Howdie Road Runners,

What a fantastic start to the summer handicap series last week! Twenty-two runners participated and we also had loads of supporters, making for a really fun Club event. I’ll let Greg give you all the details in his ‘BRR in Action’ report, but I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Dennis again for organising the winter virtual handicap competition, and Greg for taking the reins for this summer competition; it looks like it’s going to be a very close and exciting series!

Thank you also to everyone who has sent their best wishes to Chris as he recovers from his operation last Saturday. It has been super helpful having other people in the Club (Ron and Gary) who have been through the same thing and can reassure him that all will be well in time. The surgeon phoned me to stress how important it was that Chris doesn’t do any heavy lifting while he is recovering. I couldn’t resist telling him that I do all the heavy lifting in our household anyway…

Running in the News

Ellis Cross, who pipped Mo Farah to the post at last week’s Vitality London 10k, is still dining out on his victory. It has been a week of media interviews for the Aldershot, Farnham and District AC member. Much has been made of an amateur club runner beating one of the greatest distance runners in history.

Of course, there is more to the story than the headlines; there are club runners and club runners! Cross may not be a professional athlete – yet – but the 25-year-old has an impressive background in running.

Cross twice won the English National Cross Country as a junior, the British Universities 5000m crown and represented Great Britain at the 2016 European Cross Country Championships and 2017 European Under-23 Championships at 10,000m. He had a professional contract with Hoka One One between 2019-2021.

“Club level athletics is where it’s at and it’s turned me into the athlete that I am today,” Cross told Athletics Weekly. “I’m a very proud club runner. Don’t get me wrong, the bracket we class as club runner is of course quite large but again it’s difficult to define that. Everyone has different goals and ideas of what means what and I took absolutely no insult in being called a club runner.

“I haven’t competed on the international stage for a while and I’m a self-funded athlete who wasn’t in the elite field, so it was right to call me that in that race especially.

“I have had successful results in the past. People in the running community will obviously know who I am. I’m not the person who was out on the drinks the previous night and just decided I’m going to turn up and beat Mo Farah. That didn’t happen. I’m someone who dedicates a lot of time to my sport.”

This was the second time that Cross raced against Farah. The first time was at the 2017 Great Edinburgh Cross Country International, where the former placed 27th and the latter seventh. It is good to hear that Ellis respects his rival.

 “I was there in 2012 screaming at the TV, wanting him to bring home two gold medals. Mo Farah could decide to retire today or tomorrow and he’ll always be a legend.”

Cross’ focus is now building on Monday’s victory.

“The immediate future is Night of the 10,000m PBs at Highgate and I want to be a full-time athlete and fulfil my dream. I want to transition to the roads. It’s given me confidence as I’ve never done a half-marathon. It’s definitely not going to be one of those one-off scenarios”.

Let’s hope he’s right; we need our next generation of distance runners!

Hainault Forest Update for May

Those of us who run in Hainault Forest on Sunday will have spotted that the new path from the main gate in Romford Road to the Global Café is now open. The path is for pedestrians and cyclists, though it might be helpful if there was signage to confirm it can be used by cycles!

Work will start on two new, smaller, pedestrian entrances on Romford Road soon.

Work on the Forge Barn is progressing, with the barn being extended ready to house the Woodland Trust Visitor Centre.

Work has also started on remodelling the farm. The farm will reopen towards the end of 2022 and we have been told the animals will love their new accommodation.

Of course, we can’t think of Hainault Forest without thinking about our friend Dottie. Dee Spencer-Perkins is currently suffering from the dreaded Covid (get well soon, Dee) but managed to track Dottie down and get her latest update before she succumbed.

Dottie Dear’s Almanac For May:  Protocol

Well, what a to-do when we got to Dottie’s tree house this month. We pressed the buzzard (see Almanac for November 2021 ) and waited for Dottie to appear on the balcony to invite us up the rope ladder as usual.

When she didn’t materialise we got a bit worried, and decided to go up anyway to make sure everything was OK. To our consternation, the scene that greeted us in her living space was a bit like a gentle explosion at a jumble sale.  There were clothes scattered all over the place:  a couple of flouncy seventies-style frocks (two sizes too small) draped over the settee, several pairs of dungarees heaped up on a chair and also some of her famous Days of the Week cami-knickers in an embarrassingly large pile in the middle of the floor (see Almanac for March 2022).   There were a number of items of footwear:  some trainer-type Skechers (sensible but stylish), a pair of Greek sandals left lover from some music Festival or other and a pair of silver wedges with a diamante buckle and a giant bow on the top.

Finally, on the table was a hat-box containing a rather frivolous fascinator – the last thing we would expect Dottie to wear about the Forest.  It was all a bit of a worry.

Then, just when we were thinking she might have been the victim of an attempted second-hand clothing heist, Dottie appeared from out of her sleeping quarters looking hot and dishevelled.  She was wearing a pair of Doc Martens (sprayed gold with pink pom-poms on the uppers), and a tweed skirt hitched up around her waist. Her hair was all over the place (well, a bit more than normal) and there was a big lump starting to form over her right eye.

Blinky Blimey, Dottie!  What a shock!

We made her some hot tea, and when she had finally calmed down all was revealed. It turns out Dottie was having a mega-try out of her wardrobe because she had received an invitation to represent the Hainault Forest Woodland Folk at Buckingham Palace.  There was to be a small reception to recognise the planet-saving activities of community groups, and Dottie was to represent the Woodland Folk at this select gathering of environmentalists.  Although she was initially flattered and delighted, now that the event was actually looming up in May Dottie had suddenly been thrown into a panic, and she had been tormented by all kinds of nightmare scenarios. She knew that there was a protocol about these events (ladies must wear hats, guests should not leave the event before the members of the Royal household) but (to be fair) her online checking on Palace etiquette had been a bit hasty.

As a result of her superficial checking, Dottie’s biggest anxiety at this stage was the curtsey, and she was particularly vexed about how she might have to do this with a plate of canapes in one hand, and a glass of bubbly in the other.  Finally, however, she had got hold of a rather old guide book called Manners for Women (by Mrs Humphry, aka ‘Madge’ of Truth and also author of Manners for Men) published in 1897. Here, she had found a very detailed description of the traditional curtsey:  draw back your right foot placing it straight behind the other, go down ‘as far as the suppleness of your limbs will permit’, then come up to the ‘recover’ position with all your weight on the right foot, ‘and the left pointed out most daintily’.  As Dottie had never done dainty in her life, she had decided that a bit of a practice was in order. This was what she had been doing when we rang the buzzard. She had just toppled over, bonking her head on the bedside table as she did so.

She was a bit disconsolate, and was thinking that she couldn’t possibly go to the Palace for fear of disgracing herself, but we pointed out that perhaps Doc Martens weren’t the best idea when curtseying and that her lovely silver wedges might be better, or even her Greek sandals (to be completely on the safe side).   Meanwhile one of us Googled Debrett’s guidance for attending Royal functions, and it appears that a brief bob (with the weight on the front foot) is now quite acceptable. Phew! So that’s alright, then.

Dottie had prepared some Royal advice for us this month:

  • Never turn your back on Royalty (and you may want to practise walking backwards, just in case).
  • Never curtsey unless you know what you are doing.
  • Do not titter at a Royal function (or anywhere else for that matter).
  • Ma’am should rhyme with jam

When we asked to see the Royal invitation, Dottie got a bit cagey. The event was scheduled for May 20th, which was not far away, and there should really have been some more guidance and instructions by now.  When pressed, Dottie said that all she had had so far was an email telling her that she would receive her formal invitation in due course. However, this didn’t square with the Debrett’s guidance, which said that full instructions on attending a Royal event would be issued at the same time as the royal Invitation, including dress code, how to behave and so on.

After a bit more persuasion, Dottie did show us her invitation.  It was in the form of an email with a dodgy address, and was dated April 1st.

Oh, dear. We suspected that the Epping Forest Environmental Warriors might have had something to do with it (although we didn’t say as much to Dottie).  We made our excuses and left……..backwards.

