Exe-rated runners!

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

Thursday, 26 April 2012

It's a French connection for Harriers Susan and Jane!

Whilst more Harriers will always opt for London as their marathon of choice, for 2 Harriers - Susan Hill and Jane Macdonald - Paris proved to be their destination de préférance as they both competed in the Marathon de Paris on 15th April.

Billed as one of the most pitturesque city marathons in the world, the Paris course entreats participants to some of the finest sights the city has to offer, including the Arc de Triomphe, the Cathédrale de Notre Dame, the Bois de Vincennes, the historic banks of the River Seine and then ends, quite spectacularly, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Plenty to distract runners from the pain then!

Both Jane and Susan are avid attendees of the Wednesday night ladies' group and no doubt Lorraine will have assisted them in their marathon build up. Both had good runs in Paris on the day and, most importantly, they enjoyed the whole experience. Jane finished in 4:14:41 for 20493rd place and Susan crossed the line in 4:37:27 for 26367th place. There were 40'000 entrants, not all of whom, of course, will have completed the race. Well done ladies!
The Paris Marathon finished beneath the spectacular Eiffel Tower.

Dave Backway and Jamie Palmer (bunny)-hop to PBs at Yeovilton

On the Easter Monday, 9th April, two Exmouth Harriers travelled up to Somerset for the Easter Bunny 10k race which is held on a super fast course around the Yeovilton airbase. This race always attracts a good quality field due to the massive PB potential of the course and, at the top end, the generous prize money on offer. However, any PB seekers this year had to be prepared to battle on through some very wet and windy conditions that have become the norm on a bank holiday weekend!

But this didn't deter our two Harriers - Jamie Palmer and Dave Backway - from going out hard and giving the race their best shot. For Dave this meant setting yet another massive new PB in the process, following on from his superb 1h28 half-marathon clocking at Bideford in March. Over the 10k distance he managed to knock 5 minutes off his previous best to dip in under that magical 40 minute mark and recorded a time of 39:56 for 72nd place over all. Come on - now is the time to start marketing your training regime, surely Dave? A regime that seems to incorporate unlimited weekends of stag-dos and partying and yet which sees you getting faster and faster is surely going to appeal to he mass runners market?!! Given how windy the conditions were there must be still some room to shave more precious seconds off that time later in the year?

For Jamie, having only  run 10k on the road three times before, this was rare outing so he was very pleased to finish inside the the top 20, in 18th place and also bagging himself a new PB of 35:33, knocking 80 seconds off his previous best. A top 20 placing in a field of this quality is no mean feat, and we are sure that Dave Stone must be getting a little hot under the collar around about now if Jamie is churning out these sorts of times...!

The race was won in a swift 30:19 by the in-form Kevin Heyward, which was a PB for him. The second placed athlete, Shaun Antell, also ran a PB highlighting what a fast course this is and our two Harriers would certainly recommend it to any others seeking to record a fast time.

Very well done to them on such strong performances!

A few days later, encouraged by his strong run at Yoevilton, Jamie Palmer then opted to run at the Ken Trickey Open Meeting on the 14th April, though this time stepping down in distance to 800m which, he informs me, was his particular fave in his hey-day!
After finding the pace for the 1st lap a real struggle, Jamie hit the bell in 65s then ran the second lap in 66 to finish in 2:11:3 which he was suitable pleased with as he hasn't even started his summer track training programme yet and the conditions were not the best either. This placed Jamie 5th in the race and 1st veteran athlete.
Not willing to leave it there, Jamie had a couple of hrs break before going on to tackle the 1500m. Having messed up his warm up he just had enough time to shed all his kit before the starting gun went off! He covered the 3 and 3/4 laps in a time of 4:32; a solid run bringing him home in 4th place and again, 1st vet.

More to come from Jamie later in the summer season we feel.... :-)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

First time marathons, PBs and Guiness World Records galore for the Harriers at London

The biggest event of the year on many a club runner's calendar, the London Matathon always attracts a strong contingent of Exmouth Harriers seeking their first marathon experience, a PB on a fairly flat course, raising money for charity or, for some fame-hungry Harriers (you know who you are, Dave Stone!), after a Guiness World Record! This year 7 Harriers made the trip to the capital and here is how they all faired....

First home, sporting a unique Dracula costume, complete with white face paint, dripping blood (fake, we hope!) and fangs, was our regular record setter, Dave Stone. Last year he toed the start line as superman and set a new Guiness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a super-hero, and this year, having got the taste for world records, he set another dressed as a fictional book character. The costume did not appear to slow him down at all as he crossed the line in a cracking time of 2:42:17, giving him 247th place over all (out of about 40'000!) and 41st MV40 - in short, a cracking run!

Just 6 minutes behind Dave and setting a new PB in the process was Adam Miller. Forced to withdraw from last year's London marathon due to injury, Adam was back this year with avengence. He states that he paced his race much more sensibly than on his last outing over the 26.2 mile distance and despite suffering with some cramp in the last 6 miles he crossed the finish line in 2:48:47 to take 475th place over all and shaving a minute off his previous PB.

Also having a good day at the office was Carlos Alonso. Carlos joined the Harriers a couple of summer's ago whilst spending time with his mother, who lives in Exmouth, and he has since kept up his membership and ran as a Harrier in London. Lucky for us that he did as he recorded a very fine time of 2:50:50, good enough for 558th spot over all.

Mike Musgrove had a score to settle with this particular course after having run, literally, into a spot of trouble here last year when he struggled in the heat following a tough week of heat training in his job as a fire-fighter, and then keeling over on the finish line. Back this year to prove his credentials and set a sub-3h time, of which he knew he was more than capable if physically fit, he ran a well-paced race bringing him in under that magical target by 2 minutes, in 2:58:02. He was just outside a top 1000 placing with 1004th and placed 215th in the MV40 catgeory. Furthermore he was running to raise money for the charity Whizz-kidz, which provides funds and support for physically disabled children. He reports that he managed to give a high 5 to all the Whizz-kidz supporters that he passed on route (making the sub-3h even more impressive!). He also says that he now needs to work on persuading wife Nic to allow him to run again next year, but we say how's about Mike persuades Nic to run it with him...?!

Next up, running his first ever road marathon, was our ultra-afficionado Mark Thompson. Mark was awarded one of the 2 available Exmouth Harriers club places and he certainly made the most of the opportunity, running a strong race with a fairly even split that brought him home in a time of 3:14:15 for 2535th place over all and 337th MV45. Is he now a road-runner convertee and turning his back on his beloved long distance self-nav ultra runs? Somehow we very much doubt it!

The only female Harrier to toe the start line was Caroline Pleasence. Like Mark, Caroline is particularly strong at off-road, hilly events, and often excells as the distance gets longer and the terrain gets tougher. Trying her hand at an urban road course though she ran well to finish comfortably under the 3h30 mark, setting a new PB time of 3:23:21. This gave her 3547th spot over all and 394th female.

Now too far adrift of Caroline was Scott Jordan. Scott claimed the second club place in the Harriers' marathon ballot and this was also his first ever marathon. Following on from some very fine performances in build-up races and an excellent training plan prepared for him by Steve Merry which Scott followed religiously, he set about achieving sub-4h clocking and totally smashed that with a time of 3:34:17. This placed him 5287th over all. With Scott's highly competitive nature we can only assume that this will be the first of many marathons and that next time he will dip under the 3h30 mark.

Very well done to all our Harriers - you did the royal blue and yellow vests proud!

Caroline, Mike, Carlos, Adam and Dracula-Dave after the race

Dave - looking a bit pale - Mike, Adam, Scott - looking a bit tired - and Caroline post-race
Dracula-Dave sets his second Guiness World Record!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Blog takes a break...

Hi faithful followers of the Exmouth Harriers' blog!

Just to let you know that I'm going away on holiday for 2 weeks tomorrow and won't have any internet access, so this means no posts until after 25th April... :-(

However, please do send me details - either via the Yahoo Harriers email group or to my personal account - of any races you do over the next 2 weeks and I promise they will make an appearance on here as soon as I get back. Particularly those doing the London marathon: get in touch with your stories and pics!!

Also, don't forget Dave Eveleigh will still be doing the press reports, so please continue to send any race info or other interesting stories to him for inclusion in the Exmouth Journal and Express and Echo.

Happy Easter and happy runnings! Ellie :-D

Tom and Ellie kanter to Kilmington victories!

Tom and Ellie waiting for the start of the Kilmington Kanter 7 mile race

On Good Friday 6th April, just 5 days after Tom Merson stormed to victory in the tough 20 mile Exe to Axe race and after I, Ellie, took victory in the Taunton marathon, both of us were on the start line of the rather more sedate Kilmington Kanter race in the village of Kilmington, near Axminster.

Clear skies but crisp cool temperatures provided the ideal conditions for this 7 mile multi-terrain race that takes runners on a lap of the cricket pitch before heading out down through the village and then up into some woods. There are 2 long climbs in the race at miles 2 and 5, both of which are a mile long. The other sections are flat or downhill but there are numerous stiles, narrow rickety bridges and freshly ploughed fields to cross that all zap energy and slow the pace.

This was a new race organised by the Axe Valley Runers to raise money for Kilmington Primary School. It was very much one of those low-key, friendly events where freshly cooked bacon butties and 50p cups of tea kept spectators happy whilst we were all out on the course.

Those spectators did not have to wait very long for Tom Merson, the first finisher, to return however. He covered the 7 miles in a lightning time of 39.07. Bearing in mind the 2 substantial hills on the course and that most of the route is off-road, that is a super time, highlighted by the fact that he finished a clear 6 minutes ahead of the next runner!

I was racing on still tired legs after Taunton so wasn't going all out for this one but just looking to enjoy it. Nevertheless, I found myself in the lead from the start and maintained this position through to the finish, crossing the line in 47.13, 3 minutes ahead of the next female, and in 10th place over all.

Toasted hot-cross buns and a steaming cup of tea were the "momentoes" of this race, and very welcome they were! The prizes, awarded to the first male and female only, were 2 massive hampers provided by a local farm shop. They contained an array of fresh fruits, cheese biscuits, cookies, carrot cake, chocolate Easter bunnies and alcoholic giner beer! As a bonus prize, the company SIS contributed a huge bag full of different energy products: that's our nuitritional and energy requirements sorted for the rest of the year then!!

Only 86 finishers in the main race and about 20 in the fun run, but this was its inaugural year. A great event, well organised, nice route and good atmosphere: both Tom and I would highly recommend that other Harriers give it a go next year!
With our fantastic prizes!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Palmer places 1st at Plymouth 3k

To round off what was a very successful April (not so) fools day for the Harriers, Jamie Palmer added to the collection of previous victories on assorted on-road and off-road terrains with a win on the track in the 3k event at Brickfields in Plymouth.

This was the first open track meeting of the season and Jamie has to admit that the last time he ran there was when he was 19, so quite a few years ago (his words, ed. takes no responsibility for passing judgement on age!)! He also reports that things have certainly changed since then!

Jamie turned up at the start to register to be a bit disappointed with the small turn out. Maybe it is still a bit early in the season for track meets, and also the lure of the Taunton and Exe to Axe events may have diminished the entrant numbers, so all the runners and riders were put into the one same race.

After settling into 3rd place for the first 1000m, the pace then started to slow so Jamie decided to take up the running and pace-making and he hit the front. He managed to forge out a 26 second gap over the next 2000m to finish in 1st place in a cracking time of 9.44. He says that he was hoping for a bit faster but with no help with the front running and with no shelter from the wind, it was to be expected that his pace dropped off a little. Still, a great time for the first track outing of the season, leaving Jamie with plenty of scope to shave some time off the 3k over the summer. Well done!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Ellie gets her sub-3hr marathon at Taunton!

Whilst most Exmouth Harriers were spending the beautiful sunny Sunday of April 1st on the East Devon coastline participating in the Exe to Axe fell race, 3 Harriers were in the rather less pitturesque setting of central Taunton for the annual Taunton marathon and half marathon events.

Entries for this year were good with about 1500 runners signed up for the half and 250 for the full events. Both races start together from Somerset College and go through the town centre before heading out into the countryside and passing through the pretty villages of Bradford-on-Tone and Rumwell before returning down the mainroad to the college. Marathoners then carry on and complete the 13 miles lap again.

Three Harriers were entered into the half event, which was won by Peter Monaghan of Torbay AC in 1.14.52. Harrier's ultra-specialist Mark Thompson was making a rare appearance on the roads in his final build up to London, which will be his first ever road marathon. Mark ran well, in what turned out to be much hotter conditions than forecast, to cross the finish line in 1.25.59 for 52nd place over all and 12th MV45.

Adrian Kearns struggled a little bit with the heat but battled on hard to get to the finish under the 1h30 mark, in a fine time of 1.29.52 for 88th place over all and 8th MV40.

In 707th place was over 65 man Mick Allen, but competition is tough these days right through the age groups. Mick finished 7th in that category, despite covering the distance inside two hours (1:59:17).

There were 1118 finishers in the half marathon so our Harriers did very well to finish well inside the top 100 finishers in a race that always attracts a good quality field.

Meanwhile, in the full marathon event, I was going for my first sub 3 hour clocking. Ordinarily I would have felt confident about getting it but just last weekend, 7 days out, I contracted the norro virus and spent a full 24 hours being violently ill and lost 9lbs of weight in 2 days. I couldn't race at the Yeovil Half marathon last Sunday, where I planned to defend my title and course record, and spent the rest of the week desperately trying to regain the weight I'd lost and rebuild my strength in time for Sunday. On the start line I knew it could go one of two ways: either I was well rested and had fresh legs that would get me around in under 3hrs, or my depleated glycogen stores would start to make themselves felt at about 18 miles and I would totally blow up. Do or die!

The first lap felt very comfortable and on my tapered legs I really had to hold myself back at some stages. I ran with Adrian for a good few miles of the first lap. This was my first 2-lap marathon and passing the crowds and the annoncments of all the half marathoners finishing at 13 miles when I still had another 13 to go was mentally tough! The second lap was not much fun. Without the half marathoners for company it was a very lonely road and my legs started to feel tired at about 19 miles in and it became a struggle to keep the pace below 6.50m/m. There are 2 very nasty hills on the course that aren't a problem on fresh legs in lap 1 but which became a major issue on exhausted legs on lap 2! I have never wanted to slow to a walk in a race so badly in all my life, and I couldn't even just slow down a bit as I wouldn't make my sub-3hr target. I knew I had a good gap on the next female runner and from miles 18 to 24 I had slowly reeled in 4 other male runners who had gone off too fast and blown up, and I found myself sat in 8th place over all.

The last hill at 24 miles was brutal and the only thought that kept me driving on was that if I just missed getting in under 3 hours, I'd have to put myself through all of this torture again! So I dug in, shouted 'come on Sutcliffe' at myself a few times and with a final finishing flurry of the last half mile at 5.50m/m pace, I crossed the line jubilant in a time of 2.59.20. Sub-3hrs, 1st lady (by 11 minutes) and 8th over all (out of 199 finishers). What a cracking feeling... however, movement of any shape or form is going to be difficult for some days to come!!

This time currently puts me at 4th fastest female over all in the 2012 UK marathon rankings, behind 3 GB international athletes. This will all change drastically once London is out of the way, so for the next 2 weeks I am just going to make the most of this short lived glory!!

Exmouth's own Cathy Newman has the female course record at Taunton of 2h53, set way back in 1985 - proving what a hard target that is to beat and what a class act she is. Having given it absolutely everything to still be 6 minutes outside of that, I have nothing but respect and admiration for the woman!
Knackered but happy at the end of the Taunton Marathon

It's a Harriers clean sweep at the Exe to Axe!

Fell Racing in Devon?

Not a County normally associated with the fells of England and I guess that those from the north will be snorting with derision about soft southerners and easy off road running. That will be those from the north who have not actually competed in the Grizzly, or the latest challenge on the south coast, the Exe To Axe which took place on Sunday, 1st April, 2012. Organised by Sidmouth RC and to Fell Runners Association rules, this was a Category B fell race in name and in nature.

The mileage is a little unclear with the organisers claiming 20.3 miles, and those with GPS watches who actually ran it, claiming something in excess of 21 miles. The start is at Foxholes car park in Exmouth and at the start of the coastal path. You then follow your nose and the path until you reach Seaton some 21 miles later, after passing over West Down, through Budleigh Salterton, Ladram Bay, over Peak Hill, Sidmouth, over the hill above Sidmouth, over Salcombe, over Weston, over Beer Head (note the reference to ‘over’), down through Beer and up and ‘over’ a small but significant hill over into Seaton.

So that was the challenge, and so how did Exmouth Harriers measure up to that. Well, pretty good, is the answer, with the club taking a clean sweep of all the prizes on offer. First runner home was Tom Merson of the Harriers in an exceptionally quick time for this course of 2:26.47 And the first lady home was Caroline Pleasance in 15th place overall, in 3:13.11. Tom was a full 16 minutes clear of the second placed runner and Caroline a staggering 20 minutes clear of the second female - fantastic running for our two Harriers.

The event can be tackled as a relay race, with teams of 2 – 4 members, and the first relay team back, was the imaginatively named 'Ben and Chris'. Comprised of Exmouth Harrier's Ben White and Chris Dupain, this pairing ensured that the Harrier's rein of victory remained unbroken as they crossed the line first in 3.07.20. They were shortly followed by more members of the Dupain family, with Dad Nigel and daughters Emma and Hannah - recently coming back into running after giving birth this winter - taking second spot in 3.32.25.

Other Harriers enjoying the challenge, and the marvellous weather, were: Scott ‘2 Trigs’ Jordan, who started talking to Emma Dupain at the start line and suddenly found himself in Seaton on an unplanned run in around about 3 and a half hour's time, Terry ‘Dark Destroyer’ Oldham, 3.46, Bob Keast 4.01.14 and Katie Comer 4.05.

Lorraine Gilson and John Goss-Custard took part in the relay team and completed legs 2 and 3.

A few memorable moments of the day include Lorraine straying off course at Weston Bay (sshhh, she doesn't want anyone to know!) and Katie giving some Devonshire pensioner a reason to smile when he strolled around the corner - with his wife - just as our Katie was in the process of removing some upper layers... made his day, that treat!

After a well earned ice-cream at Seaton, the Harriers headed back to Exmouth, though via petrol power this time! Well done gang!
Caroline on her way to an easy victory in the women's race.