Epic Racing Weekend for AVR



Axe Valley Runners were out in force racing across the country this weekend.  From Manchester to Reading; from Exeter to London via Taunton runners competed in distances ranging from 10k to the 26.2m on the road and up to 22 miles on the trails.



At the Therme Manchester Marathon, qualification was up for grabs for the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games, but for the seven AVRs a personal best (PB) and a good-for-age spot for London was enough incentive for the trip north.  The race, which starts and finishes near Old Trafford is fast and flat and with no London marathon this month is the biggest Spring marathon in the UK.


In a big field with more than 14000 marathon finishers, five AVRs finished in the incredible sub-3 hour bracket which is a tremendous achievement for the club.  First home was Terry Emmett in 2:37.22 followed by Duncan Staddon in 2:38.41, both in PBs.  Next to finish was Rob Collier in 2:49.07, his first sub 2:50 finish and an impressive 12th M50.  Matt Hewer in 2:55.34, was also delighted to secure a PB with Richard Hardy in 2:58.39 completing the sub 3 set.


Rupert Pady in 3:10.17 and Karen Eyre in 3:47.59 also ran excellent times for the 26.2m event.  All seven have secured the (current) sought after good-for-age times for London showing massive commitment from them and the huge strength in depth within AVR.



Half marathon fun in the big smoke

Eight AVRs enjoyed a sunny Sunday morning in the capital running the London Landmarks half-marathon which, as the name suggests, takes runners past some of the city’s most well-known buildings.  Sam Tooze and Emma Richardson ran together and finished in 2:19.18 with Jo Orsman just behind them in 2:23.39.  Carolyn Nation, who was running for Parkinson’s UK in memory of her mother, achieved a brilliant PB of 2:34.13 while Sam Halls, also got a great PB of 2:43.06 whilst raising money for Diabetes UK.


Jason Hyde completed his third half-marathon in three weeks with a time of 2:19.54 while Denise Burges finished in 2:31.23


A big shout-out to the final member of the team, Bec Davey who helped at a water station in Holbone after having to withdraw due to injury.



Two each for Taunton and Reading

The Taunton marathon and half also took place in Sunday’s perfect racing conditions with Jack Broom and Ron Seward amongst the 500 field in the half-marathon.  An excellent fifth place for Jack Broom in a PB of 1:14.52 was particularly impressive given the hilly course.  Ron Seward was second M70 in a very good 1:54.43.


Cliff Marriott and Haydn Boehm travelled to Reading for the 40th anniversary of this well-known half-marathon.  Following a recent bout of Covid-19 Haydn was happy with his 1:39.13 time while Cliff finished in 1:47.10.



First chance 10k

The much delayed First Chance 10k – usually held in January –saw six AVRs test themselves on the flat course around Exeter Riverside.   The event is the first of this year’s In Step Devon series and prior to today’s event last year’s winners were announced.  In 2021 Eleanor Wood won the F60 category, Rob Collier the M50 and AVR were second male team and fourth female team.


In today’s event, 129 runners completed the course in perfect racing conditions with James Ashforth first AVR home in 39th place in 44:21.  Suzi Blackett was 74th in 52.19 with Angela Kerr hot on her heels in 52.56 which won her the trophy for first F65.  Maxine Sweetman was delighted to bag the second F65 in 58.45 with Gill Day finishing in 58.41 and Rachel Hiscock coming in in 1:01.29.



First and third at Exe to the Axe   

Arguably harder than the Grizzly, certainly longer, the Exe to the Axe must be one of the most scenic races in the country.  Starting at the mouth of the River Exe in Exmouth it follows the South West Coast Path all the way to the Axmouth Yacht Club on Seaton seafront.  With all the other races this weekend a smaller than usual contingent of AVRs took part but those that did enjoyed fantastic views given the very clear skies as they tackled the challenging 22-mile course.


Matt Clist won the race, which had 142 finishers, in a brilliant time of 2:52.39, some eight minutes clear of second place.  In third place and second male was Tim Lenton in 3:05.35.


Eleanor Wood was a brilliant sixth female, first F60 in 3:53.30.  James Green came in 20th in 3:43.33 with Stephen Grigg 28th in 3:49.34.  Ian Kinnersley was second M60 in 3:57.29.


Margaret Pearce and Caroline French ran together to finish in 4:23.13 in 74th and 75th with Alan Morbey coming next AVR in 4:52.05.    Steve Maclure finished in 5:22.22.  Vicki Wraight, Helen Holmes, Katharine Moran and Julia Mallon all ran together to finish in 5:41.


A half distance option was also on offer running from Sidmouth to Seaton.  Esme Markham completed this leg in 2.33.28, a creditable eleventh of the 25 finishers.




Powderham Castle Tenner


On Saturday, in perfect racing conditions, Kerry Board and Andy West represented AVR at the Powderham Castle 10 miler.   The two lap route took the 300 runners around the castle’s undulating ground finishing in the castle courtyard.


Kerry set a 10m off-road PB finishing in 1:23.20, sixth female and first F45.  Andy was just behind clinching 49th overall place 1:27.46.



Bolt Round the Holt


In this brilliantly named 10k event near Farnham, Simon Dimmock took third place – second male – in 40.39.



New female course record at Seaton parkrun

Innes Fitzgerald followed up her brilliant win at the Schools International cross country last weekend by smashing her own female course record at Seaton parkrun by running a big PB of 17:11. Vivienne and Derek Blumfield, recent graduates of the club’s Couch to 5k, both secured a PB of 33.05.

PICS: Exe to Axe starters;  Exe to the Axe first three men; The Manchester marathon sub-3 team





Several AVRs made the short journey into Dorset yesterday for the Bridport half-Marathon and 10K, organised by Beyond Events.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, cool morning so perfect racing conditions for the picturesque, mostly road courses.


In the half-marathon Laura Kerr had a terrific run finishing as third female from a field of 54 nabbing a big personal best of 1.53.07. Given the undulating course she was delighted with her time.


Adele Girdwood was 21st in 2:01.09 with Angela Kerr, who was using it as a training run for other events, next AVR in 2:07.23 (29th).


Kathryn Thomson finished in 2:41(51st) in only her second ever half-marathon as she continues her excellent progress towards the London Marathon in October.


In the 10k event which also had one hill to negotiate, Sarah Whelan was first AVR home in 31st in 1:03.51 with Tracey Stone finishing it in 1:11.18 (46th) and in her first ever 10k, Caroline Wiseman came in 60th in 1:13.57.


Further afield, Tony Smith and Sam Miller ran the Cardiff Half Marathon.  The top-class field – although this time without their son, Jake – included Welsh athlete, Natasha Cockram who won the women’s race in 1:10.47; a time that should see her secure a Commonwealth Games slot for Wales.  The mass participation race, that had been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, attracted more than 11,000 runners.  Tony finished in an excellent 1:41:45, with Sam completing it in 2:11.49.


Jason Hyde, who is doing three half-marathons in three weeks, also completed Cardiff in 2:41.25 having run the Hampton Palace half last Sunday.  He moves on to the London Landmarks next week where he will be joined by a few other AVRs.


At Saturday’s Seaton parkrun, in cool, sunny conditions,  Matt Frost was second finisher, also nabbing a personal best of 18:37.  On age-grade Eleanor Wood was, again, top in an incredible 91.01%.


Meanwhile at Teignmouth Promenade parkrun, Ellie Dominey was first female finisher in 21:27.


Last Sunday Angela and Martin Kerr completed the 20-mile version of the Granite Way as ideal training for their upcoming Brighton marathon.  It was a sunny but very windy day up on the Dartmoor cycle way.  Martin was first M70 in 4:13.12 with Angela first F65 in 3:18.22.


Diane Newton ran the Bideford Half Marathon recently, lining up with nearly 800 runners on what turned out to be a very cold and windy day.  The race starts with a loop around Bideford before taking an undulating route out to Greater Torrington; then it’s on to the Tarka Trail alongside the River Torridge and back home.  It’s a lovely, well-organised race with a great atmosphere and Diane was very pleased to finish in 2:37:29, and fourth F70.

Pic:  Laura Kerr with her prizes for third female at Bridport Half


Granite, Weymouth and AVR parkrun Triumphs

On a beautiful blue-sky day punctuated by march winds gusting up to well over 40mph, AVR’s Kevin Feeney and Katharine Moran took on the Granite Way 10 miler, an out and back course set against a stunning Dartmoor backdrop. Both were pleased to come in within their target 95 minutes, Kevin running his fastest ever 10 mile race, coming over the line in 1:31:16 and Katharine also sneaking in a PB at 1:34:48.

Two AVRs completed the Weymouth Half marathon where the sun was out, but the easterly wind made for occasional uncomfortable stretches on the exposed coastal course. Ron Seward finished 254th out of 800 with his time of 1:49:54 enabled Ron to finish 1st in the MV70 category. Despite the wind Diane Burn produced a PB of 2 hours 10 mins.

First 3 women finishers at Seaton parkrun this week were AVRs! Eleanor Wood, Kerry Board and Lisa Gregory. Top age grades for both men and women were AVRs Eleanor Wood 91% and Rob Collier 81%.

AVRs Smash it at Seaton parkrun 12th March

Members of Axe Valley Runners really gave a master class in 5k running at the weekend.

1st SM30-34 Joel Seward in 17:42

1st VM 65-69 Neil Johnson in 23:42

1st VM 70-74 Ron Seward in 23:39

1st VW 45-49 Kerry Board in 22:52

1st VW 60-64 Carol Austin in 25:46

1st VW 65-69 Eleanor Wood in 22:41 and also 1st overall on age grade in an incredible 90.74%

PBs for Maxine Sweetman 29:05 and Rachel Hiscox 29:58

Plus local resident JW15-17 Innes Fitzgerald broke the women’s course record again in a superb 17:25 (2nd on age grade 89% so watch out Eleanor!)

Joel and Luke Take the 10k Top Spots!

Joel Seward and Luke Reed took part in the Exeter City 10km race which is hosted by MCC Promotions running along the pancake flat quay. Conditions were tough going out towards Countess Wear with a moderate headwind however this was quickly forgotten about with the tailwind to finish. Joel was first finisher in 35:33 and Luke was 10 seconds back finishing 2nd overall and a new PB of 35:42.

Five AVR’s headed to Wokingham for a half marathon in what was billed as one of the quickest courses in the country, although the incline into a headwind just after mile 10 slowed most runners down! Starting in Wokingham the course heads mainly out in the traffic free country roads before heading back to the town. First AVR back was Duncan Staddon in a very impressive PB of 1:14:47. Next was Terry Emmett in 1:18:25 followed by Rob Collier in a PB of 1:20:42. Cliff Marriott finished in 1:55:20, although he should have been quicker had it not been for all the autograph signing following his Page 3 appearance in Runners World. Angela Kerr was happy to get under the 2 hour mark completing in 1:59:43.