Newsdesk 2001

 Web site: http://www.surreyweb.net/rharriers
 The opening Surrey League cross-country races take place this Saturday - the
 men at Brockwell Park, Brixton (under 17s at 2.30pm, seniors at 3pm) and the
 women on Wimbledon Common (under 13s & under 15s at 12 noon, under 17s and
 under 20s at 12.30pm and seniors at 1pm). Contact Andy Bickerstaff for more
 details of the men's race, and for the women Sarah Seal writes: "Maps for
 the XC race this Saturday will be at the clubhouse from Tuesday night, if
 anyone wants a map sent to their home address, or if you need a lift, please
 let me know asap".

 "Orion at home is one we really ought to win," I wrote last week.
 Unfortunately Orion didn't read the script. Or perhaps they did? Either way,
 they brought a stronger team across from Epping than for several years,
 outnumbered us by 51 to 50 on the start line and consistently outscored us
 in the race. We may have had the edge at the front of the field but from
 about 20th place onwards the white vests packed in far too effectively.
 Peter Haarer registered a very comfortable individual win and in 2nd place
 Mick Lane upset the form book by taking the Hastings Cup club veterans
 championship ahead of favourite Marcus Gohar. Top over 50, and winner of the
 McDowell Cup, was Mike Peace, while the over 60s' Maslin Mug turned into a
 ding-dong battle between Allan Lang and Pete Warren with Allan prevailing
 only in the finishing straight. The vets' handicap was a Rowland benefit,
 Sonia taking gold and Steve silver.

 Chris Spink completed the 55 miles London to Brighton race on Sunday despite
 facing high winds and driving rain for most of the second half of the race.
 Runners could barely stay upright as they crested Ditchling Beacon and at
 Brighton the finish gantry and the officials' tent were both blown down.
 Even the Ukrainian winner could manage no better than 6 hours 47 and only 79
 of the 139 starters made it to Brighton. Chris writes:
 "I finished in 9h 58mins, two minutes inside the cut-off so I will get a
 medal and certificate. I had hoped I'd get 8h30 or similar but blame the
 weather and the fact I'd not done more than 33 in training!"

 Allison O'Neill writes from Barcelona on David Benton's triathlon debut:
 "Last Saturday, David completed his first-ever triathlon at the 'Triathlon
 de Barcelona' - Olympic distance, 300 competitors and no equivalent of the
 Fun Run joggers at the back (I guess there's too much expensive equipment
 required). Overall David's performance was encouraging, finishing 75th in
 2hrs 11 (which we're reliably informed is "very good"). Actually, looking
 more closely, what it really amounted to was a struggle to 202nd in the
 1500m swim, some limited progress to 162nd in the 40km bike, and then proof
 that he's actually a runner not a triathlete with a 32.27 10km taking him
 past almost 90 people for 75th place!  There's clearly untapped potential
 here - but only if he can face a winter of painful swimming training with
 some 'proper' triathletes in Barcelona. As you can tell from the following
 account, he's not quite decided on that one...
 David writes: "So, we're all lined up, about 20m from the edge of the water,
 the highest concentration of Speedos in Europe. The women have had a head
 start and we're all raring to catch them. A hooter sounds, and 299 muscular
 triathletes and one skinny bloke go sprinting into the waves.
 Have you ever seen the opening scene of 'Saving Private Ryan'? That's
 exactly how it was, but without the machine gun fire. When your eyes are
 below water, all you see is 2 metres of murky water and half a dozen limbs
 flailing around the end of your nose. Coming up for air, it's either a
 chaotic mass of frothy water, hundreds of arms and yellow swim caps, or the
 next wave about to smack you in the face. We're all heading for a buoy,
 about 300m off shore, although navigation is pretty irrelevant. I can't do
 anything about the direction I'm heading in. I'm just trying to survive,
 ignoring the kicks and punches, and trying to breathe where possible.
 Perhaps it was a mistake to stand in my usual position at the start of the
 race - to one side at the back would have been much more sensible than in
 the middle at the front! It's difficult to relate this event to the start of
 a running race. Imagine perhaps the National, except a bit more crowded. Add
 to this the requirement that all the runners are only allowed to look up
 briefly every 3rd stride to see where they were going. And if you stop you
 will be trodden into the mud! There's really no dropping out.
 How are you supposed to train for this? I had done a few sea swims (the
 beach being a mere 100m from our front door) so was used to the water. I'd
 also done some sessions in a nice calm lake - on my own, with a wet suit on!
 The reality is difficult to simulate. Perhaps when I'm next in London, I
 should swim in Pen Ponds, with a few Ranelagh delinquents throwing rocks at

 Peter Saw writes:
 "In the last Road Runners Club newsletter Hilary Walker (world record
 holder) highlighted the advantages of long distance rambling for the
 endurance athlete. The benefits of long walks have been well known since
 Victorian times. Hilary drew attention to the LDWA as promoters of suitable
 events. The only one in the south in the next month takes place on Sunday 21
 October  organised by the London Group of the LDWA with contribution from
 Ranelagh members. The event headquarters is Peaslake Memorial Hall with the
 challenge being to cover twenty-six miles on the Surrey Hills footpaths in
 nine and a half hours from the start at 9:00 a.m. (or eight if you start
 with the runners at 10:30 a.m.) following the route description provided.
 The three checkpoints will provide food and drink and a light meal (probably
 beans on toast followed by fruit salad and ice cream) all included in the
 entry fee of 5.00 (with discounts if you enter before the day or are an
 LDWA member). Further information and an entry form are available on the
 LDWA web site (www.ldwa.org.uk) or direct from the organiser, Bill Thompson,
 86 Lynton Road, London, W3 9HW (020 8992 0991). Entry forms are also in the

 I know how much you all enjoy reading these e-mails, but I didn't really
 reinforce this by sending out the twelve copies of last week's edition that
 some of you received! I only sent it once. I'm not sure what happened after
 that but I suspect that someone was playing a fairly pointless little game.
 Let me know if it happens again.

 More details of all the following from Andy Bickerstaff (07966 552302 /
 norris.hobs@ndirect.co.uk) or Sarah Seal (020 8995 2380 /
 Saturday October 13th    Surrey Cross Country League Division One - men at
 Brockwell Park, women at Wimbledon Common. See above.
 Saturday October 20th    Surrey Veterans Championships (women 6km at 2.30pm,
 men 10km at 3pm) at Richmond Park. This is on our course but entries have to
 be made in advance to be eligible for the team competition. Send your entry
 direct to Derek Crookes at 209 Lynmouth Avenue, Morden, Surrey SM4 4RX with
 the 2 fee payable to Surrey County AA. 

 Saturday October 27th    Page Cup 5 miles handicap in Richmond Park. Start
 at 3pm.

 Saturday November 3rd    Priory Relays at Reigate  

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