Exe-rated runners!

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

Monday, 25 March 2013

10km, 4 Harriers, 3 category wins and 1 second: good stats!

A riddle for you: what is the most appropriately named 10k ever? Answer: this year's 'Wrap Up and Run' race. Why? Well, this year, due to the supremely inclement weather conditions, it easily claims the prize for the most suitable race title. The event is organised by the charity, Age Concern UK, and the event aims to raise money for and awareness of the winter heating allowance campaign. However, this year it mostly referred to how most of the competitors were dressed as they prepared to tackle this 10k event in Exeter in unseasonable, bitterly cold conditions.

The course profile is predominantly down hill, as it starts at the Princesshay Shopping Centre and then drops down to the quay, where runner complete one full loop of the First Chance 10k course, and finish on Haven Banks, so they do not have to regain the initial height they lost. Fast times were therefore up for grabs for those tough enough to brave the icy conditions.

Four Harriers were and for each of them wrapping up and running proved a worthwhile Sunday activity as they all achieved some great results, with personal bests and category wins across the board.

Dave Stone finished first in this event a year ago. This year, despite posting a faster time of 34:41, he had to be content with 6th place, highlighting the tough level of competition this year that was headed up by a familiar name and face, Tom Merson! He was, nevertheless, comfortably first man over 40 and this sub 35 minute time will give him a massive confidence boost as he prepares to tackle a World Record fancy dress attempt at the London Marathon for the 3rd year running. 

With a number of keen Harriers based in the village, Lympstone seems to have become something of a training hub for the club and Richard Hawes is showing the benefits of being up and running with that little group and benefiting from some training sessions with our Ethiopian guest, Berihu. On Sunday he took another sizeable chunk from his 10km PB - not forgetting here that he's only been running for about a year now! - recording 38:46. This meant that he only has to find 90 seconds in order to break the 10 mph barrier for 10km. Richard was an impressive 34th overall and he too won his age group (men over 45). 

Dave Eveleigh has been enjoying a fantastic start to 2013 so far. Following on from his 44:40 clocking - one of his fastest times in recent years - at the First Chance 10k in January, he has now obliterated that with an impressive 43:25 time at this event. This placed him comfortably within the top 100 finishers, in 82nd spot overall, and gave him a well-deserved and easy victory in the MV55 category, thus bagging the the third age group win for the club of the day. With this giving him an age-graded result in the high 70s, things are starting to get very interesting and highly competitive in the men's club championship! 

Catherine Gentry was the only female representative from the Harriers at the event but she did the ladies proud by finishing well up the field, in 132nd overall, and with a superb time of 47:16. This gave her a well-earned second spot in her women over 40 category. It should be pointed out that Catherine's finishing position seems all the more impressive when you learn that in this race there was the rare phenomenon of having more females finish than men! A sign that the times are a changin', perhaps?!

Well done to all the Harriers for wrapping up, running and braving the cold. We may only be a small club with a smattering of entrants at each event compared to some of the larger clubs, but we always punch well above our weight!

Dave, having just crossed the finish line in 6th overall and as 1st MV40!

Half-marathon fever hits the Harriers this weekend!

Harriers were competing in two very different half-marathon events across 2 counties this weekend. On a very cold and miserable Sunday morning, two Harriers headed to Tavistock to tackle the Tavy 13 and one went to neighboring Somerset to compete in the Yoevil Half.

In Tavy, Hannah Bown was having a leg stretch in order to assess her form as she is in the final stages of preparation for the London Marathon. Over a challenging and fairly hilly rural course, she could take satisfaction in knowing that the training has gone well as she posted a fine time for taxing course of 92:26. This gave her 28th place overall and a superb 3rd place in the female race. This being the Devon County A.A. half-marathon championships designated race, she also scooped herself a bonus bronze medal! Talented local Tavistock athelete, Jo Meek, had the added advantage of knowing the course and cruised to victory in a time of 84:05, taking 5th place overall, but Hannah was less than 2 minutes behind the 2nd placed female, Rebecca Mingo, and a clear 8 minutes ahead of 4th, so a good day out all in all and a confidence boost before London!

The other Tavy challenger was Ben White, who clocked a time of 1:51:36, showing just how tough this course is as Ben regularly churns out half-marathon times of 1:40 or better. This gave him 106th place overall, bang on halfway out of a select field of just 209 finishers. Dave Tomlin of Teignbridge Trotters retained his Tavy title, bettering his time from 2012 by 22 seconds with a 77:00 clocking.

