Subscribe to this Blog via email

Subscribe to this Blog via Email

Enter your email address:

Remember to activate when you get the acknowledge email !

Share this blog on facebook with your friends

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Hastings Half Marathon 2018 - gallery now unfrozen

All go on time and just a tiny bit cold at Hastings 2018

The Hastings Half Gallery 2018 has been unfrozen and is available here:

A dry clear day set out for everyone in Hastings last Sunday. On the face of it another early spring day with some bulbs in the flowerbeds poking up and the odd patch of frost to be seen in places. But this hid a terrible truth. The dry air was taking the water from anything it could touch, snow and frost was evaporating gently, the sea was hardly breaking a wave, and any exposed skin was having the moisture sucked out of it like Dracula on a Bite-2-get-1-free special offer. And just to add venom to the pain - the wind was gusting 25-35 MPH and delivering a wind chill of -8degC to -10degC - really depending on your choice of letting the wind see your eyeballs, or cowering in a corner out of the wind and wrapping up in every single coat you can lay your hands on, or just sitting in the car.

Personally, 4 technical layers and three technical winter coats, a pair of thermal lined trousers covered by sallopettes, two pairs of gloves including hand warmers, feet warmers, military boots and gaiters - just for that off road look (and to keep ankles warm), didn't really work. My fingers are starting to suffer from Reynauld's - where the finger tips start to tingle in utter pain like pins and needles because of the cold, just writing a quick facebook message hurt from the cold after about 20 seconds.
It was a long day... I suffered for my art.

Mark from Sportsystems getting down and dirty with the timekeeping game
So it is with great joy to point out that Hastings was one of two events that took place at the weekend in the mass-participation scale of events from the 19 that we were tracking through the end of last week as the weather forecast set in. Yes - you just figured that out correctly - 17 events cancelled.
If you didn't know - at 12:15pm on saturday UKA (that's UK Athletics) put out an advisory note to everyone organising endurance events at the weekend to err on the side of caution and not to put emergency services under pressure, during what will be a difficult period of heavy demand normally.
Come sunday morning - quite a few events were grateful that they had acted on that caution and cancelled - Reading Half marathon - after cancelling their junior races on saturday, only cancelled their Sunday Half at 6:30am on the day - when they awoke to 2-3inches of snow across their race village... whilst the Fulham 10k had already checked the wind and gusting forecast to decide that even if they could build the event village they wouldn't safely be able to deconstruct it by the end of the Sunday - so cancelled on the Friday Morning before people flew in for the race.

Neil models the latest SSP fashionable Tech Scarf

So here's a list wot I did of races with more than 300 people (very light mass participation!) in the south of England:
race status
Colchester 15 mile Road Race cancelled
ADIDAS City Runs - Fulham 10K cancelled
Eastleigh 10k cancelled
Stowmarket Half Marathon cancelled
Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon took place
Run Whitstable 10k cancelled
Fleet Half Marathon cancelled
Brentwood Half Marathon cancelled
Victoria Park Winter 10K Series - Race 3 cancelled
Windsor 5km, 10km & 15km Run - F3 cancelled
Battle of the Knights cancelled
Queen Elizabeth Park Run cancelled
Richmond Half Marathon cancelled
Hastings half marathon took place
Reading Half Marathon cancelled
SEAA road relay championships cancelled
Finchley 20 cancelled

Many of these races had never cancelled in 36 years, so you get an idea of how hardy the conditions had to be for them to do so. One surprise was the Hampton Court Palace Half going ahead - given that Richmond Half just up the road cancelled on Saturday - however Richmond did have some parts of the course that ran on grass, whilst Hampton Court Palace was entirely on gritted tarmac or the riverside walk - which is light gravel.

I've not gone digging about to find out if HCP had a particular problem with hypothermia of other runner injuries, nor Hastings for that matter - however Hastings was outside both the yellow and amber warning zones - it's just that you may have had to drive through a bad zone to get there in the first place - and with that in mind three photographers didn't make it in the end, and one extra got roped in. As it was the race was only a couple of hundred down on the usual race numbers - either wise locals or trapped from further afield - but certainly more than we had expected given the sub-zero conditions.

If you're into videos of the race - I did a bit of a facebook live feed before the start and towards the end at the finish line - thank you to everyone who tuned in with your encouraging comments (sorry about the small bit of swearing too, but it was 'effing cold).

Pre-Start video
Near the end video

and if you want a heartwarming story of great charity raising - here you go
Bonus points if you can name the country flag without using google image search

So now the cold snap has passed our sincere thoughts are with Richmond, Fulham and Brentwood who all had to cancel due to the weather conditions - all these events have put out excellent communications and messages - we believe that Fulham 10k is trying to reschedule - but that might prove a bit tricky given their route and the premiership end of season football season... we wish them the best of luck.

Next weekend is the Bolt - a great race around the trails of Alice Holt forest near Farnham, and then we also have the Colchester Half Marathon (sold out) and the Cranleigh 15-20 - still places I think - so get yourselves out and about as soon as you can.

GDPR and an easy solution (if you're interested!)
One last thing - and a lot of you involved with race organisation or running clubs will be using things like Mail chimp to communicate to people about goings on. Well with GDPR we are all wondering how we fix it - so here's a little website that solves this for you very easily - it's free for under 1000 in a data set - so perfect for small clubs and events to keep things under control - and easily explained -

We're busy making sure that our gallery and business practices are fully GDPR compliant over the next month or two rady for May - including your subscriptions to this blog (it's always been a two part authentication - so we're fine, and you can unsubscribe at any time - just click the unsubscribe link!)
Some other legislation is the implementation of quarterly business returns instead of annually in 2019 - and that's going to be a big shock to the admin here - so we're already going over to an online live accountancy package to pull that all together...

So here's some photos for you from Hastings, and I wish you all a warmer week and weekend to come
Catch No1 if you can...

looking strong at the front

mind out Lewes coming through...

well, at least she had warm hands and wasn't angry

happy to finish 

not slow or late, in fact well on time

Happy St Patricks day !

Lycra they said, yes I have some she said. Wear a hat too, ok she said.
All turned out exactly right for running in the cold !

Strong team finishing together

winner of the best hair competition

Keeps you warm and you can wear it in public at least once a year without question

proper mobot at the finish

Good running from democracy Donald

Anyone for the Posh Club ?

Super fast sumo

The view at the finish line back along the seafront

Wacky races all the way in that wind and cold weather

I should add that in the last three years we've raised over £580 for the Hastings Lion Club from sales of photos at the event and I hope you'll help us to continue to make donations to their excellent charitable causes !

until next time

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Steyning Stinger and the Winter Nuts Challenge 2018

Mike was off and running, and wisely didn't look back...

There's nothing quite like a Nuts challenge with people running around in Mankini's on what was potentially the coldest weekend of the year - fortunately the snow cleared and whilst quite a few races were cancelled when they had to make the hard decisions on thursday or friday - the temperature rise overnight, together with the inevitable "ok, we might not make then skate across the ice" - you knew that the Nuts Challenge was going to be on - whatever...

For the brave few who raised over £5000 for charity - I salute you - although I've seen prettier things down my camera lens, I so very don't recommend that people go looking for the photos. As it was some of you didn't even stick your numbers on your chests, or write them across yourselves - so searching for yourselves in the 000 folders will be the thing to do - although I warn you - you might regret looking...
Just seen the back of a mankini challenger ahead... don't go looking on the gallery

Date Event Event Website / Gallery
Sat-24/02/2018 National XC Champs - Free downloads - powered by Pic2Go, sponsored by Saucony
Sat-03/03/2018 The Nuts Challenge Sat
Sun-04/03/2018 The Nuts Challenge Sun
Sun-04/03/2018 Steyning Stinger - Free downloads
Sun-11/03/2018 Leicester 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 Fulham 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 Hastings Half Marathon
Sun-18/03/2018 Salomon Richmond Half and 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 Brentwood Half - Free live photos powered by - register on the website after entering
Sun-25/03/2018 Cranleigh 15-21
Sun-25/03/2018 Colchester Half
Sun-01/04/2018 RBK Spring Half Marathon
Sun-08/04/2018 Paddock Wood
Sun-22/04/2018 REP Bluebell

Eat to Run - from The BBC Radio 4 food program - in three episodes.
I was listening to this on my long run the other day, I'd seen some comments pop up in my timeline on facebook and thought that I'd better listen to it to "educate myself".
Some really good insights here - especially as Matt in the office once was a massive raw vegan food based runner, (now less of the raw), but by episode three there's a good background summary on Tim Noakes - and I know my opinion on him - but I think you should form your own.
If nothing else - it's a good bit of history to know about food, diet and running from around the world :
Episode 1:
Episode 2:
Episode 3:

Meanwhile the Leicester Town and Gown 10k for Muscular Dystrophy was cancelled due to the snow and rescheduled for mothers day on the 11th of March (Note to self: go and get a card now).
The Berkhamsted Half marathon  was also cancelled due to the severe weather, as was the very large Bath half marathon which was under 6inches of snow when they made the decision, and no snow when they finished emailing everyone because of the rain that then fell... I wouldn't want to be a race organiser in winter !
Also in other news - the Cambridge Half marathon wasn't won by someone who hadn't entered the race - he was given a race number by his boss who had injured himself. After crossing the line he told the organisers and he was eventually as you would expect - DQ'd (disqualified).
However - message to all of you that do number swaps without the events knowledge or consent - none of the people we have seen go to hospital after an event expected to (and we see quite a few a year), they range from the very fit and young to the not very fit and old, and everything in between. Some don't make it to hospital. But what I do know is if you run with your bosses race number and your bosses wife gets a phonecall saying your boss has gone to hospital, or worse - the police have to make a visit and knock on the door - someone somewhere isn't going to see it as "just a number swap". Please be aware, number swaps are not just about running in the event - quite a lot of other very serious stuff hangs on a race number and who is wearing it. At the very least - always fill the back of a number in with emergency contact details - it might take a bit of time, but you will never regret doing it.

Anyway, here's a few nutty pictures and a few Stingers too

Wrong wrongens

with their carefully curated collection of ice

Ice in our time

cheap medical grade mud facials

squirrel nutkins

the beauty of thixtropic materials

He was off his head on hypothermia at one point, but got it back after a bit of a run

ooh splinters...

on Sunday at the stinger, it was a bit muddy under foot

jumping at the surprise of finding a photographer this far away from civilisation

enjoying the big skies at the top of the course

should probably do the nuts challenge with that

down towards the final descent

nearing the finish joy

Made the rather muddy end of this years stinger !

how to take on the joy of Sundays Nuts challenge

Proud of their particular piece of ice curation

Bansai !!

All good because one leg is warm

eventually dug out, but no number stuck on or with a pen, so no idea who, so we put them back for safe storage.

wait what...

always dive for the finish line

not sure the mask helped him do 5 laps, but good effort all the same, whoever you are oh numberless one. 

the simple joys of tyre carrying makes ice so much more fun

Chilling the finishing champagne on ice was actually pretty easy for a change

In other news, 6 years on from my first half marathon, I'll be running my second one at Woking in the Surrey Half Marathon - if I get under 2hrs I'll be pleased. The betablockers are taking 40secs per mile off me, so 10minute miling will suite me just fine for a 2:10 sort of thing and if I go faster and hang on - then that's great and my second mid-life crisis Half marathon will be complete, some way off from my last time of 1hr:46m
My slow cruising pace is 8:30 at the moment, but I don't have the strength or inclination to go faster for long enough - whilst I can blast a 5k in about 24mins at the moment, a bit of speed endurance is on the cards for my future training. To run on my calfs and push, or just plod comfortably within my abilities and HR ? I think it's going to be a plod with hip flexors doing a lot of the work ! Meanwhile, my backs truly stuffed - so off to the chairopractors tomorrow morning...

Hopefully I'll see plenty of you out there on Sunday - say hello if you see me, Sally or Matt in our SSP Blue Tshirts (but it's going to be cold, so you probably can't see them through our jackets!) - the current weather forecast is almost perfect 9degC and sunny.

Finally, I promised a school friend who mentioned his neighbours Trail Running Guided holidays in Scotland that I'd share them with you - I know a few of you are interested in this sort of thing - so check it out ! it looks beautiful.

until next time, I'll let you know how Surrey goes, and hope that you all have a good one this weekend and enjoy the respite in the weather down south at least !!

p.s. don't forget to enter the Brentwood Half this year - it's going to be wonderful and pre-register for your free photos

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

National XC Champs 2018 - powered by Pic2Go

The start of the Junior Mens race this year - Braveheart your way across the football pitches and then straight up the hill

Saturday saw the National Cross Country Championships weekend with England, Scotland and Wales all holding their respective championships on the same day.

The English Cross Country Association (ECCA) home is Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath - a naturally boggy hilly piece of ground where water springs bubble up making the ground naturally damp and hard work under foot. It's also the home athletics track of Highgate Harriers, as well as hosted with Serpentine RRC - which is the largest Running Club in the country (did you know?)

that view across to the city - take a closer look and check the skyline

One of the aspects of the Parliament Hill course is the start - which has the "normal" braveheart start across the football field near the Lido, and then the massive funnelling to the first pinch point - conveniently located - at the top of the hill.
This gives everyone spectating a great view of the field - out across the london landscape as the race comes up and past the tented village where the clubs stake their claim to a bit of dry ground with their club colours.

Yes - thank you Saucony !!

Live pictures powered by Pic2Go, sponsored by Saucony

You can still register here for your images -

Yes, from the event we took and uploaded over 160,000 images, with pic2go barcodes to identify runners - and then sending them directly to the registered personal facebook accounts.
First pictures were going out during the first race - and then throughout the day.
With seven photographers running over 12 cameras it made for thorough coverage all around the course - with the more memorable points captured. The setting sun without any cloud at the end of the day always makes the finish line a tricky place to work too - with the sun directly behind the runners !!!
One of our photographers who caught the train to the event had some great feedback from four athletes who were chatting about the pic2go service on their way home. Apparently it made a big difference to the overall experience of the day, and it was all they were talking about for the whole journey. So - we continue in our quest to make people happy !! (with a bit of success).

It was incredibly cold in the wind and all around the course, so very well done to everyone completing the course on the day - I was grateful for the sun being out almost all day and the trees near me (at point C on the course) buffering me from some of the gusts - very well done by the team on keeping warm and working hard, and on all the athletes on getting around the course.

Full results and participants race numbers are available now from here:

We also have a high resolution gallery available on the website - so if you want to get prints, or images without the Saucony branding on - then this is your place to get them from

Next weekend is the weekend after the snow hits. The forecast locally here is very very cold, but the thaw setting in saturday. With the Nuts Winter challenge on saturday - that might be a challenge to get to, let alone compete at (lets see how many cases of hypothermia we get!), otherwise the Steying Stinger on Sunday will be the one to make sure nobody actually dies of exposure if it doesn't warm up. After writing this blog I'm going to fashion some oversocks from an old foil blanket to see what can be done - the circulation in my toes since being on betablockers has been somewhat borderline at best, but I have some battery heated innersoles that might get a full workout soon...

Past and future races
Here's the list of recent and next races and galleries for you - can I make a totally unbiased suggestion of entering the Brentwood Half Marathon - a lovely course - including countryside and some free pictures powered by pic2go technology !

Date Event Gallery or Event Website
Sun-18/02/2018 Hampton Court Half Marathon
Sat-24/02/2018 National XC Champs - live images powered by Pic2Go
Sat-03/03/2018 The Nuts Challenge
Sun-04/03/2018 Leicester 10k
Sun-04/03/2018 The Nuts Challenge
Sun-04/03/2018 Steyning Stinger - free race downloads
Sun-18/03/2018 Fulham 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 Hastings Half Marathon
Sun-18/03/2018 Salomon Richmond Half and 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 The Brentwood Half Marathon - live images powered by Pic2Go
Sun-25/03/2018 Cranleigh 15-21
Sun-25/03/2018 Colchester Half
Sun-01/04/2018 RBK Spring Half Marathon
Sun-08/04/2018 Paddock Wood

The view down the start hill

The view from the top of the start hill across to the city

Marshal point C - that muddy hill descent

Off on the lap around the last but one field

Who said junior running was dying out ?

Catch the birdy gull thingy

goin' ok coach

top speed through the mud

all going well on the last descent

There's nothing quite like the joy of Cross country, especially when a day later you see an old friend suffering more than you did. Well done Ian !

Wycombe takes a double check of the imposter doing a very good impression of a bearded Steve Ovett, clearly time travelling back about 30 years... and landing a bit further north in Corby

(character building, that's why)

Easy at the end

make the last descent look like fun

Top finishing !

been practising correct arm technique

been gardening enroute with those hands

Top raised victory arm

Anyone might think this was posed. Nope just awesome.

don't forget the tape next year...

wrong tape in the wrong place...

How to finish faces

taken out from behind, there was a moment's concern

then up and off, it's not a gallantry competition you know

It's ok, he found it

Good to see Brian being a good boy...

Low Fell's club secretary feels guilty for making the Club Chairman get the team point... well she said she felt guilty...

So, get your entry into the Brentwood Half Marathon ready for the 18th of March, with those lovely free and live photos powered by Pic2Go direct to your facebook account -

until next time, keep warm and be careful of the cold, and dress sensibly if you're racing this weekend !!


Fitness rewards