Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Results of the Skibbereen 10k road race...Sun 30th Sept 2012

The mens race was won by George Waugh of Bandon AC. George also won the 5k race in Rosscarbery the previous day!

    Place    Time    Name    Team    Race Age Category    min/mile       
    1    0:33:27    WAUGH, George    Bandon AC    M    05:22.9    279    1
    2    0:33:40    MURPHY, Cian    Iveragh AC    M    05:25.0    322    2
    3    0:36:42    PATTERSON, Robert    St. Finbarrs AC    M    05:54.3    329    3
   14    0:41:02    O'NEILL, Anna    Doheny AC    F40    06:36.1    244    14
   15    0:41:13    HAYES, Orla    unatt/Skibbereen    F    06:37.9    209    15
   31    0:42:48    O'NEILL, Eadaoin    East Cork AC    F    06:53.1    262    31

The full results can be seen HERE

Results of the Kinsale RFC 5 mile...Sun 30th Sept 2012

 Winners of the Kinsale RFC 5 mile...Mark Hanrahan and Claire McCarthy 
are presented with their prizes from John Walsh of Kinsale RFC.

There was a turnout of 180 for this event. 

1    23:52    Mark Hanrahan    Male    Open    Leevale AC
2    26:18    John Meade    Male    Open    St.Finbarrs AC
3    26:26     Danny Smith     Male    Open    Ballynonty AC
7    28:20    Claire McCarthy    Female    Open    St Finbarr's AC
9    28:55    Laura Crowe    Female    Open    0
27    33:40    Una Plant    Female    Open    0

The full results can be found HERE

Results of the Rosscarbery 5k Fun Run...Sat 29th Sept 2012

The Rosscarbery Steam Engine 5k Fun Run was held on Saturday, the 29th of September 2012.

1 Waugh, George Bandon AC M 16:16
2 O'Sullivan, Mark Bandon AC M 16:37
3 Collins, John Skibbereen AC M 16:55
18 Kenny, Michelle Midleton AC F 20:19
23 Brennan, Melissa Bandon F 21:38
26 Presutti, Tania Denmark F 22:31

The full results can be seen HERE

1) John Joe O'Driscoll has a slideshow of photos HERE

Friday, September 28, 2012

Preview of the Kinsale 5 mile...Sun 30th Sept 2012

This new 5 mile event in Kinsale is coming up next Sunday, the 30th of September at 11am. Organised by Kinsale Rugby Club, this is the first year of this run and it is hoped that it will become an annual event. 25% of the proceeds from the run will go to the Build4Life Cystic Fibrosis charity who are aiming to build a special unit at the Cork University Hospital in Wilton. The balance is going towards the development of an underage rugby team.

Entries......You can enter at Kinsale Rugby Club on Saturday evening between 6:30pm and 8pm. Entries open on the day from 9:30am. The entry fee is €10.

Directions......As you approach Kinsale on the R600 road from Belgooly/Riverstick, you come to a crossroads at the top of a hill just before you drop down into the town. Take a left here and the Rugby club is about 1km out this road.

Course...It starts near the Rugby Club and runs back across the crossroads and up around the north side of Kinsale. The first mile is reasonable with a few short up and down sections.

After this, the second mile is a bit of a change. Initially it's mostly downhill but around 1.6 miles, you turn off right and up a short climb...

Just as it flattens out at the top, you turn off right again and start another short climb......

This section will probably be one of the hardest sections of the course. From here, the road narrows to a boreen and on to the 2 mile mark....

At the end of this narrow stretch, the road falls away as you take the next left and then drop downhill....

 ......and then it's out to a busier road......
 Some of you may be familiar with this section of road as it's between the finish line and the GAA hall in the Kinsale 5 mile road race held in early August.

It's also the end of the downhill running for the moment as you have to climb up a hill.....

.....and then left and up another short climb. A tough section.

At this stage, you are at roughly the halfway mark. The second half of the race is a complete contrast in that it is either downhill or nearly flat. First off, the long downhill section....

