Newsletter July 2017


Dress for success

Late summer running can present a few dilemmas when it comes to what and how much to wear. The weather in the UK is unpredictable at best, even if you check the forecast before you set out. So how can you decide whether to opt for the vest and shorts or the long sleeves and leggings?

Running experts suggest you take into account how hot you will feel mid run. They advise checking the thermometer and then dresssing as if it’s 10 degrees warmer.  Don’t forget to factor in wind chill or the possibility of rain though, especially if you’re planning on a long run. Modern soft shell fabrics are really worth the investment for those late summer drizzly days and, for the scorchers, light colours and performance fabrics that wick sweat away from your body and help it evaporate are best.

The rewards of volunteering

Spitfires are renowned for volunteering. Go to parkrun on any Saturday morning and you’ll see them there in swarms, marshalling, scanning, funnel managing, timing and even Run Directing. They don’t expect to gain anything from it apart from the nice warm fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing they have helped out. So, when Rees Leisure were looking for volunteers to help out at the ABP Marathon, lots of Spitfires jumped at the chance. Some were pacers or motivators and a huge team, organised by Amanda and Amelia, acted as Mile Makers.

Everyone worked really hard all day but they had a blast doing it and that felt like reward enough. It wasn’t the only reward though.  The Itchen Spitfires were voted Best Mile Makers by a huge majority. Along with all the lovely comments from the survey, there was a cheque for £750 and a shiny new flag for the club. On 3 July Rees Leisure came along to the Feather with a giant cheque. Of course the Spitfires turned out in force again, resplendent in their race shirts for the photo shoot. What a fabulous achievement!

If you’re wondering about all the comments on the survey, here are a few of the best ones;

Loud & enthusiastic & they are runners so know what it means to be out there doing it!

What a awesome running club & lovely bunch of people. The cheers along the way sure do help.

Finish line could not have worked without support from Spitfires there until the end. Their enthusiasm and encouragement was amazing.

Great smiles and hugs at the end of a great run. They were full of enthusiasm from the first to the last runner.

The spirit of the Spitfires is inspring & they make a lot of effort to keep people going!

The cheering on in the race village on the finish line was immense. To see a friendly face at the end of a tough run and even a hug was well received.

The smiling Itchen Spitfire faces around the course, and at the end, were my favourite part of this event. As a spectator said ‘they’re like an army.’ Thank you!

They were the loudest and most supportive, running in with the final runners & encouraging all the way

They were loud and smiling and everywhere!

Always smiling, very proactive and nothing too much trouble.

Well done to everyone who took part. You all deserve a big pat on the back!

Happy 5th Birthday Southampton parkrun

It’s not every day you get to watch the 118 twins, several incarnations of Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Spider-Man, several transformers and other assorted superheroes running around Southampton Common.  On 8 July that was exactly what happened though. The reason for all the weirdness was the 5th Birthday of Southampton parkrun.

The first ever Southampton parkrun took place on 7 July 2012, a rather wet and wild Saturday morning. The torrential downpours stopped just in time for the first ever pre race briefing. There were special guests, the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Derek Burke and Danny Norman, the recently appointed UK Communications Manager of parkrun. There were runners from parkruns in Eastleigh, Netley Abbey, Basingstoke, Bushy Park, Newbury and Poole along with all the Southampton runners claiming their very own parkrun venue. As far as I can tell there weren’t any superheroes, except of course, the amazing volunteers who worked so hard to get the whole thing off the ground.

When those first 254 runners crossed the start line they made history. Little did they know what a huge monster they had been part of creating. Who could have imagined that just five years later there would be crowds of over a thousand running round Southampton Common on a Saturday morning or that Southampton would become one of the biggest parkruns in the country! What a fantastic achievement for all concerned.

Southampton parkrun #2 – Do you recognise anyone?

Wyvern, the last Championship 10k

The Wyvern 10k on 9 July was the last of the Championship 10k races and, despite the blistering heat, so many Spitfires turned out I began to think a wide angle lens might be a good investment. In fact more than 10% of the runners were Spitfires! The gazebo proved to be both tricky to put up and a godsend, providing some much needed shade. Never mind a warm up, most people were more concerned with keeping cool and hydrating. It was hard to believe that last year we were all trying to find shelter from the rain.

Those of us who were merely cheering headed straight for the ice cream van as soon as the race began and then retired to the shade of the gazebo. For the runners there was precious little respite from the baking sun out on the course and a tricky hill at the end. For our trouble we got to witness some surprising sprint finishes. Perhaps this had as much to do with wanting to get back to the ice cream van and the shade as it did the Championship results. A few eager beavers even managed to get PB’s and  Gerry Robson picked up a trophy for best in his age group! If that isn’t dedication I don’t know what is.

Determination and sprint finishes at Whiteley RR10

Due to a problem with the venue, the Marwell RR10 was cancelled so the fIrst cross country race of July was at Whitley. The wooded areas of Whitely Pastures were used during the buildup to D Day to provide shelter to troops waiting to embark for northern France. On 12 July they were filled with runners preparing to do battle of a different kind, the Whitely RR10.  This is one of the most cramped of all the RR10 courses, with barely a gnats whisker of space to set up tents and flags. Taking a team photo was a slightly tricky proposition, especially as so many Spitfires turned out to run. The upside was, there was coffee from Costa, picked up from on the way thanks to Tori and Teresa  and I didn’t have to crouch amongst the spiders because I was taking the photo. It was also shady, which could only be a bonus on a balmy evening.

The course runs through an ancient woodland site, once part of the medieval Forest of Bere, on a narrow single track bordered by trees. There is a mixture of terrain including some cheeky hills to keep runners on their toes. The race is run on a double loop so there were two chances for the cheer team to spur runners on, three if you count the start.

When it came to the final lap there were some storming sprint finishes and some very determined faces as Spitfires fought hard to grab a place or two. Tori and Teresa kindly collected all the finish tickets and noted down the numbers at the end, no mean feat on such a crowded finish line. Click here for full race reports and stats from the men’s and women’s teams.

A sweltering summer social

The beautiful weather held for the Summer Social on 16 July and a host of gazebos popped up at Victoria Country Park to shelter Spitfires and their friends and family from the sun. Blankets were spread on the ground in the shadow of the chapel and folding chairs came out, along with picnic baskets and cool bags. The more energetic members headed out onto the field for a surprisingly competitive game of football while the sensible people stayed in the shade eating, drinking and chatting.

Later there was the usual raffle, which earned the club around £230, and fun and games organised by Gill for the little ones. For the not so little ones several rounds of tug of war proved both popular and strenuous, especially for those who’d been enjoying food and drink not long before. Rachel claimed the title of undisputed queen of tug of war, despite a slight wardrobe malfunction, or possibly because if it.  All in all Amanda and Amelia did a fabulous job of organising another fun filled afternoon that no one seemed to want to end.

A killer hill at Janesmoor Pond

The second RR10 of the month was at Janesmoor Pond on 19 July. This is one of the toughest courses and I’m fairly sure no one who ran it last year was looking forward to the killer hill at the end. In fact even getting to the start involved a long muddy downhill trek. As the finish was at the top of said hill this meant a two loop course with a great deal more up than down to it. Undaunted by this, 24 men and 21 women turned out to fly the Spitfire flag, even if there was some difficulty actually getting it up and stopping it from flying away on the windy heathland at Stoney Cross.

From the point of view of the Spitfire cheer team, it was a great race to watch as muddy finishers powered up the final hill and used what little energy remained for the sprint to the line. Those who ran may not have felt quite the same about it. In fact I distinctly heard murmers from some about booking holidays for this time next year and a few cries of “never again.” Thanks to Maria and Tori for standing on ticket collecting duty and to Kylie for sending off the results even though she wasn’t in the country at the time. For once there were no ticketing queries from other clubs to answer after the event. This was probably because I was prepared for once and took photos of all the tickets before I sent Kylie the results. Once again, all the facts and figures can be found here.

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 
Well this is all very embarrassing. For some bizarre reason the Spitfire of the month is me! I’m not quite sure how that happened, especially as I prefer to get about at walking pace and refuse to even run for a bus (although Dave says he’ll never give up trying to persuade me).  I’m spectacularly bad at blowing my own trumpet so I’ll just say thank you very much, blush a lot and do my best to answer the interesting and thought provoking questions John and Rachel came up with for me. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed next month.

Where is the best place to walk in Southampton? 

The Itchen Navigation is one of my favourite walks although, technically, most of it isn’t in Southampton. Most of my usual walks are on out of the way trails or the little bits of woodland scattered about the city but I do like a bit of history with my walking so I would have to say walking the medieval Southampton Walls would be one of the most interesting things to do inside the city.

What has been your most memorable time with the Spitfires? ?

Two moments spring to mind. The first is when Kylie and I almost got trampled by horses at the Wilverley CC6 as we crossed the field towards the finish line. It was a case of eyes closed and hope. I thought I was going to die but I did keep taking photos. The second was the Southampton Marathon this year. Tail walking, or motivating as it was properly called, with Russ for the 10k and then standing at the finish cheering all the marathon runners home along with all the Spitfire marshals was a really emotional experience.

How has the running club changed your life?

Getting involved with the Itchen Spitfires was more by accident than design. Initially I went along to events to support my runner husband, Dave, and watch him run. It wasn’t long before I started helping out at parkrun and getting to know some of the people who kept popping up in my photos. When Dave told me the Spitfires needed someone to help out with the Newsletter, I said I’d do it if they didn’t mind a non runner getting involved. Obviously they didn’t, and I’ve learned there are a lot of parallels between walking, especially long distance, and running, including the joy they both bring and the kinds of injuries runners and walkers get. After that I started going to events even when Dave couldn’t and I’ve met some wonderful, inspirational people and made some fantastic friends through the club.

If you could go for a walk with anyone who would it be and why?

Mostly, I walk alone. Walking is my quiet, thinking time. Sometimes I walk with my son, Declan, and on very rare occasions, I get to walk with Dave, which I love. If I had a magic wand and could walk with anyone though, I’d love to walk with my Dad and Granddad, known to everyone as Pappy. My Dad died when I was nine so my memories of him are quite vague and Pappy more or less brought me up but died when I was twelve. As a child Pappy and I often went for long walks together and it is through him I learned to love walking. It would be wonderful to get to walk with them both, ask them some of the questions I never got the chance to ask and find out what they were like adult to adult.

We know how much you love taking photos if you could take a photograph anywhere where would it be?

Because I used to work in travel I’ve had the opportunity to take photos in some of the most interesting places in the world. Two of my favourites are Djemaa el fna, the square in Marrakech known as the greatest free show on earth and the Catacombs under the streets of Paris. If I could really take a photo anywhere though I’d love to take one in the centre of Stonehenge at the moment of the solstice with no one else there. Now wouldn’t that be amazing?

A few things you might not know about the humble banana 

Love them or hate them, everyone knows bananas make a great pre or post race food. They’re low in calories, have no fat, sodium or cholesterol. They do have vitamin C, potassium, fibre and are the only fruit to contain the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6, which helps the body to produce serotonin. Worldwide more than 100 billion are eaten each year, making them the world’s fourth most popular agricultural product. Surprisingly, bananas don’t actually grow on trees. The banana plant is part of the same family as lilies, orchids and palms and is actually classified as a herb! Bananas are not really a fruit either, they are technically berries.

Whatever they really are they are extremely good for you. Research has shown they may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes and decrease the risk of getting some forms of cancer. They also have some other astonishing uses. Rubbing the inside of a banana skin on bites, stings, burns, and other wounds stops itching, soothes pain, reduces swelling, draws out splinters and aids healing. Rubbing banana peel on a wart will cure it within about two weeks and rubbing it on your forehead will help cure a headache. The potassium, magnesium and manganese in banana peel will whiten teeth if you rub the inside on your teeth for two minutes every night. A mashed banana mixed with a tablespoon of heavy cream and another of honey makes a great hair conditioner if you can get it as far as your hair without eating it. Banana peel can also be used to shine the leaves of houseplants, clean and polish leather shoes and shine silverware.

Bananas are not for everyone though. About half of all people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to bananas. They are also slightly radioactive, thanks to the potassium they contain. The level of radiation isn’t high enough to harm you though. You would need to eat around 400 bananas a day for potassium levels to be high enough to kill you.

Finally, it seems bananas really can help you run faster. The fastest marathon run by someone dressed as a fruit was completed by Englishman Andrew Lawrence, during the  London Marathon, on 24 April 2016. You guessed it, he was dressed as a banana!

July PB’s 


It was hot. It was humid. There were some spectacular storms towards the end but, unbelievably, there were still PB’s in July. How do you all keep getting faster? Once again, thanks to Dave Keates for gathering all the information and making sense of it for me and well done to everyone who managed to beat their best!


Massi Squaletti 17.47
Donna Paddick 27.57
Alana Jane Williams 28.17
Thomas Wharton 19.29
Lorna Banda 27.03
Elizabeth Smith 29.16
Glen Medcalf 23.33
Nicolas Myers 24.08
Tracy Penny 34.26
Trudie Green 34.36
Helen Bonaer 23.05
Leah Tavner 22.43
Sam Cox 23.24
Gareth Evans 21.39
Marcus Hewitt 25.03

Junior parkrun

Olivia Tongs 12.4


Tori Collinson 7.07
Helen Bonaer 6.34
Ian Howard 5.05
Tash Avery 6.11
Gary James Nias 6.55
Paddy Connors 5.16
Jamie Foster 5.14
Sarah Min 8.31
Leah Tavner 6.35
Lindsay Bowers 9.19
Sue Haig 9.27
Lulu Ashton 7.2
Becky Diggle 7.06
Benjamin Stewart 6.44
Marcus Hewitt 6.45
Cameron Somerville Hewitt 5.52
Ian Hart 5.51
Lindy Seymour 8.21
Kerry Murray 9.59
Keith Harris 5.54
Alana Jane Williams 8.27
Tyrone Bowers 6.4
Elizabeth Smith 8.39
Amanda Chalk 9.26


Helen Bonaer 48.41
Tori Collinson 56.44
Tina Street 1.14.00
Teresa Robson 56.49
Gemma Scarf 1.05.00
Charlotte New 1.03.00

Whose flying feet? 

Everyone likes a good flying feet photo but can you guess who these flying feet belong to?

Did you work out whose eyes were in last month’s quiz?

Championship Mile Run

The championship 10k races might have ended at Wyvern but the championship events are far from over. On 26 July the first of the Championship  Mile Runs took place on Southampton Common. Obviously it wasn’t going to take long. The current world record holders for the Mile are Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco with an amazing  3:43.13 for the men and Russian Svetlana Masterkova  with the women’s record of 4:12.56. The Spitfires might not be quite as quick but it was still a blink and you’ll miss it affair.

A mile, or 1,760 yards if you want to be exact, is a popular sprinting distance and the only imperial distance for which the IAAF still records an official world record. Mile races began in England in the 18th and 19th centuries with wagered runs that attracted so many spectators and gamblers it became a professional sport. In 1954 the mile distance came to prominence again when Roger Bannister, with the help of pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, became the first person to break the four minute barrier. Something many had thought impossible until that moment. There may not have been any sub four minute miles on The Common but everyone did brilliantly, as can be seen form the long list of mile PB’s this month. A full list of results can be found here.

Photos thanks to Tracy Dear-woolhouse

Run, talk, pizza and beer

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year and talking about issues like depression, anxiety, stress or other problems that seem overwhelming, is the first step towards feeling better. Often though, finding the courage to talk about it is difficult. Being open about these things helps end the stigma around them and means others may find it easier to discuss their own issues and seek help earlier.

Physical activity is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing and being able to talk about mental health is something that’s important for us all. The regular Itchen Spitfires Run and Talk events, organised by mental health ambassador Abigail, kill two birds with one stone. Everyone gets a chance to run with people they might not normally run with at a pace that makes talking easy. There is even a walking group for those who prefer a slower pace or are recovering from injury. The event on 27 July ended with surprise pizza and beer at The Feather, courtesy of John and Rachel.  If you haven’t managed to make it to Run and Talk yet, the next one will be in six weeks time. Although I can’t guarantee pizza and beer will follow, it’s well worth going to. If you did go and want more pizza check out the link.


imageOS invitation

OS runners are holding Handicap races over the next few months. They will be 5.6k loops starting and finishing at Ordnance Survey and would be held on weekdays starting at 12:15. If you are interested in taking part contact Rachel with your latest parkrun result so your handicap can be calculated.

Professional sports bra fitting (ladies only!)

Alton sports are hosting a professional bra fitting evening on Tuesday 22nd August at 6pm with Brooks. You can go along to get a fitting and more information about how sports bras work. Let Scott Edginton know if you’re interested. It may be quite busy on the night but, if enough Spitfire ladies are interested, Scott may be able to organise a closed night for the club.

Macmillan Coffee Morning 

Emma Wilson is organising a Mcmillian coffee morning on 23 September between 10:00 and 13:00, through her scout group in Brook road, Bitterne. She is looking for anyone who would like to come along and run a stall, maybe if you have a small business or a beauty treatment to offer. Tables will be sold for £15 each. Contact Emma if you are interested.

Winchester Half Marathon volunteers needed

After the stunning Spitfire success as Milemakers at the ABP Southampton Marathon Amanda Harris has entered the Spitfires as a group to volunteer at the Winchester Half Marathon. It isn’t yet clear what role this would be but it is obviously a shorter day than the marathon volunteering and it will raise £200 in funds for the club. Volunteers would be expected to be in Winchester between 8:00 and 12:00. Nineteen more volunteers are needed so contact Amanda if you’re interested.

And finally… 

This month we said a sad goodbye to Clare Louise who is off to Pastures new in Malaysia. Hopefully the heat of this summer has prepared her for the weather there.






#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne