The winding country lanes of the Hampshire countryside were the setting for the 9th race in the Hampshire Road Race League. With only 3 races left in the this years series the league placings are really hotting up.
After an unsettled week of weather, the sky was clear and blue as the team made their way up to the top of Hampshire county, into Jane Austen country, arriving at the village of Holybourne.
Starting at Eggars School, the 10 mile course then wound itself around a circuit of undulating countryside.
Despite being surprisingly warm from an early hour, the team in white blue and red attacked the course with gusto.
Ross Wilkes continued his hugely successful season by marching home in a spanking 19th overall against the cream of the county’s club runners. Simon Riley was over the line a few minutes later. Kev Rann gave a fantastic performance having only run a marathon the Sunday before. Bridget was the only lady from the club to take on the race. She put in a fine performance to take her one step closer to her “Run all 12” goal.
Set in the Rushmore Estate near Tollard Royal in Wiltshire, this glorious part of the English countryside is nestled within Cranbourne Chase, an ancient deer forest. Formerly the royal hunting grounds of King John, the last 10 years have seen some major restoration work resulting in the area now being recognised as a wildlife site of national importance.
In it’s 6th year, the Ox races have evolved. They are now largely based around the 10k circuit used for the light/dark races, runners wanting to compete at distance could either take on the 50 miler or the 12 hour frolic challenge (run as many loops as you can)
The setting is gorgeous. The Rushmore Estate near Tollard Royal in Wiltshire, opens its gates especially for the events. It’s nestled within Cranbourne Chase, an ancient deer forest and the royal hunting grounds of King John. The area is now recognised as a wildlife site of national importance.
Dan Williams was back in Dorset to take on the only event he didn’t tackle at last years event – the 12 hour frolic .
He set off into the sunshine on Sunday, not knowing how many miles he had in his legs. His 105 mile Dorset Coast Challenge was only a few weeks ago and he was still feeling effects of that epic adventure.
Nevertheless Dan went out in his usual carefully thought out and planned manner. He got to the marathon distance after 4 laps.
“I wanted to quit by this point. My legs felt like someone else’s”
He kept going though. 6 laps in and 40 miles behind him he paused for a bit of inspiration. A gift from a close friend gave him the grit to keep going.
He knuckled down, telling himself he was “just fatigued” and that he just had to keep moving.
It seemed to give him a second wind and he picked up in three last 3 laps managed to pass enough runners to get himself into 2nd place. He held on to maintain the second position overall and called it a day at 10 hours and 58 minutes.
Husband and wife team Julie and Pete Dixon managed to shoehorn a race into their holiday plans as they snuck a marathon in on their way to the Airport on Sunday.
“We were going up to Essex anyway to drop my car off with my family before flying on Monday… when I saw there was a marathon being held there I didn’t think twice about entering us both in it “
Pete had been quietly putting the miles in alongside Julie as she trained for London in the past few months. He didn’t have a race to train for he was just happily building his mileage up.
Race day came and Team Dixon lined up outside Halstead Leisure Centre before setting out into the countryside toward Bunting’s Green. They then turned North along the lanes of the Essex/Suffolk border. After passing Hunts Hall they embarked on the first of a 10 1/2 mile loop around Twinstead Green and Dagworth Manor, most of which is run twice.
“It was a lovely course” Julie tells me
They continued around the undulating lanes toward Coutess Cross before returning through Pebmarsh and the second lap of the Twinstead loop.Pete and Julie ran together, Pete hoping for a good run. Despite having a bit of a turn at 17 miles due to the unexpected warm weather Pete battled on in the last 9 miles to take a tidy fourteen minutes off his Pb to finish in 4.15.55. They were rewarded with some rather special bling, before they sped off to the airport.
Running 66 miles. It’s a long way…. it’s a flipping long way! It’s incomprehensible for 99.9% of the populous. It’s no flat 66 miles either. It’s unrelentling undulation, on footpaths mostly. It’s hard. Very hard. But for ultra specialist Ian Russell , it was nothing new. Having run it 2 years ago he knew what he was facing.
In it’s 6th year, this Ultra test of endurance takes the 1700 competitors around the coastal path of our beautiful Island. You can run, jog or walk up and down some total 1747m (5731ft) of elevation, (just as a comparison for you Ben Nevis is 1345m). The course is divided into quarters, each taking competitors from one further most tip of our sunny diamond to the next, each with a aid station offering drinks, food and general support.
Starting at Chale, Ian started out meaning business. The first section takes in the dramatic coastline along Compton, Freshwater and Tennyson to Nodewell Farm. It’s the hilliest section of the course with over 528m of elevation within the 13 mile distance, but for off road specialist Ian, it proved no real challenge especially on his fresh “Tigger” legs. He set out in the top 10, and gradually picked off a few runners
The next quarter saw him work his way along the longest quarter from The Needles past Yarmouth Castle, Hampstead Farm, Cranmore, Porchfield, Thorness, Gurnard and along the seafront to Northwood House.
“I got to the marathon distance in under 5 hours so I knew I was quicker than 2 years ago”
Halfway and the aid station at Northwood House. His family were there for a quick kiss and a hug. He had a 10 minute rest, a cup of tea and was off on his way again with another 33 miles to go, only to get held up by narrowly missing the Floating Bridge, (Yes! It was running!! MIRACLE)
The 3rd leg saw the most tarmac, as Ian made his way along the main roads from East Cowes to Ryde. Ian felt good along this stretch, despite having now run over 40 miles. He was in 6th position now and he continued to push on. Another quick hug with his wife in Ryde, continued this burst of energy all the way past the 50 mile point. His positive mental state paying dividends as he got to the half century mark a whopping 28 mins quicker than ever before. Onward he went, concentrating on his every step until he made it to the 3/4 point at Culver Down.
“I couldn’t wait to get there. I knew my good friends Tarnia and Dan were there waiting for me. They were running the last 15 miles with me and I wanted to give them the best I could”
One more hug with his son Roman gave him a real boost as he set out with buddies. He was in 4th place now, but he knew that the guys in 5th and 6th weren’t too far behind.
At around 60 miles Ian started to feel tired. He suffered a nose bleed as his body was telling him he was pushing it to its limits. It’s really tough terrain through parts of that area, (The Landslip at Luccombe), which can really drain tired legs. But Ian could not afford to slow down. He didn’t want to give up his 4th place to he kept on pushing.
Harry Rann joined the crew at Ventnor
“That was cool. Running with friends always helps”
The last few miles were testing, the hills of Blackgang are brutal at any time, but after such continued effort they are excruciating. But determined to hang on to his position Ian somehow managed to pull out a 9 minute mile followed by an 8 minute mile to come in under 12 hours!
“I had to let him go on!” said Tarnia “I’d only done 15 miles and even I couldn’t keep up with him! He was awesome!”
He crossed the line with his son, maintaining his 4th position in 11.55.10…. what a legend!
In it’s 5th year of running, the Southampton races are growing in success year on year. With a 10k and a half marathon in addition to the full course on offer, the event is accessible to all ages and all abilities.
A bright sunny sky prevailed as the team congregated in the Race Village outside the Guildhall. Numbers collected, bags dropped off it was time already to get over to the start line.
With the half and the marathon starting together it was busy and buzzy as the race starter counted them down for the off.
The half course took in some of the landmarks of the city. Passing by the QE2 Anchor, running through St Mary’s Stadium and of course up and down the Itchen Bridge.
From the start in the city centre the runners made their way along Town Quay before tackling the Itchen Bridge over to Woolston. A little loop around the area took them through the grassy Rolling Mills before returning across the bridge. A right turn and they continued toward Southampton Football Clubs, St Mary’s Stadium. The runners entered the stadium and ran down one side of the pitch before emerging into Northam. They crossed the bridge there,taking them into Bitterne and through Riverside Park. The temperature was surprisingly warmer than expected as they made their way around the undulating course. A sharp turn onto Cobden Bridge then took them across to St.Denys then Portswood. A long drag upto the common drained the legs in the final stages as they made the turn for home.
Not for the marathon runners though as they had 2 laps of the course to complete. They had to watch the half runners dip under the finishing arch as they were shepherded to the left lane knowing they had to do it all over again.
It was all joy and relief for the half runners though as they came in one by one.
Simon Randall was first home in a tidy 1 hour and 25 minutes taking the 10th place in his age category. Richard Harvey bounced across the line in 1 hour 37 minutes with George Butler coming down the finishing straight less than 5 minutes later to a shiny new PB, showing his time out due to last year’s back operation is behind him and he’s back to his best.
“It’s so good to get a PB!” he tells me “we were all working hard out there”
New member Andy Tickner was next, beating the 2 hour mark with ease, taking 4 minutes off his PB.
“The support from the IWRR cheer squad in the last mile was great. It really helped me to find a final push and break 1.55”
Julie Salter was the first of the girls home having run the whole way with Nick Carter. Carolyn Littleton was home next in under 2 hrs 10 in her debut in not only the distance but for the club too.
“What a brilliant day!” She tells me “I’ve really enjoyed it”
Another new member Kelvin Mansfield ran a steady race with father and daughter Steve and Sarah Morris close behind him having run the whole course together, crossing the line in unison, demonstrating they are making a great team as that was their third event together in as many months.
Supergran Lucy Deville cruised home in her usual inspirational manner, Gill Shaw wasn’t to far behind earning herself a huge 7 minute Pb in the process. Lyn Snow came home 10 minutes later with Penny Downer pushing her limits to complete her first ever half marathon.
In the 10k, team IWRR had 4 runners out on the course. Following most of the first few miles of the half course. They turned off before St.Marys Stadium, to return back to the Guildhall.
Mike Kimber got his medal first in under 45 minutes, just pipping Olympian Iwan Thomas on the line. Alison Batchelor dipped well under the hour mark, with Callie Hatcher just over. Coral Leach was a welcome addition on the startline having not raced for a while.
“It felt really good to be racing again. I was very nervous beforehand, but felt good once I got there”
Meanwhile in the marathon, they were still plugging away. As already mentioned, the marathoners had 2 laps of the half course to negotiate. They finished their first lap with fantastic support from the Roadrunners cheer squad
“I loved seeing our noisy lot at halfway” said Sarah Holmes “I was losing the will to live on that first lap so to see them all there screaming at the top of their voices was such a lift. I got around the corner though and stopped. I wanted to cry. I felt like I’d bitten off more than I could chew with this one, but I couldn’t bear the thought of letting the support crew down”
It’s no surprise that she was tired, along with Glen Jones and Zoe Sherwin they’d run the London Marathon only a week previously.
“That was tough” said Glen “I think that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”
All three of them battled through the fatigued legs and self doubts on that second lap.
Andy MacArthur was the first Roadrunner home taking the bull by the horns finishing in 59th overall and 3rd V50 whilst smashing his PB by 3 minutes to gain himself a coveted Good for Age time.
“I so pleased” he informs me whilst on an extended celebration “it felt tough on the second lap but it should feel hard when you are pushing yourself. I’m over the moon”
Speaking of pushing oneself, the indomitable Hayley Baxter absolutely stormed her way round to finish in a massive 10 minute PB having run the whole way with club legend Stuart Backhouse. As if the PB wasn’t enough of a cause to celebrate she also took 5th lady overall and the pole position in the V40 category.
“The second lap was so hard. I’m so grateful to Stu for his support. He kept me going at times”
Next to complete the 26.2 mile journey was Michael Coultrup followed by a delighted Kev Rann in a well earnt PB of 2 minutes
“I’m more than happy with that. It was great to see the support crew”
The back to back marathon crew were next home with Zoe arriving back first, then Glen, then Holmsie. All relieved to have completed this big ask.
“I was in a world of pain. I couldn’t wait for it to be over!” said Zoe “But I’m so glad I did it”
“I wanted to quit about 3 miles in” said Glen “I won’t be trying that again in a hurry”
“I had to put my big girl pants on and just get on with it in the second lap” said Holmsie “In fact I’m pleased with how the second half went really, I tried to maintain pace and I did”
Closing the bidding for team IWRR was stalwart Karen Phillips. Having run a solid race, she suffered from tight hamstrings in the latter miles and was forced to run walk. But in true Karen style, she battled her way to the finish with a fantastic flourish for the support crew.
Event director Hugh Brasher labelled this years event as “Britain’s biggest street party” as London welcomes some 42 000 runners and unquantifiably HUGE number of people lining the streets to cheer, hand out jelly beans, high fives and scream support at total strangers.
Some would say it’s the greatest marathon in the world. And with 414,168 applicants scrabbling for a balloted place it’s easy to see how so many people use their place to raise money for charity. In fact this year the billion pound mark will be reached and surpassed. A huge testament to the tenacity and dedication of every single fundraiser over the years. Which is why this years event has been hashtagged #thanksabillion
On that note this years IWRR fundraisers were first time marathoners Steve Hunt, (running for Daisy Chains IW) and Beverly James (running for The Shaw Trust). Tanya Clifford, Jess Hill, Bianca Johnston & Kim Hulacka, (running for Wessex Cancer Trust) and Glen Jones running London as his flagship race in his 12 in 12 campaign for the NSPCC.
Joining them on the start line were Julie Rasmussen & Lisa Upstell using their deferred places from last year, Julie Dixon, Steve Bennett & Sarah Holmes using their well deserved Good for Age spots, Matt Fletcher & Sarah Sharp having won theirs in the club Christmas draw and Zoe Sherwin the only one to get her Willy Wonka golden ticket through the ballot.
It’s 26 miles and 385 yards, the same as any other marathon, but there is something else that sets this one apart from all the others. Maybe it has something to do with the fact we have all watched it on’t telly every year with its instantly recognisable theme tune, it’s familiar sounding commentators, (although I can’t say it’s quite the same without the dulcet tones of Geordie Brendan Foster.) Maybe it’s because its so record breaking, heart wrenching, full of smiles, tears and every emotion inbetween, a procession of human endurance, of human spirit and of what’s right in the world when so much seems so uncertain. It’s ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing, turning dreams into reality and transforming themselves into warriors with every step in this life changing journey.
Started in 1981 by Olympic champion Chris Brasher, (Hugh’s dad), and John Disley when 6255 runners crossed that startline. Suffice to say it’s changed a bit since then as that starling is now divided into 3 and then subdivided into waves to safely cope with the record numbers year on year.
Thankfully Storm Hannah has abated over night and the gale force winds had virtually disappeared. Overcast and a bit nippy the conditions were looking perfect. The runners were visibly nervous but excited as they made their way to Blackheath for the start, some feeling prepared, some not so much. A few tears were shed as they kissed goodbye to their loved ones and entered the runners only enclosure.
10.10am on the dot came and the began to move off in their waves. Each stepping out on the tarmac on their own personal journey, their own personal battle. None of them not really knowing what would unfold in the next few hours, knowing what an unpredictable beast the marathon can be.
“What an electric atmosphere!” said Lisa “The crowd were amazing”
Never ones to miss a party and certainly not Britain’s biggest street party, the Roadrunners sent up a huge support crew sent up to cheer, scream and make as much noise as possible, and not just at our Roadrunners either. Their first camp was at the 6 mile marker where they patiently waited with their bacon butties and coffees for the spectacle to begin.
It wasn’t long before the elites came past and the flow of runners got thicker and thicker and thicker. They had no trouble picking out their clubmates though.
“I tried to high 5 all the support crew at mile 6” said Matt “I was nearly at mile 7 by the time I finished there was so many of them!”
Past Cutty Sark they went one by one and they wound their way around Surrey Quays before turning onto the iconic Tower Bridge.
“Tower Bridge was something else!” said Kim “I turned the corner and it appeared from nowhere! Wow!”
“The noise was deafening. It was surreal running over it in real life. I’ve watched people do it on the TV every year” said Steve Hunt.
Onward past the halfway mark, the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.
“Every time I crossed a timing mat I thought of all the people at home tracking us” said Matt
“I knew I was the best prepared I’ve ever been going into a marathon” said Zoe “The further I got through the race the more I believed I could actually do it. I just kept going”
For some, the miles start to take their toll in the second half of the journey. Any niggles and pains of existing injuries started to return. So far behind them, but still so far to go. If the body holds up, it’s the part where the mind can fall apart or worse still the dreaded wall can hit them smack bang in the face.
“The only thing that kept me going was knowing that the IWRR cheer squad was at mile 22 and my family in the Embankment” said Jess “my foot was killing me”
Steve was also finding it tough and he walked for a little bit.
“I knew I had to get going again. I couldn’t let my clubmates see me walking”
And they were exactly where they promised to be… just past the Tower of London. Shouting, screaming and making as much noise as they could.
“What a boost it was to see them there” said Steve Bennett
“Getting to that point was such a challenge” said Tanya “I had a good chat with Julie Ray and some of the others. I couldn’t have done it without them”
“I nearly missed them!” said Sarah Sharp “I saw them right at the last second. I desperately needed a hug but I daren’t stop. I continued on in tears”
5k left …. keep going…. one foot in front of the other …. breathe…….
The crowds get thicker and the noise levels go up a notch or 2 as the made their way along the Embankment, the landmarks coming thick and fast now. Cleopatras Needle, The London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abby and onward to leafy Birdcage Walk before they saw that oasis in the distance…. the 385 yards to go sign!
One final turn right and they were in front of Buckingham Palace. One final burst down The Mall, giving it whatever their legs had left whist trying not to get overwhelmed by the emotion.
They’d done it!! They’d finished! they’d run the London Marathon!
First to finish was Steve Bennett, smashing his target of 3 and a half hours giving himself a well deserved 2 minute PB and finishing in the top 15% overall and 9% in his age category (70th)
“I felt strong until about 24 miles. I really had to dig in and hang on. I’m so chuffed”
Next to make his way down The Mall was the ever smiling Matt Fletcher having run a quicker second half of the race to power home happy. Zoe Sherwin shattered her target of a Good For Age time by whacking 17 mins off her previous PB to gain one with 12 minutes to spare.
“There were happy tears at the finish. I’m still pinching myself”
Personal trainer Julie Dixon finished strongly next. Having struggled around with an injury last year she too was emotional after realising she’d sneaked a PB. Mr. 12 in 12 Glen Jones was home next in yet another sub 4 hour time.
“That was much more enjoyable than last years heat! Maybe my hot weather curse is finally broken!”
Hmmm not sure about that Glen… let’s see what the weather’s like next weekend for Southampton shall we? haha!
Sarah Holmes collected her medal quarter of an hour later after picking up the pace massively in the last 5k
“That was amazing! I loved every single second! My cheeks hurt from smiling so much all the way round!”
Life long friends Kim and Jess were the next to finish, having run strong all the way round. Julie “Razzer” bounced past Buckingham Palace next having enjoyed every step
“That was 2 years in the making and it was all I hoped it would be and more. The party atmosphere really kept me going when everything started to hurt”
Bianca knocked it right out the park as she finished with a phenomenal 48 minute PB!
“That was so emotional! You can see just how much it means to everyone out there”
Sarah Sharp was not far behind, more grateful to see the finishline than most
“I felt weird in the last couple of miles. I saw Big Ben and before I knew it I was on the ground! The crowd were amazing chanting for me to get up, but I couldn’t! My calves cramped up every time I moved”
With a little help she managed grit her teeth and hobble off, much to the delight of the crowd.
“Turning the corner at Buckingham Palace was life changing. I was exhausted, hurting and emotional but so, so proud”
Debutant Steve was next to grace the red victory arch.
“I was really choked up in the last few miles. I saw my family at mile 25 and they handed me the IOW flag, I held it above my head as I crossed the line. I started running when my mum died, I know she’d be so proud of me”
Tanya and Lisa somehow happened to find each other on the way down The Mall despite there being 42000 other runners. Both had suffered their own battles on this journey. Lisa having battled over a year of injuries, doubting if she’d ever make that startline, only to be let down by her tummy on the day. Tanya’s inspirational fight with cancer over the past 12 months has been a rollercoaster. Due to have her final op just 48 hours after the race, London has been the focus she needed to keep positive through some dark times. They had the privilege of crossing the line together, sharing their special moment of joy and of victory over their demons.
Completing the bidding for team IWRR was Beverley. Having not been sure that she could even run a mile she smashed it and made her way triumphantly to the finishing line and collected that well earnt medal.
What a day!! Even the support crew were worn out!
Same time next year??? On go on then….. see you there!
Beautiful Dorset. Rolling hills. Hidden coves. Glorious beaches. Stretching from Devon to Hampshire the southern coastline stretches some 101 miles from Lyme Regis to Chewton Bunny.
It’s quite some way, even as the crow flies. So throw into the mix the coastal path, mud, shingle beaches, darkness, frost and a easterly headwind and it becomes quite the mission impossible. So to try and run it, all in one go seems unrealistic and quite possibly ridiculous.
But the impossible and the ridiculous have never been obstacles for our ultra king Dan Williams. Teaming up with Andy Palmer from White Star Running, this feat of endurance became a reality. Hours of training, recoinasence and meticulous planning ensued as the pair set about setting the record for not only running the entire coast but setting the fastest known time record.
Starting at 10pm just west of Lyme Regis Dan embarked on this race against the clock.
He went out into the darkness feeling good and up for the challenge, knowing he had a very very long road (or lack of it!) in front of him. He smashed the first leg of 12 and a half miles, arriving in Freshwater Beach ahead of schedule. A very quick pit stop and he was off again on one of the only flat sections of the route to Abbotsbury. Flat didn’t mean easy though, as he negotiated the shingle beaches in the dead of night. He continued onward to Ferrybridge. It was cold now and the Easterly headwind was biting. The reccies they’d done in the daylight suddenly seeming pointless as the terrain looked so different in the dark.
“It was hard going on that section” the mileage mogul tells me “it was frosty, dewy and muddy”
He fell behind his carefully planned time schedule as the logistics of running in the dark took their toll. He reached Ferrybridge at around 4.30am. Knowing he could make the time back somewhere along the route, he started to make his way around the Portland peninsular. Already 30 odd miles into the challenge but still so,so far away from his destination. It was along this stretch that Dan had hoped to make up his lost time. But a few nasty tummy cramps put paid to that idea.
He reached Portland Bill at first light and managed to keep it together, fighting the headwind and made it back to Ferrybridge for another pit stop.
The next leg took him to Bowleaze via Weymouth. With 44 miles behind him, poor Dan felt a sharp pain in his knee.
“I ran walked for a bit and it did ease off, but it plagued me for the next 20 miles or so”
As if that wasn’t enough to contend with Dan then hit the dreaded wall. By the time he got to Bowleaze he’d recovered but had lost 45 mins.
“I was still confident I could bring it back on track. I made decent progress on the leg to Lulworth”
Maybe it was the knowledge that his mum and dad would be there waiting for him with his secret weapon of gherkins which spurred him on? Who knows? But it certainly did the trick as he clawed back some of the lost time despite the undulation in the area.
After a sandwich (and gherkins of course) he ran a couple of miles with his dad (cute eh?) as he wound his way up and down the many steep hills and hundreds of steps in the area
“Strangely I had looked forward to them” he tells me “they weren’t too problematic, just slow going”
Nevertheless he made it to Kimmeridge in good time and raring to keep momentum for the journey to Peveril Point in Swanage.
Just after Dancing Ledge, Dan hit the wall again. Worse this time. He had to lie down at the side of the path for a little while, hypoglycaemic, unable to function. Somehow he pulled himself back and managed to run the next 5 miles to meet Andy at Peveril Point where he was greeted with a nice cup of coffee.
“I was feeling better than I expected! I knew I only had one notable hill left to conquer and my knee had eased up”
Riding the crest of this rollercoaster he went onto just about make the 6.20 ferry from Studland to Sandbanks. In fact he had to pull out a bit of adrenaline fuelled race pace for half a mile to ensure he didn’t miss it! Unbelievable considering he’d run 87 miles!
“I’d have been happy with that pace in the middle of a 10k” he chortles “I was one happy soldier to make it with seconds to spare!”
Dan had 15 minutes to kill on the ferry. Most people having run 87 miles,(well … let’s face it … most people wouldn’t run 87 miles … but IF they did…) would have taken advantage of the rest on board the boat. Not our Dan though! Ooooooh nooooo! He used that 15 minutes to recalculate his pace for the last leg of the journey to get him to his final destination in 24 hours.
Maths done, arrived at Sandbanks to a welcoming committee of pacers, there to see him to the finish in one piece. He had 14 miles left. 14 flat miles! 14 miles of tarmac. No more hills, no more mud, no more shingle. The support on this last stretch was fantastic. In addition to the pacers, that dropped in and out during the last leg, Dan was lifted by passers by, some holding banners, aware of the challenge he was undertaking.
Dan pushed on. Giving it everything he had left to claw back the lost time and complete the task on target. Dark again by now, he had just 3 miles left. 3 miles of promenade. One eye on the clock the whole time and the other on the miles left to go, Dan knew he just had to hold on and keep putting one foot in front of the other. With less than a mile to go he got a huge rush of adrenaline. He politely dumped his pacers and ran ahead hammering it through the dark. A sprint finish! Yes really!! Motoring now at 5k race pace he was just metres away but with only minutes left on the clock. Tick, tock, tick, tock, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.
Dan turned left for the last time. Chewton Bunny and the Hampshire border. He’d done it! He’d made it! 101 miles. 13000 feet of elevation behind him, (that’s 3 times up Ben Nevis) A small crowd have gathered to cheer the hero home.
“They had champagne waiting for me”
Time on the clock …. 23 hours 57 minutes and 30 seconds … he’d done it!!! That last sprint had made all the difference and brought him in under the 24 hour mark.
The Fastest Known Time… in the world… EVER!!
“I was gobsmacked! I’m STILL gobsmacked”
And so are we!!! The only question that remains is what is next for Superman Dan???
The weather didn’t abate as the unusually high temperatures continued on Easter Monday making it of one the hottest editions of this race in history.
Some brutal “undulation” faced the runners as they tackled the 900ft of ascent crammed into 8 miles, hampered further by the soaring temperatures under the clear azure skies.
Held every Easter Monday since the early 80s this challenging course was the brainchild of the Harriers’ current Chairman’s father. It was originally marshalled by local Boy Scouts. And what a fantastic idea it was to hold a race of this length on Easter Monday. It weirdly will burn off almost the exact amount of calories contained in an average size Easter Egg. WIN! No wonder 152 runners signed up to face the challenge.
Starting at the Sports Centre the course went straight into the 1st little hill through to Norton and then back down into Freshwater. Then off up to Golden Hill Fort and continuing up (yes still going up!) to Headon Warren. A little bit of downhill relief as they made their way along to Alum Bay, bracing themselves for the hill that almost no-one can run all the way up …. Highdown.
By this time the poor runners are heavy legged. And they still have the longest climb to go. But up they went, all the way up to the resplendent Tennyson Monument to be rewarded with a whole mile of downhill to pick up their pace and get themselves back to the finish at the Sports Centre.
First roadrunner home was Stuart Backhouse in just over 55 minutes to taking 5th overall.
“I’m well chuffed with that!” He beams afterwards “I even managed to run up the whole of the ‘horrible hill’”
Sean Williams was home a minute later to take 10th, relieved to have recovered from his recent ankle sprain. Andy MacArthur followed shortly completing the first men’s team.
For the ladies, it was Holly Newton that romped home in 71 minutes giving her a well deserved 2nd place and 1st IOW lady. Charlotte Williams was the next girl back to the Sports Centre with Abigail Keyte just 3 seconds behind her.
There was a sprinkling of age category successes too. Taking pole positions were Stuart Backhouse, Holly Newton, Paul Muffett and Abigail Keyte (whilst breaking the junior course record too!) Sean Williams and newly signed Steve Apsey took 2nd places in their categories, whilst Tarnia Butler grabbing the 3rd prizes in hers
Stuart Backhouse – 55.22
Sean Williams – 56.17
Andy MacArthur – 57.44
Steve Apsey – 58.08
Nick Kenney – 59.32
Harry Rann – 59.44
Holly Newton – 1.01.12
Paul Muffett – 1.02.33
Rob Hunter – 1.02.30
Dan Williams – 1.02.30
Mike Kimber – 1.05.05
Noel Finn – 1.05.39
Ian Dyer – 1.09.48
Andy Tickner – 1.12.33
Charlotte Williams – 1.14.53
Abigail Keyte – 1.14.56
Tarnia Butler – 1.16.23
Emily Scott – 1.16.46
Ivan Ward – 1.16.58
Sarah Ward – 1.16.59
Stephen Hickman – 1.18.20
Ian Williams – 1.19.31
Margaret Niland-Murphy – 1.20.27
Julie Salter – 1.21.33
Chani Jones – 1.21.33
Nick Carter – 1.21.33
Emma Muffett – 1.30.16
Alison Butcher – 1.33.16
Lucy Deville – 1.38.44
Penny Downer – 1.44.25
Jo Randall – 1.44.25
Lyn Snow – 1.46.32
The men’s team competition was dominated by the white red and blue vests with the fellas only missing out on the silver spot. The ladies proudly took 2nd.
It was a blistering start to the Easter weekend of racing as the sun cane of to make it one of the hottest Easter Saturday’s in history. Temperatures of 26c filled the air as the runners awaited the off outside County Hall in Newport.
3pm came and they were given the off.
First run in 1933, this race used to go by road from the Town Hall in Newport to the Town Hall in Ryde. The course however, has changed several times over the years to maintain runners safety and now takes a more multi terrain route through Barton, New Fairlee Farm, Belmont Woods, Lakeside, Firestone Copse and now finishing at Ryde School.
It was clear that the weather while it was glorious it was going to make the run harder. But it didn’t deter the warriors in white, blue and red from taking the bull by the horns and gritting their teeth.
Michael Douglas was the first Roadrunner home in just over 49 minutes to take 4th, with Stu Backhouse not too far behind him taking 5th and Dean Pike completed the first men’s team
In the ladies race, it was ladies captain Jodie Wilmott that stormed home in 3rd place and 30th overall. Hayley Baxter came home in 4th despite suffering an asthma attack mid run, whilst Tarnia Butler completed the first ladies team.
There were prize winners galore in the age categories too! Stuart Backhouse, Jodie Wilmott and Sue Hunter taking pole position in theirs, Hayley Baxter and Tarnia Butler grabbing a 2nd place each and Sean Williams and Sarah Ward taking 3rd on the podium in theirs.
Michael Douglas – 49.04
Stuart Backhouse – 49.36
Dean Pike – 51.13
Sean Williams – 52.25
Steve Apsey – 52.50
Harry Rann – 54.05
Simon Randall – 54.11
Jodie Wilmott – 56.10
Garry Sharp – 56.57
George Butler – 57.56
Rob Hunter – 58.33
Noel Finn – 58.50
Hayley Baxter – 59.28
Richard Clark – 1.05.23
Tarnia Butler – 1.11.02
Emily Scott – 1.11.14
Fiona Attwood – 1.11.30
Sarah Ward – 1.15.18
Ivan Ward – 1.15.20
Sue Hunter – 1.19.47
Julie Salter – 1.21.26
Nick Carter – 1.21.27
In the team competition it was quite the treasure haul as the Men’s teams took the 1st and 3rd positions for the third year running whilst the ladies proudly took 2nd in theirs.
1st Douglas, Backhouse, Pike
3rd Williams, Rann, Randall
5th Sharp, Butler, Hunter
11th Finn, Clark, Ward
2nd Wilmott, Baxter, Butler
5th Scott, Attwood, Ward
Time for some Easter Eggs to carb up for Monday…….
The banks of the River Avon were the backdrop of the eighth Hampshire Road Race League race. Starting in the City of Salisbury Athletics track, some 12 Roadrunners made trip across the Solent to compete in the 10 mile race.
Winding North from the city, the runners made their way along the undulating course to the Woodford Valley and then returning with the Cathedral spires in view to finish back on the track.
Ross Wilkes made it 3 in a row as he scored himself yet another magnificent PB, despite only running Manchester marathon 7 days ago. He finished 33rd overall and 16th in his age category. David Blake continues his great form by also scoring himself a PB, whilst Garry Sharp also pulled his best time out the bag completing the first men’s team and giving himself the 17th V50 spot.
For the ladies it was Jodie Wilmott that returned back to the track first in a PB of 71 minutes having run the whole way with husband Peter, taking 20th overall and 9th V35. Zoe Sherwin wasn’t too far behind in a yet another PB for her
“I wasn’t going for a time really” she chimes “That was my last league race for a while so it’s nice to go out on a high”
Tanya Clifford completed the First Ladies team, also in a PB in her last race before the London Marathon.