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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.

Almost Athletes kicked off 2020 at parkruns across the county, with over 50 club members completing two New Year’s Day events. Ian Williams was first Almost home in 20:34 at King George V Playing Fields, followed by Martin Foster, 20:53 and Dave McGrath, 21:30. Catherine Daly was top Almost lady in 24:57, then Jo Foster, 25:05, and Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto, 26:02.

At Cheltenham, Nick Lewis finished in 20:18, while Martin Foster bettered his earlier time with 20.25. Matthew Hickman ran 20.40 and Williams finished in 21.09. Daly, Wisniewska-Barreto and Jo Foster were again the club’s top females with respective times of 24.34, 26.29 and 26.57.

Robert Foord, Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor chose Gloucester City for their second event, finishing in 22:12, 22:34, and 29:21 respectively. Chris McMahon ran 24:42 after completing Stonehouse, while Nicole Hope and Patricia Dendy ran the event having earlier completing Lydney.

The Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country Championships were held at Rendcombe College. An impressive performance by Ingrid Harris saw her cross the line in 34.41 to win the FV55 category. Josh Hand finished the men’s course in 41:00, with Martin Foster next in 41:49, then Gary Farquharson, 46:55. Shaun Carr finished in 47:45, narrowly ahead of Duncan Mounsor (47:49). Danny Carroll completed the men’s team and finished in 51:01.

Mark Stojanov and Dylan Peters ran off road at the New Years Dirt Run, Croome Park. Stojanov completed the 5k course in 40:47, while Peters ran the 10k in 1:05.

The New Year meant another marathon for Allan Green, this time at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. He ran the 14 lap race in 4.36.

This year the Almost Athletes New Year Club Run was held along the trails of the Cotswold Way. Starting at Painswick, runners completed the 13 miles to Cheltenham, with others joining in along the way to run 9 and 5 miles options.

There was more parkrun action for the club with the first Saturday events of the year. Matt Polson was 1st (19:57) at King George V Playing Fields. Mike Bryce was 3rd (21:54) and Catherine Daly was 2nd lady (24:56). Prashanth Sripathi finished Cheltenham in 20:27, and Kim Mansell was 2nd lady at Mallards Pike (22:40). Ben Taylor ran Kingsway in 19:16, followed by Ben Stone (19:33), Danny Carroll (22:06) and Chris McMahon with a PB (23:00). Rob Rennell and Andrea Hardy travelled to Cirencester, and Dave Nelson was at Chipping Sodbury, and Rich Smith at Evesham.

There was tourism for Rita Crane at Dinton Pastures, Adam Smith at Newark, and Ed Brandley at Brueton. Lou Tring was at Heaton, Matthew Bevan at Marlborough Common, Hattie Jenkins at Worthing and Nicole Hope at Woolacombe Dunes. Glenda Gill, Claire Gallagher and Lisa King ran at Cromhall parkrun. Deb Cartlidge was in New Zealand at Queenstown, and Nick Lewis was 3rd at Mount Edgcumbe (20:58).

There was little time for rest during the holiday period for members of Almost Athletes with an additional parkrun on Christmas Day as well as other races at the weekend.

Pittville Park’s 25th December parkrun had a huge turnout of nearly 700 runners. Ian Williams was first Almost to cross the line in 20:03 which was also a new PB. Martin Foster followed in 20:35 and Kieran Keating in 21:44. In addition there were new PBs for Karen Hilton with 26:21 and Torie Clarke with 31:27.

Piotr Michalski completed his 100th parkrun at this event, as well as his 25th as a volunteer.

Matt Polson travelled to Bedford for a Christmas Day parkrun, and achieved his 2nd ever fastest result with a time of 18:20.

There were 531 runners at the 28th December Pittville Park parkrun and some further excellent results for Almosts. Matt Hickman was the fastest club member with a time of 20:02, followed by Pete Mitchener in 21:23 and Kieran Keating with 21:26. Jeanette Gullick was first female Almost to finish in 24:04. Both Tim Brock and Sharmila Door achieved new PBs with 22:38 and 27:23 respectively.

The Cheltenham King George V parkrun also saw some noteworthy results for the club. Tom Seaton was third overall with his finish time of 19:36 and Iris Mayo was first in her age category. There were new PBs for Michelle Balchin with 25:48, Dave Mayo with 26:20, Deb Cartlidge with 27:18, Jeff Tibbles with 29:46 and Dave Nelson with 31:54.

Almosts did well in a number of other parkruns around the country. Martin Foster came 6th with 18:42 and Ben Stone 11th in 19:36 at the Gloucester City event. Kimberley Mansell was 2nd lady at Gloucester Kingsway with 23:39. Matt Polson was 7th at Braunstone with 19:03 and Mike Kennedy came 11th at Newent in 23:25. Helen McGuire achieved a new PB at Alexandra Park Moss Side parkrun with a time of 27:53.

Club members also ran in the following parkruns: Black Park Slough; Blandford; Brueton Park Solihull; Chichester; Clevedon Salthouse Field; Coventry; East Park Hull; Exmouth; Mallards Pike: Milford Waterfront; St Marys Bridport; Stratford Park Stroud; York and Weymouth.

Away from parkrun there were a number of other events that had Almost Athletes as participants.

On Saturday 28th Allan Green completed the Phoenix End of the Year marathon at Walton on Thames in a time of 5:06.

Jamie Courtenay, Sarah Roberts and Adrian Courtenay all tackled the Seven Sins race in the Forest of Dean, which also took place on Saturday. This involves a run of seven very muddy miles and seven hills. Their finish times were 1:22, 1:23 and 1:59 respectively.

On Sunday, Ingrid Harris and Lesley Cottle both tacked the Immortal Sinner event in the Forest of Dean – fourteen muddy miles and fourteen hills. Harris was second lady to finish in 2:47 and Cottle came home in 3:19.

Seven Almosts took part in the Gloucester Ten mile race on Sunday 29th. First to cross the line was Ashley Stevens in 1:13, closely followed by Piotr Michalski in 1:14, and Steve Phelps and Mike Kennedy both with 1:15. Victoria Kennedy came home in 1:30, and Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring both finished in 1:44.

It was a very quiet week for the Almost Athletes given it was the last weekend before Christmas, resulting in a limited number of events to run in. However, as you’d expect, runners from the club found a variety of parkruns and marathons to complete.

In Cheltenham, the club ‘took over’ the King George V playing field parkrun filling the volunteer roster and turning up en-masse in purple and Christmas fancy dress. A total of 24 Almost volunteers helped put the event on and a further 24 ran the event itself. Tom Seaton was the first finisher for the club, finishing third overall. Cat Daly and Kim Mansell followed closely behind finishing as 2nd and 3rd females respectively. As always, the wonderful Saracens rugby club supported the event putting on mulled wine and mince pies for everyone to enjoy post-run.

In longer distance events, Allan Green doesn’t rest for Christmas. He found two marathons to run over the week, one significantly less muddy than the other. On Wednesday he completed the Enigma Christmas Cracker Marathon in 4:47. He followed this up at the weekend by doing the Escot Christmas Marathon in 6:18. Not to be outdone, Ingrid Harris ventured to Portsmouth to complete the Coastal Marathon. Despite carrying an injury and all the mud and water, Ingrid finished in 4 hours, good enough to be 4th in her category. Also of note this week is Pauline Bargus who completed her own long distance challenge. She finished her 1000 mile challenge for the year.

In other parkruns this week, Neil Tring finished 3rd at Tetbury. As always, the club had a number of runners complete both Cheltenham and Gloucester City parkruns. The club also had runners complete the following: Michelle Balchin at Kingsway, Rita Crane at Stewart, Mike Bryce at Pontypridd, Rich Smith at Cassiobury, Malc Smith at Stratford Park and Martin and Jo Foster ran Warwick Racecourse.

We wish all our members a very happy Christmas and the very best running in 2020!

Almost Athletes were in action at Christmas races across the country, with the wet weather turning many events into festive mud runs. Ian Williams stormed through the mud to finish Rudolph’s Rampage 7km in a time of 33:24 to take 2nd place overall. Mike Daly finished in 40:33, then Ingrid Harris 49:00, Mark Pelling 1:03 and Naomi Daly 1:25. There were also challenging conditions at Evesham Festive 10k. Shaun Carr was first Almost to finish in 48:19, followed by Sue Monaghan (1:16) and Dave Nelson (1:20). At Westonbirt House Christmas 10k, Steve Phelps was first home for the club in 46:08 followed by Josh Rimell (52:21), Dave Mayo (53:58), Lynne Macedo (1:04), Iris Mayo (1:08), Penny Lewis (1:10) and Jayne Murphy (1:10). Zakia Hussain and Jason Hulance took part in the Tough Runner 5k Christmas Party Run, Swansea, and Ashley Stevens ran the Christmas Victoria Park 10k in 43:15.

A group travelled to Old Down Country Park to compete in the second event of the Gloucestershire Cross Country League. For the men, Martin Foster finished in 46:56. Gary Farquharson was next in 53:25, then Duncan Mounsor 45:41, Ali Shaikh 55:55 and David Garnett 1:01. Ingrid Harris ran the ladies race and finished in 39:54.

Allan Green clocked up another marathon at the Newark Showground Marathon, finishing in 4:52. Paul Haig and Christopher Benjamin travelled to Ilford to take part in the Sikhs in the City Dawn to Dusk Run, where participants set off at dawn and claim medals for the distance completed. The event saw Haig reach the impressive 100th marathon milestone, and he actually went on to run 50k at the event.

At Cheltenham parkrun, Prash Sripathi was first Almost to finish in 20:08, and Jeanette Gullick was 3rd lady in 23:00. Matt Polson was 2nd overall at King George V Playing Fields (20:01), Ross Greening was 6th (24:00), Catherine Daly 2nd lady (25:15), and Deb Cartlidge 3rd lady (27:28). Lesley Cottle was 2nd lady at Gloucester North (26:17), and Ben Stone was 6th overall at Gloucester City (19:40).

There was tourism for James Clay at Oxford, Helena Youde at Bath Skyline, Karen Hilton at Burgess and Dave Nelson at Wyre Forest. Martyn Fisher ran at Fletcher Moss, Malc Smith at Tetbury Goods Shed, and Danny Carroll was 7th overall at Woolacombe Dunes in 25:17.