Howdie BRR,

Volunteers needed – in the 14 months since 5k parkrun was suspended, a new results app and processing software have been introduced. Added to that, there will be extra requirements when parkrun returns to ensure that events can be run as safely as possible. A few of us have tried the new app by volunteering at Junior parkrun but we would like to take advantage of the return of parkrun being delayed to have a dry run before it starts again in earnest. We’re looking for volunteers to come along to Barking Park with their barcodes at 9.30am on 5 June and run the parkrun course, so we can have a volunteer practice session. Note that this is NOT an official parkrun (hence us starting at a different time); it won’t be fully processed or count towards milestones though you can, of course, send in the time for (not)parkrun and Virtual Park Run. We don’t want or need masses of people, so please don’t advertise this outside BRR (Belinda, happy if your family want to come along). If you don’t feel like running but fancy being a timer or scanner, that would be great too; just check you have the latest version of the app on your phone (it’s the one where you scan your barcode).

Running in the News

If you thought conditions were sometimes bad at our cross-country races, spare a thought for the twenty-one people, including two of China’s top marathon athletes, who died after freezing rain and high winds struck a 62-mile mountain race in the Yellow River Stone Forest Park in the province of Gansu, north-western China on Saturday. The competitors had set off in shorts and t-shirts but the weather suddenly deteriorated at the 12-mile mark with strong winds, freezing rain and hail causing many to collapse from hypothermia. Others appear to have been killed by landslides or falls.

One of the dead was Liang Jing, who had won several ultramarathons in China in recent years and was thought to be among the best ultra-endurance runners in the world. The Gansu Province government has set up a team to investigate whether the organisers failed to take appropriate notice of the weather forecast.

In other sad news, running legend Ron Hill passed way on 23 May at the age of 82 after a battle with dementia. Most of us will be most aware of Ron Hill from his range of sports-wear, but he was a gold-medal marathoner in the late sixties and seventies. There’ll be more about Ron Hill in next week’s blog.

In more cheerful news, the athletics’ Diamond League kicked off in Gateshead on Sunday with several successes for the British women. Dina Asher-Smith was first in the 100m, finishing in 11:35 (SB). It was a British first and third in the women’s 1,500m, with Laura Muir finishing in 4:03:73 and Katie Snowden finishing in 4:08:92. Cindy Sember was first in the 100m hurdles (13:28) and Jessica Turner was second in the 400m hurdles (56:56 – SB). Emily Borthwick and Morgan Lake were second and third respectively in the women’s high jump. Naomi Ogbeta was third in the triple jump (14.29 metres). On the men’s side, Mark Pearce was just outside the medals in the 3,000m steeplechase (8:32:65 – PB), 0.62 seconds from placing third. Adam Gemili ran a SB in the men’s 200m (21:18) but it was only good enough for sixth place, with fellow Brit Tommy Ramdhan finishing in eighth (21:61 – SB).

South Essex Cross Country League

We all missed last year’s cross country series. The organisers have told us that – assuming restrictions are lifted on 21 June – they plan to arrange a fixtures meeting in July to decide the dates and venues for the 2021-22 series.

BRR in Action

Summer series 5k Handicap #01 for BRR this week, ran over the Barking parkrun course.  Cold and very windy weather greeted the hardy souls who turned out this week but at least it was dry.

Joyce Golder just held off Jason Li to claim victory in the first round. Nehal Patel was just behind these two in third place. It was a close race all round with 17 seconds covering the first nine runners,  six of whom finished inside their handicap time giving us a potentially even closer race in the second round on 27 May.

The last three handicap dates have now been agreed, so make sure you have the following in your diaries: 10 June, 17 June, 1 July, 8 July, and 29 July.

The handicap helped push some of our members to new (not)parkrun PBs. Ron Vialls was first over the virtual line in 22:11 (PB), Nehal Patel was second in 22:47 (PB), Belinda Riches was third in 24:35, and Jason Li was fourth in 26:00. Greg finished in 32:07 and Alison Fryatt in 33:28. I’d been wondering why Martin Page hadn’t continued his (not)parkrun winning streak until he posted on WhatsApp that he had damaged the ligaments in his shoulder in a fall at the Hylands Park cross country a few weeks ago. Best wishes to Martin for a very speedy recovery.

Four Barking Road Runner’s recorded times for Virtual Park Run on Saturday. Rory Burr was 7th overall in 24:02. Belinda was first woman and 9th overall in 24:35, Alison’s 33:28 earned her 38th place and Kresh Veerasamy was 42nd in 35:52. This week’s event raised £175 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

BRR Diary

Happy birthday today to Rachel Robinson, and tomorrow to Nikki Cramner.

7.00pm, Tuesday 25 May – speed development, Jim Peter’s Track. It’s the last Tuesday of the month so that means its the timed mile.  Please record your own time and then we’ll add it to the spreadsheet.  Followed by some 300s with 100m recovery.

6.45pm, Thursday 27 May – summer handicap #02, Barking Park. The clock starts ticking at 7.00pm. £1 entry per race, or £5 for the series, paid in advance. £10 prize for the first person over the line. Please be there on time so Greg the organiser can add you to the start list.

9.30am, 30 May – Hainault trail running. Meet in the car park by the Global café, Foxburrow Road. Variance distances and speeds!

31 May – BURP’s cycle, Rainham Marshes. Weather permitting. Further details to follow, but it will be a morning start and will probably involve tea and cake at some point. The pace will be very gentle, so everyone welcome.

7.30pm, 2 June – Dagenham 88 5ish ELVIS race. The race is closed for entries and the 5k times of all our participants have been submitted to D88, to decide which start group they should be in.

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:

8.00pm, Friday 25 June – John Clarke Memorial Fell Race. The only Category A fell race in Essex or within the M25. 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.

9.00am, 26 June – parkrun, various locations. We can but hope…

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 Lots of tasty Indian snacks for all competitors.

7.30pm, 14 July – Ilford Athletics Club Newman Hilly 5. A trail 5-miler through Hainault Forest. Details and sign-up at

9.30am, 22 August – Clacton 10k/Half. A nice day out if the weather is kind. Lunch in the Greek restaurant afterwards, if we can get a table! Information and entry at

Running Shoe Trivia

The leaders in the barefoot revolution, which brand originally intended their shoes for use on yachts?

Answer at the bottom of the blog.

Running Survey – Running Heroes

I’ve run out of running shoe trivia, so next week we’ll be starting a new series on running heroes. So, I thought I’d start by asking who is your running hero? It might be an elite athlete. Or it might be an ordinary runner like you or me. It might not even be a runner, but someone who has inspired you to run. Please let us know who and why via the survey link, below, and I’ll include the results in next week’s blog.

Cracker Corner

The Devon and Cornwall Reunion Music Festival has been cancelled. They couldn’t decide who should go on first: The Jam or Cream.

Barking police wish to alert local residents about the activities of the infamous cross-eyed burglar. If you see this man staring in your windows, warn the people next door.

A man from Dagenham has named his son TGF 308F. He said he may not be rich but when he eventually leaves his son his Ford Focus, at least he’ll have his own personalised number plate.

Talking of which, I’ve received an email telling me a long-lost relative has left me a valuable watch. I hope it’s not a wind-up.

How to run…downhill

After running up those hills last week, we’d better learn how to run down then again.

There are two common and opposite mistakes runners can make when running downhill. Some lean back and create a braking effect, which greatly increases impact forces on your joints and causes you to slow. Others lean forward too far, flailing down the hill out of control and causing unnecessary muscle damage in the quadriceps.

Runner’s World magazine recommends that you try to maintain a stride and effort that’s consistent with the rest of your run. Research shows that a slightly faster cadence can be helpful, as can avoiding over-striding (i.e. landing with your foot too far ahead of your torso).

  • On gradual to moderate downhills, imagine that you’re running on the flat, and aim to keep your centre of gravity perpendicular to the ground. Doing so results in a slight forward lean (as for running uphill, this should be from the ankles, not from the waist).
  • On steep downhills, avoid running to bouncily to reduce the impact on your legs. To avoid the risk of falling, you may need to shorten your stride and decrease your cadence.

While you shouldn’t flail around, there is no harm in using your arms to improve your balance, especially uneven surfaces. Just avoid accidentally thumping fellow runners as you do so.

And finally…

Every week I log into the admin section of the BRR website to draft the blog, and every week the website asks me to confirm that I’m human and not a robot. Every now and then it asks me to tick pictures of  ‘cross-walks’ or traffic lights – apparently being able to recognise a zebra crossing or traffic light makes me a human being. But I think it’s pretty cheeky for a computer to have the audacity ask me to prove I’m human, when it’s not human itself…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


Trivia answer: The running shoe brand is…Vibram

Vibram has been manufacturing shoes and boots since 1937 when founder, Vitale Bramani, patented the Carramato vulcanised rubber sole, which became popular with mountain climbers because of its excellent traction on mixed terrain. The first production facility opened in Albizzate, Italy in 1945. The company continued specialising in mountaineering and work footwear until the 1980’s, when they expended into leisure footwear. But it wasn’t until the 2002 when the Vibram Creative Lab in Milan, dedicated to the study of ‘creative concepts in rubber’, began work which resulted in the launch of Vibram’s most famous shoe, the FiveFingers, in 2004.

Vibram FiveFingers were originally targeted to yacht racers to maintain grip on slippery decks without compromising the barefoot experience. Their potential use as a minimalist running shoe was suggested to the Vibram CEO by Ted McDonald, a runner who earned the nickname “Barefoot Ted” for his unshod feet and successful career as a barefoot running coach. This was the start of the barefoot running revolution; for a time running magazines were full of articles about the benefits of barefoot or minimalist running shoes, and most of the large shoe brands jumped on the bandwagon with their own products, though none went as far as mimicking the FiveFingers ‘foot glove’ or second skin design.

In a report published in Nature magazine, co-author Daniel E. Lieberman (whose research was partially funded by Vibram) stated that “People who wear conventional running shoes tend to run with a significantly different strike than those who run in minimalist shoes or barefoot. More specifically, the ball of the foot should strike the ground before the heel when running (or walking) barefoot or in minimalist shoes. By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision. Lieberman has “emphasized that his research does not include data on injury or show that barefoot running is better for you” but that it is “a reasonable hypothesis that needs to be tested”. Lieberman et al’s study was an experiment that involved five groups of runners from Kenya and the US. The two American groups were adult athletes who had run with shoes since childhood, and those who habitually ran barefoot or with minimal footwear such as Vibram FiveFingers (mentioned by name in the study). The three Kenyan groups were adults who had never ran in shoes until late adolescence, as well as two teenage groups: those that habitually wore shoes and those that always ran barefoot. The runners were instructed to run over a force plate that was embedded in a 25-metre track, and were recorded during the run using a three-dimensional infrared kinematic system. These measurements were used to assess the pattern with which the foot struck the ground and how forcibly it did so.

Barefoot or minimalist running was claimed to encourage a more natural running style and this reduce the risk of injury, such as plantar fasciitis. However, if not conditioned slowly enough, especially when transitioning away from heel strike running or from wearing shoes with an elevated heel, some runners found that it increased the occurrence of injury such as Achilles tendonitis or metatarsal inflammation and fractures. One study found a greater number of new wearers of FiveFingers showed an increase in bone marrow edema than those in the study’s control group. It recommended transition to use of the shoe be very slow and gradual.

In 2012, an initial lawsuit was filed against Vibram over claims made about their FiveFingers minimalist shoe. Vibram claimed that the shoe “reduce[s] foot injuries and strengthen[s] foot muscles”. While Vibram has “expressly” denied “any actual or potential fault … or liability”, on May 7, 2014 it was announced that company had moved to settle the suit and agreed to set aside $3.75 million to pay refunds of up to $94 to anyone who had purchased the product since 21 March 2009.

In conclusion, there is probably no single running shoe that is perfect for every runner, and it’s a matter of – increasingly expensive – trial and error to find what best suits your individual running style; don’t just buy shoes because they are the latest craze or because your running buddy has used them with great success.


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