Reports 2020 - Ravens Runners London

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Race Reports for 2020
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6-03-20
Headed over to the small town of Armagh last Thursday for the Armagh 5k race. Eased off for a couple of days to try and make sure I’d be fresh. Course is 4.75 loops of the town centre green. Each lap is basically flat but with a small climb and descent at the far end. Knew I’d be in a bit over my head having done no speedwork in 6 months apart from a few parkruns. Deliberately lined up at the back as I didn’t have Arif to sit on. 50m into the race there was an almighty tumble and about 30 runners went down. Luckily I was able to dart to the side and avoid it. Photo below shows how close it was! I felt like I was actually in the thick of the race then as folks streamed back past me. I then started actually going past a few runners. Albeit one of them was 60+ year old Tommy Hughes. Tucked in with a team mate and ran with him for a loop then kicked on. I was going past a few runners but not many. I had an idea I was on for a reasonable time but not certain and was trying to do the maths in my head as I went past the finish clock each time. Last lap I was just trying to hold it together. Few went past me but as we approached the finish I had just enough for a kick. Score on the doors was 212th place out of about 230 runners but a pleasing 15:40 chip time for a road 5k PB albeit slightly slower than my 15:18 short leg at National 12 and 15:31 track 5,000 PB. That said I was over a stone lighter when I did both of those.
Bryn Reynolds
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6-03-20
Brighton Half
While the proper runners where getting muddy in Nottingham this weekend, I headed down to Brighton for the third year in a row.  Got a PB here last year (1:31:59) which I haven’t troubled since and with the predicted wet and windy weather didn’t anticipate getting close this time round.  The course is a double out and back on the seafront starting from the lower promenade near the pier, heading East for 2.5 miles and then turning back and running all the way up to Hove (with a quick mile or so diversion inland near the town centre) before turning back again at 10 miles for a 5k home straight.  Slight change from previous years where you went further east and not so far into town. While the predicted rain mostly stayed away, the 40+ mph gusts didn’t.  The first section was ok with the wind up the fairly gentle incline but when I turned I was about 20 odd seconds off PB pace and the 1:30 pacer had already disappeared from view so any vague remaining thoughts of chasing the PB were gone.  The first part into the wind wasn’t too bad as it’s back down the same incline however once you were through the town section and back onto the seafront miles 7 to 10 were probably some of the most miserable I’ve run (on road).  Seeing people literally getting blown into each other at times.  When you finally got to Hove and turned it was such a relief and having saved some legs on that middle section I was able to give it a good kick and overtake a lot of people (though only the same ones who’d overtaken me in the previous few miles!).  I eventually came home in 1:37:34 which I’ll take in the circumstances given that I wasn’t really trying too hard in the middle (spot the gradual slowdown below).  The surprise was finding that on the final stretch I actually beat my 5k PB by 19 seconds!  Can’t really count it as the wind was so strong but it was certainly a lot more fun flying along the promenade in a tail wind with big waves crashing against the sea wall.  And nice to know that after 10 tough miles I was still able to stretch the legs a bit rather than just amble to the end, pretty certain that was the Tuesday/Thursday sessions coming into play.  Race started by Fatboy Slim who also ran it (2:19).

Big Half next week then Lisbon in mid March.  Hopefully Big Half won’t be as windy as last year, getting pretty fed up of wind now!  Lisbon is only two weeks before Paris Marathon so I doubt I’ll be pushing much there.
Paul Brandreth
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6-03-20
Hampton Court Half
Like Paul I didn’t head North and opted for the Hampton Court half marathon instead. I wasn’t sure on times or pacing and thought I’d see how it panned out with the first half mainly down wind and second half along the river and into the wind. In hindsight I should have made a better plan than trying to wing it.

I got to half way on track to be inside 1:25 but faded pretty badly into the wind in the second half whilst having to run on my own into the wind and it was a real struggle to finish well, I came in at 1:26:04. Great event, along the river and always a treat to see Henry VIII cheering you on at mile 10!  I need to get down to some Ravens reps to get back in shape!
William Gallimore
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6-03-20
I also did the Hampton Court Half on Sunday. I was running it for the first time, but it turns out the course is identical to the Kingston Half which I did in 2018, although the start/finish is near Thames Ditton station instead of being in the middle of Kingston. The course is lovely, following the River Thames along both banks between Hampton Court and Kingston, with a few wiggles here and there. When I ran Kingston before, the conditions were perfect – about 7C, blue skies and no wind. This time it was warmer (about 11, but didn’t feel it) was a bit drizzly (though mostly dry) but the game changer was the wind. So it was a race of two halfs, with the first half being downwind, and reasonably enjoyable and the second half much more into the wind, and lots of toil. 2 years ago I got a PB at Kingston with 1:34:55, and given the conditions, I didn’t think that was in danger of being broken. Against my instincts I decided to go fast in the first half (with the wind) and do my best to hang on for the second, as well as using other runners as wind blocks. Fortunately I didn’t manage to chop anyone down from behind, and whilst I didn’t get a PB, I was happy enough to be within a minute of it, at 1:35:53, and can try and persuade myself that I would have smashed it if it hadn’t been for the wind. If only…..
David Summers
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6-03-20
Well done to all that run at weekend whether north or south. I run a 10k in victoria park put on by run nation, like everyone else it was very windy, the course was 3 laps of the park, wanted to try and run sub 40 mins but realised in the warmup this may not be on. Started off well but ad each lap went on got slower finnished in 40.37, 90 secs outside pb but fastest time for 10k for a couple of years. Finished in 8 and was 1st in my age category (50-54) so a good morning work. On to big half next sunday hopefully wind will be kinder to me. Happy running one and all.
David Miller
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6-03-20
Well done everyone who got out in the weather; Dave, great work for 1st in your age category, must have given you a boost. I also raced a HM on Sunday and was a victim of the awful wind.  This was at Carsington Water in Derbyshire, one full loop, approx. 8 miles then a further 3 miles back onto the trail and then back to the start/finish to make the 13.1.  It was a very undulating course with little flat areas and where it was flat, the wind was so strong, I thought I was going to be in the water.  The only saving grace was it was so windy, it almost kept the rain away.  The results were a bit muddled what with some men running under women's numbers but I had a good idea of which women were in front of me so I had a good idea of the end results and knew they were wrong.  Therefore, I felt compelled to email the organisers on Sunday night and on Monday morning I received an email from them stating they were aware of an issue with the results and would be working on it.  I have since seen that the results have been rectified, and I was 10th lady overall, 1st V45 in a time of 1.39.56. It's by no means a PB but given the conditions and seeing the other performances, I'm happy with the outcome.   
Vicky Cooper
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6-03-20
Lots of good efforts in the wind, well done ravens! I took a short trip to Bury St. Edmunds to race the Tarpley 20, I did similar last year in Essex and it as a great help in marathon training. Unfortunately the Essex 20 this year was only available to Essex qualified runners so I had to find a different race. It is a one loop course with 10milers starting later and splitting off so there was the prospect of some of those runners to hang on to on the way home as the courses rejoined each other. I didn’t really have a plan of how to run it other than not getting into the red too early. Settled in with a group after about 5miles and starting ticking off the miles. After 12miles came the latest instalment of the shoelace files, as they came undone (they were double knotted). I burnt a lot of energy getting back to the group I was with rather than being content to run alone, which was probably a bad idea. I lost them again with 5miles to go, into the wind, and it was pretty miserable. Finished in 2.16, 22nd place, 6mins slower than around this time last year, so plenty to work on ahead of London. As a nice bonus it was the Suffolk championships and there were lots of ineligible runners ahead of me, so I found out I finished 10th Suffolk runner.
Neil Parry
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6-03-20
XC Nationals this Saturday in Nottingham
I had a slightly disastrous National – on the 2nd lap about 2.5 miles in my spikes fell apart (spike cage had become detached from the shoe). I stepped aside and had a think – I could continue as is, continue in my sock or pull out. I decided on the latter and then looked around and saw a clubmate had decided to pull out citing a hamstring issue (notoriously soft/ doesn’t like mud). We briefly commiserated and then had a lightbulb moment, checked show size and proceeded to perform the slowest pitstop in history (cold muddy hands). But I’d lost about 5 mins by this time. Got going again and didn’t really kill myself – just concentrated on enjoying it which I did (although it was a completely rediculous course). Caught up with a few and nice to see chris tuck/ keith newton on the course and stu fraser on the train back.. Good w/e and I’d recommend everybody to try it once.
Arif Merali
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6-03-20
I’m fat and slow so no race to report. Worst ever national finish but another consecutive appearance. If you want a proper story. Check out Adam Hickey. Lost his shoe in the madness that is the start. Ran first lap with 1 shoe. Got junior club mates to find it and return it to him on second lap. Sat down on a bench put it back on. Lost 40 places. Got going again came 4th. Totally ridiculous. Probably would have won I’d have thought.
Chris Tuck
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6-03-20
The Big Half
I lined up for the Big Half this morning with all the usual doubts running through my mind. Should I have gone on a stag do last weekend and made the last man standing photo both nights and is the wind going to distract me, has my marathon training taken too much out of legs etc etc. In my mind I thought I had been running well so just thought I’d go for it. I went off the start trying to hit a good pace and my watch stopped working going through the Limehouse Link tunnel, which in hindsight might have been perfect for me as I then started running on feel and relying on the markers at the side of the road. I hit 10km in under 37 minutes which I would normally consider a pretty reasonable time and didn’t feel like I was going too hard. Coming over Tower Bridge I was telling myself to try and lock in a good pace and keep going. The next 10km I was only 20 seconds slower and managed to get home in 1hr 18:10 for a 90 second pb so absolutely delighted and entirely unexpected. Good to Alice on the course. Now just to keep this momentum going until the London marathon (coronavirus dependent). As a side point I’m not running in Nike trainers….
Tim Harman
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6-03-20
I too lined up this morning, not having done a road race since February 2018.  As a result, and given my lack of proper, regular running this year, my lofty aim was simply to get round, hopefully in about 1.50 (I had to get back to Greenwich by 10.50, or I would be late taking my daughter to hockey!).  On the starting line, I looked round at all the other runners in Pen A (thanks again to Arif for donating his number to me) and wondered how I was going to keep up with any of them!  However, once the gun went, I felt that surge of adrenalin and found myself going off too fast (7.20 for the first mile – Phil, I suspect that's faster than I did the Ravens' mile last year?!) and told myself to slow down.  I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm and ignore what everyone else was doing, to keep at a sensible pace for me. At mile 3, I had a disaster when the shiny laces on my new trainers came undone and it felt like about 30 minutes as I struggled to retie them, but it was probable only about 30 seconds. I then went haring off, determined to overtake the people who had overtaken me.  At miles 6, I decided to take on a gel, but my eye/hand co-ordination had obviously been impaired by the mad dash to catch up and I ended up wearing a lot of blackcurrant goo on my face and legs – lovely.  Going down to Wapping, I had the honour of being cheered by the President of Essex Athletics Association (thanks, Andy!)  Next mile was a lot of the cobbles in Wapping (Cobbles? Really? Must we??) and then back onto the Highway and over Tower Bridge. At this point, I realised that, at each mile marker, I was going through at roughly 8 minutes per mile, and calculated (slowly, and checking several time) that this meant I might be able to get round in about 1.45.  First I had to get round the really boring bit round Rotherhithe, but I knew that, once I hit the main road again, I would be on very familiar territory (my run home) and could try to push on. Seeing Andy again (how did you get there?!) and Ruaridh on the home straight really helped – thanks again for your cheers!  Having run the closing straight on Tuesday, I knew that, once over the bridge at Deptford Creek, I was only 350 paces from the end, so I kicked on (dropping some guy who had been repeatedly overtaking me and then dropping back for about 4 miles – yes!) and sprinted sufficiently hard for the line that I honestly thought I was going to be ill the moment I stopped.  Fortunately, I just about held it together, to see 4.41.19 on my watch.  And when I checked the results later, I found out I had actually completed the race in 1.41 dead.  Which is 61 seconds faster than I have ever run a half marathon (and my previous PB was set 9 years ago, in a year when I ran 2 marathons and was therefore fitter than a butcher's dog). So all a bit surprising.  I have no doubt that the improvement must be down to the fact that since 2011, I have met and been privileged to train with the Ravens, which I know has made a huge difference to both my stamina and speed.  Clearly it had nothing to do with the fact that my slippery-laced shiny new trainers are ….Vaporflys!  Hoping to be out tomorrow lunchtime, back at my usual more prosaic pace!
Alex Anderson
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6-03-20
Well done Alex!  That’s a great run and always feels somehow more rewarding when you weren’t even meant to be doing it in the first place.  My half PB from a few years ago was at Royal Parks in someone else’s name.  He’s still claiming it as his now.  I was also there, nothing too exciting to report from the race, I was holding PB pace for about 7 miles but felt myself slowing over the bridge so was about 30 seconds behind and rather than try to chase it I just settled back to my marathon pace to try to get some practice in at that pace when your legs are already feeling it a bit.  So finished in 1:35:17, 3:20 slower than PB.  Beers and curry the night before probably didn’t help much. However before the race I was in the pen chatting to a friend and his friend ‘Dave’.  A few minutes from the start I took my throwaway top off to reveal my Ravens vest which prompted ‘Dave’ to reveal himself as David Miller (who as I relatively new member I’d not met before) so we then realised that two Ravens had been unknowingly chatting to each other for the last 15 minutes!  He quickly disappeared off into the distance at the start.  I can also confirm that drinking about 7 pints of varying beers straight after the race eating nothing other than the lentil crisps they gave out does you no favours.  The 5 or so after finally eating then finished me off. In other non-race news I was at Poole parkrun on Saturday and despite not planning to run it fast with the half in mind, I finished in 20:10 which beat my previous official PB by 17 seconds (and also means I no longer have to worry about whether my wind assisted one from Brighton Half the week before counts!).  Didn’t actually feel like I was pushing too hard so hopefully I can now go on and finally break the 20 minute barrier over two years since running that previous PB time!  Not this Saturday though as I’ll be running on a beach….. Thanks to the random parkrunner who gave me a lift from Yeovil to Poole and back after Yeovil Montacute was cancelled on Friday evening (for the storm that didn’t actually happen in that part of the country!).
Paul Brandreth
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6-03-20
Bit late to the party, but I also ran the Big Half on Sunday. Seeing as I only enter one or two events a year, I should probably make the most of the opportunity to contribute to the mailing list (as well as pick up a couple of points on the Grand Prix).  I was a late entry to the Big Half, using my previous Half Marathon PB (1.34) from the London Landmarks last March to time qualify and use the race as a training run for London. I originally had gig tickets for Saturday night and was planning on doing both, until how awful I felt on Friday at work with a hangover and decided the sensible option would be to get some rest and an early night. To summarise, I would say it was my favourite half marathon that I've run. I enjoyed the course (as much as one can during a race!), apart from the cobbled streets of Wapping which tested the stability of my ankles! I've never really taken notice of my 1k splits but I must have been blown around Canary Wharf as managed a 3.45 km. I definitely regret having a "proper" breakfast. Given I've only recently introduced gels into my training runs, I realised it is possible to eat and exercise. Having had a bowl of porridge with peanut butter and banana at 6am (3 hours before the start), I thought it would have got down in time by the start of the race....how wrong I was! I still felt pretty full at the start, which then turned to feeling sick by mile 7, or perhaps I was just pushing too hard?! If anyone has any pre-race nutritional advice, please do share! I normally run on just a tea or coffee and no food. Safe to say, there was no need for any energy gels on Sunday! The last 5k of the race was slightly painful, aware not to slip slower than 4.30/km. Just a case of mind over matter. I finished the race in 1.32.40 which was a new PB and 2 mins faster than my last half marathon a year ago. All I need now is a pair of those controversial Nike Vaporflys and I could be hitting sub 1.30. If you can't beat 'em.....
Jessica Cosson
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6-03-20
Dear all well done to everyone who raced last weekend another great set of results. As mentioned i also raced this one was hoping to put in a fast time, but had some sickness bug on the saturday and was sick 3 times during the night and was sick at mile 4 nearly pulled out at mile 7 but had a word with myself. Felt better at mile 8 run out of steam at mile 11 and took the last 2 easy. Came home in 89 mins so happy to break 90 mins, time for a rest before my next race in 6 weeks.
Cheers
David Miller
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6-03-20
Counties 20 Miler Essex
I decided 13.1 miles would not be enough for me so decided to run 20. I was selected to run for Kent in same race that I run for them last year, last year seemed quite a tough qualifying process, this year was not, we were actually a member short leading up to the race so I got one of my fellow club runners in a couple of days before. The race is a good one, with scenic country side in Rochford, there is a 1k start and ending and 3, 10 and a bit k loops , with some undulations and varying wind. I enjoyed this more than last year and also finished quicker, with a time of 1:54:55 finishing in 12th place. This is a 20 mile PB though I must have been around this time at last London and Chicago marathons. Have been training well this year and averaging 100 miles per week from start of January, have also run my fastest parkrun. So either the training is going well or its just my shoes. A few more tough weeks coming up before a taper for a potential London marathon if it is on….
