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Lanzarote International Running Challenge - 26-29 November

It was 5 years since I had run this Challenge but I decided to return with the Leighton Buzzard AC runners to enjoy a 10 day holiday at the Club La Santa and what glorious weather we had with temperatures most days in the mid to high 20s. Richard Inchley of Leighton who organises the annual trip was making his 32nd consecutive visit!

Club La Santa is a sports person's paradise with 3 Olympic size pools since the recent re-refurbishment of the site, top of the range mountain and road bikes to hire free and a daily program of events that allow you to dip in and out of covering some 40+ sports such as tennis, football, volleyball, boxing, aerobics, pilates, zumba,kayak - you name it they do it plus a well equipped multi purpose gym. Plus every morning at 8.00 you can start the day with a quick stretch to music followed by either a 3/4/5K run.

The Challenge is 4 races over 4 consecutive days. (+ Prize money for each race for the first 3 in each 5 year age category). With only a couple of runs over 6 miles since London I knew my recovery after each race could be a problem particularly with the last day finishing on a half marathon. The first 2 races as well as suffering from the heat also had the famous Lanzarote winds to contend with. The 10K road race was 3 laps starting and finishing on the athletic track. Having only run 3 5K park runs recently of times all over 25mins I was more than satisfied with my time of 51.32. My mile splits were fairly even despite the extremely strong winds on the open roads. The winners time were 32.29 - Kasper Hartlev from Denmark and Pauline Curley from Ireland in 38.56.

Recovery was all about meeting up each evening in the Sports Bar where happy Hour kicked in between 6 and 7 and preparations were then discussed about tomorrows run over what seemed numerous pints!

The next day's race again saw us start and finish on the athletic track. This was the 13K Ridge run and was all about the long hard hill climb up to a ridge of a volcano before bringing us back down to La Santa. Mainly off-road the race is on sandy tracks and was again a struggle into the high winds. It was loverly views when you did get to the top of the ridge but there was little time to stop and enjoy it with the difficult descent through some testing sand trails. Nevertheless, I was reasonably pleased with my time and more importantly still felt reasonably fresh.

The 3rd day saw us cross the Island to Puerto Del Carmen for the 5K beach run - 2 exhausting laps through a mixture of soft and hard sand. It was probably runners least favourite race. For me it was simply about getting round and I have to confess just found it a slog with my time reflecting my hard struggle through the sand.

With the final race now upon us the weather decided to step up a knotch and presented us with the hottest day so far. Despite a 9.00 start a number of runners suffered badly in the heat including our own Chris Norman from Leighton Buzzard who was odds on to win his age group (30-35 years) but pulled out after 6 miles. Again, the race was mainly off-road on sandy trails and the heat just felt oppressive. The course was also undulating despite its overall elevation dropping downhill back to La Santa. I went though the first 5 miles in 43.26 and by 10 miles had slowed going through in 90.04. By now the heat was really getting to me and the final 3 miles were all about mentally pushing myself on towards the finish. Again, it was great to end the race on the athletic track and although my time of 1.54.17 on any other day would have been disappointing, the really hot weather and the culmination of races I was just pleased to get round and finish. Winners times were again Kasper Hartlev (1.08.01) and Pauline Curley (1.19.02).

Overall, this was a great holiday. This year our party was around 25 including 2 families and not everyone was a runner - some just there for a holiday others doing other sports. If anyone is interested in finding out more about next year's Challenge (25th - 28th November 2018), just email me or see me at training for further information. Everyone is more than welcome to go with the Leighton AC crowd.

Dave Stanley

3 Counties XC Race 3: Dunstable - Sunday 26 November

3rd Three Counties league match today hosted by our colleagues at Dunstable with what appeared to be the hilliest course with the non-alluringly named Heartbreak Hill. In addition there appeared to be distance trading as match 2 shorter than advertised course was equalled by the extended length at Dunstable. Despite the inclines, it was in the main a quick course. Flyers again put in another strong entry with 51 runners.

The ladies were dealt a pre-race blow with 3 of their regular scorers Deborah Pedley, Hattie King and Michelle Morris all ruled out with injury or illness. It was good however that they still came along to support their teammates. With this came the opportunity to step up into the scoring team and this was snapped up by Jess Anstee who was 16th lady and Emma Blackwell 18th. They accompanied Nicola Bowerman 4th lady and Louise Clark 20th lady to bring the team home in a very good 3rd position which moved them up into 3rd overall for the season. Nicola actually finished within 50 metres of the first 3 ladies which was even more remarkable as she raced with her laces undone and the fight to keep her racers on. The depth in the woman is confirmed by the fact that in the first 3 matches there have been 9 different scorers. The race also saw Jess, Sophia Bartlett, Emma, Nicola, Kate Cornelius, Claire Jones and Jo Morris record their best results of the season so far.

The men were also missing a number of their previous scorers with a couple of long distance travellers not due back for this one, Sunday working, Paul "Judith Chalmers" Farmer on another trip and Ross still on the missing persons list after celebrating his birthday yesterday. We were fortunate to have Ian Halpin after his storming Wolverton 5 yesterday followed by a London shindig , Steve Upton taking a break from his multi-marathons and Tim Harris who with a calf injury has been unable to train for the best part of 3 weeks and only passed a fitness test yesterday. All of these guys scored well and they were accompanied by Joe Strange, Phil Holland, Martin Beare, Giles Shorley who picked up well through the field to score for the first time this season and myself. For the men, Ian Halpin, Phil Holland, Simon Read, Giles, Philip Mead, Tank Hardwick, Andy Atherton, Jeremy Bell and Joshua Dyball secured their best results of the season. The men finished 2nd in the team which meant they maintained their first place in the league.

The strong results by both teams meant that we were 2nd combined team however as we beat the previous top of the league, this meant Flyers are now league leaders. This is a brilliant performance showing that even with absentees our strength in depth is evident. The attendees remain high which also helps to lift the team. This was a fitting performance on the 2 year anniversary of the passing of Paul Lydon (Goldi), a runner steeped in Flyer's history and values.

The league is still extremely tight eg combined we lead on points difference from North Herts and it is all to play for. Please can you continue to support the Flyers at the next match at Standalone (North Herts home match) on the 17th December. Every place counts!

Julie and Mark

Chelmsford 10K - Sunday 19 November

A spot of race tourism as I travelled to leafy Essex with George Arbuckle to test the theory that a month after a marathon a 10k PB could be on the cards. Having never run below 40 minutes that was my goal. Billed as a fast course I was looking forward to all the downhills, unfortunately we weren’t allowed to run it in reverse. 2k in I was still running up an incline. At this point I may have rename Mark Waine to F@cking Waine. At 5k I clocked 19.27, a nice downhill section followed which was perfectly timed. At 7k there was a particulary unkind hill. Still I gritted my tooth and kept George in view, my thought process being if I can see George (certainly couldn’t understand him) then I must be on for a decent time. As we neared the finish I looked forward to seeing the clock, there wasn’t one (no expense spared). Official results clocked me at 38.51 with George 30 seconds ahead in 38.21.

Philip Horan

Shillington Shuffle-LDWA - Sunday 19 November

Having failed last year, on a less hilly route, to make my target time of 6.30.  I had tweaked a muscle & had to walk for at about 5 miles (not that my 'running' speed is much faster than a walk!) and only finished in 6.49. So this year I had a target of around 6.40  - and despite the hills (which these days I'm very slow at climbing) I was very pleased to finish in 6 hrs 39min

David Sedgley

A new course for this iconic event. Ran really well on a beautiful day with excellent organisation. Thank you LDWA!

Warwick Browning

Last Sunday a number of Flyers ventured to run the Shillington Shuffle which was nowhere near Shillington, starting and finishing at Barton. Conditions were good and four of us (Messr Lewis and Madam's Gibson and Oakley) set off at 9am. Early into the run, reports that Bedford was flat were disproved as nose bleeds and altitude sickness set in. The excitement of the high views and earache meant that it only took about a mile to discover an alternative route. One bench does look very much like another and when you've seen one kissing gate you have seen them all. There was also the key question of how long do you leave it before you realise you wont find that hedge - in our case about a mile downhill. This followed ignoring a mature lady walker at the top of the hill who advised we were going the wrong way. We had also picked up prior to this about 10 other runners including Oakley Senior and Mark Billington. They preferred staying on the higher ground and the facts will confirm that it took them hours longer to get back to the village hall. Some other runners did come with us and it was fair to say there were a couple of Doubting Thomas's in there. Hattie sought to address this by quoting from one of her favourite artists Lord Bon Jovi telling the runners, "keep the faith, keep the faith, lord you gotta keep the faith" which lead Jezza to sing George Michael. Sarah just went straight for the psychologicals quoting "PMA, PMA". As luck should find us we found a notice board with a map. After a quick lesson in map reading and which direction you are heading down on the map we plotted a course back to civilisation. It was joyous times when about a km later we saw fellow direction readers. It was very nice and social that we got the opportunity to pass again some walkers, including the previous mentioned mature lady walker, who we had run passed about 40 minutes earlier. We were back on track albeit 2 miles on the route was 3.5 on the garmin. Some of the guys who went with us went their own way and we hope they finished! After this it was plain sailing for us divided by some bourbon biscuits. A really nice route, weather and company we completed the 12 (13.5) mile route in 2 hrs 28 mins. Albeit one of our party exercised the let your teammate checkout at the beginning first and bag a cheap 1 min victory. Not a record but a good mornings work. Like last Christmas holidays we will plan to follow the course as a training run albeit with no diversions!

A.Nonymous [but reads like Mark Waine]

Dirt Half Marathon - Saturday 19 November

Great to see a gathering of flyers at the start of this semi off road half marathon. I scheduled this race in as part of my training and I am always keen to train with races as it improves race craft and keeps your efforts honest added to this I just love racing and feeling the adrenaline. I had the heads up to race in road shoes and not in trail shoes as the going was good to firm which it was until we hit the boggy fields and off road sections, I regret not wearing trail shoes as I was slipping all over the place and having to take a wide line. However I pushed all the way and pleased to match last year's time finishing 15th overall from 800 runners. Best bit was having tea and cake with all the great flyers at the finish, how I love my sport of running and the people in it, at the age of nearly 55 I am just so grateful just to be able to run and take part. Well done flyers you're brilliant.

Martin Beare

3 Counties XC Race 2: Wootton - Sunday 12 November

We had our largest turnout this season with 63 runners. Whilst the majority overall finish places may have been higher than race 1, this was skewed by the increased depth and quality with nearly an additional 100 runners.

We welcomed 15 men making their first outing this year (Messrs Ackerley, Anstee, Atherton, Beare, Bell, Cutler, Decesare, Dyball, Goddin, Haigh, Palmer, Rouse, Stanleys (Dave and Terry) and Walker) and 13 women (Ms's Aaktar, Anstee, Bartlett, Beare, Blackwell, Bowerman, Clark, Cornelius, Jones, Kelley, Morris, Ruditis and Palmer). Of the lady newbies, 3 of these made up the scoring team with Nic Bowerman 7th lady despite having an allergic reaction to Prosecco in the race and making the route that little bit slipperier, Deborah Beare 13th, and Louise Clark finishing 19th. They were accompanied by Hattie King who was 17th lady. The ladies improved on match 1 with a strong 3rd.

For the men we were fortunate that Craig Palmer travelled all the way up from Dorset to run (as did Mrs Palmer, Steph) despite racing yesterday. He had the added complication of losing a shoe with a mile to go but still plugged on for a brilliant 2nd. Pete Benedicter also raced yesterday but showed great toughness to finish 7th. Ian Halpin bagged another top run in a successful year with 14th, I finished 15th receiving good teamwork and encouragement on route by Phil Holland who came 18th. David Ackerley had a brilliant Flyers debut in 20th. Another runner who never seems to run a bad race and pulled out the stops just shy of his 55th birthday was Martin Beare. The most remarkable improvement this year has been Ross Henson. After beating his best ever performance in match 1 by over 100 places he improved further to record another personal best of 26th and his first in the scoring team. The scoring team was completed by John Decesare who we were fortunate attended as one of his eldest twins broke his collarbone on Thursday so had his 2 youngest and extremely well behaved twins in tow. John secured his best ever finish in 28th. Despite a number of absentees the mens team secured 1st place.

The combined team result was 1st. We beat Bedford into 2nd place by only 21 places. With the women's total being nearly 200 less than match 1, this demonstrated both the huge improvement but also the importance of those not in the scoring teams pushing other teams runners down the results. Was great again to see a big turnout today which helps lift the team and that we have massive depth. Runners are improving across the board and embracing cross country which will undoubtedly assist performances on other running surfaces. Next match is in a fortnight on Nov 26th. Please can you continue to support and drive the team forward in a supportive and welcoming environment. Thank you for all your efforts.

Julie and Mark

Cyclo-cross, Shuttleworth - Sunday 5 November

Another enjoyable but tough course which lent itself more towards a CX bike rather than a MTB, I’m  still not fast enough to beat the time cut off to allow a final lap but I will be booking MK bowl again in a few weeks. A big Thanks for the encouragement provided by Debs and Martin as I negotiated an energy sapping steep section.

Mike Petty - 5 laps 9:23/lap - 58th out of 69

Saucony English XC Relays at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield - Saturday 4 November

Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers had in its history only previously entered 1 team into this iconic race which consisted of Craig Palmer,Tim Harris,Phil Holland and Jason Moore finishing 69th. It was now time to get more Flyers teams involved on the national stage, at a time when the English Cross Country Association was also mentioning record entries.

The 2 Ladies teams set off at 2:05pm on leg 1 with Hattie King & Charlene Halpin getting stuck straight into the 3k loop, Both got their teams off to a great start with Hattie handing the baton over in 78th place and Charlene in 129th. Leg 2 saw Deborah Beare come tearing through the field taking her team up to 63rd place with Lisa Wells also moving her team up to 108th place. Leg 3 welcomed Julie (XC Captain ive forgot my shoes an already run 8 miles this morning) Pritchett complete the 3rd and final leg steering our first ever female flyers team home in a great 78th place and the other female team saw a Young Ellie thomas run a blinder  bringing the team up to a 95th - fantastic running. To have two Flyers teams home and dry inside the top 100 of a very strong national field was excellent to see and a brilliant performance. A Massive well done ladies. You have done yourself and the Flyers extremely proud.

Onto the Mens race 2:40pm 4 Geezers 2 x 2.5k laps. Bang goes the gun and Craig shoots off like a bull in a china shop going through the first mile a little too quick. This was not the ideal way to race and lead to running a slower 2nd lap praying that the Croatian Hero Love God didn't overtake him. Craig completed leg 1 in 48th pace with Ian completing the circuit handing over in 99th place, with top 100 in this field was a great start! Leg 2 we had Paul Farmer and Martin Beare and were hoping Paul would show some of the same form that once saw him complete this course in 16:09 many moons ago. After a week on holiday celebrating his anniversary with alternative training he tried to squirm out of running before eventually agreeing to run , handing over in 55th. Martin Beare who doesnt seem to age and keeps improving ran a strong leg of to hand over in 103rd place. Leg 3 Golden Boy Tim Harris who was feeling totally unwell minus his voice, ran purely because it was a team event. He ran a swift leg moving us into 51st place.  Richard Gale had a solid run in leg 3 handing over in 126th Place. Leg 4 also known as the glory leg, is where the field is very spread out so mental toughness is required. Max took the baton in 51st place and having no idea at the time with top 50 being a massive achievement ran solo picking off lots of back markers and working through the field to bring home the flyers in 50th place whilst Scott Huntley ploughing through the mud,hills and woods made great gains bringing the team home in 112th. There Were 245 Mens teams entered that day so to have one team 50th an the other 112th is a massive achievement putting Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers firmly on the map.

A massive well done to all those that took part, for David Thomas for his valuable support and Mark Waine for the entering side of things which I know is a pain in the arse. Those that did it and enjoyed spread the word because 2018 will see us return an climb the National ladder again with Ian the croatian hero the captain and again I will assist.

Craig Palmer

Enigma Marathon Day 1 - Saturday 4 November

Day 766 (slight correction on my counting) of the current running streak, marathon 26 of the year and 86th overall. WARNING - the following may offend those that like running 7 and a bit times around a lake in MK. The main issue was, it was 7 and a bit times around a lake in MK. TBH, I didn’t want to do it, the weather turned with grey skies and rain (which lasted most of the run) and the 50 odd entrants seemed to know each other and no one said a word to me. It was flat and almost impossible to get lost. Which I did, albeit for a short time. There was quite a small field and only 33 finished. It didn’t help my mood that the whippet at the front ran a sub 3 race, lapping me on two occasions. That being said, I also lapped a couple twice as well, so he must have done them 4 times. It was laps of Caldecott Lake in MK and I entered really as part of the drive to get to 100 marathons next year. I prefer races where the scenery changes and there is something new to occupy your mind when the going gets tough. There were positives. It was local, I was able to rock up just before the start and was back home in time for a late lunch. There was water and nibbles every 4 miles or so and I finished. 

Paul Owen - 4:21:20

Beachy Head Marathon - Saturday 28 October

Day 757 of my current running streak, marathon number 85 to date and the 25th of the year so far for me. This time it was the turn of Beachy Head, with the steepest start to any race I have ever done. Within 40 feet most of the field were walking the first of many, many inclines. The course went up or down the entire way, with next to no flat sections and all on trail. The views justified the climbs and the weather Gods were kind to us. It got blustery up top, but the spirit among the runners was good, aided by plenty of water stops with goodies including sausage rolls and boxes of mars bars. I even joined in with the band at one check point, well at least for the paparazzi snaps. The last 6 miles were along the coastal path, atop the Seven Sisters. Boy, those siblings are beautiful but exhausting and just as hard going down as up. Just 3 Flyers made the long trip down to the seaside and I came third behind Chris and Mark who sprinted off down the last steep hill leaving me coughing in all the dust he kicked up. It was on the whole a lovely, scenic course, with plenty of aid stops and a field of runners all the way which meant navigation wasn’t an issue. I am running so many marathons at the moment, my legs are generally tired all the time. I might well come back and give this a proper go next year. The race organisers say add 45 mins onto your normal road time. I suspect an hour is more accurate. Not a course for a PB, but one to be enjoyed.

Paul Owen

3 Counties XC Race 1: Wellingborough - Sunday 26 October

The first Three Counties cross-country fixture 1 took us to Wellingborough where the Flyers rocked up with a great turnout of 57 runners plus helpers and supporters. A tweak to the course meant the largest ditch was removed but rather than make this easier, it meant we had an additional technical section with a triple up/down hill section and an additional long stretch into the wind. After another mild summer with many road races this was a big test as the course was both "undulating" and quick with still the joy of ditch clearing and not being able to rest on laurels and having to carry on driving the legs forward.

All of the Flyers though performed admirably, demonstrating the progression across the board. Pat Godfrey, Dave Sedgely, Nicola Wilkins, Louise Wilkins, Steve Gibbons, Charlene Halpin, Becs Fleckney, Paresh Aaktar, Denise Browning, Richard Gale, Sally Sawkins, Lisa Wells, Simon Wilkins, Hattie King, Mark Billington, Caroline Gilby, Fraser Geddes, Tank Hardwick, Chris Newnham, Stephen Mullins, Ross Henson, Phil Mead, Warwick Browning, Richard Stanley, Jeremy Godfrey, Ian Halpin, Phil Holland, Paul Farmer and Tim Harris all improved on last years position at Wellingborough with excellent gains confirming their progression over another discipline. In addition we welcomed a sea of cross-country debutantes including two Sophie Windmill and Joe Strange who were part of the scoring team. We also welcomed couch to 5k graduates to the team.

At the fore of the race was Tim Harris who after a lull in his running in the Spring/Summer proved that form is temporary and class is eternal and was back like a duck to water (though his photo showed potential to improve on his water crossing) re-stamping his authority on the country for a great win. Tim lead the men to a resounding team victory supported by Max Dillon, Pete Benedicter, Paul Farmer, Joe Strange, Ian Halpin, Mark and Phil Holland.

The ladies despite having approximately 8 runners missing who had been multiple scorers for the team historically worked really hard and ran excellently with Hattie, Caroline Gilby, Sophie and Lisa Wells bringing the team home in 5th place. In the overall combined competition we were 3rd team and the 6 points we finished ahead of 4th was a strong example of how every place counts and the benefit of all runners seeking to push opposition down a place.

Big thanks to Phil Bierton and Richard Jones for doing the scoring, Martin Godin and the supporters including Samantha Walters, Shelly Harris, Finley Harris, the family Holland and the photography skills of Caroline O'Mahoney. Thank you to Mark Billington for driving Barry home after his calf injury. In addition to the great performances in the race, it was an excellent day of Flyers supporting each other with lots of laughs through the pain and drive of the cross country. This was another great advert for a great club.

I hope overall everyone enjoyed the experience even if there were a number of challenging moments out on the course. Please use this as a further catalyst to kick on and continue the improvement. In addition to cross country the overall strength gained will help road and it is good to participate where it is more on positions than times. The next cross country is 12th November Wootton. Lets seek to improve further together both as individuals and team. Your continued support and teamwork is really appreciated. Well done to you all.

Julie and Mark

Cyclo-cross, Milton Keynes - Saturday 21 October

November's Outdoor Fitness magazine featured an article on new  cyclo-cross bikes, so I thought I would give it a go, especially as the CX Central League allows MTB’s. The MK Bowl was transformed into a snaking cycling arena, with many races from Boys/Girls U8 to male Vet 50+(lovingly referred to by the commentator as Old Gits). Some races are grouped together, so MV40~49 race with juniors (possibly under 21). Male V50+ rode with senior women. I had a great first ride but soon realised that CX riders are super fit.

The start is like a F1 grid( good scoring riders start closer to the front) and not surprisingly incidents and likely to happen at the first bend, it did for me I fell off, after that it was simply head down and hang on to  the finish. I averaged 10:12 for 4 x 2.4km laps, the winner was clocking 7:43, the Men’s Seniors were sub 7min. Any way not being demoralised I hope to give Shuttleworth a go next and my future target is to keep sufficiently in touch to allow me to complete a final lap before the 40min time cut off.

54th out of 66 with 4 laps completed(40:50); Winner 5 laps completed in 38:35

Mike Petty

Lisbon Marathon - Sunday 15 October

Three years ago (2014) Mrs H and I both had entries for this coastal marathon, along with our friends Simon and Mike.We were also joined by Mike’s wife Sylvia and friend Richard. Karen and I where both suffering with bad colds so for once we listened to our bodies and supported our friends instead (as well as enjoying the sunshine and beer!).

The route follows the coast (after a loop) from Cascais to Lisbon and for supporters also follows the train line - it’s really easy to jump on and off the train and support your friends. I always wanted to go back and Mike had wanted to go back to do the route justice having been injured on the run up to his first marathon - the 2014 event. So Mike and I along with supporters Mrs H, Sylvia and Richard all piled over to Cascais (the start of the marathon). It is a pretty scenic run for the first 30 odd kilometres before it runs into the suburbs of Lisbon (it being a point to point race) and undulating for the first third. The current route sends you initially along the coast (away from Lisbon) before turning round and coming back through Cascais and on to Lisbon. This initial loop gives you that rare opportunity in a marathon (albeit early on) to see the front of the race coming back to you (we were at 4k when they where at 8!) and also the back end of the race - we were at 7k and he was at 5k. Certainly lets you know your place in the race!

To be fair we had never really set any goals and I’d spent a bit to much time focussed on the Etape du Tour cycle ride in the Alps and then a week or so cycling in Switzerland. The marathon really needed to be a month further away. Having said that I just wanted to be a bit quicker than my last marathon (London 2016 - 4.43). Training, such as it was, said we were in the ball park.

Come the day come 30 degree heat! We started off fine (it’s an 8am start) and we were happy(ish) just in front of the 4.30 group. However come about 14k in and after a few testing slopes we were both wanting to ease up and by the halfway mark it was starting to become obvious that it was going to be tough - half the water was going in us the other half over us! Mike took a bit of a prolonged water stop at about 23k and I sort of plodded on. I was pleased to meet up again with the support group and to get a cap. At 30k I was a few minutes over 3 hours. Here however the course moved away from the coast and the cooling breeze. Not sure if it’s the heat (not good in the heat and suffered sunstroke cycling a few years ago - not nice!), ran out of energy or not enough training but the last 8k was very hot, painful and slow.

Very glad to finish and glad to have snuck under London - 4.38 (Mike finished about 7 minutes later and an hour quicker than 2014).  Maybe it’s time for the North European Capital City marathons having now done Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Paris, Florence....

Richard Hollingsworth - 4:38:26

Birmingham International Marathon - Sunday 15 October

A week after my double Barrow and time for the inaugural Birmingham International marathon, which meant as far as I could tell they had people enter from places like Dudley. The organisation and route need improving. The start of the race at 8.30am was too early for those travelling to the event on the day from further afield. I had to leave home at 5.15am to get to the 7am bus pick up. We arrived at the stadium 10 mins later and then had to wait outside for 1hr 20 for the start.  Far too early. They did have a second wave starting an hour later, which I later learned was for those with a slower predicted finish time. The first section of the course was undulating along a duel carriageway involving under and over passes. At around mile mile 7 we started a large loop, which we returned to at around 15 1/2 miles and had to run it again. The major problem with the second loop, was we joined into the throng of the second wave and instantly the road became awash with runners who were running slower than I was. In places the road became very narrow for sections and it was hard to overtake. If you were running around 3.30-3.45 pace you would probably miss the main pack, but I wasn’t and hit it full on.  The second wave needs to start 90 mins later or lose the double loop. It was a little dull doing it twice, through an area that wasn't that nice. This was probably the worst designed section of a race I have been in. There were some ok sections in the race and the finish was quite nice in the city centre. There was a lot of support on the course which was good and a lot of runners at the end, as the half marathon started at 1.30pm which was an odd time, presumably to get the marathon runners out of the way.

Paul Owen - 3:57:36

Great Barrow Marathon Challenge - Sat/Sunday 7/8 October

Almost stepping off the plane from Florida and running a double marathon weekend wasn’t, with hindsight, the best of plans. The Barrow events area based in Suffolk and use a variety of routes including trail, road and a mix of both. The two weekend races were both on tarmac and consequently were a little duller than normal. Mark Rouse was too unwell to run and Paul Barton went finishing instead on day one, so I was on my own and ran both races with just me, myself and I for company. I felt tired and jet lagged on day one, but by day two it hit me badly. I was shattered and should have stayed in bed, but I’m on a mission to get to the 100 and that got me there. As a result, day two was a lot slower and I was so far back, even the race director asked me at one point if I was ok! These events are low key, reasonably priced at about £30, nice medals with lots of checkpoints stocked with food and water (4 on day one and 5 on day two). They probably appeal to the more seasoned marathon runners who are looking for quieter events than the often over priced big city runs but there was a first time marathon runner at one of the events.

Paul Owen - 4:36:45 & 5:34:36

Chester Marathon - Sunday 8 October

This was the 4th time I have run the Chester marathon (and the last, promise). They also offer a metric option (26.2km) for those not wanting to run the full, an offer that was taken up by my wife Lorraine. A well organised event on a scenic route taking in part of Wales. There were a few hills on what is an undulating course, most notably just before miles 5, 16 and again at mile 24. I trained hoping to dip under 3.20 and was chuffed to finish in 3:19:45 (according to the official results). Lorraine ran the furthest she has EVER run in her life. She never stopped and finished with a smile on her face (quite possible a grimace) in a time of 3.06.20 which was a fantastic achievement. To celebrate we had a post marathon roast (dinner that is).

Many thanks to all the support received from my fellow flyers both during the 4 months of training and the post marathon messages. When I joined the club back in 2011 I was tipping the scales at just under 16 stone (all muscle probably) and could barley manage 5k. Fast forward 6 years and I have clocked times/distances I never thought achievable.

Philip Horan

Lanhydrock Park Run - Saturday 7 October

It was great to run with Mrs Annie Page again in her local park run, a tough course with a cracker of a hill - glad its not my home event thats for sure! although beautiful scenery round these parts! more or less straight to the pub after the rehydrate and refuel! Annie says hi to all that remember her and she is enjoying cornish life immensely!

Becs 34:48

Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2017 18:32