Harrow reaches out to disappointed runners who’ve had their race postponed
Hundreds of English Half Marathon runners are upset and angry that their race has been postponed. Imagine training for months and then the race is postponed for safety reasons with only days to go. Heartbreaking!
We as organisers of the Harrow Half Marathon – Harrow AC and Active Training World – are sympathetic to their plight and have decided to reach out to those disappointed runners who still want to race. We are offering free places in this Sunday’s race in Harrow with no admin fees to those who can prove they were entered for the race in Warrington and are prepared to travel.
You’re guaranteed a warm welcome and a course that features historic landmarks, stunning views, parks and countryside. The start and finish is in the grounds of Harrow School, where Sir Winston Churchill and Benedict Cumberbatch were educated.
All runners have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of entry. There will have to be a limit of 100. We will reply with exact details of how to formally enter and you will need to bring photographic ID on Sunday. If travelling with the family, we can also offer limited places in the Sir Roger Bannister Family Mile.
Hopefully, the organisers of the English Half Marathon can resolve their issues – we wish them well – but in the meantime we hope this offer is attractive to those able to take advantage of it. As members of the wider athletics community, we believe and hope that other events would do the same if the situation was reversed. It’s all about putting runners and the good causes they run for first.
More details of the event can be found at www.harrowhalfmarathon.co.uk
Former Olympic Sprinter Laura Turner-Alleyne to start Harrow Half
Laura represented Team GB at the Beijing Olympics in the 100m and 4×100 relay. Two years later at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, she won relay gold for England and also competed in four World Athletics Championships. Across her career, she won five national championships but ‘retired’ in 2013 to become a coach. She ran the Harrow Half in 2017 – her first ever half marathon.
Read her Harrow Half marathon blog below.
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Doctor leads from the front but happy to come last
Having served Harrow with distinction for forty years as a local GP you would have thought it was time for 67-year-old Doctor Nizar Merali to proverbially ‘put his feet up’. Fortunately for the community he doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase. He is driven by a passion to build a local community centre and is about to do something far outside his comfort zone to raise funds. As he freely admits, he’s never run before but it is not stopping him tackling the HARROW HALF MARATHON on Sunday September 15th. www.harrowhalfmarathon.co.uk
Nizar is doing it as a trustee and driving force behind a ground-breaking project to build the Salaam Centre in North Harrow. There are fourteen of them running for Team Salaam so he won’t be alone. However, he suspects that he will be the last to finish with an ambitious target to get around in three hours just ahead of the roads being reopened. Nizar is worried about finishing, particularly as his training has focused more on walking than running.
He does two and a half hours walking on a treadmill each week, plus a long walk with a group of 35 patients every Sunday morning in West Harrow Park. Nizar has also started to do a mixture of walking and running, which went well initially, but he says his knees are hurting him now. However, it didn’t stop him taking part in his first 5k parkrun on the recent bank holiday weekend and he achieved the very creditable time of 36-20 at Harrow Recreation Ground. He found running with 200+ others a great incentive and was spurred on by the family atmosphere.
Nizar’s determination will be fuelled by his personal target of raising fifty thousand pounds for the Salaam Centre – that’s two thirds of the team’s target. The Salaam Centre is a ground-breaking project to build a unique facility for the Muslim and wider community in Harrow. They already have close relationships with other non-secular organisations in the borough. It’s situated close to the North Harrow traffic lights and building work is already well under way. The design is striking. http://www.thesalaamcentre.com
The centre will have five levels with the basic building work on the two underground levels already completed. The space will include two gyms, sports hall, restaurant and kitchen, meeting hall, lecture theatre, prayer hall, children’s play centre, library, IT and media rooms. They need to raise another twelve and a half million pounds and aim to have finished the centre in two and a half years.
Nizar is driven by a passion to make this project a reality: “where those of all faiths and none, will come together to build a stronger future for us all as what unites us all is greater than what divides us”. It’s no wonder that he is prepared to push himself to the limit in his quest to see this vision being realised. Participating in the Harrow Half Marathon is another step towards achieving a lasting community legacy and perhaps his most challenging yet.
You can sponsor Nizar at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=NizarMerali&pageUrl=1
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS!
The waiting is over for those who entered the Harrow Half Marathon before the end of July.
The Harrow Half Prize draw took place at the Harrow Park Run on Saturday 17th August. The first prize of a pair of trainers donated by Runners World, Eastcote was won by Mike Hogg, the second prize of a sports massage from the Body Factory, Harrow was won by Arun Koshal and the third prize of a free entry into next years race was won by Penelope Teoh. Congratulations to our three winners!!!
The lucky winners will be notified by email as soon as the draw has taken place.
HARROW HALF GOES ‘SINGLE USE PLASTIC FREE’
The Harrow Half Marathon 2019 was London’s first ‘Single Use Plastic Water Bottle Free’ event. Runners were able to refresh and rehydrate themselves at water stations along the course with OOHO, water in a biodegradable sachet that is made using a 100% seaweed based membrane. Removing single use plastic bottles and cups from the course was a big step towards achieving our goal of becoming a more sustainable half marathon. We’re grateful to Selfridges and Skipping Rocks Lab for helping to make this happen.
We are pleased to announce that once again our 2019 will be offering Ohoo to its runners. With each of the three water stations on the course being passed twice, runners will have six opportunities to take on water in this ground breaking and environmentally friendly way. At the end of the race, water will be available at the start/finish area thanks to our sponsors AFFINITY WATER, who are again supplying reusable water bottles.
OOHO is a world first. Biodegradable in 4-6 weeks, it aims to challenge the devastating effects of plastic on the oceans and the environment. OOHO has focused on creating edible seaweed-based membranes filled with water and made from an abundant natural resource that disappears as quickly as natural food waste. The material can be treated just like food and disposed of in the food waste, but even if it goes in the general waste and ends up in landfill, it will degrade to its original elements.
OOHO water is filtered water in a biodegradable and edible sachet. Runners will be able to collect them from the volunteers when passing any of the water stations. To drink it, simply bite the corner and suck out the water; ‘nip and sip’. Alternatively, you can swallow the sachets as they are edible or simply throw them away – our volunteers will sweep them up – or they will degrade in a few weeks. The choice is yours.
The Harrow Half Marathon is determined to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable both this year and in the future and we thank you for supporting this initiative.
Mara Yamauchi’s Harrow Half-marathon training tips
- Running the distance: if you can, try to run the half-marathon distance in training at least once.
That will give you the confidence of knowing you can complete the race.
- Speed-work: to improve your PB, at some point speed training is essential. For the half-marathon, longer intervals are the top priority to build your speed endurance.
- Ready for the weather? Mid-September in the UK could be hot, cool, dry, raining, windy – you name it, the weather could do it! Think through how you can prepare best for these different scenarios.
- Run the course: being familiar with a course in advance helps enormously on race day. If practical, run the course before race day, or at least have a good look at the course map on the race website or on a map.
- Race day logistics: think through everything you’ll do on race day – what time to have breakfast, getting to the start, what you’ll wear, drinks, how you’ll get home afterwards, etc. If you’re well-organised, that’s less to worry about on race day.
- Practice eating & drinking: whatever you eat on race day before, during and after the race, is very individual. What suits one runner will be different to others. Practising is essential, so you know if it helps you to run well or not.
- Have a race plan: having a goal for the race is essential – it could be a certain time, to run the whole way, or just to complete it. When things start to get tough, your goal will motivate you to keep working hard and stay positive.
- Recovery afterwards: it’s easy to think only as far as the finish line on race day. But if you can plan your recovery – drinks, food, icing sore muscles, getting a good sleep, gentle exercise etc, your body will thank you for it later.
- Rest up for race day: in the final few days, you will not get any faster by doing more training. You need to toe the start line feeling physically and mentally fresh. So give yourself enough rest before the race to ensure this happens.
- Enjoy it! At the end of the day, running has to be enjoyable – if it isn’t, motivating yourself will be tough. So make the most of an exciting, challenging day, even if it involves some pain.
Harrow HM – Blog by Laura Turner-Alleyne
It was a regular Harrow AC committee meeting in April, Keith (our Chairman and Harrow HM organiser) was telling us excitedly about the plans to host the Harrow HM. As I listened, my imagination started to run away with me; thoughts of me triumphantly running through the town I grew up in, supporting the club I have been a member of for 25 years, wearing my Harrow AC vest once again with pride. YES, I AM GOING TO RUN THE HARROW HALF MARATHON.
This decision doesn’t seem like a big deal, loads of people run half marathons all the time, why all the fuss. Well, I had retired from a ten-year international sprinting career 3 years ago and since had an operation to hold my foot together with 3 metal pins. I was unable to do any form of running for 6 months post-surgery but had managed my target of running a 10km 12 months after the op. There was still life in the old (34 years old) dog yet!
I wrote myself a training plan, as all good coaches do. I had 20 weeks of training to prepare myself for 13.1 miles, no problem. Or so I thought. My training consisted of 3 running sessions and 2-3 gym sessions a week, plus I would usually get to Hot Yoga once a week. Initially I did not have a time target in my head, I just wanted to finish without walking. That was until I found out my Mum had run a Harrow Half Marathon when I was 4 years old (after having 2 children). My new time target was now 2 hours 13 mins (Mum’s time was 2 hours 14 mins!)
In June I ran the London 10-mile race around Richmond Park. A client I coach was doing it so I thought might as well run too. Who knew Richmond Park was so hilly? I made it round slower than I had hoped but without walking and my foot didn’t fall off, result. This gave me confidence that I would actually make it round the HM, I now focused on how fast I would run it.
I introduced some race pace runs to my training plan, I found these to be really helpful. Starting at short runs of 3 miles, I built up to 7 miles at race pace. I was enjoying training and finding the new challenge very enjoyable, I was now aiming for sub 2 hours (9:09 /mile). This got harder and harder the further I ran, I shifted my goal to 2 hours 10mins (9:55 /mile – still quicker than Mum).
The last few weeks of training got really tough, I was out running for anything between 90 mins to 115 mins. I have to admit I did start to lose the enjoyment a little. I would run in the morning and be wiped out for the rest of the day. My body was in complete shock at what I was pushing it to do. The gym sessions became really important, I made sure my legs and trunk were well conditioned to handle the demands of a HM. I also made sure to get treatment in the form of sports massage and Osteopathy.
The big day finally arrived. I had tapered for the last week of training, making sure I felt rested going into the race. I had also made sure I was well fuelled the few days before the race, plenty of good carbohydrates in my meals. My strategy during the race was to take an energy gel every 20mins, something I had practised during my training runs. I had gels in the pocket of my shorts and shoved down my sports bra.
Arriving at Harrow School for the start was daunting but exciting at the same time. Lots of familiar faces helped me stay relaxed, although I was very nervous. I just had enough time for my 10th loo break (at least) and we were off. I tried really hard to start very slowly and feel comfortable. It was great to see so many Harrow AC members on the course, they kept my spirits up, gave me water, waved and high fived as I ran (jogged/plodded) my way through a trip down memory lane. The route took us past Yates’; a pub I spent many nights in as a teenager (over 18 of course); past my old high school (Hatch End) where my Dad and sister were cheering me on; past many of my friends’ houses; and finished up running through Harrow town centre by which point I was hanging on for dear life hoping no one I knew spotted me.
As I ran down the final hill towards the finish, I saw Keith (chairman) who gave me a high five. I was cursing him inside, it was his fault I was putting myself through this! I entered the final straight with a flurry of emotions, drowned out by the sound of name being announced (oh the shame) as I did my best sprint finish (would’ve been rude not to). I finished in 2 hours 4 minutes 49 secs (YES, I beat Mum!)
I got home and had an ice bath; old habits die hard. Then did not move from the sofa for the rest of the day. I was exhausted but so immensely proud that I, a former 100m sprinter with metal pins holding my foot together, finished a HM.
I have no plans to run another HM or indeed a full marathon, as many people keep suggesting. Completing the Harrow HM is one of my proudest achievements; it truly tested my commitment, focus, drive, endurance and mental toughness. I knew I had these attributes from my years as a sprinter, the challenge of the HM reinforced my belief that you are capable of anything you put your mind too.
I will leave you with this, my advice to anyone who is planning on running the Harrow HM (or indeed taking on any challenge)
Be prepared – training plan, race strategy, nutrition strategy. Being prepared will help you feel more in control and less daunted by the task in front of you
Keep it simple – one of my most important coaching points is to do the basic things well. Fancy watches and shiny trainers are lovely but can you run comfortably with sound technique?
Conditioning – make sure you follow a good gym/conditioning plan to make sure your body can handle the demands of training and minimise injury. Key areas are calfs, hamstrings, glutes and core.
HAVE FUN – this is the most important point. You should enjoy the challenge, thrive on the pressure, let your mind switch off from your busy life while you do something for yourself
I hope you all enjoy Harrow HM as much as I did.
SIR ROGER BANNISTER 1929-2018
The time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds is legendary not only in Britain but throughout the sporting world. It was the time Sir Roger Bannister recorded when famously he became the first person to break the four-minute mile barrier in the late afternoon at Iffley Road Sports Ground in Oxford on 6th May 1954. It was simply one of the great global sporting achievements of the twentieth century that went far beyond Athletics.
It’s no wonder that Lord Sebastian Coe, who later went on to break the world mile record himself, said, “This is a day of intense sadness both for our nation and for all of us in athletics…There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track.”
Along with the whole world of Athletics, everyone connected with Harrow Athletics Club and the Harrow Half Marathon, mourns his death at the age of 88. We treasure the connections he had with Harrow and how his achievements encouraged and motivated runners of all ages.
Sir Roger was born in Harrow in 1929, lived in Butler Road and was a pupil at Vaughan Primary School. Sir Roger was a member of the school running team and that athletics and sporting tradition goes on. Vaughan is a lead school for PE in Harrow and every year has its annual sports day at the Bannister track in Hatch End. Later on, he lived in Whitmore Road, overlooking the grounds of Harrow School, and trained locally.
He went on to study medicine at Oxford and saw running as something to be done in his spare time. Nevertheless, he was selected for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki where he came fourth in the 1500 metres, breaking the British record.
He then focused on becoming the first person to break the four-minute mile. After coming close several times, he finally achieved that goal in May 1954 with the help of another two Athletics legends – Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway.
The Australian John Landy broke his record in June that year and they went on to race each other in early August at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in what was dubbed ‘The Miracle Mile’. It was an epic contest with Bannister narrowly beating his rival to take the gold medal. Later that month, he won ‘the Metric Mile’ at the European Championships in Bern. By the end of that year, he’d retired to concentrate on his medical career and he later became a consultant neurologist.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease. He subsequently told the BBC: “I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness…It’s in the nature of things, there’s a gentle irony to it.”
I rang him last year as we were planning the Harrow Half Marathon. We wanted him to lend his name to the Family Mile we were staging alongside the main race and spoke briefly. He sounded frail but said, “I can’t stop you” with what I sensed was a twinkle in his voice. I think he was pleased that another generation would benefit from his sporting legacy and that the foundations of a stellar athletics career that were laid over eighty years ago had not been forgotten.
March 4th 2018