Meanwhile, across the border in Somerset, Dan Morley went back to his roots to take part in the 3rd annual running of the Yoevil Half Marathon. Organised by Total Buzz Events, the race continues to grow year on year and this year saw a total of 1000 entrants and 813 eventual finishers. This was Dan's first time tackling the event and he reports that it was "a weird undulating course" (having run it myself in 2011, I would second that!). A king of the hill contest up Henford Hill at mile 6 adds to the fun but also to the difficulty rating and the 3 miles long drag back up to the finish (at Yoevil Town F.C.) is also a killer. Dan therefore did very well to finish in a time of 1:37:01 and in 134th place overall, well up the field. He reports that his next challenge is to find a faster course in the Autumn to try and target a sub 1:30 time and we're sure that with a good summer's build up, he'll easily achieve that.

Dan, on one of the less attractive sections of the Yeovil Half. 
The route is a veritable 'magical mystery tour' of Yeovil as it starts and finishes in an industrial estate, then takes runners through the town centre, through a country park, through suburban housing, past the Augusta Westlands helicopter plant, and out into the country-side for a couple of miles, showcasing the very best (... and worst?!) of what the town has to offer!

Monday, 18 March 2013

And in other news from the southern hemisphere....

... it's time to check in with Katie and, after a gap in updates, the news is now flooding in thick and fast. So prepare for a few installments from Comer's Corner!


Day 1 – Mic woke up with a really sore eye. Went to the hospital for some eye drops and to get it checked.  I went to the truck park to clean Cindy and do some general maintenance. Got back to the hotel to find Mic couldn’t open her eye and unable to go anywhere, so dashed out into Lima to print trip notes for the next leg, book a restaurant, buy lunch for the following day, change money and get more drugs for Mic. Got back to the hotel with 10 mins to spare before meeting our new passengers and to take them out to dinner!

Day 2 – Mic still couldn’t see so one of my pax, Bex, joined me to retrieve Cindy from the truck park and navigate on the way back. We still got lost as the route notes sent us right instead of left, but after a small miracle (and stopping to ask a policeman for directions) we still managed to get to the hotel on time.  A short drive day took us to Huacachino, where we set off dune buggying and sand boarding in the desert.  Sand boarding involves lying on a snowboard, and whizzing down various sand dunes which just kept getting steeper and longer the more we did! Great fun! We then watched a beautiful sunset, camped under the stars, drank pisco & coke and partied the night away.

Next morning, we were back in the dune buggies and returned to Huacachino for breakfast, before setting of along a beautiful desert road to Nazca. We stopped at the observatories to see the Nazca lines, before continuing to the campsite. The Nazca lines are large pictures in the desert, and are thought to have been made by the Incas as a plea to the Gods for rain, as it typically only rains for a total of two hours every year.  The lines have been made with volcanic rock, which radiates the suns heat thereby deflecting the sand which blows across them enabling the lines to remain clearly visible.  Some of our passengers then took a plane over the Nazca lines, whilst Mic & I went into Nazca to do some work and stock up on items for Cindy.

Day 4 – Met local guide Janssen, an archaeologist, and went to some cemeteries where mummies are still regularly found. Macabre but fascinating, the mummies are still in the graves and still have their hair and clothing, plus items buried with them. Janssen is a passionate and enthusiastic speaker who helped National Geographic locate a mummy of their own. After being offered a lollipop he also taught us that in Peru if a man sucks a lollipop he is openly declaring his homosexuality.  After dropping Janssen off we headed to Puerto Inka, an idyllic location where we camped on the beach and spent the afternoon relaxing, swimming and exploring, before dining over a open fire.

Day 5 – Headed off from Puerto Inka along a beautiful desert coastal road, before heading inland towards the ‘white’ city of Arequipa. A long drive day, we stopped for lunch en route at a yogurt factory where we sampled a number of different flavours which were available for ridiculously cheap prices. Arriving in Arequipa a wrong turning lead to fun and games negotiating a tight turn at a market where a local had parked his car right on the corner, rendering it almost impossible to get round. Cue a Dragoman style traffic jam for 5 minutes, I finally coaxed Cindy round the corner to applause from my passengers and locals alike. A lively evening followed with a pleasant meal, a bar, a powercut throughout the whole of Arequipa, and eventually we found ourselves dancing the night away in a bar which had a generator.

Day 6 – a free day in Arequipa. Spent the morning catching up on paperwork, before taking our passengers out for a very good lunch, where they had the chance to try guinea pig – this time a whole roasted one served on the plate. During the evening we went to the cinema to watch the Hobbit.

Day 7 – a late start. Finished a few last minute jobs before we left at midday to drive further into the Andes to Chivay, crossing a high pass of 4,900m en route.  A beautiful drive, we saw the first llamas, alpacas and vicunas of this trip and the scenery became more picturesque by the hour.  Arriving just before nightfall in Chivay, we put Cindy to bed and headed out with our passengers to get some dinner.

Day 8 – Colca Canyon day! Sadly very misty, but we headed optimistically into the canyon where we were (after a little patience) lucky enough to see two condors. We never managed to see into the canyon, but we did see some stunning views and enjoyed an easy walk before heading off to an ‘all you can eat’ buffet with a number of different dishes including one with sheeps lung which was actually very tasty. In the afternoon I took a group of passengers down to the hot springs to relax before getting an early night in anticipation of a long and challenging off-road drive day.

Day 9 – An early start was required as we headed over the Andes towards the tiny village of Raqchi. The views and the drive were simply incredible.  We stopped for an ‘on the road’ lunch with incredible views. Unfortunately Cindy decided that she had played ball long enough, and after a brief 5 minute stop at a small shop she refused to start.  After a quick assessment we determined that it was a problem with the starter motor. Fortunately we were facing downhill so a quick jumpstart did the trick so we could get to our destination and see if we could solve the problem there. Another hour of driving and we finally arrives at our home stay, where we spent the night in traditional houses with Peruvian families.

Day 10 – Our local guide, Smithy, took our passengers round the ruins at Raqchi while Mic & myself donned our overalls and got dirty in the mud under the truck.  A quick review identified problems with the connections to the starter motor which we repaired. Sadly Cindy still refused to start, and as we were running out of time we decided not to change the starter motor until we reached Cusco when we knew we had the time and equipment to do it. A quick clean up and our Peruvian mummy dressed us in traditional Peruvian clothing to watch a pottery demonstration and a Pacha Mama ceremony to pay tribute to Mother Earth. A quick lunch and it was back to the truck to manually released the handbrake as the air levels had dropped so the brakes had locked on. I then experienced one of those priceless moments, sat in the drivers seat, looking down on half a dozen Peruvian mummies dressed in the traditional clothing, all helping to push a 16 tonne truck to get us started. Priceless! 

Finally started (and the handbrake re-tightened) we headed on a short three hour drive to Cusco! So excited to be back, once we had Cindy put to bed and booked a restaurant, we got dressed up and headed out to dinner where a local band playing traditional music turned up at the restaurant, They were amazing! We then headed to the local nightclub,  Mythology where we negotiated free drinks for our passengers, and where they actively encourage dancing on the bar. Needless to say it was a good night, finally getting back to the hotel at 7am to get changed, dash out to the truck park to collect various items, then back to the centre to buy visitor passes for my passengers and get back to reception for 10am to meet our new passengers joining us for the Inca Trail, and to get an ill existing passenger medical treatment. Phew! Once done Mic & myself headed down to the Andina office to pay for the Inca Trail and confirm arrangements. A quick lunch and we were back at the truck park to arrange to have various jobs done and do some quick maintenance before returning to the hotel to pack for the Inca Trail and find Christmas hats for everybody. A quick half hour power nap and shower, and I was back in reception to meet our guides, Smithy and Paul, ready for them to go through the plan of action with our passengers for the following day.  Finally Mic & myself grabbed a weary bite to eat, before getting an early night.

Inca Trail day dawned… and it was raining!  Not that it seemed to dampen spirits. An enthusiastic crowd set off to our first ruin, Sachsayhuaman, where I discovered that Paul was an exceptionally good guide. From a Quechuan community, he understood the mountains better than any guide I have ever joined on the treks, he is passionate about passing on information and it was fascinating listening to him.  A short drive on to Pisac ruins, followed by lunch and we were finally ready to start trekking to our first community of Cancha Cancha.  The weather fortunately improved for the first afternoon and we were lucky to enjoy spectacular views on the way up.

The second day of the trek, over the high pass of 4,900m to the community of Quishwarni started in beautiful sunshine, but sadly not for long.  By the end of the day we had experienced four seasons in a day – sun, rain, fog, hail and snow! Even so, the clouds parted at the top of the pass revealing stunning glaciers, deep valleys and spectacular views. Simply beautiful!

