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Isle of Wight Fell Running Championships

Ventnor. Famous for its micro climate, bohemian ways and oh yeah……it’s hills. Within its mile and a bit width, the town climbs from sea level to the Islands highest point, some 791ft above said sea level. It’s the location for Ryde Harriers annual Fell series with this year being its 25th Anniversary. 

Started in 1995 by founding member of the National Fell Association and Ryde Harriers and Mayor of Ventnor at the time Brenda Lawson, these races also incorporate the South of England Athletic Association Fell running Championship. Popular with many of the London clubs, this event attracts some of the best Fell runners in the South.

With ascent totalling 1165m over the 3 races, (that’s 3822 feet in old money), the tired legs of competitors will have climbed the equivalent of Mount Snowdon plus a bit more for “luck” by lunchtime on Sunday. 

Kicking off at 11am on Saturday morning, the first race is short and sweet. Well…. it’s….short. Just 2 and a half miles. However, it is from sea level straight up to summit of St Boniface Down and back. So steep it’s hard to run down, let alone run up!

But what goes up, must come down… and down they came….

All our tenacious team returned safely to the finish line at the race HQ of St Catherine’s School in Grove Road, Stu and Hayley quicker than last year, despite the heat. Ross came a cracking 24th with Stu nipping at his heels in 25th. Hayley smashed it by coming 13th woman overall.

Race 1 – The Boniface Fell

Ross Wilkes – 20.05

Stuart Backhouse 20.11

Steve Apsey – 23.06

Hayley Baxter – 24.16

Rob Hunter – 24.51

Claire Mucklow – 27.47

Ian Dyer – 28.13

A couple of hours recovery and;they were back down on the seafront for round two. 

This time 7.5 miles and 443m (1453ft) of elevation lay before them. Once again they set off on the extreme uphill start as the first 2 and a half miles took them back to St Boniface Down, but this time up the other side and onto Down Lane.

Over toward Wroxall they went before some welcome flat ground heading along the cycle path to the the outskirts of Shanklin.

Finally they turned for home and back onto the downland and finally back to the school. Stu showed no ill effects from the mornings outing as he ran faster than the previous year and again returned in 25th place. Hayley returned in 11th place lady overall.

10 miles combined done.. 13 left in the morning….

Race 2 – The Ventnor Horseshoe

Stuart Backhouse – 1.03.20

Ross Wilkes – 1.07.02

Steve Apsey – 1.10.13

Hayley Baxter – 1.13.14

Rob Hunter – 1.19.11

Ian Dyer – 1.29.49

Day 2 and most of yesterday’s competitors were joined by a few more club runners, taking on the longest and last of the events on its own. 

The runners once again congregated at the paddling pool on Ventnor Seafront for the 10.30 start. Like the previous day, the sun was shining and an unseasonably warm 25c was forecast.

A more gentle start this time, as the runners ran along the seafront and cliff path through the temperate Botanic Gardens. They began their ascent through St Lawrence, passing the football ground at Watcombe Bottom before continuing further up to the never ending climb of Stenbury Down.

The runners then continued through the countryside skirting Wroxall and Godshill before passing through the Donkey Sanctuary, which was hosting a family fun day, which really gave the runners a boost as they went through.

A welcome flat section along the old railway line was soon negotiated as they then ascended what are lovingly referred to as “The Steps of Doom”. So steep are these, that you have to use the handrails to drag yourself upward.

At the top, they found themselves back on St Boniface Down and the final descent to the welcome sight of the School for that last torturous uphill push. Tired but triumphant our heroes returned with smiles on their faces. Again Stu excelled himself taking 21st place, not letting Ross pass him this time. Ross finished in 27th with relative new comer Jamie Brenchley less than a minute behind him to take 30th. Paul Muffet showed his form is definitely returning by taking a superb 34th. Hayley took the 12th ladies spot.

Race 3 – The Wroxall Round

Stuart Backhouse- 1.35.11

Ross Wilkes – 1.37.29

Jamie Brenchley – 1.38.19

Paul Muffett – 1.40.49

Steve Apsey – 1.45.20

Hayley Baxter – 1.55.14

Charlotte Williams – 2.18.25

Ian Dyer – 2.23.27

Ian Williams – 2.26.21

Dave Wilcock – 2.37.08

As is usual with this weekend of racing, most of the overall top prizes were swept away by the overwhelming presence of some very high class runners from clubs such as Victoria Park, Frontrunners and Serpentine. Huge pat on the back to the #teamawesome of Stu, Ross, Steve, Ian and Hayley for completing all 3. A particular mention must go to Hayley Baxter whose consistent performance all weekend earnt her 1st IOW lady in all three races & overall, 10th overall and 2nd V40, Stuart Backhouse who was first IWRR back in 2 out of the 3 races earning him first IOW Male, 20th overall and 3rd V40 and Paul Muffett who despite only competing in one race, took 7th V60 overall amidst some top class competition.

Prizes and overall positions

Hayley Baxter – 1st IOW lady, 10th overall and 2nd v40 

Stuart Backhouse 1st IOW Male, 20th overall and 3rd V40

Ross Wilkes – 28th overall

Steve Apsey – 49th 11th V40

Ian Dyer – 82nd overall 

Ironman Wales

He was back! After last year’s catastrophic fall from his bike, Nick Kenney had a score to settle. The disappointment from the previous year behind him, he was ready to reset the clock and restart the challenge. Not only to complete the Ironman, but on the toughest course in Europe.

His displaced fractured distal clavicle fully healed, Nick had 140 miles (226km) of continuous exertion ahead of him. A 3.8k sea swim, straight into a 180k bike ride followed by a marathon to run and all within the cut off time of 16 hours. 

Set in the medieval town of Tenby on the Pembrokeshire Coast in South West Wales, the course utilises the 4km of sandy shores.

Race day…. 7am….. North Beach, Tenby. 

2500 hopefuls, all wishing to test their metal in this ultimate test. 

Nick waited patiently to be set off in his wave, into the calm waters on a beautiful morning.

2 laps of a 1.9km circuit, coupled with an Aussie exit between laps kicked off the proceedings.

He completed the first challenge quicker than last year, in some 74 minutes. A 1km run through the roaring crowds in the town to the transition area and he was on to his bike. The locals maintaining their reputation for being the most supportive on the circuit, turning the town into a real carnival of human endeavour for the day.

A brutal ride of 112 miles now faced him, (well….if he could successfully negotiate the cattle grids that threw him over the handlebars last year) The equivalent distance is from Portsmouth to the Severn Bridge. As if that wasn’t hard enough, it was peppered with 8000ft of twisty turny elevation. Technical riding at the best of times, but it was hot now… unseasonably hot for September.

“The cattle grid phobia remains. I wasn’t taking any chances this year… I walked around them” 

2 loops, one of 70 miles and the 2nd of 42 through the town and around the surrounding area, supporters out in droves.

“The ride was ridiculously tough. 17% climbs and technical dangerous descents, it was mentally and physically draining”

Just over 7 hours later he was off the wheels and back on his feet. Just a marathon to go…. yeah…. JUST! He needed get through the last 26.2 miles of this epic journey.

The hills continued into the run. Four circuits of a 10k loop of Tenby. That’s all that stood between Nick and the finishline. Crowds were lining the streets. So deep in places that the runners had to go in single file as the locals urged them forward and gave every runner the boost they needed.

“The support was the incredible, it was without doubt the best atmosphere on any marathon I’ve ever done”

Nick was running strong despite being on the go now for 8 hours and 49 minutes. He managed to pick up the pace in the second lap, drawing strength from the crowd and from his Ironman brother Kev Winchcombe who was there to support. 

20 miles in and Nick was slowing a bit now. He was exhausted, but he was still moving at a good pace. One lap to go!

Dark now, Nick finally made it to the turn off point. He ran down the red carpet  and toward glory. Two years in the making… he’d done it

“Nick Kenney……YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

Months of rehab, months of patience, months of training. His demons put to bed. 

“I felt super emotional crossing the line”

A real display of determination, dedication and digging in. He tested his metal and found his inner Iron. Nick you really are in inspiration. Last words from him…..

“NEVER AGAIN! Not in Wales anyway… fast and flat next time….” 

New Forest Festival of Running

A short drive from Lymington into the forest, the runners arrived with an hour to spare for the marathoners to collect their numbers. It was chilly as they performed their last minute preparations and tried to avoid the dreaded group warm up! 

9am and Glen and Holly were off …. Holly on her 1st, Glen on the 7th of his 12 in 12 months challenge. Having been sidelined for 2 whole months after a cricket ball rocketed into his kneecap, he was back playing catch up after very little training. 

“I knew this was going to be tough after such a frustrating couple of months, but I had to give it a go”

Out they went from the Polo Ground, the unknown being a factor for both of them. 

It wasn’t long before Stuart Holloway, Jane Andrew and Carolyn Littleton set off in the half, following the same dry and dusty forest paths as the marathoners had for the first 9 miles before turning back for home.

As they morning wore on, the temperatures rose and a glorious blue sky prevailed. The dusty tracks were swapped with country roads passing wild ponies along the way.


Stuart made tidy work of the half as he returned to the show ground in a nifty 97 minutes, so much so that the support crew of the terrible twins, Holmsie and Zoe Elliot missed him! Carolyn was all smiles as she made her way down the finishing straight and over the line in a cracking PB.

“I’ve had a brilliant day” she beams “That was only my third half so I am chuffed to bits to take 2 mins off my time. Lovely scenic course and friendly marshalls”

Jane was unbelievably not too far behind. Having broken her shoulder and suffered, (still suffering) severe tissue damage after a bike accident just a few weeks previously. She’d only run a couple of times and nowhere near the distance. She returned to collect her medal 52 minutes under her target time.

Holly was next to emerge along the dusty track toward the finish. Looking a picture of total control, she cruised her way to a phenomenal debut time of just over 3 hours and 33 minutes, giving her 11th overall and a coveted Good For Age qualifying time. What a way to make an entrance onto the marathon circuit! 

“It was amazing to cross the finish line! I was absolutely over the moon with the time!”

Before long, Glens white visor appeared in the distance and a relieved support crew screamed support as he came past, glad that his knee held out and his 12 in 12 challenge was well and truly back on.

“I struggled a bit from halfway, the lack of training took its toll. But even though it felt hard I pushed on to the end”

Time for a quick drink in front of the live band in the sunshine soaking up the festival atmosphere. Good day had by all!

Half Marathon 

Steve Holloway – 1.27.29

Carolyn Littleton – 2.08.46

Jane Andrew – 2.08.46

Marathon

Holly Newton – 3.33.16

Glen Jones – 04.23.09

Great North Run

Its biggest half marathon in the world. 57 000 people all following the same path, taking the same steps, sharing the same experience. Places are hard to secure with only a ballot or charity system in place, just like the London Marathon. This also ensures that it’s also one of the biggest fundraising events on the running calendar too with over £500 million raised so far over its 39 year history.

3 of our roadrunners were lucky enough to win places in the ballot. Garry Sharp, Beverly James and Steve Hunt all made their right upto the north of the country. 

Started in 1981 by Athletics legend and commentator Brendan Foster, the run was inspired by the Round the Bays race in New Zealand. He devised a point to point race from Newcastle to Sunderland, his home town. 

It kicked off at 10.40am from Claremont Drive in Newcastle with Sir Mo Farah leading them out at the front of the pack hoping for his 6th consecutive win. 

The route took the field through the city centre and across the Tyne Bridge where the red arrows make an appearance if you time it well enough. 

“I felt good for the first 3 miles” said Steve “but I’d woken up with a cold and it was getting really warm so I decided to slow down and enjoy it”

The runners then headed toward Gateshead, the nippy start had faded to hot sunshine and a beautiful afternoon. Finally they made it to the last mile which took them along the seafront at South Shields. 

“The crowds and the other runners were amazing” Beverly tells me 

Sir Mo got his record breaking win in an eye watering 59 minutes.

Garry stormed his way around to finish in his second ever fastest time over the distance.

“I’ve always wanted to run this race. My dad and sister live near the finish so it was great to have them there”

Steve and Beverly made their way to the finish line having enjoyed the experience. Steve also managed to raise £264 for Breast Cancer Now Charity. 

Garry Sharp – 1.36.16

Steve Hunt – 2.27.24

Beverley James – 2.48.27

Overton 5 – HRRL Race 1

The first Sunday of September traditionally sees the first race of the Hampshire Road Race League. 

Hosted by Overton Harriers, the new racing season kicked off in muggy conditions with just 5 Roadrunners taking the journey over the water and up to the top of the County.

The course is gently undulating following the country lanes, mostly closed to traffic, Beginning at Berrydown the fab 5 made their way toward Quidhampton and then out toward Ashe Warren before returning back on itself and splitting at Quidhampton to return to the Race HQ at Overton Recreation Centre.

First IWRR across the finishing line were the super duo of Steve Bennett and Judy McCabe. It was the pairs first competitive race for a while as Judy is gradually recovering her fitness after an extended period out. Steve took 15th V60 whilst Judy took 11th V40. Great to have her back competing again.

Tanya Clifford was next home taking 5 minutes off her course PB there. 

“I really enjoyed that even though it was lumpy!” she beams 

Claire Jasper showed that she is also on her way back to fitness after giving birth not so long ago. 

