Still a relatively new race to the HRRL calendar, Alresford Rotary Club play host to this annual fundraising event which has so far raised a brilliant amount of pounds for charities in the local community there.
This race however is always a bit of a difficult one for those of us who are Isle of Wight Festival goers, as it often tends to clash with that final day of partying, so to muster up the inner strength to refrain from going full throttle on the Saturday night, and then to actually get out of bed on the Sunday morning, deserves a medal all of its own! But that’s exactly what three of our truly saintly superstars managed to do.
Beginning at Arlebury Park, our trusty team of 3, Kevin Driscoll, Mike Upstell and Lisa Upstell, lined up alongside 450 others to embark on the 6 mile journey through the picturesque centre of Alresford before taking to the lanes surrounding the area.
They passed through the Watercress beds, before emerging on to the Avenue and returning to Arlebury Park to cross the finish line. With their well earned reward of an eco friendly wooden medal and a rather nice looking cookie, our three runners were all triumphant in their quest and ran brilliantly.
For Mike this was his first official race and also his first race as a Road Runner and he ran brilliantly to bring it home dipping under the hour mark, so a massive well done to him. And what a great inspiration he is for any of our members graduating from the Couch 2 5k programme.
Lisa later messaged me about the race to say “It was very lumpy, constant up and downs the whole way! Lovely route and we both enjoyed the day out. It was mikes first race as a RR, he enjoyed it and came in under the hour! We also saw Kev there too representing the RR’s. All in all a great morning out.”
Described by organisers at Relish Running (calm down, there’s no burgers involved) as one of the most scenic events in the Country, with a trail run for all the family. Distances include 1k, 3k, 6k, 10k, Half Marathon and a whopping great Marathon, across Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills. Cheddar Gorge is somewhat steep in places and hugely steep everywhere else, and the terrain is varied and exciting!
The routes take in breathtaking views and lung aching ascents, most notably the affectionately dubbed ‘Hell Steps’, from where runners can expect to experience wonderful cliff top running along the Gorge edge.
Whichever distance competitors choose to take part in, they will see some of the most beautiful and remarkable landscapes of any run in the country, with a mix of open fields, rocky terrain and woodland trails. The 10km, Half Marathon and Marathon all include breath taking running along the gorge cliff top path which has the most incredible views across the Somerset levels and the Bristol Channel.
This then is surely what attracted husband and wife duo Keith and Carolyn Ruth to take their running shoes, and their famously photographed thumbs up, all the way to the big England to take part in this awesome event.
So, with so much on offer, which race did they choose, I hear you ask?
Well not content with a little weekend away and just one race thrown in, they opted to up the anti slightly. Two races then???……..nope! Three………surely it had to be three???……..wrong!
They only went and signed themselves up for FIVE RACES!!! FIVE! With one of them being an extremely hilly half marathon, or as Keith later described it “Beautiful but brutal….”
Before they set out on their travels to take their legs to oblivion and beyond, Keith got in touch to let me know about their plans. “Carolyn and I are off in our Camper van to the races this weekend. We are running 5 races over 2 days as part of an “Omnium” style event around the beautiful Cheddar Gorge. 4 races on Saturday: 1Km, a Hill Climb, 100 metre sprint followed by a 10K. Then a Half Marathon on the Sunday around and along the top of Cheddar Gorge which hopefully will be filled with amazing views as well as the advertised “Hell Steps” and running through streams. We can’t wait.”
Well guys, they did exactly what they signed up for, and for this report my words can’t begin to do it justice, so, I’m going to let their photos do the talking.
Keith later went on to describe the event on Facebook, saying “What a weekend we’ve had around Cheddar Gorge. Relish Running Omnium – an event with 5 races over 2 days. Sunday was a Half Marathon for me and the 10k for Caz. Beautiful but Brutal is how I’d describe the Half. We reached the highest point of the Mendip Hills. We had an awesome time. Would definitely recommend giving it a go. A really well organised event by Relish Running.”
So what did they do after the race on Sunday? Feet up with a cup of tea and the Sunday papers? Trip to the pub for a well earned roast dinner? Nope, they walked up to the top of the Gorge to enjoy the views again! Well why wouldn’t you?!?
What an epic achievement guys! Very well done, and I’m not sure about everyone else, but this is definitely one for my list!
A community focused event, St Albans Half Marathon aims to raise money for local charities and organisations as well as put on a great day out for all the family.
Those looking for a challenge can take on the scenic Half Marathon or Walking Half, which takes you on a challenging but rewarding route through the country lanes of St Albans.
Starting and finishing in Verulamium Park, the St Albans Half Marathon takes runners through the stunning country lanes of St Albans. And although its likely that there may be a hill or two, organisers guarantee that the view from the top will definitely make it worthwhile.
Known as the friendliest Half Marathon in the area, marshals are there to cheer competitors on and entertain with their fancy dress, and the free ice lolly waiting at the finish line is promised to get you through those last few miles!
I’m not entirely sure that the promise of an ice lolly was what drew our very own Lyn Snow to enter this one though. Our Lyn is only counting the medals, and this race was to make it number 57 for this half marathon junkie who is on a quest to reach a grand old total of 61 Half Marathon medals by the end of 2022, her 61st year.
Lyn secured her bling by finishing her race in 3:05:57 and later told her fellow club members that the race was “very undulating and hot, and have to confess a lot of jeffing went on.”
Jeffing or no jeffing Lyn, you did it and we have no doubt that you will achieve your goal of 61 half marathons this year. Very well done.
Famously tough, the Needles half marathon course is just about as multi terrain as you can get. Tarmac, footpath, grass and sand all feature as this course winds its way around the 13.1 miles from the West Wight Sports Centre and back again.
Being a good old British bank holiday weekend, the weather had naturally taken a bit of a turn from the sunnier skies that we’d been seeing for the previous couple of days, but this wasn’t a bad thing for our 18 hill loving superstars who all assembled on the start line enjoying the slightly cooler climate ready to royally wear their club colours on the official day of the Queens Platinum Jubilee.
10 am came and off they went.
Runners quickly got stretched out in the first disturbingly flat 5 miles, before they started making their way up, then up, then up.
The course took them off toward Norton and then along the beach at Totland before beginning the series of climbs at The Needles, Headon Warren and Tennyson Down. With some 362m of elevation between them it is really tough going.
Hill upon hill upon hill piled on the pressure, but one by one they made their way around the course being spurred on all the way by those amazing familiar faces from family and friends who had come out to support on the day.
They all heroically pushed through with plenty of smiles along the way until they emerged on to the field back at the West Wight Sports Centre and over the finish line.
Sean Williams continued his excellent form, flying round the course to finish in a fantastic 4th place over all, 1st Isle of Wight Road Runner……. and not just any “Cowes” Runner (pardon you County Press!) and 1st V50.
Stephen Johnson was the second Road Runner home shorty followed a few minutes later by Steve Apsey.
For the ladies, first to return triumphant was Hannah East who managed to take the 8th position in her Senior Female age category, followed just under a minute later by Sarah Ward who again ran another great race and also finished with the crown of second place in her FV50 age category. Third home for the ladies was Elaine Harris who only days before was still undecided whether to even run. Well what a great decision she made as she ran her socks off and did her club proud to take the third place in the FV50’s. Awesome running ladies!
In they came, one by one. All having run their hearts out on those hills.
Particular mentions also go to a few other top finishers in their age categories. Sue Hunter who finished 5th in her FV60 category, new member John Bye (ran unattached) who finished 6th in the MV40’s, and Kevin Driscoll for clinching the 9th spot in the MV60’s. Great running all.
Finally, a big shout out and well done to all the Road Runners who gave up their weekend to volunteer. From marshalling to backmarking, the Road Runners gave up their time to support not only the event itself, but their fellow club mates, giving them the vital boost they need on a challenging run such as this. That is why we are quite simply the #bestrunningclubintheworld
100 miles of rolling countryside made up the course for this invitation only event. From glorious Beachy Head in East Sussex following the South Downs Way from point to point, ending up in Chilcombe near Winchester.
