Almost Athletes are delighted to announce we are now taking APPLICATIONS for NEW MEMBERS for this membership year (1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021).
Please click this link for instructions on how to join. Existing members are asked to wait for renewal. Thank you.
We pride ourselves on being the kind of club that can help and encourage you to get the most out of your running - whether your interest is running for fun, getting fit, or training for anything from a 5K race to a marathon or even an ultra. We can help you achieve your aims.
Anyone is welcome to come along to our training sessions and run, regardless of age or ability - we have groups for everyone so you don't have to run alone and you won't get left behind.
We organise evening runs and weekend runs - both on and off road - and training sessions. Come along on a Wednesday night and see for yourself!
Almost Athletes has been running since 1988, welcoming runners of all abilities and providing not only guided training runs but also a lively social calendar. With a current membership in excess of 400, Almost Athletes really is Cheltenham's biggest and friendliest running club!
The big event this weekend was the Cotswold Way Relay, back in the race calendar after a year’s hiatus. As well as running Leg 9, team captain Dave Chittock’s famed organisational and spreadsheet skills were put to good use again this year. The club fielded four teams for this 105 miles-in-one-day challenge:
Mixed Team 1 comprised Matt Proome, Ela Antosiewicz, Jo Foster, Amy Sheer, Shaun Carr, Richard Knightley, Richard Birch, Dave McGrath, Ian Coggin and Ivana Wilson. They finished in 23rd position (out of 50 mixed teams) in 16:44:05.
Mixed Team 4 fielded Jackie Slaughter, Mark Wreford-Bush, Ben Brewin, Lorraine Brinton, Liza Habgood, new member Issy Ravenhill, Sam Alexander, Kevin Dryburgh, Felicity Read and Dave Davey, one of the club’s four Kings of the Cotswolds. They finished in 33rd position in 17:56:07.
Mixed Team 2 was made up of Hester Coggin, Matt Hampton, Duncan Mounsor, Peter Morris, Michelle Balchin, Des Beer (the club’s only Queen of the Cotswolds), Ed Munro, Richard Bennett, Catherine Mason and Mike Kennedy. Their cumulative time in 37th position was 18:25:17.
Mixed Team 3 featured Thom Stephens, Danny Carroll, Hannah Brown, Andrew Wilkinson, Kirstie Hallam, Peter Mitchener, Vicky Kennedy, Steve Taylor, Dave Chittock and Laura Tring. They completed less than three minutes behind Team 2, finishing in 38th position in 18:28:02.
A big shout out to the numerous Almosts who generously volunteered their time as crossing marshals and tail runners and also kicked up a storm on the legendary Leg 3 water station.
Elsewhere Christopher Benjamin clocked up his 90th half marathon at the Birmingham Black Country half marathon on Saturday, leaving just ten to complete before his significant birthday in August. This event is a point-to-point race along the canal towpaths between Wolverhampton city centre and Brindley Place in Birmingham. Largely flat with locks and bridges the only inclines, the route features the 360-metre long Coseley Tunnel and floating drink stations. Christopher crossed the finish line in 2:05:32.
Putting the finishing touches to their Race to the Stones ultramarathon preparation were Cos Pearson and Karla Cleverley, who ran four laps of Bute Park at the Fix Events Conquer Cardiff half marathon. Cos finished in 2:02:31 and Karla in 3:08:17.
Further east, Martyn Fisher had an enjoyable morning out at the Outlaw Holkham half marathon, a lovely route in the grounds of Holkham Hall in Norfolk, on a mixture of tarmac paths and trail, with some long straights and a few undulations thrown in for good measure.
Jack Helliar took on the Welsh 3000s in Snowdonia, an event he has been training for over the past few months. The weather on Saturday was too bad for participants to do the first section of the event but nevertheless Jack conquered five peaks, covering a distance of 16.25km.
Supported by Lesley Cottle and her husband Alan, Claire Hawes - club chair - ran the virtual Exe Estuary half marathon along the South West Coast Path. Closer to home Mark Stojanov opted for The Great British Cake Off Virtual Challenge, running 7.5 miles – the furthest he has run this year – alongside the river around the villages of Apperley and Deerhurst.
At the Gloucester 10k and racing again just one day after completing Leg 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay, Ela Antosiewicz took advantage of the cool conditions to smash her PB by well over three minutes, finishing in 54:01. First Almost home was new member Thomas Yiend in 44:22, followed by Paul Warren in 46:36. Pete Blakeman took third in his age category for a 48:24 finish. Melissa Jonga completed in 56:01; Charmaine Brunt in 57:13 and newlywed Russell Jones in 57:43. Several club members gave up their Sunday morning to volunteer, handing out finish line goodies.
At the Greystones Farm Nature Reserve Swan Lake 10k, a new event near Bourton on the Water, a number of Almosts turned out to show their support for North Cotswolds Rotary and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, some running in torrential rain at the finish. Neil Tring was 13th overall and third in age category in a time of 57:06. Lorraine Taylor also bagged herself a top 20 spot, coming home in 19th position overall and second in age category in 1:01:39. Claire Hawes was next in 1:08:15, earning first place in her age category. Other finishers were Ceinwen Davies (1:14:04); Olly Nolan (1:19:02); Iris Mayo (1:19:03); Rachael Nolan (1:22:49) and Sarah Fennell (1:22:58).
Long-standing club member Glenda Gill didn’t so much dip a toe in the world of ultramarathons as dive right in, as she took on the Cotswold Way 100k Challenge, running 34 miles from Cirencester to Wotton under Edge via Painswick on Saturday and then a further 30 miles via Tetbury and Cirencester on Sunday. The 100k loop run double ultra included pretty villages, rolling hills and tough climbs. Running with her sister Nicola, Glen finished in a magnificent 7th place out of 81 lady finishers, completing the first stage in 8:59:09 and the second in 8:49:41.
Another long-distance fan, Mark Newton, completed the Black Mountains Ultra as part of his training for the Upton Ultra in July. Another 35 miles and 7,500 feet of elevation gain in the bag for Mark.
Forrest Wheeler continued his remarkable four-year journey from heart bypass surgery, via cake and dubious jokes, to his first official marathon, completing the Milton Keynes marathon in 5:30:43 with Archie the club mascot on board.
Christopher Benjamin, the man who must surely get the most value for money out of his EA affiliation fee, continued his quest to complete 100 half marathons by notching up a further three this week. From the legendary stadium finish of the Milton Keynes half on Saturday via his 88th in 2:01:53 at the National Trust Lacock half on Sunday to his 89th at the Greenway half in Stratford upon Avon on Wednesday. Keep going Christopher, your target is coming into view!
Sue Monaghan put her recent targeted off-road training to excellent use in the Round Sheffield 20k Run, a trail run completed in eleven stages in the hills and parks around Sheffield.
The club was well represented at Frampton 10k on Monday, where the cool evening conditions led to some impressive times and a handful of personal bests. Josh Hand was first home in 38:22 for a top 20 finish. Pushing each other all the way, Duncan Mounsor (42:27) came in just three seconds ahead of Peter Morris, who recorded 42:30 for fourth in category. Next in were Mark Wreford-Bush (43:47) and Richard Knightley (44:53), whose recent concentrated long-distance training resulted in new PBs for both. Steve Phelps (46:55) was followed by first Almost lady home, Michelle Balchin, who clocked 47:26 for fourth in category. Other finishers, many of whom are in heavy training for various long-distance challenges, were: Steve Taylor (47:50); Chris McMahon (48:46); Alan Mullen (49:23); Allan Green (50:45); David Chittock (50:57); Ali Shaikh (51:29); Cos Pearson (52:16) (PB); Catherine Mason (57:46); Charmaine Brunt (59:32); Kim Lewington (1:01:32); Darren Lewington (1:01:33); Jayne Murphy (1:02:11) and Karla Cleverley (1:11:15) (PB).
A group of Almosts, some of whom had been disappointed by the late cancellation of the Pendock Spring Chicken 10k, enjoyed the Malvern 10k trail race around the foothills of the Malvern Hills, another undulating course with some challenging sections. First home for the club was Mike Kennedy in 48:56. Ed Munro followed in 53:48 and David Garnett in 57:47. Scoring a memorable husband/wife double, first Almost lady home was Vicky Kennedy in 1:01:33. Hot on Vicky’s heels was the ever-improving Cos Pearson in 1:02:15. Other finishers were Pauline Bargus (1:08:37) (3rd in category); Wan Hartley (1:08:49); new member Kerry White (1:21:48); Karla Cleverley (1:25:38) and Julie Averiss (1:26:29).
A select group took on the Cotswold Women’s Only triathlon, an event which comes highly recommended. Helen Yarnold crushed the Sprint event in 1:55: 38. Setting herself a much shorter challenge than usual, Hannah Brown scored an impressive first in category and second overall in the Super Sprint, finishing in 54:47. Nat Stow completed the Novice edition in 1:00:21.
Further afield Ian Williams and Mike Daly competed in the traffic-free Bowood House triathlon in Calne, Wiltshire. Williams recorded 1:23:56 in the Sprint while Daly recorded 1:43:02.