Apr 172015

Our intrepid roving reporter, John Grimshaw, is continuing his journey around the British Isles sampling 10K events. Here is his report from Dublin:

Stepping up the level to an international leg of my 10K races in Dublin.

Dublin is a city and Southern Ireland a country that I have never visited before and as we arrived late Friday night, once we had checked in to the hotel on the edge of Temple bar, we went straight out for food to a South African burger joint and the burger and sweet potatoes was just what the doctor ordered (as a night before pre race meal!)
The race was held in Phoenix Park, unlike the Dublin marathon which is held later in the year and in the city centre. Phoenix Park is the largest city central public park in Europe, according to the taxi driver!
It houses a zoo, the american embassy as well as the home of the Irish prime minister apparently!

The race was an early afternoon race (1:30pm) which was proceeded by junior and toddlers fun runs.
Having fuelled up on a cheese and ham toastie and black coffee it was a short taxi ride from the city centre. We were dropped off on the edge of the park which meant a good 30 minute walk to the start area! DOH

At the start area, as you would expect from a major event like this, there were plenty of well signposted areas with plenty of toilets, bag drop and refreshments. The race start was cordoned of with Elite/club, orange/white/green/pink waves, in the white wave section was a saissor lift platform used for the mass warm up team. There was a great tannoy system that either played music or useful information.
Despite plenty of friendly support staff there were a number of runners in the wrong wave.
The elite and club runner women were first of at 13:15 then all the other runners were invited to take there places for a mass warmup lead by enthusiastic trainers, because they were on the sizzor lift most people could easily see them.
The Elite men were next to go, followed quickly by the club runners and then orange wave, there was then a 5 minute wait before our wave (white) again a further 5 minutes to the Green and then finally Pink.
The start was orderly and whilst you had to walk almost all the way to the start line you did manage to start running before the start line.
There was a well supported straight for nearly a km allowing the field to thin out before the turn at the top of the park. The route follows two main roads so there was plenty of space and they were closed to traffic, and pleasingly, from my point of view, there were only a few slow runners and even fewer walkers!
It was an undulating but main flat first 4 km before a long graduate decent to the water station just before 5km.
As by now the field was well spread out so no problem getting water.
Straight after the water station was the first of three fairly gradual but significant climbs and I still felt strong (these are normally my nemesis!)
The weather was generally good sunshine but a bit windy, that said we did have a brief hailstone shower just before the start! The wind was quite cutting but by the middle of the race this was quite a relief!
The race was televised and there were plenty of TV cameras around the course.
The 2nd half of the race was more up hill but nothing too hard, my second schoolboy error was for some reason thinking my running app would work when I didn’t have any data! (What was your 1st one?) I had switched it of being abroad, so I was not able to hear my pace or race time, so I had to go with how I felt, also I had been feeling a tight left calf before the race so I didn’t know how it would stand up to the race, pleased to say there was no reaction! Around the 8-9 Km mark I was still feeling strong and powering past a lot of people.

One guy I past asked if I minded if he ran with me, no problem I said…. Less than a hundred metres and he couldn’t keep up… Was feeling strong still running down the 800m home straight and there was one guy that tried to pass me …but not today burners on and at full speed it was hurting but was enough to burn him off and pull away, crossing the line I was so glad to see there were plenty of first aid and support staff to guide you of to the goodie bag collection point. Due to the last burst of exertion at the end, I did feel sick after I crossed the line but after a couple of minutes I started to feel fine and collected the goodie bag which included two drink bottles, various food bars, a T-Shirt and medal. You were then shown to the exit into the main spectator area and there were alphabetical flags which were arranged as meeting points which made it easy to find our friends after the race.

I came 840th out of approximately 6000, 39th in my age group and 1st in all waves except the elite/club runner/orange wave… Yeah I’ll take that… Not a PB but the fastest time this season at 47:18.

So a very pleasant and friendly race with the added value of a night out in Dublin with a few Guiness!! Just to replenish my iron levels of course (medical advice!).
I would definitely recommend the race and city (expensive but worth it!)

 April 17, 2015  Posted by at 1:20 pm Race Reports No Responses »
Apr 152015

This is one of my favourite 10K races (the summer one organised by Blyth is even better), and I was looking forward to it immensely as spring seemed to have arrived with nice warm weather. But this is the North East, so we woke up on Sunday to a windy, cold, overcast morning with heavy rain forecast for later. Still, needs must and all that, so at 10 o’clock I was one of a smallish group of Claremonters shivering in our vests and ready to go.

The first half of the run was into the headwind as we made our way out of Blyth and onto the sea front. I had started with Jeremy but was now watching him pull gradually further ahead as we wound our way through the dunes. It was starting to feel like hard work as I approached half-way, but the thought of having the wind at our backs for the 2nd half kept me going.

The wind-assisted return meant that I got back before the rain got too heavy, and, for once in my life, I maintained a fairly steady pace with my last kilometre being the same time as my first! I was well-chuffed to finish under 41 minutes as I thought those days were behind me. Overall an enjoyable event, well organised as ever by Blyth Running Club and one that I thoroughly recommend.

Position Time
113 39:15 Jeremy Smith
156 40:54 Tom Tinsley
197 42:08 Paul Robinson
198 42:09 Heather Steel
310 46:00 Ben Hull
326 46:31 Mungai Wairia
530 59:39 Dave Manners


Just a quick word to Paul Robinson – it was very good of you to run with Heather, but a real gent would let her finish first!

 April 15, 2015  Posted by at 2:01 pm Race Reports, Results No Responses »
Apr 152015

By Richard Slack

Marie and I between us have done The Great North Run (Marie five times and myself once) and Redcar (Richard) as half marathons. So with such vast experience we decided that we needed to enter a European city half marathon. Vienna was an easy choice for a number of reasons. The city is beautiful; the course is circular around the city; the route is predominantly flat and 25 years ago we had been to Vienna after we were engaged – what a romantic return! The half marathon is combined with the Vienna city marathon both setting off at 9am with a total entry of around 42,000 runners – and it is a run, no collection buckets, no fancy dress, just 42,000 people either running 13.1 miles or 26.2 miles.

The organisation of the event was excellent, and everything to do with the run was orderly and polite – even the crowds along the route – very Austrian, just right. The race numbers and timing chips were collected on the Saturday with proof of ID and race registration. We were up early on the Sunday morning and travelled to the start by U-bahn, which was located by the UN building at the Reichbruke bridge which crosses the Donau back towards the city. Getting there at 8am we expected already large crowds, but the build up was pretty gradual over the next hour so we were well towards the front of our allocated starting zones. Vienna uses six starting zones allocated by the times of your last half or full marathon and each zone is part of a staggered start. So despite the large numbers the course itself always felt no more congested than a Saturday parkrun on the town moor. This added to the enjoyment of the run immensely.

My plan was to target 1.45 by running four 25 minute park runs. The first 5km was over the bridge and then along through the Prater park past the Prater wheel before turning right towards the city. My first 5km and on track at 24.45 – although perhaps just a little fast and carried away with the start and running space. Thereafter the sun was shining and the temperature was rising into the low 20’s and my plan unraveled as my 5km splits drifted towards 26 minutes. Rather than chase the time I set a new goal of sub 1.50 and seeing how much under that I could achieve. The route followed the Donau canal into the city, along the opera ring (10km mark) before heading out towards Schonbrun palace (15km mark). The final 6km was on a slight descent towards the historic heart of the city at Heldenplatz – the square in front of the Hofsburg palace complete with victory arch – the finishing line. Maintaining a steady pace I was pleased with my time of 1.48.01 (a new PB) which takes me closer towards 1.45 for the future.

At the finish, normal post run water bottles, alcohol free beer (what nee proper beer like) and goody bag – although sadly no T shirts (these were sold separately). Beyond the finish area runners then milled around the Volkspark where in typical Viennese style I celebrated with a Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and a proper beer. Marie and I were staying at a hotel nearby so we had arranged just to meet back there. Like me, Marie enjoyed the run and the European air spurred her on to a half marathon PB of 2.11.28 celebrated with a Schnitzel sandwich and, of course, a beer.

A most excellent trip away combined with a half marathon and the start of a new Slack collection of annual European city events. Roll on next Easter! As for Vienna, we would both thoroughly recommend it is as both a half or full marathon. For a big event it is so well organized with a calm and friendly atmosphere in a stunning location and enjoyed by all.

 April 15, 2015  Posted by at 11:36 am Race Reports No Responses »
Apr 092015

Did you know that Claremont has a world record holder? I mean a proper world record for running? Neither did I, but we do.

The amazing Joyce Archibold holds the world marathon record for her age, achieved at last year’s London Marathon.


I’ll bet Paula won’t be running under 5 hours aged 78!

Well done, Joyce!

For the full list of marathon record holders by age, see here.

 April 9, 2015  Posted by at 8:29 pm Club News No Responses »
Apr 092015

I grew up in Croxteth, so when Sumanth told me that a parkrun was starting at Croxteth Hall, I wanted to go at the first available opportunity. As we were staying on Merseyside with my mother, Gill and I went on Saturday which was the 4th event on this course.

The Croxteth (Crocky to us natives) that I grew up in is mainly a 1950s council estate on the outskirts of Liverpool, that was bordered on 3 sides by the estate of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton, who came over with William the Conqueror. The land was out of bounds to us plebs and many a football was lost over the fence and across the River Alt. The occasional sound of gunfire, probably from shooting pheasants, was enough to mean that I was scared of trespassing and we generally kept out.


Croxteth Hall

Parts of the current Croxteth Hall date from 1575, though the main facade is early 18th century.  However, to me, Crocky Hall was just the big house in the trees that I could see from the balcony of my Nana’s 9th floor flat!  Then the last Lord Sefton died in 1972 and the Hall and land were left to Liverpool City Council.  Now teenagers, and with no more fear of being shot, we began to explore the estate, but were soon discouraged by the amount of building work as much of the land was given over to private housing developments under the name of Croxteth Park. Indeed one whole street was famously purchased by a TV company and became the set for Brookside.  The Hall was opened to visitors and the area aound it became Croxteth Country Park.   It is here that Crocky parkrun (it will never be known as anything else!) takes place.


The course and surrounding area


Me crossing the River Alt

The run itself is on a mix of tarmac paths and trails.  It is one lap, starting and finishing outside the Hall, though there is a section where you are coming back on the same path that you went out on.  It is flat and, apart from one short muddy stretch, ideal for fast times.

It was a lovely morning and beginning to warm up nicely as we set-off. The first section loops around a small field, passes the ornamental pond and heads into the woods and the muddy patch. The lady running next to me, also a first timer, said “I should have worn trail shoes!” but we were soon back on firm ground. We were starting to spread out and I was a few yards behind a grey-haired man who looked a few years older than me. Knowing that the age category record was within my capability, I thought that I had better keep up with him just in case. The course continued to wind through a mix of woodland and fields, passed a Riding School and back towards the Hall. The course teases you by turning right just as you can see the Hall ahead for a final loop through the woods. By this point I had opened a gap on my grey haired friend, but he was made of stern stuff and with about 200m to go, I realised that he was right on my shoulder. This made me push on and I held him off at the end. We were both very happy to get under 20 minutes.

A couple of years ago, I was down south when Liverpool played Everton in tne FA Cup semi-final.  I found a pub to watch the match and was eyed with suspicion by a young lady in an Everton shirt.  When I told her that I came from Croxteth, she asked if it was “shitty Crocky or nice Crocky?”.  I proudly replied that it was the former!  Croxteth Hall parkrun is definitely “nice Crocky”.  It is a lovely run and I highly recommend it if you are in the area (or just looking for some parkrun tourism).

 April 9, 2015  Posted by at 2:30 pm Race Reports 1 Response »
Apr 092015

The Richard Slack results service is extremely efficient, but I am questioning the accuracy and want a stewards’ enquiry into my 2nd lap time!

It was a nice night, mild with just a light wind which made a very pleasant change from the sessions over winter.  There was some very consistent running from those with chips.  Unfortunately we don’t have times for Roberto’s 11 laps.

Results here.

 April 9, 2015  Posted by at 1:07 pm Training Sessions No Responses »
Apr 072015

By Jeremy Smith

We were staying with my sister-in-law and her family, just outside Saffron Walden, for the first part of the Easter weekend and Judith and I thought what better to do than find a local parkrun. We had three choices – Cambridge, Wimpole Hall and Hatfield Forest – and we plumped for the latter.  Hatfield Forest, situated just outside Bishops Stortford, is owned by the National Trust and, according to its website, is the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete Royal Hunting Forest.

We arrived early and attended the briefing for parkrun first timers and tourists and found out that this was only their third parkrun and that they had two routes – one for Winter and the other for Summer – and, given that there had been a lot of rain, that we would be running the Winter route (given the mud – see later – I dread to think what would have been the condition of the Summer route).

The run starts near the NT Visitors’ Centre (which adjoins a lake) and then follows a gravel track for about 200m, before we turned left along another gravel track (full of water-filled potholes) that led, after a further 400m onto moorland.  At this stage, conditions underfoot weren’t too bad and we ran a further 300m before turning 180 degrees (a bit like we used to do for the Newcastle parkrun) along part of the same path before branching off until we reached the same track on which we had started (but further along).  We then gently ran up an incline before crossing the first of three cattle grids which took us along another gravel path to the edge of the NT land when we then turned a sharp right across country, stooping below the branches of low hanging trees and onto another gravel path.

We then passed over another cattle grid, along a forest path, before crossing a third cattle grid that led us to open land.  This was when the fun began – the recent rain had left the land caked in mud and we gingerly continued along to the four km point.  I was finding it really difficult keeping my balance but managed to maintain my position with the exception of one runner who was sensibly wearing trail shoes (although spikes would have been more appropriate).  The last 500m was run along duck boards – slippery when wet but treacherous with mud caked to my shoes. The route took us past the lake to a welcome finish outside the Visitors’ Centre, where they were serving hot drinks. I finished in a slowish 20ish minutes and Judith followed through a few minutes later.  The winning time was over 19 minutes – the conditions underfoot probably adding an extra minute onto times.

We both enjoyed the run – which had a higher than average proportion of young children – and found it good preparation for the North Tyneside 10km the following day.

 April 7, 2015  Posted by at 6:45 pm Race Reports No Responses »
Apr 052015

By Richard Slack

This has to be my favourite 10k – although I do have a tendency to say that after every 10k that I do. As so often with the NT 10k, the day dawned sunny with light winds making it for me a perfect day for running after the Monday night battles with all the elements over the past couple of months. After the grey skies and persistent rain that greeted us at the Good Friday relays, the lovely weather was just reward. As usual I insisted on getting to the Parks Sports Centre for the race start in plenty of time. Thus, Marie and I picked up Mary on the way at 8.30am and were parked up in North Shields by shortly after 9am for a 10am start. Milling around for a short while there was a decent showing of the light blue of other Claremonters.

The race itself is a real crowd pleaser of a route. After the first kilometer along the road from the Sports Centre it then heads down along North Shields fish quay before the steep up into Tynemouth by the Castle. This first section is all traffic free. Thereafter the run sweeps along beside the road from Tynemouth all the way to St Mary’s Island with wonderful views down to Tynemouth Longsands, Cullercoats bay and St Mary’s Island in the distance getting even nearer. Well marshalled throughout with a water station around the 5km mark where the Tynemouth plaza used to be.

After some good Monday night runs being pushed along by Tom I was determined to improve on last year’s time of 48.16. At the start myself, Mungai and John G. all set off together at a good pace around 7.30ish mile. And quote of the day being referred to by some other runners who were moving towards the back of the pack that we were ‘fast lads’ – sadly mistaken. I passed the 2-mile marker at 14.55 but then came the hill up into Tynemouth – just blast up it and think of the endless West Road to spur you on. After that I maintained pace around 7.30 plus and was determined not to let the good start evaporate. Beside me there were plenty of runners maintaining this pace so it was just a case of getting stuck in and keep going. The last couple of miles tested my fitness at this pace. However more positive thought – last Monday it was headfirst into a wind all the way from Highbury back to sports Central so this was a comparative joy – sunshine on our backs and the end in sight. I crossed over the line with my aim achieved and a time of 46.22.

Congratulations to Jeremy Smith for an excellent run of 38.55, 85th overall and ninth out of 136 in V45 category. And well done to all Claremonters – full results in link below. This is certainly a race to recommend but as with many good races it fills up quickly so watch out for entries for Easter Sunday, the traditional day of the race, in 2016.


85       38:55  Jeremy Smith
262     43:23  Simon Lowe
359     46:02  Mungai Wairia
381     46:22  Richard Slack
492     48:02  John Grimshaw
658     50:07  Luke Woodend
978     53:43  Mary Martin
1006   54:56  Bill Milbourne
1093   55:35  Bob Richards
1165   56:42  Leanne Salem
1184   56:33  Marie Slack
1203   57:18  Elaine Henderson
1245   57:57  Janet Palmer
1284   58:30  Julie Mains

 April 5, 2015  Posted by at 2:39 pm Race Reports No Responses »
Apr 052015

Newcastle parkrun:

19:26   Roberto Marzo
24:04   Luke Woodend
27:34   Dave Kear
29:50   Terry Welsh
30:27   Mungai Wairia

Sunderland parkrun:

20:39   Catherine Young

Gateshead parkrun:

19:56   Sumanth Nayak
29:51   Dave Manners

Bradford parkrun:

18:42   Luke Jones

Hatfield Forest parkrun:

20:28   Jeremy Smith

Conwy parkrun:

23:17   Julie Cross

Croxteth Hall parkrun:

19:57   Tom Tinsley

http://www.parkrun.org.uk – Free, timed, 5k runs every Saturday 9am

 April 5, 2015  Posted by at 7:29 am Results No Responses »