Friday, 29 November 2013

"You don’t have to be an adult to run cross country!"

Simply Sports has interviewed Reigate Priory Holly Run Race Director Donna Barrington-Smith, who is “Volunteer of the Year 2013” in Reigate & Banstead Sports Council. She explains the news of this year, gives us advice about the race and invites us participate in this traditional course, organised by Reigate Priory AC and sponsored by Simply Sports, which will take place on Sunday 15th. December.

Donna Barrington-Smith, "Volunteer 2013".
- How do you prepare for this event?

This is my first year as a race director; for a few years I was Chief Timekeeper, and I’ve been a course marshal on many occasions too. The handover from the 2012 race director to me started before the 2012 Holly Run, then at the beginning of 2013 I started attending “RPAC Race Director” Meetings each month as we also run a Summer 10k in July and a Cross Country Relay race in November. This meeting entailed each of us discussing what we had done, what we had to do and offering assistance and advice to each other. A fantastic learning curve in the art of managing road and cross country races for me! Once the date (Sunday 15 December 2013) had been agreed by the RPAC committee and Park Manager at the Priory Park, Reigate were happy too, then we were able to book the Red Cross and start making contact with other parties involved, like the medal engravers (£5 on the day) and our sponsors, Simply Sports.

- Which is the news this year?

The news for 2013 is a NEW longer circuit for the Women of 3.6 miles at 12.55pm.

- Why is longer the race (5,8 kilometres) for ladies this year?

This year RPAC are introducing a new course for the women. When I took over as Race Director I heard that the entrants in the women’s race had started to drop. To find out why, I asked a number of club and non club runners on their thoughts, and their response was that they wanted to run longer than 3 miles and didn’t like the very steep hill that they had to run down – it’s nick named, “Breakneck”! Therefore I have devised a new course which is 3.6 miles (5.8 km) long and goes UP the hill instead of down...  I’m looking forward to hearing feedback!

- Will it be a hard or complicated the circuit?

The ladies course, as with our other HOLLY RUN routes, will be well marshalled and sign posted. The park can get very muddy when the weather is constantly wet, and this is a real cross country course – there are over hanging trees, tree roots, mud, rubble, sand, tarmac, grass, up hills and down hills... A challenge, I’d like to call it!!

- How many runners do you expect this year?

Throughout the eight races we expect between 400-600 runners.

The race will take place on Sunday 15th.

- Why do you consider The Holly Run is a race for the whole family?

You don’t have to be an adult to run cross country! Many of the local schools encourage their children from the age of 9/10 to run, so we have a course especially for the Under 11s (minimum age of 8 years on race day). There are then races for Under 13s, Under 15s, Under 17s and older. Races for the 8s to 88s – the whole family!

- Why do you think that the Priory Park is a good place to celebrate this cross country race?

Priory Park is simply delightful! It is well maintained, offers a real mix of terrains for walking and running, and throughout the year is used for many other wonderful outdoor community events. For non runners, there’s the cafe, excellent children’s playground, tennis courts, football pitches, skate park – and all within minutes’ walk of the Reigate shops...  The road and train routes are also excellent.

- What are your recommendations to complete the race?

For first time runners of the Holly Run or those who are unfamiliar with the course, I’d say make sure you leave enough time to walk the course prior to your race starting (the maps are online). You’ll see where the ups and downs are, where you’ll need to push yourself and where you can relax during the run.  Make sure you are around the start line at least 5 minutes before the race starts and make sure you keep warm! Be prepared for the terrain and the weather. It does get muddy and can be icy with the mud becoming solid. This is a course of laps, so also be aware of runners who are either faster or slower than you are, so that everyone has an enjoyable race.

Donna Barrington-Smith, Reigate Priory Holly Run RACE DIRECTOR
Reigate & Banstead Sports Council “Volunteer of the Year 2013”
UK:Athletics Official – Timekeeper, Photofinish Judge, Endurance


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

No Hiding Place

As our cricketers embark on another Ashes series down under it is worth reflecting on the unique nature of this team sport where individual success and failure is so exposed.

Can there be another team sport where an individual is targeted over such a prolonged period and where failure can be so cruelly exploited?

For the batsman who has his technique analysed by coaches and computers to spot the flaw to bowlers who have their bowling figures analysed to the nth degree this really can be a brutal sport.

                                                           Clarke and Cook (

When you walk out to bat and walk back again without helping your team, when the Captain has to take you off from bowling because the opposition have taken a liking to your efforts to the loneliness in the field when you have dropped a dolly, those that have played have all been there and in the professional game it must be 10 times worse.

So as we sit back and watch how this new series unfolds we should reflect that not only is skill a defining element required but a mental toughness like no other is as well.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Be seen. Be safe

As well as being effective and fun training needs to be safe.

Whilst trying to get the most out of the light evenings it is easy to get caught out too far from home before night falls. Our tried and tested safety tips are:

Carry a small LED with you red or white, they are a great way to ensure you are seen.

Face the oncoming traffic (unless on a blind bend).


Wear bright clothing with reflective strips.

Stay on a route that has street lighting.

Carry some ID, if you are going to carry your phone make sure you have ICE (in case of emergency) in your contacts.

and finally...

Find someone to run with. What better way to do that than join our friendly running club? We hold this on a Thursday morning leaving the Reigate shop at 9:30 AM.

                 By Steve Young (Forever Young)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility

At a time when corporate Britain has taken a bit of a bashing, especially after the Banks, Energy companies and Newspapers have been hauled up before the Commons select committee's the consumer could be forgiven for thinking that business is all bad and self centred and in some cases they might be correct.

The figures speak for themselves, corporate giving has fallen by an estimated 27% over the last two years according to a new report by the Directory of Social Change. Companies accounted for only 2% of all UK giving in a period covered by the report. This does of course not take into account the paid time given to staff by many companies for voluntary and charitable work. 

It is not surprising therefore that this trend has been noticed by consumers where according to a survey commissioned by fundraising platform Give as You Live, 87% of consumers think retailers don't do enough to support good causes. There are though exceptions to the rule.

Simply Sports launched a Loyalty Card charity scheme on the 10/10/2010 and since then have donated 1% of all monies spent by our card holders to a selection of charities. For December this year we are doubling that donation to 2%.  

The current six permanent charities are Breast Cancer Care, The Alzheimer's Society, Macmillan Cancer Support, Help For Heroes, The Orpheus Centre in Godstone and the Children's Trust in Tadworth. As well as these six good causes we also have a Guest Charity which changes every 3 months. So far these have included, Ovarian Cancer Action, Working Hands, Tommy's, Disability Challengers, Metro and Enable Ethiopia.

If you help run a charity or raise funds for one please let us know and we may be able to make your charity our Guest charity for a period of three months.
In the meantime we at Simply Sports will continue to do our little bit and would ask this, what would happen if every company in the UK donated 1% of its turn over to charity?