Saturday, January 18, 2014



Our September meeting began with a surprise: we have been given 2 club flags, as thanks for our help with the Sydling Marathon. All we need now is a flagpole, and perhaps a rota so that members can take it in turns to fly the flag at home. We may also need to develop a club salute (taking care to avoid any gestures that could be misinterpreted), and to continue our search for a club anthem (my idea was ‘Keep On Running’, but Mr Les Knott-Bother suggested ‘Sit Down’).
We should perhaps have taken our flag to Sydling for their annual 5K Fun Run on 6th October. 12 of the 24 participants were Maiden Newton Runners or our relatives. Phil England and Dave Carnell came 1st and 2nd in the men’s race, Zoe Hayward, Charlie Spencer, Jackie Webb and Alice Moore filled the 1st 4 places in the women’s race, and a junior Webb, Matt, won the boys U17 category. By the end of the race it must have felt like our invasion was complete and we could have started flying our flag over their village hall. We also had a good go at polishing off their post-race cakes.
Next up is the Parrett Trail Relay. This takes the form of 6 legs, covering 53 miles, starting on the coast near Bridgwater and finishing at Winyards Gap. Each leg starts at a pre-determined time, before the previous leg has finished, which makes the transport arrangements almost unfeasibly complicated. All we need to do is to follow these simple instructions: “The Poes drive to end leg 3 and meet Neil, who picks up Frank and drives to the start of leg 3. The Webbs drive to the end of leg 3 and meet up with Liz and James. Jackie and Liz start running at 11.45, leaving me with the boys and we drive to the end of leg 4. Frank and Neil finish leg 3, collect the Poes’ car, drive back to get Neil's car, then Frank drives to the end of leg 4. Charlie drives Zoe to the end of leg 4. Frank stays with the boys till Jackie and Liz finish. I drive Charlie's car to the end of leg 5, where Phil and I start running at 1.20. Zoe and Charlie collect their car at the end of their leg. Then Phil and I run to the pub, you all drive to the pub, and if we've worked that lot out then we will all need a drink!” If we make it to the start of each leg, we must then navigate our way cross-country, which brings me to this month’s running question: should one check out a race’s route in advance? Sports psychologists suggest practising on the route so you can visualise yourself running strongly on the day. Our club view is that if you know where you’re going, there is less chance of getting lost and having to run further than necessary. My co-panellist Mr Les Knott-Bother surprised me with a literary quotation. Apparently the writer Jasper Fforde commented that “First, time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted. Second, almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon”. Mr Knott-Bother was dubious about the first proposition but wholeheartedly agreed with the second.
With the days drawing in, there is less daylight for our evening runs. Lin and Martin led a Wednesday night group through the dark fields around Frampton, which revealed the inadequacy of most people’s headtorches, particularly when it came to the tricky manoeuvre of trying to avoid cowpats in the dark. Lin made people feel better by providing home-made quiche and cakes afterwards, which were eaten in the bus shelter in the dark, by the feeble light from the runners’ headtorches, with the aroma of cow muck on their shoes drifting into the air of the night.


Last month I described the club’s invasion of Sydling St Nicholas for their annual fun run. Since then some of our members have ventured a little further afield. We sent 2 teams into deepest Somerset for the Parrett Trail relay and were relieved to see everyone return safely, with no one getting lost and everyone following my ‘simple’ transport instructions.
Pete James travelled up to Gateshead, where he planned to do the local 5K ‘Park Run’. Unfortunately he overslept, and missed the race, but he did get up in time to tackle the Premier Inn’s ‘All You Can Eat Breakfast’. Martin and Lin Lascelles went even further, flying across America to compete in the Long Beach Marathon. Despite the jet lag they both ran well, with Lin finishing second in the women’s race, attracting the attention of the local press. Some of you may not be regular readers of the Long Beach Sports Gazette, so will have missed her interview where she summarised the club spirit by announcing “I’m glad it’s over so now I can go and get a beer”. I regret to report, however, that Lin failed to mention the club name, so ‘Maiden Newton Runners’ did not appear in the American sports press. Not only this, but she and Martin also forgot to take the club flag, so were unable to plant it in the Californian sand; imagine if Neil Armstrong had unpacked his bag when he got to the moon and found that he had forgotten his American flag.
With Lin away, and Phil working up north, we had no one to chair our October meeting. Into the breach stepped Charlie, keen to show how a meeting should be run. She surprised us by starting with ‘Any Other Business’, perhaps keen to earn the title of ‘fastest chairperson in the west’, to go with ‘fastest hairdresser in the west’. Lin had asked her to get the meeting’s views on whether this year’s New Year’s Day run should take place on 1 January or 29 December. We explained that the New Year’s Day run needs to happen on New Year’s Day, otherwise it would need a different name.
The meeting then diverted into medical matters. Dave Butt mentioned that his son Nick is a trained sports therapist as well as a podiatrist – presumably he is the ideal man for treating Athlete’s Foot! Zoe has had trouble for years with a verruca. No treatment has worked so she decided instead to make it look nicer by painting it with nail varnish. She didn’t specify which colour she used, but after a week the verruca disappeared. She offered this advice freely to our medical members (2 GPs, a nurse and a vet), while Frank piped up on behalf of yoga. After 2 years he has had no injuries, is very bendy and exudes inner calm. Finally, this month’s running question asks how you can make yourself keep running when your body is telling you to stop. The accepted wisdom is that you need to develop mental strength so that you focus on the success of completing the race, rather than the discomfort you are feeling. A leading marathon runner, Ryan Hall, has been quoted as saying ‘Pain is temporary, pride is forever’. My co-panellist, Mr Les Knott-Bother, also quoted a well-known motivational speaker, Homer J Simpson, who famously advised his son Bart: “If at first you don’t succeed, give up”.