Howdie Road Runners,

It was great to take part in the first ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series) race for over a year last Wednesday. There was something special about racing against our fellow East London clubs, and seeing old friends/enemies again. More in Greg’s news report, below.

Things are starting to look positive for the return of parkrun on 26 June, with more and more landowners given permission for events to restart. The London Brough of Barking and Dagenham has now said ‘yes’ subject to the wider Covid restrictions being lifted on 21 June as planned, and no surge in Indian variant cases or other setback in the local area. Of course, there still needs to be enough parkruns with permission across England for the restart to go ahead. Fingers crossed, we will be OK.

Talking of which, thank you to the runners, volunteers, and supporters who took part in our unofficial 5k test event in Barking Park on Saturday. We had 19 runners (16 BRR members and three friends of the club/Barking parkrun regulars, by special invitation). The event allowed us to test out a new spot for the pre-run briefing which should allow people to spread out more before the start of the run, and the shortened briefing recommended by parkrun HQ too. We also tried the recommended process for handing out finish tokens and for scanning which is intended to minimise unnecessary contact. On the technical side, the new volunteer app, which allows scanning and timing results to be sent automatically to the results processing website, worked well. It was helpful to trial all these things with a small group of people in a controlled way rather than jumping straight in with over a hundred people when parkrun – hopefully – returns.

Athletics in the News

Media attention has been on Mo Farah, who participated in the European 10,000 metre Cup in Birmingham on 5 June but failed to achieve the qualifying time for the Tokyo Olympics. Farah’s time of 27:50:54 was more than 22 seconds short of (or should that be over?) the required time. He said afterwards that he was carrying an injury to his left ankle. Farah has until 27 June to dip inside the 27:28 standard for Tokyo. Alternatively, he could try and qualify for the 5,000m instead. But perhaps he will decide just to hang up his spikes.

It was the British women who performed well again on the day. In the women’s elite race, Eilish McColgan claimed victory in 31:19:21 to confirm her Tokyo spot. Jess Judd third in 31:20:84, a time good enough to take her to the Olympics for the first time.

Alex Yee from Lewisham won the men’s race in the World Triathlon Series event in Leeds, probably earning himself a place in the Tokyo Olympics. Yee is a high-quality 10,000 metres athlete but has decided to concentrate on the triathlon this year. Johnnie Brownlee, who came ninth in the men’s race, has already qualified for Tokyo. Brother Alistair was disqualified for unsporting behaviour after ducking an opponent during the swim, although he went on to complete the event finishing way down the field. Jess Learmonth and fellow Brit Sophie Coldwell finished second and third respectively in the women’s race.

Elsewhere Sifan Hassan set a new women’s record for 10,000 metres of 29:06:82 at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold in Hengelo. That gives us all something to aim for…

BRR in Action

Elvis series race #01, hosted by Dagenham 88, was the BRR members destination this week. The seven-race series of 5k or 5 mile races kicked off on 2 June, over a 2-lap course, part of which was on tarmac and grass in Central Park and part on trails in the adjoining Eastbrookend Country Park.

All the runners agreed it was a tough but enjoyable race even with the various COVID 19 measurements in place. Jack Nixon 28:54 And Joe Stacey 29:44 were first finishers for BRR in 5th and 11th place respectively, with Belinda Riches 41:10 first female finisher for BRR. In all BRR had 22 runners turn out for this race and hope to have a similar number for race #02 on 23 June in the Olympic Park.

One tough 5 miler wasn’t enough for Cristina Cooper and Daniel Plawiak who put their triathlete hats on for a middle-distance triathlon at Graffham water on the weekend. This little jaunt involved a 1,900-metre swim, 88k bike ride and a half marathon run to finish. Daniel finished in 5.57.50 and Cristina in 6.37.13.

Lauren Garvey competed in the Saxon shore ultramarathon where she managed a creditable 27.6 miles in 5.04.31. Lauren said she hoped to go further but, in her own words, “the wheels came off”.

A good turn-out at Barking (not)parkrun, with Ron Vialls first over the virtual line again in 22:18 and Jason Li third in 28:39. Also running were Alison Fryatt, 31:25 (a new NPR PB), Greg Adams, 34:02, and Emma Botterill, 32:31. Rory Burr completed Harrow Lodge (not)parkrun in 24:39. Rory’s time also earned him fourth place at Virtual Park Run. Kresh Veerasamy was in 33rd place in 38:00.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 8 June – speed development, Jim Peter’s Track. Annoyingly, I have to go into the office on Tuesday (what a cheek!) so it’s likely to be Captain Rob taking the session. Expect 400s. Apparently the 400 metre distance is measured 30cm from the edge of the inside lane if there is a kerb, or 20cm if there is no kerb. Who knew? Probably an expert like Andy Horlock!

7.00pm, Thursday 10 June – Handicap #03. Barking Park, meet at the usual parkrun gathering place. £1 entry if you haven’t paid in advance, and you could win the tenner. Please arrive by 7.00pm so Greg can add you to the start list.

9:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 12 June – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. Belhus Woods Country Park. A few of us have entered this no-frills race series. Entry is £15-17 but closes in the next few days. Details at:

7.00pm, Thursday 17 June – Handicap #04.

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

8:00am – 9:00am, Sunday 20 June – Victoria Park 10k. A fast, flat course for those of you looking for a PB. More details at

7.30pm, 23 June – EERR Midsummer 5k. The second race in the ELVIS series. Details and sign-up at

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.

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. Information and entry at

Dottie Dear’s Almanac: June

Dottie was insanely excited when we visited her this month, due to the imminence of the summer solstice on June 20th. She was also in a big fat flap about menu planning for the proposed visit to her tree house of the Elders of the Ancient Order of the Green Man (Essex Division).

Anxious to put on a good spread, Dottie was planning a delicious nut roast with green salad. For a side dish, the choice was between Melon with Chrysanthemum leaves (big in Japan, apparently), and Sunchokes (we had to Google it) with a tasty tamarind dressing. After a big debate about whether all varieties of Chrysanthemum leaf are edible, and whether a tamarind was actually a forest-dwelling mammal (rather than a tropical fruit), we got her to settle down and give us her advice to BRR members for June, which is as follows:

  • Robins don’t like posing for close-ups.
  • Never try to stare down a goose.
  • Driving around with the top down on your convertible BMW and with music playing very loudly will not necessarily make you a babe magnet.
  • A watched queue doesn’t get shorter more quickly.

As she was talking to us, an email came in from the Ancient Order of the Green Man. Apparently, the Elders would be quite happy with a MacDonalds. So that was one problem solved.

Running Heroes – Ron Hill

With his sad passing a few weeks ago, it seems fitting that Ron Hill should be the first of the running heroes covered in our latest series.

Hill was born in 1938 in Accrington, Lancashire, and was inspired to run by the fictional comic strip hero Alf Tupper, the working-class runner who worked all night and ate fish and chips before a race. Running was an unusual sight in those days so he ran in the back streets. He later became a member of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers.

In 1970, Hill became the first Briton to win the Boston Marathon, breaking the course record, and won Commonwealth gold in Edinburgh the same year in a time of 2:09:28 – becoming only the second man to ever go under 2hr 10min. In fact, many think that Hill was the record-holder and dispute rival Derek Clayton’s 2:08:33.6 at Antwerp in 1969 as the course was thought to be short.

Hill also competed at the Olympics three times: Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, and Munich 1972, although the Games never saw his best performances. He did better In the European Championships, winning the marathon in 1969 on the Marathon to Athens course.

A world-record breaker on the track (10 miles, 15 miles, 25K) on the road (20 miles), and one of the best in the world in cross-country, Hill was a prolific racer who totalled 27 marathons faster than 2:20, the most ever at that date, at a time when fewer marathons were available than today, and when even elite running was strictly unpaid. His final marathon was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996. Perhaps the secret of his marathon success was his fuelling strategy: Hill was one of the pioneers of “carbo-loading” before a marathon to increase glycogen stores.

He also pioneered what was considered a quirky new distance at the time, when he won Britain’s first half marathon, at Freckleton, Lancashire on 19 June 1965. He went on to win the race three more times. His 1969 time of 1:04:45 is still the race record. He later described the distance “The half marathon is a great distance, as you can push yourself almost flat out without the risk of blowing up”.

But maybe Ron Hill was best known for setting a world record streak of 52 years and 39 days, running at least a mile every day between 1964 and 2017, including after snapping his sternum in a car accident in 1993. He only stopped at the age of 78 due to heart issues.  Hill had pains in his chest while running and made the decision to not run the next day to address the issue. “After 400m my heart started to hurt and by the time I got to the one mile point I thought I was going to die,” he said. “I was in such pain and I thought ‘no, hang on, this isn’t going anywhere at the moment’, and really in respect of my wife, two sons and friends I need to stop this.”

And, of course, Ron Hills was famous for his pioneering running apparel. After graduating from the University of Manchester with a PhD in textile chemistry, Hill was convinced of the benefits of synthetic materials for runners. In 1970 he started a company named Ron Hill Sports, which pioneered various products including trackster running tights, wrap-over ‘freedom’ shorts, breathable mesh vests, waterproof running jackets, and reflective strips. Hill related that he founded the company “because I was running to and from work in the dark in winter and wondered what I needed to stay safe.”

In May 2018, Hill was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. He committed himself to working to remove the stigma from the disease, which eventually led to his death last month at the age of 82.

Dr Ron Hill MBE

25/09/1938 – 23/05/2021

Cracker Corner – the cow edition

How do you count cows? With a cowculator.

What do cows read in the morning? The moos-paper.

What happens when you try talking to a cow? Everything just goes in one ear and out the udder.

I was attacked by a cow at Hainault on Sunday – luckily, I was only grazed.

And finally…

Thanks to Martin Mason, who has lent me a folder of old copies of ‘Running’ magazine, the earliest dating from 1984. The big news in March 1984? Whether the London Marathon would survive the planned abolition of the Metropolitan County Councils. But Chris Brasher insisted that the race would survive. The BBC also announced that the race would be televised for the first time in its four-year history.

The first three cross the line in 1984 were all British (Charlie Spedding, 2:09:57; Kevin Forster, 2:11:41; and Dennis Fowles, 2:12:12), with another three Brits in the top ten. How times have changed.

In the meantime, an advert asked ‘Need running shoes? Want quality shoes? Buy Dunlop shoes’. The S.A. Super long distance running shoe came with a shock-absorbing Dunlop SA heel pad, extended thermoplastic internal and external heel counters, lightweight outsoles and anti-pronation heel inserts. Al for the princely sum of £37.

Or how about the Truman East London Half Marathon, starting and finishing in Victoria Park. Entry fee £3 affiliated, £3.50 unattached. Yes, times have changed…

Happy Running



BRR Chair



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