race report

Haldon Heartbeat 8 Mile, 23 Apr 2011

A new race is always more exciting and the Haldon Heartbeat 8-mile trail race through Haldon Forest near Exeter did not disappoint after the anticipation.

Maggie, Mark Nicole and Guy ran into the unknown on a hot

day expecting cool gladed forest runs. But there was little shade on the firm tracks.

We started interestingly at a canter in the open sun with a lap round Exeter Race Course (on the spectators path) which acted an effective warm-up.

From then on we were on easily negotiated wide dry tracks which were largely undemanding until about half way when the route became hilly. The sun then decided to turn up the heat on the longest hill which did add to the draining effort needed.

An eight-mile run is fairly unusual and was designed by Haldon Trail Runners Club. It is probably equivalent in effort to a nine-mile race on road and it helped that it was dry underfoot.

Out of 182 finishers Guy was 24th in 59 min, Mark 122nd in 1hour 11min, Maggie 157th in 1hour 16min and Nicole 205th in 1hour 24min.

Maggie was especially pleased as she had not raced for a long time and was second in her age group - very good for her confidence. Nicole is new to racing and was also happy with her time while Mark was surprised how well he did.

This is a relatively undemanding course compared with some trail or off-road runs and therefore, a good introduction for those who are nervous of running off roads. It is also well organised with a good technical

running shirt as reward and refreshments (inc home made cakes) at the race course bar. The only glitch was rationing of water at the finish when they ran out (temporarily). This afternoon race is also easily reached and close by Plymouth on the A38. May be more Musketeers will enter next year.

By Guy

Armada 5k Series, Saltram, 13 Apr 2011

The first race of the spring and summer Armada 5km time trials through Saltram attracted Musketeers in force.

Musketeers included: New girl Nicky, Kate, Caroline, Neil, Annie, Chris MP, Sharon S and Darren (apologies to those I have forgotten) to join the other cluster of Plymouth club members who are keen to improve their speed and get a taste of racing atmosphere and conditions and maybe to get competitive for the first time.

The event is not strictly a race, but rather a trial with runners testing themselves to see if they can improve their times over each run. The series is a continuation of the winter 3km series.

The distance is short enough for runners to build up a fast pace each month at perhaps about 80% of their fastest, may be what they run in 3km to 5km.

The idea is for runners to regard it as training for stamina, speed and easier recovery after hard effort. The ease at which you recover can be assessed after the total 5km or after each of the hills on the 5km course. The more of the 5kms you do the better you will be at getting your breath and aching muscles back into normal running gear when you are in a longer race - and hopefully leave those other runners behind at the top of a hill - say in the Plymouth Half! It is a great advantage to have some strength and breath left at the top of the hill rather than being stranded exhausted as others pass you.

As I cannot find the results, not important, I will only mention a few people who I remember (and apologies to those who I forget), including Neil coming first for the club, Darren second, Chris MP next, and a special mention of Nicky who was in her first 'race' and ran very well and seemed pleased. Sharon ran with Annie on her race debut, one of her fast improving flock, who should be pleased with her achievement and encouraged in her ambition to do the next one. For everyone who took part (excluding me) a well done and hopefully they will all continue with the series and encourage others to take part. It can only improve running confidence and racing ability.

The next race is Wednesday 11th May.

By Guy

Taunton Marathon and Half Marathon, 3 Apr 2011

A select band of Musketeers took part in the Taunton Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday 3rd April and all enjoyed personal success in achieving their running goals.

The course is relatively flat compared with those we are mostly used to in Plymouth and Cornwall especially. And was the place where I achieved my first under-1.5hour half, so it has the potential for personal best times for all abilities.

Three Musketeers completed the marathon, Sharon Adams in her first marathon - an ambition she declared openly and bravely to the club a long time ago and thereby committing herself publicly. She ran the hugely demanding distance in aid of St Luke's Hospice in Plymouth and in memory of her father who died a year ago at the hospice. Her mother and brother and family all cheered her

In the event, despite being soaked in the final four miles, she finished strongly in under her target time of 4 hours 30min - crossing the finish in 4 hours 27 minutes. Congratulations to her. All that abstinence from the evils of drink and all that dedicated training for months on end paid off. Her minders - sorry trainers - Darren and 100-marathon man Bryan are also owed praise for their dedicated support and for doing the race with her. May be the secret to her success was trying desperately to run away from Darren! In the event she escaped with only a blister on her toe - just shows what training can do. After my first marathon I was fine until the next day when I could only crawl out of bed and killed off half my toe nails.


The more 'sensible' Musketeers, ie Chris Andrews and Louise, joined the large half marathon field of 1,232.

Chris finished in 1hour 46min and 49 seconds in a position of 424 and Louise in 2hours and 42 seconds in 761st position (I think it was her third fastest time ever at that bdistance). She is on a very fast streak of excellent running form, having achieved under two hours for only the second time in her career at this year's Bideford Half.

Chris deserves a special mention for coming back from a few weeks' injury and recovering quickly with a good time. With his determination he should not have a problem getting back o full fitness and into his running stride. Not so sensibly, doubtless his sense of adventure will take him off the gentle Somerset roads and into the wilderness, onto the wilds of a multi-terrain/cross-country run sooner or later. While more sensibly Louise has a week off!

As an ''honorary Musketeer'' Penny Hadfield-Bennett completed her first half marathon in two years in 2hours 35min in 1,180 position, having over taken 52 runners from starting last position. Thanks to keen supporters Kev and Lena.

By Guy

Duchy 20, Redruth, 13 Mar 2011

A record-sized posse of Musketeers tackled the unusual distance of 20 miles in the Duchy 20 at Redruth.

This strong entry follows on from the fantastic showing and high numbers of personal bests at the week earlier in the Bideford Half.

The high entry for the Duchy 20 reflects the higher than average numbers of Musketeers training for marathons. Sharon A is on course to complete her first marathon after a strong finish in 3houra 16min - her longest ever run and something to give her confidence for the longer run.

Sharon was a little down on her self, complaining about feeling too tired at the end, but then anyone who runs 20 miles will be very tired. Also in any race of any distance, if you run as fast as you can then you will always be exhausted at the finish - it is therefore, natural and this was a significant step on her long marathon journey.

She must be pleased at her pace as well at 9min 48sec, surely she would not have expected to run that far at that pace only a few months ago - excellent progress. Our celebrity Sharon was surrounded by her beefy 'bodyguards' Darren, Bryan and Kevin - could be another record for the 'most supported runner in the club'.

No such support for Graham's excellent longest ever race (though not his longest run) in 2hours 46min, at a superb pace of 8min 19sec mile which promises a fast Paris Marathon in a few weeks. Graham's dedicated training has paid of well and he is now 'tapering' down for his first marathon, he is looking strong.

Although his marathon is not until a few months yet Neal could well enter the 'big one' in April and complete it comfortably after finishing seven minutes behind his training partner Graham in 2h 53 at a pace of 8min 40sec and all with a calf injury, which makes it even more of a praise worthy achievement.

That mere youngster Gavin was somewhat behind the others finishing in 3h 44min, which is hardly surprising with his lack of training - just shows what a difference it makes.

The course is fairly flat most of the way, only broken by one rather lengthy and testing and cruel hill - but nothing that will kill the prepared runner ou acheter du viagra en france.

Major complaints were the lack of marshals at key junctions and the confusing mile markers and direction signs. The 20-mile race was run at the same time and on the same course -which is where the confusion lay. It would help to have mileage colour-coded (in the same way the runner numbers were) for both races - even where the route coincided.

Other than that every other aspect of the race was well organised and it is a luxury to have a hotel to change and recover in.

By Guy

Bideford Half Marathon, 6th Mar 2011

A record breaking squad of Musketeers exceeded their expectations and further enhanced the club's growing reputation.

An amazing 13 runners completed the 13-mile route along the river and canal on a route which has a reputation for having the potential to yield fast times.

Most of us lived up that reputation and took up the challenge on perfect running conditions.

Personal bests were achieved by many and if they were not always career best, they were at least the fastest for many years for some veteran runners.

For those used to plodding round Plymouth, the course was relatively flat for the first half, with only gentle slopes set in picturesque landscape high above the meandering river. The second half was more or less flat along the canal water with only cyclists and other runners to tangle with.

For the first time I have known, there was no freezing head-wind when you cross an iron bridge some where on the final few miles, which can be more strength-sapping than you realise until you stop and wonder why you were not faster or why you are so tired.

Of particular note were Annette and Caroline on their first half marathons. Annette was rightly overjoyed at her time being under two hours one hour 57. Her and Michael and Ian ran in company and helped each other in true Musketeer style. Caroline came in at 2hours 22min which, I think, was better than she expected.

Rodney belied his years and finished in one hour 35 211th out of about 1,200 - pretty impressive. He has not achieved that for several years.

Neil continued his determined improvement with a storming 1h 38 in 272. Sharon S in 1h 49, Kev 1h 50, Sarah 1h 52, set a PB, and Ian's first half was completed in a great 1h 57, Michael, 1h 57, achieved a brilliant PB, Louise 1h 58 - again everyone is very pleased and so is she with being under 2 hours, the last time was a few years ago! Mr King helped (I think) with his encouraging and selfless presence. Darren continues to improve with 1h 39, between training others.

There must be something in our tea on club night to account for the impressive performances. Or it could be the team spirit, positive thinking (thank you Chris) and training.

Long may it continue.

By Guy

Bicton ELF 5k & 10k, 22 Jan 2011

Three Musketeers attended the new races - the Exeter Leukaemia Fund women's 5k and men and women's 10k at Bicton, near Exmouth.

Neil, Guy and Caroline had been kept waiting since before Christmas for this race when it was postponed due to the snowy weather until Saturday 22nd January.

However, the races were worth the wait. Caroline, in only her second race after the Plymouth January Jaunt through Saltram, was very pleased with her race and enjoyed it highly. She came 18th out of 61 finishers in 32min 37s - the winner finished in 18 min.

Neil was also very pleased with fantastic place (23rd out of 123 finishers) and his time at 50.37, (only three minutes or so slower than his January Jaunt time) - the winner finished in 40.29.

Both the 5lk and 10k race routes were trail races with a mixture of road and woodland and open tracks. The 5km had more road sections and the 10k only small sections of road.

The 10k would be familiar to those who have completed the infamous longer Bicton Blister race in the same area, but not as challenging.

All three of us would recommend more Musketeers take part as it is easy to get to, takes less than an hour to reach and is a pleasure to run.

We all said we were enjoyably distracted from the heat of competition by the scenery. Although many runners are not attracted to off-road races, these races do have the advantage of seeming to speed by faster than road races. This is because of the need to pay close attention to where you place your feet and to avoid tripping and to go in the right direction and due to the attractive rural scenery.

Running coaches also recommend taking part because they strengthen many parts of your body, legs and stomach, due to the need to keep a balance and for the ever-changing terrain and extra effort for harder surfaces such as mud or streams, stones and even crops!

By Guy

Dawlish Obelisk, 22 Jan 2011

One of the harder off-road races to kick off the season took place in Dawlish - called Oh My Obelisk!

A lone Musketeer took part aiming to equal his previous time and managed to just about do it.

Guy joined about 150 hardy souls who ran through boggy and muddy woods, along muddy trails and about two miles of road out of about 11 miles in total to reach the Obelisk high above Dawlish and back.

The terrain is ever changing and never allows you to rest or get into any routine for long.

For those who like off-road (also called multi-terrain) this is a challenge or tough, but not extreme.

Although, muddy, it was the driest for a few years and also the warmest, despite a gale blowing in your face in the last hundred metres at the start/finish at the leisure centre.

There were few runners who had travelled further than South Devon, but clubs were represented from Cornwall and west Devon.

It is a well organised race with water stops and helpful marshals. There are numerous prizes awarded at a presentation and changing rooms at the leisure centre.

Maybe Guy might have some company next year?

By Guy

January Jaunt 10k, 16 Jan 2011

A flying start to the new running year from a good turnout of getting fitter Musketeers for the January Jaunt 10km.

Getting those rusty legs into gear were Bryan, Sharon A, Chris Andrews, Neil Williams, Guy, Darren, Louise, Michael, Kev, Caroline Errickson and Lynsey Wilson. The latter two completed their first ever races and seemed to enjoy the experience which bodes well for the future - they deserve congratulations.

This is not the fastest race and the route is largely what might be called a trail run. The course is rarely flat, with a short road section and had a slippery uneven surface with added ice and frost on a cold but dry day and a steep hill at half way.

But it is a good first race of the new year with scenic river and woodland scenery - if you can appreciate it while running and trying to keep your footing and not running into anyone and recovering your breath.

Sharon was again accompanied by her minders/bodyguards or coaches Darren and Bryan. She seems to be on course for her ultimate aim of completing her first ever marathon. Neil continues his fast progress with a typically committed 47.56min finish - only ten minutes behind the winner who finished in 37min.

Chris missed the start, having gone off on a long warm-up, but caught up again and used the event as training for his Dartmoor Discovery 32-mile run, having run to and from the race via home, so a long run for him.

Michael enjoyed his run in just under one hour, supported selflessly by Kev, another marathoneer in training. This caring sharing running is catching (well for some) with Louise helping Caroline on her debut race to a very good 61.45min finish. Her next 10km will be under one hour.

Then Lynsey finished in 67.42min which should encourage her for future races.

There is nothing like entering a race for giving you confidence. The atmosphere and competitive environment is stimulating and shows you how far your training is taking you and usually very rewarding physically and mentally.

By Guy