Weekly News – Monday 30th March 2020


Just a reminder that although we are permitted one form of exercise a day that should be kept local and to use an open spaces near your home. Stay safe.


Have you run an exciting race, discovered a new route, or anything running related then let me know. My e-mail is communication@westburyharriers.co.uk

Club Championships.

Don’t forget, you have only to the end of the month to update your Club Championship results on the Westbury Harrier website.

Member of the Month Nominations – Junior and Senior.

If you have a nomination for member of the month please email member.of.the.month@westburyharriers.co.uk
We would especially appreciate more nominations of junior and academy runners – this can be by parents, peers or helpers. Nominations can be for anything, running achievements, positive attitudes, helping others or volunteering, for example. The club committee will be meeting via Zoom next Friday evening.

Club Person Profile: Neil.

Many thanks to Neil who has provided our club person profile below. Next week we have Judy’s profile to look forward to.
Neil. Roles: Coach, Boys Team Manager, Event Organiser, Vice Chairman, Company Director and (most importantly) Tent Erector.

Q. My first question for you Neil, what made you decide to join Westbury Harriers?
A. Having been a keen runner all through secondary school and university, when I moved to Bristol for my first job (in 1984) being part of a running club was a top priority. Although Nick Rose took me along to Bristol AC and they gave me the hard sell, there was something about the banter and good humour in Westbury Harriers which made the club much more appealing. I think the same is still true today.

Q. Why did you take up coaching?
A. The summer after I moved to Bristol a certain lady called Pat put out a call for helpers. At the time she was taking groups of up to 50 youngsters out for runs from Greenway, so several of us joined in to spread the load.
After a while we split the group, and because it was the summer (track and field) season, I found myself organising track sessions as well as finding ways my athletes could score points for the team in other (non-endurance) events.
I still keep in touch with many of that first group of youngsters: Paul Gillespie (now in Australia), Darren Skuse, Anthony Balson, Lee Hendy (now in Sweden) and Dylan Hughes (now in London).

Q. Why did you take on a committee post?
A. Having had various organising roles at university, I understood how clubs can’t function without volunteers.
My first role was as coaching coordinator, and quickly found out that many of our coaches don’t know what each other was doing. In those days we covered track and field as well as distance running, so had various jumps, throws and sprints as well as endurance coaches. As well as getting meetings and discussions going, I started a club newsletter to spotlight what people were doing. That was in the late 1980’s, but sounds familiar…

Q. What does your director’s role involve?
A. Westbury Harriers is legally a company (a ‘CIC’ or Community Interest Company), so has to have nominated people registered with Companies House who ensure that things like annual returns are made, and that the club is being run properly. Being a CIC, and also CASC (the HMRC equivalent) means that we are exempt from tax, and that our members are not liable should Westbury Harriers fall into debt.

Q. What have been your highlights as a coach
A. The easy answer would be watching athletes’ first internationals, such as Karl Andrews in Pisa and Felix McGrath in Slovenia. However, seeing shy youngsters develop into confident young men and women through facing the ups and downs, as well as the camaraderie of our sport, is much more rewarding.

Q. And as an athlete?
A. It’s a long time since I was described as that, but finishing 63rd in an incredibly muddy Nationals at Milton Keynes (1985), and being a (non-scoring) member of the Westbury team which won silver medals in The Nationals at Luton (1991) are joint top memories.

Q. Why do you keep involved with the club?
It keeps me off the streets.

Q. What is your favourite discipline and distance?
A. Very much cross-country, both as a coach and when I was an athlete. It is so much more of a technical and mental challenge than road running, and much better at developing groups of youngsters that track athletics.
Whereas with road running you need to ‘leave you brain in a jar by the start’, after a long cross-country race on varied terrain you feel like you’ve just done a 3-hour examination, as well as a complete physical workout.

Q. And your favourite event?
A. I always enjoyed big events as an athlete. That feeling of adrenaline, this is what the season has been building up to. As such, The Nationals was always special.
However, as a coach and team manager of developing youngsters, big events can be daunting and results often a lottery. Instead, the final Gwent League of the season, when the camaraderie is at its height, and the runners know what they need to do and how to do it, always generates a buzz.

Just one word….Mobot! Thanks to Peter Keogan- Club Historian.

And a more recent photo of Mo.

Ultra Running, by Dan Summers.

“I ran a marathon and I felt like I couldn’t run another step.”


“What you’re going to RUN 100 miles?!”

“Where do you sleep?”

These are a selection of the bemused comments that I usually get from people when I try to explain my passion for running ultras.

Ultrarunning has become more and more popular over recent years. If you haven’t ever tried one it would be very fair to wonder why that’s the case! Stories from these sort of races usually start with comments like “I felt awful…”, “I’d been running for 6 hours in the dark….”, “My big toe nail fell off at mile 43…” – where is the fun in that? If you have tried one then you’ll know about the amazing sense of adventure, the friendships, camaraderie, sense of achievement in just finishing races (rather than achieving a certain time) and that 3 day period after you finish when you just can’t eat enough food!

For me, ultrarunning is an adventure. Yes, it’s a challenge and hard physically but it’s often harder mentally. It’s amazing what the body can do when the mind is willing – there is a saying for 100 mile races – the first 50 is in your legs and the second 50 is in your head! The events/challenges take you to some beautiful places at times when many people won’t be there. At some points you are desperate to give up but that makes the achievement mean so much more when you do finish. There are so many variables to it and things to think about – sticking to the course, eating, drinking, not getting too cold/hot, meeting cut offs, the terrain….. These variables make it all very uncertain – when you start you genuinely don’t know what will be happening/how you’ll be feeling or where you’ll be in 5/10/15hrs! I’ve learned the hard way that however well you think you are going it can all change in a second. This uncertainty can be so painful but it’s what’s so addictive and inspiring about these adventures!

This all may sound a bit daunting but it really shouldn’t. Ask one that’s run an ultra and they’ll tell you that for most people ultrarunning should really be called “ultrawalking with a little shuffle run every now and again”. It is also really an eating competition – eating enough to sustain yourself often becomes the biggest challenge. The community of people that both organise and participate in these events are so friendly, encouraging and supportive. There are also a huge range of events – you can start with flat 30 mile races in the summer and if you want to undertake 100+ mile races in the winter. There really is something for everyone.

Dan, pictured below.

There are many Harriers that achieve amazing things in the ultrarunning world but as we are primarily a road and cross country club these achievements often go unnoticed. I am hoping to have a guest section in Ian’s news that rounds up all of the ultrarunning achievements of our members and shares plans for future races/trips. It’s only right that many of these inspiring achievements are shared with everyone. If you have run an ultra/long distance trail challenge or anything similar that you think everyone might be interested in please do drop me a few details and a few photos and I’ll include them. How often this happens will depend on how much I’m sent.

In these times when we possibly all need something to look forward to in the future, maybe next year is to set yourself a challenge that scares and inspires you in equal measure?

If you’ve got this far and want a bit more there is loads of information out there. I’ve heard great things about a book called “The rise of the ultra runners” by Adharanand Finn Good Reads Link

If you want something a bit shorter I’ve (finally) just posted a blog about a route I did in December in the Brecon Beacons https://dansummersrunning.blogspot.com – and if you were about to ask, no, I didn’t stop to sleep!

Thanks to Dan for this. Who knows, perhaps I’ll try a Green Man, after all it’s on the doorstep. You may also be interested to know that Dan leads a number of courses from navigation to race preparation. Obviously these are dependent on the current situation, but do take a look. https://www.dansummersrunning.co.uk


We had first, second, and third place podium winners at the inaugural ‘The Ridge Duathlon’ for the Rawlins family.

Our very own Ben Rawlins, European Aquathlon Champion, easily took a gold medal in The Ridge, with his brother, taking silver. Ben’s dad, Kev, trailed quite a bit further behind but only needed to finish to take bronze. If Kev could just change his shoes a bit quicker and not sit down during the transition he could shave off some vital seconds!

We also had Ben’s Mum providing a very professional commentary, and were told several times how knackered Kev was looking. I think Geraint also needs to watch out once the Gwent XC recommences, we could be looking at a new race commentator!
The Rawlins family line up for the start of The Ridge Duathlon. Follow the link below for the complete Youtube footage. And many thanks to the family for adding a little bit of humour to what have been some very depressing days.

Strava Results of the Week

This week, it goes to Sarah who took 9th place in 3 mins 2 secs on the Reedley Road South (towards Parrys Lane) strava segment. An impressive result, especially when you consider Sarah was running with a heavy rucksack. The crown goes to Bridget in a time of 2:33 .
Sarah, pictured below (with a friend).

Interesting Fact of the Week

Only three Olympic Games have been cancelled. The Berlin Games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I in July 1914. Then, in 1940, Japan was due to host the Games and in 1944 London was the host, both times cancelled because of WWII.
This year will make the 4th time the Games have been cancelled. Again, Japan was planning to host the event and the cancellation is because of Coronavirus.

Diary Dates

Events have been removed until further notice, pending outcome of Coronavirus.