Sunday, August 24, 2008

Race The Train

Saturday 16th August saw the Westgates at Tywyn in Wales for the Race The Train event. In the morning there were the Quarry (10K), Dolgoch (5mile) and Tyllwynhen (3mile) challenges, and at 2pm the 14 mile Rotary Challenge.

We took a four day break so we could enjoy the wonderful Welsh countryside before and after. It seemed our trip might be jinxed when we pulled into the drive of our first B&B, a place we had stayed at 2 years ago. A strange face greeted us at the door and we found the owners had sold up and moved to Swansea more than a year ago! Lesley had made a booking on the net but where had it gone? Fortunately we managed to find another B&B at short notice.

On to Aberdovey near Tywyn for the second B&B. Before we left Somerset we realised that of two B&Bs in Aberdovey that we had contacted we couldn’t remember which we had booked with, so we phoned one and were told yes they had our booking. We arrived, started unpacking, and the landlady realised we were not booked there after all, seems her husband had heard the letter “G” or “gate” in our name and confused us with someone else. Eventually we got to the right place a mile up the road! It’s a good job that Race the Train is a bit more organised than us, although the printers did put “24th” on the running numbers on their 25th celebration year, and road diversion instructions led us into a small cul-de-sac.

This year the Race HQ, Marquee etc had been moved on to the school grounds in the town centre. We found a good parking place 30 seconds from the female showers and one minute from the finish. Weather was perfect – not too warm with a fresh breeze. Having been injured and missed training I was a bit worried about this 14 mile mainly off-road race. At about 2pm the steam train blew its whistle and set off. This was the signal for us to push forward and onto the timing mats. The target for some is some is to get back to Tywyn before the train, which is packed with cheering supporters. The target for others is to enjoy the race and take in the countryside. Although this race does have some hillwork and a really good boggy bit it is nowhere near as tough as the Stagger. Parts of the race are fairly level following the contours and I set off at a very easy 7.5 min/mile pace for the first two miles. This year the ploughed field wasn’t ploughed and the sun came out for a while. Ahead it looked black and we had rain for about 30 minutes. Even though it has been very wet this year the running conditions were good. I carried on at more or less conversation pace to about 7 miles and then upped the pace a little. The boggy bit nearly sucked off one of my shoes, and the cambered tracks caused a bit of pain. Parts of the return section had a good tail wind. On the last mile I felt quite good and went past 5 runners. I finished in 1:56:39, a few minutes faster than 2006, but this year’s course was a bit shorter. 201 runners bettered the 1:48 time to beat the train. Considering the size of the event in a small community the organisation was 1st class; drinks stations were frequent with a choice of drinks.

In the evening we returned to the marquee for drinks and the presentations. Maybe we don’t get out enough, so we were surprised at the noise and rowdy nature of people enjoying themselves. The winner’s time was 1:18:15 – his fourth consecutive title. One man has done all 25 “Race the Trains” but failed to turn up for his special memento! On Sunday Lesley took us on a forced route march to the actual source of the River Severn. It was sunny and warm and Wales was the place to be.

Lin and Martin might be interested in the Severn Way, the longest riverside walk in Britain at 210 miles, or perhaps the adjoining Wye Valley Walk at 136 miles.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Maiden Newten Madness

Great support from Yeovil Town RRC and Egdon Heath Harriers - including 1st man home - Paul Rose and 1st lady - Steph Slade

Club Chairman and Race Director, Phil England presents race winner Paul Rose with his trophy, lardy cake and cucumber! Jacky England (centre) still smiling after taking all the entries

The fourth running of the Madness took place in appalling weather conditions and congratulations are certainly deserved by all of the 117 brave runners who completed the course in a torrential downpour. As one Yeovil Town runner, sidelined through injury remarked "It's the first time I've ever been glad I can't do the race"!

Despite the rain, mud and slightly longer course, Paul Rose of Yeovil Town Road Running Club "stormed" (excuse the pun) home in first place just ahead of Royal Manor of Portland's Mark Pittaway. Steve Masters of Wells City Harriers was hot on their heels to take third place, meaning that, unusually, the winning trio were all veterans.

It was obviously a night where experience rather than youth counted as Clive Harwood from Crewkerne Running Club took the first vet 50 prize, finishing in an excellent 6th place overall - and I'm sure Clive won't mind me mentioning that he's closer to being a vet 60 than a vet 50!

In the ladies race however, the youngsters ruled supreme with Steph Slade from Egdon Heath Harriers retaining her title from last year and managing to beat all but 8 of her male rivals to finish in 9th place overall. Second and third places went to junior runners, Lucy Tweed and Emily Martin, both from Bridport Runners.

On a night when conditions really could not have been any worse, an even bigger thank you than usual must be said for all the marshals, time keepers and other helpers who braved the rain to make the evening a success. As usual, the race would not have gone ahead without the energy and input of Phil England, Club Chairman, and his long suffering family, all of whom get roped in to complete various tasks.

And I would like to give a personal vote of thanks to whoever made the coffee and walnut cake - it was excellent and gave me the strength to complete the arduous task of typing in the results!

Full results have been sent to Runnerswebuk and should be on their website shortly, but here are the prize winners:-

1st Paul Rose 39.21 YTRRC

1st V40 Mark Pittaway 39.32 RMOP (2nd overall)
2nd V40 Steve Masters 40.35 Wells City Harriers (3rd overall)

1st Senior Joe Allen 42.13 Bridport Runners (4th overall)
2nd Senior Mark Caldecourt Hamworthy Harriers (5th overall)

1st V50 Clive Harwood 43.16 Crewkerne Running Club (6th overall)
2nd V50 Nigel Johns 44.16 RMOP (11th overall)

1st Lady Steph Slade 43.31 Egdon Heath Harriers (9th overall)
2nd Lady Lucy Tweed 49.55 Bridport Runners
3rd Lady Emily Martin 50.04 Bridport Runners

1st V40 Jane Mills 52.52 YTRRC
2nd V40 Julianne Jenkinson 53.11 Egdon Heath Harriers

1st V50 Frances Anderson 52.38 Egdon Heath Harriers
2nd V50 Joyce Rendell 53.10 Axe Valley Runners