Reports 2019 - Ravens Runners London

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Race Reports for 2019
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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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