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National English Aquathlon Championships - Sunday 22 July

Format 750m swim/5km run (non wetsuit swim). I entered this race last year to try and qualify for yet another (and potentially final) major championship event next year. Unfortunately I made a slight error, being aquathlon I was stupidly believing that most competitors would rather race triathlon and that this field would be low. I got the low bit right but failed on the quality.......instead of Pepsi and Shirley turning up for a quick paddle, it got to the point where I thought the Brownlees were going to turn up. Also on the horizon was this event being non wetsuit..........the first ever event in my 10 years of triathlon. Thankfully I predicted this week's ago and trained for quite some time in the lake. The only issue here was, I was massively slower. Despite all this, I just got on with it, I just needed to do my own race, go as hard as I could and deal with it. The swim was awesome.......if slow, I enjoyed it so much, kept out of danger and done my own thing. Eventually out, t1 was slightly messy but no wetsuit so quicker, I knew then I was in trouble as there were very few in front therefore I was a long way back. I just carried on climbing as many places as I could.......turns out I made up 31 places in total on the run. I won't lie, I was heart sunken at the end, but swim coach Adam was there and reminded me of the high quality field and once again, not to take these events too seriously, just try and go and enjoy. The final results seem ok.....a bit tight though, but now is the awkward bit of awaiting the qualifying result.

Leigh Pilgrim - 37:44

Hannington Hike-LDWA - Sunday 15 July

I did the 14 mile option of the Hannington Hike on Sunday 15th July. Also with me were Caroline and Brendan O’Mahoney. We all finished in 3.52, having had a longer than normal break at the 6 mile checkpoint owing to Brendan’s bag suddenly having a ‘bladder leakage’ problem. It was also boiling hot so we weren’t exactly pushing ourselves! The homemade quiches, potato salad and other salads were delicious at the end. Hopefully there was some left over for the four crazy but resilient Flyers who did the 28 mile route…. Definitely worth the £12 entry fee. (Less if you join the LDWA.)

Laura Johnston

Milton Keynes (EMGP) 10K - Tuesday 1- July

This race was chosen for me by my coach designed to get me to work hard on tired legs with my training plan giving me 20hrs of training per week made up of swim, bike, run working towards my world Ironman championships in Hawaii. I must confess I was very nervous as I have not raced a running race for 6 months due to 4 months of an injury issue and also due to my coach stopping me from racing as it inturups with key sessions. I had almost forgotten how to race and pace myself as i don't use Garmin etc. Suffice to say I found it hard from the start to the finish with no 10k spicific training and my legs feeling heavy from the previous days long bike ride, however that was the plan to see how I would cope fatigued. In short I survived not my best ever 10k but good enough to get me 1st in age group amongst a very healthy field of runners as this was the last round of the eastern grand prix series. well done to all the AFF who also braved the heat that evening it was great to catch up with you guy's.

Martin Beare 0:38:44

Luton Airport Runway 4.5K - Friday 6 July

For many of you, travelling to Luton Airport early in the morning is to go away on holiday. For me Friday 6th July was different. I took part in a charity Airport runway run, giving runners the opportunity to run on the runway. The event was organised by Macmillan Cancer charity and Luton Airport operations. As some might imagine, being able to get on the runway is something that doesn’t happen unless you work there or are flying. Places for this event were limited. This event did come with its challenges. The runway would be closed between 4 and 5am to allow the event to take place which meant I had to get up not later than 2am, get to the airport, attempt some kind of warm up (if at all) and be ready for running at 4am.

I contacted Paul Owen from the club who has had experience of running in various times of day and asked for his advise on how to cope with a run like this at such an early time. The advise given, including changes to sleeping patterns and nutrition, won the day for me, which I’m so grateful for. The evening before, I couldn’t sleep, it was very humid and I was particuly concerned about sleeping through the five alarms I had set!! It must have been adrenaline, but 1:30am I decided to get up. I felt particlulay good, small bite to eat, and some water.

I left home at 2am, arrived at the airport and got ready………. I must admit I got a few weird looks from passengers on the bus to the airport seeing me in running gear trying to jog up and down the car park………but we won't go there………. Once ready, walking to the meeting point near the terminal around 3am, there were cars and passengers everywhere, I was actually thinking, have I got the right day here!!!!?? At the meeting pointing point, I signed in, was provided a hi viz jacket and headed onto the bus with the other runners. At 3:45am the bus left and we headed out onto the runway. I don’t think many people could believe quite what we were doing. We got off the bus and the adrenaline was huge, we were on the runway and it was all lit up.

The operations staff were brilliant, lined us all up for the start. The fireman then shouted the count down and we were off. Despite it being 4am, I was running suprisingly well, I must have been on "autopilot". I completely forget where I was and just ran. Getting to the end of the runway, we turned around and then run back to where we started. Coming to the end, I crossed the finishing line. I turned around and could see the wave of runners coming down, the runway lights and the sunrise. I have seen many sights in my life, this is defiantly one to remember.

The actually run distance was approximately 4.5km, maybe slightly under, Despite it being a charity event and of course, 4am start, there were some serious runners turn up. I managed to finish 1st in a self time of 14:56, but I had to put in a sprint finish as 2nd and 3rd were only seconds behind so I had to work hard for it. I cannot describe the view and atmosphere, with the sun just stating to rise, beautiful conditions, it was absolutely amazing. A running experience I won’t forget.

Leigh Pilgrim 14:56

Biggleswade Track Fest - Thursday 5 July

What a fun evening! Felt like I was back at school. Some were there just to get the boxes ticked off for the 30 x 30 challenge, where as I found it a workout in itself, having not done much running recently. It was great to observe some fantastic runners, and to see the young children taking part and doing sooooooo well. A good evening was had by all, even though we were thrashed by the youngsters.

