Newsletter May 2017



With two Bank Holidays, May is the month when the thoughts of some globetrotting Spitfires turn to getting away for a break. While some people opt for lounging on a beach, by the pool or on the deck of a cruise ship, others turn their holidays into running breaks, combining travel with the chance to run in far off, exotic places. This means those iconic Spitfire shirts can be spotted thousands of miles from the usual Southampton streets.

Our own six thousand mile jaunt to Vancouver made me wonder just how many places the Spitfire shirt had been? If you have a photograph of you wearing the shirt somewhere out of the ordinary I’d be interested to see it. Send it to me at and later in the year I’ll share the results. There are no prizes but, if you haven’t been on holiday yet, don’t forget to pack your shirt and take a photo.

Stoney Cross, the first RR10 of 2017 for the Spitfires

The first RR10, at least for Spitfires to run, was on 3 May at Stoney Cross, near the disused World War II airfield used by both the RAF and the USAAF as a combat bomber and fighter airfield. This was obviously a fitting place for Spitfires and, despite the prospect of a hill at the end there was a massive turnout. For the first time there were team captains, Adam Ruddy and Tash Avery, who both did a wonderful job of keeping everyone informed beforehand with vital things like directions to the venue and also compiled all the stats at the end. Another first was an organised team warmup, which hopefully helped prevent any injuries and had everyone raring to go.

Apparently it was a chilly and windy evening but, on the plus side, the rain held off until the end, which is always a bonus. The 4.7 mile course had a lot of downhill stretches and, of course, a lot of uphill just to even things up.

As always, it was a tough race but there were some brilliant sprint finishes and the usual unwavering Spitfire support at the end. I just wish I’d been able to be there to see it and help with the cheering. Thanks to everyone who took photos in my absence.

A flash of yellow at Decathalon

One race I’m glad I didn’t have to take photos of was the Decathlon 5k on 7 May. Luckily I was busy cheering the runners at the Vancouver Marathon and getting five seconds of fame of Canadian TV so I didn’t have the problem of trying to pick out Spitfires amongst all the bright yellow t-shirts. It must have been a real headache for everyone who did take photos.

The event was run by French sports retailer Decathlon and was a free event, open to all Decathlon cand holders. Those eye popping t-shirts were also free to everyone who took part. The race was held on Southampton Common so the course was fairly familiar to regular parkrunners. Sunglasses were optional but were probably a good idea. A sizeable team of dazzling Spitfires took part and everyone got a medal and a goodie bag at the end.

Lymington RNLI Lifeboat 10k

The heat was on for the Lymington Lifeboat 10k on 14 May. The race, now in its sixteenth year, is a fundraising event for the RNLI and Lymington Lifeboat Station. The station was opened in May 1965 and covers the western Solent. The crew do sterling work in all weathers keeping everyone safe on the sea and have been presented with six awards for gallantry. The event was sponsored by Lymington Yacht Haven’s small boat facility Haven Quay and the weather was scorching.

It may not have made for the best of running conditions but it did at least give all the Spitfires taking part a chance to work on their tans while they ran. Hopefully everyone remembered to slap on the suncream. The course, following Country lanes and the coastal path along the Solent sea wall made for some fabulous views over the Isle of Wight. It was also mostly flat, which was  just as well in the heat. The challenging coastal breeze was probably a bonus. Everyone who took part got a medal, a chocolate bar and a much needed bottle of water.

Hydration and the sports drink controversy

As summer approaches and the temperature begins to soar all runners know hydration is vital. Oddly, this wasn’t always the case. Back in 1909, James E Sullivan, head of the US Amateur Athletic Union, advocated a nil by mouth approach to races, even marathons, believing eating and drinking during an event was not beneficial. More than a century later the importance of hydration is universally accepted and there are so many specialist sports drinks on the market it can be hard to know which to choose.

The earliest ancestor of the modern sports drink appeared in 1927. It was devised by William Owen, a chemist but it wasn’t aimed at athletes. In fact it was created to provide energy and fluids for sick people. It was called Glucozade, later shortened to Lucozade, and was basically flavoured sugar water. The first drink marketed as a sports drink was Gatorade, created in 1967 by physician Robert Cade to stop the Florida University football players flaking out in the summer heat. Unlike the original Lucozade, which just contained sugar, Gatorade also contained salt.

Since those early days sports drinks have become a multi million pound industry. Whether they are better than a plain old bottle of water though, is subject to some controversy. Many experts believe there is no need for such supplements for anyone exercising for less than 90 minutes. In fact some believe they could actually be counter productive. While salt may help with recovery in those exercising for several hours, after shorter runs, it may lead to gastrointestinal problems and disrupt the body’s fluid balance. It can even cause salt induced cramps.

As for the sugar, most sports drinks contain between 4 and 5 heaped teaspoons of sugar per bottle! This may help performance and endurance in elite athletes but, for mere mortals, it may just result in weight gain and rotten teeth. There is no doubt that water is important for runners. Whether it needs to have salt and sugar in it, come in a fancy bottle and make a dent in your wallet, only you can decide.

Another wet Wilverley RR10

Wilverley Inclosure was the venue for the RR10 on 17 May. Thanks to a week of rain the race was a rather wet affair. The bad weather also meant less runners than usual but 18 male and 13 female Spitfires turned up to run. Luckily the rain did eventually stop just before the race began but the course was somewhere between muddy and waterlogged.

As if rain, mud and wet conditions weren’t enough to contend with, Wilverley Inclosure is also reputed to have a ghost. By the side of the old Burley to Lymington road close to the intersection with the A35 stands the stump of an old oak tree surrounded by a wooden fence. This is all that remains of the Wilverley Oak, otherwise known as The Naked Man. The tree was once used to hang smugglers and highwaymen and the area is reputedly haunted by the ghost of an eighteenth century highwayman who met his end in its branches.

Despite the ghost and the mud there were some exciting sprint finishes to keep the spectators amused, along with a fair bit of jostling for final positions. For the men, team A took 6th place, team B took 19th place, and team C came in 28th place. The ladies team A finished 11th, team B came 21st, team C were 29th and team D were 39th. As always both Spitfire runners and spectators stayed to cheer to the bitter end in true Spitfire spirit. Unfortunately the rain meant the bugs were out in force so those who hadn’t remembered the bug spray found themselves covered in bites for their trouble.

Sunshine, sea air and a 10k at Bognor Regis

On a sunny Sunday the obvious thing to do is head for the beach. While many Spitfires may have gone down to Weston Shore, a small team took themselves down to Bognor, where King George V famously recovered from lung surgery in 1929. The king was not overly fond of the place. In fact, when he was asked to  bestow the title Regis, meaning ‘of the king,’ to it, he supposedly replied, “Oh, bugger Bognor.” Even so, it now proudly proclaims itself Bognor Regis but is probably best known as home to Butlins holiday camp.

This race has been staged every year since 1995 and, this year, there were 1,750 runners taking part, a ten percent increase on 2016. Best of all, considering the sweltering weather, it was a mostly flat course with the final stretch running along the sea front. Anyone looking for 10k PB’s might want to sign up for next year as there seem to have been quite a few despite the heat.

Photos thanks to Tyronne & Lindsay Bowers

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. More can be found by searching on the Runners World website.

Interview with a Spitfire 

This month’s Spitfire of the month is the wonderful Sarah Min. You may recognise her from all the times she’s volunteered at parkrun or She may have encouraged you with a kind word or a hug just when you needed it.

She may be small but she has a big heart and a beaming smile. Now it’s time to find out what makes her tick.



When did you take up running and why?

I took up running three years ago. Our eldest daughter Lauren who is now a Spitfire encouraged me to get out there. At first I would go out really early so as not to be seen and walk a lamp post and then run one before ever attempting to run/walk a Parkrun. On a personal level our youngest daughter suffers and battles daily with her own mental health. Often resulting in hospital admissions or her being sectioned. Each day brings a new challenge and the unknown. Running for me has not only improved my physical health but I’ve developed a more positive mental attitude. I also work full time supporting children and families in need of emotional and welfare support. It’s a great stress buster especially on only three hours sleep on some occasions.

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

I met Rachel through Southampton Parkrun she inspired me then and she continues to inspire me now. She took me under her wing. One of the best decisions I ever made was to join the couch to 5k with The Spitfires. Being driven every week to believe in myself. The encouragement and enthusiasm of all the run leaders got me to that goal and several parkrun PB’s.

What advice would you give to new runners?

I am very fortunate to of undergone ACT therapy as a parent/carer. To accept what you can’t change, commit to it and move forward. Believe in yourself. Until you spread your wings you’ll never know how far you can fly.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this! 🙌

You often volunteer at parkrun. What is the best thing about being a parkrun volunteer?

I urge each and everyone of you, if you haven’t volunteered at a Parkrun. DO IT!  Parkrun for me is a way of life. When, even after major surgery and only a week out of hospital, I couldn’t miss it so I got driven there. My best Volunteer to date is when I could barely walk and I rocked up with my deckchair to barcode scan! You see Parkrun from a totally different perspective, how each part of the jigsaw comes together each week. Without the volunteer heroes it simply wouldn’t happen and we couldn’t run.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

I have built up from 5k to 10k and two half marathons. I have never run a marathon, maybe one day? My goal would be to do something outside my comfort zone for mental health charities and break the stigma down for such deserving individuals who all have a story to tell.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

Lordswood. I love nature and running in the woods,  just open space and wildlife. From the feather is a close second.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

To grant every terminally ill child their last wish.

The best marshalls on the south coast!

After a job very well done at Netley at the first RR10 the Itchen Spitfires have gained a bit of a reputation for being great at marshalling events so it was no surprise SAC asked for our help at the Run in the Park, Netley 10k on 21 May. When Lee put the word out on Facebook he was immediately inundated with volunteers. In fact he had so many offers he couldn’t accept them all. The chosen few were Darren Palmer, Sue Haig, Becky Ballard, Kerry Murray, Gareth Evans, Lindy and Perri Seymour, Lorna Banda, Amanda Harris, Rose-Marie Mackay, Tina Street, Paul and Heather Leeming, Beverley Lawrence and Tori Collinson.

By all accounts they did a wonderful job. Tina was captured going  beyond the call of  duty with a little gardening to keep the course clear and Tori also deserves a special mention.  She went  to the assistance of a runner who was having breathing problems and kept her calm until the medics arrived. Well done Tori! The only downside to the event was that no one thought to take a team marshal photo!

May Run and Talk

The evening of 25 May was very muggy, not the best of conditions for running, even with sunscreen slapped on and plenty of water to hydrate. The heat didn’t deter a wonderful crowd of Spitfires from taking part in the May Run and Talk event though.As usual each group was mixed ability and led by a run leader at the pace of the slowest runner. There was also the usual walking group for those who weren’t feeling up to a run or were injured. If you haven’t managed to make it along to one of these sessions yet you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Check out what other people have to say about them.

Thanks for a great run and talk session tonite guys, it was nice to chat to some new faces and have a bit of a laugh.

My heart sank when I knew I wouldn’t be running with my usual running buddys, but I have to say it was one of the funniest runs I have been on with conversation nothing to do with running.

Tonight’s was especially good, people don’t know what they are missing out on!

They are so beneficial. Got to meet some lovely new faces, pleasant chat and it gave me the opportunity to forget about the rubbish day I had at work. Looking forward the next one.

Really good to get out of my comfort zone tonight and meet new people also to chat to people I’ve never spoken to.

May PB’s 

imageYet again there were lots of PB’s for Dave Keates to keep track of in May.  Great work to everyone who made it onto the list. Don’t forget, if you a achieve a PB in June, other than at the local parkruns, you need to message Dave if you want your name on the newsletter PB list.


Claire Potenziani 9.01
Jamie Foster 5.15
Ian Howard 5.12


Thomas Wharton 19.37
Adam Ruddy 20.47
Becky Diggle 24.25
Nicolas Myers 24.43
Keith Harris 19.41
Abigail Hamilton 24.26
Robert Gurman 24.34
Lauren Clarke 32.43
Keith Das 23.59
Jamie Foster 18.39
Emma Hart 21.53
Tom Jesson 22.57
Sam Cox 24.01
Louise Pead 29
Charley Lloyd 29.01
Lisa Milton 27.45
Nicola Robinson 26.02
Lauren Lanham 30.00
Trudie Green 35.07
Claire Potenziani 29.27


Abigail Hamilton 49.13
Elizabeth Smith 1:02:48
Amanda Chalk 1:02:17
Lindsay Bowers 1:11:24
Chris Horn 53.48
David Chalk 49.45
Jamie Foster 39.14
Lisa Milton 58.28
Jan Bray 1:10:40
Nick Myers 52.48
Marcus Hewitt 56.31

Half Marathon

Helen Arwen Bonaer 2:00:08
Louise Pead 2:33:14
Dani Bain 1:57:20
Maria Bowers 2:14:35

48 miles
Scott Dawson (longest distance)

How much do you know about hydration? 

Continuing with the hyration theme, who much do you really know about water?

How many of the six marathon medals did you identify last month? If you’re still puzzling, here are the answers.

Rock & roll Liverpool  

For lovers of music and bling there was a lot on offer in Liverpool over the Bank Holiday weekend and several Spitfires just couldn’t resist. On Saturday there was a 5k to run then, on Sunday, a marathon, half marathon and a mile race. Not only that but, in keeping with Liverpool’s musical heritage, there were live bands playing along the race course to entertain and motivate runners and a finish line music festival for those who could stay awake after all that running.

As if the possibility of three medals over one weekend wasn’t enough anyone who ran the 5k on Saturday and another race on Sunday got an extra medal, the Remix Challenge Medal. Some might say four medals from one event is a little excessive but it didn’t stop there. Anyone who’d taken part in the event last year got an extra medal so some Spitfires came home with FIVE!  To round things off nicely, there was a beer token included with the race pack so everyone could head off to the beer garden for a free pint before enjoying the Concert!

Dorchester hot and hilly for the marathon and a half

While everyone was chasing the bling in Liverpool another team of Spitfires were in Dorchester on the Jurassic Coast, some for the Dorchester Marathon and others for the Casterbridge Half Marathon. As both races were on the same day and location there was only one medal per person on offer but they were pretty impressive looking medals.

Dorchester is the county town of Dorset and  this was the first time the town had hosted a marathon. Both races raised funds for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and were run on closed roads through picturesque and historic villages  and the beautiful Dorset countryside. Unfortunately, it was rather hilly and very hot which tested the runners resolve, especially those running the full marathon.

After all the running was over there was a post race party including a bar selling local ales and cider and free entertainment. There was also the chance to camp in the race village at Cokers Frome Farm. Whether anyone’s legs were up to exploring the Jurassic coast is another matter.

Isle of Wight Challenge

There was certainly a lot going on over the bank holiday weekend. Along with the Spitfires running in Liverpool and Dorchester a small group joined Scott Dawson for his attempt to cycle and run around the Isle of Wight. This would complete a triple whammy after his recent swim around the Island and make him the only person to circumnavigate the Island by swimming, cycling, running and sailing it! He was also raising funds for Marine Conservation Society.

The cycling went to plan but, although he had some company from Spitfires for parts of the route and completed 48 Miles, the longest distance he has ever run, he didn’t quite manage the whole island. Apparently running around the Isle of Wight the day after cycling around it is “quite difficult.” You don’t say! Maybe next time…



Thursday running groups

 Based on feedback from the Run leaders the groups for Thursdays are now based on your fastest 5k time unless you have been injured or unable to run for some time. Groups are as follows.

Group Time Run leaders
A 32+ Rachel Amelia
B 30-31 Paul Rose-Marie Tasha
C 28-29 Dani Russ Tori
D 26-27 Meeje Francesca Abigail
E 25-26 Diane Julie Christopher
F 24-25 Paul Dave
G 22-23 Chris Tash Dave
H Others John Gilliam Tash

Hot weather running

With the temperatures soaring over the next few weeks don’t forget the three summer essentials when you go out for a run, water, sun cream and bug spray. Sunglasses might also be a good plan. You know it makes sense!

And finally…

James Hughes got a wonderful send off on 11 May for his last run with the club. I’m sure he will miss everyone but he probably won’t miss those Kenyan Hills on the Itchen Bridge.




Marvellous mini parkrun machine Sarah Min turned her 100th parkrun into a selfie fest this month. Well done Sarah. Can’t wait to see what she does when she hits the 250 milestone.



#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne