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Alan Mercer successfully completed an incredible test of endurance by running in the North Downs Way 100. The race stretches from Farnham in Surrey to Ashford in Kent, and includes almost 10,000 feet of climb. In the Gloucester City Marathon Ingrid Harris finished first in her age category with a great time of 3 hrs 48 mins. Kev George completed in 3.43, Mark Willicott in 3.57, Anne-Marie Willicott 4.11, Philip Jeyes 4.42, Lesley Cottle 4.43, Ian Coggin 4.44 and Coralie Pearson 4.54. Eight Almosts completed the Half Marathon including Rob Rennell who took part in his first ever race at this distance, guided by Mark Medland. Matt Proome achieved an impressive 1 hr 33 mins closely followed by Andrew Ford at 1.34, Tim Brock 1.41, Oliver Bell 1.50, and Sweetchilli Wan at 2.15. Rachel and Ollie Nolan Snr finished together in 2.16.In the Westonbirt 10km summer race Nick Spice ran an excellent 42 mins 48 secs, Kate Freeman 51.52 and Jackie Slaughter 56.22. Sheila Chatterley was second lady in her age category with 56.26 and Sarah Wallbridge, Debbie Masding and Kate Plummer were all home in just over 1 hour. 

This weekend saw yet another large turnout of Almost Athletes in support of Julianne Jameson and her Cotswold Way Challenge. Jules was aiming to join a select group of female athletes by running the entire 103 mile journey from Chipping Campden to Bath Abbey. Club members joined Jules for each of the ten legs of her run, with outstanding support from Ian Coggin who ran the whole distance alongside her. Jules and Ian set off at 8am on Saturday and both successfully completed the Challenge by arriving at Bath Abbey at 2.25 am on Monday morning. Two other Almosts took part in the 100 km Race to the Stones Ultra. Kev George finished in 10hrs 53 and 12th place overall, whilst Mark Willicott achieved 11hrs 50. Paul Haig completed his 39th Marathon of the year by running the Piece of Cake Trail in Shropshire, as did Ingrid Harris who finished as second lady in 4hrs 55. Allan Green also successfully completed the Fairlands Valley Marathon. Neil Tring and his daughter Laura took part in the Frome Half Marathon, finishing together at 1hr 44. 

Matt Hampton achieved a personal ambition by smashing the 40 minute barrier for 10k, storming in with Hattie Jenkins in 39:55 behind Simon Jarvis who finished in a very impressive 38:03 at Cleevedon last week.

Almost 60 members took part in a glorious evening race round a stunning setting in Cirencester park. Hard work was rewarded with some notable successes, with special mention as the ladies team came away with yet another prize courtesy of Gemma Hargraves, Vicky Kennedy, and Holly Linton, who also scooped the prize for 1st under-20yrs on her debut for the Almost Athletes. Another great turn out by the Almosts.

Top three Almosts were Steve Linton 2nd in his category (38:32), Richard Birch 4th (40:02) and Gemma Hargraves (40:13) third lady overall and first lady Almost. Additionally Holly Linton scooped 1st in age category (47:22), as did Virginia Pawlyn (1:04:26) and Allan Green (46:35), while Sarah Wallbridge (54:08), Vicky Kennedy (47:31) and David Lawrence (58:32) were placed 3rd in their respective categories. Helen Fursman (47:58), Ingrid Harris (48:45), Des Beer (54:59) and Kevin Richards (54:44) were placed 4th in theirs. Well done all.

Prash Kumar took 4th place for the Almosts in 41:11 behind Gemma, followed by Dave Rogers, Mike Kennedy, Wayne Jones, Vasco Barreto, Matt Proome, Gary Farquarson, Dave Chittock and Neil Tring in 42:06, 42:37, 43:23, 44:05, 44:09, 44:26, 45:34 and 45:55 respectively.

Allan Green and junior runner Holly were followed by Phil Jeyes in 47:11, ahead of Vicky Kennedy and Dave Garnett (47:33).

Helen Fursman and Ingrid Harris were followed over the line by Ollie Bell, Steve Wallbridge, Andrew Akerman with Joe Harrison just sneaking in sub-50 (48:58, 49:06, 49:02 and 49:57).

Crossing the line in under the hour despite the heat were Ben Kirby (50:26), Jim Trowbridge (50:19), Rich Smith (50:38) Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto (50:50), Deb Cartlidge (51:18), Kim Davenport (53:40), Hayley Woolnough (54:00), Kevin Richards (54:58), Jackie Slaughter (55:12), James Clay (55:48), Bob Spawton (55:43), Mark Eavers (56:10), Sue Monaghan (56:22), Gareth Wilkes (58:07), Andy Domm (58:06) and David Lawrence (58:07).

Deborah Elliott (1:00:18), Lorraine Taylor (1:00:24) and Jane Birch (1:00:49) crossed on the hour, followed by Lucia Milone (1:01:50), Ed Turner (1:02:22), Virginia Pawlyn (1:04:26), Sarah Fennell (1:05:57), Kasha Price (1:09:51), Claire Gallagher (1:10:00), Fi Sewell (1:10:27), Cottia Howard (1:13:04), Jill Cownie (1:13:45) and finally Rob Rennell with guide runner Mark Medland (1:15:39) completed the Almosts team – a real achievement.

Almosts were out in force again running the Humphs Hilly in the sweltering heat on Saturday. This was a tough race, but a great event. Congratulations to Patricia Peever 1st lady, 2nd Michelle Balchin (1:28:24) and 3rd Ingrid Harris, to race across the finish line for the Almosts behind the top 3 men Josh Hand (1:28:24, 2nd in his age category), Richard Birch (1:33:44) and Nick Lewis (1:33:54).

The club also scooped a number of team prizes – 1st men (Josh Hand, Richard Birch and Nick Lewis), 4th team comprising Prash Kumar (1:34:44), Simon Jarvis (1:3:23) and Dale Midwinter (1:41:59) as well as 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th team places, while the ladies also claimed first place – Patricia Peever, Michelle Balchin and Ingrid Harris, 5th team Vicky Kennedy, Deb Cartlidge, Des Beer as well as 6th and 7th teams.

Mike Kennedy 1:42:19 ahead of 01:46:45 Allan Green fist in age category ahead of Patricia 1:48:44 Michelle on her heels at 1:49:17 (both 2nd in age category) with Matt Proome 1:49:20 and 1:53:00 Ingrid Harris (1st in her category) in hot pursuit and Neil Tring at 1:56:01 (2nd in category) comfortably under 2 hours.

Vicky Kennedy was the next Almost to come in at 2:05:45 followed in 2:06:57 by Gary Farquharson and Duncan Mounsor (2:07:45), ahead of Deb Cartlidge (2:08:09), David Chittock (2:08:22) and Philip Jeyes almost together (2:08:23) and Des Beer not far behind (2:10:42) (1st in her category). Nick Spice still strong crossed the finish in 2:11:50 followed by Steve and Sarah Wallbridge (2:16:06), and Jackie Slaughter (2:18:02) and Bob Spawton (2:19:52).

Final ten Almosts to complete the team were Hayley Woolnough, Rachel Nolan, Mark Eavers and Sandra Stuart in 2:24:15, 2:25:22, 2:26:13 and 2:26:52 respectively, Ollie Nolan, Coralie Pearson and Jane Birch (2:28:26, 2:28:27, 2:30:05) and David Lawrence, Sarah Fennell and Claire Gallagher (2:43:15, 2:43:21 and 2:43:21).

Several Almosts tested their stamina over the weekend, attempting both the Cheltenham challenge (half marathon and 10k courses) and Bourton or Winchcombe the previous day. Well done everyone. This wasn’t a feat for the feint hearted.

Gemma Hargraves and, Hattie Jenkins were rewarded with 2nd and 3rd lady home in 1:43:25 (and 5th overall) and 1:54:47.

Prash Kumar was 6th male overall in 1:49:48, followed by Dave Rogers (1:51:50) then Hattie. Mike Daly sneaked in a whisker under 2hrs at 1:59:45 followed by Mike Kennedy (2:02:59), Amber Bullingham (2:03:19), Miranda Foster (2:04:13) and Jason Mather (2:05:54).

Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto, Lorraine Brinton, Steve Adams, John Bailey, Ingrid Harris, Clare Hearing, Simon Butland and Mark Lyes all completed the course in under 2:30 (2:11:44, 2:13:56, 2:15:47, 2:20:20, 2:21:24, 2:25:46, 2:26:05 and 2:27:50 respectively), while Andrew Akerman, Phil Jeyes, Chris Urwin, Jim Trowbridge, Katherine Freeman, Vicky Kennedy, Marcos Terron, Kevin Richards, Glenda Gill, John Galpin, Ian Gill and Mike Line finished under 3 hours (2:32:07, 2:31:53, 2:33:57, 2:37:36, 2:39:28, 2:41:25, 2:43:15, 2:43:17, 2:48:07, 2:49:09, 2:49:52 and 2:55:50).

Just on 3hrs was Mariel Chretien (3:01:32) and Rich Smith (3:02:19), with Bob Spawton (3:09:48), Nick Spice (3:19:14), Sandra Stuart (3:19:02), Steve Yarnold (3:21:58), Coralie Pearson (3:33:28) and Rachel Nolan (3:33:47) completing the Almosts team.

Several Almost Athletes opted to run the shorter 10k distance in the Cheltenham challenge, including Peter Mitchener, Olga Goffin, David Pilling, Sue Monaghan, Catherine Daly, Deb Cartlidge, Ed Turner, Helen Puerta Terron, Karen Hilton, Jo Johnston, Penny Byrne, Ann Dawson, Mark Stojanov and finally Naomi Daly, also celebrating her birthday. Well done all for running in these challenging conditions.

Further afield, Bedford 10k saw the Almosts represented by Matt Polson who completed the course in 42:21.

Team Almosts comprising Matthew Hampton, Malc Allen, Ali Sheikh, Debbie Minnett,and Mariel Chretien tackled the middle distance of the tough challenging Maverick race in Winchcombe. Matthew took men’s 3rd position in 1:28:52, followed by Malc (1:46:57), Debbie (2:00:37) and Mariel (2:22:24).

Vasco Barreto enjoyed the stunning trails and tracks of the Snowdonia National Park in the glorious summer weather, completing the marathon in 4:50:50. Ian and Hester Coggin managed to conquer the heat and the Malvern hills to complete the midsummer marathon. Mid-week, Michelle Balchin and Nicky Woodman covered marathon distances in 3:45:53 and 5:45:00 respectively at Dorney Lake.

In Austria, Ellie Millington and Colin Watkins competed in the Kitzbuehel European championships triathlon which they completed in 3:00:16 and 3:15:47 respectively. Congratulations both!

And finally, well done to Gareth Wilkes, Ben Kirby and Gemma Hargraves for their podium finishes in the latest race in the club handicap series on Monday evening.


Some epic distances were covered this weekend by purple crews of Almosts at the Comrades and Dartmoor Discovery Ultra marathons (as well as a number of shorter distances).

Husband and wife Mark and Anne-marie Willicott put all the hard training to the test in the Comrades Ultra marathon in Durban at the weekend.
Training for the race has consumed their lives since January and their dedication was rewarded. Mark completed the 86.73km in an incredible 8:56:08, while Anne-marie followed at 10:13.
Anne-marie commented after the race that this race did exactly what it says on the tin ‘it takes all of you’ and having had a bad fall at 6k into the race which she thought might force her to withdraw, admitted at the end she felt broken. Despite this she described the day as one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. Our congratulations to you both.

Dartmoor Discovery Ultra saw a team of purple Almosts not only conquer this very hard course but steal top prizes in the process. Matt Barnes was first back to take 1st vet 45 trophy at 4:32:13 and 20th overall, while Kim Mansell, new to the club took 2nd in hers at 5:33:23. Ingrid Harris (5:09:27) also took 2nd in her category while Fi Barnes cut a sizeable 13minutes off her personal best time finishing in 5:27:27. Together the ladies won 2nd team prize.

Described as a brutal event, but a lot of fun with one seriously massive climb and some very technical descents, a team of Almosts took on the challenge of the EXTREME Running Maverick in Snowdonia.
Deb Cartlidge completed the 17km course in 2:43.22 to come 5th overall, while Dave Rogers, Matt and Lepha Mccartan took on the 23kn route. Dave was first home in 2:58.17 and 5th overall out of 65, Matt came in not far behind at 3:03.27 (14th) and Lepha was the 6th lady home in 3:23.33 and 25th overall.  A massive well done.

Haiggy McHaig continues his countdown to 50 marathons in his 50th year by conquering the physical and mental challenge of the 99 Blue balloons marathon in Telford. Haiggy secured 3rd position by completing the marathon which comprised 0.89 mile loops in 4:27:59.

Locally, last Wednesday proved to be another great night of running by the Almosts at the Cleeve Cloud Cuckoo. Successes included 1st, 2nd, 4th & 6th ladies, Gemma Hargraves (34:42), Ellie Laney (36:51), Patricia Peever (39:32), Gemma Stevens (39:51), as well as the ladies’ team prize, while Josh Hand (34:16) was 8th man, Simon Jarvis (35:55) 15th and Dave Rogers (36:06) 16th. Add to that over 30 other Almosts participating, all in all, this was a winner.

Prash Kumar raced in ahead of Ellie at 36:41, while Matthew Hampton followed on her heels at 36:58. Nick Spice, Thomas Smith, Shaun Carr and Matt Proome all broke 40 minutes (37:59, 38:17, 38:25 and 39:23 respectively).

With Almost half of club runners crossing the finish line in the next few minutes  including  Michelle Balchin and Ingrid Harris placed 3rd in her age categories (Ross Greening 40:08, Martin Thomas 40:36, Mike Kennedy, 40:57, Vasco Barreto 41:03, Paul Thomas 41:08, Allan Green 42:01 (2nd in his category), Michelle Balchin 42:57, Ingrid Harris 43:34, Helen Fursman-Reid 43:43, Phil Jeyes 43:44, Jason Mather 44:31, Jason Mather 44:31, David Garnett 44:41, Jim Trowbridge 44:51, Vicky Kennedy 45:17, Nick Simon 45:46 and Lepha Mccartat 45:48).

Joanna Wisniewska-Barreto crossed the line in just over the 46minutes followed seconds later by Steve Wallbridge (46:14) and Mark Lyes (46:17). Clare Hearing, Rich Smith, Ben Kirby, Norm Lever, Kevin Richards and Mike Line all sub 50 (47:55, 48:01, 48:02, 48:06, 48:49 and 49:44).

Kate Freeman 50:19, Hayley Woolnough 50:59, Des Beer 51:12, Sheila Chatterley 51:18 (2nd and 3rd in category), Graham Philpott 51:27, Rhiannon Edwards 55:52, Deborah Elliott 54:14,Sarah Wallbridge 56:06, Nicola Woodman 56:32 and Adrian Courtenay 57:36 completed the Almosts team.

Closer to home Fairford 10k at the weekend saw the Almost Athletes represented by Matt Polson, first home for the team in 40:27, followed by Phil Jeyes in 48:24 with Andy Domm at 58:28, closely followed by Gareth Wilkes 59:16.

Further afield, Prash Kumar and Simon Jarvis competed in the charity off-road Smeathe's Ridge 10.5k Run for Spinal Injuries Association at Draycott Foliat in Wiltshire, while Robert Foord just sneaked in at 1:43:33 in the Flaming June half marathon near Cambridge to be 99th runner home and Martyn Fisher completed tow back to back events in the Lake District, the 17km Grasmere Gallop and Coniston half marathons.

This week has seen Almost Athletes almost everywhere covering a range of distances.

Congratulations to Doug Wight securing a stunning 9th place in the Meridian Ultra 100k in 7:51:25. Doug’s victory in Patrington East Yorkshire was secured against a very strong field of elite ultra England, Wales or Scotland runners participating in the British 100k Championships. A fantastic achievement.  Well done Doug!

Having recently joined the elite 100 Marathon club, Ingrid Harris proved she’s not resting on her laurels by running the undulating course of Stirling marathon in a very respectable 3:41:35.

Haiggy Haig continues his challenge of 50 marathons in his 50th year completing number 31on Saturday, the Shindig in the Shire marathon in Craven Arms, which he described as ‘amazing but tough’...‘Fantastic. Loved it’, Wife Kathy ran the half.

Haiggy went on to run no 32 at Worcester on Sunday in 4:21:37 finishing ahead of Norm Lever (4:45:48) and Coralie Pearson (5:12:13). Mike Kennedy was first full marathoner home for the Almosts in an impressive 3:30:37 with Allan Green crossing the line in 4:07:36.

Opting for the half marathon, Matt Proome continued his recent form to finish first man for the Almosts in 1:38:17, with Victoria Kennedy first lady (1:45:54). John Bailey wasn’t far behind at 1:49:37 with Mike Harris (1:55:03) and Rachel Nolan (2:24:29) completing the team.

Claire Gallagher decided to enjoy Chester half marathon running with the 2:30 pacers.

