Newsletter September 2018

A word about safety

The nights and mornings are getting darker so it’s time to make sure you’re seen when you’re out running. ROSPA statistics show 1 pedestrian died and 14 were seriously injured  every single day in 2013. Accident reports show 1,191 of these accidents were directly attributable to the pedestrian wearing dark clothing in dim light conditions. These are the most recent statistics published but numbers are fairly steady, year on year. ROSPA counts anyone on foot as a pedestrian  so these figures include runners like you! Please don’t become one of the statistics for 2018, get out that high viz gear, the clip on lights and anything else that will help you be seen, now and make sure you wear them when you’re out in the dark.  You know it makes sense.

HRRL Overton

Photo thanks to Adam Ruddy

A small, but perfectly formed team of Spitfires turned out to run the first HRRL race of the season at Overton. Well done to Stuart Weebl White, Sara Taylor, Mark Tiller, Jonathan Barnard and, of course, Team Captain, Adam Ruddy, for flying the Spitfire flag, at least figuratively. Unfortunately, not everyone managed to make the team photo.

Crafty Fox Half Marathon – guest post by Helen Arwen Bonaer

Photos thanks to Helen Arwen Bonaer

On an unassuming September Sunday morning a small selection of Spitfires gathered near the village of Antsy, Dorset for the inaugural Crafty Fox Half Marathon. Some were drawn by the excitement of a new race, others by the funky medal and some had drunkenly agreed  to run the race to celebrate the birthday of Paddy Connors (who is now really, really old).

This being a White Star Running event the race started uphill and very much continued this way for most of the route. Even by white star standards this was a hill spectacular with over 1800ft of elevation! Along the way runners were faced with many gates that had to be shut after running though to keep the cattle in the fields.  We had to run through the cattle too! There were electric fences to limbo over and steep drops that were just asking for a broken ankle or two. (Luckily none were forthcoming)

Paddy set off at his usual lightning speed looking good at the front only to slow himself up considerably a short while later by almost impaling himself with a gate. No trips to A&E required but top 3 finish dead, along with the feeling in his leg. Having no-one to moan at and use as an excuse to slow down I managed to finally place as 2nd female something anyone near me will never ever hear the end of (ever).

Any fast finish paled into insignificance with the finish displayed by Matt Mills who, after completing this gruelling race, dropped at the finish line and proceeded show all watching how a ton of press ups was completed – we salute you sir! Also Andy Ward in his usual style ran the whole damn thing with 2 broken toes!

It was a gruelling race for all involved including Elizabeth Smith, Rosie Phillips Kev and Julie Mills bringing home the rest of the spitfires medal haul for the day. There were many mentions of “you can run it on your own next year Paddy” all the way to the car. Oh and, as usual, its was 14.4 miles not 13.1….. We love white star!

Photos thanks to Andy Ward

Marvellous marshalling at the first CC6

The autumn/winter cross country season kicked off on 9 September with the first CC6 at Fleming Park. Unfortunately, for Spitfire cross country addicts, this was our race to marshal so the joy of careering through long grass and climbing muddy hills had to wait until next month at Whiteley. Instead they all donned high vis jackets and lined the course to cheer, encourage and eat cake.

As the one Spitfire who completed almost all of the course, albeit mostly the wrong way round and with lots of stops to take pictures, I can vouch for the fact it’s hilly. There was no mud but plenty of long grass, a fallen tree to jump (or clamber inelegantly over) and a handy cafe with toilet facilities. Some Spitfires took their marshalling duties very seriously while others… let’s just say there was a fair bit of sitting down on the job and cake eating! The naughty corner, at the top of the steep hill, was possibly the loudest place on the course, with a whole group of Spitfires within shouting distance of each other. As Sunday mornings go, it was a fun one and the cake table must have been a welcome sight for those who actually ran. Luckily there were still some left for the hard working marshals at the end.

