June 2017 Newsletter


Summer running

Summer has arrived and with it the hot, humid weather. While this may be very nice for lazing on the beach, it’s not so much fun to run in. High temperatures raise your core temperature making it feel so much harder, plus humidity stops sweat evaporating and cooling you down.


It might be tempting to give training a miss on especially hot days but there are things you can do to make it easier. One is to run in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler. If that’s not possible try to run near water where conditions are usually breezier, or on a shady trail rather than hot pavements. Wearing the right gear can make a huge difference too. Loose fitting clothes allow air to circulate and light colours reflect the sun rather than absorbing it and making you hotter. Hats can trap the heat so opt for a visor or mesh cap if you want to keep the sun out of your eyes. If you have more exposed skin than usual don’t forget to slap on the sunscreen too, even if the day is overcast.

Making sure you are properly hydrated both before and after a run goes without saying but precooling can also be a big help. Lowering your body temperature in the hour before you run slows the rate your core temperature rises. There are ice vests available to help with this or you can sit in an air conditioned room sipping cool drinks. In the end you may have to accept that summer running is always going to be a bit slower but, when you’re done, you can laze on the beach or the sun lounger with a clear conscience.

So what exactly is the Penny Game?

Every Bank Holiday the Spitfires go to Peartree Green to play the Penny Game. I’d heard about it but  didn’t know exactly  what it entailed. On May Bank holiday I thought it would be a good idea to go along and find out.  It wasn’t long before Spitfires began to turn up and Chris and Amelia Walker quickly organised them into teams. The Run leaders all disappeared to various points on the Green apart from Tori, Dave and Matilda who stayed at the start finish line holding cups, one for each team.

The object of the game is for everyone to run laps of the Green, collecting pennies every time they pass a Run Leader. There are also bonus fIve and ten pence pieces to be earned, randomly handed out by some of the Run Leaders. When the pennies run out everyone makes their way back to the start finish for the big count up. The team who have collected the most money wins. The prize is a bag of haribo.

It may be simple but it is far from easy. The trails, if you can call them that, are overgrown with quite a few pot holes and obstacles. Sometimes it’s muddy. There is long grass, brambles, hills and dips. I started off wondering what exactly the Penny Game was, now I’ve seen it the answer is simple. Fun!

Blackfield RR10

The fourth RR10 took place at Blackfield on  the last day of May, so didn’t make it into the May Newsletter. It is probably the furthest of the RR10’s from the Feather but it didn’t seem to put people off. Neither did the sultry weather. Twenty men made up five male Spitfire teams and twenty six ladies made up eight female teams. Twelve first timers also came along to see what all the fuss was about. They were rewarded with a flat, mostly dry course although the setting sun did make things a little difficult towards the end.

The course may have been relatively flat in RR10 terms but the dry ground was hard and, the last few yards included a hill and a narrow gap to squeeze through. The usual cheering squad were there at the finish to spur everyone on for the final sprint to the line. As our amazing number taker Kylie was sunning herself on a cruise, Amanda Harris and Dave Keates kindly stepped in and did a fabulous job of collecting all the finish tickets and numbers.  For those who like a few stats the full results and race reports can be found here.

Women’s Running on the Common 

There were Spitfires galore on the Common on Sunday 4 June. Some were in race kit, some were pacing, others wore Hi Vis marshal jackets. They hadn’t all arrived a day late for park run though, they were there for the fifth annual the Women’s Running 5 and 10k races. This year there was also the added bonus of a 1 mile race too.

In spite of hot sun and high humidity everything ran smoothly, as you’d expect with Spitfire marshalls and Pacers. Mini Spitfire special guest  Roo even helped to present the medals and then went around the  Mile race course with Lindy. That’s a long way for little legs to run so well done to him.

D Day for the Club championship

While everyone was having fun in the sun on the Common, the 28th annual D Day 10k was underway down the road at the Lakeside North Harbour Complex in Cosham. The complex of offices is surrounded by 120 acres of landscaped grounds with a feature lake. The D Day 10k is run there every year on the closest Sunday to 6 June to Commemorate the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. Lakeside is also the home of the Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun which celebrated its first birthday on 21 May.

This was the first race of the Club Championships and, unsurprisingly, the Spitfires were the most represented club.  The course,  on rural roads, was mostly flat and fast, so was perfect for good Championship times. In fact the men’s team of Paddy Connors, Jamie Foster and Ian Howard  and the women’s team  of Lulu Ashton, Tash Avery and Hannah Lawless both came in third. There were also ten, count them, Spitfire top ten age category finishers, Tash Avery, Amanda Chalk, David Chalk, Sue Haig, Ian Howard, Darren Palmer,  Gerry Robson,  Mitchell Robson, Teresa Robson  and Rachel Jordan Sutch. They have certainly set the bar high for the rest of the Championship 10k races!

Trail runners beware!

There is nothing more satisfying than running, or walking off road. Deep in the woods or the forest you and your body feel at one with nature. There is a hidden danger lurking in the long grass and undergrowth though, capable of making your life a misery for years. From early spring into late autumn minuscule ticks lie in wait to suck your blood. Chances are you won’t feel them, they inject an anaesthetic when they bite. They like warm areas like underarms, groins and scalps so they’re easy to miss once they latch on. Showering won’t get rid of them.

Once they’ve fed they drop off, leaving no sign you’ve ever been bitten but, in areas like Hampshire, where Lyme disease is prevalent, a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, carried by some ticks,  can already be coursing through your veins. Within a few weeks you might begin to feel tired, feverish, have headaches and joint pain. Some people get a circular red rash, but not everyone does. Runners often put the first symptoms down to an injury. Left untreated Lyme disease attacks the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, leading to symptoms such as swollen joints, muscle pain, memory loss, fatigue and a host of other debilitating things.

There is an awful lot you can do to prevent getting bitten by a tick. They are mostly found in wooded and grassy areas so, when you can, avoid long grass. If you are trail or cross country running, spray yourself with a bug spray containing DEET.  Wear long socks or leggings, preferably in a light colour so ticks will be easier to spot. Run in the middle of the trail when you can. Don’t lie in grassy or wooded areas for post run stretching. When you have finished running check yourself for ticks, especially those out of the way areas.

If you do find a tick, use tweezers to grasp it as close to your skin as possible. Pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Don’t crush the tick with your fingers, flush it down the loo. Clean the area and your hands thoroughly. If you begin to feel unwell over the next few weeks make an appointment to see your doctor. A three week course of antibiotics will usually kill the bacteria. It all sounds rather scary I know, but it shouldn’t put you off  cross country running or going off road. Taking sensible precautions minimises the risk of being bitten and, even if the worst happens, not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Most people who get Lyme Disease make a full recovery with antibiotic treatment. Awareness is half the battle.

Winchester to Woolston on the Navigation

The weather was a little hotter than expected for the Spitfire’s first ever Winchester to Woolston run on 11 May but it didn’t seem to put anyone off. John’s cunning  plan was for two groups, one walking, one running, to travel the whole of the Itchen Navigation towpath from King Alfred’s Statue in Winchester all the way to Woolston. He worked hard on the logistics of train times and exact routes. There was even a practice run. Obviously, there would be a pub and some well earned beer at the end.

The Itchen Navigation canal opened in 1710 to carry coal and wool from Northam Wharf to Blackbridge Wharf  in  Winchester. For 150 years shallow barges around 13 feet wide by 70 feet long travelled up and down the waterway drawn by horses and led by bargemen. When the Southampton to London railway line opened, in 1840, the traffic on the canal slowly declined and it closed for good in 1869. After World War II the remains of the towpath were incorporated into the Itchen Way footpath and, in the 1970’s, The Itchen Navigation Preservation Society was formed. Today it is a very popular route for walkers and runners.

The path is often muddy and occasionally flooded but the warm dry weather meant mud was minimal for this adventure. Even so the trail was overgrown in places and the terrain was rough, especially towards the Southampton end. The walking group set out two hours before the runners and managed to get as far as Bishopstoke Lock before the first of the runners came past. After that there were regular stops to cheer small groups of runners as they passed on the narrow trail. The day ended with well earned cool drinks at the Cricketer’s Arms in Woolston and some wonderful finish photos taken by Jane Grant.


The Arlesford 10k, watercress and some gentle hills

The second of the Club Championship races was the Arlesford 10k on 18 June. Organised by the Rotary Club, it was billed as an undulating course taking in the town of Arlesford and the famous watercress beds. Undulating may have been a bit of an understatement however. The word on the street is that this is actually an extremely tough hilly course. For the team of Spitfires who took part their Kenyan Hills training certainly came into its own although there were a few cries of “never again,” at the end.

There may have been more hills than expected but the beauty of the watercress farms  made this a scenic race. Local people have picked and eaten the watercress that grows wild in the chalk streams and ditches around Arlesford for as long as anyone can remember. It wasn’t until 1865, when the railway  came to Arlesford, that the delicate crop could be transported further afield and sold. By 1925 purpose built cress beds were being used to grow the crop commercially year round. Today Hampshire is the main producer of watercress in the country so, chances are, the watercress you buy in the supermarket was grown in Arlesford. If you love watercress this is the race for you, everyone who took part  got a medal, technical T-shirt, refillable water bottle, a banana and a bag of watercress.

The heat is on for the RR10 at Manor Farm

The heat was on for the Manor Farm RR10. It came at the end of the hottest day of the year, with traffic warnings due to an event at the Aegis Bowl and a horribly steep hill at the end. None of this deterred the determined Spitfires though. A total of 27 men and 28 ladies braved the traffic to take part giving us five men’s teams and nine women’s teams. A full race report and stats can be found here.

As if the heat and the Hills weren’t enough to contend with, the humidity brought the bugs out in force. Thankfully there was plenty of bug spray to go round. Last year the course was fairly narrow in places but there has been some cutting back of greenery since then which helped keep the field spread out. Everyone gave their all for this race and, even after the gruelling final hill, there were some fabulous sprint finishes and some really determined faces on the finish straight. A special thanks goes to Frankie Horn and Tina Street who stepped in to take the numbers and collect the tokens while Kylie was working away.

Spitfires flying round Southampton Airport 

There was a very early start for Spitfires taking part in the Southampton Airport Runway Run on 25 June. As the race had to be done and dusted well before the first flight of the day, the race started at 6am. Still, it isn’t every day you get to run along the taxiway of an international airport so it was well worth getting up for. Also, 100% of the entry fees went to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, a very worthy cause.

The test flight of the first Spitfire prototype, the K5954, took place at Southampton Airport, then called Eastleigh Aerodrome, on 5 March 1936. Captain Joseph “Mutt” Summers was the pilot for the eight minute flight and, on landing, was quoted as saying “Don’t touch anything.” Obviously, despite the early hour, this and a decided lack of Hills, made it an appealing race for Spitfires. They also did rather well with first place going to Ian Howard, second to Jamie Foster and fourth to Rob Kelly.

Due to airport security no spectators were allowed airside, and everyone had to leave the site by 7:00 so a full runway inspection could be completed before the first flight of the day at 7:30. Luckily a few of the runners remembered their cameras so the event did not go unrecorded.

Lordshill 10k 

The last big race of the month was the Lordshill 10k on 25 June. It wasn’t a Club Championship race but, for those looking forward to Wyvern in a couple of weeks, it made a good practice run. With a flatish course and a cool, overcast morning it was also a safe bet for anyone looking for a 10k PB.

The race start and finish was at the offices of the national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, in Adanac Park. The course took in all the terrain you might find on an OS map, roads, gravel, cycle paths and country lanes. Rather temptingly it passed a couple of pubs but I’m pretty sure no one went in for some extra hydration. This was not the race for lovers of bling. There were no medals for finishers, just a nifty little engraved glass tumbler.

Upcoming events 

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

Events marked * are Club Championship races. This is not a complete list of all races.

Interview with a Spitfire 

The June Spitfire of the month is Run Leader Dave Keates. Despite recent injuries and ill health he has volunteered at parkrun most weeks and turned up at club nights and events to help out and encourage  others. He also works hard behind the scenes every month gathering all the PB’s for the Newsletter and proof reading. Obviously, this means if there are any typos I can blame him! As interviews go, this was one of the most difficult I’ve done because I’m married to him so I knew all the answers before I asked the questions. Anyway, over to Dave…


When did you take up running and why?

I started running around five years ago. At the time I was teaching martial arts and got fed up with the inevitable injuries. My wife was walking marathons and that inspired me to try running to keep fit.

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

I knew John from various events like parkrun. When I was training for the London Marathon I bumped into him, Rachel and Sam on the Common. John mentioned he’d just started a new running club and invited me along. I fell in love with the club and the rest is history, plus I didn’t have very many friends!

How have you coped with being injured and not able to run and do you have any tips for other injured runners?

I’m terrible at being injured. Injuries and not running suck but I try to say ‘it is what it is,’ and learn from it. Injuries can be preventable, so stretch, strengthen and train well. I’m lucky to have an overprotective wife, who wraps me in cotton wool in order to assist a swift recovery.

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

I once found myself running alongside a pair of giant testicles at the London Marathon. I overtook him to avoid any potential humiliation on national TV, only to find myself next to a runner with a karaoke machine singing Is This The Way To Amarillo? Sheer torture.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

My ambition is to run a parkrun with my wife, who as yet stubbornly refuses to run. As with all things in our life, I will slowly grind her into submission, but please don’t tell her as she has Spitfire connections and you may know her.

Do you have any running heroes, if so who and why?

My hero in running is anyone who tries their hardest and enjoys their running. Also it’s Kilian Jornet, a Catalan ultra/mountain runner. Google his exploits. Also Steve Ovett.

What was your most memorable running moment?

 When I joined the Spitfires my ambition was to run a sub four hour marathon. In Toronto 2015, I looked at my Garmin at twenty three to twenty four miles and knew I was going to smash it. After resisting the temptation to cry, I began grinning like an idiot all the way to a sub three hour fifty finish.

May PB’s 


With the hot weather and high humidity this month I’m amazed there were any June PB’s at all. Well done to everyone who beat the heat along with their personal record. Thanks also to Dave Keates who scoured the local parkrun stats and complied the list.




Lorna Banda 28.03
Glen Medcalf 23.4
David Chalk 23.13
Taylor Cooper 30.13
Clare Potenziani 31.26
Cameron Sommerville-Hewitt 20.03
Tyrone Bowers 27
Adam Ruddy 20.37


Ian Howard 17.17
Jamie Foster 18.06
Lou Lou Pead 28.15
Elizabeth Smith 28.41


Gerry Robson 39.01
Ian Howard 35.47
Alana Jayne Williams 59.36
Jamie Foster 38.46
Mitchell Robson 58.04
Glen Medcalf 49.27
Lauren Clarke 1:09:47
David Chalk 47.31
Amanda Chalk 1:01:45

Longest Distance

Maria Bowers 50k

Eye eye, who’s this? 

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

How much did you know about hydration? Here are the answers to last month’s quiz.


imageDon’t be a litter lout! 

Please could everyone remember to take all their rubbish home or put it in a bin at the end of events. The events organisers have enough to do packing away all the race equipment and shouldn’t have to clear up other people’s rubbish. If there aren’t any bins please just put your rubbish back in your bag and take it home.

New kit

Two amazing new items have been added to the Spitfires Club Kit, a fetching and useful zip up hoodie and a super cute junior Spitfire top. Speak to Kit Lady Julie for more details or visit the kit section of the website.



And finally… 

 On 10 June Beth Farrow sneakily completed her 100th parkrun. There were no balloons, no fancy dress, no fanfare at all, but I still managed to catch up with her and take her photo. Well done Beth.







#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne