My new favourite photo

Howdie Road Runners

Well, the Club’s August Bank Holiday race – renamed the Phipps 5K – has been and gone. On the organisational side, it seemed more stressful than ever. There was a lot of racking brains to ensure we hadn’t forgotten anything vital in the two years since the last race. Then the final flurry of activity to ensure we had everything for the day, preparing the changing rooms, sending entry lists to the chip timers etc etc. Suddenly it was race day and all our efforts paid off, with the event receiving lots of praise from other ELVIS clubs. The fun run was as popular as ever and it was great to see so many participants in the adult race staying on to cheer the kids in the fun run.

For those who don’t know, the race was renamed the Phipps 5k after Owen Phipps, an early member of Barking Road Runners. He sadly lost his battle with cancer in 2019 but left the Club a donation of £1,000 which we used to buy the gazebo, the banner that was displayed on the Splash Park building, and the new BRR flag. We received a very touching message from Joan, Owen Phipps’ partner, after the race, saying how pleased she was that we had acknowledged Owen on the day, and asked her to hand out the trophies.

I know it wasn’t possible for some of you to attend the race, but I was very proud of all who were there, either as runners or volunteers – or both in some cases! I really can’t single out anyone as you all pulled together and did a terrific job. We done everyone, and here’s to the 2022 race (put 29 August in your diary)!

Athletics in the news

While the Paralympics has been in full swing, the Diamond League has been continuing quietly in the background.

At the Paris Meet on 28 August, Giles Elliott (he of the interestingly-shaped buttock) was just out of the medals in the men’s 800m, finishing in 4th position in 1:44.92. Dina Asher-Smith was third in the women’s 100m, with a time of 11.06.

At the Brussels meet on 3 September, we had a good showing in the women’s 800m, with Keely Hodgkinson finishing 2nd in 1:58.16 and Jemma Reekie in 3rd in 1:58.77. Dina Asher-Smith was 3rd again but this time in the 200m, finishing in a season’s best of 22.04. Cindy Sember was just out of the medals, finishing 4th in the 100m hurdles in 12.79.

The finals of the 2021 Diamond League will take place on 8-9 September in Zurich. The Great North Run will be televised from 8:30am on 12 September and the Great Manchester run will be televised from 11:00am on 26 September, both on the BBC.

Dottie Dear’s almanac for September:  blue blood

Dee Spencer-Perkins has once again been communing with Dottie Dear in Hainault Forest. I think one or both of them may have been taking mind altering substances…

There was great excitement in the Forest this month.  Dottie had heard on Facebook that His Highness the Twirl of Brentwood* was coming to make a grand visit to Hainault, and would be having a procession along some of the trackways in order to see how things are done in Havering and Redbridge.

Dottie felt that she wanted to make a good show. She decided to put up some bunting and rearrange her garden gnomes so that they lined the trackway near her tree house in a ceremonial fashion, making an archway of their fishing rods for the Twirl to pass through. She put them on little plinths, which raised up the fishing rods only to knee-height but this was, she considered, a bit better than having them at ground level.

She was expecting the Twirl to be preceded by several officers and dignitaries, and was hoping that there would be not only pomp but also circumstance, with music played on sackbuts and psalteries and maybe even a brass band of sorts (two abreast, of course, to reflect the confines of the trackway).

However, it all turned out to be something of a damp squib. At 10.45 am on the expected day, Dottie was waiting at the foot of her tree, and straining to hear the first sounds of approaching greatness. There was nothing for a while, then she caught the distant wailing of some (badly played) bagpipes.  The wailing and droning got gradually closer, and finally, a bedraggled figure stumbled into view.  It was not the Twirl at all, but instead the sorry (and soggy) shape of the Twat of Basildon, a well-known local character who fancied himself as Highlander (but had never actually been further north than Manchester).

From this disappointing morning, Dottie was able to dredge some pearls of wisdom to share with us all:

  • Don’t believe everything you read on social media.
  • Always check your facts.
  • Bagpipes are OK when played by a competent musician (but not otherwise).
  • Some people have delusions of grandeur. Other people just have delusions.

Sorry, Dottie. Put it all down to experience.

  • NB A Twirl is like an Earl, but a bit curlier.

ELVIS is leaving the building…

There is only one race left in the ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series) competition; the ever-popular East London Runners’ Valentines Park Charity 5k on 26 September (more details in the BRR Diary, below). Places are selling fast so sign up soon if you don’t want to miss out. In our own, internal, Club ELVIS competition, male and female first places are sewn up (I get the prize for turning up!) but there is still jostling for second and third positions, with the women’s competition especially close.

This year, Dagenham 88 Runners are organising the presentation evening for the ELVIS series, at the May & Bakers Social Club on Friday 8th October at 7pm. The venue will be open until 11pm and there is plenty of parking and accessible public transport. There will be a buffet and some music and a payable bar. All members of ELVIS clubs are welcome so please do go along.

…Chingford League is entering the building

The 65th year of the Chingford League starts on Saturday 18th September with a 5k race on the infamous Hog Hill course at Redbridge Cycling Centre – see the BRR Diary for details. There is no entry charge for BRR members (the Club pays to participate in the League) but you must register in advance. Let me know if you want to take part (with your date of birth, so you can be put in the correct age category) by Midnight Wednesday 15th September. If you’re not sure, better to register just in case. if you can’t come to Hog Hill but want to run in other Chingford League races (the next race will be a XC on 2nd October in Central Park, Dagenham), you can let me have your name for that too. A bib number will be allocated to you which you keep for the whole series, except the relays in March.

Go Wild in the Country!

There is a meeting on 13th September to decide the fixture list for the 2021-22 South Essex Cross Country League (SECCL) season. We’ll post details of the races that will make up the season as soon as they are confirmed, but you can expect mud, mud, mud and hills, hills, hills!

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

A quiet week for Barking roadrunners this week racing wise but those that did compete did very well.

Jack Nixon achieved 1st place in his category in the Eastern Masters athletics league with an impressive time of 4:44:9.

Jess Collett finished 4th in her category with a new 10k personal best of 44:10 in the Cancer research London Summer run.

It was also a good week for Rory Burr, BRR’s resident parkrun tourist, as he finally added Preston parkrun to his long list of different venues albeit 18 months late thanks to COVID. Rory completed it in a time of 23:14.

Barking Road Runners at parkrun

Barking Park

Adrian Davison 22:07, Trevor Cooper 23:31, Rosie Fforde 23:48, Colette Thompson 23:53 (PB), Paul Wyatt 23:56, Debbie Coyle 23:57, Joyce Golder 25:01 (PB), Ricky Singh 25:24, John Lang 26:08, Andrew Hiller 26:14, Sally Bridge 26:26, Rabea Begum 26:53, Jason Li 28:07, Emma Botterill 28:31, Greg Adams 29:50, Cristina Cooper 31:21, Nikki Cranmer 32:33, Kresh Veerasamy 34:09, Dawn Blake 36:27, Micky Ball 38:32, Ken Summerfield 41:18 and Alan Murphy 47:05.


Martin Page 24:18

Chalkwell Beach

Ron Vialls 23:17


Rory Burr 23:14

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford 28:37

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 25:16 and Andrew Gwilliam 29:09.

Walker and Deal sea front

Colin Jones 27:18.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 7 September – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. This week we will be doing a nice descending ladder, starting with two minutes, 90 seconds, 75 seconds, 60 seconds and 45 seconds, with the same length of recovery after each rep. Sounds easy, but there’s a catch (of course!); as each rep gets shorter, you so more of them e.g. 1x2mins, 2x90secs, 3x75secs etc etc. My whistle will be very busy!

Here is the summary of mile times for those who ran last week (hope you can read it):

6.45pm, Thursday 9 September – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub.

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

1.00pm/1.40pm, Saturday 18 September – Hog Hill 5k, Chingford League. This is a tough race around the tarmac track at the Redbridge Cycling Centre, Forest Road, Hainault, IG6 3HP. Women’s race first, then the men. Presentations for the previous year’s competition at 12.30pm (Martin Page has won a trophy, so there is BRR interest).

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 – Haile Gebrselassie

Before Eliud Kipchoge, the hero of the marathon distance was Haile Gebrselassie, and many still consider him the greatest distance runner of all time.

Haile was born one of ten children on a farm in central Ethiopia on 18 April 1973. As a child he used to run 10k to and from school. This led to a distinctive running posture, with his left arm crooked as if still holding his school books.

He first gained international recognition in 1992 when he won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the 1992 Junior World Championships in Seoul, and a silver medal in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships. The next year Haile won the first of what would eventually be four consecutive world championships titles in the men’s 10,000m at the 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 World Championships. In 1994 he set his first world record by running 12:56.96 in the 5,000m. He took the 10,000m record in 1995 with a time of 26:43.53. He spent the rest of the 90s losing and regaining the 5k and 10k world records.

In 1999, Haile starred as himself in the film Endurance, which chronicled his quest to win Olympic gold in the 10,000m in Atlanta in 1996. He repeated the feat at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, becoming the third man in history to successfully defend an Olympic 10,000m title (after Emil Zátopek and Lasse Virén). Haile won all of his races that year, ranking first in the world in both the 5,000m and 10,000m.

Unfortunately, shortly before the Athens Olympics in 2004, he suffered inflammation of his Achilles tendon and was unable to train for three weeks. He competed due to  significant pressure from his country but the loss of the final period of training resulted in him leaving the Games without a medal. Following the Olympics he left the track and focused on road racing and the marathon. He had already won the IAAF World half marathon in 2001 and competed in the London Marathon in 2002, finishing in 3rd place. He followed this up with 1st places at the marathons in Amsterdam (2005), Berlin (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Fukuoka (2006), Dubai (2008, 2009, 2010). He also won all the half marathons he competed in until 2009, when he was beaten into 2nd place at Den Haag.

2005 was a particularly good year, with Haile undefeated in all of his road races. This included a British All-Comers record in the 10K at Manchester (27:25), the Amsterdam Marathon, and a new world best for 10 miles in Tilburg in the Netherlands (44:24).

In 2007 Haile made a surprise return to the track. On 27 June 2007 he broke the world record for the one hour run, in Ostrava, Czech Republic, passing the hour mark at 21,285m (13 miles 397 yards). Furthermore, Haile covered 50 laps (20,000 m) in 56:25.98, another world best. These were his 23rd and 24th world records.

Haile is human, however, and suffers from asthma. He dropped out of the 2007 London marathon at the 18-mile stage complaining of a stitch and inability to breathe, which turned out to be an allergic reaction to the pollen in the air. He subsequently withdrew from 2008 Beijing Olympics due to concern about air pollution levels, though later regretted it as the air was cleaner than expected. In 2010 he tried to beat his own world record for the third consecutive time at the Dubai Marathon but, although he won the race with a time of 2:06:09, his record attempt failed. In a post-race interview he revealed that he had suffered back pain, requiring intensive pre-race physiotherapy, resulting from having slept in a bad position. His problems continued at the NYC Half Marathon, where he pulled up mid-race due to an inflamed knee.

On 7 November 2010 Haile announced his retirement, having previously said that he would like to move into politics but, days later, he posted to his Twitter account that he was reconsidering his decision and wanted to run in the 2012 London Olympics. He won his first race back, a 10k road race in Angola with a new course record of 28:05. But his form was patchy and he was not selected for the Ethiopian team for  London. He did, however, appear at the opening ceremony as one of the eight flagbearers who brought the Olympic flag into the stadium.

Haile finally announced his retirement from competitive running in 2015 after finishing 16th in the Great Manchester Run, bringing to an end a 25-year career in which he claimed two Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship victories and set 27 world records. “I’m retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life,” he told BBC Sport. Hear, hear!

Running on Roads

The announcement that entries have opened for the 2022 Brentwood Half reminded me that some stretches of the race can get rather ‘exciting’ as you are running on open roads, cheek-by-jowl with the traffic. So I thought it might be timely to post some tips for running on roads.

Keep your wits about you

Lots of us like to zone out during a run. That’s not an option on the road, where you’ll need to be more aware of your surroundings. Consider blind spots such as blind corners and the crests of hills and pay attention to potential and unexpected oncoming traffic where you might need to move to the verge. Country roads are often the worst for this, where higher speed limits and twisting and turning roads bring out the Lewis Hamilton in some drivers, making running particularly hazardous – stay alert and aware at all times.

Ditch the headphones

Some of like to run to music but headphones are a no-no when you’re running alongside traffic. You need all your senses to be fully alert and that includes hearing oncoming traffic before you see it. Most England Athletics licensed races permit the use of bone conduction headphones which sit outside the ear and allow you to hear ambient noise. Just be aware that listening to your favourite tunes, or that hilarious podcast, may still distract you at a crucial moment.

Run towards oncoming traffic

Always run towards oncoming traffic. This gives you the ability to react quickly to drivers coming towards you, and jump into a ditch/bush if necessary. That said, use your common sense. For example, if you encounter a sharp right-hand bend, consider if it’s safer for you to cross to the other side (well before the corner) where you’re more visible to drivers.

Be heard

If you have run a race on open roads before you will be familiar with the cry of ‘Car! Car!’, to let you know that a vehicle is approaching either in front or behind you. If you are aware of a vehicle that your fellow runners may not have spotted, it is considerate to let them know it’s coming and, hopefully, they will do the same for you.

Be seen

For daytime running, hi-vis fabrics work best for visibility, but their effect at night under street lights is limited so opt for lots of reflectivity as well/instead. Reflective strips on moving areas of the body such as your arms, legs and feet work particularly well to catch the attention of drivers. If it’s really dark, where a headtorch to enhance visibility further.

Be mindful of your personal safety

At night, try to run with others where you can and where that’s not possible try to stay to well-lit roads and avoid deserted areas. Always take your mobile with you in case of emergency and tell someone your planned route. Take some ID with you in case the worst happens.

Cracker Corner

Three from Rob’s friend, Charlie. Seems everyone is getting in on the act!

Boeing have invented an invisible plane. I can’t see it taking off.

What sounds like a sneeze and is made of leather? A shoe.

And finally…

Sitting outside the Splash Park the Friday before our Bank Holiday race,  I heard an interesting conversation. Two teenage girls walked past. Girl 1 complained to her friend that her shoe laces kept coming undone. Girl 2 suggested that she tie the laces in a double bow. ‘What do you mean, how do I do that?’ asked Girl 1. Girl 2 bent down and tied the shoes for her, while explaining how to do it, only to be met with an anguished cry of ‘but how am I supposed to get them off now?!’ I despair…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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