All posts by Sarah Holmes

Hayling 10

Starting on Bacon Lane on the Southern tip of Hayling Island, the Roadrunners lined up in the chilly air of a cold and crisp November morning to take on this fast and flat 10 mile course.

One roadrunner with a score to settle with this race was Steve Hunt. At last year’s race he took a nasty plunge coming into the finish area and smashed his nose on the path. He was heartbreakingly close to breaking his pb had he not have fallen. 

From Bacon Lane they went through West Town heading on to a particularly fast section of the course along the Old Hayling Billy Railway Line before returning back onto the roads, passing the Ferry Boat Pub and then onto the seafront at Eaststoke and finally returning back to Bacon Lane.

Richard Bezer continued his recent good form with yet another PB making him the first roadrunner across the line. Chairman Glen Jones was next home. Steve Hunt managed to get around this year with his face intact after accompanying his friend Beverley around the course.

Richard Bezer – 1.08.37

Glen Jones – 1.17.27

Steve Hunt – 1.47.58

Abbott 5k Dash to the Finishline

The marathon was not the only race being held in New York this weekend. 

Taking full advantage of the trip over the Atlantic to watch her husband run the marathon on Sunday, Ashleigh Douglas took part in her first competitive race for quite some time. 

Starting outside the United Nations building, over 10000 runners tear through midtown Manhattan. Passing the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station and Bryant’s Park, they then turned up 6th Avenue passing the world famous Radio City Music Hall before emerging into Central Park. Ashleigh wound her way through the park, passing the City Zoo before snaking her way along to the finishline outside the Tavern on the Green. 

Ashleigh enjoyed every second, running with a huge grin on her face  to finish in a tidy 29.34

“I’m so pleased! I haven’t run for months! I didn’t wear my watch and I even forgot to put the right shoes on haha! No medal, but I did get this attractive hat!”

New York Marathon

New York, New York.

The Big Apple. So great they named it twice.

The city that never sleeps. Iconic, Majestic, Mesmerising.

Home of the Skyscraper, the yellow taxi and Lady Liberty. Its bigger, bolder and brasher than you can possibly imagine. It’s like nowhere on earth. 

It’s little wonder that it has become host to the worlds largest marathon. With over 50000 runners all treading the same path, beating the same demons, doing the same incredible thing. A true carnival of the human spirit to endure. 

Founded in 1970 by Fred Lebrow, just 55 runners embarked upon the course which took them around and around Central Park costing just a dollar to enter. It wasn’t until 1976 and the US bicentenary celebrations that they decided to take the course through all 5 boroughs of the city as a one off parade. Over a million people lined the street that year making it an unforgettable spectacle that the city had to adopt. It’s remained the same ever since. 

An unprecedented 6 Roadrunners made the trip over Atlantic to take part. Over 100000 applicants try to secure a place through the ballot. Clare Adams was lucky enough to get her place in this manner. Michael Douglas qualified via the good for age process whilst Judy McCabe, Steve Bennett, Mike Kimber and Claire Harvey bought themselves package trips as part of their big birthday celebrations. 

They all arrived a couple of days early so they could explore the city and excitedly collect their numbers.

It was a clear blue sky that greeted them as they lined up in their start corrals in Fort Wandsworth on Staten Island. The course goes straight over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in what can only be described as one of the greatest sporting sights known to man.

Once over the bridge the runners enter the second borough of Brooklyn. Known for its creativity and entrepreneurship this borough is the most populated. Through the neighbourhoods of Bay Bridge, Sunset Park, Williamsburg and Greenpoint they ran, cheered on by some of the 2 million spectators that now line the route. Trying to settle into a steady rythmn and not get swept up in the excitement of the occasion. 
Halfway point. And the runners cross the Polanski Bridge into Queens. Despite being the largest borough, the course only takes in 2 and a half miles of it as it soon reaches the Queensboro Bridge. From all the noise of the crowds…… Silence…. over the East River, crossing over the top of Roosevelt Island. It’s a sudden unwelcome eye of the storm. The only sound is the metronomic rythymn of trainers hitting tarmac. 

On the other side they emerge into the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the 16 mile mark. 1st Avenue took them north through the Upper East Side before crossing the Willis Avenue Bridge into The Bronx, ticking off the final borough. 

After only a mile and a half they made the turn for home as they crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge and the 21 mile mark. 

Only 5 and a bit to go…. 

Through Harlem they went. The hurt really creeping in now. At last the sight of Central Park looms before them but they are by no means out of the woods. Just under 4 miles are still left to go. 

After a mile on the periphery they entered this iconic park at 23.5 miles. The ups and downs of the park take their toll as they battled their way through the final miles before they finally reached Colombus Circle and the final 385 yards to the finishline outside the famous Tavern in the Green.  

Michael Douglas was the first roadrunner home in a fantastic 3 and a quarter hours despite suffering horrific leg cramps from mile 18. 

“It wasn’t the race I wanted but there was no way I wasn’t getting this medal!  The last 10k was more of a jog, but I was smiling all the way. What an amazing experience!”

Mike Kimber was the next home with a 10 minute Pb despite doing zero training 

“This training lark is overrated haha!” he jokes 

In all seriousness he had a cracking first half, but his niggling hip slowed him in the second half but he still arrived back in Central Park in under 4 and a half hours.

Claire Harvey was next under the finishing arches as she ran a brilliantly paced race all the way through.

“The crowd was amazing! My face actually hurts from smiling so much!”

Running duo Steve and Judy, ran the whole thing together. 

“It was an epic experience and the crowds were unbelievable. To run through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhatten and across all the bridges that connect them was something else”  said Steve

“It was great, I ran the marathon with my bestie. Brilliant weather condition, crowds were amazing, loved it!” Said Judy

Clare Adams closed the bidding for the Roadrunners after bravely battling not only a cold but a hip problem from mile 14 which caused her to run for 2 blocks and walk the next one. 

“It was too painful in the end, so I decided to just enjoy the views”

It shows great courage to keep battling away when you are in pain. But that’s what all our white warriors did and they all overcame their injuries and their problems to make it across the line. Battered, broken but everyone of them proud. 

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” Frank Sinatra – 1977 

They made it. 

Michael Douglas – 3.16.42

Mike Kimber – 4.26.11

Claire Harvey – 4.47.10

Judy McCabe – 5.12.32

Steve Bennett – 5.12.32

Clare Adams – 6.17.02 

Dublin Marathon

Dublin. Capital of Southern Ireland and largest city on the Emerald Isle. Famous for its welcoming locals, nightlife and of course it’s Guinness. 

Club stalwart Keith Ruth took the journey across the Irish Sea to complete his swansong marathon in memory of his dad.

“He passed away at 55 which was way too early. I promised myself that I would run something for him when I reached 55. As he was a Dubliner, choosing Dublin Marathon seemed perfect”

Perfect indeed, what a beautiful tribute.

Started in 1980 by Noel Carroll, this race was unusually run on a Bank Holiday Monday until 2016. It was an instant hit with sign ups jumping from 2100 to over 11000 in just 2 years. It continues to grow year on year and it’s easy to see why. Promising a fairly flat course and great support all the way around.

Starting in Fitzwilliam Square, the route took Keith through the streets of the city, crossing the River Liffey before heading North west toward Dublin Zoo and through Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed park in any capital city in Europe. 

“I had tears running down my face in the 1st mile, it was really emotional” Keith tells me

After emerging from the park Keith took a Southerly turn before skirting the edge of the park then crossing the River Liffey for the second time at around the 10 mile mark

Halfway saw Keith cross the Grand Canal before passing Brickfields Park. 

“My son and dog Rufus ran alongside me for a tiny bit, it was my highlight of the race”

Keith continued on but the challenge of mind over matter started to bite. 

“The tiredness has started to kick in and it affected my confidence. It was a mental struggle”

It’s during these times in a marathon that the will to finish has to take over. You’ve come so far but  have a long way yet to go. The self doubt starts to nag, trying to trick your legs into slowing in rythmn or worse still, stopping all together. 

“I suddenly heard the voice of Jodie Wilmott in my head. She told me that a marathon is a 20 mile training run followed by a 10k race. That really got me going again”

And get going he did. He kept battling away. One foot in front of the other, running with his dad in his heart. He continued on, past the University and the Elm Park Golf Course. 

24 miles and the final turn for home. The tears returned as he approached the finishing straight. He could see Michael, Rufus and girlfriend Carolyn as he gave it one last push across the line. 

He’d done it. A beautiful tribute to his much missed dad. 

And as the cherry on the cake he’d cracked the golden 4 hour mark for the second time this year. Something that he’d been chasing for years previously. So to do it for his Dad was an extra special moment.

Beachy Head Marathon

A sharp dip in temperatures thanks to an unwelcome Northerly wind made for a chilly start to our marathon mogul, Steve Hickmans 151st Marathon. And to think, he was talking about making his 150th his last only 2weeks ago! As predicted, that silly notion didn’t last long as he was back on the startline of this iconic marathon 

“I couldn’t not run it Holmsie!” He quips “I’ve done it every year!”

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 minor detail, Mr. Hickman cites this as one of his favourite races

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

Starting at Bedes School in Eastbourne, the route takes the runners though Jevington, Alfriston and Litlington. Onward to Fristin Forest and the Cuckmere Valley.

“The last 6 miles when the route climbs and dips The Seven Sisters is brutal!” 

And that’s coming from the ultimate marathoner, despite knowing exactly what is coming next (having run this race an unbelievable 16 times previously) 

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

Steve ran brilliantly negotiating all 26.2 miles in 5.06.51 his second fastest time over the course. 

OCR World Championships

It’s not often we have a club member participate in a world championship, but that’s exactly what Simon Riley did on Saturday. The OCR World Championships made its 1st ever visit to the UK. After qualifying back in June, our Brummy Duracell Bunny has spent the last 5 months training hard and working on a strict regime in the gym to increase his upper body strength in preparation for this huge honour

Located at The Secret Nuclear Bunker site at Kelvedon Hatch in Brentwood the site is not as sinister as it sounds. 

Originally built to house over 600 military and government personnel, including the Prime Minister, during a nuclear attack, it was decommissioned in 1992 and auctioned off. It is now a museum and host to numerous cross country and obstacle course races.

Simon travelled up on Friday to collect his number

“I was rubbing shoulders with champions from all over the world. All the hard work I’d put in and now it was real. It brought a lump to my throat to be honest”

Race day and the nerves had disappeared. Simon stood on the startline full of adrenaline and pride wearing his team United Kingdom kit. 100 obstacles lay ahead of him. Rope climbs, walls, monkey bars and muddy slurries. Everyone of them to be conquered one by one as they sapped his strength. All Simon had to do was run, jump, crawl, climb, throw and carry his way around the 15km course and make it to the notorious final wall climb to make it to glory.

“It was the toughest event I’ve ever done. The course pushed my physical abilities to testing point, I had to push any doubt I had down inside me and just keep going. As the last obstacle loomed before me the noise from the crowd was almost deafening. I could hear my wife’s voice in the crowd so I dug deep and gave it my all”

And boy did he give it his all! He completed 96 out of the 100 obstacles laying in his wake, unfortunately losing him the coveted 100% completion wristband, but still earning himself the finishers medal. He crossed the line in 3.09.54 giving himself 236th out of 1009 finishers and a cracking 29th in his age category.

“When they put the medal around my neck the tears welled up and the lump in my throat came back”

And proud he should be! An international competition smashed!

“I’m counting down the next 4 years until it returns to the UK again!”

Great South Run

Travel chaos blighted most of our team of amazing Roadrunners at this world famous event on Sunday. Hovertravel cancelled all crossings on Sunday morning leaving many runners and their supporters queuing for lengthy periods on the Pier Head for the Fastcat. They eventually made it across, many of them missing their waved start times, having to watch scores of runners head toward them as they hurried along to the seafront at Southsea to get to the start. 

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, for those that had made it across the stretch of water, it was all smiles as the nerves were jangling in 3 start pens, waiting for the staggered starts. Bright sunshine now, as the earlier fog had cleared, it was warm already. No need for the “stay warm” bin bag today as Portsmouth gleamed in the October sunshine.

The course takes the runners firstly along the seafront to Clarence Pier 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 back their way out back into the city. 

Winston Churchill Avenue saw them get getting into a rhythm and enjoying the crowds as this  fantastically supported course. The crowds get deeper, jelly babies are everywhere, high fives coming thick and fast, bands playing from Samba to Bagpipes to Rock Choirs. The people of Portsmouth really make this the very special race that it is. Standing out in the sunshine for the entirety of 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 and back onto the seafront

It’s a long straight, seemingly endless battle to the finish, but at least they didn’t have the usual headwind to deal with today. 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 giving it their all, the roadrunners gave it one last push as they crossed the finishline.

Brilliant performances from each and every roadrunner and sprinkling of PBs as they ran their hearts out. A few special mentions…

Richard Nembhard making his debut for the club and giving himself a 2 minute PB. Trish Train for battling horrendous blood blisters on the soles of her feet to still finish in a course PB and 4th V50. Brian Canning, Harry Vernon, Charlotte Williams, Gemma Fletcher and Debbie Radestock for also grabbing themselves PBS. Guy Mattinson, Eloise Radestock and Robbie & Gary McFarlane for making their debuts over the distance. Last but not least Abbie Keyte for not only making her debut over the distance but smashing it to take 10th Junior female overall. 

Richard Nembhard- 1.05.56

Matt Fletcher – 1.07.03 

Trish Train – 1.08.23 

Michael Coultrup – 1.13.47

Garry Sharp – 1.13.50

Harry Vernon – 1.14.43

Brian Canning – 1.15.00

Guy Mattinson – 1.18.17

Simon Paul – 1.19.16

Dave Cass – 1.20.18

Glen Jones – 1.21.26

Charlotte Williams – 1.21.50

Abigail Keyte – 1.23.58

Sarah Holmes – 1.24.41

Elaine Harris – 1.30.11

Sarah Sharp – 1.30.11

Margaret Niland-Murphy – 1.32.22

Alison Butcher – 1.33.54

Gemma Fletcher – 1.34.03

Julie Salter – 1.34.58

Nick Carter – 1.34.58

Robbie MacFarlane – 1.37.29

Gary MacFarlane – 1.37.30

Ian Williams – 1.37.54

Laura Holme – 1.40.53

Bianca Johnston – 1.42.30

Steve Hunt – 1.44.59

Eloise Radestock – 1.55.52

Debbie Radestock – 1.56.10

Lyn Snow – 2.05.23

Oxfordshire Maverick Half

A lucky win of 2 places on Instagram saw super duo Abbie Farwell and Darren Cole take the trip upto Oxford last Saturday to take part in this trail race. 

Starting at  Stonor Park, an 850 year old stately house nestled in the beautiful Chiltern Hills, this is beautiful from start to finish.

With 3 distances on offer, the event is well attended and fantastically organised despite the weather. 

“Thanks to Storm Callum we spent our race prep trying to shelter from that rain as we picked up our numbers etc. We even resorted to sitting in the car until just before the off to stay dry” says Abbie

But luckily for them it cleared up just as they started their journey around the surrounding countryside. 

A tough mix of hills, forests and fields lay before them as they negotiated their way around, the complex course

“It split and rejoined the shorter courses several times” explained Abbie

Despite his best efforts to follow the correct signage, poor Darren managed to get a little lost but still managed to finish in a cracking 16th place and 1.40.35. Whilst Abbie showed that her injury is behind her as she took 9th female in 2.05.48 

A party vibe followed at the finish area with free ale, iced coffee and a welcome reappearance from the sunshine. 

150 marathons – 3930 miles – 1 amazing human

The marathon. 

26.2 miles.

It’s a journey of the heart conquering the mind and the mind conquering the body. 

Anyone that’s ever run one knows how hard it can be. Having to push yourself further and faster than you’ve ever pushed yourself before. An experience that only 1% of the population will ever share, so the percentage of those who have run 150 must be so small its off the scale! 150 marathons. That’s nearly 4000 miles. That’s from London to New York (and you’d still have 500 more miles left to run)

Enter Mr. Stephen Hickman. A legend, a gentleman, a true inspiration. Ran his 150th right here on the Isle of Wight last Sunday accompanied by good friends Sally Trotman and Zoe Elliott. He’d run his 100th just 4 years before alongside Tarnia Eldridge who was running her 1st that year on the same very course.

So where did it all start? 

1999 with a gym membership after deciding he was massively overweight he fell in love with it straight away. Within 2 years he ran his first one. In true Hickman style however he didn’t choose an easy one… oh no! He went straight in with the absolute beast that is Snowdonia! 

Undeterred by the experience he was soon bashing out marathons like they were 10ks. Running them all over the world, from the US to Zurich where he got his tidy PB of 3.40, and from London (5 times) to Brighton (which he has run every year)

There are few corners of the globe that have been untouched by Mr. Hickman’s size 10s. Even Everest has had Hickmans toes trotting all over it as a part of his epic 100 mile Himalaya journey. 

He’s done 3 in 3 days (Dymchurch) and 5 in 5 days (also ending in Dymchurch! He loves Dymchurch…. NOT!) That event, incidentally, nearly broke him.

His favourite he says, is the old course of the Needles marathon, which was briefly revived in the past couple of years. Here’s a little then and now, see if you can guess which ones which….

We are so lucky that he was recruited to join the IWRR by the late and great Roger Walker-Reed back in 2009 after running the Fell Series at Ventnor a few years in a row. In Steve’s own words

“It really was the start of something brilliant”

Originally from the Island, Steve also belongs to Ashford and District AC in the town that he now calls home…. well in between frequent visits here of course!

Congratulations from the bottom of our hearts Steve on this momentous achievement. Always full of useful advice, (such as “Steve, how do I train for a marathon?” Hickman – “it’s easy! run a marathon!”), loads of encouragement for others and great team spirit. He has become a legend in his own lifetime and a part of the furniture here at IWRR. 

Number #151 is booked….. Beachy Head next weekend…. 200 here we come whoop whoop whoop! 

Autumn 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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