June 2011

Westbridge 5

I like the Westbridge 5 for many reasons, not least the fact that is a well organised race along some lovely quiet lanes and canal towpath and also that it is not too expensive with no T-shirts or over hyped goody bag. A good number of Trentham Runners were out for this one despite the unsavoury 9:30am Start time. One of them was Martin Hull, doing his first race for a good few years. Here is his brief report:

 I decided to do my first road race in over 20 years, I got to Stone a hour early so I could do a 3 mile warm up and a bit of stretching.

Spoke to Ken Rushton before the start and decided to take the first mile easy. Slotted into a group of 5 runners one been the first lady, we stayed together for about the first 3 miles of even paced 6min miles before I overtook the first lady and just held her off by 1 second.

I Finished 16th in 29 mins 54 secs.

Going on my hols Sat so good luck to everyone running the Potts half on Sunday

Well, I did say it was brief, and here is another offering. This time from Kerry Widdowson who returned back from holiday with a bang. Read on:

Having been badgered by the webmaster in person I've decided to send my report about the race on Sunday. Oh, what to say, lots of flesh on show (short shorts in June folks) for early Sunday morning, well organised and plenty of chit chat before the start. Was it me or was there no count down? One minute I'm pressing the flesh and socialising, turn round and everyone's off...... get going girl.
Started around the field, felt ok but having spent a week in Yorkshire holidaying (wild or what) and the previous morning with our Richard panting around the streets of Stoke (breakfast run) I couldn't have been more ill prepared.

My legs dislike too much speed, obvious to anyone who's waited for me but this course is very pleasant. Twisty, turny, varied and quiet. I'd been warned that the canal tow path can become congested but when you're as far back as my dear self I didn't seem to struggle. Around the four mile mark I began to regret running the day before, then was passed by a rival LADEEEEEY and my shoulders sunk. Dragged my carcass over the line in a disappointing 36.something but smiled at the chocolates and water in my bag, cheers.

Overall a super little race, not too many folks, nice and early start, home showered and the rest of the day to play which I personally prefer. Icing on the cake was the synchronised dog display team showing off on the field close by, the Dambusters theme tune complimenting their movements was classic. Not my best race in terms of performance, back to the drawing board re picking up the training me thinks.
Well done Ladies. Good luck for the Potters one and all.

Well done Kez, thanks for the report and here's the results which show Sharleen came 2nd Lady, Mandy 3rd, Stan 1st M65 and Rose 1st F50
RESULTS

 


Potters Arf 2011

Well folks, there it goes for another year. I know for a fact that for many Trentham Runners the Potters Arf is the premier race on their race calendar, always first one on their and the focus of many of your training. This was proved by the number of Trentham Runners turning out to take part with over 25 runners representing the club, and there were some exceptional performances right through the levels of runners we have at the club. Up at the pointy end as it were Mandy Vernon took all the plaudits as she won the ladies race in a time of 1:24:51. Sharleen Hollinshead was only a couple of minutes back to take second place and Deb Thomas made it 3 Trentham Ladies in the top 10. For the men, lead man for Trentham was Roger Grand in a time of 1:23:49 finishing in 17th place. For the Vets there were plenty of great performances too with Rob Tabbanor first MV50, Rose Wilson first LV50 Alan Lewis won the MV70 and for once Stan Winterton didn't win the MV65 race, but was second to another Trentham Runner in the form of John Keeling. You can view ALL the Trentham results HERE and search by club.

Thanks to Dan Bowman for politely asking people to send in reports in absence of the webmaster (getting wet elsewhere at MotoGP) and it seemed to have worked with many reports coming in. We may as well have Dan's first so, make a cuppa and then..... Read On!!!

I put out a call to arms for race reports for this bad boy so Iím hoping to see a plethora (great word, youíre welcome) of them awaiting me Monday afternoon amongst that delightful little tree motif which is our logo for some reason.
Thereís something about the Potters arf. Itís not the most spectacular race as far as scenery goes, there are some sections that Iíve never managed to not get mugged in, and the hills hurt my legs, but every year I sign up. I sometimes think that itís because itís ďthe local raceĒ and thereís a certain obligation to take part but I donít think thatís it either. I just think that all things considered, itís a genuinely great event.
Iíve been very lax when it comes to training lately. Iíve had quite a bit on my plate and Iíve been mainly running near my house, but living in Smallthorne a good running route consists of one where you donít get hit with a cosh, which rarely happens. You know the kids on your local running routes that shout ďrun forest runĒ at you? Well the kids near me replace shouting with punching and the F ceases to stand for Forest.
I went down to the club a couple of weeks ago when some bright spark though it would be a good idea to cross the Serengeti with a stampede of bloominí cows. I didnít enjoy that one bit and didnít run entirely well either. Iíve been running 10k max lately and to be fair Iíve been getting pretty quick over that distance, so I expect a decent time at St Michaels in a couple of weeks, but oh lordy I didnít want to run Potters this year. The first year I ran it I nearly melted, and last year I nearly shat myself due to an unworldly upset tum.
I also knew that if I ran this year, Lee might beat me. Heís been banging at my back door (way-hey) for a while now but he trains so well and heís improved as a runner much more than I have. Iím not that competitive really but one thing that always gets my dander in a floss (not an actual phrase) is when I know someone is gaining on me/ a few seconds behind. I hate it. I knew the day would come where Lee would beat me but I never knew how Iíd feel about it. Well judgement day was today. Read on dear readerÖ
I woke up at 7am this morning. I glanced at the curtains and saw a fine outline of bright light threatening to burst through. Uh-oh I thought. I may as well be a snowman for how good I am at running in heat (not like a cat) and I did not fancy that. Got up around 8, had some honey on toast (macho breakfast) and put on my Trentham vest, which Iíve not worn in months as Iíve not raced that often and on the couple of occasions I have, Iíve worn my civvies.
Amazingly it still fit. Iíd fastened my NSRRA letter on the night before and done my chip and that so I didnít have to prepare much before I went out.
I went to pick my bro up who was running his first half mara. He seemed really calm considering heíd trained even less than I had but off we went to Hanley town to partake in the Potters Ďarf!
By the time weíd parked and got into the town centre along with the masses the rain was slapping my face like a clown with enormous hands covered in Vaseline, and it was coooooold. Oh mercy it was nippy. I did a bit of warming up/weeing and the like before we did the shuffle toward the start line. I was about 20m from the start line. I glanced over to the front row, Martin Williams, Richard OíBrien, Ben GambÖ wait a second! Thatís not Richard OíBrien! That was Lee Jones! Before I had much chance to try and work my way forward the race began.
ďCORNETTO!!!!!!!Ē
And off we went. I struggled to pass a lot of runners on that blasted turn into Hope street. I heard Ollie shout ďBloody hell why is Lee with the frontrunnersĒ or something to that effect. I knew this would be a looooong day. I got up into the town centre and continued to pick off slower runners before settling into a nice pace of 7 minute miles. I went pretty quick down Lichfield street and when I reached the bottom I thought Iíd try and push on. I did and straight away it felt strained. I slowed back down to 7 minute miles and I felt fine, actually quite enjoying the race so I continued in this fashion. Gary went past me briefly, but I passed him again a minute or so later, still staying at this pace.
Up round into King street, grabbed some water and Iím still feeling good. I glance at my watch and Iím still running perfect 7 min miles. Nice. I look around and look at the crowds, the St Johns peeps and what not and realise that Iíve never really noticed them before. I really was enjoying myself. I reached a slight downhill and picked up speed as some dudes came flying past me, straight away I felt uncomfortable again so I slowed. I realised that my usual 6:40-6:50 pace wasnít there anymore and sort of just trundled along.

Turned into anchor road and I could see Lee for the first time ďIíll just carry on and catch him later like I usually doĒ I told myself and started the trek up the big Ďun (way-hey) it was at this point I drew level with young Stanley Winterton and Kerry W who was riding her bike up there. I had a bit of a chat with her and told her I was feeling pretty good. Lee was getting closer as anticipated and I was just trundling on. I reached the 5 mile point in 35 mins, 6 in 42 and 7 in 49. Dale would be proud of this pacing! Lee didnít seem to get any closer to me but I kept reminding myself that I always catch him. Itís only a matter of time. Dan Jordan came past me at this point which was fortunate as Iíd been wondering when he would be back in the office. He soon passed and on I went, past the crematorium.

Now the alarm bells started ringing as I simply couldnít push on to catch Lee. I was running along quite nicely but if I couldnít increase the pace without feeling iffy so I hoped heíd trail off and Iíd pass him. Onto Leek new road and hot diggety daffodil he still wasnít getting any closer. It started to dawn on me now that I actually couldnít catch him. I knew this day was coming, and Iíd always dreaded it but for some reason, I was ok with it. Lee, my good pal whoíd never beaten me before was going to beat me, and I was ok with it. We got to the newly named ďHeartbreak hillĒ (Which Iím sure is taken from a hill from the Boston or Chicago marathon) and I slowly started to draw him in. Only problem is, Milton road is mathematically vertical at this point. 364 days of the year itís probably about 30 degrees but after 11 miles of running itís steeper than a ladder. We reached the top and I could sense he was fading. His legs were wobbling and his arms were flailing around quite magnificently. I sensed my moment to strike, I finally upped my pace and stuck with it but WHAT THE HELL!? He took off! Iíve never seen Lee run so fast! I donít think this was a coincidence either because minutes earlier heíd turned and seen me, Iíd given him a little wave and he looked like heíd seen Ollie doing a strip tease. He must have been averaging 10 second miles on the last part into Hanley. It was like in Scooby doo when you see a dusty circle of legs and a torso sticking out of the top. Good grief. I knew now that I never had any chance of catching him. Heíd trained really well and deserved this, I pushed on knowing that it wouldnít be enough and took in the support and such. I waved at Del, waved at Adam and Christine, struck a silly pose for Bryan Dale and sauntered into town.

Gave my mate Jim a wave just as some red vest bloke overtook me. He didnít have a C on his back (not that it mattered as I must have finished about 47th/33 in the group) so I didnít even bother with my customary sprint finish. I finished in a time of 1:34:51. Far from my best but I felt great. Iíd really enjoyed the race despite the horrific cold and rain. As I slowed to a walk I noticed a pair of legs being attended to by the first aid team. I knew straight away that it was Lee. The sheer speed that heíd run into Hanley was inhuman. I was momentarily worried til I saw he was just a bit delirious. I grabbed his medal for him and went with him to the first aid tent. He seemed very embarrassed by it all but to be fair heíd just blazed a PB on a rock Ďard half mara course. I stayed with him for a bit, went and got his plate/goody bag/shirt for him and then once Sammy was there to tend to the little duck I zoomed off to cheer my brother in.
It was so cold. Oh man it was unbearable. I put on my new t-shirt but it did nothing on account of race t-shirts being made out of kitchen roll. I shivered and chattered until my Broseph came in at 1:56! I was so proud of him! He was given the wrong medal but he didnít care. 1:56 for his first half marathon, it was a good day for the oh-so-dreamy Bowman brothers!
I saw Andy Vickerman whoíd blazed round in 1:47 (A PB I think?) and then Phil came in, also getting a PB of 1:57. Amongst all this man love I saw Chris and learned that heíd finally dethroned Craig Taylor and won group C, getting a gold medal in the process. I really like Craig, heís a top bloke but it was good to learn that heís beatable.
Learned Mandy had won the ladies race.
The support in this race was nothing short of amazing. I saw colleagues, friends and so, so many of my Trentham lot out on the course and it really kept my spirits up. The support from Linsey on Milton road was bordering on clinically insane, she actually made me jump she was so loud.
I realise after skimming through this that itís a lacking in the funnies but itís late and Iím tired! I also realised that it might sound like Iím making excuses for losing to Lee. Well the bottom line is, I ran the absolute fastest that I could and I couldnít catch the git. I actually couldnít have caught him if Iíd caught a bus around half the course. We went out for a meal with Lee and Sammy afterwards and had a great laugh. Iím glad Lee was ok although I knew he would be.
Sorry I havenít name checked everyone, itís hard at Potters as the amount of Trentham runners makes the field look like a piece of laminate flooring covered in snot.
Love you all and thank you for a great day.
PS I just clicked on the Spellcheck button for the first time. Never again. Turns out most of the words I use arenít words. Not clicking on that againÖ
Dan

Thanks for that Dan and well done. I'm glad you have spell checked it mate as it saves me the trouble. If there's one webmaster hate it's receiving race reports full of i's instead of I's. It lights up the spellchecker like a Christmas tree..... anyway, I digress, on to the next one. This time from Roger Grand who had a storming race:

This run is what got me running 2years ago due to a friend daring me to do it and after that I was hooked (stupid mate). When I was rudely woken by my alarm clock was wishing the run was started at 8am it was almost perfect weather, typically it wasn't meant to be! My wife dropped myself and a work mate Paul off up Hanley and the weather had already started to go gloomy and rain, everyone seemed to be under shelter provided by the shops and thank god they opened the doors to the shopping centre. The start couldn't come quick enough with how the weather was going but on the off the two usual suspects galloped off into the distance very quickly.

I managed to stay in a group of about 5 but on getting near Anchor road I knew I wasn't going to stay with them all the way. My wife and eldest daughter were at the top giving me all the encouragement they could and they assured me they stayed as long as possible before going up town to cheer any Trentham runners on. The water stations were a god send, even though it was raining pretty much every bottle apart from a mouthful went straight over my head much to the amusement of the kids handing them out. I can't thank Adam, Chrissy, Adele, Kerry and Jill for their constant shouting for me to keep pushing, if anyone saw me going up Milton bank I dread to think how my face looked because if it matched the pain in my calves I should have had a bag on my head. The crowd at the end braving the elements were brilliant even though I think its one of the toughest half around I'll be back next year. Big love to Lee hope your ok mate.

Thanks Roger and well done on a great effort. Much tougher than the Stafford Half earlier in the year where you also had a fantastic race. Next report comes from Andrew Vickerman who was out trying to smash his course PB:

It was a nice morning when I got up, but as we headed to the city centre the weather got greyer and greyer.  By the time we were in town the drizzle had started and everybody was hiding under the cover.  We started by hiding under boots, but the Oatcake van was blowing all of its greasy fumes over us, so we moved down to M&S.  The niece and nephew spoke to the sunflower and watched him savagely pull his own head off!  Time for a toilet stop, conveniently BHS was open so we went in there, I think it was obvious we werenít shopping.  Bizarrely there was a group of runners tucking into a breakfast 20 minutes before the start, I bet it wasnít the last of that they saw.

Didnít see many people before the race, in fact I only think I spoke to Dave, Rose and Mandy. Stripped off and made our way around to the start, made sure I got on the inside so I could cut on the pavement to get past people. The start was hassle free, had my usual panic that I hadnít stood on the blue mat when crossing.

Onto the course, that bit under the shopping centre gets steeper every year, but it is soon forgotten when you run through town.  You get chance to get into your rhythm as you head down to Victoria Road.  Vicky Road was quite a drag, but I settled in next to Rose, knowing I was doing okay if was next to her. Got down into Longton where the support was good and turned into Anchor Road, which was tough going.  Jill was waiting half way up giving out great moral support and another lady on her bike (sorry donít know your name) who I heard chatting to Rose, so I knew she was just behind me.  Dave came flying past like he was running downhill.  No giving up here to many people about, dig in!!!

As always when I get to the top of a hill and start relaxing a load of people (including Rose) come flying past me.  I remember trying to breathe out stitch here. Uneventful through the middle part of the course with a good chance to push on. It was really quite lonely at this part with probably only seeing about 5-10 runners for a good 2 miles.  Started catching people as we got to the bottom of Milton Road, I ran the first part but then walked for about 30 yards to the top of the steep  part.  Got going again with another lad and we encouraged each other to the top.

Had a 2 minute relax downhill at the top and then started pushing for home managing a semi sprint finish. Forgot to stop my watch and look at the clock as usual.  Chip time of 1:47:37, a new PB and 23 minutes faster than last year.  Now for the hardest part of the race, lifting your leg so they can cut the chip off!!

Saw a few Trenthamers at the end, sounding like it was a good day for all.  Especially, Mandy winning ladies and Chris winning his group in NSRRA. Didnít hang around for long as I was freezing and couldnít go the pub with having my little girl with me.

Great Race, Great results!  Well done everyone...................

Thanks Andrew and massive well done on getting your new PB. Next one comes from Deb Thomas who had a great run to finish 7th lady:

They say be careful what you wish for and I must confess I feel the heavy rain we had for Potters Arf was my fault! Iíd spent the past couple of weeks praying for anything but hot sunshine for race day and so mother nature called my bluff and delivered heavy rain instead!! Thatíll teach me. Anyways, after getting into Hanley nice and early for 9.00am I jogged into the town centre and searched the crowds for club mates. Spotted Lee Jones, Dan Bowman, Paul Burslem, Rob Tabbanor, Chris and Walter Mosiuk, Kathryn Ambrose, Rose Wilson, Sharleen Hollinshead, Mandy Vernon and new member Dan amongst others, and after a brief warm up (hard to do in cold weather) with Mandy and Rose it was walk time to the start, very cold and wet.

10.30am and off and around the town before heading along Victoria Road. I glance at my watch whilst into the first mile and notice my pace is 6.18min/mile Ė too fast! Slowed myself down to clock a more sensible 6.58 and I then found myself next to an old friend, Chris Bascombe, of Staffs Moorlands. We chat for a while before he starts to pull away from me along Anchor Road. I catch Lee Jones up a bit further along and he wishes me well for the race as I plod on. Great support en route from people shouting ďGo TrenthamĒ to people who know me (Mel Dugan, Adam Brearley, Christine Holmes, Jill Phillips, Del Salt to name and lots more) I get told Iím 6th lady soon on in the race too and I hope I can keep the position.

Into Bucknall and Iím feeling ok. Iím no longer cold and the rain is not even bothering me as Iím enjoying the run and managing to hold good pace. Into Abbey Hulton and Milton and Iím in a small group of me and two guys (one is Dave who runs for Stoke AC but I donít know his surname) and heís running with a team mate (Amin) aiming for around 1 hr 30. We have a brief natter (Iíve been there target apparently!) but at miles 9 and 10 I start to feel fed up of the rain in my face and Iím also feeling tired and all I can see ahead is uphill so my motivation wanes and the guys manage to get a few seconds ahead of me. Into Leek New Road and I welcome some flat and downhill before turning into Milton Road and scaling the rise, though a lady runner manages to get past me and put me into 7th lady, damn it!

I am determined not to stop (never have so far) so I take lots of small steps and calm my breathing. At the top a male runner passes me and gives me some words of encouragement to push on. All Iím thinking about now is getting back to the finish line without another lady runner getting me, and Iím also aware that Iím on for a reasonable good time. In towards the finish and the crowds are shouting and I use their energy to cross the line in 1.31.30. I approach Dave and Amin to shake their hands and then hobble over for my medal and t-shirt. Iíve got too many silver medals, one day it will be gold!!

Thoroughly enjoyed the run even with the wet and winds, as hot sunshine just kills me so in a way it was preferred! Massive well done to all Trentham runners and a huge thanks to everyone for all their support along the way, it really helps and is very much appreciated, especially on a day of so much rain!!
 

Well done Debs. Great run and only just off the gold which I'm sure you will get one year. Next report comes in from Chris Mosiuk who also had a fantastic run as previously mentioned. Here it is:

I had been worried leading up to the race with a bit of a knee complaint, so I wasnít expecting too much. As it drew closer the knee felt much better so I set myself a target of sub 1.35 or at the very least beat last years time of 1.37. After a chat with a few Trentham runners, Grahame Cope and the newly wed Gambleís we made our way to the start line. I always seem to get caught in traffic running through the town centre at the start, so I made sure I got a decent place on the grid to try and beat it. Off we goÖ

I caught up with Craig from Newcastle, Group C leader and so far maximum points, who asks if Iím going to run with him. He told me at Westbridge that he didnít care what happened as long as he got a gold medal, so heís aiming for sub 1.30. Maybe a little too quick for me on this course but I thought Iíd give it a go over the first couple of miles and see how I felt. I had never come near him until Westbridge, having used everything to catch up right before the end, only for him to find that bit extra to fend off any challenge. We ran along side each other working up through the crowd, eventually catching Lee just before 3 miles. He loves his quick starts, but thatís the furthest heís got before Iíve caught him! He looked pretty strong, so I wished him good luck and gently pulled away. After the first water station I started to lose a bit of ground on Craig, but he gave me a bit of a shout so I kept pace with him, albeit 10 metres behind. Coming to Anchor Road I was starting to catch up, and overtook him early on the long climb. I just kept my head down and applied maximum concentration. It felt like Iíd flown up, with a bit of help from Jill, Adam, Christine and Mel who were shouting encouragement in different places on the way.

Iíd opened up a bit of a gap on Craig at the top, but heís a good runner Ė It wouldnít be long before he caught me. At 6 miles he came past, willing me on. Franco Caci was leading the group at present but we were reeling him in. At 7 miles all three of us were side by side. Franco dropped back after a hamstring twinge, and I opened up a slight gap Ė again going up hill. At this point I knew I was running well and started to believe I could actually achieve a gold medal.

Onto Leek Road and Craig comes past, and I begin to feel a little heavy in the legs as he races into a good 30-40m lead. Delís watching and sayís Iím doing well which always gives a bit of a lift. Dad pulls up along side on his bike and gives a bit of encouragement, rides with me for a bit before turning off at Milton crossroads. I managed to keep the gap the same right up to the 11 mile marker where Dad was waiting. No encouragement, more a kick up the backside. ďCome on Chris, give it a push now!Ē coming up to Milton Bank, or Heartbreak Hill as its fondly known Iíd pulled the gap down to about 20m on Craig. Heíd struggled on earlier hills, surely I could close the gap on the worst one of all? I put my head down, blocked everything out and just kept running. Completely in the zone, before being ripped out of it by the loudest voice Iíve ever heard on a run. It had to be Linsey, and it was! The steepest part out of the way and I was right on Craigís tail. I knew I could catch him, Iíd got the impetus.  I got to the very top and 12 miles right along side him realising Iíd already achieved something I hadnít before Ė running all the way up the bank!

The watch was at 6.50 pace with a mile to go, so I knew I was on for the gold. I gave Craig some encouragement before opening up a small gap. Dad pulled up along side and kept checking back for me. I really dug in going over the bridge and got yet more cheers from Trentham supporters, including Lynne who had the unfortunate job of directing traffic on the town road roundabout. The gap was at about 20m coming down the final stretch and I knew I was going to claim 50 points and the scalp of beating the as yet runaway Group C leader. I crossed the line in 1.29.08 achieving a new PB by 37 seconds Ė on that course. I couldnít believe it! Craig crossed the line and congratulated me with a bear hug. Great battle.

So many great performances on the day, particularly Mandy who won the ladies race. Plenty of PBís too, with Lee, Andy and Phil to name a few (if my memory serves me right). Great support from everyone out on course. Give me rain on a race day over sunshine any day, but I doubt those watching would agree Ė so thanks for coming out! As for the kneeÖ it knows it was in a race yesterday. Very tender!

Well done Chris. A really good effort there and at last - a group win. Keep it up and good luck with the compleat. Next report comes from Lee Jones:

 Potters Arf! Surely the biggest race of the year, it certainly is for me anyway.
I have been gearing up for this race for some time now, so why was it that on the day of the race I felt unprepared & under trained. Even though a couple of weeks before Me, Ollie the Bee, Andy Greensmith, Andy Vickerman & Dan Bowman ran a route around Sneyd Green that went up the dreaded Milton Rd (Heartbreak Hill) 4 times!. Not only that, the weekend before the race Me & Wayne Greensmith did the whole route on our bikes, in 54 mins (we went slow). There is a saying "Fail to prepare...Prepare to fail" I was worried that I hadn't prepared enough.
Despite going to two wedding parties the night before, and not getting in till midnight, me and my support crew (Sammy & Lara) were up & out of the house by 9am. We had arranged to pick Kathryn Ambrose up, as she had secured a last minute Number from Walter. When we arrived in Hanley a full hour before the race (this is a record for me) a crowd had already started to gather. The predicted rain had started to fall as a slight drizzle which forced the crowd to huddle together like sheep under the slight overhang from the Potteries Centre Entrance. At 10am the doors were opened & the crowd surged in. Dan had arrived & we raced up to the top floor for a last minute wee, well No2 for me.
At 10:15 I was standing with Matt O'Neil when we were called to line up at Nat-West before being walked to the start. My plan was to start near the front, so me and Matt ran up the next street and waited at the top till the runners came walking up towards us. Great minds must think alike because when we reached the top of the street Stan Winterton was there with the same idea, as well as a number of other fellows. We joined the throng as they came towards us & shivered & dithered our way to the start line. All though out of my depth, it felt good walking along with Martin Williams & Ben Gamble (the eventual 1st & 2nd placers) & the legend Stan Winterton. At the start line I stayed well to the left, so as not to get in people's way as they came past me.
3,2,1 We were off. My plan was simple, run as fast as I could for as long as long as possible, so as I ran past Sammy on Town
Rd I was running in about 20th place, with only Rodger from the club having gone past me. Before I knew it I went past 1 mile in
6:17! I felt good, & as Rob Tabbanor came past & we wished each other luck I was going down Litchfield Rd (easy). 2nd mile 6:25, so far so good. Then I hit the start of Vicky Rd & had to slow. By now Mandy Vernon (1st lady, awsome) Sharleen Hollinshead (2nd lady, Batwoman, Brilliant) & Paul Burslem had come past. Just before mile 3 Chris Mosiuk came flying past, I knew he was running for his 1st Potters Gold, so I urged him on by calling "go on Chris, go and get your gold" I knew he would do it.
Going along King street I was still just outside my comfort zone, I knew Anchor Rd was coming up & I was going to ease off to get ready for it when I looked across the road & in the reflection of the shop windows opposite I saw Debbie Thomas, racing along looking really good. I knew she would pass me which was fine, but I thought I could use her to push me up Anchor Rd if I could just stay ahead of her, HA no chance, she had caught me before we were a quarter of the way up & breezed past on her way to a great finishing time. Adam was there cheering Debbie on, so as I went past him we slapped a high five (cheers Adam) & I plugged on to the top of the hill.
I went through 5 miles, doing just over 7 min miles, I knew that next 5 miles were fairly flat or down so I made a real effort to maintain this pace, I was going strong & still feeling ok, but other runners must have sped up because a load started coming past me going along Beverley Drive, which knocked my confidence, then I heard "alright Lee" as Stan came striding past. This gave me a much needed boost so I concentrated on staying with him, he went about 20yds ahead then I kept that gap between us. All the way through Bentilee & Abbey Hulton I was focused on maintaining my pace & keeping up with Stan,but as we ran into Milton I started to think about Milton Rd (Heartbreak Hill). As I turned left into Leonard Ave I looked at the runners coming up behind & I spotted Dan Jordan, he was striding well so I knew it wouldn't be long till he caught up. When he did come past we were on Leek new Rd, I thought I was still running well but he almost left me standing, he said something to me which I didn't quite catch, then he was away.
Leek new Rd is the start of the last 3 miles, it rises and falls like a roller-coaster, and was much longer than I remembered. I eventually turned into Berwick Rd which is a small flat road before the turn for the dreaded hill. On the 1st lampost there was a yellow sign "200 mtrs to Heartbreak Hill" I was having doubts, my breathing was fine but my legs had started to feel heavy. Last year I walked up this hill. This year I was ready to do the same!. I still had Stan in my sights, but I needed something else to give me a push. As we neared the corner before the hill there were traffic cones down the centre of the road & we were being marshalled to the left of them so that people wouldn't cut the corner (damn, I so would have done that). The cones arced around the corner & as I went around I looked to my right, back along Berwick Rd & there was Mr Daniel Bowman actually waving at me with a cheeky smile on his face and a glint in his eye, which in my mind said "Yes, I'm coming to get you". NOOOoooo, We all know that Dan is a great runner and especially good on hills. I started striding up the hill, suddenly getting a new surge of energy. The people in front had slowed down and some had even started to walk. I saw Stan up ahead, plugging away at the bank. As I caught up with him we drew level with Linsey who was watching with her kids, she was shouting at us to keep going. I was still sure that any second I would feel the presence of the 'Dan Demon' at my back as he came to devour what was left of my running sole.
About 3/4 of the way up the hill there is a bus stop & here the gradient of the hill is less steep. This was my mental marker, to lengthen my stride & get back to my 7min mile pace. It felt like I had been doing that pace all the way up, so I just dug in & carried on to the top. My legs felt like they were on fire & I was wheezing like an asthmatic pensioner. As I approached the end of Milton Rd my watch beeped for 12 miles & I turned the corner onto Hanley Rd & the last mile. I was amazed Dan hadn't come past me. I still thought he was just behind & gaining so I couldn't let up the pace. Instead I put everything I had left into that last mile. Looking back, it was a bit of a blur, I remember running along Town Rd towards the bridge & seeing Adam there, He was shouting at me & urging me on. There was no high 5 this time, I just ran past shaking my head & mumbling "I can't, I can't" Del was there as well (think I saw her 3 times on the route. Great support Del, thank you so much. Especially as you had a tough race yourself only the day before)
I ran down the crowd lined finishing straight, I had a glimpse of Sammy & Lara then focused on the finish line. I was convinced that this was where Dan was going to come streaking past. As I ran to the line I saw that the clock wasn't working, I went over making sure that my chipped trainer hit the mat. I heard a man say my number then he said "1:34:26" YES a P.B then I stopped running!!!!!
That was my mistake. My legs didn't just stop, they stopped working altogether, they folded under me & I went to the floor. A man tried to help me to stand but I was like Bambi on ice & I couldn't control my legs (I couldn't even feel them). Then embarrassingly I was lifted on to a stretcher. Sammy was there & I saw that Lara was crying. I was gutted because I felt fine, I tried to sit up but got pushed back down by a medic so I resined myself to being wheeled to the medic tent. Sammy & Lara were with me and also Dan, who was great, and stayed with me to make sure I was okay (what a top bloke, thanks Dan) After I had had my blood pressure taken and was made to drink a whole bottle of water, I was helped to my feet, then had to walk around the tent before they let me go. I thanked them for helping me, then wrapped in a massive silver sheet I went to see the Trentham Massive. Everyone seemed to be happy with there times. I'm sure that Dan let me beat him, although he says he just couldn't catch me (yeah right, that's why I was on my ass while he was as fresh as a daisy) Sub 1:30 next year.

Next one from Phil Thomas:

Thereís a standard joke among runners ďif you want to have a holiday in the Potteries; book it for Potters Arf weekend. Youíre guaranteed hot sunny weatherĒ. To every rule there is an exception and the 2011 Potters Arf was that exception! This was the 3rd consecutive Potters Arf Iíve ran; and in the previous races my main concern was sun burn. Not this time though! To say that it lashed down with rain would be an understatement. As I raced down Hanley road towards the finish line Iím sure I saw Noah building an Ark on the hill at Central Forest Park! It was that wet. 

The Potters Arf is always the race I look forward to the most, and it was touch and go if Iíd be able to take part this year due to ongoing knee problems; so it was a very late decision to have a go this time around and with no real training for a month I wasnít expecting much from my race. I was just going to enjoy it and hope I didnít get a personal worst time! 
I had an earlier than usual start as Iíd agreed to meet up with Kev Bates, the 52 marathon man who ran the whole Potters route twice so it would count towards his 52 marathons in 2011. So after meeting Kev and seeing him off on his 1st lap at about 8.50am I drove home and got ready for my far more humble race. 
So an hour and a half later and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Believe it or not it was warm and dry 2 hours before the start. 
 

I didnít hear a horn or starting pistol go off but we all started to shuffle towards the starting line and over the blue mats. I could hear buzzing as the timing chips of 1200 plus runners all became active and the race was on. I kicked out one leg in front of the other just as so many others did and started to run down Potteries Way and into Hanley. Despite the rain everyone was still cheerful and full of beans. At the start of any race itís a mix of nervous excitement and good spirited fun, while at the front itís all about focus and getting into your groove. 

Once out of Hanley and down Lichfield Street I was surprised to see lots of supporters out in the rain cheering us on. I hate this bit as you can see all the way up Vicky Road and you suddenly become aware of what youíve got yourself into. I remember an ambulance desperately trying to weave its way through the stationary traffic to our right on an emergency call, itís the worst thing to see on a race day as you worry its one of us which needs it. I found it funny listening to two chaps saying ďhow it wouldnít be good to get run over by an ambulance nowĒ! I couldnít think of a better vehicle to be hit by! Letís face it if youíre going to get mowed down in the road then who better to be on hand than paramedics A big thanks to Del for her great support along this section. At this stage Iíd found a pacer to follow, I look out for runners who are at my racing pace or just faster and I make it my personal objective to keep with them for as long as Iím still within my time.

I felt pretty good and though I could feel my bad knee, the pain remained manageable throughout. As we moved through King street and past the first water station it was on into Longton and time for the first big hill climb, though I must be honest and say that most of the Potters Arf feels like an uphill slog. Like last year there was a kid with a vuvuzela just past the railway bridge in Longton; could have been the same lad I guess but it made me laugh to hear the vuvuzela again.

It didnít seem like the weather had put anyone off from coming to watch at this stage either. I donít mind running up Anchor Road as the gradient is in stages and like in other years there was a lot of support to get you up the hill, and that makes all the difference, especially on such a miserable day and Jill helped by wishing me well as I ran past. On the down hill section of Anchor Road there was one of the community water stations and like last year they still give out ice pops to the runners. I thought it was a tad optimistic this year but thanks for the offer! 

After climbing up to Beverley Drive the rain and wind seemed to be worse then ever. The crowd support had become more spaced out as the good folk of Bentilee had used the bus shelters to good effect but still did us proud with their support as they roared us on. Running along Leek Road I spotted two bins full of wet sponges, Laura Brindley who was running the Potters Arf for the first time commented that she would've killed for a nice warm towel instead of a wet sponge! I felt bad for the volunteers as nobody wanted a cold sponge that day! 
It was somewhere around Milton cross roads that I became aware I was still keeping a good pace of about 8.30 minutes a mile and thought I could be on for a good time.  I tried to put that out of my mind because if I lost pace in the last few miles Iíd feel worse so I stuck to my plan of chatting to other runners and trying to enjoy the race. 

I took my last energy gel and took up the kind offer of two jelly babies from a chap on Leonard Avenue. Iím told that there is the same level of carbohydrate energy in a jelly baby as in one isotonic drink. True or not they do help maintain you. Once through Leek New Road it was time to face Milton Road in Sneyd Green, sadistically renamed ďHeartbreak HillĒ for the race. This is the road everyone talks about and dreads. I approach it no different to any other part of the race and just run up it as best I can. About a third of the way up just at its toughest point I was met by a wall of noise as a group of ďnuttersĒ had gathered together to cheer me onwards. Its moments like that which really help fire you on to the finish and its makes the Potters Arf such a special race for me. Without the fantastic crowds this would be just another race.

I owe Linsey and the rugrats a massive thank you for the loud support at Heart Break Hill. It gave me that extra lift to go for it in the last mile. Once at the top it was a down hill sprint to make up for lost time on the hill. I could tell I was closing in on my personal best time at this distance and so made a big push to the finish and almost beat the Dougie Mac sun flower. I crossed the line in 1 hour 57 minutes and 19 seconds and set a new PB by 40 seconds. I was wet, tired and in pain but I had a big smile across my face and canít wait for next years Arf. Though Iíll hope itís a dry race in 2012, if only for the spectators. 

A huge thanks must go to all the volunteers who stood in the pouring rain from early morning until mid afternoon and to the St John Ambulance staff and of course to every single person who stood out in the wind and the rain to clap and cheer us on. Thank you.

And finally (as they say on the telly) a view through experienced eyes, as our regular contributor Alan Lewis gives us an update on the progress of the more senior runners in the club:

Conditions made this run tougher than normal due to the rain wind etc. personally I like running in rain but not when accompanied by wind so conditions more or less suited me. Stan however was most fetchingly dressed in a bin bag at the start as he hates running in these conditions.
I had a great run, reasonably steady start (it has to be for me as most of the early part is uphill until Lichfield Street). once I got going felt relatively good all way round and finished up two minutes quicker than two years ago when I last did this race. Time of 1-41:30 and the bonus of the over 70 prize. Had a tremendous tussle with Sally Kenny from Cheadle, we must have passed and re-passed each other four or five times once she caught me up on the Anchor Road climb. Thought she was going to pip me at the end when she came past few hundred meters from the end. Managed to lift the old thigh muscles for one last effort however and just squeezed through at the death. These private battles are one of the things that makes our sport so brilliant for me as wherever you are in the field you always have a race if you and the person you are trying to beat are both giving it everything as I'm sure we were (I know I was anyway). And of course it's always an extra fillip for ancients like me when success comes. Support on the course considering the weather was brilliant with loads of shouts of come on Trentham or come on Alan from those who knew me. Special thanks to Del for words of encouragement in at least two places and particularly to Kerry + bike. What a coach- dragged me up Milton road much quicker than I would have done it alone.
Talking to Stan afterwards he said he had a terrible run blowing up on Leek road. But if 1-35 something at the age of 66 is blowing up then what would he have done if he hadn't. Congrats to John Keeling-greet to see him back on the circuit- our run at Sutton must have inspired him. He and Stan have been friends and serious rivals over many years. Certainly adds spice to Stan's season to have a rival especially with John Clemens still unfortunately out of action. Shows what strength in depth the club has in 60+ vets and I haven't even mentioned Geoff Rigby. Another mention to another unsung hero in Gerry (Calvert) who despite the problems he has with his feet which affects his distance training and almost 74 fought his way manfully round the course in 1-49.

Incidentally if you click on the perf heading on the sortable results table you will see that Trentham has five runners in the top 10 (all vets) It shows what effort Trentham runners are putting in, no wonder we're winning all these prizes.
One more thing, we're entering an Ultra Super Vets team in the Shugborough relays next week. The category is for four runners with an aggregate age over 240. Our team me, Stan, John and Geoff Rigby will have an aggregate of 278 9 (three66's and a 70) Hope Trentham are entering other teams so the club can have a really good evening.

Thanks Alan and congrats on claiming the MV70 win. Well there we have it folks. I just hope we haven't used up our June quota of race reports and that we will have some for the next race. Shugborough coming up and then St. Michaels, however if you do a race in between let us know so we can let everyone else know about it. Keep on running folks :-)

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Newport 10K

Paul Gibbings and a couple of other Trentham Runners ventured dangerously close to Wales at the weekend to take part in the Newport Carnival 10K. Paul had a great race as you will read as did Ken Bloor (43:36) and Daniel Maddock (55:31). Paul has kindly sent us this report:

Having noticed that the Newport 10k appears to be quite a fast race I thought it might be a good chance to get under 35 minutes after narrowly missing out at Market Drayton. The course was changed in 2005 and although relatively flat, over 3k is off road, which was going to make it a bit tough to get that fast time.
The first kilometre is round a school field and by that time the leading 2 Mark Dalkins & Ryan Holroyd were already opening up a gap over the third placed runner with myself and another guy contesting 4th & 5th a few seconds back, but I was feeling pretty comfortable. Things stayed pretty much the same over the next couple of kilometres but I was gradually pulling away into a clear 4th place. Just after 3k the course goes up the main street which is packed ready for the carnival. It's a great feeling hearing all the cheers & applause, what's more I didn't hear anyone call me grandad.
As we approached half way I was catching the 3rd place runner and feeling confident. Then the course goes off road, not my favourite surface, but I surprised myself by going past and quickly opening a gap. By the time we got to 7k we're back on the road and going downhill I was starting to feel tired by now but there's less than 2 miles to go. The next kilometre seemed to go on for ever, and when I eventually saw what I thought was the 8k marker, it was the sign indicating the turn back into the school field for the last kilometer. Looking at my watch all I had to do was 3.30 to get under 35 minutes, looking behind me, there was a big gap and the first 2 were almost home. If it had been on the road I most probably would have pushed it, but I thought what the hell just take it easy, so I just kept the same pace going and finished in 35:11 ( unofficially) for third place. A pleasing run and a good confidence booster for the UK vets 5k next week.

Thanks for that Paul and the other results can be found HERE!

Daniel has also sent us this rundown of the day's events:

It was a sunny day: the sky was blue, and the grass on the Longford Hall cricket pitch was lush and green. Land Rovers were scattered hither-tither, stewards in green wellingtons were waving cars onto the field in a fairly random fashion, there were minimal changing facilities inside the cricket pavilion, outside of which, local ladies were selling home made cakes from a trestle table. How very pleasant. How very Hot FuzzÖ 

I met with my runner friends, and we went to collect our numbers and to enquire about the course. ďOoh-arrrh, thereís one massive ĎillĒ we were told, ďno PBís here Iím afraidĒ. Oh well we thought, weíll do our best in any case! As ever with these events, Newport Running Club had recruited the worldsí most charismatic man (insert sarcastic tone here) to hold the microphone, and we followed the sound of his witty banter to the start/finish line at the top of the bank. Almost without warning, we were offÖ down the hill and round the edge of the field to the gate at the bottom, which was the 1k point. I knew Iíd have to run back up that hill at the end, so set to mentally preparing myself for that one. Just imagine youíre running back to the club Dan, youíll be fine!  

Once on the lane, we headed towards the town. The course follows the Carnival procession route, and passed along the crowd-lined Newport high street. Newport is a pretty town, and the locals were out in force, drinking beer, cheering and (helpfully) firing silly string at the runners! ďGo-on StokeĒ someone yelled, so I waved back, before turning off the high street, onto a fairly main road out of town. At this point, it became obvious that some of the locals were not at all impressed that Ďtheirí road was being inhabited by runners. Whilst most waited patiently in the side streets, I was almost mowed down by a BMW X5 careering along in the 30mph zone at about 60Ö he got a measure of my finger for that one! It was here that the hilly part started, and the heat was starting to take its toll. Since I joined the club last June, I have had little opportunity to train in the heat, and I wasnít enjoying it at all. The water station came along at just the right moment, and I was forced to pause briefly to ensure the fluid actually entered my mouth! 

Once off again, we were guided into the quite lanes and pathways in the Newport countryside. Somewhat rough underfoot, the surface was proving to be a challenge but I was not quite prepared for what they had up next. A hairpin bend shot us into a barley field, and a narrow public footpath, wide enough for one runner only. Uphill for about 1k, the field was both scenic and challenging for overtaking, as most of the field found out trying to pass me! Once at the top, we were assured that it was downhill all the wayÖ Címon Dan, one last pushÖ 

Back on to the lane towards the Hall, my legs turned to jelly, and I was passed by a runner I had been trading places with all morning. I latched onto their heels, and set about keeping up. Back into the field, I remembered the hill. Although I wanted to give up there and then, I dug deep and blasted past my nemesis and a few other runners in the final 100 yards. I crossed the finish line in a new personal best time, and was rewarded by a bottle of ice-cold water and a fine piece of home-made flapjack. Then, and only then, did the sun disappear: it promptly started to rain! 

Newport was a great race, with lost of support and a warm welcome. It also threw up some unexpected challenges for a newbie like me. I will return next year with advanced knowledge of the terrain a distinct advantage. All 4 of us achieved PBs on that day, so needless to say, we were all delighted!

Thanks Dan, and well done :-)

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BMAF 5K

Paul Gibbings went along to challenge the other veterans at the British Masters 5K race at Horwich near Bolton at the weekend. Read on to see how it went:

Last year I was hoping to run the British Masters 5k, but due to injury wasn't able to compete. So this year I was determined to give it a go. My preperation over the last month or so has been geared to this race and I was confident that given good conditions I could run around 16:40.
After a bit of a panic on Wednesday when I hadn't received my number, a quick email to the race director confirmed I was definitely entered. As it turned out the race numbers still hadn't turned up when I got to the race on Sunday morning, but eventually with about 45 minutes to go before the start of the race they turned up, just in time to start my warm up.
This race is held as part of the Horwich festival of racing, so the town centre is closed for the day, for roughly a one mile circuit, which we had to navigate three times. The finish line is at the highest part of the course, so it's an uphill course, a bit like a reverse of the club time trial circuit. The adrenaline was pumping at the start and I possibly went of a bit fast, the first half mile or so is a gradual uphill and I found myself right up with the leaders in about 10th place, but as the circuit continued onto the downhill stretch I started to drift back down the field a bit and settled in with a small group and was now in about 20th place. As we worked our way back to the finish line for the first time a few runners were coming back to us, but I was starting to feel tired.

I hadn't been paying any attention to my time, but I checked my watch as we went past a sign saying half way. 8:35 was pretty disappointing outside 17 min pace, but it was a race, and I was pretty certain I was in 4th place in the over 45 category and could still see the first 3, although they seemed to be getting away. Coming back past the line for the second time, I knew it was less than a mile to go, time to try and push as hard as possible. By now the group I was running with had split so there was just 3 of us, and one of the other guys had the same idea as me. We pushed it on the downhill section, about 600m to go and he was getting away from me, but he had helped drag me back closer to the runners in front. I had been planning to try and start sprinting at the 400m to go sign, but with the uphill gradient it was all I could do to try and keep going. The last 100m flattens out a bit, so I managed to put in a bit of a spurt which brought me a bit closer to the runners in front, but I didn't manage to gain any more places.
Stopping my watch I saw the time was 16:37 which was pleasing, inspection of my splits showed this was not down to an incredibly fast second half, either the half way sign was for one of the cycle races, or just misplaced. Of course it was disappointing to finish 4th and just miss out on a medal, but the results show I was 27 secs behind the winner of the over 45s and 20 seconds away from 3rd place. Less frustrating than if it had been a couple of seconds. Overall I finished 14th and ran my fastest 5k since my comeback, so I can't complain, and I enjoyed the race, the BMAF always seems to be held in conjuntion with this race, maybe next year we can bring a few more masters runners to this event

Well done Paul, just narrowly missing a 3rd place medal, but an absolute quality run all the same and something to be proud of. Has anyone else raced this weekend?

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Shugborough Relays

Wednesday was the annual relays held on a 2 mile course around Shugborough Estate, which is usually great fun and a nice club atmosphere. Trentham managed to make up a few teams, but unfortunately not a junior team due to holidays/illness. This did not put off young Harry Julian, who went along with his Dad Greg hoping to take part. Harry writes:

It was my first Trentham Running Club race on Wednesday 22nd June 2011.  At first I was unsure what to expect, but when I got there and saw how many other runners of my age were there I started to get more excited.  Although when I arrived I was disappointed because Dale said that I might not be able to run because they had already sorted the teams.  He then informed me that someone did not turn up so I could run :-)

I was a bit nervous about how the change-overs would work but in the end it all worked out fine.  I enjoyed watching my team members change over because it gave me more confidence for when it was my turn.  I was also looking out for my dad, Greg and his team.  I think that I had a good run and enjoyed it loads and would definitely want to do it again next time with a junior team :-)
Harry Julian, age 12
 

Well done Harry, and I'm sure you have noticed how the junior sessions are growing all the time at the moment so I'm quite sure we'll have a few junior teams out next year. Here is another report from Adela Salt (and a team pic too):

It was the annual Shugborough Relays last Wednesday evening, with Trentham fielding 5 gents teams and 2 ladies teams. The chaps did extremely well in a very competitive event, with one of the teams seeing one of our junior members making his debut for the club. Young Harry at just 12 years old put in an outstanding performance against some of the bigger guys and was certainly a valuable member of the team. In the gents ultra vets competition, our chaps were just pipped to the post by Halesowen in the 240+ years category.

But it was Trentham ladies that stole the show despite injury, illness, holidays and exams keeping some of our quicker runners away. Both the open team AND the ladies veteran team came away victorious after some excellent performances from everybody. Star performer has to be Deb Thomas who ran the glory leg, and with just 3/4 of a mile to go, fought off the challenge of Newcastle Ladies to ensure victory for Trentham in what was a very close race - a mere 30 seconds separated the two teams at the finish. So a huge thank you and well done to Debs, Chris, Del, and Becky, and a particularly big THANK YOU to Lynne and Kerry who turned out at short notice and saved the day to make sure we had full 2 teams, and an even bigger THANK YOU to Jo Donnelly who ran 2 legs. Fantastic team effort ladies

Well done to all those who took part and especially those ladies teams who came away with the silverware. The results for the relays can be found HERE and see below for a team photo supplied by Del.



St. Michaels 10K

A hot day for it and there were a number of Trentham Runners Out for this NSRRA race and some excellent performances with Paul Gibbings coming 3rd, Sarah Johnson winning the Ladies race by a whopping 2 and a half minutes. Alan Lewis came 1st MV70 & Jill Phillips 1st FV50. A couple of reports have come in and first one is from Danny Maddock:

Here's a tip. If you can't stand the heat, you shouldn't go to Stone in the summer. You could almost guarantee that the hottest day of the year would fall on the same day as the race that promotes itself as a PB dead cert. And boy, was it a hot one. I thought it was bad at Newport, but nothing had prepared me (nor the rest of the field it would seem) for this.

I met with my friends from far and wide. I have come to love running, and this is a large part of it. Friends, colleagues, former colleagues, club mates, and familiar faces from other races all make for a warm welcome, and I was happy to mill about and natter in the queue for the bogs... happy days. At 10 we moved up onto the road and started to wait. Once again, the starters muffled tones were drowned out by the excited crowd itching to get going, and the first the rest of us got to know about the start was when the pack started to shuffle forward... off we went along the road, in the blazing sun.
Stone is a pleasant place and loads of the locals were out on the street to offer support. There were cheers and claps from the outset which was most uplifting. There was also shade to be found on the right of the carriage way, however I was feeling the strain as we got to the 1k mark and it was then I knew that mental fortitude would be the order of the day, rather than physical stamina... now, to make it to the end.

The course was indeed nice and flat, and followed familiar roads that I travel every day. Passing along the A34 on foot for the 1st time was a strange experience, and before too long we zipped down onto the A51, back towards the village for the only slight downhill. However, there was no shade and the sun was high. What the lord gives with one hand it seems, he takes with the other, and the heat was sapping my energy fast. Moving back into the town, there was a little confusion at the traffic lights by the petrol station. The marshal was using the same signal for runners to cross, as for the cars to drive. So far as I can tell, the drivers didnít care to see if there were runners in front of their VW, they just looked for the hand signal, turned their wipers on and went for it. That obstacle negotiated without incident, I headed for the half way mark with a feeling of dread. I knew I had to do it all gain.
The stretch between the start line and the one-way system saw me fairly comfortable, despite the fact that the right hand carriageway was now open and I could not hide in the shade. However, when we dipped down a short cut (designed to shorten the course to allow for the finish on the school field I presume) my head started to give in. From that point on, itís all a little fuzzy. Family and friends thought I was ignoring them as they cheered me on. There was a ringing in my ears, my legs were made of balloons full of water, I had sweat in my eyes... but it was all going swimmingly. Before I knew it, I was bashing down the lane towards the school and the end was (almost) in sight. We turned into the field and I thought I could see the finish, so I belted it.

The hill up to the club has taught me to always keep something in reserve for that last frantic push, but the finish.
I saw was just a mirage (like you get in the Sahara, coincidently) and I had misjudged the distance terribly... I was sprinting and shouting like a madman with every stride. My family were there yelling at me to run faster, complete strangers were shouting encouragement, I took about 10 other runners on the field, and there it was... the end!
I have never been so pleased to see a Banana in my life. My friend, Ruth (of the Shropshire Shufflers, yes I fraternize with the opposition!) finished 3 minutes ahead of me in Newport, but just 9 seconds ahead in Stone, and I had smashed my PB by over a minute and a half, despite the conditions! I didnít expect that! Since September last year I have improved my 10K time by 10 minutes, and I have the Green Army to thank for that. For many reasons, Stone 2011 was a race to remember.

Next one from Danny B:

Ooooooh what a day. Iím proper tired and burned so Iím just going to type really fast and see where it goes because I am buzzzzzzzing! Iím also really tired but and my hair has changed colour. Iím glad Iím off work tomorrow.
Stone St Michaels is a school in Stone and each year they doÖ HA! just seen the photos and the first one of Sarah makes it look like sheís just walking round! Given the results Iím guessing there wasnít much walking involved but that photo, hot diggety daffodil!
Went to a barbeque last night, had some beer, had some meat, I like both. Woke up this morning by Deanne and I COULD NOT BE BOTHERED with this race. Iíve sort of shot myself in the foot a bit by missing a lot of the early NRSSA races (cos Iíve been busy with babeeehhhhh related things) so Iím trying to get as many in as possible now because I donít want to do the Wolverhampton marathon. I went there once and rate it as my least favourite city that Iíve ever been too. St Ives is my favourite place in the UK since you asked. Itís the only place Iíve ever fished in a rock pool with a little net. That was really fun. It also had one of those arcade things with a rifle where you shoot targets and cowboys squirt water and stuff. It was the best one of those Iíve ever seen, and Iíve seen a lot of them.
Got to the registration building at 9:40, cutting it a bit fine. As I was pinning my number to my vest I heard some bloke moaning that anyone who hasnít picked their number up by 9:30 should forfeit it so someone else could buy it. He was one of the race organisers. Thought it a bit rude that he said it while I was there. Maybe he wanted to fight me. He probably would have beat me because Iím too sexy too be hard. Went up to the start area where as usual there were people getting stoned to death for standing within 100 meters of the road. I saw Lee chatting to Becky, who as usual was naked from the waist down. I then said hello to Gary. This is when my alarm bells started to ding away because he had a sweaty brow! A SWEATY BROW! THE RACE HADNíT EVEN STARTED AND GARY WAS SWEATING! I touched his head and my worst fears were confirmed. It was mental hot. It was bad grammar levels of hot. It was as hot as Satanís Haemorrhoids. We were eventually let into the sacred road. Lee, fresh from battering me senseless at the Potters Front crawl marathon 2 weeks ago, made his usual burrow to the front row. I also saw Chris Music (as Lee calls him) and since I managed to stay with him for a few miles last year, thought Iíd try the same again.

The whistle sounded ďWITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK, WEíLL MAKE IT THROUGH THE NIGHTĒ and off we went. I was immediately hampered by a combination of slow runners at the front and my body being molecularly identical to a doner kebab. Within 3 steps my pores were the size of Jammy dodger biscuits and water was crashing around me with a deafening roar. People around me screamed as the torrent of sweat swept them away in the direction of Stafford. I tried to apologise but as soon as I opened my mouth to speak my tongue also began to sweat and added to the insane tidal wave of salty water which was quickly submerging Stone. I saw a lady from Stafford harriers face down in the raging waters. I swam over to her and pulled her above the surface. She was still alive. ďThank you! Oh thank you!Ē She screamed, relieved but also so very obviously frightened. I toyed with telling her that this was all my fault but didnít much fancy a bop on the nose so I helped her to a piece of driftwood and swam around rescuing other survivors. My sweat had stopped now and after a few minutes the waters calmed. I saw Bryan Dale bobbing up and down on top of a Toyota Yaris, taking pictures of the utter devastation of Stone, occasionally shouting ďWell doneĒ and ďGood runningĒ

Since this didnít actually happen I started out at an alright pace, before upping my speed slightly to a half decent pace. I was fairly close to Lee and Chris still so I trundled on, quite aware that my tummy felt a little delicate. Eventually the field thinned out a little bit which was nice. I noticed Jo Donelly was next to me. Stone the crows I hadnít seen her in time! I said hello. She said hello back in a friendly way which was nice, but then she kicked me in the legs! Iím talking a proper Johnny Wilkinson punt! Because both my legs were now broken in about 4 different places I had to slow my pace and Jo zoomed off into the distance. Sneaky Jo! Iím just messing. She did kick me but Iím proper hard even though earlier I said I wasnít so I just shrugged it off. In fact Iím so hard I imagine she broke her foot. I hope she didnít though because I like Jo.
ErmÖ what happened next? I got overtaken by Ken Bloor. The whole process took about 15 seconds. I then struck a little pose for Bryan Dale and surprisingly I look alright in the photos. Iíd do me.

I was gaining on Lee now. Glanced at my watch and noticed my arm starting to go pink. Uh-oh! I still had a long day of sunlight ahead of me too! I went past Lee at 4km and pulled away quite quickly. He was struggling perhaps 1% more than I was. We were both having a pretty bad race. Got to the half way point in some time or other, forgot to look at my watch so I donít know but it was probably about 22 minutes or so. Grabbed some water, gave myself a good drenching and carried on my wayward son. Nothing particularly interesting happened on the seconds lap for a while. I did that thing that Iím sure most mid level runners do where you look at your watch and imagine where the leader will be at that moment, and feel jealous of him/her.
Oooooooh Ryanís put a link to that new Black eyed peas song on Facebook, I like that song. Iíll stick that on while I carry on mashing the keyboard. My word Iím so very suburned. Iím wearing my Accrington Stanley shirt (that Ryan and Chris say is just a cheap Arsenal top) and I donít know where shirt ends and arms begin! Iím that red! Glad Iím off woyk tomorrow. Woyk is how people from New York say work. I like New york accents.
I was running terribly by this point. I got overtaken by a couple of D group runners and about 3 C groupers who I have never seen before in my life. I said well done and what-not but I was a bit miffed, especially as I usually finish about 6th in group C and at this stage I was about 843rd.
Went round that corner that leads to Rugeley where theyíve got that massive power station that looks like an alien moonbase and Kerry went past me shortly after. Kerry last beat me at the Alsager 5 last year so I was initially surprised but fair play to her, she annihilated me. Graheem Cope then came past me, another runner who Iíve managed to fend off for the last couple of years. Lee was also gaining on me again. Anyway, I shuffled into the finishing straight and wobbled over the line in a time of 44:50. My worst 10k time in an eternity. I went and lay on the grass for a bit and cheered Phil in from the ground. I donít think he saw or heard me but I believe he got a PB so nice one PT!
Erm what happened next? Oh yes we went to get Leeís daughter some hook-a-duck action. Iím not sure if she caught one actually but I bet she did. Dunno what she won though. Some of the ducks were smaller than others and I donít know why. Also most of them were on their side. Iíve never seen such a motley crue of iffy ducks. It wasnít strictly hook-a-duck either because the kids had to use fishing nets.

Sarah came over at this point. Now last year she spoke to me after the race and told me sheíd done ďalrightĒ by coming second which the most modest thing Iíd ever heard. This year she said ďYeah I did pretty wellĒ because sheíd won it and finished 8th overall. Sarah, if you came up to me, punched me in the face, knocked me to the ground and jumped up and down on my stomach shouting that youíre brilliant, this would still be modest with regards to this performance. Iím going to start getting loads of autographs from you now and then in 5 years time Iím going to sell them all and become loaded. This whole paragraph is meant as a compliment but most of my ramblings involve me getting punched in the face so sometimes the true meaning might get hidden within the needless brutal violence. Basically, well done. In awe.
Spotted Chris and Walt who had taken their tops off and as a result looked like a slim non-Greek version of Stavros Flatley. Chris came third group C, 840 places above me! Great show considering the heat!
Erm so thatís basically it. Deanne and Sammy took me and Lee to a farm fun day afterwards where we had burgers and coke and watched a helicopter and sat in a fire engine. It was great.
Thanks to the everyone who came to support today. It was great to see Chris, Andy, Deb, Jill and Stan cheering us all on. It always amazes me how loud Christine is. I actually run quicker to make the ear pain end sooner ; )
ErmÖ so, well done to everyone who raced today. I was disappointed with my time but I think I would have been a lot quicker if Jo hadnít viciously attacked me

Cheers Dan, a great read as always and 'Don't Stop This Party' in regard to the race reports. Next and final report is from Lee Jones:

 I hate running hot!.
I have only been really hot when racing a couple times before, once at the Christmas Cracker race where I wore a full Santa suit over a Lycra top designed to keep you warm. Phew! I made the mistake of pinning it together so it wouldn't come loose when running. Although it was winter and the race was only 5 miles I had to stop 3 times and I think I lost about a stone in sweat. I've got a cooler outfit for this year!!!. And the other time I was to hot was at this very same race last year. Back then the day was so warm and I very nearly quit after the 1st lap.
All week the weather had been overcast with shower's, but as I was walking my dog on the morning of the race I knew it was going to be a scorcher.
We parked in the field by Stone Leisure Centre & as Sammy, Chloe & Lara walked along the canal to the school I ran on ahead to get registered. I had a denim fishing hat on to keep the sun off my shiny dome. I was contemplating running in it, but I was getting so many funny looks from people that I thought better of it. Sammy kept telling me to wear it & to soak it with water to keep me cool, but the colour clashed with my vest so I said I would be fine. Everybody I spoke to was complaining about the heat, it was about 25degrees & nobody wanted to run in that temperature never mind race in it.
As we lined up at the start I saw Dan Bowman, He told me he couldn't be arsed to run fast, but he had a glint in his eye that said he was out for revenge from Potters Arf. I managed to get close to the front (about 1 row back) then we were off. Even before I had gone a 100yds I knew I was in for a bad race, the sun was really warm & sweat was already dripping off my chin like a leaky tap. I realised that this was a run to be endured, not raced. I slowed down to a more steady pace as more & more people came past me, including Chris & Gary, we were still in the 1st mile but they were running well so I told them to have a good run & then tried to concentrate on my breathing. I had just gone through 2miles when Dan caught up, he said he was really tired but he kept up his good pace & started to pull away.
This race is part of the NSRRA & I am in group E. So far I am doing quite well in this group.Since the race start I hadn't seen any E runners come past me. I decided to just run comfy, then if an E group runner did come past I would try to keep up so that maybe I could pass him near the end.We were coming to the end of the 1st lap I saw Deb's & Del who were standing under the shade of a tree cheering us on (thanks ladies) Then I saw Sammy & the kids with Deanne (Dan's wife) I told them I was so hot & felt like quitting. The water station was there as well, they were giving out water in plastic cups. From past experience I know that if you run past and try to grab a cup of water you spill most of it & end up with an inch in the bottom. I wanted a good drink so I stopped!!! I drank 1 cup, tipped another over my head then grabbed another 1 to run with. My daughter Chloe thought I HAD quit, she came racing up & shouted "run dad, don't stop keep running" As I started off again she ran along with me for a while shouting encouragement (love you Chloe)
I carried on at a steady pace, I felt a lot better for having the drink & was feeling a lot better about the run. I thought I was going okay when Kerry Widdowson came storming past with a look of steely determination on her face, she was going really well & obviously not feeling the heat at all. I still hadn't seen any E runners so I wasn't worried & started to enjoy the last 2 miles. As we went past Bryan Dale taking photo's I thought I would show him my belly, which was later discussed on Facebook & described as something from the Alien film, tut.
In the last mile I really perked up, 8mins of running at the most, easy. I still had Dan in sight & I thought I might be able to catch him so I increased my pace a little. I closed him down to about 50yds when he bloody looked back & saw me, I knew the game was up as he picked up his pace as well (I'll get you on the next race Dan!) I was so happy as we turned the corner into the school where the finish was. It still wasn't over though, we had to run around the field to the finish. I was thinking about a nice cold drink & wishing I had listened to Sammy about the hat (my shiny dome was burning hot & I had a headache) when people started shouting at someone behind me! I still hadn't seen an E runner & I thought that this was one, coming to steel my win at the post. I don't know where I got the energy but I sprinted the last 50yds to the line. 45:06. Not my best, but not bad either. The person who I was sprinting against wasn't an E runner at all but a kid of about 14 who had been doing a relay. So I did win my group :) however, it was really close because the next E runners came in at 45:18 then 45:26 then 45:32.
Because of the heat of the day, this was a horrible race. I saw so many people walking or even quitting all together after the 1st lap. I'm really glad I carried on to the end, I would have been gutted if I had failed it. Well done to all who ran & especially those who finished. Well done to Sarah Johnson as well for being the 1st lady (superstar). Can somebody order a slight drizzle for the next race please, like at potters but not as cold.....

Ta Lee, Well thank goodness that's the last one cus we've just run out of space.....

Thanks for all the reports guys and let's hope next month is just the same. In the meantime HERE are the results for the St. Michael's race.


Oakamoor Hilly

One person who was really enjoying the Summer Series last year until injury struck was Adam Brearley, and it's great to see that Adam has picked up where he left off by taking part again this year. I know that Adam loves these races and really enjoys them and he has been kind enough to send in a report of his latest round:

After the best part of 4 months out with injury the last 3 weeks of training have been bliss (if not painful at times), and must admit it is great just being back out in the fresh air again. Anyway, having heeded advice and listened to my brain for a change I have been building up these last few weeks instead of getting straight back into reps etc, and have started to feel ok. Was a bit gutted that I missed (or wasnít fit enough) to do all of the Summer Series as it is something I felt I could do a bit of damage in this year, and I also love running off road !! However this last week I started having thoughts about doing the ĎOakamoor Hillyí, the 4th race in the series and is exactly what it says on the tinÖ..HILLY!!! Having done it a few times before, including last year, I felt ready to give my lungs a good blast.

I managed to talk Roger Grand into doing it with me, so we headed up together nice and early to get registered and warmed up. Was a lovely night, sun shining with a little breeze, perfect for running. So off we went on our warm up, into the hills to give Dodge a sign of what was to come. And I can truthfully speak for us both when I say we felt knackered before we actually started the race !! The start took us about ľ mile down a winding country lane, before turning a sharp right into the woods. Then the first real climb started, a tough, steep route with hardly any room for overtaking. I clocked it took me 6 minutes just to get to the top. By this point I was feeling ok, and estimated I was around the 20th mark, which I have aimed to get inside this last year.

Once at the brow of the hill I started to push on, but the pace was quick so sat in with 2 guys from Congleton for the next mile or so which was fairly undulating. Heading down steep downhill, I suddenly heard this loud shout Ďroom for an old un to pass lads ?í. Me and the congleton guy moved out the way for another congleton chap who must have been 70 if he was a day, to come flying past. We just looked at each other and swore under our breaths !! Anyway at the bottom of this hill I knew the toughest climb was just around the corner, so decided that I was going to make a move and get stuck into it. This was a long, steep climb with a couple of sharp turns, just when you thought you might be near the top, you turned another corner to be faced with yet another climb! It took all of my willpower not to stop and walk, but knew I had to keep going. By this point I had gone past the old dude, and left the 2 congleton guys behind. Having got to the top I was now severely struggling with my breathing, but knew that the next 5 minutes would sort me out.

 My next target was Kelvin and another Staffs Moorlands guy who were about 15 or so seconds in front of me, but this is where is went disastrously wrong ! Dropping down a winding hill, took a left turn instead of going straight on. Carried on for about 10 seconds or so at full pelt to realize that I couldnít hear any footsteps behind me, and couldnít see anyone in front either. At this point I was p1ssed off to put it politely, having run this course many times before I couldnít believe a had got lost !! I stopped for another 10-15 seconds scouring around for some sign of life, to my joy I spotted a runner about 30 feet below running away from me. So I skipped through the rough and Heather so be re-united with the fella from Congleton that I had left a short while earlier. He gave me a funny look and just said Ďwhere have you been?í. Anyway, moving swiftly on, for the next few minutes I was trying to make up the time Iíd lost instead of concentrating on just getting back into my stride. The long flat stretch back along the old railway track always seems to go on forever, but I was feeling surprising strong, although by now I reckon the gap to catch the 2 Moorlands runners was easily 30s + and there was no way I was going to catch them with less than a mile to go. Eventually crossed the finish line in 10th position in 31:41, which was well happy with considering how much training I had done. Looking forward to doing a couple more of the series before they finish (would definitely recommend them to any Trentham runners, they are all quite scenic, tough, but enjoyable, and invariably end close to a pub !!) Roger had a really good run, sure you will see his report soon, we both enjoyed the pain!

So there we are, a massive report for a 5 mile race, but have been out of practice for a while, hope havenít bored you all too much

Not bored at all Adam, and thanks for letting us know how you got on. I look forward to hearing about your next instalment, perhaps you and Roger could take it in turns to write one up :-)

Oh hang on, just had this from Roger........

I hate cross country, I hate hills, I hate running in sunny weather, but for some reason when Adam Brearly mentioned the Oakamoor run I wanted to do it to blast off my lingering chest infection. I picked Adam up from his work and got to the car park early, the guy hadn't even set up his tables for registration but with that sorted we got changed and went for a warm up, Adam thought it was best to show me the beginning climb and oh my god what a climb!!! Bejesus Adam you could have put it in to perspective before I said yes, I was sweating buckets and we hadn't run up it quick, I'm actually going too die and Adam was to blame, not my fitness of course. We made our way back down and waited for the start, we both said take it steady at the beginning with the climb and push on after.
The Marshall got us ready and started us off, so nice and steady, where's Adam with our plan? Adam had shot off and I had to chuckle as knew he wanted a good race, there was a bottle neck as we went on to the 1st climb, with the people in front walking I had no option but to follow suit until the track opened up, at the top feeling ok I started to slowly push and found I was steadily picking people off and on the 1st down hill section I was making good headway, I didn't want to get carried away and good job I didn't as the 2nd monster climb hit me square in the face, not stopping I maintained a snail pace as I was told after this it was all down hill to flatish to the finish, up on top there were 6 people in front of me, I had roughly 1.5 miles to go and I started to push on abit gaining on the one's in front, took the back runner, took the 5th runner, took the 4th runner, took the 3rd runner, looked at my watch and it said 4.4 miles, so .6 to go, the 2nd runner was about 30-40 metres in front and was slowly getting closer to me, I could all of a sudden hear cheering and clapping and glanced left to see the finish line coming up out of nowhere but my watch said 4.52, I started to Sprint (in my eyes I was) but it was too late, I finish 22nd with a time of 33.19 and my watch said 4.56 miles, I was abit gutted to where the missing bit of the run was as thought I could of had the other 2 but never mind, Adam had an amazing run and came 10th, from what I had been dreading I had a really enjoyable run and felt so much better for it. Still hate hills though!

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