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:


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

23: Gutbuster


  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

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

Sargeant’s major triumph caps season of joy for Roadrunners

FOLLOWING an exciting finish to the Southern Counties Vets League fixture at Palmer Park, FIONA ROSS has filed this review of the 2019 season…

‘Reading Roadrunners win the Vets League’ is not a headline you would expect to read. You would wonder if it was factually accurate. But it all depends on your perspective.

If athletes were scored according to their sterling performances and personal achievements —despite the fact that many are not normally training for such events or have entered for the first time in many years or the first time ever and, if they were scored according to their team spirit. — then Reading Roadrunners would be in a league of their own!

It is impossible to list all the performances during the season, but I will summarise here some of the highlights shared by the athletes who took part.

The first fixture took place at Horspath Stadium in Oxford on April 29th.  Chris Manton, who organised our team for the entire league, told me that his highlight was to achieve a PB in the men’s 35A 800metres.

Adele Graham came third in the womens’ 50 100m and told me that her personal highlight was achieving a personal best in the W50 hammer(up from 17.17m to 18.33m).  She also achieved a very respectable third place, as did Dave Fiddes in the M50, in the long jump.

The second fixture took place at Tilsley Park, Abingdon, on May 20th. Ian Giggs stormed round the track to take third place in the M35B 800m while Helen Pool also took third place following a very strong performance in the W35A 3000m. In the field events, a new club triple jump record was set by new member St John Ford with 9.01m.

The penultimate League meeting was also held at Abingdon, on June 30th, and saw Nigel Hoult and Pete Jewell take third places in the M60 400m and M50 5000m races respectively. I was delighted to achieve a PB in both the 100m and 400m events.

The grand finale July 14th was jointly hosted by Roadrunners and Reading Athletic Club at our home ground, Palmer Park Stadium.  Sam Whalley, our ladies captain, summed up this fixture very well when she said: “I was pleased to see such a good turn-out of participants, supporters and helpers.  There were some really impressive performances and it was a great way to end the season.”

Indeed, Katherine Sargeant flew around the track to win the women’s 5000m event and both she and Helen Pool came first in their age categories and achieved a PB for this event. Katherine said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the club over 5,000m. It’s a challenging distance for me, I’m better over longer distances.

“But with the work which our training group has been devoting to this distance and challenge, I seized the chance to test myself, as many others have done recently with race wins at 10k and parkrun PBs.

“Supporting my club-mates was brilliant fun too, and there were many truly inspiring performances.”

Helen added: “My highlight was getting an Athletics Weekly standard and it was great that Katherine and I both scored maximum points.”

Her team-mate Claire Seymour finished a creditable third as our B string at the same distance, while Mark Worringham was just edged out by the experienced Oxford runner James Bolton after a thrilling battle in the 3,000m, with Lance Nortcliff third as our B string.  Another Roadrunner to pick up a very good third place was Tracy Jenkins in the W50 800m.

Off the track, Gill Manton won the W35 discus with a throw 16.10m to follow up her PB in the hammer at Abingdon.  In the W50 discus, Adele Graham achieved another PB (up from 11.72m to 13.07m).  She told me that it was “really nice to be competing on home territory with great support.”

Mark Andrew proved his credentials as a great clubman by stopping off on his way home from running the Hell-Fire Half Marathon at Wycombe to compete in the M50 triple jump for the first time, finishing in third place.

Alan Freer took part in the javelin event for the first time in 47 years, initially as a non-scorer, but was then invited to join the Vet 35 competitors.  He told me: “Not only was I up against youngsters and mainly seasoned athletic club javelin throwers, I also had the joy of a heavier and longer javelin to throw!”  

Nevertheless, he was pleased to have had one throw which was deemed good and to have managed not to be in last place.  Overall he said it was “an enjoyable experience that I will have another better go at next year, with a bit more practice.”

Personally, I was delighted to achieve a PB in the 200m event (down from 37.6 to 35.3 seconds) and Adele Graham, Tracy Jenkins, Hannah McPhee and I were proud to take part in the 4 x 200m relay. We managed not to come last, but above all, this event highlights the amazing team spirit of the green vests!

If you take into account this team spirit, which cannot be beaten, and the personal/team achievements highlighted above, the Vets League 2019 season certainly was exciting and the Reading Roadrunners are definitely in a league of their own.

Thank you very much again to Chris Manton for co-ordinating our team as well as to all the volunteers/supporters and coaches.  Kerri French supported the triple jump event at the last fixture and said: “I loved helping out at the event.  I wasn’t up to speed to compete, but assisting the officials meant that I could participate in a different way.”

Congratulations again to all the athletes!

