Sep 102014

HPAAs from week commencing 15th September, Abbey Runners will be meeting at Holt Park Active (Holtdale Approach, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS16 7RX).  This is a start of a new and exciting phase in the club’s life as we celebrate 30 years of running as a club!  Our meeting times are unchanged (Tuesdays and Thursdays @ 7:30pm) and Beginners will now meet at 7:30pm also.  The club will be able to enjoy use of state of the art sports facilities at this new Leeds City Council leisure centre; members will benefit use of the showers and meeting facilities as well as 20% off Bodyline membership.


 September 10, 2014  Posted by at 5:40 pm news No Responses »
Jul 242014

Le Tour de Cookridge came to a thrilling conclusion on Tuesday night with the final King of the Mountains stage.  Overall winners were Duncan Clark and Karen Garvican and full results are available here.  In all, 59 Abbeys took part over the four stages and it the event succeeded in not only being great fun, but also showing the enormous improvements some have made through training with Abbey and demonstrating the way different disciplines suit different people.  Well done to one and all!

I would encourage everyone to join in if they can next time, because there was a strong training element too, hopefully demonstrating to each of us who our training peers really are and encouraging us to be more confident about moving up a group for Tuesday sessions.

See you next year, when this Tour will definitely return to Yorkshire!

 July 24, 2014  Posted by at 10:30 am news Tagged with:  No Responses »
May 072014

Sunday 4th May 2014

By Martin Browne


I am not the right person to write this.  I really am not.  Why?  Because in the great running dichotomy between hard grey tarmacadam or wet, brown mud, I lean decidedly towards the hard stuff.  Actually I more than lean, I lie firmly down upon it.  I am a road runner (baby). Cut me and I bleed blacktop.  Running for me is about the rhythm, the even pace, the zoning out and tuning in; the eyes on the horizon.  Whereas it seems to me that off-road is a never ending, series of millisecond micro-decisions weighing up every single step, eyes fixed permanently on the ground.  It’s stop start, up down, over stiles and under branches (6ft 2 is not a good height for trail runners). It’s an opportunity for the fleet-footed and nimble, the graceful and agile to remind me how heavy, clumsy and lumpen I am.  And okay, there’s all that pretty countryside to run through, but I never see the views, because there’s no opportunity to look up because every step is a potential death trap, what with rocks and roots and holes all vying for your attention and tempting your toes to tripping.  In a nutshell, it’s stressful, not relaxing and I want my running to reduce my stress not add to it.

So what I can say about the Bluebell Trail?  Well it’s a trail. A long one.  10.3 miles to be exact although exact is what we road runners obsess about.  And there were bluebells. Loads of them.  However they were all in the last mile, which meant 9 miles of  relentless slog for one mile of beauty.  It has a hill to beat all hills, a sheer climb that takes you to Mile 4 and the first of many summits.  There is a view from the top of Beacon Hill (it’s a hill and it has a beacon, so you can see what they did there when they named it) over Halifax.  Halifax unfortunately is not worth viewing over, but there’s not much can be done about that.  And a river runs through it, but unfortunately for the ladies Brad Pitt doesn’t.  By which I mean, there is a river crossing right at the end, which despite the opportunity for maximum humiliation, was actually the bit I liked the most.

Like an ill-matched couple, Bluebell and me were never going to work out. It’s not her, it’s me.  Plenty of others will wax lyrical about her charms, but they left me cold. Her chaperones, the Stainland Lions were faultless; cheerful, encouraging, well-organised.  One was dressed as a bear in the woods and what’s not to like about a bear in the woods (and before you ask, I have no idea if he did)?  The goody bag included a Lion Bar.  That’s a good thing in my book and almost makes the whole sorry experience acceptable…almost.  I can guarantee me and Bluebell will never go on a date again, but she has so many admirers she won’t miss a curmudgeonly misanthrope like me.

If you have read this and none of it chimes with you, then you should definitely run it.  From the smiles around me on Sunday, I can guarantee you will love it.  If on the other hand, like me you are hardtop and proud, then steer clear .

