May, 2024 Newsletter (No. 483)

It wasn’t that long ago that the marathon was considered to be the ultimate running challenge. The event was born out of the legend of the Athenian courier Pheidippides who in 490BC ran from the site of the battle of Marathon to Athens with the message of Nike (Victory) before promptly collapsing and dying (he clearly didn’t follow the Runners World beginner’s marathon plan, silly boy!). Whether he actually died or not is still a matter of contention but let’s stick with it for the sake of this narrative. Then, a few years later (1908) we had the case of Italian runner Dorando Pietri who, during the Summer Olympics in London that year, collapsed just yards from the finishing line whilst in the lead and had to be helped over the line which resulted in his disqualification. These are just two examples of how the marathon got its fearful reputation and why the distance of 26.2 miles was thought to be beyond the reach of most athletes. And can you believe that it was as recently as 1967 when a woman was first allowed to run an officially registered marathon when Kathrine Virginia Switzer became the first lady to run the Boston marathon. Up until this point the 26.2 miles distance was considered to be outwith the physical capabilities of a female. Silly authorities!!! However, this theory has been blown out of the water with regular races now being run in distances of 50 miles, 100 miles and beyond. Quite a number of Taddies have in recent years joined the ultra-running brigade and earlier this month no fewer than 7 of our club mates took part in the annual NDW50 event. Congratulations to each of them who finished the race in fine style and with impressive times. You can see their times and placings in these pages.

For those who prefer their races to be a little shorter (49 miles shorter to be precise) we held on the same day as the NDW50 a 1 mile sprint up Box Hill in our annual commemoration to the memory of our sadly departed colleague Dick Clark. We have 2 perspectives on this race: 1 from organiser Sarah Bell and another from participant Laura Palmer who found it helpful to apply her teaching strategies when running up the side of a hill.

Somewhere in between these 2 distances is the 10K and you can read Laura’s report on the popular and picturesque Leatherhead Rotary Club Bluebell race over this distance in this issue.

And yet another distance is featured this month with the 3.95 miles covered by participants in the second event of the 2024 Summer Handicap series in lumpy, bumpy Ashtead Common. Alan’s report gives us the results and historic venue statistics.

But possibly the most popular (certainly the most common) distance run these days is the 5K thanks to the emergence of Parkrun. You can read a very personal account of a Parkrun experience in this month’s newsletter along with the regular training, results and diary features.

Also in this edition of the newsletter Andrew Morrison is looking to recruit an assistant for the Tadworth Tens and Ian Matthews is recruiting for the TAC teams in Nonsuch Relays.


We are delighted to welcome the following new members to TAC this month:

Clive Appleby
Henry Edwards
Spencer Herron

We look forward to meeting them at future club events.

The TAD10 (now TAD 10s) is a prestigious event run by the club for over 40 years since its inception. Not only is it a very popular event but forms the mainstay of the clubs income supporting local charities and funding our year round events.

This is recognized as a high quality event by the running fraternity and this is due to the dedication of our members and the organization by previous run directors.

I am seeking someone to work closely with me this year to help with the up coming 2025 event with a view to taking it over for 2026. 

We have a very experience team of marshals and helpers which do the real work and seeing the success on the day is very gratifying

You can either contact through WhatsApp or via

Thank you 


The ever-popular Nonsuch Relays will take place at Nonsuch Park at 7pm on 18 June 2024.  This is usually a very popular event with Tadworth runners and is great fun and suitable for all abilities.

If you want to be in a team, please fill in the expression of interest form at

Nonsuch Relays 18 June 2024 | expression of interestThe popular 4x3km Nonsuch Relays will take place on 18 June 2024 at 7pm. Please fill in this form if you are interested in being part of a

.  PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ASKING TO BE IN A TEAM – I do not check my Spam folder!

You have to be quick – the event sells out fast, and it will be strictly first come, first served.

5th May, 2024: Headley Heath

This is a gorgeous race, set on Headley Heath at the start of May. Which means two things, hills and bluebells. Stunning. It might be that my memory has faded but, having run on Headley before, the hills could have been worse. The bluebells certainly couldn’t have been better. There is a memorable turn about halfway along the course that suddenly opens up into a sea of deep violet-blue; whilst I wasn’t going to stop for a selfie, it definitely compensated for a bit of quad pain.

Anyway, it was brilliant to see green vests out in force: Ellen and Tim, Sarah and Pat D (with Pat making his TAC race debut), Sarah FW, Ingrid, Hazel, Meg, Brian, Nick B, Mick, Simon and me. Not the easiest course, a fair amount of mud and the aforementioned hills, and a real “which shoes shall I wear?” dilemma. A well-marked course, fantastic marshalling along the route, a great goody bag, and some generous prizes. Not to mention the amazing cheerleading support from Mary HJ which, I think, deserves some sort of award.

Tim’s company was very kindly co-sponsoring the event, and the prize-giver’s family had clearly been training hard for it, sweeping the board of lots of those prizes. In the women’s race, Ellen and I managed to sandwich ourselves between his 14-year-old (or was it 12?) granddaughter in 1st and her mum in 4th, bagging ourselves a Fitstuff voucher in the process. 

As we left, I complimented the organiser (or at least I think he was the organiser, he could just have been a well-dressed dog-walker) on such a lovely event and he said “Tell your friends”. (He didn’t just say that, he was very pleased with the feedback and was keen to add how competitively priced the event is too. So I’m guessing he wasn’t just a dog-walker.) 

Anyway, consider yourself told. Leatherhead Rotary Bluebell 10k. Next Year. Be there. 

#2 Ashtead Common: Tuesday, 14th May

The second event in this year’s series was held on Tuesday, 14th May. We had a strong turnout of 28 runners plus a couple of DNFs which matched the 2023 numbers. Garry marked the course well and Phil and Heather produced the handicaps and marshalled everyone across the start line in the right order (apart from our late comers).

Phil went from zero to hero with a very strong performance coming in ahead of the field. I’m sure the handicap will be adjusted for the next event! Thereafter we had a flurry of activity with 18 runners finishing in 2 minutes. Rugile made great progress improving her time on this course by nearly 6 minutes from 2023. Mary improved by nearly 5 minutes, Jake had a small PB, Brian must have been pleased with his 2 minutes improvement and Akkers was 1.5 mins quicker than 2023. Some struggled with the unaccustomed summer temperatures so the post race drinks were gratefully received. Garry is leading the points table at the moment followed by Eamon, John, Simon, Alastair and Akkers. All the data for the handicaps and the list of performances over the past 7 years is attached.

Afterwards many went to our usual watering hole, the Woodman, for a post-race analysis and refreshments. 

The next event is in 4 weeks and features the reverse of the Banstead Woods parkrun course with the Woolpack in Banstead for drinks. We hope to see you all there as we continue the summer series.

Race result & current standings:
Historic venue statistics:
Race #3: Tuesday, 11th June, Banstead Woods.

18th May, 2024: Box Hill
Runners at the start and raring to go.

Thank you so much to the 19 runners who turned out to scale Box Hill, most of whom had already done a parkrun! It was a Palmer double once again-they are certainly a force to be reckoned with-congratulations to you both. It was no great surprise when Simon appeared first at the top of the hill. Well, maybe a small surprise as our on-course expert (JD) predicted that Andy Ward who had been in excellent form of late might run Simon close, which he did, but not quite close enough as he trotted over the line just 37 seconds behind Simon and nearly a minute ahead of 3rd placed Dickon.  

Thank you to our new finish line team-Jim, Max and Marcus, who did a sterling job and also to our stalwart starter, Jim Brown, and course director Dave Fisher (who also sorts the T-Shirts). We were all helped by marshalls, Dave F, Mary Harte-Jones and Andrew Morrison who ensured no-one got lost or run over.

Ryka’s were great hosts and we all enjoyed the new look café and a very organised breakfast delivery.

As always, it was great to see members old and new and a really good split of men, women and children (no dogs this year – they kept us company at the bottom). This was a race my dad loved and we can all see why, it is a great social morning with lots of lovely people. Even though I don’t run so much anymore and see my fellow Taddies even less, I absolutely LOVE this event.

Full results:
  1. Simon Palmer 7:59
  2. Andy Ward 8:36
  3. Dickon Parnell 9:31
  4. Laura Palmer 9:47
  5. John Pickup 9:53
  6. Adam Hempenstall 10:55
  7. Sam Fountain 11:28
  8. Evie Doyle 11:51
  9. Sarah Doyle 11:52
  10. Mark Oliver 11:58
  11. Sterling Parnell 12:29
  12. Ian Jacobs 12:31
  13. Steve Hill 12:44
  14. Caz Halloway 12:46
  15. Katie Imeson 12:59
  16. Hazel Imeson 13:21
  17. Liezel Jacobs Jacobs 13:28
  18. Jane Munn 14:20
  19. Alan Imeson (who claimed he got lost!) 19:52
At the finish
Editor’s Note:

As we were making our way up to the top of the hill to perform our finishing duties young Max asked his dad why was Box Hill so called? Marcus and I offered various suggestions none of which were correct nor even remotely plausible. However, never wishing to leave a question unanswered I did a bit of research when I got home and discovered that the hill gets its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest west-facing slopes overlooking the River Mole. I also didn’t know what box wood was so this prompted a further search which informed me that boxwood is a hard, heavy fine-grained wood, usually white or light yellow, that is obtained from the common box (Buxus sempervirens) and other small trees of the genus Buxus and is often used in the manufacture of musical instruments. Every day is a school day!

NB: Everyone knows that Mount Everest is named after a double glazing company.

So most people I see on a regular basis will know that I’m currently training to be a primary school teacher. Which requires a good deal of energy, lots of theory, even more practice, an enormous amount of thinking on my feet, embracing technology that I’m definitely not comfortable with, the occasional injury and more than a few tantrums. Ring any bells? 

Uncanny. In fact it also struck me that there are quite a few teachers in the club. So maybe some of the attributes required for teaching might apply to running, or indeed vice versa.  Certainly, one of the gurus guiding recent teaching practice goes by the name of Rosenshine, with his principles of instruction, and seeing as I am all out of brain juice this half term I’ve used some of these to sum up my race in the iconic TAC event that is The Murder Mile. Teachers, this one’s for you.

(To anyone who doesn’t know about the Murder Mile, it’s a secret race (no club colours) up the side of Box Hill, brilliantly organised by Sarah Bell in memory of her late father Dick Clark, a founder member of TAC. It’s a mile. It’s murder. And people do it year after year. (I know, but the club lays on breakfast, which says a great deal about our running community. 10K? Not sure if I’m free that day. Free banana? I’m in!)

Anyway, here are some of those principles of instruction that I now live by in (and now it seems out of) the classroom…

1: Assess prior knowledge.  Not hard. Three previous events firmly etched into my LTM (that’s a pretentious teacher abbreviation for Long Term Memory) forever. I don’t want to put anyone off from doing it next year but it is a bit hurty. BUT the smugness attached to dropping into conversation on a Monday morning “oh, yes, quiet weekend, just that race up Box Hill really…” is well worth it.

2. Progress in small steps. Indeed. Turns out the further into this race I got, the smaller my steps became, until I actually thought I was going backwards. 

3. Ask questions. Mostly the same question: “Why am I doing this?” Also: “Will a tree root/rogue stone/small dog/gravity-compelled balance bike cause me to trip and fall back down in some sort of awful cheese-rolling fashion?” Despite knowing exactly how far there is left to the nearest metre on my Garmin, there’s also “When will this end?” to which the answer is of course “When you get to the top.” This year I added “Why am I not catching Dickon even though he is taking walking breaks?” (see small steps, above) and “Will John Pickup steam past me like Tuesday’s handicap, because I’m pretty sure I can hear him breathing behind me?” 

4. Provide models and worked examples. In the car I found a worked example on my Garmin from last year. It didn’t help, the steep straight line just made me feel a bit queasy. I’ll just keep going up, then.   

6. Check understanding: (also see ask questions, above) “Do I know what I am doing?” “Yes.” “Do I know why?” “No.”

7. Obtain a high success rate. Made it. Didn’t cry. Didn’t fall over. Wasn’t sick (just). Tiny bit quicker than last year. No-one stopped me halfway to ask me for a snack. So yes. 100% success. 

8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks. In the classroom this can be anything from talking someone through a task, to giving them a word bank for creative writing. When it comes to running up Box Hill, I had no-one to talk me through it as Simon had selfishly gone up front to win the race. Rude. And I had ALL the words on the tip of my tongue but thankfully was too out of breath to use. So, what would help? A handrail maybe? Andrew Morrison’s bike? Strong coffee at the bottom before the start? Or less wine the night before. Answers on a postcard.

9. Independent practice. (Pretty much where most of my classroom lessons go awry). Students need extensive, successful, independent practice in order for skills and knowledge to become automatic”. Some independent practice running up hills would be a good idea for next year. And some strength work. I say this every year. 

10. Weekly and monthly review. Easy. I’m still thinking about it. Specifically, the bit about 400m from the top. Probably will be in a month’s time. And the one after that. 

Big thanks go to Sarah and Marcus Bell for organising this fabulous event (all failings are my own) and to all those who marshal, keep time and co-ordinate the (very important) distribution of breakfasts. It truly is a unique offering, and I don’t think it’s the view or the breakfast that keeps Taccies coming back year after year. Just don’t wear a club vest.

If you substitute “old man” for “old lady” you will probably guess where I’m going with this. It’s also a personal tale of a possible comeback with additives. Read on……..

Standing on the start line on a Saturday morning in late April at Banstead Woods was a hugely significant moment for me as it was the first time I had donned my running shoes for over 2 years: since the 25th March, 2022 to be precise. That date is etched indelibly in my brain as the day I suffered an injury to my ankle during a training run, an injury which apart from causing me constant pain also caused me to doubt if would be able to walk properly again. It was partly my own fault (my wife says that it was entirely my own fault) as I failed to realise the seriousness of the injury and carried on regardless with the result that the condition worsened to the point that my movement was seriously restricted for about 16 months. A stark reminder to anyone who thinks they know better than the medical experts. By the time I did seek medical help the damage to my ankle was so severe that it failed to respond to the various treatments which included PRP injections*. In the end, and 16 months after sustaining the injury I bit the bullet and elected to have surgery in a private clinic in August last year.

I had spent the previous Sunday chasing around the London Marathon route cheering on my fellow Taddies as well as my niece who had come down from Glasgow to run the race. Although I had been on my feet for many hours that day this involved mainly short walks, standing around and multiple train journeys. Nevertheless, this experience made me I feel that I could maybe tackle a walk around a parkrun route even though my longest single walk without stopping up to this point had been no more than 1 mile.

As my fellow parkrunners started to assemble before the race I bumped into Steve Hill who has had his own recent medical challenges that he has endured without complaint which is something I cannot claim to have done. Steve also informed me that he is heading up to Scotland to climb Ben Nevis soon which has elevated him, in my mind at least, from hero to superhero.

I stood on the Banstead Woods start line amongst the excited chatter – swapped stories of past triumphs and failures, recent injury comparisons and the familiar aromatic cocktail of embrocation, body odour and nervous gaseous emissions. “Ah, it’s good to be back!” I thought as I sniffed the air. Nevertheless, I was filled with trepidation as I thought back to the period not that long ago when the only way that I could manoeuvre my way up the stairs at home was on my bottom and I could only shuffle my way around the house often with the aid of a crutches. Standing at the start of a race, even though I was only walking, was something that I couldn’t even contemplate during those darker days.

I was awoken from this reverie by the starting horn and was then immediately nearly tripped up twice by the same dog. I received a profound apology from her owner but there was no contrition from the dog as she circled round for a third go. Bitch!

My start was reasonably steady and I soon established my position right at the back of the field. To be honest, the rear end of a race is a place that my ageing body had become accustomed to, certainly in the most recent Surrey Cross Country League races I was able to do where I would always trot in at the back of the TAC pack. The only event where a harboured the slightest hope of glory was in our excellent Summer Handicap series when, if afforded a generous handicap, I would enjoy a period of hopefulness before it being cruelly snatched away when I was almost in sight of the finish as the rest of the field swept past me with nary a backward glance. I knew then that none of the prizes lined up in Alan’s car boot had my name on it and that the only reward for my efforts would be a packet of crisps, probably salt & vinegar, as that would be all that was left when the earlier finishers had claimed their favourite flavour.

I was surprised to find that there were quite a number of walkers in the parkrun but none quite as slow as me. As I got into my stride I looked up and spotted a familiar figure about 20 yards ahead. I won’t name the person because what I am about to say might be construed as disparaging but that is not my intention. She is a legendary local runner, not a Taddie, who regularly runs the Tadworth Ten. She is so slow that she starts the Tad Ten a full hour before anyone else but still manages to finish in last place. It is rumoured that some race organisers refuse her entry because the marshals don’t want to be still out there after dark. However, she is certainly a trier and deserves full credit for her running endeavours. I decided to make her my target but I soon found that I was unable to make any impact and she gradually disappeared further into the distance.

When I was running on a regular basis I would always take to the streets or trails with a song circling around inside my head. I have no need for earphones or a running playlist. The song would either be the last one I’d heard on the radio before leaving home or one that I’d pluck from the huge reservoir of songs in my head and I would just adjust these to my running pace. I would sing the song and hum the instrumental bits. Sometimes I would hum the song if I’d forgotten the words. Not out loud though. That would be weird! Although, sometimes I would forget myself and if the circumstances were befitting I might bawl out “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” or “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”. If anyone objected to my singing I might respond with “Shaddup Your Face”. I am not a fan of listening to music whilst running because on the few occasions I have done so the tempo of the song has encouraged me to run faster than I wanted to and, less frequently, too slowly. I learned my lesson a few years ago whilst running on my treadmill in my garage at home a song called Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan, a fellow Glaswegian and nicknamed ‘The King Of Skiffle’ came over the speakers. If you are not familiar with this song then I’m sure you can have a listen on You Tube. Anyway, the song tells a story about a steam train chugging into a weigh station somewhere in the USA before pulling out and gathering speed as it proceeds on its way. The song matches the speed of the train so starts very slowly but gradually builds up velocity as it continues on its journey before reaching express speed. I inadvertently tried to match this on my treadmill but as the train reached its maximum rate I tripped myself up and slipped backwards feet first onto a crate of empty beer bottles that I was saving to bottle my home brew which I called Old Dungheap, but that’s a different story. Maybe I should have been more selective in my music choices. However, here in Banstead Woods I had no need to dive into my catalogue of head tunes as a song naturally presented itself as I rounded the first bend, mouth agape, when fly decided to hitch a lift on my tongue before sliding down my throat. I quickly closed its source of entry (whilst simultaneously closing its means of escape) for fear of the fly being closely followed by a spider which might wriggle and wiggle and tiggle inside me, a bird, a cat, a dog and a horse (of course). #

After exactly 0.71 miles of my walk I could hear the sound of approaching footsteps as a runner came pounding past. My first thought was that this was a guy who had turned up late and was now trying to catch up. However, as more runners came streaming past at regular intervals I realised that these were the leaders who were closing in on the finish before I had even reached the halfway point of my first lap. This was a sobering reality of just how unfit I had become after 2 years of inactivity. Unperturbed, I carried on and at the end of the lap spotted a few TAC colleagues who had finished their race and were now standing in a cluster no doubt discussing tales of derrring do. I saw them again as they passed me for a second time during their warm-down as I was part way through my second lap but by the time I finished I only had the company of the volunteers who had patiently waited for me and were now dismantling the finishing funnel. God bless the volunteers!

Job done! My best time at the Banstead Woods parkrun is 25:07 which I achieved in 2016. This time I recorded 55:51 but the time didn’t matter. I was just delighted to have completed it. And, as it turned out, I wasn’t last as a few stragglers came shuffling along as I made my way back to the car park. I can only assume that they must have got lost or stopped for a picnic part way round.

I intend to go back again for a repeat performance one day as I have some unfinished business:

Unnamed Runner  1    Jim Duffy   0

* PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections is a process whereby plasma is extracted from the patient’s own blood before being injected into the injured area. If successful it can accelerate the healing process. I did a bit of research and found that the same process is commonly used to arrest hair loss. Not only did this treatment fail to cure my ankle problem but my bald patch has also continued to spread so I didn’t even have the consolation of a full head of hair. I might have settled for that!

# Since becoming a grandfather last year I have taken far more interest in nursery rhymes and discovered that the line “perhaps she’ll die” in this particular song has been removed for fear of scaring young children into believing that swallowing a fly could have fatal consequences. The line about swallowing a horse remains as this is presumably considered to be far less dangerous than swallowing a fly!

5th May, 2024

93 Akshay Kumar 1.15:51

12 Laura Palmer 48:45

13 Simon Palmer 48:46

14 Patrick Doyle 48:54

15 Ellen Collins 49:34

16 Tim Collins 49:38

20 Brian Hunton 51:27

21 Michael Kilkenny 51:52

30 Sarah Doyle 52:52

44 Nick Billing 55:14

53 Meg Francis 57:09

64 Ingrid Mrazova 59:17

70 Sarah Farnell-Ward 59:46

73 Hazel Imeson 1.00:38

12th May, 2024

43 Andy Ward 1.22:42

152 Garry Edwards 1.35:31

160 Will Henderson 1.36:15

193 Akshay Kumar 1.40:07

328 Mark Lowther 1.58:47

328 Gemma Vincent 1.58:47

18th May, 2024

See main article for placings & times

34 Simon Booth 8.48:00

97 Warren Diogo 9.54:47

115 Paul Schnell 10.15:22

129 Will Henderson 10.27:33

195 Garry Edwards 11.14:46

195 Phil Stevens 11.14:46

227 Mark Lowther 11.35:35

19th May, 2024

702 Chris Bond 1.28:51

June, 2024

Tuesday, 11th: TAC Summer Handicap #3. Banstead Woods. 7.15pm.

Tuesday, 18th: Nonsuch Relays. Nonsuch Park, Cheam SM3 8AB. 7.00pm.               

Sunday, 23rd: Richmond 10K (Surrey Road League. TW10 7QA. 9.00am.

July, 2024

Tuesday, 2nd: TAC Summer Handicap #4. Nork Park. 7.15pm.

Saturday, 13th: Elmore 7 (Club championship & Surrey Road League). Chipstead CR5 3SE. 1.30pm.

Sunday, 21st: Elmbridge 10K (Surrey Road League). Waterside Drive, Walton-on-Thames, KT12 2JP. 9.00am.

Tuesday, 23rd: TAC Summer Handicap #5. Epsom Downs Figure Of Eight. 7.15pm.

Friday, 26th: Wedding Day 7K (Surrey Road League). Hampton Hill Cricket Club, TW12 1PA. 7.30pm.

Our next newsletter editor is Jim Duffy. 

All contributions to the newsletter should be emailed to Jim Duffy

The June, 2024 issue is expected to be out at the beginning of July.

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

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