We would like to encourage other Reading Roadrunners to take part next year, because it is a great opportunity to try something new, support your fellow Roadrunners and get to know other club members — and an opportunity to have some fun.  

Adele Graham said: “It is a welcoming introduction for anyone trying track and field for the first time.” Come and join us next season!

Pictures: Gill Manton, Fergal Donnelly, Tony Ford, Fiona Ross.

Results of Vets Track and Field League match four:

W35 Shot Putt

  5 Gill Manton 5.79m

W50 Shot Putt

 4 Adele Graham 6.02m

W35 Discus

  1 Gill Manton 16.10m

W50 Discus

  7 Adele Graham 13.07m PB

W50 800metres

  3 Tracy Jenkins 3.10.2

W35A 200metres

  6 Fiona Ross 35.3 PB

W50 200metres

  3 Adele Graham 36.6

W50 Triple Jump

  4 Adele Graham 5.77m

W35A 5000metres

  1 Helen Pool 19.57.7 PB

W35B 5000metres

  3 Claire Seymour 23.56.0

W50 5000metres

  1 Katherine Sergeant 19.37.6 PB

Women’s 4 x 200m Relay

 5 Roadrunners (Hannah McPhee, Tracy Jenkins, Adele Graham, Fiona Ross)   2.38.5

M50 Discus

  6 Brian Grieves 10.16m

M35A 800metres

  5 Tony Page 2.27.8

M35B 800metres

  4 David Fiddes 2.42.6

M50 800metres

  5 Alan Freer 2.51.3

M60 800metres

  2 Nigel Hoult 2.47.9

M50 Triple Jump

  3 Mark Andrew 8.74m

M35A 200metres

  8 Chris Manton 31.7

M35B 200metres

  5 John Fenner 29.7

M50 200metres

  6 David Fiddes 31.2

M35 Javelin

  7 Alan Freer 14.70m

M50 Javelin

 5 David Fiddes 15.77m

M60 Javelin

  7 Nigel Hoult 11.00m

M35A 3000metres

  2 Mark Worringham 9.22.5

M35B 3000metres

  3 Lance Nortcliff 10.00.8

M50 3000metres

  5 Tony Streams 12.23.6

M60 3000metres

  2 Alan Freer 12.22.9

Men’s 4 x 200m Relay

  7 Roadrunners (Tony Page, Brian  Grieves, Tony Streams, Mark Worringham) 2.16.3

Vets League non-scoring performances

Women’s Shot Putt

  – Hannah McPhee 3.99m

Women’s Discus

  – Hannah McPhee 6.90m

Men’s 800metres

  – Mark Worringham 2.22.0

Men’s 3000metres

  – Tony Page 11.12.00

Men’s 200metres

  – Brian Grieves 37.00

Women’s 2000metres walk

  – Gill Manton 15.58.2

Loretta’s even better… all last weekend’s race results

WITH the next club newsletter not due to be published until mid-May, here’s a catch-up on last weekend’s results, with most members either in marathon action or not racing because they were training for one.

Loretta Briggs (pictured) is obviously in good form for London on April 28th, shaving just over a minute off her half marathon personal best in a Dorney event.

April 6th

Windsor Spring Half Marathon

Pos           Name                            Chip

 48            Loretta Briggs             1:38.39 PB

Time Turner Pre-Marathon

Pos           Name                            Chip

43             Gill Manton                 3:12.23

April 7th

Manchester Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

 624          Darren Lewis              2:56.18 PB

 650          Alex Warner               2:56.26

1935          Andy Morgan            3:04.25

1430          Liang Guo                  3:12.42

2168          Paul Morrissey          3:26.11

2221          David Caswell            3:26.19

3584          Caroline Jackson      3:42.03

4659          Katherine Foley        3:48.19

4706          Tony Walker              3:58.37

4934          Paul Monaghan         3:52.32

5178           Catherine Leather     3:49.51

5773           Fleur Denton             4:06.46

6012           Ben Fasham              3:58.10 PB

6829          Claire Raynor            4:06.43

7352           Beth Rudd                 4:14.54

7479           Pete Morris               4:27.51

8456          Sam Whalley             4:28.13

8974          Dan Rickett               4:29.17

9236          Alex Bennell             4:27.30

10746        Martin Bush             4:44.01

12857        Andy Patrick             6:09.37

Rome Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

8044         Phil Reay                     5:21.55

8045         Christina Calderon    5:21.56

Wimbledon Common Half Marathon

Pos            Name                           Chip

253            Chris Manton             1:50.46

Combe Gibbet to Overton, 16 miles

Pos            Name                           Chip

  21            David McCoy (M40) 1:56.35

  40           Chris Cutting              2:03.25 PB

180           Katie Gumbrell          2:46.24 PB