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Members of almost athletes were out in force this weekend, making a splash of purple against the changing autumnal colours, and achieving some fantastic running results.

An unseasonably warm Saturday saw members of Almost Athletes take part in various parkruns both near and far. Mike Bryce travelled to the Forest of Dean parkrun and completed the challenging course to finish 1st in age group, and 6th overall. Closer to home at Cheltenham parkrun, Graeme Stopp completed his 100th parkrun, and achieved a PB of 23:06. A fantastic way to celebrate your 100th parkrun! Mark Stojanov continued with his great running form at Tewkesbury parkrun, achieving his fastest parkrun time of the year. Janine Bennett travelled to Crosby parkrun and ran amongst the 100 iron statues. Representatives from Almost Athletes could also be found at King George V parkrun, Isabel trail parkrun near Stafford, and Thornbury parkrun to name a few!

Sunday saw a return to the normal October weather but this did not put off a strong contingent of runners from competing at the ABP Newport Wales Marathon. First across the finish line for Almost Athletes was Alison Hume, in a time of 03:58:37, to finish 10th in category. Mark Willicott was next in 04:11:47 and then Allan Green in 04:51:14. Debbie Masding and Sarah Wallbridge completed the marathon together, and finished strong in a time of 05:19:21 and 05:19:20 respectively. In the 10k event, Thomas Wood completed the race in a time of 48:24, and Rob Hume in 48:56.

Down in Eastbourne, John Jameson took part in the Beachy Head Marathon. John chose a gruelling trail marathon, ran in the South Down National Park for his first marathon, and completed it in a fantastic time of 04:03:47; well done John!

Almost Athletes were also in action, both running and supporting, at the 39th edition of the Stroud half marathon. Dubbed one of the UK’s longest established half marathons, Stroud provided a fantastic setting for some PB’s and amazing running performances. First across the line for Almost Athletes was Matt Proome in a time of 01:32:51, shortly followed by Dale Midwinter in 01:36:51 and Duncan Mounsor in 01:38:49. Olga Goffin finished in 01:41:24 and was 12th female overall. Continuing with her fantastic running form, Hannah Brown achieved a huge PB of 02:00:47, shaving over 5 minutes off her half marathon time. Corinne Cooper also finished strongly, and achieved a PB of 02:31:43. Also taking part at Stroud were Mike Kennedy (01:40:45), Isabella Ravenhill (01:46:32), John Bailey (01:52:13), Ivana Wilson (01:52:24), Edward Munro (01:52:38), Sophie Longley (01:55:00), Joe Harrison (01:55:33), Victoria Kennedy (02:00:05), Lorraine Taylor (02:09:12), Chaweewan Hartley (02:11:47), Nicole Hope (02:19:11), Steve Yarnold (02:55:41) and Helen Yarnold (02:55:47).

Heading up North saw Janine Bennett take part in the Liverpool Rock and Roll half marathon. An event with a difference, with lots of live music to keep the runners entertained. Janine completed the event strongly, and enjoyed seeing the sights of Liverpool.

There closes another busy weekend for the Almost Athletes!


Almost Athletes took full advantage of the unseasonably appealing weather this weekend, with runners heading to events all over the country. Down in Portsmouth at the Great South Run, Kev Fairs was the first club member home in 1:32:30, followed by Joshua Rimell in 1:34:21. Elspeth Haile finished the 10 miles in 1:36:30, Claire Hawes in 1:43:49, Iris Mayo in 1:52:02 (a PB time by over 14 minutes), Jack Helliar in 1:56:52, and Oliver Nolan and Rachel Nolan both in a time of 2:08:07.


Saturday morning saw a strong set of milestones and PBs for club members at Parkruns near and far. Pete Mitchener celebrated his 200th Parkrun with a time of 22:59 in Cheltenham, while Neil Tring racked up his 50th different location with a 21:55 at Chipping Norton School Parkrun, which also made him 1st place finisher in his age category. Joining Neil in Chipping Norton was Mike Bryce, whose time of 20:56 also earned him a 1st place category finish, and third place overall.

At King George V Playing Field, Ingrid Harris sprung back from a lengthy injury lay-off to finish not just first place in her category, but as second female finisher overall in a time of 25:57. Steve Yarnold ran the course for the first time in 28:09, while Hamish Anderson was the first Almost home in 21:08.


Elsewhere Robert Foord earnt a big PB of 19:41 at Cardiff Parkrun, breaking the 20 minute barrier for the first time. Corinne Cooper also achieved a PB of 30:45 at Gloucester City, Dave Nelson bagged a ‘post-Covid PB’ of 32:15 while visiting the Oaklands Parkrun, and Felicity Read managed a new best of 27:37 at Pittville Park.

Not content with one PB in a weekend, Felicity went on to complete an impressive double-header with a half marathon PB time of 2:00:42 at the Weston Super Half. She was joined by Coralie Pearson who completed the course in 1:58:22, and Rob Rennell in 2:36:34.


Almost Athletes were also in action at the Oxford Half Marathon, where Steve Phelps earned a new PB of 1:43:28. He was followed by Susan Dryburgh in 1:44:10 and Kim Lewington in 2:07:57. Slightly further from home, Graeme Stopp and Forest Wheeler completed the Leaf Kicker Half Marathon in Winona Lake, Indiana.


Seeking out an escape from the pavement, a group of Almost Athletes travelled to take part in the Brecon Beacons Trail Running Challenge where they pitted themselves against formidable elevation and technically challenging routes. The half marathon was tackled by Pete Blakeman, Steve Wallbridge, Rob Hume, Richard Bennett, Dave McGrath, Steve Taylor, Tony Heap, Des Beer and Bob Spawton. In the 10k, Alison Hume was the first club member to finish, followed by Sarah Wallbridge, Sheila Chatterley, Ceinwen Davies and Sam McGrath.

At Cleevewold, Almost Athletes scooped up the team prize, with Nick Lewis and Josh Hand coming in second and third place overall in times of 1:48:23 and 1:49:08 respectively. Matthew Hampton finished the 14 mile course in 2:26:10, and Edward Munroe in 2:30:29.

Finally, the club was well represented at the Hope Valley Run in Herefordshire. Neil Tring led the Almost Athletes with a time of 1:10:58, followed by Dave Garnett in 1:22:02 and Lorraine Taylor in 1:26:53. Glenda Gill finished the course in 1:34:19, Mariel Chretien in 1:34:30, and Philip Jeyes in 1:34:50.

There was a steady stream of Almosts heading up the M6 to Manchester this weekend as members of the club took on the Manchester Marathon or Half Marathon. In the full marathon, Michael Johnstone was first Almost home, in 2:54.07 - not just a PB but a new club record in his age category!

Kieran Keating was the next Almost to cross the finish line in 3:31.16, followed by Steve Axford (3:39.22), Rosemary Hubbard (3:46.19), Paul Warren (3:47.38) Chloe Farrar (4:00.25) Liza Habgood (4:00.53) Francis Bull (4:07.58) Julie Scourfield (4:29.08) and (Sweetchilli) Wan Hartley (4:51.02)

Manchester also held a Two Leg Relay marathon and the team of Almost Athletes Allstars (Steve Taylor and Steve Phelps) came a very commendable fifth in 3:34.

For the Half Marathon, Marty Ward and Ben Stone both turned in excellent results just a week after running the virtual VLM marathon, with Ben finishing in 1:28.55 and Marty in 1:59.12.

Almosts haven’t just headed north this weekend. In the West Country Julianne completed the Atlantic Coast Challenge of three marathons in three days along the South West Coast Path in Cornwall, while in Devon Mike Bryce took on the challenging Exe to Axe also along the SWCP.

In Wales Chris Benjamin edged ever closer to his 100th Half Marathon by running his 95th Half, the Top Gear Trail in Tredegar.

Looking east, Prash Sripathi and Lee Ormerod ran in the Silverstone Half and Lee came home in a new PB of 1:38.

Five members travelled to Alcester for the 10k: Matthew Hickman crossed the line in a new PB of 38:06, with Jason Hulance (53:55), Dave Mayo (54:03) Joshua Rimmell (55:58) and Iris Mayo (1:07.53) completing the Almosts results.

There seems to be no stopping Cos Pearson, who took part in the Malvern Hills Trail Half Marathon on Saturday followed by the Eastnor Mud Run on Sunday. Jack Helliar also ‘enjoyed’ the mud fest that was Eastnor!

Despite still feeling achy after her exploits in the Loch Ness Marathon last weekend Rachael Nolan took part in the Gloucester 10k Race for Life, accompanied by her father Ollie Nolan.

As always now parkrun is back with us, a sizeable proportion of the membership enjoyed a 5k run in a park on Saturday morning. Dave Nelson visited Amager Strandpark parkrun in Copenhagen, and twenty five other parkruns had a visit from at least one Almost. In Cheltenham Corinne Cooper achieved a PB of 31:33, and in Victoria Dock Neil Tring won his age category with a time of 21:33. At Gloucester City Claire Hawes gained a course PB and was first in her age category at 30:22.

Finally to complete another busy weekend for the club, Shaun Carr competed in the Cotswold Duathlon at Sudeley Castle.

 

A big weekend for running was matched by some big performances from the various members of Almost Athletes, who represented the club brilliantly across the length and breadth of the country.

The main event was the 41st edition of the London Marathon, returning to the streets and crowds of the nation’s capital after last year’s virtual-only edition. 26 Almosts ran the main marathon, with some incredible performances, not least from Virginia Pawlyn who not only came first in her age category in a time of 5:11:44, but beat 10 of 11 of the male runners in that age bracket, and finished only a matter of seconds behind the male winner! An amazing athlete who continues to inspire us all.

There were also standout performances from Ela Antosiewicz who smashed her PB by a whopping 57 minutes, finishing in 4:04:22; and Steve Axford with an incredible 13 minute PB, crossing the line in 3:27:03. Claire Gallagher also recorded a PB in 5:13:17, while Peter Morris ran a fantastic first “proper” marathon in 4:00:01 (he has run an ultra before!).

Also representing the club on a fantastic day in London were Josh Hand, leading the club home in a fantastic time of 2:57:18; Matt Barnes (3:00:47); Amy Sheer (3:33:29); Kim Mansell (3:44:41); Miranda Foster (3:48:10); Amy Broomhall (4:03:11); Ivana Wilson (4:10:43); John Bailey (4:11:22); Karen Galpin (4:12:04); Michelle Balchin (4:12:22); Nikki White (4:15:25); Fiona Barnes (4:20:08); Alan Mullen (4:31:52); Sarah Wallbridge (4:41:53); Hayley Woolnough (4:55:31); Donna Evans (4:58:41); Helena Nilsson (5:05:15); Catrin Davies Perkins (5:13:34); Elspeth Haile (5:25:57); and Jayne Adams (5:31:36). Sympathies from all at the club go to Jeanette Gullick who bravely attempted the course despite suffering from a bad virus all week, but ultimately had to pull out after 18 miles. The good news is she is absolutely fine. It was also great to see a healthy contingent of purple cheering the runners on from the sidelines.

A virtual event was held at the same time as the main marathon, and the club were well represented in that as well, in various locations around Gloucestershire and beyond. There were PBs for Ben Stone (3:25:00), Marty Ward (4:33:10), Dave Mayo (5:28:20) and Iris Mayo (5:43:51); while Claire Hawes completed her first ever marathon in 5:45:45. Also finishing were Richard Knightley (3:47:02), Anne Casey (4:23:59), Prash Sripathi (4:50:34), and Janine Bennett (6:01:55).

London was by no means the only marathon in the country at the weekend, and Almosts also carried the flag at three other events. In the north of Scotland, Matt Proome (3:38:31), Ceinwein Davies (5:33:07), Sarah Fennell (6:16:27) and Rachael Nolan (6:44:24) all successfully avoided Nessie to complete the cold and wet Loch Ness Marathon; and on the Welsh border at Chester Sam Wizard completed his first marathon in 4:19:45, Coralie Pearson earned a huge PB in 4:23:31 and Gareth Wilkes (4:46:28) joined them in finishing the race. Marathon man Allan Green finished his 645th 26.2 event at the Windsor Trail marathon in 4:54.

For some people a marathon just isn’t long enough, and that was the case for Dave Johnson who finished the “beautifully brutal” North Coast 110km ultra in 24:03:24.

Zakia Hussain and Jason Hulance completed the Pretty Muddy 5k, run in support and in memory of family and friends who have suffered from cancer. They completed it with a friend, Emma Silsby, who herself is in remission from breast cancer. Fantastic to see.

There was also a significant purple presence more locally at the Berkeley 10k. Dunc Mounsor led the club home with a new PB in 42:53, closely followed by Dale Midwinter in 43:38 and Mike Kennedy in 43:48. Other Almosts completing the race were Neil Tring (45:44); Chris McMahon (49:51); Alison Hume (52:44); Kim Lewington (55:34); Lorraine Taylor (56:24) and Lynne Macedo (1:10:02).

At parkrun, Mike Johnson was first finisher at King George Playing Field in 20:02, and there was a PB for Graeme Stopp at Cheltenham in 24:11. The club were also represented at a further 19 events - Kingsway; Bedford; Cannon Hill, Birmingham; South Norwood; Gloucester North; Worcester Pitchcroft; Chester; Burgess; Crichton; Tewkesbury; Melksham; Gloucester City; Witney; Isabel Trail; Stratford Park, Stroud; Mallards Pike; Clevedon Salthouse Fields; Woodgate Valley Country Park; and, on the 17th birthday of parkrun, at the event where it began, Bushy Park in London, where Dave Nelson met the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewit. 

Away from running, Simon Morgan and Helen McGuire completed a 5k swim at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham. Simon finished in 1:48, and Helen in 2:10 in cold conditions in the pool.

A weekend to remember for all involved. Congratulations to everyone.

Long distance specialist Mark Newton conquered George Fisher’s Tea Round at the weekend. This event was launched in 2017 by a former staff member and comprises a self-navigated 30-miler starting and finishing at the shop and taking in over 12,000 feet of ascent and the ten summits visible from the café window at George Fisher, Keswick. The peaks can be tackled in any order, clockwise or anticlockwise. Mark crushed the challenge in 13:04:31.

Paul Warren flew the flag for Almost Athletes at the Berlin marathon, breezing around the course – which is one of the six World Marathon Majors – on an increasingly warm day in 3:38:42.

Almosts also participated in various half marathons over the weekend, the largest contingent turning out for the picturesque Forest of Dean autumn half marathon. Germain Forgeoux made light work of the 13.1 trail run, finishing in 1:39:20. Other finishers were: Mike Kennedy (1:54:34); Richard Knightley (1:54:35); Steve Wallbridge (2:00:41); Vicky Kennedy (2:10:42); Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring (2:18:57); Sarah Carr (2:49:36) and Forrest Wheeler (2:50:11).

David Chittock was the club’s sole representative at the Hanley Economic Potters ‘Arf half marathon in Stoke-on-Trent, timing his effort perfectly for a 1:59:47 finish. Similarly solo, Wan Hartley completed the Great Manchester Run half marathon in 2:10:01 and Graham Philpott an emotional Ealing half marathon in 2:31:20. Continuing her carefully managed recovery from an injury-ravaged year, Ingrid Harris completed the White Star Running virtual Jurassic Coast half marathon, walking from Hatherley to Witcombe Villa and back along the Cotswold Way for a 3:06 finish.

Almosts turned out en masse for the popular Apperley Quarter Marathon, an event which seems to get better with the passing years. It’s a huge community effort and this year the organisers attracted a field of over 300 runners, who were amply rewarded for their efforts on a warm morning with handmade medals and plenty of homemade cake, fruit and geraniums. There was a 6.5-minute course PB for Cos Pearson (55:30, 2nd in category). Bob Spawton set himself the challenge of completing the course in 1:05:00. Not only did his watch stop precisely at this time, so did his official chip time!

Other Apperley Quarter Marathon results: Nick Lewis (42:05 for 9th overall and 1st in category); Nathan Newton (45:40); Duncan Mounsor (46:56, 2nd in category); Rob Hume (52:12, 2nd in category); Graeme Stopp (52:19); Ian Coggin (52:56); Craig Jackson (53:28); Hester Coggin (54:32, 1st in category); Lesley Cottle (55:13, 2nd in category); Alison Hume (56:49, 3rd in category); Des Beer (58:26, 1st in category); Sam Wizard (58:54); Tony Heap (59:08); Ela Antosiewicz (59:57); Jason Hulance (1:00:33); Mike Line (1:01:21); Kate Nichol (1:02:23); Donna Evans (1:03:01); Natalie Wizard (1:04:07); Rhodri Sutton (1:04:54); Gary Brewer (1:06:32); Sue Monaghan (1:07:16); Clare Bone (1:08:11); Janine Bennett (1:09:06); Nicole Hope (1:09:45); Jane Russell (1:11:35); Kerry Knowles (1:11:45); Ollie Nolan (1:13:29); Dave Nelson (1:18:54); Jackie Slaughter and Mark Stojanov (1:28:48).

At the Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10k, Iris Mayo put the finishing touches to her virtual London marathon training, earning a new personal best for the distance (1:05:08). Other finishers were Dave Mayo (55:46); Josh Rimell (56:32); Kerry White (1:15:12) and, unleashing her trademark finishing sprint, Penny Lewis (1:20:13).

Further afield Helen and Steve Yarnold participated in the La Santa 10k over a hot and sandy course with a welcome finish on a new running track.

At Cheltenham parkrun Lewis Jones celebrated his 200th parkrun with a new PB of 20:43.

As the club moves from summer into autumn results continue to come thick and fast, with Almosts in action in all distances from 10k to ultra marathons this weekend. John Skelton completed the Cotswold Running Cotswold Way Century, running the entire length of the Cotswold Way in a superb time of 25:51:09.

Ian Coggin and Cos Pearson took on the Badminton Trail 50k, finishing in 5:14:12 and 5:55:23 respectively. It’s testament to how much Cos’ running has improved this year that she completed the 50k ultra faster than she has run some of her marathons.

Also at Badminton a handful of Almosts took on the trail half marathon, which turned out to be 2.5k over distance and unexpectedly lumpy. First home for the club was Ela Antosiewicz in 2:21:07. She was followed by new member Sarah Argyrou (2:39:06); Anthony Storr (2:52:52); Deb Cartlidge (2:59:58) and Karla Cleverley (4:05:42).

Sarah and Steve Wallbridge and Debbie Masding continued their focussed training for next month’s London and Newport marathons, completing the Rhayader Round the Lakes 30k on the roads of the beautiful Elan Valley. Steve crossed the line in 3:06:55 with Sarah and Debbie coming home together in 3:36:10 and 3:36:13.

Two local events ran half marathon and 10k options over the weekend. The stand out performance at the Dymock half marathon was Kieran Keating, whose 1:36:15 on an undulating course was good enough for first MV60. Next in – and recording the same chip time of 1:53:18 – were Richard Knightley and Mike Daly. Ed Munro (1:56:49) and Francis Bull (1:58:52), busy finalising his preparations for Manchester marathon, also recorded sub two finishes. The club’s sole lady representative over the half marathon distance, Lorraine Taylor, completed with Neil Tring in 2:11:05, followed home by Mike Line (2:29:59) and Bob Spawton (2:35:07). In the Dymock 10k Kim Lewington recorded 58:44 and Kerry White 1:16:50.

Further south a trio of Almosts completed the Bristol half marathon. First home for the club in 1:28:38 was Ben Taylor. Kevin Dryburgh was next in 1:45:35 and, completing his 94th half marathon in 2:03:22, was Christopher Benjamin. In the Bristol 10k Jamie Courtenay recorded a 49:12 finish, with Paul Jones not far behind (51:49). Kate Freeman came home comfortably under the hour in 58:03, with Adrian Courtenay completing the club’s contingent in 1:08:27.

Kathy and Paul Haig took on the How Hard Can It Be Events Yabba Dabba Do half marathon, in the Chasewater nature park and watersports centre in Burntwood, coming in together in 2:54:11.

There was a large contingent of Almosts at the Angels 10k, the fifth race in the Gloucestershire AAAs road race series and a county championship race with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs in the various age categories. In the event there were rich pickings for many members, with Ela Antosiewicz, Craig Jackson, Iris Mayo, Peter Morris, Lee Ormerod, Ali Shaikh, Lorraine Taylor and Olivia Wiles all picking up awards. The following chip times were recorded: Peter Morris (44:53); Lee Ormerod (45:06); Neil Tring (46:45); Ali Shaikh (49:11); Craig Jackson (PB - 49:33); Allan Green (52:00); Olivia Wiles (52:39); Ela Antosiewicz (PB - 53:07); Cos Pearson (1:00:03 just one day after the Badminton 50k!); Lorraine Taylor (1:00:52); Josh Rimell (1:02:47); Phil Jeyes (1:03:08); Ollie Nolan (1:09:05); Iris Mayo (1:09:08) and Dave Nelson, on the comeback trail from illness, in 1:12:43.

A trio of Almosts took on the Wright Hassall Regency 10k in Royal Leamington Spa. First home was Mark Wreford-Bush in 44:10, followed by Steve Yarnold in 59:24 and Helen Yarnold in 1:19:18.

Robert Foord scored a PB at Aberbeeg parkrun (20:04) and it surely cannot be much longer before he breaches the twenty-minute barrier. At King George V Playing Field parkrun Kev Dendy recorded his 400th parkrun. Almost Athletes also hosted a takeover at KGVPF by way of a farewell to Run Director and longstanding member Claire Gallagher, who is moving away from Cheltenham.

Hannah Brown had to contend with being swum under and over yet she battled through to complete the two-mile Swim Serpentine event in 1:16:00 to bag the final medal in the London Classics Challenge, having previously run the Virgin Money London Marathon and biked the Prudential Ride 100.

In non-running news, the club recently held its AGM at the Civil Service Club. Stepping down from the committee after several years’ invaluable service were Claire Hawes and Phil Jeyes (although Phil will thankfully be maintaining his role as the club’s Race Director). Both were presented with leaving gifts as a token of the club’s sincere appreciation for their efforts. Vicky Earls was elected to the committee. Fiona Barnes was presented with the Doug Waymark trophy by Doug’s partner Lola Lewis in recognition of her volunteer contribution to the club and Virginia Pawlyn was presented with the Rich Walklate trophy by new Chair Peter Mitchener in recognition of both her stellar running achievements and her volunteer contribution to the club. The minutes and accounts for year ending 31 March 2021 can be found on the website (‘About Us ‘ then ‘Committee’ tab).