Newsletter January 2018

New Year Old Shoes! 

From where I stand, it seems runners are a little obsessed with running shoes. Some seem barely able to pass a sports shop without going in and buying more (you all know who you are!). The beginning of the year is a good time for clearing things out and reorganising, especially if you can barely move for tripping over running shoes. This month Alana Jane Williams collected a massive haul of old shoes from willing Spitfires, then Michelle Ritchie and Rose-Marie Mackay delivered them all to Jeff at Rural Running. The shoes, 100 pairs but not quite all from Spitfires, were then donated to the H.O.M.E charity in Warsash to be distributed to homeless people. What a fabulous way to recycle old shoes!

The hangover parkrun double

The last thing most people want to do the morning after a night of eating, drinking and making merry is go out for an early morning 5k run. Surprisingly, that is exactly what 886 people did on Southampton Common on New Year’s Day. In fact, amongst all the lunatics intrepid runners who turned up for the New Year parkrun, some especially weird dedicated people got up even earlier and ran Netley parkrun first. Apparently this is called ‘doing the double’ and should only be attempted by those who don’t mind their legs seizing up after the car journey from Netely to the Common.

Thanks to Lindsay Bowers & Emma Wilson for help with the photos

Amongst the crowd of alcohol infused parkrunners there were sixty five Spitfires. Forty three of them had started the morning by running Netley parkrun, a few dedicated souls had run from home and then run parkrun. Not every Spitfire that dragged themselves out of bed early was there to run. There were  familiar faces amongst the  amazing volunteers sliding around in the mud and rain, scanning, marshalling, funnel managing, setting up and packing away. Even the Run Directing  was provided by Spitfire team Kim and Rob Kelly. Both had run at Netley first and  Rob was also running at Southampton for the 250th time. There were giant puddles, gloopy mud, rain, queasy stomachs, aching heads and lots and lots of cake at the end. What a way to start the year!

Thanks to Lindsay Bowers & Emma Wilson for help with the photos

An icy wind at Badger Farm

The first CC6 of 2018 began with a long hard climb at Badger Farm. The field where the race began felt like it was at the top of the world and the views were certainly worth the climb. Being at the top of the world has certain disadvantages though. The sun may have been shining but an icy wind was whistling, threatening to blow away flags, tents and even runners. What a contrast to last year when thick fog hid the view until the race had finished and there wasn’t a breath of wind.

Once they’d set off, the runners did at least have the shelter of the trees for part of the course. There was plenty of gloopy mud, a nice downhill stretch and some rather startled and confused cows, maybe left over from when this was a real farm owned by John O’Loughlin and farmed by William Badger. Luckily no cows or runners were harmed and everyone made it up the final horrible uphill climb to the finish line and the inevitable cake in one piece.

New Year new runners

A huge group of would be runners met at the Feather on 10 January for the first beginners group of 2018. Led by Julie and Amelia and assisted by a whole host of Run Leaders and members, the group set off into the night for their first ever C25K run. There may have been some nervous faces at the beginning but they all came back in one piece and there were smiles all round at the end. What a fabulous start to the new year.

Reflecting on 2017 part two

Last month I took a look at The highlights of the first half of 2017, so now it’s time to remind you of what you all achieved in the second half of the year. July kicked off with a giant cheque and a new flag from Rees Leisure to thank all the wonderful Spitfires who volunteered at the ABP Southampton Marathon. Then Southampton Parkrun turned five years old and runners turned up in all kinds of weird and wonderful costumes to celebrate the occasion. Later in the month one in ten of the runners at the Wyvern 10k were Spitfires, possibly because it was the last 10k Championship race. There were RR10’s at Whiteley and Janesmoor Pond , a sweltering Summer Social at Victoria Country Park and a Championship mile run on the Common.

August started with the second Championship mile run. Then there were two Championship five miles races, starting and ending on Peartree Green. There were also three RR10’s,  a wet one at Itchen Valley, a hilly one at Hursley and a rescheduled one at Wide Lane. In between all this there was the Wickham 10 and a broken ankle at East Farm.

September brought a very wet Summer Streetmate Challenge. The first CC6 of the season was at Fleming Park and it was the Spitfires turn to marshal. The Solent Half Marathon was the first of the long distance championship races and, on the same day, the Winchester Half Marathon was filled with Spitfire Marshalls along with  lot of familiar pacing faces.

October began with a  sparkly new website and a CC6 at Whiteley. There were Spitfires galore at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival with runners competing in events from 5k to a full marathon. Along the coast other Spitfires were running Pieces of Eight or the Portsmouth Coastal 10k. There was also a chance for cycling Spitfires to get out their bikes for the first ever Spitfire Duathlon. Finally there were bunny ears at the Great South Run.

November began with a sunny CC6 at Dibden Inclosure. It was quite a month for parkrun with John Grant running his 250th accompanied by music from Ukulele Jam and the club donated a brand new laptop to Southampton Parkrun the very next week. Then there was the last Championship race of the year, the Gosport Half Marathon.

December seemed to be all about celebrating, with the end of year Awards Evening, the Spitfires’ third birthday and a pub run in the run up to Christmas. There was a little bit of running going on though, with a CC6 at Janesmoor Pond and the Bovington Half Marathon. Finally there was a Christmas parkrun to round off another great year.

Stubbington 10k

Photos thanks to Jamie Foster

Stubbington is a pretty little village, centred around a traditional village green and nestled between Southampton and Portsmouth. It was once part of the estates of Titchfield Abbey and, back in May 1733, was the venue of the first ever cricket match played in Hampshire. On 14 January it was also the venue for the 33rd annual Stubbington 10k beginning in the village and heading through picturesque countryside on scenic coastal roads.

Of course there were a team of Spitfires taking part in this local race organised by Stubbington Green Running Club. It may not have been the brightest, sunniest day for it but the course was flat and fast and, from Jamie Foster’s photographs, it looked like everyone had a fantastic time. As far as I can tell no one played any cricket but there were a clutch of PB’s.

CC6 Kings Garn Inclosure

Last year just four Spitfires braved an icy morning to run the CC6 at Kings Garn Inclosure. This year there was no ice but it was probably the coldest, wettest Sunday of the month with flooded roads and thick mud to wade through just to get to the start line. Sensible people stayed indoors in the warm and numbers were fairly low for this race but a huge crowd of Spitfires turned out in the rain and wind to run, take numbers, take photos and cheer.

The steep descent to the start meant there was a steep climb at the end, through squelchy mud covered with a carpet of slimy rotting leaves. The rest of the course can only be described as a mud bath. In fact quite a few people didn’t finish the race, of course none of the DNF’s were Spitfires. They are made of much sterner stuff. At one point poor Leah even lost her shoe in the mud and had to stop to dig it out! If it hadn’t been for the steady rain washing the mud off I might have had trouble spotting Spitfires at all to take photos. After the punishing final hill there was at least a hot cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the finish, plus a chorus of happy birthday for Kerry.

Interview with a Spitfire 

The January Spitfire of the Month needs no introduction. Even if you can’t see her, chances are you can hear her! In fact I think I may have permanent hearing loss in my left ear after standing next to her at a RR10 once. It is, of course, Meeje Brett, Spitfire, Run Leader, Membership Secretary and cheerleader extraordinaire.

When did you take up running and why? 

I used to see runners running past my lounge window on the Isle of Wight & I thought, I could do that. That’s where it started, purely for the joy of learning to run.

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

I first heard about ISRC when someone said to me ‘’ ‘ere have you heard about the new run club starting up in Woolston?’. So I checked it out on the 1st Monday of the New Year & by then it was a month old. I joined because I wanted to run and because I had only just moved to Southampton from the IOW and I didn’t know anybody. Yep, I had no friends!

What was your most memorable running moment?

Can I have 2? In the early Spitfire days when John & Rachel were the only Run Leaders, I was in John’s group and he was yelling at us as we were running up Chessel Avenue hill. With all my will in the world I wanted to stop, but he was still yelling at me and I made it to the top with both my lungs intact. Oh and completing my first marathon.

How have you coped with being injured and not able to run and do you have any tips for other injured runners?

The truth is, I am not injured but I have age related ailments which are compounded by running. Tips for injured runners, rest as hard as you run and stay connected to the club somehow, come along and cheerlead a Monday session. It is really easy to lose your mojo and it doesn’t come back so easy. I’m lucky, due to my voluntary roles within the club and it’s lovely members, I have to be there.

What qualities do you think you need to be a run leader?

If I was to build the ideal Run leader I would include qualities such as, made of aluminium, glow in the dark and an on board ‘maps’ programme. But life’s not like that and all people are different, including the Spitfire Run Leaders.  They all have a range of different backgrounds, but the quality we all possess is the need to run, the skill to talk to anyone and we are not shy.

What is your favourite bit of running kit?

My Spitfire race vest. Standing on the start line with other Spitfires and seeing them on route is quite powerful. But then so is being recognised as a Spitfire by other clubs. And I do like a buff!

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

To be frank, up & down my own crescent would be nice at the moment. Failing that, The Miami Strip in Perth Australia, again. The stunning architecture, the Swan River, the palm trees, the hot sky and the obligatory fellow runner. Nice.

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.

    Romsey 5 Mile 

    Photos thanks to Teresa Robson

    What better way to end a wet and windy month than a trip to Broadlands, home of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma? Before the Norman Conquest Broadlands was a manor belonging to Romsey Abbey. It was here that Princess Elizabeth, now our queen, and Prince Phillip spent their honeymoon, walking in the beautiful gardens set out by Capability Brown. On 28 January, those grounds were filled with runners waiting for the start of the Romsey Five Mile. Amongst them were a small team of Spitfires.

    The course, taking in two and a half laps of the Broadlands Estate, was mostly nice flat tarmac, making it one of the fastest five mile races in the country. The Spitfires took full advantage and, from Teresa Robson’s photographs, seemed to be having more fun than was strictly necessary, although a trio of PB’s prove some of them were working hard.

    January PB’s 


    PB’s were a bit thin on the ground this month, which is no surprise considering the horrible weather we’ve had. Well done to everyone who managed to get out there and run faster than ever against the odds. Thanks too to Dave Keates for scouring the parkrun stats to compile the list.



    Greg Wells 23.52
    Chris Bishop 21.31
    Charlotte Rennie 22.59
    Harriet Chinnock 30.09
    Jack Lovell 30.00
    Brooke Sommerville- Hewitt 29.49
    Perry Seymour 32.46
    Trevor Hillier 17.10

    One Mile

    Claire Potenziani 8.33

    Five Mile

    Amanda Chalk 47.49
    Alana Nairn 54.38
    Carol Medcalf 58.01


    Charlotte New 1:00:37
    Richard Diggle 43.22
    Paddy Connors 35.51
    Marcus Hewitt 51.50
    Donna Paddick 59.03
    Perri Seymour 1:10:14
    Darren palmer 43.54
    Helen L’Enfant 1:00:23
    Ed Watts 47.27
    Sam Cox 48.45
    Robin Stacey 43.47
    Harriet Chinnock 1:00:44

    Ten Mile

    Diane Abraham 1:23:56

    Parkrun Walkers

    As a one off favour to three special ladies, Dave has persuaded me to include three parkrun walking PB’s this month. If only I’d known earlier I might have made a special effort to beat mine!

    Jan Bray 47:23
    Julie Folan 48:02
    Rachel Grant 48:05

    Jumbled Run Leaders? 

    Can you work out which three run leaders are jumbled up here?

    Did you work out who the tattoos belonged to last month? If not here are the answers.









    Sunday Half Marathon Runday

    Some of our amazing Run Leaders are taking bi-weekly Sunday runs to help you prepare for the Southampton Half Marathon, there will be 9, 10 , 11 and 12 minute mile groups led by Dave, Julie, Abigail, Paul, Amelia and Sarah starting at around 5/6 miles and building up to 13. The first two runs were on 14 and 28 January but there are still runs on  11 and  25 February, 4 and 18 March and 1 and 15 April. Each run starts at 8am at the Feather, everyone is welcome.  Keep an eye on the FB Page for further details.

    We need you!

    The ABP Marathon and Half Marathon is on Sunday 22 April this year and, once again, the Spitfires are putting together a team of volunteers to help out on the day. We need at least 20 volunteers to qualify as an official team so, if you’re not running, why not come along and help out? This year Francesca Horn and Lindsay Bowers are collecting names so please contact them if you want to join the fun. Last year we were voted the best volunteer team and came home with a £750 cheque and a brand new flag. Let’s see if we can do it again this year!

    Duathlon News

    The inaugural ISRC Dualthlon last October was so successful we are getting ready for another one on Sunday 25 March. This will be a great opportunity for some cross training for those of you Running April marathons or other long distance events and coincides with the start of the duathlon and triathlon season. As ever, we need as many marshals as possible to make it all happen so save the date and volunteer if you can’t take part. It’s bound to be a fun morning. Keep an eye out for an event page and further details on the FB Page, along with more details of membership and training plans for the official Itchen Spitfires Triathlon Club.

    50 for 50

    Photo thanks to Ian Howard

    Rob Kelly turns 50 on 9 February and, to mark the occasion, will be joined by a quartet of completely insane Spitfires to run 50 miles on his birthday. He is using the event to raise money for Alzheimer’s, a very worthy cause. The group will be starting from St Mary’s Stadium at 7:30 am and ending at the Sports Centre at round 6pm. The more people who can join in to support them for sections of the run the better. They’re going to need all the encouragement they can get, especially at the end. Full itinerary details can be found here for those who want to join in. If you can’t run with them but would like to be part of this lunatic adventure you can sponsor them here.

    And finally… 

    Congratulations to Darren Palmer who ran his hundredth parkrun in the mud and rain on New Years Day.






    Well done to Alana Jane Williams who ran her hundredth parkrun at a very windy Netely this month






    Nick Myers even dressed as a Spitfire for his hundredth parkrun on Southampton Common.






    #GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne