Monthly archives: May 2012


The toughest runners in the Musketeers plunged into darkest deepest Cornwall to take part in the first ever Imerys Marathon and half Marathon.

While others were running with the Olympic Torch the real hard core Dave M, Neil W, Caroline E, Guy B and Louise W tackled the clay pits and 'Cornish Alps' and survived, but only just.

Louise was encouraged round the half marathon by Neil, leaving Caroline behind. Louise was under her target of two hours and that on a very undulating course strewn with sinking sand and stones and despite her falling! Looks like she could be setting the pace soon for the women and beating most of the men.

Caroline succeeded very well, despite having run almost non-stop for past two or three weeks on runs like the Black Death (where she felt as she had faced death in the face). Both Caroline and Neil are in bonny Scotland for the Edinburgh Half in a few days, so it was a brave decision to take part at all. I have a lot to learn from Neil and Caroline's determination to push to their limits.

Dave thundered round the marathon brining down avalanches and causing rift valleys where ever he ran and it was all worth while, not just to train for the Dartmoor Discovery, but also for topping his age category and winning a prize.

As is common with St Austell Running Club events, this is was very well organised and fully marshalled with everything you needed to run a race. I perhaps should have taken my own gels and had to rely on jelly babies and jelly beans to get me through. It compares in difficulty with the Eden Project Marathon (run over similar terrain) and I would say it was harder.

This may be a regular run for those who like tackling the hard stuff.

by Guy

Black Death Run – 13 May 2012

What could go wrong? - a race called Black Death, enough to strike fear into your heart before you event reach the start line.

However, the name of the race relates to the location - a village wiped out by the plague between Minehead and Taunton.

But it might as well describe the race which is ten miles of many daunting inclines of largely stony forest tracks. More than most races it certainly feels longer than ten miles.

The race is more of an event than most with its own metal arched and named start, hog roast, samba band and bar etc. To add to the atmosphere the race marshals dress as the Grim Reaper and the finishers' non-technical t-shirt features a reaper while trophies were skull-shaped.

Despite this morbid theme (or perhaps because of it) the ten-mile race attracted 261 runners including intrepid Musketeers: Sharon A, Sarah A, Darren D, Bryan K, Louise K, Caroline E, Neil W, Maggie L and Guy B.

Not content with completing the Tavistock 10km the night before some of these Musketeers volunteered to do it all again, but harder. Hard core or what? Do they know when to stop?!

All but Guy completed the race in one group which Louise reckons is harder than the infamous Castle Drogo off-road race.

The first two miles are a steep and winding climb. Two thirds of the way through is a shorter but steeper climb which really is cruel as you are getting very tired. This last major hill is also out in the open and under the sun this time. Most of the route is cool under the trees and some is muddy and never dries out. One short muddy bank takes a sliding racer either into the runners in front or directly into a stream.

There are as many descents as climbs and some are worse than ascents because you have less control and they put more stress on the knees. I think Caroline would agree on that. This was Guy's second Black Death which he managed in eight minutes faster than last year. I am not sure if the others would all do it again, hopefully some will.

The organisers do a very good job with plenty of water stops, numbers issued by post before hand and good directions to a remote spot and top entertainment and refreshments and prompt results service. A major complaint however, was poor route signage prix viagra en pharmacie france. Guy was lost twice and a fellow runner was also lost once, due to poor signs and some marshals not directing at crucial points.

Lots of thanks must go to honorary Musketeer Penny who supported vociferously and took photos as well as finishing the 3-mile fun run.

By Guy

Armada Saltram 5k Series – 9 May 2012

The second of this Saltram five monthly event speed series attracted 9 Musketeers.

The idea is not to race and there are no prizes, it is a personal time trial. The series is designed to give you a monthly chance to improve your times over the same shortish distance on the same route at regular intervals. This will help you pace yourself and work out your pace and hopefully achieve a personal best for the distance near the end of the series. 5km is about three miles, so it gives you an idea of your minute/mile pace. And it is good training. So what is not to like?

The Musketeers' results of the May 5km (total 74 runners):

27th Neil Williams 22m 32s 33rd Mark Pearson 23.12 34th Louise Wade 23.34 41st Chris Whipp 24.34 46th Nicole Balmer 26.11 49th Ieuan Jones 26.46 56th Richard Best 28.29 64th Caroline Erickson 31.36

The results of the April 5km:

13th Guy Boswell in 19m 56s 32nd Richie Masson 12.48 44th C Fritzsche 23.13 46th Chris Menlove-Platt 23.50 50th Chris Whipp 24.43 62nd Lucy Short 26.33 73rd Sam Goss 28.01 78th Richard Best 28.36 80th Jodie Macmillan 28.39 85th Helen Stimpson 29.45

The run is mostly along rough track and includes a steep down hill at the start and finish, with two up-hills and an undulating riverside stretch in between May's 5km was held in wet conditions which made the wooded area especially difficult to run through.

