Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bicton Blister

It was the turn of the Bicton Blister to be descended on by Team Maiden Newton this weekend, and the numbers swelled to 5 runners, 2 of whom were actually first claim! Phil unwisely chose to travel to the race with Martin and I, but having experienced the bickering over navigational problems and Martin's highly erratic driving, probably won't make that mistake again.
It was a lovely sunny day, despite the threatening clouds as we approached Bicton and the heavy over night rain and gales, and Bicton College makes a fine venue for a race. The race begins with a loop of the park and a detour through the equine water jump before heading across fields, along a short stretch of road and then into the woods. By this stage, Maiden Newton's elite had disappeared from my view as I struggled uphill through the mud. Even though I had done this race beforehand a few years ago I had very little recollection of the course. It was definitely flat when I ran it before, but now they've inserted lots of hills. I do remember the steep water-filled dips with eager photographers waiting to catch you at your worst (I very nearly obliged by doing a nose dive in the first one - that water was way deeper than I was expecting!)
The course comprises a stretch out, two loops and then the same stretch back - mostly woodland and common with undulations rather than hills and is advertised as 10 miles although Martin and I both measured it over on the GPS (not that you can place any reliance on mine which is apt to add in detours to Weymouth and back if it feels like it).
As I approached the final 200 yards Martin jogged back to meet me, issuing instructions about sprinting for the finish or some such nonsense , which I chose to ignore. Imagine my amazement when having got my breath back and gulped some revitalising water, first Phil and then Richard crossed the finish line behind me. What a gift for Martin, the butt of many cruel jokes in the past about going the wrong way - a group of runners led by Maiden Newton's own Phil England had taken a wrong turning and added about an extra mile to the route! How much mileage are we going to get out of that one! Richard had also managed a very impressive fall and had to succumb to the eager first aiders for attention.
We repaired to race HQ for refreshments and to check out the results - Martin picked up 2nd MV50 and thanks to Phil leading half the field astray, I was awarded 3rd FV40 although I did feel a bit of a fraud accepting it. As we had no non runners to nominate as photographer no action shots I'm afraid but I think we have managed to capture the flavour of the day.........................................................

Pre race preparations

Post race injuries, mud and refreshments...........................

Where did Phil go wrong? Lesley wins the chip eating contest! Undeserved prize

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rogues Gallery

As it's at least 5 minutes or so since I last created a post thought I'd have a bit of fun with a picture gallery. I apologise for most of them featuring Martin and I but our supply of photographic evidence that other Maiden Newton Runners do run is a bit thin on the ground. Hopefully we'll be able to remedy this in the next few months. Meanwhile here is a selection of deeply unflattering pictures - and yes Phil there is one of you!

Below: Midsummer Dream 2006. The theme (in case you're puzzled) "Pirates in Men's Pants."

Above: Midsummer Dream 2004. I know it's a photograph of a load of strangers for most of you (strange being the operative word) but it's just to demonstrate that all you need is some sunshine, a silly costume, lots of beer and some like minded (?equally daft?) companions and you can have a load of fun.

Any one up for the Grizzly? It's an experience rather than a race. (Note the runner from the previous year in the background who never made it out of the bog..........)

He'll kill me for this one! London 2004 with fat legs, silly expression and a deeply unflattering hat! Far removed from the lean mean running machine we see these days........

Not sure Phil will thank me either. What was he doing?! Again from London 2004.

Dave doing a creditable imitation of someone running up a hill! Parrett Trail relay 2006.

Drowned rats heading for the finishing line of Race the Train in August 2006. Where was the train, you may well ask? Way ahead of us that was for sure!

Lesley at the Stoke Stampede, Boxing Day 2005 - on her way to what was then (I think) a PB....but she has improved so much this year it'll be a walk in the park in 2006.

Hopefully we'll be adding to the Rogue's Gallery in the coming months, starting with some shots of Maiden Newton runners in action at the Colyton 10k next Sunday...

Update 19th November, by Martin (Lin told me to make it clear in case anybody thought that she had written any of the following rubbish).

Left: First picture of the elusive Dave C in his new disguise.

Right: Sprinting to finish the race in 41:54. That isn't his best at Colyton, but they have lengthened the course by about 300 metres since the last time.

Below: "Team Maiden Newton". The photo was taken at arm's length into the sun, I thought it came out better than expected, although the "team" members are still partly visible.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Present: Phil (chair), Dave, Dave, Dan (late, see below), Charles, Eric, Martin, Lin, John

Apologies: Guy ‘too much to do, you can cope’, Di (‘doing the Guide run‘, an event I forgot to mention under ’future events’ last month), Richard and Lesley (decorating)

Mysterious absence: Stanley (Wilfy believes Stanley and Guy may have eloped) or could Guy’s absence really be connected to the upcoming libel battle (see below)?

Although Dan attended, he arrived late and then interrupted the meeting to register his excitement about an obscure musician, unknown outside of the Cantrell household, who is apparently booked to play a gig at The Chalk.

Minutes are now being received by all members, though none of them are any the wiser

Herald - It seems that Guy’s latest offering in the parish organ, a series of pen portraits of club members, otherwise known as character assassinations, may have gone one step too far. Charles advised the meeting that he is instructing a solicitor in respect of the disparaging comments made by our Chair, something to do with a ‘pantomime dame’. Charles would not disclose the other phrases that have so wounded him, and sadly Wilfy had no copy of the Herald to hand, not wanting to be held liable for circulating inflammatory or defamatory material.

Whilst I was asking Wilf for a copy of the offensive samizdat, my notes were hijacked as follows: ‘Dave unwisely left the table and was immediately replaced by a proper secretary…’ Happily I soon regained control of the secretarial pen and the unreliability of these minutes was re-established.

NewTen - there will now be no t-shirts for the race helpers, as they cannot be retrieved form the psychiatric ward in Plymouth where they were sent by Runners Imp, in an understandable mix-up about the true nature of our happy band. When Phil questioned Runners Imp he got an earful about problems in the family. The loss of the t-shirts does provide an extra £58 for club funds, which was immediately earmarked for the fighting fund to combat the Le Vay libel case. The mention of money prompted the treasurer to get out his advanced financial gadgetry (the back of an envelope) to calculate the current balance - approx £352.

Past Events - readers of the club blog will already have marvelled at the efforts of our doughty team in the Parrett Trail relay. We took 45 minutes off last year’s time, and 27 minutes off last year’s winning time for the mixed category, but unfortunately everyone else got quicker too and we finished 3rd. It was a good day though, with a good finish at the Wynyard’s Gap. We are now eyeing up the Wessex Ridgeway relay next May. I shall now indulge in a spot of informal tabulation: (Ed's note: The Blog doesn't like informal tabulation so we've had to indulge in some formal untabulation (?) (Lin's note: Who the hell is Ed?)

Martin: Stagger 2.16.35; Stickler 1.17.27; Drogo 10 1.15.58; Street 5K 20.31
Lin: Stagger 2.31.23; Stickler 1.24.57; Drogo 10 1.20.55 ; Street 5K 20.31
Richard: Stagger 2.29.44; Stickler 1.22.31; Drogo 10 1.20.04; Dartmoor Vale Marathon 3.47.14
Lesley: Stickler 1.50.18; Drogo 10 1.46.29; Dartmoor Vale Marathon ret’d (knee)
Richard’s Dartmoor Vale time includes the now traditional delayed start, as he burst out of the toilets 2 minutes after the race began, like Superman out of a phone box.
Charles has done the Alton Downland Challenge, a multi-terrain 10K aimed at sapping the strength of the toughest Gurkha. Charles slipped from 1st to 2nd place in the Le Vay brothers annual grudge match.
Phil and Dave C did the Ilminster 10K, Phil in a PB of 40.35, Dave in 41.27.

Future Events - Colyton 10K on 19 Nov, Bicton Blister on 26th, Full Monty on 3 Dec, Street 5K on 13 Dec.

Drink Break - this month Lin and Martin had enough money for them each to have a drink, so the meeting was suspended whilst they recharged their glasses.

London - FLM have written asking for various pieces of information, which I have supplied. Charles, Lesley and Phil all entered the ballot, so are prime candidates for the club place. NB anyone interested in getting the club’s London entry should attend next month’s meeting, when it will be allocated.

Website - Much admiration for our new blogspot, and some surprise at the alacrity with which Martin turned this from an idea into reality - normally such things take months of aimless discussion before anything happens. More contributors would be good. Eric suggested a link to relevant sites for future events.

Christmas Dinner - no objections have been raised about the date, 20 Jan.

Pub Run - as all members will no doubt have seen on the club blog, Lin is suggesting a pub run from the Saxon Arms. We agreed a date and time of 7pm on weds 29 Nov, all welcome. The route is likely to involve 5 miles of running in the darkness, including a speedy section past a pack of aggressive dogs, and then the chance of a pub meal for those who return.

Correspondence - there has been an ample supply of material for Wilfy’s fire this month, including some glossy and vacuous publications from England Athletics. We have also had a letter explaining the new club affiliation charges, to help them pay for these pointless extravagances. If we have read their obscure and lifeless prose correctly, it seems that clubs will have to pay a flat rate of £50 + £5.00 per ‘competing athlete’. There was some discussion about the definition of a ‘competing athlete’ and a consensus that few of this species are to be found in Maiden Newton Runners. But if we have to pay for each club member, it will be expensive, and if only for those who enter races it could be divisive. Phil and Dave undertook to make more enquiries.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Castle Drogo 10

This was another hilly 10 miler, just like last week’s Stickler, but moved about 50 miles along the A30.
The other main difference was that it had the added benefit of parking at a National Trust beauty spot, rather than an industrial estate.

The race itself was at least as scenic, and just as well organised, by Richard's first claim club South West Road Runners.
Among the about 350 other runners in this popular race were MNRC members Lesley ( first because she was the only one running in MN colours), Richard, Lin and I. The start was half way down the main drive which formed the first quarter mile of the course, before it set off south into the less manicured parts of the castle grounds, and then down a steep path across the face of the Teign Gorge to the Teign itself.

We ran alongside the river for over a mile, and then it was time for the first major bit of up. My legs being well used over the past 2 weeks, I was forced into a walk, not for the last time. The course was mainly up and down through wooded slopes which were almost beautiful enough to distract from the increasing pain I was feeling.
After 8 miles there was my favourite part of the race, a dead-flat section back along the Teign towards Fingle Bridge. My feeling of well-being vanished the instant we turned off this the other side of the bridge up a steep path towards the finish at the Castle. I counted half a dozen people passing me along this stretch, but finally we reached the top and I was just able to pick up the pace enough to pass a couple of runners who I thought were of similar vintage to myself. Doubled over at the finish line, I wondered if it was worth it, especially since I recognised already finished, and well rested by now, the 50 something year old who had obviously won the single age-group prize this week. It turned out the bloke I had bust a gut to beat was only 42. But actually, in a race like this one, the main prize, and the only one really worth winning was available to everybody, the chance to run across some of the most scenic countryside in Devon on probably the brightest day of the autumn. It was well worth the 50 mile drive each way - we'll be back next year.
For the record, Our relative finishing positions in the race were the same as the Stickler, and the times very similar too, although Lin and Richard showed the most improvement. Martin 1:15:58, Richard 1:20:04, Lin 1:20:55, Lesley 1:46:29.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The end of British Summertime gave us a welcome extra hour before setting off for Shillingstone to do the Dorset Doddler’s very popular race, The Stickler, or Three Peaks Challenge. We would have been in plenty of time if Martin hadn’t decided half way there that he had brought the wrong shoes. Hasty U turn and frosty silence in car as we returned to collect his off road shoes (well you would take road shoes to do an off road run with stonking great muddy hills after it had been p****** with rain for about three weeks non stop, wouldn’t you? I just love the male logic at work). OK., OK, I should be fair. We weren’t half way there, but we had left Sydling – almost.

We hadn’t done this race beforehand as it has always previously clashed with the Exmoor Stagger, so we weren’t prepared for the complications which awaited us. Parking on an industrial estate, race HQ at the school, start half a mile down the road and finish at the old station. I was feeling tired before we reached the start line, thank goodness we had entered in advance. Did I mention that we had to go back to collect Martin’s shoes……………? Maiden Newton Running Club had a great turn out: Lesley. Plus three second claim members, myself, Martin and Richard. Where were Phil and Dave when the going got tough I’d like to know?

A lovely narrow start with much jostling – Martin “I’m really tired after the Stagger” Lascelles disappeared in a puff of smoke, never to be seen again. I ran about the first 200 yards with Richard but as soon as we started to climb the infamous Stickle Path (1 in 3!) he pulled away from me. My legs “you must be joking if I’m running up any more hills” just weren’t interested. I vaguely felt that I should be appreciating the wonderful countryside through which I was running, but the only thought in my head was that I wanted to stop, now, and was that really only the 2 mile marker I just passed? Surely I’ve been running for hours? This was partially explained later when I uploaded the information from my GPS onto the computer – according to it I had run in a straight line to Weymouth and back, a total of some 45 miles. Well no wonder I was tired! Not sure what happened there. I didn’t press any buttons (honestly Martin, I know you think I did) – only the one that has “Start” beside it.

This is a really well organised race – climbing Okeford Beacon, Hod and Hambledon Hills – nearly all off road, and if you are in the mood to appreciate them, taking in some wonderful views. I’m not sure that I would suggest doing it a week after the Stagger, but taken alone I’d recommend it to anyone and we will surely be back to do it next year if we can.

Martin finished in 37th place overall, an excellent time of 1.17.27, but still complaining bitterly that he had been too tired to sprint for the line (my heart bleeds!). Richard had an excellent run, especially considering that not only had he done the Stagger, but he also ran Dartmoor Vale Marathon the weekend before that – finishing in 1.22.31. I staggered over the line in 1.24.57, complaining bitterly that I didn’t even have the energy to complain bitterly about not being able to sprint at the end.. Lesley was nursing her dodgy knee back into action after injury at the Dartmoor Vale, and struggling with a cold, but still managed a fine effort to finish in 1.50.18.