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We are always looking for news, results and race stories for our weekly Echo report. Please tell us about your experiences, results, personal best times achieved, worst nightmare races etc by emailing almostathletes@hotmail.com - if you don't tell us about it, we can't report it!. We can't guarantee that all information supplied will go in as the Echo have full editorial control, but we will do our best.

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Josh Hand - Winner of Dymock Half Marathon

Josh Hand - Winner of Dymock Half Marathon

Almost Athletes shone at a number of events over the weekend. At a very warm Dymock half marathon - the fourth event in the club’s road race series – Josh Hand won the race by a healthy margin of almost three minutes in 1:25:11 and Katie Coleman was first woman and seventh overall in 1:36:53. Louise Horner-Baggs (1:46:19) and Lesley Cottle (2:03:05, 1st in category) joined Katie in scooping the women’s team prize, while the men just missed out on a team prize by a single point.

Lesley Cottle, Louise Horner-Baggs, Katie Coleman - winning female team at Dymock half marathon

Lesley Cottle, Louise Horner-Baggs, Katie Coleman - winning female team at Dymock half marathon

Also competing were Duncan Mounsor (1:42:49); Mike Kennedy (1:43:23); Steve Phelps (1:45:38); Peter Mitchener (1:47:58); Neil Tring (1:48:50, 2nd in category); Mike Daly (1:54:33, 3rd in category); Pete Blakeman (1:56:47); Richard Bennett (1:57:37); Des Beer (2:03:21, 2nd in category); Ela Antosiewicz (2:06:27, 2nd in category); Jeff Tibbles (2:07:41, PB); Victoria Kennedy (2:09:36); Lorraine Taylor (2:16:28); David Woolnough (2:26:20); Hayley Woolnough (2:26:21); Wan Hartley and Pauline Bargus (both 2:26:39).

In the Dymock 5-mile race, Craig Jackson put his recent injury woes firmly behind him to record 36:01 for third in category. Also running were Dave Mayo (43:46); Josh Rimell (52:40); Iris Mayo (55:39); Rachael Nolan and Karla Cleverley (both 68:29).

Prior to the weekend’s activities club members took a trip to the Dick Whittington 5k in the Forest of Dean on Thursday evening. The race is the fourth event in the club’s offroad race series and, as such, attracted a large contingent from the club. Indeed 24 out of the 41 finishers were Almost Athletes. The standout performance came from ladies’ cross-country captain, Patricia Dendy, who produced a stunning run across challenging and hilly terrain to finish fourth overall, first Almost home and first in age category in 28:08. Also finishing first in category were Shaun Carr, Jamie Courtenay, Neil Tring, Allan Green, Ingrid Harris, Lorraine Taylor, Sue Monaghan and Cathy Booth. Renewing their race series rivalry, David Garnett and Jim Trowbridge produced the most nail-biting finish of the evening, with Jim eventually taking the win by under a second.

Other finishers included Mike Kennedy, Duncan Mounsor, Francis Bull, Graeme Stopp, Jason Hulance, Victoria Kennedy, Mike Line, Alison Hume, Kev Dendy, Adrian Courtenay, Janine Bennett, Dave Nelson and Jakia Hussain.

Almost Athletes team photo at Dick Whittington 5k - photo courtesy of Finish Line Events

Almost Athletes team photo at Dick Whittington 5k - photo courtesy of Finish Line Events

At the other end of the racing spectrum a number of club members took on longer challenges home and abroad. Elliot Hodges crushed the Cornish Classic Quarter 44-mile ultra in 10:48 whilst offroad specialist Jules Jameson donned club colours for the first time this year and completed the hilly Chawton Challenge 30-mile ultra in Hampshire in 7:47. Portia Clapham completed the Classic Quarter as a relay with her brother, her 36km leg having over 1,000 metres of elevation gain.

Christopher Benjamin notched up his 99th half marathon at the 16-mile Bristol Three Peaks and eagerly contemplates his target 100th in June. Further afield Jackie Slaughter took on the tough Beer Lovers Marathon in Liege, Belgium in soaring temperatures, recording 6:15 for 27 miles and more stairs and steps than she had ever climbed in a single day, all while dressed as Ginger Spice.

A handful of Almosts made the short trip up the M5 to take on the testing terrain of the Worcester marathon and half marathon. Mark Willicott came home in 4:24:30 and Allan Green, powering closer to 700 lifetime marathons, was first in his age category, recording 4:50:24. The club’s sole female representative, Alison Hume, used the race as a training run for her first ultra next month and was delighted to finish comfortably in 4:22:51 (2nd in category and 6th female).

In the half marathon option Francis Bull recorded a strong 1:56:12 and Cos Pearson paced a friend around her first half marathon in 2:25:02.

Finishing a fine second overall at the hot and hilly Ridge Off Roader half marathon in the Chilterns was Mike Johnstone, the club’s sole representative at this event.

Over the border at the Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay Run 10k Dave Chittock clocked 48:44; Deb Cartlidge 67:31 and Kevin Keegan 69:37.

Deb Cartilidge and Dave Chittock at Cardiff 10k

Deb Cartilidge and Dave Chittock at Cardiff 10k

On a gloriously sunny morning the club filled the volunteer roster at King George V Playing Field parkrun, with Steve Adams, Adrian Courtenay, Sharon Hadad, Richard Knightley, Duncan Mounsor, Peter Mitchener, Kate Nichol, Rich Smith, Mark Stojanov and Mark Wreford-Bush acting as pacers and helping 18 runners to new personal bests. Duncan Mounsor and Neil Tring were both first in age category. Jeff Tibbles celebrated his recent good run of form with an outright PB and Jonathan Shuman, Dave Davey, Julia Whittaker and Heather Smith earned course PBs. In the capital Olly Bell ran his 64th different parkrun venue - Tooting Common - and Ross Greening took a trip to Bushy Park, the birthplace of parkrun. Hamish Adamson and Helen McGuire enjoyed a trip to Seven Fields to catch up with Claire Gallagher.

Ben Taylor was first over the line at Mundy parkrun and Issy Ravenhill was third female at Marine Parade parkrun. Travelling furthest this week was Felicity Read, who took on Donaupark parkrun in Vienna.

Phil Jeyes completed his first triathlon since having knee surgery at the Lake 62 Evening Sprint event and quickly followed it up with his first standard distance triathlon at the Worcester Lakeside Double a couple of days later.

The Almost Athletes were well represented at the Tewkesbury Half Marathon on Sunday, with 17 club members completing the route. Alice Tredgett was the first AA to finish and first in her category in an impressive 1:32:32, shortly followed by Lee Ormerod in 1:34:54. David Woolnough achieved a PB time of 1:44:46, narrowly behind Olga Goffin whose time of 1:42:15 gave her a 14th place category finish.

Last Monday saw the running of another local favourite in the form of the Berkeley 10k, where Steve Phelps ran a PB time of 44:01. Josh Hand led his clubmates home in 38:03, while Rachel O’Bryan earned a 1st category finish in 47:07. A number of other AAs ran strongly to achieve top five category placements, including Peter Morris (43:43), Edward Munro (49:10), Portia Clapham (49:47), Hayley Woolnough (55:05), Alison Hume (55:17), Lorraine Taylor (56:40), and Felicity Read (56:57).

Steve Phelps followed up his success at Berkeley with another PB over the weekend, this time at the standard triathlon distance. He completed the course at the Cotswold 51fiver event in 2:36:11, breaking his previous best time by eighteen minutes.

Liz Garner hit a magnificent milestone of 250 Parkruns at Cheltenham on Saturday, with Sharmila Door celebrating her 50th. Pete Mitchener was the run director, while Nick Lewis was the first AA and 12th place overall in 19:51. Lewis Jones (20:21), Bill Schindler (21:00) and Chris Handscomb (26:12) all got the weekend off to a strong start with PB runs. Neil Tring took on the hilly course at Rochdale and finished first in his category and 7th place overall in a time of 24:37. Further afield, Dave Nelson visited the Westpark event in Munich, finishing in 33:01.

Further north, Heather and Mike Smith both completed the Chester Half Marathon in 2:25:55. They got a taste of the reach of Almost Athletes when their club tops were recognised so far from home! Elsewhere Allan Green ran the Swan Challenge Marathon, completing the eight laps of Coventry’s Coombe Abbey Park in 5:17, and Adrian Courtney completed the scenic but challenging Scorpion Run at Symonds Yat.

 

The May Day bank holiday weekend got off to a fantastic start for many Almost Athletes, with Saturday’s sunshine helping multiple runners break their existing parkrun PBs in outstanding fashion.

Daniel Magovern at parkrun

Daniel Magovern at parkrun

At King George V parkrun, Daniel Magovern took the best part of 2 minutes of his previous parkrun PB to finish in an outstanding 23:10. The PB bell didn’t stop ringing there - with Nicola Hope (25:50), Elzbieta Antosiewicz (25:20), Jeff Tibbles (26:45), Heather Smith (31:13), and Mike Smith (21:55) all improving their previous parkrun PBs at King George V and Cheltenham parkruns. Cheryl Rodham (27:45), Jim Trowbridge (24:20) and Rose Hubbard (22:16) all achieved their quickest times on the King George V course bringing the total to 9 Almost Athletes ringing the bell on Saturday morning. Outside of Cheltenham, Peter Mitchener claimed his best ever finishing position of 21st with a time of 22:05 at Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester.

As always, plenty of Almosts attended parkruns this weekend in the local area. Jason Hulance and Mark Pelling visited the Forest of Dean parkrun and came home with times of 27:28 and 31:52 in kind. Mark James joined Peter at Kingsway (34:19), whilst Chris Daddow (21:38) and Richard Knightley (21:53) ran at Gloucester North. Glenda Gill and Rachel Nolan ran at Gloucester City (31:36 and 42:23 respectively) and Robert Foord finished 10th at Cirencester with a time of 20:53.

Outside of Gloucestershire, Neil Tring achieved a PB of 21:42, as well as first in his age category, at Somerdale Pavillion’s infamous ‘curly wurly’ course, Ross Greening claimed first in his age category at the tough Merythr Tydfil course (23:00), and Matt Polson finished fourth out of 276 runners at Peel parkrun this weekend, with a personal course PB of 18:19. Other Almosts taking advantage of the May Day long weekend to complete some tourism included Janine Bennett (36:44) at Hampstead Heath, Issy Ravenhill (38:26) at Birmingham’s Cannon Hill, Claire Hawes at Seaton, Devon (30:24), Patricia and Kev Dendy at Abingdon (34:53 and 42:35) and David Nelson at Conkers parkrun (33:21) in Leicestershire.

Achieving a slightly more unusual parkrun accolade, Mike Bryce joined the ‘Cowell Club’ after he attended his 100th different parkrun venue at Minehead with a time of 21:51.

Outside of parkrun, it was a quieter week for the Almost Athletes but as always, not one without achievements. Josh Hand took on the track at the Prince of Wales stadium finishing 8th in the 5000 metre race on the first day of the Gloucestershire Amateur Athletic Association Track and Field Championships with a time of 18:34. Finally, Issy Ravenhill and Deborah Cartlidge ran the Great Birmingham run in 1:44:02 and 2:25:22 respectively.

After a quiet racing week over the Easter bank holiday, Almost Athletes emerged to take on all distances from parkrun to spring marathons.

The ‘feel good’ story of the week must surely be that of club stalwart Forrest Wheeler, who chalked up his 100th parkrun at Pittville almost five years to the day since suffering a cardiac arrest during his first ever parkrun. On an emotional morning in the park, Forrest completed alongside Mike Jarvis, who was first on the scene that day and himself celebrating his 250th parkrun.

Apart from Forrest the best part of seventy Almosts participated in parkrun this weekend, running in perfect spring conditions. There were new personal bests for Mark James at Kingsway, Sarah Wallbridge and Megan Davis at Tewkesbury and Alice Tredgett, who was also first lady across the line at Gloucester City. Hester Coggin enjoyed a course personal best at Tewkesbury as did Deb Cartlidge at Gloucester City. Neil Tring was first in category at Eastville parkrun and, continuing his strong comeback from injury, Rich Smith completed his 60th different parkrun at Severn Bridge, recording his best time of the year to date. David Chittock notched up his 150th parkrun at Gloucester City.

Almost a dozen Almosts took on the LDWA Bath Beat Challenge event, a circular route from the edge of Bath which wends its way through the Somerset and Wiltshire countryside. Conquering the 26.5-mile marathon distance were Mariel Chretien, Glenda Gill, Bob Spawton and Gary Whiting. Taking on the shorter but still challenging 12.5-mile option were Lesley Cottle, Karla Cleverley, Ceinwen Davies, Charlotte Jamieson, Rachael Nolan, Ian and Sally McKinlay. Ceinwen and Charlotte enjoyed the route so much that they added over two additional miles, which cost a little more time but certainly added to their morning’s enjoyment.

Taking on mass participation events were Tony Heap, who recorded 2:02:31 at the ABP Southampton half marathon and Neil Tring (50:55) and Lorraine Taylor (57:35) at the Corsham St George’s 10k, which saw just shy of 1,000 finishers. Jack Helliar stopped the clock at 1:04:25 at the Run Thorpe Park 10k. At the other end of the scale, Robert Foord and Desiree Beer tackled the Shepperdine marathon, which saw just 49 finishers complete the five-lap course and earn an eye-catching medal for their efforts. Robert recorded 3:56:28 in his first marathon and Desiree’s 4:26:28 was good enough for first in category and a very strong good for age qualifying time. Great work indeed in warm and frequently lonely conditions.

Coralie 'Cos' Pearson and Allan Green at Shakespeare Marathon

Coralie 'Cos' Pearson and Allan Green at Shakespeare Marathon

Further north a trio of Almosts took on the well-established Shakespeare half and full marathon in Stratford upon Avon. Issy Ravenhill was the club’s sole representative in the half marathon, recording a strong 1:43:56. In the marathon Cos Pearson recorded 4:49:24 and Allan Green crossed the line just five minutes later in 4:54:48.

 

The bank holiday Easter weekend meant a quieter weekend in terms of organised races, but that didn’t stop Almost Athletes members lacing up their trainers and getting out and about in Cheltenham and beyond.

One event that did take place was the Westonbirt Easter 10k and Half Marathon, held on Good Friday at Westonbirt School. Almosts were well represented, with Jeff Tibbles leading the way with a new PB of 2:11:09 in the longer distance. Christopher Benjamin also completed his 97th half marathon in 2:08:29; while Thomas Yiend (49:06), Andy Holmes (53:34), Helen Pardoe (56:11), Deb Cartlidge (1:06:18 – just a week after completing Manchester Marathon!) and Adrian Courtenay (1:10:19) ran the 10k. Elsewhere, Clive Baker ran the Shapwick Bunny Hop, a 7.5 mile trail race in Somerset; while Allan Green completed his weekly marathon, finishing the Strawberry Fields Marathon in Devon in 5:08.

Despite the quieter weekend for races, it certainly wasn’t any quieter on the weekly parkrun front. 84 club members took part in 34 different events on Saturday morning, with good numbers taking advantage of the holiday weekend to indulge in some parkrun tourism. Furthest away from Cheltenham were Steven and Jayne Adams, running The Entrance parkrun in New South Wales, Australia – and both came first in their respective age categories! A little bit closer to home, but still a good few hundred miles away, was Rachel O’Bryan at Pollok in Glasgow, while Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring ran York. This was notable for 2 reasons – Neil ran in jeans and a shirt after leaving his running kit at home! And even better, Lorraine earned herself a new PB of 26:38, a fantastic result after some injury problems in recent months.

There were plenty of other notable parkrun achievements. Ben Taylor finished in first overall position at Kingsway in 18:54; while a day after Westonbirt, Jeff Tibbles scored himself another PB at KGV, finishing in 27:06. Coming first in age category were Ela Antosiewicz at Forest of Dean; Issy Ravenhill at Cannon Hill in Birmingham; Hester Coggin and Megan Davis at Newent; Ed Munro at East Grinstead; Mark Wreford-Bush at Haverfordwest; Lesley Cottle at Exmouth; Peter Morris at Alderford Lake; Matthew Bevan at Bartley Park; and Rosemary Hubbard, Cheryl Rodham, Sharon Hadad, Kate Nichol, Felicity Read and Sue Monaghan, all at KGV!

Also on the tourist trail were Ivana Wilson at Stewart parkrun in Middlesbrough, Phil Jeyes at Woolacombe Dunes, Mark James at Darlington South Park, Jon Owen at Wotton, and Jason Hulance at Stratford Park, Stroud. The club were also represented at Worcester, Chester, Porthcawl, Evesham, Burnham and Highbridge, Tewkesbury, Monsal Trail, Gloucester City, Severn Bridge, Marlborough Common, Ross-on-Wye, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Fulbourn Hospital, Peel, and University Parks. As always, the club also put forward a number of volunteers at various parkrun events, including on Sunday morning at Cheltenham juniors, where club chair Pete Mitchener sported a very fetching pair of bunny ears while timekeeping.

So, despite it being a “quiet” week, Almost Athletes certainly kept busy, and more than earned themselves those chocolate Easter eggs!

In South Africa Duncan Mounsor notched up a sixth place finish at Big Bay parkrun while even further afield, Jayne and Steve Adams ran in the parkrun at Mosman, Australia with Jayne coming away with an age group 1st place.

Among the other 274 Almosts parkrunning in 17 different parkruns, Patricia Dendy was 2nd female overall and first in her age group at Gloucester North; Rachel O’Bryan and Christine Harker were placed first in their respective age groups in Cheltenham while Jeff Tibbles and Emily Pascoe achieved PBs at the same venue and Mark Stojanov recorded his best time since 2017. Neil Tring was first in his age category at Gloucester City, Julia Whittaker was first in hers at Wickford Memorial and there was a PB for Mark James at Kingsway. At KGV there was a PB for Rob Foord and age group first places for Rosemary Hubbard, Sharon Hadad and Jim Trowbridge.

There were plenty of race entries this weekend too. In Devon Russell and Debbie Jones had a go at ‘Race the Train’ - the train won but they got a cracking medal and had a good time.

 Russell and Debbie Jones at Race the TrainRussell and Debbie Jones at Race the Train

Dave Nelson tackled the HIghworth 5 mile road race, finishing in 53:24, and near Wantage Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring flew the flag for Almosts at the White Horse Half Marathon, both coming in at 2:13

In Exeter Kevin Keegan took on the aptly named Tough Runner Duathlon finishing in a total time of 2:26.09.

Hannah Brown loved her first Ultra, the Vale Coastal, along 33 miles of glorious Welsh coastline.

And finally of course, there were marathons! At Brighton there were PBs for Elzbieta Antosiewicz (4:01.45) and Kieran Keating who went sub 3:30 for the first time, finishing in 3:28.25. Cat Daly came in in 4.05.15, Dave Chittock in 4:31.34, Chris Daddow in 4:35.22 and Deb Cartlidge in 4:38.10.

 Dave Chittock, Deb Cartlidge and Cat Daly await the Brighton Marathon startDave Chittock, Deb Cartlidge and Cat Daly await the Brighton Marathon start

And (of course!) there was another marathon for Allan Green who finished the Gauntlet Key marathon in 5:31.

Another great weekend for the Almosts!