Exe-rated runners!

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

Friday, 4 July 2014

Announcement re. future of the blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on runnin' everyone!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Harriers females are dashing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inter-club battles spice up Run Exe 5k

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 2 June 2014

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

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

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

Edinburgh Marathon

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

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

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

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

Devon County Track and Field Championships, Plymouth

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

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

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

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

Muskies Madne5.5, Plymouth

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

Friday, 23 May 2014

Harriers super-vets are national champions!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harriers go all night long at Hope 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendships were forged and bromances blossomed at the Hope 24!

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

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

Monday, 12 May 2014

In other bank holiday news...

North Dorset Villages Marathon

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

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

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

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

Killerton 10k

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cathy is British Masters 10k champion!

Exmouth Harrier's female vet super-star, Cathy Newman, was in action in the East of England over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Combining the trip with a bank holiday break, Cathy travelled across the country to Kings Lynn to take part in the BMAF 10k championships, which was this year incorporated into the Grand East Anglia Run 10k event. 

As you might expect of a race held in this neck of the woods, the course was flat and so fast times were very much up for grabs. Cathy has been running really well of late, having put together some consistent training all winter; however, just a week before, she was struck down with a sinus infection that then turned into a nasty cold, and so on race day she was not at her absolute best. Nevertheless, that didn't seem to hold her back too much as she ran an amazing race on the town centre course to finish 136th overall (out of a field of over 1700 runners), 10th lady overall (out of nearly 700 ladies) and a comfortable category winner in the FV50 section in her superb time of 38:28. This was only 7 seconds shy of her season's best, set in Exeter in March on a predominantly downhill course, so this time is really something special. To give you an idea of how special, it puts Cathy as 3rd in the whole country in the women over 50 section for the 10k distance, behind Kate Wright from Stratford, who ran 37:34 at the Bourton 10k, and the extremely talented Fiona Matheson, who recently ran 36:11 at an all-female 10k in Glasgow. Great job Cathy!


Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Dupain clan tackle the Plymouth half

On Sunday 27th ApriI, five Exmouth Harriers were in Plymouth for the annual running of the city's Half Marathon. Now organised by Go2 Events (who also organise the Bath Half and, now, the Great West Run), this is by no means the fastest, flattest course ever, but it does showcase all the main sights and features of Plymouth, including the Hoe, the river, Saltram Park and the Barbican.

Having recovered from his record-breaking London Marathon performance 2 weeks previously, Dave Stone was back in his racing vest on this occasion and delivering a fine performance in it too. His solid time of 81:02 on this testing course was good enough for 24th spot overall and a creditable 3rd spot and bronze medal in the ever-competitive MV40 section.

A little short of his PB but, again, not forgetting that this is not really a PB course, was Chris Dupain with his time of 90:34. More significantly, Chris position, inside the top 100 (89th), is perhaps a better indicator of the strength of his performance on this occasion. Chris has been on a half-marathon mission this year and has been running really well. A superb time of 18:10 at a recent 5k event shows that he has the speed and, if he can work on his endurance, then a half-marathon PB could well be forthcoming later in the season - perhaps at the Torbay Half?

Chris' sister, Hannah Bown, had to take 2nd in the family race-within-a-race. Sibling rivalry can only help to boost individual performances and, on this occasion, it helped Hannah to run a fine time of 92:47 for 191st spot overall and a well deserved top 10 spot in the female section overall (9th) and 2nd spot and silver in the FV35 category.

Questioning why she lets her siblings drag her into all these events - having initially planned to just go and support Chris and Hannah as she had a hockey match the previous day - Emma White nevertheless gave a good account of herself. Again, showing a remarkable ability to juggle two very different, but equally demanding, sports simultaneously, Emma finished in  time of 1:41. (Actual position unknown as she doesn't appear in the results, having taken the number last minute).

Despite both being septuagenarians, Mike Keep and Mick Allen were counted in the MF60 section in this race, as there wasn't a category for persons older than this: disappointing, considering the size of the field and the cost to enter it, really something that race organisers should be considering now that more and more people are taking such good care of themselves that they are still able to run competitively in this age bracket and want to have a good, fair race with people of their own age. Therefore, unsurprisingly there were no podium performances for the lads on this occasion. Mike was 1702nd and dipped in under 2 hours with 1:56:59 and Mick placed 2858th in 2:13:27.

The race was won by Exmouth based, second claim Harrier, Tom Merson, in 68:44, while there was an impressive performance by the first woman, Lucy McAlister, like Tom running for Bristol and West. Lucy was 10th overall and recorded 78:02       

The Dupain siblings at the Plymouth Half: Hannah, Chris and Emma. 
Photo call over, time to head back to base for a Sunday roast and to mull over the race!

Jane's hearty effort pays off at Haldon!

On Saturday 26th April was the 4th running of the Haldon Heartbeat 8.5 mile trail race. Organised by the Haldon Trail Runners, this off-road event starts and finishes at Exeter Race course, on the top of Haldon Hill, and sees runners tackle some of the finest off-road running that the forest has to offer, with plenty of mud and a lot of hills thrown in too.

There were 4 representatives from the Exmouth Harriers on the startline, of which 3 were ladies, but, unfortunately, that left us one short to close in a team to wage our attack on the ladies' team prize. Nonetheless, all 4 of us had good runs with a little bit of individual glory thrown in.

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the first Harrier home. In my first proper race back since injury, I took this one extremely cautiously, as the last time I ran over 6.5 miles, let alone 8.5, was way back in January. The conservative start paid off as I was able to make my way through the field once I knew that my calf was behaving itself and slowly clawed my way up to 18th place overall and 3rd female, finishing just 1 place and 20 seconds behind 2nd in 60:13, though some way off the time of 56 minutes I ran in my first year of running in 2011: a reminder of how much fitness I've lost these past few months!

Next in, just a few places behind me in 25th, was Jon Croome. Great to see Jon well and truly over his injury of last year and enjoying his off-road running again. His time of 62:07 shows his fitness is almost back to where it was too.

The run of the day, however, came from Jane Macdonald. Jane ran a perfectly paced, strong race and finished in a time of 70:11 in 69th place overall. However, she took the top spot in the women aged 45 category: this is her second categroy win, following her first at the tough Haytor Heller race last summer. Jane clearly has a talent for these tough, hilly off-road races and her improving performances are just reward for all the hard work she's put in in training since joining the Harriers last year. Well done!

Jane's win unfortunately came at the expense of a victory for Lorraine Croome, who also runs in the FV45 category and narrowly missed out on the win, having to content herself with 2nd place on this occasion. Nevertheless, Lorraine still had a good run and posted a solid time of 70:43 for 72nd spot overall.

