news, race reports

Race Report: The NN Rotterdam Marathon Sunday 9th April

By Jon Laye

‘Cool, Cool, Hot, Hot, Cool’

or ‘This could be the high point of my marathon career?’

Why is it that the Netherlands, and the Dutch in general, are so very cool? I’ve only just arrived in the country and I’m on an über-fast intercity train from Schiphol Airport to Rotterdam and the train guard is apologising over the PA system for the third time that the train will be a whole 8 minutes late. And he is doing that in three different languages! How cool is that?

And then minutes later I am walking out of the massive architectural boomerang-shaped structure of ‘Rotterdam Centraal’ Station and there is the city and it is cool: modern glass and chrome skyscrapers, tasteful green urban spaces, chic young people cycling here and there on eco-friendly push bikes and oh-so-hip electric trams on manicured grass avenues swishing by. Rotterdam, man it is COOL!

The next morning I get up early and leave my hotel to just stretch my legs pre-marathon and whoa (!) there go the Kenyans on their warm-up jog – just like me. Yep, this cool thing is catching, man! Then 2 hours later, I’m queued up with 13,063 other marathon runners (and an additional 12,000 10km racers too) and BOOM, the race is started by some local troops firing an antique field cannon – how cool is that?


Within minutes all of us are running across the breath-taking Erasmus Bridge, which really is utterly awesome, and on every street corner there are large enthusiastic crowds and DJs playing ear-splitting Euro techno-techno!!! Man, this is utterly……

…..actually things are really FAR from cool. The temperature has rocketed. The sun is shining down onto the city streets and the breeze has dropped to nothing and we are all getting very, very dehydrated. The wide roads that we are running along give way to urban parkways and then paths along the canals and suddenly we are being squeezed and constricted so that I can’t run where I want nor at the speed that I want. My plan is to stick with the 3:15:00 pacers, but according to my watch, their pace setting is all over the shop. I am just about keeping up with one of the pacemakers: he is running 7:20 for one mile and then he is running 7:04 for the next mile and I am really struggling in the heat. And to make things worse my ribs are killing me and I am struggling to breathe deeply (exactly how I managed to tear most of the intercostal muscles/crack a rib or two on the left side of my ribcage precisely 7 days before race day whilst enjoying an easy jog on Ilkley Moor is a sad and sorry tale of self-induced injury – suffice it to say that retired rock climbers should not be allowed out unsupervised). All things considered, this is NOT cool.

At the 10 mile point I am revising my plan: I am just going to try to survive this race, and all thoughts of a personal best have already gone. I slow down sufficiently to entirely lose sight of the 3:15:00 pacemaker – and then all of a sudden, I am overtaken by another 3:15:00 pacemaker! What the….? How can two 3:15:00 pacemakers be separated by 5 minutes at the 11 mile mark? This is just not cool!

I am just going to have to grind this one out. At the side of the road, the Umpapa Band and their rendition of ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ is failing to lift my spirits.  Even the sight of the lovely thoughtful locals who have set up little knee-high trestle tables with platters of cheese and grapes and cups of water for the runners is not pulling me out of the sweltering black hole of suffering that I have dumped myself in. As we round a corner and cross a chip mat, video messages from family, friends and loved ones are automatically queued up on 4 enormous TV screens for us to run beneath (and the bloke next to me, collapses into sobbing hysterics as recorded footage of his kids doing a dance for the camera and singing words of encouragement is all too much).

It is NOT fun and then suddenly – whoosh, there on the other side of the road flash the Kenyans and Ethiopians en route for a 2:06:04, and I know that I am going to be out here for another 80 minutes or more and it is so very hot.

Lots of people are walking now, but at last I realize that I am on the last corner and there is just the long home straight left to go. We are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of locals politely clapping and so in a moment of madness I am frantically waving my arms at them and shouting, “Come on, I can’t hear you! COME ON, I WANT TO HEAR YOU CHEER!” The ten people behind the barrier next to me start to cheer, and then the ten people next to them, and then the twenty next to them and then the 50 next to them and then a couple of hundred and on and on! And so, like the Dutch equivalent of a Mexican wave, 100s and 100s of wonderful spectators cheer and scream and roar their loudest at me as I wobble down the home straight!! They are shouting, ‘GO JOWN, GO JOWN, GO!” and it is MY name they are mispronouncing (in a really hip kind of way) and I am laughing (because they must all think I am a celebrity or something) and I am crying my eyes out but there are no tears coming because I am so dehydrated, and I am waving and then for one delirious ecstatic moment I realize that this is probably going to be the highpoint of my marathon career. And that, I have to say is utterly, undeniably COOL!

For the record, Dutch media reported that this was the second hottest Rotterdam Marathon and the early summer weather was probably in part responsible for nearly a million people coming out to spectate.

So the question is whether I would recommend it to others? The forecast of hot weather meant that the organisers put on extra sponge points and extra water I think. And I imagine that was probably very typical of the organisation as a whole.  Everything from the registration and trade show to the actual start of the race was very busy but seemed to be well organised and really pretty slick. I noticed numerous places where kerbs had been temporarily tarmacked over to reduce the risk of runners tripping. And there were hundreds of officials and volunteers throughout. The crowds were brilliant and the route was actually quite interesting, crossing the Erasmus Bridge twice and following a canal or two, passing beneath the famous Cube Houses and alongside the amazing Market Hall and even passing a couple of windmills (which I failed to notice). On the face of it, it would seem to be a really good PB race. The route is entirely flat and should have been fast, but actually running back over the Erasmus Bridge confronts one with what seems like a massive hill. Similarly, there are a number of points where the route is very constricted. As with most big city races, it was really not possible to run at one’s own pace for the first 6 or 7 miles and unfortunately the point at which one would normally want to settle down and focus on running comfortably was that point at which the route constricted to a relatively narrow pathway where one had to run at the crowd’s speed. I am really not sure what was going on with the pacemakers, but without doubt even within the first 3 or 4 miles they were going way too fast if they were aiming for even splits. And as per usual, how in heaven’s name is it that 5 hour-plus marathon runners managed to get into the sub-3 hour race pens?? I tripped over no less than 3 (largish) women in front of me who were already jogging or even walking in the first mile and a half and causing utter chaos for all those hundreds/thousands of runners behind them trying to relax and get in to their racing pace? It seems churlish to point these things out, because that is what large marathons are like. I am not convinced this is a PB race, but in all honesty it is a very amazing marathon and I recommend it strongly. Oh, and it is also pretty cool too.


Position Name Country Cat Category Position Time Chip Time
1 Marius Kimutai Kenya MSr 1 of 2954 2:06:04 2:06:03
25 Meskerem Assefa Ethiopia FSr 1 of 1032 2:24:18 2:24:17
1580 Jon Laye UK M45 216 of 1647 3:23:26 3:22:32


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Race Report: Fleetwood Half Marathon / Trimpell 20

The Fleetwood Half Marathon, Sunday 21st August 2016 (very belated)

The Trimpell 20, Sunday 19th March 2017

Or ‘How I suffer from Runner’s Wind!


WIND! Oh how I suffer from wind when running. As runners we all must, to a lesser or greater degree I guess, but it really seems to reduce me to pedestrian stagger. One minute I am cruising along and then the next minute I am knocked for six! It may be because I am light (well, slight of frame, my mother says). Or it may be that I am a trifle top-heavy, you know: skinny legs and more dense above the waist than down below, as it were. The end result though is that the slightest breath of wind, the most innocuous breeze and my running goes to pot (now come on, you didn’t think I was referring to flatulence, did you?). No, any sort of meteorological air disturbance has an incredibly detrimental effect on my performance. Let me give you an example:


As a final long practice race before the Loch Ness Marathon last year I chose to enter the Fleetwood Half Marathon. It seemed ideal: it was flat, fast and with a limited field of entries I felt it would be a brilliant ego-massage to boost my confidence and get my brain into ‘race mode’. Now, many unkind things have been said about Fleetwood: the only good things to come out of Fleetwood are Syd Little (of Little and Large ‘fame’) and the Number 12 tram to Blackpool etc, but in all honesty, I drove there on the morning of the race with an open mind, I truly did. When I arrived I parked on the sea front by the Lower Lighthouse and peered in to the gloom before me. The view was rumoured to be stunning, with the Lakeland Fells rising majestically across the dancing blue waters of the bay. Instead, all I saw was 2 thirds of a mile of mud and a grey smear of filthy low cloud. But just because the tide was out and a bit of low cloud was lingering were no reasons to be miserable, I thought. When I got out of the car though, I couldn’t understand why salty seawater was lashing my face, until I realized that a gale force wind was blowing the distant spume of the sea across the mudflats and straight into Fleetwood. I struggled back into the car. Curses, my great enemy: WIND! And what a wind: genuine storm force slowly diminishing to gale force!! I knew that the race itself followed promenades and roadways along the edge of the beach and with a gale force onshore wind it was safe to assume that things were going to be tough. Luckily just before the start, the weather started to brighten up and things were cheerful enough as the race marshal went through his repartee (plus the lead race car had been replaced by 2 guys on ‘ElliptiGos’ elliptical bicycles: cool, very cool). And then all of a sudden we were off and within 2 minutes we were being buffeted and sideswiped and thrashed by the wind. I cannot explain the fact that at no point during a 2 lap circular race did I ever have the wind at my back!! It was just constantly either pushing me sideways or completely in my face. Very soon the whole thing descended into a weary, unproductive struggle. The race marshals did their best to keep things light-hearted, but during the second lap away from the shoreline back round the council estate again (where I passed a couple of cruising police cars) I lost the will to race. I know Fleetwood is socially and financially depressed, but many of the locals seemed to watch the hundreds of runners passing their doors with glassy-eyed disinterest. There was no cheering, no clapping, no response at all (by contrast, not long after this sorry saga, I did the Middlesbrough 10K and the crowds there were utterly awesome). During the second lap I started passing the slower runners and for each and everyone that I overtook I gave them a word of support and a cheer, and each and everyone of them looked shocked that anyone was bothered! Finally, I reached the home straight, which was back into the terrible headwind and there was the crowd, and they were noisy and cheerful. And yet, so strong was the gale, that amazingly, there were runners in front of me who would have recorded good half marathon times, but the wind had done for them and they were walking the last ¼ of a mile.


Now don’t get me wrong: the event was well organized, the marshals were excellent, and on a sunny calm day this would have been really fun. Presumably, the crowds would have thronged the streets too. I have no grounds for criticism of the event at all. But I left Fleetwood with one of the worst half marathon performances I have ever experienced, utterly exhausted and feeling miserable and extremely nervous of my forthcoming marathon. Everything was simply destroyed by my nemesis: WIND!!


Fleetwood Half Marathon 2016


Overall Position Time Bib No Name Club Category Cat position
1 01:16:45 2 Robert Affleck Preston Harriers MV40-44 1
15 01:25:46 16 Andrea Banks Jersey Spartan AC FV40-44 1
33 01:30:26 284 Jon Laye Abbey Runners MV45-49 4



So let us fast forward to last weekend and the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster. This is widely known (and is promoted) as one of the best, last long races before the Manchester/Paris/Rotterdam/London marathon. Each year about 500 northern runners enter the Trimpell 20 as an opportunity to test their race fitness and get that little ego massage before finally going for it in their chosen marathon. And that is exactly how I viewed it too. The flat and fast route follows predominantly tarmac trails along the scenic banks of the Lune with various stretches of there-and-back offering one the chance to assess how well/badly the race is progressing. The finale of the event is to finish up the steep cobbled roadway through the gatehouse and into the courtyard of Lancaster Castle. But, as I set off for Lancaster on the morning of the race the forecast for the west coast was yet again for pouring rain and 40mph winds!!!!! I gnashed my teeth and railed against Mother Nature as I tortuously drove across the Pennines through wind-whipped downpours and along axle-deep flooded roads. How could this be happening again? As if Fleetwood hadn’t been bad enough last time, I was going to have to do it all over again this year!


I arrived at Lancaster in the rain and due to too many cups of coffee and then a very long queue for the toilet, I reached the start of the race 2 minutes after the gun went off (was there a gun? If there was I didn’t hear it). But this time I had a race plan and I stuck to it! I ran the first 6 miles slowly. This gave me the opportunity to socialize. I chatted to a couple of runners (last warm-up race before London marathon) who did this route every year and who assured me that last year the weather was perfect! A couple of ladies (last warm-up race before Manchester marathon) had decided that due to the wind they would not bother pushing themselves and turn the event into a slow, long training run. And then all of a sudden there was fellow Abbey Runner Peter Persico (last warm-up race before Paris marathon) and so we spent 4 miles talking and enjoying what was turning into quite a nice morning despite the wind. After bidding farewell to Peter at the 6 mile mark, I ‘revved up the engine’ and increased to my full marathon pace or just a smidgeon faster for the rest of the race. And it was great! I relaxed and just enjoyed passing people and keeping to the right cadence and despite the very wet and in places muddy tracks the whole event was great fun. And on the way back there was Peter looking strong and not far behind him another Abbey, Lisa Hitchen who I must have passed earlier on but never noticed.


And what about the wind, I hear you ask? Well I found that I was so relaxed that it just didn’t bother me at all. The sheltered nature of the trails meant that we were rarely open to the wind itself. And where the headwind hit us I noted that I was better equipped (or running significantly stronger) than those around me to simply plough on regardless. By mile 19 I had achieved all I wanted and so I backed off the pace and ran with some runners (last warm-up race before Blackpool marathon) who I helped push up the final hill to Lancaster Castle and the finish line.


As an event, I can strongly recommend it. If in the future you need the perfect last warm up before entering spring marathon-X, then this really could be just what you need. It was well organised, enthusiastically marshalled and had a really nice atmosphere. I enjoyed the novelty of collecting my bib number from a race organizer ensconced in a prison cell within the Castle (race HQ was located in the old prison). In places the trails were a bit narrow for runners passing each other in different directions especially when sharing the path with Sunday dog walkers (and a preponderance of Huskies….is Lancaster the cultural capital for Siberian Husky dogs and their owners?), and some may feel that the final hill is a bit much (a friend of mine whilst living in Lancaster used to use the road featured as the last ½ mile of the Trimpell 20 route for his habitual hill sessions; yes, that’s how steep it is!) but these are very minor points.


I headed back to the car (in another downpour) and with the wind gusting around me and realized that of all the things to worry about whilst running, wind is just not worth a second thought. Its not like you can change it, so relax. After all, we all suffer it, and frankly if you can’t laugh about a bit of WIND then you are probably a bit too serious to enjoy running. Ah, but flatulence, now that’s a different matter entirely!


Trimpell 20 2017


Overall Position Actual Time Bib No Surname Club Category Cat Position
1 01:55:53 671 Blain Rooney Ellenborough M 1
15 02:09:05 601 Michelle Nolan Gateshead Harriers F35 1
149 02:38:09 514 Jon Laye Abbey Runners MV45 18
299 03:08:10 632 Peter Persico Abbey Runners M 87
452 03:40:50 445 Lisa Hitchen Abbey Runners FV40 35


news, race reports

Race Review Dewsbury 10K Sunday 5th February 2017

By Jon Laye

One of the most important ‘Golden Rules of Competitive Running’ is ‘ensure that you get to the race start-line fit’. Whilst this is true, I think an even more important ‘Golden Rule’ should be ‘it is even more important just to get to the start-line at all’, as I discovered at Sunday’s Dewsbury 10K. I am ashamed to say that I have never run the Dewsbury 10K before. Which sort of explains all of the following.

Where exactly is Dewsbury? I mean, I know where it is on a map. And indeed, tracing the route to Dewsbury with my finger across the page of an old AA road atlas seemed straight forward enough. The directions were simple: start in north Leeds, head to Ikea (inward groan), go straight past Ikea (inward cheer) then kind of straight-on a bit, then turn off and there you are. Easy.

But on Sunday morning, as I drove off to Dewsbury without a map or the relevant ‘App’ things all got a bit confusing once I waved farewell to Ikea. I ended up going through Heptonthwaite and down a lane to Slaithton and via Sowerstallingbridge and then around the corner to Mytholmstackheighley and Clattersgatting. And very soon, I realised that, with the exception of Cleckhuddersfax, I had visited just about every minor conurbation in the region without actually reaching Dewsbury. Down circuitous lanes I followed signs to Huddersfield, then up cobbled winding streets I sped searching for signs to Halifax. I thought I was back on the correct route until I realised that the roundabout I had finally discovered was actually a bit of waste ground in the middle of the road near Heckmondwike! Dewsbury seemed to have simply slipped beneath the surface and into the depths of the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’.

I had all but given up on the race itself when purely by chance I finally I arrived at Dewsbury with a few minutes to spare and just long enough to warm-up. But I think it is fair to say that I had started to dread the race itself. If the race route was anything like my journey to Dewsbury it would entail narrow winding snickets, the odd tortuous alleyway, a few roughly paved ginnels and 10kms of opportunities to get completely lost.

I am pleased to report however, that I could not have been more wrong!!! The race started on the widest dual carriageway I had seen for several hours and then the route followed a broad open road all the way to Batley, around a traffic cone or 2 and then straight back whence it had come with barely a corner en route. And frankly it was brilliant! From the moment the announcer gathered all the runners together with his banter, followed by the moving minute’s silence in remembrance of a local lady killed in traffic accident the day before, excellent race marshals with pompoms, right through to the day-glow pink T-shirts handed out by volunteers, the Dewsbury 10K was a wonderful experience!

One of the pleasures of doing a there and back route (apart from not being able to get lost) is the opportunity of seeing the really fast guys and girls whistle past you at speed. But also you get to cheer on all the Abbey Runners as you see them en route too. And as a consequence, I was able to enjoy some really excellent Abbey performances. I think sixteen other Abbey Runners attended (there could have been more but perhaps they got lost within deepest darkest Kirkstonthwaitehebbleton on the way to Dewsbury). Forgive me for not naming everyone, but especially noteworthy were Simon (36:36) and Sam (1:14:10) who dovetailed our team efforts. Well done to them both.

Howard and John ran brilliantly. I only just caught up with them at the halfway point of the race and neither of them appeared to be struggling with the pace. Congratulations are especially due to John for coming first within his age category. Similarly, Rob raced superbly; when I saw him hurtling back down the hill on the return leg he was absolutely flying and deservedly recorded an impressive sub 37:00. Afterwards he was his usual overtly demonstrative self: he smiled and said he was ‘quite chuffed.’ Hot on his heels over the finish line was Duncan who still seems to be able scream around these races and came an excellent 2nd in his age category. Sunny has demonstrated a remarkable improvement over the last few seasons and sprinted home with a notable time of 40:43. His enthusiasm is a lesson to us all! Meanwhile well done to Claire the first female Abbey to cross the line!

Personally, my race time was nothing special. I started the race really quite slowly by dithering about, automatically setting off in marathon training mode, but reached the halfway point feeling fresh and so started to speed up. By the end of the fourth mile I was really beginning to enjoy myself. I finished fast, still with plenty of gas in the tank (which is not a recommended race tactic to be honest) but also with a massive smile on my face so that frankly I didn’t care how quickly I had run the route. What excellent fun it all was….I just had to get back home to Leeds now!

So, I learned two new lessons on Sunday.

‘Golden Rule of Competitive Running Number 1’: Know how to get to the race BEFORE you set off.

‘Golden Rule of Competitive Running Number 2’: If you are going to run a race then you might as well make sure you finish it with a smile on your face!!


I recommend the Dewsbury 10K (if you can find it)!

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PECO XC League 2016/2017 Race 1: Temple Newsam

By Jon Laye
As a child I did not like sprouts!

Hang on, just bear with me on this, the relevance to running will soon become apparent. So, where was I?

Oh, yes, as a child I hated Brussel sprouts. It really made no difference that my parents told me how good they were for me and that eating sprouts would make me strong. I felt no obligation to eat them even when I realized how much effort had gone into preparing and cooking them. The fact that they were served up as a welcome seasonal variation to all the other vegetables that I suffered throughout the year made no difference whatsoever. And the concept that they should be eaten simply because it was traditional in the winter seemed utterly insane to me! I just did not like them and that was it!!!