Position Name Time Category Cat position Club
1 Andi Jones 1:00.09 M 1 Stockport Harriers
2 Matt Hallam 1:07.52 M 2 Abbey Runners
23 Duncan Clark 1:16.16 M50 2 Abbey Runners
29 Nicky Green 1:17.15 F40 1 Ilkley Harriers
38 Robert Rank 1:19.28 M 20 Abbey Runners
48 John Halliwell 1:21.11 M50 6 Abbey Runners
88 Martin Jones 1:28.06 M40 12 Abbey Runners
117 John Ward 1:32.06 M60 7 Abbey Runners
120 Rob Jackson 1:32.17 M45 25 Abbey Runners
183 Hilary Tucker 1:38.21 F55 1 Abbey Runners
187 Dave Rayson 1:38.34 M45 36 Abbey Runners
216 Liz Casey 1:42.52 F50 5 Abbey Runners
219 Stella Cross 1:43.12 F55 2 Abbey Runners
253 Martin Browne 1:47.28 M50 32 Abbey Runners
260 Laurence Lennon 1:48.21 M50 35 Abbey Runners
288 Sue Speak 1:51.00 F55 5 Abbey Runners
301 Sheelagh Ratcliff 1:52.15 F50 10 Abbey Runners
310 Jasmine Salih 1:54.02 F40 19 Abbey Runners
313 Jane Hallam 1:54.16 F50 12 Abbey Runners
315 Liz Willis 1:54.19 F45 14 Abbey Runners
316 Katie Taylor 1:54.19 F 21 Abbey Runners
327 Lynn Taylor 1:56.10 F45 15 Abbey Runners
410 Amanda Rhodes 2:12.20 F40 30 Abbey Runners


 May 7, 2014  Posted by at 3:43 pm race reports Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
May 052014

I’ve got 7,500 leaflets weighing down the boot of my car.  The extra weight means my gas guzzler guzzles more gas and oncoming drivers are dazzled by my headlights.  To both save the planet and prevent death or injury on the highway, it is imperative that these leaflets are given away to a good home.  And by good home, I mean, put in the hands of a finish funnel runner or under the wiper blade of a car-parked-at-the-owner’s-risk vehicle whilst the owner is gallivanting around the roads or fells of Yorkshire.

Below is a list of forthcoming races.  If you could take a bundle of leaflets to hand out at these races, not only would you ensure we get a bumper crop of entrants to the Eccup 10 this year (July 13th by the way, put it in your diary because your help will be needed on the day), you’ll be doing your bit for the environment and for the future.  Speak to me or John Ward to offer your services.  Your club, your planet (without volunteers there would be no races!)

 Date Race
Sun April 20 Guiseley Gallop
Sun April 27 Huddersfield ½ + Full Marathon
Sun May 4 Bluebell Trail
Sun May 11 Leeds Half Marathon
Sun May 18 Ripon 10 mile
Thurs May 22 Apperley Bridge Canter (ABC)
Sat May 26 Ilkley Trail Race
Sun May 27 Vets Kirkstall
Sun May 29 Wakefield ½ + Full Marathon
Wed June 11 Otley 10 mile
Sun June 15 Castle Howard 10k
Sun June 22 Pudsey 10K
Wed July 2 prov Danefield Relay
Wed July 3 YVAA 5 mile Haworth



 May 5, 2014  Posted by at 10:36 am news No Responses »
Apr 072014

The Abbey Dozen by Lynn Taylor

In the end the rain held off until most of us had crossed the line and the conditions were about as good as they get for marathon running, although perhaps a little warm for those acclimatised to long run training through the winter.

As a test of the Abbey team efficiency we failed at the first logistical hurdle, all of us being in the right place at the right time for a group photo, hence those who are Facebook fans will note there are some missing faces from the group shot.

abbey at mcr2014

Nevertheless we all made it to the start line settled into our respective pens. For a race that is fairly new on the calendar the Manchester Marathon has grown steadily and now attracts 10,000 odd entries. I’m not sure how many actually raced on the day as we’re still waiting for a full list of results to be published.  From the green pen, where I was stationed with Peter, Laurence and Dave, making up the back four, it took almost five minutes from the gun time to crossing the chip timing mats.

