There isn’t much from me today, but that’s not saying it’s going to be a short read. In fact, I’ve kind of passed the baton over to some of your coaches to give us a little background into their own lives and tales of running. For those wondering, all communication regarding Covid, the lockdown, roadmaps, etc will come via the Club on official channels – but, we all want to be back together as soon as possible!

So, I turn to this week and remind you that this is Time Trial week. I hope you all have your 5km planned into your weekly run schedule. The prior results and routes are all here as a reminder.

Another thing is that all current memberships expire at the end of this month – please don’t leave it to the last minute, if you haven’t got your renewal email, or need to discuss your membership please contact your coach or email the Club.

Here it is. What you’ve been waiting for. The Road Running coaches at Bexley AC are a mixed and varied bunch – none of them are on the payroll as it were, and all are trained via the UK Athletics body to provide safe, structured and varied sessions to the runners within the Club. As our runners are a mix of abilities, it makes sense that we have groups that cater and provide relevant training – but by doing this, we don’t often know much about the other groups that exist. I wanted to give them the deserved spotlight and have received some interesting, funny and surprising details to a few questions I threw out. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.


Kathy Leaf

How long have you been running & what made you start?
I started running about 15 years ago. I had an exercise prescription for a gym and I enjoyed treadmill running. Members of the gym were offered free entry to a 10K race in Crystal Palace. Gym staff supported me to apply and train for the event. It was a very positive experience – I did not come last and no one laughed at me, so I continued with applying for races. I eventually decided I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday by being fit enough to run a marathon as I was feeling very depressed at the thought of being half a century old! (I felt a little miserable at hitting 20, 30 & 40).

Why did you join Bexley AC & not another club?
I was running the Wilmington 10K when I got chatting to a member of Bexley AC who happened to live near me. She invited me to meet her at the Club where I was made to feel very welcome and encouraged that I could be a runner even though I was overweight and not very young. I met Sylvia Jennings at around that time and she was incredibly supportive, encouraging and helped me work towards my marathon. She continues to inspire me and has become a close friend as have many of the other runners I met when I first joined Bexley.

What is your favourite race & why?
Extra-Terrestrial (ET) Full Moon Midnight Marathon (or 5K /10K / half marathon / 51K options) in Nevada, USA. Starting off at the ‘Black Mailbox’ (which is painted white) and running along the Extra-Terrestrial Highway looking out for UFO’s and shooting stars was an unforgettable experience as was the buffet breakfast at 3am in the ‘Little Ale Inn’ in Rachel, Nevada as seen in the sci-fi film ‘Paul’. It was our 30th wedding anniversary treat to ourselves in 2011 and Barry and I ran the half marathon option.

What do you do away from running to relax?
Working full time and having children and grandchildren living with me means that I don’t have much free time, but I do enjoy massage; watching TV; dancing and reading in the bath.

What’s your pre-race ritual?
Porridge and poo (sorry, but you did ask!).

What’s your post-race guilty pleasure?
Cake, cake, cake.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
Seeing people improve, progress and grow in confidence. I’d also like to mention how much of an inspiration Eileen Noble was and continues to be.

 

Steph Ham

How long have you been running & what made you start?
I’ve been running properly since Feb 2014 after jog/walking the Race for life in 2010. I was determined to lose weight & get fit so took to the treadmill to achieve this. My brother in law (who runs for Blackheath & Bromley) told me I wasn’t a ‘proper runner’ until I got out on the road in all weathers.

Why did you join Bexley AC & not another club?
My Slimming world consultant persuaded me to join SLGR (so let’s go running in Dartford) but there was no structure to their sessions, they didn’t have a coach, used the same dreary route every week & was more of a community running group. Philippa Matthews, who I was working with at the time introduced me to Bexley AC.

What is your favourite race & why?
I’ve run a variety of different races & distances, but my favourite ones are always the trail races. North Downs is my absolute favourite. 18 miles of beautiful scenery.

What do you do away from running to relax?
Reading or watching tv to relax.

What’s your pre-race ritual?
Porridge & banana as a ritual before a long run.

What’s your post-race guilty pleasure?
A sausage sandwich & cuppa after a long run.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
Coaching is rewarding to see other runners progress & to achieve their running goals. During past year it’s been nice to receive feedback on our new & refreshing running routes & sessions.

 

Phil Brown

How long have you been running & what made you start?
I have been running for over 40 years. I started to build up my stamina for playing football.

Why did you join Bexley AC & not another club?
I joined the Club because it was local to me and I knew some of the Road Runners.

What is your favourite race & why?
My favourite race is the Grizzly. It’s challenging but great fun. Very rewarding when you finish and great comradery along the way with the other runners.

What do you do away from running to relax?
Away from running my main hobby is following QPR home and away. Though many would say that’s not very relaxing!

What’s your pre-race ritual?
Pre-race rituals – too many to mention from umpteen loo breaks, eating dark chocolate, butter buns, drinking a little Coffee and a full English on long Endurance races (not typically text book).

What’s your post-race guilty pleasure?
Post-race is always the Pub and rehydrate.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
What I enjoy about Coaching is passing on my many experiences, do’s and don’ts and hoping the Athlete picks up something that is useful to them down the line.

“It’s better to try and fail than to fail to try”

 

Alan Wright

How long have you been running and what made you start?
21 years – finished playing football and needed something else to keep fit.
One day while my friend and i decided to get into the London marathon and I did and since then I’m hooked on marathons

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
I used to live very close to the Club and used to see the runners about and after a few years of running by myself i joined.

What’s your favourite race and why?
2004 New York City marathon – the atmosphere was awesome and overcome disappointment at previous attempt so felt extra special.
My favourite UK race the Harvel 5.

What do you do away from running to relax?
Walk my dog

What’s your pre-run ritual?
I don’t have one other than make sure each shoe matches.

What’s your post run guilty pleasure?
A cold cherry coke…. yes, I know its rubbish

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
Real answer – THE POWER! (Thinking up sadistic sessions and seeing the ‘joy’ people get from doing them, but that wouldn’t go across very well).
Textbook answer – I really do enjoy seeing people enjoy their running, achieving their goals, completing tough session and although knackered still enjoying it because it was tough, and they done it.

“There is no crying in running. only when you’ve finished, just dig deep and get it done.”
“The pain is temporary…the memories and bling will last a lot longer.”

 

Corinne Crane

How long have you been running and what made you start?
I’ve been running for eight years now and I have my Mum to thank for it. She had been suffering from cancer, and in 2013 I decided to take part in a Race for Life 5k to raise a bit of money for Cancer Research. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to see me run as she passed away the week before. I’m sure she was with me that day though.

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
I knew that I needed help to become a better runner and I’d already met a few members of Bexley AC before I joined, and they seemed nice and encouraging. Plus, other family members have been long-standing Bexley members – so it was a no-brainer!

What’s your favourite race and why?
I’d have to say the Harvel 5, although the Eltham 5 miler is a really close second. Both of the races have really interesting courses and a village fete-type atmosphere at the end of the race. Harvel House Hash Harriers are by far the most encouraging other club I’ve met and put on a really good race.

What do you do away from running to relax?
I love meeting up with friends and family, going out for meals (I run to eat! lol), and going on long walks.

What’s your pre-run ritual?
Assuming it’s a morning run – drink half a cup of tea, few sips of water, eat a chocolate brioche or some toast, adjust my shoelaces about 5 times lol and off I go! If it’s an evening run – wing it!

What’s your post run guilty pleasure?
It’s got to be bacon sandwich!

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
If someone achieves their running goals, with a little help and encouragement from me and my group’s other coaches – that’s what it’s all about.

“Running is hard, but don’t give up – you are stronger than you think!”

 

Mandy Holder

How long have you been running and what made you start?
In October 2017 I decided I needed to get fit and lose weight, so I joined the couch to 5k at the Club. It was a challenge but with the support and encouragement of the coaches I made it to the end. I joined the road runners’ improvers group and became a run leader on the 1/2/20 not long before lockdown!

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
I was a Bexley member in the 90’s for a few years when I threw the Hammer for the Club until leaving to start a family. (My husband Graham has thrown for the Club for years.)

What’s your favourite race and why?
I haven’t competed in many road races (I can count the amount on one hand!) but my highlight must be finishing The Vitality Big Half in 2019. Such an amazing feeling and tiredness!

What do you do away from running to relax?
To relax I enjoy watching a good Drama on the tv and spending time with my family.

What’s your pre-run ritual?
Before I run on my own I love finding new routes by using on the go map.com. I make sure I’m hydrated and haven’t eaten anything in the past two hours. Set my watch and off I go to get lost in my thoughts.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
I absolutely love being a run leader and encouraging our runners to reach for their goals. It’s such a great feeling after a session seeing how much they have enjoyed their run. I’m always telling our runners that they are doing great. Which they are.

“If you are having a good run then you are here to support the other runners and if it’s a not such a good run then the group are here to support you. Never give up!”
“Whatever your goals we will get there!”
“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”

 

Karen Winfield

How long have you been running and what made you start?
Since 1999. Nick, my husband, had joined Bexley AC and was training for a marathon. We both joined a gym (at his encouragement) and I trained for my first 10k, London Women’s 10k, entirely on the treadmill. First time I ran outside was when I did the race! My sister-in-law, Judy Walters, came along to support me and thought if Karen can do it so can I and said we should both join the club.

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
Following in Nick’s footsteps.

What’s your favourite race and why?
Lordswood 10k. Family occasion of runners and supporters followed by BBQ at my brother-in-law’s. Alas like so many local runs it is no more.

What do you do away from running to relax?
Go on holiday!

What’s your pre-run ritual?
Put my race number in my vest the night before.

What’s your post run guilty pleasure?
After a race, dine out.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
Seeing people develop, improve and gain a love of running.

“The hardest part of running is taking the first step.”

 

Richard Long

How long have you been running and what made you start?
I have been running for over 40 years as I’m pretty old now. I started at school and used to go for lunchtime runs with one of the PE teachers who was a pretty good runner. I got more serious later and tried to get in the very first London marathon but couldn’t get in, it was even difficult then. However, after doing my first marathon I got the running bug and within a few years had done quite a few marathons. I managed to run to a reasonable standard and used to run for City of Portsmouth AC they had a pretty good team and I used to do the steeplechase for them on the track. I was once in a 1500 metre race with Steve Ovett, only saw him on the start line as he was so fast, Jon Armstrong from the Club was in that race as well and ran his PB. I also used to run against Chris Harris a few times in the steeplechase.
I always overdid it when I was running thinking the harder you train the better you will become, as a result I suffered various injuries and probably why I struggle to run very well now. However, this has been very useful for coaching as I can advise runners not to do what I did.

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
I got involved with Bexley AC in 2005 when I took my daughter to the Club as she wanted to run, she started in a group with Tony Garrett. After doing that for a few weeks I saw Jon Armstrong and Chris Harris and joined in training with them, after that I trained with Jon Hunter and his road running group some of the time.
I started coaching in 2008 mainly to help at the Club and did the Tigers for a while, then with Kevin Winch coached a group of boys these included Tom Wright and Nikki Faulkner, I’m still involved with Tom and he now holds quite a few Club records including the half and full marathon, he is still young and hopefully can go on to some future fine performances. Nikki runs for Highgate and Thames Valley Harriers now but has run sub 15 for 5K on the track.

What’s your favourite race and why?
Favourite races for me were the marathon and the steeplechase for the challenges these races posed.

What do you do away from running to relax?
I’m quite sad, coaching, health and fitness are quite big passions for me so much of my spare time is tied up with this, I also enjoy social reading, keeping in touch with my daughters and doing a few bits and pieces with my son. I really enjoy coaching and find it particularly rewarding to see runners and athletes progressing and doing well. I also enjoy learning new things as a coach and trying to put them into practice.

What’s your pre-run ritual?
My pre-run routine now when I run is walking, I think walking is a great warm up and good to do after a run. Gets the circulation going and gently uses the same muscles needed for running.

What’s your post run guilty pleasure?
After a harder run or race, particularly muddy cross country’s I always looked forward to a nice shower then tea and cake in the clubhouse of whatever club we were at. I try to be healthier now, so it wouldn’t be cake.

“Relax. I think most runners run with too much strain and tension and if you can relax more it may improve your form and make it more enjoyable.”

 

Brian Crane

How long have you been running and what made you start?
I ran as a teenager with my older brother, even doing a couple of half marathons, but I stopped in my late teens. Then life (and family) took over, so I did very little running apart from the occasional fun run until I started again in my 40s.

Why did you join Bexley AC and not another local club?
I’m very glad that Bexley AC was recommended to me by my lovely niece, Laura. I had run at Erith as a child, on the (then) cinder track, so I felt a nostalgic connection to the Club. I joined in 2012 at the same time as my son Matthew, whose interest in athletics was a major factor in inspiring me to get fitter. Like many others, I’ve made so many good friends over the years at the Club.

What’s your favourite race and why?
Harvel 5. Why? The cheeky beer stops of course!

What do you do away from running to relax?
A good curry with friends and family.

What’s your pre-run ritual?
A final check of the weather and then some motivational self-talk to encourage me to step outside and start.

What’s your post run guilty pleasure?
Sausage sandwich with Naga chilli sauce. A pleasure, oh yes, but I have to admit to feeling no guilt about it.

What do you enjoy about being a coach?
Bringing people together, and seeing people achieve what they thought was impossible.

“It doesn’t matter whether you walk, jog, run or sprint. Get outside and keep moving.”

 


 

…..so there you go – I bet there are a few surprises there, I have certainly learnt a thing or two about our coaching team.

I will wrap up there. Don’t forget your Time Trial, Membership and most of all – have fun, run (or rest and recover), and take care. Final thing, just remember that “the crocus of hope is poking through the frost and spring is on its way”.

Paul
RR Secretary