All posts by Sarah Holmes

Beachy Head Marathon

Formerly known as the Seven Sisters Marathon, this is one of the biggest off road marathons in the country. Brutally undulating this is no easy ride. Despite this fact, our Marathon supremo Steve Hickman cites this as his favourite race.

“It’s one of those Marathons I recommend everyone should try. At least once!”

Starting at Bedes School in Eastbourne, the course starts as it means to go on.. uphill! The route takes the runners though Jevington, Alfriston and Litlington. Onward to Fristin Forest and the Cuckmere Valley.

When I asked him which bits were his favourite, Mr. Hickman told me this,

“Best bits? All of it! Well apart from the last 6 miles when the route climbs and dips The Seven Sisters. That’s brutal!”

And that’s coming from the ultimate marathoner, despite knowing exactly what is coming next (having run this race an unbelievable 15 times previously)

The route covers an amazing 3850ft of elevation, with over 300 steps to clamber up and 14 gates to hop over.

Steve ran well, negotiating all 26.2 miles in 5.19.44 his second fastest time over the course.

“I love the toughness of this one. I’ll be back next year!”

Sugar Loaf Fell

Fresh off the back of his stonking performance at the Great South Run last weekend, our superstar junior Harry Rann took himself off to the Brecon Beacons in Wales to compete in Mynydd Du running club’s 6 mile race up the Sugar Loaf.

This small and intimate race saw only 138 starters begin on the short but sharp upward trajectory from Abergavenny Leisure Centre to the summit some 1600ft away.

Our junior fireball showed no sign of fatigue from his phenomenal PB the weekend before as he started cautiously near to the back of the field but soon found himself powering up the ascent with vigour.

Despite being warm but slightly breezy at ground level, the wind chill factor at the pinnacle was a bracing 1c. With few competitors left in front of him Harry reached the summit amid thick fog. On only a partially marked course, Harry found this part if the course difficult.

However it did not affect his performance as he remained strong despite the poor visibility into the descent and back to the finishline. He crossed the line in 47.38, a fantastic 8th place and 2nd U23.

Exmoor Ultra

Voted one of the hardest ultra races in the country, this epic challenge has it all! Coastal path, woodland valleys and some of the most stunning scenery anyone could would wish for.

Described online as “brutal” and “strenuous” this ultra is not for the faint hearted. 30 miles covering 1710m of elevation (Walk the Wight is “only” 787m by comparison), including the sharpest coastal hill climb in the entire country. One might think that it is for the seasoned ultra runner only.

Enter our own pocket rocket Lou Howell. Picking this as her ultra running debut, our diminutive dynamo was trepidatious

“I was super nervous beforehand…. I knew Exmoor was going to be a challenge!”

Starting and finishing at Cloud Farm near Lynton, the course takes the runners South following the Badgeworthy Water across the moorland before crossing the River Exe and before turning North to follow the Hoaroak Water.

“It was brutal running the hills and marshes, but it was probably the most beautiful run because of the views of the hills and the coast”

Onward our little luminary went toward Bridge Ball and the 13 mile mark. It was here that Lou along with around 70% of the field was directed the wrong way. This meant she and many others missed out a 3 mile loop out toward Lynmouth. However she was unaware of this at the time and she continued to the coast and the steep coastal climb. Lou then followed the South West Coast Path toward Culbone (which incidentally is the longest stretch of wooded coastland in the UK), where she made the turn for home and the final 5 miles of the challenge.

It was here that the newlywed’s husband Tim was on route and the discrepancy about the distance became apparent.

“Tim was at 27 miles, but my watch was saying 24.5! It was amazing seeing him there but I got really confused about the distance”

But she collected her thoughts and regained her focus to get the last 3 miles run with the determination she always shows and crossed the finishline back at Cloud Farm with a smile on her face.

“It was brilliant as there was no pressure, more of a social race really and people were super supportive! I loved it! It was an amazing experience. I was a little deflated to discover I hadn’t run the full 30 miles but on the upside it was stunning but probably my toughest run at the same time”

I think it is suffice to say that the short measured course has only put fire in the belly of our resolute firecracker to find another race and crack that 30 mile distance.

“I will now try and find another for the new year”

Great South Run

Storm Brian wasn’t enough to defeat our team of amazing Roadrunners at this world famous event on Sunday. The gusty 70mph winds and high water may have put paid to Saturdays junior and 5k events, but our fearless team in the white blue and red vests proved too big of a match for poor Brian as they triumphed across the line over the water in Portsmouth.

Originally held in Southampton in its inaugural year, this IAAF Gold Standard event has become one of the biggest 10 mile road races on the planet. Over 20 000 runners take on this fast and flat course every year. From Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, elite runners, club runners, charity fundraisers to many beginners “first race” debutants, this race holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many people on the South Coast.

Starting and finishing on Clarence Esplanade in Southsea, it was all smiles as the nerves were jangling in 3 start pens, waiting for the staggered starts. Bright sunshine, a clear blue sky but chilly air as they stood patiently shivering in their vests.

The course takes the runners into a bracing headwind along the seafront, before turning inland slightly toward Gunwharf Quays.

Into the historic dockyard they pass Nelson’s HMS Victory and Henry IIIV Mary Rose… Heroes to inspire every runners journey. From the dockyard the runners emerge and make their way out back into the city.

Winston Churchill Avenue saw them get getting into a rhythm and enjoying the crowds on this fantastically supported course. The crowds get deeper, jelly babies are everywhere, high fives coming thick and fast, the support overwhelming. The people of Portsmouth making this the very special race that it is. Standing out in the cold, all the way around the course, to cheer on the 20 000 runners all on their own personal journeys.

Past the famous Queens Hotel and onward toward the common, where the runners get a glimpse of the front runners as they pass South Parade Pier in their last half mile of the race. However for the masses they have not long past the 10k marker and they must continue out toward Eastney and the almost notorious atmosphere along Henderson Road with the residents standing in their gardens and music pumping giving the runners that last little boost before they make the turn at 8 miles into the wind.

The storm had abated but was by no means past, and without the protection of the city’s buildings the runners are now exposed, feeling the full force of he brutal headwind, just as their legs start to tire and their will starts to wobble. It’s a long straight, seemingly endless battle to the finish. Passing the Yomper Statue and then the pier as they finally enter the little zig zag in the road which signifies 400m to go. Mustering all they had left after 2 miles into the wind, the roadrunners gave it one last push as they crossed the finishline.

Brilliant performances from each and every roadrunner and lots of PBs as they ran their hearts out. A few special mentions…
Congratulations to Michael Douglas for dipping under the hour, Harry Rann, Simon Randall and Margaret Niland-Murphy for bossing it in their age categories and Gemma Fletcher for running her 1st ever race.

Michael Douglas – 59.53 PB -92nd overall
Harry Rann – 1.01.37 PB -126th overall -4th U19
Simon Randall – 1.03.30 -209th overall – 13th V40
Matt Fletcher – 1.07.44
Mark Turtle – 1.11.13
Mike Kimber – 1.11.53 PB
Garry Sharp – 1.12.35
Holly Newton – 1.12.41 PB
Kev Rann – 1.15.51
George Butler – 1.16.09 PB
Brian Canning – 1.16.30
Margaret Niland-Murphy – 1.17.02 -9th V50
Sarah Holmes – 1.17.42 PB
Michael Coultrup – 1.17.42
Harry Vernon – 1.18.12 PB
Glen Jones – 1.18.26 PB
Ashleigh Douglas – 1.20.16
Michael Green – 1.20.52
Nick Scott-Denness – 1.21.09
Keith Ruth – 1.21.47
Ian Dyer – 1.22.23
Kelly Forster – 1.24.22 PB
Zoe Sherwin – 1.24.32
Claire Harvey – 1.26.38 PB
Sara Truckel – 1.27.29
Steve Hickman – 1.28.51
Sarah Sharp – 1.29.12
Julie Rasmussen – 1.32.22
Julie Salter – 1.32.37
Alison Butcher – 1.32.38 PB
Paul Butcher – 1.32.38
Kim Hulacka – 1.32.40 PB
Tarnia Eldridge – 1.32.44
Steve Hunt – 1.33.41 PB
Gemma Fletcher – 1.33.59
Sue Meredith – 1.34.42 PB
Sue Hunter – 1.36.06
Misha Hetherington – 1.36.22
Jess Hill – 1.37.50
Belinda Rockall – 1.38.25 PB
Dale Rockall- 1.38.25
Callie Hatcher – 1.40.31 PB
Tracy Pole – 1.42.53 PB
Adrian Burroughs – 1.42.54 PB
Nick Stilwell – 1.43.34
Ian Williams – 1.45.06 PB
Charlotte Williams – 1.45.06
Sharon Cass – 1.54.13
Jo Randall – 1.57.14 PB
Lyn Snow – 2.17.12

Amsterdam Marathon and Half

Amsterdam. Homage to the golden age of the 17th century. Famous for its artistic heritage, elaborate canals, gabled houses amongst other things……… like it’s fast and flat marathon, (what did you think I meant?)

In its 42nd year, this IAAF Gold Label race attracts the fast and the furious. A total elevation of just 60 feet across the entire course makes the possibility of running great time very achievable.

3 of our amazing members made the journey out to The Netherlands to experience this world class marathon for themselves. Bill Goozee, (fresh from last weekend’s epic IOW marathon), Glen Jones and Keith Ruth.

Starting in the iconic 1928 Olympic Stadium, the course takes the runners through the Vondelpark before funnelling them through the passage at Rijksmuseum and south bound canalside before meandering their way along to the Amstel River.

Straddling both sides of the river, this out and back section sees the runners through some picturesque rural areas dotted with windmills before hitting the 25k mark and heading back to the city. The East side of the city ushers them toward the Toronto Bridge and they begin their quest for home. A return though the city’s largest green space Vondelpark and they can begin to see their finishline… back at the Olympic Stadium.

Unusually warm weather was forecast as they lined up in their starting pens.

Luckily it was a reasonably early start for them, giving them a bit of a cushion before the temperatures began to climb into the 20s. Glen and Keith ran the first 6 miles together, before inevitably getting separated.

Bill ran an amazingly steady race, keeping a constant rythmn of 20 minutes per 5k throughout

Despite running a marathon only the Sunday before, he ran an unbelievable 2.48.53 !!!

Still out on the course, Keith and Glen were battling away.

“I felt really strong all the way” said Keith

Great news as he’s spent a good few months struggling with niggles and injuries.
For Glen it was a game of two halves.

“It was hot” he tells me minus the expletives “we were unlucky that the weather was just too good. I felt ok until 16/17 miles then my heart rate hit the roof! I made the decision to slow down so that I knew I would finish”

Sensible move. Sometimes if you know it’s not going to happen as you really wanted it to, its best to re-evaluate your race plan and finish comfortably, with a smile on your face.

Keith made it back to the stadium in a triumphant 4.04.55

“I am a very happy man tonight” he gushed on Facebook “Its my 3rd fastest time”

Glen completed his quest in 4.18.55

“That stadium finish really was quite special”

As they were approaching their stadium finish, our only half runner Zoe Elliott heard the echo of the starting gun as she began the half marathon race just along the stadium approach. Temperatures way into the 20s by now, this was not going to be as easy as the course profile suggested.

Alongside friend and Glossopdale Harrier Claire Campbell, the girls began an Eastbound trajectory toward the Utrechtse Bridge across the Amstel River where they joined the marathon course on its journey back toward that fantastic Olympic track finish.

“It was a great atmosphere , music and support all the way round, but really hot and congested in the middle miles”

She crossed the line happy and triumphant in 1.59.16

Time to celebrate


Great West Run

Exeter’s Arena 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

Father and son duo James and Dave Shoulder took on this sold out half marathon alongside other members of their family.

Starting at the Exeter Arena, the runners ventured out into the city centre. Lined with supporters cheering and shouting, our dynastic duo made their way out toward the beautiful country lanes of Stoke Woods. Onward they ran onto an out and back section which bought James and David back toward the city, this time skirting the University campus before returning the way they came and finishing in the arena.

Despite suffering a bad blister from mile 7, our plucky James continued on at an amazing pace to finish in just under 1hr 50 mins, a road PB for him with dad a tiny bit behind to enter the stadium half an hour later to gain his glory and his medal.

James Shoulder – 1.49.57
David Shoulder – 2.36.48


The 61st Isle of Wight Marathon

Perfect marathon conditions greeted runners as a record number of Roadrunners signed up to tackle this infamous 26.2 mile adventure.

First held in 1957, this is the longest running (pardon the pun), marathon in the country. Steeped in history, this marathon has seen triumph over the years. From world records set, (pioneer female Dale Grieg in 1964), to the inaugural women’s marathon championship in 1978, this marathon is a unique and special challenge.

Fast forward to 2017 and a coolish but clear morning. Nerves jangling, there was an air of anticipation as our intrepid roadrunners arrived one by one to collect their numbers and make their last minute preparations. Nervous gulping at bottles of water, nails being bitten, lots of pacing up and down, from the experienced marathoners to the debutants, the team knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

Famous for its undulation, this course is no walk in the park. Starting at the Isle of Wight Community Centre in Cowes, 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 where they made the turn toward Yarmouth. Elevation starting to level out a bit, the runners started to settle into a rythmn. Bedding in to the metronome in their heads.

Yarmouth arrived and the 11 mile mark passed as they powered on to the cycle path along the river

At the end though, is the very welcome halfway point, drinks, familiar faces and Afton- the turn for home. For those with an eye on their times, a valuable measure of how they are progressing. For those running their first marathon a real mental milestone passed.

“In the first half I got happier and happier” Lucy Deville tells me. At 65 she took the massively brave step over the threshold from runner to marathoner. “The niggly aches and pains melted away and I felt ridiculously youthful. Midway I started plunging mentally telling myself this is a stupid , ultimately risky thing to be doing at my age, but the wonderful supporters kept me going”

Turn left, turn left and turn left…. homeward bound. Onward they went, temperatures creeping up.

Thorley and Wellow. The flattest part if the course but strangely where the hurt starts hurting and the self doubt starts creeping in.

Having run it twice before, Roadrunner Glen Jones knew how mentally challenging this part of the course can be

“You’ve come so far, but yet so far yet to go. I know how this section can play with your head. I decided to set up “The Music Bus” to give the team a lift!”

And what a great idea that was. Joined by lots of supporters the “Music Bus” was blaring out requests from the runners, providing that extra welly at 18 miles that all they all needed.

None more so than ladies captain Julie Ray, who, until just 2 days before the race had decided to pull out.

“I just didn’t feel ready, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I gave Glen my song request and like the best DJ in the world he played it upon my approach”

Yes that’s right, at 18 miles she sat down for a chorus of “Oops Upside Your Head” before continuing onward. And that’s the beauty of running your local race. It’s run by your friends, supported by your friends and run with your friends. Beautiful.

It was at this point though, at the business end of the race, that the fun was definitely fading. For the front runners and the chasing pack, things really got interesting.

“After the first mile a significant gap was opening up between me and the front runners, so I knew it was going to be a long, lonely afternoon. However, I tried to keep my cool and stick to a sensible pacing strategy. After 19 miles I started gaining on people ahead of me, which was encouraging, and I managed to move up several places between miles 23 and 25” said Danny Faulkner

“It felt like it was anyone’s race” said Bill Goozee, champion at both Dorchester and The New Forest Marathons this year. “With the hills of the last 6-7 miles it felt like no one was moving that fast. It’s nuts seeing people walking in front but you ain’t got nothing yourself”

Several places indeed, for our Danny, along with Ryde Harrier Adam Tuck, managed to edge their way through the rest of the field in those last few miles to find themselves finally at the front and within touching distance of home. Adam pulled ahead for the well deserved win, but Danny stayed strong and kept edging ahead to retain a triumphant second place overall.

In the women’s race, it was approaching judgement day too. Roadrunners Hayley Baxter and Judy McCabe had both maintained strong starts over the course.

“I was in about 4th place but I worked my way through the field” said Hayley Baxter ” I gained the lead at around 14 miles. I felt really strong until I got back to Porchfield. I felt a bit wobbley but I knew I was so close to home that I had to keep going”

And keep going she did. With a pb and good for age time in her sights, she embarked on the most challenging part of the course. Hill after hill after hill at this point in the race, it’s a big ask, but she hung in. She delivered. She proved that she was back to her best. Through the pain, the tears and the doubt she showed that her class had finally returned as she powered ever forward to cross the line, the champion, the victor, the winner .

Meanwhile back out on the course, the rest of the team were battling their way around. The last miles starting to hurt for some, not so much for others.

The support on on the course was unprecedented. Pockets of family and friends peppered the course. No too much distance passed between someone’s nearest and dearest being there, residents standing out in their front gardens, IWRRs manning an aid station or club members cycling past on their bikes providing a mobile support crew.

“As cyclists we tried to cycle up and down the route to support as many runners as possible” Vice chairperson Sarah Sharp tells me “It’s quite difficult covering 26 miles and seeing everyone but we definitely saw everyone at least once, offering words of encouragement and even busting a few moves at “The Music Bus” at Wellow. We loved supporting “team awesome” today”
My daughter had a cup of tea ready for me at mile 21″ said Jane Andrew “I was ready for that”

As 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 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. Punishing hills on tired legs and the order of play changing from mile to mile. The last 4 miles of any Marathon are tough but these are brutal. But as they began to conquer that final Hill and with 1 mile left to go they picked up and the will to finish kicked in to bring them home.

In they came, crossing the line triumphant, one by one, two by two and in little flurries. Some breaking their own course records, some breaking their all time records, some actually breaking the course records and some breaking the biggest record of all…. running their first marathon. All stretching themselves beyond the comfortable, beyond what they though possible…. being heroes… just for one day.

Prizes a plenty, too many to mention. Suffice to say that the Roadrunners ran. Ran themselves to glory. Ran themselves proud. A fantastic day of achievement, of unwavering support and of being a part of the best running club in the world.

Danny Faulkner – 2.55.39 – 2nd overall – 2nd SM
Bill Goozee – 2.57.37 – 5th overall –
Tom Forster – 3.16.14 – 8th overall –
Michael Coultrup- 3.17.22 – 9th overall – 1st V50
Dan Williams- 3.30.45 -1st V40
Simon Randall – 3.32.12 – 2nd V40
Hayley Baxter – 3.43.03 – 22nd overall – 1st Female – 1st V40
Harry Rann – 3.45.58 – 1st Junior Male
Ross Wilkes – 3.46.24 –
David Blake – 3.47.27
Matt Fletcher – 3.47.44 – 3rd V45
Tim Cordery – 3.50.05 – 4th V45
Tim Keyte – 3.54.55 –
Tim Howell – 3.56.24
Sarah Holmes – 3.57.31 -5th Female -2nd V40
Gordon Mucklow – 3.59.19
Steve Bennett – 4.05.06 – 3rd V55
Judy McCabe – 4.05.06 – 7th Female -2nd V35
Kevin Rann – 4.06.15
Paul Butcher – 4.12.37
Tom Grand – 4.15.11
Donnacha Deasy – 4.19.20
Claire Howard – 4.28.13 – 2nd V50
Julie Salter – 4.28.14 -3rd V50
Jane Andrew – 4.28.14 – 2nd V55
Karen Phillips – 4.35.49
Julie Ray – 4.35.50
Sue Hunter – 4.50.16 – 1st V60
Peter Dixon – 5.03.04
Tarnia Eldridge – 5.15.30
Lucy Deville – 5.46.07 – 1st V65
Pat Harris – 5.52.19
Coral Leach – 5.53.57
Lyn Snow – 6.51.09

Team Results
1st – D.Faulkner, B.Goozee, T.Forster
3rd – M.Coultrup, D.Williams, S.Randall
4th – H.Rann, R.Wilkes, D.Blake
6th – M.Fletcher, T.Cordery, T.Keyte
8th – T.Howell, G.Mucklow, S.Bennett
9th – K.Rann, P.Butcher, T.Grand
11th – D.Deasy, P.Dixon, P.Harris

1st – H.Baxter, S.Holmes, J.McCabe
2nd – C.Howard, J.Salter, J.Andrew
3rd – K.Phillips, J.Ray, S.Hunter
5th – T.Eldridge, L.Deville, C.Leach

Danny Faulkner
Michael Coultrup
Simon Randall
David Blake
Hayley Baxter
Tim Keyte
Paul Butcher
Sue Hunter

Debut Marathons
Tom Forster
Ross Wilkes
Tim Howell
Tom Grand
Lucy Deville
Lyn Snow

Course records smashed
Harry Rann -Junior Mens
Lucy Deville -FV65

Royal Parks Half Marathon

So popular, all places are either balloted or for charity. This half marathon is a treat of a race touring the green spaces of our capital and some of Londons most famous streets.

This year marked the 10th running of this race, with 112000 runners crossing the finish line and over £30 million raised for charity over the years. Organised by the Royal Parks Foundation, the race raises money to maintain the 5000 acres of green spaces across the 8 royal parks in our iconic capital.

2 lucky roadrunners, Sally Trotman and Zoe Sherwin secured places in this fantastic event.

Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, the runners leave the park passing Wellington Arch before entering Green Park and into St.James Park. Ducking under Admiralty Arch, they headed down Whitehall before moving onto an out and back section along The Strand. A fantastic run down The Mall toward the beautiful Buckingham Palace was a highlight before they headed back to Green Park, traversing Hyde Park once more before commencing the final leg of their journey through Kensington Gardens, past the Royal Albert Hall and across the finish line.

“It was so scenic” said Sally who ran it with her daughter Charlotte “It’s a great alternative to the London Marathon”

“It’s such a lovely race” said Zoe having run it with her step brother Ross

They both ran for charity. Sally for The Royal Marsden Hospital and Zoe for Save the Children.

Zoe Sherwin – 1.55.07
Sally Trotman – 2.14.05


You would think that for Steve Hickman that after 141 marathons there would be nothing about a race that could be new, different or exciting. But that was what Saturdays pyjamathon was in more ways than 1. Aside from the obvious addition of bedwear it was a momentous occasion for Steve Hickman because it would be running with his son Ricky, who was running his very first.

A looped course, this event takes in the banks of the iconic River Thames. Starting at Elmbridge Leisure Centre in Walton-on-Thames, runners dressed in their bed attire, can run as many loops as they want in 6 hours. It’s pancake flat, so is perfect for a first marathon.

The pair started off in their pjs, but Steve swapped his for his MND Vest after one circuit and Ricky after 4, wanted to raise awareness for this cause very much close to their hearts.

They both ran 8 circuits of the course to bag their marathon times and the worlds biggest medal.

“Proud Daddy day. Marathon number 142…. done”

Time for a pint ……

Clarendon Marathon

Wet, Hilly, Windy and Muddy. Are the four words our Chairman, Pat Harris,used to describe his experience at Clarendon marathon.

This point to point Marathon follows the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Winchester. An 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.

Beginning in historic Winchester the course winds its way toward King’s Somborne, before continuing to Houghton, Broughton and Middle Winterslow before making the straightish journey to Milton before turning for the final leg to Salisbury. 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 recent rainfall.

“It was brilliantly organised” said Pat “I loved the staggered starts with the walkers first, slower paced runners going off next and the speedy types an hour later. At about 13 miles the lead runners start coming through, obviously you never see them in a traditional marathon, but this way its great to give them shout outs & to receive plenty in return”

“I have to say I enjoyed it, I’m glad to have done this one. I would do it again definitely”

He finished wet, tired and muddy in 6.16.09