Reports 2018 - Ravens Runners London

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Race Reports for 2018
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22-05-18
Outlaw Half triathlon
OK, so not strictly a running report, but I completed the Outlaw Half triathlon yesterday for the fourth time. Mixed feelings about my performance – as a standalone event in hot conditions, I was happy with a steady race. However, in comparison to my previous efforts, I was distinctly slower, having gone under 5hrs on each occasion. I completed in 5h 9mins for the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and half marathon run. I am perplexed by the swim since I managed my slowest ever swim there, despite going really well in training and having felt relaxed and going well throughout the section yesterday. The run was extremely hot and exposed to sunlight and I took the sensible approach of not pushing myself too hard and stopping for water every mile or so (and this involved stopping and queuing for cups of water) so the 1:38:04 half marathon was understandable (although have been 1:30 – 1:31 previously). So overall, happyish with the day, still love this event and will be back again – I have a few more middle distance triathlons this summer so this was a good start to the season.
Rupert Holden
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22-05-18
Ironman 70.3 Barcelona
Like Rupert I also competed in a half Ironman distance race yesterday although this was a branded event being the Ironman 70.3 Barcelona. However  the race itself is actually in Calella which is about 35 miles from Barcelona.This was a 1.9 km sea swim, a 90 km very hilly bike ride (4,300 feet of climbing) and then a half marathon along the seafront. The race also doubled up as the European Triathlon Club Champs and we had over 50 members taking part from East Essex Triathlon Club. We were by far the biggest Triathlon Cub outside of Spain. In fact I even had to give an interview to Ironman TV the day before the race.The race itself went pretty well for me especially given that it was only four weeks after the marthon. I had a solid swim although it took me 10 minutes before I finally settled in as the sea was a lot colder than I expected. The bike course consisted of three climbs. The first about 8k long, the second about 10k and the 3rd another 8k back over the first climb albeit in the other direction. I was pretty happy with the ride, however there is always a balance to be had between going too deep and trying to save yourself for the run. This is especially true for the longer distance races. On to the run and again like Rupert I was looking to run around 1.30 but it was very hot and the course a mixture of surfaces making it hard to get in to any rhythm. I finally came home in 5.24.48 with a 33.14 swim, a 3.04.22 bike and a 1.40.37 run. This placed me 494th out of 2,238. In all it was a fantastic weekend especially for our Club picking up a number of age group prizes with winners also in the men’s and mixed relay teams.
Ian George
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22-05-18
Hackney Half
Just wanted to say thank you for allowing me along to some of your lunchtime training sessions. I am the slow one near or at the back most times. However it must be doing some good, as I ran my fastest Half Marathon for 5 years on Sunday. At 1:40, it would have been a training run for most of you, but I was very pleased and it must have something to do with those 1k repeats (or 800m in my case!). I will persevere.
David Summers
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17-05-18
HALSTEAD MARATHON & ESSEX COUNTY CHAMPS
Since the London Marathon, my training has largely revolved around pizza and beer – I think my 3 week mileage was around 50 miles.  Not to worry, the above race is gently undulating – or so I remembered from last year.  Once we were off, it seemed to have become rather hilly (no laughing Rupert, and any other Northerners).  For no sensible reason (aided and abetted by my club captain Stuart Raven (Mad)) I set off a 2.50 pace, determined to beat the club V50 marathon record (2.56).  On hill #1 I raced past a number of sub 2.45 runners. This lunacy lasted until mile ten, when I started to go in reverse, and the fast boys went skipping past me.  Got to half way in 1.26, but I was really starting to hurt.  Dropped down to 7.10 pace, when I started to hallucinate, as Sid’s brother appeared to run past me pushing a baby stroller. Conscious that Stuart beat me on the line last year, I stopped with a 100 yards to go to check that I had killed him off. Couldn’t see him, so jogged over the line in 2.59.47.  Not displeased, as sub 3 was what I should have actually aimed for so close to London, and placed for Springfield who won the senior mens race and was also 2nd V50. Left with 3 medals clanking, looking like a white BA Baracus, according to Mark Newton, who reappeared at the end.  Time to give the marathon a rest and concentrate on the shorter stuff – it says here.
Robin McCoy
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17-05-18
Crystal Palace Triathlon
Will send on a report for my main event of the weekend (the Crystal Palace Tri) later, but wanted to report on parkrun on Saturday. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I recorded my best ever age grading of 79.08% coming in at 19:07, 19th overall out of a whopping 757, first in my age group. Since London, I have done very little running at all (31 miles total as of yesterday) and I do not know whether it is this, the marathon training or the tri training, but my parkrun times have come right down – 19.38, 19.17, 19.07 in 3 weeks. As I say, I am not sure of the reason behind it, but the improvement is long overdue and very welcome! An Age Grading of 80% is my next target, although the Bromley course reverts to 50/50 grass/path next week from 100% path, so may take a little longer. Battersea Assembly League may also be a target race for this.

I had been delaying on sending this report, as I was awaiting the official results with splits, but these have been delayed rather frustratingly, due to some glitch or other. This issue was, I think, rather endemic of the whole event in my view (with the experience of two whole triathlons behind me!!). The event is excellent from a course point of view, as everything is contained within the park which, for any of you who have run there before will know, is quite hilly in parts and makes for a good robust challenge. The other slightly unique element was the pool swim, which was 15 lengths of the Olympic size pool (50m) which was considerably more challenging than my previous race (400m in a 25m pool). The bike was 9 laps of the park (20km), which was enjoyably tough but extremely busy in places. The run was 5k – 2 laps round the park and finishing in the Athletics stadium on the track. Conditions were ideal. The forecast rain did not materialise, instead it was cool and dry, turning to warm sun towards the end. The swim I manged in just under 18 mins. My watch recorded 850m but I am fairly sure I did not do two extra lengths. I suspect it may have been a watch issue. It was quite hard going, simply because the pool was heaving, with swimmers setting off at 10-15 second intervals and then zig-zagging the 15 lengths to the end (ducking under the lane markers at the end of 2 lengths). Even though the swim starts were supposed to be based on your predicted time, to make sure people were of a similar standard, there were people in there who clearly hadn’t a clue. Some could barely float, let alone swim! This meant a lot of tricky overtaking – and some being overtaken - which killed your rhythm, especially in the middle of the pool, where the water actually became quite choppy and it was difficult not to take a water in the mouth. I also got hit a couple of times, which was a shock to the system (suspect quite normal to experienced triathletes!). Anyway, I got through it in a time over a minute faster than I expected. I have never swum that far not stop doing front crawl or swum in a 50m pool, so was pleased to get out of it in one piece. Transition was OK, though I put my cycling shirt on back to front and had to re-do it – harder than it sounds when you are soaking wet! I also clipped in to the pedals for the first time (!), so that took a bit longer to organise, but once I got going I could tell the difference. The most difficult part of the ride was the one big incline, where many riders simply concertinaed together on a narrow part, which made passing and maintaining momentum difficult. Again, my lack of a decent bike probably cost me here. That said, the range of bikes was incredible, from proper time trial racers down to (I kid you not) one guy on a foldaway commuter bike! 😊 My watch had me come in at just under 43 mins for the bike, but suspect this is wrong (hence keen to see the splits). Suspect it was closer to 46/47 minutes. Again, transition 2 slower due to having to change shoes but after that felt very comfortable on the run and overtook many people (and was not overtaken by anyone). My time of just over 21 minutes was 40 seconds or so faster than Tunbridge, which was a flat 5k (albeit on grass).  I was particularly pleased with a 3:45 final km. 1:29:45 final time (provisional). As I say still awaiting confirmation, splits, placing, age placing etc. That said it was a big improvement on Tonbridge (albeit the distances slightly different). Now investigating upgrading the bike, so hopefully further gains can be made next time out. Overall, as I say, it is a great course, but the organisation was fairly shambolic. The swim in particular was woefully managed - simply too congested and a complete free for all. Everything else just seemed a bit amateurish compared to Tonbridge. Admittedly, I think this event is aimed at being more of a ‘fun’ triathlon, but given the entry price I think it was fair to expect more. There were also no medals given out, which also surprised me although you could order one later, which is not quite the same. Pleased with the event, though slightly frustrated by it as well.
Marcus Elwes
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17-05-18
Gatwick Half
Yesterday I ran another inaugural race, based in Gatwick and advertised as flat, it was a busy race but well organised. Each time based pen was divided into sections and set off separately, I was at the front of one of the sections so had the novelty of starting a race right at the front. Pretty soon I caught up with the 1.50 pacer but it was pretty crowded and I already needed the loo so I pushed ahead looking for a handy bush. I found myself following a t-shirt that read I run, you run, and what I read as wee run which really didn’t help my need for a comfort break. At mile 2 I realised I had yet again gone out too fast but much like choosing to go out drinking with Sid last Thursday I decided to just go for it and face the consequences later. Running under the flight path meant the overhead planes provided a welcome distraction but when my watch altered me to a new 10k pb I knew it was a case of when not if I crashed and burned. A shout out from my friend’s husband and kids got me through mile 7 and at mile 8 I found myself alongside a guy playing 60’s music from a speaker in his back pack and being a Daydream Believer I stayed with him for a while. I was still passing plenty of people when a short sharp hill at mile 9 nearly did for me but having got that far I gave myself a talking to and pushed on. By mile 10 I was just behind a lady called Victoria who was getting multiple shout outs. A quick imaginary name change and I used the shout outs to spur me on. Towards the very end there was a another hill, but I knew the end was in sight so at the top I prepared for a sprint finish only to turn the corner and find I was at the finish. Official time 1.44.33 a four minute pb, pretty pleased with that!
Donna Henry
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17-05-18
Godalming 10k
I did this local 10k yesterday – c.75% trails and hilly and the remainder road and hilly – organised by Waverley Harriers. Went off a bit enthusiastically which caught up with me at about 5k but managed a bit of a push in the last 2k to get up into 3rd before being outkicked at the finish and ending up 4th in 39.55.
Tom Robertson
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17-05-18
Greenwich Park 10km
Ran this yesterday, two laps round a very hilly Greenwich park, enjoyable race and lovely weather. Came in with a chip time of 46:03 (a pb, although I’ve only raced a couple) and fifth female overall, earning myself a free t-shirt. Given the hills (and the dodgy tummy and slight hangover) I was happy with it, hoping to get in some more training and really get my time down over the summer.
Astrid Ainley
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17-05-18
Majorca Half Ironman
So on Saturday I took part in the above as part of a relay team. This meant that I didn’t actually start my run until 12 o’clock in the 25ish degree heat. I ran 1.20.45 and our team came home in 8th in the mixed relay competition but only 10 mins off the leaders.
Chris Tuck
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17-05-18
(Bradwell) Big East Triathlon - 800m/43km/10km
Great results from everyone at the weekend – very well done! I returned to Bradwell on Sunday to try and retain my title from last year – however although I feel fitter this year, my aim was to be on the podium somewhere as I knew at least one guy taking part who is a bike monster! Last year you may remember I mostly ran this race fuelled by emotion and it was a bit of a shock to win. The swim is 800m in the channel just outside Bradwell Marina and there was a lot of tide still running making it quite a tough swim – some of the weaker swimmers really struggled coming back into the tide, I was very glad I didn’t have to do two laps for the longer distance. I felt a bit sluggish at the start but settled into a nice rhythm and exited the water as the 1st male (a young lady absolutely blitzed us all and exited the swim about 20secs clear of everyone)! Onto the 43km bike (26.7 miles) – I overtook the 1st lady in the first mile and took the overall lead but this didn’t last long – at 4 miles my bike monster friend overtook me and at 8 miles another chap overtook me. I couldn’t have stayed with them so just rode my own race – it is taking me longer to get back to where I was in 2016 with my cycling so had to pace myself and leave something for the run in the hope I’d be close enough to close them down. Right at the end of the bike another guy overtook me but I kept him in sight going into T2 in 4th. Starting the run my support team (usually only Madz, but on Sunday including parents, neighbours and sailing club friends as the race is only 4/5miles from home) gave me a massive cheer which was lovely and informed me I was 6mins behind my friend in 1st. I’d lost 8minutes to him on the bike!!! Overtook the guy in 3rd within the first km and when I hit the seawall/trail at about 5km I couldn’t see anybody in front of me – so knew I wasn’t going to catch 1st or second and I knew I wasn’t going to be caught from behind. Leaves you in a weird situation pacing wise. No need to smash myself when I am racing again next week but don’t want to risk being caught either. Ran pretty hard but much more comfortably than last year when protecting a win. Finished in 3rd place overall 2minutes quicker than last year which I was very pleased with and my friend won, so that was great too! I swam and ran faster than the winner it’s just the bike that I need to close the gap on with the best guys (same old story)! Sorry for the long report – will be out at lunch to try and get my legs moving again!

Swim: 15:23 (including a long run to T1 and faster than last year even with the tide)
Bike: 1:16:25 (faster than last year)
Run: 42:12 (slower than last year by 20 secs but much easier!)
Total: 2:15:35 (5:55 behind 1st)
George Wakefield
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11-05-18
Assembly League 2 Victoria Park – 3rd May 2018

This was the longest I have run since London Marathon and after running Tuesday lunchtime when the legs still were heavy, decided to take the AL slightly easier than normal. Did first mile lap in just over 7 minutes then Astrid breezed passed me easily and joined up with 'pacemaker' Tim. This helped as went with as long as could see them hoped could get round in reasonable time. Mile 2 was 7:15, mile 3 was 7:13 and then forgot just how long that run in is a Victoria Park and probably went a bit early on the finish, lots of already finished Ravens cheering you on to the finish though. Watch had me about 25:15 which slower than last year but happy with post marathon.
Andrew Ferguson
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11-05-18
My first assembly league race and on a perfect Thursday night. Not knowing what to expect I set off at 5:40 pace and tried to settle into the race. I think I followed a Ravens vest (Ryan potentially) for the second mile (sorry for the slight trip following you), it clearly encouraged him though as he pushed on and left me watching his jazz shorts fade into the distance. With about a kilometre to go, I tried to kick and pick off whoever I could. There was a guy walking with about 200m to go, gave him a quick “keep going” and he sprinted off past me, weird one! Finished in 19:47, great fun and brilliantly organised by Alex. Need to get to some interval Thursdays with you all now!
Will Gallimore
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11-05-18
My race was all about survival and not making my hamstring worse. I set off at what felt like a very steady pace, but I clearly had no idea as whilst my watch said 6.11 for the first km, the time keeper shouted me through the first mile at 7.40. Having got that far, I then focussed on overtaking any plodders ahead of me, despite a fly going up my nose, which slightly put me off my stride. A very nice man from Petts Wood congratulated me as I passed him around the 3 mile mark, possibly because I was breathing so heavily by then that he could hardly believe I was still moving, let alone going faster than him. As we came into the home straight, I had several moments of doubt as the whether it was the home straight and I therefore left my final "sprint" rather late, but I just managed to overtake an Eton Manor runner right on the line, which was very satisfying. Chris Tuck once again our faster runner, in 18.19 - well done, Chris. I would congratulate Rob Laing on going even faster, but shan't because he was wearing the wrong vest :-). Congratulations also to Mick, who is the only M60 to have made it into the initial results - it was clearly worth you doubling up on Wednesday's run, Mick! Onwards and upwards for the next race, on 7 June, in Battersea Park.
Alex Anderson
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11-05-18
Tonbridge Triathlon!
I can’t actually believe I am reporting on a triathlon, but yes I finally took the plunge yesterday, debuting at sprint distance on the hottest day of the year so far. Having run London this year in blistering heat, I am beginning to wonder if I am a lucky/unlucky charm (delate as applicable) when it comes to the weather! I have had my mind on doing a tri for a couple of years, as have a couple of very enthusiastic running buddies, who have been badgering me, but as I damaged my rotator cuff last year, I had to postpone to this year to finally (literally) take the plunge. This race had been recommended as a good introduction with a gentle pool swim (400m) a not very gentle 25k bike ride around the hilly rounds of Kent and a fairly benign 5k run, mainly on grass, finishing on the track. My main aims for the day were not to drown in the pool, not to fall off the bike, not to make a complete dick of myself and not to get disqualified. I am claiming at least 3 out of 4! Swimming was my biggest worry, not having ever swum (swam?) competitively and not having swum properly at all since school days. I did some training and was confident of getting through it, though wasn’t sure about speed. In fact, I found the swim the least difficult discipline and surprised myself to record a split of 9.20, much quicker than in training. I was fortunate to be in a wide lane on the outside, where overtaking was relatively easy. I was surprised to be overtaking at all, to be honest! The bike ride was as hard as I expected. 25km of tough hills on relatively traffic free, but nonetheless uneven road, was an exercise in concentration more than anything. Watching the speedy riders go past was a chastening experience. I suspect the bike stage will be where I will most be able to make gains in the future. My time of just over an hour I was happy with, especially as there were no dramas. The run was far more difficult than expected. The legs were needless to say not prepared to work properly, the grass was long and soft and the heat quite sapping by that stage. I made a lot of ground up the rankings, needless to say, but the time of 21:40 was nothing special. Transitions were OK. The first included a long barefooted run from the pool to the bike, so was over 3 minutes. The second transition was quick, about 1 and a half minutes, aided by the fact that I rode the bike in running shoes (don’t have enough confidence for clips yet) so did not have much to do. Overall 1.36.51, 85th overall out of 221 finishers, 21st in my age group. S 9:21, T1 3:40, B 1:00:38, T2 1:32, R 21:40. Mike Thomson, who some of you will know form the reps session, was 6th overall, second in his age group, in a time of 1.16.22, to give you some context. Really enjoyed the event and great to do something slightly different for a change. My second triathlon is on Sunday at Crystal Palace. 750m swim (in an Olympic sized pool), 20k bike and 5k run.
Marcus Elwes
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11-05-18
Belfast Marathon Race Report - Monday 7th May
I’ve never run two marathons so close together (London 2 weeks ago) and after a disastrous 5K time trial on Tuesday, I wasn’t hopeful for a great time.  Ideally I wanted to beat my London time from this year (3.46) but wondered if I’d even manage under 4 hours.  I checked the weather, great conditions for us – 11/12 degrees at the start and only forecast to get up to about 17 by 3-4pm (it got much hotter much earlier, but thankfully I'd finished running by the time it got very hot).  Although 17,000 had entered, I was told that approximately 15,000 of those were relay runners so not a huge amount running the whole 26.2 miles.  The organisers just asked the runners to be sensible about their starting place as there were no pens.  I chose what I thought a suitable place and then along came two 3.30 pacers so thought that appropriate.  I decided to stick with them to begin with, even though they were definitely faster than they should have been.  After about 6 miles, I felt confident and knowing what I’m like for playing it safe, and running comfortable, I decided not to be sensible and left them to run at a faster but still relatively consistent pace.  Belfast is not a flat course, so quite frequently the hills came.  I did begin to tire and the pacers came past me around mile 12.  It was a long 2 mile hill and not overly pleasant so I was pleased when the downhill came into sight, with the water in the distance, looking very cooling.  I continued to keep them in my sights, but wasn’t able to stick with them.  Eventually they did disappear only to be seen when I crossed the line (they finished in 3.28 so they told me).  I was beginning to think I’d be lucky to finish in 3.40 so was feeling a little disappointed but kept with it, trying to keep my tired legs ticking over.  The mile markers were relatively well signed and for the most parts, the markers were in line with my Garmin.   There were supporters on most parts of the course but there was one stretch, about 1.5 / 2 mile long without any marshals or supporters.  A guy stopped and was bending over, appearing to be very uncomfortable.  It was a long time before I was able to alert a marshal and even then, he didn’t appear to be particularly rushed.  On we went and then I saw the 23 mile marker.  Taking a quick look at my watch, I realised if I upped my game, I should be able to squeeze in under 3.30.  Onto 23.5 miles and there it was, yet another hill, not a small one either.  It seemed endless, I grabbed yet another bottle of water and pressed on.  Around the corner, downhill a little and there was the magic 25 mile marker.  I didn’t expect to see a 26 mile marker, but it was on the corner, just prior to entering the park.  “Go on”, the spectators cheered; “2 minutes and you’re done” said another.  A quick peek at my watch showed 3.28.00.  Could I do it?  I pushed on, I could now see the clock counting down.  I know by gun time I’d not get under 3.30, it was 3.30.05 as I crossed the line but my watch showed a running time of 3.29.47.  Even if this wasn’t quite right, I was confident I had taken more than 5 seconds to cross the start line; the official time was confirmed last night, 3.29.51, which I’m delighted with.  My finishing position was 284 but as no other results have been released, I have no idea how many finished, how many women ran, or where I finished in my age category.  Hopefully these will be available soon. My London GFA has increased to 3.53 so I should be well in with a chance but I entered the ballot nonetheless as advised. It’s an odd course; early on in the race, you’re running alongside the M2, just one lined coned off for the runners, with two lanes of traffic probably travelling at 70mph.  The crowds for the most part were very good, but there were still some areas of absolutely no spectators.  Water stations, energy drinks stations and energy gels stations seemed to be sporadically spaced; one energy drinks station wasn’t manned at all, just pallet-fulls of plastic wrapped bottles for you to help yourself.  The bottles were a good size and the caps removed.  At the food stations, water was in cups so difficult to drink from, but you didn’t necessarily need to stop at these.  Energy gel stations weren’t advertised in advance, you’d just randomly see a few people with them dangling from their fingers.  Loads of the spectators were offering oranges, apple pieces, bananas, sweets (mainly jelly babies) and some with drinks.  The roads weren’t totally closed off and side roads were unmanned so cars could cross in front of you – though generally they waited.  Where there were police, they all wore padded jackets and carried guns, were usually behind the doors of their well armoured land rovers.  Mostly, you were able to run without others getting in your way, the roads were wide enough and you weren’t tripping up over one another, as does happen in London.  However, the roads severely narrowed as you approached the relay change-over areas.  But this was also where you received the most support.  Overall, I would give this marathon 8/10.
Vicky Cooper
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11-05-18
Lee Valley 5k Fest – 9th May 2018
I managed a 5k on the track last night… Bit breezy but otherwise good. There were 3 graded 5k races – I was in the B – around 17 others turned up for this race. I had enough company to keep me motivated ahead and chased from behind. So managed a very steady (although a slight wobble with 2 laps to go) to get 17:30 (= 3:30 / km). British Milers club also there last night and the leader pulled off a 4:02 which was good to watch …. Nice atmos with music, BBQ, beer and the like.
Lee Martin
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3-05-18
Leatherhead Rotary Bluebell 10km
I entered this race knowing it’s not a pb course, described as undulating but actually hilly I last ran it in 2016 in 52.33 so I had a time to beat. It’s a very civilised 10.00am start with parking in the National Trust car park near to the start, however due to the chilly conditions I waited in the car until the last minute before joining the toilet queue. It’s a small race but nevertheless four portaloos weren’t up to the job and I was still in the queue with two minutes to go to the start, with a few people behind me they kindly delayed the start, but a crowd of people waiting for you to leave the toilet is not my preferred way to start to a race. The race starts out on a bridal path through a wooded area, and I started off trying to skip around the edges of the larger puddles and deep muddy areas but quickly realised I was getting overtaken by quite a lot of people and switched to ploughing through the middle. This worked reasonably well until I charged through a exceptionally boggy part and found myself ankle deep, fortunately my shoes were quite secure and I made it through to loop back past the start on the grassy area. I high 5’d some kids and was having quite a good time as we headed out on the open heathland down a loose pebbly trail. The race was very spaced out and I could only see a guy in a yellow t-shirt in front so decided to stick with him as although the route was well marked I’m always concerned I’ll take a wrong turn, as we headed back onto the bridal path and woods area a guy in an orange t-shirt appeared from a bush and three of us continued together. The next challenge was an extremely steep downhill, I usually enjoy a downhill and flew past both men, realising belatedly that I was completely out of control and if I fell it wasn’t going to end well. Fortunately I stayed on my feet for the uphill slog that followed but was somewhat disturbed by the heavy breathing behind me, I took a quick check over my shoulder and was relived to find a runner with a dog. As I passed the 9km mark I could see a lady quite a way in the distance, I was pretty sure I couldn’t catch her but thought I’d give it a go, by now we were back into the deep mud, luck was on my side and I found a relatively solid path through and began to gain on her however at the next stretch things turned in her favour as I was once again sucked in ankle deep. Finally we were back on a grassy path, with a couple of options on direction and no marshal in sight she looked over her shoulder and shouted “which way?” I gasped a “no clue” in response and  followed her past the portaloos to the finish. Waiting for the official time but I was pleased with 49.25 on my watch, a nice little medal and a more than generous goody bag. As for the Bluebells in the race title I think I saw one but I can’t be sure!
Donna Henry
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27-04-18
City v Wharf

Tim and I were one of the teams of 2 in the City v Wharf challenge at Victoria Park. Both of us knew at the start that we weren’t in as good shape as last year but sized up the competition at the start and knew quite early on that we would not be able to retain our winning title from last year. The format of this 10km race is alternating 4 legs of 2.5km in a team of 2 or 4, which is a difficult distance to judge and something I struggled with last year by going eye balls out on the first leg and feeling stiff by the 3rd leg. I started off confident and going balls out (forgetting what I had told myself only 5 minutes before) but was able to maintain a 5:40 min/miling pace for the first leg and brought the baton home in 5th for Tim to take over. He managed to gain 2 spots, and I completed the second leg in a slightly slower average of 5:48 min/miling but was able to gain a place handing over to Tim in 2nd place overall to bring it home. Unfortunately Tim’s hamstring went with about 600m to go. Nevertheless he powered on like the trooper he is and we came 3rd Overall but 2nd in the team of 2’s. The team of 2 race was won by a couple of Enfield Runners, one was a sub 17 min, the other sub 18 min 5k guys who ended up winning the overall by 2 minutes. My splits were surprisingly consistent as I found the racing line on the 3rd leg;
Leg 1: 8:50 (Graham)
Leg 2: 9:24 (Tim)
Leg 3: 8:50 (Graham)
Leg 4: 9:43 (Tim)
Total time: 36.47 – about a minute down on prior year. Well organised and thanks to Donna for sorting out the bookings. Great running by everyone, including the marathon guys. Highlight of the race was watching Marcus use ‘Robin elbows’ on another runner at the finish only to be overtaken on the line.
Graham Hollingdale
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27-04-18
Well done to Graham and Tim for 3rd place finish. Couldn’t defend the trophy but a podium place is none too shabby. Ravens team 4 aka “London marathon Recovery runners” was Marcus and myself. This was my first run since Sunday and setting off for the first leg the legs certainly felt heavy and wondering whether this was a good idea or not. Didn’t actually feel too bad in the end and handed over to Marcus after running 11:20 for my 2.5k leg in 43rd place. Marcus was quicker than me for his leg, running 10 minutes exactly and pushing us up to 25th place (well done!). Second leg legs felt a bit looser, got overtaken pretty quickly but then made an effort to try and overtake the person in front which helped me get round and keep the pace. Only managed to draw level never got round her. Ran 11:10 for leg 3 and we were up to 24th place. Marcus went even quicker on leg for in 9:58 for an overall position of 22nd. Great run in by Marcus using the elbows on the runner alongside who did not actually seem to know where he was going. Weekend off running for me now and hopefully will be out again next week. Aim to be at Assembly League next Thursday
Andrew Ferguson
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27-04-18
Yes, well done everyone. It was good fun. As Andy says, I had to employ rather more physical technique than I am used to at the finish, as a runner I was neck and neck with coming into the finish funnel came right across my racing line. I felt Robin would have been proud. He would have been less proud of the fact that, having assumed I had beaten him, I slowed on the line only to be re-overtaken. Rookie error. Still you live and learn!
Pleased with my splits only 4 days after London.
Marcus Elwes
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17-04-18
Brighton marathon
I was running the Brighton marathon today and having been obsessively checking the weather this week it ended up being perfect - overcast and cool. Being able to start in the fast start made a huge difference as I was able to get into my running early. The first few miles are through the town with big crowds and then out for a lonely 9 miles up the sea front and back. I settled in with another couple of guys at a healthy pace and we ran together until mile 20 (around 6:45 pace). They started to slow and I think my final gel had kicked in so I felt full of beans and put in my quickest mile from 20-21, maybe a bit early in hindsight. By mile 24 I was really starting to feel it and my pace dropped, but not catastrophically. Thanks for the shout outs in the last few miles as I certainly needed them! With the obvious euphoria of the last 0.5 mile I summoned a final effort and got over the line in 2hr 57m 17. A pb by just over 15mins so I'm delighted. Thank you to everyone for their advice in the last couple of months as it has really helped me achieve something I didn't think I was capable of even 4 months ago. There were a few other ravens racing which was great to have the camaraderie at the start and I look forward to their race reports.
Tim Harman
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17-04-18
I did the Brighton marathon yesterday along with Tim and Mike – great conditions but got my pacing horribly wrong and relied on technology when all the signs were there I was going to fast early on. My watch was telling me I was in and around 4.10 km’s over the first 5k and 10k but unfortunately the reality was more like 3.50’s – hit 5k in 18.51 and 10k in 38.43 and realised it was going to come back to haunt me later on. Steadied myself to hit half way in 1:24 and kept going ok to 20 miles when it really started to hurt and got a couple of killer hamstring cramps. Pleased to just about hold it together and sneak home in 2.59. Felt like I was in shape to beat my 2.55 PB but messed up – lesson learnt – use the mile markers to check the pact not the watch!
Paul Lucas
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17-04-18
Firstly, well done to Tim and Paul whom I saw wearing ravens vests on the course and also to Graham wearing his home club colours who appeared to be running well. As for my own run, if I am honest, I was under prepared. I was hoping to run sub 3:15 and set off conservatively or at least I thought so and went through half way in 1:34 but had a gruelling last 11 miles where my lack of quality distance training showed. I deservedly finished in 3:31:13 a full horizon from PB territory. I was closely followed by a guy who had spent the whole marathon juggling! Food for thought. Overall, I am not too disappointed as I still have plenty to work on and it was great once again to soak up the delights of a big City marathon. In my opinion, the Brighton Marathon keeps improving every year.
Mike McGeown
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17-04-18
I also did Brighton yesterday and saw Tim and John beforehand for a quick chat, also think I saw mike after he shouted something at me on the way round? As Tim said, the weather was pretty perfect which was a relief and so I set off slightly slower than GMP as planned and it felt so easy for the first couple of miles. Then tried to settle into 6:45s from about 3-4 miles but the first half was allot more undulating than I expected and seemed like a bit of a battle finding any consistency or ruthless but went through halfway just 3 seconds under my target of 1:30:30 so was on track. If I felt I was slowing then I managed to find some energy to put me back on track and managed to over take my brother at about 15-16 miles. Kept going and then around 20 miles it was getting tougher but I still felt like I was going well. Started to slow a little and finding it harder to keep the pace in the final 4-5 miles but I wasn’t giving up and a couple of time I intentionally slowed just a touch for 5 seconds to compose myself for a push and this worked a couple of times but towards the end and in the last few miles I just didn’t have that tiny bit more to reach 6:45-6:50 pace so tried to salvage as good a time as I could get. On the last water station I stopped very briefly to take on a proper mouthful of water (cups!) and to regroup for a final surge, I felt like it did me a favour and I managed to pick it up in the last 0.5 miles to 6:50 pace and crossed the line in 3:01:41. Got the sub 3 I wanted but a 9 minute PB, my 3rd marathon under my belt and a no cramp this time! Annoyingly, whilst I thought this was a gfa time yesterday, London marathon decided to move the goalposts retrospectively to the beginning of the year so I now I don’t actually qualify! Nice one VLM, obviously not making enough money from the running community!
Scott Darney
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17-04-18
A report I was hoping to dodge too. Started off ok and stayed with 3.30 pacers for the first 14/15 miles but then certain issues which had become apparent during training came to the fore. Have been suffering with a bruised foot and, don’t know if they are connected, but have had also had an issue with the mechanics of my knee after reaching a certain mileage during long training runs. I successfully managed it for the last few weeks of training but as we all know the marathon will find you out. From then on it was a slog and from 19 miles on was a hobble /walk. Stopped to help a chap who was swaying all over the road and talking gibberish at 24 miles. Was able to deliver him into the arms of some members of the public who had food and water. Then realised, that if I wasn’t careful I could have a finish time starting with 4.!! Stiffened the sinews, summoned up the blood and raced to cross the line in 3.58. I think that is my 10th marathon and a personal worst time to go with the previous personal worst time from last year. Disappointing, frustrating, annoying and any other ‘ing’ you can think of (please insert your own). Said last year “never again”, so I will not say that, but will definitely give marathons a rest next year. Will be 60 in 2020 so that seems like a good time to run another one. Would just echo what Mike said. I thought the organisation, atmosphere, support etc was superb and if you can’t get into the London Marathon would very much recommend Brighton as one to do.
Philip Priest
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17-04-18
Battersea Park 10k
Having achieved both a 5k and half marathon pb already this year I entered this race in the hopes of “completing the set”. It was the first time I’d travelled to a race alone and I left with only my husband’s words of encouragement “be back in time for me to go to football”. I made my way to the bandstand and collected my number, dropped my bag and made several last loo trips. Organised by Run Through, it was four laps (2 for the 5k runners)  and we were asked to line up in the pens in roughly time based order. Before I knew it we were off and I decided to use a lady with a bright pink top as my pacer, I try to not look at my watch too often but when I heard the beep for the first mile I sneaked a glance and I was horrified to realise that I’d just run my fastest mile. At this stage I didn’t feel too bad and we headed in to the second lap where I was distracted by dodging the 5k runners, walkers and buggy pushers. About half way round the second lap the negative thoughts started to creep in, as I paid the price for going off too fast, I tried to put to one side my cursing of the lady in the pink and to think positive but instead found myself running to the rhythm of “be back in time for football”. I just managed to hang on for the last two miles although they were both 40 seconds slower than the first mile, and as I approached the finish I could see 47 on the clock and with my pb being 47.52 I put everything I possibly could into the last few hundred meters to finish in 47.11. A new pb and for the first time ever, first in my category. Any tips on not going out too fast, apart from not following women in pink tops gratefully received.
Donna Henry
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10-04-18
Assembly League – Beckenham
Big thanks to Alex for organising last night so well.  And she got us all there on time! I really liked the up and down of the course – not much on the flat and was an interesting run. Was a bit of a frustrating run for me – went off at a sensible pace and began picking people off towards the end of the first mile and steadily through to the end of the second mile, and then when I would have looked to ramp it up and push hard to the end my stomach turned to jelly and I had to put on the brakes and jog it in for the last 0.6 / 0.7 miles so all the people I went past went back past me (apart from Denzel!).  I think I need to just avoid eating anything at any point prior to an evening race as my stomach seems to be very weak afterwards and I need to ease it off to avoid an accident.
John Crawley
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10-04-18
Paddock Wood Half
Despite a bit of rain it was pretty much perfect running conditions for running. No wind, not to warm etc. My plan was to run 5.40 min miles for as long as possible. I haven’t been feeling great the last few weeks after to much holidaying so was already preparing my excuses on the drive there but having attacked my quads with a massage ball on Saturday night and discovered a lot of knots I felt pretty good on my 2 mile warm up jog. Set off as planned and a mile or so in was running with a couple of guys who I discovered were all going for the same pace (So they said) and we managed it as a group to about mile 8 when all of a sudden they took off at more like 5.30s. It was about that time I started to feel the struggle in my legs but just committed to getting to each mile at a 5.40 then reviewing. Also about this point James Macdonald came back in to site and around mile 10 when it was really starting to hurt James told me that 6 min miles would get me the sub 75 desired. I just stuck to the back of him for as long as I could with the climbs over the railway bridges really took it out of me. Then as we came back in to Paddock Wood with about half a mile to go I attempted to empty the tank. This also resulted in my just out sprinting James in a very ungentlemanly manner after all his help pulling me round. Crossed the line in 74.11 for 33rd place.  A minute 18 ish PB and 4 mins 18 quicker than the same race last year. Race was won by John Gilbert in 65 minutes something just shy of the course record.
Chris Tuck
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10-04-18
I also ran Paddock Wood half, though with a slightly different approach to Chris and, consequently, a somewhat different outcome. This my PB course by over 3 minutes but it is usually 3/4 weeks out from London, so is safe to race flat out. However, with only 2 weeks to London and, having listened to this group's advice, I chose to run it as a training run, concentrating on maintaining target marathon race pace (7.30 mm) which I did religiously for 9 miles before opening up a bit towards the end, crossing the line comfortably in just over 1.36, nearly 10 minutes off my PB, but happy to have got through it sensibly. One of my club colleagues, same age and comparable level, chose to race it, running 6.40 mm to just over the 8 mile mark, when his calf went. He has now pulled out of London. Two weeks to London now, with a fraction more confidence of getting the sub 3.20 I need to get GFA again.
Marcus Elwes
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10-04-18
ESSEX COUNTY 10K - LITTLE BROMLEY
The above was billed as flat and fast. Talking to other runners the theme seemed to be that we had all had an abject lack of road racing this year, and that no-one had a clue what sort of shape they were in for London and other spring marathons. For my part, prior to the start of this I had a 5k and most of a DNF half marathon. This contrasted with last year -  a 10m, 3 halfs and a 20 miler.  Off we go in the drizzle.  I had actually turned my watch to K, and worked that to get a morale boosting PB (sub 37.33) I needed to run sub 3.45/k.  I felt pretty bouncy on my feet, and got into 3.35 ish rhythm.  How long could this last? About 2 miles! One of my laces came loose, and eventually as the shoe was about to fall off I had to stop, and watched other runners stream past me, including my club captain. Luckily this made me beyond cross, so I caught him up and overtook him.  At about 7k I could see Steve Philcox of Ilford who did not look  like he was enjoying himself.  I figured he was 3rd place old codger, so all I needed was a bit of bottle to get a county medal.  Got past him and with 500m to go could see he was well behind me so came off the gas a little to run in 36.14.  Big PB for me, and delighted to get the V50 bronze.  Was only about 15 seconds behind the 2nd V50, so who knows what would have happened without the lace **** up. School boy error I know.  Also spotted Dave Butler (back in the medals), Andy Catton, Mick & Wendy, and Anna Crawley.
Robin McCoy
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10-04-18
Brilliant PB Robin, you are clearly in good shape for London! I also ran this yesterday and took John’s place after he double booked himself.. don’t worry, I notified the organisers ;)  I wasn’t sure whether to run as I’ve had a cold the past week but decided to give it a go anyway – at least it got my run done for the day!  I did a mile warm up at around 10:15/mile and felt lethargic so was a bit worried about the race, but once I got going, I was ok. I set off with a club mate (who is definitely a fair bit faster than me but has only recently started running again after being unwell) and stuck with her for about 2.5 miles, she then pulled off and I couldn’t keep up with her – looking at her mile splits, she got faster by the mile so I had no chance! I tried to keep pushing and not let my pace drop, I was quite consistent until the last mile where I faded a bit.  A shout from Robin at the end gave me the boost I needed and I was able to put in a quick surge. I thought it was a PB by about 10 seconds (my watch recorded 50:51) but the official time was 51:05 (it took a little while to get over the start line), so 3 seconds off my PB – happy enough though as I was expecting a result far worse than that! George Wakefield also spotted.
Anna Crawley
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10-04-18
As I said on Sunday great run. No comment about the laces ! Despite the flat course and ideal conditions a PW for me - 43.48. It least it was pretty even pace throughout just 4.20 ish per k instead of the 4.10 I was aiming for. But seeing as I was struggling to run 22 mins for a 5k at beginning of March I guess have to manage the expectations better. Winning M60 time of 36.12 was just insane ! Well done Mick on silver. And great to see Dave B back out in the road.
Cats
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10-04-18
Thanks and well run Andy. I'm sure your times will improve once you get some regular training sessions/periods under your belt. Congratulations to all the other racers too. Brilliant runs by Robin and Mick in the Bromley 10k. Great day for racing with slightly damp (wet) conditions but a very flat course. I had quite low expectations for my first serious road race for a long time ( thinking 41 to 42 mins was the best I could hope for). Managed very even splits throughout though it always felt like I was on the very edge of my current fitness level i.e. It was hard! So was well pleased to be third V60 with accompanying Essex bronze medal some way behind Mick in a time of 39:57. Also 1st V65 by a good margin to win a nice bottle of sparkling wine which went down nicely over dinner last night.
Dave Butler
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5-04-18
Lee Valley Half Marathon
On Saturday, I took part in the Lee Valley Velopark Half Marathon.  This is the venue where you run round and round the 1 mile Velopark track, with 5 different races going on at the same time.  Having had a miserable warm-up run the Sunday before, after which my hamstrings had been tight for the next 3 days, I decided to take it easy and see where I was around the 7th lap.  Unfortunately, when I started my fitbit, it flashed low battery (despite the fact I had charged it the night before) and I spent the first lap being paranoid that, without a watch, I wouldn't be able to work out how many laps I had done and therefore when I had actually finished the race.  This, and the usual bonkers start of race sprint, meant I wasn't properly concentrating on my pace and completed the first mile in about 7.45, way faster than I had planned.  I tried to settle into a more sensible rhythm and to catch sight of the people against whom I was racing, before the 10 mile runners joined the course.  I spent the next 7 laps trying to reel in as many runners (particularly women) as possible and then the next 3 laps dodging the 5k runners who had started on the course at that point.  At about that point, my hamstrings started to tighten up again and my calves soon joined in the fun.  With Beckenham on Thursday, I didn't want to do any damage so I eased off a bit and my miles after that got slower and slower. Fortunately, with about 500m to go, one of the women I had passed back on lap 7 came past me, which gave me the kick up the backside I needed to stop jogging and start running.  Channelling my inner 'Black Knight', I stuck on her shoulder until about 300m when I sprinted as hard as I could, to finish ahead of her by 4 seconds.  My time of 1.44.44 (44/165, 4th female) wasn't a PB but was the best I have done since I set my PB in 2011, when I ran both London and Amsterdam, so had far better stamina.  Some hard work required to get that back!
Alex Anderson
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28-03-18
ESSEX ROAD RELAYS
Due to bad weather, and last week’s debacle, first completed road race of 2018! For the V50s this is 3 legs of 5k, up and down Harwich sea front.  After much Power of Ten stalking we decided that our (Springfield) rivals would be Colchester.  My instructions were to beat Pete West and between me and the second leg runner give Paul Dobson a 30 second to try and beat the unstoppable (In Essex) Colin Ridley. Unfortunately I didn’t know what Pete looked like.  Luckily in this race veteran runners have their age category pinned to their backs.  Only plan, go out hard and make sure no geriatric got past me.  Set off ahead of Mick, which slightly concerned me (and apparently my team mates).  Kept on huffing and puffing to beat Mick & Pete West in 18.02 (I think the baton change slowed me down) and give our #2 a 27 lead. This lead had eroded to 7 seconds as the eagerly awaited Dobbo/Ridley show down started.  Paul couldn’t quite do it and we came 2nd by 7 seconds.  First county medal of the year!
Robin McCoy
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28-03-18
Cranleigh 21
Ran the Cranleigh 15/21 today. I felt pretty nervous at the start after struggling at the Thameside 20 after 15 miles and not having run much since then feared the worst. Saw Tom Robertson at the start who was looking out for Duncan and planning to do 6:50's for the first 15, I told him I was planning 7:30's. As it turned out I had a pretty enjoyable race, and it felt like a proper race as opposed to a training run. Lined up at the start and thought I would set off at what felt like a good pace without stretching myself too far, I let Tom and Duncan ease off in front of me with no plans at all of keeping up with them. I was surprised to see the first mile split of 6:53 but it felt like a nice pace so I just went with it. Interestingly Tom and Duncan were not 3 seconds ahead of me at this point so their 6:50 plan lasted about as long as my 7:30 one... After a couple of miles the field stretched out a bit and I was now running with a small group, the course was quite undulating so I wasn't paying too much time to the exact splits but the first 5 miles were all around 7mins and it still felt decent, I was in a good rhythm. In the back of my mind I thought if I blow up there is the option to wimp out and do 15 rather than the full 21. At about 8 or 9 miles I made a concerted effort to try and keep below 7min pace so pushed on, found myself running with the odd person and then easing away to the next person for the most part of the middle of the race. Managed to keep this up until m 17 which was 7:02 but corrected it with a 6:50 at m 18. Was starting to feel pretty tired but nowhere near as bad as the Thameside so just stuck at it. The last 10 miles is a 5 mile loop section, there is a nasty little climb towards the end of each loop and hitting it at 19.5m was interesting but you know if you can get to the top it's a pretty nice downhill bit. I was quicker up the hills than everyone around me which felt good. Anyhow, finished in 47th place in 2:26. Pretty much the same time as Thameside having run a mile more and didn't feel half as bad. Looking at my GAP pacing on strava my mile splits were pretty consistent, 6:45 to 7:04 with only 4 over 7 min. And not running with a hat on meant my HR looked a lot more normal, it just went up! Nice to have a more encouraging race and great to see a couple of Ravens there.
Iain Davie
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28-03-18
Iain – nice run & similar to the run Duncan & I had (apart from the minor detail that I only did 15…). As Iain mentioned, the plan was to go round at 6.50s, but this turned into c.6.37 (it wouldn’t be a Ravens run without a significant under estimation of the actual vs target!). It was great to have a reasonably controlled run with a bit of chat along the way. At about 13 miles I tried to persuade Duncan that 15 miles at better than race pace was a good session and not to flog it through an extra 6 – he wasn’t having it and just tapped out the last 6 at the same pace, strong. There was an amusing moment at about 8 miles when a big shout came up from behind us to ‘run on the left’ – aimed at the few runners in front us (not us as we always run on the left) – it was a Harrow runner who had been at the club since the early 70s. He caught us up and we ran on the left to the 15 mile point with him. A great race & definitely recommended.
Tom Robertson
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28-03-18
As Tom said a nice day out running apart from the fact that I had got back to London late Saturday night and with the clocks going forward I only had about 6:00 hours of sleep . Apart from the lack of rest/sleep it was pretty much perfect weather cool clear and a gentle breeze. Got to the start about a 2 minutes before the off and luckily found Tom which we quickly discussed doing an steady 6:50. As he mentioned this was out the window with an opening mile opening at 6:25 and it was only mile 5 onwards that we settled into a rhythm of something that looked like marathon pace. The nice thing was we were mainly having a conversation for the first 10 miles while still running 6:40 which felt good.  We were then joined by a local runnier and carried on our conversational run.  At Mile 14 Tom and the local runnier tried to convince me to only do the 15 but feeling good and really wanting to test myself at race pace I took one of my gels and prepared myself for the second lap. The good thing about this was you get to pick of runners for fun as its all the people still on the first lap so I felt quite good being the overtaker and not the overtaken.  There was a minor mental brick wall moment but another gel and the watch telling me I was still running at the same pace got me over it.  I came home in 21st place I(15th Age Group) in 2:19:31 so managed to keep the average pace of 6:41 which felt good. No rest for me post race as I nipped into the supermarket to do the half weekly shop.  Surprisingly on the way home I had the seat warmer on and my legs and back felt great after id recommend that and the race.
Duncan Anderson
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28-03-18
Colchester half marathon
On Sunday I took part in the Colchester half marathon as part of my build up to Brighton marathon. Having not completed any race pace work for this distance I was slightly apprehensive on the start line as to the pace I would be able to maintain. The first 5 miles are quite hilly with a steep decline and then climb back onto the high street within the first 2 miles. After letting a few people fly off the start I was pleased to be starting to move back past people on the climbs. You then have a long downhill section before reaching a 1.5 mile climb, which isn’t always exceedingly steep but just keeps going. After a rather dull stretch through an industrial estate you reach the halfway point. I was pleased to see that I went through in 39min 55 whilst still feeling good.

The second half is a much more pleasant run along country lanes and less demanding hills. I felt as though I was in a good rhythm and wanted to just keep my momentum. It was again good as I was managing to reel people in every mile or so. Getting to 12 miles I realised I was still on for a sub 80 if I managed myself properly. I decided that I would give myself a final 1km push and just imagine I was running down the towpath. The chap in front of me wasn’t keen on letting me get past him in the final 200m and put in a final burst but it kept me pushing all the way home. Delighted to see the clock at 1 hr 19min 45 and a pb by nearly 1.5 mins. Delighted to go under 80 mins and now need to start the taper – thanks to everyone for their advice.
Tim Harman
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28-03-18
London Landmarks half Marathon
I wouldn’t normally race two halves two weeks running but I was offered an unused charity place and the opportunity to run in an inaugural closed road London race was too good to resist. The day did not get off to a good start with Southern Rail deciding that messing up my commute in the week was not quite enough and only by cancelling all trains into London on a Sunday morning could they really be satisfied. The race was in six waves and by the time we arrived we were lucky to make the last wave, this meant my plan to start in front of the 2hour pacer was replaced by starting behind the 2.45 pacer! The race started on Pall Mall and I weaved in and out at the start having to stop completely on two occasions by the time I got to the first mile I decided just to relax and enjoy the race. There was a very tight turn around Holborn and a lady went down, I briefly considered ignoring her but decided to be a better person and help her up. The race then opened out a bit and I was able to run on the pavement which despite dodging post boxes, bus stops and stray pedestrians meant I caught the 2.30 pacer. The route had various signs along the way, giving various pieces of historical information which were quite interesting to read on the way round and the various bands and cheering points were great although the ringing of Bow Bells was the highlight. Around mile 4 I passed the 2.15 and 2 hour pacer running together  I was momentarily confused until I realised that each wave had a set of pacers. The route was very twisting with quite a few u turns and switch backs which meant lots of opportunity to see the fancy dress costumes and I spotted, Big Ben, St.Pauls, The Shard, The London Eye and rather oddly Nemo. At mile 6 the route headed towards the city and I passed another 2 hour pacer, I was unsure as to how I was going and risked a look at my watch, it seemed I’d done the last mile in 8.10 a lot faster than my target pace but I know better that to trust a watch in the city so I just ignored it and carried on. We ran past the Tower of London and I realised I was quite enjoying myself and I passed another 2hour pacer and even high fived a few kids which I never do. At mile 11 another look at my watch revealed I was on for a pb. I started to push hard and by mile 12 my legs were objecting and the last mile was quite hard, particularly with a u turn at about 12 and a half miles, however I managed to cross the finish line in 1.48.45 a four minute pb over last week. I’d totally recommend the race as I really enjoyed it except for the rather long walk from the finish to the bag drop.
Donna Henry
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23-03-18
Indoor masters National Championships
I participated at the weekend at Lee Valley, but was a bit nervous as had not raced indoors or any shorter races for 6 months, and had been skiing 4 days beforehand. Came 5th in the 1500m in a slow 4.45, but if I done all of the above I would only have reached 4th. Nightmare in the 3k racewalk, as after lap 5 of 15 my shoelace came undone.(school boy error!). If you bend your knee you get a warning, so how do you re tie it? So I left it and my laps got slower and slower. Managed to survive and came 2nd. As the winner, who is the European champion, races for Portugal I was given the gold. He and i chatted afterwards for a while. He said you cannot race walk and do the 1500m running as I will get injured. But you can race walk and do 10k plus running.
So this year I will concentrate on 1,500m and the steeplechase. Next year, the 10k, race walk and probably also the steeplechase.
Simon LeMare
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23-03-18
Kiss me I’m Irish half marathon, Glendale, Arizona
I signed up for the above because I am at a works conference and couldn’t run the (cancelled) Brentwood half. Despite the long flight the day before, I felt pretty good warming up. First mile in under 6, feeling strong. Some human beanpole and the guide bike went past me leaving me in second place. (He finished in a shade over 70). Now running by myself and got into a 6.05 rhythm. PB in sight! At about 8 miles turned round and astonished to find THBP running towards me , i.e. behind me. Quickly worked out I’d gone short on the unmarshalled course. So stopped and sulked. Then realised I had no idea where I was, so waited for runners 2 &3 to come past and paced the 1st last to second place in 82. First DNF in 20 years, but not a bad workout, and had a good drink with the 2nd place male runner and his family. Why am I submitting this non race report? The 2nd place male, Chad Joyce, tried to give me his prize. Runners - nice people!
Robin McCoy
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23-03-18
Hastings Half Marathon
Unlike Robin, I started, followed the course correctly and finished a race at the weekend. Yesterday in understandably freezing weather I took part in the Hasting half. The first 5 and a bit miles of this course are uphill. This was the second time I had run it and due to its steep nature, my aim was to beat my 2017 time of 1:36. I started out with ice blocks for feet and very conservatively pacing wise sticking to 7 min miling as some steep sharp inclines get you nicely settled in as you leave St Leonard's before the big 2 mile ascent begins at Mile 3. A year ago I started off way too fast and had nothing left after the hill section. My pace dropped from 7:00's to 7:58 and 7:30 on miles 4 and 5 on the ascent. This sounds like a disaster but any faster would have killed my race. Just after mile 5 the course plateaus and I increased my pace back to 7 min miling again for the next two miles. Up to this point I was running comfortably with two of my club mates. It then occurred to me that I was running a bit too comfortably and that I wasn't really doing my recent training nor the advice of my Ravens club mates justice so I decided to put the hammer down down incrementally for the last 6 miles and I felt incredible. Miles 8 to 11 were pretty much down hill and miles 12 and 13 were flat along the seafront (no headwind this year). My last 6 miles were 6:25, 6:39, 6:02, 6:02, 6:09, 6:09. I am particularly pleased with those last two miles on the flat as I cut through the field and caught up with and passed a pacing group. I also feel that I had at least another fast mile in the locker at the finish. My gun / watch time was roughly 1:29:05 (chip 1:28:55). Not a PB as not the course for it but it is the best time I have run since 2015 and since my big injury of that year. I am really pleased and so thanks for all the advice guys. Fellow Ravens, Steve Hudson and Kevin Cockram also raced and let's hope we get a reports from them too!
Mike McGeown
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23-03-18
Great efforts from Mike and Stephen and other Wadhurst Runners - our top placing being 27th (out of 2469 finishers). As for me, you'll likely know from a complete lack of running with the Ravens that I have been struggling since January with knee issues.  This culminated with a trip to A&E a few weeks back post running for a train when something appeared to "give" behind my right knee and left me limping for around a week with no running whatsoever.  I've been having physio and under instruction, have recently slightly upped my running, so although things have improved, I'm not in the best shape I've ever been. However, Hastings is my favourite HM and I'm an ever-present since 2007 (I know it has to end one year), so I was really keen to run if there was any chance I could.  Therefore, after further physio discussion, we agreed that taken sensibly, this was a goer and we'd see how things were post the event.  As a result, I ran this just looking to complete the course with no mishaps. Pleased to report that I completed with a gun time of 1.42.36 and limited knee reaction.  I'm going to see how the next 48 hours develop before deciding what happens next.  Most likely I'll look for a referral to a knee specialist to make sure I'm not at the end of my running "career". Due the above, I won't commit to any Assembly League races at present, but hopefully I'll be able to do something at some point this year.
Kevin Cockram
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23-03-18
BMAF XC Champs
On Saturday my wife and I ran in the BMAF XC Champs in Forres, about 25miles east of Inverness. The weather was cold but sunny, there were a few flakes in the air but no snow on the ground. The course was very dry, so it was short spikes or trail shoes, and was around the grass of a park and then into the woods where there was some nice up and down hills and twists and turns – overall a really good course. The organisation was fantastic, all entrants got a box of shortbread from the local bakery, there was a pipe band playing at the start of the race, and afterwards the same local bakery supplied pies and  shortbread as post race refreshments + there was also drinks & bananas – all free of charge. As well as the usual BMAF medals for first, second and third in each 5 year age group as a one off for this year there was bottle of local whisky for the winners of each age group plus a small prize of a running neck buff again for the first three. After several years of trying I finally won my age group. I managed to open up a lead on the first of two laps and as we round the park before setting out on the second lap through the woods my wife shouted out that the next M60 was nearly 400m behind me, but she said she may have missed someone ! So I was running the second lap as hard as I could hoping that she was correct – as it turned out she was and I won by over a minute. My wife came second in the W45 age group so it was a very successful weekend for both of us. The whisky turned out to be a 10year old single malt from a distillery in Elgin, about 10 miles from Forres, and was a limited edition special bottling just for the race 57.1% alcohol rather than the usual 40% - I haven’t opened it yet but once I do it won’t last long !
Mick Bridgeland
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23-03-18
Limassol Half Marathon
I’ve not been running long distances of late but having kept up with some of the Ravens recently on their recovery runs  I was feeling pretty confident (apologies to the ravens who’ve tried to talk to me and received nothing but a squeak in response). However I wasn’t sure how not being able to follow what has become an ridiculously rigid pre race routine combined with the heat was going to affect me. I was also somewhat shocked to find the race started at 7.30am having only heard “girls weekend away” when we were booking.  A relaxing pina colada by the pool the day before seemed like a good idea, I’m not quite sure what happened next but I  turned up at the start line with a five pina colada and four gin fizzes hangover, in view of this I decided to start behind the two hour pacer. The first mile was horribly crowded with the usual trip hazards of people weaving in and out, when the race thinned out I decided to go past the two hour pacer where it was much less congested, I took a bottle of water at mile three but as they weren’t sports cap it was quite difficult to drink any without basically waterboarding myself. At mile four with alcohol seeping out of my pores I made the decision to slow down but by mile 5 I started to see people coming back on the other side of the road which was a very welcome distraction. At mile six I took an ill advised gel and from mile seven I was unable to enjoy the lovely sea views as I was desperately looking for a port aloo. After the unscheduled stop I was faced with what I find the hardest bit of every half marathon between miles nine and ten, and it was starting to get hot so I picked up a wet sponge at a water stop, when I had it used it I threw it sideways and inadvertently hit a fellow runner. He seemed to take this as an invitation to chat but his English wasn’t great and my Cypriot is non-existent he pretty soon dropped off, I pushed on to the end rounded the final corner and stormed towards the blue arch that I thought was the end, turned out it wasn’t the finish and the last 400m were just painful however I was delighted to find a I’d gained a new pb of 1.53.07 and I assume I can now call myself an international athlete!
Donna Henry
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9-03-18
Abu Dhabi Triathlon
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to take part in this event when a colleague suggested we make a Client visit to Dubai the Monday after this race, so I thought I would head out to Abu Dhabi first, watch the elite races on the Friday, and then take part in the age group event on the Saturday. Fortunately my flight was bang on time although the journey to the airport was a tad stressful taking over four hours having decided to take the train (taking my bike with me) rather than risk driving and getting stuck on the M25. Having registered and had a quick swim/bike practice I then watched the men’s and women's races. The course was great as it was easy to move around and catch the elites. Unfortunately though it rained most of the morning which made the bike route very slippery resulting in a number of crashes. The roads in Abu Dhabi are very smooth but they don’t take kindly to the rain. As well as the standard Olympic distance, the organisers also offer a sprint and a middle distance race. I was tempted to enter the middle distance event, however I didn’t fancy a 7.00 am start given that I only arrived at 2.00 am on the Friday morning. On to the race itself. The swim start is in Yas Marina and after about 400 meters we then head in to the Arabian Sea before exiting the water. Even though the swim was wetsuit optional I decided to ditch the wetsuit. Firstly the water was a balmy 23 degrees and secondly I really couldn’t be bothered with all the effort of putting my wetsuit on given how hot it was. I was in the last wave off at 9.30 and the organiser used a rolling start sending 4 of us off at a time down the ramp with a dive in to the marina. Given that I have taken part in over 70 triathlons this was my first ever rolling start. Within a few minutes I realised that going without the wetsuit was a good option. The water was very warm and as it was so salty it also provided a lot of extra buoyancy. I really enjoyed the swim as it was easy to sight and I was at the back of a group of three nearly all the way meaning a quick time even without the wetsuit. Moving on to the bike, this was advertised as 40 km consisting of two laps. The first part of the bike leg was around the Yas Marina F1 circuit followed by a number of loops around Yas Island. It was a fairly quick course but there were a lot of dead turns and the circuit itself was very technical with a lot of tight twists and literally thousands of cones marking the route. Come the end of the first lap I had clocked over 22 km so I assumed I had taken a wrong turn but it transpired that the organisers had made a last minute change to the course making the distance around 44 km. On to the run I quickly got in to my stride and headed out trying to pick off any many others as I could. The run was pan flat on smooth tarmac so it was perfect for me although it was getting very hot and I resorted to my usual tactic of dosing myself with as much water as possible to stay cool. The miles quickly ticked by and before long I had crossed the finish line just sneaking under 2 hours 30 minutes. It transpired that the run was long as well at over 11 km. Once I got back to the hotel I checked on the results and I was pleased to see I had finished 17th out of 500 odd starters and had scrapped 4th in my age group. I would have been second in the younger age group. Given all the running I have been doing this year it was nice to do a triathlon so early in the season and it seems that neither my swim or bike have suffered too much from all the extra running. Next up is the Brentwood half and then the London marathon.
Ian George
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6-03-18
Northumberland coastal trail ultra
Whilst various other Ravens subjected themselves to Parliament Hill, on Saturday I ran in the EnduranceLife coastal trail series event in Northumberland. My second ultra, consisting of 35 miles of very scenic coastal paths and beach sections, point to point from Alnwick castle up to Bamburgh castle. After first couple of miles, the field of just over 100 runners was already very spread out, 4 guys had gone off very fast and I was in 7th place. I then had several hours of running alone along some beautiful coastal scenery, eventually passing 2 others and then getting a third in my sights for final few miles but not quite being able to catch him. My biggest challenges were getting the pacing steady and taking on plenty of nutrition, both of which I managed to achieve quite nicely, keeping my mile splits very even throughout. After 27 miles, we passed the finish point and did an extra loop of 8 miles around the castle, this being mentally challenging. This brought us back on to the beach with just over a mile to go at which point the runners from the corresponding 10k and half marathon events were coming in and things got quite congested, quite strange having been out on my own for over 4 hours! Finish time of 4hrs 40, giving me average pace of 7:51/mile. 5th overall, 1st V50. Fun day out, legs still feeling it a bit!
Rupert Holden
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6-03-18
Tarpley 20 - Race Report
Yesterday I ventured to the Suffolk countryside for the Tarpley 10/20 opting for the longer distance. The course was along undulating country lanes with some stunning countryside to enjoy in the sun. I was targeting 7 minute miles and hoping that would be relatively comfortable and came home in 2.18.37 at 6.55mm so was happy with that. The course was great, one loop as opposed to the 3 laps you usually get at the Essex 20 so this will now be my 20 mile race of choice in the marathon training schedule. With about 6 miles left the 20 milers joined the same loop as the 10 milers which meant a constant stream of slower runners to hunt down – much more preferable than the usual solo run you often find yourself on in the longer races. A really well organised event, looking forward to returning next year.
David Campbell
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6-03-18
Nationals
I'll get in quick before the speedsters. My main objectives this year were to get round relatively unscathed and not hate every second of it, like last time round. The weather was comparatively benign compared to 2015 and the mud, whilst still brutal, was not as treacherous this time. The course I had about half a km longer than 2015, be interested to know if others thought the same. Anyway, in spite of one tumble, which was no biggie, I got round ok and whilst the final lap was especially hard going, I never got into that really dark place and came away with good memories of an amazing event. My time was 1:01:50 and I finished way down, around 1,700, so no worrying the leaders, but pleased to have taken part.
Marcus Elwes
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6-03-18
What can I say – it was brutal. Not as muddy as it has been for the Southerns and only 7.4 miles, but it was still very hard work. It was very congested during the first part of the race, I was walking at the top of the first hill because there was no room to run and a bit later on when we went through a narrow muddy section we had to stop as there was no way through the stationary runners ahead. Gradually the field spread out s at least you could run. At times I felt I could have walked faster. I spotted Tony Touhy after the first medium lap and kept him in my sights for the next two big laps. With about 2 miles to go I spotted Arif a little way ahead which gave me someone to target and as we got onto the “easier” parts of the course I gradually reeled him in.

I managed to pass both Arif and Tony on the last flat part of the course before the long downhill to the finish, luckily neither of them saw me (the National is so busy that you can sneak past people !) – I then just ran as fast as I could to the finish line, this was the best part of the course. Overall I feel like I survived the National rather than ran it, but at least I got round – my club team started with 6 runners 2 of whom did not finish, one fell over so many times he decided not to start the last lap, the other lost a shoe, spent a while hunting for it and then gave up. In years to come someone will be digging on Hampstead Heath and come across loads of xc spikes and wonder what strange ritual they were part of.
Mick Bridgeland
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6-03-18
Absolutely brutal! Probably the closest I’ve come to a DNF, we seemed to keep running up the same hill – perhaps we did.  I saw Marcus at the start, and Arif sped past me after 2 miles.  I saw Mrs Bridgeland, but I think that was it Raven wise.  Fell  over, which made for nice photos.  Glad I did it, can’t say I’ll be doing it again! #1209, 56.0.  Treated myself to the sedate South Essex XC league yesterday.  My plans to run the ten miles home afterwards were quickly changed to a pint of Guinness with a couple of the Benfleet lads.  Well done to Mick for first V60.
Robin McCoy
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6-03-18
Not a lot to report for me. I think the week on the slopes followed by the overnight train took its toll (as expected) and I suffered from what felt like a dead leg when climbing the hills managed to run it off each time before the next climb so just vowed to get to the finish. Plan was slightly thrown out of the window when Alex came by me going down the last hill so thought it best to try and catch him and just about managed to do so by the line. Not as muddy as some years which meant you could run on the top parts of the course rather than slog the whole way round. There was actually a loop taken out as it was deemed to dry meaning we did three laps not two. A bit gutted as most of the people I have raced all season were in the 300 to 400 region and I finished in 569 but I can’t say it was unexpected and my only real aim was to complete another national and loved the experience as ever. Looking forward to some road and track.
Chris Tuck
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6-03-18
I took Arif’s advice and went for 15mm spikes which served well for grip, although there is nothing that can prepare you for the suction of the mud. I prefer wet and muddy underfoot rather than boggy. I knew I could look forward to a PB when I my spike came off and I slipped down the hill to the start. I got to the start line and set off with one foot soaked and climbed up the hill, listening to the chap on the announcer heckling anyone who went off too fast up the hill, only to die at the top. Full of encouragement I made the most of the first downhill and went too quick for my left shoe, which wanted a rest and got stuck in the mud. I managed to annoy quite a few people in trying to run back up the hill and recover it out of the mud. I dusted myself down and thought it was a one off. I caught sight of Robin with his springfield striders and bandana on and thought I’d go past him. On the next stretch after the ditch, my right shoe came off and I’m pretty sure Robin came past me. I realized that after losing both feet 3 times without finishing the first lap, it was going to be tougher than I thought. I carried on losing my shoes another 3 times – losing my shoes 6 times in total. This resulted in me overtaking a couple of my club colleagues but being overtaken by them each time the mud sucked my pace away. I was adamant I wasn’t going to be one of the 12 people who must have finished with 1 shoe or not shoes at all (evidence around the course of single spikes abandoned in mud). Crossed the line in a very disappointing time of 56:13 placing 1,229th , I completed with both shoes on feet but after closer inspection, lost parts of the soles. Will be back next year with tape, and adjusted technique for running through bog/ a hoverboard.
Graham Hollingdale
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6-03-18
Saturday was my 4th successive Nationals at Parli Hill and by far my worst finishing position. I finished in 740th, 251 places higher than 3 years ago. I wore 15mm spikes and they did the job but I made the schoolboy error of not really tightening my laces and on 2 occasions my heel slipped out of my shoe in the thick porridge. There’s one bit of the course where you race down the hill at full pelt and then you make a 90 degree turn into the bog - many a mudman was born at this spot! Great event; however every 3 years for me is just about right.
Stuart Fraser
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6-03-18
I've had a shite XC season - too much disrupted training and not been able to make any of the races so this was only my 2nd race of the season. As a result I decided to ease into the race and target a few rivals rather than truly empty myself. Was feeling reasonable and in touch with some good runners when I stacked it going too fast into the corner Stu mentions below. I lost a bit of confidence after that and time.
But overall this was one of the easiest parly hills i've done - not very muddy and did not absolutely hate the thing like I normally do. Overtook Chris Beecham and Tony Tuohy towards the end but was completely blindsided by Mick. Absolutely had plenty left in the tank to have beaten him in a sprint finish. With hindsight one should not feel good at the end of the National so obviously didn't run it hard enough. PS. Special mention to Peter Huck coming 4th - one of Peter Mchugh's prodigies who has run for us once in the past at Viccy Park assembly league. incredible run.
Arif Merali
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6-03-18
Sorry for a lack of an email on the Nationals but I went to Iceland on Sunday where it was disappointingly warmer than in the UK!!  My race was much as everyone else.  I was feeling okay for the first two laps and dealing with the mud and hills but started to feel awful on the last lap the only thing that kept me going was seeing Chris just in front of me.  I managed to overtake him on the last downhill but went too early and he was able to reel me in before the line.  Finished in 567th and Chris 565th which I was a little disappointed with but not surprised given how I felt on the run. Also I completely agree with Marcus this was my first National and second race at Parliament Hill as I ran the Southerns last year and it is a great event that I will always try to do despite how hard it is though I have been told that I have been lucky with the weather the last couple of years! :)
Alex hardy
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6-03-18
Roding Valley Half Marathon
I ran this race a few years ago now and it was a breakthrough at the time as I finished in 1.34 – a massive PB then, so I had fond memories of it and decided it was time to revisit.  One thing I particularly love about this race is that you start and finish on a track.  However, I’d forgotten just how many hills there are in this race!  The route is one small loop then two larger loops; quite a number of marshals on the course but as Phil has noted previously, there are a number of road openings that are not marshalled and some cars refuse to stop, making it a potentially dangerous course. No racing (the last time I raced was early December and it was a flat 10K) and quite high weekly mileage recently meant I had no expectations for this race at all.  As I’ve not long started working, I’ve made the most of my time off (going out for long runs to explore the area and sometimes, double-days). I looked around on the start line and noted only one other female wearing vest and shorts – all others had several layers on with gels in their belts so I was hoping for a high-position finish.  I got a good start and went with the front runners.  The short loop had a hill which was a bit of a shock to the system but I soon got into a rhythm.  After that, I was quite some way in, on the first of the two loops when I thought I heard a marshal say “first female”, but I wasn’t sure so I thought they probably said “third female”.  I was aware a few guys had passed me but I didn’t see any females ahead and none had passed me either.  Then as I got further around the course more marshals were saying I was the lead female. I then saw a couple of people who were running bits of the course here and there supporting their friends and they confirmed it.  I tried to keep my head together and not panic. I did not look at my watch at all during the race partly due to the discussions on here and also I felt if I looked at my watch and felt I was going too fast, would I slow down?  Alternatively, if I felt I was going too slow, would I have any energy to go faster, as I should be running at optimum anyway.  I was aware of my Garmin buzzing but at each mile, the buzz was coming sooner and sooner so I reckon by the end of the race, by Garmin was ahead by a good half a mile – another reason not to take any notice of the watch. As I came around the last corner to enter the car park, leading to the track, I had absolutely no idea how long I’d taken or what the time was.  I knew I was in 40th place (according to one marshal) but it could have been 1.28 or it could have been 1.38.  As I approached the finish gantry I was pleasantly surprised to see the clock ticking over from 1.31 to 1.32 and my actual finish time was 1.32.10.  Not a PB but on a hilly/undulating course, I was over the moon.  The second lady came in at 1.33.43.  The race director gave me the opportunity of two prizes but I declined the V40 as I’ve been in races before where I thought I was going to win the age-grade prize but it went to one of the winners.  I received a nice glass trophy and a voucher for £75 worth of Ron Hill gear.
Vicky Cooper
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6-03-18
Riverside 20
I ran the Clapham Chasers Thames Riverside 20 today in build up to the marathon. Had a rubbish couple of weeks training, i.e. nothing, due to illness and the snow. Wasn't particularly looking forward to it but once I got there started to get a real buzz for it which I needed. Really well organised race and I was intrigued by the pacing group scenario which meant it felt quite intimate and more training than hardcore race. I couldn't decide between the 7min or 7:30min group but in the end caution got the better of me and I went with the 7:30. The course was in pretty good condition considering the weather over the past week and other than the odd stretch of large puddles and a bit of mud I found the going ok. There were a couple of 7:30 groups as it was a popular pace so I set off in the first one and it quickly turned in to a 7:15 group. We splintered after a few miles and it became a group of 7 or 8 and we were ticking the miles off and it felt both enjoyable and fairly easy, miles 8, 9 and 10 were pretty much 7 min. As we made the turn to head home we picked up the pace again and was now ticking over on or better than the magic 6:52, all was going well. The pace had meant there were only 3 of us left from our group, a guy from fulham and a lady from the chasers. As we went through 14 I mentioned to the fulham guy that things felt pretty good and almost within an instant I started to struggle. At the same time I was due a gel and grabbed a water to help it down, the water was served in cardboard cups and as I struggled to drink I lost maybe 10 metres and never recovered. Miles 15 through to 18 were a challenge as the other two kept their pace and I was back near the 7:30 mark. Mile 19 was slower still and then was able to rally in the last half or so to finish in 2:25. In general not too displeased, there were both positives and negatives but I liked the fact that the last 5 miles were a real mental and physical challenge. Time to crack on with the training again and get as much done before London. I was hoping to see a couple of you there, thought I saw Rob Laing coming back past us after about mile 8, he was in second but haven't seen the official results so may not have been him. Interestingly, and if anyone has any advice on heart rates I'd love to know the reason for this. My HR built steadily from the start up until mile 7 which is where it peaked at 175. After that it dropped and then hovered between 150 and 160. I think in hindsight I took my hat off at around 7 so wonder if that was something to do with it.
Anyway, cracking race in my opinion.
Iain Davie
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6-03-18
Big Half
I ran this event yesterday (the first running) and had a shocker. Don’t know why, preparation was poor due to train issues (thanks Sountheastern) but the weather was fine and the course perfectly benign, but I struggled from early on and could do nothing about it. I came in almost bang on 1:35 which was only a minute or so faster than Tunbridge Wells two weeks ago, which is a much more challenging course and where I took it fairly easy. Absolutely no idea what went wrong, just have to chalk it down to a bad day at the office and move on. I think my chances of getting GFA at London next month are now very low/non-existent, but we’ll see. As for the event itself, hard to fault the organisation for a first time staging of the event (though would expect nothing less as organised by the London Marathon); support was good considering the cold and number of marshals (many of whom I knew) was impressive. Also saw Rob O around Wapping (I think) who gave me a big shout out for which thanks. Not sure I will do it again but glad to have been there for the inaugural event, won of course by Sir Mo. We are now 1-1 when we race together (he pulled out of one London Marathon I did 😊)
Marcus Elwes
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6-03-18
I also ran the big half yesterday.  I was offered a last minute place and was in two minds whether to take it or not as I’m running the Brentwood half in two weeks’ time.  I decided that it would probably be quite a good race to do (and flatter than Brentwood!) so gave it a go.  As Marcus said, for the amount of people running, it was a really well organised race.  I was in the third orange wave, and my wave set off about 15 minutes in to the race.  I made the classic mistake of setting off a bit too quickly and approached the run a little more like a 10k than a half marathon… what was I thinking?!  My second mile came in at 8.04 and I was aiming for an average pace of 8.30-8.40 so that was a silly pace, and definitely one I couldn’t maintain for 13 miles! Shortly before we went through the Limehouse link tunnel (about a mile in), Mo and Callum passed on the other side (they were at mile 5), I gave Callum a shout of encouragement but I don’t think he heard as it didn’t have the desired effect.  By mile 7 I was beginning to struggle with the pace and gradually started to slow.  I was a bit annoyed with myself for not being more sensible at the start, but tried not to give up, and although the next 5 miles were a fair bit slower than planned, I did manage to pick it up again for the last couple of miles, although was still a little off my goal pace.  My two slowest miles were 9.04 and 9.07, but with the way I was feeling at mile 7, I thought it was going to be a lot worse!  I’m a bit disappointed with my time (1:55.51, average pace 8:44) but am glad I didn’t admit defeat and give up half way through!  It’s a 3 minute PB, but I was hoping for a bigger improvement as my previous PB was set a year ago!  As I said, I’m running Brentwood in two weeks’ time and am hoping I can improve on my pacing… if nothing else!
Anna Crawley
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6-03-18
Cambridge HM
Ran this yesterday for the third year on the bounce. It’s a really good race; flat, well organised and not too many participants.  And after a week of weather chaos, it was actually good running conditions. Cool, dry and only a slight breeze. Over the last 12 months, my HMs have all been in the low 80’s and I feel like sub-80 is not too far away. So thought I’d have a crack at a sub-80. It was going well initially. Crossed halfway in just over 40 mins, perfect set up for a negative split. I felt good and the pace stayed consistent (low 6’s) until mile 9 when my left calf started twinging, threatening to go into cramp. I knew if I maintained the pace it would completely go, so I backed off for a couple of miles (which turned out to be 6.15’s) with the intention of gunning it for the last 3 miles. That didn’t happen and I was flagging – both calves threatening to cramp by miles 10-11. The last 3 miles averaged just under 6.30’s and I crossed the line in 81:57. I’m content with that time. Its 90 secs of a PB but my second fastest HM. However, the sub-80 eludes me! Great to see Alex Hardy on the course. Look forward to reading his report.
David Wilkinson
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6-03-18
I ran this event for the first time and I completely agree with Dave a great race, really well organised and a nice flat route.  It really does take in a lot of the City centre which makes for a nice start and finish to the race. I am also targeting a sub 80 minute half but seem to be stuck on 82 minutes at the moment so I went out at sub 80 min pace but unlike Dave my pacing wasn’t great.  I went through halfway in 38 mins and then proceeded to fade.  Dave then overtook me at 9 miles and I couldn’t respond to run with him. So I continued to slow to the finish and managed another 82.30 which in hindsight wasn’t too bad especially as I was predicting that time before the race. Back to the drawing board and more miles needed.
Alex Hardy
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23-02-18
Tunbridge Wells half marathon
I have 3 half marathons in the lead up to London this year (more than usual, but I couldn’t resist entering the new London ‘Big Half’) and am in a slight quandary as to how to race them. My intention had been to run the first two as training runs with a pace between my tempo and marathon pace, and then do the last one (Paddock Wood, my PB course) flat out, to see where I am in terms of gauging what I might achieve at London. However this year, PW is only 2 weeks out from London, so I am not sure of the benefits of going hard that close. Thoughts welcome.

Anyway, a lingering cold and a poor couple of weeks training meant that yesterday my mind was made up for me to run this race as per my original strategy of going at tempo/marathon pace. This is a great half, one of my favourite. Very picturesque course, superbly well organised and great support out on the twisty, hilly route.  It is particularly notorious for a tough long hill section just after halfway, as well as some shorter uphill (and downhill) sections. My aim was to run something between 7:15/7:30 pace, which I managed comfortably, spending a fair part of the hill sections chatting with a club colleague. That made for a straightforward run, albeit with a fairly un-aweinspiring time of just of 1:36, which is 6 minutes off my course best and 10 minutes off my PB, but I was quite happy with that and feel good today, in advance of a harder week of training this week (cold permitting) culminating in the Nationals on Saturday (what was I thinking??!!). Hope to see some of you there.
Marcus Elwes
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9-02-18
Today I took part on another Runthrough race, this time a 10k in the Olympic Park.  Being unable to recall what my 10k PB was, but knowing it started with a 48, I planned to run each of the 4 laps as close to 12 minutes as possible and then see what happened. There was a 5k race on the same course at the same time, which meant I had to dodge through a bit of traffic for the first km, but soon settled down into what felt like a fairly comfortable pace.  To keep my momentum going, I set about picking off anyone I could ahead of me and went through the first lap pretty much on the 12 minute mark.  Now knowing what the course in front of me was like, I could plan where to push on and when I completed the third lap in just over 35 minutes, that gave me the confidence to up the pace a bit, to see how long I could last. The 8th km was pretty tough but I did my best to hang onto anyone ahead of me. A final push for the line saw me home on 46.59, a new PB by over a minute.  Happy with that!
Alex Anderson
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9-02-18
Great Bentley Half
Due to Pete being unable to run due to injury I took his place in the Great Bentley Half. John Crawley was also running and we spoke at the start about starting at around 6.20s to get under 1.23.  once the race got under way started off a little quicker. By an about 5th mile caught up with a friend from Bishops Stortford who has been struggling with injury so kept with him till about 8 miles then he decided to take off and leave me. Last couple of miles seemed to be more into the wind which slowed me down a bit about 6.30 pace which made me finish up on  1.22.18 which was a 14 seconds off my pb, but a pb for Pete!
Sid
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9-02-18
Cracking run by Sid and shows the good form he is in at the moment.  As he mentioned we planned to do 6.20’s together.  We ran together for about 5 minutes before he started to up the ante and I kept on at 6.20’s and let him gradually pull away but kept him in sight for a decent amount of time.  The first four miles I was ticking over nicely, 5th mile was into the wind and dropped to mid-6.30’s and then next couple of miles were around 6.30.  Course is nice and flat with only a couple of minor undulation but my legs began to tire and I was feeling any small inclines more and more and struggling to keep the pace which dropped off a bit.  Miles 8-11 I averaged around 6.50 and then miles 12-13 were straight into the wind which I found tough and dropped to 7.06 and 7.17 per mile when I hoped to give it a final burst to the finish.  The final 0.1 of a mile is on grass and when you are trying to hammer it home with everything you have left it felt like you could have gone a lot faster on a hard surface. I finished in 1.27.30 which was a PB by 4.02 so was pleased with that and I averaged 6.41 pace overall.  This race has been my main target that I have been building up to for a while and when I initially signed up wanted to go under 1.30 but adjusted my goal progressively downward over the last few months as felt that my speed has come on a decent amount on the Tuesdays and have been getting stronger at the Thursday tempo’s where I can now make it all the way round whereas previously I was getting dropped part way in. I think 6.20 was absolute best case scenario if the race went perfectly and my legs could handle it; had decided beforehand to put it on the line and give it a crack to see what happened.  Couldn’t manage it but glad to give it a go and chuffed to break the 1.30 mark after three prior attempts last year. I have the Brentwood Half Marathon towards the end of March so will carry on the tempo runs and long runs with the hope that I can maintain a steady pace all the way round rather than fading a bit towards the end.  Great Bentley is a very good course – lovely and flat and scenic as it is all along country lanes.  I had been warned by various folk that the course is exposed and tends to be pretty windy and it did not fail to deliver! Also some wonderfully priced cracking treats afterwards – a big bacon butty for £1.50 and a massive slice of fruit cake for 50p for me.  There was a table I would guess 5 metres in length completely loaded with cakes!  I definitely plan on returning and not just for the running.
John Crawley
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9-02-18
On the Comeback Trail - Cancer Research Winter Run 2018
I did my first race in a long time yesterday but first, there was a more important comeback – Madz ran her first 5km without stopping on Saturday. The last time she did that was in 2016 prior to cancer/chemo etc. she was really pleased and already talking about it being a “slow time”! She is very inspiring to me and will be setting PB’s in 2019 I’m sure - her run on Saturday is way better than mine on Sunday (although I was very pleased with my run too…………. Last year I did 5 races of any kind (1 triathlon, 3 x parkrun, 1 x 5km) and the parkrun I did on 2nd December last year was the slowest 5km I’d run since 2014 – however I’ve been feeling pretty good in training recently so I went into the Winter Run yesterday fairly confident I could do 37 or 38 mins but having no real idea how I’d actually do! It was bloody freezing and I got a bit tearful at the start (being asked to put your hand up if someone you know has been affected by cancer hit home!) but used this later in the race to drive myself on. My coach wanted me to set off in a controlled manner so that I could wind it up later on. It seems as though I got my pacing spot on. The race itself wasn’t that eventful as there weren’t loads of people around me (although 16000 took part!). Up the front it was mostly club runners before the masses behind (by the way it was easy to get to the front, easier than Assembly League anyway!). I looked at my watch at 5km and saw 18:23 so I felt like I really needed to work hard for the last 5km as felt quite tired. Looking back the first 5km felt like it had most of the “climbing” and 2nd 5km felt more downhill. Started to push a bit and by the finish I was hurting quite a lot but the emotions of the day gave me plenty of motivation! Chip time was 36:49 which I am very, very happy with – bodes well for the rest of the year and isn’t actually too far off a PB! 45th position overall, 7th in my age group and a nice medal – happy days!
1.00km  0:03:41 160bpm               190spm
1.00km  0:03:43 175bpm               188spm
1.00km  0:03:46 181bpm               188spm
1.00km  0:03:39 181bpm               188spm
1.00km  0:03:49 180bpm               176spm
1.00km  0:03:54 183bpm               188spm
1.00km  0:03:45 183bpm               188spm
1.00km  0:03:35 183bpm               186spm
1.00km  0:03:36 182bpm               182spm
1.00km  0:03:21 183bpm               188spm
0.03km  0:00:05 190bpm               206spm
George Wakefield
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9-02-18
I took part in a Race Organiser 10km at the Olympic Park on Saturday morning (https://www.theraceorganiser.com/). Having taken 6 weeks off running prior to Christmas, I’ve been trying to re-focus on my training in January and this was my first race of the year. Annoyingly I forgot to bring my watch so I was a bit anxious about keeping a decent pace … and once I got going, this was actually the biggest test of all, as I honestly had no idea what sort of pace I was running at and I felt quite slow. I tried to keep focused and push myself, keeping close to runners ahead of me. It’s a three lap course: splits below:
·        Lap 1: 14:37
·        Lap 2: 14:56
·        Lap 3: 14:56
I struggled a bit through 6km but tried to hang onto an Exmouth Harriers runner ahead of me and focus on getting to the 8km marker. As we finished the second lap the marshals said we were under 45mins pace, so that gave me a bit of a boost. From 8km I tried to put reps training to good use with a strong last km! I finished 4th female and 1st for age category in 44:29 which is a PB by exactly a minute, so I was happy with that - and I think I probably pushed myself more because I couldn’t rely on my watch!
Rebecca Cawston
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9-02-18
Saturday morning, I ran a relatively new local parkrun and experienced the novel (for me) sensation of being first over the line. Putting this in context, there were only 48 runners and I picked a day when clearly all the local speedsters were elsewhere, but nonetheless it was quite a weird sensation. There was only one other runner I felt could beat me, so I went out hard and built up a solid lead which I never relinquished, even in spite of taking a wrong turn and having to retrace my steps, which added about another 50 meters to the course! Sunday was our final league cross country race of the season down on Rough Common near Canterbury, where conditions were bleak. We had sleet, hail, snow and rain, with the odd sunny spell, all being blown through by a bitter cold wind. I don't think I warmed up at any point during the day. It was my usual XC type race. Absolutely nothing to write home about, neither my best nor worst. However, having made a colossal Hernonesque moan on our club FB site about the turnout at the previous race, we got enough people out to sneak up to 2nd place in the combined league (the men third in their league, our ladies first), which I am personally taking credit for 😊😊. Now to can concentrate on marathon training in earnest.
Marcus Elwes
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2-02-18
South of England Cross Country Champs
Mud you can barely run through, hills you can barely run up, descents likely to make you fall over, 15k in the pouring rain and chilly wind. LOVED IT. This was my 3rd time running at Stanmer park since 2003 and probably the most enjoyable. Although had you asked me 10k in I’d have given a different answer. The sight of people dropping out even on the first lap is a reminder you are in a tough race. We definitely got the worst of the weather with the rain starting during the women’s race before ours meaning the ground was sodden and torn up by our race. For those that don’t know Stanmer Park it basically equates to two fairly steep climbs with some longer and fast decents with any bit that could be described as flat being soft and energy sapping.

Three years ago I struggled round here feeling pretty unfit finishing in 470th in 67:33. I was conscious of at least surviving so managed to not go off to fast be my usual standards although the site of Rob Laing for the whole first lap maybe meant I was going a bit quick. Settled in fairly well and just aimed to tough it out. James MacDonald came by me half way through the second lap. Couldn’t keep with him but did keep him in sight. After the final climb I could still see him so decided to leave everything on the course and run down the hill as fast as I could but ran out of track and crossed the line just behind him by 4 secs. Finished in 168th in 60:31. Overall fairly happy although my desire not to blow up made me wonder if I could have pushed it a bit more during the race.
Chris  Tuck
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2-02-18
I can verify it was treacherous conditions and incredibly poorly organised;
-          Course was torn up by the time the mens race was run, and had some sharp turns after a downhill, which duly cleaned me out twice
-          No tannoy system as the organisers didn’t think about the need for a power supply – the company turned up and left after realizing there was no electric supply.
-          Caterers were booked for the Sunday so only got there half way through the day.
-          No distance markers
-          Organised on a day of Southern strikes so no trains to Falmer
-          M23 from Brighton was closed for planned re-tarmacking

Considering it’s one of their peak events which has a reach far and wide – Norwich runners were the furthest afield, it’s pretty shoddy. The only positive was that Brighton weren’t playing at home (something they didn’t factor in before announcing the event). So I guess it could have been worse.
Graham Hollingdale
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2-02-18
Lee Valley 10 miles
On Saturday, I headed over to the Lee Valley Velopark for another Runthrough race. I had originally planned to do the 10k but then discovered that you could also do a 10 mile race, so thought I would challenge myself over a longer distance. Having done no training for anything over 10k, my expectations were very low. The course is also not fast, given there are 4 short but steep inclines on each mile lap.  I seem to recall that another Raven ran this course last year and hated the constantly repeated laps.  I actually quite enjoyed it, as at least I knew what was coming and when to push on. Given my lack of training, I planned to take the first lap gently and then see whether I could push on, with a view to finishing inside 1.25.  However, the adrenaline of racing got to me and I completed the first lap in 7.47 and decided I might as well keep pushing and see what happened.  Because there were 5 races going on simultaneously, albeit  with staggered starts, I had no idea who I was racing and just set about overtaking as many people as I could, to keep my motivation going. Miles 8 and 9 were tough, and I slowed to 8.01 and 8.02 respectively, but I managed to pick up the pace for the 10th lap (greeting each hill like an old friend by now) and came home in 1.18.36, 33rd out of 141 runners.  To say I was pleasantly surprised is something of an understatement, as I have been unable to maintain consistent 8m/m over distance since I inured my hamstring last year. Plus the beauty of running a distance you have never run before is that you are guaranteed a PB!
Alex Anderson
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2-02-18
KFL XC Nurstead Woods, Meopham
I have been persuaded by someone who will remain nameless to do a proper race report! As I explained to that person, I don’t tend to do them for XC because each course differs in length and terrain, and few Ravens will have ever run them, so it is hard to convey anything much of worth in a report (I ran, it was muddy, I fell/didn’t fall, I finished somewhere in the middle…), but here goes nonetheless! This was the penultimate race in our XC league and was the one course I had not previously run. The course is just under 5 miles with two laps with some interesting aspects. The first half of the lap is a actually a horse riding obstacle course, hence the water jump and a tiny (maybe 12 inches high) hay bale we had to jump over! The terrain for this is sapping heavy grass, undulating. Then the course goes into woodland which has, what I am reliably told are, several bomb craters that you have to go into (and climb out of), plus a couple of fields of ploughed earth/mud, which were very tough going. Choice of shoes was again key and this time I got it wrong, wearing my mud-claws instead of spikes. The ‘mud claws’ were in fact ‘mud-gatherers’, the only consolation being that probably 90% of the field made the same mistake. As also mentioned, going through the water jump was actually a relief in the circumstances, as it temporarily cleared the mud from the shoes. The finish is at the top of a gruelling climb and includes a muddy stretch of around 100m (flat) after the climb, to the line. Watching the finishers come in behind, it was noticeable how few were able to sprint the last bit. They were all shot to pieces! I finished 93rd which is my highest placing of the season. Our club are 3rd in the league with one fixture to go next week. Somewhat depressingly, even though our club now numbers over 500 members, we could only muster a team of 29. I have my own views as to why this is, but it is a depressing fact nonetheless. We could win the league easily if we took it seriously as a club.
Marcus Elwes
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25-01-18
A short (well, by my standards) report on a short race yesterday.  Having tweaked my hamstring last Saturday, and given the filthy weather, I opted for the 5k race in Greenwich Park.  My key objective was to beat someone who had beaten me on the same course in December.  I spotted her to the beginning and sat on her shoulder for the first 2k, after which I realised she was there for the taking and I took off, passing a number of runners and getting into 3rd placed female. All was going swimmingly until 4k, when one of my shoe laces came undone (God knows how, as always do double bows).  I decided that it would be preferable to stop and retie it than the trip, fall and injure myself (again) but whilst my frozen fingers were making poor progress on retying, 5 runners passed me, including another women.  I ran out of time/distance to take her back so once again finished 4th female in 23.49. This was my fastest time since February last year, when I set my 5k PB, so I was pleased with the time, but could have done better if I hadn't had to stop. It was also 1 minute and 7 seconds faster than my time in December, and 33 second faster than the woman I set out beat, so job done there! I fear that much of the improvement is down to the fact I have been doing "sugar-free January", which whilst being very dull really does seem to help with running.  Not sure I love running enough to forgo the odd pint of cider and packet of salt and vinegar crisps when we get to February though!
Alex Anderson
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25-01-18
Victoria Park 10k
I lined up for my first race of the year at the Victoria Park 10k, pretty low key event and not a very strong field. I have a couple of 10k's, a half and a 20 miler booked in as the run up to London. Having not done much running over the past 6 months I'd been able to have 3 half decent weeks relatively speaking so lined up eager to see how well I could do. It was cold and pretty heavy rain towards the end but felt at home in the park after doing the assembly league here a couple of times. Given the circumstances I was happy to finish just the wrong side of 40 minutes and only 20 seconds or so outside my PB. I'd like to have a proper crack at a decent 10k post London. To give you an idea of the strength in depth I was 13th in that time, probably one of my highest finishes in a 10k!
Iain Davie
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25-01-18
Yesterday I ran Farnborough half marathon. Previously a pb course for me, however a lack of training over Xmas and the early start meant my target was to just get round. The snow started just before the race and at the first mile marker I was still wearing the bin bag I’d bought to stay warm at the start (and  resolving to start buying more expensive bin bags!) After mile 3 the race headed on to a dual carriageway which was only half shut off and it was congested enough that I could concentrate on not tripping up rather than how cold it was. Mile 4 headed into a wooded area and I briefly considered a wild wee but decided to hang on and not risk the frost bite. By this stage I’d  caught up with the sub 2 pacer and since I wasn’t keen on his particular brand of motivational phrases I decided to push on past him. At mile 6 the course loops back past the start and the most exposed part of the course, with the snow hitting me full on in the face I briefly considered calling it a day but decided to push on and found myself back on the dual carriageway. As it was slightly less congested this time I was able to pass a few people which one guy seemed to take personally as he came storming back past me. I always particularly hate miles 8 to 9 of a half so I thought I’d try to keep moving and zone out, I realised I’d taken it too far when I found myself trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue. But there was mile 9, the drink station and my friend from the dual carriageway, I pushed on past him just for fun and sure enough he picked up his pace and came back past me again. At mile 12 and a half there was a short sharp hill and I was strong enough to take a few people on the way up from there on in I picked people off slowly but surely and with a little sprint at the end I finished with a chip time of 1.54.25. Not a pb but pretty pleased in the circumstances.
Donna Henry
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25-01-18
Well run Donna. I also did the Farnborough half marathon yesterday making the 200 mile round trip from North Essex – that was much more appealing than contemplating doing Benfleet 15 again! I started in the pack to make sure I didn’t set off too quickly and by mile 3 had settled into my stride and caught up with the 1.30 pacer group. As I wanted to use this race as a warm up for the Great Bentley Half in 2 weeks, I decided to stick with the 1.30 group. This definitely helped combat the deteriorating conditions as I was able to tuck in and get some protection from the elements. I was feeling comfortable and itching to move ahead but stayed discipline and waited until mile 12 when the hill was out the way. The last mile was 6.15 and I came home in 1.28.47 and was very pleased with how comfortable it was. It was a really well organised event and was very happy to get a woolly hat at the end instead of a t-shirt!
David Campbell
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25-01-18
Benfleet 15
I raced the Benfleet 15 at the weekend for the second time after failing to break 2 hours in 2016 but couldn’t decide whether to race it or just jog it as I was supposed to do an easy 18 miles and my quality long run is schedule for next week.  I thought about running easy then going race pace for the flat section but I couldn’t make up my mind so I decided that I would just run it and see how I feel.  I started near the front and had a quick chat with Sid making my excuses for the long sleeve base layer, having already been told by Robin that base layers weren’t allowed! The race started and I sprinted down the hill and found myself reasonably well placed but as soon as we got to the flat I eased off as I felt I might have done some damage to my knee on the downhill and we were only about a mile in!  Sid The came past me and told me to keep with him but I wanted to ease off a bit so let him go.  Once we’d got past Leigh station and rounded the corner it flattened out so I thought if I had anything I’d push it here but at this point I had lingering pain from my sciatic nerve down to my hamstring so I just decided I would run as fast as I could without it getting too uncomfortable and settled into a steady pace.  Got to Benfleet/Canvey and heading up the seawall around mile 10-11 I felt quite good so took off and overtook a bunch of people.  I then saw Sid looking strong coming back the other way and shouting some encouragement which helped but when I turned to come back on myself I was tired so eased off a bit and I tried to offer encouragement to any fellow club member I saw coming back the other way. As we got into Benfleet and started climbing the hill by the station it started to get really cold and I was glad I had my base layer on!  It then started to snow as I ran miles 12-14 which was up somewhat undulating and but I managed to pretty much keep an even pace right up until the last climb over the last mile.  This was tough and got steeper the further you climbed.  I managed to over take a couple of people, possibly because I hadn’t run the previous 14 miles too hard, and then crested the final hill and overtook another, before crossing the finish line in 1:51 flat and 55th overall which was an improvement of about 10 minutes on my 2016 time. Really feeling it this morning in my hamstrings but hoping a nice easy run at lunch will sort me out!
Scott Darney
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25-01-18
Yesterday I took part in the Benfleet 15 race, saw Robin at the start of the race who said it he was treating as a training run which I translated to if you go past me I will elbow you into the nearest puddle / mud. For those that don’t know it starts at Hadleigh Country Park, where the mountain biking was at the Olympics. I had decided to aim for about 7 min miles and see how it went. It had been raining quite a bit the day before so there was a fair bit of mud about. Just after a mile I took a tumble down hill and cut my knee although didn’t realise this till later. Scott was up in front of me and at  about 3 miles caught him up, had a quick chat and he felt had gone off too fast so was just settling down into a more comfortable pace. Kept with my plan of around 7 min miles majority of the way round but the last couple of miles were 7.16, 7.15 and 9.05 (last mile was mostly up hill!) It was good to see other Ravens Scott, Robin, Gary and Phil on the switchback although they were all running for their respective clubs. Cheers to Vicky and Ian George for their support on 2 of the big hills which certainly helped get me up. The Marshals were great although kept encouraging me as a Harwich runner! Corrected a couple of them when I had the energy to do so. Ended up in 43 rd place with a time of 1.48.24 with an average pace 3 of 7.11 which was happy with as was about 5 minutes quicker than the last time I did it.
Sid
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25-01-18
Not much to add to Sid’s report – a hard run in awful conditions, but a good training run.  The decision to wear shorts and vest (no long sleeve top – shame on you, Scott) was OK until the end. I was shaking quite a lot, and Vicky tried to make me drink something hot. I was fine. Got to the race HQ and succumbed to a coffee, which spilled because my hands were shaking so much.  Nicky Low of Benfleet told me I was changing colour and made me drink soup.  I felt much better and drove home to retire to the sofa.  1.53.30.  Really well organised by Benfleet RC. Well done to the marhalls for standing around for so long in the freezing cold, and great to hear Vicky and Ian.  Never again (again).
Robin McCoy
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25-01-18
Yes, really tough run yesterday. The three of us stated before the start that we were going to go for vest and shorts. A decision, which my wife, who was there at the time we made this pact, described as boys being boys! At mile 13, absolutely freezing cold and with the snow coming down I was also questioning whether we had got that decision right. Finally, got round in 2.06. About 5 minutes slower than last year, mainly due I think to the conditions being far more slippery and my trail shoes not holding me upright. I too was shaking after the finish and needed to get home for some warmth. Never underestimate the restorative powers of a cup of tea and a hot bath!  Great to see Vicky afterwards and Gary on the course.
Philip Priest
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25-01-18
Also did the B15 yesterday. Hated it. Finished 1:59:22. Good to see other Ravens on the course. Will do it again next year. Probably!
Gary Pitman



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25-01-18
I ran the Canterbury 10 miler road race yesterday. This is only the third 10 mile race I have ever done, so thought I might be in with an outside chance of a PB. Last year I did it in just under 71 minutes (a then PB of 11 minutes), so targeted sub 70 this time round. My preparation for the race was poor, to say the least, as I did a hard (raced) XC parkrun on Saturday and then spectacularly fell off the dry January wagon that evening, at a mate’s 50th birthday party, which included drinking 61% single malt (oops).

However, on the (miserably cold) morning, I thought I would go for it nonetheless. The course is not flat, but equally no Benfleet. There are two toughish hills at 4/5 miles and 7/8 miles, so my plan was to try and get to the top on the second hill average 7mm pace and then see if I could push on. The race went much to plan but, try as I might, I could not push on for those last 2 miles – the legs simply would not respond to what my brain was urging them to do. That said, in the last mile, I was still averaging 7mm, so pushed on as hard as I could on the last part to just squeeze in 1.09.54! A PB by 50 seconds and first time sub 70. I was placed 146th out of 1,390 finishers, 19th in my age group. I also ran in my vest with no base layer (though did wear gloves) and actually don’t recall it being too bad. My ‘race face’ suggests otherwise. We had a combination of cold rain and slushy snow throughout. There has been a little bit of an improvement in my performances recently, following a shocking niggle ridden 18 months, so really hoping I can push on now in the lead up to London. Fingers crossed.
Marcus Elwes
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18-01-18
Surrey XC Champs Race Report
First one of these - I'm sure I'll manage to put it in the wrong place or something... I raced in the Surrey County XC championships on Saturday for Herne Hill (first claim club). The champs were set at Denbies Vineyard. Given that it had been raining all week and Denbies is pretty much on the NDW I was expecting a veritable mudbath. Thankfully the course was actually relatively dry as the cold weather meant that the ground had been frozen for the earlier races. I'll usually race in a vest in just about any conditions. 5 seconds after stripping down to my vest I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and put my long sleeved top back on with a buff and gloves. With a new pair of Inov8 X-talon 220 trail shoes in club colours, the long sleeve top ruined my colour co-ordination but was definitely the right call. The course is 3 undulating laps totalling approximately 7.5 miles. I lined up at the start line with clubmate V50 and 4-time former winner Dave Taylor who is still running pretty well despite running his 5km PB of 13:44 almost 20 years ago. I went out far too hard up the first hill, trying to keep a couple of my club-mates within elastic band distance and after about a km or so I was struggling. Blowing hard and with people starting to stream past me. Each loop involves climbing until the half-way point (with a few quick drops) before a long descent on a straight to a u-turn where you head back uphill for about 600m before another long hill and then rejoining the finishing straight for the only flat bit of the course. Towards the end of the first lap I started to get my breath back and feel a bit more confident. Tim Bowen from Dulwich who I've dueled a few times came past me and I managed to hold on to him as we started the second lap. Things were looking up. On each descent Tim moved away from me, but on the next hill I was catching back up. Better yet as we came off the halfway point and started the long descent - we were starting to catch the string of runners lined up in front of us. We carried on with this ding-dong battle all around the second lap. The second lap was 15 seconds slower (14:30, 14:45) but I was moving well now and starting to feel a bit stronger. Just one more lap to go... and we were consistently catching athletes. Including Wayne Bell who I knew was in reasonable shape before Xmas. A quick "come on Wayne" and we were off on the third lap. The third lap I was starting to pull away from Tim on the uphills rather than having to play catch-up. We were catching an older Thames runner and a Strider of Croydon runner who looked to be struggling on the hills. As we caught them - I pushed hard to get past and started to feel STRONG. I accelerated into the next dip and drove up the second to last hill. I knew they would all be in hot pursuit on the long drop to the u-turn so I flung myself forward and tried to push. I knew I was breaking away but needed to get a gap. I went around the u-turn (this time around not entangling myself in the tape) and tried to run as hard as I could up the final hill without knackering myself for the run in. The legs were getting heavy at this point but I could see a final Thames runner ahead and focused on him and not the chasing pack. By the time I crested the hill - I, a bit like you dear reader, was tired and just wanted this to be over. I was closing on Thames but he remained stubbornly outside of the elastic band range. Turning onto the finishing avenue, this section was far softer underfoot than the rest of the course. Feeling like I was running on cushions I managed to haul my body across the line for 36th place and having put a good 10-30 seconds on the various chasing athletes. The splits per lap were 14:30 (~50m short), 14:45, 14:45 (~100m longer). Next up is the Surrey League this Saturday and the 15km monster of a Southern at Brighton at the end of the month. Surrey County Champs - 36th place, 44:00
Bryn Reynolds
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18-01-18
Tokyo 5K
Ran the usual Tokyo 5K on my business trip. No Jensen Button again. During my warm up I realised my calves were really tight and I had obviously not recovered from a stair reps and steep hill reps session on Wednesday evening.  Racing at the equivalent of half past Midnight did not help. The course is hilly and was quite windy. 2 young guys zoomed off. They finished in 15.45 and 16.45. I could not catch the guy in 3rd (he is a sub 2.40 marathon runner). I was 4th in a disappointingly slow 18.42 but was protecting my tight calves.
Simon LeMare
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18-01-18
53-12 Cross Country League – Ipswich
I ran my first race of the year and first XC since November in the 53-12 League this week held at Ipswich and hosted by the Jaffa’s.  The league isn’t the highest standard in Essex but it’s ideal for the smaller clubs like Witham RC. I planned to run the start conservatively as I generally go off fast and try and hang on only to be overtaken mid-way through the race by a few runners.  So naturally I sprinted off up the hill but as we turned the corner I eased off and settled into a steady pace.  Quite a few people then overtook me through this first mile but I stuck to the plan and I don’t think any-one else overtook me after this point who I didn’t then catch again.  I felt pretty good at this point so I starting making a few surges to overtake people and after about 3 miles I found myself in a position where I was quite a distance behind the person in front but there was a pack chasing behind so I stepped it up a bit and succesfully increased the gap behind me and was comfortable with about mile to go that I would at least not lose any places. I then pushed a little to see if I could bring the guy in front a bit closer, at times it felt like it was working so I tried to keep up the pace but it was difficult to tell, however as we ran through the last field I saw that the guy I was chasing had overtaken someone else so this guy then became my target as I assumed he was flagging.  You could see the finish about ¼ of a mile away at this point and I caught a glimpse of one of my teammates take someone on the line with a sprint finish, my target was getting closer but I was running out of time so as we turned the corner for the last 100m I put on a full sprint to see what the guy had… he looked behind him at me but must have had nothing left in the tank because he didn’t speed up but I wasn’t taking any chances and held my sprint right to the finish line to finish in 30th position out of 193.  I was pleased to have run the race as planned and to run pretty consistant splits and a fastest final mile, with average of 6:14 for an XC course.
Scott Darney
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18-01-18
XC - Writtle (Chelmsford)
This race was a pretty decent learning experience for me and one that should prove valuable.  I had decided to go out fairly quickly but got carried away and ended up going out faster than was sustainable and had to ease off at around a half mile to three quarters of a mile in.  Lee and then Mick came past me so I had obviously gone out too quickly if I was in front of them! I had made the wrong choice of footwear, going for trail shoes rather than spikes.  The course was quick in places where it was firm but in others was a little slippery.  There was a particularly tough section where it was very muddy and was I would guess about a quarter to a third of a mile out and the same back again.  I was slipping around on it a decent amount on the first lap, but on the second lap with tiring legs and the soles of my shoes pretty much clogged up I was all over the place.  I took a tumble on here and carried on running this muddy section as fast as I could but had a few people in spikes pass me at about double the snail speed I was running!  Even the slightly slippery mud was proving problematic on the second lap where spikes I think would have made a difference; at one point I slipped and grabbed a wire fence to stay up which turned out to be barbed wire and I was lucky to get away with a few small cuts.  Once we got back onto the firmer ground I managed to pick up the pace but could tell that my legs were tiring.  About 300 yards from the finish there was someone catching me, I managed to pick up the pace a decent amount but didn’t go to full speed as wanted to save a little for the last 100 yards to try and pull away; had a bit of a gap coming into the finish and managed to open it up with a sprint at the end. Lessons learned – a) choice of footwear – if someone says that trail shoes should be okay and caution you that there is a small section of concrete, if you think it may be muddy still go for spikes – a course recce would have been a good idea to get a sense of what I would be facing, b) going out a bit quick is okay but going out unsustainably hard is not okay! I finished 73/207 in 34.01.  Think I could have finished a few places higher if I had worn the right footwear and paced the first mile more sensibly. Some impressive performances from other Ravens who I will let report separately.
John Crawley
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18-01-18
I ran a very similar race to John, except that I started slowly and then slowed down.  The muddy bits were shocking.  Good job I bought some 15mm spikes.  Bad job I left them in the office.  I lost about 5 places each time we went into the morass, to finish 82 in 34.45. Still being positive I beat at least one fellow geriatric who beat me in the Essex Champs last week. Reports awaited from Mick, Lee, Alex Hardy and Dave Butler.
Robin McCoy
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18-01-18
Had a great race for a change! We had been warned by the “starter” that there was a tight 180 degree turn 300 metres into the race and that we should tuck elbows in (read that as  get a fast start to avoid the crush). It worked out a treat and I ended up relaxing behind Scott Rice for a mile or so before a fellow Springfield Vet came past and got me revved up again. Then after a couple of miles, the Essex Vet Road Racing champ (Andy Lowe) came past me. I had done my research on him and figured that he shouldn’t be finishing too far ahead of me (which he has all year). I tracked him for the next 2 miles where he seemed only a bit more comfortable in the mud. He started overtaking again and I nearly let him go, but dug deep to track him towards the last 400 metres. With 200 to go, I gave it one last roll of the dice and it paid off with him finishing a comfortable 2 seconds behind. Best placing in ages of 33rd! I was still buried down in the Vets in 7th I think. Over to Alex, Mick and Dave Butler….
Lee Martin
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18-01-18
I also made the same mistake as John by wearing off road shoes, which slowed me down in the very muddy section of the course. Did have some new shiny spikes with me (one bright yellow and one blue shoe) but didn't want to get them muddy! Good weather on the day for racing. Course was very flat but the mud slightly worse in places than at the County race the Saturday before but easier overall as it was 4K/1 lap shorter so only 2 x through the mud not 3! I started slowly as usual and tried to work my way up the order though the muddy section seemed to open up bigger gaps in the field than usual. Kept plugging away to finish in 104th place in stone of 36:06. Felt I had a good run overall in my quest to get back to a reasonably competitive level.
Over to Mick....
Dave Butler
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18-01-18
Like Dave I also have a newish pair of spikes, one bright yellow and one blue shoe, unlike Dave I wore my spikes !! The spikes were a problem when crossing the tarmac path and for the stretch of running along the same path but I managed to run on the grass alongside the path and have therefore only twisted a couple of my spikes. The main advantage of the spikes came when we hit the muddy stretch where I was able to keep going at the same speed and overtake a number of runners that were slipping and sliding all over the place. The best approach when hitting muddy stretches in cross country races is to keep the forward momentum going, ie carry one running fast, the spikes help with this as you are up on your toes more, once you start slowing down you start to get bogged down in the mud and can easily grind to a halt. I enjoy courses with short (up to a mile) stretches of mud as you can keep the speed going, course where it is mud the whole way are much tougher as eventually you slow down and it becomes a slog. Anyway as far as the race was concerned I thought Lee and I had started at the correct pace, we avoided the crush at the first couple of corners, but then I saw John in front of us !! We eventually caught him within the first mile as he started to tire a bit. I managed to finish in 44th place, beating a number of my rivals, overall a very pleasing race and I had no problem with the groin muscle pain that kept me from running the Essex Champs the week before
Mick Butler
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18-01-18
Sorry for the late report but I was off yesterday with food poisoning… I think it was a dodgy mussel!! I ran my first Essex XC race for Orion since my injury back in August.  I have raced a couple of local XC races and a 10 miler so I was starting to feel back to my pre-injury pace. I ran in my new pair of Brooks spikes which are multi coloured with one being bright yellow and the other blue… I thought Phil would have had a few choice remarks about my footwear as he was always impressed with multi-coloured football boots (sounds like Mick had the same spikes on)!!  They were excellent and I really felt like I maintained some grip throughout most of the race.  I also managed to run on grass by the side of the road so didn’t feel at a disadvantage in spikes. XC seems to suit me as I go off hard and then just hold on for as long as possible!!  I felt strong at the start and maintained a good pace throughout finishing in 18th place in 30.33. Orion were pushing for the chance to win the league but we lost out to Havering who had three runners in the top ten so I think our chance has now gone. Not sure I can make it out the rest of the week and I probably shouldn’t run today…
Alex Hardy
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18-01-18
York Brass Monkey – HM
I ran this yesterday. Having lost fitness over December (colds, work, family life… usual excuses) and then upping mileage for the last 2 weeks having started marathon training, I decided to treat this as a 10 mile race and run the first 3 miles steady. Being in York, it was a very flat course and yesterday was the perfect weather for long distance running; cool and dry, albeit a little windy. So off I set at a disciplined pace of c.6:30’s – not getting dragged into the frantic start, which resembled something more like a 5k! Hit mile 3 in 19:50. Felt pretty good, so off I went picking off runners one by one, which does wonders for motivation (nothing worse than being constantly overtaken!). I was hoping to do the 10 miles as close to one hour as possible. At halfway the clock was showing 42:15, which meant I wasn’t as close to 6’s as I would have liked to have been, so moved it up a gear. There was a headwind as we turned at halfway and made our way back into York. Interestingly, looking up ahead of the field, I could see pelotons of 5-15 people forming all along the course. It looked more like a bike race. Last March, I remembered being completely outwitted in a HM at Windsor, when I took the wind for most of the course whilst the pack I ran with huddled behind me and I couldn’t shift them. Not to be outwitted this time, I found the snug position in a peloton for a couple of minutes or so, before leaving it and pushing on to join the next one. Worked my way up the field using this tactic for most of the second half and crossed the line in 1:22:16. Pleased with my time. A couple of mins off my PB, but my second fastest HM time and a negative split of 2 mins. Did the 10 miles in about 62 mins (when you factor in the 0.1 of a mile). Next HM in March, where I would like to break 80 mins.
David Wilkinson
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18-01-18
Surrey League XC (Farthing Downs)
Having just about recovered from the efforts of writing the last race report, I had the third Surrey League XC this weekend. It's always a tough race at the Surrey League with a fast start and high quality field. It's a two lap, figure of 8 course. You start on a grassy field running on a camber and climb for a good few minutes before starting the first loop. I knew I'd gone off at about the right pace as felt good and comfortable and was in a decent position. I spotted Ben Reynolds (Stock Exchange / Thames ) and used him as my marker as he very rarely has a bad race. We then dropped sharply over a stony path which made me glad I was in trail shoes and not spikes. I lost a couple of places along here as I was slipping and sliding, I went over on my ankles a few times. After the stony path we pegged it through the valley before a sharp and steep climb back to the cross-over point before a long descent back to the finish. About this point I realised I was feeling good and pushed past Ben and started focusing on the runners ahead. Going up the climb I was moving well and took a couple more places before they flashed past me on the stony path again as I tiptoed my way down. I didn't lose ground on the final hill but didn't gain any either. As we entered the final stretch I pushed well and got past a couple more runners before two overtook me with about 400m to go. I started getting ready to try and kick past them at the finish but as we finished on a bend I struggled to get into the right position to kick past.
Overall I finished in 43rd position and third home for me team, average pace of 3:30 / km which for a hilly XC race is pretty good for me. Two weeks of 90+ miles in the bank for the year, two more now until Brighton and the 15km Southern champs.
Bryn Reynolds
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18-01-18
Minnis Bay XC
Also out in the mud yesterday on the North Kent coast, although this is the second year I have done this race, so was able to successfully negotiate the 5 water filled dykes without too much damage, unlike some people!
Marcus Elwes
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12-01-18
Kent XC champs.
So like a lot of the counties, this weekend was the Kent County XC champs. This race is held in a field by Brands Hatch race circuit and whilst is fairly boring with not much to look at is still fairly tough and makes for good racing. All I remembered from last year that this race was a struggle post Christmas. I didn’t set a lot of expectation just for some improvement. I set off by my own standards fairly conservatively as the first small flat lap all goes a bit hectic (1st Mile 5.26). Then after we had dropped down the hill and started to climb back up I noticed I was picking people off. (All that hill training wasn’t for nothing). Then just tried to settle in and get to the last lap of about 2 miles and then try to empty the tank. James Macdonald came past me half way round the second lap and despite his shout of ‘come on the Ravens’ then proceeded to pull away from me. Putting that down to his 70 mile weeks vs my 50’s. Managed to keep going and get past a few more with only one other runner getting by me on the last lap. Finished 34th in 43.25 over the 7.5 miles. That is 38 places and 3 min 11 secs quicker than last year. Can’t complain.
Chris Tuck
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12-01-18
Herrington XC
This took place not far from me on Saturday (a fixture of the North East Harriers League). Given how much I enjoyed my first XC outing at Richmond Park the other month, thought I’d give it a go. Still haven’t got round to joining a club up North yet, so entered on the day as a guest. It’s been fairly damp up here lately, so I was expecting muddy conditions, but by the time I arrived for the 2.15pm senior men’s race, a full day of racing had turned the course into a complete mudfest. I set off with the slow pack, at a fairly conservative pace. The course headed out for a half mile into the park and then it was 3 laps before the half mile back. It was pretty tough going throughout. Even in dry conditions, it would be a difficult course – very up and down. The mud was relentless and there was barely a blade of grass left on any part of the designated route. Every stride was about pulling your feet (and sometimes ankles and shins) out of the mud. Gaining momentum was impossible, even when running down slope – any momentum sent you downwards into the mud, not forwards. Anyway, after letting 50+ past me at the start, I started overtaking people half way round lap one. I carried on overtaking others and avoided being overtaken until a few from the fast pack got me towards the end of the final lap, to finish 19/484. The course was just short of 6 miles according to my watch. I had a cracking time. Loved every minute of it and can’t wait to do the next one.
David Wilkinson
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5-01-18
Gloucester 10mile
This morning I took part in the Gloucester 10 mile race as I am up visiting my mum and her and my brother we’re both taking part. This race starts on an industrial estate before heading out in to the country lanes for 2 laps then back. I went out a bit quick going through the first mile in 5.13 but with the strong wind decided watching mile splits was a waste of time. Got my head down and pushed on. Got past a chap in front of me for 5th position but then coming down a hill at about 7 miles he got back by me. With all the eating and drinking and lack of running I didn’t have much to react so thought I’d just keep him in site and hope for a second wind. Although this came after mile 8 it was never enough to catch him. So finished 6th in 57.22. Which given the conditions and celebrations I will take. Having travelled all this way I was a bit surprised to see the winner was from the cottage training group (Battersea Park training group) and second place was Belgrave. Winning time about 52 mins. Anyway another year done.
Chris Tuck
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5-01-18
Lamberhurst New Year's Day 10k
A not overly early (10.30am) start tempted me to make the short journey to Lamberhurst yesterday for their New Year's Day 5k / 10k race. The course is one or two loops from the village hall, taking in the National Trust's Scotney Castle.  I opted for the 10k race, with participants of both distances subject to heavy rainfall - some for longer than others but at least it wasn't overly cold. I felt pretty good until the first of two climbs on the second loop, but managed to keep going and put in a couple of 6+ minute miles amongst four 7+ minute ones to finish in 28th place (202) finishers with chip and gun times of 44.03 / 44.08. A finishers medal of a champagne bottle was a subtle reminder of the previous night's excess but I was nonetheless pleased to have completed my first race of 2018!
Kevin Cockram
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5-01-18
I ran the Santa Barbara Resolution 10k yesterday. I set off at 6mm and then rapidly declined to set a PW of 40.11.  Apparently the air quality is still poor after the fires in California, the aftermath of which is very clear from the freeway. Or it could be the side effects of the excellent local “Raven Mad” beer I was drinking the night before!
Robin McCoy
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5-01-18
I was at Lloyd Park yesterday for the first part of a New Years Day double header and saw a Ravens vest out front. I looked at the results afterwards to see it was Jonathan Pontin. I recognised him from some of the sessions but have not actually yet said hello. Apologies Jonathan if you are reading and well done. Good to see a Ravens vest at the front of a parkrun.
Marcus Elwes
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