This year’s marathon fundraising

Last year when I ran the London Marathon (before this blog existed) I wasn’t going to bother with raising funds for charity but then that nice fella Nick Booth said that if I did, he’d spread the word using social media and see how well we could do. At the same time a work colleague was eager to demonstrate that the old-fashioned way of raising money, hassling work colleagues in meetings and via email, would raise more. I can’t recall which way was more successful but we made about £500 for St Mary’s Hospice in Selly Oak.

So with a short time to go before I run the Edinburgh Marathon I’ve decided to see if I can’t raise a few quid for St Mary’s again. Love to have you donate as little or as much as you like.

Many thanks.

Best Lunchtime Run Ever

View Lunchtime run in a larger map

As I continue to plod my way through Edinburgh Marathon training I’ve taken to doing a bit of running at lunchtimes (now that I at last work somewhere with shower facilities). I thought it worth sharing the route with you as it’s a fantastic, popular, traffic-free run with a few interesting sights along the way.

The start could be from anywhere in the city centre or Jewellery Quarter but, as the map indicates, I start from the B1 building opposite Spring Hill library. I enter the canal near Summer Row and then proceed towards the National Indoor Arena. You could cross here and continue down the Birmingham and Worcester canal but better by far to head up the Birmingham Mainline canal, the M6 motorway of the West Midlands canal system.

I say that because it’s dead straight, very wide and with a towpath on both sides. And it’s full of lunchtime runners. Most just go up and down but I do a loop round the Soho loop. This runs at the back of the prison and then comes out again on the Mainline canal where you can head straight back to base. The straightness of the canal really lends itself to some short sprinting if you’re so inclined. There are several bridges so it’s worth trying to push hard between them and then recover to the next, repeating until you run out of bridges.

In total the run is just over 5 miles. It would make a pleasant enough walk as well. If anyone fancies coming along with me one lunchtime just ask.

Birmingham half-marathon 2009

Presumably the city council will update their own site soon but it’s worth noting that this year’s Birmingham half-marathon on October 11th is also the world half-marathon championships. That means us casual Brummie runners will be racing with the world’s elite.

The IAAF page on the event is quite illuminating. From it you can glean that the elite women will start separately from the men at 9am with the men (and probably the rest of the field) starting at 9.30am. No word on whether the route will change but you do learn that top prize is $30,000 (puts my £30 to shame) and that “the payment of prize money is dependent upon the athletes clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.” I best leave my steroid-based asthma inhalers at home then.

The IAAF do a nice little descriptor of Brum: “This city has been the industrial heartland of the country; it is still important industrially but this has also made way for an increasingly high position in the service sector.” Yep – about sums it up. Of course I’m still hoping my prediction for Paula Radcliffe to run it as a warm-up for the New York marathon comes true but most of all I hope it’s as good a race this year as it was last time around.

(nice pic from Flickr by hartlandmartin. Note Bournville Harriers’ star female athlete Linda keeping those guys on their toes)

Dave Harte – winner!


I won a prize for running. My first ever prize for running. In fact my first ever prize for anything athletic ever. Or for anything at all now I think about it. It turns out I won the top prize for my age category (40-45) at the Ironbridge Half Marathon the other week. I went straight home after the race, not even thinking to stop to see if I’d won anything. So the above cheque and explanatory scrap of paper that arrived in the post today were most welcome.

I was actually third in my age category but the other two were in the top five in the race overall so got separate prizes for that leaving me to scoop £30 as the next fastest vet 40 male. The prize list is here (PDF).

This is so exciting I came close to breaking my twitter fast. I plan to spend my winning on more lucky running pants.

Back from an awesome run….

….as I used to say on Twitter.

Actually I’m back from a storming run at the Ironbridge Half Marathon in Telford. Personal Best of 1:23:21, third in my age category, 17th overall, and a male veteran 40 record for Bournville Harriers. I don’t think I’ve felt as good in a race for a very long time.

I’ve ran this a couple of times before so I know by now that the first half is very quick, being largely downhill, and the second half can be tough, being largely uphill. The times tell their own story with my early 6′ 15″ miles becoming 6′ 40″ miles by the end of the race. I reached 10k in about 38 minutes and my legs only really felt heavy in the last couple of miles.

The scenery as always was lovely and this time around the lack of rain recently meant a virtually mud-free course. This remains one of my favourite half-marathons, not just because I seem to go quick here but because it is always well organised, friendly and a decent challenge.

For the record I was wearing my recently purchased special running pants. From now on to be universally referred to as my lucky pants.

(Pic from Telford Harriers)

This year’s marathon

This year I’m running the Edinburgh Marathon on May 31st as I didn’t get into London. I’ve been training for a good few weeks now but it’s been a little on and off as I hadn’t done that essential thing in my training regime – start a spreadsheet. It’s only the spreadsheet that usually guilts me into keeping the mileage up. So with 12 weeks to go and at the end of my first fairly full-on week I’ve started one.

This morning I had a lovely run all the way from Bournville up to spaghetti junction and back again on the Rea Valley route and then the canals. At 16 miles it’s my longest run to date – more to come though.

I just need to also write down that if I don’t do under 3 hours (best so far 3 hrs 1 min in London 2008) at Edinburgh I will have to do a second marathon later in the year (probably Dublin) in order to have a second bash at the time. Sub 3 hours is one of my 2009 goals, as is being less of an idiot. At least one of these is achievable.

Pic by Gary Henderson

Ely New Year’s Eve 10k – Race Report

What is it about this race? I’ve now run it four times and despite achieving sub-40 minute 10k times pretty consistently elsewhere I still haven’t done it here. This year I crossed the finish line in 40 minutes and one second. How frustrating is that? Three training runs in the past six weeks probably goes some way to explaining the time; that or the two glasses of wine, a beer and that extra slice of cheesecake the night before.

Ely Runners put on a great 10k. Its main, and unique, attraction is the bottle of real ale you get for finishing it but it’s also a well-organised run around some rather nice flat countryside. It starts in Little Downham just outside Ely and you basically complete a squarish route back to the village. If the wind is up then it can be a tricky course given how ‘up’ the wind can get across the Fens. But this year was calm and cold. Very cold in fact. I went for the gloves and vest look but there were some runners who were covered head to toe. Of course I was freezing but I had hoped that would make me run quicker. Clearly it didn’t.

Chatting to a runner afterwards he tried to console me by saying that in some ways this race is too flat. Actually it does have a single incline at the 8km mark, hardly a hill but with a lone piper at the top of it creating the effect of it seeming more epic than it actually is.

The race finished with a sprint across a frozen field, not a quick enough sprint by me but the conditions did deliver some good results with the winner, Rob Joy of Notts AC, finishing well ahead of second place in 31:15. Congrats to everyone who braved the cold – and especially to those 49 runners who did get under 40 minutes.

Race result:
David Harte Bournville Harriers MV40 0:40:01 51st

(pic Charlie Barker – he’s captured my peculiar ‘thumbs-up’ look very nicely)

Paula Radcliffe to run 2009 Birmingham Half marathon

…according to Monday’s Guardian anyway:

“November 2009: Three marathons in a year might be tough but will she resist the temptation of being back in New York? She might opt for the world half marathon the month before in Birmingham as well”


In fact I’d mentioned this as a possibility to a couple of people recently and there is some logic in thinking she’ll come to Brum. This year she would have gone to the world half marathon championship as preparation for running the New York Marathon which she won in style on Sunday. However, as the halves were in Brazil she opted for the 10 mile Great South Run instead.

So next year, if she decides to run New York again, I reckon the Guardian have it spot on and she’ll come to next year’s world halves in Birmingham in October as well. Now that would be just great, both for the city as a whole and for us runners who would have the privilege of running in the same race as her in our home town. The thought of Paula legging it past the Bartons Arms and avoiding bolshy Sunday shoppers at the back of Rackhams fills me with glee. Bring it on!

(pic by matt semel)

Birmingham Half Marathon race report

So that was the first ever Birmingham Half Marathon. All told it was pretty good. Here’s a brief report on the day:

It was of course a horrible night weather-wise (not as bad as up in the Lake District of course but thank goodness all the runners there are safe). By the time a group of eight of us got into a shared taxi at 7.40am it was just down to light drizzle and had stopped by the time the race started. I have no doubt that any complaints about the race will be based around the traffic at the start (big queues to park) and the loos (big queues to wee). Neither affected me much but I suspect the former was responsible for the 15 minute delay at the start. The pen system at the start worked well with runners starting according to their predicted finishing time.

The race was off by 9.45am and I have to say that it felt great to run on such wide roads. There was no runner congestion and generally good support all around. The underpasses and flyovers of Perry Barr were on the undulating side and running through the centre of town was fun but the really tricky hills were in Edgbaston. Every corner you turned seemed to be another uphill. The support on these roads was great and the water stations were well placed. Big thanks to Helen Foot who acted as my support crew by having a sickly orange energy gel ready for me at about mile 6.

The last two miles of this course are great. Given how tired my legs were after yesterday’s cross-country efforts I probably didn’t make the most of the two mile ever-so-slightly-downhill section but I gathered a little speed as I came past the large crowds lining Broad Street. An attempted sprint finish didn’t quite come off but I finished 96th in 1hr 27 min 11 sec. That’s a second best time for me at this distance. 

Overall there were about 40 Bournville Harriers running. Four of them were ahead of me with a couple of personal bests being achieved. Full results are online now. Well done to all.

I think the race was a triumph but I’ve no doubt there’ll gripes, especially from runners themselves (not flat enough, not scenic enough, no chocolate in the goody bag – runners can be a miserable bunch). But anyone who got themselves organised enough to arrive early, took in the atmosphere (lots of music along the way as well) and had the right attitude will have come away with a smile on their face as well as a medal around their necks.

By way of an aside yesterday’s cross-country was great as usual, and of course, muddy:

(pics Paul Foot although it must have been his wife Helen as Paul was one of the people stuck up a mountain in the Lake District)

Big weekend for running in Birmingham

Just to remind you that it’s a big running weekend in Birmingham. Tomorrow of course is the inaugural Birmingham Half Marathon. 9000 runners taking in Perry Barr, Newtown, City Centre, Edgbaston, Bearwood (presumably right up to the Sandwell border) and then back to Centenary Square. Given it’s a ‘Race Against Climate Change’ there could have been a few more options other than car to get people to the start. Apparently 75% of the 9000 are from the West Midlands so putting on some early local trains to Perry Barr as well as the shuttle buses from town would help persuade runners to leave their cars behind. As it is I’m car-sharing with some fellow runners. For a top example of running geekiness then check out Oliver from local design firm, ie design, who is using his iphone to allow others to track him though the race. Oh and I just noticed the link to the prize money – look at what I won’t be winning. Forecast is for early rain but clearing – ideal.

Later today is the Birmingham and District Invitation & Midland Women’s Cross Country League. I know, sounds exciting doesn’t it. But it’s about 6 miles of running through muddy fields and muddy streams in Senneley’s Park, south Birmingham. I run in this one for my running club and although I should just focus on one race this weekend I can’t resist a bit of cross-country as a pre-cursor to the longer run on Sunday. 

I’ll do a report on each over the weekend.