The race is advertised as flat and fast and it was pretty flat – the fast I guess depends on your legs and your stamina.  The route takes you from Old Trafford (where some football team is based apparently) out through Sale and Timperley to Altrincham and back to finish just outside the stadium.  For large parts of the route you can see the rest of the field running past in the opposite direction which provides an opportunity to cheer on your fellow club runners or to keep an eye on where the competition is.

The local support is great, lots of spectators offering cheers and various treats to aid you on your way.  At several points there were musical interludes to distract you from the monotony and the pain.  There were plenty of drinks stations which offered water in handy little pouches – the first time I have come across these and I thought they were really good, much better than cups and bottles.  There were timing mats at 10K, 10 mile, half marathon and 20 mile points, although I missed any race clocks along the way if they were there.  I also missed a lot of the mile markers as I’m not used to these being in white rather than yellow and they just didn’t stand out – also I may have been looking down in dropped head mode for much of the race.

In terms of organisation, as always the marshals along the route were great, the baggage store was a bit haphazard with some people waiting ages to collect their bags and others being served immediately, no seating in the changing area (which presented a challenge almost as hard as the race itself!) and, as always, long toilet queues at the start furthering those pre-race nerves.  All in all I would recommend the race for those wanting a good marathon time and not wanting to travel too far from home.

And how did the Abbey team equip themselves. Well some excellent performances from first timers and from some of the more experienced in our midst.  Some people had a good day some people have had better days, but in all it was a great team effort.

Our chip times in finishing order were:

Martin Jones 3:29:11
Mike Smith 3:41:09
Gary Brownbridge 3:43:30
Alison Smith 3:43:45
Jane Hallam 3:47:03
Martin Browne 3:56:18
Amanda McNaboe 3:56:34
Bev Benjamin 3:59:58
Lynn Taylor 4:09:52
Dave Rayson 4:11:46
Laurence Lennon 4:27:10
Peter Persico 5:05:44
 April 7, 2014  Posted by at 5:34 pm race reports Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 132013

Following last night’s AGM, there are some changes to the Club Committee for 2013-14.

Alex Grant stood down after 10 years on the committee first as Club Captain and then in the last two years as President.  Alex has done and continues to do an enormous amount for the club.  As a Race Director, he took over and grew both the Eccup 10 and the Abbey Dash, and as President he succeeded Colin Morath when ill-health prevented Colin continuing in the role.  We are all very grateful for the time and commitment Alex has put into Abbey Runners, but there is no doubt that he is due a break from committee duties!

As a result of Alex’s decision to step down, there has been a bit of change.  First, a big welcome to Greg Wetherhead, who is to be the new Mens’ Captain. Second, Andy Wicks has moved over from Men’s Captain to take over as Communications and Marketing Secretary.  And finally, Martin Browne is the new Club President.

The committee contact pages will be updated shortly to reflect the changes.

 November 13, 2013  Posted by at 2:53 pm news Tagged with:  No Responses »
Mar 282013

Sunday 24th March 2013

Kaz Ozawa


Some of you will enjoy Spring Marathon such as London Marathon and Edinburgh Marathon. Before these races I have already run a marathon in Tokyo.

About “Tokyo Arakawa River Marathon”:

This race is not “Tokyo Marathon”, which is the most famous race in Japan. “Tokyo Arakawa River Marathon” is held at the bank of the Arakawa River in March: full marathon (15,000 people) and 5Km/3Km/kids (2,500 people).

The Arakawa River is one of the principal rivers in Tokyo and the length is 173 Km. The bank is very wide, and it is used as baseball grounds, football fields, golf courses, parks and walking paths as public spaces.

I had run this race four times from 2004 to 2007 before coming to the UK. I like this race, because the venue is the nearest to my house, and there are 15 food stations, which serve banana, raisin, “onigiri” (rice ball), “an-pan” (bread containing sweet bean paste), and sherbet (ice snack, only at the point of 35Km). Also the race is still popular though Tokyo Marathon has been held since February 2007. Of course I want to run Tokyo Marathon again, but now it is very difficult because the entry rate is more than ten times.

How was the race? :

My club members participated in other races, so I was alone. On the day it was cloudy, the temperature was from 8 (9:00 am) to 11 degree C (12:00 pm), and there was almost no wind. This means a good condition for runners. The start time was 9:00 am, and I arrived at the venue at 8:10 am. There were already full of people. After I queued for toilet, changed clothes and checked my bag, I had only five minutes to start.

During running, I saw over 20 long bridges, heard loud cheers “Ganbare! (Go for it!)”, and took at each food/water station. I found a strange man. He whooped to us many times, “Don’t hurry up! Exhausted soon!” from 10 Km to 20 Km point. At last he speeded up, overtook me and repeated to shout, “I’m going! I’m a man!”

My target was 3:30 and I set 5 minutes per Km (8 minutes per mile) as my pace. I kept up this pace by 30 Km, but after that it went wrong.


My time was 3:49:34. It was 18 minutes slower than Edinburgh Marathon 2010. In Edinburgh I had energy enough to put out a last spurt, but this year I faltered out at the finish. I must say that a gap of three years was too long. But I feel happy that I have been getting away from fear of calf muscle pain, which means “psychological trauma”. I had suffered from it for two years in the UK.

I am like a countryman. I am still a bit hesitated about a lot of people. The population density of Tokyo is higher than that of London. Also the scenery is different. I have seen the background scenes in the Abbey Fb and HP. Even in winter the color of the UK (Yorkshire) is still “green”, while that of Tokyo is “pale yellow/brown” in winter.

This month is warmer than normal, and cherry blossom trees have bloomed seven to ten days earlier than usual. After the marathon I saw “Hanami”, cheery blossom viewing party at the park near the venue (Please see my post of Abbey Fb 26th March). While I was just remembering that yellow daffodil is March flower in the UK.

 March 28, 2013  Posted by at 11:37 am race reports 2 Responses »
Feb 192013

Sunday 10th February 2013

liversedge half

Jason Praill

What on earth was I doing running a half marathon?! It was snowing and in conventional terms I hadn’t actually entered the race…

I’d heard two of my work colleagues talking about Liversedge and their training. It seemed that they revered this event because any mention of the race itself seemed to be accompanied with the puffing out of cheeks and the general nervous look of men thinking they’d bitten off more than they could chew. It’s not an easy race, it is quite hilly and February is not known for its fair weather. But this is a good race and could easily be seen as a race to target in itself, or as a stamina test as part of your spring marathon training.

When one of my workmates got injured they offered me their place. I’ve been off the boil for a couple of years and certainly hadn’t been doing any training for this distance. But despite the talk of a tough course and elevated expectation I relented and accepted the challenge. The reason do it – I’m new to Leeds and new to Abbey Runners, and thought that there’s no better way to be part your club than by turning out at a road race.

The course is quite scenic – apparently! At around the 12 mile marker there was a bench looking out over the hillside, but on race day what you would see in the distance was a mystery. The sleety snow at the start had turned to a mist of drizzle by the end which felt even colder. I had a peaked cap on but during the warm up my head was freezing so I found some plastic to line the inside of my hat. Even Duncan Clark wore a long sleeved top!!

If you run this next year, you’ll probably run your fastest starting mile of any half marathon! It drops early on to really get your legs turning, keep a steady pace on the following ascent and you’ll soon be well up on your schedule. Mine was 8 minute miles and was almost two minutes up after a mile. I set my target 8 minutes for the next mile and beat it, and again and again. Each mile undulates mostly with a bit of descent to balance the climbs. There was a water station at 4 miles which offered a choice of cups or bottles. It’s one of the things that shows that this is a well run race. I’ve never had a choice before, bottles are nice if you want to receive water like in a big marathon, but I just had a small cup.

Between mile 5 and 6 there’s a sign showing a hill with 14% gradient – don’t worry, this one is in your favour! At 7 miles there’s the climb up Thornhills Beck Lane. It’s very steep for maybe half a mile I guess, it was ‘enjoyable’. There are some nice lanes afterwards to get some breath back. I answered back with a “I hope not” to a kind but mathematically challenged supporter just before 8 miles who informed me that I was nearly at half way. My comment was obviously a sign of things to come.  I wish that I had a gel for a boost because mile 9 is a little sod! A long drag of a climb, horrible! I dropped back into a small group and we worked together to the top. That effort had lowered my reserves even further. It’s undulating all the way home from here. If you are feeling good on the day you’ll get past this final test, if not, then that bench at 12 miles will be appealing!

The race finishes where it starts and there was someone on the PA announcing my name and saying that I “looked in control”, in control of what I don’t know! So in summary, it’s a really tough challenge but is a well run local race with bigger race features such as chip timing. A long sleeved T-shirt and excellent cake afterwards capped a very well run race. It’s obviously popular amongst runners – this race can fill up by Christmas so enter and treat yourself to an early present in December.

Six Abbey Runners completed the course, I think there could be more next year.

Duncan Clark  1:27 3rd M50

Andy Wicks 1:37.50 PB

Me 1:46.22

David Nahal 1:48.42

Liz Willis 1:54.34

Garry Brownbridge 1:59.45

Bruce Hetherington 2:32.50

 February 19, 2013  Posted by at 4:19 pm race reports 2 Responses »
Jan 152013

Kielder Marathon, 7th October 2012

Martin Jones

steep incline

When I entered Kielder Marathon back in March 2012 there was one question that seemed to be floating around the running forums – how hard are those hills? The answers were always the same, ‘mostly short and steep’, ‘a few big ones’, ‘adds 25 minutes to your PB’ even the official course guide doesn’t mention THAT beast of a hill at 21 miles.

I found out the hard way. I had trained specifically with this race in mind for the previous 4 months. I had run up and down hills, steep long hills, regularly as part of a hill training regime.  I had run fast half marathons as training runs, my taper had gone well and I felt the fittest I had ever been. I thought I was prepared.

I holed up in “Le Premier Inn” in Carlisle the night before. I was on my own for this one thinking that remote location, adverse weather and two young children might be a recipe for disaster (I couldn’t have been more wrong – very family friendly and sunny conditions). Setting off at 7am from Carlisle having to scrape off thick frost from my car and the fog was a little ominous although the forecast was for plenty of sun and 8C – perfect conditions. The drive across the A69 from Cumbria to the event car parks in Falstone, Northumberland was spectacular with amazing views.

There were some delays in getting all the athletes and families onto the buses to take them the 5 miles to the start and as a result the race start was delayed by 15 minutes. When we eventually arrived at Leaplish Water Park the organisation was outstanding. With the long wait, bumpy 5 mile journey and just above freezing temperatures, every over hydrated runner was now walking like they had just graduated from the Ministry of Silly Walks whilst trying to locate the toilets. Satisfyingly there were more toilets on display than at Glastonbury and this set the trend for the day – Steve Cram and his team know how to organise a marathon. The atmosphere was unlike any race I’d entered before. There were 2 radio DJ’s doing a light hearted radio commentary at the Start/Finish for all to hear. They were bantering with runners, making jokes and creating a good humoured atmosphere. Even the legendary Tony the Fridge was running hoping for a sub 5 hour time. Steve Cram was calmly walking around with his team ensuring that all the athletes were going to be able to make the start in time. Baggage drop was efficient and gels and drinks were freely available. As a side note this marathon was only £40 to enter, very good value for money compared to the entry fees to some of the ‘bigger’ marathons and the goodie bag at the end is fantastic.

If Carlsberg did race starts this would have been one of them.  Just under 1200 of us made our way to probably the most laid back start ever. No pushing past or movement really, pick anywhere to stand and without any real ceremony at 10:30am the klaxon was sounded and we were off. The first mile or so is an uphill loop on tarmac out of the park and back around to the Start/Finish section before heading out onto trail for the rest of the race.

With the painful benefit of hindsight this was, in footballing clichés a ‘game of two halves’.  I flew round the first half powering up the hills, happy that my hill training was paying off.  The hills were hard in places, some longer and steeper than others but perfectly doable. I was even getting giddy at the idea of a 3h 35m finish time – yeah right!

The whole race is marshalled and marked professionally. There are mile markers, quarter mile markers and even kilometre markers every 5K. There are more drink stations than you could possibly need and the marshals were genuinely willing every athlete past with their encouragement. At one of my lower points, running with head down and face grimacing a marshal crouched down to look me in the eyes and said “Come on keep going, you can do it!” There is even support from the yachts that where moored in the middle of Kielder water pipping their horns in support and shouting enthusiastically as all runners go past.

It was when I arrived at mile 17 that my ever tightening calf’s began to painfully and randomly cramp. They felt like they were going to explode and I could not even envisage slow jogging to the end. Even my Achilles started to feel like it was cramping and god only knows what the pain in one of my quads was about. The mental part of the race had begun so I took on more isotonic drinks and ate some sweets that contained potassium and sodium to try and stave off further cramps. You hit Kielder Dam at mile 18, a metaphor perhaps, and the hill promised shortly after, cruelly doesn’t appear until around 18.7 miles. For the first time ever in a race, half way up I started to walk, all be it a fast walk which felt completely wrong but also necessary. Other runners had started tactical walking and at the sign of the hill flattening out I set off running again. I hit 20 miles but by this stage it was now just a case of finishing at whatever cost. I couldn’t face anymore of those steep incline signs!

The banter and kindness spurred everyone on in those last 10K. There were around 10 of us in a group that were constantly passing each other as we tactically walked some hills, ran others doing just enough to get to the end. Even the smallest incline felt like an extreme effort.

You know you are nearing the end when you see the sign ‘800m to go’ as you enter a forest for the final push. I didn’t though as my head was such a mess by this stage that I read it as ‘Boom to go’ thinking it was some kind of motivational message spending the next 400m trying to fathom what it meant! They even throw in a cheeky hill for good measure but by this stage you can hear the DJ’s over the speaker system and cheering crowds clapping home runners. With 200m to go you leave the dark depths of the forest and pop out into the bright sunlight of the finishing straight with people cheering, everyone high fiving you as you go past. The commentators gee the crowd up, they shout your name out and congratulate you which will long live in the memory. It’s a pretty special finish.

The last 10K had taken me 58 minutes. I was broken, sore but smiling. I had been lured in by the first 13 miles and taught a lesson in those last 9. I felt a bit down that I had resorted to walking but despite the pain I didn’t hate running; in fact I wanted another crack at it. Other runners were also bewildered at the end – everyone was saying the same; thought they could cope with hills in first half and then wiped out in the second.

It was only later when the results came out that I discovered that I was not alone. There were some fit individuals who could run the first and second half evenly, some even negative splitting. Most runners however like me were running the second half 20 to 25 minutes slower than the first. 193 runners either don’t finish or miss the cut offs. It’s a tough run.

The tag line ‘Britain’s most beautiful’ marathon is obviously subjective but it certainly has incredible views throughout and good quality trail all the way around. The sun also helped. The key factors to this marathon though are the warmth and friendliness of the people of Northumberland and the excellent marshalling. I’d thoroughly recommend it.


(M) (1) Ceri Rees 2:39:24

(F) (1) Angela Mudge 2:59:23

(M) (182) Martin Jones  3:48:01

 Finishers: 997

 January 15, 2013  Posted by at 12:43 pm race reports 1 Response »
Jan 152013

Can you spot our beloved men’s captain, Andy Wicks, from this 1988 photo?


The answer will be revealed next week.

 January 15, 2013  Posted by at 11:12 am news Tagged with:  5 Responses »