Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quarterly Update

If like the Sydling contingent of Maiden Newton Runners you find yourself living in a cultural black spot, or in other words you don't have access to the Herald or the Chimes, here are the last three entertaining View From The Back of the Pack articles penned by Dave Webb.


The main event in August was the 6th running of the Maiden NewTen Madness, a 10K race which we organise each year. Phil England, the race director, does all the hard work, leaving the rest of us to hand out some flyers and then turn up on the night to marshal. I was stationed under the old railway bridge this year, trying to slow the runners down before they did themselves a mischief on the uneven ground. Some of the 111 runners sped past undeterred, but others were glad of a chance to ease up for a few yards. The winner, Paul Rose from Yeovil, finished in an impressive 39.17. Overall it was another successful race, which should enable us to donate money to a local cause.

Occasionally we hold our monthly meeting away from the Chalk and Cheese. We have also been to Cattistock, and in July we were at the Royal Oak in Cerne. Wherever we go, we always seem to encounter Di Tucker from Sydling, and sure enough there she was at the Royal Oak, reminding us once again of the Sydling Fun Run on 18 September. At the meeting we heard that Lin’s run of victories was interrupted at the Maiden Castle Loop by a youngster (everyone under 40 is a youngster for Maiden Newton Runners) who had not previously been seen at local races. Victory returned to the Lascelles household a few weeks later, when Martin won the Durberville Dash, taking advantage of the 2 race leaders getting lost. This race could be re-named as the Maiden Newton Sandwich, because, for possibly the first time, we provided both the 1st and last placed finisher, with Mike Ashworth having to walk much of the course after getting injured.

Giving this column a more international flavour, I can report on a trip to Normandy. I set off for a Sunday morning run, sticking to local roads since the French seem less keen on footpaths. I soon found myself engulfed in an endless stream of lycra-clad cyclists, which went on for more than a mile, and about 100 cyclists. I soon tired of shouting ‘bonjour’ and settled for a feeble wave instead. I’m pleased to report that we will be sending our own club member to take on the French on their bicycles, with Charlie Bladon attempting the 1000K Paris-Brest race, which must be completed within 90 hours and involves falling asleep at the roadside, and hallucinating through sleeplessness as you make your way through cheering crowds.

My French trip also supplied me with this month’s running question, when a ferocious farm-dog rushed at me. What is the best way to deal with aggressive dogs? I think the answer is to slow down, and maybe even stop, though this is difficult when the temptation is to run. Dog-owners often insist that their dog is friendly, which is reassuring up to a point, but you never know how an animal will react; what is most reassuring is to see that the dog is on a lead and under control. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, has a more simple solution, involving the use of a big stick.

Last month I reported that Martin had removed his socks for a 5K race and equalled his personal best. This month he set a new personal best, of an amazing 17.37 minutes for the 3.1 miles, though he has not disclosed what clothing he sacrificed in the name of speed.

Back in France, we were out for a walk one day to admire the waterfalls of Mortain. Making our way through the woods, a familiar figure came towards us, and there was Di Tucker, with a reminder of the Sydling Fun Run.


Last month’s running question was about what clothes should be worn when running. Little did I know that a fellow Maiden Newton Runner, Martin, was grappling with the same issue. He weighed his socks, and decided that their 61 grams was too much extra weight. So he did the Yeovilton 5K with no socks on and equalled his personal best of 17.42. Next month he plans to see how fast he can go with no pants.

This month’s question is about the right footwear for running. There are in fact 3 main types of running shoe (‘stability’, ‘motion control’ and ‘cushioning’) to match the 3 main types of footfall, ie landing flat on your foot, rolling inwards, or rolling outwards. You can tell the best type of shoe for you by stepping from the bath onto a piece of cardboard, and then examining your footprint. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, has no truck with such sophistication. He says that all you need is a pair of carpet slippers from Shoe Zone for indoors, and a pair of wellies for outdoors.

At this point I’ll just slip in a quick reminder of the club’s 10K race at 7pm on Saturday 13 August, the Maiden NewTen Madness. You can enter in advance, or on the night, or you could choose to spectate, and see some Maiden Newton Runners in their usual slow motion splendour.

Recent races have included Dorset’s only registered fell race, the Charmouth Challenge. The route includes the ascent of both Stonebarrow and Golden Cap, as well as a number of other ups and downs, before runners hurtle, or stagger, down the coastal path back to Charmouth. For the 2nd consecutive year Lin Lascelles was the first female finisher. In fact Lin has won her last 4 races, which is not at all the way that Maiden Newton Runners normally behave. Her next race will be the Maiden Castle Loop, which she also won last year. This race has become a firm fixture in the local racing calendar. The perimeter of the castle makes a good running track, though I don’t think this was its original purpose...unless the hillfort is in fact an ancient Olympic stadium. It certainly would have been handy for the sailing at Weymouth and Portland, and I imagine they would have come up with a better ticketing system than the online fiasco perpetrated by London 2012.

Sticking with the ancient history theme, I’ll end with a thought about evolution. Before the London Marathon there was some media discussion about the human marathon runner’s powers of endurance. Many creatures can outsprint a human but no other land mammal, it is argued, has the combination of stamina and speed of the long-distance runner. As such, the human runner stands at the very pinnacle of evolution. How Maiden Newton Runners fit into this picture is uncertain, but you can test the truth of this proposition by joining us at our Tuesday evening pub runs (details on the website or from any club member) or at our meeting on the 2nd Thursday of every month.


Not many people loiter outside The Chalk and Cheese at 6.15 on a Sunday morning, but this is where Richard Rider and I were to be found the other week. We were waiting for Phil to take us to the start of the Wessex Ridgeway Relay. Before we even got in the car, Richard had announced that he had hardly slept all night, and would not be doing this again. An hour later, we arrived at Tollard Royal, along with 22 other runners and several minibus loads of their team-mates, and at 7.30 we were underway. Richard and I settled into a comfortable pace, catching up with one group when they got lost, and overtaking another runner who had felt the need to squat in the undergrowth.

The race route is broken into 12 legs, totalling 66 miles of beautiful but hilly countryside, finishing at Up Lyme. As well as having to run a long way, competitors also need to navigate the route, and to organise their transport. The practical arrangements can be more taxing than the actual running. This year we probably spent longer in planning the teams and the transport than the 11 hours it took us to complete the course. Teams can have up to 6 members. We managed to assemble 2 teams this year, Maiden Newton Chalk and Maiden Newton Cheese, pairing runners of similar speed, so that our 2 teams ran together. Richard and I handed the batons over to Martin and Lin at Okeford Beacon, then Jackie and Andy took over at Alton Pancras, running about 11 miles to Breakheart Hill, where the route crosses the A37.

More observant readers may have noticed that the Wessex Ridgeway route passes through Maiden Newton, so that runners on leg 7 came through the village, accompanied by their entourage of team-mates and followers. It’s not exactly like having the Tour de France come through the village, though I’m sure we could cope if the French should call on us. At about 6.45pm our last pair of runners, Dave Butt and Richard Westgate, arrived at Up Lyme and were able to enjoy the free bangers and mash for all competitors.

This month’s running question is ‘What should I wear?’ Although running is basically a very simple activity, the choice of kit can get complicated, with a growing market for ‘technical t-shirts’, ‘base layers’, running socks and so on. Running gear is often made of a fabric that is specially designed ‘to wick away moisture’; in English, this translates as meaning it does not get sodden with your sweat after about 10 minutes. Personally I like to keep it simple, and wear a t-shirt and shorts in almost all weathers, though I might add an extra layer and a pair of gloves if the temperature falls below zero. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, is less active, and has asked me to sing the praises of the all-in-one Snuggie Blanket, which includes sleeves, comes in a choice of colours and can be matched with a dog Snuggie for your pet. He claims that the Snuggie helps avoid the sensitive issue of chafing. I’m not convinced that it will catch on as the latest craze in running gear but it might help for the post-run warm-down.

I must end with some 10K news. Amanda, Charlie and Andy all posted good times at the Egdon Easy 10K in Weymouth, covering the 6.2 miles in about 50 minutes. 10K is a good distance for setting a challenge that is both demanding and achievable. If any reader is tempted to try, then the best option is the Maiden NewTen Madness on Sat 13 August. The route goes out through Chilfrome and Cattistock then returns along Wraxall Lane and the river bank, so is a good mixture of road and tracks, in a very friendly and supportive atmosphere. Contact me (Dave Webb) or any of the club members for an entry form, or let us know if you might be able to help on the day.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Oxley Triathlon

Lesley sent me the following e-mail report of the above event:

After Charlie’s blog I’m not sure anyone will want to read my humble witterings. But I thought I'd let you know how it went on Sunday. We were up at 5.30am to get there in time, which we just did, other people were arriving at the same time for the 9am start (mine was 8am). In a typical Lesley moment I realised I didn't have my timing chip on at 7.58am and was in a mad panic to get back to locker having retrieved the key from RW to get it. So the start of the swim went really badly and I couldn't breathe for the first 6 or 8 lengths. I did lose count so was pleasantly surprised at what I thought was 12 lengths to be told there were only 2 to go. Next a run across grass and tarmac being heckled by Phil to the transition area. Being so slow my bike was at the far end, and I had to get into the cycle shoes as well. The bike ride went fairly well, the new one is much quicker than the old one even though it's the same old legs pushing it!!! So two loops round the roads and lanes near Sherborne, managed to avoid any red traffic lights and found the right directions at the route split (which some failed to do apparently). Then continued through the town back to the transition area. Which is where things went a bit wrong. The sight of RW taking photos should have warned me that I was nearly there and it was time to detach my shoes from the pedals, but I got confused. Easily done as you get older !!! So as I approached the dismount line I was trying to undo the fastenings on the shoes. Marshalls are calling out to me to brake, which I eventually did, came to a stop with feet still firmly clipped in with the inevitable result - a sideways fall to the ground, the impact did finally detach my feet from the pedals. As usual after a fall my reaction is to get up as quickly as possible hoping not too many had seen, unfortunately Phil was there wishing he'd got his camera!!

So a change of shoes, onto the run and here I did OK. Started on grass, down a lane onto the road, round to the road by the castle entrance, watching all the really fast althletes on their bikes. It's a fairly flat route and I overtook a couple of runners on the way, then back into the fields and and a marshall said I was 2nd lady and 15th person past him. (Being a handicap type of race this doesn't really mean much). I followed the lines of tape up towards the finish and here I saw RW again letting me know the other lady was not far ahead and was going slowly. Managed to get past her with about 200m to go, so was 1st lady across the line. A small triumph which didn't count for anything. My watch which I remembered to start and stop said 1:58:35 so i went round happily telling everyone I'd gone under 2 hours. I later found out the chip time said 2:00:51. Not sure why the discrepancy.

One good thing about triathlons is that my legs feel OK after. A 2 hour running race and muscles would be aching badly next day. But I was able to go and dig the allotment for two hours, followed by an hour in the garden (working - that is!!). However the other Westgate was tired out by all the supporting and took to his bed for the afternoon!!!