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Weekend Round Up 16th 17th December

The winter Solstice has just passed (21st December) which meant this was the shortest day of the year. Thank you to everyone who have already renewed their membership for the coming year. We can now start to look forward towards lighter evenings together with a lot of Tuff activities already planned for 2024, including a new Monday night run course starting on the 1st January.

On behalf of everyone at Tuff Fitty, its members, coaches and committee, thank you for your support in 2023 and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

This was set to be a large Tuff outing, but unfortunately the winter covid/colds scuppered the plans of several who had planned to race. Conditions saw dry weather, in contrast to last year but being mid-December the usual cold wind played its part. The Ultra and Marathon were the first set of runners to start and well done to Mark Walford who crossed the line 27th overall out of almost 600 runners. Not only did he produce a great result he has kindly reported in as follows:-

Back in 2008 I completed a marathon and it was not pretty, 5hours 30 of pain and then several days unable to move. Needless to say I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience. Fast forward 15 years and I decided to put right that wrong. My only issue was timing, marathons in season are hard to train for alongside short distance triathlons so seeing Portsmouth coastal a few days before Xmas fitted the bill. This did mean autumn/winter training, mainly meaning dark and wet. Saturday morning runs became earlier and earlier getting distance up. But I did a great training block, all was good until taper, when my calf went and meant taper was almost a complete stop. 2 weeks before race day and I only swam and 1 short run. Despite this I turned up to race day to give it a good day. Started and felt good, remembering to go easy, well until 5km when my pace was getting quicker and I thought, I’d go quicker and see if I could get my top target time.

My nutrition of 5 jelly babies every 5km and gel on the hour was working, half way feeling good, next 10, getting through then the wall. Final 10km, everything was harder, wind against me but I kept going. Got onto beach both hamstrings cramped and delayed me but then carried on, pace slower but apart from that never stopped. Really proud of my effort, many things learnt during the race but mainly in the training. Crossing the line and seeing more Tuffs was a great way to finish the year.

Now back to shorter stuff for 2024 🙂

At 9:15am the gun sounded for the half marathon and we have two reports to share. Our intrepid Tuffs navigating the numerous coastal defence works along The Solent and Langstone Harbour were Adrian Oliver, Clare Worgan, Leah Simms, Trevor Harvey, Clive Harvey, Catharine Gray & Graham Liddell. Firstly a report from Adrian Oliver & then Graham Liddell:

This was my first flat half marathon in 34 years, and I was a combination of excited, intrigued, and apprehensive about how I would perform.  All half marathons I took part in during the last four years have either been trail and/or hilly and/or part of a 70.3 triathlon event – these all presented plenty of excuses (triathlon’s 4th discipline…) to hide behind.

Portsmouth Coastal Marathon was completely flat and only presented two short 200m sections across beach shingle (e.g. Worthing 10k Beat the tide), 100m of slippy/muddy grass (e.g. Sussex Cross Country League), with the rest of the course on promenades, pavements or paths.  And no swim or cycle before… No excuses!

Arriving early, I was able to watch speedy Mark Walford set off at a blistering pace for his full marathon.  I then met up with Clive and Trevor on the start line, but finding the others Tuffs among the ~600 competitors for the festive half marathon start proved impossible.

Once the run started, I quickly settled down into my desired pace, which felt comfortable, but I knew was just the wrong side of comfort for that distance – it had felt fine for 1200m on the track earlier that week…  I managed to keep my pace consistent up until we were within 3km of the finish and rejoined the seafront promenade, where the combination of headwind (the excuse…) and leg fatigue (the reality…) made it a struggle to keep the pace up.  When my watch beeped at the 1:40 mark, with the finish in sight, I switched my watch to distance and time to see what my chances of finishing the half marathon in my goat time of 1:45. Although still some way from the finish, I was pleased when my watch recorded 21.1km in 1:44:26, allowing me to continue my half marathon shuffle across the finish line at 21.7km in 1:47:30.

As expected, the Portsmouth Half Marathon was very well organised, the weather was perfect (mild, slight wind), and the parking and facilities were good. I will be adding this to my regular annual events.

Unfortunately, I could not stay around to meet up with the other Tuffs as my family had told me to run faster to get back in time for my mother-in-law’s 89 birthday party.  I am pleased to say I arrived early at the Oyster Catcher before everyone else!

Conventionally, preparing for a half marathon involves weeks of building up the distance, putting in a bit of speed work, tapering, getting your nutrition sorted and developing and following a cunning race plan to eke out your fastest time.

But what do you do if (hypothetically) your preparation has focused more on attending the post run breakfast rather than the actual running? Here is a 10-point bluffers guide.

Part A – Sort out your strategy.

  1. Choose an event that is flat and where the emphasis is on taking part rather than getting a PB.
  • Find a race day running partner whose preparation has been more disrupted than your own. Key attributes of the ideal candidate include:
  • having a busy patient-facing job in the NHS
  • studying for a masters
  • looking after a 5 year-old
  • a partner who travels away for work
  • training disrupted by cracked ribs, followed by a couple of colds and a holiday.
  • Tell as many people as you can that you are not going for a time, this is ‘just for fun’.

Part B – Dress to distract.

  • Divert attention from the running by wearing fancy dress:
    • avoid impressive looking costumes (reindeer suits etc) that will make you even slower
    • go for a wicking elf technical t-shirt
    • for added wow factor borrow Mark Walford’s bright green tights.
  • When wearing MW’s bright green tights, avoid diverting attention to the wrong place by either:
    • popping on a pair of shorts; or
    • attaching your number to a strategically placed race belt and keeping out of the wind.

Part C – Make the race all about you and sabotage others.

  • Maximise your media coverage by waving wildly and whooping when you see a camera. Make sure you block out other runners.
  • Pick up a bunch of jellybeans at the feeding station and hold them tightly so that your right hand becomes super sticky.
  • Get rid of stickiness by high fiving any club captains coming in the opposite direction.
  • When your running partner starts to flag, remain irritatingly cheerful. Bring out the super patronising comments when their knee starts to become painful. Stay with them even if they tell you to run off and jolly well leave them on their own (or words to that effect).
  1. Make sure you get to write the race report.

With thanks (and apologies) to all the participating Tuff Fitties:

Catharine Gray : my race running partner and who also drove round half of West Sussex in picking up and dropping off me and Clare Worgan.

Clive Harvey : looked to be running strongly when we saw him and maintained his pace to the end.

Trevor Harvey : dropped his brother (I suspect at the halfway point) to establish Harvey bragging rights.

Leah Simms : ran a good race with a decent time. Great media presence too: I tried my best to block her from the camera, but she still managed to get her face in shot.

Clare Worgan : comfortably inside her 2-hour target time. Generously lent me her spare base layer because it was colder than I anticipated. Subject of my most successful blocking move.

Adrian Oliver : a great run from Adrian. Might have got under 1.45.00 if he hadn’t needed to stop to remove a mysterious sticky substance from his hand.

Mark Walford : a stonking run from Mark despite pre-race injury worries. Ran his marathon so quickly that he nearly caught me and Catharine at the finish.

For more pics, click on the photo below:-

Portsmouth 2

Saturday runners usually stop for coffee afterwards in Arundel, but once a year there is an organised run from the Beefeater at Crossbush. As Christmas, festive attire is positively encouraged. With no limit on parking, as much breakfast as you can eat, together with unlimited tea and coffee, it is always a great ‘warm up’ for Christmas. Thanks to Trevor Harvey for booking the Beefeater.

With Portsmouth Festive runs the next day at the back of many Tuffs mind, most pursued the option of shorter run – with a longer breakfast. Well done to (in strict alphabetical order to ):-

Adrian Oliver, Amy Flinders, Anthony Towers, Chris Evans, Clare Worgan, Clive Harvey, Iris Bennett, Janet Shepherd, Jon Roper, Lucy Goldberg, Marc Flinders, Mark Sole, Mark Walford, Matt Charman, Mike Barrett, Paul Thomas, Sophie Garbo, & Trevor Harvey

There have been two recent fundraising sea dips in December and well done to Leah Simms & Wendy Kane who took the plunge at Shoreham and then Leah Simms, Wendy Kane, Ness Green & Mouse Reilly did the same at The Beach in Littlehampton. Leah has had a good start to her fundraising for the RNLI – if anyone is able to support her in her quest; Leah’s fundraising page is HERE There could be a chance that some of our readers will finish Leah’s report and think “Oh that would have been fun to do”? Well then, you are not too late 🙂 There is the traditional Boxing Day dip at The Beach Cafe Littlehampton @ 9:30am

“As part of my fundraising for the RNLI ahead of London Marathon, I was keen to support two of their local December charity events. 

First up was a sea dip hosted by RNLI Shoreham Lifeboat station at Shoreham Harbour in early December . Despite the heavy rain upon arrival and throughout the dip,  it was a great event. The water temperature was comfortable at 9° and we were permitted a maximum of 10 mins in the water and reminded that it was a dip and not a swim. It was a well organised event with the water safety crew keeping a watchful eye. As I was getting my complimentary hot drink, it was lovely to bump into Wendy just as she was heading into the water for the second wave. 

Last weekend was my second fundraising sea dip. This time for RNLI Littehampton Lifeboat station hosted by The Beach. 

After registering and receiving my safety wristband, I was delighted to find fellow Tuffs Ness, Wendy, Mouse and chief photographer Sheila (Bailey) on the beach. 

After a slightly delayed start we cautiously entered the water as the waves were starting to pick up. Again, the temperature was a comfortable 8-9° and we were only permitted to dip for a maximum of 10 mins. You could exit the water at any time within this. There was a full safety crew both in the water and on the beach and it was lovely to be joined by one of the RNLI boats. 

Both great events and I’m definitely putting in the calendar again for next year. 


With the breakfast run, parkrun numbers were lower this week, but still some great results from the following:-

Worthing parkrun saw Edward Lay as our first Tuff home and then Phil Turner, with Ed & Phil having amassed 254 parkruns between them.

Littlehampton parkrun; Steve Fryer was back to his usual rapid running finishing 19th overall in 20:53. Another person recording a very high age grading score was Colin Simpson, first in his age group and just three seconds outside his PB over this course set a year ago. Alistair Evans was our next runner completing his 152nd parkrun. Sue Simpson rounded out the results from the Tuff quartet.

Well done to all six.

Tuff Fitty’s Power Hour Resolution swim is approaching on Saturday 6th January replacing our standard Swim training for one week only. Whilst we have a full compliment of swimmers, we do need more lane counters. If we can get more volunteers it won’t be an arduous task as there will be just four swimmers per lane. If you are willing to come and see over thirty swimmers push themselves for an hour please accept the ‘task’ on the Spond event, or any queries please speak to Clive