race report

Cockington Christmas Caper, 10 Dec 2011

Probably the muddiest race ever - the seven-mile Cockington Christmas Caper near Torquay saw a successful and enthusiastic Musketeer entry.

Nicole, Mark, Louise, Neil, Kevin, Guy, Bryan, Kate, Sarah, Maggie and Sharon took up the challenge in the hilly wooded valley and riverside that is the picturesque setting of the hall and grounds at Cockington.

The 11 intrepid Musketeers joined 160 other runners in wading through the glutinous stuff, clawing up steep banks, tiptoeing between treacherous claw-like slippery tree roots and stumbling over stones up steep slopes and in some cases, dramatically falling over stiles.

For veterans of this annual festive race, complete with goody bags including a mini-Christmas cake and mug, this was an altered route. Sections remained, but others were reversed while the start and close to the finish were different. The approach to the finish was quite novel and in total contrast to the rugged route preceding - taking us through the attractive gardens of the hall including steps and a meandering path round slower beds and decorative hedges.

One thing that remained was the slow slope up the finish, where a few last -gasp close duels were played out. And thankfully the challenging gruelling character of the race was retained.

All those sparkly clean running shoes certainly came back covered in red south Devon mud, as did all the legs including the odd scratch and graze and threaded shirts.

Guy indulged in a new tactic by diving spectacularly over the final stile and performing a paratrooper style double role. He amazingly gained ground on the runner in front and leapt up to finish unhurt. This manoeuvre left the young marshal open-mouthed and speechless - clearly expecting a casualty. But he was deprived of all the tiresome paper work that goes with injuries. Maybe this tactic can be included in dynamic training programmes from now on!

Finishing order: Guy, Neil, Kev, Mark, Sarah, Maggie, Nicole, Bryan, Sharon, Kate, and Louise.

Every Musketeer enjoyed the race and were impressed by the organisation and goodies. However, there was doubt about route-marking in two places where two runners went the wrong way.

This is a must for next year for Musketeers wanting something more adventurous which adds to strength and fabled core stability. It is also a great place to bring families for the walks, café and shop and nearby pub meals.

By Guy

Love Life Love Running Festival, Cannock, 23rd & 24th July 2011

As a lone Musketeer I travelled up to the festival on the Friday night where camping was provided on site near to the Birches Valley Visitor Centre - 8miles from M6. The site was filling up on arrival with lots of groups of club runners pitching - facilities were basic, portaloos and showers but the scenery made up for this!

Saturday woke to the sounds of generators inflating the huge McCain Track and Field information 'tent'. This contained lots of tests you could try like recorded sprint start and reflex tests. The site also had a local Sports shop selling running bargains - I got a jacket for £10! Lucozade were there handing out drinks, gels and tablets and generally advising on nutrition, face painting for children, sports therapist and food marquee.

At 10 amthere was a one mile charity race which lots of families took part in alongwith the more serious runners. The main race that I took part in was the 10Kthat took a route through the forest along fire breaks, heath land and trackways. It started at 1pm which on a veryhot day was less than ideal but encouraged by the other competitors and thesupport I headed for the start line - timing chip attached.

The race was tough going for me, lots of loose pebbles and to many inclines to love all of them, but really scenic. A water station at the half way mark with music helped to keep me going and the shock of seeing a woman in purple hurtle 5 metres above me - on a zip wire as part of the GoApe course. My time was a PW but I thoroughly enjoyed it and at the finish line Sally Gunnell was there cheering me over! The day rounded off with a pasta party (£5) and live music before crawling back to our tents.

The following morning I had to head home but those staying were taking part in a 6 hour 7K team event. Basically teams had to complete as many circuits as they could in the time -it was also open to any mad individuals who wanted to do it solo.

This is thesecond year the running festival has run and the organisers are hoping for it to be bigger and better next year. For an individual entry to the 10k of £16 you could camp from Friday evening until midday Monday with your family and friends included! One club Finch had every member of the club there with their families.

Perhaps next year we could try to get some more members along and even perhaps brave the 6Hour Challenge??


www.on-sitephotos.co.uk view your picture, events, Love LifeLove Running

by Sarah

Magnificent 7, Saltash, 17 Jul 2011

A magnificent lucky 13 Musketeers gave a great account of themselves at the Magnificent7 - the Tamar Trotters' seven-mile race round Saltash country roads.

Running conditions were good, despite the rain, being cool and with little wind. Being a Cornish Grand Prix event this was a big event with 411 finishers.

Our team included Chris Andrews 151st in 55.11 min, pace 7.52min permile, Neil Williams 172 in 56 min, pace 8, Dave 204 58.2min, pace 8.19, Bryan207 58.3, pace 8.21, Sharon S 218,59.22, pace 8.28, Ian Luya 240, 1h 45sec, pace 8.4, Kev 251, 1.01, pace 8.48,Michael 297 1.05 pace 9.18, Nicole 315 1.07.54, pace 9.41, Louise 325, 1.08.36, pace 9.47, Kate H 360,1.11.41, pace10.14, and Caroline 364, 1.12.27 pace10.20.

I was not sure what was 'magnificent' about this race. Unless it was the two cruel up-hills, one within the first mile of the start and the finish. If you were not warmed up before the start then the first up-hill would have forced you to walk. It was certainly a long hill and spread out the field considerably as they all tried to recover their breaths and strength for the next six miles.

The down hills were also tricky due to the wet surface and gravel adding to the feeling of danger of falling. There is a definite knack to running down hill at speed and I have not mastered it yet.

Some Musketeers will be familiar with the route because it follows some of theSaltash Half marathon earlier in the year - not that it makes is easier.Sometimes it is better not knowing what is coming.

Butit does not matter what you know about the so-called Chip Shop Hill which not only feels like it gets steeper as it gets to the top, it IS. However, all the Musketeer training has made us all stronger and able to recover quicker from extremes like mega steep hill climbs.

Having collected our excellent finishers' running shirts and eaten our Kit Kats we kept dry inside the Saltash Rugby Clubhouse and waited for the prize giving which was well worth the wait when Maggie scooped an age prize, that piano of hers' will be groaning under the weight of the prizes. And she will be turning into a right wino with the accompanying bottles.

By Guy

Tavistock Relays, 14 Jul 2011

The fleet of foot among the Musketeers turned up in force to create four teams for the Tavy Relay and run one mile.

The young male whippets among us came 18th out of 33 teams with Andy, in 6.08min, Neil, 6.45, Ashley, 5.15 and not-as-young-as-he-thinks Bryan, 7.48 -- with a combined time of 25min and 56 secs. Ashley was, in fact, more like a thorough-bred race horse among hobbled whippets.

Second of the Musketeers teams in 26th was the geriatrics among us including Guy, 6.13, Bryan (again), 7.31, Kev, 7.35,and not-at-all-aged Mark, 7.03, -- with a combined time of 28.22.

Third Musketeer team in 29th was the greyhounds Maggie, 7.16, Julia 8.05, Nicole, 7.58, Sarah, 7.48, -- with a combined time of 31.07.

Fourth musketeer team of headless chickens was last in 33rd place comprising Sarah (nobly running a second time) in 7.17, Kate, 8.37, Caroline, 8.42, and Louise, 8.47, -- in a combined time of 33.23. Sarah was rightly pleased with her fastest time being only one second behind our marvellous Maggie.

Overall our teams put up a good show over a course requiring sharp corners at each end as you sprint from one end of Tavistock riverside park to the other and back.

It might not appear to make sense, but those who ran two laps sometimes benefited by staying warmed up and in running mode for the second lap. Those that ran two laps consecutively were in an even better position; they just kept running and had the momentum to knock large chunks off their times - as happened in a few teams.

Those who have not run relays before except at school might find it daunting to consider, but a good team spirit is engendered and with so many runners in one place does create a noisy but fun competitive atmosphere. Anyone who wants to come along and watch would be most welcome to support and cheer - then you might be hooked to do another relay!

By Guy

Erme Valley Relays, Ivybridge, 1 Jul 2011

The Musketeers' entry into the Erme Valley Relays at Ivybridge was a last-minute one, which made its success even more praiseworthy.

Mark, Guy, Maggie and Neil flew the flag and as a mixed male and female and mixed agegroup which was probably one of the few of this composition in the hugely popular competition.

So us mixed-up crew decided on our race order and we were somewhat surprised to come 41st out of 65 teams. Each member had to run 2.5miles, with about one third down hill and the rest up.

Our racers' results in running order: Mark's time 18min and 16sec, Maggie 18m 47s, Neil 17m32s and Guy 15m 38s. The team placingswere drawn up by adding our times together to equal 70m 13s.

In contrast, the winners from Tavistock had a combined time of 53m, averaging about 13 minutes. The fastest time was 12 minutes.

I am proud of our result, especially as we were the lone representatives - there have been more Musketeer teams in the past. And we all gave up our Friday evening to do so.

Hopefully we can enter more teams next year.

By Guy

Dawlish Dash, 9 Jun 2011

A keen team of Musketeers left work on time in order to tackle the Dawlish Dash - one of the club's favourites.

It might be a rush to reach on a Thursday night after work, but the race is well worth it, especially this year when the weather was dry, sunny and perfectly clear to show off the dramatic coastal scenery at its best.

The race is about four miles long and very interesting - taking in beach pebbles and sand, groynes, steep bridges, uneven ground, promenade and narrow trails.

