Described as the oldest and largest ultra marathon in the world, the Comrades Marathon was originally conceived in 1921 by South African Veteran Vic Clapham to commemorate South African soldiers killed during the war and to be a unique test of physical endurance….it didn’t disappoint. Its run annually between Pietermaritzburgh and Durban, changing direction each year and a nominal 90km long. Due to the changes in elevation between the start & finish, the Pietermaritzburgh to Durban leg is called the ‘Down Run’ and the reverse route is the ‘Up Run’. 2018 was to be a Down Run from Pietermaritzburgh to Durban. There are several significant hills along the route affectionately known as the big five along with timed cut offs culminating in the final 12 hour cut off at the finish.
I qualified in group C following last years Chester Marathon and lined up on the chilly start line ready for the cock crowing at the 5:30am start. Pacing was always going to be difficult as it’s a hilly 50km followed by a fairly steep 30km downhill and a steady 10km to the finish. Apparently there’s only 4km of flat profile on the entire route. I decided early on to try and enjoy it & soak up the atmosphere as the support along the entire route was incredible. I saved the legs through the first 50km and all went relatively well until about 75km when my stomach went on strike, the km’s seemed like miles and I had to give myself a serious talking to which thankfully had the desired effect. The long downhill on tired legs was brutal and I managed to get some ice from a water bath and run with it on my quads for a while until it melted in the heat. I finished in 9:54:57 which is just inside the target I set myself although I hadn’t appreciated just how long & steep the downhill section was. All in all a great day out and thankfully the months of long miles (1,650 since November) paid off.
Apparently I’m halfway through my Comrades journey which isn’t complete until you’ve run both up & down legs!
Final result 9:54:57
Overall 5407 from approx 20,000 starters and 16,478 finishers
July 1: The hot weather continues to effect races and this one was just a matter of surviving. Five VRAC runners ran this out and back 10k on the bypass as it was temporarily closed to traffic. Another fine run from Chris WIlliams in 3rd place and just dipping under 33 minutes. Good to see Tommy Armstrong back racing and after a quick check on Power of Ten there didn't seem to be any PBs.
June 23: A belated well done to Chris Perry who ran a fantastic 14.18 over 5000m improving his PB from 14.57. An amazing time that puts Chris well within the elite criteria set by England Athletics.
|18||19.22||Gemma Barnett||F35||1||1st Lady|
|48||22.34||Emma Louise Pyatt|
21 June: Mike Harrington was the only VRAC member to take part in this long standing 10k in and around the park at Woolston. It was a last minute decision as by his own words "lacks the self-discipline to do a tempo session". Mike finished 4th overall and was first in the 40-49 category in a season's best of 36.24. Full results.
|55||18.08||Sarah Murphy||W40||1||18.06||2nd Lady|
|58||18.17||Liz Renondeau||W35||2||18.15||3rd Lady|
17 June: Round 4 of the Cheshire Road Race Grand Pris series saw 16 VRAC toe the line at the magnificent Colshaw Hall 10k. Conditions were ideal on a course not known for PB potential. There were age group wins for Stuart Doyle, James Ainsworth and Gareth Williams who had sneaked into the Vet 50 category just days earlier. There was a PB for Rick Murray on this undulating course and Mel Johnson was just a second outside of her seasons best which bodes well for them on a quicker course. Good run also for Debbie Broad who narrowly missed out on her category prize. Full results.
|Pos||Gun time||Name||Last name||Chip||Pos||Gen||Pos||Category||Pos|
14 June: Round 4 of the North Cheshire Grand Prix series saw some more strong performances from the VRAC contingent. Chris Jones was first back in his first race in over a month just one place and two seconds ahead of Mike Harrington who again took the V45 prize and with it almost guaranteed the series win. Gary Richardson was next with a season's best run. Dave Haines was along next quickly followed by Chris Beard who knocked another 20 seconds of his PB set only last week with a 19.29 and must be heading for a sub 19 soon. John Clarke was in next with another solid run which has been the tale of his series. Jill Haines rounded it off for VRAC and looked like she had plenty left in the tank. Full Results
The final race in the series is the Hollins Green 5k on Sunday 24th June. Full details.
7 Jun: Race 3 of the North Cheshire Grand Prix Series saw another 6 VRAC tackle this traditionally quick 5k. Another warm evening which has been the story of this series saw Jake Wilson first home with another junior age prize. Next home was Mike Harrington with another V45 win and is looking good for the series win. Dave Humphreys was next home quickly followed by Chris Beard with a huge PB of almost 20 seconds. Barry Chambers had another solid run and Pauline Davies rounded it off for VRAC with another category win. Full Results.
The next race in the series is Thursday 14th June at Dunham Massey for the fast version of the course. Full Details.
|7||WILSON, Jake||Male Junior||Vale Royal Ac||17.10|
|12||HARRINGTON, Michael||Male Vet 45||Vale Royal Ac||17.34|
|33||HUMPHREYS, David||Male Vet 45||Vale Royal||19.39|
|37||BEARD, Chris||Male Vet 45||Vale Royal Ac||19.48|
|88||CHAMBERS, Barry||Male Vet 65||Vale Royal Ac||24.00|
|97||DAVIES, Pauline||Female Vet 65||Vale Royal Ac||24.39|
|17||18.54||Gemma Barnett||L35||1||1st Lady|
|23||19.24||Kate Moulds||SL||3rd Lady|
|124||33.20||Shaun Mc Grath||M70||3|
31 May: Round 2 of the North Cheshire Grand Prix Series with another hot and humid 5k. The course is a reverse route of the multi-terrain Forest Park Ladies 5k. Mike Harrington again took the V45 win. The men (mainly V45!) took second team place. Most VRAC runners seemed to be a bit quicker than last weeks Dunham Massey race. Full Results
The next race in the series is the Bowdon 5k on Thursday 7th June. Full details.
24 May: 8 VRAC members travelled to the national trust estate at Dunham Massey for race 1 of the North Cheshire Grand Prix Series. This race was the 'uphill' version of the two that are staged in the parkland and as seems usual for this race runners faced hot conditions. There was a win for Ed Shepherd in his first outing in a VRAC vest (2nd claim) and category wins for both Jake Wilson and Mike Harrington. On the whole runners appeared to be abut a minute down compared to recent faster 5ks. Full Results
The next race in the series is at Birchwood Brook on Thursday 31st May at 7.30pm. Details here.
|1||294||SHEPHERD, Ed||Male Senior||15.22|
|13||58||WILSON, Jake||Male Junior||17.38|
|15||29||HARRINGTON, Michael||Male Vet 45||17.44|
|40||290||RICHARDSON, Gary||Male Vet 40||19.09|
|53||295||MOULDS, Kate||Female Senior||19.54|
|65||85||BEARD, Chris||Male Vet 45||20.34|
|137||72||LOMAX, Jayne||Female Vet 50||24.25|
|164||118||HAINES, Jill||Female Vet 45||26.06|
|Name||Pos||Chip Time||Name||Pos||Chip Time|
|James Griffiths||94||00:37:33||Chloe Dooley||257||01:37:14|
|Gareth Williams||96||00:37:40||melanie johnson||324||01:38:57|
13 May: Nathan Williams was the only VRAC runner as far as we know to have taken part in this race. Huge congratulations to Nathan with a PB and first sub 35 10k. Nathan finished in 47th place in a time of 34.55. Full Results.
13 May: Fan of the odd trail race Chris Griffiths in company with six of our friends from Northwich Running Club took part in this 10k trail race. The course is within a picturesque nature reserve in the former mining areas between Hindley and Spring View. Also representing VRAC was Claire Thompson and Stephen Thompson. Claire finished 4th female and won her age category. Full Results.
12 & 13 May: Some great performances as a number of VRAC swapped the road for a rare track outing in the championships in Macclesfield. There was a big PB of 9.38 in the 3000m for James 'the machine' Ainsworth. Great track debut for Tony Dutton who doubled up for the 1500 and 3000m. Lucy Knight had a great second place in the senior women's 3000m. There was a win too for Helen Smith in the senior womens 5000m. Well done also to Dave Haines with a sub 19 on his 5000m debut. Full Results.
8 May: Round three of the Cheshire Grand Prix series saw 10 VRAC tackle this unique 5m trail race that passes underneath the runway of Manchester Airport. We had a full mens team but sadly only three women when four counters would have scored. James Ainsworth continued his good form of late with a top ten finish in a strong field. Despite only three women in the team some strong scoring from Mel Johnson, Jeanette Pope and Jayne Lomax leaves VRAC ladies still in 3rd position the Grand Prix. Full results.
6 May: Chloe Dooley was the only VRAC runner to take part in this high quality race which takes place in a leafy suburb of Whitchurch. The race also incorprates the Welsh 5k championships and Chloe finished in 11th place in a time of 19.23 a full 30 seconds outside of her PB (set at Kingsley April 2017). Full Results.
6 May: This race incorporated an international masters match with England taking on a combined Celtic nations team consisting of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish masters runners. Liz Renondeau and Sarah Murphy were both picked to represent England. Sarah finished 17th in 38.14 and Liz ran a conservative 39.19. Both are to be congratulated for being picked to represent England.
5 & 6 May: Merseyraces host this 5k and 10k on consecutive days around Sefton Park. Lucy Knight was the sole VRAC runner to do the 5k on what is described as a twisting course. Lucy was 5th lady in a time of 21.37. Full Results
Lucy also did the 10k the following day in a solid 44.36 finishing 22nd female out of almost 2000 female runners. Also flying the VRAC flag at the 10k was Liverpool student Emma Pyatt. Emma was well outside of her PB in a time of 49.13. Full Results
29 April: Rounding off a busy weekend of racing was the Chester Half Marathon with a sell out 6000 entries. First home for VRAC with a PB was Andy McQue just one week after a great run at the London Marathon. Next home was Craig Sephton who is clearly coming back into some form. Liz Renondeau was back home next in 6th place with age category win. Steve Caldwell continued his return to fitness with a controlled 1.29.22 which was his target. Chris Swift had his usual consistent run over this distance coming in just ahead of Chris Weedall who knocked a big chunk off his PB. Ray Tran rounded up things for Vale Royal in his regular outing at this race. Full results.
|Pos||Gun time||First name||Last name||Chip Time||Pos||Category||Pos|
28 April: VRAC Vets runners made the annual pilgrimage to Sutton Park to the national picnic championships that doubles up as the masters road relay races. The men had two teams in the V45 category with the A team finishing 18th and the B team were close behind in 25th place. The men also had a team in the V55 category that finished 29th. In the women's event there was a notable performance from Helen Harrington who finished in 10th place on the first leg in the FV35 category helping the team to a 17th place. The club also had two FV45 teams and it was great to see Caroline Buckley and Liz Gayle making their debuts at the relays helping their teams to a 9th and 16th position. Special mention must also go to Pauline Davies who finished 7th in her leg in the V55 race despite stepping into the team from the V65 category to race against younger athletes. A great day for the club with so many runners having been involved in the previous nights race at Kingsley either taking part or helping out. Full results and pictures courtesy of Bryan Dale.
27 April: Just the 34 VRAC made the short trip to Kingsley for the spring edition of the Mid Cheshire 5k. The race again incorporated the England Athletics 5k Championships which resulted in 25 men dipping under 15 minutes and 12 women breaking 17 minutes. As expected in such a stacked race there were plenty of PBs and full results can be found by clicking this link. Free to download pictures are available courtesy of Mick Hall and Vale Royal AC's own Chloe Broad.
A full film of the race including drone footage is available here.
|Pos||Gun time||First name||Last name||Chip Time||Chip Pos||Category||Pos|
|1||17:33||Matt||Rowlinson||17:33||1||Male||1||Male Under 40||1|
|4||19:22||Robert||Roe||19:22||4||Male||4||Male Under 40||4|
|9||21:19||Matt||Jakeman||21:19||10||Male||9||Male Under 40||7|
|29||24:30:00||Jayne||Lomax||24:28:00||31||Female||2||Female Over 50||1|
|42||25:45:00||Geoff||Davies||25:30:00||41||Male||37||Male Over 50||8|
|Place overall||Place gender||Place cat.||Name||Category||Time|
|328||325||233||» McQue, Andrew (GBR)||18-39||02:47:25|
|1894||1793||1070||» Jones, Chris (GBR)||18-39||03:09:48|
|3363||307||216||» Barnett, Gemma (GBR)||18-39||03:23:16|
|3651||3286||271||» Murray, Richard (GBR)||50-54||03:25:17|
|4897||616||114||» Cavanagh, Nicola (GBR)||40-44||03:33:49|
|4909||4288||922||» Cavanagh, Joe (GBR)||40-44||03:33:55|
|5771||4910||800||» Dooley, Brian (GBR)||45-49||03:39:16|
|6460||1092||220||» Dooley, Carolyn (GBR)||40-44||03:43:36|
|10706||2566||381||» Riches, Eleanor (GBR)||45-49||04:05:50|
|14002||3748||306||» Broad, Debbie (GBR)||50-54||04:21:40|
|17362||12428||1973||» Woolley, Matt (GBR)||45-49||04:36:30|
|24655||7898||38||» Williams, Carole (GBR)||65-69||05:07:20|
15 April: Round two of the Cheshire Grand Prix series and VRAC women had a full complement of runners but the men's team was a runner short. First home for VRAC was Mike Harrington just four days after the Chester Spring 5 followed by Robert Roe who knocked 3 minutes off his last visit here which was his 10k debut. Chris Swift was next home with a PB followed closely by our first lady back Melanie Johnson. Lucy Knight was second home and continued her good form and now sits in fourth place in the Cheshire Grand Prix series. Less than a minute later came fan of this race Claire Thompson and then Ray Tran less than a week after the Whitchurch 10k. Prolific racer Debbie Moreton was in next with Barry Chambers just 10 seconds behind despite having done the 'Ally Pally' Parkrun the day before. Jayne Lomax brought the VRAC contingent home and was happier to get her camper van off the muddy field than actually finish the race. Full Results
|Pos||Name||Gen||CAT.||Gun||Chip||Gen Pos||Cat Pos||Chip|
11 April: The Chester Spring 5 is the traditional curtain raiser for the start of summer road racing season and as usual was well supported by VRAC. Matt Sheen defended his title setting a new PB and it is rumoured that if he wins it for a third time he gets to keep the social club. There was a big PB for James Ainsworth who reached a long held target of a sub 28. 1st lady back for VRAC was Liz Renondeau who was 3rd overall. Dave Haines looked to have recovered well from his marathon and earned a great PB. Graham Miles had another decent run and looks well and truly over his injuries. Steve Caldwell made his comeback in a VRAC vest in his first outing for 20 months and surely won't be long before he is back at his best. Chris Beard made his debut at this distance but should be pleased with this result. Both Mary and Colin had solid runs and were unlucky not to be in the category prizes. Pauline Davies continued her fine run of form with another age group victory. Full Results
|14||27:57:00||James||Ainsworth||27:56:00||14||Male||14||Male Vet 40||6||PB|
|29||29:16:00||Michael||Harrington||29:13:00||30||Male||28||Male Vet 45||4|
|47||30:35:00||Elizabeth||Renondeau||30:32:00||47||Female||3||Female Vet 35||1|
|53||31:02:00||David||Haines||30:59:00||54||Male||50||Male Vet 45||8||PB|
|57||31:11:00||Graham||Miles||31:08:00||57||Male||54||Male Vet 50||4|
|90||33:35:00||Chris||Beard||33:26:00||90||Male||84||Male Vet 45||12|
|186||38:13:00||Mary||Tavener||38:05:00||188||Female||28||Female Vet 55||3|
|190||38:29:00||Colin||Rathbone||38:19:00||193||Male||161||Male Vet 70||3|
|210||39:06:00||Barry||Chambers||38:50:00||206||Male||173||Male Vet 65||5|
|243||41:03:00||PAULINE||DAVIES||40:56:00||245||Female||47||Female Vet 65||1|
|342||46:47:00||Carole||Williams||46:31:00||343||Female||101||Female Vet 65||3|
Cold wet and windy 6am start. I made conscious decision to start slow as the early several miles through the Liverpool streets were the hilliest of the race. Finally got onto Trans Pennine Way which we mostly followed all the way to Didsbury. After 20 miles at CP3 (Runcorn) was told I was 75th. Though underfoot conditions not as muddy as Chester my feet were just as wet. My hands finally thawed at (CP6) 35 miles in and felt good. Started to tire with 6 miles to go but ran almost all the second half of the race. At the finish we passed the finish line and had to do a lap of the sodden field which was twice the size of Pie and Peas field. Another gold medal for top 100 finish. Two down two more GB Ultras to go in June and September, the Pennine Barrier 50 and Snowdon 50. This completes the GB Ultras grand slam.
Provisional result: 22nd overall. 8 hours 39 minutes 12 seconds. 250 started.
The course has changed in the last couple of years, a short
wooded section at the end of each lap makes the new course around 30 seconds
slower than the old all footpath course. However the fast and flat course
didn’t disappoint delivering four pbs. James Ainsworth led the team home. James
was in second but struggled with a stich at 6km which cost him a few seconds
over the next mile or so. Never one to give up he recovered the pace over the
last mile to finish 5th overall, second in his age category. The
first of the PB runners was Rob Roe. Rob was leaving nothing to chance,
aerodynamic haircut and shoes resulted in an even paced race delivering a first
sub 38 min 10k and PB of over 20 seconds. Next home was the rapidly improving
Tommy Armstrong. Having struggled to train consistently over the last six
months the ever the optimist Tom was hoping for sub 40 and planned to just pace
Hainesy round. Another sub 38 finish from Tom shows he’s moving in the right
direction. Even though his pacer was nowhere to be seen after the first bend
Dave Haines was next back with a PB, breaking the last one set in 2008. Chris
Beard has been steadily increasing his mileage and focusing on his speed work
at the club sessions. He continued his great year, setting another PB following
on from his success at Wrexham. Next back in quick succession was Lucy Knight
and Tony (race machine) Dutton. Lucy won the battle between the two of them,
just missing out on a PB. Tony had secured a PB at Salford on Friday and was
happy with two 10k’s in a weekend. Lisa Meadows has also been focusing on speed
work over the last few months, targeted sessions really paid off with a great
PB of over 30 seconds and has already set a target for a new PB! Next home was Debbie Moreton who described it as fabulous
till 8km but still had enough in the tank to out sprint a Wilmslow runner over
the line. Debbie was closely followed by Jane Lomax, who had been reluctant to
take her coat off but soon warmed up and delivered another great performance
with consistent splits.Full results here.
|22||Robert Roe||00:37:50||00:37:47||Open Male||PB|
|119||Lucy Knight||00:44:26||00:44:23||Open Ladies|