Members are invited to the join the Almost Athletes get-together hosted on Zoom.
ZOOM link details are:
Meeting ID: 771 7266 8270
Please ensure Zoom shows your real name (first name and surname) so that you can be admitted to the virtual room.
AA Membership year is 1st April to 31st March, so existing members should NOT RENEW at this time.
Applications are now open for NEW MEMBERS - their membership will run from 1 January 2021 till 31st March 2022.
Sorry, but the club sessions are suspended to comply with the present Lockdown regulations. We look forward to welcoming members back when they are permitted.
Meanwhile. members are encouraged to visit the club's Facebook page to keep in touch.
We pride ourselves on being the kind of club that can help and encourage you to get the most out of your running - whether your interest is running for fun, getting fit, or training for anything from a 5K race to a marathon or even an ultra. We can help you achieve your aims.
Almost Athletes has been running since 1988, welcoming runners of all abilities and providing not only guided training runs but also a lively social calendar. With a current membership in excess of 400, Almost Athletes really is Cheltenham's biggest and friendliest running club!
As April rolls into May, Almost Athletes have continued to make the most of difficult circumstances, and with a spring in their step have taken on some stunning solo running routes.
This week’s report comes after club members embraced the Move and Post week which ran from 22nd-29th April. This initiative promoted a MOVE of whatever distance people fancied – and then an obligatory POST on the club’s Facebook page. It would be impossible to list everyone here, but please scroll through the page because some of the pictures are fantastic.
Focusing on a few though, Peter Allsopp wrote positively about how being part of the club has helped develop his confidence to take on off road routes. His run took in Mill Street, Cleeve Hill and Mill Lane and included spectacular fauna from Bluebells to blooming Wysteria! Kim Lewington also escaped to the hills and shared a great picture taken at Witcombe and Mark Willicott’s “Cotswold Run” included a manor house, a thatched cottage and inspiring woodland.
A constant theme from Move and Post week was members reminding themselves just how lucky we are to have so much scenery on our doorsteps. Jane Russell completed a ten mile run and did laps in Southam to make sure she hit the distance – in the sunshine, the Church looked resplendent. A number of Almosts have found sanctuary in the surroundings of Cleeve Hill with Nat Stow taking in the view as part of a great 10k and Thom Stephens including it on an amazing 16.74 mile effort.
There is no doubt that this initiative was well received by Almosts and the posts were inspiring to read. No more so than one from Matt Barnes, who marked Sunday 26th April (the day he would have been running the London Marathon) by spelling the letters NHS on his Strava map, during his run in Shurdington. A pertinent reminder of the outstanding work being done by our NHS heroes.
Since the last report we’ve also seen plenty of other impressive activity from Almost Athletes with yet more positivity emerging from every Facebook post! Mark Stojanov organised a “Finish for Matt” challenge where runners completed a 3.7 mile run in memory of Matt Campbell, who passed away running the London Marathon in 2018. Ben Stone, Chris McMahon, Marcus Rudge and Kim Lewington were amongst the Almosts who logged times.
A number of club members have of course seen events they were due to run, get cancelled – but undeterred are still getting out there and setting targets! Ashley Stevens donned his London Marathon 40th Anniversary colours to record a 1:38 half marathon. Michelle Balchin completed the Bishop’s Cleeve club run route of 5 miles ad Vicky Earls did a 3k in 14:55 with her aim of a sub 25 minute 5k now very much in her sights! Good work all.
So as lockdown continues, and the sun comes back out, the club is continuing to shine and we are seeing constant reminders of what a great community we are all part of. Keep up the excellent posts and we will do our best to put together a full round-up!
Once again, members of Almost Athletes have continued to find inspirational and imaginative ways to keep running and to keep both themselves, and others, motivated in these difficult times.
The biggest Club event during the past two weeks has been the 5km Lockdown Virtual Relay, organised and coordinated by Michelle Balchin who deserves a big round of applause from everyone involved for generating such a sense of togetherness.
An amazing 138 runners in 6 virtual teams took part in the event, each completing a solo 5km run around a pre-defined route in Cheltenham which amounted to a total of 690 km of running overall. Each team had a captain who designed the routes and kept everyone taking part informed and motivated.
During the event there were five new PBs recorded from Laura Smith (35 mins 40 secs), Natalie Greening (25:12), Sharmila Door (25:24), Penny Lewis (32:27) and Kevin Balchin (26:39). The fastest leg was recorded on the Gotherington to Bishops Cleeve route, although there was a variety of difficulty in the routes so they were not totally comparable.
Everyone who took part put in 100% effort, but the winning team overall was the 23 members of ‘Almost Ran Out of Loo Paper’ who collectively ran a total of 115km. Their times were as follows:
Matt Polson 17 mins 57 secs; Finlay Willicott 21:31; Alison Hume 25:32; Malc Allen 23:06; Thomas Wood 21:50; Mike Line 30:03; Glenda Gill 28:45; Nat Stow 27:33; Neil Tring 22:10; Chris McMahon 22:24; Matt Hickman 19:21; Martin Foster 19:34; Patricia Dendy 21:57; Stacey Osmond 22:35; Rachel O’Bryan 23:05; Kev Fairs 26:00; Kev Dendy 29:05; Jane Russell 27:43; Rachel Farger 25:32; Ross Greening 22:27; Rachel Nolan 36:39; Julie Schofield 24:35; and Emma Hall 23:59.
Apart from the relay, individual Club members managed to devise numerous other ways to encourage themselves to keep going out and running.
One of the most creative postings was from John Bailey who took part in his own inaugural Tredington to Tewkesbury super sprint duathlon, consisting of a 4 mile run followed by an 11 mile cycle ride and finishing with a further 2 mile run. Not only did he come first overall with a time of 1 hr 40 mins, but he was also the first Almost Athlete to complete the event and first in his age category! He asked for a special mention for the organiser who presented him with an awesome trophy for his efforts!
Several Almosts continued to enjoy the street name challenge during the week whilst others took part in the post box challenge that began a few weeks ago. Hamish Adamson and Cheryl Rodham joined in the event whilst Mike Line eventually found all of the boxes in and around Bishops Cleeve.
The fastest leg was Gotherington to BC although all legs did fantastic and with a variety of difficulty in the each legs it’s not particularly comparable.
The winning team however was the Amazing ALMOST RAN OUT OF LOO PAPER
Matt Polson, Finley Willicott, Alison Hume, Malc Allen, Thomas Wood, Mike Line, Glenda Gill, Nat Stow, Neil Tring, Chris McMahon, Matthew Hickman, Martin Foster, Patricia Dendy, Stacey Amber, Rachael Nolan, Rachel Fargher, Rachel O’Bryan, Kev Fairs, Kev Dendy, Jane Russell, Ross Greening, Julie Scourfield and Emma Hall
With 23 legs, the total distance per team was a whopping 115k. The total difference between 1st and 6th place was a mere 64 minutes which over 115 Kilometres is very minimal.
Overall 138 runners took part, that’s 690 Kilometres ran!
And you were all incredible!
For the coming week, Forrest Wheeler has suggested a new challenge of looking for unusual or old lampposts, and began by posting an image of himself with a Dragon and Onion streetlamp from circa 1897.
Saturday 18th April was also the 3rd anniversary of Forrest Wheeler’s first ever parkrun in Pittville Park at which he suffered a cardiac arrest. Thankfully, he has now made a full recovery and was able to run around Pittville Park again on Saturday to reflect upon all the people who have helped him back to fitness. Thanks to all their efforts he has been able to enjoy his family, welcome two new grandchildren to the world, travel extensively and meet individual and collectively inspirational people on a daily basis.
Also on Saturday, Dave Nelson completed a 10 mile run in beautiful sunshine around his home town of Motherwell, Scotland.
On Monday, Katie Coleman should have been in Brighton, running her first ever Marathon to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Although the event was cancelled, she nevertheless donned her Alzheimer’s teeshirt and ran a few miles for her mother and everyone else suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Some Club members have been carrying out their running activities at home. Since receiving his new treadmill, Rob Rennell has run for at least nine consecutive days and clocked up a total of 43km, whilst almost equalling his own PB of sub 35 minutes for a 5km run. Melvyn Harris has been regularly completing 4 mile runs on his treadmill. He has created a new hash tag: #TruelyRewardingExtremelyAthleticallyDemandingMoraleImprovingLockdownLiberating!
Away from actual running events, there have been a number of other challenges that members have been involved in.
Vikki Waring has been returning to fitness by working out in her garden, whilst Dave Chittock has been challenged to nominate ten music albums that influenced him the most. Others have been challenging each other to post on Facebook older photos that boost the positive side of running.
This coming week there are going to be a number of other running challenges for members to participate in.
Mark Stojanov has been encouraging others to take part in the 3.7 mile #finishformatt event. So far he has 33 runners signed up with any donations going to the Captain Tom Moore NHS Justgiving page.
Wednesday 22nd April was planned to be a run and talk night to mark Stress Awareness Month with general chatting and running followed by eating cakes and drinking a beverage.
However, as the coronavirus has put a stop to this, the Club’s mental health champions have hijacked the week commencing Wednesday 22nd April for a MOVE and POST Week. They would like Club members to MOVE as much or as little as they wish, then afterwards to POST a picture that meets any of the following criteria:
5 Ways of Wellbeing: Connect, Give, Keep Learning, Take Notice, or Be Active.
They ask that people post something that has made them smile in their day-to-day life, or whilst they are moving.
Members are invited to share how they have been coping with the new routines and any tips for keeping motivated, whilst ensuring that all Social Distancing Guidelines are adhered to.
Keep safe and keep running everyone.