Running in the UK

by Glen Connell

For those that don’t know me, my name is Glen Connell. I am 48 years old and have been running for 42 of those years. I have run over 1200 races during that time. I ran for Stella for 31 years, DHSOB for 9 years. My family and I moved across to the UK in August 2018 and I now run for Maidenhead AC for the past 2 years.

Training runs at the club are mostly off road, and as somebody who hates running off road, means I don’t run with the club much, preferring to run by myself in the early mornings like I did in SA. After their training runs there is no cracking open a couple of beers, it’s tea/coffee and cake!!

Race entry fees are in the region of £25-£35 for a half marathon and £45-£50 for a normal marathon (Paris marathon about £90). Most races are organised by events companies and not clubs. Being a member of a club is not mandatory but you get a £1 or £2 discount if you do belong to a club.Around 50-60% of runners in most races are not members of a club. Starts are normally in waves of around 200-300 every few minutes, and times are taken from when you cross the line.

Races are marked in miles, but I don’t think I will ever get used to miles. I keep my watch on kms so that I can judge my pace better. Seconding tables are spaced about 5kms apart and have only water in sealed plastic bottles. Having to carry my own Coke or Lucozade Sport (Energade equivalent over here) is a bit of a pain, but I have got used to it.

At the end of races you are handed your medal , collect a piece of fruit and a bottle of water off the table, and off home you go, no club tents and hanging around socializing.

Running in winter has certainly been one of the things I have had to get used to, but I actually now prefer running in winter here than running during summer!! Although this has resulted in a few slips on icy roads and has resulted in some blood being shed..

I have run about 10 races in the 18 months between arriving in the UK and the time when races stopped in March when we went into our 1st lockdown. It’s going to be a while before races are going to be held again here, as races I entered for April/May last year were originally postponed until September/October, then postponed again until the same dates this year. These have all now been postponed again until September 2021 and who knows if things will allow races to happen by then, at least my entry and entry fee has been transferred to whenever the race next takes place. Holding thumbs the vaccine rollout here will be successful and will allow things to return to some sort of normal.

Before Covid there were lots and lots of races. On any normal weekend there would be at least 1or 2 races within a 30-35km radius from where I live (half marathons are huge in the UK), giving lots of options. The only thing I have not seen too many of is road ultra marathons. The off road/ trail running scene is also very big and popular over here.

The last year has been a challenging one in terms of trying to stay motivated and trying not to lose too much fitness. Trying to run 2 or 3 times a week.

Be thankful for the running scene in SA and Durban in particular, you have it good in terms of cost and value for money, race organisation, club scene and socializing.

Support the clubs and pay your membership fees,and ensure that they survive this period and come out the other side of this pandemic, otherwise the running scene will change and not necessarily for the better. Races will start again when it’s safe to do so. Stay safe and keep training.

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