But then on Christmas Day 1983, I ate a sprout (under duress obviously) and I had an epiphany! The taste, the subtle yet bold piquancy, the texture! Oh yes, I discovered the joy of sprouts! And frankly I have never looked back. Par-boiled sprouts, al dente steamed sprouts, fried in butter with smoked bacon, curried or simply smeared in wholegrain mustard; oh Brussel sprouts, how could I have ever denied my adoration?

Yes, well anyway, before I forget myself entirely, let me come to the point: I think the love of sprouts is probably a bit like the love of PECO cross-country races. You either like them or you don’t. Judging by the large Abbey contingent (over 60 runners) that squelched their way around the fields and woodland of Temple Newsam amongst in excess of a 1000 like-minded folk, both young and old, there are a lot of cross-country devotees about. They obviously appreciate that just like eating sprouts, cross-country running makes you stronger. They also appreciate the care and hard work required for the preparation of the PECO races. Similarly, they must know that running through cold mud is an excellent means to vary ones running calendar. And on top of this all those cross-country runners appreciate that (just like the eating of Brussel sprouts) it should be engaged in simply because it is traditional at this time of year!

And good for them! Indeed, there were many notable Abbey performances at Temple Newsam this weekend and clearly too many to mention all individually. Unfortunately, I missed the junior events (I was too busy trying to triple-tie my laces in a cunning fashion such that they would magically undo at the mile and a half mark of the course), but strong performances were seen from the club. The elite adults amongst our club were impressively strong too (Aiden Curley seems to be getting faster and faster and will soon be finishing races before they have even started, which means that within a month or two he won’t have to bother turning up at all), whilst many of us felt privileged to watch Michaela Clark glide around the course in an excellent time. A welcome return to racing was made by Gareth Cavill who despite not running for a year, elegantly cruised round Temple Newsam and still recorded a really fast time (it’s enough to make you sick isn’t it). And as ever it was a pleasure to see Graeme Littlewood perform his sprint finish (judging by the response of all the numerous different club supporters, I get the feeling that these have become a crowd favorite at all Leeds running events).

But, what about me? Well, unlike my love of sprouts, I utterly hate cross-country running. I keep turning up when I can, but I am still waiting for that magical epiphany when suddenly I ‘get it’. John Ward despairs of me! I am desperately hoping for the moment when I suddenly realize that just like Brussel sprouts, cross-country running is to be savored, enjoyed and possibly even embraced! But so far I just get cold, or wet, or injured, or all of the above. So I might see you at the next PECO, or I might be at home cooking up a sprout lasagna with crusty croutons and a cheeky crème chou de Bruxelles!

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Race report: The SSE Airtricty Dublin Marathon Sunday 30th October 2016

By Jon Laye

…………Or ‘from the Sublime to the Ridiculous’

In Dublin’s fair city,

Autumnal and pretty,

I first ran a race at a sensible pace.

Along the banks of the Liffey,

Despite knees feeling ‘iffy’

Stinging tendons and muscles, I survived, alive-O!

(All together now) Stinging tendons and muscles, I survived….etc.


Many of you will know that I ran the sublimely beautiful Loch Ness Marathon recently. However, months before I booked a place on the Dublin marathon as a backup just in case I was unable to run at Loch Ness due to injury or illness. And so with the beauty and magic of running through the Scottish Highlands still fresh in my mind, I enthusiastically packed my bags and flew off to Ireland to get my second fix of marathon running within a month. I had been suffering a feeling of unshakable weariness whenever I ran over the last few weeks and so as I set off to the airport I decided to ignore any pressure to race hard and instead relax and enjoy the event.


What I wasn’t prepared for was the immense scale of the spectacle. For the first time the organizers had rescheduled the race for a Sunday, and with a Bank Holiday due the following day the whole of Dublin had a carnival-like feel. In addition, the Sunday timetabling had resulted in over-subscription of the race and a massive influx of foreign runners instantly promoting Dublin into the top 5 biggest European marathons. So on a beautiful crisp autumnal morning, I toed the line with 19,499 other runners and soon found myself shuffling along through the streets of Dublin.


It was only after nearly 8 miles that the scrum of runners had spread out sufficiently to allow me to run in a relaxed fashion. This was a crazy contrast to Loch Ness where at some points I found myself running with no more than 2 other runners! However, it was a lovely morning and I managed to tag onto a group of runners gathered around the 3:20 pacemakers.


If I was a little shocked at the number of runners, that was nothing to my surprise at the sheer quantity of Dubliners who turned out in the sun to enthusiastically roar their support. The crowds were immense throughout! At various points the noise was so loud I found it impossible to concentrate on running! Ridiculous. And the locals demonstrated a delightful mix of genuine kind-hearted support and Irish wit throughout. I found myself keeping an eye-out for the funny banners at the roadside, such as the following proffered by a young lady:

Me: Coffee, cake, toenails,

You: Pain, suffering, free banana.


By mile 13 I had overtaken the 3:20 pacemakers but found that my will to maintain a faster pace was marred by the constant desire to stop and laugh with the crowds (plus a feeling of exhaustion, I hasten to add). Finally, at the deafening 25 mile mark the lead 3:20 pacemaker caught up with me: he was running backwards enthusing those around him to keep up the pace and keep smiling. I thanked him for his amazing efforts at which he hugged me and told me to get a move on, and so I did. I surged away and completed the last section of the race at significantly faster than any of the previous miles. The ridiculous contrast between the two marathons (Loch Ness and Dublin) was really what made the whole thing so pleasurable!


The last word should really go to the lovely young lady who served me an all-day breakfast in a café post-race. She saw my race tee shirt and asked if I had done the marathon and I replied yes.

“You ARE amazing!” she warmly responded. “How long did it take you?”

“Just under 3 hours and twenty minutes”

“Jeez, that is incredible! And it was an extra-long one this year too!”


“Well, it wasn’t a short marathon, it was an extra-long one wasn’t it?”

“It was 26.2 miles.”

“Holey shite! And you ran that in 3 hours…..there’s no way I could do that. If I ever enter a marathon it would have to be a short one. A very, very, very short one so I could do it in a few minutes, like in my lunch break.”


Utterly ridiculous! And yet entirely in keeping with the genuine regard and warmth the people of Dublin demonstrated throughout the marathon. They turned the whole thing into a truly wonderful occasion.


It just goes to show that the transition from sublime to ridiculous is not necessarily a bad thing at all.


Name Chip time Overall Position Category Cat position
Debele Tulu 02:12:18 01 MS 01
Helali Johannes 02:32:32 24 F35 01
Jon Laye 03:18:47 1423 M45 160
Rombalds Romp

Rombalds Romp 2016 – Results



Pos Race No. First Name Last Name Cat Club Trail / Fell Time
1 137 Vargas Michael MSEN Hyde Park Harriers Trail 50:47:00
2 38 Hemsley Jason M40 Wharfedale Harriers Fell 53:32:00
3 156 Hartley Ben MSEN Hyde Park Harriers Trail 53:46:00
4 18 Bolanos David MSEN U/A Fell 53:58:00
5 4 Curley Aidan M40 Abbey Runners Fell 54:27:00
6 141 Watson Scott MSEN Hyde Park Harriers Trail 54:40:00
7 30 Smith Gavin MSEN Skipton AC Fell 54:51:00
8 3 Crossley Nathan M50 Horsforth Harriers Fell 55:01:00
9 17 Webber-Cross Geoff MSEN Chapel Allerton RC Fell 55:27:00
10 101 Allison David M40 Chapel Allerton RC Trail 56:06:00
11 33 Hutchinson Jamie M40 Ilkley Harriers Fell 56:40:00
12 161 Richardson Matthew MSEN U/A Trail 57:27:00
13 112 Greenland Rob M40 U/A Trail 57:36:00
14 157 Everett Simon M40 U/A Trail 57:45:00
15 159 Cook Chris MSEN U/A Trail 58:08:00
16 136 Sutor Richard MSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 58:56:00
17 102 Bell Aaron MSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 59:56:00
18 29 Oddy Nicky M40 Skipton AC Fell 01:00:10
19 24 McGeever Phil M50 Horsforth Harriers Fell 01:00:40
20 113 Gregory Oliver MSEN Farsley Flyers Trail 01:01:10
21 19 Wardle Patrick MSEN Skipton AC Fell 01:01:19
22 31 Turner Ronnie M50 Rossendale Harriers Fell 01:01:20
23 23 White Steve M50 Holcombe Harriers Fell 01:02:07
24 10 Murray-Gourlay Alice FSEN Kirkstall Harriers Fell 01:02:20
25 5 de Roux Garth M40 Horsforth Harriers Fell 01:02:35
26 6 Jovanovic Nicky MSEN Airecentre Pacers Fell 01:02:39
27 35 Cooper Duncan M40 Ilkley Harriers Fell 01:03:20
28 117 Harrold Brian MSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:03:21
29 26 Price Andrew MSEN Baildon Runners Fell 01:03:32
30 108 Disney Paul M40 Saltaire Striders Trail 01:03:36
31 140 Warden Robin M40 U/A Trail 01:03:46
32 21 Blemings Robert MSEN St Theresas AC Fell 01:03:55
33 20 Fairburn Neil M50 Baildon Runners Fell 01:04:13
34 127 Leedham Garry M40 Pudsey Pacers Trail 01:04:29
35 40 Starkey Dan MSEN U/A Fell 01:05:01
36 37 Stephens Paul M50 Ilkley Harriers Fell 01:05:26
37 16 Walmsley Nicola F35 Chapel Allerton RC Fell 01:05:31
38 34 Shepherd Tony M50 Wharfedale Harriers Fell 01:06:09
39 121 Jackson Niamh F35 Kirkstall Harriers Trail 01:06:21
40 154 Simkins Paul M40 U/A Trail 01:06:30
41 129 Miller Vicky F35 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:06:40
42 135 Strutt Brad MSEN Pudsey Pacers Trail 01:07:04
43 104 Calver Robert M40 Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:07:38
44 123 Keegan Des MSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:07:42
45 147 McWilliams Glen M50 Northumberalnd Fell Runners Trail 01:08:05
46 126 Lavelle-Wood Emma F35 Kirkstall Harriers Trail 01:08:18
47 2 Challinor Andy M40 Horsforth Fellandale Fell 01:08:36
48 152 Ellis Christian M40 U/A Trail 01:08:59
49 133 Pattinson Angela F45 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:09:12
50 142 Webster Jane F45 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:09:25
51 28 Welsh Ewan M40 U/A Fell 01:09:31
52 128 Mellor David M40 St Theresas AC Trail 01:09:55
53 22 Wilkinson Jeremy M40 Calder Valley Fell Runners Fell 01:10:03
54 103 Booth David M50 U/A Trail 01:10:18
55 27 House Matthew MSEN Keighley & Craven AC Fell 01:10:22
56 13 Smillie Martin M50 FRA Fell 01:11:20
57 151 Nesbitt Stephen M40 Harrogate Harriers & AC Trail 01:11:30
58 39 Freeman Helen FSEN U/A Fell 01:11:50
59 14 Smith Beverley F45 Horsforth Harriers Fell 01:13:05
60 25 Blackburn Serena F45 Horsforth Harriers Fell 01:13:08
61 110 Duckett Theresa F45 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:13:39
62 11 Park Keith M60 Horsforth Harriers Fell 01:13:44
63 32 Myers Rob M60 Baildon Runners Fell 01:13:47
64 158 Griffiths Ian M40 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:14:25
65 125 Kovalsky González Dveirel F35 Pudsey Pacers Trail 01:14:41
66 144 Whiteman Jen FSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:15:06
67 160 McGeachy Denise F35 Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:15:10
68 114 Grindley Paul M50 Airecentre Pacers Trail 01:15:15
69 155 Rider Lucy F35 Hyde Park Harriers Trail 01:15:48
70 116 Harrold Anna FSEN Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:15:58
71 139 Voelcker Clare F45 U/A Trail 01:16:19
72 120 Hurst Bev F45 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:16:35
73 41 Record Matthew MSEN U/A Fell 01:17:22
74 118 Hobson Mark MSEN U/A Trail 01:18:38
75 153 Ellis Trudy F35 Horsforth Harriers Trail 01:19:06
76 1 Breeze Graham M70 Wharfedale Harriers Fell 01:20:19
77 146 White Carol F45 Holcombe Harriers Trail 01:20:45
78 106 Dickens Paul MSEN Hyde Park Harriers Trail 01:21:02
79 150 Cullen Sophie F35 St Theresas AC Trail 01:21:34
80 130 Muir Marion F35 Kirkstall Harriers Trail 01:21:57
81 148 Richardson Donald MSEN Horsforth Fellandale Trail 01:23:19
82 111 Fearnley Rob MSEN Otley AC Trail 01:23:32
83 12 Shepherd Tanya FSEN Horsforth Fellandale Fell 01:25:02
84 124 Kidner Ralph M60 Hyde Park Harriers Trail 01:27:51
85 162 Esquivel Muelbeit Adrianne FSEN U/A Trail 01:30:38
86 9 Metcalfe Daniel MSEN Horsforth Fellandale Fell 01:33:42
87 149 Thrippleton Karen F45 TRA Trail 01:36:32
88 132 Owen Kath F35 Chapel Allerton RC Trail 01:39:36
89 119 Hulme Susan F45 Airecentre Pacers Trail 01:41:45
90 131 Murby Bernadette F35 Airecentre Pacers Trail 01:41:46
91 105 Clarkson Natalie FSEN Airecentre Pacers Trail 01:41:47
92 107 Dickinson Rebecca F35 Pudsey Pacers Trail 01:41:47
93 122 Jones Gill F60 Eccleshill Road Runners Trail 01:45:02
news, race reports

Race report: The Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon, Sunday 25th September 2016

By Jon Laye


Back in January I finally committed to racing my first marathon. I chose the Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon because it has a hugely positive reputation. It is famous for being amongst the most beautiful courses in the country and it has the benefit of boasting nearly 10 miles of descent in the first half of the route! Starting way up on a mountainside east of Fort Augustus at just over 1000ft above sea level, the route, which is entirely on closed roads plunges down to the southern shoreline of Loch Ness at almost sea level, which it then follows until finally reaching the picturesque Highland metropolis of Inverness. Having said that, the marathon is also renowned for not exactly being a push-over: the extensive descent (which in places is actually shockingly steep) is notorious for destroying runners’ legs long before they are faced with a mile-long climb up the foothills before a final descent to civilization!


Despite this, I journeyed to Inverness in a confident mood. Much of my training had focused on long descents plus finishing my long runs with suitable climbs to simulate the actual event. Throughout my training I had really concentrated on trying to refuel on energy gels and drinking sufficient water to maintain my speed during my long runs. I knew that on race day as long as I wasn’t stupid enough to ignore refueling and rehydrating I would finish (and possibly even with a smile on my face)!


On the morning of the race I joined just under 3500 other runners at Bught Park beside the River Ness in the outskirts of Inverness from where we were transported in a fleet of over 50 coaches to the start of the route. Once deposited on the windswept mountainside the whole event started to become a bit of a reality check for me. It was freezing cold and damp, and yet morale remained high as we all gathered together and shuffled around shivering like penguins in a polar storm. And then suddenly the skies cleared, the sun shone and a beautiful rainbow appeared just as the Highland pipers marched down the road raising our spirits ready for the race. I just had time to warm up when all of a sudden we were off! And what a start! Within minutes I really had to apply the brakes because the descent was monumental; we were flying! I remember trying to stay calm and pace myself but this seemed almost impossible as mile after mile we plunged down to the Loch.


Everyone knows about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, but personally I have always been very skeptical. But now I know it exists! Because I have confronted this monster and it is terrifying and can reduce a (relatively-fit) runner to a trembling, exhausted, hollow-eyed wreck!! I really hadn’t expected to confront the monster as a consequence of energy gels, but I suppose reclusive mythological beasts rarely behave in a predictable fashion. At the first nutrition station I grabbed an energy gel as supplied by the race sponsors and gulped it down. Granted, this was not the normal brand that I use, but I had successfully tried several of their products before, but I did not expect the immediate result: a wave of nausea, uncontrollable retching followed by stomach cramps! At the second energy gel station I tried again but just a small slurp of the energy gel resulted in the same immediate response!! Here the monster raised its ugly head and in a mocking tone gurgled at me, ‘No nutritional input for ye on this marathon, laddie!’


The horror of this hit me at about mile 15. I had passed the half way point in relative comfort in just over 90 minutes, but panic set in followed by that horrible feeling that I now know all marathon runners get: this is going to be a battle regardless. But the prospect of no energy gels completely destroyed me. I can’t remember hitting a specific wall, but from mile 17 onwards I was running through treacle and my guts were hurting so much that I could not breath. Again and again the Loch Ness Monster made me suffer! When we reached the hill, the monster climbed onto my back and reduced me to a shuffling wretch! On the descent into Inverness the monster dragged along behind me reducing me to a crawl! I crossed the line at some point that afternoon and swore never to run again, ever. Ten minutes later I started to rationalize and realized the error of not carrying my own gel supplies, especially when I had become so reliant upon them over the last 5 months of training. I also realized that I rapidly needed some food, and only after eating a banana and 3 chocolate bars did my feeling of terrible disappointment start to lift. And then as the Loch Ness Monster slowly slipped away back into the River Ness to swim back upstream to its home in the Loch, I finally started to smile.


What an amazing marathon to complete. I was vaguely aware of some of the beautiful scenery. I have a fuzzy recollection of enthusiastic crowds at each and every small village on the route followed by hundreds of people in Inverness. The weather was great (I think) with rain showers only blowing in later in the afternoon. The organization was really very good and I can confirm that the Loch Ness Marathon does indeed live up to its reputation.


Would I return to run this race again? My immediate response would be ‘Yes’, but then I think of that fearful, black, oily creature lurking in the cold, dark depths of the Loch casting its beady eye in my direction again, and I think ‘Perhaps the York Marathon sounds safer!’


Name Club Position Gun Time Chip Time Gender Position Cat. Position M40
Jon Laye Abbey Runners 157 03:22:15 03:21:51 148 46
news, race reports

Race Results – 14-Aug-16

Yorkshire Vets AA Grand Prix Race 6, Halifax Results – 2016 August 10

Name Cat Time Points
Jane Oughton F55 54:37:00 101
John Ward M60 44:18:00 143
Ian Patchett M50 44:21:00 142

West Yorkshire 5  2016 August 14***GRAND PRIX EVENT

Pos Name Category CatPos Gun Time Chip Time
19 Duncan Clark M50 3/37 00:31:40 00:31:39
41 Martin Jones M40 9/39 00:34:45 00:34:40
58 John Ward M60 3/15 00:35:52 00:35:48
66 Ian Patchett M50 12/37 00:36:18 00:36:14
76 James Whittaker M40 13/39 00:37:21 00:37:16
77 Michaela Clark F35 5/44 00:37:26 00:37:22
88 Alison Smith F35 8/44 00:38:17 00:38:13
114 Graeme Littlewood M40 23/39 00:41:12 00:41:03
121 Peter Badkin M50 26/37 00:41:48 00:41:38
135 Jasmine Salih F35 15/44 00:42:44 00:42:33
141 James Balkwill M40 29/39 00:43:05 00:42:56
192 Lisa Hitchen F35 29/44 00:46:57 00:46:46

news, race reports

401 Challenge – Marathon 339

Leeds leg for 401 marathon

Ben Smith, started out last September on his mission to run 10.506.2 miles – the distance form Bristol to Sydney. He wants to raise £250,000 for anti-bullying work by charities Kidscape and Stonewall as he suffered bullying at school.
On 4th August – Marathon 339 was organised by Abbey Runners.
There was a good turnout for both the morning and afternoon session,
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