Julie Bridge has come a long way since running her first mile with a friend from work in 1996. She enjoyed it so much that she entered and ran the London Marathon for the first time two years later and completed it in 4 hours and 44 minutes. The 26.2 mile distance has been an obvious favourite for Julie who has now completed over 20 marathons both in the UK and overseas.
Julie Bridge has come a long way since running her first mile with a friend from work in 1996. She enjoyed it so much that she entered and ran the London Marathon for the first time two years later and completed it in 4 hours and 44 minutes. The 26.2 mile distance has been an obvious favourite for Julie who has now completed over 20 marathons both in the UK and overseas, the favourite of which was New York. Another USA marathon targetted by Julie was Washington but things didn't quite go as planned when the race was cancelled at the last minute some years ago due to political upheaval at the time. Having completed the training and not wanting to 'waste' her fitness levels, Julie entered the Stratford Marathon on returning to the UK but her heart wasn't in it and, needless to say, the race didn't go well.
Julie doesn't just run marathons for personal achievement/satisfaction - she is a great supporter of the Alzheimer's Society after her father suffered with the condition and has so far raised over £10,000 for this worthwhile charity.
How long will she continue to run marathons? Well, at least until she beats that elusive 4 hour barrier (she came tantalisingly close at Disney this year with a personal best time of 4 hours and 3 minutes) and not until she has qualified for Boston. Even if this takes her until she is 90, she will follow her own philosophy - to keep on trying!
Two major challenges have kept many of you busy throughout the month of July, both of which have now been completed.
The Baton Relay certainly proved extremely popular and many thanks are due to both Jason Hulance and Prash Sripathi for providing such detailed summaries and statistics of the distances covered. 90 club members carried the baton for the whole distance from John O’Groats to Land’s End (and then some!), with a massive final total of 895 miles run.
Some of the many runners who took part in the final stages of the relay included Matt Proome, Jayne Adams, Graeme Stopp (several times!), Jayne Murphy, Michelle Balchin, Pete Mitchener, Prash Sripathi, Duncan Mansour, Lorraine Taylor, Jane Russell, Sue Monaghan, and Frances Ferguson.
The grand finale took place at Pittville Pump Rooms at 5pm on Friday 31st with Frances Ferguson carrying the baton home to a welcoming crowd of club members.
The Cotswold Way Virtual Relay was also completed on Friday 31st with members completing their respective leg of the event throughout the month. Participants competed as part of twelve teams of five and were able to run together, or in smaller groups, as long as social distancing was observed. Final results as to how the Almost teams fared against other clubs are awaited at the time of writing.
Several members also took part in the virtual Race to the Stones which took place between the 6th and 12th July. The options were to run a half, full marathon or 100km during that time, and Deb Cartlidge, Catherine Daly, Dave Chittock, Piotr Michaelski, Sharmila Door and Dave Nelson all successfully completed their chosen distance.
Jason Hulance and Zakia Hussain were delighted to complete the Tough Runner UK Trifecta at the end of the month. This consisted of 100 ‘Beast’ miles, an altitude challenge and a final 10km run on the 26th. Throughout the event they both managed more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
A new challenge began on Monday 3rd August which consists of four virtual 5km handicap races – one a week throughout the month of August. Each run needs to be completed during the following periods of time, and should be on a single loop:
All times should be submitted to Philip Jeyes, and the best three scores will count towards the final result.
Finally, a reminder that Ashley Stevens will be running a marathon along the Honeybourne Line on 30th August, in aid of WellChild.
The 5k Virtual Relay 2020 summary can be seen by clicking Link.
Once again, members of Almost Athletes have continued to find inspirational and imaginative ways to keep running and to keep both themselves, and others, motivated in these difficult times
Keep safe and keep running everyone.
May and June have continued at a pace for Almost Athletes’ runners and with combinations of solo and social distanced runs being undertaken, this report will be focusing on the wide variety of different places that members have been visiting, plus some excellent individual achievements. We asked for “favourite routes” as a theme and the club’s Facebook page has been awash with idyllic pictures, inspiring stories and motivational messages.
Despite the obvious lack of organised races right now, we have seen a number of club runners take on virtual challenges and Kev Fairs and Wan Hartley led the way, earning a Trimax Virtual Medal and the “Cotswold Warrior” title for their 10 mile, Cleeve Hill efforts. Ingrid Harris also did the Trimax 14, picking up the “Immortal Sinner” medal as a reward.
David Garnett completed his first ever half marathon distance at the end of May and took in a great route. He completed the distance via Charlton Kings, Colgate Farm and Cleeve Hill and braved the warm conditions for 13.1 miles. Well done David! Also taking on the hills recently was Richard Knightley – doing the “10 Mile Twister Virtual Race” – where you take a minute off your time for every 25 metres of elevation you gain. Richard managed a great net effort of 70 minutes and the intensity level was increased by the fact he ran in torrential rain.
As a club, the highlights of the last few months have included sharing ideas for places to go for a run and there has been a real sense of reconnecting with why we all love this sport so much. Claire Hawes recommended running through Hartley Farm, where the larks have been in impressive voice. Jason Hulance shared some amazing images of Cheltenham’s murals and highlighted why Pittville Park is such a fun route to run. Karen Gomm’s dogs Bradley and Geoffrey looked like they enjoyed a run up Aggs Hill and Prestbury and Adrian Courtenay evoked memories of the club’s winter routes when he walked 10 miles of the Cotswolds Way.
We have had a number of members really embrace lockdown and get out and run some super distances. In May a number of Almosts reported some fantastic totals including: Shaun Carr (amazingly running the height of Everest in the month of May – 29,029ft and 137 miles), Melvyn Harris (60 miles in May being his best total for over 5 years), Ashley Stevens (ran 125 miles and walked 100 miles!) and Sarah Carr (ran 100 miles using #raceatyourpace as motivation).
The last few weeks have, of course, seen more events cancelled, but Almost Athletes haven’t let that bother them! Well done to Kerry Knowles who was supposed to be running the Race for Life 10k on 7th June, but with the event called off, went out and completed her first sub 1 hour time over that same distance. Mark Stojanov was in a similar mood and with the Cirencester Summer Sizzler off, he marked the occasion with his longest walk of the year, to the Severn Ham in Tewkesbury.
There really have been good news stories galore of late and Rob Rennell ran his longest ever run on a treadmill in early June – an astonishing 9.5 miles! It is also good to hear that when club runs can resume in the future, Pete Mitchener will still be leading the way, he has completed some solo runs of club routes and his pacing is as on point as ever.
These reports continue to provide a small showcase into the wide range of activities that our members undertake. It is really heartening to see how everyone has carried on, undeterred by a difficult few months, and it is evident that getting out running has really helped. With 3k challenges nearly concluding, there will be plenty more to write about next time, and the stories continue to tell themselves. Do keep them coming in!