Updated: Monday am. The tour ran every evening Monday to Friday in a variety of locations around Epsom and Ewell. It was organised by travelling race-director David Denton who also runs the 10k series at the end of the year. The ‘read more’ section has a summary of 26.2 results.
Race 5 – Nescot
The cry was loud and impassioned, resounding around the grounds. It had come from the bar, though, of that Gruber was quite sure. He was less sure that introducing new characters at this point was a good idea, so he paused to nudge a bemused, drunken Carruthers further into the bushes next to court 3 and made his way up to the clubhouse.
“Ah, there you are. Well done Gruber”, said Captain Shiner, as the former stumbled over the step – who put that there? – and tumbled into the bar. My, but it was good to be back at base. It was mildly pungent here, one too many unwashed racket swingers, Gruber guessed, but affection for the place was undimmed.
“So!” cried Shiner. “You made it back. Have you seen Carruthers? Ah well, I’m sure he’s around here somewhere.” Shiner was looking a little less dapper than usual, the result of one too many evenings spent dodging rain showers and running around fields, but his spirits were evidently higher than the night before.
“A good week, then, Gruber!” he exclaimed. Gruber nodded by way of agreement, pausingonly to extract a sheet of results from his knapsack.
“Here, sir – final 26.2 results for the whole tour”.
“Marvellous – look at that, 10 finishers; 11 if we include Sue, and I think we will.”
“I’ve taken the liberty of summarising with a chart, sir. I’m rather proud of it. Click on it if you want to make it bigger.”
“The easiest internet enlargement ever. Someone missing, isn’t there, Gruber?”
“Yes sir, I’ve left Joe Chang out – his high finish was creating a lot of space at the top of the chart. This way makes the others’ progression much clearer.”
Shiner grunted. “If you say so, Gruber. If you say so. A fine second overall for Kevin Furlong. What about the non-completers? A few names missing here”.
“Yes sir.” Gruber’s lack of effusiveness was beginning to be a problem, but a crash and kerfuffle announced the arrival of Carruthers.
“There you are!” he cried “Anyone seen the gin?” Gruber steered the new arrival into a chair. “We were just discussing the tour, sir”. “Capital, Groobs,” said Carruthers. “Pip pip, tiddly pie, it wasn’t quite cricket but marvellous strokes from all the chaps.”
Before he could go any further with his metaphor, Shiner interrupted. “What did you think of that last night, Carruthers?”
“Damnably odd thing, sir. First thing I saw was the Furlong talking to a strawberry, and letters H and O surrounded some of the other runners. Had to check the hip flask just in case, but it was still full. Then I saw the cameras – some filming shenanigans in amongst the race, most perplexing. They even had their own chant, ‘anyone not signed a release form?’ which I can’t see catching on. I certainly ignored it without problem, prefer to make my own releases, if you see what I mean”.
“I’d rather not. I hear some felt the course for this handicap race was a little confusing.”
“Possibly, sir. Seemed perfectly simple to me. It’s usually 3.something on the final night, we just had an extra up and down to make it 4. Ish. Always with the Ish, these races. Let me draw you a diagram.”
“See? Simple as you like, and so easy to describe – run up there, come back, go back up, turn right, then right again, left into the field, immediately left again, round the edge of the field, back into this one, left, then right, back up the field, round the tape, back down and right. Then do it again – two laps, of course. And just a run in a field for most of it, but then something marvellous happened, sir.”
“They entered a second field?” asked Gruber, straight-faced.
“Not just that, Gruber. They all started to meet up, just after coming out of the second field. Quite the procession there, it was, and the chance for some racing, some shouting. Suddenly it was all quite entertaining”.
“Good stuff, Carruthers. I’m not sure I’ll try to recreate it, but good stuff. You were there throughout, Carruthers, what happened to our non finishers?”
“A damned shame, sir, damned shame. Matthews bought it on the first night, terrible logistical troubles at Waterloo, damn Napoleon’s hide. Davison went over the top on the second night. In fact he went over the top every night, seems to be a ‘thing’, but he managed to run as well on all but the second night. And Brunners had a near thing on the second, charging in at the last minute before succumbing to navigation fever on the third.”
“Pity. Good lads, all of them. What about Digger, Spanky and the Don?”
“Digger finished second v65, very proud to have been ahead of those lads who didn’t make it, not to mention some youngsters and a couple of lady chaps.”
“Must have had a prize, eh?”
“Well, funny you should mention that, sir. Not a sausage. Though what he’d have done with a sausage I’m not sure, but never look a gift-sausage in the mouth, I always say.”
“He does, sir” said Gruber, wearing a funny look.
Carruthers turned to look at him askance before continuing. “Yes, well. The Don is just called Don, as it turns out, and he unfettered himself through the week, gave his all and finished in some discomfort, I think.”
“You can see his progression through the field on my chart, sir” said Gruber, producing a copy for Carruthers.
“Good stuff, Gruber. And Spanky?”
“Yes, Spanky. We had a Binkie, there must have been a Spanky.”
“Er, right. Yes, well, er, Spanky did well too.”
“Would expect nothing else.”
“Quite, sir. At any rate, the next generation came along nicely, young Chris Wilson is another one who charged through the field. He, Toze, Nellie, Binkie and the Don moved up places on the final day, which is exceptional work.”
“But it looks as though everyone is higher, other than JC.”
“Yes sir, but 15th and 17th from the Thursday night didn’t make it, so everyone below them moved up two places. Those others beat people who were there as well as those who weren’t. The known knowns, not just the unknown knowns, if you like.”
“I’m not sure I do. Still, I think I might just take that as ‘didn’t they do well’ for all concerned.”
Gruber raised an eyebrow quizzically. He wasn’t a man given to general, vague approximations. But as he opened his mouth to speak he was quietened by Carruthers, who glanced in his direction with a look that said ‘you produce another chart, sunshine, and you’ll be eating it’.
“Fair enough sir, we’ll leave it at that.”
Race 5 results
|RACE 5: FRIDAY 10 JUNE: NESCOT|
Race 4 – Nonsuch park
“Captain, I…” Sergeant Gruber paused, uncertain whether he should go on.
“It’s alright, Gruber – I’m just tired, but I can take it. How many this time?”
“Another 5, sir. It’s a bit…”
“Better, I know, but still too many!” the captain interjected roughly. “Alright, dismissed, Gruber.”
Wearily, Captain Shiner turned back to his desk as Gruber backed out. Just a tour, a short tour, that’s all this was meant to be. He’d spent 6 months in ‘Nam and brought everyone back, but Epsom – Epsom was different. They’d lost 17 of the original 122 in race 2, another 12 in race 3, and now another 5 were gone. Just 88 left in the ever-present group. Shiner banged his desk in frustration, and called for Gruber.
“Sergeant, I meant to ask – any wounded?”
“We’ve had reports of several flesh wounds, sir, but I think they’re all from that idiot Matthews falling off things.”
“Ah yes. Oh dear – still, good for the plaster makers to make some sales. So no one else?”
“No sir, and in fact one or two people have returned from earlier nights, plus the new draftees have done well. The Hercules Wimbledon feller really shook things up last night, surprising Chang with his pace; nearly as quick as starlet Holland on Wednesday.”
Well, that wasn’t so bad. Still too many falling by the wayside but Surrey must just be different to Nam. Massaging his thighs to push the soreness from previous nights’ efforts out – so weary! – Shiner called for his adjutant. “Results!” he said “Let’s look at last night, then”.
“Very good, sir,” said Stereotype, who’d appeared as if by magic. “More good performances from 26.2. I’ve circled the chaps – even if they’re girl chaps – you should praise in your speech.”
Hmm, this was interesting, though Shiner. A speech, amongst the old timers? He’d be lucky to get a word in edgewise. Still, these did make interesting reading; ‘Messrs Furlong and the Wilsons ran pretty much as fast as they ever have. If Furlong keeps this up, he’ll clock under 24 for 5k, and then where will we be?’ He paused, remembering ‘Nam. Some fast running there, albeit of necessity, hard to stay cool when men came at you with guns and hard stares. ‘Most people were positioned lower than in the other races, but Davison has galloped through. Seems to be getting stronger as the week goes on. Good man. And young Chris Wilson – by crikey, we should have him running every night at this rate of improvement, be good, damned good, to have a Wilson up front again. As for the boy Don Esslemont – well, the people who beat him earlier in the week will be shouting ringer at him. If they can get near enough, which seems unlikely.’
Adjutant Results coughed discreetly. “Yes, Stereotype, I know – not everyone had a lovely time”. ‘Mr Tozer, hmm, not his night last night. He’s better than that, must have got stuck behind something he didn’t want to lose sight of, that’s usually the way with these chaps that suddenly slow down. And my, I have seen some sights this week.’
Just one more night. ‘Hold it together for one more night,’ was Shiner’s silent imprecation. Gruber entered, bringing tea. “Thanks Gruber. You know, Sergeant, this could end well: Binkie as first v70, Chang as third senior – that would be a fine week, wouldn’t it? Something to tell the kids back at base about?”
“Indeed, sir. And don’t forget Tozer and Wilkie have the v65 sewn up, and Sunders is third v60.”
“You’re right, Gruber. You’re right. In some ways this is better than ‘Nam.”
“Well of course it is, sir. This is Surrey, god’s own county – leave North London for the luvvies.” So, weary legs prepared themselves for one final effort. A handicap, they called it; a mass finish, a chance to settle scores, one last push, the big sprint, over the field and away we go. And then to the bar. Ah, the bar. The bar, and the chat.
Race 3 – Hogsmill
A figure of 8 route, the classic English pear: small top and bigger, fatter bottom half. The course was a mixture of tarmac and slower grass, and easier to get lost on – chairman Joe ended up in a brief holding pattern in one dead end before the next runner pointed the way through a gate. The most significant part of the evening was not the hill we took on twice, painful though that was, but the monsoon-style rain that likes to pour down in June to giggle at climate-change deniers. It abated briefly about 10 minutes in, before throwing it down again.
Doing a quick time comparison between race 2’s tarmac and this one, it seems that Joe, Derick and Lizzie are our tarmac team, while Don, Chris, Mike, Ed and Kevin run significantly more quickly off road. Neil and I were a little quicker in this race.
We were unfortunately without Ed Brunskill, who has taken a leaf out of my navigation book, but joined by Jack Holland, keeping the leaders busy, and Linda Grossman, so we had a great spread of 26.2 vests out on the course. In a dramatic finish, Kevin Furlong outsprinted the Toze, who looked much less relaxed without shades on and will hope for some better weather tonight. His lead over Kevin is down to 24 seconds. Don Esslemont is gradually unleashing a little more speed, tonight’s run nearly enough to catch Neil Sunderland in the overall standings, moving from 79th to 58th.
Tonight lost 12 people from the overall listing, but even if they’d all run Chris Wilson would have continued his bounce up the table, going from 94th to 76th – the lady he’s now in front of was over 3 minutes ahead before the evening, that’s some going, though it does have the downside that Lizzie Wilson, in her own words “will never catch him now”.
Joe extended his lead over 4th senior man to 38 seconds, and just needs to keep running as he did tonight – this was not his surface, at least not entirely, but he found enough to keep ahead of both the people who somehow beat him on Monday. Mike Bryant made up time on his rival (sorry for missing this before – Brake is listed as a W70) though the latter had a storming finish, trying to limit the damage, and is still 17 seconds ahead.
|Race 1||Race 2||Race 3||Overall|
I am going to endeavour to not fall off my bike on the way to tonight’s race, though at least the bent front wheel gave us all something to talk about once we were done with the running. Seeing as I’ve already fallen off this morning, I’m hoping that’s my lot for the year.
Race 2 – Nonsuch park
138 runners, 14 from 26.2. Starting at the Mansion House, the route was the same as the Nonsuch relays (although U-turn Cone has been known to wander up and down the path from race to race), a two lap course adding up to 3.7 miles. Grant Davison couldn’t make it, but our contingent was supplemented by me and Ed Connors – as with Robb Reeves, good to see him back in the 26.2 vest.
This was a pretty simple course, impossible to get lost with a couple of undulations (really, not hills MP) but pretty flat. I headed off fast and stayed with Joe Chang and Ed Brunskill for a while, but Joe soon found his tarmac afterburners and moved up the league table by beating a couple of seniors who’d done for him the day before. Running an out and back provides plenty of chance to see how the opposition are doing, and to spot clubmates on the way through, so this was a good race for waving at each other, and spotting tiredness as the waves diminished. Don Esslemont managed to prove he was only jogging through by providing support each time I passed him, while Chris Wilson this time left mum to run on her own and moved up the field. Mike ‘Binkie’ Bryant cemented his position as first (did someone say only?) v70 despite today being some way behind Lizzie Wilson – an interesting battle for the rest of the week. I had an odd race, as the first lady was right behind me for much of it, so I went past each marshal and most of the supporters with the cheer “Well done Hattie” ringing in my ears. Thanks to Dave Wilson and Jacqui Chang for reassuring me that I was, in fact, still running as a senior man.
Senior men (after 2 days)
|1||O’Callaghan, Paul||Tadworth AC||37.53|
|2||Wisely, John||Epsom & Ewell H||38.5|
|3||Chang, Joseph||26.2 RRC||41.32|
|4||Goodwin, Mark||Epsom Oddballs RC||42.03|
|5||Brunskill, Edward||26.2 RRC||43.22|
|6||Stalley, Andy||Collingwood AC||45.14|
|7||Baggott, Richard||Woking AC||45.26|
|8||Goodwin, Ryan||Epsom Oddballs RC||46.47|
|9||Furlong, Kevin||26.2 RRC||55.54|
|6||Reeves, Robb||26.2 RRC||56.37|
|4||Sunderland, Neil||26.2 RRC||58.31|
|7||Esslemont, Don||26.2 RRC||61.15|
|1||Tozer, Peter||26.2 RRC||55.25|
|2||Wilkie, Derick||26.2 RRC||60.31|
|1||Bryant, Mike||26.2 RRC||70.58|
|8||Esslemont, Sue||26.2 RRC||
|9||Wilson, Lizzie||26.2 RRC||71.23|
Race 1 – Horton Country park
122 runners, 13 from 26.2 (I’m including Sue Esslemont, though she’s running for another club). Apparently there was a race, but train problems mean my attempt to complete the tour failed at the first. Fortunately I could make it to a 2 mile race in Battersea Park instead, so I can at least let you know that 2 miles is a horrible distance – close to the all out effort of the mile, but with no ‘stuff it, I’ll pick it up in the 3rd mile’ rest time as in a 5k. I didn’t look at my watch, so hearing the time read at 12:01 as I crossed the line was an unwelcome surprise – but then, 2 seconds quicker and I’d have been happy, such are the margins within which we run.
Meanwhile at Horton, Ed and Joe raced each other, with both finishing in the top ten. Kevin Furlong may have enjoyed seeing more club participation from vets and juniors, his fast start carrying him home 5th for the club. I suspect everyone else ran well, and Mike Bryant is clearly more at home on the off-road courses, as he was well clear of the Wilsons here, only to see that order reversed the next day. But I’m guessing. I wasn’t there. Gah.