Exe-rated runners!

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

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.