Tuesday, July 23, 2013


by Dave Webb

In mid-May we entered 2 teams for the Wessex Ridgeway Relay. This is a 100km cross-country, self-navigating event that starts in Wiltshire at 7.30 on a Sunday morning.  We gave careful thought to which runners should do the 1st leg, before deciding that it should be Richard Blackmore and Phil England, on the grounds that they were absent from the meeting and therefore could not protest about the early start. Overall the day was a great success – our definition of success being that our runners found their way from the start to the finish. We ended the day just after 6pm at Uplyme, and could have finished slightly sooner had we not experienced some unexpected delays. Elite athletes don’t usually find themselves spending several minutes waiting for a woman to move 2 cows and their unco-operative calves, as Jackie and Alison did on Lancombe Lane. Then on leg 10 Neil Goode discovered that his pre-race meal was not agreeing with him, and had to spend some time behind a nearby bush. In fact, by the time Dave Butt and I crossed the finish line and headed for our free meal at The Talbot Inn, Neil was at home in bed feeling decidedly peculiar.

Now that the weather has finally improved we have been able to enjoy some beautiful club runs. On a Wednesday night in early June Martin and Lin led 7 of us on a scenic route from Shipton Gorge which sea views over Burton Bradstock before a steep climb to the top of Shipton Hill. If we’d had any breath left it would have been taken by the stunning panorama. The landscape of fields and hills, strip lynchets and hillforts could have been ancient, except for the electricity pylons and the noise from the A35. In fact this part of Dorset is known to be behind the times; in 1901 a bullock’s heart pierced with thorns and pins was found in a cottage chimney, being a traditional defence against witches. It makes Maiden Newton look positively modern.

The recent hot weather has prompted this month’s running question, which is what to wear when running in the heat. My advice is to wear a ‘technical’ running top, which is designed to ‘wick away’ the moisture (I told you we were modern in Maiden Newton). I am also a strong believer in something more traditional, namely a hat. This serves 2 purposes, in providing protection from the sun and in helping to obscure one’s red and toiling face. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, sas that it’s best not to run at all in the heat (he also believes that it’s best not to run in the cold, the wet, the dry or any other weather). If people do insist on running, he prefers it if they wear as little as possible.

Mr Knott-Bother should perhaps follow the old advice of being careful what he wishes for. On 7 July in Wales there is a race called the ‘Bare If You Dare 5K’. Runners are encouraged to wear only their shoes (and possibly a hat if they are sensible like me). The prospect of being a spectator at a race like this is positively alarming if the local runners look anything like their Dorset counterparts.

As well as running, we also organise some races, which are coming soon. At 7pm on the last Wednesdays of June, July and August we are holding a 5K race in Poundbury, from the new leisure centre. And on 10 August at 7pm we will be staging the annual Maiden NewTen Madness 10K race, from the Youth and Community Centre in Maiden Newton. Everyone is welcome to participate, however fast or slow, and a friendly atmosphere is guaranteed.

Monday, July 01, 2013


by Dave Webb

Last month I mentioned Shakespeare’s marathon advice: ‘Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast’. I’m delighted to report that Charlie Spencer kept these words in mind as she ran round the streets of London, taking an amazing 10 minutes off her previous best time. She finished strongly in 4 hours, 15 minutes, making a bid to be the fastest hairdresser in London as well as the west. Charlie has also asked me to thank everyone who sponsored her. She has now raised a fantastic £1,800 for the Fortuneswell Cancer Trust in Dorchester.
To run a marathon requires a lot of training, so this month’s running question asks how you can tell if you are training too hard. Research has shown that overtraining can lead to constant sniffles, restlessness, irritability, broken sleep and poor short-term memory. During the latter stages of long runs the brain’s glucose supplies dwindle, making it harder to do mental arithmetic calculations. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, says that he has studied these symptoms, which sound very familiar, especially the one about finding it hard to do simple sums, like adding up his lottery losses. He now realises that he has been overdoing it for years and should ease off on the physical exercise.
In mid-April one of our long-distance members, Richard Rider, ran in the Honiton Hippo, a watery cross-country race that is named after the hippos that used to inhabit these parts. Apparently they lived here for about 100,000 years, and their remains were discovered when the by-pass was built. Richard wrote an entertaining race report on the club blog, complete with a picture of him immersed in water which was happily free from hippopotami.
The club has entered 2 relay races in May, bravely embracing the complex challenge of running and carrying a baton at the same time. This may sound like a simple task but nothing is straightforward for Maiden Newton Runners. Last year our start runner at the North Dorset Marathon Relay left the baton in his car and only retrieved it in time for the last 2 runners. We have also entered 2 teams, Maiden Newton Chalk and Maiden Newton Cheese, for the Wessex Ridgeway Relay. This means we therefore face the complicated logistics of organising 6 pairs of runners to cover the 62 mile course from Tollard Royal to Uplyme. Some clubs take these events very seriously but we see it as a triumph if we succeed in getting the runners, and the batons, from the start to the finish.
Preparations continue for our summer series of 5K races in Poundbury. These events are open to all, and will take place at 7.30pm on the last Wednesday of each summer month, starting at the new Dorchester Leisure Centre. Dave Butt has persuaded Dorset Cereals to provide a box of products for each race, which means we can offer some tempting spot prizes, and Olives et Al have agreed to donate a meal for two. We need to decide whether this will go to the male winner or the female winner, or if we will follow my idea of making the 2 winners dine together. We also face a health and safety dilemma, because the course is marked by a number of sturdy wooden bollards which would do a runner quite a mischief in the event of a collision. Fortunately for us, Dave’s wife Jane has come up with an ingenious solution to this problem, in the form of hi-viz bollard sleeves which she has designed and made. In fact, Dave and Jane are showing such organisational skills that we should perhaps put them in charge of our relay teams.