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Yorkshire Marathon – SJ Marathon Queen Lisa Hale gives us the run down on another great 26.2 option

The Yorkshire marathon takes place in October every year, and Stuart and I have run the event for the last 2 years, using the opportunity to make a bit of a holiday at the same time.  This year Stuart opted for the 10 miler, while I could not resist another go at the marathon, having enjoyed it so much previously.  The event is very popular, selling out each year and is exceptionally well organised with a ‘park and run’ which goes like clockwork from the local airfield to the start.  With accommodation generally at a premium in the centre of York, it’s better to stay outside the city and take advantage of this service.  Baggage storage is quick and the toilet queues are eerily quiet in comparison to London and Brighton!

We arrived at the start early, but we passed the time drinking tea and chatting to a fellow runner from Sussex who was hoping to better his Brighton time.  (He was focussing on a sub 3 while I was still deliberating what colour hat to wear!)  with my start being 45 minutes ahead of Stuart’s tea and toilets done I made my way to the start where the pens are well organised in time zones.  The countdown was done and we were off, cheered across the line by local sporting legend Dickie Bird.


Both the marathon and 10 miler start at the University of York’s Heslington campus, taking you on a lovely downhill through the historic city centre, passing through the medieval walls out of the city cheered on by the crowds.  There are plentiful pockets of great support along the way, punctuated by some peaceful periods where you can enjoy the scenery.  Water stations are plentiful, and high fives in abundance from the local clergy to brownies and cubs, and music and bongo playing to entertain.

The route travels through picturesque country roads and villages on a gently undulating course  before returning back to the University…note that the gentle downhill of the start becomes a monstrous hill to the finish!

I started off with the 3.30 pacer, but a look at the watch at mile 2 showed he had gone off at a rather ambitious 7.30 pace so I eased back and ran my own race, thoroughly enjoying every minute, in perfect running conditions, mild and sunny.  A tummy ache at mile 22 meant my last few miles weren’t as fast as I hoped, however still managing to sneak under 3.30 I was pleased with the result and still smiling as I collected my medal…even after all the marathons I have run I still like a nice medal!  The goody bag contains a nice t-shirt and some actual goodies in the form of chocolate and fruit and nuts…so something for everyone!

Yorkshire mara medal 2017

We enjoyed a celebratory free beer at the end (though sadly it was also alcohol free!) before hopping back on the park and run bus back to relax and look forward to a well-earned curry!



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Pieces of Eight – Gavin Loader smashes another distance down at Southsea

My own personal challenge to run every race distance this year rolls on. I’d originally planned to run 5km through to an ultra-marathon picking off the usual distances along the way [8km, 10km, 10-miles, Half, etc.]. But, then, a good friend mentioned an 8-mile race in Southsea. Heck, why not I thought. It wasn’t planned, but sounded ‘different’.

Plus [and hopefully I’m not the only person guilty of doing this] I checked the previous year’s results and thought I was in with a good chance of making the top10 [the shame]!

Whilst perusing the results I did spot something rather important, the race’s full title is: ‘The Southsea Pirates, Pieces of Eight’ race. It seemed there was considerable risk that at least one person dressed as a pirate, parrot or gold doubloon might be toeing the line alongside me. I dressed appropriately in my usual black shorts and black vest, and let my stubble grow slightly longer [Captain Blackbeard, maybe?]

…. erm, I was wearing my SJ top in spirit!


Anyway, what can I say, this is a runner’s race. Don’t enter for the fun and atmosphere. There is NOTHING to see or do except run in a straight line alongside the coast, turn on a hairpin and return. There are no hills; there was no wind, no rain; no trees and, frankly, the pace was so quick I didn’t look up for the sea-view once. Given it was 0945 on a Sunday morning, there were few, if any, crowds either.

Here’s what made it fun, though. The race was blended with the Portsmouth RNLI 10k [same start and finish, but diversion mid-way] which means it was damn near impossible to know who the competition was. I loved this. I just decide the best option was to run flat-out, assume everyone was in my race and hope some people turned off at the appropriate poPieces of Eight Gavint. It made for a very fast pace. In fact, I ran 3.40, 3.52, 3.55, and 3.56 per km before the 10k runners left me. As they did leave, I realised the gap to the next runner in my race was now massive, so I had to follow up with 3.51, 3.50, 3.49 and 3.47 per km to close the gap. It was more fun than it sounds.

In the end, I finished in 49.21 [3.51/per km average], picked up a 10km PB on the way and, ‘Shiver my timbers’, I got my top10 finish [6th placed, actually]. If you’re coming for the fun and atmosphere maybe give it a swerve, but if you want a fast race and a PB, this is it!

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Royal Parks Half Marathon – Phil Guy reports on another fine performance

What could be better than on a lovely autumn morning than to be invited to London to view some of the landmarks of our Great nation? However this invitation came with a condition, not an open top bus so I could eat doughnuts and drink coffee, the invitation was for the 10th Royal Parks Half Marathon, starting point Hyde Park at 9:00am.

5:45am was the earliest I have woken for an event, 45mins later and out the door full of granola and coffee. First stop Ruislip to park, originally Richmond but checked to find out no tube this weekend (good preplanning).  7:30am Sunday morning tube is quiet, there is a sprinkling of runners highly visible with assortments of bright trainers (is football coping this trend or was it original?) and their name labels proudly being displayed upon their chests.  We arrived at Lancaster Gate (London so many options) at 8:00am.  A peaceful stroll through the park lead to the festival area which was billed as the Food & Fitness Festival, this is where the masses of people including the 16,000 runners gathered. 

Being allocated a place near the start meant I missed the Alton Towers style zig-zagging around barriers. The starter was broadcaster Ben Fogle. First mile was great, running smoothly as we went out of Hyde Park, 1st mile clocked in 5:55 (PB) the first half of the course took as outside the parks past Buckingham Palace (didn’t see Her Majesty unfortunately although the flag was raised signifying she was in). The roads were clean and devoid of transport, like post Uber? Past Charing Cross at 5km timed at 19:20 PB, the winner (1:08) was already a mile in front! The race is deemed as green and with this in mind I tried not to throw my empty gels onto the floor, I landed one in a bin (a first); felt I deserved a time reduction bonus for that. By mile 6 after going pass Trafalgar Square and Madge again, it was back to the park, where the crowds had started to gather, big in numbers and noise, pass my girlfriend for the photo shoot, she braved the early hour to get here (thank you x). The sun was shining bright, glad it was only a half marathon or would have been too hot. The parks are amazing; it’s a fantastic route, and a brilliant event.


I finished 1:28:24 (position 270/16455, category position 30/1996). No pulled hamstrings (loads of physio before). The medal was made out of wood (very green). There  was a ‘goodies’ tent where you received random products including Shampoo, slim vitality drinks, teeth cleaning powder, ‘green’ cola and of course ‘randoms’ wow indeed, until I lifted my bag which I had to carry around London. There was a warm down area which was yoga, first time for everything conclusion – my body is inflexible I may need Yoga.  Then time to walk into the autumn sunshine… thinking next week I have to run a full marathon in Birmingham!

Phil drinks

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Bournemouth Half – Royston Crandley takes us right into the action

October the 8th proved a popular date for a mixture of races you could choose from. The XC season made an early appearance with the Metro XC sounding like a hilly experience.  Rushmoor 10k proved a good draw for some, although I enjoyed this race last year and proved a lot more interesting than I imagined, Aldershot never did float my boat so I opted for some sea, sand and running, I say sand, the nearest I got to the beach was the dusting on the promenade as we ran alongside.
I was collected by Dave Bartlett in his stealth vehicle, at the ungodly hour of 05:30, this was after I had a stand off with some local wildlife, no not the local drunks, but a rather large looking fox who was determined to hold his ground. Thankfully he scuttled away into the bushes, leaving the way clear. On route we collected Nigel Evans and we made our way down the M3 towards Bournemouth, admiring the gadgets in Dave’s Bat mobile.
We arrived in good time, the sun was still thinking about making an appearance by the time we arrived, Dave then impressed us with his ability to pay for a parking space via the bat mobile, there’s something to be said for good old cash.
Royston Bournemouth half strat sign
The start was just over an hour away, so time for the normal pre race rituals, no queues, great stuff. A warm cup of tea followed and then I met up with a colleague who I’d arranged to run with for the first few miles to help him run a sub 2 hours. Before we know it, we are penned and ready to run.
This was my first experience of the Bournemouth running festival, so the last thing I had ringing in my head was enjoy the hill at nine miles… Hill!?! I thought this course was along the beach… so OK, I’m pre-prepared for a mountainous climb. The race is off, we are making our way along the generic streets of Bournemouth… we could be anywhere… OK head down and pacing my colleague who seems to think he’s related to Mo Farah all of a sudden. Having run a few of these things, I know that very soon his legs are going to fall off, I quietly say, we are moving rather fast shall we sit back a bit, then we start down hill so he moves up through the gears.
I find myself moving just ahead of him, starting to relax into my pace enjoying some of the sea views as we continue through five miles, although actually I didn’t have a clue as I don’t recall seeing mile markers for each split. So where is the turnaround? OK here we go, whip round the corner, Alistair Brownlee always says use this as slingshot move, ping I’m round. This is when I notice I’ve dropped my mate by some distance, feeling a little guilty I ease up slightly as the road undulates a little, then he returns to sit on my shoulder, looking a little sheepish.
Royston & friend Bournemouth half
The best thing about belonging to Sandhurst Joggers, is the amazing support you get at these events, unfortunately for my colleague hearing my name numerous times must have been a little annoying – LOL! The Friday before I’d enjoyed a little bike ride with Fiona Marshall and Serena Gigg, now they are seasoned riders, I’m not, so 40 miles on the bike was not the wisest decision, so the hamstrings were starting to whinge slightly so I re-arranged my stride to try and stretch the hamstrings and not allow the mental battle to beat me.
My mantra has always been a mile at a time, and not think about the end goal. The sea view is suddenly filled with the pier as runners make the decking rattle as they pound up and around, but oh no, I’m going right and up this mystery hill, here we go, dig deep, dig really deep, don’t look and don’t be drawn into following the surrounding runners who’ve decided to walk, it’s just a hill the pain is nearly over.  The summit is conquered, “all down hill now” some one shouted, I never believe that quote, never.
As much as I love the sea, having spent several years floating around in ships, the promenade seems to extend in the distance so far that I resort to tucking behind runners around me so I can’t see the end. So I didn’t even notice the sparkling sea to my right.
The pier arrives, up the short incline, onto the wooden deck and I bounce along to the turnaround point, as I run down I start to look for my colleague. Then Dave Bartlett appears with my colleague sat right behind him, OK I’m no longer his pacer… sport mode time… time to finish this race. The final stretch, the legs are OK, I’m now using lamp posts for an ad hoc interval session, choosing not to look at the final pier in the distance.
Royston Nigel Dave Bournemouth half medals
I’d set the watch at 1:49, so my time and pace wasn’t showing, just a percentage, which proved helpful, instead of constantly watching the pace I focused on the time left.  I hit the pier and pushed, trying to catch an eye of my now competition and where is that finish line. “Sprint after the monument” someone called out, so they hid the finish around the corner. There it is, come on legs, lets go, push, one final push, feeling good, a little tired, but feeling ok. And the time, 1:48:58, job done.
Royston & friend Bournemouth half medals
My colleague achieved his goal, with a 10 minute PB, 1:54 so we walk away from Bournemouth with a sense of achievement, and a purple/mauve/pink box.
See you next year Bournemouth.
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Bournemouth Half – Mike Guess reports back from the south coast

The Bournemouth Half is a great event, especially if you are a Sandhurst Jogger – because there are so many people from the Club down there. In fact, it is badged up as part of the a “festival”of weekend running with all sorts of events taking place over the whole weekend.  I knew that some from the club (Graham, Mark, Dave) were actually running Saturday’s 10k and would be out supporting (with Jenny & Nikki) us less gifted mortals the day after.
Anyway, for lazy sods like me, the bad news about the Half Marathon event is the start time – 8:00am !!! In 35 years of running I have never done another race starting at this ridiculous time on a Sunday morning – perhaps the Race Director is an insomniac! This year I was travelling down with Ian Bromley who had kindly offered to drive with Fern Stonestreet and Ray Hale. This being my third go at this event, I knew that Ian would want to leave at 5:30am and plan to be pulling in the start area next to Bournemouth Football ground at 6:45am.
So it was that on Saturday night that I found myself setting the bedside alarm and pressing unfamiliar buttons on my clock – all necessary to make sure  I was conscious at 4:45am ! In reality, I hardly slept a wink and nor did anyone else as far as I could make out!
So, as planned, we rolled out of Ian’s at 5:30am in pitch darkness and made the journey down to Bournemouth on empty roads and at a good rate of knots.  However, there is something quite unsettling about pulling up outside a deserted Premier League football stadium (or anywhere else) at first light. Quite frankly,  you wonder what on earth you are doing there, and it is no surprise that no one wants to get out of Ian’s warm car, apart from those desperate for the loo. I think Fern had fallen asleep again as well.
As hundreds of other cars soon start piling in, you quickly realise that something big is happening and everyone needs to sort themselves out. All runners have their own pre race rituals and most of us are probably very similar. Mine includes finalising race clothes, putting on an old t shirt to keep warm and discard at the start, sorting gels, pre race water, checking shoelaces, warming up, stretching and the toilet. For me that final hour flies by, and as I make my way to the start area, I never fail to be amazed by the number of people still wandering in off the street in their coats with 10 minutes to go.
I have to say that the Bournemouth start area is one of the best I have experienced for a big race event. It’s easy to gain access to your pen and importantly there is no pushing and shoving. Plus the big speakers bashing out load pop music is also quite motivating as well.
Mike Bournemouth
Very soon the tannoy countdown begins and then we are away, as virtually everyone punches their personal watches. Almost immediately, we are into free running and I know from experience that the early part of this course is predominantly downhill and fast as we head to the sea. I also know that I need to hold back a little bit and stay comfortable, because it will get harder. I had been expecting to see the ever improving Jim Laidlaw in my start pen and had been wondering what had happened to him. At around a mile I found him – or rather he found me, as he tapped me on the back and cruised by and into the distance.
At around three miles, the SJs support crew (Graham, Jenny, Mark, Nikki & Dave) were out in force which was very uplifting for myself and I’m sure everyone else in the club.  It’s also great to see club mates shouting encouragement to one another  as the course doubles back on itself in a couple of places. In my case I shouted some abuse at Ray and I think he shouted something similar back – couldn’t quite hear it, but I think his words started with an “f” !!!  I saw all my car crew mates on route plus Dave Bartlett, Chris Szabo, Nigel Evans, Royston Cranley and one or two others that I can’t remember now.
At around four miles runners have reached the beach path. From here  it’s mostly a case of trying to maintain a steady tempo for the next 8 miles of mostly flat running, as the course goes up and down the seafront taking in one tough climb at around eight miles.  Unusually, the course also takes in a couple of piers, the second one of which is by far the most popular – mainly because its only 100 yards from the finish. I also find that the piers wooden floor boards feel good underfoot as they flex and give a bit of bounce to your stride. Well that was the case for me last year -this time I feel absolutely knackered and feel no benefit whatsoever !
Anyway, after a 13 mile slog I turn into the last corner. Immediately I can see that the finish line clock has ticked on to 1 hour 33 something and I decide there is no point in attempting a sprint finish, which I haven’t got anyway. As I cross the line I meet up with Jim again. He’s had a really good run and looks like he has been there for hours – in fact it’s three minutes, but nevertheless one of Jim’s best and a significant improvement from last year. Well done Jim !
As all the SJs start to roll in and gather to discuss their runs, I am encouraged to hear that several are pleased with today’s  performances. The other thing we are all pleased about is that the sun has finally broken through. For most now it’s a matter of collecting their bags and then off to find somewhere for breakfast… after all it’s still only 10:00am !
For my gang our chosen venue is the Beachside Westbeach Restaurant which Fern had pre booked weeks ago. Sitting outside in the sun and waiting for my full English fry up, it turns out to be an absolutely perfect venue. Not only to enjoy breakfast, but also to watch and sympathise with the poor souls out doing the marathon.  Because of their 10:00am start, they probably enjoyed another couple of hours in bed, but they are paying for it big time. It’s very hot and the sun is now blazing down and the guys we are watching are only at 18miles. Anyway, not to worry – my eggs, bacon, beans, sausage, fried bread and toast have just turned up – so time to finish this report and tuck in !  Anyone got the brown sauce ?
Bournemouth breakfast
Will definitely be back next year and hope the sun is still shining !
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Basingstoke Half – Jacqueline Hudson reports back from a great event made better by friends…

After completing my first half in May 17, I vowed to never do one again (but with a lot more swear words!) Not even a week later, I was signed up to the Basingstoke Half. The real challenge was then to rope my friends in too! But eventually with a lot of persuasion (some more than others); Julie Graham, Holly Dunn & Lucy Ong were registered. In the build up to the day, all we heard when Basingstoke was mentioned was how hilly it was.

full sj team

How bad could it be? We all agreed to meet early on the day, but due to flooding the free designated car park was closed, so we all had to find an alternative. I just hoped it wasn’t a bad omen for the rest of the day. We managed to all find each other, Lucy Ong couldn’t be missed as she was jumping around full of sugar, after admitting to having chocolate for breakfast and sweeties while waiting. (For anyone that doesn’t know Lucy, she really doesn’t need sugar).

It was a fab surprise to bump into Monica Burbidge, Monica had swept us in Pure beginners, ran with us for our first 10k, and now to join us for some of our first halves made it special. With a rather long warm up involving copious amounts of squatting, we were ready! The course began by leaving Basingstoke on a duel carriageway, after a few roads you were in the beautiful countryside, I have to say, I didn’t realise Basingstoke was as beautiful and scenic as it was. Yes the course was undulating and hilly, but the views were stunning!!

We had been training for weeks previous especially doing hill sprints, and I found the hills enjoyable and managed to run all of them. The support from public, volunteers & marshals were top class. There were people cheering and giving out sweets on every road and corner, it was lovely to feel such a part of their community and I was very happy with my official chip time (2:41:26).

Jacq and team

In summary, I really enjoyed Basingstoke. I would definitely be happy to run it again, but what really made it special was running it with my friends, we supported each other and all got round. I actually can’t wait to book my next half!

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 7th/8th October – SJ Weekend Run Down

Another very busy weekend of running for club members.

Starting with Parkrun… Bracknell saw a great run from Fiona Slevin-Brown as she was 1st female, 21st overall and first SJ to finish as she came home in 22:55, not far off her Bracknell best of 21:34 set on the old faster course. Martin Steadman finished just three seconds later. More great runs from Jane Bannister and Harvey Young who both recorded Bracknell PBs.
The Sandhurst tandem of Jon Payne and Jim Laidlaw finished in 20:51 at Frimley Lodge. More great runs from the seven other members in action including Gareth Hopkins Who was just one second outside his best with 30:32.

On the tourist trail, Lisa Hale and Stuart Overhill tackled Humber Bridge Parkrun ahead of the Yorkshire Marathon and 10 Miler. Yvette Glacken ran Luton Wardown, John Tovell Crane Park and Sharon Conquer had a rewarding experience as tailrunner at Northampton.

Richard Boese doubled down on the dual Phoenix ‘It’s a Numbers Game’ marathons on both Saturday and Sunday. He was joined on the Saturday by Marathon master Leon Hicks and Lance King. Richard overcame fatigue and the flu to finish day 1 in 5:34:10 for 40th position. Leon was 45th in 5:48:52 and Lance 51st in 6:07:55.

Sunday saw Day 2 which was a challenging run for Richard as he suffered with knee trouble but he practised his ultra resiliance and battled around to finish in 6:07:51.

Three members thought two consecutive marathons were insufficient so took on the Atlantic Coast Challenge, three marathons in three days on a 78 mile course from Padstow to Lands End. On Day 1 Max Woods ran a superbly paved effort, climbing through the field to eventually finish in 9th position in 4:21:21. Patrick Wadsworth took a similar approach as he progressed through the field eventually sprinting it out to finish joint 56th in 5:15:28. Soon after Sacha Kendall-Woods finished in 5:32:25 as 18th female.

Onto Day 2 and the first measure of each runner’s recovery. Max recovered well to finish 17th in 4:51:44 although fatigue started to impact in the later stages. Patrick was super consistent coming home 57th in 5:30:41. Sacha finished in 6:03:57 to be 24th woman.

The third and final day saw Max Woods pick up the pace once again finishing the day in 6:09:50 for 9th position which netted him 8th position overall. Patrick Wadsworth finished the day in 9:04:09 to complete the challenge in 77th overall. Unfortunately Sacha didn’t finish Day 3.

Lots of members made the annual pilgrimage to the south coast for the Bournemouth Marathon festival. On day one a number of SJs toed the line in the Supersonic 10k which followed an out and back coastline course. Graham Robinson finished in 2nd position in 34:40 while Mark Fallowfield-Smith come home 12th in 37:51. Dave Breslin completed the SJ trio finishing in 47:30 to take 6th position in the 50-54 category.

Sunday saw the half and full marathons. Wayne Boardman recorded a great 4:44:48 in the full 26.2 miler despite very minimal training! In the Half Jim Laidlaw recorded his second fastest time ever as he was first to finish for the club. Mike Guess took 3rd place in the over 65 male race with another fine run. Nigel Evans was missed from the SJ results but ran 1:57:59 in his third half in fourteen days and Gloria Long ran strongly for 2:07:57.

Bournemouth half results

A massive turnout from members for the Wellesley Rushmoor 10k and some strong runs. A mix up with the results means Lucy’s time below is wrong but with ace detective work to locate the runner who swapped times with her she deserves much credit anyway.

Phil Guy had a superb run at the London Royal Parks Half Marathon finishing in 1:28:24.

Gavin Loader continued his run of great form in the ‘Pieces of Eight’ race along the coast near Portsmouth. He finished the eight mile course in 49:21 to take a brilliant 4th place.

Up at the Yorkshire marathon and 10 miler, Lisa Hale ran 3:29:33 for 9th postion in her category at the marathon while Stuart Overhill scored a 10 miler PB with 1:11:03.

This year the Thames Valley Cross Country league starts a month earlier than usual with the Metros hosting round one on the twisting and looping Hillingdon course. With many of the regular counters missing this time, the team were bolstered by a number of new and returning members and the full contingent put in strong performances on the demanding course which mixed inclines and cambers with unusual-for-XC clement conditions. We’ll have a full report later in the week…

Another busy week on Strava with sixty-nine members logging runs this week. To take part in this just create a free Strava account and link it to the club in your profile. Here’s the top 10 from last week:-

Strava Leaderboard Oct 9th

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 (hopefully after 3 marathons in 3 days!!!) will be leading the usual 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.

Tuesday: 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. Later the interval sessions will meet at The TYTHINGS in Yateley at 8pm.

Wednesday: It’s the second Wednesday of the month so time for the Handicap for members to track their fitness progress and establish a benchmark. 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. It’s still tight in the annual competition but with only three 2017 runs remaining don’t miss out on a chance to score points! All members are welcome at the post run curry at The Raj in Sandhurst.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the much loved ‘Crawley Ridge’ route as we’ve already completed a rotation of all the winter run routes. Meet at Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm.

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

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.