......which lasts until you reach the waters edge around the 3.2 mile mark. A very fast section.

From here, you follow the road back in towards Kinsale. Soon, you pass the bridge for Garretstown. From here on, traffic may or may not be an issue. Follow the race stewards instructions on the day.

As you enter Kinsale, you hit a very small hill (~4.2 miles) and then you take a right.......

 and continue on down the quay....

At the end of the quay, you pass the tourist office...right...and then right again...

 Then it's right at the next junction...

..and you finish on an flat section before the hill that goes up near the Spaniard pub.

Overall.......a route that will take you around parts of Kinsale that you may have never seen before. Lot of twists and turns and a few hills as well thrown in. Despite the fact that the start line is much higher than the finish, I have a feeling that this may not be such a fast course? The only way to know for sure is to run it ;o)

Post race, they will have a bus to shuttle runners back to the rugby club which is about 1.5 miles away. If you intend to use this as part of your warm down, make sure you go back via the quiet route and not back up the R600 road to Cork which is not suitable for running.

In the rugby club, there will be the usual prize giving and refreshments.

The organisers have their own set of photos of the various junctions out on the course. You can see it HERE

Additional info...
1) A number of hotels and restaurants in Kinsale will have special offers for the day. More information at the rugby club on race day.
2) Guided walk......for family members, there will be a 3km guided walk starting at the rugby starting at 10:45am. This will take in a countryside route and follow a waterside path to the finish line of the race. Walkers can avail of the free buses to return to the rugby grounds. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ron Hill was 74 last Tuesday...

After putting up the post on Steve Gathje and his 40 year running streak up to the 25th of September, someone sent me an e-mail to remind me that that the 25th was also Ron Hill's 74th birthday.

Ron is believed to have the current world record in terms of unbroken days run. He started his running streak back on December 20th, 1964 and has run every day since.

Every year around the time of Ron's birthday, a 5km race is held in his honour in a town called Littleborough near Rochdale, Lancashire. This year's event took place last Thursday night, 190 took part with the man himself finishing 153rd in 26:03!

The race is organised by Andy O'Sullivan, a retired policeman originally from Waterford. He received an MBE a few years in recognition for the many charity races he has organised over the years.

The entry form for next year's race to celebrate Ron's 75th birthday can be seen HERE

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vote for top Irish sprinter Jason Smyth...

Jason Smyth won two Gold medals in the 100m and 200m in the recent Paralympic Games in London. As outlined in a previous post, Jason is actually the second fastest Irish man of all time over 100 metres.

The official website of the Paralympic movement now have a vote for the best male athlete in Aug/Sept 2012. It only takes a few seconds to vote. Click on this LINK and the poll is on the right hand side of the page. There is no need to register or anything like that. It's very simple and quick.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mimi Anderson sets new Malin to Mizen record...

After starting off last Saturday morning at 6:01 from Malin Head in Donegal, Mimi Anderson arrived in Mizen Head in West Cork at 9:37pm on Tuesday evening. That is a new record of 3 days, 15 hours, 36 mins and  23 seconds for running the length of Ireland. The previous record was held by Sharon Gayter when she ran from Malin to Mizen back in March 2012 in 4 days 1 hour 39 minutes and 55 seconds.

Over a year of planning and preparation has gone into this new attempt and now the relevant proof  will need to be submitted to make it an official Guinness World Record.

Mimi Anderson has the current record for the fastest time by a female for running from John O’Groats to Lands End in the UK  (840 miles in 12 days, 15 hours, 46 minutes). She is also the record holder for the furthest distance covered on a treadmill in 7 days by a female (403.81 miles).

Updated Fri 28th Sept...You can read her own account HERE

US runner Steve Gathje hits 40 year running streak...

After starting on the 25th of September 1972, Steve Gathje of Minnesota has run at least a mile every day for the last 40 years, that's 14,615 days. He becomes only the ninth person documented to have run a minimum of one mile every day for 40 years and is currently rank eighth in the United States among active streak runners.

In an interview, he said........"It's taken a life of its own because you  certainly don't start something like that expecting to run every day for 40 years. At the start, I counted 100 straight days and I thought that was kind of neat. I got to thinking ... 1,000? 10,000? But it was never to the point of doing this for 40 years."

For the 40 years, Gathje has been running more or less injury free despite running more than 110,000 miles and 14  marathons. "I've had three or four sprained ankles and that's not pleasant,'' he said. He's also had to deal with traveling, weather, work and the birth of his children. Like second oldest daughter, Sarah. "My wife's water broke at 6 in the morning and we got up and got dressed,'' Gathje said, "but she (Laurie) actually said, ‘maybe you should go out and run before we go to the hospital.' '' And then there was his youngest son, Dan, when he was born on one March snowy day. "A typical March blizzard,'' said Gathje.  "We were in the hospital snowed in and couldn't travel. Luckily, I had my running shoes on, so I borrowed my wife's hat and mittens and went out and ran between the snow drifts along University Ave. in St. Paul.''

Gathje has run in close to 40 states and seven countries. He once ran in a Newark airport hotel when his flight was canceled. "Nothing in my control will stop the streak,'' he said. What Gathje does know is that he's not streaking for any glory. "It's a part of my life now,'' he said. "You get up in the morning and go run. Simple as that.''

The Irish person with the longest running streak is Denis McCarthy of East Cork AC. Denis has run every day since June 1985.

Irish Times article on Mark English...

The Irish Times had a recent piece recently on 20 year old Mark English, one of the up and coming stars in Irish Athletics. 

Last May, Mark English won the 800 metres at the Flanders International meeting in Oordegem, Belgium, in a time of 1:45.77 improving his own Irish junior record by over a second. This was just 0.17 seconds short of the Olympic 'A' standard for the London Games. It also makes him the fifth fastest on the Irish all-time senior list, forcing Marcus O’Sullivan, with his best of 1:45.87, down to sixth.

800 Metres....Top Six Irish men
1 1.44.82 David Matthews 09.04.74 3 Rieti ITA 05.09.95
2 1.45.32 James McIlroy 30.12.76 4 Nice FRA 16.07.98
3 1.45.41 Thomas Chamney 16.04.84 3 Oslo NOR 03.07.09
4 1.45.59 David Campbell 28.01.82 4 Oslo NOR 03.07.09
5 1.45.77 Mark  English 18.03.93 1 Oordedgem BEL 26.05.12
6 1.45.87 Marcus O'Sullivan 22.12.61 3 Berlin GER 23.08.85

The article was written by Ian O'Riordan and you can read it HERE

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tour de France to buy Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series..?

It was recently announced that the Competitor Group in the USA has put the hugely popular Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon and Marathon series up for sale. Competitor Group was formed in 2008 when Falconhead Capital, an equity fund firm, bought the Rock 'n' Roll series, other races and some media properties. In the last four years, Competitor Group has grown from 16 to 75 races, including some triathlons and non-US road races. In terms of races in the USA, this commercial operation is huge and they will be bringing a Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon to Dublin in August 2013.

A number of off-the-record running-industry sources are reporting the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series will be sold to the owners of the world-famous Tour de France bicycle race. Several of the sources have referenced a column published a week ago at by Bob Wischnia, a former Runner’s World editor who now works for Mizuno.

The Tour de France is owned by the French company, Amaury Sports Organization, which also owns the Paris and Barcelona Marathons, as well as other bike races and L’equipe, the daily French-language sports newspaper. On its web site, the company says: “One of A.S.O.’s priority areas for growth is the organization of mass events open to the general public."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Results of the Charleville Half-Marathon...Sun 23rd Sept 2012

A record 635 runners took part in this years Charleville Half-Marathon, a jump of 40% on the figure of 455 for 2011. Considering that this is only the second year of this race, that's an impressive number for a race in North Cork.

Organisation wise, it was as good as any other race. Good points picked out were.....
1) Good start area with a corridor for runners to get access to the back. This stops slower runners who were late clogging up the front.
2) Straight open road for the first 600 metres which allowed the field to thin out.
3) Plenty of stewards out along the course to slow traffic down.
4) Great spread queues for tea or food.
5) Results were reasonably fast.

It had the feel of a typical short club road race except of course it was a Half-Marathon. The only issue of concern though was the traffic on the road between Charleville and Kilmallock. The road wasn't closed and cars were trying to pass on a road that was half full of runners. When the field was bunched, the traffic had no choice but to slow down but I wonder what it like for those on their own at the back of the field? Even at the pace I was doing which was around 7:40 per mile, we had to run in single file at one stage to get past a backlog of cars. The course between the church in Kilmallock and the main road was a complete contrast........nice quiet country road with no traffic......probably the nicest part of the course. If the race number continue to grow, the traffic issue on the main road is something that might need to be addressed.

 Not something you see at most races........(Photo courtesy of Jim McSweeney)

Overall though, a good race. I've done a few Half-Marathons this year and it's as good as any of them. Considering it's proximity to both Cork City and Limerick City, the race certainly has potential for bigger numbers.

Results.......Updated Mon 12:30pm
Please note that the results shown on Sunday were provisional with some of the chip times 12-16 seconds too fast. The final official results are now available. Check the link below to check your times....

The full results can be seen HERE

Photos........(Updated 27th Sept)
1) Gearoid O'Laoi has a gallery of photos HERE 
2) Gordon Thompson has a small gallery of photos HERE
3) Jim McSweeney has this gallery on Facebook
4) The organisers have a small gallery of finishing photos HERE (~1:39 or faster)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Citizen Runner Yuki Kawauchi wins Sydney Marathon...

Back in February of this year, I had a guest article on the site from Derek O'Keeffe about the Japanese running sensation Yuki Kawauchi.......otherwise known as the Citizen Runner. In a world of elite professional runners, he works in an office full time and still manages to train and compete against the best in his spare time. He is also perhaps as well known for shaving his head as an act of atonement for not having made the Japanese Marathon team for the Olympics.

In the recent Sydney Marathon (16th Sept) in Australia, Kawauchi won the race in a new course record of  2:11:52. This was his sixth Marathon of the year and his second win in 3 weeks having won the the Hokkaido Marathon in Japan in 2:18:38 in late August.

In the Sydney race, Kawauchi set off in a small lead pack on pace to break the 2:14:12 course record set back in 1994.  After running 1:06:08 for the first half, he soon dropped Kenyan Felix Kandie and pushed on to run a negative split on the challenging Sydney course which some estimate to be two to three minutes slow.  Kawauchi crossed the line with a margin of more than four minutes over the Kenyan, his time of 2:11:52 taking nearly two and a half minutes off the course record and the third-best time of his career.  Next up Kawauchi will run October's World Half Marathon Championships before pursuing a 2:07 at December's Fukuoka Marathon.

On the same day that Yuki Kawauchi won Sydney, his younger brother Koki Kawauchi won the Tazawako Marathon in Japan in 2:37.

Pacing balloons soon to be a thing of the past?

Tom Welton, a professor of sustainable chemistry at Imperial College, London, believes that a global shortage of helium means it should be used more carefully. Helium cools the large magnets inside MRI scanners - the medical devices that provide doctors with detailed images of what is happening inside their patients' bodies.

In an interview, Prof Welton said...."We're not going to run out of helium tomorrow - but on the 30 to 50 year timescale we will have serious problems of having to shut things down if we don't do something in the mean time. The reason that we can do MRI is we have very large, very cold magnets - and the reason we can have those is we have helium cooling them down. You're not going into an MRI scanner because you've got a sore toe - this is important stuff. When you see that we're literally just letting it float into the air, and then out into space inside those helium balloons, it's just hugely frustrating. It is absolutely the wrong use of helium."

Helium is extracted from deep underground, mainly in the USA where deposits of the gas have built up. It is usually mined as a bi-product of natural gas extraction. But resources are finite and demand is increasing, which is why supplies are restricted. Two years ago, the shortage of helium prompted the American Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Robert Richardson, to call for the price of one party balloon filled with the gas to cost more than £60.

"There is a current shortage," said Doug Thornton, chief executive of the British Compressed Gas Association - the body which represents commercial suppliers of helium and other gases. "That has led to a two-year price-hike, although we expect that prices may drop again, as new reserves are found in places like Russia. But there aren't many alternatives in terms of supply."

Last month the UK's Balloon Association, which represents the party and promotional balloon industry, said prices were going up and supplies were under pressure. It estimates that at present it costs between 30p and 50p to fill a single balloon with helium.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Preview of the Charleville Half-Marathon...Sun 23rd of Sept, 2012

The next big race is of course the Cavanaghs Charleville Half-Marathon on Sunday, the 23rd of Sept at 10am. This is the 11th and final race in the Ballyhoura Active Series which after being introduced in 2010 has grown to be a great success.

Entries...The entry fee on the Saturday will be €30 and on the day is €35. Race dry-fit tops and medal cost an extra €5 respectively.

Weekend schedule...
Saturday 22nd September…3pm to 9pm – Race Pack Collection/ New entries – Charleville Park Hotel
Sunday 23rd September…8:15am to 9:30am – Race Pack Collection/ New entries – St. Josephs Foundation Hall, Bakers Rd. Charleville
9:30am – Entries Close
9:50am – Half-Marathon participants assemble at start area (For safety reasons, runners will be asked to start in areas which are appropriate to their pace i.e. Sub 1hr 30, 1hr 30+, 1hr 40+, etc (Pacers at front)
10am – Race Start

Water Stations…There will be bottled water and/or cups available near each of the relay stations at approximately 5km intervals and at the finish line.

Post-race Refreshments and Food…..They will tea/coffee, sandwiches, cakes, etc. They will also have a special section for Coeliacs who require gluten free food and non-buttered sandwiches for those with a dairy intolerance.

Directions.....The venue for the race is at St.Josephs Foundation on Bakers Road. This road runs parallel to the main road through the town. If you are coming from the direction of Cork City then take a right as you enter the town...
...past the graveyard.....and then left on to Bakers Road.

If you are coming from the direction of Limerick City then after you pass the Topaz station on the left as you enter the town, take a left before you get to the main church. The turn will be signposted for Killmallock....

...then left at the next T-junction and then right on to Bakers Road.

This is an overview of the town.....

It clearly shows Bakers Road parallel to the main road and the approach roads. Follow the stewards directions on the day for parking. The changing facilities and showers are in the local GAA hall (pictured in map) which is right alongside St.Josephs...

Parking.......Parking will not be available on the St. Josephs site unless absolutely necessary. There is adequate parking in the schools and Dunnes Stores car park which are both adjacent to the site at St. Josephs. People will be directed by Marshalls to the parking areas. There will be no on-road parking allowed by the Gardai.

Course Details......One of the main features of the course is that there are plenty of long straight and flat sections of road. It goes from the town of Charleville in N.Cork to the town of Kilmallock in SE Limerick and back again.

Start......There is a change in the start this year compared to 2011. The race now starts about 200m to the south of St.Josephs so the sharp bend on exiting onto the main run is now gone. This is a big  improvement as with a large field, it will tend to bunch near corners and bottlenecks.
There are now roughly 800 metres of straight running before the next turn right so that field has time to thin out a bit. After the right, you head east and as per the race instructions, you should stay on the left hand side of the road...

Here you pass the cheese factories and pretty soon, you start to leave the town as you head towards Kilmallock. At this stage, there are some small climbs but these will be all downhill sections in the later stages of the race.

From here, there are a few minor bends in the road. Just after 2 miles, you come to the steepest hill along the course and strangely enough, it's man-made. Up ahead is an old bridge under which ran the old direct railway line which went from Cork City to Limerick City...

As a hill, it's pretty short and you have the benefit of a downhill on the other side. After this, the road begins to run parallel to the main Cork to Dublin railway line. Considering that these rail lines were laid for steam trains in the mid 19th century, the road here reflects this.....dead straight and very flat.

The first major junction is at approx 3.2 miles.....

Note that this is the start of the looped secion taking in the town of Kilmallock. Once the loop is completed, you will be retracing your steps back to Charleville and the finish line.

At approx 5.2 miles, the roads turns away from the railway line and heads towards the town of Kilmallock. This was one of the principal walled towns of the province of Munster in medieval times and almost seventy percent of walls are still standing today. There is plenty of evidence of this along the race course...

.......though the arch.......left and the next junction and through the town....

.....and then left at the main church in the town...

...some bit of slight uphill running here and very soon, you are onto a very quiet country road...

There are a few bends but the road is mostly flat and straight. Near Mile 9...

.....and just before the 10 mile mark, you approach end of the looped section......

You now run back towards Charleville and the finish line in St.Josephs.

Overall.........A fast accurate Half-Marathon course which will suit anyone trying for a personal best time. With part of the entry fee going to St.Josephs Foundation and building on the success of the 2011 race, it should attract a large crowd.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pace bands for the Charleville Half-Marathon...

As per usual with any big race of this size, there are a range of pacers on hand to assist runners achieve their desired target times. What may be slightly different is that there are more time slots than usual with pacers every 10 minutes instead of 15.

What is also a first for a Half-Marathon locally is the use of a 1:20 pacer!

The pacers will run at an even pace for the entire course. They start timing from when they cross the start line, not when the race it's based on chip time, not clock time.

The purpose of the pacers is run at an even pace and to act as a guide to runners in the race who are trying for a target time. The sole purpose of a pacer is NOT to take a group of people from the start line to the finish line although many people mistakenly think this is the case. The pacers usually run with balloons so as to be highly visible in a bunched field. They are as relevant to someone who might be 50-100 metres behind as someone right alongside them.

It is of course up to individual runners as to whether they run with a pacer or not. The pacers can be particularly useful to newer runners who may not have experience of running over extended distances. A common mistake new people make is that they run too fast early on and are burnt out in  the later stages. Use the pacers as your guide.

On Sunday, each pacing team will also have a member of Kilmallock Cycling Club alongside them so they should be easy to spot. The pacers are largely comprised of members of BMOH and the Eagle AC pacing team.

Online entries close at 3pm on Friday the 21st of September. Otherwise, you can enter at the Charleville Park Hotel on Saturday from 3pm to 9pm or on the morning of the race in St. Josephs Foundation on Bakers Rd., Charleville. Just get there early! The race starts at 10am.

This Sporting Life profiles Eamonn Coghlan on RTE TV...

The RTE programme This Sporting Life recently profiled the career of former 5000m World Champion Eamonn Coghlan. It can now be seen on the RTE Player Service until the 8th of October.

Click HERE

(Link fixed ;o)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Elite Field announced for Charleville Half-Marathon...

The next big race in Cork is the Charleville Half-Marathon next Sunday, the 23rd of September. The organisers have just announced the elite field and it includes Maria McCambridge who won the Ballycotton '10' race back in March and Sergiu Ciobanu, a former winner of the Cork City Marathon.

The following article about the elite field was released by the HERE

New attempt on Malin to Mizen record...

On the 22nd of September, Mimi Anderson from the UK will attempt to set a new record by running from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in Cork in less than four days. The current record was set by Sharon Gayter back in March 2012 when she ran from Malin to Mizen in 4 days 1 hour 39 minutes and 55 seconds. Over a year of planning and preparation has gone into this new attempt. As she is going for a Guinness World Record, there will be an official starter and finisher and the crew will have to keep a detailed log book, get witness signatures along the way and of course lots of photos and videos.

Mimi Anderson has the current record for the fastest time by a female for running from John O’Groats to Lands End in the UK  (840 miles in 12 days, 15 hours, 46 minutes). She is also the record holder for the furthest distance covered on a treadmill in 7 days by a female (403.81 miles).

Mimi will start from Malin Head in Donegal right on the point at 6am on Saturday, the 22nd of September and the plan is to finish under 4 days later at Mizen Head in West Cork - at the lighthouse. The route is: Malin Head, Carndonagh, Malin, Derry, Bready, Strabane, Ardstraw, Drumquin, Enniskillen, Swanlinbar, Ballinamore, Cloone, Longford, Outskirts of Athlone, Cloghan, Borrisokane, Nenagh, Drumbaun, Hollycross, Charleville Banteer Macroom Kealkill, Bantry, Toormore, Goleen, Finish at Mizen Head.

81 year old sets new Half-Marathon record...

Canadian Ed Whitlock, 81, added to his collection of world records on Sunday by running 1:38:59 at a half marathon in his hometown of Milton, Ontario. Whitlock broke the old 80+ mark by 29 seconds, despite resuming regular running only in the weeks before the race.

Whitlock fell on ice last November and broke a rib, one month after lowering his 80+ marathon world record to 3:15:54. He missed months of training and didn't resume his famed routine of daily two- to three-hour runs in a nearby cemetery until mid-summer.

In a post race interview, he said...."I have had injury issues all this year and I am not in 100% shape.  I was relieved to beat the half record as I thought it would be touch and go considering my less than optimum training. The course was flat and weather conditions were very good, little wind and low temperatures."

His next race is the Toronto Marathon in October........."I am not 100% sure whether I will do the half or the full but I am leaning towards the full," Whitlock said. "My expectations for the marathon are not too high as there's not much time to improve my condition before then.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beetroot juice for peak performance?

Recent studies have found that Beta Vulgaris – i.e. the simple beetroot - can be an aid to athletic performance. Rich in potassium, antioxidants and folic acid, beetroot was found to lower blood pressure back in 2008, by scientists at Barts and the London School of Medicine. In 2009, a University of Exeter study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that drinking 500ml of beetroot juice before exercise improved stamina. A second Exeter study last year found that cyclists could shave seconds off their time – similar benefits were found for runners in a US study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in April.

The reason for beetroot’s winning ways, says Professor Andy Jones, from the sport and health sciences department at Exeter, is nitrate, a nutrient found in soil that helps build protein. This converts into nitrite in the body and then into nitric oxide, which has a “double whammy” effect: it widens blood vessels, increasing blood flow; and it reduces the oxygen needed by muscles, enabling them to work more efficiently. “We found this works most effectively in high-intensity exercise, typically races that last up to 30 minutes,” says Prof Jones. He says your average runner might feel the benefits of beetroot more than elite athletes whose muscles are already efficient.

However, those eager to achieve a new personal best would need to eat four or five beetroot to make a difference. Pickled or boiled beetroot is of limited value, unless you drink the water it is boiled in. A similar problem exists with supplements, with eight to 10 capsules needed daily. Which is why experts say the best way to get the benefits is to drink the juice. “Shots” containing 7cl of concentrated juice, and 0.4g of nitrate, have been developed as a sports drink and for use in studies. The James White drinks company in Ipswich, UK said that beetroot juice now accounts for half of the firm’s £5 million turnover. You would need to drink about 500ml (half a litre) of ordinary strength juice to get the same nitrate levels. Consuming this amount of beetroot juice has no side-effects, says Prof Jones – other than turning your urine pink.

The benefits may go beyond track and field, according to Ben Benjamin, professor of medicine at Torbay Hospital. He says that, though more research is needed, 500ml of ordinary-strength juice daily could mean that frail, elderly people could get out of a chair without feeling breathless, or walk upstairs by themselves. Prof Jones agrees: “This is one of the sports nutrition stories of the decade. It transcends performance – we can use it to improve health.”

To make your own beetroot juice drink...
1) Select 3-4 beetroot and wash.
2) Cut off the tails and tip and put into a blender or liquidiser.
3) Strain the pulp and pour into a glass. Simple!

Note that beetroot is used as a dye and will stain hands, clothes and some plastics. It is advisable to wear gloves when preparing.