Tuesday, 31 July 2012


 As we were up in the Lake District for a long weekend once more, we decided to nip down to Lancaster and sample the July LANCASTER 5K.  The 3rd of 5 in a 5K series hosted by Lancaster & Morecambe A.C. from their base at Salt Ayre track.
 Unlike so many parkrun addicts this would only be my 2nd 5K of the year. My only other effort over the distance being the Salford 5K (21.32) on a cold, wet night back in April.  Time for improvement?
 Having run a 43.00 10K on Blackpool promenade in May, the formula of deduct a minute and divide by 2 pointed to a 21.00 minute clocking. But of course theory and practice as we know can often be very different depending on the course and conditions.  Easier said than done.
 I anticipated there would be K markers so knew I would need 4.12 splits or 6.46 per mile if not.  Far faster than any of my training times!
 Warming up confirmed that the course would be "flat and fast".  We would start with a loop of the track which would break up the field before exiting onto nearby traffic free tree lined paths.

Unfortunately, for the 91 starters, on Saturday evening we ran into a very strong chilly wind from the 2 mile point to the turn point on the out and back route and consequently after a promising first mile in 6.50, the second mile disappointedly was clocked at 7.06.  It would need a big push to hit the 21.00 mins. target.
 But at this point I'm engaged in a 3 man tussle with unattached runners and with the trees shielding us from the wind we accelerated over the last mile.  As we run back onto the track one has been dropped but the other provides an excellent target for me over the last lap.
 He has several yards lead but when I determine that whatever his age someone wearing INOV8 trail shoes is not going to bet me over 400 metres! Battling to outsprint him takes me under the prerace target time............20.59!
Very satisfying and suggesting that with some decent speed work over the  next few weeks and given a calmer night a time that could be improved upon. But a full 1:23 seconds behind the first M60, Patrick Thomas of Hoad Hill harriers.  No prize on the night!                                                                    
Pat made one of her rare race appearances, pictured here number 30 behind Lancaster runner, Linda Stapleton F65 who she managed to pass to finish in a very creditable 27:45.  First F60 but behind Bentham Beagle's Valerie Harrold  who ran 26:54.
 There were a whole host of fast young guns out on the night with 17 under 17 minutes, the race being won by Danny Parkinson of Kendal in 15:03.  But the run of the evening was that of GEORGE THOMPSON
(Border Harriers) who as an M55 ran  16:02 taking him to first on the UK rankings for this year.
 Kelly Crickmore (Chester Tri) was first lady in 17:25.
  All in all well worth the trip to Lancaster to sample the potentially PB course. My only criticism, which I expressed of course!, was that in 2012 I thought the course would have had K markers which surely making pace targetting so much easier.
 The penultimate 5k will take place on August 25 and the last on September 29.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


There has been a great deal written and spoken about barefoot running in the last couple of years. Most running shoe manufacturers have re-introduced minimal shoe offerings back into their range ;some trying to go as near as possible to a barefoot shoe.
 Writers very often start with reference to ABEBE BIKILA and how he ran and won the 1960 Olympic marathon without the use of footwear in 2:15.16.2 in Rome.   As an 11 years old the grey, grainy
images of him on our small TV crossing the line,  appearing  as if he'd just run one lap of the track were amazing and inspiring.
                               Surely one of the hardest gold medals ever to have been won?
 Yes, he wore shoes next time around when he repeated his victory in Tokyo, winning in 2:12.11 but by the mid/late 1960s many senior UK stars , Bruce Tulloh, Ron Hill, Hogan etc were all racing barefoot and , of course, we juniors did likewise.
 I only trained on grass in barefeet and only raced once with shoes on plush parkland in the Inter County cross country.  Tulloh etc raced barefoot on cinder tracks without spikes but 26.2 is another matter altogether  at the speed Bikila was going.  Good times, good memories.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


My dear wife Pat was out with her wee camera at Sunday's MOONRAKER 10K staged by MIDDLETON HARRIERS at Bowlee, Manchester.  In competition with a local Race For Life event in nearby Heaton Park in which 2000 took part but still  111 tackled the undulating, challenging 10K which takes in tarmac paths , local roads and a degree of trail.  

Monday, 23 July 2012


The last few years I've gone out of my way to keep the racing fresh by tackling one or two new races each year. Sodue for a visit to my dear mother Pat and I took in  the MOONRAKER 10K  yesterday taking place nearby to where she lives in North Manchester.
 It is based in Bowlee, a part of Middleton and apparently  the race is so called because  people from the town are often nicknamed "Moonrakers". Fine I thought but was is a Moonraker?
 I made prerace enquiries, being told that a Moonraker is a person who on leaving a local hostelry having imbided several pints of a locally  brewed beverage sees the reflection of the moon in a puddle outside said hostelry and given to hallucination makes attempts to scoop the moon up. So now you know.
 Obviously strong stuff that J.W.Lees ale brewed up in Middleton Junction!
 There's always a certain degree of apprehension doing a race for the first time but in trying to give myself a good idea of what was in store I came across this website below which indicated all I needed to know.  It showed the route,  gradient profile and a little animated man ran around it just to make it clear which way it would go.  Great stuff!

 The guide indicated (and my warm up confirmed)  that we would start uphill and take in a 2K circuit of paths and some trail before exiting the start/finish area to climb up through the adjacent Langley estate. Having ascended to the 3 mile point we would then descend back to the grounds but return to the paths and trail for 1K before finishing.   I sense my task will be to pull back as many of the fast starters I can from the 2K point as we ascend to the 5K point.   
 We turned off the M60 and within minutes turned left up the extremely long and steep start to Heywood Old Road. My mind immediately going back to Sunday afternoons in the '60s doing hill reps up this monster under the guidance and encouragement of Alan Robertshaw, my coach at Sale Harriers. Character building stuff; paving the way for solo efforts to come.
    We arrived at Bowlee at 10.00 a.m. and parked easily just yards from the start. No problem.  A short walk to enter.   No queues;no problem, leaving ample time to warm up.
  Royton Roadrunners made up more than a third of the runners as we assembled for the 11.00 a.m.start.
We imediately start to climb and the incline  quickly spreads the field as does the narrow  single file trail section.  
   My prediction proves correct as (judging by the video) I am way back in 62 nd place of the 111 starters.
But 8.46 for a hilly 2K isn't too bad I'm thinking.  Now to dig in, start working and start overtaking.
 It's the next 3K which proves too exacting as the clouds part and the sun breaks through and is felt strongly on the neck and head.  My thoughts go to the Tour de France cyclists toiling up mountains.  This incline through the housing pales by comparison but still it takes us over 5 mins per K in places.  But as I thought I'm suffering less than others and going through.
 From 5K we are rewarded with a downhill/ flat second section to 9K and the last K despite yet another short off road section returns a 4:06 including the sprint along the finishing straight to just dip under 45 minutes in 44:57.  Good enough for 1st M60. I finish 41st having overtaken 21 from the 2K point.
 So to conclude if you are looking for a fast, flat  10K on a perfect road surface this is NOT the one for you.
But if you prefer a challenging  undulating event with a mix of terrain, easy parking, no queues for toilets etc.
chance of a shower after, reasonable prizes, a reasonable "goodie bag" and very good post race refreshment
all this could be yours for just £8.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


  I can't really say that I was into the difference between slow and fast twitch fibres when I was 11. All I knew was that when I playing  for the under 11 school football team,  at the end of the game I was still running around  like Carlos Tevez on speed whilst most of the rest of the team were looking to the ref. to blow for the end of the game. I think today they would have called me "Duracell Boy"
  I also recall  that morning classes finished at 11.55 and even getting home for lunch was turned into a race even though I ran by myself.
Each day I would  dash out of the classroom,  down the stairs, across the playing fields and through the neighbouring valley, aiming to be through our back door before the "buzzer" sounded at noon at the local fabric mill.
  As I ran I would pretend to in a mile track  where the lead would change throughout my 5 minute effort.
Ibbotson,  Landy, Elliott,Bannister would all figure but everyday my hero Ireland's RONNIE DELANY would win with a last lap sprint as he had in the MELBOURNE  Olympic 1500 metres.  My affinity to Ireland largely down to my grandmother's reminders that we were of Irish descent. 

We went sent to school on St.Patrick's day with shamrock pinned to the lapel of our blazer, after all!
 I was 7 years old in 1956, when Ronnie Delaney became  the seventh runner to join the  sub 4 mins mile club. In the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne he  qualified for the Olympic 1500 m final but I remember the Australian  JOHN LANDY being the hot  favourite. Delany shadowed  Landy until the final lap, when he unleashed his final sprint, winning the race in a new Olympic Record.  I would pretend to replicate this finishing sprint each lunchtime as I ran home from school, leaving my imaginary rivals in my wake.  Delany had  become the first Irishman to win an Olympic title in athletics since  1932.
  But whilst Delany's Olympic gold medal for Ireland was inspiring it would be another 5 years before I test myself
over that kind of distance. For the time being football was king. 
 Unfortunately, there were no cross country leagues for primary schools as there are now, so any natural ability to run hard and long was never really discovered.  But when it came to sprinting  I was up against it.   
  I was only a reserve for the school under 11  4 x 110 yards relay team which was selected to compete in the Manchester Primary Schools.  I recall it was held on the speedway track at Belle Vue funnily enough.  This was the only competitive running we did at St.Clare's Primary School, North Manchester.
 My sprinting ability had not improved by the time I went to St. Bede's College across town after passing the 11+ exam. 
  Memories  of those times are naturally a bit  hazy I recently received from my older brother the results of his perusal of old school magazines of the 1960s.
It appears I  was entered for the 100 yards and 440 yards, the longest event,  in the school sports but as far as I can remember I failed to make the final of the 100 yards, certainly didn't win a medal.
 The 440 yards , however, was a different story and saw me coming through after a cautious start to see me grab the win.  The record shows the time as 69.2.  But there was no real future in it ; 440 yards was too short, however, I wish  I could run that now!
 The following year  I repeated that 440 win but felt far more comfortable running 2 laps.  A half mile (880 yards ) win in 2:28 on the school grass track.
 This opened up selection for what would be my first real open competition this time 50 years ago; the MANCHESTER SCHOOLS TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS 1962.   A  satisfying 3rd place but no time recorded  and the distinct feeling that 2 laps around the grass track was not enough.
 But the opportunity to tackle RONNIE DELANY'S distance would have to wait for another year;  my twitch fibres were calling out for more, but they would just have to be patient!!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


 AS I start this post the rain is hammering down once more and the trees outside the office window are taking an early morning buffeting. Another brilliant summer day. Not.
 The weather was a bit kinder on Sunday and Pat and I finished the training week with a visit to Fewston/Swinsty reservoirs. 

 The recent threat of being attacked by a boa constrictor had seemingly been forgotten or  was being ignored as we arrived late morning to find the large car park entirely full.  Zig zagging through families often with multiple dogs proved challenging to say the least. 

 Pat's photo of the overflowing FEWSTON reservoir indicates that there should be no need for a Yorkshire Water hosepipe ban any time soon.
 Yesterday saw a return to the Seedhill ....


 Lapping the track carrying out rep sessions in the months of January and February,  the mind naturally goes forward to the summer months and we dream of temperatures demanding little more in the way of attire other than a skimpy pair of shorts.  Dream on!

 With changes of routine and the calf niggle it was 2 months ago until yesterday  that I had last visited Seedhill, Nelson.  I haven't avoided speed sessions altogether but the grass track and the road just don't seem to enable me to get anywhere near the same pace as on the tartan.
 I think part of the benefit is that every 400 metres or even 200 metres a glance gives a guide to the pace.  Too slow,  bang on or too fast...well, never too fast!
 Regretably with the temperature at a moderate 15 and a constant threat of heavy rain a waterresist tee was the order of the day.  Let's hope that the weather will eventually break for the Olympics.
    Nothing fancy for today's session. A classic mile rep session that I was weaned on nearly 50 years ago and have continued with ever since.  Simple aim being 4 x mile ,aiming for 10K race pace with today a 3 minute interval jog recovery.
 Simple aim but not easily achievable running solo with the usual Seedhill breeze to toil against.  With a season's best of 43 minutes a perfect world would see rep times down around the 7 minute mark but as usual apprehension about the calf and prevailing conditions sees returns of 7.20  7.21 and 7.17 for the first 3 reps.
 A bit disappointing but as no other miles in the week are faster than 8 mins still very worthwhile and beneficial I would say.
 It's only on the last rep that I feel confident enough to push on and my reward is a solid 7.01.
It may be a minute and a half slower than I used to run for 26 miles but I still think there's no better feeling in training than feeling you are giving it 100% on the tartan.
Perhaps I should one time experiment with say doubling the recovery time to 6 minutes or so; a bit more emphasis perhaps on the speed rather than endurance? Watch this space.

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Fearful that Barclays would erode my pension pot even further I recently surrendered it in and have used part of the lump sum to buy a new NISSAN JUKE DIG-T.
 I have had it "logo'd up" for the FASTRAX side of the business, so Pat and myself will be hopefully easier to spot at a race if runners want to talk club sales business or simply talk!
 We don't envisage selling at the events,however. Not quite what we want to be returning to at our age!

For many,many years Pat and I  would fill the COMPLETE RUNNER van and travel to races throughout the north on a Saturday and a Sunday selling our wares.  The routine was to arrive two hours before the race start time so that by the time the runners arrived we were set up and ready for any prerace business.
 Ideally I would try to step out from behind the counter 20 minutes or so before the off so that I could do a bit of warm up before I took my place in the race field.  But often runners were still trying to buy socks or even shoes until the very last minute and my warm up would get out of the window.

 I recall one such incident, 30 years ago now, in 1982. We were set up selling at the Daffodil Marathon in Stockport.  I was just about to start my brief warm up when a  runner  dashed up to the stall saying he'd forgotten his shoes and desperately need a pair to race in. Whilst Pat sorted another runner out with new socks I served  the frantic runner and we dashed over to the start together.  Afterwards, having finished 12th in 2:33,  I sat on the grass by the van nursing my sore feet, battered and blistered from the 26.2 miles.  
As I recovered  my last minute buyer  breezed up as happy as Larry saying, 
 "Great shoes,mate.  Not one single blister. Perfect!"  
 Very often  we had proved race support with COMPLETE RUNNER vouchers. This meant having to stay "open for business"  but with a big lull in selling  until the presentation had been completed,often hours after the first runner had come in.  Then of course the voucher winners would descend upon us like plague of locusts desperate not to drive home until they had "spent" their voucher.   Very  often we were the very last to leave.  It was hard work and meant for long days.
 A few years ago we decided we'd done enough "mobile selling". We would sell the van.  We would  still enjoy going to races but I would be able to warm up properly and focus entirely on the race.  

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


No runners visible on the thumbnail above but there should be 18 plus minutes of action with accompanying music of last Sunday's DEBDALE PARK EDDIE CHEETHAM MEMORIAL 7K with this link to YOUTUBE.

Monday, 9 July 2012


It's back to Manchester tomorrow  for the 4th of 5 events in the MANCHESTER PARKS GRAND PRIX series.  Hosted by Belle Vue Racers the DEBDALE PARK (Eddie Cheetham Memorial ) 7K race is a  pretty low key event of 2 laps; mildly undulating on tarmac and potholed trail.
  I'm committed to the series, great value at 5 races for £25(!), so need attendance is mandatory but in fact the 4.3 miles distance should be just about right to test current fitness after 3 weeks of ticking over with mileage 50% of my yearly average.
 Unlike the waterlogged Platt Fields 10K it'll be a 100% effort tomorrow.  It would be good to see a return to racing speed around the 7 mins per mile point but not having been within a minute of that pace for a month  the injection of adrenalin will have to be  a big one!


  Manchester is noted for rain but contrary to yesterday's forecast it failed to materialise and 125
runners enjoyed (or endured) a dry,if very humid, morning. Apparently it was a bit too sticky for many but personally I welcome wearing just one layer for a change.

 The plan to stay firmly in touch with those of similar ranking fall apart almost immediately as despite me putting in a 6.55 opening mile I found myself totally isolated (ref. video).  A large gap in front and under no threat from behind.  One of the drawbacks of low key, low participation races with a great breadth of standards.
 As I swing back up the rough trail for the second lap  I've reconciled myself to just one grand prix point and my main motivation becomes trying to get near to last year's time.  But the hill and the humidity seemed to be taking a toll on those in the distance and the gap to them is reducing......very quickly.  I catch up to Jake S. a young fit looking Manchester Frontrunner but he responds only momentarily to my encouragement and I drive on to catch teammate Jackie Cordingley which I do at the 3 mile point.  I consider running in with her but decide that she is not enjoying the morning and won't thank me for pushing her on.  I drive on alone.

 As we turn back into the park my M60 "rival" appears to be suffering as much as Jackie and I'm within touching distance as we reach the last small incline.  It's up on the toes for once and straight by; holding on for the last 200 metres to stay 5 seconds ahead.  2 points in the bag.
 Post race comments were "you really came through on that second lap" "you need to start faster, Terry!"  but  my garmin splits suggest that several others set off more at 5K pace.
 My mile splits were............6.55  7.07  7.01 6.53 to the 4 mile point.
  Timewise,  25 seconds slower than last year so all things considered, acceptable.  Aim of 2nd M60 grand prix achieved , 3rd overall.  49th of 125 who finished.
  It was double victory win  for the club, Sale Harriers, with club mates ROB FLANNERY (24:21) (pictured above)
and LOUISE WHITTAKER (26:27)enjoying victory.

 It was also good to see RON HILL winning his M70 age group running 37:29.  As brand competitors in the supply of club we stood chatting at the presentation and I pointed to the Wasp logo on the back of the vest on a local runner. His comment was immediate and to the point..
"yes, it's stings doesn't it!
  (Thanks to clubmate Frank Cordingley for these photos)

Thursday, 5 July 2012


 Nowadays I'm quite happy to space out races every 2 or 3 weeks to allow the old body to recover between efforts.  But this date 25 years ago would see me running a 6th race in a 7 week period as the LEEDS SPORTS CENTRE GRAND PRIX continued,  interspersed with others.   
 Of the 6 races in this period none of them take place now.
  Last week we ran the HARRY RAMSDENS 7.5 mile road race, sponsored  by the famous fish'n'chip company.  This pic shows the original Guiseley restaurant of a company which over the years became a national brand. 

Speedy miler SIMON FIELDING  showed us all a clean pair of heels but it was another  very good day for VALLEY STRIDERS  with JOHN CONVERY 5TH,  KEITH CLUDERAY 6TH, MARTIN HOPSON 7TH and myself 8th.
 JO FRICKER,  pictured below winning the Ilkley 8, who has just completed 25 years working with us at Fastrax,  notched up her 3rd win in 3 weeks in local races; having won the Ilkley race  and the Airebourough 10K in the previous weeks.

This date   JULY 5 1987 saw a return to another Leeds Grand Prix event.  The MORLEY 7 mile race.  Yet another race which if run today would be converted to 10K no doubt.   JOHN CONVERY won yet again and continued to lead the race series.  My 4th place kept me in second Grand Prix place as 2nd and 3rd in the race were no Grand Prix entrants. 
  With 7 races of the 9 in the race series now completed John had scored 7 wins and topped the rankings with a maximum  1400  points.   I was placed second with 7 x 199 points for 7 runner up places.  
   There was no way I could win the series unless John missed one or more event as to do so would lose him 200 points.  Question was could both of us stay fit and well for another two months bearing in mind the number of races we were tackling in this very very busy summer of 1987. Time would tell.

 If I was to be racing every week nowadays,  whilst I would continue to run every day,  I wouldn't be inclined to be doing  much in terms of speed work in the week.  
 But during this period the routine pattern of training was  a tad more intense than nowadays............
MONDAY...........2 runs of 4/5 miles morning and evening.
TUESDAY...........morning 4 easy...............evening hill session
WEDNESDAY....morning 4 easy..........track session (e.g. 4 x mile)
THURSDAY........one run of 8/10 miles
FRIDAY..............generally 2 easy runs as Monday
SATURDAY.......3 or 4 miles easy.
SUNDAY ..........RACE.

Total mileage being around the 60 mile point as there were  no marathons on the horizon for once. 
                     THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Olympic selection for Sale Harriers

 It was good to see 4 SALE HARRIERS selected for TEAM GB for the 2012 Olympics which was                      announced today.   
                                                     ANDY TURNER  110 M. HURDLES
                                                    KATE DENNISON POLE VAULT
                                             STUART STOKES  3k STEEPLECHASE

                                     Congratulations and best of luck to all 4 of them!

Sunday, 1 July 2012


  I've just added last week's Platt Fields 10K to this year's races on the blog and added it to my list of all time 10Ks.
  Simply scanning the list,  dropping from 43.00 at on the promenade of Blackpool  on May 13 to  a 48.03  on the park pathways of Platt Fields looks like a big drop in form.  But of course whilst the pictures tell the story of last week the results don't indicate that large parts of the course were under water,  which made it so tiresome for us all and on a personal note I was nursing a calf strain.
  Of course it's stand out on my alltime list as by far the slowest of the 142 run. But on the positive side it looks  a certainty that my next 10K will show significant improvement!  All being well; providing I can get back to 100%.
  I've tried to continue with a bit of running each day except Friday this week as the strain heals. Probably not what some would recommend but  it generally works for this grade of strain.   With the weather being so poor it's certainly not a bad time to be just ticking over and letting the old body enjoy a bit of a recovery with over 1000 miles logged in the first half of the year.
  I've managed 23 miles; the majority of it on grass. Just trying to maintain cardiovascular levels.
    I have just watched interviews featuring several runners competing in the European Championships in Helsinki (where the weather appears to be as bad as ours) and so many of them refer to competing having been injured this year.   It's a fine line between fitness and injury the harder we try to race better.
   I could have done with a little more time before racing again but next Sunday is the fourth of the five Manchester Parks series; so the task this week will be to try to get the legs moving a bit quicker without suffering another setback.  A tightrope exercise ahead then.
  My state of fitness is of little importance in the grand scheme of things (except to me, of course) but how good to see that local triathlon hero Alistair Brownlee has recovered well after his achilles injury. Even brother Jonathan must have been amazed with which he marked his return with a seemingly comfortable World Series win in Kitzbuhel.