St Ed’s Running Festival, Sunday Oct 31st, Bury St Edmunds: Despite very wet and windy weather, Mark Hayward was bang in form in the St Ed’s Half Marathon, finishing 1st of 161 finishers, in a time of 1:18:58, his first official half marathon since March 2020. Next for the Joggers came Stuart Sowerby (1:30:22, 15th overall, 3rd of 25 in M40), beating his time in the recent Cambridge Half Marathon by almost a minute. Third Jogger home was Miles Johnson (1:57:32, 80th, 3rd of 6 in M60+), a high M65 age group achiever, who has held his form consistently for years, with no signs of slowing down. Lisa Jennings (2:24:41, 46th F, 14th in F40) also put in a great effort, slightly outside her best time this year of 2:22, which was surprisingly achieved on a Thetford trail course.
In the St Ed’s 10K event, Andrew Taylor put in a high class run of 44:13, to finish 21st of 230 overall, 8th of 31 in M40. Andrew specialises in 10K events and has been in great form since Covid-19 restrictions were eased this year. Next came new member Vanessa Allen (51:28, 11th F of 110, 4th of 41 in F40), following up her excellent performance in the recent Cambridge Half Marathon with another top run. Caroline Mcintosh F65 (1:11:29, 97th F) was near her best 10K time this year, despite using the first mile as a necessary warm up and the last 5 miles for her final Grand Prix multi-choice entry. She has every chance of a top three finish in the women’s Grand Prix. Rachel Allen F40 (1:20:49, 106th F) also did well, especially considering it was her first attempt at 10K since 2019, when she clocked 1:11.
Fen 10, Sunday Oct 31st: This annual local fixture took place in and around Wisbech, on flat Fenland terrain, though the wind was not helpful. Brian Munns (1:16:42, 79th of 296 overall, 11th of 35 in M55) was first Jogger home in his best official 10 mile time since 2011, when he clocked 1:04:33 in the Hadleigh 10. That was before a series of injuries sadly threw him out of contention for several years. So, definitely something to celebrate in Wetherspoon😊. Next came Melanie Tindale (1:28:10, 35th F of 137, 5th of 15 in F40), putting in a great effort in her first 10M race since 2016. Her PB remains at 1:19:09 in 2015. Jim Withers M65 (1:34:09, 194th) was third Jogger to finish, as consistent as ever, with his best time this year at 1:33:45 in the Thurlow 10. His PB showing on Runbritain is 1:13:43 in 2011 at Thurlow but there will be quicker earlier times going back to the 1980s.
Baldock Beast Half Marathon, Sunday 31st Oct: Andy Fryatt (1:40:41, 28th of 233 overall, 5th of 40 in M50) took a shot at this race, just two weeks after his 1:33 PB in the Cambridge Half. He battled against terrible weather conditions of strong wind and driving rain, coping well with an extremely hilly course. Chester Zoo 10K: Ellie Bithell (53:57, 612th of 2,369 overall, 157th F of 1,389, 21st of 172 in F40) and daughter, Junior Jogger Cerys (53:33, 578th, 142nd F, 76th of 613 in Sen F) both put in top notch performances in this huge field of runners. Had there been a junior category, Cerys would no doubt have been very near the lead. Thetford Forest Runner 10K, High Lodge: Clive Purbrook M65 (51:20, 26th of 161 overall, no age categories) put in a top effort in this trail race, where one of the marshals was none other than Steve Cram.
The Last of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathons: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, owned by the Ironman Group, held its last event at Liverpool on Sunday 24th October, after 7 years of Marathons, Half Marathons, 10K and 5K events. The organization holds annual marathon events in many cities in the United States and in a number of other countries around the world. It is known for lining race routes with live rock bands, cheerleaders and themed water stations. It’s not known exactly why the series is being discontinued in Liverpool. The May 2020 event was postponed due to Covid-19 and eventually rearranged for the 24th October 2021. Newmarket Jogger Chris Aylmer was one of the 2020 marathon entrants who carried over his entry to this year and he reports on the race below.
Above left: Liverpool Lime St Station (opened 1836). Above right: St George’s Hall (completed 1854).
I arrived at Liverpool Lime St Station on the Saturday afternoon and immediately made my way on foot, with travel case in tow, down to the Expo, about 1.5 miles away at the Exhibition Hall on the Waterfront, alongside the River Mersey. I wasn’t particularly after any Expo bargains and didn’t need to register, as our bib numbers had already been sent by post; just wanted to suss out the start and finish area and get a feel for the place, so I knew my way around for Sunday morning. The Exhibition Hall also functioned as the baggage drop location.
Above left and right: Scenes of the Liverpool Albert Dock area.
By late afternoon, I made my way back towards Lime St Station, where I had previously spotted the North Western Wetherspoon; an ideal stopping point on the way to my self-catering lodgings, which were two miles away, on the other side of the station. I walked over 6 miles that day, towing my travel case. It seemed very relaxing at the time and a good way to get to know my way around Liverpool, but in retrospect could well have tired my legs significantly.
Above left and right: Scenes of the Liverpool Waterfront and dock area.
Next morning, I was sure I knew the way for an easy 3.5 mile warm up jog to the start, via Lime St Station. The official Marathon start was at 10:00 am. I left about 8:15 am, allowing ample time, even if walking, but unfortunately and inexplicably, I took a right turn about halfway to Lime St and eventually realised I was lost. I must have got disorientated at a road crossing, as I knew that all I had to do was carry straight on in the same direction. I asked a pedestrian coming towards me if he knew the way to Lime St and he said to accompany him, as he was heading in that direction, back where I had come from. That was so kind of him and I must have walked nearly a mile with him to Lime St Station. Thank you kind sir! Once I saw the North Western Wetherspoon, I knew my bearings and headed down to the Waterfront. It was 10:25 am before the Marathon finally got underway, after the last of the Half Marathon (HM) waves had been dispersed. There were about 5,000 runners in the HM compared with 2,000 in the Marathon.
Above left: The Half Marathon wave queue. Above right: The Marathon wave queue. I know my place, behind the 5:30 pacer🙂
I used a run/walk strategy [run half a mile, walk 60 longish strides (about 30 sec), all the way from the start], which had paid dividends in my previous 2 marathons, getting me home in under 5 hours by limiting leg fatigue in the later stages. This time my legs felt unusually lacking in energy from the beginning and it was soon clear I was in for a long haul. By halfway I was in survival mode, counting down every half mile until my next precious walk. Maybe it was not a good idea, a week after the Cambridge Half; maybe 6 miles traipsing around Liverpool the previous day, towing my travel case, didn’t help either; maybe it was on the cards anyway; who knows? The live bands along the way were a great boost and distraction, including the out & back along Penny Lane; all the marshals and water station helpers were very encouraging and couldn’t have done more. The final three miles along the quayside to the finish were the best ones, in pleasant sunshine and knowing the end was nigh. There was a male participant in front of me, walking the same speed as I could sort of jog. We’d been fairly close together the whole race, run/walking and passing each other every so often. I wondered why I didn’t walk to the finish too; maybe pride, but he also had a lot longer legs. In the last two hundred metres, we both broke into a half-decent trot and finished with the same time: 5:44:42.
I came 2,023rd of 2,127 finishers, 6th of 7 in M70-74. I did a similar time (5:43) in the MK Marathon 2018, when it was very warm weather (24°C) in May. The conditions in this race could not have been more ideal at a cool 11°C. So not one of my best marathon performances, but perhaps one of my hardest challenges to date….just to finish.
Above left: Where the band were playing, right near the Liverpool Eye, but called it a day before I finished. Above right: The finish area along the quayside, with Exhibition Hall to the left and the River Mersey to the right. This shot taken the day before; the finishers would be coming towards the camera.
The finish funnel led into the Exhibition Hall, where we could collect our baggage. I could only walk very slowly and needed to rest awhile in the huge baggage area, like a triple-sized gymnasium. It was almost empty, as most of the runners had already collected their kit and gone. The live band outside had also shut up shop. I eventually made my way back towards Lime St Station, passing lots of pubs heaving with Liverpool supporters, who were watching their team thrash Manchester United 5-0. I was just looking forward to a quiet sit down in the North Western Wetherspoon, which doesn’t normally have music playing or live sport on TV….bliss! There, I was able to upload my run and analyse what went wrong in peace. I didn’t even have to get up to order a pint…just ordered by phone on the Wetherspoon app….perfect! After a good rest and refreshment I was able to face the 2 mile trek back to my lodgings.
A weekend to remember, definitely!