- Tissington Trail Half-Marathon
- Northampton Half-Marathon
- Goodwood 20 Miles
- Balsall Common 10k
- Equinox 24-Hour
- Great Bristol 10k
- Warwickshire Bear Ultra
- Regency 10k
- Enigma Retro TV Cars Trail Marathon
- Brighton Marathon
- Kenilworth Half-Marathon
- Great North Run
- Torbay 10k
- Nuneaton 10k
- Richmond Runfest Half-Marathon
- Richmond Runfest 10k
- Milton Keynes 20 Mile
- Milton Keynes Half-Marathon
- Bedworth Park 5k
- Stratford Big 10k
Tissington Trail Half-Marathon – 26 September HM
Northampton Half-Marathon – 26 September HM
Goodwood 20 Miles – 26 September 20M
|11||Mark Baker||2:38:23||1st MV55|
This race involved 8 laps of Goodwood Motor Circuit. There were 5 races on track at the same time from 5km to a Marathon. It was a bit humid for running, but I completed my first 20 miles race in over 2 years.
Balsall Common 10k – 19 September 10K
Equinox 24-Hour – 18/19 SeptemberOTH
As the club’s annual trip to the 24 hour Equinox event approached, the teams’ chatter grew. Then the curse of Northbrook (the drop outs) hit, then the energy of Northbrook (the late stand-ins appeared) and the teams were set and looking good and strong.
The Davies and Cox forward team arrived in the queue at 11:15. Our hearts sank, we were too far back, we had to scheme and be on the ball for this one. The only thing for it was to drop the legs of the caravan so the toilet could be used, and to start on the gin. The queue started to roll, the plan was in place, don’t look at the taken space, just focus on the one job. As I got to the entrance I started. Stupid useless questions to the entrance guy, he loved me. The gin glass in Tracey’s hand was replaced by binoculars and eagle-eyed Tracey was at work. She dropped the glasses and said go. I floored it, the van flew, the caravan bounced, Tracey screaming directions. We got it, pitchside, 100 mtrs to the finish and surrounded by a growing contingent of others.
Quickly we staked out, then breathed, another gin and set up at a more sedate pace. It was great that the organisers came down to take photos of all the regular clubs that support them. Reposting on their socials, Northbrook are one of their most supporting and appreciated. Now we felt at home. As the gin was disappearing we decided to go see the event village and the beer bus, bumping into other local clubs Centurion and Aldridge. Old familiar faces and a sense of ease made the first round quite expensive. We retired back to our camp and lit the BBQ. Then the "brookers" started to arrive, 2 by 2. Not an arc this time but the Northbrook cheerstation they came to.
The Beer Mile
First up was the beer mile at 9pm. Headtorches and as we had made a name for ourselves we went one better this year. An inflatable sumo, an inflatable 8ft purple T-Rex suit and an 8ft inflatable unicorn. We rocked the pre-show, the crowds falling over to get photos taken with us. We got onto the start line, and some of the more athletic contestants must have wondered what carnival we came from and gave us a wide berth. 3-2-1 and we were off, the sumo flooring it, dino, trying to drink holding the cup in his mouth got soaked inside. The unicorn, deciding her beer had ran out, headed the wrong way down the finish line back to her tent for more gin. The sumo was clear, the dino realising for the 2nd year in a row that a headtorch inside the inflatable would just hinder struggled. Kelly Parker (dressed as a Tigger) appeared in front then ran straight off course looking for a Tigger short cut. Dino, totally confused, picked the wrong line out and nearly crashed through someone’s tent. Then Caroline appeared with a guiding light. Dino’s plan now was to follow the lights as they pass. Unicorn, now seeing the leaders pass our cheer zone, reappeared gin in hand and sprinting for the line. Just as dino hit our cheerzone, the headtorch now facing his own eyes was blinding him while the visor was suffocating him and he had to slow and breathe. A roar came from the crowd, a dino sprint and the inflatables were home with the sumo claiming a creditable 4th place. As we all tried to breathe, the crowds mobbed us again for photos. Time to retire.
The rest of the night got louder and more social. As we all started to flake out renditions of Country Road and Sweet Caroline at 2am attracted unwelcome attention from our neighbours (who now may have regretted us being so close to them) and we retired to run and socialise another day.
In the morning the sore heads started to rise and by 11am it was hot just in time for the kids’ race. Future Northbrookers Holly, Heath, Brook and Jenson showed us oldies how to do it. They kept the Northbrook name in the arena. Well done kids.
The Daytime 10K
A last-minute decision by Tracey meant she stepped on to the grid at the back just in time. Hindered by the walkers in front she had an interrupted start to her 10k. By the time she found a bit of space at 2 miles she was happier, being greeted by a roaming Northbrook cheer squad seemed to help. At 5 miles as a leg 2 Brooker passed her she was beaming, Tracey earning the first of the medals for the weekend. Stories of what awaited us all on “NOT THAT HILL” and “THAT HILL” invigorated us all. Well done Tracey.
The Nightime 10K
Again, Tracey secured a last minute 10k night place and joined Kelly on the start line with not a Camelback of red wine in sight. Were they taking this seriously? A mass start while the main event was proceeding led to a crowded lap. But stories of a singing pair of Brookers accompanying the twinkling stream of lights did make us question the fluids they had with them. As they returned they bought the devestating news of an injured Brooker heading back, Jamie doing star jumps going down the road had pulled a calf. But the girls did it, Tracey securing the most medals for the weekend, and Kelly securing her first. Well done Tracey and Kelly.
The Main event
This is a 24-hr relay event, and we were in teams of 5, each complete rotation of the team a cycle, starting at midday and finishing at midday. The atmosphere was alive, the costumes out in full effect, although Jamie in his sumo outfit may have regretted it under the baking sun. They set off, Jamie, accompanying Mickey who was very nervous being a virgin in these events, while experienced and practised Caroline joined the grid. The roving support team at 2 miles was giving them only the type of support a Brooker responds to, to drive them on. The first cycle was going well. Pete’s team was beginning to fly, Jill’s team was not far behind and Tim’s team was slowly climbing the rankings. Into the 2nd cycle and the teams were doing even better. Northbrook was now being chanted at everyone. As Lisa left ill’s team to become a 4 we knew our plan. Only 80% effort from now on and we could see this through. Jamie started, and as the girls came back from their night 10K their news hit me like a brick, I was more deflated than the dino costume. We needed a plan but at 10pm in the dark what sort of a plan can a 3 come up with. A limping Jamie appeared dragging a leg behind him having made a mammoth ffort to finish his lap for the team, but, I knew he was finished.
The first 2.5 miles I flew as I planned in my head, then concentration on running and scheming took its toll and I had to have a small walk on “NOT THAT HILL”. Head back in it, get to the halfway water station, take fluids on and carry on. As I passed the water station (head still scheming) I passed Chris. At this point Jamie’s injury news had hit both Mark and Craig like the brick that had hit me. We were in a lofty 4th place category position but we knew the writing was on the wall now. Walking up “THAT HILL” I realised I needed to pee, turning all the lights off I watered the nearby woods before rejoining the course. Headlight on I passed Chris again. Chris became confused and distraught but we carried on, it was downhill from here so I knew I could fly. But with 4 possible plans in my head I could not run and keep sane. I stopped and walked to let a really confused Chris catch me up. I needed to blurt and sanity check my plans outloud. Chris (my sounding board) was as much use as he could be, but, I think he wished he could run away from me. I dragged him to his quickest km of the weekend. As I passed the cheerzone, seeing Craig meant I knew I had to stop and see what his thoughts were. Craig was rocked as well. Neither of us having a sound plan, I got up the finish, handed on to Mark and we both knew we had to walk and talk out a plan. Mark was deflated, our best options were a 5hr break, or 2 hr laps. Nothing was appealing. I left Mark to his lap as I went back to let Craig make the choice. The 5 hr break seemed our only sane option. I watched Mark come by but he was now down spirited. Both of us retired early, hardly able to speak. Craig finished his lap in the same manner.
Overnight the 2 teams kept cycling in the humid pitch black, each one looking drenched in sweat and dripping as tiredness showed after their runs. But times were not dipping. The 2 teams were firing on all cyclinders with Pete’s team holding 2nd place and Tim’s team constantly climbing. Jill’s team was dropping like a stone.
I rose at 6 to see Craig appear half an hour later. He was going out to do a double header before we would cycle around again. Craig appeared again but it was not good news. His head was still not right and I had to replace him after 1 lap not 2, but I was not ready, only wearing under shorts. I grabbed the last fancy dress costume that was not drenched in sweat. Tracey’s idea of Rocky from the Rocky Horror Show might have sounded good, but tight-fitting gold foil is not the best thing to run in. As I left the cheer zone the shout went out “PARKER, RAISE THE DEAD WE ARE CYCLING”. Craig waiting for me to take over from him was both horrified and relieved as a gold clad Spencer bore down on him, taking the baton like it was a 400 mtr race and starting the lap, the wolf whistles buoying me. With the support from every other runner (thanks Grant and David who seemed very enamoured by me), the cat calls, the wolf whistles and the name calling I flew. There was nothing else in my head apart from getting the baton round as quickly as I could. As I came past the cheer-zone it was like the sun rising. Mark was waiting, horrified to see me but he took the baton and charged off.
Pete’s team was now holding 2nd, and with Tim’s team still climbing we were back in the game. Cycle complete and were going to get 1 last cycle in. I knew I needed a time to get Mark out before the cut off. We knew the 3rd place team were ready to chase Pete’s team down. We may not be competitive, but we can push and shove our fellow team to chase or be chased by us. Gold clad again, but this time in pouring rain meant no-one could tell how much sweat was coming out of me. I summited “THAT HILL” and ensured the guy who did not want to follow me never stood a chance. I was taking them all, as if Gold was what I was going for. Just 20 mins to spare and Mark was released. 3rd placed team was only within a minute of Pete’s team now. Tom was pacing and waiting for an energised Pete to arrive. He knew Mark was his target to get him around. Tom was off, and Caroline released before the cut off. Now could 3rd place appear before the cut off? It passed, the wet weather having thrown their 58 min lapper off by 2 mins. Pete’s team was guaranteed 2nd and we could all drop to the wet floor in exhaustion.
Now we only had to wait for the run in. Mark appeared first, Tom hunting him down, 25 mtrs in it. The teams slowing them both down for a concerted run in. 2 Northbrook flags and 9 of us hobbling/running down the finish straight, Northbrook strength out in force. Caroline appeared 5 mins later ensuring no Brooker was left on course had the run in with her team to themselves.
Northbrook conquered, we are well known. And now they fear us. Reduced numbers on one team might have rocked us, but in the end we found a way to use that strength. We will be back, in stable teams that will be fighting each other for position and for the podiums – Spencer
Great Bristol 10k – 19 September 10K
|246||Peter Kirkhope||0:45:29||3rd in age group|
Warwickshire Bear Ultra – 19 September OTH
The route from Rugby to Leamington Spa and back is approx 40 miles, not too hilly and on good paths/tracks/roads all the way. It’s a nice route and a fun event; if you want to do an ultra, this is a good one to pick – Matthew
My longest race to date and first Big Bear event – can’t give enough credit to the event organisation and support on the day. Another race I’ll be entering again in 2022 – Cliff
Regency 10k – 19 September 10K
Enigma Retro TV Cars Trail Marathon, Milton Keynes – 17 September M
Was nice to have a catch up with everyone there. Slow and steady with Charlie.
Saving myself ready for day 4 of CiRF tomorrow.
Brighton Marathon – 12 September M
A month or so before the Brighton Marathon Mark Baker put an email out stating that there were some spare places going. Now, having never run a marathon or trained for one I’m not really sure what was going through my head when I responded in the positive.
I think my rationale at this point was that I’d already been doing some pretty hefty training anyway, and had built a base level of fitness. There was the Thunderrun 24hr relay in July, a self inflicted "run every day on holiday" in hilly Dorset, encouraged by Stephen Simpson, at the beginning of August. Then there were the smatterings of evening training sessions with the lovely trainers Rob and Jill, and the start of the summer Handicap races. I added to this a ramp up of distance on my regular weekend "Long Runs". On 15th August, I went a bit further than normal and completed 15 miles. The following weekend I ramped it up to 18 miles, finally getting a 20 miler in at the end of August. At this point, with only 12 days to go, I would have said ok, let’s rest those legs and just do a few small jogs and dog walks until the event.
Spencer however, had other plans for me and I signed up for the club’s own 12 Shades weekend which was 1 week before the marathon. During 12 Shades, I covered about 27 miles, (24 miles of which were completed before midnight on the Saturday.). Now can I rest? No, I decided to attend Jill’s Monday evening mixed level training. It turned out to be a gruelling 45 minute hill reps session. Once that was out of the way, I gave my legs some well deserved rest for the remainder of the week and drove down to Brighton with a boot full of camping gear (my late entry left me with no option of a hotel room), clothes, food and drink.
I arrived at the Brighton front on Saturday afternoon, just 2pm to allow myself enough time to park up and collect my race pack (race bib and pack to fill and leave for collection after the race on the beach, near Madeira Drive). Parking was an absolute nightmare and took around 1.5 hrs, finally using the multi-storey at the Churchill Square Shopping Centre car park (around a 15-minute walk to where I wanted to be). Once I’d collected my race number and T-shirt and filled the supplied plastic bag with clothes and recovery food/drink and dropped it at the finish, I was able to soak up some of the atmosphere. I even bought myself a running hat and a beer. Treating myself to a large tray of fish, chips and mushy peas, I made my way back to the car park and paid the damage.
Now I had to get to my campsite at Waren Valley Farm (£26 per night) before 7pm. Easy to find, up in the hills which I recommend based on the quietness and close proximity to the park and ride that I had booked myself into for the Sunday morning (Brighton Racecourse).
Sunday morning went to plan (to start with). I put Brighton Racecourse into my SatNav and set off. It took me into Brighton along the A270. This was a big mistake and I was met with road closures due to the very event I was trying to attend. In hindsight, it is important to take the route that bypasses Brighton along the A27! I eventually parked up, displayed my P&R ticket in my windscreen and boarded the bus with gels, drinks and energy bars with an unflustered 1 hr before the suggested arrival time for my particular "wave" (4:00-4:30 estimated time).
The race started at Preston Park. It was unhurried, casual "yellow wave runners, please make your way to the start, take your time, pop to the loo if you need to", etc.). Once I set off, armed with 5 gels in the nice gel belt that Robin Aston gave me on the Friday morning, I was in the zone. Clocking an 8:49 first mile, and feeling pain-free, well rested, and confident. However, after several sub-9 min miles, and approaching the half way mark, I was starting to feel it. I’d already had 3 gels by 13 miles and decided to have another as I passed through. My watch was no longer tracking the miles accurately either, since about mile 10. That put me off slightly because my watch buzzed, then a few minutes later I’d pass the next mile marker. Once I got to mile 14 or so, I had a short walk to shake of some of the fatigue I was starting to feel. I got going again pretty quickly but these walk breaks became more frequent, the longest one being at around mile 20 where I probably walked almost a full mile. I loaded myself with another gel and two cups of water from a station and got going again. Mile 21, running into an industrial estate, always slightly uphill. I started to see the occasional runner collapsed at the road side, surrounded by the amazing St. Johns Ambulance crews, and having to step onto the pavements every few minutes to allow yet another ambulance through. Once through the wood yard and then coming back down the same narrow road, at mile 22, facing those who were still at mile 20 I was feeling their pain. I decided to run with strictly no walking for the last 4 miles. I think I managed it. The last mile was along the promenade, with members of the public licking icecreams and shouting their encouragement. My watch buzzed, congratulating me on my first marathon and longest run ever recorded on the app. However, I was still some way off the actual finish line!
Crazy, but I carried on. Around 4 minutes later I was passing through the finish. Legs completely dead, woozy in the head. I collected my bling, banana and fake beer and collapsed onto the pebble beach for an hour of uninterrupted snoozing, eating and drinking. Once I’d got some strength back I was able to reflect on my achievement. The park and ride stop was a good mile away from the finish line, but I saw this as a recovery advantage, getting my legs going and reducing the stiffness the next day. I got back into my car, with fresh clothes on (shower planned for when I got home), only stopping for half an hour at one of the large services on the M25 for a KFC bucket of chicken and a large Costa coffee. What an experience. I do recommend the Brighton Marathon. I will be wiser in my pacing next year when, yes, I will be doing it again!
(They only went and measured the course 568m too long, so my watch wasn’t faulty).
Kenilworth Half-Marathon – 12 September HM
20 Northbrookers ran the return of Kenilworth’s much loved Half-Marathon. A slightly amended route again after 2018’s town centre start and finish was introduced – this time there was a small loop down a side road on the return stretch from Beausale. This allowed a straight run to the finish line at the top of the High Street, instead of running up and round the roundabout back to the middle of the High Street.
In a mix of sunshine and cloud some enjoyed the race while others were getting back into race fitness mode feeling every hill of this undulating course presents. Tommy was first Northbrooker in 1:34:15 much to his delight while Debbie Campbell clocked a PB in 1:53:35. For me it was just great to be out again with the running community of Coventry and Warwickshire and not worry about finishing times – overall a good morning’s running was had by all – Kevin
Great North Run – 12 September HM
This was my annual pilgrimage back to the North East to do the Great North Run. I think it was my 30th GNR, but equally could have been my 33rd (I’ve only missed a handful since my 1st in 1985), but it was my 1st in Northbrook colours.
Due to Covid, it was very different compared to previous years, with wave starts and an out and back route. The atmosphere at the start was nowhere near as good as it normally is. Standing with 60,000 people in their pens, following the warm up routines on the big screens still makes the hairs on my neck stand up, but it wasn’t like that yesterday. But better this way than no run at all.
I actually enjoyed the out and back route, as it gave me a chance to see the elites when they passed on the opposite carriageway. I found trying to see if I could spot anyone I know, took my mind off the run, and the half-way mark came up unexpectedly. Much to my amazement I did the 1st 10 miles in 1h27m leaving me thinking 33m to do the last 3 miles – easy.
But then the wheels fell off.
When we got back to the start of the road which leads to the Tyne Bridge, I was expecting to turn right to cross the bridge, but the route went left for a few hundred yards and then we had to climb a steep ramp to get onto the flyover. This completely threw me, and from that point onwards my legs felt very tired. The last 2 miles of the route were generally uphill rather than the nice flat 1 mile along the seafront I’m used to, and the last half mile straight to the finish line seemed to last forever.
But I held on, and managed to knock 15 seconds off my previous GNR PB – Alan
Torbay 10k – 12 September 10K
Over a minute PB achieved at the Torbay 10k this morning. Mainly flat apart from two biggish inclines. Happy with the pace though.
Nuneaton 10k – 12 September 10K
Richmond Runfest Half-Marathon, Kew Gardens – 12 SeptemberHM
I was back at Kew Gardens for part 2, the start of the Half-Marathon. It was a bit cooler today, and I hoped my legs would not be too exhausted. Once again, I was proudly wearing the Welsh colours, but I was still surrounded by England vests at the start. However, it was a new set of runners. Not many people were running both races.
The first few miles of the race were the same as the 10km. Then we headed out on to the Thames towpath. It was flat, but a bit multi-terrain and uneven in places. I was trying to stay under 7.30-minute mile pace and ran fairly evenly.
The finish was at a different venue in Old Deer Park near Richmond. My final pace was 7.27. Not too bad after a tough weekend of racing.
It’s always an honour to run in the red vest, and it was a memorable weekend.
Richmond Runfest 10k, Kew Gardens – 11 September 10K
This was my first chance in two years to wear the Welsh Masters vest in competition and it was my first time for Wales in the M55 age category. Due to last minute changes due to Covid, the 10km and Half-Marathon were taking place on the same weekend, so pace strategy was important.
I was in the minority at the start line. There were lots of white England vests around me, but not much else. It’s an honour to wear the red of Wales and I was determined to be seen, and race well. Kew Gardens was surprisingly humid, and the course was very twisty with lots of sharp corners. It was hard to judge the pace for the 10km. I needed to be competitive but not to go flat out before the next race. I wanted to be around 7-minute mile pace, but settled for 7.10 pace in the end, as it was hard to settle into a rhythm on the sharp bends. The finish was back where we started and part 1 was done.
Time to take it easy, then come back tomorrow for the Half-Marathon.
Milton Keynes 20 Mile – 5 September 20M
This was the second time I had run the Milton Keynes 20 mile race. It was very warm, but I managed a PB of almost 17 minutes.
Milton Keynes Half-Marathon – 5 September HM
Bedworth Park 5k – 5 September 5K
Stratford Big 10k – 5 September 10K
Great weather and a great course, well organised event with good support along route. 820 runners on the day – Tim