Howdie BRR,

Doesn’t everything feel better when the sun is shining? We were so lucky to have good weather for the final race of the truncated 2020-21 Chingford League series. I was very proud that BRR was able to field five male teams and one female team, when many clubs had difficulty scraping together a single team. There was such a wonderful Club spirit, thanks to all the runners, volunteers, and supporters. I think next season, if we can field more runners across all the races, we have a real chance of being promoted into the First Division. More about the race in Greg’s report, below.

BRR in Action

Another busy week for Barking Road Runners with the Virtual 5k handicap #06 and  the Chingford league finale in the form of a 2-mile relay at Central Park, Dagenham. This followed on from the Hog Hill 5k at Redbridge Cycling Centre on Easter Monday where there was some excellent running by a large BRR contingent with an 8th place for Jack Nixon and 29th for Joe Stacey from over 300 runners. 
Once again BRR were out in force for the Chingford League relays with six teams in attendance. The 2-mile course started and finished near the rugby club with a loop on trails in Eastbrookend Country Park.
The men’s A team ( Jack Nixon, Gabriele Grimaldi, Joe Stacey, and Darren Martin) finished in a creditable 5th place out of 15 clubs, pitted against some very strong teams in their race as were all the races, whilst the B team (Paul Withyman, Ron Vialls, Martin Page, and Rory Burr) finished 6th in their event. The women’s team ( Joyce Golder, Charlotte Owen, Debbie Coyle, and Belinda Riches) finished in 8th in their respective race. Everyone agreed it was an enjoyable days racing.
Virtual Handicap #06 saw Dennis Spencer-Perkins with 487 points rise to top spot in the series with Sophie Wotton 484 in 2nd, Charlotte Owen 477 in 3rd and Martin Brooks 476 dropping to 4th place. Only four runners managed to better their handicap time this week.
There were Personal Bests aplenty at Barking (not)parkrun this week. Martin Page was first over the virtual line in 19:37 followed by Ron Vialls in 22:17 (there must be something in the Essex water); Alison Fryatt continued her – slow – return to form with a new NPR PB of 31:53. Greg Adams also ran, finishing in a respectable 33:05.
Rory Burr was the only BRR member who did the Virtual Park Run on top of running in the Chingford League relays, finishing the 5k in 11th place in 29:17.

Hainault Forest

A few weeks ago, I included details of the Hainault Forest Restoration Project. I emailed the Project to ask about the facilities that are being put in place. Here is the answer:

New toilet facilities will be provided in the barns complex and the existing public toilet block will remain open. The Global Cafe will also remain open and continue to operate during the works and beyond, the site will benefit from two cafes when the works are completed.

2021 will see the start of work on site, beginning with the demolition and clearance of the old changing room block next to Foxburrow Barns. The impact of the pandemic has caused a few delays so far and has also put our activity and volunteer programme on hold for the time being. 

The farm will remain closed during the works and the animals will be able to enjoy new facilities when it re-opens in 2022. 

In January, our ranger team marked the official start of the project with the planting of an orchard in partnership with the Orchard Project Twelve fruit trees were planted in front of Foxburrow Cottages.  The apple, pear and plum varieties were chosen to match the old trees at Hainault Lodge and heritage Essex varieties, as well as just some very tasty ones! 

One of the fruit trees we planted is a very rare apple variety, grafted from a twig from a 100-year-old tree growing at nearby Hainault Lodge.  In 2016 The Orchard Project worked with Redbridge conservation volunteers to preserve the old orchard at Hainault Lodge.  Some of the fruit trees there were DNA tested to find out their varieties.  One was found to be a very rare variety and is not recorded in the National Fruit Collection in Brogdales, Kent.  The Orchard Project took ‘scions’ (twigs) from it and grafted some new trees, and we have planted one of those trees in the park.  We do not know the original name of this variety, so we are calling it the ‘Hainault Foxer’. This newly planted Hainault Foxer will outlive the original, and should live for another 100 years. 

In other Hainault Forest news…

Dottie Dear’s Almanac: April*

This month, your Committee is delighted to report that it has secured an exclusive interview with Dottie Dear, eco-warrior and New Age mystic, who lives in a tree house deep in the heart of Hainault Forest.  It’s unlikely that BRR members will even be aware of Dottie’s rather ramshackle abode, given that during regular Sunday morning runs they will be concentrating on tree roots and pot-holes as they run by the ancient oak that shelters her home.

We were keen to talk to the reclusive Dottie, in the hope that we could pass on to members some of her wisdom and in-depth knowledge of Forest lore. At first she was reluctant even to see us, but after a bit of coaxing, and subbing her a bottle of Bombay Sapphire [I hope that wasn’t paid for from Club funds! – Alison], she finally came down the rope ladder and met us at the base of her venerable sylvan dwelling.

As the sun sank, we sat in a circle and everyone fell silent as she began to speak.  Here’s what she said:

  • The size of the stick bears no meaningful relationship to the size of the dog who is carrying it in his mouth.
  • People will eat ice-cream no matter how low the temperature.
  • Footballs sometimes grow in trees.
  • There are no migrating toads: those little warning notices are really just a sneaky traffic calming measure by the Council.

And with that, she shimmied back up the rope ladder faster than you could say ‘Chip Timing’.  Weird or what?

BRR Diary

19 April to Midnight 24 April – The Furious 15. How far can you run in 15 minutes? For some of you, it will be over two miles; for some of us, it might be less than two k! Get out there and do your best!

7.00pm, Tuesday 20 April – Track night. Debbie will be taking the track session. It’s called ‘Triple Pairs’. I don’t know what that is but, if it’s anything like Debbie’s Instagram sessions, it should be tough but fun. She’ll finish with core and stretching. 

6.30pm, Thursday 22 April – Mayesbrook Park hill work. Meet in the car park opposite the Roundhouse Pub, Lodge Avenue.

26 April to Midnight 1 May – Winter Handicap #07. The final race in the current competition. 

7.30pm, Wednesday 12 May – Crown to Crown. I’m still checking the Crown to Crown Facebook page regularly to see if this race is going ahead. It’s great fun, and only a couple of quid to enter, so let’s hope so.

22/23 May Great Baddow Virtual 10. There is a charge to enter this race, but the proceeds go to charity.

29 May to 6 June (virtual) – The Vitality 10k.

8.00am, Saturday 19th June – the longest day 24-hour challenge. Run a mile on the hour every consecutive hour for 24 hours. Details here:

27 June – Sikhs in the City (SITC) Sunlight Dawn ’til Dusk races. Choice of distance from 10k though to ultramarathon. The longer races start at 8:04am, the 10k starts at 11:00am. Chris and I have entered the 10k to fill the gap left by the Horndon 10k. I think Colin Jones plans to do the ultra. Details and entry at One of the best things about SITC races is the free food afterwards!

19 September – Guinness World Record attempt 10K

Running survey

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote in last week’s survey ‘Why do you run?’ Everyone who responded said that running helps with their physical and mental wellbeing, which is no surprise, particularly after the difficult year we have just had. Three-quarters of respondents said they enjoyed it. If you’re one of the quarter who doesn’t perhaps have a think about why, and what you can do to make it more fun. Is it mixing up the training you do, or maybe taking the pressure off yourself? Just under two-thirds of you run for personal bests/achievement. And just over half of you run to experience nature/see new things, to get some ‘me’ time, or to be part of a community.


Three of you gave ‘other’ reasons for running:

  • Just makes me feel fantastic. Having run at a very serious level in my younger days, when not injured I enjoy it far more now
  • My “why” has evolved throughout time. From going out for a run to burn calories to building up speed to see how fast I can go and now running has become a way of life (along swimming & cycling). Getting my best performance still matters, but I feel I matured a bit and am looking at it in the context of life’s bigger picture. Managing a chronic leg condition which is invisible to others can make things frustrating at times, but I learnt to adapt and I feel grateful for what running has brought to my life.
  • Because that’s what I have always done.

Look out for another poll in a few weeks’ time. 

Running Shoe Trivia

Last week’s running shoe trivia looked at one of the newest trail shoe brands, Inov-8. But which trail running shoe celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2021? Here’s a clue:

Answer at the bottom of the blog

Cracker Corner

I was chatting to a spider the other day. Turns out he was a web designer.

Which French impressionist painter was the poshest? Two-loos Lautrec.

Boom! Boom!

10 Reasons your Neck and Shoulders Hurt While Running

No. 7 – Your body feels stiff all over

If you have plans for a longer run, but can feel the stiffness from yesterday’s training still taking hold of your muscles, put your run off for a few minutes and foam roll, then do some dynamic stretches/drills to warm up before hitting the road. If you’re unable to move fluidly, the tension will travel through your body and cause trouble not only in your neck and shoulders but elsewhere. The less pain you feel before your run, the less pain you should feel during and after your run. But don’t spend too long foam rolling before a race as it can relax your muscles too much. This article from the StrengthRunning website gives more advice on foam rolling:

And finally…

My Chris may be getting faster as a runner, but he’s also becoming more eccentric. He runs on the grass at Barking Park and has taken to going there a few evenings a week and tossing the twigs from his path with a litter picker, to remove trip hazards. Unfortunately, some of the local dogs think this is a great game and bring the twigs back to him. I just pretend not to know him…

Happy Running



BRR Chair

*Thank you to Greg Adams for the Chingford League Race Report, and to Dee Spencer-Perkins for persuading Dottie Dear to speak to the Club.

Trivia answer: The brand celebrating its 60th anniversary this year is Walsh Shoes, based in Bolton since 1961.

Norman Walsh was born in 1931, the son of a Bolton cobbler. He followed his father into the footwear trade and was apprenticed to JW Foster and Sons. His work was so good that in 1948 he was given the job of making the ‘Fosters De Luxe’ track spikes used by the GB Olympic Team.

In 1954, Walsh was selected to make shoes for Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile. In 1961 he founded his own brand, Norman Walsh Footwear, making rugby boots and cricket shoes amongst other things. In the late sixties he designed his first mountain running shoe, the Pennine Adder. It caught the attention of Pete Bland, a fell runner and race organiser, and they worked together to create the first-ever fell running specific shoe, the Walsh PB, the PB standing for Pete Bland rather than Personal Best! The shoe has a studded sole for extra traction on uneven surfaces.

With the growing popularity of road running in the eighties, Walsh released specialist marathon shoes, but it’s for fell running shoes that Walsh remains most famous.

The first accounted fell running race can be traced back to 1040 in Scotland, when King Malcolm Canmore organised a race in Braemar to find a swift messenger.

A fell is ‘a high stretch of barren moorland or mountain range, usually found in Northern England, though there is an annual fell race in Chingford organised by Orion Harriers. Fell shoes are designed to be worn on completely un-made paths and are made to fit snugly to stop the foot from sliding around on uneven and loose surfaces.


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