We’ve now entered step 3 of the Government’s roadmap out of the Covid restrictions. For athletics and running, this means we are nearly back to normal. Here is the latest England Athletics guidance, valid from 17 May:
Despite the good news on the EA front, we are still awaiting confirmation of whether adult parkrun can recommence on 5 June as previously announced. Parkrun HQ is waiting for permission from a number of landowners, with almost a quarter still to respond at all. Barking and Dagenham Council has given a tentative ‘yes’ with conditions attached e.g. there must be a risk assessment including plans to make people socially distance, and the start needs to be spread out. It remains to be seen whether parkrun HQ is willing to accept those conditions, and whether enough events have been given the go-ahead for parkrun to resume safely. HQ has said there’ll be an announcement on Friday 21 May. All we can do now is wait and see.
IMPORTANT – track news
We have been told we should no longer park within track, with immediate effect. Now that there are so many users at Jim Peter’s Stadium at the same time, the cars are thought to create a safety risk. The only cars allowed within track are three cars for ‘staff’. Please park in the car park adjacent to Barking Sporthouse. We will look to bring in one car so people can leave their things safely while they run.
We have also been told we should use the toilets rather than urinating on the premises. This is aimed at all the users rather than BRR in particular – I can’t imagine that any of us would be filthy enough to do anything other than use the loos.
May Committee Meeting
The May Committee meeting took place last Monday. The minutes of the meeting can be found here: 210510 – May 2021 Committee Meeting
BRR in Action
It was a quiet week for BRR this week before – hopefully – some real live races in the coming weeks. Alison Fryatt and Rory Burr competed in two Reunion 5k races at Kempton Park on the 15th. The races were organised by the London marathon organisers as Covid test events.
There were 2 races with about 700 people in each race and competitors in each race had to have negative Covid test before they were allowed to run. In the first race the runners were socially distanced. Alison took part in this race and finished in a time of 31:31 whilst Rory ran in the second, non-socially distanced event and finished in 22.49, his fastest time so far this year.
Six Barking Road Runners took part in (not)parkrun last week. Ron Vialls (22:21) and Belinda Riches (23:46) finished first and second respectively at Barking NPR. Jason Li (27:19), Bobbi Shaughnessy (29:03), Greg Adams (31:14) and Alison Fryatt (31:33) also recorded runs at Barking. Rory Burr recorded his 22:28 for Harrow Lodge NPR.
Three Barking Road Runner’s recorded times for Virtual Park Run on Saturday. Rory’s 22:28 earned him 5th place, Alison’s 31:33 got her 26th place, and Kresh Veerasamy was in 36th place, finishing in 34:51.
Race Report – Reunion 5k, Kempton Park
The Reunion 5k was a Covid-19 test event held at Kempton Park race course on Saturday 15 May, to gather data to support the safe return of mass participation events. Before There was quite a bit to do before you could take part: Both competitors and supporters had to take a Lateral Flow Test on Friday, so you could present evidence of a negative result before entering the site, and a PCR test on the morning of the race itself. A follow-up PR test has to be taken on Thursday, to check if anyone has become infected during the event.
There were two separate races on the day, one with social distancing in place and one without. I took part in the socially distanced race. After showing my negative result on my phone, I was allowed through into the start area, where you had to scan the event QR code and were regularly encouraged to use the antibacterial gel which was available in dispensers everywhere.
Runners had been divided into four groups based on expected finish times. When the time to start the race came along, we were trooped across to the starting pens, which was in the middle of the horse-racing track, with marshals encouraging us to keep our distance all the way. Then people in each pen walked around 100 metres to the start line, in two columns, with dots on the ground about two metres apart to ensure spacing. At the start line, there was a red/green traffic light and we were set off in pairs as the light went green. Of course, being runners, most people were looking down at their watches rather than the lights, and the compere on the microphone must have got a sore throat shouting at people to start!
The course itself was a mixture of surfaces; there were tarmac paths along the side of the track and around a lake, rubbery plastic sheets covering the areas of the track that we had to cross, which were rather slippery in the wet weather, and then a short stretch of loose gravel though a wooded area that reminded me of Hainault Forest, before we finished on tarmac again behind the main spectator stand.
The crowd was good natured and it was clear that everyone thought they were doing their bit to ‘help running events return’, which was emblazoned on the pink and purple medals which were issued at the end. I gave some encouraging words to a woman who was blowing up with 1k to go. She stuck with me, only to pip me at the post but said ‘thank you’ as she’d been trying to beat 32 minutes for the first time and my steady pace had helped her finish in 31.31, a couple of seconds ahead of me. Probably the first time I’ve ever paced someone to a PB!
ELVIS #01 – Dagenham ’88 5ish
Well done to everyone who signed up for the Dagenham 88 Runners’ ELVIS race on 2 June before it sold out. The BRR dream Team is below. It turns out the mysterious ‘Anonymous User’ wasn’t Ron, so I’ve guessed it’s a bashful Nehal. D88 have asked us to submit expected 5k times for our runners. Yes, I know it’s a 5(ish) mile race, but 5k times are good enough to decide start positions (lots of people won’t have 5-mile times). I’ve used the times that Greg has used to calculate handicaps for the summer series. If you haven’t got a time below, or you want a different time used, please let me know your current 5k time (don’t get too hung up on it). Don’t worry, it won’t affect your handicap!
- Greg Adams – 32:15
- Nabeel Akram – 26:33
- Cristina Cooper – 32:10
- Trevor Cooper – 24:09
- Alain Cooper –
- Rob Courtier – 30:31
- Alison Fryatt – 32:04
- Joe Stacey – 18:28
- Joyce Golder – 26:41
- Les Jay – 30:04
- Colin Jones – 21:46
- Antony Leckerman – 22:03
- Jason Li – 26:16
- Martin Mason – 27:43
- Martin Page – 19:32
- Nehal Patel – 22:58
- Daniel Plawiak –
- Belinda Riches – 22:38
- Dennis Spencer-Perkins – 27:19
- Kresh Veerasamy – 39:34
- Paul Withyman
7.00pm, Tuesday 18 May – speed development, Jim Peter’s Track. This week’s session is a long pyramid:
- 2 min run, 1 min recovery
- 3 min run, 1 min recovery
- 4 min run, 2 min recovery
- 5 min run, 2 min recovery
- 5 min run, 2 min recovery
- 4 min run, 2 min recovery
- 3 min run, 1 min recovery
- 2 min run, end
- 28 min effort, 11 min recovery, 39 min in total
Pace guidance is to run the efforts at around 5k race pace with your recoveries being run at an easy pace, or walked if you need to. The aim is to try and finish as strong as you started, so keeping it steady is key. Make sure to warm-up and cool-down properly.
6.45pm, Thursday 20 May – summer handicap #01, Barking Park. The clock starts ticking at 7.00pm. £1 entry per race, or £5 for the seven-race series, paid in advance. £10 prize for the first person over the line. Please be there on time; it will really help Greg as the organiser, and it’s nice to cheer on the early starters too.
9.30am, 23 May – hill work at Hainault. Meet in the car park by the Global café for a warm-up lap and then it’s up and down the hill by the café.
31 May – BURP’s cycle, Rainham Marshes. Weather permitting. Further details to follow.
9.00am, 5 June – parkrun, various locations. Hope springs eternal.
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: https://www.phoenixrunning.co.uk/events/virtual-p24-the-longest-day
8.00pm, Friday 25 June – John Clarke Memorial Fell Race. The only Category A fell race in Essex or within the M25 and, believe me, it’s not for the faint-hearted; 1,000 feet of climb within three miles. £3 entry fee on the night includes a free beer or glass of wine in the Orion Harriers club house for all finishers afterwards. Cheap drinks if you have just gone along to spectate (or if one drink isn’t enough after your exertions). Better start doing that hill raining now…
27 June – Sikhs in the City 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. Details at https://www.evententry.co.uk/sikhs-in-the-city-dawn-to-dusk-sunlight-ultra-2020
22 August – Clacton 10k/Half. The Club has run this once before. A nice jaunt along the seafront, with support from holiday-makers in their beach huts on the way, although the pier never seems to get any closer! We’ll probably have lunch in the Greek restaurant afterwards, as we did last time. Information and entry at https://www.nice-work.org.uk/races/clacton-half. Unfortunately, it clashes with the re-arranged Vitality Big Half, for folks who have entered that.
19 September – Guinness World Record attempt 10K
Running Shoe Trivia
Which running shoe brand started with a toaster oven?
Answer at the bottom of the blog.
Cracker Corner – Breaking News
- A cement mixer has collided with a prison van on the Movers Lane flyover. Local residents are asked to be on the look-out for 16 hardened criminals.
- A grandfather has gone missing after eating four cans of baked beans, two cauliflowers and a jar of gherkins. His family have made an emotional appeal for him not to come home for at least a fortnight.
- West Mercia police announced tonight that they wish to interview a man wearing nothing but high heels and frilly knickers, but the chief constable said they must wear their normal uniforms.
- A farmer in Essex has designed a new electric car. It’s powered by battery chickens.
How to run…uphill
I’ve yet to meet a runner who claims to like hills, but if you do road running or cross-country you’re bound to come across them at some point. And we all know hills are good for us:
- they can improve your running form by increasing knee lift, joint mobility, and neuromuscular fitness (how well your nervous system communicates with your muscles).
- they improve muscular strength (your legs’ ability to produce force) and power (the ability to produce a lot of force quickly).
- they provide an added cardiovascular boost.
You may have heard that the best way to get to the top of a hill is to lean into it. However, that doesn’t mean bending your torso at a 90-degree angle. Instead you should have a slight forward lean, with the lean coming from your ankles, not your waist.
The key to climbing efficiently is to use your normal running form as much as possible. Your stride length may shorten naturally, depending on the grade and length of the hill (and, on trails, the footing), but the essentials remain the same as when running on flat ground:
- Think about “running tall,” with your head, shoulders, hips, and ankles aligned.
- Look ahead rather than down at your feet.
- You’ll use your arms more as you lift your knees, but keep your shoulders and arms relaxed, and the insides of your wrists passing near your waist.
And don’t feel embarrassed to walk; research has shown that alternating between running and walking up a steep hill is an energy-efficient way to approach it. If it’s good enough for fell runners it’s good enough for us.
What made Usain Bolt one of the, if not the, greatest sprinter the world has ever seen? Perhaps, like me, you thought it was down to his extra-long legs, giving him a longer stride length than his competitors? Apparently not. The secret was…his big bum. A study by Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that the quickest male sprinters have the biggest backsides. The study measured 23 lower body muscles in 42 runners (five elites, 26 sub-elites and 11 untrained) and found that the gluteus maximus muscles in elite athletes were 45 per cent larger than in the sub-elites. Perhaps there is hope for me yet…
Trivia answer: The running shoe brand is…Altra. The name is based on the Latin word “altera”, which means “to fix or mend something that is broken”.
The story began in 1998 when Altra founders, Golden Harper and Brian Beckstead, met in high school in Utah. At that time, Harper was working at his father’s running shop called “Runner’s Corner”. He noticed that the stride and gait of barefoot runners changed when they wore traditional running shoes. He suspected that the heel height of most running shoes was too high compared to the height of the mid-foot or toe and began modifying traditional running shoes by cutting them open, removing padding from the heel, and then using a toaster oven and glue to put the shoes back together.
Harper recruited local runners and store employees to test his prototype shoe. He called the design “Zero Drop”. Co-founder Beckstead wore the prototype to run the Wasatch 100. At mile 94, with zero blisters and several hours within his previous time, it struck him that the show was going to succeed.
After mortgaging Beckstead’s dad’s house to raise funds, Harper commissioned a local cobbler to make 1,000 pairs which soon sold out, but the partners couldn’t get an established shoe company interested, so instead took the idea to venture capitalists (like the dragons in Dragons’ Den). The first properly manufactured shoe hit the US market in 2011 and quickly won several awards. Altra shoes are now made with natural, foot-shaped toe boxes, to allow the toes to spread, and they also make shoes with a specific women’s fit. They have also followed Under Armour into the world of ‘smart shoes’, with embedded sensors in the soles of some models which give real-time voice coaching. Altra has doubled its sales every year since 2011, but is still much more popular in the US than the UK.