Howdie Road Runners

It’s been a busy week for running, and a busy week for BRR organisational activities too. In this week’s blog we have a very full round-up of Club activities, thanks to Greg, plus a full diary of activities going forward. We have some great runners in the Club at the moment and I think we’ve got a good chance of doing well in the leagues that we are in if our members turn out and represent BRR.

Rob and I attended the annual meeting of the South Essex Cross Country League to find out about the fixtures for this season. Rob also attended a meeting with Everyone Active, who manage the track, and I attended the briefing session for water stations at this year’s London Marathon. There are write-ups of all the meetings in the blog, and they are all worth a read!

Athletics in the news

The finals of the 2021 Diamond League took place on 8-9 September in Zurich and there were some good results for Team GB, and a few near-misses. Best performance was by Keely Hodgkinson who was first in the women’s 800m in 1.57.98, winning $30,000 and a guaranteed place in next year’s World Championships. Jemma Reekie was close behind in 4th place. Dina Asher-Smith came 2nd in the women’s 100m in 10.87, a season’s best. Daryll Neita was 4th. Dina was 3rd in the 200m in 22.19. Jazmin Sawyers was 4th in the women’s long jump and Holly Bradshaw was 4th in the pole vault. Giles Elliott (he of the interestingly-shaped buttock) was 5th in the men’s 800m (1.45.25), and Cindy Sember was 5th in the women’s 100m hurdles. I was a shame we didn’t have any GB representation in the longer distance races.

BRR in Action

(by Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

Completely opposite to last week, Barking Road Runners had plenty of races to choose from this week and we competed in several events including cross country, marathon, half marathon, 10ks, 5 mile races and duathlon events.

At the last race in the Essex 10k cross country in Weald Country Park on Saturday, the results were Joyce Golder 58:05, Martin Page 1:01:15, Chris Anastasi 1:05:46, Mick Davison 1:07:12, Martin Mason 1:07:13, Gary Harford 1:08:17, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 1:10:46, Alison Fryatt 1:12:41, Rob Courtier 1:14:06 and Les Jay 1:18:26.

On Sunday, at the Ingatestone 5-mile race BRR runners were: Joe Stacey who finished in 3rd place with a time of 28:40. Martin Mason finished 1st in his category. Also running were Ron Vialls, Rosie Fforde, Alison Fryatt, Rob Courtier and Les Jay

The Ingatestone Team…

…and the prizewinners

At the Havering Mind Half Marathon and 10k, Antony Leckerman 1:56:47:2, Jason Li 2:19:27, Greg Adams 2:45:05, and Mick Ball 3:11:24 completed the Half Marathon while John George finished in 6th place in the 10k with a time of 49:48:02.

Some of the boys at Havering

Faye Spooner completed the Brighton Marathon in a fantastic time of 4:09:56 despite the organisers admitting the course was 500 metres too long.

Faye in Brighton

BRR members Debbie Coyle , Trevor Cooper , Colette Thompson, Cristina Cooper and Paul Wyatt, who are also members of the Comrades Triathlon Club competed in the sprint distance race at Bridge Duathlon, Dartford.

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park

Adrian Davison 22:08, Rabea Begum 26:24, Sally Bridge 26:29, John Lang 26:30, Cristina Cooper 26:32, Andrew Hiller 26:55, Greg Adams 31:25, Dawn Blake 32:55 ,  Nikki Cranmer 34:10, Micky Ball 39:55, Jenni Birch 40:30, Ken Summerfield 41:40 And Alan Murphy 48:57.

Chelmsford Central

Vicki Groves 31.01.

Chalkwell Beach

Ron Vialls 25:09.

Hackney Marshes

Owen Wainhouse 20:54

Harrow Lodge

Rory Burr 23:57

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 25:14, Andrew Gwilliam 28:45, and Tom Coughlan 35:04.

Chingford League 2021-22 season

Thanks to everyone who has already registered their interest in running for BRR in this year’s Chingford League. You have until Midnight Wednesday 15th September if you want to take part in the 5k at Hog Hill Saturday 18th September. If you’re not sure, please register anyway; a bib number will be allocated to you which you keep for the whole series.

South Essex Cross Country League (SECCL) 2021-22

Rob and I attended a meeting of SECCL club representatives tonight to agree the fixture list for the 2021-22 competition.

It’s all change for the coming season. The Essex Country Parks are now under single management who have decided that they don’t want cross country races in the winter churning up the ground and creating mud. The season will therefore have to start in the spring. In addition, the parks are making a charge for each participant. This is on top of the other costs that the organising clubs have to pay, like first aid (approx. £400 per race) meaning that entry charges will have to increase. In recent years, BRR has met the cost of entry for our members, but we will have to pass some of the new charge on (it will still be a lot cheaper than most races); more details soon. In the meantime, please pencil these tentative 2022 dates and venues into your diaries:

  • Sunday 27th February – South Weald Country Park (Billericay Striders)
  • Sunday 27th March – One Tree Hill (Pitsea Running Club)
  • Sunday 24th April – Hadleigh Downs (Benfleet Running Club)
  • Sunday 15th May – Thorndon Country Park (Brentwood RC)
  • Sunday 19 June – TBA (Leigh-On-Sea Striders)

Meeting with Everyone Active

(By Rob Courtier)

BRR,  plus most of the users at the Jim Peters track, were invited by the new General manager of the local Everyone Active, Ashley King, to talk about track issues. The BRR Committee came up with these questions for me to ask at the meeting:
Q: Outside parking is an issue for members, especially as there has been a bad assault near the car park. Also there is nowhere safe to put our bags in bad weather.
A: This one was settled quickly, I managed to talk Ashley into letting us bring our cars back into the track, with immediate effect. Please drive very slowly with head lights on when driving onto the premises. Feel free to bring your car in this Tuesday to park.
Q: Tea-making and kitchen facilities now not easily available.
A: There was no real solution offered to this, but we can make tea in one of the big changing rooms and we can also do our warming down in the changing rooms when the weather gets bad. The sink outside the old kitchen is too small for filling a kettle, but it can be done with the jug tied to the sink.
Q: No locker keys, so nowhere safe to leave our gear.
A: We have asked for these keys many times; they have again said they will get the keys to us.
Q: The place is not very secure. Can’t shower (no privacy).
A: Luckily, no one really ever stops for a shower…
Q: Four Floodlights in a line are still not working.
A: Noted and hopefully they will be fixed soon.
Q: We are not happy using the toilets as mixed toilets.
A: This came about when the bikers refused to let the boxers use the Gents end of the building. When we are there I open the Gents end, but the male boxers and sometimes the footballers use the ladies end. This could have been sorted had the boxers and bikers bothered to turn up at the meeting. Simple solution: there is a Ladies end and a Gents end, let’s use it that way.
Q: Jim Peters Track was an Olympic Legacy for the local Community, and not for a Private company to push local clubs to the side. When there is a athletics meet now, and the competitors are waiting for their race, or their supporters – same applies with the footballers’ mums and dads waiting for a session to finish – there is nowhere for them to go and wait as the main hall is now a no-go area. I noted that there were big summer athletic meetings on Saturday mornings, mainly with children. If the weather changed, teher was nowhere for them to shelter. Also, if the weather is bad, there is nowhere for us to shelter when registering members, other than outside the Ladies toilets, blocking the way.
A: Ashley was not happy with what has gone on before he took over. He seemed to want to be helpful. The footballers were as livid as we are about being pushed aside to make way for the boxers. One ace he had up his sleeve to appease. He said there is a pot of money (£350,000) available; they are looking to take the hill out beside the changing rooms, and put a new building on it. That will take time.
Good meeting all in all. The two running clubs (us and Dagenham 88), and the long-time kids’ football coaches, all managed to get our points across. The clubs that turned up were of one voice at the meeting which helped. We were all listened to. We will have to muddle along for now, but let’s hope they can build the new building soon [I won’t hold my breath – Alison]. Bonus: we can now park in the track again and you can leave your bags in your cars. Us poor bikers will have to hope you car drivers are kind enough to let us put our bags in your boots [don’t hold your breath! – Alison].

London Marathon Water Station

Thanks again to everyone who has signed up to volunteer on our water station at this year’s London Marathon. I attended a meeting last week to hear further details of how the water stations will work this year.

The main thing to note is that ALL volunteers must take a lateral flow test in the 48 hours before the race. This can either be done with an at-home test, and the result uploaded on the NHS app, or at a walk-in centre. The result MUST be shown before you can start work on the water station.

We will need to set up the water station well before the runners start coming through. The first competitors on the day will start at 8.30, with the mass start between 9.30 and 11.00. Runners will be released in waves of 1,000 (around 42 waves in total!). The course will close down 8 hours after the last runners crosses the start line. We will be notified what time our shift starts by next week, but we can expect a long day!

Each volunteer will be given an accreditation pass, a navy jacket (one-off, to be kept and used for future years), Buxton t-shirt, cap, and mask. The t-shirt must be worn as the outer-layer, so it is visible. Masks must be worn by those handing out bottles. Gloves will also be provided, but these are optional.

We’ll also get a free lunch – not sure what it will consist of, so you might want to bring some snacks of your own if you are particular. Please make sure any dietary requirements – plus your top size, although they won’t guarantee the jackets will all be the right size – are included on your registration accessible via

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 14 September – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. We will be doing a time-based version of the favourite session of this week’s running hero, Kenenisa Bekele: 8 x (1 min hard, 90 secs recovery, 30 secs hard, 90 secs recovery). Bekele could run about 400m in the long rep and 200m in the short rep. That is probably just a little bit too tough for most of us, but let’s see how we do.

6.30pm, Thursday 16 September – hill work at Mayesbrook Park. Meet in the car park opposite the Round House pub. Please note the slightly earlier time, as we grab the last of the evening light.

1.00pm/1.40pm, Saturday 18 September – Hog Hill 5k, Chingford League 01. 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.

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

11.00am, Saturday 2 October – Central Park XC. Chingford League 02. Free entry for BRR members. Details to follow.

9.30am – Sunday 3 October – Virgin Money London Marathon. You already know if you are running or volunteering on the day. Good luck whichever it is!

10.00am, Sunday 16 January – the Benfleet 15. Advance warning of the tough but – for some unknown reason – popular race. It doesn’t look like entries have opened yet

10.00am, Sunday 20 March – Brentwood Half. The first BRR Grand Prix race for 2022. This race sells out quickly, so don’t delay entering if you want to take part. Enter at:

Running Hero – Kenenisa Bekele

A countryman of last week’s running hero, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenensis Bekele (born 13 June 1982) also began running at primary school in his hometown of Bekoji, Ethiopia. His early efforts were cross country, where he won the IAAF World Junior Cross Country title in 2001, but he soon turned his attention to the track, focusing on the 5k and 10k distances. In 2004 he set the world record for 5k at 12:37.35, following it up with the 10k world record (26:17.53) a year later. Sadly, that year, his fiancée died of an apparent heart attack while on a training run with him.

He won the gold medal for 10k and the silver medal for 5k at the Athens Olympics in 2004, following it up with gold medals in both distances at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

In 2014, after dominating the middle distance for a decade (he remained unbeaten over 10k from his track debut in 2003 until 2011, when he failed to finish at the World Championships final), he moved on to the marathon.

In March that year he produced the sixth fastest marathon debut ever on a record-eligible course with his victory at the Paris Marathon, in a course record time of 2:05:04. He went on to win the Berlin Marathon twice, in 2016 and 2019. He was involved in early attempts to break the two-hour barrier, but personally had doubts that it was humanly possible, saying once ‘in the future maybe, if scientists create different human beings… A human being cannot go that (fast)’.

He raced against Gebrselassie several times, with them splitting the honours between them. Many consider Bekele, rather than Gebrselassie to be the greatest distance runner of all time.

Bekele’s training

Want to run like Bekele? During his track years, it was claimed that he ‘only’ ran 80 miles a week. Once he moved to the marathon distance, this was initially upped to 110-125 miles a week, though after the Paris race he said he might have overtrained as he suffered cramps at around 18 miles – it didn’t stop him winning, of course! He cut back his mileage to 100-110 miles a week for later races.

Here is a typical training week for Bekele. Note: the altitude in Addis Ababa where Bekele trained was 7,000m. His average pace was 2:40/kilometre. One of the benefits of training in Ethiopia was the hills. Many of his sessions would involve fast running up and down hills to improve leg-speed and explosive power – a bit like our hill sessions at Mayesbrook Park!

  • Monday AM – 3 hour long run in the forest, 5:40/mile
  • Monday PM – rest
  • Tuesday AM – 1.5 hour run, stretching
  • Tuesday PM – 1 hour easy
  • Wednesday AM – 15-30k hard on road, half marathon/marathon pace
  • Wednesday PM – 1 hour easy
  • Thursday AM – long warm-up; sprints in spikes, jogging; 20 minutes stretching
  • Thursday PM – 1 hour easy
  • Friday AM – 15-20 400m hills with jog recovery; 15-20 mins stretching
  • Friday PM – 1 hour easy
  • Saturday AM – track work: 3 x 1200m to 8 x 2000m; stretching
  • Saturday PM – 1 hour easy
  • Sunday AM – 1 hour very easy
  • Sunday PM – 6 x 800m 1:57/800m pace

Another key specific session Bekele often used was 8x (400 in 52-54, rest, 200 in 24-25) with 90sec-2min rest between. This session helped to build pure speed but also the ability to hold it over longer distances, improving aerobic conditioning and his body’s ability to clear lactic acid quickly. The session would be performed at altitude around 10 days before a focus race, so that the race would feel easy in comparison!

Cracker Corner

Breaking news…

A farmer bought a bucket that was too big. It didn’t go down well.

The man who invented knock-knock jokes has won a no-bell prize.

The Chief Executive of IKEA has been elected Prime Minister of Sweden. He’s currently assembling his cabinet.

Prince Andrew is taking advice from Emma Radacanu on hos to handle a US court.

And finally…

I know you are all agog to hear whether my £13.99 Bridgedale socks have proved effective in preventing blisters. So far, so good: I have used them several times for the Thursday night Mayesbrook Park hill session, and for the Weald 10k cross country race last Saturday without a blister in sight. I suppose I should put them through their paces by wearing them to run the Benfleet 15 next January. However, I ran Benfleet in 2015 and again in 2020 and I really need to leave a whole five years before the next race to forget the horror…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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