Newsletter February 2018

A word from your newsletter writer
While I try to keep up with everything that’s going on each month, I can’t be everywhere at once. If you’re with a team of Spitfires at an event I’m not at and think it deserves a mention in the newsletter, please make sure you take photos, including a team photo, and send them to me along with a brief race report. The photos don’t have to be professional quality, you’d be amazed what I can do with photoshop, but they do have to be your own. Pictures posted by event organisers are copyrighted. The text doesn’t have to be wordy, or even grammatically correct, just the distance, a little about the course or conditions and anything else interesting that happened.

The same goes for any special milestones or birthdays. I do trawl through the FB page but there are only so many hours in the day and my poor old eyes aren’t what they used to be.  Sometimes I miss things. If you want something specially mentioned, please send me details and pics. It’s your newsletter. Get involved!

Run and talk

The first day of February was National Time To Talk Day, an annual event organised by designed to bring the nation together to talk and break down the silence around mental health problems.  To coincide with this our very own mental health ambassador Abigail organised another fantastic Run & Talk evening. A huge crowd turned out to run and talk, including the biggest walking group yet. There was a lot of chat, a little bit of history and, of course, some running. This was followed up by an evening of fun, drinking and even more chat at Metricks the next night.


And now a guest post from our Mental Health Ambasador Abigail

As a club we support mental health awareness and throughout last year held run and talk events to encourage people to slow down their pace and enjoy talking to one another. We all lead such busy lives and identify running as a way of relieving some of the stresses we may face. I thought it would be good, in line with time to talk day, to capture people’s stories as to why they run. I have kept out names for confidentially reasons.


Why we run 

“As a palliative care nurse I expect sad, difficult days. Last year I experienced one of the most challenging days in my whole career. We had 6 young people die in the space of 6 weeks. Over the weekend one young person had died and then on the Wednesday we had got a young person home to die…resulting in a 13hr day for me. This together with the other young ones deteriorating made for a desperate need for a good run on the Thursday. I got down to the feather and obviously my face told a story, as in true spitfire fashion, without saying much I got loads of support….just about holding it together. Paul was leading and I will thank him forever as I think we hit every hill…..the bridge, Bitterne way (east or west, not sure) right from the bottom. By the time I got home, I felt sooo much better. Still sad for these young lives, but rebalanced my thinking to recognise that I did make a difference and did a good job for those families. You’ve got to love those endorphins!”

“I have a daughter with severe mental health needs. This affects us both in different ways. I have recently been diagnosed with OCD. Not the tidying cleaning popular reported version. But one that consists of solely of mental rituals, this can mean repeating the same word over and over again for hours on end in my head. I have extreme anxiety about feeling responsible for everyone’s wellbeing. I can also be plagued by false memories. I can also get overwhelmed by social situations usually I’m able to manage the condition but when x’s behaviour gets challenging it can trigger my symptoms, which is happening at the moment. My wife not only has to deal with x’s but also with my constant apologising and need for reassurance. To cope and give us some perspective in our lives we have found that running, goal setting and just making the effort to turn up for club or Parkrun gives us the ability not to magnify our troubles out of proportion and gives us a different focus.”

“Over two years ago, my family went through the horrendous experience of having to admit my mum to a mental health hospital. Mental health problems are all too common, yet people are afraid to talk about them. However, I’m not. I wouldn’t wish what we went through on to my worst enemy, however I think it’s made me a stronger and better person, so for that, I am at least grateful. It’s certainly changed my outlook on life, and I’ll not apologise for raising the issue over and over again. It’s okay to not be okay. I made the decision about four months ago to start seeing a psychologist for my own peace of mind, and to make sense of all that has happened over the last few years. We’re on a continual rollercoaster of a journey whilst mum tries to get her meds right. I’m under no illusion that this will probably continue for the rest of our lives, but I all I can do is enjoy the good times, and roll with the bad ones.

I’m actually seeing my psychologist today, potentially for the last time, as we feel we’re coming to an end. That’s not to say that if I need to see one in future  I won’t, as it’s so important to not let things build up or bury them under the rug. Part of this is the reason my mum ended up having a nervous breakdown, so I’m determined that the hiding of things stops with me. Luckily I have a fabulous support network of family and friends. Running has become a massive outlet for me, both physically and mentally. I’ve made some great new friends, who are willing to listen when times get tough, and for whom I’m proud to be there for when times get tough for them. I’m a great believer that people come into your life for a specific reason, and it’s okay when others drop off unexpectedly – I hold no grudges over that.”

“I suffered with Anorexia from the age of 21. This did not stem from my childhood as I had a very happy family upbringing, however I feel it came along during my time as Cabin Crew working for a large airline and the stigma that was attached to the job of always looking immaculate. During the 6/7 years of my illness I spent the majority of my time analysing what I could and couldn’t eat and exercising as I thought I was in control of my life and control of my appearance…but the truth was Anorexia was in control of me! I genuinely believed that if I looked thinner I would be accepted, I would be liked. This was not the case and I caused a lot of worry to my friends and family, and I became very ill – resulting in an emergency hospital admission whilst on holiday. My recovery from Anorexia was not easy, undergoing counselling and trying to change my mind-set and feelings about myself. I am not completely free however I would say these days I suffer more from Body Dysmorphia now than Anorexia as I have found a love of food : ) – however there is always that nagging thought in the back of my mind making me feel guilty about what I eat and the exercise I do.

I struggle at times to feel good enough and this was the reason why I joined ISRC. I wanted to put the time I was feeling guilty about myself and not feeling like I was good enough to a better use, and instead start being more positive and living life like I should be. Joining the club has been the best thing I have ever done, I have made new friends, improved my social life and actually found something I really enjoy doing in my spare time. The support from all the members in the club is amazing and being part of it gives me a feeling of self-worth. I know at the back of my mind I’ll always struggle with accepting myself/my body, but that with the support of my friends, family and running, I’m finding it easier day to day.”

When we can’t run 

It is important to acknowledge that we all get injured or are unable to run for other reasons at one time or another in our lives. This can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health especially when they are seeing pictures on social media or reading how great the group run was at club. I remember the first #runandtalk we launched back in October 2016. I had picked up a foot injury and could barely walk let alone run, my father was receiving palliative care and had very little time left and all I wanted to do was join in with everyone but I couldn’t I was in pain. I watched all of the groups go off in different directions smiling and chatting away. I got into my car and burst into tears, the thought of not being able to run topped with everything else going on absolutely broke me. When I read on Facebook about people being injured and feeling like they are missing out I completely understand that. There have been a few people who have had some long term injuries and they have managed to remain involved in running and the club through other means such as volunteering. I have noticed that more people are doing this. Nothing beats the feeling of being able to run but being part of a supportive group who are there for you when you in the good times and the bad is something pretty special!

The Muddy Beach Run

Photo thanks to Lauren Sherman

The first Sunday of February saw five Spitfires heading for Portsmouth to tackle the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon, otherwise known as the Muddy Beach Run. As the majority of the race takes in the Portsmouth and Southsea coastline, this is often a wet and blustery affair. Luckily, the weather was kind this year and the Spitfire quintet had a sunny, if cold morning, without too much in the way of wind.

Despite the name, the majority of the race is run on the nice smooth paving of the promenade with lovely views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight. The mud comes at around mile four when the course goes off road along the Milton foreshore then loops back to Milton Common and along the beach. Going on Lauren Sherman’s photographs, it looks like there wasn’t too much in the way of mud this year but race organisers, Believe and Achieve Personal Training and Events Ltd, did raise lots of money for the local Lifeboats based at Eastney.

Photos thanks to Lauren Sherman

Five run Fifty, with a little help from their friends

Most people celebrate their 50th birthday by booking a nice holiday, having a big party or going on a pub crawl. When Rob Kelly turned fifty though, he decided to spend his big birthday running fifty miles with four of his Spitfires mates, Rob Benham,  Ian Howard,  Dave Keates  and Luis Adrián Rosas Wiedfeldt, to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The event took eleven hours and saw the five men running a meandering course around all parts of Southampton and Eastleigh. They were joined for parts of the run by a group of Spitfire  motivators and a team of cyclists, Gill McClure, Dan Kelly and Mark Campbell, carrying essential kit. They also had a road crew driving around in a car with food, water and medical supplies and an ever changing cheering team at the regular stopping points along the way.

Despite rain, sleet, tired legs and the odd unscheduled stop they made it to the finish line in one piece and have so far managed to raise almost £2000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. There’s still time to sponsor them for this amazing feat, just click here to see Rob’s Just Giving page.

Upcoming events 

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

 Better late than never, Twixmas

Photo thanks to Lindsay Bowers

The Twixmas 10k was meant to fill the gap between Christmas and New Year. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. Due to weather conditions the race had to be postponed and was finally run on 18 February. This was great news for the  group of Spitfires who’d been waiting so long for their run.

Photos hanks to Lindsay Bowers

The weather was perfect for this fast, flat run along the shoreline at Portchester and the Fareham Creek Trail. There were wonderful views, fabulous costumes, a marvellous cheerleading team and some brilliant sprint finishes. From Lindsay’s beautiful photos, it looks like everyone had an enjoyable day, although I’m told the measuring fairies may not have been quite on the ball with the 10k distance. Sadly, Trudie sprained an ankle during the race but, in time honoured tradition, no Spitpfire was left behind and she was helped over the line by Perri. Apparently, there was also cake!

Long distance running tips

Photo thanks to Ian Howard

One man’s (or woman’s) long run is another’s easy run. Whatever the distance, if you’re looking down the barrel of more miles than you’ve ever run, feeling slightly sick and nervously worrying how you’re going to get through, there are a few things that might help.

It’s normal to be worried when you’re contemplating something out of your comfort zone but preparing your mind is the first step towards preparing your legs. Visualise your route. Imagine running it strongly and finishing well. Keep telling yourself you can do it. Banish can’t from your vocabulary. Some people find it helps to mentally break the distance into sections, maybe thinking of it in terms of a number of parkruns or half marathons. Visualising the finish and any treats you have planned can also help get you through.

Practice your hydration and nutrition on your training runs. Both are vital. They could be the difference between success and failure. Carbing up pre run can only go so far and, on distances over half marathon, you will need to consider refuelling on the run. Everyone is different and only you can determine your own requirements but a rough guide is to drink every 20 minutes or so and take on calories around every 40 minutes.

Photo thanks to Ian Howard

Eating while running isn’t easy. Whether you’re a fan of gels, chews, or prefer something more traditional like fruit or flapjacks, you need to practice eating them while running and closely monitor how they affect your stomach. Whatever you do, don’t chance something untried on the day. The consequences could be disastrous.

Long distance running is more about endurance than speed. Don’t expect to run a marathon at the same pace you’d run parkrun. The goal is to cover the distance so don’t beat yourself up about being slower or taking the odd walking break if you need it. Better to finish later than planned than crash and burn on the course. Long runs are a way to build stamina and aerobic endurance so, while you might be running slower than your normal pace, you may find your speed increasing on shorter runs.

Photo thanks to Rachel Grant

Finally, when you cross the finish line, be it 26.2 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles or even more, don’t skip on your recovery strategy. First and foremost you need to eat to give your body the energy it needs to repair itself. You might not feel like eating much but a meal with a good mixture of proteins, fats and carbs is essential. Even more essential is replacing lost fluids and salts. Apparently beer is good for this. Finally, don’t forget to stretch out those poor muscles and maybe break out the foam roller.


CC6 Denny Wood

Birthday running seemed to be a bit of a theme this month and those who weren’t running the Twixmas 10k helped Gerry celebrate his birthday with a cold, muddy CC6 at Denny Wood. Unsurprisingly, the campsite was empty as no one in the right mind would want to be hanging around the New Forest on a freezing cold morning. There were, however, plenty of cross country loving runners including a large team of Spitfires, more than three times the number who took part in the same event last year!

The Denny Wood course is relatively flat in terms of CC6’s but there is at least one stream to cross and a ditch to jump right at the end so it’s far from an easy run. Last year James Hughes came second on his first CC6. This year Will Bryan trumped that by coming first on his debut! There were some real battles for the finish with Captain Darren looking effortless as he snatched a place from Neil Glasspool, David L’Enfant overtaking a Netley Abbey runner in the final yards and Mark Stanmore stealing a place from Sergio López de Bustos.

The race ended with the usual muddy legs and cake. Then everyone gave Gerry the bumps.  Results and full reports can be found here.

Interview with a Spitfire 

Photo thanks to John Grant

The Spitfire of the month for February is Leah Tavner, inspiring Captain of the ladies CC6 team. Leah has been a Spitfire since the club started and is shortly to become a run leader. She doesn’t like cleaning muddy boots but she does make some pretty good cake! Now it’s time to find out more about her…

When did you take up running and why? 

About 5 years ago. I saw so many other people out running looking like they were enjoying it, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How did you first hear about Itchen Spitfires and what made you want to join?

John posted a message in a Facebook group in December 2014 about a new running club. I wanted to improve my running ready for the first ABP half marathon, so went along to try it and haven’t looked back! Soon after, I brought my son Ollie (now 10) along to time trials which he absolutely loves, and my husband Ed is now a club member too.

What has been the best and worst thing about being CC6 team captain?

Best – the sheer amount of Spitfires that have turned up this season in all weathers, and seeing the sense of achievement on people’s faces after the gruelling runs.
Worst – having to look at some very muddy shoes for weeks on end, knowing I need to clean them before the next CC6!

Do you run with music, if so what’s your favourite running tune?

Not usually. I did as a beginner but now prefer to focus on what’s going on around me. But on the treadmill I find the Red Hot Chili Peppers work for me…

What inspired you to put yourself forward as a run leader?

It was time to set myself a different sort of running challenge in 2018, and help share the love of running wherever possible! Helping with the beginners has been a great experience as I’ve absolutely loved seeing people discovering (or rediscovering in some cases) that running is really quite enjoyable!

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a run?

A few years ago I was running with a couple of Spitfires very early in the morning on Christmas Eve. We stumbled across an abandoned old singer sewing machine table in the middle of the path. Next thing I knew the run had stopped and one of the Spitfires (who shall remain unnamed!) was loudly instructing us on where to move it to by the side of the road, so they could drive back for it later. I believe it is now a vintage feature in their house. It was all quite surreal, especially as I think we were in Santa hats too #santasstealingsewingmachines

What’s the best thing you’ve gained from running?

A sense of belonging to a proper community, made up of some pretty lovely people. And sampling some pretty good cake along the way….

February PB’s 


Considering what a short month this was and a bitterly cold one too, I’m surprised there were any PB’s at all. Obviously Spitfires are made of stern stuff though, as you will see from the list below. As ever, well done to everyone who ran faster than ever before and thank you to Dave Keates for going through all the local parkrun results and compiling the list.


Dave Keates 21.16
Gemma Waughman 27.1
Phoebe Ashton 38.12
Grace Bowers 33.57
Jack Lovell 28.25
Trevor Hillier 16.59
Dan Lovell 23.44
Lindsey West 27.59
Paddy Connors 17.22
Massi Squaletti 17.25
Christopher Bishop 20.49

Harriet Chinnock 29.17
Perri Seymour 32.08
Esther Stewart 33.44


Diane Abraham 48.35
Julie Mills 55.22
Nicole Kelly 59.59

10 Mile

Gareth Evans 1.13:52
Gerry Robson 1.03.58
Dave Chalk 1.20:26
Dave Chalk 1.19:19
Alana Jane Williams 1.39:43
Harriet Chinnock 1.39:42
Paul Leeming 1.42:21
Charlotte New 1.38:24

Half Marathon

Becky Diggle 1.52:31
Paddy Connors 1.18:47
Sam Cox 1.44:03
Elizabeth Smith 2.23:22

Longest Run

Ian Howard 50 miles 9.08:26 – 10.50ish including stops
Dave Keates 50 miles
Rob Kelly 50 miles
Rob Benham 50 miles

Whose Tattoo? 

How well do you know your fellow Spitfires? Can you guess who the tattoos below belong to?

Did you manage to unjumble the Run Leaders last month? If not here they are looking normal.


imageAll change on the Committee! 

There are major changes coming up on the Committee in April. We will be losing our amazing Social Secretary, Amanda, our brilliant Race Director, Lee and our clever Treasurer Rose-Marie. They have all made a massive contribution to the club and will be sorely missed. Announcements will be made about who will be filling their giant shoes shortly.  In the meantime, we are looking for male and female Cross Country League captains. Whoever takes on these roles will become a committee member, attending meetings on the last Thursday of each month. They will also attend the CC6 and RR10 meetings, be the first point of contact for all cross country leagues and be responsible for the club summer challenge. They will be ambassadors for the club and will need to be social media friendly, updating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you are interested in the role send John Grant a private message. Voting will be at the AGM.

Volunteers needed! 

Francesca is still looking for volunteers for the Southampton Marathon, Half and 10K. It will be a fun day so, if you’re not running, why not get involved and help out? Contact Francesca or Lindsay for more details.

Save the date

Our fabulous beginners will be running their first parkrun at Southampton Common on 10 March led by Amelia, Julie and some wonderful helpers. It would be great to have a squadron of Spitfires, resplendent in their kit,  to cheer them on and maybe run with them.

And finally… 

The amazing Rachel Grant tried to sneak under the radar and run her 250th parkrun without any fuss this month. Of course we didn’t let her get away with it! There was a specially made sash, a celebrity announcement, a Spitfire entourage to accompany her on her run and a brilliant cake! Well done Rachel!

#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne