Apr 20 2017

2017 Virgin London Marathon

The years go by… and it becomes increasingly hard to persuade club members that the Barn Elms athletics track is anything other than a miserable place to be on a Thursday evening between early January and mid-April. If actually locating it – nestling menacingly in a sombre crevasse between the river and the mysterious fish ponds – was not hard enough, actually running on it, bespattered as it is by bafflingly large quantities of goose shit… is even more of a challenge.

For this reason alone, those club members who competed in the 2017 Virgin “Money” London marathon are to be congratulated. Once again, they have been bound all season by a particularly strong work ethic, but once again the race delivered proof that runners do not always live in a meritocracy: although the times posted by the women of Barnes were thrillingly adequate, there were no “personal bests” among the men (lacklustre, humdrum, lifeless, torpid and prosaic were all words which could be heard on the finish line in connection with male club members’ performances this year).

Track sessions this season have been even more sexually charged than usual: serial under-achiever Liam Whelan has enjoyed the heavy breathing, imprecations and execrations of James McPoland – the enfant terrible of (domestic) plumbing – competing in is first UK city marathon in over ten years… and new chairman Chris Peskett. Ever the since the opportunity arose for James and local estate agent Chris to take part in this unique race which commences in highly-desirable Greenwich (where terraced properties sell for an average price of £472,773) and raise money for Action for A-T, they have been more than moderately relentless in pursuit of their goals. In addition to losing some weight and ‘fluffing’ the annual turnovers of local physiotherapists, they have managed to raise nearly £2500.

Also to be congratulated is this year’s recipient of the sole place awarded to the club by England Athletics. Laura Thompkins – by her own admission – hates running and so (wisely) opted to undertake the bulk of her training on a rowing machine. This was Laura’s second ever marathon (her first being in Makeni last May). Not only did she finish the race comfortably in under four hours and twenty-seven minutes… she also managed to raise more than £500 for MIND.

Sophie Dawes was our only out-and-out neophyte this year. In addition to satisfactorily breaking that legendary four hour barrier, she also raised nearly £1500 for Tickets for Troops.

Non-competing club members who can bear to look at the results can do so by clicking, tapping, swiping or wiping here.

Also competing were VLM regulars Vassos Alexander, Simon Danciger, Pascal Evans, Helen Grote and Ian Roots. But this year’s race was once again characterised just as much by its notable absentees as it was by its competitors. Absent this year were Paul Cheetham (injury), Jenni Cunniffe (injury), Celeste Biever (an Incident), David Cornock (retired from city marathons), Dylan Grimes (an administrative oversight), Mark Carney (busy putting out fires) and the former member for Morley and Outwood (a dance recital).

The next local marathon at which Barnes Runners will enjoy mediocre representation is the Richmond Park Marathon on Sunday 21 May. It is not too late to enter

Jul 15 2017

Exact Location of Summer Picnic

Hi Runners.

This is a final note about the picnic: It will be on Barnes Green, under the Willow trees by Beverley Brook.

So glad so many have signed up.

See you there!

Jul 10 2017

Surrey Road Race League Matches 5 – Elmore 7 Miler

This challenging 7 mile road race starts at Chipstead and is held in July in conjunction with the Chipstead Flower Show famous for maintaining a traditional  environment of family entertainment.
The event has grown in popularity attracting up to 400 runners with all abilities taking part. The course is run on rolling quiet roads in the Chipstead area. All finishers receive a medal and prizes are presented from the show ring. There are prizes for first, second and third men and womgooen and for the first finishers in each Vets category.

Barnes Runners welcome and encourage all members to register (click here) for an enjoyable saturday afternoon of running, combined with a cracking flower show. Fun for all the family.

Current Road Race league standings can be found here/  – as can be seen, we could do with a strong representation in the last 3 matches. Please sign up.  (lifts and arrangements to follow by email)

Jul 10 2017

Surrey Road Race Match 4 – Richmond 10K results

It was a head to head battle in sweltering conditions in Match 4 of the Surrey Road Race League: The Richmond 10K, hosted by Ranelagh Harriers.   A small but focused contingent from Barnes Runners’ Mens team held their own in a strong field, with notable performances from Paul Cheetham, continuing his return from injury with a cracking 34:56 (14th overall, 4th in v40 men), accompanied by James McPoland who smashed his PB with a 39:20.   The fast improving Andy Edwards filled the 3rd scoring spot with David Cornock (also coming back from injury) and ever-present Thomas Mutton also braving the near 30C conditions.  Claire Proudfoot put in a good scoring performance for Barnes Ladies team.    With 3 matches to go, a few extra participants would  be welcome.

All details and links through to the Race registrations (they are all good open competitive road races ) are available on the Surrey League Website here.

Next up: The Elmore 7 miler on July 15th, and Elmbridge 10K on the 23rd July

Jul 09 2017

Summer Picnic 16 July: reminder to sign up

Hi Runners.
A reminder to sign up for the picnic — and a thank you to all those who already have.
It’s on 16 July, 2pm, Barnes Green, and Barnes Runners is providing some yummy drinks. What’s not to love?
All you have to do is bring something to eat. If you know in advance what this might be, mark it here. If you prefer to decide on the day, just put your name down on the form so we know how many people to expect and leave the other stuff blank. Guests, family members, spouses, significant others, etc all welcome.
See you there …

Jul 01 2017

Summer Picnic July 16 — full details, please sign up!

Further to our last note, this year the Summer BBQ will be a totally summery Summer Picnic on Barnes Green.
There is no entry cost. Instead, each person should bring something to eat.  You can either make or buy this item. We will need to know in advance what category of thing you are bringing to ensure an even spread.
So  fill in this form if you would like to come, and tick the category of item(s) you will bring — and do this before midnight on Sunday 9 July.
Barnes Runners will provide some drinks, though if you want to bring some more of those too, you are very welcome!
Children, /husbands, boyfriends, wives, lovers, friends etc welcome but please add them to the form and specify their contribution.
There will hopefully be some races involving eggs, spoons, sacks, bean bags etc.
Anyone who has picnic blankets, please bring those too.
Date: Sunday 16 July
Time: 2pm
Place: Barnes Green
Bring: An food/drink item (and make sure you have filled out the form so we know which item you are bringing).
Sign up: here
Thank you, and any questions, let Celeste or Helen G (your entertainment reps) know.

Jun 22 2017

Summer BBQ: Sunday July 16, Save The Date

Hi runners.
Well it’s certainly barbecue season. So your entertainment reps are happy to announce that the Barnes Runners 2017 Summer BBQ will be on Sunday 16 July at 2pm.
All other details — possible entertainment, venue, cost — to follow very soon.
But in the meantime, please save the date (and time).
We are looking at a couple of options for a venue. In past years, we have held it at a kind member’s house. It would have to be someone with a garden who doesn’t mind hosting around 30 of us on this date. Barnes Runners of course provides the food and fuel, and a grill if necessary. Please let one of us know ASAP if you would be willing to host. This would be wonderful!
Celeste & Helen G

Jun 20 2017


I will be leading short monthly yin yoga workshops for those of you who are keen to learn more about the practice or perhaps are new and want to be able to practice at home.

Your first class is free if you haven’t been to one of my classes before so come and see if its for you. Yin yoga is great for runners, cyclists ,athletes.
It is a static practice, a great way of stilling the mind.

First one is July 2nd at 6pm-7pm, message me to book your space.



Jun 11 2017

Sierra Leone Marathon – May 2017

Even at 4 AM at the start of the rainy season, the air that hangs in the sky above Makeni feels as though it has come from a blast furnace and then been wrapped up in damp sheep’s wool. The impassioned, fretful speech delivered by the twelve-year-old chief medical operative in the sweaty dark fifteen minutes before the race start has more than a little in common with Shakespeare’s Henry V on the night before the Battle of Agincourt. Responsible and prudent veteran runner Dave Kelly counts the number of times the youth screams “If you […], then you WILL DIE”, searching for traces of irony or humour in his stare. He finds none. Serial under-achiever Liam Whelan wonders why his seventy-first marathon could not have been in Milton Keynes. Self-styled grumpy old person Denise Bates thinks wistfully of her bed (and a number of other modern amenities that her house features), a whole continent away in sensible Hammersmith and wonders why the fuck she ever listens to anyone other than herself.

The sixth Sierra Leone marathon is about to begin.

Denise Bates, Liam Whelan, David Kelly, Bart van der Vliet and his daughter Rosie are “competing” in this year’s edition and are among the 170 or so international athletes who have gathered in the African night at the race start. Their opponent is not an angry army of Kalashnikov-toting rebels, but instead the heat of a country once dubbed “the white man’s grave” during the colonial period – because its muggy, malarial climate often proved lethal to Europeans.

Sphincters tighten audibly in the night.

In the latter years of the civil war, Makeni was the capital of the Revolutionary United Front rebels, and now, as memories of the recent Ebola epidemic which left 19,000 orphaned children behind it finally begin to recede, it is a booming hub for nearby iron ore and biofuel projects.

Certain meteorologists claim that Sierra Leone has never recorded a temperature of less than 19°C, and Makeni, inland and far from cooling Atlantic breezes, is one of the hottest towns in the country.

The Barnes Runners contingent is apprehensive before the start.

“I think it’s going to more than moderately challenging”, says one runner. “But treating an event such as this as a race is a fool’s errand. Far more sensible would be to treat it as an anthropological endeavour, stopping to talk with the beneficiaries of the money raised by the event in the villages through which the route passes”. David nods in sage agreement, Liam says nothing. Denise wonders if she’s left the iron on.

The overall winner of the full marathon is 23-year-old Sierra Leonean Mustapha Kamara, who crosses the finish line two hours and 46 minutes after the race start. He admits he had never run a marathon before.

Others take longer. Much longer. And in a cruel twist, the slower runners also have to cope with hotter conditions as the heat of the day approaches its zenith. Eight hours after the race start, one contingent of runners is still limping and lurching through rainforest, savouring whatever shade they can find. By 2 PM, the temperature is hovering around 34.6°C.

In the village of Mangayloko, Exile Medics have erected an inflatable pool in which hot and bothered runners can be immersed in order to bring their body temperature down.

“When the core body temperature gets very high, that’s when you get irreversible organ damage,” one of them says, rubbing her hands gleefully.

Apart from minor ailments (such as sunburn, dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.), no one dies. The future of the Sierra Leone marathon is secure – at least for at least another year.

The Sierra Leone marathon is so much more than ‘just’ a marathon. It is a seven-day event during which athletes (and I use the term quite wrongly) get to visit some of Street Child’s many projects, learning about the country and the challenges facing it, why there are so many obstacles to education, welfare and hygiene… and what is being done to overcome those obstacles. By the time runners squeeze their inflamed, mosquito-bitten feet into their running shoes on ‘race’ day, having desperately tried to get some porridge down them at 03h30, they understand exactly why they are running and have wholeheartedly embraced the legitimacy of what Street Child founder Tom Dannatt is striving to do.

This year, Barnes Runners visited Street Child projects in Kabala and Masongbala in the days before the race. This involved visits to two schools funded by Street Child’s benefactors, as well as meetings with young adults who have been awarded loans/grants under SC’s small business incubation scheme. They also attended workshops on a wide range of  issues – ranging from access to education for girls… to Street Child’s role in the UN-funded “Every Child in School” scheme.

It would dishonest and disingenuous to say that Barnes Runners’ performance in the marathon was anything other than embarrassingly, shamefully, shockingly bad. But that really, really isn’t the point. What is the point is that between them, Bart, David, Denise, Liam and Rosie managed to raise just under £12,000 – enough to build six schools and provide literally hundreds of children with access to education. This fundraising success can – in no small measure – be attributed to the bounty and munificence of the wider club – for which Street Child (and the author of this post) would like to express its most sincere gratitude.

Thank you.

Click for interview


Jun 05 2017

Surrey Road Race League Match 3 Results – Dorking Ten Miler

A small but focused contingent of Barnes Runners heading to the once picturesque town of Dorking for the 3rd match in the Road Race league.   On a glorious sunny morning, in the shadow of Box Hill, the Mens representatives looked to get the season back on track after a quiet opening 2 x fixtures.   With the best 5 of 7 scores counting over the season, it was now or never.

Boosted by the return to racing of club record holder Paul Cheetham, with his first race of 2017 after injury, the team put in a decent performance and set up the rest of the season nicely.  Cheetham returned with a bang, with an excellent 58:40, picking up a silver for the v40 category at the same time.   James McPoland put in a solid performance with a 65:32 and Lovell and Mutton  completed the finishers (continuing their unique “in race” training programme)


21 0:58:41 Paul Cheetham Barnes Runners M40-49 414 0:58:40
76 1:05:32 James McPoland Barnes Runners M30-39 275 1:05:19
139 1:10:50 David Lovell Barnes Runners M40-49 83 1:10:38
147 1:11:28 Thomas Mutton Barnes Runners M30-39 217 1:11:15


Results and updated tables will appear on the Surrey AA website in due course.

Next match is very local – June 18th Richmond 10K down in Ham.   This will sell out so please sign up ASAP if you would like to enter.  All other matches are great races and linked to from the Surrey Site as well.


May 23 2017

Barnes Runners head off to Sierra Leone Marathon

All the very best of luck to Josh and the rest of the Barnes Runners crew as they head off to Sierra Leone for the 6th running of the Sierra Leone Marathon. Barnes Runners has been involved in these marathons from almost the very start, and this involvement goes from strength to strength.


If you haven’t already done so – please look here for more information, or more importantly, please click HERE to donate. Every penny goes to Street Child as the runners are paying all expenses.

Street Child of Sierra Leone was founded six years ago to reunite children with their families, and then provide them with access to hygiene, welfare, education… all the things that we take for granted.The sheer scale of what it has accomplished since it was set up is scarcely believable – all the more so given the extremely limited resources it has.

Street Child of Sierra Leone has succeeded in mobilising the goodwill of a number of patrons and sponsors over the last few years. Companies such as VistaPrint, African Minerals, Kiln and Ibex have given generously within the framework of their CSR commitments, but fundamentally, the charity relies on donations from individuals. It also organises a number of fundraising initiatives, including the Street Child of Sierra Leone Marathon in Makeni.

The 2012 Sierra Leone marathon was West Africa’s first ever mass-participation athletics event. It received wide media attention and raised €500,000 to help get the country’s children off the streets and into education, the aim being to provide these children with the support and resources they need to spearhead the economic recovery in a couple of generation’s time and get Sierra Leone moving again.  Subsequent marathons have raised another €10,000,000 and the event has now established itself as SCoSL’s flagship fundraiser.


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