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George Kay – 1936 – 2014

George Kay 1936-2014

George was a long-time member of Stone Master Marathoners, was much respected and an inspiration to all runners.
The popularity and quality of running in North Staffordshire was largely due to George. He was dedicated to the NSRRA being not only secretary, race organiser and editor but also the single handed organiser of many races including Bathpool 5, Stafford 20, Tittensor 10 and Eccleshall 15.
George Kay_Newspaper
After an academic career in South Africa George became Head of the Department of Geography and Recreation Studies at Staffordshire University

He ran over a 100 marathons (his first 100 he achieved an average time 2.42 with a best of 2.32). He ran Ultra events and participated in many of the events organised by the Long Distance Walker (LDWA). I remember the only time we beat George was on the Anglezarke . George had taken the wrong turning but was adamant that the organisers had changed the route!

I shall mainly remember George as an inspiration. I shall remember him mustering to the back to encourage the improvers. He would then wind up the pace so we would be breathless in a short while.
George was totally committed to running and has left this world a better place.

John Haine

Chair, Stone Master Marathoners

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Potters Arf – 8th June 2014

Potters Arf Race Report by Anne-Marie Mountford
Potters_Arf
Saturday afternoon I spent my afternoon under the duvet watching movies with my daughter resting up for the Potters Arf the next day, it was a stormy, cool day and much the same was predicted for the Sunday. Normally I would get my clothes out the night before a race but I decided to see what the weather was going to be like before choosing between vest top or t-shirt. The alarm went off at 7am for pre-race porridge and I could see the blue skies through the edge of the curtains – bugger it was going to be a hot one.

I arrived far too early for the race but was glad to see that Paul Phillips had my plan too so we stood and chatted. The crowd had started to build outside the Potteries Shopping Centre, lots of green Trentham t-shirts gathered together but where were all the bats? We were supposed to be gathering for a pre-race photo and only just managed to get one in (although not everyone running was present) before we began ‘the walk’ to the start. As usual you were greeted to the sight of hundreds of men taking a last minute leak under the bridge! It seemed busier than ever and the start was a very slow one indeed. It was my aim to get under the 2 hour mark and nothing was going to stop me today, well apart from the bottleneck somewhere near Boots which meant a short period of walking (god I was livid!), then we were through and over the finish line with the usual comments from newbies like “that was a quick race” or “finished already” ha bloody ha, I wished that it was as was certain that I’d blown it already. The old me would have given up but 2014 is the birth of the new mentally focused Anne-Marie and this little blip wouldn’t beat me.

The next few miles seemed to pass quite quickly, blink and I was already passing Bryan Dale at his usual spot on Victoria Road. It was heating up and I was wishing for a drink’s station. The traffic started to build but this is what I really like about the Potters Arf, the people whether on the pavements or in stationary cars are so wonderfully supportive. Come rain or shine they’re out with ice pops, jelly babies, one guy even managed to support dressed in a sheepskin dressing gown (yes I swear ask Steve Alder who saw it too) and pj’s clutching a beer can. How I wished I’d entered the relay as we turned into King Street.

The next few miles were tough, undulating yet lined with support. I didn’t see any club members en route but did pass fellow NSRRA Group W members so I was pleased and aimed to win my group for the fourth time. I heard my name shouted in Longton and saw Nicky Downes and children but no usual support from Bernie and fellow pint drinkers. Mike Keeling was there with family taking action photos. The drag up Anchor Road was bearable thinking that I would reward myself with an ice pop at the top but where were those ladies?? I generally know where I am up until this point but once we turn right up through Bentilee I haven’t got a clue until we pop out onto Leek Road at which point you really feel that you’re on the homeward straight. What can I say about the next 4 miles, they’re undulating or tough, no sugar coating it your legs are tired and you’ve got some big climbs to do.

Now then Heartbreak Hill, always good for a good hosepipe or two. For some reason it doesn’t matter how tired I am by this point I will not walk up this hill, I haven’t let it beat me yet but it does mean that by the peak there’s nothing left in the tank. Bill was at the bottom of Town Road and without him shouting at me and running up the pavement I think that I would have thrown in the towel and walked but to be honest I was too frightened to stop and this is what I needed. I’d got 4 minutes to get under the 2 hour mark and I wasn’t wasting 1 hour 56 minutes to mess it up at the end so I gritted my teeth and somehow managed to do my quickest mile at the end, however as I neared the clock I saw that I’d passed the 2 hour mark by seconds – bugger again! I knew that my chip time would be under 2 hours so sprinted the last bit and yes thank god I was over the finish line. It was then queue time for the goodies. Thank you to the lady who was very sensibly packing the plates in people’s bags rather than make the market square look like the fallout from a Greek wedding.

Pam was the only bat that I saw so I made my way over to her from a post race chat. Mac then joined us. The general consensus was that it was a tough race made harder by the tropical conditions but would we do it again, yes probably.

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Market Drayton 10k – 11th May 2014

Voted best 10k in Country by Runners World

Stone runners at start

Goodybag_2_photoOnce upon a time a small group of runners geared themselves up and stood on the little canal bridge by the Squash & Hockey Club in Market Drayton. It is 2004 and 110 runners took part. Stone ladies took 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall in the race, and these were Ros Barker, Rosemary Wilson, Pam Davies respectively. The race was then sponsored by Muller and organised by Tim Beckett. The Goodie bag was phenomenal with boxes of help yourself fleeces, sweatshirts and sports bags, not forgetting the famous yoghurts! Word soon spread and numbers rapidly increased. Due to cutbacks Muller decided they could no longer sponsor the event and in 2011, 6 weeks prior to the race pulled out. There was outrage and those who had already entered had to be refunded. Not to be deterred, and with local papers supporting the continuation of the race, Tim, myself (Richard), Jane Morris, the Town Crier and a few others got together to make sure the race went ahead, in the hope of providing an even better race. The Town traders came together and supported us. There were 1000 runners that year and despite Muller pulling out yoghurts were still provided. Other traders also provided goodie bag fodder. Yes it was another success, and because of the increasing numbers a new venue was provided and the course altered.

Tim and his team, have taken this race to new levels, with 2200 entered this year and voted ‘Best 10k in Country’ by Runners World for 2 consecutive years. They start organizing the event the week following the race, taking any adverse comments to heart in a bid for improvement. Lots of planning is needed, such as funding, sorting and allocating the 70 marshalls, putting road closures in place and car park arrangements. Park and Ride has been introduced in an effort to reduce traffic around the school. Then of course there is the sourcing of medals, goody bags and water. The local traders support this race generously with time and sponsorship. Besides the wicking Tshirts there are yoghurts, sausage rolls, pork pies, gingerbread men, mornflake oats, mars bars, sweets, medal, voucher for free pint real ale and much more. The day before the race there were 80 helpers filling the “goody bags” for the runners and it took us two hours to complete the task. The latest addition to the support of this race is Nuffield Health who this year organised the childrens races, provided free massage and a pre race work out. They also had a team racing. The Police work closely with the team regarding the road closures and the Army based at Tern Hill helped with the marshalling. Once again a town coming together to support its race of which they are rightly proud.

It is a great atmosphere on the day no matter what the weather. A number of childrens races start the day. Then the beat of music and an active warm up, provided by Nuffield Health, follow ready for the main event. There is a sea of runners but despite the large numbers the newly widened exit gate causes little delay. The course is relatively flat and PBs are in everbody’s sight and if it is your first race it is ideal. This year we ran down the main street of the town and shops were open and supporters lined the road. There was also a drumming band underneath the buttercross and the beat carried us on our way. Although the route goes through housing developments it is easy to run and well supported. The sting in the tail is at 5.5 miles when we pass the swimming baths and a short steep hill looms. It certainly tests the legs at this stage but does not go on for long and once again the drumming band will carry you forward. There is a long down hill to the Grove School in order to recover. A lap of the field is the final test but once again good support will carry you around.

When you finish this race if you are not pleased with your time you will be with your Goody Bag.

There is something for everybody at the Market Drayton 10k, spectators and children alike with plenty happening on the field. There are fast runners, slow runners, team runners, charity runners and plenty of fancy dress.

Well done to Tim and his support team and if you have not done this race yet it’s a great one to do.

The men’s winner this year was Tom Roberts of Meirionnydd Running Club in a time of 32:30 and the first lady who was 13th overall was Kim Fawke-Williams of Centurion Running Club in 35:13, both runners received £100 cash and other prizes.

We had 21 runners competing and 1st in for the club was Mick Downes in 39:11 (pb) other club runners also obtaining pbs were : Richard Fain, Paul Phillips, David Russell (12min pb), Alex Yendole, Anne Marie Mountford and Lisa Russell. If we have missed anyone, please accept our apologies.

Next year the race is on Sunday 10th May and will be titled Nuffield Health Market Drayton 10k. with a maximum of 2000 runners,so get your entries in ASAP.

Happy running.

Richard and Margaret
 Rich at Mkt Drayton2Margie at Mkt Drayton 10k

 

 

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Flying Fox Marathon – 25th May 2014

Three Old Knackers Went To Knighton
FFM_3KnackersWhen Bernie first mentioned his idea to bring back the FF marathon, on a European trip of culture, we were all in favour after a couple of drinks. Rather than run up and down the A34 through Stone, he came up with the Knighton route to avoid road crossings and take in the scenery. Unfortunately, this also involved a few hills, as we discovered when we cycled the route over a year ago. I wasn’t too concerned about this at the time as I intended to marshal rather than plod around the lanes.

The Flying Fox would be my 31st marathon since London back in 2007. Prior to this, I always considered 13 miles to be far enough and never contemplated a marathon. I believe my mistake was joining Bernie on the long Sunday runs after gaining a place in the London marathon. Before I knew it, I’d entered 4 marathons, several LDWA events and started to run in excess of 50 miles per week. After a few reasonable marathon times it all stated to go downhill, as Bernie promised it would once I hit the big 40. This clearly demonstrates that we should all listen to his advice.

Knighton felt very miserable on race day as I stood wearing my bin bag in the car park field with wet feet. Luckily, the rain passed before the start and Tim, Steve and I who had decided to run together, began chasing down Kevin and Claire in perfect running weather. Having the support of our fellow SMM runners at the marshal points and drink stations made a huge difference to the marathon experience and helped to keep us going on the hills which were in abundance.
After a couple of miles the topic of conversation had moved to our finishing strategy. Steve decided that he was intending a sprint finish, whilst Tim and I said we’d settle for anything as long as we finished. We’d agreed an 8 min mile pace before the race, which seemed a bit optimistic on such a hilly course. By the time we caught up with Kevin and Claire at 5 miles we’d been averaging 7:45 min miles. I knew this pace wasn’t sustainable and I’d pay in the later stages.

The climbs to High Offley at 6 miles, Garmelow at 8m and Bishops Offley at the half way point did nothing to conserve energy. A long straight couple of miles to Bernie’s house in Fairoak served as welcome break from the hills and a nice cup of tea from Rose. I daren’t tell her that I threw most of it away as it was too hot to run with! Steve pulled up lame at this point and walked to the physio table at the finish as Tim and Kevin disappeared into the distance.
It was a further 3 miles to the 19m point in Doley where I realised how tired my legs felt. This is where I began to regret the early pace and get ready for that all too familiar feeling of painful legs and knees that don’t want to bend. At around 22m in Cheswadine, I was counting down the miles as Charlie Rowlands sped past, heading for a pb as I attempted to jump a puddle but failed miserably.

I spent the final 4 miles counting the number of times one running shoe clipped the other as I hobbled between marshal points and water stations, before a quick pause for breath and final sprint finish across the field to the finish and a celebratory pint of lager.

Congratulations to Kevin for winning his age group in a great time and Tim for his return to marathon running. Thanks to Bernie and all the other bats for making it such an enjoyable day for all.

Jim Holland

FFM_Claire_Award FFM_Kev_Award

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Chester Half Marathon – 18th May 2014

Chester Races – Ladies Day

ChesterHM_Finish

What a hot day – the hottest this year (???) and of course the Sizzling Chester Half Marathon.

Three Crazy Ladies decided to forgo a shopping expedition at Cheshire Oaks and head straight over to the Racecourse at Chester for a ‘run in the sun’. ‘It was a hard decision’, commented one of our ladies, ‘but I just haven’t got enough room in my wardrobe for another Mulberry handbag’.

The temperature reached a mean 24 degrees C, and the turnout was huge.

For the first 6 miles out of Chester the breeze was behind our runners making the pace steady. Water stations were well equipped; ‘…..half down the throat and half down the back…’ was the best way to facilitate the water, states Julie (Ebrey).

Joyce had a super run considering the heat. We put it down to her acclimatising overseas. Well she certainly does enjoy her holidays and they do certainly pay off on days like this. Fortunately she had left her straw donkey at home.

Heading back from mile 6, as the roads meandered around some beautiful country side the breeze started to cool things down; only marginally. There was evidence of some hot bodies not being able to make it much past the 8 mile marker.

Libby was a ‘first timer’, yes it was her first Half Marathon and the furthest she had ever ran. As all first timers her anxiety levels were high in the pen. She had a fabulous run and kept pace with Joyce much of the way.

The last 4 miles saw some mean casualties. An ambulance whizzed past and a few were taking refuge under the bushes in the shade; even one collapsing in the middle of the road – out cold!

The finishing line was in the centre of Chester with our runners passing below the famous clock tower. ‘It was such a buzz running through the crowds all cheering me on and shouting my name’, comments Joyce who came 4th in her Category.

Libby was overwhelmed when she finished and wiping a tear from her eye managed to utter the words, ‘I cannot believe that I have just ran a Half Marathon. I feel so emotional’.

The Goody Bag contained some nice things; but the t-shirt took the prize with its ‘I BEAT THE CLOCK’ logo and our SMM red. A great addition to any runners wardrobe.

A great turnout from the North West of England and good that we had some ‘Bats’ swooping in on the event.

Julie Ebery

ChesterHM_Winners