Howdie Road Runners

Another busy week for BRR, with ELVIS finally leaving the building at Valentines Park – well, for this year at least – and members taking part in several other races.

The coming week is looking equally busy. Probably for those of you who aren’t marathonning (is that a word?), we have the next Chingford League race on Saturday – let me know if you want to take part. We then finish the week with the London Marathon on Sunday.  To make up for the hard work, there are a couple of social opportunities, pre- and post-marathon, to chat about the day with people who won’t be sick of talking about running. See the BRR Diary for details.

Athletics in the news

Last week’s running hero, Sir Brendan Foster, has been suggested as a possible successor to current UK Athletics’ chairman, Nic Coward, when he steps down next month. UKA is seen as being in crisis and Foster, with his background in athletics, broadcasting contacts, and proven business acumen, is seen as a potential saviour.

The blame for Team GB’s ‘underwhelming’ performance at the Tokyo Olympics, where no gold medals were won for the first time since 1996, and the loss of a lucrative BBC broadcasting deal, are both laid at the door of UKA. The governing body was also the subject of a critical independent review last year and is mired in financial challenges, made worse by the pandemic.

Michael Heath MBE, previously a board member of England Athletics, has written to UK Sport chairwoman Dame Katherine Grainger, copied to the Minister for Sport, making the case for Foster being given the UKA chair role when it becomes vacant. The letter, which has been leaked to the media, reads:

‘‘The role of chair is being publicly advertised. There is a strong feeling in the domestic sport that either UK Sport should make a direct approach to Sir Brendan Foster to take on the role with a clear remit to make whatever changes to board and executive he feels necessary.

‘Sir Brendan’s knowledge of the sport, his contacts for example with the BBC, his commercial expertise and the respect in which he is held all make him the perfect candidate. All aspects of the impending Great North Run (founded by Foster in 1981) demonstrate why he is the right person at this time.

‘My soundings amongst the leaders of the clubs say he would be welcomed by athletes, coaches and officials.

‘Athletics is on the verge of a crisis that could lead to its permanent decline. Without strong respected leadership this decline will inevitably continue.’

BRR in Action

(Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

East London Runners hosted the final round of the ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series), a 5k race at Valentines Park. Barking Roadrunners were well represented on the day. Adrian Davison was 1st male finisher for BRR in 21:50. He also finished 2nd in his category. Rosie Fforde was 1st female finisher for BRR with a time of 23:18.

Other BRR runners were Trevor Cooper 22:51, John George 23:10, Cristina Cooper 24:53, Joyce Golder 25:44, Rabea Begum26:05, Jason Li 26:55, Chris Anastasi 28:22, Isobel Pinedo Borobio 28:51, Dennis Spencer-Perkins 29:29, Greg Adams 31:38, Alison Fryatt 31:47, Kresh Veerasamy 34:17 and Micky Ball 39:26.

In BRR’s internal ELVIS completion, Trevor Cooper finished 1st male and Alison Fryatt finished 1st female with Jason Li and Cristina Cooper and Joyce Golder runners up.

BRR’s Paul Withyman took part in the New Forest Marathon finishing in 3rd place overall in a personal best marathon time of 3:24:38.

Nehal Patel and Nabeel Akram competed in the Hackney Half Marathon finishing in a respectable 1:54:36 and 2:40:04 respectively.

Also in Hackney, Alison Fryatt ran in the Hackney Moves 5k finishing in a time of 31:21.

Ken Summerfield took part in the Windsor Half Marathon finishing the course in a time of 3:22:55.

Trevor Cooper finished 3rd male in his Category at the Hever Castle triathlon sprint+ distance.

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park

Owen Wainhouse 20:53, Adrian Davison 21:49(pb), Belinda Riches 24:02, Ricky Singh 24:21, Joyce Golder 25:28, Rabea Begum 26:11(pb), Andrew Hiller 26:15, John Lang 26:16, Alain Cooper 27:29, Emma Paisley 28:10, Isobel Pinedo Borobio 28:38, Martin Brooks 30:41, Nikki Cranmer 32:46, Tom Coughlan 32:56, Greg Adams 34:21, Micky Ball 38:10 and Jenni Birch 38:36


Martin Page 25:48

Chalkwell Beach

Antony Leckerman 22:05

Clacton seafront

James Lowndes 21:24 and Barry Culling 26:22

Marlborough Common

Rob Courtier 33:01

Raphaels Park

Gary Harford 27:49

London Marathon Water Station – update #03

Almost time for the marathon! If you are running, hopefully you will have worked through your training plan (you DID have a training plan, right?) and be doing those last few sharpening runs but otherwise chillaxing and preparing mentally for the big day. If you haven’t done all your training, it’s too late now – consider if your expectations are still realistic and then go out there and enjoy the experience.

For those of you who are volunteering on the water station, I posted the Drinks Station Handbook on Facebook and WhatsApp, but here are some key points/reminders:

Make sure you take your lateral flow test in the 48 hours before the event and have your result ready to show on the day.

Rob had our security lanyards to hand out. It gives you free TFL travel for Sunday only.  Please make sure you wear it on the day.

Our shift start time is 8.30am, but it will be great to have a few of you there a bit earlier if you can make it – please let us know if you can. If you don’t know where the water station is located, Dennis will be meeting people at Barking Station so you can arrive as a group. Meeting time to be advised.

We’ll need people to fill a variety of roles, not just handing out the water. This includes checking in volunteers, distributing kit, loading up the water tables, distributing the water, and overseeing the recycling and clearing up of bottles. Please be flexible and help out where needed; I know handing out the water is a fun job, but all the roles are equally important on the day for giving the runners a great experience.

Our timetable:

  • 7:00 – early bird start time
  • 8:30 – shift start time
  • 9:33 – lead wheelchair
  • 10:12 – elite women
  • 10:35 – elite men
  • 15:11 – last runner (8-hour cut-off pace)
  • 15:30 – shift end time

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 28 September – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. I don’t believe it! It’s the end of the month again, which means the timed mile. The usual 300s with 100m recovery afterwards, as many as it takes to get you to 7:50pm.

6.30pm, Thursday 30 September – Road run from the Jo Richardson School, Gale Street. We’ll be incorporating the Eddie Stobart hill.

6.00pm, Friday 1 October – China Friend (formerly Yaki Noodle Bar), near Barking Station. Traditional pre-London marathon carb loading. Turn up when you can. You don’t need to be running the Marathon to join in!

11.00am, Saturday 2 October – Central Park XC (5M). Chingford League 02. Free entry for BRR members. The course is similar to the relay course from April, but with two extended laps. Postcode RM10 7FJ. If you ran at Hog Hill, please bring your number. If haven’t already got your name on the list and want to run, please let me know by 10.00pm on Thursday 30 September. If you are not running, it would be great if you could come and marshal.

Sunday 3 October – Virgin Money London Marathon. Details above.

7.00pm, Sunday 3 October – post-Marathon drinks and chat at the Prince of Wales pub, Green Lane.

11.00am, Sunday 14 November – Stebbing 10. A popular race amongst BRR members, which starts with a short Remembrance Day service by the war memorial in the centre of the village. There is usually a nice, poppy-themed, medal.

(Re)Motivate Yourself

We all sometimes lose our running mojo. Here’s the next suggestion for re-awakening your enthusiasm

#02 – Read a book on running

Humans were born to run, and it has to be one of the simplest sporting activities out there. Yet many of us don’t understand the mechanics behind what makes the human body so great at running, or how we can do it even better. There are loads of books out there with ideas on how you can improve your performance, or biographies of some running greats. Both will give you a deeper understanding of running and hopefully inspire you to try new things. But it doesn’t have to be a ‘serious’ running book  to re-ignite your interest in running – I read ‘Running with Sherman’ by Christopher McDougall recently, the true story of how a rescue donkey was trained to run one of the toughest endurance races in the US. If a running donkey doesn’t motivate you, nothing will!

Supersapien Glucose Monitoring

At the Hackney Moves festival, Supersapien were handing out free glucose biosensors. The idea is that you stick the biosensor on your arm (like a nicotine patch) and it monitors your glucose level, with results displayed on an app. The connected app uses the results to tell you if your current fuelling strategy is working and when you need to refuel. I left my name with the promoter and he said he would be in touch. If you are interested in trying the monitor, please let me know. You can find more about the biosensors here

Running Hero – Lasse Virén

If Sebastian Coe was Steve Ovett’s nemesis, then Lasse Virén was the same for last week’s running hero, Brendan Foster.

Lasse Virén was born in 1949, Myrskylä, Finland. He began his running career in the US at Brigham Young University in Utah, running for their Cross-Country team for one season before returning to Finland. Back home he became a policeman but continued his running career under Rolf Haikkola, a follower of the New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, who stressed the importance of endurance gained by running very long distances.

Virén debuted on the international scene in 1971 at the European Championships in Helsinki but he was overshadowed by fellow Finn Juha Väätäinen, who won gold medals in both the 5,000m and 10,000m with Virén settling for modest seventh and 17th placings, respectively.

At the 1972 Games in Munich, Virén fell during the 10,000m race but managed to scramble to his feet and make up the 50m lost to the leaders, holding off a last-minute charge by Belgium’s Emiel Puttemans to win the gold medal, and set a world record of 27:38.4 sec. The win gave Finland—a country that had dominated the distance events in the 1920s and early ’30s—its first gold medal in 36 years. Virén also won the 5,000m at Munich, a feat he repeated at the next Olympics in Montreal, becoming the first athlete to win both medals in two consecutive Games. He placed fifth in the marathon in Montreal in 2:13.11 – not a bad performance for one Olympic Games! His achievements saw him elected Finnish Sportsman of the Year in 1972 and 1976 and earned him the nickname of the ‘Flying Finn’.

As well as following a brutal training regime, Virén’s Olympic successes were said to be due to following the practice of bend (or curve) mathematics; he carefully ran almost all of the bends (curves) near the inner edge of the first lane, which spared him tens of metres compared to his chief rivals. He was accused of blood doping during his career but he never admitted it, although it wasn’t illegal at the time.

Because Virén focused his training on Olympic competition, his never really achieved his full potential. His highest achievement elsewhere was earning a bronze medal in the 5,000m event at the 1974 European championships. His final Olympic performance was a fifth-place finish in the 10,000 metres at the 1980 Games in Moscow. Virén said his poor performance was due to a leg injury, but some people claimed that Virén could have run better if he had not done so much endurance training during the preparation phase for the Moscow Olympics, resulting in stiffened leg muscles during the following speed training phase of the preparation and causing his injury

Virén retired from athletics after the Moscow Olympics and went on to become a politician. He was a member of Finland’s parliament from 1999 to 2007 and from 2010 to 2011.

Want to train like Virén? His training was structured around mainly base/endurance work in winter (often hitting 250k in a week), followed by speed training in spring and racing from May through to September. However, he had bouts of hard training mixed in during the racing period. He would always take a short break at the end of the season to re-charge his batteries (something we often fail to do).

Favourite training sessions included 5000m around the track of sprinting the straights and ‘floating’ (see below) the bends or 10 by 400m in 59 seconds with 200m jog recovery. Virén also regularly trained at altitude.

Typical training days might look like:

  • AM: 12k, with 8 x 600m surges up a hill within the run.
  • NOON: 15k fartlek run with surges every 2-4 minutes.
  • PM: 12k fartlek run, approximately 52 minutes.


  • AM: 12k, very slow.
  • NOON: 12k of intervals around a track e.g. 2 sets of 10 x 200m with 200m float (brisk) recoveries and 5 minutes rest between each set.
  • PM: 17k fartlek run, very slow.

Cracker Corner – the pirate edition

We’re plumbing new depths…

What’s a pirate’s favourite football team? Arrrr-senal

What happens if you take the p out of a pirate? He becomes irate!

Why did the pirate go to the Apple store? He needed a new ipatch

What is a pirate’s favourite exercise? The plank.

A pirate went to the doctor to have the moles on his one good arm examined. The doctor looked at them and said: “They’re benign.”
The pirate replied: “no, no doctor, there be 11. I counted them before I came here.”

And finally…

At the Ingatestone 5 a few weeks ago, BRR very nearly won the third prize in the women’s team competition. Unfortunately, when the names of our team were announced – Rosie Fforde, Alison Fryatt and Les Jay – we had to be honest and admit that Les Jay is a Leslie and not a Lesley. I think it was very selfish of Les to deny Rosie and me our prize and refuse to gender re-assign on the spot. Whatever happened to team spirit…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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