Last year, I attended the Club Championship awards night and was amazed to discover that I'd come third in my age category (Senior Male 40-44). Third - when I only joined Lliswerry part of the way through the year, limped my way through the Cardiff Half and then took the rest of the year off due to injury. During the evening, I studied the list of 2013 races and thought - I'm going to make this my mission for 2013.
To quote the Website:
How It Works
We select races of various distances (4 miles, 10k, 10 miles, half marathon, etc) throughout the year.
Everyone gets points according to their finishing position (50 points for 1st, 49 points for 2nd...etc), men & ladies scored separately. These points are collected in a league table & updated after each race.
During my journey, I thought a lot about the Club Championships... and here's my "Top Tips"
1. Change your name to Leighton Rawlinson (Lou Howells or Jade Wakley if you're a lady!)
Leighton seems to win every year. Maybe another deed poll name change is in order.
2. Be Lucky with your age!
For some reason, there seemed to be less members of my type - Male 40-44. Competition in the Male Seniors ( < 40) is pretty tough!
3. Run a Marathon
50 points for completing a marathon tremendous stuff, though only one counts during each year, and I'm not sure whether an Ultra gets you the 50 points (have to ask Keith).
Not everyone can run a Marathon (for various reasons). I strongly considered it last year, more for the points than anything else (Chester was on the same day as Cardiff). Then I had a word with myself, seriously. OK, my wife had a word with me too.
4. Check the Rules
I did wonder about the "Best parkrun time in September". Seeing as Cardiff allegedly runs a bit quicker than Newport, I considered a quiet field trip... in September. Luckilly, someone used Facebook to ask whether this is valid or not beforehand, saving my embarrassment (it's not valid btw).
5. Don't get injured
Pretty obvious this one, but it certainly counts. A quick check through the Club Championships results shows people that were doing just great prior to falling foul.
6. You don't have to be the fastest in your Age Group (key tip!)
It's all about participation!
The Club Championship races are spread across a variety of disciplines, some of these races are large and others are quite small.
The Cardiff Half attracts a lot of Lliswerry and Caerleon members, including a number of "ghost members" - i.e. people who join the club as a way of getting reductions on entry fees, discounts and other reasons, without participating in anything else. This means that even quite a good time may not get you many points. Other races, like the Sodbury Slog last year, attracted less - giving you a far better chance of getting quality points. The more races that you participate in, the more chance that you've got to get six good results.
7. Don't make your ambitions too well known
During that fateful night in January, I discussed my plan with a few people on the same table. Imagine my horror when I spotted one of them was in my age category... Unfortunately, see point 5.
8. Get some encouragement
Negative feelings at the beginning of the year nearly saw me miss the "Sorbrook Challenge". Was amused to hear Julie say "not even my horse likes going up there", and then I received a series of encouraging messages from Katie and Jo before I thought "sod it". Done quite well in the end (even if I did walk some of the hilly bits! - Sorry Katie!)
8. Don't take your son along!
I realised at the end of the year that as my boy always beat me, I was always one point down - 6 points lost overall! He came 10th overall, higher than me, but then he's in the dreaded Male Senior <40 category, so didn't get a sausage.
So much thanks to Chris Matthews and all others involved in running the Club Championships. They go to help make two great Clubs ever better - and provide a wonderful opportunity for a night out at the end of January!