It's been a long time since I last put virtual pen to virtual paper and written an update...and so much has happened! The past 15 months have been incredibly difficult for so many people for so many reasons, but I've been proud of us as a club. We have managed to maintain our sense of community and have really stepped up and supported each other. Thank you to everyone for being so amazing.
Staying connected was important and we have had Zoom quizzes, suggested run routes and a couple of challenges. We also held three virtual races from Winchester to the Pyramids, Winchester to Timbuktu and from Timbuktu home again. Participation during all of this has been fantastic and has really helped keep the spirits up.
We also had three lockdown babies! Kathy and Graham welcomed Ella on the 9th November last year, Andy and Saffi had Ben on the 31st January and Mike and Anna welcomed Lauren on the 15th March. Congratulations guys!!
Since returning at the start of April there has been a definite sense of a return to normality. We have had great attendance on Thursdays, the Tuesday trot has now returned, races are starting to go back into the calendar and cakes have made a welcome return after our runs. We have added quite a few new members as well, which has been fantastic!
I would like to congratulate Matt and Issy for passing their England Athletics Run Leader training course and joining the Running club coaching team.
With the restrictions that are in place the England Athletics training course have moved online, with the coaching sections of the course videoed. Both did superbly well and will now be joining the existing coaching team of James, Mike D Mike H, Rachel, Jenny and Simon.
Congratulations both of you!!
Race News In the last couple of months there have been a few races which have seen some fantastic performances from Fit Clubbers (apologies if I've missed anyone). Alice, Ollie and Andy all ran the Dorney Lake Half, James, Greg and Issy ran along the Dorset coastline at Maverick Dorset. Matt ran the Craft Fox Marathon with White Star Running and Jules ran the Weymouth Half, both in scorching temperatures. Standout performance was Ollie running the Haselmere Ultra X 100km race. There are more races going back in to the calendar on a daily basis so check out our shiny new race calendar created by Jenny…Details below.
This weekend just gone also saw the first weekend where we had multiple races. With a number of the team taking part. On Saturday we had a large group taking on the 16km and 25km routes at the Maverick Hampshire, a trail race on the South Downs way and the trails around Winchester. On Sunday we had runners in three different races; The Alresford 10km, the Hampshire Hoppit and Matt M taking on the Jurassic Coast 50km Ultra.
There were some amazing performances and it was fantastic seeing the race photos coming in over the weekend. Well done to everyone who competed!
parkrun Update After a few false starts parkrun is now due to return across the UK from the 24th of July. By the time it returns it'll be over 16 months since it was first paused. In the first few weeks they will be desperate for volunteers so if you aren't running, then please consider helping out. One element of parkrun which has returned is Junior parkrun. This has now been up and running for the last 10 weeks and it has been amazing seeing so many mini-Fit Clubbers out running and enjoying it. Thank you also to all the Fit clubbers who have been volunteering at Juniors to support the little ones running!
Can't wait for our first parkrun all together!
Firstly, an apology. I have had a couple of race reports submitted over the past year but failed to put them into a blog. So below there is Stefan's report of his Dever Marathon, run last April and Andy M's virtual Winchester Half.
I also have a write up from Andy from his Eton Dorney half and my write up from the Maverick Dorset race. Feel free to submit any of your race reports to email@example.com
Stefan's Dever Marathon - 26th April 2020 (sorry Stefan)
I never planned on running a marathon on Sunday 26 April 2020. I must also confess I had no idea that in a normal world, and in a normal year, thousands would have been taking to the streets to run the 2020 London Marathon at that very moment in time.
Even though the Edinburgh Marathon I had been due to run in May had long been postponed, I was determined that my training to date wouldn’t be wasted and that I would run my first marathon at some point during the lockdown. To understand why I ended up running 26.2 miles on that day, we first need to rewind a couple weeks.
Two weeks’ prior I ran my best long run of the year to date – 16 miles at a pace much faster than required to meet the 3 hour 30 minute target I had in my head for the marathon. Encouraged and feeling positive, the next weekend I went out aiming for 20 miles at my usual easy pace. This time the run felt tough the whole way through compared to the previous week, which had felt natural and, dare I say it, easy. By the time I got back home I had been running on empty for about 10km. I felt dejected and started to think that my target wasn’t achievable despite all of the hard work I had put in.
I went searching for answers, and I’m sure WFC regulars will be pleased with the one I came up with. CAKE. Well, food at least. Comparing the two weeks I decided I simply hadn’t eaten enough the night before, for breakfast, and during the run.
My next long run was designed to be an experiment. I had fuelled well the night before, ate a good breakfast, and Lucy had volunteered to ride alongside me to pass me energy drink and gels. I had even pre-programmed my watch with the aim to run 20 miles at my target pace albeit with positive splits (yes James – positive!), with the objective being to see how long I could hold on to the faster pace. Before setting off, Lucy asked how I was feeling, and the honest answer was nervous; I really didn’t want to go through that jelly-legged, empty-feeling experience again in a hurry.
I felt the difference immediately. The first few kilometres flew by, and with my route starting out slightly downhill I was finding it hard to put the brakes on. It was a glorious day for running, and we reached my first mental checkpoint in Laverstoke in what seemed like minutes. Slightly disappointed that Bombay Sapphire hadn’t laid out a gin-based aid station, we turned west and started the descent into Whitchurch.
I had run the first 10km in 46 minutes and was feeling good. However, it almost unravelled at this point – I was pushing it on the downhill, but it was only when my watch pinged that I realised I had run the kilometre at close to 5k pace. Knowing that the uphill was all still to come, I dialled it back for the next mile or so as we left Whitchurch. Turning onto the quiet country lanes of the Test Valley I really started to find my rhythm. I knew I was up on time, but the kilometres kept on passing and the watch kept pinging at around 4:40/km.
We turned off the River Test at Longparish and I was immediately faced with the first real climb of the run. With Lucy shouting “pocket to socket” I dug deep and attacked the hill, knowing that I could relax a bit on the other side. Despite the route starting to undulate, the watch kept showing 4:40/km and the run started to become a game of how long can I keep it that way. As we climbed out of Barton Stacey (Lucy’s new inspirational line of “try to punch your own face” wasn’t as useful this time), we had the nice surprise of seeing Mike H pass us on his bike. This brought up the half marathon in 1 hour 39 minutes.
I was still feeling good and it was around this point that the idea of running the full marathon formed in my mind. Fully aware of what had happened the week before, I was cautious and only mentally extended the 20 mile route by a couple of miles, knowing that I would have the safety net of being able to bail out close to home if it all went pear-shaped. We reached 20 miles and I was still feeling comfortable, so turned to Lucy and said “how do you fancy 6 more miles?” I knew I would need more energy if I were to complete the distance, so Lucy rode home to pick up more water and gels as I approached Micheldever.
Much to my surprise as I was going up the hill out of Micheldever towards home I found I was actually speeding up! It was becoming tougher now though and by the time Lucy had found me I was struggling to talk and found the gel she passed me really difficult to stomach. I reached home and was sorely tempted to stop, but I knew I was a long way ahead of my target time so tuned around and continued. Lucy was with me all the way on the final few kilometres, telling me to push, and I really couldn’t have continued to speed up without her encouragement. In a few long minutes the watch read 42.2km, but worried I hadn’t got the conversion right I continued pushing for another few-hundred metres to be sure. I collapsed at the entrance to the next farm and started giggling uncontrollably – I had run my first marathon, 15 minutes faster than I hoped for, and hadn’t even intended on doing it!
Despite being first-finisher, I really wouldn’t recommend the Dever Marathon to other WFC Runners:
· Lucy and Mike H aside, the crowds were pathetic;
· Poor organisation – I had to extend the route myself to go the distance;
· No medal, no finishers t-shirt, no post-race sweets;
· Poor transport links – I had to walk most of the way home.
When signing up for the Edinburgh marathon, I hadn’t planned on getting sponsorship, but as we’ve seen all too well in recent weeks, things change. The marathon distance is much a mental challenge as a physical one, both in the build up and during the race itself. Mind is a charity close to my heart. I have family members who struggle with depression and have seen just how difficult it can make life even when loved ones are close. The news has concentrated a lot on the physical side of COVID-19, but there will be people suffering in silence in these times of isolation.
Virtual Winchester Half by Andy Mant (sorry Andy) You would think I would be keen to discuss the differences between virtual running and a more traditional race, but to be fair I had only been involved with 2 ‘proper’ races before this one. One of those started between two football posts and involved running through a swamp and the other allowed me to run further than expected! That aside there were some things keenly evident to me as different, the biggest of which was needing to thoroughly memorise the course particularly to prepare for weaving through roads and closes in Oliver’s Battery and Badger Farm. I spent at least two weeks going over and over road names, even reciting them in the car on the way home from work. Racing alone is a peculiar experience, particularly at the end when there is no one to chase down, and no crowd to cheer you on (my excuse for not PBing). In terms of similarities, I got plenty of thinking done. Spent time considering my running style, shocking myself by glimpsing my watch at just 10s over 5K pace around the 8K mark! A constant argument between my legs and brain (in the first half), with legs saying they are strong and could go a bit faster, but the brain threatening to release lactic acid if I didn’t slow down IMMEDIATELY! The feeling of elation around 14K when the gels are doing their best to up my sugar levels and I still have a little energy left. Of course the feeling of accomplishment when you have finished, and your friends making comments on Strava (Yes Alice you were right!) Running around Winchester never fails to surprise with another hill just when you think it is not possible. How can it be that it is uphill on the way out and the way home??? Despite having been warned, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the 5K of hills at the start of this course starting in the heart of the city centre and finishing in the middle of no-where after passing a rather scary looking face marking part of the Clarendon. Overall a gorgeous course, I am so glad I ran the ‘actual’ route as I have never run out to Hursley before and enjoyed seeing my home town from a different angle. I could have done without the strong head wind on the way from Hursley into Oliver’s Battery; that road is long enough as it is! I have written before about the fact that this run has been my motivation for the year, seeing Charles finishing so strongly on a wet day last year has stayed with me as I have trained and the well-meaning banter of WFC and friendship of Team Kings will hopefully ensure I continue strongly on my running journey. So now to the future, the return of parkrun and all those transferred spaces. One thing is for sure I don’t want to be tying up my ‘virtual’ laces again anytime soon! Dorney Lake 18th April 2021 by Andy Mant First proper run for me post lockdown, and despite the need for staggered starts (which actually worked very well) the run took part in the glorious Olympic Setting on a gorgeous spring morning. It would be fair to say the event started quite slowly with a 30 minute queue to register and get numbers, but this was all to ensure Covid security and there was not much grumbling about that. The oddest thing about this was there was no big build up to the start, we simply walked around the side of the boat house and joined the queue of about 4 people counted down from 3 and we were off. To be honest I hadn’t realised just how much I’d missed race days, meeting up with friends, discussing race tactics and the obligatory cheesy photo after (see attached!) But Dorney provided the perfect opportunity to test the fitness and set a benchmark for the rest of the year. Ollie and Alice made the most of this setting huge personal bests and to be honest showing the benefits of youth! A four loop course might seem a little samey, but actually it just about worked with such nice scenery (not that the other 2 were paying much attention). Ollie 1:20:17!!! Alice 1:44:55 Andrew 1:42:30 And having 5K and 10K runners competing at the same time also added to the uniqueness of the experience. Perhaps the flattest course around and with no real wind to speak of the fast times were not really a surprise, but as I was leaving today (nursing a dodgy knee) I couldn’t help thinking how lucky the college pupils are to have such a venue to train on. Maverick Dorset by Coach James With everything that has happened I hadn’t seen my brother and sister together since Christmas 2019 so when the opportunity came to run Maverick Dorset we decided to run it as a team.
With my recent injury issues I knew that 10 miles was going to be a stretch for me, but also knew that my brother and sister were by no means speed demons so I felt like I’d be ok.
The route was a 10 mile loop starting in Harlan’s Cross just outside Swanage and heading down to the coastal path by Dancing Ledge along to Chapman’s Pool and back through Worth Matravers. It was going to be hilly and the weather forecast was not great! It was going to be so much fun!
Race day came and I headed down early, keen to soak up the atmosphere. The early morning dew meant that when I arrived my car just wheel spun on the wet grass and I needed a push to get up the hill to the car park. My brother was already there and my sister arrived shortly afterwards. My nephew (16) always also joining us for the run so it really was going to be a family affair!
Soon the site started filling with people and that race atmosphere that I’ve missed so much started to return. The buzz of conversation, the runners meeting up with running buddies they hadn’t seen for ages, the nervous excitement, the serious runners warming up whilst the less serious runners just tried to stay warm. One thing I haven’t missed is queuing for the loo for ages only to get into a disgusting portaloo…somethings never change.
I saw Issy and Greg and grabbed photos with them both. Issy was running the long and Greg the medium distance. Both looked ready to go. I also saw the amazing cake stand…vowing to stuff my face at the end of the race.
We were starting late as my brother supports the Maverick team on race day so we were almost last off. A few start line selfies and we were off!
The pace, as expected, was slow, which was nice as it felt like there was no pressure. We walked the hills, even the one a quarter of a mile from the start, and jogged most of the rest of the route. The weather has dried up, and it was starting to get warm, so the rain jacket was immediately stuffed in my backpack.
Within a mile and a half we hit the coast by Dancing Ledge and for the next 10k or so we followed the coastal path. The first part was quite runnable but around Seacombe Cliffs the first set of steps appeared and they had to be navigated with care as they were uneven and the stone was very slippery.
After that the path turned fairly muddy as we headed along to the Winspit caves (where they had recently filmed some of the new Star Wars series coming soon). The mud proved tricky for my sister whose trail shoes weren’t quite up to the job, and se fell a couple of times. The jogging turned to walking and we slogged along two miles in around 50 minutes.
We soon reached St Aldhelm’s Head, one of the most exposed sections on the course. Here you have a view down the coast to Weymouth and beyond. We could see the dark clouds rolling in and sure enough got battered by a short intense rain storm. Lovely. It was here that my sister cracked open the sweets.
After St Aldhelms I knew that there was a wicked set of steps called Emmetts Hill, going down one side of a valley and up the other. There was no way to safely run down so we took our time and made it to the bottom before walking back up the other side. It is a beautiful but brutal place to run. I felt very lucky.
After this is was fairly plain sailing. We ran along the ridge to Chapmans Pool before leaving the coast path to head in land through Worth Matravers and back to the start. The last few miles we ran almost all of although by this point my poor shoe choice (I went for gripper trail shoes that were less comfortable) had meant blisters on feet and was in a bit of pain.
We finished and got our medals, free beer and free iced coffees. Grabbed a few photos and then hit the cake stand. I had a hot dog to start and then a huge slice of Kit Kat rice crispy cake, and a cuppa.
I cannot speak highly enough of this race. The atmosphere was superb. The organisation was fantastic and they are proper runners so really make sure the runners needs are met. You can change race distance on the day if you wish, you can even change it on the route (there are a couple of points where can choose to step down or up a distance en route). The medal was nice and it was a good touch having free beer at the end. They have a seating area for runners at the end where you can meet your supporters and chill.
It was a great day out and I can’t wait for my next race with them.
Alf's Goodbye You may have noticed that Alf left the WhatsApp group a while ago. Alf has decided to step back from Winchester Fit Club. He leaves with fond memories and sent this message, which he asked me to include in the blog: "Winchester Fit Club has giving me so much within my running, I cannot thank James and YOU enough for the support and encouragement. Your love and support for me when my brother died will never been forgotten. It’s time for me to leave, but I leave with some amazing memories and I wish you all every success. I hope to bump into you on the running circuits sometime soon. Take care of one another #happyrunning Alf x"
Here are the session for the rest of June and July
22nd June - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
24th - Dean Lane Park
29th - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
1st July - Garnier Rd
5th - Track session, Bar End
6th - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
8th - Church Green, KW
13th - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
15th - South Winch P&R
19th - Track session, Bar End
20th - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
22nd - Oliver’s Battery
27th - Tuesday Trot Social Run, River Park
29th - Dean Lane Park
WFC Running Club Calendar Jenny has kindly set-up the race calendar for 2021 and 2022 as a spreadsheet in google. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ucMwpIS4Mh_1JK2QcmjKySCp4c4HEt4SPYhcpLmndCc/edit?usp=drivesdk The sheet allows you to comment so that you can alert us to any changes of dates or new race announcements. Jenny will then be able to edit accordingly. Thank you Jenny!! WFC parkrun Club Winchester Fit Club RC is set-up as a club with parkrun. If you go into your profile (there is a link to it on the parkrun results email and newsletter email) you can select your club. Change yours to Winchester Fit Club RC and you will appear in the consolidated club report that we get each week. WFC Runners WhatsApp Group There is a WFC Running Club WhatsApp chat group where we generally just wang on about running, races and cake. If you are not already part of this then please get in contact with Coach James or Coach Mike D who will add you. WFC Runners Facebook Group There is a WFC Runners Facebook page where we put the blog posts, news and race pictures. Follow the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976444695871618/ WFC Runners Strava Club If you are a Strava user there is a Winchester Fit Club RC page. This can be accessed here: https://www.strava.com/clubs/WFC-RC. Request to join and we will approve! Booking onto sessions If you haven’t already can I please ask that you all download (or upgrade if you already have it) the Wix app...now renamed Spaces by Wix. The following is the link to the apple store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/spaces-follow-businesses/id1099748482 Use the following code: G4BVZ8 You should have access to the Fit Club site. Here you can book on to sessions and cancel if you need to. It is essential that you book on for a number of reasons: we need to have a sense of how many are coming so we can manage the session appropriate and we also need a record of who has attended for Track and Trace purposes. Training Kit Training kit can now be ordered and paid for online, and delivered straight to your door! This is via the following website: https://promalife.com/product-category/bespoke-client-area/winchester-fit-club/.
See you next month!