news, race reports

The Trinidad Alfonso EDP Maratón Valencia 19.11.17

By John Laye

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona, and is famous for a number of reasons: it is one of the earliest Spanish colonial settlements of the Romans (founded in 138BC), subsequent occupation of the city by Moroccan and Arab Moors has resulted in a beautiful mixture of both Catholic and Muslim influenced architecture and the locals enjoy extended festivals amongst which the ‘Fallas’ are most celebrated (five days of street partying, fireworks and paella). Oh, and Valencia has a football team apparently!?

But in my humble opinion what Valencia should really be famous for is its UTTERLY AMAZING Marathon!!

So, if you haven’t ever thought of entering a big city international marathon here is my pitch to sell you Valencia as the perfect race:
As a modern tourist destination Valencia is beautiful, has lots of accommodation and it boasts a good local airport within 20 minutes’ taxi ride of the city centre.
The Marathon is run alongside the 10K race and so the whole event attracts 1000s of runners, giving it a bit of a buzz.
The race event is well organized and extremely well marshaled.
The people of Valencia throng the streets and are very noisy in their support. Lots of bands, DJs and 1000s of supporters keep the runners motivated and enthusiastic. Towards the end of the race the crowds are deafening.

So far all these positive points could be made for numerous marathons across Europe. But here are the very best bits of the race:

The race route is flat: very flat! Consequently, it is very, very fast indeed. The 2017 race was won by Sammy Kitwara of Kenya, in a rather quick time of 2:05:15 which stands as the fastest marathon time in Spain.
The marathon is hosted in the autumn, which means in Valencia, dry, sunny, mild weather. Despite the sun getting a little warm by midday, the running conditions are lovely compared to the November weather experienced in the UK.
There is a massive international field (18,000), with runners from many different countries. However, the runners are overwhelmingly Spanish and incredibly friendly. I was really impressed with the number of runners who wanted to communicate knowing full well that we didn’t speak the same language. Not once did I detect anything but kindness and enthusiasm from the runners or the locals.
The start and finish of the marathon are brilliant! The start is a galloping charge across the Montovilet Bridge (one side of the dual carriage way for the marathon, the other side for the 10K race), whilst the finish is a descent down a ramp off the streets, a sprint round the outside of the Museum and Arts Centre to the a final home straight across a bright blue pontoon bridge built over an artificial lagoon(see photo below)!

Personally, I thought the event was a wonderful experience. Running a marathon at close to one’s limit is never entirely pleasurable but for me the Valencia Marathon was as close to being enjoyable as it is possible to get! I achieved a PB (and pretty comfortably too) and felt the only limiting factor was perhaps the heat of the sun during the final hour of the race. To get a pretty accurate impression of the whole event I recommend that you should view the Official Race Video which can be found on the Valencia Marathon website.


Park Run Results – 26th August 2017

This is a list of members of Abbey Runners Leeds who participated at a parkrun on 2017-08-26. The first runner home for each gender is included/emboldened, regardless of club, for reference purposes. The list is presented by parkrun and contains every member registered with us that participated.

Woodhouse Moor parkrun

A total of 417 runners took part.

View full results for Woodhouse Moor parkrun event #523


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Nick GASKELL Trawden AC 00:16:53
10 10 Robert VINCENT Abbey Runners Leeds 00:18:43
50 1 Mairi BLANKENSTEIN Edinburgh AC 00:20:53
159 140 Clive WALTON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:25:23
198 32 Liz WILLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:23
206 173 Adam ELLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:47
229 48 Jane OUGHTON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:54
263 66 Katharine SCOTT Abbey Runners Leeds 00:29:16
304 218 Euan SCOTT Abbey Runners Leeds 00:31:09
361 236 Connor CLARK Abbey Runners Leeds 00:35:26
369 238 Samuel H BLACK Abbey Runners Leeds 00:36:39
397 152 Michaela CLARK Abbey Runners Leeds 00:40:41
398 246 Jack CLARK Abbey Runners Leeds 00:40:42


Roundhay parkrun

A total of 339 runners took part.

View full results for Roundhay parkrun event #331


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Ross ARMSTRONG Abbey Runners Leeds 00:18:13
14 1 Suzzi GARNETT Steel City Striders RC 00:20:25
57 52 Matt ELLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:23:02
147 31 Ange ELLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:56
150 119 Benjamin NURSE Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:16
217 58 Helen NURSE Abbey Runners Leeds 00:29:40


Temple Newsam parkrun

A total of 149 runners took part.

View full results for Temple Newsam parkrun event #235


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Terry MIDGLEY St Theresa’s AC 00:18:20
18 1 Rebecca SCALES Unattached 00:23:50
68 54 Dave BESTON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:55


Southwark parkrun

A total of 292 runners took part.

View full results for Southwark parkrun event #204


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 James TIDD Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC 00:17:12
15 1 Lily GREGORY Unattached 00:19:30
156 43 Laura BEESLEY Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:45
157 114 David BEESLEY Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:46


Wetherby parkrun

A total of 129 runners took part.

View full results for Wetherby parkrun event #109


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Tim STREET Holmfirth Harriers AC 00:17:54
22 22 Craig KENT Abbey Runners Leeds 00:20:44
23 1 Jennifer WHITEMAN Chapel Allerton Runners 00:20:54


Fell Foot parkrun, Newby Bridge

A total of 333 runners took part.

View full results for Fell Foot parkrun, Newby Bridge event #138


Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Rob SCOTT Richmond & Zetland Harriers 00:16:50
33 1 Elsie ROBERTS Hoad Hill Harriers 00:22:04
70 10 Alison SMITH Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:07

Abbey Club Run – Report (19th August 2017)

This is a list of members of Abbey Runners Leeds who participated at a parkrun on 2017-08-19. The first runner home for each gender is included/emboldened, regardless of club, for reference purposes.

Woodhouse Moor parkrun

A total of 399 runners took part.

View full results for Woodhouse Moor parkrun event #522

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Ciaran FORDE Horsforth Harriers 00:17:30
20 1 Hayley LLOYD-HENRY Prestwich AC 00:20:05
122 104 Andrew WICKS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:25
144 121 Clive WALTON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:25:04
200 48 Lucy COHEN Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:06
211 51 Sophie HODKINSON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:29

Basingstoke parkrun

A total of 519 runners took part.

View full results for Basingstoke parkrun event #494

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Alexander HAMILTON Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC 00:16:51
42 1 Mitch LLOYD Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC 00:21:04
139 16 Daisy MOORE Abbey Runners Leeds 00:25:03


Bradford parkrun

A total of 415 runners took part.

View full results for Bradford parkrun event #376

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Alexander FLAHERTY Bingley Harriers and AC 00:18:00
21 1 Sarah FLAHERTY Bingley Harriers and AC 00:21:08
105 90 Martin BROWNE Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:55

Rothwell parkrun

A total of 218 runners took part.

View full results for Rothwell parkrun event #4

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Daryl HIBBERD Valley Striders AC 00:18:10
7 7 Duncan CLARK Abbey Runners Leeds 00:19:46
23 23 John WARD Abbey Runners Leeds 00:22:15
30 1 Lydia BARKER Rothwell & District Harriers 00:22:49
35 34 James WHITTAKER Abbey Runners Leeds 00:23:10
40 38 Matt ELLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:23:46
41 39 Peter PERSICO Abbey Runners Leeds 00:23:55
48 46 Ian PATCHETT Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:09
57 4 Alison SMITH Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:47
61 56 James BALKWILL Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:56
62 57 Michael SMITH Abbey Runners Leeds 00:24:57
75 69 Graeme LITTLEWOOD Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:04
82 74 Adam ELLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:26:33
104 24 Liz WILLIS Abbey Runners Leeds 00:28:04
169 61 Kieren BALKWILL Abbey Runners Leeds 00:34:22

Roundhay parkrun

A total of 313 runners took part.

View full results for Roundhay parkrun event #330

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Unknown ATHLETE Unattached 00:18:26
7 1 Camilla WEST Serpentine RC 00:19:57
16 15 Ross ARMSTRONG Abbey Runners Leeds 00:20:50
225 146 Bernard FOSTER Abbey Runners Leeds 00:31:44

Mile End parkrun

A total of 273 runners took part.

View full results for Mile End parkrun event #290

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 George KING Winchester and District AC 00:17:06
10 10 Stephen GREENE Abbey Runners Leeds 00:19:04
11 1 Annie BYRNE Unattached 00:19:08


Temple Newsam parkrun

A total of 182 runners took part.

