Newsletter January 2017


A sneak peek at 2017

So what does 2017 hold for runners? For the lovers of muddy cross country races there is still one more CC6 ahead and, no doubt, there will be RR10’s in the summer. Really keen cross country lovers might even fancy the Heartbreaker Marathon, a cross country run in Fordingbridge on 26 February,  the Andover Trail Marathon on 3 September or the Clarendon Salisbury to Winchester Marathon on 1 October.  Anyone who likes a bit of a challenge will no doubt now be training for the long awaited Southampton Marathon but there’s also the New Forest Marathon to aim for on 10 September.  There are even two Ultras on 18 March, a 50k and a 75k, both part of the  New Forest Running festival. Slightly shorter, but fairly unmissable is the 2017 Great South Run on 22 October.  For those who prefer their runs a great deal shorter and closer to home, the Southampton parkrun 5th Birthday on 1 July is something to look forward to. It looks like 2017 is going to be a year jam packed with exciting events. What are you waiting for, sign up for something now!

New Year parkrun double

Photo thanks to Lindsay Bowers

For those who were not too hung over or tired from a night of seeing in the New Year there was the chance to run a double parkrun on New Year’s Day. In fact there was even a choice. The Southampton Common parkrun began at ten thirty meaning the really dedicated could run at the normal time at either Netley or Eastleigh and then do it all over again on the Common. I’m told some extra dedicated (or perhaps stark staring mad) individuals even finished the first run and then ran to the Common for a second.

My original plan was to be at Netley and then drive to the Common and cheer on Rachel who was running her 200th parkrun there, having run her 199th at Netley. Unfortunately, a pizza party, several rum and cokes and a very late night meant I didn’t quite manage Netley but I did make it to the Common. Surprisingly 552 runners overcame their hangovers to join me.  Amongst them were 59 first time runners, possibly as a result of New Year’s resolutions. Those who’d chosen Netley as their first run of the day were easy to spot because of a liberal caking of mud. My own resolution is to lay off the rum and make it to both runs in 2018.

CC6 Badger Farm

The first CC6 of 2017 was at Badger Farm in the wilds of Winchester. It was another very foggy morning, made a little better by an open Starbucks near the car park. Of course I was spectating, not running, so I could indulge myself. As Kylie, the official number taker, was on duty as Race Director for Junior parkrun, my job was to take down all the finish numbers. The coffee didn’t interfere with this at all and not a drop was spilt.

Seven very hardy Spitfires braved the elements and the steep slippery steps up to the start. The course was a touch on the muddy side, as you can see from the before and after team photo above, but everyone crossed the line in one piece and the biggest drama of the day was folding down the tent!

Men only!

Most running issues are equal opportunity things affecting men and women alike but there are a few things ladies don’t have to worry about. For instance, women very rarely get joggers nipple but it can be the bane of the male runner’s life. The reason women don’t usually have this painful and sometimes embarrassing problem is that they mostly wear tight fitting sports bras. Men, on the other hand, generally just wear a shirt of some kind and it is the friction of the fabric, especially if it’s cotton, rubbing against their sensitive parts that causes sore, even bleeding nipples. Nipple tape or Vaseline can help but maybe there is a market out there for sports bras for men?

Things bouncing around isn’t only a problem for women either. Apparently men can also experience pain in certain delicate areas, especially on long distance runs, if things aren’t properly supported. Compression shorts or shorts with a liner that keep things from jiggling about too much can prevent this kind of issue. Beware though, because compression shorts that are too tight can restrict blood flow to said areas. If things feel a little numb and uncomfortable after a run it might be time to get some larger compression shorts!

On the plus side, running regularly improves blood flow and heart health and can also improve a man’s fertility. The British Journal of Sports Medicine found higher sperm counts (up to 73%) in men who exercised fifteen hours or more a week, along with higher levels of testosterone. Running too much can have the opposite effect however. Men who run more than 67 miles a week may see a drop in both testosterone and sperm count. Obviously, if you’re planning on starting a family this could be a concern. On the other hand, if you’re actively trying not to have children, it’s probably wise to up the mileage!

Happy Birthday John!