BRR in Action

(with thanks to Greg Adams)

Barking Road Runners Summer Handicap series race 01: the first race in this year’s summer series took place over the Barking parkrun course this week with a good turn out of 22 runners with Emma Paisley finishing in 1st place to make a winning start to the title she won jointly with Joyce Golder last year. With the first 12 runners having beat their handicaps it should make for an even closer finish in HC 02 on 19 May.

BRR Grand Prix 03 was the Rayleigh 10k known as the Bill Hughes Memorial. The course was a tough undulating route through woods and grassy meadows with very hard rutted ground making for difficult running conditions. Debbie Coyle finished 3rd female and 1st female vet in a time of 42:23. BRR other runners were Martin Page 45:32, Adrian Davison 47:25, Trevor Cooper 49:01, Martin Mason 1:04:35, Les Jay 1:06:22, Alison Fryatt 1:12:06 and Micky Ball 1:26:50.

BRRs Jess Collett and Joe Stacey took part in a swimathon at Abbey Leisure Centre where they both swam the impressive distance of 5k; not bad for Joe as he only signed up to do 1.5k.

BRR parkrunners 

Barking – James Lowndes 19:22, Joe Stacey 19:22, Owen Wainhouse 19:52, Jagbir Bassi 20:05, James Hutton 21:51, Adrian Davison 22:42, Mark New 23:50, Joyce Golder 24:00, Olaore Fatai 24:15, James Hall 24:58, Kasia Maj 26:24, Isobel Pinedo Borobio 26:51, Rabea Begum 27:27, Cristina Cooper 31:01, Greg Adams 31:43,Julie Gillender 33:23, Nikki Cranmer 35:35 Dawn Blake 35:35, Darren Graham 42:14, Belinda Riches 42:14 and Alan Murphy 51:01.

Chalkwell Beach – Antony Leckerman 22:34.

Hasenheide (Berlin) – Rory Burr 23:11.

Hunstanton Promenade – Kevin Wotton 31:27.

Raphaels Park – Louise Chappell 26:53.

Valentines Park – Andrew Gwilliam 30:04.

Member’s Profile – Andy Hiller

Thanks to Andy for answering our profile questions.

Q. How long have you been running?

I’ve been running for approx 35 years, but races since about 2010, not many these days as work/family can sometimes interfere.

Q. What do you do when you’re not running?

When I’m not running I love cooking and all the other stuff like Netflix etc.

Q. What race(s) are you looking forward to?

I’m currently training for Spitfire 2022, leader of a six-person team, none of my team have done it before except me.

Q. What does running mean to you?

Running gives me the freedom to go out and enjoy the miles, meet and talk to people especially BRR, track and parkrun.

Q. What is your best running moment?

My proudest moment was training for London Marathon 2012. I really got into the training and crossed the line in 4:04:22, I remember being gutted that I didn’t do sub-4, but wouldn’t mind that time now. Have done LM 5 times, 1999/2000/2012/2013/2021 and Brighton 2016. Have also done two spartan runs in 2014/15 and a lot of halfs, 10ks and 5ks. I used to be a lot faster and really miss the speed. I’m also proud to now be a licensed guide runner but haven’t guided anyone yet!

Q. Best running advice?

If you don’t feel like it, just go get it done, unless obviously you’re unwell, cos nine times out of ten you’ll be glad u did.

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 10 May – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. This week we have a pyramid session, with reps of 30 secs, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 4 min, 5 min, then back down again to 30 secs, with a minute recovery between each rep.

One of the main benefits of a pyramid session is that it allows you to overload the body in different ways all in the same session, resulting in improvements in conditioning, endurance, and speed.

7.30pm, Wednesday 11 May – Crown to Crown trail 5k. Westley Heights Country Park, Langdon Hills. Cheap and cheerful race series on the second Wednesday of each month during the summer, organised by Pitsea Running Club. Not sure if we’ll have many people going to this one; check on WhatsApp. Sign up via EntryCentral

7.00pm, Thursday 12 May – Midweek run from the Jo Richardson School/Castle Green Centre. Usually about five miles but faster runners can loop back for a longer run.

10.00am, Sunday 15 May – Cross Country #04, Thorndon Country Park. Penultimate race in this year’s competition, courtesy of Brentwood Running Club. The venue is on the A128 approximately 500 metres north of the “Halfway House” roundabout at the junction with the A127. Look for the brown Country Park signpost. The entry fee is £5 but BRR members pay £3, payable on the day.

Car parking is adjacent to the start area. We are asked to keep the parking bays nearest to the Forest Cafe clear for emergency vehicles and parking for disabled members of the public. Parking meters are in operation and are enforced. Input of car registration number is required, so allow extra time for parking.

The race is a single lap of approx. 7.5k, marked by cones, posts, tape and marshalled. Spikes are NOT suitable. All runners must be at least 17 years old wear club tops with the allocated club letter on the front.

Toilets are located at the rear of the Forest Cafe but there are no changing rooms. Refreshments are available after the race in the Forest Café, but it sounds like there will be no free tea and cake again (sob).

Across the series so far, we are currently on 11 points with Rochford RC, our nearest rivals, on eight points and third-placed Brentwood RC on six points. With a maximum possible score of eight points up for grabs across the final two races, we still haven’t got promotion to the First Division in the bag, so please come out and support your Club.

7.00pm, Thursday 19 May – Summer Handicap 02. Second race in seven-race series, ran on the Barking parkrun course. The entry cost is £1 per race, with a tenner to the winner of each race and trophies for first, second and third across the competition as a whole, based on each participant’s best five results.

11am–9pm, Saturday 21 May – Barking Bikefest. Abbey Green, Barking IG11 8AS. A chance to race your bike around Abbey Green.

11.00am, Sunday 22 May – Great Baddow 10 (GP04). The Recreation Ground, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 9RL. Further details/entry at

7.30pm, Wednesday 25 May – Dagenham 88 5ish (ELVIS 01). Central Park, Dagenham. First race in this year’s East London FiVes Interclub Series competition. There are now 12 entrants from BRR. Entries via EntryCentral

9.00am, Sunday 29 May – RideLondon Freecycle. A chance to cycle around the sights f central London on closed roads. More details and sign up here:

Running Injuries – Shin Splints

Shin splints are one of the most common injuries suffered by runners. ‘Medial tibial stress syndrome’, as it’s medically known, refers to pain along the shin bone (tibia), the large bone at the front of your lower leg. Causes include increasing your training regime, underlying weakness in the core or hips, flat feet or high arches, and running on high surfaces. The increased activity overworks the muscles, tendons and bone tissue in your lower leg. At first, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg which will stop when you stop running.  However, if you don’t take any action to address the problem, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress fracture; a microscopic crack in the shinbone that can require a complete lay-off from running for several weeks/months.

What to do if you start to experience pain in your shins? In the first instance, try:

  • Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort but you can continue low-impact activity such as swimming, cycling or water running.
  • Apply ice packs to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days. Always wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid an ice burn!
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try ibuprofen to reduce pain. But don’t use painkillers to allow you to keep running; you just risk more damage.

Once you feel able to run again, build up gradually, reducing the frequency, intensity and time/distance of your runs. Avoiding hard surfaces for a while may help.

To prevent shin splints, the first thing to do is make sure you increase the intensity of your running gradually. Beyond that, stretching and strengthening the feet, lower legs, hips and core is your next priority. Helpful exercises include heel raises (starting with both feet and progressing by moving to moving to one leg at a time and increasing the reps), bridges and wall squats; all prescribed for me when I was rehabbing from a stress fracture. Replace your running shoes if it feels like the cushioning has started to compress/break down. Shock absorbing insoles or, if you have flat feet, orthotics may also help.

Cracker Corner

I sold my homing pigeon on eBay last week. I can’t remember how much for but it will come back to me…

I joined a woodworking course, but it’s a bit clique-y. Some of the participants have formed a splinter group.

Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you’ll get rid of him all weekend!

Boom! Boom!

And finally…

Top tip number 364: If you are washing a BRR hoodie – or any other hoodie, for that matter – tie the drawstring together in a knot before you put it in the machine. This could save you a very tedious ten minutes or so with the drawstring on a safety pin trying to thread it back through the hood. Grrrr…

Happy Running



BRR Chair


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