An unusual purple technical tee-shirt was the reward for the 197 runners who completed this race, and what a joy to have a selection of extra small shirts so us more petite ladies can actually wear it for a change and not have to use it as a nighty!

Solid runs for the Harriers at the Bampton-Tiverton 7

The Harriers unfortunately didn't manage to put a couple of teams together for the Bampton to tiverton 7 mile road race which, this year, incorporated the Ross Shield team competitions within it, in addition to it being one of the counting races in the InStep Devon Championship race series.

Men's and ladies' team captains, Adam and Carly Miller, had hoped to get a couple of teams together for the race, but due to the event taking place on Easter Monday, many people were either away, recovering from the London Marathon, or out with injury. That said, a few Harriers did toe the start line and all gave good individual accounts of themselves.

Leading the team by example, Adam Miller was the first Harrier home, in the unlucky position of 4th overall (a.k.a., first one back to not get a prize), missing out on 3rd spot by just 21 seconds with his time of 40:41.

In 43rd place with a time of 50:03 was Andrew Johnson. Andrew is a big fan of historic  road race events such as these and always doles out some consistent performances, year after year.

Next, and coming in in quick succession, were our super-vet duo of Roger Rowe (97th in 60:28) and Mike Keep (98th in 60:37). After 5 knee operations and a life-time mileage count in the region of 50'000 miles, Roger has had to reign back his ambitions in recent years and just be content to be able to enjoy the sport at a more leisurely pace. Mike, however, is still running strongly for his age group and took a well deserved top spot in the over 70s category here - great work!

170 finished the race. Perhaps the being bused out to the start and/or running along a busy road that is not closed to traffic have led to a dimished uptake in numbers at this race. It would be a real shame to see it drop off the race calendar though as it is one of the longest standing races in the county.

The one that got away....

Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan was keen to text me and point out that I missed the poor chap's performance at the Exe to Axe race before Easter. My apologies Scott - you slipped through my net - so here's to rectify that and give you the mention your performance deserves!

In his heyday Alf Tupper was known as the “Tough of the Track”. The emphasis now in amateur running circles is much less on multiple circuits of the 400m oval so perhaps we could use the sobriquet “Tough of the Trail” for our 2 Trigs, as he is rapidly carving out a reputation for himself in the club for his strength in long distance, tough, off-road races.

His superb performance at the 4 Trigs event this year was, as you know, very well documented. He backed that up with another solid run at the infamous Grizzly race at the beginning of March. Clearly showing no ill-effects or signs of tiredness from what were, already, 2 very hard runs and perhaps the equivalent of a road marathon in terms of how much they take out of your legs, Scotty boy bounced back with fresh legs to tackle the Exe to Axe race. Normwall 20 miles long, diversions in both Sidmouth and Beer due to cliff landslides meant that the race was in fact nearer to the 22 mile mark this year. In light of this, Scott's time of 3:38:57 is very good indeed. He finished in 30th position in a field of 171 runners: the largest field assembled for some years, showing an ever-growing popularity for these types of tough challenges.

Club-mate Nicholas Brown, making one of his few but meaningful appearances on the race circuit, placed inside the top 50% of the field in 82nd with his time of 4:12:4.

Well done to both runners.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fast Friday flew by

Again, thanks to Dave Eveleigh for the following report on a new event, organised by the Iron Bridge Runner brigade on those all-too familiar paths and tracks around Flower Pots Fields in Exeter. A special mention to the first Harrier home, donning the blue and gold for the first time, our latest recruit, Pete Fletcher: welcome to the clan Pete! After this debut, we expect great things from you.... no pressure!! ;-)

In Exeter, on Good Friday 18th April, four Exmouth Harriers were taking part in the Ironbridge Runner Events ‘Fast Friday' 10K. Making his debut for the club and at the distance was Peter Fletcher. The field was 105 strong (around 49 being women) and rather spread out at the front, over 5 minutes (more than 3/4 mile) covering the first ten home. Peter would have been pleased to finish in that first ten, he was 6th in 38:07, but in a bigger field with more athletes around him to work off he could expect a big improvement on that inaugural Personal Best. Next in from the Exmouth club was Dave Eveleigh in 57th place, in a somewhat disappointing time of 50:51. Roger Rowe was 68th in 53:04. There was a time when Roger would have expected to be in front of Dave, even with the younger runner at his best. Hard to say whether various sporting activities over the years have contributed to the problems which restrict his running these days but it would be hard to imagine Roger having too many regrets as he enjoyed the event a whole! Also at this new 10K was Mike Musgrove in the demanding role of Guide Runner to a visually impaired athlete.

London calling....

And thanks to Dave Eveleigh for producing the following report on what was yet another extremely successful London for the Harriers clan. Well done to everyone on your superb times, performances, PBs, world records (that man Stoney's been at it again....!) and on all the hard earned money you raised for your respective charities.

With extensive television coverage you could hardly be unaware of the London Marathon taking place last Sunday (13 April). Among over 22,000 running were several participants from Exmouth.

Best placed of these overall was Dave Stone who was 569th (putting him in the top 3%) and 107th Man Age 40 – 44 in a time of 2:49:51. Dave was attempting to claim a World Marathon record for a runner dressed as a television character and to this end was dressed as Virgil Tracy of Thunderbirds fame. Given his time though it can be assumed that Dave was not adopting the persona so enthusiastically that he moved like the puppet Virgil was. This is the fourth time Dave has done the London race in costume. This year Dave has used his participation to raise funds for the St John Ambulance, deciding on this cause after they came to his aid when he fell at a recent race. I wonder if Dave can recall which Thunderbird Virgil flew though?

Mike Musgrove was raising funds for Whizz-Kidz. The recurrence of a calf injury did not stop him finishing and he was still comfortably inside 3 hours but he would have been hoping for a much better time than the 2:54:16 he recorded. He was 813th overall (top 4%) and 91st Man Aged 45-49.

Over 70 Veteran Mike Keep is another who has had to overcome injury recently so he would have been happy to complete the course in 4:14:17 in 15,029th place, leaving a third of the finishers behind him. Impressively there were 20 runners in his age category ahead of him.

Jane MacDonald was 8712th overall and 232nd Woman Age 45-49 in 3:48:49, a minute faster than in Amsterdam last year and believed to be a new Personal Best. Jane’s performance was particularly even paced and she used her participation to raise funds for Diabetes UK.

Amanda McCann finished 11,414th in 3:58:41, so just inside 4 hours but just outside the top half of the field. Amanda was 480th in her Women Aged 40-44 category and she was raising funds for Cancer Research UK.

Lorraine Kirby was not far behind Amanda with a time of 4:01:37 for 12,127th place. She was 356th in the female 45-49 age group

Virgil flew Thunderbird 2, the green one!