The third day dawned, Christmas Eve!! After a good breakfast we helped to set up Christmas celebration for the local children, with hot chocolate, bread rolls and a T-Shirt.  Soon afterwards we were off again on a steep uphill ascent. Unfortunately one of my passengers had a slight asthma attack, although she was fine after a short rest and an enforced slower pace. Again we started in good weather, only to hit poor conditions as we approached the pass.  In the first group to reach the pass, Mic and I proceeded to shout encouragement to those who followed with promises of chocolate and rum at the top with amazing results!  The way down wasn’t quite so straight forward with a couple of struggling passengers – one due to sore knees and another due to illness. Staying with the back group we made our way down the mountain until I suddenly realised Paul was taking a different route to the one I had used before in order to avoid a potentially dangerous river crossing. Putting my running to good use, I tore down the mountain to get directions so I could safely guide my ailing group safely down the mountain – a job which was getting more difficult with the onset of heavy rain and thick fog. Fortunately Paul was good with his directions, and once he had got the rest of the group to safety he made sure we on the right track behind. Lunch was welcome and the weather suddenly improved for the last two hours to the hot springs for some rest and relaxation.
The evening brought entertainment in the form of a Merry Christmas Peruvian drinking game called Todititito, with a few added international drinking rules for good measure. 3am finally arrived and we rolled into our tents.

Christmas morning dawned and I was back in the hot springs, before a traditional Peruvian Christmas breakfast of hot chocolate and bread. Ollayantaytambo.

Truck day – pax Machu Picchu. Return – Fallen Angel, Paddy’s, back to Mythology for a celebratory night. 6am back to the hotel or a few hours sleep. Jacks, breakfast. Truck day. Problems – fridge taken away. Test drive – breakdown. Got her going, back to truck park. Changed filters in the dark – Mic back to do meeting. Finally got back at 10pm with fridge due to arrive at 7am, nearly an hour late but it was back and it was working.

Set off to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Stopped at Sillustani ruins en route. Amazing lightening storm in the distance. Went out for dinner – xmas celebrations and street dancing.

Sent pax off to Uros islands, did paperwork!! Collected truck, met pax at docks for lunch. Set off around Lake Titicaca towards Copacabana, crossing the border to Bolivia. Stopped en route to see Indian head in rock. Fatima’s for dinner.

Accounts and paperwork day at Fatima’s whilst pax went to Isla del Sol.

Set off to La Paz. Ferry crossing across the lake. Reached La Paz (translation ‘The Peace’) to find complete chaos ready for New Year. 

Katie celebrated Christmas day on the Inca Trail, but still managed to dig out her antlers!

Statues on the shores of Lake Titicaca (no sniggering in the back row!) in Bolivia.

Captain Teed triumphant in the Falklands!

Breaking news: On Sunday March 17th, Exmouth Harriers' ladies' captain, Dawn Teed, won the Stanley Marathon, in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, in a superb time of 3:50:24. This is only 15 minutes short of her life-time best for the distance. At 49 years old, Dawn saw off some much younger international competition, most of whom would not have just stepped off a 15 hour flight and have been travelling for 2 days to get there to run! Her time seems even more outstanding when you know that it was achieved on a course which advertises itself as one of the toughest international marathons, where the gradients, the weather, the terrain and the exposure all add to the difficulty. 

Dawn's partner, Hugh Marsden, who has recently been working on South Georgia, is himself a former Stanley Marathon winner and has represented the Falklands territory over the 26.2 mile distance at two Commonwealth Games. Dawn can now boast having achieved the same and we are sure that Hugh will be very proud of her, having done all the training without him, through the long, hard winter months, back here in Devon. 

After lying in second place for much of the race, Dawn passed the long-time leading woman with about 4 miles to go. Interviewed on Falkland Islands Radio afterwards, Dawn modestly pronounced: “I just kind of reeled her in”! Explaining that her opponent had experience of Half Marathons, while the full distance places a much higher premium on endurance. This might explain why her opponent started to fade in the latter stages of the race, whilst Dawn remained strong, dug in and worked hard to get past her. As her club-mates, we can all tell you that it was nothing more complicated than good old fashioned training miles that have given her that endurance and no magical potion on the day, other than determination. Her winnings for the event - which is sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank - will most certainly have paid for her flight out there and practically lift her into the ranks of the elite! This little piece of international glory could not have been granted to a nicer person and Dawn, we'd just like to say that all of the Harriers are thrilled for you and extremely proud of you. Good work Captain!