Further afield, Almost Athletes participated in two mountainous and stunningly scenic events in France. James Clay and Rachel Fargher ran the Trail de Queribus Aude trails half in the Pyrenees  and Alain Ensuque ran the equally hilly trail de La Font de Mai, in Aubagne in 1:52:28.

Closer to home and with seemingly no time to draw breath after a busy weekend it was a successful evening for over 60 Almost Athletes competing in the Berkeley 10k race on Monday.  Gemma Hargraves continued her winning form to seize first lady overall in 38:14 with a number of other club members achieving impressive personal best times despite the wind and rain, including Prash Kumar, Matt Polson, Catherine Mason, Deborah Elliott, Steve Wallbridge (last year at Berkeley), Penny Byrne and Sue Monaghan; Sarah Fennell and Darren Lewington both broke the hour, and Bob Spawton and Kate Houston broke their personal 20year records. Well done to all!

Simon Jarvis was first male home for the AAs in 38:54, with Prash Kumar and Richard Birch both finishing strongly sub 40 (39:18 and 39:28). Matthew Hampton, Matthew Polson and Dale Midwinter followed in quick succession (40:02, 40:21 and 40:41) with just seconds separating Mike Kennedy and Nick Spice (41:13 and 41:18). Amber Bullingham was 2nd lady to finish for the club in 42:13, with Matt Proome (42:36) hot on her heels ahead of Neil Tring (44:02) and Allan Green (44:14). Michelle Balchin finished 2nd in her age category (45:28) ahead of Victoria Kennedy who came 3rd in hers (46:04). Joe Harrison (46:14), Steve Wallbridge (46.17) and Dave Chittock (46.48) came in quick succession followed by Ingrid Harris 3rd in her age category (46:56) with Stacey Osmond on 47:19, and on 48mins Dan MacGovern (48:08), Dave Garnett (48:17), Jim Crowbridge (48:18), and Deb Cartlidge (48:48).

Racing over the finish in sub 50 were Rob Hume, Steve Adams, Duncan Mounsor and Kate Houston (49:12, 49:25, 49:39 and 49:59 respectively), ahead of Mohammed Shaikh on 50:43. Almosts were crossing the finish line in steady succession now - Dave Davey (51:14), Hayley Woolnough (51:28), Alison Hume (51:32), Bob Spawton (51:48) with Sarah Wallbridge and Mike Line not far behind (52:09) and (52:14) ahead of Neil Harris, Sue Monaghan, Trevor Richards and Catherine Mason (53:10, 53:19, 53:14 and 53:43). There was a short gap before the next group - Deborah Elliott (56:14), David Lawrence (56:11), Coralie Pearson (57:21), Sandra Stuart (57:35) and Bill Jones (57:44).

There was still a chance to cross the line under the hour and Andy Domm, Lucia Milone, Mark Eavers, Darren Lewington, Nicola Woodman, Jane Birch, Rachael and Ollie Nolan, Gareth Wilkes, and a cheeky Sarah Fennell took it (58:02, 58:25, 58:39, 58:38, 58:33, 59:34, 59:41, 59:42, 59:43 and 59:58 respectively).

Mary Welsh first in her age category in just over the hour (1:02:08) with, Fi Sewell (1:04:15), Jayne Adams (1:06:55), Penny Byrne (1:06:56), Jo Johnston (1:06:59), Cottia Howard (1:11:05), and Rob Rennell running his first ever 10k (1:15:19) ably supported by Claire Gallagher (1:12:37),  and finally wheelchair racer Danny Reeves  also competing in his first 10k race (1:13:51) completing the Almosts team.

Martyn Fisher represented the Almosts in Cambridgeshire, completing the hilly (and muddy) multi-terrain charity 10k around Wimpole Hall in 55:32 while Ray Pearson completed the British Heart Foundation Run around the Moat 10k at the Tower of London during the week.

Gemma Hargraves, not only completed the inaugural Firkin 5mile run round the Hook Norton brewery  with Lepha Mccartan and Dave Rogers, she stormed round to bag first lady home as well as the goody bag, beer and burger at the finish.

Although the full results have yet to be published, successes at the tough but enjoyable Northleach 10k race on Sunday included Nick Spice 8th man and Lucinda Hand 3rd lady. Deb Cartlidge, Dave Chittock, Jackie Slaughter and Mariel Chretien completed the Almosts team.

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.