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THE HARRIERS HERALD No. 270, August 2015 Editor: Sue Francis

Contents, features, reports, results       

Thursday night schedules for August and September Compton Harriers HQ move to Downland Sports Centre - reminder Race results & reports: Inkpen Gibbet Challenge – Martin and Lucy race in challenging MT 10K; Ridgeway Relay – Team Manager Richard D reports on an enjoyable and successful day for Compton Harriers Historic battle site near Aldworth – Richard D cites evidence that the Battle of Ashdown took place on Harriers running territory Webmaster’s article – Mo reminds us about the new Harriers Website Directory; features tips for hill running; and lists forthcoming races Thanks to Mo and Richard D for this month’s articles Copy date for next Harriers Herald – 31st August

Thursday night schedule for August Thurs Thurs Thurs Thurs

6th 13th 20th 27th

Richard D to lead Handicap Race Philomena to lead Sue to lead

Thursday night schedule for September Thurs Thurs Thurs Thurs

3rd 10th 17th 24th

Aaron to lead Nick and Colin to lead run with Team Kennet Jonathan to lead Handicap Race

Compton Harriers HQ move to Downland Sports Centre From the beginning of August our base will be the Downland Sports Centre at The Downs School in Compton, RG20 6NU (unless advised otherwise by the run leader). Parking, toilets and showers are available at the Centre. Last run from The Pickled Pig ~ 30th July 2015

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Race Results and Reports Inkpen Gibbet Challenge, 28thJune Martin and Lucy completed this challenging multi-terrain 10K race on a rather wet late June morning. Martin finished 18th in 44:36, and Lucy 58th in 53:38. There were 127 finishers, with the race winners being James Craggs (Newbury AC) in 39:40, and Laura Woodley (unattached) in 42:37. (Photos taken from race website)

Ridgeway Relay, 5th July Richard D Sunday June 15th dawned dry and bright for the running of the relay. Whilst overcast for much of the afternoon, with some heavy rain showers affecting runners of the eighth and ninth legs, the race finished in sunshine. In fact after the dry spring and early summer, running conditions were almost ideal, with sunny spells in the morning and only a light breeze throughout the day. Unlike many previous years it was also not too windy or cold at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon waiting for the start. 47 runners, representing some 25 clubs, together with a small contingent of Compton Harrier supporters, arrived at Ivinghoe Beacon for the start of the relay at 7.30 in the morning. Ryan Morris, first leg runner again this year, set off near the head of the field. Running a steady leg Ryan was amongst one of the leading groups from the start, and finished the tough first leg in Wendover strongly in 9th place, the same position he achieved last year, having pulled away from his group in the latter stages. Ryan handed over to Sue Francis, running her customary second leg. Just after Sue had set off for her leg a clearly discomforted Martin Fray told us he had injured his back whilst unpacking the car and would not be able to run the third leg as planned. As a result Lucy Gettins had bravely volunteered to run the third leg, being familiar with it from previous years. A quick decision then had to be made as to who would run the eighth leg that Lucy was scheduled to run. A quick conference took place amongst the runners travelling with Sus Enhard, with the result HH August 2015


that Ryan agreed to run the short fourth leg in place of Ricky Bickerton, with Ricky moving to take Lucy’s place on the eighth leg. Whilst all this was happening, Sue ran her usual steady leg and put in a strong finish, which saw her finish the leg in 10th place. A surprised Sue, expecting to see Martin, handed over to Lucy at Whiteleaf just outside Princes Risborough. Lucy, although familiar with the third leg but unprepared to run it, ran very well over the undulating terrain, and handed over in 14th place to ‘super sub’ Ryan at Lewknor for the relatively short but tough leg up to Swyncombe Church. Ryan, showing no signs of having already run the long first leg, pushed on strongly over the final hill, gaining three places to hand over to Chris Leeman in 11th place for the long fifth leg down to South Stoke. Chris, despite being increasingly affected during his leg by an historic knee injury, ran bravely on through the tricky downhill section along Grim’s Ditch to the Thames, and then alongside the river to South Stoke, handing over to Sus Enhard in 13th place outside South Stoke school at 12.57, safely under the 13.00 cut-off time, or so we thought! Sus ran the long sixth leg, which passes through Goring and includes a long uphill section to the top of the Downs by West Ilsley, very steadily maintaining the Harriers 14th position. Terry Bartholomew, running the seventh leg, started his run before Sus arrived as one of the runners in the first mass start at 14.00 on Bury Down. This was a result of the Harriers having been mistakenly timed in South Stoke after the 13.00 cut-off time. However this did give Terry the benefit of being in a competitive environment for his leg. Terry did well to finish ahead of most of his fellow mass start runners, and completed his leg in an overall position of 15th place, passing over to Ricky Bickerton at Sparsholt Firs. Ricky was unfortunate to run the eighth leg during a short but heavy rain shower, but clearly enjoyed running the route past White Horse Hill to Charlbury Hill, where he handed over to Jonathan Phillips in 15th place. Jonathan, for once not burdened as in previous years by jet lag, set out on the tough and long ninth leg up to Barbury Castle displaying his recent strong form. He maintained this to finish the leg in 16th place to hand over to Pete Oliphant. Pete, starting just ahead of the second mass start of the day at 17.45, accompanied by Piers and a running friend and encouraged by supporters at the start and outside Manton Stables, ran his usual consistent leg. He brought the team home in a very creditable 15th place in an overall time of 11.46.19, just after 18.55 in the evening. The supporters and eight members of the team who made it to the finish line duly celebrated with a well-earned meal in the Swan pub in Great Shefford, where Tom Doy joined for the celebrations. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the relay, Ryan in particular for volunteering to run two legs, Sus for ferrying half the team around the course, and also the many supporters of this event. Let’s look forward to another enjoyable event in 2016.

An Unsung Historic Battle Site in Aldworth Richard D With recent celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo imminent and the Royal Burial of Richard III, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, given much media coverage, battle sites are achieving a high profile in the media. Many people probably know where the above battles were fought and may have made special visits to see some of the famous battle sites in England. Many people have also recently travelled abroad to see the battle sites of the First World War. But do many people know that one of the most historic battles was probably fought within the parish of Aldworth on a running route commonly used by the Harriers – one that has a significant place in the formation of the country now known as England? The Battle of Ashdown on 8th January 871, in which King Alfred and his brother Aethelred’s Saxon forces defeated for the first time the invading Danes (led by Halfden) was probably fought just under a mile north from the village at Starveall, according to recent research explored in the Book ‘Battles of the Dark Ages’ by Peter Marren, published by Pen and Sword. The book includes a conjectural battle plan, photographs of Bower Farm where the author believes the Danish lines assembled, Lowbury Hill and Browns Firs where King Alfred’s army most probably gathered before the battle, and the hollow by Starveall where the Battle was probably fought. HH August 2015


Why is more not known about the exact site of the Battle of Ashdown? The likely reason is because Ashdown, or Aescesdun in Old English, is the old name for the Berkshire Downs running the whole distance between Marlborough and Reading. However, for logistical reasons it almost certainly took place near the Ridgeway, the ancient track running east – west across the Downs and, given that Alfred’s Saxon forces were defeated outside Reading just four days earlier, it almost certainly took place around a day’s march westward from the town. This concurs with the indication that the defeated Danish army made its way back to Reading on the day of the battle. Altogether this makes a location at the eastern end of the Downs the most probable site for the battle. Alfred’s biographer, Bishop Asser, is the source of most information about the course of the battle and from whom most modern thinking derives, but again there is no definitive clue provided by him as to where exactly the battle was fought. However, there is now a common consensus that Alfred gathered his forces below Lowbury Hill across the ancient crossroads at Browns Firs where the historic Wallingford Road from Compton crosses the Ridgeway. Asser talks of the battle being fought where a shallow valley separates two ridges. Assuming that Halften’s army approaching from Reading probably assembled on the high ground of the ridge where Bower Farm now stands, then it would have been logical for the Saxon forces to move East along the Ridgeway and face the Danish army from the heights above Starveall Farm. This would place the likely actual battle site at the probable convergence of the two armies in the hollow where Starveall Farm lies today. Disappointingly, despite the historic importance of the battle in the formation of England, there is no memorial or information about the battle anywhere in the vicinity of Aldworth. Perhaps this can be addressed? Interestingly, the BBC is currently filming the novel ‘The Last Kingdom’ by Bernard Cornwell, in which the battle of Ashdown features prominently. The series will be shown on TV later this year. It will be interesting to see what topography is used for the battle scenes!

Starveall Farm – site of the Battle of Ashdown?

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Website update… Mo The Site Directory is now up and running so, to check out exactly what is on our site, just click the link on the home page Links of interest this month Natmag Rodale, the organisation that looks after online entry for our Downland Challenge, is behind Fetcheveryone ( which is a free website for runners, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes and outdoor people. It provides a forum, race search, race routes, club search (CHRC is listed) and various blogs to name but a few of the on-site topics. Individual registration is required in order to access most of the free content, but it seems to be well worthwhile. My tips for this month: Hill Running: Running up:  On approaching the hill, try to maintain your stride length with foot strike landing directly underneath the hip and not ahead of you. As the incline increases, cut your stride length accordingly to maintain your upright stance without leaning forward into the hill.  You will then automatically be propelling more off your forefoot due to the gradient.  For very steep inclines this will be hard on the calf muscles, so take care not to over-exert!  Drive arms in order to create force and momentum. Running Down:  Running downhill is about being brave!  Lean forwards to encourage landing on the forefoot (amount of lean depends on gradient!).  Try to avoid 'braking' with your heels to avoid impact injury; instead be confident and let gravity do the work.  The speed and feeling of falling down the hill may mean the arms waving all over the place, but don't worry as this will help balance. Try the technique on lesser gradients before attempting on Lardon Chase!  Your body needs to be slightly ahead of your feet to pick up pace and remain in control.

Events of Interest – see Website Training & Events Calendar for more details Sun, 2 Aug: Sun, 9 Aug: Sat, 15 Aug: Sun, 23 Aug: Sat, 29 Aug: Sun, 30 Aug: Mon, 31 Aug: Sun, 6 Sept: Sat, 12 Sept: Sun, 13 Sept: Sat, 19 Sept: Sun, 20 Sept: Sat, 26 Sept: Sun, 27 Sept: Sun, 4 Oct: Sun, 11 Oct: Sun, 18 Oct: Sat, 24 Oct: Sat, 7 Nov: Sun, 29 Nov: Sun, 6 Dec: Sun, 20 Dec: Mon, 28 Dec:

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11:00 Barbury Horseless Steeplechase - 5 mile race 9:30 Bearbrook 10k Road Race • 10:00 Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 Trail Marathon 10:30 Hooky 6 (miles) Race the Train - 14Miles • Windsor Ultra 2015 - 43.4 miles 9:30 Burnham Beeches ½ Mthn & 10k • 10:00 The Foxtrot 5 (miles) 10:30 Thames Meander Half & Full Mthn • Ridgeway Challenge 86 mile Ultra2015 Quintiles Reading Triathlon • 11:00 Englefield 10k • 09:30 Headington 5 Miles 10:00 Harwell ½ Marathon 08:30 Newbury Triathlon • 09:30 Maidenhead ½ Marathon • 11:00 Earth Trust 10k Mountain Bike Ridgeway Challenge 45th Chiltern Marathon • 10:30 Pangbourne 10k • 11:00 Rutherford Appleton 10k & 5k Hereford Festival of Sport Hereford Festival of Sport • 10:30 Marlborough 'Temple Trail' ½ Mthn IOW Fell Series 2015 IOW Fell Series 2015 • 10:30 Pewsey vale trail ½ Mthn • 10:30 Highclere Castle 10k 09:00 Reading O2O 10K • 10:30 Clarendon Mthn & ½Mthn 09:30 Henley ½ Mthn & 10k • 10:00am Oxford ½ Mthn 10:00 Frieth Hilly 10k • 10:00 Tadley Runners 10 Mile • 10:30 Fairoaks 5mile & 10mile 09:00 Beachy Head Marathon & 10k 10:30 Thames Meander Half & Full Marathon 10:00 Mapledurham Ten - 10k & 10 Miles 11:00 Tadley Runners Xmas XC 5.2 10:00 Muddy Welly 10K & 5k Trail 10:00 Gut Buster 2015 - 10k & 10 Miles



Compton Harriers monthly newsletter - Aug 2015