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Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon. There is a Half option you know..! – John King reports from the full distance…

The day dawned early Sunday morning and, with the clocks changing that morning, my alarm clock went off even earlier..! After the usual preparations and last minute panicking, I was off in the car, running late as per usual, heading for the A3 towards Portsmouth and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park for the start of the marathon.

I managed to (uhum!) catch up some time on the A331 and maybe was just on the speed limit going through some fast areas, so managed to make it there AND get a parking spot, which was the main aim for getting there early.  £3.50 for all day parking.

Although it was bright and sunny and it was now 8am, the temperature felt as if it was still 7am, so pretty chilly which meant that a nice, gentle jog was on the cards to get to the assembly point to pick up my race number and perhaps checkout the local amenities.  This turned out to be a good thing as I could visit the loo for a ‘comfort break’ and jog back to the car to fasten number to race shirt (race?  Huh! ) and get back to the start for the obligatory ‘amble around chatting to whoever wants to listen and bathe in the early morning sunshine before being called to the start’ routine.  Whilst doing this I bumped into another SJer and Marathon Master, Leon Hicks.  He said that he was going to take it easy as he had another marathon the next weekend, on his quest for 52 marathons in 52 weeks!..  Very impressive.  I am going for 3 marathons this year, so thought I’d better be quiet and listen out for any tips he had.

After a short walk to the start-line, we were off. After a very short 100 meters around a field, we encountered the first of many climbs of the day which quickly strung out the field of approx. 150 runners. This climb was really quite brutal on a twisting and narrow track to get us to the top of the first ridge. I decided very early on to take it easy.  The old adage ‘it’s a marathon not a race’ really rings true with this marathon. 500 metres of elevation gain over the half marathon course and with two laps of this for the full marathon meant we’d have to do everything twice so 1K of climbing ahead of us. Plus we also faced what proved to be quite a scary kilometre of down-hill too. This proved to be a memorable and painful experience…

As the run progressed, we began to fall into distinct pockets of runners with people passing one another only to be passed again later on.  My little group proved to be quite chatty and a comradery soon developed between us as I was saving myself (honestly) on the uphills, only to ‘let it all go’ on the downhills which is where I was passing runner after runner. 

Amazingly I was getting some very fast mile splits, immediately followed by slow ones so, one minute I was hurtling down-hill in a flurry of legs and arms, trying not to go ‘a over t’, only to come to an abrupt halt on a quite severe up-hill where we all had to walk.  This is when I would be passed again by one particular runner which we both found quite amusing.  After a couple of these passes, we were both looking out for each other with a jovial ‘hello again’ as we passed each other over and over again.  I secretly knew this would not last and, by the end of the first half, I had hoped I had passed him for the final time until (now very annoyingly) he sprung up behind me, frightening the living day-lights out of me, fresh as a daisy with a ‘see you again soon then!’.  This just had to stop.  I was determined to catch him again and leave him for dead (figuratively speaking that is) so this spurred me on for a bit and now that we were covering familiar territory I knew what laid ahead.  More hills.

So before the end of the first lap, there was a stile that had to be negotiated upon exiting a farmers field.  Nice and wobbly, but was glad of a break at this point before the final mile through to the finish (for the half marathoners that set off 45 mins after us incidentally) or the start of lap number 2 for the rest of us.  The hope was that I would not be over-taken by the race leader of the half, the results are not out yet but I’m pretty sure I made it round the first loop in 2hrs 5mins or so which I was pretty happy about, aiming for a 5hrs finish time.  The second lap just got harder and harder and so my aim of trying to catch somebody (this is a bad idea by the way, ‘run your own race’ is the way to go) was getting less and less likely.  I was wearing a Camelbak (other hydration options are available) so didn’t bother with aid stations and after a couple of them I happened upon ‘Mr Uphill’ (as I named him) at an aid station as I flew (kinda) past, only to be met by a wall of a hill just around the corner so (yes you guessed it) I was soon passed yet again with a cheery ‘hello again’ and a ‘see you later’ as he sailed on by.  That was the last time I ever saw him… 

Much walking ensued followed by pain, more pain and a stop at the very next aid station for a cup of orange squash for a much needed energy boost and I was on my way again.  The rest is a bit of a blur, with cramping and trudging on… ever onwards to the finish line but what a race overall.  By the way, that stile that I mentioned early on near the end, proved to be such an obstacle the second time around, it took all my will power to get over it, only to hear a group of walkers behind me say ‘We thought you were going to fall over then!’.. chuckle, chuckle.  ‘Oh yes, very amusing’ I thought, staggering on wearily and stretching out cramping hamstrings for the remainder of the run. 

A very well sign posted and marshalled run, a massive medal at the end of it, plus a hot meal was provided (at a cost) but I really could not face it so opted to head off home before my legs went into full lock-down and would not be able to drive the car home.  Maybe the Half Marathon next time… perhaps…QE spring marathon medal

Great medal. Yes it is very sparkly and yes, that bunny looks EVIL!

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Cranleigh 15/21

As my pre-London longest run I decided that Cranleigh 21 seemed a good idea and duly entered a couple of months ago. What I didn’t realise at the time was that, not only was it Mother’s Day (ah well a Mother’s Day treat to myself – 21 miles of peace and quiet!), but it was also the start of British Summer Time so a nice 9am start was actually an 8am start (ah well it’s good to get these things over with). Being the start of British Summer Time the weather didn’t disappoint – a lovely warm sunny morning. Good job I remembered my sunglasses but not so good that I didn’t think to put any sun cream on – who’d have thought it would have been necessary in March!

The event itself starts in Cranleigh, a large village in the Surrey Hills. The course is made up of 1 lap of a 9 mile loop followed by 1 or 2 laps of a 6 mile loop depending on whether you are doing the full 21 miles or the shorter 15 mile option. I don’t normally like doing laps but actually found that I quite liked this format – once the 9 mile loop was finished 2 laps of 6 miles seemed quite manageable. The route was on nice quiet country lanes with a couple of short stretches along a main road. Apart from these bits there were very few cars so it was nice and peaceful and fairly flat.

Cranleigh 1520 - Helen

I wasn’t sure if anyone else from Sandhurst was running but at the start I bumped into Lisa Hale so it was nice to have someone to chat to before we started. It was a very low key start and I didn’t actually realise we were off until everyone started shuffling forwards. It is a relatively small event so, despite being fairly far back, it didn’t take long for everyone to spread out and I was soon able to settle into a comfortable pace. I found I was running a bit faster than I had planned but it felt fairly comfortable so I decided to stick with it hoping that my legs wouldn’t blow up. Luckily they didn’t and on my second 6 mile loop I started overtaking people still on their first which was good for motivation.

Cranleigh 1520 - medal

Overall I thought this was a really lovely event with nice quiet roads and nice scenery – a perfect pre-London event. I would definitely do it again.

Ed: Modest as ever, Helen finished in a fantastic time of 2:40:28 for 71st position overall out of 349 finishers. 15th Woman and 6th in her age group. A fantastic performance to set her up for London in a few weeks time. Not bad for a long training run!

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The Lidl Breakfast Run – Caroline Cutliffe confounds other runners as she completes her 20 mile goal… in a 16.2 mile race…!?! Read on…

What a Sunday to do an 8:30am race!!
Between Mother’s Day (no breakfast in bed)! but more to the point, the clocks going forward (that was cruel!), it was an interesting start to the day.
5.30am wake up; out the door at 6.15.  Made myself eat breakfast!!  As the sun came up on the M3 – picture it now(!) I contemplated what I was thinking when I said I was going to run the London Marathon – a moment of Irish madness, and there’s many of those!  It seemed like a good idea at the time; a year ago when one gets caught up in the excitement of medal hanging and you pop that little piece of paper into the ballot box outside the portacabin on the mall.
Anyway, got to Kingston in good time but found myself going round the one way system about 10 times, not to mention a one way street in the wrong direction,  trying to find the car park!  A bit flustered at this point, dropped off bag and checked if I could change my distance from 16 to 20 to which they said no.  So there was nothing else for it but to get in a couple of miles before race start.  Managed to do two miles with the lovely Hannah Glaister and back in time to join the back of the race, which suited me nicely.
Caroline - Lidl breakfast run
For those of you who have not done this race before, the 16 miler takes you on two laps from the market part of the town, along the river to Hampton Court and on towards Esher way on the main road with a final left turn back into Kingston for the last 3 miles on the other side of the river.
So for the first lap, ran for bit with Hannah and some of the jolly Bracknell Forest ladies, then spent a couple of miles with Alurie who was out on the 8.2 route. The atmosphere was really lovely with lots of  random chatter with people settling into the race,  before we knew it, one lap was nearly done.
Back into town to start the second lap, over Kingston bridge and out along the river again heading to Hampton Court Palace for the second time.  This lap was interesting –  I ran alongside a young lady (much younger than me – well, most are!) and she was singing at the top of her voice a rendition of Cher’s “Do you believe in life after love?” to the amusement of some Japanese tourists. Do I believe in life after love??  There was only so much of that I could take so I tucked in behind (not literally – wishful thinking!!) a very nice man for a few miles who was doing the same pace as me, and who kept looking behind to make sure I was still there – yes really!!
The sun had come out and people were smiling!  Then it dawned on me that I had to find another two miles somewhere before crossing the finishing line – something I had intended to so earlier on in lap two, but between Cher and my man friend, it didn’t happen so at about 18 miles, I decided the only thing for it was to do a U turn and head in the other direction  (not the first time today!!) to the confused faces of runners coming towards me nearly home – you know what it’s like; you have done it yourself – ran up and down your street passing your front door until you garmin tells you have done the exact distance you set out to do!  That was me only I was going up and down the towpath like a woman possessed looking at her watch!
Lidl breakfast run goodie bag
With a mile to go, I felt good and as I turned the corner onto the cobbled stones towards the Lidl flags (lots of them!) and a sea of green Bracknell Forest Runners (lots of them), I knew that I now had 20 miles in the bag and a chance of getting round London in one piece in a few weeks.  I finished to a raucous cheers from the Bracknell Forest gang , a Lidl Bag for Life! – not any old plastic bag, and full of random goodies but most of all, a big smile on my face.
What a day!!!
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SJ Weekend Run Down – March 25th/26th

What a beautiful weekend to be outside… and even better if you were running!

Saturday saw the first of the year’s relay action with three SJ teams in action at Alice Holt in the Bolt Round the Holt event which saw teams of two, three and four runners complete 21km. The Sandhurst Joggers team of Graham Robinson, Jenny Robinson, Neil Praine and Stephen Casey finished 1st with Richard McCready, Jane Crawford, Sarah Campbell-Foster and Kerstin Johnson 7th. Special kudos for Angela Foker, Lucy Murphy, Katie Woolger and Claire Chase who finished a great 11th in their first team relay. Great results for all. Clive Rolfe was 2nd V40 and 4th overall in the solo 10k event and Pam Whelan also ran well to complete the 10k distance. The Events team will have more details on the upcoming Summer Relays later in the week so keep a look out and sign up for these great sociable events.

bolt holt team

Frimley Lodge Parkrun saw a good turnout of twelve SJs with both Georgina King and Philippa Francis recording PBs as their great improvements continue. Mark Pattrick first home for the club in 22:05. Paula Vine was next Jogger to finish as she returns from injury. Another injury beater Harvey Young scored his best time on the Frimley Lodge course.

Over at Parkrun Bracknell, ten members tested themselves on the testing course with another rehabed injurist Fiona Slevin-Brown the first Sandhurst Jogger to finish in 27:22. Fiona was followed by John Wright and Royston Crandley who made his first visit since the course changes.

A superb result for James Ratcliffe Rushmoor as he finished in second overall with a stunning time of 18:09 just nine seconds shy of his fastest ever and only eight seconds off the win. Nigel Evans and Helen Vizard were the next club finishers out of the five competing.

Kevin Forster took the Parkrun tourism to Dungloe, Ireland running to within 20 seconds of his best time ever (recorded locally at Frimley Lodge). Lisa Hale returned to Basingstoke with her fastest at the venue recording 21:05 and Patrick Wadsworth sampled the Richmond Parkrun.

At the Cranleigh 15/21 Helen Antram was first home for the club in the 21 mile event in an impressive time of 2:40:28 with Lisa Hale finishing less than two and a half minutes later. Lynsey Lightfoot also ran strongly to complete the longer distance.

Leon - QE Spring mara medal

Leon Hicks and John King were in action at the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon at Queen Elizabeth Country Park with both doing well on the tough course. John finished in 4:44:49 and Leon in 5:55:47 bringing his total to twenty in his 52 in 52 quest!

Caroline - Lidl breakfast run

An early start at the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run didn’t deter Alure Dutton who finished first in her age category. Yvette Glacken bagged second in her age group and Hannah Glaister had a great run too so well done to all who completed the 8.2 mile distance race. Caroline Cutliffe turned the 16.2 miler into a 20 mile training run to log her longest run in a while and prove she still has it in her! Lots of positive comments on the goodie bag…

Lidl breakfast run goodie bag

Graham Meek took the top spot on Strava this week as he prepares for a big ultra in May. He ran 90.6km this week! Will Davidson was second with 86.9km and Lisa Hale third with 77.2km. Sixty three members logged runs on Strava this week. To take part in this just create a free Strava account and link it to the club in your profile.

As always, 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.

The membership renewal system is open so if you haven’t already you can sort your club membership for the next twelve months and take advantage of what one member called ‘the bargain of the century’. As always keep a look out on Facebook for details of the weekday evening runs.

Monday: A mystery guest leader will be leading the usual Monday night chatfest leaving Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm.

Tuesday: Multiple groups running on Tuesday from Sandhurst Memorial Park this week plus the interval session meeting at The Tythings in Yateley at 8pm will be Dave’s Mum’s House:  14 x 2 minute efforts with  30 second recovery after each.

Wednesday: New General Members Sharon Burfield and Andrea Vincent will be leading a great run from the Memorial Park.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the much loved Crawley Ridge route, don’t forget your headtorch and high viz as it’s still dark out there.

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

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Marathon Majors part 2 – New York – Alison Jones tells her Big Apple story

New York Marathon November 2014

Following Berlin, I went off to the Big Apple, as many of you have already run this marathon and probably reported on it, I will just give a brief overview from my experience.

This was only about 5 weeks after Berlin, so I was really keen to shake off my bad experience and get back on track, oh how naïve was I. What is it with these marathons that they have to get you up in the middle of the night, especially for New York…

NYC Marathon logo

A bus trip to the start, well I say a trip, it was like the M3 at the moment, stop start, but we finally made it, then through security getting closer to my start time of 10.30hrs. I still had 3 hours to kill, mind you it would take me that amount of time to remove the layers of clothes I had on, and I was still frozen.  This is the first time I have seen people wearing dressing gowns at the start of a marathon, I thought they had gotten up late, but it would seem this is common practice in the USA.

Although there was Coffee on offer, I resisted since my experience in Berlin was still fresh in my memory.

As we congregated in our designated pre-start areas it was blowing a gale, so I decided to keep my hat, jacket and gloves on until we started running, which I doubted I could do since I was so cold, I met a girl in the pen who was giving our hand warmers since she would be tossing them anyway, I could have kissed her; don’t worry I didn’t!

NYC Marathon

Up onto the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and if I thought it was cold and windy in the pen, I thought the world was ending when I got onto the bridge!  So cue Frank Sinatra and off we went, in my case literally, as I ran across the open space of the bridge I felt my feet lifting off and I thought here we go into the Hudson, but a guy running behind me grabbed me by the shoulder and pushed me back to terra firma. Anything after that would be a bonus.

Although New York is billed as running through the 5 boroughs, the first half is in Brooklyn, and the crowds really get excited and are very vocal. When we finally made it into Manhattan, I knew we were nearly home and that Central Park was just at the top of 1st Avenue, she says, a never ending avenue if ever there was one, and you are not quite done when you get to Central Park, you are obviously enjoying it so much they keep you going for a bit longer. I was glad to see the finish in a time of 4.16.55 not my best experience, but we are all human, I was learning fast.

When I watched the race back later, I saw that the elites were running in hats, gloves and arm warmers, and that the wind was a head wind of 60mph, all of that made me feel a bit better.

The long walk back to the hotel was interesting, I felt like batman in the cloak they had wrapped me in and people were crossing the street to tell me how awesome I was, it made me feel pretty special, but not special enough to wear my medal out to dinner that evening as most of the diners did.

Although unrelated to this visit to NYC I must just tell you a funny story from my previous visit to New York in August 2013, with my daughter. I went for a run around Central Park, which is 6 miles round the circumference, and I wanted to try and run about 12 miles, so round I go twice and I thought I would finish off near the park entrance, but as I ran past a particular part of the park I spied a film crew and a group of “gorgeous young people” it was a really hot day, so having just run 12 miles I was probably not looking my best, but decided to be nosy anyway and ask what they were filming, so I stopped and asked, in case it was a film in which case I would look out for it in the future, but no it was not a film I was told it was an “ info-mercial” for the New York Marathon that year, I looked at these “beautiful people” and asked the guy if he had ever seen the end of a marathon close up, to which he replied no, he asked why I was laughing and I said no-one looks like that when they finish running 26 miles, they look like me! Needless to say he did not ask me to star in his commercial, probably just as well!

nyc-marathon medal

Even though my time in New York was a bit disappointing since I had been running nearer to 4 hours previously this was a tough marathon and I realised that I was managing to keep my pace steady, and finish strong, rather than in a heap, although I had not changed the way I trained but had added Strength and Conditioning which I still continue with twice a week.

For anyone interested, I go to a boot camp run by Cornerstone Sports performance and development and have done for the past 4 years, along with my running I feel this has made my running much better and I feel so much stronger and in control when I run marathons, if anyone would like more information, please feel free to contact me via Facebook.

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Reading Half Marathon – Sharon Burfield reports back from her old stomping ground and a new PB…

So this was my first time running Reading half…  Having grown up in Reading, it was great to return to my old stomping ground and the streets I once knew well.  It brought back a lot of good memories of shopping trips and nights out!  I was very impressed with the organisation here, particularly with regard to the number of portaloos, always a plus as I do like to use these facilities several times before a race (maybe this is too much information!?!)  The baggage area was also very well managed with no delay at drop off or collection.  The added bonus of a changing area was a revelation, particularly as it was cold and windy for much of the morning – this meant I could get changed pre and post race in relative comfort.
Sharon - Reading Half
When I signed up for this half, I wasn’t sure how fast I could go, so had opted for the green wave (2hrs).  Having since done Farnborough half, I was hoping for 1.45, but I always tend to start further back in the field so that I can get a mental boost from overtaking people, so I positioned myself just behind the 1.55 pacer. This seemed to work well for me, although I do wonder whether I would be better to start further ahead next time for more PB potential!
Sharon - Reading Half 3
The race itself was really enjoyable; the crowd support and music at various points was a big motivator, I found myself inexplicably speeding up whenever there was music! This was particularly true coming down under the IDR towards the oracle, where I happened to see Jackie Kent for a brief hello – the steel drums sounded amazing! And I loved high fiving the children along the route, this put a smile on my face, especially whilst running up that first hill into Whitley, and in the latter stages of the race.  I think I was smiling for most of the race!
Sharon - Reading Half 2
The final stretch down and into the stadium were fantastic!! Some more music and that moment when I felt like an athlete running towards the finish line gave me the energy for a sprint finish!!
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Fleet Half Marathon – Matthew Barlow tells of his first half in 12 years…

Legs aching a little this morning but not as bad as I was expecting!

Yesterday was fun. My first half marathon for 12 years having recently got back into running via the Sandhurst Joggers Tuesday night runs. I had been training well but unfortunately got pneumonia at the end of last year so wasn’t quite as match fit as I’d hoped but I did manage to get a couple of 10 mile runs in over the last 3 weeks so I was determined to enjoy it as much as possible.

Matthew Barlow - Fleet Half

The atmosphere at the Fleet Half was terrific at the start (which I got a little caught up in and started far too quickly!) and it was great to see so many people out supporting the runners on a cold and windy day, especially on the loops around Fleet. The wind certainly didn’t make it easy for the last couple of miles from Crookham Village into Fleet though and it most definitely did feel like the full half marathon distance by the time I’d finished back at Calthorpe Park.

 I crossed the line in 2 hours 11 minutes which was great as I was aiming for 2:15 and a PB for me compared to my last half all those years ago.

Matthew Barlow - Fleet Half data

 Can I just say it was also a real boost to hear so many calls of “Come on Sandhurst” from fellow SJ runners and supporters in the crowd when the legs were starting to ache and I’ve very much enjoyed being a part of Sandhurst Joggers for the last few months so a big thank you for the support yesterday and to everyone for making me feel so welcome and a part of the club.

Now I have a time to beat for 2018…

Well done to everyone else who ran at Fleet and Reading yesterday.