Edinburgh Marathon - Sunday 26 May
6 months in the planning I made my way north of the border for my first visit to Scotland. I was joined by Richard Pillinger and to assist with translation Glasgow’s finest George Arbuckle. A leisurely 9 hour drive saw us arrive at our accommodation just in time to fulfil our 7pm restaurant booking. On race day a well rested Richard Pillinger was up first as the half marathon kicked off at 8am. Myself and George made our way down to the marathon for a 10am start. The weather forecast predicted Scottish summer, 30mph gusts and torrential rain. The heavens opened as the race started and off we went. Quickly into a nice rhythm we descended from the city center towards the coast. There was a big drop within the first mile before the course levelled out with the odd incline but predominantly flat. A further drop saw us hit the coast. Just after the 5 mile point a calf niggle that had interrupted my last 3 weeks of training resurfaced and I had to stop. I stretched it out and moved to plan B (no, not the rap artist). Could I manage a PB. I adjusted my stride and attempted 7.35 pace. This also proved to be uncomfortable as I was unable to toe off. So plan C, could I squeak under 3.30. At mile 9 I reached Musselburgh (finish point) where unfortunately I saw George who had decided to drop out due to his achilles. We had a chat and George attempted to jog along side me but within 200m had to stop. I decided to plod on. By mile 14 the adjustments in stride had taken their toll and my legs were complaining. At mile 23 disaster struck as I found myself licking the pavement after taking a tumble. My face/shoulder stopped my fall so the modelling career is on hold. Not quite sure what happened but some fellow runners put me in the recovery position (no reclining armchair and big cigar) and asked me my name. ‘Pause my Garmin’ was not the response they were expecting. I assured the medic I was ok and said with only 3 miles to go nobody was stopping me from finishing (hero I know). 3 miles of cramp and high 5’s followed. Delighted to finish and clocked 3.45.52 where I was presented with a medal (not sure if anyone else received one or just the heroes).... The race didn’t quite go according to plan but the post race beers duly delivered as we washed down The Haggis neeps and tatties. If anyone fancies a quick marathon then Edinburgh is the course for you.
Phillip Horan - 3:45:52
Corfu mountain trail - Sunday 5 May
We ran this race as our usual Kassios Dias run in early May was brought forward to mid April due to the CMT event changing date. So we made the decision to run at Messonghi towards the south of Corfu. I use the word run lightly. The event had over 3300 feet of climb and at times it was a climb up rocks and steep earth banks. The weather was shall we say a tad wet from not too long in to the race with torrential rain as we hit clouds. Eventually the sun came out near the end and it was a quick finish for the last 1K along the coast road. We have both earned our first ITA point for entry in to harder and longer races! This truly was a test and Denise used poles for the first time and she found this really helped her particularly on the difficult mud and stone descent. A great race, very understated with no spectators apart from the finish crew and other runners! We revert to the Kassios Dias next year as they are organising it for early May again!
Teenager with Altitude - Saturday 20 April
After a long time off from racing (torn meniscus, problematic achilles), I am starting to make a comeback. This was a 25km fell race in an unusually sunny Lake District that is one of my warm ups for a July attempt on a sub 24 hour Bog Graham Round. The time seems a bit slow, but then again there were 10 fells to get up and over. I may even make it down for a Tuesday evening training session at some point!
Daffodil Dawdle LDWA 26.2M Challenge - Sunday 31 March
I’ve always tried to do a marathon close too or on my Birthday. This one I’ve now done three times - interestingly it’s never been the same route and has started in two different places! For all that, I do really like the route along the Angles Way and the Mid Suffolk Way - you cross between Norfolk and Suffolk a few times! Not many daffodils to behold though! One year I’ll be fit enough to do it justice - ran out legs!
Rick Hollingsworth - 5:42
Hardwick X/Stream XC - Sunday 17 February
I always look forward to this cross country race 'with a difference' set in the small village of Hardwick just outside of Wing. The difference is the 5 water crossings making it fun and wet and add in some stiles, boggy ground and a nasty little hill climb around 4 miles it is every bit your full on cross country race. You also get a very nice horse brass for finishing which beats your standard medal anytime. Tim Harris led the runners home in front of Leighton runner Rob Elmore in a very respectable 34.48 beating Craig Palmer's two previous victory times. For me, it was just about getting round and enjoying the very well organised run by Bearbrook Joggers although I did confess to looking at my watch just through 3 miles and thinking Tim would just about now be crossing the finish line - c'est la vie !!
Charnwood Hills Fell Race - Sunday 3 February
Only two Flyers made it to the Charnwood Hills fell race. Which is a shame because it was glorious today. 14.2 miles of sunshine, hills and fantastic scenery. And for once the endless mud was mostly frozen solid, though ice brought its own hazards.
Caroline Gilby - 2:10:56 (24th, 3rd in age group)
3 Counties XC Race 5: Wootton - Sunday 27 January
The last Three Counties match of the season took us to Wootton, Northamptonshire for a course that received positive feedback last season with a long incline on the first half and favourable profile on the 2nd. Last year the course came up short so after NHRR expressed disappointment of this at the Three Counties committee meeting a bigger loop plus the introduction of a loop at end of lap 1 was added to get the distance from just over 4 to the now 5 miler.
A small but perfectly formed ladies team arrived ready and raring to go at the last 3CXC fixture at Wootton this morning. With a team depleted by injury and racing yesterday in the Southerns, or meant that today's team needed to step up and deliver.....and step up they did!!!!
Caroline Gilby continued her rich vein of form and lead the AFF ladies team home as first scorer. Jo Aatkar followed closely behind with another strong run coming in 2nd scorer. Hot on Jo's heels was a resurgent Michelle Morris storming in as 3rd scorer and continuing her fantastic progress back to running! Katie Ruditis had a brilliant run to complete the ladies team as 4th scorer- and did it with a smile!
There was then a great little group of Flyers working hard together and closing down the opposition, including Zoe Didlick, who looked strong again, an awesome run and big improvement by Samantha Walters, with Jo Morris and Becs Fleckney in hot pursuit!
Nicola Wilkins used her trademark sprint finish to power past 2 more ladies just before the finish- great to see that fighting spirit! Mae Sky and Debbie Newell seemed to be having far too much fun on the way round-all smiles and waves- but working brilliantly together to work their way through the field.
Emma White, Pat Godfrey and Vickie Humber continued to improve as they moved up places and completed the ladies team.
Despite lacking in numbers, the ladies hung on to a great 5th place today and combined with another super-strong men's team result, the Flyers took 2nd place in the overall team standings in the league- a fine result!
I personally would like to say a HUGE thank you to each and every one of you who turned up and gave it your best for the club. I am extremely proud to be Captain to such a wonderful ladies team full of spirit, dedication and camaraderie. I sincerely hope to be able to join you all next season for some XC mud and mayhem!
For the men we came into the last match with a healthy lead knowing that a top 3 finish would secure the men's title. However with runner's away, Tim's injury and those who live far away not being feasible to travel plus a few doubling up with the Southerns, it looked like it would not be as simple as we had hoped. In practice though on the day it went brilliantly and a lot better than I could have hoped. Whilst Tim was out injured, the rest of the team really stepped up. Joe Strange had a phenomenal run with his best ever finish in 3rd and close behind also with his best ever finish was Stephen Green in 4th. Another who pulled out all the stops also with his best finish was Steve Upton in 12th with a magnificent run. Next scorer was Lee Murphy who also got his best ever finish in 17th. All the more remarkable was the fact he had run the Southerns the day before, an awesome effort. Phil Holland an ever present scorer (except the match he missed the start) again ran superbly with his trademark style of starting more conservatively and cutting through the field for 22nd. One place behind was David Ackerley in 23rd who was already having his best ever run before getting a perk up from Phil. Another iron runner was Chris Littlejohn who also doubled up for 28th. Final scorer was myself in 29th, given a firm lesson by Lee and Chris on how to double. I was higher positioned earlier in race and never have I been so grateful to see the depth and Flyers coming past me. The men were 1st on the day and wrapped up a fine league win. Thank you to all those who have run. Whilst not all can score it is a result driven by the camaraderie of both mens and ladies teams and very much a group earned success. Well done to Tim Harris who took the overall League individual title. Also congratulations to age group winners Joe Strange, Dan Karaiskou, Stephen Green and Martin Beare. A special mention for James Handley, who arrived at the start as the leaders were leaving the field and still managed to finish in 130th place.
In addition to the aforementioned the following runners secured their best result of the season - Rob Cook, Martin Godin, Ste Hartley, Dave Stanley, Becs Fleckney (remarkably another who ran at the Southerns), Patricia Godfrey, Vickie Humber, Jo Morris, Michelle Morris, Mae Sky and Emma White. We welcomed 2 debutantes for this season, Simon and Nicola Wilkins. Simon ran really well but Nicola took the honours improving her position from last year's Wootton cross country by over 100 places. We also welcomed an overall debutante Dan's brother George Karaiskou, Callum Harrison, Ian Halpin and Will Wilmott had the joy of also dragging their bodies around for the second day of the weekend. Thank you to all 34 men that ran today.
Thank you as always to Phil Bierton and Jane Cook for their recording plus Phil had an additional spreadsheet job. Thanks to Charlene, Sophie and Deborah for welcome support around the course and photos.
A massive thank you from Deborah and myself for everyone who has ran, helped, supported through the season. In addition to those who worked so hard to enable us to put on a very successful home match. It has been a pleasure being part of a supportive team with great performances and attitudes across the board where everybody is as valuable as each other . May your successes continue through 2019. That's it for the Three Counties. One Chiltern XC to go!
South of England Cross Country Championships - Saturday 26th January 2019
There is something iconic about standing at the top of that first hill at Parliament Hill with the London skyline in the back ground awaiting the arrival of runners as they disappear over the top of that first climb and into the unknown of climbs and mud around Hampstead Heath. Trying to pick out a Flyer as the masses arrive was near impossible but there was great support from the Club today as we cheered on our 12 representatives. The Southern Counties Cross Country also has a unique history, it is the only 15K race in the country and is renowned as one of the toughest courses anywhere in Great Britain. The first Southern Championship at Parliament Hill took place in February 1954 which meant that this year was celebrating 65 years the race has been run.
In the women's race (8K) 2 late withdrawals meant we only had 3 runners, 1 short for a team result. Nevertheless Jess, Lisa and Becs all turned in strong performances and Becs was particularly pleased to improve on her 2014 time despite both women's and men's races being under distance.
In the men's race over 15K eyes were focused on how far up Tim could finish particularly as he went into the race in good form. Unfortunately, a nagging hamstring injury forced his early withdrawal on lap 1 of this grueling 3 lap course. The only consolation this year was the mud was reasonably firm but there were still areas where it was tough going. It was left to Ian Halpin to bring the Flyers home and we eventually managed 57th team from 77 teams that finished. Keeping this in perspective we needed 6 to finish and score as a team yet there were a further 77 Clubs who couldn't manage that. Brilliant lads!
For me, best part of the day was seeing Chris Littlejohn come storming down that last hill like a bat out of hell almost skittling others runners but then realising, as he turned to the finish, he still had another 300m to run as the lactic acid kicked in! Well done to everyone today.
3 Counties XC Race 4: Ampthill Park - Sunday 13 January
Round 4 of the 3CXC saw the mighty AFF host at Ampthill Park- the home of the infamous Ampthill Trophy race!! Cool and windy conditions drew flyers to the race like bees round a honey pot! This was a prime example of how the club pulled together tremendously in force. Flyers had a massive 67 runners today which was all the more impressive as only possible due to the reams that organised, baked, provided good, free services, marshalling, recording, course marking and set up and much more. Brilliant to see so many new Flyers embracing the 'challenging' course on home turf.
On the ladies team Kerry Large continued her strong running streak to come in 1st scorer, followed closely by an ever-improving Amy Farr, with the perennial Caroline Gilby putting those Friday morning Sedgers sessions to good use coming in 3rd scorer. 4th scorer was the amazing Lisa Wells,who was doubling up after yesterdays Chiltern League XC exertions- phenomenal! The ever competitive women had a close battle for an excellent 5th that stood Ampthill in good stead for the combined.
