Exe-rated runners!

Exe-rated runners!
The successful Harriers team, en masse, at the Erme Valley Relays, July 2013

Friday, 4 July 2014

Announcement re. future of the blog

Dear loyal Ex-rated blog readers. Please read this following announcement regarding the future of the blog.

It is with much reluctance that, after over 3 years of keeping this blog for the Harriers, that I am going to have to bring it to an end. Due to a change in my work and personal circumstances, I just do not have time to keep it updated, and certainly not to the standard that I have done it in the past. Most of the posts take a good hour, at least, to research and compile and I do not have this time available each evening now to do it justice.

If anyone in the club would like to take it over then I would love to hear from you. You can make it your own and change the style / format of the posts, just post a results summary and some highlights, or just photos - whatever.

However, if nobody comes forward, the plan B is to use the Harriers facebook page to share information and stories about your running experiences, either training, competitive, personal challenge or otherwise. This seems to be the most popular portal for communication in the club these days and so we may as well make use of it. Post about something you've done or post about something you know someone else in the club has done; let everyone know! And don't be afraid of blowing your own trumpet: if we all share our achievements, nobody will standout.

Hopefully we can get a good dialogue going on there and share all our running experiences and that will go someway to fill the gap left by the blog.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past few years and contributed the occasional article: Terry, Carly, Les, and mostly thanks to Dave Eveleigh who I could always rely on for a copy and paste from his press reports on occasions when I didn't have the time to compose my own report!

Keep on runnin' everyone!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Harriers females are dashing!

Well, that was never in question, right?! But what I should perhaps qualify that statement with is that on Thursday 5th June, they were not simply dashing, but 'Dawlish Dashing', as they took part in the 4 mile multi-terrain Dawlish Coastal Dash race.

Although Exmouth looks almost touchable from the end of the course, a trip up and then back down river was necessary for the participants who line up at Dawlish Warren for a 1 mile leg stretch along the beach, hurdling over and ducking under approximately 20 wooden groynes as they work their way along.... and then doing the same as they turn around and come all the way back again. From here the run continues on along the sea front - thankfully opened just this week, Network Rail kindly adhering to their promise to have the storm-damaged sea wall repaired in time for the race. Runners then cross the railway footbridge just before they reach Dawlish town centre and return to the Warren along the cliff top path.

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the only Harrier entered under the Harrier's name, but several Harribelles (Harriers who also run as Exmouth Belles) were out en masse in their red racing vests.

I had a good race against some quality competition in the form of Tiverton's Serane Stone and Teignbidge's Helen Anthony, but managed to use the off-road beach section to my advantage to forge an early gap on the road specialists behind me, which, at a race of this short distance, was good enough to see me home to the finish as first lady. I was pleasantly surprised by my time of 24:19, which was 1 minute up on my 2012 time - the only other time I've done this event. So the fitness is coming back.... slowly! Pleased with the prize too - a meal voucher for 2, with drinks, at the Mount Pleasant Inn (the race sponsor). I might treat Matt for a change! ;-)

The Harribelles also had some great runs between them, with many of them seeing a vast improvement on their times from when they ran this event last year.

Susan Hill brought them home in 29:53, carving almost 2 minutes off last year's time and this despite going up an age category to the FV55 section: a great run for Susan who keeps getting better and better.

Lorraine Kirby ran 32:00 to finish inside the top two thirds of finishers and, overall, there were some strong runs and course bests from the 9 members of the Running Belles who raced.

144 finishers. The race was won, for about the 6th time running(!), by Torbay's Pete Monaghan, in 21:14.

The Dawlish Dashers, making their way along the Warren beach, with Exmouth in the background.

Inter-club battles spice up Run Exe 5k

A bit of friendly competition can go a long way to bringing out the best performances in an athlete. When club bragging rights are in question, the stakes are raised even higher, meaning you can sometimes dig just that little bit deeper still to pull a good performance out of the bag. That is certainly true of our 7 Harriers who lined up for the June Round of the Run Exe 5k, organised by Iron Bridge Runners, and this time incorporating the InStep Devon Championships. Of those 7 runners, 6 were involved in a two-way tussle with a club mate for a down-to-the-wire finish.

The first little mini-battle came from Mike Musgrove and Pete Fletcher. This wasn't the first little duel for these two, merely a continuation of a friendly rivalry initiated at the Hope 24 relays, where they - along with men's captain Adam Miller - tussled for the fastest leg time. The rivallry continued at club nights and spilled into the 1 mile time-trial and was consolidated via a new game that they are all playing on Strava whereby you go out and aim to beat other peoples' times at various courses they have set up and recorded on the website. So, ding-ding, seconds out, round 4.... On this occasion, Mike had that little bit more strength-endurance required for the 5k and took Pete's scalp as pay back for Pete beating him at the shorter, more explosive, 1 mile time trial the previous week. Mike finished in 9th place on a time of 17:17, taking top honours in the MV45 section, just 3 seconds ahead of him namesake and category rival, Mike Feighan, from SWRR. Pete finished just 1 second adrift in a very pleasing 17:18, chopping a whopping 31 seconds off his time from last month: a sign of his fast improvement and of greater things to come perhaps? Watch out Mike!

A short way behind this tussling pair came the equally closely locked duo of Jon Garrity and Chris Dupain. On paper Jon would appear to be the fastest, but Chris has been on a massive improvement curve over the past year and showing a particular strength in the 5k distance, so it was really either runner's victory for the taking. On the night, Jon's stamina won out over Chris' speed and he stole the advantage in the final lap, finishing in 14th place overall, as 4th MV40, in 18:27, a mere 4 seconds ahead of Chris who clocked a fine 18:31 for 15th place.

Sandwiched and somewhat isolated in the middle of all these mini-battles was the ever consistent Andy Johnson. Doing his own thing and continuing to pace himself well (as well he might as he has done so many of these Run Exe 5k runs now he must now every pothole and divot on the course!) he ran yet another 20 minute time (20:32) for 45th spot.

Our final battle of the night was for the honours in the MV70 section. There were just two athletes vying for the top spot in this category and both of them were Harriers. In the end, Mike Keep's storming PB run of 24:52 for 77th place overall proved to be just too hot a pace for his team mate and rival, Les Turner, to live with. Les though still had a solid run himself to clock 28:35 for 89th overall, only 1 minute slower than the times he was clocking for the distance 4 years ago when he was a youthful 66 years old!!

Well done to all the guys (no female representation, we'll have to do something about that next round!).

Check the InStep Devon Championship webpage at the start of next week to see how this has effected your standings in the competition! http://www.instepdevon.org.uk/instep-championship.html

Monday, 2 June 2014

It's quality, not quantity for the Harriers May bank holiday weekend

There was limited competitive activity from Exmouth Harriers over the Bank Holiday week-end: perhaps most members are still recovering from running in the region of 40 miles in one weekend at the Hope 24 two weeks ago?! However, whilst we were poorly represented in numbers at events across the region, we, as always, managed to make our presence felt in terms of quality.

Most of the weekend action took place at opposite ends of the compass, with Harriers competing at events in Plymouth and Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Marathon

Up in Edinburgh, two club members - Jamie Palmer and Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan - were taking on the mighty challenge of the marathon distance. The the ever popular event forms part of a weekend long running festival, held each year on May Bank Holiday weekend, in the Scottish capital. Traditionally this race has been struck by soaring temperatures, so thankfully, a rather balmy but semi-overcast day greeted the participants this year as they made their way along the course that starts and finishes in Hollyrood Park, near St. Arthur's Seat.

Both our guys had pre-race targets that they wanted to achieve; for Jamie, it was it first ever marathon (hard to believe, given his vast experience and years of running, but true), and for Scott, his second, and so he was looking to build upon his previous time of 3:34, run in London in 2012.

For some reason, the organisers have opted to protect people's personal details by not publishing a full list of results this year, so we don't know Jamie and Scott's official chip to chip times, however, they are in the region of 3h10 for Jamie (he was hoping for close to 3 hours and so, for a first attempt at this distance and on the back of a winter of disrupted training following a nasty fall whilst running on Woodbury Common), this is extremely encouraging and shows the promise of a sub 3h clocking in the near future.

Scott was aiming to just duck under 3h30 and, we hear, ever so narrowly missed this, his time approximately 3h31. Still a great effort and showing that our 2 Trigs is just as at home on the roads as he is grinding out a rhythm uphill, in the mud on our Devonshire cliffs!

Devon County Track and Field Championships, Plymouth

Perhaps the enforced change of venue for this year's championships, following the recent temporary closure of the Exeter track, meant that we had less members competing at this year's county championships, held on the track at Brickfields Arena, Plymouth. Nevertheless, for those who did opt to trek off down the A38 on bank holiday Sunday, the journey proved worthwhile, as all three members came away with medals, PBs and/or SBs.

Second claim member, Tom Merson, stormed to unchallenged victories in both the 3000m (8:49:99) and 1500m (around 4:13:89). 

Adam Miller, always keen to have a crack at new events and distances and to lead by example in his role as men's team captain, took on his first Senior 1500m race. Inexperienced at this distance - indeed, at track events as a whole - Adam ran a very astute and tactically clever race to cross the line in silver medal position (behind Tom) in 4:25:43. With Merson disappearing into the distance, half-a-dozen other men were left to battle it out for the silver. Adam positioned himself well in the chasing pack and pushed himself to the limit down the home straight to finish second, also picking up an Over 35 Men’s Gold. 

In a mixed 3000m race, Dave Eveleigh was towards the back of the field but had a really good battle with local category rival, David Phillips from SWRR, for the spoils in the over 60s men section. Although he narrowly missed out on the gold, Dave was thrilled with his time - an excellent 11:59:35: a time which eclipses most of the times he ran for this distance when he was in the vet 55 category. The time was well inside the 13 minutes standard which entitled him to collect his well deserved silver medal, even against limited opposition.

Muskies Madne5.5, Plymouth

Nope, not a typo, that is 5.5 that you read in the title of this race which also gives away it's distance: 5.5 miles. I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the lone Harrier representative at this multi-terrain race, held on the Saturday evening from King's Tamerton, on the outskirts of Plymouth. Billed as a trail race, the run was unfortunately only 1 part trail to 2 parts Plymouth housing estate. Had I have known this, I probs wouldn't have made the trip down there. Nonetheless, it was a well organised race by the Plymouth Muskateers (you know, the ones who wear those lovely turquoise running vests?!) and I had a good race, having a really competitive tussle with 4 other females for the top three spots. In the end, I finished 2nd lady, just 10 seconds behind first, and having been given a confidence boost that my calf can now handle fast descents on tarmac: good to know!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Harriers super-vets are national champions!

The stars of the weekend of the 17th / 18th May were our super-vet super-heroes, our spritely vet 75 year olds. Three of these lads, along with their comparatively "young" vet 65 counterparts, travelled to Sutton Park, just north of Birmingham, to participate in the national veterans road relays.

Male competitors of age 65 and over competed in the same race as the females, which was held over a 3 mile circuit, which each member completed once. Our vet 75 guys acquitted themselves superbly, coming away with the gold medal for the team event and with Ray picking up a silver for the second fastest leg of the day in his age category. The boys even got themselves a mention in 'Athletics Weekly', where, the article reports, that the runners-up, Bingley Harriers, are gunning for them next year and will be trying to promote themselves from silver to gold: best get training now then guys to make sure that doesn't happen and the medal once again heads south and not north!!

Thanks to Les Turner for the following fantastic report on a day of stellar performances and great team spirit from our super-vets.

On a beautiful day the only thing hotter than the blazing sun was the performance of Exmouth Harriers' Super Vet Over-75 team. Once again the magnificent trio of Ray Elston, John Perratt and Mick Allen succeeded in raising their game and repeated their gold medal-winning triumph of 2009.

Elston is back running after a cycle accident last year and Perratt has been coping with serious illness. Despite this, Elston established a massive 1st stage lead of 19:29 with his time of 23:40 and Perratt conceded just 1 minute and 25 seconds of this when he recorded 25:05. Finally, Allen’s time of 25:37 allowed Bingley Harriers’ Fred Gibbs, the fastest man in this age group, to pull back just 3:01. This team total of only 74:22 meant that Exmouth Harriers had beaten runners up Bingley Harriers by over 15 minutes – a stunning performance! Congratulations to all three on their overwhelming victory; the older they get, the tougher they get! Elston’s time was also good enough to earn a silver medal for the 2nd equal best individual performance in this age category. So well done again, Ray!

On to Exmouth’s lesser “young pretenders”, the Over-65 team of Les Turner, Roger Rowe and John Reader. With an average age of 70, they were conceding significantly more years to many of their younger rivals. Despite this, however, they managed to finish 14th out of the 19 teams in their highly competitive group. Turner completed the first leg in 2:39; Rowe’s time of 23:38 was excellent for a man with serious knee problems and Reader’s anchor leg of 26:53 another runner returning from injury was a very encouraging debut for this "promising youngster”. The team total of 78:10 seconds, though inferior to that of their illustrious seniors, was not without some merit.

Many thanks go to former Exmouth Harrier Mandy Marvin for travelling all the way from Cambridge to support the teams. They also go to official photographer and cake provider, Mary Rowe, for her unfailing support, once again.

Both the over 65 and the over 70 teams at the relays: all apart from Roger, the guys are all 70 plus. They are the the proof that age really is no barrier to running competitively!

Our gold medal winning vet 75 team: Mick Allen, Ray Elston and John Parrett.

P.S. Not too sure why the yellow shirts and not the standard issue blue - must be an age thing ;-)

Harriers go all night long at Hope 24

On the weekend of the 10th and 11th of May, no less than 26 Exmouth Harriers were down in Newham Park, in Plympton, to take part in a new event that was also an all-new concept to club members too. The Hope 24 relay, as the number in the title suggests, is a 24 hour event in which competitors may compete in teams of 8, 5, 3, as a pair or, for the utter-nutters out there, as a solo entrant, and the objective is to run as far as you can within a 24 hour period.

The event followed a testing, hilly, off-road, 5 mile loop around Newham Park. Steep climbs, exposed fields, wooded bluebell-lined paths, stream crossings and a lot of mud all had to be negotiated over the 5 mile circuit.... and then negotiated again... and again... and again. For some of our team members, as many as 9 laps were completed over the course of the event, which began at midday on the Saturday and continued all throughout the night to finish at midday on the Sunday.

The idea to support Hope 24 came from men's team captain, Adam Miller, many months ago. Some of our local running friends, including second claim Harrier, Tom Merson, had already taken part in a 24 hour relay race organised by Adidas, called the 24 hour Thunder Run, last summer. The concept of going en masse, as a club, camping over and doing something that would generate real team spirit and cameraderie proved to be a popular one with our members and so, within no time at all, Adam had signed up 4 teams: 2 teams of 8 runners and 2 teams of 5. Inevitably, as time drew nearer, injuries and other committments meant that a few last minute team changes had to happen, and so thank you and well done to Adam for managing to get 4 full, (relatively!) injury-free teams down to the race on the weekend.

Hope for Children supports orphaned, poor and exploited children in both the UK and developing countries. The event was primarily a charity one and so no prizes were awarded for the top teams; however, that did not deter the Exmouth contingent from being competitive in their respective categories and we certainly made our presence felt in the top half of the leader board.

Our “Famous Five” team, captained by Adam, managed to complete an impressive total of 38 laps (equivalent of 190 miles) over the 24 hours to finish first overall, beating many teams of 8 in the process. This team was composed of Hannah Bown (its lone female representative, holding her own with the guys!), Pete Fletcher, Hugh Marsden (a last minute swap from a team of 8 as Tony Hatchard had to withdraw due to injury - so thanks Hugh!), Adam Miller and Mike Musgrove.

In 4th place overall and second in the teams of 8 category was the “Exmouth Excellent Eight”. This team was made up of Chris Dupain, Rebecca Fagg, Jon Garrity, Sarah Jackman, Cathy Newman, Richard Pyle, Ellie Sutcliffe and Emma White. Between use out team completed 34 laps (170 miles), although, in reality, we actually did one extra lap and 5 miles more than this as one of our change overs seems to have been missed.

In 6th place overall was our second team of 5 runners: the “Almost Famous Five”, who completed a mighty impressive 31 laps (155 miles), on very little or no sleep; team members being, Lisa Hatchard (like Hannah, the only female in the team), Scott Jordan (using this as a last long training run before the Edinburgh Marathon in 2 weeks time), Bob Keast, Terry Oldham and Ben White.

Our other team of 8 chalked up 28 laps between them - the equivalent of 140 miles - to finish 13th overall. This octet, the “Equally  Excellent Eight” consisted of Nigel Dupain, Lorraine Gilson,  Joan and Stan Mason, Alison Milborrow, Carly Miller, Dawn Teed and Amy Tew.

Around 30 teams and getting on for 40 individuals took part and so to be within the top 13 teams was an excellent achievement and is testament to both the quality of the runners we have in the club, their determination, but, mostly, their sense of team work and not wanting to let their other teams members down, which kept them going - in the words of Lionnel Richie - "all night long"!

And now, to relive the event in pictures...

Newcomer, Rich Pyle, throws himself into action for his team of 8

Alison Milborrow dusts off her trainers for her first outing since injury at the relays

Hugh Marsden - competitive to the hilt, a stalwart team player, and now famous throughout Devon and the South Atlantic for his age-defying red shorts!

Sarah Jackman: 2nd relay event for the Harriers since joining the club this year

Friendships were forged and bromances blossomed at the Hope 24!

Finishing with a flare: Nigel leads his team of 8 home conga-style at the end of the 24 hours

Team Hope, team Harrier: a group shot at the end of the event: it went on so long that Chris even had time to grow a mohawk whilst there!

Monday, 12 May 2014

In other bank holiday news...

North Dorset Villages Marathon

Two Harriers headed to Dorset on Sunday 4th May to tackle the North Dorset Villages Marathon. One of these was a regular of this race, Dave Wright, and one was a newcomer to it, but not to the marathon distance, Mike Musgrove.

Dave has run this race about 4 times now and returns to it year on year as it is a well organised, lowkey, fiendly event, run along a relatively fast course through the stunning Dorset countryside. Dave performs consistently well here an this year was no exception as he notched up another sub 3h30 clocking with a time of 3:24:51. This gave him 49th spot overall, out of the 290 finishers and 7th male over 50 in a race that was seemingly dominated by veteran athletes, with only 11 out of the top 50 runners being seniors!

One of those top 50 veterans was Dave's club mate, Mike Musgrove. Following all the hype of the build up to London, where he was again left frustrated at what might have been had his on-going calf problem not reared is ugly head again, Mike felt the need to have another bash at the marathon, but in a lower key, more relaxed environment.

Mike was in good shape and set off feeling strong, comfortably churning out some 6:30 minute miles, but at mile 8 he started to feel a niggle in his troublesome calf, and by mile 15 he had totally hit a wall and ended up having to walk much of the latter section of the race. Given all of this, his eventual time of 3:09:34 is not bad at all. Like Dave, he laced 7th in his category (MV40) and 19th overall. Mike reports that he just wants to run a marathon that all goes to plan and then he will feel able to bow out gracefully from the distance and concentrate on some shorter stuff.... but for now, he has unfinished business, so I guess we'll be seeing him at London again next year!

Killerton 10k

Meanwhile, back in Devon on the nearby Killerton Estate (yes, that estate of parkrun fame!), I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the sole Harrier taking part in a day of events organised by Relish Running Races, that incorporated a 5k, 10k, half marathon and children's fun run.

Like last year, I opted for the 10k distance. Unlike last year, I am not fit this year, having had a few months of very little training following a calf tear in January, and unfortunately, this is not the most forgiving of courses. It has over 1000ft of climb over the 10k distance, on a stunning route over fields of butter cups, through bluebell woods, and on muddy farm tracks around the wider estate. The added extra of a belly crawl, using elbows, commando style, under a fallen oak tree added to the fun this year.

I completed the race 2 minutes slower than last year, and didn't manage to repeat my win of last year, but was pleased with third place in the ladies section and 12th overall in  field of 193 in a time of 46:25. I was also pleased to win one of only 2 spot prizes - some vouchers for a triathlon company. Hopefully this means that my luck is on the turn!

The race was won by the talented, promising Exmouth based, Sidmouth R.C. runner, Jason Drew.

A rather superb aerial shot of the start of the 10k race in front of Killerton House.

Ellie, crossing the finish line of the 10k race in front of the house.