So far Richard B and Chris W are the only two to have taken part in both. Both have improved and hopefully it has helped their running overall.

The 5kms are on the second Wednesdays of the month: 13 June 11th July 15th August. Anyone can join in. Just turn up at about 6.30 pm close to Saltram House and register at each run by paying

Ivybridge 10k – 12 May 2012

The first real test of 10km speed this spring/summer came in the Ivybridge race and attracted a fantastic 34 or more Musketeers. This enthusiasm for racing is certainly catching.

This amazing turn-out, including first-time racers, is very encouraging to see because it can mean Musketeers have set themselves targets for the future. Runners have also seen how their training has prepared them and what they now might need to do for future races.

It was a perfect evening for racing and many set themselves ne personal bests for that distance or for that course - there is nothing more rewarding. Others were merely racing for the first time and looked as if they enjoyed it. Others found it hard going and suffered for their cause, but will return strongly. In Musketeer fashion some sacrificed their good times to run with others and encourage them.

If you are really keen you can aim for the next 10km race and try to improve. There are some flatter 10kms such as Exeter or Torbay and maybe St Austell and Plymouth.

Ivybridge is enormously popular because it is close to home and has a second half which is largely flat and some downhill - perfect for that phrase negative split, meaning you run the second half a of a race faster than the first half. In this race that pacing can be forced on you as the first half is hillier with one steep incline under the bridge. Now that many more Musketeers know the route for the first time, they can pace themselves for next year.

The Musketeers in finishing order: 1 Guy B 39m 52s, 2 Eroy A 43 55, 3 Neil W 44 52, 4 Chris A 45 48, 5 Mark P 46.01, 6 Louise W 46.07, 7 Chris MP 46.09, 8 Darren D 46.14, 9 Chris W, 50.11, 10 Nicole B 52.09, 11 Linda K 52.36, 12 Graham K 52.37, 13 Lucy S 53.17, 14 Ieuan J 54.02, 15 Sarah H 54.44, 16 Sam G 55.35, 17 Thommy W 55.36, 18 Richard B 55.58, 19 Michael P 56.11, 20 Joanna S 56.23, 21 Donna B 57:10, 22 J B 57.13, 22 Sharon A 57.13, 23 Annette T 59.07, 24 Bryan K 59.07, 25 Kate S 59.07, 26 Julie B 1h17s, 27 Damian M 1h 18s, 28 Nicky H 1h18s, 29 Jodie M 1h31s, 30 Helen S 1h51s, 31 Lorraine Davies 1h2m07s, 32 Caroline Erickson 1h3m59s, 33 Kerry Jackson 1h9m39s, 34 Kathy WG 1h14m18s

Apologies for anyone I have left out.

By Guy

Musketeers Newsletter: Issue #2

From the editor: Welcome to the second Musketeers newsletter of the year. 2012 has already been eventful. The future of the club looks brighter than ever with a growing reputation for enthusiastic membership and slick 'professional' organisation.


For those who have missed the biggest news: Congratulations to Sharon Adams for being chosen as the PM new chairman after a vote by the faithful at the AGM. Sharon fills the shoes of the club's first ever chairman Bryan King having formed the club over four years ago.

Sharon is well known to most of you as an active long-term member and for her role as treasurer and selling club clothes. She is also a keen racer and rewards us all in her role as biscuits and drinks monitor. Sharon is also qualified to take running groups.


For the first time PM now has a life-long president, a consequence of Sharon taking Bryan's position as chairman. Bryan is now president - reward for forming the club and helping become the fastest growing running club in the Plymouth area and probably the most friendly - as our motto goes.


Chris M-P remains coach co-ordinator and master of the mind games, Kev remains membership king, Neil is still secretary and has reduced his email output, while Thom has snatched the keys of the treasure chest from Sharon as new treasurer and Darren Dunridge is member-without-portfolio. Others: Nicole Balmer is the web master, Ian Luya is the social secretary and Guy the club captain without-uniform


The year has begun strongly with larger and more frequent entries than would be expected from a new and relatively small club. This proves there is a strong competitive core, despite our cuddly friendliness. The latest big race was the Saltash half Marathon which drew an amazing 21 Muskies. Other big races are the 3rd June Plymouth Half Marathon and 14th July Duckponds 7km (about 5 miles) at Plymstock (entry paid for by PM).


PM very own 5-mile race in St Dominic, SE Cornwall, in aid of Jeremiah's Journey charity for bereaved children is on Saturday 23rd June for which sponsorship is sought. Dave Mathias is the expert on that. One way is for members can seek sponsorship for the Plymouth Half to raise money for Jeremiah's Journey.


i) After the hugely popular Plymouth Half Marathon a so-called recovery booze cruise has been organised for a mere £5 by Ian - tickets from Caroline.

ii) Neil and Caroline's wedding party on June 9 at PM club house, following his Dartmoor Discovery Race - ultra marathon. Must be bonkers!

By Guy

Saltash Half Marathon, 6 May 2012

A fantastic turn-out by Team Musketeers in the Saltash Half Marathon - one of the top 5 hardest road or off-road half marathons in the SW.

Twenty members and one past member 'survived' the 13 miles round the rarely level course round Saltash and Forder taking in the scenic hills which have distant and close river and woodland views.

There is little respite from the up and down clines, but the undulating course also keeps runners' attention and there is no chance to be bored or pray for the end because there is too much to needing your concentration and because you are too out of breath to pray!

This was a record start for the Musketeers in this race and a close second to the record Plymouth Half entry last year. It was very rousing to see such happy people all in a strange turquoise colour finishing a tough race and none were broken athletes.

I like to think our mutual bond as a band of brother and sisters carries us through the toughest miles in such races. It is a spirit demonstrated by the joint finish of several Muskies all holding hands - probably because they'd otherwise fall over! ... And shown by the noisy reception for everyone at the finish by those who had already suffered.

The race started for the first time at Saltash FC next to the leisure centre and was a far better venue than at the town hall. This left space for food and retail stands which made it feel like a proper event. Steve was a masterful master of ceremonies for the Tamar Trotter race and somehow avoided being rude to the top club in the Plymouth area. The race was excellent value with a great goody bag and running shirt for only £10 - lessons to be learned by other race organisers.

On a negative side the route was much too convoluted on return to Saltash, which led to doubt in tired minds and hindered progress on weary legs when you needed nothing to worry about apart from finishing.

Saltash conquerers out of 176: 28th Guy B 1h37m, 69th Neil W 1.47, 72nd Mark P 1.49, 88th, Darren D 1. 50, 122nd Chris W 2h, 125th Sarah H 2.1, 130th - 131st Bob C and Sharon S, 2.02, 136th Lucy S 2.05, 144th Nicole B, 2.07, 146th Sharon A 2.08, 149th Sam G 2.09, 159th Caroline E 2.23, 165th - 171st Louise K, 2.28, Kev 2.28, Annette T, 2.28, Ian L, 2.28, Michael P 2.28, Dave W 2.28 and Bryan K 2.28. As a newly returning member it was good to see Sharon S racing again, she sure picked a tough one to make a come-back.

Former member Jenny Kumah 110 1.55.

By Guy

Haldon Heartbeat – 28 April 2012

After the wettest April ever the amphibious Musketeers racing snakes went into action.

Seven of us braved the rain in the 8ish forest miles of the Haldon Heartbeat race, starting at Exeter Race Course on Haldon Hill.

This was the second of the Heatbeat races and was a different course to last year when four of us completed it. This year notably excluded the initial circuit of the race course.

The charity race attracted 221 finishers with the stars of the show being the Musketeers in finishing order: 39th Guy 1h 33seconds, 73rd Dave 1h 6min, 95th Neil 1h 9min 34sec, 185 & 186 Darren and Sharon 1h 25min and 50sec and 51 secs respectively, 217th Sarah A 1h 37m 34secs and 219th Caroline 1h 38min 26sec. Not to forget Plymouth Harrier (and honorary Musketeer) Jane Allison was 40th in 1h 44secs.

After a freezing wet and windy start we tackled a trail run with plenty of forest tracks and a particularly slippery muddy hill where even the best fell, deep puddles also claimed victims, especially Jane who is closer to the ground than most. Even the strongest and tallest were caught unawares at the depth of some puddles and came close to diving in.

This was a test of keeping your balance while maintaining eye contact and foot contact with the uneven and muddy terrain at all times. It was a great experience and very rewarding to complete such a demanding race, regardless of the position

Yet again the Musketeers did their club proud, coming half way as a team. The club was also the largest by far of clubs from Plymouth with only three other runners from two Plymouth clubs. We may be friendly, but we have competitive teeth, grrrrrr.

By Guy