By Ian Hart
There are pros and cons to having relations living abroad. On the plus, side having a son living in Canada opens up all sorts of parkrun tourist possibilities – or so you might think.
Sadly there are only 5 Canadian parkruns within a 600 mile radius of North Vancouver, and even getting to the impressive sounding Richmond Olympic parkrun (the main event in Vancouver) is something of a trek from the north shore. No rolling out of the house at 8:40 followed by a 10 minute cycle to the common here. In fact the first decision was whether to bother at all, as I had done it once before last summer. The lure was to stay in the warm flat and watch Saints v Cardiff (k.o. 7:00am local time!). Sadly Kate succumbed to the easy life (which she later regretted, result 1:2, enough said), but your intrepid reporter is made of hardier stuff (and has seen Saints lose at home several times before).
After a reminder briefing on directions to the event, repeated several times until I could recite them out loud, and at 7:10am I was off. 28 stops on the 240 bus, followed by 8 stops on the skytrain saw me in the Richmond district, three quarters of the way back to the airport we arrived at the previous afternoon.
Do not run away with the idea that Richmond Olympic is either in an Olympic stadium or park, or that it features the wild outdoors, bears, Mounties or other Canadian stereotypes. In fact it is a simple out and back along a decent, flat wide paved walkway, running along alongside a fairly low rise industrial part of the Fraser river (imagine a cross between Weston Shore & Fareham parkrun).
If you have done much tourism you will know that often at smaller events they will ask folks how far they have come to be here etc. Sadly before I could impress everyone I was well and truly out gunned by a guy who had flown in that very morning from Melbourne Australia, and come straight from the airport! Not only that, but because he had crossed the international date line he had already completed a parkrun ‘today’ in Australia i.e. a different continent. I kept my mouth shut after that and probably won’t see those who do the double of Netley Abbey and Southampton on New Year’s Day in quite the same way in the future.
Oh the run? Finished 6th out of 56 and took 2 seconds off my previous time – thanks for asking. Afterwards straight into nearest Tim Hortons for coffee and maple doughnut. Will be back to fly the flag again in August.
By Catherine Crocker
The Imperial Series is a set of three 10 mile races that once completed entitles you to another bit of race bling. The races are billed as 1 flat-ish road race, 1 seafront race and 1 hilly trail race. The series is the brain child of an Itchen Spitfires favourite - White Star Running.
On 10th February 3 intrepid Spitfires set off down the M27 towards Dorset under grey skies. We were all hoping the rain would hold off and thankfully it did. The race started in the grounds of Lytchett Minster School and is organised by the local run club Lytchett Manor Striders. It is run entirely on roads and pavements, but despite the race being advertised as a flat-ish road race there was no "flat" or "ish" about some of the hills especially between miles 6 and 8. The race winds its way out of Lytchett Minster to Lytchett Matravers and after a circuit of the village you head downhill towards the finish line.
The race was well organised and everyone was so friendly, timing was done the old fashioned way - with pen and paper and the highlight was the selection of cake available at the end. All the cakes were provided by the run club and I would suggest that everyone’s taste was catered for as the selection was huge and there was plenty left for some of us runners who were towards the back of the pack! The goody bag (well no bag was involved) was a medal, a bottle of water and a baseball cap and of course the afore mentioned cakes. Despite an eventful journey home which involved a flipsy gearstick and being rescued by Santa we had a lovely time and I would recommend this race to anyone who wants a change from the big, expensive, all singing, all dancing 10 mile race that happens in the other direction along the South coast.
Who would believe the difference 2 weeks makes, from rain threatening grey skies to brilliant sunshine and blue skies. Bournemouth Athletic Club certainly ordered the right weather and so the same 3 Spitfires again set off for Dorset to run 10 miles along Bournemouth seafront. An early start meant it was a bit chilly but we soon warmed up as we headed along Bournemouth promenade towards Southbourne.
Thankfully we didn’t have to run up any zig zags to get onto the road at Southbourne instead it was a gentle slope with a water station at the top and views of the Isle of Wight and the Purbeck Hills in the distance. The race then winds around the houses before you join the seafront again at Boscombe and then head back towards the finish line at Bournemouth pier. Bournemouth looks at its best on a sunny day and hearing the wave’s crash onto the shore as you run along makes it a pretty special place to put one foot in front of the other.
The medal had bucket and spade detailing and the goody bag contained a flapjack, water, moisturising cream, toothpaste, mints and a woolly hat.
A must do race if you enjoy the coast and your lucky enough to have great weather.
The last race of the series is on 9th March so you’ll have to wait until the next newsletter to hear about it...
By Sharon Stewart
Photos by Ian Buckman and Benjamin Stewart
On a sunny but windy Sunday in February a few Spitfires went to Royal Victoria Country Park to take part in a race organised by the Stroke Association. There were two distances being run; a 5k and a 10k. After a confusing start to the event, we eventually set off. The start line was outside the Chapel and commenced with a lap of the field. The course took us around the back of the Country Park seeing areas that we don’t normally see during Netley parkrun.
As the 10k was two laps of the 5k course, there were many signs to read and marshals to listen to, to ensure that we all stayed on the right course. At one point I wasn’t sure if I should be going left or right but thankfully Glenn was able to point me in the right direction. The usual Spitfire support was in full force as I approached the finish. Those that had completed the 5k course were lining the finish line along with Ben who were all cheering loudly! Even the announcer knew my name by the time I crossed the line! A medal and a selection of snacks were on offer for everyone who completed their chosen distance.
By Chris Jones
Photos by Tracy Penney and Ian Buckman
It’s the last weekend in February, so it must be the Winchester 10k. An impressive turn out of 21 Spitfires attended the 36th running of this event. An early 8:30 start on a chilly but very pleasant sunny morning saw us set on a slightly changed course from last year. A quick lap round the historical town centre, then we set off north of Winchester. It’s a challenging course with many hills, but in fairness whilst long the gradients are mainly gradual (or at least that’s what I kept telling myself).
1st Spitfire home and 6th overall was Stuart Appleby in a very impressive 36:04. A well organised event, the only criticism I would make was the congestion in the finishing funnel making it difficult to cheer people home. Congratulations to all the Spitfires, awesome support from everyone as always... Keep running.
By Alana Williams
Photos by Christopher Stocks
A very small but amazing contingent of Spitfires turned up for this new course in the forest – general consensus is it’s a great course, and it’s certainly my new favourite! Not too hilly, but really pretty, and with a nice out & back loop you get to see the front runners coming past too :)
To start with just Hannah, Susan, Chris and I were there – we started thinking we’d have no men to run, but low and behold our knights in shining armour (or just men in running kit) turned up ready to race.
Our ladies fielded a single team, as poor Hannah was suffering from our 16 miles the day before (sorry Hannah!), however this did mean that Catherine and I made the A-team – I’ve been waiting years for this haha! Susan had another fab run, and I loved running with Catherine to start off – trying to convince her about the merits of becoming a league captain ;) well done ladies!
|Alana Jayne Williams||92|
We finished 12th on the day, and are still sitting in 10th overall – well done :) ladies please come and support the last race as sadly neither Hannah or I will be there as we’ll be running up pregnant sheep hill at Larmer – your club needs you! Of our ladies that have run 4 races already, our current individual rankings are:
|57||Alana Jayne Williams|
We’ve all dropped slightly so there must have been some quick ladies that missed out last week, but massive well done for completing the league - Susan remains our only lady who has run them all! A marginally larger men’s contingent also finished 12th on the day, and are sitting at 12th overall led home by Cap'n Ruddy, Jonathan, Neil and Keith:
At the moment, our gents that have run their four are:
Big thanks to Hannah for sorting our results and Chris for being our photographer!
Our final race is 10 March in Wilverly, good luck everyone.
- Cap’n Lana
Well done to everyone who got a new PB this month!
|Helen Bonaer II||1:31:42|
Congratulations to February's Spitfire of the Month, Vicky Sharp!
When did you take up running & why?
I started running when I first moved to Millbrook when I was about 8 years old. I started junior school mid term, and my brothers were at primary and I wanted to fit in so I joined every sport available. My teacher at the time encouraged me to try cross country running and I was hooked.
How did you first hear about the Itchen Spitfires, and what made you want to join?
I used to belong to Totton running club and when I stopped running about 6 years ago I bumped into Sarah Min who I went to school with and she said come and give the Itchen Spitfires a try.
What’s the best thing you’ve gained from running?
Running is for me about having some escape time from everything going on around me It gives me head space to sort and arrange things rationally.
The best thing about running is running with friends enjoying the freedom and just letting your feet and mind take you where they want to go.
We now know you don't wear a watch, why is that?
I don’t use a watch because I suppose I’m old school I do try & run to the best of my ability on the day if I’m tired I slow down I personally think being obsessed with times for me would take the fun out of running.
What are your running goals?
My running goals are keep running while I can and finish a half marathon I would like to enter some trail running events too in the future :-)
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.