Newsletter October 2016


London Marathon fever

imageWith 50,000 runners, the London Marathon  is one of the biggest running events of the year and one of the top six international marathons. Obviously, for runners who are fond of long distances, this is a real bucket list race but places are hard to come by for ordinary mortals. Unless you are an elite athlete, or are running for a charity, the best chance of getting a place is to enter the ballot. With 253,930 people entering the 2017 ballot, the chances of getting a place are similar to winning the lottery.

This month the 2017 results were announced, a lucky few would be getting a Congratulations Magazine through the post. Most would get a Commiserations Magazine or an email telling them they’d been unsuccessful. Postmen all over Southampton were probably wondering why they were suddenly so popular as waiting Spitfires hung around their letterboxes waiting to find out if they’d been lucky. A handful of Spitfires did win a place and  all those who entered the ballot but weren’t successful will get a second chance when the ballot for two club places is drawn at the End of year Social. To enter the draw simply email with a copy of your rejection email or a photo of your magazine as proof of your unsuccessful entry.

CC6 Whiteley Pastures


The CC6 series began last month at Fleming Park but no Spitfires ran because it was their turn to marshal. The  second race, on 2 October at Whiteley Pastures, was the first ever CC6   Spitfires were able to run in. Sadly, the event clashed with the Bournemouth Marathon, Half Marathon and Pieces of Eight in Portsmouth, so there weren’t quite as many members running as there otherwise would have been. It was one of those days when I wished I could be in three places at once. Whiteley was one of the more cramped venues for the RR10 and the course for the CC6 was similar, so less runners was a definite advantage, even if it made team photos impossible.

The area is a remnant of ancient woodland, once part of the Forest of Bere, and is criss crossed with a mass of brooks and streams.  Back in July it had been one of the muddier RR10 courses with warnings to wear trail shoes only. Heavy rain the previous day didn’t make it any less muddy for the CC6. Despite the mud, and a tumble that left John dirty and bleeding,  everyone did a brilliant job of getting round the course and there were a lot of smiling faces crossing the line. In fact, it looked like everyone had a wonderful time in all of the day’s races.


Run and Talk


October 10 was World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Ambasadors Abigail and Vicki did a great job of organising a Run and Talk event, aimed at breaking down stigma and raising awareness. The event replaced the normal Thursday session on 13 October and began with the presentation of a cheque for £400 to the Friends of the Millennium Garden. The money, donated from club funds, will go towards new lighting in the garden and a plaque.


The usual groups were mixed up, with everyone running four miles at the pace of the slowest runner. This gave ample chance for mingling and chatting. There was even a walking group for those were injured or who wanted to bring non running family members along. The event was a resounding success, with several newcomers joining in to get a taste of what the club is about and lots of chat amongst people who wouldn’t normally run together.


Bizarre running records


Breaking a world record is something most of us can only dream about but there are a few runners who have made it into the record books in the strangest of ways.

When Xu Zhenjun of China ran the 2004 Bejing Marathon he finished in 3:43:39, a very respectable time for a 26.2 mile run. The thing is he ran the whole thing facing backwards, which, amongst other things, must have posed a few problems in the seeing where he was going stakes. Perhaps he had wing mirrors? However he managed it, it secured him a place in the record books.

John-Paul De Lacy earned himself a world record in the 2010 London Marathon for the “Tallest Costume Worn While Running a Marathon” by running the distance dressed in a 7.4 metre (23 foot I inches in old money) giraffe costume. He finished the race in a sedate 5:55, mostly because he had great difficulty getting through the tunnels on the course, never mind the finish chute.

In 2012 Betty Shurin took multitasking to a whole new level by running the Hollywood Half Marathon whilst simultaneously hula hooping the entire course. She managed this amazing feat without once dropping or touching the hoop and finished in 3:03:48. Her hip swivelling efforts won her the record for fastest half marathon hula hooping and the nick name Betty Hoops.

These are by no means the only strange running records but, when it comes to achieving world records, it would seem imagination is almost as important as speed.

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 Emma Wilson, who I’m sure many of you will know from the RR10’s where she collected tickets until baby Ellie decided to make an appearance. She’s also done an admirable job of getting back to running after having a baby and has recently organised Pilates classes for Spitfires who want to strengthen their cores. She walks pretty fast too!  Now it’s time to find out a little more about her…


When did you take up running and why?

I took up running in 2005 because I was very unfit and was overweight. I started running with my friend and couldn’t even run to the end of the road.

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

I first heard about Itchen Spitfires through my friend Daniel. I’d tried a few different running clubs but, for one reason or another, never stuck at them long. Not the case with the spitfires. Best running club by far.

How difficult has it been to get back to running after having a baby?

It’s been so hard getting back to running after having Ellie. Partly due to my sciatica during pregnancy I think but also because I’m not the most patient person in the world and want to be back to the standard I was. It’s coming back slowly and Mike and my family are very supportive so I can get out for a few runs a week. I wish I was better at leaving the watch at home and just running.

Do you have any tips for other new mums, or runners coming back from injury to help them get back to fitness?

New mums – don’t run too soon. I tried to run way too soon and I’m sure I’d be feeling better now if I just listened to my body a bit more. I’m getting better at that. If you have an injury, get professional help and again try to listen to what your body is telling you.

What was your most memorable running moment?

I think my most memorable running moment is doing my running challenge last September and then, after months of disappointment and being told to curb my exercise, finding out I was pregnant. I’d run more in September than any other month so I’m sure it helped.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

My running goals are to complete a marathon in under 4 hours. I’ve managed 4.05, so very close, and I want to complete an iron-man.

