HRRL Fleet Half Marathon and “The Grizzly”

HRRL Fleet Half Marathon

Farnham Runners took good advantage of the Fleet Half Marathon being in the Hampshire Road Race League for the first time, with 50 members taking part, a record for any race. Organisers Fleet & Crookham AC were praised for the flawless organisation under the direction of race director, Penny Abbott, no easy task as the race takes over 3,000 entrants. Over 300 volunteers gave freely of their time to undertake a number of roles and the organising team made a big effort to reduce the environmental footprint, for example by using paper instead of plastic cups.

As the season enters the second half the Farnham teams are keen to uphold or improve on their present positions, so the proximity of the race was a boon. Before the race the ladies lay 5th in the top A division while the men topped division two. There were 9 ladies’ team and 12 men’s places up for grabs but it was an event for all standards of runner who could tackle the challenging 13.1 mile distance and 21 club members, including both experienced runners and relative newcomers, gained new personal best times, some by an astounding 8 -15 minutes!

Matt Saker took 1 minute 38 seconds off his previous best to lead in the men in 1 hour 22 minutes 02 seconds over the undulating course, 158th of 2,700 finishers. Next came Stuart Haig in 1:25:23, while Andy McCall took a 7 minute chunk off his previous best for 1:26:26. Jason East took the final A team scoring place with 1:27:34. This quartet gave the Farnham men top slot of the second division on the day and increased their lead on aggregate to 9 points above second placed Portsmouth Joggers.

Just seconds behind Jason was Harvey Wickham in 1:27:43, leading a B team with Neil Ambrose in 1:28:37 (PB), Charlie Hill-Venning in 1:31:36 and captain John Phillips in 1:32:27 (PB). This team was 8th in B division one on the day, keeping them 10th after 7 of the 12 events in the series.

The C team which came 4th in B division two, keeping them 6th on aggregate, comprised Mike Taylor (1:33:26), Paul Mackie (1:34:51, PB), Steve Bailey (1:35:14, PB) and John Hill-Venning (1:36:18).

All three ladies teams gained excellent results. The A team came 3rd in the top division on the day, keeping them 5th on aggregate but giving them a healthier gap above the 6th club. The B team in B division one were 2nd, pushing them up 3 places to lie a much safer 11th of 15 clubs, while the Cs came 2nd in division two pushing them up 2 places to 10th of 18 clubs.

Louise Granell was on form for an 8 minute PB of 1:33:36, followed by Kayleigh Copeland with a 3 minute PB of 1:36:37. Final A scorer was Linda Tyler in 1:38:32, another PB, for 6th in the F55 category.

Susie Chan led the B trio in 1:38:36, with Billy McCulloch in a PB 1:38:41 and Jane Georghiou, 1st F65, in 1:47:06.

A close packed group of Lindsay Bamford (1:47:48), newcomer Sasha Cowley, who was delighted with a 10 minute PB (1:48:32) and Anne Snelson (1:49:52) were the C team.

Other times: Justin Clarke 1:36:11 (debut), Damian Probett 1:37:37 (4 minute PB), Ali Hardaway 1:38:30, Tim Cummins 1:39:15, Chris Cramp 1:40:31, Craig Tate-Grimes 1:43:06 (PB) Stephen Tarrant 1:43:53, Michael Hitchings 1:47:12, Chris Jackson 1:47:19, David Boakes 1:49:34, Kate Townsend 1:51:36, Rebecca Martin 1:55:03, Keith Toms 1:55:02, Kay Copeland 1:57:54, Michael Stephens 1:57:28, Steve Payne 1:58:41, Helen Bracey 1:59:33 (PB by 15 minutes!), Vicky Goodluck 1:59:34 (PB), Philip Masters 2:01:27, Adam Harrison 2:04:00, Ellie Addison 2:06:21 (debut), Colin Addison 2:06:21, Charlotte Whatley 2:07:55, Clair Bailey 2:09:30, Jane Probett 2:11:06 (debut), Susan MacKenzie 2:18:30 (PB by 4 mins), Jackie Wilkinson 2:18:42 (PB by 8 minutes) Carolyn Wickham 2:27:16 (PB by 4 minutes), Nicola O’Connor 2:32:51.

“The Grizzly”

The previous week, six members ventured to Seaton in Devon for the notorious Grizzly race.

Runners’ notes warn “The Grizzly has more than 3,000′ ascent in its 20 miles. There are two sections of beach, totalling well over a mile; two energy-sapping bogs, where runners are often up to their waists in water and mud; and the infamous “Stairway to Heaven”, a steep path up the side of a cliff (beware if you suffer from vertigo). Some of the descents are steep and often very slippery, so please take care. It will take roughly your road marathon time, perhaps longer if conditions are grim.”

Blustery conditions added to the challenge this year. Yet the Farnham Runners gained some creditable times; John Phillips 3:15:51, Steve Bailey 3:15:53, James Musgrave 4:03:23, Kate Townsend, Linda Tyler and Lindsay Bamford all 4:22:17.