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Published by asami, 2017-10-24 09:08:37

28877 Red and Black Magazine Autum and Winter

28877 Red and Black Magazine

Up the hill


Herne Hill Harriers is a community athletics club that
believes in diversity & is open to all.


Around the Unblunted
World in Runners’ lives
80 runs
My best race, climbs
my worst race
Why do you Jump?

Growing up
a Herne Hill Harrier

A Jogging Injury into my thoughts like dried flowers
too tender for touch. Today blood
Fleda Brown Jackson crowds and blooms its flower
under the skin, making a glad
All day I have lain, foot propped,
beating its shadow-heart try for total repair. The lame
in time with the gods who stopped foot struck a rock, innocent
my run midstride. Their art on the path: its pain
is the rock’s gift, a godsend.
stings less in my middle age.
At sixteen I would have cried
at my foot’s carnage,
its quick turn from the right.

Now I am riddled with breaks.
Those I loved and others I turned from
have softened my bones to vague aches;
my original dreams come

Copyright © 1986, by Fleda Brown Jackson


Herne Hill Harriers reason to exist is gloriously simple. According
to the club’s rules, ‘The purposes of the Club are to promote the
amateur sport of athletics and community participation in the same.’
It’s only when you ask how best to achieve those purposes that
greater complexity, and perhaps a contradiction or two emerge.

What motivates people to take part in sport? Four years after the
London Olympics the number of people in the UK taking part in
sport – defined as playing sport at least once a week – had actually
fallen. The BBC reported that, ‘the biggest decline is among people
from ethnic minorities and economically-deprived groups.’

The membership of athletics clubs, with their emphasis on
competition, ticks over. About 135,000 are registered with England
Athletics. But with nearly 1.5 million signed-up since it began just
13 years ago, the social phenomenon of Parkrun, which explicitly
rejects the notion that its runs are races, has been a runaway
success. Within weeks of new runs beginning, several hundred
runners of massively differing ability, can be seen enjoying regular
Saturday morning sport. As Parkrun’s founder, Paul Sinton Hewitt,
put it, the reason so many communities embrace Parkrun, is
because, ‘it brings people together in a social, supportive and
non-competitive environment. Parkruns are not races, there are no
winners, and we celebrate participation – whether it be walking,
running or volunteering – over performance.’ Herne Hill Harriers
(purpose: to promote community participation in athletics), is
now one of many clubs to look to its local Parkrun in the hope of
attracting new members.

In The Lore of Running, author Tim Noakes cites a classic study
from the United States that looked into people’s reasons for taking
up running. ‘Health, fun and weight control’ all came significantly
far ahead of ‘competition.’ That suggests that if athletics clubs
want more athletes, they need to attract people first with something
other than just the promise of, and insistence on racing. Often, a
period of confidence building is needed before many feel ready for

EDITORIAL | Andrew Simms | Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @Andrewsimms_UK
DESIGN, LAYOUT AND PRINT | Words & Pictures | 8 Stoney Lane, London SE19 3BD |

We are all excited by the extraordinary spectacle of elite Herne Hill athletes form an orderly
sport, and we champion and celebrate our fellow athletes queue before passing the competition
who find themselves on that pathway, let alone those who
arrive thrillingly in the great stadiums. It is however, by
definition, an exclusive club. And, as Paralympian, Dame
Tanni Grey-Thompson, pointed out recently, “We know there
is a disconnect between elite sport and participation… Unless
we look more creatively about how we engage everyone in
physical activity, we may win medals but we will be bottom of
the league table on health and wellbeing.”

The question of well-being throws up another potential
contradiction. Being part of an athletics club ticks all the
boxes that numerous studies into human well-being suggest
are needed to make us feel better and improve our experience
of our own lives. It combines the five classic ‘ways to well-
being’: being active, learning, connecting with others, taking
notice of the world around you (it’s hard not to while dodging
tree roots on a cross country run, or watching for javelins at
the track), and ‘giving’, here in the sense of the voluntary
contributions members make to hlep the club function.

But, there is also an intense focus on one of the major
things that is known to lower our sense of well-being, and
that’s constantly comparing yourself to others. Of course, it’s
impossible not to in competitive sport. Too singular a drive for
performance, to the exclusion of other considerations, might also
partly explain the endemic injury problem affecting club runners
which so undermines the sport’s potential benefits (explored later
in this edition). All this means a successful club has to negotiate
several paradoxes: i) how to produce the best performances while
respecting and responding to the fact that people have other,
stronger motivations for participation, ii) how to celebrate the highest
level of success while understanding that success means different
things to different people, and iii) finally, in a world where getting
‘ranked’ is unavoidable, how to avoid letting that ranking define your
wider enjoyment of the sport or undermine the well-being you derive
from it.

Like training, nobody said it would be easy. Up the Hill…

Andrew Simms




Red & Black asked two of Herne Hill’s top young athletes how things were going…


R&B What have you enjoyed most about the
last season?

JK I really enjoyed the opportunity to go to
English Schools in Birmingham and beat
my 1500m PB by 5 seconds getting a
time of 4:16:43.

R&B What did you find most challenging?
JK I found moving up an age group to U15’s

a bit challenging, as some of the boys
are 1-2 years older than me and more
R&B What do you hope to achieve next?
JK I hope to continue improving my PB’s
and work towards qualifying for English
Schools and the Home International.


R&B What have you enjoyed most about the
last season?

AB Winning the ESAA 1500m after getting
silver for the two previous years

R&B What did you find most challenging?
AB Managing a heavy academic workload –

I had GCSEs this summer which finished
less than two weeks before the ESAA
– alongside running and club-school
R&B What do you hope to achieve next?
AB To get good A levels and to be able to
keep playing sport. I have already done
way better at running than I ever thought
I would.



When the


is simply

turning up

JAMES WARD on why Herne Hill Harriers host the annual Emer Casey London 10K

Adrone whirs excitedly overhead. To my daughters of Brendan and Juliette Casey, Emer’s
right, the salty breeze of an early spring untimely death had such an enormous impact
evening drifts inwards from the shore on her family, friends, colleagues and everybody
as I limber up behind a makeshift white line who knew her that they vowed to do everything
surrounded by a densely packed hub of like- they could to prevent anybody else suffering the
minded people. A couple of rows behind, our same fate.
Club President grins, pleased to be racing on his
birthday. In a few moments, the race will begin. The Youghal run was quickly established and
another, on the opposite side of the world, in
We have come to Youghal, a small seaside Melbourne, followed soon after, aided by Sonia
town on the southern tip of Ireland to O’Sullivan, the former world champion and
commemorate the life of Emer Casey, a young Olympic 5000m medallist, who serves as the
local woman whose life was lost after a short charity’s patron. By 2009, the Foundation had
and brave battle against ovarian cancer in 2006, set its sights on London and Ger Flanagan, one
when she was aged just 28 years old. Hundreds of its key supporters, identified that if a run was
around us have done the same; for a few hours to be sustainable, it would need the backing of
at least, the town will come to a standstill. This is a local athletics club. Fortunately, when asked if
a close knit community, after all. Seconds later, a he had any contacts who might be able to help,
pistol sounds and we are away. Ger replied that he did have somebody in mind.
It was the legendary Irish runner John Downes,
This is the signature event of the Emer Casey a former Southern Cross Country champion and
Foundation, the charity established by a cruel Herne Hill Harrier, who asked Geoff Jerwood
twist of fate with the ambitious manifesto of whether the club could offer support.
raising funds, the standard of patient care for
those affected, and heightening awareness John is one of those people in life whose
of a deadly disease. The youngest of the five requests you do not decline. Once told me a


Last year’s Emer Casey race sets off of many established club races. Many can no
into a South London autumn mist longer generate a return to justify the hours of
sweat, toil and friction with the local authority
delightful tale of how he obtained restitution from that typically goes on behind the scenes to
an agent who had double-crossed him in what make an event happen. Yet it is precisely this
might be described as rudimentary fashion. In quest which enables our event to distinguish
truth, however, we needed no persuasion, and itself from its competitors. The story behind the
began collaborating with some of Emer’s London- event is one which needs to be told. While other
based friends to put the first run together in the organisers may buckle at dwindling turnouts and
club’s spiritual home of Brockwell Park. Eight receding receipts, these obstacles are unlikely
years later, the London run has become a regular to ever defeat the mantra behind this unique
feature of the club’s autumn fixture list, as young occasion. It isn’t about profit or even the number
and old come together, unperturbed by misty of finishers (although they of course help to
mornings or the prospect of hurdling random make the event what it is). There are far quicker
dogs along the paths. and easier ways to raise funds than organising
a charity road race. No, for the Foundation, it’s
In an area when the casual jogger can a triumph simply by being a London run with
take part in organised weekly events without which to remember Emer, and for it to happen
charge, attracting entrants is a challenge, and every year. For the club and all those who
something which has resulted in the demise volunteer on the day, that alone is enough to
make them feel proud and for this race to be an
“The story behind the annual success.
event is one which needs
to be told.” The 2017 Emer Casey London 10K is on 29th



Do you want

The view from the Green Hut:

with that?NATALIE ZARA looks at life in the club’s

beating, but mostly eating, heart…

Each year as the running, jumping and sorry to say that I never did get the chance to
throwing takes place on the track, the sample Stan’s cooking but it is often the thought
little green hut at Tooting sees it all. From of some hot tea and chocolate biscuits in the hut
being the cake stall at the open track meetings, at the end of a long, cold weekend that keeps
the place to have tea and biscuits after a long me going. On occasion, Joan Allen makes her
Sunday run, and acting as a sales room for delicious bread and butter pudding which is a
Herne Hill sports clothing, the hut has many real highlight.
uses and is central to the life of the club.
In fact, Joan’s amazing bread and butter
The familiar green hut is as old as the track, pudding leads me nicely onto the reason that
but has only been in its current location for six I am so acquainted with the green hut. Over
years or so, having been moved from what is now the last few years I have either run or helped
the so-called ‘yoga suite’. out on the ‘cake stall’ at the open track meets.
The generosity of many of those at the club in
Over the years it has been famous for the donating all sorts of cakes and sandwiches has
cooked breakfasts served up by Stan Allen after meant that I have had the pleasure of serving
the Sunday run, and apparently this practice a wide variety of snacks and treats to many an
continued for some time after the hut was athlete and, quite literally serving up tea and,
moved. As Sarah Allen says, to her, the green hut sometimes, sympathy whilst listening to their
means “do you want beans with that?” stories of success or disappointment. Ruth
Chalmers’ Victoria sponge cake deserves a
Having only been a club member for around 5 special mention as it is a huge, cream-filled affair
years, and only a sporadic Sunday runner, I am which sells out in seconds as do the Chilton
family who always contribute in some way
“Who knew mexican whether its making sandwiches, bringing brightly
decorated homemade cupcakes or lending one
chicken’ or ‘corned beef of their many children to assist with serving teas
and coffees.
and mustard’ would
There are so many people that lend a hand
prove to be so popular?” and I am always grateful to each and every
one of them. I, myself, have had a lot of fun in


Joan Allen testing out new sandwich flavours (who knew a curry house). I must admit though, keeping
holds the ‘mexican chicken’ or ‘corned beef and mustard’ people happy by feeding them cake at the same
green fort would prove to be so popular?) and, thanks to time as making some money for the club is very
the enormous redcurrant tree in my garden, I satisfying.
think I must have baked just about every variant
on redcurrant cakes anyone could imagine. It So, our humble green hut plays a pivotal role.
breaks my heart when I hear the words ‘do you It is the place where we swap stories and vests
have plain chicken/ham/cheese?’ Really? How after races, the place where we chomp biscuits
boring! Saying that, I never fail to be amazed by and sip tea, the place where training plans are
the requests we get e.g. beer, curry and/or chips analysed and devised, the place where we cheer
(for anyone wondering we are neither a pub nor others on as they compete, and, a true symbol of
the club.




