Roadrunners father and daughter team Steve and Sarah Morris made the journey to Berkshire for the Reading Half. An electric atmosphere, supporter lined streets and a heroes finish is the Madjeski Stadium prove why this is one of the most popular half marathons in the country.
First run in 1983, this event has grown and grown, attracting some elite runners into the field into the 14 000 strong field each year. The course takes in the highlights of Reading town centre where the crowd really get behind the runners before taking in the scenic University campus and finally into the stadium were a huge crowd cheer the finishers home.
Steve and Sarah ran the whole course together. Having run it in 2015, 2016 and 2017 Steve used all his experience to get Sarah to run it in a lovely PB time of 2.10.20.
In its 5th year if running, it is easy to see why this seaside half marathon is so popular.
Flat, fast and traffic free this course takes the runners on a tour past historical sights of the town and the scenic landscape of the surroundings ding area including the harbour, seafront and local country park.
Starting outside Weymouth Pavillion, the course begins by taking the runners along the seafront, past past all the beach huts and hotels. After 3 miles the course takes the field into Lodmoor Country Park for a little while before returning to the seafront heading for the town.
After reaching the main shopping area, Callie headed toward the historic harbour with the view of Portland in the distance. The only minor elevation on the course arrives at this point, but it was over quite swiftly as Callie made the turn for home as she made her way back to the Pavilion and the finish area.
Callie smiled her round to come over the line in 2.18.42
Despite being run since 1982, this race is in its debut year in the Hampshire Road Race League. Hosted by Fleet and Crookham AC, this traffic free course is very gently undulating but still considered fast and good for running a PB.
Starting from Calthorpe Park, team IWRR did a lap of the park before heading North East past the railway station.
The halfway point comes on the amusingly named Rotting Green Road, as they headed South West toward the sharp turn at the Barley Mow Pub before they made their way back to the finish at Calthorpe Park.
Paul Cameron was the first roadrunner over the finishline, in a respectable sub 80 minute time, giving him 11th V45. Ross Wilkes and David Blake were next home both collecting themselves shiny PBs as a reward. Matt Fletcher was next to finish, showing a long awaited return to form after his surgery completing the 1st men’s team. For the girls, it was ladies captain Jodie Wilmott that made it to the finish line first.
“I felt relaxed throughout, so onwards and upwards for the summer”
Personal Bests were also achieved by George Butler, Cally Wareham and Dave Wilcock, making for a very successful and enjoyable day for team IWRR.
First run in 1980′ the “Bath Half” as it’s more commonly known, is a sell out race every year. Part of the slick and well organised Vitality series, this half marathon is fast and flat and somewhere along the way has become the largest single charity fundraising event in the South West.
Pete Sexton made it a family outing as his wife Yvonne and daughter Rosie all took on the 13.1 mile course whilst Matt Wade accompanied friend Ben who was running their first ever half marathon for Diabetes UK.
Starting in Great Pulteney Street this 2 lap course straddles both sides of the Avon River. It then progresses westbound over New Bridge out then back over Churchill Bridge and back to Pulteney Street for a good sprint finish down one of Europes widest boulevards.
Within team Sexton, it was Rosie that beat her Dad to the finish this time, with Yvonne taking a whopping 16 minutes off her previous time.
“I’m so chuffed! I can’t walk now……but I did it!” said Yvonne
“I’m so proud of them both” beams Pete “Rosie is a great example of getting out what you put in…. she’s just like her mum. I’m a very proud dad today”
Matt finished alongside his friend, having run the whole course together
“What a great experience!” he chirps on the way home “15000 runners and massive support from the crowds of people all the way around. At around mile 6 I felt a tap on my shoulder as Pete Sexton zoomed past! It was so good to see a familiar face!”
Despite not worrying about his time and just focussing on getting his friend to that all important finishline, Matt still managed to sneak a 1 minute PB!
Set in the South Downs National Park, this running event has 3 distances on offer. Our very own rocket Ross Wilkes took on the challenge of the 22k.
Starting at the Steam Fair in Hollycombe near Liphook, the course meanders it’s way through Hollycombe Forest of pine and birch. Deep puddles plentiful, soaking the runners feet from the get go, making the likelihood of blisters almost inevitable. before embarking upon the winding trails past lakes and streams.
Onward to the hillsides, so steep and thick with mud they were hard to navigate.
“It was ridiculous” said Ross “it was so hard to keep your footing. I was struggling to keep my shoes on”
But at the top of those monoliths were stunning vistas across the National Park and beyond. A beautiful, but very technical route as per the Maverick tradition.
Ross as always, gave it his usual 100% effort and completed the challenge in 1.53.30 giving him an amazing 5th overall.
“That was brutal. I really struggled with it, so I was chuffed to bits when I found out my results. I’ve never placed that highly in a mainland race”
High Winds swirled around the Rushmore Estate for day 2 of the Larmer Tree Weekend. It did not deter 5 Roadrunners from taking on the hills of this private Dorset Estate near Tollard Royal
First to set off were the awesome foursome in the marathon. 2168 feet of elevation lay before them as squawly hail swirled in the air. Somehow astonishingly, Michaels trademark crochet shorts weren’t the only item of crochet kit to make it to the startline.
They headed out toward Stubhampton, then Minchington before tackling Rushmore Golf Club and through the surrounding forest negotiating fallen trees.
They then fought the elements as they wound their way up and down the hills, struggling on the gusty high ground, before returning to the Larmer Tree Gardens and the finish line.
Stuart Backhouse showed no fatigue after his 50 miler just 7 days ago, to storm his way around to the finish in an amazing 4th place and 2nd V45. Distance king Dan Williams was just 5 minutes behind him, to finish in 6th place taking the V40.
“I’m well pleased with that! Especially after a 116 mile week!” Beams Stu
Michael Coultrup was next to pass the water tower on the hill and cross the finishline taking 5th V50 and 22nd overall.
“Despite the conditions, that one of the most enjoyable marathons I’ve run for ages” said Mick “I felt really fresh at the end….. maybe I should have tried harder!”
And judging by the pictures he is quite possibly correct.
Ian Russell managed somehow to take a wrong turn (again!) at 17 miles, but he realised his mistake after about half a mile and he made his way back on to the course without losing too much time
Great performances by all of 4 of them.
Stuart Backhouse – 3.44.29
Dan Williams – 3.51.33
Michael Coultrup – 4.09.05
Ian Russell – 4.16.38
An hour later, Tarnia Butler set off in the 20 mile race. Following much of the marathon course, she did what she does best… ran a steady pace and attacked the hills with a big smile on her face.
“It really is my favourite place to run!” She tells me “I ran really happy”
She smashed it as always, coming over the line in 3.49.44 taking 7th V45 and knocking a huge 13 minutes off her course PB
Set in the beautiful countryside of the Rushmore estate on the Dorset & Wiltshire border, a total of 9 Roadrunners set off for the first 2 races of the weekends events.
The undulation on all these races at Larmer is relentless. And with an absolute whopper of a 841 footer chucked in the middle (Ventnor’s St.Boniface Down is 702ft as a little comparison for you). Although it was disappointingly lacking in mud this year.
An early kick off of 8.30am saw 5 Roadrunners embark on the 10 mile course. Despite being the shortest distance on offer over the weekend of running, it was by no means an easy option.
Chairman Kev Winchcombe, partner Gill Bushell and team JAC (Jane Andrew, Alison Batchelor and Claire Howard) ran the entire course, (all 11 miles of it – White Star are generous like that!) They seemingly had great fun whilst earning themselves their beautiful peacock medals.
Jane Andrew – 2.24.46
Kevin Winchcombe – 2.24.47
Claire Howard – 2.24.47
Alison Batchelor – 2.24.47
Gill Bushell – 2.24.48
An hour later the half marathon got underway. Following largely the same course as the 10 milers, but with a couple more hills thrown in for good measure.
First home was Nick Kenney in a marvellous 19th overall and 4th V45. Unbelievably taking 3 mins off last year’s time despite having surgery on his broken collarbone just 2 weeks ago. Most importantly of all he managed to beat his brother again, (A much bigger accolade in the Kenney household!)
Holly Newton wasn’t too far behind to claim 26th overall and a cracking 3rd place in the ladies race and 2nd Senior Female. Next in was Gordon Mucklow as he cruised his way effortlessly through the mud followed a little while later by club treasure Lyn Snow, who took 15 minutes off her course PB.
After a very wet and unsettled Saturday the turnout was good for this trial run of the infamous Lord Pike’s Carisbrooke Castle Cross Country Half Marathon of Awesomeness.
The brainchild of the interestingly coiffured, part time zombie and all round top bloke Dean Pike, this was the second trial run of this course.
“It was one of my favourite training runs for ages” the mohawked Lord of Pike manor tells me “it was a perfect half marathon in distance so I’d thought I’d propose it as a possible club race”
This course has everything…. fields, forests, trails, puddles, lots of hills, mud, plenty of mud and of course it’s very own Castle! Not many races have one of those!
It was decided by Dean and the IWRR committee that following the success of last years club only run, we would extend the invitation to all Island clubs to take part in this years “just for fun” run and with some negotiation with English Heritage, it would start and finish within the Castle – what a backdrop!
Starting in the medieval castle itself, the runners made their way through the iconic portcullis and out on the tarmac covering Millers Lane, crossing Clatterford Shute and up Nodgham Lane, where the fun really started. 4 miles of muddy, muddy hills took the runners up onto the dizzy heights of the Tennyson Trail giving them panoramic views of all 4 corners of the Island.
They continued on the trail along to Cheverton Farm before crossing Shorwell Shute to Chillerton mast before dropping back down via the steep descent at Garstons before returning along Millers Lane and Castle Lane before a last brutal climb through the shrubbery as they emerge at the rear of the historic monument before crossing the line just inside the castle grounds.
“I was really happy with the turnout given the unsettled weather. It went reallocate y well, few minor creases to iron out but I think this trial run has put us in great stead to make this an official race next year”
Having mastered every distance from parkrun to the marathon, our superstar Stuart Backhouse took on his first Ultra this Saturday.
In true Backhouse style, it wasn’t a flat 30 but a full on 50 miler with copious elevation.
“When I got the opportunity to run it, I jumped at the chance! It meant I would get to run it with my long time friend and work colleague Ian Cullingworth. He’s the king of ultras but has been ill for quite some years. This was his big comeback, I was never ever not going to run it with him”
So along with support crew Caroline and Debs, they jumped in the car and made their way to Waverton in Chester. With an obscenely early 6am start the boys were all smiles on the startline.
Starting from Waverton Villiage Hall, the pair set out into the darkness on the first leg of their journey toward the River Dee and then along the Shropshire Canal
“That was my worst bit weirdly despite it being pretty flat” said Stu “It was 15 miles on road and I had my trail shoes on. It’s tricky making the right shoe choice when it’s multi terrain”
They continued onward to Dunham Hill, where the fun started. Some steep climbs of upto 125m interspersed with equally sharp descents made for some technical running from the daring duo.
They passed the marathon distance with ease as they continued onto Frodsham, the 30 mile mark and more “cheeky” hills as Stu would call them.
“The sandstone trail was amazing! It was worth the climb to get up there with the views across Liverpool and Manchester. I felt really good at this point”
Onward they went, heading South now toward Delamere, a brief bit of respite in the elevations they headed to the checkpoint with only 14 miles to go.
“I still felt good at this point” said Stu “but I was under no illusion that unless you are in the front pack, it is just about survival. Your time and distance are irrelevant, it’s about getting to the finish in one piece”
Unfortunately for Stu and Ian, the biggest climb of the entire run still lay before them in the shape of Kellsall Hill on the Mid Cheshire Ridge. A beast of 154m in elevation (that’s 500ft in old money).
But what goes up must come down, and they made their way down the huge descent to the final checkpoint at Tarporley. It was all downhill and flat for the final 7 miles to the finish.
“We picked about 10 runners off in the last 5 miles”
They’d paced it brilliantly, as they finished strong. Having run the entire course together, they crossed the line in unison in 10 hours and 44 minutes.
“It was so emotional. There were tears. After everything Ian’s been through he smashed it! It’s great to see him back. It was a massive learning curve but I can’t wait to do it again next year”
Amazing running Stuart, the first of many super distances from our super runner, and welcome back Ian, great to see you back doing what you love.
Not content with running one of the toughest marathons he’s ever run, Steve Hickman was back on the startline of marathon 155 just 7 days later. Set in the beautiful South Downs between Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea, this marathon is a bit of a challenge too!
The name Stinger refers to to the 4 stings (hills) encountered along the way. With a huge 2714ft of elevation between them, this can only ever be a tough run.
Despite its famously challenging conditions, our marathon supremo Steve Hickman has gone back for more almost every year since its inaugural running in 2002.
The recent unseasonably warm temperatures had abated somewhat, however what they did leave behind was a clash of weather fronts in the shape of Storm Freya.
“High winds, driving rain, extreme mud, puddles and oh a few hills” Steve described it on Facebook “I’ve run this 17 years in a row, but that was a battle against the elements today”
With his experience, you know that if Steve tells you it was a battle, then it was super tough. He’s run 145 marathons… he would know! But despite the weather he finished 11 minutes quicker than last year, coming over the line in 5.13.43.