Newsletter April 2019

Parkrun Tourism - Cassiobury Parkrun

By Maria Bowers

My 8 yr old daughter and I tried out this parkun. It is in Watford, so perfect if you're visiting the Harry Potter tour (as we had done the day before). It's also just about reachable in a morning from Southampton, so a contender if you're after collecting Cs for THAT parkrun challenge!

The parkrun website says there's no on street parking near this parkrun and to pay to park in Watford station. Ignore that - there is LOADS! It's all permit parking nearby, but only mon-fri so park to your hearts delight on a Saturday morning.

They meet at the café in the middle of the park. There's plenty of toilets there so you can do your pre-run safety wee, then walk down to the start. The lady doing the new runners briefing was very friendly. It was a little crowded at the start, but soon thinned out.

This is a 3 lapper, on very flat tarmac park paths. I dunno if it was because me and my daughter just chatted on the way round, or that we were still buzzing from our Harry Potter tour the day before, but this parkrun was really, really enjoyable and somehow each lap did not feel a mile long. Lots of encouragement on the way round from the marshals.

Post run drinks and snacks take place in the café afterwards, but we didn't stick around for that as we had vast amounts of all you can eat Premier Inn breakfast to get back to.

Nashville Marathon

By Diane Abraham

27th April the day before many are getting ready to run London Marathon and I am stood at the start of Nashville Marathon, Tennessee USA!

It’s 7:15am an early start as it gets so hot! A slow start as the half marathon and marathoners are all starting together but finally I cross the start line straight into a down hill, which turned out to be one of the rare downhills I would see! Nashville has a lot of inclines and it was already getting hotter! There was water and energy gels every two miles. The half marathon went their separate ways and the numbers greatly reduced for the remaining Marathoners. We ran through small neighbourhoods where people were hosing us down and handing out oranges which were a real treat!

We ran through a baseball field where we could see ourselves on a huge guitar screen. All roads were closed for the marathon and we even ran down some closed highways, I could see signs for Chattanooga and Knoxville reminding me I was running in America. The final 4 miles included 2 miles of hill but leading into a beautiful country park with stunning views. Finally I could see the finish in the horizon, the Nissan Stadium home of the Tennessee Titans, which again was at the top of a hill! But the cheering crowds lined the hill encouraging everyone along and across the finish line.

The medal was amazing a guitar with a flashing fret board and then a free ice cold beer bliss! A long way to go but truly an amazing experience.

London Marathon

By Meeje Brett

As you know some know our members secured a place this year in the 39th Edition of one of the worlds's greatest marathons, Virgin Money London Marathon, on Sunday 28th April 2019. For those who have been living under a rock, this is THE biggest date in the run calendar.

When the ballot entry seemed a good idea back in the spring, who would have thought that so many would have been successful?

So with the training miles completed, apps downloaded, bags packed (apart from Lee who forgot to take his pants) & carbs refueled we made our way to the start line.

Some of us were running, anticipating the journey while pounding the tarmac around the course with 39,999 others, hoping to see someone famous & soak up the atmosphere. Some of us were dropping off loved ones & making our way to the next point in order to get a glimpse & do some shouting in true Spitfire style. The weather conditions were ideal & everybody did an amazing job of completing it. Runners remember, you are all better than MO because he can only run for 2 hours!

Here are some words that best describe the experience;
F**k that hurt - Paddy
Bucket List checked - Deeje
Exciting, rewarding, painful - Ian
Phenomenal, emotional, exhilarating - Laura
Forgot my pants - Lee
Intense, emotional, awesome - Claire
Overwhelming, emotional, amazing - Alana
Surreal, squished, emotional - Rosie
Trapped on Tube - Meeje
Queue queue queue - James

Phoenix Running - Thames Towpath

By Rachael Hatton

Christmas present - a race entry Phoenix Running Day 1; Top Run along the Thames towpath. Bit worrying as fell out of love with running over the winter months. So I did C25K for the second time this year with the Spitfires - Graduated in March.

Even more worrying Mother’s Day present - race entry Phoenix Running Day 2 - Groovy Baby!

It was the start of the Ten-in-Ten event, timed and laps along the towpath going in opposite directions each day. Chilly start to both days, a bit of rain, sunshine. The course a mixture of concrete, stones, a few cobbles and a steep bridge! Opposite direction, concrete, bumpy, tree roots, gates through the lock.

Intentions were to do 2 laps on both days (10k). Ended up with a PB HM on the Saturday. Sunday went to do 2 laps, had a little comfort break, drank some water, ate some sweets and went out for another lap. Encouragement from other runners, my husband and the Marshalls ended up doing a 4th lap....... back to back Half marathons!!

A love for running found again.

Sheffield Half Marathon

By Rachel Sutch

I don't normally travel miles away for a race but I combined this one with a visit to family up north.

Sheffield half marathon was on 14th April and it was a chilly but dry day. After queueing for the loo for 45 mins I just had time to drop of my bag and then line up with around 8000 runners. The first mile took us out of the city centre then it was 6 miles of uphill until we'd climbed over 1000 feet. My legs were burning but the views of the Peak district made it worth it. We then turned off the main road and from then on it was all downhill running, past fields of sheep and lambs back down to the city. The support was great,people were out with jelly babies and orange slices. Lots of marshalls and 4 water stations.

I'd set off thinking I'd be happy finishing in about 2.15/2.20 but as I passed the 2.15 pacer then 2.10 and in the last mile 2.05 I knew it was better than I anticipated. I did it in 2.02 so was really happy. At the finish we got a medal,t-shirt and decent goody bag.

Definitely a race I'd go back to. Well organised and stunning views.

London Landmarks Half Marathon

By Andy Walker

Last year I went with Helen Bonaer to see her run the inagural London Landmarks half marathon. Afterwards I thought ‘that looked fun’, so a few weeks later post several drinks & buoyed with a dose of what my sister in law describes as Mandrome (Note: Mandrome = A blind over confidence in your own abilities with no supporting basis in skill , training or experience) I thought sure I’ve never run over 10k before, but hey, how hard can it be. Entered the ballot & blow me got in!!

Well with demand clearly high and people gagging for places I figured there’s no backing out now - time to pull on the big boy pants and get stuck in. Fortunately in the intervening months I did run a fair few 10 milers & actually did some proper training. This probably avoided a breakdown and sobbing fit at mile 7 which would have been 1) embarrassing for me and 2) let’s face it no marshal wants to be watching a grown man (giant) crying for his mummy in the middle of our great capital.

So on the day I wandered up to the assembly area on the mall with the words of my girlfriend; “don’t s**t yourself” & Helen “don’t f**k it up” ringing in my ears. (Note: my girlfriend & bestie also said some very nice things, but they aren't as funny!).

The organisers had a flawless set up in operation. Marshals all over the place pointing you to the bag drop (with giant foam hands!). A seem less drop off and plenty of room for everyone to prepare. The motivators & announcers were fantastic and while it took 10-15 minutes from joining my wave to get over the start line for a race of that scale pretty good.

Once we were off the course was fantastic. Closed Barriered roads all the way and apart from two unavoidable pinch points mostly wide. There are two noticeable climbs; one just East of Cannon Street station and one at Charing Cross on the embankment but apart from that a largely flat course. There were motivators, bands and entertainment dotted round the course and well placed water stations. I would say the high point was an organiser running in the race piping music and commentating. But the music selection was a bit suspect, I’m more of a Metallica than ABBA man personally. Hey ho each to their own.

One massive plus is the route weaves back and forth multiple times so if you want a race with multiple viewing opportunities for spectators this is perfect, 5-6 times in the race easily, more with the use of the underground. Ideal if you want to bring the family and friends along. (Pro tip: If you're using running to hide from the balliffs, Police or a high street survey clipboard fiend this isn't the one for you).

So how did I do? Well as this was my first half marathon I set myself the goal of running sub 2 hours. Stretching, but surely far from impossible? Did I do it??... Ha not even close! (2:22).

I was in a slow wave, had never run 13 miles even in training, it was hot, and I got very grumpy as my speed dropped - frankly by the 2nd climb at Charing Cross station I was using language that would have made a North Sea trawler captain blush.

So if it sounds unpleasant and like I hated every minute, definitely.... However, when I crossed the line and trotted over to my girlfriend at the barrier for a hug the feeling of finishing my first half marathon was unbelievable. Sure it was hard, sure I’ll do my next one differently. But, I’d finally finished one!! Would I go back and do that all over again? - in a heartbeat.

Manchester Marathon

By Helen Bonaer

Sunday 7 th April 2019 saw a small but very determined contingent of Spitfires ready and waiting to take on the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon. Myself, Andy HERMAN, Becky DIGGLE, Richard DIGGLE, Marcus HEWIT and Stu RUSSELL. All had overcome 1001 niggles, tiredness and finally the 'is it bloody here yet' relentless training in the months before hand. Andy Herman even had a lovely dose of man flu for the preceding 2 days that he kindly shared with the support crew who had thoughtfully come along to get drunk before and after the race in our honour. Thanks for all the heckles Rosie PHILLIPS, Paddy CONNORS, Liz & Simon SMITH, Andrea HEWIT and Lorna BENNET – those brief shouts certainly do keep you going! Not to be left out Richard DIGGLE decided 4 hours sleep and a long train journey from the football was the best preparation for the onslaught ..... Man logic.

The day dawned on perfect Marathon weather, over cast, around 9 degrees, no wind and no prospect of sun .... This was a day made for a Marathon, and what a marathon it was! It was fantastically well organised with water stations approx. every 2 miles and gels added every other one after the half way point. Getting around was amazingly simple thanks to the great tram system for runners and spectators alike. The course is billed as one of the flattest and it certainly was 313ft total elevation according to strava. The people of Manchester turned out in their thousands at every step of the way, there was no such thing as a quiet section, in the town centres the crowd was 6 to 7 people deep, in the residential areas houses had turned their gardens into party zones and all the neighbours had come too. The cries of "you guys are bloody inspirations" at mile 6 would have been better not coming from a man in rags with a can of special brew for company at 9:45am but at least he was happy and involved too! It really was an amazing marathon in an amazing city and I highly recommend you put it to the top of your list. I even saw some of the elites 4 miles from the end who had run back to cheer runners in!

Unbeknown to most of us on the finish line there was a dedicated team of spitfires watching at home and also cheering us on, it was lovely to see all the comments later that day from you all celebrating when we made it over the line, thank you so much for that! I finally got to read them all at the airport later that day when I had stopped crying and could focus on words again.

Cracking times by all as follows

Entries are open for 2020!!!!!

Salisbury 10

By Sara Taylor

14th April saw 16 Spitfires take to the streets of Salisbury for the 8th HRRL run of the season.

The race set off out of the City limits along Stratford Road, over the river Avon and out along the lower Woodford road. At the 5-mile point the race crosses the river and heads back towards the City along the Upper Woodford road. At this point it was largely flat run with fine weather, but shortly after the turn we hit what could be described as a ‘cheeky little hill’. The race continued before another slightly less ‘cheeky little hill’ around the 7-mile point. The remaining run into the City on the final 2 miles was flat. The closing stages of the race were around the running track. This ensured a great atmosphere to finish the race.

Although all the Spitfires were amazing there were PBs to be had with:
Gilliam McClure1:04:12
Andy Walker1:33:45
Sara Taylor1:41:13
Sue Haig1:54:48

Kerry Murray who not only got a 9½ minute PB 1:54:56 but also helped another runner round the course, which shows what an amazing club, we are.

In summary this event was extremely well organised, efficient friendly marshalling, and a great route through superb countryside. A great venue, great T-shirt, and the use of recyclable cups! But it might be worth getting entries in early for next year as it’s going from strength to strength and sells out quickly.

Our HRRL teams current league standings are:
Men’s A Team2nd Place (currently in a promotion place!)
Men’s B Team12th Place
Men’s C Team16th Place
Ladies A Team4th Place
Ladies B Team9th Place
Ladies C Team16th Place

Personal Bests

Well done to everyone who got a new PB this month!

Junior ParkRun

Grace Bowers10:42
Esther Stewart11:07

ParkRun / 5 km

Andy Walker25:42
Gregory Bowers37:44
Esther Stewart29:42
Jamie Foster17:45
Adam Ruddy19:30
Rach Hatters38:40
Claire McCarthy35:17

10 Miles

Sue Haig1:54:48
Andy Walker1:33:43
Gil McClure1:04:12
Kerry Murray1:54:56
Sara Taylor1:41:13

Half Marathon

Rach Hatters3:11:23


Helen Bonaer3:27:33
Andy Herman3:02:00
Lana Williams5:17:24
Lee Donnarumma4:05:48
Marcus Hewit5:04:27


Emma WilsonTestway Ultra 50 Miles10:43:36
Emma WilsonFox Ultra 60 km7:29:59
Andy WardFox Ultra 60 km7:29:34
Jamie Foster1500m4:50
Adam Ruddy1500m5:18
Adam Ruddy1 Mile5:38
Andy HermanAdult Junior Parkrun7:02

Spitfire of the Month

Congratulations to Andy Ward, who is our Spitfire of the month!

Andy is a longstanding member of the club who has gone from not being able to run three years ago to having the enviable ability of being able to run crazy distances on little to no training. He is incredibly kind and friendly and super supportive of all his fellow spitfires. He signed up to run a 39 mile ultra at the last minute purely to support and keep company a fellow spitfire. He is always there to support his club mates at milestone parkrun events, even though he is often injured, and takes genuine care and interest in the well-being of both older and newer spitfires.

As well as being supportive of fellow spitfires he is also selfless towards his fellow runners, I have seen him in the past give up PBS and first spitfire home to stop to help seriously injured runners in the portsmouth coastal half marathon. Very well deserved.

Upcoming Events

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

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this month’s newsletter.