You are never too old to run
Sadly this March brought the loss of an inspirational runner who proved age is no barrier to running success. In 2003 Canadian, Ed Whitlock, was the first septuagenarian to break the three hour marathon barrier, finishing the Toronto Waterfonrt Marathon in 2:59:10. The very next year at the same venue he beat his own time to finish in 2:54:49. He also set age group records at several other distances in the years that followed. Last October he finished the Toronto Marathon in 3:56:33, not a million miles from the PB set by a Spitfire close to my heart in Toronto the previous year. This beat the previous over 85 record by a stunning twenty eight minutes!
Ed didn’t think he was anything special. He called himself a plodder but he ran more than a hundred miles a week, a feat many younger runners would balk at. He didn’t hold with stretching, strength training, special diets or fancy kit. The shoes he ran that last marathon in were fifteen years old! If he got injured he simply stopped running until he was healed. Ed Whitlock was absolute proof that you are never too old to run. We could all learn something from him.
A birthday and a Larmer Tree
Most people would want to spend their fiftieth birthday sitting on a beach somewhere sipping champagne but not Meeje Brett. She thought running the Larmer Tree would be a great birthday treat. So, on 12 March, a huge team of Spitfires went along to keep her company and possibly make sure she didn’t lose any more marbles along the way. As birthday parties go, it was a distinctly hilly, muddy one with no champagne, although I’m told there was cake and cider at the end.
In actual fact the Larmer Tree is four races, a 10 mile, a half marathon, a twenty mile and a full marathon. Most Spitfires opted for the twenty miles although Edo Ćiro Aleksandarević decided twenty miles wasn’t quite enough and ran the full marathon.
The races were held at the Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal in Wiltshire. Created in 1880 by Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, they were the first private gardens opened to the public in the UK. The land was once a royal hunting ground and the Larmer Tree was an ancient Wych elm marking the boundary between Wiltshire and Dorset. Reputedly King John would meet his hunting party under it in the twelfth century. The tree survived until 1894 when an oak was planted in the remains of its decayed trunk. Whether anyone noticed it as they ran past is a mystery but, from the photos, it looks like running up and down hills across three counties on a damp day might have been fun.
CC6 Wilverley Inclosure
While everyone was having muddy fun and birthday cake at the Larmer Tree, six Spitfires were toughing out the final CC6 of the season at Wilverley in the New Forest. It was damp, slightly drizzly and filled with ponies. In fact, Kylie and I almost got trampled by a galloping herd as we crossed the field to find a good place to watch the end of the race.
Soon enough New Forest Ponies weren’t the only things galloping across the field. All six Spitfire runners crossed the finish line looking a great deal muddier than they had at the start but not quite as muddy as usual. Apparently this was down to a small stream on the course, which washed off the worst of the grime.
Now the last CC6 is over it’s time to look at the results. Seventeen teams took part in this interesting and challenging cross country series, judged not on time but on finish position. The Spitfire men’s team came thirteenth with a points score of 1850, while the ladies came fifteenth with 1185 points. As this was the first time Spitfires had taken part in the series, many were too busy with marathon training to attend and the courses were difficult and mostly unknown it wasn’t a bad first attempt at all. Well done to everyone who took part. I’m already looking forward to next year.
A little bit of history
Believe it or not, running wasn’t always as popular as it is today. Of course people have been running since the days when cave men had to hunt for food or run away from wild animals, but this was borne out of necessity not for pleasure. Until fairly recently the few people who did don a pair of ‘sneakers’ and go out for a run just for the fun of it got some pretty strange looks. No one understood what they were doing or why.
The term jogging was first used in the sixteenth century by swordsman who used running as a training technique. It never caught on with the masses though and remained something the upper classes did, usually on their large estates. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries boxers ran as part of their training and athletics became a professional sport, but it was still something just the elite few did.
Recreational running didn’t begin to catch on until the 1960’s. New Zealand athletics coach Arthur Lydiard was a believer in running for health. In 1961, despite claims that running was bad for you, even dangerous, he formed the first ever running club, the Auckland Jogger Club. A year later, American track and field coach Bill Bowerman, then in his fifties, visited New Zealand and met up with the club. When a club member twenty years his senior and the survivor of three heart attacks beat him soundly, he was more than impressed. He went back to America and spread the word. He even published a book, Jogging, in 1966. Bowerman went on to co-found Nike. The craze for recreational running had started and more than twenty five million Americans, including president, Jimmy Carter and actor, Clint Eastwood, took it up.
So now, when it’s wet and cold and you really don’t feel like going out for a run, you know who to blame!
Gill ran another of his brilliant agility training sessions at the Sports Centre on 15 March. Despite a damp cold evening with mist slowly rolling across the track a record number of Spitfires turned out to gain the benefit of his wisdom and have a little fun. The evening began with a few games to get everyone warmed up and then the serious business of training began.
Actually, serious is probably not the right word for what followed. The high knee runs, straight leg runs, skipping runs, squat turns and lunges produced much hilarity and looked more play than work. Next came some running execrcises with cones to help with turning and changes of direction. This part included running backwards which was, I’m told, a great deal harder than everyone made it look. Finally there were some balance exercises and a run around the, by now, foggy track.
Unfortunately, poor Lindsay took a tumble during the backwards running, proving it really was far harder than it looked. She managed to break her wrist in the process but gamely carried on to finish the session before being whisked off to hospital by Frankie. She deserves a medal for bravery at the very least. Hopefully she will be back running again soon.
The Eastleigh 10k has been dubbed the home of the PB because of its relatively flat course through the streets of Eastleigh. Sunday 19 March was its 33rd year and a huge number of Spitfires took part, probably hoping to smash their own personal best’s. To help them along the way a team of well trained, expert pacers had been laid on, including a handful of familiar Spitfire faces.
For several Spitfires it was their first race, or at least their first race with the club. Others had run it many times and many were hoping to break their own records and finish fast. An annoying head wind made things tougher than expected but the pacers did an amazing job of encouraging people to dig deep and knock those precious seconds off. With work going on to expand and improve the leisure centre, things were more cramped on the Fleming Park field than usual, making the finish fairly chaotic. Even so there were a lot of smiling Spitfire faces at the end and a crop of New PBs.
Hampton Court Half Marathon
Meanwhile six Spitfires were pounding the pavements, tow paths and grass at the Hampton Court Half Marathon. The race began in front of Henry VIII’s palace, a building with a rags to riches history. It began life as a humble store for grain owned by the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. It was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who built the first palace in 1515. It took him seven years and cost him a fortune. The cardinal had been a favourite of Henry VIII but, in 1529, the fickle king fell out with him and seized the palace for himself. A century later William III, planned to expand it into a palace to rival Versailles. Work began but the king lost interest when his wife, Queen Mary, died and the work was never completed.
From the driveway of the iconic palace the race followed the River Thames for the most part and ended in the beautiful Hampton Court Palace gardens. Apart from the lack of pacers to help achieve PB’s, and an annoying side wind between mile ten and eleven, it seems to have been a fantastic event and the Magnificent Six came home with some rather fancy bling.
Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events
- 2 April 9.45 Hundred Acres Half Marathon Wickham
- 2 April 14.00 Combe Gibbet to Overton 16 mile Cross Country race
- 19 April 19.00 RR10 Royal Victoria Country Park (This is the race we are organising but not taking part
- 22 April 10.00 Brutal Bordon 10k
- 23 April 9.00 ABP Southampton Marathon, Half Marathon & 10k
- 23 April Post Marathon/half/10k celebratory drinks.
- 29 April 11.00 Hurstbourne 5 Mile Multi-Terrain Race Hurstbourne Tarrant
- 29 April 19.00 Itchy Spits Quiz Night, Woolston Community Centre
- 30 April 10.00 10k fun run Micheldever
- 30 April 11.00 Fordingbridge Fire Station 10k
- 7 May 10.30 Alton Ten, Eggars School Alton 10 miles
- 7 May 10.00 Decathalon 5k Southampton Town Park
- 9 May 19.15 Absolute Running 1k Dash Series and 5k Summer Series race one, Stokes Bay Road
- 13 May 9.30 The Naomi House & Jacksplace Gauntlet Games 5k & 10k Matterley Bowl Estate
- 14 May 10.99 Leamington Lifeboat 10k
- 14 May 10.00 Barton Stacey 10k Fun Run
- 21 May 11.00 Hook 10 Miles & 10k Hook Community Centre
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
The March Spitfire of the Month is Frankie Horn. Most of you will know her as one of the fabulous run leaders who put in so much work planning out routes and making sure everyone has a happy and safe run on club nights. She also embodied the Spitfire Spirt recently when Lindsay broke her wrist at a training session, taking her to hospital and staying with her. Quite literally leaving no Spitfire behind. So now it’s time to find out a little more about what makes Frankie tick.
When did you take up running and why?
I started running a couple of years ago. I work in an office environment and am sat on my backside for most of the working day so I took up running to gain some level of fitness and to assist weight loss which is a constant struggle for me.
How did you first hear about Itchen Spitfires and what made you want to join?
I used to run with Lindsay Bowers a couple of times a week but, when my run buddy got laid up indefinitely following an operation, I got bored of running on my own. I know Dani Bain outside of club and she encouraged me to join the Spitfires. Thanks to Dani you are stuck with me haha !!
What qualities do you think you need to be a run leader?
I think you need to be supportive and encouraging without being too pushy. You need to be able to keep people safe and you need to be able to give people clear instructions.
What do you do when you’re not running?
I used to play badminton and go to sh’bam classes but now running has taken over my life I spend my spare time walking my springer spaniel Buddy and with my ever-expanding family. I currently have 6 grandsons!!
Do you have any running ambitions or goals?
My goal this year is to finish my first marathon (Southampton) in one piece. I’d also like to run a race abroad…possibly Amsterdam as I have heard it’s nice and flat.
What’s the best thing you’ve gained from running?
Apart from improving my fitness and believing in myself a bit more I can honestly say it’s the friendships I have formed.
What advice would you give to new runners?
Believe and achieve!! And invest in a decent pair of trainers you won’t regret it.
What was your most memorable running moment?
So far it was when I crossed the finish line at the Southampton Half Marathon last year. It gave me a real buzz and the support was amazing from both the Spitfires and the general public.
What is your favourite bit of running kit?
I would normally say it’s my Garmin Forerunner 35 but right now my foam roller is my best friend.
Marathon day is almost upon us, at least for everyone running the ABP Southampton Marathon. As a little final inspiration and motivation I’ve found a few tips and quotes from some well known marathon runners who are not actually Spitfires.
The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed. Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon Champion
A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental, that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow. It’s all in conquering the challenge. Mary R. Wittenberg, New York Road Runners Club president
There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going. Steve Jobs
If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal. Rob de Castella, winner 1983 World Marathon Championships
Thanks once again to Dave Keates for trawling through all the parkrun statistics searching for PB’s when he’d really rather have been out running. Well done too to all the Spitfires who kept him busy this month.
Darren Palmer 20.58
Gerry Robson 18.17
David Chalk 23.34
Tasha Ault 27.43
Theresa Hamer 23.39
Stephen Hoyland 32.0
Ian Hart 20.15
Garry james Nias 23.17
Scott Dawson 40.14
Jamie Foster 39:30
Elizabeth Smith 1:04:45
Lou Lou Pead 1:00:24
Gary James Nias 49:02
Andy Ward 46:32
Paddy Connors 37:46
Becky Ballard 58:52
Olivia Risk 1:09:42
Glen Medcalf 49:47
Ian Hart 42:38
Keith Harris 41:00
Perri Seymour 1:10:00
Tracey Penny 1:11:17
Trudge Green 1:11:16
Nick Myers 53:00
Darren Palmer 44:43
Ed Tavner 46:03
Sara Sherman 1:03:15
Lorna Banda 57:42
David Chalk 1:53:35
Andy Ward 1:50:53
Claire McCusker 1:34:56
Nick Myers 2:03:13
Sue Haig 2:36:44
Lately there have been a lot of very colourful running leggings appearing on Spitfire legs, mostly female legs of course. They brighten up a dull parkrun or a muddy race. So I thought I’d trawl through all my old photos and find a few to test your powers of observation. Can you tell which leggings belong to which Spitfires? I’m betting the ladies will be far better at this than the men!
For those still puzzling over the old photographs from last month, here are the answers.
Run and Talk
The last event of March was Run & Talk, organised by Mental Health Ambasador Abi and aimed at encouraging running and positive mental health. As always, there were mixed ability groups so everyone got the chance to run and chat with people they might not usually run with. There was also a walking group so non members and those injured or coming back from injury had a chance to join in with the fun.
The weather was kind and the talk part of the event began well before the run part, with everyone mingling and having a good old chinwag before they set off. The run leaders did a marvelous job of planning routes and making sure the pace suited the slowest in each group. It was great to see a few new faces along with some old faces who haven’t been able to run for a while and, of course, the chatting went on long after the running had finished.
If the warmer weather has you thinking about new kit but you don’t know how to order it, check out this link for details of what’s available, sizes and order forms. Usually it takes a week between ordering and delivery but Kit Fairy Michelle will let you know when it arrives.
Membership renewal online!
Membership renewals are due at the end of April but, this year, it’s a lot easier. Payments can now be made online without having to fill in new membership forms or disclaimers. Everyone should get a payment request email at the beginning of April with a handy link to make online payment. All payments must be made before the end of April or membership will lapse. If your email doesn’t arrive it’s worth checking your spam and junk mail folders. If it’s not there contact Gill. It may be that he doesn’t have the right email address for you.
There are three membership types;
£30 – Club membership INCLUDING UK Athletics Affiliation
£20 – Club membership NOT including UK Affiliation
£15 – Second claim membership – if you’re already a member of another club
Your renewal will be based on your membership for 2016/17. If you wish to change your membership type for 2017/18, please let Gill and Meeje know at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will then make the changes and send you a new email.
Making your payment via the link will update the club portal and complete your 2017/18 affiliation. If you have already paid in cash your membership status will be manually updated so there is no need to follow the link or pay again. NEW MEMBERS will still have to fill in membership forms and disclaimers but can also pay online once their details have been added to the club portal. If it’s all too techy for you or you have any concerns please EMAIL.
For those who enjoy a bit of local parkrun tourism, there’s a new Parkrun in town. Saturday 1 April will see the first ever Whiteley parkrun. The event will be held at Whiteley Meadows and is run on a mixture of tarmac paths and grass. Event Director Martin de Wied along with Run Directors Jack Goozee, Danielle Cranston and Dave Robbins will be in Costa Coffee at Whiteley Shopping Centre after each event and would love you to join them. Sounds like my kind of park run!