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With Storm Dennis bringing disruption to running events nationwide, Almost Athletes were relieved to see the third Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country league meeting at Pittville Park go ahead, albeit without the popular stream crossing.

Twenty-five hardy Almost Athletes tackled the race, which was particularly challenging given the very muddy course and windy conditions . Nick Lewis was first Almost to finish the tough 9.3km 3 laps in 43:47, followed by Josh Hand, 44:27, and Gary Farquharson, 48:32. Neil Tring was 3rd MV60 in 50:37. Richard Knightley finished his first event in 52:35, then Pete Hooper, 52:37, Paul Warren, 54:24, David Garnett, 55:11, Steve Wallbridge, 57:05, Jim Trowbridge, 57:47, David Davey, 59:17, Kevin Richards, 1:05:43, Mike Line, 1:07:04, and Bob Spawton, 1:10:00.

Jordan Blackall flew around the 6.4km 2 lap race in 34:27. Hester Coggin was next in 37:45, then Lucy Powell, 38:30, Allan Green, 38:31, Ingrid Harris, 38:33, Hayleigh Woolnough, 41:29, Jane Russell, 43:50, Lorraine Taylor, 44:22, Sue Monaghan, 45:13, Catrin Davies Perkins, 45:35, and Janine Bennett, 52:05.

Further afield, Marty Ward was in action at the wet and windy Castle Combe Chilly 10k, finishing in 1:02.

Over fifty Almosts braved the weather at parkrun events. Ben Stone was pleased to see Cheltenham parkrun take place, and he ran his 50th event in 20:20, finishing 12th overall. Matt Proome was next Almost home in 21:03, followed by Prashanth Sripathi, 21:21. Rosemary Hubbard was the first of the club’s females to finish (24:20), then Sharmila Door (28:25), and Nela Trowbridge (29:18).

At King George V Playing Fields, the club took three of the top five placings. Matt Polson was 2nd (20:22), Nick Lewis third (21:13), and Duncan Mounsor 5th (22:31). Hattie Jenkins ran 24:10 to finish 2nd lady, then Catherine Mason (28:05), and Cheryl Rodham (28:56).

There was tourism for James Clay at Ipswich, David Nelson at Brueton, Mark Wreford-Bush at Long Eaton, and Kate Freeman at Eastville. Mike Kennedy, Megan Davies and Hester Coggin ran at Newent, Andrea Hardy at Isabel Trail and Martyn Fisher at Fulbourn Hospital. Martin Foster was 3rd at Heartlands in 19:43, and Jo Foster finished 5th lady in 23:57.

As with many events over the weekend Storm Ciara had a major impact on the races and runs of the Almost Athletes. Races like the Dursley Dozen were cancelled as organisers rightly wanted to ensure the safety of runners and marshals alike. Despite this, some events did take place, particularly on a very sunny Saturday.

Christopher Benjamin volunteered as the sweeper runner at the Battle of Woodbury Common Night half marathon in Budleigh Salterton. The run was his 73rd half marathon as he looks to complete 100 half marathons.

On a similar quest to complete as many races as he can is Allan Green. This week he completed the Ryton Pools Country Park Big Bear marathon. It was an 8 lapper which he completed in 4:57.

Russell Jones was pleased to have the Avon Valley 10km on Saturday as, despite it being on before Ciara hit, the route was still very wet in places! He completed the event in 1:03:58.

Not put off by a bit of water were Penny Lewis, Steve Phelps and Nicole Hope who completed the Tewkesbury Aquathon on Sunday. A 400m swim was followed by a shortened 4km run in what was a very wet and windy event! Phelps finished in 31:05, Hope in 34:38 and Lewis in 40:33.

With the weather forecast for Sunday being so bad, many Almosts got their runs in on the Saturday which included the usual array of parkruns. At Cheltenham, Jordan Blackall finished as 6th woman overall with a 90 second PB of 23:06. Nick Lewis was third overall at King George V playing field parkrun in Cheltenham with Cat Daly continuing her recent great form by coming in as first lady again. Steve Adams ran 22:38 at Berkeley Green parkrun, a second outside of his PB set 6 years ago. Rob Dalton-Morris completed his 50th parkrun as a VI guide at Gloucester City parkrun, showing his ongoing great support to Rob Rennell.

Almosts completing parkruns weren’t just confined to the UK as Ben Taylor was 4th overall at Central parkrun in Burnaby, Canada. Deb Cartlidge continued her tour of New Zealand completing the Cornwall parkrun (which she assures us is actually in New Zealand!)

Elsewhere Almosts completed the following: Phillip Withers at Kingsway, Rita Crane at Hackney Marshes, Aline Buckley at Coventry, Marc Allen at Torbay Velopark, Martin and Jo Foster at Dudley, Matt Bevan at Eastleigh, Mike Kennedy, Hamish Adamson and Chris McMahon at Gloucester North, Malc Smith at Worcester Pitchcroft, Jane Russell at Raphael, Rich and Bella (aged 4!) Smith at Sandwell Valley, Claire Gallagher at Wotton, Peter Jones at Newent, Haiggy McHaig and Thomas Wood at Tewkesbury, Helen McGuire at Sale Water, Kim Mansell at Exmouth, Katy Sworn at Cirencester, Dave Nelson at University of Stirling.

The Almost Athletes season is really starting to motor along with this weekend seeing a string of great results with runners achieving great things around the world.

Starting close to home, a number of runners tackled the Mayhill Massacre, a hilly 9 miler run near Huntley in Gloucestershire with the opportunity to run on both the Saturday and the Sunday. In the Saturday event the first Almost home was Sarah Roberts in 1:37. She was followed home by Karen Hilton (1:50) and Adrian Courtenay (2:13). A few more athletes took on the Sunday run, achieving two top ten finishers. Ian Williams finished third overall in 1:11 and Shaun Carr was just behind him finishing in 1:19 for 8th overall. Mike Daly also saw success as he finished first in his age category (1:27). Also running were Hester Coggin (1:34), Cat Daly (1:35) and Catherine Mason (1:57).

A little further afield and definitely a little warmer, a group of Almosts travelled over to Torremolinos in Spain to complete the Half Marathon in what is becoming an annual tradition for the club. In tricky conditions runners from the club ran well and were cheered on by a typically awesome Almost Athletes support crew. Some of those who made the trip over included Rachael, Bev Nolan and Oli Nolan, Ceinwen Davies, Matt Proome, Dave and Sam McGrath, Sarah Fennell, Helen and Steve Yarnold and Oli Bell.

Penny Lewis proved to be on scorching form over the weekend, setting two personal bests over 5km. On the Saturday she completed the Weymouth parkrun in a pb of 33:05 only to then lower that mark on the Sunday with a 32:54 at the Cardiff Warmer 5km.

The person always travelling about and seeking new events (new marathons at least) is Allan Green. This week he found the Rejected Run Home Run Marathon, an out and back trail along Thames Egham which he completed in 5:29.

Almost Athletes travelled the country and beyond to parkruns on Saturday this week. Club runners achieved a rare double at the King George V Playing Field parkrun in Cheltenham. Matt Polson was the first finisher and Cat Daly was the first female in a course PB time. Elsewhere, Prash Kumar Sripathi was the first Almost home at Cheltenham whilst Ben Stone, Mike Bryce, Chris McMahon, Dave and Iris Mayo travelled over to complete Mallard Pike parkrun.

In other parkruns, Almosts completed the following: Lou Tring at Heaton Park, Bill Jones at Lydiard parkrun, Nick Lewis, Jo and Martin Foster at Arrow Valley, Haiggy McHaig at Gloucester North, John Wallis at Wycombe Rye, Dave Nelson at Chippenham, Rita Crane at Stewart park, Robert Foord at Upton Court, Peter Jones at Newent, Matt Bevan and Liz Garner at Evesham, Mark Stojanov at Tewkesbury, Hannah Richards at Bideford, Martyn Fisher at Castle Park, Claire Hawes at Exmouth, Kev Dendy at Marlborough Common, Virginia Pawlyn, Lisa King and James Clay at Cromhall, Norm Lever at Tawd Valley, Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor at Startford Park, Piotr Michalski, Malc Smith and Thomas Wood at Berkeley Green and Deb Cartlidge at Whangarei in New Zealand to complete the global spread of runs this week!

Fifty-five Almost Athletes flocked to the fast and flat Staverton 10, the second fixture in this year’s Gloucestershire Road Race Series. The competitive event produced some impressive individual performances. Josh Hand was first home for the club in 1:02:06, closely followed by Martin Foster, 1:02:44, and Matt Barnes, 1.03.10. Amy Sheer ran her first Staverton 10 in 1:12:38, finishing 6th lady and 2nd LV35. Laura Tring ran a 1:15:04 PB and was 2nd Senior Lady. Patricia Dendy was close behind in 1:15:26. There were also age category placings for Neil Tring, 1:13:17 PB and 2nd MV60, and Sheila Chatterley, 1:33:14, 2nd LV65.

There were also PBs for Matthew Hickman (1:04:52), Ben Stone (1:06:10) and Peter Mitchener (1:13:31). Piotr Michalski took five minutes off his previous best (1:15:22), while Richard Knightley knocked over six minutes off his (1:17:57). Lorraine Taylor’s comeback from injury continued, and her time of 1:33:33 was a massive eleven minute improvement on last month’s race at Gloucester. Running their first Staverton 10 were Alan Mullen (1:19:56), Karen Gomm (1:21:30), Hannah Brown (1:37:15), Nat Stow (1:37:18) and Nicole Hope (1:37:32).

Elsewhere, Allan Green ran King of the Castle Marathon in 4:48 and Karla Cleverley was in action at Farnborough Half Marathon (3.03). Christopher Benjamin self-navigated through the Devon Countryside at the Blackdown Beast. Ashley Stevens travelled to Spain and was rewarded with a 1.34 PB at the Seville Half Marathon.

At Cheltenham parkrun, Ben Taylor was first Almost to finish (19:43), followed by Prash Sripathi (20:34) and Kieran Keating (22:52). Rosemary Hubbard ran 23:34, Jeanette Gullick 24:10, and Fi Barnes 27:24. Paul Haig and Alison Hume were then club’s top male and female at King George V Playing Field (24:15 and 28:46 respectively). Duncan Mounsor gained a 20:53 course PB at Gloucester City, and there was also a PB for Peter Blakeman at Gloucester North (21:55).

Vasco Barreto and Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto ran at Fire Service College, while Mike and Victoria Kennedy ran at Newent. There was tourism for Debbie Elliott, Hayley Woolnough, Iris Mayo and Dave Mayo at Brueton. Danny Carroll was at Parke, Neil and Laura Tring at Oldham and Martyn Fisher at Millennium Country. Thomas Wood, Robert Dalton-Morris and Piotr Michalski travelled to Oaklands, Dave Nelson went to Arrow Valley, and Rich Smith was at Eastville. Further afield, Deb Cartlidge ran at Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Ben Stone clocked his fastest of 2020 at Kingston (19:20), while Martin and Jo Foster were at Lydney, where Jo finished 3rd lady in 23:04.

It was a bitterly cold but busy weekend for members of Almost Athletes, starting on Friday evening with the Gloucestershire County Road Race Series Awards for 2019.

Club members received awards in many of the individual and team categories, with the ladies doing particularly well. Amy Sheer was 3rd in the Ladies Open and 2nd in the LV40 group; Natalie Stow was 2nd in LV35; Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto was 3rd in LV40; Lorraine Taylor was 2nd in LV50; Ingrid Harris was 3rd in LV55 and Sue Monaghan 3rd in LV60.

Both the Ladies Open Team and the Ladies Veterans Team categories were also won by Almost Athletes, consisting of Helena Youde, Stacey Amber, Hattie Jenkins, Catherine Daly, Ellie Laney-Bolton, Katie Colman, Anne-Marie Willicott, Jeanette Gullick, Ceri Schofield, Deb Cartlidge, Louise Inchley, Sophie Longley and Patricia Dendy.

For the men, Neil Tring was 1st in the MV60 category; Allen Green equal 2nd in MV65 and David Lawrence was 2nd in MV70.

At a very icy Pittville Park parkrun on Saturday, Martin Foster came in as 9th out of a field of 634 runners with a time of 19:15. Ashley Stevens achieved yet another PB with his finish of 20:37.

There were also two milestone runners at Pittville Park with Wan Hartley completing her 100th parkrun and Mark Wreford-Bush achieving his 250th.

The King George V parkrun in Cheltenham saw Matt Polson finish as 13th in 23:08, and Hamish Adamson as 16th in 23:49. Nicola Woodman completed her first parkrun there in 35:14.

There were some good results at other parkruns on Saturday as well. Danny Carroll was 7th at Mallards Pike with a time of 20:53, Ben Stone was 8th at Gloucester City with 19:31 and Mike Kennedy was 9th at Gloucester North with 21:34. Hester Coggin was 2nd lady to complete at Newent with 24:44.

Other parkruns in which Almosts took part include Airlie Beach, Australia; Heaton; Hove Promenade; Kingsway Gloucester; Milford Waterfront; Rogiet; Upton Court; Stratford Park, Stroud; Valentines, Ilford and Wimpole Estate.

Sunday 19th January marked the start of the Almost Athletes Road Race Series for 2020 with the Linda Franks Five Mile event. There was a terrific turnout of club members, both taking part and in organising and volunteering for the race.

First Almost to cross the line in 12th place was Josh Hand with 29:19, followed by Matt Barnes in 15th place with 29:45 and Matt Hickman in 18th position with a time of 30:11. Matt Barnes’ time of 29:45 gave him a new Five Mile Club MV45 record, and was also a PB. Matt Hickman’s time of 30:11 was another new PB.

Amy Sheer was first female Almost and 7th lady overall to finish the race with a time of 33:36, followed by Katie Coleman with 34:21 and Patricia Dendy with 34:52.

There were a number of other new PBs for club members, including the following: Ben Stone with 31mins 03secs, Phillip Jukes with 31:31, Duncan Mounsour with 33:30, Pete Mitchener with 33:33, Piotr Michalski with 33:50, Richard Knightley with 37:07 and Jane Russell with 43:38.

The Linda Franks race was not the only event to have Almost Athletes participants on Sunday. Five members took part in the Doynton Hard Half Marathon in the Cotswolds. Shaun Carr was first to complete in 1:59, followed by Mike Daly in 2:08, Dave Elliott in 2:56, and Dave Chittock and Catherine Mason both with 3:08.

The Gloucester Half and full Marathon also took place on Sunday 19th. In the Half, Pauline Bargus was first in the FV65 category with a time of 1:58. Also running were John Bailey with 1:53, Karen Galpin with 1:55, Liz Francis with 2:06, Megan Watkins with 2:09 and Julie Birt with 2:10.

In the full Marathon, Ingrid Harris finished as 2nd in the V55 age category with a time of 3:46. Ian Coggin came home in 3:44 and Mark Willicott in 3:49.

Slightly further afield, Karla Cleverley ran 17 miles in the Zeus and the Thunderbolt event at Walton on Thames, and Jackie Slaughter completed the Tough Runner Epic 10km in Falkirk, Scotland in 1:11.

As the club readies itself for the annual Linda Franks 5 miler on Sunday 19th January, club runners have started the year with a wide variety of training as they prepare for all manner of spring events including spring marathons. The club has been lucky enough to be chosen to take part in the England Athletics Club Run scheme where runners and coaches have benefited from the expertise of Bryan Clinton who has travelled up to Cheltenham from the Swindon Harriers. Alongside lots of hard training going on, a wide variety of running events were also enjoyed this week.

Vicky Kennedy, Mike Bryce, Catrin Davies Perkins, Lorraine Taylor and Julie Averiss all completed the RogueRuns' Night Run at Beechenhurst Lodge in the Forest of Dean. Averiss continued her great form by completing the torch lit event in 1:25.

In a relatively short event for her, Ingrid Harris also completed an event in the dark, travelling down to Bath to complete the off-road Skyline 10km. She finished as 2nd female V50 and rewarded herself afterwards by staying in a youth hostel!

No race report would be complete without the antics of Allan Green. This week he finished the Bettehanger Park Marathon in Kent. It was 6 lap route but thankfully it was in daylight and he finished in 5:26.

Many of the club were out and about parkrunning this weekend. An honourable mention should go to Mark Conway who completed his 50th parkrun in just 54 weeks. In local events Mike Bryce was 5th at Gloucester North, Rosemary Hubbard was 4th female at Cheltenham, Patricia Dendy was first female at Gloucester City parkrun with Dunc Mounsor and Josh Rimmell running PBs in the same event and Matt Polson was 2nd at the King George V playing fields parkrun in Cheltenham.

Alongside runners supporting the Cheltenham and Gloucester parkruns, runners from the club also travelled around the country:
David Nelson in Cardiff, Lou Tring at Heaton, Robert Foord at Black Park, Ben Taylor at Kingsway, Piotr Michalski and Thomas Wood at Arrow Valley, Rita Crane at Woodley, Mark Conway at Sheffield Caste, Malc Smith at Evesham, Neil Tring at Dartford Heath, Claire Hawes at Exmouth (finishing first in her age category), Steve Adams at Tetbury Goods Shed, Oliver Bell at Seven Fields and Matt Bevan at Chipping Norton School.

Travelling a little further afield, Debs Cartlidge completed the Wanaka parkrun in New Zealand.

Finally, the club are running Give it a Go in January. We’d encourage anyone thinking of taking part in our weekly club runs to come along and give it a go on Wednesday 22nd January. We’ll be meeting in the Bath Road car park at 1:45 and be organising social runs and walks of 4 or 5 miles.