March News 2009

1st March - Weekend Action Update

The first of March brought a lovely almost spring like day with warm temperatures and bright sunshine which made our 23 mile training run really rather nice (thanks to Jayne and Pete!). There were also a couple of local events taking place with the Cheadle Spring 5 and the Cloud 9 Hill Race, as well as some orienteering over at Apedale Country Park.

Following the big

?

about race results, Ryan Procter has kindly sent in this report for the Cloud 9 Hill Race - thanks Ryan!! Now let's have some more like this from you others...!

 Here are the results for the Cloud 9 Hill Race

 http://www.racephotos.org.uk/Cloud%209%202009%20Results.pdf

 And a report:

 "The weather was uncertain on arrival with light rain falling as people were registering for the event and storing their bags, however the clouds on the Cloud 9 soon passed over to reveal a fine spring day with little wind and mild temperatures. The strength of the field certainly did the weather justice with a massive 427 competitors lining up to tackle Bosley Cloud and the surrounding countryside. Many people commented that this was the biggest field they could remember for this race!

The nine mile route is a mix of Trails, short road sections, rocky single-track and open fields as well as some rocky ascents leading to the summit of The Cloud. There are a number of obstacles to be negotiated too with a good number of gates and even a ladder stile over a fence just after some fantastic descending through woodland where the brave hearted amongst the runners can make some real ground on the other competitors. Although it is classed as a fell race the course is well marshalled with little scope for error.

There were a good number of Trentham Runners turning out for what was the first event in the newly created off road championship.

Trentham Results were 34th Ryan Procter 1:03:48, 47th Jon Williamson 1:06:19, 59th Dale Colclough 1:08:43, 203rd Kiri Johnson 1:20:43, 215th Neil Middleton 1:21:27, 217th Brian Riley 1:21:33, 245th John Fryer 1:23:23, 263rd Jill Phillips 1:25:25, 367th Mark Hughes 1:36:48.

Mark Hughes finished one place behind a running legend who was also taking part in the event, the legendary Ron Hill who certainly had people recalling past events and talking of great times past!

Well done to all the Trentham Runners who turned out and took on the challenge, and you all earned your soup and roll afterwards".

 

Well done to those that took part in the Cheadle Spring 5 too, especially Ian Yates who was as ever Trentham's first finisher, and Paul Burslem who race a PB on what I believe is not exactly a flat course. Full results are here for those that are interested.


8th March - Stafford 20 and Stuff

Early morning saw beautiful blue skies and warm spring sunshine, which probably lulled a few runners at the Stafford 20 into a false sense of security. By the time the race started, the clouds had arrived and the wind had picked up, so they knew they were in for a hard time. It wasn't long before the heavens opened and runners and spectators had to contend with not only the gales, but also hail storms and heavy rain.

A few Trentham faces were spotted out on the course, with Paul Burslem I think being the first Trentham chap home in around about 2.08, knocking 2 minutes off his previous PB - bloody marvellous running given the conditions! Here's Paul's account of things....

Just before the start of the race I was looking at the traffic and thinking no chance of a PB with all that traffic going up to Bingley Hall, anyway the race started and just had in my head about the traffic, Jayne D. was running beside me and I was just bitching about traffic anyway we got on to the main road and we had space to run! Going up the first hill I saw a gap in traffic to go past some runners and sorry didn't see Jayne till the end.

When we went down Weston bank runners surged ahead but I just kept
back, after a mile or so I joined back up with a trio of staffs harriers and a couple of others, decided to tag on the back, but on the climb out of Salt I decided to up the pace, but on the decent after we were struggling to run down bank with the wind, and be the time 7ish miles came up I had a fair posse with me.

Going on to the 2nd lap some other runners decided to up the pace and it
started to spread us out, and by the time the end of the second lap came we were down to three of us but I was falling behind them.
On the last lap we approached Bingley bank and started going past the back of the field and this spurred me on probably due to the fact id got 6 miles fewer to run. At the top of bank Ryan came past me and spurred me on and I started some sub 6.20s and went past around 5 or 6 runners couple of Telford involved. Beat them in x country and now over 20!!
For the last 2 miles i thought no buggers coming past me now and finished
off with a couple of 6.15s,went past a runner last half mile you turned out
to be a  Centurions runner [revenge is sweet]. Got to the finish and no one was watching!!  Many thanks to all the marshals hope none of you are laid up. Went to the presentation after, but had to leave due to severe
shivering!!!!!!!!!

Then there was also Alan Lewis and Trevor Goodwin who were going well when I last spotted them, so too was Mark Hughes. A couple of our folks also took part in the relay, and I know that both Ryan and Jill formed a team with the enemy Gaz Briggs from Moorlands (what's that about??!!), and all did pretty good as a mixed team.

Well done to all that took part, and also thank you to those from the club that helped to marshall - especially Richard O'Keeffe who ended up as "lead bike" for two laps, and Paul Gibbings who stood at the top of the hill for about 2 hours! As soon as we find some results, we will post them here.

Meanwhile, yesterday saw a couple of our ladies heading over to Nottingham to represent Staffordshire in the Inter-Counties Cross Country at Woollaton Park. Sarah Johnson and Jayne Dickens both did the county and the club proud in their county vests, so well done to both of you! Sarah tells us, "It was sunny weather all morning and while Jayne ran, then clouded over slightly after but it still felt like I was burning up going round that course even in a vest which shows I was actually trying I suppose. I don't know about the results yet but I was a bit disappointed to be outsprinted by a few girls at the end and slowed a bit on the last lap but I made up a few places on the hill each time we had to go up it."

 

Finally, it was the Cheadle 5 last week and we've had this in from Sarah Johnson who took part in the race.....

Sorry it's a bit late coming but just a brief thing about Cheadle 5
Myself and Jo Donnelly along with several other Trentham Runners took part Last Sunday in what I thought was a very nice run around country lanes with no big hill as first thought (that's Cheadle 4!). I had an ok run , went off very fast and it was all going great until mile 2 when I ran out of steam and was very glad to see the end but failed to do the sprint to the finish as I was completely knackered. Jo had an excellent run and got the same time as she did at Alsager give or take a few seconds and was very pleased with the result!

Keep these reports coming in - doesn't matter how long or short they are so long as they will be very much appreciated!

Well done to anybody else who raced this weekend, and if you want a mention, then please email something through!


9th March - Fradley 10k

Thanks and well done to Ian Yates who unofficially took part in this race at the weekend, and also to Mark Day. Ian tells us

 "Results here:http://www.ukresults.net/2009/fradley.html

Mark Day did it in 53.46, and Sarah’s dad in 47.41 (I think).

I would have entered too, but entries on the day had closed when I got there!  I did most of the race (missed the last 100 metres to avoid going through the finishing line).  I would have come 12th, in around 34.15.

We had the strong winds, but missed most of the heavy rain thankfully!

See you soon, Ian"

Thanks for this Ian. If anybody else has done any races or has any news, please keep sending things through - makes our lives far easier (and gives Del more time for running instead of sitting in front of a PC for hours!)


Sunday 15th March - No Half Measures for Trentham

With the London Marathon only 6 weeks away, it's that time of year where half marathon are taking place in abundance with folks using them as a measure of how things are going in preparation for the big one. This weekend was no exception and Team Trentham had some brilliant performances, with PBs tumbling at the Stafford Half and excellent team performances in Bath.

Being the 20th anniversary of the Stafford Half Marathon, the race limit was increased to 2000 and even then it was full way before race day. Not surprising really, as it's a fairly decent course although there are one or two undulations along the way.

Ryan Procter - without wanting to steal his thunder - had an outstanding run to finish in just over 1.21 and setting a personal best by 10 mins. This must surely be evidence that he's on course to smash his marathon PB in London in April if all goes to plan. Well done Ryan - knew you could do it! We've not heard off Ryan yet to give us a run-down of how it went but we are guessing that he is still out celebrating his success - good on you mate!

Kiri Johnson also had a fantastic run in Stafford, knocking 9 minutes off her PB to finish in around 1.39 - fantastic running! Here's what Kiri had to say.....

