Newsletter December 2017

SMART goals for 2018 

2017 is now behind us and, with a new year ahead, most of you will be thinking about new goals. When it comes to setting them, whether they’re in running or in other aspects of your life, the key word is SMART- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

When you think about what you’d like to achieve make sure you are Specific and the result is Measurable. Saying you want to run faster is not a specific goal. Saying you want to beat your parkrun PB is not measurable. On the other hand, saying you want to take a minute off your parkrun PB is a specific, measurable goal and will keep you motivated by giving you a definite result to aim for.

If you want to succeed you also need to make your goal Achievable. Grandiose, over the top goals may sound good and make you feel slightly smug and excited but, chances are, if you aim too high or get too ambitious, it will all end in disappointment or injury. Let’s face it, running a marathon a month or knocking ten minutes off your parkrun PB is going to be a huge ask for most people. In other words, don’t try to do the impossible. Start by looking at your previous performance, then choose something you think you can achieve if you push yourself. It also needs to be Relevant. Just because something is popular, such as running a marathon or completing a Triathlon, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for you. To succeed you need to choose something you really want to do, not something everyone else is doing. Finally, and most importantly, you need to set a deadline for your goal. Having a Timed goal gives you something concrete to aim for and keeps you motivated.

So, when you are thinking about your goals for the year ahead, remember to be SMART. Also remember nothing is set in stone. If the goal you set turns out to be easier or harder than expected, or if circumstances or injuries get in the way, don’t beat yourself up. Just go back to the drawing board and make adjustments or start over.

Party time!

December kicked off with the End of Year Awards Party. The evening was a great success thanks to all the behind the scenes efforts by Amanda, Amelia, Jan, Emma, Sue and a huge team of setting up elves plus music provided by DJ’s Lee and Kali. It was great to see everyone out of their sweaty, muddy running kit, all polished up in their glad rags, even if it wasn’t always easy to recognise people with their clothes on. There was singing, dancing, a lot of drinking, a little bit of food and some dressing up, not to mention some amazing raffle prizes and a tombola.

Local businesses and members donated some amazing prizes, including…

Alton Sports – £75 shoe voucher
Garmin – FR10
Tasha Ault – Two Pain Relief Sessions
David L’Enfant – £50 Next voucher
Rees Leisure – An ABP/Winchester race place plus an ABP Hoody
Meeje and Deeje – 2 Immortal 14 mile race places
MGN Inventories – Afternoon tea for two at Grand Café
ISRC – Rain jacket
Longdown Dairy – A Family pass
Vospers – A £40 voucher
Supermarine – two £25 vouchers
Owtons – A  £20 voucher
Ed’s Diner – A £20 voucher
The Chalks – Post run care package
Princess Cruises – A robe, towel, diary, pen and  luggage tag
Hendy Ford – V8 – build your own engine and Acme fitness trackers
Dryrobe –  A Hat
Staunton- A child ticket
Manor Farm – 1 adult and 1 child ticket
Solent cleaners – Two £5 vouchers
Active Nation – A Family swim at Bitterne Leisure Centre, a family swim at the Quays and 2 badminton sessions at Chamberlayne

If any of the lucky winners don’t want their fabulous prize, you know how to contact me. I’ll be more than happy to take it off your hands.

Of course, the main focus was on the awards and, after a massive amount of collating of stats and number crunching, Gill finally put everyone out of their misery and announced the results of the  Club Championship.

The most improved parkrun PB went Chris Horn
The Championship age graded winners were
18-29 Mitchel Robson & Lauren Sherman
30-39 Keith Harris & Helen Bonaer
40-49 Richard Diggle & Lucy Ashton
50+ Dave Chalk & Sue Haig
The Overall most improved was Helen Bonaer

London Marathon places went to Beverley Lawrence and Chris Walker. Time to get training guys!

There were awards too for all the Run Leaders who work hard all year planning routes and sessions and standing around in the cold while everyone else runs, and for the committee members who do all sorts of clever organising behind the scenes to make everything happen. Finally, after all the votes were counted, the Spitfire of the Year was announced. This year’s winner was Dave Keates, who, despite some serious health issues, has continued to offer support and encouragement at events and on club nights, and paced countless people to PB’s.

After the awards it was time for more dancing, singing and drinking. Then, when everyone had set off on wobbly, meandering walks home or stumbled into taxis, the clearing up elves tidied everything away and cleaned up all the mess. Sadly, during all this poor Tash slipped and broke her arm. Believe it or not it was all down to the alcohol on the floor rather than any she’d drunk. Thanks to Kev and Julie Mills she was whisked off to hospital and, hopefully, she will be back running soon.

Interview with a Spitfire 

So, without further ado, it’s time to find out a little more about the Spitfire of the Year, Dave Keates.

How  does it feel to be chosen as Spitfire of the Year? 

It’s a very humbling experience to be voted as SOTY. It’s always felt both right and also a privilege to be part of the spitfire family and everything that it entails. On the night, when John read out my name, I was both overcome with sheer joy, and also bricking it about having to say a few words in front of everybody (talking is not normally a problem for me!!). That said, I couldn’t be more proud.

This year you’ve struggled with health issues and were unable to run for a long time. How did you motivate yourself to get back to running?

In June, my doctor told me to forget running. I used his words and my “middle finger” attitude to life, to motivate myself and turn the situation around. Another source of motivation for me was that I could never turn my back on the sport I love, the people I’ve met, and the friends I’ve made. It also helps to set an achievable goal. My good friend and very persuasive running legend, Rob Kelly, got me to sign up as a solo runner in a 24hr endurance event, seven weeks after my original diagnosis. I couldn’t let him down could I?!

What advice would you give to other runners coming back from injury or illness?

I’ve been injured/ill twice now and learnt from both times.The first big hurdle is FOMO (fear of missing out!). I overcame this by getting involved even when I wasn’t running, by going to the RR10’s, club nights and track sessions where I could, and also volunteering at parkrun etc. Another thing is to be realistic about the time that recovery will take. Take your time, listen to your body and any good physios that might be treating you or you’ll suffer setbacks.

You often pace people to help them achieve PB’s. What is the secret to being a good pacer?

I have an ability to run, once I’m “locked on” to a predetermined pace, for mile after mile. I enjoy pacing at all distances and personally for me, talking to the person , inspiring their confidence and knowing how hard you can push them are all important. One danger to look out for if you’re pacing as part of a duo etc, is that you can get chatting and revert to a default pace which is usually too quick. This happened to Paul Shave and I at Winchester but we had a great laugh and got it right in the end!

If you could go running anywhere in the world where would it be?

Anywhere as long as my wife is with me! That said, I have a growing list of countries and places to run in, from Vancouver (unfinished business), the Great Wall of China, Marrakech, Oregon Trail, Banff (Canada)… this list goes on!

Will you be making any New Year’s Resolutions and, if so, what are they?

I don’t make resolutions as such but if I can have a year in which I stay injury free (and you all as well!), and that I  can use the words “run” and “enjoy” in the same sentence as often as possible, then I’ll be happy.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

To understand the inner workings of the female mind would be an amazing superpower!!! Seriously though, I’d love to be able to run like the “flash,” fly like superman, and be invisible like that invisible dude. With the combination of those abilities, I’m sure I could put a lot of the worlds wrongs to right!

The Spitfire’s third birthday 

The Itchen Spitfires Running Club turned three years old this month so, on 7 December when everyone gathered for the Thursday session, it was time to celebrate. Back in 2014, John and Rachel were searching for a Running Club where everyone would be included no matter if they were fast or slow, young or old. They tried lots of different clubs, but none was quite right for them. In the end they realised the only way they were going to be part of the kind of club they wanted, was to start their own. It all began with a handful of like minded runners but it has grown into a community who support each other through triumphs and disappointments, just as they envisioned.

The Spitfire’s Birthday celebration may have fallen on a cold, dark night but the Millennium Garden was all lit up for Christmas and the Spitfires gathered around the feather sculpture were making sure they could be seen with lots of high vis colours and lights.  Everyone ran off into the darkness knowing no one would be left behind and there’d be cake waiting when they got back. What more could you want from a club night?

Upcoming events 

Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events

This is not a complete list of all races. Check out the club calendar for up to date events news.

The last CC6 of 2017


The weather wasn’t kind for the last CC6 of the year at Janesmoor Pond. Just getting across the heathland to the start was a challenging slippery mud fest. The wind, rain and mud didn’t put off all the Spitfires who turned up to run or help though. In fact so many were wearing Santa hats the team photo looked a little bit like a Santa convention. The event was marshalled by a team of high vis wearing Santas from Wessex and Lordshill and they had a few tricks up their red, fur trimmed sleeves to boost morale. Santas and elves hid in the woods and handed out jelly babies to soggy, mud encrusted runners and there was even some festive music from Roger and his tuba.

The course was one long muddy puddle with a lot of slipping and sliding and several falls. Yards from the finish line a particularly big slippery puddle brought a few runners down. One landed face first right in front of Paul Leeming and had trouble getting back up. In true Spitfire spirit, Paul stopped to help him up and ran the last yards with him. The race ended with some well earned cake and a lot of muddy runners squelching back across the heath to their warm, dry cars.

Bovington, hills, mud and an extra 5k

Thanks to some forward planning by Helen Arwen Bonaer the Spitfires travelled to the Bovington Half Marathon in a special Spitfire Fun Bus. This meant the fun started early and a little bird tells me there may have been some alcohol consumed. Given the cold day and the hilly, muddy course, designed for tanks rather than humans, a little numbing alcohol may not have been a bad plan.

To say this was a challenging half marathon is probably an understatement. The mud was a given but there were also hills big enough to make even a Spitfire blanch, deep tank tracks to negotiate and puddles that would almost qualify this race as a duathlon. In the middle of all the mayhem there was a Lovestation. At mile eleven Hannah and Leah showed the Spitfire spirit when they came across a fallen runner. They refused to leave her behind and helped her make it to the finish line.

White Star races have a reputation for being tough and slightly longer than expected but the course measuring fairies for this race might want to invest in some new tape measures. The half marathon turned out it be sixteen and a half miles long! Still, there were some great goodie bags, some humongous tank themed medals and a discount for entry into the Tank Museum for those who made it through the mud. There was also a Fun Bus to carry the muddy heroes home. Alcohol was definitely consumed on the way back.

Reflecting on 2017

December is a time for plans and resolutions but it’s also a time for reflection on the year just passed. With that in mind I thought I’d end the year with a whirlwind tour of some of the highlights of of 2017. It all began in January with a hangover busting parkrun double. There was also a CC6 double to start the year. At Badger Farm there was fog and mud.  At Kings Garn Enclosure there was ice and mud.

February kicked off with the first of Gill’s coaching sessions at the Sports Centre. Then everyone had the chance to practice what they’d learned at a quartet of races. There was the Chichester 10k at Goodwood, the Muddy Beach Run in Portsmouth, the Castle to Castle in Portchester and the penultimate CC6 at Denny Wood.

In March Meeje spent a special birthday with a team of Spitfires running through mud at Larmer Tree. The CC6 series ended at an equally muddy Wilverley, where Kylie and I almost got trampled by ponies. Late in the month the 33rd Eastleigh 10k was overrun with Spitfires and Spitfire pacers.

April was all about Marathons. There were Spitfires running in Manchester, Brighton, London and, of course Southampton. The Southampton finish line was manned by amazing Spitfire  marshals. There were also Spitfire marshals at the first RR10 of the year in Victoria Country Park.

May is a month with two bank holidays. There were also three RR10’s, at Stoney Cross, Wilverley and Blackfield to put new team captains, Adam and Tash, to the test. The second bank holiday weekend saw Scott Dawson joined by a small team of Spitfires for his attempt to add to his sail and swim around the Isle of Wight by cycling and running round it in one weekend. This would make him the only person to circumnavigate the Island by swimming, cycling, running and sailing! Sadly, although he managed the impressive cycling feat, he was defeated at mile 48 when it came to the running. Even so, it was a major achievement.

June saw the start of the warm weather and the Club Championship at the D Day 10k in Cosham. The men’s team of Paddy Connors, Jamie Foster and Ian Howard and the women’s team of Lulu Ashton, Tash Avery and Hannah Lawless both came in third. There were also ten Spitfire top ten age category finishers, Tash Avery, Amanda Chalk, David Chalk, Sue Haig, Ian Howard, Darren Palmer, Gerry Robson, Mitchell Robson, Teresa Robson and Rachel Jordan Sutch! For a bit of fun there was a cheeky fifteen mile run from Winchester to Woolston with a walking group for the injured and the non runners. Bringing the first half of 2017 to a close there was an RR10  at Manor Farm.

All that was just the first half of 2017. Next month I’ll share the highlights of the second half of the year.

December PB’s


The year may have been coming to an end but there was still time to squeeze in a few more PB’s. Thanks to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who appears on it.




Cameron Sommerville-Hewitt 19.3
Gareth Evans 19.37
Dave Keates 21.17
Charlotte Rennie 23.37
Perri Seymour 32.54
Jennifer Fradgley 23.09
Gemma Waughman 27.37
Leah Tavner 22.27
Abigail Hamilton 24.11
Helen L’Enfant 29.13
Vikki Lodge 29.56
Taylor Cooper 27.36
George Bowers 32.12
Grace Bowers 34.12

Junior Parkrun

George Bowers 11.12
Gregory Bowers 15.07


Taylor Cooper 57.2
Andy Ward 44.19
Gillam McClure 39.11


Jonathon Barnard 3:51:29
Andy Ward 4:37:11


Tree Hamer 6:40:01 50k
Michelle Ritchie 6:39:58 50k
Diane Abraham 5:45:26 50k

Longest run 16.5 miles

Sam Cox
Alana Jayne Williams
Lou Lou Pead
Elizabeth Smith
Emily Akerman

Whose Tattoo? 

You may think you know all the Spitfires but can you tell which of them these tattoos belong to?

Did you spot the Woolston Landmarks from last month? If not here are the answers.

Club run/pub run 

Photos thanks to Lindsay Bowers

The last Thursday run before Christmas was the traditional Club Run/Pub Run with all groups heading for the City Centre and the German Market via as many pubs as they could manage. There was even a walking group so the non runners and the injured could take part. This was one run where being ‘lit up like a  Christmas tree’ was obligatory and there were a variety of bright costumes, lights, glo sticks and sparkly tinsel adorning the Spitfires who gathered at the Feather. 

Being fast had definite advantages as it meant time to fit in more pubs. Even so, no one missed out as the run ended at The Yacht Tavern where there was plenty of time for drinks and chat. What a great way to celebrate Christmas!

Photos thanks to Lindsay Bowers

Christmas parkrun

On Christmas morning sensible people can be found sitting in front of their fires in their pyjamas opening presents. Some people never let good sense get in the way of a run though and a bunch of mad dedicated parkrunners broke out the Christmas costumes and gathered in the cold rain for the Christmas Day parkrun. Any early morning dog walkers or Christmas Eve party goers on the walk of shame, must have wondered what on earth was going  on when 585 assorted Santas, elves and even the odd reindeer came thundering past accompanied by Roger playing carols on his tuba.


imageBack to runing in 2018

The first club run of the New Year will be on Thursday 4 January. There will be no Monday Session on Monday 1 January due to possible hangovers.


Road Running road shows 

Don’t miss out on the England Athletics Road Running Roadshows in February. They will give you the chance to find out how England Athletics aims to support off track clubs through a range of programmes and for you to share your ideas with them. Each event will also have an invited guest athlete or coach to conclude the evening session.

And finally… 

Congratulations to Amanda Chalk for completing her hundredth parkrun this month.






Well done too to Rob Kelly for running his 300th parkrun and Dave Keates who ran his 150th this month. Although both are great achievements, I’m reliably informed neither count as  milestones!






#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne