Reports 2019 - Ravens Runners London

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Race Reports for 2019
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25-10-19
Sri Chinmoy 10km
Having disappointed myself at the Middlesex 10km in Victoria Park 3 weeks ago I had decided that the best way to get over it was to enter another race. I duly turned up on Saturday morning for an 0830 start in Battersea Park (poor planning as it meant I missed the first half of the England game). The course is basically the 5km course twice, so you end up completing 4 laps. After the warm up I wasn’t feeling fantastic but conditions were great so I was hopeful I would run acceptably. For once I went off sensibly and clocked a 5:56 first mile. At this point I thought that I was actually feeling ok and moved up a few places and managed to latch onto another group. After the first lap, with one other, I broke away from that group and we were pushing each other along nicely. Sadly at the start of the final lap he increased his speed and I couldn’t stay with him but was determined not to let him get too far away. Mile 6 was painful, but then it always is and then I summoned the customary 200m speed increase for the line and came home in 36:30. Over 45 seconds quicker than 3 weeks ago so I’m very pleased. Also my first mile was my slowest of the race which felt better than slowing gradually every mile. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the course I set my pb on as this felt like the best I’d run a 10km!
Tim Harman
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25-10-19
Oakland Trail Race
Typed this at the airport in Saturday ready to send when in Monday morning – one way to kill the time! After Anna’s recent heroics, I felt I needed to do something a little different in an attempt to try to bridge the gap.  Having finished a work trip in California on Friday and been unable to make the evening flights from LA or San Francisco, it meant a Saturday evening departure home.  So – the big question – what to do on Saturday before heading to the airport?

Pretty easy answer – there are a ton of trail races in California so I decided to dip my toe into the water. I managed to find a 35k trail race in Oakland – starting at the top of a big hill by an observatory in the middle of a Redwood forest.  I probably would have gone up to 50k distance but am glad I didn’t find a race that fit the bill! I knew it was going to be tough as it has 4,550 feet of elevation gain and I hadn’t trained for it.  I ran the Havering Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago and did 12 miles, 16.5, 13.2 and 14.1 in preparation for that with a maximum of 2 hours and 13 minutes on my feed.  And I hadn’t run any hills for a month or two… So my plan was to run the flat, the downhills and any uphills that weren’t too steep and walk any steep bits as knew they would kill me if I ran them and I also wouldn’t go much faster than if I walked.  I managed to keep to that plan the entire race. Weather was great – a lot cooler than I had anticipated plus most of it was run in the shade in the forest.  Felt a bit puffy the first few miles and just took it easy.  There was a lot of descent the first couple of miles, and it was technical for most of the course with lots of tree roots and rocks jutting up everywhere and uneven surfaces so you spent a lot of time looking down to make sure that you placed your feet in safe spots.  Meant I didn’t enjoy the Redwoods as much as I could have done if it was a smooth surface as I didn’t really get to look at them.  I enjoy the technical stuff and think I am fairly quick going down. I settled in around four miles with my breathing sorted and felt pretty good but didn’t want to speed up as knew that it would come back to get me!  Got a wasp sting on my calf at about 5 miles and nearly tripped myself up when trying to knock it off whilst running over the uneven surface – was quite a good distraction for a few miles as the sting was sore!

It felt like it took a long time to reach the first aid station at 5.9 miles and I would have guessed I had round around 8 miles by that point. I was pleased to see a lot of people running the steep uphills earlier on in the race – I figured that they were a) strong runners or b) going to tire themselves out – and assumed most fell into category b.  I would walk them, they would go past me and then I would catch them again on the flat and descents – often I would run 10 yards of flat between inclines or walk a short 10 yard stretch between flat or downhill.  I got the sense that the people around me were better trail runners than me but that if you put us on the road I would be a decent amount quicker. From around 4 miles I started to regularly pass people (with yo-yoing on the hills) and this carried on until 17 miles.  I probably made up around 15 places (though some may have been running the half marathon which started at the same time).  Miles 11 – 17 were run in a canyon (not particularly barren like I pictured a canyon to be) and a lot of it was by a beautiful lake plus there were a lot of birds overhead.  Apparently buzzards. My intention was to power hike when I walked.  What I was doing was definitely not powerful and in fact pretty weak!  From 7 or 8 miles most people around my pace had reverted to hiking the steep inclines rather than running them.  They seemed to walk with hands on thighs or hands locked together behind their backs and I tried both techniques with little success, so I just walked regular format but tried to walk faster and extend my stride.  I was a lot slower than others at the hiking! I enjoyed the aid stations, filling up my 16 oz bottle with a 50/50 mix of tail wind at each stop and taking about half a banana – they were something to look forward to to break the race up and I had to ration my drink later on as was feeling the need to guzzle.  By mile 17 I was feeling starving and a bit empty so stopped for I would guess a minute and a half to give in to some cravings - scoffing lots of banana, as well as some satsuma and a good amount of cake and some sweets (I imagine Robin will say this is a format you would like Dave, but I wouldn’t say that), and gorged on Coke (acola! – helpfully it was flat) and Mountain Dew as I could feel myself getting weaker and so tried to get some sugar into me.

From mile 17 to the finish at just under 23 miles it was a bit of a struggle and around 5 or 6 people went by me.  The food and drink had helped but I was just a bit knackered and the last 4 and a bit miles were largely on steep inclines.  Any flat I was running a lot slower than I did earlier and my powerless hiking was a bit pathetic so it felt like I was making slow progress as my legs just felt tired.  I was breathing pretty heavily by this point regardless of the gradient.  The final few miles were very technical and felt like they took a long time, so I was very pleased to make it to the finish! I finished 22/75 place in 4.05.28 with an average pace of 10.46 per mile. The winner set a new course record by 6 minutes running 2.37.56 with an average pace of 6.56.  I cannot comprehend!  I just looked him up and he has run a sub-4 mile.  He also finished 4th at Western States 100 mile race (America’s biggest trail race). Lots of goodies at the finish – chocolates, sweets, cake, rice crispy squares, jerky, crisps, sandwiches, nachos and dip and fizzy drinks.  Enjoyed it but glad it is done. Think Rupert would have liked this one and would have been intrigued to see his time – I suspect around 3.20 - 3.30 (but possibly quicker) which would place him between 4th and 6th, .
John Crawley
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25-10-19
I was away the rest of last week so this is coming a bit late but thanks everyone for the congrats and kind words and to Alex for organising. I realise I pipped the Grand Prix on volunteer points but I feel like I’ve had I’ve had a solid year so I’ll take the trophy for a year! As with everyone, whilst I tend to come and go in phases depending on what I’m training for, I always try and do the Assembly League races, IFS XC and the Tuesday Fartlek is always my default session that I come back to.  I know what to expect, I know it’s going to be tough enough and I know there will always be someone there to chase.  I’ve been getting some speed back over the last couple of months and this is all down to returning on Tuesdays so I’ll never take it for granted. Talking of form, my local club had our first XC league fixture this weekend in the ESXC League.  I felt like I started my XC season well with a couple of decent runs at the relays and the Essex League at One Tree Hill last week and was hoping to get close to the top 20.  It’s obviously dependant on who turns up but there are usually some decent runners including Ram Osmon the 68min HM runner who apparently won the race in trainers despite it being quite a wet and muddy course!  Started as normal and tried not to go off too fast.  Settled into what I thought was a steady pace that I could hold and build on.  I had a few people overtake me again after the first mile but only 1 that got away and stayed ahead, all the others I reeled back in and overtook them again.  Finished strong over the line just in case someone was on my tail but didn’t have to sprint (thank god!) and got my first top 20 finish with 17th place. Next week back on the road with the Wix 5 mile race but will see you all on Tuesday.
Scott Darney
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25-10-19
XC season started for most people this weekend and luckily for me I managed to avoid the hardest course in my local league (Gosfield) – horrible course which I’m sure some of you will know. However for me it was the Chelmsford marathon. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The temperature was cold, there was absolutely no wind and the start line was only 30 minutes away from my house. Chelmsford marathon is a well-organized event and the conditions are perfect if you are looking for a PB. Hardly any hills, lots of country lanes and none that are too long (brilliant for relaxing the mind). The support from mile 21 (Robin) and onwards is also fantastic. In terms of the race, I had heart set on running sub 3 and if possible as close to 2:56:00 as I could. Having practiced warming up into GMP during the last two weeks of training, I was able to execute the plan as intended. The aim was to continue GMP up until 20 miles and then take the race as it came with 10k to go. I managed to maintain GMP up to 20 and felt strong enough to start pushing on. At 21 miles Robin gave me that all important boost and at 22 miles I was surprised to see my older brother and his family who again gave me that all important boost to carry on moving. Strangely my fastest mile (6:33) was between this point. From 23 onwards I was starting to feel the burn and even though I felt I was pushing harder the pace was in fact slowing. Finished win a chip time of 2:55:32 – a massive PB for me and the magic sub 3. Splits were almost identical 1:27:44 (1st) and 1:27:48 (2nd). I owe a massive thank you to Scott Darney who put together a fantastic training schedule and throughout has supported my sub 3 target. Also all the experienced runners who have guided me over the last 2 years since my first marathon in 2017.
Ryan Day
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25-10-19
Manchester half marathon
Yesterday I lined up at the start line at 9am in the pouring rain with 12,000 other mad fools. As i been training for this one over the summer wanted to run a good time and hopefully of a sub 90 mins. Got in a nice little group and the miles were ticking off nicely had a bad time at mile 7 and the group left me, was hanging on for dear life. From mile 11 really struggled managed to cross line in 87.27 which was 17 secs outside my pb set nearly 4 years ago. Also 7 mins faster than my last half marathon 4 weeks ago. Finished in 394 out of 11,500 and 21st in my age group. Hope to see some  of you tomorrow evening
Dave Miller
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25-10-19
I ran the first Essex League XC at One Tree Hill on Saturday as the solo representation of my club and bumped into the usual suspects (David B, Mick, Robin).  Having gone off a bit too hard in lap 1 last year I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake so tried to keep something in the tank for lap 2. It seemed to work as I was overtaking pretty much the whole way round once things settled down and felt good throughout. Improved on last years’ time by about 10 seconds and up 2 places - nothing substantial but some progress before our Sunday XC league kicks off at Gosfield this weekend. Looks like Micks son Zach had a cracking race coming in 2nd!
Scott Darney
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8-10-19
Southend 10k
Good to see quite a few Ravens out at the Southend 10k this weekend, spotted Andy C, Robin, David B, Phil P, Ryan and saw a couple of vests out there too!  Expect there were more? I was using this as a tune-up to Stebbing 10 in 5 weeks’ time where I have been planning to go under 60 for 10 miles.  The rain was absolutely pelting it down when I got up and all the way there.  Fortunately, by race start it had pretty much stopped.  Plan was to see if I can run 6mm and around or under 37 in the hope that 5 more weeks of training can see me maintain same pace for another 3.8 miles. I started steady but conscious not to race anyone in the first mile so tried to find a rhythm and settle in.  Lots went past me and I went by allot also as it was a bit field.  After a mile, I felt reasonably comfortable and just held pace but seemed to be picking people off.  The out was supported by a tailwind but when we turned around the half way mark it was straight into the wind along the sea wall.  This was a tough stretch and I found myself out on my own but managed to reel some people in and overtake.  I overtook a couple of people on the final hairpin and one guy then got me back along the final sea-front straight but didn’t take off convincingly, so I hung on and just before we turned to the finish line I made a move a managed to get by without a fight (phew!).  Came home in 37:35 which is about 20 seconds slower than PB pace but a solid run I felt. Not sure I am on for sub 60 at Stebbing to be honest as I think I needed to go under 37 but I’ll keep going and see how training goes over the next few weeks.
Scott Darney
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8-10-19
Good time in tough conditions, that whole seafront return stretch was tough, a relief to get to the final hairpin.  Can’t imagine there were too many PBs at the front end of the race. Having flown in from Poland late the previous night with big delays I was still in bed 45 minutes before the start and had pretty much written off running.  However I live a mile or so from the start and at the last minute I hauled myself up and ambled over.  Found a friend who was going for a PB so ran with her rather than try and get anywhere near my PB as the weekend had been pretty tiring.  She managed a 3 minute PB of around 45 minutes so was very happy and I was able to bask in her reflective glory on a relatively easy run rather than the undoubted disappointment of getting nowhere near my own target!
Paul Brandreth
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8-10-19
I was another Southend 10k runner yesterday and it was nice to catch up with a few Ravens yesterday as don't get up to London much now. Don't run much these days, lucky if I get out once a week now as business is taking up a lot of my time. So wasn't expecting much from the race. Found  the 45 minute pacer and decided to try and keep as close as possible. Worked fine for first 4km with the tailwind and went through halfway in about 22 minutes. The second half into the headwind was much tougher with miles dropping from 7:15 to about 8 mins. Was happy to finish in 47:35 as have only been doing over 50 minutes in training. Need to work out a better training schedule I think.
Andrew Ferguson
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8-10-19
The same report as everybody else… Conditions were not great but could have been much worse. Nice little reminder that XC is starting soon. I started off with the aim of progressive miles which worked out for the first 3 (with the wind) and then slightly slower against it (knowing it would be tough to maintain good speed) but I clung onto a group and we seemed to be overtaking people against the wind which was a good feeling. Finished in a time of 37:15 and one place over the top 50. Nice to see lots of Ravens out running.
Ryan Day
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8-10-19
Essex Champs 10k Southend
I ran the Southend 10k on Sunday which was also the County 10k. Headed out early Sunday fearing the worst weather wise due to the early torrential rain and bad forecast. However, the rain cleared for the race though there was a strong wind, which was behind you for the first 4K or so as you headed out along the seafront to Shoeburyness but then against you for 5k after turning to come back. So a pretty speedy first 4K for everyone including a fair number of Essex Ravens (Andy C, Robin. Dave M, Phil P (good to see Mr Priest racing), Scott D and others I’m sure). I started fairly conservatively but still managed 18:46 or so for the first 5k. Then very hard graft for the next 5k into the wind thinking at one point It was just too hard and would I be able to get to the finish! So a slower second 5k in 19:45 but managed sub 4min k’s throughout though k’s 6 & 7 were both 3:59. Finished in 75th place of 1400+ runners and first M60 in a chip time of 38:31 (gun 38:36). A post leg break pb by almost 90secs so very happy with my run, a nice Essex Gold medal, plaque and £50 running shop voucher for first M60, bright red T shirt and race medal! (Wife not so happy with having all that stuff brought home!) Thanks also to Andy C for his post race presidential medal ceremony efforts.
Dave Butler
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8-10-19
4 months of no training = comfortable PW, beating the PW I ran on New Year's Day 2018, which I thought was untouchable. Well done everyone else! I also spotted Ryan Day and Stuart Cable.
Robin McCoy
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8-10-19
I also raced yesterday using it as a tune up race for Manchester half this week, had a great 1st 5k not so great 2nd 5k finished in 41.24 which was 30 secs faster than last year. Nice to see other ravens on course past and present.
Dave Miller
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8-10-19
Havering half marathon
Whilst all the serious runners were at the Southend 10k, I decided to venture 20 minutes down the road to the Havering half marathon.  This was the first half marathon in Havering for 25 years and I thought it was really well organised race and a good course.  About 8-9 miles of the race were run in Country parks and the rest was on road.  There were also a few hills chucked in for good measure.

I hadn’t run a half marathon for nearly a year so was looking forward to seeing what I could do over this distance – my PB stood at 1:54.  My aim was to come in just under 1:40.  I have done some long runs but only two at any pace – 2 weeks ago I ran to work and did 1 ‘fast’ mile and 1 slow mile for 12 miles.  I wanted to hit around 7:30 for the hard miles, and I did, but it felt pretty hard!  I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to keep this sort of pace up for 13 miles. About a quarter of a mile in to the race, a girl appeared alongside me and asked what time I was going for.  We were both aiming for 1:40 so ran together for the first 6 miles – it was good to have her there as we kept telling each other to slow down, and the first 4-5 miles ticked by really quickly – probably because we were going too fast.  Her breathing was getting heavier and she dropped back a bit around 6 miles in. I was now on my own – oh no!  About 8 miles in I was beginning to feel the pace and miles 10-12 were about 30 seconds slower than my goal pace.  I was getting overtaken (I reckon about 10-15 people passed me in these last few miles) but as each human passed, I was hoping they were male rather than female, and they were!  I managed to pick it up a little for the last mile and finished in 1:38:21.  I think I was 7th female on the day – the reason I say think is that there is a Matthew and Mark ahead of me in the gender results so I am actually showing as 9th – I guess they must have selected the wrong gender when entering?! Unfortunately, the course seemed a bit short, here she goes again…!  It came up as 12.92miles on my Garmin and everyone else seemed to think the same.  I’m hopeful that if it was the full 13.1 miles I might have just crept in under 1:40, but I think it would have been tight!  Pleased with this though, but will try for a more consistent race next time! I think my PBs (5k, 10k etc.) are now all up to date!
Anna Crawley
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8-10-19
Chester marathon
Well done to everyone who raced this weekend – some great performances and, as ever, reports that make Mondays worth getting up for! I also ran, so here is my first race report (as promised Alice!)

Yesterday, I ran Chester Marathon. It felt like a very well organised race at the start, despite the last minute change to the start/finish due to the racecourse being waterlogged from all the recent rain, and we weren’t waiting long at the start before the race started – definitely one you can turn up and run at rather than standing around for ages. Plenty of loos, plenty of support around the course in the various villages, lots of lovely volunteers at the water/feed stations. The only thing that let it down was the chaos collecting bags at the end – we were waiting over 40min in a very strong and cold wind with no protection for our bags – this may have been due to the last minute changes to the start/finish though (others who may have run it would be a better judge). Other than that, I thought it was a great marathon for a smaller event. This was my third marathon and, having just survived around my first two, I decided I would actually put in some effort, train properly and aim for a decent time (for me). So I put myself a plan together, which included getting myself out to the Tuesday lunchtime sessions regularly, and I entered the last couple of weeks feeling ready for the taper and with a strange mix of apprehension (about how it was actually going to go on the day) and confidence (from knowing I’d put in more work than previously). My aim was somewhere between 3hr50 and 4hrs, but I really didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I didn’t give myself the best prep on Saturday, falling down 4-5 steps at our friends’ house late in the afternoon. I luckily managed to stop myself going down the full flight, but went to bed that night feeling a little shaken and with a couple of aches in my left leg and foot (although I was fairly confident it was just muscle tension rather than anything too serious). We awoke to wind and rain in Manchester but with the promise of the rain easing off (but not the wind) and arrived in Chester to brighter skies and a chilly wind. My right knee was complaining a little following the previous afternoon’s fall although my left leg and foot now felt fine. I was quietly wondering how it would be so was happy to not go too far up the starting times and found myself running a very easy pace to start due to the crowd, which actually suited me fine. I didn’t try and weave my way through, but instead just let the crowds thin out naturally and found that my knee was easing up. After mile 4, I had the courage to pick up my pace to 8:45min/mile and decided I’d hang on to that for as long as I could. It’s mostly a gently undulating course through the Cheshire countryside and I found myself overtaking the 4:30 and 4:15 pacers relatively early on (not as easy as it sounds as runners were sticking to them like glue and filling the entire road). I did have a quick stop at the facilities at mile 6 and wondered if I’d have to pass the 4:15 pacers again but luckily I had stayed just ahead of them. At some point I passed a runner who I was convinced was naked, but turns out he was wearing a skin-coloured one piece (which looked like it was actually designed for cycling in … I did spend a good few minutes afterwards feeling sorry for him for the chafing I could only imagine that the padding was causing); and a jockey who was running in riding boots! The weather did indeed hold, other than the occasional shower of drizzle (which was actually quite welcome). And the wind direction meant we were mostly protected from it by the hedges and woodland along the route. It felt relatively simple to just keep my pace steady and my heart rate as low as I could, checking my splits as I passed each mile marker/10k timing mat. My heart rate did start to creep up from about half way and I knew that at some point I’d have to find some inner strength to maintain the pace, but felt like I could keep going as I was for a while longer. I got through 17/18/19 feeling not exactly comfortable, but infinitely better than my previous marathon attempts at the same point, so stuck to the pace. At around mile 18, the metric marathon joins the same route and, as it starts 1hr15 after the marathon, I was then having to avoid the tail runners who were going slower than me. Then the 20 mile marker appeared, and for some reason (I still haven’t worked this one out) I decided I’d stop checking my watch so much and run the final 10k by feel – and my pace picked up a fraction from where it had been. I eventually caught the 4hr pacers at just after mile 21, and thought that they were going too fast – they had 50minutes to cover the final 5 miles. It was after I’d passed them that I started to feel like I was having to dig very deeply to keep the pace I’d set myself up, and I felt the benefit of those Tuesday sessions hanging on for the 5+ minute efforts (thanks, Phil, for putting those in! And thanks to everyone who very patiently jogged back to meet me so far back!) I kept bargaining with myself that if, by the next mile marker, I was feeling worse than I was right then, I’d slow my pace a little and jog a bit. And it never actually happened. I eventually crossed the line in 3hr54, a significant PB for me (28min), and elated that not only had I run the whole way but I’d also kept a very steady 8:45 pace from after mile 4. And I managed to negative split (1hr59/1hr55). I’m sure I could have done a bit more with my training (can’t we all?!) and pushed a bit harder, but for now I’ll enjoy the PB and consider what’s next when I’ve replenished my energy stores.
Emily Dodds
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8-10-19
Lowestoft Half (ish) Marathon
I ventured out to the Far East (Lowestoft) this weekend for their half marathon. The start was at "Ness Point" on the sea wall, which is the furthest point east in the UK, and it was a very exposed to the strong wind and rain we had. I didn't expect much but I quite enjoyed it. I caught my cousin in the first mile and ran with him, all the miles were between 7:30 and 7:50 except the second time we had to do the climb up to the cliff top. I finished in 1:41 under my 1:45 target. The course was cut a little short due to flooding, probably only about 150yards short. All in all an enjoyable race in biblical weather,
Chris Meadows
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8-10-19
Ironman Maryland - Ironman 70.3 Cascais
“35 degree heat and 90% humidity after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 miles on the bike.” – Kona (Hawaii) is SAVAGE! I ran and cycled there when I was on my honeymoon – it is amazingly tough. The Ironman World Championships are this weekend – try and have a watch if you can (Facebook might be the best place to watch), inspiring stuff (the leading men run 2hour 40 something marathons!): https://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/world-championship.aspx. Last weekend I dusted off my race gear for my half ironman debut at Ironman 70.3 Cascais (Portugal). I have never done this distance and I’ve done naff all running over the last 18 months so I planned to race the swim and bike and then just get the run done not knowing how my running would hold up. The main thing was I wanted to actually enjoy it and learn as much as I could about how to race this distance for a serious punt in the future. Swim (1.2Miles) – exited the water in 27mins which I was very pleased with as I was held up early on. Next time I’ll go nearer the front to reduce congestion/holdups and hopefully find some fast feet to draft. Bike (56miles) – Flat for 50km then quite a lot of climbing before a fast/windy ride back along the coast to transition – managed to keep my average above 20mph and just about on my 2hour 45 sensible target for the bike leg (without two wee breaks I’d have nailed it). Run (13.2miles) – 21.1km is 9km further than I’d run at any point in 2019 so had no idea how I’d get on. Decided to run it like a training run, I just settled into the pace my body naturally wanted to do – wasn’t pushing hard. There are a couple of hills that I tried to just ease up and over. At the end of the 1st 10km lap I felt great and was really enjoying it. With 5km to go I still felt great and knew it wasn’t going to be a problem to finish. I’d glanced at my watch a couple of times only to make sure I wasn’t going to quick, but then decided to do some maths and realised I was on for sub 1:45 which was what I pencilled in as a time I’d be pleased with. Actually ended up running 1:40 (averaging 4:45 per km) which I was both surprised and chuffed with. Total: 5:06:17 (48th of 273 in Age Group, 308th of 1,781 Males). Thoroughly enjoyed the entire event and was so pleased to get something achieved this year after a trainwreck 2017/8/9!! Plan to be out more regularly with the Ravens asap and push on into a great 2020 season!
George Wakefield
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3-10-19
ran for Easter Masters in the EAMA Inter Area XC Challenge at Bury St Edmunds on Saturday. This was an age graded competition between regional masters clubs and also one of the selection races for the England team for the British & Irish Masters Home Countries XC International taking place in November. Despite forecasts of 40mph winds for Saturday afternoon, the weather was actually pretty good and the ground dry despite recent heavy rain. The course was mostly on grass with no real hills to speak of and comprised one short and two long laps and total distance was slightly under 6k. Men 65+, as is the tradition, ran with the ladies (all age groups 35+). I opted to run in spikes though could easily have run in road shoes! We set off at 1pm and I settled into around 10th place overall and 3rd male. Moved into 2nd M65 position on the first lap with Dave Cox from Woodford a little way in front and looking good. I worked my way past a few of the ladies as the race progressed until Dave Cox appeared to slow a bit at the start of lap 3. I managed to get past Dave and started to try and chase down the 2 ladies in 2nd and 3rd place (Clare Elms and Becky Luxton) who were still some way in front. I managed to catch them both and get past, probably 800m from the end which is how it finished. The lady who won ran a great race and was some 40secs ahead at the end. I managed a time of 22:29 (age grading 86%) some 30 secs quicker than last year and finished as first M65 turning the tables on Dave C who won last year with me in 2nd! Very happy with the run which should give me a good chance of selection for the international race.
Dave Butler
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3-10-19
I lined up for the Middlesex 10km on Sunday which is held in Victoria Park. For those who have run the assembly league here there are 3 laps of the park but going the opposite direction. As there are a few clubs that hold their club championship here I was hopeful of running a decent time and I’ve been training well. The weather forecast wasn’t great but at least there wasn’t torrential rain which was a bonus but there was a decent head wind for the start of each lap (a lengthened first lap so you don’t hit this point immediately). After the first mile I was feeling good and still on pace and then hit the head wind and was pleased to still get through the next mile on track as well. I don’t know if this mile took more out of me than I thought but it was a struggle for the rest of the race, apart from the last half a mile with a decent following wind.  Struggled home in 37:16 (37:22 official as no chip timing). No excuses just didn’t cope with the conditions very well and a bad run. Will train harder and look for a better run next time out and have immediately entered the Sri Chimnoy 10km in October to try and make up for it!
Tim Harman
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3-10-19
I took part in the Essex XC relays in Writtle College and conditions were quite decent for cross country.  The course was 5k and I had leg 3 of 4.  I was told that once you get round the top end of the lake then you were almost home so save something.  I set off with a youngster who quickly pulled away from me but I didn’t want to get caught up in a race in the first mile.  My legs felt ok for the first mile and I got overtaken by a young Braintree AC athlete who I decided to try and stay with if he didn’t convincingly pass me.  I kept in touch for the middle mile and remembering the advice from earlier, got round the lake then made a move to overtake him with about 1/3 mile to go.  I didn’t look back because I didn’t have much more to give if he was close on my tail, just tried to hold my pace to the finish and luckily it was enough to come home in 17:59 by my watch – although course came up at around 3 miles for most so not quite 5k.  Quite pleased with the run out and looking forward to some XC racing now!  I was left a bit embarrassed when the young Braintree AC runner came over to the WRC base to congratulate me as I should have (and usually do) waited for him at the end and shown some sportsmanship myself but it was a nice touch from him and reminded me why I love XC – proper racing!
Scott Darney
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3-10-19
Race report - Berlin Marathon
I ran the Berlin marathon yesterday. My plan of continuing training all the way through from London in April didn't really happen but it had gone well over the last couple of months so I was confident of a good time especially with a flat course. The start was a bit chaotic and by the time I reached my starting corral it was absolutely rammed. I was towards the back of the 3hr to 3hr 20 block. It meant my first 6-7 miles were spent weaving in and out and I didn’t settle into a rhythm until about mile 8. I cruised through the half way point in 1.26:42 which was probably a minute slower than I’d planned but probably helped me later in the race. I was feeling strong at 19 miles so decided to pick the pace up. Miles 19, 20 and 21 were my quickest of the race! I took Mick’s advice about how the 5 longest training runs should total about 100 miles ( I did 94) and that definitely helped. My legs felt good throughout although my feet felt sore after about 18 miles. It was pouring with rain for the last few miles but I eventually finished in 2.53:48 which is a new pb beating my previous best by 1m 38. Collecting my bag and trying to get back to my hotel absolutely soaked wasn’t much fun but was very pleased with the time. I have a new target now! Overall thoughts about the race: Very flat course so good pb opportunities but very dull. Chaotic start. Need to get there early to avoid a slow start. Not particularly well supported. No Tower Bridge, Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf etc  equivalents. No finisher t-shirt in the bag which was disappointing. I probably wouldn’t rush back to do it again unless I was chasing a time. I now need to do New York and Tokyo to complete the 6.
Tom Gwynn
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3-10-19
I did indeed race on Sunday; a local 10K in Devizes, not a flat route.  I've finally chosen a club and have been training with them for the past few weeks, lots of hill training.  There's a northern lass (Laura) who I run with on non-club nights too and we are very evenly matched, so it was always going to be interesting.  Having not raced for a while, I really didn't feel great on Sunday morning, definitely nerves; despite well over 9 hours sleep, I felt shattered.  We collected my friend on the way there and just chatted like you do.  We even did a bit of a warm up together then jogged to the start.  Her nerves started to show there; I looked at the assembled females.  I could already see first and second ladies, then there was an interesting mix of others who have beaten me at races and with Laura there too, I thought I was going to be lucky to even get a top 8 placing. I ran this race last year and also paced the Devizes HM (which uses a lot of the same course), so I knew what to expect.  I thought I started off relatively sensibly (6.51 first mile), but it is a fair bit of down, then you hit the first hill.  Surprisingly, I literally glided past a group of about 5 women and a couple of men quite early into the first hill, I could hear others breathing heavily.  As you turn left past the monument, the hill keeps giving, generously!  Once here, I knew I had to push on if I was to stay in position (I thought I was in 3rd and I was); I tried to keep 2nd place lady in sight but she's an extremely strong V45, having competed for England.  Strong downhill and I just tried to keep a strong pace the whole way.  I did wonder if I'd blown it at 5K (22 mins) but thankfully not.  Another hill that I'd forgotten about but I did seem to be running on my own and had no intention of looking behind me to see where the next female was.  Pushing on looking always for the next K marker.  7K came and went and I took a youngish lad who'd started right near the front; frustratingly it was a bit windy and I didn't have anyone to hide behind, draft.  2nd place lady was out of sight by now but that's no excuse to slow.  Then onto the last hill; it's broken tarmac and then a semi-trail, slightly muddy but I knew the downhill was fast once you get there; here I took another placing, a guy walking then he decided to run a bit but he was clearly done in.  Then it was just a case of keeping it going to the end for me; lots of really good marshals on the course, and a few mentioned my placing but I just needed to stay there.  Then I was on the finishing straight and looking at the clock, I was going to get under 45 minutes. I can never talk when I've just finished a race and had no breath but absolutely over the moon because I took well over 2 minutes off my time from last year and my friend Laura came in 4th lady but a good 30s behind.  Sadly she did not get the V45 prize as they gave it to 2nd place lady who came in at 43.19, I was a good minute behind on 44.34 (Laura 45.18).  It was very odd being called forward as Vicky Henderson, Ravens City of London (Instead of Vicky Cooper); think it'll take me a while to get used to it!
Vicky Cooper
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3-10-19
Ironman Maryland
I entered this race at the end of last year for a number of reasons. Firstly I have always fancied doing an Ironman in the US having already taken part in a few half Ironman distance races out there. Also I moved up an age group this year and if I ever want to get to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii then I needed to find a course that suited me and race it at the lower end of my age group. I had qualified for the half Ironman World Championship back in 2013 on a similar course in the US and thus I seem to do pretty well racing state side.  The race itself was in Cambridge and the town really came out to support the event. Sadly the race director from last year unexpectedly passed away in the lead up to the race and quite rightly a big part of the event was a tribute to him. In fact they even renamed the local park where transition was in his name. The race began with a 2.4 mile swim in the Choptank River. The swim was fairly straightforward apart from the chop and the jellyfish. I had to stop and pull one off the buggers my face about two thirds round. I eventually exited the water in 1.10 which is a little slow for me but it was going to be a long day so I didn’t want to push the pace too much and was not overly concerned about the time as the distance can vary from race to race. The bike leg was a two lap affair on a course that contained hardly any elevation. In fact I don’t remember any hill or even a slight drag. The only issue was the wind which just kills your average speed. I finally finished the bike in 5.20 having averaged 21 mph for the 112 miles and hit both my power and heart rate targets. Finally on to the marathon. My legs really didn’t feel that great at the start of the run, however after a few miles I began to settle in to a rhythm and before long I was half-way through. By this time the heat and humidity was beginning to take its toll and I was conscious of the fact I was getting very hot so I decided to use as much ice and water at each of the aid stations to cool down. The last six miles were just torture but I know from experience that this is more of a metal battle than a physical one. I finally crossed the finishing line with a 3.53 marathon and a 10.33 total time. This put me  99th overall out of 1,723 finishers and 8th in my age group out of 204. There were 4 slots in my age group for the Ironman World Championships in 2020 and all of them were taken by the top 4 so unfortunately none of them rolled down. Nonetheless I was delighted with my performance and was only a minute outside my Ironman PB. The Ironman World Championships will have to wait, however that was Ironman number seven so it now puts me five races closer to a possible legacy slot in Hawaii instead. The 2019 Ironman World Championships are only a few weeks away and should anyone be interested you can watch the event live on the Ironman Facebook page. Having read the press reports of the World Championship Marathon in Doha, the runners should consider themselves fortunate that they don’t have to run a marathon in 35 degree heat and 90% humidity after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 miles on the bike. Just ask David Meller.
Ian George
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3-10-19
Surrey Hills Marathon - Race Report
I ran the Surrey Hills Marathon Sunday before last. It was my first hilly marathon (second marathon ever) so no time goal rather the challenge of taking on nearly a 1000m of incline without breaking  myself. As the name suggests the course was hilly and basically all trails, largely following the elusive Greensand Way – a public footpath through the surrey countryside often lacking in adequate signage which caused many of us no end of grief. Having started steady as planned I found myself in a group of 4 near the front for about the first 7 miles up until we went wrong down a path and had to back track a fair distance up a hill. This had the undesired effect of creating pressure (and increasing the HR) whilst we fought to overtake the 20 or so people on narrow paths who had now moved ahead of us. Notwithstanding the chaos of going the wrong way (a few additional times)  I felt pretty good for the 3 larger climbs  - Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill and Leith Hill – having recce’d these hills a few weeks earlier definitely helped although I did feel notably more tired going up Leith Hill at around about the 17 mile mark. There was a long downhill section after Leith Hill which initially came as welcome relief but soon after quickly became far more painful that going up. This obviously took its toll as at mile 22  I suffered from severe calf cramps. Got through it stretching, and run  / walking for a mile or so and did get back to running but in the process lost 6 places. Thankfully managed to finish reasonably strong – although couldn’t kick for the sprint finish with one guy (who clearly saw the chance to finish in glory) in fear of doing serious damage to the calves. Still pleased to finish with a time of 4.28 which was 14th position out of 112 runners. Looking back I would definitely be more patient at the beginning, will load the GPX route onto the watch and will work on strengthening the posterior chain. Any Ravens with tips on strengthening work for these muscles would be welcomed. If you like trail running it is a lovely course to do so would recommend. I’m hoping this will be the springboard to more trail  / ultra-races and eventually one of the more friendly UTMB family of races.
Warren Diogo
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23-09-19
Hi all, new to the group having been attending sessions sporadically but more regularly in the last few weeks after finally realising I needed to start doing some proper pace work if I'm going to get quicker (never really done any intervals previously). Hoping I've got this googlegroups email format right. Ran at the City v Wharf 5k event at Victoria Park with my work RC tonight, I have a 5k PB of 20:28 which has stood for 18 months (in which time I haven't got within 20 seconds of it). Having got off a plane from a week of boozing in Portugal this afternoon I wasn't in confident mood but I could definitely feel the benefit of the recent sessions once I started. Hit a good first mile, was feeling it a lot on miles two and three and felt like I was off target but pushed through to the end to find my watch stopping at 20:29. Gutted! However as so often happens the official results are slightly different and was delighted to see 20:27 for a one second PB. So I wanted to say thanks to the group for organising the sessions and being so welcoming to newcomers (and thanks to Anna for getting me to come along - her recent massive improvements are a strong motivator to get quicker haha). I'll definitely be coming along more regularly (after my next trip) as I have a target of breaking 20 minutes by the end of the year before moving onto a 40 minute 10k.
Paul Brandreth
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23-09-19
Harrow Half Marathon
I entered this race thinking that I could do with an event to give me some motivation through the summer and banish my post marathon blues. That part of the plan worked well as I’ve turned in some good training in the last 5 weeks but there the good preparation ended. An impromptu night out on Friday was less than ideal final preparation. With that in mind I turned up to the start feeling less than positive about my chances. This was magnified by the walk to the start realising that the name of the closest tube should have been an indication of the run to come (Harrow on the Hill). In ideal fashion the steepest hill is in the first and last half a mile. After the first steep climb it took a few miles for my legs to feel normal. As this is a relatively new event the standard isn’t that high which led to me running 11.5 miles on my own as I wasn’t strong enough to stay with the front runners which makes it feel less like a race and more like a long run. The course in generally undulating other than the steep hills at the start and finish. It’s a well organised and marshalled event. I came home in 1 hr 21.32 for 10th place. The motto of the story seems to be that good preparation leads to a better race – who knew! Hope to see you all for the Ravens mile tomorrow.
Tim  Harman
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23-09-19
Pleshey Half Marathon
I entered this race as part of a warm up race for the Chelmsford Marathon which is coming up on 20 October. The race fitted in nicely with my plan and with it being the Essex champs I knew that a good standard of runners would attend to help drag me round the course. Prior to spending the weekend at a work team building event, I had every intention of setting a solid HM PB (1:25:26) having not really ran the distance competitively. However, being sociable and enjoying the company, I ended up staying much later and didn’t getting off until 2a.m. This obviously had a big effect on my race. I set of with a target of 6mm, following a friend I knew who was targeting the same pace (1:20). We got to 5 miles in just over 30mins, so all on plan but I had zero energy left in my tank and had to let the group go. After also forgetting my watch, I can’t tell you how my pacing went past that point but assume this was 6:30mm and I didn’t feel to bad as I crossed the line in 1:24:17. Probably the worse race preparations I’ve had for a while and the moral of the story for me is to be more organised.
Ryan Day
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23-09-19
WRC 5k Track
Apart from the last Assembly League I’ve not been racing much over the last few months and had a bit of time just plodding along, running when I feel like it and keeping the legs ticking over. Over the last few weeks I’ve started introducing speed back into my weekly routine with a couple of Ravens sessions and tried to get 10-14 mile long runs in at the weekend. As such I wasn’t expecting much last night at my local club’s Autumn 5k track race but thought it was important to see what shape I was in with a few races coming up. Plan was to start somewhere around 6mm and see how I felt, either try and hold on or try and push on.  First lap or so I felt quite good and was pleased I didn’t storm off as I then picked a couple of people off in laps 2-4 and nestled nicely into 3rd.  I felt like I was running quite well and had a nice rhythm going so was trying to ease up the pace a little.  With 2 laps to go 2nd place was in sight so I worked to get as close as I could but on the final lap, despite it being my quickest I couldn’t make the gap and finished 3rd with 18:05.  It was a negative split and a progressive miling according to my watch so I felt like it was a well execute race too without knowing what sort of shape I’m in. Plan to get to as many Tuesday sessions as I can now for the next couple of months as I think a 5k PB is within reach before the year is up (currently 17:45).
Scott Darney
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11-09-19
Chelmsford - 1 mile race
Had my second ever track outing yesterday at Chelmsford AC who were hosting some open races.  You had to give 5k pb / predicted 1 mile time and were put into races of similar ability. Having never raced a mile, I wasn’t too sure what to go for but Mick helped me to work out a plan of action with a view of taking a shot at 4.59, but not being sure if I would make it.  I spoke with the other runners in my race beforehand and there were two other guys going for the same time so we knew we wouldn’t be alone. Mick’s suggested pace was 74 second laps.  I decided to run roughly on feel but keep my eye on the clock.  Nailed the first lap at 74 seconds, letting one of the other runners (Springfield Striders) pull away as think he went off a little quick, but kept ham I would say 7-8 metres in front.  First lap felt pretty quick, second lap I think was a little slower than 74 and gap to Springfield didn’t open up, third lap managed to close the gap on Springfield on the back straight and then had a decision to make.  Do you sit in or do you go past?  I took what I think was the wrong option and sat in behind him – I figured there were 600 metres to go and it was too early to push on.  I wish I had pushed it on to see what had happened as it felt like the pace slowed but legs were not fresh so I didn’t know how much I had left.  At the bell the three of us were running together and I realized sub-5 was unlikely as it required about a 65 second lap.  We upped the ante at the beginning of the final lap but it was still controlled fast.  Springfield began to push on earlier than me, and the other runner (Chelmsford AC) pushed on.  I think I should have opened up the gas a little earlier than I did but I managed to finish strong, picking off the Chelmsford runner in a sprint finish to open up a decent gap on him and coming home behind Springfield.  Finished in 5.11.85 for second in the B race.  Springfield was 5.10.00 and Chelmsford 5.14.04.  Thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to run another mile race on the track.  Felt like it was all over and done with too quickly and I felt like I wanted to go again!  Was fairly breezy so don’t think it helped but also don’t think it made more than a couple of seconds difference to the time.  Happy with my time but would definitely like to get it down to low 5’s / 4.59. Lessons learned - think I could have pushed on during the third lap and gritted my teeth a little earlier on the fourth lap when winding it up to finish as I may have left it a little late to begin the final surge. I saw a video of my sprint finish and it was strong but looked seriously messy – tiredness combined with sprinting and my arms were all over the place.  I definitely need to improve my running technique which falls apart when I am tired / running all out at the end of a race.  Hope to keep working on my speed for the short stuff and get the 5k time down and come back next year to run some more fast stuff on the track. Good support from Mick, whose son Zach also ran (A race), and Dave Butler who also raced in a separate race to me. I think the above is accurate but I realise it sometimes has played out a little different to how I remember it so Mick / Dave may correct me!
John Crawley
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11-09-19
River Adur 5k
Apologies for a swim report but, as you know, I don’t run much now. This was my furthest race to date and one of times where the training plan gets constantly disrupted. In the month before I’d managed to hurt both shoulders in separate incidents so could only limp through my training - turns out shoulders are quite integral to swimming. Anyway, having been unsure I was going to race, glorious weather and plenty of ibuprofen persuaded me to do it. They start you in the slack water at high tide and I went off as easy as my racing instincts would allow. Although my shoulder ached throughout it didn’t really get any worse and I was even able to push on in the final k, by which time the tide is really starting to help. I even got into a sprint finish with someone and we were both so preoccupied with each other that we didn’t look up and managed to swim straight into a moored boat - still beat him though! Finished in 1 hour 2 minutes 34 seconds in 55th place out of 262 finishers. Great event, well organised and good fun. Not sure I like being classed as a “Super vet” though.
Stuart Lenton
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11-09-19
I ran for Ilford AC yesterday in the SCVAC League Track & Field final held at the Julie Rose Stadium in Ashford. Ilford qualified by finishing first in their division - only the top team in each division qualifies for the final. At the end of the day Ilford finished in 3rd place of 6 teams in the men’s event, a good result against some strong competition. Tonbridge AC were first and Southampton AC second though we were not too far behind them. My first race was the M60 1500m in which I set off pretty hard completing the first 800m in 2:43 very close to my current (slow) 800m time. Hung on from there to finish 2nd of 6 runners in a time of 5:09.27, a 14sec post leg break pb. Very happy with that and feel that sub 5mins is now achievable again. My second race was the M60 400m around half an hour later which felt ok. Had a strong finish which was very pleasing to finish in 3rd place of 6 in 73:44. My third race was the M50 3000m after a nice break of about 90mins. After a good start I slowed gradually as I started to feel tired. Finished 6th of 6 M50s (but did beat one of M35s who ran in the same race). My time was 11:06.46 a season’s best by 11secs. Overall a great day’s competition only marred by the crawl home along the various 50 mph M20 roadworks plus a 6 mile queue for the Dartford tunnel! And many thanks to Andy Catton who was sadly injured and not able to run but was there keeping us all organised for our various races to help the Team Manager who was competing in several events.
Dave Butler
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11-09-19
Victoria park 10k
I was on the hunt for a new 10k pb, and in order to get this, I employed my usual tactic of hardly ever racing the distance.  The last 10k I did was in April 2018, and I set my 10k pb in December 2017, this was 51:02. I entered a ‘run through’ race at Victoria park as I wanted a fast, flat course.  The weather was perfect and we set off at 10.05am on Saturday morning.  As an aside, I fell over running last Monday so this run was cut short to 2 miles, I then didn’t run on Tuesday, and ran easy on Wednesday and Thursday and rested on Friday (not exactly sure what I was resting from!) – so my legs were ready!  The goal was to run under 44 mins, I wasn’t sure if this was too ambitious, but I would soon find out.  Of course I set off quicker than 44 min pace but felt ok so pushed on for a couple of miles.  I then slowed a bit, but not horrendously.  Due to my (too) quick start, I was first lady for 4 miles but then got overtaken by the second lady.  I’d spoken to her at the beginning of the race and she said her goal was to go under 44 minutes and her PB was 44.30, so as she sailed past me, I knew she must be having a good race! Mile 5 was my slowest mile but I managed to pick it up a bit in the last mile.  I crossed the line in 42:50 (chip time) and finished second lady (only because ‘fast’ ladies don’t tend to do these races – and that’s not me being negative!). Really pleased with this, but not too sure I’ll be able to knock 8 minutes off the next 10k I do.
Anna Crawley
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11-09-19
The ROC Triathlon
So not a running race (but did include a lot of running) – but George Wakefield was insisting I send round a race report. The ROC triathlon is a simple event, starting in Abersoch (north Wales), you complete a 1.5km sea swim, ride 50km to the base of Snowdon, run up then down Snowdon using the Watkins path (12km) then another 50km ride back to Abersoch then a quick 1km run along the beach. With not having done much training and not having properly ridden a bike since the beginning of August I was unsure of my form but that wouldn’t stop me from trying 100%. The swim was fairly uneventful, the 50m run along the sand to get into the water had the effect of stringing us all out so there wasn’t too much fighting for position in the water.  I came out of the water in about 8th position and jumped onto my TT bike for the first 50km leg up to the base of Snowdon.  The cycle leg is surprisingly easy, no big climbs or tight corners navigate so I just sat there slowly picking off the guys ahead of me and making sure I kept topped up with food. Came into transition in 4th place where I changed into some road shoes (big mistake) and slung my rucksack containing waterproofs/hat/water/foil blanket/food onto my back and set off up the Watkins path.  On the early sloped where it’s a mixture of gravel path and massive stone steps I quickly overtook the other runners and was into first place. After 4km the path suddenly rears up and becomes another beast, I was having to clamber up the path using my hands as well as my feet to make any progress, at points my Garmin thinks I was going up gradients of around 40%.  Getting to the summit I was in first by around 30 seconds but all that lead rapidly went out the window, a mixture of road shoes / lack of fell running ability and pitching forward and smashing my thy on a rock meant that I was 11 minutes down on the leaders by the time I got back to my bike. Still in 4th place I gave it my all on the return leg of the bike to see if I could catch any of the lead 3 and salvage a podium place but it was not to be.  Started on my 1km beach run still 2:45 behind Simon Fear of the Army Triathlon Association (he had been in the lead at the end of the run so to claw back 8 minutes was a bit of a result) and shuffled round to pick up 4th place in a time of 5:03:48.  Not a bad result but gutting to miss out on the podium having lead through the fog up the mountain, always next year.
Jonathan Pontin
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11-09-19
World Triathlon Champs
On Sunday 1st September, I took part in the World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. Despite still being this side of 30 (just), ‘Triathlon Age’ is as at 31st December so I raced in the M30-34 age-group race (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). The weather was beautiful out there, and the lake so warm that wetsuits were banned. However, the water was the choppiest I have ever swum in, so times were all very slow.

The bike course was…interesting. One climb at about 7-8% and two sharp descents which were greater! I saw quite the crash at the turn at the bottom of this – thankfully they had rows of essentially mattresses lining the outside, but I think the guy still felt it the next morning. I managed to navigate these and most of the first lap without incident before someone cut me up in one of the final corners. I instinctively braked, then my rear wheel decided it didn’t like the idea of gripping the road anymore. I skidded across the road and ended up next to a marshal by the barrier. Thankfully, my watch, heart-rate monitor, helmet and shoes took most of the sand-papering instead of all my exposed skin. I therefore consider myself (somewhat) lucky, though still a few hundred pounds worse off. Before anyone asks - yes, the bike is fine. That marshal checked I was ok, picked my bike up, span the wheels, then plonked it down and told me to get on my way. This is a great example of social engineering as, in my shock, I just got back on and continued the race (+90s). I started the run feeling energised and determined. I settled into my 3:50/km target pace and overtook a couple of people I had been squabbling with. The run course was almost entirely flat, running along the beautiful lake-front of Lake Geneva. However, being in the home of the Olympics, they decided we would need to take a detour round the Olympic Museum – a 50m climb at over 13%! Then the park – 2 climbs at about 8%! This finally killed my spirits and I think dropped my adrenaline levels, as suddenly I could feel how much my hip was hurting after the crash. My pace slowed to about 4:40-4:50/km (except for the 50m where my exposed wounds were sprayed with water, I yelled out in pain, and briefly sped up to 3:30/km). I limped home in 43:48. This has cut my race season short by a couple of weeks, and it cut my holiday short by a few days too. A bit of a disappointing end to the season. I hope to be back jogging with you next week or the week after though. Thanks all who have helped motivate me at training sessions, and have given me technique and training advice this year. My race simulation a week before the race had me running at 3:45/km for 7km after over an hour on the bike; this is a pace I couldn’t have dreamt of achieving even 6 months ago! I credit a lot of this to you Ravens. Hopefully I come back even better next year. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
James Simmons
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31-07-19
Spitfire Scramble
My club, Billericay Striders entered 2 teams in the Spitfire Scramble both in the mixed 6-8 category. This was a brilliant and fun weekend with lots of banter, running and mugs of tea included! Maybe a couple of hours sleep max Saturday night in my £15 tent from Halfords which was supposed to be a 2 person tent but was tiny! We had 8 team members, 2 ladies and 6 men each taking it in turn to run a lap of approx 9.2k and hand the ‘baton’ over to the next runner. We had about 5 hours recovery between laps and were aiming to do about 4 laps each but maybe slightly less overall. In the end my team completed 32 laps and finished 6th out of 52 teams. Due to  an injury 2 of us did 5 laps each - a total of some 28.5 miles over the 24 hours. My first lap was my quickest in 39:08 and my third lap the slowest in 45:54 and this was the night lap with head torch which I started at 2:30am. This was good fun although I took it carefully as some parts were a bit tricky in the dark! My 4th lap went well in 42mins followed by a bacon and egg roll and a coffee to celebrate the end. Then got roped in to doing another lap a couple of hours later which I did to ensure we held on to 6th place. Very tired by this point but managed to keep a reasonable pace going and finished in a time of 44mins. All in all a fantastic weekend and we are already planning for next year’s event!
Dave Butler
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31-07-19
STANDARD CITY 5K
Having not really run properly since April I thought I would have a shuffle around the above.  I had a little run on the treadmill to confirm my knee was pain free, and then 4 pints to relax myself having not raced for so long.  Plan was to run 24-25 and walk if the pain flared up.  Off we went, and I decided to run as hard as possible until the pain flared up. Which it didn’t. Which pleasantly surprised me.  Just under 20 with no pain, so really pleased.  So hopefully will be out running with you all again very soon.  Sorry about that.  Delighted that we were 2nd female insurance team, 3rd male insurance team & 2nd mixed insurance team, all with only one ringer (Tim) – as distinct from last year’s army of Ravens.  Also spotted Rory (I appreciate that’s not how you spell your name), Alice, David W and Alex.
Robin McCoy
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31-07-19
As Robin says, I was there. First measured 5k since the appendix debacle. Got round in under 25, which is encouraging, but still some way off my PB.  Slow steps to recovery…  I also saw some Ravens we haven't see for a while, including Rebecca and Jess, both of whom had great races. I hope to see you both in Vicky Park on 1 August!!  If you are looking for Alice's result, she was running under a pseudonym last night – check for 'Chris Ross'. And for Ruaridh, see 'Viktoria Garner'.
Alex Anderson
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31-07-19
Nice one Robin (and others)! Look forward to seeing you back at runs soon. I decided on a fairly hot evening I was going to take a tilt at a sub 16. To facilitate this I then proceeded to head out at sub 15:30 pace. To my great surprise after 2k this strategy was not progressing as I had hoped. I plummeted back down through the field before rallying a little bit for the final mile or so. 16:25 score on the doors for 22nd place. Hopefully more to come next Saturday at the MK 5000mPB race where I can finally duck back under 16.
Bryn Reynolds
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31-07-19
Caterham 10k
In order to make the selection process more transparent in 2019 BMAF decided to choose a number of races as “selection” races for the Masters International XC in November. They then realised that most of the races were up North, so recently they added the Caterham 10k and the Stratford upon Avon 10k – which has resulted in the selection process being more/as confusing than previous years.

Anyway yesterday Dave Butler and I headed off to run the Caterham 10k. The course was advertised as “slightly” undulating, coming from Essex I would describe it as “hilly”. There were only 183 finishers in the 10k along with 269 in the Half Marathon that started at the same time and did two times a slightly extended version of the 10k course. The good news was that as the race started at 9am the weather was not too warm, but it did mean an early start in order to get there in plenty of time. The only good news was that I came 2nd M60, the bad news was that I was 1min 45secs behind the 1st M60 and I ended up with a disappointing time of 39:15. Because of the relatively small field apart from the first mile and the last 800m (when I held off someone who caught me up) I ran the whole race on my own and because of the hills I found I could not get into a good rhythm or a decent race pace – it felt more like a tempo run. Dave was 1st M65, well done Dave – I will let him do his own report. Despite everything I think I still enjoyed the race, we sometimes forget, especially as we get older, how good it is just to be relatively injury free and be able to race. That was approx. my 90th 10k and one of my slowest but I have still managed to never to run slower than 40 mins (we’ll see how many years I can keep that going !!). We also caught up with Dave Moore (ex Raven), he finished a couple of places in front of me in 38:34, who seems to be getting back into his running and is now working in the city again, so he is hoping to get back down to some of the lunchtime sessions. Dave and I also had a long chat with the winner, John Herbert from Perterborough, who we first met, and shared quite a few beers with, in 2011 in Glasgow when running the Master International XC. John is now 49 and is coming back after a 7 year break from running, he ran 33:11, a very impressive time for his age, but even he had to admit that he could not keep up with the eventual winner of the Half Marathon, James Connor, who now runs for Havering AC, and yesterday ran 1:09:57. See whoever for Fartlek tomorrow, I now only have 6 weeks until my Half Marathon on the 1st Sept so I need to get in some serious training.
Mick Bridgeland
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31-07-19
Like Mick I found the Caterham course pretty tough and never really settled into a rhythm. Had hoped to get under 40mins and was just about on target after 5k but the hill at about 8k but paid to that and I finished in a time of 40:33. Managed to overtake a few people during the race after the first k or 2 once it had settled down a bit. Also got overtaken by a couple of runners which helped me in the latter stages as I tried to stop them getting away. Not sure if the time will help with selection for the international XC but pleased to be 1st M65 which should help plus the bottle of wine I got to take home. Probably need to do a few more 10k races as this one felt hard!
Dave Butler
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31-07-19
Felsted 10k
A rare race report for me as those who have been to the assembly leagues know I’m struggling with my fitness now I don’t have the regular lunchtime run! Altho my running has been on a decline since the 2018 London marathon!! Having done a 5k park run in 21.37 about 6 weeks ago I thought I really need to get myself fit again! So joined a boot camp and trying to run on the other days! I’ve been working locally in Felsted so I thought I would do the 10k, having spent the week in center parcs Ireland eating and drinking it was the best preparations!! As my 5k times have been around 21 mins so thought would set target of 42 mins, this all was ok upto 5k but the warmth and my fitness showed and I ended up finishing in 43.40. Whilst not a great run I was pleased to be out at a race as I feel got some motivation back so know if I stick at it I can lose my gut and the times will improve! Also I think the medal must be one of the biggest and heaviest medals for a 10k! So was worth it for that! Will see whoever is about at the next assembly league!
Sid
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31-07-19
I was also continuing my 'comeback' to racing on Sunday, in the Couch to 5K at the Olympic Park (part of the Muller Anniversary Games, with a free ticket for the afternoon's athletics, if you entered the race – what's not to love about that!).  I was 16 seconds faster than the City Road Race on Tuesday, so hopefully still making progress.  The real reason for this 'report' is to prompt the other Ravens runners, Alice and Anna, into providing their race reports (I may have started and finished at the same point, but they were in a different race to me!)
Alex Anderson
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31-07-19
This was a race that I felt I couldn’t not do.  Like Alex said, it was free to enter and you also got a free ticket to the athletics after. I set off at quite a hard pace and decided to see how long I could hold on for.  I felt comfortable(ish) for the first mile or so and then the hard work began!  About a mile in I overtook a girl just in front of me and once I got past her, I tried to keep an even pace and not let the lady in front of me get too far away.  We both overtook another lady who was slowing but the gap grew between myself and the other lady, and not to my advantage!  I kept telling myself to push on, with the aim of running sub 21.  I starting negotiating with myself and agreed that if I ran sub 21, I wouldn’t have to endure this sort of pace again for a while if I didn’t want to!  Basically, I was on track, so I knew I needed to push on and get the job done. The final part of the race finishes on the track in the Olympic stadium –  as I got on to the track I could see the clock ticking and getting closer to 21 minutes which made me put my foot down.  Said lady finished 14 seconds ahead of me and I came home in 7th place in 20:53.  My first sub 21!  This was a ladies only race for anyone wondering. My splits were:  6:43, 6:40, 7:01, 4:57 (last 0.1). It was great to watch the ladies 5k later, and the men’s mile which was won in 3:49.  Ridiculous!
Anna Crawley
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31-07-19
After being pretty disappointed with last Tuesday, went to MK looking for a better run than my 16:24. The MK event really is fantastic. Awesome environment to run in. Races going all the way from around 22 minutes for 5k (which I appreciate is still bloomin' quick for many but it can be hard to get track races at that pace!) all the way down to the English Champs at the end of the evening. I was racing in the "F" race, which was meant to be paced at 76s / lap which works out at 15:50. There were 22 of us racing I think... which sounds like not very many but is quite a lot when you're all trying to occupy the same ten square meter area behind the pacemaker.  Got bumped around a lot early on. Was fairly well back in pack. Gradually I moved up the field each lap, watching for a "gap" to open up ahead so I didn't end up isolated. Luckily when this did happen I managed to dip out, get around and get tucked back in. Pacer was only going to 3k so about halfway when I was up to about 5th, I stopped moving up as when the pacemaker dropped out, coach had told me to leave a few people ahead. At this point, pacer was going a bit quick so I didn't mind being a few seconds off. By the time the pacer dropped out I was into 4th and sitting behind a lad from Haverhill, at this point it was just a matter of clinging on for dear life. It felt like he was ratcheting up the pace but we were probably actually slowing. The two of us moved up to first and second. I considered trying to take the pace on but decided just to hold and unleash my lethal finishing kick. Unfortunately his and the other lad's kick was slightly more existent than mine. Very happy to come in with 3rd place though and a 15:47 SB for probably my best race since 2016. Celebrated with a fairly ridiculously sized burger slathered in bacon, cheese and onion chutney. Highly recommend for next year. Definitely go and race if you can!
Bryn Reynolds
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16-07-19
Bewl 15
A brief race report from the Bewl 15. Going into this race my intention was to enjoy the experience given it was a bit of a Ravens Stag, was to be my longest race yet and was multi-terrain so wasn't concerned about a particular time. Mike had told me sub 2 hours would be a good time and I managed 1.46. I thought I had arrived in reasonable time before the start but time I had queued up at the bag drop and portaloos, I was near the back of a congested start and so first mile was quite slow at about 7.40 pace. Was not too concerned however and enjoyed picking people off for the majority of the race, catching and passing Mike at around Mile 10. I was tiring a bit by the end particularly as the majority of the hills were in the last 5 miles but felt like had a bit more time if had properly raced it and pleased could take in the beautiful surroundings around the reservoir. Reminded me of the Lake District or Scottish Highlands. Would highly recommend the race and hopefully more Ravens will come along in future years.
Tim Sherman
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16-07-19
Ironman UK
Yes it’s that time of year again. Dave Meller’s annual pilgrimage to Ironman UK! I know I’m not running much with Ravens at the moment, but thought I should give you the all important news - my “streak” of doing every year of Ironman UK continues. And it’s hotting up.... Yesterday  was number 15, one of the other “repeat offenders” DNFd and so now we are down to just two. My training for number 16 starts today!!!!! As for the race, great weather, pleased with my 1:10 swim, but the bike course was brutal resulting in a much slower bike leg - 6:41. “The same for everyone” as they say though, so I’m not complaining.  3:52 for the Marathon which I can’t complain about either - one of those “grind it out” type runs. Overall time 11:56 placing me 147th out of a couple of thousand entrants. Hope to catch up with some of you soon, otherwise must get my entry off for 2020...
David Meller
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16-07-19
Spitfire Scramble
I did this 24 hour race at the weekend with my younger brother Sean and twin brother Stuart.  The race is set in Hornchurch Country Park and the idea is to complete as many laps of the 5.75 mile course.  There are male, female and mixed categories from 6-8 runners, 3-5 runners, pairs and solo.  We were in the male 3-5 with a big disadvantage having only 3 runners whereas most others had 4 of 5.  We were pitched up with my local club Witham Running Club who had a team in the male 7-8 category and another in the mixed pairs. Our in the hope of raising some money. We had 2 goals;

1) to raise £3,000 and for The Sick Childrens Trust after my older brother and his wife experienced a tough time with their third born in October last year and the Sick Children’s Trust provided some amazing help to them over a very difficult time.
2) to try and run 50 miles each over the weekend.

I don’t often do the fundraising thing for what I consider a hobby but we had talked about raising some money for the charity and we had also talked about entering the race as a team so it just made sense to combine the two on this occasion. Our pre-race strategy was to each run a single, a double, a triple, a double and finish on a single. (1,2,3,2,1) Our fuelling strategy was to nip to the shops the day before and pick up some pot noodles, porridge, chocolate & energy bars, fruit etc and just munch on them at various points during the weekend. So at 12pm on Saturday, Stuart led us off with 1 lap, I did 1 then Sean did 1.  Then, in the same order, we did our double laps.  After the doubles we did triple laps from about 7.30pm to 5am – this would give us an extended break and maybe (hopefully) enable us to catch some sleep (wishful thinking!).  My triple was 11pm through to 2am.  It was actually quite enjoyable running at night with a head torch in the park and trails, the only bit I did not enjoy was the actual running as I’d started this with 17 miles already in my legs would finish on 34 miles - from about half-way this became a real struggle for my legs and there was allot of walking but I made it back at around 2am and tried to force myself to drink a protein drink and eat a peanut butter sandwich. I briefly spoke to Stuart who agreed that the double laps we had planned for our next run would be a real struggle so we agreed to alter the plan so that we head out for 1 each and then just grind out these last few laps as singles.   Stuart did his single and then I went out for mine at around 6am.  I found it really hard to get going but I’d consigned myself to some walking which made it a little less daunting 7 laps down and 40 miles completed.  Sean, feeling fit, managed a double and then Stuart another single before my 8th lap.  Legs were stiff to begin with and it was hard to actually get into any rhythm but bizarely, once I got going, I felt quite spritely, so much so I start picking up the pace and managed to finish with some weekend strava PRs and finishing at 7mm pace!  46 miles done. The 9th was mine and our teams last lap so the pressure was off and I could take my time and walk round but I still wanted to do as well as I could in case it cost us a position.  I planned to jog but not beat myself up if I needed to walk for a bit, so I had a few walking rests but I the whole managed to jog round most of it. I finished my 9th lap having run 51.75 miles at about 12:29.  Sean also ran 51.75 miles and Stuart ended up with 8 laps and 46 miles but more importantly it was a great weekend and we managed to reach our target of raising £3,000 for the Sick Childrens Trust.  We finished 6th out of 14 in the Mens 3-5 category but all of the teams above us had 4 or 5 team members.  It was good to see Anna come and give some support being a local event to her and also David Butler taking part with his club.  If we’re considering future team events for Ravens this would definitley be one to consider! When I’m recovered I hope to be back at some of the lunchtime sessions more regularly so hope to see some of you again soon! Finally, Thanks to those that sponsored, your donations are greatly appreciated and hilst we have reached our target and I don’t expect anything more from anyone else , if you do feel like you want to make a donation then please feel free using the link below.
Scott Darney
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16-07-19
Excellent running Scott – well done to you and Dave B! As Scott (kind of) said, this is a really fun event – John and I have done it a couple of times in the past and I’d be up for entering a Ravens team next year if anyone was interested?  Sid said he might be when I mentioned it at the AL the other week – but I don’t think it’s something I fancy doing as a pair so more people are needed!  If it’s something you might be up for, let me know and we can look at getting a team or two entered – dates are 18-19 July 2020.  https://www.spitfirescramble.co.uk/

Whilst I’m emailing, I thought I would give a quick report on a track 5000m race I did on Saturday in Walthamstow.  Ilford struggle to get ladies to run the middle and long distances on the track, hence why I was called upon!  It was my first track race and I ran it pretty much on my own as I didn’t want to set off too fast and blow up.  I enjoyed running on the track and didn’t mind running round in circles, novelty may wear off if I do another!  It was good to have support from John, who did an 800m and 3000m race (my turn to out him for once!) and Cats.  I finished in 5th position (out of 7) in 21:31, which is a PB.  The last ELVIS race I did at the Olympic park was a 5k and my chip time was 21:31 but I’m convinced this was wrong as I started and stopped my watch as I crossed the line and recorded 21:40 so I didn’t take that as a PB.  (I appreciate how pedantic this sounds!)
Anna Crawley
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16-07-19
I also raced my first track race.  Was going over to watch Anna and thought I may as well see if I could be of some use to Ilford. Shortest race I had run previously was 5k, so running in the 800m was going into the unknown.  Think I paced it pretty well, and finished in 2.18.1 and ran a pretty consistent pace being sure not to get sucked in with the guys running 2 minute pace and detonating.  I went past two people on the finishing straight of the first lap, one of them went back past me on the back straight on the second lap and I managed to nail him over the final 80 metres with a decent finish.  My target was 2.30 (but really had no idea what the target should be) and I was pleased with the result.  My watch said 2.17 so I felt hard done by to get a 2.18.10 (bit strange getting concerned about 1 second in a distance I had never run before!).  About an hour and a half later I lined up for the 3000m.  Felt pretty good the first 3-4 laps and then just tried to hand on but slowed a bit.  Came home in 10.39 on my watch, 10.40.1 by those who count and again would have liked to get under 40.  Another race where I didn’t know what to expect but felt happy enough with the end result.  I let the fast guys pull away, settled in with two other guys, and then it became two of us when one dropped off.  I then got dropped with maybe 3 laps to go but he only gradually pulled away.  I thought I had caught him on the finishing straight and put in some hard work to get by him just before the line, and then realized that it was the guy we had dropped as he still had another lap to go! Had a great time and definitely want to do more of the short stuff on the track, and maybe even some longer stuff. Cats gave me some helpful advice on spikes as I was a bit of an amateur on that front.  Loving the spikes over regular running shoes.  Didn’t quite understand at the line up where I should stand when I was told to go in lane 12 and there were only 8 lanes – a bit of learning still to be done on how track stuff works!
John Crawley
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21-06-19
Ranelagh Harriers Richmond 10k
This race was my first 10k since 2017. In a small way, it was also a search for redemption after an impromptu drink with neighbours turned into a bit of a session leading me to run last time here with a stinking hangover and my worst 10k for quite a few years. This one went much better and ended in a narrow PB of 36.20.  Set out at low 3.30s but at 5k my left hamstring became sore and had to ease off, which was frustrating as I had the energy but couldn't push on. Still, without much post-marathon speed work, and having felt a bit sluggish recently, it was a nice surprise to start the summer with a PB. Once I have shaken off this niggle, it provides me with a lot of confidence I can go quicker as the summer progresses.
Russ Beard
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21-06-19
I was back out racing on Saturday afternoon, having heard on Tuesday night at my not so great performance at the Heddington 5K (shame really as its a cracking fast course) about a local-ish 5M. Not raced a 5M for ages so thought I might as well (the only way to run fast, is to run fast). It started at 2.30pm but I needed to be there for 12.30pm to get one of the few precious 25 places left, after online entries had sold out. Thankfully it was a 1 lap, tarmac, country-road style race that I preferred when I raced in Essex/East London (they all love an off-road/trail course around here). Slightly undulating but manageable. Finished 10th lady (def more speedwork required), but first “45+ supervet” providing me with a bottle of red wine (very nice thank you very much) and another dust collector - apologies, I meant trophy, reminding me what I’d just raced. My saving grace is that despite my average performance (35.16), I was barely two minutes off the 3rd lady onwards, and these women were 20 years my junior. So just feeling rather smug there 😊. Still trying out the local clubs in order to make a decision to join one; not being UK affiliated is killing my race entries - £2 a pop more 😉
Vicky Cooper
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21-06-19
Trail Marathon Wales
Well done on great racing Vicky and Russell!  And no shame in being “chicked” by Liz Davies, she has been doing it for years and by the looks of it is no hurry to slow down! My local club took our annual pilgrimage to Coed Y Brenin for the Trial Marathon Wales this weekend where, after 3 attempts at the Half, I decided to give the full marathon a go.  Having run Geneva 5 weeks prior, my training was heavily reliant on my marathon training and just getting the legs ticking over again in between, plus lots of trail and finding a mountain/hill in Dubrovnik to play whilst on holiday out there a week before the race.  The full marathon starts an hour before the half and follows the same route but heads over the other side of the valley for the second 13.1 miles.  It has a total of 4000ft elevation and is your usual mixed of gravel tracks, woodland trail etc that you find in trail races with the views you would expect in Wales – stunning. The first 5 miles went quick but had to have a quick kit change as my running pack was rubbing on my shoulder/back having worn my club vest, so chucked a t shirt on.  After about 8 miles I was feeling tightness in my groin and quads, which felt a bit early but tried not to worry.  At half way I passed in pretty much exactly 2 hours and you pass by the finish line so I left my bag at the water station as it was annoying me. I started to run the second half and make up some ground by overtaking a few people as I felt a bit better but it was short lived as my legs started more tired.  Between 17-20 miles I had some trouble with my groin feeling like it was going to cramp and my right quad was struggling to lift my leg on the climbs so going up hill I took it easy but even going downhill was becoming harder with such tired legs and technical terrain, plus I was fresh from a downhill tumble I’d taken descending Mount Srd in Dubrovnik on my holiday the week before, so I did not want to go down again! Mile 21 took me 18 minutes to climb all 520ft and I was beginning to think the last 5 miles were going to take me a very long time! Luckily, things evened out slightly and I did a bit of walk-running, then it was downhill for a couple of miles so I managed to get a good rhythm without any breaks and even passed someone at mile 25 before the last ½ mile climb into the finish line.  It was a hard climb but I managed to run it all without too much pain to cross the line in 4:14. The usual swearing not to ever do the race again at the finish line but I feel like I could break 4 hours given the right training so who knows for next year!  The winner finished in an astonishing 2:48!  Now that my marathon training is over for the year, I should be back at some of the Tuesday sessions.
Scott Darney
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21-06-19
Horwich 5k - BMAF Road 5k Champs
Yesterday I ran the Horwich 5k. For those of you who don’t know Horwich is a small town near Bolton. The Horwich Festival of Racing runs from the 11th to 16th June and consists of a number of Running, Cycling, Trail Running, Orienteering, Duathlon and Fell Running races. On the Sunday one of the races is the BMAF Road 5k Champs which is a Masters only 5k consisting of 3 and a bit laps of the town on closed roads. The course is basically a slight downhill start followed by three 1 miles loops of the town and is undulating, unfortunately this year the wind was in your face on the slightly downhill part of the course taking away the advantage of that section. Having injured my left hip climbing over the 3 foot 6inch fence around Chelmsford track on the previous Sunday it was 50:50 at the start of last week as to whether I was going to race. Dave Butler also managed to hurt his hip the weekend before when he slipped on his wet floor. As old gits we need to understand our limitations and avoid dangerous situations. Anyway my hip got better and I decided to race. I ended up 5th in my age group in 18:26 which considering my hip (which was fine during the race) and the wind I was very pleased with, 2nd place was 18:04 so it was a close race, unfortunately the winner of my age group ran 16:58 which is way in front of the rest of us, but as he is from Scotland I actually finished 4th Englishman which hopefully will support my case for selection for the International XC race in November. I felt strong during the race, the half marathon training is coming through, but I need more speed ie Fartlek & Reps.
