2024 News

Below are a selection of news items from this year, so far.

 

Some Long Runs from Durban to Dartmoor 

Race Report for 9 June by Natalie Wizard

It was a weekend of long and ultra distance running for many Almosts as they attended events around the country and the globe. The furthest medal gained this week was achieved 8500 miles from Gloucestershire, as Matt Proome completed the legendary Comrades Marathon running the 85.9km ultra marathon in 10 hours. This year saw nearly 15,000 runners take on the challenging ‘Up Run’ from Durban to Pietermaritzburg with Matt finishing in the top third of all competitors.

Slightly closer to home, in Wales this weekend, several Almosts tried to outrun four equine friends as they completed the iconic Man vs Horse race in Llanwrtyd Wells. Mike Daly completed the 22 miles in 4:41, Cat Williams in 4 hours 52 minutes, Dave Chittock in 5:27 and Catherine Mason completed the third leg of the relay in 1 hour 40 minutes. No runners beat the horses this year meaning the jackpot rolls over to next year, with £1,000 waiting for anyone who can run faster than our four legged friends.

Staying in Wales, Dave McGrath and Steve Taylor took on the Pembrokeshire Ultra completing their first ultra distance of 32 miles in a very respectable 8 hours and 7 minutes. They were treated to some rare sunshine and beautiful views during the beautiful coastal course.

Back on English soil but still travelling a fair distance from Cheltenham for an event saw Elzbieta Antosiewicz take on the Dartmoor Discovery Ultra. Ela completed the 32.5 mile race in 6:35:45, smashing 30 minutes off her previous time at the event and an overall 50k PB.

Karla Cleverly pushed hard to complete the Endure24 event in Reading. Taking place over 24 hours, teams of 7 battled to run as many 5 mile loops as they could.

Ingrid Harris took on the tricky and dangerous Cheddar marathon, coming first in her age category with a fantastic time of 5 hours 29 on a tough course.

Allan Green ran the Phoenix Challenge marathon in 5 hours 43 minutes and 10 seconds.

Mark Wreford-Bush, Glenda Gill and Liz Garner ran the Two Castles 10k in Warwickshire. Starting at Warwick Castle and finishing at Kennilworth Castle, Mark achieved a new course PB of 45:57, Glenda finished in 1:02 and Liz ran the distance in 59 minutes.

Finally back in Gloucestershire many Almosts completed the Fairford 10k, with many achieving personal bests as well as a morning of enjoyable running. Josh Rimmell smashed his previous PB over the 10k distance with a time of 41:43, taking 3 minutes and 56 seconds off his fastest time. Mark James ran a PB of 53 minutes. Other Almosts taking part included Vicki James (1:10) and Allan Green (49:53).

Outside of racing, Hollie Galvin spent 8 and a half hours of her weekend running 50k along the beautiful Cotswold Way ahead of her upcoming Backyard Ultra challenge.

As always, parkrun was well attended all around the country and county by many Almosts on Saturday morning. Notable achievements included Zakia Hussain running her best time since the start of the year and post major surgery on her 49th run (36:55) at Marlborough Common. Prashanth Sripathi attended Warwick Racecourse with his family, running 26:15 whilst pushing a running buggy. Chris McMahon was first in his age category at Newent parkrun on a grassy course with a time of 26:30. Duncan Mounsor also came first in his age category at Stratford Park, a new venue for him. Sandra Stuart travelled to Somerset to complete Radstock parkrun. Neil Tring was first in his age category at Riverside Walk parkrun in Hay on Wye. Rich Smith ran Edgbaston Reservoir parkrun in a time of 28:27. Matt Proome ran the Umhlanga parkrun in Durban, South Africa in 36:12 ahead of his Comrades run.

Below are a selection of photos from the various events.

Almosts Head for the Cloud

Race Report for 2 June by Andrew Lloyd

Almosts took to the Cloud this week or more precisely the Cleeve Cloud Cuckoo Race hosted at Cleeve Hill Golf Club and organised by Cheltenham & County Harriers. Among a large contingent of Almosts Patricia Dendy was first member over the finishing line in 14th place with a time of 41:46 which also earned her the First Female prize. Patricia was joined by Sue Pearce and Katy George for the First Female Team prize while there were also first in age categories for Ingrid Harris (50:59) and Allan Green ( 52:57). Vivienne Ravenhill narrowly missed top spot in her age category finishing a second with  49:14. Elliot Jordan ran well with a time of 42:43 to finish in overall 19th place while Jamie Baron ensured another top 25 finish for Almosts in 43:33.

A relatively quiet running calendar presented many parkrun opportunities. Prashanth Sripati was the sole Almost at Gunnersbury in London with 27:46 while Neil Tring collected first in age at The Old Showground, Frome. In a busy week Patricia Dendy made it 300 up at Kingsbury Water, Birmingham.

Vivienne Ravenhill capped a week of achievement with a first in age at the beautiful and highly recommended Penrhyn. There were also first in age finishes for Claire Hawes at Gloucester City (33:44) and Janine Bennett at Stonehouse  (27:57). Caroline Rea made it two pbs in one weekend at Tramore Valley parkrun ( 27:57) and the Cork Half Marathon (2:08:50) assisted by husband Johnny. There were also best of year completions for Chris Mcmahon at Berkeley Green ( 24:23 ) and Sue Low at Peckham Rye (32:20).

Jo Johnson was second lady home at Porthkerry Country Park 5MT while Ingrid Harris rounded off a successful week with a first female in age category and 12th overall female out of 123 in 1:51:57 at the Two Tunnels Half Marathon, Bath.

In hot conditions the trio of Dave Nelson, Sue Sturgeon and Sue Lowe completed the Gloucester Race 4 Life over the 10k distance. International travellers this week were Matt Polson who completed the 5k Race for the Planet in Bordeaux while Jan and Agata Pakula completed the Rzeszów parkrun in Poland. A note of gratitude this week to Almost pacers Peter Mitchener, Sarah Wood, Piotr Michalski, Elliot Jordan, Forest Wheeler and Paul Jones for supporting the Cheltenham parkrun.

There were also Almost runners at the following; Bushy Park, Kingsway Gloucester, Oxford, Warrington, Worcester, Gloucester North, Wycombe Rye, Abingdon, Wimpole Estate, Chipping Sodbury, Pontypool, Evesham, Golden Harvest, Cirencester, Dungannon, Centre Vale, Mundy, King George V Cheltenham, Sandhurst, Trelai Park, Wolford Wood, Worden, Riverside, and Brunswick Park.

Finally two landmark presentations were made to honour the commitment and dedication of long term members Michael Grant and Fiona Barnes. Michael has been an excellent coach for many years while Fiona has combined her role as a coach with a crucial role on the club committee as Welfare Officer. Each have been recognised with lifetime membership awards.

Below are a selection of photos from the various events.

Michael Grant being presented with his Life Membership certificate

 

Team Almosts at Cleeve Cloud

 

Ladies Team First Prize

 

Sue Low & Sue Sturgeon at Race 4 Life Gloucester

 

Fiona Barnes being presented with her Life Membership certificate 

 

Almosts Achieve Great Results at Westonbirt, Dymock and North Of the Border!

Race Report for 26 May by Claire Hawes

The racing weekend started on Thursday evening when a group of Almosts travelled to Westonbirt for the Forestry England 10k. Sue Low achieved a PB in 1:07:23; Paul Jones finished in 54:17, Helen Fursman Reid in 55:19 and Deb Cartlidge in 1:13:47.

L-r Sue Low, Paul Jones, Helen Fursman-Reid

 

Sunday saw the next race in the club road series, the Dymock Half Marathon. Always a popular event with the club, it’s been joined in recent years by a 5 mile race and the purple vests were in evidence in this race too.

In the Half, Steve Axford was first home for the club in a new PB of 1:28:41. Also notching up a new PB was Johnny Rea in a time of 1:35:08 while Josh Rimell scored a massive PB of over 10 minutes in 1:38:39. Richard Knightley also achieved a new PB in 1:40:10.42! Other results for the Half were: John Johnson 1:37:46, Elliot Jordan 1:39:39, Olga Goffin (3rd woman overall and 2nd in the FV35 age category) 1:40:51, Steve Wood 1:45:05, Mark Wreford-Bush 1:45:21, Dale Midwinter 1:45:33 (1st place in the MV60+ age group) Ross Greening 1:48:40 (2nd in MV60+ age group), James Fyrne 1:49:02, Duncan Mounsor 1:51:28, Sarah Wood 1:51:30 (1st in FV45 age group), Steve Taylor 1:53:06, Ingrid Harris 1:53:29 (2nd in FV55+ age group), Graeme Stopp 1:54:37, Dave Elliott 1:56:25, Victoria Willoughby 1:56:42 (3rd in FV55+ age group), Amy Broomhall 1:58:40, Peter Mitchener 1:58:40, David Davey 2:02:11, Charlotte Jamieson 2:27:17, Bob Spawton 2:27:17, Janine Bennett 2:34:03.

The team of Olga Goffin, Sarah Wood and Ingrid Harris completed a highly successful Half Marathon outing for the club by winning the Ladies’ Team prize!

The 5 mile race saw the always awesome Patricia Dendy romp home in 33:08, taking second place overall in the women’s race (and 1st in her FV35 age group). Katie Coleman followed in 35:31 (1st in her FV45 age group) and Julie Averiss and Iris Mayo both crossed the finish line in 59:18.

Patricia Dendy

 

In Manchester’s Great Run 10 Wan Hartley completed the course in 59:02, while several Almosts headed north of the border for their events.

Dave Nelson ran the unusual distance of 12k in the Dunblane Road Race finishing in a gun time of 1:25:54.

In Edinburgh Lesley Cottle started her weekend with an age-group 1st place at Edinburgh parkrun (her time of 27:06 giving her an age-grading of 75.95%!) and followed that up with a terrific 2nd in Age category at Edinburgh marathon, in a time of 4:37:12.

Another Almost producing a wonderful result in the Edinburgh Marathon was Matt Parkinson. In only his second marathon Matt completed the 26.2 miles in 2:55:43! Matt modestly thanked club coaches Matt and Fi Barnes for their help – the training certainly paid off!

At the other end of the distance spectrum Almosts took part in numerous parkruns this weekend. Alice Tredgett was first woman home at Gloucester City, Dan Magovern got his fastest parkrun time this year at KGV in a time of 23:29 and Neil Tring scored a first in age group at Sutton Park.

 

Almosts also took part in parkruns at Lydiard, Gloucester North, Worcester Pitchcroft, Eastville, Cheltenham – where Simon Lewis joined the Centurion club – Blandford, Evesham, Tewkesbury, Wyre Forest, Cwmbran, Prospect, Tetbury Goods Shed, Milford Waterfront, Wollaton Hall, Horspath, Peel, Pavilion Gardens, Sharpham Estate, and Quakers Walk.

Finally, a brief mention of a race that happened a couple of weeks ago but for one of our members, didn’t go according to plan. Ceinwen Davies had to make the tough but sensible decision to DNF the Stroud Trails Marathon due to the heat, but she was determined not to be beaten by the challenging course. This weekend, Ceinwen took on the trail again, completing it successfully in the company of Fi Barnes, Des Beer, Alison Hume and Darren Lewington and with encouragement and sustenance from other friends popping up around the course. A great team effort and a real testament to the club spirit at Almost Athletes.

 

The Great Bristol Races, Our AGM and More

Race Report for 20 May by Dave Nelson

Despite the weather warming up, Almost Athletes still got out onto the roads and trails and put in some strong performances in races and parkruns both near and far this past weekend.

The biggest event of the weekend took place just down the M5, as the Great Bristol 10k and Half Marathon was held on Sunday, attracting a number of club members. Four Almosts took on the 10k option, with Mike Bryce leading the club home on a hot day in 48:28. James Clay made a welcome return to racing, finishing in 1:16:27; while Sally McKinlay (1:00:41) and Paul Jones (53:31) also ran.

A further five club members took on the half marathon option, with Olga Goffin putting in an excellent performance to finish in 1:40:08 and finish fifth in her age category. Louise Knowles (1:54:02), Helena Nilsson (2:24:40), Corinne Cooper (2:36:22) and Wendy Haskins (2:54:20) also ran the 13.1 miles; with Wendy running with her daughter Sophie, who was raising money for Diabetes UK.

Also taking on a half marathon this weekend, albeit much further afield, was Piotr Michalski, who ran the Gdynia Half Marathon in Poland, finishing in 2:02:39. Piotr was joined by Thomas Wood, and the two ran together, although Thomas was just pipped to the finish by a solitary second! Also running abroad was Allan Green, who completed his customary marathon, this week running the Riga Marathon in Latvia in 4:49:18.

Back in the UK, and much closer to home, Penny and Simon Lewis ran the Blenheim Palace 7k event, with Simon finishing in 43:33, and Penny in 1:09:11. Mark Wreford-Bush got a late entry to the Worcester Marathon, and celebrated by finishing in a very creditable 4:22:51; while Natalie Greening went even longer, finishing the Goring Gap 52k ultra along the Thames Path in 8:18:39. Finally, Jan and Agata Pakula competed at the Suckley Quarter Marathon, finishing together in 1:08:22.

A busy parkrun weekend saw a few different milestones achieved by club members. Sarah Wood ran her 350th parkrun at Cheltenham, finishing first in her age category in the process; while Claire Hawes also achieved first in her age category at Seaton – a fitting way to celebrate a recent change in category, although we won’t give away Claire’s age by saying what the category was! In Scotland, Dave Nelson ran at his 150th different parkrun venue, completing “Scotland’s hilliest parkrun” in Drumchapel, Glasgow. In Poland, before running the Gdynia Half mentioned earlier, Piotr Michalski completed his “parkrun alphabet” at Zamek w Malborku.

Meanwhile, Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring headed to the Netherlands to run in their special Whit Monday double events, taking in Zuiderpark parkrun in Den Haag on Saturday, and following that up with Oosterhout parkrun in Alkmaar on Monday. Neil was first in his age category at both events, while Lorraine achieved that distinction at Oosterhout. Deborah Elliott achieved a new course PB at Evesham, as did Steve Yarnold at Gloucester City and James Clay at Berkeley Green.

Club members also ran at Wimbledon Common, Kingsway, Forest of Dean, Shepton Mallet, Gloucester North, Abingdon, Thornbury, Porthcawl, Georgengarten (Hanover, Germany), Isabel Trail, Tetbury Goods Shed, Babbs Mill, King George V Playing Fields, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, and Peel. In addition, Sue Sturgeon and a number of other club members staged a volunteer takeover at Evesham junior parkrun on Sunday, in preparation for starting their own junior event in Winchcombe in the coming months.

Finally, the club held their 2024 AGM last week, at which the annual awards were presented to club members. The full list of winners was as follows:

  • Female runner of the year – Katie Coleman
  • Male runner of the year – Graeme Stopp
  • Douglas Waymark Memorial Trophy (for volunteer support to the club) – Philip Jeyes
  • Rich Walklate Trophy (for support to the club plus commitment to their own running) – Dave McGrath
  • Dedicated runner of the year (for putting in sustained effort to improve their running) – Ceinwen Davies
  • Cross Country Captains Award – Victoria Willoughby

The Gloucestershire AAA Open Team Road Race Champions Shield was also presented to those present who contributed points towards the win – Patricia Dendy, Alison Hume, Cheryl Rodham, Ivana Wilson, Corinne Cooper, Alice Tredgett, Joanne Johnson, Victoria Willoughby, Katie Coleman, and Sally McKinlay. Not present, but also scoring points, were Amy Sheer, Charmaine Brunt, Hayley Woolnough, Issy Ravenhill, Jeanette Gullick, Maddie Page and Victoria Kennedy.

A gift was also presented to Steven Adams to thank him for his many years of service to the club as he stepped down from the committee.

Congratulations to all of our award winners, and thanks to everyone who puts in the work behind the scenes to keep the club going!

 

Fantastic First For Fi at Stroud Trails Ultramarathon

Race Report for 13 May by Alison Hume

After the focus on road marathons over the past few weeks, members’ attention turned to offroad challenges of varying distances.  The hottest day of the year was no deterrent for club coach Fiona Barnes, who was first female at the Stroud Trails ultramarathon, covering all 41 miles and over 5,000 feet of ascent in 9:54:06.  Kim Lewington took on her first offroad marathon, conquering the hills and almost 28 miles to finish strong in 8:10:10.  In the half marathon option – nearer 15 miles – Helen Fursman Reid crossed the line in 2:58:59, closely followed by Desiree Beer, who took first place in her age category (3:15:14).  Given her recent disciplined training, it was a shame that Ceinwen Davis fell victim to the hot and humid conditions, wisely withdrawing from the marathon at the 11-mile point.

Another member to score a top result this weekend was Vivienne Ravenhill, who took part in the Big Black Mountains Challenge 20k to help raise funds for Longtown Mountain Rescue.  The route featured almost 3,000 feet of ascent and some beautiful views, at the end of which Vivienne was rewarded with third finisher overall and first female.

At the Ultra Trail Snowdonia (UTS) 100k – a UTMB qualifying race – Dave Rogers ran an exceptionally measured race, timing his efforts perfectly to move through the field to finish 72nd overall and 11th in age category, covering 103km and over 6,400m of ascent in a time of 20:26:33.  Portia Clapham conquered the shorter option, covering 55k and almost 3,400m of elevation in 12:39:47.  Ela Antosiewicz and Craig Jackson provided volunteer cover at the event.

As part of his final preparations for the Comrades ultramarathon, Matt Proome took on the Shires and Spires 35-mile ultramarathon, a mix of footpaths, roads and country trails starting from Naseby in Northamptonshire.  Matt successfully completed his final long training run in 6:24:47. He was supported by clubmates Mark Wreford-Bush, Amy Sheer and Michelle Balchin, who successfully completed the marathon option as a team in 5:50, which included a lengthy stop to assist a runner who had collapsed with heatstroke.

Closer to home, the club’s sole representative at the Scorpion Run, Sheena Macdonald, made light work of the 12k trail race based at Symonds Yat and featuring a huge sting in the tail in the form of a big climb in the closing stages, coming home in 1:22:41.  However, it was at Sherborne village where over thirty members were to be found toeing the line on Sunday morning, at the Sherborne 5-mile race, a fundraising event in aid of the local school and the fifth race in the club’s offroad series.  Once again, several female club members put in strong performances: Patricia Dendy (3rd female, 34:08); Sue Pearce (1st FV40, 38:06) and Ingrid Harris (1st FV60, 42:38).  There were also top three age category finishes for Jamie Baron (3rd MV40, 35:58); Pauline Bargus (2nd LV70, 51:29) and Sheila Chatterley (3rd LV70, 54:59).

Also running were: John Johnson (36:28); Joanne Johnson (39:08); Mike Smith (39:39); Jamie Courtenay (41:07); Graeme Stopp (41:10); Olly Bell (43:14); Amy Broomhall and Peter Mitchener (both 43:38); Victoria Willoughby (44:17); Nichola Sanderson (45:14); Hollie Galvin (45:50); Dave Elliott (46:08); Lesley Cottle (46:35); David Garnett (46:46); Mike Line (46:55); Barry Irvine (47:23); Rich Smith (49:28); Adrian Courtenay (50:52); Sue Monaghan (51:08); Christine Harker (51:10); Cathy Booth (51:21); Charlotte Jamieson (51:37); Wan Hartley (53:03); Catherine Mason (53:48); Heather Smith (55:38, spot prize); Mariel Chretien (55:54); Wendy Horne (56:41, spot prize); Corinne Cooper (58:35); Julie Courtenay (60:33) and Lynne Macedo (62:56).

On a warm and sunny Friday evening runners had an opportunity to race former GB international Dave Moorcroft over the rarely run one-mile distance in the fourth event in the Gloucestershire AAAs road race series, the Bourton One Mile race.  There was a hefty new personal best (PB) for Josh Rimell, who went comfortably sub-6 for the first time to clock 5:49.5.  Patricia Dendy earned a county gold medal and new club age group record for her chip time of 5:50.5, bettering her previous club record of 6:01.  Victoria Willoughby continued her recent run of strong form to clock a new PB of 7:09.5, earning herself a county silver medal for her efforts.  Next home was Allan Green (7:21.2), followed by Alison Hume (7:50.7) and, in her last race before going into a new age category, Claire Hawes (10:19.7).

Furthest travelled for their parkrun fix this week were Janine Bennett, Lorraine Taylor and Neil Tring, who all took on the Ascension Day double at Tokoinranta parkrun, Finland on Thursday and Puolarmaari parkrun on Saturday followed by the very scenic Helsinki City Run half marathon, around the lakes on the edge of the city, which Neil completed in very warm conditions in 1:50:14; Lorraine in 2:27:46 and Janine in 2:52:04.

Closer to home, Sue Sturgeon recorded her 250th and Lewis Jones his 300th at Cheltenham parkrun.  Chris McMahon secured first in age group at Gloucester North (25:23) while Claire Hawes was first in age group at Kingsway, a ‘last hurrah’ before she moves into her new age category next week.  Fresh from recent marathon successes, Alice Tredgett was second female at Kingsway (19:21) while Rose Hubbard was third female at King George V Playing Field (24:39).  Mark Stojanov continued his return to form after recent illness, recording his fastest parkrun of the year at Tewkesbury (37:36), while Piotr Michalski took on the surprisingly hilly course at Ashton Court.

There was also club representation at Beacon, Blandford, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Evesham, Exmouth, Harcourt Hill, Mallards Pike, Newent, Peel, Pomphrey Hill, Severn Bridge, Sizewell, St Mary’s and Worcester.

On Monday evening 41 members took part in the first race in the club’s summer handicap series, the wet conditions in stark contrast to the preceding sunny days.  The top five spots were taken by Prash Sripathi, Victoria Willougby, Lewis Jones, Lee Chapman and Craig Hillard.

In other sports, Phil Jeyes completed the Cromhall sprint triathlon in 1:40, an event notable for the 1km long run between the lake and transition area.  Never one to shy away from a challenge, Julianne Jameson completed the Audax Cheltenham New Flyer – a 125-mile bike ride with 7,000 feet of ascent.

Below is selection of photos

 

Fiona Barnes with her First Female trophy and prize at the conclusion of the Stroud Trails ultramarathon

 

 

Helen Fursman Reid, Kim Davenport, Fiona Barnes, Desiree Beer and Ceinwen Davies at the conclusion of Stroud Trails

 

 

Vivienne Ravenhill at the Big Black Mountains Challenge

 

 

Mark Wreford-Bush, Amy Sheer, Matt Proome and Michelle Balchin at Shires and Spires

 

 

Janine Bennett, Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor at Helsinki City half marathon

 

 

Some of the 30+ Almost Athletes at Sherborne 5 Mile

 

 

Sue Sturgeon (centre), celebrating her 250th parkrun achievement with Kate Bestwick and Sue Low

 

 

A Busy Period of Traveling

Race Report for 6 May by Dave Nelson

A busy bank holiday weekend for Almost Athletes saw club members competing in a number of events both at home and abroad.

The most popular event was in Milton Keynes, where the annual Marathon Weekend was held. A small contingent of Almosts ran the full 26.2 mile distance on Bank Holiday Monday, with Dave McGrath leading the club home in a fantastic time of 3:34:27, earning himself a Good for Age qualification for next year’s London Marathon in the process. Also running was Steve Taylor (4:16:41) and marathon man Allan Green (4:46:57); as well as Ingrid Harris, who finished second in her age category in 3:54:36. Top running everyone!

Away from the full marathon, the event in Milton Keynes also saw races across a variety of other distances. The “Rocket 5k” on Sunday saw Sam Wizard (22:24), Mark James (26:46), Natalie Wizard (30:30), and Vicki James (33:38) take part, while the half marathon on Monday featured another club contingent. Elliot Jordan was first home for the club in 1:37:07, while Steven Wood earned himself a new PB in 1:42:59. Mark and Vicki James pulled double duty for the weekend, finishing together in 2:46:06; a result that especially please Vicki as she has been struggling with injury for much of the year so far. Also doubling up were Sam and Natalie Wizard, who took on the Marathon Relay as part of a team of 4; with their team finishing in 3:47:58 overall.

Further afield, Tristan and Helen Motteram continued their quest to eventually run all of the European capital marathons, by running the Prague Marathon. Running in fancy dress on a hot and very humid day, they conquered the difficult course in 5:41:49 and 5:41:50 respectively. Also running in foreign climes was Ian Poole, who completed the Ellicott City 10k in Maryland in the USA, finishing 12th overall and second in age category in 50:27.

Closer to home, but still quite far away from Gloucestershire, Lizzie Renn was in Scotland competing in the Ultra X Scotland 110km event. Lizzie finished the exceptionally tough two-day event, which involved 3,513m of elevation, in a total time of 15:25:06, coming fourth in her age category and 27th overall – a fantastic effort! Dave Nelson was also in Scotland, returning to his roots to take part in the Run Scotland Strathclyde Spring 10km event in Strathclyde Park, Motherwell. Dave overcame a stomach bug to get around the course in 1:18:59.

Inching back towards Cheltenham, Victoria Willoughby and Heather Smith took part in the AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run Half Marathon, finishing in 1:57:38 and 2:33:31 respectively; while Matt Jones took part in the Marlborough Downs Challenge, finishing the 33-mile trail race in 6:43:33. Meanwhile, a number of club members took part in the virtual Wings For Life World Run, which involves running as far as possible before the virtual “catcher car” catches up with you. Prashanth Sripathi completed 9.33km; while Sheila Chatterley, Pauline Bargus, Karen Gomm, Jeanette Gullick, Chaweewan Hartley, Claire Cook and Dave Davey took part as a team, raising money for spinal research. Finally, Johnny Rea competed in the men’s doubles event at Hyrox London, finishing in 1:07:50.

As always, Saturday saw members take part in parkruns, both near and far. 31 different events saw a purple presence, with notable results for Ray Pearson and Ellie Haile, who achieved course PBs at Severn Bridge (Ray) and Tamworth Castle Grounds (Ellie). Furthest travelled were Adele Steptoe and Tim Perkins, who ran Futako-Tamagawa parkrun in Tokyo, with Adele achieving first in her age category, while Chris McMahon ran his fastest event of the year at Gloucester City. A number of Almosts, as always, also volunteered at events, with Peter Mitchener, Graeme Stopp, Forrest Wheeler, Steven Wood and Paul Jones all doing so as pacers at Cheltenham. As we often say, parkruns cannot happen without volunteers, so any support anyone can give at either the senior 5k events on a Saturday or the junior 2k events on a Sunday would be hugely appreciated. Anyone can do it, with a variety of roles available – just contact your nearest event for details!

Below is selection of photos

 

Marathon Medals Galore

Race Report for 21 April by Claire Hawes

The week got off to a great start when two Almosts crossed the pond to take part in the
Boston Marathon. This is one of the World Marathon Majors events and entry is very
highly sought after. Mark Soo was first Almost across the finishing line in 3:41:54,
followed by injury-hit but determined Sandra Stuart. Sandra completed the race in
6:14:07 and ticked off her sixth Majors marathon in the process!

Mark and Sandra were not the only Almosts racing overseas this week as Rob and
Alison Hume took part in the Corrida do Coracao 10k in Portugal. Alison finished in
54:21 (and took second place in her age category as she did so) while Rob crossed the
line in 57:16. In the US, Ian Poole completed a 10k in Columbia, Maryland, receiving
two bottles of local beer for his efforts!

At the Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford on Avon Graeme Stopp scored a PB in a chip
time of 4:09:45, while up in Blackpool Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor finished the
marathon there in 4:03 and 5:26 respectively.

Of course in marathon terms, all eyes were on London this weekend.  Almost Athletes
were very well represented by: Sally Beaumont (4:17:59) Chris Daddow (3:51:49) Karen
Galpin (3:59:08) Allan Green (4:45:10) Debbie Jones (4:28:01) Melissa Jonga (5:26:25)
Darren Lewington (5:44:53) Tobi Marks (4:46:43) Peter Mitchener (3:48:50) Simon
Morgan (4:32:03) Simon Peel (3:32:33) Lynne Poulston (5:34:25) Isabella Ravenhill
(3:27:38) Amy Sheer (3:34:46) Steve Taylor (4:00:52) Alice Tredgett (3:03:52) James
Wilson (6:07:13). A huge well done to all!

Prashanth Sripathi and Claire Hawes completed the Marathon My Way. Prash ran a
course in Cheltenham in 4:42:52 and Claire chose Exmouth for hers, finishing in
6:33:14.

There were some great achievements at various Parkruns this weekend. Josh Rimell
cracked sub-20 at Cheltenham for a new parkrun PB of 19:48; Vivienne Ravenhill was
second lady at Mallards Pike in her best time this year, 24:31, and Victoria Willoughby
took first place in her age category at her 70th parkrun. Sue Monaghan notched up her
250th parkrun, noting that her 250th was faster than each of her first 5 parkruns! Bill
Jones passed his first parkrun milestone by completing his 50th parkrun

 

Beginnings of the Spring Race Season, a 250th Parkrun and More

Race Report for 9 April by Dave Nelson

It was another busy weekend for Almost Athletes as the spring race season began to get into gear with various events, both near and far.

In a very hot Prague, Kevin Keegan ran his 4th in the “Super Halfs” series, leaving him with only two more to do to complete the set. In roughly 26 degree heat in the Czech capital, Kevin completed the course in 2:59:35. Closer to home, three club members took part in the London Landmarks Half, with Coralie Pearson (2:14:26), Corinne Cooper (2:23:05) and Rachel Nolan (2:29:58) all putting up strong performances.

Another half marathon runner was Ingrid Harris, who completed the Brabazon Half in Patchway, Bristol, who battled through illness to finish in 1:55:48, in the process taking first place in her age category. Going longer this week was Shaun Carr, who finished the Brighton Marathon in 4:37:11; and of course Shaun wasn’t the only one running 26.2 miles – marathon man Allan Green completed a very windy and hilly Southampton Marathon in 4:57:04. Our final running racer this week was Claire Hawes, who did an extremely muddy Powderham Castle 5 Mile race, finishing in 1:13:12 despite losing her shoe in the mud twice! Mixing his disciplines though was Phil Jeyes, who took part in the Halesowen Triathlon, finishing in 1:47:33.

Away from races, as always there was the usual large turnout of club members at various parkruns both locally and further afield. Oliver Bell completed the “parkrun alphabet”, a challenge consisting of running a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet other than X, at the Zielony Jar event in Krakow, Poland. Soon to join him in the “alphabeteer” club is Piotr Michalski, who ran at the Yarborough Leisure Centre event in his 200th overall parkrun, leaving him with just a Z to collect. Perhaps a trip to Krakow for Piotr soon as well!

At Cheltenham, there was an official milestone for Vincent Cowling, who completed his 250th run; and an unofficial one for Peter Mitchener, who completed his 300th run, also volunteering by pacing 23 minutes. Peter was joined in pacing by Elliot Jordan, Steven Wood, Sarah Wood, Paul Jones, and Forrest Wheeler; while a number of Almosts volunteered in other roles. Without volunteers parkrun wouldn’t happen, so we would like to encourage everyone to help out if they can, even just once in a while as it is a huge help and is very appreciated by event teams!

There were age category first places for Cathy Booth at Pollok, Glasgow; Julia Whittaker at Harrow; Catherine Williams at Worcester; Felicity Read at Cheltenham; Joanne Johnson at Swansea Bay; Rosemary Hubbard at Prospect; Neil Tring at Aberbeeg; and Jamie Courtenay at Sandhurst Memorial.

Other parkrun tourism was undertaken by club members at Kingsway; Leamington; Oxford; Highbury Fields; Lincoln; Eden Project; Malahide, Dublin; Woodley; Newent; Osterley; Lanhydrock; Blandford; Barry Island; Ludlow; Gloucester City; Clevedon Salthouse Fields; Chipping Norton School; Beacon; Ganger Farm; and Blaise Castle. Lastly, a mention for Nichola Sanderson, whose son completed his first junior parkrun (along with mum!) in Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday, finishing in 12:37. A future member of the purple army!

The photos are of Claire Hawes at Powderham Castle, Shaun Carr at Brighton and Kevin Keegan at Prague.

 

A Busy Easter Period for Almosts

Race Report for 1 April by Natalie Wizard

Many Almost Athletes made good use of the two extra days off this Easter Bank holiday, starting with the club’s traditional Good Friday event. As always, this was well attended with many club members coming along to walk or run a variety of distances both on road and trail giving a welcome opportunity to socialise along the way. 

There was a large turn out for the club at Gloucester 10k and Half Marathon and several members came away with category placings to their name across both distances. Over the half marathon distance, Alice Tredgett proved once again that she is going from strength to strength coming overall first female and winning the Senior Women’s category with a time of 1:22:12, almost 4 minutes ahead of the next lady in the race. Karen Galpin was first in her category of V60 (female) with an impressive personal best of 1:49:01, closely followed by Ingrid Harris (1:49:37). Sarah Wallbridge was the 4th V60 lady across the line with a time of 1:56:45. Both Karen and Alice’s time are new club records for the half marathon distance in their respective age categories, with Karen improving on the club record she previously set herself. There are plenty of other members who had a good morning in Gloucester, with Jeanette Gullick coming home as the first V55 (female) in 1:40:32 and Ian Coggin running a strong time of 1:44:11 closely followed by James Fyrne (1:45:53). Amy Broomhall finished in 1:47:54, coming 8th out of 55 runners in the V35 (female) category. Other members running were Victoria Willoughby (1:56:45), Alison Hume (1:57:21), Ivana Wilson (1:57:53), Tristan Motteram (2:15:58), Vicki James (2:41:26), Mark James (2:41:26) and Dave Nelson (2:42:41). Lynne Poulston was not content with running just 13.1 miles in 2:35:08 so added an extra 5 miles to make up her long training run ahead of the London marathon in a few weeks time. 

For runners choosing the shorter 10k distance, there was no less success. Steve Axford was the first Almost Athlete to finish, coming 3rd in the V45 category with a time of 43:26. Sue Low and Sue Sturgeon finished together to come joint 3rd for the V65 (female) category with a time of 1:07:07. Declan Walker finished 21st out of 155 runners in the Senior Male category with a very respectable time of 43:49. Graeme Stopp (54:45), Clare Bone (56:08), Steve Phelps (1:00:30), Melanie Methven (1:06:47) and Steve Yarnold (1:04:06) also enjoyed the 10k run in the very welcome sunny weather. 

Before running the Gloucester half marathon on Sunday, Ingrid Harris ran the Westonbirt Easter Half coming first in her age category in 1:52:00. Julie Averiss ran the 10k distance in 1:15:46.

It wouldn’t be a Saturday without parkrun and this Easter weekend was no different. Several members took the opportunity on this long Bank Holiday to travel a bit further afield with Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor visiting Queens’s parkrun in Belfast. Neil came first in his age category with a time of 22:45. Lorraine finishing in 29:18. David Davey was also on the Emerald Isle, running at Sligo parkrun and finishing in a time of 25:32. Up in Scotland David Nelson ran Oriam parkrun in Edinburgh finishing in 38:00. Kate Bestwick ran her 223rd parkrun at Fleetwood Promenade, which was also their 223rd event. She ran her fastest time of the year in 36:13. Nearly 40 Almost Athletes attended Pittville Park to run Cheltenham parkrun. Other events attended this week included Tamworth Castle Grounds (Ellie Haile, 26:37), Trentham Gardens (Rich Smith, 27:33), University Parks (Victoria Kennedy, 33:31 and Mike Kennedy, 44:53) and Storeys Field (Robert Foord, 20:30).

Muddy Good Fun for Almost Athletes at Eastnor and Pendock 

Race Report for 17 March by Alison Hume

This week saw the largest contingent of Almost Athletes representing the club at the Magnificent Eastnor Castle 7, a trail race organised by Ledbury and District Harriers in the grounds of Eastnor Castle and the third race in the club’s offroad race series.  First home for the club in fifth place overall and first in MV40 category was Nick Lewis, who conquered the very wet and muddy conditions underfoot to finish in 49:46.  Also placing top three in their respective age categories were John Johnson (57:24, 3rd MV40); Joanne Johnson (62:34, 3rd FV40) and Charlotte Jamieson (86:57, 3rd FV60).  Neil Tring also placed third in the MV60 age category (63:24), just one day after picking up another first in age category at Chadderton Hall parkrun.

Also on the hunt for race series points were: Jamie Baron (58:02); Jonathan Shuman (58:52); Peter Mitchener (61:27); Tim Perkins (64:28); Graeme Stopp (65:42); David Garnett (73:34); Hollie Galvin – who was delighted to match her time from last year’s race in significantly more challenging conditions (79:05) – a fast improving Adrian Courtenay (81:21); Adele Steptoe (82:43); Rich Smith (85:27); Catherine Mason (86:03) and Bob Spawton (86:33).

Similarly muddy and slippery offroad conditions were encountered at the Pendock Spring Chicken 10k, where Ingrid Harris missed out by seconds on winning her age category (55:08).  Julie Averiss (82:23) and Coralie Pearson (83:07) also completed the challenging course, while Ray Pearson took on the 5k race (44:05).

Going longer and muddier still were two of the club’s offroad queens: Natalie Greening, who tackled 15 miles of mud and floodwater over 2,000 feet of ascent at The Big Cheese offroad fell race in Cheddar, Somerset (3:58:33) and Lesley Cottle, who conquered in excess of 3,000 feet of ascent at the fabled 20-mile Grizzly – The Good, The Bad and The Grizzly – in Seaton, Devon (5:09:58).

Not content with mud alone, Glenda Gill, Claire Hawes, Steve and Helen Yarnold added water to the mix at the second race in the Tewkesbury Winter aquathlon series, Claire placing second in her age category and Steve placing third in his.

With marathon training in full swing for some club members, many took to the roads to measure their progress.  Mike Johnstone shone at the Milton Keynes Festival of Running 20-mile race, crossing the line in in 36th place in 2:09:32.  Not only was this a new personal best but Mike also set a new MV45 club record, knocking some five minutes off the previous record held by Rich Birch, which had stood for five years to the day. 

Also in Milton Keynes, multi marathoner Allan Green completed day three of the Enigma Week at the Knees seven marathons in seven days challenge – nine laps of Willen Lakeside Park – in 5:12:27 and followed it up a few days later with another strong performance at the Great Welsh marathon in Carmarthenshire (4:45:44).

A quartet of Almost Athletes represented the club at Bath half marathon: Nathan Newton (1:37:09); Steve Phelps (1:49:42); Catherine Williams (1:50:11) and David Chittock (1:54:57), while Sue Sturgeon flew the flag as the sole member running at Liverpool half marathon.  This was Sue’s first ever half marathon and she battled through to complete it in 3:02:30. Rose Hubbard (1:44:02); Neil Taylor (1:45:40) and Janine Bennett (2:21:04) raced the Carlisle half marathon, the latter two the day after taking part in Jesmond Dene parkrun.

This week’s half marathon overseas action was marked by hugely contrasting weather conditions – cold and windy at the Rock and Roll Washington DC event, which saw Ian Poole put in a strong performance to finish in 1:41:16.  Meanwhile Karla Cleverley did well to complete the EDP Lisbon half marathon, the opening race in the 2024 SuperHalfs season, in uncomfortably hot conditions (3:32:58). 

Almost Athletes participated in many different parkruns around the country again this week.  Elliot Jordan was third across the line at Evesham parkrun and Chris McMahon clocked his fastest parkrun of the year at Gloucester City.  Further afield Sue Low and Brian Maggs visited Cannon Hill, Birmingham; Kate Bestwick took on a hilly parkrun in Barnsley and Leah Maddiss broke off from her long-distance Hadrian’s Wall walk to take in Jesmond Dene parkrun, another hilly parkrun in Newcastle upon Tyne.  Piotr Michalski visited Victoria Dock, which leaves him with just two letters of the parkrun alphabet to bag, to complete his parkrun alphabet challenge.

There was also an Almost Athlete presence at Ashton Court, Bolberry Down, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Didcot, Gladstone, Harcourt Hill, Marlborough Common, Newent, Oak Hill, Oaklands, Peel, Pontypool, Sandhurst Memorial, Stratford upon Avon, Tawd Valley, Tetbury Goods Shed, Thornbury and Wolverhampton.

Below is a selection of photos.

Patricia Dendy Shines at National Championships!

Race Report for 10 March by Claire Hawes

The club’s Women’s Cross-Country Team captain Patricia Dendy shone on the national stage this weekend. On Monday last week she discovered that she had qualified to represent Gloucestershire in the UK CAU Inter Counties Cross Country Championships to be held on Saturday at Wollaton Park in Nottinghamshire. Patricia more than held her own and finished the tough 8km course in 30:16, coming 161st out of the 257 runners. We’re very proud of her!

Also in the Midlands but this time the Black Country, Rachael Nolan and Coralie Pearson completed the ‘Dirt Run Ultra in the Black Country’ – a challenging 33 miles of muddy trails. Quite the baptism of fire (mud?) for Rachael doing her first Ultra, she finished in 9 hrs 15 and Coralie in 8 hrs 23.

Ingrid Harris was another Almost heading up the M5 for her race. Ingrid finished the hilly (and wet!) Codopoly marathon near Ironbridge in 4 hrs 12.

On an otherwise quiet weekend racing-wise there were of course notable performances at various parkruns. Sarah Wood was 1st lady at Newent parkrun while at Etna in Sicily Mike Bryce claimed first male and second finisher overall. At Mundy parkrun Ben Taylor was first finisher. Peter Mitchener achieved his best parkrun time since 2019 and his highest ever age-grading at Cheltenham. Dave Nelson also notched up his fastest Cheltenham time since 2019 and it was a family affair for Kate Bestwick who was joined by her son and daughter at the original home of parkrun, Bushy Park.

Other parkruns visited by Almost Athletes were: Riverfront, Shipley Country, Warrington, Walsall Arboretum, Wotton, Delamere, Blandford, Tamar Lakes, Evesham (Elliott Jordan being third finisher), Tewkesbury, Worthing, Cirencester, Gloucester City, Kräherwald, KGV Playing Field, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Sandhurst Memorial, Peel, Grove Fields,
University Parks, and Abbey Park.

 

Parkrun Tourism and Much More.

Race Report for 4 March by Nicole Hope

It was another busy weekend for the Almost Athletes, running in local, national and international races. On Saturday, Peter Mitchener, Elliot Jordan, Paul Jones and Forrest Wheeler volunteered as pacers at Cheltenham parkrun. Rachael Nolan and Coralie Pearson travelled to Poznan parkrun in Poland, whilst Alison and Rob Hume ran at a wet and windy Groe parkrun in Builth Wells. Neil Tring finished first in age category at Leamington parkrun, and Janine Bennett completed the 5km distance at Cwmbran parkrun. Victoria and Mike Kennedy ran at Arrow Valley parkrun, and Joanne Johnson completed Porthcawl parkrun. Almosts were also represented at Lydney parkrun, Mole Valley parkrun and Severn Valley Country parkrun to name a few! In Wales, and in some testing weather conditions, a small group of Almosts completed the Rhayader Round The Lakes race. Over the 10km distance, Sheila Chatterley finished in 01:03:29 to finish 2nd in age category and Sam McGrath finished in 01:05:48 to secure 3rd in age category. Running in the 30km distance, Jeanette Gullick was the first Almost home in a time of 02:43:22, followed by Dave McGrath (02:52:39) and Steve Taylor (02:55:32). Sarah Wallbridge completed the race in 03:11:19 (3rd in age category). Great running all!

On Sunday, Clive Baker completed the Newport half marathon, in support of CALM, in a time of 01:48:51, whilst in Cambridge half marathon, Matt John gained a personal best time of 01:44:05. Claire Hawes ran the Bradleys Exmouth 10km in 01:08:33, with Almost Athlete Lesley Cottle volunteering as a marshal on the same event. Slightly further afield, and in a warmer climate, Matt Barnes was the first Almost Athlete across the line in Cyprus marathon in a time of 03:20:30. Fi Barnes completed the distance in 04:06:43 and Mark Willicott in 04:09:25. Marathon man Allan Green was also running in the Cyprus marathon, and finished in 04:36 which earnt him a 2nd in age category trophy. Well done all!

Slightly closer to home, and in cooler conditions, a trio of Almosts completed the Ashton 5km. Christine Harley (28:29), Pauline Bargus (28:32) and Chaweewan Hartley (28:39) ran the race set in Ashton-under-Hill. Another weekend of great running by the Almost Athletes.

Records and PBs Shattered at Bourton.

Race Report for 26 February by Dave Nelson

A busy week for Almost Athletes saw the ever-popular Bourton Roadrunners 10k be the main event for the club. The race saw an amazing 38 club members compete, and some fantastic results were achieved.

Leading the club home was Alice Tredgett, continuing her incredible recent form to finish as 4th lady in 37:11; smashing both her 10k PB and the senior ladies’ club record for the distance. Also achieving the PB and club record double was Patricia Dendy, taking over 2 minutes off her PB to achieve her first ever sub-40 finish. Pat finished in 39:58, achieving the new LV40 record, and coming third in her age category in the process. Karen Galpin then made it a trifecta of new club records, finishing in 48:27 to set the new LV60 mark. Some fabulous running from the ladies!

Aside from those record-breaking exploits, a whole host of other Almosts achieved new 10k PBs at Bourton. Steve Axford (38:55), Johnny Rea (39:47), Richard Knightley (43:39), and Steven Wood (44:58) all set new highs for themselves. Meanwhile, Lesley Cottle won the LV65 age category in 55:40, while Sue Low was third in the same category in 1:07:38. Finally, making a very welcome return to racing after being badly ill was Mark Stojanov, who marked his final appearance in purple for a while by coming home in 1:23:05.

Also running were Josh Hand, Katie Coleman, Jonathan Shuman, Declan Walker, John Johnson, Joanne Johnson, James Fyrne, Michael Smith, Duncan Eeles, Mark Wreford-Bush, Neil Tring, Timothy Perkins, Amy Broomhall, Peter Mitchener, Hayley Woolnough, Alison Hume, Carl Methven, Carole Doherty, Deb Cartlidge, Jane Russell, Adele Steptoe, Bob Spawton, Felicity Read, Heather Smith, Helen Motteram, Glenda Gill, Melanie Methven, and Sue Sturgeon.

Away from Bourton, there were some excellent performances elsewhere. In London, Ursula Bowd set a new 10k PB at the Winter Run, finishing in 56:55. Also competing were father and daughter duo Simon and Lauren Morgan, finishing in 52:38 and 54:11 respectively; as well as Josh Hepplewhite (50:51) and Clare Bone (57:10).

In Bath, the regular Two Tunnels event was held. Phil Brewer competed in the 5k event, setting a new PB of 28:00; while Forrest Wheeler (1:19:11) and Jeff Tibbles (1:18:21) took part over the 10k distance. As always, marathon man Allan Green continued to amaze us all, completing the 26.2 mile distance twice this week; firstly running the Badger Challenge Marathon in 5:51, then following that up with the very challenging and, unsurprisingly, muddy Big Mud Marathon in 6:44.

Claire Hawes, Steve Yarnold and Helen Yarnold all took part in the first race of the Tewkesbury Tri Club Aquathlon series. Claire finished 1st in her age group, while Steve finished 2nd in his.

In warmer climes, Elliot Jordan completed the Torrevieja Half Marathon in Spain in a fantastic time of 1:32. Furthest travelled, however, was Karla Cleverley, who ran a half marathon in Christchurch, New Zealand in 3:29 – a result she was delighted with given the heat, carrying an injury, and not having trained!

Away from racing, there was, as always, excellent club representation at parkruns near and far.  Simon Lewis ran his first event in club colours at The Great Field parkrun in Poundbury, Dorchester. There were age category wins for Rita Crane (course PB) at Kingsway; Matt Polson at Wilmslow; Catherine Williams (course PB) and Jeanette Gullick at Mallards Pike; Brian Maggs at Ganger Farm; Dave Nelson at Whitekirk Hill; Sarah Wood at Cheltenham; and Alistair Mathew at Woolacombe Dunes. There were also age category placings for Hester Coggin at Kingsway; Steven Adams at Newent; Sharon Hadad at Rogiet; Julie Averiss at Aberbeeg; Graeme Stopp and Carl Methven at Mallards Pike (both course PBs); Robert Foord at Berkeley Green; Hamish Adamson at Aston Hall; and Christine Harker, Cathy Booth, and Peter Morris at Cheltenham.

Members also ran at Cardiff, Grovelands, Dudley, Bath Skyline, Bournemouth, Pontypridd, Gloucester City, Clevedon Salthouse Fields, Sandhurst Memorial, and Five Arches.

Another superb week of running from the club – well done everyone!

Below is a selection of photos.

Another Busy Week for Almosts…

Race Report for 18 February by Josh Hands.

In the world of parkrun, Sarah Wood ran a season best at Arrow Valley in 22:30, and Neil Tring cruised to a 23:05 at Brunswick Park; both were first in their respective age categories. Strong running! Piotr Michalski is getting closer to completing the parkrun ‘alphabet’ challenge, and picked up a ‘J’ at Jersey parkrun, St Albans. Meanwhile, kicking off an action-packed day of running in Pittville Park, Cheltenham parkrun celebrated its 11th birthday, ably directed by Club Chairman, Pete Mitchener. Edward Briggs was first home for the club in 20:44.

 

The Gloucestershire Cross Country League came to a head with the season finale taking place in Pittville Park. 35 Almost Athletes donned the beloved purple and yellow and took on mud, hills, twists and no less than three river crossings! Mike Johnstone was first home for the club in 38:34. Top five age category finishes in the men’s race were claimed by Nick Lewis, Dave McGrath, Adrian Courtenay and Neil Tring. Leading the club’s women home was Alice Tredgett in 28:14 as sixth senior lady. Patricia Dendy followed closely behind and was third LV40. Further top five age category placings were achieved by Isobel Atkin, Victoria Willoughby, Ingrid Harris and Charlotte Jamieson. Well done to everyone who helped contribute to such a special atmosphere in the park. Almost Athletes held on to the crown of ‘best tent in the league’!

 

With the cross-country series now concluded, we are delighted for Patricia Dendy who was crowned series bronze medallist in her category – very well done.

 

A classic on the local racing scene, Dursley Dozen was wet and slippery like never before! A 12 mile route with nearly 2000ft of ascent, it was great to see seven club members successfully completing this challenging event. Alistair Matthew was first home for the club in 1:42 and 21st overall. Olga Goffin was third in the FV35-39 and Ingrid Harris second FV60-64.

 

In events beyond Gloucestershire, Dan Magovern completed the Birmingham Running Festival half marathon in a cracking time of 2:03. And before the weekend was even upon us, Ingrid Harris and Allan Green headed towards Windsor Castle for the Jubilee River Trail Marathon; Ingrid finished second lady. Whilst for Allan it was a mere warm up for another marathon on Sunday(!), completing the Saturn S Run marathon in 5:30.

Mud? What Mud?

Race Report for 11 February by Claire Hawes.

This weekend saw Almosts concentrating on events closer to home after the sunshine of Torremolinos.  Hollie Galvin took on the all-too-aptly named Muddy Woody 6, a challenging 6 mile race through Haugh Woods in Herefordshire. There were 1000 ft of elevation, tough climbs and technical descents plus a water crossing and of course, a great deal of mud! Hollie completed the race in 1:18:10

 

Mark Eavers chose a novel way to mark Charles Darwin Day (who even knew there was Charles Darwin Day?!) last Friday by travelling to Shrewsbury for the Charles Darwin Day Half Marathon. Mark finished this course of multiple laps at Shrewsbury Sports Village in 2:08:31. Another Almost taking on a race of many laps was Marathon Supremo Allan Green who ran his weekly marathon at the Goodwood Motor Circuit marathon, finishing the 11 laps in 4 hrs 55. Allan was slightly disappointed with his time but then he had come first in his age category at Cheltenham Parkrun the day before!
Neil Tring also took first place in his age category, this time at Grangemoor Parkrun in Cardiff.
Janine Bennett and Neil Taylor travelled a little further for their parkrun fix visiting the home of parkrun at Bushy Park before taking on Victoria Park Half the next day. In the Half Janine claimed second place in her age group
in a time of 2:28:05. Other parkruns visited by Almosts this week were: Finsbury, Kingsway, Forest of Dean, York, Newbury, Southport, Eastville, Mile End, Cheltenham – where Amy Sheer did her first ever Parkrun! – Porthcawl, Chipping Sodbury, St Anne’s, Lydney, Ludlow, Exmouth, Gloucester City, Marlborough Common, Isabel Trail, Mundy (Ben Taylor finishing 2nd overall), Irchester Country, Peel, Marine Parade, Aberfields, and Five Arches

 

Third Round of The Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country Series and Much More

Race Report for 8 January by Dave Nelson.

It was a reasonably quiet start to 2024 for Almost Athletes, although some members did find ways to keep themselves busy despite the relatively low number of races taking place this past weekend. First off, Mark Eavers headed off to Norway to run the Polar Night Mørketidsmila 10km race in Tromsø; where the conditions were challenging to say the least! In temperatures that were offically -3C but actually felt like -10C due to wind chill, Mark completed the race in 1:04:32.

The main event of the weekend for the club was the third round of the Gloucestershire AAA Cross Country series. This week’s races were held at Cotswold Farm Park, and saw some strong performances from the club’s representatives. The standout performance came from Neil Tring, who finished 2nd in his age category in the men’s master’s race. Dave McGrath took 5th in his age category in the senior men’s race; while in the ladies’ race there were excellent performances from Patricia Dendy and Ingrid Harris, who both finished 4th in their respective categories. As well as these great results, there were top 10 age category finishes for Alistair Mathew (10th), Nick Lewis (8th), Peter Mitchener (10th), and David Garnett (10th) in the senior men’s race; Adrian Courtenay (7th) in the master’s men’s race; and for Isobel Atkin (7th), Jo Johnson (9th), Nichola Sanderson (9th), and Catherine Mason (10th) in the ladies’ race.

Also representing the club were Hamish Adamson, Jonathan Shuman, Jamie Baron, Sam Pegler, John Johnson, Elliot Jordan, Josh Hand, Steve Taylor, Steve Phelps, Oliver Bell, Clemens Orth, Rich Smith, Barry Irvine, Mike Line, Katie Coleman, Amy Broomhall, and Sophie Groves.

Elsewhere, Lesley Cottle took on the Walter Raleigh Round Half in Budleigh Salterton, completing the muddy and undulating trail route in 2:37:34; while Allan Green ran his customary marathon, finishing the Winter Enigma race in Milton Keynes in 5:06:45.

As always, Almosts kept themselves busy at a variety of parkruns on Saturday morning. The largest volume of members was naturally at Cheltenham, where there were a number of strong performances put in. Age category wins were achieved by Peter Morris, Alison Hume and Christine Harker; while placings were gained by Lewis Jones (2nd), Catherine Williams (2nd), Sarah Wood (2nd), Janine Bennett (3rd), and Sue Sturgeon (3rd).

Ben Taylor finished 3rd overall at Mundy parkrun in Canada, and Matt Polson was 9th overall at Peel (2nd in category). At Aberbeeg, Dave Nelson continued his recent improvement to run his fastest 5k since 2020.

A contingent of 8 went on tour to Eastville parkrun in Bristol, with Carl Methven leading the club home at that particular event, and Julia Whittaker finished 3rd in her age category. Corinne Cooper bagged a course PB at Cardiff, while Deb Cartlidge did the same at Kingsway, taking 2nd in her age category in the process. At Great Notley, Richard Knightley took top spot in his category; as did Leah Maddiss at Oaklands, while Sharon Hadad took 3rd in hers at Severn Bridge and Lynne Macedo 2nd in hers at Gloucester City.

Members also ran at Arrow Valley, Worcester, Mile End, Chippenham, Chipping Sodbury, Rushmoor, Blandford

Our 2024 Linda Franks Race…  And more besides

Storm Isha provided many runners with a welcome speed boost this Sunday as they attended the ever popular Linda Franks 5 mile race. Organised by Almost Athlete stalwart Phil Jeyes and well supported by volunteers from the club, the 5 mile road race around Up Hatherly is a staple in many club members’ race calendar. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, it is the first in the club’s road race series as well as the Gloucestershire Amateur Athletics Association race series so was well attended. Funds raised at the post race cake table will be donated to Heidi’s Heroes, a Cheltenham based charity.

As the weather stayed kind during the morning many club members achieved personal best times over the distance. A trip from Manchester was well worth the effort for Matt Polson who was the first male Almost home in 30:06. Alice Tredgett was hot on his heels, following just 19 seconds later to come home as first female Almost in 30:25 as well as third senior lady. Alice’s time was a staggering 2 minutes quicker than her previous personal best over this distance. Patricia Dendy (32:38) won her age group with a personal best beating her previous time by 1 minute. Alice and Patricia were joined by Amy Sheer to take the women’s first team prize.

Other notable performances on Sunday morning were from Mark James, who achieved a personal best of 42:37. Dave Nelson completed the 5 miles in 49:33 which is his third fastest time over the distance, with a 2:30 minute post COVID personal best and an incredible 4:30 improvement on his efforts last year. Neil Tring was second in his age category with a time of 36:31. Hayley Woolnough came 3rd in her age category with a time of 39:42, Dave McGrath came fifth in his age category in 33:28 and Cathy Booth came third in her age category coming home in 47:13. Overall 83 club members ran and many others supported on the day, marshalling, manning water stations or providing encouragement to runners.

Further afield, Tony Heap completed Farnborough half marathon as part of his training for his upcoming spring marathon. Despite challenging conditions, he completed the course in 2:08:50, setting him good stead for his upcoming longer distance.

It was a weekend for exploring other parkrun venues for many on Saturday morning. Neil Tring was first in his age category at Aston Hall, Birmingham with a time of 23:43 coming twelfth in a field of 99 – with 93 other runners also being tourists to the venue due to this being its 10th event. Jason Hulance joined Neil at Aston Hall with a time of 27:55. Several other Almosts travelled to the similarly named Ashton Court in Bristol for their touristing, with Graeme Stopp (25:32), Kate Nichol (29:47), Cheryl Rodham (30:29), Felicity Read (31:13), Melanie and Carl Methven (35:17 and 35:48 respectively), Corinne Cooper (36:09), Jason Bone (39:05) and Jeff Tibbles (39:05) making the trip down the M5. Thomas Wood (26:08), Robert Dalton-Morris (26:23), Piotr Michalski (26:27), Coralie Pearson (31:57) and Ray Pearson (41:59) drove in the opposite direction north to Solihull for Brueton parkrun. As always, there was a strong turn out of Almosts at the Cheltenham and Gloucester parkruns.

 

A selection of photos from our 2024 Linda Franks road race.

Park Life for Almosts

With the current Gloucestershire AAAs season yet to conclude, last week was time to honour 2023 achievements. Alison Hume and Sally Mckinlay collected the Ladies Open Shield for which 17 members had contributed points while Allan Green received his age category Shield.       

With the new running year only days old, parkruns provided the focus for Almosts tuning up for the greater challenges ahead. None more so than Johnny and Caroline (Caz) Rea who continued their fine recent form at the Cheltenham parkrun. Johnny recorded an overall PB in 19:15 enough to earn a 9th place male finish. Caz meanwhile completed a course PB of 28:55, a step closer to her new year sub 28 goal. Lewis Jones and Steven Wood also completed top 50 finishes in 20:36 and 21:29 respectively at the same event. Meanwhile at King George V Playing Fields Ross Greening completed a credit worthy run in 24:28 with Sarah Harford first female Almost over the line in 27:27. Over in Gloucester Catherine Williams recorded 23:58 for a 4th gender finish at Kingsway parkrun while Elliot Jordan completed the Gloucester City parkrun in 20:58 for a 12th overall finish. Across the border in Wiltshire Neil Tring came first in the MV65 category and finished 11th overall in 22:42 at the Melksham parkrun. Out of the county Sue Low collected her last letter in pursuit of the alphabet challenge at Valentines parkrun while Jason Hulance and Zakia Hussain ensured an Almost presence at the inaugural Brunswick Park parkrun in Wednesbury, West Midlands. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Ela Antosiewicz celebrated a birthday at the Zuiderpark parkrun in The Hague with a top 50 finish in 24:58. Almost Athletes were also present at Cirencester, Blandford, Severn Bridge, Pontypool, Tetbury Goods Shed, and  Peel among other places.

Among other events Kirstie Hallam (1:54), Mariel Chretien (2:05), and Glenda Gill ( 2:08) were AAs completing a 9.6 mile off road circuit for the Riverbank Rollick organised by Thornbury RC. Ryan Hardiman came home in 48:04 and 34th place in the Wye Valley and Priestfield Park night race over a 5.3 mile course for which fellow Almost member Christopher Benjamin provided tail runner services. Ingrid Harris and Allan Green travelled 100 miles at the weekend to complete an 8-lap circuit of the Thames for the Doughnut Dash at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in times of 4:13 and 5:46 respectively. It is presumed they took advantage of the confectionery treats to refuel. Finally, congratulations are due  to Robert Dalton-Morris who achieved a long held wish to complete the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge in the Maldives – dirty work but it has to be done. This required 4 miles of running every 4 hours for 2 days amounting to a hefty 48 miles. Robert cunningly applied his jetlag to cope with the hours of darkness but still had to deal with 32 degrees and 90% humidity. Well done that man.