Big Roadrunners turn-outs for a weekend of double mudbaths

SAM WHALLEY reports on another busy weekend of cross-country racing…

Mud, mud, glorious mud, was the theme for the weekend as a total of 63 Reading Roadrunners lined up for the Hampshire and Thames Valley Cross Country Leagues, including Chloe Lloyd, Tony Page, Jon Green, Stuart Lunn and myself, who braved the double.

After the recent heavy rain leading up to Saturday, Prospect Park, the venue for the Hampshire League, was as muddy as we’d ever seen it, and those without spikes were relieved to have managed to remain upright on the undulating course. It was something of a baptism of fire for Eoin McLeod, running his first ever XC race.

Leading the way for the men was Ben Paviour (right),  in an excellent 12th place (second vet, first V50), backed up by Ryan O’Brien (23rd), Dave Boulton (39th), Chris Burt (54th) and Mark Worringham (57th, 11th vet), bringing the men’s team home in sixth. The final scorer for the vets team was Lance Nortcliff (18th vet, fourth V50), giving the vets team second place.

First to finish for the women was Kat Charles (left) in an impressive 24th place, followed by Helen Pool (44th, 12th vet) and Chloe Lloyd (51st), to give the women’s team eighth. 

Completing the vets team behind Helen were Ann Rostern (29th vet, tenth V50) and myself (34th vet, 12th V50), making the vets team fifth.

Hardly surprising that this local fixture produced the highest turn-out and the best team performances of the season so far.

Similar numbers at Popham, on February 11th and Bournemouth on March 4th, could save the men from relegation from Division 1. 

For full results, and current team standings, visit https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2023/20230114_hlmen.html and https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/results/2023/20230114_hlwomen.html.

It was Matt Sarjent (below) who led the green vests home at Sunday’s mudfest in Lightwater Country Park, finishing in 11th place. In support for the men’s team were Fergal Donnelly (15th), Dimi Gospodinov (35th), Gavin Rennie (61st), Tony Page (65th) and Ian Giggs (66th). The men’s team was sixth.

Scoring for the women were Pip White (16th, right), Chloe Lloyd (25th), Mary Janssen (30th) and Claire Marks (43rd), with the women’s team also sixth. 

This overall team ranking of fifth puts the club in third leading into the final event of the season at ‘the hilly one’, Handy Cross, this coming Sunday.

Full results are here: http://www.tvxc.org.uk/results/team?race_id=108.

Thank you to everyone who turned up to run this weekend, and to the supporters who helped create the team spirit.

It’s not too late to take part in the XC Championship. Rules are here: https://readingroadrunners.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/RR-XC-Club-ChampsRules2022-2023.pdf and latest standings will be available here soon: https://readingroadrunners.org/2022/03/tvxc-results/

Here’s some links to photo albums from the weekend’s races…

https://m.facebook.com/david.priddy.58/albums/689009572690231/

https://flickr.com/photos/131942305@N02/sets/72177720305249275

https://drive.google.com/drive/mobile/folders/1SXRvgrCtJVRHbQqrc7AwvREuiarqWdVC?usp=share_link&fbclid=IwAR3nG0-_ucYBfkschB-GzoTX2UHjfeA8swz85HEWCwvix9y7u8p5zfP9RVI

Tidings of comfort and joy as Jacob’s cracker earns county call

Define ‘finger-in-every-pie’! SAM WHALLEY is not only the Roadrunners’ chair but also the secretary of the Berkshire Athletics’ XC section and a top runner herself as well as an ace reporter for this website. Here’s her offering from the weekend action…

Reading Roadrunners braved the freezing conditions at the Berkshire Cross-Country Championships yesterday, with medal-winning performances from our vets.

On a lapped ‘lumpy’ 10k course around fruit fields at Cookham, Under 20 Jacob Atwal came fifth in his 8k race, with Ryan O’Brien 13th in the senior race, which was won by GB steeplechaser Zak Seddon.

Both Jacob and Ryan received invitations to run for Berkshire at the Inter-Counties XC Championships at Loughborough in March, Ryan currently a reserve. Completing the fifth-placed senior team were Nathan Davies (27th) and Dimi Gospodinov (35th).

But it was bronze medal glory for Chris Burt, Fergal Donnelly (first V50) and Tony Page, who finished as third V35 team, a result only corrected after the event. That meant they were denied their moment on the metaphorical podium. 

Helen Pool was our only female entrant, finishing an excellent 12th in the 8k race, and picking up an individual medal for third V35 with her reserve place for Berkshire.

It was the second consecutive week that our vets were in medal-winning action, after the SEAA Masters XC Championships in Horspath last Saturday. 

In rather different weather conditions, the V60s team of Jane Davies, Tracey Lasan and Cecilia Csemiczky won gold, with Jane first V60 and Tracey third.

The men’s V50 team of Fergal Donnelly, Lance Nortcliff and Tony Page was third, with Ben Paviour first V50, running for his first-claim club, Herne Hill.

The women’s V50 team (Ann Rostern, Sam Whalley and Becky Mellor) managed fifth — even with Ann mistaking the women lined up for youngsters, missing the gun completely, and starting the race behind everyone else!

Helen Pool (seventh V40) and Claire Seymour were an incomplete team. Pete Jewell was eighth V60.

  • There’s plenty more XC action for everyone in the New Year — starting with the Hampshire League event at Prospect Park on January 14th and the sixth race in the TVXC at Bracknell the following day.

Remembrance Day? Roadrunners won’t forget this one in a hurry!

Following the success of our own Thames Valley Cross Country League event at Ashenbury, yesterday’s race at Datchet was another triumph for the club. SAM WHALLEY has the inside story…

Reading Roadrunners took the overall win in the TVXC fixture at Datchet this weekend, with the women in first place and the men in third.

As is the tradition, the race started at 11.02, following a two-minute silence for Remembrance Day. The backdrop of Windsor Castle and the distant sound of church bells and the Last Post made this very moving.

Definitely the flattest and most trail-like of the XC courses, with even some concrete path, this is a popular fixture with our members, and 58 turned up to take part.

First of our women to finish was Sarah McDade, second female overall, with Nikki Gray in third, Holly Sedgwick seventh and Helen Pool (left) tenth, with both Holly and Helen first-timers at TVXC. This was the second consecutive win for the women’s team, a fantastic result. 

Keith Russell was our first male scorer, in eighth, with Matt Sarjent (16th), Nathan Davies (17th), Fergal Donnelly (24th), Brendan Russell (29th) and Callum Evans (33rd) completing the scoring team to round off another great result — third behind Maidenhead and Datchet.

Those of us further down both the men’s and women’s fields will have helped keep other teams’ scores down, so it really does make a difference if we get big teams out for these XC events.

The weekend was a double-header for many members, after the start of the Hampshire League season in Aldershot on Saturday.

In what was a huge turnout of 196 runners, the women lined up alongside the likes of Steph Twell for their race, made up of loops of grass and woodland.

First scorer was Helen Pool (67th, tenth vet), with newcomer Isobel Nicklin (85th) and Ann Rostern (91st, 21st vet) making up the scoring senior team, which was tenth. Sam Whalley (156th, 50th vet) was the final scorer for the vets team, which was seventh. Cecilia Csemiczky was our fifth team member on the day, in contrast to Aldershot, Farnham and District’s 28 runners.

A huge 296 runners finished the men’s race, which was again heavily weighted towards host club AFD, with 40 of their members taking part, and seven of them in the first ten!

Our eight-man team did us proud in this totally stacked field, with some entertaining battles towards the finish. First scorer was Ryan O’Brien (40th), followed by Mark Worringham (80th, ninth vet), Chris Burt (102nd), Lance Nortcliff (129th, 24th vet) and Dimi Gospodinov (149th), for a seniors team placing of tenth. Tony Page completed the vets scoring team in 156th (38th vet), with the vets team 6th.

This was a tough but incredibly enjoyable day at the office, with team spirit in abundance and a brilliant atmosphere.

First-timer Isobel (left) said: “As a new member of Reading Roadrunners, I signed up to the first Hampshire XC League race of the season. The day was really enjoyable, there was a huge range of abilities racing which is always great to see.

“During the race there was lots of cheering from the men’s team which I really appreciated as it was the first time I had met most of the other Reading Roadrunners; they were all very welcoming. The atmosphere for the event was fantastic, you could tell everyone was really enjoying it.

“The highlight for me had to be Sam’s brownies and Pete’s sausage rolls! I will definitely be competing in another one soon.”

With that kind of feedback, what are you waiting for? Let’s keep the momentum going with the next TVXC fixture in Sandhurst on November 27th and the Hampshire League in Bournemouth on December 3rd. Look out for final details in your emails/spam and on social media.

Thank you and well done to everyone who represented the club this weekend, especially those who joined me for the double: Dimi Gospodinov, Tony Page, Mike Worsfold, Helen Pool and Cecilia Csemiczky (right).

An album of Eddie Thorpe’s pictures from the Aldershot race can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/b68Wn8fAAPGeq8kD7

Go to hampshireathletics.org.uk  and tvxc.org.uk/league-results for all the weekend’s results.

Ryan mighty! Roadrunners storm to a massive double home win

Today’s TVXC event in Woodley was a triumph for Reading Roadrunners in every respect. Proud club chair SAM WHALLEY has filed this report to mark a special occasion…

Reading Roadrunners were out in force at the second Thames Valley Cross Country League fixture of the season, which we hosted.

The course, at Ashenbury Park in Woodley, was lacking in mud in this earlier slot in the calendar, but that made for some fast running.

There was no beating TVT’s guest runner Jess Gibbon, the reigning English national XC champion, but recent returner to RR, Ryan O’Brien (left), made an excellent XC debut for the season, finishing as second male.

With Steve Ridley (right) in third, Ben Paviour fourth, Dave Boulton eighth, Fergal Donnelly 16th and Matt Sarjent 17th, the team easily took first place, their combined 50 points being way ahead of second-placed Datchet’s 131.

Not to be outdone, the women also fielded their most competitive team of the season so far. Nikki Gray (below), running her first XC race in years, stormed home as fourth female, with Sarah McDade and new member Kat Charles in fifth and sixth. Sarah Dooley completed the scoring team, in 12th, giving the women a total score of 27, and their first win, again ahead of Datchet, whose women amassed 50 points.

After two races this puts us in sight of the top of the  league and shows what we can achieve if we all pull together.

A great turn-out of 61 Roadrunners meant other non-scoring members will have affected the scores of the other clubs. Every single runner was a valued member of the team.

Well done to everyone who ran, to race director Jamie Smith, and a big thank-you to all of the volunteers who made the event happen.

Let’s hope we can have another great turn-out of runners in the next TVXC race at Datchet on November 13th.

Here’s a link to the Ashenbury results: http://www.tvxc.org.uk/results/team?race_id=105

And thanks to Nigel Hoult for his brilliant Flickr album from the race, which you can access at https://flickr.com/photos/33143388@N04/sets/72177720303279875

Three and easy: Princess Sarah has another great day out in London

 Roadrunners were out in force when the first race of the 2022 cross-country season was contested at Hillingdon and club committee chair SAM WHALLEY was there with her notebook and pen as well as her running shoes. Here’s her report…

Sarah Dooley’s London Marathon PB a week ago must have been perfect preparation for the XC season as she took the third-placed female spot in the Thames Valley XC League’s opening fixture, hosted by Metros. In fact she scored as second as the race was won by Jess Gibbon, the national cross-country champion, running as a guest for Thames Valley Triathletes.

The course was the usual two laps, each including the infamous ski slope and (thankfully shallow) stream, but this year distinctly lacking in mud.

Having signed up after a late plea for more women for take part, Sarah (right) — who was 76th overall — could have done with more support at the sharp end of the race. Second female home for was club was me (218th), followed by Gemma Higgs (230th), with Sarah Richmond-Devoy (275th) surprised to find herself completing the scoring team for the first time.

There were 19 runners in the RR men’s team, to contrast the women’s ten, and it was Ben Paviour (below) who led them home in an excellent seventh place.

Behind him, the rest of the team was fairly closely packed, with Fergal Donnelly (23rd), first-timer Nathan Davies (29th), Tony Page (30th), Brendan Russell (39th), and Dimi Gospodinov (43rd) making up the scorers.

Also making their TVXC debuts for the club were Mark Allen, 40 years after his last XC outing, and Chris Webber, who, as a farmer, will be no stranger to mud. Well done to everyone who ran.

Full results from Hillingdon are available via this link: http://www.tvxc.org.uk/results/team.

They show that our men finished third, the women eighth and the RR team fourth overall.

XC races are huge team events, with every runner’s position affecting our team score or those of the other squads.

The next XC event will be our home fixture, at Ashenbury Park in Woodley, on Sunday October 30th, so let’s aim for a big turn-out there. We will also need volunteers on the day.

The club’s XC championship requires runners to participate in a minimum of five TVXC or Hampshire League races during the season, at least one of which must be a TVXC race.

Volunteering at our home fixture counts towards an individual’s score in the club championship. As the saying goes: “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” Here’s a link to the champs rules… https://readingroadrunners.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/RR-XC-Club-ChampsRules2022-2023pdf

  • There were good performances by Roadrunners all around the world today, with our members contesting marathons in Hungary, Bulgaria, Majorca and the United States.
  • Highlight was a nine-minute PB by Ollie Watts in Chicago (3:07.16). A couple of second-claimers also ran well, Brendan Morris chalking up a half-marathon PB with 1:13.44 in Manchester and Chris Moseley finishing second at the Henley Half.

Hannah and her sisters become county Christmas crackers

Reading Roadrunners’ senior women’s team captured first prize at this year’s county championships, writes Sam Whalley.

 Hannah Green (fifth), Katie Rennie (17th) and new Roadrunner Mireia Garcia (19th) picked up gold medals for their efforts, and will also collect the first ever senior women’s trophy, recently acquired to match that awarded to the senior men.

Hannah has also qualified to represent Berkshire in the Inter-Counties Championships in Loughborough in March.

In the men’s race earlier, Jack Gregory finished eighth to secure his qualification to run for Berkshire in the Inter-Counties.

Some results remain provisional but list Chris Lucas as tenth — just missing out on a county vest — with Fergal Donnelly and Ben Ashby battling it out for 24th (sixth vet) and 25th, respectively.

Both men and women competed over a 10k course around the Copas PYO fruit farm in Cookham.

Official results can now be found at https://www.thepowerof10.info/results/results.aspx?meetingid=439608

Our pics show golden girls Hannah, Mireia and Katie plus Fergal and Ben battling it out with the Wargrave runner Richard Bookless.

Races are back… and Apsey’s so quick to beat the Easter traffic

Post-lockdown racing resumed over the Easter weekend — and immediately there was plenty of success for Reading Roadrunners.

Although neither of the usual Easter favourites, the Maidenhead 10 and Beaconsfield 5, took place there was a new-look Mortimer 10k over a multi-terrain course which finished with victory for Mark Apsey.

Mark survived a near-miss with a swerving car near the finish before pipping Reading Joggers’ star Alex Whearity in the last few metres to win in 36mins 48secs.

A delighted Mark said:  “What with being overworked and a mix of aches and pains, I have not trained much in the last month. I didn’t expect anything under 38 or 39 minutes so I was pleased to run the time I did on a gruelling woodland trail route that included plenty of dog-lead dodging and, on the second lap, runner congestion.”

The RR glory weekend had kicked off with Super Sarah Dooley braving the vicious Dorney Lake headwinds to clinch a place in the London Marathon Championship with 3:14.00.

PBs there, too, for Paul Morrissey and Lorna McLeod and a V60 third-place for Alan Freer, while Ben Fasham improved his half-marathon PB at Kempton Park.

Some of the south’s best 5k runners were out in force in Sussex on Easter Monday for the Ardingly PB5k and Alex Harris duly obliged by taking four seconds off his best and improving his club V50 age group record to 17.33.

To give you some idea of the quality of the fields at this graded meeting, Jack Gregory ran 15.14 in the elite race where you had to run sub-16 to finish in the top 100.

Despite the cancellation of this year’s Shinfield 10k there will soon b    e plenty of other local races taking place soon, although for the next couple of months they will still all be staged under Covid restrictions (see Roadmap, below).

Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap expires on April 12th and the club plans to restart track sessions at Palmer Park from Wednesday, April 14th.

Below is a new-look calendar of events for the rest of the year. It doesn’t claim to be comprehensive but should cover most of the races which have proved popular with our members over the last few years.

Some of them have been postponed from their traditional spring dates to later in the year, making the autumn particularly busy. There should be a big race round here for everyone in October, but that won’t stop Roadrunners rocking up mob-handed at the Boston Marathon.

One of the anomalies thrown up by the modified schedule is the Farnborough Winter Half Marathon taking place on July 4th. Hopefully there won’t be a blizzard during the race this year!

Another new date is May 23rd for the 2020 Gutbuster. Normally a Christmas highlight, it was called off in December and again in February but is sure to be a sell-out whenever it’s staged.

There are more reasons to be cheerful in May, particularly with the return of the Barnes Fitness Summer Series. Events run by Ellie and Ian Gosling (left) always have a great vibe and this year the Dinton runfest comes with a virtual option (barnesfitness.co.uk).

May 16th sees the staging of the RunReading Half Marathon (racesolutions.co.uk) round the Caversham/Mapledurham loop as well as a full marathon and 50k ultra through the Goring Gap.

These two longer races are already sold out and the start lists include plenty of Roadrunners, as well as a certain Bradley Cooper. Not the Bradley Cooper, surely?

Hollywood A-listers have been the least of the worries during the lockdowns for race directors such as Racesolutions boss Chris Sumner.

“The problem for organisers is that we require enough notice to make arrangements for the races,” he said. “So it’s one thing being told potentially that all restrictions will be lifted by June 21st and that some events can take place from March 29th but, without having certainty about this, booking the various services and paying for them is a big risk.

“If we do this and they then say we cannot go ahead then we potentially lose tens of thousands of pounds.”

That was why Chris set a stand-by date of the weekend beginning July 23rd for the southern version of Endure 24 and was able to accommodate a late switch from June and a move from Wasing Park to Henley.

Another huge event from the Racesolutions stable is the Wokingham Half Marathon, which has transported from its traditional February slot to September 19th. This version promises a new route through the town centre.

Before that comes the putative return of parkrun on June 5th. Good luck to the volunteers trying to keep that socially distanced!

Conspicuous by its absence from my list is the Vets Track and Field League. Club organiser Chris Manton tells me he has yet to hear of any fixtures for that series. 

I’m sure Roadrunners will be entering some strong squads for the British Masters Road Relays at Sutton Coldfield in September, although there’s no news yet on the 12 and 6-stage Road Relays.

Track Friday supremo Fergal Donnelly tells me that he and Tony Canning are confident of staging some of their popular 5k events after the summer holidays period. Here’s the list of selected races:

APRIL

25: Goodwood Festival of Running

MAY

 1: Newbury Racecourse 5k, 10k, HM

 2: Henley Trail 10k and HM

 9: Oxford Town & Gown 10k

 9: Jigsaw 10k

13: Dinton Summer Series (race 1)

16: Reading Riverside HM, Goring Gap 26.2m & 50k

23: Gutbuster

JUNE

  5: Return of parkrun

10: Dinton Summer Series (race 2)

20: Hampshire Hoppit HM & marathon

JULY

 4: Farnborough Winter HM

4: Sonning 5k, 10k

 7: Yateley 10k (race 1)

 8: Dinton Summer Series (race 3)

10: Race to the Stones

21: Yateley 10k (race 2)

23: Endure 24

25: Down Tow Up Flow HM

31: Round Reading Ultra

AUGUST

  4: Yateley 10k (race 3)

12: Dinton Summer Series (race 4)

15: Burnham Beeches HM & 10k

29: Englefield 10k

SEPTEMBER

 5: Maidenhead HM

12: Brighton Marathon

12: Great North Run

18: British Masters Road Relays

19: Wokingham HM

25: Windsor Women’s 10k

26: Windsor HM

26: Berlin Marathon

OCTOBER

 3: London Marathon

 3: Basingstoke HM

10: Henley 10k & HM

10: Chicago Marathon

11: Boston Marathon

17: Great South Run

17: Oxford HM

17: Paris Marathon

24: Abingdon Marathon

24: Water of Life HM

NOVEMBER

 7: Reading HM

 7: Marlow 7 & HM

 7: Rivermead 10k

28: Mapledurham 10k & HM

  • I have kept December clear for a full programme of Hampshire League and TVXC fixtures. In 2022, why not pencil in the Woodcote 10k on January 9th? It’s a great warm-up for the big one — Bramley 10/20 — on February 20th.
  • Yesterday’s action picture: Peter Cook

Miles of smiles as Eddie rolls back years to prove old ones are best

Eddie Thorpe has surprised himself with the club’s best age category performance in the British Masters Virtual  one-mile road relays,  writes Sam Whalley.

In the competition for those aged 35 or over, M75 Eddie finished fourth in the 75-84 age category, with a 77 per cent age-graded time of 7 minutes and 19 seconds.

A 4:40-miler back in the 80s, Eddie was still pretty pleased with his time, having shielded for many months, and not having done any speed work since the track first closed a year ago, maintaining his fitness initially with many miles on a Wattbike. 

He waited with bated breath though, to find out if he would make the top three, with the top runner also listed as an M65, for team purposes.

The event attracted over 1200 masters athletes from around the country, and 24 Roadrunners, who were led home by M40 Mark Worringham in a speedy 4:50 (83% age grade).

W60 Jane Davies achieved the top age grade, though, with 87% for her time of 6:42, followed by M55 Brian Kirsopp (81% for 5:38), and W45 Helen Pool, who was paced to a PB of 5:57 (her first sub-six, 80%) by Tony Page, who had already logged 5:20 for himself before knocking ten seconds off in another attempt.

The fastest female Roadrunner, though, was W35 Jane Copland, whose 5:48 earned her ninth place in her age category.

Well done to everyone who took part.

Here are the team scores:

M35-44 (46th): 36: Mark Worringham (4:50), 633: Ben Fasham (6:15), 869: Chris James (6:56).

M45-54 (37th): 177: Tony Page (5:20), 769: Chris Manton (6:38), 878: Art Atwal (6:57).

M55-64 (14th): 314: Brian Kirsopp (5:38), 698: David Caswell (6:24), 964: Peter Reilly (7:19).

W35-44 (21st): 398: Jane Copland Pavlovich (5:48), 845: Caroline Jackson (6:50), 1099: Nicola Gillard (8:04).

W45-54 (21st): 490: Helen Pool (5:57), 969: Elizabeth Ganpatsingh (7:20), 1063: Saba Reeves (7:48).

Here’s all the Roadrunners’ positions:

Smart Alex’s national service makes Roadrunners so proud

ON a day of many terrific Reading Roadrunners performances perhaps the stand-out was Alex Harris’s personal best of nearly seven minutes on his England debut in the age group masters international run in conjunction with the Yorkshire Marathon.

Alex ran 2hrs 49mins for fifth place in the M50 age group and ninth overall. “It was a tougher course than expected,” he said, “and windy. The race got really spread out so I ran the whole way pretty much alone.

“I struggled with a cramping thigh for the second half but I dug in well until mile 24, and then faded. I thought I was really tight on getting under 2.50 after limping up the last hill so I sprinted as hard as I could and ended up with 2:49. Very happy with that.”

Alex got a shock near the 20-mile mark when a green vest whizzed past him. It was our new Mortimer 10k champ, Marcus Fletcher, on his way to a PB of 2:47.43

For Alex the run completed an autumn triple whammy. He shaved three seconds off his PB at last month’s Maidenhead Half Marathon and his time at York looks as though it put the club’s M50 marathon championship title to bed.

Alex’s training partner Carrie Hoskins also dipped under three hours again as she represented her country at her third different distance.

Although she missed a PB by barely one minute, even starting the race represented a triumph in itself after she struggled to overcome a foot injury.

Only getting the all-clear to run after a late scan and extra physiotherapy, Carrie was nevertheless eighth lady overall, with 2:57.56, and second in her F50 age category.

“It was hillier than I thought,” she said, “and I spent an awful lot of time running on my own. The wind was in my face for most of the run. But I’m over the moon about going under three hours again.”

The third Roadrunner in an England vest at York, Jane Davies, was the third F60 home in 3:26.33, well within her target time of 3:30. “I was going well until 30k,” she said, “and then it got very tough. I managed to keep going… just!”

The big marathon Sunday had kicked off with Gary Tuttle’s success in New Zealand. With a 12-hour time difference and a 6am start, Gary had finished before most of us woke up. 

Less than 20 hours after a monster flight across the world he ran 2hrs 55mins 32secs in Auckland, an improvement of nearly four minutes.

Gary’s previous race in New Zealand was over a little matter of 234k and involved cycling and kayaking, so the marathon was a comparative doddle.

Once again his wife Trinity provided the key ingredient for his superb performance, handing him  a doughnut and Red Bull as he left the Auckland Harbour Bridge at 18km.

“The first half was a bit hilly and I planned to aim for about 1.25-1.30,” said Gary (below). “The second half was flat straight out and back along the coast, so I hoped I could maintain the same pace for that.

“I was running by myself after the first hour. At about 34km I started getting cramp in my calves and hamstrings. I knew I was on for a PB so decided to slow down a bit and stop the cramp from taking hold too much.

“At this point a few people started passing me and the finish couldn’t come quickly enough.”

The second Roadrunner to PB abroad was Matt Davies, who fought off a bout of ‘man flu’ to finish in 2:47.18 at the Amsterdam Marathon.

That was an improvement of 33 seconds on his time in his sensational marathon debut in Dusseldorf.

“I had a cold all week,” said Matt (below), “and had a terrible shake-out run and was convinced I wasn’t going to race for time.

“This morning my I was feeing better but not great. I got boxed in at the start and had to do some weaving for the first few miles.

“Once the race opened up by the river I got into a good rhythm and hit halfway at 1:21, then had a really good few miles at 6-6.10 pace. I was on for a 2:40/2:30 borderline if I held it. 

“Through 30k it looked like I could comfortably get 2.45 which was my main goal. That was my plan to build into the race and see how I was  feeing.

“Unfortunately my illness caught up and I tired a bit, then a lot for the last few miles my pace dropped significantly (and it started to hurt). But I had enough time in the bank to still get a small PB.

“I was happy how I executed the race, but I’m left wondering what might have been. I have picked up a few things to adjust going into London next spring and will use this as motivation over the winter that I can still hold it together and get a good result, even when things are against me.”

There were plenty of happy Roadrunners with PBs to celebrate after the Abingdon Marathon, but none happier than Chris Buley (below).

On the course where he unaccountably collapsed late in last year’s race, Chris buried his demons to be first RR home in 2:57.27, his first time under 3hrs and a PB by six minutes. Chris is this year’s Berkshire senior road running champion, and this performance shows why.

There were also PBs for Erica Key, Tony Page, Wayne Farrugia, Ben Fasham (by 17 minutes!), Simon Brimacombe and Sophie Hoskins, making her mum doubly proud on the day.

SAM WHALLEY wraps up the best of the rest of the weekend action: 

Despite not being in any way involved in the second TVXC fixture, I was looking forward to seeing the results. Not least because I had seen that a few of the people I follow on Strava had done really well, and then seen a few more familiar faces in the photos. 

It was definitely looking like it had been a good day for the Reading Roadrunners XC team, with 55 of you turning up (in your shared cars).

Coming in first for our men (and first and second overall) were Matt Richards (below) and TVXC newcomer Sibrand Rinzema. They were followed by Jamie Smith (sixth) and Chris Burt (11th). David Ferguson was next in, but was too young to be included in the scoring team, with two vet 40 males needed to complete it. Cue Darren Lewis (26th) and Fergal Donnelly (30th). Note that if there were any scoring speedy women among this lot their scores would be even lower — what a great start!

There was an excellent turn-out for the women too. The finish positions I list will be irrelevant to the scoring, as women score separately to the men, but we won’t have that data available until the official results are up.

Mel Shaw led the team in (90th), followed by the only vet 40 needed for the scoring team, Lesley Whiley (174th). Sally Carpenter (179th) and Swinda Falkena (194th) completed the scorers — well done, and thank you!

If you didn’t make the scoring team, never fear, your contribution will still have been valid by affecting the points awarded to all of those behind you. And even if you didn’t have anyone behind you, then you will still have improved your strength, balance and fitness, so that’s good too.

Elsewhere, there were a fair few Roadrunners in action on the south coast in the Great South Run. I’m not even counting Ben and Manny Whalley, who were third man/dog team in the 2.5k Canine Run in the same location on Saturday.

First RR to finish the 10-mile race was Jack Gregory, who had benefited from a bit of pre- and post-race hospitality by being part of the elite start, and stormed to a new PB of 52.26. A sub-five minute last mile sealed the deal. I saw Jack (below) after the race and mentioned that it looked like a 10k time to me — really impressive, and even more so with young children to have to accommodate around your training.

By the way, if you’d noticed Gemma Steel’s number looking particularly on point, you’d have Jack’s support crew Claire Woodhouse to thank for that. Perks of being an elite running WAG, I guess.

There were also PBs for coach Vroni Royle, adding the 10-mile PB to the 10k, half marathon and marathon best times she has achieved this year, and Helen Dixon, who PBd by over four minutes, approximately 40 minutes faster than on the same course last year. No PB for Juliet Fenwick, but surely worth mentioning that she ran the entire race for charity, dressed as a flamingo?

Other notable performances this weekend were achieved by Lance Nortcliff, who was second MV45 in the tough Exmoor Stagger, and Nigel Hoult, who was third MV60 in the Fleet 10k.

THANKS to Claire Woodhouse, Gemma Buley, Peter Reilly and all others who contributed pictures.

TVXC results: http://tvxc.org.uk/results/detail/?race_id=89.

Abingdon Marathon results: http://racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16222&RId=171&fbclid=IwAR15BBTX4yiSAikm8bYqAqL8VvUB0vPNTGaBkPTvDxbiffY1VdScoigkgfM