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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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Five Mile Festive Frolic GroupFive Mile Festive Frolic Group

As Christmas draws ever closer, Almost Athletes were out in force on Sunday for the brand new ‘Festive Frolic’ club run. Members of the club ran either 5 miles or 11 miles across the beautiful Stroud countryside all in aid of WellChild, raising a remarkable £250 for the charity. WellChild is a charity that makes it possible for children and young people with complex health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital. The club’s contribution will help fund a local WellChild nurse as well as providing wider support and help for families and young people affected by serious illness. This seasonal iteration of the ever popular ‘Forest Frolic’ runs looks set to be an enduring favourite in the club’s social event calendar. 

Before the Mallards Pike 5 mile raceBefore the Mallards Pike 5 mile race

Earlier in the week, and in much gloomier weather, many runners donned their head torches to brave the dark and wet conditions of the first Mallards Pike Night Time 5 miler. Dave McGrath stormed home as the first Almost Athlete on the night simultaneously taking first place in the V55 category with a time of 43:07. Shaun Carr followed soon behind with a time of 44:10. Thanks to an incredible effort by all the club runners who attended, Almost Athletes took 3rd place in the team event.

Dave McGrath - Mallards Pike 1st Almost Athlete and 1st Mens V55 Dave McGrath - Mallards Pike 1st Almost Athlete and 1st Mens V55

Elsewhere Coralie Pearson finished the 22.5 mile Worcester Winter Ring Run in 4 hours and 40 seconds, taking an incredible 37 minutes off of her time from the spring event held earlier this year - smashing yet another PB and continuing to show that she is on top form at present. 

As the Gloucestershire AAA County Road Race series drew to an end last week, team and individual standings were confirmed. A total of 3 Almost Athlete teams placed 2nd - in the Ladies Open, Ladies Veteran and Mens Veterans categories. In addition to this, many members will take home a trophy in January at the awards evening. Duncan Mounsor and Peter Morris (Vet 50 and Vet 60 respectively) join Lorraine Taylor (Ladies Vet 50) to take 1st in their categories, with Ivana Wilson taking 3rd place in the Ladies Vet 35 and Mary Welsh coming second in the Ladies Vet 75 category. 

For many no Saturday is complete without parkrun and this weekend was no exception; with over 70 members turning up at 9am to a park somewhere! Notable mentions go to Nick Lewis who came home first at King George V Playing Field, where he was joined by 15 other club members. Many more attended Cheltenham with Felicity Read taking an amazing minute off of her previous personal best on the course. As it was pacer week, Peter Mitchener, Shaun Carr and Graeme Stopp stepped up to help their fellow runners smash their goals. 

 

Almost Athletes did not let Storm Arwen deter them from another busy weekend of racing. Whilst the storm brought arctic conditions, snow and wind gusts of up to 100mph in some areas, members of the club braved the conditions to achieve some fantastic running results.

With the storm in full force on Saturday, many parkruns up and down the country were cancelled. A few parkruns went ahead, and members of the club could be found at Cheltenham, King George V Playing Field Cheltenham, and Gloucester City to name a few. Cheltenham parkrun had an NHS volunteer takeover, meaning all the volunteer parkrun roles were manned by people who work within the NHS. It goes without saying, a huge thank you to all members of the NHS for their tireless work throughout the last 18 months, and a special mention to those volunteers who braved the stormy conditions so parkrun could go ahead!

Sunday saw a brief let up in the weather, although the wintery conditions were still out in full force. Allan Green continued with his amazing marathon effort by taking part in Oulton Park racing circuit marathon. Allan completed 10 snowy laps in a fantastic time of 04:55:00. Slightly closer to home, the Howling Bull Run is a 6 mile, mainly off-road running event with 750ft of elevation. Dave McGrath competed in the Canicross division of the event, and finished in a fantastic 2nd place. Craig Bullingham and Lizzie Renn put in super performances in difficult running conditions.

A large contingent of Almost Athletes took part in the Croome Capability Canter. The multi-terrain race is 6.5 miles around the scenic Croome Park. Sue Pearce was the first Almost Athlete across the line, in a fantastic time of 47:47 which earned her a prize, closely followed by Neil Tring (49:41) and David Garnett (56:36). Also taking part in the event were Sheila Chatterley (01:02:59), Kim Lewington (01:03:44), Mariel Chretien (01:07:51), Joshua Rimell (01:08:00), Pinky Shetty (01:11:14), Iris Mayo (01:14:47), Coralie Pearson (01:16:40) and Mark Stojanov (01:20:41).

This completes another busy weekend of racing for the Almost Athletes!

 

The days might be getting shorter, the nights longer, and the temperatures lower; but that hasn’t stopped the intrepid Almost Athletes getting out and about and doing what they do best – running! 

Almosts at Newent9Almosts at Newent 9

Lesley Cottle at Newent 9Lesley Cottle at Newent 9

This past weekend saw some great performances from club members. On Sunday, there was the Mandy Whittington Newent 9k, which saw Lesley Cottle have the standout performance, winning the LV60 category in a time of 48:31. There were also fantastic course PBs set by Mike Bryce, improving by over a minute to finish in 40:23 and lead the club home; Patricia Dendy, taking 2 minutes off her previous best in 40:32 and finishing second in her age category; and Coralie Pearson, smashing her previous best by 7 minutes, finishing in 51:26. Also completing the race were Rob Hume (47:04), Alison Hume (50:03), Des Beer (52:15), Dave Mayo (52:36), Jane Russell (54:08), Charmaine Brunt (54:35), Mike Line (56:12), Sue Monaghan (58:12), and Iris Mayo (1:04:20).

Almosts at Roly's RunAlmosts at Roly's Run


Elsewhere, a small band of Almosts headed south to Hampshire to complete Roly’s Run, a hilly trail run held in memory of former club member Rich Walklate, who sadly passed away in 2018 aged only 33. Rich was an inspirational runner, completing some incredibly tough challenges including multiple Iron Man triathlons, and the event is a great tribute to him, offering three potential routes (15 miles, 20 miles, and 40 miles) over some very challenging – and hilly! - terrain. A huge well done to Kev Fairs, who was delighted with his time over the 20 mile distance; and to Claire Hawes and Natalie Greening for completing the 15 mile course. Unfortunately Lorraine Taylor injured her ankle during the run, resulting in her and Neil Tring being unable to finish. Happily there is no break, just a bad sprain, but all of the club wish her a quick recovery. In addition, as usual, Alan Green was off completing a marathon, this time finishing the 26.2 miles at Lee Valley Water Centre in Waltham Cross, finishing in 5 hrs 11 mins.

Stratford Park parkrunAlmosts at Stratford Park parkrun

 
There was also the usual array of achievements at parkrun on Saturday morning. At Cheltenham, Ingrid Harris continued her return from injury by finishing first in her age category in 25:37; while Kim Lewington emulated that achievement at Gloucester City in 27:10, as did Dave McGrath at Stratford Park Stroud in 21:56 (also earning the highest age grade at the event), Nicole Hope (28:23 – PB) and Rachel O’Bryan at King George V (23:14), and Kieran Keating, also at Cheltenham in a new PB of 23:16. There were also new PBs for Richard Knightley at Cheltenham (21:44), Paul Thomas at Mallards Pike (22:25), and Cottia Howard (39:18) at KGV. All told, Almosts were represented at 23 different parkrun events. 


Dave was one of 6 Almosts who made the trip to Stroud, along with Hamish Adamson, Rob Hume, Alison Hume, Cheryl Rodham and Jeff Tibbles. A special shout-out to Rich Smith’s 5 year old daughter Bella as well, who scored a new PB at Cheltenham by around 6 minutes, finishing in 41:44 – a future Almost for sure! 