January 14 was John Grant’s birthday and he was surprised with a birthday balloon at his birthday parkrun. There was also a mass rendition of Happy Birthday. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t impressed with the former and was slightly embarrassed by the latter. Somehow, despite everyone’s best efforts, he managed to ditch the balloon before he went off to run.


CC6 Kings Garn Inclosure

There are 84 square kilometres of fenced inclosures in the New Forest originally crelated by Act of Parliament to grow trees for naval ships. Some date from the late 1600’s others are more recent creations. The Inclosure at Kings Garn dates from 1868 but was formed around Priors Acre Inclosure, one of the earliest in the New Forest. Of course we no longer build war ships from wood but the inclosures remain. These days they’re used by walkers, horse riders and, of course runners. On 22 January Kings Garn was the venue for the second CC6 of the month.

Four intrepid Spitfires turned out to run on what was a cold and icy morning. This did at least mean the mud was mostly frozen. It was a beautiful setting for a run, with Shetland ponies wandering about the car park and the sun lighting up the wispy remnants of morning fog. A steep hill down to the start line proved quite slippery and the steep hill back to the finish was, I’m told, very muddy in the places where the ice had melted. At least there was a professional number taker at the finish line this time.

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 


This month’s Spitfire of the Month is Tash Avery, who once used to run for Hampshire. Although she has recently battled with injury she’s back with a vengeance and will soon be a run leader, giving everyone the benefit of her experience. Well done Tash. Now it’s time to find out a little more about her.


When did you take up running and why?

I joined Southampton City running club when I was 8 years old, I trained for middle distance running and high jump. I left running when I was 19 years old but still ran on my own. I then found the Itchen Spitfires, which gave me the motivation to get back into running more seriously.

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

I bumped into Alex Weight, who mentioned she had seen signs for the running club, so I joined without a thought.

What was your most memorable running moment?

For me it was when I ran as an U/15, I got a place running for Hampshire at English Schools in Liverpool when I was 14 years old.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals? 

Apart from to stay injury free this year I would like to chip away at my pb’s. For the future I would like to get into the London Marathon (just the once though).

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

As an U/17 cross country runner, I stood on the starting line in Bedford only to find Paula Radcliffe standing next to me. I never saw her again (she was so much faster) but was still pleased I was in a race with her. We wished each other good luck and that was the last time I saw her.

What do you do when you’re not running?

I go to the gym when I can, any other time is spent running around after my kids.

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

Last year I had quite a serious injury, which got worse because I carried on running through the pain and didn’t rest. Looking back I was stupid and should have listened to my body and had some rest. For anyone who has an injury, don’t run, rest and see a physio.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

My favourite runs have always been at Farley Mount near Sparsholt. I had many cross country races there as a child.

Marathon training motivation 

Training for the Southampton Marathon is now well underway. Slowly but surely, the runs are getting longer and tougher and motivation might be a little hard to come by at times, especially when the weather is bad. So here are a few more pearls of wisdom from  people who have been there, done that and got the medal, to inspire you.



  • Some people say train to 20 miles some people say to 22, I did 22 miles and felt better for it. You only have 4.2 miles of unknown territory instead of the extra 6.2.
  • Don’t pound the same old pavements, pick a route you actually fancy running
  • Just remember you are putting your body through its paces and you get out of training what you put in.


  • If advice is offered, please listen, it might help.
  • Don’t get cocky or over confident ( I did! )
  • It’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed and majorly apprehensive about the training plan and how much time you need to be out running.


  • Train with others, it really helps on the long runs and helps get you  to actually complete them.
  • Prepare to feel tiredness like no other both during training and for about a month after the marathon!
  • Don’t be scared to miss a mid week training run, sometimes the rest will do you more good than run would have!

  • Don’t be alarmed if you get the odd black toe nail. It’s not unusual as a marathoner.
  • Listen to your body. If you get a niggle don’t ignore it, get it looked at if you’re not sure, and take any advice given. Missing a long run isn’t the end of the world. It’s better to get to the start line in one piece, and finish, even if it’s not as fast as you’d hoped.

  • Don’t build your weekly mileage up too quickly. The rough rule is only to increase by 10% week on week.
  • On the days that you don’t run, go for a walk instead or do some swimming to keep your muscles nice and loose.
  • Reduce your mileage down every few weeks to give your legs and body some recovery time.

Look out next month for the final set of tips from our kind marathon veterans. This time they will be all about race day…

December PB’s 


January was another bumper month for PB’s with lots of 5 mile PB’s from the Romsey 5 mile race. Well done everyone, whatever the distance. Thanks to Dave Keates for scouring the internet to gather all the details.




Olivia Risk 34.25
Jamie Foster 19.09
Tracy Penney 35.18
Trudge Green 35.21
Rebecca Harris 35.59
Donna Paddick 29.38
Clare McCusker 20.27
Gary James Nias 24.02
Sara Sherman 29.54
Emma Hart 22.09
Aimee Remsbury 36.19

Five Mile

Jamie Foster 31.12
Laura Durham 55.46
Abigail Hamilton 41.02
Chris Horn 46.54
Clare McCusker 33.32
Francesca Horn 46.54
Perri Seymour 54.44
Darren Palmer 34.39
Tracey Woolhouse 58.59
Richard Diggle 33.58
Sara Sherman 53.26
Sarah Christie 59.07
Tracy Penney 56.4
Sue Haig 54.14
Mitchell Robson 47.3
Trudie Young 48.37
F J Rogers 50.39


Jamie Foster 39.45

Where am I? 

How much attention do you pay when you’re running round the city? Can you identify where the following photos were taken? I know for sure you will have passed them many times but how observant are you?

Just in case you were losing sleep over who the mystery Spitfires were last month, here are the answers.

Run and Talk

There was rather a lot of talking and a little bit of running on Thursday 26 January for the Run and Talk event. The mixed ability running groups, each running at the pace of the slowest and led by our soon to be run leaders, gave everyone a chance to run with people they might not normally run with and to chat as they did.

The idea behind these events is to promote running and positive mental health and, unlike normal club nights, the event is open to members and non members alike. As usual, there was even a walking group for those recovering from injury or non members who are not runners. A great time was had by all. There were even a few ghost stories amongst the walking group and some welcome cakes at the end. Thanks to Abigail Hamilton for organising everything.

Romsey 5 Mile Run

The Romsey 5 Mile race on Sunday 29 January was surprisingly well attended considering the cold, damp weather. Perhaps the stunning  Broadlands Estate venue had something to do with the numbers. After all this was the place Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip chose to spend their honeymoon, as did Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The course was also one of the flattest in the country and mostly nice firm tarmac, which made a change from all the mud of the CC6’s.

There may not have been any royals present but the enthusiastic cheering team, including Jan Bray who should really have been resting having just come out of Hospital, managed to get their photo in the Echo. From the photographs I have shamelessly stolen from Emma Wilson and Jan Bray, it looks as if everyone had far more fun than is strictly necessary.

Isle of Wight Triple

Intrepid Spitfire Scott Dawson has announced the date for his next adventure, running all the way round the Isle of Wight to become the first person to complete the triple of swimming, cycling and running around the island. He will be setting off on 27 May 2017 and hopes to have a few Spitfires along to support him, either running some segments or cycling (no swimming this time you’ll be relieved to hear).

To find out more, or maybe even join Scott for part of his run, check out his Facebook Page.


imageClub Championships 2017! 

Don’t forget to get your entry in for the 2017 Club Championships. This year they are bigger and better than ever, with more awards up for grabs and a chance for everyone to win. For a full list of the championship events and how to enter, check out the link. Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win in so don’t delay, sign up today!

And finally… 

Lucy Anderson sneakily completed her 100th parkrun in December. She kept it very quiet but we have finally caught up with her. Well done Lucy!






Glen Medcalf ran his 50th parkrun at Netley on 28 January and earned himself a smart new red t-shirt.






Gerry Robson sneaked off to Netley to run his 100th parkrun on 21 January. We managed to catch up with him, not literally obviously, and take a photo.






We say a sad farewell to Jo Whetton who has been kidnapped and dragged off to Manchester by Brian. Hopefully she will visit us once in a while.






#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne