Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Return of the mud! Striders guide to the 2016-17 Cross Country season

Cross country season is nearly upon us again and what better way is there to spend your Autumn/Winter weekends than running through the mud with your fellow Striders?!
There has been a great uptake in cross country running in the club over recent years with more and more of you discovering the joys of racing offroad.
Below is a fixture list of the forthcoming races we are competing in, so please put the dates in your diaries as we would love to see as many of you there as possible.
Join your fellow Striders at cross country events this Autumn and Winter
If you are completely new to the club and/or to cross country running, scroll down for further information on the various leagues we compete in and how you can get involved (it's all completely free for club members).
Cross country captains Graham Smith and Wendy Walsh will email and post on Facebook with the full details on each race the week before they take place.
OCTOBER
Saturday, 15 October, Chiltern League, Oxford
Saturday, 22 October, Southern Cross Country Relay, Wormwood Scrubs
Sunday, 23 October, Sunday League, Cheshunt
NOVEMBER
Saturday, 5 November, National Cross Country Relays, Mansfield
Saturday, 12 November, Chiltern League, Milton Keynes (Teardrop Lakes)
Sunday, 13 November, Sunday League, Grovelands
DECEMBER
Saturday, 3 December, Chiltern League, Luton
Saturday, 10 December, Cross Country Masters & Inter Counties Championships, Oxford
Sunday, 18 December, Sunday League, TBC (Willian or Stevenage)
The cross country season runs from October till March
JANUARY
Sunday, 8 January, Herts Champs, TBC
Saturday, 14 January, Chiltern League, Keysoe
Sunday, 15 January, Sunday League, Watford
Saturday, 28 January, Southern Champs, Parliament Hill
FEBRUARY
Saturday, 11 February, Chiltern League, Milton Keynes (Campbell Park)
Sunday, 12 February, Sunday League, Royston
Saturday, 25 February, National Champs, Wollaton Park, Nottingham
MARCH
Inter-counties Champs – date and venue TBC (usually on a Saturday at the start of the month in Birmingham)
Herts Vets Champs – date and venue TBC (usually on a Sunday in the middle of the month)
CROSS COUNTY LEAGUES WE COMPETE IN

The men's start at a Chiltern League fixture last year

THE CHILTERN LEAGUE


Comprises clubs from Herts, Beds and Bucks, open to all abilities. Men and women race separately - approx 6k for women and 8k for men. There’s also junior races earlier in the day where St Albans AC athletes compete for Striders. The juniors, men and women’s scores are all combined to reach our league position.

Where & when:
Women’s race starts approx 1.15pm, men’s approx 2pm

Saturday 15 October, Oxford
Saturday 12 November, Milton Keynes (Teardrop Lakes)
Saturday 3 December, Luton
Saturday 14 January, Keysoe
Saturday 11 February, Milton Keynes (Campbell Park)

What to do: We need to declare with the organisers who will be running the night before each race. We’ll send an email and post on the message board the week before each race so please let us know then if you intend to run. On the day, collect a number from captains (Graham Smith for the men and Wendy Walsh for the women). As with the Midweek Road Race League, you must keep this number for the whole league.

NB: This season the number of female scorers for the team has increased from four to six so we need we more women than ever to take part!

More info:
www.chilternccl.co.uk  

Hills and mud don't stop Striders!

THE SUNDAY LEAGUE

Slightly lower key league so a good introduction if you have never done cross country before. It’s suitable for all abilities and just like the MWRRL but on offroad courses. Clubs from the local area take part with men and women competing in the same race which is approx 5-6 miles. If you take part in four or more races you will be in with a chance of winning an individual age group prize at the end of the league. Individual trophies are awarded as follows: Senior Men, M40, and M50 - first five places. M60 - first three, M70 - winner. Senior Women, W35, and W45 - first five places. W55 – first three, W65 – winner.

Where & when: All races start at 10.30am

Sunday, 23 October, Cheshunt
Sunday, 13 November, Grovelands
Sunday, 18 December, TBC (Willian or Stevenage)
Sunday, 15 January, Watford
Sunday, 12 February, Royston

What to do: We’ll advertise further details on each race in advance. You don’t need to wear a number so just turn up and race. At the finish, you’ll be given a ticket with your finishing position on which should be handed to the captains so they can record the results.

More info:
There’s no official website for the league but results and pictures will be posted on www.runherts.com.
Spikes and trail shoes at the ready!

CHAMPIONSHIP RACES


Herts County XC: Sunday 8 January TBC


Individual and county medals up for grabs here and the chance to qualify to represent Herts in future races. Approx 8k for women and 12k for men.

The men weaving round the Herts County Champs course in Stevenage
What to do: You must have been born in Herts or have been a resident in the county for at least nine months prior to the race to compete. Captains have to enter teams in advance so look out for details on the message board or via email in order to sign up. On the day, collect your number from captains.

More info: http://www.hertscaaa.org.uk

Southern Champs: Saturday 28 January, Parliament Hill, London

Regional event made up of clubs from the south of England. Approx 8k for women and 15k for men.

What to do: Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered pre-entered by captains. Look out for posts/emails to sign up nearer the time. The event is chip-timed so you must collect your chip and number from captains on the day.

More info: www.seaa.org.uk

The National Champs: Saturday 25 February, Wollaton Park, Nottingham


Prestigious and historic event which clubs across England take part in. Approx 8k for women and 12k for men.

What to do: Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered pre-entered by captains. The event is chip-timed so you must collect your chip and number from captains on the day.

More info: www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk

Vet Champs: There are also a couple of Vets only championship races (age 35/40 and over for women depending on the event and age 40 and over for men) across the season including the Southern Masters Champs on Saturday 10 December in Oxford, and Herts County Vet Champs in March, date and venue TBC. You must be pre-entered so look out for email/Facebook posts nearer the time.

The Herts County Champs women's race in 2016

RELAYS


Southern XC Relay: Saturday, 22 October, Wormwood Scrubs


Team event involving clubs from the South which is a low key, fun start to the cross country season.

Teams:
Women, 3 x 3k, Men, 4 x 5k

What to do:
Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered and pre-entered by captains. Look out for emails/posts from the captains in the near future.
All runners contribute to the team effort/spirit in cross country races

National XC Relay:  Saturday 5 November, Berry Hill Park, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
Well-supported national event where clubs from around England compete in teams around a course that’s not challenging and is great for spectating.

Teams: Women, 3 x 3k, men, 4 x 5k

What to do: Open to all club members of all abilities but you must be EA registered and pre-entered by captains. Look out for emails/Facebook posts in the near future.

Further questions? 

Check out last year's Guide to Cross Country on the blog which has reasons why you should take part and a list of essential items. 

If you want tips on how to run well over cross country, check out this blog post.

If you need to know anything else, contact XC captains Graham Smith at men @stalbansstriders.com and Wendy Walsh at ladies @stalbansstriders.com 

Now go and get those spikes out!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Helen Cartlidge reports on her first (very muddy) long distance trail race at the North Downs Run

North Downs Run, 30k, 26 June 2016

Unique, scenic, iconic, tough, brutal, hilly, challenging, uplifting... that's how it was described on the T-shirt.

It certainly ticked all those boxes... and muddy, really muddy (it should have given me a clue when it was on the same weekend as Glastonbury!)

The day before, we drove down to my in-laws, who live 10 minutes away from the course. It rained on the journey round the M25, and when we arrived it rained a bit more. I started my pre-race-whinge ritual (often this doesn't start till race day but surprisingly for me,  I was well prepared and started the night before). 

It was going to be wet, muddy, hilly, I didn't have trail shoes, I would end up falling on my bum etc etc. Probably to stop the moaning, my hubby, Arnie, offered to buy me a pair of trail shoes. So, against all general race advice, we went to Bluewater at 8.45pm the night before and purchased my first pair of trail shoes. Gotta love a bit of late night shopping!

Race morning arrived and the weather was... raining (again!) At the race HQ the marshals were wearing head torches and finding race packs in the dark due to a power cut at the sports centre. This, coupled with the fact we met Arnie's cousin, Adam, who knew the route and described conditions as "horrendous", did little to calm my nerves.

I had decided, as this was my first reasonable length trail race, and my training had been a lot skimpier than planned, I would race anonymously, and not in a club vest. However, as I lined up at the start, I felt conspicuous as one of the few NOT wearing a club vest and wearing a new pair of trainers - all the gear, no idea.

The first few kilometres were not too testing, a lap of the sports field and over a golf course. Nothing too bad so far, or too muddy.  The first challenge came at around 7.5-8k where the first steep hill was. It made the St Albans Half look tame in comparison! 

The course was varied with footpaths, through and around fields and meadows, woodland sections, some roads through villages and tracks with gates, stiles and wooden barriers along the way. The marshals were fantastic and  gave  extra info on potential hazards, and even other people using the course, to be aware of. Through the woodland section, each protruding tree root or large rock was highlighted in neon orange spray paint and over hanging branches had tape hanging from them (not that I needed to worry about that!)

8-12k was not undulating but proper hilly! The steepest uphill sections were often a single track path through a field and most people (in my time bracket anyway) walked up. It was somewhat limited to whether the person immediately in front was walking or running, but I was not in any position to overtake anyway.

The weather for the race was ideal - it had eventually stopped raining and was the sort of boring, dull, offensive weather that you wouldn't really enjoy during the summer for anything other than running (or maybe cycling). It was cool, breezy and threatening to rain, although it brightened a little towards the end.

13-20k were more bearable with flatter paths through the woods, albeit with mud and ankle-deep puddles (the new trail shoes were properly tested). The scenery was stunning when it was safe to take your eyes off the ground - wild flower meadows, rolling hills, farms and villages. Around 20k there was another steep climb and (another!) Serpentine lady overtook me but then started walking. We ran at a similar pace for the next 4 kilometres and chatted briefly, until the next water stop. And then she disappeared into the distance and I didn't see her til the finish. Here I wished I had my Striders vest on, so I could try to convince her (and myself!) that I was a more stern opposition for her! Can race vests actually help you run faster or give you a psychological edge??


The last 5k seemed particularly harsh. Although I knew more or less where I was and there was "only a parkrun to go..!" it felt like a long slog. I took a walking break at each incline (only when I saw people ahead stopping to walk, so conceded it must be ok!) I had optimistically convinced myself on the way out, that the last 3k was predominantly downhill. Rather disappointingly, it wasn't, although I did manage to overtake a few runners in the last km, and finished in 2.45.

Being a new experience, I hadn't known what to expect or what target to give myself, but vaguely aimed at under 3 hours so very pleased with the result. As well as a new pair of trainers (which were fine - no blisters), I also wore a different Garmin. I looked at it once, didn't register what info it was giving me, and decided I couldn't really pace a race of this kind so I didn't look at it again. I found it really liberating not to give myself any time goals for each kilometre.

It was tough, it was brutal, ( did I mention it was muddy?) the recovery was worse than a marathon... but I want to do it again, if only to partake in the free cake and post race massage that I managed to overlook at the finish!

Next time I might even do the training I pretended I was going to do... oh, and wear a club vest.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Jack's back! Jack Brooks brings us up-to-date with his racing in the UK, US and Canada

Jack Brooks is back running and back on the blog after a year in which he has struggled with a knee injury...
JULY 2015 TO MAY 2016
Another medal for the collection after Vancouver
Potteries Marathon, Stoke on Trent: 5th July 2015: This marathon was brought back from the grave this year after a long absence. I had some misgivings about running it as my left leg had started to cause me problems, but I was committed to sharing a room in Stoke and had arranged to meet quite a few friends up there so I decided to give it a go. 
Unfortunately the injury flared up at about 13 miles and I finally limped across the finish line in a time of 5:23:56.
Overlander Marathon, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada: 16th August 2015: This race comprised two laps of a figure of eight course with enough hills thrown in to add some variety. I had hoped that my leg injury would have sorted itself out as I’d reduced my mileage considerably since the Potteries marathon. 
Unfortunately this proved not to be the case, but I’d invested a lot of money into this Canada trip and was determined to complete the three races I’d entered if at all possible. I finished in 4:59:13 and came 13th out of the 14 runners competing in the marathon. I had an interesting encounter with a red fox which I passed on the first lap. I was only about 4 feet away from it as it stood nonchalantly by the side of the road totally ignoring my presence. 
After the race my friend, Rich Holmes, and I flew back to Edmonton, where we picked up a rental car and set off on a sightseeing tour. On the Monday we drove to Dinosaur Provincial Park and then spent the night in the city of Brooks. We spent Tuesday in Calgary, where we spent the best part of a day in the Heritage Park Historical Village, which was well worth the very modest entry fee we were charged. After that we spent two days in the Rockies in Banff and Jasper National Parks, where the views were spectacular and the hiking was excellent. On the Friday we returned to Edmonton to pick up our race packets and meet up with Rich’s wife, Jeanne.
Beware of the bear on the Yellowknife course
Edmonton Marathon, Alberta, Canada: 23rd August 2015: I found this race really tough. Whilst the route was pleasant and the marshals were extremely supportive, the altitude and hot weather didn’t help and I was suffering with knee pain pretty much from the start. 
My eventual finish time was 5:36:53 and I was extremely relieved to see that finish line. On the Monday Rich, Jeanne and I flew to North Carolina for a few days of R&R before flying back up to Quebec.
I’ve completed marathons in eight of the 13 Canadian Provinces and Territories I’ll soon have to decide whether I want to complete the remaining five and thus become the first person from the UK to run a marathon in every State, Province and Territory in the USA and Canada
Quebec Marathon, Canada: 30th August 2015: We arrived in Quebec on the Friday, collected our race packets and spent Friday and Saturday exploring the city. I found it to be a thoroughly fascinating place and could happily have spent more than three days there. However, if I return I will need to improve my French as many of the locals barely speak any English. 
The marathon route is a point to point one commencing in the city of Levis and finishing in Quebec City right by the Saint-Lawrence River. On a couple of occasions I found myself running alongside a guy called Benoit Rancourt, who was running his 100th marathon and had noticed the 100 marathon club vest that I was wearing. Whilst I was still struggling with injury I thoroughly enjoyed the event and my limp earned me some sympathetic and supportive comments from quite a number of runners. Of course, if I spoke better French I’d have understood exactly what most of them were saying. 
As it was I finished in 5:09:58 and had an evening in which to recover before my flight home the following day. I’m glad I completed all three races, even though the process was painful. I can’t really complain about my injury as I’ve had a very long spell without any serious problems and I was fully aware of the risks I was taking by running these races. 
Now that I’ve completed marathons in eight of the 13 Canadian Provinces and Territories I’ll soon have to decide whether I want to complete the remaining five and thus become the first person from the UK to run a marathon in every State, Province and Territory in the USA and Canada.
Huffin’ Puffin Half Marathon, St John’s, Newfoundland: 27th September 2015: Having flown out to Canada for just five days I decided that, at the very least, I would walk the half marathon. This was probably a silly mistake as my knee pain made its presence known again after only about two miles. I finished in 3:13:34.
Totem poles on the Vancouver Marathon route
Vancouver Marathon, Canada: 1st May 2016: Little did I know that my acute knee pain would not disappear until 18th March 2016. Ironically I had been to the doctor the previous day to arrange a knee scan and then the pain disappeared overnight. However, I found it incredibly difficult to start running again and by the time I arrived in Vancouver I was extremely nervous about tackling a marathon on the back of a limited number of training runs, none of which exceeded six miles. 
I had waited over nine months to attempt my 382nd marathon, which was significant to me because it would take my marathon mileage raced past the 10,000 miles mark. My plan was to adopt the Jeff Galloway method of taking regular walk breaks right from the start of the race. Fortunately I had no knee pain throughout the event, although everything else hurt. 
I managed to overtake Badger from Fairlands Valley Spartans at around 23 miles and finished in 5:29:13. One of the few advantages of taking walk breaks was that I was able to fully appreciate the beauty of the course. 
All in all I found Vancouver to be a spectacular city. On our final day there Jean Champoux, a running friend who lives there picked us up from our hotel and drove us out to Whistler, where he is a ski instructor. After he’d given us a full tour we returned to his flat in Vancouver where his wife Julie had prepared a sumptuous meal for us. On the Thursday we flew to Washington DC to pick up a rental car and commence our long drive up to Delaware.
The Wilmington river front
Delaware Marathon, Wilmington: 8th May 2016: Unfortunately whenever anyone mentions Delaware my thoughts automatically gravitate towards the song, which starts “What did Delaware?” and then runs through various lines all referring to US States. So Dela “wore her New Jersey” etc. Irritating! 
Wilmington has a pleasant boardwalk area along the Christina river front, which was where the marathon started and finished. The course comprised two laps with the first two miles or so beside the river and the remainder along fairly hilly terrain. There was not much support out on the course, but there were a few people I knew there and I ran with Steve Boone from Texas for a little bit discussing mutual friends and our mutual lack of stamina. 
I finished in 5:12:12 and was happy that this run felt marginally more comfortable than Vancouver had.
Maine Coast Marathon: 15th May 2016: From Wilmington, Roger Biggs and I drove to Bar Harbor, which is one of the prettiest places I have been in the USA. We spent three days on the Island exploring the town and the Acadia National Park. Everybody told us that we were there at the best time of year because tourists had not yet started arriving in large numbers. 
On the Friday we drove via Portland to the Biddeford area and were able on the Saturday to pick up our race numbers and explore some of the beautiful coastline that this point to point marathon follows. 
On the race morning we parked in Biddeford and were taken by bus to the race start at Kennebunk. There were no big hills, but the route was certainly undulating and my legs were feeling pretty tired at a fairly early stage. Cheri Pompeo from Washington State overtook me, as she usually does, at around 18 miles and her husband, Greg, was way in the distance with the front runners. 
I was generally pleased with my time of 4:58:47 as it showed a significant improvement on what I’d achieved in the previous two races.
Mainly Marathons New England Series Connecticut Marathon, Simsbury: 20th May 2016: We drove to West Hartford, Connecticut on the Monday to stay with our friends Scott and Anna Falk, who we’d last seen in 2004. Since then they’ve acquired two daughters, Abbie and Zoe, who are 10 years old and identical twins. I was only able to tell the girls apart because they have slightly different hair partings. They certainly kept me on my toes all week playing chess, bombarding me with questions and playing their violins. It was really nice to spend time with the family and they entertained us royally. We went to see the girls playing with a full orchestra on the night before the marathon.
A selfie with Patricia during the Connecticut race
Somehow Roger had found out that the Mainly Marathons organisation was offering runners the opportunity to run one of their New England races free provided that they entered the race at least three months prior to it taking place. Consequently Roger and I received free marathon race entries and Scott received a free entry for the half marathon. 
The Connecticut race was the 6th race in this seven day series (seven races in seven different States in seven days). The organisation specialises in picking short out and back routes in different States and runners then run a specified number of laps in order to complete their requisite race distance. 
For the marathon we had to do 12 laps of a 2.184 mile out and back route about nine tenths of which was a paved footpath and cycleway and one tenth comprised a mixture of slightly soggy grass and rough ground. The cumulative effect of the previous three races caught up with me at Connecticut and I really struggled, finishing in 5:15:10. 
I was mightily surprised to find that we received a t-shirt and medal even though we’d paid no entry fee and found the event to be as friendly as the Mainly Marathons event I ran in Minnesota last year. 
There were a few familiar faces there all of whom were on their 6th day of racing. Larry Macon from Texas is someone who completes well over 50 marathons a year and was cheerful as ever. Foxy from Milton Keynes was struggling, but garrulous and Patricia Groombridge-Klein, who was running her 6th consecutive 50k race looked fresh as a daisy throughout and insisted on taking a selfie with me as I was on my final lap. 
That evening the Scotts threw a party for us, which was a great way to wind up the holiday.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Fun in the sun: The Striders (or was it the Minions?) weekend away in the New Forest

On a Friday afternoon at the start of May, an intrepid (have you ever tackled the M25 on a Friday afternoon?) bunch of 38 Striders left the comfort of suburban Hertfordshire for the New Forest for our now annual weekend away, buoyed  by the news that temperatures were set to rocket and be higher than in Spain.

Our humble abode in Beaulieu
Home for the group (not sure what the collective noun is for a bunch of Striders – a Farah maybe?) for the next two nights was a school field centre located at Beaulieu in the heart of the New Forest. Initial impressions were that our temporary home was comfy, clean, and cosy i.e. small, especially the child-size bunk beds, although what else would you expect at a school field centre.
 
After an initial visit to the local pub, the first job was to unload the contents of Cathal’s TARDIS van, which despite its small appearance on the outside, contained at least 17 bikes, and copious boxes of food and drink. Dinner consisted of a delicious pasta bake, pizza, (necessary carbs for the following morning's parkrun) salad, fruit and cake – let's face it no Striders occasion would be complete without cake.
Keeping hydrated ahead of the morning runs
Friday night entertainment consisted of a further visit to the pub and then drinking/socialising in the hostel swapping stories of running glories, making new friends and future plans. Thankfully the games cupboard at the hostel only had children's games, snakes and ladders, monopoly...and, luckily, not Twister.

On Saturday morning, we awoke to the sight of some rather tired and weary looking Striders - due to the small beds, or possibly the effects of the previous night’s alcohol - and over breakfast we played the game of trying to recognise people in their pyjamas rather than running kit.
 
We then set off to the local parkrun at Brockenhurst with an advance party on bikes, followed by the majority in a convoy of cars, guided by a mixture of map/GPS/local knowledge (local knowledge proving to be superior). The 15-minute journey was punctured by stops, firstly to allow the wild ponies and even cows to meander across the road - quite a sight for us townies - and then secondly stopping for in-car selfies with said ponies and cows (not sure where that is covered in the Highway Code).

The local runners of Brockenhurst were pleased to see us and very welcoming - as is usually the case with parkrun. The course turned out to be four laps of the local college playing field, not the most inspiring, but maybe a reminder of how lucky we are at St Albans. 
 
The 'Minions' at Brockenhurst parkrun
A good performance by Striders (dubbed the Minions by one local wag) filled seven of the top ten places with Cathal our first finisher in 2nd place (but then parkrun isn't a race), and at least one PB. Most impressive performances came from Ben and Amy, who remembered to run, rather than be Race Directors, and most definitely from Charlotte who completed an exceptional jog/walk whilst heavily pregnant. 

We then moved en masse to the local coffee shop, which proved to be rather traumatic for the woman in charge, as it was the one day when her boss thought they would be quiet, so had taken the day off, and left her in sole charge. But she coped admirably and we were in no hurry!

Some hardy souls then departed for a bike ride or for a further run, which included having to cross a raging torrential river (well that’s what they told me) and having that agonising moment that every runner dreads of seeing their brand new trainers get dirty.
A group run in the sun
Saturday afternoon was spent on smaller group activities, the Striders Facebook page keeping us informed of each other's activities with regular updates and photos. The activities included mountain biking, a trip to the beach to see expensive yachts, Mike’s walking expedition which included the unexpected log challenge, the Aqua park group (surely a classic example of Hobson’s choice), and a further bike ride for some, which proved to be longer than expect due to some dubious map reading.
 
Once back in the hostel and showered, we journeyed into the neighbouring town with heightened appetites from our excursions. As per the rest of the trip, the logistics of managing 38 Striders into a series of taxi/mini buses/restaurant/meal choices was excellently marshalled by Jen, with help from Stu. A delightful meal, with interesting and varied conversation.
 
Further drinks were then consumed - well, we had to clear the fridge of the various bottles of alcohol before Sunday’s departure.
 
A Saturday afternoon bike ride for some, while others hit the beach
The final activity for the weekend on Sunday morning was a gentle run to the nearby harbour of Buckler's Hard (insert your own gag here), with several people appearing to be sweating pure Prosecco, and being met on our return by Tina's cooked breakfast – surely the perfect way to start a Sunday morning.

The rest of the morning was spent clearing the hostel, the cleaning team making the Wombles (70's children TV characters who were OCD on cleanliness) look like a bunch of work-shy students, so much so, that we actually left the place (once the last bike group had returned) in a cleaner state than we had found it!
 
As the sun had now materialised the majority of us stopped back in Brockenhurst, for a well-deserved beer garden/sun bathing/recovery session and to begin planning next year's trip.


A fantastic weekend away, spent with some wonderful people. Superbly organised by Jen.

Already looking forward to next year.

Andy Normile

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Join Team Striders at the St Albans Half

Here's some extra motivation for our speedier members looking to improve their time at this year's St Albans Half – prize money!

The organisers have announced there will be £300 on offer to the fastest men's and women's teams when the race takes place on Sunday, 12 June.
Blake Vivian helped the men's team take victory last year

To be eligible for the prize money, you must select that you are running for team St Albans Striders when you enter the race at www.stalbanshalfmarathon.co.uk (if you have already registered and didn't join the running club team, please call the St Albans Half organisers on 01727 819327 so they can add you to it).

The following rules apply to the competition:
  • Finishing positions for the first three men and women from each club will be added. The team with the lowest score will win.
  • Runners are still eligible to score in prize categories as well as the Running Club prizes
  • Must be a UKA Affiliated member
  • Must be registered under your Running Club Team
  • Must be aged 17+
As this is a race on home turf, and an event where historically we have scooped the team and individual prizes, we should be in with a good chance of winning!

Last year the men's team were victorious thanks to Blake Vivian (1:75:17), Pablo Plaza Lastras (1:26.30) and Craig Bowie (1:28.26).

So if you want to try and help us beat other running clubs to the prize money, sign up now!
Claire Kremer won a vets prize last year

If you can't run, then do come along on the day and cheer on our runners of all paces as support from the crowd can make all the difference when the going gets tough.

Entries are also still open for the other races on the day including the walking half marathon, wheelchair marathon, 5k and 1.5 mile children's fun run.

For more information visit the St Albans Half website
















Monday, 9 May 2016

Club records update

The club records have been updated and revamped for 2016 and you can view the full list here
(and via the 'members' tab when visiting the St Albans Striders homepage).

The page has been managed and updated over the last few years thanks to Jonathan Redshaw, Ed Blake and other members of the committee and we're grateful to them for establishing a record of our club's 32 year history.

From track races to cross countries and marathons, the records celebrate the achievements of our speedy runners in all age categories, who we are proud to have representing the club in races around the world.

In the last year alone, a number of the records have been achieved, particularly on the track thanks to the club getting involved in the Southern Counties Vets League.

Records achieved recently include Paul Adams running a marathon best of 2:27.46 at London in 2015, and junior talent James McMurray proving just as successful at senior level taking the men's 10k record with 30.39 at the Serpentine New Year 10k. James is no stranger to rewriting history having previously taken a 1500m junior record off Steve Cram. No doubt he will be achieving many more club records in years to come…
James McMurray pictured winning the Serpentine New Year 10k and setting a new club record

At this year's London Marathon, Peter Crowdell made Striders history by breaking a V40 record which has been held by Mike Starr for 25 years! Peter clocked 2:41.05 to lower Mike's record from 1991 of 2:42.37, also achieved at London. Mike still holds the V50 record with 2:48.10.

Meanwhile in the women's records, Wendy Webster overtook Deborah Steer to take the V35 10 mile record at Buntingford in December (but Deborah still has plenty more to her name!) and Wendy Walsh and Kate Tettmar set a number of track records. Deirdre Heydecker took five minutes off her own V55 marathon record when she set a PB of 3:25.50 at London in 2015.

I am now taking over updating the page so if you would like to claim a record – either recent or historic - please get in touch at clubrecords at stalbansstriders.com

Peter Crowdell, pictured right with Strider Steve Buckle, broke the V40 Striders marathon record this year
I have tried my best to ensure it is currently accurate but if I have missed a time you have achieved which you think beats the one listed - and it meets the criteria outlined below - then do let me know, as trawlling through results dating back to 1984 is a huge task (and I have had to rely on online records) so I may have missed one or two!

The rules are explained at the top of the records page and have been agreed by the committee for the following reasons…

Club records must be set in an official, permitted and certified race: This is to ensure the time was achieved in a race situation on an accurately measured course. Note, this means a time achieved in a parkrun will not count as a 5k record as the events are not certified or advertised as races.

The results must show St Albans Striders as the affiliated club, a club vest must be worn and you must be a paid-up member of the club when setting the record. Second claim members can achieve a record in these circumstances if they are competing in a race in which they cannot represent their first claim club: Speaks for itself – if you want to be a St Albans Striders record holder, you need to be competing for St Albans Striders! Please note, I haven't yet discussed with the committee if records can be achieved in a St Albans AC vest, so if this is agreed some of the track records will be amended accordingly.

Where both gun and chip times are available, the chip time should be used: This has been amended from the use of gun times in line with the Power Of Ten's ranking system, and based on the fact the technology allows for a more accurate time from start to finish – particularly in big city races where it may take time for competitors to cross the start line after the gun goes off.

The following IAAF competition rules are adopted for club records in road running events: The start and finish points of a course, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance.  The overall decrease in elevation between the start and finish shall not exceed 1:1000, i.e. 1m per km.  This is to prevent an athlete achieving a time that may have been enhanced by a tailwind throughout, or by an excessively downhill course.

If you achieve a club record in the future and I miss it, don't be modest about it – let me know and I will sound the 'club record klaxon' via our Facebook and Twitter pages and ask for your praises to be sung as part of the Tuesday evening training announcements.

Happy training and racing and remember if you are keen to gain a club record, in the slightly amended words of the Record Breaker's theme tune:

'If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest,
(in a Strider's vest!),
oo-oohh, dedication's what you need,
If you wanna be a (Striders) record breaker,
record breaker!'

Lucy Waterlow

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Get into the Olympic spirit with Striders! Track racing opportunities this spring/summer

You don't have to be as speedy as an Olympian to take part in track races this summer.

If you want to try something different and take part in some athletics events, there are a number of opportunities available to EA registered members over the spring and summer – all free of charge.
The Vets team at one of last year's league meetings

We team up with St Albans AC to compete in the Southern Athletics League (SAL).

Two of this year's fixtures are at our track so it doesn't involve travelling far. Do come along and support our runners if you can't take part!

The dates and venues for the SAL fixtures are as follows:-

1. Saturday, 16 April - St Albans
2. Saturday, 21 May - St Albans
3. Saturday, 18 June - Mile End
4. Saturday, 9 July - Lee Valley
5. Saturday, 20 August - Lee Valley

Each fixture starts at midday with the last race at 4.30pm but the timetable of events will vary.

Brian Yeomans is the team manager for the SAL so if you are interested in taking part, please contact him via his Facebook page or email brianyeomans at hotmail.com

Meanwhile, if you are aged over 35 you can also take part in the Southern Counties Veterans Athletic League. We are in the Herts and North Middlesex Division with fixtures as follows…

1. Monday, 25 April - Lee Valley
2. Monday, 16 May – Stevenage
3. Monday, 13 June - Allianz Stadium
4. Monday, 11 July - Hemel Hempstead

Your Striders membership gets better with age! The Vets League is open to all EA registered members aged 35 plus
All fixtures run from 6.30pm till 9pm but as with the SAL, the timetable of events will vary at each meeting.

Andrew Maher is the team manager so contact him via his Facebook page or email maherrajah at googlemail.com for more information or if you want to take part.

Both leagues include running races from 100m to 5000m and relays, you can also have a go at field events like the long jump.

They are both open to all abilities but the SAL is slightly more competitive, as there will be speedy youngsters taking part. However, you are in with a chance to win points for the team no matter what your ability - as points are awarded to two scorers per team with six points going to the first fastest scorer, five to the second and so on down to one point for the sixth scorer. As some events may only have six or fewer competitors taking part, you are guaranteed points just for finishing/recording a jump or throw regardless of your time/height/distance.

In the Vets league, you will compete for points against those in your age category (35, 40, 50, 60).

While we want to do as well as a club as possible, primarily these events are about having fun competing against other local clubs, getting into the team spirit and trying something new.

So you might not make it to Rio, but you could achieve a PB or club record - or discover a hidden talent for hurdling!