Howdie Road Runners,

A quieter week for BRR this week, with parkrun, the Good Friday Crown to Crown, and an Easter 10k from Jess being the main activities. Never mind, we still have the minutes from the April committee meeting (what fun!), running news, and Dottie’s April almanac. I hope she wasn’t responsible for the carnage on the Essex roads on Friday…

April Committee Meeting

With thanks to Club Secretary, Dee, here are the minutes of the April meeting: 220413 – April 2022 BRR Committee Meeting

Running in the News

Colin Jones’ epic runs often make me feel like I’d like to try an ultra race myself, if only a six-hour version rather than 12 or 24 hours. But the experiences of Darren Hardy, as reported by Runner’s World Magazine, have rather put me off the idea.

Hardy, a former soldier, ran 7.5 marathons from Manchester to London in a bid to raise £30,000 for children with the neurodegenerative condition H-ABC, a rare genetic disorder that affects the brain.

The 36-year-old decided to run 422km in 100 hours in order to raise money into research to find a cure. This included running 380km from Manchester to London, before completing the London Marathon route to finish.

He set off on 6 April and successfully hit his aim of running 95km in the first day. But stomach hit him on the second day. ‘I was over-using electrolytes and gels and I must have eaten something bad because my stomach took a turn for the worse,’ Hardy told Runner’s World. ‘Then my body just went into a shutdown – shivering and uncontrollable shaking.’

He was forced to stop after 65km, putting him behind schedule, but he luckily felt better on day three and managed to clock 110km. It was at this point, however, that another more serious problem arose.

‘I was advised to stop due to potential stress fractures in both my tibias and my metatarsals, which was confirmed after the event,’ he says. ‘I’m not built for long-distance running – I’m 6ft 1in, weigh 95kg and have a background in rugby.’

Despite the pain, he was determined to reach London and cross the finish line, even if it was via a shortened route. ‘From that point, my pace reduced drastically to 13 minutes per kilometre. I was crying, which is something I never really do. And I just had to remember the Why – why am I doing this?’

Spurred on by the thought of the charity he was running for, he managed to carry on and completed 317km in 92 hours. ‘It was quite emotional, thinking about why I did this…and there was relief at finishing. But there was also a lot of disappointment, personally, that I wasn’t able to move any quicker and finish within the timeframe. But raising awareness of the campaign and raising funds was successful, so I’m proud of that.’

Well done to him, but I think I might stick with the shorter distances for now.

BRR in Action

BRR members welcomed the return of the ever-popular Crown to Crown race on Good Friday. The mainly off-road 5k race starts and finishes outside the former Crown Public House on the edge of Westley Heights Country Park near Laindon, Essex. As the name of the Country Park suggests, the route has its fair share of hills, but fortunately, due to the recent dry weather, there was a lot less mud than usual to contend with on the grass and forest sections of the course.

First across the line for BRR was Ron Vialls in 24:22.52, followed by Jon Furlong 26:43.87, Belinda Riches 28:15.65, Louise Chappell 30:03.46, Alison Fryatt 33:24.18, Rob Courtier 34.49.40 and Nikki Cranmer 36:33.81.

Jess Collett participated in the RunThrough Easter 10k at Victoria Park. Hoping to finish in under 45 minutes she managed it in the hot conditions with a time of 44.57. Jess finished in 4th place in her category and 14th female overall.

Barking parkrunners

Expected to be in the parkrun report but not there? Make sure you are registered as a Barking Road Runners member in your parkrun profile.


Peter Jackson 20:15, James Lowndes 20:23, Adrian Davison 21:57, Mark New 23:48, David Kail 23:49, Thomas Shorey 24:53, Stuart Burr 25:13, Belinda Riches 25:47, Alain Cooper 26:01, John Lang 26:59, Rabea Begum 27:31, Louise Chappell 27:57, Martin Mason 28:59, Rob Courtier 29:47, Les Jay 30:55, Nikki Cranmer 32:36, Dennis Spencer Perkins 40:18 and Alan Murphy 52:25.


Kevin Wotton 22:50

Hilly Fields

Rory Burr 24:29

Chalkwell Beach

Ron Vialls 23:45

Antony Leckerman 24:17

North Yorkshire Water Park

Emma Paisley 28:27

Dottie Dear’s almanac for April: Petrolhead

This month, Dottie was again in a state of great excitement when we called. She was getting ready to drive to the Forest of Dean to stay with her cousin who lived in a 2-storey eco tree-house (with astronomical observatory) that had been featured in an early edition of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

As she bustled around throwing things into a gigantic backpack, she invited us to play a jolly game of Motorway Bingo to while away the time until her departure.  Essentially, this is a guessing game in which participants have to predict the places that will be named in the BBC Radio Traffic Report for that morning.  The rules and scoring system are very strict. If, for example, you choose the M6 and it is mentioned in the Report, then you get a point.  If you go further and say ‘M6 Southbound’, then this is worth 3 points.  However, if you go for ‘M6 Southbound, Junction 19 for Knutsford’ and this is on the list, then you get a stonking 5 points – worth taking a punt for.

Dottie gave us each a piece of paper, with instructions to write down our predictions and pop them in a big bowl on the coffee table.  We did this whilst she went off to check on her vehicle.  Surprisingly, it turns out she was the super-proud owner of a 1966 VW Campervan (ratlook paint finish, slammed suspension) that she had cunningly concealed in the small copse down by the lake (who knew?), and which for the last 40-odd years had inexplicably escaped the notice of the Hainault Forest Park Wardens.   Dottie had cherished Petronella (the name she had tenderly given her van) since her Glastonbury days. Yes, indeed – if you let her, she could be eye-wateringly boring about the time she and her cousin had seen Fairport Convention at Glasto in 1971. They would often WhatsApp each other about the seventies in general when you could get in to a Bob Marley concert without having to go through the likes of Ticketmaster, and Dottie was looking forward to a good old chin wag about the old days, perhaps gently enhanced by a bottle or two of the old vino collapso.

But first, she had to get herself down the M40 to Gloucestershire. Petronella was Dottie’s secret pride and joy, but to be fair she was a bit the worse for wear.  There was a teensy hole in the roof that Dottie had repaired with some plastic sheeting, and also a bit of bubbling around the bumpers, but all-in-all she was good to go (and the sound system was ace). The stiff passenger door and the wonky front seats just added to Petronella’s charm, Dottie thought.

We were just wondering why you would need to do a rat paint finish on an old van that was likely to have corroded over time anyway, when a disconsolate Dottie re-emerged through the trees.  We could tell there was something up, and she slumped in a bit of a sorry heap on the balcony.  It turns out that someone had gone off with Petronella’s wheels at some indeterminate time in the last 20 years (since Dottie had last hit the highway in 2002 for an expedition to the Fairport Cropredy Festival).  Sadly, Petronella was now sunk up to her wheel arches in brambles.

While Dottie got on the phone to book a train ticket westwards, we had a look at her wisdom for this month:

  • Don’t aggravate the driver by constantly checking out how many miles to empty.
  • Spotting Stobart wagons is a good game as long as the rules are clearly agreed beforehand.
  • You don’t really want whatever is for sale in the service station shop.
  • A wasp that gets trapped inside the windscreen will never find its own way out and is probably deliberately trying to annoy you anyway.

Finally, Dottie managed to get a seat on the 15.30 from Paddington to Gloucester (arriving 17.20, no delays), so we agreed to give her a lift to Ilford to set her on her way.

Just before we packed Dottie and her huge rucsac into the car we realised that in all the panic we hadn’t listened to the Traffic Report, which meant that the whole Motorway Bingo thing had been a bit redundant (a bit like this month’s Almanac Wisdom).   Anyhoo, we had a look at the papers in the bowl just out of curiosity, and agreed that the most original one would win (although at this point we did see Dottie sneaking another bit of paper into the mix).  We spread them all out, and there were a number of bog-standard suggestions like the M8 near Glasgow, or the M25 near Junction 29 for Romford, which were immediately discounted as terminally dull.   The A38 Devon Expressway looked a tad promising, as did Scotch Corner on the A1.   However, unsurprisingly, the winner had to be Dottie’s contribution:  Three Pigeons Interchange on the M40 at Junction 7.

OK Dottie, we concede.  You deserve a bit of a win after all that stress.

BRR Diary

Download the TeamUp app onto your phone, then enter the calendar key for Barking Road Runners when asked: ks67p21gt8p5gzdo66 to see all of BRR’s agreed fixtures for the year.

7.00pm, Tuesday 19 April – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. It’s the Easter Surprise session! You know the drill: several ‘mini sessions’ all 12 minutes long, but which ones will get picked out of Alison’s Easter Egg Basket? You can blame the pickers if you don’t like what you get!

7.00pm, Thursday 21 April – road run from Jo Richardson School/Castle Green. Roughly five miles.

10.00am, Sunday 24 April – SECCL #03. Hadleigh Country Park, Chapel Ln, Benfleet SS7 2PP. Just follow the brown road signs down to the car park. The course is one lap of 6.4km/4 miles, and runs close to parts of the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike course. It includes some gravel sections therefore spikes are not suitable to wear.

Parking – Charges are as follows: Up to 1 hour £1.60, up to 2 hours £3.20, up to 3 hours £4.70. You are strongly recommended to car share wherever possible to minimise cost and ease congestion in the car park. You can pay in advance via the MiPermit App to avoid long queues.

Entry Fee – The entry fee is £5.00 per runner, but BRR runners just pay £3.00 each, directly to the Club and we will arrange payment of the full entry costs to the organisers.

All runners must wear club colours and letters, and be over 17 years of age on the day of the race. Only members of the 12 clubs in the league plus named 2nd claim runners may take part. Please remember your ‘B’ (I’ll have some spares).

Refreshments – Refreshments will be available in the Hub Café after the race but unfortunately will not be free.

Doing the Splits

You’ll often hear runners talking about positive or negative splits, or maybe even splits. But what on earth do they mean, and which is better?

When used in running ‘split’ is a term used to describe the time it takes to complete a specific distance. For example, if you’re running five miles, your time for each mile is your ‘mile split’. In training, if you know your split time know your split time (or pace), you can estimate your finish time and train to improve it. And in a race you can monitor your split times to ensure you remain on track to hit your time goal.

So far, so similar to measuring your pace.  However, in practice, split times used are usually longer than for a kilometre or a mile. Negative splitting generally refers to running the second half of a race faster than the first. So, for instance, if you’re running a marathon and you run the first 13.1 miles in 2:01:46, and then run the second 13.1 miles in 1:59:30, then you ran a negative split. It’s called a negative split because the second half time minus the first half time is a negative number. If your second half is slower, it’s called a positive split. And, if you run both halves roughly the same, that’s even splits.

Generally, for endurance runners, the best results come from even or negative splits. Running positive splits – going out fast and hanging on for dear life – is not a recommended tactic, and who would plan to slow down during a race? However, it’s common for athletes, both amateurs and elites, to go out faster during the first half than the second, probably because they feel good, or because they get carried along with the rest of the field.

If you want to improve your times overall, it’s worth practising different techniques in training, or maybe in a race that’s less important for you. Review your splits after races to determine how well you did with pacing and what you can improve for the next race. Would practising running even splits help you to build your stamina and control? Would including progression runs in your training (gradually increasing your pace during the course of your run) help you to finish stronger?

Trying beginning your race 10 to 20 seconds per mile slower than the average race pace you’ve predicted. It can feel like hard work to run within yourself, but don’t be tempted to speed up when you notice all those other runners flying by. Instead, hold back by imagining yourself comfortably passing them later in the race, when they’ve burned themselves out. Or, if it’s Crispian Bloomfield, accept that you won’t be able to hang on to him anyway* and save your energy for a strong finish and be the best you that you can be.

Finally, always make sure your planned split times take account of race conditions; hills, wind, heat and other factors will all impact on the best split tactics to use for a particular race.

*Unless you are Paul Grange or Jack Nixon, that is!

Cracker Corner

I don’t like to brag about my wealth, but I put the heating on for an hour this morning…

What do you call a man wearing ten balaclavas? Whatever you like; he can’t hear you!

Engineers have developed a car that runs on parsley. Now they are working on a bus that runs on thyme…

Boom! Boom!

And finally…

Part driving/part cycling to work since lockdown rather than taking the tube has meant that I’ve missed reading the Metro in the morning. But I would have preferred not to see this story, published last Wednesday:

‘A dog microchip was found in a woman who had been taken to hospital with stomach pains after she ate skewered meat bought from a street vendor in Santiago, Chile. The woman had unknowingly eaten part of a Labradoodle’.

Can you imagine the dog’s owner getting the call from the vet? “I’ve got good news and bad news, Mr Hernandez. The good news is we’ve been able to locate your missing dog using his microchip. The bad news is…”

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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