Ellesmere 10K

It's always nice to receive reports from different people so it was a pleasant surprise when two reports came through from the recent Ellesmere 10K, and both contributions from persons not normally renowned for their race reporting exploits. First one indeed is from Sam Newton who has never submitted a report before. I know Sam struggles with his reading and writing quite a bit, but non-the-less a welcome contribution:

Seeing as I've never sent you a race report before (and I'm getting sick of the sound of your voice) I thought I'd give you the lowdown on what went on at Ellesmere on Sunday.

After traversing the winding Shropshire roads I managed to make it Ellesmere for 10.15am spotting Dan Clowes and his big red van almost immediately. Once I made it to the race HQ at Lakelands School I saw many more green vests. It's always good to see an abundance of club runners to get the adrenalin going, but especially so when you're an hour away from Trentham.

The race got underway at a remarkable pace, led by Telford's star athlete Chris Davies who was out of my line of sight after minute 1. Putting this swiftly to the back of my mind, I aimed to stay with Carl Platt, Sarah Johnson and Dan over the first few miles. Though Carl, who has been in great form of late, pushed on very well early on and was out of reach after 10 mins. Sarah and Dan then proceeded to gain ground on me and I began to wonder whether the extra miles I'd been putting in of late were paying off. I remember spotting a 5km marker on fairly straight stretch of road and questioning whether I could maintain the same pace over the next 5km. An unattached lady runner came past me at this point, which provided the much-needed kick up the arse required to get my head down and push on a bit.
The 6km marker arrived after a faster downhill section and just before the entrance to the lakeside. The straight-ish stretch along the lake perimeter allowed me to catch a glimpse of Dan so I made it my mission to catch him up, which I did successfully just before we both exited the lake area. After another road section, I spotted Lou Clowes who, having cycled to Ellesmere in a headwind, cheered us both on as we descended onto the canal towpath for the last 2km. It was around this point that Dan began to chat away to me. I have no idea what he said- he could have been speaking Hungarian to be honest- but it seemed to do the trick as we overtook a couple more bemused runners.
Looking at my watch whilst cutting across Aldi car park, it became clear that my PB was out of reach but I wanted to get as close to it as possible. I was still on Dan's heels right until the last 200m but had nothing left to get past him. I was pleased with my finish time of 38.07, especially given the windy conditions. The course wasn't as flat as Bryan Dale would have you believe either! Catching up with the others after the race, it seemed like another successful undertaking for Team Trentham, with Carl finishing 9th overall, Christine Holmes knocking a hefty amount of her PB and the ever-improving Sarah in the prizes again claiming 2nd place lady.

On the whole, it was a well organised race and all finishers got a goody bag which included a t-shirt that could actually run in without perspiring like a Chilean miner. (you can delete this if deemed too distasteful Ryan!)

Well done Sam, a great run and a fantastic result. Next report is from another less well read runner in the form of Carl Platt. Despite having six toes on each foot, Carl still manages to run some fantastic times. Let's read how he got on:

Last Sunday was the 1st Ellesmere 10k race. Advertised as a: completely flat, fast scenic course. So on a nice sunny/windy/rainy (yes we has all weather conditions!) Sunday morning me and Chris went to pick up Sarah and the three of us headed off to Ellesmere. We arrived at the school/sports centre where the race head quarters were with plenty of time to spare. Had a quick scan around then hit the school fields for a warm up.
Whilst we were warming up we bumped into Dan and Sam. Nice to see a few more friendly faces from Trentham!! I said to Dan that I wanted to run the race in 5.50 splits, but that with the weather conditions I might not get what I was hoping for. But I’ll Try my best and see what happens.
After a quick briefing on the school field – the general – keep to the left whilst running etc etc we were escorted to the start: just outside the main school gates. After a quick few minutes the horn blew and we were off. Loads of people seemed to over take me at this point, but looking at my watch I was clocking 5.48min/miles. Just what I was targeting so I thought I'd just keep to my plan and not let anyone put me off. I’d catch most of them up later anyway!!!!
The wind was quite strong at this point so I thought id just sneak in behind a group and take shelter. Stuck with them for about a mile. Ran the second mile in 5.55min/mile...better speed up slightly, so with that I passed them and ran the next 2 miles in 5.50min/miles spot on. Good running, I’m finally getting used to this pacing malarkey!! Hit the lake next, just as it started to rain. Typical, hit the most scenic part of the route and you can’t see much because of the rain, (would’ve been lovely had the sun been shinning!!)
Anyway the last mile along the canal was a toughie as the wind seemed to pick up then. I did however manage to overtake a few people, boosting my confidence quite a bit. So off I went. I finished the race in 36.44 which is 5.53 min/mille just outside what I wanted.

I was really pleased with my performance. And even more pleased when I was told I was 9th. I was over the moon - not only did I knock over 1 minute off my PB I had my first top 10 finish!!!  Not to forget Christine and Sarah – who both had good races. Sarah was 2nd lady with 37.32 and Christine was 6th lady with 40.50 – a new PB for both. So overall a good day out for everyone.

Well done you two and to everyone else who took part from Trentham. Selected results are below:

9th           Carl Platt                      36:44
18th         Sarah Johnson             37:33    (2nd Lady)
23rd         Dan Clowes                 38:06
24th         Sam Newton                38:07
25th         Christine Holmes         40:50


Full race results are HERE!


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Roy Fowler Memorial Relays

The first ever 'Roy Fowler Memorial Relays' took place in Leek today in honour of the great man himself. Roy was a fantastic distance runner representing Great Britain on numerous occasions and also later on founded Staffs Moorlands AC and coached athletics for many years. Trentham managed to take along a men's an ladies team to represent our club. One of the members of the men's team was Paul Gibbings who has sent in this report:

The Roy Fowler Memorial relays had their first running on Sunday, unfortunately due to injuries, holidays and clashes with other races Trentham were only able to field 1 men's & 1 women's team, However both teams did the club proud. Undoubtedly the stars were the Trentham ladies who finished second to a very strong Telford team, and it was great to Jayne Dickens back racing again. I didn't see enough of the ladies race to do them justice in a report so will let them tell you how fantastically they performed themselves.

Although the men's field was quite small, 21 teams started and 17 finished, the standard up the front was undoubtedly strong with Birchfield, who are favourites for the Midland 6 stage in a few weeks winning from a plucky Staffs Moorlands A team who pushed them all the way. Third were Cannock & Stafford, who included Tom Humphries in their team with Tipton in 4th.

The event was 4 x 2 miles, with as to be expected in Leek a relatively hilly course. The good news was the first mile was uphill and the second mile was downhill, so no matter how tired you were at halfway gravity would bring you back down again. Our men's team consisted of 3 vets and the "youngster" Carl Platt. Carl ran the first leg, which can be a bit daunting as these events can have quite a fast start. He got us off to a good start finishing in 9th place in 10:43. Next off was Jason Thomas who kindly agreed to interrupt his drinking to come and help us out. Jason has only been running twice a week recently and put in his usual gutsy performance to finish in 11:11 dropping down just 1 place to 10th.

