Newsdesk 2004

 RANELAGH HARRIERS E-NEWS # 137                  21 APRIL 2004
 Web site: www.ranelagh-harriers.com  
 *  Peter Haarer 2.31.30 and Jo Ronaldson 3.00.11 in the London Marathon
 *  Alex McKenna 2nd in Mini-Marathon 
 *  New link with St Mary's College

 If you read this on Wednesday there might be still just time to book. Price
 10, 7.30pm for 8pm. Contact Carol Barnshaw on 020 8898 9285 or
 c_barnshaw@yahoo.com. If you have booked and can't make it after all, please
 let Carol know as soon as possible. 

 GREEN BELT RELAY  Saturday May 8th and Sunday May 9th
 It's getting urgent! Two weeks to go and we're still a couple of runners
 short of four full teams. Any speed will be welcome, it's finishing the
 teams that's most important. If you'd like to join in, please let me know
 straight away.You have to be able to run at some time on both days, but you
 don't have to give up the whole weekend. Stage lengths average about 10
 miles. See the race web site www.greenbeltrelay.org.uk for more info. You can 
 find a summary of the stages at www.greenbeltrelay.org.uk/stage.htm

 It might be too late by the time you read this, but BBC2 is showing a
 programme at 9pm this evening (Wednesday 21st) about the cracking of the
 four minute mile barrier 50 years ago by Roger Bannister aided and abetted
 by the Chrises, Chataway and Brasher. 

 LONDON MARATHON  Sunday April 18th
 Weather forecasts for the big day had ranged during the previous week from
 hot and sunny through cool and calm to wet and windy. So, no prizes for
 guessing which one turned out to be accurate! Sunday dawned as miserably as
 it could and we left home in heavy rain and buffeted by strong winds. But by
 start time, conditions had relented a little. The rain had stopped, albeit
 temporarily, and the wind had dropped but it was still pretty cool as the
 32,000-odd set off on their 26 mile hike.

 Concensus from the runners in the pub later was that conditions weren't
 really too bad, though this did not meet with general assent from the
 spectators! Only those out on the course for a longer time found it hard
 going as the rain returned with vigour.

 Peter Haarer was out-and-out favourite to win the Winter Cup club marathon
 championship and was in great shape after a recent sub-70 minute half
 marathon pb. But he had his own personal marathon demons to conquer after
 struggling home in 2.42 at his only previous attempt in last year's London.
 There were no such problems this time as he looked strong and collected
 throughout and came home inside the top 100 finishers in a great 2.31.30.
 Ken Fotherby ran his usual steady race to finish in 2.53 but he was our only
 other man inside 3 hours.

 There was, however, very nearly a woman inside three hours. Jo Ronaldson ran
 brilliantly off the main start but finished a tantalising 11 seconds outside
 that elusive barrier. Might she have made it if she had been with the elite
 women? Possibly, but she'll now be qualified to find out next year. For now
 she takes the Brasher Cup club women's marathon championship.

 Behind Jo, Andy Hayward ran an impressive 3.08 only one week after
 completing the Two Oceans 56km in South Africa, with co-traveller Mike Peace
 not too far behind on 3.25. Anna McLaughlin and Jenni Kruse both cracked
 three and a half hours and altogether we had a couple of dozen featuring in
 the results.   

 Peter comments: "Delighted with my time and position - almost as good in
 relative terms as Jo!  Many thanks to the numerous supporters who braved the
 wind and rain and made such a difference". Anna echoes the sentiment: "Thank
 you to everyone who braved the conditions around the course to support us,
 it was great to suddenly hear my name shouted out! Me?  Well I finished in
 3:26, a PB by 12mins and I got my target of a sub 3:30... so I can't really

 Mike Rowland, race walking as usual, set a pw of 21 minutes to cross the
 starting line: "That was my 18th London and easily the nastiest conditions.
 I ended up with 5.35, slowest yet bar one, but not too disappointed in those
 conditions. I couldn't move my fingers afterwards, which made untying the
 loop on the top of my kit bag a little tricky!".  

 Also Sue Ashley representing SLH: 4235th in 3.28.13; and Lizzie Clifford
 representing Welwyn Garden Runners: 5214th in 3.33.52.

 As ever there was a good Ranelagh representation amongst the Richmond team
 and some excellent results. Anair Beverly 14th and Jordan Mungovan 21st led
 the way in the 15 - 17 age groups, Dan Jermy, Matt Hirschler and Ben Gateley
 were only a little over a minute apart in the boys 13 - 14 race and Victoria
 Elbourne, Emily Ball and Alex Hook were even closer together in the girls'
 event. But the star turn was definitely Alex McKenna whose very impressive
 2nd place in the girls 11 - 12 age group was I think our best-ever result in
 this event.   

 WIMBLEDON PREMIER 10km  Sunday March 28th
 1 R Alsop (Belgrave) 31.56
 13 Mick Lane 34.56 

 GEORGE HARTWELL QUARTER MARATHON  Saturday April 10th at Bournemouth
 1 M Hargreaves (Bourn) 34.06
 5 Mick Lane 37.00
 Frances Ratchford writes:
 "We have made contact with St Mary's College, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham,
 and they want to work with us as a running club.  In practical terms that
 means that we can use their gym for 25 a quarter and their sports science
 support including nutritional services, physiological testing and
 biomechanical testing (gait analysis). Long term, very hopefully, we will be
 able to use their newly built track.  It is being completed at the moment.
 To get back to the gym, all you have to do is send a passport photo, money,
 you can join for a year, 100, cheques made out to SMUC to Dean Beaver at
 the College.  Just say in your letter that you are a member of Ranelagh.
 The gym is open every day 7.30am - 9.00pm and we can use it any time unless
 notified to the contrary.   There are also circuit sessions on Mondays but I
 will check out whether we can join them. The gym has state of the art
 equipment all funded by the lottery & Sport England.  It is one of the
 centres of excellence so you may find yourself training next to Kelly Holmes
 or the England rugby team. Enjoy!"  

 Our next course for women starts on Tuesday May 4th and runs until June
 22nd, every Tuesday at 7pm from the club house. Frances Ratchford writes:
 "It is for anyone who wants to improve fitness or just simply learn to run".
 If you or someone you know is interested in taking part contact Frances at

 DEVIZES TO WESTMINSTER CANOE RACE  Saturday 10th April - Sunday 11th April
 Bridget Cuthbert reports on her and Milos Dusek's watery Easter:
 "The journey with a difference.....

 Pick a mate, train till late, and then do the time on the waterline!!!
 Oh yes, it seems simple, just follow the schedule and be there on race day
 and all should go your way...or not.

 On Saturday we started our epic journey on the Avon and Kennet canal at
 Devizes. With just 125 miles to paddle, it is hard to comprehend and even
 harder to complete.  We were excited, but also impatient to get on the river
 that morning, but at 11.30 am the first stroke over the line meant no
 turning back.  Within a few miles, we were settled into a conservative pace
 and experienced our first swan chase. When a swan gracefully glided past us,
 perfectly posed, we took no notice, but within seconds this bird charged the
 boat from behind.  The tell-tale signs were the hissing sounds and wings
 flapping on the water surface. Having been mock-charged by an elephant in my
 lifetime, these feathered creatures have a scare factor of their own!!

 We had divided the race into 5 sections, the first, Devizes to
 Newbury...portage perfection zone, well, Milos persisted in trying to
 educate me on good portage skills.  Being so nervous, I made many mistakes,
 which Milos never missed! I swear he has eyes at the back of his head, as he
 never missed my lazy exits from the boat.

 By 7pm, Newbury was a memory and our next goal was Reading. A beautiful
 afternoon on the canal and despite the now evident uncomfortable feeling in
 the arms and backside, we persevered to each feeding station, where our
 support team endeavoured to keep our bellies full and our energy levels up
 with all sorts of treats.  

 Reading was a huge milestone, and paddling through the waterfront at 11pm at
 night gave us a good view of what most normal people were up to that night.
 Girls dressed to the nines and guys staggering around.  They were totally
 unaware of us canoeists, silently passing by, wearing head torches and
 showing flickering lights on the deck of our boats.

 Joining the River Thames at Dreadnought Reach was such a sense of
 achievement.  By this time, we were looking forward to little pleasures,
 like dry clothes and a solid meal of pasta and sauce. In the dark we fumbled
 with new clothes, surrounded by supporters who perhaps thought...they look
 touch and go.....I even thought it myself...I was knackered and had a long
 way to go.

 The advice given by Neville, who won the Vets race with his brother Graham,
 kept rolling in my head...'FOCUS ON THE TASK AT HAND'...so that was it, the
 next goal was Marlow. We just had to make it to Marlow.

 Milos took the front row seat for the night show, and a show it was!! The
 half moon glowed golden yellow and popped out behind the trees at unexpected
 moments.  The stars came out to play, as did the late-night birds and bats.
 A good distraction during moments of tiredness was singing a quirky song and
 although our conversation had been minimal in the early stages, we talked
 our way through the night and into the early morning light.

 The morning light dancing on the water was almost mesmerising as we
 approached Hampton Bridge. It helped being in familiar territory and having
 the support of our friends and family who shouted out to us from the river
 bank.  By now, the tendinitis was unbearable and the paddling technique was
 adjusted to where there was least pain with maximum pull. Getting to
 Teddington was overwhelming and the finish to others seemed reachable, but I
 was not convinced that I could hold on longer.  Rationalising with a tired
 Bridget was a huge task for Milos, who had to constantly remind me that we
 were going to make it!  

 Never before have I been so emotional and between paddling strokes and
 grunts of pain, the tears flowed.  The supporters at the Richmond Canoe Club
 pontoon egged us on and although we had the flow of the tide to help us, the
 bank seemed to go past so slowly and Westminster in my mind was so far away.

 Milos showed real strength and determination and paddled with purpose, while
 I had moments of weakness and tears at what seemed like to me forever. At
 Putney, dare I admit it, the wheels came off and we pulled up alongside our
 seconds and I sobbed.  It was just so painful and I knew I could not give
 up.  I felt damned if I did and damned if I didn't.  Milos, Richard and
 Claudia shoved jelly babies in my mouth in between sobs and lowered me back
 in the boat.  Probably the best thing to do, as I would probably not have
 made it back in by myself.

 The Thames seemed so wide and we were so small! The waves created by the
 tide and other boats provided us with focus, as a swim at this late stage
 would have been too energy sapping.  Westminster Bridge seemed to always
 hide behind the next corner, but our turn finally came: the moment when the
 crowds along the river cheer, the horn blows and you know you have reached
 the end of one very long, physical, emotional and tough challenge.

 Medal in hand and Milos propping me up as we ascended the stairs is a moment
 to remember. Seeing our support and friends at the top of the stairs and
 knowing that we would not have done it without them was a humbling time and
 one of sincere appreciation of their commitment to us. 

 Will we do it again? Ask me that question when my selective memory filter
 has kicked in and I have forgotten those painful moments. There are many
 crews out there tougher, faster and more experienced than us, but as first
 timers I think we can be proud enough knowing that we dared to try it". 

 The 2003/04 fixture list, together with details of the 2004 Ranelagh Road
 Grand Prix, can be found on our web site.

 More details of the following from Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 /
 mailto:andy@norris-hobs.co.uk ) or Anna McLaughlin (mailto:anna.mclaughlin@itv.com )
  Thursday April 29th                  Summer Junior Handicap Series 2km race
 1.  7pm at the Hawker Centre, Kingston. All under 17s welcome.

 Sunday May 2nd                     Sutton 10km.  Ranelagh Road GP race 3 and
 Surrey Road League race 1. 11am start. Entry form at

 Saturday May 8th / Sunday May 9th       Green Belt Relay. See above

 Sunday May 16th                    Richmond Half Marathon. Ranelagh Road GP
 race 4 and Surrey Half Marathon Championship. Our Half Marathon is on a
 different course this year, starting where our Dysart Dash 10km starts, in
 Meadlands Drive. See our web site for details. 

 Mike Peace and John Hanscomb, our two London Marathon ever-presents - two of
 a dwindling band now numbering less than 30 - both recorded their slowest
 ever time. It doesn't get any easier...

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