All posts by Sarah Holmes

Autumn 100

100 miles. It’s a long way. It’s a very long way. It’s the same distance roughly from Portsmouth to Northampton or from London to Brighton and back again. It’s a days drive, let alone a days running! But that’s what our own Duracell bunny Ian Russell undertook in his greatest challenge to date.

The Autumn 100. 100 miles of trails. A mixture of terrain along the Ridgeway and the Thames Path. This course forms a cross shape centred around the twinned towns of Goring and Streatley. Four out and back legs of 25 miles north, south, east and west with Goring at the heart of them faced Ian as he lined up on the start line.

““I’ve been wanting to do a 100 miler for ages” he tells me with his usual enthusiasm “We got there nice and early. It felt like the bees knees when we got there. The organisation was second to none”

The field were experienced ultra runners, with very few rookies amongst them. Despite this, Ian had an ambitious target of going under 24 hours, something that not many first timers get to achieve.

10am came and they were given the off. The first leg took Ian from Goring along the Thames Path out to Little Wittenham. 

Ian set out at a steady pace, ignoring the front runners and sticking to his race plan, giving him 60th place at the first turn around point and despite a nasty headwind all the way back he got back to Goring in 3 hours 57 minutes and 55th place.

A quick break at the aid station and Ian set off on the second leg. More challenging than the first but way more picturesque, it took him out to Swyncombe Farm along the Ridgeway Path. 

“ I loved the 2nd leg! It was hilly and quite technical with loads of single tracks and tree roots all over the place. I wanted to have this section finished by the time 10 hours in total had passed. I felt really good all the way and managed to get to 50 miles in 8 hours and 57 minutes – a 50 mile Pb!”

The third leg took him west back onto the Ridgeway path to Chain Hill, but this time he wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by training buddy and fellow distance doyenne Dan Williams.

“The rules state that competitors can have a pacer for the final 50 or 25 miles of the race. I’m just there to keep his head in the right place and keep him on target” Dan tells me “I feel humbled that he trusts me to do this for him”

It was starting to rain a bit and was getting a little boggy underfoot, made all the more hazardous bumpy the fading light. But Dan did a great job of keeping Ian amused, fuelled, hydrated and on pace, opening gates, looking for route markers so that all Ian had to worry about was moving forward.

The fourth and final leg saw Ian back on the Thames Path for a flattish section out to Reading. 75 miles behind him. Tired….. beyond tired. Just to make things worse, the heavens opened…. and stayed open. Wet, muddy and cold now, they just had to keep going. Keep going before hyperthermia set in.

“I got to 94 miles and I was suffering. My body was just shutting down” said Ian 

But he battled on, through the pain, through the tiredness. Left, right, left, right, putting one foot in front of the other until Goring came into sight for the fourth and final time.

He’d done it. 100 miles. Quick look at the watch… 

22 hours 15 minutes and 36 seconds….Target…. smashed! 

Great West Run

Exeter was the setting for the start of the Great West Run. 2500 runners all taking on the 13.1 miles in the beautiful County of Devon

James Shoulder took on this sold out half marathon alongside his brother George and sister Victoria.


Starting at the Exeter Arena, James set out into the city centre. Lined with supporters cheering and shouting, he made his way out toward the beautiful, but soggy 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.

“It was a bit wet on the way around” said James

James finished in a fantastic 1 hour and 51 minutes and 55 seconds, showing his knee injury that has hampered his running all year is well and truly behind him now. Well done James.

The 62nd Isle of Wight Marathon

First held in 1957, this is the longest continuous running marathon in the UK. Historic for so many reasons, this marathon has seen tears and triumph over the years. From world records set, (pioneer female Dale Grieg in 1964), to the inaugural women’s marathon championship in 1978. It is a unique and special in equal measure.

62 years and a couple of course changes later, 22 brave soldiers in white red and blue embraced this infamous 26.2 mile journey. After a week of extremes of weather, the merry go round of rain, gusty winds and unseasonably high temperatures the day started with torrential rain.

“It’s a monsoon!” Said Zoe Elliott first thing in the morning.

Despite it throwing down the proverbial cats and dogs as they still made their way to the IOW Community Centre in Cowes.

There was the usual air of fear mixed with anticipation and excitement as our intrepid roadrunners arrived one by one to collect their numbers and make their last minute preparations. A wealth of different levels experience in the registration area, from people running their first marathon to those running their 150th. All of them doing the same things, worrying about the same things…. Have I drunk enough? Have I drunk too much? Do I need the loo…… again? Have I done enough training? I wish I hadn’t skived off that run when it was raining/hot/windy and all the other tricks your mind plays on you when the nerves show themselves. 

Famous for its undulation, this course was going to be no walk in the park for any of them. Luckily the rain stopped just before they heading out onto the sports field for the 11.30 kick off. 

Starting with a nice downhill mile to Gurnard, the rollercoaster trip out to Porchfield doesn’t feel too bad on fresh legs. It’s all smiles as the runners conquer the first 5 miles or so.


Onward they ran toward Shalfleet and then 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 advantage of the friendly faces at the water station handing out drinks and any other special supplies left there and a chance to take stock of the time. 

The support on on the course was superb. Pockets of family and friends scattered along the course. Not too much distance passed between someone’s nearest and dearest being there, residents standing out in their front gardens or club members cycling past on their bikes providing a mobile support crew. 

Turn left, turn left and turn right…. the turn for home! Thorley and Wellow. The flattest part of the course but strangely where many of field start to unravel. 

“I can’t begin to even tell you how many times I’ve thrown a tantrum running along that section during training in the past” said Sarah Holmes “I have many personal landmarks along that stretch such as the sulking stone, the bollard of dispair and the gate of sorrow. They are all points that I’ve mentally crumbled and ended up in tears”

It’s the misery miles. The miles where you’ve come so far but you’ve still got so far to go. Most of the runners are in for a lonely battle between their legs, their minds and their hearts. Every runner praying they can keep all three in check as the miles tick by. At 18 miles there was a huge group of the roadrunners crew standing on the corner screaming like banshees, giving everyone a boost just when they needed it the most. It was along this stretch that Simon Randall decided to call it a day.

“I felt dizzy” he said “and my chest was hurting, I decided not to risk it. I am gutted, I was in third place”

Sometimes it’s the best thing to do. The long term implications of running under strain can far outweigh the disappointment of having to drop out. The marathon will be there next year for another crack at the whip.

20 miles. Shalfleet Garage. Left turn. 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. The legs start to hurt as the runners start to revisit the hills that they’d tackled with a smile a few hours before. Smiles faded, it was time they gritted their teeth and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

The front pack had started to stretch out. With Simon out of the race it was Paul and Stuart leading the bidding for the IWRR. Paul, having had a long period out with recurring injuries, had decided on a whim to enter only the day before. 

“I haven’t run a competitive marathon since 2014 when I collapsed at mile 23! I was intending to take it easy, but I kept chatting to people along the way and unintentionally sped up as I was feeling really good. It was only in the last couple of miles that I started to feel a bit tight but I managed to jog it in. I’m chuffed to have gained a good for age time for London 2020 so I’m so glad I took the risk”

Showing his form has returned and that his class as an athlete is permanent, he crossed the line in 4th place and 1st V45. Not far behind him was this year’s most consistent performer, Stuart Backhouse giving his usual inspirational 100% effort to finish 5th and 2nd V45. 

Andy MacArthur, again having only decided to enter last minute gave a cracking performance to finish 12th and 3rd V50. Less than 5 minutes later was the first of the marathon debutants. Sean Williams smashed his way through his first marathon to finish 15th and 3rd V45. 

Next home was the first of the ladies. Defending champion Hayley Baxter, unleashed another stellar performance to finish 25th overall, 2nd lady and 1st V40.

“I was right behind the ladies leader until about 11 miles, but she turned and saw me and picked up her speed” said Hayley “I tried to go with her but she was just too fast for me. My calves started tightening in the last few miles, but I pushed on through. I’m chuffed to come 2nd to a class runner like Liz” 

And chuffed she should be, she knocked a huge 7 minutes off her Pb. 

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. 

The miles ticked by and the day began to draw to a close, the runners began to tackle the dreaded final 4 miles and the accompanying hillfest. After the welcome sight of the aid station at mile 22 manned by our very own IWRR aid angels, the marathon and all its challenge really started to kick in.

Bunts Hill into Thorness into Rolls Hill into Palance 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 picked up pace and the will to finish kicked in to bring them home strong.

In they came, crossing the line triumphant, one by one, two by two and three by three. A flurry of PBs and marathon debutants made their way back to the Community Centre. Hill king Michael Coultrup was the next to return looking very smiley as the last few hills proved no obstacle for him. Next to emerge onto the sports field was Richard Bezer in only his second marathon, knocking 15 minutes off his previous time, Noel Finn ran his debut over the distance, Zoe Sherwin snatched yet another Pb and took 4th lady and 2nd V40. Harry Rann took the Junior men’s title for the second year in a row. Steve Horsey took a huge 23 minutes off his PB, Giorgio Marinelli ran his first marathon after only taking up running in December. Sarah Holmes took 4th V40, closely followed by Ian Dyer. 

It was the next 3 that stole the show though. Steve Hickman, Zoe Elliott and Sally Trotman. Steve completed his landmark 150th marathon, accompanied the whole way by his two good friends. Sally finished in the biggest Pb of the day of 31 mins and 1st V50. Zoe finished 5th V40, an awesome achievement as she’d done zero training and only decided to attempt the distance the day before. 

Julie Salter was next home to claim 2nd V50 having accompanied Nick Carter on his first trip over the distance. Sue Meredith also ran her debut, crossing the line with a big smile on her face to finish 4th V45. Sue Hunter was next to take 2nd V60 and closing the batting in style for the IWRR was Jo Randall with a nice 9 minute PB.

It was clearly evident that the Roadrunners ran happy. Massive smiles all around as they hugged, congratulated and cheered each other in. The air of jubilation was so sweet you wish you could bottle it to take home. Everyone of the warriors in white having run their socks off and run themselves proud. A fantastic day of achievement, of unwavering support and of being a part of the best running club in the world. 

Paul Cameron – 3.05.32

Stuart Backhouse – 3.10.53

Andy MacArthur – 3.18.58

Sean Williams – 3.22.51

Hayley Baxter – 3.36.07 

Michael Coultrup – 3.37.47

Richard Bezer – 3.39.22

Noel Finn – 3.42.36

Zoe Sherwin – 3.55.29

Harry Rann – 3.59.07

Steve Horsey – 4.14.06

Giorgio Marinelli – 4.20.27

Sarah Holmes – 4.21.43

Ian Dyer – 4.24.20

Zoe Elliott – 4.30.08

Steve Hickman – 4.30.08

Sally Trotman – 4.30.08

Julie Salter – 4.35.59

Nick Carter – 4.35.59

Sue Meredith – 4.53.07

Sue Hunter – 5.03.40

Jo Randall – 5.23.56

Teams

Men’s

1st Cameron, Backhouse, Macarthur

2nd Williams , Coultrup, Bezer

3rd Finn, Rann, Horsey

5th Marinelli , Dyer, Hickman

Ladies

1st Baxter, Sherwin, Holmes

3rd Elliott, Trotman, Salter 

5th Meredith, Hunter, Randall

Ashford 10k

Run since 1986, the first ever race was  started by none other than the legend that is Steve Cram, this race has been a runaway success ever since.

Originally held to raise funds to build an all weather track facility in memory of a talented young athlete, Julie Rose, the race now raises funds for the club to help their members achieve their sporting dreams.

Starting and finishing in the Julie Rose stadium, the course follows closed roads through the centre of Ashford. Although undulating, it is considered a fast route.

It was our Steve Hickman that was on the startline with his second claim club Ashford and District. I know what you’re all thinking… Steve Hickman…. doing a 10k? No… correction ANOTHER 10k … he’s done his annual one already right? But no your eyes are not deceiving you, our marathon mogul was back out on the short stuff for a change.

“I’m only pacing someone round!” He says in his own defence on Facebook earlier in the week “Anyway… I’m tapering!”


And pace he did… going for 55 minutes, this master of the roads got his friend and fellow Ashford clubmate, Heather in a fantastic 52.52, giving her a shiny Pb.

“It was a beautiful day for it. It was most enjoyable” 

Don’t worry everyone…. he’s back on the marathon startline next week (#150 just sayin’)

 

Clarendon Marathon

Having run the course in its entirety last year, Pat Harris decided to make it into a team outing this year by gathering together 12 to run as 3 relay teams. Pat alongside Stu Backhouse, Caroline Curliss, Giorgio Marinelli, Tanya Clifford, Jess Hill, Sarah Sharp, Bridget Keyte, Alison Butcher, Tracey Houdoire and Zoe Sherwin all took the trip over the water along with friend Samantha Staples to embark on this historic track. 

They weren’t the only ones going over, as speedster Ross Wilkes took on the challenge of the full course.

This point to point Marathon follows the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Winchester. As picturesque as it is challenging, this ancient track of trail and footpath and is largely unchanged from the days it was used to transport the Kings and Queens of England across the county.  The course is virtually all off road with some hefty elevation thrown in along the way, just to make those narrow footpaths even more difficult to tackle after the previous day’s rainfall. 

Beginning at Wyvern College in Salisbury, the relay and the marathon kick off together.

First up for the relay teams were Tanya, Jess and and Samantha. 

The first leg is 10.5km, winding its way through the Clarendon Estate before continuing through the villages of Pitton and Middle Winterslow where the first changeover of the relay’s “batons” ie wristbands takes place. 

Here waiting were Caroline, Bridget and Giorgio , ready to take on the next 10.4km of the journey. Following a large section of the Roman Road, this leg heads toward the halfway point at Broughton. 

It was here that Sarah, Alison and Stuart were waiting to tackle the toughest and longest leg of the relay. 12.3km of some hefty climbs faced them as they crossed the River Test and on to Kings Somborne and upto Farley Mount where Pat, Tracey and Zoe were patiently waiting to bring the teams home in style. The shortest leg at 9km this section also has a decent bit of descent as they drop down into the historic city of Winchester and across the finish line at Kings School. 

In the full marathon Ross absolutely smashed it.

Despite only running a marathon 4 weeks ago, he annihilated the hills to finish in 3.57.15.

“That was as hilly as hell right until the end haha! I enjoyed it, there were beautiful views but it was very tough” 

Yet another brilliant result for this talented all rounder.

Bournemouth Marathon Festival

A weekend of running in sunny Bournemouth awaited some of our trusty clubmates.

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.

Michael Douglas and Sara Truckel 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 making 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.

Dynamo Douglas steamed his way around the course returning back to Lower Gardens 36.31 for 17th place overall.

“I was happy with that! Not my quickest 10k, but it was pretty windy down there. I felt in control and the legs didn’t feel too bad at the end. I like running a 10k before a marathon it makes marathon pace seem comfortable. Not long until New York now!”

Sara also ran brilliantly. Having broken her foot in May, Sara had only run 5 miles once since then. She crossed the line in 54.02 with a huge smile on her face.

“It was tough as there was a massive traffic jam into Bournemouth and we only got to the start 15 mins before the first race! Not great race prep! It was ok though and fab weather. After 5 miles it was uncharted territory and the wheels fell off in the last 1k but I did it and made it!”

It wasn’t long before Sara was back on the startline for the next race, 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 dusky 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.

Sara showed no sign of her lingering soft tissue damage as she zipped along the seafront in 28 minutes exactly.

“It was a great run though and seeing all the head torches shining along the seafront when we ran down the pier was amazing!”

The next day it was the turn of Tarnia Eldridge and George Butler as they stepped onto the startline of the marathon in Kings Park. Nerves jangling, they waited in their start pens. Both running to raise funds for the Stroke Association, this newly engaged pair hold this great cause very dear to their hearts. 

They made their way out toward Southbourne, before reaching Hengistbury Head, the main division between Poole and Christchurch Bays, at mile 9. 

Onward they went, zig-zagging their way along Eastcliff Drive before going up and down the pier at Boscombe at mile 15 and then Bournemouth pier at mile 17.

Back into town they went up a rather nasty incline, before they wiggled back through Lower Gardens an embarked on an out and back section out to Europe’s largest natural harbour at Poole before they made the final turn for home and the welcome sight of the finish area at Lower Gardens. 

George ran the perfect race. Coming over the line in a cracking 4.18.15, almost 23 minutes off his Pb. 

“That’s 10 marathons done for me, so I’ll be calling it quits until further notice……unless I get in to London!”

Tarnia also ran brilliantly, coming home in 4.43.07 giving her her 16th marathon.

Well done team IWRR 

Jersey Marathon

The 13th running of this scenic marathon saw 2 of our white warriors tackling this hilly beast of a course on only their 2nd outing over the distance. Ian and Charlotte Williams took the trip out to the Channel Islands for the weekend.

2500 competitors take on one of 3 options available over the weekend with some 57% of them travelling to the Island from 15 different countries.

Starting in St Helier at 9am Ian and Charlotte lined up excitedly but nervous, concerned that they hadn’t managed to do as much training as they would have liked. The course begins by running through the town before turning north up the first long and steep climb into the parish of St.Lawrence. 

Taking a left turn as they approached the north coast, team Williams then entered the parishes of St.John and St.Mary where the going was relentlessly undulating. They reached the northwest corner of the island before they head south through St.Ouen, passing the airport before traversing St.Peter and into St.Brelude and out to the southwest corner and the sight of the lighthouse at La Corbiere. 

“It was a beautiful route and really well supported” says Charlotte.

They turned for home and ran along La Route Orange and the Railway Walk before dropping down St Aubins Harbour before skirting the bay and returning to St.Helier for the welcome sight of the finish.

Their nerves proved unfounded as they both pulled it out of the bag. Charlotte was first back in a fabulous 4.06.36, smashing 8 whole minutes off her previous Pb. Ian also ran himself to a pb coming over the line in 4.48.12, taking less than a minute off his previous time.

Last word from Charlotte… 

“I need a cup of tea and a bath” 

Ealing Half Marathon

 

Voted the UKs best half marathon for not one but three years in a row, Ealings half marathon has become the biggest race in West London. Runners from over 30 different countries line up together to get that #ealingfeeling. From the humble ideas of a group of runners from the Ealing Eagles Running Club, this race has certainly achieved their original goal of inspiring people from within the borough to run.

Starting in Lammas Park the runners head out on fully closed roads toward Walpole Park, our Harry Vernon amongst them. 

“This was the final leg of my family half marathon trilogy. In December I ran the Portsmouth Coastal Half where my mum lives, in March I ran Frankfurt half where my sister lives and now was the turn of Ealing, West London where my brother lives”

Pressing on toward Ealing Golf Course, the field turned South before chucking a right at the rail station and heading into West Ealing for a mostly out and back section and toward Brent Valley Golf Course before returning to the rail station and then continuing back to Lammas Park.

“The atmosphere was amazing! The street were lined with people cheering the runners on, offering us sweets and water. There were cow bells, foghorns and a couple of samba bands to get the heart pumping faster. There was even a live band”

“The race went well and I kept up the runners from my section and the 1.40 pacer was there not too far away in the distance.

At mile 10 my legs ran out of steam but a pb was there for the taking if I could just hold it together for the last three miles. Willpower and encouragement from my family got me through and I collapsed in a happy heap as I crossed the line”

Harry did hold it together and he got his pb knocking a minute off his previous time finishing in 1.40.29.

Ageas 10k

Hampshire’s newest 10k race took place on Sunday. Based at the fantastic Ageas Bowl (formerly The Rosebowl), the runners start and finish at the home of Hampshire cricket. 

Beginning at the stadium, this fast and flat course is set to grow year on year. With a pb possibility on the cards, it’s no surprise that this race has been an instant success.

Julie Salter and Alison Butcher took the trip across the Solent to see what the crack was….

“It was great” says Ali “I ran with my workmate on her 1st 10k race. We kept with the 55 min pacer then felt good so we overtook! We kept a steady pace and sped up as we headed right around the outside of stadium before entering a tunnel and out on to the pitch to do almost full lap to the finish”

Julie finished first in 51.06 with Alison not too far behind running herself to a pb in 52.44.

Well run ladies!

Queensgate 10

A beautiful Autumn blue sky prevailed over the runners as they lined up outside Queensgate School in East Cowes to help raise funds for an outdoor learning environment at the school. 

With 2 distances on offer, the event appeals to all abilities, however all of our road runners opted to do the full 10 mile course this year. 

Our chairman Glen Jones has been involved in this run from day one, having had children at the school back in 2012 during its inception. 

“I was just helping out this year” he says humbly 

He wasn’t “just helping out at all” He was busily recording everybody’s times.

This course has unprecedented access to the private estates of Osborne House and Barton Manor.

The runners then take a trip out to Wootton before returning to East Cowes via Brocks Copse and Alverstone Road before crossing at The Forge passing Whippingham Church and back to the school.

Stuart Backhouse absolutely stormed the course. The ups and downs of it proving no obstacle to this super sonic speedster as he crossed the line the champion in just over 66 minutes. 

“I love that race! It’s a tough route but I felt good all the way. It was nice to win it again! Thanks to Glen and all the guys that helped, it’s become a special race whoooop whoooop!” 

Tim Cordery returned triumphantly to take a well deserved 3rd place with Richard Bezer running an absolute spanker to finish soon after in 4th.

Garry Sharp was next over the line to take 10th with club legend Dave Cass in 15th. Ivan Ward came was over the line next with Dave Wilcock home after him and new members Robbie and Gary McFarlane after him.

Talking of club legends, first lady roadrunner across the line was Karen Phillips, again showing her amazing consistency. Gemma Fletcher was 2nd girl in white home with Fiona Attwood 3rd. 

Sarah Sharp, Caroline Curliss and Bridget Keyte were home next having run the whole 10 miles together.

“I’m really pleased with that” Caroline tells me later in the day “that’s the furthest I’ve run in ages! Running with Sarah and Bridget was great fun” 

Lucy Deville closed the bidding for the Roadrunners in her usual formidable fashion and finishing with a smile. 

Stuart Backhouse- 1.06.20

Tim Cordery- 1.11.21

Richard Bezer- 1.12.13

Garry Sharp- 1.17.06

Dave Cass- 1.23.19

Ivan Ward- 1.27.20

Dave Wilcock- 1.34.43

Karen Phillips- 1.36.01

Robbie McFarlane- 1.37.58

Gary McFarlane- 1.38.28

Gemma Fletcher- 1.42.01

Fiona Attwood- 1.44.02

Sarah Sharp- 1.47.40

Caroline Curliss- 1.47.41

Bridget Keyte- 1.47.47

Lucy Deville- 2.01.12