“My pace is improving every week, the work is paying off! I nervously thought I wanted to get under 55 mins but I smashed it” she proudly writes on Facebook.

Tracey Houdoire completed the bidding for team IWRR, finishing comfortably in under an hour.

Steve Bennett – 41.49

Judy McCabe – 41.49

Tanya Clifford – 49.30

Claire Jasper – 54.34

Tracey Houdoire – 57.59

Andover Trail Marathon

The trails of the Test Valley were the venue for marathon mogul Steve Hickman’s 159th Marathon. Promising some “thigh burning climbs” the elevation is pretty tasty, with a maximum elevation of 280m the views are pretty good too. 

Starting at Enham Alamein in Andover. Steve wound his way along to Smannell, through Little London and through Hurstbourne Tarrent, upto Combe and then slowly wound its way back via Vernham Dean, Lower Chute and Tangley before returning to the Enham Trust building via a welcome downhill finish.

Having suffered with an elusive running mojo all Summer, the doyenne of the distance was really pleased he “put his big boy pants on” and ran it.

“I had excuses planned for not doing it, but I’m really glad I did. It’s a lovely low key, proper trail marathon”

He finished in 4.58.18

Glad the mojo is returning Mr.H 

Marathon number 159 – done ✅ 

Chase the Sun 10k

A race on a Thursday? In the evening? Unheard of! 

But that’s exactly what super speedster Simon Pilcher was upto this week.

With 3 distances up for grabs this little evening jaunt promised to be fast and flat. Set at the magnificent Prestwold Hall just outside Loughborough in Leicestershire the course utilises the race track there.  The glorious backdrop of the Cromwellian Manor House. 

Simon opted for the 10k. Which meant 4 laps of the race circuit. Setting off at 7pm there was no problem for posthaste Pilcher to get the race got by the time the sun set. 

“There was a stiff headwind on the main straight” he tells me

Despite this though, he managed to sneak on to the podium in 3rd place and a yet another PB in a tidy 35.27.

Isle of Wight Half Marathon

The runners woke up to torrential downpours on Sunday as they were donning their white vests and lacing up their trainers to make the journey over to Ryde for the Isle of Wight Half Marathon.

Luckily the rain cleared up just in time as they lined up on the startline outside the Rowing Club at Appley. Famously undulating, the course meanders from the park along Calthorpe Road and along Bullen Road before turning into Attrills Lane and then toward Nettlestone and then up Pondwell Hill. 

It then turned back up Bullen Road for the second time before turning onto Beeper Shute before turning onto a welcome bit of downhill in the shape of Carpenters Road and onto St.Helens. 

They then turned back onto Attrills Lane, Bullen Road and Calthorpe Road for the equally undulating return journey before they finally reached the finish back at Appley Park.

Stuart Backhouse was the first IWRR across the line taking 13th overall and 2nd V45. Michael Douglas was next in, taking 18th place. 

“It’s great to be racing again after my recent foot injury”

Scott Bradley put in a cracking performance to finish in under 90 minutes to secure his place in the 3rd place men’s team. Richard Harvey, Simon Randall and Jamie Brenchley all came in with a couple of minutes of each other taking the 4th place men’s team.

For the ladies Jodie Wilmott took 5th Female overall, 1st V35 and the 1st IOW Female trophy. Hayley Baxter was only 2 places behind to take 7th female and 1st V40. Margaret Niland-Murphy showed she is returning to form by taking 16th female, 2nd V50 and earning team IWRR the first place team medal. Sarah Ward, Chani Jones and Carolyn Littleton ran themselves into the 4th place team position.

A hard run for everyone, team IWRR gave it their all.

Particular mention goes to Lucy Deville for takes the top of the podium in the V65 category, Sarah Ward for taking 3rd V50 and Chani Jones, Gill Shaw & Carolyn Littleton for securing 4th places in their categories.

 Lyn Snow also deserves a mention for completing her first race after breaking her shoulder during the Round the Island Relay a few weeks ago.

Stuart Backhouse – 1.25.51

Michael Douglas – 1.26.26

Scott Bradley – 1.29.49

Richard Harvey – 1.30.57

Simon Randall – 1.32.39

Jamie Brenchley – 1.33.02

Jodie Wilmott – 1.38.05

Matt Fletcher – 1.41.04

Tim Keyte – 1.41.34

Hayley Baxter – 1.42.54

Simon Paul – 1.45.50

Garry Sharp – 1.48.12

Richard Clark – 1.50.45

Margaret Niland-Murphy- 1.54.27

Andy Tickner – 1.58.49

Sarah Ward – 2.00.33

Chani Jones – 2.01.54

Dave Wilcock – 2.06.08 

Carolyn Littleton – 2.20.19

David Blake – 2.24.48

Louise Morris – 2.24.48

Kelvin Mansfield – 2.25.28

Lucy Deville – 2.33.42

Debbie Radestock – 2.38.10

Gill Shaw – 2.39.48

Jo Randall – 2.41.41

Eloise Radestock – 2.42.52

Callie Hatcher – 2.49.07

Lyn Snow – 3.00.47

Two Tunnels Marathon

The Two Tunnels Marathon in Bath. This beautiful marathon not only takes in the finest sights of this glorious Georgian city but it also offers the unique experience of 4km of underground running as the course takes in the converted railway tunnels that pass beneath the city.

Ross Wilkes made the trip over the historic city to take on his 8th marathon. 

Starting at Brickfields Park, this 2 loop marathon course went straight into the shorter Devonshire Tunnel followed by the significantly longer Combe Down Tunnel emerging on the top of Tucking Mill Viaduct. 

“Running through the tunnels was nice and cool, although they were playing classical music in there which was bizarre”

Ross snaked his way through the winding lanes following the National Cycle Network signs to the picturesque village of Monkton Combe and then onto the old track bed of the Bristol & North Somerset Railway.

Ross then found himself running alongside the Somerset Coal Canal and then at the beautiful Dundas Aquaduct merging with the Kennet & Avon canal.  Ross then continued through the Limpley Stoke Valley passing the Warleigh Weir, Sham Castle and Browns Folly before making the return to the start pastCleveland House, Pulteney Bridge and Bath Abbey.

He ran his first lap brilliantly, using his experience and keeping a good pace. 

“I started to drop off a bit at mile 17. I accidentally drank some really strong electrolyte drink at the aid station instead of water. By mile 20 I had awful acid reflux. I was in pain and felt so nauseous that I had to run/walk the last 5k”

And to make matters worse there were traffic light crossings, steps and lots of people milling around the Abbey area. Despite this, Ross still crossed the line in a cracking 3 hours and 54 minutes.

Great going rocket Ross!

Midnight Marathon

Yes they were back! The original goon squad were back at their favourite race for their legendary “boys night out” at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park over the water. 

Never run without some sort of drama, this year didn’t disappoint as Dan Williams, Ian Russell, Michael Coultrup and Bill Goozee lined up alongside new recruit Simon Riley for an evening of fun.

An out and back race, the course takes on the South Downs Way. Starting at 9pm the boys had half an hour of daylight before it dipped below the horizon and the real test started. Following the public footpath signs it can be easy to miss a turning in daylight, let alone in darkness.

They all started off well, making the most of the flatter initial miles around the country park section before beginning the chalky climb on to the ancient ridges, nearly 4000ft of ascent laying before them. 

The rain of the previous days made the course slippery in places as the boys negotiated their way along. Dan and Bill ran together, leaving the front pack to go slightly ahead. Micheal, Ian and Simon running comfortably within themselves.

Heading toward Buriton, Ditcham and South Harting, they reached the halfway turning point at Cocking for the return on this out and back. Bill and Dan working their way along nicely until both of their stomachs took a south turn… literally!

“We both had the same sandwiches on the ferry… can’t be a coincidence surely” laughs Dan 

After a pit stop or 2 (or 7 unbelievably!) and several pieces of kit lighter they somehow still managed to find themselves in 3rd and 4th place. Bill stacked it at around 24 miles and Dan went ahead. 

They crossed the line retaining their positions somewhat minus their dignity. Dan taking 2nd V40 and Bill 2nd SM. Ian wasn’t too far behind taking 14th overall and 7th V40. 

“I started slower this year so I would feel stronger in the second half. It definitely worked as I was passing people left, right and centre in the last 10k” said Ian “and no… I didn’t get lost!… for once !”

Michael was next across the line taking 3rd V50. The biggest cheer has to go to Simon who despite having only run 18 miles in training smashed out his first marathon in over 20 years.

“I stuck to my nutrition plan and still felt good at 20 miles. I was worried about getting lost on the return leg but found a little group to stick with. It was the hardest run I’ve ever done.. I’ve never seen so many hills! It was a physical and mental challenge but I’m happy to say I survived!”

Dan Williams – 3.53.35

Bill Goozee – 3.54.05

Ian Russell – 4.16.10

Michael Coultrup – 4.35.15

Simon Riley – 4.53.53