Thursday, 31 May 2012

Brigels Berglauf

The Alpine mountain racing season is well underway now and after a 2nd place a few weeks ago in the Zugerberg Classic I tested my form again on monday at the Tavanasa-Brigels Berglauf deep in Graubunden.

Its a fantastic race starting starting under the old bridge in Tavanasa and then after a gentle first 3km the race takes a sharp turn into the forest and climbs steeply for the next 5km. Indeed most of the 780m of ascent comes during this middle phase of the race and the steep forest paths are briefly interspersed with sections of flat or downhill running on very narrow and twisty tracks. Definitely one where some local knowledge comes in handy if you are to stay on the path and avoid the sharp drop !

After a steady start I got into a nice rythmn and passed Swiss cross country skiier Toni Livers at 2 km and then finally caught the leader and last years winner Florian Suter bfore the 4km mark. It was then a game of cat and mouse through the forest as Florian was able to open a gap on the flat and downhill sections and I was able to catch up again on the steep climbs. Emerging from the forest at 7km we were greeted with a final climb through a typical grassy Swiss Alpine meadow with loads of spectators cheering you on. This was where I decided to make my move as I really didn't fancy a last kilometre burn up through the streets of Brigels (top left). By the top of the climb I had a gap but not a yet a winning one. Fortunately the climb had taken less out of my legs than Florian's and I was able to hammer the last undulating kilometer through town in 3 mins to cross the line in 42mins and 8 secs.

One of the great things about these events are the kids races that are put on, often after the grown ups have finished. So we all got to stand out in the square and cheer on the aspiring olympians as they raced like lunatics round the village. Best of all was the youngest age group who got to do an out and back round the fountain (about 150m in total) chasing a guy with a cuddly toy strapped to his back (left). Look at the angle the kids are leaning over at as they sprint round the corner.

The day was finished off with risotto and the presentations where during my podium interview I succeeded in mangling some of my german. much to the amusement of the audience, and then redeemed myself by mustering a few words of Rumansch to end the interview which went down well in this Rumansch speaking village.

Saucony Hampshire Grand Prix - 18th July

The first Saucony Hampshire Grand Prix will take place at the recently refurbished Down Grange Athletics Track in Basingstoke on Wed 18th July and will offer a high quality open competition for all age groups from Under 11s to Masters covering a range of track and field events.

The U11 Quad Kids event starts at 4.30pm with the last race around 9.30pm. For timetable, online entry and full details go to the meeting website

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Olympic Torch in Yeovil !

Ilchester Road
What a fantastic half hour this morning. Just as I was starting to get jaded by the Olympic circus and in particular the selling of relay torches on eBay I got a reminder as to what a powerful symbol the games can be and how it motivates people.

Amy Williams
At 7.30 this morning there were thousands of people lining the streets of Yeovil to welcome the Olympic Torch and its relay team of torchbearers including Yeovil Town Road Running Club's Malcolm Maxted.

Young and old took advantage of the early morning sunshine to watch the torch pass through town and be carried on its final few hundred metres up Ilchester Road by Olympic skeleton bob champion Amy Williams (right).

Its still a source of immense frustration that we haven't really capitalised on the Olympics to totally transform sport in our schools though there has definitely been an increase in awareness and sports like ours are starting to become cool again. And who knows, if Lawrence Okoye or Sophie Hitchon produce a big throw we could be overwhelmed with aspiring discus and hammer throwers come august ! Lets be hoping. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Crewkerne 10k 2012

Yesterday was the first edition of the Crewkerne 10km road race which replaced the long standing 9 miles after 30 years. Its an event that has a special place in my memories having first run the 4.5 mile 'fun run' here back in the mid 80's when age was no barrier to running road races ! And then in 2009 I broke the course record for the 9 on what was known as one of the toughest road race courses in this part of the country.

In recent years dwindling numbers in the 9 miles have forced a bit of a re-think and host club Crewkerne Running Club decided to relauch the event as a 10k, include it in the Somerset Race series and bring it forward a couple of weeks in the calendar. The first week in June has produced some horribly hot races in the past and those narrow country lanes can get pretty stuffy so a mid-May date was welcome. And they did a great job with their new event.

The new course out to Merriott and back through Hinton is still a stinker with the massive climbs in the first and last 2.5km still there and with an added 3km drag up out of Merriott to knock the stuffing out of your legs before the final assault.
photo: Tracy Symes

A nice innovation this year has been to add a 'King of the Hill' prize at the top of the first climb. This is something that the Yeovil Half Marathon have included half way round (based on fastest ascent rather than first to the top) and it works brilliantly - adding some much needed spice.

I was happy to let the cavalry charge up the hill have its 3 minutes of fame and then pick off the winners in the subsequent mile as their legs swam in hydrogen ions. Clear of the pack at the 3km mark I was able to run comfortably hard all the way to Hinton before putting my foot down at the 6km mark and running the closing stretch as hard as I could in attempt to get under 33 minutes. In the end I came up a bit short but for 12 months at least I will be the owner of both course records :-)


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Saucony Kinvara 3 review

The newly launched Saucony Kinvara 3 is an update on the successful Kinvara and Kinvara 2 shoes which have done much to popularise the minimal trend in recent years. The original Kinvara's were a hard shoe for me to fall in love with as the ride was on the soft side for my liking and also had a fairly high level of outsole wear if running on tarmac.

So jumping into the Kinvara 3 I noticed straight away what felt like a firmer, more solid ride while maintaining flexibility. Perhaps this is down to a thicker and wider midsole which manages to combine a minimal 4mm heel to toe drop with a nice stable platform to run on.

photo by adrian royle
These really needed no breaking in and the second time out I wore them in a 5k road race (left) with good results. The 218g weight puts them on a par with most racing shoes (certainly for the longer distances) and they felt fine in the 5k with no calf muscle soreness the next day.

The outsole looks like it is going to wear better than previous models and the one watch out for is the toe box and overall sizing. I've got quite a broad forefoot and the toe box on this shoe is very wide. Indeed the overall size of the UK8.5 was quite generous and I may even be better off in a UK8 which would be surprising give the consistency of Saucony sizing over the years. So definitely one to try before you buy to make sure you get the right fit

The uppers are available in a range of colours and the design is really slick, both in look and feel. You hardly notice that the upper is there and the colours really do get you noticed !