Easter, or Ēostre, was originally an English month, corresponding to the modern month of April. It was named after Ēostre, the goddesses of the radiant dawn and uprising light. For those of a religious persuasion, Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection and the end of Lent. For others it’s more about chocolate Easter eggs. This year Easter Sunday fell on April Fools Day and a large group of April Fool’s spent the morning earning their chocolate treats with a long run. For those taking part in the Southampton Marathon or Half Marathon, this was the last long training run before tapering. There was nothing radiant about this particular dawn, it was cold and barely any light had risen when they set off, but at least there was guilt free chocolate to look forward to when they got home.
Spitfires do Crossfit
Adam Ruddy organised a taster session at Crossfit Romsey this month. The idea was to focus on strength, cardio and flexibility and a large group of Spitfires jumped at the chance. They also, lunged, squatted, rowed, lifted weights and goodness only knows what else. Despite being a tough session everyone managed to have fun and there were plenty of smiles in evidence in the photos. Whether Adam was quite as popular the next day when the participants tried to move is another matter. There may be further sessions in the future so, if you missed this one, keep an eye on the Facebook page.
Committed to the Committee
At this month’s AGM it was all change on the Committee. After several years of tireless dedication to the club Rose-Marie Mackay, Amanda Harris and Lee Donarumma stepped down. All three had done some sterling work looking after the finances, organising races and entries into the various cross country leagues and putting together some amazing social events. Working behind the scenes to make sure the club runs smoothly takes up a lot of time and energy, so they can now put their feet up and enjoy a well earned rest. In fact, Rose-Marie says she will now have time to read the newsletter for the first time ever. Hello Rosie! Filling their giant shoes will be new Treasurer, Rob Jesson, new Social Secretaries, Jan Bray and Sue Haig and new Captains Adam Ruddy and Alana Jane Williams.
For those of you wondering what the committee actually does I will be doing a series of articles about that very thing over the coming months but, as the role of Captain is a new one, I thought I’d start by telling you a little bit about what our new captains will be doing.
Adam and Alana have volunteered for the often cold, wet and muddy task of organising the various cross country series. They will be ably assisted by Hannah Lawless and Rob Kelly, their vice captains. They’ll be representing the club at the AGM’s for the RR10’s, CC6’s, HXCL and HRRL races. They will also make sure we all know how to get to races, what the routes are like, whether we need trail shoes or waders and ensure there is enough cake to go round afterwards. On top of that they will organise marshals, token collectors and group photos on race days, not to mention collating and forwarding race results, sorting out discrepancies and writing race reports. Another important part of their job will be to organise the Summer Challenge and, of course, answer your questions and pass your ideas and concerns to the committee. If all that sounds like a great deal of work, it’s because it is, so please offer them all the support you can, especially while they are finding their feet.
Not running the first RR10
The new Captains got the chance to test their skills on 18 April at the first RR10 of the season. The venue was Victoria Country Park but no Spitfires were supposed to be running as it was our marshalling event. The turnout was overwhelming and certainly kept poor Alana on her toes as she tried to find and tick off the names of all the volunteers to make sure they got included in future RR10 lists. While she was busy ticking boxes Adam chose to have a little stretch In preparation for leading all the marshals to their positions.
At cross country events, once the race has started I usually try to find a good position to capture runners crossing the finish line. For once I wasn’t at all interested in the runners. It was the marshals I wanted to capture, so I trailed behind the tail runners stopping to take photos of all the marshals I passed. This seemed to work well as I made my way along the shore line and into the woods. There were a lot of smiling faces enjoying the evening sun and I even found one couple, who shall remain nameless, canoodling on a bench!
My problems began when the first of the fast runners began to lap me. At this point the trail was fairly narrow and I found myself diving into undergrowth to get out of the way. Each time there was a gap I ran (yes you did read that right) as fast as I could to the next marshal, took a quick photo and ran on until the next runners came up behind me. At some point it occurred to me that I was actually the only Spitfire running this particular RR10!
Perhaps if I hadn’t been wearing big boots, lots of layers, a coat and a high vis jacket I might have been a little faster. I’d certainly have been a lot less hot and red in the face. Poor Becky Diggle was so shocked to see me running, or maybe scared by the strange red faced panting appropriation before her, she actually fell over. Sorry about that Becky.
All in all it was a great evening with an unprecedented number of marshals, including several dogs and a few children, plus a huge group of runners. The first (and last) Spitfire across the line was ME! It all ended with a bit of a mystery. After the race Meeje’s son in law wanted to thank one of the Spitfire marshals for coming to his aid when he pulled up with a calf injury. The marshal in question persuaded him to stop running, which turned out to be sound advice. The Spitfire was, apparently, a tall beardy chap with glasses. So far we haven’t been able to find out who he was. Answers on a post card please…
Many marathons and a duathlon
April seemed to be mostly about marathons. A small team of Spitfires had a nice seaside break to run the Brighton marathon on April 15, sadly, my budget didn’t run to joining them. It didn’t run to joining our roving Spitfire Edo for the Istrian Marathon in Slovenia or the Rijeka marathon in Croatia either. The former, his 25th marathon, had a flat first half and a tougher second, along an old narrow gauge railway line. The latter was hot and hilly but he finished in 3:48:06 and 28th place, which is amazing. He even got his name called out as he crossed the line along with his club “eee-chen-speeet-fai-erz”. Then, of course, there was London, with Chris Walker and Bev Lawrence taking the Spitfires Ballot places and Sam Brownsea joining them for the day. It was hot, it was tough, and some people stopped off for a beer half way round. Amongst all the marathons, there was a change of pace with a duathlon in Victoria Country Park. Places were limited but a few Spitfires took part and our own Kev Mills actually won it. Well done Kev.
Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events
- 2 May 19:15 RR10 Stoney Cross
- 6 May 10:00 Southampton Running Series, Southampton Common
- 6 May 11:00 Fordingbridge Fire Station 10K, Fordingbridge
- 8 May 18:30 Lordshill Magic Mile Southampton Common
- 7 May 10:00 Harewood Forest 10K, Wherwell, Hampshire
- 12 May 9:30 The Naomi House & Jacksplace Gauntlet Games, Ovington
- 13 May 10:00 Lymington RNLI 10k, Woodside Park Lymington
- 16 May 19:30 RR10 Wilverley
- 19 May 19.30 Spitfire Quiz Night Wollston Community Centre
- 19 & 20 May 8:00 Liverpool Rock & Roll weekend, Liverpool
- 27 May 9:00 Casterbridge and Dorchester marathon Dorchester, Dorset
- 30 May 19:30 RR10 Blackfield
- 6 June 19:30 RR10 Fleming Park
- 20 June 19:30 RR10 Manor Farm Country Park
- 23 June 8:00 Race to the King, Winchester Cathedral
This is not a complete list of all races. Check out the event page for the latest updates.
The biggest event of the month was our own home town marathon weekend on 22 April. An epic lightning storm, along with some alarming local flooding the night before, meant the hot day everyone was expecting turned out to also be sticky and humid. Heat and humidity are not the best conditions for running a marathon, a half, or even 10k, especially when everyone had been training in cold weather.
As usual, several Spitfire faces could be found in the pacers team photo, including our wonderful chairman, John Grant, who was pacing the half at 1:45. Tailrunning was a Spitfire dominated occupation too, with Russ Meddings and Jan Bray at the back of the 10k, Kim Kelly and Vikki Pratt tailing the half marathon and Emma Wilson behind the marathon. There was also a large team of Spitfire Mile Makers, led by Frankie and Lindsay. They were stationed along the final stages of the race on London Road and I’m told this was the noisiest part of the whole course. With Meeje in possession of a loudhailer, there was no way this was going to be a quiet zone.
With three different races, a 10k, a half marathon and a marathon all on the course at the same time and a ridiculous number of Spitfires taking part, spotting them all was something of a challenge. Different coloured bibs helped a little with working out who was running what, red for the 10k, light blue for the half and dark blue for the full marathon. Then there were the pacers in orange shirts. Unfortunately, I missed most of them, including my very own Spitfire, Dave Keates.
The course was slightly easier than last year, which was just as well given the weather conditions. The Itchen Bridge was near the start (at least for the single lap half marathoners and 10k runners) and there was even a mist feature to help cool things down. A very welcome cool breeze greeted runners as the race touched on Weston Shore and Riverside Park provided more cool water (at least to look at) and a touch of shade. The final part of the course, through St Denys, Portswood and Highfield, was the toughest, being mostly uphill, but runners had the Common to look forward to when they got to the top.
The heat was always going to be a problem, especially for the marathoners. Although some people looked surprisingly fresh in the final stages of the race and a few even managed a sprint finish, there were some very hot and bothered faces heading towards the finish line. The Spitfire Mile Makers did their best to lift flagging spirits but, sadly, the ambulance crews were needed to pick up a few who’d succumbed to the heat and the distance. Amongst them was the usually super speedy Gerry Robson, who was runnng his first marathon. Thankfully, all those who’d collapsed or struggled were soon back on their feet after a little cool down and some much needed refreshment. Kim and Vicky were the last Spitfires to officially cross the line after almost six and a half hours spent in the baking sun motivating the last half marathoner. For most of the Spitfires the day ended with a few welcome drinks in the Spitfire pub.
Finish for Matt
Running a marathon is a huge thing to ask of the human body. In 490BC the Athenian herald, Philippides, ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news of the military victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. He collapsed and died after completing his mission. His story is the origin of the modern day marathon and, sadly, runners do still die while trying to complete this body taxing feat.
During this month’s London Marathon MasterChef semi finalist, Matt Campbell, collapsed 22.5 miles into the race. He later died. Matt was raising money for the Brathay Trust in memory of his late father and runners all over the country pledged to run the final 3.7 miles of Matt’s marathon and donate to the charity to help him posthumously raise the £2,500 he’d aimed for. Many of those running for Matt printed off special race numbers to show their support and could be seen at parkruns and races all over the country. On Sunday a group of Spitfires got together and ran the distance too. So far the money raised for the charity has topped £300,000. What a fantastic tribute.
Interview with a Spitfire
The April Spitfire of the Month is Lindsay Bowers. Many of the newer members will recognise her as the person who helped them get through the C25K. Others will know her smiling face from the ABP event when she was invaluable, helping Franki organise the Spitfire Mile Makers, or from the great photos she takes at various events. Well done Lindsay, a well deserved Spitfire of the Month.
When did you take up running and why?
It was two years ago this April I finished the beginners course, something I never thought possible. I have ulcerative colitis & after having my colostomy bag removed I was told I’d never be a runner due to how bad my health was. So hearing those words made me want to do it more. Joining the Spitfires was one of the best things I’ve done. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
How did you first hear about Itchen Spitfires and what made you want to join the club?
I first heard about the club through Franki, she raved about it so I thought I’d give it ago. I joined the beginners group C25k and from there I’ve been hooked.
Do you have any running ambitions or goals?
I’d love to run a marathon one day in my family home town, Edinburgh. Goals, to get that sub 29!
You recently stepped up to help Franki organise the ABP marathon marshals. What was the best thing about the day?
Oh that’s easy having a great team of volunteers and cheering everyone on! Being right in the mix of things by the finishing line giving everyone that last push to the finish. Such a buzz seeing people crossing that finish line with such relief and achievement.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a run?
Ha ha, this still makes my giggle. It was a walk & talk night, coming out of the cut way at the bottom of Athelstan Road to look up to see a naked man in the window. He spotted all the runners and gave us all a wave proudly showing off his fruit and veg ha ha. I’m now scarred for life! Very funny moment.
What do you do when you’re not running?
Family time, walks in the forest, catching up with friends but I really love to take photos. I do wedding photography as a hobby.
Do you run with music, if so what’s your favourite running tune?
Only really now if I’m on my own, I love a bit of dance music a favourite at the moment is Leave the world behind by Axwell (radio edit).
With a month of almost continual rain, some spectacular lightning, flash floods and a mini heatwave, it’s a surprise to see any PB’s at all, especiallly from the baking hot marathon weekend. Spitfires are made of stern stuff though, as the list below confirms. Thanks, as ever, to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who appears on it.
Martin De Sousa 21.45
Hannah Lawless 24.07
James Bourne 29.17
Andy Ward 21.51
Alice Bray 39.18
Gregory Bowers 41.52
Nicki Barton 31.22
Charlotte New 57.5
Kali Banda 42.01
Paula Lovell 2:02:19
Kerry Murray 2:49:58
Steve Proud 1:44:21
Dan Lovell 1:46:11
Jackie De Lisle 2:16:03
Marie Alden 2:27:36
Shelly Atwell 2:27:37
Robert Gurman 2:00:28
Ed Tavner 1:46:56
Paddy Connors 2:55:10
Lorna Bennett 5:28:13
Andy Ward 3:52:07
Elizabeth Smith 5:41:55
David Chalk 4:10:30
Samantha Brownsea 3:27:07
Abigail Hamilton 3:56:06
Teresa Robson 4:47:02
Tori Collinson 4:46:56
Emily Akerman 5:44:02
Al Wilkins 2:44:08
Lee Donarumma 4:08:33
True or false?
Here are six quick true or false questions to test your knowledge of running, or maybe how gullible you are.
Did you work out where I was last month? Here are the answers.
Fun on the Common
The month ended with a cheeky little 5k at a very familiar venue. The Subway 5k was a fun run on Southampton Common, using the normal parkrun course, more or less. The fun element came from an optional inflatable obstacle course where the finish funnel would normally be. Spitfires love a bit of fun so obviously a fair few turned out to enjoy the day. Some even brought their little ones along. Others were running the race as part of their Finish For Matt runs.
Despite the cold, slightly drizzly weather, almost everyone had a fabulous time, although one particular latecomer, who’d run the Houghton 11k earlier in the morning, seemed to find it all a little hard going. Some people chose to take the easy route to the finish while others had a whale of a time on the Field of Freshnss obstacle course. Whichever way they chose to finish, everyone who completed the course got a heart shaped medal and a Subway meal.
We are now officially paper free. All membership requests, payments and renewals will be done online on the website. It’s quick, easy and good for the environment.
Sadly, as Peartree Green has now become a nature reserve, there will be no more Bank Holiday penny games. May Day will be the last official run the club will be holding. This also means our lovely run leaders have more time to spend with their families. Of course, for those who can’t bear a Monday without a run, there is nothing to stop anyone from arranging unofficial runs on Bank Holidays if they wish.
Congratulations to Mark and Marie Claire Stanmore who tied the knot this month. They celebrated their big day with an evening of dance, song, cake and a little bit of alcohol at the Dancing Man Brewery. In fact Kali “Jaeger Bomb” Banda had so much fun he missed parkrun the following day.
I’m not quite sure how he managed to fit them all in at such a young age but the amazing Cameron Sommerville Hewitt completed his 100th parkrun this month. He will be one of the most youthful wearers of the famous black 100 shirt ever.
Congratulations to David L’Enfant for hitting a milestone of a different kind. There were no medals, or even any running but plenty of Spitfires were there to help him celebrate. Welcome to the over fifties club David.
SADLY, I CANT BE EVERYWHERE SO, IF YOU WANT AN EVENT INCLUDED IN THE NEWSLETTER, OR YOU HAVE A SPECIAL MILESTONE PLEASE SEND A BRIEF REPORT AND PHOTOS HERE OR POST THEM ON THE SPITFIRES FACEBOOK PAGE. I CAN’T PROMISE TO INCLUDE EVERYTHING BUT I WILL DO MY BEST.