PBs and podium placings for the Harriers at Taunton

Howdie all. Apologies for the lack of activity on the Harriers blog for the past few weeks. Yours truly, the only person with access to the blog, has been away on her travels and without internet access. However, Carly Miller very kindly responded to my call to be a guest blogger for the day and has compiled this following report about the Taunton half and full marathons, which took place on April 6th. Thanks a million to Carly for this detailed account of what sounds like a superb day at the office for all the Harriers representatives on the start line.

On the 6th April, 6 Exmouth Harriers travelled to Taunton to take part in the marathon and half marathon races. The predicted rain held off, leaving the runners with almost ideal cool, dry conditions in which to take on the route. The half marathon is raced over one lap, through the streets of Taunton and out into the Somerset countryside. The race organisers describe the course as undulating, with runners having to contend with a rather large hill at 11 miles. For those competing in the marathon, the hill must be faced twice, as runners complete 2 laps of the half marathon course.

Tom Merson was a last minute entrant to the half marathon, having managed to get a race number from an injured Anthony Hatchard. Following recent controversy over Tom’s choice of racing gear, he decided not to wear his favoured Exmouth vest, and instead opted for one which clearly showed him to be a Bristol and West runner (although not official B&W kit –setting us all a bad example, once again, tut tut!) Despite having raced hard the previous day in the 12 stage road relays, Tom had a fantastic run, winning the race in a time of 1:08:55.

Just behind him (well, 7 minutes), came Adam Miller, finishing second in a time of 1:16:05. Adam had been battling with Torbay’s Arran Tocknell around most of the course, but after climbing the hill together at 11 miles, Adam managed to pull away from him on the long downhill stretch, and open up a 50 second gap. Adam was over the moon with his second place, and, having won his first ever cash prize, tells me he is planning to go professional.

Making her debut at the half marathon distance was Alice Kelly, who set herself a relatively conservative target of 2 hours, which she absolutely smashed, coming home as 7th senior lady in 1:37:19. Alice clearly enjoyed the race, as anyone could see by her beaming face as she completed the last mile. Alice seemed to be running very comfortably, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she managed to improve on that time quite considerably in the future.

Mick Allen also ran the half marathon race, and this year was able to compete in a vet 70 category – a category in which he managed to finish 3rd, in a time of 2:01:44.

Two brave souls, the husband and wife team of Ben and Emma White, chose to take on the marathon. Ben had been struggling with allergy problems leading up to race day, and was therefore not feeling at his best, but chose to give the race a go anyway. It must have taken a lot of grit and determination to turn away from the finish line at half way, and set off on that lonely second lap, but Ben kept going, managing to complete the course in a time of 4:11:50.

His wife, Emma, had a fantastic run, but finished feeling very disappointed after missing a ‘Good for Age’ London qualifying time by less than 90 seconds. After running most of the first after alongside Alice Kelly, and going through halfway in just over 1:40, Emma found the second half tougher, and struggled to stay on pace to achieve her target of a sub 3:45 marathon. Despite this, she finished in a new PB time of 3:46:21, and was the 9th lady home. Hopefully, on reflection, Emma realises what an achievement that time was on a testing course.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Harriers hunt PBs at Age UK's Exeter 10k

There were 8 Harriers on the start line of the Age UK Exeter 10k on Sunday March 23rd. Formerly the Wrap Up and Run 10k, the Exeter race was going to be dropped from the programme this year until InStep Devon (in)stepped in and put up the funding and support to enable it to go ahead and, thankfully it did, as it sold out before race day with all 850 places snapped up. Perhaps the chance to run a 10k in Exeter that actually starts right in the town centre and benefits from road closures enticed these runners to the event, or perhaps it was the PB potential of the course, which is all down hill and flat, with no uphill sections at all. Whatever it was, the 8 Harriers there made the most of the opportunity and 3 of them took the opportunity to sneak a PB.

Despite the overall downhill profile of the course, a very stiff headwind in the last 2 miles of the course, along the river back towards the piazza, counteracted the benefits of the earlier downhill section. In gusts of up to 30 mph, second claim Harrier, Tom Merson, clad in Harriers home colours, did well to run a solo race from gun to tape in a time of 31:38.

He was followed by men's captain, Adam Miller, in 6th place in a fantastic new PB of 34:55. This is the first time Adam has officially run a sub 35 minute 10k, although he has done it as a 10k split within the Bath Half Marathon last year. Adam hoped for an outside chance of a PB but wasn't sure if he'd get it given the windy conditions. Luckily for him he managed to get in with a group of 3 runners who all finished within 10 seconds of each other, which definitely helped him to stay on target in the latter, windy half of the race.

Cathy Newman was the next Harrier home having yet another superb run, coming in 3rd lady overall in an amazing time, given the tough conditions, of 38:21. It goes without saying that she was a comfortable winner of the FV50 category and earning a richly deserved podium place overall in a race which proved to be rather competitive at the sharp end, with two Exeter University athletes running sub 37 and sub 38 minute times for 1st and 2nd spots respectively. Well done Cathy!

Next in, and racing for the first time in months after having struggled with a string of illnesses and viruses over winter, was Richard Hawes. His time of 39:55 was a minute down on his 38:46 PB, set at this same event last year, but for a comeback race, in such windy conditions, he should take confidence from a sub 40 minute clocking and his fantastic 38th place overall and 5th MV45 placing. If he stays illness and injury free and get back to some structured training then he can expect to see that time come down over the coming season.

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the next to cross the finish line for the club. I had already entered this race before my calf tear back in January. I have only been back running a couple of weeks and so, not wanting to risk any further injury, I decided to just tempo run the race as I had the place anyway, and so I ran a controlled and comfortable pace that brought me to the finish line in 41:00 for 54th place overall and 5th female. It was a refreshing change to be able to enjoy the race and admire the scenery without gasping for breath, being in pain and spending the entire race desperately urging the finish line to appear!

Then there were three Harriers all crossing the finish line within 1 minute of each other. Lorraine Croome, having already expended a huge amount of energy cycling down to the race, into the stiff headwind, knew exactly what sort of conditions to expect in the last 2 miles along the river. Despite the tough bike ride warm-up, she still managed a PB of 47:18 for 154th place overall, 26th female and 4th FV45. Good going!

The ever-improving Susan Hill was hot on her heels, also bagging herself a sparkly new PB of 47:56 for 169th place overall, 34th female and 2nd FV55. However, when we consider that the only other FV55 athlete to beat her was the truly age-defying, local super-hero, Karen Cook of SWRR, Susan's 2nd place is all the more impressive and would have been good enough for the win in ordinary circumstances.

Dave Eveleigh was not far behind these ladies.A recent knee niggle meant that he was some minutes down on the outstanding 43:25 clocking he ran on this course last year, but, for a vet 60 athlete - which he now of course is - a time of 48:00 for 175th place and 7th in his category was still very respectable.

Well done to all 8 Harriers for battling the winds and, once again, doing the Harriers colours proud!

Start of the Exeter Age UK 10k, outside Debehams in Princesshay Shopping Centre.
Tom Merson, Adam Miller and Cathy Newman are already to the fore.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Another great Grizzly for the Harriers!

If, as a runner, you talk to any none-running friends about your sport, they often don't fully understand what it is you do. 'Been out jogging today?' 'I don't jog, I RUN'. 'Have you done a marathon yet?' 'No, not yet'. 'So how do you call yourself a runner then?' 'Oh, you did a marathon? How far was your marathon?' '26.2 miles, just like every other marathon anyone's ever run'. Any of these exchanges sound familiar? If these friends happen to be local, then you can add another little gem to this collection. 'So, have you done the Grizzly?' In Devon, it would seem that no runner can claim to be a real runner unless they have completed this iconic event; it's practically a right of passage, in the same way as hitting a hole in one is for golfers, or scoring a century for cricketers: you cannot possibly be a bonefide participant in the sport without it. It would seem that, around these 'ere parts, the Grizzly is the one race that everyone has heard of: it even makes the local ITV news for Gawd's sakes, it's that famous!! This year, a total of 15 Exmouth Harriers earned their Grizzly (or Grizzly Cub) paws and their associated respect!

The event, organised in its own very distinct and superb style, by Axe Valley Runners, is the highlight of many runner's yearly calendars. Many begin their training as far back as summer the previous year so that, on the day, they are ready to tackle all that the tough local terrain has to throw at them. And, believe me, it has a lot to throw at them: mud, pebbles, hills, more mud, bogs, styles, more pebbles, streams, mud again, a giant jacobs ladder, bogs (did I mention those?), pebbles etc. etc, repeat repeat repeat for 20 miles. You get the idea!

This year the weather conditions were as near to perfect as you will likely ever find them in early March on the exposed cliffs of Devon; some competitors might have said it was even too hot (spectators basking in the sun at Branscombe would strongly disagree!). The paths had dried out well, making the going a little easier in parts, but the bogs were still as boggy and the pebbles still as pebbly as ever, creating their own unique little challenges. 

There were over 1500 finishers of which about a third were female. Incidentally one of those females, Lucy McAllister from Bristol & West A.C, was an astounding 6th overall! The first Exmouth Harrier home, having a very fine run indeed, was our in-form Tony Hatchard. Tony hit the race hard from the get go, an ambitious strategy that saw him up as high as 2nd place in the standings after 15 miles, but the early pace took its toll in the latter stages and Tony lost a bit of ground on the 1 mile long energy-sapping beach section at mile 16 and conceded a few places, eventually finishing a fine 12th in a time of 2 hours 36 minutes to finish 12th. Very well done to him.

Hot work, Tony Hatchard?!

Next in, and taking it all in his usual long, loping stride, was Grizzly aficionado, Dave Stone. Dave's effortless display of scampering over pebbles even featured in the ITV local news footage that evening: no doubt chosen as an example of how to make the Grizzly look easy! Whilst it may look easy, his shuffling stride is rather deceptive and hides a cheeky turn of speed as he finished 22nd over all and 6th in his age category (MV40) in 2h43. 

Jon Croome is most definitely back with a bang after his injury lay-off of Autumn 2013 and he really comes to the fore in tough, off- road races. Here he was in the top 10%, finishing 148th in 3:08 and claiming a hard earned and highly respectable 2nd place in the MV45 section.

Jon Croome, still looking relaxed and full of running after 16 miles.

Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan, despite originally hailing from the Midlands - not an area renowned for its fell running scene - has taken to this sort of terrain like the proverbial duck to water. He absolutely relishes this type of long, off-road, hilly event and is beginning to show a remarkable amount of talent at pacing these events to perfection. Looking as fresh faced and smiley at the end as he did at the start, a cheerful, chirpy 2 Trigs crossed the line just outside the top 10% in 173rd overall (31st man over 40) in 3h.12: his fastest Grizzly time to date by a long way.

Scott-2 Trigs-Jordan, making a splash at Branscombe.

Ben White deserves a special mention as he had an absolute stormer of a run, making it look easy and effortless from start to finish, he added to his recent string of impressive performances with 221st placing in time of 3h14, grinning away like a Cheshire cat as he crossed the line with a sparkling new Grizzly PB.

Amazing run from Ben White who still looked fresh faced and full of running in the final 1/2 mile down into Seaton.

Emma White had to concede victory to her husband on this occasion, but still had a very fine run herself. Emma looked stronger and stronger as the race went on and she timed her run to perfection, picking off many other flagging runners over the final few miles and working her way through the field to finish in a superb 332nd place and 35th female. She was unfortunate to just miss out on a sub 3h30 finish, with 3:30:21.
Emma White, enjoying one of the Grizzly water features, at Branscombe.

Nicholas Brown goes in for quality rather than quantity when it comes to racing and on this occasion he placed a fine 433rd in a solid time of 3h39. 

Terry Oldham, a.k.a. 'The Dark Destroyer' conceded a defeat to his sparring partner, Emma, on this occasion, stating afterwards that he had a sneaky suspicion at the 4 Trigs race that Emma was in excellent form and on for a good time. He ran his own solid race, as ever, though and relished in the spirit of the event as he cantered around to a time of 3h46 and 527th spot (23rd in the MV55 category). 

Grizzly virgins, Susan Hill and Jane MacDonld both loved their first experience of this unique race. With big beaming grins of their faces, they all completed the race well up the overall pecking order, with Susan and Jane running in together in a time of 3:50, giving them 615th and 616th spots overall but top 100 female place of 92nd and 93rd (Susan was an impressive 5th in her Over 55 category and Jane a not-too-shabby 14th in the women’s Over 45 group). Not far behind these two was Lorraine Gilson, 636th overall in 3:52, who finished 6th FV55 and, hot on her heels, was Amanda McCann, also a Grizzly virgin enjoying her first experience of the race, placing a fine 714th in a fine sub 4 hour time of 3h57 (20th FV40).

Just over 400 completed the associated but shorter 9 mile Grizzly “Cub Run”. There were more female than male finishers here, and they included three women from Exmouth Harriers. Hannah Bown, dropping down to this distance from the full Grizzly event after having been forced to miss a few weeks training with a winter virus, was 12th and an impressive 2nd female in 76:23. Lorraine Croome was timed at 87:36 for 39th overall, 10th woman and 2nd woman over 45. New member, Sarah Jackman, made a fine debut in the event and placed an impressive 47th (just outside the top 10%) and was 13th woman in 91:27: the full Grizzly for Sarah next year, perhaps?!

Well done to all the Harriers in what is, without question, a superb yet extremely tough event.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Harriers bag their best set of Westward League results in years

For those Harriers members who took part in the Armada Park Relays on February 16th, it must have felt like they'd never been away from Central Park in Plymouth, which, last Sunday 2nd March, also played host to the final round in the Brooks Westward Cross Country League.

Harriers men were sat in third spot in the team standings entering this 6th and final round, but things were tight between them and Plymouth AC, who were snapping at their heels and waiting to pounce on any mistakes made in 4th. This meant no relaxing for our boys and we had to get a strong team out and everyone had to run well. Luckily the lads rose to the challenge and produced some of their strongest individual performances to date. 

Leading them in and also looking to complete a perfect score card of 5 wins out of 5 (he only missed the first event at Redruth) to lift the individual men's title, was Tom Merson. Looking in control and never in danger of being challenged from the gun, Tom completed his task with ease, bagging a clean sweep of victories in this winter’s individual competition for men and securing the maximum number of points at every outing towards the team competition. Tom won by almost a minute at Plymouth, taking 30:37 to cover around 5½ hilly miles of saturated grassland while looking out for low hanging branches and avoiding flying off course, like an F1 car struggling to corner, on the greasy, tight turns. 

In his highest individual placing of the season - 9th - in a time of 33:09, was Tony Hatchard. Tony has improved consistently as the rounds have gone on and he looks to be rounding into fitness just in time for his attack on the infamous Grizzly race the following Sunday! 

Dave Stone, as ever, chasing Tony hard, was 13th in 33:3 and with that finish clinched 3rd place overall and a bronze medal for the 2013/2014 season in the veteran men aged 40-44 category. 

Captain Adam Miller was a solid 21st in 34:26 and Mark Cox 35th in 36:21, being the team's solid 5th counter. These five men had done enough to stave off their rivals and hold onto their 3rd place in the team standings, picking up bronze medals. Contributing with scores in earlier rounds, and also part of the successful bronze medal winning team, were Jamie Pearson and Rob Orton. 

Dave Eveleigh found the going a lot tougher than over the tarmac at the Armada Relays here recently. Dave was 92nd in 49:18 of the 94 men competing on Sunday. Almost two dozen clubs made up over 50 teams who were represented and so team captain Adam Miller must have been very satisfied that his team building work has put the club back on the local cross country map.

In the Women’s competition, Cathy Newman entered the final round secure in the knowledge that, baring catastrophe, the vet ladies 50 - 55 prize was hers for the losing; however, she was also in a strong position to make an impact on the overall female standings if she produced a good final round run here. Ever the cool-as-a-cucumber professional that she is, she produced an absolutely stunning last run to finish as 2nd female on the day, covering the tough 3.5 mile course in a brisk 24:49, and this was good enough to claim 3rd woman overall for the season, beating some talented athletes, some of whom were less than half her age, and a run-away winner of the women aged 50-54 category. 

The Women’s team ended up in 7th overall for the 2013/2014 competition, out of 43 teams who represented 19 different clubs. Most of the points for these teams have been achieved by Cathy, Dawn Teed (who didn't run this final round, having done her bit in the 5 previous outings) and team Captain, Carly Miller. Like her husband, Adam, Carly has also done a great job of team building and encouraging the Harriers' ladies to have a go at cross-country. This week-end Carly was 21st, her highest individual placing in the series overall, in 29:30. Lisa Hatchard, despite struggling with injury, did her bit for the team and ensured that we had our third counter in this final round, and placed 33rd in 32:07. The Women’s race was finished by 51 athletes.

Well done to everyone who contributed to a revived Harriers' success this year. Dawn Teed started the ball rolling last year and has now handed the baton on to Adam and Carly and so thanks to all three of these for their efforts in coordinating this year's success story. Here's to an even better 2014/25 season, where maybe the men can improve upon their bronze and the women can get in the team medal mix too?

Some great photos from the final Plymouth round below, courtesy of Pete Newman. More photos from this and the previous rounds can be seen on Pete's Flickr page, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97050275@N02/with/12915197973/

The bronze medal winning men's team
L - R: Tony Hatchard, Dave Stone, Tom Merson, Adam Miller (Capt.), Marc Cox. 
Not here but part of team: Jamie Pearson, Rob Orton.

Tom Merson - on route to an emphatic individual men's victory in the league.

Dave Stone - bronze medalist in the male vet 40 category. 

Cathy Newman - Bronze medalist in the female overall section and gold medalist in the FV50 section.

Carly Miller - successfully captained the ladies team to their highest team placing to date. 

PBs galore at Bideford and Bath and a silver for Susan!

Sunday 2nd March saw two big half marathon races take place in the South West - the Bath Half and, nearer to home, the Bideford Half in North Devon. Those wanting a big city half with lots of crowd support on route and who don't mind the hefty £40 entry fee or mind jostling for position with 11'000 other runners, opt for Bath; for those preferring a smaller, lower-key, cheaper affair, Bideford is the one for them. What both events have in common though is that they both offer fast, flat PB potential courses, and many Harriers seized their opportunity to achieve just that.


Eight Harriers lined up in a field of over 11,000 competitors to complete 2 laps of this historic and architecturally stunning city. For our home club, the most impressive performance was by Susan Hill, who had a phenomenal run to finish a superb 2nd of over 80 runners in the Women Age 55-59 category, in a new personal best time of 1:41:13. She was also well inside the top 2,000 of those 11,000 finishers. Susan has only just entered this 5 year age category and, if this is anything to go by, we can expect to see a lot more success from her as the season progresses. A PB and a podium place at such a huge event: Susan could not have wished for anything better than that. Very well done Susan!

Three other Harriers came close to their PBs: Chris Dupain was 621st in 90:57, improving on his season's best from last month's Exeter Half by about 2 1/2 minutes. Showing a remarkable turn of consistency and spot on pacing, Ben White was 1330th in 98:46, just 4 seconds faster than his run at the Exeter Half. Jane MacDonald placed 1854th overall and 22nd of 439 women aged 45-49 in 1:43:03, just shy of her PB of 1:42 set at the Chippenham Half last Autumn. 

Hannah Bown’s and Emma White’s performances meant that the three Dupain siblings all finished within 10 minutes of each other: a little family rivalry never does any harm for teasing out some consistent performances! Hannah was 567th overall, 77th of nearly 5,000 women & 8th of nearly 600 women aged 35-39 in a time of 90:47. It should be mentioned that Hannah missed a lot of training due to a lengthy winter virus so this time is all the more encouraging and shows that, when back to full form and fitness, another sub 1h30 clocking is comfortably within her grasp. Emma White was 1493rd overall and 180th female in 1:40:00. Again, a good time considering that running is really her second sport after hockey: the endurance of running and speed required for hockey appear to make for a good combination! 

Nicholas Brown finished 1951st of all competitors in a consistent 1:43:18 and was 228th of nearly 600 men aged 40-44. Amanda McCann was timed at 1:46:18, also close to her PB, and was 2350th in the whole race but, 40th out of nearly 600 women aged 40-44.

What was most impressive is that of these 8 runners, 6 are due to participate in the Grizzly race the following week, so well done to them!


Nearer to home, in Bideford, four Exmouth Harriers took on the challenge of running 13.1 flat miles around the quay and along the Tarka trail in his North Devon town. Nearly 1,000 completed this year’s race - not bad numbers considering the event was competing for entries with the Bath Half and also the last round in the Westward Cross Country League. 

Adrian Kearns was 125th and 23rd of 101 Men Age 40-44 in 90:17, about 5 minutes shy of the Personal Best he ran set at the Burnham-on-Sea Half Marathon in 2010. Since then he has consitently run at least one half marathon every year and his times have always been under 91 minutes. 

Andrew Johnson was 200th and 15th of 63 men aged 50-54, his time was a solid 95:16. 

It was good to see Roger Riggs donning the blue and yellow vest once again after a string of injury problems over the past year or so and his position of 743rd and time of 2:07:18 give him encouragement that he is well on his way back to full fitness. 

The performance of the day here though came from our super-vet, over 75 athlete, Mick Allen. Mick was 719th overall and a comfortable winner of this category that contained 3 steely competitors and was clocked at 2:06:15. Well done Mick and all the Harriers.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Mud-loving Harriers excel off road

Last weekend saw 3 Harriers representatives race at two different, but equally tough, off road events in the South West. Close to home, the off-road loving duo of Jon and Lorraine Croome were over in the East Devon village of Dalwood for the annual running of the Dalwood 3 Hills Challenge race. Coming in at 10 miles but packing a whopping amount of climb into what most competitors would argue is actually 3 1/2, if not 4, hills, rather than the advertised 3, this is a fun and friendly but extremely tough multi-terrain event. It was good to see Jon back to his running best after a long lay off with injury. Clearly he has still been keeping himself fit with his cycling as he managed to finish 12th overall and 2nd in his MV45 age category in a time of 83:04. Conditions were extremely muddy and extremely windy this year, just to add to the difficulty, making Jon's time all the more impressive.

Wife Lorraine was, as ever, not too far behind, fighting her own personal battles in the ever-competitive ladies section. On the day she had some very stiff category competition from local off-road specialist, Lin Lascelles, so she did well to hang on to the 2nd FV45 spot and 56th place overall in a time of 1:42:04.

The Croomes certainly seem to have a fondness for this event as they have run it several times now and don't appear to be put off by the hills... maybe the excellent bacon butties on offer at the race HQ at the finish is what keeps luring them back?!

Meanwhile, down in Bodmin in Cornwall, Mike Musgrove was lining up for an off-road half marathon that is run around the grounds of Lanhydrock House and Respryn woods. The race is organised by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and so, as a fireman, it instantly attracted the attention of Mike who wanted to show those Cornish boys that the Devon brigade are an equal (if not better) match for them!

Mike reports that he did not taper for the race and ran it on the back of a heavy pre-London marathon training week of 80 some miles. Nevertheless, he says that he still felt strong in the race and, although he found the hills a bit hard going as he hasn't been doing much hill running of late, he had a strong and comfortable run. His time and position certainly reflect this as he finished an incredible 3rd overall, not bad considering he has now recently entered the vet 45 category. He was a comfortable winner of that section and also claimed the honours of first fireman home with his time of 85:39 for this tough, off-road 13.1 mile course.

Mike will now forgo racing for a while as he continues his build up towards London where he hopes to have a fully functioning timing chip this year and challenge his marathon PB of 2h50.

Well done to all 3 Harriers - we hope the mud washed off ok!

Mike receiving his prize for 3rd overall and first vet 45.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Harriers top vets at new relay event!

A dozen Exmouth Harriers (3 teams of 4) were at Central Park in Plymouth on Sunday 16th February for a new Relay event organised by West Devon’s Armada Running Network. This event was to replace the annual Plymouth Hoe 10 mile race, which couldn't go ahead this year due to traffic and licencing problems. The relays followed the format of the now familiar Erme Valley event, held in July every year, but had the added advantage of being contained within the park and so in a traffic free environment. There were four legs of 2 ½ miles on an undulating route around the paths in the park. The sun made one of its increasingly rare appearances on the day and so runners, marshalls and supporters alike were able to benefit from the balmy conditions; however, it also meant that this lured the world and his wife to the park, meaning that there were plenty of perambulating Plymouthians and their dogs to dodge.

This time it was the turn of a male veterans’ team to be in the limelight. The over-60 quartet of Steve Merry, Phil Bater, Dave Eveleigh and Nigel Dupain recorded a total time of 77:39 to finish 39th overall of 48 teams and 1st in their age category. Although they had limited opposition, the old adage of 'you've got to be in it to win it' very much applies here as it should not be underestimated how difficult it is in a club the size of Exmouth not only to find 4 runners of this age category within the membership but a) to find 4 that are available on the day and b) to find 4 that are both available, fit and niggle free. In the case of Steve Merry, the event marked a welcome return to racing for the first time for some years, and for Phil Bater, for some months. I did try to helpfully point out that the first one back is always the hardest and they can only get easier from here on in, but a very red faced Steve did not seem to agree as he exclaimed, "You are assuming there will be a next time?" Well, we hope so Steve; please stick at it!!

Our vet 60 team give us the finger(!) as today they were number 1!
L - R: Nigel, Steve, Phil, Dave E.

The Senior Women’s team were a very creditable 3rd, claiming the female bronze medal, and they placed 27th overall in 70:53. Cathy Newman recorded 15:15 for her leg, the second fastest female leg of the day, with new member Sarah Jackman, running her 3rd race in 3 consequetive weeks and more than proving her worth to the team, ran 18:12. Lisa Hatchard, helping the team out though not at full fitness due to an injury sustained whilst swimming, did 19:04 and Carly Miller anchored the team home, fending of a closing Tamar Trotters lady, to secure the bronze medal in 18:22.

Our senior ladies team placed 3rd overall.
L - R: Lisa, Cathy, Sarah, Captain-Carly

Our senior men's team were 4th overall but were in fact the 2nd club team, 1st and 2nd places being taken by carefully selected scratch teams. Berihu Tesfay gained 50 seconds on the eventual 3rd placed Torbay A.C. team when he ran the fastest time of the day of 12:39 on the final leg (50 seconds is impressive over just 2.5 miles), but he ran out of the distance needed to overall the South Devon based outfit, ending up 25 seconds adrift. The total time for this team was 54:34, the other three runners being Tony Hatchard who lead them out with a swift 13:28, captain Adam Miller on the second leg with 13:57, and Mark Cox on the third with 14:30.

Our senior men's team, who finished just out of the medals in 4th, despite all having solid runs and Berihu posting the fastest leg of the day. Next time ay lads!?
L - R: Berihu, Marc, Adam (Captain), Tony

It was a great event and one that was really enjoyable to watch as you can see the whole event unfold and the positions change with each lap. Hopefully it will continue to grow year on year.

Photos to follow shortly: check back next week.

Les nets category win at Exeter Half!

Sunday 16th February saw the third running of the Exeter Half Marathon. This is not the Great West Run but a 3 lap route of the full First Chance 10k course, down on Exeter Quay, organised by Iron Bridge Runner. Whilst this is not the most inspiring of courses, it is certainly a course with PB potential, given the right conditions. Unfortunately, it is also a course that is prone to flooding (it's on a flood plain after all!) and once again this year, the winter storms coincided with the race date. However, the organisers had at least learnt from last year and had a 'Plan B' course measured up and ready to go this year, which they reckon made the course even faster as it was run out-and-back on the tarmac and avoided the slightly slower section on the gravel track. Despite the previous bad weather, conditions on the day were perfect - clear skies, sun, not too cold, no wind, and so the weather Gods in part smiled upon the race!

This year, four PB-seeking Exmouth Harriers were amongst the eventual 251 finishers. Of those 251, the male-female split followed an increasing recent trend in races and there were only 13 more male finishers than female. The first Exmouth Harrier home was Chris Dupain. Chris has been training hard of late and producing some promising times and performances at the weekly parkrun 5ks at Killerton and so he was hoping to be able to challenge his PB of 88:26, set on this same course in 2012. On the day, this didn't quite happen and he finished 6 minutes adrift in a time of 94:06 for 45th place. However, he will have plenty more opportunities to better than time and challenge his PB later this year as he has already entered 5 more half marathons, choosing to concentrate on this distance in 2014. 

Ben White took Hannah Bown's place at the eleventh hour as Hannah was unable to run following a virus, however, the results still appeared under her name at the time of going to press, but we can confirm that it was Ben in 72nd place overall in one of his best times for the distance, 98:50, being just 3 minutes shy of his PB set in 2011. 

Dan Morley made a rare racing appearance in 58th, and put in what appears (according to his Power of 10 profile) to be a new Personal Best of 96:45. So although he has been away from the racing scene for a while, he certainly hasn't been slacking off on the training front. Can we expect to see more from him later in the season? We hope so! 

Les Turner, now an Over 70 Veteran completed the 13+ miles in 2:13:05 for 208th place and, in so doing, claimed the top honours in this category. Although, ever the sportsman, Les was keen to point out that this victory came at the expense of his category rival and fellow club mate, Mike Keep, who was several minutes up on Les when he swerved to avoid a female runner heading back on the other side (one of the perils of a narrow out-and-back course that is also open to members of the public with dogs, bikes, scooters and unruly small children!) and, in so doing, aggravated an on-going knee injury and was forced to retire from the race. We hope the injury is not too serious and Mike is soon back on his feet and posting some more impressive times, but well done to Les for his run which saw him finish in front of 43 runners, all of whom were younger than him!

Harriers hanging onto 3rd spot in the Westward League

Exmouth Harriers men's and ladies' teams continued to mount their sustained challenge on the Westward League Cross Country status quo last Sunday (9th February). The women were 7th before this latest round, which was the 5th of the 6 in the series, and after it had clawed themselves up one space to 6th. This was largely due to us being able to field the largest ladies squad after the local Exeter event in December, with 5 Exmouth ladies taking part and earning valuable points. Although there are only 3 counters each round in the ladies section, subsequent finishers are by no means dispensable: they play a vital role in bumping members and potential counters from rival teams down the pecking order and thus limiting their points, so this really is an all round team effort. With two Plymouth teams ahead of them and the final fixture being in that city, the Harriers' ladies can expect to finish the season in 6th place overall as long as we close in a complete team on March 2nd.

The Men’s team had their second highest points total of the winter, which was only good enough for 4th place on the day in a competitive team turn out, but enough to keep them in 3rd place overall. A final position higher than this is highly unlikely as the gap between the two front running teams (Cornwall AC and Bideford AC) continues to grow, but turning out a full team at the final race is vital to ensure that “this season’s surprise package” maintains a podium position. Not forgetting that Exmouth is a considerably smaller club than all the other clubs that currently feature in the top 5 berths, our lads can be justifiably proud of acquitting themselves so well.

This Sunday the women raced for 5km on an extremely demanding course near Bovey Tracey. Show choice at this venue is always a difficult decision, as parts of the route are on grass but others are on muddy, stoney tracks: multi-terrain or fell studs seemed to be the preferred option over spikes for most of our athletes. 

Individually, Cathy Newman continued to outshine many of her (much younger) female rivals and was once again a comfortable 1st FV50 and 7th female overall (of 62 finishers) in just 20:49. Next in was team captain Carly Miller, who deserves credit for her part in the revival of Cross Country racing amongst the ladies at Exmouth Harriers, 29th in 24:38. Carly was closely followed by newcomer, Sarah Jackman, 31st in 25:01. Sarah has recently joined the club on the recommendation of her friend and fellow hockey player, Emma White, and is thus far proving to be a real asset to us with her willingness to try out new events and her show of true team spirit. Then came long-time cross-country stalwart, Dawn Teed, who was 39th in 26:11 and, like Cathy, running in the FV50 section and closing in on a potential podium finish if she performs well at the final round in Plymouth. Dawn has also played a big part in Exmouth harriers increased participation in this somewhat neglected branch of running and this was shown by her commitment to the team in opting for the team cross-country event over her own individual ambitions and missing out on the 4 Trigs, which she dearly loves, and which was held on the same day. In 44th place (26:45), came another veteran and another runner with a gutsy performance, and this was Nicola Kelly, playing a vital role in keeping other team members at bay.

