Newsletter September 2016


Be Safe, Be Seen!

imageThe days are getting shorter with darker mornings and evenings. Sadly, the lower light levels go hand in hand with an increase in the number accidents involving pedestrians, including runners. According to ROSPA this amounts to over a hundred deaths every year! There is a great deal you can do to avoid becoming one of those statistics. First and most obvious is being seen. It’s time to dig out the high visability gear for those early morning or evening runs. If you don’t have any, now is the time to go shopping. There are a host of products available, high vis jackets, reflective laces, armbands and even little clip on lights that flash.

Other things you can do to keep safe are taking advantage of areas with good street lighting, running against the flow of traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles even if they don’t see you, and ditching the headphones so your ears can warn you of approaching vehicles. If you normally run alone you might want to think about finding a running buddy, more runners means more visibility. In case the worst does happen, or you stumble across someone who’s been involved in an accident,  it’s also wise to carry some form of ID, including any medical information that might be useful and, of course, a phone. Above all, be seen and be safe out there.

Scott Dawson conquers the Isle of Wight swim

Photo by Ian Holtedhal-Finlay

There was never any doubt that Spitfires are a motivated bunch but, at the end of August, one member pushed endurance to the limit. His swim of 60 miles (96.6km to those of you who work in modern distances) anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight certainly added a new meaning to going the extra mile. The epic swim took just over 26 hours during which Scott had boiled eggs, beetroot brownies and chocolate passed to him via a fishing net. His efforts raised money for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Meningitis Now. Scott is now one of only five people to ever have completed this amazing feat.

Magic Mile


The final Magic Mile in the series took place on 6 September. The evening event on Southampton Common was also a Club Championship event so those Spitfire shirts were very much in evidence. In fact, in wave one, 20 of the 43 runners were Spitfires and, in wave two, 9 of 24. That means club members made up almost half of those taking part! What a fantastic turnout.

Wave 1
Wave 2
Wave 2

A few surprising facts about running kit

imageWhile blue is my favourite colour for running kit, especially if it happens to have a yellow and red stripe, apparently red is the colour to wear if you want to win a race. Statistics show that athletes wearing red are more likely to win events than those wearing any other colour. Why this should be is a mystery but now might be a good time to buy a red hat!

Unsurprisingly, many of the technical fabrics used in running gear were first developed by manufacturers of women’s underwear. Obviously the stretchy, supportive, soft and well fitting nature of female lingerie works well as sports kit. When it comes to bras, a recent survey conducted by Brooks Running Company and Wakefield Research revealed that 47% of runners prefer the racer back style over every other kind. The second favourite, with 39%, was the cross back variety. Presumably, we’re talking about female runners here.

The same survey uncovered some interesting facts about what ladies wear under their running shorts too. In Germany 72% of female runners wear Bridget Jones style granny pants while, on the North American continent, pants are not deemed to be necessary at all. The survey discovered that 11% of Canadian and 9% of American women prefer to go commando when they run. Given how cold it gets in Canada in winter that is quite a surprising fact.

Spitfire Selfie Challenge


If ever there was a day when I wished I was a runner it was Sunday 11 September. The Spitfire Selfie Challange looked like a whole lot of fun with seven teams of runners dashing about to selfie spots all over the city trying to win points. As different venues earned different amounts of points, planning was key to this fun challenge. Some spots were closer to the start and to each other but earned lower points while others meant a long run and big points. Tactics varied with some choosing quality and others quantity when it came to point gathering. As an added bonus Gill was being chauffeured around the city to each of the selfie spots and, having him in your selfie, earned bonus points.

At the end of two hours it was time for a team of volunteers to count the selfies and total up the points.  According to Lee’s statistics a total of 74 selfies were taken throughout the afternoon, the average number of checkpoints visited by each team was 10 and only one team visited the Aegis Bowl, the most distant venue, earning a whopping 100 points. Gill chalked up the greatest distance though with an almost sixty mile drive around Southampton, appearing in 5 team selfies.

Pink team with their prize
Pink team with their prize

The final results were:
255 points – Blue Team
390 points – White Team
428 points – Yellow Team
445 points – Red Team
505 points – Green Team
520 points – Orange Team
531 points – Pink Team

What a brilliant idea and a fantastic job done by Lee Donnarumma in planning and organising everything.


A hair raising experience for Sam

imageLong, flowing tresses have been Sam Grant’s trademark for as long as I can remember. It certainly made him easy to spot at parkruns and events but, for some time, there has been talk of all that hair slowing him down. On 11 September he finally said goodbye to the long haired look, raising money for Southampton Hospital Charity by asking people to sponsor him to shave his head. There was one proviso, there would be no clippers to hair action unless he raised £200. Obviously the Spitfires wanted to see what Sam looked like without hair because, in super quick time, the target was met and surpassed. In the end he raised more than £400, not bad just for having a hair cut.

Will Sam be like Samson and lose all his power along with his hair, or was that luxuriant mane holding him back? My bet is he’ll shave a few seconds off that PB along with those locks. With colder weather coming though, he might want to think about getting a hat.

Photo thanks to Rachel Grant

Upcoming events 


September was filled with events of all kinds with teams of Spitfires and intrepid individuals travelling the country and the world to take part. It looks like a great time was had by all so why not sign up for one of the events coming up over the next few months and join the fun?

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 

imageThe winner of this month’s Spitfire of the Month is Tori Collinson. Her smiling face is a regular feature at Southampton parkrun, whether she’s volunteering or hitting yet another PB, and she was both runner and cheerer at the recent RR10’s. When she’s not smashing those PB’s she’s quietly encouraging her fellow Spitfires to achieve their goals. So now it’s time to get to know a little more about her.

When did you take up running and why?

I took up running two years ago after watching The Great South Run on tv and being really jealous  of these people running because they all looked like they were having so much fun. It took me a couple of months to get the courage up to start trying to run and then join a running group, but I did and I ran the Great South Run that next year.

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

A lot of the people I ran with at sweatshop had left to join the Spitfires, so I heard about them through that and was interested in joining but I was too nervous to go to a session because I didn’t really think I was good enough to join a ‘running club’. Then, about a year ago, I met Gerry Robson at a parkrun. He was so lovely and freindly, he convinced me to come and give it a try and it was the best choice I’ve made.

What advice would you give to the new beginners group to help them with the C25K?

Don’t compare yourself to others and celebrate every achievement, whether thats the first time you run 5 minutes without stopping or finishing a session when you really want to quit. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it!

What was your most memorable running moment?

The first RR10 I ran at Stoney Cross this year. I was completely out of my comfort zone. I’m not a fan of cross country and the course was so hard I very nearly burst into tears running up the final hill. But the support from cheering Spitfires at the end was incredible, you could hear them from a couple hundred metres away! Without them and my running buddy Teresa, I never would have got around that course. But the buzz after doing something you didn’t think you could is awesome.

Do you have any running ambitions or goals?

I have signed up for my first marathon next year. If I can finish that, preferably without injury, I will be well happy!

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

I don’t have a good strangest thing story yet. I did see a camel once though, and a man in the bushes but the less said about that, the better.

What do you do when you’re not running?

Spend time with my husband, watching movies or playing video games.

If you could go for a run with anyone (alive, dead, real life or fictional character) who would it be and why?

My husband, Bruce Lee, or Rocky Balboa. All awesome humans who keep going when the going gets tough and inspire you to do more than you think you are capable of. Also I think I could beat Rocky up those stairs.

Hanging around at Fleming Park for the CC6


The first race of the CC6 series took place on 18 September at Fleming Park. This was a race with no Spitfires, at least no running ones, but it didn’t mean everyone was at home in bed having a Sunday lie in. In fact it was the Spitfires turn to Marshall and familiar faces were out in force standing about at strategic points along the course.

It looked like an interesting course on the trails behind Fleming Park Leisure Centre, with pretty woodland scenery and a few tough hills to test the runner’s resolve. Next month normal service will be resumed with running Spitfires at Whiteley.


September PB’s


Well done to everyone who smashed their PB’s this month, whether it be at parkrun, at an event, or just out on a run alone. Great work!




Mitchell Gerrard 19.40
Victoria Collinson 25.28
Paul Leeming 28.06
Lucy Ashton 25.55
Louise Pead 31.08
Perri Seymour 33.00
Glen Medcalf 24.48
Kali Banda 19.55
Shaun Holloway 21.22
Leah Tavner 23.06
Abigail Hamilton 24.49
Chris Harney 26.25
Becky Ballard 27.28
Sharon Stewart 27.49
Jane Newbury 38.18
Beth Farrow 22.01
Sam Brownsea 21.23
Jamie Foster 19.36
Trudie Young 29.32
Ben Young 20.20

Magic Mile

Emma Landick 7.55
Jamie Foster 5.24
Lucy Anderson 6.54
Lulu Ashton 7.26

5 Miles

Emma Landick 49.05
Teresa Robson 44.48 5
Robert Gurman 39.51
Mitchell Robson 49.27
Darren Palmer 39.38


Jamie Foster 42.52
Daniel Baker 39.24  (winning 3rd place and a podium finish, see photo below!)


Whose watch is this?

Every runner has a trusty watch to time their runs and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Can you guess which Spitfires the GPS watches below belong to? It may not be quite as straightforward as you’d think.


So so how well did you know your muscles last month? Here are the answers.

Human anatomy of a runner's joints, computer artwork.









imageEnd of Year Celebration

It seems a long way off but time flies when you’re having fun so don’t forget to register for tickets for the End of Year Ceremony. If you haven’t done it yet click on the link now, the password is itchyspits. Amelia and Amanda would like an idea of the numbers as soon as possible so they can go shopping. Please don’t confuse them by registering twice though.

Save The Date!



Clear your diaries for Thursday 13 October because you don’t want to miss out on the #runandtalk event organised by Abi and Vicki. The event is part of an initiative by England Athletics and Mind, the mental health charity, to get people running to improve their mental wellbeing and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking about it.

This is a free event, open to members and non members alike. Members can just turn up, but VIcki and Abi ask non-members to drop them an email beforehand.

The 401 Challenge


Since 1 September 2015 Ben Smith has been running marathons. In fact he’s been running a marathon every single day in an attempt to create a world record for running 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days in 309 different mainland UK locations. At the same time he’s been raising money to raise awareness of bullying and raise money for two charities dedicated to tackling it, Stonewall and Kidscape.

On 27 September he was running in Southampton and a trio of Spitfires, Laura Durham, Claire Healey and Sarah Shave went along to run with him and keep him company. As well as meeting Ben and supporting him on day 393 of this amazing challenge, two of the three ladies ran personal best distances. Sarah ran more than five miles,  Claire ran a personal best distance of 12.7 miles and Laura’s best distance ever was a whopping 17 miles plus she ran another mile home too! Hows that for a bit of Spitfire support?

For more information about the 401 Challenge and the chance to run a virtual marathon and raise money for Ben’s worthy cause see the following link.

And finally… 

Photo by Francesca Horn

A very wet and miserable parkrun on 10 September saw one Spitfire chalk up his fiftieth parkrun. Dave Chalk may not have had the weather on his side but he’s earned himself a nice bright red t-shirt. Well done Dave.







#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne