Interviews with RRC members
An interview with RRCS Ironman in the making - Carl Hopkinson:

Q. How did you first get into running?
A. I started to go to the gym to get fit with some running on the treadmill. I watched the Lanzarote Ironman on holiday for my 40th birthday, this inspired me to try and do an Ironman for my 50th, so I needed to start running. When I thought my running was OK I ran the Derby 10k which I enjoyed. A month later I joined the running club.

Q. Some stats?
A. 5k Chesterfield NWITP 21:58, 10k Wilne 2013 46:26, Robin Hood Half 2013 1:36:45, Yorkshire Marathon 2015 3:41:04.

Q. What has been your proudest achievement to date?
A. The Yorkshire Marathon October 2015. After a bad illness set my training back in July I achieved a PB of 3:41:04.

Q. What does it mean to you to be part of a running club/running community?
A. This helps me with confidence, friendship, motivation and some good weekends away in Wales and the Lake District.

Q. What are your future running goals?
A. 1 Year – Run Snowdon Mountain race, improve on Marathon and Half Marathon times and run plenty of fell races. 3 years - Carry on improving and complete an Ironman. 10 Years – Complete a good distance Ultra.

Q. What kind of cross training/other sports do you do?
A. Triathlon – So swimming and cycling, and gym work.

Q. What is your typical running week?
A. Club run on Tuesday, intervals on Thursday, long run between 9-18 miles and a short run between 3-6 miles either Wednesday or Friday.

Q. Heroes?
A. Paula Radcliffe, Richard Whitehead, Chrissie Wellington and many others.

Q. Best advice for first time runners?
A. Build up slowly. Do not despair when everyone speeds off, we all start at the back. Keep at it and you will see results.

Q. Away from sport what are you other interests/hobbies?
A. Art – Drawing + Painting. Music – Heavy metal and Gothic metal. Restoring classic cars and motorbikes.

An interview with RRC’s downhill running specialist Alison Butlin November 2015

1. How long have you been a member of Ripley Running Club and what got you interested in running in the first place?

I joined in November 2012, so I’ve been a member for 3 years now. I’ve always enjoyed sport, trying different things over the years, from competitive swimming, netball, hockey, and triathlons. I’ve always enjoyed doing a bit of running/jogging for fitness but I wanted to focus more on this in order to improve my triathlon performance. Since I started running though, triathlons have taken a back step as I’ve been more interested in running – there are an endless number of different events to try from road, cross country, trail, and fell, 5k to marathon and even ultras, friendly local races, away runs and national events - and then you have to do them all again to see if you can beat your time – it really is addictive!

2. Some stats –

5k pb 24.58 Newstead Abbey 2009
10k pb 50.30 Wilne 2014
Half marathon pb 1.54.19 Conwy 2014
Marathon pb 5.13.35 Snowdon 2015

3. What has been your proudest running achievement to date?

The club has a 5 mile timed handicap route each month, during the winter season. When I first joined the club I used this as an opportunity to monitor how I was improving. I achieved a string of 10 consecutive handicap pb’s, shaving a total of 11 minutes off my time. This is something for which I am very proud and my achievement was recognised by the club who presented me with an award for my efforts.

4. Favourite race, and why?

I was tempted to say the Bakewell Pudding Race because I love fell running, especially so when there is a Bakewell pudding waiting at the end as a reward for all finishers. There is also a river crossing which adds a bit of excitement for both runners and spectators! Castleton Fell Race is also one of my favourites as it takes in some amazing views across the Peak District and has a tricky descent back down to the village. Fell races are usually inexpensive and have the best views out of all the races I have completed in so they are all pretty fantastic races.

However, it always feels good to complete the most difficult races and Snowdon Mountain Race is one of those. This is a ten-mile endurance event, from Llanberis to the peak of Mount Snowdon. It is five miles up the Llanberis Path to the summit (1,085 metres above sea level) and then back down. I competed in 2014 but the race was shortened due to stormy weather. That meant that myself, along with a few others, had to go back again this year to attempt it for the second time. However as this year was the races’ 40th year anniversary, the route was extended into the village, making it slightly longer than the standard distance. Therefore we’re heading back again in 2016 so that we can finally complete the standard race distance. Third time lucky, we hope.

5. After your recent marathon run in Snowdonia this year, will we be expecting you on the start line next year?

Definitely, without hesitation! As some club members will already know I had a bout of food poisoning the day before the Snowdon Marathon this year (the dangers of eating raw coconut!). This left me in bed all day and sick during the night. But never the less, not one to put all my hard training to waste, I got up and suffered through to complete the race. I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I am now eager to get out there and do it again to see how much better I can do when I’m fit and well. Karl Tietz is celebrating his 60th birthday at the Snowdon Marathon next year, so there will be lots of us competing and helping him celebrate. It’s also such a beautiful route around mount Snowdon, and I’m looking forward to it.

6. Do you cross train/other sports?

I do enjoy combining training with other sports such as swimming, pilates, body pump, cycling. It’s important to have a strong core for running and cross training helps with this, as well as improving strength and flexibility.

7. Who inspires you?

The older members of the club inspire me as well as those older runners we often see at races. They are so fit and healthy and are still running at a competitive level, evening winning their age groups. Eleanor Robinson is especially inspirational with her history of records and achievements. To still be able to run in my sixties and older is something that I hope I will also be able to do.

8. Any secret tips for downhill running or is it just a natural ability?

When I first started running I struggled to run downhill as I’d had some knee problems. I was given some stretching exercises and was shown a forefoot running technique by a very good physiotherapist at Ripley Hospital. I also remember being given some advice from Dennis Holmes on the way up to complete my first fell race - Castleton Fell Race. He said to lean forward and never go onto your heels. So I was given some very good advice from the start and I have built on this and taken advice from other runners at the club. I think downhill running uses instinct and natural ability, but the technique can be learnt. Top tips include:

Look a short distance ahead and plan your steps (how far ahead depends on your speed and the terrain)
Lean forward
Use arms for balance
Land on forefoot
Keep ankles strong
Stay well balanced
Run at a pace that is comfortable for you
Stay in control of pace to suit conditions
Shorten steps to control speed
Be prepared for a quick footwork correction if needed
Always be cautious of divots or slippery ground
Be safe, have fun and enjoy!

I’m not sure if the above is the correct technique but it seems to work for me. I love running downhill!

9. Future running goals/ ambitions?

I am determined to complete another marathon. I would also like to improve on all of my pbs. I would like to do more fell races next year, including an off road half or full marathon. I would also like to do some aquathlons.

10. Away from running what are your other interests/hobbies?

As well as the cross training, I do a bit of Salsa dancing, play golf and like to have a skiing holiday. During the summer I enjoy camping and go to the odd music festival and do a bit of wild swimming.


1) How did you first get into running?

I was always a very active child and as a post -war baby I spent most of my time playing outside with the other children. Lots of team games, races, sports etc so when my eldest brother joined Middlesbrough and Cleveland Harriers I couldn't wait to join too. I had to wait until I was 14yrs old and then was limited to 150yd sprint. When I got to 15yrs I was classed as a senior and could run 1ml on the track and 2 1/2 mls road or xc. I actually represented M'bro' schools at the Yorks schools champs at 150yds but when I discovered that there was an 880yd event I persuaded my teachers to let me have a go at that and made the Yorks schools team at the English Schools champs. I had greater success at xc ( probably due to the longer distance) and represented the North of England as a 16yr old in the National xc champs. I have competed for Yorks., NE, Cumbria, Notts
and Derbys. at track, road and xc; north of Eng at xc and 1/2m. England at vets xc and GB at 100km and 24hrs. 2015 saw me compete for the GB age group team at Duathlon in the European champs.
I have been training since I was 14yrs old and apart from about a 7yr gap when I had my children have been ever since. I started running again just before the 'jogging boom' of the 80s hit Britain so I was then able to compete in marathon events. My first marathon was run on the M6 before it was opened to traffic and I ran 3hrs 24 never having run further than 11mls in training. Once my youngest started school I was able to train properly I then ran under 3hrs and was never slower than that until I was 52yrs.

2) Pbs. 10km 35-52 I never ran many 10kms in my 30/40s as it wasn't a popular distance and my pb was set as a 50yr old which was then the GB LV50 record.10mls 57mins. I raced a lot of 10mlers and was rarely over the hour.

1/2m. 1Hr 17 I was 45+ then and running for the North at the Bath 1/2m. There were a lot of representative events around which meant you were able to race the best in the country regularly at track, road and xc.

Marathon 2hrs 45. I think it was set in the 1990 London marathon where I had a championship entry. I was by then concentrating on ultras and used marathons as training and ran as many as I could; often back to back. I was v. consistent and would nearly always run between 2hrs 52-54

50mls This was one of my first world records ( I set 3 in the same 12hr event ) but can't remember the time.

100mls Again, I never ran a 100ml race but set my record during a 24hr race 14hrs+ 6 Days These races were v. popular in the 80s and I started my ultra career with 6 Day running. I had the world record with 553mls ( I think!)

1000mls 13days 1hr 54mins 02 secs. World record still standing.

At one time I held over 40 world records ranging from 20mls on the track (set during a

100km race) to 1000mls on the road. I still hold world records from 6 days+ and several GB records.

3) Greatest Running Achievement

I rate the 1000ml as this as not only was it run on a track but it was held in Queensland Australia in Feb in temperatures of 40C. ; the worst possible conditions. Also, I got a stress fracture of my shin at 894mls. and ran the final day in agony. Having run 894mls nothing was going to stop me from finishing. It had been such a horrific race I had no intention of doing it again. I was in a dreadful physical state by the finish.

The Death Valley Challenge ranks very close but at 'only' 160mls it didn't represent the same monumental challenge. It also involved running through Death Valley at the most difficult time ie July/August and the race went from the lowest point in USA to the highest which was the top of Mt.Whitney. From 200ft below sea level to over 14,000ft

I also won 6 world titles------- 100km (twice), 24hrs, 48hrs, 6 Days and 1000mls.

4) Favourite Race.

I always enjoyed most the point-point races ie Sydney- Melbourne, Vienna-Budapest, Cork-Dublin The Spartathlon , the Round Britain 1000ml. Mentally they were much easier to deal with than running for days on a track.

5) Do you cross train/ other sports?

I never did anything other than run. I never had the time. I had children and a job and had to fit in 100mls+ weekly training. Now I do a lot of cycling and enjoy touring on my bike. I also discovered duathlons last year and following my selection for the GB age group team have started training seriously again!!!!!!!

6) Pre-race tips.

Preparation is everything so if that has gone well that is as much as you can do. Everyone tells you to enjoy the event but in my experience there is rarely anything enjoyable about pushing yourself to the limit. The enjoyment comes once you have achieved your goal.

7) Who inspires You?

Any one who has fought to overcome obstacles.

8) Favourite Quote

If it is easy it isn't worth anything.

Fail to prepare , prepare to fail.

9) Other interests/hobbies

I am heavily involved in my local Methodist Church. I have an allotment and grow a lot of my own food. I like classical music and ballet and most crafts. I do a lot of sewing and machine knitting mainly for my grand-children

10) Best Advice for first time runners.

Build up slowly.