In order to get a good start on the beach section you need to think ahead and see where the tide is and therefore, where the wettest firmest sand is underfoot and plan your route.

While running on the firmest beach (preferably pebbles rather than loose sand on the upperbeach) you should keep your eyes open ahead for the best way to get over the groynes . On the upper beach the groynes are lower and can be hurdled to give you an advantage, ie less running on sand or pebbles.

On the runback to the promenade along the lower beach the sand is wetter and firmer, but the groynes are higher and you need to duck through the broken sections. It all requires good co-ordination to avoid tripping or banging heads.

Once you haveleft the beach via a slip way, the easier section lies ahead on the flatpromenade with plenty of supporters cheering you on. The promenade leads to an off-road gentlehilly and flat section alongside the railway line with large smooth stoneswaiting to trip you up.

Never letting you fall into any rhythm, the provocative Dash then takes you up and over a stepped bridge over the railway and then a small steep hill onto a path which passes through a small grassed area and along a narrow hedged path where overtaking is impossible except for the later stage.

Then we run over another stepped railway bridge and onto the promenade where there is just timefor a sprint finish back to Dawlish Warren.

Results: Out of 158 finishers, Team Musketeers finishers were Neil 50th in 26min 45sec, Graham 57th in 27.17,Maggie, 79th in 29.06, Dave, 82nd in 29.38, Michael 99th in 31.15 (last year 32.26), Sarah 123rd in 35.16 and Caroline 124th in 35.16. The winner finished in 20.17.

Having accepted our finishers' slate coaster souvenirs from organisers Dawlish CoasterRunning Club, we rushed to the chippy for a well-deserved evening meal on the move.

By Guy

St Austell 6 Mile and Half Marathon, 26 May 2011

A high-achieving team of Musketeers took the St Austell six-mile race by storm viagra et ordonnance.

Caroline, Neil, Maggie Guy, Tracey and Neil decided it was good training for the Plymouth half Marathon.

We definitely made a splash and were noticed by other clubs as well as posting some top results.

The route was very scenic with some off and some on-road and included a killer hill which got steeper towards the summit - which was where the finish was, and woodland and (near the start) one of the steepest descents we have tackled.

We all finished safely and were pleased with times, even Neil, who complained about being pressured by Guy into completing the full session at (off-road) track training the day before on Saturday which was run by Chris MP.

Out of 64 finishers Guy was seventh with 44min with a pace of 7min 22 sec per mile, Neil was 14th in 47 min at 7min 55 sec per mile, Maggie 23rd in 51 min at a pace of 8min 31 sec per mile, Tracey 37th in 58min 22sec at 9min 43 sec pace and Caroline 43rd in one hour one min at 10min 15 sec pace.

We six-milers then waited patiently for Chris Andrews to plod sedately round the half marathon course - round a similar route. He vainly tried to entice Guy to join in the half having finished his race to 'enjoy' another six miles.

The indestructible Chris finished the half in an admirable 74th out of 109 finishers in one hour 55min at a pace of 8min 47sec. �. And the brave iron man is planning to run the Plymouth Half!

The well organised race is well worth a trip by even more Musketeers next year. You get an excellent goody bag and race HQ is in a nice dry sports centre and refreshments are offered before and after the race. Runners' families could even make themselves at home there or on the beach near to the start.

By Guy

Armada 5k Series, Saltram, 11 May 2011

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

Musketeers included: Kate, Neil, Chris MP, Bryan, Caroline, Sharon S and Sarah Sam, Kate, and Jackie out to improve their speed and experience of the race environment and stir their competitive blood.

The event is not a race, but rather a trial with runners testing themselves to see if they can improve their times run by run and against each other - if that helps.

There were 130 runners: Neil came 28th in 21min 54sec, Chris MP 58th 23.13, Sharon Stephens 67th 23.49, Bryan 75th 24.31, Sarah 84th 25.48, Nicole 93rd 26.54, Sam 107th 28.46, Caroline 109th 29.04, Kate 54th 29.05 and Jackie 29.36.

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.

This might be repeating myself, but here goes: It is very hard work and therefore, runners might like to see it as training for stamina, speed and easier recovery after hard effort. The trouble we all have is warming up during the race and therefore, by the time we are into our stride and breathing patterns (instead of gasping) the race is half-way over.

So I would recommend the vital warm-up before the race, both a trot up the hill and down and some of Chris MP's special dynamic warm-ups. It all gets the heart pumping and muscles warmer and gives you a better start. There is always the temptation to rocket off down the hill at the start without getting into a manageable stride and before you are ready to get into a steadier manageable fast pace. It is aall to tempting to keep up with the faster runners and be swept along, but hold back until you are ready and then you will find you have more left for the first hill and start over taking others who have over done things.

For everyone who took part 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 run is Wednesday 8th June

By Guy