Newsdesk 2003

 Web site: www.ranelagh-harriers.com 

 123rd SEASON OPENING RUN and THOMAS CUP HANDICAP  Saturday September 6th in
 Richmond Park
 This feels like those "Back to School" signs that the shops like to torment
 the kids with the moment they are released for their summer holidays.
 Heatwaves or not, our 123rd winter season is almost upon us and it starts in
 the traditional manner with the Thomas Cup handicap on Saturday September
 6th. It's over the usual 6km / 3.8 miles course in Richmond Park, starting
 at about 3pm but preceded by the organised chaos that is the annual club
 photograph. All members, young and old, fast and slow are welcome to get
 their faces in the photo and/or race numbers on their vests (but see
 below!). Be at the clubhouse by 2.30pm. A reminder for infrequent visitors:
 Robin Hood Gate into the Park is now closed to traffic.

 Robin Drummond writes:
 "102 Ranelaghs have so far omitted to pay subs for 2003 - 04 and are
 therefore not eligible to run the Thomas Cup. Their fixture cards are being
 delayed so that we can include another reminder. Please, please can they
 forward cheques, payable to Ranelagh Harriers, asap to:
 The Studio, 1 Church Street, Hampton, Middlesex. TW12 2EB.
 Full members 30     Students/under 20's  6    Country/social  10"

 SOUTH DOWNS WAY RELAY   Saturday August 16th
 Only two teams decided to have a crack at this event, first devised by Chris
 Brasher thirty years ago. This was a little disappointing and maybe next
 year we'll find a few more adventurous types willing to give it a go.
 First away at 8.45 on a blessedly fairly cool morning was the Three Esses
 women's team of Sarah Seal, Sue Ashley and Sonia Rowland. Sonia was a
 veteran of the record-holding women's team from 1992 when she, Sue Colver
 and Anne Heeringa recorded 9.23.45. The 2003 vintage had no serious designs
 on the record but ran consistently well throughout a long day and barely put
 a foot off course. Temperatures and headwinds rose as the day wore on,
 accompanied by the occasional shower, but by the time they reached the
 spectacular final few miles along the Seven Sisters the wind had more than a
 bite to it. The trio ran the final couple of miles together to reach the
 trig point on Beachy Head 10 hours 38 minutes and 16 seconds after leaving
 Sunwood Farm near Petersfield 70+ miles to the west.  
 The men's team of Andy Bickerstaff, Mick Lane and Will Storey gave the Esses
 an hour's lead and made a flying start, reportedly cutting back a quarter of
 that lead within the first hour. They too had no thoughts of the overall
 record which stands at a mightily impressive 7.08.33 by Dave Wright, Mike
 Riley and Geoff Jones back in 1985, but had hopes of joining the select
 half-dozen teams boasting times inside 8 hours. A few changes to the route
 in the last ten years - mainly safety-inspired - have probably made that a
 slightly more difficult task.
 Unfortunately they were unable to capitalise on that excellent start.
 Route-finding errors began to creep in, Will had to rescue a cow and then
 had trouble with his knee, though the two events are not believed to be
 connected. The upshot was that by 6.30pm the lure of the pub proved too
 strong and they called it a day some ten miles or so short of the finish. 
 We must give an honourable mention too to John Herries who rode the first 50
 or so miles of the route on his bike! 

 Confirmed results from Wimbledon now show that we won the men's League title
 outright, one point ahead of Guildford and Godalming. The women finished as
 runners-up to Stragglers, two points in arrears.
 Our teams at Wimbledon - Paul, Marcus and Mick for the men and Sarah, Sara
 and Clare for the women - are both confirmed as gold medal winners, but by
 the smallest of margins - a single point ahead of Belgrave and SLH
 respectively. Paul takes an individual bronze and Sarah a silver.

 TWO BRIDGES 35.34 MILES   Saturday August 23rd
 Andy Hayward reports:
 "Saturday in Edinburgh dawned bright and sunny with clear blue skies.
 Obviously it was going to be a very hot day. Good for the spectators, but
 with the prospect of over 35 miles to cover in the full heat of the day
 (10:00am start) not the best of weather as far as most of the runners were
 concerned. The race was started in Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, by Ken
 Shaw, who completed 28 Two Bridges races or 1,000 miles of Two Bridges (the
 race was originally 36 miles). This event was started 36 years ago to
 commemorate the training run of Phil Hampton, who was based at the Naval
 Yard in Rosyth, who hadn't realised how far it was! The course is rolling
 but no major hills in the first 22 miles. It follows the road west along
 some fairly scenic parts of the Firth of Forth (if you ignore the power
 station and oil refinery over the other side) and some nice villages to
 Kincardine Bridge, which is then crossed. This has a dangerous psychological
 effect of making you think that you must be half way, although in fact you
 are only at the 11 mile point. The course then heads back through a mixture
 of small towns and the aforementioned chemical factories and oil refinery to
 the 22 mile point where the hills start. The first hill is the worst hill,
 i.e. both longest and steepest, but they all start to feel pretty big
 by this stage on a hot day. Once you get to 25 miles you climb up to what
 the race web site describes as "an inspirational view of the Forth Bridges",
 but then you realise that you still have ten miles to go, and you don't feel
 quite so inspired any more. The marathon point is called out to you (as are
 all the five mile splits) in a fairly rural area, marked only by a blue line
 and a couple of friendly characters armed with a stopwatch and clipboard,
 and then the mind games begin (only 3.8 miles to the 30 mile mark, then only
 the equivalent of a short run in the park after that, then a shower followed
 by loads of beer! etc.). The Forth Road Bridge looks flat in side elevation,
 but looks like a mountain when you have to climb it at 32 miles. However,
 after that, it is not too bad, with one cruel hill at 35 miles, before the
 blessed relief of the finish at the Civil Service Club in Rosyth.
 I finished just after 2:30pm in 4hours 35 mins. I went through the marathon
 point in 3 hours 21 mins. I was a little disappointed that I was 16 minutes
 down on my time of two years ago when I finished in 4:19. I knew I was not
 as fit as I was two years ago, but I thought that would be countered by the
 fact that then I had run the Reykjavik marathon seven days beforehand.
 However, I was also pleased just to get round as I had pulled a hamstring
 five days earlier, and at three miles thought I would have to record my
 first ever DNF.
 The evening is rounded off (as it is after the Dartmoor Discovery 32 mile
 race) with a great disco fuelled by cheap beer. Everyone dances the night
 away, with the runners knowing that when they wake up they will have sore
 heads and not be able to move their legs!"
 1 B Cole (Royal M) 3.39.48
 Andy Hayward 4.35 

 MABAC 10km PAARLAUF Sunday August 17th at Leatherhead
 Steve Rowland and Alan Davidson finished 9th in 37.30. 

 RIVER RELAY  Sunday September 14th
 Clare Nicholson writes:
 "The day after the Surrey Road Relays is the Stragglers + Staines Strollers
 organised "River Relay". I wonder whether any of you fancied a run along the
 Thames on the Sunday morning.  It's a totally relaxed event.  Nothing
 serious about it at all, so you can 'race', 'run' or 'jog', whatever you
 prefer ...
 Teams are mixed (must have at least two vets and one woman) are comprised of
 6 runners on a mixture of legs from 3.5 to 9 miles (the majority being the
 shorter of those).  The event starts in Virginia Water and finishes at the
 Hawker Centre in Ham.
 You won't hear me say this often, but I can honestly - hand on heart - say
 this one is FLAT.  It must be, you follow the Thames!!!!
 Anyone fancy this?  Contact Paul or me (details below)." 

 September 20th / 21st      
 Another river relay! Chris Brasher was a member of both Ranelagh and Thames
 and they have invited us to join them in their commemorative event, which is
 a non-competitive relay along the River Thames. The start will be at the
 source near Lechlade and the finish at Petersham meadows which Chris fought
 so hard to preserve. 
 Thames's schedule allows for all standards - their 24 stages include
 everything from 10 miles at 6 minute miling to 3.5 miles at 12 minute
 miling. They plan an overnight stop at Henley with a supper there and beds
 at local B&Bs for those who want to stay. No doubt runners can just come,
 run a stage and go if they wish, or indeed non-runners could turn up for the
 We don't yet have a team organiser at our end but in the meantime e-mail me
 if you're interested in taking part. 
 This year's London to Brighton running race is scheduled to take place on
 the morning of Sunday 5th October but the organisers are desperately short
 of marshalls for some sections of the course, especially around the Reigate
 area. A decision needs to be taken imminently as to whether the race can go
 ahead or will have to be cancelled. If you can help please contact Andy
 Hayward: work no: 0207 621 3111; home no: 0208 942 6668; e-mail

 Lizzie Clifford writes:
 "Baby Clifford number 3 - a boy called Toby - arrived six weeks early
 weighing 6lb 2oz. I hope to see you all again soon". Congratulations Lizzie!
 Sue and Alastair Sinclair are expecting their first child next year. More

 Mike Hubbert comments from Melbourne on our weather travails:
 "I ran in that Sutton Coldfield English National in 1972. It started off
 just cold but halfway round the 12km a blizzard blew in. One offical died
 and some runners around me who were only wearing string vests started crying
 as we ran up the finish chute. I was O.K. - I had a windcheater on.
 To put your heat in context, we run regular Park and Street orienteering
 four days a week during the summer starting at 7pm. Courses are up to 10km.
 At one particular event on February 4th this year the temperature was still
 42 deg C when we started at 7pm (that's 107.6 deg F).
 At the other end of the scale, we regularly get 100 turning up in mid-winter
 for 7pm start Night events. They clearly haven't got homes to go to." 

 The fixture list for the 2003/04 winter season is now up on our web site. 

 More details of the following from Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 /
 mailto:andy@norris-hobs.co.uk ) or Paul Graham (mailto:paulgraham28@hotmail.com )
 or Clare Nicholson (07710 348030 / mailto:clarenicholson@hotmail.com ).  

 Saturday September 6th       Thomas Cup Opening Run handicap  3.8 miles in
 Richmond Park preceded by the annual club photograph at 2.45pm. 

 Saturday September 13th      Surrey Road Relay Championships (men & women,
 including vets categories) at Wimbledon Park from 12 noon. 

 Sunday September 14th        River Relay  Virginia Water to Ham  

 Saturday / Sunday September 20th / 21st    Thames Hare & Hounds Brasher
 relay - see above. 

 Saturday September 27th      Men's Southern 6-stage relay at Aldershot
 (including M40, M50 and M60 categories) from 12.30pm.

 Sunday September 28th        Women's Southern 4-stage relay at Aldershot at

 Saturday October 4th        Page Cup 5 miles handicap in Richmond Park at

 Saturday October 11th          Surrey Veterans Cross-Country championships
 in Richmond Park. Women 6km at 2.30pm, men 10km at 3pm.
 Saturday October 18th        Surrey Cross-Country League Div 1 in Richmond
 Park (Kingston Gate). Women from 12.30pm, men from 2.30pm. 

 Sunday October 19th        Cabbage Patch 10 miles road race at
 Twickenham. Likely to be popular so get your entries in early to avoid
 disappointment.  See www.cabbagepatch10.com  
        Also today, the Founders' Challenge 26 miles
 "go as you please" from Peaslake. Details from www.ldwa.org.uk or from Peter 

 Having actually visited Qatar (probably more than can be said for certain
 ex-Kenyans) I'd like to offer my services to their athletics team at the
 bargain price of only $500 per month... 

 Steve Rowland
 e-mail: srowland@calor.co.uk
 Tel: 01926 318734
 Fax: 0870 4006901