Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taunton 3K

Tuesday 28th October saw the Westgates at the inaugural 3K race on the Castle School floodlit track in Taunton. The event was put on by Ironbridge Runner following their success with the 3K series in Exeter. Racing conditions were good, warm for the time of year with not too much breeze. With a youngster’s one-mile race, followed by three seeded groups the evening went smoothly. Unfortunately some of the runners didn’t go quite so smoothly; still lacking match-fitness I recorded a personal worst at 12:09 but was reasonably happy and at least I didn’t finish last in my group. Lesley recorded 13.33 (PB) and neither did she finish last in her group, in fact she finished second. Also present were the three running members of the Lascelles clan................

Lin said:

Martin, Alex and I made the very long trip for a very short race, about 2 and a quarter hours of driving for a combined time of about 35 minutes of running.  Alex went in the first race and finished 3rd in about the expected time.  I was stitched up and found myself in group A as most of the people in group B lied about their expected finish times.  Both Martin and I based our times on recent 5k times and actually ran slower 3ks than we normally run through the 3k mark of a 5k.  This resulted in me finishing in a humiliating last place, just in case anyone is in any doubt as to who Richard is having a dig at!  Martin recorded 10.44 and I crossed the line in 11.50 although Taunton AC have kindly changed this to 12.23 in the results just to make me feel even worse about the evening.
I know maths isn't my strong point but I'm still trying to work out how 12.09 is more of a PW than the 12.24 Richard ran in the 3rd round of the Exeter series..... perhaps the same people were recording the times that night...........................

Friday, October 23, 2009

Parrett Trail 2009

Saturday the 17th October saw 12 MNR scattering all over Somerset, all planing to end up back over the border into Dorset by mid afternoon having completed their leg of this great event. As with the last 4 years the weather was fine and dry (once it got light for those going to the start of leg one).

I have waited all week for the reports on the various legs as you will see below there are still a few missing. But if I don't get something out before are Web masters get back from Holiday they will think we can't cope with out them.

Dan & Mike volunteered for the first leg (did I say volunteered) any way feeling guilty we had not managed to reece this leg I first took them to where they should end up and then took them on to the start. but we have to put aside all the unkind comments about their directional skills as they both made it to the finish in good time (with a little bit of help from the lamp) please see comments below.

Mike and I had a great run (Stage 1) - greatly aided by a mysterious genie that magically appeared just before sections that were difficult to navigate and ran along side us (to the bemusement of other teams) before vanishing off to pick up / drop off other runners. Much better than Sat-nav! Mike saved me from crashing into a bench whilst trying to simultaneously map-read and run - needn't have bothered, as you appeared out of nowhere to guide us past the tricky bit anyway. Best bit of the run...sprinting past the guy in front just a foot before the finish line - I proffered my hand to him after the race, but he didn't shake it...he was probably as pissed off as Jackie and Amanda when it happened to them! Have they stopped whinging yet? Lessons learnt:Always sprint at the end just in case someone's sneaky.I can't multitask, so should not even try to read a map whilst running.

Leg 2 was the turn of Di & Eric (a veteran of this leg who did not need to recce it!!!!)

Hi folks,after spectacularly ballsing up the Parrett trail relay, just had to work out where my navigation skills got up and "left the building". So with the help of Google Maps, I have attached a pic showing where we went (in pink) compared to where we didn't (in green)!!

(Well, nearly!)
But before we start let me provide a little background info:
This was my first official race since my foray into permanent contraception.
The training had gone really well - my last 10k run prior to the relay was 1hr 05secs - yay!
I thought I had a pretty good memory!!!

Race day started with a big bowl of porridge and a can of Red Bull. A great start. That eased the slight panic of not having my race number yet. I wondered into Maiden Newton for 7.30am to be picked up by Di who was also panicking as she had left my mobile number at home and wasn’t sure what I looked like!! I quickly nipped into the newsagents only to purchase a box of safety pins - to further alleviate my panic at not having my race number. Safety pins in hand, I see Di and we are off in a much much more laid-back and casual fashion than I was when Dan & I had our own separate pre-race race to our respective start lines!!!

With plenty time to spare, there was no-one at the start line. Had we gone to the wrong place. It looked right from what I remembered. (A phrase that was sure to haunt me later on in the day!) I started to stretch clutching my safety pins in the hope of Phil turning up with my race number. A car pulled up - an old bloke got out with a clipboard - a marshal! I asking him about not having a race number and he said it was alright, just make sure I see him at the finish line. (Yeah, I know, in retrospect, that was the worst thing he could have said!) Then Phil turned up with race number in hand - I felt like a proper runner now!!!

And off we went to the start line. I spotted Flora from Yeovil runners and said to Di to keep her in view as she knows the way. As I said that, in my heart I knew I should have trained more. Then we were finally off, down the canal curving its way out of Bridgewater. The weather was bright with a slight breeze and the legs and lungs felt good. In the car Di had reassured me that she wasn’t that fast anymore. Once we had settled into a good pace, I did wonder if was being hustled by Di and that she was cruising while I was on the edge of my limit. However, Di was an excellent running companion and once I had warmed up, the ability to chat while running came back to me!! Everything looked good, Flora was still in view and everything looked just as I had remembered it. We crossed over the canal at the right point straight into the lens of a photographer crouched at the end of the bridge. Both of us overshot the path - too busy trying to look good for the camera!

At this point all was well. The pace was excellent, the weather was perfect and Flora was just in view. Everything looked just as I remembered it! But after the next mile, there was no Flora or any runner of any kind. Even the dog walkers and other members of the public began to take on an ominous air. Two old men walking side by side didn’t budge off the path when we approached them; a dog walker with a couple of brutes for dogs didn’t care that his hounds were worrying us runners! AND everything was not as I had remembered it. The path looked fine but the scenery looked different. As a runner I do rend to zone out and not notice much, so on and off there would be parts that I didn’t remember quickly followed by parts that I did! Maybe my iPod could have helped me: which song was the left turn from the canal to the river????

The canal went on and on and on and on. Di kept asking me if this was right - I kept saying ‘I think so!’ Then we came to a lock which I just did not recognise!! We turned off the canal into totally unknown territory. We approached a small village - I could sense horses champing and snorting in derision; I could feel the tumbleweed rolling passed behind us. If I had gun in holster I would have reached for it because we had entered Bandit Land.

However, the locals were extremely helpful and kind of pointed us in the right direction - well, that’s not strictly true as after pursuing this new course we bumped into another pair of runners who were just as staggered as we were when we discovered that we were all running Leg 2!!!! I’m just going to revert to text-speak here: OMG WTF!!!!!!!! (Google that if you are still unsure!)

We backtracked slightly and Di said it was 1 hr 30 - we knew we would have made a good time had we stayed on the right path!! Gutted! After further directions from a kind local, we ended up on the main road to Barrow bridge - 3 miles out!!! My heart sank. But not for long! Going by our pace and the time, I felt that we had perhaps broken the 10 mile barrier - which for me was a major breakthrough!! (Subsequent research reckons 11 miles!) A kind Yeovil runner picked us up in his people carrier and off we went to the finish line where we met up with Mike and Dan.

Di was a superb running partner, great company, and an inspiration to run with. She even tried to shoulder the blame for going wrong on the canal! I hope she’ll run Leg 2 with me again next year!

The moral of the story: never trust your memory - recce the run!!!!!

The journey home seemed just as surreal but this involved Mike’s SatNav, but that’s another story….


Legs 3 & 4 are over to The Webb family:-

Parrett Trail – Leg 3

Leg 3 is a curious leg, in that if you ran directly from the start to the finish it would only total about 3 miles. The organisers contrived to make it 8.6 miles by inserting a long diversion to take in the Somerset Willows and Wetlands Centre. These topographical features encouraged Dave C to take an inventive approach to parking the car, in an unmarked car park halfway between the start and finish, meaning a 2-mile jog down to the start at Burrow Mump. Waiting in the Mump car park, Dave embarked on a rather ambitious campaign to psyche out the Crewkerne speedster, Clive Harwood. After a few well-placed jibes about how quick we were and how much the course suited Dave, it was clear that Clive was completely unperturbed and Dave had to nip behind the hedge to relieve his nerves.

The way Legs 2 and 3 work is that the runners on Leg 2 finish (unless they are Eric and Di) by running down the Mump into the car park, while the Leg 3 runners start by running straight back up. As we lined up to start, the winner of Leg 2 appeared and hurtled down the hill towards us, earning a warm round of applause. He was followed by a blue-vested runner looking decidedly unwell, clutching a hand to his mouth and desperately trying to avoid vomiting all over us Leg 3 runners.

The words ‘Burrow’ and ‘Mump’ both mean ‘hill’ and that’s what we ran up and down. Thereafter the route is mainly flat, and includes a nice stretch along the river Tone, passing a small stone monument marking the spot where King Alfred burnt the cakes. Back in the winter of 878 the Parrett Trail had not been marked out; instead the area was mainly marshland, and provided Alfred with a good hiding place to spend the winter before emerging to defeat the Danes in the spring. No doubt he had tried unsettling them first with some crafty comments about how fast he was and how much the terrain suited him.

On our recce run we had found the route blocked by a field of maize surrounded by nettles. Luckily the maize had been cut by race day, so we missed out on a sweetcorn snack but were able to get across the field unstung. At that point we lost sight of the runners in front, including speedy Clive, and thereafter we found ourselves unable to see the runners in front or behind. Occasionally I wondered if the lack of other runners was because we were lost, but Dave was confident we were on the right track, and eventually we turned on to the path alongside the river. Dave finished more strongly than me, and even managed an impressive sprint for the finish, while I was happy to cross the line and collect my goody bag.

Parrett Trail – report from leg 4

Having checked out our route beforehand (I’m not getting at you Eric!) one of my main concerns was the bovine situation. As those of you who have been on club runs with me will know, there is nothing like a field of frisky Friesians to quicken the pace of this runner. When we’d been abandoned at the start of our leg for the dry run, within a minute we saw a huge bull in the first field, which had us scurrying off the set route and ready to jump in the river if necessary. The bull stayed where it was, but later situations with cows on the path had me being unnecessarily affectionate with Amanda.

Running conditions on the day could not have been much better; dry and sunny, but not as hot as last year. This leg is pretty much flat, but has hundreds of gates and metal bars to hop over. We started out at a good, steady pace and were able to maintain it all the way, which in retrospect, I’m very pleased with, but find that I still have trouble managing my nerves, so my legs felt wobbly for the first three miles and the last one. Poor Amanda tried her best to keep me positive, but there was another runner breathing down our necks for about five miles, which added to my inner turmoil. As it was her tactics paid off and she sprinted past us right at the finish. Of course I saluted her in a good sportsman like way, using two fingers, which I hope hasn’t brought the club into disrepute.

A quick picnic en famille before we headed up to Wynyard’s Gap to watch Phil and Richard finish their leg. Unfortunately I missed them crossing the finish as I was in the loo with Alfie. Jackie England was on hand as ever for the photo call. Over all we were a bit quicker than last year, largely thanks to Di and Eric’s tactic of running a half marathon and getting picked up in a minibus and it felt like a really good team event.

Leg 5 Charlie S and Andy

Unfortunately we all know what Charlie's IT skills are like so we have no report other than they completed it well under the cut off time and a lot quicker than when they had me with them the week before.

Leg six (the glory leg)

Having run leg 1 for the last 3 years (yes and got it wrong two of the three times). I was quite concerned about messing up on this, especially as Richard who had drawn the short straw to run with me had not had time to recce the route.
I did get a guided run of the leg by Lin & Martin two weeks earlier (only because it finishes at the Pub) but on past experience that was no guarantee we would find our way on the day.
After a quick warning about crossing the A30 and the railway line we were off, the front runners were soon off out of sight and we found ourselves running with Mr Yeovil RRC (Martin Chaffey). But Richard's pace soon became too much for Martin or did he drop back just to get away from my talking.
To my surprises I had remembered quite a lot of the route, it has to be said the signage is good on this leg. Slight concern approaching North Perrett trying to decide which one of the three bridges to take, but the sight of the short sharp hill in front confirmed we had picked the right one. On to the village and the first sight of our support team, outside the pub with out a drink (see what happens when Lin & Martin go away). Short road section followed by some fields full of Sh** from the four legged animals Jackie W loves so much and then over the railway line, to the second sighting of our support crew. This time accompanied by Sue & Fred from YTRRC who were manning a much appreciated drink station.
Richard had been counting off the miles or K for most of the run up until this point, but had now gone quiet. Being I can never stop talking, I asked if he was OK and was told he was concentrating as he was now past the distance of his longest run. Was that a polite way of telling me to shut up? Either way I decide this was not the time to point out the first glimpse of the Winyards Gap pub way up on the top of the hill a head.

Not wanting to distract Richard’s concentration, I must have stayed quite for at least half a mile before restarting my explanation of what was left before the finish. Unfortunately that was a short section up a flooded lane followed by the long climb to Winyards Gap. We soon made it to the top (with no walking) and on to the flat 300m road section to the finish. 12 MNR had covered 53 miles (well perhaps a few more) over two counties to complete our fifth Parrett Trail.

For any one that is the slightest bit interested with finished in 6hrs 55mins more than 10mins quicker than last year putting us 19/20 out of 27 teams (if you count the team which did not show up on the day).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Muddle and Stagger

Sunday 11th October saw the Westgates at the Mendip Muddle although only half of us would run as I had to DNS through illness. Driving up through the gorge headlights were de rigueur as low mist obscured the hill tops. As the rain increased I was not too unhappy about not running but, by Christ, it can be deadly frustrating being a runner at an event and not running. With my nose stuck in a book in the warm car I presume Lesley got off to a safe start so over to her:

Yes, off to a safe start, the rain didn’t start straight away, but it was still quite slippery underfoot, and after recovering from NFM my aim was just to get round in one piece. As we increased height we ran into mist and rain, bogs and puddles underfoot, a rapidly disappearing path and I couldn’t see a thing. I let the runner behind me go past hoping to follow a bright vest, and it was the smallest person in skimpy black running gear. Was glad to get that section out of the way, although we encountered something similar on the way back. I had carefully avoided looking at last year’s results so was pleased to find that in spite of my leisurely approach I has actually finished a minute quicker. And still in good shape, so all I needed was a few training miles and I would be fit for the Stagger the following week. Back to Richard:

Sunday 18th October saw the Westgates at Minehead for one of our favourite events the Exmoor Stagger. At the last moment Lesley had to switch to the Stumble as a precautionary measure having fallen over in the garage on Saturday. Once again the weather played a major role, it was perfect. Even on the exposed Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, I felt comfortably warm. Previous years have seen torrential rain and howling gales. Coming back from injury and illness I really didn’t know what to expect. Near the start I spotted Eleanor Wood, a very good runner, but someone that on my day I should be able to beat – at the Seaview she left me for dead. Anyway I used her as a sort of pacemaker/target, and then slowly went past her after about 26 minutes. Running conditions really were perfect and this year I managed to run, albeit slowly, all the way up the climbing section to the top of Dunkery Beacon, and had plenty of energy to “enjoy” the downhills on the second half. As usual the climb after Wootton Courtenay was particularly energy sapping but I soon got going at the top. Didn’t look behind in case others were chasing me down, just ran my own race. Started to become very tired on the last mile and 5 or 6 men passed me. Felt good crossing the finish in 2:32:47, one of my better times, and the aforementioned Eleanor Wood came in a matter of seconds behind! I must say Minehead put on some of the best refreshments on the race circuit and I soon tucked into a large slab of walnut cake – no sickness today!!!! Over to Lesley again:

I was not a happy bunny!! Saturday morning, feeling fit and well I walked into the garage, bucket of washing in hand and promptly fell over a piece of wood, landing heavily on my right hand and right knee. It was quite painful and I took some time and effort just getting back on my feet, and there was plenty of abuse about the state of the floor. Luckily nothing appeared to be broken. Spent the rest of the day with my arm in a sling unable to do the simplest of jobs until I decided a hot bath might help, which it did. So Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, the first time for years there have been good conditions for the Stagger. I couldn’t bear to do nothing so decided a slow trot round the Stumble might make me feel better. Well, runners do seem to have a competitive edge, and I thought I’m not likely to fall on the nice tarmac first half mile, so decided I might as well try and get going. Rest of the race went well, although was cautious on the downhill rocky bits. Coming up to the last section I heard footsteps behind me and that competitive bit kicked in again. As soon as I got to the tarmac I started to leg it to the finish, and the person behind stopped trying to overtake. Finished in 1:06 (some 4 minutes faster than in 2005) and was pleased to find they were giving prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in all categories, so got a 2nd place trophy to add to the windowsill.