretty dark points where it was a battle to keep moving. But that’s why we run marathons, isn’t it?

“I saw Simon again and passed him at about 39k as he was going through a low patch and I’d managed to pull myself together.

“After that it was just a matter of trying to pick my feet up and run for the line.

“I think Keith Russell was more excited about my time than I was. He’s a great sport and unfailingly encouraging! I can’t wait to see Keith fit and racing well again.”

Former club men’s captain Keith said: “I have no mixed feelings about losing the record at all. Rob is a great guy who trains hard and is very supportive to everybody else so I was more than happy that he was the one to take my record.

“I’ve been rooting for him to do so for ages and, to be honest, I’ve held the record since May 2009 (before improving it myself in October 2013), so it’s about time somebody else had it. Hopefully Rob’s breakthrough is just the start of a glut of sub-2:30 marathon performances.”

After Sunday’s race, Rob joined the rest of his team-mates in a pub, and he said: “Brendan Morris, who ran another great race for a big PB, then put on his second magnificent performance of the day!”

Meanwhile the tributes poured in from club-mates on social media and men’s captain Phil Reay said: “I’m running out of superlatives for Rob Corney. He’s re-written the club’s history books this year. His hard work and dedication have really paid off.

“There were a couple of things from Berlin which really stand out and encapsulate the culture of the club and the good all-round people we have there.

“Firstly that our previous club marathon record holder Keith Russell was in Berlin genuinely willing Rob on to break the record and was the person to break the news.

“Secondly, Rob had an amazing day and the spotlight was on him, but he still made the time to congratulate another of our members on a PB in a 10k.”

So, what’s next for the club’s No.1 speedster after a year which has also seen him chalk personal bests at 15k, ten miles and parkrun as well as victory in a 60k ultra-marathon in Snowdonia?

Immediate targets include a half-marathon in Sweden and he has an entry in the Abingdon Marathon on October 21st.

By then, of course, the records books may have been rewritten again. I understand that Matt Richards, who was nine minutes quicker than Corney in the London Marathon in April, is confident of running a very good time in the Chicago Marathon on October 7th.

And Mark Worringham, fresh from his 11th-place finish in the M40 marathon at the World Masters Championships in Malaga at the weekend, will be chasing another good time in the Chester Marathon on the same day.

Will Keith Russell, far from fully fit at the moment, bid to get his record back? “Of course. That goes without saying.”

Reading Dragon Boat Festival

RR’s Dragon McDragonboat – Report by Jennifer Holmes

 

20 teams gallantly entered the 2018 Reading Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 19th August, including our very own Dragon McDragonboat, comprising of 17 of RR’s finest athletes.

Well, almost…. Some of the Dragon McDragonboat crew had been out the previous night and only returned home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. They were, obviously, very tired, and averse to sunlight, loud noises, the smell of food – even moving was difficult for them. Some didn’t make the 08h30 start time and quite a few were probably over the drink-paddle limit. Pete the builder was even grumpy. Poor loves.

But the rest of us – our bodies are a temple – were rearing to go. Admittedly, we were a rather motley lot, not easily identifiable as we had no uniform or cool outfits (did you see the pics of Darth Vader & his Imperial Guards…and Peter Higgs’ team in purple wigs? We definitely need to re-think our look for the 2019 competition.) But we were brimming with enthusiasm, under the leadership of the lovely Hannah. Having participated in the 2017 event, Hannah wanted us to beat the 1:03 race time achieved by RRs previously, and we were confident we could rise to the challenge. As a great ‘team building’ event, with no experience required, we felt certain our physical and mental preparedness as runners would give us the competitive advantage over the lardy office-based worker teams.

The day started with quite some warm-up. Some lithe firecracker leapt onto the stage and put us through our paces. We had to limber up for the races, she said. I started to feel a little frightened at this point, to be honest. Just how much paddling was actually involved if we needed a workout like this…? The other issue was that she was on a clean, flat stage, whilst we were rolling around on wet, lumpy goose-poo grass. Most of the Dragon McDragonboaters weren’t sufficiently fit or supple to get through the warm-up and had to retire to our marquee early for a rest. And a bacon butty and more water. Some needed a nap. Some of the team were also interviewed by the famous Debbie McGee for her radio station, BBC Radio Berkshire.

 

We were in the first race. Boat 3, I was the drummer. We had our safety briefing, put on buoyancy aids, and attempted to board our dragonboat. This is very dangerous. The boat wobbled every time one of our athletes climbed on & there was definitely a lack of coordination staying seated & holding the paddle whilst trying not to capsize. But we made it and cast off, ready for our first race. Being the drummer is a very important role. You are there to help the team coordinate their strokes, to increase the paddle RPMs, and to give encouragement. Nobody takes a blind bit of notice of you. It was each to their own, hacking into the Thames as if the excess splashing and gnashing of paddles would improve our speed. Result Race 1: 1 minute, 25 seconds (second place in our heat). The crew felt relief and elation, but Hannah was doing the maths. How were we going to beat the previous year’s result…?

After a lengthy period of rest and recovery, the RR Dragon McDragonboaters were on the water again, this time under the command of Pete the Builder. What could possibly go wrong… Well, our improved time of 1 minute, 15 seconds (second place in our heat) was less to do with the drummer and more to do with the extra paddle power and coordination. Our helmsman was from way up North and we were rather terrified of this giant. No mucking about on this race. Other than Pete Cooke, who decided he didn’t need his paddle and it had to be retrieved by the Safety Boat somewhere near Henley. Pete claims to have participated in the race and alleges he only lost his paddle after the finish when Sheryl Higgs viciously knocked it from his hands, but I know Sheryl and she is all sweetness. Next year, I suggest we put a neck strap on Pete’s paddle, like a camera, and he’ll do much better.

Well, you would think that by Race 3, we would have nailed this dragonboating malarkey, that hangovers would have subsided and the competitive nature of us runners would lead us to victory, but you would be wrong. Race 3: 1 minute, 26 seconds (last in our heat, by quite some way). I’m not saying that it was because we had a new crew member in Kevin Bilsby, because lots of things went horribly wrong in our final race and I don’t think we should just blame Kevin. Poor Hannah. We had really let her down. Well, we had let ourselves down. None of us looked up when paddling, there was zero coordination in our strokes, I think we were exhausted from having to use our upper bodies so much. We are runners after all.

Feeling a little deflated by our poor performance but exhilarated we wouldn’t have to do another race as we were a good 15 seconds off the teams in the Finals, we had a debrief of the day and came out with a few points to take away with us. We learned:

  1. There is no ‘I’ in TEAM, only in Idiot.
  2. TEAM stands for: Together Everyone Achieves More.
  3. Hydration (of the non-alcoholic variety) is key.
  4. Sleep is essential (more than 2 hours after a party, preferably).
  5. There is more to life than winning.
  6. Stick to running; dragonboating is perhaps not our thing.
  7. Don’t have anyone called Pete on your team, definitely not 2 Petes.

And, quite fascinating, was that the course length this year was longer than in 2017 and there was no way we would break the RR PB of 1:03. Happy Hannah!

So, well done, awesome Dragon McDragonboaters. A great time was had by most of us and, hopefully, those whose bodies were in a (self-inflicted) sub-optimum state are now fully recovered and will know better next time. Or not!

Dragon McDragonboat Team Leader: Hannah McPhee

Dragon McDragonboat Team: Angharad Shaw, Cullum Ross, Neil Fenwick, Juliet Fenwick, Sheryl Higgs, Sophie Higgs, Kerry Eastwood, Pete Cooke, Maureen Sweeney, Tony Long, Caroline Jackson, Paul Monaghan, Pete Morris, Jenny Gale, Neil Carpater, Jen Holmes & Kevin Bilsby.

Snowdonia Trail Marathon 2018

Snowdonia Trail Marathon – Sunday 15th July– Report by Caroline Hargreaves

 

The Marathon started at 9am and after a brief run through the village centre we hit the first ascent which goes on for about 3.5 miles and it a brutal way to start the race. After finally reaching the top there is a brief downhill until you reach a turnstile, which is the only way to cross over one of the farmers land and because of that there was quite a que of people getting across. Once across the turnstile you can finally stretch your legs and get some downhill running, crossing over grass and bogs and you get to see some stunning views of the countryside. Not for long though as not far around the corner was a slate hill where you had to climb over a huge pile of slate. After that climb we were running on flat land until the check point at 6 miles. Once through the check point and realising how long it had taken to complete the first few miles myself, Pete Morris and Suzanne Bates knew that we needed to get going if we were going to make the checkpoint at 2:15, which we were told was at 18.8 miles at Pen y Pass. The next 10 miles were undulating with plenty of turnstiles to climb over, hills to go up and down, stone tracks, gravel paths and thin trails to run through including running around a beautiful lake at mile 13.

At 17 miles we had 35 minutes till cut off and felt that this was enough time to get there on time, however I was not expecting that the next few miles were going to be so brutal! Incredibly steep hill that just seemed to go on and on and on and at 2.15 I was at 19 miles and the cut off was no-where in sight, feeling incredibly deflated I thought I had missed the cut off but just had to keep on going as I was determined to complete the race. I finally reached the check point at 2:28 and was happy to know that the cut off time had been extended until 3pm and so I was all good to carry on. Pete Morris was already there waiting and Suzanne came in just after and we were told we were ok to go and we were the last people to leave to climb Snowdon. All runners after us were told they could not continue.

Now the hard work started, the first part of the climb is large rock boulders that you can step up, once at the top we went around the side of the mountain and had 3 tough miles to the top. The inclines just kept on coming and coming and at some points you had to physically climb on your hands and knees to get up. Finally, we reached the top, absolutely shattered all I had in my head is that I needed to finish and I needed to finish as so as I could and so from somewhere I managed to get the energy to run all the way to the finish, physically my body was absolutely broken but mentally I knew I was going to finish and so I put my big girls pants on and just ran. I finished in 9:22:13.

The Ultra has 7000ft of climbing over 60km and this was the first year that the event has held an Ultra distance. The race was won by Reading Roadrunner Rob Corney in a fantastic time of 5:56:05 The Ultra was also ran by Peter Higgs who is now the only person that has ran all 4 distances at this event and he came in at 12:12:58. In total there were only 151 entrants and 15 of them DNF which shows just how tough the course is.

The half marathon takes a different route up to the top that doesn’t involve climbing, however is still the toughest half marathon that I have ever completed and was taken on this year by numerous Roadrunners. Clive Bates, Chloe Lloyd, Amanda Rosser, Tina Woffington, Sarah Richmond-Devoy, Veronika Royle, Andy Dingle, Nicola Gillard, Kathy Tyler, Helen Grieves, Linda Wright, Hannah McPhee, Sarah Drew and Gill Manton. And Chris Manton tackled the 10k.

 

If I could sum this race up in one word it would be BRUTAL!! However, it was one of the most stunning courses I have ever done and is both mentally and physically challenging. If you are looking for a challenge I would recommend this race. Just make sure you enter nice and early and book your accommodation as both sell out incredibly quickly.

Buley, madly, deeply! How Gemma wowed Wycombe

GEMMA BULEY was the big winner at the eighth round of the Reading Roadrunners’ club championship, the Wycombe 10k.

Gemma was first lady home at Adams Park and led our girls to take the team prize.

In doing so she moved up to 199 points and pretty much sewed up this year’s senior ladies title.

Gemma finished 22nd overall in 46 minutes 20 seconds, just 36 seconds and one place ahead of Katherine Sergeant, who also came first of the F40s.

Melanie Shaw, fourth lady overall, and Sally Carpenter helped Roadrunners clinch the four-to-score team award.

Paloma Crayford rounded off a day of success as the first F50 finisher.

Also among the age group winners was Alan Freer, who didn’t let a heavy fall stop him from collecting the M60 prize.

“It was a real pleasure to chase Alan round the course,” said Gemma, “although he gave me a fright when he fell over about 7k in. He was incredible descending on those hills and he jumped straight up, completing the course with blood trickling down his face and knees.

“I’m in absolute awe of him. He gave me a good run all the way round.”

Alan said: “I was only on the ground for about five seconds.” At the finish he still had well over three minutes in hand over his main F60 opposition, Marlow Striders captain Mike Thompson.

Alan had already made sure of the F60 championship but was still chasing points in the ‘all racers positioned by age grade’ title race.

Gemma was quick to praise her team-mates’ achievements. “I was so pleased for Mel Shaw contributing to winning the team prize as she says she never wins anything. She did so well in the heat.

“Katherine carried her water round, offering it to me out on the course. Such lovely team spirit as always in the Roadrunners.”

Gemma was also on hand to accept the second-place team prize for Roadrunners’ men as our four stars had already left the Wycombe Wanderers ground.

The successful foursome was Andrew Smith, Tom Peirson-Smith, Paul Kerr and, first home in his debut event in our colours, James Rennie.

Sixteen-year-old James was sixth to finish overall in a time of 42:14. Bearing in mind that almost everyone was about five minutes over par over a challenging trails course on a stinking hot day, that shows he is proving a very useful recruit.

Andrew Smith’s performance took him to 200 points and the guarantee of at least a share of the men’s V40 title.

Ninth overall, his team prize followed key roles in both the club’s recent relay triumphs on the Ridgeway and at Runnymede.

There are also new leaders in the M50 (David Fiddes) and M65 (Andy Atkinson) title races, as well as at senior level (Chris Buley).

But Chris (left), hampered in this race by a knee injury, was not celebrating like his wife. He knows what  he has to do to take the title, but he has a sense of foreboding about what’s coming next.

“Rob Corney is running against me at the Englefield 10k,” he said. Good luck with that, Chris!

Englefield is on August 26th but the next round of the championship is the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon on August 12th.

That event is listed as a ‘road’ race…. but then so was the Wycombe 10k! Someone misinformed our excellent championship organiser….

*Our main picture shows Mel Shaw, Katherine Sergeant and Gemma Buley bookended by race officials.

*Results: http://racetimingsolutions.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16269&RId=909&EId=1

*Standings after round eight are on the club championship page.

