Well, I could have started writing this last week when Helene Tyler started the Marathon des Sables 2018 as I now have a marathon of words to do justice to her feat as well as the rest of you all from this weekend.
Helene first mentioned the MDS a few years ago and 2018 seemed such a long way in the future but suddenly she was ordering her space packed food and working out how to survive the desert conditions whilst carrying everything she needed for 7 stages of 237 kilometres in a bag no heavier than 15kg. Taking place over a week in Morocco, the competitors do not know the exact mileage or route until they arrive. Each stage had to be completed in a given amount of hours and over each stage there were many withdrawals. Helene kept going and it was great to watch her progress on the live tracker, even if it did take a while to update at times. Hours of tabbing and circuit work in the gym paid off as every day Helene came in before the time allocated. Below, the photo shows her accumulated times after each stage of the race.
Stage 4 is a double marathon and competitors were given 35 hours to complete this stage. Night time in the desert must have been an experience and one I am sure Helene will not forget. Whilst this is not a photo of her I have included it to give you an impression of what it must have been like.
In a race where the support crew include camels and helicopters, the MDS, now in its 33rd year, is a race like no other and I am sure when we next see Helene she will do it much more justice than this report does. Well done Helene, a core of steely determination runs through you and we are all very proud of you.
Time for races a little bit closer to home. Spring marathons have now started in abundance and there was Great Bentley presence at three different UK marathons this weekend.
Boston in Lincolnshire is not to be mistaken for Boston in Massachusetts, which holds a same distance race the day after. This market town hosted a marathon for the third time and it boasts an elevation rise of just 11.2 feet over 26.2 miles. Doing Boston was Phil Presland who ran his first road marathon in a super time of 3:31:00. Vicky ran 10 miles with him before leaving him to experience the finishing 9 road miles for himself. He vows never to do another road marathon again and was happy to get a PB of over an hour from his effort along the Flitch Way.
Heading west and across the Welsh border Tim Ballard took part in the Great Welsh Marathon in Llanelli. Tim stated that “the conditions were light rain with strong winds, which was awful as it’s a run along the coast… It wasn’t flat either!” Despite these comments Tim completed in first marathon in an superb time of 3:11:27 and came 14th out of 340 runners.
Finally, on the marathon front we head south to Brighton. Now it its 9th year the Brighton Marathon weekend attracts a large crowd as it is a non balloted marathon which is the 2nd largest in the country. Jennifer Aylen had put in some sterling training over the winter months but due to not feeling her best during the race she was not able to improve on her London PB this time. Yet she still came over the line in a really great time of 4:20:05. Jon Tither ran Brighton in 4:58:10, after overcoming recent calf problems. Well done Jon for completing 26.2 miles.
The Brighton Marathon weekend also includes a 10k and mile race. For the third time the Jones’ headed to the south coast to compete in these races. George and Isabella shared shoes to complete the mile race. Luckily not at the same time! George, who packed for the race himself and left a vital part at home, ran in 12:05 and Isabella who got to take ownership of her shoes again an hour later ran the mile in 11:04.
Matthew and Liz both took part in the 10k race. Matthew wanted to make sure he did not finish slower than his inaugural outing at the Brighton 10k three years ago. He managed this comfortably in a time of 47:36. Liz improved her course record with a time of 1:07:12. Well done to you all on your weekend of running in Brighton!
Keeping up the tradition of Bentley Blues on tour Caroline Searle found a 10k in Liverpool to finish off her marathon training Sunday runs with a race. In its 13th year, this 10k uses one of the Mersey Tunnels to get from Liverpool over to the Wirral. Playing havoc with Garmin whilst in the tunnel, the course was amazingly very accurate and she finished in 54:48.
We continue our tour to another part of the coast to find Lowestoft 5 Mile Promenade Dash. We had two Bentley Blue representatives here. Magdalena Komorowska and Frank Gardiner found their way in the mist to the start line and both ran under 40 minutes. This was a PB for Magdalena in 39:08, one she was really pleased to achieve so soon after her last 5 mile race. Frank finished in 39:52.
Finally we get around to parkrun news. This week there was a birthday celebration parkrun in Harwich where a number of Bentley Blues were aiming for sub 20 minutes. As they knew there was cake at the end, it is no surprise that they managed this! Lee Clarkson finished in 19:53 and bagged himself a PB and an elusive senior male bronze standard. Paul Hollidge was also after a sub 20 and he finished in 19:49 for a brilliant PB. Charlie Keitch led them home in 19:48 with the buggy. There were many other runners at Harwich parkrun, with more PBs on the fast course: Scott Young 22:31; Tomasz Komorowski 22:42 which is another new PB, well done Tomasz for your continued efforts; Deborah Cubberley 24;31, a new PB by 24 seconds, great running Debs; Toni Wilson 24:43; Emily Zethraeus 25:52; Claire Groves 26:18 (with buggy) Claudia Keitch 28:44; Alison Clarke 30:26 and John Bush 32:42.
Harwich was not the only parkrun to have mass Bentley Blues in attendance. At Colchester Castle parkrun, Meera Rajoo-Oakley was 2nd lady home in 22:34 followed by Malcolm Jarvis 22:44; Richard Moor 23:26; Natalie Warriner 25:29; Charles Williams 26:01 and Andy Stephens in 26:03.
Along Clacton Seafront the following Great Bentley runners ran: Tom Fowler 19:25; Ray Baggs 20:10; Ben Ficken 21:05; Russell Clarke 21:51; Kevin James 23:39; James McCullagh 25:58; Kieron Hayes 27:10 and Sandra James 36:48.
On Mersea Island, Vicky Presland was first lady home in 20:56 and Katie Presland finished in 25:45, her fastest time for a year.
Finally, Felixstowe has joined the rest of the local seaside towns who host a parkrun and Nick Goodman ran the 2nd event along the Suffolk seafront in 24:29. It looks to be a popular event with 320 runners taking part after over 400 in the first week.
On Sunday morning, Laci Wakeling took part in the first Clacton junior parkrun and ran in 14:05. She was joined by Angel Jasper who ran in 10:00. Well done Laci and Angel!
As the temperatures finally start to rise for 2018, don’t forget to hydrate before a run and look after yourselves as we have many great events ahead of us in the next few months.