Hi all,
We've just returned from a great run at Stafford, I think a lot of the team got PBs -well done all! Weather was great and wind had died down a lot from yesterday. I got a good start in the race, I must have placed myself well in the pack 'cause it seemed like I was running with similar people all the way round. I clocked 30 mins at 4 miles which seemed pretty fast for me, but I felt pretty strong so just tried to kept the pace going. Was running quite happily until about 11 miles when I started to hurt but I definitely didn't want to slow down so close to the finish, looking at my watch I knew a sub 1.40 was possible so I just tried to focus on breathing and I sang I little song in my mind (sad yes but whatever works)...then you think you're at the end and they put that torturous little loop on through town. I saw the finish ahead with the timer at 1.39.33 and just ducked under 1.40 with a sprint finish. I was looking for about 1.45 so needless to say Im pretty happy...another 9 mins of PB set at Macc in Oct 08.

Can I also add a muchos thank you to Chris for the enthusiastic cheering to help me through the pain at about 12 miles and to Jill Phillips for the Thursday runs.

Love you all,  Kiri
 

Walter, Kaz, Kiri and Ryan in Stafford, 2009

Kaz Brandt has also had some fantastic runs this year, and today was no exception where she set a new personal best by a remarkable 15 minutes. Kaz tells us...

I've had a very good day :-) I didn't taper for this race as I'd been ill
and had to catch up on my runs for marathon training, so I was a bit
worried whether I would do the 1:50 Richard and Del both thought I would.

But I woke up feeling great and was thrilled to see the winds from
yesterday had gone and it was bright and sunny. I started off at 8-minute
miling thinking I may blow the whole "even-paced race" plan but I felt
comfortable and so kept going. I ran with Walter for the first half and it
was really nice having some *quiet* company-I'd ordered him not to talk to
me at all!! At one of the drink stations though I lost Walter so continued
on my own, and was perked up by the supporters as well as a fair few
runners shouting "Go Trentham"-we are clearly a popular club, if I'd had
the breath I would have tried to recruit more members en route! I felt a
little tired at 9 miles, but I rounded the corner, and to my complete
amazement saw Mel, complete with bottle of water and a huge banner wishing me good luck-amazing support and at the right time-thanks so much sweetie!

The next few miles flew by, but at 11 miles I felt wobbly in my legs and
quite tired, for some reason I thought speeding up would help, it did
(don't argue with the logics of a tired runner near the end of a race!),
and so I ran the last two miles at a quicker pace, which was probably a
good thing as the section along the rail track is sooo boring! I then
nearly peaked too soon-starting my sprint finish a little early as I
thought I saw the finish line (I'm an optimistic runner!), but then still
managed a sprint finish, crossing the finishing line at 1:44:29, a 15
minute PB! I am well proud, completely exhausted, still cramped up in the
tummy, but I have to say this is the best half marathon ever!!!-lovely
route (with 1 exception) and the right amount of ups and downs to keep me entertained! :-)

That's all folks! Kaz xx

We've also had this in from Kathryn Ambrose, so a massive WELL DONE to you on your PB too!

Hello, 

Just thought I'd let you know about the Stafford Half today! I had a great race, and I took 27 minutes off my PB (it's now 2.06:18). It was lovely to see so many Trentham runners out (it made for quite a good game of 'spot the green vest'!). Huge thanks have got to go to Mel Dougan, for her words of encouragement at two points on the course, and also for the water - that truly was a lifesaver! I'll definitely be back next year to break 2 hours!

Full results for Stafford can be found here - Trentham results below.

POSITION NAME CATEGORY TIME
37 Ryan Procter M 1.21.04
46 Paul Burslem M40 1.22.04
70 Jon Williamson M 1.24.58
112 Stan Winterton M60 1.27.48
188 Vic Ison L 1.31.47
211 Ken Bloor M45 1.32.45
349 Alan Lewis M60 1.38.44
384 Kiri Johnson L 1.39.26
446 Mark Hughes M50 1.41.34
535 Dean Bentley M40 1.43.28
579 Kaz Brandt L 1.44.29
664 Joanne Bentley L 1.46.41
762 Walter Mosiuk M50 1.49.20
804 Ken Pearson M55 1.50.19
961 Mark Day M 1.54.35
1169 Chris Shubotham L50 2.02.12
1208 Malcolm Rushton M55 2.04.04
1267 Kathryn Ambrose L 2.06.16
1528 Alison Bradeley L50 2.19.49

Whilst all this was going on in Stafford, 4 of the Trentham ladies team along with team manager, captain and coach Richard O'Keeffe, headed down south for the Bath Half Marathon with hopes of getting a team prize. The weather was unexpectedly warm but otherwise conditions were pretty much perfect for running. This half usually has a good quality field, and this year once again saw the ladies and gents titles going to Kenyans. Unfortunately, despite some superb performances from our ladies, they were pipped to the prizes by Bristol and West, Cornwall and Team Bath - but the ladies still did us proud!

Adela Salt led the charge to finish in 1.23.03, and Del tells us....

"Having had some poor half marathon performances in recent months, I wasn't really sure how to tackle things today. I desperately wanted to run around about 1.22 - 1.23 as training had been going better recently and I was starting to feel a bit more like my old self. I was bang on pace to run sub 1.22 but on the second lap, we had to contend with the slower runners, and to put it politely, some of them haven't got a clue! However, I managed to weave in and out, and finally crossed the line in 1.23.03 by my watch, so was absolutely chuffed particularly as I'd felt ok out on the course apart from the heat towards the end. It was great being down there with Jayne, Debs and Lynne, and of course coach/manager Richard who was so reassuring and supportive. Particular thanks must go to my Andy who is always so supportive and takes some cracking photos, but always seems complains of earache whenever he goes to races with me - don't know what he's trying to say!"

Jayne Dickens was next over the line in around about 1.26, and then Deb Thomas and Lynne Callaghan, who ran around 90-91 mins. Here's what Lynne had to say about her run in Bath....

For quite a while now I've been trying to break 90 mins for a half and when Del offered me a place at Bath to give it a bash, I jumped at the chance. The whole weekend was fab - I had a great time. The girls were as ever really supportive of each other and Richards continued reassuring manner helped no end. I've never been on an elite start before and it was amazing! Walking past 15,000 people tightly packed into pens, straight up to the front where we had miles to warm up in, cracked me up! The weather was really warm on the day and I have a lovely rosy glow at the moment where I've caught the sun and it made it a beautiful run. I was totally on target until mile 12, but despite taking on board Del's advice about saving some for the uphill finish, my chip time was 1:31:00. 61 pesky little seconds, but hey its still a pb, so I'm now looking for another to do! Thanks ladies for the invite, thanks Richard for the support and chauffeuring and thanks Andy for the great photos'. xx

Well done ladies - next year we'll have them! Full results will be posted here over the next day or so, but in the meantime, here are some photos of the team in action!

Jayne, Del, Lynne, Deb - just before the start

 

Runners Village - Debs, Lynne and Jayne - and thousands of others on a lovely sunny day!

           

Left - Del approaching 7 miles, and right, Jayne enjoying herself

  

Left - Debs approaching 7 miles, and right, Lynne still going strong

If you have raced this weekend and we've missed you, please email us with your news so we can tell others how you got on - please don't be shy!


17th March - More Race Updates!

This just in from Walter Mosiuk..

Just a short note about Stafford Half Marathon...........what a brilliant day and good results all round.
Since my re-introduction to running 2 years ago I've been gradually shaving off the minutes and this was no exception, 6 minutes off my previous half marathon time in 2008. It started off really well and I felt comfortable running alongside Kaz while she was giving me the split times at each mile, but after 6 miles of running sub 8 minute miles it was beginning to take it's toll and eventually not wanting to compromise Kaz's fantastic performance I slipped back and off she went. As we got out into the country an a long gradual climb my next thoughts were that I must try and keep up my pace thinking that Kiri would be catching up at any time, but not realising that she was already flying ahead of me (Excellent ..well done Kiri). The next few miles were tough, but just when you were on a downer up popped Mel again to cheer us on (Thanks Mel). Then there was the dreaded railway line which went on and on but eventually seeing the final drinks station and the 11 mile marker I started to pick up again for the final slog into the town and that sneaky detour they put in around the back of the shops before the finish. Thanks also to Andy (Jontz) for his support and to Chris for her shouts of encouragement. Also well done to Chris's daughter who made use of her mothers number and did her first half marathon in a very respectable time of 2.02. Thanks Trentham RC and to the weather for making it such a good day. And finally my deepest condolences to the friends and family of the runner who collapsed and passed away, such a sad end to a wonderful day.
 
Best Wishes to All
Walt

and this has also come through from Stephen Burrowes who joined Trentham as second claim member fairly recently....

It was good to complete the Stafford Half in a Trentham vest, the support was excellent as usual and I thought that the Jelly Baby box was a very thoughtful touch. It was a bit of a blow to find that I must have entered the race as a Kendal member and this was the way it turned up in the results – sorry, I have paid my subscription!

I’ve now completed the Stourbridge Stagger and Alsager 5 in the more subtle green of Trentham and can recommend the Stourbridge Stagger (8th February this year) to those who like a longer, varied, mixed terrain experience with a few minor hills thrown in.

Back in a Kendal vest, the Parbold Hill race (14th February) is a personal favourite and again I would recommend it for its extremely varied terrain and challenging hills. There are styles, fences, streams, fields, hay bails, hills, tracks, roads and mud to negotiate and you get a Mars bar at the end as well as a icy cold water blast from some sort of mobile agricultural water tank to get the mud off! It works and you certainly remember the experience.

Whilst some of you were running well at the Congleton Cloud 9, I was back in Kendal green for the Haweswater Half Marathon. It is a lovely ‘there and back’ course up the side of the reservoir and despite the relatively short lived hailstones and stinging rain, I really enjoyed it and finished in just over 1:37. Not a personal best but it did form part of my Belfast Marathon training programme and as such was pleasing because it all felt comfortable, even the extended uphills which you get to ‘enjoy’ in both directions.

To end on a note of thanks, it was great to see the men’s cross country team near the finishing line at the Nationals cheering on the somewhat slower Kendal team - all one of me! I really appreciate Trentham club members’ friendly and encouraging attitude. 

Stephen Burrowes

Thanks for this Steve - and pleased to hear that we've made you feel welcome on Team Trentham!


21st March - In the Long Run....

Several of our members were in action over the weekend, taking part in a number of longer distance events from 20 miles up to the marathon.

Over in Rome, the news is that Pete Caci and Andy Northwood were taking part in the marathon over there. Pete ran a superb 3.08.26 whilst Andy ran 3.28 - well done guys - excellent running!

It was also the Milford 21 on Sunday, with Deb, Ryan, Sam, Dale, Jon, Steve, Mark and Jill all taking part. Here are a couple of reports, the first from Stephen Burrowes, and the other from Ryan Procter - thanks to both for sending them in.

The Milford 21

Sensible thought #1 - enter a pleasant 21m race and treat it as marathon preparation.
Sensible thought #2 - Friday, unpleasant dose of the cold, don't have to race/run on Sunday.
Sensible thought #3 - Saturday, cold no worse but no better either, decided probably not to run.
Sensible thought #4 - Sunday 8:00 am, don't feel on top form, won't run.

Should have stuck with that one. Then Lemsip, Caffeine and Ibuprofen, and ....

Stupid thought #1 - feeling ok really, I will run
Stupid action #1 - got in the car, drove to Milford and started the race, ran for 14m anyway. The photograph suggests I was enjoying the run, but that didn't last. Ibuprofen etc. wore off and that was that.
Sensible but only possible physical response #1 - very slow progress, jog/walk back to the start, never mind.

A lesson learned?

Anyway, it was a lovely day aside from the 'running' after 14m  and well done to the other Trentham runners.

Stephen Burrowes.

A quick (yeah right) report for you from Milford. 

"As I have done very little long distance training for the London Marathon in April I thought it was about time I bit the bullet and got some long runs in. I decided one way to get me out and do some miles was to pre-enter the Milford 21 off road race! I have never done this race before and have been told how tough it is with lots of rolling hills and long steady climbs! I decided to wear my trail shoes with very little cushioning as I expected lots of muddy paths and off road trails, however this was not really the case and most of the race (perhaps 80%) is on stony gravel paths or compacted earth paths! 

I set off at a steady pace, not slow, but staying well within my limits. I soon found myself moving up the field, especially on the downhills and the field was getting very strung out. After around 6 miles I'd lost sight of the runner in front and could also see no-one behind. After a long climb I came to a 3 way junction and there seemed to be sawdust just about bloody everywhere! I stopped and decided to wait for the runner behind before choosing left or right, and to my dismay he didn't know either. Luckily a dog walker, of which there were many, was approaching and informed us that some runners had passed him on the right hand track. I'd only lost 40 seconds or so, so wasn't too bothered. after my brief rest I'd opened up a gap again as I splashed through the stream at the water crossing. 

Shortly after the water crossing came the bit I'd been warned about. An innocent enough looking bloke sitting in his deckchair pointing right hailed the beginning of the worst possible section of the race. One of the steepest climbs imaginable followed immediately by the same sort of gradient downhill, then, the same again back uphill! This pattern continued 3-4 times (it seemed like 10) until eventually we were left with an undulating section going mostly uphill to probably the highest point on the race. The climbs were so severe it was almost impossible to run on the uphill sections. I had lost 2 places at this point, and the rollers/switchbacks as they were called had REALLY taken their toll on my legs. Every single incline seemed like hard work after these cruel punishing series of climbs!

 My pace had now slowed and on top of this my choice of footwear was also beginning to punish my tired aching feet, and my fore-foot really ached. After the final drinks station I seemed to be holding my own again in the race with a guy from South Cheshire Harriers not making any significant gains on me from behind. The runners who'd passed me were just seen now on the longest of straights and in the last couple of miles disaster struck. Cruising down a long slightly downhill section through the valley there was a path going round to the left with a definite sawdust arrow pointing half left. I followed the arrow and so did the runner behind. About halfway up the hill I realised something didn't seem right as there were no sawdust dots anymore! I stopped and waited for the guy behind to catch me up. We were both first timers at the race and didn't know if we were going the right way. I turned and saw a group of runners just starting the same climb, and this was enough to convince us both that it must be right!

 On reaching the top there was no sawdust at the junction and we knew now it was wrong! we asked some walkers who said they'd seen the odd runner going straight down the valley! GREAT!

We'd already wasted about 2 minutes now, and the group of runners who were behind must have realised it wasn't right and turned back. I decided to go 'cross-country' to try and find the path, couldn't be too hard just keep heading downhill and you're bound to find the valley. This was the bit of the "Milford 22" as I'd now renamed it that I enjoyed the most, descending through the trees and open heather. As I found the valley track, who else but Sir Dale of Colclough was running past. My will to run had now gone, as had Dale's he told me, and we both were just treading water now! We cruised in the last mile and a bit until the final cruel hill. Dale attempted to run it, I couldn't be arsed, and to his credit did so for maybe 2/3rds of it. I walked it and broke into a jog on the summit!

 A kind lady told us that Bryan was waiting to snap one last painful photo before the kamikaze descent to the finish area. I tried to look my best, but in all honesty I just didn't care anymore! As I crossed the line I jus grabbed a handful of biscuits and a cup of water and began to console myself. Jon Williams had already finished and he told me the arrow was there alright and that he was in the group that started to climb until an old head shouted them back. He said that they'd tried to shout to us but we were too far ahead to hear them. Well done to Jon who had a terrific run and to be fair, he may well have caught me up anyway the way I was feeling at this point in the race. Dale also did well and was a welcome find on getting back on track. Great to see Dale back in the green of Trentham once again and he's a real gem to have around the club with his depth of knowledge and experience. Deb and Sam also managed to go wrong too, which resulted in Deb loosing the 3rd Lady trophy.

Jill Phillips, Mark Hughes and Stephen Burrows also took part and had very good runs too!

I can honestly say that after this race I have never felt so rough at the end of a race before. I felt totally drained and struggled to get back to the car park after consuming as much sugary products as were on offer. The free Mars Bars and Snickers Bars as well as biscuits were most welcome and gratefully received.

 On reflection it was only ever a long training run for London (which gave me no confidence whatsoever) and I wasn't too bothered about the result, but the way I felt after this race just proves to me that I need a LOT more distance training. I am also nursing a HUGE blister on the ball of my right foot and several on both sets of toes (road shoes next time), but it was a very nice event to take part in.

 You can find the full results here

 See you all in a week or so!"

Ryan! x

Meanwhile, this rather long race report has come in from Del.

"Why do I do it? Why do I always decide to take part in some of the hilliest races outside of the area when I’m a self-confessed dodger of hills? Snowdonia Marathon, Langdale Marathon, Dartmoor Discovery, Marlborough Downs Challenge ? I think I know why – it’s because our chosen sport doesn’t always have to be about running as fast as you can and breaking PB’s – it can also be a time to enjoy the scenery, have a banter with other fellow competitors, and have a bloody good excuse for  a slower than normal run!

This time it was the Round-the- Lakes 20-Mile Road Race which starts and finishes in the lovely little market town of Rhayader in Powys, Mid-Wales. Full of history and surrounded by the Cambrian Mountains, Rhayader is the oldest town in Mid-Wales and dates back to the 5th century. Not surprising then that there was a real sense of community on race day with the event being organised by the local athletic club and very well supported by the local people.

 I’d done my homework – 2 loops around the town before heading off in to the countryside where we could expect to have some superb views of mountains and open moorlands, then heading down to the valley bottom and doing a route oddly enough around some lakes and through the Elan Valley before the route brought us back into town with a finish in the cattle market. I also knew that the route was quite tough with a 1000 foot climb up the old coach road just 3 miles into the race, and that this hill ended just past the 6 mile marker (see profile below!)

 I started the race well, and was quite pleased that at 3 ½ miles I was leading the ladies race by just over a minute. But today wasn’t about racing – it was about enjoying being somewhere different, taking in the sights and generally having a good time. It was extremely warm as the race didn’t start until 1pm, and temperatures were hovering around 17-18 degrees already, so I made the decision to stop at the water stations to make sure I didn’t suffer from dehydration later on. The drinks were in plastic cups and people that race frequently will know that there is a certain knack to getting sufficient fluids from a plastic cup whilst on the move – a knack that after 16 years of running I still haven’t mastered, and I usually end up sopping wet, more from spilt water than sweating.

 Anyway, having grabbed a drink I then proceeded up the road, and as I rounded the bend, I caught sight of what lay ahead. The road swung around the mountain side and disappeared into the distance and as I couldn’t see any turnings, I guessed that this was the start of long the climb. I plodded onwards up the hill and was distracted by a superb waterfall in the gulley to the side of the road – a fantastic sight with all that water hurtling down the rocks and making its way to the river in the town below. A bird of prey hovering overhead then caught my attention, and some fellow runners told me that it was a Red Kite, a breed that is renowned in the area, and as I carried on, I gawped upwards as I watched the impressive bird in action. 

Before long, I was passed by the 2nd placed lady – she was flying up that hill with such force that I don’t think I could have given chase if I’d wanted to, yet at the same time I thought “bugger!” Ah well, I would try to catch her on the downhill the other side. Up ahead, I saw what I thought was the trig point indicating the highest point in the area and was somewhat relieved at the thought as by now, my legs had gone like lead. But hang on a minute, my Garmin was only reading 5 miles and I knew that the hill top was at 6 and realised that my poor eyesight had let me down again!

 I eventually reached the top of the hill and the views from the summit are hard to put into words. Rolling mountains and open moors stretching for miles, no traffic in sight and only a few sheep and fellow runners to keep you company. A welcoming smile from the marshals at the drinks station greeted us, and having stocked up on fluids, the descent down into the valley started. I couldn’t even see the leading lady now, but it didn’t matter – I was lost in the moment, going through the motions of running but my mind was elsewhere, taking in the stunning beauty of the unspoilt Welsh countryside. 

Before long, I reached the valley bottom and the first of the lakes. Well actually they are reservoirs that provide water to Birmingham, but they blended in perfectly and added a different dimension to the scenery. I was now out of the gusty wind as it was less exposed, but being sheltered in the valley meant that the heat became more noticeable. It had got to the point where water needed to be thrown over my head to cool me down, and I was now grabbing 2 cups of water at the feed stations.

 The valleys brought pine forests at the side of the road whilst any expectations that the course would flatten out were obliterated every so often with some sneaky little climbs that just sapped the energy and through me off my stride. A lady following  on a bike was handing out jelly babies, so I grabbed a few and stuffed them into my cheeks like a hamster, giving me a drip of sugar for the next half an hour before I started to worry about rotting teeth and decided to chomp through them instead. It turned out that the lady was the wife of a chap who had noticed Trentham ladies in the Bath Half Marathon last weekend, and he actually recognised me from there (pretty amazing considering there were 11,000 runners in Bath, and 4 of them from Trentham!)

 At 15 miles, I was feeling pretty good – ok, the hills had taken their toll and the heat was wearing me down, but I only had 5 miles to go and I had reliably been informed that the leading lady was just over a minute ahead of me. Do I now decide to race and try to catch her, or do I stick to my guns and NOT race – well, I’m competitive aren’t I, so I picked up the pace and tried to close her down.

 It was surprising how many people I passed in the last 5 miles, but even though I was picking up the pace, I still couldn’t see the leading lady – where the hell was she? Then as I began the final climb to the 19 mile marker I thought I spotted her ahead of me going over the brow of the hill. There was no way I would catch her now – not unless I could run up the hill and into town at sub 5 minute miling which was highly unlikely so I decided to gain as many places as possible on my way back into town.

 As I rounded the corner by the ancient clock tower, I spotted Andy who once again had been waiting around for me for the past couple of hours, so I knew I was almost at the finish. I crossed the line as 2nd lady in 2.21.18 - a fantastic race and just a mere 56 seconds or 300 yards behind the lady winner.  I was actually very pleased given the course and the warm weather, and ceratinly have the utmost respect for both the male and female course record holders with times of 1.48 and 2.11 respectively – very respectable times considering the course.

 This truly is a superb race and is what some people would probably call a “little gem”. There are team prizes and several clubs seemed to have sent bus loads to the race, so maybe next year, Trentham could challenge them for the team prize. But even if we don’t send a team, this one is worth considering and no offence to Stafford, but I think I prefer this 20!"

 Full results can be found here. Below are some photies of peeps in action over the weekend. Don't forget to send in your race reports - they are far more interesting that what we tend to write!

 

Deb Thomas and Stephen Burrowes at the Milford 21 on Sunday

The start of the Rhayader Round the Lakes 20 - and right, Del gets into her stride at the start

 

Approaching the finish in Rhayader, and right, Handcrafted Welsh Lead Crystal for the prize winners


30th March - Racing Updates - English Schools XC Champs and the Great Grizedale Trail Run

First, this came through without a name and the e-address didn't give much away, but we are assuming it's from Sara Johnson as she's probably the only member young enough to take part in the English School champs!

"I raced at Stanford Hall in Loughborough on Saturday in the final of the English Schools Cross Country for Senior Girls Category. This was my last year for English Schools so I was determined to give it a good shot.

After staying with the rest of the Staffs team overnight in Loughborough we were the first team to arrive on sight at 5 past 9 which was really a bit too early as the first race wasn’t until 12.30pm! However ,unlike last year where it poured down the weather was really good- very hot and sunny and as I only had 4.5k to do I had no worries about getting dehydrated either. By 1:00pm I was ready to race but my race wasn’t suppose to be until 2:50 so the nerves had gone down a bit by the time I was getting to the start line as I’d been hanging about for ages. At the start I didn’t pull off too fast and gradually worked up through the field.It was a very hilly cause but I’d been doing a lot of running up new inn lane and wedgewood hill lately so I made up a lot of places. I was in about 39th or so place but on the 1.5 k there is a long flat bit where I dropped a few places as I seemed to have lost my stride (or was just knacked) then was- as per usual outsprinted at the end but ended up in 47th place out of 294 of the qualifiers so I was very pleased with the result as I was 70 something last year!"

Meanwhile, Stephen Burrowes has been back home to the Lakes for the weekend, and decided to take part in the Great Grizedale Trail Race. Here's what he had to say:

 Stunning weather and amazing views helped make this a very enjoyable race 10 m off-road race. It is run over forest trails through Grizedale and has views across and back to Coniston. Of course this would suggest that I had the time and energy to look around during what is a hilly race! A deceptively straightforward mainly downhill 3 miles leads into a tough uphill 1 mile which catches many of the overenthusiastic runners who don't know what's in store. The next few miles are a little more than undulating and there are plenty of inclines to slow things down. It feels good to keep pace with some of the mountain bikers who share the trail on some of the uphill stretches and the final sting in the tail lasts for 1/2 m before a fairly fast downhill finish. I was a few minutes slower than last year but was taking things easier and am happy with the outcome.

If you had wanted to make it a really testing weekend in the Lake District, the Coniston 14 took place the previous day and it really is worth trying too. A hilly course around Coniston with amazing scenery and quiet roads. It is deservedly popular and worth putting on your 'to do' list.

Stephen Burrowes

Well done to both of you on your performances. Please feel free to send in your race reports - at the risk of repeating oneself, they make far better reading when coming from you personally!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page last updated 30 March 2009

 

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