The big draw for Almost Athletes this week was the annual Cheltenham Three Peaks Challenge, organised in aid of St Vincent’s and St George’s Association. The event drew a number of running and walking Almosts to complete the challenging 22-mile route through Gloucestershire’s most picturesque landscapes, tackling the three highest peaks in the county and around 3,000 feet of ascent up Cleeve, Crickley and Leckhampton hills enroute. First home overall, powering home in a very impressive time of 3:52, was Shaun Carr. Graeme Stopp and Forrest Wheeler completed a rare 1-2-3 for the club. Other members participating included Desiree Beer, Deb Cartlidge, David Chittock, Rob Cleaver, Cat Daly, Matt Hampton, Catherine Mason, Eddie Munro, new member Bill Schindler, Julie Scourfield and Bob Spawton.
Further south club mascot Archie’s choice of companions for Race to the King, a 53-mile ultra starting at Goodwood racecourse and following the South Downs Way to Winchester Cathedral, were Francis Bull and Claire ‘Bear’ Gallagher. After a Herculean effort both Francis and Claire (and Archie!) successfully completed their weekend ultra challenge in 30:14:45 and 30:29:03 respectively (N.B. unadjusted times).
Close by the ever-busy Karla Cleverley took part in the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Hampshire, an undulating trail event on the Matterley Estate in the South Downs National Park, which takes in the quaint villages of Tichbourne and Cheriton, winding trails past the River Itchen and passes through woodland on the way back to Cheesefoot Head. Karla completed the middle-distance option in 2:24:22.
Julianne Jameson and Jackie Slaughter took on the 6th Hampshire Hoppit trail marathon, a lumpy race in Kingsclere, Hampshire with a hilly sting in the tail at mile 25, coming home in 5:19:31 and 5:46:36 respectively. They were rewarded for their endeavours with a souvenir glass and bottle of Hoppit ale.
Also flying the AA flag at the Alresford 10k in Hampshire was Felicity Read, who knocked almost a minute off her PB to finish in 56:40, despite the hilly out-and-back course. Felicity enjoyed the run, particularly the edible finishers’ medal.
Christopher Benjamin continued his quest to notch up one hundred half marathons, completing the Green Lantern Trail, his 86th at the distance. This self-navigated event raises funds for FORCE cancer counselling at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital and involves 14.2 miles following the Green Circle clockwise around Exeter on a mix of trails, meadows, playing fields and flatlands running alongside the river Exe through Ludwell Valley, Hoopern Valley, Redhills and Mincing Lake Country Park and linking the city’s industrial heritage with some of Devon’s most inspiring natural surroundings. Clearly inspired by the surroundings, Christopher had quite the adventure, taking three wrong turns in the torrential rain and clocking up an additional four miles for a 3:20:22 finish.
Closer to home, on Monday evening Karla Cleverley, Kev Fairs - with Archie, fresh from his efforts at Race to the King ultra at the weekend - and Cos Pearson welcomed the first day of summer by taking on the May Hill Summer Solstice run, a six-mile trail run through Gloucestershire woodland taking in wide-ranging views from the top of May Hill.
Continuing at pace with preparations for her autumn Ironman, Hannah Brown completed the Outlaw 70.3 triathlon in Nottingham in 6:41:39, winning the award for most exuberant finishers’ photo in the process. Earlier in the week Jamie Courtenay (1:02:56), Steve Yarnold (1:22:35) and Adrian Courtenay (1:29:40) participated in the shorter Lake 62 sprint triathlon at South Cerney, enjoying perfect conditions in the water.