Two reports in the inbox this week, a big thank you to Geoff Collins and Hannah Cowley for their contributions this week. First up is Geoff…
The Joe Shellhorn Falesia 5k – Tuesday 19th March. (Aka the big Algarve Adventure)
“This is a bit more than just a race report. It’s more of a story about a big week long adventure to Falesia in the Algarve Portugal. I think in my case, it was a step into the unknown too. It certainly proved to be an experience like no other for me, but absolutely fantastic. Lots of eating nice food, as much drinking as you want, and being able to talk running, and do it for hours on end.
This is an annual event which has been taking place for around 30 years. It all started with a few people coming out on a training camp run by 2:09 Events, the company set up by the athlete Mike Gratton in the 80’s. Mike won the London Marathon in 1983 with a time of 2hrs 09mins, he is also a Commonwealth Games medal holder. This company with Mike Gratton, still runs the training camp here, happily taking lots of cash from aspiring young athletes.
A few people got together after that to organise their own annual ‘training camp’ in Falesia, FB Tours was born. This breakaway group had a more laid back interpretation of the words ‘training camp’, maybe less structured than the 2.09 Events one. Your experience ranges between having a bit of a workout to I’m just having a laid back holiday pretty much covers it.
So there was a training plan with two runs a day on it together with three races, and… um some social activities, the Neptuno Bar featuring as the meeting point, and the grand finale the presentation night, and fancy dress competition. The training plan was a bit indicative of what might happen, it often did, but I soon learnt not to trust it implicitly!
Debbie & Geoff Reid have been coming here for some time and extended the invitation to Helsby Running Club this year. This year I came for the first time, and Sue Buck who has been before. In total there were around 56 people whose ages ranged from 8 months to 70+ participating.
Our event organiser/coordinator is Fred Aird from Deestriders Running club. Spectrum Striders were quite well represented, and a few from various other clubs in the North West. Many of the participants I knew, or recognised from races.
There was a choice of places to stay, ranging from the incredibly luxurious Epic Sana, where Debbie & Geoff stayed with its private access to the beach and gated driveway to more modest apartments nearby. They kindly allowed us in for a brief viewing of their private steps and a walk through the hotel and grounds!
Sue & I independently both chose the Victoria Sport Hotel with very spacious apartments with kitchens and a balcony. This still had a 4* rating I liked it because it had a running track guests could use. The 2.09 training camp also stayed at the Victoria. I had the breakfast option which was very good too.
The weather was glorious all week, sunny around 20C, but a bit breezy at times. Debbie did say the weather was the best ever, sometimes there isn’t so much sun, but it’s always warmer than the UK.
There were plenty of other activities other than running to enjoy in this beautiful area, with its stunning beaches and crumbling cliff’s, eaten away by erosion and terrific views. We got to run on the beach, over the cliffs, along tracks paths, through the nature reserve with Turtles and other wild life. The morning runs were generally around 5-6miles but it was possible to do more.
Cycling is a good way to explore the wider area. Sue and I both hired bikes and went off on rides, to the nearby areas of Vilamoura, Quarteria, Loula and Paderne. Navigation could be little challenging at times especially on the minor roads, but on the whole was a safe experience. Just one moment we hesitated and avoided turning onto a motorway! A sketch map given to us by another cyclist/runner was very useful. I think if I’m honest the cycling was definitely a highlight for me, being able to explore quite a lot of interesting places, eat ice-cream and find cafes, one where they didn’t speak any English. I had to ask Mike Gratton to move out of the way so we could pass him on our bikes! That’s the first time I’ve overtaken a London Marathon winner!
Mustn’t forget the Races; race 1 was the Falesia 5k on Tuesday at 10am. I’ve never done a race on a Tuesday morning at 10am, but it beats working. It cost 4 Euros to enter, was 3 laps on the road and went past the Victoria Hotel. But the course wasn’t flat, and it was quite hot. Debbie & I were the only Helsby runners, Sue was marshalling outside the Victoria. I decided to run with Debbie trusting her judgement on how to pace this race in the heat, amazingly we stayed together for the whole race, and it made life easier for the photographers! On the approach to the finish Debbie got slightly ahead, I closed the gap and just got past her to the finish by 1sec. This was an amazingly close race and to all intents a draw between us. The results aren’t yet on Run Britain.
Race 2 was the Cross Country Relay team race, on the course under the trees next to the Victoria Hotel. There is plenty of loose sand tree roots and it goes uphill too. 3 Runners do two 1k laps and one 2k lap. Debbie & I were chosen to be in the same team with one other runner. Our team was not first or last but finished somewhere in the middle.
Race 3 was the Cross Country Handicap. 3 laps of the course with staggered start times based on power of 10 best 5k times. This gave Debbie a 15 sec start ahead of me, Sue getting a bit more time ahead of us both. Running earlier in the day, cycling and the heat took its toll on me, I couldn’t close that 15 sec gap on Debbie, by the third lap the gap got even bigger. The race was won by one of the slower runners who started well before most of us did.
The dates for the 2020 adventure will be 14-22 March. Basically you book your own flights and accommodation between those dates. Look for the FB Tours Facebook page, transfers between Faro airport and the resort can also be arranged. Fred Aird from Deestriders RC is the point of contact.”
And now over to our newly crowned Borders League champion!
Borders League Race 6 – Hope
“It was a lovely cool morning in hope and the excitement of another boarders race was in the air. Despite it being Mother’s Day, I was over the moon with a strong number of the green army rolling up, especially for the ladies team! As always I had my lucky charm with me and the parents cheering the green army on!
With the start of the race being delayed, this wasn’t ideal especially for my pre race nerves! However I knew that by winning this race I would secure my women’s champion title so I couldn’t help but turn the nerves into excitement. I wanted to win the race but try and race my strongest to show I was deserving of the title.
As we queued up on the start like sardines, The race was finally underway. A quick first mile, I began to panic that I may have gone off to fast. I steadied myself down and managed to keep a good pace. I knew that as o passed the mile 2 mark there was a long drag of a hill approaching, although being from helsby I knew this wouldn’t phase the green army!
As I approached the bottom of the hill the sun came out and I managed to start picking off the men one by one. I kept pushing through the rest of the hill and pushed myself back down and along the undulating course.
As we approached mile 4 I could see Fitzy in my sights, I pushed as much as I could to keep up with him and his 4%’s. As the finish line was in sight, a little ‘go on hannah’ came from Fitzy and I pushed as much as I could until I crossed the finish line. As I finished 2 green army vests came racing past me and just pipping me to the finish to make it a 24th, 25th and 26th place finish (how’s that for team work!).
Overall for me it was an amazing course, the most controlled, enjoyable borders race this season and possibly my favourite 5 mile race. All the hard work and training/ speed sessions especially at the park with June and John have definitely been paying off! What made the day even better was my ladies championship sealed with a race to spare and the helsby ladies team finishing 1st on the day and 2nd on the overall standings.
Let’s all give it one last big effort for the last race of the series! Come on green army!”
Amazing Hannah, the first Helsby Borders winner for a very long time and well deserved too! Be sure to congratulate Hannah on her achievement all!
We had some other fantastic running from the troops too. Congratulations to Danny Ryder on a superb run to power through the field to take the chequered flag for first Helsby runner home in 28:29 and a new PB, just pipping Neil Finegan and Hannah who were seconds behind and who also got big PBs. Brilliant running!
The vets were also flying with Colin Bishop (MV55), Paul Frodsham (MV60), Alison Halsall (FV45) and Debbie Read (FV60) all winning their respective age categorys. Great running all!
The full results can be found here:
And my pick of the best race picture:
Let’s get a massive turn out for the last borders and end the season in style, the final one is on Weds 24th April in Prestatyn. Start time is 7.30pm, put it in your diary folks!
Please find the consolidated results from last Saturday’s parkruns, well done to everyone who took part.
That’s all this week folks, thanks again for the reports and please keep sending them in, it makes our job easier each week as well as giving the blog more variety. The Helsby RC inbox is firstname.lastname@example.org.