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Birmingham International Marathon - Sunday 15 October

A week after my double Barrow and time for the inaugural Birmingham International marathon, which meant as far as I could tell they had people enter from places like Dudley. The organisation and route need improving. The start of the race at 8.30am was too early for those travelling to the event on the day from further afield. I had to leave home at 5.15am to get to the 7am bus pick up. We arrived at the stadium 10 mins later and then had to wait outside for 1hr 20 for the start. †Far too early. They did have a second wave starting an hour later, which I later learned was for those with a slower predicted finish time. The first section of the course was undulating along a duel carriageway involving under and over passes. At around mile mile 7 we started a large loop, which we returned to at around 15 1/2 miles and had to run it again. The major problem with the second loop, was we joined into the throng of the second wave and instantly the road became awash with runners who were running slower than I was. In places the road became very narrow for sections and it was hard to overtake. If you were running around 3.30-3.45 pace you would probably miss the main pack, but I wasnít and hit it full on. †The second wave needs to start 90 mins later or lose the double loop. It was a little dull doing it twice, through an area that wasn't that nice. This was probably the worst designed section of a race I have been in. There were some ok sections in the race and the finish was quite nice in the city centre. There was a lot of support on the course which was good and a lot of runners at the end, as the half marathon started at 1.30pm which was an odd time, presumably to get the marathon runners out of the way.

Paul Owen - 3:57:36

Great Barrow Marathon Challenge - Sat/Sunday 7/8 October

Almost stepping off the plane from Florida and running a double marathon weekend wasnít, with hindsight, the best of plans. The Barrow events area based in Suffolk and use a variety of routes including trail, road and a mix of both. The two weekend races were both on tarmac and consequently were a little duller than normal. Mark Rouse was too unwell to run and Paul Barton went finishing instead on day one, so I was on my own and ran both races with just me, myself and I for company. I felt tired and jet lagged on day one, but by day two it hit me badly. I was shattered and should have stayed in bed, but Iím on a mission to get to the 100 and that got me there. As a result, day two was a lot slower and I was so far back, even the race director asked me at one point if I was ok! These events are low key, reasonably priced at about £30, nice medals with lots of checkpoints stocked with food and water (4 on day one and 5 on day two). They probably appeal to the more seasoned marathon runners who are looking for quieter events than the often over priced big city runs but there was a first time marathon runner at one of the events.

Paul Owen - 4:36:45 & 5:34:36

Chester Marathon - Sunday 8 October

This was the 4th time I have run the Chester marathon (and the last, promise). They also offer a metric option (26.2km) for those not wanting to run the full, an offer that was taken up by my wife Lorraine. A well organised event on a scenic route taking in part of Wales. There were a few hills on what is an undulating course, most notably just before miles 5, 16 and again at mile 24. I trained hoping to dip under 3.20 and was chuffed to finish in 3:19:45 (according to the official results). Lorraine ran the furthest she has EVER run in her life. She never stopped and finished with a smile on her face (quite possible a grimace) in a time of 3.06.20 which was a fantastic achievement. To celebrate we had a post marathon roast (dinner that is).

Many thanks to all the support received from my fellow flyers both during the 4 months of training and the post marathon messages. When I joined the club back in 2011 I was tipping the scales at just under 16 stone (all muscle probably) and could barley manage 5k. Fast forward 6 years and I have clocked times/distances I never thought achievable.

Philip Horan

MK (NSPCC) Half Marathon - Sunday 24 September

A 2 lap event, billed as flat, the organisers clearly lied. It was also an unexpectedly warm day but despite the heat, I set of to run somewhere around the 1:30 mark. My pacing turned out well so rather chuffed with the end result of a cheeky PB. The route wasn't as exactly billed and I couldn't find cake anywhere but not a bad event overall. Roll on Standalone.

Scott Huntley - 1:27:58 (PB)

ROC Mountain Marathon - Sat/Sunday 23/24 September

I persuaded Jo to join me only a couple of weeks before this event as my original partner dropped out and I had already done a stupidly tough solo mountain marathon in July and didn't fancy another one (own worst enemy and all that). Anyone who runs with Jo will be aware that she doesn't do long distances so she did amazingly well to cover approximately a full marathon plus 1780m of climb over the two days on the fells on no training. This year's venue was South West Lakes near Broughton in Furness - not that we saw much scenery on day one as visibility was down to a few metres most of the time on the fell tops. Surprised myself with how accurate my navigation was given we were running on bearings on featureless bogs and fells. Day two was very different, with excellent visibility so I let Jo loose with the map and compass, and we still didn't get lost. No arguments or sense of humour failures at all though I know Jo was finding it tough going towards the finish, but we were still smiling when we crossed the line.

I had agreed we would aim to complete, not compete, so pretty chuffed with fourth in our class (which was won by Jasmin Paris, Britain's greatest female ultra/fell runner, and her mum - so in some pretty elite company!)

Caroline Gilby/Jo Aatkar Short Score 480 pts 4th FV team

Leighton Buzzard 10M (Club Champs) - Sunday 17-September

As a creature habit I tend to do the same races every year and the Leighton 10 is no different, it's a great local gutsy hilly race, after my Ironman only 7 days prior it was going to make it even more of a challenge but I tend to recover very quickly and I felt ok going into the race. I loved the race and kept a steady pace throughout and it was soon over. Happy to say my efforts were rewarded with 1st in age group and 1st county age group champ. My wife debs also came 1st in age group so happy family travelling home.

There were some impressive performances amoungst the AFF Ian Halpin and Richard Gale making great personal improvements. Paul farmer making easy work of the race and earning club champ. Well done all flyers who ran.

Martin Beare

Bob Graham Round - Sat/Sunday 11/12 September

In 1932 a certain Bob Graham set the record for most Lakeland fells covered in 24 hours. Whilst the record has risen over time, the Bob Graham round has become an iconic challenge covering 72 miles, 27000 feet of climbing and 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District. To become a member of the Bob Graham 24 hour Club you simply have to start from Keswick, do the round (with someone with you at all times) and get back within 24 hours. So far about 2200 people have achieved that and my objective was to join the club.

I have done a few races up in that area but did not know the full route too well. Rather than spending some months, reconnoitring the route, I had enlisted the help of a mountain guide and runner, Charlie Sproson in order to just turn up and do it. However, three days beforehand Charlie suggested I postpone as the weather had been and was forecast to be very wet and windy. Foolishly I decided to go ahead anyway.

The two of us set off on Monday night at 7.35pm and soon found that conditions were going to be tough Ė high winds on Skiddaw, knee deep bogs and rivers on Great Calva and wet rock on the descent from Blencathra. However we completed the first section in 4 hours (on schedule) and had a top up of food and drink from the back of a car (the route crosses four roads and my son and his girlfriend were our roving support crew). The second section heading south over the Dodds and Helvellyn is the most difficult section mentally as your body knows it should be tucked up in bed rather than stumbling around in the middle of the night with 3m of visibility. However 12 peaks and 4 Ĺ hours later after some Jedi-like navigation from Charlie we dropped down to our second road crossing for more food/drink.

We continued onwards and upwards, though the bogs to the Langdale pikes (dawn at last) and onto the rocky section from Bowfell, along to Scafell and down to Wasdale. However, by this stage conditions under foot were taking their toll and I was half an hour behind schedule and struggling with my nutrition. Charlie passed the baton to Dale Colclough who now took over the pacing and navigation as we climbed up Yewbarrow and around the skyline towards Steeple. At this stage the wind and rain became more intense and this made it a bit more difficult to claw the time back. As we reached our final road crossing at Honistor I was an hour behind schedule and had no chance of getting back inside 24 hours. However, we decided to grind out the full course albeit in a time that was slower than planned.

As per normal in this kind of event, I ended up losing a few toe nails and gaining a bit of hypothermia but was pleased with the outcome given the conditions. I may go back for another attempt at sub 24 hours Ė but only if the weather is going to be kind!

Phil Wolstencroft 26:05

Farnham Pilgim marathon Ė Sunday 10 September

Day 710 of my running streak and it was the turn of Farnham Pilgrim for my 21st marathon of the year and 81st overall. Getting excited now as I'm in the teens and counting down to the 100. The race was in Surrey Hills which is an area of outstanding beauty, just like my running partner Mark Rouse. The organisers said it was going to be hilly and tough and they didn't disappoint. Early on Mark said we are heading up Marthas passage, which wasn't something I was expecting on a checkpoint. Normally its sweets and water, but it was Surrey and they are a close knit bunch down there. Turns out Marthas passage was a steep trail and it was closed, so we headed up another even steeper trail. Mind you at the top it was worth it, as the vista at the top was outstanding. The race was probably 90% on trail with the concrete sections on the whole very quiet and spread out. We kept the pace steady in the first half, which was fortunate as it became a roll coaster in the second, but a nice one at that.

There were more marshals, race photographers and waters stops on the course than in any other race I have ever done. The route was as a result very easy to follow and we did the lot without any instructions. We took it easy and walked all the steep hills - no real choice - which meant at the end we were both still full of running, overtaking loads with mile 25 being the fastest of the race apparently. The secret racer than is Mr Rouse picked the pace up as we turned into the filed for the finish and before I knew it, the sly old dog was off without a word. He had a good ten feet on me before I realised and I pressed the button and tried to catch him up, which brought a photo finish and cheers from the crowd. We ended up with the exact same chip time, but in the photo finish my belly just pipped Marks slender torso and the organisers put me in the official results before Mark. Who would have thought 21 marathons and the biggest problem Iím having is Iím putting weight on? Still, worked to my advantage in this one lol. Top race and one well worth doing next year for the views alone.

Paul Owen

Ironman, Wales - Sunday 10 September

I chose this race as my qualifying event in an attempt to get to the world Ironman championships in kona Hawaii. The process is quite demanding as you have to finish 1st or 2nd in your age group with a healthy amount of athletes in each group. I picked Wales as it's the toughest course in the world and suits my style of racing and my body size and power to weight ratio. However race day threw an even bigger challenge the weather, it rained heavily for much of the bike but the biggest challenge was the high winds gusting 55mph at times and in addition to the wet slippery roads made it very dangerous at times. After 112 miles of Welsh hills I was relieved to get off that bike in one piece. The marathons was equally hilly but I had a job to do and that motivated me to plot out a 3.40 marathon which thankfully was good enough for me to get the win, my splits where supplied by Richard Jones who then fed this to my debs who in turn shouted them to me on each lap, the plan worked a treat and I went from 7th to 1st on that marathon.

This result was a dream come true as it's a triathletes goal to get to Kona in Hawaii the home of triathlon. I have now got my place in the World `Ironman championships in 2018. One happy chappy.

Massive thanks to my wife debs for all the help and support and caring for all my needs thought training and race day and putting up with my mood swings on days leading up to race day as I always feel the pressure I put on myself. I had hundreds of messages before and after the race which I was so touched by thank you to everyone's support I am so grateful and lucky.

As my triathlon season has now finished I am looking forward getting back to running and catching up with all my mates at the mighty AFF.

Martin Beare - 11:58:30 1st M55-59

Bedford Marathon - Saturday 2 Sep

I entered this half as prep for my goal race which is the Chester Marathon on October 8th. John Decesare stepped in at the last minute as chief pacer as I attempted another tilt at the elusive sub 1.30 half (my previous best effort being 1.33.29). Some good flyers support out on course and encouragement on course saw me achieve my goal. Some very good results for the many flyers who ran.

Phil Horan - 1:29:46

Ridgeway Challenge (86 mile Ultra) - Sat/Sunday 26/27 August

Last year I'd entered this event but I DNF'd at the halfway stage, my first ever DNF in a race. It later transpired that I had a large volume of sand in my private parts, and I'd been running with a hernia which played a small part to me feeling horrendous from mile 20 onward. Anyway, I beat myself up for months about withdrawing. Fast forward to early 2017 and I'd had a small operation, recovered and was running a lot more with the club; my running was in fact on an upward spiral. I therefore entered this event again to silence some evil demons (it had nothing to do with an empty bottle of wine).

Some 200 runners convened on Ivinghoe Beacon on 26th August and the aim was simply to run to The Avebury Stone Circle in under 26 hours. The route is as varied as it is long and of course, the hours of darkness are suffered by all (regardless of extra terrestrial abilities).

Having learned huge lessons last year and this year bringing a modest support crew (fiance and puppy), I set off in a calm and rational fashion. It also being a very hot day, this added to my reasons to remain steady throughout. I managed to get to half way (Goring on Thames) in under 8 hours and in daylight. Following this, the second half was 90% dark, had to be very deliberate (on account of the rough footpaths) and was full of cake. Day broke as I was on the last leg home and I finally crossed the line in 18:15.00hrs (official time TBC at time of writing).

The previous year, every footstep had been laboured and a mental effort. This year, a changed mental attitude, race approach and steady build up allowed me to (mostly) enjoy all of this event. Superb checkpoints, an exceptionally well marked route and a glorious traverse of an entire national trail meant that I was finally able to put a pin in this one. It's worth while even if you just walk the entire distance (certainly manageable with the cut offs).

I shall now be most eating copious amounts of cake prior to my next session with the club...

Scott Huntley- 18:14

Hertwood Forest Park Run, Sandridge - Saturday 26 August

I have to confess I'm not a great supporter of the Park Runs at least Luton and Bedford where you circulate the park 2/3 times! However, my sister told me about a new one that had recently started (4th week) in the Heartwood Forset, Sandridge near my old hunting ground of St Albans. Located between Wheathampstead and Sandridge it is totally off-road and is set in a recently developed Woodland Trust area of some 347-hectares. Apparently when fully planted, it will be the largest continuous native forest in England.

You meet in the main car park and then a short walk to the start where the first K. unfortunately is up-hill. However, what goes up must come back down with a nice run in to the finish. Its 2-laps but uses the trails and paths in the Forest. Well worth a visit especially those Flyers who run the St Albans Park Run - this is less busy (128 finishers) and a much more attractive setting. No Park Run apparently this week (2nd Sept) but thereafter at 9.00 every Saturday.

As for my run less said about that the better - a slow 25.56 and now running slightly over 8 minute a mile - when will my decline falter!!

Dave Stanley†69th† 25:56 (1st Vet 65)

Thames Meander Marathon - Saturday 12 August

Day 677 of my running streak and an unusual 30 mile double - a 9am parkrun followed by a 10am Thames Meander marathon, which was my 19th of the year and 79th overall. Iím aiming to get to 100 next year, which is why Iím doing so many. I hadn't pre-entered and turned up early to do so. As I waited, a chap mentioned there was a parkrun about to start from the same place. After a quick dash to the car to get an emergency barcode, off I went. I Kept it slow and I did get a few odd glances as I had my marathon number on. The route was exactly the same as the marathon, along the Thames, reaching a turnaround and back. After the run I had 36 mins to kill and kept moving slowly, so as to not cramp. Duly warmed up, the said marathon followed. The route was all along the Thames heading from Ham towards Kew, Richmond and Hampton court. The first section was quite scenic, running past various boats, moorings, pubs, under various bridges and with some London landmarks visible from a distance but unfortunately there was a dull section in the middle that lasted 10 miles and I admit to getting bored. Even though the Thames was next to me, for that section we ran along mostly enclosed gravel paths with trees and overgrown shrubs blocking the view. We ran through a couple of tourist spots and at one point I was dodging the camera brigade for about two miles. Having given up vino and related liquid consumables, it was quite a surprise at 19 miles to get a real bad attack of cramp that eventually added 35 mins to my finish time. I can drink 5 pints, vino and eat a curry before a marathon (as I have a number of times this year) and not get cramp, yet when I stick to soda water I get the leg wobbles for the first time in some years. I might have to rethink pre race hydration. The final stretch was tough. At the start that sent us off a mile in one direction and then we came back to the start, before carrying on. At the end we had to do the same again and it was tough to run past the finish on knackered legs and still have two miles to go. Promised more than it delivered. Nice medal at least.

Paul Owen

Cowman Middle Distance Triathlon -Sunday 6 August

This was my last race before my big race (Ironman Wales) and I was using this race as a hard brick training session. I usually do this race as it's a great tough local course based in Olney, Bucks. I pushed right from the start and wanted this race to hurt me in an attempt to prepare me for the pain I will experience in Wales.

Jensen Button the F1 driver, had also decided to use this race as prep for his half ironman race in Bahrain the middle east as he explained to me. In short I had a good trouble free race finishing an hour ahead in my age group. It's head down now for my last few weeks of big mileage in training. (100 mile hilly bike rides with 22 mile runs off the bike). Not forgetting regular 4k swims in the lake.

Martin Beare 4:43:32

Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2017 14:40