New Forest Marathon – guest post by Glenn Medcalf

Photo thanks to Glen Medcalf

A small group of Spitfires ventured into the New Forest on Sunday 9th September for the New Forest Marathon events. These consist of a 5k, 10k, Half and Full Marathon. There are also 200m and 1km junior races and a Woodland Walk for those feeling less energetic. The events are always very well organised with each route clearly signposted and plenty of marshalls around to make sure that none of the 5000 runners get lost or take a wrong turn.

The routes wind their way around the New Forest trails and roads passing a Deer Sanctuary, Rhinefield House, through Blackwater Arboretum and passing some of the tallest trees in the UK. For those running in the 10k and Half Marathon the routes overlap in several places offering an opportunity to look out for fellow Spitfires. It is not uncommon for runners to have to give way to New Forest Ponies, Cows, or even Highland Cattle crossing the track seemingly oblivious to the fact that a race is taking place.

This year Jonathan Barnard ran the Full Marathon. Gillam McClure, Caitlin Wederell, Karla Cummerson, Paul Carpenter, Matthew Simmons, Sara Taylor and I ran the Half Marathon. Jamie Foster, Ian Howard, Wayne Bellows, Harriet Chinnock, Andy Walker and Carol Medcalf ran the 10k. Each entrant gets a free t-shirt. At the end of the race, finishers are presented with a very nice medal, a bottle of water, a banana and the usual bag of goodies. Entries for next year are already open with early bird dicounts available until the end of September.

Zen and the art of pacing  

When you’re looking for a new PB one of the most important things you need to think about is pace. Running your race at the right pace can be the difference between success and failure. These days there are often pacers at parkrun and many races have experienced pacers to help you out. This is not always the case though. So what do you do if there are no pacers and how exactly do those pacers stay on target?

The first step is to look at your goal and the distance and work out what speed you would need to run each mile to achieve this. Of course, unless you are actually a race pacer, running the  exact same pace for every mile (even splits) may not be the best strategy. In  fact, almost every record set at every distance has been run by slightly increasing the pace with each mile (negative splits). If maths isn’t your thing, there are lots of apps and websites that can work out a pacing plan for you. For marathon or half marathon races an expert pacer friend of mine recommends

The big challenge is not making a plan, but sticking to it during the race. It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of an event and allow other runners dictate the pace. Unless those other runners are dedicated race pacers, you will almost certainly end up running faster than you should at the beginning and then be unable to sustain the pace and get slower with each mile (positive splits). It may feel like you can bank those fast miles for later, but, in practice, what usually happens is an epic crash and burn, especially at longer distances.

Being good at pacing takes practice and self control. Once you have worked out your pacing strategy, you can put your pace times on a wristband, carry notes with you or even write them on your hand, but, before you get to the start line, you need to practice running at those paces in training. If you practice often enough, you will get the feel for running at the right pace and this will stand you in good stead on race day. You never know, you might just get that illusive PB.

Upcoming events 

Click on the links below if you are interested in any of these events

Not quite marathon tourism in Budapest

Photos and information thanks to Leah Tavner

For those of you who enjoy a bit of marathon tourism, the Budapest Marathon might already be on your radar. Inaugurated in 1961 as an event for professional athletes only, it is usually held in late September or early October. In 1984 the organisers decided to allow amateur runners to take part. They also added a half marathon to make it even more accessible. In 1996 the Budapest Half Marathon  became an independent race and, this year, no less than three Spitfires entered! Ed and Leah Tavner bumped into Dan Grace at the race, proving you really can’t go anywhere without bumping into another Spitfire.

Both races usually start and finish in Városliget (City Park) and pass main tourist attractions such as Andrássy Avenue, Parliament and the Opera House and cross the Danube via the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. This year it was very, very hot and very, very crowded. According to Leah, the first five miles was as jam packed as the first mile of Southampton parkrun! Obviously this isn’t really a race for PB’s, although some people (Ed) might manage one. For those who made it to the finish, there was the usual medal and goodie bag containing a very unusual salami. If you’re into meaty treats and crowds, this might just be the marathon or half marathon to add to your wish list.

Meon Valley Express

Photo and information thanks to Andy Ward

The Meon Valley Express is, as the name suggests, more or less a rail trail. There are three races to choose from, the Half Marathon, the 10k and the 5k, and they’re all run along the disused Fareham to Alton railway line from Wickham towards Corhampton and back (at least if you brave the half marathon).

Three Spitfires turned up to run the half marathon, and they were joined by  Lou who was running the 5k in order to complete a full set of medals for this event. The weather was dry and warm but there was enough shade to keep everyone cool.  As it’s a rail trail, it was a very straight and more or less flat course, which is always good news, and the route was out and back, giving the chance to see everything twice. Unfortunately, unless you’re a railway buff, it wasn’t the most interesting course in the world, but there were medals and good company.

Richmond Runfest

Photos thanks to Heather Leeming and Dave Chalk

The Richmond Runfest sounds like my kind of event. Obviously I’m not talking about running the marathon, half marathon or 10k but I wish I’d gone along to Kew Gardens to watch the Spitfires who did and snap a few photographs of the gardens along with the runners.

The day was sunny, the gardens were so beautiful even the dedicated runners couldn’t help stopping for photos and the course was, I’m told, mainly flat. Luckily there was also plenty of much needed shade, some brilliant support from the organisers and marshals and a great medal. What more could you want? Actually, the Spitfire team also wanted a picnic after they’d finished running, along with some tree climbing and tree hugging (don’t even ask, I have this on authority from the lovely Heather Leaming, who provided the race details). The icing on the cake was a free beer voucher in every goodie bag!

This is the Runfest’s fifth year and, in that time, more than £1.5 million pounds has been raised for various charities. This year’s charity was Great Ormond Street Hospital and the hospital kindly allowed the organisers to use the official Oeter Pan theme for the event.  As far as I can tell, no spitfires actually ran dressed as fairies but it looks like they flew round the course and had a fabulous time.

Photos thanks to Heather Leeming and Dave Chalk

Interview with a Spitfire 

The September Spitfire of the Month is Team Captain Adam Ruddy. Not only has he put in some sterling work promoting the RR10’s, CC6’s, HRRL and HCCL races, gathering stats and writing race reports, but he’s also  always encouraging team mates to reach and exceed their potential. So, what exactly, makes Adam tick?



When did you take up running and why? 

I had run both cross country and track at school level for St. Mary’s College, competing in Southampton school boys cross-country at both junior and senior level. I was rarely a scorer for our team and never made it into county level but loved being on the team and loved racing at all different routes. I was known for my sprint finish, which I still enjoy today!

After not really running much for about 10 years I started running again primarily to lose weight as I was well over 18 stone. I was really embarrassed about how unfit I had become and often thought what would my younger self say if he could see how badly I had let myself go.     In 2013 I started running more regularly and did my first parkrun.

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

I had been considering joining Lordshill Road Runners as I live in Lordshill but a friend Dan Baker, who I had recently encouraged to start running joined ISRC and was relentless in advocating the club!

What have you most enjoyed about being team captain so far?

I love promoting the league races, hyping up enormous turnouts, forming up for our team photo and then just looking around at other club runner’s faces as they just look on in disbelief at our turnout!!

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

I have had all number of strange things happen to me whilst running, from incidents with drunks, a variety of different animals, with tramps, with the police, with people needing immediate first aid, with cars and motor bikes but I think the strangest thing that ever happened to me was winning a parkrun! I had to travel to a remote spot in rural western Ireland to achieve this strange feat and even then it wasn’t a given!!

Where is your favourite place to run on and off road?

Off road, the sports centre is a very important place to me. This is is where I forced myself to learn to run again after 10 years of weight gain. So it reminds me where I have come from. It is also where the city school boys  cross country finals were held (which is why I originally used it to force myself to run/ walk my way back to fitness)

Road has to be the 3miles between the Belmoor pub and the feather at Christmas time, as I love the club tempo through the horrified faces of late night Christmas shoppers, as we hurtle along, break neck speed 🙂

Do you have any running heroes?

I follow most of the current GB team and have followed Calum Hawkins’ rise to success for a very long time but my main running hero is a man called Ian Richardson who runs for SAC. He was the p.e. teacher at St. Mary’s College and as a result had us running miles every p.e lesson if you had your kit or not! He really gave me the running bug and was a real source of inspiration and motivation to get back to running and still supports and encourages me to date -you will now find him working part time at Alton Sports Eastleigh!

What do you do when you’re not running?

I watch vlogs and documentaries about running and listen to countless podcasts about running. I plan new routes for runs, I buy more running shoes and I talk a great deal to a great many people about running. Aside from this I weight train most days and stick to a really strict nutritional plan to ensure I never get injured and can give 100% when I am running.

Spitfires take on The Stig at Goodwood 

Photos thanks to Karla Cummerson

A few brave Spitfires took on The Stig at Goodwood Motor Circuit this month. The Running Grand Prix is a series of events, including 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon races but, luckily for our heroes, these were all running events and  no racing cars whatsoever were involved.

The course for all events was the Goodwood race track so it was wonderfully smooth and flat. Unfortunately, it was also a touch warmer than expected but Karla, Nick and Liz had a great time running in circles towards the checquered flag and earned themselves a medal, t-shirt and goodie bag. As for The Stig, he decided a group of Spitfires was too much competition and didn’t run at all.

Photos thanks to Karla Cummerson

September PB’s 


The September championship parkrun challenge may have something to do with the mass of PB’s this month, or maybe the cooler weather. Whatever it was, there were an awful lot of them to keep Mr Keates busy. Well done everyone! Now get your scrolling finger ready because you’re going to need it!!!



Ian Buckman 22.58
Rachel Sutch 25.41
Beth Farrow 21.13
Frazer Bailey 21.23
Tori Collinson 23.30
Adam Pratt 24.30
Teresa Robson 25.51
Elizabeth Parker 25.40
Elizabeth Smith 26.25
Tim Coles 27.11
Harriet Chinnock 27.29
Paul Leeming 27.49
Nicola Barton 30.12
Rebecca Smith 24.33
Dave Keates 20.26
Jonathan Barnard 21.37
Mitchel Robson 26.10
Gemma Waughman 26.29
Amanda Chalk 27.41
Nicole Kelly 28.31
Vicky Pratt 33.51
Steve Froud 19.42
Sam Cox 21.51
William Lawless 22.06
Alana Jane Williams 26.42
Leah Tavner 22.09
Ericka Heron 31.32
Ayesha Banda 33.18
Graham Andrews 20.52
Jamie Foster 17.55
Kerry Murray 33.23
Daniel Fradgley 22.22
Steve Williams 18.32
Gabs O’Brien 22.10
Robin Stacey 19.50
Carole Stevenson 26.02
Becky Diggle 23.22
Dan Lovell 20.53
Lindsay Bowers 30.47
Chris Horn 25.22
Tyronne Bowers 22.17
Caitlan Wederell 23.23
Sara Taylor 29.25
Kim Kelly 30.27
Phoebe Ashton 35.18


Tim Coles 26.40


Alana Jane Williams 56.05
Becca Smith 48.59
Leah Tavner 45.48
Lucy Puckett 49.30
Dan Lovell 44.58
Sharon Stewart 56.24
Andy Walker 59.10
Jamie Foster 37.22
Carole Stevenson 52.37
Erika Heron 1:05:25 10k
Jennifer Fradgley 50.46
Cameron Summerville Hewitt 40.44
Sue Haig 1:07:38
Emily Sadler 1:07:36
Sara Taylor 59.03
Lorna Bennett 56.43
Laura Downton 52.50
Jane Grant 1:05:32
Daniel Fradgley 47.28
Aisha Murphy 55.48
John Cowen 43.42
Mark Campbell 40:30

Ten mile

Elizabeth Smith 1:44:00

Half marathon

Adam Ruddy 1:36:21
Matt Simmons 2:10:50
Ed Tavner 1:46:21
Sara Taylor 2:19:22
Robin Stacey 1:35:51
Wayne Reekes 1:45:38
Tim Coles 2:10:02
Trevor Hillier 1:21:45


Richard Diggle 3:36:55
Becky Diggle 4:05:50
Jonathan Barnard 3:39:50

More flying feet 

Everyone loves a good flying feet photo but who do the flying feet below belong to?

Did you manage to fill in the blanks last month? Here are the answers.

The Blenheim Half & 10k – Guest post by Paddy Connors

Photo thanks to Paddy Connors

After missing out on Eastleigh and Stubbington due to injury, Rosie finally completed her first 10k at Blenheim Palace. Normal people do these before they graduate to half and full marathons but, well, you’ve met Rosie.

The Blenheim half and 10k are set in the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace near Oxford and run to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. The course is very scenic, but scenic usually means hilly, and that was the case here. The 500m uphill finish didn’t help either. I finished in a respectable third and Rosie finished her first 10k pain free and 16th female.

HRRL race 2, The Solent Half 

Photo thanks to Adam Ruddy

The long hot summer decided to come to a wet and windy end for the penultimate weekend of September as Storm Ali hit UK shores.  This was not good news for those taking part in the second HRRL race, The Solent Half.  The event is over three decades old, with a scenic course taking in the sights of the New Forest around Exbury and along the Solent shore at Lepe. Unfortunately, this year, rain and wind meant no one really appreciated the scenery much.

Although it’s billed as a road race, the start and finish is on grass. This time that grass was rather wet and slippery. Despite the conditions, the Spitfire team made the most of it, with Trevor Hillier completing his first ever half marathon and Sara Taylor knocking an astounding 10 minutes off her PB!

A wet and windy Winchester Half 

The stormy weather wasn’t good news for those who’d signed up for the Winchester Half Marathon, as Spitfire marshals, pacers, motivators, or even just plain runners. The bad weather wreaked havoc with the race plan. The finish arch had to be dispensed with, as did the balloons the pacers were supposed to run with and the VIP pacers had to share the Winchester Guildhall with all the ordinary runners as the pre race gathering was moved indoors.

The rain did let up a little by the time the race began but the dampness and wind can’t have helped the runners get around, what is, a tough and hilly course. There were a lot of Spitfires about, mostly acting as marshals in the last mile. All were well wrapped up against the weather. The pacers and motivators, also rather Spitfire heavy, did an impeccable job in very difficult circumstances. It really wasn’t a day, or a course, for PB’s but, unbelievably, a few people did manage it. Everyone who ran, PB or not, certainly earned their medals.

Loch Ness, a monsterous marathon 

Photos and race information thanks to Becky Diggle

A team of three Spitfires, Diane Abraham, Becky and Richard Diggle, travelled all the way to Loch Ness to run a marathon this month. The race started at 10am but their day began at 7, when they were picked up in Inverness and bussed 26.2 miles to the start. This gave them a preview of the course. Although this was a road race the scenery was stunning, despite unpredictable weather, including sun, rain and hail. At least the first five miles was downhill, which was a bonus because the rest of the race was mostly steep inclines and one never ending, two mile long, uphill stretch at mile nineteen.

Around two thousand runners took part but, sadly, the thundering of their feet as they passed Loch Ness meant the Loch Ness Monster stayed hidden. It takes a great deal of fortitude and character to run a marathon in such a remote location and it seems there were plenty of real characters on this run. Becky met several. One man had run 185 marathons and 10 ultras in 10 days, another kilted Scotsman had a speaker in his backpack belting out club classics because he didn’t have any headphones. Other music was provided by a farmer with decks and speakers rigged up on his tractor to entertain the runners. If you like breathtaking scenery, music and a chance to see a real live monster, this might be the marathon for you.

Running in the happiest place on Earth  – guest post by Taylor Alexis Cooper

Photos thanks to Alana Williams, Elizabeth Smith, Amanda Chalk and Teresa Robson

Some runners enter a race to get a personal best, to run along some breath-taking scenery, to challenge themselves, or just to have a bit of fun. But, for a number of Spitfires, the Disneyland Paris 5K, 10K and half marathon on 21-23 September were all about the medals and pictures with as many Disney characters as possible!

RunDisney has been quite popular in America for a number of years. Lucky for us on this side of the pond they decided in 2016 to have a series of races in Disneyland Paris, where runners get the opportunity to run around the two Disney parks, through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and through many “back stage” areas.

This year the theme was villains, and the characters along the route definitely showed the dark side of Disney Magic. During the 10K and half marathon, runners queued up to take photos with villains such as Cinderella’s stepsisters, the Evil Queen, and Darth Vader. Although the villains were quite scary, the scariest part was having to continue running on cold legs after standing in a 10-20 minute queue! The 5K race on the other hand was all about the heroes of the Marvel world and getting a glimpse of Captain America, Thor, and Black Panther.

This year was also the first year of the “official” 36K challenge. Runners had to complete the 5K on Friday evening, the 10K on Saturday morning, and the half marathon on Sunday morning to get five beautiful (and heavy!) medals worthy of being stopped and questioned through airport security. They made the 4:30am wake up calls worth it!

After the races there was no time to rest. It was time to hit the parks, go on as many rides as possible, and pretend your legs didn’t hurt. Well done to Alana, Charlotte, Helen, Liz, Maria, Teresa, Gerry, Mitchell, Amanda, David, Tori, and Taylor for completing the 36K challenge!

Photos thanks to Alana Williams, Elizabeth Smith, Amanda Chalk and Teresa Robson

The Ageas Bowl 10k

The last race of the month was the Ageas 10k, starting and finishing in the famous cricket ground and  running  around the streets of West End, Hedge End and Horton Heath. Despite a chilly start and some traffic issues due to a motorway closure, it was a bright sunny morning with perfect running conditions. A large contingent of Spitfires turned out to run and, yet again, Spitfires dominated the pacing team.  There were even Spitfires infiltrating the finish line, with Meeje in charge of dishing out medals.

My sources tell me the course was largely flat with a few teeny tiny undulations, such as the odd railway bridge. This made it ideal for those who were looking for 10k PB’s. From my vantage point at the edge of the cricket pitch I witnessed several truly spectacular sprints to the finish, notably Carole Stevenson, who whizzed past so fast her husband managed to miss her completely. The race ended with our wonderful tail runners Kim and Vicky ushering home the last runner of the day, lots of smiling faces and bacon rolls for those willing to brave the queues.

September championship parkruns

Parkruns this month were brought to you courtesy of the Club Championships. This meant every Spitfire was desperately trying to get that illusive PB and earn themselves some championship points. As you will see from the stupidly long PB tally above, quite a few were successful. If you weren’t one of them, check out the advice on pacing (also above), maybe October will be your lucky month.


Hampshire Cross Country League Important Admin!

If you will be running any of the HCCL races please make sure you email captain Adam at with your surname; first name; Date of Birth; Age Category; English Athletics registration number. Age categories are as follows

Male age categories: S, V40, V50, V60, V70
Female age categories: S, V35, V45, V55, V65

This will help ensure your results are processed properly. Fixtures are as follows.

Save the dates! 

Make a note in your diary the end of year party is on 8 December at Highpoint. It starts at 19:00. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for children and include food! More information will follow soon so keep an eye on the Facebook event page.

Also, don’t forget the Spitfire Quiz Night on 13 October at Woolston Community Centre. It stats at 19:30 and costs just £2. No under 18’s but partners welcome, especially if they are trivia buffs.

Jog On mental health podcast 

Team Captain Alana recorded an interesting piece about mental health and running for Horatio “Harry” Morgan’s Jog On podcast this month. For those of you who missed it here it is. If you’d like to be involved with future podcasts get in touch with Harry.

And finally… 

Congratulations to Run Leader Mitchel Robson for completing his 50th parkrun and getting a PB at the same time. Double bubble!





Well done to newlywed Adam Pratt for running his 100th parkrun this month.







Congratulations to  Ayesha  who ran her first parkrun this month with her dad, parkrun set up legend, Kali Banda.





Lucy Ashton sneakily ran her 100th parkrun this month. I didn’t manage to catch her and take a photo so here’s one I took earlier. There is no escape Lucy!






Two new Spitfire babies were born  this month. Welcome to the world  babies Jack Day and April Olivia Sherman Nias.




#GoSpitfires #TogetherAsOne