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:
25: Goodwood Festival of Running
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
5: Return of parkrun
10: Dinton Summer Series (race 2)
20: Hampshire Hoppit HM & marathon
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
4: Yateley 10k (race 3)
12: Dinton Summer Series (race 4)
15: Burnham Beeches HM & 10k
29: Englefield 10k
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
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
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