Friday
Apr252014

Forest of Dean Spring Half Marathon

Beady eyed and tired I wondered how I was going to get through this race after the night before.  But I knew I would. The Forest of Dean half marathon is a  popular off-road spring half marathon.  Apart from the first mile it winds its way through forest tracks, footpaths and old railway track.  (There use to be a lot of mines in the forest)

 As the organisers do not send out numbers it has to be collected on the day, which means queuing.  Queuing seems to be the order of the day as the number of toilets seems to decrease this year. The organisers have stipulated three basic rules: no dogs, no pushchairs and the most controversial no headphones ( it’s against UK athletics rules)  But despite my best efforts there was no way the runner in front was going to ditch them.  I never understood this latest craze!

 After the first mile I found myself on forest trails enjoying the serene and peaceful atmosphere of the forest.  Broken by the occasional chirp of a bird and groups of spectators and marshals.  The weather was also on our side with the sun peaking through the trees adding to that forest magic! One the thing the Forest of Dean is not is flat which makes the half marathon undulating but also adding to the challenge.  Hills don’t bother me I just keep going, I think the worse thing to do is to stop and walk. 

 Around the five mile mark the courses crosses the main road and up until last year the runners were forced to stop to allow for the traffic to pass.  But now the organisers have got this right and it is the traffic that now has to stop for the runners!  This is also a good spectator place. It is around the eight mile mark that the forest tracks become railway tracks.  Although there are no longer actual railways lines there is lots of evidence of the trains that once worked their way through the forest.  Particularly as you pass old railway buildings and go under a bridge which is another spectator area.

 The last hill on the course is also most challenging as it is a gradual climb. It is one that most people will walk and it seems never ending.  But once at the top it is just another mile to the finish.  You hear the finish before you see it and it’s enough to keep you going. At the finish line you receive your medal, water, energy drink and cereal bars.  One little girl was giving out sweets which I thought was nice.  However, there are no t- shirts unless you are in the first 50 runners but they do sell t-shirts nice tech ones which fit well.   Having collected all my goodies I decide to go and cheer in Clare and Sasha.

 So would I do this race again?  Possibly; it is lovely race and challenging but a little too much queuing.  There is another half marathon in September but there loads of other races in this area including a Park Run which I also recommend. 

Tracy Newman

Sunday
Feb232014

Rogue Run Night Race 3. Chepstow Castle. 22.2.14

‘Night running off-road on a challenging course is an exciting experience and one not to be missed’. That is how the race organisers enticed me to compete last night. The race began within the walls of Chepstow Castle and snaked through the well trodden Wye Valley walking trails. Superb I thought, I knew this was a scenic area and what better way to spend a Saturday evening (?).

So with head torch in place I set off into the darkness with 90ish  runners, most had the classic, rugged fell runner appearance and quickly stormed ahead. By the time I had made it through town to the woodland path it was pretty much just me and my head torch, which was not quite piercing the dark as much as I had anticipated.


Points of interest along the route:

  • River Wye – didn’t see it.
  • Narrow path/ steep drop off – sensed it was there.
  • Piercefield Park G2 listed mansion – didn’t see it.
  • Route markers, every 25-30 meters – phew, seen.
  • Cave followed by a steep climb – experienced that.
  • Kirsty scrabbling up steep climb – heard her!
  • Halfway turn point at Lovers Leap – loitered by the kissing gate... no luck there.
  • Chepstow Race Course – didn’t see it.
  • 2x water features, 2 ft deep and cold - definitely was in those.
  • Tree roots and low branches – only just seen.

Overall a great race and well organised by a few guys from Chepstow Harriers. My first experience of night running and I really enjoyed it. Next time I will have a torch the size of a lighthouse on my head.

Results:

  • David E Williams 1.03.07 - 4th MV50 (He was named in the category winners list!)
  • Dave Hodges 1.03.31
  • Nik Sheen 1.14.13
  • Kirsty Roberts 1.14.16
  • Sasha Macken 1.18.36

Next event:

Rogue Run Race 4: Mallads Pike Lake, Forest of Dean. Saturday 22 March 7.30pm. http://www.rogueruns.com/

Sasha x

Monday
Jan272014

Athens Road Marathon 2013 – Race Report

 

> An iconic Race - one to tick the box.  

> Some really great sights to see in Athens - 2 days (for us) were sufficient to see Athens (more time to go further afield).

> Don’t expect majestic scenery for 26.2 miles it’s the last few which are iconic (but that’s ok as the finish is majestic).

I've broken down my report into a few sections to help future runners work out what is best for you.

 Getting to Athens / Accommodation:

We travelled from Heathrow via the Greek airline.  This takes about 4 hours (remember it is 2 hours’ time difference!)  and the transport from the airport to downtown is easy via subway - but allow a day to travel.  We stayed at the Hilton hotel, (I had converted air miles to Hilton points to use).   The hotel was nice and room was clean and tidy.  The hotel wanted to charge for every little extra, e.g.  if you open the fridge we charge you, water 8 euro not complementary, whereas on the corner shop the same bottle was 1 euro - that’s poor guys, something you just don't do.  Equally, there was an extra charge for the hotel pool, (really, 20 euros to swim!) Oh, location was great and easy to get to/from the start.  If was paying directly I would, if I stayed there, perhaps not...   

 The Race Registration:

The registration was located near the beach, fairly easy to get to by tram and following the other runners.  It did lack the signs at the station stating ‘This is the marathon registration area’, but despite that it was easy to find.  It was a busy registration, with no issues in getting number.  A shame was that the Adidas store only had XL T-shirts left for men, and medium for women.  Claire’s T-shirt was supposed to be X-Small but turned out to be small.  The free bag was more like a bag for life than what if was hoping for as a gift bag.  A reasonable amount of stalls present at the expo, a rather annoying one way system so you had to pass every stall to go though.  I want to go back and between stalls to see fit... but you could just go through the small fence between rows as an easy short cut.  People were friendly and if you needed help that was no problem.   

 Race Start:

There was a bus to the start.  It was an early start about 5:30am if recall.  Getting to the bus location was no problem.  They did put the instructions on repeat the whole travel time.  10min instructions repeated 6 times over an hour gets a bit old after a while.  And, I did hear this is the Greek authentic marathon about 20 times - I got the point.  Whilst travelling any illusions I had about 'mildly undulating' were dispelled.   It’s a hilly course - make no mistake.   

 The start area:

The start area was well organised plenty of toilets and loos.  If it did rain there would be limited under cover.  But this is Greece not Wales so that’s a low risk.  It did not rain for us.  I briefly met Alan and Loretta as I walked to my pen.  There were a lot of tourist runners from around the world not many "really fast club runners".

 The Race:

I was in pen 2, probably because I put down my last marathon at 2:57 time.  To my surprise I really only counted a handful of club vests mostly non-club runners.  I'd guess this pen would be from 240 capability runners to 310 runners.   Pen 1 was elite and Greek championship.  The first mile was fairly busy, I started out with a 7 min mile, and it did take about 1/2 mile to really get into a routine.  And, even then it was busy.  Not so much support early on in the marathon but after about 5 miles more support.  The first section was relatively in the countryside.  It was on a highway type road with little sun cover.  As we progressed through the miles, mile 9 and 12/13 or something like that had fairly stiff hills.  Those about blew up my sub 3 illusions.  I knew I needed a 130/129 split is to make it but those hills took their toll.  The heat through the race I found quite hard, it reached 24 by the end of the race.  As we progressed towards Athens we entered the city about 17 miles or so.  At about 20 miles it is generally mildly downhill but my legs were just shot and I cruised at 7:20 pace no chance of picking up the pace.  If I had more practice at gradual hill training perhaps I would have been less impacted.  Nevertheless when I reached 24 miles I passed my hotel, realising all downhill from here.  At 25'ish miles it’s a sharp downhill (like pen-y-lan perhaps a little less) to the stadium.  And you can hear the chants and support from then.  As you reach 26 the crowds are amazing as you run in the stadium you can see and hear from miles away.  The finish is amazing and such an experience as you look around and hear the crowd.  Worth the pain of the 26.2 miles.   

After the race I met Claire and she told me her 10k was undulating, with same finish in the stadium.  She also captured another scalp of a world record holder - this time Ingrid Kristiansen beating her on the line.  A sign of a nice person Claire shook her hand and the end and Ingrid had her husband take a photo and emailed it to Claire. 

I went to the massage tent for a short massage - a strong recommendation - do this it really helps your recovery - I was able to run 7 miles the next day! 

 A jog with the Nike Running club:

We visited the Nike store looking for a 'We ran Athens' t-shirt.  Unfortunately you can only get these if you join the Nike running club in Athens and run 10 times.  Nevertheless we joined them on the Monday for 4-6 miles in loops around the park nearby.

 

Top Sights in Athens:

The main sights in Athens are the temples and the museums.  You either get free entry or a discount with your running number a good deal.  For us, 2 days of sightseeing.  Monday/ Tuesday am for us was more than sufficient.  We did not visit every museum but we hit the key spots.   

 Visit to 2004 Olympic stadium:

On the Tuesday we elected to visit the Olympic park for the 2004 games.  Fairly easy to get to on metro.  The park was quiet, (almost ghost town like), but that I guess would be the case for most stadiums on a Tuesday morning.  We walked around the stadium to the offices to what would appear to be the Greek athletics association.  We asked could we go in.  I'm not totally sure if the lady fully understood me but she allowed us to go into the stands and walk down onto the track - an amazing experience to stand on the track of those games - worth a visit.  We also passed the outdoor pools and the velodrome, nevertheless we were allowed (or no one stopped us walking into it), to see a group of cyclists following a motor bike...  and what appeared to be their coach having a cigarette, watching...  The Greeks don’t quite have so strict rules on non-smoking or they are not adhered to...

 Other things in Athens:

> There were protests when we were in Athens and a fairly heavy police presence.   We did not see any trouble.    

> Food is no problem, easy to get pasta or other suitable foods as you like.   Plenty of cafes etc. and food is reasonably priced as are the bars.   

> People were generally friendly and helpful in the city.

> No problems with being understood.

James Bruce

Sunday
Dec012013

Mike Davies 3rd at the Club LaSanta 10k run

Club LaSanta - Int. - Running Challenge 2013

Age Group Results for Mike Davies:

(Paterson = DNF...)
use the drop down list to choose "Int. Running Challenge"

 

Mike finishing the 10k race: (note this is a quicktime mp4 movie so needs a quicktime plugin...)

 

 

 

Mike after the race:                                                     Mike victorious over rival:

         

 

Saturday
Nov162013

Swansea Bay / Welsh 10km Champs - Sunday 22 September 2013

Another huge turnout for the club - 59 - for the 33rd running of the ever popular Swansea Bay race. It was a sticky day, but thankfully not wet and windy like 2012. As ever, Croups were amongst the team medals - second in both the mens and ladies behind Swansea, gold medal winners in the veteran men and bronze in the veteran ladies. Individual Welsh Championship medallists were: Claire Beatty (bronze F35), Graham Breen (silver M35), Jerome Edwards (bronze M35), Huw Evans (gold M40), Susan Watson (gold F45), Mike Murphy (bronze M55), Gillian Murphy (bronze F60), Howard Kent (gold M60), Jeff Aston (bronze M65) and Alan Bladen (gold M75). Congratulations all, and especially well done to all of you who set new personal best performances on the day.