March Newsletter 2018

Mad as a March Hare! 
March arrived with snow, ice and the first ever cancelled club night. It may have officially been spring but it certainly didn’t feel like it. Although the snow was falling and the world was slippery and white, some dedicated Spitfires still managed to get out and run with the aid of yaktrax.

The snow kept falling and even the local parkruns had to be called off. Faced with nothing to do on a Saturday morning, most people had a lie in. A couple of foolhardy RD Spitfires decided to stage their own version of parkrun on Southampton Common  with a record low attendance of two runners. Obviously, you can’t keep a good Spitfire down!

Then, when the thaw had set in and we thought it was all over, the snow came back just in time to cancel another weekend of running events, including the Eastleigh 10k. My yaktrax were looking like a pretty good buy but it was beginning to look like I was going to struggle to fill the newsletter…

Graduation Day

The first official parkrun of March was host to a graduation party. The Spitfire beginners group had finished their nine week C25K course and tested out their new found running skills with a quick blast around Southampton Common. Despite a rather wet morning, a  huge squadron of Spitfires turned out to cheer them around the course.

Well done to all each and every one of them for sticking to it and even managing smiles on the finish line. Thank you too to Francesca Horn, Lindsay Bowers, Kevin Mills, Teresa Robson, Mitchell Robson, Sarah Min, Leah Tavner, Amanda Harris, Julie Mills, Matthew Mills, Keith Harris, Russ Meddings and Julie Deards for all the work they put in to get our lovey graduates prepared for their big day.

After all the running and cheering was done there was the inevitable cake before everyone retired to the Bellemoor for bacon rolls, coffee and a chance to dry out.

Wilverley, the last CC6

There was no Mother’s Day breakfast in bed for some as, this year, it coincided with the final CC6 of the season at Wilverley Inclosure. The wind whistling across the plain was bitterly cold, although the rain and snow held off, which, like the proper toilets, was a bonus. During World War II the plain hosted tank exercises and, in 1941, it was ploughed up to grow cereal and potatoes for the war effort. These days it’s home to the Brokenhurst parkrun and quite a lot of ponies. Last year Kylie and I were caught in a pony stampede as we tried to find a good finish line vantage point. This year, due to nesting birds, the CC6 course was moved off the open plain and into the inclosure and woods.

Sixteen Spitfires turned up to conquer the mud and hills. Apparently there were even two fallen trees on the course, one of which Charlotte decided made a good hurdle. There were the usual hard fought battles for finish positions. When the last person crossed the line the support crew, Amanda and Alana who collected tokens and Leah and Darren, the captains for this series, plus a stray, damp and slightly grumpy, photographer all gathered on the plain for one last slice of lovely cake.

There was just one more thing to do before everyone could go home and get warm. The flag and pop up tent had to be packed away. With master tent folder Paul off at Larmer, the latter proved a little problematic. The men gallantly decided to leave it to the ladies who, after an epic struggle, sub contracted it out to a kind Stubbington Green runner. If you’d like the full seasons results and race reports, they can be found here.

Farewell to a running legend

There was a time when some people thought running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. On 6 May 1954, at Iffley Road track in Oxford, a young junior doctor proved the doubters wrong. Roger Bannister had started his day sharpening his running spikes at a hospital in London. He took a mid morning train to Oxford, perturbed by the wet weather and winds of up to twenty five miles an hour.  The conditions were so bad he was unsure whether to run or not but, just before the race began, the winds dropped so he took his place on the start line of a meet between British AAA and Oxford University. Beside him were pacers Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher.

When the race ended stadium announcer Norris McWhirter made a rather longwinded announcement, aimed at keeping the crowd in suspense as long as possible.
“Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event nine, the one mile: first, number forty one, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which—subject to ratification—will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was three…”
The rest of the announcement was drowned out by the cheering crowd but the record had been broken in a time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

Roger Bannister represented England in European Championships, British Empire and Commonwealth Games. He won two gold medals, in the 1954 Vancouver 1 mile race and the 1954 Bern 1500 metres plus a bronze medal in the 1959 Brussels 800 metres. Breaking the mile record left him “suddenly and gloriously free of the burden of athletic ambition that I had been carrying for years,” and he retired from athletics in late 1954 to concentrate on his work as a junior doctor. He later became the first Chairman of the Sports Council and was instrumental in increasing government funding of sports centres and facilities. He also initiated the first testing for the use of steroids in sport. In 1975 he was knighted for his services to sport. Despite all his sporting achievements, he was most proud of his achievements as a neurologist and the new procedures he introduced during his forty year medical career.

Sadly, in 2011, Roger Bannister was disagnosed with Parkinsons Disease. On 3 March 2018,  the man who had achieved immortality by breaking an impossible record died aged 88.

Larmer madness

On the weekend the C25Kers graduated and ran their first parkrun a whole squadron of Spitfires headed for Larmer Tree Gardens in South Wiltshire for possibly one of the maddest events of the year. The beautiful pleasure grounds were opened for “public enlightenment and entertainment“ in 1880, the first private gardens to ever be opened to the public in the UK. I’m pretty sure Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, who has a ridiculously long name, didn’t envisage masses of runners stampeding all over the place in not one, but four races when he created the gardens.

Although this is touted as one of Britain’s most Beautiful landscapes, I’m not sure everyone appreciated the views, especially once they’d seen the giant hill they had to run up. It all began on Saturday with a ten mile race including lots of familiar Spitfire faces. Then there was a half marathon and, just when everyone thought it was all over for the day, there was the first ever Dark Larmer, an 8 mile run around the Rushmore Estates in the dark. Head torches were obligatory for this race which included horrible hills, muddy slipperiness and a rough woodland trail. Apparently race organisers White Star had a free corpse retrieval service laid on too.

For those who survived all of the above without the need for medical attention or a body bag, there was a nice muddy twenty mile race the very next day. It is possible that some people ran all four races. They probably need to seek emergency psychiatric assistance at the first opportunity, although washing off all the mud first would be a good idea. Apparently, there was food laid on at the end for those who made it to the finish line in one piece.

Southampton parkrun turns 300

It was a week late due to the snow but, this month, Southampton parkrun held its 300th event. Back in July 2012, when 254 runners turned up for run number one, no one could have imagined how popular it would become. Since that first parkrun there have been almost 18,000 runners covering 830,000 km. our very own Rob Kelly holds the record for the most runs at Southampton with 260, closely followed with 237 by the wonderful Gareth, who cycles round putting up and taking down all the signs around the Commin every week.

Despite a bitingly cold wind 814 people turned up to run, jog or walk the course, 39 of them first timers. A whole host of familiar RD faces were there too, some to run, others to help out. Amongst all the usual volunteers, setting up, marshalling, funnel managing, scanning, token sorting and packing away, there were pacers for every minute from 20 to 36, odd numbers in yellow and evens in orange. There was also a volunteer dog, with his very own High Vis jacket, although I’m not sure exactly what his role was.

Upcoming events 

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

Interview with a Spitfire 

This month’s Spitfire of the Month is a newcomer to running. Gemma only took up running in the middle of last year when she completed the C25K with her dad, Mark. She ran her first parkrun in a very respectable 35 minutes and, since then, has chopped an amazing NINE minutes off her time. Last weekend she broke the 26 minute barrier! Such determination and persistence, at just fifteen years of age really shows the Spirtfire spirt. Now it’s time to find out more about her…

When did you take up running and why? 

I started running in June/July 2017. I started because I’ve always loved watching my dad run all his races, running was a way to relax and do something with my dad

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

I first heard about spitfires from my dad when he joined, and I joined when I did my first parkrun because I thought I would improve a great amount, and I have since I’ve joined.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

One of my ambitious would be to one day do the Southampton marathon, with Dad. I’d also love to do the CC6’s but, as I’m not old enough, my big goal is to do the RR10’s.

What do you do when you’re not running?

When I’m not running I play netball for my school, I play WD. I also will do rounders in the summer as it’s something I love to do.

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

From running with club I’ve gain so much more determination and confidence, thanks to everyone I run with.

What advice would you give to new runners?

Don’t give up, keep pushing. Sometimes you come to a wall and feel you have no more left, but keep running and pushing through.

If you could go for a run with anyone (alive, dead, real life or fictional character) who would it be and why?

If I could run with any in the whole world I’d love to run with Johnie Peacock, he’s so inspirational, and has inspired me a great amount.

New kids in town 

Along with all the new C25K graduates we have not one, but six sparkly new Run Leaders this month. Kev Mills, Teresa Robson, Mitch Robson, Sarah Min, Leah Tavner and Massi Squaletti (not shown) may be familiar faces but, after an intensive run leading course, they will now be sporting bright new Run Leader t-shirts and putting their new knowledge into practice on Monday and Thursday nights. If you find yourself running with them be kind while they get used to their new roles. Run Leading is harder than it looks. Lots of planning goes on behind the scenes and, besides giving up their time, the chance to run at their own pace and join in some of the fun things like hill repeats, they have a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders.

March PB’s 


Despite all the snow and cancelled races there were still PB’s this month. Thanks, as always, to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who beat their best despite the odds this month.




Matilda Walker 30.08
Wendy Wheeler 28.23
Danielle Firth 29.57
Nicola Barton 33.17
Phil James 33.44
Jane Grant 33.55
James Bourne 34.54
Georgie Horn 35.27
Lauren Folan 36.42
Debbie Southwell 37.42
Bethany Meddings 37.58
Virginia Kearsey 40.59
Heather Leeming 39.52
Perri Seymour 31.58
Charlotte New 27.02
Gemma Waughman 26.48
Taylor Alexis Cooper 27.04
Alice Olivia Bray 41.05

Junior parkrun

Grace Bowers 11.48
Gregory Bowers 15.03
George Bowers 10.59


Steve Froud 19.56

20 miles

Paddy Connors 2:44:38

Where was I? 

This month I’ve been out and about taking photos of the city. All the views below are places you probably run regularly but can you recognise them out of context?

Did you recognise the tattoos last month? If not here are the answers







Hundred Acres

Being a big Winnie the Pooh fan, when I heard a whole load of Spitfires were going to run the Hundred Acres I envisioned a race filled with hunny pots and woozles, with Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet, Owl and Tigger bounding about all over the Hundred Acre Wood. The hundred acre wood in the Pooh stories is actually the Five hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest though and this race was being run in the Forest of Bere, just north of Fareham.

As far as I can tell, there were no hunny pots and no sightings of a bear with very little brain. There were lots of runners though and three races, a 5k, a 10k and a Half Marathon. The course, through woodland, heathland and quiet country roads was billed as undulating with a possibility of mud. Apparently this translated to killer hills and enough mud to make everyone look like they were emulating Winnie the Pooh and had rolled around in the mud to disguise themselves as little black rain clouds. There was also a slight faux pas when Alana was mistaken for an elite runner and sent the wrong way. Despite all this, everyone made it to the finish line and collected a rather nice medal. I still think myversion with the hunny pots would have been fun though.


Club Championships 2018! 

Details of the new club championships have been announced. Everyone should have had an email from Gill with links to enter. The closing date for entries is June 4 so sign up now. Everyone who completes it gets a medal! Full details can be found here.

Brooks Bra Fit Evening 

Don’t forget Alton Sports in Eastleigh will be holding a Brooks bra fit evening on April 3 between 3 and 8pm. There will be two experts in store talking about the importance of a professionally fitted sports bra and a one to one fitting service plus a group run. Not only that, everyone who turns up will get goodie bags plus

A Free Bra if you purchase shoes on the night (Not in conjunction with other offers)

Buy one get one free on shoes on the night (as per our voucher / terms apply, not in conjunction with other offers)

20% Discount on ALL Sports Bras that night (Not in conjunction with other offers)

*** Unrivalled range on shoes, Road, Trail, Gym, Racing, Crossfit ***

And finally… 

The 300th Southampton parkrun was also a special occasion for Paul Leeming, who ran his 50th parkrun and earned himself a sought after t-shirt. Apparently he didn’t realise it was a milestone run until after the event so there were no fancy costumes, sashes or balloons.




Lorna Bennett took it easy for her 100th parkrun as she was due to run a 20 miler the next day and was suffering with a glute issue. She had a very fetching yellow sash for the occasion.






Kevin Mills shared his 150th parkrun with the new C25K graduates. In an effort to stand out from the crowd, he dressed up a little. Check out those leggings!







#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne