Howdie Road Runners,

I don’t think we have any Americans in the Club (Nehal is probably closest, with his frequent trips to the US), but happy Independence Day anyway.

Maybe both losing a little bit of there independence, but in the best possible way, congratulations to our very own Isabel and new husband Obi, who tied the know at the weekend. Here’s wishing them all the very best for the future. Now Isabel just has to get Obi running!

Back to the world of running, and the Spitfire Scramble is creeping up on us. See lower down the blog for my my top tips.

But, first and foremost, the beginning of the month can mean only one thing; Dee Spencer-Perkins has been speaking to our forest dwelling, eco-warrior friend, Dottie.

Dottie Dear’s Almanac for July: Beauty

There has been a bit of speculation recently about Dottie’s love life.  This has always been a bit of a mystery, as we have never seen any evidence of this: no razor blades in the bathroom for instance, or a random tin of Lynx Dark Temptation in the bin.

Pondering on this, we arrived at the tree house this month to find a shower of flower petals on the floor, and various containers of oil and empty jars spread out all over the table.  Even more intriguing, her laptop was open and on it was an image of a rather fit looking chap, craggily handsome with greying 1970s hair, and with an impressive (but untidy) bookshelf behind him.

We were trying to figure it all out when a dishevelled Dottie scrambled up the rope ladder, all hot and bothered, laden with two carrier bags crammed to the top with an assortment of boxes and bottles.

We made her a cup of chamomile tea while she recovered, and all was revealed. It turns out that for years she had been carrying a torch for Xander (the charismatic gent on the screen), who had been doing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics when they first met as students at a Bob Marley concert. Not only was he studying a rather sexy and esoteric subject, he was also in a rock band with some medical students (called the Metatarsal Heads), which had added to his considerable allure at the time.  Xander was now a big noise at NASA and based in Washington D.C. which had done nothing to dim Dottie’s ardour (and besides might make him more of a Jean-Paul Gaultier man, we thought – although this is pure speculation, you understand).

It seems that Xander had chased Dottie up on Friends Reunited a few years ago, and now they were regular Facebookers (although we couldn’t help noticing that the pictures of herself she had been posting were all at least 20 years old).

Anyway, Dottie was now thrown into a bit of a tizz.  Xander was coming to London for a high-level conference on the evolution of the universe, and had suggested that she might like to meet him, for old time’s sake – perhaps for tea at the Savoy? Having established that Xander was now respectably divorced and so a meeting would be OK (she would do anything for love, but she won’t do that), she suddenly began to feel a bit time-worn.  She would be the first to admit that the face Xander once found to be so captivating was now looking a bit lived-in:  her collagen was collapsing, not to mention the insidious approach of those dreaded Saggy Jowls.  Home-made beauty applications from witch hazel and green tea were no longer going to cut it: it was time to pump up the panthenol and find something a bit less delicate than rosehip oil – perhaps more akin to grouting.

So, she had hastily abandoned her bottles and jars, shooting off to Romford on the 247 bus to seek some emergency advice on skincare.

Once in store, she was readily monopolised by an Assistant who was very keen to help (perhaps a bit too keen). Finding herself on one of those scary swivelling stools, Dottie soon became confused by the plethora of preparations that were on offer.  Creams to promote radiance by hydrating and nourishing; creams with added vitamins; products to plump up and enhance your natural beauty; night creams, day creams; creams to lighten those dark undereye shadows and (most temptingly) wonder-creams to make you look several years younger.

Whilst they were at it, the Assistant continued, would madam like to consider some hair care products. Dottie ruefully had to agree that her follicles had become a bit frazzled over the years, so she further submitted to a gentle but persistent bombardment with a range of shampoos and conditioners so sophisticated that they would suit any hair type – heat damaged, mature, stressed (eh?) – which left her wondering whatever had happened to dry, greasy or normal – with the occasional nod to dandruff.

Finally, in order to just get out of the store she had purchased two bagfuls of beauty, and sat on the bus home pondering just how long it might take to look 20 years younger. Xander’s conference would be in 3 weeks, so there wasn’t much time to effect the transformation.

She had already prepared the July advice for the blog, so here it is:

  • The shampoo always runs out before the conditioner.
  • The toner always lasts longer than the moisturiser.
  • Beauty is only skin deep and …….
  • ….it is usually in the eye of the beholder anyway.

We were just sorting out the creams and potions into organised groups, when there was a ping on the laptop.  It was the lovely Xander himself. He was so sorry, but the conference had been cancelled due to an outbreak of Covid, and he couldn’t make it to UK at the moment.  Perhaps they could meet another time – maybe next year if the conference was rescheduled? He was sure she would understand.

Oh dear.  Dottie was crestfallen. As we reached for the Emergency Biscuit Tin, we pointed out that this would give a lot more time for the moisturiser to work.  Have another Jammy Dodger, Dottie.

Hainault Forest Restoration Update

The barn repairs are progressing well, with the Forge Barn fully rebuilt and the new extension added. We are told it has fabulous views of the forest.

The landscapers are working on the new farm layout and are making improvements to the area surrounding the Global Cafe, the latter expecting to take at least four weeks. They are also adding a hard surface to the northern pedestrian entrance, making it user-friendly for all. This will reopen in approx. four weeks’ time.

The new workshop spaces are nearly complete. Local craftspeople, hopefully whose work links in with the forest in some way, are being sought to fill them.

A reminder that all this means that Wednesday’s Newman Hilly 5 ELVIS race will be starting at the Two Brewers/Lambourne Road side of Hainault Forest, rather than the Romford Road/Fox Burrow Rd side. More details below.

Running in the News

We’ve probably all suffered an injury on the track at some point, but nothing compares to the injury that French 400m hurdler, Wilfried Happio, sustained a few weeks’ ago.

Happio was warming up prior to the final at the French Elite Athletics Championships in Caen, France, when an unknown assailant evaded security, approached the 23-year-old athlete, and proceeded to punch him in the face until Happio’s coach, security, and police restrained and arrested the attacker. The motive for the assault remains unknown.

Following the assault, Happio bandaged his eye and used a headband (with his sponsor’s name, of course!) to secure it in place, before declaring himself fit enough to run the race, despite coughing up blood. He went on to win the race in a Personal Best time of 48.57. The result means that he has qualified for the World Athletics Championships, which take place in Eugene, Oregon, from 15-24 July.

After suffering a violent attack, at least that must have made him happio…

BRR in Action

(with thanks to Greg Adams)

Summer 5k Handicap 04 at Barking Park this week was won by Huseyin Dogan. The race was well attended with 21 runners of whom eight managed to beat their handicap times. After four races Martin O’Toole leads the points table followed by Emma Paisley and Les Jay. With three races still to go there is plenty to play for.

BRR’s Jess Collett and Stuart Mackay took part in the Bridge Triathlon-hosted Midnight Half Marathon finishing in 1:40:47 and 1:41:36 respectively. Jess was first female finisher in the half marathon.


Owen Wainhouse ran in the Snowdonia UltraTrail 100k run (approx. 60 miles). According to Owen, biblical rain the night before the race made most of the paths like rivers and almost impossible to find the course in places. Owen still managed to finish the race, which included over 6,600 metres of climb, in under 24 hours, well within the 33-hour cut-off time.

Several BRR members donned their Comrades Tri Club alter egos and competed in a midweek aquathlon this week at Chelmsford Trifarm. The race consisted of an 800-metre open water swim and a 5k run. Debbie Coyle finished as 1st female with Peter Jackson and Paul Wyatt coming 2nd in the pairs event. Also competing in the men’s event was Craig Groom.

The Ware 10 mile race was the 5th race in Barking Road Runners Grand Prix series.  Belinda Riches 1:25:54, Joyce Golder 1:28:36, Les Jay 1:48:19 and Alison Fryatt 1:59:35. Unfortunately for Alison she felt ill at the half-way stage and stopped before feeling better and carrying on which cost her a lot of time.

BRR parkrunners 

Barking Park – Jagbir Bassi 20:09, James Lowndes 23:01, Rosie Fforde 24:52, Mark New 25:35, Jason Li 26:38, Rabea Begum 26:41, John Lang 26:46, Sally Bridge 27:08, Martin Mason 28:53, Greg Adams 32:03, Nikki Cranmer 34:49, Rob Courtier 46:58 and Alan Murphy 49:52.

Chalkwell Beach – Antony Leckerman 20:53.

Harrow Lodge – Rory Burr 23:41.

Heaton Park – Paul Withyman 18:57.

Raphaels Park – Gary Harford 29:47.

Valentines Park – Joe Stacey 18:04, Steve Philcox 18:16, Kevin Wotton 22:24 and Julie Gillender 34:39.

Spitfire Scramble Tips

Only a few weeks to go until the Spitfire Scramble. For the uninitiated, this is an annual, 24-hour, endurance race in Hornchurch Country Park, consisting of roughly six-mile laps over mixed terrain. The race starts at 12 noon on 16 July, with final laps starting before noon the next day. Participants can either run solo, in pairs, or in teams as a relay, camping overnight.