On the 3rd leg was Paul Gibbings (otherwise known as me). I was quite pleased to be setting off just 7 seconds behind my cross country nemesis and fellow vet John Danahay from City of Stoke. I was able to use him as a target and caught him just before the 1 mile marker. This gave me great confidence and I (kind of) powered the downhill mile taking another 30 seconds out of John, I didn't manage to catch anyone else though and handed over in 9th place with a 10:34 split. Running the last leg was Rob Tabbanor who I managed to badger into turning out, he may not have been out of action for as long as Jayne, but has not raced for several months. However Rob certainly did not let us down moving the team up to our highest position to finish in 8th place with a time of 11:21.

Overall everyone enjoyed the race, hopefully the event will continue next year and will grow, as it is a great warm-up for the Midland relays, which this year take place in Sutton Park on Saturday 25th September. It would be great to get a good turnout for this event so don't forget to see your team captain and let them know how keen you are to run.

Well done to the Men's team and the Ladies team especially for coming second in the race. As Paul said, please speak to your team captain, either Dan for the Men's or Richard for the Ladies, if you'd like to run in team events. It is by no means a closed shop and every member is welcomed and encouraged to run in the team events, especially the up and coming cross country races.

We have had another report in from the relays with one of our elite athletes Jayne Dickens sending in this report. Jayne has been out for a good while now since her foot operation to remove her extra toes and remove the webbing between them. So sore from a cycling holiday and jet lagged she made her way to Leek. Here is her story:

I had a text off Sarah Johnson on Friday evening whilst still in Annecy, France, asking me if I’d be able to make up the Relay team. I’d seen them advertised prior to the hol but  didn’t know if I’d be back by then and 2, my foot still wasn’t 100% and I’d only managed 2 miles twice a wk on the grass. I asked Nick what the chances were of getting back on Saturday night and he said with a smile “Likely” as he knew how much I wanted to be there. With 16 hrs driving, Ferrying and passport control we returned home at 10.30, bed at 11.30 and up at 8am tired but all excited!! The 25,000 ft of Col climbing on the bikes that wk and the travelling were showing (getting my excuses in!)

I picked up Sarah, like old times, we arrived to meet Paul, Carl and Christine. Rob and Jo came later. Top quality had turned out for this event as the winning team prize was £240, there were prizes for the top 6 male teams and top 3 women's, then individual fastest and vet team prizes. They wanted to draw the Crème del la crème and they certainly did with Birchfield Harriers men, one in particular doing a 29 min 10k recently, then Tom Humphreys who was the fastest competitor there. We had Stacey Johnson who's been called up for England, as has Kim Faulke, both of which were in Telford ladies teams. It was interesting how Stacey, the fastest lady, joined the B team to make it more competitive but with Clare Martin and Kim Faulke still in the A team we were hard pushed to beat that. In fact, with Leicester Corinthians, Cheadle and Staffs Moorlands quality field we thought we’d be lucky to get 4th, especially with Trentham having me (no running for a yr!!)

Well Sarah got our team off to a good start coming in first lady, I only just made it to the box in time, she amazed me with a 11.28 on that hilly stretch! My heart rate went immediately up, the pressure was on now, I was leading lady on the 2nd leg, nearly got to the top of the hill when Kim Faulke overtook me, well I couldn’t compete with her (she did 10.57 in the end and think she did a 2.38 marathon last yr!!), then a man came past me, glad I didn’t know Stacey Johnson was behind me too as that would of really put me off (she did 10.33) but good old Ruth Watchorn-Rice was there up to her old wiles gaining on me down the hill as usual, my chest wasn’t used to all this heavy breathing and my heart felt like it was going to pop out any minute, why did I have to go for a sprint finish, this was flippin painful stuff, I was cursing Ruth but we always have a laugh about it when its over. It must of taken me over a minute to try and recover, stooped over for oxygen and red as a beetroot whereas Ruth could speak “Well done” immediately and walked off after 2 secs – I definitely need to start some speed work, however, I was very pleased to get 12.13 as I thought it would of been more like 14. Chris did a flying run, in 11.58 which gave us a good gap on Cheadle which Jo maintained with her 12 mins (or there abouts as its not printed because they had us down as an incomplete team).

When it came to the presentation they announced Cheadle as 2nd team but they backed us up in clarifying that Trentham Ladies did complete and came in before Cheadle. Telford of course won and they put in a Vets team too which also won, some people running 2 legs in 2 teams. Leicester Corinthians were 4th.  Ruth W-Rice put in a fine performance in Cheadle team doing 11.49 (she’s been out injured for a good while too) even beating Kerry Marchant’s 11.57 in Staffs Moorlands.

Great to be back with my fellow team mates (I said that last time with the Spring Treble in March!!), hopefully my foot will let me stay this time, especially for the Cross Countries!! J

 Well done Jayne, a great report and a fantastic effort by all the ladies to take on and defeat some of the best athletes in our area. Just goes to show the quality we have in Trentham Ladies Team at the moment.

Results for the Roy Fowler memorial Relays are HERE IN PDF form and make for some interesting reading. I'm sure if we had one more vet in there the men would win hands down. We just need 3 more to compete in the Seniors with Carl......

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Wolverhampton Marathon

On the same day as the Roy Fowler Relays was the Wolverhampton Marathon and Half. One of our members, Daniel Jordan, was there taking part in the full marathon and by the sounds of things was running with crossed fingers:

Arrived early and got on the car park at Molineux, then strolled over to the park to stretch and pop to the loo. Bumped into Ken Bloor and he was looking at around 3.30, the same as me; we didn’t see any other Trentham runners around. I hadn’t done any distance longer than a half marathon since London, but with training at the club I felt much fitter and faster, and my times are improving on other distances, so why couldn’t I do a marathon in a quick time? As it turned out, of course, it was just sheer bloody-mindedness that meant I finished at all!

I’d had a great plan, and everything was compared back to London and Leek. For London I had gone through the standard 16 week training schedule, I’d done all my long runs, everything was good. My plan on race day was to run fast as long as I could, knowing it was very likely I’d be struggling at the end no matter what. That worked brilliantly to start with, half was 1:41 (my fastest!) and going fast all the way until 19 miles when it all just stopped! I managed to carry on and never stopped running, but just got slower and slower, eventually finishing in 3.39, which I was very pleased with. At the Leek Half I had run a huge negative split and thought this would be a great way to run at Wolves, it had been so much fun at Leek and would prove my fitness had improved and I didn’t just go out fast and get slower, I had some control.

So anyway, back to Sunday, and my plan was this – do the first 10 at 8 min pace, the next 10 at 7.30 min pace, and see what happens for the last 6. In reality, the first 10 were fine, the 10 mile marker was on a long slow hill, so my pace didn’t pick up until 12 miles, but did pick up OK, but then I hit the wall even earlier than London at about 17 miles, and I just had to hang on. I had a little chat with my legs around 22 miles because they were requesting us going home, and I just said “I don’t care how slow you go, but just keep going, we are not stopping and we are not walking”. They complied and we limped home in 3hrs 42 mins 50 secs. Saw Ken at the finish and he had done 3hr 40mins, so he wasn’t too far ahead of me at the end. Very difficult walking to the car and driving back (thank goodness my car is an automatic!) but then after a nice soak in the bath things started getting back to normal.