I loved watching every one tackling the naughty incline to the finish- special mention goes to Debbie Newell and Becs who flew up it!! Lovely to see such strong running from Zoey Didlick, Jacqui Morland, Michelle Morris, Katie Ruditis, Hattie Oakley King, Emily Brown, Anita Wilson, Samantha Walters, Vickie Humber (who can I add has made huge improvements!) and Pat Godfrey. Hard to remember everyone I saw, but so pleased to see so many ladies and so many smiles, and such determination on a tough course. Ladies, let's take this fire on to the 5th and final round of the league in Wootton at the end of the month! We need as many of you as possible to come along and give it your best shot to see if we can get another great combined team result.
For the men we had another great turnout as we addressed our head to head battle against North Herts. Like Lisa Wells, Hattie King, Katie Ruditis, Sophie Windmill and Rebecca Fleckney for the ladies, the men had Stephen Green, Joe Strange, myself, Nathan Jones, Lee Murphy, Callum Harrison and Ben Stoneman who all doubled up after doing the Chiltern yesterday. What was more remarkable was 4 of them scored in a competitive Flyers line up. At the front of the entire field and almost hogging his own postcode was Tim Harris with a big margin of victory. This doesn't all come naturally and is a just reward for the additional efforts he is putting into his training and doubling his mileage. Harry Smith on only his 2nd appearance again had a brilliant run in 6th, Stephen Green turned it on for his parents in 8th. Ian Halpin who trained through as he is in marathon training should great resilience in 13th. He was closely followed one place behind by Joe Strange with a double weekend a world away from 800 and 400 metre track running. I was a further place behind with debutante Nathan Jones a few places further back. Phil Holland who thankfully turned up early a good few minutes before the start made up the scoring team.
James Handley did the honorable thing knowing the course by acting as an early hare with a whirlwind start. We welcomed the following debutantes for the season or ever in addition to Nathan of Chris Littlejohn, Ste Hartley, Graham Haigh, David Thomas, Stephen Mullens, Richard Stanley, Henry Lynn, Gary Morris, Steve Cunningham and John Kenyan in addition to the ladies Keri Withers and Anita Wilson. Well done to Will Wilmott, Dave Stanley and Michelle Morris for their best season positions. For the men despite our lowest score of the season we just lost out to North Herts. Our victories in the first 3 matches mean we need to finish first 3 last match to win. Well done to North Herts. They are excellent competitors and we continue to enjoy good battles. Overall we scored an excellent 2nd again behind North Herts.
Similar messages to previous well done to all that run and enhance the league and lift the team. This was a tough but excellent course which our runners of different standards face head on and embrace as they do with many challenges. Thank you to the marshals for both your time and your excellent encouragement. Amazing some could double up with pics. Thank you to all supporters, Louise Wilkins, Jo Morris and all those who contributed. We retain and enhance our reputation as a brilliant club both on and off the course. Thanks to Phil Bierton for his swift work on results - if you can just knock 3 points off our score. 2 weeks to the last 3 Counties. Hope to see you all there enjoying someone elses cake!
3 Counties XC Race 3: Standalone Farm - Sunday 16 December
A beautiful morning for the 3rd round of the 3CXC league - perfect weather for a festive 5 miles through the Hertfordshire countryside. Matching the weather were the sunshine performances and support throughout the squad as we returned our best result this season. Fantastic to see so many of you getting into the spirit of it with some great festive outfits- Vickie Humber and Nicky Double- and lots of tinsel on display in general! Becs Fleckney I am amazed your shoe tinsel remained intact!!
On the running front, Kerry Large once again lead the AFF ladies team home, continuing to pick off places every race, followed closely by Amy Farr who put in another brilliant run. Jess Anstee came flying home as 3rd scorer, and another consistently strong run by Lisa Wells secured the 4th scoring spot. Great packing by a group of ladies close behind included the ever present Jo Aatkar and Caroline Gilby, a storming Jacqui Morland ,Katie Ruditis, Niki Stevenson,Christine Sharman and Michelle Morris, with Debbie Newell coming back from injury to have a cracking run. Another wave of ladies pushing on included Karen Penfold, Louise Wilkins, Nicky Double, Mae Sky, Laura Johnston, a beaming Claire Jones and Becs Fleckney, the one and only amazing Pat Godfrey and Vickie Humber looking stronger every race. A huge thankyou to all the ladies that came and conquered today- all your points are invaluable and it is a pleasure to get to cheer you all on! Another solid performance by the ladies team saw us finish in 5th position.
For the men, after taking his weekly mileage to unprecedented levels Tim Harris returned to his spot at Top Dog with both a fantastic and controlled performance as he stormed to victory - well deserved. He was supported by a phenomenal debut from Harry Smith witg 5th place. Thanks also to Jessica Anstee, club scout, for utilising her radar to track an unattached to a club Harry and secure his signing - Everton striker next please. Stephen Green had a brilliant run pacing superbly to come through the field to finish 6th in one of his best cross countries for years. Ian Halpin whose knee lost a fight with a car door but personal pain 2nd to club gain by running in discomfort for a great 9th. I was 10th fuelled by Cobra. Steve Upton continued his fine form with 18th. Lee Murphy has been a welcome addition and he ran great in 25th. John Decesare who has no real love for cross country (though he loves cake) still appreciates the benefits and like other scorers produced a season best performance. The end result was our lowest score this season which was needed as North Herts came at us with force witg their lowest score by some way. Nevertheless we scored another victory and with the great ladies performance we had another excellent 2nd overall. A pleasing aspect of the mens performance was that we swapped in/out 3 regular scorers. 2 were thwarted by house moves and Christmas working, the 3rd exercised his annual "miss the start" routine. Phil Holland the next one starts at 10am!
A significant pleasing aspect were the reams of season best performances throughout the team. In addition to the aforementioned the following all secured their best position - Phil Horan who had one of his best runs in any sphere, Vickie Humber, Dave Sedgely, Claire Jones, Laura Johnston, Mae Sky, Louise Wilkins, Debbie Newell, Andrew Ralphs, Christine Sharman, Terry McHugh, Michelle Morris, Niki Stevenson, Katie Ruditis, Paul Court, Jonathan Walker, Jacqui Morland, Dean Shanley, Caroline Gilby, Tank Hardwick, Jo Aatkar, Mark Danger Rouse, Lisa Wells, Chris Newnham, Jessica Anstee, Amy Witheridge Farr, Kerry Large, Philip Mead, Richard Pillinger, Andy Bierton, Dan Karaiskou, Ashley Larman and Martin Beare.
In addition to Harry we also welcomed the following Three Counties seasonal debutantes: Karen Penfold, Paresh Aatkar, Nicky Double, Andy Penfold, Jeremy Lewis, Jason Theobald, Mark Billington and Callum Harrison. Further to the above Marcus Cook and Richard Gale were recovering well from stag do no 1, Ross Henson continued his progression and James Handley won the award for the longest stride.
All the performances were only possible with a great support crew. Many thanks to Phil Bierton and Jane Cook for recording, Becs for legitimizing all runners. Thanks also to Rob Cook, Charlene Halpin, Richard Jones, Steve Gibbons and Sophie Windmill who despite not being able to run still came to support. Thanks also to partners and children such as Shelly Harris, Finlay and Tara Quinn for their support. Another really great Flyers performance throughout. You should all feel lots of self pride for your efforts and support.
Now is the time to eat, drink and be merry over the festive season nicely refreshed to come back for the 4th Round at Ampthill. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and fab New Year and happiness in 2019.
Debs and Mark
Great Denham Parkrun - Saturday 8 December
Chatting with Marcus Cook at the last cross country he told myself and Terry that his dad was back up running after years out with injuries and that they intended to undertake the Great Denham Park Run as a 'first run' back. Mick is great running pal of mine from years past and a good friend of Terry so we decided to surprise him by turning up on Saturday morning and run with him. Mick was one of the early original Flyers and a great runner and if you look at the Club records he still holds 5 including 2 particularly impressive 10K performances of 35.02 (Vet 45) and 35.15 (Vet 50). The Vet 45 record has now stood for 26 years! ....and now he has just added a 6th Club Record to his tally as a Vet 70-74 age group. Interestingly, although we all finished virtually together he has managed to snatch 8 seconds on all of us! Well done Mick it was pleasure and an honour to run with you again and hopefully you will be able to keep it up.
Dave & Terry Stanley
Last Updated: Friday, 17 May 2019 22:15