Thursday 20th December. I guess a lot of late night shoppers in Kingston despatate for late presents and others waylaid at dodgy office parties. Whatever the reasons, not too many Stragglers at the Hawker centre tonight.
Probably 30-40 on the social warm up run, then split into four groups. I took a group this week as there seemed to be a gap in pace and suggested 6.5 miles at around 8.30. Seven of us did it, a favourite winter run of mine as its all lit pavement but pretty quiet. From Ham to Richmond along the Petersham Road, over Richmond Bridge, through St Margarets to Twickenham and down to Teddington, then across the lock back to Ham with around a mile to finish. Possibly more like 9 minute pace overall but with quicker bits and a few stops. Great winter conditions and very enjoyable.
In the Hawker afterwards, despite the out of town shopping centre cafe ambiance, there was a convivial crowd and some good stories. Sian Buckingham volunteered to do the lead bike at Richmond 13.1 and also her partner Mark to do the same, although he looked slightly less certain (they are both running in the Paris Marathon the week after!)
A presentation was made belatedly to Jess Peterson who is a Stragglers member and ran in the London Olympics Marathon this year. Jess had a fantasic race and the build up is quite unbelievable!
About a year before I gave Jess a lift over to Windsor Great Park where we were both running in the Runnymede relay. During the drive Jessica told me (in strictest confidence) that if she could get a fast qualifying time at London in April 2102 she could qualify to run in the Olympics. What do you say to that? Jess went on to be fastest lady that day, and although finishing marginally outside the required time in London, was selected to run for Denmark at the Olympics. A lot of Stragglers went up to support and I was with a group by Cleopatras Needle on the embankment. Jess ran a a superb race! Although her qualifying time indicated a position around 80th she settled into around 60th by halfway and then picked off the field to finish in 40th place. This was a personal best time (PB) of 2.31.43, and a Danish National record. To put it in perspective, the overall winner, Tika Gelena of Ethiopia finished in 2.23 07, only 8 minutes faster!
The Stragglers are a mixed bunch with some serious athletes, good runners, social runners and those who do not run much these days through age and injury. So its a great experience to mix with one of our members who is an an Olympian, with no social pressure involved! And Jess despite her ability is one of the most unassuming people I have ever met.