racebest

We run and we run RaceBest. This blog is about running, but it's also about what we're up to at RaceBest.


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Did you know?

We’re not the best at promoting ourselves.  We’re so busy focusing on the day to day that we don’t get round to telling you all the cool things the RaceBest site does.  So I’ll try and rectify that in future.

For instance, did you know that the green race calendar takes you to the chosen month in the race listings?  Click (or tap) Jan and you’ll get the race listing starting January. So if you know when a race is held, you can go straight there in one move.

And organisers, did you know that you can send an email to all your entrants without having to download an entry list and without having to use your own email client?  It’s really easy to email all your entrants and it will appear to them as coming from your email address, thus making it more likely that the email is received and making it easier for an entrant to reply to you.

Tell us what you like and what you don’t like about RaceBest. We think it’s good, but we know it could be better, and we want it to be the best (hence the name!).  So if there are cool features you have used on other sites, tell us about them.


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What’s new

Change is in the air here at RaceBest.  We’re in the middle of adding lots of new features for organisers and, following this, new features for runners too.

Organisers can now access their own, secure dashboard, where they can download current entrant lists 24/7 (which include derived age/gender categories and consistent club names), upload results and email all entrants directly from the site.  New reports and functions are being developed as we speak to make sure that RaceBest remains the best for organisers and runners alike.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll use this blog to post tips and advice on using these new features, so keep your eye out for updates.


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Join Together

Writing takes time. So does running. Writing about running is even more time consuming. It is definitely not multi-tasking. Writing whilst running risks injury, although on the plus side I’m sure You Tube fame could be achieved by strapping a laptop on, cinema usherette-style armed with Cornettos, choc-ices and albatross only to disappear down a unattended manhole. You know, something like Charlie Bit My Finger or Benton but less winsome and featuring a grumpy bear with an axe to grind rather than a loveable Labrador with red deer to chase. All of which is to say in words of more than one syllable, that I do not devote enough time to the written word, because I’m too busy running, watching other people running or doing things that help other people do running or other people do watching other people running.

Now that last sentence could take me anywhere. You may have gathered by now that I often set out with no idea what I am going to write about, taking my lead from the last word that tripped out of my brainpillow. Sometimes I run like that too, by which I mean, I set out from the front door with a route that is no more planned than “turn left at the bottom of the road” followed by random turns to see where I end up. Of course that can be a recipe for disaster; before now I have ended up back at my front door only three minutes after I locked it or found myself eyeball to to eyeball with a frisky bullock signing “just try to reach that style, go on I dare you, no I double dare you”, which is no mean feat for a bullock what with the cloven hooves and all (an opposable thumb isn’t just for changing channel, you know).

I set out intending to write about running clubs, because they have been much on my mind of late. That’s one of things I meant by “doing things that help other people do running” (last sentence, first paragraph, pay attention). I joined a club ten years ago and I’d like to say it transformed me from an overweight, under-achieving joggleslug to a lean, mean runner bean, but I’d be lying (which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of examples of just such a transmogrification, simply that I’m not one of them).  There are two words in “running club” (literacy and numeracy in one sentence, are there no limits to his insight?) and neither of them is bibble.  When I started with this running lark, I stood on the outside, looked at the running club runners and thought, elitists, whippets and oddbods. Then I joined a club, got to know these running club types and adjusted my typology to equals, retrievers (some golden) and oddbods.

Because oddbods do exist in disproportionate numbers in running clubs, perhaps because of the sport’s individualism (there’s no “I” in team but there is in running, along with “u” and “rnnng”).  It’s a strange cult where the thing that brings us together is a desire to go faster than walking and leads us to worship at the words of hi-viz, low profile, midfoot soothsayers, all the time trying to get away from the herd behind us in order to catch the pack in front. But I found a home with the oddbods, because I found that the shared obsession was no more their whole definition than it was mine: if you prick us do we not bleed, if we strain a calf muscle do we not say ouch?

But then there is the club word.  For one who has lived his life according to the Marxist philosophy of “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” it is mighty discombobulating to find myself evangelising to the unaffiliated the benefits of the affiliation and giving up many, many hours to make the club bigger, better and less reductive (my urge to crowbar in yet another song reference may have made that last clause nonsensical, but that would assume that the rest of what I write is sensical).  

Anyway, to cut a long run short, clubs are a good thing. They make you run and they make you a better runner. They make you new friends. They make races. They make you faster, slimmer, and more attractive to the opposite sex (ok, maybe not that). They make running. Join together with the band  


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I’m a road runner baby

The trail or the road?  The path less travelled or the route much trammelled?  You don’t have to choose, you don’t have to be exclusive, you can play the field, but ultimately you will have a type.  I nailed my colours firmly to the mast recently when I wrote of a local trail race:  

“…In the great running dichotomy between hard grey tarmacadam or wet, brown mud, I lean decidedly towards the hard stuff.  Actually I more than lean, I lie firmly down upon it.  I am a road runner (baby). Cut me and I bleed blacktop.  Running for me is about the rhythm, the even pace, the zoning out and tuning in; the eyes on the horizon.  Whereas it seems to me that off-road is a never ending, series of millisecond micro-decisions weighing up every single step, eyes fixed permanently on the ground.  It’s stop start, up down, over stiles and under branches (6ft 2 is not a good height for trail runners). It’s an opportunity for the fleet-footed and nimble, the graceful and agile to remind me how heavy, clumsy and lumpen I am.  And okay, there’s all that pretty countryside to run through, but I never see the views, because there’s no opportunity to look up because every step is a potential death trap, what with rocks and roots and holes all vying for your attention and tempting your toes to tripping.  In a nutshell, it’s stressful, not relaxing and I want my running to reduce my stress not add to it.” (The full review can be read here).

A man’s got to know his limitations. Running on the road can liberate me from those limitations, those demons that plague me, that I can recite at the least provocation.  Running on the road gives me space to breathe, space to think and space to float away from life’s gravity for a moment.  But off road running fails me in this regard and never ceases to remind me of my weight, height and all round disagility (which I know is not a word, but it is what I am, dis-agile).  Some trails I like a lot (many of them in the Scottish Highlands), but I like them for training, not racing. Maybe that’s the real distinction here; it’s not about running, it’s about racing. I like to train the trails, even tame the trails, but I like to race the roads.

“Roadrunner, roadrunner, going faster miles an hour..”


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Age shall not wither her…

…or him for that matter, but let us not in gender waters be drowned, for thou art set upon a course of time and distraction of sex shall be banished from all thoughts…for a little while at any rate.

Youth is celebrated far and wide and grey hairs hidden in this 21st century dystopia we call the West.  This is particularly true in sporting endeavour, where a footballer is called old in his 30s and tennis players retire in their 20s.  But running is rare amongst sports because you can genuinely improve as you age (some might say like a fine wine, but I might say like a fruit cake).  I took up running 10 years ago and even now can achieve times better than when I was younger.  Furthermore, the wonders of WAVA age-graded scoring mean I can not only beat my younger self even when I am ostensibly slower, but more importantly for my increasingly-irrelevant ego, I can beat those half my age.  For the WAVA rating, by telling me that my time was 65.3%, when the youngster who finished ahead of me was 59.0%, is basically saying I tried harder, 6.3% harder than he did, and he needs to pull his finger out and make an effort, just like me.  That said, the 67 year old haring past me has me well and truly beat on all counts, except that I’ve got more hair (although that is probably slowing me down, so I could beat him if only I reduced my drag co-efficient and sported a shiny pate).  This sort of petty point-scoring is what keeps runners so competitive (winning even when they’re losing, and also losing sometimes when they’re winning) and, let’s be honest, so boring.  Like Clarkson, but with less denim.

In my running club some of the most respected and celebrated runners are in their 50s, 60s and 70s.  Members in their 20s and 30s are expected to be fast, so respect is tempered, but older runners are expected to be, well, old, so when they defy their chronology, we are in awe.  Not that anyone is in awe of me, but that’s probably because they think I’m young, what with still having all my hair (did I mention that already?).

“…nor custom stale her infinite variety” is the concluding part of the quotation and to stretch my Shakespearean muse yet further (that crack you will hear shortly is the sound of an analogy snapping), this is true of running too.  Even when we repeat a route or a race, it is always different and I may never tire of the endless variety that comes from running, because each time I step out I am, if nothing else, changed by time.  So despite its relentless forward march that adds  further minutes and seconds to my 10K best, I can take comfort in the knowledge that my age-grading does not diminish…just like my hairline.


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Our time is running out

Where does the time go, you know, when we’ve done with it?  I mean, when it’s gone, used up, behind you, where is it kept?  Is it being stored in a great big cosmic bedroom at the back of a great big cosmic house? Or is being catalogued so that our descendants can search it to find out exactly what shape Tuesday was and how much January 2007 actually weighed? Or do we just recycle it and in fact the moment you are currently experiencing was last here as a long, dull, Medieval Sunday with nothing on the telly.

The question, where does the time go, applies equally to the yawning chasm between the last time you spoke to your bestest ever uni pal and the news that he has just got divorced as it does to the distance between the starting gun sounding and the time now showing on your PaceMaster 3000.  Regardless of race distance there’s always a point where either you’re ahead of time or you’re behind time, or if you’re really lucky, in the moment, but whichever is true, it also true that you just lost 20 minutes or 2 hours of your life that you will not only never get back, but also will never be able to locate, because THEY won’t tell you where THEY keep it.  Of course this now raises further questions, such as, if you’re ahead of time, what does the space between time and you feel like? If you slowed to let time catch up, would time thank you or just elbow you out of the way, immune to your protestations because he or she (gender is a debate for another day) is wearing headphones and in the zone aided by Queen’s Greatest Hits (6 million Brits can’t be wrong) on repeat.  Or if you’re behind time what does he/she look like?  I imagine a big lilac splodgy mass, not unlike Barbapapa but then that’s my age.  Of course, time has been defined more precisely as a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff, which clearly supports my Barbapapa theory.

And I can’t even begin to ponder the correct tense for this horological debate, so I’m just going to ignore it, unlike the White Rabbit who just overtook me on the way to the finish line.  Him, I will follow, down the Rabbit Hole (“Don’t Stop Me Now!”). Maybe that’s where the time is.  In the Underland, guarded by Morpheus and the Time Lords (a glam rock band that never lived up to their early promise).  If I’m right, you’ll see me break the two hour marathon barrier at Manchester. If I’m right, you have already seen me break the two hour marathon barrier at Manchester, in fact you have just retrieved that moment from the cosmic catalogue, and it weighed a ton.  Yeah, I know. Heavy.


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The Charge of the Dewsbury 10

One long league out
One long league back
Into the winter sun
Ran the ten hundred (and sixty three)

Runners to the right of them
Runners to the left of them
Runners in front of them
Race in the chill wind
Smile in blue skies surprise

Into the blinding sun
Runners to the right of them
Runners to the left of them
Runners behind them
Under the bridge and home
As Shoddy and Mungo
Herald the returning horde

Boldly they ran and well
Relish the race they ran
Relish the Dewsbury 10
Nimble ten hundred (and sixty three)

©lct 02/02/14

Photos here