March, 2024 Newsletter (No 481)

There are some very long running events and there are some very strange running events. There are also some multi-lap running events. When you put all these elements together and stick them in a tunnel in the Cotswolds then you come up with The Tunnel Ultra 200 which requires participants to run the 1 mile length of a tunnel 200 times within 55 hours. Why would anyone want to do that and having done so once why would you want to do it again? Brendan Turner offers his explanation in his very compelling report on this quite astonishing race in this month’s newsletter.

I am pretty sure that Ian Matthews’s Algarve Training Camp didn’t involve any multi-lap tunnel runs and you can read of his full experience in these pages.

We are delighted to hear that Steve Hill has recovered fully from his recent operation and has been given permission to start running again and he hopes to take part in the forthcoming TAC Summer Handicap series commencing on the 30th April at Langley Vale (full schedule in these pages). Steve explains why he has fallen in love with this series.

We also have the usual training, results and diary features together with an introduction to the TAC One-to-One Training Programme.


The blossom is on the trees, the sound of petrol mowers is drifting across the warm breeze and we now embark on the Tadworth AC Spring/Summer 2024 Training Plan.

The full plan, which takes effect from April is available to read on our dedicated website page, as are the coordinates for the meet-up points.

We are delighted to announce the following exciting changes:

  • We are trialling additional Thursday evening sessions (7:15pm) to help those who cannot make Tuesdays, or want the opportunity to do group runs at ‘tempo’ pace.
  • We have confirmed dates for:
    • TAC Summer Handicaps
    • Nonsuch Relays
    • Imber Court Relays

·        Brian Hunton has kindly offered to lead some 5k-specific training over the coming weeks at the Harrier Centre track each Wednesday – see his update in this newsletter.

  • And, of course, we also have our long-standing Tuesday training fixtures, which will be moving to our summer locations over the coming weeks and will continue to start at 7:15pm.

The training team all look forward to seeing you at these sessions.

The blossom is on the trees, the sound of petrol mowers is drifting across the warm breeze and that means it is time for the TAC Spring/Summer Training Plan 2024.

We have some exciting changes for this term:

  • We are trialling additional Thursday evening sessions (7:15pm) to help those who cannot make Tuesdays, or want the opportunity to do group runs at ‘tempo’ pace.
  • We have confirmed dates for:
    • TAC Summer Handicaps
    • Nonsuch Relays
    • Imber Court Relays
  • Brian Hunton has kindly offered to lead some 5k-specific training over the coming weeks at the Harrier Centre track each Wednesday
  • And, of course, we also have our long-standing Tuesday training fixtures, which will be moving to our summer locations over the coming weeks and will continue to start at 7:15pm

The full training plan is available on the training pages of the website.

Last year, Tadworth AC invested in sponsoring several volunteer members through run leader or coaching qualifications to maintain and develop the club’s training sessions. 

We are excited to announce that Tadworth AC now has two qualified “Coaches in Running Fitness” and will be offering a free 8-week personal coaching programme for club members, subject to selection. In its initial stages, one member will be selected for the programme at a time, but it is hoped this will expand over time.

Your Opportunity for Personalised Running Success

This is your opportunity to fine-tune your running to achieve the goals you desire. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned runner, our coaching programme is designed to help you improve and excel in your running journey.

What it Involves:

·        Baseline Assessment: A detailed assessment (1½ – 2 hours) focusing on fundamental movement and running skills.

·        8-Week Training Plan: A holistic plan tailored to your needs, including drills, warm-ups, strength exercises, flexibility tasks, and a detailed running training programme.

·        Weekly Coaching Sessions: Personalized face-to-face coaching sessions with progress assessments.

Who Could Benefit:

·        Club members aiming to improve their running performance.

·        Individuals recovering from injuries or returning to regular exercise.

·        Novice runners seeking guidance.

·        Participants training for specific events.

·        Anyone wanting to refine their running technique.

What to Expect:

The coaching programme requires commitment from both the runner and the coach. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 60-90 minutes to weekly face-to-face training sessions, along with additional training activities agreed upon with your coach.

How to Apply:

To be considered for the training programme, complete the application form by 22 April 2024. Our Running Secretary, Darren Marshall, will select the successful candidate, and the coach (in this first wave, Ian Matthews) will make contact to introduce the programme in more detail. Sessions are anticipated to commence in May.

Contact Information:

For inquiries or further information, please contact Ian Matthews at

TAC invites all those that helped in this years TAD 10s to a free thank you drink at The Derby Arms after the first handicap race (Langley Vale) on April 30th.

The dates and venues have now been announced for this popular annual event. These are as follows (all on Tuesday evenings):

April 30th    Langley Vale (one lap; 5.6 km): Followed by TAD 10s thank you drinks at The Derby Arms.

May 14th      Ashtead Common (3 laps; 6.35 km)               

June 11th      Banstead Woods (2 laps; 5.15 km)

July 2nd       Nork Park (2 laps; 4.5 km)

July 23rd      Epsom Downs Figure of Eight (2 laps; 6.0 km)

August 6th    Walton Heath (2 laps; 5.0 km)

The 2024 Summer Handicap series is nearly upon us. Hooray! I have made no secret of the fact that the handicaps are my favourite event run by the club. At Mark Lowther’s invitation I had started attending TAC training sessions during the summer of 2015 but still wasn’t sure that joining a running club was for me until I ran my first handicap race on 4th August; the infamous Figure of Eight on Epsom Downs. Little did I know that it was the hardest of the six events with the most elevation (not to mention a section running in sand) and possibly the longest distance, although the three flat laps at Ashtead Common may be marginally longer. I have no recollection of my time, but just remember struggling up the hill the second time round, something I’ve still not cracked in my various attempts at it, but this race absolutely convinced me to join the club.

I had already received a warm welcome at the training sessions I’d been to but they were focused on running. This was my first introduction to the social side of the club, and I immediately thought this is the sort of club that I want to be part of. For me the Summer Handicap Series embodies everything that is good about TAC. 

First and foremost there is the emphasis on running and competition. The six different courses provide different challenges with some members preferring some courses over others and, indeed, some courses favouring some members over others. The handicaps add an extra element to the competitiveness. In principle, everyone has an equal opportunity to win the races, so everyone tries that bit harder to do so by trying to catch the runners who start ahead of them and to not be caught by those starting after them. But equally everybody encourages each other too and I’ve even had some runners apologise to me for catching up and overtaking me. I’ve seen some very close finishes though I’d still love to see a race in which the handicaps are so spot on that all the runners cross the finishing line almost at the same time.

Secondly, there’s the social element with the prize giving after each race, usually followed by a trip to a nearby watering hole, gives members a chance to relax in each other’s company and swap a few stories, not necessarily about running! So if you are new to the club please do consider taking part.

At this point I want to highlight the work that Phil and Heather Fenton have done for many years to make these events possible. Also to Alan Imeson for keeping, and updating, the results. Without their input, and that of those members who lay out the six courses, these events could not take place, so my heartfelt thanks to you all.

I love the Summer Handicaps so much I suggested to the club committee last year that a second trophy be made available for this event for the runner with the highest number of points across all six races. The traditional method of deciding the winner based on the best four scores from the six races is brilliant because it keeps the competition alive until the sixth and final event, and allows members to remain in contention even if they have been unable to attend a couple of the races, which is particularly important for those who, for example, have child care responsibilities or work shifts. However, I wanted to see an award be made available for members who consistently support this event, but don’t necessarily finish sufficiently high in four races to win the Summer Handicap Trophy. For example, a member who ran in just four races and came 1st in each would score 160 points, but a member who ran in all six but only came 14th in each of those races could eclipse that by 2 points. 

There was some concern that the person who won the original trophy under the best of 4 scores system might also have the overall highest points tally across all six races. It was, therefore, decided that, if that were the case, then the new trophy would be awarded to the person who had completed all six races and had the second highest points total, and that if not a single member completed all six races then it would go to the person with the second highest points total from five races. This would guarantee that there would always be two different members who received a trophy for the Summer Handicap series.

In a shameless act of self-promotion and egoism I also asked that if my proposal were accepted, the new trophy be called the Steve Hill Cup, and, much to my gratification, this was agreed. Those of you who attended our 2023 Christmas Dinner and Annual Awards evening will know that the first recipient of this new cup was Dave Williamson. I could not have hoped for a better winner as in all the years I have participated in the summer handicaps Dave has been a stalwart supporter of this event and, as one of the strongest runners in the club, he’s usually had a punishingly hard handicap too.

I was delighted that my proposal was accepted by the club committee and I hope it will broaden the opportunity for all members to win a trophy and generate added participation in these events. If you have not yet been to our Christmas Dinner and Annual Awards evening please consider attending in this and future years. They are great fun, excellent value, provide a chance to be seen in something other than running kit and are another example of what makes the social side of TAC so good. At least I can now confidently predict that at least one trophy awarded each year will have my name on it!

I look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it for the first race, Langley Vale, on Tuesday April 30th. The start is by the Rubbing House car park on Epsom Downs. Now that I have been given the go ahead to start running again after my recent operation I will certainly be doing my best to get fit to take part.

I wasn’t really sure why I wanted to do the 200 mile Tunnel for a 2nd time, I wasn’t really sure if I had the legs to do it. The test would be if I had the metal strength to push to the finish knowing I’d done it before.

At the 100 mile point I was moving just enough to stay in front of cut off, at 140 miles I was behind. Then being told I wouldn’t have the time to finish unless I picked my pace up wasn’t in the plan, but then managed 40 miles of faster running on absolutely battered feet and gave myself a bit of spare time.

Then the hallucinations started and didn’t stop, I was seeing floating hospital beds, dead bodies, rolls of wire that I had to run through, an old man selling apples from a window and every time I coughed loads of little black flies would come out!!!. I kept visiting a house with cars outside as I was now sure I was in some sort of relay race and I needed to collect something, of course there was no house or cars in the Tunnel but I thought I was now in a different race in a different tunnel. I’ve seen a few things before being sleep deprived but this was intense and so real. At one point I was talking to 3 guys at the new aid station (in the new race that didn’t exist) but it was actually the wall.

Finishing with only 5 minutes to spare in a 55 hour race was cutting it fine. I don’t think I would’ve finished if it wasn’t for Karen Webber-Brown as I worked my timings out probably 100 times and got a different answer each time. With her constant updates on my Finishing time I new I could do it.

Big thanks to COCKBAIN EVENTS (The Hard Stuff) but don’t think there will be a #3

Legs recovered quickly, feet now almost sorted but my head is still a mess.

Brendan 2- 0 The Tunnel

In the annals of marathon history, 1983 saw Mike Gratton conquer the second edition of the London Marathon in a blazing 2:09, not just clinching victory but unwittingly planting the seed for a future sports travel empire. And what did he name this empire? You guessed it – 2:09 Events. Sometimes, life has a funny way of coming full circle. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves celebrating the 40th anniversary of Gratton’s brainchild, the Algarve Training Camp. 

Back in 1984, Gratton launched his spring training camp in the idyllic village of Falésia, a stone’s throw (well, more like a 40-minute drive) from Faro Airport. Over the years, what began as an initiative under the Amateur Athletic Association of England has blossomed into a cherished tradition, drawing runners from far and wide to bask in the sun-drenched beauty of the Algarve. 

This year, Alan and Hazel decided to turn back the clock and revisit the camp for the first time since 1996. Hazel’s glowing recommendation convinced even the most hesitant among us (yours truly) to take the plunge and join in the festivities. 

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Falésia, the AP Victoria hotel served as our home base for the week-long adventure. With amenities ranging from a 400m track to tennis courts and football fields, there was no shortage of options for keeping active amidst the all-pervading scent of orange blossom. And let’s not forget the unheated swimming pool – a refreshing oasis for tired legs, especially when paired with a well-deserved cocktail (or two). 

As for the accommodations, the 4-star AP Victoria did not disappoint. With spacious apartments all with kitchenettes and balconies, it was the perfect retreat after a day of pounding the pavements and trails. And the food? Let’s just say EasyJet didn’t charge us for excess baggage, but they probably should’ve weighed our dessert-filled bellies on the return flight! 

Under the guidance of three seasoned coaches – Mike Gratton, Mara Yamauchi, and Mike Bannister – each day brought a mix of structured runs, speed sessions, recovery runs, and supplementary activities like Pilates, yoga and strength training. Whether we were running along sandstone cliffs or conquering the Falésia 5K, there was always a sense of camaraderie that transcended pace and ability. 

It wasn’t all just chat and laughs.  We put in some work, too.  Alan was the official timekeeper for the Falésia 5K, Hazel ran a season’s best time of 27:14 and won the FV65 prize.  Having bombed downhill at the start in 5th place at 5min/mile, I predictably crashed and burned finishing a disappointing 4th in my category.   

The Thursday long run was a flexible affair – 6km out and 6km back, with as many 5k loops in the middle as you could manage or be bothered with.  Mike Gratton parked his van at the start of the 5km loop giving us a personalised feed station each 5km.  A few of us went as far as 21 miles, but in the sunshine and with good company, the miles just drifted by. 

So, what did I take away from this unforgettable experience? 

  • With dedication and proper support, you can push your limits and achieve more than you thought. 
  • Running is not just a solitary pursuit; it’s a shared journey filled with laughter, encouragement, and the occasional blunder (because let’s face it, we’ve all tripped over our own feet at least once). 
  • And perhaps most importantly, a ‘running holiday’ isn’t just about logging miles – it’s about forging connections, making memories, and discovering the joy of running in its purest form. 

So, if this tale of sweat, laughter, and camaraderie has sparked your interest, why not consider joining us next spring for another round of running (and maybe a few laughs) in the sun-soaked paradise of Algarve? After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the finish line with a smile on your face and a newfound appreciation for the journey. 

3rd March, 2024

12,515 Paul Schnell 3 hours 57 minutes

12th March, 2024

18 Ian Matthews 19:01

73 Hazel Imeson 27:14

17th March, 2024

47 Akshay Kumar 1.41:49

99 Darren Marshall 2.22:12

252 Laura Palmer 2.44:16

184. Donna Dove 2.51:47

11 Will Henderson 4.17:01

31 Phil Stevens 4.59:43

45. Marcio Lopes Ribeiro 5.15:51

88 Mark Lowther 2.07:16

24th March, 2024

116 Ian Matthews 1.26:14

146 Darren Marshall 1.27:38

2405 Gemma Vincent 1.59:54

2412 Meg Francis 1.59:57

3187 Sharon Matthews 2.10:52

95 Akshay Kumar 2.37:02

31st March, 2024

17 Akshay Kumar 1.15:53

April, 2024

Sunday, 7th Sutton 10K (Club Championship & Surrey Road League). Nonsuch & Cheam Park,

Ewell Road, Epsom SM3 8AL. 9.30am.

Tuesday, 30th TAC Summer Handicap #1. Langley Vale KT18 5LJ. 19.15.

May, 2024

Sunday, 12th Ranelagh Richmond Half Marathon (Club Championship & Surrey Road League).

Rose Of York pub, Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 6UY. 8.30am.

Tuesday, 14th TAC Summer Handicap #2. Ashtead Common KT21 1NW. 19.15.

Our next newsletter editor is Jim Duffy. 

All contributions to the newsletter should be emailed to Jim Duffy

The April, 2024 issue is expected to be out at the beginning of May.

From the October, 2021 edition onwards the newsletter is available on the TAC website under the ‘news’ tab.

Members with Internet access can download copies of past newsletters in Adobe Acrobat format by going to our members-only website at  

The current Committee comprises:

RoleRole Holder

ChairpersonAndrew Morrison
TreasurerAkshay Kumar
General SecretaryAlan Imeson
Running SecretaryDarren Marshall
Communications OfficerJim Duffy
Membership & Recruitment SecretaryNick Hawthorne
Social SecretaryDonna Dove

2 thoughts on “March, 2024 Newsletter (No 481)

  1. Hi there,

    Great newsletter as always. Such a variety of content and as a relative new joiner Ito the club it is an inspiring read. Was there something I missed in the Hampton Court Half Marathon sign up process that meant that I wasn’t cited / recognised in the results above? I tagged myself as a member of TAC.

    Not the end of the world just a little sad to be missed off the recognition. And certainly doesn’t warrant a republish for that.


    1. Meg,
      The newsletter has now been updated to reflect your excellent half marathon performance.
      Best regards,

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