Chairman’s Report 2021

Compared to the previous 12 months, I think that we can look ahead with far more optimism, both as a club and in general, hopefully with the worst of the pandemic behind us.

A full race calendar in 2022 featuring some new races, which depending on voting may well include a new club only multi terrain event at the Hub in Bodiam. Martin and I have already recced the course, which would be 9 kms, and have made contact with the Hub’s owners who are very keen to oblige. Great views of Bodiam Castle in the distance on the downhill stretches!

The East Sussex Sunday Cross Country League winter series got off to an excellent start at Ashdown Forest at the weekend, despite the atrocious weather – more of that later.

We have celebrated recent race wins by Matt and Will, and some great team performances at some of the new venues on this year’s race calendar including wins at Northiam and Woodchurch; plus some superb achievements by other club members over the marathon and ultra marathon distances – again more to follow later.
There has been a real sense of camaraderie at our 3 club only races so far, which kicked off with the Alan Corke race in August.

And very encouraging news on the membership front, with a steady flow of new members in the past 3 months including some of the younger brigade, as well as some former members rejoining.

I would like to thank vice chairs Nick Webb and Susan Mann, club secretary Andy Lee and treasurer Rob Thomas who have done a sterling job during what has been an unprecedented period trying to keep abreast of the constantly changing Covid-19 situation.

Very sadly we have lost several distinguished club members during the past few months, notably John Nash and Irene Ellis. Our sympathies are very much with their families at this time.

MENTIONS. There are a whole army of people, many of them unsung, whose tireless commitment and effort help keep the club ticking over. I would like to personally thank the following:

Chief Marshal Alan Croucher who, in a normal year, is responsible for ensuring that we have enough volunteers available for each of the 8 club only championship races. This is no easy task in the longer Pier to Pier and Rye to Hastings races which require circa 30 plus volunteers, spread over a wide area.
Alan took over from Terry Kitson, who similarly did an excellent job for a number of years.
Marie Crawford, the club’s answer to Professor Chris Whitty!, has done a fantastic job as our track & trace guru during the pandemic. As a committee, we have very much relied on Marie’s wise counsel during the vagaries of Covid. I know how much she has enjoyed inputting the large number of names submitted by coaches each week, in the event that if anyone tested positive for Covid we could then notify those who recently ran with them. It has now been decided to stop this practice, and put the onus on individuals to take whatever action they consider necessary should they experience Covid symptoms or test positive after a recent club session.

Communications Officer Simon Linklater, who has put together a superb club website which I can’t speak highly enough about as well as his in depth weekly race reports which are eagerly anticipated! In his spare time Simon has become the most improved runner in the club, deservedly hoovering up a whole host of trophies pre – pandemic. He has also devised some interesting warm up and form drills at the track, including agility ladders, which have been very well received.

Newsletter editor Matt Edmonds whose offerings every two months have rapidly become collectors’ items – we are very fortunate as a club to have someone who takes as much trouble in compiling these editions. Matt has also found the time to develop as an ultra runner, with some hugely impressive results in the past couple of years. His ultras seem to be getting more mountainous and even longer. In addition he took the definition of a pre – race “warm up” to new heights this summer by walking over 80kms overnight, including some wild camping, to arrive bright and bleary eyed at Canterbury parkrun – and then proceeded to add this parkrun to his list of parkrun successes!

Results compiler David Kilby who has a very time consuming task processing the race results during the year which form our First Past the Post Championship. David is stepping down at the end of this year; so we would very much like to hear from anyone interested in taking this on.

ESSCCL club captain David Bratby and assistant Jo Edwards – see full details below.

Sussex Grand Prix club representative Andy Knight – see full details below. Andy has also done a great job as our Trophy Secretary, chasing up previous winners to ensure that they part with their trophies in time for the next club only race!

Susan Wilkinson, who is responsible for taking members orders for the club kit.

The club’s Standards Committee comprising Mike Hall, Terry Kitson and Erica Wilson.

Facebook administrators Jane Hughes and Jo Edwards.

Google Groups administrator Annette Fry.

MEMBERSHIP. Club membership now stands at 365 paid up members with another 5 pending. This is a very substantial and encouraging membership, especially given the difficulties posed by the pandemic. Membership secretary Andy Lee reports a heartening increase in both new members and former members rejoining in recent months. The Executive Committee, as most of you will know, decided to roll over club memberships paid during this period until 31st March 2022.

COACHES/RUN LEADERS. We are very fortunate to have a wide array of coaches within the club, whose commitment and dedication means that club members can enjoy taking part in both official and “unofficial” runs on every day of the week. Although the Tuesday and Wednesday club nights from Horntye are the main focus, there are also track and efforts sessions, off-road runs, Jane Hughes’ 10kms run on Wednesday mornings, and groups going out from Dordrecht Way on Fridays led by Steve Uzzell, and from various venues on Saturday by Terry Kitson.

So a heartfelt thanks to the following – Darren Barzee, Andy Bashford, David Bratby, Nick Brown, Kim Callow, Marie Crawford, Luke Evans, Anthony Gardner, Mike Hall, Sylvia Huggett, Jane Hughes, Neil Jeffries, Tim Jury, Terry Kitson, Andy Lee, Simon Linklater, Susan Mann, Sue Palmer, Susan Rae, Corrina Skinner, Rob Thomas, Nigel Thornely, Steve Uzzell, Emma Wareham and Nick Webb.

NEW ROLES. We have been working hard behind the scenes to fill a number of key new roles within the club, which we feel will be of enormous importance going forward. These include:

Club Welfare Officers – Krista Barzee and Lena King, whose joint experience in the area of safeguarding should prove invaluable particularly with regard to the younger runners and vulnerable adults.

First Aid Officers – Susan Rae and James Graham. As many of you will know, Sue is a recently retired GP, whilst barefoot runner James is a first aider at work.

Coaches Group Admin Secretary – Marie Crawford is responsible for ensuring that all coaches have a current qualification, and that their DBS is up to date.

Mental Health Champions – this is an exciting initiative by EA with the charity MIND under the heading Run to Talk. Their aim is to have a mental health champion in every affiliated running club. They are appointed to promote the benefits of running on mental wellbeing; provide crisis information ie on website; be a link with the community and mental health organisations; support members to improve mental wellbeing through running; put on events to promote mental wellbeing within the club. We now have 14 club members signed up under Sue Mann’s stewardship, and hopefully now that life is returning to normal there will be a number of events coming up.

MORE BEHIND THE SCENES. We have also taken the opportunity to update the club’s policies and procedures, so that we are now fully compliant with all EA guidelines.

PROPOSAL TO LOWER THE CLUB ENTRY AGE FROM 16 TO 12.
The proposal to lower the club entry age to 12, which was provisionally agreed by email vote in December 2020, was discussed at the most recent members meeting where very moving testimonials were read out from junior members and their parents. I was delighted to see that the proposal easily achieved the two thirds majority vote required for the approval of a special resolution.
I believe that our club creates a very safe and supportive environment for these youngsters at the track sessions, many of whom wear their HR vests with some considerable pride. The emphasis from coaches is very much on encouragement, rather than the more pressurised environment some of them have previously experienced at other local clubs. Today’s youngsters represent the club’s future, and by encouraging them at an early age we would hope to ensure a steady feed of loyal younger runners. We hope that this will also encourage family membership and participation within the club.

Just to recap; 12 – 17 year olds are not eligible to attend other main club training sessions such as the Tuesday/Wednesday club nights from Horntye. This is partly to avoid putting unfair pressure on run leaders who may not be used to dealing with younger members, and partly because the runs are often well in excess of 10kms.

CLUB ANNUAL SOCIAL/AWARDS NIGHT. This will take place in January next year, again at the Azur. Our social secretaries Nick Webb and Michael Norris will be in touch very soon with full details.

CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS. We have been able to stage a shortened race calendar this year with 19 races on offer. We have eased the qualifying requirements to enable as many members as possible to participate in the First Past The Post Championship, with only five races (including one club only race) needing to be completed.

It was a terrific feeling being able to stage the Alan Corke race in August, which was our first club only race for nearly 2 years! There have been some great team performances during the year, notably at some of the new races we have introduced such as the Robertsbridge 10 kms, the Great Northiam Run and the Woodchurch 5 miler. Individually we have seen Will Withecombe, after warming up with several low key 5 kms race wins earlier in the summer, put in some most impressive performances to land the Hastings Seafront 10 kms and the Woodchurch 5 mile event keeping his AC and Hy Runners rivals firmly at bay! Meanwhile Matt Edmonds, taking a break from his long distance parkrun successes and ultra events, added the Beachy Head 10 kms event to his impressive cv. With just 3 races remaining, the battle at the top looks like going to the wire with Will, Darren Barzee and Kieran Price contesting the men’s category, and Claire Thomas, Susan Rae and Nicki Steed locked together in the women’s category.

RACE CALENDAR 2022. This will feature 25 races, 20 of which have been pre – selected based on popularity in recent years, plus a marathon of your choice. You will need to complete 8 races to qualify for the First Past The Post Championship, including at least 3 club only races. These comprise 13 road races, 5 cross country races and 2 multi terrain events, ranging in distance from 5 kms to half marathons or further.

However we invite members to nominate another 5 races which you would like to see included in the calendar. You have until 7th December to cast your vote!

ESSCCL. After two fallow years owing to Covid, the cross country season came back with a bang at Ashdown Forest recently with around 25 HRs taking part despite the atrocious conditions. XC captain Dave Bratby and his assistant Jo Edwards have done a great job of galvanising interest in this winter series, and after our 8th placed finish in 2019/20 are targeting a top 5 finish this time! You may recall that Matt Edmonds won 4 races in the last series, taking the senior men’s title for the first time in the club’s history.

There is a wonderful esprit de corps within the HR group, and the club continues to lead the way with 50/50 gender representation, pushing age boundaries and after race refreshments. Dave Bratby and myself have been pushing for a change in the archaic scoring system, with 40% of the runners taking part ending up as “non scorers” as clubs were limited to just 16 scorers (10 men & 6 women). The new scoring system sees clubs able to field 20 scorers (12 men & 8 women), which is certainly a move in the right direction. Fixtures coming up are at Snape Wood, Wadhurst; New Place Farm, Uckfield; Friston Forest; Whitbread Hollow and finally at Pett.

TUESDAY OFF – ROAD RUNS

Once again the off – road series which runs from mid April to mid September proved hugely popular, which is hardly surprising given the fabulous scenery we are lucky enough to enjoy in 1066 Country!

Many thanks indeed to chief organiser Tim Jury, who was ably supported over the season by Terry Kitson, Sally Grainger, Paul Cooper, Anthony Gardner, Simon Trevena, Sylvia Huggett, Corrina Skinner, Mickey Johnson and Martin Noakes. Runs stretched from 5 to 10 miles, depending on group ability, ambition, weather and how much daylight was left; and invariably took in hills, mud, brambles and a host of docile and not so docile livestock, before finishing with a cake fest! There was also a well attended walking group, usually led by Victor Froehlke.

The superb locations included Battle, Brede, Catsfield, Fairlight, Guestling, Icklesham, Pett, Pett Level, Sedlescombe, Whatlington and Winchelsea.

ULTRA RUNNERS. We have a host of ultra runners within the club including Darren Kilby, Jacqui Mannering, Matt Edmonds, Nina Lambrou, Pete Heasman and Sarah Holmes. I am going to start with Sarah Holmes who ran the Race to the Stones in July, a 100 kms route along the Ridgway which is Britain’s oldest road and has been used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers and features Iron Age forts and figures of white horses cut into the chalk.

Meanwhile Matt Edmonds did two ultra events over the summer, starting off with the Race to the King – an 84 kms event across the South Downs from Goodwood to Winchester taking in over 5000ft of elevation. His time of 8hrs 29mins saw him finish an excellent 14th out of nearly 1000 runners. He followed this up with a 60 kms ultra in the Balkans set beside Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia,which is one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe. This race featured over 9000ft of elevation, and Matt’s time of 8.36 saw his highest placed ultra finish so far with an excellent 6th. Matt’s ultra plans for 2022 include a jungle event and a forest event!

At the beginning of the year Pete Heasman and Jacqui Mannering decided to sign up for the Centurion 50 Mile Grand Slam, which is a series of four 50 mile trail ultramarathons. The first in the series was the South Downs Way 50 in April, and they were joined by their usual ultra buddy, Darren Kilby. Enjoying unseasonably good weather, they ran from Worthing over the Downs into Eastbourne only to find that the course was slightly short. So having received their medals, they then ran 3 laps of the track to make up the full distance!

The second of the Grand Slam series was the North Downs Way 50. Mud, hills, steps, mud, hills etc, you get the picture. Elevation of 5,600ft. The third Grand Slam was the Chiltern Wonderland 50 on a baking hot day in September, where Pete and Jacqui were joined by Nina Lambrou. The final Grand Slam is this weekend, featuring 5 x 10 mile loops of Wendover Woods in Bucks.

However not content with 4 Grand Slams in a year, Darren and Jacqui have also completed the 100 kms Serpent Trail on the South Downs; whilst Pete joined them for the 50 kms Run to the Sea from Horsham to Hove, not long after doing the Thames Path 100 miler from Richmond to Oxford. All 3 teamed up with Annette Fry to also take part in the Gatliff 50 kms.

SUSSEX GRAND PRIX. Many thanks to club rep Andy Knight for keeping us abreast of news for the SGP, although this hasn’t been too onerous a task during the past 2 years! The SGP, which consists of 21 clubs in East & West Sussex, will definitely be returning in 2022 although there may be a few changes in format. HR finished a highly respectable 5th in the Team Top 5 Points Championship and 4th in the Team Points Open Championship for the 2019 year, winning no fewer than 7 individual awards.

HASTINGS 1/2 MARATHON After a gap of two years, the most popular half marathon in the South East returns next March for its 38th edition. The organisers, Hastings Lions Club, have raised tens of thousands of pounds for community causes during this period. They have commissioned a special brass for next year’s event celebrating the life of Alan Turing, who broke the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park during WW2. He spent part of his childhood in Hastings, living in Upper Maze Hill.

HASTINGS 5 MILE RACE will similarly be returning next May, celebrating its 15th anniversary. I would like to pay special tribute to the former race directors Mary Chantler, Vic Froehlke, Tony Demarco and more recently Mike Hall who have done a tremendous job since setting up the race in 2006. A regular feature in the SGP, the race normally attracts 500 – 600 runners and has raised nearly 60k during this period for St. Michael’s Hospice. I am very honoured to be taking over the baton as race organiser from my illustrious predecessors, and will do my very best to promote our club’s flagship event.

PARKRUN Hastings parkrun was just a few weeks shy of its 5th anniversary when the pandemic struck and events were suspended worldwide. Thankfully parkrun resumed in July this year, and our parkrun has been maintaining a healthy average of 270 – 300 runners each week. Some 350 HRs have now clocked up over 10,000 parkruns at Hastings, and the event has proved to be a great source of new club members.

Event director Arrianne Callow has done a sterling job organising the volunteers each and every week, aided and abetted by fellow run directors Jane Hughes, Julia French, Julia James, Ken Hughes, Neil Jeffries, Nick Webb, Rick Burne, Sue Palmer, Susan Mann and Susan Rae. Potential RDs are given plenty of opportunity to undertake a wide variety of roles, and the new parkrun volunteer App has certainly made timekeeping and barcode scanning much simpler. Some final stats – since Hastings parkrun started way back in April 2015, over 10,000 runners have sampled our seafront course from 750 different clubs!

TRACK. After a stop – start 2020, track sessions finally resumed at the end of March this year and have been very well attended. A typical session will see 25 – 30 taking part, from 12/13 year olds up to masters runners in their 60s, and covering a wide range of abilities. There is a real sense of camaraderie at the track; which was very much in evidence at the recent handicap races despite the dire weather conditions! I would particularly like to thank my fellow coaches Darren Barzee, Neil Jeffries and Simon Linklater for their commitment in all weathers, and also to Marie Crawford who has deputised for me in the lower group during the past couple of months.

CHARITY FUNDRAISERS. Club members have raised many thousands of pounds this year for very worthy charities, and I am going to start with Jessica Cull who raised over £5000 for St. Michael’s Hospice by completing the VLM in memory of her husband Richard who died at the tragically young age of 43 and spent the last few months of his life at the hospice.

In good company at the VLM, Jessica Tanner, running alongside her mum Alison, raised £1200 for the eating disorders charity BEAT; Alison Anderson raised £3700 for the Place2Be charity, helping Children with Mental Health issues in Schools; Sarah Bendle knocked 14 minutes off her previous best Marathon time with 4.14 raising over £2000 for the charity Shelter; Eleanor Wood raised nearly £1000 for St. Michael’s Hospice after Steve’s Mum, Jenny passed away there in 2020, and her own dad passed away there back in 1991. Emily Allchurch completed the 26.2 miles in just over 4 hours raising nearly £2000 for the charity Grief Encounter, which helps support children and young people following the death of a loved one.

Hayley Ranson was supporting the British Heart Foundation for whom she raised over £700, and with the pandemic disrupting the race calendar found herself in the unique position of having secured places in the Great North Run, the Great South Run and the London Marathon, all within the space of 5 weeks! Hayley had trained hard throughout the summer with husband Ben biking alongside, (weighed down with provisions!),and savoured the brilliant crowd support at the VLM and sharing the run in with a man dressed as a pint of London Pride bitter!

Hayley has kindly shared her fundraising story. “In 2014 my husband Ben had a mystery illness that caused multiple blood clots in both legs and lungs. Following two life-saving procedures it was the timely intervention of a brilliant cardiologist and his team that literally saved Ben’s life when a stray clot went to his heart. Since then all my fundraising has been for the BHF – not only through running, but by selling unwanted items on eBay, hosting dinner parties where guests paid for their meal (yes, really!), baking cakes and selling them at work-related coffee mornings.”

Our former club chairman Tim Jury completed his 60th Marathon, raising over £3000 for Farm Africa, a charity close to his heart and one he has supported for many years. Alongside Mickey Johnson and Cassandra Colvin, they tackled two off road loops, starting from Tim’s farm in Pett and embracing the magnificent countryside around Fairlight, Icklesham, Winchelsea and Rye. Tim has recently announced his retirement from running, and the club would like to thank him for all his hard work and dedication to the club over many years.

WOMEN RUNNERS’ SAFETY WORKSHOP. Over 30 female runners from 7 different local running clubs joined forces recently to attend a workshop at Horntye Park arranged by Hastings Runners. Women’s safety on the streets was highlighted recently by the tragic case of Sarah Everard; whilst even elite athletes such as Eilish McColgan and Charlotte Purdue have publicly stated that they feel vulnerable running alone and often resort to having friends cycling alongside them.

The presentation given by Police Community Support Officer Maria Barraclough, based at Hastings Police Station, offered many excellent safety tips for those women who normally run by themselves. A wide range of risk aversion tips; plus what to do if you think that you’re being followed; and what to do if you are cornered.
It was clearly evident that many of the areas of Hastings where women felt particularly vulnerable, and in some cases had experienced harassment including stalking, all suffered from poor or non-existent lighting and lack of CCTV. These included Alexandra Park (especially the upper part), Rock-A-Nore, Bottle Alley and parts of the lower promenade.

Representatives from Hastings Runners, Run 1066, Heart & Sole, and Bexhill Runners have now formed a steering committee to publicise their various areas of concern for women’s safety, and to hopefully improve the situation locally. One suggestion received that each running club should have a single point of contact (SPOC), so that women who often run at unsocial hours or in more remote settings could have a greater pool of potential running buddies to access, should be acted upon very soon.

SARAH MARZAIOLI. I feel that no chairman’s report would be complete without mentioning the remarkable and very modest Sarah Marzaioli, who has completed over 100 marathons despite not taking up running until her early 50s. After warming up with numerous age category wins in events such as the Hampton Court and Tonbridge ½ marathons, and the Lydd 20 miler, Sarah was invited to participate in the London Marathon as part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series. Just two weeks later she posted a time of 4 hrs 37mins in the Yorkshire marathon, winning her age group in what was the British Masters marathon championship event for this year. This puts her 10th in her age group for the UKA rankings in 2021.

And finally, I would like to thank all members, from newcomers to those boasting several decades of service, for making the club what it is. I am going to finish by borrowing a FB quote from track regular Catherine Southgate after the weekend’s cross country race at Ashdown Forest. “I’m incredibly proud to belong to Hastings Runners, who have absolutely welcomed me, encouraged me, and still take group photos with my partner James in, even in his BRT vest & Vegan Runners jacket! I love how inclusive running is, and am starting to wonder why I didn’t do it sooner ! Since I started training and running with you all, you have given me such a love for running, and confidence to believe that no matter how long my 5 or 10 kms takes, I’m doing it and I’m enjoying it.”

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