To kick newsletters off I am always puzzled on how to even begin, especially where absolutely crazy things are happening in the world right now. So, I often chose not to dwell on how things are outside our running zone and I would like to get straight to the point and highlight a few ladies who caught my eye this month and to provide some updates on club’s affairs.

First of all, welcome Ruth Rayner and Lisa Briggs! Hope you will enjoy being part of our club and we will all get to meet you safely on club sessions soon.

Belinda Palmer-Barnes greeted the New Year with a Penguin route for the St Helena Hospice and she completed 5k precisely when the clock hit midnight, and she could enjoy a cannonade of fireworks afterwards. I’d like to mention that just a few days earlier Caroline Searle did her Penguin route which can be admired alongside of Belinda’s below. Brilliant artwork ladies!

Hélène Tyler might not be 100% ready to run her full pace yet. However, I have noticed some serious miles and brisk walks clocked whilst being out with her dog. By the way, just look at Bella, I mean look at her! This outfit should also be available in human size. Imagine matchy-matchy Helene and Bella on their long ventures 😉

Many of club members showed their appreciation for trail runs, which were kindly served to us before lockdown by Emma Wakeling and Daniel Whymark (thank you both!) and of course Rodger Alexander! These inspired Lorna Sharp and Claire Fathers to create their own trail as well. I’m sure many of our ladies are warmed up to the idea of running trail miles more than before. Would you agree with that statement? I personally have never been particularly keen on trails or cross country. I was always terrified of running through puddles and mud – those who know me have seen a sheer panic in my eyes before XC in Ipswich where the water feature made me feel almost sick before the race…or Grizzly (which is full of ridiculous obstacles), or Benfleet last year. I mean that I’ve always been the one with clean shoes and have been avoiding puddles when possible. However, I threw myself outside my comfort zone and in time I warmed up to running trail miles which was so natural for so many I admired them for! Nowadays, I crave, I properly crave to go to the woods and run where I’m so close to nature where I can breathe fresh air and enjoy the scenery. So, currently when being quite limited to run in the local location and not being able to explore as much, living close to Highwoods country park is a blessing. So, I guess what I want to say really is that I am super grateful to those who took their time and created trail self-navigating runs to keep us sane through lockdowns. I appreciate you and thank you very, very much and if I can encourage any of you to come up with some trail scenarios, please share these with your club, because once we have been allowed to resume to travel a bit to run, many of us will be delighted to get new running experience.

1st snowflakes in Highwoods covering muddy track

Our own Vice Ladies’ Captain took upon herself (well, with a very keen husband) a challenge to run the Lapland Arctic Circle challenge by Hare and Tortoise.
There are 4 distances to choose from and Sarah Davison picked an option to run 170 miles in two months (December and January) – an equivalent of West to East width of Lapland.
You chose your distance and were then sent a link to login to Challenge Hound, which tracked your progress along a virtual map.
Sarah commented the challenge as follows: “I did the West to East challenge and it kept me motivated through 2 of the coldest months. It was good to have a bit of competition as you could watch others progress day by day on Challenge Hound and attempt to be the first to complete the distance – I wasn’t first and part of me wished I had done the south to north challenge 😊.
As always it was a great medal from Hare & Tortoise”.
I admire her for it as December was particularly busy for her and making an extra commitment to fit runs in her busy schedule is quite a challenge. With the end of this month, I can confirm that Sarah completed the challenge with flying “170” colours on the 8th January and carried on running through the rest of the month clocking a total of just over 286 miles in the end.

Spectacular medal after the completion of the Lapland Challenge

Sarah is also keen on promoting Hare & Tortoise running long distances challenges and one of them is The Superior Ultra. The idea is to run 1,111 miles virtual race around Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Take it on in one go within 12 months or in 4 stages with a little more time to get the run/walk done. More details under the link below:

When I explored the map, I’ve noticed Lake Superior is quite close to Sudbury. Should this be in the UK, it could be classed for some as ‘local to your location’ 😉

London Marathon

I sent an email to all club members with regards to this. In the nutshell the idea is that for those who entered the VMLM ballot and receive commiserations (hopefully not many) on the 8th February, will have two options to run the marathon on the 3rd October:

  1. You will be able to enter the virtual race from 9th February and pay £28 to VMLM;
  2. You can choose to enter a club draw, where we have 2 spots for our members, by sending an evidence of commiserations to Paul Carlisle between 8th February and 14th March (the draw will take place on 15th March).

We strongly advise you to make a decision about either of them and stick with it. It’s purely because it wouldn’t be fair on those who entered a club ballot and didn’t get a spot in the physical race because another member got it and entered a virtual race instead. So, I would like to kindly ask you to be mindful of that and choose carefully. Good luck on the 8th February! Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this.


As mentioned in the recent email, full reports from the 2021 Annual General Meeting will be distributed to all on the 1st April. I don’t want to dwell on how much better it would have been If we gathered in the Village Hall for this occasion and I realise this is the 2nd year where we do the AGM virtually. Please contact myself with regards to any questions about potential nominations. We have two vacancies that require to be filled: Website Officer and Ladies’ Vice Captain, but also I would like to emphasise that all posts are for grabs and if you feel like you would like to get involved in the club’s committee life, please don’t be shy about it. I have decided to remain in the Club Secretary and Ladies’ Captain positions this year (hoping that when things get back to normal, I will get a real taste of being a captain), but should you want to come forward as one, please do.
Like mentioned in my email, I will be collecting nominations by 1st March, which will leave a few weeks window for votes to take place.

As per previous communication via email and Facebook, the committee had to suspend the series with the new lockdown rules which came to life earlier this month.
However, as the series began on 14thDecember I would like to give a shout out to a few ladies who had already ticked off a few of parts of the challenge.

Vicky Presland
Lex Carlisle
Sue Sorrell
Fiona Gosling
Barbara Law
Lesley Moss
Veronica Alexander
Sarah Greenham
Tricia Stacey
Debs Hollidge
Claudia Keitch
Alison Clarke
Sue Wright
Kathy Bishop

I cannot wait for the challenge to resume and I will wait with anticipation to see many of our ladies to tackle all six distances 😊

Exercise of the month (calf raises)

What they do:

  • Ankle strength and foot stability
  • Lower leg strength to propel us forward in motion
  • Prevent injury particularly for athletes
  • The more explosive the activity – the more crucial calf strength is!

How to do them:

  • Stand with your toes pointing straight ahead and feet slightly apart.
  • Raise onto your toes for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2 and slowly descend for a count of three.
  • Repeat for 2 minutes 3 – 4 times per week.

Questions of The Month

This time we asked Anna Mills to answer our routine questions. She has always been an inspiration to us, and it turns out we have a similar taste for places to visit and race. In this case – Dublin.

Age category: 36-40
Occupation: Cardiac Physiologist (I help test hearts!)    
How long have you been in GBRC for? Since 2013/2014 (I think!)
The silliest thing you did on a race: Visited the Guinness factory and went on a whisky tasting tour 3 days before a marathon! Actually, on race day, the silliest thing I have done was to wear a new pair of trainers only worn twice before the race – risky strategy!   
Favourite distance: It used to be Marathon – right now I would love to be able to run a half marathon!      
Best achievement: Dublin Marathon earned me my good for age at London the following year. It was also a race I went to alone!     
What’s your ultimate running goal: To be able to run long distance again             
Favourite medal/t-shirt and what for: Stour Valley Marathon horseshoe! By far the best medal after my Eeyore medal from the 100 Acre Wood challenge                                                      
Interests other than running: Triathlon and craft – I have a wide selection of craft and art supplies which Lockdown has now given me the opportunity to use. Oh, and I love to cook!
Favourite & Worst events and why: Favourite must be Dublin Marathon as it is my PB and I got to incorporate a holiday too! There was also great crowd support, and it is a lovely city to wander around.
Worst event – a horrific cycle ride in Kent, The Hell of the Ashdown. It was my birthday weekend in February, Dan convinced me to do it and I genuinely feared for my life on narrow country lanes with potholes the size of craters when doing down wet, sleepy steep hills – not a birthday weekend to be repeated!
Most challenging event and why: Riding London to Paris just before joining Bentley – it was one of my very first events and certainly my biggest challenge up to that point. I did not know anyone when I joined the group and I had only just got into cycling that year so was not very experienced or well trained. However, I made it to the finish and made lifelong friends along the way. Riding down the Champs-Elysees in a 200 strong peloton was something I shall never forget – to then run it a few years later in the Paris Marathon was no less special.  
Most useful running information you can share: Once you find the running shoes that suit you, stick with them! Any time I have tried different running shoes, I have ended up with sore feet!

Runner of The Month

This lady has always been an inspiration for me and watching her enjoying solid miles and runs after being injured for a long time, makes my heart grow. She is a great enthusiast of trail runs where she can dip her shoes deep in a mud so they look like this:

She continuously encourages her husband and son to take part in trail adventures where she can take stunning photos like this one in Wivenhoe:

She loves trails so much she gives them names – “Christmas Cake Route” (meaning Rodger’s West Bergholt trail) or “The Pulled Pork” (meaning 5 miles route once organised by Meera in Nyland) to name a few.

She is a humble and ever so smiley lady who now runs pretty serious miles.
We love to see you thrive, Anna Lyon and congratulations for completing 100 miles in January. Wishing you many more to come, injury free so you can enjoy those miles fully.

Congratulations Anna Lyon, you are our Runner of The Month for January.