Hangover 5 Revisited (1.1.18) – Race Report by Peter Hedgethorne
It has been a long suspenseful wait for the final race of the 2017 season, which now extends into the New Year (but probably not far enough to call it the 2017/18 season), but the dust has now settled on the Hangover 5, or at least the mud spray has dried out. Congratulations to all those hardy hoppers who braved thick heads and even thicker ground conditions to conquer the heights of Cissbury – unfortunately I cannot bring you a report of the race as I was not one of the hardy ones but was preparing for an early afternoon of mental torment in a dissimilar Downland setting a few miles East at the Amex – however I have reviewed Mr Hannant’s excellent photographic evidence and some of the contestants appeared to be enjoying themselves (not the idea surely?).
I understand that the local ne’er-do-wells had recently attempted to demolish the usual HQ for the race at the top of the rec, rendering it unusable by H5 contestants, and depriving the ladies of their usual 20 minute wait in the rain for the limited female toilet facilities – although for all I know they may have had a similar experience at the bottom end, if you will pardon the expression.
Anyway, despite my absence from the mudfest, it remains my duty to record the results of the finishers on the WWUL grid, thus putting the last pieces into the annual puzzle and establishing the official positions of all those who have stretched their legs, strained their sinews, burst their lungs, pumped their arms, landed their feet, soaked their trainers, sweated their stripy shirts (ok, I get the picture – Ed) in the Hopper cause all over West Sussex (plus Hove and Lewes).
A link to the grid is therefore inbedded for you all below to check on your final position, both for all races and for the “best of 12”. Any queries and complaints will be subject to detailed and thorough investigation when I get round to it, and in the meantime formal congratulations and (rumour has it) awards for those towards the top of the grid will be handed out at the “Big Night Out” at Toscas on 26th January, if I can make my voice heard over the cacophony of pizza/pasta’d up Hoppers (with apologies to the Department for the Prevention of Apostrophe Abuse). Hopefully see you there!
Gunpowder Trot (5.11.17) – Race Report by James Millen
Last year, to my embarrassment, I never made it to the inaugural Gunpowder Trot due to a mix up over the start time. Oh alright! It was me not checking the start time properly beforehand. Anyway, by the time I had discovered the correct time I was never in a month of Sunday’s going to make it from Worthing to Horsham. Well not in my little Fiesta anyway! This year, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.
Having arrived at the car park in Horsham, via a little detour of old Horsham. Gill can testify to my reversing skills when we found that we were following traffic not to the car park but to a religion other than running – church and ended up at a dead end.
I have to say it’s my first experience of parking in a multi-storey car park for a fun run. At least there weren’t any concerns of getting stuck in a muddy field. I’m glad the organisers warned us about the walk to the Race HQ and then from there to the start line. Is this also the only race where you cross over a railway line to reach the start line?
Anyway, I’ll get my excuses in early on this one. I’d discovered that the Beachy Head marathon had taken its toll on my leg calf muscle. Apologies to all those who had to put up with my whinging about this for seemingly weeks on end. It is better now for anyone who is in the least bit interested.
Anyway (sorry started two paragraphs with anyway, my boss would not approve!), I was here to ensure we had an extra number in the ranks.
After an early short battle with Griz, one of my laces came undone (this has the feel of an excuse from Mr Rawlinson Snr about it). By the time I had righted the issue, Griz was long gone and for once she had this tussle between us one in the bag.
Anyway, I picked myself up and dusted myself down and started again picking off a few runners here and there. Having a brief chat with Dave Jones, formally of this parish of Hopperdom. Late on I caught up with Jill Renson from Chichester Runners and after a brief running chat about WSFRL matters we ran/hobbled our way to the finish line. Jill too was struggling with an injury but still managed a late spurt to beat me to the line.
Another good haul of 98 points, with 10’s from Alex, Geraldine and Judith and a 9 from Jenny Hughes. This means we go into the last race with still an outside chance of moving above Arunners in the league.
Steepdown Challenge (29.10.17) – Race Report by James Millen
Sunday morning, like many others reading this, is normally a time for running for me. However, the advent of Brighton & Hove Albion’s arrival in the big time has meant that our matches now seem more than ever to be played at any time on any given day to suit to the television audiences. Today, was a good case in point. We were playing South Coast rivals Southampton and the kick-off was at lunchtime.
Now I’d I have loved to have been running up Steepdown – taking it gently! A nice little recovery run the day after Beachy Head. I can think of nothing better the day after battling endless hills and at one point endless steps, of then putting myself through more hills. If fact, last year, this is exactly what Neal, Pete and I did. Ran Beachy Head and then rocked up at Steepdown the following day. Mad or what!?
I love and hate this race almost in equal measure. I hate it when it’s wet and slippery coming back down the hill on the flint path. I always fear that I’m going to come a cropper. I love the challenge of catching people as you come back into Leisure Centre’s grounds. My most memorable moment a few years back was almost on the finish line itself, when one of my fellow club members tried to foil me overtaking them by giving me a shoulder barge. I was obviously so determined, I gave them one back and sailed past. Anyway, Tim I won’t give your name away! Opps!
Anyway, as I the coach I travel on from Worthing to the AMEX rolled over (Ed – not literally I hope!?) the Lancing Manor roundabout, our fantastic band of Hoppers were preparing to head up Steepdown.
22 Hoppers completed the race with three; Stewart, Alex and Geraldine managed 10 points a piece and a 9 from John. The Mighty Stratton completed our field. We managed a decent haul of 102 points. This race will be best remembered for the wonder of many Wonder Women marshals.
Hickstead Gallop (8.10.17) – Race Report by Paul Rawlinson
Race Review of the 11 o’clock at Hickstead on Sunday 8th October
The going was Soft and 291 ran. Non-runners included the French Grey “Madame Marylin”
The bell in the yard rang out at 7.30 as it does every day when we are carted off to the gallops. Oh no, not another race day! Why can’t we just go up on the downs for our usual work out? Well, at least we get a good breakfast today, oats, soy oil and sugar beet pulp, all served up in our own nose bags. No time to lose because we will soon be loaded into the transport and off to the Hickstead Gallop. Nag next door said it was an eight-furlong race across some pretty flat country, so should all be over pretty quickly.
Four of us racing from this stable today, Princess Charlotte, Lewis le beard, Smoothface Alex and their Sire – Yours Truly.
The journey up was pretty eventless and we arrive half an hour before the main race. Looks like there has already been some races for the smaller ones, probably a pony race or something. Anyway, we’re led over to the Peter Hedgethorne Horse enclosure where the rest of the trainer’s charges are being prepared. Sally Washingup handing out the saddle cloths with our numbers on (a fine silver tail has that young mare), Adrian still with his horse blanket on trying to get warm and Colin having his tongue strap fitted (not that it will do any good!) Ah and there’s the old boy Hairy Mick – always first out of the stalls, but loses his action after about 100 yards and then just follows the young maidens round whilst breathing heavily. He’ll soon be put out to grass or maybe even the knackers yard.
Well it’s nearly Post Time and we’re are all led into the starting shoot. No stalls today I notice, strange that, because a mass start only usually takes place on longer races. And then we’re off.
Oaty Val sprints away from the start like it’s only five furlongs with Princess Charlotte following close behind. Jimmy Millen and Justin Cass are just behind with Yours Truly apparently bringing up the rear. As the field spreads out down the back straight I see a certain Stewpot Gregory up front – he’s been out for a while – something to do with his right front fetlock I believe, oh and there’s Smoothface Alex not far behind and just a little further back is Little Miss Moffet.
Not many behind me on the first circuit as we come around to face the judge, but a quick look round and I see old Tiny Tim trotting along some way down the field, looks like he might have spread a plate or even gone lame.
Out onto the next circuit and the crowds cheer as we go past the stands for the first time. Slowly making ground on Jimmy Millen and Justin Cass and then I swoop past them with ease! Seems to be a different course than the last time we raced her, a few more hills perhaps. Coming around at the end of the lap and I see Stewpot and Smoothface near the head of affairs, leaving the big field just as I enter it.
We pass the enclosures again and out into the country on the final circuit. These furlongs seem longer than usual today!
Hardings Fancy is struggling to keep up with the leaders, but there’s good news with the three fillies Moffet, Carder and Hughes all cantering along just behind. Further down the field the New Dawn and Spinning Jenny are keeping each other company while . . .
Hold on. Jimmy Millen has got some air in his lungs and has passed me, little legs going ten to the dozen. I wonder what he had his nose in this morning, not plain old hay I can tell you.
At last the Post is in sight, one last crack of the whip and we’re home, just beaten by a nag from the Hove Hornets yard.
Just time to get into the unsaddling enclosure for a well-earned rest. No doubt we will have the weigh in later, but I am told the results are in
Stewpot Gregory came home with only three in front and Smoothface Alex was a creditable sixth. Harding’s fancy was the next Colt in twenty eighth position. A fine score of 29 between them.
In the Mares and Fillies race, Little Miss Moffet was seventh, with Judith in tenth and Spinning Jenny Twelfth. A score of 29 to match the colts.
Val and Gill finished together – probably nagging all the way round, Princess Charlotte was the next PHH filly home followed by Kerry and Sally.
Well that’s another one over until the next one, which is the 11 O’clock at Lancing Downs on the 29th. The going will be Good to Soft, Soft in places and it is another eight furlongs for Stallions and Mares. Time for some more grass.
Hickstead Gallop (8.10.17) – Race Report 2 by Sally Washington
Hoppers generally aren’t champing at the bit to do the Hickstead Gallop, and I groaned when I got saddled with collecting for it, but was very pleased to rein in the 27 runners that we did get.
Climbing out of my bivouac at 5am and looking out over the misty series of fields that we were going to circumnavigate……. twice……… I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be feeling the fear of getting lost or arriving late, as being a Hopper committee member carries great responsibility.
PHH flag up first, closely followed by John from Fittleworth Flyers, I had a chair, he had a table, it was a WSFRL love in.
About to start the mane event and still awaiting the arrival of Dawn and Richard who got delayed and had to hoof it at top speed to the flag – welcome back to club life Dawn. Great to see all the Swiss Family Rawlinson out in force as well – I felt very smug at instantly being able to identify Lewis from Alex. A spur of the moment entry from Stewart and Barry replaced a few of the fallen.
All 17 clubs jockeying for position at the start, and they’re off! I can only imagine the tension between Alex and Stewart at the front, with Alex muttering under his breath “I thought that old duffer was injured”. He’s not out to pasture yet Alex! Geraldine and Judith both ten scorers as well as the previously mentioned stallions. Great to have Geraldine running for the club now, and hoping Judith not feeling as injured as she has been, as a fantastic performance from all four.
It’s not the most exciting of the fun runs, but you can get a good pace up, and for the most, run all the way. The marshals are all lovely and I think I enjoyed it the most I ever have this year. Maybe it something to do with getting in front of Mike Airey and staying there, or maybe because I was not too far behind Ms Kipling – who’s running exceedingly fast of late (couldn’t resist). I make no apologies for the pun fun!
Tilgate Forest (17.9.17) – Race Report by Peter Hedgethorne
Fittleworth Flyer 5 (3.9.17) – Race Report by Val Brockwell
Sent: 28 August 2017 16:49
Subject: RE: Hornet’s Stinger race report
LOVED your race report… but, flippin ‘eck, you’re a tough act to follow.
Yours, A Hopper
- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – — — – – – — – – – – — — – — — – – – – –
Diary, 28 Aug 2017:
To Do List
- practise creative writing skills [can Fittleworth 5 and exciting go in the same sentence?]
- broaden macho vocab, cf. Tim’s Stinger report… quote: ‘menace’, ‘tough’, ‘brute’, ‘weapons’, ‘tough’, ‘adrenaline surge’, ‘tough’, ‘battle’, ‘rut’, ‘machine-gunned from the hip’ (okay, made up the last one)
- learn to tell the oh-so-similar Rawlinson twins apart in case both are at Fittleworth.
29 Aug 2017:
Race date approaches fast.
Note to self: deploy subtle Carder-copy techniques where feasible.
Note to self: write notes to myself to remind me what to remember.
30 Aug 2017:
ENTER, stage left, Stewart, formerly “of the Knackered Knee”, latterly “of the Semi Knackered Knee”.
Stewart: I’ve done a few parkruns now so I think I can run 5 miles… Where exactly isFittleworth?
Moi: I don’t know, I think it’s north-west-ish from here… I went last year but shared a car with Marilyn and Sim and we chatted all the way and I can’t really remember where we went or how far it was. I do remember an interesting conversation about Marilyn being French but having an English name and Sim being English but having a French name…
Stewart: That is indeed very interesting. I’ll look on a map.
31 Aug 2017, before breakfast:
ENTER, stage left, Stewart, in running kit.
Stewart: I’m going to try a 3-mile run in preparation for Sunday.
EXEUNT, stage right.
[Ten minutes later]
ENTER, stage left, Stewart, with forlorn limping.
Stewart: Aargh, hurt hamstring and calf… had to walk back… think I’ll stick to cycling!!
3 Sept 2017. Somewhere in deepest West Sussex
We came, it rained, we ran, we ate cake, we went.
What more can I say…?
Well… these people told me they really enjoyed it: Kerry, Geraldine, Sim, Ann, Sally, Zoe, Nick.
These people looked like they’d really enjoyed it, but I can’t vouch for it: Paul R, Paul S, Dave, Adrian, Rob, Liz, Jas, Tony, Jan, Pete W, James. Colin – probably – who knows!?!
These people I didn’t see afterwards, so no idea really, but I bet they did: Jenny, Alex, Mike, Matt.
These people were up the i360 instead: Judith, Tim.
AWOL: John H.
As for me, I found it tough (minor macho vocab is warranted for sure), hillier than I remembered from last year, maybe I just set off too fast (one of my habitual schoolboy errors). I even walked a couple of times and got spotted doing it. Apologies to all those lovely hedgehoppers who jauntily called out “well done Val” on the out-and-back bit – I did see you and appreciate your shout-out, but couldn’t manage even a grunt in response.
Of course, in retrospect it was fun – otherwise why on earth would we do it?! A varied route, good organisation, cooling rain (!), hoppery support from Stewart, Roy and Joyce… and afterwards tea and chit-chat in the village hall, with a wonderful array of home-baked cakes to choose from.
The overall PHH showing was very good, with the men being outscored by the women in all respects this time (other than participant ratio 13:11). Well done to Liz, Geraldine, and Alex for their top 10 finishes. Our points made us equal 4th with Lewes, and there were excellent performances in the front, middle, and rear of the peloton. Go the Hoppers!
Roll on the next one – Tilgate Forest – as Griz says, one of the best fun runs of the year.
Hornet’s Stinger (20.8.17) – Race Report by Tim Carder
Ouch! The Hornet’s Stinger is, in my opinion, the toughest race in the West Sussex Fun Run League calendar. There’s the Hangover 5, the Trundle Hill Run, the Roundhill Romp and the Steep Down 5, but I would suggest that none of those have the all-round, constantly undulating nature of the Stinger. Why, even the flatter sections have rutted terrain that makes you long for the finish long before you’re anywhere near it. And, it seems, it’s always blessed – or perhaps cursed – by warm August weather.
No less an authority than Roy Taylor agreed with me. His days of running this race are now behind him, but it was great to see him looking well and cheering the runners in. What a great club man!
There were several new runners for the Hoppers this time, and I hope they weren’t put off by my warnings about this being a tough race. Equally, I didn’t want them fooled into thinking this was the “Stinger” because, like a hornet, it only had a sting in the tail. This brute carries weapons in its head, thorax and abdomen, and every part in between! And, as if to add to the sheer menace of it all, there was even a notice on the approach to Waterhall warning that we were about to enter snake country.
My wife, Judith, has such a competitive spirit that she’ll run till it hurts and then push on harder. I’ll run till it hurts and then slow down – I have anything but a masochistic streak in me. So why is it that I actually think the Stinger is the BEST race in the Fun Run League – after, of course, the Hedgehopper 5?
I suppose it’s the challenge: the prospect of getting round in one piece within, preferably, 60 minutes. It’s the great countryside and terrific views on a continually changing course. It’s the enthusiastic marshalling and the friendly hosts. It’s the easy venue and facilities, and the usually good weather.
I think other Hoppers must agree because we had 33 runners out, in stark contrast to Highdown where we managed just 18.
(Talking of Highdown, I was still basking in the glory because it was only the second race in which I have ever scored points for the club other than just by participating. I think it may have had a little to do with the weather keeping numbers down if I’m honest, but I might have done even better if I had worn shoes with even the slightest trace of tread. Note to self: always check you have running shoes with you before leaving home!)
Another reason to like the Stinger is because it’s on my doorstep, being just two-and-a-half miles from home. Thus Judith and I left at 10 am on our bikes and arrived 15 minutes later. Last year I managed to puncture on this short journey and had to push for a mile. No such frustrations this year, thank goodness.
We arrived as Colin and Denis were locking their bikes to the copious cycle stands. Guess what? Colin was bemoaning his lot as Denis had apparently led him along a rough track on a road bike. I’m sure Colin needs that adrenalin surge or whatever it is from his life of constant misfortune to perform as a runner. Keep it up Colin, I love to hear your little problems each time!
Now we found Val, who presented me with no.483 instead of what is usually a number between 1 and 10. She explained she had a new system of submitting numbers which I didn’t really follow, but whatever it was it worked because she got plenty of us there. Bravo Val!
Actually, I was rather pleased there lots of Hoppers present because it meant loyal clubwoman Judith, who has a recurring calf problem, would not have to limp around to gain a point if she succumbed to injury, like she did at Highdown (and that after giving her T-shirt to the fallen Worthing Harrier to help keep her warm).
As we Hoppers gathered around our sparkling blue, white and orange flag, I spotted Emre, our PhD student in international law from Turkey. Relatively new to running, Emre is thoroughly enjoying his time with us and in the WSFRL. Of course I gave him my dire warning – “Tough race … lots of hills … pace yourself” – but despite his excellent English I’m not sure he completely understood “pace yourself”. Well done Emre, who’s lost 15kg – well over 2 stone – since he began running and is perhaps hoping to introduce Parkrun to his homeland. I hope you succeed in that as well as in your studies.
For once, we Hedgehoppers began to line up near the new start position – which extended the distance to 10km – before most other clubs. I draw attention to this because I think we could be getting a reputation for chatting rather too much before a race and getting to the start later than is good for us. But this time there were perhaps 20 of us within 15 metres of the line.
I saw Simon in the bunch and congratulated him on winning – sorry, make that “first home” – in the Peacehaven Parkrun recently. I told him about the time I was first over the line at Hove Park – yes, it’s true. OK, so I was “lead bike”, but it was the day the course record was broken. Note to self: never start off on lead bike at just 20m because they are on you like a flash!
After a race briefing from the amazingly loud-voiced Matt Lambert, he blew the whistle and we were off, running across the playing fields of Waterhall before the Sunday footballers return. This was a new start, presumably designed to avoid the rather slow progress in the narrow lane that has been the case on previous occasions. The only slight snag was the transition from grass to road, down a short bank. If someone tripped there it might be rather hazardous, but happily everyone seemed to manage the descent.
Emre passed me in the lane. Then it was round the bend and up – yes, upwards for a full 4km at varying gradients. A left turn and you hit the first really steep track. In the past there was a bottleneck at the gate but there was no such problem this year with the race already thinned out by this point.
I passed Emre back and began to catch my wife who was rather struggling on the hill after her injury. Indeed, I got almost to within touching distance, but her bottom remained unsullied as we reached the top and she started to pull away. As usual, a loud-voiced female marshal cheered everyone on with a constant stream of “well done”, “great running”, “you’re doing brilliantly”, etc. I don’t know what it is about the Hornets, but they all seem to have tremendous voices!
Now I saw Dave ahead of me. I’d also gained on him up the steep hill, and was slowly, ever so slowly, catching him on the rough plateau track. Indeed, I got to one place behind him a couple of times, but he always had enough on the rare level sections to pull away. Note to self: return to speed sessions for some extra pace on the flat.
Finally we reached the top of the hill at the 5k marker. Halfway round and at the summit: those new to the race might think it was all downhill now. No such luck!
I felt the wind cooling me as we turned westwards and down the slope – steeply – to Saddlesombe. As an orienteer, running on difficult terrain comes naturally and I passed some very tentative competitors downhill. It was hot enough still to merit a couple of seconds’ stop for a drink of water at the bottom before the steep – that word keeps recurring – climb out of the hamlet up the South Downs Way before heading southwards.
There’s a short stretch here past massive bramble bushes which are one of Judith’s prime zones for blackberrying. I asked her afterwards if they were ripe. “No,” she replied, “not yet.” It was just as well because she has been known in the past, while orienteering, to indulge herself on nature’s autumnal bounty – she was lost at the time and perhaps it was comfort food. In a running race though, there’s rarely anything that will stop her – only the severest of injuries usually.
Up we went once more, past former Hedgehopper John Carroll, now a Hornet and marshalling but also cheering on an old team-mate as I again closed in on Dave.
Back onto the plateau track, this time heading for home. I know it was the same track because I recognised the ruts and puddles, and took the same routes to avoid them. Dave pulled well clear along the plateau and I knew my “battle” was lost.
At last we reached the turn-off, across a stile but unlike Henfield there was no hundred-person, two-minute queue. Down the hill avoiding the cow-pats, across another stile, and you think you’re almost there – except there’s a couple of sharp inclines and even a flight of steps to test your tiring legs to the limit, the sting in the tail.
Finally the end was in sight, a spectator-friendly run-in on a rare flat section that allows the sprinters to enthuse the gathering crowd of those already finished. Why, I even heard Judith breaking off from post-race conversation to cheer her husband home!
After finding some water, I went back to the finish area to cheer the remaining Hoppers in – and they were all smiling. Whether it was pure relief I’m not sure, but I like to think they also enjoyed their Sunday morning runs.
So, how did we Hedgehoppers do?
Simon ran out of his skin, finishing fifth in the men’s race – tremendous running from someone currently on peak form – but it was our women who really shone this time. Relative newcomers Elizabeth and Geraldine (fresh from a half-marathon in Ireland) were second and sixth respectively, with consistent performer Judith seventh. They all scored 10 points, and for Judith that was a major achievement considering her current injury status; she was very pleased. Now imagine adding Katie Hedgethorne and Jenny Hughes to that trio: what a women’s line-up we’d have!
Griz was our only other female scorer, regaining her form and just a couple of places ahead of Val. Zoe, Kerry, Jan, Sally, Jaz, Ann and Paula also got around OK which is very much to their credit. I had a quick word with Ann to discover that husband Steve is still afflicted by a dodgy knee brought on by cycling through Spain. Come back soon Steve, you are missed.
For the men, John bagged 9 points, while Alex (I assume this was Alex as I hadn’t heard of Lewis Rawlinson), Will, Rob and Colin all secured 8. There were some names unfamiliar to me: George, Arun, Nick – you are very welcome – and some very familiar ones. Denis and Dave finished ahead of me, but I was pleased with 56:17 and no further injury problems.
Then came James, Neal – his first race for some months – Paul and Matt. Emre came home in 67 minutes – I think he now understands “pace yourself” a bit more. Good ol’ Pete – a marvellous run on such a tough course – and Barry came in ahead of Mike, injured for some time but still on for a four-year run of 100 per cent Fun Run League participation. I hope you make it, Mike!
What a great bunch of characters we have in this club, and in the Fun Run League in general. Everyone is friendly, does the best they can, enjoys their running, and cheers each other on. This is amateur sport at its best and most inclusive!
The Hornets Stinger is a tremendous race run in stunning landscapes within our national park. It’s well organised, has enthusiastic marshals – and also features a free raffle at the end. OK, so most of the prizes are unwanted presents for the people who donate them, but it’s the principle that counts. Fittleworth for cakes, Steyning for spot-prizes –Judith’s had three there – and Waterhall for a mega-raffle! The lady announcing the numbers was another of the amazingly loud-voiced Hornets: she had to be either a town crier or an opera singer. And of course Judith won again, picking a box of hot-drink chocolate flakes that were “Best Before July 2017”.
We gazed out of the window to see the last runner come home in 1 hour 38 minutes. Well done everyone who finished. I did hear that at least a couple of competitors didn’t, having suffered mishaps on the course. I hope they are all right.
And that, friends, was the Hornets Stinger for 2017: a great race in a great series of races.
Highdown Hike (2.8.17) – Race Report by Dave Maskell
New to this running league I try to read all the emails that might have little clues on things like getting to the venue and where to park once there. Peter’s was very useful, having been to Highdown Gardens I was aware of the top car park. I was also aware of a small car park at the bottom of the hill. Tennis courts, no idea where they are so will avoid if possible plus a 15-minute walk there and back in the rain to be avoided!
Throughout the day I checked the weather. Rain how long could it last I thought, 4-5 hours surely not. But it did. I set off from home expecting heavy traffic but arrived with little trouble and the lower car park had space. I parked up just down from the lake that was forming.
A Worthing Striders flag was being put up and there were a couple of people in hi-vis bibs. A few minutes later Neal arrived. He slowly came into the car park saw the lake and started to reverse in next to me lining up perfectly. To wet to get out we sat in our cars with windows down. Peter arrived next and parked up next to Neal. James was with him so we attempted a three-car conversation.
The rain seemed to stop briefly at which point James and Peter were out, paced about 20 feet over the bank and set up the flag before quickly heading back to their car.
Being the furthest car from Peter and James I was struggling to hear and a comment seemed to be for me so got out to go over and hear. It seemed at the last run Hoppers had been discussing the Hove Hornets little car with their advertising all over it. It was suggested a Hopper car could be adapted and that I was the winner. Thanks Griz. Peter did say the club would pay but not for the car. I had visions of Hopper bunting wrapped round.
By this time a few other flags were going up and more Hoppers were arriving. The rain seemed to have stopped. We assembled around the flag and Peter gave out numbers for those without.
A warm up jog to the toilets at the top car park and we were all ready. The time ticked on and then there was an announcement the start would be delayed allowing all runners to get down from the busy toilets, also an extra lap of the field to ease the pinch point at the top and “it’s very wet and slippery so go easy.”
We assembled at the start just as another shower/downpour arrived. We were under starters orders when wait protests from the front, the start tape line had not been removed! Tape removed and we were off.
The field was not so bad and I caught Mike at the bottom. You have to start at the front when you are number one. Once out of the field the wet chalk, mud and concrete provided some challenges and that was only the hill going up. Richard shot past me going up, which I struggle with. Just past one especially tricky point someone let out a loud scream. I will make up time on the downhill I thought.
Not this time. The downhill mud, rabbit holes, badger sets and concrete was trickier than expected. I started to go down one rabbit hole, only a slight twist of the ankle, the trail shoes saved me. What a good investment even if I think I look like I am wearing two cans of Tango on my feet!
All Hoppers completed bar Nathan who stopped to help the fallen runner. Well done.
There was a short post run grouping around the flag. Where we were all happy to have completed without injuries. I was especially amazed at Tim’s run as he told me he had come out with no trail shoes and only his walking shoes so had to resort to an old pair of running shoes. Old they must be as he showed me the sole, the tread had long gone. I had a vision of his run being more like Torvill and Dean in the conditions.
John H was first Hopper in for the men followed by Richard Guest. Jenny was first lady followed by Marilyn and Zoe, with all runners scoring more than one point. Overall times may not have been great but well done to all for getting around the rain soaked course, hopefully all injury free.
Henfield Seven Stiles Race Report (30.7.17) by Sally Washington
Dedication is the name of the game when you’re a Hopper, and that dedication came into play for me at the Seven Stiles Fun Run at Henfield. Driving the 90 miles from Essex at 6.30am to ensure getting a place in the much-coveted car park at the Leisure Centre, as opposed to the 30-minute walk from Budgens through the Henfield Badlands, I had the luxury of not waiting 40 minutes to use the ladies loo too.
26 hardy Hoppers were soon assembled, not around flag (that was being repaired), but congregating around my Renault Twingo, in pride of place near the start line. The small persons 1-mile race was completed and we all took our positions in our usual pecking order. Then we were off, but soon came to a standstill as exiting the field proved more difficult than first thought. People slithering and sliding through bushes and trees in their haste to get going, finally finding their pace. Then, disaster struck, particularly for the hoipolloi bringing up the rear, in the form of 1 stile/400 runners. Ah well, it was nice to get to chat for 8 minutes to fellow runners, and enjoy the sunshine whilst waiting to get across the bloomin’ thing. It was hard to get going again after that! Back along the river we went with bemused fisherman watching us. (As a side note, Henfield Half Marathon is Sunday 13th August and only a tenner to enter.)
Three runners came in sub 30 minutes – John Harding (25.47), with a very respectable 3 minutes lead on the next Hopper in who was Dave Maskell (28.58) and Wonderwoman Judith Carder (29.17), with 10 points awarded to Judith and Jenny Hughes. I’m guessing they weren’t held up for 8 minutes at the stile? A sterling performance by the Mighty Hoppers once more.
Beach Run Race Report 1 (12.7.17) by Paul Stratton
THEE BEACH RUN or A TALE FROM THE OTHER END
I finally arrived at The Beach Run after “Trial by Traffic” and the “Littlehampton Mystery Tour”
“Trial by Traffic”, was nothing really, just the usual the usual congestion, and though, I say it myself, I’m a patient chap. But, when waiting at the Kingston Lane traffic lights, I spotted that the driver in front of me was feeding a parrot, on his shoulder. I kid you not! I got clear of him as soon as I could!
“The Littlehampton Mystery Tour”, proved to be a bit more testing. “Follow the Brown Tourist Signs to the harbour”, I thought. Big mistake! That took me in ever decreasing, one way only, circles, ending up in a car park, and the end of a cul-de-sac. However, after a few more circuits, it spat me out at the harbour, and I was okay from there. With my experience as an ex Royal Navy Navigators Yeoman, you would have thought that I would have done better, but maybe I’m better with charts than maps.
But I digress, back to the run
We all rendezvoused, as per Val’s instructions, and race numbers were issued. We then joined a general melee, as a rumour had gone around that this was the start, & the distant voice was the “Pre-Race Brief”. I could not understand a word of it but dutifully joined in the bouts of clapping. The starter sounded, & sure enough, I was not facing the right direction, (as were all those around me), & we all made a 90 degree turn to port, (that’s left to you land lubbers), and off we went.
The 5mile course, was an out and back along the flat sandy beach, with rock pools, seaweed, and breakwaters, thrown in to keep you awake. This was great for me, as I had a chance to see our elite runners in action and give them a cheer, as they flashed, past me going in the opposite direction.
They were all easy to spot, smartly turned out in their pristine, new Hedgehopper vests. I only spotted one Hedgehopper incorrectly dressed, as she flashed past me going like a young grizell, but I would not dream of mentioning her name.
At the not so elite end of the race I had a lovely tussle with Jan and Ann, with Ann putting me in my place, 2nd, at the end of the final sprint in.
P.S. I would like to thank the crew of Arunners who hoisted us less nimble runners over the breakwaters. Ensuring that nothing else was broken
Beach Run Race Report 2 (12.7.17) by Peter Hedgethorne
The most difficult part of this run for me has always been the challenge of finding the venue without circumnavigating the shadowy heart of Littlehampton a few times and finding myself halfway up the river to Arundel following a series of three point turns and reversing manoeuvres. This year, as I approached one of the outlying roundabouts with its usual ultimately frustrating “Town Centre” direction signs, I spotted a car occupied by a running-type person which headed off in the direction opposite to that which I was about to take, signposted to “Rustington and all points East” (or something like that).
Despite the counter-intuitive nature of this action, I placed my trust in the unknown runner and latched on to her tail. I managed to avoid being totally distracted by the sight of a person washing down the cashpoint outside Lloyds Bank (not something you come across too often in my neck of the woods), and carried on my pursuit for a few minutes.
Lo and behold, before my very eyes was soon revealed the “Harvester” sign which I knew to be atop the Littlehampton branch of the reliable, if not too adventurous, restaurant chain which looms over the car park temporarily taken over on this day each year by the hordes of WSFRL competitors from all over West (and some parts of East) Sussex, offering such delights as “The Original Combo” (with unlimited salad) to tempt the fit and healthy assemblees into indulging in a massive blow out instead of trudging along (in my case) an out and back course up to their ankles in seaweed (OK, come on, get on with the running report! Ed).
Safely delivering myself at the destination in record time, having saved at least 20 minutes on my average from the outskirts of town, I wandered off in search of other fortunate early Hopper arrivals and came across Paul S with Tony M who informed me that the PHH race numbers were in the safekeeping of Val who was on her way but not yet in the car park.
The panic setting in amongst the steadily arriving Hoppers on hearing this news was fairly mild in the circumstances as they stood there clutching their as yet redundant safety pins, hoping that Val and Griz (her vehicle sharer for the day) were not hopelessly stranded at the end of the local one-way system trying to shake some sense into their satnav. Eventually Griz was spotted clutching the ubiquitous plastic folder and once she had emerged from the scrum of number-hungry Hoppers, she was able to inform me that this was to be her first race since the 10k at Lewes on Easter Monday…….welcome back Griz!
The junior race having passed off without mishap, the seniors started to assemble in what seemed to be a random crowd some way off from the start/finish inflatable (later to be the scene of a self-destructive end of race for yours truly), with everyone seeming to be facing in a different direction with no idea which way they were supposed to be heading. There was the usual host team (Arunners) representative standing on a chair with a supposed voice amplifying device hovering near his mouth, whose utterings (possibly telling us which direction we were supposed to be heading in) were as usual totally incomprehensible.
Suddenly another Arunner emerged from the crowd clutching an aerosol powered klaxon, causing those who could see him to start their final mental preparations for the start, albeit not yet knowing whether that would be to the North, East, South or West. Luckily there were sufficient numbers of runners who were aware of the course for them to lead us North around the park on the klaxon blast, so off we went (blimey, thought we would never get there – Ed).
Having run around the park we then (slightly confusingly) had to run through the start inflatable and off up the path onto the beach, most people being somewhat concerned by reports that had been filtering back about sea water being up to the groynes (no comments please Mr Millen), and stranded sea mammals littering the route, the latter (but not the former) turning out to be completely unsubstantiated.
There was no doubt that the beach had recently been sea-covered, and competitors’ trainers were soon producing the full range of squelching sounds, with the addition of a couple of groynes to hurdle making the course reminiscent of a 3,000m steeplechase (not that I have ever done one of those). There was plenty of support from enthusiastic Arunner marshals and a water station on the beach which I was able to use for a breather both out and back.
For the past few years, this race has cut inland after about 2 miles and passed along a path and through a field before turning back on itself. However, this year, apparently because the tide was far enough out for the required period, we were able to stay on the beach for the whole race, which everyone agreed was a good thing as it cut out the requirement for the usual strength-sapping haul up the shingle to the path.
The fast boys were up front as usual, with Alex leading the Hoppers in followed by John H, welcome visitor from Chichester Matt Bennett, Rob, Richard and Dave. Judith held the fort for the ladies, being spurred on by a bit of a “ding dong” with husband Tim who at one stage was ahead of her, but that didn’t last long! Judith was followed by Griz, finishing well up the field on her return from exile, Val (consolidating her substantial lead in the ladies’ league) and Zoe.
I missed the finish of the above-mentioned owing to my position further down the field, and when I arrived at the top of the park with the “inflatable finish” in view I tried to “ramp it up” a bit, but when I was approaching the line I took my foot off the pedal too early and ended up being overtaken on the line by a rather rounded gentleman who came past me like a train a couple of millimetres from the line. Tim later told me that he had been standing by the line and had shouted at me to warn me that this character was catching me up, but I had chosen not to hear him and slowed to walking pace a metre short of the line.
On later review of the results, it became apparent that this runner was not a member of a league team and therefore my defeat was immaterial in terms of the Hopper points total, not that my 2 points would have made any difference to the overall Hopper score. I then watched a number of Hoppers come in, looking for the most part pretty strong – these were Sally, Ann, Jan and Jas, with Mike, Paul S and Tony M from the mens’ race.
There was time afterwards for cake and race post mortems and the general feeling was that the wholly beach run was preferred to the usual semi-path version. We were also left to speculate how this set of results would affect the PHH Handicaps for the race next Tuesday, the next race in the WWUL series – I think Alex will be starting fairly late!
Roundhill Romp Report (5.7.17) by Simon Coppard
What a beautiful evening for a spot of Roundhill Romping!
I personally love this one, tough but throughly rewarding. Sadly I’m not running tonight, so I can’t give a runners perspective of the race although I know it’s a toughie from previous experience ‘tough going up and equally tough going down! I promised to write up a report so will do from a spectators point of view through the lens of the camera?
We looked strong with the Hedgehoppers about to venture round the Roundhill Romping delights, and as usual in very good spirits. For this race, we welcomed back John Russell who was able to run this evening and join our amazing bunch of regular most valuable Hedgehoppers! #allofyou
As usual the High Street is closed to traffic briefly as the runners line up at the start, then before you know it, the hoard of runners are racing down the road at a gallop that red rum would be proud off! The mass of runners pass quickly and it’s all quiet again, for me I’m off to position myself to hopefully capture everyone as they come to the dreaded downhill part! Not my favourite bit if I’m honest, but some might like the downward part of the run!
Near the top of the hill awaiting the expectant runners to appear, the view is glorious and such a beautiful evening, all is still and peaceful. Not for long as the lead runner James Baker (pretty much a WSFRL legend he’s won so many!) appears hurtling down easy as you like followed behind by Jack Leach. You don’t have to wait long as a steady stream of runners come through, at first one by one then in groups.
The first to appear for the Hoppers was John who was looking strong and surging down the hill, Alex was not far behind and looking very focused!
Gradually everyone appeared through the wooded area and looking so good, some where able to give a smile, some focussed and some dreading the steep decent ahead, but everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves, you certainly made it look easy!
You only have to look at the photos!
(The Flickr page has the latest Roundhill Romp photos plus photos from previous runs from differing photographers, not all mine).
I’m sure there were some PB’s today as times were super fast, our top scorers were John R, Alex and Judith with 10 points, John H 9 points, Will and Val 8 points, Rob, Gill and Sarah 7 points. A brilliant run from all the wonderful Hedgehoppers and a very well done to all who ran.
Downland Dash Report (24.6.17) by Simon Coppard
Well done to all the Hoppers at today’s event, which let’s be honest although flat is not the easiest of courses! It may not contains the hills that many runs have but it’s more than made up with leg sapping long grass/hay ( what ever it is it certainly saps your energy), not to mention the slippery bridges and stiles. Despite that it is a wonderful event, along with the school fete going on in the background, tombola, sound of the school rock band and many other fete delights!
Recently we have enjoyed some amazingly blisteringly hot sunshine, which I discovered to my cost can quite easily cause heat exhaustion despite taking plenty of fluids on a recent ride, thankfully I was fine although us men do suffer badly and I do admit it. Today the weather took a cooler turn with some rain before the start, thankfully the rain stopped and helped bring the temperature down a notch!
Well here we are again except for Hannah who was poorly along with her little one, and Andy stuck sitting in a 50 mile diverted tailback. But for those of us that made it we were ready to run our little hopper legs off. Lovely to meet everyone before the start and catch up, equally nice to chat to fellow rivals to try and work out how well they have been running recently. This year the start/finish was slightly different in that it was at the bottom of the field as opposed to the top. Mike was looking good and mentioned something about he wasn’t sprinting off at the start today, which if it was the case was a shame as it’s great watching Mike lead the race out.
A bit of a delayed start almost caused some confusion, but we were soon off on our way. Over the bouncy metal bridge, through the sapping fields, over stiles, down ditches, through gates and the best bit the wooded area, then out through the fields where it was lovely to see Stewart with his camera out on the course, I’m positive he’s David Bailey in disguise, as his photos are first class, a bit like Stewart’s running career ‘Superb’. Then onto the slippery bridge again, great care was taken to avoid a mischief while crossing over. A very warm welcome to our new runners today Geraldine and Emre (hope I haven’t missed anyone).
As for our scorers we had four 10 pointers two from the boys Simon (me) and Alex who had a fantastic run and looking like he’s going to be a good quality club runner. And two from the ladies Liz who ran fantastic despite coming back from injury, and a superb run from Geraldine a very well done. Our ever present Jenny just missed out on the 10 points bringing home 9. The two Legends that are John 8 points and Rob 7 points both were just one place away from the higher score. Next up were the lovely trio of ladies bringing home 7 points apiece Val who runs superbly, Zoe and Kerry we certainly do have some great lady runners often our strong point I feel.
Marilyn and Dave were next up with a fantastic 6 points, Dave was pleased with his sub 40. Debutante Emre was up next along with the ever smiling Adrian how does he look so good in all his photos (I look a mess), also with two great ladies Simone and Jan (a very well done to Jenny, Jan, Sue and Lucy on their recent race for life, a very worthy cause against cancer raising a fantastic £180 (slight tangent there) worth the mention), all with 4 points. Then the happy three musketeers of James (probably had a scone on the way round) Cliff and Mike brought home 3 points each along with the fabulous Ann. Pete came in with two points although I expect he had a bike hidden in the woods. Followed most importantly by Paul and Ingrid every point counts and that’s what I personally love the most, we compete as a team so a very well done to all, you done us proud.
For me it’s all about he taking part, achieving personal goals, although it is a race with points at stake, we are all in different stages of our lives/running and if we was all on a level playing field at our best I wonder how we would all fair? For me I didn’t get into running until late in life after watching the first Brighton marathon, how was it for you? I Know after reading Roy’s book that he was a decent quality club runner with amazing times I will never achieve and possibly never would have, as I said how was it for you, club runner, not sure but I can imagine Mike being a super sprinter?
Once again well done Hoppers, see you at the next one!
Hove Park (4.6.17) Race Report by Roy Taylor
Bearing in mind that this is the closest event to home, somehow or other we don’t always seem to get it right at Hove Park. On the last two occasions we have finished in 7th place, fielding just 21 runners last year. This year however we did better, placing fifth behind Lewes, Burgess Hill, Saints and Sinners and Hornets. The league scoring system has changed this year, with the individual top ten having their scores added to the participation points as opposed to six in previous years. Next year it changes again with participation points increasing to a maximum of 30 runners, which may give us some problems.
This obviously favours the bigger clubs with more numbers and plenty of likely 10 scorers, but it gives us the opportunity for more of our runners to play a part in the individual scoring. Also when we have to raise 30 runners next year, those single points are going to be important. Our list of possible ten scorers has taken a knock in the last year or two. A serious knee operation has ruled Stewart out at the moment, and everyone hopes that he may be able to return. John Russell is now based in Northants, but appears when possible, while Simon’s paramedic duties means dividing his time between rushing people to hospital or delivering babies, as opposed to scoring 10 points for Hedgehoppers.
All is not lost, and at Hove Park we had two new 10 scorers in recent additions Liz Stavreski and Geraldine Moffat, both of whom had excellent runs to be 5th and 8th respectively among the women runners. Only Alex and John (Harding ) of our runners finished ahead of them. Alex in 11th place also scored 10, with John on 9. This was also the score for Judith, who missed out on a top score by just 13 seconds. Val and Gill were next with 8, while the final three performance scorers were listed as Rob, Denis and Dave (Maskell) with 7 but could easily have been Marilyn or Zoe who had the same score among the women.
Although the distance of this event is 5k, exactly the same as parkrun, the start and finish are in different places to parkrun and the first small lap takes a different route. Comparison between the times makes interesting reading in some cases. Alex was within 9 secs of his parkrun time, but Dave with a parkrun pb of 22.38 at the time (later improved to 22.26), ran an excellent 21.33 in the league race. Adrian however was not happy to miss his parkrun time of 23.00 by just one second. Have a look at the video on Sussex Races, which shows everyone finishing Adrian, and you will soon see where you could have gained a few seconds!
We fielded 25 runners, meaning that everyone’s single participation point counted. Lower down the list it was good to see Ingrid back in league action following problems picked up in the London Marathon, partly compensated for by a high-five with Colin Jackson being captured on telly! Finally, a word about Tony who has been appearing for the Hedgehoppers in every one of the last 30 years, running a large number of the events each year. To the best of my knowledge, in recent years Tony has done no other running between the league races. In the circumstances 32.20 at Hove Park was quite a presentable performance.
There has not so far been a current league table published after 5 events, but a bit of number crunching shows us in 5th place, exactly where we were at the end of last year. Lewes lead the way with 611 points, followed by Burgess Hill 593, Saints & Sinners 560, Hornets 558, Hedgehoppers 520, Arunners 516, Lancing 485, Worthing H. 475.
Trundle Hill (17.5.17) Race Report by James Millen
As I waited underneath the safety of canopy of our reception at work to avoid the rain, whilst waiting for my chauffeur Mr Peter J ‘Hedgehopper’ Hedgethorne to arrive, I speculated as to whether this was really a good idea to be running Trundle Hill in these conditions. Also I always dread the thought of running up the hill. When I actually get there its never as bad as I imagined it.
But no I am a Hopper! And we don’t let a little matter like a drop of rain stop us, especially when there’s a fun run to compete in – do we Griz!?
My driver duly arrived, with Gill in tow. She was afforded a seat, rather than being towed along at the back. Pete’s generous to a fault like that. Anyway thought I’d best explain, just in case there was any confusion.
As we headed west in the direction of the wilds of the most western parts of West Sussex. Lavant to be precise! It became apparent that a large amount of rain had be dropped upon our fair county that afternoon and was continuing to do so. This was going to be a muddy and sticky event I thought.
I had wondered why Pete wished to pick us up so early but it became apparent when we arrived. For many of you that have previously participated in this race will be aware that parking is at a premium. Pete, had sorted this. I can only assume that he had been in contact with Chichester Runners and having informed them of his status, they naturally provided him with a VIP parking space in the village hall car park no less! The name Hedgethorne obviously goes a long way when making polite requests.
We decamped to the hall and there we stayed as gradually other Hoppers arrived and the hall filled up with runners from across the West Sussex Fun Run League family and beyond. As it was still raining most felt it was the sensible place to be. You can tell we’re a hardy lot!
Eventually it was time to head to the field for the start. Trundle Hill is always one of those races where no one seems to no which direction we are starting in. We got ourselves sorted and we were off. I was doing a Colin, I had one or two niggles post marathons and I was going to take it easy! Soon we hit the woody, puddly, muddy path to the hill itself and for those of us wearing road shoes this is where traction becomes a problem (god, I sound like a formula one driver having a whinge about lack of traction!), as most of us slid and slipped our way along the path. Any bit of grass was heaven sent as it provided a bit of stability.
Then the lower foothills of the Trundle descended into view with a streak of runners heading up them and bemused sheep wondering what on earth had disturbed their quiet evening.
By now my competitive edge had kicked in and I was intent on catching as many runners as possible. At some point, my memory is a little vague on this, I passed Gill on the upper foothills before enjoying a little running battle with Johnny Boy from Hove Hornets at the summit.
I caught sight of Val in the distance as we headed back down the hill. In doing so, we passed Mike, who arrived late to the party, heading up. Then as we slipped and slid are way back along the path back to the road and the green by the village hall, I caught up with and passed Val. This is one of those races where the final mile always seems longer than you remember and so it proved again. Finally though, the welcome sight of the road appeared and then the finish line, along with a number of Hoppers to cheer you in.
We scored 77 points from the race with 10’s for Simon Coppard , Alex Rawlinson and Judith Carder. 9 for John Harding and 8 for Val Brockwell. This result leaves the club 7th in the league, just behind Chichester. A special mention to Chris Sloman who completed his second Fun Run in quick succession and his first on away turf.
Lewes 10k (17.4.17) race report by Tim Carder
Oh, it was so good to be back and Easter Monday was the day. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say, and I’m not about to disagree. It’s been far too long and my heart has reached an overload of fondness!
But that’s enough about my beloved Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club and their return to the top-flight for the first time in 34 years. Well actually, we’ll come back to the subject, but in the meantime let’s consider the return of the West Sussex Fun Run League and the Lewes 10K.
Although it had been just a matter of three-and-a-half months rather than 34 years, the lack of WSFRL races is sorely missed. Suddenly there’s a gap in the timetable because of the demise of the Foxes 5 race, the move of the Worthing Lido race to Windlesham School, and the transformation of the Valentine’s Day mud massacre into the Gunpowder Trot.
Happily, Roy and James had come up with the truly brilliant idea of employing the local Parkruns as a winter/spring mini-league that kept us together and kept us competitive. Inspired! Thank you, it kept the legs turning over in those darker months.
But now the WSFRL was back, bringing its fun and its running on its annual Easter excursion to the county town of East Sussex. And while the Parkruns were enormous fun, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
The Lewes 10K is a race that I’ve had a love–hate relationship with over the years. I love doing it. It has varied terrain – much nicer than a street run in my opinion – but is gentle enough to allow me to “go for it” a bit in my own modest way. Along with everyone else I used to hate the stiles that might hold you up for a good 30 seconds or more, but they went a few years ago. And I really detested the kilometre markers because they were always in the wrong place and misled me enough to scupper hopes of a good time. Now they also seem to have gone. They will not be missed!
The upshot of all these niggles is that I’ve never been able to run under 50 minutes on this course; yet it’s always been my aim. Last year I was 10 minutes slower than that, exactly 1:00:00 as injury took its toll. Let’s just say I was hoping to do better this time around.
The race has always been well attended, and Judith and I were flung into the farthest-flung corner of the car park. But we found the Hedgehoppers flag already erected, with Sim handing out the numbers. There was lots of catch-up chat, especially with those that took part in the Brighton Marathon. Well done to you all! For them this would be a warm-down run; or for those doing London it was a warm-up. Some were doing both! A lap of the track was warm-up enough for me at this race.
With the children’s races finished, it was time to line up at the start. As usual, many Hedgehoppers were too busy chatting to notice the drift to the line, but eventually we infiltrated the pack in our usual positions, and off we went.
I remember a few years ago when this race was run in freezing rain and a howling gale. Today it was calm, dry and fairly warm – actually too warm with my short-sleeved thermal on under my Hedgehoppers vest.
We ran down the road where there are very often large puddles. It’s quite narrow and it’s easy to get impeded as the vast throng proceeds on its way. And, I noticed, more and more people seem to be wearing earphones and are totally oblivious to what’s going on behind them, making it quite difficult to run at a preferred pace. Grrrr.
But then you go under the bypass – happily no floods this time – and the course widens into the open countryside. Up the steep rise to the farm cottages and back down to the levels on the approach to Iford village. Ahead of me, about 50 metres away, was Judith, with Neal just behind her. My wife and I were doing all right.
It was here that Paul Rawlinson came alongside me. Now we all like to beat our club mates, don’t we? The sight of Paul spurred me on just a little. I knew I would have to keep the pace going in order to keep him behind me, and that’s what I did as we ran into the village. I tried hard up the slight rise through the field, easing off only when the steps and a short queue came into view. I judged it right, and arrived at the staircase just as the person in front went down them. Energy saved!
The boggy field was next – except that it wasn’t boggy at all. This has been a really dry winter and spring. There’ll be a hosepipe ban soon, mark my words!
Back onto the road, under the bypass and into the home straight. Still I pushed on, certain that Paul was just behind me. I dare not look around. But now someone else came up on my inside – and there wasn’t quite enough room to pass. He bumped me, said “Sorry” – and bumped me again! Well I could have said something but instead I used my fit of pique to speed up, almost sprinting away from the culprit. I looked at my watch as we rounded the bend by the sewage works: 47:30 or thereabouts. Another minute and I’d reached the track.
Now I’m very familiar with the Lewes track: not only through this race but I’ve also run 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races on it, and race-walked on it. Could I run three-quarters of it in 90 seconds?
I ought to, I thought, but my legs were tiring. Mr Culprit passed me back, gloating no doubt! But still Paul was behind me. I looked at my watch, I ran hard. I looked again at my watch and ran harder. I rounded the bend into the home straight and saw the race clock ticking inexorably onwards: 49:54 … 55 … 56. I ran as fast as my little legs would let me. With about 5 metres to go the tall figure of Paul Rawlinson went by me. Well his legs are about twice the length of mine.
The last figure I saw was 57. I stopped my watch on 49:57.58. Yesssss!
I patted Paul on the back and showed him my watch. “Where did that come from?” he asked.
“You pushed me on and I pulled you with me,” I replied with a satisfied grin. OK, he beat me, but I had just beaten a very long-standing personal target and I was a happy Easter bunny. I guess I must also thank Mr Culprit. I just hoped that the official timing was as accurate as mine.
It was. Forty-nine minutes and 58 seconds. A new PB!
I found Judith. She’d been injured and couldn’t even start the Brighton Marathon, but she’s on her way back again with a nine-pointer, just missing her customary ten by two places. It will come, I’m sure. Jenny was first lady home, beating 46 minutes – excellent!
Simon, though, went round in just over 38 minutes. OK, he’s marathon trained, but this was the weekend after the marathon – ten points, and nearly three minutes ahead of young Alex. Brilliant! I’m sure you can get that London good-for-age time if you find the right race.
This season there are ten scorers per club, so I must mention John H (between marathons); Rob (with very serious competition in his own household – tell me about it!); Colin “Oh I’ve had a terrible week” Hannant; Super Val (carrying on from where she left off last year); and, happily, Marilyn and Fiona who might not have scored here in past years.
But of course one of the great things about the WSFRL is that you score for the club just by turning out, or at least 25 of us do. So well done to the rest of the Portslade clan who hopped around the Lewes 10K. We can’t all get those red numbers against our name, but we can all enjoy the races, enjoy the company and cheer each other on.
There were 35 of us on the day: too many to give each an individual mention, so I’ll just pick a few whose stories I learned of. For instance Matt, running a decent time after injury nearly scuppered his marathon – he’s made of tough stuff all right and did a marvellous time at Brighton, in the circumstances; Nigel, who’s done all eight Brighton Marathons; and Sheila, who’s doing some ridiculous number of marathons – six I think –in 2017!
In my own case, I must apologise for an early exit. I normally cheer all our runners home – well, except the ones that finish before me, of course – but just this once I had an even more important engagement, and needed to get to the Amex Stadium by three o’clock. I therefore left you all with my good wishes ringing in the air, and let Judith enjoy a pasta with ten or so other Hoppers in Lewes. (Before you say what a cruel husband I am, she really did want to cycle home.) And I wasn’t the only one dashing away to watch the Albion!
What a fabulous day! A PB in the morning, and promotion to the Premier League in the afternoon. Forgive me if I’ve gone on a bit, but Easter Mondays don’t come better than this.
Hangover 5 (1.1.17) Race Report by Val Brockwell
It’s 8am on New Year’s Day. It’s cold, grey, and wet. I should really keep my cold germs to myself, cosily wrapped up at home, but… I’d like to take part in the Hangover 5, because a) I want to collect my hard-won WSFRL 2016 completers T-shirt, b) Stewart wants to walk up the hill and take photos, and c) I’ve already told James I’ll write a race report, which I can’t really do from my comfy sofa…
So off we set, and got to the rec an hour early (I’ve learnt my lesson since the Gunpowder Trot débacle), just as a perky James and a jolly Ingrid were flag-erecting in the soggy grass. Not a sign of a hangover from either. More hoppers soon rolled up: Andy sporting his brand new hoppervest; Rob, freshly back from a 40°C+ Aussie adventure and complete with girlfriend Liz; Peter H back from a lovely, but not I’m guessing a 40°C+, Guernsey adventure; James’s friend from work, Vicki; and Peter W, looking fit and eager to get on with it. Lots of “happy new years” all round, and lots more smiley faces, including Jas, Judith, Jenny, Jan and John.*
*(NB. Sally, Tim, and Neal were also there, and also very smiley, but their names don’t have the same pleasing alliteration).
Stewart of the gammy knee decided to set off up the hill. Fellow-cold-sufferer Ingrid and I decided it was silly to stand idly beside the flag getting cold and wet. We fought our way into a tiny space in the dry pavilion to have a bit of a steam. I had a nice chat with Simon, also squashed inside, then went outside for a desultory warm-up jog. I joined up with Judith for a turn about the field and we almost took part in the junior race by mistake. Poor Gill also attempted the warm-up routine, but decided her badly bruised hip wasn’t going to allow her to run. She’d fallen off her bike on black ice in Portslade and in addition to the whopping bruise was also suffering from whiplash-type pain in her neck and shoulder – get better quick Gill, and I hope you soon get your cycling confidence back.
Anyway… the race eventually started with what seemed like an inordinate number of laps of the boggy field before we headed out into open country and up on to the downs. It turned out that the bogginess of the field couldn’t compete with the slip-slidiness of the footpaths in the open country. I saw three people fall over in the mud, thankfully none of them seemed hurt, though Stewart did tell me after that he’d seen the St John Ambulance folk in action. We’d been alerted by Goring RR in the race details that ‘cardiac hill’ had been re-surfaced, so I guess that bit must have been easier than in 2016, but overall, I’d say conditions underfoot were just as difficult as last year, despite fewer big puddles. Maybe they could arrange for a few handrails for 2018.
The rain had eased off as we toiled up the hill, and it really wasn’t that cold once sweating and heavy breathing had properly kicked in. It was fun! Hoorah! There’s nothing to compare with a good downland run on a New Year’s Day. I managed a smile towards birthday-boy Stewart’s camera as I added my small contribution to his mud-splattered clothing on my way past. A friendly marshal told us, “Well done, it’s all downhill from here” (Lies!!) I managed to stay upright on the very slippy-slidy steep bit of downhill – my companions and I ‘attacked’ this bit of the descent gingerly. My clogged-up lungs wouldn’t allow me to push on hard, but I enjoyed the fun of the downhills, and in truth was just pleased to be taking part and blowing away a few cobwebs. There was welcome support from Roy and Joyce at the same spot as last year, and then lo and behold, there was the wet rec again.
Overall PHH had a good morning out, though we were short of a full quota of participation points. Here’s what was going on way ahead of me: The talented Katy Hedgethorne had a stunning run to finish 7th overall and 1st female, in an impressive 34.34. If only she could run with us more often. We were also fortunate to have Liz Stavreski running for us – she stormed in 3rd female in 37.17. Then our THIRD TEN-POINT FEMALE (three cheers for the women!!), Judith, hopefully soon to be restored to full fighting-fitness, was in 15th place. Male point-scorers were Simon, John and Nathan, with Rob and Andy not far behind. By the way, hedgehogs on the front, James. Well done to all our runners, including those of us who never manage to score anything other than participation points! We currently lie joint 5th in the league with 77 points, that’s up 3 places on 2016.
Understandably everyone dispersed like lightning afterwards. Sally and James swiftly dismantled the flag. John, Mike and I agreed to wait till the Lewes race to get a photo of us in our “Completers 2016” T-shirts, hopefully in sunshine. My major disappointment of the day was discovering on closer inspection that my T-shirt is emblazoned with the name ‘Val Brocwell’. They’ve agreed to reprint it.