Monthly Archives: June 2017

How not to run a 100 mile relay race! by Teo van Well

What an honour it was to be selected by my club for the South Downs Way (SDW) 100 mile relay team. I was given the nod during cross-country season when I was eating hills for fun and skidding around in the mud. Training was going well, my body was strong and results were consistently positive. Why wouldn’t I make the team? Well…………

The 3rd June had been burning a hole in my diary for some time. I could not wait for this day to arrive and to finally experience, alongside my friends and club-mates, an epic endurance race day. But it was never going to be as simple as that was it? Struck down with a virus in February that lasted nigh on a month set me back a long way. My physically demanding job coupled with a return to training sooner than was wise were likely catalysts in multiple re-occurrences and a sustained period out. When I did finally get back into my trainers I was dismayed to find just how much endurance, and particularly speed, I had lost. I felt like I had to learn to run again. But I was on the team and even though it was the beginning of May now, I still wanted to get on that bus with five other team-mates. It had crossed my mind many times that I should forfeit my place to someone in better form than me but as it played out our original team (along with the A team) had to be reshuffled due to other injuries. This meant that, even after a mass recruitment drive, I was still likely able to make the cut despite being seriously off-form and lacking in mileage.

I decided to skip some club training sessions and just get out and practice my legs at every opportunity now that it seemed almost certain I had to run. I allowed myself to get excited and to feel like it was ok to be on the team despite my current form as the most important thing was getting a strong team out there to compete.

And so to the day itself: an early start, lots of excitement and adrenaline amongst us and the first leg of the day – getting from Withdean to Eastbourne for the start of the race. I was feeling good, I had practiced my legs at 75% effort which had me completing leg 3 in 30 minutes, leg 8 in 45.5 minutes and leg 15 in 29 minutes. Even though I was not flat out on my practice runs to get these times I figured they would be decent targets on the day as I would have to budget my energy across the whole day and not just one leg.

What I didn’t take into consideration was what I had done the night before! As a former sports player living in dusty, humid Myanmar where daily temperatures came in at 35 degrees Celsius, I had gotten into the habit of drinking oral rehydration salts regularly to replenish the fluids and electrolytes I lost through sweating. But I had none of this magic powder at hand so I proceeded to load my bottles of water with salt and sugar, as a worthy substitute. What a mistake! Despite the sea water taste I received I still just rolled with it thinking it would help me through this very hot, humid race day. But all it did was to give me an unquenchable thirst that meant I consumed four litres of water before my second leg! I was starting to feel very faint and almost delirious as my stomach sloshed around in the mini-bus as we went from stage to stage at good speed. Given the fact that I have an MSc in Health also, so a decent foundation of knowledge around this area, I cannot believe I did not finely research the correct quantities of salt and sugar to add to my water. I’m not even sure there is hard evidence of it helping but I got it into my head that it was worth a try, especially given my prior experience in the heat when playing football.

My first leg was the only one I ran without being ill and ran conservatively to complete it in 30.07. I had hoped for a bit quicker but it was bloody windy and I had held a lot back as planned. Then the drinking began as I tried to replenish myself and get prepared for a gruelling leg 8 in the midday sun. I felt pretty nauseous within an hour of finishing my first leg but I attempted to shield my teammates from this so that they did not unnecessarily worry. After all, they had their own races to worry about.  I continued to drink, tried to focus on the task ahead but was beginning to worry about how I was feeling. Leg 8 was my favourite though as it is practically all uphill and requires a lot of strength instead of speed. I told myself that once I was out there on the run I’d be fine. And so I set off hoping I would make my mark on this race and further leave our nearest rivals behind. As I started the initial climb I knew something wasn’t right as I just had no engine. I set my cadence and although painful, held it for the entire leg assuming it was around 45 minute pace for completion. I chose not to wear a Garmin though as I wanted to run on feel. Other than being held up by an ambulance on the way – costing about 20 seconds or so – the leg went smoothly despite feeling very weak and dizzy. My cap wouldn’t remain on due to the wind and so I ran with it in hand, but I came down the hill to the finish with purpose. When I looked at my watch after handing Del the baton I couldn’t believe it: 48.5 minutes. I could have walked faster! I was so disappointed and could see from the expression of my team that they were too. They clearly thought the ambulance was for me seeing that I was due back 3 – 4 minutes sooner.

As I got into the van to continue to the next leg I began to feel delirious and everything was spinning. Timmy Gedin was catching a lift with us from the A team and I tried to make conversation with him to keep my focus. But I couldn’t think straight or get my words out. I still have no idea what I was saying (sorry Timmy). I just wanted to vomit – large quantities of salty water. I must add that I was still drinking like crazy (although the salt water was long finished by now) and took on another three litres before my final leg. I had no idea how I was going to get through it and by now my team-mates were well aware I was ill. I could no longer pretend as I was acting strange and irrationally. But they tried to support me whilst still focusing on their own individual challenges. I personally believed I wouldn’t be able to run another leg but was not about to share this. I just prepared as I would normally and took to the start line.

The first km was painful and I wanted to collapse but Butser Hill was upon me and if I was going to finish I had to get up it. I then did something I’ve never done before: I walked some of the hill as recommended by Steve McNealy so as to save some energy. It deeply hurt my pride and I hope never to repeat this but realistically, given my condition, it was sound advice. Once off the hill, although I could no longer feel or control my legs, I gave it my all to get to the end of leg 15 and to pass on to Jim Risdale. My time of 32.15 felt like a stab in the chest but upon reflection it was respectable given the way I was feeling. I had euphoric feelings that I had completed my task despite being so sick but those feelings were quickly overshadowed by huge disappointment at my performances. The first thing I thought of was that I couldn’t wait to do it all again, and this time so much better. Even out of form I am a much better runner than that. I ruined my own day with an awful decision to put salt and sugar in my water in vague quantities, and I nearly ruined my team’s day by not completing my legs.

We came home with the prize and I was a part of that effort but I sit here now wondering how much more fun I could have had without sickness and with some respect for my leg times. I am very grateful that my team-mates fulfilled their own abilities which allowed us still to win despite my off-day. It is an experience I will always remember but one I will never repeat. Now what I need to do is get myself in a position to be selected for the 2018 team and to put my SDW relay experience to good use. It is an epic day and race that is very suited to my abilities. But why o’ why did I have to make myself sick?! Three races a day in hot, windy conditions can do that to you already without a helping hand.

Thank you to Steve McNealy, Peter Knee, Kevin Meegan, Jim Watson, Del Wallace and our captain, Jim Risdale for pulling me through. Sorry I put you all through that.

Worthing 10k – Sunday 4th June 2017

It was another sunny day down at the Worthing Prom for todays 10k. There was a great showing from the Areneez with 29 showing up for this one. Obviously we were lacking a few of our athletes due to their spectacular showing at the SDW relays the day before. However the show did go on and the blue vests were a plenty as you made your way around the new course layout which seemed a lot better. Weather conditions were a little on the breezy side going out but of course we had the benefit on the return leg but it was still fairly warm out there.

First Arena man home was Jon Bowditch who continues his great form who came home in 17th place in a time of 37.12. First Arena lady home and 1st lady (27th overall) was Emily Proto in a time of 38.01.

Great effort as always from our athletes and such a pleasure seeing so many blue vests out there on the course.


100 Mile South Down Relays – Arena 80 come away triumphant.

The news has come in that for the first time in 10 years our Arena ladies team have taken 1st place with 14 minutes to spare.

The ladies had a head to head start with last year’s winners Lewes Ladies but Arena 80 took the lead from the first leg and maintained it throughout. Everybody ran their hearts out, kept their running cool and didn’t do anything daft which resulted in a fine win for the ladies.  Congratulations to Emily Louise Hutchinson, Katherine O’Hara, Dani Tarleton, Caroline Hoyte, Rachael Woolston and Tara Shanahan!! Also a big shout going to Fiona Jamie for brilliant driving (both on the day and getting the ladies out to practice each legs) and to Chris Naylor for some excellent time keeping. An outstanding achievement and to see all the hard work pay off for them.

The Arena men’s B team also came away with Gold with 24 minutes to spare and yet again the hard work paid off for these guys. Well done to Del Wallace, Jim Watson, Jim Risdale, Teo van Well, Steve McNealy & Kevin Meegan for some solid running and also to Peter Knee for driving the guys around.

The men’s A team just missed out on a placing but should still very proud in 4th place amongst some very stiff competition. Their time was 10hr 58mins and it has to be said for all of our athletes that the conditions were not favourable really but they all stuck to their runs and gave it their all. Great performances from Al Silvester, Michael Barker, Paul Arscott, Richard Clayton & Timmy Gedin and Dan Vaughan. A big thank you to Anne Miners & Michael Miller for superb navigating, driving, cake, teas, and general entertainment!

The team camaraderie amongst everyone out there is second to none and it’s these team events that build bonds and friendships amongst our athletes.

On behalf of everyone at Arena 80 we congratulate each and everyone of you involved for making it a very proud day for Arena 80 ac.

South Downs Way 100 mile relay – Saturday 3rd June 2017

Saturday 3rd June is the SDW 100 mile relay race.

Class of 2017 – Ladies

Caroline Hoyts taking leg 4 today.

Good luck to both the men’s and women’s teams who are taking this on today. The guys have been training hard for this one with many legs already under their belt. Conditions are a little bit breezy but not as muggy as previous days which may help our athletes.


Del starting for the men.

The route will follow the South Downs Way from Beachy Head to Chilcomb, near Winchester. The race will normally follow the southern route from Beachy Head via Exceat.

It comprises 18 legs of varying lengths; the total race length is approximately 97 miles with each of our six runners in the team running three non-consecutive legs.

Needless to say we wish all of our runners all the best for today.

Get to know…Fiona Jamie

For this weeks chosen club member we are joined by the lady who I’ve been badgering for ages to get to do this. Finally she has succumbed if nothing else than to stop me camping outside her house until she said yes. This is the lady with a big smile, a big heart and would be the first person to add to your party list. She has been a big part of Arena over many years and still plays her part now as she was very much involved with the Ladies winning this years SDW relay. She tales no prisoners in her job and I say that from experience. A keen cyclist and willing to give most things a go, we are very lucky to have her along at Arena. Ladies and gentlemen please be upstanding for her Ladyship Fiona Jamie.

Name: Fiona Jamie

1. When and why did you join Arena:
I can’t remember exactly when I joined – somewhere around 1996/97. I had just sold my shop and I was trying to get fit and I had dabbled with running since my teens.

2. How long have you been running:
I have been jogging/running on and off for about 40 years!!

3. Where did you grow up:
I grew up in a Kentish village near Canterbury – my Dad was the local GP.

4. Define a moment in your life:
I was so pleased with myself when I bought my first brand new car. I had missed out on getting a company car when I was working for Hotpoint in Peterborough and I was pretty miffed that other colleagues had got one, so I just went to the local dealer and bought “Cybil” who was a bright red Peugeot 205!

5. What types of holidays do you prefer:
I like skiing holidays in the winter and Neilson holidays in the summer – in other words I don’t like to sit still or sightsee or shop…

6. How long does it take you to get ready to go out:
About 5 minutes!

7. What would your epitaph say:
A bit like my old school reports – “Had a go at life, but could have done better!”

8. Have you ever done anything that scared you:
Tipped the boat over while white water rafting in the Zambezi just below the Victoria Falls – very scary…..

9. Who would you most like to sit and have a drink with:
I think it would be great to sit down with the Queen and get her a bit sozzled so that she could tell me what has really gone behind the Palace doors over the years.

10. What would be the hardest thing for you to give up:
On equal footing – New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Skippy Crunchy Peanut Butter and Toblerone.

11. What were you like a school:
Naughty, lazy and chubby! I hated every minute of it.

12. What is your one weakness:
I’m sure I have many weaknesses, but I really can’t do mental arithmetic…..

13. Who was you first celebrity crush pop star and film star:
David Essex

14. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 72, and find line 9, what does it say:
By following a few simple guidelines while walking the coast to coast path…

15. Tell us something we don’t know about you:
Despite hating school, I have a degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master’s degree in Business Administration

16. Who is your sporting hero:
Sir Steve Redgrave

17. What one thing do you like to do the most:
Mountain-biking anywhere away from the crowds – at the moment through the bluebells at Stanmer.

18. Apart from running what else do you like to do in your free time:
I don’t have much in the way of free time, but mountain biking or out walking with the dogs.

19. What do you think about the most:
I am always thinking about what I have to do next!

20. What is the most amazing place you have visited:
The Okovango Delta in Botswana.

Our biggest thanks to Fionafor her Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Fionaa little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member. 

Get to know…Jon Bowditch

For this weeks chosen club member we are joined by the man who is probably one of the most consistent runners in the club. This man quietly goes about with his training but definitely produces the goods when he is out there running competitively. He is very much an old school gent and a real pleasure to chat with. I have a feeling you are going to learn a lot about Jon Bowditch when you read his Q&A’s so let’s meet and find out what makes Mr Bowditch tick.

1. When and why did you join Arena: 
2015 to try and bring a little respectability back to my times.

2. How long have you been running: 
Up until I was 16 and then a long break until I started again tentatively in 2010.

3. Where did you grow up: 
In the nicer part of Stoke-on-Trent.

4. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go: 
I’ve been to quite a few place but still not yet got round to anywhere in South America so probably Brazil or Argentina.

5. What else do you do with your time: 
During the winter months it will be following the mid table adventures of Stoke City. Away from that it’s cinema, books, comedy gigs, music and an unhealthy obsession with news and politics.

6. What will be a highlight of 2017:
To wake up happy on the 9th June, but that may be too optimistic so I’ll settle for breaking all my PB’s as I only have the 10k and HM left to do this year.

7. What is your all-time favourite film:  
The one which has had the most repeat viewings in recent years has been The Lives of Others. Also gave me the idea of visiting the Stasi museum in Berlin which obviously didn’t disappoint.

8. Who is your sporting hero: 
Mark Stein (Football) and Thomas Voeckler (Cycling).

9. What was the last book you read: 
John Smith – A Life by Andy McSmith.

10. Tell us about something you would happily do again: 
Cycle up Mont Ventoux although I have my sights set upon the Dolomites for my next cycling adventure.

11. If you could have 3 people (dead or alive) for dinner who would you choose: 
Nicky Wire, Annie Clarke and Belinda Blumenthal.

12. What is your favourite album ever: 
The Holy Bible – Manic Street Preachers.

13. Have you ever had or do you have a nickname:  

14. Have you got something that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away: 
No. Free yourself from the tyranny of objects.

15. What is the greatest moment in history during your lifetime 
1st May, 1997 and the Portillo moment or 17th April, 2011 FA Cup Semi Final Bolton 0 – Stoke City 5. Both were well worth the long wait.

16. What makes you bored 
Theresa May.

17. What’s your favourite race 
There used to be a race in Stoke called the Milton 10k which happened to be about a minutes’ walk from my house which was handy.

18. If you didn’t run what other sport would you like to have done? 
I plan to do dedicate myself to cycling more once my body can’t take running anymore which may not be too far off now. Always thought I’d be good at golf but it turns out I’m terrible.

19. What has been you all-time favourite TV programme? 
Would have to Mad Men. Perfect combination of style and substance.

20. What is the last film you saw at the cinema?
Lady Macbeth which I think will be a contender for film of the year. Well worth a watch.

Our biggest thanks to Jon for his Q&A’s this week and we hope that you feel that you have now got to know Jon a little better. Check back next Wednesday for another set of Q&A’s with our chosen club member.