Howdie Road Runners

I’m trying to re-acclimatise after my holiday in Palma, Majorca, and a week of temperatures up in the 30s – so good to be back in good old British summertime!

Thank you to Greg and Dennis (and Dottie, of course) for holding the fort with the blog last week while I was away. I hope you all enjoyed the break from my usual ramblings. I was relieved they managed to understand my instructions for posting the blog on the BRR website. Variety is the spice of life, and I’m always happy to receive contributions if anyone would like to send in race reviews, kit recommendations, opinions, bad jokes etc. You don’t have to write War and Peace; anything you think your fellow BRR members would be interested in (well, within reason…) would be welcome.

Tokyo Olympics 2020

Well, the main Olympics is over until 2024. It was great to see the GB and Northern Ireland Team equal its medal haul from London 2012. Perhaps the home advantage and the roar of the crowds have less of an impact on performance than we all thought.

It was sad to see some of our athletes unable to fulfil their potential. Poor Adam Gemili had a re-occurrence of his hamstring issue and medal contenders Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Dina Asher-Smith, and Morgan Lake all had to pull out of their respective events due to injury too, though Asher-Smith was able to come back and be part of the women’s bronze-medal winning 4×100m relay team. Does the injury rate point to underlying flaws in the GB training system, or is it inevitable that finely-tuned athletes will be more prone to injury, and it was just bad luck on the day? The UK Athletics Head Coach, Christian Malcolm, suggested the latter, saying ‘It’s a sport in its purest form and you’re always on a knife edge… niggles and injuries can come when you’re trying to push to be the best you can’. In response to comments that our overall track and field performance was disappointing, with no gold medals for the first time since 1996, Malcolm points to the crop of new athletes coming through, who he thinks will have a real chance of winning golds and silvers at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

In the meantime, there is still the Tokyo Paralympics to look forward to, starting on 24 August. Let’s hope for more GB&NI medals, and less injuries, there!

BRR in Action (Greg Adams)

With no ELVIS races it was a quiet week for BRR unless, that is, you were Owen Wainhouse. Owen had the little matter of the North Downs Way 100-mile ultramarathon to contend with. The NDW 100 is a trail run from Farnham in the Surrey hills to Ashford in Kent with a total climb of 10,000 ft. In Owen’s own words it was hellishly muddy, slippery and wet. Owen completed it plus a few extra miles in around 26 hours and was well inside the cut-off time.

Joe Stacey came back from injury to finish first at Barking parkrun. Jess Collett was 2nd female finisher at the same event both recording parkrun Personal Bests of 17:53 and 21:50 respectively.

BRR parkrunners


Joe Stacey 17:53 (PB), Jess Collett 21:50 (PB), Adrian Davison 22:35, Joyce Golder 25:35 (PB), John Lang 26:52, Stuart Burr 26:53, Andrew Hiller 27:31, Martin Mason 29:35, Emma Botterill 30:08 (PB), Rob Courtier 31:33, Les Jay 31:35, Nikki Cranmer 34:09, Kresh Veerasamy 36:06, Micky Ball 38:19 and Jenni Birch 38:23.

Chalkwell Beach

Ron Vialls 24:14 and Antony Leckerman 25:14.

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 31:15.

Raphaels Park

Paul Withyman 18:57.

Valentines Park

Trevor Cooper 23:32 and Andrew Gwilliam 57: 45.

London Marathon Water Station

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered, or encouraged friends and family to volunteer, for the Mile 14 water station at this year’s London Marathon on 3 October. We need to provide up to 100 volunteers, so your support is much appreciated.

Anyone who has ever run a race will know the huge difference that the volunteers make. Our water station is at that tricky point before the Limehouse Link, just beyond half marathon distance when the runners realise the challenge they have taken on and really need the boost that our support, and the water, gives them. The volunteers, in return for their hard work, get to have a ringside view of al the elite athletes as they pass our station, and then as they double-back along the Highway, before the adrenaline of handing out tens of thousands of bottles of water at breakneck speed kicks when the mass start participants start to go past us. Oh, and this year we get a free packed lunch. Not sure what it will consist of, but I’m guessing it will include Buxton water…

The Marathon has extended the deadline for volunteers to 20 August so, if you or your nearest and dearest would still like to help out, please register at

BRR ELVIS competition standings

There are two more opportunities to score points in the Club’s internal ELVIS competition: the Orion 5 mile race in Chingford and the East London Runners 5k race in Valentines Park (details in the BRR diary). We don’t award points for our own race as most members will be volunteering rather than running.

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

There is still time for the standings to change, as quite a few folks haven’t completed the necessary four races yet, and other members might better scores in the last two races, moving them up the points table. I fully expect to be knocked off my perch by the time the competition ends!

Grand Prix Series 2022

Another internal Club competition that newer members may be unaware of is the Grand Prix (GP). The GP consists of a maximum of ten races, which must include at least one each of 5 miles, 10 kilometres, 10 miles and a half-marathon race. The competition usually runs from around early April to early November, with the races chosen by the Committee earlier in the year. Like the ELVIS and handicap competitions, points are awarded for finishing positions on the basis of 100 for first place, 99 for second and so on, with separate points awarded for male and female finishing positions (sorry, only first claim members can score). Each member’s six best results will count towards their final series score. Trophies will be awarded to male and female, for first, second, and third place.

Look out for information about the 2022 Grand Prix series in the new year.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 10 August – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. It’s a pyramid session this week, working up from one minute to five minutes and back down again, with one minute recovery on the shorter reps and two minutes on the longer reps, as I’m all heart. The shorter reps should be run at 10% faster than 5k pace, the longer reps at 5k race pace. The variation helps you to improve conditioning, endurance, and speed.

6.45pm, Thursday 12 August – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub.

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).

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 Mountfitchet 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. A BRR favourite. Details and sign-up at

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

Running Hero – Abebe Bikila

We’re used to competitors from the African nations being at the front of marathons these days, but Abebe Bikila, from Ethiopia, was the first black African to ever win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Born the son of a shepherd in 1932, Abebe moved to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in 1952. He joined the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard, an elite division that safeguarded the emperor, rising to the rank of Captain. He began running at the age of 24 and was little known outside Ethiopia when he entered the marathon in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Running barefoot over the cobbles of the Italian capital, he was tied for the lead for much of the race before surging ahead in the last 1,000 metres. He crossed the finish line first in 2:15.16, breaking the world record at the time.

Four years later he underwent an appendectomy 40 days before the Tokyo Olympics. Nevertheless, he won a second gold medal, running the marathon — this time wearing shoes — in 2:12.11, making him the first runner to win an Olympic marathon race twice. He entered the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City but was forced to drop out of the marathon with a broken leg after 10 miles.

Abebe participated in a total of sixteen marathons during his running career but, sadly, was left paralysed after a car accident in 1969. He regained some upper-body mobility, but he never walked again. While he was receiving medical treatment in England, Abebe competed in archery and table tennis at the 1970 Stoke Mandeville Games in London, an early predecessor of the Paralympic Games. He competed in both sports at a 1971 competition for the disabled in Norway and won its cross-country sleigh-riding event. Abebe died at the age of 41 from a cerebral haemorrhage related to his accident. He received a state funeral, and Emperor Haile Selassie declared a national day of mourning. Many schools, venues, and events in Ethiopia, including the Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, are named after him.

Abebe Bikila

7 August 1932 – 25 October 1973

Principles of Sports Conditioning – Adaptation

Adaptation refers to the body’s ability to adjust to increased or decreased physical demands. It is also one way we learn to coordinate muscle movement and develop sports-specific skills, such as running, jumping or throwing.

Repeatedly practicing a skill or activity makes it second-nature and easier to perform, as our body adapts to that activity. Adaptation – or lack of it – explains why we are often sore after starting a new routine, but after doing the same exercise for weeks and months we have little, if any, muscle soreness.

As our bodies adapt to a particular exercise, we become more efficient at that exercise and expend less energy doing the same movements. The downside of this is that we can become stale and our performance can plateau. It is important to mix it up and vary our workout routine if we want to see continued improvements.

Cracker Corner

Some genuine Christmas cracker jokes this week:

  • What did the fish say when it swam into a wall? – Dam
  • What do you call a penguin in the Sahara Desert? – Lost
  • What do you get if you lie under a cow? – A pat on the head
  • What has four wheels and flies? – A bin lorry

And finally…

Three guesses what I mistakenly thought was the name of this shop I saw in Palma, Majorca. I really need to go to Specsavers…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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