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Almost Athletes hosted their 2017 AGM meeting with guest speaker Ben Smith who completed 401 marathons in 401 days raising money for anti-bullying charities. Ben delivered an excellent talk giving an emotional insight into his journey and then rounded the evening off by presenting the clubs Runner of the Year winners to Glenda Gill, Vicky Kennedy and Prash Kumar. At the Tewkesbury Half Marathon Josh Hand took the club honours with a blistering 1.23.28 in some very warm conditions and 11th place overall. Matt Barnes was in hot pursuit and continued his rich vein of form in 1.25.49. Prash Kumar was 3rd home easily dipping under 1.30 in 1.27.17. Fiona Barnes was first lady home for the club in 1.51.20, Heather Berry was second in 1.58.21 and Cos Pearson third in 2.06.50. A through the night 26.2 mile "Moonwalk" in London was the target for Sandra Stuart, Jayne Adams and Sandra Stuart who all completed the course, contributing to the £3.7million raised to support research into cures and treatments for cancer. In the Brecon Beacons, Vasco Barreto conquered the 32 mile ultra over a punishing off-road course in 7hrs 41 whilst Joanna Wisniewska Barreto took on the equally challenging half marathon route in 2.19. Di Kemple also completed the Ultra course. 

Coming through still strong in a time of 3:42:45, Almost Athletes congratulated Ingrid Harris on crossing the finish line at Stratford on Sunday to become the first lady in the club to join the select 100 marathon runners club. An awesome achievement. Ingrid ran with fellow 100 club runners Allan Green (4:18:17) and Mark Willicott (3.19.10), who also beat his previous best time. Ingrid said after the race that it had been a tough final few months – it was a massive relief to finish and cross the line!

Ingrid’s favourite marathons are the off road ones, in the countryside, hilly and possibly muddy, and isn’t so keen on road ones. Ingrid started her countdown to 100 a little over 5 years ago, running with Allan Green who has been her inspiration. The high points for Ingrid have been finishing every one, the lovely scenery, sometimes winning a prize and representing the Almosts. Despite her achievements, Ingrid admits she always gets nervous and doubts herself and says running has helped her deal with life’s physical and emotional stresses.

Ingrid was also rewarded with the ladies marathon team prize with Michelle Balchin (3:37:31), Fiona Barnes (3:54:57) and Coralie Pearson (5:06:16) to complete her hattrick of races this weekend.

Ross Greening (3:36:31), Farook Mota (3:50:18), Matt Proome (3:50:50), Simon Rutland (4:24:44) and Nicola Woodman (5:06:30) completed the Almosts team.

Several Almosts supported Ingrid by running the half marathon too.  Matt Barnes stormed in to steal a new personal best of 1:25:25, followed by Deb Cartlidge (1:54:36) and Patricia Peever (1:39:39), while  Alison Hume sneaked in sub 2 with a cheeky 1:59:50. Sarah Fennell (2:34:44), Darren Lewington (2:33:24) and Marcos Puerta Terron (2:10:59) completed the Almosts half team.

Having first run parkrun, Coralie Pearson (and before the full marathon in Stratford) ranthe Hospice for Birmingham’s tastiest charity event – the Bourneville Chocolate 5k™ with her dad Ray (running his first race for a long time), Claire Bear and Rachael and Beverley Nolan and Kasha Price. The course offered chocolate stations as well as water along the way and an edible commemorative medal at the end.

Being photographed with David Coulthard before he got in the chaser car clearly inspired the Almost Athletes team in the Wings for Life world run in Cambridge. Comprising Simon Jarvis, Mike Kennedy Prash Kumar and Gwenael the team did 130.2k ( 19.8k, 34.6k 39k and 35.6k respectively) With Mike and Prash ranked 8the and 18th respectively in their national category.

The challenging mixture of trails, hills and towpaths were no match for Doug Wright who stole first place overall in the Stroud Trail marathon in an impressive 3:15:57 well ahead of Shaun Carr (4:03:32), Dave Rogers running his first marathon (4.04:54) and coming 12th and 15th overall respectively, Karen Galpin (4:43:32) and 2nd in her age category,  Lepha Mccartan 4.48:35 who managed to knock a massive 52mins off last year’s time,  Victoria Kennedy (4:49:28) and 3rd in her age category, Andrew Wilkinson, Phil Jeyes and Debbie Masding, while Nick Spice (2:10:30), Thom Smith (2:11:12), Mike Lyes  (2:23:03) and Des Beer (2:34:15) opted for the half.

Haiggy McHaig and wife Kathy completed the Ox Race on the Rushmore Estate, Wiltshire covering 381/2 miles 62.5k in 11 hours. Haiggy commented at the end that this was more elevation than Ben Nevis.  Last week he completed marathon 28/50, a total distance covered in his 50 marathons in his 50th year challenge of 1,181.60km (733.6miles), raising £3,613. Marathon 28 was the PlymTrail near Plymouth.

Having run the charity 20 miles Full Mucker around Burghley Castle in Lincolnshire, Gareth Wilkes commented that this was easily the hardest thing he’d have ever done. Gareth and three friends raised over £1000 for Children with Cancer uk.

Four Almosts enjoyed the music and bands that accompanied them round the Bristol 10k course -Tom Care (40:46) Bobby Henderson (46:16), Lynsey Hill (49:59) and Alain Ensuque 50:19 (a new personal best time).

Martyn Fisher completed the Lakeland Trail Challenge in Staveley and the Kentmere valley  in 2:01:10.

Julianne Jameson continued her training for the Cotswold Way challenge in July by taking part in the Ellenden Farm Frolic running 42.4miles in 12 hours while Annemarie Willicott completed approx 28miles in six hours.

Sarah Roberts competed in the Tewkesbury sprint triathlon with Adrian and Jamie Courtenay undertaking the challenge of their first open water triathlon, while for Glenda Gill this was the culmination of her Try A Tri training.

A small band of Almosts travelled to the Milton Keynes Marathon and half Marathon events. In the half, Maddie Page exorcised some demons from her previous two outings on the course with an excellent 2hrs 6minutes and Christopher Benjamin recorded 2.14. In the full marathon Dave Chittock secured a 4hrs 13minutes, having run well to 21miles but found the late pace in the closing 5 miles a tough ask. Closer to home, at the Angels 10k in Ashleworth, the ladies secured 2nd team prize courtesy of Patricia Pever in 44mins 55seconds, Victoria Kennedy in 44.57 and Hester Coggin in 50.35. In the men's race new member Richard Birch ran an excellent 41.05, followed by Dave Rogers in 43.50 and Farook Mota in 45.21. Also competing were Neil Tring 46.01, Allan Green 46.05, Phil Jeyes 48.13, Rob Hume 50.28, Debs Cartlidge 52.04, David Garnett 51.17, Peter Blakeman 51.43, Alison Hume 54.11, Kim Davenport 54.46, Sue Monaghan 55.33, Sheila "Zippy" Chatterley 55.31, Lorraine Taylor 58.28, Nick Spice 58.31, Sandra Stuart 58.28, David Lawrence 60.22, Kate Plummer 65.46, Fiona Sewell 65.48, Kasha Price 65.58 and Claire Gallagher in 69.51.

A new Guinness World Record was achieved as 34 members travelled to the capital to compete in this year's London Marathon with some blistering performances right across the spectrum of the club. In near ideal running conditions Douglas Wight ran a new personal best of 2 hours 36 minutes and 38 seconds giving him 181st place in a total field of more than 40,000 runners. Next was Matt Barnes in a new PB too of 2.53.51. Josh Hand ran a magnificent first half but suffered from the pace in the final quarter yet still delivered a clear sub 3 hours in 2.55.01. Next home was Steve Linton, still a relative new comer to the marathon distance but secured an excellent 3 hours 2 minutes. The club's first lady over the line in a truly superb 3.10 was Hattie Jenkins with a PB by more than 20 minutes. Richard Birch was next home in a superb 3.15 closely followed by club stalwart Dale Midwinter in 3.16. Sally Mason recorded an excellent 3.32 followed by Ceri Griffiths in 3.37. John Liptrot took a 3.38 and secured a notable 25th place in his age category. Sally Pate took an excellent 3.39 followed by Helen Fursman Reid with a well-deserved 3.40. Hot on her heels was Karen Galpin in 3.41, 95th in her category and in the same 3.41 time Mike Daly obliterated his PB by more than 17 minutes. Simon Attridge was delighted with his 3.43, closely followed home by Ingrid Harris in 3.44 who is closing in on her 100th marathon milestone. Michelle Balchin showed that the long and dedicated training miles really do pay off with a 3.45. Securing his first marathon finish in an excellent 3.51 was David Pilling, with Allan Green in 3.53 who completed his 444th marathon finish. Gemma Stevens bagged a superb 3.57, all the more amazing as she also took a new Guinness World Record for the fastest female marathon dressed in a full body dinosaur outfit. Just dipping under the 4 hours in a gritty, determined run of 3.58 was Anne-Marie Willicott. Next home in a hard fought for 4.04 was Dave Elliott. Making her marathon debut and securing a very impressive 4.10 was Aline Imray. Frances Jauch showed determination to record a 4.28 with Mike Harris also making his marathon debut in 4.29. Sandra Stuart was delighted with her 4.47, and was followed closely home by Rachel Fargher and Dave Davey both in 4.49. John Galpin dug deep in the rising temperatures to hit 5.05 with Caroline Chipperfield working hard for her 5.29. Finally but by no means least was Christine Walker in an excellent 6.23. 

With over 30 Almost Athletes due to run the London marathon next week it may have been a relatively quiet Easter weekend for races, but everyone’s attention was focussed on supporting fellow Almosts Matt Proome and Farook Mota, running the gruelling Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-marathon in Cape Town.  Founded in 1970, it’s reputed to be the world’s most beautiful marathon, with breathtaking scenery. The 56km route starts in Cape Town, heads down to the Atlantic Ocean before crossing to the Indian Ocean and back to the finish.

Having run the 5k International Friendship Run on Good Friday as a warm-up for Sunday’s Ultra, Farook breezed in to finish the 56k, over half an hour quicker than the last time he ran it in 2001, in 5hrs 23, really pleased with his time and having enjoyed every step of the event. Matt was right on his heels finishing the ultra in an amazing 5hrs 25, having had a fantastic and enjoyable run, too. Very well done both!

Congratulations to Victoria Kennedy who ran the Easter Enigma marathon in Milton Keynes in an impressive 3:45:55 to take 1st lady the trophy.

Haiggy McHaig continues his series of 50 marathons to celebrate his 50th year running number 26, the Newcastle Way marathon in 5hrs 36.  In addition to running 50 marathons in 50 weeks he is not drinking alcohol or having his hair cut!

It wouldn’t have been Easter without a chocolate race and Allan Green found a gentle chocolate themed marathon in Northampton, which he completed in 4hrs 40 to claim his chocolate themed medal and goody bag.

Over 50 Almost Athletes took part in the Cheltenham park run this weekend. Bob Spawton was running his first whilst Frank McDevitt, suitably attired, ran his 100th, several achieved new personal best times and Gemma Hargraves was first lady back. Further afield, Robert Foord ran his 29th park run in Cardiff while Dave Chittock ran at Helston in Cornwall.

Good luck to all the Almosts running the London marathon next weekend – whether it’s your first marathon or almost your 100th, for a special charity or just for yourself. Have a great run and enjoy!

Glorious weather this weekend saw the Almost Athletes out in force at the scenic and surprisingly tough Chedworth 10 mile Roman trail race.

Like the weather, Gemma Hargraves set a hot pace, storming in to take 3rd lady home overall in 1:14:50 seconds ahead of Nick Spice and following Matt Barnes and Prash Kumar who led the pack of 55 Almost Athletes and finished in a blistering 1:10 and 1:12 respectively. Matthew Hampton, Mark Willicott and Gary Farquarson finished ahead of Patricia Peever, in an impressive (1:15, 1:18:3 and 1:20:5 respectively). Patricia crossed the line in 1:22:3, to take 4th lady position, escorted by Mike Daly and Jason Mather.

Craig Bullingham , Jamie Courtenay and Vasco Barreto were next across the finish line in 1:25:06, 1:25:44 and 1:26:14 to be followed by Martin Thomas (1:27:27) seconds ahead of Dave McGrath, Vicky and Mike Kennedy and their dogs, with Thom Smith edging between (1:29:12). Allan Green took 4th place in his age category at 1:29:30, half a minute ahead of Dave Elliott who took 5th place in the same category in 1:30:08, and ahead of John Bailey (1:29:28) and Mark Davies (1:29:27).

Joe Harrison also sneaked in on 1:30:56 followed by a stream of ladies, headed by Annabel Box (1:31:34), Ingrid Harris (1:33:00) (seconds ahead of Andrew Wilkinson (1:33:18), Sarah Roberts (1:34:12).Fi Barnes (1:34:11), Lepha Mccartan pulled off a new personal best time in 1:36:26 and Kerry Heath-Smith (1:38:15). Kerry crossed the line with Steve Wallbridge who was followed by Dan Magovern running his first club off road race series event  (1:39:02) and Bob Spawton (1:39:13), with Sarah Wallbridge coming in at 1:40 on the nail, to take 4th place in her age category ahead of Des Beer who took 5th place (1:42:40). Helen Turner, Clare Hearing and Karen Hilton (1:40:47, 1:41:03, 1:42:17) came between while Hayley Woolnough running her first off road race finished seconds behind (1:42:53). Rich Smith sneaked in seconds under 1:50 behind Mike Line (1:43:36), Norm Lever (1:44:06), Duncan Mounsor ((1:45:42), Catherine Mason (1:47:42), Glenda Gill (1:48:04) and John Galpin (1:49:11). Kevin Richards, Debbie Minett, Di Kemple, Louise Newman, Ian Gill, Mariel Chretien, Steve Yarnold and Adrian Courtenay completed the Almost team (1:50:13, 1:51:06, 1:51:52, 1;53:43, 1:55:37, 1:56:52, 1:58:05 and 2:03:05).

Meanwhile and despite the heat, Thom Stevens completed the South Downs way 50 miler on Saturday in just under 9hrs 25mins.

Amber Bullingham proved that she’s back on form, taking the first lady position at Cheltenham parkrun, while Robert Foord  came 5th in the Bradford run on a course described as ‘slopes gently’ in 21:10.

The spring marathon season is well underway and this weekend saw several Almosts representing the club both in this country and further afield. The first event on Saturday, the Bath Beat, saw Anne-marie and Mark Willicott complete the full marathon length while  Lorraine Brinton and Helen Fursman opted to run the half marathon. This was followed Saturday evening by the Ibiza marathon which Simon Jarvis completed in 4:39:31 on Saturday evening.  Eight Almosts took part in this year’s Brighton marathon in the heat on Sunday morning. Shaun Carr led the team home in 3:34:53 followed by Sarah Farr 4:10:30 and Simon Bultand 4:30:55. Frank McDevitt sneaked in sub-5 at 4:54:44 while Helen and Marcos Puerta Terron completed the race in 5:22:38 and 5:35:30 with Jane Birch and Alison Gregg at 6:14:25 and 6:24:32.

Over in Germany, the Hannover marathon, half marathon and 10k races attracted a handful of Almosts. Rachel Nolan and Coaralie Pearson chose to run the full distance and raced in a whisker under at 4:59:10 and 4:59:03 respectively. Coralie was justifiably very pleased with her first sub-5 since 2011. Karla Cleverley completed the half marathon in 3:21:12 while Ollie Nolan and Mandy Shardlow opted to run the 10k (1:01:25 and 1:19:19).

Finally, Haiggy McHaig continues his 50 in his 50th year competing in the West Lancs Triathlon at Ormskirk with his wife Kathy. Haiggy took 4th place in his category, completing the event in 1:03:34 and Kathy in 1:34:38.85.