Race Reports

BAR 13 Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 18th Dec 2011


The final race of the season brought out 8 hardy athletes for a bitterly cold race on the coast. Good preparation does not prevent all problems however and Rob was fighting off a sore throat, whilst Steve was recovering from a gastric flu bug which hit just 8 days before the race, leaving him unable to eat for 4 days. Medical advice suggests it is not good to race in those circumstances. What do those doctors know anyway?

Most race organisers understand the 'smell of fear' concept. For those who don't I would not suggest going near any nearby toilets just before a race. This race was the exception, there were virtually no toilets. In fact it turned out there were more massage ladies available after the race than toilets beforehand. That didn't stop Kev, who was into the ladies like a shot when the opportunity arose, barging desperate women out of the way to shed a few pounds before the start. The rest of us looked elsewhere and found a toilet block, but the cold water feed had frozen so there was no flush! Did we give up and look elsewhere - NO - stack it high, flush later! I can only imagine how bad it got.

The race got underway at 9.30, with the air temperature still below zero. The course is about as pancake flat as it is possible to be, but for all that this was a tough race. One third of the course was pavement or tarmac, one third was gravel tracks which were not too bad apart from the puddles, and the other third was downright cross country. It was those sections which made it hard. There was mud, narrow slippery wet paths, rock strewn paths, shingle beach sections, and grass and large puddles. You could get back up to speed on the good bits only to have another strength sapping section to knock you right back. In addition there were no marshals except at the (very good) feed stations. When you are tired it is too easy just to follow the person in front, and whilst it was generally easy to follow the course there were odd sections where it was easy to go wrong. I don't think any of us got round without errors. Jim certainly went wrong about 4 miles from the finish, and there was one section where the entire field went wrong. A steep path on this section finished at a river edge with a 4 metre drop into the water. I wasn't expecting it and had to pull up sharply to avoid going over the edge. The race times illustrated how challenging it actually was. Only 8 people finished under 3 hours.

Jim, Steve and Kev stayed together for about 4 miles but then Jim pushed up the pace and dropped the others. By the half way mark he had a good minute advantage over Steve, who was as far ahead of Kev. Rob decided to pace Rachel round because of his bug and Emma was taking the race at a sensible pace whilst Kay and Julienne were going along steadily.

The views and terrain of this race were quite amazing and I can quite understand why it was voted in the Top 10 of 'must do' marathons in the UK. There were marinas and harbours, marshlands and parklands, rivers and estuaries as well as the seafront views. However when it comes to the second half it becomes apparent that most of the view is a patch of ground just a few feet ahead of you as the fatigue starts to set in, pain starts to intrude and the real challenge of marathon running hits home.

Jim was probably the only one who wasn't feeling it too badly. He always looked strong and powered through to finish 29th just under 3h15m. Steve did get Jim back in his sights at about 22 miles, but then an old problem with his right knee suddenly triggered. It was like turning a switch from running strongly to being in severe pain and virtually being unable to put the right foot to the floor. This led to a comical running action of lightly stepping on the right foot and doing an exaggerated left stride to try to keep the pace up. It worked after a fashion but cost him 30 seconds a mile. Frustratingly it cost him a few places, including the second lady who was being dragged round by what appeared to be a husky! He was still delighted with 38th place and a 3h17m finish, and can only imagine what he could have done without the bug during the previous week.

It turned out Kev had dropped back for a reason. He has done 3 marathons this year and was very well prepared and fit. Sometimes however you just know it is not going to be your day, and this was such an occasion. He realised he was struggling and sensibly backed off in the second half to finish in just under 3h34m, still a very respectable time.

Rob and Rachel continued running together for most of the way, although Rob did find the cold weather and constant reminders of water a bit too much for his bladder, resulting in him stopping three times! Rachel however was running superbly and was on target to be way under her PB. Similar to me though, she suddenly hit problems at about 22 miles and from then on was really struggling. Nevertheless she remained a full 5 minutes inside her PB at the finish for an excellent time just under 3h46m. Rob, gentleman that he is(!) did manage to get a time 3 seconds faster, although clearly he didn't really get out of the comfort zone all the way round, and he even included his comfort breaks. They even managed to befriend an odd bloke called Dave!

Emma was running a steady pace and thought she might be able to break 4hrs. Her PB is 3h51m but it was 10 years ago so sub 4 would have been quite a feat. Like Rachel and Steve she also ran into problems late on and really suffered. She even went through a phase of wondering if she would finish at all but soldiered on for a 4h11m finish. As a training race for her true goal of the Brighton Marathon in April though, this was an excellent performance.

Kay got into trouble with a stitch relatively early. Clearly that makes proper running almost impossible so she had to resort to power walking and jogging. Husband Steve was trying to support her by riding round the route on his mountain bike, but wandered off somewhere towards Chichester and had to return to base to wait for her there. She finished, still smiling and cheerful, in 5h25m, probably looking in better shape than the rest of us.

Julienne had her usual steady pace. I did feel quite sorry for Darren at the finish, waiting in the freezing cold. On a positive note he always knew how she was doing because of the stream of text updates. She finished in 5h48m which I have huge respect for because it is an awful long time to be out there working hard.

Once we had finished most of us had a massage from the 'Pompey Pummellers' - I have to say it was the most painful post-race massage I have ever had, and easily the most effective one. She found every knot - although it felt like it was all knot with a bit of leg underneath. The difference it makes is staggering. The next day you can walk virtually normally - incredible!

Special praise must go to Tim and Claire who came to support, and stood out in the cold along with Darren and Steve Mac. However painful it is doing this sort of race I always prefer to be taking part rather than watching, if only for that sense of relief and achievement at the finish.

Men WINNER 2h51m29s

Jim Graham 3.14.48 13.39% 10points

Steve Alden 3.17.07 14.94 9

Kevin James 3.33.59 24.78 8

Rob Hoodless 3.45.50 31.69 7


Women WINNER 3h00m54s

Rachel Baker 3.45.53 24.87 10points

Emma Goodhead 4.11.03 38.78 9

Kay McMenamin 5.25.15 79.79 8

Julienne Stuart-Colwill 5.48.12 92.48 7


Author: Steve Alden

BAR 12 Brighton 10k, 20 Nov 2011

While Barns Green is well known for its wind and rain, it seems that the Brighton 10k is usually bright and sunny. This year was no exception making superb racing conditions.

Of course this wasn't enough for some, with Rob, Rachel and Claire electing to cycle down for the race. Altogether 15 MSTC athletes were running although there may be others who did not enter as MSTC. For the first time more women than men from the club were racing (8 v 7).


Those who have raced here before know that it is quite a boring course but it is pretty flat and therefore quite fast. However now that there are 2700 runners it is getting a bit crowded!


We actually had 2 MSTC athletes right at the front of the field, with both Mark Jordan and Callum Murray riding mountain bikes to keep the road clear for the leading runners, although Mark was having some trouble blowing his whistle and shouting at the same time.


Steve Crocker showed the pace that has been evident on Thursday evenings to be first home in 38.39. He still felt he went off too fast and that he could go faster if he paced himself better. Not a bad effort for his first club race though. Steve Alden was not far behind with his quickest 10k for 6 years in 39.16. Rob Hoodless faded a bit at the end but just crept in under the 40 minutes in 39.58.


Rachel was first lady home from the club with a comfortable PB in 43.48. Second was Tamsin in 47.18 although she felt she could have run faster. She has been training well so I am sure her times will come down.  


I didn't see Dave Leadbitter but he ran well to finish in 45.03, comfortably ahead of Colin (46.17) and Steve Mac in 46.38. Peter Clarke completed the men in 49.13.


Julie Williams continued her good form with a PB in 56.08 to finish 3rd lady with Kay Mac in 57.24. A very hot and thirsty Claire finished in 64.23. There are no drinks stations around the course and on a warm day she really suffered. Jules got round in 65.27 nearly a minute behind Emma (64.36) who lost a BAR point by starting too far back. Rose Ryan had a gentle run round in 75.49 encouraging another runner.


Rob and Rachel then cycled home with Callum and Mark but not before stopping in Ditchling for tea and cakes - the best conclusion to a social ride!



MEN WINNER:   29m52s


Steve Crocker   



10 points

Steve Alden




Rob Hoodless




Dave Leadbitter




Colin Chambers




Steve McMenamin




Peter Clarke









Rachel Baker



10 points

Tamsin Clake




Julie Williams




Kay McMenamin




Claire Cresswell




Julienne Stuart-Colwill




Emma Alden




Rose Ryan






 *Note: Ant Bliss always writes a good blog on the races he covers view the brooks one here.



Author: Steve Alden


Bike and Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Haywards Heath


The ride organised by Haywards Heath councillor Richard Bates is an opportunity to explore a circular on road route around the town's boundary - known as its Bounds.

The ride will start at 10am from Haywards Heath Town Hall on Saturday, November 26, followed by a coffee break and a discussion from 11am.

The discussion can be anything you wish to raise about cycling locally and it is intended to respond to the Neighbourhood Plan Consultation by creating a cycle network which could be implemented using Neighbourhood Planning gain funds.

There will be a mapping exercise to identify key routes and major crossing points and where cycle parking is needed. This is part of the Mid Sussex Cycling Campaign promoting cycling in Mid Sussex - formally under the umbrella SPOKES.

For further information contact Haywards Heath Town Councillor Richard Bates r.bates111@btinternet.com

Chilly Duathlon at Castle Coombe race track


At the end of my first season in Triathlon, I convinced myself that I had one race left in me - and so I signed up on the day for the Chilly Duathlon at Castle Coombe race track in Wiltshire. It seemed like a great idea with a 2 mile run, 10 mile cycle, and back for another 2 miles running. The course was on the Castle Coombe motor racing circuit - which at 2 miles in length, made the maths easy for the organisers.

I got there early, and was able to blag a quick lap of the track on my bike before they set up. Low lying fog quickly turned my cycling glasses in to a blurry waste of £15 - so they got binned into my kit bag when I got back to rack my bike. A good move as others would find later.

A quick briefing later, and a stern talking to from the BTF official about drafting (where everyone was given their first warning), we were sent off in a mass start. Starting at the back (as I thought I was a slow runner) meant that my ego got a boost as I quickly started passing other competitors. Towards the end of my 2 mile run, the leaders were already completing their first bike lap and envy propelled me into T1. Sodding shoe wouldn't come off - wasted 10s, got on the bike - forgot that I left it in a high gear after my test lap, another few secs wasted - and we're off on lap 1 - smile for the camera on exit.

5 laps later, my legs are still good and T2 seemed to go better. Ripped the top off a gel, and promptly sent most of it over my hands. Started the 2 mile run with sticky fingers - nice. Anyway, I stuck to my race plan and reeled in some more runners - and even caught the two guys that I thought had left me for dust in the first run. A final sprint for the line and home for tea and medals (no t-shirt).

Overall the race was really well organised with chip timing and lots of sponsors on site selling their wares. I'll be back next year.

Run 1: 16:41
T1:      01:14
Bike:   28:39
T2:      01:13
Run 2: 15:53
Total:   01:03:41

Andrew Lennox
Nuffield Health

Haywards Heath Marathon.... Really


06 May 12
Location: Beech Hurst Gardens, Haywards Heath, West Sussex  

Date: Sunday 6th May 2012   Time: 10.30 am

The Haywards Heath 10 Mile Race is the second in a three race series which together comprises the Go Mid Sussex Marathon weekend. The other two races are the East Grinstead 10 Mile on Saturday May 5th 2012 and the Burgess Hill 10K on Monday May 7th 2012.

You can run them individually - or take part in all three. If you take part in all three and run 26.2 miles you will receive a specially designed Commemorative Go Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend Medal.

Team relay option with three people running approx. 3.3 miles each

Children's Race

Special weekend packages available to include accommodation and entertainment

All three races held under UKA Rules. Permits applied for.

The race uses an undulating trail and pathway course in and around Haywards Heath, using mainly traffic free routes. Would suit runners of all standards including those new to 10 mile races. Positions in this race count towards overall series prizes for those completing all 26.2 miles over the three races (first 100 male and female finishers in each race score points).

Please note that the race is considered unsuitable for wheelchair athletes. If you have any questions about the suitability of the course for you then please call the Go Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend Office on 01797 230999

Medals to all finishers plus finish line goodies - and there will be other events, attractions and entertainment throughout the weekend at all three races.