James Macdonald
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6-03-20
Well done James that’s a super time. I thought I caught a glimpse of you yesterday as I also ran the Essex 20. My preparation for this race was not ideal as I had been out with some friends Saturday night as a belated birthday present. Waiting at the start Sunday morning I was certainly not feeling the “love” and all I really wanted to do was head back home to bed. However given that it was 20 miles I could at least ease my way in to the race and decided whatever the outcome I could at least use it as a decent training run ahead of the Boston marathon. I had only entered when a club mate pulled out a few weeks ago as he could transfer the place. I decided to run at my intended marathon pace of around 6.50 per mile and hoped that I could at least feel relatively fresh over the closing few miles. As James pointed out the route is made up of three laps which did contain a few drags and was certainly affected by the wind. I have always preferred the format of running laps as you tend to think less so about the distance but more as to how many laps you have to run. Anyway my target was achieved and I came home in 2.16.40 averaging 6.50 per mile. The goods news is that I felt pretty good over the closing few miles and made up a good few places from mile 17 onwards. Also I have to admit that I brought myself a pair ofVaporfly Next% a few months ago now. I wore them for a 5k race late last year and to be honest over such a short distance I don’t really think they make a lot of difference, however what I noticed yesterday was how much less fatigued I felt over the last few miles. Even though the last two miles were predominately uphill and in to a head wind I did manage to make up a few places. My legs certainly felt better than expected and this certainly gives me confidence that I can at least have a better chance of maintaining the pace over the last few miles of a marathon which is something I have always struggled with. Whatever training regime I have tried my pace has always slowed. Personally I don’t have an issue with the shoes as in my view its just a case of Nike being a little more innovative and getting one up on their competitors. There have been many similar examples in Cycling and Triathlon over the years. Newton running shoes were fairly revolutionary ten years or so with their famous lugs but no one suggested we should ban them. Also who can forget Greg Lemond beating Laurent Figon in the 1989 Tour De France by 8 seconds because LeMond was using Tribars. As long as they are permitted under the regulations then so be it. It would have been very difficult for the authorities to ban the shoes as so many people now own a pair. At least half of the field if not more were wearing them yesterday. I have the Colchester Half Marathon at the end of the month and depending on the time there I shall then decide what time to target Boston in, however the undulations at Boston will make consistent pacing a little tricky. By the way I was looking at the previous winners of this race and noticed a certain A Catton who was the winner in 1989.
Ian George
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6-03-20
I did the Essex 20 as well. Didn’t give the distance proper respect. Hadn’t eased off at all in the days leading up to it and basically did it fasted (few nibbles of flapjack on the way there with my coffee, dinner previous night had been relatively light). Plan was to split the 3 laps, first lap at 6:15 mm, second lap at 6mm, final lap at 5:45mm. First lap was fine for first half lap but then was feeling good and was dropping 6 flat mm from about mile 4. All fine and dandy and was moving up the field well until about mile 17 when I turned uphill and into the wind and my legs just totally went. Dug deep for that mile and just about held it together with a 6:30 but then a 6:24 on the downhill mile, 6:47 and 6:50 to finish told a story. Oddly enough with the 4%, I think when you are running a bit more slowly they are very awkward. Usually when I’m struggling, I claw more with my toes to try and get better grip but that’s not possible with the 4%. 2:05 was the score on the doors. Not in crisis mode just yet but a fair few learning points to remember. Given what I wanted though, which was a hard long run, job done I guess! Seriously impressed with James running 1:55 on that course. He’ll breeze sub 2:30. Well done Ian as well!
Bryn Reynolds
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6-03-20
I ran this race at the weekend as part of my London build up and bumped into Ian, Bryn and James before and after the race.  My plan was to run 2 miles @ 7mm, 3 @ 6:45mm, 10 @ 6:30mm (goal marathon pace) and then see what’s left in the final 5.  I started pretty much on pace and ran with a couple of guys from my club who adopted the same strategy.  They got away from me after about 8/9 miles but my watch said I was on plan so I let them go and tried to stick to my own plan. Middle 10 were ran with an average of 6:32mm but it was tough as I was suffering a bit of sciatic pain down the back of my leg.  Other than that I felt ok.  I couldn’t quite close in the final 5 miles as it was a bit up and down and against the wind (which I am sure picked up a bit on the final lap) but I felt comfortable and effort-wise it felt like I was pushing.  There is a hill from 18-19, it’s not too steep but still a challenge after 18 miles of running and slowed me down a bit, but I managed to pick the pace up on the other side and finish with almost my quickest mile of the race and even had some legs left for a sprint finish as there was someone slowing in front of me and there was a chance to gain a position, albeit only putting me in 80th place!  Finishing time 2:12:54 which gives me 8 weeks left to try and extend that 6:30mm pace into a full marathon. Seemed like it was a very decent standard this year with 31 runners under 2hrs although not sure how that compares to last year.  1st and 2nd were 1:47:30 and 1:47:40 respectively and both from Springfield Striders.
Scott Darney
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9-01-20
Tadworth 10  or The case of the Missing Mojo
I’ve not done much running for a while, mostly down to a severe case of missing mojo, so i decided the best thing to do was enter a race, a hilly race, a hilly, muddy race, just after Christmas. Ok then. The start is in the middle of Epsom Downs by the race course and as we wait for the off, in my head I can hear David Attenborough’s voice “the group of runners, stand huddled together in one of the most exposed places on earth”. And then we’re off up the first hill and within 100 meters I was already at “what the the hell am I doing” stage however then a runner passed me wearing a fabulous neon green headband the like of which I’ve not seen outside of a fancy dress party since the early eighties and I was distracted enough to get up the first hill, although he didn’t appear to have my missing mojo. Next is a short downhill followed by approximately 42 miles uphill on broken tarmac. I was seriously considering walking and Attenbourogh was back “as one of the older members of the pack begins to slow on the hill, the others pass her, is the race over for her?”  Then like a really crap game of eye spy there came many, many shouts of “car” and I became lost in the excitement of wondering if someone would actually get run down. Shortly after the reason for wearing the Ravens vest became clear as Serena Stacey a previous Raven who many of you will know spotted me and we had a quick chat which improved my mood no end! The route then has a slight downhill stretch before turning into the village of Walton, next, like a bad version of “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” it’s past the pond and through a wooded area, can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it, (not the pond obviously, although it was single file and there were a couple of runners I would have given consideration to throwing in if needed).  The next part of the course is a steep downhill on a residential street and as this is a two lap course a rather depressing run past the 8 mile marker at just under 4 miles. After this all that’s left to complete the first lap is what I heard one guy describe a hell hill although I prefer the travelator as I seem to keep running without getting any closer to the top. I’m determined not to walk and slightly ahead of me is that runner found at every race, “B.O. man” although this particular example had also overdone the aftershave producing a result that I’m sure paco Ruban never intended. However he doesn’t seem to have my mojo either so I push on past him for the second lap. The second lap was uneventful and the marshals friendly and enthusiastic, and before I know it the end is in sight as I approach the finish with the enthusiasm of a kid given a free turn on the bouncy castle I realise I’ve not been as slow as I thought and manage a sprint finish. Chip time 1.32.14 bizarrely a course pb.  I found my mojo when I got home (it was attached to the bottom of my scales, weighs about 4lb in case anyone’s interested).
Donna Henry
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9-01-20
Well done Donna! Sorry I didn’t see you this year. I also did this race. Always quite enjoy it in a slightly perverse way. Having run a 76 half at Viccy Park on Saturday, I decided the obvious way to get to Tadworth would be to run 10 miles there. Then did the 10 mile race. Legs screaming with DOMS on every downhill. Favourite bit was at the top of the 42 mile uphill on the broken tarmac for the second time, telling the volunteers at the water station “I’m glad I don’t need to run that hill again for another year!”. Good fun was had by all. 65:59 on my watch which as the back end of a 20 mile long run I was pretty pleased with. Am able to walk today in a very broad sense of the word.
Bryn Reynolds
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9-01-20
Essex County XC Champs / Ilford 10m XC
Couple of XC Races in the past week. Met John and Anna at the Ilford AC 10m XC on Sat 28th Dec just to test my foot out as had some issues a couple of weeks prior wearing spikes at an Essex League race where I had to pull out, so I wanted a re-run before the Essex Champs. Plan was to run each of the 3 x 3.3m laps progressively and as such John got a healthy lead on me after my enthusiastic start.  First lap 23:03 so pushed on a bit.  Second lap 22:49 and felt ok so pushed a bit harder and only just managed to catch John on the second half of the final lap which I completed in 22:26 so a clean sweep of progression, a time of 1:08 something and top 10 finish.  Good day out and good strong runs from John and Anna too. Then it was the Essex XC Champs on Sat 4th December where I planned to employ a similar tactic over the 2 x 5k laps with a conservative first lap and strong second lap.  I regretfully ignored Mick’s advice to check the hills out in my warm-up as I wanted to watch Jess Judd win the ladies race, and so I set off a bit too quick and then found my legs a little tired before I even got to the tough 3 x hills at the far end of the course.  I wanted to stay in contention with some runners around me who I recognised too but probably worked a bit too hard to soon.  First lap was 19:47 and felt hard starting the second lap and noticeably slower through the 3 x hills but seems like I held back enough once I knew I’d gone too hard as I had some energy left for the final 1.5 miles managing to overtake a few people and then a couple more in the final ½ mile to finish the second lap in 19:53 and total time of around 39:40 and 74th overall.  Not an earth shattering performance but I’ll take it after suffering last year and having to jog round the last 2 miles with stomach cramp.  Great run from David Butler, John and Anna too, and good support from Mick and Robin! Head into Marathon training this week feeling pretty strong and ready to face the hard work!
Scott Darney
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9-01-20
Yes, I ran the Essex Champs. The first half was OK. I made a school boy error and did not have a warm up in my spikes, My warm up was all in trainers on the road and paths close by. The laces very slightly loosened during the race and I could feel my left ankle straining when we had any tightish turns in a clockwise direction. Half way through the second hill session, I could feel my left ankle starting to hurt, so I slowed down whenever there was a turn to protect it. I decided for the sake of safety to call it a day with about a mile to go to make sure it will be Ok for Saturday. Next weekend is more important as it is round 4 in the Essex cross country series where I am on course for a medal in my age group. Am still on Gardening Leave for another couple of months.
Simon Le Mare
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9-01-20
I also had the same issue with one of my laces coming undone about 3 minutes in to the race.  I decided to step to the side and sort it as the race had only just started and I still had a long way to go.  It’s difficult though when loads of people come running past, and I wouldn’t usually do it, but I decided to speed up and try and get my position back. They were new spikes, and I didn’t warm up in them either – lesson learnt!  As I traipsed to the start line, my bright orange spikes quickly transformed in to a rusty orangey brown colour. I had a good race and felt like I worked hard but judged it pretty well and managed to overtake a few ladies in the second half of the race.  I tried to take the hills fairly easy, and run the down hills fast, something I am trying to get better at!  I finished in 45:13 and 32/129. Nice to see Ricky Goad out on the course offering support, and a few other Ravens.

I went to barking parkrun on Christmas day with the goal of running sub-21.  My PB was set back in July at the ladies couch to 5k race that Alice, Alex and I took part in and stood at 20:53.  I’ve run a few 5ks/parkruns since but haven’t gone under 21 mins again, my best being 21:16 at the Barking Elvis 5k at the end of August – it was really hot day so I wasn’t too disappointed.  Anyway, it wasn’t meant to be as I came in at 21:05, a bit gutted but I was only 6 seconds off my goal time so hoped it would come soon.  I think I went off a bit too conservatively actually, a rarity!  On new year’s day I tootled off to Valentines parkrun.  I didn’t feel particularly great that morning (nothing to do with the night before, I promise) but decided to go out much harder this time and see what happened.  My first mile came in at 6:36, second 6:28 and third 6:46, obviously went a bit too hard, but happy to give it some welly and felt like I pushed pretty hard.  A club mate caught up with me (he wasn’t going all out) about 3 mins in and took on the role of pacing me which I think was a huge help as it kept me going when I probably would have slowed.  Finished in 20:37 so a nice 16 second PB to kick off the year.
