Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Another Government u-turn

Back in February (Bits and pieces post) I posted about then Education Secretary, Michael Gove's recommendation that extra physical activity such as running be used as a punishment in schools.

However, Gove was replaced in July by Nicky Morgan and thankfully it would seem that she has requested that running, used as a punishment be removed from teachers' guidelines.

Whether this result came about because of public outrage from such sporting personalities as David Moorcroft, Paula Radcliffe and Brendan Foster.  As a result of the online petition set up by Gavin Megaw of Guildford and Godalming AC.  Due to the fact that Nicky Morgan is a keen runner herself.  Or to a combination of these and other factors, at least common sense has at last prevailed.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Good base training

Yesterday I came across an article about an open touch rugby player named James Heptonstall who raced a Tube train in London.

He got off the train at Mansion House and ran 380m to Cannon Street to get back onto the same train.  According to this article there have been a number of similar challenges throughout Europe.

Well I'm afraid this is nothing new.  As a youngster (13 years old) I lived in Denton Burn on the west side of Newcastle upon Tyne and went to school in Benton on the east side.  This necessitated a daily bus journey across Newcastle which could become quite tedious.

One of the activities a group of us had to relieve the boredom (apart from doing your homework) was to get off the bus outside what used to be Binns (now Start Fitness' Tri shop) on Market Street and run to see how far you could get and still get back on the same bus.

Initially it was just the next stop, we then graduated to reaching Newcastle Central Station and then to the stop outside the model shop on what used to be, I think called, Blenheim Street (now St James Boulevard).  I remember that I claimed the record though by reaching what was then the Newcastle General Hospital about a mile or so away and anyone who knows Newcastle will also know that it is also quite a climb up to 'the General'.

This must have provided a good base for my future running efforts.

If you wish to see a video of James Heptonstall's  (videos didn't exist in the days when we raced the bus) race against the Tube you can find it here

Monday, 8 September 2014

Great North weekend

Well yesterday's Great North Run proved to be a record breaking day.  With the first ever 1 millionth finisher in a mass participation run, Mary Keitany breaking Paula Radcliffe's record and Mo Farah being the first British winner for 29 years.

From a personal point of view, due to my general lack of fitness, lack of training and to some extent a lack of motivation I approached this years run with some trepidation.  I was, as usual down to chaperone one of the celebrities and thoughts of, what if I can't keep up, had crossed my mind constantly over the days leading up to the race.

As it happens the celebrity I was assigned to decided not to run so I was left to run my own race.  I started off a little to fast and after the first couple of miles decided to ease up a little to a more sensible pace and from there it was just a case of keeping it steady up to the finish.  However, just after the 7 mile marker I spotted a couple of fellow Blaydon Harriers up ahead and the competitive instinct kicked in as I started to chase them down.

Passing them both a little further down the road.  They had both gone off too hard and were now paying the price.  The weather conditions were good, if a little warm.  However, once we turned at Whitemare Pool there was a cooling breeze to run into. Although I slowed up a little between miles 11 and 12 I was content with my time of 1.35.55, considering my lack of training.


Saturday, saw me back on the Quayside for the Great North City Games, which once again provided some good, close quarter's athletics over some unusual distance such as 150m and 500m. 


Photos by Francesca - more can be found here

Friday, 5 September 2014

GNR Million ceremony

Well I am just back from two weeks holiday, where I must admit to only doing half a dozen short runs just to keep ticking over.  I am, as I have for the last few years running the Great North Run as a chaperone to one of the celebrities.  However, with the Run being brought forward a week this year I am even less fit that I would have expected.  Hopefully I will be assigned someone who is not looking for too fast a time or else they may have to take care of me!

This years GNR will see the millionth runner cross the finish line since it was first ran in 1981.   Which is another first for the GNR as no other mass participation run has ever reached this milestone. Reaching this milestone is, of course, being celebrated and those celebrations got underway last night with an opening ceremony held on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides. 

Using the Sage Gateshead as a backdrop there were performances on both quays and the river itself.  Celebrating the North East as a whole and the GNR in particular.  It was a great event, with performances by local people and acts such as Mark Knopfler, Sting and Chase and Status.

While away on holiday I read Richard Askwith's 'Running Free - a runners journey back to nature'.  Having previously read his book on fell running, 'Feet in the Clouds' which I had really enjoyed, I had been looking forward to this read. 

The main theme to this book is "Big Running".  "Big Running" is described as the involvement of 'big business' in the running 'market'.  From 'must have' equipment and clothing to mini adventures within a controlled environment provided by organisers of such events as the Mud Runs etc.

I must admit to agreeing with a lot of the arguments presented in this book.  However, as the GNR can be described as "Big Running" and as I have described elsewhere in this blog it was the first GNR that got me into running in the first place.  I think "Big Running" does have its place but it would be good to see more people make the transition from being a "big runner" to competitive runner or a 'real' adventure runner.  Rather than see races  as a sort of rite of passage where just completing is the aim or adventure runs within manufactured and controlled conditions.

With regards to this year's race a full list of the elite athletes can be found here

As usual the photos are from Francesca, more photos of the evening can be found here