Newsletter September 2017


Autumn running

Sadly, Summer is well and truly over and it’s time to break out the layers. Oddly, layering up isn’t just about comfort. When you run in the cold your blood vessels constrict to protect your core temperature, meaning circulation to your muscles, joints and skin decreases and you become more prone to injury. If you want to avoid this (and who doesn’t) thin layers you can strip off if you begin to overheat are the order of the day. Don’t forget your head either, heat rises and you can lose body heat very quickly if you’re bare headed so a cap or beanie is a great idea.

The other thing to think about as the days get shorter, is visibility. It may not be dark when you set out, but it might be dark before you finish your run so make sure you can be seen. Being seen in the dark doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are some great reflective products, such as clip on lights, Velcro strips, LED armbands and belts you can simply wrap around your normal running gear, none of which will break the bank but they might save you getting knocked down and breaking something far more vital.

Finally, all those autumn leaves might be crunchy fun to run through but they can be a minefield. Watch out for potholes and other obstacles hidden under the leaves. If it’s been raining they can be almost as slippery as a layer of ice too. If you are running where the paths or trails are covered with leaves it’s worth exercising extra caution, or maybe even taking a walk break.

Sprints at the Sports Centre

Gill held another of his training sessions at the Spots Centre on 6 September. This was great news for all the Spitfires trying hard to get a September parkrun PB for the Championships. After a warm up,  the training focused on technique and form to help all runners, from the super speedy to the slower than they’d like to be, with their finish sprints. If you didn’t go along and are wondering why you’re being overtaken on the finish line by those who did it might be worth going to the next one.

The Summer Streetmate Challenge

It may have been  woefully wet afternoon but the Summer Streetmate Challenge certainly put the fun back into Sunday 10 September. The challenge was Lee’s brainchild and he put in a massive amount of work planning and organising everything. The idea was for teams of Spitfires to run around the streets of Southampton collecting selfies with street signs. They had to find signs beginning with as many letters of the alphabet as possible and points were awarded for the number of letters in each one.

The blue team scored 20 bonus points for getting the whole A to Z (minus X and Z as Lee discover there aren’t anything X and Z street names) and were worthy winners with a massive 348 points. The Green team scored 331, the White team 304, the Yellow team 297 and the Red team 277. The White team found the highest scoring Road name, Freemantle Common Road and the most popular road was Northern Anchorage, snapped by the Blue, Yellow and White teams. The most difficult letter to find was Y. The rain may have been pouring down and everyone came back to the Yacht Pub looking like drowned rats but they all had great big smiles on their faces. Thanks to John and Rachel they had beer and cider to look forward to at the end along with yummy chocolate brownies supplied by Meeje.

Marvellous marshalling at Fleming Park

It takes a special kind of person to get up early on a chilly Sunday morning to stand around on a windy field for a couple of hours marshalling a cross country race. On 17 September 75 dedicated Spitfires did just that for the Fleming Park CC6. What’s more, they did it with lots of smiles, laughs and a little bit of cake thanks to Alana.

After masses of hard work behind the scenes by Lee, Gill and the new team captains Leah and Darren did a great job of organising everyone. It may not have been the most technical cross country race, there wasn’t much mud or too many exciting obstacles, but the enthusiasm of the marshalling team was outstanding.  Every marshal showed true Spitfire spirit cheering and encouraging all the runners on the three lap course. The race ended with a stream of Spitfires cheering the amazing Annie to the finish line and an international team of gazebo dismantlers.

A few things you probably didn’t know about feet

Runner’s feet may not always be pretty, what with the black toenails, blisters and goodness knows what else. Love them or hate them though, the human foot is a pretty amazing piece of kit. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and over a hundred ligaments, muscles and tendons. Feet also have nearly 8000 nerves, which explains why feet are the most ticklish part of the body. Just standing still puts feet under a lot of strain. When you run, the pressure on them can be as much as four times your body weight. It’s no surprise foot injuries are common, especially amongst runners.

Whether you have flat feet or super high arches you weren’t born that way. Babies have a special pad of fat where their arches will one day be. The arch usually appears between 2 and 3 years of age. Not all the fat disappears though. We all have a natural cushioning fat pad on the bottoms of our feet and the skin on the soles is the thickest on our body. In our 30’s and 40’s this pad gradually thins out and this can lead to foot pain unless we wear properly cushioned footwear.

Toes help your feet to bear weight and help you balance. Most people have 10 but one in every 500 to 1000 people are polydactyls, meaning they have extra toes or fingers. Between 20 and 30% of people have Morton’s Toe, meaning their second toe is longer than their big toe. This can lead to callusing or pain in the ball or arch of the foot. It can also lead to jogger’s toenail, where the nail turns black and eventually falls off. Long distance runners are also susceptible to this. Toenails grow around 1mm a month, compared to 3mm for fingernails. If you do lose a toenail, it takes at least five months to grow back. As we get older our toenails grow more slowly and this can lead to thickening making them hard to cut.

Each human foot contains around 125,000 sweat glands and can produce as much as a pint of sweat per day. Oddly though, stinky feet are not caused by the sweat, it doesn’t actually smell. The horrible pong comes from odour causing bacteria that thrive in dark, damp conditions and set up home in shoes and socks. These bacteria feed on dead skin and produce cheesy smelling gasses and acids. Apparently, it’s possible to make real cheese from foot bugs. In Dublin in 2013 there was an exhibition of a variety of cheeses made from foot, armpit and belly button bacteria. That is one cheeseboard I think I’d steer clear of!

Behind the scenes at parkrun

The spotlight was on parkrun this month because September was Championship parkrun month and every Spitfire was doing their best to get a PB. With this in mind, I thought I’d take a behind the scenes look at all the work that goes on to make this fabulous free event take place every week. It all starts when most parkrunners are still hitting the snooze button. A group of dedicated volunteers get to the venue at least an hour before parkrun starts to pick up all the equipment, set out cones, create the finish funnel and ride round on bikes putting notices up around the park. The Run Director is usually there early too, making sure everything is set up properly and organising all the other volunteers. All this happens before most people even arrive.

While the RD is busy giving the pre run briefing the marshals dash off to their positions around the course and the timekeepers stand by to start the stop watches. Then they’re off, with the lead bike volunteer pedalling like mad to stay in front. Out on the course the marshals make sure everyone goes the right way and gets a cheer as they pass by while the tail runners encourage the slowest runners. On the finish line the timekeepers click their stopwatches every time a runner crosses the line and  the token collectors hand out the finish tokens. Meanwhile the funnel managers make sure everyone stays in line, no one ducks out of the funnel and everyone keeps moving while the scanners scan all the tokens and barcodes.

Most people think the work is over once the tail runners have seen the last person safely across the line. In fact the really hard work is just beginning. All the things that were set out before parkrun started have to be picked up, usually by the same people who set them out. Then they have to be  packed on the parkrun cart and taken back to Holly Lodge ready for next week. Once this is done the RD and a team of token sorters head off towards the Hawthorns Cafe. This is where all the information from the stop watches and scanners is downloaded onto the parkrun laptop. This is not always as quick and easy as you’d think. Then any barcodes that didn’t scan properly have to be manually entered onto the computer. Meanwhile, the token sorters are getting all those tokens back in order ready for next week. Finally, at around eleven o’clock, the last of the volunteers can go home for a well earned rest.

The scenic Solent Half Marathon

Photo thanks to Amanda Chalk

Parkrun wasn’t the only Championship event this month. Sunday 24 September was the day of the first Championsip long distance race, the Solent Half Marathon. Started in 2014 by Hardley Runners, this is a relatively new Half Marathon, with a largely flat and enviably scenic one lap course winding along New Forest roads, around Exbury and along the Solent shore at Lepe.

Pretty it may have been but, despite a beautiful sunny day, the six Spitfires taking part didn’t have much time for sightseeing. They were all too busy trying to get round 13.1 miles as fast as they could and grab maximum championship points. Amanda Chalk, who had to pull out of the race at the last minute, did a great job of taking photos and the runners did a great job of making a half marathon look simple.

Photos thanks to Amanda Chalk

Interview with a Spitfire 

This month’s Spitfire of the Month is Teresa Robson. You may know her from her regular posts on Facebook inviting you on a Sunday long run. You may even have run with her on one. She is also usually found at Southampton Parkrun, running, volunteering and generally cheering everyone on.  If you want to find out more about her, read on…



When did you take up running and why?

I started running in March 2015 as a running buddy for Russell’s wife Tracy.

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

Gerry and Mitchell were Spitfires but there was no way I was a runner. I thought it was boring. Then Russ asked Gerry if I would do the beginners course with Tracy for nine weeks. It was so much better to run with someone rather than on my own. Once the course had finished and I ran my first parkrun I was hooked and I haven’t looked back.

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

One Thursday night I was running back to the feather from Vicky Park and a rat ran across my foot.

What was your most memorable running moment?

It has to be running my first marathon with Tori. We both worked so hard for that race and it paid off. The amazing support at the finish from all the Spitfires and my family was beyond words. Would I do one again? Hell yes!!!

You organise lots of informal Sunday runs. How do you come up with routes each week?

Poaching some of the long runs I have done with Rachel like the Hangover Route. Listening to other runners. Adapting them to cater for everyone. Brain storming with Tori, and Mitchell and I have had a go at plotting a couple on map my run. Also the half marathon routes have been used and abused.

If you could go for a run with anyone (alive, dead, real life or fictional character) who would it be and why?

Sorry guys if you know me you know it has to be Jon Bon Jovi. If I cannot be stuck in a lift with him, running a very long run with him will do. I don’t know say a 24 hour Endure. Sorry Gerry.

What is your favourite bit of running kit?

It has to be my Spitfires racing top. It’s my most favourite running top of all of them.

The Spitfires take over the Winchester Half Marathon

The Solent Half Marathon might have been part of the Spitfire Championship but there was a huge Spitfire presence at the Winchester Half Marathon on the same day. In fact there were so many of them it felt a little like a Spitfire takeover. First they infiltrated the pacers team and turned it into a Spitfire dominated orange army, pacing times from the super speedy to the tail motivators. The VIP pacer’s dressing room in Winchester Guildhall looked very much like a Spitfire convention, especially when Gill turned up in his official organiser’s bib and ear piece.

Then there was the huge and extremely loud team of Spitfire marshals organised by Amanda. They certainly brought the party atmosphere to the final mile of the course and showed that Spitfire marshals really are the best there are. After a good six miles of tough uphill, some undulating bits and a pleasantly scenic finish past St Catherine’s Hill into the city, they were the best welcome party a tired runner could wish for. Maybe next year they should rename it the Spitfire Half Marathon?

September PB’s 


Be prepared for a lot of scrolling! As September was parkrun championship month it’s no surprise to see a huge number of parkrun PB’s this month. In fact I think it may be a record. Dave Keates was working late into the night to keep up with them all. What a great month!



Massi Squaletti 17.27
Paddy Conners 18.11
Thomas Wharton 18.49
Keith Harris 19.31
Helen Arwen Bonear 21.16
David Chalk 21.58
Jonathon Barnard 22.02
Sam Cox 22.14
Marcus Hewitt 23.17
Tasha Ault 26.57
Alana Jane Williams 27.36
Amanda Chalk 27.44
Taylor Cooper 28.22
Sarah Sherman 28.36
Sue Haig 30.36
Jenifer Fradgley 24.28
Gerry Robson 18.05
Darren Palmer 20.33
David L’Enfant 22.2
Nick Myers 23.46
Teresa Robson 26.13
Christopher Horn 27.22
Donna Paddick 27.43
Glen Medical 23.08
Gareth Evans 20.38
Victoria Collinson 24.36
Dan Grace 28.02
Aisha Murphy 28.07
Louise Pead 28.42
Lindsay Bowers 31.13
Kali Banda 19.5
Becky Diggle 24.1
Tyrone Bowers 24.21
Clare Jesson 25.17
Alana Nairn 31.27
Gary Cahill 28.29
Gemma Scarf 30.23
Robin Stacey 20.15
Keith Das 23.16
Charlotte Rennie 23.5


Gareth Evans 45.37

Half Marathon

Helen Arwen Bonaer 1:47:39
Darren Palmer 1:41:31
Amanda Chalk 2:06:44
Glen Medcalf 1:52:30
David Chalk 1:51:58
David Chalk 1:44:53
Diane Abraham 1:45:53
Andy Ward 1:47:33


Neil Glasspool 4:16:18 Marathon

Whose Tattoos? 

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

Did you spot where in Woolston I was last month? If not here are the answers.

Run and Talk with a selfie twist 

Phot thanks to John Grant

The last club night of the month was one of the Spitfires regular Run and Talk events, aimed at improving mental wellbeing through running, getting people talking about mental health and breaking down the stigma around it. Run and Talk night also gives runners of different abilities the chance to run together and get to know each other better, while the walking group lets non running family and friends and injured runners join the fun.

Run and Talk runs are a little different to normal club runs. Rather than groups running at different speeds, every group runs at the speed of the slowest runner, meaning everyone gets the chance to chat. This time there was an extra twist. Each group was given a street sign to find and take a group selfie with, a little like the Street Mate Challenge earlier in the month. This time there would be a prize for the most interesting photo. A fun evening, full of chat and laughter was rounded off by pizza and beer thanks to John and Rachel. If you missed out on the fun this time, don’t worry, Abi and Dani are already planning the next Run and Talk session.

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.


Thursday groups 

The 5k times for Thursday groups have changed from 5k+2 minutes and are now based on your 5k time alone. This means you should be in the group based on your fastest 5k time unless you have been injured or out for some reason. Groups are subject to change as run leaders may not be able to make every session and groups may sometimes have to merge.

 Group  Time  Run Leader
 A  32+  Rachel – Amelia
 B  30-31  Paul Leeming – Rose Marie – Tasha Ault
 C  28-29  Dani – Russ – Tori
 D  26-27  Meeje – Francesca – Abigail
E  25-26  Diane – Julie – Christopher Harney
 F  24-25  Paul Shave –  Dave Brett
 G  22-23  Chris Walker – Tash Avery – Dave Keates
 H  Under 22  John – Gilliam – Tash Avery

If your parkrun or 5k PB changes or you are consistently at the front of your group it may be time to move up. That said, there is no pressure to move up unless you feel happy to.

Duathlon News

In conjunction with the Itchen Spitfires Triathlon Club, Sergio will be running a club Duathlon on 15 October. This event will start at the Feather and at 8am and will be open to all members no matter what bike they have. There will be options for a run – cycle – run 2.5k – 10k – 2.5k or 5k – 20k – 5k and kit and bikes can be left with Sergio whilst running. Anyone who doesn’t want to take part is welcome to come along to marshal. The more the merrier.

New Kit In Town

If you like hats you’re going to LOVE the new ISRC baseball cap. It’s just the thing to keep the rain or sun out of your eyes and keep your head warm, plus it looks great. The cap is one size with an adjustable Velcro rip strip and costs £10.00. What a bargain!

Cant wait to get one? See the kit page and the kit order form for ordering details.  Make payment. Make sure you use your name as payee reference so our wonderful kit fairy knows it comes from you. Send an email to with, your name, the quantity, the total amount paid. Simple –  but, if you have any queries,  email Kit Fairy Julie or have a word with her when you see her at club.

And finally… 

There was a double parkrun celebration this month when two Spitfires reached special milestones. Lindy Seymour ran her hundredth parkrun and, on the same day, husband Perri Seymour ran his fiftieth. What a pair of stars!





#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne