Reports 2018 - Ravens Runners London

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Race Reports for 2018
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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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