Dave was not so fortunate as his hip did not respond to treatment so he came along as a supporter, basically he drank beer in front on me when we went out for a meal the night before, caught up with a number of old friends before the race, some of whom he had not seen since before he broke his leg, and then chilled out watching the race. Overall a fun weekend away
Mick Bridgeland
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14-06-19
Sri Chimnoy 5km
A warm June evening In Battersea Park and it was time to see what sort of level of fitness I was at after the tibial stress fracture over the winter. There are a series of races on Monday nights in Battersea Park, with £6 entry and the standard ranging from Jonny Hay (sub 15 minute man) to Richard Knowles who is over 80 and ran 36 minutes in this race. They are great races for all standards and ages. A quick exit from work and a swift warm up and we were under starters orders. Don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast!! Obviously I went off too fast! 3:29 for the first km and I knew it was going to be a long day at the office! The second and third kms were 3:36 and 3:38, just about hanging in there. As we turned the corner I could see Cormac Toomey (Clapham chasers legend) was closing in and that the next two kms could be a stream of people coming past. I was really up against it now as the winter off began to hurt, the watch beeped at 3:48. Knowing that a fast finish might rescue the time, I tried to put the foot down and managed to get past a four runners in the last 500m to sneak in at 17:58 with a 3:21 last km. Finishing in 32nd place. Nice to be in under 18 minutes, back to trying to up the mileage and learn how to pace a race!! As always superbly organised races!
William Gallimore
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14-06-19
Nice one Will… 17:58 isn’t too shabby for a comeback race! I’ve raced a couple of times over the last week…
Last Wednesday was the first race in the ELVIS series – it was 5 miles over at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham, and a grass/gravel course.  Last year I had a terrible race so was pretty confident I could better that performance.  I didn’t set off too quickly but slowly began to pick up the pace and pass runners as the race went on.  As I got further in to the race, I wasn’t sure if I was going too hard but I think I paced it pretty well and came home in 38:58 which I was really pleased with. I didn’t look at my watch much at all during the race (something I am quite guilty of doing), and it was nice to run by feel.  I knocked 5 minutes off last years time, which just goes to show how bad that run was!
On Saturday I decided to have a crack at my 5k PB and ventured 5 minutes down the road to Barking parkrun!  My PB stood at 24:06 which I ran at one of the Ravens 5k’s last year (I think in Feb or March).  Last year I set myself the goal of running sub 24 but it didn’t happen!  I think my next quickest 5k was around 24:25 in November.  On Saturday, I thought a PB was on the cards but wasn’t sure by how much.  I set off too fast, as most people do, doubting the 6:50 per mile pace on my watch and putting it down to dodgy sat nav, but I soon settled down and in to the race run.  Just under half a mile in I was met by a club mate from Ilford who was taking it easy and kindly paced me for the rest of the race.  It was good to have him there as I’m pretty sure I would have slowed if I was on my own.  After 3k he made me speed up a bit, which consequently meant I slowed a little towards the end!  My mile splits were: 7:15, 7:07, 7:22 and I finished in 22:28 so PB achieved and better than I expected! 😊  Alice also ran and was first lady home, this was after a casual 10 mile run to parkrun!  It was also nice to have John and his kids cheer me round the course.
Last night was the second ELVIS race, another 5 mile race but this time at Raphael’s Park in Romford, a flat course with a couple of inclines but nothing horrible.  I decided to set off a bit quicker this time and see if I could on.  I began to feel the pace quite early on in to the race but pushed on (something I am getting better at doing) and managed to hold on.  I finished in 37:08 which is a new PB.  (Top tip – it’s easier to get PBs if you don’t race the distance very often 😉) Big thanks to Scott (as marathon training is definitely paying off) and my iron tablets!
Anna Crawley
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14-06-19
PB's tumbling Anna ! As said last night all that marathon training paying off. Actually didn't know you were right behind me last night ! Although you didn't quite catch me I see our chip times were an identical 37.08. I was nearly 2 mins down on last year so may need some training tips from
you :) Re-match at Jubilee Park tomorrow ! Consistently good run from John as well 31.20.
Andy Catton
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14-06-19
European Triathlon Champs
This Sunday I was lucky enough to take part in the European Triathlon Champs over the standard or Olympic distance in Weert in the Netherlands. I qualified for this race back in September last year.  It was a great start to the weekend with British victories in both the elite races with Alistair Brownlee demolishing the men’s field.  It was my turn in the age group races on the Sunday morning. There were 66 of us taking part in my age group wave so the plan was just to go hard and finish as high up the field as possible. The race started with a run in to the lake and a race to the first buoy. I had a pretty good swim coming out in 26.40 although the swim was quite a bit longer than the 1500 meters advertised. This is not unusual in triathlon! On to the bike and the plan was to just bury myself to try and keep in contention. The course was three laps of a pan flat route with a strong wind that just seemed to be in my face whatever direction we cycled. I lost a few places on the bike but came back to T2 in very respectable 1.02.46 for the 40k although this was probably a tad short. Finally on to the run and with the temperature hitting the 30’s I just tried to make up as many places as I could. The run was four laps and the organisers had put two water stations on each lap along with a number of hoses to cool us down. The problem with this is that my feet were soaked leaving me with a feeling that my shoes were going to come off at any time.  Again the run was hard (especially the 1st lap) but I managed to make up about 15 places and only got passed by one fella in my age group. I came home with a run split of 43.01 or 6.55 per mile although the run was a tad long too. The fastest run split came from the winer in 37.59. To be honest I was hoping to run a little quicker but the combination of the heat and the very hard bike probably put paid to that idea. It is tough to run fast when you have already emptied the tank on the bike. I ended up 24th in my age group so a pretty decent effort. It was a great weekend and a real treat to represent Great Britain although it wasn’t cheap. The cost of the entry and all the kit was close to £400. You can see why British Triathlon have been so successful as I am sure a lot of money they make from the age group teams goes to help fund the elites. Although to be fair the support we had was fantastic with two team managers, a mechanic and a physio.
Ian George
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14-06-19
Ian, Many congratulations. It sounds very hard. I was at the opposite end of the spectrum with an 800m race last night in the Eastern Vets, along with Dave. Pleased with 2.24, but nothing compared to your great effort.
Simon LeMare
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14-06-19
I also took part in the European Champs this Sunday in Weert – Ian, I don’t think we’ve met yet but we’ll have to introduce ourselves and bore the others with incessant triathlon chat! I took part in the M30-34 age-group race. I had carefully planned out my race, including my power targets on the bike, and a nice, conservative run pace as I would then be tired and the weather was set to be very hot. However, Sunday morning arrived and, maybe overpowered by adrenaline and caffeine, I decided to go all out for a podium rather than be an also-ran. I drafted the whole swim to conserve energy, then pushed on in the last 200m to emerge in 3rd place (1600m in 22:00). By the end, the others must have been angry at me tapping their toes the whole way round. I hammered the bike, chasing after 1st and 2nd place (and trying to escape the angry mob), who I could see each time we passed on a lap. The course was very fast and flat, and I was pushing along at 51kph on one section which was very slightly downhill and down-wind. I arrived in T2 still in 3rd place, and still on target for my podium (38.6km in 54:52 @42.2kph). My revised target pace for the run was 3:50 for the 10.7km (long, annoyingly). This was optimistic, but I thought possible should I be fitter than I realised or motivated by the cheering crowds. My first kilometre took 3:53 and felt quite comfortable, so I was in good spirits. Unfortunately, a stitch started to develop in my abdomen around 1.5k. I tried to push on, but it got so painful that I had to slow down. After a couple of failed attempts to increase my pace again, the stitch cleared around 6k in. My pace improved, but it was countered by two huge blisters developing on my feet from my new racing flats (rookie error). I was able to put on a burst for the last stretch and came home in 45:16, finishing 9th in my age group. As you can see in the last photo, I was hurting quite a bit. Post-race analysis showed that even with the 3:50 pace, I would have still been passed and finished 5th, as the front guys were doing 3:30s! It seems that yet more running training is prescribed! The fartlek and intervals sessions have been doing me good, as my stand-alone 5k time has demonstrated, and I seriously recommend them to everyone. I’m now taking a week or two to enjoy my fitness before training resumes for the World Champs in September. On Wednesday I set my 20 minute power record, then tomorrow I’m off to Southend parkrun to go for my parkrun PB (sub-18), followed by reclaiming my swimming KOM at TriFarm in Chelmsford :D
James Simmons
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14-06-19
Southend Half Marathon
Been a long time since I have done a race report but I got talked into doing the Southend half marathon yesterday by one of the customers at the bar. Meant a 6 weeks training plan where I could only run twice a week at the most on Mondays and Tuesdays, so did not do as much training as I hoped for.  For once it was perfect conditions for the race on Sunday, hardly any wind and about 18c. Those who have done this race in the past know it can be windy along the seafront and usually a lot hotter. Decided to line up behind the 1:45 pacer and see what happens during the race, it's actually a pleasant experience to do a run not to be chasing a pb. Race went well as was keeping the pacer in sight though not staying with him. I know after 8 miles was still at 8 minute mile pace but then dropped back a little to finish in 1:47:51 which is about 3 minutes slower than 2018, but a lot quicker than I was doing in training so very happy with time.  Thanks to Phil Priest for the shout outs and encouragement round the course. Fingers crossed will be in London tomorrow and have sorted out a shower and somewhere to store bag so hope to see some of you out for a run. Not sure if I can manage one of the fartlek sessions though!
Andrew Ferguson
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14-06-19
Last night I ran the Blaydon Race. It’s the holy grail of the North East club running scene; probably because of the song more than anything else. But despite it being a race on my doorstep practically all my life (excluding my 6 years daan saaf) and its long tradition, it’s one I had never done before.
Its 5.4 miles from Newcastle city centre finishing in the exotic surroundings of Morrisons car park in Blaydon (a suburb in the charming town of Gateshead). Every year is a sell-out, with almost 5,000 taking part this year, mostly club runners. So the standard is pretty good, with the top 15 av. sub 5. I was a fair way behind them in 116th place (31:41 – av. 5:52’s). I was pretty pleased with that though. Managed to get into a good rhythm early on and ground out a fairly consistent pace. Shame it wasn’t a 10k as I feel I could have carried on to run a 10k PB! Decent goodie bag at the end, with a fancy t-shirt, a bottle of Blaydon Ale and a stottie cake (Geordie delicacy). I’d recommend it if you fancy a trip up north next summer. Plenty of room at Maison de Mackem.
David Wilkinson
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14-06-19
Well done Dave, good to read a race report from you and to see you still doing well (great pace).  I too took on a local race yesterday. Lacock running festival (a mile from my house, be rude not to) offered 1K fun run, 5K-ish (but longer), 10K and HM. My OH adjudicated the races and raced the 5K. First man 18.43, first woman 18.44, my OH 3rd in 19.17. It was actually exciting to see the woman on the bloke’s shoulder. For the 10K, (two laps of the 5K route), there were 4 waves, I was in the 3rd wave. Four ladies (me included) right at the start. By mile 1, I was in the lead and wondered if I’d gone off too fast (6.42 followed by 6.36)!! I tried to stick with it but slight undulations meant my pace slipped. I was ahead but had a young Team Bath girl chipping away. I was beginning to tired but her breathing was quite laboured. When she pushed so did I but I knew come the rise again, she could get past. I was actually starting to feel for her, she was clearly putting in more effort and I felt she deserved the win more. I encouraged her on but then pushed a little and she did eventually pass me, finishing 10s ahead. She was ecstatic, absolutely over the moon and came over to tell me I’d pushed her to a new PB. To be fair, I’d done pretty well myself and I was happy with my result. So from all the waves, she was 2nd and I was 3rd, but first Vet, just 15s between all 3 of us. I finished in 42.57. Not seen a 10K start with 42 for a while so feeling pretty chuffed, especially considering I’ve done next to zero speedwork. Our prize? A free entry into one of their races, of our choice! 😳😳. Next race tomorrow night, 5K supposedly on fast, flat tarmac. Not sure how my legs will respond.
Vicky Cooper
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4-06-19
Sydney Half Marathon
On Wednesday last week I decided spend £73 to enter the Sydney half marathon. I’ve had my most consistent bit of running over the last 2 weeks being in Australia – 2 runs a week. Furthest run was 6 miles as a result of getting lost. Race start was 6:45am which meant a 5:55am wake up. A heavy night in an Italian the night before sabotaged grabbing some breakfast for the morning. Only a coffee shop was open at 6:15am, so I decided banana loaf was the next best option and 1 of your 5 a day. Managed about a third before my stomach warned me about pushing any further. Jogged to the start and realised I had registered for an estimated finish time of 3 hours 20 minutes. Fortunately fancy dress isn’t big in Australia running races, so no humiliation to contend with. Set off like I meant business, jostling with 2 others at the front of our wave under the impression there were photographers at the start. After a speedy first mile, I decided to drop off. This was due to a lack of photographers and the first hill approached. I feel that the modern definition of ‘undulating’ has many different interpretations. Sydney Morning Herald’s definition is the worst case of false advertising I’ve come across. The course was hilly and whilst an early start seemed sensible, it sooner got upto 20 degrees without much shade. After 4 miles I decided to take on the first gel I was given at the previous water station. It was branded ‘winner’ and had the texture of extreme gloop. It took a bit of chewing but looking at the branding inspired me to swallow rather than spit. I was also under the impression it would help me out in 20 minutes time.  20 minutes later I was tapping my chest as the combination of banana loaf and gloop started to mix similar to the feeling around 3am after having beer, wine, aperol, and shots of limoncello with not enough pizza. I continued to run, tapping my chest and swallowing hoping it would pass. Mile 9 it had passed, so I had another sash of gloop – a chocolate lime flavour – definitely a sample the sponsor was trying to dispose of en-masse! After much crossing over and turning corners up hills, we entered the botanical gardens and I pushed on to finish in 1:37:28. Almost 10 minutes slower than my last half in October but considering the lack of everything you should do before a half marathon, I was pleased to have done it.
The downsides were;
-          Lack of support around the course
-          Narrow roads and bottlenecks due to the route
-          No t-shirt momento – you could order one for an extra £30 but they sold out of all sizes except XXL some weeks before the event
-          Lack of freebies after the event/no goodie bag
Positives:
-          Starting earlier means you can spend the rest of the day at the beach
-          Challenging course makes it more interesting
-          You see some of the sights around the city
-          Regular water stations
Graham Hollingdale
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4-06-19
Burnham-on-Crouch 10k
I was looking for a 10k to enter this weekend after some Ravens recommended last year that it’s worth taking advantage of marathon training and racing something a few weeks out, so I went to Burnham-on-crouch  for their annual 10k. We started in the field, ran 2 miles on tarmac where I managed to overtake a couple of people, then ran around the edge of farmers fields for 1.5 miles which was thick grass and on uneven ground so it wasn’t much fun.  Then we climbed up onto the seawall and ran on more trail that was directly into the wind for about 2 miles.  Finally back on the tarmac for a 0.5m finish. I knew a PB was out of the window as soon as we hit the trail, but I managed to hold onto 5th place from mile 1 through  to the finish line which was nice because they presented prizes to the top 5 men and women so I got a £10 voucher for my efforts.  38:49 which is not close to a PB but it was never going to be a fast day. I’m on holiday next week so can’t make the Assembly League but will be there for the next one – good luck everyone!
Scott Darney
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4-06-19
Well done Scott!
This weekend I did the Moonlight Half marathon in Jeselo (beach town near Venice) on Saturday evening, which starts at 7.30pm – or as the Italian race instructions say “about 7.30pm” ... “the start time might change a bit depending on organizing needs”.  The best thing about this race were actually the race instructions (sent on the day of the race): “On Saturday 25th try to be early in advance; in case of sunny weather many people will go to the beach and you might find queues”. “Venice marathon will place 5 music groups to entertain both spectators and runners.  In this way the difficult moments that a runner can face could be washed away with a smile.” “After the race… let’s party with us all at the Moonlight Beach Party!” This is my kind of race!!!!  Unfortunately it really wasn’t and having stockpiled my body in the 3 days prior with Aperol Spritz and a lot of crisps, I was totally unprepared for the 13 miles in 26 degrees.  Typically, I started off sub 6mm and then petered off into the realms of 7mm by miles 10, 11 and 12.  Finished in 1.25.56, 5th female – beaten by 2 Kenyans, 1 Ethiopian (1.13, 1.15 and 1.18) and an Italian called Ricotta Giovanna.  A similar story for the men, the winning time being 1.01.37, with all top 6 under 1.05 and Kenyans. The race was run by BMW so was a fantastic event, very relaxed and fun (though a very good standard of runners, because the elevation gain was just 123ft according to Strava).  There was also live streaming video so my family watched it at the dinner table from Kent.  Got a couple of worried texts from my Mum as I think she was expecting me over the finish line a little sooner.  I forgot my Ravens top but it says Ravens City of London Running Club on the results which I think looks quite cool! Celebrated for absolutely no reason with loads more Aperol and a tuna toastie, which gave both me and my friend food poisoning, rounding off an extremely wonderful few days in the sun!!
Alice Whiley
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4-06-19
Hull Half Marathon
Yesterday I ran the Hull Half Marathon – why I hear you ask. This was one of three qualifying half marathons, you basically had to finish in the top 4 in your age group to be selected to run for England against the Celtic Nations in another Half Marathon, the Maidenhead Half, on the 1st Sept. This is an England Athletics initiative rather than BMAF and despite the fact that you have to pay for your own transport & race entry plus buy the England kit it still was enough to motivate me to run a Half for the first time in three years. The fun was that you had no idea where were in your age group you just had to do your best and hope it was enough. I managed to come 2nd M60 in a time of 1:26:43 so I achieved the objective. Luckily it was not quite as hot in Hull as it was down south, but it was humid and close, and the race started at 9am which helped a bit. All I can say is that Half Marathons are hard work ! The plan was to start steadily and drift through the first 5 miles and then try to hang on at the same pace for the next 8.1. I achieved the first part of the plan but the next 8.1 miles were painful. It was quite a twisty course and it was a bit windy in places but basically I found it hard work to hang on to a reasonable pace – more long runs and tempo runs needed ! In the last 2 miles we ran with the 10k runners who had started 45 mins after the Half Marathon, and as luck would have it I found myself running with 10K runners who were running the same pace as me and this kept me going to the finish. At the end there was a good race goody bag and a nice race t-shirt plus they were also giving out pints of alcohol free beer which tasted really good at 10:30 in the morning after a tough race – beer is obviously good for you !
Mick Bridgeland
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4-06-19
I ran around Dorking 10 mile very easily in 73 odd minutes after a tough session the night before. Lovely hot weather for a course that's undulating and downright hilly in parts. The North Downs formed a beautiful vista as a backdrop to the race. Highly recommended albeit not one for a PB...
Bryn Reynolds
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16-05-19
Ipswich Twilight 5k
I ran the Ipswich Twilight 5k on Saturday which was a great race, including the national championships this year, with waved starts going on throughout the afternoon culminating in the Women’s elite & men’s sub 20 wave which I was in at 7pm, and finally the men’s elite wave at 7.30pm. The sun came out and the course is surrounded on one side by bars which gave a pretty loud and raucous atmosphere by the later races which was great. The course is narrow at the start and loops around the marina 2.5times, and I snuck under 17mins by the smallest margin, so I’m a little behind where I was earlier in the year. Laura Weightman won the women’s elite in 15.21, and Nick Goolab missed Mo’s UK record by 3 seconds in 13.34, knocking 16secs off his time last year.
Neil Parry
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16-05-19
I also  raced at Ipswich twilight 5k but not fast enough for the sub 20 min wave so entered the 20 to 30 min wave. Going into race feeling strong so thought would be around 20 mins. Started strong 1st mile 6 min min miling then faded but finished in 19.09 which was a pb by 15 mins from 2 years ago. Good to see training working. On to the next one
David Miller
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16-05-19
Geneva Marathon
I chose a later marathon this year because I wanted to run as many XC races as I could without interfering with my long runs.  My training had only just really started before I went on holiday, ran a week then got sick for a week and had to start rebuilding with about 10 weeks left.  When I got down to it, my training seemed to be going ok but this year I have done a little coaching some marathon plan writing for friends and clubmates plus our very own Anna Crawley and this  took allot more time out of me than I expected.  I wouldn’t change it though as it was a great experience for me and I learnt allot. My original plan after setting a clean sweep of PB’s from 5k up to Marathon in 2018 was to run for 2:50 but after the setbacks I adjusted this to 2:55.  Then going into the taper it was questionable whether I would be in shape for this as I really felt that I’d been allot more relaxed/complacent about my training this time round but I was making sure I nailed the long run and the speed session each week. Anyway, race day arrived and I felt good in the morning of the race.  I ran the first few miles relatively easy to prevent myself going off too hard.  I didn’t really have any issues hitting marathon pace but I had issues maintaining marathon pace because the course changes from tarmac road, dirt track and was also quite undulating.  It wasn’t steep but it just wasn’t really flat enough to get any real momentum.  Then there was the wind which was against for most of the first 7-8 miles.  Still I felt ok and went through half way in just under 1:29 which was about right seeing as my plan was to finish the second half stronger seeing as it was downhill.  I also wanted to enjoy this marathon so I made sure I high-fived the kids, waved at the crowd and made the most of the support from the locals which was very encouraging because the organisers had put a Swiss flag on my race number, not sure why it wasn’t GB flag but still, it was a big plus! I then turned onto a lovely nice tarmac road which I knew would lead all the way back to the finish in the city feeling relatively good with about 6 miles to go.  At 22 miles we went under a tunnel and there was a DJ so I had a little dance as I ran passed (I say dance – it could probably be mistaken for just a very odd running style!) and tried not to sprint too hard down a long steep hill but I did want to make the most of it to some degree.  But it got me.  I think the hill destroyed my legs (as well as the prior 22 miles) as when we got to the flat and the final 4 miles it felt really hard.  A little niggle on my Achilles was starting to burn and my inner thigh started giving me some warning signs of cramp.  These final 4 miles, much like any marathon were about survival and brining it home. I crossed the line in 2:58:08 which is 3min PB and my first sub 3.  Having not had a drink since new years eve I started thinking about beer during the final few miles and how much I wanted one - my first words when crossed the line and saw my brother were “I need a beer”.  Now onto Trail Marathon Wales in 1 months time which I won’t be running anywhere near as hard!
Scott Darney
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26-04-19
LITTLE BROMLEY 10K
I got a late entry for as this Mick’s son Zach wasn’t running.  After such a long injury plan was to be on the right side of 39 and beat my club mate Pete Chubb who just beat me in the Essex 5 2 weeks ago.  And not beaten too badly by Mick! I did a sensible warm up with the race winner Tim Woulfe, and then off! I actually turned my Garmin to K.  Pacing pretty even, worst K 3.56 and best 3.45 in the last (up hill) K.  38.07, beat Pete, and Mick beat me by about 15s. Job done. V60 winner (Paul Mingay/Colchester (boo)) 35.16 and V70 (Anthony Nixon/Ilford) 40.00.
Robin McCoy
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26-04-19
As Robin mentioned I also ran the Little Bromley 10K yesterday. If you has asked me on Tues after Fartlek I would have said I was feeling good and looking forward to the race. Unfortunately I woke up on Weds and my back was really painful, I had trouble getting dressed and putting my shoes on – the back improved as the week went on but I was still in two minds on Saturday whether to run or not. As it turned out the back was not too bad, it just took the edge off of my confidence, and I didn’t feel too bad in the first half but I started to slow in the second half – I think that this was more down to not having done any road races for nearly a year, I have lost the art of holding a pace for 10k, in xc races the pace is changing all the time and you have tough up hills and then recover on the downs. Anyway I finished in 37:58, which I was pleased with all things considered, and at least having organised Robin’s entry he had the decency not to beat me. I will be out for a jog at lunchtime.
Mick Bridgeland
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26-04-19
Brighton Marathon
Yesterday saw my second marathon (I ran the Madrid 7 years ago aged 21 but I was slow and lazy back then so I’m not sure I’ll count it). Leading up to the race saw a foot injury with six weeks no training then two weeks before a nasty bout of tonsilitis so my hopes weren’t high for the day, although I approached the start line feeling well just a little undertrained. I went out far too quick at 3:30-3:40 marathon pace for the first half, not sure what I was thinking but it was such a well supported race and I was having fun so I just got carried away. I started to suffer at mile 17 where I started vomiting on the course alarming myself, the other runners and the spectators.This didn’t stop until 1 hour after the race so safe to say today I’m trying to eat and drink everything in sight now. I saw Donna after a particularly bad bout which gave me a nice lift and luckily I had some friends that cheered me on at various points while I was suffering into the horrible headwind and kept me going to the end. Crossed the line which a chip time 4:05 which I’m really happy with given the circumstances. Despite everything I loved the race and saw a few Ravens out on the course so will look out for their reports, not sure what cause the nausea/sickness as it was like nothing I’d experienced whilst exercising before, perhaps the gels weren’t to my liking or just punishment for going out too fast. I haven’t been able to run with the ravens for ages as I’m over in Holborn/travelling until March next year but I’ll be back then and will hopefully try to make some sessions over the summer. On to the Frankfurt in October where I hope to use the experience from Brighton as a lesson of what not to do in marathon running. Hopefully see some Ravens there too!
Astrid Ainley
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26-04-19
Goodwood Running Grand Prix
While every other runner was busy in Brighton, I ran a marathon yesterday around the Goodwood motor circuit (just west of Brighton). I’m in training for Transvulcania in 4 weeks so thought that this would be a good interim test of how on track I am for that race. The track is 2.3 miles around meaning the marathon distance started with a small up and back followed by 11 laps. The marathon started first with shorter distances joining in along the way. I started off pretty well this time because I am generally terrible at pacing myself but in this case I had a couple of club runners to follow. The first half of the track loop was in the sun and nice and warm but the back half was cold with a huge chilly head wind. So I was constantly not looking forward to the back 1 mile all 11 times around. By half way I was feeling pretty good so stepped up the pace a bit. This proved to be just a bit too fast and I eventually struggled a bit around the last lap to the finish. Overall managing to cross in 3:01:17. Given how it went I am feeling pretty on track for 4 weeks time. Still, a bit disappointing to not go under 3 hours. My pacing is getting better so I will give it another shot soon enough. Hope everyone’s running weekend went well.
Kris McCullough
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26-04-19
Paris Roubaix
Paris - Roubaix cycle sportive .... very fun time was had in France, although at times it felt that the cold and the persistent headwind were as much of a challenge as the cobbles. And the cobbles .... what an experience - hard to describe exactly but even though I had read about them and seen videos of them, nothing quite prepares you for the actual experience. There are 29 sections of the 'pave' varying from just under 1km to longest at 3.7km. Hitting the First few sections it was a case of understanding the best way to tackle them and the realisation hitting home of what was ahead and also the disbelief of the battering that the bikes were taking. Our starting group of 6 fragmented after first few sections and I spent a very pleasant day with 2 of Ian's East Essex clubmates, making steady progress and getting to the velodrome in Roubaix after just over 7 hours and 172km (55km of which was 'pave') of riding and enjoying looping the track at the finish before everything got cleared for the professional race on Sunday. A few sections stand out in my jarred memory of the day, in particular the infamous 'Trouee d'Arenberg', one of the 3 hardest 5* sections, where the cobbles we massive and there was no remorse whatsoever. Ian had a good ride too, although hit a minor mechanical issue towards the end. Body still a bit shaken from it all but not as overall in bad shape as I expected to be, although not sat on a saddle again yet! My thanks to Ian for organising the trip over and giving me my first taster of the continental classics.
Rupert Holden
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26-04-19
City v Wharf 10k Relay
Thanks to Alex for organising this race. There was some confusion at the beginning of the race as to the format as it was understood that that 2 man team could run 2 consecutive laps each but as it turned out the baton had to be handed over after each leg so the runners had to run 2 x 2.5k. We also had to decide between the 4 man team which of us would run 2 legs as unfortunately Will had to pull out due to advice from his physio.  Luckily we got this right by asking Tim to run 2 legs and he delivered 2 excellent runs. Jonathon Pontin was running for JLT instead of the Ravens but did at least wear his vest.  He and his brother were the race winners with a time of 33:12 and his splits were 7:57 and 8:10 for his 2 x 2.5k legs. Second place was the Ravens 4 man team of Tim Sherman, Scott Darney, Ryan Day and Tim Sherman (again!) with a time of 33:27. David Wilkinson and Stuart Fraser were sixth overall and the fourth 2 man team with a time of 34:59. I understand there is a City v Wharf 5k event in September too?
Ravens Splits below:
Ravens 1 (2nd overall / 1st 4 man team)
1 Tim                     8:20
2 Scott                  8:29
3 Ryan                   8:18
4 Tim                     8:18

Ravens 2 (6th overall / 4th 2 man team)
1 Stuart                8:47
2 David                 8:37
3 Stuart                8:54
4 David                 8:39
Scott Darney
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12-04-19
Colchester half marathon
Heading to the start line of the Colchester half marathon yesterday I was full of apprehension as I’ve been training hard for the VLM and my legs had been feeling terrible all week. At the start line it was great to meet some friendly Ravens faces in Neil, Scott and Ryan which did wonders for my nerves. The first couple of miles are quick with some steep downhill sections. At this point I was wishing I had longer legs as I watched a couple of gazelle like people bound down the hills whilst I was struggling to keep up! You then hit a steep hill back into the town with some other climbs up to around mile 5. At no point was I feeling particularly comfortable, but seeing my split for mile 5 caused me to have a few words with myself about how badly I was running and that I needed to sort myself out (a few more choice words may have been uttered). The second half is run around the countryside outside Colchester which is a much more pleasant run and I also started picking off runners in front of me which always acts as a good motivation. At mile 8 I thought my chances of a sub 80 min were long gone but just told myself to push as hard as I could. Miraculously by mile 11 it seemed that if could just keep close to 6mm for the final 2 I could do it. The final downhill into the finish gave me a bit of bonus pace and I came over the line in 1 hour 19:43 which meant a pb by a massive 2 secs! All felt pretty uncomfortable but I’ll take that as a bonus for a day when I feel a bit better.
Tim Harman
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12-04-19
As Tim says, I ran my first road race of the year at the Colchester HM on Sunday and was a bit apprehensive as to how I would fair my training has been interrupted with holiday and then illness for most of the last 7 weeks, with last week being my first proper full week back after re-building. In the warm up there was a definite chill in the air and I was pleased I put my gloves on but after a couple of minutes in the start area things warmed up and I quickly offloaded my gloves. It was great to see so many familiar faces on the start line and a few Ravens in Neil, Tim and Ryan.  The clear blue sky added to what I felt was a really warm and friendly atmosphere. I estimated that I was probably in shape for somewhere around 83mins but if all went well then maybe I could sneak under my current PB of 82:27.  I decided to head off at close to marathon pace and move through the gears to try and make it a progressive run.  Ultimately, I was right on plan for the first half of the race but I did not have those final faster gears in me for the second half to really push on so I just tried to hold my pace with the odd effort here and there to see if there was something left for a fast finish (there wasn’t!) and held my pace to come home in 83:40.  It’s a fair way from what I was hoping for when I registered for the race but as we all know, marathon training throws up so many challenges that you have to adapt and run as best you can in given fitness, conditions and circumstances etc.   Still 7 weeks left to train so plenty of big runs to go! Also, I’d not run Colchester HM since my first HM 4 years ago and it might have been something to do with the weather but I really enjoyed this race.  The support was brilliant for those areas in and around the town and then through the finish line, which really does help.  Highly recommend the race.
Scott Darney
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12-04-19
As mentioned by Scott and Tim already, I ran the Colchester Half Marathon as well this weekend. My pre-race target was also 83 minutes and this was going to plan up until around 10 miles where I started to feel the heat in my legs (which haven’t had the training they really should have done over the winter). This led to a very slow last three miles and I ended up finishing in a time of 1:25:20. Not too bad but looking forward to racing the shorter 5k’s (assembly league) that are coming up. All in all the CHM is a great event to get back the running motivation that has been lacking recently.
Ryan Day
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12-04-19
Kingston Spring Run
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to enter a race that starts at 8am on Mother’s Day when the clocks go forward because actually it’s a really terrible idea. Freezing cold wind did nothing to improve my mood at the start, as we waited in the pen. I then realised I’d forgotten my watch so my friend agreed to be my personal pacer, since going off like a rocket and blowing up half way is a bit of a habit for me. The first three miles are on a sandy towpath which is surprisingly difficult to run on as your shoes tend to slide with each step, but we managed jazz hands for the photographer at mile 5, always important I think. At 6 m my personal pacer put on her fancy jawbone headphones. I had no headphones so decided to sing, to myself obviously no one wants to be issued a noise abatement notice 5 miles into a race. I requested something motivational from my brain DJ but seemingly the only song available was shaddap you face by Joe Dolce (younger Ravens may want to you tube it, it’s quite a tune). Fortunately at mile 6 I saw an abandoned shoe, and was able to distract myself for several miles wondering how you lose a shoe and on the side of a main road in Kingston. I once lost a shoe at a Madness concert but that’s a different story. We were on pavement beside a road at this stage with quite a few crossings all of which were marshalled exceptionally well. By now I was quite in need of a drink and delighted to see a water station but baffled to see all the tops had been taken off the bottles. I’m seriously considering practicing drinking from a bottle without a top (that’s the bottle without a top not me) whilst running as this has been an issue for me before. As we passed mile 7 my friend said she was going to have to make a toilet stop. Having not even thought about it until that point I was instantly desperate for a wee. Luckily we were back on the towpath with some conveniently placed bushes. We jumped in (a first in synchronised weeing for me) and leapt back onto the path totally shocking a male runner who screamed like, well like two women had jumped out of a bush in front of him. 200 meters further down the path we passed a public toilet. The race is an 8 mile or two loops for the 16 mile. I’ve done lapped races before but wasn’t mentally prepared to come within 20 meters of the finish line before heading off for a second lap. By mile 14 I began to doubt the excellent pacing by my friend as she picked up the pace and by mile 15 I decided I couldn’t keep up, she told me in no uncertain terms that I was to keep going and that we were going to pass the guy in front of us and the girl in front of him. We did manage to pass both runners we’d targeted and I was delighted to then see the finish line come into view. Time 2.31 pretty pleased with that.
Donna Henry
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12-04-19
BRAINTREE 5* (AND ESSEX CHAMPS)
I decided to run the above as I had already paid, and there was a free race t shirt, to add to the 5,000 I already have.  Some time ago (i.e. when I entered) I thought it would be my return to competitive (geriatric (Essex)) racing.  I trained hard at Springfield Striders Annual Dinner (and no) Dance, and warmed down with a couple of large gin and tonics.  Because the clocks went forward, the alarm went off in the middle of the night.  Set off at sub 6 pace and then had a procession of old timers over take me.  Tottered home in 31.19.  Nearly 80% WAVA score (all that counts nowadays).  Finished 60 and 11th V50 which shows that road  running is dominated by old people.  Also seen El Presidente of Essex Athletics and Dave Miller.  *That’s miles BTW, things haven’t got that bad yet.
Robin McCoy
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12-04-19
As robin noted on did the above on Sunday, not sure what form I was so just run it as hard as I could, 1st 2.5 miles ok then struggled with the wind and hills managed to cross line in 32.48 which is best time for a 5 miler in 2 years so happy with result. Finished in 91st place and 15 I think in the vet 50 group which is full of quality runners. AL on Thursday hope legs recover by then.
Dave Miller
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12-04-19
Serpentine Last Friday 5k/Colchester half
I ran the serpentine 5k in hyde park on what turned out to be a pretty warm Friday lunchtime. I’d only run it once before and they had used a different course due to the winter wonderland last time. I needn’t have worried about finding the start, the crowds were visible from quite a way off surrounding the bandstand. 300 people started the race which heads around the lake anti clockwise. The start was pretty busy and I got a shove in the back and a telling off from one disgruntled runner for an unspecified misdemeanour. It soon thinned out and I tried to focus on sticking in behind a group going at a reasonable pace. The first 3km were manageable but km 4 coming back on the southern side of the lake was a real grind and I was overtaken by a handful of runners who had paced it better. Emptied the tank for the final km and managed to squeeze in just under 17mins (16:55), which was 24th place on the day. A pb by 25 seconds so I was pretty happy to trot back to the tube and return to the office; although if I’d have kept going east I would have just about made it in time for a pint at the Raven, next time. It’s a nice race, well organised, the paths are wide enough that there is plenty of room for runners without crashing into pedestrians. I don’t know if it was deliberate, but you are no longer charged to use the loo beforehand!
A slightly belated and very short  report from the Colchester half which has been widely covered already: lovely weather, ran 10miles at marathon pace and a bit faster for the last 5k, finished in 1.25.56 without feeling too tired. Would second the positive comments, it’s a really fun race, lots of support, and only a short warm up from the train station to the start line at the football club if you are coming from London.
Neil Parry
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12-04-19
Manchester Marathon
This is a long story with plenty of self-imposed melodrama. The eventful weekend started on Friday lunch when after a gentle jog around Wapping, my knee swelled to the size of a small football. High levels of panic, ice and ibuprofen followed from then until Sunday morning. It got progressively more comfortable and when I arrived in Manchester around 5pm on Saturday was fine for walking but I didn’t want to test it with a jog. I had the fortune of picking up a hotel room right at the finish line from a friend who was injured and didn’t travel. It was perfectly placed for the race and for cricket fans, having a balcony with an unbelievable view over Old Trafford, photo attached. I was able to leave the hotel at around 8.30 and wander 10mins to the start line. I’d highly recommend it if you are running Manchester in the future. The start area was super busy and lots and lots of people were crowded around the 3hr pacer for the start – there were a number of tight turns in the first few km’s which made it quite uncomfortable. Once we were out on the open road it was much better. I was trying to run easily and hope that I heard no grumblings from my knee… Its not the most attractive course to run around, but pleasant enough, there was a lot of support as you travel around the surrounding suburbs, Temperley in particular was as loud as I’ve ever heard a road race. I started to push away from the 3hr pacer to give a bit of cushion, and kept the pace a little faster than 3hrs for the next 10miles or so without feeling like I was pushing too hard. For the last 10k I thought I had enough in the tank to accelerate and take a bit of time off which went fine until a bit of cramp brought that to a halt at around 40km, by which point I could almost see old Trafford and I hobbled back as fast as I could. I finished in 2.56.10 which is by far the fastest marathon I’ve ever run (3.18 in 2013 being my prior best). Looking at the state of the people finishing near me I spent the next hour or so wondering if I should have pushed harder…that soon got forgotten amongst train beers and M&S sausage rolls. PS. My knee is now absolutely fine….apparently only needed 42.2km to loosen it up
Neil Parry
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22-03-19
Essex 20 mile race
Yesterday I raced the above it was a windy and wetish morning. Not run further than 15 miles since VLM last April and not doing a spring marathon but liked the idea of running with other people, plain was to Finish and not bet myself up. Managed to get in a group who were running about 7 min miling but after about 6 miles the pace was too much so backed off, felt ok until 17 miles and managed to hang onto a little group at this stage who help me cross the line in 2.27.42 a pb of about 2 mins. Nice to see Vicky at the start and saw Andy caton jogging around the course as Well, felt really rough at the end so knew I pushed myself.
Dave Miller
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22-03-19
I also run the Essex 20 mile race as part of the Kent team. Felt quiet tired all week, had no idea where I would come but my 2 priorities were to try and make sure I was in top 3 from Kent team out of 4 and to run something close to marathon pace time. I managed to come 2nd in the Kent team and run 1:57:19 which is probably about right. Pace was reasonably consistent but the run felt patchy and struggled in parts though this may have just been the wind. Essex won the team event comfortably, Kent finished 5th though 5nd to 5th were all quite close in the standings. One of the Kent girls comfortably won the women’s race by almost 10 minutes running 1:59,. Having looked up the Kent team beforehand I had a 3rd priority of not being chicked by Lucy, but did not want to mention this in case I sounded like a male chauvinist pig. My watch tells me to rest for 3 days, though hopefully will be out for a run at lunch.
James Macdonald
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22-03-19
Popular race – I was in Rochford as well; stupidly early for a 10am start and ended up hanging around for 90mins. On the positive side there wasn’t a queue for parking/toilets/numbers. I was also there to see big bags of sparkly new county vests being delivered for the serious runners. I was in two minds on how to “race” the distance, either to just go for it or run what I thought was marathon pace; in the end enthusiasm got the better of me and I just went for it, trying to stick to 4min/km’s (~6.30ish for the imperially minded) and see how long until i started to fade. The course was three laps with a couple of shortish hills sandwiching a longer downhill section. The first 2 laps passed without much incident apart from the weight of carrying four gels and some car keys meant my shorts kept falling down. On the last lap it felt like the wind really got up, and I was running slower even on the downhill section. The last hill was a real grind, and several runners who had paced the distance better came past me in the last 3miles including 2 from Witham, one from East London and one from Ilford. I finished in 2.10.29 for 65th place which felt as good as I could have run on the day, and hopefully translates to a long held goal of a sub 3hr marathon in Manchester next month. I saw Anna on the course who was looking very comfortable and Scott before the start as well. Special mention to  Robin for finding me a person willing to transfer their place just ahead of the deadline. Just to emphasise James’ point on the Essex team, the men were the top 4 positions and won the overall men’s race by 20mins or so, which I thought was hugely impressive.
Neil Parry
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22-03-19
Vicky Park Half
I signed up to this one on a whim on Thursday, realising that time was ticking if I wanted to squeeze in a pre-London race. Glad I did: it turned out to be a decent confidence boost. Set off with a small group going a bit quick and knocked off a 6.09. They picked up the pace and I knew that wasn't sustainable so pegged it back a touch and ran consistent 6.20ish miles from then on. As a 6 and a bit lap course, there was a constant stream of people to pass, but I was in a group of 1 going that pace, so a pretty uneventful race flying solo, battling the seemingly constant head wind. Finished 7th in 1.22.44; 1st old bloke. Around 50s short of a PB but was not expecting to get that close and nice to be heading in the right direction. Good race if in search of a PB: flat, wide paths and there's something oddly satisfying and encouraging about ticking off manageable 2ish mile laps and not worrying about the miles themselves.
Russ Beard
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22-03-19
ESSEX ROAD RELAYS
This Saturday was my comeback road race.  Given my abject lack of speed work, I figured 18.30 was achievable, compared to 18.02 last year.  I was warming up for the 3rd and final leg, I bumped into Scott Rice who told me the gale force winds would add 40 seconds to my normal time.  Anyway, set-off with Springfield in 3rd place.  For the first 4k I was pretty much on my own, passing a youth from Colchester and  a V40 from Colchester.  Got to 4K. Medal in the bag! What could go wrong? At this exact moment, Paul Mingay of Tiptree, who despite bring over 60, ran 2.47 in the Seville Marathon, appeared on my shoulder.  He beat me by 16 seconds over the last K, pushing us into 4th place, or as my daughter kindly said, “1st loser”.  19.21, so wind adjusted, about right! Anyway good to be back, and no apparent damage from the run.  Back to first leg next time! Also spotted, young Ryan Day. Out for reps on Thursday!
Robin McCoy
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22-03-19
It was some trepidation that I travelled to Wrexham on Sunday morning for my first road marathon in 3 years. Unsure of my confidence over the distance and also unsettled weather meant a nervousness on the start line. We were running alongside the runners in the concurrent 20 mile race, doing an extra 6.2 mile loop in miles 10-16. However, things settled down nicely for the first hour, where we had a bit of descent and wind in our favour and I banked some good miles in 6:30 – 6:40 range. The just as we got to end of mile 9, the real fun started. There had been mention of water on the road and had rather dismissed this. There was a dip in the country lanes and then we hit a 'wet' section of about 400m. At first it was about 6 inches deep and enough to get shoes wet, but then we came around a corner and I could see runners ahead walking and up to their shorts in water. A hard slog through dirty freezing water ensued. At this point, any idea of getting a 'time' vanished – as we exited, water sloshing around in the shoes (leading to bad blistering later) and freezing legs meant I was shivering for next couple of miles as I tried to get back into my stride. And then for us 'lucky' marathoners we had to go around the same loop again at mile 15, again getting the ice cold dip. After that is was survival – it had become a completely solo effort but fortunately there were slower 20 miler and half marathon runners to chase down and catch. The last 5 miles of a marathon are always tough, but I was not helped by the headwind and climbing we had to do in this final section. Managed to hold my pace well and was very pleased with my effort, passing into the lead of my age cat in the last mile to a very disgruntled look from the guy as I passed him. So, first M50, 9th overall, time for what it was worth was 3:05, so happy that I am in good sub 3 form on a more normal situation. Overall, one of the most friendly and chatty races I have done – maybe it was the adverse conditions, but overall good feeling mean that I will remember this one in different ways to usual!
Rupert Holden
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1-03-19
National XC Champs (Raven's World XC Champs) - Saturday 23rd Feb, Harewood House nr Leeds
On Saturday I ran the National XC Champs at Harewood House nr Leeds. It was a fantastic venue for the Nationals and the weather was more like a summers day than February and overall the event was very well organised and I will definitely go back if it is held there again. The course was approx. 12k, 2 laps of 6k each. The surface was grass, with next to no mud but the course was “rolling”, in fact there were a couple of steep hills on each lap but luckily there were some fast downhill sections as well. Apart from the very congested start were over 2000 runners charge up the hill from the start and then squash into the relatively thin course I really enjoyed the course and the race. For the first mile or so it was tough trying to squeeze past people and dodge runners who were slowing down but after that I got into my running and felt strong throughout the race, even up the hills, and spent most of the time overtaking people. I think this was my best XC race of the season, which is good as I have the BMAF XC Champs in Belfast on the 9th March. I came 953rd in the race in a time of 49:08. I didn’t see anyone else I knew during the race, but I see from the results that the results of the Raven’s World XC Champs were –
Arif 607th 46:03
Keith 874th 48:26
Chris Tuck 884th 48:31
Me 953rd 49:08
Luke 1290th 52:32
Well done Arif, a great run
Mick Bridgeland
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1-03-19
Bit late but just thought I’d add a short report. I saw Keith early on and was a little worried that he’d show his class (jason had worried me with stories of his great training performances) but overtook him early on and never heard from him again. Otherwise saw no ravens. I ran with 2 clubmates who are normally better than me. This time they decided to to mark me and allow me to do all the work. I dropped one but the other stuck to me like glue and on the final hill put in a burst which I managed to shadow but we then proceeded into a long downhill and final straight and he got a gap and I was done. But happy overall. Driest XC I’ve ever done altough it was hard & rutted and brutal on the feet and the 2 climbs were ‘challenging. Overall enjoyed it tremendously and highly recommend it. Next year I hear its in Nottingham and would be great to get a Ravens contingent.
Arif Merali
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22-02-19
Valentine's 10k
Yesterday I ran the Valentine’s 10k, although it’s not a pb course I ran it last year so thought it would be a good indication of how Marathon training was going. It’s a strange start to the race as you line up in time based pens and then begin a slow procession to the actual start line, because we were walking I didn’t realise we were so close to the start and was busy chatting and didn’t notice at first that we’d gone over the start mats. The first km passes Chessington World of adventures but this is pretty much the only highlight of the race. The first part of the route is on a road without pavements in pretty fast moving traffic, I had decided to stay where I was rather than play chicken with the speeding traffic but ahead of me were two ladies running side by side chatting I risked passing them which put me behind a little old lady. I decided to continue passing people until I found someone acceptable to run behind, however just as I passed deep heat man a bus passed a little too close and I decided to stick it out slightly in front of him. At 3k we moved onto pavements and I was able to pass a good few people. I spotted a lady from a local running club ahead, as I usually finish in front of her I decided she was my target and managed to pass her on an uphill section. I spotted what I thought was a photographer ahead and was just preparing to grin when I realised it was a just a supporter of a runner ahead as he cheered for Charlie, so Charlie became my new target. At 5km there was a water stop and I hoped Charlie would need a drink but he grabbed a water, took a glup and flung it down without pause. By 7k we were on another uphill section of the course with only a couple of runners between Charlie and me. I passed a guy in black and who tried to stay with me so I put a little extra effort in to lose him and Charlie came within touching distance. However the 16 miles from my long run Friday were starting to take their toll and I was slowing down. I saw the shadow of the guy in black behind me and tried to push on, I then noticed he’d grown a ponytail, and heard him thank the marshal in a very feminine voice.Lluckily we’d reached to top of the hill and 9k and I was able to push on but I’d lost sight of Charlie. Finished in 52.39 three minutes slower than last year when I wasn’t marathon training, which was disappointing.
Donna Henry
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22-02-19
Well done Donna! It's tough racing on tired marathon training legs. It will all come good on the day! I ran it pacing a friend to a sub 37 10k. Quite pleased with the pacing as whilst the mile splits varied by about 40 seconds per mile from fastest to slowest, gradient adjusted pace on Strava suggests that the range was just 10 seconds and we came in just under on 36:53. I actually quite liked the course but agree in the first km or so it felt pretty hairy with the traffic. Thankfully it thinned out pretty quickly up front. Downhill 2nd and 3rd miles meant we built up a nice little time cushion and then held it well over the mostly uphill second half. We overtook about 4 runners in the second half. Will definitely do it again next year - hopefully racing.
Bryn Reynolds
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22-02-19
Hampton Court Half
On Sunday I ran the Hampton Court Half. A few guys from work were running it, and it’s a scheduled race on the Clapham Chasers’ marathon programme, so was looking forwards to a good challenge and decent support. My most recent HM was the Oxford Half which came a week after a careless postman had taken me off my bike and dislocated a couple of fingers, and 5 days after I’d had a dog sink it’s teeth into my tasty calf whilst running in France. So I had been feeling confident that my preparation could only be better, and Oxford had at least given me a reasonably low bar of 2:32 to beat. As it was I picked up a hip flexor injury in the Surrey XC and I’d stupidly not given it much opportunity to recover, as Mick can attest to after dragging me around on a limpy run a couple of weeks back. I’d reconciled myself to not running, but eventually succumbed to some pressure from colleagues on Friday and decided to turn up. As I stepped out my house on the morning of the race I realised I had left my usual running shoes at work, and as I stepped on the train I realised I had left my race number and chip at home. Finally, as the starting gun fired, I realised that the front pen was much smaller that I’d expected and I was actually in the second pen, and watched all those who would have set a good pace run into the distance. Right, excuses over. The race started on closed roads for the first mile or so, which gave the race a chance to spread out a little before hitting some more narrow paths. I pulled ahead of those in my pen hoping to catch some of those ahead of me. This meant that I ran the first 3-4 miles more or less on my own, which was actually quite fortunate as much of the start of the race was on a tight footpath by the side of a main road. Once the route hit the river I was passing the stragglers from the front group, which periodically gave me something to work towards. I passed the half-way point in 41mins which was on target, but I was feeling that my legs just didn’t have the spring that I would usually expect at that point. Passing through Kingston gave a good boost from supporters out in cafes enjoying the sun, and by the time that we turned to head back West down the river I had joined a group of 5 who were setting a reasonable pace together. I couldn’t tell if I was impressed by, or hated, the man who was videoing himself throughout the race and giving a running commentary (pun fully intended) on how he was doing. In the end though, even a high-five from an impressively dressed Henry VIII lookalike wasn’t enough to put the energy back in my legs and I found myself really struggling to keep pace for the last 3 miles. Came home in 1:26:26 by the end, which lops 12 minutes off my PB (in large part thanks the great training from all you guys) but leaves me still wanting to get back and keep pushing it down.
Sam Bullen
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22-02-19
Seville Marathon - 17 February 2019
Sorry, it's a bit long...  I ran the above on Sunday and was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been ahead of a marathon, possibly except for my very first one! This was because unusually for me, I had a time in mind and was honest when asked so most people knew I was aiming for 3.23. The one thing I forgot to factor into my fantastic plan, was the Garmin distance; as we all know this is actually longer than the “real” marathon distance! Weather conditions were perfect, the pens were easy to identify and I was desperately looking around for an English vest to at least say hiya in my 3.15-3.30 pen. There were three 3.15 pacers & for 5 silly seconds I considered following them, then realised I’d blow very, very quickly & dismissed the idea as soon as it came.  I didn’t hear the start per se but we were soon moving forward & the clock ticked over to 50 seconds as I crossed the start line. Garmin started and I was off, concentrating on sticking as closely as possible to 7.45 pace. To be fair, that’s more or less what I did throughout the entire race. In a way it was nice to be running in miles because I didn’t need to worry about my Garmin not marrying up with the markers. However, I soon tired of the K markets because there’s so flipping many of them - 42 all up.

The course used to start/finish in the stadium but work is being carried out there now, so it was started next to the aquarium in the City. Lovely wide closed roads did help to ease potential congestion and for the most part, you could follow the green line. European city marathons don’t tend to use metal barriers to keep crowds back and there are few marshals so you do find spectators gathering closer and closer together, so they are sometimes stood on the line you’re trying to follow. I saw a couple of guys running in sandals, not sure if they were real running sandals or if they were chancing their luck. The miles ticked by and I was religiously checking my pace which seemed to be going to plan. An English guy asked me what pace I was aiming for and when I told him he said he was aiming for 3.30; I advised him he might want to check his pace & drop back if that really was his goal. I saw him again about mile 10 next to me and I just felt sorry for him. I must look him up to see how he fared. I had known pretty much where I was until this point then I didn’t recognise the area and stopped trying, just concentrating. I was taking on a couple of sips of energy drink at each station, conscious I didn’t want to run out of energy.  I went through halfway on 1.42, disappointed to see that time as the maths in my head told me I should have gone through in around 1.40. However, I was still running strong and had 50 seconds in the bank from the start line, so tried to stay optimistic I could still achieve 3.23 or at least a PB. By 28K I was beginning to despair of the K markers, simply in your face and never seeming to click over into the 30s. Finally we made 30K and I was hanging on to see 32K as I could count down sensibly from there. It arrived and next was 35K I looked for, because there were mats every 5K so they helped somewhat. At 38K I was beginning to feel fatigued and being overtaken - not what I’m used to at this distance in a marathon. More energy drinks at the next station and I tried not to slow too much as I knew it would be difficult to get going back to MP.  As some of the Spanish guys passed me, they were really kind and indicated to me to run with them to keep pace.  A sweet gesture but not one I was capable of following.  A guy offered me a gel; initially I refused it then changed my mind. Sadly it was too little too late and didn’t kick in. 40K marker came into sight and I have never known 2K to feel so hard or take so long. A few corners to finish and a few fake plastic air filled finisher arches before you could see the blue one at the end with the clock on it. Gun time was 3.26.47, chip time 3.25.54. My second best marathon time but still disappointing given I thought I was running at the right pace and had an opportunity for a PB. I had a chat with some English runners at the finish who were pleased with their times; a serpentine guy got his sub-3.27 and a female Wimbledon Windmiller got her 3.23 (grrr) knocking 3 mins off her PB. I’m hoping to be able to look at my stats on the Seville website to see how I fared compared to others and look at my 5K splits. I know I ran an even paced race, flagging at the last two miles with a 8.01 and an 8.17 mile. Next stop London where I hope to be able to run at 7.40 pace (hopefully I’ll be recovered) as long as the other runners don’t get in my way :-). What I need to remember is the mile markers probably won’t agree with my Garmin (if they have mile markers) and that slowing down at water stations is inevitable whether for yourself or other runners slowing down/crossing in front of you to get water. I will also probably take on a gel about mile 20/21 to help me finish strong. Happy to take on any other advice.
Vicky Cooper
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15-02-19
Saturday was the final Essex xc League race of the season at Gloucester Park, Basildon. I started the race 24 points ahead of Dave, so basically he had to beat me by 25 places to take the M60 trophy. It was just as well I had this large buffer as Dave finished the closest he has been to me all season, just 3 places and 11 secs behind me, I was 55th and Dave 58th. Unfortunately even though I felt good, despite the Southerns the week before, I think the fact that both Dave and I finished about 30 places higher that our normal finishing positions was down to less people running the race rather than any massive improvement on our part. Basildon was its usual mixture of muddy, soaking wet flat and the artificial hill that is just as hard to run down as it is up, in fact I took the steepest downhill very carefully, I get more of a chicken the older I get ! Next up is the National XC Champs on the 23rd Feb followed by the BMAF Champs in Belfast on the 9th March – nearly the end of what always seems a long xc season.
PS It was a double Bridgeland celebration as my son won the U17 race and took the U17 Trophy.
Mick Bridgeland
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15-02-19
Good report Mick and well done. Please pass on my congratulations to Zach. Not much to add except I was very pleased with my run in getting close to Mick. Was always a tall order to do much better than that. Think it was probably my best XC run since coming back from my leg break (have to stop using that excuse soon!) except Swansea back in November which was in easier running conditions. As usual in XC races, I started out steadily and then gradually picked up places until lap 2 (it was a 2 lap race x 4K) when I spied Mick ahead. I almost caught Mick at the top of the man-made hill but he was then stronger going downhill and on the flat; though we were not far apart at the finish.
Dave Butler
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15-02-19
Yesterday I run the Deal Half marathon in Kent. I had never run it before, its about an hour drive away and by all accounts it’s a challenging undulating course, but I thought it would be a nice change from a long run. On the drive down was torrential rain and I knew if was going to be windy. My mate who had run it a few years ago said don’t go for a time but just race it. I settled on his advice and the first mile was quite slow but I found myself along with my mate Chris Biddle from Dartford in the lead. We are often quite close in races, Me and Chris run together for first 2-3 miles swapping the lead but then I seemed to make a few meters up on him, I gradually pulled away but was always wary as the undulating course was certainly true, by half way I could not remember running on a flat bit. The 2nd half remained undulating but I felt strong and in general I was running quicker (probably partly wind assisted) a few looks back and I could see no-body. To cut a long story short I ended up winning the race finished in 1:16:48, which is off PB but given the course and conditions was well happy. I was about 90 seconds clear of 2nd and 2 minutes ahead of Chris in 3rd. The win also qualifies me to run for Kent next month in a 20 mile race which is a bonus! My mum also run and went really well finishing in 2:12, this is even more impressive by the fact she managed to full over quite heavily tripping on a cub a couple of minutes before the race started. My day could not even be ruined by Chelsea, even though they tried their best to ruin it for me.
James Macdonald
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15-02-19
Great run James, I also raced in Kent yesterday I turned up at ashford 10k not in the best of health had a bad cold all week. Anyway decided to give it a crack last did this race about 10 years ago and finished around 49 mins so knew I could bet that. I Started right at the front and got in a good group and run on the shoulder of a young lady who helped me push on, the course very undulating and the wind in my face for 1st half then coming home wind behind me, then hit a lovely hill at 8k. Was hanging on for dear life the young lady had left me and tired to catch her but nothing left in me, managed to cross line in 41 mins, finishing in 22nd place and 4th in the over 50th cat. Pleased with my morning work back to training until the next time.
Dave Miller
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15-02-19
Good stuff mate. On the other end of the spectrum I ran Surrey League Croydon XC on Sat and nearly came top 100! (104) (I think I was 150 something 2nd match). Latched onto Bryn for the last 2/3 miles and he did a sterling job in winding quite a few people in – ended up beating me by 5 places (10 secs). A clubmate who beat me by 40s at the southerms pipped me on the line so looks like progress. Weirdly the muddiest conditions of the season. Did 20m yesterday (inadvertently) so buggered today.
Next stop Nationals!
Arif Merali
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15-02-19
The Gentleman of Surrey Cross-Country League - Official Race Report - Division 1, Race 4, Lloyd Park - 9th February in the 2019th year of our lord. Beat Arif.
Bryn Reynolds
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15-02-19
I ran in the Div 2 race over the same course and found the muddy section of the last lap utterly draining but was pleased to score (for the first time ever) and finish n 55th ahead of club mates who usually beat me.  With promotion back to Div 1, I can look forward to adding circa 100 to that place next season.
Russ Beard
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15-02-19
Calne Smart Smasher 10K
I raced the above 10K in Wiltshire (where I now live) on Sunday.  It's a race I've never done before; it's a sort of trail, muddy, splashy race along an old railway line (and back) that is wide enough to fit 2/3 runners.  When you return, you see the back markers and some of them weren't particularly keen on the puddles so were trying to avoid them - no idea why!  It wasn't a particularly competitive field and I finished first lady in a time of 44.47 - not too bad for the type of race.  I didn't give it everything as I have Seville marathon this Sunday.
Vicky Cooper
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1-02-19
Victoria Park Half 5th Jan
A slightly belated race report from 5th Jan, on account of not coming back to work until this week from the holidays, which I'd recommend highly. The race was organised by run through, who do a load of these type of races, I think they do this particular one once a quarter, and I have also had the misfortune to run around the 1mile Olympic park road cycling circuit 13.1 times; this should be avoided at all costs. The race includes a 5k and 10k, which start later and is made up of laps of the park in a teardrop shape. I'm sure no one needs to be told that Victoria Park is incredibly flat, so aside from a spot of Christmas norovirus, I was quite hopeful of a reasonable time. A few seriously quick runners set off into the distance from the start and I stuck with a group of about 6 runners some way behind them. It was really cold I found help keep my hr down nicely, and as the laps wore on the group got smaller until there was just me left. For the last couple of laps the 10k runners started coming through so it was a nice distraction to try and stay with a few of them for a kilometre or so before they moved off or finished, although there were increasing numbers of other runners to weave through as well. After what seemed like a never-ending half lap at the end where we kept turning left when the finish was to the right, a mad dash saw me creep in under 80mins (79.39) for the first time, and beat my pb from early in 2018 by over 4mins. With a perfectly functioning train service I was out and back from Ipswich  in a little over 5hrs, and in the pub in time for lunch! Nice race if a little repetitive, very fast course if you are looking for a spring pb in April.
Neil Parry
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1-02-19
Benfleet 15
A rare item from me a ‘Race Report’ Sunday morning saw me run the Benfleet 15, which starts at the Mountain Bike Olympic Bike course and is mainly run on trails with some road. Driving down realised I had left my trail shoes at home, but didn’t turn back as was under the impression the course would be frozen. I have not run anywhere 15 miles for a long time, so plan was take it steady and not worry too much about time. Stuck to plan, first 4 miles felt very hilly and very slippery with wrong shoes, but didn’t fall over and felt good, course then seemed to flatten out and get more consistent pace. Ticked off the miles until the return back into park ten pace dropped a bit due to terrain. Crossed line in 1:53 which reasonably happy with as only 2 mins slower than when last ran it 7 years ago. Thanks to Phil P who gave encouragement on course, a couple of others Raven were out but leave up to them for reports
Pat Young
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1-02-19
I also ran Benfleet 15 on Sunday. Having ran this for the last 5 years I would say this was the best conditions I’ve seen for the race, no mud, no wind and no snow almost didn’t feel like the B15! Saw John and Pat at the start and as usual went off too fast for the first downhill mile. Managed to keep a more consistent pace on the flat bits mid race and pass a few on the hills at the end the last hill at the finish is always a tough ask but got to the top without walking. 4 min course pb for me finishing 1:55 and missing out on the gold medal by 2 places in position 102. The winner was Chris Burgoyne (Springfield Striders) by 3 seconds in 1:30
Gary Pitman
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1-02-19
South of England Cross Country Champs at Parliament Hill
On Saturday I ran/took part in the South of England Cross country Champs at Parliament Hill. I saw a number of fellow Ravens before/after/during the race, I will leave them to do their own reports. For some reason I end up doing this race every year, I think I enjoy the occasion rather than the actual race and I am usually already there watching my son so I might as well run. When it come to the actual race I realise that 9 miles is further than I have run since the previous year’s race and even when it is relatively dry like it was on Saturday it is still a muddy & hilly and is the toughest xc race that I have run. Having said all that I still enjoy it, the mass start up the hill, the crush at the top of the hill which means that you have to practically walk, the dread as you remember how hilly/muddy the far end of the course is and finally the mad downhill/flat finish where if you manage to stay on your feet you end up trying to out sprint whoever is next to you. The race itself went OK, except my periformis/hamstring started to feel sore/tender at the start of the final lap and for a while I was concerned about whether I was going to finish. I ended up 676th in 1:03:03. I must admit the 8:50min/mile I ran between mile 6 and 7, a mile that started at the bottom of a hill and finished at the top of the last major uphill on the course did not help my overall time. Once I got on the flat again I managed to get back down to nearer 7mins/mile for the next mile and finished the final flat/downhill half mile at sub 6min/mile pace.  The race turned out to be only 8.53 miles, not that I was complaining. A short 4 mile jog yesterday at a very slow pace was interesting !
Mick Bridgeland
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1-02-19
I also run the South of England Champs on Saturday. Was not sure how I would go, have run a lot of miles last few weeks, felt quite niggly, but figured would be fine running on soft ground at Parliament Hill. I arrived early as my mum was running in the senior women race (she being at the very senior end of the spectrum), this meant had plenty of time to watch some other races and bump into a couple of ravens before the start. The start is a tough climb, I wanted to start quick as knew of the hold ups at the top of the hill, though I wanted to do this could not really get into it at the start and entered the crush at the top of the hill. Turning the corner I’m always amazed how far ahead the front runners already are. The first lap was just about getting round and avoiding all obstacles which you can’t see due to the amount of people you are running with. At the end of the first lap I felt good and even better when realised the course was probably going to be short of the 9 miles, this not only benefitted how much further I had to go, but I also was going out Saturday night and the earlier I finished the better. Laps 2 and 3 were nicer running I a spread out field. The course in general was dry compared to previous years, with just patched of slippery mud. It is hard to judge how well you run as pace goes out the window, I finished in 54:14 and 196th place, I felt strong on the course and beat a few mates who had finished in front of me at the Kent Champs 3 weeks earlier, so think I am progressing well. The next few weeks I aim to cut back a little on my mileage and try a few faster runs. Having said this my trains were a nightmare this morning so I may go back to running to work.
James Macdonald
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1-02-19
I also ran. Although mine can be summarised fairly easily and reflects the general emotions I have of running. 1. Was really happy to be there and running again. 2. Shortly followed by half way through the second lap a strong realisation how much fitness I’ve lost with 2 months off and wished I hadn’t bothered. 3. A relief to actually finish. 4. Disappointment when seeing my time and finishing position. (Over 500 places higher than last year). 5. Loved the post race feeling of accomplishment and dissecting the race and talking everything running with a few beers after. So a mixed day out but I am slowly getting back to regular running just need to see how long now it takes to get fit. Going to get back to sessions and full training when I return from my trip in Feb. So hoping to be back out with everyone then. Work permitting.
Chris Tuck
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1-02-19
I too participated in the Southern X-Country, finishing 93/703 in the Senior Women's Race, in a time of 32:51. While not my highest finish it was nearly 3 minutes faster than last year's National over the same (similar?!?) course. Although this time round it was somewhat less of a quagmire, the focus on running rather than combining with other sports (rowing/cycling) is clearly paying off,  as is the investment in lunchtime seminars on the insurance industry ;)
Rachel Lund
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1-02-19
I also ran at Parliament hill on Saturday (which explains why I was so far behind in today’s session…) – it was my first time running there and I really enjoyed it.  I thought it would be a one-off experience and I would vow to never to do it again, but I definitely think I’ll be back! The race went ok and I finished 579/703, 44:49. I wasn’t too far behind a couple of ladies from a local club, I finished ahead of one of them at the last XC I did, and the other one beat me, so I was alright with that!  I was just a mere 12 minutes behind Rachel, which leaves me feeling a bit bemused as to why I didn’t get a mention in John’s ‘well done’ below…. maybe next year ;) If anyone’s thinking about doing it next year, I would highly recommend.  The only disclaimer I would give is that the men’s race is nearly double the distance of the ladies!
Anna Crawley
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1-02-19
Thanks for my shout out also. I enjoyed the race also – great for me that it was relatively dry – just didn’t have the strength towards the end to push on (lack of hills training & long runs I think). Incredibly fast finish and after 9 on Sunday I have been knackered ever since! Great race/ event – I sincerely think everyone should do this if they get a chance. Ps. Congrats to Dave Mellor – 1st raven ever to run it ravens first claim.
Arif Merali
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1-02-19
OK - I suppose I should write a race report as well... As Arif says, I was first of the first claim Ravens! Plus I didn’t get chicked! AND I got a whole bunch of Strava PRs! OK - I was the only first claim Raven, the race was run under gender apartheid rules i.e. separate races for men and women, and last time I did this race was pre-2009, known to many as the pre-Strava years or “the good old days”. There isn’t much else to say that hasn’t been said, other than if you take the “start steady” approach up the hill at the start you will probably be greeted by a bottleneck at the top and, as was in my case, bodies literally all over the place in the muddy descent on the other side. It’s a great course though - “proper” cross country. Main thing to say is that the start of this race is nothing short of iconic - your running career really isn’t complete until you’ve done this, so hope some of you have a go next year. My time of 1:07 unselfishly sets the bar pretty low for a new club record for first claimers,  so come on guys and gals - see you there next year...
Dave Meller
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9-01-19
Regents Park 10km
After having a rather unsatisfying run in the December run in the Mornington Chasers 10km series I lined up for my first race of 2019 hoping for a better result. The course as ever is fairly uninspiring with 3 laps around one area of the park. With quite a lot of club vests lining up on the start line I was hopeful that there might be someone at a similar pace to me to help with keeping the pace high. This was all going nicely to plan after the first lap when a group of 3 of us were pacing each other through. Unfortunately at the end of the first lap a speedy Belgrave Harrier came past and one of our group went with him and I didn’t have the speed to go with the move. The next 2.5 miles the remaining 2 of us ran together but just before the 8km mark he dropped out entirely. I felt like I was still running well and just had to push on to the finish. Due to the 3 lap course by the middle to end of the final lap there is a lot of traffic to pass which can be awkward. I came over the line in 36:26 which is a 35 second pb, so pretty pleased and gives a good base from which to start marathon training from. Pretty even splits and managed to quicker 3rd lap than second which was pleasing.
Tim Harman
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9-01-19
Tadworth 10 mile (or who ate all the mince pies)
This is my 4th year of entering this race, it’s early date meaning it’s a good indicator of the level of damage caused by Christmas mince pie misdemeanours. It also used to score highly in the rubbish memento category, I once received two left hand gloves although this year there was a medal. The race HQ is the Grandstand on Epsom Downs race course which means proper toilets and with a 11.30 am start it’s one of the most civilised races around. The start is on the exposed downs, where everyone huddles together like penguins to try to keep warm, although I’m sure penguins don’t have to avoid deep heat woman and BO man. The start was a slow affair up a steady incline and across the actual course itself, the next part of the race goes down a relatively steep hill on a stony path with those wishing to overtake running on the grass alongside the path. I’ve never experienced race rage before but I got quite agitated at a man on the overtaking grass, going at the slow path speed, however we soon started on another uphill where he left me behind. I was already starting to struggle and decided to distract myself observing the other runners and taking bets about which ones would thank the marshals, I usually manage a nod or a thumbs up at best so I’m in awe of runners who have the breath to thank every marshal. I was also quite pleased to spot a mobile cloakroom as I needed to loose my long sleeve top but it turned out just to be a lady with too many layers tied round her. Thankfully we were now on a long downhill part of the course and I was able to claw back some places, carefully avoiding the pothole that took me out last year, then the route flattens out and goes through the village, past the pond on a relatively narrow path where I encountered a couple running side by side effectively blocking the path, I resisted the temptation to push them in the pond and briefly skipped into the road. The next part of the run is through the woods and up yet another hill onto a sandy path which I found almost impossible to run on, at the end of the sandy track is the start of the second lap and I again struggled up the hill. I was running in my Raven’s vest (of course) and a fellow runner remarked that he at first thought I was a misplaced jockey, in response I gasped that I wished I had a horse, we turned the next corner and no word of a lie there were a row of horses on the path, astounded by my luck I wished openly and loudly for a million pounds but sadly not even a dropped pond coin appeared. I was getting steadily slower as my lack of fitness showed and the last up hill nearly defeated me but I was determined not to walk, as I came down the last hill I received a shout of “sprint finish raven”, I’m not sure if it was someone with excellent eyesight who read my top or someone who knew me, so apologies if  I ignored someone! I eventually finished a minute slower than last year in 1.35 so in summary I should have eaten a couple (of boxes) less mince pies. See everyone out there soon.
Donna Henry
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9-01-19
Well done Donna! I was the one who cheered you on down the final hill as I spotted the Ravens vest. Good race for me as I come back from about 6 months out last year trying to resolve achilles troubles. Set off very easy at the start and let myself build into the race. The course is incredibly undulating - there's not more than few hundred metres I'd guess where you're running on the flat. Started out in about 12th place. Worked up to 6th over the first 2-3 miles. Had 5th place dangling in sight for another 2 miles until just after halfway where I threw myself down the stupidly steep hill and past him. 4th place was in sight and coming back. I know the runner pretty well considering we were each others best man. Got the gap down to about 100m when my wife yelled out "Go on Bryn" which promptly let him know I was chasing so he picked it up! Closed the gap a bit by the end but couldn't quite get close enough. Nice little sprint at the end to come in at just under 60 minutes with a 30 second negative split. Really enjoyable little race and very well organised.
Bryn Reynolds
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9-01-19
Essex XC champs
Great pleasure to present Mick's son Zach with his county bronze (U17) on Saturday at Writtle. The old man was 105 in the senior race. Battle of the Ravens was won by John Crawley placing an excellent 95th, Mick 40 seconds back in 105th very closely followed by Scott Darney 2 sec back in 106th. I had a decent "training" jog round to finish 174th over the new short 10k county champs distance. Surprisingly stiff doing my 50 mins in forest today but should be there for first "fartlek" of the new year tomorrow.
Andy Catton
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9-01-19
70th in Kent for me. Feels better than 164th in the last surrey league.
Arif Merali
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