Endure 24 (Part 2) Leeds

Race Report: Darren Lewis.

Following a thoroughly enjoyable race in Reading with a speedy team, a post on the busy Endure24 Chat Facebook caught my eye. A team from the Midlands were short of runners and appealing for somebody to stop in and give them confidence to take part. I wasn’t fully-recovered from six hard laps (yes solo runners only 6) at Wasing Park, but thought: Why not? Meet some new people, feel good about helping out, no pressure and a stack more miles in the legs.

On arrival at a sweltering Bramham Park I found the Midland Deaf Team. They’d already setup a caravan and a few tents set up in the motorhome area. This was a result as I was able to park my car in our camp for the duration. Even better – pasta was cooking and my new pals insisted I scoff a few platefuls. Carbs consumed, we promptly found the bar and chatted more about the Midlands than race tactics. They all live near Rugby and, hailing from Coventry, I used to play rugby against Old Laurents RFC where a few of them are active members. It is a small world. There were hearing folk among their party that were able to translate my drivel. We got on like a house of fire – so much so we’ve entered Leeds 2019 together. They are also coming to Reading for the first time next year.

About Endure

For those that dont know Endure 24 is billed as Glastonbury for runners with camping, music and food. You can run or walk it as a team, a pair or solo and you have 24 hours to complete as many laps of the five mile trail as you can or want to. There are marshals every couple of kms and a fuel station half way round the lap. Encouraging signs point the way and fairy lights adorn trees, buildings and the odd marshal. There’s amazing support, slick organisation and a festival-like event village with thumping dj tunes, food, trade stands, music, showers and a massage tent.

The Leeds course

The Bramham course felt marginally faster than Reading with nothing like Heartbreak Hill to zap the legs. The chalky tracks were looser underfoot creating far more dust and reflecting so much light that sunglasses were essential. It was, in my opinion, mentally harder. With less distinct chunks than Reading and it felt more relentless.

The loop starts with largely downhill first kilometre along a tree-lined track and under the first ENDURE24 banner. This is followed by a drag uphill (similar to first km at Reading) through woods before flattening out past the Temple of the Lead Lads, which is adorned with fairy lights overnight. Then there’s an open section leading downhill to Temptation Corner, where the SKAbus was parked and Cliff and Mark Saunders from Roadrunners danced around to Madness for the whole event while handing out shots of energy drink. Up a rise to the first gazebo where marshals in hula skirts danced urging runners on towards The Deep, Dark Wood – the only cool area and a short but welcome break from the dusty gravel. Slight downhill to Shambles Café, a water station offering Clif Shot Blocks marked half way. The fastest descent follows before a sharp little incline to the next marshal point in a copse. Back into the open and onto Festival Field. Then a long stretch that was the hottest part of the course. Round a bend then another descent past another giant ENDURE sign, up an incline onto another tree lined path. From there the start/finish is in sight, under a Mizuno banner and past a giant inflatable trainer before a dip and rise to the end of the lap.

My laps

After the kind of night’s sleep that’s normal on cider and a roll mat, the scorching weather saw us up early and deciding on our race plan. The team decided to set me off first with no real idea how many laps we’d each complete.

In the race village I found a few more green vests. Rachel Derry and John Saunders were both running solo. I promised to run with them during the night. Sorry guys. Next time I’ll take a pen, note phone numbers and discover where tents are before it gets dark. The start was like a big city marathon with a Mizuno gantry and chip timers. For a wally like me that means adrenaline overdrive. True to form, I nudged my way to the front and set off far faster than sensible as the crowds hollered and music blasted out. There’s something about chasing a lead car that does funny things to a deluded forty-something – even on one of the hottest weekend of the year!  The exact same 3:30 km I kicked-off with at Reading. Way, way too fast, but plenty of coverage for the green vest on the Endure start videos. A solid first lap coming in about 10th.

Back to the tents for banter and rest, then two laps back-to-back. Our predicted first lap times had been fairly accurate. I was running laps in around half of some of the others. Folk were wanting to stay out of the sun and they were keen to ensure I got a decent number of laps in/similar time on the course. A couple laps overnight (one of these after text as I into not my sleeping bag asking if I’d be happy go again as others were falling apart), saw my fastest runs as the temperature had dropped and breathing was easier. The Leeds course was far more predictable underfoot, so easier to hammer it wearing a head torch.

My final loop was around 11am before we joined arms for the celebratory team run through the finish.

Another 30 miles solid running under my belt, off precious little training, a huge amount of fun, new friends and signed-up of both Endures next year.

For comparison my lap times were as follows (in both cases saving just enough breath to mutter encouragement to pretty much everyone on every lap):

Leeds: 33:09, 33:13, 34:38, 32:37, 34:18, 34:23

Reading: 32:39, 32:49, 33:26, 35:10, 33:25, 34:43