Friday, 30 September 2011

Not the time for a running break.

 I've never been 62 before.  I'm  still learning  what my "running on empty" body can tolerate in terms of hard efforts.   I learnt yesterday that  a track session is NOT going to go well when I've run a 10 miler two days previous.  Going back I could run around 15 miles on Wednesday and do a good track session on a ThurS day.  Those were the days........but sadly not anymore. 
  So a poor set of K reps at Nelson....temperature, maybe a factor (25 degrees) 
                 4.37 4.50 4.43  4.53...........abort session.....leave to fight another day!
                               Friday and Saturday?   I think 2 x 3 milers on the steps.  Listen to the body.
One reason that our SALE HARRIERS teams were lacking last week was that several junior men were "on a break".  A break between their track season and the oncoming cross country season.  Fine, but I would have thought that a nippy 6K wouldn't have done them much harm and meant that mature gents like me could have just enjoyed the day watching  and photographing  them!
 For me far from being a time for a break,  as I related earlier,  this part of the year back in the '80s was "binge racing" time.  A final blast before easing off in November and December.  My club then, VALLEY STRIDERS, didn't do cross country then so my cross country spikes were left unused and unwanted from 1982 until 1991!

 Following the high profile WINDMILL HALF MARATHON, this date in 1986 we were back further up  the Fylde coast  for the BLACKPOOL ILLUMINATIONS HALF MARATHON.  I seem  to recall thinking it wasn't an apt title for the race as the illuminations weren't switched on before lunch and the course wasn't along the promenade anyway.  
 With a smaller field there wasn't the same concentration of quality. 100 inside 77 minutes at Lytham. 100 inside 88 minutes at Blackpool. But up the front names and times were much the same as several of us took on another 13.1 mile with 14 days between the two and generally performed much the same.
 The Lytham race wasn't regarded as a practice, tune up race.  We would have given BOTH races 100%. I suppose confident in our level of fitness and ability to quickly recover between events.
  D.RAMSDEN       (Windmill)      67.16 (2nd)................(Blackpool)  66.26 (1st)
  T.GREENWOOD (Windmill)  69.12  (4th)....................(Blackpool) 69.17  (3rd)
  P.HANKINSON   (Windmill) 69.24   (5th)....................(Blackpool) 70.30  (5th)
  D. WALKER         (Windmill) 74.20   (53rd).................(Blackpool) 74.09  (16th)
  TONY CROFT      (Windmill) 73.54   (48th).................(Blackpool) 76.08  (19th)
  I. FISHER              (Windmill)  75.42  (80th).................(Blackpool)  76.26  (20th)

Because the Windmill was such a big event and we were there selling off the van,  chances are I was still behind the counter until 5 minutes before the gun going off; whereas at Blackpool I would have actually managed  a bit of a warm up!   Anyway for the later event I managed a 50 second improvement.
                   (Windmill)  71.09 (15th)............(Blackpool)  70.19  for 4th place. 

I've just picked out a few who ran the 2 races and demonstrate that  contrary to much that is written nowadays the well conditioned runner can turn in good performances back to back.   But of course  not week after week. 
 The body does need a break. That break for me came in November and December rather than at this time of year as it does for the track/ cross country runner. 
  No this time of year races came thick and fast.  Next week, another race.
             Distance?  Yes, you guessed it..............yet another half marathon!  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sweaty runner joined by fair weather walkers

On a typical midweek morning the main car park,  from where I start my once a week "2 res run" around Fewston/Swinsty, would be virtually empty.
 But with temperatures still in the mid 20s  fair weather walkers were out in force and there were few spots left by the time I arrived at 11.15 a.m.   It was just like Boxing day.

 I wasn't sure how the run would go this morning.
 Not because of yesterday's 10 miler, not because of  the hill climb in Monday's 6 miler,  not because of sore hamstrings from Saturday's relay leg. 
 No, because  I stubbed my toe  during the night leaving the bathroom,  half asleep,  causing my left knee to shoot upwards with resultant  acute pain up the back of the leg.  More hamstring trouble!
 Consequently  the pace over the first couple of miles was somewhat cautious.....10.14(!)  9.25 9.21. 
 Slow enough to take this shot across the reservoir without  much of a break in the rhythm.
 But, fortunately,  the legs eased as usual and there was good acceleration down to an 8.08 mile such that once more a last uphill charge took me just under the hour.   Amazing how resilient the body can be!

There was actually a time today when fluid starting to emit from parts of the, not that.....this was sweat!  Not something I usually "suffer". Quite unbecoming for a gentleman,don't you think?  No choice today......too darn hot.......but pleasant for a picnic by the water's edge.

                        I say ,Daphne,  look at that silly old  b*gger jogging  along in this heat"

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A thoughtful 10 mile run.......I think.

               Sorry workers but the semi-retired it was a fabulous morning for a 10 miler on the canal. 
  During the first mile, as I headed down the lane towards the canal I was thinking that it was amazing that the phrase for this late spell of great weather, "Indian summer", which as we all know was first recorded in "Letters from An American Farmer",  a 1778 work by the French-American soldier turned farmer, St. John de Crevecoeur had stood the test of time.   Let's hope that the snow that he said often  follows  this period of sun and high temperatures is a long time coming.
  As I covered the second mile I looked over a large field to my left, between the lane and the canal , I noticed the green pasture was now totally black and scraped flat. Puzzling.

Hitting the 3 mile post , now on the canal towpath,  I put 2 and 2 together.. .............
 The canal was being dredged;  with the uplifted silt being loaded onto a barge. The barge was then being pushed back up the way I had run and being dumped and flattened on the field.  Hence no grass.
 By mile 4 my mind was returning to matters running ......and foot surgery.  Just when PAULA RADCLIFFE should be enjoying a couple of week's easy running after her 3rd in the Berlin marathon I read she is due for another operation on Friday because of an "unattached " bone.  
 I say another operation as she has already surgery to remove a "Morton's Neuroma" in 2006.  Surgery I had in 2002.  Days, months and years of forefoot running taking it's toll.
Mile 5 and my mind is going back to Saturday's relay.   For many club runners this time of year, just prior to the start of the cross country season,  is road relay time.  My sole relay effort was last Saturday's Northern championships but many had already raced more locally in the North West relays or the Yorkshire relays.  Qualifying teams will race once more at the home of National road relays, Sutton Park, on October 15th.   Our Sale "A" qualified but I don't think they will be dredging down to the depths of the incomplete "D" team for runners,  so I definitely won't be called upon!
 I turn at the 5 mile point and I recall  the '80s,  when  for me this time of year had become half marathon time not road relay time.  In '83  I ran 3 1 /2s in 4 weeks,  '84 a "20" and 2  1/2s in 4 weeks, in '85 a marathon and 3 1/2s over 5 weekends at this time of year.  Binge racing at its extreme.
  Mile 7  and I'm thinking back to my next 25 year blog.  Yet another half at Blackpool. To follow.
Mile 8 and I think I'm going quite well but  not quite sure without the garmin which  despite being fully charged  wouldn't work as I was about to set off.  I  remember that the likely reason is a "full memory" and make a mental note to delete memory fully when I get back.
 Two miles to go and I'm happy that the run will be completed in reasonable form.  It was at this point that I turned back just recently; as the high winds prevented efficient breathing.  This ten miler will serve as a good stepping stone to completing a half marathon later this year....all being well.
 Last mile and I'm thinking about races looming up in the next few weeks.  Nothing entered usual...but  if I do the Lancaster half in November there are several good "tune up" races  to consider.  All meaning  a return to the Fylde coast.  A 5K and a 5 miler at Lytham and  the Lea Town 10K near Kirkham.
 I went on to think about my all time race tally. It is at present 695. I know I will have failed to note several races for which I don't have result  sheets and so is likely to be over 700 already. But if I can manage to get in just 5 more races this year it bring the year to a close on a nice round "official" figure.
 My final thought on finishing is that tomorrow a t-shirt will suffice as the zip neck longsleeve I opted for was the wrong choice for the present high temperatures in this "Indian Summer".
Long may it continue.....well at least until the weekend.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

NORTHERN 6/4 RELAYS.....good old Saturday afternoon sport

There are not many events where lesser lights can compete side by side with internationals. The NORTH OF ENGLAND 6/4 road relays is one  exception. With an unrestricted qualifying entry and no upper age limits the championships attracts club teams from all over the region and a great diversity of ages would turn out. 
 With just 6 male runners and 4 female runners required per team mustering support from members is a far easier task than the spring 12/6 relay events but  when team managers try to turn out "B" "C" and even "D" teams the problems are still enormous.  Once they have their runners, they then have to decide the best team to out them in, say "A" or "B", and then the best order to run them in.  A largely thankless task.
 Important because, for the top teams every second counts as they will battle for a top 25 place which opens the door for entry into the English 6/4 relay championships at Sutton Park. 
 The task of mustering teams is made easier nowadays with email as opposed to spending time and money on the 'phone. But of course the phone has to be answered and a decision to run or not given.  Some people apparently don't answer emails and the team manager is left with a big question mark against the name on the list.
 This autumn's event was  based at Birchwood Business Park in Warrington.  It was a very accessible venue; very flat and virtually traffic free.  I would be attending whether competing or not and told team manager Dave Rodgers that I would don the Sale harriers vest if needed for "D" but very much in my mind was the fact that  the last 2 occasions I had run a relay for the club we had posted  "incomplete team" as I finished my leg with no one to take over.
 How was I to react if this was a possibility again?  Pre knowledge that I was in an incomplete team yet again
would certainly take the edge off my run  and so it was not with a great feeling of enthusiasm that I made the solo  60 mile journey through to Cheshire from Yorkshire.
 But the journey proved very easy with the motorways; the venue being only minutes off the M62 with  a massive car park adjacent to the race route. The  colourway line of the clubs' tents were already assembled. The junior events were already in full swing.  Eager parents and coaches cheered  from behind the barriers at the changeover point  and immediately my level of enthusiasm rose.
 Locating  the green and red Sale Harriers tent,  chief DAVE RODGERS was very busy checking off reporting athletes, time running out in which to decide on who was running in his 4 entered teams and the running order.  Being one of the earliest to arrive I was firmly told I would be on the "D" team on leg 4.  Sorted.
 I would now know when to eat. I would know when to warm up.  I would even have time to take a few photos.  Plenty of time.  I took my chip envelope and returned to the car to put my race number on and have half a sandwich.
 When I returned to the tent before starting my planned 3 mile warm up there was a sense of panic in the air; with minutes to go to the start we were still some runners short.  Another shuffle of the team .   Off came the chip off my shoe. Off came the  number of my vest.  I would not be on leg 4 I would now be on leg 2. By the time I had changed the chip the gun for the off went.  I would be on next!
 So no time to recce the course. No time for the planned 3 miler.  Just time for a mile or so loosener.
 Some token strides and token stretching;  but at least there would be other runners to compete against at this stage rather than later.
 Over 90 teams were in front as  SALE vets captain JERRY SMITH handed over and I ran shoulder to shoulder with a Stockport lady who fell back after a minute or so.  I thought I would just have to concentrate on pulling back  any slowing runners in front.  Not quite....
 What I hadn't anticipated was being overwhelmed by young guns from the leading teams , swallowing me up and surging past on the narrow paths of the circuit.  I was able to share the road with Liverpool's 13;37 5K runner JONNY MELLOR for a split second as he caught and flashed  by to record the fastest leg time of the day 17:18.  NIALL BROOKS, a 1:47 800 metre runner, running on our "A" had no time for a chat as he sped on by. He said later he'd  had "a bad day at the office". (19.07)  
 I think I persevered quite well despite being overwhelmed by the young pups and handed over to our 3rd leg "D" runner BRIAN BRADSHAW in much the same position. But of course in this championship event in which 446 runners ran at under 38 10K pace my humble 25:27 was only good enough for only 554th of the 595 who participated.
 But at least I had a  good workout at race pace and  enjoyed being cheered by so many old "rivals" and contemporaries ....... watching from the sidelines.
 JAMES BAILEY had given Sale  a great start run 7th on leg 1 for our"A" team  (18.11) but with an understrength team they drifted back to 17th place. Our "B" failed to qualify for the National 6 stage finishing just 54th.  Our "C",  completely different I suspect from the original line up was 82nd of the 93 complete teams being brought home by team manager Dave himself:   His penultimate act of a very long and harrowing day.  His final action taking the club tent down, of course.
 Unfortunately, as Brian Bradshaw finished  no one took over!   For the 3rd consecutive time I had been a part of an incomplete team!
 MORPETH ladies won gold from Stockport and Leigh with the MORPETH men narrowly failing to complete a  north east double as LEEDS CITY won by 9 seconds.
  Thanks to Tony Croft of Blackpool for the photo.  I did limit my speed to below 30 m.p.h. !
 So that was that.  A good old fashioned  Saturday afternoon of competitive athletics enjoyed by runners from 12 to over 60.   The more able seniors will follow tradition with a long Sunday run but for me a leisurely 5 mile will be more than enough to once more bring the week's total to 40.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


 In running as in many sports  it isn't always those who excel as teenagers who go on to excel as senior athletes representing their nation in the world's major championships.  So it was interesting to look down the full results of the WARRINGTON CROSS COUNTRY RELAYS from April 4th 1964 which MALCOM WARBURTON gave to me on Sunday  and  see  how  many of the young runners listed fared later in their running lives. 
 I already had the Athletics Weekly mag clipping for the race but it only gave the names of runners and times for the first 3 teams; so this  sheet is very interesting.  Thanks Malcolm.
 There was an "BOYS" U/15 event  and a "YOUTHS" U/17 event. Both  4 legs of 1 MILE each.  I was in the SALE "A" team, pulling back hosts Warrington to equal first on leg 2.  We lead by  3 seconds after leg 3 but were blown away by their last runner DAVE BRENNAN on leg 4.
 Probably 15 by this date BRENNAN  ran  10 seconds faster than anyone else recording 4.56 for the grassland course.  He continued to excel nationally for several more years but to my knowledge did not "make it" as a senior.
  My 5.17 was 10th fastest; a time shared with 5 others. Including one B. FOSTER

 On the first leg for Gateshead who finished 7th it can have been no other than BRENDAN FORSTER . He is ultimately responsible for the initiation of THE GREAT NORTH RUN back in 1981 which has grown and grown. This year saw 54,000 people cover the 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields. 
 But of course my generation remember him for his great feats representing  Gateshead senior teams, England and Great Britain.  A bronze at the '76 Olympics,  a gold at the '74 Europeans, a 3K world record 7:35 and even a 2:15 marathon, no doubt without much preparation.  
  Somewhat heavier nowadays but Brendan often refers to runs with fellow commentator Steve Cram on the TV so he is still at least  fitting some running into his busy life.
  Another young runner  a tad off the pace that day was one ANDY HOLDEN.  He ran on the Preston Harriers team that day  recording 5.25.  It wasn't long before he improved to be one of the country's leading cross country runners e.g. 3rd in the National of '66.  He continued to excel as a senior with Tipton Harriers representing GB as a steeplechaser (best 8.26). Ran 2:15 for the marathon and in 1984 ran 28:59 as the fastest UK  35 year old.
  Looking at the youths' results,  the SALE "A" team was first and the SALE "B" second.  They went on to win the National cross country.  STEVE EDMUNDS only made the "B" team that day but he did run 4.59, faster than 2 on the "A" team.  Our coach liked to even teams out so both would do well. It certainly worked that day.  Steve won international honours with his 2:16 marathon which is still our club record today.   He  sadly doesn't race anymore but is an ever present at events on marshall duty.
 In the Sale "A" team was STEWART GRACE.   He ran the fastest time of anyone in 4:52.(Sale H. "A").    "Diz" (think about it!) as we called him was part of a very talented hardworking youths/juniors squad who dominated UK cross country championships in the '60s winning county, regional and national titles with very low scores.   But having had glandular fever Stewart wasn't immediately able to get back to former fitness levels and   drifted away from the club.   But the spark  rekindled with neighbours Altrincham and he had several good years with them as a vet.
We share a common "highlight" in that we both won the "Autumn Leaves Half Marathon.  He was 41 when he won the race.   He rarely races nowadays but did turn out in last Sunday's GNR recording 99.08 at 66.  5th in the M65 category off moderate training. The talent is still there after
nearly 50 years.  He may well join his son in the colours of Salford Harriers soon.

Further down the list in 10th place, running leg 3 for SALFORD HARRIERS was STAN CURRAN.  He "only" ran 5.22 that day but unlike many of our Sale runners went on to have a very successful career as a senior with international honours based on a 2:14 marathon.  He is still a very familiar face on the northern running scene.   He ran 39:41 in this year's Gt
Machester Run 10K.  A great club stalwart he can be seen marshalling on the video from Sunday.
  Last leg on the Bradford ASVAC team which finished 16th was one Dave Atkin.  Recorded 5.00 in this event 
he was already shows promise for the next few years to come in which he became almost unbeatable on the country in the north.  He was 5th in the World XC running for England.  
  I have no recollections of him coming through as a Senior. 
 In contrast the career of ERIC RANICAR has been long and successful.  He ran just 5.37 in this event, first leg on a Leigh Harriers team which finished last.   This year he is shown to have run 5:36 for 1500 metres!  A "slow down" of just 2 metres per year over  50 years.  Also 10 miles in 64 minutes at 64. Testament to his incredible longevity.   In the intervening years he has been a constant, if not frequent,  racer on the roads and country in the colours of Bolton United Harriers often  with a number 1 by his name in the vets category.
  Whilst I'm sure many youngsters in these results are still running recreationally, I'm also sure that many, perhaps the fastest,  tasted success in their teenage years but found the transition to senior competition hard to cope with or as was often the accusation against our Sale teams..... we were just "burnt out".
  The results perhaps reinforce the message that should go out to aspiring youngsters,  that success may not come for them in the short term as it does for others.  .  There are numerous examples of  late developers in athletics as we witness in all aspects of life.
  Many succeed at a younger age due to natural ability but natural ability alone is as we know not enough.   It has to be  backed up by hard work, perseverance  and  often great resilience.   Life tends to  put hurdles out in front of us.  Some walk off the track  after  clearing a couple of hurdles well.  Others  knock a few over, get up and go again.  
   I had my lung surgery a few years after this event and looking at the results compared with others who knows what I might have achieved in my early '20s but "c'est la vie!" as they say.
I'm thankful for the bit of success I've had and pleased to still be competing as Stewart Grace, Stan Curran and Eric Ranicar are , 47 years after this relay event.
 And finally,  it would appear Sale still want me to run relays......looks like I'll be on the "D" team at the Northern 6 stage relays on Saturday.   I don't think  I'll 10th equal fastest; no doubt one of the 10th slowest overall; but at least I'll (hopefully) be participating.



BOGGART CHASE 10K.....VIDEOS PART 1 & 2 NOW UP on youtube

Eager to please as always, Pat  was behind the wee camera for over 20 minutes on Sunday morning.  To edit to the maximum 10 minutes which YOUTUBE permit would have meant editing out how competitors throughout the field coped with the one small and two large laps of the Boggart Hole Clough park race.
So I've edited the clips into 2. PART ONE....the laps around the track (1K) and the first small lap.
PART TWO......after lap2 and the finish. 
 As described previously  the roller coaster race involves several stiff ascents (see also yesterday's elevation off garmin) and of course the 10K distance.  
 It would appear that mature gentlemen like Mike Cunningham (1st M65) and myself may struggle for speed out of the blocks, finding ourselves, in this case, way back towards 60th place after 1K but  our basic conditioning and  speed endurance sees us come through well in the last 25% of the race.
 In this case we overtook 9 younger runners on the last arduous lap,  (What happened, Richard!!) with me eventually getting through to 42nd woth Mike 43rd.
 Mike was on my shoulder at 9K and I had to dig deep, recording a 4.11 last K to beat the M65.  However, the video shows that M35 STEVE SCOTT (Manchester Frontrunners) was not going to let a shuffling grey haired old "g*t" get the better of him.  Pat doesn't pan to shows his "bolt" to the finishing line  but .... I hit the tartan track a full 10 metres ahead of him but despite much encouragement from behind camera he lifts himself for one last majestic sprint and roasts me over the last 60 metres! Oh, to be young.  
  So many struggled with the hills. At Platt Fields 10K many struggled in the heat.
  I can't help but wonder whether many club runners are relying on the "sessions" they do, say Tuesdays and Thursdays at "the club" and are not backing this speedwork up with  what is really the easier part of training ....just GOING FOR A STEADY RUN!" 
 Runs of up to 12 miles which build the strength I would suggest to cope with tough 10ks like Sunday.
 I was asked by one runner what I would do  on the Monday after a race like this.
I said  back 25 years I would generally do two easy short runs, but now I would just do a flat run on grass of 4 miles, at least 2 minutes slower than race pace.  Easy pace, hard work but beneficial.
 He would feel "guilty" doing that.  I asked him what would he do instead? "Nothing ", he replied.

   Hope you enjoy the videos ....don't get too many crumbs from y' butties on y' keyboard!

                                                 BOGGART CHASE 10K   PART ONE....



