More international success

A dIsconsolate looking Phil Brennan at the end of his 1500m race at the World Masters Indoor Athletic Championships in Poland. I mean, you can understand his dejection, in his 5 races, in 7 days, he only got a 4th, 5th and 6th place finish, as well as a bronze and gold medal !!

This week we have Phil Brennan and Paul Hawkins’ adventures in Poland, competing for Team GB.

There’s a smashing report from Becks Pridham on the inaugural Tempo Spring Duathlon.

There is also information on club member Matt Sims as he prepares for the forthcoming Marathon des Sables.

Also, just to remind you, our latest Couch to 5k group will be graduating this Saturday by running in our local parkrun, after their arduous 9 week training programme.

I wish them all the very best of luck. Not that they’ll need any luck, they’re as committed a group of runners that you’re ever likely to meet.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

Above : Paul Hawkins competing in the 10000m racewalk final.
Below : Phil Brennan on his way to an individual bronze in the 800m final. Watch the last lap on

World Masters Indoors Athletic Championships.

Report – David Jones.

The club had two International Masters Athletes representing Great Britain at the prestigious World Masters Indoors Athletic Championships, held in the Polish city of Toruń.

As reported last week, Phil Bennan had started the championships in superlative style by claiming 6th place in the 3000m before going on to lead Great Britain home to a magnificent team gold in the cross country.

Just a couple of days after that gold medal performance he was in action again in the 800m final, winning the bronze medal to add to his earlier gold. His time of 3.05.78 was almost 20 seconds quicker than the 4th placed runner. In 2nd place was Phil’s GB team mate Victor Shirley, who just lost out to Albert Walter of Germany in the race for gold.

Then it was the 1500m final for the ever active Phil. He started steadily in this his 4th race in just 6 days, before deciding to throw caution to the wind, finally finishing in 5th place with a time of 6.18.75, just 8 seconds off the bronze medal position. The race was won by Team GB athlete Victor Shirley in 6:08.

Finally, the selectors asked him to drop down an age group for the 4 x 200m relay. Running the 3rd leg, he helped the team finish in 2nd place in the heats with a time of 2.07.11. Unfortunately the team finished just outside the medals though, in 4th place, missing out on the bronze medal by 2.15 seconds.

So all in all, Phil enjoyed a superbly successful championship, with 7th, 5th and 4th place finishes as well as bronze and gold medals.

He has the initials PB for a reason.

In so doing, he helped Team GB finish in 4th place in the overall medal table, behind Germany, USA and the host country Poland, with just 2 golds fewer than 2nd placed USA.

For Paul Hawkins, the other club member representing Great Britain, there was a less happy outcome. Competing in the 10k racewalk, he completed the race in what he considered to be a satisfactory time of 62.50.

This performance had helped team GB into the silver medal position.

However he was to find out a couple of hours after the race had finished, that he had bee disqualified. This belated ruling denying GB the silver medal.

Such is the technical nature of this event that only Poland and Latvia, in 1st and 2nd place respectively, qualified for medals, with all of the other teams being disqulified.

Becks Pridham en route to the cakes stall.

Tempo Events Spring Duathlon.

Moreton Morrell – Saturday 30 March.

Report – Rebecca Pridham.

The weather was clearly smiling on the athletes lining up for the Tempo Events Spring Duathlon on Saturday, with beautiful blue skies and sunshine breaking through after the initial early morning mist.

This was the first time that the event had been run by the team at Tempo but those familiar with their events will know that these are friendly and welcoming events for experts and novices alike.

After dodging the usual fluff of Tempo’s golden retrievers (I think a suitable collective noun for these dogs!) and eyeing up the delicious (and free!) post-race cakes, it was off to the start for the inaugural Spring Duathlon.

This race is made up of a 6 mile run, a dash to collect your bike for a 20 mile cycle around the Warwickshire countryside, followed by another 4 mile run (just to ensure you are really earning that cake!).

The club boasted 5 athletes on the day, encompassing a wide range of ages, abilities and experience.

First home for the club was Ben Phyall, fresh off the back of his Coventry Half Marathon the previous weekend. He flew home to come 5th male in 2:14.17 and first in the MV40 age category.

Ben has competed at longer distance triathlons previously, including Ironman 70.3, but he is clearly no slouch on the shorter distance duathlons too!

Matt Lyness was next to finish for Stratford (14th male), coming home in 2:28.17.

Matt wasn’t hugely confident prior to the race, as he is coming back to the sport but his legs held up well and he ran strongly in both runs and completed the bike in 1:03.25 with a competitive final run in 33.31.

Sam Wignell finished in 2:40.55, finishing 2nd in his MV40 age category and 16th male.

Sam’s running was strong, finishing his first 6 miles in 47.39, dropping back a bit on the bike leg (1:15.19) and finding legs more tired for the second run off the bike, which he completed in 35.06.

Becks Pridham has been injured for six weeks and was tentative about the race. She was ‘aiming for completion rather than speed today’. Becks was 5th woman home in 3:02.26 (1st in age category) after taking it steady on the first 6 miles (54.05. “Happy with that”) and enjoying the undulating bike segment (1:24.11), following up with a tough final run which found her yelling ‘cake! Save me cake!’ on the final lap.

The club’s final competitor home was Richard Eden (surely Stratford Tri’s Godfather of Tri?), coming home 1st in his age category to complete the race in 3:38.46.

His fiancee, Cherry, was seen running with him on his final run, ordering him ‘don’t walk, keep running!’ with Richard still maintaining his cheery smile!

He is more at home on the bike than the run and he enjoyed the country cycle, completing it in 1:29.05, with huge cheers from the marshals and the fellow competitors as he came in to claim his finisher’s cup of tea, slice of well-earned cake and a quality buff.

A superb first spring duathlon from Tempo, with a spectator friendly run, an undulating bike in the countryside and a lovely friendly atmosphere. If they can just flatten out that hill on the run prior to the finish, it would be perfect!

The overall first male home was Iain McLoughlin in 1:59.38, and first female was Jemima Cooper in 2:11.20.

Did I mention the cake?

Packed and ready to go. Matt’s pack for the Marathon des Sables.

The Marathon des Sables.

For those of you that don’t know, The Marathon des Sables is a six-day, 251 km -156 mile ultramarathon. This is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. The longest single stage is 91 km -57 miles long.

This multi-day race is held every year in Southern Morocco in the Sahara Desert.

It has been called the toughest foot race on Earth. The first event took place in 1986.

Club member Matt Sims will be competing in this year’s event which starts on Sunday 7th April.

I’m sure you will join me in wishing Matt all the very best in this crazy event.

A message from Matt :

Below are details on how you can track me using my race number (575)….you can also use the official website to send emails to me…

I can only send messages to one address, so this will be Jackie and I will ask her to forward any messages to you all.

I have to queue each day with 1000 other people to send an email so it’s unlikely that I will send one every day but I think any messages you send will be given to me each day.

I am running for a charity and if anyone wants the link to the host page let me know and I will send on separately to individuals.

A message from the organisers explain how you can contact Matt.

Please forward this email to all your friends and family.

Your running number is 575

If you want to send supporting emails and track my progress during the race, you can do both of these via the organisers’ website. HOWEVER, none of the facilities will go live until Saturday 6 April, so if you click on it now, you won’t find anything!

Once they are live, the instructions are easy to follow. You will need my running number for the email – it’s at the top of this email.

If you have any problems using the site, please call 08444 874064 and speak to Sarah in office hours.

All competitors are issued with a GPS tracker that will allow the staff on the course to track their position, to monitor if they are off course and it also has an SOS facility in the event of emergency.

The GPS tracker also allows friends/family to track competitors progress in real-time. You should be aware, however, that on rare occasions the tracker may lose signal or have battery power issues. This is usually a short term issue and should not be a concern for anyone following the race.

Runner’s positions are updated approximately every 10 minutes and it is not unusual for a competitors position to remain static for a while.

Once we are out in the desert, direct communications will be limited – mobile phone signal is patchy and competitors are required to leave the bivouac to use their phones. You should expect competitors to be completely out of contact for two or three days.

Should you need to contact me in the event of an emergency, you can call Sarah on 07759 687103, however, it can still take several hours to get a message through.

Phil Brennan – Ready for the off.

More Phil!

The trials and tribulations of an International athlete.

Report – Phil Brennan.

Be Prepared.

As a natural worrier, one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in competitions is to be physically and mentally relaxed at the start.

I think I recall Andy Pozzi, our Olympian, saying that the winners tended to be the most relaxed in the call room.

One of the secrets is meticulous planning – kit, timing etc.

For instance, a last minute event that can cause problems is the allocation of lane numbers, bits of sticky-backed paper which must be visible on one’s right hip, stuck to bare flesh or Lycra if you are that sort of person, or slightly baggy GB shorts in my case.

As Masters’s glue tends to be a bit cheap, people are forever smoothing the corners down or re-sticking them. I solve the problem by bringing my own extra pins to secure them.

Just before the start of the 1500m, we are lined up and marched out into a holding area between the bottom of the stand and the track barrier and sat on benches.

As the previous race draws to a close, at 90 seconds and counting, I look down to check my number and realise something is wrong. An absence of Union Jack on the front of my shorts can only mean one thing: my shorts are on back to front !!

As this was something I had not actually practised, I assess the options:

Do Nothing won’t work. I was already clearly disgracing the flag, my movement might be restricted and running round in front of the all-seeing TV cameras I might look obscene, or worse , appear to be a complete plonker.

70 seconds left. I need a plan.

Run away, hide and never come back. Sounds good.

Try and call some sort of medical emergency to buy a private minute. Not likely.

Then, as if by magic, the problem is solved. The other competitors are standing around me at the barrier watching the race, leaving me unnoticed in a sort of cave. Shorts off, back on, number swapped – good job about the spare pins and ……..relax.

Eat your heart out Clark Kent and I had a halfway decent race.

My wife sometimes says that for a man of my intelligence, I sometimes need a diagram to put my trousers on. She has been proved right, yet again.