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THE HARRIERS HERALD

No. 134, April 2004

 

Editorial

                                                                    

Welcome to April’s edition of the Harriers Herald.  We start the month on a high note following the great success of the ninth Compton Downland Challenge – well done to all those who were involved in organising or helping at the event.  In his Website Report Mo has reproduced some of the complimentary comments we have received since the race.  Earlier in March, Lucy set a personal best in the Flora London Half Marathon, and seven Harriers took part in The Grizzly: thanks to Lucy for reports on both of these events.  March’s Handicap Race concluded the Winter Handicap Race Series and the final results are given in this issue.  Thursday night schedules are given for April and May (I’ve put a provisional date for the IAH Relay, but need to check this), and Susanne updates us on the Sunday Runs.  Mo has given some details of forthcoming Fixtures, as Simon has not been able to do so this month. 

Sue B

 

Thursday night schedule for April

Thurs    1st                    Collection of remaining Compton Challenge route-markers?

Thurs    8th                    Lucy to lead from Bucklebury (maps available)

Thurs    15th                  Handicap Race

Thurs    22nd                  Mo to lead

Thurs    29th                  Sue B to lead               

 

Thursday night schedule for May

Thurs    6th                    Tom to lead

Thurs    13th                  Sue P to lead

Thurs    20th                        IAH Relay??

Thurs    27th                                     Martin to lead

  

Sunday Run update

The Sunday runs will commence again in April.  Watch your e-mail for further information.  A date, place and leader have not yet been found.  If you want to lead then let me know a.s.a.p.

Susanne 

 

Flora London Half Marathon, Silverstone, 7th March

Lucy

 

The Flora London Half Marathon took place on the 7th March at Silverstone near Northampton, which is a good location as access is easy, apart from the traffic jam, with plenty of parking.  The 6.5 thousand competitors were easily accommodated on the race track, and wore chips so there was no need to doctor finishing times.  The 3-loop route was as interesting as it could be; flat, with well-placed water and Lucozade stations, and lots of toilets by the track. The weather was not bad for speed – sunny and cold, although breezy, and a vast improvement on the snow-storm I noticed en route.  I lined up close to the 8 minute-mile Runner’s World pacer and managed to stay a few minutes behind, finishing in 1:46:41, a better time than usual, probably because running on a race track really felt like a race, so I may have actually put some effort in!  A pleasant race for a time-trial but, if you want a bit of fun, do the Grizzly!


The Grizzly, Seaton, 14th March

Lucy

 

The Grizzly is such a popular race that entries have to be in almost immediately the entry form is posted on the website, so I was pleased to see 12 quid disappear from my bank account one bright, sunny day in September 2003, meaning I had got a place.  Six months later, on March 14th 2004, Sue, Mo, Tom and I were shivering in Tom’s car in the Seaton car park, waiting for a break in the weather.  The forecast was for 11-16 degrees and drizzle.  There was drizzle, but it was freezing and horizontal.  I decided to follow Mo’s advice to keep covered every inch of skin not required for navigation purposes, rather than the vest and shorts I’d had in mind.

When we reached the seafront I was reminded of a disaster movie involving howling gales and crowds of doomed revelers on a ship.  Beyond the sea defenses 10-foot waves dumped onto the shingle and the voice of the organiser was heard by only a brave few.  What we found out later would have made that 15-minute wait for the start a little bit easier – due to the dangerous sea conditions the 3 miles of shingle at Weston beach was cut out of the course.  The race would only be 17 miles!  The Harriers fought to find sheltered spots among the other underdressed bodies, our shivers only turning into manic laughter when we spotted the poor devils who were wearing minimalist summer garments.  Plastic bags were much in evidence - in fact Sue B had a bin-bag vest on.  We all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone who may have been called Kim (Tim? Jim?).  Eventually the 2000-odd partygoers left the relative shelter of a side street and shuffled over the sea wall, into the full force of the wind and rain, and lined up on the shingle, awaiting our fate!

The sound of the starting horn was carried off by the wind and for about a hundred meters of shingle life was pretty bad.  Then we threw a 180° and started bounding back down the promenade with the wind behind us.  Inland we went, up and down some steep bits on slippery mud and big stones.  Somewhere in the first 4 miles I caught up with Tom, Vicky and Ian.  After the muddy bits, as we went back through the town, Vicky caught me up again and said Ian had dropped out after falling on his knee and giving it a nasty gash. There had been a lot of sliding about in the mud and I was glad I wore my heavy trail shoes.  Mo had definitely brought the wrong shoes, and as he approached a marshal who was inexplicably calling out ’25 down…, 25 down so far’, he slid over into the mud.  Naturally the marshal then changed to ’26 down… 26 down’!

At 4 miles we reached Beer (the place, not the drink) and the fabulous Pecorama, where a bandstand was playing the kind of music that makes people go ‘Yee-haa!’  There were also toilets there, so I dodged in and let the others make a break for it.  I caught up with Tom again at the first stile, where there was a long queue, and after that started a long windy stretch.  The wind grew stronger as we approached the sea, until it seemed hurricane-force.  Sue B found that her legs were being blown together.  The wind blew Mo’s face into a strange shape (which may have got stuck that way!), and both Tom and I noticed that the air was being sucked out of our lungs.  Vicky temporarily lost her hat at this point.  Around us was a thick fog, which Sue B found was actually sea-spray, blown 200 feet up!  Running down the hill into Branscombe was probably the funniest part of the weekend.  Putting all our efforts into the descent still left us running in a weird slow motion.  Further down, though, the hill was steep enough to get some real speed up, and, feeling absurdly high, I accelerated past the other runners, pulling up just in time to avoid demolishing the stone wall at the end.  After this my judgement lapsed still further and I took an unnecessary belly-flop into the 3 foot deep river at the bottom.

A gradual uphill path then took us inland for 3 miles.  I caught up with Vicky and, weakened by my soaking, ate some glucose tablets, (starting with the damp ones).  By the time we reached the notorious bogs I had recovered, and was fortunate enough not to fall over.  The mud was knee deep and slushy enough in the middle but I took a route through a sticky patch and had to be steadied by fellow competitors, obviously wary of a domino effect.  Vicky decorated her face in mud, just so that onlookers would ask if she had been eating it! This year there were no spare shoes available in case of mishaps, and we heard later that a runner had been sighted after the bogs with only one shoe.

Some more hilly stretches followed and then we were directed along the detour, which was a mile or two of flat, boring road.  We returned through Branscombe, and ran for a mile on shingle, which was excruciating on the calves, but visually dramatic, as the sun had come out at last and was shining off the clouds of spray from the surf.  Vicky and I were able to spend some time admiring the cliffs up ahead, before we got to climb them.  The climb wasn’t too bad though, since it would have been bad manners to overtake too many walkers.  On our return to Beer we met the Lone Piper, evidently given a reprieve from playing on the cliff-top, which in that wind would have played havoc with his embouchure!  The final run into Seaton was fairly painless, as once again we were diverted from the shingle onto the nice, civilised promenade.  I crossed the line at 3:29:ish and met Sue, who had finished in 2:50 and Tom whose time was 3:19.  A few minutes later Vicky sprinted in, followed by Sue Paulin at 3:33 and Mo at 3:43.  Kim was running slowly because of a cold and got ‘cubbed’ – diverted to the cub run, finishing this in 2:58.

A lightning change of clothes was followed by some intense carbo-replacement, picking up Dick’s goody bag and a trip to the prize giving.  The times for the winners were quite fantastic, given the conditions; top man was 1:56 and first lady was 2:06.  But no one seemed too envious of their glory, seeing as the winners were required to accept monstrous boulders as trophies.

More food was urgently required, so since the chip shop was shut we went to the pub opposite for a meal in its ornate Regency dining room, where we sat at a very posh table – just what we deserved!  I had piles of food from the carvery, Tom and Mo had steak and chips, and Sue really pushed the boat out and had four tiny slivers of garlic bread!  Tom drove us back, and Maggy welcomed the still-famished runners back to Inkpen with chocolate cakes and yet more bars of chocolate.

Everyone running or supporting the race seemed to be in great spirits, in spite of the conditions, although few regretted missing 3 miles of shingle.  Even Ian didn’t seem put out by needing a tetanus jab.  This event had the best atmosphere of any race I’ve been to (not counting the Compton, of course!) and made me regret the long years I spent as a Grizzly Virgin!

  

Handicap Race (Village Lap)

Sue B

 

            Seven runners took part in the last Handicap Race of the winter season, and this was also the last race of the winter handicap series.  Conditions weren’t too bad for running, and there was even a bit of daylight left.  Good performances by Vicky and Tom saw them finish well ahead of the rest of the field, Vicky’s winning time of 13:54 was over a minute quicker than her last handicap performance.   Marie, Susanne and Lucy finished in close succession: Marie improved her time from last month, Susanne set an excellent new PB, and Lucy’s time was very close to her best.  Only Sue and Mo were slower than their predicted times, but Sue recorded the fastest time of the evening, and Mo was still recovering from the Grizzly and from a tummy bug.  Well done to Vicky and thanks to Jan and injured Dick for timing.  At the last AGM, we voted to reduce the frequency of handicap races over the six ‘summer’ months to every other month, so that we can make the most of the light evenings for running over the Downs.  I suggest April, June and August for the summer handicap races.  The next one is scheduled for Thursday 15th April and will be around the Long Crossing route.

 

Pos

Name

Start time

Finish time

Actual time

Handicap Beaten?

1

Vicky

1:02

14:56

13:54

-1:04

2

Tom

0:36

15:11

14:35

-0:49

3

Marie

1:48

15:43

13:55

-0:17

4

Susanne

2:44

15:47

13:03

-0:13

5

Lucy

1:24

15:51

14:27

-0:09

6

Sue B

4:23

16:07

11:44

+0:07

7

Mo

0:30

16:36

16:06

+0:36

 

Winter Handicap Race Series

Sue B

 

The Winter Handicap Race Series hopefully added a new dimension to racing round Compton once a month.  The aim was to reward improving or consistent performance and commitment to the club.  A total of fifteen runners took part in at least one race but only three brave (sad?) souls, Lucy, Mo and Sue, took part in all six races, with Tom running five.  Not surprisingly, after five races, it was only these four who were in contention for the overall first, second and third places.  At the end of the six races, there was a clear and deserving winner.  Lucy’s consistent improvement over the last six months gave her three wins, one second and one third place, which resulted in a seven point victory at the end of the series.  Lucy received some sports shop vouchers for her efforts.  A good performance by Tom in the final race moved him up onto equal points with Mo to share the runners-up spot.  This was particularly impressive for Tom as, because he had only done five races, he didn’t have the opportunity to drop his worst performance.  Both Tom and Mo received edible prizes, Mo being awarded third prize, and Tom second (because his top four scores were higher than Mo’s).  Thanks to all who took part – I hope you enjoyed it.  With only three summer handicap races, it’s probably not worth having a summer race series, but maybe we’ll do it again next winter.

Finally, a big thank you to Jan who, wind or weather, was the only other person to be there for all six races!

   

Name

Race points

Final Position in Series

Race 1

09-10-03

Race 2

13-11-03

Race 3

11-12-03

Race 4

15-01-04

Race 5

12-02-04

Race 6

18-03-04

Five Best Performances

Points Total

Lucy

7

7

5

6

7

3

7, 7, 7, 6, 5

32

1

Tom

-

5

7

2

5

6

7, 6, 5, 5, 2

25

2=

Mo

5

4

3

7

6

1

7, 6, 5, 4, 3

25

2=

Sue B

3

6

1

4

4

2

6, 4, 4, 3, 2

19

4

Susanne

1

-

6

-

2

4

6, 4, 2, 1

13

5

Simon

1

3

2

6

-

-

6, 3, 2, 1

12

6

Dick

1

-

4

3

3

-

4, 3, 3, 1

11

7

Vicky

-

-

-

1

-

7

7, 1

8

8

Sue P

6

-

-

-

-

-

6

6

9=

Marie

-

-

-

-

1

5

5, 1

6

9=

Martin

2

2

-

1

1

-

2, 2, 1, 1

6

9=

Nick

4

-

-

-

-

-

4

4

12

Kirsty

1

-

-

-

1

-

1, 1

2

13=

Andy

-

-

1

-

1

-

1, 1

2

13=

Nigel

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

1

15

 

Website update… http://comptonharriers.cjb.net/ 

 

Following yet another very successful Downland Challenge, I have been inundated with email messages (well, I've had quite a few) from competitors who felt the urge to pass on their praises to our club and all the helpers in organising such an enjoyable event.  Reading Roadrunners were particularly well represented with 26 entries in the 20 mile event and 3 in the 40 mile event … and of course they took the honours with a 1,2,3 in the ladies race.  Ken Chamberlain of RRR who took part in the 20 mile event and finished in a creditable 30th place, has written a report for the Reading Evening Post which he very kindly sent to us for information.  His report is as follows: -

 

"Saturday 27th March saw the 9th running Downland Challenge, a popular local trail race organised by host club Compton Harriers, around the Berkshire Downs. The challenge is a 40 mile figure of 8 course, with 3,900’ of ascent and a highlight of the trail running association’s fixture list. Fortunately, for most runners, the figure of 8 course allows the inclusion of a 20 mile "fun" run with only 2,200’ of ascent. With at least 80% of the route off road. The Harriers are pretty relaxed about which race you run; leaving it until the 19.3 mile mark to decide whether you complete the 40 or the 20. Apparently they don’t get (m)any whose original intention was to do the 20 changing to the 40.

The route was quite different in character from last year’s dry fast course reverting to perhaps a more normal muddy route. Claggy fields weighed the shoes down for sometime after those fields had been left behind. In one particularly deep spot, at around 18 miles, avoiding knee deep mud was quite a challenge, even with a helpful marshal highlighting the shallowest route. Apparently later on he could be seen having his car towed back along the byway, having got all 4 wheels stuck.

The weather was kind, even though the runners started in light drizzle, it was mild and there was virtually no wind which reduced the chance of cooling down too much out on the tops of the downs.

75 competitors completed the longer route. Herman Mulder (5:03:26) of London Irish consistently extended his lead over Barry Hards(5:18:50) from 8 minutes at half way to over 15 minutes by the end. Hards, the first veteran, was just pleased to make the start for the first time since foot & mouth having suffered injury and illness in his build up to the last 3 races. Sue Sleath (5:42:46) of Hardley Runners took the honours, 1st and 1st vet, in the ladies race from Ramona Thevenet-Smith (6:04:04 - Woking AC) following on from her course record at the Steyning Stinger XC marathon 20 days earlier. Colchester Harriers took the team prize over the long course.

The fun run attracted 265 runners and despite the course conditions, Sam Aldridge of Reading AC set a course record of 2:04:18, perhaps helped by knowing nearly all the wrong turns from last year. Seb Shepley (Tarden Hendae - 2:07:30) took second place, whilst last year’s second to Aldridge, Duncan Burbidge (2:11:51) was third and the first of three Highgate Harriers to place in the first 21 home to take the team prize.

In the Ladies race Reading Roadrunners were completely dominant. Despite not taking a sharp turn, resulting in a demoralising drop down Streatley Hill only to have to turn round to come back up again, Lesley Whiley (2:35:52) was a comfortable winner and first vet from Carol Bowker (2:40:03) in second place and Elaine Phipps (2:42:48) in 3rd. These three ladies are all training for the London Marathon and with such a good showing here let’s hope they can turn this into a strong team performance there. Phipps was making her debut in a longer trail race and couldn’t get over the beauty of the countryside. With low cloud and mist it appeared as though we were running through lots of discrete, yet interconnected countryside scenes, as if moving from one painting to the next. Phipps ran in road shoes and came a cropper a couple of miles from the end, appearing at the finish with what seemed to be blood gushing from her right knee. Upon cleaning it up the news was much better with the first aid staff were not sure whether she should check with a doctor to see if it needed a stitch or not.

The race was dedicated to Tony and Jean Baigent life long supporters of athletics and Compton Harriers. Their daughter Sue is a well known member of both Reading AC, Compton Harriers and the local running community. Sue remembers well her first training sessions with her sister Sarah, and Mum and Dad on Lardon Chase - fittingly part of the race route. Two extra trophies were awarded to competitors who were determined to complete the course no matter what ... i.e. the last finishers in each event. The Jean Baigent Trophy for the 20 mile event was awarded to Angela Murphy and Anne Leigh from Metros AC who finished together. The Tony Baigent Trophy for the 40 mile event was awarded to Steve Hicks who comes from Reading.

There was a good contingent of Roadrunners competing, with 3 hardy souls, Lee Hinton, Tony Brown and Kathy Tytler completing the long route. Peter Turner led the male runners home on the fun run, but sources confirm that Peter also took a side trip down Streatley Hill. Many on the fun run were making their debuts at Compton and were impressed with the organisation and convivial nature of the event in great countryside. Many thanks to Compton Harriers; a small club organising a big event, in every sense of the words, very well." 

(Reproduced by kind permission of Ken Chamberlain of Reading Roadrunners)

 

 Here are a few more clips from various competitors: -

 

"I have just completed the Compton 20 for the first time as part of by London Marathon build up & what a great race it is but very tough (did anybody else hit the deck in that two foot deep huge brown puddle near the finish).... I was 20 minutes slower than my Bramley time & think I am good at "off road stuff". Lesley, Carol & Elaine came 1, 2, 3 very impressive, they too are all doing the London & could do well in the team results as well as individually, their focus this year is inspiring, come on boys!.... "

(Peter Turner - Club Captain, Reading Roadrunners)

 

Everyone who runs Compton recommends it, and I now see why - it is a superb run, with beautiful countryside and special kind of relaxed style. People stop at the water stations, chat, have two or three drinks and a bit of cake, and then carefully drop their water cups in the plastic bag. They even find time for some friendly banter before moving on. There’s none of the smash & grab stuff you see at 10K and half marathon water stations!

Compton is really a 40 mile race of course, with the wimps like me doing a mere 20. I lost the plot badly at around 18 miles, and when the course split at 19 miles I was so thankful to be doing one more mile, and not another twenty one, that I managed to pick up some pace and stagger to the finish."

(Jim Kiddie - Club Secretary, Reading Roadrunners)

 

"Dear Compton Harriers,

Just a quick note to thank you for the race on Saturday. It was my 2nd attempt at the challenge, and I felt terrible for most of the race! Don't know why - just sod's law I suppose, as I am used to the distance. Anyway, despite this, I must congratulate you all on your organisation of a great event. I will return to try again next year. Many thanks again,"

(Sara Baker, Reading Roadrunners).

 

"I would like to thank all the organisers and helpers for yet another fun run on Sat 27th March. I would like to say a BIG thanks to all the marshals who braved the weather to wait for and cheer on myself and the other 40 milers. Here's to another successful year and see you next year."

(Lee Hinton, Reading Roadrunners)

 

"I'd like to say a huge thank you to all who organised and helped make Saturday’s event really enjoyable. Without the excellent organisation and happy and friendly attention of the marshals and everyone involved the Downland 20 would have been just a gruelling challenge. Thank you, I hope to be back again next year."

(Jill Crook, White Horse Harriers)

 

"I ran the 40 miler on Saturday, and just wanted to pass on my thanks for an extremely well organised and marshalled race. .  My only disappointment was that the massage people had left by the time I'd finished.  Otherwise a wonderful run.  Thanks very much indeed - I look forward to running again  next year."

(Karen Thomas, Sutton Runners)

 

"The route was better marked than I had expected. An excellent course. Many thanks for the organisation and to the large number of water station helpers and marshals."

(Ross Maxwell, Watford)

 

"Just a quick thankyou to everyone that helped organise Saturdays event. The camaraderie at the checkpoints was fantastic (especially post 20 miles) the organisation was perfect, and I made it round in 8hours and 24mins, which I'm happy with."

(James Foulkes, unattached)

 

"Congratulations for putting on another fine event. As somebody who hasn't taken a wrong turning yet after two attempts, I have to laugh at those who complain about course marking. All you have to do is keep your eyes open!"

(Paul Jégou, White Horse Harriers)

 

"Just wanted to drop a line to say thank you to everyone who put so much effort into making the event on Saturday so enjoyable.
This was the first time I had tackled it and I certainly didn't give itenough respect and started way too quickly, I will adopt better tactics next year. Well done and many thanks"

(Pru Hayhow, Grange Farm Trotters)

 

"I just wanted to thank everyone at Compton Harriers for another brilliant Downland Challenge.  The food, the marshals and the whole experience was brilliant (except the hills, the mud.....).  Although I found it very tough, I still appreciate what a beautiful, well organised event it is. I managed a PB by nearly 43 minutes even though I stopped for a jam sandwich and a cup of tea at the last check-point.  (in fact without the re-fuel I would have really struggled). Please pass on my thanks to everyone concerned."

(Carol Plater, Thame Roadrunners)

 

You may recall in last month's report that I mentioned Sue would be running for Berkshire in the Reebok sponsored Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Nottingham on Saturday 6th March 2004.  Well, owing to traffic jams in the area, she nearly didn't make it … in fact with only 15 minutes to go to the start, we were stuck in traffic about a mile from the venue.  As we were only moving a few cars lengths every minute or so, Sue decided to get out and run the mile to the start.  Having made it to the toilets, then frantically looking for the start... and the relieved team manager … to collect her number, she had two minutes to prepare for the start of the senior women’s' 8000 metres event.  Of course she had no time to get nervous and consequently ran a very good race to finish 138th out of 300 entries and 1st Berkshire lady home.  (I knew I'd calculated sufficient time to get her there! When I eventually got there with the car she was on her second lap!!)

 

As we don't have a fixtures report available for this month, may I suggest a visit to http://www.timeoutdoors.com/events/events ... a selection for April is shown below: -

 

4th April 2004

Trowbridge Lions 10K
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

RNLI Hatfield House 10K
Hatfield, Hertfordshire

White Horse ½ Marathon
Grove, Oxfordshire

7th April 2004

Woking 3M Monthly Handicap
Woking, Surrey

 

 

9th April 2004

Maidenhead Easter 10
Maidenhead,
Berkshire

 

 

11th April 2004

Shining Cliffs 5M Fell Race (april)
Ambergate, Derbyshire

Hot Cross Bun Run 10K

Benson, Oxfordshire

Guiseley Gallop 10K
Leeds, West Yorkshire

18th April 2004

The Flora London Marathon 2004
London, Greater London

Tresco Marathon
Isles of Scilly,
Cornwall

 

21st April 2004

British Airways Speedbirds Ladies 5K
Middlesex, Greater
London

 

 

 24th April 2004

Trent Park 5K Trail Handicap Race 5
Oakwood, Greater
London

 

 

25th April 2004

 

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