And the moral of the story is to do some bloody training if you want to take on a marathon, you can’t just turn up! (I know this now)

Thanks for the report Daniel and well done. Results for the marathon can be found HERE!

Ipstones 5

As part of the Ipstones Village Summer Fate the Ipstones 5 road race took part in rural Staffordshire at the weekend. A fixture in the calendar for a number of years now this friendly race is run from the village fire station as a charity event with raffles, craft stalls and all manner of Fatey type things. Many Trentham runners turned out, around 20 altogether, and one of them has sent in this report. The legendry pen-smith, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Daniel Bowman:

Ok I'm going to keep this short because 982 Trentham runners ran Ipstones on Saturday and it's only fair to leave space for their reports.
Rather than go into a tangent later (as is my wont of all wants) I'll ramble for a second before I get revved up with somewhere to go (the end of the report)
I'd firstly like to thank everyone who came to the pub on my wedding day, to help me celebrate my new acquisition, a brand new sparkly wife! It was really good
to see you guys and I was made up with the amount of people who came, even Ian, whom on the first time I spoke to accidentally insulted him:

Me - "Hey up, well done for Muller 10k, 2nd place! amazing!"
Ian - "Thanks"
Me - "When I saw the results I couldn't believe it!"
Ian (Looking unimpressed) "Erm... thanks?"

So again thanks to everyone once again, and thank you for your cards and gifts, they were lovely, you big green lovely things you!
Secondly I'd like to thank Eva and guy for the great night I had Friday at their wedding do.
I made an unintentional faux pas though. In fact I made two of them! Firstly I put a Facebook status on which was meant to congratulate the happy couple, but thanks to my crappy phone it read "Congrats Eva and Gay" and I didn't notice my error until about two hours later. As for the second one, while we were getting ready to go out, Deanne said "You're not wearing that waistcoat are you? it's way to formal" and I was all like "Get outta town baby I look fabulous in this little old thing" but she was adamant that I should wear something else. Anyhoo, I wandered into the venue and noticed about 5 dudes wearing the same outfit as me. I realised then that I was dressed the same as the groomsmen. All night people were looking at me with a "Who the hell is that? and why hasn't he bothered shaving" look on their faces. Speaking of my beard, I quite like it. I notice there's a lot of facial hair knocking about down the club at the mo. Me, Ad, Dave, Ken and Malc are all sporting rather fetching face fungus. I think we should run this years Christmas cracker as ZZ Topp featuring Brian Blessed and Osama Bin Laden. I'll run it by the guys on Tuesday.
Eva came to speak to me a bit later on in the night, but I didn't catch much of what she was saying because she was eating onion bhaji's. In fact, she spat so much onion into my eyes that when I woke up the next day I felt like Stavros Flatley had broken into my house and taken it in turns sitting on my face. My favourite moment of the night however is thus: Eva was asking around for volunteers to take part in the drinking game downstairs, she asked me and a few others and we said no. She then asked Lionel and he was like "Aye why not" and casually strolled downstairs to take part in the pint necking relay. What a legend! Apparently the next day he asked Walt who was in the drinking game, so I don't think he remembers it! haha! Lionel, much respect!
Erm anyway, Ipstones 5 mile. Before this weekend I had no idea where Ipstones was. I also thought it was on Sunday but found out at the wedding do that it was in fact the next day. Since there was a free bar at the wedding I decided to drink now and worry about running later. I've obviously just come back from my holidays too, where I ran once (nearly died, so hot) then didn't bother again. I played Beach Volleyball twice a day (I'm pretty good it turns out) but running? Not much in the last month or so. I also couldn't find my running shorts so I donned my most sensible (but still very homosexual) non running shorts and headed out into the sticks.
I was amazed at the amount of Trentham runners who turned up for the race. I went through the results and discovered 20 Trentham-ers had finished! Amazing! Anyhoo after saying hello to everyone PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP off we went. The first mile and a bit were uphill, so I started off really slow to get back into the stride of things. I passed Ken P, and wished him luck because victory in this race potentially could secure the NSRRA group F title, then Rose, Lee and Barry. I felt pretty good at this point and thought I might actually catch Chris. We went round the corner at the top of the hill and I started to fall apart. Those who know me will know I'm pretty handy uphill, but painfully average on flat or downhills. Barry Passed me, followed by Stan. I then caught sight of something red in the corner of my eye and knew what was coming. The red Submarine like thing passed me and about 20 seconds later, the rest of Ken Bloor followed. I really started to feel rough now and some runners who haven't beaten me for a while started to reel me in. I went past Stan and Stafford cast lady on the uphills but they destroyed me on the flats and downs.
As I rounded the final corner this bloke I speak to from South Cheshire drew level with me, I love this guy, so friendly, great beard too, but I wasn't having this so I got a good sprint finish in and just pipped him. It was good to get the photo with (almost) everyone at the end too. We looked like a massive bowl of mushy peas. Dan Jordan didn't seem too pleased with his performance but I don't know why, he's on fire at the moment. Actually it'll be interesting to see who gets most improved runner of the year at the club awards evening. Phil Thomas would get my vote personally but along with Dan there must be about 10 others who have seriously upped their game this year. (Ha I speak like I'm a club veteran. Cheeky rookie me ; ) ) Arrgghh I hate putting a smiley face next to a close bracket. It makes the smiley face look fat.
I finished in something like 37:52 I think, a good 3:30 off my PB, but my aim now is to start getting serious and become quick enough to do team events. My next big target is to get a PB at Congleton half (under 1:37) then under 1:35 at Birmingham half.

Love you all (but mostly Lionel this week)

Thanks Dan for that literary masterpiece. Long may your running and reporting continue. Well done to all that ran at Ipstones. Results can be found HERE!

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Robin Hood Marathon

At the weekend former round the world explorer Philip Mainwaring took part in the Robin Hood Marathon held in Nottingham. He managed to escape the clutches of the evil sheriff to file this report upon his Lincoln Green Return:

On Sunday I ran in the Robin Hood Marathon, which was part of the Nottingham Festival of Running attracting 8,000 runners for the half and 2,400 runners for the full marathon.
The weather was clear and sunny and quite warm and the atmosphere was brilliant with supporters at every turn especially for the first half. The course twisted over a few hills for the first half staying within the city areas and showing off some of the older architecture and fortifications, while the second half stretched out to old manor houses and contained a long stretch along the River Trent.
I attracted quite a lot of attention during the race as I was dressed as Robin Hood, (one of only two people to do so) and crowds of people not only shouted “Go Robin!” but also burst into song, singing “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen…” which left me with a permanent grin on my face for the first two hours. I completed the first half in 1hr 45min which left me positive for a sub 4hr finish and I’d even set myself the target of being the first fancy dress finisher, chasing down a gladiator, a fairy and a banana, but I hit the wall at around the 20 mile mark and felt dizzy and nauseous every time I tried to move up from a walk to a dignified shuffle (I can’t really call it a run).
After two miles, a long but much needed visit to a portaloo and raiding a drinks station for everything I could steal, I managed to progress not only to a shuffle but to a disfigured jog (the kind of run where you look as though you’ve just suffered a stroke but haven’t realised it yet) and then caught up with a guy that I’d been trading position with over the past 10 miles.
He was walking and in a similar pain but with only half a mile to go we agreed on finishing it together and we managed to get a deafening roar from a crowd of at least a few hundred people at the finish who were all delighted to see Robin Hood cross the finish line after 4hrs and 10mins. I’m a bit disappointed at not hitting 4hrs but the event was spectacular and I definitely recommend the course, the first half is hilly but it levels out for the latter half and the singing and shouting of support is something to remember.

Well done Phil. Great to see you back running at the club again and no doubt preparing for you favourite pastime - Cross Country!

Results for the Marathon can be found HERE!


Derwent Trail Race

This report is a couple of weeks old now but thanks to Stephen Burrowes for sending it in. Steve did the race on the 5th September back in his home territory of the Lakeland Fells. Here is Mr Goombay's story:

Keeping up my recent training policy of trying to get in a long run just before a race so that I always have a ready excuse for a mediocre performance, I explored the Shropshire Union Canal from Market Drayton up to and beyond Audlem Locks notching up 20 miles. This was pretty much on the flat apart from the stretch along the locks and so it was fitting that the Derwent Water Trail Race two days later was pretty much up a big hill followed by down a smaller hill and then up it again followed by quite a steep descent back to Keswick.

According to my Garmin there was 2872 ft of ascent over the 9 miles and as well as hills there was an extremely boggy uphill section which either tested your agility and misplaced optimism in trying to avoid getting your feet, ankles, calves and thighs muddy or tested quadriceps strength trying to get your feet up and out of the quagmire. I wasn’t able to skip and dance around the bogs so it was a question of plodding through them.

Before reaching these, the course takes you along the old railway line out of Keswick and this is only very gently uphill and can catch the unwary who speed off only to fall by the wayside on the uphill sections after the 3m mark. I set off steadily (my preferred way of saying slowly) and was soon overtaken by Matthew Brown, a Vale Royal runner who I often meet at these events. We are of a similar standard but it really looked like he was going to leave me well behind on this occasion. I’d hope to catch him on the first uphill but my legs felt like lead and although not losing position, I wasn’t gaining either. Still by the end of this race I had completed my highest mileage week (50m) since last year so I can’t complain.

Having overcome the bogs, you drop down into a valley before a steep climb out which gets you back to the fell tops again. Once there the route is very rocky and potentially treacherous since the rock is almost ‘polished’ in places, the path is narrow and there is quite a steep drop off to the left as you run back in the general direction of Keswick. I am always quite circumspect in my running at this stage but did feel able to pick up the pace soon after the path began to broaden out and drop downhill again. At this stage the old legs began to feel up to being stretched out a little and I started overtaking people. In fact I would even go as far as saying that I was enjoying this bit and the second half of the race saw me actually racing people, overtaking them and clawing back some of the substantial lead that Matthew had built up. Somehow he realised that I was reeling him in and managed to pick up his pace for the final 0.5m back into Keswick. He ran well and I don’t begrudge the fact that he held me off. My time was very close to last years and since this was at the end of a high mileage week I felt pretty pleased with myself.

My next outing is the Berlin Marathon on 26 September, which is also the reason for my ‘preparing’ for recent races by running 20m just before them. Basically it was the only way of getting the long runs fitted in.

Thanks for that Steve. Well done on another great run and very best of luck for the Berlin Marathon at the end of the month. Look forward to hearing all about it :-)

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Ken's Ipstones Report

Rather than just update the existing race reports from Ipstones 5 which took place at the weekend, I thought Ken Pearson's report was definitely worthy of it's own column space on the TRC website. As we have all been reading about, Ken has had a real resurgance in his racing and has been enjoying a fantastic season so far. What you may not know is that Ken has promised to shave off his beard should he come out top of group F in the nsrra at the end of the series. Let's read if this is looking more likely:

As the season is getting towards its close I have been studying form to see what I needed to do to catch Darren Taylor who has been leading the Group for most of the season. It looks like its between 3 of us, myself, Darren Taylor and Steve Babb. I think Darren is the biggest challenge as even if Steve wins the last 3 races, if I finish 3rd in any of the races I will still finish in front of him.

So we come to the Ipstones 5, its years since I last ran this race but I have covered the first hilly part of the course a few times in the last few months but on the motorbikes with Lionel and Walter rather than on foot.
Today there is an added challenge as the race is also part of our road race series, I’m leading Group 2 but only because I’ve done more races than Rose who is just behind. So as well as the NSRRA group race there is the added challenge of finishing far enough in front of Rose. The final issue for me is right hamstring which is pretty much OK now but there is always the nagging doubt that running too fast and downhill will pull it again. That’s the last thing I need with 3 races to go.

So my plan is to concentrate on finishing in front of Darren and Rose but if I feel frisky I’ll run hard and if Steve is in front I’ll see if I can finish in front of him. I ran quite well up the hills in other races so I should be able to get a good start and hopefully keep ahead. I read Bryan Dales comments in the Autumn newsletter and I can fully appreciate the pre-race preparation. I have clean vest, favourite shorts and socks, numbers lined up properly and matching safety pins front and rear! Despite the rain in the morning its sunny and warm at Ipstones which is great for the Carnival. For a change Caroline comes with me for support or is it to just see the fireman?

We arrive at 14:30 and register, nice and quick and cheap! There’s plenty of other runners about to have chat with, especially my Group runners and the other Trentham runners. The front runners are here but no sign of Steve, Darren thinks he has seen him but I’m not so sure. The conversation is naturally about the hills, the weather injuries and race tactics. I’m quite nervous and quite keen to get on with the race. I manage to pinch some of Caroline's ice cream and have a wander up and down to warm up.
I make sure I start near to the front, with Darren and Rose not far away. I start quite well up the hill and settle down through the village centre. As we go out of the other side Rose comes past which surprises me as she admits to not being too strong on hills. I overtake her quite quickly and then Darren comes past and pulls away by a few metres. I had hoped to keep in front of him up the hill so that a disappointment. I’m also surprised how long the hill is, I thought it was only a mile but we pass the mile mark well before the top of the hill. I’m working harder than I want to but I can’t let Darren get away. There are a few metres between us as we turn left at the top of the hill with Rose just behind and it stays  that way along the road until we get to the track.

I like the downhill parts and catch Darren at the top of the track. I go past and push on as I’m feeling good and I pass a few runners. I’m enjoying the downhill bit until I feel a twinge in my left hamstring. This is not good and I know exactly what will happen if I keep the same pace up so I slow down a bit and shorten my stride. I stay with the other runners around me and the flatter road at the end of the track helps. I have to make sure I finish and don’t do too much damage. I’m half expecting Darren to come past but no sign of him and I’m not going to look back to see where he is. We turn left up another hill which I wasn’t expecting. One of the Trentham ladies comes past so I have a target to follow but I re-pass her fairly quickly.

We get to the twisty bit and the short sharp hill, Lee has caught me up and we sort of run slowly (walk quickly) up the hill. He picks up the pace a bit before the top and with a mile or so to go I run with him which suits me and keeps my pace up. The relatively flat bit towards the village is hard work but I just about keep up with him and I’m now planning what to do when Darren comes past, do I race him or let him go? As we go round the last corner onto the downhill part to the finish I risk a glance behind and can’t see Darren so I ease off a bit knowing he wont catch me now. Lee lets me go in front as he wants to run in with his daughter. I cross the line in 38.53 which is a bit slower that I had hoped for but I’m first F Group finisher and the priority was to get 50 points so mission accomplished.

The hamstring didn’t get any worse in the second half of the race but I warm down and do a few stretches. There seem to be loads of Trentham runners who finished in front of me so we have a post race discussion about who did what and who has won a prize. I also catch up with the group runners, looks like Darren was second so that means I’m finally at the top of the group but only by 2 points. Rose was only half a minute behind so I guess she gets the points for our club championship.

As I’ve won the group prize I stay for the awards and as there is a choice of prizes my wife decides that the Portmerion bowl will be perfect. Fortunately no one else chooses it so it’s mine (hers!). She tells me the “one in one out” rule doesn’t apply to bowls!

Well done to all those who won prizes and thanks to the Trentham runners who gave me encouragement and support in the race. A special thanks to Bryan Dale race photos for actually taking some decent picture of me. For a change I look reasonably athletic rather that the usual “death warmed up” or “catching flies” poses that he catches me in!

Despite a win today the final Group placings are still undecided but its just me and Darren now for the first two places and just two races to go. It looks like it will depend on the Flying Fox race result so it’s back to some serious training for the next two months!


 Well done Ken, a great group F win again and destiny now lies in your own hands. The beard is certainly in jeopardy now!!!!


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St. Thomas' 7

With the weather threatening to misbehave on Sunday there was a decent turnout in the end for this small friendly race in only it's second year. Having not written a report for a while Ryan Procter decided to dust off the old feather and refill the ink pot to send in this viewpoint on proceedings:

I have not been in attendance at many races this year having somewhat lost my inspiration to run recently, but I am trying to maintain a level where I can at least take part in events and stay (reasonably) fit. I decided to do this one for a number of reasons. Firstly, as it's such a low key race on the calendar I could treat it as a fun run, Secondly, I really like these smaller races and as I couldn't do it last year I wanted to support Mark Churton, the organiser, who has put so much time and effort into getting this race on the events list and is now in it's second year. The third and final reason is that my Football Gaffer was running it and we decided it would become a 'team' event, hence the fact I was running in my goalkeeping jersey.
As I awoke from my beer induced coma on Sunday morning to peer into the murky daylight threatening to break through the cumulonimbus carrying tons of rainwater across the sky I realised that I had no choice in the matter of attending the race, as I had also agreed to give Jill and Daniel a lift there so they could run back afterwards. On arrival it seemed that there would be a very small field as the normally bustling race HQ was somewhat subdued. I paid my money to enter and was rewarded with a number 7, I think just to remind me of the miles I was about to run.
One welcome sight was a certain P. Burslem who I hadn't seen for a while, and it must be said, was looking very fit and healthy. Paul cycled to the race in a roundabout way and was also cycling back afterwards, and hoping to avoid heavy rainfall. I guess he had already had a precipitous encounter as he was hanging his cycling shorts and jersey over the radiator as we headed up to the start. It was nice to see a good few Trentham runners there and Adam along to support as well as Walter (Bryan's new bitch) snapping away behind the lens.
Off we went and after a reasonably easy start heading downhill to a junction, we then turned left and it was the first of many uphills. Trying not to force the pace as I had no idea what time I was expecting to do I eventually settled into a rhythm after a mile or so and found myself just tucked in behind 2nd & 3rd Ladies and Gary from Stone.
There was a Horse Hash going on in the same lanes around Tean and we had to be aware of these large animals heading towards us at regular intervals. Strangely there was also a runner with a number on mixed in amongst these horses who was also going in the opposite direction. Not sure if he was part of that event or what?
I can only really compare this race to Meerbrook in terms of the terrain, being run as it is, exclusively on the road and also exclusively either Uphill or Downhill with very little in the way of level ground in between. Obviously it is only half the distance of Meerbrook, but nevertheless still a VERY challenging course. As I passed the one and only drink station after about 4 miles or so, one of the many children who were helping out said the number 13 as I passed.  Either this was a random number spasm, or he was actually counting the runners. Thankfully as I was beginning to tire somewhere between the 5 and 6 mile marker, it seemed more and more likely that I could get around this race without getting drenched, but less likely that I would maintain my position in the race. Gary from Stone was now way ahead, and I could hear footsteps behind, and sure enough a few seconds later a very comfortable looking runner glided past me, followed by another.
With less than a mile to go I could see Amy Cope and Adam Brearley ahead supporting the race. I asked Amy if there was anyone behind and she replied, "yes a lot....... but no-one in sight". Bloody teaser!!!! The inevitability of loosing places and negative thoughts were suddenly replaced with optimism and positivity that I could maintain my position. The contrasting thoughts and their potential effects on the mind of a runner (a weak runner like me) were both played out in one very short sentence.
Anyway, at one particularly well marshalled corner, it's always where there's a crowd, I almost hit the deck as I slipped on the gravel and grit on the inside of the corner. I just about managed to stay on my feet much to the dismay of the watching crowd who gasped and oooohed in anticipation. After disappointing them it was a welcome downhill stretch back into Tean before turning left one final time and back uphill to the school and the finish. I have to say I was REALLY pleased with my run, and although it is nowhere near what I was running last year I did enjoy just being there and taking part and seeing all the other runners that I hadn't seen for months. I forgot how encouraging we runners are to each other.

Anyway, at the pointy end of the field a certain Miss Sarah Johnson wowed the crowds with an amazing performance to take the ladies race and come 5th overall in a time of 43:37. The prize of a Sub-4 analysis and a free pair of trainers was a great reward for a sterling effort. Debbie Thomas had a good run to come 4th lady and Jill Phillips was 3rd in her age group. Paul Burslem also had a cracking run to come 7th overall in a time of 46:19 and also come 2nd in his age group. Daniel Jordan also managed to come 2nd in his age group too, so well done everyone.

As I say, I'm sorry to steal anyone's thunder by getting my report on first but please do send in your reports as well. It's great to get a perspective from many different viewpoints. Well done to all that took part, including Lee Jones, who for some reason decided not to enter as a Trentham RC runner?!?. Just short of 100 runners took part in this 2nd year of the event so well done for that also.

Debbie Thomas has also been kind enough to send in a report from the race so here is Deb's offering:

Early in the morning of Sunday 19 September myself, Adam Brearley and Sara Johnson (also with Gary Jones of Michelin in tow) set out early to head to the HQ of St Thomas 7 which started at 10.30am from St Thomas’ primary school in Upper Tean. Weather conditions were favourable; cool, dry and cloudy with little threat of rain or blasting hot sunshine. Sitting in the school hall we caught sight of fellow club runners Ken Bloor, Neil Middleton, Daniel Jordan, Lee Jones, Paul Burslem, Ryan Procter, John Dowie and Jill Phillips who had all turned up to take on this scenic undulating challenge.
There were large maps of the race route on the walls and Paul B kindly gave us a race briefing stating that the course began on a slow hill and then was “bumpy” until at 1.5 miles or thereabouts the course took in a good long downhill till about mile 3 where thereafter it was undulating before a final steep downhill at the finish. This didn’t sound too bad but it was good to know at what point the hills would be appearing.

After a little warm up, at 10.20am we were all walked up to the start of the course; which thankfully started at the top of the hill rather than at the bottom as we had first assumed on arrival. Sara mentioned that it had been a while since she had actually won a race so we all said that she’d best do it today then!! Just before the start we were informed by the race organisers that a local riding school with about 60 horses (!) were out on a tack that morning and there was a slim chance they might interrupt the race but they were aware of us runners and hopefully there wouldn’t be any incidents/problems. (I held onto this information, preparing to use it as an excuse if I ran badly!!) I had positioned myself toward the front of the pack, about 2-3 rows in, and Sara was near enough on the frontline (good girl I thought!). Just in front of me were Sharleen Hollinshead and Ruth Watchorn-Rice of Cheadle who I did think Sara would be capable of beating but that you never know… Then the gun went off and off we started up the country lane which then began to creep uphill. We headed out towards Freehay and I had said to myself that I would aim to average 7.10-7.20 pace due to the fact that the course was quite hilly and I wasn’t that strong on them at the moment but my first mile was 7.25 – not too bad considering it was uphill and I was ‘pacing’ myself…..!

A guy next to me said he had hoped for a 6.45 first mile so I commiserated him and then proceeded to overtake!! Kick a man when he’s down eh! I could just about see Sara a good way in front at this point and as the other two ladies weren’t too far from me I was confident that she would maintain the lead and win the ladies race!! Paul B and Ryan were also in front so I knew they’d also finish quite high up in the pack. True to Paul’s word, at roughly 1.5 miles in the course turned downhill and allowed my splits to improve to 6.28 for mile 2 and 7.00 for mile 3.

At mile 3 (Greatgate Wood) the course turned a corner and changed to being flat and gently undulating. Ken Bloor came past me at this point and warned that this part of the course involved lots of little hills as “what we have just come down, we’ve got to go back up!” – great I thought; pleasure before the pain!! Between mile 3 ½ and mile 5 the undulating nature of the course, which seemed to me to be undulating upwards more than downwards, began to tax and I felt myself slowing slightly, plus there was a mild headwind to push against too which didn’t help! As the course took us closer to the finish some familiar supporters (Amy Cope (Stone MM) and our very own Adam Brearley!) gave us a shout and I was told that Daniel Jordan was about 15-20 seconds behind me. Determined not to be overtaken I dug deep and used the last downhill just before the finish as much as I could to keep him off me and I ran up the small hill to the school the quickest I have ever done in my life to finish in 50.17 and 4th lady with Daniel 13 seconds behind me!!

Once I’d gathered myself together I was told that Sara had won the ladies race and had finished 5th overall – an amazing achievement! At the presentation Daniel Jordan, Jill Phillips and Paul Burslem had also won age category prizes so all in all Trentham had a pretty brilliant result!! Well done to everyone who ran the race, it was a “bumpy ride” as Paul B very candidly put it! I think I’ll give it another go next year to see if I can better it….and it is my namesake race after all….!!!

Well done Debbie and thanks for sending in the report.

Results are HERE!

Sarah                                                     Ryan                                                Daniel

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Shell Sutton 6 (10k)

Sam Newton who is gearing up for his favourite events, the cross country season, took on the Shell 'Sutton 6' 10k at the weekend. I think he was hoping to keep it a secret but after looking through some of the weekends results I noticed what a good performance he put in. After a little persuasion Sam has been kind enough to send in this report to give us a run down on the race:

Seeing as I don't live in Staffs anymore (Cheshire now don't you know...), I was somewhat reluctant to make the trek down the A50 to Tean for the 7miler. I dropped Mr Yates a line on FB whose time from last year confirmed that the course had a few hills (sorry Ian) so this put the kybosh on that idea. So I set about scouting for another flatter, closer race and came across the Shell 'Sutton 6' 10k organised by West Cheshire AC.
On the day, the Sat Nav said race HQ was still 45 mins away and with the weather being pretty gloomy that morning, an about turn did cross my mind but i'd pre-entered so it was hard lines.
Upon getting to Guilden Sutton (just off the A51), the set-up reminded me of Clayton. Cars parked in every available side street, registration in a knackered old school and very few athletic-looking folk around (including myself). But give me this any day over the likes of the 'Great' North Run's 42 quid-a-go.

The hooter went and it became apparent that the field wasn't the best, with only a couple of people pushing much above 6 min/mile pace. The course was basically a small 4k lap followed by a 6k lap. Not knowing the course or anyone else there apart from one or two South Cheshire runners, I struggled to pace myself early on. I'd set my watch to do 0.5k splits, so I needed to average 1min52(.5!) splits for the 37:30 time that I was aiming for to get a PB for the distance. I averaged 3:34 for the first 2km which were slightly uphill, so yet again I had gone out too quick at the start. (Where's Dale when you need him?).

It has to be said, the course was pants. No pretty lakes, fields or wildlife here, just a series of housing estate cut-throughs and backlanes- twice. Anyway, I kept a steady pace with a couple of runners til about 6km where an older gent came past me. Followed by another. I tried to stay with them which I did on the whole but couldn't make up the ground. Km's 7 to 8 were along the beautiful A51. (The way the ar-tics were spraying against my legs as they past by was reminiscent of the equally scenic St Michaels 10k along the A34). It was a downhill stretch and as I looked through the CO2 at my watch passing the 8km mark to find that I'd averaged 6 min/mile so far. I realised that if I maintained the pace over the next uphill 2km a PB was in the bag. Easier thought than done. I approached the final turn towards the finish and my watch alarmed prematurely to tell me that I'd done the distance in 37:29 (honest!) which would have been 6:01 m/m Av I think?. So when I crossed the line a short while later I couldn't stop my watch, but I was fairly certain I'd beaten my PB of 37:52.

It wasn't 'til later that day I checked the results online to find out I'd equalled it. Oh well, I was four years younger then. All in all, as you may have gathered, I won't be doing that race again in a hurry. But at least it served as good training so I can kick the cross-country team leader's arse over the winter. Get training Mr Clowes!

Well done Sam on such a good race and I think you are being very modest about your performance. Sam came 16th in a field of over 200 in a time of 37:52. If you would like to see the results for the Sutton 6 10K then have a look HERE!


Bupa Great North Run

Whilst some of us were tackling the hills around Tean on Sunday a few Trentham Runners had bigger fish to fry over in Newcastle (upon Tyne that is). As far as I know three Trentham Runners made it to the start line and amongst them was Phil Thomas. Phil was hoping to crack his half marathon PB and here is his story:

The highs and lows of my first great run!

Sunday the 19th of September didn’t start out like any other racing morning; for one thing I was in a hotel overlooking the River Tyne and its Iconic bridges.
As I looked out of my second floor window at 8.30 to see if it was raining I could already see runners wearing bin bags moving on mass down the road, all heading in one direction, to the start of the 30th Bupa Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon. I gulped at the thought of what lay ahead for me over the course of the next few hours. My head was filled with the music "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" which only added to the growing fear in my mind about the race.

I stuck to my usual pre race rituals and foods. A cup of coffee and a big bowl of bran flakes and some apple juice at least 2 hours before the start has been my tried and tested formula to keep going during races and runs for the last 2 years now so at around 9.20; I and my other half Kedren who had run the 2008 GNR, joined the ever growing throng of runners now snaking its way through the retail centre of Newcastle.

By the time I got down to the Kilometre long starting area, the wheel chair race had just started and the elite women were about to kick off. Ass we walked to my starting zone we saw Ant and Dec laughing with the crowd and stopped to take a photo, we then saw a donkey runner! Well someone in a very good donkey costume. We saw some of the wackiest and wickedest fancy dress outfits as we made out way to zone D.
After a couple of nervous toilet stops in the bushes above the central motorway I said good bye to Keds who I’d meet at the finish in South Shields later and queued to get in to my starting pen with a few hundred other orange numbered runners.

For what ever reason they closed the gate to Zone D and panicked runners then darted forward to zone C only to find we couldn’t get in there as it was too full, by now a few people had climbed over the 6 foot high metal fences. It was starting to look like a scene from the Hillsborough disaster and my adrenaline kicked in and with a handful of others we sprinted further to the start at zone B and pulled the fences up out of the stands and held them high enough for people to scramble under and into the race. I went under very quickly and then held the metal post at one end allowing others to crawl under after me. After a few minutes someone else took my place and my race then started. I walked forward with the rest to the sounds of Mark Knopfler’s theme which I always find emotional at the best of times.

My aim was to set a new PB as this would be my flattest half marathon course I had run to date and I did the 2010 Potters Arf in 1 hour and 57 minutes so I felt this race held a good chance for me to go one better. My start couldn’t have gone better, well once I’d got into a starting pen! To be so far forwards just one zone up from the elite men was maybe a bit too ambitious but it meant I wouldn’t have so many people to push past.
I set off at a steady pace and didn’t feel too hemmed in by slower runners and I also didn’t feel like I was going too slow for the group I was with. The first mile down hill came and went in a blur and I checked my Garmin to make sure my pace wasn’t creeping up into the 6 and 7 minute miles which would be way too quick to go at the start.
I soon crossed the most famous land mark in the race, the Tyne Bridge and set off through a series of under passes as I made steady progress through Gateshead.

I heard the roar of the red arrows fly over the bridge and turned to look for a second and marvel at the spectacle but then it was on up the first hill towards the Gateshead Stadium and then on up to Heworth. Another glance at the Garmin and I was still running at 8.5 minute miles. Somewhere between miles 4 and 5 I started to feel comfortable with my pace and tried to relax into the race. My Garmin did seem out by at least point 2 of a mile as it would bleep a while after I’d gone past the mile posts on the course so I wasn’t sure what had gone pear shaped as I’d started it the moment my feet hit the mat at the start but I was going well and I hit the 15K mark in 1 hour and 21 minutes, from my Garmin time I hit 10 miles in 1 hour and 25 minutes which is my fastest 10 miles to date.
I was now feeling it and this was a hard tough and gruelling last 3 miles. I’d got through my gel at mile 7 and eaten a jelly baby and stopped at every water and Powerade stop on route in an aid to give my legs and body everything it needed to keep going. Throughout the run the rain held off and it was 15c by the time I hit mile 12. My legs we’re dead and I had pain etched across my sweat soaked face as came over that hill and the North Sea came into view, I just remember saying thank God.
As I ran along the road with the sea to my right I remember feeling faint and seeing other runners by the side of the road being tended to by medics, I just thought I had to go on and go on at the best speed I could find. The end soon came into sight and I summoned some energy for a sprint finish after about 600 meters. I was in a total and complete state of exhaustion at the end and once I’d dropped my timing chip in a bin I limped over to a field and collapsed. I lay on my back for what seemed like an age with the world spinning around me. I then got up and slowly walked over to get my goody bag and medal.
I then went over to the charity tents to meet Keds.
I was feeling very low as I’d not hit my target of beating 1 hour 57:59.
I’d raced around the course in 1 hour and 58:29. 31 seconds off a new PB.
These are my split times 5k - 25:56, 10k - 53:25 and 15k - 1:21:15.

I felt so low but as the day came to a close and we drove back to the hotel in Newcastle I started to feel a real sense of achievement. Of the 6 competitive half marathons I’ve ran to date this was my second best time and my overall position was 10,728 and this means I had about 30,000 other runners behind me. A few days later and though the legs still felt painful I really was proud of my achievement and I’m sure I’ll run in future Great North Runs. Maybe even the 60th run in 30 years time at which point I’ll be 65 years young!

Running the 30th Great North Run is my biggest running achievement in my fledgling running career so far.

Well done Phil, and I wouldn't get too hung up about not getting a new PB as I know several people who have run the Great North Run and been 5 minutes off their predicted time, simply because of the congestion at the start so I'm sure somewhere like Congleton in a few weeks time would lend itself much better to a new PB!

The other runners from Trentham who ran in the GNR were Christine Holmes and Alejandra Garcia so congratulations to them too. Results can be found HERE!

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Midland Road Relays

Trentham RC managed to take 3 teams along to the Midland 4 and 6 stage road relays this weekend and Del Salt was one of the team members to take part. Here is her report:

On Saturday, a bunch of Trentham runners consisting of 8 ladies and 6 gents, headed down to Sutton Park for the Midland Road Relays. For the ladies, we had 2 teams for the 4-stage whilst the chaps had 1 team for the 6-stage.
Those of you that have done the relays in the past will know that the course is a little undulating, with a hill at both the start and finish, but some good running in between. The 4-stage for the ladies is also slightly shorter than the relays held in the spring - a distance of approximately 4.3km (2.6 ish miles).

With enough ladies for 2 teams, the Trentham A team consisted of Sarah Johnson, Jo Donnelly, Debbie Thomas and Adela Salt. Sarah got us off to a brilliant start on the first leg which she did in about 15.50, to give us 9th position. Jo managed to gain one postion, finishing her leg in 16.46, before Debs set off. Facing some stiff competition on the third leg, Deb fought valiantly to keep as many places as possible, eventually handing over to Del in 11th position having ran a super 17.50 ish. On the last leg, Del tried to hold on but got passed by 2 whipper snappers half way round. However, following a battle in the last 400m or so, Del managed to pass another team and brought the Trentham A Team home in 12th place after running 16.51.
The B team also did extremely well and it was great to see some new faces taking part in the from of new member Becky Austin, and Amanda Hughes. Along with Jill Phillips and Rose Wilson, the team finished 52nd out of 69 teams with all of them running some splendid times - well done ladies!
If you thought the ladies race was extremely competitive, the men's race was even more so. Trentham fielded one of the strongest teams for a while, with Carl Platt, Adam Brearley, Dale Colclough, Paul Gibbings, Rob Tabbanor and Jason Thomas. The men's course was 5.6km, and fastest on our team was a sprightly Paul Gibbings in just over 20 mins, but all the chaps did really well and finished 41st team overall.
The national road relays are on 18th October with the closing date for entry being 30th September, so if you are interested in taking part, PLEASE let you team manager know ASAP (Richard O'Keeffe for the ladies, and Dan Clowes for the gents)

In the meantime, well done to everybody that took part in the relays.

Thanks for the report Del. I was promised a report from the men's team but none has been forthcoming so far. If it does materialise then expect to see it just about here!


Berlin Marathon

Thanks to Stephen Burrowes for sending in this report from the recent Berlin Marathon:

What a frustrating year it’s been with hardly any races to contribute to the club championships, NSRRA and even fewer for Vernon’s Stupid Heroes League. Things started so well after Christmas and built up quite nicely to a time 3 seconds shy of a half marathon pb in Prague when I was only aiming for a decent Belfast Marathon build up race and a good holiday. How I wish that I’d prioritised Prague instead! At least I was able to complete Belfast without making the achilles problem any worse but it was a couple of months before I felt that training was beginning to get back on track and by this time I was well behind in terms of being properly prepared for Berlin.

I’ve been apprehensive about this marathon, really wanting a good time on what should be a pb course but not confident about what would happen on the day. So it was with a less than positive attitude that I joined the tens of thousands of other participants standing around clad in plastic bags hoping the rain would stop and the cloud would lift. The weather didn’t improve and the winner, Patrick Makau, finishing in a time of 2:05:08, reckoned it added 11/2 minutes to his time. My plan was to go out at 8 minute mile pace and see how things felt around the 6 or 7m point and either speed up or just try to hold that pace. I know from Belfast that at worst I would slow down but still finish but this plan would leave the option of a sub 3:30 time if things were going really well.

Jim Holland had been good enough to pick up my number for me and although I was a bit worried about missing him in the crowds on race day that went quite smoothly thanks to his ‘local’ knowledge. Having sorted out my clothing, swapping a decent waterproof for a bin bag and saying goodbye to Liz, I headed off for the start along with thousands of others only to remember 2 minutes later that I’d left all my gels with Liz. By this stage there wasn’t enough time to risk trying to find her so it was on to plan B which meant taking potluck with the German water/ nutrition points.

This was rapidly turning into a mental as well as physical test. At least whilst the rain was unpleasant, the temperature was comfortable and the organisation meant that getting up to race pace at the start was really easy and I’d landed pretty much bang on my planned pace putting in 7:57m/mile pace. By the 5m mark I knew that speeding up wasn’t going to be on the cards, that I definitely hadn’t got rid of a pre-race cold and that I was succumbing to a very negative NEVER AGAIN frame of mind. Making a determined effort to look on the positive side, I realised that my muscles and tendons seemed to be behaving themselves and when an early drinks station arrived, those kind Germans had made sure that there were plenty of fluids, bananas and apples and had included plenty of Powerbar isotonic energy drinks which was the option I went for. Good news and what a relief, things were looking up. To cut a long (26.2m) story short, I managed to hold to my target pace for 16 miles before beginning to slow down slightly but it was in the final 5 miles that I really lost time, probably adding about 7/8 minutes to the total finishing in a time of 3:40:45.

Berlin is a great city to visit, nearly every aspect of the organisation was excellent, there are sights to take in as you run round and the course is virtually flat which makes a pb that bit more attainable. Although I didn’t really enjoy the race at the time, mainly because I knew from a very early stage that I wasn’t going to get my pb, I am seriously considering going back next year so so much for NEVER AGAIN. Now I’d better go and pack my extreme weather gear for the Coniston Trail Race tomorrow!

Well done Stephen. Look forward to reading the report from Coniston :-)


Winsford NSCCL

Thanks to Deb who has sent in this report from Winsford, the 1st round of the 2010/11 North Staffs Cross Country League:

Can’t see that anyone has posted a report from Winsford, so here’s a little tale from me….

The first XC race of the year took place at Knights Grange Sports Complex in Winsford as apparently the usual location of Lyme Valley is undergoing some building work so was deemed unsuitable. I travelled up with Jill Phillips and Sara Johnson following Rose Wilson and Becky Austin who led the way in the car. Once parked up we made our way down the road to the fields outside the sports centre. Here we met Jason Thomas, Adam Brearley and Carl Platt who had turned up in good time of their race at 2.05pm to support us girlies and also help to put up the club tent, which was kindly brought along by Dan Clowes. The ladies were due to begin racing at 1.30pm so we had plenty of time for a good warm up and 500 visits to the loo! Our course involved two large laps of the mildly undulating/pretty much flat grassy fields and would be slightly over 5km. As the start of the race approached we all, nervously, headed down to the start line only then to be told that there was a 5 minute delay. Good job the weather was dry and mild or else we’d have all been blue and stiff!! I managed to get pretty much on the front line along with Sara, Jo Donnelly, new runner Mandy Vernon, and was closely next to Karen Marshallsay. On the gun we started off up a little climb before heading out and around the perimeter of the first large field. I could see that Sara, Jo and Mandy had made good progress from the gun and Karen was very close to me just in front. As the racers split up I remained close to Karen and two ladies from Telford. As we turned course to head down a long straight, I eventually managed to creep past Karen and then overtake the two Telford ladies. Then, strategically using some twisting parts of the course (!!) I undertook a couple more ladies before climbing up the small mound and then beginning lap no 2. During my second lap I managed to pass at least another 5 ladies (three within the last half mile), dig deep and just about maintain my position; the lady chasing me finishing only 2 seconds behind! On finishing I clocked at time of 21.59 and 17th lady overall (despite being told by Adam on my first lap that I was tenth… Someone buy him an abacus please!!) I enjoyed the course at Winsford as it allowed better, faster running with it being firm underfoot and ‘clean’!

Overall Trentham ladies team are currently 1st in the league with great performances from Sara Johnson (2nd), Jo Donnelly (7th), Mandy Vernon (8th), Deb Thomas (17th) counting for the ladies, and being supported by Karen Marshallsay (26th), Rose Wilson (40th), Becky Austin (63rd), Jill Phillips (77th), Jackie MacPhail (119th) and Claire Wood (120th).

As for the guys; well they had to endure four large laps of the fields and despite most of them complaining that after the second lap they began to find it tedious, they all ran brilliantly to put Trentham gents into 7th position. Turning out for the club, in finishing order were: Paul Gibbings (25th), Adam Brearley (32nd), Carl Platt (35th), Jason Thomas (56th), Paul Burslem (102nd), Dan Clowes (107th), Daniel Jordan (114th), Phil Mainwaring (120th), Barry Smith (143rd), Gerry Calvert (199th) and Malcolm Rushton (214th).

Finally, a big thank you must go to Dan Jordan for the scones, cream and jam, Paul Burslem for the large chocolate donuts and Dan Clowes for his wife Louise’s birthday cake!! And thanks to Richard O’Keeffe and Mel Dugan for turning up to support and yell at us to go faster!!

Thanks for that Debs, and well done to all who ran.





Page last updated 05 October 2010


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