Newsletter January 2020

Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon

By Andy Walker and Hayley Crutchley

It was the night after the Christmas party and all through the house not a creature was stirring. Well except for Hayley who was trying to find her running top, because it was Portsmouth Coastal half day!! So while many a Spitfire was nursing a sore head and trying to unsee 'that video' of Chris, two plucky Spitfires were heading off to take on this delightful race noted for it's unusual terrain. In many respects this was an interesting choice as Hayley hadn't run for two weeks due to a chest infection and had prepared by slamming back a few glasses of prosecco and getting four hours sleep. Andy had a cough that made Typhoid Mary seem like a picture of health, hadn't covered half-marathon distance in 4 months and had swapped from running Ryde 10 because (to quote) "I hate Ryde and it's a bit of a laugh innit".

Nonetheless, undaunted and imbued with the blind (over?) confidence of the serious runner, plus a stiff coffee, we lined up to start. The race started with a nice little climb before setting off down Southsea seafront towards Langstone harbour. This was a perfectly flat couple of straight miles with great scenic views. At this point Andy may have said "this is nice, should be a fast one" - note, readers, he was wrong; very, very wrong.

As the race reached the RNLI station the route looped back into what a Scot would call a stiff breeze, and anyone else would call bloody windy. The course then turned north onto Langstone harbour, specifically the beach, covered in seaweed, mud and sand. If you've ever pulled a spoon out of cake mix it'll give a fair idea of the consistency, best not to lick it though. The route then continued up onto the coastal path which had less seaweed, but a lot more mud. For the next couple of miles it was a bit like watching 300 people trying to ice skate at speed in slippers. For Andy this was particularly challenging given 1) a bit more weight 2) it's a hell of long way down from his head level if you fall over. However, while not the paciest terrain it was funny to watch everyone trying to keep their footing, plus a lot of people learnt some new colourful expressions from Andy.

Finally after 3 miles the route returned to a road and headed back towards the RNLI station. Hayley made friends with some local runners who said this was just like a club training run for them 😳. Now deep into the second half we came back to that beach. Some things improve the second time round; this isn't one of those things. At this point Hayley helpfully pointed out the run back along Southsea seafront would be into the wind. Andy took this well (if "couldn't you just lie" is well). As we turned back along the seafront the wind tunnel effect really added to the atmosphere in much the same way a pigeon dropping adds to a picnic. It would also be fair to say at this point that while we had been running a 2:05-10 ish pace to the half way mark this had progressively dropped. By the mile 11 marker Andy was at about the pace of an elderly hip replacement patient; by the mile 12 marker more like an elderly hip replacement patient who's just had a heavy lunch. But in true Spitfire spirit Hayley stuck with him offering encouragement, although "you can do this, Tiny" did have a few passsers by looking a bit puzzled.

Finally the end appeared and while not perhaps the fastest sprint finish in our club's illustrious history, we did cross the line running. Having collected medals the size of a small plate (seriously they are amazing!!) we headed off. It may sound like this was a tough one and it absolutely was a hard course, windy & nightmare terrain. It was also absolutely brilliant. You'll never PB this one, so you can enjoy the run, laugh at the ludicrous conditions and have some great banter with the other runners. Definitely doing it again!!

My 400th Parkrun

By Mark Tiller

On 7th May 2011 I did my first Park Run at the now defunct course at Lakeside Country Park in Eastleigh. I was accompanied by Russ Meddings. Long before Spitfires!

I was just getting back into running after a lay off so was looking for local runs, so came across Park Run and since then have been doing them regularly.

So when 400th Park Run was due to take place on 11th January 2020, although not an official milestone I thought it worthy of a celebration. I decided to post on our Facebook Group. I was amazed on the response I received and the amount of fellow Spitfires that made the journey to Bushey Park, the venue where Park Run first started on 2nd October 2004.

What a great venue just under 1700 runners on a one lap course (but no hold up at the start or finish). If you're lucky and observant, deer to be seen and parakeets.

I finished it in 398th place, if I had known, I would have given 2 positions up to finish 400th in my 400th Park Run.

After the run Gerry managed to raid the Red Bull van, so he was on form!! I understand Teresa had to hide the cans otherwise the trip home would be unbearable.

At the café at the end, Gerry managed to grab hold of Paul Sinton-Hewett and I met the main man!

Now only another 2 years to the 500th.

Thank you to the Spitfires who were able to attend and share! It was worth the trip!

Dave and Amanda Chalk, Gerry and Teresa Robson, Nick and Sarah Green, Paul and Heather Leeming, Leah Tavner, Glenn Medcalf, Tori Collinson, Claire McCarthy, Frazer and Kathryn Bailey, Darren Palmer, Clare Blay and Rachel Jordan Sutch.

Membership Renewal

The new England Athletics year starts on 1st April 2020, and your membership fees will be due shortly after that.

You will be sent a link to the e-mail address you registered with, in order for you to pay.

Spitfire of the Month

By Leah Tavner

Congratulations to Will Lawless; December's Spitfires of the Month!

Will is not only a brilliant runner himself, who I think under estimates his own ability sometimes, but he is super supportive to all members of the club regardless of their pace.

He has helped many members when they are struggling in races and supported lots of Spitfires towards getting PBs. He has listened tirelessly to me (and I'm sure many others) whinging on about my running injuries, and as he knows a lot about sport and fitness offers excellent advice and shares his knowledge. Always a pleasure running with you Will!

When did you take up running & why?

Properly, about three years ago after my daughter was born. I took shared parental leave and needed to find something active to do that meant I wasn’t out of the house too long after my wife got back from work. I spent most of my 20’s playing cricket on Saturdays that meant I could be gone for 9 hours at a time. Running worked for us!

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

I first heard about Spitfire when I turned up to Southampton parkrun and saw people with different bits of club kit. My cousin Hannah persuaded me to come along after I’d bumped in to her running Eastleigh 10k a few years ago.

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

The opportunity to carry on being active that fits my lifestyle no matter what changes in my life.

What’s your favourite bit of running kit?

My Aftershokz bone conducting headphones. They’re expensive but have proven great value for money.

What do you do when you're not running?

Sleep or get told what to do by a wonderful three year old.

How have you coped with injuries?

Badly, I’m rubbish if I can’t do something!

What is the strangest thing you have come across whilst running?

Paddy Connors, how does that man run so fast?

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

I’m running Brighton Marathon in April, so I’d like to complete that. One day I’d love to get close to 20 mins at parkrun.

What is your most memorable running moment?

My Southampton parkrun pb of 21:25.

Do you have any advice for new runners?

Don’t try to do too much too soon and never compare yourself to other people, everyone is different even if you think you are similar.

Stubbington 10k

By Nicki Barton

Let's rewind to September, when my running had been virtually non-existent since the Southampton 10k. I needed a goal, something to get me back on track - cue The Stubbington 10K. This was to be my first of 2020, giving me 3 months to refind the mojo and get ready for it!

Fast forward to 12th January, a very cold crispy morning and upon jumping out the car and finding out there was no medal... I was tempted to get back in!

Quick bag drop, and off to the start line - always nice to find a slope down at the first mile, however what goes down must come up and the not so gentle incline back up the other side felt like the longest EVER! Weaving in and out of the country lanes in the back of beyond was lovely - I like a route when I don't know where I'm going and this did not disappoint. The weather was bright, and as I couldn't look up and ahead at the inclines that needed conquering without blinding myself, I took full advantage of the beautiful scenic route that we were on.

Upon coming out of the lanes, we reached the little troll bridge and I was starting to feel the push, however as you turned the corner... what a view... The sun was shining, the sea was chopping, it almost felt like I was running along the shore line of Summer Bay in Home and Away! To top it off, there were these lovely little cheerleaders pumping out the tunes along the seafront... (I think that we need some Spitfire Pom Poms to go with the uniforms) Exactly the encouragement needed to find the power in the legs to keep moving.

I found the last mile or so a bit of a slog - running tightly along pavements, up and down the kurbs and dodging the prominent garden bush here and there but the end was nearing! There was some lovely support along the homeward stretch and before I knew it the finish line was crossed.

Having been struggling to get myself out running let alone back to club, this race was exactly what I needed to remind me of why I run. From bumping into fellow Spitfires pre-race, the marshals cheering support along the way, Spitfires appearing out of nowhere with their cheerleading, random strangers pushing you along with their words of support as they have followed you the whole race, the faces and hugs from Spitfires and friends at the end of the line... They all add up to be what is the support of the running community, giving an individual a sense of achievement, no matter their ability or pace. For me I love that feeling of crossing the line and to feel it again made not getting that bling not seem so bad! #runningfamily #togetherasone

CC6 Kings Garn Gutter

By Tony Adams

I decided to attend a CC6 to get some more miles under my belt and run with my fellow Spitfires. Jamie Foster kindly answered all my questions and made me feel welcome to join in. After deciding I was in, I noted a few posts from Spitfires, and I quote "this is the best one". I've realised now that this means the most challenging, muddy, hilly and wet!

So on a frosty winters morning I donned my trail shoes to attend my inaugural CC6 race at Kings Garn Gutter. Usually attending Parkrun I planned to arrive with 5 minutes to spare but fortunately reconsidered before setting off. Parking was about 10 minutes away from the Spitfire tent and unfortunately I missed the team photo. Nevertheless I was greeted warmly by my fellow Spitfires and off we went to the start line.

Concerned about getting my shoes muddy on the way I quickly realised this would be slightly different to my usual Saturday morning 5k. Simon Beer gave me some words of wisdom before shooting off that "if you do 8 minute miles you'll be doing well". Usually running faster than this I mistakenly thought "that should be ok" but working up the first hill I realised I needed to take his advise and paced myself. Copious amounts of hills, mud and water features led to a fun but tough run, it reminded my a lot of a tough mudder! As I started to climb the final hill it was pleasing... to see Jamie Foster with his camera waiting to get the money shot, thanks Jamie!

Approaching the finish line it was warming to see my fellow Spitfires cheering and clapping each of us over the line to join to crew. Overall a very enjoyable experience made even better through the support and camaraderie of the Spitfires.

If you haven't done one I'd recommend giving it a go!

The End of Year Party

By Sue Haig

Well what a night! Feb 1st brought the Spitfire Celebration to Highpoint for the second time and we think we can safely say we had a good time!

To start the evening we had the video Chris Puzey would pay dearly to get lost and I think it’s fair to say this set the tone of the evening! Tim Coles has done a sterling job of loading all the photos sent in, plus newsletter pix (so keep them coming, please) and these rolled on through the evening.

The thank yous to all the volunteers where handed out - really good technical t shirts (thanks Gil). All those who completed the Club Championships received a very smart (& heavy) medal, which also marked our 5th birthday. Finally all the winners from each of the age groups, most improved from park run and most improved overall were announced. Well done everyone, keep up the good work!

Firstly, a huge congrats to all of our Championship winners:

Most improved 5k: Heather Leeming

League Table winner: Andy Ward

Age Category winners:

List of all raffle winners below: well done everyone!
Aria w’end breakJamie Foster
Snap fitness 3/12 membership.Mercedes
Medal hanger £20.Graham Andrews
Rural Running Annual PassRob Jesson
Alexandra Sports £25.Ruth Sadler
Woolston Tandoori.Adam Ruddy
Olaf’s Tun.Rob Jesson
Affiliated ISRC membership.Jackie DeLisle
Hackett Massage.Tori Collison
Challenge events race entry.Sarah Green
Haig Club whiskey.Andy Ward
Active Nation swimChris Puzey
Dreki Life voucher.Jamie Foster
Dreki life voucherLucy Ashton ?
Harefield Fish Bar.Leah Tavenar
Spitfire buff, race top.Simon De Lisle
Owtons butchers £20.Gerry Robson
Gin, Prosecco and chocolate.The Chalks
Relish runningFranki
Songbird cafe.Julie Deards
Alton Sports ABP place.Andy Ward
Unaffiliated Spitfire Tri membershipHayley
Masala 2 x £5.Adam Ruddy
Rees Leisure Race entry.Emma Wilson
Vivid Beauty massage.Kerry Murray
Physio room treatment.Louise Gregory
Spitfire Pizza & Ice cream.Andy Hartman

Most of the tombola went within minutes, with a few bits left behind (ready for the next event). The raffle once again was so well supported by you lovely lot! Lucky Jamie Foster, won the top prize of the w’end break, have received their goodies and are happy with them! OK maybe Adam Ruddy isn’t so pleased with two curry prizes, when he doesn’t like curry! Thank you Sharon for helping sell the tickets and to all those who helped fold hundreds of tickets.

The business of prize giving all done, we were able to let out hair down! Once again, Dirty Dancing and Grease caused a great deal of hilarity with Chris Puzey and Gil doing their best. Baby Chris wasn't put in the corner and Sandy Gil shaking his stuff. There are evidential videos on FB which are very amusing!

We would like to thank each and everyone of you for making it such a great evening. Please let us know if you have any feedback - positive or negative as this will help plan for next year, including: venue, food, DJ, does February work....etc! Thanks. We will not take responsibility for hangovers though!

See you next year!

Personal Bests

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

Junior ParkRun

Lucie Lovell12:12

5km / ParkRun

Jack Lovell26:00
Lucie Lovell35:04
Sam Wooster24:50
Rich Wooster21:59
Katherine Bailey24:07


Graham Andrews38:43

Upcoming Events

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

Editor's note: The Spitfires' website club calendar now includes events for both the running club and the tri club:

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