Newsdesk 2004

 Editor: Steve Rowland
 mailto: steverowland@ranelagh-harriers.com
 *  35.32 10km personal best for Allison O'Neill, and 31.22 for David Benton
 *  Junior Captains appointed
 *  Clubhouse building work complete

 A provisional fixture list for the 2004/05 winter season, can be found on our
 web site.    More details of the following from
 Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 / mailto: andy@norris-hobs.co.uk ) or 
 Phil Aiken (07739 035189 / mailto: phil.aiken@rnid.org.uk ) or 
 Anna McLaughlin (07971 606521 / mailto: anna.mclaughlin@itv.com ).

 Saturday September 11th        Surrey Road Relay championships at Wimbledon
 Park. There are separate senior and veterans events for both men and women,
 starting at 12 noon. Each stage is 3 miles. We have quite a few teams
 entered but there may still be some vacancies - contact one of the captains
 if you're interested.

 Sunday September 12th          River Relay  Virginia Water to Ham. There are
 six stages varying in distance between 3.8 miles and 7.5 miles, and each
 team must include at least two veterans and one woman. Again, contact a
 captain if you're interested.

 Saturday September 18th        124th Season Opening Run and Thomas Cup 3.8
 miles handicap at 3pm , preceded at 2.30pm by the annual club photograph.
 All members welcome - just turn up and enter on the day in the clubhouse.
 See our web site for more details about the race including the history of
 the Thomas Cup itself, and see below for details of the evening's party.

 Saturday September 25th        Men's Southern 6 stage relay (also 4 stage
 relay for veterans) at Rushmoor Arena, Aldershot. 12.30pm start. 

 Sunday September 26th          Women's Southern 4 stage relay at Rushmoor
 Arena, Aldershot. 3.30pm start.

 Saturday October 2nd             Page Cup 5 miles handicap in Richmond Park.
 All members welcome - enter on the day in the clubhouse. 3pm start. 

 SOCIAL - OPENING RUN PARTY  Saturday 18th September
 This is being generously hosted by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, and all members and
 friends are welcome to attend. Joint Social Sec Marina Quayle writes:
 "It will begin at 7pm and we are asking people to bring food and wine. We
 hope it will be fine so that we can enjoy the garden and we hope to have a
 big turnout. The address is 13 Holmes Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham and
 people should contact either Jo Turner or myself on our mobiles should they
 have any queries. Jo's number is 07976 055856 and mine 07951 292379". 

 Second Joint Social Sec Jo Turner adds:
 "The Ranelagh Christmas party will be on Friday 10th December at the Turks
 Head pub in St. Margarets, 7.30 onwards. We're still deciding whether to
 have a buffet or sit-down meal so suggestions would be welcome. But put the
 date in your diaries!" 

 Congratulations to Anair Beverly and Dan Jermy, who have been appointed
 Junior Captains for the 2004/05 season. 

 The work in the men's and women's showers has been completed and very smart
 it looks too. Thanks go to Alan Craig for his efforts in getting this

 Entries have to be in by October. See www.london-marathon.co.uk for details.
 We've just heard of one more Ranelagh finisher in the 2004 event - Jacqui
 Reid, 15,219th in 4.16.37.

 CARDIFF 10Km  Sunday 5th September
 Allison O'Neill reports:
 "After our August training camp - sorry, holiday! - in the South of France,
 David and I headed to Cardiff to see how we were going over 10k and returned
 pretty much satisfied.  On a hot day in a hot men's field, David finished
 21st and equalled his season's best from Eastleigh of 31:22 - very
 encouraging for his Sept 26th GB duathlon debut at the European Champs in

 In the women's race, after a hard summer's training (and 3 lbs lighter!) I
 ran my fifth 10k PB of 2004 with 35:32 in 6th place.  For me "it was a race
 of two halves":  the first 5k in full sun left me languishing in 10th; the
 shadier second half through the park put a real spring in my step. I picked
 off one girl at 6k, another at 7k, Thames runner Alison Outram at 7.5k, a
 girl from the North of England at 8.5k, and then set off in pursuit of the
 5th placed woman - who turned out to be an unfit Louise Damen!  I didn't
 catch her but had good fun trying.  The first 3 women were Kenyans, so the
 "UK race" was won by Andrea Green, with Louise 2nd and me third. So lots of
 positives for the upcoming XC season".

 1 E Kimeli (Kenya) 28.32
 21 David Benton 31.22
 56 Allison O'Neill 35.32

 FLORA LIGHT CHALLENGE 5Km  Sunday 5th September in Hyde Park
 There may have been more RH competing, but only the top 100 were officially
 1 S O'Sullivan (Ireland) 15.06
 43 Anna McLaughlin 20.01
 90 Clare Gutch 22.50

 JOG SHOP JOG  Sunday 29th August at Brighton
 Neil Walford reports:
 "The Jog Shop Jog website describes it as 'a foot race a shade over 20 miles
 and covering the paths and tracks of the South Downs' which sounds a jolly
 pleasant way to spend a bank holiday Sunday. However, if you read the small
 print/ course description it all gets a bit more sinister. The hills are
 large enough to have their own names such as ''The Big W', 'The North Face'
 and 'The Snake', with the only decent piece of flat being named 'Death

 Still, that didn't deter our 'famous five' intrepid heroes and following two
 months of e-mail phoney-war between Cap'n Birdseye and myself, our predicted
 finishing times fell from 3 hours (for 20 miles) to mere minutes. Final
 spice was added in the form of a healthy spread bet wager on the differences
 between our finish times, and all was set for the charge of the rather heavy
 brigade - 'hill to the left of them, hill to the right of them, death valley
 below them, jogged the five Ranelagh brave souls'

 The first 5 miles were relatively flat along the sea front and Andy did his
 'death or glory' charge into 3rd place (anyone care to guess which it turned
 out to be? Clue: it wasn't glory). However the hills started at 5 miles and
 rather took their toll; with one outbreak of vomiting and four outbreaks of
 walking from our troops. A particularly steep downhill descent, made
 slippery underfoot by morning dew, with long grass disguising rabbit holes
 and a sudden halt by a barbed wire fence, tested the brakes and  the
 nerves - no prizes for guessing how 'The Big W' gets its name.

 Support was provided on course by Clive ''Good to be back, Good to be back,
 Hello'' Beauvais, who instead of just handing us the Gels and drinks seemed
 determined to play a game of tag whereby either we had to chase him or he
 charged after us - at one stage Cap'n Birdseye was just too quick for him
 and Clive trailed him shouting words of encouragement: 'Do you want this
 effin gel or what?'

 The water station was manned or rather 'peopled' or rather 'mammaled', by
 Amanda and Jim the Dog, However Amanda's usual 'It's only for fun, no need
 to take life seriously, so long as we all try our best' attitude (NOT!)
 resulted in her re-engineering the water replenishment facility, 'releasing'
 several members of the water station team for failure to hit their
 operational targets (12 cups per minute to be handed out with maximum 3% net
 fluid spillage permitted) and giving Race Referee Graham Ashdown a 'Final
 Written Warning' for attempting to comment on HER sphere of operations vis a
 vis the water beaker placement scenario.

 Back in the (wacky) races, our heroes struggled home, the last 2 miles along
 the cliffs into the wind ruining any hopes of a good time literally and
 chronologically), although Andy and I won tee shirts for top 20 finishes and
 Sue Ashley running for SLH was first woman. Icing on the cake was provided
 by us winning the team prize - for 'the team with the worst hair', a new
 prize introduced this year (nothing to do with me buying the organizer a
 pint beforehand, well actually...) and for which Andy took all the plaudits,
 as well as the conditioner and gel which constituted the prize. 

 The day was rounded off with a fine display of Greco-Roman pint-wrestling
 between Kevin Harrision and the bar manager at the pub - with numerous beers
 taken up and down the stairs, swapped, re-placed, re-poured, refunded,
 regurgitated and probably reincarnated for all I know, in a dispute over
 whether a beer was one brand or another (Kevin doesn't get out often these
 days). As for the spread bet, well shall we say that I didn't have to buy
 much beer myself that day, and Cap'n Birdseye enhanced his 'mug punter'
 credentials losing another bet to Kevin on the Olympic men's marathon time. 

 A good day, a great race, maybe even the odd swift half - why not try it
 next year?"

 1 J Baker (Chichester) 2.13.05
 13 Andy Bickerstaff 2.31.32
 16 Neil Walford 2.33.05
 39 Andy Hayward 2.49.20
 54 Sue Ashley (SLH) 2.54.55
 146 Louise Piears 3.31.00
 147 Simon Burrell 3.31.25

 RON WHEELER HANDICAP  2.75 miles  Wednesday 25th August at Wapping
 Speed order:
 1 M Cates (Eton Manor) 12.57
 7 Chris Read 15.32
 9 Alan Davidson 15.47
 12 Andy Hayward 16.25

 SERPENTINE LAST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH 5Km  Friday 27th August in Hyde Park
 1 D Gitau (Nth Yk Moors) 15.06
 38 Alice Beverly 18.39
 73 Alan Davidson 19.52
 120 Pete Warren 21.25
 169 Wally Garrod 25.13
 183 John Hanscomb 26.34

 COURSE DES FALAISES 28km  Sunday 29th August  Veules les Roses - Dieppe
 Tim Woods was 14th overall and second veteran in a field of some 700.
 1 P Bidaux (France) 1.34.20
 14 Tim Woods 1.48.32

 KINGSFIELD CANTER HANDICAP 2.9 miles  Wednesday 1st September at Woking
 1 M Russell (Tunb Wells) 24.48 (actual time 20.03)
 14 Sonia Rowland 26.39 (20.39)
 22 Alan Davidson 27.04 (18.19)

 OVERTON 5 miles  Saturday 4th September
 1 P Tulba (Basingstoke) 25.07
 38 Mick Lane 29.08

 Athens resident Gordon Whitson gives his view of the Games:
 "I can say that I experienced the highs and the lows of the athletics first

 The first low had to be arriving in the 1896 Olympic stadium on the evening
 of the ladies' marathon in time to see Paula Radcliffe drop out at the 36km
 point. While we must all sympathise with Paula, I really must question the
 wisdom of her decision to run and the tactics she employed in the race. The
 maximum forecast temperature for the day of the race was 38 degrees. The
 temperature was forecast to drop in the following days to 32 degrees and
 rise steadily to 35 degrees on Friday, the day of the 10k. I did not run at
 all on Sunday, the day of the race, deciding it was simply too hot. It takes
 a lot to stop me and I have had 13 years to acclimatise.
 The race started at 18:00. When we left the house at 18:50 to go to watch
 the finish in the stadium it was still 33 degrees. The sun was still hot
 until well after 19:30. I do not believe it is wise for any British born and
 raised athlete to run a marathon in these conditions, far less the Classic
 course which is man killer, even under good conditions. I understand from
 his coach that Radcliffe had asked the advice of the Greek no. 1, Nicos
 Polias and that he had sent her an e-mail advising her to take things easy
 early on. She seems to have ignored this advice. So firstly, her game plan
 should have definitely had a go/no go decision point for running in the
 marathon triggered by the temperature. It seems it did not. Then having
 decided to run, she would seem to have adopted tactics that were suited
 neither to the course nor the conditions. Looking at the 10k on Friday,
 which was run at 22:00 at the end of a significantly cooler day than the day
 of the marathon. I felt that had she been in any condition to run, which
 clearly she was not, she must have had a good chance of a medal or even of
 winning. What a waste of talent and hard work!
 Suffice it to add that the men's marathon run the following Sunday was
 blessed by temperatures 5 or 6 degrees cooler and a dry northerly breeze
 which blew the winner to a new course record. I was at the 31km mark with
 Nicos Polias's coach, who reckoned that the Brazilian, who was at that point
 40 secs clear (I timed it!) would win the race. The Irish contingent had
 other ideas, however! Incidentally, Nicos despite severe stomach problems at
 17k, broke the Greek course record in finishing 24th in just under 2hrs

 The other low point for me was the behaviour of the crowd on the Thursday
 evening before the start of the men's 200m final. Encouraged by inflammatory
 televised statements from various Greek athletes (Fani Halkia etc) and
 conspiracy theories circulating in the non-state television media (who were
 not showing the games and were therefore desperate to boost their ratings),
 the crowd behaved badly. I sat quiet for about five minutes before standing
 up (much to the embarrassment of the family) and explaining to anybody
 within earshot precisely what I felt about the booing. I did not make many
 friends in the process.

 This was an exception to the otherwise amazing hospitality and generosity
 that the Greek public, the volunteers and the organisers showed throughout
 the games. The facilities were excellent (I saw three hockey games, the
 cycling road race and wandered around various sites), the transport
 facilities highly efficient, the city was both spotlessly clean and buzzing
 with a vibrancy that I have never previously experienced.  Members of the
 family were at and transfixed by the opening and closing ceremonies and were
 sufficiently enthusiastic to go and watch the dressage event in addition to
 more viewer-friendly events like gymnastics and football.

 The high point? It has to be the last Saturday night of the athletics.
 Having seen her win the 800m and qualify at a canter for the final of the
 1500m, I was pretty sure that not much short of a fall would prevent Holmes
 winning the final. However, the 4 x 100 relay was a complete surprise! As a
 veteran observer of so many British relay disasters, I knew what to expect!
 Standing at the 1500m start point, I was therefore left mouth agape by the
 quality of the change from Gardener to Campbell. The second change was just
 as good. I could not see the third but was carried away as 65,000 Greeks and
 non-Americans cheered on the British or the Nigerians or anybody else for
 that matter to beat the over-confident US team. Getting to sing the National
 Anthem twice in one evening on the last day of the Olympics track and field
 is about as rare an experience as you can hope for. Even my wife was
 claiming honorary British status for the evening!"

 The winner of the Jog Shop Jog on the South Downs had to stop repeatedly en
 route - because the lead cyclist couldn't keep up....