Most of this month I’ve been AWOL. This isn’t because I have such a busy social life I can’t fit in taking your photos and cheering you over the finish line. It isn’t because I’ve been sunning myself on a beach somewhere, or watching the World Cup either. Believe it or not, I’ve been injured. Yes, even walkers can get injured. Who knew?
Anyhow, long story short, I’ve been to The Running School and been told I have piriformis syndrome. Yes, I know it’s a runners ailment and some of you have probably had it at one time or another. For those who haven’t, it is, quite literally, a pain in the bum (and back, hamstring, calf, ankle and foot). Standing around makes it worse, so does sitting down. Come to that laying down isn’t so great, or bending or walking. Running is probably a bit of a pain too so I haven’t tried that. Hopefully lots of glute bridges, some magic stretches and a load of other torture devised by Paul Bartlet will have me back at a race near you soon. Until then, thank you to everyone who has asked how I am, or filled in and taken photos this month. Frankly, they’ve been so good I’m probably not needed anyway.
Winchester to Woolston
Most runs don’t start off with a train ride but the first run of July was an exception. The Spitfires were off to Winchester on the train and they would be running, or in some cases, walking all the way back to Woolston! This might have been a whole lot easier if it hadn’t been one of the hottest days of the year. It might also have been easier if most of the route hadn’t been ridiculously overgrown. Then someone had the bright idea of running up St Catherine’s Hill rather than taking the nice flat path beside the river… as if it wasn’t already tough enough!
The majority of the run was along the Itchen Navigation, a canal built between Northam Wharf in Southampton and Blackbridge Wharf in Winchester back in the late 1600’s. It was called a Navigation rather than a canal because parts of the route used the River Itchen while the more winding sections of river were bypassed by canals and locks. For around 150 years barges pulled by horses went up and down the Navigation transporting coal, wool and other goods between the two cities. The coming of the railways saw the demise of the Navigation but, in the 1970’s, the Itchen Navigation Preservation Society was formed and have worked hard to keep the towpaths and bridges open for people to walk or run.
Unfortunately, a very wet spring and a very hot summer mean the towpath was more overgrown than I have ever seen it. This and the weather made it an especially difficult run but everyone had plenty of water with them and there were lots of stops to cool down, rest and take on much needed calories. The final part of the run, from Northam Wharf across the Itchen Bridge to Woolston was probably the hottest as there was no shade from the trees, and hot pavements and buildings magnified the heat. The run ended in Metricks, where the lame, sick and sensible members of the club were waiting with some well earned refreshments and a chance to rest tired legs and feet. What a fantastic achievement!
Wide Lane RR10
The first RR10 of July was in Eastleigh, within sight of the Spitfire on the airport roundabout. The course, loops of the Wide Lane sports ground, may not have been the most challenging, with no streams to jump or logs to clamber over, but it was flat and there was a chance to wave to other runners at the various turning points. Unfortunately, it was another very dry, hot night so dust was a bit of a problem for both runners and those spectating and taking photographs.
Yet again, Spitfires were the most represented club with 31 men and 36 women taking part. These numbers were bolstered by Julie Mills and Beth Carroll who both made their RR10 debuts. The lack of shade, clouds of dust, a few midgies and a high pollen count (so I’m told), did add an extra challenge to what might otherwise have been seen as an easy race. In fact, due to the heat, the organisers decided to cut one loop of the course. For many this was a relief.
Heather did a great job of collecting numbers for Hannah to process and send off. Helen was on babysitting duty and cake was provided by Hannah, Lindsay and Stu. There were a whole load of seasons best finish places, some hard won right at the end and a bit of a scrum to get out of the very crowded car park. Full race reports, stats and details of the next races can be found here.
The last 10k of the Club Championship turned out to be a real scorcher. The Wyvern 10k is billed as a fast, flat race. This year the heat certainly made the gentle inclines feel like steep hills, especially as there is precious little in the way of shade on the course. A huge number of Spitfires slapped on the sun cream to brave the heat and try to pick up a few championship points. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to cheer them on but I’m told the cheer team was stupendous and Glen and Heather did a fantastic job with the photos, especially considering the conditions.
The event started and finished in the grounds of Wyvern College where the Spitfires had a nice shady gazebo to hide under when they weren’t running. Kindly residents out on the course did their best to cool everyone down with garden hoses but there really was no escaping the blistering sun. Amazingly some Spitfires actually managed to get PB’s and the ladies team of Sam Cox, Beth Farrow and Laura Jane Lomer even came first and earned themselves a trophy. Not to be completely outdone, the men’s team sneaked into third place!
The low down on flying feet
Every runner likes a flying feet photo but some runners seem to spend a lot more time in the air than others. Surprisingly, flying feet don’t just make a good photo, they make a faster runner. Ground contact time is one of the most under appreciated aspects of performance, and maximising the time your feet are off the ground can really improve your running. Right now you’re probably wondering how you can reduce your ground contact time? A little research showed me there are many schools of thought on the matter, some conflicting. A few things, though, seemed to be universally accepted.
Increasing your cadence, or quickening your steps, will help reduce ground contact time. Including short fast runs into your training will help with this as will skipping with a rope. Overstriding will mean your foot lands in front of your centre of mass and acts as a brake, this will cause you to heel strike and increase ground contact time. Paying attention to your stride and the way your foot hits the ground can make a huge difference. Studies have found that runners who hit the ground with their midfoot or forefoot fly for longer. Strengthening your glutes will increase your stride power and keep you off the ground longer. Adding jumping drills and weightlifting into your training, along with targeted stretching will help get those glutes in shape.
Obviously, there is no real substitute for a professional gait analysis and a programme tailored to your individual biometrics. Not everyone has the time or money though, so adding some short fast runs to your training, cross training with weights, paying attention to where your feet land and a bit of jumping and skipping can’t hurt. Who knows, in your next race photo you could have flying feet.
Spitfire Summer Social !
For those who ran the Wyvern 10k, the Summer Social on the same afternoon was a welcome chance to kick back and relax. Victoria Country Park was literally swarming with Spitfires. Sue and Jan did a fantastic job of setting up gazebos and umbrellas to provide a little bit of much needed shade and there was plenty of food and drink to revive those who had run.
There were the usual fun and games for children and adults alike, egg and spoon races, three legged races, tugs of war and, of course, a raffle with lots of fabulous prizes. The afternoon passed in a haze of sunshine, food drink and laughter. Well done to Jan and Sue for organising everything and thank you to Jane Grant, Lindsay Bowers and Sue Haig for taking such fabulous photographs.
Club Championship Mile Races
The Club Championships 10k races may have ended at Wyvern but there were still points to be picked up at the one mile races held on Southampton Common in the middle of the month. There were two events, held one week apart, giving two bites of the cherry for those who chose to run in both. Each race had two waves, one for the super speedy and one for the simply speedy.
Both evenings were hot and sticky but at least this meant everyone had an even playing field. Some people were running the distance for the first time, some were trying to beat previous best times and others were just trying to get round without melting. Both races were exciting to watch, with some mad dashes for the finish line and some really heroic efforts, especially considering the weather. For those who haven’t already had a peek results for race 1 can be found here, and for race 2 here.
RR10 Janesmoor Pond
Janesmoor Pond, race eight in this RR10 series, is one of the hilliest and most challenging courses. The verdant New Forest looked strangely brown and crispy after weeks without rain and, under the dry brown grass, the ground was rutted and as hard as concrete. Add a great deal more steep ups than downs and you have a tough cross country race indeed.
Numbers were, predictably, fairly low for this event but, nonetheless, 22 ladies (more than double last year’s turnout), including an RR10 debut for Sarah Shave, and 26 men braved the hills. Despit the, frankly, horrific course, a huge number of Spitfires finished in their season’s highest position (let’s not spoil things by pointing out that the low numbers may have played a part eh?) and a certain Captain Adam Ruddy is now actually the lead Spitfire in 41st place overall!
Number collectors, Teresa and Glen did a fantastic job, especially as Glen was also filling in and taking the photos in my absence (who says men can’t multitask?). The cheering squad were stupendous, as ever and the cake was, I’m told, mouth-wateringly good. Everyone who managed to finish, especially if they didn’t fall over in the process, deserves a massive pat on the back.
Unfortunately, the dust and a high pollen count took its toll on Charlotte New, who had an asthma attack but, in typical Spitfire Spirit, Rachel Jordan Sutch made sure she made it to the finish line safely, Becca Smith stayed with her until the paramedics were sure she was Ok and Sue Haig made sure there was cake left for all three. As ever, full results and real race reports can be found here.
Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events
- 1 August 19:00 RR10 Itchen Valley Country Park
- 6 August 18:45 5 Mile Race*
- 15 August 19:00 RR10 IBM Hursley
- 16 August 18:45 5 Mile Race*
- 1 September 9:00 Parkrun*
- 2 September 10:30 The Beast Corfe Castle Common
- 4 September 18.30 Lordshill Magic Mile Southampton Common
- 8 September 9:00 Parkrun*
- 15 September 9:00 Parkrun*
- 16 September 8:55 Richmond Half Kew Gardens
- 16 September 9:00 Hursley 10k
- 22 September 9:00 Parkrun*
- 23 September 9:00 Solent Half Marathon Exbury
- 24 September 10:00 Solent Half Marathon, Gang Warily Rcreation Centre
- 2September 9:00 Andover Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, The Enham Trust
- 29 September 9:00 Parkrun*
Events marked * are club championship races. This is just a selection of the races coming up. More can be found by searching on the Runners World website.
Interview with a Spitfire
The Spitfire of the Month for July is an all round nice guy but he’s probably someone you normally only see from behind. Paddy Connors is usually at the front of the pack when it come to races and has worked hard to improve his times at all distances all year, including a sub 3 hour marathon! Now it’s time to find out a little more about him.
When did you take up running and why?
I took it up just over 2 years ago. I was on holiday with a friend (now a Spitfire) who was marathon training and offered to join him for his morning runs. I didn’t think I’d be able to run on successive days or very far, but I kept going. He signed me up to Cheddar Gorge 10k when we got back so I had to keep running.
How did you first hear about Itchen Spitfires and what made you want to join?
I’d seen you all running over the bridge and at a few races, but it took Andy Ward dragging my ass to training for me to see what the fuss is about. Really glad he did that.
What do you do when you’re not running?
I tend to bore Rosie to tears I think. Generally try to keep up to date with films, live music and enough live sport in the pub as possible.
What was your most memorable running moment?
It has to be the marathon finish in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium. I was awful and I forgot my plan straight away, but I finished and it was my first one.
Do you have any pre or post race rituals?
Press ups, stretching, a can of coke and a banana before. I’ve no idea why that started. Plenty of beer and the biggest burger you can find after.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a run?
Being overtaken by a guy in a fat suit dressed as Santa during the Mapledurham 10 miler was surreal and quite demoralizing. I’d challenge anyone who thinks they don’t swear to run those hills and see if that still holds true
What’s the best thing you’ve gained from running?
Definitely all of the friends I’ve made. Best loss was of my smoking habit.
The Whiteley RR10, rescheduled because of the World Cup, turned out to be a dry and very dusty affair. The main track had been resurfaced with large, angular stones, not a great surface for walking, never mind running. This was one race where a little rain and mud would have been more than welcome. There was, however, an ice cream van, which, given the weather, was a great idea.
There was yet another impressive Spitfire presence with 29 women and 26 men running, although not everyone who started the race finished it. Unfortunately, the conditions underfoot meant most runners couldn’t appreciate the scenery on this woodland course. They were all too busy looking down at their feet and trying not to fall over. Not everyone succeeded and there were several falls, including Sarah, Donna and Richard.
A slight change to the position of the start and finish line ended up foxing quite a few runners, who mistimed their finish sprints. Even so, there were some outstanding performances on this very technical course. With a lower then usual turnout overall, many Spitfires ended up getting their best finish position of the year. The men’s A team certainly ran a season’s best, finishing in 4th place overall, and Gerry Robson is now in 2nd place in the V50 category! For more interesting RR10 facts and figures click here.
Given the heat and humidity, I’m surprised there were any PB’s at all this month. Somehow though, quite a few of you managed to beat your best. Thanks to Dave Keates for compiling the list and well done to everyone who appears on it.
Ian Buckman 25.37
Martin De Sousa 20.58
Aisha Murphy 26.51
Becca Smith 25.27
Jamie Foster 18.38
Gregory Bowers 41.40
Lewis Murphy 39.32
Adam Ruddy 20.24
Paddy Connors 5.09
Tim Coles 7.12
Gilliam McClure 5.1
Tori Collinson 6.5
Becky Diggle 6.52
Alisha Murphy 7.54
Joanna Dorman 7.18
Amanda Chalk 9.11
Jamie Foster 5.11
Charlotte New 7.16
Sam Cox 6.37
Becca Smith 7.2
Ian Howard 4.57
Steve Williams 5.29
Andy Ward 6.02
Elizabeth Smith 7.58
Helen Arwen Bonaer 6.18
Tyrone Bowers 6.15
Horacio Morgan 18
Tim Coles 27.11
Alisha Murphy 56.29
Sam Cox 47.51
Horatio Morgan 37.49
Vanessa Crowton 1:03.50
Elizabeth Smith 58.47
Gregory Bowers 14.04
Grace Bowers 10.45
George Bowers 10.09
More mixed up Run Leaders
Do you recognise the three mixed up Run Leaders in this photo?
Below are the owners of the flying feet from last month
Running all over the world
This month, while England and Croatia were slogging it out on a football pitch somewhere in Russia, our intrepid globe trotting marathon runner, Edo, ran the Sljeme Marathon in Zagreb. This in not a marathon for the faint hearted marathon tourist. According to Edo “It makes Larmer Tree marathon feel like being given a piggy-back around Southampton Park Run by a sub-16 minute runner.”
The course consists of a run up and down the mountain behind Zagreb, not once, not twice, but three times! If you thought running up a mountain was a challenge, it seems running down the mountain here is even worse. There was wet, slippery mud and scary sheer drops over single file ledges where death awaits those who aren’t paying attention. All this in 30 degree heat (although, frankly, we are getting used to that here at the moment). Edo had a bit of a fall, which, thankfully, didn’t see him spiralling through the sky to the bottom of the mountain but did leave him sore and bruised, not to mention very dirty. Those who managed to complete the race got a Pink Floyd themed buff, T-shirt and a medal featuring the Sljeme antena and a wild boar. They also got quite an adrenaline rush, I should imagine, and a new found appreciation of being alive.
Running and talking are both great ways to improve mood and mental health and this month we held another of our popular Run and Talk evenings, organised by Abi. To put the fun into running and talking Tash came up with a great idea to take advantage of the Seaside in the Square event going on in Guildhall Square and the giant deckchairs hidden all over the city. As always the idea was for everyone to run at a nice easy pace giving them chance to chat and get to know each other a little better and the added twist was to find as many deckchairs as possible while doing it.
Some groups found more deckchairs than others but it certainly looked like everyone had a fabulous time. There were Spitfires running through the fountains in the WestQuay Plaza, teams who all went off to get ice creams, teams who got confused and found the same chair twice and a walking group that settled for a bench in Queens Park instead of a deckchair.
The evening ended back at the Feather with beer, cider, gin, soft drinks and snacks thanks to John and Rachel. This proved to be just the incentive Rachel Grant needed to finish strong. She dashed across the Itchen Bridge like a steak of lightning and sprinted to the beer having got an Itchen Bridge personal best! This was the perfect end to a sultry, humid evening.
This year we are taking part in the HRRL league. Below is a list of the official races. Unlike the CC6’s and RR10’s these are not free races and each would need to be entered and paid for. Finish positions for teams and individuals score points and there are two leagues A and B. For more information about how it works check out this link.
We are also taking part in the HCCL, a series of five Saturday cross country Races between October and February (dates below). Event pages and more information will be coming soon so keep an eye on the Facebook Page.
Winchester Half volunteers needed
Amanda Harris is organising a team of volunteers for the Winchester Half Marathon on 23 September. We will be positioned on the finish straight so it should be a good fun event to help out at. Contact Amanda to find out more. You know you want to.
River Itchen Biathlon
Itchen Spitfires Triathlon and Running Clubs have been invited to enter teams into the River Itchen Biathlon. More information can be found here.
Congratulations to Teresa Robson who sneakily ran her 100th parkrun this month. Surprisingly, there were no balloons, sashes or costumes, but there was some rather wonderful lemon drizzle cake afterwards.
Well done to Sharon Stewart for completing her 100th parkrun this month. Apparently there was cake but I somehow missed it.
Cameron Hewitt achieved the amazing feat of becoming Southampton schools 3000 metres champion this month. What a star!
Great work at this month’s Continental Thunder Run by Solo Runners Dave Keates and Rob Kelly for running 100k and 140k respectively. Also to Ruth Jeffery and her mother, Elaine, who notched up 110k between them as a pairs team!
Great work from Paddy Connors for coming 3rd in the hilly, hot, multi terrain Wickham Half this month.
Well done to Harriet Chinnock for completing her 50th parkrun this month. She tried to go incognito and almost got away with it but someone squealed and I caught her.
SADLY, I CANT BE EVERYWHERE SO, IF YOU WANT AN EVENT INCLUDED IN THE NEWSLETTER, OR YOU HAVE A SPECIAL MILESTONE PLEASE SEND A BRIEF REPORT AND PHOTOS TO Marie.firstname.lastname@example.org OR POST THEM ON THE SPITFIRES FACEBOOK PAGE. I CAN’T PROMISE TO INCLUDE EVERYTHING BUT I WILL DO MY BEST.