Monthly Archives: May 2017

Club Grand Prix 2017 – Standings after seven races

It’s game on – the Seaford Striders Club Grand Prix 2017 is now seven races in out of a possible 15!

After the Friston Forest 5 mile on Bank Holiday Monday, Emily Eaton has overtaken Hilary Humphreys in the women’s race, leading the field by an impressive 19 points.

In the men’s league Ben Shorer remains out in from, extending his lead to 18 points.

The next race is the Peacehaven Parkrun on 10 June – a great opportunity for everyone in the Club to score some points and work their way up the table. See you then – just don’t forget those barcodes!

There’s still time to take part – scores are taken from a minimum of six races and a maximum of 10. To find out more and plan your races, click here.



Conquering the South Downs Way 50

By Joel Eaton

The South Downs Way 50 is organised by Centurion Running, who host a number of highly regarded ultra-distance races across the South East of England. Having been long enchanted with the idea of running ultras, far more than I have ever enjoyed actually running them, all I really wanted from this race was to enjoy a day out on the South Downs while getting in some serious training miles.

I arrived at the start in Worthing in good time for the kit check that precedes the race. These events require that you carry quite the haul of gear as when you’re out for long distances between aid stations, the weather can turn and issues can also arise from bad navigation or darkness.

Thankfully, there was barely a cloud in the sky all day and despite the mandatory waterproof and warm clothing, I could have done with remembering sun cream. Still, the race worked wonders for the tan.

The race begins with a long climb up to Cissbury Ring, then another climb to Chanctonbury Ring, before following the South Downs Way all the way to Eastbourne. After Chanctonbury, I knew the route had a long stretch of flat and downhill so I began to pick up the pace, and started to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the South Downs basking in the morning sun.

Ultra-races seem to generate a real sense of camaraderie between runners. There’s no elbow jabbing and little sense of the serious competition that you might find in a city 10k, and because you’re out there for so long, you naturally get chatting to people as you run with them.

11 miles in, at the first aid station, I started to worry that my legs were feeling too stiff already. This was temporarily forgotten as I gorged on the range of food on offer – one of the best things about ultra-races is the food at the aid stations: sandwiches, crisps, cakes, fruit, sausage rolls, cups of flat coke, and more. It’s like stopping at a kids’ party and there’s every possibility that I ate my entry fee’s worth in food thus breaking even – success!

Although my legs felt stiff, I didn’t feel tired and got into a consistent rhythm where I crept up through the field for the rest of the day. As the sun burnt my skin, it was a real treat to enjoy the picturesque half of the South Downs Way on such a stunning spring day.

After the last two big climbs, out of Alfriston and Jevington, the route dropped down into Eastbourne and finished with a lap around a running track, which I graced with an obligatory, but probably very slow, sprint finish.

With a complimentary cup of tea and hot dog at the end, I was elated. Surely, I’d no longer just broken even but I’d made a profit – try doing that at a city road race.

Joel finished 30th overall in a time of 8:22:56. (Apparently moving time was under 7:47 as Joel spent at least 35 minutes relaxing at the aid stations – eating mostly! Ed.)

Luke takes on Dieppe to Amsterdam challenge

Seaford Strider Luke Borland is swapping the running shoes for a bike this weekend to tackle Cycle Amsterdam – a four-day challenge from Dieppe to Amsterdam to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The gruelling test will see the team of 12 take on some serious mileage each day:

  • Day 1. Dieppe to Arras. 158km
  • Day 2. Arrays to Gent. 142km
  • Day 3. Gent to Rotterdam 180km
  • Day 4. Rotterdam to Amsterdam. 78km

The team is hoping to raise £1,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. For more information and to donate via JustGiving, click here.

Good luck, Luke and the team!

Striders duo take on Paddock Wood half

By Chris Le Beau

This year saw the 28th staging of the Paddock Wood Half Marathon, a popular event for those in the final phase of training for spring marathons. This was not however of relevance to the two Seaford Striders who took part, Phil Robinson and myself.

Having been pleased with my Hastings Half time, I was tempted by the prospect of a flatter course offering the chance of an improved time. Also, I felt it might make the Haywards Heath 10 mile race at the end of April seem relatively easy. Plus, I decided to keep Sue (Garner) company, running this time for Lingfield, in preparation for the London Marathon.

The race HQ was a pop-up arrangement spread out on an industrial estate. With 2,000+ runners, there was a good chance it would be chaotic, and so it was. Some additional signage would have been useful, and you can never have too many toilets! Parking arrangements were some distance from the base and with the roads clogged it looked as if we might have a delayed start. Not so, we set off on time and you had to feel sorry for the late arrivals, a steady stream of runners, with numbers attached, running against the flow for the first half mile, just to get to the start line; the stuff of nightmares.

The course headed out of town and into the countryside, along leafy lanes and past farmland in the spring sunshine, with some attractive looking pubs along the way. It was a warm morning but there were well managed water tables and sponges at sensible intervals.

As promised, the course was indeed fairly flat. I even had the illusion that a lot of it was gently downhill. A consistent pace was much easier to hold than on certain other Half Marathons and at ten miles I was still thinking I might crack two hours. Sadly, at eleven miles, that started to seem like another illusion, finally confirmed on mile 13, when the legs protested just as everyone else’s appeared to gear up for the final run in.

Daniel Gaffney of South London Harriers showed just how fast this course is, winning in a time of 1.08.36. First lady home, for the second year in a row, was Tracy Barlow of Thames Valley Harriers, in 1.14.07.

Phil had good reason to be happy with his time, finishing 416th of 2164 runners with a chip time of 1.35.34. This was Phil’s best half marathon time in the past year, an impressive effort with his busy lifestyle! My chip time was 2.02.25, and although the elusive 2 hours was beyond me, I take consolation in the fact that 767 finished behind me! Sue had no problem with the 2-hour factor, coming home in 1.56.35.

While the HQ set up could be improved, the race was well marshalled and road closures for the start and finish well managed. This year the race supported the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, so, any Striders keen to run three minutes faster than their Hastings Half time and support a worthy cause might well want to give this well-established event consideration in future years.

My Brighton Marathon: Sunny and strong

By Emily Eaton

It was a beautiful, sunny morning as the huge crowds gathered in Preston Park ready to start the marathon on 9th April. I saw Luke in the bag drop and we wished each other good luck, and headed towards the starting corrals as the race began.

The course for the Brighton Marathon winds up around Preston Park before heading into the Laines and then back and around the Old Steine, up Lewes Road and up a little hill into Kemptown. We then got onto the seafront around mile 6 and headed up towards Ovingdean where we turned around and came back at a steady incline along the coast road back into town for the halfway mark.

I saw Scott at this point smiling and looking strong. The race then heads onto Western Road and to the edge of Boundary Road in Hove before heading up to Shoreham Harbour around mile 20. This is the worst part of the race – it’s a bit smelly and the crowds have thinned out and there is only an ugly industrial wasteland to distract you. But after pushing through this part, you are back on the seafront for mile 23 to finish just past the pier.

The whole race is lined with crowds passing jelly babies and fruit and keeping everyone’s spirits up with their cheers and amusing signs – the funniest being ‘it could be worse, you could be at work’. A busy road race isn’t for everyone but, for me, it’s a race that shows Brighton and Brightonians at their very best!

This was my second time running this race and my plan was to break the 4-hour mark (last time I got 4’11) and, if possible, try and enjoy myself along the way. Last time I found it a real struggle after going out too fast on the first half (with PBs at 10k and the half!) and I was determined to stick to the planned steady pace. I’d checked the weather forecast and I thought it’d be warm but it got much hotter than any of us had ever trained in and anticipated – hitting 21 degrees at one point! There were a lot of runners suffering with heat and dehydration and it made the race a really tough one.

For me, my race went to plan and I kept a steady pace throughout, even managing to speed up over the last few miles. I felt strong and in control and finished with a PB of 3:58 feeling fantastic knowing how hard I’d pushed myself. Other Striders did amazing that day too with Josh, Scott, Luke, Anneka and Carlie all running fantastic times.

Sunny Saturday at Eastbourne Parkrun

By Ben Shorer

On a lovely sunny Saturday morning, I took the journey from Newhaven to run the Eastbourne Parkrun 5k. I’ve done the 5k in the past, but that was way back in 2013 so I didn’t know if the route would be the same, but luckily it was!

The last time I ran the Parkrun 5k in Eastbourne there were about 60-70 people attending, and today there were 299, so it was a great turn out! Apparently, the first Saturday of every month they have race-pacers, which was great, as I had no idea what my run time was going to be. I tried to follow the sub 21 and see what happened and so I pushed myself to the front with the mega-fast group just for a laugh and off we went. I went out at a 6-minute mile pace, which I’ve never run at before, so I knew I had to slow down so I didn’t burn out too early!

About halfway round Emily went past me and off into the distance. I still had a bit of juice left in the tank for the last half a mile or so, so I upped my pace and attempted a sprint finish. Running with Seaford Striders has clearly improved my fitness, as I broke my Parkrun PB by about two minutes!
Edward came in a highly impressive 5th of 299 runners. 84 of these scored a PB, inspired by the volunteer pacers on duty.

Ed Tuckley, 19:00 course PB
Emily Eaton 21:14 PB
Ben Shorer 21:45 PB
Hilary Humphreys 25:38 PB
Tom Roper 27:02 PB

Image courtesy of Tony Humphreys

Club Grand Prix 2017 – Standings after six races

After six races, the Club Grand Prix is taking shape – competition is fierce, and there are a number of new faces in the league tables, too!

In the women’s race it’s Hilary Humphreys out in front, leading Emily Eaton by just a single point.

It’s almost as tight in the men’s race, where Ben Shorer has taken the lead and is currently four points ahead of Edward Tuckley.

Both leagues have been bolstered by the Couch to 5k group, with a host of new faces joining the race in both the women’s and the men’s competition at the Preston Park Parkrun.

The standings in full are below – and it’s not too late to take part! Points are counted from a minimum of six and a maximum of 10 races with nine still to come, so get involved. Distances range from 5k up to 10 miles with opportunities for everyone.

For more information on the Club Grand Prix, including the race calendar, click here – and don’t forget, the next race is the Friston Forest 5 Mile on 29 May. See you there!

My London Marathon: A day I will not forget

by Vicki Blaber 

Well, where to start…When I received the call from Martin to say I had been successful in the Seaford Striders ballot, I think for the first few seconds I was in shock! Then the excitement crept in. As the day drew closer, apart from the nerves, my biggest worry was the logistics of getting to the start line. Finally, once that was all in place, I was ready to enjoy the final few days leading up to the event. It started of course with attending the Expo at the Excel in London to collect my number, lucky number 22846. That’s when it became real!

Unfortunately, there was a slight hiccup with the travel on the day, which didn’t help the nerves. There was an incident on the line with our journey from London Victoria to Blackheath, which meant I arrived at the start area later than anticipated. However, once I was in the pen it was time to focus on the race.

And wow, what an incredible experience! My race start was in Blackheath and at that point it was already amazing to see the amount of people starting to line up. As the race got under way we merged with the other starts at mile 3 and at this point I found myself smiling as I saw a huge surge of people join the route. I kept telling myself “you’re running the London Marathon!” By now the noise of the crowds was already overwhelming, and whereas in previous races you start to spread out at this point, you realise that that just doesn’t happen in this race. I remember thinking that not only can you hear the crowds but also the constant pounding of running feet all around you.

The first iconic point at around 7 miles is The Cutty Sark, the sun was shining, the crowds were out in their thousands and there was music and cheering all around. You could almost forget you were in a race. At this point I was feeling fine and looking forward to seeing my sister at around mile 9. By now I had also mastered the dodging of the hundreds of bottles of water that are thrown to the side during the race, which were of course very much needed, as it was very warm at times when the sun came out!

Onwards to mile 9, where I saw my sister and niece with their super sign, a quick hug and I was back on track heading to the half way mark and Tower Bridge. The crowd and noise continued to be phenomenal and reached fever point as we ran along Tower Bridge. I remember just staring up, almost having to pinch myself that I was actually running across it – incredible. At mile 13 I was running really well and definitely appeared on track for a sub 4-hour time.

Next, we were heading to the Quays and Canary Wharf, an enjoyable part of the route but tough miles for me between 17 and 21. But I knew I was going to see my sister again at 19 miles and then Alex and the girls at 22, so this kept me going.  The crowds and just being among so many runners also kept me going; I felt privileged to be running around London.

Mile 19 crept up, more screaming and shouting and another cheer from my sister! The end was almost in sight, I was still on track and even started to believe I could beat my current PB of 3.55, so I pushed on. Mile 22 came and I saw Alex and the girls which was fantastic and then it was countdown… 4 miles to go.

Come mile 24 and with the crowd cheering intensifying, I felt surprisingly ok and a PB was still in sight. The final two miles were a bit of a blur but there’s no way I could not remember that final 800 metres to the finish, the cheering, shouting, encouragement and then it was there, the finish line and a time of 3:50:24 – a PB in London. A day I will not forget in a long time. Thank you Seaford Striders for giving me the opportunity.

Simon Fletcher: 2:42:41 (426th place overall and 8th in his age group)
Dave Dunstall 3:39:33;
Vicki Blaber 3:50:24 (PB);
Carlie Watts 4:29:20 (3rd marathon in a month and suffering a fall!)
Sue Garner 4:53:58

Strider’s Couch to 5k take on Parkrun

By Hilary Humphreys

The day had finally arrived.  The newly formed Seaford Striders’ Couch to 5K group gathered at Preston Park in Brighton on 13 May with a mix of excitement, anticipation and a touch of nervousness.  This is what we had been building up to for over 9 weeks – to complete a Parkrun and achieve what some of us felt was impossible (I know I did!) – run a 5k!

Seaford Striders were out in force on the Saturday morning, which was perfect weather for running.  Ten ‘Couch to 5K’s, with many more experienced Striders, were there to help us get around. The sea of Striders’ shirts certainly grabbed people’s attention and a mention from the race director before the start ensured everyone knew why we were there.  We received a big cheer and many well wishes as we nervously walked to the start.

First to cross the line were the experienced Striders with Edward Tuckley finishing 10th in a new PB time of 18:48; followed by Scott Hitchcock in 13th place in a time of 19:09 – just two seconds off another PB.  Dave Freeman once again showed Ben Shorer the way home, with the pair finishing in times of 21:08 and 21:32 respectively.  Ben achieved a PB with his time and hard on their heels was Joe Plant, still recovering from injury and putting in a worthy time of 22:32.

Peter Weeks was next to cross the line in 23:05, just in front of Emily Eaton, first female Strider home in an excellent time of 23:45, especially so given that she was pushing one year old son Caleb in a buggy!  Next across the line was Kristiane Sherry in another great time of 23:56 and she was followed by Richard Honeyman in a PB time of 25:36.

Then it was the turn of the ‘couch to 5k’ group with Matt Franks taking the honour of first Strider from the newly formed group to cross the line in a remarkable time of 28:19. He was followed by Simon Homer in 31:14.  Crossing the line together were Stacey Jones and Joanna Simmons in equal 31:43 and they were followed by Debbie Plant in 34:59 and Rob Plant in 37:24.  Finishing with him almost in a group were Victoria Maleski in 37:25, Jo Enright, 37:28, Sandra Standen, 37:29 and Tina Butterworth in 40:12.

Mention must also be given to Striders who stayed with this new group throughout the weeks of the course and during this race, namely Emma Goodwin, Simon Nixon, Terry Ward, Tom Roper and Hilary Humphreys.  Also, the rest of the Seaford Striders who, once their own race was finished, looped back to run with and encourage their newer team members – a demonstration of excellent sporting camaraderie from a running club noted for its welcoming nature.

Thanks also go from Seaford Striders to the organisers, marshals and runners at Preston Park Parkrun for making us all so very welcome – very much appreciated!

You can read more about Debbie’s Couch to 5k journey by clicking here.

Preston Park Parkrun success for Debbie

by Debbie Plant

Debbie takes on the Preston Park ParkRun

After driving my son Joe to and from Seaford Striders for the last three years, I finally plucked up the courage to officially join when the Couch to 5k group was formed.

I have run before but very, very slowly, usually very embarrassed and with no confidence at all. A text from fellow Strider, Scott on a Friday evening was all the encouragement I needed to join him and his family at Preston Park for the parkrun on a bright Saturday morning. Joe came too, and as he has a niggling injury, came purely to pace me and keep me going.

Joe spotted a 35-minute pacer and we decided together that I would try and stick with her. I had attempted this a month ago and failed miserably. I said a quick hello to the pacer, whose name was Chris, and as we set off I told her I would try my best to stay with her, laughing at the time saying that I couldn’t possibly.

Preston Park ParkRun is basically three laps of a set route. The first mile was covered fairly speedily in 10:30, too quick for me to sustain and by mile two I could feel myself beginning to slow. Chris directly in front of me and Joe to my side wouldn’t let me fall behind and I just about managed to stay with them for the second lap. I absolutely know that I would have stopped had I been on my own, however, with Chris and Joe’s encouragement I kept going.

Lap three seemed more bearable and on the final bend Chris had to slow as she’d paced slightly too fast and I continued to the finish with just Joe beside me, encouraging me all the way. I crossed the finish line with a time of 34:28 – my first time of running a ParkRun without walking some of it and my fastest 5k to date. Not a fast time for many but for me it was just amazing!