Howdie Road Runners,

Sorry to start with a serious issue, but I think we were all affected by the collapse of Christian Eriksen, the Denmark midfielder, during their Euro 2020 game against Finland on Saturday. It brings home how important it is to take prompt action when someone stops breathing.

Brain death starts to occur four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest if no CPR and defibrillation occurs during that time. If bystander CPR is not provided, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival falls 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute of delay until defibrillation. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

We have a defibrillator at Barking parkrun – thank goodness we have never had to use it, but I hope I will have the confidence to do so if and when the time comes. Lots of people worry about doing the wrong thing, or getting sued, but the alternative could be someone dying. We’ll be launching a call for donations soon, as the defib battery is close to expiry and a replacement costs £80 plus VAT – worth every penny if it saves a life.

Barking RD and former BRR member Andy Preston has also sent through a link to some online Football Association training on how to recognise and deal with deal with sudden cardiac arrest. You have to register but the course is free: There is also a course about concussion, in case you know anyone likely to face plant on a hard surface…

 June Committee Meeting

With thanks to Club Secretary Dee Spencer-Perkins, the minutes of the June 2021 committee meeting can be found here: 210607 – June 2021 Committee Meeting

 Athletics in the News

The build-up to the Tokyo Olympics continues, with some of the GB contenders taking part in the third round of the Diamond League in Florence on 10 June. Here are our best placed GB athletes:

  • Dina Asher-Smith – 1st place, women’s 200 metres (22:06)
  • Chijindu Ujah – 2nd place, men’s 100 metres (10:10)
  • Andrew Pozzi – 2nd place, men’s 110 metre hurdles (13:25)
  • Matthew Hudson-Smith – 3rd place, men’s 400 metres (45:93)
  • Jessica Turner – 3rd place, women’s 400m hurdles (54:79)

BRR in Action

Another busy week for Barking Road Runners, kicked off with a fine run by Ron Vialls in the veterans 5k race at Battersea park finishing in a commendable 22.12. Ron said he could have gone a bit quicker but the park was extremely busy and he was stuck behind some slow runners at the start.

Race #03 in the summer handicap 5k series saw Joyce Golder record her second win, moving to the top of the table by one point from Dennis Spencer-Perkins with Jason Li a further point back. Five runners managed to better their handicap times this week; quickest on the night was Owen Wainhouse in 20.29.

Saturday was the Essex summer cross country race #02 at Belhus Woods Country Park run over a tough 10k course with several of BRR taking tumbles and tearing skin on the brambles in narrow paths and tree roots during the race. Martin Page was first finisher for BRR in 50:15 followed by Joyce Golder in 56:36 and Mick Davison 57:28. Also running were Gary Harford 1:01:14, Martin Mason 1:04:04, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 1:04:35, Alison Fryatt 1:08:27, Les Jay 1:10:48 and Rob Courtier 1:16:51.

Jess Collett completed a very hot and hilly St Albans half marathon on Sunday morning in an excellent time of 1:50:14.

BRR’s Debbie Coyle and Gabriel Grimaldi put on their Comrades Tri Club hats to compete in the Bridge Aquathlon, Dartford. Both Debbie and Gabriel finished 1st in their respective categories.

Ron Vialls was first across the virtual line yet again at Barking (not)parkrun, with his 22:12, with Jason second in 26:52. Emma Botterill finished in 29:40 and Alison Fryatt in 32:46. A special mention for Mrs Li, who achieved a new PB of 34:46.

We had just Rory at Virtual Park Run this week. His 24:57 5k earned him sixth spot overall (fifth male).

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 8 June – speed development, Jim Peter’s Track. It’s 300m reps this week with 100m active recovery (either walking or jogging). Complete either 15 reps or how many you can do in about 30 minutes. The weather is forecast to be around 23 degrees so please bring some water/fluids and take it easy if the heat is getting to you.

7.00pm, Thursday 17 June – Handicap #04. The competition is getting exciting! Please arrive BEFORE 7.00pm, so your name can be added to the start list.

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. Entries close 18 June. Details here:

8:00am – 9:00am, Sunday 20 June – Victoria Park 10k. More details at

7.30pm, 23 June – EERR Midsummer 5k. The second race in the ELVIS series. We have 12 entries so far, but the more the merrier. 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. To ensure the race is covid-secure, we are asked to register via the Spond app. Download the app on your phone, register and enter the group code BDWVI when asked.

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 10 July – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. The next race in this series, at Thorndon Country Park. Details at:

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

9.00am, 24 July – parkrun, various locations. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 14 August – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. At Hadleigh Country Park. Details at:

9.30am, 22 August – Clacton 10k/Half. Information and entry at

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 11 September – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. Weald Country Park. Details at:

8.30am onwards, Sunday 12 September – Havering Mind Half Marathon & 10K. Some members have entries carried forward from last year, but places are still available. All in a good cause. Details at

Running Heroes – Jim Peters

The namesake of our very own track in Mayesbrook Park, but what is the story of Jim Peters, and why is the track named after him?

James Henry Peters was born into a humble background in Hackney in 1918. He was 27 when World War 2 ended. The following year he was English 6-Mile champion; the year after that he was the 10-Mile champion.  In 1948, after being lapped by Zatopek in the Olympic 10,000, Peters wanted to quit the sport. However, his coach Jimmy Johnston persuaded him to continue running and aim for the Marathon. For three years, Peters trained hard and ran low-key races, all the while working full-time in an optician’s practice in south London. Then in his first marathon, the Polytechnic Marathon of 1951, he finished in a British record of 2:29:24.

In the next three years he gradually improved his times. With his Poly Marathon win in 1954, he ran a World Best for the fourth time with 2:17:39.4, his career best. During this progression from 2:29 to 2:17 he was he first man under 2:25 and the first under 2:20. No one before or since has lowered the World Best marathon time by so much. Peters did all his running in cheap plimsolls “D’you know, I used to swap feet after a few months, put the left shoe on my right foot, so they wouldn’t wear down in the same place.”

Unfortunately, he failed to achieve his best at major competitions. Starting as race favourite, Peters dropped out of the marathon at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics at 37k with leg cramps – something he said he’d never experienced before – after being overtaken by eventual winner Emile Zapotek. His disappointing performance was attributed to two causes: the short six-week recovery period from a previous 2:20 race and the flight to Helsinki in a cold and draughty plane. Dehydration could have been a factor.

Peters looked to be in better form in 1954, leading up to the Empire Games. He finished second in the Boston Marathon following that with his Word Best time at the Poly Marathon. An Empire Games gold medal in Vancouver that year looked a certainty.

He planned for the Marathon race meticulously with his coach. As the weather was expected to be hot, Peters tried to find a sun hat that he could run with, but he gave up on the idea. The race started at noon, when the temperature was already 25 degrees centigrade. Peters led with two British team mates but had dropped them by half way. The heat was “overwhelming” but the first two sponges that Peters took at the feed station were dry. Furthermore, no one could tell him what his lead was. When only half a mile from the stadium, Peters still thought his nearest opponent was close behind, so he kept pushing. But the opponent had got sunstroke and had run into a telegraph pole. “I actually had a lead of nearly three-and-a-half miles,” Peters wrote. “If I had known that, I could have stopped at the last feeding station, had a good sponge down and trotted in slowly.”

Peters entered the stadium 17 minutes ahead of the field. But then his agony began. He was only a few hundred metres from the finish line when he began staggering, collapsed many times and ended up crawling on the track. According to eye-witness reporter Frank Keating, Peters took eleven minutes to cover 200 yards in the stadium. By that stage the temperature had risen to 28 degrees and Peters was suffering from severe dehydration (he didn’t drink during the race) and heat-stroke.

His team-mates, including Roger Bannister, felt powerless to help him, remembering Dorando Pietri’s disqualification in the 1908 Olympic marathon after being helped across the line. Eventually the team’s masseur Mickey Mays stepped in, called for a stretcher and probably saved Peters’ life.  “I was lucky not to have died that day,” Peters told Frank Keating later, adding that since that day he had often suffered from giddiness and what he called “my Vancouver headache.” Peters continued: “I set off too fast in the heat, but that was always my way: to destroy the field … If someone had told me I was so far ahead, I dare say I’d have eased off a bit … When I woke up in hospital I thought I’d won. When I asked a nurse, she said, “You did great, Jim, just great”, so at least I went back to sleep a winner, didn’t I?.”

Interestingly, Peters had measured the course beforehand and found it 3/4 mile long, but the officials wouldn’t listen to him. He had therefore probably finished the marathon distance long before he collapsed. But Peters was pragmatic about the incident, saying many years later ‘My lasting grief is that all the headlines for my idiocy denied just desserts for the actual gold medal winner [Jim McGhee of Scotland] – but at least I’d beaten Jim to the stadium entrance by a whole 17 minutes, so the Duke of Edinburgh struck me a special medal, inscribed “J Peters, a most gallant marathon runner”. It’s the most treasured of all my trophies.’ You can see the film of the marathon incident on the BBC Sport website – it is absolutely heart-breaking to watch, even after all these years.

Soon after this race, Peters announced his retirement and went back to working as an optician, first in Mitcham, Surrey then in Chadwell Heath, but he remained involved in running, serving as president of the then recently formed Road Runners Club 1955 – 1956. Chris remembers Peters coming to his school in Hackney in the 1970s to talk about his running career and the 1954 incident.

Jim Peters

24 October 1918 – 9 January 1999

Cracker Corner – the Eskimo edition

To cool you down in this hot weather!

  • An Eskimo rang on my doorbell the other day but I ignored him; I don’t answer the door to cold callers.
  • I went to a new Eskimo restaurant in Barking and asked the waiter about the specials.
    He said: ‘We’ve got whale meat, whale meat, or whale meat… Or we’ve got the Vera Lynn.’
    I said ‘What’s the Vera Lynn?’
    He replied ‘Whale meat again…’
  • How do Eskimo children get to school? On Ice-cycles.
  • An Eskimo had just cut a hole in the ice and started fishing, when a big, booming, voice echoed “THERE ARE NO FISH HERE”.
    The Eskimo looked up and said “is that you, God?”
    The voice replied “NO, I’M THE OWNER OF THIS ICE RINK”.

Boom! Boom!

And finally…

A few runners at the Belhus Woods 10k got lost on Saturday, and ended up having to retrace their steps, which is annoying. But spare a thought for Matt Girvan, who smashed the record for hiking a trail which runs the length of mainland Scotland – only to discover he had to walk another 16 miles to get the bus home.

The Scottish National trail stretches 537 miles from Kirk Yetholm, near the English border, to Cape Wrath in the north. Matt completed the record-breaking solo unsupported hike in 13 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes in September 2020. He shaved more than three days off the previous record set by Graham Nash, who was supported in his attempt.

But Matt said he was “heartbroken” when he realised he had to do an extra walk to reach the bus. He had planned to catch a ferry from the finish line to Durness, where he could catch a bus back to Edinburgh, where he lives. Unfortunately, the ferry he was due to catch was cancelled so he had no choice but to go back along 16 miles of the route that he had walked just hours beforehand, to catch a bus from Kinlochbervie. “I had been pounding along 40 miles a day for two weeks, lancing blisters and in crippling pain to reach the finish line – so to find out the ferry was cancelled was almost unbearable,” he told BBC Scotland. “I was in agony from the throbbing pain in my feet and I felt desperate. The time I had spent on my feet had caused them to swell from all the blood rushing to them and they had been so wet I had the onset of trench foot”.

So perhaps running a few extra metres in a wood in Essex wasn’t so bad after all…

Happy Running



BRR Chair



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