Newsdesk 2020

 RANELAGH HARRIERS E-NEWS # 577         18th October 2020
 Editor: Steve Rowland
 mailto: sandsrowland@btinternet.com  

 With the financial impact of COVID-19 becoming ever more severe,
 Ranelagh's Committee is acutely aware that we may have members who are
 facing financial difficulties. We are determined that any such members
 should be able to continue to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of
 participation in club activities and virtual or other races. Therefore, any
 member who is struggling to pay their annual subscription but wishes to
 continue their membership of the club is strongly encouraged to contact
 Clare Fowler, one of our Welfare Officers, on mailto:fowlercjr@gmail.com.
 Sensitivity and discretion is assured.

 James Riley writes in Facebook:
 For those whose passion is Blue and Amber, the Royal Park to be in today
 wasn’t St James’s, it was Bushy, where eight Ranelaghites (Tony Borreda,
 Clare Fowler, Becky Northmore, David Ready, James Riley, Pete Smith, Sergio
 Stillacci and James Whistler) were laying down their VLMs. Some awesome
 running resulted in Tony (2:42:43), David (2:49:51), Pete (2:54:01), James W
 (2:47:20) and Clare (3:18.30) smashing out PBs. We had multiple flybys from
 Kris Davidson who was ‘killing 3 birds with 1 stone’ training for the Autumn
 100, completing the virtual VLM and cheering on the Ranelagh contingent, and
 Kathy Henry supporting Becky Northmore as part of ‘operation get the VLM
 medal and T shirt without running it in one go’. 

 Huge thanks to those of you supporting in Bushy in different ways and at
 different times including Gary Armstrong, Rebecca Bissell, Nick Impey, Rick
 Jenner, Richard Kimber, Wiebke Kortum, Ross Macdonald, Ted Mockett, Ed
 Perry, Jonathan Smith, Mark Snaith, Ellen Van Keulen and Narissa). Apologies
 to anyone I’ve missed! Others supporting virtual VLM attempts include
 Jackson Creegan, Clare Day supporting Cecily and Jeremy, Eirin McDaid
 (supporting Mike Peace in Devon) Alex Ring and Claire Warner. Elsewhere,
 Michelle Beaumont and Karima Graham ran the VLM on the towpath between
 Richmond and Kingston with Karima smashing out a 20 minute PB! Simon Martin
 and Bruce McLaren ran from Woolwich to Richmond and Jarryd Hillhouse nailed
 a 5 minute PB running the JALB virtual marathon in Battersea Park.

 65    James Riley         2:41.15
 90    Tony Borreda        2:42.54
 110   Andy Starr          2:44.11
 111   Gareth Williams     2:44.12
 162   James Whistler      2:47.19
 241   David Ready         2:50.27
 352   Pete Smith          2:54.19
 447   Paul Doyle          2:56.29
 454   Sergio Stillacci    2:56.39
 1389  Clare Fowler        3:18.30
 1488  Kris Davidson       3:20.11
 4366  Simon Martin        3:51.06
 4630  Becky Northmore     3:53.12
 4917  Fenella Ross        3:55.18
 6790  Rue Turner          4:10.09 
 7088  Paul Wapshott       4:12.26
 8029  Jeremy Day          4:18.59
 8596  Karima Graham       4:22.53
       Michelle Beaumont   4:22.53  
 12925 Mike Peace          4:53.17
 17951 Bronwen Northmore   5:31.49
 24098 Ally Salisbury      6:33.59
 31742 Roger Wallace       8:44.48
       Colin Brett         8:44.48
 33685 Kathy Henry        10:15.24  

 DORNEY LAKE MARATHON  Sunday 4th October
 This was the same day as the VLM so the half-dozen Ranelagh who competed
 were also able to submit their performances to the London event. There were
 PBs for Andy Starr and Gareth Williams finishing with stunning times of
 2:44:11 and 2:44:12 (beyond Gareth’s wildest dreams) despite running very
 different races. Also running were Paul Doyle who finished in 2:57, Alun
 Thomas (with a new PB of 3:24:29) and Neil Rae and Bob Tinsley who suffered
 the vagaries that the marathon throws up. Neil finished despite his left leg
 seizing up and Bob finished in rapid 2:56 despite running the last 5 miles
 with a stitch.

 1   W Mackay (Beds & C)  2:26.14
 50  Gareth Williams      2:44.11
 59  Andy Starr           2:45.34
 137 Paul Doyle           2:57.02
 138 Bob Tinsley          2:57.05
 275 Alun Thomas          3:24.29
 344 Neil Rae             3:40.39           

 Slightly less than a full half marathon, but 1679 feet of ascent more than
 made up for that! There was thick fog too but that didn’t stop Jonathan
 Smith winning by a good eight minutes in a time of 1:39.49. 

 NORTH COAST 110 miles and Exmoor 55km  Friday 2nd October
 James Ritchie reports:
 With apologies for the length of this race report, but the race itself was
 quite long!   

 Slightly before 8am on Friday 2nd October I set out on my longest ultra to
 date, the North Coast 110 mile, running along the South West Coast Path of
 North Devon and Somerset.  The weather forecast had been ominous all week,
 and in the event turned out to be as bad as predicted.  My cap was an early
 casualty, blowing over a cliff within the first mile of the race, and the
 wind continued to make its presence felt throughout, particularly on the
 more exposed parts close to the sea.  The first 30km or so were fairly up
 and down, initially through open fields and later on a woodland track,
 before becoming rather narrow and slippery following plenty of rain.  I
 belatedly realised that I had failed to upload the route to my watch, which
 caused a few wrong turns / additional route checking on my phone.  After
 Westward Ho! and the first checkpoint, there was a long flatter section for
 the next 50km or so.  The route here cut inland up the River Torridge, then
 back out to the coast before heading inland again up the River Taw, and the
 second checkpoint, some 64km in, where runners taking on the 110 km event
 would be starting later.  

 Shortly after 75km, and having been going for about 11 hours, it became dark
 pretty quickly.  It was raining again and with the route not always obvious
 I was reliant on checking on my phone, which became increasingly difficult
 as everything was wet and it was difficult to shelter and dry it enough to
 unlock it.  My morale took a bit of a beating, not helped by my stomach
 starting to rebel a bit (it got better about ten hours later).  A vain
 attempt whilst using a hotel's wifi failed to get my watch and phone to
 communicate.  There followed an atmospheric sandy kilometre along Croyde
 Beach, leaving which the road had turned into a river.  Out to Baggy Point
 the wind and rain were in full force, and I began to get increasingly cold
 and dispirited about my chances of getting through.  Shortly after though, I
 found a beachside changing hut. I slipped inside and took 20 minutes to add
 some warm clothing, eat and re-sort some food, dry my phone, check the route
 and inform a few people that I was still alive and going.  It was 10pm, and
 I had another nine or so hours of darkness to try and get through.  The
 temptation to stay in the hut was pretty strong but after a brief hesitation
 I headed on.  Thankfully the rain had eased off a bit, and it wasn't too
 long before I finally reached the third checkpoint, where there seemed to be
 at least one runner who was quitting and jumping in a cab back to
 civilisation.  Coffee and noodles for me though and off, shortly after
 another pair of runners had come in.  

 After a short stretch of road, I was back out onto a path along the coast
 and more up and down in diminishing torchlight until I stopped to change my
 batteries.  Then on and more up and down, periodically having to stop and
 check where I was going.  The two runners whom I'd seen at the prior
 checkpoint were starting to catch me when I checked the route, I'd then move
 on and get ahead, and they'd catch up again the next time I checked.  At
 Ilfracombe, I joined forces with them (Iain and another James), picking up
 another runner along the way as we headed to checkpoint 4 at Combe Martin.
  I was desperately tired and would have loved to sleep, but with all
 checkpoints having moved outside due to Covid, the windy carpark was not
 especially appealing.  In any event, concluding that I'd probably not get
 through if I let Iain and James go on ahead, I'd popped come caffeine pills
 to sabotage any attempt at finding somewhere to sleep.  We reached the
 checkpoint at 4am.  Runners on the 55km event (including Suzy Whatmough)
 would be starting from here in some three or four hours.

 Quick cup of tea, then, with Iain and James dawdling a bit, I headed on,
 pretty soon getting lost descending to a beach before climbing back up and
 finding the correct path.  This brought me in just behind them and I then
 stuck with them solidly through to checkpoint 5.  We weren't moving very
 fast, walking most of the time though I'd tend to run ahead on the downs
 followed by the other pair.  There was one magical moment coming off Great
 Hangman when it had stopped raining, and it was possible to see torchlights
 in the woods ahead and on the hill behind us.  Dawn broke shortly after and
 we soon passed through the Valley of Rocks and on to Lynton, before a steep
 downhill into Lynmouth and checkpoint 5, the time now 9am.  I was conscious
 that I was moving much slower than I'd hoped and, having scheduled about 8
 and a half hours from here, I began to be a bit concerned about whether I
 might run out of time.

 With James having taken off his shoes and socks, I said my goodbyes and
 pushed on alone, with a long uphill section.  I was gratified to find that I
 was moving uphill at a reasonable pace, and even more so that I could still
 run on a long downhill.  This section was largely in woodland, and though it
 rained continually for the whole day, I was out of the wind for much of it.
  There were variously uplifting and depressing signs here - across the space
 of a mile I had Culbone Church at 4 miles to go, 4.5, 3.5 and then 4 miles
 again!  Having been passed by the occasional 110 km runner during the night,
 the first of the 55km runners now began to come through.  Shortly, and
 nearly an hour and a half quicker than planned, I reached the sixth
 checkpoint at Porlock Weir.  It was now 12.45.
 Heading off on the final leg I bumped into an incoming Suzy, which spurred
 me along on the cobbled beach, before the path turned inland a bit.  I
 managed to get a bit of a way before being caught by Suzy who shortly headed
 on (going on to finish as 4th woman and 12th overall of 45 finishers).
  There was one final stiff climb up Bossington Hill and the route now became
 very exposed to the wind. Getting quite cold again I ran as fast as I could
 along the ridge top to try and stay warm, a losing battle, being totally
 sodden and not helped by the fact that the track bore a strong resemblance
 to a pretty icy river.  Meanwhile the dodgy signwriter was back, with
 assorted signs to Minehead changing from 4.5 miles to go, to 5 miles to go.
 Eventually I started to descend and the distances dropped until I was on a
 flat path with a mile or so to go.  And at last, there was the finish
 marker, some 31 hours and 36 minutes after starting.  I made it in 13th
 place out of 19 finishers (with 15 other runners pulling out along the way).
  There wasn't much standing around on ceremony before I was off running
 again - the few hundred metres to the B&B and a gloriously hot bath!

 CENTURION AUTUMN 100 miles  Saturday 10th October
 Bruce McLaren reports:
 Kris Davidson and I found ourselves in Goring, alongside Richard Gurd, at
 0650 on a Saturday morning with the prospect of a real race ahead of us, and
 a 100 miler at that.  Whilst this had been in our diaries for a long time
 the lack of reference to these, given everything had been cancelled, meant
 this race had only really come into our eyeline a couple of months ago.
  Feeling somewhat undertrained and happily over-ambitious I had decided to
 target a sub 20 hour race having been close on the two other occasions I’ve
 run this distance but failing when the wheels came off in the last quarter
 both times.  This time I had prepared a spreadsheet which showed it was
 easily achievable - it always is on paper!

 It was still dark as we set off, so the first mile or two was by headtorch
 but light quickly appeared as we trotted up the Thames.  The Autumn 100 is
 an unusual format with four 25 mile out and back legs from Goring.  The
 organisers had done a tremendous job getting this event running in a Covid
 compliant manner including a rolling start, meaning the race was more a time
 trial rather than a head to head, and very well run distanced aid stations.
  We had been encouraged to start early if we expected a quick time so in
 theory if you passed someone it would be for a place, but you could never be

 We knocked off the first leg in just under 4 hours placing 26/7th out of a
 field of c200 and set out on leg 2 along the Ridgeway.  It’s flat for a few
 miles and then grinds uphill to a turnaround point at Swyncombe.  Views from
 the Ridgeway were pretty impressive and it had stayed dry despite a forecast
 of quite strong winds from the SW and rain.  We had our fingers crossed.  It
 was only on the way back that I realised the uphill we had run was actually
 quite noticeable as we glided down it.  We were making good progress taking
 just over 4 hours for leg 2 which saw us back in Goring having gained 10
 places by the halfway point. 

 Kris and I had recce’d leg 3 as we had felt it could be tough and also knew
 it would be dark on the return. We therefore knew it was exposed if there
 was bad weather and so set off with some trepidation given the forecast.  I
 think we were halfway to the turn round point when I noticed a pretty ugly
 rainstorm directly north of us.  I was delighted as that meant it was
 passing above us and we were in the clear.  There is a reason I’m not a
 weather man though and minutes later Kris observed droplets which rapidly
 became rather moist.  Stopping to put on rain gear we cracked on through the
 rain reaching the turn point just as the rain stopped only for it to return
 as we set off again.  After the climb up to the Chain Hill turnaround it was
 effectively downhill, and with the wind and rain behind us, we were able to
 head back to Goring running most of the time.  Leg 3 had taken under 5 hours
 and we were up to 12/13th overall.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that high
 up a leaderboard - I feared a nosebleed!

 We were starting to feel the pace a bit now so took our time turning round
 and getting a dry top before heading out in the dark for leg 4, downstream
 to Reading along the Thames Path.  We still had over 7.5 hours to break 20
 so were becoming pretty confident we could do this even if the wheels came
 off so we set off with a walk-run strategy, with the emphasis on walking,
 however Kris didn’t seem to get that memo and it quickly turned into a
 run-walk strategy with the balance firmly on running.  Amazingly the legs
 were holding up well and our pace was c11min/mile even with walk breaks for
 most of the way out to Reading.  One of the peculiarities of this race
 format is that you get to see everyone ahead of you filing back.  We
 therefore saw the leader 4 times and could work out how much of a lead he
 was building over us, and everyone else, which was considerable.  When we
 saw him for the final time he was c.15 miles/ 3 hours ahead of us, and
 annoyingly he always looked very comfortable.  It also means you can count
 the people ahead of you so when we got to the turn round point at Reading we
 knew we were close to the runner in 10th place.  Sniffing a top 10 finish, a
 rare smell indeed, I was keen to push on so we had a fairly rapid turnaround
 and set off.  It was one of these days where the legs felt like they could
 keep going forever and we kept knocking out miles running at c10min/mile
 whilst running and averaging just over 11 including the walks.

 It gets pretty muddy between Mapledurham and Pangbourne but after that it’s
 only 4 miles to the finish and having passed a runner on this stretch we
 knew we were in the top 10.  The legs still felt strong so we only had a
 brief pitstop for water at the final aid station, marched up the hill out of
 Pangbourne and then were able to run-walk to the finish and a negative split
 for the final leg.  This negative split promoted us a place, ahead of the
 first lady, and we finished 7/8th overall in a time of 18:20, a time beyond
 my wildest dreams.

 We hadn’t seen Richard Gurd after crossing on leg 2 and discovered later
 that he had pulled out at around mile 70 but still having set a distance PB.
  Good learnings for his South Downs Way 100 next year.

 DORNEY LAKE WINDSOR HALF MARATHON and 10km  Saturday 10th October 
 Dan Chiechi finished 32nd in the 10k in 46.04, while in the Half Marathon
 Ian Keith was 48th in 1:47.16.

 RUN THROUGH OLYMPIC PARK 10km Saturday 10th October 
 Roger Wallace recorded 57.38 in 230th place.

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 Kenyan sub-63 minutes Half Marathoner Edwin Mokua was running near the Ewaso
 River last month and suffered four broken ribs and a double fracture of his
 left hand when he was attacked…by a hippopotamus.

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