Bearbrook Running & Triathlon Club is based in Aylesbury and boasts 300 loyal members. Each year the club hosts the annual Bearbrook 10k running race which starts and finishes at Aylesbury Rugby Football Club near Wendover in the Chilterns region. This was my first race away from my home county so I was excited to see what was on offer.
The course was one of the best I've ever done for a 10k race! It is described as 'fast and fairly flat' but I was in for a treat. My home county of Essex is deathly flat and running can become a bore, so undulating hills are something I enjoy to mix it up. The first 2 miles of the 10k took us runners through beautiful countryside and an idyllic village reminiscent of the Cotswolds. As we took a left turn out of the village, the marshalls uttered the dreaded words "That's right! Up the hill you go!" and I thought okay, time for a challenge. I do like running uphill so I wasn't too worried. The hill was a long, gradual incline which meant it didn't take the wind out of my sails too much and none of the runners were having to walk it. Upon reaching the top there was a short downhill stretch which was a nice reward. However, the next marshall I passed then said something I wasn't ready for: "Great! Just 3 more hills and then the home stretch!" Three more hills! I was up for the challenge. The great thing about the hills was that they weren't too steep and they meant the time flew by. There was always a slight descent after each one so that I could get my breath back a bit before tackling the next one.
After reaching the top of the final hill I felt great, and when a marshall said "That's it! Downhill all the way now!" I looked at my watch and thought, "Really? 2 whole miles all downhill?" and that was absolutely the case! 2 glorious miles powering downhill a gentle decline which meant my joints and muscles were not put under too much pressure but I was able to run at my fastest pace and make up the time I had lost slogging up the hills.
The final 0.2 miles are back inside the Rugby Club grounds and are round the field. It was reminiscent of school cross country which was not pleasant and was on grass so I had to consciously keep pushing round. I could hear the announcer over the speakers from around a mile away from the finish so it was very encouraging to get to the end. The support at the finish was great and it made the perfect end to a perfect race.
I was utterly impressed by how well organised this race was. There was an abundance of marshals which meant every road crossing was safe and I never had to hesitate or slow down my pace. They were all incredibly friendly and supportive and it added a great atmosphere to the race. The announcer at the start line was witty and put the racers at ease before the big race. There were ample toilet, parking, and food facilities on offer meaning everything was taken care of.
Results and Prizes
The winner for 2017 was Matthieu Marshall of Southampton AC in a time of 00:32:42. I thought I might get a PB as the last 3 miles were so fast but I was 1 minute off thanks to taking the hills a little too slow in the first 3 miles. There was a branded mug for every finisher but no medal which I was rather disappointed about! There were free sports drinks, water bottles, and snacks for every finisher too which was a lovely touch.
I was hugely impressed by this race and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here! I would definitely recommend this race to others and I will probably make my way back for next year! Bearbrook Running Club is hosting its inaugural duathlon in September which should also make for a great race.
Lee Patmore is a Sundried ambassador who suffers from life-limiting illnesses. Along with his band of brothers, he took on the impressive challenge of travelling from Land's End to John O'Groats on a hand-cycle. Lee talks us through his incredible experience, which was in aid of Help For Heroes.
About The Challenge
In May 2017 I started on a journey that would take me from the northernmost point of the UK to the southernmost point. The legendary John O’Groats to Lands End adventure, but not the normal route that is around 874 miles, this journey has a major twist. I’m a military veteran and also a Help for Heroes beneficiary, and belong to the group within Help for Heroes know as Band of Brothers. Along with two other Band of Brothers and a support crew, we took on a journey that would see us cover 1,300 miles, along with close to 60,000ft of climbing. On our route we visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centres and a number of active military bases. We started on the 1st of May and finished on the 29th of May. For me, it was all about arm power and the mental battle to push myself beyond limits I’ve never been to, and the daily battle just to get out of bed and get in my hand-cycle.
We started our journey in John O’Groats, which was very cold, very windy, and just miserable weather. Approximately two and a half months before we started, during what should have been the peak of my training period, I had a major flare-up with my Fibromyalgia. This ended up leaving me bed-ridden for two weeks. When I say bed-ridden, I got out of bed once per day to go to the loo, and the rest of the time I was in extreme agony with tiredness and just couldn’t function. The flare-up came without warning and basically ended my training prematurely along with removing the ability to tap into the full level of fitness I had achieved. At this stage, just before we set off, I could just about manage 2 miles in one go on a flat route. Nothing like the 40 to 60 miles per day needed, especially when you start in Scotland and know the terrain is anything but flat.
The first three days were hell.
The hills were relentless and seemed never ending. There were some great downhills that saw me coast at speeds of up to 40mph, but these were short lived and nowhere near enough time for a recovery to tackle the next hill. It was clear that I needed some help getting up the hills. The guys with me would get off their road bike and take the weight enough to allow my arms to continue to power myself uphill.
At this stage I had a theory. As long as my arms could physically move and power the cranks to get me up the hill, I was still working. If my arms failed (and they did) I would get off my hand-cycle and with a locked out left leg, I would drag my Handcycle and weak leg up the hill as far as possible. If my legs failed and I couldn’t get myself and my hand-cycle up the hill by my own doing, I would call it for that day and we would then need to decide if we stayed within the time frames and planned stops or if we would move the stop and then try to make up the time later on. Thankfully, it never came to that, as we made all the planned stops and even managed to get in a double-leg to give us an extra day's rest towards the end.
The real turning point was day five. Out of nowhere, my fitness came in again, and as much as I still needed the short recovery stops, I was not given help from this point on.
Day one was the farthest I’d ever cycled in one day, and day three was the first time I’d cycled more than two days in a row.
The never-ending hills
Before we got to Colchester, we had some of the worst sets of hills on the way to Catterick. We are talking a couple of miles with gradients staying between 10% and 15%. With many short recovery stops I took on each hill and made it to the top. My speed was very slow, cadence was also very low, but I powered up each hill and sections of each hill under my own power and was determined to not be beat.
The scenery was epic.
A memory to hold forever along with the achievement of the journey. I have photos that spark a memory, but I was in such a tired state each day that it was only about completing that day’s route. I wasn’t interested in where I was or what I’d just ridden up, it was about how far we still have to complete that day’s route.
For me, it was about each day was its own day, and a unique challenge in itself, with good friends and excellent support.
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Ride to Recovery across the whole of Great Britain.
A trio of ex-servicemen is in training for an epic 1,400-mile bike ride through Britain to raise thousands of pounds for their wounded comrades. Former Royal Engineer Steve Craddock, Naval veteran Lee Patmore, and retired Royal Marine Brian Kilgannon will cycle from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall in a bid to raise money for Help for Heroes. But when their feat begins in May, the former warriors will not be content with the challenge that has tested the mettle of cyclists for decades. Instead of taking the usual 960-mile route through the western spine of Great Britain, Steve, Brian, and Lee have set themselves the added challenge of visiting seven military bases along the way. These diversions will add almost 500 miles to the route and will mean cycling up hills, totalling a whopping 63,000ft – the equivalent of more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
This is a tough ask of anyone, let alone for Steve and Brian who both suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from their time in services and will be fighting their own mental demons along with the physical toll the route will take. However, Steve and Brian will get inspiration from Lee who suffers from Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes heightened pain and extreme tiredness.
Lee, from Essex, is now mainly confined to a wheelchair and will take on this mammoth journey on a custom-made cycle he will power by his arms. He works as a disability fitness instructor at Brentwood Leisure Centre and qualified as a personal trainer after completing several courses with Help For Heroes.
Retired Sergeant Steve, from Chatham in Kent, said: “I hope you can begin to appreciate the sheer effort, guts, and determination that will be needed for Lee to complete this challenge. Lee will be in pain and discomfort the whole time. He will not know from one day to the next how his body is going to cope. However, Lee has his Band of Brothers with him, and we will be doing whatever is needed to get him to complete this truly amazing challenge."
Former Colour Sergeant Brian is no stranger to endurance cycling. He has already cycled from the most northerly part of mainland Britain to its most south westerly point via (as he puts it) ‘the easy route’. In 2006 he set a world cycling endurance record on an indoor turbo trainer, clocking up a staggering 1,017 miles in 60 hours.
Brian said: “I have volunteered to assist Lee and Steve in this epic ride, having cycled for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for the last twelve years. Since leaving the Marines I found that I had personal problems both mentally and physically, therefore the thought of doing this challenge with Lee will also give me fulfillment. Having already cycled from Land's End to John O’Groats and holding a world record for distance riding I am fully aware the problems we are all going to face.”
The planned route is as follows:
- John O’Groats.
- Livingstone (Gore Bike Wear).
- Catterick, North Yorkshire (Phoenix House).
- Colchester, Essex (Chavase House).
- Brentwood, Essex.
- Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent.
- Tidworth, Hampshire (Tedworth House).
- Plymouth, Devon (Hasler Company).
- Land’s End.
The Band of Brothers are hoping to complete the challenge within 30 days and are aiming to cover between 60 or 70 miles per day, with three rest days if required.
Entries open for Skipton Triathlon soon and British triathlete Emma Taylor is encouraging people to take the plunge and have a go.
Emma, who won her age category and was fourth overall in the Duathlon World Championships earlier this year, and won the Wasdale Half Ironman last year, is looking forward to starting next year’s season with Skipton Triathlon on April 9th, 2017.
She says the sprint distance triathlon, which starts at Craven Swimming Pool & Fitness Centre, is the perfect way to get started in the sport – whatever your age or ability.
“Lots of different abilities will be taking part from all walks of life, some trying it for the first time, which is brilliant,” said Emma, who is a health promotion officer for Craven General Practices, made up of Dyneley House Surgery, Fisher Medical Centre and Cross Hills Group Practice.
“I got into triathlon as I was coming out of university, I liked running, and I love the social element of cycling and I was a keen swimmer as well. I got started with a local event, similar to Skipton. You can get a true feel of the sport with a local event like this. It’s at the start of the season as well so it’s a really good race to dip your toes in.”
Emma is hoping to use the Skipton Triathlon as a springboard to another successful season. She’s hoping to go to Canada to compete again in the Duathlon World Championships, subject to funding, and then there is the IRONMAN 70.3 in Weymouth, following on from last year’s third place in her age category at IRONMAN Bolton.
“Once you’re started, you’re hooked,” she said. “And you don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it. It’s a brilliant sport for anyone of any ability.”
Councillor Linda Brockbank, Craven District Council’s lead member for Working with Communities, said: “I’m delighted that we’re running this fantastic event next year and would encourage people to sign up. I have huge admiration for anyone who gives this sport a go, whether they are elite athletes or novices; they should be very proud of themselves.”
Skipton Triathlon consists of a 400m pool swim, a 22km bike ride and a 5km run.