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

Whilst running the paras 10, just wading through a river and two army men with guns jumped out of the bush, fired them in the air and screamed ‘run, run!!’ It was funny looking back but I wasn’t expecting it at the time.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

Anywhere by the sea and in the sunshine. It just makes me feel great.

Parkrun Volunteers

img_9246Almost everyone who runs will have been to a parkrun at one time or another. Most runners are regulars at their local venue but many may not know about the work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all possible. Long before most people arrive a team of volunteers will be there, come rain or shine, setting up signs, ropes and cones, gathering all the tokens, scanners and timers and generally organising everything. There are marshals, tail runners, token collectors, scanners, timers, funnel managers and, of course, the Run Directors making sure everything runs smoothly. After the race everything has to be taken down again and there are tokens to be sorted, data to be downloaded plus a fair bit of coffee to be consumed along the way.

If it wasn’t for the  wonderful people who give up their time on a Saturday morning to volunteer, there would be no parkrun and, this month, one Spitfire reached a volunteering milestone. On a chilly Saturday morning Diane Abraham volunteered for the twenty fifth time and earned herself a very fetching purple 25 Volunteer t-shirt. If you’d like one too you can find details about volunteer places and the volunteer rosta on your local parkrun website.

The Great South Run


The Great South Run is one of the biggest events of the season so it’s hard to believe it has only been going since 1990.  Believe it or not, the ten mile race, brainchild of Brendan Foster, was first held in Southampton but, after the first race, was moved down the road to Portsmouth. What a pity it didn’t stay in Southampton, it would have been so much easier to get to on a damp, cold Sunday morning. Even so, the Spitfires turned out in droves to either run or cheer on 23 October.

The huge club attendance may have had something to do with pink bunnies, or more to the point, the pink bunny ears and tails the pacers had to wear along with the flags on their backs. The ladies looked wonderful in their costumes but, let’s face it, the chance to see three very well known Spitfire men dressed as Duracell Bunnies was too good to miss.

There was a fantastic atmosphere as the runners set off and no shortage of people cheering around the course. For once, the wind was in the right direction on the final leg along Southsea Seafront and pushed from behind to help those tired legs across the finish line. In case you were wondering, all the bunnies made it back in one piece, although I think a few sets of ears got lost along the way.


October PB’s


A great big pat on the back to everyone who ran a new PB this month. For some strange reason there seem to be an awful lot of 10 mile PB’s. Below is the roll of honour collated by Dave Keates. Well done everyone!




Alana Nairn 32.23
Lisa Williamson 28.38
Mitchell Gerrard 19.35
Gary James Nias 24.36
Chris Harney 25.13
Caroline Johns 30.28
Lindsay Bowers 32.32
Janine Catherine Clarke 24.39
Sharon Stewart 26.59
Cameron Sommerville-Hewitt 21.24
Lucy Ashton 25.23
Jackie de Lisle 34.55


Jamie Foster 42.3

10 mile

Jamie Foster 1.08.36
Daniel Baker 1.02.06
Tori Collinson 1.35.36
Francesca Horn 1.28.39
Scott Dawson 1.09.41
Lindsay Bowers 1.50.35
Maria Bowers 1.39.58
Rob Jesson 1.13.32
Clare Jesson 1.33.25
Becky Diggle 1.33.23
Lou Lou Pead 1.46.33
Vicky Waters 1.51.35
Paula Lovell 1.28.34
Lucy Ashton 1.39.26
Andy Herman 1.00.47
Ian Hart 1.10.34
Andy Ward 1.18.30
Richard Diggle 1.13.32
Leah Tavner 1.24.21
Barry Chaplain Fisher 1.35.24
Beth Farrow 1.19.24

Half Marathon

Daniel Baker 1.21.57
Rob Jesson 1.38.41
Andy Herman 1.22.22
Abigail Hamilton 1.56.41
Beth Farrow 1.46.54


Diane Abraham 3.52.07
Meeje Brett 4.59.10
Dani Bain 4.59.11

Where am I?

This month I’m testing your powers of observation with four photos of places you will have almost certainly run past. Can you work out where they all are?


How many watches did you match with Spitfires last month? Here are the answers.










imageRunning safely

Part of a Run Leader’s job is to make sure everyone in the group stays safe when out on club runs. Please can everyone remember to pay attention to the instructions they give and, in particular, not run ahead of them, run on the road or cross roads in an unsafe way. This is especially important when there are junior members in the group. If you find the group you are running with is too slow, perhaps it’s time to move up to a faster one.

Running in the dark

WIth the early mornings and evenings getting darker it’s important not only to be seen but to see obstacles and potholes when you’re out running in poor light conditions. A head torch is a handy way to do this and mIght avoid a nasty crash or fall that could end up in an injury. Obviously it’s time to get the high vis gear out now. You’d be surprised just how invisible you are to car drivers without it.

Gosport Half Marathon

The Gosport Half Marathon is the last event in the championship and places are going fast. If you haven’t already booked yours it’s time to get your skates on!

Christmas props

If anyone has any ‘selfie props’ going spare, things like hats, noses, wigs or masks, Meeje is getting together a dressing up box for the Spitfire Social in November. Christmassy things would be great but nothing too risqué as it’s a family event. If you have anything you don’t mind lending please bring it to a club night. Don’t forget to put on a sticker with your name on it though so she can get it back to you afterwards.

And finally… 

img_9780Sharon Stewart ran her 50th parkrun on Saturday 29 October and earned herself a lovely red t-shirt. Well done Sharon!







imageWe also say a sad goodbye to Vicki Woodell-Hall, one of our wonderful Mental Health Ambassadors, who is off to Cornwal. I’m sure she will have a wonderful time with all those sandy beaches to run along and, hopefully, she’ll come back for a visit now and again.



#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne