As April rolls into May, Almost Athletes have continued to make the most of difficult circumstances, and with a spring in their step have taken on some stunning solo running routes.
This week’s report comes after club members embraced the Move and Post week which ran from 22nd-29th April. This initiative promoted a MOVE of whatever distance people fancied – and then an obligatory POST on the club’s Facebook page. It would be impossible to list everyone here, but please scroll through the page because some of the pictures are fantastic.
Focusing on a few though, Peter Allsopp wrote positively about how being part of the club has helped develop his confidence to take on off road routes. His run took in Mill Street, Cleeve Hill and Mill Lane and included spectacular fauna from Bluebells to blooming Wysteria! Kim Lewington also escaped to the hills and shared a great picture taken at Witcombe and Mark Willicott’s “Cotswold Run” included a manor house, a thatched cottage and inspiring woodland.
A constant theme from Move and Post week was members reminding themselves just how lucky we are to have so much scenery on our doorsteps. Jane Russell completed a ten mile run and did laps in Southam to make sure she hit the distance – in the sunshine, the Church looked resplendent. A number of Almosts have found sanctuary in the surroundings of Cleeve Hill with Nat Stow taking in the view as part of a great 10k and Thom Stephens including it on an amazing 16.74 mile effort.
There is no doubt that this initiative was well received by Almosts and the posts were inspiring to read. No more so than one from Matt Barnes, who marked Sunday 26th April (the day he would have been running the London Marathon) by spelling the letters NHS on his Strava map, during his run in Shurdington. A pertinent reminder of the outstanding work being done by our NHS heroes.
Since the last report we’ve also seen plenty of other impressive activity from Almost Athletes with yet more positivity emerging from every Facebook post! Mark Stojanov organised a “Finish for Matt” challenge where runners completed a 3.7 mile run in memory of Matt Campbell, who passed away running the London Marathon in 2018. Ben Stone, Chris McMahon, Marcus Rudge and Kim Lewington were amongst the Almosts who logged times.
A number of club members have of course seen events they were due to run, get cancelled – but undeterred are still getting out there and setting targets! Ashley Stevens donned his London Marathon 40th Anniversary colours to record a 1:38 half marathon. Michelle Balchin completed the Bishop’s Cleeve club run route of 5 miles ad Vicky Earls did a 3k in 14:55 with her aim of a sub 25 minute 5k now very much in her sights! Good work all.
So as lockdown continues, and the sun comes back out, the club is continuing to shine and we are seeing constant reminders of what a great community we are all part of. Keep up the excellent posts and we will do our best to put together a full round-up!
Picturesque posts breed positivity!
Almost Athletes took on the early summer sun and scorching temperatures over a variety of distances, locations and terrains across the country this weekend. At the Runthrough Festival of Running at Cheltenham Racecourse, Mike Johnstone continued his rich vein of form, completing the half marathon in 1:25:15 for second in MV40 category. Not far behind was Josh Hand, who recorded a fine 1:26:24 for third MV35. Julian Brand and Ellie Haile completed the club’s quartet of half marathon representatives, finishing the challenge in 1:56:40 and 2:14:17 respectively.
In the 10k event, first home for the club in 57:29 was David Woolnough, followed just three seconds later by Ela Antosiewicz and club mascot Archie. In her first race of 2021 and coming back from an extended period of injury, Hayley Woolnough completed the exposed course in 1:01:05. The club was also well represented by Iris Mayo (1:21:03); Helen Yarnold (1:29:10) and Steve Yarnold (1:29:11).
Further north, Julie Averiss was the club’s sole representative in the Burton Leonard 10k, coming home in 1:27:17. This old school, not-for-profit event over an undulating rural course in the Harrogate area of North Yorkshire raises essential funds for the local community.
In Somerset, Cos Pearson completed the brutally beautiful Cheddar Gorge marathon in 6:44:25. The double lap course, which includes two ascents of the infamous Hell Steps, is considered so challenging that organisers recommend that runners add 20% onto their flat marathon time. Christopher Benjamin notched up his 85th half marathon over one lap of the marathon course in 2:59:55.
In Dorchester Kathy Haig and Karla Cleverley took on the Crafty Fox half marathon, another very challenging off-road event along the Wessex Ridgeway and Dorsetshire Gap, which rewards participants with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The tough course includes steep climbs and sharp descents together with a bonus mile, topped off at the finish with one of White Star Running’s legendary medals.
Going furthest of all this week Martyn Fisher seized another opportunity to wear the purple vest with pride as he competed in the inaugural 50k Greensand Country Ultra, which started and finished at Shuttleworth House in Bedfordshire, just two miles from Martyn’s doorstep. He was pleased to swap searing temperatures and cloudless skies for an ice-cold lager to kick start his recovery, having completed the long-distance event in a very creditable 6:21:39.
Long distance events near and far kept Almost Athletes and their support crews busy again this weekend. A band of six travelled to Newton Abbot in Devon to take part in the hilly Dartmoor Discovery Ultra comprising 32.5 miles and 4,100 feet of elevation. Organised by Teignbridge Trotters the event is the longest single lap road ultra marathon in the UK.
Competing in her first event beyond the marathon distance, Amy Sheer led the team home in a time of 5:15 for seventh lady overall. Strong runs by Kim Mansell (5:36) and club coach Fi Barnes (6:11) helped the trio scoop the prize of glassware for second ladies’ team.
Richard Knightley achieved his aim of completing his first ultra, his finish time of 5:38 falling well within the course cut-off of 6 hours 30. Competing in his second ultra and first race of the 2021 season, Matt Proome was pleased to record a 5:42 finish. Mark Wreford-Bush rounded out the club’s contingent, recording a 6:16 finish, comfortably within cut-off.
Picking up supporter duties from where he had left off the previous week, Matt Barnes joined Helen Fursman on two wheels to provide invaluable support to the runners out on the hilly course.
Closer to home a larger contingent of Almosts, many of whom are training for longer events later in the year, participated in the Sharpness Canal 16 mile and 50km ultra events. The club’s sole competitor in the 50km out and back event was Chaweewan Hartley, who completed the course in the scorching afternoon heat in 7:12:43, almost certainly with a beaming smile.
In the 16-mile event, starting at Sharpness Marina and finishing at Llanthony Secunda Priory and running the full length of Sharpness Canal, the club was led home by Christopher Benjamin, who completed his 84th half marathon along the way and finished in 2:46. Next in were Karla Cleverley and Coralie Pearson, who ran together in 4:00. Iris Mayo recorded 4:29, one minute ahead of Sarah Fennell and Rachael Nolan. Dave Mayo completed the course in 4:35; Helen and Steve Yarnold in 5:12 and Kim Rodway-Pugh in 5:39.
Bev and Ollie Nolan turned out to cheer everyone on from the towpath. A much appreciated ‘prosecco pit stop’ was laid on by Penny Lewis and Ju Averiss and gave our runners a well-timed boost in the heat of the morning sun.
Finally a huge round of applause to Cat Davies Perkins, who completed the virtual Race to the Tower along the challenging terrain of the Cotswold Way from Stroud to Broadway, notching up 84km over two days in memory of Tommy Squire and raising funds with her friend Georgina for the Starlight Ward at Bristol Children’s Hospital through the Grand Appeal. Way to go, Cat!