Nichole Neate

Herts Hobble Marathon - Sunday 24 June

I've done this event every year for at least 12 years and every year it's a new delightful route through the East Herts countryside. This was another very hot day and although I was travelling well for 1st half, I slowed a lot (& spent more time in checkpoints) after 2pm. Also, the continuous dry weather recently, meant that any uneven ground was more lumpy than it would have been & I found it unrunnable - and there seemed a lot of this in the final 8 miles. Consequently my time was about 40 mins more than I'd hoped.

Dave Sedgley - 7:39

Bressay Parkrun - Saturday 9 June

The chance to take part in the most northerly Parkrun in the UK seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The main problem was I'd spent 12.5 hours sailing to Lerwick from Aberdeen, and had hardly any sleep! So two hours after arriving in the Shetlands I was lining up with a select group of runners on the nearby island of Bressay. The course was described as "undulating" and it certainly had a few ups on the out & back route. Recent injury meant I'd not done a lot of running for a month, so the time was not that great. However, the compensation was learning I was 20th across the line and 4th in my age group. That's not likely to happen very often, so a good start to my trip.

Barry Dackombe - 26:58

Ewelme Chiltern Chase 15K Trail-3 June

A first time run for all five of us who took part and the event was chosen to meet the 15k requirement in the Thirty by Thirty Challenge. The event started and finished in the lovely south Oxfordshire village of Ewelme. As you look down in to the valley from the car park, in a field, it is truly beautiful to see as Red Kites hovered and swooped all around the village. The red poppy field caught the attention and so did the rolling landscape. In fact as we walked down the path it was all set for a Midsummer Murder, so much did it look like the villages in that series! Luckily nothing out of the ordinary happened! The 15k course consisted of a 5k route round the village followed by a 10k, which followed part of the 5k at the end. The race consisted of some road, paths, field and track so, almost everything. Mainly dry (one large puddle which was skirted round if you wanted), with some definite slopes up it was a very pleasant run in the hot sunshine. Beautiful scenery and well marshalled with support through the village. This is most certainly a run I would do again. The field consisted mainly of club runners from the clubs around the area with very few non club competitors. Not for the faint hearted but not too difficult either. A very enjoyable day!

Warwick & Denise

30M Night Run - Saturday 26 May

As part of the clubs 30 year celebrations a number the mighty AFF crew met for fish and chips at 9pm in the centre of Ampthill, before heading off on a planned 30 mile xc overnight trail run. Claire Jones, Chris Newnham, Jessica Anstee, Jonny Oakley, Sally Sawkins, Rebecca Fleckney, Brendan O’Mahoney, Louise Wilkins, Mark Rouse, Christine Sharman and myself were all a tad apprehensive at the start given the weather forecast. The salty chips were washed down with a cold Bud, while we waited for the clock to strike 10 in Ampthill town centre. The bells set us off and we headed towards the horizon. It was warm enough to run in short sleeved t-shirts, albeit we knew at some point we were going to get wet. Leg one took us into Eversholt where we met what turned out to be the crews Sherpa, Richard No 2 Jones. Claire and Christine were running the first two legs and RJ had intended to join us at 2am. Leg two took us through Woburn deer park and the magnificent beast's looked awesome. The deer looked pretty sharp as well. We had a minor emergency halfway through just outside Ridgmont, as Sally felt her toenail about to fall off. Don't panic I said, I've got it covered. And took a few snaps of said digit for Facebook purposes later.

We had a picnic in Woburn at 1am and became even more concerned about the thunder and lighting that seemed to be getting closer and which we were definitely running towards. The trail took us through a very dark section and a short while later, the inevitable rain started albeit slowly at first. And then bang, the heavens opened. The thunder and lighting was impressive but there was no chance to enjoy. We all instantly got soaked and I don't think we could have been wetter if we had sat in a bath. At checkpoint 3, huddled under the protection of a petrol station roof at 2am in the centre of Woburn Sands, a couple of us did question the wisdom of carrying on, but all credit to Brendan who unwavering said we are going to do it. That was a low point, but once we got going again the rain did eventually stop and the wicking gear did help a tad.

Paul Owen

North Downs Way 50 - Sunday 20 May

Number 2 of my 'Grand Slam' was the North Downs Way 50. A regal wedding weekend obviously meant it would be a hot one. An additional issue being that I'd double booked a surprise murder mystery trip for the wife. This meant I had to leave my car at the finish, train to the start, over night, run the event and then be in Grantham no later than 7pm. What could go wrong.....

The NDW is considered trickier than the earlier venture on the South Downs Way. Statistics show the second half is roughly 1.4 times slower and this is likely due to the Box Hill steps, Reigate Hill and Botley Hill, not to mention the rougher tracks and terrain.

We set off at 8am in the cool of the morning. Much of the first half was meandering, enjoyable track and very runnable terrain. With a more focus approach to CPs and the echoing sound of the wife in my mind, I was keen to make swift progress in the first half and then grind out the latter. This plan seemed to work well; I hit halfway in 3:30 (despite a minor navigational issue adding half a mile) and progressed through the marathon in 3:44 (happy days indeed). Knowing the difficulty of the next part and the fact that temperatures were rising, I could feel a 'hunk a hunk a burning love' developing in some joints and toenails. Hydration was key and keeping cool even more so. I kept pushing hard but at about 45 miles began to feel the effects of the heat. I had to keep calm and remain focused because I was within the 8 hour mark (a key timing due to the drive following the finish). Those last few miles were punishing and my pacing dropped badly, I also felt the need to pass out somewhere. However, I soon heard cheers in a far away field; a festival, jumble sale or perhaps village fete? No, the finish line and I literally collapsed over it. 3 quick cups of tea later, I was in the car and utterly energised by pulling off a sub 8 hour time and coming in as 9th male.