Sunday, 18 September 2011


I don't really like entering races too far in advance.  At my age I never know how I'll feel one day to the next, never mind months ahead.   But when I looked at the MANCHESTER PARKS GRAND PRIX series it looked like excellent value for money at just £15 for 5 races and it wouldn't matter much if I had to miss the odd event.  Such good value that , similar to others, I phoned Brenda Bradshaw, the coordinator, to verify the price!
 Of course. the aim was to run all 5 events and enjoy that sense of achievement in staying fit enough to complete a programme of races starting in  May and finishing in mid September.   As it turns out today's last event, THE BOGGART CHASE 10K,  is a "done deal" as they say in terms of my M60 age category.  Even if M60 leader, FRANCIS DAY (EASTCHESHIRE) doesn't run,  he has 12 points to my 8. There is only 3 points for a win; so I am resigned to second place whatever.
 But of more significance  is how the breathing can cope with both the distance and the roller coaster course.
Last Sunday  in the gales I was forced to abort  the run and managed just 4.5 miles.   Monday and Tuesday were little better. Whilst things have improved through the week ( I managed the  2 res run in just over the hour midweek)  I haven't been anywhere near  race pace since a week last Friday.
 I think Pat could sense my apprehension as  there was little conversation  during the hour journey over to North Manchester  for the 11.15 a.m. start.  At least  the weather would be kind to us after last year's drenching  as the mists of Yorkshire cleared as we made our way into bright Lancashiresunshine.
 Walking over to pick my number up, I see and chat to Mr. Day so there will be no category prize today, I think.  Whilst we are chatting old friend Malcom Warburton comes and hands me a result sheet from April 1964  which is very, very interesting and one which I will come back to later in the week.
 11.15 a.m. A small field of 110 runners assemble on the track.  The race starts with 2 and a half laps before exiting onto the roller coaster 3 lap course. This profile shows all fun we had....

 It was very much deja vu time in this first kilometre of the race,  looping around with the track with teammate JAN NICHOLLS as last year.   It was fun also nearly convincing a young man that it was 25 laps of the track making up the 10K!   "No hills, then?" he said.  "No dead flat!", I replied,  trying to sound dead serious.
 A cautious start and Jan and I exit the track in 4.26.  We descend Charlestown Road and swing back into the park, maintaining pace at 4.26 but the first hill takes it's toil and I record a 5.01.  But the hill is not too onerous.  Flat past the track and downhill to 4k in 4.24, a climb sees the 5K mark reached in 22.55.  A longer hill in K 6 and a 5.02 split puts the brakes on a tad.  Again I cope quite well and take more places. 
 M60 leader is no where is sight but M65 Mike Cunningham comes on my back and gives me a
psychological "kick up the backside".   A 4.30 split and a downhill 4.13 but Mike is still on my shoulder as we pull away from much younger runners.  The last long is taken in 4.57. It's going to take a fast last to run under 46 minutes and put  put some daylight between me and Mike.
 I manage to lift the pace, recording a last K in 4.11 to finish in 45.52, compared with 45.19 last year. Satisfactory. Bearing in mind the last month.  Garmin splits  22.55 and 22.55. Dead even. 
  M60 Francis Day beat me by over 4 minutes but the lack of faster M45s and M50s saw us old guys all moved up and so I was awarded the  M60 vouchers.
 Pat filmed the event and it highlights how my problematic hamstring is hampering knee lft, drive and stride length.  I just don't feel confident going hard from the start despite over 2 miles warm up.   I just look like a fast walker!  Now some would say it's a swift efficient shuffle cadence but I think it's not a pretty sight and needs sorting !!
 Today was the 137th and slowest 10K  but very reassuring all things considered. 
ROBIN TUDDENHAM (TODMORDEN) won the race in 35:41 with host's BEV JENKINS (SALFORD)  first lady in 38:10, cheered on by her 3 young boys, resplendent in their Man. City shirts.  I handed her my Sweatshop vouchers after the presentation treat the lads to some Man. United gear!
  Quite a good day for the club with FRANK  CORDINGLEY (M50) JACKIE CORDINGLEY and daughter  BEATRICE and JENNY MILES also in the awards.   (SEE PIC ABOVE)


Saturday, 17 September 2011


 Contrary to popular opinion I do do some work now and again.  I don't spend all my day running and watching daytime television.
  Although I must confess I do like Loose Women, Doctors, Countdown and Escape to the Country; and of course it was back in January when I last missed my daily run "fix".
 This week with the dregs of Hurricane Katia still wreaking havoc from the west we declared an end to summer at both branches of the COMPLETE RUNNER and I was over at the Lancashire NELSON branch to help rearrange apparel as our suppliers like to call it , bringing up winter jackets, gilets, tights, longsleeves etc  and putting out new lines coming in.
 There is naturally a major emphasis on safe running in the dark with plenty of fluo yellow jackets on offer from the wind/shower resist FASTRAX at £30 through midprice from BROOKS (Nightlife) and NIKE up to GORE Windstopper options at over £100.  But  as an alternative there is the bright orange VIZI PRO range from SAUCONY.
 Many runners prefer less conspicuous colours putting their faith on being seen in the multiple reflective additions which are added to most jackets, tights and long sleeves nowadays. 
 As witnessed by the flash camera reflection throughout the whole of the mens offering shown here.
  We brought in 2 great ranges from ASICS and SAUCONY for those who like to "feel the blues"
and for those who feel inspired dressing in what many of world's leading athletes wear there is the
intense green from ADIDAS.  A range which includes a great value Gore Windstopper jackets in both intense green and black.

 We are continually told by female customers that they find it difficult to get a good choice of running gear in a good range of sizes.  I like to think we cater well for the fairer sex with plenty of choice and availability from  GORE, NIKE, SAUCONY, BROOKS, ASICS and FASTRAX.
  I'm hoping that we don't get as much snow and ice this winter as the last couple of years but it will be cold, it will be windy and it will be wet. 
 But we've  no excuse not getting out and keeping up our running with some great gear
to keep us warm, dry and safe in the coming months.  
                                               Oh, don't forget your footwear....


Thursday, 15 September 2011



 Nowadays,  I doubt you would see me lining up for a race of any distance having run a half marathon 7 days before.  But back in 1986 I was quite willing and able to tackle a 10K starting near to the Kirkstall Abbey, hence the title, ( see picture below) the week after the
Windmill half marathon. Heading out through Rodley and involving a very testing drag up to Horsforth before dropping back down to Kirkstall it was far from a P.B. course but nevertheless it attracted a good field and some good quality times were recorded.  
111 recorded under 40 minutes.

                             The race was put on by Leeds Postal Sports Association Harriers.

  At 37 I couldn't hold on to 24 year old clubmate JOHN CONVERY who ran 32.30 and NIGEL MONAGHAN, then with LEEDS CITY, ran away from me over the last mile or so to record 32.54 to my 33.04.
  John C. has had an excellent career. Still racing well e.g.  recording 35.04 at Salford 10K this year at 49.   He can boast many top 10 place in the UK rankings.  For example,  he ranked 2nd as a M45 in 2007.  John  followed my route and won many vets medals with Bingley Harriers but has now joined his talented son Sam at Wakefield Harriers.  I'm pretty sure Nigel is still running but racing infrequently nowadays.
 The event was significant as several local runners donned their brand new red and green Ilkley Harriers vest for the first time.  (Andy Husband, Paul Glendinning and Dave Smith)
 Ilkley COMPLETE RUNNER manager, TIM AGAR,  was well up in 16th place recording 34.45 (Skyrac A.C.) He's still very active with the club, coaching and team managing.  Amongst  11 Skyrac runners in the first 100 was GRAHAM BREEZE (37.13) who  concentrated his later efforts on the fells with much age group success.
  Valley Strider runner YVONNE BISSETT would appear to be the first lady in 38.41.  I say "appear" as the results do not show ages or sex of the runners!  Just behind her was JOHN WILLINGHAM who I've trained with a couple of times recently.  Just coming off the squash court he ran 38.43 which he would no doubt beat at the moment.    
  A break the following week then a return to Lancashire for yet another half marathon.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A problematic weekend for Yorkshire Athletics

 Last weekend.  A  difficult time for runners, club captains and team managers of the county's many clubs.    With the open age Yorkshire Road Relays on Saturday and the Yorkshire Veterans Road Relay Championships ( now for over 35s,male and female) the following day with the Wetherby 10K, the Sandal Castle 10K and the Yorkshireman half and full off road marathons  added into  the mix,it was interesting to see how the various Yorkshire clubs would cope.
 Racing so often  over in Lancashire nowadays, I  popped up to the Carnegie Campus in Leeds to  see so many old friends, looking forward to some keen competition.  
 All  options seemed to have been covered  judging by the turnout.
 Several clubs  supported both Yorkshire relays. Many veterans running both days.
 OTLEY winning bronze on Saturday and silver in the M35 on Sunday.  KEIGHLEY took advantage of teams failing to appear and won gold on Saturday and followed up with silver in the M35s and bronze in the M40s on Sunday. A great show of club organisation and commitment.
 Some , perhaps struggling to find under 35 talent, decided to focus on the Sunday's vets championships.  The home club LEEDS surprisingly, fielded incomplete teams in both mens and womens events; no doubt "keeping their powder dry " for the Northerns.  Some  clubs boasting large memberships failed to appear at either event.   Surprisingly failing to use the county event as a trial event for the Northern Relays  the week after next.  
  So in the 4 leg senior womens event   from over 40 Yorkshire clubs just 10 clubs put teams out and 11 in the mens,  several, including some top Yorkshire clubs fielding incomplete teams.
 With clubs relying so heavily on veterans nowadays many I spoke to felt that Yorkshire athletics generally suffered by having the 2 events on the same weekend. 
 In  theory there should not have been a problem.   In an ideal world,  teams turned out on Satuday consisting of mainly under 35s and the vets turning out the next  day.   But as we all know  the under 35s are in the minority nowadays, consequently, of the top 6 womens teams,  only 10 runners of the 24 were under 35.
 Of the top 6 mens teams,. only 11 of the 36 were under 35.  
It's really not  boding well  for the future of this  traditional branch of the sport.  But I'm confident that the NORTHERN 6/4 relays at Warrington on September 24 will be fiercely contested no matter how many teams turn up.   See you there! ?
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 12 September 2011

Giving the gales a run for their money!

 I suspected that I might struggle in the blustery conditions Sunday morning.  High winds do nothing to help asthmatics to breathe efficiently; and so it proved. 
 Having battled through Friday's track session in the rain.  Sunday  I didn't cope well at all and had to be
 content  , though not pleased, to draw the line at  4.5 troublesome miles and bring the week's total to 40. 

 Monday, late morning. 
All the weather forecasts are expressing great concern about gale force winds out there as the tail end of HURRICANE KATIA sweeps across the Atlantic.  Building damage, flooding and transport chaos imminent. 
 How do we runners cope?
 One of my  ways of dealing with such conditions is to ask Pat drive me out for the required distance and run back with the wind behind.  May sound a bit extreme  and a bit defeatist but  why not if the help is there?
  I certainly enjoyed and remember well an undulating 11 mile run back to Ilkley from Burnsall which took just 66 minutes as a strong westerly wind pushed me from behind all the way!  But that was quite a few years ago.
 Today it was just 7  undulating miles, wind assisted in 60 minutes; much faster and far more enjoyable than  running bent double into the south westerly gale force winds which are reported will reach up to at least 60 m.p.h. 
 It will be hard work this evening for runners trying to cope with these conditions and quite dangerous if running near to traffic.   If you are reading this before going out.....TAKE CARE!
  Hopefully you won't encounter conditions like this......

I don't think there will be many running along this sea front promenade in Saltcoats, on the west coast of Scotland!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Staying on track.......a test of resolve!

Friday morning.  As I sit having breakfast, Pat returns from her run and reports that the weather is "grey, not too cold and quite still".   For once , I think, the track  may be wind free for today's session.
 I load the car with this week's Nelson branch delivery and set off with the sun  shyly peeping through whiter clouds over Ilkley .   All well and good.
 Until I reach the sign post declaring I'm now entering Lancashire and the windscreen wipers are brought in to action. Damn.
 By the time I've unloaded and driven on to  park for the session,  the rain is sweeping  heavily across the track.  I start  review my  options..........
 One.  I am at the track ...stick to the planned session of 12 x 300.....grin and bear it.   Grind them out.
Two.  Just do a set of 8. 
Three.  Forget the track session and just go for a run on the canal.
Four.   Just drive home and train this afternoon.
Five.    Just sit and wait for the wretched weather to blow through.  But a glance to the west indicates that I could be sat waiting for quite a long time!
  Fortunately, I'm fully waterproofed up so  I  run the 2 mile park warm up and add another mile on the tartan track.  The rain continues  unabated.   This is not going to be pleasant at all.

 I'd calculated that a creditable target time for the 300 reps would be 75 seconds based on approx 20.45  5K race pace.  But of course that didn't take into account a curtain of rain being drawn continually across the track.
  Heel striking,  negligible knee lift , hamstrings stiff to start with , as always , I  scamper  swiftly
through the first  rep  to record 77.   Not too bad, considering  but more uuumph required!
  The next few reps go better and gradually I'm getting more on the forefoot and driving (relatively) well.
Acceleration and good consistency.
 72.9  73.9  73.6  73.3  73.1 72.7
 Seven reps ticked off but it's getting hard work as the rain continues to sweep across the track.
Let's leave it there I think. 
8 reps wouldn't be bad and all faster than targeted.
But another voice says no said 12...don't wimp out....stick to the are already soaking wet ......another 4 laps won't make much difference.....dig deep and you can do it.
 A 9th rep in 72.7 ......3 to go....73.0 73.9.....last one.....I lose concentration....the mind starts to think about the weekend ahead .....73.4.  Not good enough.  I always like the last to be the fastest.
 So after all that  deliberation about whether to do the session at  all, whether to pull out after just 8,   I  decide do a 13th.......and determined to focus and make it the fastest,  manage....70.6.  
 Last and fastest achieved.
  Just a couple of miles easy cool down and on cue.....the rain stops and the sun comes out! Typical.
I'm joined for the cool down by a local runner and he tells he how he was doing 300s himself yesterday in 50 seconds or so which makes my efforts look paltry but as I'm giving him 12 years
and my personal taget was achieved i have to be satisfied.
  So that was today's track session. A foul day and one when it would have been so easy to curse the Rain Gods and drive home.
 I'm sure we've all  had to abort a run or session through injury or perhaps been unrealistic in our aim for the outing but I think it's like dropping out in a race when the going gets hard it once ,perhaps OK, , do it twice and there's a danger of creating a habit! 
Similarly, miss sessions or cut them short can equally become habitual and performance deteriorates.
 So a pat on the back.....and an easy day tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011



To a race often marred by gale force winds .........just like today!!

  Yesterday I made reference to a small, low key race. This date 25 years ago  I was competing in another Fylde Coast race but one that was somewhat larger.
  The WINDMILL HALF MARATHON was first put on by the Fylde Borough Council in 1983, attracting a large field of around 2000 runners and was repeated for ten years until 1992.  The race started inland on playing fields,  headed out to the coastal promenade,  
then continued down past the renown windmill to the east beach area and back.   The race served as a very popular late summer attraction but numbers reduced to 1291 in 1991 and at this point the council withdrew.  The 1992 being sponsored by a development company.
 One significant attraction without doubt was the chance of a PB for many on the fast flat course. Hence Steve Kenyon's course record time of 65.08 in that first 1983 race.
 But the event was often marred by strong westerly winds.  The 1985 race being particularly horrendous.  Gale force winds brought down the race marquees overnight prior t o the race and continued throughout the morning.  We were hit hard by sand whipped up and  blown at us; several runners being treated in A.& E. for eye damage.
 As we headed back up the coast I particularly recall encouraging the group I was in to run single file and each take a turn at the front to provide shelter for those behind.  Much the same as a cycling "chain gang". 
 The 1986 race,  25 years ago today,  attracted 2237 to the coastal Lytham and St. Annes resorts. Won by Liverpool legend JOHN WOODS in 66.38, my time of 71.09 was good enough for only 15th place; deemed "satisfactory"  in the diary, no doubt bearing in mind the Friday's entry refered to "pain stemming from left buttock down leg".  
(Much the same as nothing changes!)
Quality wise,  some interesting statistics,  64 ran inside 75 minutes.  193 inside 80 minutes and a very impressive 662 under 90 minutes!
  The race closed off week 36 of the year.  A week of 10 outings  including a cautious 3.5 miles the day prior to the race, totalling 70 miles.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Easy races......hard commentary

  Road races with  few participants ,say less than 100, commonly and  correctly  described as "small and low key" do have some advantages.  Ease of parking, no queues for convenient "on the day entry",  which is usually a  relatively small fee,  no queues for the toilet, no need to sharpen the elbows for the fight for space on the road over the first mile.  All well and good.
 But many would say, "Yes, and no atmosphere!!"  Countless Complete Runner customers tell me that they won't entertain entering any races that don't feature runners numbering tens of thousands and so are happy to pay out over £35 for the Gt Manchester Run, The Great North Run or the London Marathon. Which is fine but I always try to encourage them to  learn about support smaller events as well.
 Of course, one great disadvanrage of a small field is that very often they can turn out to be virtually time trials;  a solo run with no group to share a faster pace,  no crusing or surging which form a key to race enjoyment for me.
 Last Sunday after the initial half mile push,  I was forced to run alone for the remaining 3.5 miles.  But  just being in the competitive environment justified the effort and travelling to the event and putting the number on the vest.  
 If I had elected for a 4 x mile track session I would not have achieved  6.59  7.09  6.59  6.52.   So even as a speed endurance exercise it was worthwhile; and anyway it was only a small deviation on our way to the Lake District!   Besides, Pat will enjoy the wine.  Both bottles!
 The rest of the week went pretty well.  Mindful of the hills of the Boggart H.C. 10k  I put in a hill session on the Tuesday.  8  medium length reps which went well with times up the on the previous fortnight.  But with a weeknd race that was the only effort session of the week.  With no long run either the mileage was consequently slightly below average at 39 miles. Perhaps as well it wasn't a big training week as there was so much to watch of the.....
the majority of my viewing was via Eurosport UK with former athletes TIM HUTCHINGS and MARTIN GILLINGHAM doing the commentating.   They are at home now having a well earnt lie down having had to cope with pronouncing  troublesome competitors' names ......
                                                                   Just to name a few!
                                                                TIM HUTCHINGS

                                                             MARTIN GILLINGHAM

Monday, 5 September 2011

FAST 4 Great Eccleston....a double win!

 4 of the 13 races I've completed this year have been races in the Manchester Parks series.  The last one is the very challenging Boggart Hole Clough 10K on September 18th.  But that would have meant a 5 week gap since the Chernobyl 10k. on August 14.
 A gap too long for my liking; so I looked at the options for an "entry on the day" race yesterday;  with an eye especially for a race which Pat could take part in as well.
 The race would serve as good feed back on how I could compete at race pace bearing in mind current revised medication.   We spotted a race, The FAST 4 MILER (GREAT ECCLESTON) which if it did "exactly what it said on the tin" would prove an ideal low key choice.  Another visit to the Fylde, Lancashire.
  For once, I was hoping for a sub 7 minute first mile and if things went as most flat races there was a good chance this could be maintained for a sub 28 minutes clocking.
  A 2 mile warm up (I would have liked more) and we assembled with just over 50 runners for the 10.30 start.  Low key , "friendly" indeed!
 Once again with the assistance of the garmin to monitor pace it sounded for the first mile showing 6:59.  I hav overtaken a couple of faster starters and was in "no man's land" chasing race organiser, Alan Taylor, of Wesham Roadrunners. 
 And chase him I did but could make no impression over mile 2,  covered outside target in 7.06 and mile 3,  back on target in 6.59.   Some impression made over the last mile in 6.52.   Garmin 4 in 27.57
 As per the Elswick Express the garmin recorded  before the finish line, conveniently positioned just off the road. So "official"  time 28.06
 I jogged back to support Pat through the last half mile and she responded well picking up a place to finish in 35.50, just under 9 minute mile pace.
 In the small "select" field we both placed first in the M/F 60 age groups; adding to our wine stocks. Hardly a mass quality race field but it was quite nice to achieve a double win in the week of our 41st. wedding anniversary. 
 When we married in 1970 I had already been running competitively for about 7 years and steadily recovering to a reasonable state of fitness after lung surgery. 
 Pat had  no sporting background at all. A fairly relucantant Phys. Ed. participant but to her credit she has embraced running over the years since. She ran an excellent 3:46 marathon in London 1984 but her races since have been few and far between.  
 Hopefully  we can achieve more "double" wins in the future. 
In truth the "Fast 4" was as pan flat as we had hoped, the Garmin feedback showing 30 mts differential in height gained but the gradients were hardly challenging; just enough to take the edge of 100%.
 A very reasonable "goodie back" for the £7 on the day entry; with a t-shirt , more likely to be worn as it was unprinted, a medal, bottle of water, home made cake and a device which we were somewhat puzzled about but looks like it could be useful if we take up rock climbing.
 Whilst the race proved very useful to those of us seeking a low key,  shortish race  it was puzzling that it was held on the same morning as a half marathon just a few miles away in Blackpool and the day after a 10K from the same seaside venue.   Maybe a different date next year!?