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Punchbowl Marathon – 30 miles with Richard Boese

The Punchbowl Marathon is another of LDWA Surrey group’s challenge events. So, similar to last month’s Winter Tanners it’s either 20 or 30 miles of cross country trail following written route instructions with checkpoints at around 7 to 11 mile intervals. Unlike Winter Tanners the Punchbowl route is the same each year, and it’s more of a traditional LDWA challenge event, in that there are well stocked aid stations with hot drinks on course and a hot meal for finishers, unlike the traditionally more basic Tanners.

A month later in the year there is an hour more daylight and, as there are many more sandy trails on this course, it makes for less mud. This was also helped by some reasonable weather in the days leading up to the event and, although it rained the day before, Sunday was a crisp clear sunny day.

The plan for this event was to run with my friend Leon, but he called the evening before saying he was probably not going to get home before 3am. He was crewing for our clubmate Max Woods who was doing the 100 mile Arc of Attrition. So, I called up another running friend Hannah, to share a lift with, who was doing the 20 mile route. Having done over 60 marathons and ultras, you’d think I’d have everything sorted in my race bag but I managed to get two miles from home before realising I’d forgotten my race route instructions. I was a mile away again, when I realised I’d forgotten to put my contact lenses in. Damn it! That’s not a good start.

I arrived at Hannah’s with my phone ringing, but just twenty minutes later we got to the start at Witley, parked with no trouble and registered for the 7:30am start for walkers and slow runners. After finding spare contact lenses in my bag, getting in race kit and a bit more faffing I was ready to go about 5 or 10 minutes late.

The 20 and 30 mile routes are the same for the first three miles so Hannah and I shared the navigation, catching up with the walkers in the first mile.

Punchbowl 1

This made for an easy start to the event, and though we lost quite a bit of time filing along single track paths, it meant getting to chat to quite a few people along the way and not having to pay much attention to the route description.

That changed at Thursley Common with the 20 and 30 mile routes splitting and, with the wider trails, being able to trot past most of the walkers. Soon I was jogging along by myself with just a few other runners in sight.

Punchbowl 2

The route came to Elstead from the south and I had caught up with a few more walkers, so I got chatting again, not realising that the 20 and 30 mile routes had briefly rejoined and I was following some 20 milers. I thought the route looked wrong getting into Elstead but by the time I had backtracked to a main road in the village and got back on the route I had covered nearly a mile extra and with the late start, lost nearly 30 minutes.

After Elstead it was off to Puttenham Common and then the first Checkpoint at 10.7 (11.7!) miles at a little village hall in Puttenham. I took time to have a cup of tea and some biscuits and cake and pack away my light jacket as I was too hot. Out of the checkpoint and back to the main road, the instructions said turn right, but looking left I saw people running off in the opposite direction. “Just leave them to it”, I thought. So, out of Puttenham and into another part of Puttenham common following part of the Farnham Pilgrim marathon in reverse and getting a little lost again, missing a fork in the path while following another runner – I must stop doing that and just rely on my own navigation!

So far the going was reasonably good, not too muddy, at least not the sapping war of attrition that was the Tanners. The geology is different around this part of Surrey, with a lot more sand and sandstone near surface so there are sandy trails that drain well when wet. It was only seven miles to the next checkpoint at Tilford and this came up quickly and almost as a surprise. The lovely half timbered village hall was filled with tea and tasty treats and I had another sort out of kit while enjoying cheese and pickle and lemon curd sandwiches. I felt a bit slower coming out of Tilford!

Punchbowl 3

On then through Hankley Common golf course and the trails up to Hankley Ridge that skirts around the location of the James Bond’s Skyfall lodge, before climbing up to Hankley Hill. After a quick descent I was into the long steady drag up to the Devil’s Punchbowl. It’s a pretty relentless cobbly path rising all the way for nearly three miles to get up to the view point where you then start to descend to the final checkpoint.

Punchbowl 4

I was feeling very tired on this climb, realised that I needed to eat and get some more energy in me, but thought, I can’t be bothered to take my pack off to get to my food. Lesson learned; I should carry some easy to get to food in a marathon belt for emergencies like this.

I eventually got to the top, passed the viewpoint and walked and jogged round the sloppy silty mess that is the old A3 road in winter. Getting off the Punchbowl I stopped to chat to a runner who was sat by the trail, had a bit to eat and instantly felt better. Well enough to jog the next mile down to the final checkpoint at 26 (now 27!) miles. This is a pretty basic affair, just juice and nibbles set out by a barn at a small farm.

Four miles to go then of undulating pleasant countryside with not much mud. The only real challenge being to fit through some tall but very narrow kissing gates before making it back to Witley.

Punchbowl 5

It was a lovely day for this event. Pretty good conditions for winter and the sandy trails made it a much easier task than last month’s Winter Tanners (9 hours 22 minutes of rain, snow, mud and hills). I finished in 8:03 which could have been closer to 7:30 or quicker without the fannying about at the start and getting lost. After a nice sit down, with tea, a hotdog and soup and catching up with how Hannah’s run had gone, we headed home, still in daylight.

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Valentines 10k – Was love in the air at this Chessington based event? Stuart Overall spills the beans…

Having watched the updates on Max Woods unbelievable 100 mile adventure I woke up Sunday morning thankful that I was only racing 10K and only needing to travel 40 minutes away! The Valentines 10K is organised by 26.2 Road Runners club based in Surbiton. It’s fairly low key event with about 500 entrants, parking is easy and in a local business park and the race HQ is in the Chessington Community College. Toilets are plentiful and the environment is warm, as it was both chilly and windy on Sunday.

The start is only a few metres from the college and started promptly at 9am. The first mile is on the road heading towards Chessington World of Adventures, once passed the Adventure park you turn left, this stretch is around a mile in length and is quite undulating, certainly more ups than downs! You then turn left again towards Horton Country park, this section is about two miles in length and either flat or slightly downhill. You turn left again at 4 miles and between this point and the finish the course is undulating, it was also quite windy at this point. Just after the 6 mile mark you turn left and then left again to the finish.

The field is mixed with differing abilities. The first male completing the course in 30.29 and the first female finished in 37.50. I finished in 43.33 and was 67th overall. I collected my race T shirt as they don’t give out medals. Some love hearts and made my way back to the car and the short journey home via McDonalds to try the new Grand Mac ha ha. I expect Max was still running at that time!

So, in summary this was my fourth appearance and I still enjoy this race and for the price it is excellent value, free photo’s and extremely well organised.

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Bramley 20 – Paul Biggs shares more on the classic spring marathon training race

Zombie Apocalypse ?

Dawn broke on Sunday the 11th of February with cold clear skies over Hampshire. The normally sleepy village of Bramley awoke and drew its curtains to the sight of shuffling, stretching, yawning blank eyed wraiths making their way to the centre of town. ….no not the zombie apocalypse always feared by good townsfolk, but the annual running of the Bramley 20/10 Road race……

So what is it? It’s an undulating 10 mile loop around the village sticking mainly to country lanes and back roads, staffed by friendly marshals and supported by locals, loved ones and team mates. Plenty of drink stations and first-aid around the course. Along with tea and cakes and warm dry changing rooms at the start finish line ….in fact a race so good some people do it twice…..

10:30 saw over 1300 runners gathered at the start a number of these proudly wearing Sandhurst colours. As you’d expect from runners, spending these last few moments denouncing their own abilities, playing down the seriousness of their intentions and bandying about old chestnuts such as ‘I’m treating it as another training run’ … ‘I’ll be happy just to get around’ and ‘do you think I’ve got time to go to the toilet’.

Hoot ! – We were off … the hungry accelerating up to race pace, the disciplined checking their watches and getting on-plan and the erratic sprinting and braking as the mood took them. Three  miles in and all had warmed up. Four miles with the sun still shining everyone had found their stride. Five and a half miles in and we gulped at the sight of the big hill. Six miles saw us battling the wind along the ridge. Seven miles done and we were sheltered again. Eight miles gave us icy blasts out of bright blue skies and then at nine miles we could hear the tannoy from Race HQ calling to us as we climbed again.  Ten miles complete and the sprinters peeled off to finish line glory while the twenty mile striders dug in for lap two. ….

Reflecting with a finish line coffee in my hand….Some really good performances, medals and goody bags at a really well organised and friendly local event. Thanks go to Reading Road Runners for organising it and to my fellow Joggers for their good company.

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10th/11th February – SJ Weekend Run Down

2018 is getting busy with a diverse range of events being contested by members and lots of training runs as Spring targets loom into view.

First, a quick look back at last year as entries for the 2017 Sandhurst Joggers Club Championships have opened so its time to dig through all your performances from last year, and send in your best times. As a recap (and for those of you who are new to this), the club championship is an annual competition and is calculated by looking at your best performances over a number of races over the calendar year.

There are a number of different age groups:

Men: Senior, V40, V50, V60, V70, (any higher needed?)
Women: Senior, V35, V45, V55, V65, (ditto above comment)

Important! – For the 2017 club championship, it is your age on 1 January 2017 which dictates your age group.

To qualify, you need to have run in at least 5 of the events detailed in the table below during 2017, and one of these must be 10 miles or over. The table and full information was emailed to all members. Please complete the table with your details and return by email to the Events Team at the following email address:- events@sandhurstjoggers.org.uk

Club champs table

Please note that second claim runners are eligible. However, for an event to count you need to have been entered as a Sandhurst Jogger! Based on these results, there will also be an award for the best age graded performance over the year. Please send in your times by Sunday 18th February so that the events team can put together the results.

And remember…the championship is open to everyone in the club so if you have done 5 of the above events (including 1 race of 10 miles or further) then please please enter. And if you haven’t done enough to enter this year, then please start making plans to get the required number in for 2018!!! Winners will be announced at the Sandhurst Joggers Annual Ball on Friday 13th April.

SJ Champs

The weekend started for a number of members on noon at Friday as Max Woods started the gargantuan challenge that is the Arc of Attrition. One Hundred miles around the Cornish Coastal Path, with over 4,000 metres of climbing, through some of the harshest weather of the winter and including over eighteen hours of darkness. Epic!

Arc route.JPG

We’ll have a full report on this truly phenomenal achievement later in the week.

From ultras to Parkrun and starting with Frimley Lodge where Dave O’Toole was first SJ into the finishing funnel. There was more pacing practice ahead of the Club pacing takeover in two weeks time. One member who elevated his pace was Gareth Hopkins who recorded his fastest ever Parkrun with 28:12.

Parkrun FL SJ results Feb 10th

Patrick Wadsworth led home the SJs at Parkrun Bracknell with Lou Gubb just over a minute behind. Graham Bolton made his first appearance at Bracknell so recorded a PB for the venue.

Parkrun bracknell SJ results Feb 10th

Lisa Hale ran her fastest Parkrun at Rushmoor since September 2014 as she was first member to finish. Louisa Enriquez logged a PB as she stormed around Queens Parade finishing in 26:27 to knock 35 seconds off her previous best. Jason Dalton enjoyed his first and automatically fastest run at the venue. Special mention to the metronome that is Dave Bartlett as he ran a perfectly judged pace throughout completing each of the three miles in exactly 7:37.

Parkrun rushmoor SJ results Feb 10th

Parkrun Tourism – John Tovell was home and away at Crane Park, Samantha Lusty combined a weekend away with Melton Mowbray Parkrun, Graham Kelly took a break from Support crew duties at the Arc of Attrition to run Penrose in Cornwall and Janet Ford ran in Robin Hood country at Sherwood Pines. I made the short trip to Maidenhead to tick ‘M’ off in my quest to complete the Parkrun Alphabet (I was actually heading to Upton Court to bag a difficult to find ‘U’ but left late so could only get to Maidenhead by 9am).

Bramley 20 SJ team.jpg

The Bramley 20/10 was a little earlier this year so just five SJs running in the twenty miler and only a duo in the ten. Good performances throughout including Collette Callanan who took second position in her category. Charlie st Aubyn was missed off the results but finished in 2:53:52. Times for the other quartet of twenty milers are below:-

Bramley 20 SJ results

In the ten miler Karen Gill finished in 1:34:21 and Debra Harris in 2:20:38.

Six members made the trip out to Spain for the Barcelona Half Marathon where they enjoyed trips to the Nou Camp, sunshine and some great performances throughout. Here’s the times of all the SJs:-

Graham Robinson: 1:16:13

Fiona Slevin-Brown: 1:27:56

Mike Guess: 1:35:46

Erol Ali: 1:39:07

Ray Hale: 1:41:56

Dave Breslin: 1:46:32

Richard Boese completed the Punchbowl Marathon on a thirty mile off road course with plenty of hills and mud and hills. He finished in 8 hours and 3 minutes.

Richard Punchbowl Marathon.jpg

Stuart Overhill toed the line at the Valentines 10k organised by the 26.2 Road Running Club on a course around Chessington. He finished in 43:33 for 66th position overall.

Alurie Dutton and Yvette Glacken were back on the 10km trail. This time it was the Love Welwyn 10k which, despite the bitterly cold wind, was a great one to run. The coursewas a bit up and down but nothing too bad and finished on the flat by the lake in Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City. Alurie celebrated with two medals the heart shaped finisher’s medal and a first in age category medal. Well done Alurie!

Alurie Welwyn 10k.jpg

Another busy week on Strava with ninety-one members logging runs. There are some impressive totals below and thankfully for this week’s podium getters Max Woods isn’t a Strava user otherwise his single 160km hit out would blow all these out of the water. Here’s the (Strava User) Club top 10 from last week:-

Strava Leaderboard Feb 11th.JPG

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything and share your results and achievements in the future so the rest of the club know what you are up to. It’s also great to find out about new events or get an honest opinion on the multitude of events out there so we love to receive run reports. Any member, any event, any distance, any surface! Just email publicity@sandhurstjoggers.org.uk

As always keep a look out on Facebook for details of the weekday evening runs.

Monday: Patrick will be back at the helm on the Monday night chatfest leaving Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm and covering approx. 6 miles. This is one of the most sociable runs of the week and a great opportunity to catch up with friends or discuss the preceding weekend. And don’t forget the Monday Mantra ‘Mondays defo make me faster’.

Tuesday Club Run: Mike, Monica and the other run leaders will be leading multiple groups to cater for all abilities from beginners through to faster and more experienced runners. It’s perfect for novices and those coming back from injury or a long lay-off because you can start with an easy group and work your way upwards. The run starts at Sandhurst Memorial Park this week starting at 6:30pm.

Tuesday Intervals: Later the interval sessions will meet at The TYTHINGS in Yateley at 8pm. The sessions have been split into two groups to provide more specific training for members targeting different distances with one group doing shorter efforts and the other longer durations to build endurance.

Wednesday: It’s the second Wednesday of the month so time for the Handicap. It will be the second opportunity of 2018 to improve on your previous times. Emy Circuit took home the trophy in January but a number of January debutantes are well placed to make big improvements this month and capture big scores as a reward. This four mile run over a two lap course around Crowthorne is ideal for all abilities and starts from the Morgan Rec in Crowthorne at 7:30pm. Don’t forget the post run curry at The Raj in Sandhurst, it’s Valentine’s Day and will be busy so let Dick know if you plan to join his romantic rendez-vous.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the the Ellis Road route. Meet at Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm and don’t forget lights and high vis clothing. There are more groups than ever before so more support to help you achieve your running goals. The run is a great way to improve fitness by running as a group at a slightly harder intensity to take you out of your comfort zone. There is a shorter route available and a sweeper so nobody gets left behind.

Friday: Track is still free and the coaches have some great sessions planned for all abilities to improve fitness and technique.

Saturday: Many members will line up at 9am at the numerous Parkrun around our area and further afield. Don’t forget the club are providing pacers at Frimley Lodge on Saturday 24th February so this weekend will be a great opportunity to dial in those splits. Don’t forget your barcode! Also if you are training for a spring marathon you can use the Facebook group to find company for those long runs.

Sunday: Anybody not racing can join the crowd running from The Lookout at 9am. It’s a flexible run to suit everybody’s needs and is either adapted to fit with distance targets or multiple groups are formed. The three ‘Cs’ of Coffee, cake and chat are enjoyed in the cafe post-run.

The Run Down is taking a break next week but will be back the following week with a bumper edition including the February Handicap results and coverage of the Wokingham Half Marathon. Don’t miss it!

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XNRG Pilgrims Challenge – Iain McCready tells of 66 muddy miles on the North Downs Way

I had decided to undertake the Pilgrims Challenge as the start is only 2 miles from my home and I was trying to get back to fitness after not being able to run in Portsmouth in December. I have had experience of XNRG events before having undertaken the Round the Island race in July last year so I was well aware that it would be a challenging run.

The run was to follow the North Downs Way (NDW) all the way to Redhill and back again on the Sunday a total of 66 miles and 2374 metres of ascent.

Iain Pilgrim Challenge route

After the race briefing just before 9am we set off in the morning rain. We were quickly onto the NDW as the start was situated very near to the Sands Golf Club and we proceeded to run along the perimeter. I had previously run on the NDW to Guildford so I new the route quite well. After a bit of mud and no let up of the rain I made it into Guildford to the first checkpoint. The Checkpoint was very busy with runners and walkers who had set of an hour before us, so I decided to miss this one and crack on.

The next section was unbelievably muddy and at times it was a challenge just to stand up. My chosen footwear for the day were Hokas and I wish I had brought some crampons! Newlands corner was especially difficult as I had to swerve round dogs, children and at one point a radio controlled car. After Newlands the trail was less muddy and I was able to run well. After missing the first checkpoint I was hoping the next one wouldn’t be much longer as I was running out of fluid. I had forgotten to bring my route card so I didn’t know when the next one would be so when after another muddy section near to Denbies Wine I was relieved to find checkpoint 2. I filled up my reservoir and grabbed a handful of Jaffa Cakes and trotted off looking forward to the downhill section I could see winding its way to the A24.

After crossing the A24 I was onto the final stage of the race. I still felt good and as I got to the start of the steps to the top of Box Hill and I was happy to trudge all the way up passing a few shattered runners on the way. After the summit I continued along towards Redhill and was immediately swept off my feet by a sea of mud. After a not so funny couple of minutes of trying to stand up I managed to crawl to a fence and make my way down a steep incline. The rain still had not stopped and as I approached the last checkpoint of the day I was relieved to find out that I had only 2 miles to go. After a little over 7 hours I reached the end of Day One feeling ok but very cold and muddy.

The base for the evening was a large School and the team at XNRG had laid on hot drinks and cake for the finishers. XNRG had taken over part of the school for the weekend and the gym was turned into a dormitory and a evening meal and guest speakers were planned for the competitors. I had planned to go home after the finish so I could get a good nights sleep and have a bath so I was picked up and left the rest of them to their evening.

Day Two started early for me as I had to be in Redhill for an 8am start. The walkers left at 7am on the second day joined with all finishers who had taken longer than 8 ½ hours to finish the first day.

We had another race briefing just before 8 and we were of again back to Farnham.

The race was very processional until the first checkpoint due to the very muddy conditions so finding a suitable pace to run at was very taxing. I decided to skip checkpoint 1 again I managed to find some clear space and started to get into a rhythm. Box hill on the return trip was a breeze and after a long slog up to the top of Denbies Wine I hit checkpoint 2; grabbing a handful of sweets I set off towards Newlands Corner. The mud was worse than the first day but after changing to a different make of runners for the second day I coped a bit better.

After Newlands and again trying to swerve around families out for a Sunday walk I soon found myself back into Guildford and at the last checkpoint. The run back from Guildford was mainly spent looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was gaining on me and after another hour or so I was back running past the Golf course where the weekend had started. After a sprint finish due to someone sneaking up behind me with 200 metres to go I went through the finish line. After having a medal placed around me and being pointed towards the table full of cakes I was given a read out of my time for the day. I had finished 24 seconds slower than the first day!

Overall it was a great weekend arranged by a great company.




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London Winter Run 10k – Phil Guy tells of snowmen and Polar Bears

4th February 2018 is World Cancer day and to mark this day London held the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run which is 10k. Over 16,500 runners entered. The start is staggered every 8 minutes which helps with congestion. The start or the Snow Blast-Off was in Trafalgar Square where the runners were led to the start area by Snowmen accompanied by Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ (a bit of Rocky to pump you up). I felt like a Gladiator going into the coliseum (without the crowd). The start wasn’t for 20 minutes but pre-entertainment was provided including a DJ, a Penny farthing cyclist, an aerobic workout which no one participated in and Pride the Olympic Lion had also turned up.

Phil Guy Penny Farthing

It was the expected freezing cold February morning, as wrapped up as you could be with another school shirt (Jim L – I’ve now run out!) the huddle helped keep warm. The one disappointing aspect was the bag drop which was pretty small for those not living in London, certainly not big enough for coat, jeans and a jumper!

A prompt start, I could feel the cold!  One of the reasons I entered this race is I’m obsessed with trying to break 40 minutes and I thought with a Freezing February morning and a flat London course this was my chance. I was wrong on the flat. The course does have quite a few climbs, in fact the elevation is greater than in the Yateley 10k’s (according to both Garmin & Strava).  However the route is great going past iconic locations including St Pauls Cathedral and the Bank of England.

It wasn’t the easiest run and my 40 minute target looked out of reach by 8k but the final kilometre was downhill which helped and I finished in 40:05 which was a personal best. At the finish I was greeted by Polar Bears handing out medals. The event was really well organised with great signposting to the start and around the course and a fantastic atmosphere. Strangest part of the event was after the finish walking past people who had yet to start!

Phil Guy London Winter Run

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Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon – Andrea Hadfield reports back

After the freezing and fairly miserable conditions at the Farnborough Half, two weeks before, I was hoping for slightly kinder weather for this event, particularly after looking at the course map – all along the seafront!

Thankfully the day of the event dawned bright and clear, and I drove down to Portsmouth enjoying a glorious sunrise! I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be like so I had allowed plenty of time, but as it was I was able to park around 2 minutes walk from the start, so I decided not to bother with the organised bag drop. Pre-race admin was nice and easy and more importantly, indoors and warm! Only a very small queue to pick up my number and barely any queue for the loos.

15 minutes before the start we were ushered outside into the sunny (but cold!) morning, and then we were off. The first few miles ticked along nicely, it was a bit breezy but wide paths and the going was good. After that, things got a bit more ‘interesting’ – some single-track paths and a stretch along a beach with a fairly epic headwind slowed us down, so I decided to ignore my watch and just enjoy running in the sunshine by the seaside!

A couple of slightly less pleasant sections followed, a few miles of running along a dual carriageway with my legs feeling heavy and tired was a particular low-light, but after that we were back along the beach and then into the so-called ‘bog of doom’ – which was actually a slightly squishy football field for those of us used to much muddier running conditions (e.g. Cross country!)

The markers for 10, 11 and 12 miles were at least half a mile wrong in each case, and I was getting a bit concerned that the route was going to be short, but it sorted itself out in the end, and these last few miles along the seafront were made more exciting by the public who had arrived in their droves to enjoy the unlikely February sunshine, with children and dogs determined to get under the feet of tired runners.

Andrea Portsmoth Coastal Half

Into the finish area, with a bit of a queue forming – the goody bags were tiny but well stocked, and they were also giving out water, beer, two types of energy drinks as well as a protein recovery drink. This, entertainingly, meant that runners were trying to carry all these things (as they wouldn’t fit in the bags), whilst also taking selfies and attempting to upload their runs to various forms of social media.

In summary, a well organised race with interesting and variable running surfaces; although it’s pancake flat, it’s probably not one for a PB! A good lesson learned for me too, don’t run flat out on a Thursday night club run and expect your legs to completely recover by Sunday!