Newsletter August 2016


Picking yourself up

imageIf you were looking for running inspiration this month you could have done far worse than watching the Olympics. Great Britain has produced some inspirational runners over the years but not many can match Mo Farah. Most of you know the training that goes into running a 10K or even a 5K race but factor in the eyes of the world on you and a gold medal at stake and  the intensity reaches a whole new level. To  fall on lap ten but jump straight back up and go on to such a convincing victory then win another gold a few days later is a real example of Spitfire spirit.

RR10 Itchen Valley Country Park


The penultimate RR10 was on 3 August, a lovely sunny evening, at Itchen Valley Country Park. Despite being so close to the River Itchen and the water meadows, the course was not as muddy as expected, especially after heavy rain the day before. It was a two lap affair taking in High Hill Field and Vocus Copse and was, I’m told, one of the best so far. Luckily, it didn’t include the water meadows or there might have been some very muddy runners at the end.

Spectators were treated to the spectacle of people wooshing down the zip wire at the end of the Go Ape course between laps. A few looked as if they’d like a go themselves. As usual, there were some fantastic sprint finishes and some wonderful smiling faces at the end.

Mental Health Ambassadors

imageEngland Athletics and Mind recently launched the Mental Health Ambassador programme to establish a network of volunteer ambassadors in running clubs across the country. Their aim is to break down the stigma attached to mental health issues and support people who wish to reap the rewards in physical and mental wellbeing that running can bring.

This month saw the introduction of the The Itchen Spitfire’s Mental Health Ambassadors in the shape of Vicki and Abigal, who will be working together with run leaders to support the psychological wellbeing of club members, share information related to mental health and running and provide guidance on  organisations and services that offer assistance. They will also be creating links with local mental health groups to encourage those who could benefit from running and supporting those who wish to return to running.

Spitfires at the Spitfire Scramble


On 13 and 14 August a team of hardy (or should that be fool hardy?) Spitfires took part in the Spitfire Scramble, a 24-hour, multi terrain relay race at Hornchurch Country Park just outside London. The idea was for teams or solo runners to run as many 5.8 mile laps of the circuit as they could in 24 hours. This, of course, involved running through the night in the dark with head torches.

The course took in the former site of RAF Hornchurch, where countless Spitfire missions were flown during the Battle of Britain. A very fitting place for the Spitfire’s to be running. Apparently there were also some stunning views over London and, from the photos on Facebook, it looks as if a great time was had by all, along with some wonderful feats of endurance.

A few things you might not have known about the Olympic Games

imageThe Olympic Games began as a religious festival in 776BC at the Sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Legend has it that Heracles and his father, the God Zeus, started the custom of holding games every four years. Only representatives of the cities and kingdoms of Ancient Greece took part and the games featured running events, a pentathlon including jumping, discus, javelin, running, wrestling, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing) and equestrian events. The marathon was not included in the ancient Olympics.

The first ever Olympic Games took place on a single day. The first, and only event was a 200 metre sprint from one end of the stadium to the other.

In 393 AD the games were banned because they were a pagan festival, celebrating the Greek God Zeus, and it wasn’t until 1894 that a revival was proposed. The first modern games were hosted in Greece in 1896 with Greece winning the most medals. In fact they win 47!

The five Olympic Rings represent the five major regions of the world, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana. Every natonal flag in the world includes one of the colours of the rings, blue, yellow, black, green and red.

RR10 Hursley Park


Another Spitfire related venue was Hursley Park where the last RR10 took place on 17 August. Once a medieval deer park, the original Tudor house was rebuilt twice, the final incarnation, built in the eighteenth century, overlooked the cricket pitch where runners gathered for the start of the race. After the Supermarine factory in Woolston was bombed in  1940, the house was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production for the Supermarine design and production team. Later models of the Spitfire were developed here, along with the early jet fighters.

The race was a three lap course around the park, including a long steep hill. For a muggy evening this was probably not the best of news. The cheering team did their best to keep spirits high as the runners ran up that hill again and again. There were some exciting sprint finishes and the token collectors did an admirable job, especially as one was on crutches. The sun was beginning to go down as we packed up the tent and flag for the last time. Wednesday evenings will never be the same again.


Upcoming events 

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

This is not a complete list of all races. If anyone knows of any I’ve missed please let me know so I can add them next time.

Interview with a Spitfire 

imageThe winner of the August Spitfire of the Month is a man who needs no introduction. Run leader Paul Leeming and his Landrover are well known for ferrying stranded Spitfires to and from events and parkruns and he’s a regular volunteer at the Southampton Common parkrun.

What qualities do you think you need to be a run leader?

To put the Group’s needs before your own. To be supportive, encouraging and plan your routes.

When did you take up running and why?

I started the Couch to 5k, on my own, in 2012 as part of my preparation for the 3 Peaks Challenge. I hated it and promised myself that, once completed, I would never run again. Things change ………

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

Several of the people I met at the ABP Sunday running group were Spitfires. It was the enjoyment of running with a group and the support I received from Rachel that made me want to join.

What was your most memorable running moment?

My first 5 minutes running without a break. I may laugh about it now but it was a huge milestone for me.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

As most of you know, I’m not the fastest runner but always pushing for my next PB and to stay injury free.

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

Not the strangest thing, but running predominantly with women and being privy to their conversations I see the world in a different light.

What do you do when you’re not running?

When’s that?! When not running I enjoy spending time with my dog and wife.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

Parkrun. A brilliant atmosphere with so many friendly faces and a great social event.

I Am Team GB, the nation’s biggest sports day


The last parkrun of August began with the blowing up of balloons! It was a fairly strange start to a parkrun but Saturday 27 August was I Am Team GB, the nation’s biggest ever sports day, aimed at getting people out and active after the success of the Olympic Games. Backed by the Olympic team, the National Lottery and ITV, venues all across the country were taking part offering free taster sessions for sports of all kinds.


Southampton parkrun had balloons, bunting and lots of fun signs to welcome all the first time parkrunners who turned up to join in. A lot of familiar Spitfire faces were there, not only to run but helping to set up, marshal and pack away after the event. There were even some tourists from Austraila who, frankly, must have been wondering what on earth was going on. More than 690 runners took part including a certain walker who kept the tail runner company. Hopefully some of the new faces will get a taste for parkrun and return next week.


August PB’s


Well done to everyone who smashed their PB’s this month, whether it be at parkrun, at an event, or just out on a run alone. Great work!




Ed Tavner 21.21
Daniel Baker 17.52
Mitchell Gerrard 20.59
Thomas Shaw ss.34
Paula Lovell 24.04
Chris Harney 26.29
Sarah Sherman 31/43
John Wynn 19.55
Tasha Ault 28.01
Kali Banda 19.57
Becky Diggle 24.58
Nicholas Myers 25.44
Sam Brownsea 21.45
Perry Seymour 34.01
Jamie Foster 19.54
Darren Palmer 22.10


Beth Farrow 46.42 (Wyvern – sorry Beth, I missed you off lost month)

Pin the muscle on the runner 

How well do you know all the muscles that help you run?

So so how did you do on the running shoe quiz last month? Here are the answers.

1 Nike Pegasus 29, 2 Asics Gel Lyte33 v3, 3 Brooks Ghost 7, 4 Salomon Sense Pro







imageMagic Mile

In the past runners racing in the second wave of the Magic Mile have run the first wave as a warm up. As some first wave runners found this off putting this is no longer allowed. In future, those who wish to warm up will have to do so elsewhere.


If you’re pining for a cross country fix now the RR10’s are over, never fear. The CC6’s will be starting in September. Much like the RR10’s, each club has to marshal an event and ours is the first, at Fleming Park on 18 September. Only members who marshal this event will be allowed to run the rest of the races. There will be eight venues and a race roughly once a month, all on Sunday mornings. Car sharing is vital as some official car parks will not let you in if you are driving alone. Watch this space for a list of dates and race reports.


The next beginners group will start on 14 September. This will be the last beginners group for a while so any friends or relatives wanting to start running should email as soon as possible. Places are limited.

Club Championship

Dont forget, if you have entered the club championship, you will need to run at least one of September’s Parkruns at Southampton, Eastleigh or Netley. If you run more than one, Gill will take your best time.

…And finally

imageWe wave a sad goodbye to Brian Birkmyre who is going off to live in Manchester. It may be a little less sunny than the south coast and it has a reputation for being rather damp, but I know there are some wonderful tow paths to run along and some great cross country trails beside the River Mersey. Good luck Brian!





#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne