Howdie Road Runners

A very well done to everyone to participated in this year’s London Marathon, whether as a runner or a volunteer. I know we can all get cynical about VMLM now and then, and bemoan the fact that it has become more of a charity fundraising event than a serious run for serious runners. But there’s little doubt that the event catches the public imagination, and I’m sure that it encourages many people to put on their running shoes, some of whom will go on to become lifelong runners. Those of you who were lucky enough to get a place made it your own race – every one of you did fantastically well.

We’ve also been bemoaning the fact that the marathon places we previously got for manning the Mile 14 water station seem to have disappeared. It’s not clear whether this is a temporary measure, while the places are needed for those who carried forward their places from 2020, or something more permanent. From working on the water station, however, it was clear that those volunteering did so not because they were hoping to get a marathon place, but because they really enjoyed being part of the day, and the buzz of the whole event, from seeing the elite athletes up close, to cheering on and supporting the masses, including all our friends.

Next year’s race will be on 2 October. You can enter the ballot now at Otherwise, hope to see you all back at the water station next year!

September Committee Meeting

The minutes of the September Committee meeting can be found here 210927 – September 2021 Committee Meeting. It was a very interesting meeting with lots of discussion about Committee roles. Do take a minute to have a look at the minutes!

Members’ Cup 2021 and Club Charity

It’s that time of the year again when all members – first and second claim, are asked to vote for the member who they think has made the biggest contribution to the Club in the preceding year. The member that receives the most votes will receive a trophy.

You cannot vote for yourself and the same member cannot win the trophy two years in a row; last year’s winner was Alison Fryatt so you cannot vote for Alison. Please don’t try and vote more than once – I will know! In the event of a tie, all the members with the same winning score will be awarded a trophy.

You can find the link to vote here: Alternatively, I will print out some paper voting forms that you can hand back to me. the vote closes on 5 November.

Athletics in The News

I’ll leave Greg to cover all the BRR action at the London Marathon, but let’s spare a minute for the elite athletes that competed.

There was an Ethiopian 1, 2, 3 in the men’s race: Sisay Lemma 2:04.01, Vincent Kipchumba 2:04.28, and Mosinet Geremew 2:04.41. Four brits placed in the top ten: Philip Seseman, Joshua Griffiths, Matthew Leach, and Andrew Davies. In the women’s elite race, Joyciline Jepkosgei was first in 2:17.43 followed by Degitu Azimeraw 2:17.58 and Ashete Bekere in 2:18.18. But the great news was for GB was that Charlotte Purdue finished in tenth place. Her time of 2:23.26 was a new Personal Best and makes her the third fastest GB female marathon runner of all-time. It also guarantees her a place at the World Championships in Eugene next year.

You might remember that Purdue was overlooked for a place in the GB team for the Tokyo Olympics. When asked a few days ago by the Guardian how this left her feeling, Purdue said “It’s definitely tainted my desire. Obviously, it is an honour to run for Great Britain but I won’t forget about this whole year and situation,” she added. “I was gutted because I’d been thinking about Tokyo for so long.”

It’s impossible to know how well Purdue would have done if she had taken part in the Olympic marathon (in a temperature of 28 degrees, race winner Peres Jepchirchir finished in a modest – by elite standards! – 2:27.20), but I’m sure Purdue feels vindicated. Oh, and well done to Eilish McGolgan who paced Purdue to the 14-mile point before dropping out right in front of our water station.   

BRR in Action

(with thanks to Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

This week was Round 2 of the Chingford League which was a 5-mile cross country run at Central Park incorporating part of the Eastbrookend Country Park. BRR were well represented with 15 runners competing. Results haven’t been published yet but known BRR times are Joe Stacey 30:23, Adrian Davison 37:33, John George 38:36, Rosie Fforde 39:08, Daniel Plawiak 39:53, Martin Page 42:59, Joyce Golder 43:31, Rabea Begum 44:13, Chris Anastasi 47:36, Isabel Pinedo Borobio 50:30, Alison Fryatt 53:07, Kresh Veerasamy 59:32, and Micky Ball 1:07.02.

BRR had 11 runners taking part in the London Marathon this year and also over 80 members, family and friends manning the 14-mile water station with some seconded to the nearby Lucozade station. First finisher for BRR was Jack Nixon finishing in a championship time of 2:39:55, 1st female for BRR Jess Collett also achieved a fast time of 3:41:17. Other BRR runners were James Lowndes 3:30:57, Cristina Cooper 4:06:09, Trevor Cooper 4:09:10, Faye Spooner 4:21:08, Gopal Myilsamy 4:22:58, Debra Jean-Baptiste 4:48:05, Jason Li 5:39:40, Andy Hiller 5:43:34, and Greg Adams 6:45:33. Alain Cooper completed the virtual marathon, in 4:59.04. Well done everyone.

Elsewhere Jon Furlong competed in the Chelmsford Half Marathon. Starting in Chelmsford city centre and finishing on the iconic campus of Anglia Ruskin University, the course route runs through the major landmarks in Chelmsford. Jon finished in 2:02.47.

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park

Ricky Singh 23:32, Trevor Cooper 24:32, John Lang 26:53, Martin Brooks 27:58, Nikki Cranmer 32:47, Les Jay 34:25, Alan Murphy 47:14, Trevor Parkin 48:33, Cristina Cooper and Amanda Jane Heslegrave both 50:49 (tailwalkers).


Rob Courtier 31:02

Harrow Lodge

Rory Burr 25:04.

Raphaels Park

Debbie Coyle 21:30.

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 24:23.

It Only Takes Four Seconds …

Think my track reps are too tough? You may be in luck. A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests regular intervals of just four seconds can improve your fitness and musculature.

The research got 11 healthy, active young men and women to push themselves through 30 repetitions of four-second, all-out intervals on bikes, with 15 seconds rest in between. They completed this session three times a week for eight weeks – totalling just 48 minutes of training over two months. Other than these intervals, they did no other exercise.

At the end of the eight weeks, they had added 13 percent to an aerobic fitness goal and 17 percent to their muscular power measured by how many watts they produced while pedalling the bike.

The results would suggest that just four seconds of all-out effort, repeated multiple times, is enough of a stimulus to make already fit people even fitter. For those of us without access to a watt bike, the researchers suggest alternatives in the shape of four-second sprints up a hill or running up stairs two or three at a time.

Before you swap your running schedule for this four-second fix, however, there are some fairly large caveats to consider. Many previous studies have shown that lots of low-level movement throughout the day – such as walking or easy running – is beneficial from a metabolic health perspective, in a way that long sedentary periods followed by bursts of intense exercise is not.

As study lead Dr Ed Coyle (no relation to Debbie – or, at least, I think not) stated: ‘In general, it would be a good idea to get up and move all day – and then sometimes also to move in a way that is physically intense.’

If you want to give the four-second reps a go, you can incorporate them in your normal running routine. After a 10-minute warm-up, including some strides at 90 per cent intensity, run up a gentle gradient at maximum capacity for 4 seconds. Walk back down for 15 seconds and repeat 30 times. Then cool down.

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 5 October – Speed Development, Jim Peter’s Stadium. I’m expecting all the marathon runners to be taking a break, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t work hard! We’ll be doing 15 x (90 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery) followed by Tabata for four minutes: 8 x (20 seconds hard, 10 seconds recovery). Just 34 minutes in total, but some very hard minutes. Here’s last week’s mile times for those of you who took part:

6.30pm, Thursday 7 October – hill work from the Jo Richardson School. We’ll be warming up by turning left from Gale Street into Woodward Road. Then right into Lodge Avenue for some hills alongside the park before a cool-down run back to the School via Maplestead/Goresbrook Road. One hour maximum, and home in time for dinner.

7.30pm (TBC) – Wednesday 20 October – Lee Valley Velopark, Chingford League 03. Free entry for BRR members. A few of you have done this before and (just about) lived to tell the tale. If you thought Hog Hill was tough… More details to follow.

7.00pm, Thursday 28 October – BRR Annual General Meeting, Jo Richardson School, Gale Street, Dagenham. You chance to elect the Committee and vote on any proposed Club rule changes.

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.

8.04am (later for 10k), Sunday 12 December – Sikhs in the City Dawn ’til Dusk Ultra. Various distances: 10k, HM, Marathon and Ultra. The longer distances start at sunrise (8:04) and ultrarunners can keep going until sunset (15:45). Ran over a tough 2k course, with about 1k of climb each lap. The best bit is the Indian food afterwards. £15 for the 10k, £35 for all other distances. Details and sign-up here:

Running Hero – Stan Rowley

While regretting missing out on the third female team prize at the Ingatestone 5 a few weeks ago due to not having a third female team member (other than Les, and he didn’t count), I stumbled across the story of Australian sprinter Stan Rowley. I was left thinking ‘If only we’d had our own version of Stan at Ingatestone!’

Rowley was born in Sydney in 1876. He first showed promise as a sprinter by finishing second in the 1895 New South Wales 100yds title and went on to win four national championships. In 1898/99 he won the 100yds in 10 seconds and the 220yds in 22.4 seconds. In 1899/1900 he won the 110yds in 9.9 seconds and the 220yds in an Australasian record 22.2 seconds.

Although the Australian authorities decided not to send a team to the 1900 Paris Olympics, sufficient funds were raised by private subscription to enable Rowley to go to Europe on the P&O liner ‘Australia’. Taking five months leave from his job as a stock-keeper, he arrived in London in June and, after reaching the final of the AAA (Amateur Athletics Association) 100 yards, the English Association agreed to pay his expenses to Paris, where he joined fellow Australasians, swimmer Freddy Lane, and shooter Donald Mackintosh.

Rowley competed in the short sprint events. He had never raced over 100m prior to the Games and, after finishing second in the semi-finals, he slipped to bronze position in the final in a time of 11.2 seconds, just 0.1 seconds behind the winner. The 60m race saw him finish third again in 7.2 seconds, less than half a metre behind the gold medal winner. Rowley went on to win a third bronze medal in the 200m (22.9 seconds).

Medals were not awarded in all events at the 1900 Games and Rowley was instead presented with a carriage clock, a ladies’ purse, and a silver paper knife.

Once Rowley had finished his sprint programme, he was asked by English friends to join their 5000m cross country team because they were a man short. They had confidence that they could win regardless of how well the fifth runner performed. Because Olympic rules were very flexible at the time, and despite the fact that he had no experience in longer races, he became their fifth team member.

The event was held on Sunday July 22, and the Americans withdrew because they objected to competing on the Sabbath. This left two contenders, France and Britain, and without Rowley the result would have been a walkover for France. In this event (discontinued after 1900), each finishing place represented a point, and the team with the lower total of points was judged the winner.

After British runners finished first, second, sixth, and seventh, it was clear that they would win, even if Rowley finished tenth: its total was 26 and the French total was 29. He ran for a lap, then started to walk. In a letter written home after the race he said: “…I could run, walk, roll, or do anything I like as long as I finished… the spectators would cheer me in fun every time I passed the grandstand, where I would stop and bow politely, raise my cap, have some refreshment and resume my march amid the laughter of the French spectators… finally they allowed me to stop, seeing I could only get last place”. Despite this Rowley, in the view of the IOC, won a gold medal alongside the rest of the British team.

Overall, Rowley won four medals at the 1900 Paris Olympics, three bronze for Australia and one gold for Great Britain and Ireland, making him the first Australian to win a track sprint medal at the Olympic Games and the only Olympian in history to win medals for two different countries at the same Olympics.

After retiring from competitive running Rowley served as the treasurer of the Amateur Athletics Union of Australasia from 1908 until 1924 and was the NSW delegate to the AAU on a number of occasions. He worked in the stock and pastoral industry in Sydney until his untimely death.

11 September 1876 – 1 April 1924

Cracker Corner – the military edition

A new camp commander was appointed and, while carrying out his inspection, he saw two soldiers guarding a bench. He went over and asked them why they were guarding it.

“We don’t know. The last commander told us to do so, and we did. It’s some sort of regimental tradition”.

The commander searched for the last commander’s phone number and called him to ask why he placed guards on this particular bench.

“I don’t know. The previous commander had guards, and I kept the tradition”.

The commander went back through another three commanders until he found a now 100-year-old retired General.

“Excuse me Sir, I’m now the Commanding Officer of the camp you commanded 60 years ago. I’ve found two men assigned to guarding a bench. Could you tell me more about that bench?”

“What? Is the paint still wet ?!?”

And Finally…

We may have had half of our equipment missing from our water station boxes yesterday, but what we did get was an especially loud and piercing whistle, as everyone who was unfortunate enough to be standing near me when I blew it will know. Don’t tell anyone, but they were not in the box that was returned to London marathon Events (oh dear, did I just happen to forget to return it to the box at the end of the day?). Get ready to hear it A LOT at track on Tuesday. I’m just worried that it might attract all the local dogs to the Jim Peters Stadium too…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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