Members of Alton Runners were very busy on September 4.
The majority chose to take part in the Hampshire Road Race League’s first race of the season, the Overton 5, while others took part in the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and Half Marathon, the London Big Half and the Southampton Pizza Run (10k).
A total of 21 club members took part. As in 2021 the race was held on fully-closed or traffic-managed roads that showed off the wonderful countryside around Overton.
Starting at the Berrydown sports fields and finishing at the Overton Recreation Centre, the route was an out-and-back course but as the start and finish were about three-quarters of a mile apart, it meant the runners had a long downhill at the start and a long downhill at the finish.
The weather favoured the runners as apart from a little shower in the middle of the race, the weather remained dry and cool.
The first Alton Runner over the line was reigning men’s road race champion Alex Hall in 28min 28sec, finishing in 18th place overall.
In his first race for the club Thomas Skentos finished 51st in the race in 30min 48sec.
Other finishers in the men’s race were James Medley (31.16), Rich Webley (31.36), Neil Kinder (32.25), Andrew Hook (33.16), Gary Thurtle (34.15), Christian Coles (35.10), Richard Bacon (39.27), Jim Armitage (40.20), Stephen Clow (41.04), John Greenhalgh (41.09), Timothy Fagg (43.24), John Arbury (44.26), Hugh Bethell (45.0) and Darren Mansfield (48.31).
The most notable performances out of these were achieved by Richard Bacon, who was third in the V65 category, Hugh Bethell’s third place in V75, Neil Kinder’s eighth place in V55 and John Arbury’s ninth place in V65.
First-placed Alton Runner in the women’s team was Diane Byrne in 39min 28sec, closely followed by Abbie Hook in 39.40 and Jane Scrase in 49.46.
Lydia Andrews finished in 52.13 and Millie Wilson in 56.58.
Southampton Pizza Run
Further afield, Alton Runners reigning women’s road race champion Rachel Walsh took part in the Southampton Pizza run at Southampton Common.
In a race that had a pizza slice-shaped medal and delicious pizza at the finish, Rachel finished fifth overall and first female in 44min 9sec.
Rachel said: “It was so much fun, but with a multi-lap course it got a bit confusing with people running in all different directions.”
Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and Half Marathon
Two members of Alton Runners took part in the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and six in the Half Marathon.
The Pilgrim has been described as possibly one of the prettiest trail events in the UK.
The route is challenging and rewarding and takes place in the Surrey Hills.
It was awarded a trophy for the “best new event” after its inaugural running in 2010 and since has been consistently highly rated by participants.
In 58th place and first V60 across the line was Alton Runner Ian Jackson in 4hr 38min.
Clubmate Gary Caswell finished in 74th place and 16th placed V55 in 4:47.06.
This was Gary’s second marathon of the year, having taken part in the Brighton event in April. He admitted he had not done enough training and as usual was “winging it”.
“I must admit,” he said, “I think the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon is one of the most scenic runs in the area. It has beautiful scenery which takes your mind off the pain of running so many hills.”
In the half marathon, Kat Barrett led the club home in 2hr 21sec, finishing in 62nd place overall and 11th place female.
She was followed by Patrick Tuite (2:18.14), Kathryn Powell (2:40.11), Lisa Woolnough (2:56.27), Debbie Whitehead (2:59.03) and Rob Hay (3:12.50).
It was Rob’s first time taking part in the Pilgrim half marathon and he said: “It is a stunning course.
“The first half is definitely easier than the second and was a joy to run.
“It was a lovely atmosphere with very friendly marshalls and competitors, not to mention Mars bars at the water stops! I even found the public using the pathways and standing at the side of the road very welcoming and encouraging with a glorious downhill to the finish line.”
London Big Half
The Big Half is a vibrant, inclusive half marathon with an unmissable festival atmosphere.
It features a stunning 13.1-mile course that sets off by Tower Bridge in central London and finishes at the famous Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
The men’s race was won by Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah in 1hr 1min 49sec with Commonwealth gold medallist Eilish McColgan winning the women’s race in 1:07.35.
The first-placed Alton Runner was Sam Larcombe who finished in 394th place out of 16,628 runners in a time of 1:21.07.
Sam had been chasing the 1hr 20min pacers and caught up with them with two miles to go. After this, he faded but was pleased with the result, achieving a personal-best time by 12 seconds.
Sam was followed by Andreas Palikiras who completed the 13.1-mile route in 1:35.51.
Andreas was using this race, like many, as a build-up to the London Marathon. Unfortunately his training was hampered as two weeks before the Big Half he contracted Covid and was unable to train.
Even when he got back into his training Andreas wasn’t at 100 per cent as he had a high heart rate and his breathing wasn’t back to normal.
By his own admission his immediate preparation for the race wasn’t ideal either.
“I had pre-race nerves and slept for only about three and a half hours the night before. I had to get up at 5am to catch the 6.30 train from Woking so this wasn’t ideal at all,” he said.
“I would have liked to have got a personal best but this didn’t happen.
“I was more than two minutes over my PB but all things considered I should be content.”
The next races Alton Runners will be taking part in are the Solent half marathon on Sunday, the Chawton House Cardiac Rehab cross country on Sunday, October 9 and the Hayling 10 on Sunday, November 6.