The men’s event was close to 6 miles and contested by 116 athletes. Once again, there was an impressive piece of front running on display from gun to tape with Exmouth's own Tom Merson covering the distance in a sprightly 34:21. Providing he turns out to the last event in Plymouth and puts in a fairly decent performance, he will surely soon be crowned as the winner of the league. The very experienced cross country runner, Tony Hatchard, was 11th in 37:17, posting his highest individual placing of the season thus far and showing that his personal improvement curve is continuing to bend in the right direction . Stalwart Harrier, Dave Stone, was 3rd man over 40 and 24th overall in 39:12, and looks good for a podium position within this category. Adam Miller always had Dave in his sights as a good target to try and hang onto and the invisible piece of string that holds these two together is seemingly getting shorter as the rounds go on, with Adam finishing just behind his club rival in 26th and 39:19. Marc Cox finished 47th (41:36) and Jamie Pearson, on a welcome return to the team, was 57th in 44:00.

Some superb photos, showing the event in its true muddy and rain soaked glory, can be viewed here on Pete Newman's Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/97050275@N02/with/12467025183

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

4 Trig(ger) happy Harriers bag 16 trigs!

It would seem that the Four Trigs event is all about doing the sums: 4 Trigs + 4 Harriers = 4 Trigger Happy Harriers bagging a total of 16 trigs: the maths is simple. A couple of years ago, however, Scott Jordan got his maths badly wrong; either that or he was trying to reinvent the basic rules of natural logarithms and argue that 2 = 4. Nobody fell for this or believed him of course and we all saw through his, admittedly creative, but rather convoluted and ultimately doomed attempts to cover up for the fact that he just got plain lost and couldn't find the last 2 trigs. Hence, a nickname was born.

After injury forced him to withdraw from his planned 2013 campaign to override his error and reassert his reputation, he returned with even more fuel on his fire this year to bag all 4 of those unruly trigs. He was even spotted on one occasion by yours truly on what we believe to be one of many Sunday morning rekkie runs of the route that he has undertaken to ensure that he would not be thwarted in his quest to rewrite the history books and erase the name '2 Trigs' from them.

And so the day came. Scott-still-2-Trigs-until-he-can-prove-otherwise-Jordan lined up alongside 3 other Harriers who were there to witness his feat and act as adjudicators to ensure that he did not simply go out and bag the remaining 2 trigs that he missed last time and thus take an unsportsman-like short-cut to balance a 2 year old incorrect equation. These 3 Harriers were Terry Oldham (no stranger to this event and someone who has, over the years, amassed enough trigs to almost break into treble figures), Ben White and his wife, Emma. All 3 had their own reasons for running the event too, mostly because it's just a darn good, low-key, low-cost friendly race, and because it is also fantastic Grizzly training to boot (for which all 4 Harriers are also entered).

But back to our main man on this occasion: S-T-T-J. He set off down that Sidmouth promenade like a man possessed. He homed in on that first trig on High Peak like a kestrel hawk homes in on its prey: focussed; determined... with just an ever-so-slight look of obsessional madness in its eye! From there on he relied on gravity to get himself back down off the trig at high speed and, with equally dogged determination, he was off and onto the next trig. Tally-ho! In fact, he was so dedicated to his task that he ditched the camel-bak drinking bladder in attempt to lighten the load; much in the same way as an aircraft dumps fuel in order to lessen weight and be swifter of flight. He didn't consume so much as one drop of liquid on route, so focussed was he. (Disclaimer: this is not recommended as an ideal fuelling strategy, particularly not for a race of this distance and difficulty. Any actions taken were done so by the runner himself based on calculated risk and are in no way representative of the views of the club as whole...)

Heading onto trig number 2 through Harpford Woods and something truly astonishing happened: two other directionally-challenged, map wielding competitors from the South West Road Runners Club homed in on our 2 Trigs and selected him as a guide to show them the way! Clearly they had not heard of his reputation, nor had they read the nickname emblazoned across his hoody that he wore at the race HQ prior to the start, in which he vaunted the nickname 2 Trigs as a form of textual mimicry, perhaps intended as a reverse-psychological battle-cry? Had they have known, they would surely not have chosen this particular mast upon which to pin their navigational flag of hope?

No matter, a merry band of three had joined forces to unite as one homogeneous unit, all sharing one common goal: to get to the next trig point at Fire Beacon hill. (Am I the only one thinking that an idiom that contains the word "blind" in it, twice, springs to mind here?)

Meanwhile, a little way further back, a doggedly determined trio of Harriers were also making solid progress, up and down some of the steepest terrain in the area and getting ever nearer to completing their goal. They were also having a bit of fun along the way and generally chatting and enjoying the views. A couple of miles ahead, the mood was quite different: 2 Trigs was charging down the other side of East Hill strips like a raving banshee. No time to enjoy the views; he still had 2 more trigs to get.... meaning, he was now entering what was, for him, previously uncharted territory: did these other 2 trigs even exist? Were they just mirages, put on the map to taunt him but that didn't exist in reality? How could they exist in reality: he had not been able to find them on his previous attempt!

Anyway..... I could wax lyrical here all day and pad this out into what has the potential to become a 'best-seller' in the small but niche market of running themed books. 'Feet in the Clouds', 'Born to Run', 'Mathletics', and now: 'Mathletics, the sequel: 2 Trigs becomes 4'. In line with the best works of literature, this one has a happy ending. It ends with the final image of a triumphant Scott tearing down Salcombe hill and sprinting along the Sidmouth sea front to the finish line of the 4 Trigs race and posting a phenomenal time of 2:51:14 for a very impressive 12th place overall (out of 94 finishers) on an event that covers 16 miles and contains 3000ft of climb. Even more impressive though, he had located (and got the stamp to prove it!) all 4 trigs and had even successfully guided other runners around the course in the process. Like all eponymous heroes though, Scott is eternally modest and was keen to downplay his superb achievement (2h51 on this course is NOT hanging about). His only comment: 'I was thinking all the way around that course, "ha! I'm not gonna be 2 Trigs anymore"'. Quite right, you aren't Scott. But the problem is, you've got the nickname sewn onto the front of your hoody now and we would hate for you to have to go to the expense of purchasing a new one with '4 Trigs' on it, so, for the sake of your wallet, I think the nick-name had better stay!

As for our supporting actors in this canonical work of literary brilliance, they all acquitted themselves superbly too and finished together, sharing 53rd place and a time of 3:32:28. Sorry to have given the limelight to one person on this occasion, but your efforts did not go unnoticed and you were vital to substantiating that the whole event took place as reported and thereby validating Scott's claim to be part of the legitimate 4 Trig bagging Trigger Happy Harriers team!!

An impressive backdrop for an impressive performance: start of the 4 Trigs race and Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan is already well placed and focused on the task ahead (3rd from right)!