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The snow and ice could not discourage a hardy group of Almost Athletes from competing at the exceptionally tough Mayhill Massacre races. Shaun Carr added to a fantastic season, taking 5th place overall in the first 9 mile race. He ran the hilly, muddy course in a remarkable 1:15. Jamie Courtenay followed in 1:27, Sarah Roberts was second in her age category in 1:36, and Ross Greening also finished in 1:36. Karen Hilton crossed the line in 1:44 despite taking a wrong turn, and Adrian Courtenay finished in 2:19. Hester Coggin was first lady home in the second nine mile race, finishing in an impressive 1:28. Second Almost lady home was Catherine Daly in 1:36. Mike Daly ran 1:24 to take first in his age category. Kirstie Hallam and Andrew Wilkinson finished in 1:44, and Andrea Hardy in 2:02. Pinky Shetty completed her first off-road race with Mariel Chretien in 2:24.  The Mayhill Mayhem 15 mile race saw Lesley Cottle take first in her age category in 2:51, while Oliver Clarkin came home in 3:25.
Karla Cleverley and Simon Morgan travelled to the London Winter Run, where snowmen, huskies and penguins cheered them around the closed road course. Morgan completed the 10k run in 53 minutes, followed by Cleverley in 1:26.
Josh Hand was in incredible form at Chichester 10k, gaining a 35:19 PB for his efforts.
Sarah Fennell, Rachel Nolan and Ceinwen Davies continued the Almost Athletes tradition of running the Torremolinos Half Marathon in Spain, finishing together in 2:39.
With Cheltenham parkrun cancelled due to the icy weather, club members had to venture further afield for their Saturday morning running fix. Gloucester North saw several Almosts in action, with Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor taking first in their age categories in 21:38 and 25:09 respectively. Regular volunteer Phil Jeyes welcomed Dave Chittock, Deb Cartlidge, Richard Knightley and Simon Jarvis to Tewkesbury.  Jarvis ran 20:37, finishing 5th overall. Mike Kennedy finished 5th in Newent in 22:39, and Matt Polson was also 5th at Rugby (19:07). Rob Rennell and guide Robert Dalton Morris were in action at Stonehouse, Robert Brush was at Worcester Pitchcroft, Martyn Fisher at Pocket parkrun, and Oliver Bell at Brandon Country Park. Rich Smith took on the tough challenge of pushing a buggy around Woolacombe Dunes parkrun, finishing in 45:54.

The Staverton 10 mile race took place on Sunday 27th January, with 37 Almost Athletes taking part. Despite the cold and windy conditions there were some impressive results for Club members, including a host of new PBs.

Josh Hand was first Almost to finish in 16th place, closely followed by Matt Polson with a time of 1:03.  For Polson, this was a PB of more than 4 minutes from his previous 10 mile event.

Helen Youde was first Almost lady to finish in 1:05, followed by Ellie Laney-Bolton in 1:08 and Michelle Balchin in 1:16.

Peter Mitchener acted as pace maker for Mark Lyes, Hayley Woolnough and Lorraine Taylor, and all three of them gained new PBs of 1:23.

There were also new PBs for each of the following: Matthew Hickman in 1:05, Ben Stone in 1:06, Chris McMahon in 1:22, Daniel Magovern in 1:28, Deborah Elliott in 1:39, and Dave Nelson in 1:44.

Slightly further afield, Ingrid Harris tackled the tricky LDWA Twisted Wye Canter of 24.5 miles, whilst Heather Theyer, Debbie Gaynor and Karla Cleverley all travelled to Bristol to take part in the 5 km Run for Chocolate event.

On Saturday 26th January Matt Barnes came eighth at Cheltenham parkrun with a time of 19:34 and Jeanette Gullick was first Almost lady to complete in 22:40.

In Gloucester North parkrun Lesley Cottle was 1st female with 24:30, and in Kingsway Gloucester Ben Taylor came 8th in 19:45.  At the Bath Skyline event Neil Tring was 1st in his age category with 21:55 and Lorraine Taylor was 2nd in hers with 26:24.  Lynne Macedo was also first in her age category and gained a new PB with 29:48 in the Mile End, London, parkrun. 

Visually-impaired runner Rob Rennell completed his 70th parkrun with the challenging off-road Fire Service College event which he finished in 39:45.

Members of Almost Athletes took part in 11 other parkruns throughout the UK encompassing Cirencester, Gloucester City, Churchfields Farm, Pocket, Ipswich, Worcester Pitchcroft, Wycombe Rye, Netley Abbey, Newent, Burnham & Highbridge and Tewkesbury.

Marathon specialist Allan Green continued to add to his tally by taking part in the Phoenix Challenger event on Saturday.  He completed the muddy, eight lap course in 5:48.

Almost Athletes held their very popular Linda Franks 5-mile race in Hatherley and The Reddings on Sunday. In near ideal conditions, a field of more than 240 runners competed over the course which is part of the Gloucestershire Amateur Athletics Association series. For the first time in the event, there was a wheelchair category too for which Les Hampton of Cheltenham & County Harriers took 1st in 36:19 followed by Danny Reeves of Almost Athletes in 37:49.
In the ladies race, first home overall was Rachel Felton of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers in 28:10, second was Tracey Hinxman of Glos AC in 30:21 and third was Helena Youde of Almosts in a new PB of 31:04.
For the men overall,  first was Steve Kenyon of Glos AC in 27:03, second was Joe Willgoss in 27:48 & third was Mark James in 27:57 both of Cheltenham & County Harriers.
Top three men for the Almost Athletes were 1st Josh Hand 28:25, 2nd Matt Polson 29:16 and 3rd Jon Bird 29:46. Top three ladies for the club were 1st Helena Youde 31:04 new PB, 2nd Amy Sheer 33:45 new PB and 3rd Stacey Osmond 34:13 new PB.
There were a host of other PBs for the club at the event too, with Matthew Hickman in 30:31, Chris McMahon 37:43, Louise Bryan 36:00, Hayley Woolnough 39:32, Hannah Brown 43:23, Nat Stow 43:55, Sue Monaghan 43:44, Kevin Balchin 45:10, Deb Elliott 44:59, her first sub 50 and Lynne Macedo 48:10.

Andrew Wilkinson & Ingrid Harris tackled the Gloucester half marathon both in 1:45 whilst Pete Blakeman in his debut at the distance went 2 minutes quicker in a highly respectable 1:43.

Nicky Staniforth competed for the first time in Almosts colours at the Chepstow 10k and was home in a new PB of 50:25.

Allan Green completed the Funchal Marathon in Madeira on an 8-lap course in 4:58.

At parkrun this week there was tourism from the club by Danny Carroll at Limerick Eire, Deb Elliot and Hayley Woolnough at Kingsbury Water, Dave Rogers, Martin Thomas, Catherine Mason, Lepha McCartan, James Clay, Mike Bryce at Brueton near Birmingham, Kim Mansell at Arrow Valley Redditch, Ellie Laney at Faelledparken in Copenhagen  and Martyn Fisher at St Albans.

Almost Athletes celebrated a fantastic year of running at the Gloucestershire 2018 County Road Race Awards, with several members bringing home medals and shields for their efforts. Allan Green took home the County Shield with first place in the MV65 category. The club completed a clean sweep in the LV40 category, with Amy Sheer winning the County Shield, Deb Cartlidge in second and Michelle Balchin in third.  There were second place medals for Lorraine Taylor (FV45), Alison Hume (FV50), Sandra Stuart (FV55), Neil Tring (MV55) and David Lawrence (MV70). Taking third place were Hayley Woolnough (FV45), Martin Foster (MV40), Richard Birch (MV45) and Norm Lever (MV60).

Five Almosts travelled to Thornbury to complete the River Bank Rollick, a scenic ten-mile race along trails through fields and woodland. First home for the club was Kirstie Hallam in 1:42, followed by Ceri Schofield (1:45), Glenda Gill (1:48), Mariel Chretien 1:57 and Cos Pearson (2:05).

At Draycote Water, Karla Cleverley ran the fourth race of the Draycote Winter Series. In windy conditions, Cleverley completed the 10K loop of the reservoir in 1:25.   

In Pewsey, Katy Sworn ran the Rough and Tumble off-road race. She finished the hilly ten-mile course in 1:50.

A quiet week for races saw over eighty Almosts turn out at parkruns across the county and beyond. Matt Polson continued his impressive season at Gloucester North, where he charged home in first place in 18:58. Lesley Cottle followed in 24:53 to finish sixth lady, and Andrea Hardy also finished as a top ten female with a course PB of 27:02. There were PBs for Shaun Carr (19:04) and Philip Jukes (19:50) in Cheltenham, with Carr taking seventh place overall. Martin Foster was close behind in ninth place with 19:19. Hattie Jenkins was first female Almost home, and third lady, in 21:29. Rob Rennell achieved yet another PB at Gloucester City, running 36:27 with guide Robert Dalton-Morris. Also running was Patricia Peever, who finished seventh lady in 25:02.

Seven Almosts took a trip to Tewkesbury. Steve Wallbridge was first club member to finish in 24:40, followed by Jeanette Gullick (24:51 and fifth lady). Sarah Wallbridge, Debbie Masding, Sheila Chatterley, Debbie Worster and Kasha Price completed the line-up. Peter Jones ran at Newent, Danny Carroll ran at Chipping Sodbury, and Malc Smith and Rachel Fargher ran at Wotton. Lorraine Taylor was second lady (27:51) at Churchfield Farm Droitwich. There was also tourism for Robert Foord at Bedfont Lakes, Martyn Fisher at Luton Wardown, Jane Russell at Newcastle, Kimberley Mansell at Exmouth, and Jamie Courtenay at Bath Skyline. Oliver Bell travelled across the water to Medina, Isle of Wight.

In Berlin, Simon Jarvis finished in an impressive 18:57 to take first place at Hasenheide parkrun. He was accompanied by Claire Gallagher, Greg Hollingworth and James Clay.

The beginning of the New Year got off to a flying start for several members of Almost Athletes.

Helena Youde continued her winning streak by finishing as first lady and twelfth overall at Wirral Way Trail Half Marathon on Saturday 5th January.  Her time of 1:27:24 broke the ladies’ course record by an impressive 2 mins and 33 secs.

There were also some excellent results in parkruns throughout the country.  Matt Polson came fourth at Cheltenham with a new PB of 18:33, and Simon Jarvis came 14th in 20:06.

Peter Hooper achieved a new PB at the Torbay Velodrome parkrun with a time of 21:42, whilst both Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor also gained new PBs in the Worcester Pitchcroft event of 21:12 and 24:27 respectively.  

Almosts took part in ten other UK parkruns including Gloucester Kingsway where Phillips Jukes was 6th with a time of 19:32 and Newent where Mike Kennedy came 8th in 22:36.  Lynne Macedo came first in her age group in Tunbridge Wells.

Further afield, David Davey and Claire Cook ran in the Sligo, Ireland parkrun and Mark Medland participated in Malmö Ribersborg, Sweden.

The latest event in the Gloucester Cross Country race series also took place on Saturday at Rendcomb School near Circencester.  Ten Almosts competed with Josh Hand the first of those to finish the challenging course in 39:37, followed by Nick Lewis in 41:17 and Shaun Carr in 41:44.  Jayne Cheslin completed the ladies’ event in 35:47.

Over in Norway, Karla Cleverley participated in the Polar Night 10km race in Tromsø.  Wearing spiked shoes to combat the icy conditions, she completed the race in total darkness with a finish time of 1hr 35mins.

Back in Cheltenham, Paul Haig took on a different kind of endurance test by successfully undertaking a 24 hour and longest continuous ski challenge. By the finish on Saturday evening he had covered an astonishing 231,021 metres.

The traditional Almost Athletes New Year run took place on Sunday 6th with a 15 mile route from Winchcombe to Old Pats RFC in Cheltenham. Runners had the choice to complete the whole 15 mile run, to join for 10 miles from Cleeve Golf Club or to run 5 miles from Lineover Woods.

Allan Green also began his latest round of marathons on Sunday by running the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit event.  He finished the 14 lap event in 5:05.

Almost Athletes were busy at numerous parkruns across the UK over the festive period. The largest club showing was at Cheltenham on Christmas Day.

In Birkenhead Helena Youde was 1st lady home in an excellent time of 19:28.

At Gloucester City parkrun Matt Polson came 4th in 19:06, whilst Rob Rennell and guide Robert Dalton-Morris achieved a new course PB of 37:31. Following up his Gloucester PB , Matt Polson later picked his way through the field to secure another PB of 18:54 at the Pocket parkrun near St Neots, Cambs.

At Cheltenham, Shaun Carr hit a new PB time of 19:09. At Aylesbury Sam Wizard & Natalie Jayne ran their fastest times for the year in 24:21 & 26:18 respectively. There was also parkrun tourism from the club by Simon Attridge at Richmond, David Nelson at Strathclyde, James Clay at Esbjerg, Joanna & Vasco Barreto & Michelle & Danny Carroll  at Worcester, Lesley Cottle at Glos. North, Mike Bryce at Upton House, Simon Jarvis & Claire Gallagher at Amager Strandpark, Aline Buckley at Wimpole Estate, Norm Lever at Delamere, Peter Morris & Claire Hawes at Exmouth and Patricia Peever, Matthew Bevan, Michelle Balchin, Malc Smith, Kev Dendy & Rachel Fargher all at the Fire Services College, Moreton-in-Marsh.

New Year’s Day saw many completing double header parkruns. Running at Lydney & Forest of Dean were Catherine Daly, Lepha McCartan, Dave Rogers, Dave Chittock, Mike Kennedy, Vicky Kennedy, Matt Polson, Kev Fairs, Oliver Clarkin & Iris Mayo. At Ashton Court in Bristol & then at Eastville were Charlie Haward, Malc Smith & Rachel Fargher. At Stonehouse & Gloucester City were Hayley Woolnough, Piotr Michalski, Haiggy McHaig, Kev Dendy, Patricia Peever and Joanna Barreto.

At the Winston’s Wish Boxing Day Challenge, Peter Mitchener was round in 28:12 , Jeanette Gullick in 28:14 over the 4-mile course.

Allan Green completed his goal of 100 marathons in 100 weeks by completing the Portsmouth event on Sunday 23rd in 5hrs 19mins.  He then made it 101 at the Phoenix event on the Thames in 5:22.

In the 7 Sins Challenge at the Forest of Dean, Josh Hand was second runner home overall on Friday and Luicinda Hand took 7th lady overall. In Saturday’s event, Shaun Carr was 2nd overall in 56:24 and in Sunday's, Oliver Clarkin was round in 1:35. In the 14-mile challenge on Sunday, Fi Barnes ran 2:57.

The Gloucester 10m event experienced some organisational errors which resulted in many runners being directed to run up to 10.6 miles. This was highly frustrating for many of the field including Jeannette Gullick in 1:22, Peter Mitchener in 1:22 and Hannah Brown in 1:36 for a new PB. Matt Proome ran in 1:21  and Kim Mansell in 1:21.