We pride ourselves on being the kind of club that can help and encourage you to get the most out of your running - whether your interest is running for fun, getting fit, or training for anything from a 5K race to a marathon or even an ultra. We can help you achieve your aims.
Anyone is welcome to come along to our training sessions and run, regardless of age or ability - we have groups for everyone so you don't have to run alone and you won't get left behind.
We organise evening runs and weekend runs - both on and off road - and training sessions. Come along on a Wednesday night and see for yourself!
Almost Athletes has been running since 1988, welcoming runners of all abilities and providing not only guided training runs but also a lively social calendar. With a current membership in excess of 400, Almost Athletes really is Cheltenham's biggest and friendliest running club!
May and June have continued at a pace for Almost Athletes’ runners and with combinations of solo and social distanced runs being undertaken, this report will be focusing on the wide variety of different places that members have been visiting, plus some excellent individual achievements. We asked for “favourite routes” as a theme and the club’s Facebook page has been awash with idyllic pictures, inspiring stories and motivational messages.
Despite the obvious lack of organised races right now, we have seen a number of club runners take on virtual challenges and Kev Fairs and Wan Hartley led the way, earning a Trimax Virtual Medal and the “Cotswold Warrior” title for their 10 mile, Cleeve Hill efforts. Ingrid Harris also did the Trimax 14, picking up the “Immortal Sinner” medal as a reward.
David Garnett completed his first ever half marathon distance at the end of May and took in a great route. He completed the distance via Charlton Kings, Colgate Farm and Cleeve Hill and braved the warm conditions for 13.1 miles. Well done David! Also taking on the hills recently was Richard Knightley – doing the “10 Mile Twister Virtual Race” – where you take a minute off your time for every 25 metres of elevation you gain. Richard managed a great net effort of 70 minutes and the intensity level was increased by the fact he ran in torrential rain.
As a club, the highlights of the last few months have included sharing ideas for places to go for a run and there has been a real sense of reconnecting with why we all love this sport so much. Claire Hawes recommended running through Hartley Farm, where the larks have been in impressive voice. Jason Hulance shared some amazing images of Cheltenham’s murals and highlighted why Pittville Park is such a fun route to run. Karen Gomm’s dogs Bradley and Geoffrey looked like they enjoyed a run up Aggs Hill and Prestbury and Adrian Courtenay evoked memories of the club’s winter routes when he walked 10 miles of the Cotswolds Way.
We have had a number of members really embrace lockdown and get out and run some super distances. In May a number of Almosts reported some fantastic totals including: Shaun Carr (amazingly running the height of Everest in the month of May – 29,029ft and 137 miles), Melvyn Harris (60 miles in May being his best total for over 5 years), Ashley Stevens (ran 125 miles and walked 100 miles!) and Sarah Carr (ran 100 miles using #raceatyourpace as motivation).
The last few weeks have, of course, seen more events cancelled, but Almost Athletes haven’t let that bother them! Well done to Kerry Knowles who was supposed to be running the Race for Life 10k on 7th June, but with the event called off, went out and completed her first sub 1 hour time over that same distance. Mark Stojanov was in a similar mood and with the Cirencester Summer Sizzler off, he marked the occasion with his longest walk of the year, to the Severn Ham in Tewkesbury.
There really have been good news stories galore of late and Rob Rennell ran his longest ever run on a treadmill in early June – an astonishing 9.5 miles! It is also good to hear that when club runs can resume in the future, Pete Mitchener will still be leading the way, he has completed some solo runs of club routes and his pacing is as on point as ever.
These reports continue to provide a small showcase into the wide range of activities that our members undertake. It is really heartening to see how everyone has carried on, undeterred by a difficult few months, and it is evident that getting out running has really helped. With 3k challenges nearly concluding, there will be plenty more to write about next time, and the stories continue to tell themselves. Do keep them coming in!
As the social distancing measures continue, members of Almost Athletes continue to find enjoyable and interesting ways to keep running and motivated.
Many of you are still working your way through the Bingo challenge, with the ‘sunrise run’ and ‘finding your name run’ proving particularly popular during the past week. Sue Monaghan, Claire Hawes and Forrest Wheeler all completed the sunrise challenge and posted some beautiful photographs, whilst Mary Welsh found a creative way of combining a photo from the 2019 Linda Franks with a street sign from Bellshill in Scotland to complete her personal Name Sign challenge.
Ian Coggin felt it would be difficult for him to complete many of the Bingo squares due to where he lives, so has turned to the countryside for a different kind of inspiration. So far, he has provided us with a ‘moo-ving’ image of cows and his latest offering of himself with a flock of ewes and wearing a ‘sheepish grin’!
The 80s music challenge continued to attract several of you, particularly Pete Mitchener and Steve Taylor who provided some very witty postings, whilst Bob Spawton contributed with a tribute to his personal 80s idol Prince.
Claire Hawes’ suggestion of finding flowers in club colours has proved popular with lots of you sending in photographs, including Felicity Broom, Cottia Howard, Peter Allsopp, Lisa King, Vikki, Waring, Alice Harmon and Jane Russell.
The next major challenge as suggested by Glenda Gill will be the Treasure Hunt. Members can be as literal or creative as they like in interpreting each of the clues and then posting a photograph accordingly. The five things to look out for until the 31st of May are as follows:
2. A music connection
4. A reflection in water
Apart from the club challenges, several members have found other ways to keep themselves inspired. Adrian Courteney successfully completed the Hadrian’s Wall challenge of running 90 miles, and Mark Stojanov finished a half marathon in Tewkesbury with a time of 2hrs 39mins. Meanwhile Rob Rennell has clocked up more than 192km on his treadmill over the past five weeks.
Wednesday 20th April was Jane Wood Rackham’s birthday and she decided to mark the occasion by running the first of five ultra-marathons in five days on the dates that we would have been hosting The Forces March – an event that she completed back in 2015 with her friend Anne-Marie Willicott.
Away from running, it was also our Chair’s birthday during the past week, so happy birthday once again Claire, and thanks for helping to keep us all inspired.
Jo Johnson took on the 10 Day Life is Good challenge and has been posting a new photograph each day and nominating somebody else to take on the challenge. Her final photograph appeared this morning.
Melvyn Harris undertook a skinny dip to raise money for MIND, whilst Hannah Brown enjoyed her first day back in Lake 86 for some open water swimming – but presumably in a wetsuit!
Meanwhile, Dave Chittock has been extolling the virtues of Orwell’s Animal Farm as a top read during the lockdown and rashly announced plans to tackle 1984 next, and Jason Hulance submitted a question to the Great Big Parkrun Quiz.
Finally, another round of best wishes is due to Prash Sripathi and his wife Kavya who welcomed their beautiful baby daughter into the world on 16th May.
Once again, members of Almost Athletes have continued to find inspirational and imaginative ways to keep running and to keep both themselves, and others, motivated in these difficult times
Keep safe and keep running everyone.