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We are always looking for news, results and race stories for our weekly Echo report. Please tell us about your experiences, results, personal best times achieved, worst nightmare races etc by emailing almostathletes@hotmail.com - if you don't tell us about it, we can't report it!. We can't guarantee that all information supplied will go in as the Echo have full editorial control, but we will do our best.

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Throughout the week members of Almost Athletes continued to pack in the runs and to undertake various challenges to help keep themselves motivated.

Although it began last week the post box challenge started by Kev Fairs remained a firm favourite. Many members participated including Dave Nelson, Michelle Balchin, Lisa King, Alan Mullen, Jane Russell, Felicity Broom, Claire Hawes, Matt Proome, Alison and Rob Hume, Nat Stow, Mark Stojanov and Mike Line. Ceri Schofield took on the challenge on Sunday and managed to bag at massive total of twelve post boxes in one run!

Alongside the main post box challenge, a number of Almosts were inspired to seek out the seven Penfolds which are scattered throughout Cheltenham. Dating back to 1866, these are Grade 2 listed and were designed by the surveyor and architect John Wornham Penfold. Their hexagonal shape with a cast iron top is decorated with acanthus leaves and buds which make them strikingly different from later post boxes. There are believed to be less than twenty remaining in the country but Cheltenham still has the largest collection of them. Amongst those seeking out the Penfolds were Helen Fursman Reid, Lisa King, Sue Monaghan, Kevin Dryburgh, and Jason Hulance.

The new challenge for the week of 30th March is to take selfies with different road signs, again suggested by Kev Fairs. Those already taking part include Steve Taylor, Lisa King, and Forrest Wheeler whose encounter with a 30 mile speed sign suggested he was running a lot faster than his Garmin suggested.

James Clay would have been Race Director at Saturday’s Pittville Park parkrun so invited club members to complete at 5km run wearing their milestone teeshirts. Several Almosts took on this challenge, including Ross Greening who wore his 100 parkrun top and completed the distance in 22 mins 37 secs, whilst Club Chair Claire Hawes ran her 5km at home. Alison and Rob Hume did theirs as part of a multi-tasking run taking in a post box and delivering some much needed toilet paper to another club member!

Also on Saturday Ian Coggin completed a half marathon before breakfast, while Ivana Wilson ran 5.5 miles up to Nottingham Hill and along the bottom of a deserted Cleeve Hill.

Some Almosts were self-isolating during the week but kept running whilst staying at home. Sarah Carr managed 92 laps of her garden which amounted to a 5km run, and both Richard Knightley and Mark Wreford-Bush also ran 5km round their respective gardens. John Galpin added a new twist to his home run by completing a 5km dressed as Spider-Man.

Other club members created their own challenges to help focus whilst running alone. Penny Lewis should have been competing in the Cardiff Bay 10km at the weekend, but ran the same distance in Cheltenham in 1hr 12mins. Natalie Jayne was thrilled to complete 3.5 miles with no walk breaks whilst recovering from tendonitis in one of her deep hip flexors. Louise Inchley ran 10 miles around Leckhampton and was pleased to see other Almosts out on solo runs. Matt Proome and Michael Grant undertook several runs during the week, as did Ashley Stevens who completed a 5 miler on Saturday in 35mins 40secs.

Possibly the most creative run this week was completed by Robert Dalton-Morris who spent 13 minutes of hill work in one of his runs to spell out the club name in Pittville Park.

The Almost Athletes run reporters were also out and about during the past seven days. Stevie Hawkins (Lynne) clocked up a total of 20 miles over her three runs during the week. Ben Stone managed to run six days out of seven and his seven mile run on Saturday was finished in 50 mins 13 secs. Catrin Davies Perkins undertook a ‘not the Junior parkrun’ with her two daughters and bagged a post box as well.

Keep safe and keep running everyone.

With races, events and club runs all cancelled in response to the spread of COVID-19, Almost Athletes turned their attention to running ‘together’ alone.

Many club members ran a solo 5K ‘not parkrun’. Dave Nelson ran the inaugural ‘Meteor notparkrun’ from Churchdown to Gloucestershire Airport, finishing first overall while also volunteering as tailwalker! Hamish Adamson went on a reflective run in the rain to site of King George V playing Fields parkrun.

Ashley Stevens ran a 5k PB of 20.23, edging closer to his target of a sub 20 minutes, and also took on the toilet paper keepie uppie challenge.

Club members found some creative ways of giving their running some focus. Lisa King, Claire Hawes, Kev Fairs, Mike Line and Mark Stojanov went in search of postboxes.

Adrian Courtenay reached St James' Park in the Hadrian's Wall 90 mile virtual challenge. Sue Monaghan ran ‘not the pendock spring chicken run’, while others turned to creating GPS art. Helen Fursman created a rabbit with her 13 mile trail run, while Jason Hulance ran 8km in the shape of a leg and also created an impressive 7km angel keeping watch over Battledown.

The weekly Club pub2pub run became a 5 mile virtual 'notpub2pub run'. Sixteen club members ran from various locations, including Sue Monaghan, Hannah Brown and Nat Stow. Jeanette Gullick and Peter Mitchener both did a 'Wednesday night not club run' without groups to lead.

Some took selfies in club kit to motivate each other. Vicky Earls worked out in purple, Karen Gomm did yoga, Penny Lewis ran 5k, Andrew Wilkinson ran in the Forest of Dean and Melvyn Harris hopped on the treadmill.

Other Almosts challenged themselves with running in search of sought after supplies. Helena Youde and Ingrid Harris ran for toilet paper, Rob Cleaver ran for paracetamol, and Kev Fairs ran 5 miles to deliver supplies to a self isolating colleague.

Mariel Chretien went on a 9.5 mile mystery tour to Devil's Chimney and spotted Catherine Mason. Jackie Slaughter ran 11 miles around Bishops Cleeve and Woodmancote, spotting Sheila 'Zippy' Chatterley on her travels. Michelle Balchin ran to Pittville Park and was sad to spot a lot of people still gathering there! Olga Goffin enjoyed a 4.8 mile run in the sunshine and had a 'lucky' encounter with a bird.

Daniel Magovern ran 7 miles, and there were two runs for Mark Stojanov. Jess Hull headed for the countryside as she ran up Bredon Hill. The thought of running solo did not stop Kerry Knowles, who completed her first 5k since giving birth.

Almost Athletes were also pleased to donate £1000 from race proceeds to Maggies Centre, and also made donations to Gloucestershire Young Carers, and to Old Patesians RFC who are fundraising towards a new defibrillator.

 

The weekend saw a number of Almost Athletes take on the challenge of some long distance road running with the Berkeley 20:20 Fission (Saturday) and the Gloucester 20 (Sunday) events happening.

At Berkeley, 19 Almosts took on the two lap 20 mile circuit and Ben Stone was first to finish in a PB time of 2:27:06. He was followed home by Pete Mitchener who took 7 minutes of his previous best with a 2:38:18 and Matt Proome in 2:43:52. Miranda Foster led the way for the women and secured an impressive new PB of 2:44:06. Completing the top 3 were Michelle Balchin in 2:51:43 and Fi Barnes in 2:56:22.

There were plenty of other strong performances over the 20 mile distance with Neil Tring coming 2nd in his category, and at the same time taking 4 minutes of his previous best, with a 2:44:04 finish. Richard Knightley (2:48:10) and Sue Monaghan (3:47:22) also set new PBs, as did Chris McMahon, who completed his longest ever run in 3:20:04.

In the 20k race, Jeanette Gullick was the first Almost over the line in 1:39:13, a result that saw her come second in the FV50 category. Catherine Daly was next in 1:45:57 and Lorraine Taylor third in 1:58:28.

Also celebrating PBs over 20k were Iris Mayo (3 mins quicker in 2:22:55) and Marty Ward in 2:19:17.

At Gloucester, Olga Goffin was the first Almost home in an excellent time of 2:28:42, which was enough to give her a category first place. Ingrid Harris was the second Almost lady in 2:49:06 (also topping her category) and a day after completing the 20k at Berkeley, Catherine Daly was third in 2:53:26.

For the men, Duncan Monsour led the way and continued his excellent form securing a 20 mile PB in 2:38:39. Michael Daly was next, claiming second in his category with a 2:49:58 run and distance specialist Allan Green followed in 3:10:10.

As ever, the club was well represented at Parkruns far and wide with Matt Polson leading the way locally, finishing first at the King George V Playing fields event in 19:10. Nick Lewis also achieved a similar feat, albeit some 234 miles away – he came first at the Land’s End Parkrun in a rapid 18:59. Even further away, Kara Cleverley completed the Pegasus Parkrun in Canterbury, New Zealand in 40:45, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenic two-lap course. Kara then followed it up with a Sunday 10k, running Christchurch’s Spencer Park event in 1.35.

Back to Parkruns in the UK and flying the purple flag were Steven Adams (Bournemouth 23:36), Helen McGuire (Wythenshawe 29:47), Rita Crane (Dinton Pastures 35:23) and Danny Carroll (Seven Fields 26:13). Almost Athletes were also well represented at the Cheltenham, Kingsway, Gloucester North, Gloucester City, Stratford Park, Mallards Pike and Chipping Norton School events.

The weekend also saw Almost Athlete representation in the Aspire 5 mile winter series in Bristol where Debs Lacey came 1st in the VF50 category for the Out and Back race and Russell Jones finished the 50:50 course in 49 minutes.

Away from the roads, Malc Allen completed the Wolverhampton Trail Half and celebrated first in his category with an outstanding 2:08 to make it a busy weekend for Almost Athletes, worldwide!

At the King George V parkrun on Saturday 7th March, Matt Polson finished in first position with his time of 19:27, followed by Nick Lewis in 3rd with 21:15, and Duncan Mounsor in 6th place with 21:56. Mounsor was also first in his age category, whilst Rich Smith achieved a new PB of 27:02. Steve Adams joined the elite 250th parkrun group by completing today’s event, in which there were 79 runners overall.

The Pittville Park parkrun saw Ben Taylor achieve a new PB and finish 7th overall with a time of 19:23. A total of 589 runners took part in the event with several members of Almost Athletes acting as pacers.

In the Gloucester City parkrun, Virginia Pawlyn was first in her age category and in Brockenhurst Kimberley Mansell was 5th lady with a time of 24:03.

Club members also took part in the following parkruns: Berkeley Green, Cannon Hill Birmingham, Exmouth, Gloucester Kingsway, Heaton, Lydiard, Northampton, Ross-on-Wye, Seaton, Seven Fields, Warwick Racecourse and Winchester.

Further afield, Steve Wallbridge took part in the 20km multi-terrain and hilly ‘Trail des Collines’ at Conde sur Noireau in Normandy, France. Not only was he introduced to the mayor as the only British runner in the event, but was rewarded with a free beer when he finished in a very respectable 2:14. A true Norman conquest!

Both Allan Green and Karla Cleverley took part in marathons on Saturday 7th, albeit at opposite ends of the world. Green ran the Groundhog marathon which consisted of 106 laps of Telford Athletics running track in 4:37, whilst Cleverley participated in the Kirikiriroa Marathon in Hamilton, New Zealand. Unfortunately she was unable to complete what would have been her second marathon due to illness.

On Sunday 8th March Glenda and Ian Gill hosted club members to another of their ‘Forest Frolic’ events in the Forest of Dean. The run consisted of either one nine mile lap of the family cycle route or two laps of eighteen miles, followed by bacon butties, soup, cake and refreshments. More than £250 was raised in aid of Winston’s Wish charity.

Four members of Almost Athletes took part in Sunday’s Cambridge Half Marathon with Rosemary Hubbard and Francis Bull both crossing the line in 1:49, followed by Jayne Cheslin in 1:53 and Andrew Wilkinson in 1:56.

Congratulations are due to Ingrid Harris who took part in the tough and muddy Larmer Tree Marathon near Salisbury on Sunday, and once again came first in her age category and 5th lady overall with a time of 4:36.

Miranda Foster tackled the daunting Grizzly at Seaton which consists of 3,000 feet of ascent over its 20m length. She completed what she described as ‘the hardest event I have ever done’ in 3:36.

Alan Mullen ran the Draycote Water 20 mile race and despite injury in the second half of the race managed to finish in 3:11.

At a very wet and muddy Pittville Park parkrun on Saturday, Matt Proome was first Almost home with a time of 21:13, followed by Matt Polson in 21:20 and Pete Mitchener in 21:40. Despite the weather, a total of 459 runners took part in the event. The King George V parkrun was cancelled due to a waterlogged course.

Over in Gloucester City parkrun Duncan Mansour achieved a new PB of 20:51 and was first in his age category.

There was a lot of parkrun tourism this weekend with Almosts participating in all of the following: Ashton Court, Bristol; Aylesbury; Berkeley Green, Cannon Hill, Birmingham; Chippenham; Dudley; Dunfermline; Gloucester Kingsway; Grangemoor; Heaton; Isabel Trail, Stafford; Newent; Seven Fields, Swindon; Stratford Park, Stroud and Wotton.

Further afield, Claire Hawes ran in the Florence, Italy parkrun and was first in her age category, whilst Kate Plummer was second lady in parkrun des Dougnes, Cubnezais, France. Deb Cartlidge took part in the Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia parkrun.

On Sunday 1st March, members of Almost Athletes took part in a number of different events. Mark Wreford-Bush achieved a new PB in the Warwick Half with a finish time of 1:42, and Ashley Stevens completed the Vitality Big Half in London in 1:38.

Dave Nelson and Ju Averiss ran in the Bath Two Tunnels 10km event and finished in 1:05 and 1:11 respectively.

Allan Green ran the Oulton Park Marathon in Little Budworth in 4:56, whilst Mark Stojanov completed the Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon in 1:27.

Seven Almosts took park in the Newport Half Marathon with Prash Sripathi the first home in 1:34. Ivana Wilson achieved a new PB with 1:49. Kev Fairs finished in 1:57, Frances Ferguson in 2:20, Rachel Cross in 2:29, Mark Pelling in 2:35 and Christopher Benjamin helped a first-timer to finish in 2:52.

On Friday 28th February, Tony Heap was the only Almost to enjoy good weather when he competed with 2,500 others in the 10km Dubai Canal Run.

This week saw Allan Green complete his 600th Marathon. He gets a mention every week and it’s almost expected that he’ll complete at least one marathon every seven days. However, completing one marathon is hard enough, 600 equates to running one marathon every week for 11.5 years. This week Allan completed the 100 Club marathon in Walton on Thames, a windy 8 lapper in a time of 5:16. You’d have thought that would be cause for a rest, but we know Allan will be in next week’s Almost run report with another marathon to add to this total.

Not to be outdone, Ingrid Harris and Mark Willicott also ran the same marathon with impressive results. Ingrid finished as first female in 4:05. Mark was first Almost home in 4:03, good enough for 23rd overall.

The main event for the club this weekend was the always hugely popular Bourton 10km. A very scenic and fast route makes it a regular fixture for the club. First home for the club was Martin Foster in 37:38 followed by Nick Lewis in 38:31 and Prashanth Sripathi in 41:09. For the women, Cat Daly continued her impressive form finishing in 47:09. She was followed in be Helen Fursman in 48:51 and Jess Hull in 53:29.

As is the way with the Bourton race, a large number of athletes achieved personal bests. Many congratulations to: Julie Averiss in 1:10, Penny Lewis in 69:05, Richard Knightley in 45:43, Josh Rimmell 48:47 and Chris McMahon in 49:12 (The last two were ably assisted by pacing from Pete Mitchener.
Over the longer half marathon distance, Josh Hand braved the wind to complete the Wokingham half. As we’ve come to expect from Josh, he put in a strong performance to finish in a very rapid 1:22.

In parkrun this week, runners from the cub enjoyed a successful weekend with several high placings in a variety of parkruns. Starting with those overseas, Ben Taylor continued his recent good form by finishing third at Central parkrun, Burnaby in Canada. Also racking up a range of impressive parkruns overseas is Deb Cartlidge, who this week ran at Willoughby parkrun in Australia.

A little closer to home Matt Polson finished 2nd at Cirencester parkrun, Hester Coggin was third female at Kingsway, the same result that Jo Foster achieved at Berkeley Green. Finally, Patricia Dendy was 4th female at Gloucester City parkrun.

Along with the usual large numbers of Almosts at Cheltenham and Gloucester City, runners from the club also completed the following:
Lou Tring at York, Malc Allen at Bury St Edmunds, Robert Foord at Upton Court, Mike and Vicky Kennedy at Newent, Adam Smith at Newark, Nick Goddard at Colby, James Clay at Lowerstoft, Mike Bryce at Crosby, Rich Smith at Wendover Woods, Matt Bevan at Mountbatten School and Dave Chittock at Land’s End.