VR250 Blackcap Handicap - Individual and team results

(July 05, 2020)

09:00 Monday

The races are run, the curtain has fallen, the final times were confirmed (this morning) so its time to publish the outcomes. ESPR reporter and timekeeper have sobered up and emerged from their blue funk of frustration.  A full spreadsheet is uploaded here (may be delayed beyond this newspost).

61 Harriers braved a windy weekend on the Downs.  49 of you managed to make it onto the Strava Leaderboard and only a small number of Strava users needed to be poked into ajdusting their privacy settings so we could capture the info easily. 4 people had a variety of GPS tracking issues that we were able to deal with.  8 of you flaunted the Rules declined to use Strava based timing which consumed a disproportionate amount of ESPR's valuable drinking time....

Individual Competitions

We are please to report that first over the handicap line was Carys Hind, closely followed by Linda Tullet, just 4 seconds back with Liz Earley, retruning from injury a further 3 minutes down.  First male in the Handicap stakes was Carl Bicknell, closely followed by Harvey Alcock and Tim Miller.

In terms of "speed over the ground" Chris Smith took the lead with a frighteningly fast 28:47 and Ben Gibson on 29:30 and James Collins on 30:03.  The wind probably contributed to Ben's time dropping below his 2018 best, but he was relatively closer to Chris than he was on leg of the SDWR.  Jamie took the family honours in the Handicap Stakes.  For the Ladies, Shiv Amer managed to hold off a fast finishing Kim lo by 4 seconds in a  time of 36:15 ahead of a very sprightly run from Lins Blain.

In terms of history this was probably the largest Handicap turnout for Harriers and the wind probably conspired gainst runners' times and thus Adrian Jowett's 1989 time of 28:31 stands as the fastest.

Age-grading is of somewhat dubious value given terrain and conditions however, Chris Smith topped the list ahead of Tim Hicks and Marion Hemsworth.  As Chris ages he may find these statistics of more interest....

Team Competition

In the "Team Handicap"  the Under Eighteams came in first just 5:55 down on overall target.  We hope this isn't an unfair result as we chose to "triple count" the runners as they were unable to field 6 different runners.  Second place, and perhaps first "full team were the Hind Legs 6:33 down on collective target a further 1:24 down. We gave an unwell runner in the CSL team an "average to target" time to keep CSL in the team competition.

In terms of "speed over the ground" the Men Behaving Badly team were fastest in 3:36:16.

The keenly awaited results of the "team age grading" competition can now also be revealed.......Mme Chair, having rigged the selection to get 5 runners over 70% took the Hind Legs into pole position with an average of 66.9% with the Rockets 0.01% ahead of the Goats in 2nd and third places

Handicappers competition

Collectively runners times were, on average 5.3% down on target - just over 2 minutes based on the average time run (which varied from just under 29 minutes to just under 58 minutes.  Wind probably contributed to part of this and some overoptimism on behalf of the Handicappers.  In terms of spread - we got 50/61 in a band of 4 minutes : the other 11 outliers (high and low) are probably due to a variety of causes : performance on the day, high performance in the run up to the event, lack of recent races to judge from.  Those who did great times at the recent  BH 5K VR were probably most impacted.

Disputes can only be settled in the Lockheart or Standup.

Other Comments

The principle of a Handicap race is that runners are started in a manner so as to aim for blanket "dead heat" for all participants.  So it is of no surprise that there were several:
Tim Stannard and Shiv Amer
Lydia Levy & Chris Russell
Sarah Banks & Mike Essex
Ben Gibson & James Collins
Julian Boyer & Kai Robinson - with Matt King 1s further back
Michael Burke & James Smyth

Some other close finishes included Paul Turner pipping Shelagh Robinson by just 1 second; and Rob Watts besting Tommy Tomkins by a wole second but failing to catch Richard Bates by a similar amount

Family gallantry award probably doesn't go to Matt King who took 3s off his wife in the final sprint...

Of course due to the rules of Virtual Races - none of the baove was known to the participants at the time!

Once again, no-one ran on their birthday.  We hope you found the probability question a useful way to pass the time waiting for results.  Unfortunately it didn't occupy the Treasurer for as long as I  (or his wife) hoped.  His answer was there to enlighten you all.


Tables and data

Handicap result

Age Grading



Team Event


Handicap-actual performance distribution by 2%pt band (avg +5.3%)


Pevious text


18:00 Sunday

Just 6 times remain to be made available to EPSR, whose reporter has had a torrid Sunday afternoon herding the cats (sorry Captains) into alignment on "how to deal with runners who don't use Strava....".  The adjudicator was half inclined to disqualify everyone who didn't.....