Anna Crawley
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9-01-20
As mentioned by others, I also ran in the Essex XC Champs which is over the reduced distance of 10k these days since equalisation of distances with the separate ladies race. Though it worked out a bit short at 9.6k per my watch. I warmed up on the grass in off road shoes switching to spikes for the race. My shoelace did not undone this time (like it did in the Masters International in November!). I train on the course at Gloucester Park where the race was held so it doesn’t have too many fears for me though I did feel quite apprehensive beforehand. I started the race fairly conservatively and worked my way through the field seeing a few others I know on the way. By the start of the second lap (of 2) I seemed to be in a pretty good position and felt good too which always helps as does the encouragement round the course. Caught up with and overtook Colin Ridley a very good Colchester M55 runner which was great as I’ve got close recently but not got ahead before. Once we got through the running up and down the hill from several directions part of the lap there’s a nice long run in to the finish. Managed to stay ahead of Colin to finish in 82nd place of 226 runners which was a 30 odd place better finish than the last time I ran this race 2 years ago. So v happy with my run and it’s on to the next xc races this coming weekend - January being a very busy month for XC races!
Dave Butler
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9-01-20
Ilford 10 miler - I felt good when I set off so when Scott slowed a little after his quick start I pulled away on a fast downhill.  I saw him at the end of the first lap a decent way back, and then at the end of the second lap about 100 metres back and I wondered if he could catch me and knew it would be close.  I pushed it hard to keep the lead on the third lap until just over a mile to go where there is a long uphill, and by then the legs were struggling with uphills and he went by me at a decent clip - I couldn’t catch him over the last three quarters of a mile on the flat once the legs had come back to life.  Was 29 seconds back by the end which I was happy enough with as he has looked fast recently, but would have loved to have hung on to beat him!  Nice little course PB for me by just under 2 minutes and my fastest 10 miler at 68.48 (only 10 miler I have raced to date).

Essex XC Champs - I finished in pretty much the same spot as last year – 97th.  Tough little course although to look at it as a spectator it doesn’t look that tough.  Good first lap and a little slower second lap – my legs were useless on the hills on the second lap (as were most other peoples!).  Happy enough to finish in a consistent place when compared with last year as I hadn’t felt I was running well recently and was doing a lot better a year ago.  Scott was about 15 seconds ahead at end of first lap and then a little over a minute ahead by the end so again I faded a bit.  Saw Robin with just under half a mile to go who gave me a cheer, but I was feeling pretty knackered by then and didn’t do him proud with my finish.  Also saw Mick a couple of times but he blanked me. Dave Butler was very impressive.  His usual well-paced race, and he picked me off on the first climb (pretty decent sized climb) on the second lap.  I was struggling, slowly uphill and he went by me looking strong and continued to open up the gap for the remainder of the race.  He said to me after that he knows the course well, but you still have to run it and he ran it blimmin’ well! I warmed up in my spikes for both races, raced in them, warmed down in them, all with no shoelace issues. After a pretty average last 9 months of running, I think I have turned a corner as felt happy enough with these races. Just checked and Anna finished 79th last year and 32nd this year in Women’s Essex County XC Champs.  She also won 3rd lady in Ilford 10 miler in 82.27, knocking 20 minutes off of her time since she last ran it.  You got to choose your prize - she marched straight up and grabbed a specific bottle as she knew exactly what she wanted – no messing around.
John Crawley
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9-01-20
I did the Kent County Champs with Chris & James at Brands Hatch. After 3 weeks of slow running, no sessions; was really surprised to be mixing it with some half decent runners (primarily clubmate Stu Beaney who had just done a 35m 10k on New Years Day). Managed to hold Stu off on a course that admittedly suited me (not very muddy/ fairly flat rhythmic running) and as a bonus managed to score in the 12 team which is unheard of during Surrey League where I finish in the 140s. Now proud holder of a Kent County Silver medal.
Arif Merali
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9-01-20
As Arif mentions, I run the Kent County Champs on Saturday. Could not work out if I run ok or not, felt fine most of the way round and finished ahead of some local rivals, but it was my slowest time I have run there in not bad conditions. I only just finished ahead of a team mate, who I am normally quite clear off, finishing 41st overall. That’s about average position where I have finished here over last few years. It was my team mates birthday and he brought a Colin the Caterpillar cake, which most of the team declined a piece off. I had two slices so all ended well.
James Macdonald
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