Howdie BRR,

Two ‘proper’ races in one week – I’m feeling spoilt! Firstly, we had a fantastic turnout to tackle the tricky undulations of the Redbridge Cycle Centre in the Chingford League 5k at Hog Hill on Easter Monday. Then Martin Page and I ran the St. Clare Hospice 10k on Sunday. With the Chingford League relays coming up next Saturday, and more races returning to the calendar, it’s starting to feel like we’re returning to normal, slowly but surely.

April Committee meeting

The April Committee meeting took place earlier than planned, so we could discuss the ELVIS meeting (see below). The minutes include discussions about Club GPs, the Club ELVIS race, and Marathon points. You can read them here: 210409 – April 2021 Committee Meeting. You may notice that our Club Secretary, Dee Spencer-Perkins, has been having a bit of fun…


Membership Secretary, Belinda Riches, is currently sending out the 2021-22 membership renewal emails. Please check to see if your email has arrived (have a look in spam or junk if you can’t find it).

ELVIS 2021

Representatives of the ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series) clubs met on 12 April to discuss whether the competition should go ahead this year. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’ subject to the necessary permissions being in place. The provisional dates are as follows:

  • Dagenham – early June
  • East End Road Runners – 22 or 23 June (7.30pm)
  • Ilford – 14 July (7.30pm)
  • Harold Wood – no race (can’t get permission)
  • Havering – late July
  • Orion – 7 August (10.00am)
  • Barking – 30 August (10.30am)
  • East London Runners – 26 September (10.30am)

Dates may change, but please pencil them into your diaries for now. The competition will be based on the best five out seven races, adjusted if any of the races have to be cancelled.

BRR in Action

Following the successful age graded 5k it was a virtual age graded 10k this week for BRR. First place with an age grading of 79.04% and an age adjusted time of 33:24 was Martin Page followed by Ron Vialls 71.69% with an adjusted time of 36:50 and Antony Leckerman in third place with 69.67% and an adjusted time of 37:54. Belinda Riches was first female with 69.24% and an adjusted time of 42:55. The full results are below.

Alison Fryatt and Martin Page competed in the St Clare Hospice 10k,  an actual race with COVID restrictions in place through some picturesque Essex countryside. Martin finished in 2nd place overall in his age group with a time of 42:13, Alison finished in a time of 1:07:25. Both enjoyed their return to live racing. See the race review, below.

Belinda Riches was first overall at Barking (not)parkrun, with a time of 22:45. Ron Vialls was second in 24:03, and Jason Li was fourth in 26:15. Rob Courtier (30:54), Alison Fryatt (32:50) and Greg Adams (35:12) made up the BRR runners.

Belinda’s 22:45 earned her first woman and second overall at Virtual Park Run. Rory Burr was not far behind in 24:55.

Race Review – St. Clare Hospice 10k

Martin Page has been trying to persuade the Club to take part in the race for a few years and, having now run it, I can see why. The race HQ is at the Hospice, just off the M11 on the A414 going towards Chelmsford. This year, entrants were limited to 400, plus four wheelchair users in a separate race, and the race was supposed to be run under Covid-secure conditions. There were several different desks to collect numbers on the day, to avoid everyone queueing together. There were no water stations on the route, and trophies were being sent by post rather than being handed out at the end.

I can’t really say the social distancing worked before or after the race. We all lined up by marshals holding expected finish times then walked together down to the start line, so there was quite a big crowd. I hung back at the end and was thankful for my Astra Zeneca jab. There was a freezing 17k North wind but, on the plus side, it will have helped to disperse any virus that might have been present! Once we got going, everyone spread out.

The race was on open country roads, running with the traffic; definitely not one to be wearing headphones, even if they had been allowed. But all the drivers who passed were very considerate, and there was some support from villagers and cyclists along the way, which was really lovely. Some of the course reminded me of the Ingatestone 5, with wide grass verges and white-painted stones. We also passed some thatched cottages, village ponds, and nice country pubs – if only they had been open. There were a few gentle undulations but nothing to worry about; Martin thought the strong winds were the main problem. I took it easy and was pleased to run the whole way, managing to take over a few people along the way and move up from the last position that I started in to end up 302nd out of 349 finishers, in a time of 1:07:25. Martin finished in a much more respectable 42:13, second in the MV60+ age category behind Terry Knightley. The winner (James Bosher from Grange Farm and Dunmow Runners) finished in 32:57 and the last placed runner crossed the line in 1:53:10, so there was a good spread of abilities. The finish area, in the Hospice grounds, was a bit crowded, despite the best efforts of the race announcer to try and get people to spread out. On the plus side, there was an ice cream van which was a nice treat, but when did 99s start costing £2?

Overall, a good race on a pretty fast course through very nice surroundings. I agree with Martin that it would be a good sharpener before a spring marathon, and I hope I’ll be back next year, when the pubs are open!

In the ‘old days’ when we used to have a Club Forum, the race reports were always one of the most popular postings. If you do a race, why not PM me a race report, and I’ll include it in the blog?

BRR Diary

  • 12 April to Midnight 17 April – Winter Handicap #06. Some runners will be able to drop their worst result so there could be changes at the top.
  • 7.00pm, Tuesday 13 April – Track night. And we’ll be doing (two and a half minutes fast, 30 seconds recovery) x10, followed by some socially distanced 4x400m relays, as practice for Saturday. Let’s hope it’s a bit warmer than last week!
  • 6.30pm, Thursday 15 April – Mayesbrook Park hill work. Meet in the car park opposite the Roundhouse Pub, Lodge Avenue. Note the new, later, start time.
  • 11:00am (arrive by 10:30am), Saturday 17 April – Chingford League relays. Central Park, Dagenham. You must sign up by 6.00pm Thursday 15 April if you want to take part. Captain Rob is sorting out the teams. We must provide marshals too, so please come along and support if you don’t want to run.
  • 9.00am, Sunday 18 April – junior parkrun. If you have kids aged 4-10, get them along to Barking and Dagenham Junior parkrun. The free 2k run is starting again in Parsloes Park, Gale Street, Dagenham, RM9 5YX. Sorry, no adult runners allowed. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for your parkrun fix!
  • 19 April to Midnight 24 April – The Furious 15. How far can you run in 15 minutes? There’ll be an opportunity to run at track, if you really want to go for it.
  • 26 April to Midnight 1 May – Winter Handicap #07. The last in the current series.
  • 7.30pm, Wednesday 12 May – Crown to Crown. Fingers crossed.
  • 22/23 May Great Baddow Virtual 10. There is a charge to enter this race, but the proceeds go to charity. Nearer the time, we might look and see if we can run together. Watch this space.
  • 29 May to 6 June (virtual) – The Vitality 10k.
  • 19 September – Guinness World Record attempt 10K

 Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

No, not that Mud, though they were glorious too. I mean the type you find over at Hainault Forest or at Hadleigh. The latest edition of Trail Running magazine includes tips for running in mud, which might prove handy for the next cross-country season, or sooner if we have a rainy summer!

  • Physios report seeing lots of injuries at the beginning of each cross-country season, with runners using muscles they’ve not been used to using. Training should involve core and stabilising exercises and, of course, practice over muddy terrain, so you are ready for races. Practice makes perfect.
  • Be prepared. Check the weather forecast so you know what to expect. Very dry, rutted surfaces or frozen furrows can be even worse than soft mud and you’ll need to adapt your running accordingly.
  • Don’t wear white socks, unless you’re like Captain Rob and throw them away after each very muddy run (very extravagant).
  • Shorten your stride and try landing on your forefoot or midfoot which will make best use of the grip on your shoes. If you’re heel striking, especially when going downhill, when you slip you’ll end up on your backside.
  • Keep looking ahead, to plot your route and spot obstacles. If you look down, it throws your balance forward, making you more likely to fall.
  • Make sure your shoes are laced tightly or you risk losing them in deep mud. If conditions are going to be really bad, it’s worth parcel taping them on; it might look silly, but not as silly as standing in the mud fishing around for your shoes. But do take some scissors to cut through the tape when you finish!
  • Loosen up. Relaxing your body will reduce your chances of falling and hurting yourself. Give your arms and shoulders a shake every now and then to stop them tensing up. And use your arms for balance when going downhill – all the best fell runners do it.
  • It’s usually quicker and safer to run straight through a puddle, and it avoids ‘trail widening’ which damages the environment. But never underestimate the depth of muddy puddles, unless you want to do a ‘Vicar of Dibley’. If someone’s running in front of you, be aware of what happens to them when they run through a puddle.

  • Muddy runs will be slower, not just because you’re having to pull your legs from the mud, but because it will be stuck to your shoes, making them a lot heavier than usual. Don’t compare your times running cross-country or on trails with your road or track times and be disappointed when you’re not as fast.
  • Make sure you take a change of clothes; not just shoes and socks but a complete kit change, if possible, in case you hit the deck. You can get very cold very quickly in wet clothing, even in the summer.
  • Make sure you clean your shoes afterwards, particularly the soles. Either leave them to dry and chip off the mud, or hose them down. Stuffing them with newspaper will help them dry quicker and keep their shape. Let them dry naturally. Don’t put them in the washing machine to clean or on a radiator to dry; you risk softening the glue that holds them together, and finding they’ve shrunk when you next wear them.
  • Above all, have fun. If it’s a race, everyone else will be in the same boat and you’ll all have some good tales to tell afterwards. Have a laugh and ‘enjoy’ the experience.

Running survey

Why do you run? Do you even think about it, other than when filling in a survey in a magazine? Well, here’s another one of those surveys, to see why BRR members run. I’d really appreciate it if you could post your responses by Midnight on Saturday, and I’ll include the results in next week’s blog. Feel free to add your own reason(s), if none of the reasons listed rings true for you.

Running Shoe Trivia

It’s no surprise that the trail shoe brand ‘Inov-8’ took its name from the innovation that is put into its shoes. But what does the number that’s included in the name of each shoe mean?

Answer at the bottom of the blog

Cracker Corner

I was watching a programme the other day about the world’s strongest adhesive – I was glued to my seat.

Why don’t ants get sick? They have anty bodies.

Why did the scarecrow win an award? He was outstanding in his field.

Boom! Boom!

10 Reasons your Neck and Shoulders Hurt While Running

No. 6 – You have low mobility in your back

Tightness in the upper and middle back will mess with even the most ideal running posture, says Wickham. Sometimes this tightness comes from sitting all day, but it could just be the result of low flexibility and mobility, or even the way you slept the night before. Improving flexibility can help you maintain proper running posture and say goodbye to not only neck and shoulder pain, but pain just about everywhere. Here’s an exercise to increase mobility in the thoracic spine (the upper middle part of the back) which might help. As with all exercise, take it gently and stop if it hurts.

Try It: Thoracic Spine Rotation

Begin on all fours with your fingers spread slightly. Place left hand behind your head, but keep right hand outstretched on ground in front of you. Rotate left elbow to the sky while exhaling, stretching the front of your torso, and hold for one deep breath. Switch arms and repeat. This exercise works the back, chest, and abdominal muscles, and helps to improve mobility in your torso, while reducing stiffness in the mid to lower back.

And finally…

I’ve finally worked out where I’m going wrong with my running. I’ve calculated my Body Mass Index and it’s the same as Usain Bolt. Obviously, all these years I should have been sprinting rather than endurance running. I have a suspicion that Bolt’s body mass is made up of muscle rather than Lindor truffles and 99 ice creams, but he does like fried chicken, so there may be hope for me yet.

Happy Running



BRR Chair

Trivia answer: The number in the name of each pair of Inov-8 shoes refers to the weight of the shoe in grams. Inov-8 was founded in the Lake District in 2003 by Wayne Edy. At the time, the choice of trail running/fell shoes was very narrow. The first Inov-8 shoe was the MUDROC 290. It shot to fame when Melissa Moon, a New Zealand athlete, turned up to the 2003 World Mountain Running Trophy in Alaska with shoes not grippy enough for the muddy course covered in snow. She borrowed a pair of the MUDROC 290 from another runner and went on to win the women’s race. When she crossed the finish line she held the shoes aloft and told everyone how they had helped her win. Inov-8 has gone on to be at the forefront of off-road shoe technology, designing different shoes for different running conditions. It’s latest development is the use of graphene technology.

Graphene is a layer of graphite that is only a single atom thick but incredibly strong and flexible – in fact, it’s claimed to be the World’s strongest material. Inov-8 started working on the graphene  project in December 2016 with The University of Manchester. The two scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite at the university in 2010 have since been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Used in the soles of trail running shoes, graphene delivers sticky traction and durability. However, it comes at a price; the Trailfly Ultra G 300 max shoes pictured above will set you back £170, although you can test it out in the entry level F-Lite G 300 training shoe for a mere £105.


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