Unless you’re a runner, you don’t really appreciate what a supreme effort it is to complete a marathon. It demands months of focused training, and even then it is almost impossible to prepare the body to keep moving forward at speed when glycogen reserves in muscle fibres are exhausted. There is a reason why marathon aficionados say that 20 miles is the real half-way point. At the end of the race you know you’re going to be walking like John Wayne for the next fortnight, and won’t be able to run at any serious pace for at least a month.
However, if you’re going to put yourself through it, then our capital city must be the place to do so. Congratulations to all the TRC runners for racing the London marathon: without exception you did yourselves and your club proud.
Yet special mention must go to debutant George Evans who smashed Rob Watkins’ all-time club record for the London marathon. George took part to raise money to help refurbish the netball courts at his daughters’ school. After his stunning 2hr 52 and 33 second effort they ought to name them after him. George’s progress in recent months has been staggering – and it was no surprise to see him record such a marvellous time, some 23 minutes inside the ‘good for age’ benchmark that London marathon organisers set as a target time for the very best runners in the UK to aim for. Dad of three, environmental consultant, champion runner, community fundraiser, Boden catalogue model…is there nothing George can not do? If he can find the enthusiasm to stick to this training routine over the next 12 months, is Nick Langridge’s all-time club marathon record of 2hr 43 under threat?
Hard to think anyone could better George’s effort, but Chris Foley came very close. He finished 43rd overall in his age category (which for a race the size of the London marathon is amazing) in a time of 4hrs 16 mins. He beat his own ‘good for age’ target by an even greater percentage than George did, which is in indication of how good Chris’ run was, and it is remarkable how consistently he performs across the distances.
Club captain Kevin Wood had prepared meticulously for the event, and more importantly raised thousands of pounds to support the Young Lives against Cancer charity. However his race-day began when the fire alarm was set off at the hotel and he was pitched out onto the street at 1am. Will these die-hard supporters of Chepstow Harriers stop at nothing? Bleary-eyed and weary before he started, Kevin still managed to produce an excellent run of 4hrs 12 mins. Not far behind him, Paul Reeves finished in 4hrs 25, Sarah Newnes in 4hrs and 28 and Sonya Bryson in 4 hrs 32. Mike Bennewitz ran a fine 5hrs 51.
Sunday also saw the rescheduled running of the Berkeley 10k, which was also the latest instalment of the Pete Mainstone challenge. It is a brilliant race, meticulously organised by our friends at Dursley running club. It starts and ends at Berkeley Green College (site of the old power station) and features two loops of the picturesque town, the highlight being the run over the bridge where fatigued runners can glance up at the Castle and see the window where the anxious King Edward II watched the 1327 edition of the race. It is a pretty flat and fast course, and TRC members took advantage to produce some excellent finishing times.
Nick Williams followed up his Bristol half-marathon PB with another stellar performance to finish in second place overall in a time of 34:57. From an already high base, Nick is still improving, and now mixing it with the very top runners in our region. Ben Bohane has a marathon next week, but still gave this race the Spinal Tap treatment, ratcheting it up to 11, and finishing in 38:05. Simon Pinnington also smashed the 40 min barrier, finishing in 39:15, and a clear winner in the MV50 category. Congratulations.
Phil Blackburn also has a marathon next week, and therefore soft-pedalled a little, but still pushed a big enough gear to finish in 40:14. He pipped Paul Thomas to the post by just one second. Jim Godden continued his strong recent form with 40:44. Paul Saville said his ‘lungs felt like old hoover bags’ but they still got him around the course in 44 mins. Nick Langridge consolidated his lead in the overall Challenge standings, and his 45:09 was the highest age-adjusted score of the day. Jonathan Hall finished in 45:50; Chris Pritchard ran under 55 mins; Richard Illingworth and Mel Lloyd took just over an hour.
The TRC ladies team also produced some fantastic results. Hannah Hamilton wasn’t very well, but was still the first TRC women home in 45 mins. 10km is really just a warm-up stride for Jo Plumbley, but this endurance specialist is still rapid over the shorter distances. She was the second TRC woman, in a shade under 47 mins. Emma Barnes was third women for TRC, in 48:49 and a brilliant second place overall in her age category. Clare Watt ran 49 mins, and would have been very high up indeed in her age category. Selina Slater completed a very strong set of results for the ladies team with a run of 52:39.
Despite all these outstanding results, the only TRC member to win a race this weekend was Chris Worrell, who was first finisher at the Minehead Parkrun in 18:51. Our cross-country team seems to get stronger by the week.
Conditions at the Mundy playing fields are probably now no better than good to soft, so any PBs from now on are all down to improved running performance. So ‘chapeau’ to 14 yr old Thomas Darton (19:49), Michael Owen (24:07) and Roger Glew (24:22) for setting new course PBs.