How prevention gets overlooked, and is
MUCH better than cure

ANDREW SIMMS wonders if the number and frequency the more invincible you feel. And,
of running injuries is inevitable, or whether a greater that’s part of the problem. The
emphasis on prevention could save a lot of suffering default behaviour for many runners
is overtraining. They, ‘we’, are like
What’s one of the worst of the pack alike. Huskies, we’ll run ourselves into the
things that can happen to It is one of the most common ground chasing our next goal until
a runner? Not being able someone, or something, makes
to run of course. It’s heart breaking. topics of conversation among us stop. And, too often, that’s an
You get separated from something runners because it is far too injury. A classic piece of training
you love doing and, typically, other common. But while advice on lore is that continuity matters and,
runners who you like hanging recovery changes hands like an in time, brings the greatest results.
around with. There’s the torture alternative currency, much less At some level, we know that taking
of feeling your fitness go, and the attention seems to be given to risks by pushing into the injury zone
grim reality of rehabilitation and the prevention. Why is that? in training is counterproductive,
effort involved in winning it back and more likely to make us worse,
– when, and if, you conquer what Partly, because when the going not better athletes. So how do we
went wrong. Injury does not respect is good, most runners don’t want discover what constitutes ‘optimal’
ability, it strikes the front and back to know. They’re carried along by rather than ‘maximal’ training?
the energetic pursuit of their next
goal. The fitter and faster you get, Are there a few principles, simple
enough for over-enthusiastic and



distracted runners to hold in mind? 3. M ake any changes in training 6. Warm-up and cool-down properly
Here’s a few around which there volume or intensity gradual – – we’re long passed the time
appears most consensus from some suddenly introducing something when people thought static
of the more informed voices offering new or ‘going big’ on it, even if stretching before running was a
advice. You might think that they’re you think it is helping, increases good idea, the consensus now
obvious. And, they might be. But injury risk. Gradually build-up is that it’s more likely to increase
the point is, can we remember and long runs for example, increasing the risk of injury. But gradual,
act on them, when it matters, on all weekly mileage by no more dynamic warming up helps
those days when we are not injured? than 10% or less per week, and activate and prepare muscles
introducing proper speed work and other connective tissue
There are plenty of physical things in the spring very gradually after for when more is demanded of
you can do to reduce your body’s miles of slow running. them.
susceptibility to injury but, given
the above, I’m inclined to think 4. D on’t just run, mix it up so you 7. R est and recovery – resting and
that injury prevention begins with a get more general conditioning recovery is not time-off, it is not
better mental approach. – again, sounds easy, but how being lazy, it is about allowing the
many runners get into the groove body to reap the benefits of the
SEVEN PREVENTIVE STEPS of running and – unless you’re training you have done. Working
part of an elite training group out what is optimal for each
1. Listen to your body – learn to where you have to cross train individual may need trial and
tell the difference between the and do mixed conditioning, (hopefully not too much) error
normal tiredness and aches simply carry on running because but it is vital. Insufficient rest
that follow a good training it’s relatively uncomplicated and and recovery will lead to worse
session, and the deeper fatigue is what we know? The message performance just as much as
and those hints from muscles, is, step-off the one-track and get over-cropping a field will reduce
ligaments and tendons that a more mixed sporting life. its productivity.
there is something more that
needs attention. Get in the habit 5. B alance and optimal flexibility, as Injury prevention is both science
of really taking stock of the much as strength and fitness, help and art. It requires difficult
messages your body sends you. guard against injury – this should judgement and self-awareness.
follow from the point above. Perhaps a starting point should be
2. D on’t just listen to your body, act The IAAF’s medical manual to realise that there’s a behavioural
on what its telling you – this is goes very big on this saying, bias in the sport towards an
the hardest one, and possibly the ‘Physical conditioning is a key assumption that ‘more and harder’
biggest cause of injury, when we principle of injury prevention... equals better. But, if you allow for
carry on regardless even when we (to) decrease the risk of injury, that, and keep in mind a few of the
know (even if we haven’t admitted decrease the severity of an principles above, it might save you
to ourselves) that we need to injury should it occur, and can from a lot of pain with no gain…
change, ease-off or in some other help prevent re-injury.’ This
way adapt what you’re doing. In comes from developing all of: (This article draws on several recent
other words, know your limits ‘balance, power, endurance, mainstream summaries of advice on injury
and ask yourself what would be neuromuscular coordination, prevention, from articles in Runners World
worse – a bit less mileage, slower joint flexibility, cardiovascular to the IAAF’s medical manual)
pace and perhaps fewer reps for a endurance, and good body
while when something’s not right, composition.’
or getting crocked and not being
able to run at all for weeks?




CHRIS and reaching a final of the Single Duckers) and the M60 triple
CARDEN Figure Handicap Competition for jump is 11.99 (Sean Power – who
England and Wales. Though, having congratulated me on my 15.24m
Chris Carden explains how once achieved 29 for nine holes I triple jump at Cwmbran in 1979).
the delights of being a born now struggle to break a hundred I thought ‘How hard can it be to
again athlete is making him for 18 holes. Family hill walking tackle these records?’ After a year
jump again and cycling took up my leisure of trying to get back in to some
time between 1986 and 2015 and kind of shape I can confirm that
Turning 60 in September 2016, I I had no thoughts for Athletics. it is indeed ‘very hard!’ I was fairly
wondered whether I could still do But, entering my 60th year I injury-prone as an athlete and thirty
anything worthwhile in the long had fantasies about returning to years on I can confirm that things
jump or triple jump after a 30 athletics to see if I could get close to take a lot longer to heal these days.
year gap. I’d been Track & Field some Masters level age records. My current progress shows a 4.35m
Captain of Herne Hill for 7 years LJ and 8.70m TJ, marks which I am
in the 1980’s, a time when the I believe that, as a species hoping to improve upon.
club entered the British league, of hunter-gatherers we retain a
got to Division 3, sank back to the love of running, jumping and I am currently 16 stone (102 kgs)
Southern League, then rebounded throwing which connects us with and I know that I need to get down
under Geoff Jerwood’s able our ancient past. Most other so- to 12 or 13 stone to threaten Peter
management. called ‘surrogate activities’ have no or Sean’s records. The problem is,
connection with our primeval past, I love my food and drink and am
I was a 7.24m long jumper and but the sport of athletics retains a finding it hard to limit myself to
a 15.24m triple jumper, achieving visceral connection to the dynamics the required 2000 calories a day.
exactly the target I set myself as of the environment that shaped our Having returned to Vets Athletics
an 11 year old in 1972 – 50 feet! I development over the past 200,000 (for Rugby and Northampton and
dabbled in most other events (apart years or more. HHH) it has rekindled the flame
from middle and long distance) of competition and I am looking
achieving Club Championships in Looking at the Masters age forward to making steady progress
10 different events during the 80’s. records I found that the M60 towards the goals of first club
long jump record is 5.44m (Peter records, then British records and
Since retiring from athletics in maybe World records. The world
1986, I raised a family with my record for M60 TJ is 12.58m,
lovely wife Mary, and we have and I did 12.71m at age 14.
Daniel (29) and Anna (26), both
Oxbridge graduates from State My target now is to be a born-
schools. My sport gradually again athlete, aiming to achieve
reduced entering my 30’s and I the standards I set at age 14, or at
took up golf, getting a 6 handicap least maybe 12 or 13 years old. I
jumped 6.01m on my 15th birthday
and it would be great to one day
get back to this level. The ageing
process clearly mitigates against
returning to former glory, but you
never know – watch this space…
If I do achieve one of these age
records, I’ll let you know. In the
meantime, enjoy your athletics,
whatever age you are.



The London Running Diary of Sven Fartlek, visiting Scandinavian athlete


SVEN Hallå! (Hello!) What a summer. It was a bit confusing beginning to lose patience with me by now, so I
FARTLEK to begin with, and then became more so. Sometimes apologised and said that we Swedes like to get to the
coach doesn’t use his spellcheck, and when I got point and don’t Gå som katten kring het gröt, or ‘walk
the email telling me it was time for ‘track runing’, I like a cat around hot porridge.’
got excited and thought we were going to hunt for
ancient signs carved into stones by your country’s Now coach is looking at me like I am
early Norse settlers. But it turned out that instead Skogstokig, or ‘forest crazy’, but the cat expression
of going on long, wild runs in vast landscapes, is just our way of saying that we don’t ‘beat around
searching for the traces of my ancestors, it meant I the bush.’ Speaking of forests and bushes, I
had to run round and round and round a small red am looking forward to your ‘running across the
geometric track with white lines while coach clicked country season’ again, it is much more natural.
a watch. Apparently it’s meant to make you run After all the going round and round and round I
faster, but it just made me dizzy. really need to Dra at skogen, literally of course,
and not in that other sense for its meaning of ‘go
Coach and I had another little misunderstanding. to the woods’ that we have at home, which is quite
Perhaps you don’t know, but in Sweden we don’t rude in fact, and not the sort of thing you should
tell people to ‘chill’, we say ‘Tagga ned’, roughly ever say to your coach. If you said that to coach,
translated this means ‘bring your spikes down.’ So, it would be a case of Du har satt din sista potatis
when coach told me to bring my spikes down for a (‘you have cropped your last potato,’ or ‘no more
race he looked confused when I laid down by the from you!’). That would be a disaster as then I
track and closed my eyes. He looked even more might have to leave, and whoever would want to
confused when we realised our mistake and I said leave Herne Hill Harriers? In any case I cannot
to him ‘Ingen ko på isen’ or in English, that there leave, because min svävare är full med ålar (and
was ‘no cow on the ice.’ You see, this is how we say if you wish to know the meaning of this, you will
‘no worries’ in Sweden. I worried that coach was have to look it up). Smaklig måltid!




Herne Hill’s coaches pick their highlights of the field and track season


My two selected performances of the I am lucky to be a
2017 season actually came in the member of Herne
same race, a British Milers Club Gold Hill Harriers as a
Standard women’s 1500m race at Watford coach, fan and athlete
in June. The race was won by GB London 2017 in demise. I therefore have
World Championship team member Jess Judd, but only by 9 many highlights.
hundredths of a second from Herne Hill’s own Katie Snowden
who I still have some association with although no longer being As I am privileged to coach Alfred
her lead coach. Katie had been chasing the GB and England Mawdsley one highlight was seeing him
World and Commonwealth qualifying time of 4.07.50 and compete for our BAL team at the age
having travelled in vain to California, Belgium and Sweden she of 16 and perform confidently and with
then came back to Watford to smash the PB she had run in excellence to finish 3rd, despite being
Gothenburg by over 5.5 seconds, and so very nearly pipped the youngest competitor by over six
Judd on the line with her 4.05.29 HHH club women’s record. years. Alfred also got his 3rd medal at
English Schools.
Despite my elation on seeing Katie cross the line I held my
celebration for 13 seconds as Chloe Tighe was chasing down Another highlight was being coach
the home straight to finish her race in 4.18.32 to beat her own to Daniel Ryan, who is transitioning to
PB which she had set around a decade earlier as a junior in Senior athletics with a season of PBs
Australia. When winter training and racing had been going well and his 12th medal in the Irish Schools.
around Christmas time we had targeted a time of sub 4.20 He competed with his brother David
for the summer, but this had then seemed a far less likely for the first time in a HHH vest. Also,
proposition after Chloe had to miss at least 8 weeks of training as a fan, being present at the Schools
between mid-January and mid-March through injury. We kept International to witness three HHH
the faith, however and this excellent run was one of a series of compete for England in Dublin stood
very fine races in June and July. out, and being part of the crowd and/or
a fill in member of the newly promoted
I must of course add that as a coach all performances where Men’s British League Team.
my athletes have given their best and especially where they
have run faster than ever before have given great satisfaction Red&Black wishes Garry a good
and as a team manager I especially enjoy seeing well executed recovery following his sport’s accident in
performances that may maximize points scored under the the summer.
particular circumstances. Although I have nominated two
females and there have been a good number of other very
pleasing efforts, some of our men have also given me plenty to
smile about, such as in the Ladywell 10,000m races.



LES JOHNSON Marvin Popoola also did well in his first year
returning to competition from receiving an injury
This year was another great during an international competition representing
success for HHH athletes in our England. Faith Price, Natasha Alfred and
squad, which set out to build on Olivia Sinclair all did well in developing their
last year’s success when we won biomechanics and spending time in the gym to
three gold medal winners at the English build strength, balance and coordination skills for
Schools Championships and a host of regional the coming year.
medals and international vests. A key goal for
the squad has been to help our athletes achieve Ore Adamson has been pretty much number
their academic as well as the athletic goals. After 1 in the UK for the past four years and is moving
spectacular athletic wins this year, Michael Miller from strength to strength. So it’s been another
and Lakeisha Owusa-Junior have been accepted great year and many in the squad are moving on
at Oaklands Athletics College and will be training to bigger and better things.
full time next year. Many of our squad have
progressed to sports related university education “As a coach all performances
such as Marvin Popoola, Michaela Obijiaka, where my athletes have
Kassa Sealy and others. given their best have given
great satisfaction.”
Max Modelli joined us from Harvard for a
semester and after intense training eased Geoff Jerwood
through a series of senior 200m and went on to
win Surrey outdoor and significant competitions
at Crystal Palace, Bedford and National Champs,
and GB Trials in Birmingham. He was fractions
away from qualifying for the Swiss National team.

Coach Les Johnson with his happy athletes




Men’s veteran Track & Field For me highlights were
highlights this year certainly Glen Keegan, leading by
include the ‘blooding’ of new example, revelling in the
recruits (M55) Dion Panambalana, speed work and running
(M40) Raj Paramandi and (M35) Farhat faster than he has in the last 8 to
Khan. What we need is more recruits with more 10 years, including a number of PBs on the track.
range in our track and field abilities to better Then there are large numbers now turning out to
cover throws, jumps and sprints. So we were represent the club on the track from our group,
also grateful to welcome back Chris Carden (now and the aggressive attitude in training reflecting
M60) but a previous club senior T&F captain. the needs of racing.
More specialists required and with a winter’s
training these athletes will be welcome additions. STEVE BOSELY

Talking of throws, a significant season’s My highlights of the
highlight was an individual silver medal at the summer were seeing
European Veterans 2017 championships for Katie Snowden make a
Stuart Thurgood throwing 51-58metres in the big breakthrough by winning
M40 Hammer. (The downside for all the club her first GB senior vest, competing in the
T&F teams is Stuart has just taken up a new Anniversary Games and Birmingham Grand
post working in Jersey.) Stuart now holds both Prix, running new club records at 800m and
HHH M40 Shot Put and Hammer records 1500m and just missing out on selection for the
standing at 12-87m and 51-58m respectively. Great Britain team for the World Championships.
The shot record being achieved at Perivale this I remember first meeting Katie one Sunday
year. We will miss him and thank Stuart for his morning at Tooting Bec track as she was
commitment and efforts! ) preparing with her mum for the mini marathon,
before progressing through all the age groups to
Continuing with the EuroVets 2017, Simon National and now international level. Over ten
Coombes came home with two bronze medals in years later she is on the verge of world class.
the M45 1500m and 5000m won in wet blustery Also, having such a large number, 28 athletes,
conditions. Whilst Tony Macdowall got in on from the club selected for the English Schools
the booty to take bronze and 3rd in the M35 championships was very exciting and, as well as
steeplechase. the medal winners, for each athlete to be chosen
and experience English Schools was testament
Nearer to home, not only did our ever to the coaches and athletes in the Club.
young gentleman Allan Long win three Vets
AC championship titles on the same day, but
Allan also recorded three Championship Best
Performances all on the same day. The 75 year
old recorded 100m in 14-96 seconds, Long
Jump 3-88m and Triple Jump 8-34m to take
home his 3 golds and missing a British record by
17 cm in his last event the Triple Jump.

Keep fit, keep enjoying and target competition



Around the World in

80 runs
How I didn’t finish the Seychelles
Half Marathon staged in my honour…

Simon Messenger explains why he dropped
the Table Tennis paddle for the proper sport of running

Why do I run? Or, more to our beloved egotistical relief to be able to fulfil my competitive Simon
editor Andrew’s point, why do I spend streak in a more regular way! Messenger
my money travelling around the world caught in a
running arbitrary distances? Around then, I was travelling a lot for work too. rare moment
While colleagues were spending their evenings standing still
It has only been 4 years since I bought my first locked up in their hotel rooms, I was out and
‘proper’ pair of running shoes. Back then, I had about discovering far flung corners of cities all the
just come back from a few weeks in the US and, way from Baku (Azerbaijan) to Gulu (Uganda) to
the American diet being what it is, let’s just say I the equally exotic Brussels.
had a few kilos to shed. Three months and 15kg
later, I was in shape and hooked (and hungry). It gave me a flavour for things to come and
set in motion my ‘Around the world in 80 runs’
At the same time, I wanted to compete in a challenge: part running-diary, part motivation
more ‘popular’ sport – unbelievable as it may
seem on a miserable winter morning in south
London ahead of a cross-country race, running
is mainstream. After 20 years or so of playing
Table Tennis and Korfball and getting all the way
to competing at European Championships but
still having to explain that “Yes, Table Tennis IS a
sport” (don’t get me started on Korfball), it was an



tool to keep things interesting, it’s an adventure – reported it as an “upset tummy” which made me
extremely – loosely based on Jules Verne’s book feel pretty pathetic.
which sees me combine my love for running
with my love for discovering the world. And, with My magnetic shorts
that, on a very wet and miserable train journey
on my weekly Edinburgh-London commute, More recently, I was running around Almaty in was born in 2013. Kazakhstan. A small group of young teenagers
were amused by my shorts – it was -5C – and
I’ve been very lucky in that various jobs have turned into total paparazzi as I ran by. When I
required a lot of international travel, so I’ve been passed them again later on, they started chasing
able to do many of the 80 runs on the way. Other me. Most dropped out, but one kept going.
trips and races, though, had to be rather more When it looked like he was about to pass out,
planned. I magnanimously stopped for him. The rest of
his class eventually caught up, and one of them
Before our honeymoon to the Seychelles spoke enough English to tell her buddies the
(cliché), I had emailed to a local running exciting news: I was “Simon, from London.”
committee to see if anyone wanted to accompany Twenty selfies and a politely declined request to
me for a long run around some of the island (less hand over my Facebook details later, our top-
cliché). I was a little blown away when I turned end diplomatic and cultural exchange ended
up at the crack of dawn one morning to find out and I awkwardly set off. By then, I knew that
they’d organised an official half-marathon for a) running b) in shorts c) in February d) as a
me, complete with a dozen volunteers, medals, a foreigner turns you into a (very minor) teenage
motorcade and closed roads. All for five runners. celebrity in Kazakhstan. Then again, as I left, they
started squealing with delight at the sight of a little
As if I were not embarrassed enough, I was also squirrel in the bushes.
suffering from, erm, “severe food poisoning” and, Another highlight was without doubt organizing
for the first and only time, I ended up having to the first ever half marathon on the mysterious
pull out halfway through. The local newspaper


Principality of Sealand, a tiny fortress 10 miles off The stationary offshore marathon
the coast of Essex.
enthralling countries like Cuba or stunning yet
As their first visitors in 2 years, getting there was a precarious ones like Madagascar, achieving my
mission and a half, as was winching both ourselves first and only podium in the Faroe Islands (though
and the treadmill onto the 50m high platform. Yes, I do consider my Tooting parkrun win this year as
treadmill: the fortress is barely the size of a tennis being equally glorious), chasing elite runners up a
court and I certainly wasn’t risking falling off it. With volcano in Ethiopia, being caught up in a manhunt
only 8 hours to get on and off the fortress to avoid in Corsica, playing chicken with hypothermia in
getting stuck at sea for the next week due to bad eastern Kazakhstan, racing a train in Wales or taking
weather, I sped my way through to my first ever in millennia of history in places like Istanbul. I’ve also
‘national’ record with film crew, reporter, stamped gained the chance to write articles for the Guardian
passport and sponsors in tow! and running magazines and have enjoyed gradually
chipping away at my times: in fact, I’ve almost halved
Why do all this? Well, why not? It was a bit of my marathon time!
harmless fun, a bit of an adventure and, in this
instance, a chance to visit somewhere full of history At the time of writing, I’m now 48 runs down, with
and pure barking madness on our doorstep hardly 32 to go. Without a doubt, what started as a way
anyone’s heard of, let alone been to. to keep track of my running and satisfy my ‘verbal
diarrhea’ (thank my parents for that image) has kept
On the way, I’ve been challenged by some of life’s me going and made the mundane less mundane. At
normal issues (finding time and money) and some the start, only Pippa and my Mum read my website.
less common ones: broken ribs (tip: don’t run into Now, I think my Dad reads it too. Fame, eh. Bored?
scaffolding), severe allergic reactions, ‘gravelly’ Check out for more.
hamstrings (medical term), broken time chips, and
trying to find convincing arguments for Pippa that
yes, I am truly worth the effort of standing in the
Scottish blizzard for two hours to watch running by.

Other highlights include running around culturally



As part of a special feature on one
of Herne Hill’s top athletes, Red &
Black asks Katie Snowden about
the journey so far and, below, her
former coach, Geoff Jerwood puts her
achievements in context





R&B W hat was your earliest impression of the club? “Don’t be tempted to over-
KS  I first went down to the Tooting track
  with a friend from school but quickly got to train as a junior because the

know others in the club. When I met James benefits are short-lived.”
McDonald, who coached the junior middle
distance group, I immediately felt I was being I also appreciate more the importance
looked after as a young person as well as just of other aspects of my training, such as
being an athlete. He took interest in my school nutrition and recovery, so I have focussed
work and the other sports I was doing at the closely on improving my approach to both.
time. He was very encouraging and put a lot of Being surrounded by world class athletes at
time and effort into his group. Loughborough has been inspiring and enabled
me to see first-hand the sacrifice it requires to
R&B W hat did you enjoy most about your early compete successfully at the highest level. So
running days at the club? while my athletics started as a social hobby it is
now a significant part of my life.
KS I loved meeting new people and training
alongside friends who I still see and run with R&B What advice would you give to your younger
today but wouldn’t have met had I not joined self knowing what you know now?
Herne Hill. The club always had a friendly
and welcoming atmosphere regardless of your KS Be patient, believe in yourself and give
running ability so I enjoyed being part of that yourself credit as you’re doing better than
community. James’ group went to Richmond you think. Be prepared for the mental and
Park every week for our Sunday long runs and physical obstacles that you will face as no
Streatham Common throughout the winter for path to success is a smooth upward trajectory.
sessions, which were a welcome change from Don’t be tempted to over-train as a junior
Tooting track and the Common. The sessions because the benefits are short-lived.
on Streatham Common on cold, wet nights
were good for mental strength but definitely R&B W hat are you most looking forward to now in
the hardest part about it (as it remains to this athletics?
KS I’m looking forward to continuing to progress
R&B Has your attitude to running changed over the and hopefully fulfil my aim of representing
years? GB again after getting my first senior vest this
summer. I have also been lucky to have had
KS Yes. Throughout school I ran as it was the opportunity to go on altitude camps to
something I found I was good at and enjoyed, places such as Kenya and Arizona with British
whereas once I went to Nottingham University, Athletics, so I’m looking forward to continuing
although my degree was my priority and I to travel to new places both for training and
had a fun social life, I began to take athletics racing – and making lifelong friends and
more seriously. I commuted to Loughborough memories along the way. I’m very grateful
University in order to train with high quality for the ongoing support I have received from
athletes and make use of the first class Herne Hill since being a junior. I still really
facilities they have there. Since graduating enjoy training with the club when I am home
I have based myself predominantly in from Loughborough with the help of Geoff
Loughborough and running has become my Jerwood and members of his group, and I look
main focus. I have a better understanding of forward to representing the club in future.
the rationale behind my training programme
and I can help my coach plan effectively.


Up the hill, from peak to peak

Geoff Jerwood describes the rise and rise of Katie Snowden, who joined the club as a
12 year old accomplished swimmer to become Herne Hill’s exceptional, international
middle distance athlete of the moment

One of this summer’s remarkable she began her season with a best time of 4.13.06.
breakthrough Herne Hill athletes was senior By June she had her own club senior women’s
women’s international, Katie Snowden. 1500m record by nearly eight seconds, to a superb
Firstly, Katie brought her 800m personal best 4.05.29. For good measure Katie also set a club
time from 2.01.77 down to 2.00.92, knocking women’s record for one mile of 4.25.89, and ran a
on the door of sub 2 minutes, in what had been 3km road race in 9.16, a time which is substantially
until 2016 her main event. An even more startling quicker than the official fastest 3000m time
improvement, however, was the 1500m, in which clocked by a Herne Hill woman on the track.

However, Katie is no overnight sensation, and C
progress since first joining Herne Hill as a 12 year p
old in 2006 hasn’t always been smooth and linear.
But she has moved determinedly and inexorably
forward, patiently turning her status as a young
teenage star athlete into senior international
success at the highest level. Although just missing
selection for the Great Britain team for the London
2017 World Championship, Katie was right in
the mix. She was chosen for the GB team for the
prestigious European Team Championship at 800m
in Lille, and aims to continue to be prominent in the
shake up for England and GB international teams
from now on.

Katie arrived at HHH as an already
accomplished swimmer who turned out to
have a talent for running. Indeed like many
talented young athletes, Katie was also at a very
good level in some other sports, netball being
one of these. My first recollection of Katie in a
race result was at the South of England Cross
Championship at Bicton Park in Devon in 2006
and, although I didn’t see her race I noted a
top ten (ninth) finish in an area championship.
This was before the James McDonald led HHH
young athletes middle distance revolution in the
ensuing years. Katie was one of the catalysts of
that shift, as a top member of James’s training
group, both in terms of her outstanding ability
and – equally important – her example to other



group members in terms of her dedication, and slowed her progress over the next year or
application and attitude towards her training. two, with only an England U20 vest to show
when winning the 800m at the Welsh Athletics
At the age of 14 Katie demonstrated an International in 2013 in Cardiff. One or two other
exceptional talent when she ran one of the untimely summer illnesses adversely affected her
fastest ever UK girls’ age category times for bids to qualify for national teams, including 2016
400m, with an outstanding 56.4 at a Herne Hill after she had captured the England under 23
club open meeting in Tooting in 2008. Katie was 800m title in 2015, and placed sixth in the final
by now winning 800m medals and titles in the of the European U23 Championship in Tallinn.
under 15 age group and setting club and Surrey
county records, a trend which continued strongly Moving on from James McDonald’s excellent
into her running in the under 17 age group. Her coaching in 2011, Katie was coached by myself
domestic achievements included multiple Surrey during her transition between school sixth form
and Southern gold medals, topped off by an and her freshers’ year at Nottingham University.
English Schools Championship Intermediate Girls Then, while studying towards what was to be a
800m win in 2009 to add to at least one other good Geography degree, her training programme
year on the English Schools medals podium. was very well looked after by Alasdair Donaldson
from 2013 until the summer of 2016. During her
While still an under 17 Katie was already also final two years at university, Katie demonstrated
claiming big wins in the under 20 age group, her commitment to succeed, in being prepared
most notably a gold medal in the England U20 to drive from Nottingham to Loughborough
women’s 400m in 2010, and even a major several times a week to train with Alasdair’s
senior women’s 800m title in the CAU UK Inter- group. Loughborough with its excellent facilities
counties Championship in 2011. With domestic and quality training partners has been Katie’s
success came international team selection in the main training base since she graduated in 2015.
European Youth Olympics Trials in Moscow in
2010 and then the World Youth Championship in For just over a year to date Katie’s lead coach
Lille in France (placing seventh in the final) and has been Rob Denmark, who should take
the Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of much credit for her year-on-year improvement
Man, both in 2011, and with a gold medal victory at 1500m in 2017, as well as continuing to
for Katie in the latter. maintain and improve her 800m speed base.
A training group that includes other women
But as with many top ranked under 17 and who achieved or were, like Katie, close to World
under 20 athletes over a number of decades, Championship team selection, should help keep
Katie’s transition towards becoming a top senior focus and quality in everyday training, with the
athlete has seen some setbacks. Glandular fever faster, speed-based women complementing
ruined her final schools track season in 2012,

“The road – trail, track and hill
climb – to success is a long one, and
Katie has already come a long way.”


the stronger, more endurance-based runners A medal and Travelling to races to either represent top teams
in the different types of sessions the athletes suspiciously or to seek qualifying times for big events has
undertake. unnatural been an increasing feature of Katie’s years in the
flowers reward sport. International representation in Moscow,
Katie’s successes at some of these big another Lille, Douglas on the Isle of Man and in Tallinn,
events came during important school years. successful run have combined with the more regular circuit of
Competition for her country in Moscow while for Katie Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Watford,
working toward her GCSE exams can be seen as for high quality domestic races, and also treks to
a demonstration to our current young members Ireland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic Belgium,
that revising, hard training and successful Sweden and even California. The latter was at
racing can all go hand in hand. To emphasise the end of the most recent of Katie’s globetrotting
that such a combination is more than possible, training group camps at altitude, which have
one of Katie’s breakthrough PBs prior to this seen her take in the delights of Font Romeu in
year was a win in a BMC Grand Prix 800m at France – a favourite of Paula Racliffe, Iten in
Sportcity in Manchester, that was achieved in the Kenya and Flagstaff in the USA, all in the pursuit
middle of her university degree final exams, an of athletic excellence.
inspirational example to those who are soon to sit
their next exams while also trying to achieve their The road – trail, track and hill climb – to
own sporting goals. success is inevitably a long one, on which Katie
has already come a long way. Her example in
having doggedly reached such a point despite
facing setbacks, disappointments and more
than her fair share of bad luck, may offer
encouragement to those who come up against
their own obstacles as they strive to be the best
they can be.

There is still a long way to go, but Katie can
draw encouragement not only from being right in
the selection mix for major international teams,
but also from her invitations this summer to
major televised events. She set her Herne Hill
club women’s mile record, for example, on the
London Olympic track in the Anniversary Games
(with her own “supporters club” from among
her club mates and Tooting training group) and
was also invited to race in the Diamond League
meeting in Birmingham at which Sir Mo Farah
made his final racing appearance on a British
track, and in the Great North Games on the
roads of Newcastle the day before the Great
North Run.

All of which should see Katie ready to
begin another hard winter of training with
real optimism. Herne Hill Harriers wishes her
the very best of luck and that she will go on,
up the hill, to even bigger and better things
in our sport.



Growing up

a Herne Hill Harrier

Julia Wedmore writes on why she will run if you blow a whistle

Having tried out a couple of athletics clubs However, I soon realised I was now twice the
after I started running at school, a fellow height of some of the other group members and
pupil told me about a coaching legend at so I graduated to training with the seniors and

a local club and suggested I give his group a go. started being coached by another club great,

That legend was James McDonald and the club Stan Allen. His no-nonsense approach provided

was Herne Hill Harriers. I remember his sessions consistency, as I kept moving between London

including: long runs around Richmond Park in the and university. “It’s Tuesday. It’s Tooting.” he used

pouring rain with a pause in the middle to do what to announce every week before we launched

felt like vertical hill sprints; developing a Pavlovian into a classic session such as 10 x 400m with a

response that meant I would start running any 200m jog recovery. And on Thursdays there was

time I heard a whistle being blown; nothing like his brutal but effective 8

and, after watching Coach Carter “No walking please, x Covington Way hill session to build
on the way to a race, realising strength.

my coach’s motivational strategy no walking. After the sad passing of Stan,
was based entirely on Samuel L I moved coaches again to Mark

Jackson’s performance as a high Come on, push it! White and later Geoff Jerwood. My
school basketball coach. DRIVE!” running really took off after university;
having a long-term training plan and
His words, “No walking please, no

walking. Come on, push it! DRIVE!” being able to train week in week out

still ring in my ears when I’m doing with the same group made a huge

laps of Tooting Common. Being in James’ group difference. I’ve found moving between coaches

was hard work but it was always fun to come to has helped me get to know a lot of people in the

training because of the friendly faces that would club, meaning training is still always a pleasure

always be there. Plus I just loved running and (apart from that annoyingly painful running bit).

racing, so there was no question about which club I’m always proud to tell people how long I’ve

I was going to join first when I got to university. been at the club and always relieved that I can

When I arrived, I found a very different setup. To still fit in my original vest (they don’t embroider

my surprise there was no coach. The club captain them like they used to). Some of my fondest

planned and coached the sessions, which wasn’t memories and best friends come from the club,

ideal when he was doing them as well! But luckily some even from that very first group. So I look

I still had my trusty Herne Hill Harriers to come forward to writing the second half of this story in

back to during the holidays. ten years when I go from senior to vet!


With the Senior Women after
a Surrey League race

Winning the
3000m club
champs in


Me (second from right), Katie Snowden (third
from right), Hannah Edwards (fifth from right) –
all still running for the club!

Hannah and me watch Katie in the Diamond That
League Anniversary Games at embroidery!
the Olympic Stadium



My best race,
My worst race

CHRIS BUSAILEH, one of Herne Hill’s sharpest distance runners, contemplates
lessons learned from surprising himself for the worse and better…

My worst race group that came past. I just couldn’t though and
There are, unfortunately, many races I could after 2miles I was spent. Clearly something wasn’t
potentially choose as my worst. However, for right. In any other race I would have considered
several reasons the National 12 Stage Road dropping out but that just isn’t an option in a relay. I
Relay in April 2010 stands out. suffered round the rest of the leg, finishing 45th in
29.21; an embarrassing two minutes off my target
I came into the race in decent form. I had run and a woeful start for the team.
well in the Southern 12 Stage a few weeks earlier
and backed that up with a 31.07 10k (then a The rest of the season was a write off. I was
PB) at Eastleigh. I was feeling confident and felt desperate to bounce back and threw myself into
capable of running close to 27minutes. training. I continued to feel dreadful though and
consistently struggled with anything beyond an easy
Things began to unravel in the week leading run. After a couple more poor races I ended up taking
up-to the race. I was feeling unusually tired on all a full month off and missed the rest of the track season.
my easy runs and had to abandon the Tuesday
session. On the day itself I felt similarly bad during At the time I was convinced I must have a
the warm up although I tried to put that aside, virus or deficiency, despite blood tests showing
telling myself that once the gun goes it will be fine. nothing. With hindsight I am certain it was simply
overtraining. I wasn’t doing any more than I had
It wasn’t. Those who have run at Sutton Park done previously so didn’t believe I was over-
will know that after a fast opening couple of doing it. The lesson I learned is the importance
hundred metres, the rest of the first kilometre is of listening to your body. It can be tempting to
up-hill. The trick, particularly on leg 1, is to ignore press on in the hope that things will turn around
the frantic early pace and hold enough back so but this is rarely the answer. Recognising the
that once you crest the hill you can push on. (sometimes subtle) difference between acute
tiredness after a hard run and longer-term fatigue
Despite feeling terrible I was well placed to do over a sustained period is key. A few days off isn’t
this. Unfortunately, when I tried to pass runners going to end a season. Continuing to hammer
after the hill my legs would not respond. I felt when your body is not recovering will.
completely flat and began to fall back. I kept trying
to rally, to back off a little then latch on to the next


Hills, mud and other clubs, Chris Busaileh
takes on all-comers for Herne Hill

My best race over 20 seconds. Through 6 and 7k I continued
Few races come close, either in terms of to feel so comfortable that, despite running far
absolute performance or in how I felt on the day, quicker than I ever had, I considered pushing on
to the Chichester 10k in February 2011. to try and catch the two runners who had broken
clear. I thought better of it though – reasoning that
After a good winter’s training together with the last 3k would be directly into a headwind.
some solid cross-country races I entered the
race hoping to run a quick time, albeit without Given the wind, the pace inevitably slowed
a specific target. The week leading up to the and by 9k I calculated that I was on course for
race didn’t go well. A series of hard sessions and around 30.30. The last k is downhill though and
tough races in January had taken their toll and I focussed on the battle for third place. Although
after a shocking run at the Southern XC the week I lost out – eventually finishing 5th but only 1
before I took 3 days off completely, not wanting second from 2nd place – we had run the last k
to repeat previous mistakes. well under 3 minutes meaning I crossed the line
in 30.17.
The day before the race I did an easy 30
minutes plus strides. I still didn’t feel great and In terms of pure performance it is probably
was resigned to not running well. So much still my strongest run, although my 5,000 and
so that I spent the afternoon in the pub and half marathon times are almost equivalent. What
only decided to travel down at all because my makes the race special is that it represented
flatmate convinced me that I should at least give a significant breakthrough and altered what I
it a go. The strong winds and grey drizzly weather thought I was capable of. Until Chichester, my
that I awoke to on race-day hardly improved my main aim was to break 15 minutes for a 5k. I
mindset. genuinely didn’t believe I could run close to that
pace for double the distance. That, to me, is the
Any negative thoughts disappeared soon after beauty of running. No matter how talented you
the race started. I was feeling good and settled think you are and what you consider your ceiling
in the lead group. I was vaguely aware that I was is, if you can consistently train hard you will
running quickly but could scarcely believe my almost certainly surprise yourself.
watch as I passed through 5k in 15.05 – a ‘pb’ by


The quick step

How to run better with a spring in your step and a metronome in your pocket:
Mark White’s year of high-tech running research reveals some simple
lessons with unexpected benefits…

What have I learned of what is really going on. Here’s an fast as Usain Bolt I would need to
from a year studying example which offers a new way to make my legs 4.5 times stronger!
sports biomechanics at think about training. When running on softer surfaces
Loughborough University before like grass the body stiffens the
heading to Swansea to begin my I have been impressed by the leg whereas on hard surfaces
doctorate? A lot, but not as much as simplicity of a conceptual model like tarmac the body adjusts the
you might think would be relevant that compares the leg to a spring leg spring to make it softer. In
to running and coaching. But it which, with some deft mathematical other words, it continually adjusts
has given me a greater depth and footwork, provides some neat the spring characteristics for the
breadth of knowledge which helps explanations of what makes us environment. Maybe that is why
to think about running in new ways. run more or less efficiently. When cross country running is so good
we run our heads bob up and because to run on such boggy
As runners we learn empirically, down with each stride. When one ground you need much stronger
by doing, what seems to work foot strikes the ground our knees legs.
and what doesn’t. We draw on bend as the leg absorbs our weight
the advice of others who are and our centre of gravity moves 180 strides
more experienced, and from downward. Then as we push off
reading books and articles to with that leg, the knee straightens If you find that you have a low
form a more complete picture. and our centre of gravity moves cadence or stride rate – 180 strides
But understanding the science upward. Our leg is a like a spring, per minute seems to be the ideal
behind what we do helps build compressing and recoiling. based on what good runners tend to
the foundations of knowledge and Incidentally, what distinguishes do, although Mo Farah is a notable
enables us better to interpret what walking from running is that with exception – you are probably
we see and feel as we continue to each foot strike our centre of gravity spending too much time screwed
learn more about ourselves. moves up not down. A race walker to the ground, which is costing you
needs flexible hips to drop the energy. One neat study showed that
The study of biomechanics as a opposite hip in order to minimise metabolic energy costs are greater
science is inevitably constrained by their upward movement and the longer you are on the ground,
what can be measured, and that maximise efficiency. and it also explained why everybody
usually makes its findings limited has much the same stride rate
and harder to generalise from. It is a simple idea which can across such a range of speeds
When you get down to the physics explain a lot. To run faster you and hence abilities. This applied
of say a standing jump, never need a stiffer leg spring otherwise to animals as well as bipedal
mind the running stride, things the leg can’t absorb the impact hominids!
get very complicated, very quickly. and collapses. For stiffness, read
Sometimes you need to see the strength. For one assignment I Another thing the leg spring
bigger picture to get a better sense worked out that if I were to run as model predicts correctly is that


increasing cadence (to reduce our “Our leg is a like a spring, compressing
energy costs) actually requires more and recoiling.”
spring stiffness, i.e. strength. So
having more leg strength – from such as 800m pace intervals. Your which can help you to maintain
running more miles or doing more legs have checked out and slowed cadence throughout. You just run in
plyometrics – is helpful in making to what they can manage but it is time with the beats. This works well
us more efficient. This can explain not working them in the same way in tempo runs and particularly in
why our cadence drops when we for longer enough and certainly fast repetitions where the tendency
get tired. Fatigue weakens the leg not conducive to developing speed to drop your cadence can seem
muscles to such an extent that endurance. overwhelming. With a metronome
they can no longer produce the you really have to focus to keep the
spring stiffness required to maintain Keep an eye on cadence cadence up – it makes the session
cadence, i.e. there is a minimum harder but of much better quality.
strength required. Alternatively, we Looked at another way, if you go I tried it myself two or three years
can slow down to lower the spring off too hard at the start and end up ago unaware of the theory because
stiffness requirement (you get slowing towards the end of the rep instinctively guessed that might be
points, if you spotted that’s based your leg muscles must have been the case. If I had known then what
on my Bolt example above.) unable to sustain the leg stiffness I know now I would have persisted
required and only worked at the as it seemed to be getting results
This has interesting implications required cadence for part of the but I lacked the courage of my
for training. If faster running time. This matters because strength convictions.
requires more leg spring stiffness, is speed specific. Generally, training
and so does higher cadence, then load is intensity multiplied by time. So there are plenty of reasons
if we work on both we will make If we cut short the time, the training to keep an eye on your cadence
our legs stronger. When we do an load is diminished and so the when you run and when you review
interval training session we run adaptation is reduced or nullified. your session on Garmin Connect
faster than normal and usually So here is a reason for running or Strava or elsewhere. And here
with a higher cadence and so this your intervals evenly, same pace is one more reason for you. Those
provides a training effect. Interval throughout each rep and in every who have higher cadence tend to
training is more than just about rep. Judge it right and work to your be the ones who get less injured.
pushing your aerobic system to the limit by the end. Charging off early Keeping the legs turning over
limit thereby inducing an adaptation on and slowing later only amounts quickly seems to subtly improve
to a greater aerobic capacity (or to less work done. other elements of good form. New
higher lactate tolerance) – it makes ways of thinking about training then
our legs stronger too. There is even a case for running lead to unexpected benefits.
with a handheld digital metronome
But here’s the thing. If we let
our cadence drop during the later
intervals as we get tired then we’re
giving our legs an easy way out.
They don’t have to maintain the
same level of leg spring stiffness
anymore and so they are not
experiencing the same training
load. Hence, the training effect is
truncated. This can even happen
over the course of the rep itself
especially at very high intensities



Examination time

Keith Newton and Steve Bosely report how Herne Hill youth hit the 2017 English
Schools Track and Field Championships

Reflecting Herne Hill’s middle Following a modest early pace, Alex real chance of winning it. We were
distance pedigree, 10 club was always well to the fore and, with helped by two faster athletes being
runners contested events at 600m to go, unleashed a sustained in the Bahamas, Ella McNiven
Birmingham, ranging from 800m burst for home. Going early requires opting for the 3000m and Emily
to 3000m. It said much for the the athlete to judge the pacing Williams for the 800m. A good
dedication of the athletes and their such that there is no let up over the friend’s coach came and found me
coaches who enthuse and guide them. final 200-300m, and that is exactly afterwards and said in every victory
what Alex did. Her final 600m there is always a fair amount of
Few other clubs enjoyed was around 1min40, resulting in a luck. This year it was my turn to be
such representation at the winning time of 4.31.87. In Alex’s the lucky one. I still cannot believe
Championships, where the stands own words: It was incredibly special that I actually won something.
looked a lot fuller than they were to finally win a 1500m gold after
the previous weekend for the two silvers. In previous years I had High grade
British trials for the world athletics to run as fast as I could and just
championships. Spectators, too, hope that the others fighting for Charlotte Alexander produced a
were greeted by some outstanding medals had less left than me. In courageous performance in the
performances from athletes who, those races, the winners were miles inter girls 3000m race, one of the
in some instances, will become and miles ahead so there was no races of the championship which
full GB internationals of the future. way I was racing for gold. This year was befitting as it contained the
Podium finishes and personal bests though it was tactical and there two fastest U17W for 3000m. Her
(pbs) are greeted with huge smiles, were many of us in the race with a objective was to make it as hard as
whilst others must contend with not possible for others in the race, and
getting it right for the big occasion.
All learn from the experience, and Ore Adamson with her coach dons an England vest
memories live forever with these
young athletes forever.

Schools’ rout

Three of the Club’s ten athletes
secured superb podium finishes,
Alex Brown, Charlotte Alexander
and Mollie O’Sullivan. In the inter
girls 1500m, Alex moved through
the heats comfortably and looked
to be in a strong position for
Saturday’s final, in an event where
she had secured silvers in each of
the previous two Championships.


Charlotte churned out 75 second Khahisa won in 2.04.40, a UK lead finished in 4th, another outstanding
laps in the early stages, which U20 time, not bad for a first year in performance for a bottom of age
meant that the lead group whittled the age group! Emily Thompson ran athlete and repeating her 4.35 of
down to a handful of runners. a pb of 2.06.71 in 2nd, and Mollie the previous day, whilst Eva gained
Some who tried to go with this pace took the bronze medal with 2.08.55. invaluable experience in her biggest
paid a significant price in the latter track race yet.
stages. Ella McNiven (pbs of 4.15 Zoe Tompkins also contested
and 9,24, which place her 5th and the senior girls 800m, her debut Katie’s story
12th on the UK all time respectively, at the English Schools track and
whilst bottom of age) tracked field championships, and gained There are times when events outside
Charlotte throughout the first five valuable experience finishing 6th in athletics place extra strains and
laps, in this war of attrition. Within her heat. Ella Newton was the one pressures on us all as individuals.
the final 800m, Charlotte opened a other HHH athlete in this age group We respond in our own way, and
small gap and it looked as though and, although disappointed to be often use our sport as a natural
she may have broken Ella, but the eliminated from the 1500m heats, outlet to help us cope with the
latter was able to gather herself on will also have benefitted from further challenges we face. A good number
the final lap and surge past Charlotte exposure to championship racing. of the athletes mentioned above
to win in 9.29.76 from Charlotte’s will have been juggling GCSE and
9.34.05. These were the second and Early movers other examination pressures with
third quickest ever times in the IG their aim to qualify for, and then
3000m in these championships. The Club’s youngest middle compete at, the English Schools.
distance athletes were all bottom Katie Balme, who contested her
Olivia Stillman produced a of age in the boys and girls 1500m first English Schools Track and Field
perfectly judged race, benefitting events. Jaden Kennedy was the Championships, inter girls 1500m
from her excellent pacing which sole male representative in the s/c, is one such athlete.
enabled her to capitalise on some middle distances from the Club,
of the casualties from the fast early and produced an excellent run With her support I tell her story
pace at the front end. Producing a in his heat. Jaden just made as it is an inspiration to all of us.
10 second pb, when it mattered, qualification with a 4.22.1 pb going Anyone who has met Katie will
Olivia worked through the field to into the championships, and would consider her one of the cheeriest
finish in an excellent 10th place, therefore have been one of the and most positive individuals they
10.01.30. lower ranked athletes on times. have met. It has been a delight
He is though, as we know, a great to have her in my steeplechase
Mollie O’Sullivan has made racer and, as so often before, was sessions, and I know her fellow
significant progress over the last able to produce a big pb on the big clubmates (including my own two
year, adding a steeliness to her occasion. Running 4.16.43, Jaden daughters) who train and compete
racing which builds on her obvious finished 9th in his heat. with Katie really love to have her
natural talent. Moving nicely around. I was talking to a couple of
through the heats in a comfortable In the junior girls, Maisie and Eva senior athletes at our most recent
second place in the senior girls Holland both did very well to make open, where Katie had been helping
800m, Mollie’s tactics in the final the final, in their first championship. with the tea/cake stall, and they
made it clear she would give Maisie ran a big pb to qualify in described her as a ‘most delightful
everything to secure a medal. At 4.35.38, a 12 second improvement young lady’.
the front, Khahisa Mhlanga, who on her pb from 2016, whilst Eva
was subsequently to become finished a very good 5th in her Over the last year Katie has dealt
European U20 800m champion, set heat. In the final, Maisie ran an with the challenge of her father
a ferocious pace, in what turned out assured race, sitting off the fast being diagnosed with a terminal
to be another very high quality event. early pace and gradually picking off illness. Having secured top grades
athletes as the race went on. Maisie in GCSEs taken one year early, Katie



has maintained a commitment to In the field Ore Adamson England vest for long jump when
her school work and athletics, whilst continued her superb record in she competed in the u20 Welsh
coping with the huge personal English Schools championships by International. What is remarkable is
challenge that such an illness winning her second title with 5.88m that she is only 15 years old.
presents. Sadly, her father passed in an exciting competition which
during early summer as GCSEs were went right to the final jump, winning Her coach Les Johnson says,
underway, and Katie, supported by one centimetre. Alfred Mawdsley “She is an athletic phenomenon
by her mother, maintained her is another athlete with a fine English and a joy to work with.” Ore
commitment and dignity throughout Schools record and he won a bronze was disappointed not to get a
this most difficult time. medal in the inter boys discus with Commonwealth Youth Games
46.68m. Both Ore and Alfred were place although she exceeded the
Those who were not aware noticed competing in the inter girls and boys qualifying standard. And, on the
no change to Katie’s positive outlook, age group for the first time and are basis of her current personal best,
and it is to her great credit that Katie eligible to compete in the same age she could have been on the podium
was able to secure an English Schools group next summer. in the Bahamas.
qualifying time at the beginning of
June. Katie then produced a season’s Conversely Andre Parker won the Ore talks about the importance
best at the English Schools, 5.17.34, shot in the junior boys in his first of the relationship an athlete has
to finish 7th. It was not where she experience at this level with a new with her coach. “We have been
hoped to finish, as, despite an personal best throw of 13.93m. together for years and make a great
extremely challenging lead in Katie Andre also plays basketball to a team. He knows his stuff but also
entered the race in the hope that she high level and only competed at the delivers results and is great to work
may get close to a podium finish. This London Schools championships & with. We are clear what we want to
is typical of Katie’s resilience in a time a YDL match prior to winning the achieve and how to go about it.
of adversity, and is an inspiration to major championships in the country He pushes me a lot and we
us all. are pleased with what we have
We also had several fourth places achieved. It’s been a great year
Keith Newton notably Monae Winston in the junior but a lot of very hard work. I am
girls 100m in 12.29, just 0.05 away very humbled and grateful for the
Faster, further… from a medal and Cara Russell in success.”
the junior girls 200m in a PB of
Sprinters and field athletes took 25.11 and Lakiesha Owusu-Junior After competing for England
Herne Hill’s total representation to was seventh in the inter girls 100m in Wales, the following weekend
28 young athletes selected for the final in 12.37. Ore represented England in
English Schools championships, Ireland where she got a gold
our largest contingent ever and Whatever the athletes’ medal and new pb of 6.00m. Two
one of the largest from any club in performances reaching the highest internationals in a week was quite
the country. For this credit must go level competition in the country something. “With a pb of 6.00m
to all of the athletes, coaches and is a superb achievement and the at 15 years old, without yet really
parents in the Club. experience will hopefully inspire stretching herself, she has lots of
our athletes to train hard this time to learn her craft and take her
Amongst the sprinters in the winter ready for next summer’s place on the world stage,” says
senior girls Kristel Awuah confirmed championships. Johnson, “Is the Olympics possible
her status as the top female junior for Ore? She has a very supportive
sprinter in the country by adding the Steve Bosely family and her academic work
senior girls 100m title to her National is important to her, but with her
U20 women’s championships title Ore’s leap rigorous training programme she
won two weeks before, winning the aims to stay healthy, have fun and
final in 11.65, just outside her PB. Herne Hill Harriers athlete Ore says “we’ll see what happens.”
Adamson recently received her first




Sarah Allen goes retro on I always ate a tin of rice pudding before
athletic food fads, and races, it did me no harm, apart from feeling
says it’s time for old- very sick when running quickly, but it was real
fashioned nosh to make energy food.
a comeback. Read on to
see if you could handle And, another thing, can it be natural to
the side effects and replace sweat... there’s a reason it pours out
whether you think your the way it does. I drink a carton of orange juice
stomach could take it… just before each race and do not touch anything
during as, it seems to me, it would appear to be
IReally Like Food. cheating. Racing is one person against another,
But, I do not like all these gels we are not against the sports’ drinks cabinet. Mind you,
supposed to take, they’re just an excuse for I do have an going problem with cramp.
fat cats to make profits from runners.
Why do we need all this pre-race diet? It is a
My mum knows, and always has known what load of rubbish, there is nothing like having a
is best for me. If I went on a long run in the good old bacon sandwich in your tummy before
evening she used to steam my dinner over a a hard race. Once when my mum was out and I
saucepan of boiling water. It would be piping needed fuel for a race and reached for a can of
hot when I arrived home, mushy potatoes, hot beans, ‘Would anyone like some beans...?’
meat and lovely gravy dried into a delicious
brown cobweb over the entire plate. Proper ➤ Let us know what gets your goat for future issues.
runners’ food.
“It did me no harm, apart
from feeling very sick.”



Valdis ‘Waldy’ Pauzers, writes about the untiring team ethic and determination of the
club’s Veterans that delivers year after year

What makes a team, a needs of daily life. Everywhere, each Herne Hill makes it to the Veterans’ track and
squad? Individuals. But, single individual counts. Random, field final at Ashford, where Waldy Pauzers
what makes a successful isolated cogs do little. Put them demonstrates the art of the squat
team and squad? Loyal individuals together (correctly) and we have a
with a sense of belonging and a working co-ordinated machine. And own divisional championship. Our
common purpose. Another summer it applies to athletics. mid-London division contains two
athletics season is over, another more teams who would grace the
year of hopes, aspirations and The Southern Counties Veterans final as well as us. Each year, both
subsequent performances to reflect Athletic Club Track & Field Hillingdon and Serpentine aim to
upon and learn from. It’s the same League is the highest veterans’ usurp us and reach that final. So far
for athletes and coaches of all age club competition we can aspire they have not beaten us for over a
groups. to. It is no mean feat to reach the decade and thankfully in that time
competition final by winning your Herne Hill vets have triumphed in
Track and field athletics appears
to be individuals chasing their
own interests. But stand back,
see the wood not just the trees,
these competitions are the ultimate
in team sports. Every individual
counts, each has his or her role,
even the non-scorer. The individual
athlete can achieve a personal goal
but profit from a greater experience
within the context of a team result,
for a team that gives a sense of

This applies to all our club teams,
track & field, cross country, relays
or road, male, female, young or
old. It is the club’s aim to give a
sense of belonging, responsibility,
mutual respect, common goal and
friendship. Perhaps, our veterans
groups embrace and therefore
embody this commonality, loyalty
and trust more readily, happy to
grasp one of life’s more pleasant
duties as a diversion from the



the final on four separate occasions, Hillingdon failed to finish were we Throwers Thurgood, Nicola, Francis
too. We can thank previous team ensured an overall match win. and Austin kept those event
manager, Dave Wilson, for three of points consistently rolling in along
those wins. They are successes we Match 2 is the away day Monday with ever presents Tom Conlon
are proud of and aspire to return to. evening test, to define whether and Giuseppe Minetti. The final
we are really up to the task to win beckoned.
This year a fourth in the finals the division or not. By covering
was not our aim, no excuses. But every age group slot in all events, Ashford September 3rd. A solid
we are a team in transition, and the HHH victory was assured. team was selected and arrived in
some key athletes were injured Ably assisted by Simon Coombes’ good spirits. For a second year
or absence. We do need to pick double win in 800m/3000m and Southampton excelled in both
up event specialists to join our 74 year old Allan Long taking three numbers and quality, which comes
industriously enthusiastic team, and 2nd places at M60 in the 200m, from managerial diligence and a
welcome all newcomers with open Long and Triple Jumps! (with equal reservoir of athletes from decades
arms. We especially seek athletes thanks to his wife Marion, who of British League (and Hampshire)
for the jumps and the throws. Whilst drove Allan to the event from the athletes to choose from.
it’s not possible to compete at the South Coast.) The match sadly
top table of veterans team athletics brought Kwei Sankofa’s season to The HHH team worked hard and
by ‘making do’, I am more than an end, a man of many real talents competed with passion. Another
grateful for the many individuals from jumps and all three sprint completely raw recruit was exposed
who put team performance before distances. After a 1st and 2nd to the quality and excitement of
their own aspirations, and remain place, injuries overcame Kwei’s the final match-day competition.
ever willing to ‘give it a go for the season. We wish him a quick Sprinter Farhat Khan only joined
team and points’. Dave Adam, recovery and return. HHH the previous week, was
Tony MacDowall, Mo Ismail, Gary a little over-awed but shows so
Ironmonger, Kwei Sankofa and Match 3 was a return to much promise in sprints and team
Garth Francis spring to mind, Battersea, where we welcomed spirit and quickly settled in. He
taking on such tasks selflessly, as back Chris Carden ex-HHH T&F performed with focus and passion.
so many others are dutifully willing senior team captain, a great Exemplary efforts from all athletes
too. That commitment can suffice addition to our squad continuing on the day, what more can one ask?
in divisional competition but not at from where he left over two decades We did improve in almost every
the final. ago! Dion Panambalana joined event compared to last year and
us as a raw M50 sprinter/jumper. yet, the team came 4th on the day.
On the positive side, we won We shall see the best of both of A grand day out, a great team effort
four out of four divisional matches, them next year. Perversely, but from Match 1 to Final. But the end
though not without drama. noteworthy was the javelin where result still rankles.
Battersea and Match 1 brought M60’s Chris Carden, Nick Nicola
the usual club slow start, with and Garth Francis managed to But out of the embers of the old
the late arrivals and chaos which cover the M35, M50 and M60 age season the R&B phoenix will arise
leaves a team manager flustered. categories and still scored more next spring with passion and desire,
A Discus and Shot double win team points for the event than any with a hunger to be better prepared,
from Stuart Thurgood and Garry of the other seven competing clubs! more unified, more focused. To do
Power put us in good stead and So the three match wins virtually our best for the club, for our fellow
a sure match highlight. But only guaranteed the divisional title, job athletes. Age doesn’t blunt hope, or
when a ‘makeshift’ 4x400m team almost done. the aspirations to compete, and will
of Dan Hallam, Paul Marriott, Tony to win. Certainly not in our team.
MacDowall and Simon Thompson Perivale was the venue for Match Thanks to all who have competed,
came home with a win and 4, where M60 Mike Mann took adjudicated and supported
a 800m/3000m winning double. throughout the season.



Runners’ lives

This group of autobiographies reveal that all athletes have other lives. But as much
as they differ wildly in character, they also have certain things in common, such as
tenacity, single-mindedness and a habit of getting injured writes Andrew Simms

The Long Hard Road: Nearly To The Top by Ron Hill (1981)
Ovett: an Autobiography by Steve Ovett (1984)
From Last to First: a Long Distance Runner’s Journey from Failure to Success by Charlie Spedding (2011)
Paula: My Story So Far by Paula Radcliffe (2004)

He smoked. He drank. He ran barefoot, but it was unusually accommodating in Hill’s time
won marathons and set world records. when his employer provided him with a shower
Today you’ll probably know him more by room for after his run in to work and his lunchtime
the sports’ clothing brand that carries his name training. Hill uses the room to change, but not to
than his achievements in track, cross country shower, even stranger when by his own account
and road running. A restless, entrepreneurial at home he was often reduced to washing,
spirit touches everything Ron Hill does, from partially, in their tiny flat’s sink. Not only can you
the doctorate in chemistry that he put to use in almost smell the sweat in this account, you can
the textile industry, to the way that, depending hear and see a very different era. Hill has a poet’s
on what he and his wife, May, needed for eye for detail, he’s not just in a race, he’s in the
their cash-strapped home, he would tell race world, curious about the terrain that he’s running
organisers, in advance, what prize he would through, both physical and human. Echoing both
like as a reward for winning, mostly electrical Ovett and Radcliffe’s autobiographies, Hill arrives
appliances and kitchenware like a 1970s game at an extraordinary athletic place in which he
show. He may have made errors in his prodigious expects to be running world records. In all three
running career, and he confesses to them with a books it is almost normalised, presented as the
vulnerable, almost painful honesty, but Hill always logical conclusion of their training, so much so
knew how good he was. that you have to step back to realise how rare and
brief are these blooms of physical ability. Brief, not
The first volume of Hill’s autobiography, The just because of the inevitability of the passing of
Long Hard Road: Nearly To The Top, is as much an peak performance with time, but because, in all
inadvertent social history as a running book. As four accounts, injury is everywhere, sometimes
the latter it excels, providing in extraordinary detail dragging the runners back as if someone was
accounts of Hill’s training, prodigious racing, pulling your running vest from behind, and at
diet, his body’s response to all of the former, and other times brutally felling them in midstep.
even his personal hygiene or, at times, lack of it.
Showers in the workplace maybe common now, As the oldest of the four biographies, Hill’s also



“Ovett credits Herne Hill’s own David
Glassborow as an early inspiration.”

fascinatingly gives lie to the idea of linear progress an acutely insightful intelligence, linked to a
in the sport. That may be true in the sense of forthrightness and extravagant talent. He’s good
actual world records, but not in terms of general with words too. Entering a stadium, he describes
standards. The routine racing times churned out dejected athletes leaving and how you never
week after week by Hill and several of his running see the winners who ‘have been removed from
colleagues would still grace winning podiums the debris of their event.’ Living through the end
today. The same is true looking at Ovett and his of ‘shamateurism’, he fixes on why authorities
times in the early 1980s. It’s sobering to read resisted change for so long because, ‘amateurism
him pass-over as ordinary 3m34s in the 1500m, was an English way of life created to protect
when you look at Chris O’Hare’s 3m38s finish in gentlemen from the artisan. It was there to
the World Athletics Championship final in 2017. preserve the class distinctions of another century.’
Hill’s book, ridiculously, is out of print, and only
available as an expensive second hand book. I His alter ego, created by the media, was simply
can see why a publisher would balk at its length the consequence of Ovett’s decision that his job
and detail, but it’s hard not to think that in the age was to run, and not be a professional interviewee.
of print on demand, there’s not a market for it. On a rare occasion he was interviewed between
the 800m Olympic final in Moscow, 1980, in
Ovett’s late career self-assessment, however, which he beat Coe, and 1500m in which Coe
Ovett: an Autobiography, which credits Herne Hill’s beat him. Ovett comes across as thoughtful
own David Glassborow as an early inspiration, about the sport, respectful of his competitors,
is available for a few pence second hand. But grateful for the gift he has, aware of its inevitable
that doesn’t give it less value. Ovett at once transience, and sad that rather than just enjoy
demystifies himself from the media construct it, the press feel compelled to invent conflict.
of him, and deflates the confected rivalry In the whole book there is, in fact, only one line
between him and Sebastian Coe. The two only of dissent about Coe, in which Coe reveals a
ever met a handful of times, and Ovett, far from spiteful, ungracious streak. Ovett, like Charlie
the swaggering provocateur of legend, reveals Spedding, also has a quick, amusing wit. Where



Paula Radcliffe brings a kind intelligence to Ovett’s encounter with a railing) and you marvel at
BBC athletics commentary, the broadcaster his ability to overcome them. He’s another great
sorely misses someone Ovett’s deep knowledge, observer of the sport in a wider social context.
humour and honest critical thought. In the book, At one point he laments how anthropologists
he ends up speaking about himself ‘Ovett’ in the in the future, ‘will be amazed that despite all
third person. Though unsettling, it is inevitable, our advances in medical science, we had so
perhaps, given that the media created a separate completely lost touch with our own bodies that
version of himself. But he was the son of market we suffered in our millions from obesity, diabetes
traders, brought up by his grandparents when, and heart disease,’ continuing to point out, ‘They
aged five, one day he said he wanted to go to will probably condemn as criminals the politicians
their house, not his parents, and simply stayed. who sold school fields for housing,’ for a pittance
It is a strange early detail, that he says neither whilst dumping the cost of an obesity crisis on the
he, nor his mother, ever really understood. I liked health service. Spedding’s book is perhaps the
Ovett, instinctively, when I was growing up. His most useful to any sportsperson who struggles
whole heartedness and suspicion of authority with injury and performance issues (in other
appealed. I liked him more after reading this. words, nearly all sportspeople), as he takes you
There’s pathos at the end, as the book finishes through how to think about, handle and return
without Ovett knowing that his career was by from injury and set goals.
then all but blown out.
Whereas Spedding hands out carefully
In From Last to First, Charlie Spedding, who considered advice, Paula Radcliffe’s Paula:  My
trained as a pharmacist, offers something Story So Far, is more like an extended therapy
different to a settling of accounts or full archive of session for the runner herself, a competent
a life, he offers up a theory in which you must ask linguist. We’ve become familiar with Radcliffe’s
yourself and answer: a) What do I want? b) Why intelligent and polite commentary role in BBC
do I want it? c) How much do I want it? And then athletics coverage. She stands out along with,
use positive visualisation to achieve it. Spedding perhaps, Steve Cram, as a calm and informative
is not Hill, Ovett or Radcliffe, touched by the observer of the sport. But she has come a very
gods of sport. He was a very, very good athlete long way from the more fraught, single-minded
who grafted, overcame huge obstacles and had and obsessive runner presented in the book.
his moment, when he came third in the Olympic The overall impression reading her biography is
Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984. But from that of a tunnel of vision narrowing up to the point
Spedding, who wrote his book a long time after whereby the rest of the world disappears and only
his peak, digests his experience and is compelled her, her support team, and the race itself exist.
to share what he’s learned about motivation and You’d say that’s fair enough for any focused, elite
goal setting. Again, there’s a real intelligence at athlete, but in Radcliffe’s own words it reaches
work, coupled with self-effacing humour. Some of a level of isolating intensity not seen in the other
Spedding’s injury issues are truly gruesome (like biographies. Several themes are frequently

“Our ability to participate in sport can hang by a
thread, and we should be grateful for, and enjoy,
whatever abilities we have.”



repeated as Radcliffe’s steel will is offset by her Never the
more apologetic kindness and courtesy. She often same again
writes that running is what keeps her sane but, as
the book demonstrates, it is also what unbalances Duel in the Sun by John Brant (2006)
her. Approaching her nemesis race, the Olympic
Marathon in Athens, 2004, having already Raj Paranandi reviews Duel in the
achieved so much and set still-unbroken world Sun – by John Brant (2006, Rodale)
records, she writes of being ‘driven by the almost an account of the career defining
manic desire to run.’ Only, it’s not almost, it is battle between Alberto Salazar and
manic, and destructively so. It’s another painfully Dick Beardsley
honest book, excruciatingly so, and sometimes
you sense it reveals even more than intended. The 1982 Boston marathon has become
Other people’s relationships are like lands that we known colloquially amongst runners as the
can neither visit nor fully understand. Radcliffe “Duel in the Sun” and is often referred to
finds herself apologising for her husband, as the greatest head-to-head race in marathon
Gary, and you look on pained at how the febrile history. John Brant’s book chronicles the race
atmosphere of their training set-up manages him and its build-up, spliced with a broader narrative
being at least as highly strung as her. The person regarding the lives of the American protagonists,
you see on television today, is far more at ease Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley.
with herself, than the Radcliffe for whom major
games were anything but a game (sometimes it’s Brant’s story-telling is engaging and fast-paced,
easy to forget that we invented sports as a form of giving an insight into the motivation and training
play to entertain ourselves). approaches of two runners from different sides
of the track(s). The description of the race
*** itself is fascinating; but more interesting is its
All these runners developed gifts that set them use as an allegory for struggle, attainment and
apart, but they were still human, and made many devastating loss.
mistakes. Spedding and Radcliffe took their whole
careers to discover their distance, the marathon. 41
Radcliffe and Hill both missed out on Olympic
medals that many thought they had nailed-on in
advance. Whereas the lower profile Spedding,
unexpectedly walked away with one. Like these
runners, athletes today are still working it out
as they go along. For all the faith in particular
regimes, its extraordinary how little solid science
sits behind many routine techniques used by
elite runners, ranging from altitude training, to the
importance of flexibility and icing for recovery.
While these biographies reveal some continuity
of experience at the elite level, Ron Hill’s
makeshift sporting world seems far removed from
Radcliffe’s globetrotting support team. There can
be no single insight except, perhaps, in the way
that our ability to participate in sport can hang
by a thread, and we should be grateful for, and
enjoy, whatever abilities we have.


Salazar is well known as the head of the Nike approaches, while contrasting, are informative
Oregon project; a somewhat shadowy, reclusive for the club runner in terms of the superhuman
figure behind Mo Farah’s ascent to distance- intensity demanded of world class athletes.
running greatness in recent years. Beardsley is
less familiar, despite jointly winning the inaugural For both athletes, Boston in 1982 marks
London marathon in 1981, holding hands with the end of something. Salazar wins the race
Inge Simonsen of Norway to cross the line. but is never the same again. He succumbs to
numerous, successive illnesses and injuries and
Brant’s book is ostensibly the story of a despite a fleeting comeback during which he
marathon classic in gruelling weather conditions, wins the Comrades marathon in South Africa,
starting in Boston’s fabled town of Hopkinton and he is no longer competitive at elite marathon
encompassing the legendary “Heartbreak hill” at level. The race is Beardsley’s apotheosis too
mile 20. – he returns to farming, almost being killed in
an accident with a tractor in 1989. This is the
Despite Beardsley’s pedigree, he entered the challenge, writ large, that is faced by every
1982 race as a wide-odds outsider. Salazar had runner from the most prosaic to the most
won the New York marathon in the previous two talented – how to recognise and deal with the
years, including a “world record” in 1981 (the tipping point from which your times will only ever
course was subsequently found to be short). get slower.
Storied, successful and handsome, he had also
appeared on the cover of the revered Sports Our subjects channel their intensity into new
Illustrated magazine and received a phone call obsessions. Salazar becomes a devotee of an
from President Ronald Reagan upon breaking arcane Yugoslavian Catholic sect, his religion
the world record. Beardsley, by contrast, was a briefly nourishing the faith that he can make
self-proclaimed “farm boy” with limited notoriety a running comeback; Beardsley, tragically,
outside of elite running circles; he resented becomes a victim of insidious drug addiction
Salazar’s fame, stature and income. – many of the book’s finest sections cover the
deep pathos of Beardsley’s decline into forging
Despite these contrasts, there are numerous prescriptions to satisfy an addiction to painkillers.
similarities between the two men, particularly in
the depiction of running as a release. Salazar is Brant succeeds in telling a compelling tale. He
motivated in large part by proving himself to his weaves together three stories (that of the race,
didactic father Jose, a former ally of Fidel Castro Salazar and Beardsley) and elicits sympathy
who is ultimately forced to flee Cuba after falling for both runners despite their behaviour often
out with “El Commandante”. Beardsley is trying to being less then admirable. Most importantly of
escape the tyranny of alcoholic, warring parents all, he frames a fascinating question that will
and finds solace and freedom through running. probably not be familiar to anyone but the most
elite runners – if running fast is your path to
Both men push themselves to ludicrous redemption, then what will redeem you when the
extremes – Salazar with his weekly mileage, race ends?
Beardsley through near-constant racing. Their

“Beardsley resented Salazar’s fame,
stature and income.”


More runner than snooker player

Running: The Autobiography (2013)

Gary Budinger explores the surprising revelations in Running:
The Autobiography, by Ronnie O’Sullivan (Orion, 2013)

Many people will be aware of Ronnie races in North London/Essex, and his love for
O’Sullivan. He is the five times world cross country running shines through, as recently
snooker champion, with many other as last year he was spotted over at Parliament
championship wins to his name. Most will also Hill fields watching the Southern cross country
be aware of his somewhat turbulent lifestyle and championships.
well documented erratic behaviour over the years.
However, what many may not know about is his For a long time he travelled the world with his
deep love of, and obsession with running. He trainers so that he could run wherever he was
even ranks running as his main passion above based at that time, and many of the people he
snooker, especially at key times in his adult life. has met who inspired him most, and became
The book confirms that passion, and although good friends, have been from running.
it is a biography of sorts, it is also very much
an exploration of his relationship with running Each chapter of the book covers an area of his
and runners. life, but also has outlines many of his running
experiences and various people he has met and
There is a brief introduction to his younger trained with over the years. The passion for running
days: playing snooker as a 10 year old when he really does show, including how he embraced
was already knocking in 100 breaks. By 17 he both Christianity and Islam for very short periods
was travelling around circuits to play, and at 18 to get him through his depression, and a longing
he turned professional. He also covers his family for something more in his life. But it was ultimately
environment – being particularly honest about running which brought him the most happiness,
his close relationship with his dad, who was even more so than snooker at times.
sentenced to 18 years for murder shortly after
he turned professional, and his mother, who took There is also a good insight into his battle
over the family porn business and was jailed for with depression and using doctor Steve Peter’s
tax evasion. He also talks in some detail about a intervention to help him “manage the chimp”.
long, bitter and costly legal battle with his first
wife including getting access to their two children. Overall I found this a balanced book that
reveals Ronnie not only as a snooker player
Back to the running and he sets out vividly how and a runner, but also not unsurprisingly a
this played a major role in helping him stay sane very complex person. I would recommend to
during some very dark days. He was much more everyone it as both an easy and interesting
than just a jogger too, having joined a club and read – not just snooker or running fans.
training quite seriously over the years whilst still
playing snooker at the highest level. He managed “It was ultimately running
to run a sub-35 minutes 10k but could no doubt
have been even quicker with more training and which brought him the most
if he had started a bit younger. He also ran with
Woodford Green in local cross country league happiness.”


Thousands filled the stands for the World Athletics Championships in London,
2017, in a year which brought national success for Herne Hill athletes
across the age range from youth to veteran.

Herne Hill Harriers is a community amateur sports club.
We pride ourselves on being a family club and cater for all standards.

We offer coaching, training and competitions in all track and
field events, road running, cross-country, indoor athletics and sports hall

and welcome athletes of all ages from 11 upwards interested in
track and field, road running or cross country races.
For more information about us, our events,

how to get involved or anything else about Herne Hill Harriers,
please get in touch at [email protected]

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