All posts by Sarah Holmes

The 63rd Isle of Wight Marathon

In an historic week for women’s athletics, with Dina Asher-Smith being the first woman to win a world championship sprint and Katerina Johnson-Thompson breaking the British record in the heptathlon, it seemed fitting that this years IOW Marathon be dedicated to one such inspirational woman. Renegade, rebel and pioneer Dale Greig who sadly passed in May this year aged 81. Back in 1964, despite women not being allowed to compete in the marathon, trailblazer Greig defied the rules and ran a world record time right here on the Isle of Wight, the first record to be officially recognised by the IAAF and stood as the British record for 11 years.

“It was a tough and hilly course” she recounted later in the press.

Here on holiday, Dale celebrated by dancing the night away afterwards at the Royal York Hotel in Ryde. 

That’s not the only aspect that makes this race unique. Having first been held in 1957, this is the longest continuous running marathon in the UK. 

63 years and a couple of course changes later, and hoping to blaze trails of their own, 27 brave IWRR soldiers in white red and blue embraced this infamous 26.2 mile journey.

There was the usual air of trepidation, anticipation, excitement and good old fashioned fear as each roadrunner arrived one by one to collect their numbers and make their last minute preparations. A wealth of different levels of experience in the registration area, from people running their first marathon to those running their 160th. Some nervous, some relaxed, some just raring to go.

11.30 came and they set off from the sports field at the IOW Community Club in Cowes.

Starting with a nice downhill mile to Gurnard, it wasn’t long before the famous undulation began as they started on the rollercoaster trip out to Porchfield and Shalfleet. 

Onward they ran toward Cranmore before they arrived on the outskirts of Yarmouth. A bit of respite from the ups and downs of the course for a little while as they swung a right onto the cycle path and a hugely warm reception from the supporters cheering and screaming encouragement on the old railway platform outside Off The Rails Cafe.

At the end of the track is the Causeway and the all important halfway point. Time to take stock of time and grab a drink from the water station.

First timer Callie Hatcher hit a mental blip at this point. 

“I shed some tears. I didn’t feel good, everything ached and I’d planted the seed in my head that I couldn’t do it”

It’s tough going when that happens… the misery miles I call them. When you’ve come so far but you’ve still got so far to go. It takes real determination to find the mental energy to keep going. Callie had her boyfriend Kelvin by her side and together they carried on.

Turn left, turn left and turn right…. the turn for home! Thorley and Wellow. It should be the “easy bit” As the flattest part of the course on paper it should be, but strangely where many of field start to mentally unravel. By now the field is pretty stretched out, the support is thinner and most of the runners find themselves locked in a lonely battle between their legs, their minds and their hearts. 

It was here that David Blake decided enough was enough. Having felt strong and relaxed at halfway, he suddenly felt achy and sick. 

“My vision went blurry… I couldn’t even walk the rest to settle it. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to pull out of a race”

The marathon is a different beast to all the other distances. There are so many variables, so many things that can go oh so right or oh so very wrong. The weather, not enough sleep, not eating enough the day before, misjudging pace, over hydration, under hydration, not enough fuel on board in the early miles …. the list goes on.

Past Shalfleet Garage and the 20 mile point. The road back to Porchfield and more importantly, the road home. They say the marathon race starts at 20 miles and that’s no truer than on this course. In any marathon it’s the point when the body is waning. The glycogen stored in the body has all but been depleted. The legs are tired, the heart has to take over to get the runners home. All the hills they’d attacked with gusto a few hours before were being revisited as they retraced their steps through Porchfield and Thorness, culminating in a crescendo of climb at mile 24/25 as they tackled Pallance Road. 

Having run together for the most part, it was Bill Goozee that went ahead in the final stages to take 5th place with Stuart Backhouse not too far behind taking 6th and 1st V45. 

“I’m happy with that” said Bill “it’s my first marathon for ages and it felt good”

The next roadrunner home was a show stealer. Rosie Sexton. No training, no experience…. no problem!! The pocket rocket only went and won it!!! 

“I just got up and decided to run it on a whim” 

Wow! What a whim that was! Even her biggest cheerleaders, (parents and fellow IWRR Pete and Yvonne Sexton), didn’t know she was running it! 

“My girls first marathon and she won it! I can’t believe I missed it… especially to go and watch the footy!” Said Yvonne in the pub later “And we lost!”

Hayley Baxter was next to cross the line just seconds over her PB but chuffed to take 2nd lady, 15th overall and 1st V40

Another marathon debutant was next to make it across the finish line. Jamie Brenchley has smashed it out the park with an amazing sub 3.30 time, made all the more phenomenal because, like Rosie he hadn’t trained either!! 

“That was so emotional finishing! I really enjoyed the first 20 miles, then spent the last 6 miles wishing is trained properly haha!”

Meanwhile back out on the course, the rest of the team were battling their way around. The last miles really starting to hurt for some, not so much for others.  Some having some rather personal motivation to keep them going. Debbie Radestock took up running in memory of her older brother Richard, a keen member of Headington Road Runners. He died shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, so Deb, with the encouragement of her other brother Andy took up running to raise funds for Macmillan. Daughter Eloise took up running when she went to university as a way of connecting with her mum. Their determination to see this challenge through was furthermore family fuelled as Debs elderly parents live on on the marathon route and would be looking out for their inspirational girls. 

“There was no way I could turn down the chance to run this with Mum” Eloise tells me “Knowing her history with her brothers I wanted to be alongside her every step of the way”

The miles ticked by the rest of the runners began to tackle the dreaded final 6 miles and the accompanying hills, the marathon and all its challenge really started to kick in. 

“I weirdly love getting to 20” said Sarah Holmes “I usually start speeding up as I know the worst is behind me”

She’s not the only one who woke up a bit. Callie got her second wind too, as she gleefully high fived every mile marker from that point onward.

Bunts Hill into Thorness into Rolls Hill into Pallance Road. Brutally draining what energy they had left, these last 4 miles were chewing runners up and spitting them out left right and centre. But as they each began to conquer that final Hill and with 1 mile left to go, they rallied to pick up pace and the will to finish kicked in to bring them home strong. 

“I got goosebumps crossing the line” said Callie

“I managed it!!!! Me!!!” beams Eloise

They’d done it! Marathoners, achievers, warriors, lionesses, heroes. Last word on this report goes to Debbie

“I’m immensely proud of my Ellie….. It’s a memory to cherish”

As always big thanks to the fellow IWRR that take the time to come out and cheer the runners … your support is immeasurable

Bill Goozee – 3.10.20 – 5th – 3rd SM

Stuart Backhouse – 3.13.54 – 6th 1stV45

Rosanna Sexton – 3.26.25 – 14th – 1stF – 1st SF

Hayley Baxter – 3.27.57 3.36.07 – 15th – 2ndF – 1st V40

Jamie Brenchley – 3.28.40

Simon Randall – 3.32.14 – 4th V45

Ross Wilkes – 3.38.41

Rob Hunter – 3.49.05

Simon Riley – 3.52.25

Richard Bezer – 4.03.12

Petya Torodova – 4.08.54 – 5th SF

Glen Jones – 4.11.50

Noel Finn – 4.17.33

Zoe Elliot – 4.22.12 – 5thV40

Steve Hickman – 4.28.28 – 3rdV60

Neill McCall 4.31.31

Julie Ray – 4.32.52 – 2nd V50

Tim Keyte – 4.32.52

Karen Phillips – 4.33.47 – 3rd V45

James Shoulder – 4.35.50

Sarah Holmes – 5.32.40

Tarnia Butler – 5.32.41

Kelvin Mansfield – 6.11.55

Callie Hatcher – 6.11.55

Deb Radestock – 6.16.12

Eloise Radestock – 6.16.14

Teams

Men’s

2nd Goozee, Backhouse, Brenchley

3rd Randall, Wilkes, Hunter

4th Riley, Bezer, Jones

6th Finn, Hickman, Keyte 

Ladies

1st Sexton, Baxter, Elliott 

2nd Ray, Phillips, Holmes 

4th Butler, Hatcher, Radestock 

Dedicated to the late and great Dale Greig 15.05.1937-12.05.2019

Bournemouth Marathon Festival

Started in 2013, this weekend of running has become a firm favourite on the south coast running calendar. With 4 distances on offer as well as 4 junior fun runs taking place, the appeal is across the board.

Steve Rumsey kicked off proceedings in the “Supersonic 10k” at 4pm on Saturday. Touted as being fast, flat and perfect for a pb, the race starts and finishes within the Victorian splendour of the 19th century Lower Gardens. Heading east along Undercliff Drive toward Boscombe before they made a sharp turn onto the seafront. Uniquely the course then goes up and down not one but 2 piers as they make their way along the shore and back to Lower Gardens.

Steve gave the race his usual 100% effort to finish in a nippy 39.40 giving him 49th overall and 3rd V50.

Not worn out Steve lined up at dusk to take on the “Supernova 5k”. Starting at 7pm, the organisers encourage a real party atmosphere as they tell competors to grab as many supporters and as many fluorescent, flashy things as you can. 

Into the sunset the runners dashed out onto Undercliff Drive before turning as they approached Boscombe Pier onto the seafront. Blasting along, the course then, like the 10k, goes up and down the Victorian Pier before returning to Lower Gardens.

Showing no signs of the afternoons excertion, he finished in 20.35 taking 37th overall and 2nd in his age category. 

The next day it was the turn of Super duo Lucy Deville and Lyn Snow as they stepped onto the startline of the half marathon in Kings Park.

A nice flat out and back run along the seafront to Boscombe and back, also taking in the piers on the way.

“I almost felt guilty” said Lucy “I had in the back of my mind all my clubmates tackling the hills on the IOW marathon at that very same time whilst we were on the flat”

Lucy finished in a cracking 2.25 on the nose taking 2nd V65 in the process. Lyn came over the line with a smile in 2.47.37

Royal Parks Half

The 12th running of this popular race celebrated 500 years of the history of London’s famous green spaces. Organised by the Royal Parks Foundation, the race raises money to maintain the 5000 acres of land across the 8 royal parks in our iconic capital. It is a treat of a race touring the leafy spaces of our capital as well as some of Londons most famous streets and passing many of its world famous landmarks.

All 16000 of the entries are either balloted or available via a charity making a bucket list race for many runners. Over the past 12 years runners have raised in excess of a colossal £30 million.

2 lucky roadrunners, Claire Jasper and Louise Morris secured places in this fantastic event. 

Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, they were rather daunted by the conditions underfoot.

“This is not the start I expected on a ‘road race’” Claire tells me as she’s lining up in the mud waiting for the off.

Eventually they got moving and the girls left the park passing Wellington Arch before entering Green Park and into St.James Park. Ducking under Admiralty Arch, they headed down Whitehall before moving onto an out and back section along The Strand accompanied by some great fancy dress runners.

A fantastic run down The Mall toward the beautiful Buckingham Palace was a highlight before they headed back to Green Park, traversing Hyde Park once more before commencing the final leg of their journey through Kensington Gardens, past the Royal Albert Hall and across the finish line. 

“That was a bit more undulating than I thought it would be” said Claire 

“It was all quite overwhelming” said Lou who chose to run for mental health charity Mind.

Despite their challenges and the soggy weather, they both made it to the finish line back in Hyde Park. 

Louise Morris – 2.26.01

Claire Jasper – 2.42.16

Great West Run

James Shoulder took the trip to Exeter on Sunday to take on this sold out half marathon alongside 2500 other runners.

Starting at the Exeter Arena, James set out into the city centre. Despite the deluge of rain the course was lined with supporters cheering and shouting, getting into the spirit of the event.

He made his way out toward the beautiful country lanes of Stoke Woods. Onward he ran onto an out and back section which bought James back toward the city, this time skirting the University campus before returning the way he came to a rapturous stadium finish.

“I really enjoyed that! I felt relaxed” said James

Despite having taken part in the IOW marathon just 7 days previously, James crossed the line in the stadium in a fantastic 1.58.29 and 55 seconds. 

Tirana Half Marathon

Tirana, the capital city of Albania. Enclosed by mountains and hills, it enjoys it own little micro climate. It is one of the sunniest cities in Europe enjoying over 2500 hours of the golden stuff every year as Ian Dyer found out last weekend.

“It’s so hot here!” he messages me, as I pull on a cardi and stare out the window as the persistent rainfall here in Blighty.

The running weekend is the largest sporting event held in the city. Welcoming some 2500 runners from 40 different nations, the race has grown year on year. With a half marathon, a 10k and a series of fun runs over the course of the 2 days the event is very inclusive and has a fun, festival feel.

In Nënë Tereza Square Ian lined up on the startline in the already hot sunshine (26c) 

“I couldn’t believe it! The bloke stood next to me was from Wootton!”

9am came and Ian was off on his journey into the city. Travelling north first before turning onto Rruga Dedë Gjo Luli passing the Natural History Museum before then an out and back section before heading south, skirting Rinia Park before heading down to trace the shores of the artificial lake before taking him through the Grand Park of Tirana.

He then wiggled his way back through the city to return to Nënë Tereza and the welcome sight of the sun baked finish line.

“I enjoyed that! Although it was just so hot. It went upto 29c by the time I’d finished. The was no breeze and with the wide streets there was little shade either. But it was a lovely course and brilliantly organised”

Loch Ness Festival of Running

It may only be the second largest lake in Scotland, but it is the most famous by miles. It’s murky depths stretch 37km from Fort Augustus to Inverness and of course are said to house the legendary, elusive cryptozoological creature the Loch Ness Monster. 

This point to point race takes the runners from one end to the other eventually crossing the Loch itself and finishing on the north bank. A family friendly festival feel is evident as the runners are treated to some Scottish Hospitality.

An early start saw Tim Cordery, club legend Dave Cass and his wife Sharon herded into their shuttle buses in the pouring rain to take them over to the startline. Dave embarking on his 40th marathon.

Starting with a bagpiper on the atmospheric moorland on the high ground just outside Fort Augustus, the boys started with a lovely downhill couple of miles toward Whitebridge. They then ran along the south bank of the Loch, taking in the stunning natural beauty as they went through Foyers and lnverfarigaig. 

Meanwhile Tim’s wife Amanda was on the startline of the River Ness 10k for her club debut. A flat and downhill point to point course it goes through Inverness and along the banks of the River Ness. Starting on Culduthel Avenue, the route wiggles through the town before joining the marathon course to the finish area.

Amanda rose to the occasion wearing her vest with pride as she flew around the course as she smashed her PB by over 3 minutes.

“I’m super chuffed! I’m closing in on my hour target” she beamed.

Meanwhile the marathoners were still out there. At 10 miles they found themselves at “Loch level” as they enjoyed not only a flat 10k but some panoramic views of the famous waterway. It was along this stretch that Tim had to stop for another “comfort break” and Dave went on ahead. 

“I couldn’t catch him after that” said Tim “note to self…. don’t over hydrate”

16 miles behind them now and they’d reached adores. This was the start of a long uphill drag. 

“Dave told me it was flat….. he lied! It made Pallance Road look like a Mole Hill!” Said Tim

Hill conquered they were back on the downhill as they hit 20 miles and Scaniport. One more climb and the rest was downhill. 

At 24 miles they reached Inverness and the end of the Loch. They turned right on to the Ness Bridge to cross the water they’d been skirting for the last 40k.

One more turn and the finishline in Bught Park was in sight. 

Dave made it across the line just under the 4 hour mark and Tim just over. They both nipped off to enjoy their complementary food and collect their goody bags and waited for Daves wife Sharon to finish her marathon journey.

10k

Amanda Cordery – 1.06.54

Marathon 

Dave Cass – 3.57.38

Tim Cordery – 4.03.17

Salisbury Half Marathon

Salisbury city centre saw the 22nd running of its half marathon last Sunday. The fast and pancake flat course tempted Tim & Bridget Keyte and Vicechair Sarah Sharp over to the Solent to run around the Wiltshire spires. 

Starting on New Canal this 2 lap race boasts virtually zero elevation. The trio set off on their first lap down Bridge Street and out onto the more rural Lower Road toward Quidhampton. They swung in a southerly direction toward Neterhampton and then West Harnham. As they returned to the city centre on lap one they ran through the grounds of the beautiful cathedral. 

2nd lap. Keep going. They revisited the loop of the surrounding area, before returning to the city centre before finishing on the sports field within the Cathedral grounds.

Tim ran a blinder, taking a minute and a half off his PB which has stood as his record since 2013. Sarah was next over the line in just over 2 hours and 5 minutes, with Bridget not too behind.

Tim Keyte – 1.38.20

Sarah Sharp – 2.04.57

Bridget Keyte – 2.18.06

Ironman 70.3 Weymouth

The Dorset seaside resort of Weymouth plays host to the largest 70.3 race in the UK, (that’s a half Ironman to us laymen) It was also the setting for our Abigail Farwell’s debut at this legendary multi discipline challenge.

Abi, her dad Pete and 2698 other athletes faced 70 miles worth of exertion amidst the Jurassic Coast setting. Kicking off with a 1.2 mile sea swim in Weymouth Bay, they then needed to transition to a 56 mile bike leg through the undulating Dorset hills before returning to Weymouths promenade for a flat half marathon along the beachfront and promenade…. all within 8 and half hours.

Arriving on Friday, the weather was sunny but storm force winds were making for some crazy looking waves

“I could hardly look when were driving around the bay!”

Hoping the wether would have settled somewhat overnight, Abi had hoped to get her wetsuit on and get in the water and try a swim, to calm her nerves over her least confident discipline, but the stormy conditions put paid to that. Instead she had a masterclass in the transition process from her Dad and Darren Cole before doing a recce of the bike course.

Race day… the nerves and excitement fighting against each other! That ridiculous time in the morning when the sun isn’t up yet, the revellers from the night before are still straggling home. Abi made her way over to the transition area in the darkness for a few last minute preparations before heading over to the beach. 

The weather was still stormy with the sea swirling around the bay. The organisers had decided to delay the start times and cut the swim distance. Wet and cold Abi had to wait around an hour before she was set off on her swim, shuffling along in lines of 4, each being set off every 5 seconds. 

“The atmosphere was buzzing!”

Her time came and she was off! Into the waters for a trapezium shaped loop around the bay before returning to the beach in 23 mins and 42 seconds.

“It took me until the first bouy until I got into the swing of it. One more turn then I headed back to the beach. I was so happy at this point…. I’d made the swim!”

Transition negotiated, she set out on her wheels into the rolling hills of the Jurassic Coast and Dorset countryside. The rain was lashing down and the wind was taking its toll on the trees there were cyclists crashing all over the place with debris and surface water wrecking havoc.

“It was going to be a long day. There were plenty of downhills to complement the uphills. I tried to utilise these and get aero, but it was hard as the wind was pushing the bike around”

Despite the challenges, Abi made up 278 places on this leg as she went through the aptly named Puddletown, turning at Kings Stag, through Pleck and southerly return via Charminster, Dorchester and finally back to Weymouth, support a plenty along the way.

4 hours behind her now and just that half marathon left. She set out, still smiling on this 3 and a half lap final stage from the transition area to Lodmoor Country Park, throngs of supporters at every turn.

“My plan (as advised by Coach Cole), was to take the run slow and steady”

The first 2 laps passed by comfortably as she cheering on fellow runners.

“It was great seeing my dad on the laps, (way ahead of me I might add!) and my family cheering me on”

When she passed the finishing chute entering the last lap, she picked up the pace drawing strength from the crowd and knowing that next time she saw it would be her turn to run down the red carpet of glory. She powered her way through the busy field making up 356 places as she went before she finally made it back to the finishing chute.

“Running home to the cheers from my family and friends was the most amazing feeling”

She’d done it! Smashing the half marathon in just 9 minutes over her already nippy PB, she’d finished in an incredible 5 hours and 58 minutes.

Time for a well earned glass of bubbly – well done Iron (wo)man!

The Great North to South R#n

A 20 mile run in the sun. A day out, running through countryside with likeminded fools .. er I mean people… what could be finer? 

Started in 2012 by Richard Pearson of the Vectis Lunatics. It was intended to be run every other year, but it’s year on year growth in popularity has made it an annual sell out event. It begins at the most northerly tip of our Island (Egypt Point) through to the most Southerly at St. Catherines Lighthouse. Of course being organised by the Hash House Harriers it is run in the format of, (unsurprisingly), a hash, that is minimally marked, unmarshalled and water stops in the form of Pubs on the route. 

Assembling at Egypt Point in the sunshine 144 runners collected their “uniform” for the day and set off on the first leg of their journey. From the starting point they made their way from the seafront along to Northwood where it steps off the road onto trail. Through Parkhurst Forest before emerging the other side and on to the first stop at the Blacksmiths Arms on the Calbourne Road. The first 7 miles behind them.

After the first “hydration” stop of the journey, they continued up and over the Tennyson Trail, through Bowcombe, Gatcombe and Chillerton and along to The Chequers Inn at Rookley at the half marathon distance. 

Onward they went on the third leg. Only 4 miles to the next stop. Running through Roud and Nettlecombe.

The White Horse in Whitwell was before them before they knew it.

Only 2.6 miles left to go to make it to the Lighthouse at the Furthest point South on our diamond Isle. Great fun had by all along the way.

One last hydration stop at The Buddle before clambering back onto the buses and heading off home.

Goodwood Festival of Running

At the foot of the Sussex Downs lies Goodwood Motor Circuit. Opened in September 1948 to host the first post war race meeting, it is the only classic circuit in the world that remains entirely in its original form.

Home to the Festival of speed, the course is flat, smooth and completely traffic free as the field run laps around the circuit. It’s a variety of distances on offer from a 5k right through to a marathon, it’s a very inclusive event.

It was the marathon distance however which caught the eye of Glen Jones as his September episode of running for his 12 marathons in 12 months challenge to raise funds for the NSPCC.

Now playing catch up after a cricketing injury back in the Summer, it was only 2 weeks since his last outing at the New Forest.

Along with last minute sign up Dan Williams, they lined up on the pole position for the 10 o clock start with 11 laps facing them as they set off onto the tarmac of this world famous course. 

Glen and Dan both set out at pace, Glen hoping to have regained some of his fitness since his injury in the summer. 

Glen had a rather unusual helper at one point during the race.

As forecast, about halfway during the race, the heavens opened leaving a lot of water standing on the track for our boys to splash through. Dan had decided to slow a little as he reminded himself it was meant to be a training race. 

He still stormed round to finish in a amazing 8th place overall

“It’s so different running a flat marathon! Would be nice to specifically train for it and go for a pb next time”

Glen slowed a little in the last 10k but got the job done… only one race behind schedule now. 

Dan Williams – 3.19.36

Glen Jones – 4.12.30