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TRC Weekly Bulletin – w/c 8th May 2023


Thursday Club Night Leaders

11th May : Walking – Val / 5k – Carol M / 10 min – Jerry C / 9 min – Kev V / 8 min – Hannah / 7 min – Ben F  (AGM night; routes may be a bit shorter than usual)

18th May : Walking – Val / 5k – Amel D / 10 min – Hugh M / 9 min – Jim W / 8 min – Mel W / 7 min – Peter C

Tea Rota                                                      

11/05: (AGM night) Mel Wilson / 18/05 : Jon Hall / 25/05 : Away Day Mob Match no Tea / 01/06 : Liz Baird / 08/06 : Steve Dimond / 15/06 : Lorna

More volunteers to do tea please. (you should only have to do once per year) See Arthur Renshaw



Monday 8th May 17.30 Berkeley 10k

NB: The steady Tuesday night run is back for the summer. 7pm top car park at the Leisure Centre. Usually off-road and 5k-10k. Distance, route & pace depending on who turns up.




During September and early October, the amazing Chris Foley has turned up at just about every major road race in the calendar to string together an incredible series of results.

When combined with his training efforts, he has surely run 500 miles. Considering the Proclaimers only walked it, and even then had plenty of Irn Bru breaks on route, Chris’ is surely the superior feat of endurance. Although walking/running 500 miles is losing its cachet as the ultimate romantic gesture. I offered to do it for my wife, but she said she’d prefer it if I just loaded the dishwasher and took the bins out once in a while.

I’ve already reported on Chris’ excellent effort at the Great North Run, with a run well inside two hours for the Half, and just missing out on a top-10 age-category finish.

Yet that was just a mere warm-up for the main event, the London Marathon, the capo de tutti capi of all road races. Chris completed the demanding 26.2 miles in under four and a half hours and flew the TRC flag alongside the wonderful Hannah Hamilton. Hannah was the deserved recipient of the club’s guaranteed marathon entry this year, and she made the most of it, and should be absolutely delighted with her sub 3hrs 30 min run which demonstrated just how well her training plan came together for the big day.

The lactate was still stiffening the sinews when Chris dusted off the daps and turned out on the streets of Bath for the long-anticipated and much-rearranged half marathon. A mere fortnight after London, Chris ran a brilliant 1 hr 55 minutes to beat his time set in Gateshead. Roger Glew also ran at Bath and should be very pleased with his 1 hr 51 minutes, which is a good two minutes quicker than his time at Bristol the previous month. The fastest TRC performance of the day went to George Evans – the Kington Kipchoge – who also improved on his Bristol performance with a brilliant 1 hr 23 mins 31 secs. This was an average pace, per mile, of 6 mins 22 secs.

However, Chris wasn’t done yet, and just seven days later, turned up at Stroud for what was, by all accounts, a foul day with howling wind and lashing rain. Yet Chris ran 1 hr 51 minutes to slice another sizeable slab of time off his effort of the week before. So there you have it, boys and girls, forget resting and tapering and carefully scheduling your efforts – just run marathons and half-marathons every week and you’ll get faster and faster! Until you get injured of course, but hey, this isn’t a coaching column!

The Stroud Half was the latest in the Pete Mainstone Challenge series, and aside from Chris’ heroics, there were some other excellent performances from Thornbury members. Nick Langridge was the fastest TRC runner on the day, running 1 hr 39 minutes, which for his age-category equates to an 81% score. It goes without saying that he was the winner in the category too. Nick is looking strong favourite to retain the overall race-series title he won last year.

Jo Plumbley was the only Thornbury lady to take part, and she ran an excellent 1hr 44. Not many of our ladies’ team have taken part in the PM Challenge this year, but with several races to go it looks like it could still be a very close contest to see who secures the title. Richard Jackson is improving all the time and he ran a fabulous 1hr 40 minutes; all the more impressive considering the conditions. Hugh McPherson was just outside the 2 hr mark but would still have finished high up in his age category.

Thornbury vs Chepstow mob match report

Generations of Chepstow children have gazed out across the shimmering Severn and wondered who was so rich and famous that they got to live in that Big White House?  The Mayor of Thornbury?  Arthur Renshaw?

So there was palpable excitement from our Mob Match opponents, Chepstow Harriers, as they turned out in force, excited by the opportunity to see this landmark abode for themselves.  Hopefully they weren’t too disappointed to discover it was a decommissioned nuclear power-plant.   Still, they must be warmly congratulated for turning out in such fantastic numbers for an away fixture in August.  Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and owner of Thornbury Castle, must be rolling in his substantial grave.  Although his efforts to keep the Welsh at bay have been somewhat undermined in recent decades by the M4 and M48 bridges.   

With the mercury still above 30 degrees at 7pm there was a suggestion that the Mob Match be resolved over games of petanque at the Anchor, washed down with ice-cold sauvignon blanc.  Instead after a very cursory ‘warm up’ we found ourselves assembling for a 5km dash along the Mad Max-esque bleached-blonde banks of the Severn, to the consternation and utter bewilderment of the slow-strolling dog-walkers.

Any thoughts that the run out into the headwind would be a cagey and tactical affair were immediately dispelled by Nick Williams charging off at 5 min 45 mile pace.  Andy Wilson’s usual race tactic is to run himself to the point of utter exhaustion, and then accelerate. He was the only other runner willing and/or able to pick up Nick’s gauntlet, and Andy pushed his team mate all the way to the finish line.   Nick a deserved winner of the 3 mile race in 16 mins and 56 seconds, with Andy a fine second place just five seconds behind.

Phil Blackburn has taken a well-earned holiday following the end of the football season, so was maybe not quite at his sharpest, although I wonder what would have happened if he’d gone with the leaders.   He still picked his way through the field to finish in 4th place overall, just behind the lead Chepstow runner, in 17 mins 15 seconds. Conner Vidal-Cocker is a relatively recent recruit to the TRC stable, but he already looks like a thoroughbred champion in waiting.  He paced his effort to perfection, pulling away from a cohort of Chepstownians, to finish in 5th, in 17:29.  Paul Harrod, who was a human parasol for a group of runners on the out-leg, also finished strongly in 17:47 to finish 7th.   At this early stage TRC were well out in the lead of the men’s and overall race.

Unfortunately at this point Chepstow’s weight of numbers started to tell, and they stacked the positions from 8th to 30th with just a handful of TRC runners bucking the trend.   That is not to say there were not some excellent individual performances within that mix.  Jim Godden ran a fantastic 19:32; Ash Blackmore ran 20:28, while George Evans in 20:32 and Asten Haynes, 20:49, are both recovering from injury, and should be heartily thanked for turning out to bag us some points despite both knowing they’d be far further up the tow-path if fully fit.

It takes a special athlete to beat the top TRC female runners, and so we should congratulate the brilliant Katherine Matthews who won the ladies race, and was 8th overall, in 18 minutes flat.  Such was the quality of performance from Chepstow’s leading ladies that Avon 10k road champion Lucie Wilson had to settle for 4th place, in a still fabulous time of 19:28.   Club road race champion Ali Vaz was second TRC lady, and 6th overall, in 20 mins exactly.  Jo Plumbley was brilliantly consistent as always to come home next for TRC in 21:34, just 10 seconds or so ahead of Natalie Bennett who had to sprint to the line to hold off a trio of fast-finishing Harriers.   Julia Jolley in 23:33 and  Ashleigh Ferris in 24 minutes exactly made up our top 6.   Despite these wonderful efforts Chepstow won the overall ladies competition pretty decisively.

Apologies that there is not the space to mention everyone who ran.  It was, without exception, a tremendous achievement to run in that heat and to score points for our team.  Even if a few sun-sapped and heat-addled later finishers mistook the picnic table set up 50 yards up the path for the finish line. Inevitably Chepstow’s numerical advantage meant they won the match, but our senior men definitely had the edge at the top-end of the field.   Perhaps we need to annex Berkeley to boost our numbers for future matches?
A huge thank you to Kevin Wood, and his family, and all those who organised this brilliant event.   Thank you to the marshals, and especially to Carol Mosses.   She was the sole person at the kissing gate, and not only coped with a wave of runners hurtling through the tiny gap in the gate, but even had time to set up a temporary traffic-light system to give priority to the faster-returning runners.   Which also meant that our Chepstow guests got a taste of the authentic Thornbury experience.  Thank you to the Chepstow captain for organising the chip-timing; that really enhanced the race, and meant we got the results accurately and promptly.   There was a warm and convivial atmosphere between the teams as we refreshed ourselves in the gardens of the Anchor pub by the light of the Sturgeon moon.  The Harriers returned home in triumph to Chepstow – or ‘transfluvial Thornbury’ as the estate agents call it in a bid to boost house prices.  But the best result of the night was the growing consensus that this fixture is now going to be a regular event in our club calendars.

PMC latest

TRC Bulletin for w/c 18th July 2022

Thursday Club Night Leaders

7min: Rob / 8min: Lizzie  / 9min: Kev C  / 10min: Jim W / 12 min (5k): Amel / Walking: Val

Tea Rota                                                      

21/7 Arthur – 28/7 Carol M – 4/8 – Malcolm Carr / 11/8 – Mob Match

What’s On …

  1. Thornbury 10k

Thanks to everyone involved in organising the 10k (Ros, Jo & Arthur) and to everyone who marshalled. We had 250+ entries and 162 finishers. James Harrod won and set a course record of 34:50.  This was the first year for this event so we would really appreciate your feedback. You may not marshal the same spot next year so comments on safety and traffic would be helpful please. For example, at the spot where I was the group of us had to improvise as conditions and traffic on a Thursday night were different from the Sunday morning trial. Any comment to

  1. Mob Match 14/8

Thursday 14th August Club night will be a mob match vs Chepstow. It’s a 5k in Oldbury to allow everyone can take part. Details here. Please enter here, we need your details for the chip timing. Run followed by (free) cakes and a beer (not free) at The Anchor, what’s not to like!

  1. Pete Mainstone Challenge Update

After 3 events in the 2022-23 Pete Mainstone Challenge Paul Saville is leading the Men’s outright table. The next four places (Phil Blackburn, Ben Bohane, Paul Harrod and Simon Pinnington) are separated by 5 points. In the Men’s age adjusted Paul is still in first place followed by Nick Langridge and Simon Pinnington. Only two ladies in the competition, so far, with Hannah in 1st place followed by Lizzie. The next event is 28/8 – Severn Bridge 10k. All results and next event

  1. Races?

If you have entered London Marathon, Great North Run, Bristol Half of bath Half please let me know so we can compile a list of Club runners for everyone to track on the day. Please send to

  1. Castle to Coast Tri

Castle to Coast Tri from Windsor to Brighton on Saturday 23rd July has 9 club members taking part. Sarah Newnes, Chris Pritchard, Natalie Bennett, Kevin Cundy, Jo Emerson, Claire Watt and Maria Hobbs are taking part in the full tri – 1.2 mile swim, 67 mile cycle and 14 mile run. John Watt (Swim), Joe – Ashleigh’s fiancé (Bike) & Ashleigh Ferris (run) are a relay team. Event tracker details not yet available. Good luck to you all.


Hogweed Trot – Pete Mainstone Challenge, race 2

Round 2 of this year’s Pete Mainstone Challenge took place in Yate – the only town in South Gloucestershire that simultaneously rhymes with ‘great’ and ‘party’ depending on how posh your accent is.

The Hogweed Trot is another impeccably organised local event that doubles as the Avon County 10k road Championships, and attracts a commensurately high-calibre roster of runners.

The organisers again claim it is a ‘pan-flat’ course – (is there a conspiracy amongst the race directors?) – but the roads are as rolling as the stir-fry wok at a hall of residence’s communal kitchen. However it takes place on quiet country roads on the edge of the town, with the final mile a gentle downhill to the finish on a cyclepath.

Andy Wilson is TRC’s Jason Kenny – no matter how fantastic his own performance is, all anyone wants to talk about is how amazing his wife is! I’ll come to Andy’s run in a moment, but first we must acknowledge Lucie Wilson, who ran a course record 40:20, to win her race and take the coveted county champion crown. Lucie is only an occasional runner with TRC – as she competes at a high level at netball – but after this stunning run we hope she might nail her colours firmly to TRC’s mast, and come and win a lot more races with us cheering her on. Mainly from some distance behind!

Hannah Hamilton also had a wonderful race, and finished in 5th place in 43:39. Strava suggests this was a 10k PB, but whatever it was, Hannah is racing well, with consistency, and is hopefully taking a lot of encouragement from that.

We had a strong turnout from Thornbury’s male runners. Phil Blackburn paced his effort to perfection, holding back slightly over the first 5k before marauding through the field to clinch a 10th place finish in a new PB of 36:51. The exciting thing for Phil, and for the club, is that he’s still going to get faster for at least a few more years, assuming he can maintain his obvious enthusiasm for, and dedication to, his training.

Andy Wilson set off as usual like a Diamond League pace-maker on a caffeine buzz. If his run last Sunday at the TRC championships was mesmeric, this effort was merely sensational. It’s possible the effort of six days earlier caught up with him a fraction, as he couldn’t hold off Phil on this occasion, but he still finished in 12th place overall in 37:09.

Paul Harrod was the next TRC male runner in 37:54, in 16th place, even though his chip-timer didn’t register. DB Max aren’t accepting his proffered explanation that his sprint-finish exceeded the maximum conceivable speed, so it is possible that the 10p metal chip was just a dud. Simon Pinnington had another marvellous run, and went inside 39 minutes with an excellent 38:46. The age-graded scores still need to be fed into Mel Lloyd’s SuperComputer, but it seems probable that Simon will score very highly in the overall PMC competition.

George Evans just missed out, yet again, on a sub 40 min 10k; clearly his in-demand work as a Samba and Salsa instructor might be taking the edge off his finishing speed. But he still produced another fine performance to finish in 40:14. George was just ahead of Asten Haynes in 40:21. Asten is another runner who is going to go under 40 minutes very soon, and he has another opportunity in the Bradley Stoke 10k later this week.

Tom Usherwood was next home in 44:29. I have a hunch that is a 10k PB for Tom, but either way he is running extremely well at the moment. Nick Langridge, who is as ever-green as the perkiest pine, ran 44:38, to take his inevitable, if still well-earned, victory in the V70 category. Chris Foley was second V70, and just missed out on a sub-50 run, with a highly creditible 50:43. Arthur Renshaw completed the TRC septuagenarian champagne trio, with 56:14. Paul Saville ran 46:43 and David Flemington 65:42 to complete this strong team performance from TRC’s men.

TRC 10k championships – and recent race round-up

If Arthur Renshaw ever invites you for dinner on Shrove Tuesday, you might want to think twice before accepting.

At the pre-race briefing for the Club 10k championships, Arthur assured us that most of the course was “pan flat” – which makes you question how much heat his kitchen utensils would transfer to the pancake batter!

In fact, the course did get flatter as it went on – and in my view Arthur and the TRC committee have found a fantastic route to relaunch the Thornbury 10k in July.    It begins with seriously steep climbs and descents out of Oldbury; on into the tiny hamlet of Cowhill (although I bet the estate agents still call it Oldbury-on-Severn); followed by bumpy bits in and around Kington, before a final two-mile loop on the outskirts of Oldbury that takes you back into the heart of the village for the finish.  It is a test of race strategy, as well as endurance, and it should certainly be possible to run a negative split if you can avoid the temptation to run too hard on those opening climbs.

A huge thank you to the volunteer marshals who made sure the event ran smoothly, and will help refine the plan ahead of the race later in the summer when we expect up to 200 runners to take part.

It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning, even by 8.30am when the first runners arrived at the Anchor Inn, where the race would start and finish.   You don’t normally see that many scantily-clad people congregating at a pub so early in the morning unless you’re about to board a flight to Malaga.   The Anchor management kindly let us use the outdoor toilets, and given the high percentage of middle-aged men taking part that was a mercy.

Jack and Rory Williams were there to check out the course on which they intend to win the 2038 edition of the race.   They enthusiastically rang their cow bells as we set off, and were still shaking them with undimmed enthusiasm an hour or so later when the final runner came home.  It gave the opening climb something of an Alpe D’Huez vibe, but fortunately their mum, Lizzie, had confiscated the orange smoke flares.

Rory and Jack already knew their dad was awesome, but Nick reminded the rest of the club of that fact, with a stunning run in 35:44, which I am told is the best 10k time by a TRC male runner in nearly a decade.  Nick could go at least a minute quicker on a properly flat course!

Nick led from the gun, and had already put about 10 seconds on the second place runner by the time we passed Oldbury parish church.   Before the start, I predicted the finishing order of the runners would be the same as at the top of that first climb.  But like driving to the very edge of Almondsbury village, it ain’t Over till it’s Over. 

Andy Wilson was second up the hill, motoring to his usual fast start, but showed how much his endurance levels have improved to hold on to that position, despite the quality of the runners behind him, and finish in 37:07.  Andy’s best run in TRC colours so far I’d suggest.

Phil Blackburn deployed a different strategy and was much more circumspect up the opening hills, and he was the only runner to come through the field, moving from 5th to 3rd, to record an excellent time of 37:22.   Sean Leadbetter did struggle slightly in the closing miles, but that’s all relative.   He was still fourth in 38 mins flat.   Ben Bohane continued his remarkable run of results with 38:11 in fifth place, although like Paul Harrod (39:02; 6th), is possibly at his best on the flatter road routes, and/or evening events.  Both were notably down on their Berkeley 10k PBs.

George Evans has the most elegant and efficient upright running style – honed by bounding hurdles topped with champagne coupes set out by his butler at his Kington estate.  George pulled away from Asten Haynes in the final mile to finish in 40:25, with Asten a mere 19 seconds behind.   Paul Thomas (42:11) and Pete Cable (44:05) completed the male top 10.

Ali Vaz was an equally emphatic winner of the women’s race, and also finished inside the overall top 10.   Ali ran a brilliant race and completed the tough course in 42:15.   Jo Plumbley – just a week after finishing another gruelling ultra – managed to outsprint Hannah Hamilton, and pip her by 44:50 to 44:54.   

Nikki Foss ran her overall 10k PB, which is a magnificent achievement.  She ran 51:54, and I am sure there is much more to come, as she has fractionally more time to devote to training now the demands of motherhood are merely relentless as opposed to all-consuming!  Congratulations to junior runner Abbey Bonnet for coming in 5th place in the women’s race in a fabulous time of 53:40, and for making sure her dad, Danny, didn’t get lost or get into mischief on the way round.

As the TRC committee decided that this would be a straight shoot-out for the club championship, there isn’t space to list all the results.  However please check out the website to see the full standings.  Many of the other performances were just as impressive on an age-graded basis, but we weren’t recording those on this occasion.

Finally, a brief roundup of some of highlights during the previous fortnight.

Ros, Jo and Natalie – the 3 Amigas – ran the 40 mile Stroud Ultra together.  Literally, ran it together, as they paced each other round to finish at the same time, in 9 hours and 54 minutes.   All very civilised, and each of them got medals in their age categories; in Ros and Jo’s cases it was gold!

Ben Bohane ran his first ever ultra, in Pembrokeshire – a race that attracted a high quality field from across the UK, and he only went and finished 6th!   Stunning run, for a guy I’m running out of superlatives for.  Well, I ran out of them a while ago, but just hope you’ll forgive the etymological recycling.

Mark West ran one of the best marathon races in recent TRC history, with an excellent 3hrs and 8 mins.   At the other end of the scale, Phil Blackburn was the first TRC member to race in a county 1500m track championship for quite some time.  In his first attempt at the distance since he was school, Phil bravely tracked the leaders for the first few laps, and while he inevitably had to descend into the pain cave over the last 400m, he still finished in a brilliant 4 mins and 33 seconds.   I am sure he can improve on that, and I’d also like to challenge Andy Wilson to try one too!

Highlights from the parkruns include, 14th May, a first place at Lydney for Dylan Roberts in 18:08, (followed by a second at Berkeley Green the following week). and a 19:06 PB at Severn Bridge for Simon Pinnington. 

On the 21st May, Jo Webster ran her 104th parkrun – which is a great achievement – and completed the Thornbury run in 26:34.    Catherine Dack was fourth women at Wotton (sounds like a Shakespeare play) in a new PB of 26:29, while at Severn Bridge, Richard Jackson equalled his course PB of 21:31, but given the windy conditions I estimate that to be a real terms decrease of 15 seconds.

Berkeley 10k and parkrun of the month race report

On Sunday, several TRC members had the privilege of improving their running technique under the expert eye of coach Shane Benzie.   However the early proof of that pudding was to be tasted the following evening, as they lined up for the Berkeley 10k, the first event in this year’s Pete Mainstone Challenge.

During the warm-up there were admiring glances from other club members as we arched our backs and locked our eyes on the horizon, like Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic; or cycled our legs under our centre of mass like Roadrunner; or placed our forefingers on our thumbs and drove our elbows back, like a Yoga Master bisecting logs with a tiny saw.

Sorry, maybe you had to be there on Sunday!

Anyway, Shane’s input has already borne fruit, as several members ran their course, or even all-time, 10k PBs.

It’s particularly hard to single out any individual in such an impressive, collective, set of results.  I’m tempted to award it to Hannah Hamilton who ran a fantastic 43.56, and finished 12th in the women’s race – the best overall result by any TRC member.

Yet how can we not applaud Ben Bohane, who, just nine days after racing a ludicrous 34 miles along the Pembrokeshire Coast, pitched up at Berkeley and knocked a full minute of last year’s time to finish in 21st place in 37.05?  That’s 21st in a race that attracts runners from across the region and was won by an outstanding senior athlete who was a former silver medallist in the English schools 3000m.  Yet again one wonders how fast Ben could run if he ever actually tapered for a race!  

So Hannah and Ben were the two stars of the evening, but they were by no means the only ones to produce an outstanding performance.

Not far behind Ben was Phil Blackburn, who will represent the club in the Avon county 1500m championships on Sunday.  Phil proved once again that his endurance level is starting to approach that of his jaw-dropping raw pace, and finished a mere 4 seconds further back in 22nd place.   Paul Harrod ran his 10k PB and finished in 37.22, 27th overall, and third VM45.

When I wrote last week that I felt Simon Pinnington’s form was so good that he could get under 40 minutes at Berkeley, I was intending to pay him a compliment!   This was a rough extrapolation from his recent parkrun performances.  However it shows how bad my maths is, because Simon himself was aiming to go more than a full minute faster!  Hopefully he doesn’t read these reports…  In the end, Simon ran a wonderful PB of 39.02, but such is the measure of his recent improvement, that he was a little disappointed.   He was fifth VM50, and 44th overall.

Asten Haynes narrowly missed out on running sub 40, but only by 10 seconds.  That was a very notable run, and Asten is another club member who is naturally quick, and is now building an aerobic base that means he can be highly competitive in the longer distances.  The same is true of Tom Usherwood who is racing regularly, and with great consistency, and should be delighted with his time of 44.17.

I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: a quick scan of the results might mean you overlook Nick Langridge’s performance.  He finished in 45.11, and for most of the race looked like he might get under 45 minutes.   That is still a fine run, but to do so while now competing in the VM70 age-grade is truly exceptional.  It goes without saying Nick won his age category race.

Paul Saville finished in 47.33, and sneaked into the top 100 of the men’s race by finishing 99th.  Kevin Wood had a busy weekend – running at the parkrun of the month, and attending Shane’s workshop.  Yet he once again produced a stellar performance to finish in 49.42 and fifth in age category.   Lizzie Williams was just  seconds outside the 50 minute barrier and a highly creditable 30th place overall in the women’s race.  Some of the club’s loyal and long-standing legends completed our line up.  Hugh McPherson 55.44; Arthur Renshaw in 57.10 and Mel Lloyd in 1hr 10.   In all cases they ran strong races and finished inside the top 10 in their age categories, so their results are entirely comparable with many of their younger teammates further up the standings.

The amazing members of Dursley running club put on another wonderful event.   I’m biased – I don’t think anyone organises races better than we do – but Dursley runs us close!  Once again, the good burghers of Berkeley were out on the streets to offer their support.   I’m always amazed how few cars are out and about – it really does feel like it is a closed road event, even though it isn’t!

Last Saturday was ‘parkrun of the month’ and we were back at Severn Bridge.   Sixteen members took part, which is a good number, especially as lots of us wanted to save our legs for Berkeley just two days later.

Andrew Darton was first TRC member, running a course PB of 20.28.   Chris Pritchard is improving noticeably and came home in his PB of 25.01 – so close to a 24 minute something time.   Jonathan Hall, 22.34 and Ashleigh Ferris, 26.26 ran the event for the first time.   

Congratulations to Kev Cundy for completing his 50th parkrun.   Hope he got a cheer from the Chepstownian locals for that achievement, followed by a chorus of boos when it was revealed he came from ‘that Thornbury’.   Kev ran with wife Suzie and let her finish 1 second ahead of him in 29.12.   Who says chivalry is dead?  Finally, the PB machine that is Carol Mosses – the Birkenhead Dibaba – raced to another personal landmark, finishing in 36.56.

Parkrun of the month – and recent race results round-up.

The ‘parkrun of the month’ has been an excellent addition to the club’s racing and social calendars.  Last Saturday’s edition was held at Chipping Sodbury, and I thought I detected some chattering teeth in the obligatory pre-race team photo as our hardy cohort braved the sub-zero temperature.

All the more impressive then, that several members secured PBs in the race.   Martin Coyle ran his fastest time at this event in 24:47, and was just a few seconds ahead of Catherine Dack and Chris Pritchard who came in together in 24:54.  Catherine and Chris have been quietly putting in some very consistent racing performances in recent months and it is fantastic to see ongoing improvements in finishing times.

Hannah Hamilton didn’t quite get a PB, but did secure a PTPB – a post-Toby personal best – and was still inside 21 minutes, and first TRC runner home in the race, as well as fourth female overall.   Richard Jackson went under 22 minutes for an excellent 33rd position, while Paul Reeves and Collette Jackson were just a handful of places apart in 23.40 and 24.04 respectively.   Kevin Wood, 24.17; Jay Bartley, 28.26 and Mel Lloyd, 34.12 completed a strong showing from the club.  

To complete this brief report, just a few highlights from other races in March that haven’t been properly acknowledged. Apologies if I missed anyone out!

Despite the rumours that their agents were deliberately keeping them apart, we finally got to witness the clash between 10 times Thornbury parkrun winner Nick Williams, and 10 times Thornbury parkrun winner, Ben Bohane.  The Duel by the Dis-used Paddling Pool.   Who would prevail, and earn the title of the Mundy GOAT? That’s ‘goat’ as in the ‘greatest of all time’; the Mundy goat is the horned ruminant occasionally spotted at dusk chomping on the allotment brassicas.

Ben continues to amaze with the regularity and consistency of his racing performances, and he doggedly/goatedly tracked Nick on the first lap, before Nick’s awesome aptitude on the ascents and descents made the eventual difference.  Notwithstanding the soggy corners in the far field Nick had to equal his course PB of 17.31 – the fifth fastest time in the history of the event – in order to shake off Ben.   Ben smashed his PB, running 17.54, and was rightly, and understandably, delighted with that.

The following week saw the youngest ever winner at the Thornbury parkrun.  Well done to Thomas Darton who won in a fantastic time of 19.10.   “He’s big, he’s bad, he’s faster than his dad…!”

Ros Rowland and Jo Plumbley are TRC’s version of Thelma and Louise, but happily they tend to run along cliff edges rather than drive off them.   This weekend they were separated, with Jo running ridiculous distances in Spain, while Ros took on the challenge of the ‘Axe to Exe’ race – a 20 mile trail run which is so steep in parts they have installed steps.  Ros covered that ground in an amazingly rapid time of 4hrs and 20 mins.   She was fourth in her age category, which is a great result full stop, but when you realise that these relatively rare ultra races attract national, and even international standard fields, then that is all the more noteworthy.

If Ros and Jo are Thelma and Louise, then Paul Thomas is Forrest Gump; his jaw-dropping weekly mileage burnishing a Rolls Royce aerobic engine.   Paul is preparing for one of these crazy Ultras that TRC members seem to enjoy, and so used the Forest of Dean Spring Trails half-marathon by way of warm up.  He was rewarded with a rapid time of 1hr 34 mins, which is exceptionally good on such undulating terrain.

Paul only narrowly edged out Henry Orna, who ran his best race for some time, with an excellent 1 hr 35.   Paul Clark went under 1hr 40, with Richard Jackson just the other side of that time – both fine efforts on that course.  Chris Foley continued his impressive series of recent results with a 2hr and 16 min time, which ensured he was inside the top 10 in his age category: the only TRC runner to manage that feat.   Emma Barnes was the sole TRC lady, and she ran 2hrs and 22 minutes.

On Mothering Sunday, Theatre Royal matinee idol George Evans allowed his wife to look after the kids for a change while he stampeded through the Lee Valley to complete the half-marathon in the fabulous time of 1hr 24 mins and 33 seconds.   That placed him 9th overall in the entire race, which is an incredible achievement in an event that attracted well over 300 runners.   

Doynton ‘Hard’ Half-Marathon race report

Not many people wake up on a Sunday morning in January, see slate-grey skies and frost on the ground, and decide to run a half-marathon through freezing rivers, steep escarpments and rutted farm tracks.

Yet TRC has more than its fair share of committed off-roaders, for whom the Doyton ‘Hard’ half-marathon is an inked-in fixture in the calendar, rather than cruel and unusual punishment to flee from.

Thornbury’s men definitely had the A-team out, and they were rewarded with a quite brilliant team victory, defeating even the mighty Bristol and West on cumulative time.   Nick Williams was the first runner home, in 5th place overall, in a fantastic 1hr 36 mins.  That would be an excellent half-marathon time on the road, so it beggars belief that he could cross that terrain at that pace.

Sean Leadbetter was the next runner home, in sixth place, just two and half minutes behind Nick, in 1hr 38:43.  Bear in mind that this was just seven days after Sean celebrated a magnificent second place in the Riverbank Rollick.   That effort must have told in the final few miles, so to come so close to Nick is a sign of how much Sean is improving as a runner for all terrains.  He must have a fantastic coach – and he does; it’s Nick!

But that is not all.   Just 15 seconds behind Sean, and in 7th place overall, was Ben Bohane.   Ben never seems to have a bad run: from parkruns to marathons he performs with incredible consistency.  His finishing time sealed the team competition.   Ben must have a brilliant coach – and, spoiler alert – it’s also Nick!

However, that is still not all.   Behind our triumphant triumvirate, TRC’s men continued to score highly in the remaining competitions.   Rob Watkins isn’t the sort of guy who turns up for mere parkruns, or those commercial road 10ks where they give you jelly babies en route, and doughnuts at the end.   Rob’s in his element on the slippery scrambles and the sapping silt and sludge, and he reminded us that he remains one of the club’s very best runners, by storming to the finish in 1hr 47mins, 17th overall, and second in his age category.   The male V50 team was completed by Jim Godden (1hr 51) and Paul Thomas (1hr 59) and they too were clear winners in their team category.

Congratulations to the remaining TRC male runners.   It really is a significant achievement to get round that beast of a course, and they did so in some excellent times.   Ian Evans, Chris Foley, Chris Pritchard and Kev Cundy were all within 25 mins of each other, while Hugh McPherson and Arthur Renshaw both managed top-20 finishes in their distinguished age categories.

On balance, TRC’s women have had the better of the men in recent major events, and even though they were behind the men on this occasion, it was only by a fraction.   Our top team of Hannah Hamilton, Jo Plumbley and Melanie Wilson finished second overall in the team competition, losing out to Bitton by less than five minutes.   Had Taryn swapped her camera for her trail shoes I suspect the outcome would have been different!

Hannah was ninth overall, in a time just outside two hours.   It is a fantastic achievement to get in the top 10 in a race of that quality.   Jo and Mel were 20th and 21st respectively (although with much higher placings in age category) and barely 10 mins behind Hannah.  Ros Rowland (2hrs 12), Sarah Newnes in 2 hrs 36, and Sonya Bryson in 2hr 45 were the remaining TRC runners, and they capped off another great overall performance from the team.

Cross country, the Rollick and the Doynton Half have meant fewer TRC runners have turned out for parkruns this month.  However it is worth noting a handful of highlights.

Tom Usherwood has recorded consecutive top-10 finishes at the Thornbury parkrun.   Last Saturday he ran 22:24.  Simon Pinnington has been busy: he won the Wotton parkrun on the 15th January, and was just a second above the 20 min barrier, which is very good for such a muddy, hilly course.   The following week Simon ran at the newest addition to the parkrun roster – the super-fast course on the Weston-super-Mare prom – and finished 9th in 19:05.  Simon is another TRC runner honing in on the ‘national standard’ 80% age-graded score.   On Severn Bridge, Jon Welsh knocked a full 40 seconds off his course PB, and finished in 24:30.

December parkrun results – and Pete Mainstone Challenge

Thornbury Running Club members dominated the local parkruns in December, with our tally of first-place finishers surely* a record. It has certainly capped a fantastic year for the club, and our thanks must be extended to the amazing volunteers who kept the parkruns going through the late autumn and early winter.

December 4th was ‘parkrun of the month’ at Severn Bridge. This was during those halcyon days before it became a criminal offence for runners to congregate and run alongside Welsh motorways. Apparently good ventilation helps prevent the spread of Covid 19, and so one would have thought the furious gales whipping down the Wye Valley would make the event “safe,” but apparently not.

Anyway, huge congratulations to Sean Leadbetter for winning the race in 18:25, thereby joining Laura Orna as the only TRC member to be first-finisher at this event which attracts a lot of speedy runners from across the region, due to the downhill finish and PB potential (wind-permitting). Alan Gatling was 7th overall in 21:37, and Nathan Darkin 9th in 21:52, surely* the only time we’ve had three in the top ten at this event.

There was a suggestion on the day that the M48 was closed to traffic, and concerns over a wasted journey meant that Hannah Hamilton decided not to make the trip. There then followed frantic calls to her agent from the other parkrun directors, before she elected to run at Wotton. Needless to say she surfed the mud in spectacular style to win her race in the aesthetically pleasing time of 22:22. At the Mundys, Ben Bohane came first in 19:37, leading, as always, from the first few strides, with Paul Thomas in third in 21:03.

December 11th was the only week of the month where TRC didn’t notch up a first-place at a local race. However Nick Williams won the Brueton parkrun in 17:42 – a fine victory in a field of over 200 runners. Lizzie Williams was just outside the top 10 in her race in 23:49.

Other notable performances came from Moray Sloane, 7th at Thornbury; Taryn Roberts, third at Chipping Sodbury, and homing in, once again, on the 20 min barrier, with 20:31; plus Kevin Arnold, sans 50kg backpack this time, with an excellent 12th place on Severn Bridge. However performance of this week must go to Simon Pinnington (20:46) and Gary Slater (20:50), third and fourth respectively at Wotton. Both men compete in an age-group that would merit a round of applause and a modest raise of the bat in a cricket match, and they showed the youngsters how it’s done by recording strong 70% plus age-graded scores. On a flat, tarmac course they’d both be mightily close to 80% I believe, which Parkrun UK says is ‘national standard’.

Jim Godden missed that mark by 0.03% on December 18th at Chipping Sodbury – that early Christmas glass of prosecco the night before counting against him in the agonising sprint to the finish. Still, 14th place, in 19:53, and as close as makes no difference to 80% age-graded score, is proof that Jim is running as well as he ever has. In the same event Catherine Dack just missed out on a top 10 finish, running 25:30.

Dylan Roberts won the Mallards Pike race in a brilliant 17:28, although with modest assistance up the steep bits from his canine companion. At Thornbury, the incomparable Clare Watt was first finisher in 23:39, also missing an 80% age-graded score by a fraction, but the heavy ground of the Mundys in mid-December, means she is significantly above that benchmark in reality. She was backed up by Richard Jackson (22:59) and Moray Sloan (23:12) who recorded top-ten finishes in the men’s race.

Christmas Day fell on a Saturday this year, and so it was fantastic to see so many parkrun events take place. Once again, we can’t thank the volunteers enough for giving up their precious time on this most special of days. The turnout from TRC members was also impressive, with over a dozen members keen to offset their pigs-in-blankets with a bracing three-miler in the mud.

The Watt family were at Warwick Racecourse, and despite the going being good-to-soft at best, Clare still came close to an 80% score with a 4th place finish in 23:55. John ducked under the 30 min barrier, and was allowed roast potatoes at lunch as a result. Poor Andrew Darton has had a miserable year with injuries, but still finished inside the top 10 at Hentstridge parkrun. Wishing him a full return to racing form in 2022. Finally, Chipping Sodbury always schedule their event on Christmas Day, and four of our most venerable members donned their Santa hats for this one. Nick Langridge doesn’t even take Christmas Day off from being awesome; he ran within a rounding error of an 80% score to finish in 22:03. Kevin Wood ran an excellent 24:30, Chris Foley 26:45, and John Francksen 33:20.

Finally, Dec 19th was the date for the Chippenham ‘Shortest Day’ 10k, and the latest event in the Pete Mainstone Challenge. I ran the ‘Longest Day’ version, which was held one sun-dappled evening in June, a contrast to the cold, wind and mud of last month. The course is a good one, but runners climb gradually for most of the first 9km and then you go sharply downhill for the final 1000m. The net effect is that you can’t go as fast as you’d like on the downhill, and the cumulative effort of the climbing means that this not a PB course, especially in the winter.

That makes Sean Leadbetter’s performance all the more remarkable. Sean was fifth overall in 36:25, beaten only by some of the most seriously committed club runners in the region. Sean was spotted in the pre-race photo sporting an outlandish woollen bobble hat that ought to have to led to his disqualification on sartorial grounds, but that fashion crime aside, he delivered one of the very best results by a TRC member across the whole of 2021. Well done Sean!

Nick Langridge maintained his Vadar-like grip on the top of the overall leaderboard with a typically consistent run of 46:71, second in his age-group. Kevin Wood just missed getting under 50 minutes, but was rewarded with a fourth place age-category result. John Welsh ran 53:19 and Carol Mosses finished in 80 mins.

*writer shorthand for “I can’t be bothered to check”.