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15th/16th July – SJ Weekend Run Down

First let’s catch up on the mid-week action. Cast your thoughts back to that stiflingly hot Wednesday night two weeks ago and the July Handicap.

July Handicap results

Jim Laidlaw was first to finish followed by Krzysztof Zielinski who recorded the biggest improvement and maximum points in the Handicap competition. Roy Bentley and Martin Steadman took second and third respectively.

July Handicap top 3

So with seven rounds complete Jim Laidlaw continues to lead the annual competition but it is tighter than it looks at the top as Jim is the only runner with the seven maximum counting scores. There are a number of runners close behind with four, five or six runs who only need to run once more to be right in the mix. Plus there are still five more opportunities to score so thirty members could still potentially challenge for the 2017 Handicap title.

Handicap series after July

Last Tuesday saw the Dinton Pastures Relay on a night of downpours at the scenic lakeside park near Winersh. A weather-resistant team of six SJs combined well in monsoon-like conditions as they did their best to match their predicted time for the 4,051m course. Team Manager for the Night Richard Boese made good use of his umbrella as he tried to make sense of the results. Most SJs exceeded their expectations and beat their predicted times which was understandable with conditions encouraging a fast finish.


Last Wednesday saw Race 2 in the Yateley Road Race Series. A little warmer than June but still lots of great results with Mike Guess winning the M60 category, Collette Callanan taking second in the F45 race while Dave O’Toole and yours truly took third place in the M60 and M40 categories respectively. Lots of PBs too including (but not limited to) Jacq Hudson, Stuart Mayes and Sharon Burfield.

YRR Race 2 SJ results part 1

YRR Race 2 SJ results part 2

Members were out in force helping at the event and marshaling key points to keep all the runners safe.

YRR Reading road Karen

All three local Parkruns were open again this weekend. Over at Frimley Lodge Jim Laidlaw was first member to finish as he logged a new PB in 20:18.

At Rushmoor Jon Gubb had a storming run to record a new PB of 19:28 as he led home three members.

Twelve SJs in action at Bracknell making it the best supported with Martin Steadman the first member to finish in 22:53.

Loads of Parkrun tourism this week with John King running at Reading, Lisa Hale at Whiteley near Southampton, Dave Ayling at Andover, Sharon Conquer at Northampton John Tovell at home venue Crane Park. Big shout for Stephen Casey who logged a new overall Parkrun PB at Woking with 21:01.

Don’t forget to add Sandhurst Joggers as your club in your Parkrun profile to help us keep track of your achievements.

Angela Foker ran the Pretty Muddy race at Prospect Park in Reading.

The Harry Hawkes 10 Mile was run off on a course that started and finished in Thames Ditton, passing close to Kingston, around Hampton Court Park before crossing the line in Giggs Green near Thames Ditton Cricket Club. Jane Bannister, Jim laidlaw, Hannah Glaister and Caroline Cutliffe all enjoyed great runs.

Neil Praine was back in northern action tackling the 36km Man vs Lakes on a very hilly course in… yes you guessed it… the Lake District.

Lisa Hale was back on top of the Strava Leaderboard with a total of 65.8km. Marathon preparee Andrew Brooks took second with 57.8km and Neil Praine was third with 57.2km showing good recovery from The Wall Ultra. Sixty-eight members logged runs 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.

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

Tuesday: There will be multiple groups running on Tuesday from Sandhurst Memorial Park this week starting at 6:30pm. Later the interval sessions will meet at The TYTHINGS in Yateley at 8pm .

Wednesday: Sharon Burfield and/or Andrea Vincent will be leading a great run of between five to six miles from Sandhurst Memorial Park departing at 7pm. It’s also the final round of the Woodland 5 race series in Crowthorne Woods so there will be plenty of members racing and potentially a troop of support runners heading over there for the 7:30pm start.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the off road, Nikki will have more details later in the week and soon we’ll have a route schedule planned out.

Friday: This week is Track Challenge at Bracknell Athletics Track (next to Bracknell Leisure Centre just off the A322/Bagshot Road). This event is already oversubscribed but there is plenty of space in the stand for spectators and help with time keeping would be much appreciated. This is a team event for teams of 4 people of all abilities. Teams will be arranged into mixed abilities prior to the evening, then you and your team decide what you want to do out of the following list, each member of a team will run:
· 1 sprint event (100m, 200m, 300m, 400m),
· 1 middle distance event (800m, 1000m, 1500m, Mile),
· 2 relays (4 x 100m, 4 x 400m).

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.

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European Middle Distance Triathlon Champs – Vicky Rice

Qualifying for 70.3 or middle distance (1900m swim, 90km bike and half marathon run) takes a slightly different format to qualifying at the sprint and standard distances in triathlon.  For a sprint or standard you have enter specific races outlined by the British Triathlon Federation, racing against other hopeful entrants. For the 70.3 you are able to choose your own race (with specific guidelines) and then submit your time to the panel to see whether you made the qualifying time.

Vicky profile

So my Team GB journey, unbeknownst to me, began in June 2016 when I raced the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3, with no thoughts of qualifying. This was my first season of dabbling in the sprint and standard qualifier races, but Staffordshire was more about experiencing the Ironman brand.

Staffs was a great race and an amazing experience, I loved competing at an Ironman branded event, I had a great swim which I managed to draft loads, a fast bike but I had a really disappointingly tough run. A few months later someone suggested I submit my time. I really didn’t think I’d get a chance of qualifying but hey you’ve got to be in it to win it! So off it went!

After convincing myself that I wouldn’t have made the cut off (thanks to Sarah Hyatt’s really dodgy maths!!) I was somewhat surprised to receive THE email confirming my place in the team!

So there it was – I was going to the European Champs in Denmark for 70.3.

I’d already signed up with Streamline Coaching to help me work on my running and biking, so I had 8 months to really focus on my training plan.

Training went really well, with only 1 month off running in January due to a hip issue, which came and went luckily. The miles began to ramp up, the brick sessions began to appear on the training schedule, a couple of warm up races and I got to the start line in the best shape I could have hoped for.

With the event being all self funded I had to make the trip on my own but had the lovely Sarah Hyatt to share the experience with. I also met some amazing girls on the FB group who were also travelling solo and were looking for people to room with – so we soon became the fabulous 4!

Arriving at LHR and meeting up with lots of the GB Team all wearing the GB kit was really surreal. It felt so strange (but awesome too!) to be wearing GB kit!  A guy asked me in the queue what I was competing in and where I was going – I have this really bad habit of playing it down. He seemed pretty impressed so I gave myself a good talking too to not play it down again!!  Even the cabin crew put out a message wishing all the GB team the best of luck!

We arrived in Denmark to be greeted by a lot of rain….and that’s how it continued for 3 days! We weren’t impressed! We had 3 days to settle in and get ourselves race ready.   Although very tired from the early start and travelling we all decided to get our run recce completed that afternoon. We ran out to the lake we would be swimming in which was about 3km from the hotel. We were all very excited and there was lots of chat on the run about what lay ahead. We then headed over to the expo to register and pick up the long awaited branded rucksack….big disappointment!! More cuts from Challenge and we were given a shopping bag! Much hilarity followed about the lack of rucksack and the need for yet another reusable bag! Oh well they must be giving it to us at the finish line with our medal we all thought!

group pic

The next day we got out on the bikes and managed to pick up a few more girls, the sun was out and we cruised around checking out transition and the start and finish of the bike course. We got our first realisation that there is a reason there are A LOT of wind turbines in Denmark. We were all hoping that the wind would drop by Saturday – that was wishful thinking!

Friday morning and the countdown began – 24 hours until race day. The nerves were setting in. The GB team had planned a swim recce – it was great to meet up with so many of the team and we had a lot of nervous laughs together. The rest of the day was all about resting, eating and hydrating.

We had to cycle back to the lake that evening to rack our bikes and hang our bags – a small personality failure occurred as it was torrential rain and really cold – we were praying it would clear by the morning as the forecast had promised.

Back to the hotel and it was time to get to bed, the bikes and bags were all racked and it time to get some sleep. Typically the nerves were there and it took me ages to go to sleep but it wasn’t too much of an early start.

kit on bed

I hate race morning – I hate the hanging around, I struggle to eat breakfast, the nerves really kicked in. I just wanted to get going. Everyone was busying themselves, I definitely wasn’t very talkative but I tried to stay calm. I was missing my support crew to keep me calm. Sarah and I got ourselves a lift up to the lake so we didn’t need to faff around with the shuttle buses which was a relieve.

group in transition

Finally, as promised the sun was shining! The wind hadn’t dropped but you can’t have everything right? Transition was buzzing, the music was blaring and everyone was busy checking everything and anything! I had a new strategy for finding my bike in the sea of carbon – I re-counted my running strides from the end of the row to my bike, row 5 – 30 steps! (This proved to really help me later in transition – good tip from Lou Gubb!) There was more hanging around, time for some photos, quick chat with our team manager Bret and then Sarah and I headed over to the swim start. I really just wanted to get this show on the road!

racked and ready

Once I had my wetsuit on and was queuing up for our wave to enter the water I began to feel much calmer. This was it, this is what all the training had been for. The swim was great, I got a good start, I tried to find someone to draft but it was a bit hit and miss, a bit of drafting here and there but not as much as I’d hoped for. As we turned the last buoy there was another 200m to the exit – I was trying to power hard to try and get the best placing for the swim. Transition went smoothly (although I noticed that the empty rack which was next to my bike row was now full of bikes! These little things are sent to test you!).

Now it was time for 3 hours on the bike. The sun was shining but the wind was up. I felt like I had a good placing on the swim but knew it wouldn’t be long before the girls started to come past me on the bike. I knew they would but I had to keep positive. I knew this would be my weakest discipline but I kept reminding myself that I maybe towards the back but I’m nearer the front than those that didn’t qualify!!

Something always happens that you can’t control and after only 5 miles on the bars I began to get really bad back ache – I hadn’t had backache on the bike for as long as I can remember. This really began to get to me and I wish I’d popped the precautionary ibuprofen I’d planned on taking earlier that morning. It got really tough going. The pain just wouldn’t shift. The only relieve came when I was out of the saddle but on a flattish course there wasn’t any opportunity to get up and out. I did get lonely on the bike – with 20m drafting rule in place and being at the back of the field there wasn’t anyone to work with and I just wanted to chat to someone!! I need to learn to like my own company more! I counted down the miles with about 15 to go – I hadn’t loved the bike course at all. This part of Denmark was very green and rolling with a lot of wind turbines but really that was it!

I came into transition and was relieved to hand over my bike and get my trainers on. I knew the run would be tough – it had warmed up to 25 degrees but running was more my comfort zone.

I had planned to start steady and not go off to fast, the legs were feeling not bad at all – the upside of not having a great bike section. I soon hit a water station and knew I needed to drink at every station as it was really warm – it was about 2.30pm and not a cloud in the sky. I made the mistake of running through the first station – little went in the mouth so from then on I decided to walk through each station – this would benefit me in the long run!

The run was 4 x 5km laps – the first section was an out and back on the main road, although this could have been a bit boring this turned out to be my best section of the course – it was easier to maintain a constant pace and it was great to see all the team out on the course (other than Steve obviously who I’ve worked out was just finishing as I started the run!).  The back end of the loop was very wiggly and through the town including running through the library which was slightly weird (I felt like there was no air in there) – although there support was great – thanks Neil and family! – I found this much tougher going and had to dig deep to keep the pace constant. The run is always much more of a mental battle than a physical one. Each lap had its own goal – lap 1 was about getting a good pace going, lap 2 was about hitting the 10km and feeling OK. I got to 10km and felt that I it was going really well – I remember saying to myself – I’ve got this, 2 more laps and I’m done!

I desperately didn’t want to take any walking breaks other than at the water stations and they were just enough to drink a cup and throw a cup over the head. With lap 3 complete I knew that I had this. A bit of chanting on the way round of ‘I am an endurance athlete’ helped to keep me going – thanks for the tip Lou!! On the last loop back I started counting how many GBR were behind me. I was relieved to see I wasn’t the last Brit and I was still overtaking people. I started to visualise the finish and was so excited that I was going to complete it and the run had gone to plan. The last stretch through the town and finally it was time to take the right hand lane, up the red carpet.

run finish

More chanting of ‘I am a GB finisher’ to get me to the end and I crossed the line. I wanted a sub 2 hour half but came in just over in 2.01 – that was good enough for me!

A few tears as always hanging on the barrier and there it was I had competed in a European Championship and raced in my GB suit. Final time 6.03 – sub 6 would have been great but it was still a PB on a very windy course. I was happy with that!

I headed over to the baggage and food area and spent ages there chatting to so many people – physically and emotionally exhausted but buzzing. Later that evening was the awards ceremony where Tara and Steve both collected their well deserved medals. I was supposed to go to the after party with the girls but after grabbing some food I was done!

sarah and vicky

The whole experience has been amazing – I’m delighted that I had the opportunity to do this and must thank my wonderful supportive family for letting train all hours to achieve this, Steve at Streamline Coaching for getting me to the start line in the best possible shape I could have hoped for and to James May at Prospect Estate Agents for sponsoring me and making it all possible. Who knows if I’ll get the opportunity again but I’ve met and raced with some amazingly talented people and I’ll treasure the memories forever.






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8th/9th July – SJ Weekend Run Down

It’s hot hot hot! Ideal for becoming dehydrated, suffering from heatstroke and getting sunburnt… but not so good for enjoying long runs or running fast. But luckily we SJs are a hardy bunch and we also have lots of fantastic shady woodland to run through.

We’ll have the full results from the July Handicap next week but here’s a brief summary. It was hot…. and Jim Laidlaw was first to finish on a hot night which was not conducive to PB running so well done to the three members who did post a fastest time on the four mile run.

Wednesday Lisa hale ran Helen Windsor 10k at Greetland near Halifax in the North of England in 45:04. This great time bagged her 3rd position in the Senior W35 category. The race doubled as the Yorkshire Vets 10k Championships.

Friday saw Richard Boese and Leon Hicks contest a 100m sprint… only joking it was actually a marathon within the Dinton Pastures Sundae Challenge. The event was a 6 hour timed challenge where you could run as many or as few 2.6 mile laps as you wanted. 10 laps for a marathon, 5 for a half, 11+ for an ultra and 1 or more to be a finisher and get a medal and create your own sundae with a serving of ice cream and choice of sauces and toppings. The weather well and truly cooperated with the ice cream theme.

Dinton Sundae challenge

Rushmoor was closed again this week so Frimley Lodge was very busy with 617 runners! Mark Pattrick was first to finish for the club in 20:28 which is his best time since 2015. Dave O’Toole was next member to finish showing incredible consistency finishing in exactly the same time as last week with 22:10.

Over at Bracknell there was a great turnout by the recent Pure Beginners graduates. Sophie Le Saux scored her best time on the course with 32:27. Three PBs with Jacqueline Hudson logging her best Parkrun time ever with 34:57, Jonathan Evershed with 37:23 and Michelle Williams in 42:36. Sophie Pibworth, Julie Maxwell and Natalie Wilkinson all ran for the first time this week.

On the Parkrun tourism front. Dave Bartlett and Sarah Alexander made the short trip to Woodley. John Tovell ran at home venue Crane Park. Lisa Hale, Phil Turner and Alurie Dutton visited Homewood. Stephen Casey ran (and paid £1.80 for parking!) at Alice Holt. Yvette Glacken ran her home race at Luton Wardown.

Don’t forget to add Sandhurst Joggers as your club in your Parkrun profile to help us keep track of your achievements.

Lina Johnson took part in The Corporate Games in Nottingham which consisted of a 10k followed later in the day by a relay in which all members of the team completed one mile. Both races were run off in hot conditions and the 10k was particularly hilly using the same venue as the 2017 National XC Championship.

Lina Corporate games


Nigel Evans took on the Westminster British 10k on a course around many of the London landmarks that provided the backdrop to his marriage proposal (and Virgin London Marathon finish) back in April. He finished in a time of 54:14.

Nigel British 10k

This week we had a new Queen of Strava with Kathryn Carney topping the leaderboard with a total of 71.4km. Krzysztof Zielinski was second with 63.5km, while I was third with a paltry 61.5km. Sixty-one members logged runs 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.

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

Monday: Patrick will be leading the usual Monday night chatfest leaving Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm.

Tuesday: There will be multiple groups running on Tuesday from Sandhurst Memorial Park this week starting at 6:30pm. Later the interval sessions will meet at The TYTHINGS in Yateley at 8pm but don’t overdo it if you are racing on Wednesday!

Wednesday: This week is Race 2 of the Yateley 10k Road Race series with lot’s of members running and many more volunteering. If you aren’t already involved but can spare some time on Wednesday evening please let Roger know.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the off road, Nikki will have more details later in the week and soon we’ll have a route schedule planned out.

Friday: Track is still free and the THREE coaches have some great sessions planned for all abilities to improve fitness and technique. The Track Challenge is coming up on Friday 21st July so these sessions are a fantastic opportunity to practice ahead of the big night!

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.

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Elstead Marathon – Richard Boese reports back from this ‘marathon’ with a twist

The Elstead “marathon” is hosted every year in the village of Elstead, just a few miles from Farnham in Surrey. The marathon has been running since 1912, making it a truly historic event. The local Scout troop have very close ties to the event, with all proceeds from the day helping to support fantastic opportunities for the local youth.

The event consists of a 5.4 mile off road race and a 3 mile junior race, both starting on the village green, with cake stalls and a barbeque and local pubs around the green for refreshments. The longer run takes place across the local commons to the south and west of the village, with some varied terrain and ending in a refreshing crossing of the river Wey! The races are traditionally followed by a friendly tug of war between local teams, although I have always been in the pub enjoying a post-race recovery beer when this has been happening.

elstead mara map
I came into this race having had a busy week at work with no chance of running in the week following my long run with SJ folks at the Lookout the previous Sunday. I had been having calf issues and spent more time foam rolling than running and I had some doubts about whether the planned long racing weekend I had in store was a wise move – Elstead marathon, parkrun, Runnymede Relay, then another 5k race on Sunday. So, kill or cure, as they say!

The Elstead event is usually the first Friday in July (except for this year), but is never that well advertised, which is why most people round Sandhurst way have never heard of it. However, about 400 people run it each year and this year they all seemed to have turned up before me, so I had a 5 minute walk back to the village green from where I parked. There is no registration on line before the event, you just sign up on the day, but the queues were very short and I had my number in plenty of time to try and find any familiar faces. I didn’t know any other SJ runners here (either they were at track or saving themselves for Runnymede the next day) but I did find some Cove, Windle and Frimley parkrunners that I knew among the hordes of Farnham and Blackwater Valley runners.

At 7pm we gathered at a narrow lane by the Woolpack pub (Hogsback ales and nice for dinner) to see off the junior’s 3mile race and as soon as they were gone we lined up and were off at 7:15. The first 50m were very narrow but we then turned onto a wider street to run through the village on flat roads with loads of locals out to cheer us on. After less than a mile we turned off road on to a steady climb on cool wooded trails, before coming out on open ground at Ockley Common, then heading into some more gently sloping woodland trail and some loose sandy paths before the last main climb beside Yagden Hill where we were rewarded with nice views across open heathland. More sandy paths alongside the heather before the steady drop back down to the village, where things really start to get interesting.

After coming out of the woodland there is a steady downhill on tarmac before the last half mile where the terrain gets really wacky. This usually starts with climbing over a 5 bar gate, but this year someone had opened that for us (boo!) then crosses a really hummocky field perfect for twisting an ankle on, wading through a little stream, across a tiny bridge, a couple of hundred metres of cobbled road round the back of The Mill pub (quality gastro-pub with Fullers Ales), then a little well-trimmed lawn before jumping into the River Wey, hauling yourself (or being hauled) up the muddy bank and then a final steep little dash back past the Golden Fleece (Thai food and guest ales) to the finish on the village green.

River crossing
This is a glorious cross country run with a quite silly ending. I tried hard to keep up with the friends I was running with and this pushed me on to a PB for this 5.4 mile run by 70secs in 43:50. Early finishers can grab a pint at the Golden Fleece and salute the later runners as they scramble out of the river. Extra cheers can be had for impressive diving skills!


Elstead – the lighter side of “marathon” running.

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July 1st/2nd – SJ Weekend Run Down

More sunshine this weekend and plenty of running and race action with all sorts of events from evening marathons to team relays…

Friday night saw the Elstead Marathon, a special marathon on a tough but slightly short course at 5.4 miles with a water crossing close to the finish. Richard Boese and Martin Gould represented at the unique summer event.

A normal week of Parkruns with all three local venues in action. Frimley Lodge was the most popular with twelve members toeing the line out of 475 runners. Dave O’Toole had yet another great run in his 152th Parkrun to finish first for the club in 22:10. Alan Kirby continues to improve posting his best time since 2015 with Royston Crandley and Sarah Alexander also running strongly.

Over at Bracknell a quartet of SJs were led home by Patrick Wadsworth in 24:42 en route by bike to the Runnymede Relays in Windsor Great Park.

John King led six club members home at Rushmoor with a great time of 21:41 his best time at Rushmoor in over a year. Nigel Evans and Dave Bartlett finished next with Dave logging his best time since February as his injury recovery continues well.

Harvey Young sampled the Woodley course this weekend and went home with an outright Parkrun PB of 28:10. Well done Harvey!

Just a couple of Parkrun tourists this week but one which involved air travel as Charlie St Aubyn ran in Warsaw, Poland. Will Lucas was in action at Seaton Parkrun.

Don’t forget to add Sandhurst Joggers as your club in your Parkrun profile to help us keep track of your achievements.

SAM 10k

John Tzanetis took to the start of a 10k for the first time in a while at the Bracknell Samaritans 10k event where the course was focused around Jennetts Park on the edge of Bracknell. Consistent pacing saw him finish in a very creditable 52:04. Pure Beginners from last year Margaret Wakeling & Anna Marie also ran and it was Margaret’s first medal, as she was injured when the group ran their first 10k in February. Well done to all three of you!

Runnymede Relays saw six teams of six with a large crowd of supporters congregate in Windsor Great Park for an afternoon of baton action. With half of each team running the longer 8.5km course and the other runners covering the 4.3km short loop, team strategy as well as out and out speed was a very important consideration. We’ll have full reports later in the week when all the results are available. In the meantime SJ Team A battled in a very tight race where second, third, fourth and fifth positions were swapped on a lap by lap basis. With many team saving their superstars for the final short lap, The SJs had to be happy with 5th place overall and the satisfaction of being in the mix in a close and highly entertaining race.

Sadly the Bounders Relay scheduled for later in July has been cancelled due to issues with land use which have affected the Crowthorne Woods course.

Sunday saw Leon Hicks back on the ‘Quest’ completing another 26.2 miles at the Need For Speed marathon near Buntingford. Leon was keen to get back into 26.2 mile action having endured 2 weeks without a marathon!

New faces on the Strava leaderboard podium this week with Ian McCready taking the top spot with a huge 123.7km. Andrew Brooks took second with 65.9km as he ramps up for the New Forest Marathon in August and Lina Johnson third with 60.3km as she prepares for an Ultra later in July. Sixty-five members logged runs 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.

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

Monday: Patrick will be leading the usual Monday night chatfest leaving Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm.

Tuesday: It’s the first Tuesday of the month so the runs will start from The Morgan Rec in Crowthorne at 6:30pm and will sample some different trails. Later the interval sessions will meet at The TYTHINGS in Yateley at 8pm for some higher intensity efforts which are proven to make you faster.

Wednesday: We’ve a busy month ahead with the next Yateley 10k on Wednesday 12th July so July’s Handicap will be held this week on Wednesday 5th July. Start is at 7:30pm from the Morgan Rec and for anybody who hasn’t taken part this is a great way to set a benchmark and track improvements in fitness. Don’t forget the post-Handicap curry is a great way to catch up with other members whether you have run or not.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the off road, Nikki will have more details later in the week and soon we’ll have a route schedule planned out for the rest of summer.

Friday: Track is still free and the THREE coaches have some great sessions planned for all abilities to improve fitness and technique. Lots of members have seen how improved running form has made their runs easier, faster and more enjoyable.

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.

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Swansea Half Marathon – Patrick Denston rang the bell for a new PB at this award winning half

When I book sporting events it’s very rarely because I’ve heard much about it, but because it’s an excuse for a weekend away. Swansea was no different; five friends and I booked the event around a weekend in Mumbles. Mumbles makes up part of the half marathon route and is as cute as it sounds!

Patrick Swansea half 2017

The race was on the Sunday so we all decided the best way to prepare on the Saturday was to go for a 9 mile walk on parts of the route and find the best ice cream shop (it’s Joe’s Ice Cream!) followed by a dip in the sea (a balmy 14 degrees!). Shortly after, the weather turned from dry and cloudy to very (very) wet.

The following morning we had breakfast and dressed ourselves in wonderful pink recycling bags. After being dropped off near the start line, we waited in our pink bags in heavy drizzle. I was assured by numerous locals this was a standard Welsh summer and not to worry.

Before the race I was very worried about a niggle I’ve been having in my calves, caused by a painful ‘Forest 5’ run only a few days before. In that particular race, I finished 6 minutes slower than planned, had several spells of walking and a marshal suggesting I should probably retire from the race from the look on my face. With this on my mind I really didn’t expect much in the way of speed on the Swansea half. I’d decided in my head to be happy with 2 hours but deep down believed it would be nearer 2:05.

When the race horn sounded the rain seemed to stop (in my mind it was instant, however it was probably a few minutes after) and we were off!! For the first 3 miles, I was running with an old university friend and after we’d put the world to rights, planned our next weekend away and agreed to go for lunch (beer) after the race we realised we were running ahead of the 1:50 pace makers. I was delighted but he was slightly concerned and went off ahead. When given the time to be alone in my own head I gave myself a full mental physical check… all was ok and the sun was breaking through the clouds! It was this moment I realised if I stayed ahead of the 1:50 markers I would get a new PB. I decided to go for it.

The Swansea half starts in Swansea centre and goes along the sea road through Mumbles and then loops round before coming back along the sea front. This makes for a perfectly flat route. As you’re running around Swansea bay for most of the route you can see the half way point and roughly where the start/finish line is. It also means that the supporters (which embraced the wet weather and gave brilliant support all the way around) can support people before and after the half way mark.

By the half turning point the sun was fully showing how beautiful the Welsh coast can be. This also meant more supporters and (finally) jelly beans! The support along the front ranged from people cheering from their balconies to a man in a Donald Trump mask cooling people off with his garden hose.

At the 9 mile marker I was certain of a new PB, this was the point I had to start pushing to maintain the pace I was running. The end of the race is slightly deceiving as the route goes over a few bridges, has a few twists and turns, and a cobbled incline. This made pushing for finish quite challenging as my legs felt like they wanted to stop but I knew I couldn’t afford to slow down now. The finish line is along the high street with fences either side and hundreds of cheering supporters. Like all runners I wanted a sprint finish, I could see the clock time getting closer to 1:50. This meant I had no choice but to sprint as fast as I could! I crossed the line on a clock time of 1:49:52! I’d done it! Pub?

Patrick Swansea half 2017 ringing PB bell

The Swansea half won an award last year for being one of the best half marathons the UK has to offer. I didn’t really understand what makes a great half marathon but this one was great! This of course could be romanticised by the new PB or it could be the excellent organisation, the great support despite the weather and the stunning views over Swansea bay. Either way I’d happily recommend a Sandhurst Joggers weekend away for it next year!


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The Wall Ultra – Neil Praine reports back from his 69 mile epic

Ladies and gentleman I am here to talk to you about the beast they call the Ultra Marathon.  After running a few marathons I decided I should give the ultra a whirl, after all, how tricky can it be? *insert nervous laugh*
So in December last year a friend and I signed up to run The Wall Ultra 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle. ‘Easy’ I foolishly thought to myself, ‘what could possibly go wrong!’  Word soon spread around the Sandhurst Joggers camp fire that some lunatic had signed up to run The Wall Ultra and he didn’t have a clue!  Kind SJs found me after the Bramshill cross country I was suffering after a mere 6 miles!, I was quickly sent to speak to the most wise and experienced long distance pro Max Woods. Max gave me some great tips and training began 6 months ago. Later on I read in awe as Graham ‘Meeksy’ Meeks smashed the London to Brighton Challenge….. and two weeks later it was my turn.
So how was it?…. it was a tough race! The first 50 miles were a real pleasure; enjoying the scenery, chatting to other runners and plodding along nice and quickly on pace for a strong finish literally just behind the elites. Foolishly I thought I had this in the bag with 18 miles to go and 51 in the bank I was on top of the world… then it all went wrong!
left right lef
At mile 51 the wheels fell of, my ankle began to hurt as the torture of 10 hours on my feet, the distance and the 30 degree heat started to take its toll. I went from being positive, full of energy and loving running to an emotional wreck. This lasted for about eleven miles and I seriously considered throwing in the towel, several times, as my inner running chimp started to grind my positive thoughts away.
As the sun started to set I took some time out and lay on the grass under a bush. I was a broken man and wondered why I was bothering putting myself through this. Fellow runners (complete strangers) noticed I was a mess and stopped and sat with me, we chatted and I even cried!  These kind strangers helped me back onto my feet and reminded me how far I had come. Pain is temporary, DNF is permanent were parts of the conversation and as I rose back to my feet such is the amazing kindness of the running community they offered to keep me company to the next check point.
At the final check point I had a cup of tea and a chocolate bar and my spirits lifted. With seven miles to go I bid farewell to my new found friends and they ran off into the distance as I limped (ankle now seriously hurting) to the finish it…. it took nearly two hours to cover those last seven miles as exhaustion and ankle woes had well and truly taken hold.
Despite the pain and emotional rollercoaster, on balance I DID really enjoy it and the satisfaction of nailing 69 miles in one day is great! As for my ankle it’s still pretty sore and I haven’t been able to run on it since, so the hopes of any performance at the next Yateley 10k have gone out the window…. but all that said…. it was worth it!