Howdie Road Runners,

It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part. But winning feels pretty good too! How fantastic for BRR to be promoted to the first division of the South Essex Cross Country League. Our promotion was in the bag after the fourth race in the season, but it was good to end on a high. A massive thanks and well done to all our runners and supporters across the whole season, and commiserations to those who couldn’t be there on the day due to illness or injury. The next challenge? Well, how about two challenges? Staying in the first division of the SECCL for another year, and getting promoted in the Chingford League. In the meantime, I loved Gary’s quote on WhatsApp:

We are One: We are BRR!

Running in the News

In case anyone missed it in last week’s Committee minutes, Nehal earned the most points in the Club’s London Marathon competition (points are awarded for each Club event you participate in) and has been awarded the marathon place for October 2022. He has the Chicago Marathon the week afterwards, so this should be fun…

Perhaps we may get to see him on the TV. The London Marathon has signed a new broadcasting deal with the BBC. The deal means that the London Marathon will continue to be shown on the BBC until at least 2026.

The deal includes other events organised by London Marathon Events such as the Big Half, Vitality London 10,000 and Vitality Westminster Mile.

Hugh Brasher, event director of London Marathon Events, said: ‘Our partnership with the BBC goes back more than 40 years and the support of the BBC has been key to the development of the London Marathon into one of the capital’s great days out that is so loved by millions.

‘We are delighted to continue our partnership and very excited about our new initiative to inspire and encourage physical activity. We are facing a national obesity and mental health crisis and getting active and taking regular exercise is key to addressing this.’

The news about former parkrun CEO, Nick Pearson, being found to have been taking ‘commission’ from a third-party supplier of parkrun’s Contra clothing range, was less good. It’s very disappointing for those of us who freely give up our time to volunteer at parkrun every Saturday to find that someone at the top of the organisation has been taking backhanders. But well done to the new CEO for uncovering the issue, and to parkrun for investigating and taking decisive action, rather than trying to cover it up.

BRR in Action

(with thanks to the man with his ear to the ground, Greg Adams)

ELVIS race no. 3 a 5k race at Hopkins Field in the Olympic Park was Barking Road Runners first league race this week. The course was on tarmac with a few inclines to negotiate and the warm weather made it a tough but enjoyable race with the first six men and six women in each team scoring points.

BRR points scorers were Debbie Coyle, Jess Collett, Heather Haggis, Joyce Golder, Belinda Riches and Isabel Pinedo Borobio for the ladies and Peter Jackson, Paul Withyman, Stuart Mackay, Martin Page, Adrian Davison  and Tom Brennan for the men.

Other BRR runners on the evening were Kevin Wotton, Daniel Plawiak, Jahinur Meah, Shuhel Khan, Huseyin Dogan, Martin O’Toole, Nehal Patel, Jason Li, Louise Chappell, Alison Fryatt, Les Jay, and Greg Adams.

The second league event for BRR was the final race in the South Essex Cross Country League at Hadleigh Country Park, hosted by Leigh on Sea Striders. Although BRR had already come top of the second division they still put out a strong team to record their fourth win out of five in the series. With the usual mud and water on the tough hilly course being replaced this year by rock-hard rutted ground, warm sunshine, cows and goats, Paul Grange and  Debbie Coyle were first finishers for BRR finishing 4th and 6th in their respective races.

These were followed home by Jess Collett 10th, Maxine Brown 27th, Rosanna Fforde 37th, Joyce Golder 39th, Isabel Pinedo Borobio 54th, Veronica Barrikor 78th, Alison Fryatt 81st, Nikki Cranmer 83rd, and Julie Gillender 86th.

For the men Steve Philcox 18th, Paul Withyman 29th, Jagbir Bassi 43rd, Peter Jackson 44th, Stuart Mackay 55th, Colin Jones 84th, Martin Page 85th, Jason Li 118th, Gary Harford 123rd, Les Jay 125th, Martin Mason 127th, Rob Courtier 132nd and Micky Ball 133rd.

Representing BRR at the Horndon on the Hill 10k were Rory Burr 50:42, Richard Quye 55:51, Ron Vialls 1:06:1 and Ken Summerfield 1:19:16. The race had been held over due to the Pandemic and unfortunately clashed with the final Cross Country race, severely depleting BRRs representation.

BRR’s Heather Haggis competed in the Raneleagh Harriers 10k race in Richmond finishing in a time of 50:04 and Amanda Heslegrave took part in the ATW Stewertby Lake sprint triathlon finishing 2nd in her category with a time of 1:36:59.

