Exe-rated runners!

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

Monday, 29 October 2012

Struggle? What struggle? Not for the Harriers!

A race with the word 'Struggle' in the title immediately makes you think that it's going to be a challenge and a challenge is just what 3 of our Harriers wanted when they headed to South Molton in North Devon on Sunday to take part in the South Molton Struggle.

Measuring in at 7.8 miles this is a tough multi-terrain run that takes runners across the beautiful fields and countryside on the southerly edge of Exmoor, near Barnstaple. Conditions on Sunday were ideal, with a crisp, clear autumn day to greet the runners.

Jon Garrity had a very fine run in his first come-back race since struggling with a calf injury following the Bristol half-marathon in September. He took 52:09 to complete the tough, hilly route, giving him 14th place overall and 2nd MV40.

Ray Elston once again showed the young things how it's done by placing well up the field overall, 67th in 1:06:52, and comfortably 1st MV70.

The man who posed the biggest threat to Ray in the battle for the MV70 honours was his own friend, club-mate and category rival, Jim Wyatt. Jim too finished strongly, in the top 100 of runners, completing in 1:15:04 for 94th place and 2nd MV70.

There were 128 finishers and the race was won in an almost unbelievable time of 42:47 by visiting runner Tom Adams of Ilkley Harriers.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Course records and county championship golds for the Harriers at the Dart Vale races

It was a very successful day at the Sunday office for the small number of Exmouth Harriers who took part in the Dartmoor Vale races this weekend. Once again the Harriers proved that it's quality and not quantity that matters where our club is concerned as we once again made our presence felt at the top end across all three of the different race distances on offer.

Dartmoor Vale Marathon

This race, being the only road marathon in Devon, incorporates the Devon County Championships. On the start line contesting it were 2 Harriers representatives: Dave Wright and relative newcomer, Stuart Pearson. This was Dave's first ever marathon last year, having only just taken up competitive running in the summer of 2011. He clocked a very respectable debut time of 3:26:10 on this challenging course, which is by no means flat! (If you are familiar with the July Chudleigh 6 Carnival race, you are familiar with THAT hill: 1.5 miles long, very steep, and this hill is tackled twice on this 2 lap marathon course!)

This year Dave wanted to see an improvement on last year's time, and with his PB now down to 3:15:55, set at the North Dorset race in May, he was certainly capable of that. However, he confessed to not having had the best preparation and was lacking in a few long training runs, but his legs obviously remembered what it's like to run the distance and they got him around in a superb time of 3:20:21. 6 minutes better than last year and crucially, this gave him a top 10 spot overall in the race - 9th - and 1st MV50. So Dave is now also the MV50 county marathon gold champion, improving on his silver medal from last year. Well done Dave.

When asked on the start line what sort of time he was looking for, a nervous Stuart Pearson said, 'Well, I'd like to do around 3h10, but now I've said that I probably won't do it. Maybe I should give a low estimation then whatever I do will seem more impressive!' Unfortunately though, Stuart is an honest guy and gave an honest answer and whilst we know he's capable of this time, marathons are unpredictable beasts and anything can happen on the day. On this occasion, the hills just slightly got the better of him and slowed his predicted speed down. He nevertheless still had a strong run to finish 19th overall in 3:28:58.

Only the one runner went under the 3 hour barrier, unattached runner Charles Jans taking the win in 2:48:29.
136 finishers.

Dartmoor Vale Half

We had just the one Harrier representative in the half-marathon event and that was our super-vet athlete, Mick Allen. Clearly none the worse for wear after giving his all at the Parrett Trail relays the week before and proving that age is still no barrier to a decent performance, Mick made light work of this hilly course to post a time of 2:04:51 which gave him 262nd place overall and a comfortable victory in the MV70 category.

There were 354 finishers in the half event with victory going to Pete Monaghan of Torbay AC who was a full 8 minutes ahead of the second placed athlete!

Dartmoor Vale 10k

The majority of Exmouth Harriers, albeit a small majority, opted for the shorter 10k option. Shorter and flatter it may be, but this race was perhaps the most competitive of the day and there could be no relaxing and sauntering around if you wanted to perform well. And good performances were on the agenda for all 3 Harrier participants.

Winning the race in emphatic style was our Eithiopian guest member, Berihu Tesfay. Despite going wrong a total of 3 times in the early stages - fortunately nothing major, just the odd wrong turn before he was shouted at by the helpful chasing pack of runners, having to catch them and pass them again to regain the lead - Berihu won the race in 33:30. Almost 2 full minutes ahead of second place and, crucially, in a new course record time, taking over 1 minute off the previous course best, set by Pete Monaghan, winner of this year's half, in 2009. A time we think will be hard to beat on this undulating course around Kingsteignton.

Next in was myself, Ellie Sutcliffe. On the start line I spotted a few of my regular rivals and knew that if I wanted a victory here I would really have to work for it. I was also hoping that there might be an outside chance of a PB, so I set out hard from the gun and led from the start. I find that I always run harder when I am running scared and so I gave it my all but 2 hills on the course just slowed my time enough to make a PB attempt just beyond my grasp. In the end I crossed the line in 11th place overall, 1st place in the female race, 6 seconds outside of my PB in 38:10, but, following Berihu's lead, I set a new female course record, taking 1 minute 27 secs off the previous record set back in 2008.

Shortly after came Cathy Newman, who has been returning to fine form since returning from Eithiopia earlier in the year. Cathy was tantalisingly close to getting in under the 40 minute mark, just missing it by 2 seconds, clocking 40:01 to claim 26th spot overall, 4th place in the female race and top FV50 by a clear mile. This time also ranks her as 12th fastest FV50 over the 10k distance this year and we are sure there is more to come, perhaps when she tackles the Weston 10k in December?

287 finishers in this race, the winner being mentioned above!

These are superbly organised races by the Dartmoor Vale Rotary Club. Not easy to stage 3 races of 3 different distances on the same morning, but all went smoothly on the day. And added point of interest was that former politician and Strictly Come Dancing star, Ann Widdecombe, gave up her Sunday to come and start the races, present the medals at the end and present the prizes. She was a great sport and really got into the spirit of things, even coming up with the idea of staging her own race next year over a distance of half a kilometer, for the over 65s only! The Widdecombe Waddle, anybody?!

Ann Widdecombe having a laugh over David and Stuart's heads at the start of the marathon

Ann, on the gantry on the right, officially gets the 10k race under way

Berihu crossing the line in 1st place and setting a new course record

The 10k participants: Cathy, Berihu, Ellie. Clearly race numbers 2, 0, 7 and 9 are a winning combo!

Ann Widdecombe presented us with our trophies!

Scott, Terry and Lorraine stagger and stumble around Exmoor in the mist!

The Exmouth Harriers off-road-loving trio of Scott Jordan, Terry Oldham and Lorraine Gilson headed up to Minehead this weekend to take part in 2 different events: the Exmoor Stagger and Exmoor Stumble. Both races are organised by Minehead R.C. and both offer rather testing, hilly routes on Exmoor. The Stagger sees runners work their way up from sea level to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, climbing a total of 3627ft, before turning around and heading back down to Minehead again, covering a distance of almost 16 miles in the process. The Stumble offers a shorter alternative, measuring in at 6 miles, and starts alongside the Stagger but does not climb up onto the high moor; it is nevertheless a challenging off-road route and not to be under-estimated.

The following 3 paragraphs come from Terry:

"These events are all about hills, and so look away now if you only like the odd incline and a level path to run over. The first three miles are basically up and then up again, with a final set of zig zags and roller coaster paths bringing you out on to the ridge overlooking the valley below with Dunkery Beacon in the distance.

The Stumble runners head off back up the final incline and the Staggerers head steeply down hill over a treacherous combination of loose stones, leaves and mud. The descent is so steep that there is a distinct risk of losing control, which happened to Scott Jordan who when faced with a stile at about 2 thirds down could only hurdle the stile and hit the grass meadow below without a pause for thought. He then had an interesting descent down the greasy grass meadow before (metaphorically, fortunately) hitting the tarmac at the bottom. A rather more sedate descent by Terry Oldham meant that he was already losing time and distance on the fearless Scott and this continued to be a feature of the next 7 miles or so as the ascent of Dunkery Beacon approached.

Dunkery Beacon offers some splendid views of the North Devon and Somerset coastline and the hills of Exmoor, or it does when the cloud is not hanging low over the hill. So low in fact, that the entire ascent was in mist and with visibility down to about 20 yards. After the long haul to the top there’s a shout and a wave from the two marshalls, and then the rapid descent off the top over a particularly challenging mix of mud, stone and grass. This brings you to an undulating path (moorland, woodlands, waterfalls, stream crossings, dark Devon lanes) leading you back to the scene of Scott’s earlier heroics. However, on this occasion there was no need to worry about overdoing it given that everyone was walking that challenging climb back up to the very top of the ridge."

