Newsletter August 2017


Rain, rain go away! 

Wet weather seemed to be the theme running through August. With this in mind I thought I’d share a few tips for rainy days. When it rains, glasses wearers have the added problem of not being able to see. Apparently an anti fog lens cleaner can help with the ‘can’t see with them can’t see without them’ problem. Maybe I need to invest in one. A visor or a hat with a peak is another solution, the brim keeps rain out of the eyes and off the glasses, at least if you don’t run too fast.

Modern wicking fabrics are great for pulling all that wetness away from your skin but it’s worth remembering that light coloured clothes can become transparent when they’re wet. If you don’t want everyone to see everything it might be worth going for dark colours. When it’s all over and you get home soaked to the skin, it’s important to get those wet things off as soon as possible and replace them with dry clothes. If your trainers are filled with water taking out the insoles, drying them separately and stuffing the shoes with newspaper or paper towels really does help them dry out quicker.

So those are my wet weather tips. As the weather is only likely to get wetter still why don’t you let me have some of your wet weather running tips so I can share them over the coming months? Email me here.

Championship mile number two

August began with the second Championship mile on The Common. There was another huge turnout and Rachel even had a little helper collecting all the stats. Yet again there were enough PB’s to keep Mr Keates very busy at the end of the month and some sterling efforts by all concerned. Full results can be found here.

Believe it or not, until 1850, when the first precisely mearured running tracks were built, there were no accurate times for a mile run and the professional record or 4:12¾, set by Walter George in 1886, wasn’t beaten by an amateur until 1915. The 1954 four minute mile by Roger Bannister was a huge milestone (excuse the pun) but very few people remember the first female sub five minute mile achieved just twenty three days later by Britain’s Diane Leather. Times were not as enlightened then and the IAAF refused to recognise women’s records until 1967 so Diane’s achievement was largely forgotten.

Photos thanks to Frankie and Lindsay

Waterlogged at Itchen Valley

The wettest RR10 by far was at Itchen Valley Country Park on 2 August but the weather didn’t deter 48 hardy Spitfires from turning out to run, not to mention several assorted spectators. The slightly bedraggled team commandeered the Go Ape shelter to huddle in before the start while Paul Leeming bravely stood out in the rain putting up the tent and flag.

The watermeadows and trails have never seemed quite so wet and muddy, even the start finish field was slowly disappearing under water. Luckily this is a course without too many hills and everyone splashed and slid their way round without incident. Some even managed smiles and waves on their first pass. There was grit, determination and mud aplenty at the end, along with jelly babies kindly provided by Keith. Soggy finish tickets didn’t seem adequate rewards for those who braved the mud. There really should have been medals. Huge thanks to Tina Street and Paul Leeming for standing around in the wet taking the finish tickets and numbers and to Paul for deconstructing the reluctant tent. Full reports and stats can be found here.

Wickham 10k

The village of Wickham grew up around a fording place on the Riven Meon and it was here the Roman Road between Noviomagus Regnorum (these days Chichester) and Clausentum (now Bitterne) crossed the river. Modern roads still follow the route of the Roman road between Chichester and Wickham today. On 6 August the first ever Wickham 10k took place at Kingsmed, near Upperford Copse, a little north of the village, and a team of Spitfires went along to check it out.

Luckily the weather had dried up a bit and the route, on the quiet country lanes of the Meon Valley, promised to be scenic. It was also billed as a fast course and the Spitfires who took part certainly took full advantage. Paddy Connors finished in the top five and there were three trophy winners for best in age category, Jamie Foster, Leah Tavner and budding Spitfire Bailey Harris not to mention a crop of PB’s.

The Two Bridge Challenge race one

The first of the Championship Five Mile races turned out to be a version of the Two Bridge Challenge, starting from Peartree Green and crossing first Northam and then the Itchen Bridge. The runners went off in two waves, leaving  Gill, Beth, Rob Kelly, Ben, Dave and I to act as cheer team, timers, token monitors and, of course, photographers. It was a  beautiful night to stand around on the green waiting for the first finishers to arrive, apart from the bugs, who’d smelt runners blood and were in full biting mode. There was even time for a quick trip across the road to Peartree Church, the oldest Anglican Church in the world, to visit Richard Parker’s grave. For those who don’t know about him, he was the poor Southampton lad who was shipwrecked back in 1884 and eaten by his companions. His bones are buried in the churchyard and the full story is on his gravestone, or you can find out more here.

The sun was beginning to set as the first runners appeared back on the field, heading for one of two finish funnels, depending on which wave they set off in. A few had energy left for a little clowning around. Some collapsed on the grass. There were the usual exciting sprint finishes and one or two smiles. It was a tough course with downhill, uphill, tricky roads to cross and a final lap around the Feather.

Once the tail runners had run past, the marshals spread out on the course could make their way home. When the last runners crossed the line,  the Peartree cheer team stopped the timers, packed up the cones, gathered up the finish tokens and headed off into the sunset to tend their bug bites. For Gill of course, it wasn’t all over. He had to go through all those tokens and times and work out the results. If you’d like to see them they can be found here.

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.

The dreaded Hursley hill

Usually Hursley would be the last RR10 of the season, giving everyone a chance to rest up after running three times up the never ending gravelly hill. Due to issues with the Marwell course though, the event on 16 August was actually the penultimate RR10 of the season. For most people, Hursley Park was also the most out of the way event so far. None of this seemed to put off all the Spitfires who came along to run. At least it wasn’t raining.

The Hursley estate originally belonged to Richard Cromwell and the big Manor House at the top of the horrible hill was built by MP William Heathcote in the 1720’s. It was modernised in 1902 by American railways heiress Mary Emma Smith and, during World War I the second floor was used as a military hospital for officers. When World War II broke out, it was requisitioned by the Ministery of Aircraft Production and, when the Supermarine factory in Woolston was bombed, the Design and Production departments of Vickers Supermarine moved in. Obviously this was the perfect place for Spitfires to be running.

The horrible hill was a real challenge but determination won out. Unbelievably I spotted a few flying feet on the first lap and one or two people even managed a smile and a wave. Any smiles on the finish straight we’re almost certainly down to the fact the hill was now behind everyone. Even so, most managed to muster enough energy for some brilliant flying finishes. All credit too to the cheer team who stayed behind to boost the wonderful Annie from Hardley Runners across the line at the very end. Thanks too to Tash and Tori who volunteered to collect tickets and names. Unbelievably, the results ended up being sent from my little house in Bitterne all the way to Kylie in Iceland before being processed and winging their way back to the RR10 officials. What en epic journey to end an epic race.

Wide Lane, the last RR10

The last RR10 should have been held earlier in the season at Marwell. Due to a few logistical problems, it ended up being the final race at a completely new venue, on the University Sports Grounds in Wide Lane. Being right next to Southampton Airport, where the first Spitfire took its test flight in 1936, and within sight of the iconic Spitfire replica erected by Eastleigh Borough Council in 2004, there really couldn’t have been a better place for Spitfires to be running.

The course, with laps around the two sports fields, may not have had the charm of the usual woodland rambles with hills, mud and random obstacles but it was fast and flat. For spectators it also meant a great view of the action. The first Spitfire across the line was Will Bryan completing his first RR10 in an astounding second place. This was an evening when it seemed everyone was in the mood for a sprint finish and there were some exciting battles in the final yards to steal places from other clubs. Full results and stats can be found here.

The cheering team, headed up by Meeje, was the loudest so far, spurring everyone on to make that extra push at the end. Paul and Kim did a great job of collecting all the finish tickets and Kylie, whose plane landed at the airport while we were all on the field, even managed to make a last minute appearance, relieving me of the job of putting them all into the spreadsheet.

Interview with a Spitfire 

This month’s Spitfire of the month is a familiar face at Southampton parkrun every Saturday morning. Kali Banda, the unsung parkrun hero, is always there before the rest of us, setting up the finish funnel and getting everything ready so everyone can enjoy parkrun. Then, at the end, while we’re all wandering off to get coffee, he’s there packing it all away again ready for next week. He’s always quick with a smile and a word of encouragement to his fellow runners too. What a star!



When did you take up running and why? 

I signed up for a charity run to support a colleague and raise awareness of research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth back in October 2013. My first run was on 05th October 2013 where I visited Southampton Common parkrun. My only training plan, 2 weeks before the 10mile Great South Run, ‘idiot!’. I had difficulties walking the day after the race! Since then I never looked back and running has become the main activity I enjoy.


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

I had a tip-off from Lorna Banda about Itchen Spitfires very first club run. It was dark and cold that night. I don’t remember exactly what the training session was, but it was good fun! I then joined the club looking for motivation to get out and run socially. I can honestly say that was my best decision to date. The encouragement and support from Spitfires has improved my ability to run and my performance.  So thank you Spitfires!!

You often volunteer at parkrun. What is the best thing about being a parkrun volunteer?

I enjoy it and it gives me a real buzz! It has many personal rewards in some way – every parkrun weekend is different for me. I am surrounded by friendly people, but they might not think I’m friendly, when I’m shouting at the finish funnel! I have met thousands of new people since my first volunteering back in 2014.

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

Self confidence, the ability to run long distances, friendships and of course the lovely Sam Cox.

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

Healing factor! Running injuries suck and the ability to heal or prevent anyone from injury would be super.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

Southampton Common Parkrun. Numbers say I have attended 156 Parkruns since 2013 and 146 alone are at the Common. I love getting up on Saturday morning to see hundreds of friendly people with differing abilities come together to start a weekend with a good morning run, it’s satisfying.

What was your most memorable running moment?

I have many memorable running moments, BUT tripping into a rabbit hole at Itchen Valley RR10 2016 did my head-in! The greatest achievement was taking my good friend, visually impaired Kalid, around parkrun and getting him a PB back in 2015 – I recently ran with him and I could barely keep up. He shouted at me a few times “come on big man, you are very strong”.

One for the ladies 

There are a few issues only women runners have to worry about. One, or maybe that should be two, of the most obvious are boobs. Even the most modestly endowed ladies are unlikely to run without a well fitting, supportive sports bra for obvious reasons. In fact boobs move a lot more than you might think when you run. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth discovered breasts don’t just bounce up and down when women run, they also move from side to side and in and out in a slightly bizarre figure of 8 pattern. Most men could probably have told them that without the need for research but still…

All this movement can cause damage to the Coopers ligaments, thin collections of connective tissue that help support the breasts. This is known as joggers breast and it affects smaller ladies just as much as more buxom ones. It can be painful and, ultimately lead to permanently sagging breasts. Unsupported boobs can also cause strain in the upper back and neck, especially in larger ladies. The good news is that a comfortable and supportive sports bra that minimises bouncing can prevent both these issues. If you think yours isn’t up to the job now might be the time to invest in a new one.

Everyone knows running can cause a build up of lactic acid but did you know this affects the taste of breast milk. The milk of breastfeeding mothers who have recently been for a run will taste sour. To avoid an unhappy baby it’s best to feed them or express milk for later before you set off.

The predominantly female pursuit of walking in high heeled shoes causes the pelvis and buttocks to tilt backwards. If you’re a fan of killer heels it may affect your running posture. Because you are effectively walking on your toes most of the time your muscles will develop accordingly. Wearing high heels, especially for long periods also means your calves and achilles tendons are rarely stretched. This can lead to Achilles tendon problems.

It’s not all bad news though. Running moves the pelvic girdle which can help with monthly cramps and a good run that makes you sweat can also help with bloating and water retention. An American study also found that female runners produce a less potent form of oestrogen than those who don’t run. This means they cut their risk of developing breast and uterine cancers by half. If that’s not a reason to keep on running I don’t know what is.

The Two Bridge Challenge race two

On 24 August it was back to Peartree Green for the second Championship five mile race, otherwise known as the Two Bridge Challenge. It was another warm, sultry evening. The biting things were out in force again looking for any little bit of spare flash that hadn’t been liberally coated with bug spray. Undaunted, the runners, marshals and other assorted volunteers and spectators gathered for the start.

On the field, amid swarms of bugs, it was a family affair with Rob and Nicole Kelly standing by as timers and Kim and Michela Kelly handing out tokens. Two non Kellys, Helen and Andy, volunteered to collect names and numbers.  Most of the marshals out on the course had run the last five mile race so knew all too well just what a tough challenge it was and cheered as loudly as they could.

Once again, everyone gave their all on the tough, two bridge course. A few even somehow mustered up the energy for smiles as they crossed the line. Finally, tailwalkers Alan and Chris crossed the green arm in arm to rousing cheers from the gathered spectators. As it was Alan’s birthday, the evening ended with cakes all round.

August PB’s 


There’s nothing like a championship race to get people pushing that bit harder. With Championship mile races, five mile races and a few other races thrown in here and there it’s no surprise, then, to find a bumper crop of PB’s this month.

As ever, thanks to Dave Keates who spends his Saturday afternoons trawling through all the local parkrun results for PB’s so you don’t have to bother remembering them or sending them to him at the end of the month.


Darren Palmer 20.49
David Chalk 22.53
Alana Jane Williams 27.46
Lindsey Bowers 31.36
Gerry Robson 18.11
Helen Arwen Bonaer 22.08
Marcus Hewwitt 23.48
Joseph Faulkner 26.04
Tina Street 34.02
Jonathon Barnard 22.15
Taylor Cooper 28.31
Glen Medcalf 23.23
Amanda Chalk 28.5
Gareth Evans 20.45
Sarah Sherman 28.54

1 Mile

Darren Palmer 5.56
Mitchel Robson 6.51
Alana Jane Williams 8.13
Gareth Evans 5.51
Nick Myers 6.58

Five Mile

Amanda Chalk 49.31
Teresa Robson 44.26
Sarah Sherman 48.32
Tori Collinson 44.27
Paddy Connors 30.47
David Chalk 37.2
Sam Cox 38.36
Alana Jane Williams 48.58
Francesca Horn 45.53
Marcus Hewitt 42.43
Gareth Evans 35.23
Clare Jesson 42.27
Lindsay Bowers 52.36
Glen Medcalf 40.23


Leah Tavner 46.13
Sarah Sherman 1;01.43
David Chalk 46.19
Alana Jane Williams 58.38
Helen Arwen Bonaer 46.24

How well do you know Woolston? 

This month I’m testing your powers of observation. Below are some photos taken around Woolston, you will almost certainly have passed all these places many times but can you spot where in Woolston they were taken?

Did you guess all the flying feet in last month’s quiz? If not, here they are.

East Farm a weekend of fun,  frolics and a fracture

For one group of Spitfires the Bank Holiday weekend was all about fun at the farm, East Farm, Dorset to be exact. Saturday kicked off with the East Farm Half Marathon to get everyone  nicely warmed up. Helen Arwen Bonaer showed everyone Spitfires are a force to be reckoned with by crossing the line in fourth place! What a great effort.

The East Farm Frolic, a 12 hour relay and solo race to complete as many 7k laps as possible, took place the next day. The course included woodland, two farmyards and a BIG hill. Everyone got a splendid animal themed medal at the end. Sadly, one Spitfire came home wth a little something extra, a large black boot. Poor Kylie fell and fractured her foot somewhere along the way. Hopefully she will soon be on the mend.

Getting on track with a track session

On 30 August a group of Spitfires joined Gill at the Sports Centre running track for a fast and furious track session. The emphasis this time was on posture and how small changes can improve your running. This is the first of several coaching sessions over the coming months so, if you missed out, don’t worry there will be other opportunities to have fun at the track. Keep an eye on Facebook for further details.


Guide running training 

If you would be interesting in trying to become a guide runner to run with visually impaired runners let Alana know. She is in contact with one of the RD’s at Whiteley who is organising training sessions. A truly worthy thing to do and very rewarding. Think of all the good karma!


Junior parkrun – help needed!

Junior parkrun is a fantastic way to get the littlies involved in running. There are now events at Riverside Park and Netley every Sunday morning. These fantastic events are where the runners of the future learn to love running but they can’t keep happening if people don’t get involved and volunteer. If your little ones run Junior parkrun or you just want to give something back to the running community please consider volunteering. The events are shorter than parkrun so don’t take up too much of your Sunday morning, especially if you’re there anyway while your children run. It’s simple and it’s fun. Click here to volunteer! You know you want to.

 Charity begins in Cornwall

Exiled Spitfire Vicky Woodell-Hall will be moving back from Cornwall in October. In the meantime she has been busy running twenty miles along the Cornish Coastal Path to raise money for a local children’s charity called Ellie’s Haven. This is a marvellous charity providing  great holidays in Looe Valley, Cornwall, for families caring for children with life limiting ilnsses. If you’d like the warm fuzzy feeling of helping without the pain of running the hilly Cornish Coast you can donate here.

 Try Triathlon

As you may know the Itchen Spitfires have a triathlon group and we are an affiliated triathlon club. Sergio, an experienced triathlete, has taken over as chairman of the Itchen Spitfires Triathlon Club. If anyone would like to have a go at a triathlon or even a duathlon, check out the Facebook Group or have a chat with Sergio.

And finally… 

For anyone suffering withdrawal symptoms after the last RR10 of the season, all is not lost. The wonderfully wild and rugged CC6’s are just around the corner. The 8 race series runs from September through until March wth races taking place on Sunday mornings. Each race is around 4.5 miles of exciting winter cross country fun to add a little extra challenge to your Sunday training runs.

The Spitfires are hosting the first race in September. The date will be 17 September so keep an eye on Facebook and keep your diaries clear! If you want to run in this fabulous series you need to either marshal at this event or volunteer at another CC6 (ticket collecting, tent erecting etc). If you haven’t yet experienced a CC6 you haven’t lived! Don’t miss out on the fun, watch this space and the Facebook group for further updates.

#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne