Category Archives: Latest News

Dark Valley

The Moors Valley Country Park just outside of Ringwood was the setting for White Star Running’s Dark Valley event. With 2 distances on offer it is a popular event that sells out fast every year. 

Despite record breaking wind speeds of 109.5 mph, 3 roadrunners managed to negotiate the swirling Solent and make their way to the New Forest. 

As the sun went down the wind had died down and the rain abated. Alison Butcher, Chani Jones and Louise Morris picked up their numbers and switched on their mandatory illuminations and took their spots on the startline.

Ali and Chani set out first on the half marathon. The course was 2 slightly different laps into the depths of the forest, lit only by the runners illuminating the paths with their headtorches and fairy lights. Gravel track, sandy paths, muddy trails and some sizeable puddles were interspersed with a few short, sharp inclines.

Half an hour later Louise set off into the darkness in the 10k following the same route as the half runners before them (just slightly more churned up by now) 

True to form in a White Star event, there was the infamous Lovestation placed 3.5 miles along the course. Serving the usual jelly sweets and water alongside schnapps and cider.

Louise made her way around in the darkness to collect her beautiful medal

“I was worried about not having my headphones, but I really enjoyed it”

Ali and Chani got back to race HQ and collected their medals, a little muddy, but pleased to have finished 

“The last few miles were a bit of a plod, I’m not sure that schnapps at the Lovestation was such a good idea after all” said Ali

10k

Louise Morris – 1.05.16

Half 

Alison Butcher – 2.47.58

Chani Jones – 2.48.00

Frankfurt Marathon

Germany’s fifth largest city played host to the country’s oldest road marathon last weekend.

First held in 1981, the race has increased in popularity year on year with some 27000 signing up thus far, making it the second largest race in Germany. It boasts a varied course mixing modern skyscrapers and historic facades culminating in an atmospheric “Ironman” style finish down the red carpet inside the city’s concert venue the Festhalle. 

The most likely draw however for so many of the participants is that it’s the 3rd fastest marathon course in the world… it’s flat… pancake flat.

Margaret Niland-Murphy took the trip over with partner Harry Vernon to make her marathon debut

“I’ve been thinking of doing a marathon for a while” she said “Harry’s sister lives in Frankfurt so we decided to visit her and run the marathon whilst we were there”

They were not the only ones to travel over to Hesse to utilise the flat course, Ladies Captain Jodie Wilmott also jumped in Gus the Bus with husband Pete to #runtheskyline (to coin their motto) there.

Race day and the conditions were good. Overcast and a bit chilly, perfect in fact. 

“On the startline I felt really ready for the challenge” said Margaret “I was excited to spend my first marathon experience with Harry. Wearing my club vest with pride, I couldn’t wait to get the race underway”

Jodie was also raring to go after stringently training hard all year.

Starting on Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage next to the iconic Messeturm, the huge field ran a circuit of the Taunusanlage before wiggling their way through the city streets in almost a figure of eight pattern. This took them to Altstadt and across the River Main via Alt Brücke. 

“I felt strong” said Margaret “the first few miles past really quickly”

“The crowds were great” said Harry “they were cheering and ringing cowbells”

On the south bank now, the crowds were more sparse through the suburban Sachsenhausen, but there were lots of bands dotting along the way to give the runners a boost with their pumping bass, samba drums and African beats. All three keeping good pace and going according to plan.

By mile 12 Margaret’s knee started to hurt, so she decided to slow slightly and let Harry go ahead as he was feeling good, whilst she swapped to the other side of the road to balance the camber. Her plan worked and her pain eased enough to keep her moving.

Jodie however was going great guns. Her pacing sitting as perfectly even throughout as the elevation. She and Mags & Harry re-crossed the River back onto the Northside and into the business end of the race. 

Harry unfortunately paid for his injection of pace in the middle section of the race. The girls paced it more evenly however as Jodie continued to rocket her way through Griesham and Gallus before revisiting the winding streets through the city past the Alter Oper and through the Platz dear Republik. Finally the end was in sight as she entered the Festhalle to take her turn to run down the red carpet and under the finishing arch. She finished in a massive 23 minute PB of 3.16.35 

“That’s a brilliant end to a shedload of training” she says on Facebook “I have sore toes” 

Harry managed to achieve his goal of running under 4 hours to finish in 3.56.56

“The 3.59 pacemaker caught up with me at mile 25. There was no way I was letting him pass me, I had to summon everything I had left”

Margaret maintained her nerve to keep pushing in the final stages. When running a marathon for the first time, nothing can really prepare you for just how hard those last couple of miles can be. But she gave all she had to pick up her pace as much as she could.

“Those last 2 miles were HARD!” she exclaims

But the digging deep paid off as she finished in 4.12.52 and a fantastic 4th in her age category.

“I did it!!!!!”””

Good day at the German office team IWRR

Great South Run

Despite the heavy rain that had blighted the south coast all week, the sky cleared to a crisp azure blue as some 20000 runners lined up in their stay-warm bin bags outside the Pyramids centre in Southsea for the 30th Anniversary of the Great South Run. 

Held in Southampton in its inaugural year, this IAAF Gold Standard event has become the biggest 10 mile race on the planet. Fast and pancake flat it’s a firm favourite amongst runners of all abilities. From the elites, to the speed snakes, to the charity fund raisers to the first race rookies, it is a joy to run.

Starting and finishing on Clarence Esplanade in Southsea, the 3 start pens started to fill as did the air with the scent of anticipation that big events like this  generate. The mass warm up started and they were off with a legendary TV star from the 1990s.

“I managed to high five Mallet’s Mallet!” chirps Alison Butcher “I did have to jump to reach it though haha!”

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 locals really get behind this race, lining the streets in their thousands, handing out high fives and jelly babies, cheering and shouting encouragement to every runner that passes by.

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. 

Onward 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 special mention to Steve Bennett for taking 4th place in his age category.

Simon Pilcher – 57.44 PB

Ross Wilkes – 1.02.37

Steve Rumsey – 1.04.35

Matt Fletcher – 1.06.28 

Steve Apsey – 1.07.06

Steve Bennett – 1.10.58

Garry Sharp – 1.11.26

Guy Mattinson – 1.12.01 PB

Tim Keyte – 1.12.57 PB

Simon Paul – 1.13.36 PB

Charlotte Williams – 1.25.20

Alison Butcher – 1.31.45 PB

Carolyn Littleton – 1.32.05 PB

Bridget Keyte – 1.36.47 PB

Sarah Sharp – 1.36.48

Ian Williams- 1.37.08

Steve Hunt – 1.41.55

Gill Shaw – 1.55.20

Jo Randall – 1.55.21

Lyn Snow – 1.59.17

Beverly James – 2.01.30

Bedford Festival of Running

It was a return to the racing circuit in more ways than one for Glen Jones as he embarked on his 10th marathon of his 12 in 12 months challenge.

After enjoying his laps around Goodwood motor circuit in September, Glen was at Bedford Autodrome this time to notch up not only another marathon but to hopefully notch up another sub 4 hour time.

“I felt good after running IOW a couple of weeks ago, so was hopeful I could scrape under 4 hours again” 

His summer knee injury now firmly behind him, his confidence was restored as he lined up in the glorious Autumn sunshine.

Despite there being 5 distances on offer, the starts are staggered with the marathoners going off first having the 3 mile course to themselves for a few laps. Gradually they are joined by the 20 milers, the half marathoners, the 10kers and finally the 5k runners.

Glen started off brilliantly, spending some of the early stages running with a friend which helped keep him on pace. He got to the halfway stage in a tidy 1.51  so he new his goal time was looking pretty good.

After a little pit stop, he kept his pace reasonably steady.

“I got to mile 21 and realised I could be on for not just a sub 4 but a PB! All I had to do was hold it together”

The last few miles were tough but Glen kept plugging away, willing his pace to not stray too far over 9 minute miles. His efforts were rewarded as hold on he did to knock 4 minutes off his time to finish in 3.52.17

“I was a bit surprised, but I’m very chuffed”

And so he should be…. 10 down… 2 to go ….

The 63rd Isle of Wight Marathon

In an historic week for women’s athletics, with Dina Asher-Smith being the first woman to win a world championship sprint and Katerina Johnson-Thompson breaking the British record in the heptathlon, it seemed fitting that this years IOW Marathon be dedicated to one such inspirational woman. Renegade, rebel and pioneer Dale Greig who sadly passed in May this year aged 81. Back in 1964, despite women not being allowed to compete in the marathon, trailblazer Greig defied the rules and ran a world record time right here on the Isle of Wight, the first record to be officially recognised by the IAAF and stood as the British record for 11 years.

“It was a tough and hilly course” she recounted later in the press.

Here on holiday, Dale celebrated by dancing the night away afterwards at the Royal York Hotel in Ryde. 

That’s not the only aspect that makes this race unique. Having first been held in 1957, this is the longest continuous running marathon in the UK. 

63 years and a couple of course changes later, and hoping to blaze trails of their own, 27 brave IWRR soldiers in white red and blue embraced this infamous 26.2 mile journey.

There was the usual air of trepidation, anticipation, excitement and good old fashioned fear as each roadrunner arrived one by one to collect their numbers and make their last minute preparations. A wealth of different levels of experience in the registration area, from people running their first marathon to those running their 160th. Some nervous, some relaxed, some just raring to go.

11.30 came and they set off from the sports field at the IOW Community Club in Cowes.

Starting with a nice downhill mile to Gurnard, it wasn’t long before the famous undulation began as they started on the rollercoaster trip out to Porchfield and Shalfleet. 

Onward they ran toward Cranmore before they arrived on the outskirts of Yarmouth. A bit of respite from the ups and downs of the course for a little while as they swung a right onto the cycle path and a hugely warm reception from the supporters cheering and screaming encouragement on the old railway platform outside Off The Rails Cafe.

At the end of the track is the Causeway and the all important halfway point. Time to take stock of time and grab a drink from the water station.

First timer Callie Hatcher hit a mental blip at this point. 

“I shed some tears. I didn’t feel good, everything ached and I’d planted the seed in my head that I couldn’t do it”

It’s tough going when that happens… the misery miles I call them. When you’ve come so far but you’ve still got so far to go. It takes real determination to find the mental energy to keep going. Callie had her boyfriend Kelvin by her side and together they carried on.

Turn left, turn left and turn right…. the turn for home! Thorley and Wellow. It should be the “easy bit” As the flattest part of the course on paper it should be, but strangely where many of field start to mentally unravel. By now the field is pretty stretched out, the support is thinner and most of the runners find themselves locked in a lonely battle between their legs, their minds and their hearts. 

It was here that David Blake decided enough was enough. Having felt strong and relaxed at halfway, he suddenly felt achy and sick. 

“My vision went blurry… I couldn’t even walk the rest to settle it. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to pull out of a race”

The marathon is a different beast to all the other distances. There are so many variables, so many things that can go oh so right or oh so very wrong. The weather, not enough sleep, not eating enough the day before, misjudging pace, over hydration, under hydration, not enough fuel on board in the early miles …. the list goes on.

Past Shalfleet Garage and the 20 mile point. The road back to Porchfield and more importantly, the road home. They say the marathon race starts at 20 miles and that’s no truer than on this course. In any marathon it’s the point when the body is waning. The glycogen stored in the body has all but been depleted. The legs are tired, the heart has to take over to get the runners home. All the hills they’d attacked with gusto a few hours before were being revisited as they retraced their steps through Porchfield and Thorness, culminating in a crescendo of climb at mile 24/25 as they tackled Pallance Road. 

Having run together for the most part, it was Bill Goozee that went ahead in the final stages to take 5th place with Stuart Backhouse not too far behind taking 6th and 1st V45. 

“I’m happy with that” said Bill “it’s my first marathon for ages and it felt good”

The next roadrunner home was a show stealer. Rosie Sexton. No training, no experience…. no problem!! The pocket rocket only went and won it!!! 

“I just got up and decided to run it on a whim” 

Wow! What a whim that was! Even her biggest cheerleaders, (parents and fellow IWRR Pete and Yvonne Sexton), didn’t know she was running it! 

“My girls first marathon and she won it! I can’t believe I missed it… especially to go and watch the footy!” Said Yvonne in the pub later “And we lost!”

Hayley Baxter was next to cross the line just seconds over her PB but chuffed to take 2nd lady, 15th overall and 1st V40

Another marathon debutant was next to make it across the finish line. Jamie Brenchley has smashed it out the park with an amazing sub 3.30 time, made all the more phenomenal because, like Rosie he hadn’t trained either!! 

“That was so emotional finishing! I really enjoyed the first 20 miles, then spent the last 6 miles wishing is trained properly haha!”

Meanwhile back out on the course, the rest of the team were battling their way around. The last miles really starting to hurt for some, not so much for others.  Some having some rather personal motivation to keep them going. Debbie Radestock took up running in memory of her older brother Richard, a keen member of Headington Road Runners. He died shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, so Deb, with the encouragement of her other brother Andy took up running to raise funds for Macmillan. Daughter Eloise took up running when she went to university as a way of connecting with her mum. Their determination to see this challenge through was furthermore family fuelled as Debs elderly parents live on on the marathon route and would be looking out for their inspirational girls. 

“There was no way I could turn down the chance to run this with Mum” Eloise tells me “Knowing her history with her brothers I wanted to be alongside her every step of the way”

The miles ticked by the rest of the runners began to tackle the dreaded final 6 miles and the accompanying hills, the marathon and all its challenge really started to kick in. 

“I weirdly love getting to 20” said Sarah Holmes “I usually start speeding up as I know the worst is behind me”

She’s not the only one who woke up a bit. Callie got her second wind too, as she gleefully high fived every mile marker from that point onward.

Bunts Hill into Thorness into Rolls Hill into Pallance Road. Brutally draining what energy they had left, these last 4 miles were chewing runners up and spitting them out left right and centre. But as they each began to conquer that final Hill and with 1 mile left to go, they rallied to pick up pace and the will to finish kicked in to bring them home strong. 

“I got goosebumps crossing the line” said Callie

“I managed it!!!! Me!!!” beams Eloise

They’d done it! Marathoners, achievers, warriors, lionesses, heroes. Last word on this report goes to Debbie

“I’m immensely proud of my Ellie….. It’s a memory to cherish”

As always big thanks to the fellow IWRR that take the time to come out and cheer the runners … your support is immeasurable

Bill Goozee – 3.10.20 – 5th – 3rd SM

Stuart Backhouse – 3.13.54 – 6th 1stV45

Rosanna Sexton – 3.26.25 – 14th – 1stF – 1st SF

Hayley Baxter – 3.27.57 3.36.07 – 15th – 2ndF – 1st V40

Jamie Brenchley – 3.28.40

Simon Randall – 3.32.14 – 4th V45

Ross Wilkes – 3.38.41

Rob Hunter – 3.49.05

Simon Riley – 3.52.25

Richard Bezer – 4.03.12

Petya Torodova – 4.08.54 – 5th SF

Glen Jones – 4.11.50

Noel Finn – 4.17.33

Zoe Elliot – 4.22.12 – 5thV40

Steve Hickman – 4.28.28 – 3rdV60

Neill McCall 4.31.31

Julie Ray – 4.32.52 – 2nd V50

Tim Keyte – 4.32.52

Karen Phillips – 4.33.47 – 3rd V45

James Shoulder – 4.35.50

Sarah Holmes – 5.32.40

Tarnia Butler – 5.32.41

Kelvin Mansfield – 6.11.55

Callie Hatcher – 6.11.55

Deb Radestock – 6.16.12

Eloise Radestock – 6.16.14

Teams

Men’s

2nd Goozee, Backhouse, Brenchley

3rd Randall, Wilkes, Hunter

4th Riley, Bezer, Jones

6th Finn, Hickman, Keyte 

Ladies

1st Sexton, Baxter, Elliott 

2nd Ray, Phillips, Holmes 

4th Butler, Hatcher, Radestock 

Dedicated to the late and great Dale Greig 15.05.1937-12.05.2019

Bournemouth Marathon Festival

Started in 2013, this weekend of running has become a firm favourite on the south coast running calendar. With 4 distances on offer as well as 4 junior fun runs taking place, the appeal is across the board.

Steve Rumsey kicked off proceedings in the “Supersonic 10k” at 4pm on Saturday. Touted as being fast, flat and perfect for a pb, the race starts and finishes within the Victorian splendour of the 19th century Lower Gardens. Heading east along Undercliff Drive toward Boscombe before they made a sharp turn onto the seafront. Uniquely the course then goes up and down not one but 2 piers as they make their way along the shore and back to Lower Gardens.

Steve gave the race his usual 100% effort to finish in a nippy 39.40 giving him 49th overall and 3rd V50.

Not worn out Steve lined up at dusk to take on the “Supernova 5k”. Starting at 7pm, the organisers encourage a real party atmosphere as they tell competors to grab as many supporters and as many fluorescent, flashy things as you can. 

Into the sunset the runners dashed out onto Undercliff Drive before turning as they approached Boscombe Pier onto the seafront. Blasting along, the course then, like the 10k, goes up and down the Victorian Pier before returning to Lower Gardens.

Showing no signs of the afternoons excertion, he finished in 20.35 taking 37th overall and 2nd in his age category. 

The next day it was the turn of Super duo Lucy Deville and Lyn Snow as they stepped onto the startline of the half marathon in Kings Park.

A nice flat out and back run along the seafront to Boscombe and back, also taking in the piers on the way.

“I almost felt guilty” said Lucy “I had in the back of my mind all my clubmates tackling the hills on the IOW marathon at that very same time whilst we were on the flat”

Lucy finished in a cracking 2.25 on the nose taking 2nd V65 in the process. Lyn came over the line with a smile in 2.47.37

Royal Parks Half

The 12th running of this popular race celebrated 500 years of the history of London’s famous green spaces. Organised by the Royal Parks Foundation, the race raises money to maintain the 5000 acres of land across the 8 royal parks in our iconic capital. It is a treat of a race touring the leafy spaces of our capital as well as some of Londons most famous streets and passing many of its world famous landmarks.

All 16000 of the entries are either balloted or available via a charity making a bucket list race for many runners. Over the past 12 years runners have raised in excess of a colossal £30 million.

2 lucky roadrunners, Claire Jasper and Louise Morris secured places in this fantastic event. 

Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, they were rather daunted by the conditions underfoot.

“This is not the start I expected on a ‘road race’” Claire tells me as she’s lining up in the mud waiting for the off.

Eventually they got moving and the girls left 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 accompanied by some great fancy dress runners.

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. 

“That was a bit more undulating than I thought it would be” said Claire 

“It was all quite overwhelming” said Lou who chose to run for mental health charity Mind.

Despite their challenges and the soggy weather, they both made it to the finish line back in Hyde Park. 

Louise Morris – 2.26.01

Claire Jasper – 2.42.16

Great West Run

James Shoulder took the trip to Exeter on Sunday to take on this sold out half marathon alongside 2500 other runners.

Starting at the Exeter Arena, James set out into the city centre. Despite the deluge of rain the course was lined with supporters cheering and shouting, getting into the spirit of the event.

He made his way out toward the beautiful country lanes of Stoke Woods. Onward he ran onto an out and back section which bought James back toward the city, this time skirting the University campus before returning the way he came to a rapturous stadium finish.

“I really enjoyed that! I felt relaxed” said James

Despite having taken part in the IOW marathon just 7 days previously, James crossed the line in the stadium in a fantastic 1.58.29 and 55 seconds. 

Tirana Half Marathon

Tirana, the capital city of Albania. Enclosed by mountains and hills, it enjoys it own little micro climate. It is one of the sunniest cities in Europe enjoying over 2500 hours of the golden stuff every year as Ian Dyer found out last weekend.

“It’s so hot here!” he messages me, as I pull on a cardi and stare out the window as the persistent rainfall here in Blighty.

The running weekend is the largest sporting event held in the city. Welcoming some 2500 runners from 40 different nations, the race has grown year on year. With a half marathon, a 10k and a series of fun runs over the course of the 2 days the event is very inclusive and has a fun, festival feel.

In Nënë Tereza Square Ian lined up on the startline in the already hot sunshine (26c) 

“I couldn’t believe it! The bloke stood next to me was from Wootton!”

9am came and Ian was off on his journey into the city. Travelling north first before turning onto Rruga Dedë Gjo Luli passing the Natural History Museum before then an out and back section before heading south, skirting Rinia Park before heading down to trace the shores of the artificial lake before taking him through the Grand Park of Tirana.

He then wiggled his way back through the city to return to Nënë Tereza and the welcome sight of the sun baked finish line.

“I enjoyed that! Although it was just so hot. It went upto 29c by the time I’d finished. The was no breeze and with the wide streets there was little shade either. But it was a lovely course and brilliantly organised”

Loch Ness Festival of Running

It may only be the second largest lake in Scotland, but it is the most famous by miles. It’s murky depths stretch 37km from Fort Augustus to Inverness and of course are said to house the legendary, elusive cryptozoological creature the Loch Ness Monster. 

This point to point race takes the runners from one end to the other eventually crossing the Loch itself and finishing on the north bank. A family friendly festival feel is evident as the runners are treated to some Scottish Hospitality.

An early start saw Tim Cordery, club legend Dave Cass and his wife Sharon herded into their shuttle buses in the pouring rain to take them over to the startline. Dave embarking on his 40th marathon.

Starting with a bagpiper on the atmospheric moorland on the high ground just outside Fort Augustus, the boys started with a lovely downhill couple of miles toward Whitebridge. They then ran along the south bank of the Loch, taking in the stunning natural beauty as they went through Foyers and lnverfarigaig. 

Meanwhile Tim’s wife Amanda was on the startline of the River Ness 10k for her club debut. A flat and downhill point to point course it goes through Inverness and along the banks of the River Ness. Starting on Culduthel Avenue, the route wiggles through the town before joining the marathon course to the finish area.

Amanda rose to the occasion wearing her vest with pride as she flew around the course as she smashed her PB by over 3 minutes.

“I’m super chuffed! I’m closing in on my hour target” she beamed.

Meanwhile the marathoners were still out there. At 10 miles they found themselves at “Loch level” as they enjoyed not only a flat 10k but some panoramic views of the famous waterway. It was along this stretch that Tim had to stop for another “comfort break” and Dave went on ahead. 

“I couldn’t catch him after that” said Tim “note to self…. don’t over hydrate”

16 miles behind them now and they’d reached adores. This was the start of a long uphill drag. 

“Dave told me it was flat….. he lied! It made Pallance Road look like a Mole Hill!” Said Tim

Hill conquered they were back on the downhill as they hit 20 miles and Scaniport. One more climb and the rest was downhill. 

At 24 miles they reached Inverness and the end of the Loch. They turned right on to the Ness Bridge to cross the water they’d been skirting for the last 40k.

One more turn and the finishline in Bught Park was in sight. 

Dave made it across the line just under the 4 hour mark and Tim just over. They both nipped off to enjoy their complementary food and collect their goody bags and waited for Daves wife Sharon to finish her marathon journey.

10k

Amanda Cordery – 1.06.54

Marathon 

Dave Cass – 3.57.38

Tim Cordery – 4.03.17