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Brutal 10k

Our little speed demon Danny Faulkner took on this new setting for this infamous run series. Set in Bourne Woods, near Farnham in Surrey, this beautiful area is so picture perfect that’s is used for filming movies upto 6 months of the year. It has been used to shoot such blockbusters as Gladiator, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, War Horse and Robin Hood.

The distance might seem a bit short for our adept marathoner, but this is no walk in the park. It is brutal by name and brutal by nature. A predominantly coniferous woodland, this single lap course begins by taking the runners through an RSPB nature reserve, lulling them into a false sense of security before embarking on relentless, sharp elevations and lots of mud.

“It was absurdly hilly and reasonably muddy but beautiful woodland trails. I am aching today though!”

Danny ran brilliantly finishing in 49.05 and 29th place overall.

Dark Valley

The Moors Valley Country Park just outside of Ringwood was the setting for the inaugural running of White Star running’s newest event The Dark Valley. With 2 distances on offer the entire event sold out in just 24 hours, continuing the popularity of this series of running events based across Dorset and The New Forest.

6 roadrunners were quick enough to bag themselves an entry. They excitedly picked up their numbers as the sun started to droop down below there horizon. It was here that they met up with a few familiar faces and they donned their mandatory illuminations and took their spots on the startline.

Michael Coultrup, Simon Riley, Lisa Upstell and Sarah Holmes set out first as they took on the half marathon distance. The course was 2 slightly different laps into the depths of the forest, lit only by the runners illuminating the paths with their headtorches. Gravel track, sandy paths, muddy trails and some sizeable puddles were interspersed with a few short, sharp inclines.

Half an hour later the 10k set off into the darkness. Super duo Pete and Jodie Wilmott took on the single lap course, following the same route as the half runners before them (just slightly more churned up by now)

“It was fun setting off 1/2 an hour later as we caught up with the very well lit up neoned 1/2 marathon runners and it looked like we were chasing a Mardi Gras parade!”

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

“The Lovestation was so busy! It was like last orders in the pub haha!” said Holmsie

It was here in the half race that the boys went ahead to run the remaining 10 miles at their own paces and the girls kept it steady.

Jodie and Pete crossed the line together to receive their beautiful medals, just escaping the drizzle. Despite taking it easy, Peter picked up 7th in his age category and Jodie 3rd in hers.

In the half, Michael made up a lot of time after leaving the girls at the Lovestation. He beasted it round to finish in an amazing 26th overall and 3rd V50.

“It was the best night run I had ever attended and I loved the route”

Simon was next over the line in just under the 2 hour mark.

“There was some good technical parts in the short but steep climbs” he said “It could do with being more muddy with water crossings thrown in”

Then the girls came in, big smiles on their faces. Lisa particularly, as she has been battling a foot injury since May.

“A brilliant event that was well set up and marshalled. I loved it, we’ll be back next year” said Lisa triumphantly

Lisa was 7th in her age category and Sarah 4th V40.

Pete Wilmott- 58.11
Jodie Wilmott-58.11

Michael Coultrup-1.46.12
Simon Riley-1.58.22
Lisa Upstell-2.03.56
Sarah Holmes-2.03.56

Thames Meander

So flat the elevation ends up in minus figures, this out and back half marathon is a surprisingly off road affair following footpaths and trails along the iconic banks of the capitals River Thames.

Sally Trotman took on the course with her daughter Charlotte.

“It’s my home town. I’ve always wanted to run the tow path but didn’t run when I lived there”

Starting at the Hawker Centre in Kingston, the course literally takes the Thames Path from Canbury Gardens on the East Bank through Ham Lands. Hugging the river bank the runners continue past Eel Pie Island, Petersham, the Old Deer Park at Richmond before entering Kew Gardens and making the turn opposite Olivers Island.

“It was a bit cold and wet!” Sally tells me ” It was funny though! Charlotte thought it was really muddy haha! She clearly hasn’t done a GHM run!”

“It was very picturesque taking in Kew, Chiswick and Richmond. Very well organised and a fab massive medal”

Sally and Charlotte laughed and chatted their way around, throughly enjoying the experience in 2.12.14

Leeds Abbey 10k Dash

Started in 1986 by the Abbey Runners, 600 entrants embarked on the course from the city centre upto the Cistercian Kirkwall Abbey and back. Fast forward 31 years and just under 10,000 runners took on the same course this Sunday hoping to raise over £200,000 for Age UK.

Fast and flat, runners are encouraged to “smash the dash” Two of those 10 000 being our super duo Michael and Ashleigh Douglas.

Beginning at The Headrow, our dynamo duo made their way along Westgate into the city centre before turning onto Kirkwall Road for the out and back section upto the Abbey before returning to the city centre and the finishline outside the Town Hall.

Michael powered his way around the course. There was no sign of fatigue from his phenomenal performance at the Great South Run only 2 weeks ago. He knocked almost a minute of his previous best to secure himself yet another PB in a super speedy 35.14.

Ashleigh has suffered from a groin injury all Summer and was therefore understandably lacking in confidence in the run up to the event

“That was mentally a hard run for me” says Ashleigh “I felt the struggle before the race even started. I nearly dropped out more than once”

But despite her misgivings, Ashleigh smashed it, crossing the line in 49.17. Looks like her injury is behind her and she will back to her best soon enough.

Another great performance from team Douglas!

Meon Valley Half

A perfect Autumn morning, with a crisp Wedgewood blue sky, prevailed over the beautiful Meon Valley across the water in Hampshire as super duo Peter and Jodie Wilmott took on this formidable half marathon.

Starting at Meon Hall, our super speedsters Peter and Jodie Wilmott stepped out from their camper van Gus into the glorious winter sunshine onto the startline to set out on this small but friendly race.

A quaint old train track saw them through the first couple of miles before the 512ft of elevation started to kick in.

“It was tough,chalky, steep hills mixed with energy sapping, slippery, wet and muddy farmland sections thanks to the previous night of rain” said Jodie.

And from two experienced off road runners, you know that means it was no picnic.

Onward they both continued, Pete Striding ahead into the countryside toward Hen Wood and East Meon.

“The course was really well organised, signposted and friendly. Everyone was so chilled and happy”

The pertinacious pair negotiated some huge inclines along the way, but were rewarded with some glorious vistas across the Solent to our beautiful island home before descending on a well earned downhill couple of miles to the finishline back at Meonstoke.

Peter finished in a fantastic 1.37.40 24th overall and 5th in his age category.
Jodie was over the line in 1.53.36 7th female and 4th in her age category.

Looks like they are returning to form after periods of injury for both of them.
Great running #teamwilmott

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