In other club news, Duncan Monsour was pleasantly surprised to win the MV50 category in the Gloucestershire AAA Road Race Series for 2021. Also winning their categories in the Series were Peter Morris in the MV60 category, and Lorraine Taylor in FV50; while Ivana Wilson finished third in FV35, and Mary Welsh finished second in FV75. Congratulations to all! 


At the social club run on Wednesday night, a special presentation was made to four club members who have achieved the notable distinction of being crowned Kings and Queens of the Cotswolds. This is recognition awarded to those who have completed all 10 stages of the Cotswold Way Relay race held every summer, meaning they have all run approximately 103 miles, covering the entire distance from Chipping Campden to Bath! Congratulations go to Steve Adams, Des Beer, Dave Davey and Rich Gilbert; and we hope they wear their new crowns with pride.


Finally, club chairman Peter Mitchener presented the Sunflowers charity with a donation of £1,000 from the club. Sunflowers is a small local charity which offers comfort and bereavement support to families following the suicide of a loved one, and the donation will help them continue to deliver their support services across the county. The donation was made in memory of a much-loved club member Anne-Marie Willicott following a proposal from Karen Galpin, Anne-Marie’s sister; and was gratefully received by Abbie Warren from the charity.

 

It was a slightly quieter racing weekend for Almosts this week but even so there was plenty of activity going on!

On Saturday Christopher Benjamin ran the Avon Valley Railway 11k along the Bitton Railway Path, and clocked up 1:04.20 for this unusual distance.

In the ever popular Sodbury Slog - lots of mud guaranteed! - Philip Jeyes and Cos Pearson flew the purple flag, finishing in 2:12:26 and 2:28:03 respectively.

Further afield Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring successfully tackled the Draycote Water 10 mile race. Neil came first in his MV60 category with a storming 1:17:30 while Lorraine achieved 4th place in the FV50 category, finishing in 1:32:49.

 

Karla and Allan at Phoenix Remembrance run.jpgKarla and Allan at the Phoenix Remembrance Day run

The marathon machine that is Allan Green ran the Phoenix Remembrance Day Marathon in Walton on Thames in 5:16:19 while Karla Cleverley ran the Phoenix Remembrance Day Half finishing in 3:20:14. These events are described as ‘a 2 minute silence with an entire marathon & half marathon event built around it.’ and at 11am on Remembrance Sunday, at the sound of a horn, all runners stop to observe the two minute silence. A spine tingling moment to be part of.

It might have been a relatively quiet week for long distance races but Almosts were parkrunning far and wide, at home and abroad! Rebecca Waugh ran the Bois de Boulogne parkrun in Paris while in the UK Dave Nelson was our most Northerly parkrunner at Tollcross, Glasgow and Issy Ravenhill and Claire Hawes ‘enjoyed’ the pebbles at Seaton in the South West.

There were course PBs for Jason Hulance at Cheltenham parkrun, Jeff Tibbles continued his excellent streak of course PB’s with a third in a row at KGV, where Steve Yarnold also achieved a PB. A total of 104 Almosts ran in parkruns including Banbury, Lydiard, York, Gloucester North, Wycombe Rye, Evesham, Tewkesbury, Gloucester City, Witney, Jersey Farm, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Peel and Sharpham Road Playing Fields.

 

Guy Fawkes 5 in Tewkesbury - November 2021

58 Almosts at Guy Fawkes 5 in Tewkesbury

 

Almost Athletes took advantage of favourable Autumn conditions to record a number of personal bests across the weekend. The largest showing of runners – many of whom were racing for the first time in many months - was at the perennially popular Guy Fawkes 5 in Tewkesbury, the final race in the Gloucestershire AAAs 2021 road race series.

First home and second in category in a time of 30:27 was Matt Hickman, followed by Steve Axford (32:38) and Peter Morris (33:35, 3rd in category). Together with new member Sue Pearce (34:58, 3rd in category) and Katie Coleman (also 34:58) the group secured a strong second place in the team competition. Katie was also first in her age category, as was LV75+ Mary Welsh (55:57).

Flaying chunks off their previous five-mile PBs were Mark Wreford-Bush (35:19); Richard Knightley (35:22); Craig Jackson (37:52); Ela Antosiewicz (40:27); Cos Pearson (41:28); Hannah Brown (42:13) and Helen Yarnold (57:01). Dave Nelson was delighted to deliver an improved performance (53:03) after being hospitalised with Covid twice in the Spring, as was Helen Pardoe (44:04) whose family had been laid low by the virus.

Other results: Matt Proome (32:58); Lee Ormerod (33:44); Mike Bryce (33:48); Duncan Mounsor (34:36); Mike Kennedy (35:02); Neil Tring (36:15); Steve Phelps (36:22); Ali Shaikh (37:47); Ed Munro (38:23); Rob Hume (38:24); Cat Daly (39:12); Ivana Wilson (39:13); Alison Hume (41:04); Steve Yarnold (41:10); Dawn Carroll (41:34); Melissa Jonga (42:15); Josh Rimell (42:35); David Woolnough (42:37); Hayley Woolnough (42:38); Mark Lyes (42:39); Jason Hulance (43:01); Kev Fairs (43:52); Lorraine Taylor (43:56); Barry Irvine (43:58); Pauline Bargus (44:14, 3rd in category); Suzy Rodger (44:22); Kim Lewington (44:41); Sheila Chatterley (45:04); Wan Hartley (45:17); Sally McKinlay (46:07); Donna Evans (46:34); Nicole Hope (46:57); Claire Hawes (48:45); Karen Hilton (49:15); Wendy Haskins (49:15); Glenda Gill (49:38); Phil Jeyes (52:11); Corinne Cooper (53:00); Ollie Nolan (53:25); Kerry Knowles (53:50); Iris Mayo (54:08); Jackie Slaughter (57:00) and Rachael Nolan (58:45).

Further afield a healthy contingent of Almosts took on the fabled 26.2 in various locations. Marathon specialist Allan Green clocked up his 650th at the November Nightmare marathon (5:24) on Tuesday and his 651st at the Exeter Live Better marathon along the footpaths and cycle tracks of the River Exe and Exeter canal just five days later (5:30).

Closer to home Josh Hand recorded a stunning third place finish at the Cotswold Running Broadway marathon, clocking an impressive 3:48:36 over what is, by any measure, an exceptionally challenging route. Club coach Fi Barnes led by example, completing her sixth marathon or ultra in as many months, crossing the line with Helen Fursman in 5:33:19 with Mark Willicott barely a whisker behind in 5:33:20 just two weeks after his efforts at Newport marathon. In the hilly half marathon option off-road specialist Natalie Greening completed in 2:52:33 closely followed by Catrin Davies Perkins in 2:54:40 and new member Francesca Hill in 3:04:02.

At the fast and flat Reading marathon Mike Johnstone took inspiration from the name of the new race sponsors Unleashed Performance and annihilated the club’s age group record which he had held jointly since the Cheltenham half marathon in early September, finishing in a pacey 1:18:50. Henrietta Marsh-Smith recorded a similarly strong 1:39:49 and Felicity Read was thrilled to chalk up her first sub-two, finishing in 1:59:16.

Christopher Benjamin was frustrated in his attempt to clock up half marathon number 95 at the Wyre Wizard trail half marathon in Kidderminster, a late course change reducing the official distance by 0.4 miles meaning the 2:11:03 performance cannot be included in his mission to complete one hundred half marathons.

Kathy and Paul Haig were in Buckinghamshire for the Marlow 7, another hilly event which they completed together in 1:27:34.

Saturday saw the usual healthy contingent of Almosts participate in parkruns home and abroad, volunteering, running or, in the case of Club Chair Peter Mitchener and Ivana Wilson, donning official pacer vests and helping other runners to PBs. There were notable placings for Ben Taylor (first finisher at Mundy parkrun, 20:14) and Patricia Dendy (first lady at Kingsway, 20:50). Chris McMahon moved a step closer to his 50th parkrun, recording 25:28 at Gloucester North. There were outright parkrun PBs for Ela Antosiewicz at Cheltenham (26:28) and Jeff Tibbles at Evesham (27:52).

An honourable mention for Shaun Carr and life member Paul Turner, who both represented Great Britain at the rescheduled World Duathlon Championships in Aviles, Spain. Shaun completed the Sprint edition (5.1km run, 21.2km bike, 2.8km run) in 1:15:57 – recording a PB of 18:56 for the first run – and Paul Turner competed in the same distance, coming home in 1:40:28.

Club Chair Peter Mitchener presenting a cheque to Harvey Sherwood - November 2021

club chair Peter Mitchener presenting a cheque to Harvey Sherwood

Finally this week, Chairman Peter Mitchener was pleased to donate a cheque for £500 to Harvey Sherwood of Cotswold National Landscape towards the work being done to restore the wildflower rich Jurassic limestone grasslands on the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The money was raised from proceeds of races hosted by the club.

Men's AA Cross Country team - October 2021

AA Mens Cross Country team photo

A quieter week of racing in Almost Athlete quarters but nevertheless a fruitful one. Eleven ladies and fifteen men attended the first Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country meet of the season at the stunning if not soggy Cirencester Park. Heavy rain in the morning made the conditions gloriously muddy with long patches of bog and rolling technical tree lined corridors providing a great challenge to all team members. Much fun was had chasing around the fields with many runners taking part in their first cross country meet - a testament to the supportive nature of the club. The first male Almost home was Nick Lewis (11th MV45) and the first female was Patricia Dendy (3rd LV40). Overall after the first meet the Almost team positions stand respectably at - Senior Male A and B teams in 15th and 18th, Male Vets A, B and C teams at 9th, 15th and 16th positions, Senior ladies A, B and C teams in 23rd, 33rd and 35th and Ladies Vets teams at 11th and 19th. Eight runners who took part in Saturday's Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country team doubled their fun and also enjoyed racing at Upcote on Sunday.

Women's AA Cross Country team - October 2021

AA Womens Cross Country team photo

As the clocks rolled back on Halloween morning, 44 intrepid Almosts took on Run Upcote’s treacherous trails hoping there would be no tricks before their treats. In true October style, the rain poured down and the wind blew but they weren’t scared away - with prizes in abundance for the Almost Athletes members who braved the horrifying hills of Upcote.

Almosts at Upcote - October 2021

Almosts at Upcote photo

Shaun Carr took first male vet with 8th position (44:27) quickly followed by Mike Bryce (45:28) claiming second male vet; Lesley Cottle took home first female vet in 53:42, Neil Tring was the first V60 male with a time of 48:07 and Bill Jones - who only entered at the very last minute - won first place in the over 70s category with a time of 1:07:48. Laura Tring was the first female Almost home also claiming third senior lady (51:07) in the process, with Ian Williams coming in as the first male Almost and fourth senior male (42:03). Hester Coggins was the fourth lady in her category with a time of 53:39. Duncan Mounsor was the second male V50 (47:50).
As always, no Saturday would be complete for many Almosts without a trip to Parkrun - and this Halloween weekend was no exception. Hester Coggins completed her 25th Parkrun at Kingsway, Gloucester making 75 events attended. 10 Almosts attended King George V Playing Fields parkrun, with a notable mention to Catherine Daly who was the first female home in 25:52, hot on the heels of Steven Adams (25:51). Fifteen Almosts enjoyed a soggy run around Cheltenham Parkrun. Inside Gloucestershire Almosts also attended Tewkesbury and Mallards Pike parkruns. Several others opted to go further afield with attendances at Evesham, Prospect, Cannon Hill (Birmingham), Peel and Southsea. Even further afield Ben Taylor attended Mundy parkrun, near to Vancouver, Canada.