Next up in the Grand Slam is the Chiltern Wonderland 50 in September; it looks to be a stunning meander through some of local stomping ground.

Scott (should my toenails really be that colour?) Huntley - 7:59.51

Grafman Triathlon - Sunday 20 may

It's been quite a while since I last did a race report as I haven't raced for 4 months due to injury. Happy all fixed now but lost all run speed and fitness so this half Ironman distance at Grafam water was always going to be a bit unknown run wise.

I won't bore you with all the details but delighted to finish with no issues injury wise however not as fast as my usual run. A bonus I was 1st in age category.

A few hairy moments on the bike course firstly 2 horse rider's lost control of there horses as they bolted and crossed my path almost colliding with me, secondly a fellow competitor crashing into me as he lost control.

Well done to flyers Jamie and Fraser who raced too unfortunately Steve Gibson's had DNF following 2 punctures. Special thanks to Ian and Charlene Halpin for making the trip to support and for Debs for looking after me and supplying my treat of Tunnocks tea cakes.

Martin Beare 4.52.55

Luton Airport Pasque Hospice 10K - Friday 18 May

Another great event organised by the Pasque Hospice, supported by London Luton Airport. Very warm weather and exposure to many aircraft (and the fuel) taking off and landing. This is an opportunity to get close to the aircraft and run what is a quite hilly course. Surprisingly there is very little flat with the start being very gently uphill followed by a down hill quite steep at the western end of the runway. This of course turns into uphill all the way past the 2.5k mark where you go gently down hill to the eastern end of the runway and then several ups and downs to the turn point and back. Well organised and a different run and raising funds for charity - strongly recommended!

Warwick & Denise Browning 45:56, 54:06

Kassios Dias 5M Trail - Kassiopi Corfu - Sunday 6 May

This is a wonderful run based in Kassiopi NE Corfu which we have done several times before. We normally run the 23k race but with being injury hit this year and just having started running again we both opted for the 5 mile off road race. This follows the 23k for 4k and then comes back down hill. There is a quick start round the headland at Kassiopi and then after a mile its a up, up and away - steep hills and steps take you up through the wonderfully lush foothills of Mount Pandokrator . The path is very well prepared by the organising team and at 4k it drops down to cross the main road and through olive groves to touch the edge of Avlaki bay before a small piece of road, track, beach and a sting in the tail up hill and finishes going down the main town road onto slippery paving and up the ramp to finish in amongst the Sumba drummers in warm sunshine! Afterwards wonderful meal of kebabs, potato's and salad. This is the most hospitable race we have ever run. All proceeds from the 8k this year went to support a local children's charity. It is a great value race and a number of Brits enter every year, including a contingent from the Durrell's production crew!

Warwick & Denise Browning: 44:16, 53:43

RAID AZUR (2 day mountain marathon in south of France) – 28/29 April

Whilst most of you were helping with, or taking part in the 10K, I was on my second day of finding my way around the woods & hills of the amazing area of the Gorges du Verdon Nature reserve.

I was there with my partner David doing a 2 day score event - which had been planned by our good friend Jacques Amiot (ex French fighter pilot) who organised his own event for many years, and which I had done most years since 2000.

As he had found it difficult to continue organizing with his small team, he had decided to help plan this event instead - and we were there to support him. Well, he had given us free entry to the event!

Registration opened at 9.00am and there we collected our dossards (numbers) and last minute instructions. Then back to B&B. via supermarket, as the start was not till 1.00pm. Early lunch, or was it second breakfast? consumed, and rucksacks packed, we arrived at the start to have our kit checked about noon.

After more instructions from organizers (mostly incomprehensible to the 3 British teams) each team stood on start line behind maps held to the ground by large stones. We were doing the long course (5 hours each day) and suddenly realised we should be on front line otherwise we would have the maps for a shorter course!

After the shout of "Allez" we were off! Well, we picked up maps, ambled forwards a few yards to find somewhere to sit down and plan our route. The idea is simple: score as many points as possible in the 5 hours. You score points by finding 'controls' (red & white orienteering kites) marked on the map: controls further away, or with more climb, score more points.

We decided to head for 2 controls at eastern edge of map which were worth 30 & 40 points and not bother with most of the 5 pointers near the start. Being the oldest (potentially slowest) competitors we knew we wouldn't visit many controls and as the overnight camp was only 3K NE of the start we could plan later, when we knew how far we had done, whether we had time for more points nearer the finish. So we set off to pick up just one 5 pointer' only to find that the high wall on our left had no exit where I expected one! We had to follow the wall SW for 5 mins before finding an arch, then NE back to the road. mm We got the 5 pointer then I decided the best route to our next (10 point) control would be a minor track to SE. It soon became almost untraceable and then ended up at fences with houses behind. Trying to find a way out took ages - so we went all the way back to junction and on a better track which we should have taken in the first place! This meant we had taken 42 mins between 2 controls which we should have done in 12!

On now to the 30 point control and after nearly 2 hours in the hot sun the climb started to get steep. But the view from the control was amazing! So we stopped for a bite & drink and re-plan. We decided the much bigger climb to get the 40 points might mean we were over time and penalties could mean we'd lose everything! So we headed down a minor track in direction of campsite to pick up 20 points instead, followed by a 5 pointer only just over a K from the finish. Here we now had 1.5 hours left so went back up into hills (NE on less steep good track) for 2K for another 20 points. Then a circuit back to camp along which we spectacularly failed to find a 10 point control as we spent 20 mins looking for it too high up the track!

Our printout said we had finished with 11 mins to spare and had 90 points - which I was happy with as we'd messed up early on! Our original plan should have given us 110.

The Campsite was amongst trees, in little clearings, and after we’d pitched there was soup provided by the organisers. A full moon with clear sky meant some birds were chirping merrily all night!