BRR parkrunners

Barking Park – Paul Grange 15:54 (first place), Joe Stacey 18:16, Jagbir Bassi 23:24 James Hall 25:00, Rosie Fforde 25:39, Tom Shorey 25:39, Huseyin Dogan 26:01, Kasia Maj 26:13, Isabel Pinedo Borobio 26:20, Barry Culling 26:25, Martin Brooks 29:54, Les Jay 31:04, Clodagh O’Callaghan 34:58, Sally Bridge 36:06, Nikki Cranmer 37:08, Micky Ball 40:02 and Alan Murphy 49:48.

Chippenham – Rob Courtier 38:49.

Hadleigh – Antony Leckerman 26:25

Harrow Lodge – Rory Burr 26:01.

Raphaels Park – Gary Harford 28:03.

Valentines Park – Kevin Wotton 22:46

BRR Diary

This is just a selection of our upcoming events. 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 28 June – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. There didn’t seem to be an overwhelming desire to do the ‘last Tuesday of the month’ timed mile, so something different this week; a session I call matched pairs, because the recovery time matches the time of the rep:

  • 3 x (2 minutes fast, 2 minutes recovery)
  • 3 x (90 seconds fast, 90 seconds recovery)
  • 3 x (1 minute fast, 1 minute recovery)
  • 3 x (30 seconds fast, 30 seconds recovery)
  • 3 x (15 seconds fast, 15 seconds recovery)

Of course, you are expected to speed up as the reps get shorter!

With Covid on the rise again, albeit with milder symptoms, I suggest we stay outdoors for our post-training teas and coffees for the time being.

7.00pm, Thursday 30 June – Summer Handicap #04. Barking Park, on the parkrun course. Another chance to beat your handicap and win the tenner! Just £1 to enter. If you haven’t run yet and intend coming along, please let organiser Greg know so he can calculate your handicap.

9.15am, Sunday 3 July – GP05: Ware 10. GlaxoSmithKline Cricket Ground, Park Road, Ware, SG12 0DP. A new race for BRR. The race is being held in support of Essex and Herts Air Ambulance. There is also a kids’ fun run. Online entries have now closed but the website says there will be a limited number of on-the-day entries.

7.30pm, Wednesday 6 July – ELVIS 04: the Newman Hilly 5. Due to building work at Hainault Forest, the race starts and finishes on the plain at Chigwell Row, Lambourne Rd (opposite Millers Lane), post code IG7 6ET. More details and entry at

7.00pm, Thursday 14 July – Summer Handicap #05.

Noon Saturday 16 July to Noon Sunday 17 July – Spitfire Scramble. Hornchurch Country Park. You will know if you have been mad enough to sign up.

7.30pm, Wednesday 20 July – ELVIS 05: Harold Wood 5k. Still awaiting further details.

9.00am, Saturday 23 July – Barking parkrun 10th birthday. I don’t usually mention parkrun as you all know the details, but this is a special one.

Running Injuries – Achilles tendonitis

How many running injuries have their origins in Greek mythology?

Achilles was the son of King Peleus and Thetis, a sea nymph. When he was a child, Thetis dipped Achilles in the River Styx. The water made him invulnerable, except for his heel where she held him – his Achilles heel. Achilles grew up to be the bravest, handsomest, and greatest warrior who fought for the Greek army in the Trojan war. Unfortunately, he was slain in battle by Paris, son of the Trojan king Priam, whose arrow was guided to Achilles’ heel by the God Apollo, who had been angered by the Greeks.  For ever after, the back of the heel has been known as the Achilles, and it is certainly weak spot for many runners.

The Achilles tendon links your heel bone to your calf muscles. This is the strongest tendon in the body, but when it becomes inflamed it results in Achilles tendonitis.

Achilles tendonitis typically begins as a mild ache or tightness in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity. The area may feel unusually warm, where it is inflamed.

You might also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning, which usually improves with mild activity. But, if left untreated, the pain will worsen and become persistent until just flexing your foot hurts, let along running. Keep running through the pain and you risk tearing the tendon.


The main cause of Achilles tendonitis is repetitive or intense strain on the tendon. Other factors include:

  • Gender: Achilles tendinitis occurs most commonly in men.
  • Age: Achilles tendinitis is more common as you age (boo).
  • Physical problems: A naturally flat arch in your foot can put more strain on the Achilles tendon. Obesity and tight calf muscles also can increase tendon strain.
  • Training choices: Running in worn shoes can increase your risk of Achilles tendinitis (good excuse to buy some new shoes, as if you needed an excuse). Tendon pain occurs more frequently in cold weather than in warm weather, and running on hilly terrain also can predispose you to Achilles injury.

Treatment and prevention of Achilles Tendonitis

  • As with most sporting injuries, the best course of immediate action is to follow the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Stop any strenuous activity and rest your injured leg for a few weeks. Elevating the leg when seated – ideally no higher than your hip – can help too. Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can help but don’t use them to allow you to run through the pain, as that will only make things worse. The pain usually subsides after a few weeks of rest and only with gentle walking.

When you are ready to start exercising again:

  • Increase your activity level gradually. Start at 50 per cent of your previous level of activity, then increase by a further 20 per cent each week if you remain pain-free.
  • Make sure you warm up properly before strenuous activity and avoid hill running. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest.
  • Choose your shoes carefully. Make sure they have enough cushioning in the heel and, if you have flat feet, look for arch support. Orthotics that slightly raise your heel may help by reducing the pressure on your Achilles.
  • Stretch daily. Take the time to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon to maintain flexibility. See below for some Achilles stretches.
  • Strengthen your calf muscles. Strong calf muscles help to take the pressure off the Achilles tendon. See below for some calf strengthening exercises.
  • Cross-train. Alternate high-impact activities, such as running and jumping, with low-impact activities, such as cycling and swimming.

1. Runner’s stretch (calf stretch)

  1. Place your hands on a wall or chair. If using a wall, put your hands at eye level.
  2. Step the leg you want to stretch behind you. Keep your back heel on the floor and point your toes straight ahead.
  3. Bend your other knee toward the wall, keeping your back leg straight.
  4. Lean toward the wall until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf. Don’t lean so far that you feel pain.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 3 reps.

If it hurts to straighten your leg, try the stretch with bent knees. Start closer to the wall and bend your back knee until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

2. Toe-to-wall stretch

Follow these steps with the leg that’s causing discomfort.

  1. Stand facing the wall and place the toes of your sore leg up and against the wall. The higher you place your toes, the deeper the stretch.
  2. Lean forward, keeping your heel on the floor. (Your other leg is behind you, toes forward and heel on ground.)
  3. Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 3 reps.

3. Heel drop

  1. Hold on to the rail of a staircase.
  2. Put the ball of your foot on the edge of the bottom step.
  3. Let your heel drop down, allowing your other foot to relax.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 3 reps.

Achilles stretching tips

For optimal relief, stretch your Achilles tendon regularly. You should continue to stretch even when you don’t feel stiff or sore.

To get the most out of each stretch, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  • Take your time. Move slowly, whether you’re deepening into a stretch or changing positions. This will limit the risk of injury and discomfort.
  • Avoid bouncing. Quick, sudden movements will only worsen Achilles tendon issues. Stay relaxed during each stretch.
  • Keep your heel down. During a calf stretch, plant your heel on the ground. If you lift your heel, the Achilles tendon won’t stretch properly.
  • Stop if you feel pain. Stretch until you feel minor discomfort, then relax. Don’t strain or force your muscles. If you feel sharp pain, stop stretching immediately.

Calf Strengthening Exercises

1. Seated heel raises

  1. Sit on a chair or at the edge of a bed. Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your heels as high as possible, pause, then slowly lower them.
  3. Complete one set of 20 to 25 reps. Repeat 5 to 6 times each day.

2. Standing heel raises

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold on to a chair or counter top for support.
  2. Lift your heels and rise onto the balls of your feet. Pause, then slowly lower your heels.
  3. Complete one set of 20 to 25 reps. Repeat up to 5 or 6 times each day.

3. Resistance band calf exercise

  1. Sit on the floor. Extend your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Starting with a light resistance band, wrap it around the ball of the foot you want to stretch, bending your knee slightly. Hold the ends with your hands.
  3. Pull the band to flex your foot toward you.
  4. Pause, release, and point your foot away from you.
  5. Complete 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Cracker Corner

I got a job with a bicycle manufacturer. I’m their new spokesperson.

Chris says I should do lunges to get fitter. That would be a big step forward.

I don’t trust the trees in Barking Park. They seem kind of shady.

Boom! Boom!

And finally…

I often use this section to recommend products that I’ve found helpful, like the KT blister tape (wish I’d used it for the XC) or the bug bite zapper, but here’s a must to avoid. This camphor and menthol body wash seemed like a really good idea for soothing my aching muscles after a tough run. However, let’s just say you really don’t want to get menthol and camphor on your delicate bits…

Happy Running




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