Howdie Road Runners,

I thought I’d managed to escape it, but the dreaded Covid has finally caught up with me. I tested negative on Sunday afternoon, so hopefully I haven’t over-shared with those of you that were at the Victoria Park 5 on Saturday. You’ll be pleased to know that Captain Rob’s evil twin has offered to stand in and take the track session, and he’s feeling particularly evil at the moment. Be afraid, be very afraid!

Athletics in the News

Athletics Weekly reports that GB athletes are preparing for the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on 19 February. The Grand Prix is part of the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Tour (Gold). There are seven ‘Gold’ level meetings across the series which started with Karlsruhe on 28 January and concludes in Madrid on 2 March.

Throughout the series, each athlete’s best three results will count towards their overall point score. The athlete with the most points in each scoring discipline at the end of the tour will be declared the winner and will be awarded a 10,000 dollar bonus along with a wild card entry for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade in March.

Olympic finalist Jake Wightman, who will take part in the 1500m, is looking to break his own Scottish record (3:34.48) and possibly even Peter Elliott’s 31-year-old GB record (3:34.20) but has stiff competition from other GB athletes.  Wightman said:

“This is a special time for British endurance running and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to compete against these guys in Birmingham. We’ve seen what’s possible by our athletes on the global stage and that provides us with inspiration every day to do even better. I hope we can deliver some fast times, possibly even a British record, and a great race for the home crowd.”

BRR in Action

(Courtesy of Greg ‘the newshound’ Adams)

Chingford league round 6 this week and, after the hills and mud of Epping Forest for round 5, the fast and flat tarmac paths of Victoria Park were the setting this time round in a 5-mile race organised by Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC.  With both the BRR men’s and women’s teams lying third in their respective leagues and the men still in with a chance of promotion, they put out two strong teams for this race.

First finishers for BRR were Debbie Coyle and Joe Stacey for the women and men respectively. Second BRR woman was Jess Collett followed by Rosie Fforde, Joyce Golder, Belinda Riches, Isobel Pinedo Borobio, Kirsty Warwick- McDonagh and Alison Fryatt. Second finisher for the men was James Lowndes followed by Stuart Mackay, Colin Jones, Shuhel Khan, Adrian Davison, Daniel Plawiak, Tom Wagstaffe , Nehal Patel , Ron Vialls, Martin O’Toole, Jason Li, Gary Harford, Martin Mason, Dennis Spencer- Perkins, Les Jay, Rob Courtier and Kresh Veerasamy . With the results not in yet BRR will have to wait to find out if they can still win promotion with only the relays left on 5 March.

Alison Fryatt took part in the Sikhs in the City Platinum Jubilee run raising funds for the Mayor of Redbridge’s charity appeal project for young adult carers. Alison said the wind was blowing her backwards down Woodford Avenue although the Sunday morning downpour stopped before the race started. There was a consolation for her in that she finished first lady and was rewarded with a medal, samosas and cake [note: I only tested positive after the race, or I wouldn’t have taken part, even for samosas – Alison].

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park

Ricky Singh 25:40, Martin Brooks 26:20, Andrew Hiller 26:27, Trevor Cooper 27:40, Cristina Cooper 27:52, Kalli Fouseki 28:07, Micky Ball 40:00, Jenni Birch 40:35, Alan Murphy 50:23.

Harrow Lodge

Paul Withyman 19:16.

Mike End 

Kresh Veerasamy 36:35.

Rothay Park

Owen Wainhouse 22:31.


Rory Burr 23:11.

Valentines Park

Kevin Wotton 22:47.

Hainault Forest Project Update

The Sunday morning Hainault Forest trail runners have been speculating about the renovation work going on at the Forest. Here is the February update from the Hainault Forest Project and the Woodland Trust.

Landscapers are making great progress with stabilising the barns and laying paths, restoration work has also started on the farm. The Forge Barn has been dismantled for restoration, which will include re-instating a working forge. The new pedestrian and cycle path is nearing completion and work has started on a board walk over the lake (ooh, that sounds fun to run across!).

The Woodland Trust are continuing their work on the wood pasture habitats, opening them up by removing holly and other surrounding vegetation (called halo-thinning). This will give the ancient oaks more room and light, helping to protect these veterans of the forest and benefitting the important species that call them home.

If you are free, there will be a led walk and talk about the updates and progress of the Heritage Lottery Funded project on 17th February 2022 11am-12pm: Book here.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Forest…

Dottie Dear’s Almanac for February: poker face

Dottie is a bit of a sucker for sparkles and twinkles, so she had left up her solar powered Christmas lights for a few more weeks.  They were arranged around the balcony of the tree house and (she thought) gave out a cheery glow in the dark evenings of the early months.  Imagine her dismay then, when she got up one morning to discover that the cable had been chewed through in three places, and the merry lamps were now drooping sadly in the dank gloom of a February dawn.

It was a mystery. It couldn’t be foxes (who have a bad track record with rope ladders), and it was highly unlikely to be rats, who were more likely to hang around the picnic tables looking for scraps than to waste time hacking through cables.  Dottie, always full of initiative, decided to rig up a CCTV camera (night vision, £69.99 from Argos) in order to catch the culprit.

Horrors!  The camera revealed a giant squirrel – Dottie’s arch-nemesis since an unfortunate patio incident at Center Parc in Thetford Forest some years before. The camera revealed him cheekily munching his way through the cabling of the replacement lights she had laid out as bait. Dottie was now faced with a quandary.  As she had forgotten to switch the camera to colour vision, the footage did not confirm whether the squirrel was of the pesky grey variety (like the one at Center Parc), or whether it was a red squirrel, and therefore (she had heard on Countryfile) quite possibly endangered.

This would have to be thought through quite carefully.  She knew that the beastie was unlikely to be red (it didn’t have tufted ears) but she couldn’t risk it. However, a poker-playing friend (Laetitia von Grimm) had once told her that the best way to defeat an opponent is to have a strategy. This can be either conservative and defensive, or aggressive. In either case, the important thing is to be random, so that your adversary is constantly wrong-footed by your next move.

The next night, Dottie opted for the conservative approach, leaving a large bowl of nuts in a prominent position on the balcony.  Her rationale was that the squirrel (whom she had now dubbed Cyril) would go for the nuts rather than anything else.

Drats! In the morning not only had the nuts all gone but Cyril had taken the bowl as well, leaving some chewed nutshells on the platform and also some less than delicate nibble-marks on the conduit to the solar panel on the roof.

Time to up the ante.  This time, Dottie went into aggressive mode and sprayed WD40 onto all the other potentially tasty features of the tree house.  Waste of time!  By morning, Cyril had somehow found a way to get onto the balcony again, had carried on chewing and had left nose-prints all over the camera lens (a mark of contempt, Dottie thought).

The only option left was to be super-random. Armed with the knowledge that pine-martens are natural predators of squirrels, she dug out the inflatable sheep left over from the Hainault Woodland Folk Christmas Tableau, and with the aid of some boot polish and a few pipe-cleaners (she had been a fan of Blue Peter back in the day) transformed it into a Behemoth (of sorts) that Cyril might assume was a deadly foe.

You can probably guess what’s coming next. Dottie was woken in the night by a strange noise and rushed out on to the balcony in time to see the sheep spiralling up into the air emitting a fruitily tremendous raspberry noise as it went.  Cyril had easily dispatched the Monster with one nip of his razor-sharp teeth, and as a final insult he had left a pile of droppings on the decking.

Hoping that Cyril would go off and torment somebody else, Dottie retreated indoors to meditate on her advice for this month.

  • Always expect the unexpected.
  • NEVER encourage a squirrel to eat from your hand.
  • Sometimes it’s impossible to keep your enemy close.
  • Being consistently random takes a lot of energy (and may be an oxymoron anyway).

BRR Diary

7.00pm, Tuesday 8 February – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. Captain Rob’s evil twin is planning the Captain’s Challenge: 5 x 1k with 200m moving recovery followed by 200s with 200 recovery in any spare time (gulp!). The aim is to beat your normal 5k time when all the separate 1ks are added together.

7.00pm, Thursday 10 February – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually around 5 miles.

Saturday 5 February to 11 February – Virtual Handicap #03. Remember to submit your time on the results WhatsApp Group by Midnight on Friday or your result won’t count.

10.30am, Sunday 13 February – Ilford 10-mile XC. Hainault Forest. There are still places available at only £7/9. Entry via: or sign up on the day.

Saturday 19 February to 25 February – Virtual Handicap #04

10.00am, Sunday 20 February – Club XC05. Around 5 miles. Hainault Forest. The last race in the BRR internal XC competition. Starting by the café in Fox Burrow Road.

10.00am, Sunday 27 February – South Essex Cross-Country League #01. South Weald Country Park. Due to higher fees being charged by the Essex Country Parks, this year organisers are charging £5 per entry. The Club will pay £2 each of the entry fee, so you will only need to pay £3. More details to follow nearer the time. See below for details of the other races in the competition.

11.30am, Saturday 5 March – Chingford League 4x3000m xc relays. Wanstead Flats, near the parkrun start. Followed by presentations for 2021/22. The last race in the competition, with results count towards team scores. Male and female teams of four needed. We want to put out our strongest possible teams, so we will need to rank people in terms of speed (sorry, we don’t usually do this, but our promotion to the Premier – Chingford – League may depend on it).

South Essex Cross Country League

As the 2021-22 Chingford League season starts to draw towards its end (but don’t forget we still have the relays!) the SECCL 2022 season begins. Usually these races would take place over the winter months but, due to issues with booking the Essex country parks for the organising clubs, this year the races are mainly taking place in the spring and summer months. It would be great if BRR could get promoted and EVERY runner’s result helps the Club.

  • 27th Feb – Billericay @ Weald Park
  • 27th Mar – Pitsea @ One Tree Hil
  • 24th Apr – Benfleet @ Hadleigh Country Park
  • 15th May – Brentwood @ Thorndon Park or Secret Nuclear Bunker, near Kelvedon
  • 26th Jun – LOSS @ TBC

Sports Massage Therapy

In case anyone missed Cristina’s ringing endorsement of our very own Adrian Davison on WhatsApp:

“Big shout-out to Adrian! Not sure if many people know but he is an extremely skilled massage therapist! He first sorted my neck/shoulder that crippled me for a week. He’s now again worked magic on my “wonky” right leg which often gets tight as a result of an ongoing health issue. Highly recommend for any niggles or battered body (like mine) maintenance”.

Training Plans – the hill run

We covered the benefits of hill running a little while ago, but I’m happy to – once again – champion the benefits of including hill work in your training plans. Running hills is obviously essential if you are planning on a race with undulations. But, even if your ‘A’ race is ‘flat as a pancake’, hill-work is fantastic for building strength and stamina, and you don’t even have to run them particularly fast to reap the benefits. Yes, hills are your friends!

To make the most of hill running, shorten your stride. When running up hill it’s tempting to look down towards your feet, if only to avoid looking at the climb ahead. However, it’s better to stay upright, with just a slight lean from the ankles. On the way down, maintain a short stride as gravity pulls you forwards. Don’t be afraid to use your arms to main balance on very steep or uneven descents. Be careful if you have injuries in your calves, achilles or knees, as hills can put extra pressure on your legs. Don’t do speed work and hills on consecutive days as they both put a lot of stress on your body and you need time for your muscles to repair and recover.

Hills seem to be in short supply in East London, but we have the hills in Mayesbook Park, over the railway lines e.g. in Lodge Avenue and Gale Street and, of course, in Hainault Forest; you have to make the most of what you have! In general, steep hills are great for shorter sprints and shallow hills for longer efforts. Here are some possible training sessions. There are any number of variations of these sessions, just remember to warm up well and then add reps or reduce recovery as you get fitter and stronger.

Hill sprint intervals – sprint up a hill for eight to 12 seconds. Walk slowly down to completely recover your breath before repeating up to eight times. A variation on this is to run up for five seconds, then walk back to the starting point. Run up again for seven seconds, then walk down. Run for 10 seconds, walk down.

Long hill intervals – find a gentle hill and run up for 2-4 minutes.  Try to expend the same effort going uphill as you did on the flat, either using perceived rate of exertion or heart rate. Jog or walk back down and repeat.

Continuous hills – often called Kenyan hills, although apparently the Kenyans don’t know it as such! It is basically continuous running up and down a hill at a steady, tempo, pace. For example, run up hill for 45 seconds, then run back down at tempo pace without stopping. Continue for 8-12 minutes, then recover for a few minutes before repeating. Or you could break it up e.g. 4 x 3 minutes with 2 minutes recovery between each block

Summit attack – find a hill that takes about 45 seconds to climb. Run hard to the top. As you near the crest, lengthen your stride and accelerate for 15 seconds. Jog down for recovery. Repeat six to 10 times.

Downhill repeats – as well as practising running uphill, you should practice your descents. Find a grassy hill about 100m long, run up at an easy pace, then run down at a comfortably hard pace, using your arms for balance if needed. Repeat two to four times.

Of course, you can also just find a running route that incorporates some hills, which is a great way of replicating race conditions, and probably nearer to what the Kenyans actually do in their training than Kenyan hills!

Cracker Corner

I had my end year appraisal with my manager last week. She asked me if I could perform under pressure. I said no, but I do a pretty mean Bohemian Rhapsody…

My manager asked what was my worst quality. I replied that I’m probably too honest. My manager said “That’s not a bad thing, I think being honest is a good quality.” I replied, “I don’t care about what you think!”

My manager told me I lack “passion and intensity.” I guess she hasn’t seen me alone with a bottle of Prosecco.

My manager says I have a preoccupation with vengeance. We’ll see about that…

And finally…

After the Chingford League race hosted by Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club on Saturday, I’m wondering if perhaps there is one of their runners they haven’t seen for a while, after spotting this character in the upstairs window of their clubhouse. Reminds me of when I almost locked Mick Moohan in the Splash Park building after parkrun…

Happy Running



BRR Chair



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