Both Scott (a.k.a. 2 Trigs) and Terry (a.k.a. The Dark Destroyer) opted for the longer Stagger option. As Terry mentions above, the day turned out to be a rather misty one and visibility on the upper part of the course was very poor, making the reading of signs and directional arrows from a distance impossible. Despite the origins of the nickname, 2 Trigs had no problem finding the beacon on this occasion and he was even giving reassurance to other runners that they were still on the right path. He had a superb run in the end, taking full advantage of his fast descending skills on the last 2 miles and picking off several runners on the final downhill stretches and almost getting too carried away at one point as a stile appeared out of nowhere and, with no time to apply the brakes, he vaulted it in true fell-runner fashion. He took 2:44:00 to cover the course and this gave him 72nd place and 13th MV40.

Also not living up to his nickname, which he gained after defeating Scott at the Drogo 10 mile race last year, our Dark Destroyer had to watch 2 Trigs disappear into the mist on this occasion. He nevertheless had a good run himself, also picking off some competitors on the descent whilst concurrently managing to find time to admire the scenery and take the odd photo along the way (see below!). He stopped the clock at 3:04:01, placing him 123rd and 10th in a highly competitive MV55 category.

There were 195 finishers in the Stagger and the race was won in a truly 'staggering' 1:51:28 by James Baker of Chichester AC, a former winner of the Haytor Heller race.
Top woman on the day was Isobel Wykes, winner of this year's Dartmoor Discovery, from Truro AC / Mudcrew in an equally impressive 2:17:13.

Lorraine, nursing a sore throat on the day, wisely opted to switch to the Stumble event, rather than miss out on a run, and posted a time of 1:08:43 for this challenging 6 miler. This gave her 41st place overall and a very creditable 3rd spot in the FV50 category, just a minute behind the category winner. Most importantly, she enjoyed the run through the stunning landscape on the vale of Exmoor.
101 finishers in this event; the winning time was 48:34 and the winning female 58:09, meaning Lorraine was only 10 minutes adrift of the top female spot!
Scott powering on towards the finish.

Staggeringly colour-coordinated! Terry nearing the finish.
2 Trigs looking strong at the finish

Joan gets another victory over Stan in the Birmingham half

And so our husband-wife rivalry between Stan and Joan Mason continued unabated this weekend when the pair took on the Great Birmingham Run Half Marathon. The race takes place over old stomping ground for the pair who come from the area. The route takes in all the major sites of the city, starting in Victoria Square on Sand Pits Parade, it then goes past Cadbury World in Bourneville, where the is no time to stop and refuel on the chocolatey good stuff as runners plough on to the Edgbaston cricket ground and Canon Hill Park before finishing on Broad Street by the symphony hall.

The race was televised, however, if you were keeping your eyes peeled for our Harriers pair in their club vests then you will have been disappointed, as they were both running in fancy dress: Joan as a fairy and Stan as a Scotsman, complete with kilt!

On this occasion Stan had to settle for a finishing time that was 10 minutes down on Joan who had a truly superb run to clock a time of 1:56:28 for the 13.1 miles. When you consider that her average 10k time is usually around the 55 minute mark, you can see that she ran this more than double distance race at roughly the same pace! So, women really can go the distance! ;-) She finished in a highly respectable 5'300th place out of 18'000 entrants.

Stan also had a good run but could not quite match Joan on this occasion... perhaps his sporran got caught up in his, er.... kilt, and interupted his tsride pattern! Knowing Stan, he was probably milking the costume and the attention it brought him and savouring the whole race. He took 2:06:48 to complete, giving him 7'652nd spot overall.
The fetching pair before the start of the race!

Micah Kogo made up for being narrowly defeated in a sprint finish at the Great North Run with victory on the day, just outside the hour in 60:17.

Portuguese athlete, Sara Moreira took a comfortable victory in the women's race in 72:49.

Tragically a runner collapsed and died on the course. Our thoughts go out to their family.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Thanks to all the Harriers who made the effort to come along to the photo tonight. What a great turn out of 33 (and a half....) Harriers for the photo. Look above and I think you'll agree, we all look rather snazzy in our colour-coordinated outfits!!

This photo will be used on the club blog, the website, in press articles and will also feature on the front cover of an Exmouth Harriers yearbook that Dave Eveleigh has been working hard on all year and that you will all, as members, receive a copy of at the Christmas do.

Sorry to any Harriers who could not make the photo. In the end there were always going to be some people who could make Tuesday but not Thursday or vice versa, so we just had to pick a day and go with it. In particular sorry to Scott who just arrive after we started to dismantle the shot... we are working on including you with a little help from photoshop! ;-)

Monday, 15 October 2012

And the eel comes home to Exmouth once again...

Arriving at the Crewkerne Running Club organised Parrett Trail Relays with Exmouth Harriers' guest member Berihu Tesfay from Ethiopia is a bit like having Tom Jones to stay and taking him along to your local pub’s karaoke night! However it has to be said that the rest of the Exmouth Harriers team, who on Saturday 13th October won the 53 mile long race that crosses Somerset and goes into Dorset, were then the equivalent of Tom’s band: not the stars of the show but essential for piecing the whole gig together and getting the job done properly! They were the Exmouth Harriers A-team (cue music!) and were made up of Berihu, Jamie Palmer, Marc Cox, Adam Miller, Dave Stone and Jamie Pearson. The last time the Harriers failed to come away with a trophy from the event was 2005 and this was the third year in a row that the Men’s team have won it.

Strictly speaking, the Parrett Trail relay is in fact a series of races which cover the distance from Steart, near Burnham, to Winyards Gap just inside Dorset. There are six legs of distances from 5.6 to 9.5 miles in length, with legs 2-6 beginning at pre-established start times just before the previous leg’s runners begin to arrive, meaning that out-going runners do not have to wait for an in-coming baton, making timing and the transporting of runners much more manageable. It also means less waiting around and when we consider that the slowest team on the day took an accumulative time of over 11 hours to complete, this was a blessing as night would have fallen and the pub would have shut by the time the leg 6 runner came in!

The legs vary from the pancake flat, long ranging plateau run along the Somerset Levels on leg 3, to the lachrymose hills of leg 6. Some legs are straight forward where the route can be followed easily without prior knowledge of the course (legs 1 and 2), but some legs are very complicated and even with a rekkie run in the bag runners can, and DO, go off course and get lost (the infamous leg 5 being the most higgledy-piggledy). 

The Exmouth Men’s winning team were 1st in four of the six legs and finished more than 15 minutes clear of runners-up, South West Road Runners, who might want to re-think their club name if they continue to take on courses as muddy as this one was in places. These were the split times:

LEG 1 (9.1 miles) Berihu Tesfay - 57:57
LEG 2 (5.6 miles) Jamie Palmer - 35:45
LEG 3 (7.7 miles) Marc Cox - 51:40
LEG 4 (7.7 miles) Adam Miller - 51:49
LEG 5 (9.5 miles) Dave Stone - 1:00:23
LEG 6 (8.7 miles) Jamie Pearson - 1:04:07
Total team time: 5:21:41

Thirty three teams completed the competition and the Harriers took a further three sextuplets along. In 9th place was a mixed-gender  team which was 3rd of nine teams in this category. With a minimum of 2 females needed for it to count as mixed, making up this team were Cathy Newman, Moira Glen, Terry Oldham, Dave Backway, Dave Wright and Scott Jordan. These were the splits:

LEG 1: Cathy Newman - 1:13:15
LEG 2: Moira Glen - 38:10
LEG 3: Terry- the dark destroyer- Oldham - 1:01:23
LEG 4: Dave Backway - 59:58
LEG 5: Dave Wright - 1:11:27
LEG 6: Scott- 2 Trigs- Jordan - 1:13:50
Total team time: 6:18:03

An all-female team placed 21st overall and 3rd in this category. That team was split evenly between youth and experience with Emma Dupain, Joan Mason, Dawn Teed, Carly Audritt, Lorraine Gilson and Ellie Sutcliffe taking on the 6 legs. Splits as follows:

LEG 1: Emma Dupain - 1:23:13
LEG 2: Joan Mason - 50:28
LEG 3: Dawn Teed - 1:07:50
LEG 4: Carly Audritt - 1:08:15
LEG 5: Lorraine Gilson - 1:35:39
LEG 6: Ellie Sutcliffe - 1:11:45
Total team time: 7:17:10

Finally there was a seasoned Men’s ‘B’ Team of Andrew Johnson, Stan Mason,  Dave Eveleigh, Mike Allen, Paul Champion and Pete McKeown, which  finished 22nd. Splits as follows:

LEG 1: Andrew Johnson - 1:14:33
LEG 2: Stan Mason - 46:24
LEG 3: Dave Eveleigh - 1:03:35
LEG 4: Mick Allen - 1:28:43
LEG 5: Paul Champion - 1:36:59
LEG 6: Pete McKeown - 1:11:15
Total team time: 7:21:39 

Everyone had a superb day out with great camaraderie being the order of proceedings all day long. Some members brought their families along and they all seemed to have a great day too, as did former long-time Harrier member, Jan Moulton, who is over in the UK on a passing visit from her home in Australia: despite a shortage of adequate toilet facilities on route, she too enjoyed herself! Moira managed to find an inventive way of keeping herself warm before the start of her leg, giving us all a good laugh in the process! Joan overcame her phobia of mud and got stuck in (literally!) to run a fantastic leg 2 for the women's team. Pete McKeown managed to complete his leg in a superb time on the back of only 3 hours sleep the previous night and 2 Trigs managed to find his way with no wrong-turns on a self-nav course!!! ;-) And the Winyards Gap Inn is now 1 wine glass short... how did that get into the minibus... Lorraine?!

Special mention must go to Paul Champion who, living up to his name, was the hero of the day as he not only drove the mini-bus all day long from A to B, and back to A again... via C and D, but he also stepped in at the very last minute to cover leg 5 - the longest and most complicated leg - for the men's B team after another Harrier had to withdraw through illness. We are all very grateful: what a Champion!

And last but by no means least we have to thank our mentor, guru, organiser and spirit of the relay extraordinaire, Hugh Marsden. Despite not being able to run himself this year as he was called out to work down in South Georgia earlier than usual, he still did all the organising of the times and the driving drop-offs, of the teams, taking into consideration each runners' strengths and preferences; he ensured that each runner knew their leg and helped to arrange for them to rekkie it beforehand, if not accompanying them in the process, and he inspired many Harriers to sign up and get involved so that we were able to field 4 teams: only the very big local club, Yeovil Town R. R., had more teams entered. So Hugh, if you are reading this from way down south - thank you, and we hope we did you proud by bringing the eel trophey back home to Exmouth!

Lots and lots of photos that capture the spirit of the day to be found below....

Leg 1 runner assemble! Cathy, Berihu, Emma and Andy raring to go at the start, in Steart!

Berihu negotiates a gate and a lot of mud on leg 1!

Andy Johnson making light work of the muddy conditions

Emma raced this 9.1 mile leg then jumped in the car to go and play in a hockey match: what a trooper!

This was just one method that Moira came up with to keep warm before the start of leg 2...

Marc leads the runners out on leg 3, then 7.7 miles later leads them all home

Leg 3 runners disappearing off down the River Parrett near Bridgwater

Dave Eveleigh enjoying a flat and relatively mud-free stretch along the Somerset Levels on leg 3

Terry on leg 3 - he had a cracker!

Mick Allen running alongside the Parrett near Langport on leg 4

Paul and Lorraine dashing to the start line of leg 5 in Kingsbury Episcopi

Leg 5 - the longest and most complicated - gets under way

'I get by with a little help from my friends'! Paul helps Lorraine with the navigation on leg 5 and Lorraine helps Paul up Ham Hill!

Pete McKeown has a superb leg 6, the hillest leg of the course, on just 3 hours sleep!

Scott '2 Trigs' nearly at the top of the last hill and heading for home... well, the pub!

I was happy: I'd just been told the finish (and the pub) is just around the corner!

Parrett Trail crew assemble! (Minus Carly, Adam and Pete who were at the bar!)

And the eel trophy comes back home to Exmouth for the third year running: GO HARRIERS!!

Yet more mud for 4 hardy Harriers at Redruth XC

Cross-country season got under way this weekend down in Redruth, west Cornwall, and there to represent the Harriers were Adam Miller, Carly Audritt, Dawn Teed and Moira Glen. All four of these hardy beings had each already raced a leg of the Parrett Trail Relay the previous day and so after an evening to get in, wash the mud off from the previous day, refuel and sleep, the four of them were on the road again and raring to race.

This fixture is the first of 6 in what is termed 'The Westward League' and is a combined league for all clubs in both Devon and Cornwall. Unfortunately for those who live in North or East Devon, this means quite a trek for the Redruth fixture: about 200 miles in total for around 20 minutes of running! Nevertheless, the value of cross-country to many athletes as a means of building up strength and stamina over the winter makes the effort worthwhile.

What also made the trip worthwhile was that we had enough ladies, with 3 to count, to have a successful ladies team. Moira Glen led them home with a fine run over the 4'900m 3 lap course to clock a time of 21:31. This gave her 16th place overall in the women's race and 3rd placed FV45 athlete. Crucially she managed to finish ahead of Karen Cook of SWRR and Marilyn Blair of Torrington AC, both very talented athletes who Moira couldn't quite hang onto at her last outing at the Ladies 10k. So her recent decision to up her training regime to incorporate a bit more structured hill and track work is clearly paying off!

Next in, having a fine run in her first outing at cross-country since the days that it was inflicted upon everyone in school, was Carly Audritt. Carly completed the 3 mile course in a time of 23:38 and took 31st place in the women's race, putting her just inside the top 50% of finishers. With the course being the same distance as Parkrun in which she participates on an almost weekly basis, and being just as muddy, Carly was more than adequately prepared for this race.

Also contributing valuable points to the Exmouth ladies team challenge was stalwart cross-country veteran, Dawn Teed. Always a sport and happy to make up a team to encourage other ladies to give XC a try, Dawn is nevertheless highly competitive herself and on this occasion she cantered around the course in 26:02 for 47th place overall and 9th FV45.

There were 62 finishers in the female race and with 3 decent performances by our ladies we now have something to build upon in the following rounds. We are currently lying in 11th in the team standings with 209 points, with the first team on 280 points. We can build on this! It doesn't have to be the same 3 runners who count each time, so if any other ladies fancy giving the XC a try, don't be nervous, you would be helping the club out and it's a fun outing as the women usually run first and then get to relax and cheer on the men! Give the next one a go: it's in Newquay on November 4th.

There was just the one lone representative for the Harriers in the male race and that came in the form of the ever-consistent Adam Miller. Despite having pushed himself hard the previous day to win his 7.7 mile leg of the Parrett Trail, Adam still had plenty of speed left in the legs as he stormed around the 5 lap 8k course in a time of 32:29 to finish in 30th place overall out of a field of 115 male athletes.

If any other Exmouth men fancy supporting Adam at the next fixture, it's not too late for us to field a team, we just need 5 runners at each of the next 5 events to count for a team. Any takers?!

Team spirit! Moira, Dawn and Carly showing that cross-country can be fun!

Chris keeps it cool in Köln!

Whilst sister Hannah was targeting a half-marathon PB on British soil this weekend, brother Chris Dupain had travelled to Köln (Cologne) in Germany to take part in the Rhein Energie Marathon Köln to try and chip some time from his marathon PB.

His previous PB stood around the 3h50 mark and with a 1h28 half-marathon under his belt from earlier in the year, Chris certainly seemed to be capable of giving a sub 3h50 marathon a more than serious attempt. However, the marathon is not his preferred distance and at double the length of a half, anything can happen on the day, especially in those last 6 miles. On this occasion he crossed the finish line just outside of his PB in 3:54:06, giving him 1866th place overall in this race which attracts around 10'000 participants each year, making it Germany's third most popular marathon after Berlin and Hamburg.

So although Chris didn't quite manage a PB on this occasion, he can be justifiably pleased with a sub 4h time and he enjoyed the views on this attractive course which take runners along the banks of the Rhein and entreat them to some lovely views of the city's iconic gothic cathedral: the third tallest in the world!

Hannah nails a sub 1h30 half at Cardiff!

Hannah Bown was a woman on a mission this weekend and that mission saw her head to the Welsh capital to try and run under 1 hour 30 for the first time in a half marathon as this would not only bring her a new PB but also would give her the necessary time needed to be guaranteed a place in the championship start at the 2013 London Marathon.

Hannah has worked harder than most of us could imagine over the past few months to get her fitness back following the birth of her third (and she says final!) child at the start of the year. And not only has her hard work paid off and got her back to a good level of fitness, she appears to be fitter now than ever before if her recent performances are anything to go by. Juggling a hectic family schedule and a hectic training schedule is not easy, but via a few inventive methods and via the help of a rather large back garden (!), Hannah has managed to keep on top of both successfully and her multi-tasking efforts certainly paid off on Sunday 14th October in Cardiff where she had a storming run.

Billed as a fast, flat half, the course certainly suited Hannah as she set out hard from the gun chasing that sub 1h30 time. Although on paper her recent 10k performance at Woodbury suggested that she was more than capable of achieving her goal, the half marathon is a tricky distance and things can be going well at mile 9 and then you can find yourself struggling by mile 10. For Hannah though this did not happen and she stayed strong to the end, crossing the finish line in 87:51, giving her a highly respectable 40th place out of the female competitors in this quality race which attracts a high standard of athlete. She was an impressive 344th overall in a field of around 13'000 runners. Well done Hannah! This performance was timed to perfection since, as coincidence would have it, London Marathon Championship entries open today!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Toddle is no Doddle!

Initially thinking that it was an off-road 10.25 mile trail run, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, signed up for the Teign Valley Toddle to get a season of nice Autumn trail races underway and to have a break from the roads. However, when I chatted to others it soon became apparent that this race is in fact all on the tarmac so, with roadies at the ready, I toed the start line along with several other confused individuals who were wearing Innov8 fellies, at the race HQ in Christow.

Not off-road but scenic nevertheless, this was a challenging run. The hill profile online looked to be undulating but in fact it was more down right hilly! There is a steep climb from the start for 1 mile before a lovely 4.5 mile long descent down the valley; but, what goes down must come back up, and you spend the remaining portion of the race climbing back up, with a few short, steep descents and equally short steep climbs thrown in for good measure.

Not a true 10 miles, this one measures in at 10.25 and so I was pleased, given the extra 1/4 mile and the hills, to finish in a time of 1:08:49 and to take 1st female spot and 6th place overall, just out-sprinted for 5th place by the guy I had been running shoulder to shoulder with since mile 2. Need to work on that final finish-line kick of mine!

Nice race, lovely scenery, cheap to enter at £8, and fantastic cakes and pasties afterwards. Incidentally, our own Dave Stone is a former winner of this event, clocking a time of 62:00 in 2010.

At the 5.5 mile point, crossing the River Teign and about to hit a killer 2 mile long hill!

Now Chair is in the Cheviots!

Gosh he gets around! This weekend Harriers' chairman, Bob Keast, was up in the Cheviot hills taking part in the RAB mountain marathon. For most of us mere mortals running a 32 mile event just 3 weeks ago would be enough to put us off anything containing the word "marathon" for months to come, but not Chair. Always up for a mountain challenge he and his tent were cantering across the hills that border Scotland in a bid to bag as many checkpoints in the time limit across the 2 days as possible. With mountain marathons you not only have to haul yourself across some very challenging terrain but also all your gear that you need to set up overnight camp, which, on this occasion, was done in freezing temperatures as Bob awoke to a frost covered tent! He describes the terrain as not the most inspiring that he has ever encountered but he still enjoyed his two days up on the English-Scottish border, as this photo shows!

Lisa in another off-road muddy challenge!

Lisa Hatchard is sure loving her off-road, muddy trail races at the moment. In the past few weeks she has taken part in the Sourton Fell race, the Ivy Bridge Beacon Challenge and now, this Sunday, the 7 mile Minster Challenge. This is an Axe Valley Runners event as if they have their name behind it, you can be sure of one thing: mud! And this race had it, in abundance. 7 miles of mud, hills, rivers, styles, fields, tracks, trails, more mud - true multi-terrain running at its best.

Lisa lined up alongside a 97 strong field for the race around the countryside near Axminster. By now a dab hand at these challenging trail runs she made light work of the tough conditions to finish 50th overall and 6th female in a time of 1:09:10. The winning female, the talented Haldon Trail Runner Emma Hitchins, took 53:16 to cover the 7 taxing miles and the overall race winner was James Denne of Exeter Harriers, cantering home in a spritely 47:06.

Lisa now plans to get stuck into the Brooks Westward League cross-country series and you can be sure that all of these muddy trail events have provided ideal preparation for her! We wish her well!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Harriers are off to a Flyer!

On Sunday 8th October there were just 3 members flying the Harriers' flag at the Churston Flyer 5 mile race in South Devon. Organised by the South Devon Athletic club this is a fairly historic race that typically attracts a really high calibre of runner. In the last few years in particular it has seen some fine performances as this fast five mile race now incorporates the Ross Shield. This is a Devon County AA team prize for the first male and first female teams across the line. Unfortunately there were not enough Harriers on the day to contest the shield but the 3 individuals who ran nevertheless were mixing it up with the top team competitors and putting a few spanners in the works for those seeking high placings for their teams.

First Harrier home in an an outstanding 5th place in this high quality field was Adam Miller, posting a time of 28:14. This averages out at 5:39m/m for the 5 mile race and is equivalent to 78% on age graded percentage. Adam couldn't quite prevent a Torbay AC white wash, with 3 of their male athletes occupying the top 3 spots and naturally taking home the Ross Shield, but he was up there in the mix with the other fast boys from the area and showing that his current vein of form is continuing on into the Autumn.

Next in and having a superb run was Cathy Newman. Cathy now runs in the FV50 category, however, she is still speedy enough to also place outright in races and on this occasion she took 23rd place overall and the 2nd female spot, behind FV40 athlete, Jaine Swift of Erme Valley, in a time of 31:12. This converts to an extremely impressive age graded score of 88% and represents an average speed of 6:14m/m. If we rewind back to August and to Cathy's first race back in the UK, the Run Exe Summer 5k, she is now running faster than she did then over a much longer distance, showing that the training is really coming together and pointing to a very promising winter season. Cathy is clearly reaping the benefits of having a talented Ethiopian athlete living and training with her!

The third Harrier home was Carly Audritt. Having posted a solid time at the winter 3k track series on the Monday, then having run around the Killerton Parkrun on the Saturday, Carly's legs were clearly feeling sharp and ready to take on this fast five miler. She raced around the course in a time of 37:56 to give her 89th place overall and 8th woman. This was at an average speed of 7:35m/m. Again, as with Cathy, it is not so long ago that Carly was running slower than this over the 5k distance, showing the massive improvements that she has made throughout the summer and showing how her speed has picked up enormously, no doubt as a result of running the Parkrun regularly and by devoting herself to a more structured training regime.

Well done to all 3 Harriers!

148 finishers. Torbay AC won the male and female team events. How's about we try to do something about that next year folks and send a couple of crack teams down there to try and bring the Ross Shield home to Exmouth?!

Winter 3k series kicks off

The Devon Winter 3k Series is being held at the Exeter Arena on the first Mondays in October, November and December. It has a format unlike that of any other local running event. The short distance allows time for four or five races from ‘E’ (sometimes ‘D’)  for the slowest through to ‘A’ for the swiftest. This means that at any one event there are four or five athletes having the experience of crossing the line first in a race although that was sadly not to be for the five Exmouth Harriers there on 1st October. 

Les Turner was 10th in the ‘E’ race. Les is in the Men Over 65 age category but the race grading is done purely on times and Les was in a 13-strong ‘E’ race with ten different male and female age groups. Les clocked a steady 15:33 in finishing 10th and will be looking to improve on that time through the series, and perhaps land an age group prize. 

Carly Audritt, taking part in her first ever track race, was in the ‘D’ race. She finished 9th of 19 in 12:59. However athletes are promoted and relegated between grades so that those who greatly exceeded slow predicted times will transfer to a faster race next time, possibly giving Carly a chance to race for a place or win. 

Richard Bishop (MV45) was 6th of 17 in the ‘C’ grade, clocking a time of 11:38. However, as in Carly’s race, the first three or four are likely to move up a level so Richard too could find himself contesting first place. 

Contesting it with him could be Andrew Johnson (MV45) and Dave Eveleigh (MV55) who both found the pace of the B run a little too hot to handle, finishing 16th in 12:02 & 18th in 12:13 respectively of the 19 starters.  Dave had in fact won the ‘C’ race in 12:08 at the end of last winter and his movement up and now (probably) down the levels shows how the system works. It is not always as straight forward as that of course, but certainly the series puts people at the front of races who would never be there in an open event. 

For runners of all speeds and abilities who feel that they need to add a little speed to their stamina, the series comes highly recommended. If you have never raced on a track before, or if the past horrors of school PE lessons still dog your memory, this event is a great way to (re)introduce yourself to the track as it is friendly, encouraging and aimed at runners of all levels. Give it a go! Next round is Monday 5th November, info here: 

Monday, 1 October 2012

It's a brilliant Bristol for Mark and the Harriers

On Sunday 30th September was the annual running of the popular Bristol Half Marathon. Boasting a fairly flat and PB friendly course it attracts around 20'000 entrants yet manages to retain a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, making it appealing to first timers and elites alike.

In amongst a top quality field, which included the anticipated smattering of prize-money seeking Kenyans, some top national athletes, local club runners and the charity and fancy-dress contingent, our handful of Harriers set about achieving their own goals of personal or season's bests.

The first Harrier home not only chipped a few seconds off his personal best, he totally obliterated it! Marc Cox has only been running seriously for about a year and, over the summer particularly, his times have improved in startling leaps. His previous attempt at the 13.1 mile distance was in June at the Torbay event where he clocked a - still impressive, for a debut half - time of 90:06. Fast forward just 3 short months and he has managed to shave over 8 minutes off that time to post 81:45 at Bristol on Sunday. This gave him 142nd place in a field which contained 10'045 eventual finishers. Astounding indeed and leaves us wondering how much more there is to come, given that he has achieved all of this so far with basic training and no structured speed work. We wait with avid interest to see what 2013 brings!!

Next across the line, also setting a new PB (to the best of ed.'s knowledge, please correct if wrong!), was MV40 runner Jon Garrity. Since his huge improvements in times between 2011and 2012, Jon has consitently placed at the sharp end of the field in all races, and the Bristol event was no exception with his 89:57 giving him a coveted sub 1h30 clocking and earning his 522nd spot, placing him around about the top 10% of finishers. 

Dave Wright was not too far behind Jon and was unlucky on the day to just miss out on a sub 1h30 time, which he will certainly have been pushing hard for. He clocked 91:53 for 673rd place overall and this placed him well up the field in the MV50 category. With Dave once again signed up for the Dartmoor Discovery 32.3 mile ultra next year, he will now be looking to put in a solid base of autumn and winter miles before the hard work starts in earnest in the New Year!

Jane MacDonald, who runs both for the Harriers and the Exmouth Belles, can be satisfied with her achievement as she finished comfortably under the 2 hour mark in 1:52:01, placing her 3901 overall and well up in the women's rankings.

It was a Kenyan clean-up at the front of the pack with Dominic Ondoro winning the race in a sharp 62:51 and Emily Biwott leading the female charge with 71:22.

Top Devon athlete was Exmouth based runner, Tom Merson, who clocked a new PB of 68:31 to give him 20th spot overall.