Exe-rated runners!

Exe-rated runners!
The successful Harriers team, en masse, at the Erme Valley Relays, July 2013

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tony tops the (very large) podium at Lustleigh!

With plenty of races on offer over the bank holiday weekend, with 3 in the local area on the Monday alone, Tony Hatchard and Lorraine Croome opted for a tough off road 10k and ran the Lustleigh Show 10k on the fringes of Dartmoor. Just because the event takes place as part of the local village fayre does not mean that it in any way offers a leisurely, sedate fun run. Quite the opposite! This is a tough, hilly off-road race that always attracts a competitive field. This year was no exception and so our own Tony Hatchard did extremely well to cross the line in 1st position. This 1st being his second in as many weeks as he took the honours at the weekly Killerton parkrun event the previous weekend. 

Tony evoked the spirit of the event when he says that the 10k race “shared the spotlight with human sheep herding, ferret racing, horse and dog trials, hay bailing and the good old favourite, Morris dancers”. However, a quick check reveals that no details are provide of the Champion Ferrett at all so Tony remains alone atop an Olympic sized Lustleigh podium, having taken a few quality scalps in the process to get there. 

Lorraine Croome is never one to shy from challenging off-road races and will have given it her all in her usual gutsy fashion to finish well up the women's field, if not top of her vet category. 

As yet the results link on the show website is not working, so no times are available for the moment. I will update the blog once they are received. But for now, a photo of Tony's glory moment!

In poll position, having been presented with his trophy by the village crier!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

8 Harriers tackle Torbay 10k

On a very sunny Sunday evening, 25th August, 8 Harriers were on the start line for the Torbay Regatta 10k road race. Celebrating the 200th year of the Regatta itself, the road race is one of the longest standing on the Devon running calendar. A glance back over the previous haul of winners (and winning times) shows you the caliber of athlete that this race has attracted year on year. So our 8 Harriers were in esteemed company as they lined up at 6pm by the Princess Pavillions, on the sea front in Torquay, and prepared to tackle the run out to Paignton, around the Green twice, and back again to finish on the grassy area at Corbyn Head.

This is never the easiest or flattest race as runners must tackle the climbs up and out of Torquay on the outward leg and then in reverse, back out of Paignton, on the return. This year, a very very stiff headwind - that was imperceptible as a tailwind on the out leg, but sure made its presence felt at the turn around - also served further to slow the runners down on the second half of the race.

Some of the Harriers before the start of the race, by the big wheel in Torquay.
L - R: Lisa, Carly, Adam, Dawn, Stan
Missing: Hugh (warming up/beach combing for treasure); Ellie (queuing for the toilet for the 11th time), Andy (doing his own thing)

Adam Miller found himself in a quality race at the front end of a quality pack, with former winners Johny Gilby, Kairn Stone and second claim Harrier, Tom Merson (running for Bristol and West on the night) all present and correct, not to mention the Torbay AC batallion and a smattering of other handy runners. This did not phase Adam though, who set off at a good pace and put himself in the mix from the start. Although his pace dropped off in the final 2-3 miles, so did everyone's into the headwind, and so he managed to hang on for a superb 8th place overall and 2nd MV35 in a time of 36:18.

Hugh Marsden was the next Harrier home. Despite having struggled with a calf niggle all season, this did not seem to effect him on the night as he ran a sensibly paced race to finish strongly in 38:49 for 21st spot overall and a victory in the MV50 section: quite a scoop at this race, which attracts a strong field of local veteran talent.

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was next in. I struggled quite a bit in the second half - a combination of the headwind but also not being 10k race fit at the moment. (I'm finding there's a wealth of difference between being sharp enough to run a fast 5k and having the endurance to carry that through for another 5!) I was extremely fortunate that most of the fast ladies did not turn out for this one, as I managed to scoop the first female prize. My time of 40:12, however, was slower than when I last ran this in 2011, when my sub 40 minute time was only good enough for 8th female; further highlighting that I got a lucky break this year! But, as they say, you've got to be in it to win it!!

A real podium! *Grinning from ear to ear* :-)

Mr. Consistency - A.K.A., Andy Johnson - was the next Harrier across the line. Always a fan of these longstanding, historic road races, Andy races here year on year and never gets any slower! This year he posted a time of 43:22 for 87th overall and 5th MV50, a category that he has only recently stepped into and can look to targeting some podium positions in the near future.

The ever-improving Lisa Hatchard was next across the finish line. Hoping for a PB and, ideally, a sub 46 minute time, Lisa - indeed, none of us - had not bargained for the extremely windy conditions encountered. Add the wind to the hills and this does not make for a PB friendly concoction! Lisa did extremely well, nonetheless, to finish within less than a minute of her PB, set in Ivy Bridge in May this year, with a time of 47:23 for 157th place overall, 16th female and 5th FV35.

Carly Miller and Lisa are fairly evenly matched at the moment and this is certainly leading to an exciting battle in the club championships! On this occasion, Carly was just pipped to the post by her club mate and sparring partner, but only just. Carly finished in 47:36 for 164th place overall and 18th woman. This is Carly's 3rd 47 minute clocking this year and with her 5k time now under 22 minutes, a 46 or even a 45 minute time is most definitely there for the taking, but on a much faster and more PB friendly course than this!

Ladies' captain, Dawn Teed, was not too far adrift of Lisa and Carly either, showing that once again, the Harriers females were packing in tight at the top and punching well above our weight! Dawn ran 49:13 for 188th spot overall, 22nd female and sneaking onto the category podium as 3rd FV50. Unfortunately, there was no team prize on offer at this race, but if there had been, we would surely have been the favourites with all 4 ladies in the top 22 of females, out of about 170 females who finished.

In a recent reversal of roles, this time it was Joan Mason's turn to stand on the side lines and hold the bags and car keys and watch husband Stan Mason in action. Not feeling 100%, Joan took the sensible decision not to start the race, leaving Stan - who is now back to his best, following an injury lay-off - to record one of his fastest times on the course (not stopping this year to help a damsel in distress near the finish line will have gained him a few extra seconds!!!). He ran comfortably under the hour in 57:42 for 364th spot overall and 19th MV55.

There were 499 finishers, once again highlighting the popularity of this race. Well done to all the Harriers for putting themselves into the thick of the action and doing the club colours proud!

Harriers at the finish... not too sure what's going on with Stan's cap!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A hot summer heats up the Club Championship!

All the fantastic weather we've had over the past few months has clearly drawn a lot of Exmouth Harrier runners out onto the race circuit and at the close of play at the end of August, we now have 5 men and 6 women who have already completed their club championship, with 2 months left to go.

Men's Championship

In the men's championship, Marc Cox, Rich Hawes, Adam Miller, Mike Musgrove and Dave Stone have all completed the requisite number of races across the 4 different categories. They are now in the favourable position of knowing that whatever they do now, their percentage cannot decrease, but some good performances between now and the end of October could see them increase.

Things are certainly tight at the top in that men's competition, with Dave Stone just edging it - being the only man to break the 80% age-graded average (81.15%) - with Mike Musgrove not far behind in 2nd (79.71%), followed very closely by men's captain, Adam Miller (79.34%). However, with Mike's training now focusing around his Atlantic Coast Challenge attempt in October, Adam could well sneak a few extra percent in the next couple of months to just edge past him. It could be down to the wire between those two!

However, those are by no means settled as being the top 3 in the men's championship as some other contenders, who still need to complete one or two more races, could put a spanner in the works. Both Hugh Marsden (78.55%) and Tony Hatchard (78%) were late starters to the championship, having only started their racing seasons this summer, but they are sure making up for it now. With a few more key races pencilled in, such as the Dartmouth Regatta 5 mile this coming weekend, we could see changes in those top 5 positions by the end of the week!

The overall standard in the men's competition has been high across the board, with a number of men not far behind the leading pack all averaging around 75/76%. Rich Hawes is at the top of the chasing group (76.30%), just 0.01% ahead of Jon Garrity (76.29%); however, Rich has the advantage in having completed all of his races, whereas Jon still needs to add 2 more races across 2 new categories to achieve a full portfolio.

Hot on this pair's heels are Ray Elston (75.51%) and Dave Eveleigh (75.19%). Ray needs 2 more races from 2 different categories, whilst Dave only needs one final race from either the Half-marathon, Marathon (unlikely for our 1 mile specialist!) or a wild-card distance.... Dartmouth Regatta 5m this weekend, perhaps?!

Marc Cox has completed his championship already (72.42%) and so he could now look to improve upon a couple of the results he's had at tricky races that are pulling down his overall percent. For example, finding a faster race to replace his Totnes 10k result would erase his only sub-70% mark from the board. A fast 5k at Run Exe or Yeovilton or else Woodbury 10k could do this and see Marc also creeping up to join the 75+ percenters!!

Rob Orton and Lee Russell have a bit more work to do if they are to complete their championships in the next couple of months, as at the moment they have only got races in one section (5ks) and so need 3 more races of 3 different distances to get a full set.

Women's Championship

In the women's championship, 5 of the 8 ladies have now completed. The podium positions are a little bit more settled here than they are in the men's, with Cathy Newman streaking ahead as a clear and unreachable winner. Cathy has now completed her full set of races with an astounding average age-graded percentage of 88.40%.

Second place is being occupied by myself, Ellie Sutcliffe, on an average of 79.32% - tanatlisingly close to breaking the 80% barrier, but that is unlikely to happen now with only 2 months left.

Third spot is fairly secure in the hands of Hannah Bown, who has completed on an average of 73.19%. I say "fairly" secure as ladies' captain, Dawn Teed, is not massively far behind her (71.04%) and has been enjoying a good season of racing this summer, so there is still a small chance that she could close that gap between now and the end of October. However, a good run at an autumn half marathon could also see Hannah stretch ahead again, so it's still all to play for!

After these 4, the positions are as tight as you could ever get, with the remaining 4 ladies all within 1% of each other! With her sparkling new 5K PB, Carly Miller has just stolen the advantage, in 5th spot overall (66.40%), from her sparring partner, Lisa Hatchard (66.18%): this pair have both completed their full set of races so can now work at further improving their percentages. With them being so closely matched, this little battle really will go right down to the wire!

Joan Mason (65.90%) and Emma White (née Dupain) (65.30%) are then having a battle of their own. Neither has yet completed all the required races (indeed, Joan was unfortunate not to have been able to get a score in the 10k section last Sunday as she felt unwell at Torbay and so decided not to run). Emma just needs one race in a different section to complete, whilst Joan needs 3 races across 2 different sections; one of which could be a 5k, so get yourself to a parkrun Joan!

Beginners' Championship

There still remains only the one contender in this category and that is Karen Hawes. Credit to Karen for giving this a go within her first year of running. She is doing superbly well, especially considering that she doesn't tend to target easy races! Her 2 10ks so far have been the hilly Umborne Ug and the seeringly hot Tipton Rail and River Run! She's also completed a Run Exe 5k, giving her a current average percentage of 49.89%. With one more race left to complete from a third category, we're sure that Karen could finish up on a 50% score.

She'd love to have someone else to battle with though! Yes, there's an element of competitivity to it, but it's primarily meant to be a bit of fun and to encourage people to try out different events and races. If you are new to competitive running this past year, then you can enter it. It's not too late: you only need 3 races in the next 2 months. It can still be done: just ask if you are interested but not sure and we can tell you more about it!

Well done to everyone who has given it a go this year. We will be awarding prizes and momentoes at the Christmas party to recognise your efforts. 2 months left to improve your scores, so get racing!!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Cox "coasts" to a new PB and to a 2nd place!

Marc Cox has been in superb form this year: you only need to look at the line graph on his Run Britain Ranking's page for a graphic illustration of his improvement curve! That form has continued these past two weeks with a storming run at the Exeter 10k bringing him a new PB and another strong run at the local Jurassic Coast multi-terrain 10k, in which he ran his way to a hard earned 2nd place.

On 15th August, Marc was on the startline at Haven Banks for the annual Exeter 10k. A relocated start and finish area this year made the race even faster and was better for spectators as they were both in the same place, attracting people to stay and enjoy the atmosphere.

Marc ran a well-paced race and finished strongly to record a time of 35:42 for 11th place overall out of 300+ runners. This time saw him shave just over a minute off his previous best for the distance, which was also recorded this year at the Ivy Bridge event in May. 

Just over a week later, Marc was on local turf, toeing the start line of the Jurassic Coast 10k, which starts and finishes in his home town of Budleigh Salterton. This race takes runners on a very scenic circular route, out along the river bank, turning right over White Bridge, along the cliffs to Crab Ledge, forging inland and dropping down on footpaths to Clamour Bridge and then returning back along the river bank to the finish at Lime Kiln Carpark. The route is undulating, but not as hilly as you might expect, with all of the climbing being over by half way, making for a fast closing half. 

Marc had a good battle with an unattached runner, who eventually just got the better of him on the final 1 mile run in to the finish. Marc clung on for a very creditable 2nd spot though and his time of 36:58 represented well over a minute's improvement on his time from last year. 

Marc is now excellently placed to tackle the cross country season this year and we're sure that further improvements to his times on road races are also up for grabs if he targets the right races this autumn. Well done Marc!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Return to the RAT!

The R.A.T., an acronym  for the 'Roseland August Trail', is a series of 4 races of 4 different distances, all taking place along the South West coast path in Cornwall, around the Roseland Peninsular and St. Austell Bay. I, Ellie Sutcliffe, took part in the inaugural event last year, running the shortest of what were 3 available distances on offer: 32, 20 and 11 miles. This year a new 'big daddie' of a distance was added in the form of a 64 mile (100k) 'Plague' race. My plan was to up the distance in increments each year and so this year I had entered the 20 mile event. Ongoing injury problems since February that have prevented me from increasing my training miles meant that this was no longer a feasible option, so I downgraded back to the 11 mile again; however, that was still no small ask as it would still be the longest distance I had run in one go since February... oh, and with the small matter of over 1600ft of climbing over the 11 miles too meaning this would be no walk in the park!

The 11 mile event runs from Gorran Haven back to the race village at Porthpean outdoor centre. The first 6 miles to the checkpoint at Pentewan are relatively easy with hills a plenty, but all highly runable, then the fun starts in the last 5 miles, with a roller-coaster profile of steep descents and climbs, jacobs ladders (one section has well over a 100 steps to negotiate!), wooden bridges, styles, and oodles and oodles of mud glorious mud! Last year's race was a total mud bath and on the steep climbs it was difficult to get traction. I was looking forward to a firmer underfoot surface this year following a much drier summer, but an overnight downpour that abated briefly in the morning but then started again about 2 hours before the race start ensured that that wasn't to be the case. If anything, the surface mud, churned up by all the runners, made it even slipperier than last year!

On the coach on the the way out the the start I was feeling sick with nerves. I was so anxious that I would be even up to the distance as I had not done it for 8 months and I worried how my achillies would fair on all the punishing climbs. I do, however, know that it fairs better off road and, with the terrain as it is, you have no choice but to walk some of the jacob's ladder sections, which means mixing up the rhythm.

The race starts as it means to go on, with a sharp uphill climb out of Gorran. Immediately, a group of 5 of us - 4 blokes and myself - shot off the front and we had gained a 100m advantage by the time we turned the first corner. I suspected that unless I drastically blew up or injured myself, this is the position I would end up in. A glance back after a long open field section about 1/2 a mile in confirmed that there were no other challengers in sight and so I settled into my rhythm and started to enjoy the amazing scenery back in my old home patch of St. Austell Bay.

Start of the RAT 11 mile on the beach at Gorran Haven

The race has a unique format in that the starts for the different race distances are staggered to try and get everyone converging on the finish within a few consolidated hours, so this means that from the moment the hooter sounds, you begin to pick off runners from the other, longer routes, who started out earlier but are going at a slower pace. Everyone was really supportive of each other and I tried to lavish praise on anyone I passed wearing a green vest as these were 'Plague' runners who had already been out since midnight (it was now 1pm!) and were on the last 11 miles of their 64 mile run: incomprehensible!

Pressing on and taking advantage of one of only 3, short flat tarmac sections, at Portmellon.

As I approached the checkpoint at Pentewan, I realised that I was about 5 minutes up on my time from last year. I had no idea how this could have happened and worried that I had gone off like a lunatic and would pay for it in the harder second half. This is one reason why I didn't want to repeat the same 11 mile distance: when you return to a race, you have expectations of yourself and, even though I knew I had done no appropriate training for this - no hills, no long runs - and knew that I wasn't in the same shape as last year, a part of me - the hard task-master, competitive part - still wanted to improve upon last year's time. As I got to the last steep descent before the final climb into the race village I could see that my watch was reading 1h34 and I had less than a quarter of a mile to go. I ran the whole thing in 1h47 last year and I simply could not fathom where I had made up so much time this year as I took the descents very cautiously in the mud and I walked all the steep uphills to save my achillies. I thought it had to be my garmin that was faulty as it read 1:37:10 as I crossed the finish line: shaving exactly 10 minutes off my 2012 time! Comparing my two garmin uploads, I had indeed run a minute faster on each mile throughout the whole race. So maybe all this hype about "rest", a subject with which people insist upon regaling me, has some, er, excuse the pun, mileage in it! I felt fresh this year. Last year, the event came at the end of a hectic racing season for me and the day was a very hot and humid one; I didn't get my fuelling strategy right and ended up keeling over at the finish line, which is the only time I have ever done so in a race. I definitely felt much more energised and up for it this year and the whole race seemed to flash by and be over too quickly as I was really enjoying myself!

I placed 5th overall and 1st lady. 3rd, 4th and myself all finished within 2 minutes of each other, then after me there was a 13 minute gap until the next athlete, so positions had remained as they were on that first hill out of Goran! A great race and hopefully next year I will be fit enough to tackle the 20 mile as you get to see double the amount of luscious Cornish coastal scenery!! The whole weekend has a festival vibe to it too, with all the runners camping at the race village, which has evening entertainment, a bar and multiple catering outlets. A great running weekend away: other Harriers should give it a try!

Receiving my rather unique trophy from Mimi Anderson, ultra-running guru extraordinaire and VIP guest at the RAT.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dave E. is back on track at Braunton

After a testing season on the injury front with problems with his knee, Dave Eveleigh is now firmly on his way back to form. After a couple of outings at Killerton Parkrun that went well, Dave had the confidence to tackle a track race again. His destination this time was Braunton, in North Devon, and his distance was the 4 lap 1 mile event. Opportunities to run this iconic distance are few and far between these days, so Dave will have been pleased to have the fitness back to give it a go. He will also have been pleased to have posted his fastest time over the distance in recent years.

Back in June he ran 6:14:9 at the Devon Open Meeting in Tavistock and 2 months later he managed to shave exactly 3 seconds off that to record 6:11:9. He also had a bash at the 1500. Having already exerted himself over the mile, he did well to post a time of 5:37:8, just 5 seconds shy of his time at the Devon County Track Championships back in May, which he ran on fresh legs.

Going back a few years, Dave ran PBs of 4:37:8 for the mile in 1982 and 4:14:0 for the 1500m in 1983: impressive stats indeed. This weekend's outing will have been a nice confidence boost as the track season now draws to a close and Dave will turn his attentions to the cross-country.

Dawn runs fastest ever time at 'Race the Train'

If you look back through the archived posts in this blog, you will notice an annual posting about a rather quirky race in Mid-Wales called 'Race the Train', or 'Râs yr Trên', to the Welsh speakers! Two members of the Exmouth Harriers - Dawn Teed and Hugh Marden - have a soft spot for this race and make the trip up to Tywyn every August to participate.

There are 4 different distances (or "challenges") on offer, the longest of these being the "Rotary Chaellenge" which, at 14 miles long, is also the thoughest and the one that draws Dawn and Hugh back each year. The object is simple: race a steam train from the start in the town of Tywyn for 7 miles, running through muddy and rutted fields and paths alongside the railway line, then turn around and race it back. Of course, the train's speed is faster than that of the average runner, but it also stops to pick up passengers and to take on water at the halfway turnaround point, which is where competitors must seize their advantage and try to get ahead of it.

The train usually takes between 1h45 and 1h50 to make the round trip. This year it took 1h48m07s and 192 competitors (roughly 20%) managed to beat it: the last of these only just, clocking a time of 1:47:07 exactly: I wonder who was running the lowest on steam in this final sprint to the finish?!

Hugh Marsden not only manages to beat the train year on year, but usually manages to beat most of the other competitors, and certainly most - if not all - of the other runners in his vet 50 age category. This year was not exception. Despite the weather conditions being atrocious this year, making the going underfoot harder, Hugh was only 2 minutes short of his time from last year and once again managed to bag himself a podium finish in his age category. His highly respectable time of 1:40:56 gave him 73rd spot overall and 2nd MV50. Well done once again Hugh!

Hugh leading a group of runners along side the railway line. No sign of the train: must be behind him already!

However, Hugh had a lot to live up to as his partner Dawn was having an absolutely storming run a couple of miles behind him. Dawn has been having the season of her life this year, starting with her amazing win at the Falklands Marathon and continuing with PBs at 5k and course bests at Totnes. On this occasion she set another PB: her fastest time ever on the course. Bearing in mind that Dawn has been running this event every year since 2005, that is an impressive effort! Entering the vet 50 category this year has seemingly injected a whole new dimension into her running as she is getting quicker all the time! Dawn said: "My previous PB was 2:10.02 in 2010 and since then I have been around 2:16, so am over the moon to get 2.07.08!" And so she should be! That is a superb time, particularly in such tough conditions. It gave her a similar placed finish in the ladies race to where Hugh finished in the men's - 72nd - and 560th overall out of 935 finishers. Fantastic running from ladies' captain Dawn, who is proving to be a huge inspiration to the other lady Harriers.

The winner was international athlete and 6-time winner of the Snowdon Race, Andi Jones, in a staggering 1:18:42. Top female was Sarah Ridehalgh of Accrington Road Runners in 1:39:05. (Sorry Hugh: you just got "chicked"!!!)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Carly smashes her PB and goes sub-22 at Yeovilton!

Wednesday evening, 14th August, saw the staging of the 5th and penultimate round of the Yeovilton Summer 5k series. The usual trio of suspects were on the start line for the Exmouth Harriers in the shapes of Jon Garrity and Adam and Carly Miller. For Carly, she was targeting this race as a serious attempt to post her first sub 22 minute clocking. As avid followers of this blog will know, this is a target that Carly's had in her sights for some time but, for various reasons, she has just fallen short of that target on several previous attempts, coming close on more than one occasion, but never quite nailing it. For this race she had secured the services of local running legend and super vet-60 athlete, Gordan Seaward, to run around with her and try and pace her and push her on to break that magical 22 minute barrier. Gordan does the time keeping at parkrun each week and he has been very helpful to Carly over the past year, providing her with a training plan and some race targets. One of those targets was a sub 48 minute 10k (which she's has comfortably achieved twice this year) and the other was a sub-22 5k. Could this be the night that she would nail it? YES!!!

As Carly never runs with a watch, she is never sure of what pace she is running at until she sees the clock at the finish. With Gordon there to take care of the mile splits and the pacing, that freed up Carly to give all her efforts to her running. Having a pacer does not make achieving a time goal any easier from a physical point of view, however, as it was Carly's legs and lungs that still had to do the hard work and produce the goods. Carly stuck to Gordon like glue and he delivered her into the final half mile ahead of target - all she had to do was dig deep and kick for the finish, which she did in style. She not only just broke 22 minutes, she sailed through in a superb 21:35. This was over half a minute quicker than her previous best for the distance, set at the Arrow Valley parkrun earlier this year, and a huge improvement of 4 minutes on her first attempt at the distance, set at the Great West Warm Up 5k in 2011. It gave her 70th place overall out of a healthy turn out of 167 finishers. Well done Carly - we all knew you could do it this year and are so pleased for you! Carly's response?: "I'm pleased, but it nearly killed me'!!!

On a night where calm conditions were conducive to fast times, Adam Miller and Jon Garrity also had fine runs. Unfortunately neither of them were able to follow Carly's lead and smash out a new PB but they both came tanatlisingly close to their best times. Adam was suffering slightly with a tight hamstring, which he reported hampered his speed slightly, even though he felt in really good shape and fitness otherwise. That said, he did well to finish 11th in a time of 16:47, which was only 8 seconds shy of his PB set here in the previous round.

Jon Garrity came even closer to his, posting a time of 17:52 which was just 1 second adrift of his PB, also set here last time. This performance gave Jon 28th place overall, which just highlights the quality of the field at this event, and 5th MV40 in a competitive category on this occasion.

Well done to all 3 runners. We wish them well for the final round of the series which takes place on September 11th, 7:15pm.
Jon Garrity: well positioned in a pack of runners at the Yeovilton 5k

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Perfect conditions bring fast times at Run Exe 5k

A sunny, fresh and calm evening on the banks of the River Exe provided the perfect backdrop to the fourth round of the Ironbridge Runner 5K Series, which took place on Tuesday 6 August. Over 100 runners started, though disappointingly, only about 20 of these were female. At the front end, two athletes dipped under 15 minutes, the first of these being Exmouth-based Tom Merson who was timed at 14:53. Tom was in Bristol & West A.C. colours on the night but he is also a second claim member of the Exmouth Harriers and often flies our club colours at a number of local races.

Richard Hawes was 29th in 18:52, managing to squeeze out a new PB by 1 second - but they all count! - and to place 3rd MV45. Ladies captain Dawn Teed had an excellent run, by far her best of the series so far, to place 79th overall in 23:27 and first FV50. Both Richard and Dawn are now well placed in their respective categories for podium positions at the end of the series - with 4 out of 5 available events to count - if they complete the final September round of the event.  

Andrew Johnson was timed at 20:09 in 45th place, that’s an agonising 40 metres short of a sub-20 minutes time! Lee Russell was 72nd in 22:19, a very encouraging time for someone who races very sparingly and his best time over the distance of the year. 

Karen Hawes has thrown herself into compeitive running since joining the Harriers this year and has been trying her hand at various different races, from off-road tough, multi-terrain 10ks, to parkrun, to this! She placed 104th overall in a new PB time of 28:49. It should, however, be highlighted that some races attract a higher proportion of serious runners than others and this is certainly one of them, hence the fact that she has finished much higher up the field at parkrun, despite running a faster time here! This run has also boosted her percentages in the beginners' club championship, which appears to be hers to lose at the moment, providing she completes one more race in a category other than 5ks and 10ks. 

Well done to all the runners. The last round and the last opportunity to net a 5k PB this year is September 3rd, 7.30pm, Flower Pots fields in Exeter.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Totnes triumph for the Harriers!

An annual event on the local running calendar that always attracts a plethora of Exmouth Harrier members is the Totnes 10k. Organised by the Teignbridge Trotters, this almost entirely off-road race in fact measures in at nearer to 6.5 miles than the 6.21 advertised in its title, but we'll let them off as it's such a lovely route that it's almost a joy to run that extra 0.3 of a mile!

The route is mainly flat, with one sizeable hill in the woods at about the 3.5 mile point. The race takes runners along the River Dart and through fields and tracks around the stunning Dartington Estate. Due to the scenery and superb organisation, the race always attracts a large field and this year was no exception, with just short of 500 runners toeing the startline. Slightly damp conditions greeted them there, but that was quite welcome as it kept temperatures down... the spectators wanting to take advantage of the 'festival' atmosphere at race HQ might have felt differently however!

The start of the Totnes 10k at Borough Park, with Hugh Marsden prominent front left.

The race was won in a new course record and sub 35 minute time by Exmouth resident, Tom Merson. But the stand out performance of the day for the Harriers had to come from Marc Cox, who knocked over 2 minutes off his time from the previous year to finish a superb 7th overall in what was a highly competitive field with some top competition stacked around him. His time was 39:07 and that is shifting some on this technical, off-road course that measures in over distance. Well done Marc!

On this occasion, Dave-Sparrow-Legs-Stone had to settle for an unusual 2nd place finish amongst the club contingent but he did, nevertheless, secure the top spot in his MV40 category with yet another fine run in a time of 39:58 for 11th spot overall.

Another veteran of this event and a super-veteran runner for Exmouth is Hugh Marsden. Hugh once again ran a strong race to scoop the top MV50 prize and 24th place overall. His time of 41:06 was 2 minutes up on his time from last year and this will give him a huge confidence boost as he has been suffering with some uncharacteristic injury niggles this season.

Next in was myself, Ellie Sutcliffe. I could not have been more shocked at the outcome of this race as I entered it on the back of injury and with barely any training miles under my belt. Expecting very little of myself, and certainly not expecting to finish in the top 3, I set out at a sensible tempo pace rather than my usual 'go like hell and hang on' strategy. A lady went off fast at the start and I happily let her go but at about 1 mile in, I overtook her and then just kept an even pace to the finish line to claim the first female spot. Even more shockingly, my time of 43:31 was exactly 2 minutes quicker than last year: like Hugh, this was a confidence boost I really needed! Maybe there is something to be said for running a sensible, even-paced race!

Chris Dupain was clearly feeling no after-effects from his mammouth effort of 3 races in 3 days at 'Le Tour d'Exeter' the previous weekend. He was storming ahead on the flat section across the fields but dropped a couple of places in the uphill section in the woods. A strong last 2 miles meant that he stayed inside the top 50 finishers and thus the top 10% of finishers, 49th in 44:19.

Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan, enjoying a fine running season and relishing in the off-road trail races of late, had another superb run to again knock minutes off his time from the 2012 race, in posting 47:03 for 85th spot overall and gathering some valuable points for the male team competition in the process.

He was chased down by Ben White, who crossed the line in 50:31 for 126th spot and Ben was enjoying his last race as a single man before he weds his fiancé and fellow Harrier, Emma Dupain, who was literally chasing him all the way to the line. Emma posted a time of 50:56 for 104th spot overall. The pair are to wed next Saturday and so the Harriers wish them well for the final preparations this week and look forward to sharing in their special day next weekend!

Ladies team captain, Dawn Teed, was next to appear. Before the race she and Ray Elston shared a joke that one day she would manage to beat him... and today was that day! Having a superb run, Dawn crossed the line in 52:41 for 167th spot overall. As usual, the FV50 category was stacked with talented local runners, and so Dawn narrowly missed out on a podium position on this occasion. Not only did Dawn manage to beat her time from the previous year, but this was her fastest time on the course since 2006 (and she's run it every year!). That winter marathon training she did for the Falklands Marathon is still paying dividends!!

Claire Baxter is really back with a bang this summer, following a long lay off period over the winter after an operation on her toe. If anything, it's made her stronger, as she is churning out some superb performances and featuring in team prizes at every outing! Her run of 57:47 for 253rd spot overall enabled myself, Emma and Dawn to join her in securing the 2nd ladies team prize behind a very strong Torbay AC squad. This was Claire's 3rd team prize in as many consecutive outings! She is clearly our lucky mascot... when's your next race Claire? We'll make sure we all sign up!

Father of the bride-to-be, Nigel-Pops-Dupain also had a good outing, finishing comfortably inside the top half of finishers, 182nd place with a 53:52 clocking. Will he indulge himself in a day off racing next weekend in order to give his daughter away, that's the question?!

Perhaps the finest head-to-head battle on the line of the day came from our super-vet MV70 (actually 74!) runner, Ray Elston. Literally sprinting it out with a category rival (who was none other than the Teignbridge Trotter's race director's father!), Ray was just pipped to the post and was forced to settle for the 2nd MV70 prize and 202nd place overall with his outstanding time of 55:08. Not forgetting to highlight that this man is 74! Yes, 74! Could your Dad / Grandad run a sub 1 hour 10k at this age?! Likely not!

The icing on the cake was that our men's team followed the women's lead and also scooped the 2nd team prize behind, yes, you guessed it, Torbay AC, who have won the team contest here for the past 6 years! Next year we need to send a crack team to try and haul ourselves up to the top spot!

By the time all our prizes were assembled, it looked as though we were planning on opening our own off-licence! It was nice that almost every Harrier who ran came away with something. The prize structure here is nothing if not generous and most of us won't need to buy wine or beer for some time to come!!

The Harriers' prize haul: enough booze to open an off-licence!

Cathy is the 'yellow jersey' winner of Le Tour d'Exeter!

On the weekend of 26th / 27th / 28th a brand new and exciting running event took place in and around Exeter. Keen to capitalist on the popularity of and British success in the 'Tour de France', I.B.R. Events staged the inaugural 'Tour de'Exeter', based on 3 different styles of race over 3 consecutive days. Pete Ferlie of IBR had toyed with the idea a year ago and had launched it under a 5 stage format, taking inspiration from the 6 stage Tour of Tameside (of which Exmouth Harrier member, Cathy Newman, is also a former winner!). However, that proved to be too much of a committment for most Devon runners and so this year, stripped down to just the 3 events, around 50 racing snakes liked the idea and signed up. Amongst them were 4 (and a few "extras") Exmouth Harriers.

~~ All pictures courtesy and (c) Pete Newman.

Group shot after the 10k race on day 1 of 'Le Tour'!
L - R: Mike Musgrove, Cathy Newman, Dawn Teed, Hannah Bown, Chris Dupain

Ladies Captain, Dawn Teed, running a fine 10k.

Mike Musgrove: strong opening performance with a sub 38 min 10k.

Chris Dupain: enjoying a fine vein of form at the moment.

Cathy in the yellow jersey on day 1, which she retained throughout the 3 days!

The first race, on the Friday, was a 10k road race, staged over a 4 lap circuit of Flower Pots playing fields and the river bank. The second stage moved out to Haldon Forest and used the Dawlish Coaster's Forest Flyer 5 mile course; this stage also incorporated the 'King and Queen of the Mountains' competition, a.k.a. the polka dot jersey! The final stage took place on Sunday morning at Exeter Arena, with a 5000m track race rounding off the overall proceedings and deciding the winner of the 'sprint' competition, or green jersey. 

The overall race was decided on cumulative times and Cathy laid down the gauntlet on the opening race with a winning performance in the ladies 10k race in a time of 40:58. Cathy was, however, mindful of a pool of talent queuing up behind her - chiefly, that was veteran talent in the form of Tiverton's Caroline Hewitt - snapping at her heels and waiting to pounce in the next couple of rounds if Cathy faltered, meaning that she couldn't afford to relax too much in the Haldon 5 mile race or the final 5000m track race. Going into the Haldon 5 mile race wearing yellow, Cathy was the one to beat, but she again ran strongly to win the stage outright in a time of 34:44 for 16th place overall. A very fine 19:30 time over 5,000 metres on the track on Sunday, where her position was 22nd overall, firmly cemented her position in yellow and crowned her as a worthy overall victor of Le Tour! Bravo Cathy, félicitations!! In fact, veteran women totally stole the show at this event, with the top four female places all being awarded to athletes over 45. This just highlights the sheer depth of talent we have in the female vet categories in the south-west.
Cathy, in yellow, on stage 2: a 5 mile trail race at Haldon forest.

Hannah Bown: always strong on the hills, had a good race at Haldon.

Hannah Bown was 6th female overall at the end of the 3 day contest and 2nd senior female. Her 10km run gave her 31st overall and 5th female in 43:41, Saturday’s trail race concluded with a very steep uphill mile but Hannah accepts the “no pain, no gain” argument and she hung on for 28th and 5th woman 36:33, getting the better of senior rival, Naomi Flanagan, on this occasion, thus highlighting Hannah's strength on the hills. Hannah was a little isolated in her 5,000m heat, which never helps when racing on the track, but still managed to cling on for overall 32nd in 20:43. 

The Exmouth men were well represented with Mike Musgove finishing his début 'Tour' in 2nd place in the MV40 category in a cumulative time of 88:15, behind the vastly experienced Mike Feighan of SWRR. Mike was 7th in 37:37 over the 10km Flower Pots race; 7th in 32:43 in the 5 mile trail race and 8th in 17:55 at the 5,000 metres track event. This highlights some very consistent and sensibly placed running and the fact that he was able to come out and run a sub 18 minute track 5k after 2 hard races over the preceding days must give Mike confidence that his calf niggles that caused him some problems earlier in the season are now behind him. Mike's next challenge is another 3 stage race over 3 days but is somewhat longer as he prepares to tackle the Atlantic Coast 3-marathons-in-3-days challenge in the Autumn.

Mike tries to stick on the shoulder of his category rival, Mike Feighan, on stage 2.

Chris Dupain was the other Exmouth male representative and he also put together a fine portfolio of races over the 3 days. He finished 11th out of the 20 Senior men who completed all three events. His times and race positions were: 10km: 16th in 40:21; 5 mile trail race: 25th in 36:18 and track 5,000m: 20th in 19:19 (where he managed to finish 2nd in his heat). Chris has been competing a lot this summer and has seen a real improvement curve as a result, so we can look forward to seeing some more strong performances from him as we head into the Autumn; maybe a PB over the half-marathon distance beckons?!

"Guests" were allowed in individual races to boost numbers and competition and Dawn Teed took advantage of  this in the 10k race to bag herself some valuable points for the Exmouth Harriers club championship. She was 46th in a time of 48:55 over 10km. Berihu Tesfay, meanwhile, opted for a little leg stretch on the track and was a comfortable winner of the 5,000m in 15:54: a superb time considering he was soon isolated with no other runners to work off. Finally, in 41st place in the 10km in 45:43 and listed as an Exmouth Harrier, was the Iberian sounding Tiago Bandiera Da Lima about whom, as yet, we have no information: could be a clerical error, but please watch this space!

All the Exmouth participants praised the organisation of the event and the camaraderie amongst the runners. With a small but select field rocking up on 3 consecutive days, it afforded an opportunity to get to know the competition and interact with all the other participants. Hopefully the event will be retained on the running calendar next year and will continue to grow in popularity as it's the only event of this kind currently in the country!
A very determined-looking Berihu, cruising to a comfortable win in the 5000m track race on day 3.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Tony tackles 2 events in 2 days!

Always a popular race in the local area, this year the Chudleigh Carnival road race on Friday 19th July only attracted the two Exmouth Harriers, namely, Tony Hatchard and Jim Wyatt. Maybe because all the other Harriers were saving themselves for the Haytor Heller the following evening?! This did not deter Tony from having a stab at both races, however. 

The Chudleigh Carnival race is run over a hilly course on country lanes surrounding the village, covering a distance of 5 miles 694 yards (just under 6 miles, to the more metrically-minded individual)! It always benefits from a "carnival" atmosphere as the street is closed to cars and spectators can line it whilst giving their support to the runners before sojourning into one of the nearby pubs to await their return back to the finish line by the church.

Tony put in a fine performance in a quality field (that was headed up by local athlete Tom Merson) to finish in 7th place in a time of 33:05, behind a trio of runners from Bristol and from Torbay. 

Jim Wyatt is 71 next month but once again there was no specific category for over 70s, who had to take their chances with runners in the younger 65 – 69 group. Jim  was 132nd overall in 52:08 and there were 173 finishers of whom 52 (almost a third) were female.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Haytor Heller: the Harriers' happy hunting ground!

Remember last year, when we totally dominated the prizes at the Haytor Heller? With category wins, top 3 placings and team wins, we thought we had reached a peak about as high as one you have to climb in the race, and there was no room for improvement, right? Wrong! This year the Harriers went even better, totally cleaning up on the prize front, to the point that onlookers at the prize giving ceremony must have wondered if there were any other clubs in the race! It seems that Haytor is a happy hunting ground for the Harriers! The following report again comes courtesy of Carly Miller (many thanks Carly!): 

In the hot, sunny conditions of Saturday 20th July, thirteen Exmouth Harriers travelled to Dartmoor to race the Haytor Heller. This is an approximately 6 mile route, run over challenging moorland terrain between Haytor and Hound Tor. After starting halfway up the steep path to Haytor, runners continue up to the rock, before dropping down over the other side and making their way down into the valley, over the stream, and then up the steep climb to Hound Tor, where there is a very welcome water station! The runners then head back down a long, grassy galloping stretch before climbing steeply once again to Haytor and then enjoying a fast downhill finish.

This event was very successful for us last year, and was to prove so again this time. The race was won by the talented local youngster Jamie Parkinson, who, at just 20 years old, shot off fearlessly at the start at a blistering pace. He won convincingly in a time of 39:58, with our own Berihu Tesfay coming second in 41:08. Not forgetting that Berihu is himself a former winner and previous course record holder of this event, further underlining the outstanding performance of the young winner.

Berihu at the start of the race, leading the pack up to Haytor Rocks.

Next in for the Harriers was Anthony Hatchard, who was running in his second challenging race in two days, having run the Chudleigh Carnival race on Friday. Clearly this had no detrimental effect as Anthony put in an impressive performance to come 6th in a time of 43:25. He also bagged a prize for being 2nd V35, showing that he is just as much at home off-road as he is on!

Tony: second race in two days - hard core of the moor!

Behind him competition was fierce to be a counter in what was surely to be a winning Harriers men’s team. Adam Miller, having let Mike Musgrove get away from him somewhat earlier on in the race, managed to overhaul him on the last climb up to Haytor, to finish next Harrier, and 10th overall, in a time of 45:46, almost a minute faster than his time from last year. Mike Musgrove managed to hold off Marc Cox to finish 11th overall in 46:04 and 1st V40. These four impressive performances ensured that the Exmouth Harrier’s men won the men’s team prize with a margin of 10 minutes over the second placed team. In fact, 5 of the first 12 men to finish were Harriers, showing just what strength we have in the club at the moment!

Adam, in a chasing group, just behind the leaders, near the start of the race.

Just missing out on team glory was Marc Cox, who had Mike and Adam in his sights all the way round. He fought hard to catch Mike but narrowly missed out, finishing strongly, nevertheless, in a time of 46:17, which gave him 12th position. Next in was Hugh Marsden, who put in another fine performance to finish in 48:11, just 4 seconds slower that last year: talk about consistency! This put him 23rd overall and earned him the prize for 2nd V50. Next Harrier home was Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan, who was taking time out from the wedding he had been attending, in order to come and compete at Haytor. Scott had been very disciplined, turning down all offers of a drink during the celebrations for the sake of his run (we know that can't have been easy for him.... Er... ok, so Ellie might have added that bit, not Carly!!). This was worth it though and much appreciated as he put in a fantastic performance, running the course in 53:11 (1 min 40 seconds quicker than last year), to finish in 51st position.
The ever-improving Marc Cox!

Next in for the Harriers was myself, Carly Miller, in a time of 58:27. I was very pleased with this time, which was over a minute quicker than last year. This put me in 83rd position overall and 7th in the ladies’ race. (It also made Carly the first counter in the Harriers female team and a time of sub 1 hour for a female on this course is truly fantastic running - added by Ellie, as Carly is too modest to write this about herself!)

Carly - her strong downhill technique has resulted in consecutive good runs at Haytor, last year and this.

Terry Oldham followed shortly behind, relishing in the off-road terrain, finishing in a time of 1:01:35 and 107th position. Next Harrier in was Nicholas Brown in 1:04:46, closely followed by ladies team captain Dawn Teed, who had a brilliant run to finish in 1:04:50 - nearly 2 minutes quicker than she did in 2012. Dawn was 125th overall and 3rd in a very competitive FV50 category. Hot on her heels, just 14 seconds and 2 positions later, was 4th FV50 Lorraine Gilson. Lucy Hodgson came flying down the home straight shortly afterwards to complete the run in a time of 1:05:56. This put Lucy in 134th overall and, more importantly, earned her the prize for 2nd V35. This was not to be her only prize, however, as the Exmouth Harriers ladies proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with, by clinching the team prize for the second year running! For Lucy this was her second team prize in as many weeks - hopefully she will take confidence from this and realise what an asset she is to the female team and sign up for more events!!).

The Dark Destroyer of the Moor: Terry Oldham!

Lorraine found time for a natter on route and looks to be enjoying herself far too much!! ;-)

So, once again, it was a very successful outing for the Exmouth Harriers, who came away with a clean sweep of team prizes, 5 individual prizes, and some rather aptly designed blue and gold race t-shirts as a momento. Can we match this next year? Let's give it a go, shall we?!

Lorraine just managed to out-sprint a female rival for those valuable team competition points!

The lads, chillin' at the finish!

That's quite an impressive prize haul!

Harriers females lead the way at Tipton!

On Saturday 13th July there was a small batallion of Harriers in action at the Otter Rail and River Run at Tipton St. John. Organised by Sidmouth Running Club on behalf of the village playing field, this is one of those great, friendly local events that offers a fantastic atmosphere and superb value for money.

Hot Harriers! 30+ degrees and full sun makes for a tough Otter Rail and River Run!

What the 8 participating Harriers did not expect when they sent their entry forms off was that they would be lining up to race in 30 degree heat and in full sun! What a contrast to last year when the race was under threat of being canceled as, just a couple of days before, the playing field was under a meter of flood water! Those of us who ran it last year will never forget wading through swimming pool size (in terms of depth and length!) puddles and sploshing through energy-sapping mud. Fast-forward 12 months and we had compacted, arid, cracked soil, dust and flies to cope with, not to mention the searing heat.

That wasn't going to deter us all from having a go and enjoying what is otherwise a lovely race of 10k along the Otter river bank to Harpford Woods and back along the old railway line to Tipton.

Both Richard Hawes and myself, Ellie Sutcliffe, had run this race last year and we set off at a steady pace. For Rich, he didn't fancy racing hard in the heat and for myself, it was my first race since re-injuring my achillies in early June so I wanted to just tempo run it and see how it felt.

A visiting lady runner from America set out hard from the start and I was happy to just let her go and settle in for 2nd place. Rich and I soon found that we were running a similar pace and so we decided to run around together and enjoy the run. We soon became isolated from all the other runners and, at times, it felt like we were just out on a social club run and not in a race at all! As we approached the finish, I said to Rich, 'Off you go then'! Knowing what a phenomenal sprint finish he can always produce and I wasn't up for any form of sprinting at all. So I watched him shoot off down the finishing straight to take 11th place overall in 44:13 and I followed in just behind in 44:17. Rich's time was still over a minute quicker than what he set last year, despite him not being all out, showing what an improvement he has made since he started running competitively just over a year ago. My time, on the other hand, was 2 minutes slower, but I wasn't bothered about that - I was happy to get round in one piece without pain from my achillies - a huge victory in itself!
Rich and Ellie enjoying a Harriers social run and having a natter on the way round!

A short while later, Nigel Dupain and Jane Macdonald were also arriving in together and having their own little battle for the finishing line; a battle that Nigel just won, edging out Jane by a second. They finished in 30th and 31st places respectively in times of 52:46 and 52:47: impressive times given the course and the heat. Frustratingly for Nigel, he just missed out on the top MV60 prize by 20 seconds. Jane, for her hard efforts, was a creditable 8th in the ladies race.

Lucy Hodgson, making a rare race appearance, was the next Harrier to finish, in 38th place overall in a time of 55:16. The good news was that Lucy, Jane and myself had won the ladies team prize and so a shiny trophy and some chocolate chip cookies came our way. Jane beamed away as she took hold of the trophy, delighted as it was her first win: likely the first of many more for Jane if she keeps running as strongly as she has been!
Jane and Ellie, along with Lucy who had gone home, won the ladies team prize!

Diana Richards was next across the line. Struggling a little with the hot conditions - not her favourite! - she did well to dig in and post a time of under the hour: 57:37 for 47th place overall. Lorraine Kirby, entered as an Exmouth Harrier but running in the red Exmouth Running Belles vest, appeared shortly after in a time of 58:59, just outside of the top 50 finishers in 52nd place.

Karen Hawes was running in her 2nd race as a Harrier. Hoping to improve upon her 10k time from the hilly, tough Umborne Ug event, in order to boost her club championship percentage, Karen had not bargained for racing on what was the hottest day of the year so far! In these tough conditions, she showed real grit and determination to post a time of 1:09:37 for 79th place overall.

Diana, Lorraine and Karen were the 2nd fastest ladies team, behind myself, Jane and Lucy. It just goes to highlight the strength and depth of lady runners that we have at the moment and that almost every time we manage to get a team out, we come away with something. Good work girls!

With just the 2 men running, we were unfortunately lacking the third counter to make up a men's team. Shame, as Rich had ironed his OFFICIAL HARRIERS' VEST especially for the occasion this year.... ;-)

It's PB time again at Yeovilton!

In contrast to the less than summery conditions of the earlier rounds in the Yeovilton 'Summer' 5k series, the July round greeted runners with scorching conditions. Despite the kick off being at 7.15pm, temperatures were still high and so runners were grateful they were only running 5k and not any farther! Although hot, the weather was otherwise calm, with an almost complete absence of wind on the course, meaning that some fast times could be up for grabs.

Just 3 Exmouth Harriers toed the startline on this occasion: Jon Garrity and Adam and Carly Miller. All of them were chasing PBs.

Jon Garrity managed that feat with ease and, in so doing, cruised beneath the 18 minute barrier for the first time with a superb run of 17:51 for 22nd place overall and 3rd MV40. With his 18:12 from the May round and after having to sit out the last round, Jon had 2 solid months of training behind him and so the 18 minute barrier was always a possibility, but to have cruised past it so easily will be a massive confidence boost to Jon who is a quiet and understated but very determined runner.

When you are already at the sharp end of the race, as Adam Miller is, carving time off your personal best gets harder and harder and you find yourself needing the perfect conditions, to be feeling in top shape and to have some good competition around you to encourage you to push on harder. Luckily for Adam, he had the ideal combination of all of these things in this round and it all came together to give him the perfect race. He clocked a new personal best time of 16:39 for 13th place overall.

Carly, meanwhile, went into the race with the one key objective: to break the 22 minute barrier for the first time. She has had this in her sights for a while now but the weather conditions of previous rounds have not helped matters. Carly does't run with a watch so doesn't have an idea of how fast she is running beyond how hard she feels she is working. This is a very natural approach to racing and one that we could probably all benefit from taking from time to time: forget the pacing and the numbers and just run naturally, on feeling and race instinct. Carly felt that she pushed hard from the gun but was once again just short of her target with a time of 22:53. Carly is now having doubts that this is the right course for her to crack the time on as she is stronger on hills and with this being pancake flat, something like the Run Exe or an undulating parkrun course might be a more feasible option. Either way, we are all confident that with a bit more speedwork and some patience, a sub 22 minute time will be there for the taking before the year is out.

Having missed 2 rounds now, I, Ellie, am no longer able to compplete the series, but Jon, Adam and Carly are still very much "in the running" and just need to participate in the August and September rounds to complete the event. Good luck to them and we look forward to hearing how they get on in the next couple of outings.