🏃♂️🔥🐉 Greetings, heat-defying runners! It’s been a sizzling week of races that have left us feeling like we’re running through dragon’s firey breath. We’ve had Ranelaghs face scorching conditions at the Dragon’s Back Race, where competitors faced the fire-breathing challenge over 6 of the warmest days of the year! We’ve had red-hot action at the Richmond Runfest, where our runners blazed a trail like dragons on a scorching rampage, and talking of scorching rampage we have relay team action for the ladies at the Middlesex relays! Plus, we’ll take you on a journey along the Thames Path Challenge, where the only thing hotter than the competition was the blazing sun overhead. Read on for dragon-sized stories that’ll have you running like you’ve got a tail of fire! 🔥🐲💨
🔶 The Dragons Back Race is a truly epic challenge. 6 days in stages covering 390km from Conway Castle on the north coast of Wales, down its mountainous spine and finishing in Cardiff. En route there is 18,000m of climbing, and this year the completion rate was a mere 29%. On the race’s own website it acknowledges that even just completing half of the race is a major achievement. This year Ranelagh had two participants – Sally Minchella and James Ritchie, here’s what happened in their own words:
Sally: It’s always called to me, the Dragons Back Race. I feel I’ve been building my way towards it for years. I showed my kids a documentary about it a few years ago and at the end I asked them if they thought I could do it – they laughed at me before a resounding “no!”. I signed up last September and I reccied most of the route in advance over the past year. Was I ready? I wasn’t sure, I’d never put my body through something so gruelling and long before and I’m not a high mileage runner. And then a heatwave was forecast at the last moment!… would it scupper all my plans? What followed was a beautiful, exhausting, super sweaty, sleep deprived 6 days with the single goal of making it to Cardiff. The first day was so tough, I could barely eat in the evening and didn’t sleep at all that night. But somehow I got through Tuesday and it felt more achievable, just kept moving forward, one checkpoint at a time, one day at a time until I was finally there!
James: Dragon’s Back in 2021 was a hot one and having seen the daily footage of the runners toiling through the heat, a repeat of that was my worst fear, and clearly one that came to pass. The first day was so hot and hard and with so much still to go, it seemed insurmountable and left me pretty emotionally battered. But I got round in a reasonable time and was put into an 8 man tent with a great bunch of guys, so on to day 2. This day saw a bit of a breeze in parts, though the afternoon turned into a long hard hot slog. Day 3 I set off pretty hard, but by 8am it was so hot and I was struggling to get cool despite constantly lying in streams, I was struggling with eating and got to the halfway point in a bit of a bad state. 2 ice-creams, chips and gravy, two tins of soup and a tub of chocolate ice-cream got me out in the afternoon with a long way still to go. It was slow progress but as the day wore into evening the temperature cooled and I was able to run off the last hill in the darkness. Day 4 had less height so was more bearable and finished with a long road section – another day survived. Onto Day 5 – another long one ending in the Brecon Beacons. The morning went well, but again the afternoon was pretty tough until the later evening when the climbing was done and it was just a case of heading back to the camp. And so to day 6 – much less height gain and with nothing to save myself for I had my best day, finishing before 4pm. It was harrowing at times, and best considered only in small stages at a time, but the camaraderie of the support crew, the other runners and the supporters back home really helped make a huge difference in getting me through this epic journey.
For the record both Sally and James completed the whole course: Sally in 76:43:52 and James in 73:26:33. If you want to find out more about the race and what they had to do to complete it (in a heatwave) check out the documentary on Netflix. And no prizes for guessing who’s going be atop the leaderboards this week!
🔷 Saturday was officially the hottest day of the year, and so many people were wise to take on or drop down to “just the 10k” of the multiple distances on offer at the Richmond Runfest this weekend. Notably the 10k race was run by J Riley, not our esteemed captain, but Jake Riley the US Olympic marathoner. In terms of Ranelagh participants, our team was led home by Andy Starr (37:25) Shaun Griffith (39:43) – professionally ticking off his revised sub 40 aim, and Steven Hird (40:48). Will Cavendish (50:26) Melanie Thomas (51:17) Keshav Ramduny (54:05) John Reece 1:06:13, Katrina Roche (1:13:50) and Wendy Fisher (1:13:50) completed the Ranelagh contingent.
🔶 Today saw another stonkingly hot morning and longer distances this time… With advice ringing in their ears to respect the heat and slow down and if necessary change distances Ryan Hogan and Ed Forbes took on the Runfest marathon. Ryan was already well clear of everyone else when I saw them speed past at around 10 miles, and he duly took the win in 2:37:50. Ed had been targeting this race for a PB, but wisely decided survival was a better target, and survive he did – coming home in 3:19. In the half marathon, Melanie Thomas came back for more the second day in a row and ran perfectly sub 2 hours – 1:56:46. She was joined by Keith Davis, (2:04) Carol Aikin (2:17:03) and Candice Goddard (2:43:58) including some walking once the race was suspended.
At time of writing we hear of a lot of runners suffering with the heat and as a result the race being called off whilst in progress. Well done to everyone who made it round safely and our sincerest thoughts are with those that needed medical attention. There’s definitely more to life than fast times.
🔷 If you thought racing a 10k, half or full marathon in this heat was hard, then how about 100km?! On Saturday Robbie Hillhouse completed the Thames Path Challenge from Putney Bridge to Henley raising money for Rulis – Independent Living. He completed it in 18:53, (yes that’s 18 hours!) Congratulations Robbie, and sounds like a lot of money was raised for the cause.
🔶 It’s even been hot on Tyneside, for of course today was the Great North Run. Alun Thomas, Bob Tinsley, Kathy Henry and Hadi all took on the challenge in the race where the headlines were grabbed by the retirement of a certain M Farah.
This is a race of special importance for Kathy Henry, who was running again to celebrate and commemorate her husband Nick. She describes the race as “Run/Walk with Sarah: 2 ice pops, an ice lolly, hugs on the bridge with Nick’s mum and dad, all the jelly babies, some beer, high fives, the red arrows. Loved it as always.” Huge well done Kathy, and thank you for helping us all keep running in perspective. ❤️
Alun Thomas ran as “running butler” helping his good friend David reach his 1:50 target. Hadi, meanwhile was disappointed with 1:39 – head up Hadi – it was a very hot day and we know you have a lot more to come! Bob Tinsley made it round in 1:29.
🔷 Ranelagh’s Women triumphed this afternoon at the Middlesex Relays where a team of Cecily Day, Rebecca Bissell and Molly Ringin took gold, with Cecily claiming the fastest individual lap. Stunning performance from you all – again need I mention the heat?!
🔶 It’s even hot in Switzerland, where Garan Jenkin took on the Jungfrau marathon. This is a mountain marathon which is famously entirely uphill. Garan ran it in 6:54:55. Here’s the story in his own words:
“An incredible day in the mountains. Most of the year I doubted I’d make the start line, with a bad knee troubling me for 10 months. Could I make it round with my knee intact? The Jungfrau is not about running fast, it’s a beautiful and varied course with many different challenges, and I was just desperate to have the opportunity to be part of it again.
It quickly transpired that this year was going to be seriously hot, and the event demands respect. Thoughts of Rodric Jenkin going sub6 had to be put to one side for a other year.
The sun chased us through the valley, any thoughts of cool mountain air evaporated, and it was as hot as a Spanish beach when we arrived at 2300m.
It was brutal and brilliant fun in equal measure, knee feels ok. Might not tomorrow, but I’m ok with that.”
🔷 Elsewhere: Wiebke ran the Farnham Half Marathon in 1:59. Ruth Gledhill took on the St Neots Tri, which again was a hugely impressive undertaking in the heat. She reports being sponged down with buckets of iced water at the finish! Andy Griffin ran the Bacchus Half Marathon, complete with win and food stations en route in 2:06, although we don’t have a split for the wine and food station time!
🔶 You may have noticed we’ve had a few weeks without a rundown, largely due to holidays and other commitments from the team. If you’d like to join the team please do let me us know in the comments and we’ll be in touch. We did miss some incredible performances and I’m not able to list them all, but one that should be mentioned was Mike Morris who ran 1:18:28 at the Big Half last weekend putting him 8th all time on the Club’s V50 records.
🥇 James Ritchie 245.4 miles!
🥈 Jonathan Moore 78.6 miles
🥉 Chris Davidson 78.6 miles
🥇 Sally Minchella 243.8 miles!
🥈 Nic Douglas 48.2 miles
🥉 Emily Jenkins 44.1 miles
🥇 James Ritchie 60,000 ft
🥈 Ralph Street 10,139 ft
🥉 Garan Jenkin 6,483 ft
🥇 Sally Minchella 57,956 ft
🥈 Suzy Whatmough 3,307 ft
🥉 Sophia de Rivaz 1,939 ft
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