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Published by glen, 2018-04-20 09:12:27

Red and Black Magazine 03 LR v3

Red and Black Magazine 03 LR v3

Up the hill www.hernehillharriers.org

2018 Spring & Summer Issue RED&BLACK
MAGAZINE
Tooting by
Commonwealth
Herne Hill Harriers is a community athletics club that
The indoors virgin believes in diversity & is open to all.

Grow your own club tgiwomhte:aK8lteniysnoosjwouun’rvsye

Why I run

The appliance
of science

Taming the Hill On track
fantastic

1


Cross country falling without falling
back to begin a second lap
Fråst Levenk survive it all again, a boulder
now on their shoulders
Skinny men in rain heavy, sinking strides to bury
shivering like sailcloth miracle victory dreams
muscles taut as ropes
that pull sails tighter until, like Sisyphus
waiting for the gun there seems no end, only effort
they clear the final copse then
when it comes startled, herd in landscape
in release, like damburst toward a line, away, together
doubt gives out to find themselves
in clouded breaths, gunsmoke
of the first surge, finding
in heartbeats the body’s edge

to run that crest
yearning up, through mud
sucking like lost sleep and
missed training, quick-toed
over tree roots, reading ground
twisted from paths in folk tales

Fråst Levenk – reprinted with permission from the collection Runes (1965), translated by Hukar Kuram.
2


A good sport 3

The good society, wrote eminent sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, is the society
which does not think it is good enough. In this edition you will see plenty of
evidence of how good an athletics club Herne Hill Harriers is. Race reports
bring stories of success from the top of national and international competi-
tion, especially from women club members. Reflections from athletes and
coaches exude a pride and appreciation not only in performances, but in the
community created by a club in which you feel included and are supported
whether you’re at the front or back of the pack.

But these pages also display something else; a good club which thinks
it is not good enough, and wants to do better. You will find club members
writing about how we can learn from, and avoid the patterns of behaviour
that make injury more likely. And, also, how more fully appreciating times
when we’re not injured might deepen our enjoyment of athletics, and ease
some of the self-imposed stresses that athletes put themselves under.
Others reflect on how better we might tackle the challenges of aging, and
raise awareness of some often hidden health problems. You’ll read about
efforts to interact more with the wider local running community, and see
demonstrations of engagement in the broader culture of the sport, from
cooking to film and literature.

Club members are also asking questions about how to improve in
a way that is part of a resurgent cultural conversation about equality.
From issues of pay in the workplace to exploitation in the entertainment
industries, gender inequality has risen up the public and political agenda,
and surfaced within athletics around the subject of different cross country
distances run by men and women. Athletics has a shameful history of
chauvinism and bias against women. The founder of the modern Olympics,
Pierre de Coubertin, was explicit. “The Olympic Games must be reserved
for men,” he said in 1912, and that the games were for, “the solemn and
periodic exaltation of male athleticism, with internationalism as a base,
loyalty as a means, art for its setting and female applause as its reward.”
As with all progress, it took activism to change such attitudes. In 1919 a
French former rower, Alice Milliat, took over the newly created Federation
of French Women’s Sports Clubs, and petitioned the International Olympic
Committee to include a proper programme of women’s events for the 1920

RED & BLACK MAGAZINE
Editorial | Andrew Simms | Email: AndrewSimms.uk@gmail.com | Twitter: @Andrewsimms_UK
Design, Layout and Print | Words & Pictures | 8 Stoney Lane, London SE19 3BD | www.wordsandpictures.co.uk


Olympics. It didn’t, refusing point blank. Only the creation of a separate,
independent International Women’s Games in 1921, which then took the
mantle of the Women’s Olympic Games, forced change. But it wasn’t until
decades later in 1984 at Los Angeles, that the Games included its first
marathon for women. More bizarrely still, the first women’s 10,000m had to
wait until 1988, and the 5000m until 1996.

Cross country is something of a marmite event among athletes, with
loving and loathing jostling for prominence like shoulders at the start of
a crowded track race. And the debate concerns not just parity, per se,
in the distance run, but what that distance should be. Some argue that
to equalise upwards the distance run by women to (equal) typical men’s
distances, would undermine the quality of competition between middle
and long-distance runners. Although this argument can, of course, equally
be applied to male athletes facing 12k or 15k worth of mud. Earlier this
year the Essex County Athletics Association voted to equalise the distance
run by men and women in their senior cross country championships, and
chose 10k as the distance. What will Surrey do? UK Athletics said they will
work towards equalising the distances at their own Cross Challenge series
of races, and it is likely that the next, 2018-19, cross country season will
include events of equal distance.

It’s a reminder that sport doesn’t sit apart from social and political
challenges, neither does it merely reflect them. It is just another stage on
which the struggle for progress occurs. A good sport, like a good society, is
a sport which doesn’t think it is good enough.

Andrew Simms

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 info@hernehillharriers.org

4


COLUMN ROUND-UP

Tooting

Commonwealth

In at the deep end, Herne Hill Harriers’ added to making it an enjoyable experience.
Katie Snowden went to Australia’s Gold Coast For training we used the facilities at a
to run for England in the 1500m at the
Commonwealth Games. After qualifying for the nearby university which was only a 5-10
final and standing on the start line alongside minute walk from the village, so that was an
the world-beating Caster Semenya, Katie ideal setup, although it did get very busy at
ran her second fastest time ever. She talks times and there was some interesting track
Red&Black through the unexpected perks of etiquette from other teams. The facilities at
being given puppies to play with, and her pride the stadium itself were very good too and
in wearing the England kit… the volunteers really helpful and friendly.

R&B H ow was the build up? R&B What was your plan for the heats?
KS The England holding camp was at a hotel in Brisbane KS I was hoping it was going to be run at a

for two weeks prior to the Games. I’m glad I travelled out decent pace, which indeed it was, and I
well in advance of my race as I struggled with jet lag a lot just wanted to make sure I was towards the
initially. Here was also a nice opportunity to get to know fore for as long as possible so I stayed in
the team, although quite a few were already familiar faces. contention. I knew finishing in one of the top
I loved Brisbane as a place, as it was always bustling, four automatic qualification spots was going
but in terms of training it wasn’t ideal. There were very to be tough as it was a very competitive heat,
limited running routes. The only option was to go out and but I was confident that if I committed I
back along the river, which was all concrete, and it was would give myself a good chance of being a
extremely humid which made runs much tougher. fastest loser.

R&B Were the Games what you’d expected? R&B How did it feel standing on the start line of
KS In terms of the Games village I didn’t really know what the final?

to expect, but having spoken to others on the team KS T here was a technical fault which delayed
who have been to previous multi-sport championships the start by ten minutes or so which was a
they have rated it very highly. It is a bit smaller than I bit nerve wracking, but I made sure to keep
imagined, but this has made it less overwhelming, and doing some strides and not let this affect me
good to have everything in close proximity. too much. Having three others Aussies in my
It had a games room, salon and different daily race meant it was a really good atmosphere
entertainment such as puppies being brought in (a and I felt very proud to be wearing the
personal fave!) and these were things I wasn’t expecting, England kit. I was also so grateful for the
but provided a fun distraction when there’s a quite a bit support I had in the stadium from friends
of time to kill around racing whilst tapering. I was also and family too.
sharing an apartment with six really nice girls which

5


PEOPLE

The

indoors

virgin

Glen Keegan is known for running marathons, lots of them, so what was he doing
standing on a 200m track with a plan to run only four times around it?
Red&Black asked him what on Earth he was playing at…

R&B Y ou run marathons, don’t you, so why on and although I spent years running ultras
earth are you stepping onto a track only and marathons I think I am probably best
200m long? suited to middle distance events. Also
although I don’t have the talent to back it up,
GK  Last April I ran the Thames Path 100 mile I’m fiercely competitive and 800m is a great
race. At about 3am when I was struggling distance to battle against other runners.
and in quite a dark place, I made a promise
to myself that I would try shorter races and R&B J ust to check, there’s over fifty-two 800s in
on the track. So over the summer I raced a marathon?
distances from 200m, 800m, 3000m and
10,000m and 1 hour. The event I enjoyed GK  I know and if only I could repeat my 800m
most and got the best WAVA score was the time x 52 I could have been a contender…
800m. One evening at an HHH social event
I drunkenly promised to compete indoors. R&B A rriving at Lea Valley, what was it like?
So having grown bored with longer distances GK  I arrived at Lee Valley not feeling fully fit
and needing a new challenge, I laced up a
pair of spikes for the first time in 40 years having had a couple of bouts of illness over
and did a few 200m track sessions to try the winter, so my training had not gone to
and get some speed into my legs. plan and I still had a slight chest infection.
The first thing I noticed was how many of the
R&B B ut you could still run something as long as athletes were wearing GB kit… I had decided
3000m, so why an 800m? not to put any pressure on myself re-times
and just enjoy the experience. I managed
GK  800m had been my best event as a kid to find a few other HHH vets in attendance,
when I used to run for Worthing Harriers, someone to chat to and warm up with.

6


R&B D id anything surprise you?
GK  No, I have trained at Lee Valley before, there

was a series of Race Walking training days that
I attended.

R&B W hat went through your mind at the start line?
GK  On the start line I was thinking, go out hard and

just cling on. The others in the race all had better
PBs than me so I knew I would probably come
last but didn’t want to be too far off the back...

R&B H ow was the race?
GK  O ff at full throttle, first lap in fourth place and

ahead of my PB pace by 2/3 seconds. Second
lap still in fourth but gaining on 3rd place
runner. Lap 3 moved up into 3rd place after
about 20m. Slow death on lap 4, get overtaken
after about 25m and just don’t have the energy
to keep with him. Battled out the last 100m with
iLnatsotamyeSayoru’sltehEgmLsoenrndCooantsaeouybtruaemcyeninsmegtissotorfdf ers…

R&B H ow did you feel at the end?
GK  C ompletely spent and I had the worse ‘track hack’

of my life. I was coughing so much I couldn’t
warm down. I think a combination of a chest
infection and the dry air did for me. It took three
days for my coughing to calm down. I thought I
had got a PB but new it would be tight. After a
long wait for the results – PB by 0.08 of a second,
the slimmest of margins but a PB is a PB.

R&B What did you learn from the experience?
GK  I should not have overtaken on lap 3, but got on

his shoulder and tried to out sprint him over the
last 50m but ‘should have, could have would
have’. And, indoor racing is best not done with a
chest infection!

R&B Would you do it again?
GK  Most definitely, next March I will have just turned

55 so be in a new age group and, always the
optimist, I might even improve on my placing…
I now do middle distance sessions on the track
on Tuesday evening with HHH. I love doing the
shorter reps and running ‘fast’.The 800m has
reignited my passion for running again!

7


PEOPLE

faOnntrtacak stic

Sprinter Patty Gnoato opens her heart about the highs of the sport, the
challenges of aging and training and asks what clubs can do to retain and
attract more women veteran athletes…

It’s Tuesday 6pm, I am meant to go to the preventing us from doing the running that we
track for my weekly training with Herne Hill love.
Harriers, but every time I am in two minds
about it, for lots of reasons: I have no energy, I A woman’s body past 45 years old can change
am tired, I need to cook for the children, I am quickly, and those changes can lower your
injured, it’s too cold, it’s raining etc. etc. etc. I energy levels. Some of the reasons are obvious,
used to go religiously every Tuesday, I did it for like osteoporosis, menopause, and, in a lot of
years. But about 18 months ago, after straining cases, years of looking after children and family.
my ankle and not looking after the injury properly, But, this should not prevent us from running
I had to stop going to the track for 8 months and training, right? And perhaps we simply need
or more. From then onwards, it seems that my to find ways to adjust. That means listening to
determination has partly gone. My ankle is still our bodies more, stretching after every training
sore after every training session at the track and session, having regular sports massage, trying
I don’t seem to pass the point of not feeling any cross-training. These are the sorts of things that
pain, although I can still run…or just about. I do now. And, the feeling I get after training at
the track is still fantastic, the endorphins level is
This seems to be the pattern of a lot of female high… ‘Yes’, I say to myself, ’I can still do it!’
veterans athletes more so than for the male
veterans. Are we more risk averse? There is a I really hope that more women over 40 will join
general ‘scare’ amongst older women of going the club and form a consolidated group, and work
back to track training and not being able to keep and train to help each other. But, how can we
up, which is real from my own experience. I find them? How can we bring back the women
still just about manage to keep up, but it’s hard vets who used to train, or retain the ones who
work and mentally very challenging. I still love only train for a specific event, like a marathon,
it though, but I do miss the other vets ladies. and then disappear? That is something that the
It was nice to have a chat before or after the club has to think about. Let me, or the club know
training and compare notes. I think the main what you think. In the meantime, you will still
problem is coping with pain and also being afraid find me training at the track on a Tuesday, I may
that recovery after an injury will take longer, be at the back behind everyone else but, for the
multiple benefits, I don’t mind…

8


PEOPLE

“Yes”, I say to
myself, “I can

still do it!”

9


ROUND-UP

Why I run overpriced and if I was forced to
rely on it at peak times I would
Joffa seek employment elsewhere.
My sympathy is for the majority
Jonathan (Joffa) Ratcliffe who spend three hours a day
sums up the many and on a London bus travelling in
varied reasons that make a nauseous, lethargic coffin to
him run… work. My journey is ecological,
constant and direct. Even running
at 9 minute miles it’s quicker than
Abellio and totally free. The only
downside is the lack of public
conveniences en route, but I have
learnt to improvise.

1. Addiction and Anaesthetic. Chicken value meal I can get for 4. Competition. Comradeship.
Most runners eventually become £3.79 on my way home through Equality.
addicted to the post-euphoric Lewisham. (Editors note: this is When I started running , I had
high following hard exercise. not typical or sports-medicine no interest in joining a club or
The effects, I have been reliably recommended practice) partaking in athletic events. It was
informed, are akin to recreational simply a means of moving around
opiate use. I have found through However, if I did not run, I would London as efficiently as possible.
running nearly every day for the be doing this anyway. Running Over time this builds up strength
last 20 years an ability to blot out helps to maintain my body’s and fitness and finally it made
any minor concerns around work equilibrium. I am the same body sense to channel all the miles
and other middle age insecurities. shape and weight I was at 16 and into organised competition. Again
The brain is constantly rewarded without running I would struggle to the running addiction becomes
through extreme exercise and be relevant in the industry I work in intensified as it is possible to
although on occasions the body as I would not be able to represent share emotions and opportunities
protests the head usually wins. the luxury brands we offer. with people who share the same
Of course this recklessness may intensity. Post-race piss ups
often end in injury which can then 3. London Public Transport. following Marathons and Winter
result unfortunately in psychological I run to work because it minimises Cross Country are a crucial reason
breakdown because it is impossible the time I spend on public transport why I run. It has replaced watching
to run. in the Capitol. It is ridiculously Burnley FC away on a Saturday
afternoon. There is no class system
2. Diet, Alcohol, Fashion. in running. The Urchins of Herne
It is possible to put weight on Hill are able to compete with the
when running 100 miles a week. Patricians of Thames Hare and
Each mile equals 100 calories. Hounds on the same muddy field.
So a marathon gives you 2600 Accents and background are
calories, plus your normal 2400. irrelevant as you shake the hand of
After each competitive Marathon, the person who finishes next to you
73 and counting, my post recovery in the funnel. Competition running
will consist of usually 10 pints, six is also fraud free as all times are
packets of crisps and whatever shown on Run Britain and Power

10


of Ten. This acts as a powerful After winning the ROUND-UP
incentive to keep training and to Thames Meander Marathon
improve performance particularly in 11
the age categories.

5. Equipment (lack of).
I am originally from a club cycling
background. I started with the
Cyclists Touring Club when I was 11
and I was fortunate to socialise with
Veterans who took me all around
the North of England. No one had
any money, it was sandwiches and
tea-only cafes, and make do and
mend when your cycle fell apart.
I raced to a reasonable level on
inadequate borrowed tackle, and
I despise the fact that cycling has
become the new yachting where 6k
buys you kudos and a performance
advantage. Running is the opposite,
that is why it is the global sport.
Shoes and shorts, the vest is
optional if it’s hot enough. I can run
whatever the weather without the
worry of traffic, mechanical issues
or buying endless accessories to
keep warm and be seen.

6. Self-respect.
On occasion I can appreciate that
runners/joggers may appear to
come across as smug and self-
satisfied, particularly to Daily Mail
readers in densely populated
urban environments. This may
be because it holds a mirror up
against the public who have yet
to discover gentle exercise which
is accessible to all. For me in a
world which is changing fast, where
employment and housing are not
guaranteed, and our overall role in
society is undefined, running helps
to maintain my mental balance and
self-esteem.


PEOPLE

You don’t know
what you’ve got

till it’s gone

Julia Wedmore shares what she has learned the hard way,
so we might all appreciate what we have before its gone

It was a plain week in September that I first Even a two minute tester run, four months into
noticed a pain in my heel. “It’s nothing,” I my injury, was such a sweet slice of what I was
thought. “I can still run, and I’ve gained so missing.
much fitness over the summer. I can’t stop now.”
A Parkrun later, and I did stop. For six months. 2. I love racing. People always ask me why I run,
And counting. I consulted Dr Google which and the answer is easy. Every training run, every
pointed towards the dreaded plantar fasciitis. plank, every stretch and that yearly foam roll
I went to a podiatrist. It was actually tendinitis. are all done because I want to race as well as I
Then to a doctor. It was, in fact, plantar fasciitis. can. Having said that, I did look at one extremely
Then to a physio. It was tight glutes. rain-soaked Surrey League picture and suddenly
didn’t mind being stuck indoors...
It was at this point that I received a message
from the very editor of this magazine, telling 3. I miss my clubmates. Apart from work
me about a place called the Institute of Sports, colleagues and housemates, there aren’t many
Exercise and Health, a branch of UCLH that people that you can guarantee seeing every
helps serious (and not that serious) athletes week. Suddenly I didn’t have a reason to cycle to
get back to their sport. An assessment, X-ray Tooting every Tuesday and catch up with a varied
and MRI later, I finally know what the problem and friendly group of people before and after a
is (tight midfoot joint, for those still playing session (or during if it’s Simon), and I miss that.
diagnosis bingo) and am about to start 10
weeks of physio to get back to running. But this 4. Not running gives you a lot of free time. Fill
article isn’t about my treatment. It’s about these it. While I’ve never done the crazy 100-mile
eight key things I learned in my six months off weeks of some marathon runners in the club,
running…. going from six runs a week to none does free
up a fair few hours. The important thing is to do
1. I like running. Even when your lungs are going something else. Most obviously because you’ll
to burst, your legs are burning and sweat is get bored if you don’t, but also because you’ll go
dripping into your eyeballs, there is something crazy (see next point).
enjoyable about trying to move as fast you can.

12


PEOPLE

5. Running shouldn’t be your only way of 7. Your clubmates understand what you are going
keeping fit, physically and mentally. I hate through, and care. While your friends and family
swimming. It’s boring, and I’m surprised the will take an interest in your injury, they won’t fully
lifeguards aren’t jumping in after me given understand its impact on you, and your heart
my technique. But I make myself go to keep will break when one casually asks, “Do you think
sane. I often hear people say they like running you’ll ever run again?” Your fellow Herne Hill
because it gives them time to think. And while I Harriers, however, will empathise and support
certainly value running as a time to mull things you. I’ve had several encouraging messages
over, I equally value it as a time to do exactly from Geoff, my coach, asking whether I have
the opposite. In a hard session, or a testing got a diagnosis and what the treatment is. I’ve
tempo run, the concentration required is been chatting to my childhood running friends,
such that you can’t think about anything else. Hannah and Katie, about how one of them is
(Andrew and Damien, I hope this explains my running in the British Indoor Championships
racing face. and they’ll still ask me how my foot is in the
same sentence. At the HHH Christmas pub
6. Summer will turn to spring and you’ll barely crawl, on the other hand, you’ll wish you’d
notice. Something I had never appreciated is that brought business cards about your injury so
getting outside several times a week, particularly you could shortcut the first five minutes of every
in parks and green spaces, makes you notice the conversation.
changing environment - how cold it is, whether
the leaves have fallen from the trees and how 8. You can’t roll your foot over a massage ball
muddy the ground is. Even in a city you get to when you’re sitting on an office chair with
appreciate the uniqueness of every season. wheels...

13


ROUND-UP

Coach’s notes

Herne Hill’s coaches pick out performances from a glittering

season that impressed them for many different reasons…

Steve Knight Wayne Vinton

What has pleased me most For me, the season’s highlight
this winter has been both the has to be Saskia Millard. She
attitude to training and racing is the only Herne Hill Harrier to
of the coaching group that win a medal at any of the three
Glen Keegan and I look after. Right National Cross Country meetings this
through the group, athletes have bought into the Winter.
notion of constantly striving for excellence and
setting ambitious targets. As a consequence, in However, for me it is the manner of her return
excess of 90% of the group have run PBs across to racing after several years and only a handful
the winter. of competitions. In February 2018, in her first
cross-country race since October 2014, she
I am particularly thrilled by the successes of the won the London Schools and yesterday won a
female runners, many of whom are completely bronze medal in the English Schools Senior Girls
new to club athletics. Some have come to us Championship.
from the Parkruns and others have not run since
their teenage years. The progress has been I think an athlete with a lesser passion for the
spectacular; we have filled places in scoring sport we all love would have given up long ago.
teams in major championship race and Surrey She has been seriously injured since October
Leagues. They are pulling on the red & black 2014. A premature comeback in Summer 2016
vest and turning out in big numbers. They are resulted in her again enduring a lengthy lay-off. It
running seriously good sessions and can count has been my privilege to oversee her rehabilitation
themselves as real club standard runners now. this Winter. She has diligently worked to modify
Many of them are going to make the next step up her technique to become a more efficient athlete
as well. and hopefully avoid further injuries. She has
dealt with the frustration of being only able to
It’s a thrill to be involved each week with a lot run a few kilometres at an easy pace to start last
of wonderful people. I suppose I’m saying that it’s September.
the journey that we are all on and the bond that
is formed between about 50 people of different Although she has had dark days this Winter and
levels of ability. What other sport offers this? doubted whether she would ever get back, at no
point has she given up. As well as being a lovely
young woman and an absolute pleasure to Coach,
she is an inspiration to everyone who knows her
story.

14


Coach notes

Steve Bosely Geoff Jerwood

One of the most rewarding My winter highlights for the
aspects of coaching and team women were all about medals.
managing is always to see a group Chronologically and also as it
of athletes develop and improve happens in reverse order of colour
and often go beyond where your of medal, albeit all three of much
expectations are. This winter our under 13 importance and sources of great pride, they were
girls cross country team were a good example as follows.
of a group of girls who improved all season and
developed into a team who performed superbly “Only” a bronze, but by far the most
right up to national level. unexpected of the three was won by Chloe Tighe
in the Australian Championship 1500m on the
At the start of the winter season we didn’t Gold Coast. Chloe returned home to Australia
appear to have a strong team in this age group: at Christmas after two years with Herne Hill
several of the girls were new to cross country Harriers and our training group which had
and we looked low in numbers, however the girls rekindled her love for running and racing. Our
were very consistent all season and after Xmas coaching partnership continued remotely from
deservedly earnt reward for their training with one side of the world to the other and Chloe first
some strong team performances won the New South Wales 1500m title in a big
PB before her surprise place on the podium at
At the Southern cross country relays in her national championship in an even bigger
October our girls showed the first evidence of PB. Her time improved from 4.18.3 on leaving
their potential by coming third and the following London to 4.11.12 by the time she raced her
week won the Surrey cross country title before final on the Gold Coast. Hers is an inspirational
finishing an excellent tenth in the national cross story that should be the subject of a bigger and
country relays. Before Christmas wed been fuller report.
consistent in the Surrey league to put us in a
good position after two matches The following day in February saw the silver
medal claimed by Katie Snowden at the British
The girls trained hard over the Christmas Indoor Championship. This was her first
holidays and had a great result at the Surrey appearance on the rostrum at a senior national
cross country championships winning the team championship event, a couple of weeks before
race in which three were in the top ten and her 24th birthday. Katie’s excellent performance
Phoebe Bowen won the County title. Phoebe, at Arena Birmingham, following up a very
Johanna and Hebe were all selected for Surrey. assured and controlled win in her 1500m heat
The girls performed superbly for the rest of the with second place in the final, beaten only by
winter clinching the Surrey League title and the experienced World Championship outdoor
finishing fourth in the Southern cross country 5000m finalist Eilish McColgan. Next stop for
champs in which nothing seemed to go well Katie was that same Gold Coast track upon
and agonizingly fourth missing on medals by which Chloe won her medal as Katie races
one point in the National cross country champs. for England in the women’s 1500m at the
Phoebe, Johanna, Hebe, Stella, Annabella, Ella, Commonwealth Games.
Zoe and Margaret all show great promise for the
future and it’s been a pleasure to see how these Then a month later Fiona de Mauny struck
girls have improved as a team this winter. gold to become a European champion at the
Masters Indoor W35 800m in Madrid (see her
own account of the race separately). Fi went
into these championships as the fastest on

15


Coach notes

paper, albeit more recent indoor form might found it difficult to articulate just how good Lew’s
have suggested a close contest. It was not the performance really was. Fantastic is an adjective
fact that she won that delighted me so much, that is over used by many, myself included,
but the manner of victory, a gun to tape win with but this performance genuinely merits that
a huge indoor PB of 2.12.28. Our tactics were description. This was the first time since Don
perfectly executed as we had believed she was in Taylor in 1963 that a Herne Hill Harriers first
2.12 shape from recent sessions and we wanted claim athlete has finished top 10 in the senior
to make that level of fitness count. The silver men’s race.
medalist in the race pretty much equalled Fi’s
previous indoor best, but she ended up a good 4 Finally from a new man to our training group
seconds behind Fiona as the latter peaked for a this winter, was a big a PB run from Nick Bester,
dominant win when it mattered most. perhaps rather appropriately in the Big Half, a
new London half marathon race which this year
For the men it was more about breakthrough incorporated the British championship race for
performances than medals as I would in my the distance. The event saw HHH men very well
team manager capacity single out Lewis Lloyd’s represented with Nick leading those wearing red
marvellous 7th place in the English National and black as he smashed his best time by more
Cross Country Championship at Parliament Hill than 5 minutes with a superb run to place 41st,
Fields at the end of February (and you can also clocking 70.53, a few seconds ahead of Chris
read Lewis’s own ‘insider’ account of that race Busaileh who was 43rd in 70.59 for a real step
in this edition). I’m always full of words, but I up from Nick’s previous level of racing.

16


FEATURE

Sporting an

identity crisis

Sue Swaine wonders just what kind of athlete she really is?

Distance runners and triathletes often clash in cold water swimmers? Give me a wetsuit any day, I’m
their opinions of each other. Are triathletes just lacking any insulation.
athletes who are average at swimming, cycling
and running, rather than excelling at any? Are distance I would never claim to be a cyclist. I don’t wear
runners just compulsive obsessive, mileage driven matching kit and probably don’t own enough
athletes who wouldn’t see the point to any other form bikes (three at the last count), and certainly don’t
of exercise? understand (or care about) the lingo on mechanical
I kind of fall into both categories. I usually describe stuff and power output. I do quite enjoy the cake
myself as a runner who dabbles in triathlon in the involved on long rides though and wouldn’t dream
summer. But increasingly I am morphing into a of riding a sportive with tri bars in place. I shout at
triathlete who happens to compete in running events inconsiderate drivers and can fix a puncture, but my
over the winter. quads are certainly not steel.

There’s nothing more simple than donning your So am I a triathlete? I’ve certainly competed in
trainers and watch, and leaving the house for a run. enough to qualify and with some success. Due to
Minimal gear; a free race t-shirt will do the job as well persistent injury woes with running, my training
as any technical and pricey running top, won’t it? Cross consists of all three disciplines all through the year
country races without a toilet or shower in sight are to avoid overuse. I own a tri bike, elastic laces, rub
also perfectly acceptable. And post race nutrition is bodyglide on my neck before swimming in a wetsuit
as simple as a pie and a pint. But I’m not into strava and appreciate the value of arm warmers. But I don’t
or running round in circles on a track, with everybody wear head to toe compression. I don’t have the M-dot
watching your misery as the lactate builds. tattoo (and never will) and I don’t carry a belt full of
gels for a 5 mile run around the common. I kick my
I was firstly a swimmer, only getting into running legs whilst swimming and see the point of swimming
‘properly’ at university. So maybe I should describe other strokes than frontcrawl. I love the challenge
myself as a swimmer, who does a bit of running, and of stringing together the three disciplines and the
then decided to combine the two and add in a bit of planning that goes into transitioning between them at
cycling? I still compete at swimming – both pool and race pace. But I sometimes hate the pressure of trying
open water - and arguably it is my strongest of the to train meaningfully at all three alongside full time
three disciplines. It’s a technical sport which makes it work; double days become the norm. I wonder how
more interesting than just slogging out mileage, and good I could be at a single discipline if I put as many
there’s nothing like the feeling of swimming outdoors. hours training into just one of the three.
But then swimmers are a different breed altogether;
chlorinated individuals capable of mind boggling So next time someone asks me “what is your sport?”
numbers of lengths of the same unchanging scenery I will answer that I am a swimmer, a cyclist and a
staring at a black line on the bottom of a pool. And, runner. To which no doubt they will respond, “You
should do a triathlon”.

17


Experience

My best race,
My worst race

Katie Kedward marvels at how things can go wrong when they shouldn’t,
and right when you least expect it…

E xpectation is the root of all heartache, 6’50 miles, my target pace. I had a set of race
according to an oft-quoted 400-year-old mantras that I kept saying in my head (“run
playwright. So perhaps that sets the scene brave!”) to keep myself focused and feeling
well for what I consider to be my “worst” race - or positive.
the one that gave me the most heart (and leg)
ache, at least. Yet, when the seed of doubt enters your mind,
mid-race, it can be a tough one to dislodge. Eight
My worst race miles in, the effort required to maintain my target
It was back in 2016 and I was racing the pace was becoming far more challenging than
Richmond half marathon. I had my heart set on I knew it should at that stage. I felt the slowing
completing the 13.1 mile course in under 90 before it became apparent on my watch, but
minutes. A number of girls I knew had recently seeing the cold evidence was all the fertiliser that
dipped under that elusive barrier, and being little seed needed. Why can I not do this?
as competitive as I am, I was determined to
not be left behind. So much so, that I really Try as I might, the 90 minute goal I had trained
put everything into training. Week by week, my for so much vanished further into the distance
mileage climbed, long runs lengthened, tempos the more the negative thoughts bounded about
intensified. Fitness came, as it does, drip by drip, my head. When I reached the finish line in 1 hour
barely noticeable, but very much growing. After a and 31 mins, 57 seconds, I flopped on the grass,
couple of tune-up races, one of which yielded a mentally exhausted. All of those freezing winter
10K personal best, race day rolled around and I long runs, the punishing 8 mile tempo runs done
felt ready to go. alone in the rain, all of the time spent training,
preparing, planning… and I hadn’t just missed
Unlike the shorter distances I race now, half my goal, I had missed it by nearly two minutes.
marathons are peculiar in that it takes a while for
the pain to kick in. Set off too fast at your peril, Having replayed that race over and over again
because it is a very long way home. I started in my head, I can now appreciate that I just
steadily enough – ticking off each mile in around was not in shape for a sub 90 clocking. I really
needed more speed endurance training under my
18 belt. But what I have learnt most, was how limited


a single time-target can be as a main goal. Having longer than the last, I felt like I was being pulled
a plan B would, I think, have helped me to keep tighter and tighter by something - like a wind-up
my race-brain positive once things began to slip. clockwork toy. My chest grew stiffer, my vision
Aiming high is never a bad thing, but expectations tunneled, forearms burned, legs became ever
also have to be managed. more disembodied. To any observer I was just
running around a track. Yet in my mind I was
My best race running closer and closer to a barrier I knew I had
In a strangely connected way, the race never crossed before.
performance I characterise as one of my best
is one I went into with virtually no expectations With every rational thought urging me not to,
at all. It was balmy August evening in 2016, at when the invisible wall arrived I ran though it…
the 5000m Festival Night hosted by Hercules and a switch flicked. Normal cognitive functioning
Wimbledon. I had not raced a 5K on the track shut down and up rose a deeper, darker instinct.
before and this was to be my last race of the Propelled by this unknown entity through the final
season, and my longest. With no specific training 800, sinews of muscle kicked - screaming - as
under my belt, or any idea of what I could they had never done before for the final lap. I
achieve, I had entered just for the fun of it: to run crossed the line with stars in my eyes, the sea
hard and enjoy a final blast before I took a break. in my ears and legs buckling around me. I didn’t
know or care for my time; I was only certain that I
The gun went and I launched off, having been had given it my all.
reminded only moments before that I was running
twelve and a half laps, not seven and a half (it’s It was sometime later before I clocked I had
all just “long” to an 800m runner past a certain achieved a substantial 5K PB. But that wasn’t
point). Counting issues aside, I remember feeling the reason this race has become my favourite
distinctly uncomfortable running at 5K pace - to reflect back upon. The source of satisfaction
almost 20 seconds a lap slower than for the two was that I confronted something that had held
laps of lactic I had been racing all summer. My me back on so many occasions. I had finally
stride was choppy to start; it was like I didn’t experienced what it means to turn off your brain
know where to put my feet. Resolving for once and I had found the confidence to do so.
to not let it faze me, I settled into a rhythm and
focused on counting down the laps. Applying such nuggets of *running philosophy*
is of course still a work in progress. I have yet to
It’s not unusual for me to reach that certain run an 800m race, my preferred distance, to my
*pain* point in a race (usually a long one) satisfaction - with my season last year featuring
and have a panicky crisis of confidence. The far too much over-thinking and not enough
Richmond half marathon was a perfect example. confidence. However, if sharing my reflections on
Yet for reasons I am still trying to fathom (and these races has done one thing, it is to remind
replicate), something different happened in this me how excited I am to give it another shot this
race. As the laps went by, each one growing year. So with track season upon us, watch this
space for hopefully more progress…

19


Learning

The appliance of

running science

Mark White becomes his own guinea pig to try out whether all that theory about
biodynamics can mend you, and make you a better runner…

Late last summer my training There is a long-standing debate was therefore to restore the control
had been going well, my over whether stretching can be of the knee from the hip. There is
confidence was growing and beneficial or harmful which, I might a lot of research on knee injuries,
I had my eye on competing at the add, is not resolved in academic such as patellofemoral pain and
club’s open meeting in August. circles. In my case, it was harmful iliotibial band syndrome, where
But then, just at the point where because by stretching I had the aim is to restore the function of
everything was going right, it all loosened up my hip which reduced the hip abductors, principally the
went wrong. I experienced in many the restraining effect of tight gluteus medius, which work to resist
ways one of my worst injuries fascia that was keeping my knee the knee turning in. Another aspect
and certainly the most painful. in line. When I hit uneven ground to consider is whether the pelvis tilts
I damaged the medial collateral the violent movement of my knee too far forward, because that can
ligament of my left knee which collapsing inward placed intolerable alter hip mechanics and bring the
made it painful to even walk. strain on the ligament. knee closer to the midline. Many
experts say that improvements in
It can be difficult at such This illustrates the dangers of hip mechanics and pelvic stability
moments to remember that this stretching. Stretching can introduce can solve a number of problems in
is when you can work on your a degree of mobility into a joint the lower leg, such as altering the
weaknesses in order to come back that the body may not be able to foot strike pattern, lessening joint
a better runner. If had learned adequately control. That’s why overloading and bringing footstrike
something at Loughborough, where the body made the joint stiff in closer to being under the body’s
I studied sports science, then surely the first place. Stiffness can be a centre of gravity.
now was the time to put it into compensation for a lack of strength
practice. It wasn’t an easy path to and control (although it should also Although you have to address
follow, nor a short one, but bit by be noted that sufficient stiffness the symptoms, such as with icing,
bit I got better and am now running in the tendons is desired for more massage, ultrasound, and so
well. I would like to share with you efficient running). If you stretch on, the main focus is to improve
some of things I have learned. without also improving control or movement control which lies
stability, by which I mean activating elsewhere, not where you feel the
The first thing to ask is: what went the relevant stabilising muscles, pain. For me that meant starting
wrong? My knee collapsed inwards then you could have problems. with simple exercises whilst reclined
while running on uneven ground. That’s why I was so keen when or lying prone on the floor, such
I would like to blame it on a freak coaching on those functional as the Pilates clam, and then
accident, but the truth is I had strength exercises before sessions. progressing to standing exercises
made myself more vulnerable by using therabands that resist lateral
some over enthusiastic stretching. The first stage in my rehabilitation

20


leg movements, and then to step- “It can be difficult at such moments to
ups on to a box with hand weights. remember that this is when you can
The principle isto develop strength work on your weaknesses in order to
and control in movements with come back a better runner.”
increasing similarity to running.
spm. In this way, the progression is did one or two sets of 25 reps and
By now I was pain free, and moderate and would take several found it also seemed to improve
able to go through a run-walk weeks in line with good practice. my posture, and although this is
phase before being able to run subjective, I felt it made my running
continuously for half an hour. When you try to quicken your leg more vigorous.
However, I noticed that my running turnover it feels like you’re having to
cadence, my stride rate, was bring your leg through more rapidly. Throughout my recovery I have
quite low at around 160 strides This is the action of the iliopsoas, taken my time and not tried to ramp
per minute (spm) rather than the the primary hip flexor. This muscle up my training too quickly. At 45 the
supposed ideal of 180 spm that is often neglected by coaches and body needs a bit longer to recover.
many authors claim. Running injury even if it receives attention usually I run when my body feels ready,
specialists, in fact, go further and the aim is to stretch it in the belief and right now that is only three or
report that increasing stride rate that doing so would improve hip four times a week, barely 15 miles
seems to have a remarkable effect extension. However, this could a week – yet I continue to get faster.
of curing many ills. For one thing, be entirely wrong. At a national This echoes Jack Daniels’ training
it can stop over-striding which sprints conference last year, the principle of “only do the minimum”:
shifts footstrike towards the midfoot speakers advocated strengthening if you are still progressing you
from the heel, and as such it the iliopsoas as much as possible. don’t need to do any more. Such
lowers impact forces, reduces joint The idea is controversial but recent a philosophy is the antithesis of
overloading and improves leg swing research is starting to back it up “more is better” – more training
and pelvic stability. As I found when and some rehabilitation specialists may make you fitter but not always.
I managed to raise my stride rate report hip extension improving with It could also lead to overtraining,
above 175 spm any lingering knee strength gains in the hip flexors. breakdown and injury. It can be
pain disappeared. hard sometimes to judge where
It made sense to me, so I devised the limit is but if you look after
The way to do it is to run in time a standing knee-lift exercise to yourself and work on improving
with a metronome either as an app strengthen the iliopsoas using an your strength and coordination
on your phone or a light, digital elastic cord to provide resistance then you’re more likely to enjoy
metronome held in your hand, as I that was looped through the raised consistency in your training.
do. The experts say that everyone foot and anchored behind me. I
can raise their stride rate and that a
5 percent gain is easy to do. I would
recommend small incremental
gains during a run. Start at the rate
that you feel comfortable – let’s say
it is 165 spm. You can increase the
rate by one every few minutes so
that by the end of the run you might
have reached 170-172 spm. Each
increment is imperceptible but by
the end you have made a decent
improvement. Then the next time,
you might start one higher at 166

21


Learning

Grow your own

athletics club

When Jack Dickenson arrived at medical school, he found its athletics club needing
CPR. Here he tells the story of the surprising result when he got the paddles out…

‘It is presumed that there has Thierry Cup and holding a sports first instance, lapsed and athletics
been, in the dim past, a St day, including a Tug of War between at George’s disappeared once
George’s Hospital Athletic Club the students and staff. It seems again.
(SGHAC). When and why it ceased they looked to the future too, writing
to function we do not know. Suffice of their plans for a consultants’ race Through getting to know some of
to say that a few years ago our the following year. the rowers (and we thought runners
interest in athletics was very low.’ were unhinged…), it emerged that
When I arrived at George’s, there were actually a few who’d
These words could easily have almost a year and a half ago now, done athletics before, so last
been written in the past few and more than half a century since February we got four teams out for
months, by me or someone involved the article in the Gazette, as a the Hyde Park Relays, the biggest
in our new club. This passage was, naïve 18 year old, thrust somewhat student relay in the country. We
in fact, was from an article in the fortuitously into medical school (the didn’t actually do too badly, giving
St George’s Hospital Gazette in wonders of clearing), I was keen us hope that we might be able to
the Autumn of 1955, in an article to continue my fledgling running start something. Craig, an ex-
detailing the resurgence of their career, having started taking it county sprinter, helped enormously
athletics club. ‘Human history, like semi-seriously during 6th form. and in June we were passed by
all great movements, was cyclical’ However, the club of the 50s was the Student Union, bringing into
said the 19th Century author long gone, the only sign of anything existence the latest SGHAC
Edward Bellamy, and the way in being an old Facebook account for
which the efforts of those men (they ‘St George’s Running’, and an out Since September, then, we’ve had
were almost always men) has eerily of date page on the Student Union a small but steady group of runners,
mirrored what we’re trying to do, website. With no group, I went on primarily First years. I’ve tried to mix
60-odd years later, although without my own to the London Colleges it up, combining social runs and
the male domination. League XC races and track meets, races with an informal partnership
running decently, and joined Herne with HHH in the way that many
All those years ago, a group of Hill last November. universities join forces with a local
students, led by the irrepressible club, and a few people have joined
Dean of the medical school Dr As I discovered, the most recent Steve Knight’s group for some
Alistair Hunter, discovered the incarnation of a club had been led track sessions. For all the League
existence of an old club and by Joe Morwood, once of Herne races, we’ve had solid numbers,
endeavoured to form a new Hill Harriers fame and an incredibly ranging from 5 to 11 at our ‘local’
one. They were apparently fairly talented runner. However, once he on Wimbledon Common. Our target,
successful, winning the university qualified in 2015, the club, which though, was something different.
didn’t appear to be that large in the
The ‘United Hospitals’

22


encompasses the 5 London medical good few years. The first George's hands on the shield since 1876
schools plus the RVC, and for I’d like to think that the win Our first race – Parliament Hill back in October,
athletics there are 2 competitions – complete with homemade banner
the Bannister Cup for cross country, will kick-start something, with
and the United Hospitals (UH) others joining to try and retain
Athletics Championships, now held it. Organising sprinting has been
as part of the London Universities difficult, as well as tempting people
Indoor Championships at Lee Valley. from other sports, but we hope that
UH Athletic Club was founded when most teams finish in April
in 1867, making last year the time we’ll get more. In theory, the
centenary, with poor old George’s club is pretty self-sufficient, and for
not having won for 141 years. as long as I’m here I’ll be involved,
so for now, hopefully, athletics at
Our aim was really just to get a George’s is back.
team there – having gone on my
own last year, dragging others Indoor Championships, November 2017
along was a success, in my view,
particularly in our first year. It was ‘ . . . we somehow
a makeshift team which competed finished with a
in November, having ransacked margin of 13 points
the Boat Club for people to do shot over 2nd placed
/ hurdles / whatever they could in King’s. We had won
the hope of getting some points. the Championships.’
Last year’s winners King’s, a much
bigger university, and the Bannister
winners Bart’s both looked strong
and after the first few races we
resigned ourselves to the prospect
of maybe having a chance next
year.

For that reason, what happened
next was more than any of us dared
imagine. Picking up points in races
with few UH athletes and doing well
in the distance races, we somehow
finished with a margin of 13 points
over 2nd placed King’s. We had
won the Championships. Even now
it seems farcical. Our prize was
perhaps the best thing – the 150
year old UH Shield stands at over
a metre tall and has unbelievably
ornate engravings, along with the
inscriptions of teams from many
generations past. It’s now in pride
of place in the university reception,
where it will hopefully remain for a

23


RACE REPORT

The Golden

Season

Veterans Team Manager, Valdis Pauzers, on stunning individual runs and how a team
sometimes has to hunker down and grind out results

Outstanding individual performances this season made up for
team results that were harder to come by. Exemplary individual
performance both in Veterans Cross-country, and this winter’s Indoor
Athletics Championships were highlights of a busy 6 months.

December’s Southern cross country championships saw no team medals,
but Herne Hill’s Ben Paviour outsprinted our own Simon Coombes over
the muddy cold Oxford course to take 2nd M45 place to Simon’s 3rd, but
the game back up of Deron Fagan, Robin Jones, Trevor Chilton and James
Ward was only sufficient for 5th place as a team. Gary Ironmonger, not fully
fit, ‘overcooked’ his start and although leading HHH home in the M50’s
was left in 6th M55 place overall. Meanwhile, Joffah Ratcliffe ran well for
his M50 15th, followed by the welcome return of Vic Maughn and Andrew
Simms. M60’s were represented by myself and Nigel Goodwin, whilst
Helen Hadjam ran excellently to complete the racing red and black hoops
profile. Maybe the unlucky numbered team total of 13 runners was a poor
omen and influence on the day.

Indoor athletics yielded the HHH vets considerably more acclaim in
late winter. Allan Long moved up to the M75 category in the summer of
2017. In late February 2018, at the South of England championships ‘on
the boards’, Allan won three gold medals in the 60 metres (9.06s), Long
Jump (3.87m) and Triple Jump, with an age UK best distance of 8.51m.
Evergreen Allan kept the standard equally competitive at March’s British
Masters Championships winning UK gold and bettering his performances
in the Long Jump (4.06m) and 60 metre sprint (8.93s). It looks like Allan

24


RACE REPORT

‘ Outstanding individual
performances this season’

will have to increase the size of his safe to protect Interest in the indoor scene with HHH masters
all the gold he is accumulating. is on the rise and has been reflected by a series
veterans’ best performances coming from
Not to be outdone, W35 newcomer vet Fiona indoors this winter. Further indoor championship
De Mauny also won 3 golds in the BMAF performances came from club members Mike
Championships of March 10th/11th. First Mann, Tony MacDowall, Andrew Simms and
places in the 400m (60.13s) and 1500m (4m Glen Keegan with the latter two making it their
48.66s) on the Saturday was clearly the perfect indoor racing baptism (read Glen’s own account
preparation for Sunday’s 800m where Fiona of his first outing on the boards).
was first again (2m 16.34s) in a Championship
best performance time. You can read Fiona’s No overview of HHH vets athletics can omit
first-hand account elsewhere in this edition of best wishes from us all for Garry Power’s health
how this was just a springboard from which she and recuperation after his unfortune accident
went on to triumph at the European Masters last summer. Garry has been one of the most
Championships. active athletes, coaches and ambassadors our
club has been fortunate to have as a member,
Gary Ironmonger was now near to full fitness club captain and President. We eagerly await his
to complement his racing guile and he took return to active athletics this summer.
three 1st places in the South of England
championships in the M55 age group at 3000m, Congratulations to all our veteran individuals
1500m and 800m. Gary then raced 1500m who wore the R&B hoops throughout the
(4m 36.11s) and 800m (2m 16.08s) at the winter. (In music terms, we want to see you all
British Masters’ (BMAF) with great racing in rocking). Team efforts, on the other hand, were
both events. Second to world number one Guy stymied by the veterans’ dilemmas of injury,
Bracken in the 1500m, Gary came away with family and work commitments. But we can
gold in the ‘race of the meeting’ M55 800m race. overcome and we shall, as sure as the days are
getting warmer and longer. Team track & field
Giuseppe Minetti flew the flag for our sprinters will dominate the summer, though next winter’s
at the BMAF Championships, also coming up mudlarks (which need rectifying) are not so far
with gold in the M45 200m (24.28s). Simon off. We should be encouraged by the exploits of
Coombes increased our HHH sharp end gold the few, and by our own desire, determination
medal haul with a clever 9m 6.80s 3000 metres and enthusiasm.
win racing the indoor scene he has rarely
frequented. Up the Hill.

25


COLUMN

The London Running Diary of Sven Fartlek, visiting Scandinavian athlete

Skogstokig

Sven Sven is perplexed by some attempts to make the birth of the modern Olympic movement, which
Fartlek athletics modern and appealing made our sport such a global success. We could
revive the tug-of-war, climbing the greasy pole,
Hallå! (Hello!) What a summer. Have you horse and chariot races, throwing the cricket ball
noticed that somebody decided athletics needs and reciting epic poetry (Editors note: these were
to modernise to grow its appeal? When I think of all actual competitions at early Olympic games and
modern, I tend to think of really cool design, like we their direct precursors). Of course we still have
have in Scandinavia. I think of shiny phones with an bowls on ice and horse dancing, but maybe we
App for everything, clean and quiet metro systems need a little more imagination. Where I come from
in cities and those really clever, tiny light bulbs in Scandinavia, on the coastline between Finland
that use virtually no electricity. But when I watch and Sweden, in ancient times we played a game
the international athletics meetings now, being where you had to rescue someone from your village
modern seems to mean letting off some fireworks from the middle of a Labyrinth, but there were trolls
when athletes run onto the track (I worry this has in the Labyrinth, so the stakes were quite high.
health and safety implications), and making them Instead of having your ankles burnt by fireworks,
pose as if they are at a 1970s disco as they are you could be eaten. It would be dangerous but
introduced. I notice the Americans are happy to do excellent training for race tactics and, I guess, good
this, but others look faintly embarrassed (I worry for TV ratings. Or, we could just do the track and
this has personal dignity implications). They say field events and see who wins.
this makes athletics interesting to many people.
But perhaps for inspiration they could go back to Ha en trevlig sommar!

26


COLUMN

Runch

James Ward dips into the and healthy supper can be a challenge, not
goody bag of Tuesday least on Tuesday evenings when I often arrive
night treats, and offers home famished, but short of time to cook.
some recipes full of fishy Over the last couple of years I have, however,
running fuel (vegans stumbled on some quick and easy meals to
and vegetarians look satisfy my cravings, which can be created from
away or select alternate the contents of a staple food cupboard. One
ingredients)… warning though, a common theme of is tinned
fish…
A s a club, Herne Hill Harriers has a fine
refuelling tradition, which anybody who Spaghetti with sardines
has attended a watering hole after a
cross-country race will know. This article was The word sardines probably conjures images
itself conceived over a post-race debriefing in the of your tube journey to work, or a Gallic football
Crooked Billet near Wimbledon Common. Our genius who famously once explained that when
conversations about refuelling are, however, often seagulls follow the trawler it is because they
limited to which combination of water, hops, thought sardines would be thrown into the sea.
yeast and barley or, which drink originating from That, or cat food. Sardines are, however, rich
grape vines we would like next. Food is rarely on in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B2
the menu and when it does appear it is often in which can help energy metabolism. They are
the form of different crisp flavours, chips with red also high in a natural source of marine omega-3
sauce, brown sauce or no sauce at all or, on very fatty acids, which may reduce the occurrence
special occasions, a trip to a curry house.
27
I suspect that Mo Farah does not subsist
on chicken jalfrezi with pilau rice and a naan
bread on the side. As runners, what we eat is
extremely important and good nutrition can
be a key ingredient in the recipe for success.
But finding the time to make a nutritious


“I suspect that
Mo Farah does
not subsist on
chicken jalfrezi
with pilau”

of cardiovascular disease and also lower blood the same nutritional benefits as sardines -
sugar levels, and are a good source of vitamin chopped tinned anchovies. Add some of the
D, calcium, vitamin B12, and protein. That reserved pasta water and cook for a further
small tin is well worth opening after all. minute. Then serve up, sprinkling over lashings
and lashing of freshly grated parmesan cheese
For this tasty supper, whilst the spaghetti and black pepper. Then tuck in. Exquisite.
cooks, heat some olive oil in a pan, add some
garlic and cook for one minutes, Then, add Mackerel and pasta salad with runner
some chilli flakes, tinned tomatoes and the beans
sardines, breaking up the mixture roughly with
a wooden spoon. Heat the sauce for between One thing I have discovered is that mackerel
2 and 3 minutes and stir in some black olives, and runner beans (other beans are available,
capers and some chopped leaf parsley. To but as they are not runners I have discounted
add a little sweetness, throw in a handful of them for the purposes of this article) go rather
sultanas. Drain the spaghetti (reserving a little well together. Who knew?
of the water to loosen the sauce if necessary),
place in a bowl, pour over the sauce and enjoy. So why is mackerel good for us? It fortifies the
Delicious. immune system and supports the functions of
organs that have been weakened by sickness.
Broccoli and Parmesan Linguine As with the other oily fish, its essential fatty
acids improve blood flow by making vessels
Did you know that broccoli was brought to more elastics. It seems to me that this might
England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century be quite good for improving the flow of oxygen
by Peter Scheemakers? A green vegetable of around the body and thus rather useful in
which I am still suspicious even today, broccoli that last half a lap of that most brutal of
is high in vitamins C, D and K. It is also an brutal events, the 800m. Unlike my first two
excellent low calorie food if you are a calorie suggestions, this recipe needn’t involve opening
counter. a tin. Fresh smoked mackerel is relatively
inexpensive and far tastier than the tinned
Cook the linguine (or other pasta of your variety. Cook the pasta and the beans separately
choosing) and while that bubbles away, cook and then toss into a bowl with the flaked
the broccoli. Boiling until tender is one option, mackerel, some pitted black olives and chopped
but more of the essential nutrients will be cherry tomatoes. Make a tangy vinaigrette by
retained if it is steamed. When the linguine and mixing olive oil and lemon juice in a ratio of 3:1
the broccoli are cooked, drain and combine and pour over the salad. Scrumptious.
them in a pan with another oily fish that brings

28


COLUMN

The
Female Triad

Sarah Allen raises awareness of a group of conditions that can affect
women engaged in strenuous aerobic sports

What is the so-called Female Triad? It is Disordered eating ranges from poor dietary
something which affects women who habits to anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a
participate in strenuous aerobic sports, condition which can be influenced by having a
such as running, swimming and cycling. It is made disordered body image, it can in turn cause a
up of amenorrhea, osteoporosis and disordered range of other conditions, such as amenorrhea,
eating. Taking part in such sports does not mean, an inability to concentrate and a slow heart
at all, that a woman will develop any of the above rate. Young women might believe that weight
conditions, but a number of things can increase loss will enhance their sporting performances,
the risks, such as reduced calorie intake, peer and there are many warning signs of an eating
pressure to be ‘thin’, and extreme pressure disorder, which although they don’t necessarily
to succeed, that can come either internally or indicate once and may have a wide range of other
externally from coaches and parents. causes, can include: wide fluctuations in weight,
rapid weight loss, daily vigorous exercise, stress
Amenorrhea is defined as three months without fractures, yellowing of the skin, soft bandy hair on
a menstrual period and is a term used to describe the skin, depression and fatigue.
the conditions of any female who has not begun
their periods by the age of 16 and who undertakes To prevent the triad taking hold there are several
regular and intensive training. preventive measures that can be taken. Coaches
and parents need to be aware of the warning signs,
Osteoporosis can occur due to amenorrhea. Low but intrusive observation regimes, like weigh-ins
oestrogen levels and other hormonal changes, for athletics, should be avoided. If you think that
which accompany amenorrhea, may lead to low you, or someone you are responsible for, might be
bone density which in turn can lead to stress suffering or vulnerable to this group of conditions,
fractures and an increased risk of heart disease, you should seek professional and medical advice.
infertility and ovarian cancer. Osteoporosis is a More information is available from the links below.
reduction in overall mineral density which leads to
adverse changes in the architecture of bones. The For further information see: American College of
bones of the lower back, pelvis and lower limbs Sports Medicines www.acsm.org; Female Athlete
are most vulnerable. Triad Coalition www.femaleathletetriad.org

29


PEOPLE

Taming
the hill

It was the first time since a 1963 run by the great Don Taylor, former British 10,000m
record holder, that a Herne Hill Harriers first claim athlete finished in top 10 of the

senior men’s race of the National Cross Country Championships. Lewis Lloyd gives the
inside account of his epic run over the punishing Parliament Hill course…

Parliament Hill is one of my favourite shorter lap, I just focused on relaxing and turning
places to race. Running there feels a bit my legs over, not worrying too much about
like visiting an old friend, bringing back what other people were doing. It wasn’t until
memories of any number of London Schools partway through the second lap that I realised I’d
Cross Country Championships, and Southern managed to work my way into the top 10.
and National Championships through the age
group ranks. I’ve always liked the first hill, the I suppose at this point I had a moment or two
second hill, the mud - and the fact that most of panic. It’s not every day you find yourself in
people don’t like any of the above. So I woke up the top 10 at the National, and I didn’t want to
on the morning of this year’s National feeling mess it up. I wondered whether I’d gone out
excited. too hard - whether I’d done enough training in
the preceding weeks and months to actually
In a way it was odd to be excited, because hang on. But my legs were ticking over fine, and
my legs had felt awful for most of the preceding although I was on my own, the leading pack
week. I’d dropped out of a (fairly light) session on didn’t seem to be going away from me.
the Tuesday, and had struggled to do much more
than jog on Wednesday and Thursday. I was still Over the course of the second lap, I caught
feeling fairly terrible on Thursday evening, and Chris Olley, who had dropped off the back of
was tempted to give the whole thing a miss. But the front group, and Ollie Fox caught up with
running often seems so random that I couldn’t us. This was weird, because the three of us
rule out having a blinder a couple of days later. I actually know each other. I train with Chris most
decided to take Friday off in one last attempt at Tuesdays, and Ollie is part of my old training
sorting my body out, then just give it a go. group in Cambridge. So the next lap or so felt like
a hard tempo with training buddies rather than a
Looking back at, that week probably served major race.
as a very effective taper. Because, although I
don’t remember that much of the race, what Working together was fun and meant the three
I do remember is feeling good. The start was of us caught Carl Avery, another casualty from
steady, and I didn’t struggle to put myself in the the lead group. But it probably didn’t do much
top 20-30 up the first hill. For the rest of the first, for my racing brain. Where usually I would sit
in, conserving energy for a final sprint finish

30


“I had a moment or two of panic. It’s not
every day you find yourself in the
top 10 at the National”

against strangers or rivals, I frequently found final stretch to secure 7th. Which, frankly, I was
myself taking things on. There were times when delighted with.
I was flagging, of course, but as soon as I felt OK
again I’d hit the front of our little pack, keen to The result was a big step in the right direction
contribute what I could to our combined effort. for me. It hadn’t come out of the blue - finishing
in the top 10 at the National was something I’d
By the time we’d done our final loop of the thought was possible for a while, and at least
tumulus, it seemed I’d burnt my matches. The since coming 22nd at the European Trials in
other two started picking it up as the course Liverpool back in November. But after lots of
headed downhill for the last time, properly ups and downs with injury and illness, it was the
striding out, and I did my best to stick with first time for a number of years that I’d felt near
them. But in the end it was a bit too much for enough where I should be. And I’d like to think
me, and I focused on finishing strongly over the there’s more to come.

31


PEOPLE

Racing
streak…

Entering a new age category isn’t something everyone celebrates, but for Fiona De
Mauny it meant hitting an extraordinary purple patch in performance. After a winning
sweep at the British Masters Championships, she headed to Europe…

There are silver linings to getting older. Not go and watch the racing to get a feel for the stadium.
many, I’ll grant you. But I fell in love with the The electronic start gun was causing havoc, with the
fast-pace feel and intense atmosphere of the starter resorting to simultaneously firing a traditional
boards when I first raced indoors last year. Then, starting pistol for the older and harder of hearing.
suddenly, turning 35 in February, a whole host The track itself is more like a miniature version of a
of new events appeared: area, national and yes, 400m track rather than the near-circular configuration
international championships. Geoff Jerwood, my of British tracks. I found the tight bends and long
coach, and I decided that the European Masters straights suited me nicely – it was much easier to work
Championships in Madrid 2018 were a viable out where you are.
target for the winter season peak.
The obligatory stalking of fellow competitors
A minor injury in late 2017 hampered revealed two athletes that Geoff and I were particularly
preparations and when racing started in January, concerned about: Nina, a 400m specialist, second
a series of frustratingly lacklustre performances quickest on paper, and Maria, in PB form this season,
followed. On the other hand, training results, even with a season’s beat for 800m nearly identical to
in the bitter weather, were suggesting capabilities mine. World Masters Athletics (WMA) progression
much closer to what we wanted. Nevertheless, rules specify a nine person final: from two heats,
I would be going into the championships with a that’s two first finishers plus five fastest losers. On
season’s best that was four seconds slower than the basis of Nina’s 400m preference and Maria’s
expected, having to trust that the training results comparative lack of experience, we decided that
were realistic and that the taper would work its the strategy for the heats was to run fast, hoping
magic. to make use of my potentially better recovery for
consecutive races. However, when start lists were
It was very strange running my last major published, neither Maria nor Nina were in my heat,
sharpening session in a blizzard before flying so a controlled win was the final plan. Once into my
to Madrid on a heavily delayed flight, followed warm-up routine I felt fairly relaxed. Still, once the gun
the next day by a sun-soaked last session at the fired, the adrenaline carried me off and by the break
training track, feeling speedy and relaxed. I was already well clear. That was surreal for me, with
my famed slow start! With a good gap established
On the first day of competition, Chris, my
husband, and I abandoned our plans thanks to a
moderate accompaniment of rain, and decided to

32


by 200m, the second half of the race felt almost the last 200m felt so strong. Rounding into the
like a tempo run, with a comfortable five second home straight I allowed myself a grin, crossing
winning margin at 2m21s. I stayed on the track the line victorious with (as it turns out) one of the
to watch the second heat, which was slow, with most awkward looking victory salutes ever. Note to
athletes simply doing enough to dip inside the fairly self- look UP. With no idea of my final time, I was
pedestrian qualifying time needed. So far, so good. thrilled to see the clock at 2:12.28. Right where we
wanted and an indoor PB.
For the final, Geoff and I decided to bet on our
instinct that I was capable of significantly lowering After a quick jog, it was over to the presentations
my current season’s best (gulp). The plan: take it tent for the medals ceremony. The previous race
out hard and drop them one by one. I was much had been a clean sweep for the Spanish, following
more nervous with this strategy; without the results on from a Spanish gold for Olympian Mayte
to back up this assumption, the pressure and fear Martinez, and there was a festival atmosphere.
level was intense. Again, I flew off the line, but this Standing on the podium with the National Anthem
time I wasn’t leading at the break. A little injection playing was awesome, but crossing the line was
of speed to ensure I took the lead at 100m led the most amazing experience.
to a fast first 200m and good race rhythm. I
could sense that there were still athletes with me I have to thank Geoff so much for his coaching
at 400m, but I was starting to gain confidence and strategies, and Chris for putting up with my
knowing that I was running faster than the others neuroses and sacrificing a week’s holiday, and to
had ever run before. Gradually, I broke free and the other British athletes for their support. Next
up, some PB chasing, and then the World Masters
outdoors in Malaga in September.

33


REVIEW

Angry ... with reason

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, by Alan Sillitoe
(published 1959 by W H Allen)

Gary Ironmonger takes the long view on a literary classic
about running and much more…

W riting a review of the Loneliness of if Smith had worn earphones he would only have
the Long-Distance Runner shouldn’t been capable of sharing his playlist and how it
normally be a job you give to an 800m helped him run. Fortunately for us, in the fifties
runner. However, in this case the 800m runner is the most portable equipment for playing recorded
northern and working-class which makes it seem music probably required two people to carry
appropriate. it even short distances, so Smith didn’t have
anything to distract from his thoughts on running
Alan Sillitoe was one of a group of writers or life.
described as the ‘Angry Young Men’. The genre
took its name from the main characters in the Smith describes the positive sides of long
novels who were, by and large, angry young training runs. Experiences all middle and long-
working-class men who wouldn’t bow down to distance runners will have had. The feeling of
the system. A number of these novels alongside freedom as you move along especially when
others involving social realism, a genre focused on you are running on open land, which we get to
working class life, were made into films in the late experience on the commons and in the parks of
1950’s and early 1960’s. Consequently, it became South London. How the body springs into life as
cool to be a working-class northerner in artistic the run progresses, the feeling of invincibility that
circles at this time. However, being born in 1961, I comes once you get into a good rhythm. Runners
missed all this thanks to being a small child. will also identify with the feelings he expresses in
the race, the physical highs and lows as the race
The book introduces us to the main character unfolds, and the author brings the main thread of
‘Smith’ and his incarceration in a Borstal. He the story to a conclusion.
starts by pointing out the irony of having long
distance runners trapped at Borstal, and uses Although running plays a key role in developing
this to establish that it would be pointless to use Sillitoe’s story, there is no doubt that the book
the temporary freedom running brings to escape is about the class-based society we live in, and
because, inevitably, you would get caught and the irreconcilable nature of those classes. This
‘that would be a mug’s game’. irreconcilability is a constant theme throughout
the book. Smith isn’t a hero in any conventional
The narrative unfolds as Smith recalls his life sense, which is why he ended up in Borstal. Like
and times during long training sessions. These a lot of Sillitoe’s characters, he has many flaws,
sessions enable him to feel alive as he speeds his the most obvious being that he is unreliable and
way through the countryside. More importantly, a petty criminal. His mother has as many flaws as
they set him free to think and tell us his story. her son. However, through the story he tells of his
Ironically this brings us on to a modern discussion father, we get to see an honest worker although
amongst older runners, which is whether you one who is crushed by the demands of the
should wear earphones when out running. Clearly,

34


REVIEW

industrial world he inhabits. Farah’s next steps
The governor of the Borstal on the other hand
Twin Ambitions, by Mo Farah (published
is clearly upper middle class and suffers the 2013, Hodder & Stoughton)
associated shortcomings. Just like Smith he is
a prisoner of his class, which leads to his stilted Stacy Wheat looks into Mo Farah’s
vision and personal desires. Smith recognises extraordinary life story as he makes
these and fights against them in the only way the transition from track running to
he knows how, which only becomes apparent unforgiving marathons
towards the end of the book.
T I don’t need to begin this review by
Alan Sillitoe said that ‘I can’t speak for the explaining who the running legend, Mo
working classes, only individuals’. However, in this Farah, is. He’s the first British man to
book he appears to speak for the working classes achieve Gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m at
through the story of an individual. Like many of two successive Olympic games, as well as the
the ‘angry young men’ novels, it is a good read for 2013 and 2015 World Championships, a feat
anyone interested in social history in the second described as the ‘quadruple-double’.
half of the twentieth century, and the problems
highlighted are not only still with us today but in But do we really know who Mo Farah is? His
many respects worse. For me this book is made autobiography takes us back to his childhood and
more enjoyable by not only covering the social offers a detailed account of how a young refugee
issues of the day but doing so using running as from Somalia became one of Britain’s most
the means to deliver the story. famous and decorated athletes.

“The feeling Farah moved to London at the age of 8
of freedom as speaking barely a word of English. He attended
you move along school in Feltham alongside his cousin, Mahad.
especially when
you are running 35
on open land,
which we get to
experience on
the commons
and in the
parks of South
London. ”


REVIEW

Farah’s language difficulties and dyslexia meant questioned his decision, being 17 months before
that life was pretty tough in the early days. He the London Olympic games, but Farah believed
was often found scrapping with other kids and the change could give him the extra 1 or 2
being disruptive in class. Fortunately his PE percent needed to become Olympic champion.
teacher, Alan Watkinson, saw the natural talent
Farah had in athletics and managed to persuade Moving away from running Farah also opens
him to join the Borough of Hounslow Athletics up about his relationship with his childhood
Club. As Farah improved in athletics so did his sweetheart Tania and the unbreakable bond he
school life, the other kids started to respect has with his stepdaughter Rhianna. The pair
him and he began to flourish. During PE one married in 2010 where Farah’s former PE teacher,
afternoon the class was asked to run cross- Alan Watkinson, was given the honour of being
country or, as it happens in most schools, 2 laps best man; demonstrating the appreciation Farah
of the field. The faster kids ran this in around 9 had for Watkinson’s dedicated support in his
minutes whereas Farah completed it in 6 or 7 younger days.
minutes. When the lesson was over the Head of
PE rounded up the kids and said “Right you lot, His move to the marathon makes sense when
get your diaries out, not you Mo”. Farah stood you read about how great a fan of road running
there scratching his head wondering what was he is and how, as his time on the track has come
going on, then his teacher said “Mo is going to to an end, it’s the next obvious step. He knows
sign all of your diaries, keep them safe because he has a lot to learn but is willing to commit to
they’ll be worth something in the future. Mo is it in the same when he has the track. He was
going to be star.” I wonder what they’re worth upset about the press reaction in the year when
now? he ran half of the London marathon, having done
so purely as a training exercise and to try and
As the book goes on Farah takes you on his learn the course for when he did the real thing.
journey to Olympic gold where he pinpoints the Apparently its common for athletes do this, but
critical moments in his career that helped him Farah was criticised.
become the much-loved man we know today. In
2005, for 18 months, Farah trained and lived with Whatever you think of Mo Farah, the book
a group of Kenyan athletes. He describes living is worth a reading. From a challenging start,
among them as an eye opening experience. Farah he’s had a fascinating life and his warm, playful
copied everything they did, he trained when they personality shines through its pages. If he’s not
trained, slept when they slept and ate what they your cup of tea you may still find some decent
ate. During down time the Kenyan’s didn’t go out training tips. It’s an easy read, and a good one
on the town or play Pro Evo (I’m speaking for for the commute or post Sunday long run period.
Mo here) they gathered around the TV to watch Be sure to buy the updated version with the extra
old race videos; they studied exactly what their chapter about the Rio 2016 Olympics.
competition was doing to give them the edge on
race day. “Farah takes you on

From here Farah had a testing number of years his journey to Olympic
where training just didn’t feel right. He even
decided to ‘go it alone’ for a while, but that was gold where he pinpoints
never going to be a long-term strategy. In 2011
Farah independently made the brave decision the critical moments in
to leave his long-time coach, Alan Storey, and
move to the USA to join The Nike Oregon project his career”
to begin training under Alberto Salazar. Many

36


REVIEW

From the Four Minute Mile to
the Two Hour Marathon

Andrew Simms and Gavern Newsum on a man, Roger Bannister, and a record, the four
minute mile, that defined a generation, and the looming, outstanding challenge of
physical endurance that is the two hour marathon…

‘TFour minutes research scientist and diligent, committed sports
he great Roger Bannister left us this administrator, hid another side to the man who
year, but his legacy and challenge to achieved what many then thought impossible.
make sport accessible to all is very much
alive. Highly strung bordering-on neurotic was In his recent autobiography, Twin Tracks (2014)
an impression Bannister could convey in his Bannister revealed that running for him went far
brief but momentous running career. On the deeper than the pursuit of records. It was a primal
day he became the first man to break the four way of connecting with the world and being fully
minute mile, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, alive within it, something that runners of any
who paced him to the feat were almost driven ability might experience. He begins his account of
to distraction by Bannister’s indecision about his life with this scene:
whether to make the attempt. Bannister fretted
over whether the conditions were right, deciding “I remember vividly a moment as a child when
only at the last moment to run. But that, and how I stood barefoot on firm dry sand by the sea. The
he spent much of his life as both a hyper-rational air had a special quality. The sound of breakers
on the shore shot out all others. I looked up
at the clouds, like great white-sailed galleons,

37


chasing proudly inland. I looked down at the only four multi-purpose sports centres in the
regular ripples on the sand and could not absorb country. When Bannister retired as chairman in
so much beauty. I was taken aback - each of the 1974 there were 400 in planning, and a 1,000
myriad particles of sand was perfect in its way. I ten years later. He had been part of a ‘revolution
looked more closely, hoping perhaps that my eyes in meeting ordinary people’s hopes of a fairer
might detect some flaw. But for once there was chance in sport’. But the path of revolutions is
nothing to detract from this feeling of closeness often not one of straightforward progress. In The
to nature. In this supreme moment I leapt in Games (2016), David Goldblatt’s sweeping and
sheer joy and started to run. I was startled and detailed history of the Olympics (reviewed in the
frightened by the tremendous excitement that so
few steps could create. I glanced around uneasily
to see if anyone was watching. A few more steps
- self-consciously now and firmly gripping the
original excitement. I was running now, and a
fresh rhythm entered my body. I was not longer
conscious of my movement. I discovered a new
unity with nature.”

Bannister was fiercely competitive, and
undoubtedly proud of his achievement and the
grateful for the doors it opened for him in life.
But he was prouder still of his contributions to
medical science and sports administration. He
was passionately committed to the benefits of
mass participation in sport and acutely aware
too much concentration on elite achievement
and sports infrastructure not only fails to deliver,
but might even block wider involvement. He was
happy to play his role of eminent figurehead for
athletics up to and beyond the 2012 London
Olympics, but equally aware that such jamborees
did little to turn the tide of the social and
economic trends driving inactivity, rising obesity
and the loss of facilities from school sports
fields to the demolition of Sheffield’s Don Valley
Stadium where Jessica Ennis learned her Olympic
heptathlon trade.

Driven both by his own pleasure in sport, and
a medical awareness of the rising problem of
childhood obesity Bannister thought there was
a ‘major public interest’ in ensuring that both
children and adults had more opportunity to take
part in sport. He was put in charge of a research
programme to identify where the greatest lack
of resources were, and became central to the
creation of the independent Sports Council and
its first head. When it was first formed there were

38


next edition of Red&Black), research on mega- Finland, is reductions in overall inequality and
events like the Sydney and London Olympics, and long-term investment in local level micro-projects.
the Manchester Commonwealth Games, reveals It might be less glamorous, perhaps, but proves
their strict limitations. Spending on ‘high-end far more successful. Not only does Bannister’s
infrastructure’ and televised spectaculars doesn’t era-defining sporting legacy still live with us,
help reverse the slide to sedentary lifestyles and but his insights and recommendations remain
associated health crises. What has been proven startlingly relevant with the power to save and
to work, however, in terms of increasing activity transform lives.
and reducing obesity, in countries like Japan and
Andrew Simms

39


RTwo hours all-time marathons & the past 4 record holders
oger Bannister and his friends set an being Adidas athletes. Scotsman Andy Barr
example of not accepting seemingly designed Gebrselassie’s shoe for his world record
unbreakable barriers, but to plan and in 2008 & had been principal in the creation of
organise to try to smash through them. On May the shoes used by Makau to break the record
6th 2017, the 63rd anniversary of Bannister’s in 2011. That summer, Barr suggested Adidas
great run, sportswear behemoth Nike made an should concentrate its efforts on secretly trying
audacious attempt to facilitate a new entry to to break 2 hours, largely not to alert & encourage
the record books; over the marathon distance competitors such as Nike. As it happens it
to break the two hour barrier. The three Nike became public knowledge in late 2013 that Nike
sponsored athletes selected were Lelisa Desisa, was working on its own “sub-two” shoe. Though
the Half Marathon world record holder, Zersenay it wasn’t till December 2016 that Nike started to
Tadese & of course Eliud Kipchoge. The latter release details publicly, saying the planning of this
probably needs the least introduction as Olympic specific wave of the project was one and a half
Champion & winner of 7 Big City Marathons. years in the making.

Sceptics suggested ‘Breaking 2’ was going too Notably, Kenenisa Bekele wore Nike’s Vaporfly
far, too soon, given that Dennis Kimetto’s World Elite last year in London, where he was favourite
Record has stood at 02:02:57 since September to win, without Kipchoge on the start line. Bekele
2014. Cynics cite how over the last 15 years, very publicly criticised the shoes for causing him
all these Berlin set records have only nibbled blisters and pain, causing him to slow and change
away at the world record. In this period it has his style, affecting his balance between 15 - 20
been reduced by ‘just’ 2 minutes, despite all the km. Despite feeling better and rallying he was
advances in trainer technology. But going back unable to reel in last year’s winner Daniel Wanjiru,
some 20 years from now the World Record was 4 running in a pair of Adidas shoes. The biggest
minutes slower. Sports companies of course don’t like to associate
themselves with ‘failure’, so Nike looked to
At the heart of all good challenges is a optimise and control as many factors in breaking
sporting rivalry – not just between athletes, but two hours; even if it disqualified the attempt
sportswear multinationals with their eyes on from being a ratified world record. One of the
market dominance and profit. Kimetto, along with key marginal gains would be allowing coaching
Wilson Kipsang are Adidas sponsored athletes. staff to pedal alongside, with motivation & drinks
In fact Adidas ‘owns’ 7 of the top 10 fastest

40


whenever needed. stood for over 15 years. Part of the reason
Just outside Milan, Monza is low altitude with Radcliffe could improve her women’s only record
by three and a half minutes the next year at
protection from the wind, and said to be at an London was because she had male runners
optimum temperature; in early May at least. On pacing her. The women’s only record was set on
the day itself it was about 55 degrees and a bit her debut and in most cases one expects some
too humid. Ideal conditions would be below 50 improvement based on experience gained, but
or 40. Crucially the Race Track is pancake–flat the psychological and physical benefits of having
asphalt with gentle curves & no sharp turns. A others around you are clear.
race car with a giant time display and projected
finish time on its roof, is not too dissimilar to a Perhaps the standard pacing model for the
standard marathon. An arrowhead formation of men’s race needs freshening if pacers inevitably
rotating pacers followed a lasered grid marking have to bow out at the business end. Winning
the shortest line; whereas the reality of the blue marathons and breaking world records is big
line in City marathons is that more distance tends business and highly competitive. Could there
to be run. organically be a group of top class athletes who
are happy to sacrifice their own chances of
There are parallels with the relatively winning for ‘the greater good’, by collaborating &
controversial pacing system employed by pacing a friend, countryman, or fellow sportswear
Chataway and Brasher for Bannister, when in sponsored athlete?
theory they should have been competing against
him. Whilst Bannister collapsed, over the line, his Ed Caesar’s book, Two Hours: The Quest To
pacers were trailing a long way back and in no fit Run The Impossible Marathon (2015), noted that a
state to finish strongly. At least running the same combination of genetics and socioeconomic factors
distance their pacing was perhaps more within had created the right conditions for the dominance
the spirit of pacing than dropping in and out of East African marathoners. Focussing on the
teams of pacers. history and recent developments, his book covers
multiple theories concluding that what he calls
Adharanand Finn likened running in a pack Sport’s Everest can indeed be conquered but there
to a magic string tying you together and pulling is wide disagreement about when. He thought not
you along. As well as the camaraderie and until 2020-25.
competitiveness, less wind resistance can be
vital. It causes surprise to a lot of people that 41
Paula Radcliffe’s marathon world record has


“Marathon is life. It’s confidence. But our middle aged, often slightly
podgy, white male, ‘endurance experts’, are
not about the legs but happy to point fingers around: “Lelisa has an
engine but he needs to do more intervals at high
it’s about the heart and speed.” “Zersenay needs to do more distance
work. More volume.” They seemingly cannot
mind. Go beyond human offer any constructive training tips to Kipchoge;
which in some ways is comforting. Perhaps telling
limitation.” us what we had deduced from the start of the
project, that it was only Kipchoge of the 3 that
Caesar’s acquired knowledge and credibility in had the credentials to have a serious crack at two
this area encouraged Nike to step things up and hours.
award him unprecedented access to the whole
‘Breaking 2’ team. The anaesthesiologist, Mike Whilst Desisa is doing 8 x 1200m reps it is
Joyner, featured in Ceasar’s book, and his 1991 noted his lactate turn point is at 20.5 km/h and
medical research paper asserted that “given not as high as the determined 21.1 race pace.
ideal conditions, and the ideal runner,” a 1:57:58 What was staggering, is that it emerges Tadese
marathon was scientifically possible. Though this never drinks anything when running. The experts’
was based on finding a supreme athlete, with top tip is to do just that and I’m still trying to work
maximal oxygen uptake, and the best lactate out if Tadese was paid to look surprised and
threshold and running economy. There was even impressed with this basic advice?
a Sub2hrProject, launched from Newcastle in
December 2014 with the aim of making it happen Brought up by his mother & put to work on the
by the end of 2019. Led by Professor Yannis farm from the age of five, Kipchoge is well versed
Pitsiladis they built a website, but the project in hard work, discipline, mental toughness &
appears to have “hit the wall” and in the face of steely determination. He says he never complains
Nike’s efforts, not attracted enough funding. and you believe him. He acknowledges the
pressure and need to keep calm, just as anyone
The film itself, Breaking 2, feels like a space would ahead of a target race. He comes across
race. The epic opening builds like a rocket as incredibly humble, with his medals just hung
launch. The camera sweeps above the 11.5 up on a rail in the kitchen; compared with those
mile Formula 1 race circuit at 3:45 am, as we footballers who have specially built display rooms.
hear race radio; “2 hours till Race Time!” Our Kipchoge prepares meticulously and would be
three athletes, Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa & well aware what it means to run seven seconds
Zersenay Tadese are shown, eating breakfast, quicker per mile than Kimetto did. There are
heading to the start, looking every bit as nervous many thoughts online about how much of that
as an amateur might be. Regardless of the end needed 2.4 percent improvement would be down
result, the unique circumstances ensure insights to the athlete and how much to the optimising
can be gleaned for future attempts. Whatever factors. In our endless quest to push human and
your opinion of the attempt you will learn scientific limits, it’s inspiring to hear Kipchoge’s
something and be absorbed throughout. appreciation of what he does.

The East African landscapes are beautifully As many of us look forward to running
shot & the eclectic catchy music punctuates the marathons, with our own relative targets, spare
shots of the athletes in their homes & training a thought for Eliud Kipchoge who again has
environments. The documentary takes us back the pressure of winning as fast as he can. And
six months, with the initial testing of the three that two hour peak still sits there, waiting to be
athletes. The team of PhD Physiologists, charged conquered.
with making it happen, are discussing how
possible they think it will be. With two months Gavern Newsum
to go a Half Marathon test event would provide
some answers. Overwhelmingly Kipchoge and
to a lesser extent Tadese inspired the most

42


The mother of ultras

Flanagan’s Run (originally published 1982, re-released in 2014 by
Sandstone Press to coincide with Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games)

James Ward revisits a classic which uses running to look
at a society in crisis

On paper, it sounds like the craziest idea: desire to make it through the hard times to New
a foot race across America covering York, our heroes are often drawn into some of the
3,000 miles, starting in California and hair-brained schemes devised by an increasingly
ending in Madison Square Garden, New York impecunious Flanagan in a desperate bid to keep
and lasting over two months at the height of the show on the round, determined to exploit the
the Great Depression. Yet this was precisely novelty and fame of the Trans-Americans in their
the feat attempted in 1928 when a get-rich- tristes with crooked officials and shady mobsters.
quick sports promoter by the name of Charles Their different stories, ambitions and dreams
C. Pyle sponsored this most unlikely enterprise. converge through a shared determination which
The Great Bunion Derby, as the race became inspires you to push on to the finishing line.
known, was nothing to do with chiropodists,
though, as 199 runners, including a team of Hitler This is partly a testosterone-fuelled tale,
Youth intent on proving the prowess of Aryan dominated by male protagonists. But there is a
supremacy, pounded across a continent, weaving female heroine, who more than holds her own
their way through Las Vegas, the Rockies, Route against her male counterparts. The book is set,
66 and a Chicago under the control of famous after all, in a bygone era when the longest race
tax-dodger, Al Capone. Implausibly, it captured contested by women in the Olympics was the
the imagination of the American public who 800m (even then the inaugural race had taken
flocked for a sight of the Trans-Americans when place only in the 1928 games in Amsterdam and
they came to pass through their part of town. was deceitfully exploited as evidence against
widening women’s participation). It would still be
So taken was the Scottish author (and coach over half a century before the women’s marathon
at both Summer and Winter Olympic Games) would make its debut at the 1984 Los Angeles
Tom McNab by this running treasure that he games. McNab, on the other hand, recognised
chose it as the inspiration for his debut novel in that women have always possessed the same
1982. ‘Flanagan’s Run’ charts the journey of over capability to cover long distances as men. It
2,000 runners from around the world gathered is book that will keep you gripped, it is about
together in 1931 by the fictitious Irishman Charles running after all, and the last sentence will make
C. Flanagan to participate in the gruelling trek you smile.
through the mountains, deserts, plains, and cities
in pursuit of a first prize of $150,000. 43

The focus of the narrative is a small but eclectic
group of contestants who forge ever closer bonds
and friendships as their own personal challenges
unfold. United by a camaraderie and unwavering


How many

park runners?

Steve Bosely describes the fruitful relationship between
Parkrun and athletics clubs, and exactly what’s involved in
herding 600 plus runners early on a Saturday morning…
The Club has embraced the parkrun phenomenon over the
years having good links with Brockwell and Tooting Parkruns.
We have twice been invited to take over the 5km weekly runs
on Tooting Bec Common giving us a chance to promote the
club to the local running community. Whilst scorned by some
traditionalists the 5km runs every Saturday morning at 9.00am
offer the opportunity for runners to fine-tune preparations for
bigger events, gauge returns from injury and provide a guide to
a newcomer’s ability & potential. New club record holder Chloe
Tighe was first spotted at an early Tooting Bec parkrun, before
going on to become an invaluable member of the club (and
bronze medallist in the last Australian national championships).
Tooting parkrun is only two years old but is already in the top
ten most popular parkruns in the country, averaging over 500
finishers most weeks.

We arranged club handovers in Autumn and Spring which
gave us the opportunity to meet new people, offer parkrun
support, and publicize our future events. We provided
volunteer marshalls, finishing officials, bar code scanners and
timekeepers as well as pacers over varying times – something
normally associated with half marathons and marathons. In
each takeover we have had over twenty runners from the club.
For the later parkrun which attracted over 600 finishers, we
provided 12-15 pacers from 18 mins to over 30 mins and, as
a result, several runners came down to the track in following
weeks to join in with our sessions with several subsequently
joining the club.

With so many runners concentrated in such a short space
of time it is a huge task but with lots of benefits for everyone,
so please look out for announcements of our next parkrun
takeover and if you can volunteer some time on a Saturday
morning it will give us a chance to raise awareness of the
club, create a bigger supportive community of runners and
demonstrate how club athletics can help develop everyone’s
abilities.

www.hernehillharriers.org


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