Windlesham Whip (30.9.18) – Race Report by Tim Carder
Like most other Hedgehoppers, I love the West Sussex Fun Run League, but the same old round of races each year can, I guess, get a little over-familiar. So it was nice to see a new venue added to the calendar – and as it replaced the Worthing Lido 4, it was very nice.
For me, the Worthing race was always one of the hardest: a flat-out, there-and-back sprint with very little variety; physically painful and a mental slog. That’s the reason why I don’t really like the Worthing Parkrun, although it’s possible to get a fast time on the course.
So what was the new race like?
Well, I’ll get to that in a moment, but first just a few comments about the venue.
The first thing to note is that Windlesham House School is eight miles from its postal town of Pulborough. It actually lies to the north of Worthing, situated between Findon and Washington and firmly in the South Downs national park. When we arrived we could see why – it was idyllic.
The school’s website tells me that it’s a private school for girls and boys aged 4 to 13, founded on the Isle of Wight in 1837. After nine years it moved to Brighton, to the top of Norfolk Terrace, but in 1913, with the town having grown around it, a second move was made to the countryside delights of … Portslade!
Yes, what is now the King’s School (at the junction of Mile Oak Road and the High Street) was once Windlesham House School until it too was swamped by urbanisation. The final move to Highden House at Washington was made in 1934.
And I did happen to know already that Duncan Goodhew, Olympic gold medallist swimmer, was a former pupil.
That’s enough of the history. What of the present?
The race start and finish were situated in a natural bowl shared with the cricket ground. Dotted around the school’s 65 acres we found several golf holes, a long-jump pit and a shot-put circle. Up near the main building was an indoor swimming pool. Bob Page suggested that, if he’d had access to these facilities when he was young in the Hanover district of Brighton, he would have been a better sportsman. “Cross country champion?” I mused. “Golf champion,” he replied.
I came across Colin and asked how his cycling holiday in Croatia had been. I soon wished I hadn’t. “Terrible,” was the reply, which I really should have anticipated. It was wet, windy and steep, apparently. The bright side was, of course, that the previous Tuesday’s Hedgehopper run had been spared Colin’s usual morale-raising quips.
We wandered over to the cricket pavilion which doubled as race HQ and looked for a course map. There was none but a Worthing Harrier explained the route. “A small loop and then a big loop,” he said, “with the big hill after two miles.” He reassured us that it wasn’t as bad as the hill on the Steyning race; but as Steyning is on a par at least with the Trundle, it wasn’t that much of a reassurance. He finished: “There’s a mile of downhill to the finish.” I smiled.
There were also portaloos provided, so well done the Harriers.
With the junior race completed it was time for us old ’uns to have a go. The sun was out and it was nice and warm as we gathered on the grass of the bowl. What a contrast to the previous week at Tilgate.
The race began with a lap of the playing field to thin the field out a bit. Up ahead I could see a white vest with blue and orange sashes in the lead. Simon’s 22-mile cycle ride from Peacehaven had obviously warmed his legs up.
As we ran past the pavilion I was expecting a circuit of the school’s golf course to follow, but in fact we turned left, up along an access road, past an artificial football pitch, and along to the main school buildings. It was mostly uphill: not too steep but a decent test for the legs.
As we passed the big house I saw the turn that the Worthing Harrier warned me led to the big hill, but we continued along the road around the back of the playing field to reach the pavilion area once more.
Nick passed me – as he usually does. Adrian passed me – as he usually does. So too did Zoë and Gill (the latter trained for the 38-mile Downslink Ultra). Now they don’t usually do that, so I resolved to get them on the mile-long downhill stretch to the line.
We repeated the hill up to the school buildings, then took the turning for the big hill. Now Kerry pulled alongside and we chatted our way upwards. Well, she chatted. I mostly nodded my head and puffed. Her conversation must have been stimulating though because, pretty soon, I found myself at the top of the hill as she ran away from me.
“Call that a big hill?” I thought to myself. It was in fact a pretty minor beast. The Worthing Harrier was right, it wasn’t as bad as the Steyning hill. In fact, it wasn’t a patch on the Steyning hill.
By the side of the track I saw Greg sitting down. He had his earphones on so he didn’t hear my “You all right?” enquiry. He was feeling a little poorly, it transpired, but well enough to finish. I predict it will be the last time he comes in behind me in a race.
Now we ran along a hilltop track with widening views across the Downs to the west. The serenity was disturbed only by a succession of four-wheel drive vehicles heading for a shooting venue.
We looped back onto a footpath where Judith was standing to cheer us on. This was a course she would have liked, so it’s a great pity that injury is currently preventing her from running. In the meantime she can get some exercise by cycling to and from Fun Run League venues. Fortunately she didn’t see me trip over a couple of hundred metres up the path. Oh well, yet another scar for the club’s most scarred knees, a legacy of football on Astroturf.
The last mile was, as promised, downhill all the way to the finish. I could see Gill, Zoë and Kerry ahead of me. “I’ll pick it up a bit now,” I thought, and started to increase the pace. As I closed slightly, another thought went through my head. Was it right, I asked myself, to try and catch someone who brings the most delicious cakes to each and every race?
It was a moral dilemma, but by the time I had come down firmly on the side of “yes, it is” I could do nothing about the situation. I might have picked the pace up a little, but Kerry, Zoë and Gill all did the same, racing each other with rather more élan than I showed in trying to catch them.
I was expecting to run along the road to the bottom of the playing field to finish, but in fact the route took us down a steep bank for a final 300-metre run-in to the line on the grass, in full view of those already finished who were distributed around the banking.
When I finished after 36 minutes there was a large number of Hoppers already indulging in post-race chat – and, of course, in Zoë’s generous spread of uber-delicious cakes. I think perhaps I have been having a few too many of those lately, but I will put the fact that she beat me down to her ever-improving form rather than my over-indulgence. Well done Zoë – and thank you!
First home was Alex – I’m sure it was him and not his identical twin – who beat Simon into second place in a reversal of the positions at Tilgate. Simon was actually overtaken by a number of competitors on the run-in, but then I bet they weren’t doing a 44-mile round trip by bike. Of course, if he was really serious he’d have swum home from Worthing to Peacehaven.
The veteran running machine that is John took third place, scoring nine points for the club.
Then came the ladies, three of them scoring ten points: bright young things Jade and Jo sandwiched by the just slightly more mature Geraldine. Jenny, recovering from injury, got a nine, with the ever-reliable Kerry gathering eight. Judith will certainly have her work cut out when she’s over her current tendon problem.
Well done to Andy and Dennis who also scored in the red, but the beauty of the West Sussex Fun Run League is that participation counts as well as performance – so I garnered my usual point as well. Even with the allure of the Barn’s Green half marathon and a couple of 10k races, we still turned out 27 runners for full points, and the Hedgehoppers are once more quite near the top of the charts.
It was good to see Paul back after recent sad events, and also Jas with her persistent injury problems. There are also plenty of new faces in the club, some of which I don’t necessarily recognise, but it’s very pleasing that the Portslade Hedgehoppers, such a friendly bunch, is still thriving with new members joining us on almost a weekly basis. That is a very healthy sign for the future.
During the post-race chat I was asked: “How did you find it?”
I took the question literally. “I followed the signs,” was my reply.
I took it literally because the questioner, who’d better remain nameless for fear of embarrassment, told me they had missed the turn off the A24 and had to make a four-mile diversion to reach the venue.
I’m glad they did because it was a rather nice race. There was more tarmac than I had anticipated, but it wasn’t outrageously difficult. The “big hill” was not to be feared at all, with only 200 feet of ascent from the very bottom end of the course to the top – and none of it steep. If I had to compare it to an existing race then I would say the Highdown Hike was the most similar. And the setting? Why, it beat even Worthing seafront!
Tilgate Forest (23.9.18) – Race Report by Nick Parsons
The advice had gone out on the Friday that trail shoes may be de riguer for the Tilgate Forest trip. As we looked out of the living room window on the Sunday morning, the rain beating against the glass, we joked that kayaks may be more appropriate. As we drove to Crawley we realised kayaks would be an underestimation and that we were now in full Ark mode. The glorious summer of 2018 was a mere memory as we were now faced with an unseasonably chilly late September, the air filled with the visible collective breaths of runners who were unprepared for the cold and wet. Or who had not been able to think quickly enough to say, “You know what, today would be a good day to reorganise my CD collection”.
No flag to rally around due to the weather, those Hoppers brave enough to face the conditions met inside the K2 leisure centre huddled around the only person who had availed themselves of the Costa coffee concession. I looked at my fellow Hoppers as they stripped down, prepared to leave their legs bare to the elements, in some cases running in just shorts and a vest. A sense of pride coursed through me, my chest puffed and there may have been a tear in my eye. Admittedly that could have been the onset of hyperthermia. But here was a group who weren’t going to let the biblical nature of the weather deter them. We few, we happy few. We band of runners.
As it turned out Tilgate Forest provided a degree of shelter from the worst of the elements. It also provided challenging ascents and descents in the wet conditions (although why the ascents seem to be far greater than the descents I’m not sure. Does the world tilt on its axis in this area of Crawley?). There was also mud. A lot of mud.
The start was a rather muted affair as we struggled to hear the announcement which I believed amounted to “It’s muddy, be careful”. The term ‘Sherlock’ and ‘no…..well you get the idea’ came to mind. Within 30m the runners in front of me suddenly parted left and right. This was to avoid a very large puddle rather than recognising my obviously *cough* superior pace and letting me through. The avoidance of said water hazards always strikes me as strange as sooner rather than later the very same people are running ankle deep through water without breaking stride. All they need is an orchestra, an umbrella and a rather officious policeman to embrace their full Gene Kelly.
I am not with the big guns with their 10 and 9-point scores (and at this point I was going to jump into a discussion; aka a rant, over the inequity of the scoring system). I still don’t understand it. But then there are many other things in the universe that I don’t understand. So, having discussed tactics over a rather nice birthday dinner for Zoe the evening before (yes dear reader we do discuss race tactics over dinner – Zoe had the beef, I had the partridge and we split the dessert) the plan was to start off at the back, run steadily, but don’t go too mad, ease into the race.
However, I seemed to meet the first hill with a degree of confidence and found myself overtaking runners, presumably because they were too busy singing and dancing in the rain.
The course meandered round the forest. Friendly and encouraging marshals shepherded the participants around the myriad of paths, although appreciation of the arboreal delights was limited as one was trying to navigate a path that didn’t involve running through mud thick enough to suck the barnacles from an aircraft carrier, let alone the runners from the feet of the unwary. Your reporter stoically endured the conditions picking off runners one by one with nary a glance behind. At one point, as the inner steeplechaser in me took over, I jumped over the very low gate. Unfortunately, I did clip the heel of the runner in front of me. Happily, she didn’t fall over. What’s the etiquette there? Stop and help? Apologise over one’s shoulder as you run on? Run over their back to make sure they can’t get up quickly and then, perhaps to add insult to injury, push their face into the dirt?
Onwards and upwards the run continued. Any deeper into the forest and we would have been finding Japanese soldiers who weren’t aware WWII had ended. I saw Simon on his inward journey and he gave me an encouraging wave that only the truly quick can give to the truly slow.
But the ubiquitous ups were eventually replaced by luscious levels and then delicious downs as we neared the finish. I was passed by a Hove Hornet in the last mile and was then the epitome of the lonely long-distance runner as, entering the last 500m, the group ahead were too far in front and the group behind were no threat. But this was no longer about a position. This was about a time, a personal battle and a need to sprint through to the finish, helped by the fact the earth had tilted in my favour at that point. I received cheery encouragement from Val, which is always nice as I am aware how much she wishes she was running.
At the end I found a happy group of Hoppers. Neal and Dave stood with cheery smiles and tide marks round their ankles. Simon, who finished a magnificent 7th, took on the role of official photographer, recording the muddy figures for posterity. John and Alex wandered over, looking suitably pleased and muddy. The consensus was that everyone had rather enjoyed the run, possibly because of, rather than in spite of, the conditions. The forest paths had provided a more forgiving and spongy surface that many had found to their liking. And the downhill finish had meant that the illusion of a sprint finish could be maintained.
Then to the car park and a quick removal of the worst of the mud with a wet sock (a line I never thought I’d be writing!!) before the by now mandatory eating of cake. This time a joint production by Cherryman (raspberry and lemon drizzle) and Parsons (banana bread with chocolate chips). Discussions continued, and it was nice to see the return of Mr Sloman, on good form as always.
The all-important results saw Simon, Alex, Jade and Geraldine bring home 10 points, Jade finishing 3rd and Geraldine close behind in 5th. The ever-reliable John and Jo each scored 9, Mike got us 8 and Dave and Zoe produced wonder runs to score 7 each. Last, but certainly not least, Denis contributed 6 points. Our fantastic turn-out saw us score 113 points and finishing third on the day. A truly remarkable achievement and congratulations to all who ran.
And what other activity gives you so much fun in the mud? Mud wrestling would potentially be on the list, but I wouldn’t look good in a bikini and I wouldn’t get my participation point either.
Highdown Hike (1.8.18) – race report by Pete Hedgethorne
Wednesday 1st August 2018, the day that nearly 400 members of local running clubs descended on the beauty spot to the north west of Worthing known as Highdown, for what has been known for years as the Highdown Hike, presumably because no one could think of a more appropriate word beginning with “H”. It has to be said that the way most people set about this challenge bears little resemblance to what would generally be recognised as a hike, although having said that, many of the quicker participants could quite easily have loaded up their rucksacks with corned beef sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer and stopped off for a picnic at the top of the hill, and still got back to the finish before I was in danger of troubling the timekeepers.
The course seems to be changed every year, and the unfortunate Worthing Strider who failed to take a step back when volunteers were requested had the task of trying to explain to the masses at the start where they were supposed to be going. Clearly not an easy task, and one which he sensibly decided to distill into advice that we should start off with a “big lap”, follow the marshalls’ instructions thereafter and “watch out for rabbit holes”. A quick countdown later, off we set at various paces to suit our preferences and abilities, with the Hedgehoppers being lead away by super-speedy Simon, who was making one of his welcome rare appearances in the PHH diagonals thanks to a favourable shift pattern at work. Unusually he had left his bike at home this time and arrived by car, although with the state of the rush hour traffic in the Brighton/Worthing area, he probably would have got there quicker on two wheels.
This year the course was one of those really frustrating ones where you spend a lot of time and energy running up a steep hill, only to find that the next stage of the race involves running all the way back down again, knowing that you are going to have to do it all again. At one point we were running down a long hill parallel with, but in contraflow to the faster runners, and it would have been very tempting to cut straight across to save having to come back up, but of course all such thoughts were immediately banished from Hopper minds, an attitude which also prevented them from pushing in at the pinchpoints (unlike the members of some clubs who displayed somewhat lower moral standards!).
A feature of the race of interest to Hoppers (but probably no one else) was the latest instalment of our beloved Chairman “Mao” Millen displaying his uncanny knack of reeling in an unsuspecting flagging Hedgehopper in the final 50 metres, this time choosing Ade (“The Babe”) Rutledge as his victim, although it couldn’t have been any closer with the two of “em sharing the (very respectable) time of 33:22 and James taking the honours by what would have been, in equine terms, a very short head.
Once the dust had settled, Hoppers assembled for the customary group photo whilst stuffing the latest of Zoe’s delicious baking exploits into their faces, and entered into the usual post race analysis/banter. We had 26 entrants (and therefore scored the maximum 25 participation points), and the results later revealed that we had performance scored with three 10s, three 9s, two 8s and two 7s to finish fourth out of the clubs, a very impressive performance which would have been bettered if there had been only 6 performance scores as in previous years.
As the show moved off onto the road, a final piece of excitement stirred the remaining PHH ranks, as a “suspicious object” was uncovered unclaimed at the bottom of the pile of Hopper kitbags. Luckily it was eventually identified as Mike Airey’s compact running accoutrements holder, moments before the bomb squad was called in.
Onwards we go to the next instalment at Fittleworth next month!
The Daily Sprint – Sunday 29 July – Seven Stiles race report by Editor in Chief, Jan Morgan
Hedgehoppers get off to a soggy start at Seven Stiles
Hello Hoppers and welcome to my debut as race report writer. As I work in the wonderful world of publishing it didn’t seem ‘right and proper’ that I should side-step this duty any longer.
I had originally planned for the headline of this report to read ‘Hoppers finish on a High in the Heat at Henfield’. Needless to say the ‘Editor’ had to make a last minute amendment before this issue could be put to bed.
After the recent heatwave, followed by a small spattering of rain on Friday, it was anybody’s guess what the weather might be doing on Sunday. Well, what we actually got was something akin to the start of the monsoon season.
I was picked up for the race by my sister Sue, who has lived in the West Midlands for the past 30 years, but likes to come down and participate for the Hoppers in the occasional league race. She’s not so familiar with the Sussex roads these days, so while she dodged her way around all the flooded parts of the road, I was navigating, feeling at times a bit like a rally car co-driver (left, left, LEFT!)
We were also accompanied by Dad (Roy) who rarely misses a league race, even if he’s not running he will most likely be there as a supporter.
Having been warned of a potential parking palaver at the venue, we parked as instructed in one of the town car parks, and made our way up to the leisure centre on foot, asking ourselves “why are we doing this?” By the time we arrived we already had very squelchy shoes and were considerably wet before we’d even started running.
The first challenge – particularly at this race if you’re female – is deciding exactly when to join the legendary ladies loo queue. Too early and you just want to go again before the race starts, too late and you run the risk of the queue stretching almost back to Small Dole. However, this year it didn’t seem too bad, probably due to reduced numbers on account of the weather.
So, next dilemma – waterproof jacket, long-sleeve top or just the vest? I braved it and went with just the vest. So we lined up at the start, huddling together like penguins, shivering, and just wanting to get on with it. Miraculously the rain seemed to ease off for the 42 minutes that I was running, the choice of clothing proved to be perfect and the conditions were infinitely more comfortable than running in last weeks unrelenting heat.
I always think of this four mile course as being flat, but there is a bit of uphill about a mile in, followed by a pleasantly breezy bit of downhill as you head towards the river. The ground along the riverbank had developed a few somewhat treacherous cracks and fissures in the dry weather and I almost lost my footing on one of them.
As we got to the end of the stretch along the river something occured to me – no stile! So this race that has over the years had a diminishing number of stiles, now doesn’t have any at all. However, anybody who ran this race last year will remember that if you were towards the back half of the field a considerable bottleneck occured at the one stile, resulting in us having to stand and queue for up to five minutes to get over the stile (apart from a few runners who couldn’t be doing with all that very British nonsense and just vaulted over the gate next to it).
The absence of any stiles enroute led me to wonder if there ever had been seven stiles on the course, so I asked a man who knows this kind of stuff – my Dad. He remembers years when there were ‘a few’ but can’t recall if there were ever seven. Maybe there are seven in the vicinity but the route doesn’t require us to clamber over them all thankfully. I guess the truth of it is lost like a legend in the mists of time.
After the bit by the river with no stiles, there was a bit with very claggy mud, the kind that clings to your shoes and makes them feel about ten pounds heavier. Thankfully this bit was relatively short and it wasn’t long before we were back on a more solid path with about a mile or so to go.
I was rewarded at the finish with not only a medal, but also a truly scrumptious chocolate brownie. (Sorry Zoe, Sonia got to me first!) We really do have an abundance of very good cake makers in the club.
So, dear readers (if you’re still with me) let us turn to the matter of the results.
We originally had 34 runners entered, but this number had reduced to 27 on the day, in some cases probably due to the inclement weather conditions. First man home for the Hoppers was super speedy Simon Coppard with a time of 25:22, earning us 10 points. Other 10 point scorers were Geraldine Moffat and Jo Mabbitt. Judith Carder earned 9 points, while John Harding, Will Russell, Mike Pegley, Kerry Kipling, Zoe Cherryman and Gemma Gilroy all scored 8 points.
This was the first league race for one of our newest members, Stephanie Smithers, who has only been with us a few weeks and finished in a very respectable time of 36:52. Well done Steph, we hope it’s the first of many. In fact, well done to everyone who braved the rain to participate and thanks to Sim for organising the entries.
Well, that just about wraps it up from Henfield ‘Sans Stiles’ 2018.
Roundhill Romp (4.7.18) – race report by James Millen
Roundhill Romp pants expose or Pants Down you’re the loser!
It may sound like a headline from the Sun newspaper but I’ll return to the headline briefly at the end of my report.
It was warm night – well to be honest what night or day hasn’t been recently – as the mighty Hoppers prepared to take on the challenge of Steyning AC Roundhill Romp. The race is one which is loved and feared by many in equal measure. The biggest challenge for many is the downhill. Many runners have taken a tumble over one of the tree roots or the point when the path becomes a steep downhill. Tonight would prove no different including for two of our unfortunate runners, Jo and Gemma. Although, Gemma managed to take a tumble on the uphill.
Roundhill Romp was my very first fun run back in 2003. Ah the days of an almost full head of hair! In those days Little Jimbo had just re-discovered the love of running which had initially been uncovered thanks to cross country running at Steyning Grammar School. In those days, much to the surprise of the games teachers here was something I was good at, as I was completely useless at football, rugby etc. Anyway, I digress, back in 2003, I had just joined Steyning AC and their fun run was soon upon me. I seem to remember that I finished it 1 hour and 13 minutes and so my love of running had been re-kindled.
To be honest, for this race, I wasn’t feeling the love for the run prior to the start. Having spoken with my friend Steve from Lancing Eagles I wasn’t alone. So I went to plan B which is the one I go to when I feel this way – start at the back and pick runners off. So as the race started, I with a few others took temporarily to the pavement avoiding innocent bystanders who were watching the start.
We headed off down the High Street, before turning off into Mouse Lane (for the historians amongst you, the first house on the corner of Mouse Lane used to be a sweet shop) before we headed up and past Wiston House. This first part of the run, although slightly undulating, is the easy part as it’s on road. After sweeping past Wiston House the road becomes a track, through a farm before narrowing into a wooded section. Now we faced the first tough section – the uphill stint! Now Trundle Hill is tough but the surface there is fairly even in comparison. There are two path options you can take; the low one which is rutted with tree roots or the higher path which is smoother with tree roots.
By now in the race I was in the flow and had Neal for company. We passed Gill, Nick and Gemma on the uphill. Just after the water station at the top of the hill where you join and run along the South Downs Way for about a mile. Neal passed me. I could have let him go but my mojo had well and truly returned by now and I used Neal’s slipstream to carry me along (sorry I’ve been at the Grand Prix this weekend and I’ve got carried away here!). Sir Cass and I were now in full flow passing runner after runner. This is running at its best – in the flow and completely in the moment.
Now as we turned off the South Downs Way, I had edged slightly ahead of Neal as we faced up to the second tricky part of the course – the tight twisty path with constant tree roots before we reached the very, very, very steep downhill as we began decending (Ed -you’re landing a blooming plane!) I went right to overtake a couple of runners before realising too late that there was no way round them. I moved to the left instead and nearly took Neal out! Fortunately we missed and he was gone. Faster than a gazelle down the hill!
I was on the move again and spied another Hopper ahead of Neal who was now some distance ahead. As we entered the field off the downhill track I could see it was Lord Rutledge, he appeared to be losing power as we entered the final stages, still coming back up to speed following his post marathon lay-off. I swept past Ade (I think I took the inside line clipping the apex on the exit).
Now it was a short spurt down to the sharp turn into the cricket field and there was Sir Cass, I could see he was slowing (tyre issues I suspected). Here’s my chance, I thought, so foot down pedal to the metal or as fast as my little legs would carry me I sprinted for the line. I think a photo finish was required but impressively, myself, Sir Cass and Lord Rutledge all finished within a few seconds of one another. It brought back wonderful memories of my battle on the same course a few years back with the Rt Hon Gary Payne!
The mighty Hoppers fielded 29 fine athletes for this race, scoring a total of 113 points. Alex, Geraldine, Jo and Judith scored 10 points a piece. Will and Bernadette (running for the first time in Hopper colours) both scored 9 points. Gemma and Kerry scored 8 each and George and Gill brought in 7 a piece. Well done to everyone you ran on the night.
Anyway, back to the headline! I shall be brief about this but post race, the assembled Hoppers were enjoying the delights of Zoe’s lovely flapjack or lemon drizzle cake. Wonderful again thanks Zoe! When she and I spotted, and I kid you not, a middle aged man having a shower in the field with only his pants protecting his modesty! He then wrapped a towel round himself and whipped his pants off! At this point it was all too much for the two of us and we felt it best to turn away. Lord only knows what happened next!!
Anyway onwards and upwards to the next race; Henfield Joggers Seven Stiles race which actually has the possibility of involving absolutely no stiles this year.
Downland Dash (23.6.18) – race report by Simon Coppard
The Downland Dash Race is hosted by the Burgess Hill Runners, formed in November 1993, who just about survived the following year with an average attendance of eleven runners!
Does anyone remember their first event in the WSFRL in 1996 ‘The Batchelor’s Farm 4’ which lasted until 2007, then to became the ‘Wivelsfield Wobble’ until 2012 when it became the event we have today.
I expect some of you remember these early day races, the records (or speak to our resident statistician Roy) on the website go back to the time of the Wivelsfield Wobble where we had a runner named Louis Taub who came second in 2007 & 2008, to go on to win it in 2009 & 2010. It’s interesting to look at these results as you’ll see many names of Hoppers past and present who ran for the club, I wonder where some of them are now, even I recognise some of the names (too many to list).
I was a late starter to running and ran my first and last Wivelsfield Wobble in 2012, which Chris Bannon won for the Hedgehoppers. If I remember correctly the venue changed as we’d had a lot of rain that year and the footfall of a few hundred runners destroyed the cricket pitch or at the very least the surrounding grounds and so it was moved to its current location.
The new location in Hassocks is beautiful, possibly because the weather is always so good helps! I think it ties in lovely with the school fete creating a lovely atmosphere.
As usual we all congregated by the Hoppers flag, and it was so lovely to see you all it’s been absolutely ages since I’ve been free to run (frustratingly), and super lovely to see we have some new Hoppers in attendance. The newest amongst us was Jacob and Mike, Mike literally had a 5 minute warning he was running (courtesy of Val) originally he came to watch his Son run while enjoying a pint of beer, oh did I mention he also did a tough parkrun followed by the famous ‘Big Bevy Breakfast & chips’. Well done Val on your recruiting skills and considering the beer and heavy delicious grub came in a respectable 80th bringing home 7pts, while Jacob on his first hopper race came 189th and 3pts in the pot.
Sadly our star Stewart has a current hip injury which forced him of the race, with some of our usual runners away we was low on numbers, and despite Val’s effort we was one short for the maximum 25, none the less 24 were on the start line ready to do battle against our rival clubs.
At the start line the usual banter was floating around, and everyone in high spirits, it was so lovely to be running in a hopper vest again, my first this year!
Two Hoppers in the top 4 was pretty good, Alex was superbly strong, I went with him until I lost touch in the woods, Alex was 3rd and myself (Simon) 4th bringing home 10 pts a piece. Our top ladies Geraldine and Jo were both equally superb bringing home 9 pts a piece, both these ladies are running brilliantly and improving all the time.
Not to mention John who has more or less been running on one leg due to a current niggle, with a fantastic 9pts. Our 7 pointers came from the above mentioned George, Mike, Kerry, Gemma and Zoe. 6 pts from the super nova Dave.
The 5 pointers we’re Nick, Val, Sonia and Jan although Val would have done better if not for the fall in the woods falling heavily with a face plant, although Val’s concern was for her face, later her hand became more painful and swollen so she sadly had to miss the England game to get treatment! Val is feeling a lot better and hopefully be running again soon.
Nigel came in with 4 pts, Joe and the above mentioned Jacob brought home 3 pts. Paul R and Barry with 2 pts, Paul had a mishap in the woods, hurting his ankle and limiting his final position, but none the less did very well considering it was just over the halfway point it happened. And our fantastic, wonderful 1 pointers Paul S, Tony, Roy and Sue.
On the whole we did superbly as a club especially considering we had two injured runners during the race. The massive Hove Hornets topped the table with 126 pts, folllowed by Lewes 122, Saints and Sinners 118, Worthing Harriers 113 and Portslade Hedgehoppers 5th with 106 points (at the point of writing).
One useless piece of information which I noticed, I’ve attended every one since 2012 to the present day which considering I miss so many due to shift work is interesting.
On the note of attending races, love that if you attend all the races you get a special commemorative jersey stating the year and number of runners who have attended all events, not to mention the fabulous WWUL, you can win it purely by being a regular runner. I’ll stop waffling now and end with a very well done Hoppers, and good luck at Roundhill Romp and see you at Seven Stiles.
Arena 80 Hove Park Fun Run (10 June 2018) – race report by Zoë Cherryman
The Arena 80 Hove Park fun run has traditionally been a 2.5 lap 5K run around Hove Park, starting at the top of the “wee” (aka the wiggly path familiar to Hove Park parkrunners) and finishing uphill on the grass just above the children’s playground. This year however, to mix things up a bit, it morphed into a 3 lap run of approximately 5.8K, running clockwise. This initially confused me as whilst I was aware the distance had increased, I hadn’t picked up on the fact that we would be running the other way round the park. It was only whilst lining up at the start that I realised we were facing in the wrong direction and I was, therefore, at the back of the field!
Before I launch into this race report I thought I should mention Sir Richard Sloman’s video report of the Trundle run. If you haven’t watched it (it’s on the Hopper Facebook page) I would urge you to do so as it’s hilarious. That said, it’s a very hard act to follow. I did consider producing my own video and possibly conveying the report through the medium of modern dance (my body is my tool) but after much internal debate, and an unfortunate incident at the Brighton Fringe recently, decided to stick to the traditional written format.
Recipe for Success
28 Hoppers. Make sure they are ripe but firm to the touch.
The Hoppers can be male or female and of any age. On this occasion we had 19 men and 9 women, but the recipe works equally well with any mix. The key here is the more the merrier but a minimum of 25 is desirable.
Place the Hoppers as close to the front of the field as possible. Ensure their numbers have been pinned proudly to their Hopper vests and allow to stand briefly to receive vital race instructions. Count them down and let them go. The Hoppers should then be free to run 3 laps of Hove Park (in the wrong direction) as fast as they can.
Run in hot conditions for between 20.24 to 35.12 minutes. Allow to cool whilst re-hydrating with plenty of cold water. Once cool, enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee and plenty of cake.
The all-important results
First Male Hopper home, and 5th overall, was Alex “Victoria (should that be victorious?) Sponge” Rawlinson, with a stunning time of 20.24 and 10 precious points. He was swiftly followed by Will “Rock Cake” Russell and John “Hummingbird Cake” Harding each earning 9 points. Other point scorers for the men were George “Eccles Cake” Evans (7 points), Dennis “Gingerbread” Jenkins and Dave “Madeira Cake” Maskell (6 points each).
First Female Hopper home, as usual, was the super-swift Geraldine “Chocolate Guinness Cake” Moffat in a time of 23.31. Geraldine was 9th female overall. Only two places behind her was Jo “Blueberry Muffin” Mabbitt. A fantastic run, each bringing home 10 points. Next in was Kerry “Cupcake” Kipling with 9 points followed by Zoë “Carrot Cake” Cherryman with 8 points.
In addition we earned the maximum 25 participation points. Hurrah!
Overall on the day we finished equal 6th with 109 points but after 5 races we remain in a sturdy 4th place.
There is however a steward’s enquiry pending as Gill “Coffee and Walnut Cake” Cammack is not listed in the provisional results, so our overall total may be higher.
Special mentions must go to:
– Roy “Tiramisu” Taylor who completed his first Fun Run in over 2 years, well done Roy, it’s good to have you back. You’re an inspiration;
– Colin “Chocolate Brownie” Hannant who managed a dual role as the volunteer tail runner for Arena 80 whilst still managing to gain a participation point for the Hoppers;
– A warm welcome to newbies Nick and his lovely wife Samantha “Esterhazy Torte” Ellis (we won’t mention she was a ringer – Samantha please join us) who ran all the way together, finishing with the same time and no doubt holding hands as they crossed the line. Ahhhhh;
– Marilyn “Mille Feuille” Gray for organising the day so spectacularly and for being chief cheerleader running up and down the field to catch us at two points to cheer us on. It was much appreciated!
Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting was supplied by Cherryman Catering. Apologies for those of you that missed out – I’ve never seen the Hoppers move so quickly as when I opened the cake tin. It was like a swarm of hornets – now there’s a good name for a running club. Perhaps we could harness that speed for the next race.
See you all on 23rd June for the Downland Dash!!!!
Littlehampton Beach Run (16.5.18) – race report by Val Brockwell
Imperious hoppers storm to 6th equal finish at early season Beach Run
Now that the FA cup is won, Meghan and Harry have gone indoors, and Trump vs Kim might not happen, the glorious exploits of the Portslade Hedgehoppers can satisfy our thirst for momentous news.
In 2017 the Beach Run took place in mid-July, and was Race 8 on the WSFRL calendar. This time we had a mid-May date, and it was Race 3 on the calendar. Thanks are due to Arunners for choosing a date when a really low tide at 7.30pm provided a route almost entirely on wet sand rather than the much more tricky pebbles, prom and path.
The earliest hoppers gathered in an agitated, shivery group around the boot of a car whilst awaiting the arrival of the essential combo of Griz/numbers/safety pins/flag. Once said flag was erected in pride of place near the finish line, shoulders relaxed and numbers were affixed. There then followed much dashing to and fro across the field warming up chilly muscles, visiting of the loos, and psyching out of the opposition through the inevitable showcasing of our athleticism.
Most of the team were in fact more or less indistinguishable from the England World Cup squad (ie. ready to conquer the world), including our six keen Beach Run virgins, Geraldine, Jo, Gemma, Emre, Nick and Joe. (Apologies if I’ve missed out any other first-timers). As 7.30pm approached, a few of us competed for a fictitious cleanest-trainers award, possibly a bit prematurely since they were about to be repeatedly dunked in sea water.
Off we went with a traditional lap of the field and the annual squeeze through the inflated finish arch, before heading over the prom and on to the beach, where Roy was waiting with welcome words of encouragement for us all. I decided for reasons of health and old age to forgo my usual suicidal first mile, and instead enjoyed a bit of a chitchat with Peter and Griz as we headed eastward over the puddled sand. So much more pleasant than running on the pebbles and leaping over loads of groynes as in my first two experiences of the event.
After thousands of metres of wet sand I spotted the front runners coming back towards me, a most welcome sight since it meant that the turnaround point couldn’t be too far distant. The return journey seemed a bit easier with the wind at our backs. Towards the end I was waiting expectantly for the annual passing-of-the-Griz – and sure enough with about half a mile to go, she went cruising past me, like George Best in his prime, apparently making no effort at all. She even included a swift side-step whilst I was in her wake, as if feigning a tackle, but failed to send me flying. Off into the distance… Ah well Griz, shame you couldn’t resist the same own goal again – you’ll pay for it when the club handicap times are calculated, using this race as the form guide!!
The post-match highlight was definitely baking-queen Zoe’s boxful of delicious mocha cakes. Mine was swiftly devoured there and then, while Geraldine balanced hers on a plastic cup and sensibly ‘saved it for later’. Unfortunately I didn’t hear much of the post-race banter as I rushed off to get wet shoes off and warm clothes on.
So to the results. This year we had 29 runners (and got the max 25 participation points – hoorah!), an improvement on last year’s 22. Our 29 included those 6 newbies I’ve already mentioned – and what a fantastic addition they all were!! Geraldine and Jo both got the maximum 10 performance points for their stunning runs, and the new svelte Emre was the sixth male hopper to finish. Well done all. Our finish position of 6th= is an excellent result for a smaller club, our 114 points equalling those of two much larger clubs, Lewes AC and Saints & Sinners.
By the way, there were 15 hoppers in total who did both the 2017 and 2018 events, of whom 6 were quicker this year, and 9 were slower. Congrats to Jamie who was over 5 minutes quicker – wow! – and to Alex, our other 10-pointer, who was almost 2 minutes quicker than in 2017. To all those of us who slowed down: well tried but after all you are nearly a whole year older.
Here’s an interesting footnote for you. Some hoppers have told me that they don’t understand the scoring system used by the WSFRL. I won’t attempt an explanation here, but anyway, you may be aware that each club’s overall score for each event includes points awarded for the top ten performances from that club (these are the ones highlighted in red in the results). In 2017, we had 6 men and 4 women counting in that top ten. This year we had 2 men and 8 women.
Lewes 10k (2.4.18) – race report by Roy Taylor
OK, so what do we start with, the weather, the grim course conditions or the actual results? Absolutely no contest. For a club of our size, we produced a brilliant team performance to field 41 runners and place 4th with 115 points behind Lewes 125, Hornets 121, and Burgess Hill 118, with Saints and Sinners 111, Arena 80 and Worthing Harriers both 105, and many others behind us. The current method of scoring has only been in force for one previous year, and our best total for the whole of 2017 was 114. Five of our leading runners scored a maximum 10 points, with Stewart in 5th place putting what Val describes as his knackered knee under pressure yet again in a good cause. Alex, having started with his usual cautious attitude well down the field, worked his way through brilliantly for tenth place. My type of running, or it used to be when I was his age. Liz was our next to finish in 33rd place overall, but second among the women, and has proved a great addition to our number. Geraldine, possibly exercising a bit of caution with the London Marathon coming up, was 13th woman to finish and Jenny(H) probably the longest serving Hedgehopper among our 41 at Lewes, were our other 10 pointers. John, the Thursday evening boss, usually a nine scorer with an occasional sneak into the upper level, settled for a valuable 9 this time. Eights were scored by Rob, Judith, still recovering from what seems to be a series of injuries and Jo (Mabbitt) with an excellent first league appearance. George completed the scoring with a seven. Joe Collis and Nick Ellis were also welcome first timers in league events. Also a mention for Marian De Silver, who now lives somewhere between the top of Lancashire and the bottom of the Lake District, who we were pleased to see back in the area for Easter and among our 41 runners.
What you have just read regarding the scoring is possibly a bit misleading as actually everyone scores. At least each club’s first 25 runners do. They all contribute one point to the club’s total. The method for the rest of the score goes a bit like this. The first 10% of the male runners in each event score ten points, the next 10% score 9 and so on. The same applies to the women. The leading ten scorers, male or female, have their points (known as performance points) added to the single points gained by the clubs first twenty five runners (known as participation points). If you don’t field 25 runners your participation points relate to the numbers that you do field. Those who didn’t score at Lewes are equally important, as on some occasions last year we had less than 25 runners. Confused? I think I need a lay down after that. Newer runners I hope will appreciate this, and possibly a few of the more established!
So now we come to the conditions. I have run this course 14 times, as well as 8 on the old course, and felt that I had seen the worst that the Lewes course had to offer. Now I am not so sure. It rained throughout, soaking spectators (me) and runners alike. I’ve seen several photos and a couple of videos of the course as it was on this occasion, and spoken to several participants, and think possibly this year was the worst. Although it must have been hard work, particularly up and over the ploughed field and the swamp that followed, once it was all over I think it seemed to be generally viewed as ‘a bit of a larf’. One among the Hedgehoppers who would have been delighted with the conditions would be accomplished mud runner Sarah.
We have started pretty well. The next event is our own, the HH5 on May 13th. Clubs get an average score for their own event and since our average after one event is 115 things are looking good. Three days after our event is the Beach Run, which is quite popular amongst our runners. A good turnout here will keep the momentum going.
Referring back to the HH5 if you haven’t already been allocated a job and are free on the day, we could do with a couple more marshals. Please contact Sim, James or Roy