Newsletter August 2018

Goodbye summer

The long, hot summer looks like it’s finally over, unless the Indian Summer the weathermen promised kicks in over the next few weeks. Walking in the heat and humidity has been a chore so I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like running in it. Now the RR10’s are behind us and the mud, ice and cold of the CC6’s is just around the corner, it’s time to pack away the bug spray and sun cream and break out the long sleeves, gloves and hats. Thanks to Dave Keates and my shiny new Dryrobe, I might even get through the autumn and winter without shivering.

The penultimate RR10, Itchen Valley 

The Itchen Valley RR10, in August 2017, was a very wet affair filled with mud and puddles. This year couldn’t have been more of a contrast. The ground was bone dry and dusty and the sun was beating down. The keen runners who went off for warm up runs came back to report the hill in the second field was strewn with long grass that had been cut and left on the ground. This made the going slippery and hid the rabbit holes nicely. One Romsey lady managed to find one and get injured before the race even began.

This time 24 Spitfire ladies and 26 Spitfire men were willing to take up the arid challenge, although only 23 ladies crossed the finish line as Dani succumbed to the treacherous ground early on. The course was mostly flat but the rabbit holes, roots, dust, slippery hay, a downhill staircase, narrow bridges and heat made it a difficult race. Several people were heard to say they preferred the mud to the hard ground.

Thanks to Maria, who went against physio’s orders, there were 8 full ladies teams and quite a lot of ladies and men had already completed the required 6 races. Gaby O’Brien, Hannah Chinnock, Kerry Murray,  Mark Tiller, Simon Beer and Graham Moore had not missed a single race! Amelia and Richard did a great job of number collecting, although those numbers were a little confusing due to raffle books being reused for environmental reasons. At the end there was the usual delicious cake and some very well received watermelon, thanks to Simon Beer. As usual, Spitfires can find full race reports and stats here.

Championship five mile race

The heatwave continued for the first of two Championship five mile races starting and ending on Peartree Green. The course, slightly improved from last year, was basically a large loop taking in Northam Bridge and the Itchen Bridge, a route many Spitfires know all too well. Those who weren’t running lined the course as marshals to make sure everyone went the right way and to raise any flagging spirits. There was also a lead bike, in the guise of Scott Dawson.

The first person to cross the finish line was Beth Farrow, although, as she’d only run from the corner of the green, her result didn’t count. Her practice run did, at least, give me chance to get my photographising position more or less sorted out. The timing, handled by Rob Kelly, Gill MClure and token handler Charlotte New, was based on parkrun technology and worked rather well all things considered.

Maximum effort was put in by all who ran. There were several bodies laying about on the dry, prickly grass at the end and a great deal of sweaty heavy breathing. A couple of people somehow managed to smile as they crossed the finish line and look as if they’d enjoyed it. Almost everyone managed to go the right way  this year, although there was a slight detour near the end for some and crossing the last road onto the green lost others a few precious seconds.

Luckily, the Saharan conditions meant the midges were kept at bay this year and there was a rather spectacular sunset at the finish line for those who could keep their eyes open long enough to appreciate it. Gill did a great job of collating all the results and they can be found on the Facebook Page.

Walk to the pub

The Walk to the Pub event, organised by Sue and Jan, allowed those Spitfires who are also keen walkers, are recovering from injury, or like to include their four legged friends, to take part. We all met at The Feather and, after a short break to allow all the very well behaved, dogs to get acquainted with each other, set off towards Weston Shore. Rain during the day had cooled things down nicely and we got a great view of the three Queens, cruise ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2, waiting in Southampton Water as we strolled through Rolling Mills. Sadly, we were a little too early to witness the red arrows display though.

The walk along Weston Shore could only have been improved by a stop for ice cream. Then it was time to head into West Wood. Thankfully, John was in the lead so we all made it through the woods without getting lost. The walk ended with cool drinks in the pub garden and some carvery scraps for the dogs. If there’s a better way to spend a Friday evening I’m not sure what it is.

Parkrun tourism in Hampshire 

Parkrun tourism is a great way to see what other venues are like and find new and interesting 5k courses to run. There are parkruns in 20 countries at over 1400 venues worldwide so there’s no shortage of new places to visit. Of course, most are only really accessible if you’re on holiday nearby. Believe it or not though, there are actually 19 parkruns in Hampshire, all within easy reach if you don’t mind getting up a little earlier than normal. 

The largest parkrun in Hampshire, with an average attendance of 573.5 runners and a record attendance of 1,134, is held on Southampton Common, a venue most of you are very familiar with. The Queen Elizabeth parkrun has the lowest average attendance of just 78.9 runners and Lymington Woodside has the lowest record attendance of just 168 runners. The first parkrun ever held in Hampshire was at Basingstoke on 5 July 2008, making it ten years old. The newest is Hogmoor Inclosure, where the first run was held on 10 March this year. New it may be, but it still manages to attract 163.7 runners on average each week. 

If you are looking for a nice flat course, it would probably be best to avoid the Queen Elizabeth parkrun. Located in the South Downs National Park, it’s the hilliest in Hampshire and one of the hilliest in the UK. This could explain the generally low attendance. The flattest course is Southsea but strong wind often makes this slower than you’d think. Other flattish courses are Andover, Lee on Solent, Portsmouth Lakeside, Rushmoor, and Winchester, although this can get boggy in winter. If it’s a PB kind of course you’re after, Winchester might be worth a visit. It has the lowest average run time of 27.11 minutes, although the record for the fastest ever Hampshire finish goes to Jonathan Hay, at Medina, with an astonishing 14:42! Then again, if you want a nice slow run and a high finish position, Hogmoor Inclosure, with an average finish time of 32:10 and fastest finish of 16:35 by parkrun tourist, James Baker, is worth a visit. This is officially the slowest parkrun in Hampshire. So, why not check out the official stats in the photos, get out your map and indulge in a little local tourism. Don’t forget your barcode though. No barcode, no result! 

Upcoming events 

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

Events marked * are club championship races. This is just a selection of the races coming up. If you are looking for more events other Spitfires might be attending, check out the Events page on Facebook, or, for something a little different search on the Runners World website.

The last RR10 Hursley

 Hursley was the last RR10 of the season and also a chance for anyone who hadn’t yet run one or volunteered at the first one, to jump in and have a go. A little bit of rain meant the grass was green, even if the ground was still rock hard. One of the plus points about Hursley, is the club house with real toilets, a bar and food. When I went to take advantage of the former, I found a very long queue and a few of the Spitfire cheer team enjoying drinks and cheesy chips.

There was a massive Spitfire turnout, including several who were trying out cross country RR10 style for the very first time. Unfortunately, the queues for the loos and some badly planned warms ups meant not everyone got into the team photo though.

The course is, I’m told, a fast one, with a triple loop that means the one long hill has to be negotiated three times, some people seemed to take it all in their stride, while others succumbed to the odd walk break. There were a few spills on the gravelly hill. Poor Abi had to pull out midway and Dave Chalk managed to limp to the finish after twisting his ankle.

There was also a bit of an issue with the finish funnel. At one point the queue snaked back for some distance onto the course, making the timing of finish sprints difficult and almost causing a few crashes. As always, there were some nail biting dashes for the finish line, with places gained and lost in the final feet. Luckily I had an apprentice race photographer in the guise of Sue Haig to help me out. Gemma and Amelia did a great job of number collecting. There were sweets, thanks to Gabby, cakes from Charlotte, Julie and Sue and a wonderful Pimms surprise from Simon to round off a lovely evening. As ever, full reports and stats can be found here.

Championship Five mile race #2

Those who’d chosen the second of the two five mile championship races got the better deal as the weather was far cooler. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it could very easily have turned out the other way round.  It was all change as those who ran last time marshalled this time and the previous marshals became runners. The grass on Peartree Green had also undergone a transformation, from brown to green, after a little bit of rain.

This time, the first Spitfire across the line was Rachel Grant, but, as with Beth at the last five miler, she’d only run the last few yards rather than the whole route. This could explain why she looked so fresh. Luckily, timers Rob Kelly and John Grant, weren’t fooled and didn’t stop the watches. Pretty soon the usual suspects were appearing on the finish line, followed by  a steady stream of Spitfires who’d obviously given their all in an effort to grab those all important championship points.

 There were some truly heroic performances, especially from those who were running the distance for the first time, and all the marshals, volunteers and tail runners, Al and Sarah, did a brilliant job. With less heat, there was less collapsing onto the grass in heaps but there were by all accounts, a few PB’s and another lovely Peartree Green sunset. The results can be found here, but Gill is keeping championship positions close to his chest so how this race affected the final results is anyones guess.

Interview with a Spitfire 

This month’s Spitfire of the Month is Phil Smith. If you’ve run with him in group E or F, you’ll know his enthusiasm for running is infectious and he’s a lot faster than he thinks he is. His running has come on in leaps and bounds recently and he’s currently training for the Great South Run. So let’s find out a little more about him.



When did you take up running and why?

I started to take up running 9 years ago because I wanted to  give myself a new challenge.

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

I heard about it from a friend who goes to the club and suggested to me about joining.

What do you do when you’re not running?

I do 5 a side football training on Friday evening and I work for Trojan Mailing/Hampshire Press.

What were your most memorable running moments?

I have done 3 10K runs In Beaulieu, Eastleigh and Southampton.

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

I have done 10 mile runs and I feel more confident doing the runs as well.

August PB’s 


There were a surprising number of PB’s again this month, despite the cold and the fog. Thanks to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who appears on it.




Andy Ward 21.1
Adam Pratt 25.34
Wayne Bellows 23.03
Mark Tew 23.03
Nicola Barton 31.14
Hannah Lawless 23.27
Frazer Bailey 22.00
Steve Williams 19.07
Carole Stevenson 26.19
Nero the Dog 29.00

One Mile

Ian Howard 4.57
Dan Lovell 6.00
Paula Lovel 7.36
Charlotte New 7.16


Dave Keates 20.4
Chris Puzey 19.24
Alana Jane Williams 27.17
Steve Williams 18.56
Hannah Lawless 23.15
Adam Ruddy 19.44

Five Mile

Amanda Chalk 46.58
Andy Ward 36.42
Charlotte New 43.04
Teresa Robson 43.16
Becca Smith 41.06
Becky Diggle 39.01
Dan Lovell 38.53
Paula Lovell 43.06
Paddy Connors 28.46
Elizabeth Smith 45.52
Sue Haig 51.36
Tina Street 01:04:34
Francesca Horn 41.43
Gabs O’Brien 38.12
Tori Collinson 41.08
Ian Hart 34.29
Sam Cox 38.21


Can you fill in the blanks in the signs below? These are all places you have probably run loads of times. The pictures should give you a clue.

Here are the Run Leaders from last month looking more like themselves

The Lakeside 5k Series final

The monthly Lakeside 5K series at North Harbour, Portsmouth, has been going on since late April. The August race was the last in the series and I really wish I’d managed to get along to watch the others.  The route covers part of the Lakeside parkrun course and is a fast flat race, great for PB’s. For spectators there are two chances to see the runners go past and the finish made great viewing, with places gained and lost in the final yards.

Runners can enter the whole series or just choose individual races, although there’s a discount for entering the series on line. Best of all there are prizes for the first three male and female finishers in each race and awards for the top teams at the end of the series. For most of the series Adam and Dave have been the only Spitfires taking part but, for the last race, a whole team turned up to see what all the fuss was about. Almost everyone got aPB’s so I have a feeling there may be a lot more Spitfires next year.


A new cross country challenge

The RR10’s May be over now but, if you’re having cross country withdrawal, the CC6 league is not far off. If you haven’t tried them before, they’re like RR10’s but on Sunday mornings, with a lot more mud and maybe a bit of coldness.

Just like the RR10’s we can’t run the first race at Fleming Park on 9 September because it’s our marshal race. You can’t run if you haven’t marshalled so put the date in your diary and keep an eye on Facebook for more details. If you can’t marshal on 9 September, never fear, you can marshal at one of the other events. There are 8 races in all and dates and places will be revealed soon.

Half price at The Running School!

HRRL is just around the corner

Dont forget the HRRL series begins on 2 September at Overton Recreation Ground with the Overton 5 Mile Race. The second race of the series is the Solent Half Marathon on 23 September at Gang Warily Recreation Ground. More details about the other races coming soon so keep an eye on the Facebook page.

And finally… 

We said a sad farewell to Alana Nairn, who ran her last club session before moving to Peaky Blinders Country (Birmingham) this month. She will still be wearing Spitfire colours for a few more races though, so keep your eyes peeled.





Congratulations to mum to be, Taylor Alexis Cooper, on running her 109th parkrun this month.








#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne