Club Captains

Ladies Club Captain: Caroline Brock

Club Captain Caroline Brock heading for the finish line.

Our ladies Club Captain is Steel City Strider’s very own Queen of the Fells Caroline Brock and here we get the chance to learn what makes her tick.

Whilst it’s unwise to ask a woman her age, Caroline is currently an F35 so not really a veteran. Early experience of running was not encouraging having been coerced into cross country at school even though, although decent, she hated it. Now it is one of her favourite things to do! Later, running on a treadmill was a means to an end simply to keep fit but things began to get serious when she entered the Sheffield Half Marathon in 2013. Having got the running and racing bug her friend Doug convinced her that being in a club would be good for her running and that Striders was a great club.

Obviously training during Covid has been anything but normal but Caroline would usually expect to run about forty miles per week, longer if marathon training, including at least one speed session. This would be long reps for the marathon (this might be 5x1000m up to 3x2miles) or a track session plus the weekly long run (12-15 miles or more). Training is a mix of road and trail including a weekly easy off-road run to enjoy the views. Summer sees a weekly visit to a local fell race too. (Here Caroline is being modest for a visit to her wine cellar would see that it is well stocked with prizes earned on the fells. ed).

Caroline simply loves racing but favourites have to be the relays; road, fell, cross country, the Sheffield Way…. They’re a great day out and being part of a team can be a lot of fun, putting in a hard effort for the club, being able to cheer on your teammates and getting the encouragement back too. The Sheffield Way buffet is reward in itself. The Grindleford Gallop has to be on the list too because it’s such a brilliant local race and the weather is always a treat.

Even though fell races are not included, Caroline’s Power of Ten shows superb improvement since 2013. London Marathon 2019 is her personal favourite as training had been consistent and the best ever in the run up to a marathon, feeling focussed and in control and on the day. After some awful marathon experiences, finally running the time that she knew that she was capable of felt amazing.

The worst of those awful experiences was perhaps Rotterdam 2018. After training through a hard winter, it turned out to be warm on race day. Collapsing just when the race should be starting at mile twenty Caroline got a lift to the finish on the back of a quad bike although pace had been fairly consistent up to that point. The issue wasn’t the training but problems coping with warmer weather and an inability to take that into consideration and slow down a little. Parents had always said that their daughter was stubborn; worthy traits in an endurance athlete but not knowing when to stop and simply running to exhaustion can have unpleasant consequences. However, lessons learned and all that winter’s training was put to good use with a great summer of racing and lots of fun before taking stock to have another go at the marathon the following spring.

Ambitions include an aim to keep running as well as possible for as long as possible and also nailing a sub three marathon one day. If you have ever seen Caroline race you will know that this should not be an issue.

Club Captain is a new role which Caroline sees evolving, being adapted to take note of what her clubmates think the role should be. An important task will involve working with the other club members who work hard behind the scenes to get teams together for events then shouting at everyone to do as they are told on the day! As racing starts up again and we can all train together once more an objective is to make Steel City Striders the best club in South Yorkshire!

And in answer to the real question its beer, especially after a race.


Men’s Club Captain Ben Jones

Men’s club captain Ben Jones fully extending himself

Following his recent appointment as one of our club captains we took the opportunity to (virtually) interview Ben.

Absolute value according Power of Ten in conjunction with IAAF tables puts Ben’s Half Marathon pb of 77.26 run on the Isle of Anglesey in 2019 as his best ever performance. Ben admits that, like any egotistical runner, he does spend too much time reliving successes (and stalking rivals…) on Power of 10 but he’s quite proud of some of those that don’t feature. Winning the Striders trail series a few years ago required some really hard graft and crafty racing whilst he also dines out with his brother out on their three Round Sheffield Run leg 11 sprint stage victories.

Ben did a bit of running as a kid representing his (relatively) small school in competitions but it wasn’t until he fully gave up swimming (rivals in the pool were increasingly dwarfing him by height and shoulder width) in place of running when finishing University here in Sheffield. Joining Striders in 2013 he confesses that this was shamelessly in search of access to local races and entry discount but was sucked in by the support and encouragement of the club. His improving race results certainly demonstrate the worth of joining a decent running club.

Favourite events are high-summers trail race like Pilsley whilst he has a soft spot for The Grenoside Chase; post-race chips, a vocal crowd of ‘supportive’ locals and a small field that’s given him the chance to win a couple of times but really it is The National XC. Nothing comes close to it.

All this success comes at a price and Ben is still haunted by school sports day in 2006. Having run the 400m maybe 20 minutes before he naively assumed that he would recover but got out-kicked in a race that he was favourite for… and he’s still not over it. He tells his Year 5 class that our failures are a chance to learn but, as we can see, he’s stewed on that one for a while. Nowadays he tries to limit himself to the moment that he’s out of the shower post-poor race to stop the self-flagellation as it’s only running! A beer, a hop-filled IPA with a ridiculous name please like ‘Runners Knee’ or ‘Lactic Overload’, usually helps to put things into perspective. (Or any old fizzy pop if overseas).

Nevertheless, Ben still wants to shed 15 seconds somewhere so that he can round his 10k pb rounds to thirty to the nearest ten rather than forty. (i.e. he wants to break 35 minutes for 10k).

Ben sees the role of Club Captain as wide-ranging needing to advise, support and galvanise, encouraging, tempt, nag, prod and tickle striders to get signed up for club events. Some of his proudest memories as a Strider have come from relays (qualifying the men’s and women’s teams for the National Road Relays in particular) and days out for the big XC events so he will support them. He promises to spend hours in confinement each year using an abacus, tea leaves and a large hadron collider to work out the permutations and possibilities for the Sheffield Way Relay team…

Ben’s ideal is that Steel City Striders should absolutely have teams in every competition that it can. A big club like ours should feel confident to don the vest over fell, trail, mud, road or track. So, let’s see buses full of runners to en route Mansfield, Birkenhead, Sutton Park etc…

Ben said “One our challenges is that we have a geographic spread across the city of the ‘quicker’ runners. It would be lovely to see as many as possible working together and spurring on either through club nights or group runs. Realistically, quite a number of our faster male runners have sought pastures new recently so it’s exciting to see who steps up to fill some big carbon-plated shoes…”

The club has a large number of run leaders and experienced coaches only too willing to help you to achieve your goals.

Ben also admits that our new Chairman Stuart Jones is his father so when he rings you up asking you to race you’d better take notice.