Some runners have reported a "Gate to gate" elapsed time and not allowed Strava to calculate the Segment time.  We have agreed (in absence of a GPS track or other information) to take the average speed over 8270m and deduct 150m time from the "gate to gate" time manually.

In the individual Handicap competition, the top of the leaderboard remains unchanged.  As indeed does the top of the Age Grading leaderboard.

In the team event 7/11 teams have completed.  (We averaged CSL teams 5 runners' "overage" to estaimated their unwell 6th runner).  Under Eighteam look untouchable, however it is not impossible that the Hind Legs could be caught. 

08:30 Sunday

Quiet on the Downs yesterday evening so just a few extra results in.  Wise heads avoiding the wind I think - some took a look and went home! A couple of times are "non-strava" so will want further verification.

Individually, Linda Tullett just failed to reel in Carys, James Collins put together a fast run in adverse conditions.  Oh and the Grumpiest of them all took his harem out to open gates (what do they see in him).

Team wise - no real change......we await the denouement.

09:30 Saturday


In true Fleet St style El Presidente Sports Reporting has set the wine bottles aside and reviewed the overnight late evening/early morning efforts from the hardy Harriers into the strong winds and rain that have been battering the Downs...


We now have 41 (of 62) runs completed and Carys Hind has leap-frogged Liz Earley to take a fine lead in the Handicap Stakes.  Kim Lo holds 3rd place with Carl Bicknell and Harvey Alcock also sub-par.  Harvey's run puts him 8th on a fastest time basis - excellent for an U18.


Chris Smiths outstanding time of 28:47 has now been validated - just 16 seconds off Adrian Jowett's all-time record of 28:31 set way back in 1989.  Not on Strava - but probably before the founders were born!


In the Age grading, we see that run from Chris displace Tim Hicks into second place.


As for the teams....  It's hard to tell where the eventual winner will come from.  However, with just "the legend" to run, the Hind Legs are only 2:18 down on target with the Grumpies, Goats and Badly Behaved Men 5-6 minutes further back.  Second place "in the Clubhouse" are the Rockets, behind the Under Eighteams  (we counted Kai and Harvey's runs 3 times over to keep them in the team competition).


The Handicappers' performance is also under review and a fuller report will follow.  However, early analysis shows a degree of optimism on their behalf.  see chart.  Of course they are blaming runners for either hiding their true potential or stopping for sandwiches on the way.....


Lets see what the day brings


15:00 Friday

33 Harriers done (excluding the purported speedy run by Chris Smith).  Liz Earley remains in the lead on handicap ahead of Tim Miller and Matt Howells.  There have been several great runs from individuals getting very close to Handicap.  In the "Battle of the Gibsons" it seems Jamie & Hannah have conspired to leave Ben way back on his handicap......

On Age-Grading Tim Hicks has shown his class...

In the team event it's hard to tell who's in the lead. Goats, Grumpies and Rockets have all completed 5 legs and the Grumpies hold a 30s advantage over the Goats with the Rockets a further 90s back (all vs Targets).  Can the Grumpies Captain hold off the mighty challenges of Matt King & Kim Lo...or will it be another Liverpool collapse at the Etihad?  Are his team primed for gate opening duty, obstruction etc?

Will the Tortoises stop snoozing in the hay?

08:40 Friday.  Lots of larks out on the Downs this morning.  Ben Gibson posts a very speedy time, but Liz Earley, having kept her powder dry in the early VR series, has been the first sub-target.....more to follow

in the team competition...the goats are nearly done

21:40 Thursday... In the summer gloaming on the Downs a pair of Grumpies completed 2 very good runs close to handicap.  It seems their cheerleader-in-chief may have been installing skilifts at the bottom of hills and roller-karts at the top....but there is no evidence....unless other teams have spies out!

Meanwhile - a challenge for James Smyth's maths group and our treasurer:  of "62 random runners is it statistically anomalous that 2 pairs will share birthdays as well as one triplet of individuals"....Answers to the Treasurer.

14:30 Thursday


The Handicappers have gone into hiding, or at least are keeping a high speed getaway vehicle close to hand.  A strong WSW wind means that many racers have decided to keep their Vaporflys dry.  Nevertheless the first 5 racers braved Downs this morning. With a strong wind at their backs on the out leg, it meant kite-surfing was the best means of travel...but on the return - a low crouch to stay in the boundary layer was the best strategy.


As expected in these conditions times were challenging -Russ Mullen pulled a strong run out but Matt Howells tops the handicap board just 10s down on target.


In the team event.  Well MBB have heard the pubs are opening so obviously have a strategy of ignoring the weather and getting the runs done while sober.



This is a placeholder for results as and when they come in and "El Presidente Sports Reporting" inclines to add comments about the outstanding / woeful efforts that are observed.

See separate News item for individual and team targets

Watch this space

Click here to return to the News page