By Franki Horn
Mothers Day 2019 saw a small squadron of Spitfires assemble at Queen Elizabeth Country Park in search of Marathon and Half Marathon bling.
For those of you that have never heard of it before Queen Elizabeth Country Park is a large country park located on the A3 three miles south of Petersfield, Hampshire. It lies within the South Downs National Park and has 1400 acres of open access woodland and downland. It has been classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which means it has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. The morning of Sunday 31st March was very bright but also very chilly. The event started when approximately two hundred marathon runners set off at 9.30am along with our very own marathon legend runner Diane. The race started uphill and once we had watched the marathon runners disappear from view we were able to collect our race numbers and get ourselves ready for the half marathon start at 10.30am. It meant that we had to wait a while and many of the runners took shelter in the temporary cafť just to stop themselves from shivering.
10.30am came and another two hundred runners set off for the half marathon distance. After setting off it soon became apparent that this was going to be a challenging course. The first two miles were uphill and seemed to be never ending. Luckily Diane had run the course a few times before and advised not to even bother attempting to run the hills as we would make ourselves look like idiots. Her advice was to save our legs and energy by speed walking them which is exactly what we did. Earlier in the week we had been advised by the race organisers to wear trail shoes but as the weather had been warm and dry all week I decided to risk it and wear my road shoes. I am so pleased that I did! The ground was rough, hard, uneven and unforgiving. There was no sign of mud anywhere.
Once we had reached the top of the first hill we began to understand why this was an area of natural outstanding beauty. The views were simply stunning and you could see for miles. The mounds of opportunity that we climbed were nothing short of brutal, and I must admit at one point I did question myself as to why I had entered this race at all! But thankfully for every uphill there was a downhill and the scenery just seemed to make it a little more bearable. One of the highlights of the race, (apart from the wonderful finish line), was witnessing a herd of deer take flight once they had realised that hundreds of crazy humans were invading their normally peaceful habitat. Paula and I had already agreed at the start that we would just enjoy the run and stop to take photos so this was a great opportunity to stop and I just managed to get a short video of them disappearing into the woodland. It was just before this point that we gained the company of another runner called Nicky who regularly runs in the park and the South Downs and she unwittingly became our guide for the remaining miles.
A few miles from the finish we were lapped by the lead marathon runners. The first man home broke the course record in 2 hours 59 seconds and the second male came in some 15 minutes behind him. Our very own Diane finished the race with a course PB by 8 minutes and a big smile on her face when she realised that we had all stayed to cheer her in.
One of our recently graduated Couch to 5k runners, Kate Marsh, took on the half marathon distance and romped home in less than 3 hours which was an amazing achievement considering she had very little training and had very few miles under her belt. So very well done Kate!
Thankfully our small but perfectly formed team completed the course without injury apart from a few sore muscles.
On reflection the race was well organised, the route was sign posted well and the marshalls were fantastic, as were the well- stocked water stations. We did consider stopping at one of them for a picnic but resisted the treats on offer and carried on in true Spifire style. At the finish line we were handed our impressive medals together with t-shirt and a bottle of much needed water.
If you are not ready for the brutal hills or the longer distances you will be pleased to know that Queen Elizabeth Country Park has its very own Parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning. Itís a two lap course which can only be described as undulating. It may be one to add your bucket list of Parkrun tourism but is definitely not a PB course.
The RR10 series of cross country races starts in April. This year, the Spitfires will be hosting the first race, at Royal Victoria Country Park, and drop out of the races at the Cadland Estate in Blackfield, and the University fields at Eastleigh.
|17th April||7.00 pm||1||Royal Victoria Country Park||HOST|
|24th April||-no race-|
|1st May||7.00 pm||2||Stoney Cross||Race|
|8th May||-no race-|
|15th May||7.30 pm||3||Wilverley Inclosure||Race|
|22nd May||-no race-|
|29th May||7.30 pm||4||Cadland Estate, Blackfield||SKIP|
|5th June||7.30 pm||5||Fleming Park||Race|
|12th June||7.30 pm||6||Hursley Park & Ampfield||Race|
|19th June||7.30 pm||7||Manor Farm Country Park||Race|
|26th June||-no race-|
|3rd July||7.30 pm||8||University Fields, Eastleigh||SKIP|
|10th July||7.30 pm||9||Whiteley, Fareham||Race|
|17th July||7.30 pm||10||Janesmoor Pond||Race|
|24th July||-no race-||Race|
|31st July||7.00 pm||11||Itchen Valley Country Park||Race|
|7th Aug||-no race-|
|14th Aug||7.00 pm||12||IBM Hursley Park||Race|
By Adam Ruddy
The last race of the season was truly something special! Days of rain before the event ensured what was already classed as a boggy, technical course became very interesting in places! I think I saw at least one shoe devoid of its owner out there in the mud!
The extreme winds on race day made driving deep into the forest a bit unnerving but fortunately didnít have too much bearing on the race itself. Minutes before the race was due to start a large fir tree actually came down across the finishing straight but marshals acted quickly to ensure the race could proceed.
After the first blustery km out on the wide grass plain we were into tree cover and on to the mix of narrow muddy trail, bog, standing water and gravel paths that weíve come to expect from cc6 races. For those that know the parkrun out in the Wilverley Enclosure, the hills are brutal!! I think the race highlight for me was hurtling full speed down a technical path on a very steep downhill section, only to realise ahead there was a large log across the path requiring a significant jump at full speed....needless to say I landed it, just!
Positions chopped and changed quickly with everybody aware that this was the last opportunity to improve their league score. We didnít have a massive turnout in Spitfire colours but we did manage to form both a scoring menís and womanís team. A warm welcome to Scott Appleby making his league debut at Wilverley!
Thank you to Chris Stocks for taking our race photo and taking charge of the scoring on the day - massive help mate and at great risk to yourself from falling branches!!
Well done to all, fantastic performances on a challenging course!
The Itchen Spitfires Running Club 2019 Annual General Meeting was held on the 19th of March.
The full minutes of the AGM are available here.
The club's committee members are now as follows:
Chairman & Coach
Welfare Officer & Coaching Assistant
Well done to everyone who got a new PB this month!
|Andy Walker||2:21:29||(London Landmarks)|
|Longest distance||Andy Ward||33.37 miles|
|Most elevation gain||Andy Ward||6,683 feet|
Congratulations to March's Spitfire of the Month, Julie Mills! Julie was this month's SotM, nominated by Franki "for her sheer determination and for the support that she gives everyone at club despite her own health problems. Sheís always there in the background and is always willing to help."
When did you take up running & why?
I started in Spring 2013. I was training for my 1st moonwalk - a marathon walked through the night in London. Whilst buying a pair of trainers in sweatshop I was persuaded to try C25k. Gil ran the program & gave me the confidence to continue.
How did you first hear about the Itchen Spitfires, and what made you want to join?
Kev was already a member and I did C25k with them in September 2015 after pneumonia stopped me in my tracks. Found them so supportive, I stayed. :-)
Whatís the best thing youíve gained from running?
Friends. Met some wonderful people & had crazy weekends, camping, running & drinking.
Whatís you most memorable running moment?
Running my 1st half marathon - completed on about 3 hours sleep, probably still drunk on too many cocktails. Not a pretty sight and a very big lesson learnt.
You've had a lot of problems with injuries, how do you cope?
I stopped beating myself up about pace a long time ago. Now I run if I want to and able to. My aim is to run happy & comfortably & still be able to move & breathe the next day.
What is the strangest thing you have come across whilst running?
Passing a field of people walking llamas having paid for the privilege!
Do you have any running ambitions or goals?
To complete Giants Head Marathon, Ox epic and Jurassic Marathon this year and still be able to walk at the end of them. :-O
Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this monthís newsletter.