Dawn takes the tape as the first female!

Dawn receives her winnings: a rather large cheque (in both size and amount!). Small wonder she is grinning from ear to ear!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

It's a drizzly Grizzly for the Harriers!

On Sunday 10th March, one of the most iconic races in the area.... NO!, in the country, took place and that is the infamous Grizzly! Grizzly by name and - certainly this year more than ever - grizzly by nature, some very miserable, cold and wet weather made for a tougher than usual drizzly Grizzly! This did not deter the merry band of Exmouth Harriers who signed up for the race, however, and it certainly didn't stop them from putting in some fine performances. Undoubtedly the performance of the day has to go to Mike Musgrove, who managed to dislodge Dave from the Stone Throne for the first time ever by taking 13th place overall and beating many quality runners who, on paper, are faster than him, but the Grizzly is of course about much more than speed alone. Hannah Bown also had a fine run to make the top 10 female finishers and showing that preparations for her London Marathon PB attempt are going well. Below is the press report by Dave Eveleigh:

Few events can have caught amateur runners’ imaginations like the Axe Valley Runners’ Seaton based “Grizzly”. It is basically a mainly off-road Marathon but while many have tried to match its combination of meticulous organisation and quirkiness it remains unique in its ability to please runners of all abilities. As usual Exmouth Harriers had a number of representatives in this year’s race on 10 March. With Final results not yet available some times are approximated to the nearest minute only. Second claim member, Tom Merson was 2nd by just 4 seconds in 2:24:11. In 13th and in a time of 2:43:39 was Lympstone based fire-fighter Mike Musgrove who produced the performance his hard work in training merited, and which also won him 2nd place in the Over 40 category. Dave Stone is an old hand at the Grizzly. Nevertheless 25th in 2:49:7 and 3rd Over 40 is probably more than a good day at the office, even for Dave. Jon Croome is something of a specialist in multi-terrain racing but still would have been more than satisfied with 86th place (16th Over 45) and a time of 3:07:19. First female Exmouth Harrier was the club’s current Athlete of the Year, Hannah Bown, not resting on her laurels, achieving 143rd in 3:15 and 10th woman. Like most runners Terry Oldham would not often stand out and in cycling might be called a “domestique” but he puts the miles in and 10th place in his over 55 section was a pretty impressive, his overall position being 387th and his time 3:43. There were five more Harriers who finished and before noting their times and positions they of course ran just as far over just as many hills and got just as dirty! Emma Dupain finished 454th in 3:48 and was 49th Woman. Nic Brown was 458th in 3:50 and was 87th Man Over 40. Lorraine Croome 541st with 3:54:30 and made the top 100 women with 70th, and was 14th woman over 45. Martin Richard finished right in the middle of the field in 735th place of 1447 finishers. Jean Cooper just missed out on the top 1000 with 1090th, 237th woman and a time of 4:44.

And below here a report and some photos by avid Grizzly-ite, Terry Oldham, gives you a real flavour of this very unique and special event:

If you know about the Grizzly, then that is all you need to know. If you don’t know, then there is a lot to learn! Those that took part in the 2013 Grizzly run on Sunday, 10th March, 2013, from Seaton, organised by Axe Valley Runners, on a 20.25 mile loop over to Beer, Branscombe, and the valleys and hills leading off, will either have had an experience they may not wish to repeat, or like many a competitor, they will come back to repeat it year after year. To add to the usual mix, this year had the weather to contend with as well, with the temperature dropping during the race, and the wind picking up, so providing a bracing and very cold head wind on the return to Seaton.
This is a run that packs a Grizzly punch, with shingle beach, hills, valleys, streams, and yet more shingle beach. It will push you hard whatever pace you run at, and one can only respect those runners who are heading the pack. One of those was Tom Merson, Exmouth Harrier, who has returned to peak performance recently, and this showed as he came in to finish second in a very tight race with Hasting AC runner, Jeff Pyrah. The battle commenced from the get go as they left the start line at Seaton and straight on to the beach for half a mile, before hitting the roads over to Beer, from there it was field paths, open fields, beach, hills, woodland trails and then back to the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which raises you straight from the beach at Branscombe up to Beer Head. The last few miles then drop down to Beer and back along roads to the finish at Seaton. And after of all that? There were only 4 secondsbetween them, 1st place in 2:24:07 and second in 2:24:11, so a right royal battle indeed.
Notable performances too from fellow Exmouth Harriers, Mike Musgrove, 13th position (2:43:39), and Dave Stone, 25th (taking part in his 15th Grizzly) (2:49:07), Jonathan Croome 86th (3:07:19), and Hannah Bown, first Exmouth Harriers lady, in 143rd (3:13:56) and 10th lady overall. Other Harriers taking part were: Mark Thompson 171st(3:19:50), Terry Oldham, 387th (3:42:11), Emma Dupain, 454th and Ben White 455th (both 3:47:11), Nick Brown 458th (3:49:30), Lorraine Croome 541st (3:56:10), Martin Richards 735th (4:10:00), Jean Cooper 1090th and Jane MacDonald 1092nd (both 4:43:29). There were 1447 finishers.
An unfamiliar sight for Dave: a rear view of Mike's vest! Near the start of the Grizzly.

Jean Cooper, enjoying some time on the beach in freezing cold conditions!

Life's a beach for Lorraine Croome... albeit a pebbly one!

Ben and Emma: fresh faced and all smiles at the start!

Ben and Emma: still all smiles at the finish, but not quite so fresh faced!

Monday, 4 March 2013

... and yet more PBs obliterated in Bideford!

Not to be upstaged by the Bath Mob, another batallion of Harriers went to wage battle in Bideford. Also offering a fast, flat course "in magnificent countryside alongside the River Torridge between Bideford & Great Torrington. The course is half on country roads and half on the Tarka Trail which was formerly a railway line (you even get to run through a tunnel)" (event website). 

The Harriers at Bideford matched those as Bath in terms of both number (7) and performance (excellent!). 

Unsurprisingly, Dave Stone led them all home in a time of 77:32 for 13th place overall and a very well deserved 3rd MV40 place in what proved to be a very high quality field in this ever-strong category on the day. Speedy-Stonie is clearly on the mend after the back trouble that plagued him during the Fulford 5 race last month.

Cathy Newman was the next Harrier in, tackling the half-marathon distance for the first time in a few years and making a darn good job of it! She recorded a superb time of 85:50 for 55th spot overall and a very well deserved 2nd placed female overall. Even more amazing is that Cathy runs in the FV50 category, so she not only beat every other female in that category, but all but one of them in entire race! AND, as if that already wasn't impressive enough, she also beat all of the male vet 50s into the bargain!! This gives her a massive 89.31% on age-graded! The gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down for the Harriers' female club championship!!

A familiar name to many Harriers, if not a familiar face as he cannot train as much as he would like with the Harriers due to work committments, is Adrian Kearns. Adrian pops up at races from time to time, proudly sporting the Harriers blue and yellow, and always gives a good account of himself. On this occasion he clocked 86:54 for 71st place overall and 19th MV40.

An ever-improving Lisa Hatchard was the next Harrier home. Now proving her credentials on the road to back some some super recent performances at multi-terrain events, Lisa placed 237th overall and 8th FV35 in a time of 99:57, just bagging herself that covetted sub 1:40 clocking and giving herself a nice springboard - not to mention confidence boost - as she prepares to tackle the Paris Marathon this April.

Ladies captain, Dawn Teed, was in next and setting her fellow ladies a fine example with determined and gutsy performance that earned her 313th spot overall and a truly superb and well deserved 2nd place in the FV45 section! This is a highly competitive race and so Dawn did a fine job to get on the podium in her category. As with Lisa, this shows that Dawn has timed her training and raced just right as she prepares to fly out to the Falklands in 2 weeks time to tackle the island's marathon. We wish her and her partner, Hugh, luck!

Joan Mason was next across the line in a time of 1:53:21. This was a fantastic run for Joan and represented a PB for her over the distance by 40 seconds: proving that with hard work and determination, PBs are still achievable even after years of running! Last autumn she ran 1:56:28 at the Birmingham Half and so to have shaved 3 minutes off that time over the winter is testimony to her efforts and committment to training over the cold, dark winter months. This gave her 476th place overall and 9th FV50.

Roger Riggs was definitely a man with something to smile about when he crossed the finish line on Sunday. His time of 1:58:31 was less than a minute outside of his life time best - set at the Great West Run last May - and this despite a season of injury problems over the autumn / winter. This time, which gave him 585th place overall and 28th MV55, will give Roger huge encouragement that he well on the road to recovery and getting back to his best.

There were 867 finishers. Top man was Jim Cole of Tavistock AC in 68:56 and top woman on the day was Helen Dyke of Poole Runners in 82:04.

The Bideford batallion, ready for the off! L - R: Roger Riggs, Joan Mason, Lisa Hatchard, Dawn Teed, Dave tone, Cathy Newman.
Maybe the Harriers could club together to buy Dave a trip to the sun to get some colour on those pins!! ;-)

PBs blasted in Bath!

The distance of choice for all the Harriers who raced this weekend was the half marathon, but there were two locations on offer: Bath or Bideford. Both have in common that they offer flat, fast courses, ideal for the first timer stepping up to the half distance or for the seasoned campaigner seeking a PB opportunity. Both courses delivered on both counts with many first time Harrier half-ers bagging good times and with others obliterating their PBs. Here's how they all got on....

Seven Harriers were on the start line of the Bath Half. The entry fee for this one, at £40, is much steeper than Bideford, but in exchange it offers the thousands of runners who participate the 'big city half' feel and the fantastic atmosphere that goes along with it, which can make all the difference when running on tired legs in the last few miles. Here's how they all got on:

First Harrier home in a superb new PB time of 74:38, knocking over 2 minutes off his Exeter Half time set just 3 weeks earlier, was Adam Miller. This was good enough for 69th place overall: a top 100 finish in a field of this quality is nothing short of amazing! Adam just keeps getting better and better as the months go by and is reaching the realms of mass production when it comes to the amount of new PBs he keeps churning out! With his times from the First Chance 10k, the Exeter Half and now this race, he's also set down a good challenge for the Exmouth Harriers club championship, not to mention setting himself up very nicely for another PB attempt in London in April this year.

Exactly 4 minutes later, Adam's training partner (in crime!), Mike Musgrove crossed the line in a time of 78:34. This was an agonizing 22 seconds shy of his best ever time over the distance, set at the Bideford event in 2011. He was 130th overall and 19th MV40. This has got to be a massive confidence boost for Mike that he is in great shape at this stage of the season as he too prepares to take on London again. Also, like Adam, it represents a great start to his club championship campaign. It's also a great advert for the 400m diameter football field in Lympstone in which Mike has been clocking up the miles as Devon's up-and-coming premier training venue!! ;-)

Richard Hawes was making his debut over the distance, having seen some startlingly speedy improvements over his handful of attempts at the 10k distance over the past few months, he now felt ready to take on the next challenge. A bout of winter flu interrupting his training schedule wasn't enough to keep this new Harriers speedster from running a sub 90 minute clocking at his first half-marathon. He posted 1:29:10 for 512th place overall and 41st MV45: not bad for someone whose first ever race was only in April last year! Rich's wife, Karen (not a Harrier..... YET!), was also running in her first half at the event and completed in 2:15:33.

Next in was Jane Macdonald. No stranger to this event, Jane has run the Bath Half each year for the past three years (and she only took up competitive running in 2011, so every year since then!). Her PB on this course, and at the distance overall, was set last year (1:49:26). This year she finished just a shade outside of that in 1:52:22 for 3680th place overall, 671st female and 55th FV45.

The husband and wife team of Martin and Diana Richards were next home, just outside the 2 hour mark. Martin ran 2:04:39 for 7288th place and Diana was hot on his heels in 2:07:08 for 7645th place overall. Diana will have been pleased with this solid run in her build up for the London Marathon. The fact that less than 3 minutes separated them both and yet this equated to a difference of over 350 places gives you a good idea of just how many complete this race and are piling through the finish funnel every minute!

Celebrating her birthday with a weekend away in Bath with husband Mike and fellow Harrier friends, Nic Musgrove should be applauded for running 13.1 miles on Sunday morning when most would be still in bed in the hotel nursing a hangover! Not Nic though, who was fresh and a daisy and cantering around the course in a time of 2:11:54 for 8341st spot in this, only her 2nd ever half-marathon. Will she leave it there, or will Mike's competitiveness rub off and she'll try to get under the 2hr mark? We somehow think it might be the latter!

Well done to all the Harriers, especially to the first timers at the distance and to those setting new PBs. Don't forget, if you want your performance to count towards the Harriers' annual club championship, you need to email me (Ellie) with your D.O.B. and result!