A big weekend for running was matched by some big performances from the various members of Almost Athletes, who represented the club brilliantly across the length and breadth of the country.
The main event was the 41st edition of the London Marathon, returning to the streets and crowds of the nation’s capital after last year’s virtual-only edition. 26 Almosts ran the main marathon, with some incredible performances, not least from Virginia Pawlyn who not only came first in her age category in a time of 5:11:44, but beat 10 of 11 of the male runners in that age bracket, and finished only a matter of seconds behind the male winner! An amazing athlete who continues to inspire us all.
There were also standout performances from Ela Antosiewicz who smashed her PB by a whopping 57 minutes, finishing in 4:04:22; and Steve Axford with an incredible 13 minute PB, crossing the line in 3:27:03. Claire Gallagher also recorded a PB in 5:13:17, while Peter Morris ran a fantastic first “proper” marathon in 4:00:01 (he has run an ultra before!).
Also representing the club on a fantastic day in London were Josh Hand, leading the club home in a fantastic time of 2:57:18; Matt Barnes (3:00:47); Amy Sheer (3:33:29); Kim Mansell (3:44:41); Miranda Foster (3:48:10); Amy Broomhall (4:03:11); Ivana Wilson (4:10:43); John Bailey (4:11:22); Karen Galpin (4:12:04); Michelle Balchin (4:12:22); Nikki White (4:15:25); Fiona Barnes (4:20:08); Alan Mullen (4:31:52); Sarah Wallbridge (4:41:53); Hayley Woolnough (4:55:31); Donna Evans (4:58:41); Helena Nilsson (5:05:15); Catrin Davies Perkins (5:13:34); Elspeth Haile (5:25:57); and Jayne Adams (5:31:36). Sympathies from all at the club go to Jeanette Gullick who bravely attempted the course despite suffering from a bad virus all week, but ultimately had to pull out after 18 miles. The good news is she is absolutely fine. It was also great to see a healthy contingent of purple cheering the runners on from the sidelines.
A virtual event was held at the same time as the main marathon, and the club were well represented in that as well, in various locations around Gloucestershire and beyond. There were PBs for Ben Stone (3:25:00), Marty Ward (4:33:10), Dave Mayo (5:28:20) and Iris Mayo (5:43:51); while Claire Hawes completed her first ever marathon in 5:45:45. Also finishing were Richard Knightley (3:47:02), Anne Casey (4:23:59), Prash Sripathi (4:50:34), and Janine Bennett (6:01:55).
London was by no means the only marathon in the country at the weekend, and Almosts also carried the flag at three other events. In the north of Scotland, Matt Proome (3:38:31), Ceinwein Davies (5:33:07), Sarah Fennell (6:16:27) and Rachael Nolan (6:44:24) all successfully avoided Nessie to complete the cold and wet Loch Ness Marathon; and on the Welsh border at Chester Sam Wizard completed his first marathon in 4:19:45, Coralie Pearson earned a huge PB in 4:23:31 and Gareth Wilkes (4:46:28) joined them in finishing the race. Marathon man Allan Green finished his 645th 26.2 event at the Windsor Trail marathon in 4:54.
For some people a marathon just isn’t long enough, and that was the case for Dave Johnson who finished the “beautifully brutal” North Coast 110km ultra in 24:03:24.
Zakia Hussain and Jason Hulance completed the Pretty Muddy 5k, run in support and in memory of family and friends who have suffered from cancer. They completed it with a friend, Emma Silsby, who herself is in remission from breast cancer. Fantastic to see.
There was also a significant purple presence more locally at the Berkeley 10k. Dunc Mounsor led the club home with a new PB in 42:53, closely followed by Dale Midwinter in 43:38 and Mike Kennedy in 43:48. Other Almosts completing the race were Neil Tring (45:44); Chris McMahon (49:51); Alison Hume (52:44); Kim Lewington (55:34); Lorraine Taylor (56:24) and Lynne Macedo (1:10:02).
At parkrun, Mike Johnson was first finisher at King George Playing Field in 20:02, and there was a PB for Graeme Stopp at Cheltenham in 24:11. The club were also represented at a further 19 events - Kingsway; Bedford; Cannon Hill, Birmingham; South Norwood; Gloucester North; Worcester Pitchcroft; Chester; Burgess; Crichton; Tewkesbury; Melksham; Gloucester City; Witney; Isabel Trail; Stratford Park, Stroud; Mallards Pike; Clevedon Salthouse Fields; Woodgate Valley Country Park; and, on the 17th birthday of parkrun, at the event where it began, Bushy Park in London, where Dave Nelson met the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewit.
Away from running, Simon Morgan and Helen McGuire completed a 5k swim at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham. Simon finished in 1:48, and Helen in 2:10 in cold conditions in the pool.
A weekend to remember for all involved. Congratulations to everyone.