Howdie Road Runners

It was a bumper weekend of running for BRR, with some thrills and spills along the way! But, overall, it was so good to be (almost) back to normal, with so many events and so many of our members competing. I know quite a few of you were taking part in half marathons in preparation for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon (other marathons are available). There are a few last-minute marathon tips in this blog, in case they are helpful.

I enjoyed some rare – for me – parkrun tourism, at Clacton Seafront. Running along by the sea is pretty exhilarating, though there wasn’t much ‘park’ in evidence. It is always good to see how other parkrun teams organise their events; unfortunately, I got to see how they handled an incident, after an older runner fell just before the finish line and split his head open – they did a good job of looking after him. On the downside, I was pretty surprised when the runners were heckled by some drunken blokes as we ran past a promenade café at 9.15am in the morning. One shouted ‘Hello ladies, have some bacon, you know you want it’. I wasn’t sure if it was a euphemism or I would have replied ‘I’ve already had some bacon with my full English, thank you very much’. Ahh, the joys of the British seaside.

August Committee Meeting

Here is the link to the minutes of the August Committee meeting. We have an extra meeting this week, to sort out the last-minutes arrangements for our Bank Holiday race: 210816 – August 2021 Committee Meeting

Athletics in the news

The Tokyo Paralympics begins on 24 August. I don’t know about you, but I’m as excited about the Paralympics as was the ‘able-bodied’ Olympics. GB athletes always seem to do really well at the Paralympics. This time we have 220 athletes competing across 19 sports so there will be a lot to see, but the BBC has published a list of eight athletes to particularly look out for:

London Marathon Water Station

Rob has now submitted the list of London Marathon water station volunteers. Thank you to everyone who has put their name down, or encouraged friends and family to do so. Rob and I will be attending a virtual briefing session on 8 September and will be able to share more information with you after that.

BRR in Action (with thanks to Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

It was a very busy weekend for Barking Road Runners with runners at two half marathons, a 10k, and an Elvis race. Thanks to COVID and the rescheduling of races, BRR had runners at several different events. Unfortunately this meant that we had a very depleted squad at the Elvis series race No. 5; in fact there was only two BRR competitors in Trevor and Cristina Cooper who both performed admirably.

At the Clacton 10k Jack Nixon finished in 2nd place overall in an excellent time of 35:08 and was followed home by Ron Vialls 52:12, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 1:08:17 and Alison Fryatt 1:08:18.

In the Half Marathon, the first finisher for BRR was Faye Spooner in 1:53:37. After this came Joyce Golder 1:58:22, Isobel Pinedo Borobio 2:26:41 and Rob Courtier 2:48:48.

In the weekend’s other big event the Vitality Big Half in London, Paul Withyman led the way finishing in 1:29:15 followed by Nehal Patel 1:49:02, Daniel Plawiak 1:49:42, Gopal Myilsamy 1:51:58, Rory Burr 1:53:25, Jason Li 2:30:00, Gary Harford 2:38:33 and Ken Summerfield 3:15:37.

BRR’s two representatives in the Orion Harriers 5 mile Elvis race No 5 at Chingford recorded good times with Trevor Cooper finishing in 40:22 and Cristina Cooper in 47:57.

Jess Collett finished 1st in her category at the Brett Lydd 20-mile race in a time of 2:51:38.

This week’s BRR parkrunners:

Barking Park

Tom Wagstaffe 21:31 (pb), Sally Bridge 26:08, Stuart Burr 26:27, Les Jay 31:17, Barry Culling 33:32, Nikki Cranmer 33:37, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 35:05, Micky Ball 38:47, Jenni Birch 39:17 and Alan Murphy 48:41,

Chalkwell Beach

Antony Leckerman 24:32

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 31:37

Clacton Seafront

Alison Fryatt 33:36

Raphaels Park

Paul Wyatt 19:43 and Debbie Coyle 21:02


Colin Jones 22:12

Victoria Park (Glasgow)

Joe Stacey 17:31

Harrow Lodge

Rory Burr 24:03


Kevin Wotton 28:56

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 24 August – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. It will be the Dancing Dicks session this week. Hopefully you all remember that Dancing Dicks is the name of a place in Witham, and the session is borrowed from Witham Running Club: three blocks of 30, 60, 90 seconds twice with 30 seconds recovery between each rep, and two minutes recovery between each block. The reps should be run fast, but you have plenty of recovery so you should be able to go for it. Just remember to run to your own ability; it’s a training session so you don’t have to compete with anyone but yourself!

6.45pm, Thursday 26 August – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub.

10.30am, 30 August – Phipps 5k (BRR August Bank Holiday) 5K. thanks to everyone who has registered to run or volunteer. We will be in contact with volunteers soon to allocate tasks for the day (don’t worry, nothing complicated). If you want to run for the Club, it’s £5 – let Alison or Rob know before 27 August. DO NOT ENTER YOURSELF VIA ENTRY CENTRAL!!! We may be able to register people on the day, if there are places any left. Look out for further information.

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

09:30 – 10:30am, Saturday 11 September – Essex Cross Country 10k Series. The last race in the series at Weald Country Park. Details at:

8.30am onwards, Sunday 12 September – Havering Mind Half Marathon & 10K. Details at

11.00, Sunday 12 September – Ingatestone 5. A BRR favourite. Details and sign-up at

11.00am, Sunday, 19 September – Stansted 10k. Details and sign-up at

10.30am, Sunday 26 September – ELR Valentines 5k (and ELVIS). The last race in the ELVIS series, and the last chance to earn points for the internal Club competition too. Enter at

Running Hero – Sebastian Coe

We looked at Steve Ovett recently, so I thought we’d focus on Seb Coe this week. His great rivalry with fellow Brit Ovett dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s.

Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe of Ranmore, to give him his full name and title (why on earth would anyone think he is posh?) was born in London in 1956, before his family moved to Sheffield. He joined the athletics club Hallamshire Harriers at the age of 12 and was initially coached by his father.  Coe studied economics and social history at Loughborough University where he was trained by athletics coach George Gandy and represented the university as a runner. He soon became a middle-distance specialist, catching the public’s attention in 1977 when he won the 800m at the European Indoor Championships in San Sebastian, northern Spain.

He first ran against arch-rival Ovett in Prague in 1978 in an 800m race that neither won. The next year in Oslo, Norway, Coe set his first world records, at the 800m and one-mile distances. At the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Coe was favoured in the 800m race and the Ovett was favoured in the 1,500m race. Instead, Ovett won the 800m, with Coe taking a silver medal; in the 1,500m, Coe accelerated at the final curve and won the gold medal.

Coe set world records in the 800m and 1,000m distances in 1981, the year his rivalry with Ovett reached a climax. He beat Ovett’s mile record, running it in 3:48.53 on 19 August; only a week later Ovett set another mile record, which was then shattered by Coe with a 3:47.33 on 28 August. Illness limited Coe’s racing in the next two years, but he rebounded strongly to win another gold medal in the 1,500m and another silver medal in the 800m at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He won the 800m in the European championship in 1986, but illness hampered the later years of his career, and he was not chosen to participate in the 1988 Olympic Games.

Coe was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1991, was promoted to Knight Commander (KBE) in 2006, and was invested as a Companion of Honour in 2013. He served as a Conservative member of the House of Commons from 1992 to 1997 and was elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer in 2000. In 2003 he became a council member of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), and he was appointed vice president of the IAAF in 2007. In 2004 Coe was named head of London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. After London was awarded the Games in 2005, he became the chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. In 2015 he was elected president of the IAAF. His position has not been free of controversy, but at least he has a background in running so he has some authority in carrying out the role.

Marathon Training Tips

If you are participating in the London Marathon, or other autumn marathon, your training should be well underway by now. But the tips below – based on advice from Rogue Running – may still be helpful, and they apply equally to any training plan (and we all plan our training, don’t we…). You’ll notice there is a thread through a lot of the tips; the importance of recovery to help you face race day in the best possible condition.

1. Drop Down Week

Not all training plans cater for this, but it is beneficial to take a drop-down week every 2-4 weeks in which you drop your mileage by 10-15% for just one week. Frequency of runs and intensity within this week should remain the same, just cut down slightly on the miles of each run to allow yourself to recover a little. The purpose of the recovery week is to give your body time to recover so that you can face the harder and longer sessions relatively fresh.

2. No Back-to-Back Sessions

Never do two ‘quality’ sessions on consecutive days. A quality session is a speed/interval session, a long run or a tempo/threshold run.

Whether your legs feel good or not, they need time to recover from any kind of run where you are running long or fast. Most training plans are made up of 2-3 quality sessions and you should always plan a week/ ten days in advance to make sure that you don’t break this rule. If it is not possible then you should forfeit one of your quality sessions and have an easy/recovery run instead.

3. Don’t Try and Play Catch-up

We are not professional athletes, we have to fit our running around families, jobs, commitments, injuries, illnesses etc and the likelihood is that you will miss a run here and there. Where you can’t re-arrange your schedule to fit in all your runs, then just skip it jump back in on the next day available. Missing the odd run here and there won’t have a huge impact on your training and is better than cramming in training and risking injury by not having enough recovery time. Just don’t make a habit of it if the main thing getting in the way of training is lack of commitment.

4. Race Day Practice

The no.1 rule of Race Day is: Don’t do anything new on Race Day i.e. don’t wear anything brand new (e.g. that charity vest they issue you a few days before the race); don’t change your breakfast or try a different fueling strategy; and don’t try running at a different pace, cadence or adjust your stride length based on the internet article you read the week before the race. You should choose at least one long run or practice race to try out your race gear and specific gels or bars that you intend on using on race day to ensure that you are happy with your choices.

Cracker Corner

Some one-liners from Comedian Sean Lock, who died last week:

“I’m not sure what my biggest fear is. It’s either me saying yes to Strictly… or them saying no.”

Jimmy Carr: “Do you think British people judge others on their accent?” Sean Lock: “No. I judge people long before they’ve opened their mouths.”

Jimmy Carr: “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Sean Lock: “Well, obviously the front.”

And finally…

What do you do when you have a running problem? Throw money at it, of course! I’m hoping that these £13.99 Bridgedale socks, specifically designed for trail running, will help to solve the recurring problem I have with blisters during cross country races. As you’d expect with premium socks they come with a lifetime guarantee, or five years in Germany. Blimey, I think I’ll avoid going to Germany…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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