View full results for Temple Newsam parkrun event #234

Position  ↓ Gender Position  ↓ parkrunner  ↓ Club  ↓ Run Time  ↓
1 1 Joseph HARDING Sheffield University Bankers HC 00:17:31
4 1 Susan LEWIS Roundhay Runners 00:20:05
81 69 Dave BESTON Abbey Runners Leeds 00:27:57
news, race reports

Race Report: Race to the Stones

By Jon Laye

The Race to the Stones 100km Ultra Marathon

Saturday 15th – Sunday 16th July 2017


Someone at work yesterday asked me ‘How did you manage to run 100km in 12 hours, and more to the point, why?’


The ‘how’ is surprisingly easy: next time you go for a run, switch on your Garmin/Timex/TomTom GPS watch to record your pace, and then run exactly one mile in 12 minutes. You will find that this is remarkably easy (I should imagine just about every Abbey Runner will be able to achieve this). Then simply repeat this process 61.4 times and you should be close to running 100km in the requisite 12 hours.


The ‘why’ bit is trickier to explain, but for me it is predominantly about my inbuilt competitive spirit. Imagine as you jog along for 12 hours at 12 min/mi pace you are going to have to stop for food or to go to the toilet or simply have a break (to relieve the boredom of shuffling along at what seems like a mind-numbingly slow pace). For every minute you stop, you have to run a little bit faster to make up for lost time. It seems entirely reasonable to stop for a least an hour throughout the whole process and suddenly you are confronted with having to make up that time by running quite a bit faster. Similarly, any hills that you encounter which require you to walk, result in yet more time to make up in order to achieve the magic 12 hours! And so, having arbitrarily set upon 12 hours as a good race target, I immediately put myself under pressure, to compete with myself and against the clock. And this is the ‘why’ I entered the ultra. I didn’t just want to see if I could finish it, but instead to complete it within a set of challenging boundaries I had artificially set.


The Race: a damp start

The Race to the Stones starts from a farm located at Lewknor, South Oxfordshire (used for filming Midsomer Murders) nestled at the foot of the Chilterns. The route follows much of the ancient trackway known as The Ridgeway, leading ultimately to the village of Avebury with its famous Neolithic Stone Circle (no, not Stonehenge, the other one that encloses the village). Along the 100km course the route passes Grim’s Ditch ancient earthworks, the beautiful small town of Goring, crosses the Thames and then climbs high up onto the Berkshire Downs passing Bronze age hill forts, burial mounds and the odd white horse or two.


The Race itself is popular. I heard an announcer at the start saying that over 2000 entrants were expected over the 2-day event and it is very much promoted as the UKs biggest ultra. And the organization matches the popularity, with large farms transformed to accommodate the start, midpoint and finish of the event. Some entrants choose to run or walk the event non-stop, but many elect to stop half way in an overnight camp (complete with inclusive food, drinks, a bar (!), free sports massage and with a huge field filled by swathes of identical tents). The race is sufficiently popular now that it is started in waves in the inverse of larger city marathons, with entrants starting position determined by their predicted finish times commencing with the slowest (walkers) beginning earliest at 7:30am and the fastest non-stop runners starting last at 9:30am. Presumably this is to avoid the race becoming incredibly spread out across the countryside, but this does mean that the route can become a little busy in places.


In keeping with the race’s size and appeal it attracts many novice ultra runners (like me) and its location relatively close to London means that it lacks the ‘hard as nails’ image of many ultra races, which is no bad thing. It is accessible, friendly and attracts many people who would never dream of entering an ultramarathon. For example, the farm field at the start was furnished with no less than 4 coffee baristas serving double-skinny-mocha-flat-white-chinos! This did not feel like the haunt of the mountain-hardened ultra runner!!


I had been placed in the 9th and final wave of racers and was nearly the very last entrant to cross the chip mat and set off at 9:30am, by which time a light drizzle had set in. Within 90 minutes this had become a thoroughly unpleasant deluge, but spirits were high and everyone was happy and excited. I soon settled down into running at a brisk but sensible pace alongside a local chap who worked in the renewable energy business (I was hoping to take some tips because I had the feeling I was going to struggle with a lack of energy very soon) but we seemed to be running much faster than all the other people in front of us. Despite the busy trails we were not unduly slowed by other walkers/runners and everyone was happy to let us through and bid us good luck. After a couple of hours of rolling hills and arable fields (and much shouting of ‘Coming through on your left….no, the OTHER LEFT, yes, thank you’), we descended to the Thames valley and I took 5 minute’s rest in a pit stop sitting on a fold-up camping chair in the pouring rain to check my feet for any early signs of blisters. A little bit of protective foot tape and quick bite of sandwich later and I hoofed it up the biggest climb of the day to make up for lost time and soon the rain had stopped and I was onto the whaleback ridge which undulated its way on and on across the Downs.


The Race: a tough middle

The sky remained grey and high humidity followed by a progressively stronger headwind made things tough, but not really challenging. At various points the route descended to very pretty little villages with seemingly every house thatched and set in exquisite cottage gardens, before climbing back up onto the ridge top.  After 3 more hours of this though, I was getting tired. Looking back, I can see now that the weariness was a subtle mixture of physical exertion and mental exhaustion. Running at a relatively slow pace for a long time is hard work, but not that difficult. The hard part is continuously concentrating and getting your brain to override all the other signals you are getting and demanding your body to keep the running going.


To keep us entertained there were the magnificent ancient burial mounds, chalk white horses and hill forts. None of which I saw (except a bloody great hill fort which we ran through the middle of at about mile 54). My guess is I was so focused on the running that I simply ran passed them all without noticing! But what about the scenery? I am used to running up hills to get to the top so I can enjoy the view, but on the Ridgeway, we simply ran through an endless collection of fields along an undulating track (which remains open to 4-wheel drive vehicles for much of the year) bounded by dense hedgerows. And where we could see the view it was extensive, but just an endless spread of arable fields stretching into the distance. Frankly I found it all a bit tame and dull. Remember, this is just my opinion (probably somewhat biased by running in a state of weariness), and I am sure many would find the scenery stunning, but I think I have been somewhat spoilt by doing much of my running in The Dales and Lake District.


At this point I was simply running between the pit stops and ticking each one off as incremental steps getting closer to the finish. The pit stops were great though. They were located every 10kms or so. There were lots of seats and tents with music and arrays of different food and medics and physios on hand and more than sufficient numbers of portaloos. Each time I entered a pit stop the crews clapped and cheered and then quickly offered to help fill my water bottles or get me food. The staff were brilliant! At about miles 20 and 40 I removed my shoes and socks, cleaned my feet, reapplied lots of Sudocream lubricant and then clean socks before getting back into my trainers and each time the effect of that short foot pampering was to completely revive me: a trick worth remembering! Rarely have I been at a race where everything went so much to plan. I felt so under control that I cannot remember feeling happy, sad, miserable or elated. I was simply weary and getting on with the job of running and spending as little time resting as possible. Suddenly, I found myself at the last pit stop with less than 7 miles to go and I was well within my schedule. I am not a talented ultra runner, but I think it says a lot about how I had approached the whole event that even though I was travelling relatively slowly, I actually had the 18th fastest 50-100km split time. And then the whole race changed from something that was becoming a bit mundane to an event that was really inspiring.


The Race: an inspiring finish

Throughout the day, I had been constantly overtaking people. Some folks had then passed me whilst I had a foot pamper or an extended drink break at a pit stop, for me to then overtake them again 5 minutes later. I overtook some entrants 3 or 4 times! One such runner was a young lady who was really going for it. I overtook her one final time within 4 miles of the end as we were descending from the ridge towards Avebury. Except this time when I gave her a greeting, she barely managed to reply and she looked utterly awful. She had completely hit the wall and was starting to look very wobbly indeed. I stopped and made her finish all my remaining isotonic drinks. From there on, I slowly coaxed her all the way to the end of the race. I didn’t really care about my finish time anymore. We half ran, half jogged together for the last few miles. I hope she reads this because Alex (from Derbyshire) and the way she staggered home to finish the Race to the Stones was amongst THE most inspiring bits of running I have seen in years and was certainly the highpoint of the whole event for me. As we approached the final straight I told her that I was most certainly NOT going to do a ‘Brownlee’ and carry her over the line!! And so, despite being utterly exhausted, Alex of Derbyshire picked up her pace and charged down the track and across the line in front of me. Afterwards, once she was safely with friends and family there were a few tears and lots of ‘thank you’s but I honestly would not have changed the end of the race for anything. I know that her immediate response was that she had ‘messed up’ the finish, but she should really be utterly proud of herself. It was tough going.


For the record, the winners were Benjamin Poiraton (7:52:55, male) and Sarah Hill (9:23:04 female), whilst I managed a ponderously slow 11:42:50 (100th out of 961 total non-stop runners). Oh, and yes, I checked: Alex of Derbyshire was 3

news, race reports

Race results – Leeds Half Marathon – 14th May

What started as a cloudy, slightly damp day, soon changed to the usual Leeds Half Marathon weather!  Great turnout by Abbeys…

Name Gender Cat. Chip Time Cat. Pos.
Joshua Holmes Male M 01:31:40 141
Paul Simkins Male M40 01:34:43 55
James Whittaker Male M45 01:40:31 85
Howard Cohen Male M55 01:42:04 19
David Nahal Male M55 01:43:40 26
Katie Taylor Female F 01:47:19 76
Kazuki Morimoto Male M45 01:46:51 143
Tom Broadley Male M 01:49:59 553
Liz Willis Female F50 02:05:55 21
Ange Ellis Female F40 02:01:30 94
Matt Ellis Male M40 02:01:31 345
Helen Roden Female F45 02:14:38 68
Stephen Broadley Male M60 02:19:26 36
Andrew Wilson Male M50 02:13:52 251
news, Tips

I am the Invisible Man

By Jon Laye

I am the Invisible Man

 “Now I’m on your track,

And I’m in your mind,

And I’m on your back,

But don’t look behind…..

I am the Invisible Man,

I am the Invisible Man,

Incredible how you can,

See right through me”




START of RANT: I think I must be becoming invisible. Yesterday morning to get to work, I slowly jogged down the Otley Road, all the way from Adel to Hyde Park and no less than FOUR people walked straight into me. Granted on the first 2 occasions I was running up behind people and then as I was about to pass them they unexpectedly stepped right into my passage. Presumably they just didn’t hear me and so on the spur of the moment they decided to take an impromptu ‘step to the right’ which resulted in my winging one of them and leaping into the road to avoid the second. Generally speaking I do give people a wide berth whilst approaching them from behind but this can be difficult when they are walking right in the centre of a narrow-ish pavement. But in 2 separate incidents later that morning the people I ran into were heading directly towards me, looking in my direction and just didn’t see me, so that when I swerved they both ploughed on and we kind of met in the middle (with a splat). I did try to take avoiding action in both cases and call out to them, but both times resulted in a shock on their part and bloody annoyance on my mine. Am I really invisible? The common feature of all these collisions was massive headphones being worn by the pedestrians who all seemed utterly oblivious of everything around them. But short of running around with a very loud klaxon to warn other pedestrians I really can’t see any option other than running on the road/in the gutter when trying to travel along pavements these days.


My problems are not limited to headphone-wearing people sleep-walking through the streets. Three weeks ago I was physically tripped over by a couple of dogs (on a double dog lead) who decided to run from one side of the pavement where they were walking with their owner, across to the roadside just as I passed them. The dog lead to the owner went taught as I hit it, I tripped over the lead and then stood on one of the dogs as I fell because it was dragged underneath me. The dog owner was worried about her slightly flattened dog, not by my injuries. When it was clear that ‘Sybil’ was not seriously injured she thought it was all very funny and laughed, “What on earth will these crazy dogs of mine do next, eh?’ I was not amused and suggested that next time they might seriously injure someone followed by quite an expensive lawsuit. It seems I am invisible to dogs too.


Last month whilst running through Bramhope, a woman in a car mounted the kerb and drove straight at me along the pavement. She slammed on the brakes at the last minute with a look of total horror when she realized she was within inches of seeing me sail over her bonnet! As I continued on my (somewhat wobbly) way the reason for her maneuver became clear: she performed a U-turn in the narrow road and then promptly attempted to drive through the gateway into her house at speed. Amazingly, in doing so she nearly hit me again (second time lucky?)!!!!! If she hadn’t slammed on her brakes and skidded to a halt she would have driven straight across the pavement and ploughed through me but thereby successfully reached her home (presumably just in time for East Enders)! Car drivers cannot see me either!


To avoid all this sort of nonsense, I recommend running in the countryside. Like for example, 2 weeks ago when I decided to escape the scrum of the pavement. I headed up to Wharfedale and ran up Buckden Pike and along the ridge to Great Whernside. There was no one around for miles and miles. There was nothing but peace and calm and huge panoramic vistas. No crowded pavements or racing motor vehicles. Lovely! And on the descent, what do you know? I encountered another runner coming up the hill in the opposite direction to me. And as we closed in on each other, at the last moment he swerved directly into me to avoid a puddle!!!! And damn it all, he was wearing sodding headphones and despite me shouting hello to him, he just hadn’t bloody well noticed me!!!!!


I have decided to exclusively run on a treadmill in the gym from now on. RANT OVER!