Howdie Road Runners

Well, it finally happened after all the build-up. Or should I say ‘they’ finally happened? – the return of parkrun and the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Numbers were down a bit at our local parkruns. This could have been due to the forecast storms, people being on holiday, people being afraid of being ‘pinged’ just before their holidays, or maybe a genuine concern at the safety of mixing in large crowds. At Barking parkun, people were pretty good; the pre-run briefing was done on the grass near the finish line so we could be more spread out, participants followed the instructions to minimise contact with tokens, and we had hand sanitiser for those who needed it. It was great, and rather emotional, to meet everyone again after so long; both the friends but also the folk you know less well but who had obviously missed us. There is nothing like the atmosphere of parkrun!

Atmosphere is something the Olympics might lack, with no spectators allowed in any of the venues, although there seemed to be a few out watching the men’s cycling road race (including the obligatory idiot running alongside the cyclists in his underpants). I wonder if the lack of fans will put a dampener on the event for participants or if they will be so focused that they don’t miss them; we have until Friday 31 July to wait until the athletics begins, and we can find out. Details of the schedule can be found at

Did you know?

Talking of parkrun, did you know Italian midfielder Jorginho covered the most distance of any player at Euro 2020, clocking up 86.6k? That’s just over 17 parkruns.  Apparently, Jorginho and Leonardo Bonucci wasted little time in trolling England after Italy prevailed on penalties to win Euro 2020, with the pair proudly singing ‘it’s coming Rome’…

July Committee Meeting

The minutes of the July Committee meeting can be found by clicking here: 210719 – July 2021 Committee meeting.

BRR in Action

Sixteen runners represented  Barking Road Runners this week at the ELVIS race #03, a 5 mile race organised by Havering ’90 Joggers at Raphaels Park. There were plenty of twists and turns and slopes on the course making it a tough run on a hot and humid night.

First finisher for BRR was Joe Stacey who finished 17th overall in a time of 30:41. Following Joe were Adrian Davison 37:48, Rory Burr 38:11, Trevor Cooper 38:15, and first female finisher for BRR Belinda Riches 40:28.

            Joe Stacey 1st BRR runner at Elvis 03

Other runners include Ron Vialls 40:45, Andy Hiller 44:55, Jason Li 45:47, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 47:51, Martin Mason 47:57 which earned Martin 3rd place in his category, Gary Harford 48:21, Emma Botterill 49:48, Alison Fryatt 52:12, Barry Culling 52:13, Greg Adams 53:46, Les Jay 55:53 and Rob Courtier 56:22. 

Cristina Cooper competed in the Outlaw Triathlon, Nottingham, finishing in 13:52:59. This included a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run for good measure.

Debbie Coyle finished 10th overall, 2nd female and 1st in her category at the Bridge sprint triathlon Dartford in a time of 1:09:51

After a long wait parkrun finally returned this weekend and plenty of BRR runners took part in local and not so local parkruns.

  • Barking – Adrian Davison 23:35, Ron Vialls 23:57, John Lang 28:03, Sally Bridge 29:13, Alain Cooper 29:52, Les Jay 32:38, Rob Courtier 33:30, Dawn Blake 37:25, Jenni Birch 38:50 and Micky Ball 38:51.
  • Chalkwell Beach – Antony Leckerman 22:52.
  • Clacton – Joyce Golder 26:43
  • Enniskillen – Paul Ward 22:54
  • Harrow lodge – Rory Burr 23:29
  • Southsea – Ken Summerfield 42:40

BRR were also well represented at various park runs as Run Directors and volunteers, without whom parkruns couldn’t take place.

BRR ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series) Competition

Newer members might not realise that each year – well, excluding 2020 – we hold our own, internal, ELVIS competition. Results are calculated in a similar way to the handicap competition, with 100 points for the first BRR finisher, 99 for second and so on. The big difference from the handicap competition is that there are separate results for male and female members. This year, as there is no Harold Wood race, final results will be based on each participant’s best four results (excluding our own race, as the majority of members have to volunteer rather than run).  There are trophies up for grabs, and still three non-BRR races to go (see details below), so there is still everything to play for!

Points from the three races held so far (D88, EERR, H90) are here:

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 27 July – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. Would you believe it, it’s the timed mile again! Probably the usual 300s off 100 recoveries afterwards. If you’re racing the next day, don’t push it too hard. Keep your eyes on the prize. 

7.30pm, 28 July – Ilford Athletics Club Newman Hilly 5 (and ELVIS 04). A trail 5-miler through Hainault Forest. Note the new date. Details and sign-up at

6.45pm, 29 July – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub. Depending how hard we worked on Wednesday night, some of us may be supporting rather than running…

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 14 August – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. If you really want a challenging hill session, this is the race to do. I expect we will find somewhere for tea and chat afterwards. Details at:

10.00am, Saturday 21 August – Orion Forest Five #02 (and ELVIS 05).

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

10.30am, 30 August – Phipps 5k (BRR August Bank Holiday) 5K. Runners and volunteers needed. I hope nobody will be offended if we say that we’d prefer the fast folk to run rather than volunteer, as the pride of BRR is at stake.

10.00am, Saturday 4 September – Orion Forest Five #03.

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. Details at

11.00am, Sunday, 19 September – Stansted 10k. A carry-over from the 2020 Grand Prix season that was not to be. The race starts in Stansted Mountfichet and is described as having a ‘beautiful, challenging route, across normally inaccessible private land’. Sounds fun. £12 in advance/£15 on the day. Details and sign-up at

11.00, Sunday 12 September – Ingatestone 5. Some of you may have had entries carried over from last year. If not, this is a lovely race to do, usually with quite a small field so chances of trophies if you are speedy. Details and sign-up at

10.30am, Sunday 26 September – ELR Valentines 5k (and ELVIS 07). Details TBC.

Running Hero – Jesse Owens

Born in the USA in 1913, Jesse Owens was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave. His actual name was James Cleveland Owen, shortened to JC, but a teacher misheard him when asking for his name to enter in the school register and wrote Jesse instead, and the name stuck.

His promising athletic career began in 1928 when he set Junior High School records by clearing 6 feet in the high jump, and leaping 22 feet 11 3/4 inches in the long jump. During his high school days, he won all of the major track events, including the Ohio state championship three consecutive years.  Owens’ sensational high school track career resulted in a place at Ohio State University, although he had to do several jobs to support himself and his wife while he went through college.

In May 1935, Jesse gave the world a preview of things to come, setting three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles) and equalling a fourth (100-yard dash), all in a span of about 45 minutes. This was all the more amazing as Jesse was suffering from a bad back at the time after falling down a flight of stairs.

Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany and intended to prove Hitler’s belief that the German “Aryan” people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, as he became the first American track & field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. This remarkable achievement stood unequalled until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when American Carl Lewis matched Jesse’s feat (Lewis was later discredited as a drugs cheat). During a time of deep-rooted segregation, he not only refuted Hitler’s master race theory, but also affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or national origin, distinguishes one athlete from another.

 Jesse’s success at the Olympics didn’t initially translate into a lucrative career back home and he needed to do a number of jobs to support his family. But one job, as a playground director in Cleveland, was the first step into a lifetime of working with underprivileged youth, including as a board member and former director of the Chicago Boys’ Club. He became a much sought-after inspirational speaker, and also a public relations representative and consultant to many US corporations, including the US Olympic Committee.

In 1976, Jesse was awarded the highest civilian honour in the United States when President Gerald Ford presented him with the Medal of Freedom. In 1979, he returned to the White House, where President Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award.

Jesse Owens died in 1980 from complications due to lung cancer. President Carter said at the time: “Perhaps no athlete better symbolised the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry. His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the prelude to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes, as an unofficial ambassador overseas, and a spokesman for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans.”

Jesse was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.

Jesse said about running:

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

“I always loved running – it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

Jesse Owens

12 September 1913 – 31 March 1980

Principles of Sports Conditioning – individual differences

The principle of individual differences simply means that, because we all are unique individuals, we will all have a slightly different response to an exercise programme. This is another way of saying that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to exercise. Well-designed training programmes should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise.

Some of these differences have to do with body size and shape, genetics, past experience, chronic conditions, injuries, and gender. For example, women may be more prone to certain types of injury so need to guard against them, and older athletes generally need more recovery time than younger athletes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to be a Billy-no-mates and run by yourself all the time; training with other people is usually more fun and can make you push yourself that little bit harder, or maybe a little bit gentler, depending on their pace. But you shouldn’t just try and slavishly match your running buddy’s session step for step; you might have a different level of fitness and different goals that you want to achieve.

Also, while off-the-shelf training plans usually provide a good general guide to what you need to do to reach certain goals, you should not stick rigidly to what’s written on the page. Feel free to adapt them to meet your own personal needs and goals, while bearing in mind that cutting back from four sessions a week to one session a week might not get you that fast marathon time…

Cracker Corner – the Gym Edition #02

  1. Why did the fisherman miss his gym session?
    He pulled a mussel.
  2. A man walked into the gym and asked the receptionist, “What machine should I use to impress women?”
    She responded “The ATM machine, sir.”
  3. It’s been six months since I joined the gym, and I’m still no fitter.
    I’m going there in person tomorrow to see what’s going on.

And finally…

Do you remember when a pair of trail shoes used to cost fifty quid or less? Now it seems they can cost about the same amount as a pair of road shoes. These Craft CTM carbon shoes are at the top end of the market, at £225. 

I just worry that you might get hunted down by a lion if you ran through the long grass wearing them; that’s a good incentive to run fast. Reminds me of the famous book ‘Chased by Lions’ by Claude Bottom (blame Tony Blackburn, not me)…

Happy Running


BRR Chair

PS – I am away next week so no blog from me. Someone else may take on the role of blogmaster in my absence, if they can decipher my instructions!



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