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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.

Almost Athletes have been getting in the festive spirit this week with trips to Christmas races accross the region.  A large group travelled to Evesham Festive 10k, where they were rewarded with some impressive results despite challenging conditions. The mud was no match for Shaun Carr, who finished in 10th position with a remarkable 10k PB of 42:10. Dave McGrath followed in 43:12 to take 13th place. For the ladies, Ingrid Harris ran 50:44 to win the V55 age category. Mark Stojanov looks to be ending 2018 on a high as he finished with yet another PB of 76:13. Also in action were Robert Brush (47:49), Peter Mitchener (48:35), Sam Wizard (54:50), Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor (both 55:23), Carol Doherty (56:54), Mike Line (62:28), Natalie Pluck (63:00), Glenda Gill (63:06), Bob Spawton (65:15), Wan Hartley (66:28), Ian Gill (69:30) and Olly Nolan (76:42).

At Westonbirt House Christmas 10k, Rob Hume was first home for the club in 49:10. Alison Hume was next in 54:59, then Nicole Hope (55:13). Adrian and Julie Courtenay both finished in 64:44, with Julie gaining a PB for her efforts. Also running were Julie Averiss (70:41) and Zakia Hussain (79:11)
Lucinda and Josh Hand donned their Santa outfits at the Draycote Water Santa Dash, Warwickshire. Lucinda completed the 8km course in an impressive 34.52 and took 2nd lady, while Josh followed pushing their daughter in a buggy in 38:21.

Paul Haig took on the Sikhs in the City Dawn til Dusk Ultra, Ilford. Allan Green got another marathon under his belt at Dinton Pastures, Reading. Green got lost but still finished the multi-terrain course in 5:08.

There were celebrations at Cheltenham, as Deb Cartlidge reached her 100th parkrun. Dressed in a tutu and the obligatory centurion outfit, she completed her milestone run in 27:55.  The event also saw Robert Foord running his 200th parkrun in 24:24. First Almost home was Matt Polson, who was 7th overall in 19:18. Josh Hand was close behind in 10th position (19.28). Jeanette Gullick was 3rd lady in 22.19, and Sharmila Door gained a new PB (28:04).
There were some great local results for the club’s ladies, with Lesley Cottle 2nd lady at Gloucester North (24:32), and Hester Coggin 5th lady at Tewkesbury (24:25). Gloucester City saw Rachel Fargher finish 7th lady (26:59) while Glenda Gill was 10th lady and first in her age category (27:50). The event also provided course PBs for Malc Smith (24:17), Ian Gill (29:37) and Rob Rennell (38:07 running with guide Robert Dalton-Morris).
There was parkrun tourism for Mike Bryce at Fire Service College, Steven Adams at Marlborough Common, Peter Mitchener at Heslington, and Simon Attridge at Richmond. Rich Smith ran Rickmansworth with a buggy in 28:42. In Johannesburg, Matt Proome was in action at Golden Harvest and finished in 23 minutes.


The Weston Super Mare Christmas Cracker 10k was the destination for a small band of Almost Athletes this week. In a blustery wind Dave Rogers was first home for the club in 42:46 followed by Ross Greening in 45:33 and Rachel O’Bryan in 48:56. Also running were Alan Mercer 53:56, Lepha McCartan 58:32, Natalie Greening 61:10, Catrin Davies 61:54, Jayne Murphy 65:21, Graham Philpott 65:21 and Rob Rennell 69:47.

The festive fun continued at the Sudeley Castle Santa Dash where Josh & Lucinda Hand were 2nd placed male & female respectively but importantly were first placed male & female Santas. Also competing were Dave Nelson in 1:03, Wan Hartley in 1:04, Kerry Knowles 1:15 and Iris Mayo in 1:21.

Allan Green notched up yet another marathon at the Run for Elf Marathon at Egham in Surrey in 5:04 with 8 laps on a Thames tow path.

The club fielded a men’s and ladies’ team at the Gloucestershire Cross Country League meeting at Wootton under Edge. The men were represented by Haiggy McHaig, Dave Garnett, Martin Foster, Dave McGrath, Neil Tring, Matt Hampton & Ali Shaikh and were placed a credible 9th out of 16 teams. For the ladies Patricia Peever & Lorraine Taylor represented the club but sadly with only two members were not able to register a placing.

On a relatively free race weekend, more than 30 club members ran a 10-mile run around Leckhampton Hill and Shurdington to help club members Fiona & Matt Barnes celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary.

At parkrun Mike Daly equaled his PB with a 21:18 at Kingsway, Gloucester. Helena Youde was first lady home overall at Cheltenham in 19:26. Also on the parkrun tourism trail was Rich Gilbert at Gloucester, Helen McGuire at Swindon, Matt Waterfield & Rich Smith at Gloucester North, Steve & Jane Adams at Stonehouse, Robert Foord at Upton Court, Dave Nelson at Newent, Leigh Allinson at Telford, Matt Bevan at Southwark, London, Kev Dendy at Queen Elisabeth Park, London, Ed Brandley at Lanhydrock, Cornwall, Steve & Sarah Wallbridge at Tewkesbury, Gerard Gatek at Katowice, Poland, Danny Carroll at Exmouth, Haiggy and Kathy McHaig, Patricia Peever, Rachael, Bev & Oliver Nolan at Gloucester City, and finally Matt Polson, Simon Jarvis, Neil Tring and Lorraine Taylor at the inaugural parkrun at the Fire Services College at Moreton-in-the-Marsh.

Inspired by the memory of late friend and club member Rich Walklate, Ellie Laney-Bolton and Gemma Stevens travelled to Dorset to take part in the Endurance Life Ultra. The tough 33 mile route along the trails of the Jurassic Coast took in an ascent of over 5700 ft. They battled the wind, rain and mud to complete the race in an impressive 7:56.

Malc Allen also braved wet and windy conditions to tackle the Might Contain Nuts Half Marathon in Powys. He ran the challenging, hilly course across the Brecon Beacons in 2:25.

Clare Hearing was in action at the Croome Capability Canter. She completed the scenic 6.5 mile route around Croome Park in 1:07.

In Portsmouth, Karla Cleverley took part in the Victory 5 Mile Road Race, which is now in its 72nd year. Cleverely finished in 1:08.

Allan Green edged closer to his 100 Marathon goal with the Oulton Park Marathon in Cheshire. Green completed the 10 lap run around the motor racing circuit in 4:51.

With the festive season underway, Mark Stojanov was amongst the Almosts taking part in the Rotary Club Santa Fun Run in Pittville Park. Stojanov completed the 3km course in 21:47 adding yet another pb to his year.

Ingrid Harris ran the Nottingham Christmas Marathon around the National Watersports Centre, finishing in 3:40.

Almost Athletes' parkrunners were out in force with some impressive individual results. Leigh Allinson took a fantastic 1st place at Wyre Forest in 19:33. At Gloucester City, Hester Coggin was 3rd lady in 23:51. There were strong performances at Cheltenham with Prash Sripathi, Matt Polson, Nick Lewis, Martin Foster and Simon Jarvis all finishing in the top 15. Hattie Jenkins took 2nd lady in 21:37, while Karen Galpin and Catherine Daly also finished as top 10 women.

There was local representation at Tewkesbury and Stonehouse, while further afield Robert Foord was in action at Black Park and Kev Dendy at Eastville. Dave Rogers and Lepha McCartan were at Tamar Lakes, with McCartan finishing as 4th lady in 26:10. Away from the UK, Mark Medland ran at Caffarella, Rome.

Although there were fewer races taking place this weekend, several members of Almost Athletes still managed to achieve some excellent results.

On Saturday, Thomas Wood gained a new PB at Ravenstonedale, Weybridge 10km with a time of 42:25.

Hannah Brown also got a new personal best time of 56:57 at the Wilmslow Festive 10km race.

Both Ingrid Harris and Allan Green took part in the Four Seasons Winter Marathon at Margam Park in South Wales.  Harris finished in 3:52 and Green in 5:40.  This marathon was Green’s 96th out of 100 which he aims to complete over 100 consecutive weeks.

On Sunday 25th Sheila ‘Zippy’ Chatterley ran in the Cartama Half Marathon in Malaga, Spain, and was delighted to finish as second in her age category for which she was awarded a cup.

At Cheltenham parkrun on Saturday 24th November Josh Hand was 9th overall with a finishing time of 18:51, whilst Matt Polson came 13th in the Leamington parkrun in 19:35.  

Much further afield in Australia, Jeanette Gullick was first lady in Yeppoon, Queensland parkrun with a time of 22:14, and Jo Johnson ran in the Armidale parkrun along with a kangaroo!  Maisie Markham was 2nd lady to finish in the Anacastia, Washington DC parkrun with a time of 25:34.

Other parkrun tourism saw Almost Athletes taking part in 10 different UK events at Basingstoke; Fountains Abbey; Gladstone Park, London; Gloucester City and North; Leamington; Richmond; Severn Bridge; Swindon; and Upton House.