One of only 15 National Trails in England, the South Downs Way spans 3 counties. It follows ancient routes along the ridges and chalk escarpments of the Downs. It takes in the famous Long Man of Wilmingham, the Chanctonbury Ring and Devils Dyke the view from which artist Constable described as “the grandest in the world”
As if negotiating the terrain isn’t challenge enough, it is completely self navigated with only tiny signs to follow.
Our team of 6, accompanied by their trusty support crew made their way to the early start at Beachy Head. Warm already despite the early hour, the breeze was minimal and the temperature was climbing.
Nick Kenney set out first from Beachy Head, starting the bidding for team IOWRR on this epic journey. A nice downhill sent our recent Ultra runner Nick on his way on this undulating 6 mile leg to Exceat. It was here that Steve Apsy took the baton as he embarked on his way to Bo-Peep passing the famous Long Man of Wilmington on the way.
He smashed it though handing over to Phil Mannall. Phil set out on his 5 mile journey to Itford Farm where team member Andy Wheeler was waiting for him.
Andy had a reasonably flat start (well in a South Downs context) to his leg, but it wasn’t long before the elevation started. Once it started it went on and on and on on, this being the second longest leg of the entire event. The end came at last as Andy made it to the Newmarket layby where Nick Kenney was patiently waiting to kick off with his second leg of the journey.
The brutal 5 miles of climb to Ditchling Beacon was no match for our Nick who conquered his second leg amazingly, passing the baton on to Immanuel Skeet.
Immanuel banged out the miles as he made his way to Saddlescombe passing Devils Dyke. 34 miles behind them, the boys were going great guns.
Our Rocket Ross Wilkes took the baton from Immanuel and continued onward to Adur, comparatively one of the kinder legs this was a perfect opportunity for our in house speedster to make up some time and close down the competitor’s. Handing over to Phil, he then had a hard task as he pretty much has 5 miles of continuous elevation gain. Passing the prehistoric hill fort of Chanctonbury Ring, he finally found a bit of downhill relief in the last half mile as he descended toward Washington.
Steve took the baton from a rather hot and bothered Phil who was feeling the pressure and the heat. The next leg wasn’t any easier either. Steve had a whopper of a hill, (650ft within a mile) taking him up onto the high ground where Nick was waiting to start leg 3 of 3.
The downhills weren’t any easier either. Peppered with large stones and boulders, roots and loose gravel, they were trecherous. Nevertheless the boys were smashing it.
Nick battered the next leg. The 4 miles from Springhead Hill to Houghton Lane were devoured up in lightning time passing over to Immanuel who continued on the momentum as he made his way up Bignor Hill to Littleton Farm.
Ross took on the next part of the journey. No whoppers on this leg, but constant undulation took Ross across the high ground before dropping down to Hill Barn Farm in the Valley. 64 miles in the bag and still some of the biggest climbs were still to come. The heat taking its toll now, and the difficulties of stopping and starting after running so hard on the hills were starting to set in as stiffness and fatigue began to appear. The clock was ticking as they had to make it to the end of Leg 15 before the cut off time, otherwise it was all over. They would be pulled from the race and It would have all been for nothing.
Andy had a rude awakening to this next leg as he was sent immediately up Cocking Hill. It proved no problem though as he motored up it along to Harting Down where Phil was again waiting. He took the team onward, up and down the relentless undulation to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
Getting there now, they were 75% of the way to their destination. The next leg was crucial. Only 4 miles, but it contained the infamous Butser Hill. Not only that, the cut off point was at the next changeover point and they couldn’t afford to lose any time. All the pressure then for Immanuel who had picked up the task of taking on this beast.
Off he went, giving it everything. Desperate to catch sight of the changeover point at the Sustainability Centre before time ran out. Keep going, keep going. Before he knew it he was there with Andy waiting for his teammate despite having only finished his last run two legs ago! They had made it in time, and so they continued, buoyed on by surviving the tight cut off time which allows for an average of just 7.20 minute per mile over this brutal course.
Andy took the bull by the horns and annihilated his final leg. Plenty of downhill on this section as he pushed on and then finally up Old Winchester Hill.
Just 2 legs left as Andy handed over to Ross who was now well rested from his last leg. The longest leg of the entire relay was second to last on the list, cruel on tired legs for many, but Ross’s speed and endless determination saw him spank through some technical downhills before his last climb took him up to Steve at Holden Farm for that final exchange of the metal tube that had travelled with them for 90 odd miles.
Steve kept it moving, still running at a phenomenal pace despite being on his final leg. Knowing that the end was just a couple of miles away. One more hill. The last of what must have been hundreds by now. Up he went, running as hard as he could until that long awaited finish line came into sight.
They’d done it! Despite some injuries and a little bit of getting lost, they’d finished! 100 miles covered and some quad crippling 3800m of ascent. That’s almost halfway up Mount Everest or two thirds of the way up Kilimanjaro! Beers in hand they were tired, drained and dehydrated, but jubilant. Not all teams make it back to Winchester, but our heroes returned victorious! Absolutely amazing work chaps! very well done.
Big respect also to the support crew of Ian Dyer, Pat Harris and Zoe Elliott for timekeeping, navigating and keeping the boys fed and watered.
Finish Position – 17th Overall – 13 hours 40 minutes and 01 second.
The Chester Half Marathon offers one of the flattest routes in many years, with a spectacular City Centre finish and taking in some of Chester’s historic landmarks right at the very start of the race too.
The route starts at Chester Racecourse, sending runners heading up Watergate Street, through the Walls and the historic centre of Chester before leaving the city through the Garden Quarter and heading out into the countryside on Parkgate Road. The picturesque route takes competitors out past little Mollington Hall onto the roman road, winding its way through the pretty villages of Mollington and Lea by Backford before looping back round and returning to the city to finish for an inspiring finish outside the city’s Town Hall and cathedral with cheering crowds and welcoming spectators.
Competing in red white and blue……..no, not IOWRR red white and blue, but actual Great Big England red white and blue, was second claim club member and speedster Trish Train. Trish was going out with only one thing on her agenda……..seek and destroy! This was a race where time and placing was paramount, and with a game plan at the ready, that’s exactly what she set out to do.
“I was advised in a National event to race for position rather than going for a time” says Trish. “The England competitors all had to wear a bib with age category on their back so seeing competitors was easier. I decided to keep with runner Steph Godfrey who I had beaten by just 1 sec at the qualifying Wokingham Half, so i knew we were fairly evenly matched.”
The race started at 9, just as the sun really came out, making it a hot run on an undulating course. After a bit of cat and mouse Trish made her move at mile 5, overtaking Steph, mindful there maybe more V55s ahead that she hadn’t spotted. But she settled in and felt good. However at mile 11 Trish was caught by her mouse Steph, so she knew from previous race experiences that she needed to assert herself and reclaim the lead straight away. So she put her head down, dug in and had enough in the tank to overtake once again. The last mile was upon her but there was to be no respite just yet as an uphill slog awaited, but victory was in touching distance and so she used everything she had left in the tank to get to the line. Trish tells me “I was so thrilled to find I had won the National Championship V55 title, automatically selecting me to run for England in Tenby in July. However I have too many family commitments to compete. Receiving my trophy from commonwealth competitor Johnny Mellor completed an amazing weekend.”
A bright and sunny morning greeted runners of all ages and abilities as they warmed up to compete at the Newchurch Primary School’s fun run.
Parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, all lined up to help raise money for the schools annual fundraising event. The brainchild of the schools PE teacher Adam Tuck, the event is designed to be accessible to all.
Started in 2015 this fun run has grown to be more popular than they ever imagined.
Entrants could choose either 9k, 4.5k or 900m in distance to earn their bespoke bamboo bling at the finishline.
Plenty of roadrunners gave up their Sunday mornings to support the event, and were duly rewarded.
Sounds like it was great fun all round. Well done gang for supporting another local event and another local cause.
Hampton Court Palace and it’s infamous gardens are visited by thousands of people every year and the gardens were once the exclusive playground of kings and queens. To name but a few, this palace and its gardens have seen the likes of Henry VIII strutting through his heraldic Privy Garden and hunting deer in Bushy Park.
From Charles II to William III & Mary II, it’s fair to say that there’s been some pretty important footsteps made around this historic attraction.
None more royal though than the footsteps of two of our finest, Guy and Lindsay Mattinson who travelled to Surrey on the 22nd May 2022 to don their suitably royal colours to run the Hampton Court Palace 10k.
The Palace 10k is a flat and picturesque course which starts and finishes inside Hampton Court Palace. Running at this historic venue offers not only a perfect opportunity to run a personal best but to visit and run inside one of the UK’s major tourist attractions.
For new member Lindsay, this was to be her first run, and the night before the race Guy tells me “I am nursing a very nervous wife as she takes on her first run, donning the famous red white and blue.”
But those nerves were soon to disappear as our husband and wife team took their places on the start line in a near 1300 strong field. Basking in the bright sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere, the all important gun sounded and off they went!
And one after the other in they came across the finish line, with two fantastic results between them!
First in was super speedy Guy with a time earning him the third place in his age category.
And Lindsay smashed her first event coming in just on the hour and looking fantastically strong in her tricolour kit. What an awesome performance and I’m sure we’re just seeing the start of things to come for Lindsay.
Later that day Guy contacted me to say, “We both had a great day out at Hampton Court. A beautiful place with stunning weather. Very chilled atmosphere, with Mo Farah making a guest appearance. Not a course we will be rushing back to do. I thought we were on road all the way but ended up being like 10k Parkrun with the last half being trail/ grass. Lindsay was very happy with her time for her first outing 1.00.10, despite not going under the hour as planned.”
“I was happy ending up third in my V50 category with a time of 43.10, above all beating Mo, (we won’t mention he was out running with what looked like his wife!).”
Haha, whether he was with his wife or not Guy, I think we’ll all agree “a win is a win” so definitely take it………and definitely brag about it! 😂
With only 10 races making up the HRRL calendar this year, the season is almost over and the 9th race took place just across the water in Southampton luring a total of 14 sleepy Road Runners from the warmth of their cosy beds.
The Royal Victoria Country Park was the venue for Southampton Athletic Clubs 10k race.
Adjoining Netley Police College and close to the Hamble River, this race hadn’t been run since pre covid times so some runners had already secured their places two years ago! Luckily there were still some places made available despite the rollover, giving people the chance to make a last minute attempt to improve their places in the league table.
The weather to begin with was fair and all was looking well as runners blasted their way around the winding 3 laps of the Country Park then muster all they have left for a last 600m dash to the finish line adjacent to the historic chapel.
Alas this wasn’t to be a story about being “Home and Dry”, as the heavens opened and the monsoon like conditions set in.
“It was so nice to start with and then the torrential rain came……I was just about to start my last lap” Sarah Sharp told me later. “The puddles got big quickly so it felt like running through a stream at times. Thankfully our reward was the usual hand towel at the finish……..very handy!”
Ross Wilkes was the first Road runner back in a magnificent chip time of 35:25, taking 10th Senior Male, 13th overall and bagging himself yet another brand new shiny PB. Matt Fletcher was only five minutes behind him, with Garry Sharp hot on his heels to take the 8th place in the M50 category and completing our first three chaps over the finish line.
Immanuel Skeet was next home dipping just under 42 minutes, followed by Tim Keyte taking the10th spot for the M50’s. And completing the round up for the boys was George Butler, with a great result on his return to racing, dipping just under the 50 minute mark.
Hannah East lead the girls home with a fantastic result finishing under 50 minutes, with Carolyn Littleton running the course for the first time and finishing only a couple of minutes behind to take 7th for F55 category.
Carolyn later went on to tell me “First time at Netley for me and really happy to be second lady RR in. I had road shoes on and found the course got a bit slippy in the rain. Good team day out though and lots of laughs considering we got so wet. Bridget’s lemon cake was lush.”
Second claim member Jen Gallop debuted in her club colours taking third lady home and earning herself a fantastic 10k PB. Well done Jen and congratulations on your first run as an IOWRR.
Caroline Curliss had another strong run and was the next lady to cross the line, shortly followed by Sarah Sharp who notably ran her fastest 10k since 2017! Brilliant work, well done Sarah!
Rounding it up for the ladies were Bridget Keyte coming in on the hour, Tarnia Butler, making a welcome return to racing with husband George which is great to see, was just a couple of minutes later, followed by Tanya Clifford also looking great back in the red white and blue vest to complete team IOWRR.
What a humbling sight. 8000 walkers (and runners!) stretched from point to point like a slithering golden snake across our beautiful diamond island. Everyone of them raising money for patient care at our local hospice. All taking on, what is a very real challenge. 26.5 ish miles of country lanes, ups, downs, hills, golf courses and cliffs.
Each participant taking part for their very own reasons, whether it be with someone’s memory held dear in their hearts, whether its to support a charity without which the island could not give the level of care to many of our residents that they so desperately need and deserve, or even its just for the challenge itself, each individuals personal reason keeping them going over the ever increasing difficulty, spurring them them on to reach that finish line on the Western point of the Island.
Started in 1991 by our very own Elaine Harris’ father Bill Bradley and his mate Frank Stevens. It started as a team building exercise for the staff at Moreys and has since evolved into the largest sponsored walk of its kind not just in England, but in Europe! Mind blowing!!!
“Dad was hoping for 2000 walkers in the year 2000, not knowing that he sadly wouldn’t be there to see it (he died in September 1999) But we surpassed 2000 that year and look at it now! He would be blown away!” said Lainey. Elaine herself has done it every year apart from when she was pregnant with her girls, and on those years she even marshalled!
The event has raised in excess of £4 million for patient care at The Earl Mountbatten Hospice since 1991. It takes a phenomenal amount of organisation to make this colossal event happen. Over 300 volunteers and marshalls on the day keep everyone on track, watered, timed and cheery.
This year, as always, Walk the Wight attracted many Road Runners to take part, and being runners, some of us, for some reason, decide that walking some of the steepest climbs on the island all in one day is not challenge enough. Oh no, we have to ramp up the effort levels and run them instead! Not for all of us this year though. Pat and Elaine Harris, Gill Bushell, Alison Butcher, Chani Jones and Julie Ray decided to take on the walk with their families and friends. Julie Ray walking to mark the 10 year anniversary of a dear friend who sadly passed away and who had been cared for by the amazing nurses at the hospice.
But yes, whether it was for the full distance or the half, the rest of us nutters did decide to run it!
Starting at Britten Norton, the first “half” of some 12.5 miles takes in the dizzy heights of Culver Down, through to Mersley Down onward over some of the only flat sections to Arreton Barns where there is always a lovely atmosphere. Continuing onward and inevitably upward onto St George’s Down, skirting along the golf course, back down to the infamous Nunnery Lane and finishing at Carisbrooke Castle where there is a buzzy, party vibe.
Sarah Sharp, Bridget Keyte and Lyn Snow being three Road Runners who began their journey at this point.
For those running the whole course, Carisbrooke Castle was kind of the mid point, and on a day where the sun had decided to shine in all its splendour, making an already tough challenge even tougher in the heat, James Shoulder and Dawn Moses decided that half way was plenty and proudly went to collect their halfway finishers medals.
For the rest of the crew, onwards and upwards they went…….up and up and up on to the Tennyson trail from Newport. Continuing on the high ground along through Brighstone Forest to Mottistone Down and on to Brook Down. It is at this stage that the challenge really goes up a gear. From this 18 mile point, there is no shade from the sun, the hills become sharper and they just keep coming……..one after the other. On tired legs, the runners really had to start digging deeper here.
Once they reached Freshwater Golf Course, a little bit of relief started to set in as Freshwater Bay comes into view. This is the last checkpoint before the finish. However with Tennyson Monument looming in the background, the last 4 miles are indeed a battle of will, grit and determination.
Continuing ever forward, suddenly the sea is front, right and left. The Western point was beneath their feet. A sharp right turn at the Needles Battery, fired the runners downhill (at last) and the finishing line swung into view. The marathon distance is surpassed along this stretch along with the realisation that they have indeed made it, all they’ve got to do is put one foot in front of the other and hold on.
Crossing the line there were cheers, relief and laughter. Personal barriers pushed, goals met, achievements made. A lot of feel good factor, knowing not only that they had done themselves proud, but that they had contributed to this amazing event and this amazing cause.
Same time, same place next year? Oh go on then….. BRING IT ON!!!!!