For some BRR members, it will be their first time, others will have done it before, maybe more than once. So, what are the top tips? Here are mine:

  • Pitch up your tent the day before e.g. Friday afternoon/evening. I’m not sure any camping spot is better than another (for examples, there are advantages and disadvantages to being close to the portaloos) but being with your Club/team-mates is a must.
  • Take several changes of clothes. It is no fun hanging around in damp, sweaty, running gear, and it will make you more prone to chafing/blisters. That includes changes of socks, and shoes if possible.
  • Baby wipes are your friends. There are usually offsite showers with a minibus shuttle service but, for 24 hours, it is easier and quicker to give yourself a quick wipe down. Bringing your own loo roll in case they run out in the portaloos is a good idea too.
  • However hot it is during the day, it will be really cold at night! Bring something warm to wrap up in, and don’t wait until the cold seeps into your bones before donning it.
  • Don’t forget your headtorch. It’s not just the organisers being overly zealous; you really will need it at night. Prepare to be terrified by all the scuttling or flying nasties that show up in the light.
  • Bring a mini-medicine chest including insect repellent (if you are prone to bites), sunscreen, Vaseline, hayfever tablets, blister plasters, Deep Heat etc etc etc…
  • Bring a bottle for your own water. There are a few water stations on course, and big water bowsers (tanks of water with a tap) at the camp site. Bring your own bottle to fill up. The water will go quickly if it’s hot during the day.
  • Bring some snacks. There are usually food concessions on site which are OK for tea and coffee but for food it’s best to bring something you’ll like (especially if you have special dietary requirements). In previous years people have gone to get pizzas, McDonalds etc too.

What are your top tips?

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 5 July – Speed Development. Jim Peter’s Stadium. A nice simple one this time: 10 x 2.5 minutes, with 1 minute recovery. Aim for 5k race pace but, If you are racing the next day, please pace yourself accordingly.

7.30pm, Wednesday 6 July – ELVIS 04: the Newman Hilly 5. 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 30 June – Road Run from Castle Green Centre, Gale Street, Dagenham. Usually about five miles. I hope route planner Nige will be gentle with us after the race the night before.

9.30am, Sunday 3 July – Spitfire Scramble training run. Another chance to test out the route for the Spitfire Scramble, before the big day. Meet at the car park off Squadron’s Approach.

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

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

7.30pm, Wednesday 20 July – ELVIS 05: Harold Wood 5k. Harold Wood Park, Harold View, Harold Wood, RM3 0LX. The newest race in the ELVIS series, and a quite challenging mix of tarmac paths and gravelly trail. More information and entries at

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.

The Phipps 5K – BRR August Bank Holiday race

The more observant of you (or those of you who check your social media regularly) will have noticed that entries for our very own ELVIS (East London fiVes Interclub Series) race, the Phipps 5k, opened on EntryCentral last week. The race always takes place on August Bank Holiday Monday, and used to be called the BH5K for short, but we renamed it the Phipps 5K last year in remembrance of one of our early members, Owen Phipps. Owen sadly passed away after a battle with cancer, but generously remembered BRR in his will.

This year’s Co-Race Directors are Andrew Gwilliam and Jess Collett. They have already put in a huge amount of work behind the scenes. But we’ll also need loads of volunteers on the day to make the race a success. Andrew and Jess will shortly be asking for people to help out (thanks to Jagbir and Les for already putting their hands up).

Of course, we also want to put forward a strong BRR team, as this is part of an interclub competition. Like last year, BRR members can enter for half price (£5 for UKA registered runners, £6 for non-registered). Please speak to Alison if you want to run. DON’T sign-up online as you will have to pay the full price, and the Club also has to pay commission to EntryCentral.

Cracker Corner

  • Something strange happened to me yesterday. I opened my front door and found three bags of Lego on the doorstep. I don’t know what to make of it.
  • Broken guitar for sale – no strings attached.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to use the seat belt in my friend’s new car. Then it just clicked.

Boom! Boom!

And finally…

A month or so I included an article about running mantras in the blog. These are short, uplifting phrases that you can repeat during tough races and training runs to try and motivate yourself. I’ve decided on a new running mantra after my nightmare at the Ware 10 on Sunday. A sudden bout of Runner’s Trots caused me to drop out of the race at the halfway stage but, after using the facilities, I decided I might as well get on with it and earn my finisher’s medal. The new mantra? ‘Too stupid to stop…’.

Happy Running




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