The start for those doing the long course was at 7.30am so we were up shortly after 6am for another day in full sun – though rather chilly at the start. We spent a bit longer planning than we had yesterday – then went north on the road for 2K to do a short up & back on a track for 10 points. Then north a bit further and NE on a circuit to get 20. We then had a line of five more 20s going west, with a variety of forest paths, open ground, and road or wide track – with plenty of choice for turning south if time got short.

We had to abort the second of these when the narrow forest path seemed to disappear, and after searching in dense undergrowth we couldn’t find a way through. So climbing out of the steep ravine we took to the road for a bit and onto the next 2 which were both short doglegs N of the road. Then a short distance south to the last of the 20s followed by a bit of tricky navigation back to the road.

Heading south we had 2 hours left for the 6K treck on tired legs to the finish. We bagged another 10 and a 5 (all controls nearer the finish were 5 points) and decided we had time for a diversion off the shortest route for an extra 5. But having got it the paths ran out – so we had a long push through dense woodland added at least 10 mins to the route. We were lucky; we found the end of another path which led to the main track. [The Scottish team got stuck here and were late back – losing lots of points! ]

2K to go with 30 mins left. We made it with 7 minutes to spare – and a total of 135 points. A much better day. I was pleased with what we’d done as we had a good mixture of terrain with some proper orienteering between road sections.

So how far was that then? It’s a question I’m often asked, and the answer is: You don’t know till you’ve done it – particularly on ‘Score’ event. Measuring our route on the map afterwards we did 17.5K on day 1 and 20K on day 2. This doesn’t seem much in 5 hours – but it includes route planning, stopping to make route choices and refuelling, some very slow terrain, and of course a few hills.

If there is anyone out there who might be interested, I am looking for a partner for the Sanders LMM in Lake District on 30th June/1st July. For the first time this has a score class.

David Sedgley & David Peregrine - Third British team

Salcome Head to Head Trail Half - Saturday 22 April

As some of you will know, this race was chosen by my sister to attend as a family to celebrate her 60th Birthday, as you do, her two daughters, hubby plus a few friends providing running support, her youngest daughter had trained by doing 2 x 3mile runs! And she finished looking fresh as a button!

She had no idea that I would be there and I can admit I was a little choked when we met up.

The event was a joint 10k and trail half start and including many running with dogs. The half involved 2300ft of accents, mainly in the second half and was somewhat like the grizzly, but without the mud. the return along the South Coast Path gave fabulous views of this craggy coast line.

It was tough event not made any easier by my three daft errors, 1. not wearing a hat, 2 only drinking 3 cups of water and 3. wearing a warm long sleeved cycling top. Basically I ground to a shuffle over the last 1.8 miles, taking me 28min to complete. 125 finishers, with only 5 people managing under 2hours. as for me I came in in 43rd position in 2hrs 33min and my super sis only 7 minutes later. I know first hand how many London Marathon runners must have felt on Sunday running in the heat.

Mike Petty 2:33 (43rd)

Patrouille des Glaciers - 17/18 April

Another iconic race – this time on skis. Held every two years and organised by the Swiss Army, the PDG probably holds top spot in the world of ski mountaineering (skimo) racing. In this genre you walk up the mountain (heel binding released and mohair skins on the base of the ski in order to go uphill), then lock in the boot, take off the skins and ski down (and then repeat multiple times). This particular race starts in Zermatt and ends in Verbier - so between the two you have 53km of horizontal distance, 4000m of climbing (and descending), no pistes and plenty of mountains and glaciers to traverse. The race is for teams of three and is targeted to finish at 2.30 in the afternoon (when the avalanche risk starts to rise). The result is that the racing snakes start at between 1.30 and 3am, the completers like us start earlier in the night (22:45 in our case). There are about 400 teams doing the race with another 450 joining at the half way mark in Arolla – so quite busy give that everyone is following the same route.

The whole of Zermatt seems to be up to send you on your way and after almost 3 hours all teams have to rope up (skiing in the dark on a glacier is not without hazards). We eventually reached the top of the climb at Tete Blanche ( 3600m) and then we had a terrifying but very exhilarating descent (still roped together) hurtling down the mountain, overtaking all and sundry in the pitch black. Another skin up to Col de Bertol, then rope off and a leg burning descent over rock hard mogul fields to Arolla. Another skin up, then boot up to Col de Riedmatten just as the sun was rising. After roping down to a more skiable but still steep slope I made the mistake of not locking my boots in ski mode. Since they are super light (i.e. not rigid when unlocked) and with the snow still frozen I soon found myself hurtling downhill with skis, poles and large parts of my back scattered across the slope. Fortunately no bones broken but I did suffer a bit thereafter. After a 1000m skin/boot up to Roseblanche in the blazing sunshine, our spirits lifted. There were perhaps 250 people in the crowd on top of mountain to cheer the racers on (to get there they had done a 2-3 hour skin/ski from the nearest lift). From there on the event got easier, the sun hotter, the numbers in the crowds ever growing and we eventually got to a packed Verbier somewhat ahead of schedule (this was our first skimo race). All in all a fantastic race for those who like this kind of thing!

Phil Wolstencroft - 13:46:09

South Downs Way 50 - Saturday 7 April

This year I've decided to attempt Centurion Running's 'Grand Slam' of 50 mile Ultras. This consists of four 50 mile events; the South Downs Way 50, North Downs Way 50, Chilterns 50 and Wendover Woods 50.

The South Downs Way 50 was a tough run, it presents plenty of long drawn out hills and these make up for the 1800m of overall ascent. To add to the flavour, the wind on the tops was pretty beastly but this was tempered with the first sign of warmth this year, particularly evident in the valleys (boyo). Conditions were good overall with runnable trails throughout (owing to the chalk bedrock) and a cool start was very welcome.

I'd originally planned to run somewhere around 10 hours based on a previous 50 miler in the Lake District. Progress was steady and things were all fine for about 20 miles. At CP 3 however, I snacked on some delicious fruit cake, well, it was nice at first. I suffered some less than enjoyable reflux for a while after this and it made things a little uncomfortable to say the least. Fuelling on Ultras can sometimes be a pain, but you have to push through and make progress when possible. My second half was a tad slower but I'd worked through the field quite well by then so focused on plodding on and keeping an even pace.

Undeterred by my vocal proclamations to the god of cakes, and still wading my way through the rolling countryside, I tuned in to some vintage Beatles. Following this, I ramped up the energy on the home leg and selected some classic Iron Maiden; I made for a 'sprint' to the 165bpm rhythm of 'Powerslave' (quite apt I thought) and finally finished a little under 8hrs15mins. A great way to start the year and overall, a great day all round.

Scott Huntley - 8:13:14

Great Barrow Marathon Challenge - Friday 30 March & Sunday 1 April

During the quest for the 100 marathon vest, I first stumbled across the Great Barrow Challenge events last year and since then have managed 12 or so of their races. They have five reasonably scenic albeit undulating courses based near Bury St Edmunds and run a 10 in 10 days challenge in the summer. This time around they put on four races, covering both half and full distances. Friday and Sunday were on the same route, as were Saturday and Monday. I only needed to do one, but if I managed two the plan was to drop out of Manchester or London and save a few bob. On the Friday, I ran most of the way with Mark Rouse and the first twenty miles flew by. It was all on quiet country lanes and even though I had run it before, I couldn’t quite recall it which helped. In the week leading up to the event, I ate well for once and stayed on the wagon, which meant by mile 20 all that goodness needed to come out. I pulled over for a pit stop and told Mark to press on, as I did have one eye on getting up and doing one the next day. He did and managed one of his best times. I kept it steady and felt as though I could run on at the end, but at the same time I was happy to stop.

The next day, the alarm went off at 5.50am, I looked out the window at the rain and went back to bed. Plan B was to run on the Sunday on the same undulating country lane course as Fridays race which I did managing to run this one quicker. From around mile 7 to 20 I didn’t see anyone in front or behind, but despite the loneliness in parts I found myself running better than two days earlier. I had thought at one point I might slip in under 4, but I slowed from 19 on. Running 38 marathons in 15 months leaves a fairly constant tiredness in the limbs and that can get magnified in the latter part of races, which it did in this one. Still I have to thank Mark for keeping me going. He wasn’t there but he beat me on Friday in about 4.10. I managed to pick the pace up in the last mile so that I would at least even the score. Just London to go before the big one two weeks later at MK. And then 5ks. Or less.

Paul Owen

Llanbedr to Blaenafon 15.8M Fell Race – Saturday 31 March

Quoted by the Mynydd Du Fell Running Club at 15.8 miles, 1375m ascent - my first proper fell race. I have always been a bit in awe of fell running and fell runners. Big admiration, and aspiration tinged with a little envy and self-doubt as to whether I would or could ever be up to it. I have dabbled around the edges, loving my bits of trail and off-trail hill running both on my own and with events like the Grizzly, the Charnwood Hills race, the more local Ridgeway run, and latterly getting into score courses in Mountain Marathons with a real navigational and route planning element, but with the kit load affecting running ability to a degree. As an enthusiastic off-road runner and mountain climber I have always wanted to give proper fell running a go, but always doubted myself, partly by simply being awestruck, and partly living so far away from proper fell running terrain.

Keri is from the Welsh Valleys and introduced me to the area around Abergavenny, the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons many years ago, and we still go back periodically having come to know the area well. Last Christmas, with a little time to wander around some fell running websites, I came across the Mynydd Du fell running club (Mynydd = Mountain, Du = Black), who seemed to run a great selection of fell runs in the local hills and fells, which seemed committed but low key, relaxed enter on the day stuff, and gave off a friendly vibe from the website. The one thing that doesn't really appeal to me is big flat expanses of open boggy moorland for running on, and I know that although there is some of that in the Black Mountains & Brecon Beacons, there are lots of broad dry ridges and sandstone that should be more appealing running terrain.

I was particularly grabbed by one point to point race starting in the black mountains north of Crickhowell (a tiny village called Llanbedr) And finishing in Blaenavon, a town at the top of the Eastern-most of the Welsh Valleys. It went up, down and over three peaks, Crug Mawr, Abergavenny’s iconic Sugar Loaf, and the the Blorenge, before heading down to the finish at Blaenavon Rugby Club.

Knowing at least some of this terrain quite well, I couldn’t get this race out of my head as one that possibly maybe at a push perhaps I could have a stab at and not make a fool of myself. Not get lost. Find the 7 checkpoints. Not be too intimidated. Finish it. It wouldn’t let me go, or vice-versa, or perhaps both. I tentatively mentioned it to Keri. She didn’t laugh, so that was it. I was committed.

We made arrangements to stay with her parents who kindly transported us to registration at the finish, and then the 40 minute drive to the start. That’s the thing about point to point races, they emphasise the distance far more than running a big circle. Keri, doing London in 3 weeks, sensibly opted out as a too-high-risk-pre-London decision. She sensibly ran 12.5 miles along the beautiful Monmouth and Brecon canal instead.

It was as friendly, low key but professionally organised as I had hoped. There were some clear walking uphill sections, especially the punishingly steep and final climb up the Blorenge, but lots of the ups were gentler and so runnable, and pleasantly so, with fantastic views and still significant snow on the higher terrain. The downhills were also mostly very runnable with some great broad dry ridges to run down. The Crug Mawr descent was particularly stunning, flying down with a sense of running freedom over a couple of miles looking up to the Beacons and across to the looming Sugar Loaf as the next ascent. The sugar loaf climb itself was surprisingly gentle and pleasant, about half or more was runnable. The descent into Abergavenny was also fantastic, looking over the Usk Valley.

Sorry to write so much, but this was one of the most amazing runs / events I have ever done. It was tough. My garmin read 25km and 1440m up, but only 1278m down. To put it into context, the climb is 100m more than Ben Nevis from the beach. My legs still hurt. Quite a lot. But it was worth it. Am I hooked? Quite possibly!

Richard Stanley - 3h:29:26

Sandy Track Open Meet - Saturday 24 March

The sun was not shining, the weather was not sweet, but that did not stop Keith Morgan, Brendan O’Mahoney, Caroline O’Mahoney and Helen Satterthwaite from wanting to move their running feet, and ‘tick off’ the four shortest 30x30 running distances at Sandy track. None of us considered the implications of the road works at Chicksands/Shefford for getting to Sandy on time and screeched into the car park with barely ten minutes to spare before our first race, the 800m. Definitely not enough warm up time and unfortunately Keith sensibly pulled out after one lap. But we were all up and running for the other three races. Despite all of us being at least 20 years older than the vast majority of the field, we won full marks for effort and enthusiasm, were welcomed by everyone, enjoyed meeting athletes from other clubs, experienced the benefits of track running for our overall training, and had a good time! It was great to bump into Rob and Jane Cook as well, who were helping out with the field events. Bring on the next one!

Anon Again

Limassol Marathon, Cyprus - Sunday 18 March

The quest for the vest continued with marathon number 96 for me in Limassol. Having run a marathon last year in Cyprus that for the most part was fantastic, RJ and I thought we would head back to the same neck of the woods and try a different one. On race morning, 30 mins before the start our taxi hadn’t arrived and we were 4 miles away. Luckily a very kind security man dropped us to the start with minutes to spare, just as we were about to run there. It was fortunate we didn’t as I had a nightmare. Too much body pump the previous Wednesday, a failure to drink enough water while travelling, the untrained for heat and extra belly blubber meant by halfway, my legs were just shot. At 16 miles, I began run/walking and had to let Richard go. The course was out and back one way and out and back the other, it wasn’t interesting along commercial tourist streets and all of the above combined to make this a toughie. Having run two now in Cyprus, my vote very much goes to the one that ends in Paphos and I would recommend that. I would not recommend this race, as the course was just not very interesting with the first half taking in sites such as a commercial dock. I felt more drained than normal, although post race the free beer and large McDs helped. Still compared with many of the club in the UK running Oakley despite it being cancelled and the Grizzly cub, I have to admit there were worse places to have a race nightmare.

Paul Owen

Grizzly Cub Run - Sunday 18 March

The full 20 mile grizzly run was cancelled due to the terrible weather conditions, snow, blizzards, high winds and freezing temperatures. Everybody did an amended route omitting the famous stairway to heaven for safety reasons. So it was "ONLY" 9 Miles.

Anon

Wimpole Hall Nightrun 7K – Saturday 10 March

A small number of Flyers – Laura, Denise, Christine, Jackie, Gemma, Helen, Val, Pat, Mark, Stanley and me – ventured over the border to Cambridgeshire to take part in this run (and for some of us, tick off ‘novelty’ in the 30x30).   Set in the lovely grounds of Wimpole Hall (although being dark we didn’t see much of the loveliness!) it was billed as a 7K fun event, although Val’s Garmin indicated the distance was nearer 6.5K.

After registration and a group photo (see Laura’s post on the AFF FB page) and admiring Christine’s bespoke running attire, we set off for the start. It was a great sight with everyone entering into the spirit of the occasion – lots of glow-sticks, bangles (thanks Jackie) flashing lights and headtorches.

On the dot of 6.30pm we were set off – oh my goodness, I thought I’d have to give up after 200 metres!   I stupidly didn’t wear my trail shoes and immediately knew it was the wrong decision.   I think I slid around most of the course but amazingly managed not to fall over.

Most of our group went galloping off into the distance, but Val kindly kept me company and we trotted round just enjoying a chat.   The course wound round the parkland, was slightly undulating and took us round a lake, over some bridges, through a field of very bemused sheep and then – joy, oh bliss – onto an actual hard road and through the finish.

We re-grouped at the finish – apart from the ‘boys’ who were probably home before I crossed the line, collected our goody bags and set off for home. This was a great event – we all enjoyed it despite the heavy going and are up for doing it again.   It was the first organised run I had done in 10 years and had forgotten what great camaraderie there is between runners at these events.   The course was really well-marked with friendly marshals along the route and lots of encouragement at the end.   Well done to all! The run was self-timed by some of us.

Ann De Winter

Seville Marathon - Sunday 25 February

Day 881 of the running streak and my 95th marathon with this one in the amazing city of Seville, just a short hop on a metal bird at a cost less than travelling to London on the train. All was going well until 8km when the current asked why was I running as a small, fast Spanish woman called Josean? It appears they gave me the wrong number at the expo despite passport control. She’s going to be well cheesed off with her time! 14,500 runners and at the start, standing there minding my own business the bloke next to me said, hi Paul as we knew each other. Spooky. During the race Richard Satnav Jones chatted to a runner who is with Craig Palmer’s new club and who said he is very nice. We did check but it was the same Craig. A bit further we chatted to another runner from Jess Anstee's old club who also said hi, but didn’t say she was very nice although of course she is (as is Craig I hasten to add). Small world really. Good course, temperature great for mile munching and the sun came out at the end when we needed it. Post finish we were on the free Cruzcampo before we left the exit tunnel and then found a bar where a bucket of the same cost 4 euros. It was warm enough to sit in the sun in our race gear. Can marathon running get any better? Oh yeah, if they give me the right number. Hopefully the organisers will see the error of their ways and realise I wouldn’t have travelled to Espana to nick someone else’s number from the expo. Apart from that, as a foreign marathon destination this race gets the big thumbs up from me. Nice time of year to go, real PB potential for those that are that way inclined, amazing sites and top quality tapas at a very reasonable price.

Paul ‘Josean’ Owen est time-4.17.20

New Forest - LDWA 18M - Sunday 25 February

Haydn and I did an orienteering event, in the New Forest with the LDWA. It was 18 miles – if you didn’t go wrong…. But, unfortunately we did and ended up knee deep in freezing bogs quite early on in the day - and again about mid way – and again towards the end!  We ended up run/walking over 20 miles and finished in 6.52.  The veggie lasagne and cake with custard that we got at the end tasted amazing!

Laura Johnston

South Shropshire Circular - LDWA 26.2M - Saturday 24 February

This year the event started from village of Norbury to west of the Long Mynd. After starting over Linley Hill we went east for a long climb over northern end of the Mynd. It was a beautiful clear day and the threatened cold wind was mostly just a slight breeze. The views were wild & amazing.  We spent the rest of the day climbing back & forth over the Mynd. Some climbs were gradual but 3 were very steep - finally crossing the southern 'toe' before heading north west back to Norbury. Total climb was 4,733 feet and was very pleased to finish in 8 hours 34 mins. Last year on a course with only slightly more climb, but 2 miles shorter it had taken me over 9 hours.

Dave Sedgley - 8:34

English National X/C Championships Parliament Hill - Saturday 24 February

There is nothing more exhilarating than watching near on 2500 athletes at the start of the National Cross Country Championships charging up that first hill with the London skyline as the background. The only thing better than that as a runner is being part of that experience and this year not only did we have 10 Flyers we were able to field a Women's team. When we arrived at Parliament Hill the conditions looked reasonably good under foot but the two senior races follow on from some 8 previous races with many thousands of athletes having now lapped around the course and Parliament Hill is unforbidding when it comes to mud. But if you like cross country then you must run at Parliament Hill - its as simple as that! 9569 runners had been entered over the 10 races with 3486 entered in the senior men's race being held for the 131st time.

The Senior Women's race saw our Jess Anstee lead our team home over the 8K course in a time of 39.30 and overall we were 87th team out of 112 and ahead of locally Watford Joggers, Cambridge Harriers and North Herts - A tremendous performance. The race was won by Phoebe Law in a time of 28.33.

In the Men's race over 12K Craig Palmer was pushing for a top 100 placing but admitted that the previous week he hadn't felt the best with his running - and so it proved and despite moving through the field on the final lap he finished in 147th place but still first Flyer back. Great to see Tim Harris back and running as 2nd Flyer home and we would have expected to then have seen Ian Halpin finish had it not been to loosing both his spikes in the mud on the final lap - and he failed to find them both! Unfortunately with 6 to count for a men's team we were 1 Flyer short. The race was won by 29 year old Adam Hickey in 39.35 from Southend winning his first senior title having won twice as a junior runner.

A great day of running and I can only encourage all Club Flyers to run this brilliant course at least once in their running career.

Dave Stanley/span>

Punchbowl - LDWA Marathon - Sunday 11 February

This was a top class 30 mile LDWA almost exclusively trail run, taking in area's of outstanding natural beauty including the Devils Punch Bowl in Surrey. Walkers went off at 7.30am and the runners an hour later, or whatever time they wanted to start provided they made the checkpoint opening times. The scenery from start to finish was superb. It was a tad muddy in places, sandy and hilly at times, with trails very similar to our very, very good friend, the Greensand’s trail in Bedfordshire. I went prepared this time with a newly acquired pair of daps to add to my other 14 pairs, which certainly helped with the conditions and time. My last 30 miler was 3 weeks ago and the long break helped the limbs, as I managed to shave at least an hour and 15m off my time. At least I would have if Chris Newnham hadn’t picked up my timing chip just before I nipped into the bog. The official time was about 16 mins later than the actual time, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, I am and this was marathon or ultra number 94 for me. Just 6 more to go to mine and Satnavs 100th. If you have never run a LDWA marathon, I would highly recommend them. They cost around £10 to enter, there are food stops every 6 or so miles (although on this one there were only 3), with a hot meal waiting for you at the end. The route instructions are always easy to follow and you can do what I did on Sunday, which was have no map and let Chris do all the navigating. The stops can add a fair bit to your overall time, but a fast time is not the reason to run these events and besides, another choccie biscuit and cup of tea worth another 10 mins.

Paul Owen

Winter Tanners - LDWA 30M - Sunday 21 January

Day 846 of my current running streak and marathon no. 93 at the LDWA Winter Tanners 30 mile ultra event in Surrey, which was closer to 32 due to the odd wrong turn. There were 20, 30 or 40 mile options with checkpoints every 6 or 7 miles that were stocked with snacks. With LDWA events you can start anytime within a time window, so I didn’t see Becs & Richard until near the end and missed Mark entirely. Self navigating, almost all on trails which were a mix of mud, snow, water, slurry and hills all the way. It was probably the muddiest race I have ever run, with my choice of flat road running shoes not a wise move. I did my best Torvill & Dean impression 78 times, although I only fell once, which added an hour at least to my time. That wasn’t an issue for me, but it might have been for Chris ‘Tigger’ Newnham who bounced through the at times shin deep cow/pig/horse slurry all the way. The route took us up a hill straight from the off, but it was so muddy and slippy that going downhill was much harder. The first part of the route was shrouded in mist and we were unable to see what would have been great views. The promised snow arrived on time but luckily the heavy rain didn’t appear until we were in the car on the way home. We mostly kept to the route with my Garmin registering longer mileage. The fun really started at the 25 mile check point. The description said climb 14 steps, then turn a corner and climb 114 more, run a bit and practically get your mountaineering kit out to climb the north face of Box Hill. From the bottom it looked very steep and it turned out to be just that. At the top, the mist returned and with the fading light, there was again no view which was a shame. My last marathon was 3 weeks ago and the rest served me well, as despite the length of time we were out there I felt fine at the end. Just 6 more to go before my 100th hopefully in Milton Keynes in May.

Paul Owen

3 Counties XC Race 5: Bedford Priory - Sunday 14 January

After many impressive turnouts this season, the 68 runners we took to Bedford today was a record ever turnout for Flyers. [Stats provided in this write up are supplied by Flyer's resident and top statistician Phil Bierton]. In addition to the many returning runners we were bolstered by a number of season first timers - Helen Kearns, Caroline O'Mahoney, Helen Satterthwaite, Sarah Schofield, Robert Cook, Stanley Greening, and Richard Jones [any incorrect people info is my hand so if errors please notify me and I will update discreetly].

It was very much a different type of course today with the shortest duration coupled with the flattest profile made for a quick race. Again all worked really hard and performed really well and there was also great team support with raucous cheering in of the Flyers at the finish.

The ladies ran really well. It was always going to be difficult with Nicola away and Michelle Morris investing in the next generation of Flyers, though still taking the time to come and support her teammates. Nevertheless the team worked really well to finish 5th overall for the season in a competitive league. Sophia Bartlett, Kate Cornelius, Sarah Medler Kelley, Julie Pritchett and Sophie Windmill all secured their best results of the season which was no mean feat for what visually looked like by far the biggest turnout of the season. The scorers for the ladies were Jessica Anstee, Sophia, Hattie King and Louise Clark - three in the photo whilst Louise opted for cleanliness and showering.
For the men, the previous match victory at the home of North Herts had bought us some breathing space and whilst North Herts won the match today, the Flyers secured the men's title. The scoring team was lead by Pete Longstride Benedickter who finished in a magnificent 2nd place. Joe Strange welcoming a flatter course after last being seen not feeling the love for Heartbreak Hill had a really strong run in 7th ahead of Paul Farmer in 8th. Other scorers were Ian Halpin, Steve Steven Upton, myself, John Decesare and Ste Hartley. Like the ladies there were a lot of impressive performances with all the following recording their best position; Alex Anstee, Andy Atherton, Pete, Kevin Cutler, Martin Godin, Ste Hartley, Terry McHugh, Paul Owen, Mark Danger Rouse, Dave Stanley, Joe, Steve Upton and Simon Wilkins.

In the combined league we finished 2nd which was a great result that all have contributed too. It is a very competitive league that continues to get stronger- this year we welcomed a further club Rugby and Northampton. In the interests of sharing having 3 different winners Flyers in the men, Biggleswade in ladies and North Herts overall is fair.

On the individual side a big well done to Pat Godfrey, Mark Waine and Warwick Browning who won their age groups. Also congratulations to former Flyer (though we will always be close to his heart) Alex Ash who won the individual mens title.

A couple of big thank yous. Firstly to Julie Pritchett who has done a brilliant job as ladies captain over a number of seasons and will now take a well earned backseat. Thank you for all your hard work.  Massive thanks to Phil Bierton who does a sterling job not only doing the recording and results in some questionable weather (with great support from Richard Jones and Jane Cook) but also doing loads of other work both before and whilst everyone is chilling post cross-country he is still updating and producing results. He puts in a phenomenal amount of work. As part of this he has already calculated the cross country club championships which are provided below;

Women

Men

Champion

Caroline Gilby

Champion

Ian Halpin

V35

Lisa Wells

V40

Mark Waine

V45

Keri Withers

V50

Martin Beare
Finally thank you to all of you for your support to the team and each other. We have showed great strength in depth both from the scoring team with 17 different male and 13 female scorers and throughout the team. We have seen reams of improvement throughout the team this year and athletes like Ross Henson who in previous seasons was around the 160s and then progressed to score inside the top 30 show that anything is possible. Cross-country will help your overall running and hopefully you will all see the fruits of your labour. Keep up the training so we continue the progression through the longer days and into the next cross country season.

Mark Waine

County XC Champs (Shuttleworth) - Saturday 6 January

A small but perfectly formed turnout by the AFF ladies saw us scoop 2 team prizes and 2 individual age group county medals on what was a very cold, wet and windy afternoon. Just goes to show that if you turn up and give it your best shot you can achieve. Very well done ladies!

Deborah Beare

Northampton ParkRun & Magic Mile - Saturday 6 January

Early on Saturday morning (for me anyway!) four intrepid Flyers set forth for deepest Northampton in search of its infamous Magic Mile. As the mile could not take place until the completion of the Parkrun, we decided to use the 5K as a warm up. With over 670 runners the warmth of the crowd, Penguin style was a possibility on a cold morning. With such a large crowd it was hard to work out where to place ourselves and the first half lap was a case of weaving in and out of the throng. Richard decided to take the inside track on the grass, but claims he ran further than everyone else! Two and a half laps of a reasonably flattish route around the Racecourse park and it was all over.

We had about half an hour to cool down before joining a more select group of 20 or so runners taking on the Magic Mile. This used the flatter parts of the Parkrun route and the pack rapidly thinned out as the speedier runners set their sights on emulating Roger Bannister. The rest of us did our best to keep a steady momentum with the hope of finishing in a reasonable time, something we all achieved. So by 10.30am four happy Flyers departed Northampton with a little bit of Magic ready for a great year of running. We also had completed our first 30x30 run (or was it the second ?), so at least 1 down and only 29 or so to go!

Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2018 13:59