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On a very wet Monday morning the 15th April, Almost Des Beer took part in the Boston, Massachusetts marathon in the USA.  She finished the race in 5:24, making it her fifth successful completion of the six World Majors, with just Tokyo still to go.

At the start of the weekend, Matt Polson had come home in 10th place out of a field of 599 runners at Cheltenham parkrun with a time of 18:40, whilst Hattie Jenkins was first Almost lady to finish in 21:21.  There was also a new PB for Peter Mitchener with 20:55.

There were several other excellent results in parkruns for members of Almost Athletes.  Ben Taylor was second in the Newent event with 21:21, and Lesley Cottle was 2nd lady at Gloucester North with 24:39.  Josh Hand came 5th in Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun with a time of 17:51, and in Gloucester City VI runner Rob Rennell achieved a new PB of 34:28, more than 30 seconds faster than his previous best time.

Members of Almost Athletes also took park in parkruns at Gloucester Kingsway, Haldon Forest, Hove Promenade, Marlborough Common, Richmond, Sandwell Valley, Seaton, Severn Bridge, Stewart Middlesbrough, Swindon and Wimpole Estate.

Despite the cold and windy conditions it was a busy Sunday for Almosts taking part in longer events, both in the UK and abroad.

The Chedworth 10 mile trail multi-terrain run was well attended with more than 30 Almosts taking part.  Hester Coggin was first Almost lady to finish in 1:27, closely followed three seconds later by Ingrid Harris, who was first in her age category.  Sophie Longely was third Almost lady with 1:29.  For the men, Matt Barnes stormed home in 1:13, followed by Richard Birch in 1:15 and Dale Midwinter in 1:21.

Slightly further afield, Steve Yarnold took part in the Great Birmingham Half and crossed the line in 2:05, and Christopher Benjamin ran the Droitwich Half in 2:04.

Coralie Pearson and Karla Cleverley travelled to Boston, Lincolnshire, to take part in their marathon and half marathon events. Pearson completed the marathon in 5:25, whilst Cleverley crossed the half finishing line in 2:59.

The Brighton Marathon took place on Sunday 14th and Shaun Carr was first Almost home in 3:12.  Matthew Hickman achieved a new PB with 3:18, whilst Paul Warren finished in 3:30.  Also running were Piotr Michalski (4:01), Deb Cartlidge (4:09), and Dave Chittock (4:28).  Sarah Carr completed her first run at this distance in 5:40.

Along with the marathon, Brighton also hosted a 10km race that was run by Charmaine Brunt in a time of 50:13, together with Dave and Iris Mayo, who finished in 52:22, and 1:06 respectively.

Down in Wales, Ian Coggin took part in the Pendine Sands 32 mile Ultra and finished second overall with a time of approximately six and a half hours.

Allan Green completed his latest marathon at the weekend – the 8 lap Groovy Baby event at Walton on Thames. He crossed the line in 5:18 together with Paul Haig. Haig was aiming to complete 10 marathons in as many days, with the Groovy Baby event his second of the weekend.

Over in France, Kate Plummer ran in Les Printemps de l’Héronnière, Deux Sèvres, 5.5km race, whilst Clare Sinnott finished the Paris marathon in a time of 4:12.

Back in the UK, Hannah Brown competed in the West Lancs Triathlon with a finish time of 1hr 24mins, while John Bailey and Dominic Lyes both completed the Hereford Duathlon.

Manchester marathon saw twenty-seven Almost Athletes travel North to kick off their Spring marathon season. Richard Birch was first Almost home in an impressive 3:08. Paul Warren followed  with a PB time of 3:17, then Ben Taylor in 3:24. Kim Mansell ran a speedy 3:28 to finish first Almost lady, Ingrid Harris was next in 3:41, and Jeanette Gullick gained a PB with 3:47. There were some stunning debut marathon performances. Danny Reeves only just made it to Manchester due to technical issues with his racing chair, and he stormed home in 3:41. Ben Stone completed his first marathon in 3:25, and Thomas Wood in 3:54. The flat, fast course lived up to its reputation for producing personal bests. Steve Wallbridge took 24 minutes off his time and broke the four hour barrier for the first time in 3.58. Hayley Woolnough slashed a huge 42 minutes off her PB to finish in 4:17. Hannah Brown dipped under 5 hours for the first time in 4:59, and there was a PB for Peter Mitchener with 3:47. Debbie Elliott ran a half-marathon PB, knocking 8 minutes from her time to finish in 2:09.

There were over twenty Almosts in action at Angels 10K in Ashleworth, the venue for the Gloucestershire Road Race County Championships. The club came away with the 1st Ladies Team prize, and there were some notable age category placings at the race, which is part of the AAA County Road Race Series. Matt Polson led the way in 39:52 to take second in the senior male age category. Ellie Laney-Bolton followed in 41:40, taking 3rd overall lady, and forming the winning ladies team with Amy Sheer (44:39 and 1st LV40) and Katie Coleman (45:36 and 2nd LV40). Sue Monaghan took 3rd LV60 in 57:39 and Gregg Woodman ran 49:10 for a PB.

In Winchcombe, Shaun Carr was 4th in 1:47 at the Maverick Inov-8 23km race from Sudeley Castle. Also completing the distance were Lepha McCartan (2:39), Oliver Clarkin (2:41) and Mariel Chretien (3:12). Michael Combellack, Jenny Combellack and Andrea Hardy took on the 16km distance and completed the hilly off-road course in 1:39, 1:42 and 2:12 respectively.

Jackie Slaughter tackled the tough Testway 50 Ultra trail, racing across Hampshire against the clock, and finishing comfortably with the fourteen hour cut-off in a time of 13:08. Jack Goodwin took on his first 50 mile ultra at the South Downs Way 50, finishing in 10:29.

Anne-Marie Willicott was in action at Taunton Marathon, and completed the very hilly course in 3:47 to finish 2nd in the LV50 category. Mark Willicott also ran and finished in 3:36. Allan Green added the Bettshanger Marathon to his impressive tally, finishing in 5:27. Meanwhile Karla Cleverley added yet another trip to her half-marathon tourism, with Berlin Half Marathon in 3:12.

Mark Stojanov, Nicole Hope and Rita Crane ran the multi-terrain Scenic Six in Peopleton, Worcester, with Stojanov running his fastest off-road race to date in 1:10.

At Cheltenham parkrun over 40 Almosts turned out to witness Dave Chittock and Simon Gomersall don centurion helmets and capes for their 100th parkrun. Phillip Jukes was first Almost to cross the line with a PB time of 19:32 and Hattie Jenkins was 3rd lady in 22.13. Hester Coggin was 2nd lady at Gloucester City in 23:38, and the club also had local runners at Gloucester North and Kingsway. There was parkrun tourism for Danny Carroll at Oxford, Mike Bryce at Worcester, Clare Hawes at Exmouth, and Matthew Bevan at Woolacombe Dunes.  Malc Smith and Rachel Fargher ran at Lancing Beach Green, Patricia Peever and Kev Dendy ran at Stratford, while Stretford parkrun, Manchester, served as a pre-marathon warm up for Sarah Fennell, Claire Gallagher, Beverley Nolan, Ollie Nolan and Rachael Nolan.

Congratulations were due this weekend to Matt Polson who completed his 100th parkrun at Cheltenham by equalling his PB of 18:33 and coming 7th overall.  Josh Hand came 5th in the same event with 18:19, and Eleanor Laney was 1st lady with 20:10.  There was also a new PB for Peter Hooper with a time of 23:04 and for Jane Russell with 29:00.

In Gloucester City parkrun another milestone was marked by Beverley Nolan who achieved her 50th parkrun. Lesley Cottle was 2nd lady to finish in Gloucester North with a time of 24:29 and Lynne Macedo was 2nd in her age group at Stanley Park, Blackpool.

Members of Almost Athletes also took park in parkruns at Arrow Valley, Cirencester, Churchfields Farm, Chipping Sodbury, Exmouth, Forest of Dean, Kings Lynn, Newent, Pocket St Neots, Tewkesbury, Tychy in Poland and Worcester. Kev Fairs and his daughter ran the junior parkrun in Wimpole with a time of 15:30.

On Sunday 31st March, a group of Almosts took part in the Cleevewold 14 mile race at Winchcombe. Despite the challenges of this hilly, multi-terrain course, there was an excellent result for Shaun Carr who was 8th overall and 1st in his age group with a time of 1:49.  Nick Spice was next Almost to finish in 2:16, closely followed by Simon Jarvis in 2:17 and Paul Wilkins in 2:19.  Patricia Peever was first Almost lady with 2:18, whilst Hester Coggin was home in 2:19.  Also running were Steve Taylor with 2:25, Mike Kennedy 2:30, Sarah Roberts and Debbie Minett 2:34, Karen Hilton 2:35, Victoria Kennedy 2:48, and Gail Wilkins and Maisie Markham at 2:52.

The Cardiff Bay 10km race took place on Sunday 31st with Nicole Hope coming home in 57:24 and Wan Hartley in 59:54. Hannah Brown also took part in the Bicester Triathlon.

A special mention is due for Almost member Paul Haig, who completed an astonishing 220km cross-country skiing event in Norway this weekend with a time of 28 hours and 23 mins.

Earlier in the week on Thursday 28th March Allan Green ran another marathon at Dinton Pastures Country Park in Reading. He finished the 8 lap course in 5:14. On the same day Nikki Durnell took park in the Rogue Runs Off-Road Night Race of 5 miles at Chepstow Park Woods, and achieved a time of 45:56.

With several Almost Athletes preparing for spring marathons, over fifty club members flocked to the region’s 20 mile races this week. Despite challenging and windy conditions, there were some impressive results at the Fission 20 mile race, Berkeley. The men’s team took third place, with Martin Foster leading the way for the club in 2:19. Matthew Hickman followed in 2:22, then Matt Barnes and Robert Dalton-Morris in 2:31. The ladies went one better, achieving second placed team with Kim Mansell first home with a PB in 2:41. Michelle Balchin was close behind in 2.43, and completing the team were Miranda Foster, PB 2:44, and Jeanette Gullick, PB 2:45. There were also PBs for Peter Mitchener (2:45), Anne-Marie Willicott (2:49), Mark Lyes (2:57), Lorraine Taylor (3:01), Clare Hearing (3:02), and Hannah Brown (3:38). Completing the distance for the first time were Richard Knightley (3:06), Maddie Page (3:25), Natalie Pluck (3:40), Oliver Clarkin (3:53) and Sarah Carr (4:00). Glenda Gill was pleased to finish in 3:30 after a long break from the 20 mile distance. Runners were cheered around the course by a crowd of Almost volunteers, who showed endless enthusiasm as they marshalled and manned water stations for hours in the strong gales.

In the Fission 20km event, Matt Polson stormed home in 1:23, taking 4th place overall. He was followed by Dave Mayo in 1:56, Alison Hume in 1:57, Dominic Lyes in 2:00, and Iris Mayo in her first 20k, 2:25.

At Gloucester 20 mile race, Richard Birch was the first Almost to finish in a rapid 2:15. Next was Shaun Carr with a PB in 2:19, then Hattie Jenkins in 2:22 and Ross Greening in 2.36. There were PBs for Amy Sheer (2:39), Mike Daly (2:42 and 3rd in his age category), Catherine Daly (2:50) and Natalie Greening (3:00). Also running were Kieran Keating (2:42), Dave Chittock (3:00), Steve Wallbridge and Hayleigh Woolnough (3:10), Sharmila Door (3.48), Alison Gregg (3:52) and Jane Birch (4:09).

Allan Green continues to add to his impressive marathon tally with the Enigma Running Week at the Knees Marathon (5:03) and Wrexham marathon (5:24). Also battling through floodwaters at Wrexham was Ingrid Harris, who took 3rd in her age category in 3:49.

Ellie Laney-Bolton and Jamie Courtenay completed the popular Bath Half Marathon. Laney-Bolton finished in a swift 1:29, narrowly missing a PB. Courtenay finished in 1:39. Gemma Stevens ran the Reading Half Marathon in 1:54.

There was the usual strong Almost presence at local parkruns, with runners at Cheltenham, Gloucester City and Tewkesbury. Hester Coggin was 6th lady at Kingsway, and Jo Foster 8th lady at Gloucester North. There was tourism for Kim Davenport and Darren Lewington at Southend, Kasha Price at Poole, Matthew Bevan at Upton Court and Phillip Jukes at Kingsbury Water. Peter Jones ran at Stretford, Mike Bryce at Chipping Sodbury, Claire Hawes at Exmouth, and Danny Carroll at Haldon Forest. 

Extreme winds and heavy rain made racing conditions a challenge over the second weekend in March. Nevertheless, members of Almost Athletes successfully competed in a number of different events, both home and abroad.

Six Almosts took part in the Minchinhampton 10km event on Sunday, with Michael Harris the first Almost to finish in 46:39.  Pete Blakeman came home in 50:02, Jenny Combellack in 50:47, David Garnett in 51:50, Philip Withers in 57:52 and Adrian Courtenay in 1:08.

Martyn Fisher ran a very muddy Harpenden Half Marathon in 1:56, whilst Julianne Jameson completed the Draycote Water Half in 2:06.

Three Almosts – Karla Cleverley, Steve and Helen Yarnold - travelled to France to take part in the Paris Half Marathon. Despite the French authorities removing signage before the end of the race, they crossed the line together in 3:12.

Ingrid Harris came home as 3rd lady overall and 1st in her age group at the Larmer Tree Marathon in the Wiltshire Downs with a time on 4:21, whilst Helen Fursman Reid ran the 20 mile event in 3:38.

Allan Green notched up another marathon by completing the Thames Meander Trail event in 5:19, whilst Alan Mercer ran an incredible 90 miles in the Bath Combe Down Tunnel Ultra – the longest underground race in Europe.

At Cheltenham parkrun there were top ten finishes for both Matt Polson and Shaun Carr. Polson came fifth in 19:04 and Carr was 10th in 19:37.

Ben Taylor came second in the Newent parkrun with a time of 21:16 and Chris McMahon got a new course PB at Gloucester City with 23:30.

The sun was shining in Bourton on the Water, as over 70 Almost Athletes competed in the popular Bourton 10k race, famous for its fast and flat course. There were PBs aplenty, with winter training and marathon preparation paying dividends for several Almosts. First Almost across the line was Matt Polson, shaving over a minute off his PB to finish in an impressive 36:56. Next home was Simon Jarvis, also with a PB in 37:21. He was followed by Martin Foster (37:37), and Nick Lewis (38:00). Shaun Carr goes from strength to strength, knocking 3 minutes off last year's time in 38:58. Helena Youde was first Almost lady home in 39:33, followed by Hattie Jenkins in 40:15. Jeanette Gullick ran 42:51 to gain a PB and finish 3rd in the FV50 category. There were age category wins for Karen Galpin with 45:41 (FV55) and Sheila Chatterley with 54:43 (FV65). The race also brought PBs for Phillip Jukes (40:03), Robert Dalton Morris (42:05), Piotr Michalski (42:24), Richard Knightley (47:14), Louise Bryan (47:25), Gregg Woodman (49:46), Natalie Pluck (53:24), Nikki Durnell (56:11), Deborah Elliott (56:15), Wan Hartley (56:37), Hannah Brown (56:53), Sue Monaghan (56:54) and Iris Mayo (65:10). The event marked Ollie Nolan’s return to racing, just two months after surgery to remove a brain tumour. He crossed the finish line in a remarkable 70:59. Also making a comeback following surgery was Seth Gilbert (71:42).

Elsewhere, Josh Hand was in incredible form at Wokingham Half Marathon, flying around the course in 1:18 and finishing in the top 100.
Ingrid Harris and Allan Green were in action at the 100 Club AGM Marathon, Staffordshire. Harris completed the eight lap course in 3:48, followed by Green in 5:31.

John Bailey and Paul Turner travelled to the Peopleton Duathlon in Worcestershire, where fog saw the cycle stage being cancelled.  They finished their running events in 49:35 and 34:34 respectively.

Andrew Wilkinson was also defeated by the weather as he waved goodbye to Cheltenham and set off for Malta. His plans to tackle the Malta Marathon on arrival in his new home were thwarted as wind and rain saw the event called off.

There was the usual strong Almost presence at parkruns across the region. Shaun Carr was 9th at Cheltenham (19:30), Jeanette Gullick was 4th lady (21:43) and Helena Youde was 8th lady (22:36). There were celebrations at Gloucester City’s first birthday event where Christopher Benjamin was awarded for his enthusiastic volunteering. Meanwhile, Charmaine Brunt ran 24:25 to finish 7th lady. Kingsway saw Hester Coggin take 4th lady (22:47) and Ben Taylor finish 10th (19:38). Josh Hand was 10th at Tewkesbury (24:19) and Lousie Inchley took 5th lady at Minehead (27:03).

Further afield, Rachel Fargher, Malc Smith, Janine Bennett and Kate Freeman travelled to Severn Bridge. Rich Smith was at Burnham and Highbridge, Joanne Wisniewska Barretto and Vasco Barretto at Worcester Pitchcroft, Danny Carroll at Churchfields Farm, and Bill Jones at Swindon. There was also tourism for Piotr Michalski at Briston Eastville, Martyn Fisher at Market Rasen, Mike Bryce at Henley Wood, David Nelson at Strathclyde, Robert Foord at Stretford and Phil Jeyes at Bideford.