Weekly News – Thursday 17th September

Thursday 17th September

Westbury Harriers – Weekly News

Editor’s Piece

I bet you weren’t expecting a newsletter on Thursday, well neither was I! Tamsin’s my boss and she’s a hard task master. If you imagine Lord Sugar and Chef Gordon Ramsey rolled into one (but with more swearing) you might just get the idea. Anyway, Tamsin said to me the printing presses don’t stop just because I decide to take a holiday, so this week you’ve got a holiday special!

I’ll be honest, I’m between breaks so I’ve got some time on my hands and this gives me something to do. This week I returned from Copenhagen and the travelling was quite an unpleasant experience. There was zero social distancing during and between getting on and off my easyJet flight. Fortunately, next week no air travel is involved as I’m driving to Wales and then Yorkshire for a cycling holiday. Let’s just hope I avoid any local lock downs.

Pavilion Open Day

Many of you will have seen the video guide of the club house renovation on Facebook. Now you have the opportunity to see it for real!

On Saturday 26th September the pavilion will be open between 8:30am to 11:00 providing you with an opportunity to pop your head around the door and view the changes.

Obviously we need to be mindful of Covid-19 government guidelines so no more than 6 at a time, but as the clubhouse is open for most of the morning it should be possible to stagger any arrivals. For example, some of the Saturday Watertower runners may like to incorporate a quick ‘flyby’ on their morning run.

Thursday Club Intervals

Remember to pace yourself because we steadily increase each interval by 10 seconds up to a full minute. Tonights session involves 5 sets of x 30, 40, 50, 60 with half time recovery, 90 secs between sets. Optional 4 mins at the end or 6 x 20 sec reps. I look forward to seeing you all.


Severn Bridge 10K Sunday 30th August

The biggest winner was the weather, followed closely by the organisers who, faced by enforced last minute changes to Covid-19 guidelines in Wales, successfully switched the event to England.

A pleasant sunny day saw 730 people complete the scenic, but testing, out and back course between Aust and Chepstow on the Old Severn Bridge. Westbury Harriers racers were, as in most events, led home by Alex Hamblin (SM) in 22nd place (35.30) followed by Chris Newby with an excellent 36.42 which took him to 2nd place M45 and into the top 100 M45s in the UK.

Next in was Mike Mewse, 1st M65 (and ahead of all the M60s) with a very respectable 44.43,  followed by Trevor Fitsall (M45) with a solid 46.48. 

Sandra Wiliams was another Harrier getting a “podium finish” with a 3rd place in the F45 category (47.03) whilst Helen Sawyer was 4th F50 in 50.28. 

Tim Carr (M50) has obviously been putting in some good quality lockdown training and ran a fine 50.18  – very close to a ten year PB, demonstrating great potential! 

Ewan Cameron (M60) had a good run for 12th category place in 55.11.

Great Virtual Run across Tennessee (GVRAT)

Carol, Trudi and Paul took part in the Great Virtual Run across Tennessee (GVRAT) and had a picture taken in their GVRAT t-shirts. They also received an impressive looking finishers buckle for their efforts. The GVRAT was also completed by Westbury Harriers’ Chris Lowe and Tim Synge.

Which brings me nicely on to another challenge completed by Tim. And in his own words…


The Endurancelife events are pretty tough. I took on the South Devon Marathon a few years ago and recorded comfortably my slowest marathon with a time of 6 hours and 45 minutes. So I know that they have to be treated with respect. Planning my 2020 race diary, I decided to enter their Exmoor Marathon which was scheduled for early April. That was duly postponed and rescheduled for 1 September. A diary clash meant that I had to look for a different event to transfer to and, for some bizarre reason, I ended up with a place in the Classic Quarter.

“The task is brutally simple: to run non-stop from the southernmost point of England (Lizard Point), to the western most tip (Land’s End), along the legendary South West Coast Path. This translates to running 90 degrees of the compass, hence the name, Classic Quarter. Following 44 miles of the mesmerising South West Coast Path there are innumerable steep climbs and descents.

Plenty of warning signs there, then, for a fifty-something runner who, before lockdown, had struggled round the Duchy 20 in just under three-and-a-half hours and whose longest lockdown run was 12 miles in early May. I don’t know what made me think I was going to be able to do this and I suppose I was relying on mental optimism rather than physical preparation. On the plus side, I had maintained a run streak throughout lockdown, so that would count for something.

Early on Saturday, we were duly deposited in the village named Lizard and told to walk down the lane to the start. Social distancing was maintained and, instead of the usual mass start, we were sent off at around 20 second intervals. The first runners had left by 5:45 and they were still departing at 7:15.

The first miles were utterly lovely. Flat cliff tops as we passed Kynance Cove and made our way to the first water station at Mullion Cove. The sun had risen and was just starting to illuminate the land. Soon, the sweep of coast all the way round to Penzance and Mousehole was visible.

The second checkpoint came up pretty quickly after that, at Church Cove, and I felt really happy and confident. In the back of my mind was a target of 4mph for a finish in around 11 hours. I knew there was a long flat stretch on road and cycle tracks from Marazion through Penzance to Newlyn and Mousehole and this would offer an easy mid-race section. If the final third was as accessible as this first part, all would be good …

On to Porthleven, another place that was previously just a name on the map. It was quite a sizeable settlement and there was a long run around the harbour into town and out again. Lots of tourists by now sitting at breakfast bars and watching the nutters run past.

My wife gave me one of those fantastic Ultimate race vests for Christmas. It’s a bit like a waistcoat with two water bladders on the front and a decent storage capacity on the back. This was its maiden outing. I had filled both bottles with water but was soon feeling the need for something else. We ran across Praa Sands – a beautiful beach which I had never visited before – and I spotted a beachside bar. The decision to cede a few minutes for a visit to the bar to buy a pint of coca cola with ice was a good one!

The fourth water station was also checkpoint 2 at Perranuthnoe. The bag drop service was working well and I topped up my supply of mini pork pies and cocktail sausages, also drained my reserve coke can. We were around the halfway point and my split to here turned out to be 5:12, so just ahead of my planned 4mph pace. Excellent.

The route continued along cliff tops and gradually St Michael’s Mount got closer. Into Marazion and I was really starting to feel the thirst. I popped into a convenience store and took a Lucozade from the fridge. At the counter, I thought the lady said “ticket”. “What?” “Take it!” How generous – a free drink for the weary runner. “Thank you very much!”

Through the water station at Penzance and on through Newlyn, a busy fishing port. A roadside Co-op lured me in for another Lucozade. Frustration as people in front of me in the queue fiddled and faffed. On to Mousehole. The route went a bit around the back of the village, presumably for reasons of social distancing, and so I didn’t see the pretty harbour at all.

Suddenly, the race changed complexion completely. Narrow paths winding across bracken-covered slopes, stones and rocks in the paths and some distinctly unfriendly terrain. I think the thirty-mile mark had come up on my Garmin by now and I was still on an average of 4mph until 36 miles, but I was already slowing. Water was not quenching my thirst and the look of the pastry on my remaining pork pies was turning my stomach. This was becoming a struggle. I was forced to walk on the rough sections and, even where there was an open and clear path without obstacles, I was struggling to run.

I was almost tripping over the slightest protuberance on the ground. If there was a slight upward gradient, I walked. If there was level ground, I walked unless I could see that it went for at least 50 metres ahead of me. If there was a gentle downhill, I walked unless I could see that it was clear at least 50 metres in front of me. It seemed like too much effort to try and run for any shorter distance. And there were precious few sections that met my new criteria.

Water station 6 (out of 7) came up at Lamorna Cove. My aunt has told me for years that Lamorna Cove is her favourite cove anywhere in Cornwall. I found it looked quarried, depressing and ugly. The water station had run out of coke. This was now turning into something awful. I no longer had much idea what time it was and the afternoon seemed to have passed by while I was descending into this mid to late-race disaster. I figured that I must have about ten miles to go. If I could maintain 2mph, I might be there by around 8pm. What on earth had possessed me to enter this?

Through the penultimate section and towards the final water station at the Minack. The route wound its way down into coves and up the other side. I was starting to despair.

I was finding it difficult to plant one foot at a level lower than the other foot and was starting to turn sideways on to step down off rocks. As for going up … my quads were now cramping so badly when ascending flights of steps or climbing over rocks that I had to keep stopping until they settled down again. Other runners who knew the area had talked of the second half of the route being technical and I was finding out what they had meant. I spent the two miles leading to the Minack with one clear thought in my mind. I would withdraw from the race. I didn’t need another medal. I would have covered 40 miles by then and that was jolly good. I would have time for an evening meal. I would cancel my plans for two Autumn marathons. I would be happy to run half marathons from here on in. No doubts and no regrets, that is how it would be.

Eventually, the Minack water station hove into view. Bottles of coke on the table. Crisps! I found a picnic bench and tucked in. Someone said the last five miles were easier. Someone else said there were still 30 runners behind us. I turned my phone on for the first time, figuring that the family might like some news. “40 miles done. About five to go, ETA by 8pm.” I refilled my water bottles and set off.

The English Channel was sparkling in the sunlight as the sun began to go down. The cliff tops were once again flattish and open. Life was good. The remaining miles passed by in less than 20 minutes each. The finish came into view. What a marvellous event!

Writing this, I find it hard to believe that I kept going – I was so convinced that I was going to withdraw that it had gone way beyond any debate in my mind, it was a certainty. And yet …

Second half split was 7:21. The official results have me down at 170th out of 186 finishers. But I’m quite happy with that. I finished!

Strava Results of the Week…

Tim Clothier is away working in Pembrokeshire but that’s not prevented him from getting out and running. In fact it looks as if he’s incorporated yesterday’s run into his commute. Tim was obviously keen to get back as he completed segment Five Cross Hill in a time of 2:18, taking a 7th place cup.

Diary Dates

Sunday 20th September. Hullavington 5k. A 5-kilometre run over a certified accurate course and compliant with the with the latest UK Government health advice concerning COVID19. Medal and Cake for all finishers. RACE FULL

Saturday 26th September Pavilion Open Day Morning, a chance to see the newly renovated club house.

Sunday 4th October. 40th Anniversary Virtual London Marathon. https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/index.html

Sunday 4th October Clarendon Marathon (with half and mini options). A trail event that takes place from Salisbury to Winchester along the ancient Clarendon Way. https://www.clarendon-marathon.co.uk

Editor this Week

Ian Gawinowski is Westbury Harriers Communications Officer and can be contacted via communciation@westburyharriers.co.uk