Not just London – we take part in marathons all over the world!

Farnham Runners have been very busy in spring marathons, not only the London Marathon but also in Boston, Tokyo, Dorset and Manchester. Many followed arduous training plans to ensure success on the day. Some have now run the challenging distance many times, while for others it was their first- and maybe their last attempt! Many raised large sums for their chosen charities, totalling £12,630 and taking the Farnham Runners’ tally since 2001 to £289,830.

For all it was a memorable experience. Here are their stories, starting with the London Marathon.

London Marathon

Farnham Runners marathon runners supporters at Greenwich for the 2023 London Marathon

First back in Farnham Runners colours was Chris Matthews who bettered his time by over 2 minutes despite a heavy workload this year. He was 1248th overall out of the 50,000 entrants!

Chris Matthews with his medal after the 2023 London Marathon

He writes:

“Having run 2:50:00 in 2022, I set off with a goal of running sub 2:50 this year. Although I started a new job in early Feb in London and then immediately caught COVID, this training block had been less than perfect. Starting from the Green start I set off to see how long I could keep on my target pace of just under 6:30 min a mile. Although a bit wet, the temperature was perfect for running and there was little wind. The first half of the race went exactly to plan crossing half way in just over 1:24, it was now a case of ticking off each mile and seeing how long I could keep going for. I got to mile 24 and my legs were now very tired but I was still on track for sub 2:50, I dug deep and was delighted to finish in 2:47. The time was special as it’s exactly an hour faster than my first London Marathon back in 2008 where I ran 3:47.”

With a number of sub 3 hour times to his name, Matt Saker had to settle for 3:04:27 this year.

Paralympian double gold medalist in hand-cycling, Rachel Morris qualified last year in London to join the elite wheelchair racers this year. Only taking possession of her road chair a few weeks before the race, she decided to treat the race as training for next year, and she recorded a time of 3:07:48.

Next fastest was Emma Pearson.


Emma Pearson racing in the 2023 London Marathon

She records:

“I’ve run about 20 marathons including 8 London marathons. I actually trained properly for this one. My target time was 3.15 so I’m super happy with my new PB of 3-14:15. I felt really good all way round and really enjoyed it.”

Then came Justin Clarke in his second marathon. He chopped a whopping 17 minutes off his time and commented:

“I found training harder over the winter, especially this year when the cold and wet weather went on for far too long. Fortunately I was able to keep to the distances and running time from the plan I was following. I wanted a “Good for Age” time – which for me meant finishing in under 3:45. I never know how a race is going to go for me until it starts and I settled into a relatively fast pace that I was able sustain for most of the distance and as a result I finished in 3:24:39. The London marathon is such an experience; nothing prepares you for the noise from supporters all the way around the route!”

Mark Maxwell finished in a remarkable 3.33:23 as his time for training had been very limited.

Mark Maxwell at home with his medal after the 2023 London Marathon

He said:

“I am happy with that.”

For Louise Granell it was her 8th marathon or ultra-marathon, the 4th of pure marathon distance.

Louise Granell running in the 2023 London Marathon

She reports:

“My training did not go to plan. I have had various colds and bugs since December so I found it hard to maintain consistency. I had originally hoped to do sub 3:30, in the end I did 3:40:31. I got terrible cramp coming down the last hill around mile 23, so it was stop-stretch-run for the last couple of miles.

In a recent ultra-marathon (34 miles) along with the London marathon I have raised over £560 for DogsnHomes who have helped feed, house and spay the abandoned pets (mainly dogs and cats) in Ukraine.”

Linda Tyler amazed other runners by her energy, stamina and endurance. It was her 44th marathon and 16th London, just 8 weeks after she ran the Tokyo marathon and only one week after completing the distance in Manchester, where she finished as 8th F60 in 3:50:44. In London her time was 3:42:37. She said:

“It went surprisingly well, especially as my training before Tokyo was interrupted by a fall!

I ran for both the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and for the Ruth Strauss Foundation which funds research into non-smoking related lung cancer, raising £1300 for each at a village quiz in November and more recently an extra £750 for the hospice.”

It was Ali Hardaway’s 3rd London marathon and his 11th altogether. He reports:

“My training could not have gone better, with two race build ups in my training plan, a 30k round the lakes in the Elan Valley and then the Fleet half marathon weeks later. I have raised £1470.00 for Parkinson’s UK from friends and family, as my sister Julie is very poorly with Parkinson’s and MSA (Multiple Symptoms Atrophy).

Although 1 had a 3:40 target I did well till mile 15 but then my quads started to tighten up, and could feel I just didn’t have the strength to maintain my race pace. Luckily there were some strategically placed “Hug Points” placed around the course by my partner Tina and Farnham Runners, Shirley and Penny, so I was able to draw on their support to finish in a respectable time of 4:10.33. London marathon rocks! The Atmosphere is Euphoric you have to experience it, there’s nothing else like it!”

Frances Lethbridge finished her first official marathon in 4:12:24 and she reports that her training went well, but she would definitely do a few more long runs if she were to train for one again. She writes:

“On the day – a great atmosphere and an incredible experience but it was hard! I went out slightly too quickly and slowed towards the end but I would definitely do it again.”

At a very difficult family time, Ali Mitchell completed the race in 4:33:09.

It was Clair Bailey’s first marathon.

Clair Bailey with her medal after the 2023 London Marathon

“My training went well and I pretty much followed my training plan for a target of under 5 hours. I tried to keep my pace slow and steady especially at the beginning which is really hard to do. I am very pleased with my time 4:35:39. The London marathon is a well-organised event and very well supported.”

As his training had gone well, Craig Tate-Grimes was very disappointed to have to slow down at 9 miles with a niggle and later pain in his hamstring. But he was pleased to finish in 4:37:33. He said:

“I pushed on with the help Farnham Runners support crew.”

Nicola O’Connor ran her second marathon.

Nicola O'Connor with her medal after the 2023 London Marathon

“I followed the TCS London Marathon 16 week programme. It went well for 12 weeks but I had a few painful niggles in the last month which took my training off track a bit as I had to rest more than run. It was a good routine to get through the long, cold, wet winter months!

I got a ballot place but chose to raise money too and joined TeamARUK – Alzheimer’s Research UK. So far I’ve raised £2,200. My Mum has advanced dementia and has been in a nursing home since 2016. ARUK is a research charity who are really making inroads into treatments for this devastating disease.

On the day it all went brilliantly until I got cramp at mile 16 and had to take some regular walk breaks to deal with it. But I loved every minute, the atmosphere was electric and the support round the course was epic. The sun came out around mile 23 and finishing on the Mall was an amazing feeling.”

Her time was 5:49:45.

For Jacquie Browne it was her first and maybe the only marathon.

Jacquie Browne with her medal after the 2023 London Marathon

She reports:

“My first Marathon at 60 …. Wow!

I hardly ran at all in 2022 and decided to start the “Get Me Started” course in September. At that time I could barely run for a minute. I have followed the beginners’ marathon training plan and built up my distance very slowly each week. I did plenty of yoga and weekly body strengthening classes and really tried to watch my nutrition.

By November I could run 5 miles, December 8 Miles, January 12 Miles, February 16 Miles, March 18 and finally in April, I managed 21 Miles. This experience has proved to me that if you follow the program, listen to the experts and have faith in what they tell you, anything is achievable.

Thank you, thank you to all my supporters – it’s been a long old road, a lot of hard work and many sacrifices. You have been with me every step of the way. I am so, so grateful to have so many amazing friends and such a fabulous family – love you all xxx.

My fundraising is almost at £4400 – raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

It was a cold and rainy start. The coach arrived at Greenwich at 8am and I had to wait until 11:15 for my start. It took me 6.5 hours to get over the line after spending the last 8 – 10 miles with cramp – including a visit to one of the medics.”

Kayleigh Copeland ran in Paris, her second marathon, on the 2nd April.

“My training went well, although I picked up a glute injury in week 5 which made it hard to complete all the sessions I wanted to do. My target time was between 3:15 and 3:30. I managed 3:26:53 and it went as well as it could have after a horrendous journey there!

I was supposed to arrive in Paris on the Friday night after work so that I could have two good night’s sleep beforehand but what actually happened was very different! My flight was cancelled so I had to get an overnight coach. We then hit ferry delays at Dover meaning our coach turned back to London and I got in at 3am Saturday morning and genuinely thought I wasn’t going to be able to run. I managed to find a very expensive last minute Eurostar that got me into Paris at 5:30pm the evening before the marathon. It was 24 hours of stress, lows and highs. In the end I was just happy to be there. The race itself went well for the first 20 miles. I was on track for 3:18 and my splits were very consistent. Just to add the palaver, one of my gels fell off my belt at 15k which contributed to hitting the wall at mile 20. Barrel of laughs really!

The moral of the story: Plan for the unexpected if travelling abroad to do a marathon!”

Some Farnham Runners at the clubhouse with their 2023 London Marathon medals

See the Photo Gallery 2023 for further photos from the London Marathon.

Brighton Marathon

Chris Raby ran the Brighton marathon.

Here is his story:

“This was my first. I have run the distance before in an Ultramarathon at the Gower but that was a very different type of run.

I followed what was described as an ‘advanced’ plan which was a bit make or break. Luckily it didn’t break me and I actually enjoyed most of it.

It evolved during the training and settled at 3:20 but I decided to push a bit harder on the day and I was delighted to cross the line in 3:17:09 and be second in the M60 category!

It was a great day all round. The crowds were amazing, I enjoyed the course, the sun came out and I and my fellow runners all achieved their target times.”

Also in the Brighton run was Ivan Chunnett who said:

“I had to juggle my training plan around two bouts of flu and multiple work trips to Madagascar and Oman, which meant I missed out on some key runs and did some long runs on my own late at night in the middle of the week, when it was dark and wet. I was not expecting to be able to meet my target time of under 3:30, but I thought I would give it my best shot on the day and went out at my target pace from the start. The run went, although there were some tough patches in the middle, I managed to keep pushing through and I finished in 3:27:35, a PB by over 3 minutes. After crossing the line I said I am never going to race another marathon and I will stick to long slow ultramarathons but I was inspired by everyone running London marathon, so I have just signed up to Abingdon marathon at the end of October as I prefer training in the summer!”

Andy Brown was with Chris and Ivan in Brighton too and he was very pleased to clinch a sub 3:30 in 3:28:06.

Mike Taylor clocked 4:02:20 and he was disappointed not to go under 4 hours as he has done so previously. He has completed all the Brighton marathons since it started except the virtual one in 2020.

Boston Marathon

Matthew Wernham, Toria and Stephen Dick completed the Boston marathon. Matthew was a splendid 20th M65 in 3:21:35 and Stephen recorded 3:36:17.

Toria Dick said:

“Boston this year was my 50th marathon. In brief, off the back of inadequate training due to the prolonged effects of COVID I wasn’t expecting great things, added to that hurting my back the week before race day and then having a filling fall out the night before the marathon meant that I was going to be happy just to finish. It was a cold and rainy Monday, with an absolute deluge of rain just as we hit the Newton Hills, but Boston is a wonderful course and the support is amazing! I was thrilled to finish in 4:07:24 (never thought I’d be thrilled with a 4hr plus road marathon time) and was actually faster up Heartbreak Hill than last year. I flew home to the prospect of a dentist’s appointment! I ran for Children with Leukaemia in Manchester and raised £250.”

Larmer Tree Marathon

Meanwhile, keen off road marathoner, Kate Townsend completed the Larmer Tree Marathon in Dorset in March, her 16th marathon.

“I didn’t have a target time as I knew I’d be tired from the Grizzly ultra-marathon and I knew it would be super hilly and muddy. I just wanted to get round and enjoy it!

Race day dawned with a mixed bag for weather. Sun, wind, rain, cloud. But thankfully after a rainy start, it cleared to be perfect running weather. The Rushmore Estate is a gorgeous running spot with wide open vistas, beautiful woodland and many, many hills! The organiser, White Star Running, also have a brilliant sense of humour so there are plentiful signs to make you laugh on the way round. It was a tough but great day with an awesome medal and goody bag as a reward. Definitely one to do again!”

Manchester Marathon

And last but not least very new member Nick Haire only re-joined Farnham Runners after meeting Linda Tyler at the Manchester marathon but is very keen to be part of the club and he reports:

“I’ve run 20+ marathons. The training for Rome this year was tough – my 1st marathon for 8 years. My target time was sub-4 and I managed 3:49. In Manchester I finished 3:58. I have raised £400 for Prostate Cancer UK.”