Farnham Runners impress in UK and International races

In this press release: HRRL Solent Half Marathon, European Masters (outdoor) Championships, Age Group Marathon World Championships, Berlin Marathon, Gower Coastal Trail Races, Great South Run and another of our “Bar Talks”.

HRRL Solent Half Marathon

Some of the Farnham Runners men's team at the 2023 Solent half marathon

Twelve Farnham Runners travelled to the south coast recently for the Solent Half Marathon, the second race in this season’s Hampshire Road Race League. The event, which has been going for over 30 years, boasts a lovely course winding through the New Forest around Exbury and along the Solent shore at Lepe, starting and finishing on the field at Gang Warily and mainly following country roads. Runners sometimes need to give way to the New Forest wild ponies and, this year, were told to look out for the water buffalo around mile 10!

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day for the race, although the heat did add an extra challenge for the more than 400 runners that took part.

First to finish for Farnham was James Clarke, 7th overall and 2nd M40; he was followed by James Lyons in 1:30:25, Nick Grist in 1:35:06 and, completing the men’s A team, Ivan Chunnett in 1:36:31. Chris Raby headed the B team in 1:38:25 to come 2nd M60, followed by Paul Keogh in 1:42:08, Justin Clarke in 1:44:11 and James Goodwin in 1:46:41. Nick Haire, in his first Hampshire league race, completed the course in 1:59:48.

The ladies were depleted in numbers for this race and there weren’t enough for a complete team. Linda Tyler was the first Farnham lady to cross the finish line in 1:45:09 and collected the 1st F60 prize; Ali Mitchell was next in 1:56:10 and new member, Gemma Whitehouse, completed the course in 2:05:49.

European Masters (outdoor) Championships

On the same day, representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Jane Georghiou completed a half marathon in even warmer and humid conditions. She was taking part in the European Masters (outdoor) Championships in Pescara in Italy, as part of a holiday. She was delighted to come 3rd of the F70s in the race and so to be presented with a bronze medal.

Jane Georghiou (left) with her medal and certificate on the podium with the GB65 ladies half marathon team at the 2023 European Masters (outdoor) Championships

The GB team managers selected her as part of the F65 team (as there weren’t enough competitors for GB in that age group) which was awarded the silver team medal Photo above).

Just three days earlier she was the second member of the GB F70 team in the 10km and again the team clinched the silver medal.

Jane commented:

“The 10km was on a weekday and the police wouldn’t allow it to be run early morning or any later, so it started at 4pm when it was still very warm. The half marathon was on a Sunday and started at 9am so was much cooler for the first part. GB and NI fielded large team which came second in the overall medal table, behind the hosts Italy.

Like other Masters European and World Athletic Championships, this was an incredible event that includes all track and field events athletics disciplines, as well as a cross-country and road races for runners and walkers. Every 5 year age group from 35 upwards competes in their own category.”

Age Group Marathon World Championships

The following week, Chris Matthews represented the club in the Age Group Marathon World Championships in Chicago. On a cold and overcast morning (perfect for running fast) in ‘The Windy City’ Chris set off in the first Wave just a few metres behind the Elite Men’s field which included Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum (who broke the World Record that day).

He reported:

“The start of the course was very twisty which caused something of a traffic jam but this soon cleared and I was able to get into a good rhythm after 5K and maintained my target pace for the next 20 miles before tiring a little in the closing miles” I have now run 5 (London, Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston) of the six major marathons and I hope one day to complete in the Tokyo marathon to complete the set.”

Setting a new personal best in just over 2 hours and 46 minutes Chris placed 61st in his Age Group (164th overall and 5th from |GB in the age group) in the World Champs. He also broke the Farnham Runners M45 club marathon record, which had stood for 15 years, by a massive 3minutes 40 seconds.

Berlin Marathon

At the end of September Matt Saker chose the Berlin marathon. He said:

“I really enjoyed running in Berlin and was pleased with another sub-3 hour time.”

His time of 3:59:29 was his seventh under 3 hours since 2017.

Gower Coastal Trail Races

Farnham Runners Linda Tyler and Sue Taylor celebrating after their run in the 2023 Gower Coastal Trail Races

Two ladies from Farnham Runners crossed the border into Wales recently for the Gower Coastal Trail Races – a long distance event following the Wales Coast Path around the beautiful Gower Peninsula, organised by the aptly named company – Run, Walk, Crawl!

Linda Tyler opted for the 34 mile Gower Ultra Bach (Little), starting at Weobley Castle near Llanidmore on the north Gower Coast and following several miles of muddy trails leading to the long flat stretch of sand at Rhossilli Bay.

This is where Sue Taylor was waiting to start the 23 mile Trail Race, both distances coming together to follow the coastal path along the cliff tops, down into beach side coves and across farmland to Port Eynon, before crossing the stunning beach at Oxwich Bay, negotiating the sand dunes around Three Cliffs Bay, passing through Langland and Caswell Bays and finishing at the Mumbles Cricket Club.

Energy levels were topped up at the many aid stations along the route, offering a wide choice of food and drinks and as always with events of this nature, there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst the runners.

Sue was delighted to finish 10th female in the Trail Race with a time of 5:22:58; Linda completed the Ultra Bach in 8:22:55 and was 20th female. She summed up the race:

“Ouch that was tough…but absolutely gorgeous too.”

Great South Run

Farnham Runners Candy Waller, Chris Gill and Gemma Whitehouse after the 2023 Great South Run

Having completed the Farnham Runners “Get Me Started” course earlier this year, Candy Waller reports on her experience of the Great South Run (10 miles), on 15th October 2023.

“It was a chilly start to a beautiful day for my first “long” race with glorious blue skies over Portsmouth. Gemma, Chris and I took the Park and Ride, so no hassles with parking. The atmosphere was completely electric, the whole city seemed alive and in race mood! There were literally thousands of runners, and supporters of all ages. Gemma, being an old hand at this event, steered us to bag drop offs and other facilities.

Chris and I were in the same wave with Gemma in the wave behind us. The organisers warmed us up at the start line for 10-15 mins, and then we were off.

The crowd was amazing from the very start, lining every metre of the route. There was a marching band, and bagpipers, and various loudspeakers playing music along the route, plus lots of charities in open top buses with supporters clapping and calling out our names.

Naval officers, firefighters and police also lined the streets and cheered us on, and we passed HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Spinnaker Tower (yes, Chris and I did consider stopping for a photo!). Even Sunday pub patrons stood outside and clapped as we went past.

My family were tracking my progress on the GSR app, and managed to get there in time to see me between miles 7 and 8, which was nice (my teenage children are still quite amused by my “new running career”!)

I loved this race, and am ever thankful to Chris for keeping my pace steady (until the final 400m when I just had to get that medal!) – if you haven’t done the Great South yet then I highly recommend it, for the atmosphere as well as the interesting route through the Historic Dockyard. Oh, and did I mention, it’s flat . . . .!

Our final chip times were: Me (Candy) 1:28:00; Chris 1:28.21; Gemma 1:29.40.

We had a slightly longer than anticipated wait for the Park and Ride bus back, but we were all clutching our medals and still smiling, so all in all, a great day and I’ve already signed up for next year.”

“Bar Talks”

Susie Chan giving a talk to Farnham Runners at a post run Bar Talk

The regular Club post-run talks continued with an inspirational presentation by former member Susie Chan who has completed the epic Marathon des Sables race three times and this year the notorious 135-mile Badwater Ultra marathon in Death Valley, USA, with temperatures in the 50s.

See the Photo Gallery 2023 for further photos from these events.