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County Points Earned and a Masters Qualification

The County Road Race Championship for this year kicked off on Sunday with the ever popular Linda Franks 5 mile race hosted by Almost Athletes.

First home for Cirencester, and 3rd MV60, was Brian Harris who is in the early weeks of his London marathon training.

He says “I didn’t want to over do it at this stage of the season, being only just up to normal marathon training levels, so was quite happy sustaining sub 7:00 minute mile pace. My first time on this course, it was well marshalled and less slippery than feared given the sub-zero temperature. Excellent cake afterwards too, so a good start to the season.”

Next came Jo Musk, juggling training for her first marathon with going back to work after maternity leave. This was her first road race since February 2018. Jo hit her sub 35 minute target despite congestion at the start of the race getting her of to a slower start than planned.

Just a couple of minutes behind were Karen Higuera and Kate Sackett both placing first in their respective age groups.

Karen commented that the marshals were excellent at making runners aware of the dangerous patches of black ice on the course. She revived herself afterwards with the great selection of food, the homemade onion bhajis being of particular note.

A very successful morning for Cirencester.

22nd January, Linda Franks 5, 5 miles, road

1 James Denne (Western Tempo) 25.42 (25.41)

72 Brian Harris (Cirencester AC) 34.32 (34.27) – 3rd MV60

78 Joanna Musk 34.52 (34.46)

110 Karen Higuera 37.14 (37.06) – 1st LV55

127 Kate Sackett 38.17 (38.08) – 1st LV60

258 finished

Meanwhile, in perishing cold conditions at the Farnborough Half, Dave Musgrove and Liza Darroch had equally pleasing results.

Dave reports that the temperature was -7 degrees at the start and probably not above freezing by the end, prompting him to set off a little too quickly in an effort to get warm. He tired a little towards the end but finished in a superb 73rd position and just a few seconds off his PB. The good crowd created a nice atmosphere.

For Liza, this race had lots riding on it. She sums up her very successful morning like this,

“This goes down in history as the coldest race I have ever done! As a 70+ veteran aiming to qualify for the Masters National Championships I already had the time (2 hours 30), but also needed to finish Farnborough in the first three in my age group.”

“So, sticking to my plan, I started steady, enjoying the frosty, monochrome morning. Hangars loomed as we threaded our way around the famous airfield. The sun finally won through the haze and everything brightened up as we ran on through the woods close to Aldershot. Strange though how, after a three year Covid enforced gap, the hills were longer and there were DEFINITELY more of them than the last time I ran this route.”

“But, weeks before I tip into the next age group, it was great to feel strong and to find I could hold the pace until the end. The result? I was well and truly beaten into second place but should have qualified for the National Championships at Chester in April and, much more importantly, really enjoyed my run. Those who have had to hear about my health ups and downs will understand just how good that felt.”

***WARNING*** Those of you of a nervous disposition, or about to eat your dinner, do not read the following little add on from Liza.

If you ever thought you’d had a bad race day Portaloo experience, imagine the horror of Farnborough. 1700 runners and conditions so cold that the water and levers in the loos were frozen solid making flushing impossible………. Don’t dwell on it too much……..

Tremendous running both and good luck to Liza at Chester.

22nd January, Farnborough Half, 13.1 miles, road

1 Robbie Simpson (Unattached) 1.05.23 (1.05.23)

73 David Musgrove (Cirencester AC) 1.19.06 (1.19.01)

1541 Liza Darroch 2.26.05 (2.23.21) – 2nd LV70

1697 finished

As if the freezing conditions at the weekend weren’t enough to contend with, trail specialists Aaron Willis and Andy Hindson decided to add some serious hills into the mix.

They both completed the tough Slaughterford 9 race in fine style. Aaron finished in 7th place overall and was 1st MV40 in a time just 10 seconds different to last year.

Andy finished in just inside 1:19 and declared that he thinks he prefers actual mud to frozen mud!

22nd January, Slaughterford 9, 9 miles, trail

1 Aiden Daniel (Team Bath Athletics Club) 54.21 (54.20

7 Aaron Willis (Cirencester AC) 1.00.05 (1.00.04) – 1st MV40

128 Andy Hindson 1.19.09 (1.18.55)

355 finished

Martin Croucher has collected marathon medal number 120 after completing another of his favourite Kent based challenges - how many 5.25 mile laps can you complete within a 6 hour time limit?

In Martins case this time, five of them. Enough to complete the marathon distance yet again in 4:43.

20th January, Saxons Challenge, 6 hours, trail

1 Elaine Dean (Unattached) 5.30.56 – 27.2 miles

21 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.43.24 – 26.2 miles

54 finished

James Widdowson, Tanya Everett and Jos Randall kept things local at Chalford where the Chalford Cold Turkey Fun Run offered 5k and 10k options. The event raised funds for the village primary school.

James gave it his all as he tested himself over 5k distance, alone in his choice of vest and shorts despite the conditions. He was thrilled to bits to cross the line first, confirming that he is back on top form after working back to fitness after injury.

Tanya and Jos both ran well over the 10k distance on the hilly course.

22nd January, Chalford Cold Turkey Fun Run, 10km, road

1 Iain Porter (Unattached) 41.03

30 Tanya Everett (Cirencester AC) 1.00.05

31 Jocelyn Randall 1.00.05

44 finished

22nd January, Chalford Cold Turkey Fun Run, 5km, road

1 James Widdowson (Cirencester AC) 23.27

16 finished

There was an impressive array of parkrun results this week as ever.

Of note, Ollie Campbell ran a new PB for the Coventry course where he was 1st in a field of almost 600. His age grading was almost 80%.

Wendy Nicholls was 1st lady at Tetbury where she was 2nd overall with a new PB there, an age grading of 88% and just 7 seconds behind the winner!

At Cirencester, Brecht Grieten placed 1st with Ian Barrett just 4 seconds behind.

Holly Willis was 2nd lady at Exmouth.

Rachel McAdam enjoyed the beautiful one lap trail at the Killerton course in Devon.

21st January, parkrun, 5k trail

Coventry parkrun

1 Ollie Campbell (Cirencester AC) 16.20

592 finished

Killerton parkrun

1 Matthew Hirschler (Unattached) 19.01

70 Rachel McAdam (Cirencester AC) 28.03

122 finished

Exmouth parkrun

1 Jonathan Pickup (Unattached) 17.09

34 Holly Willis (Cirencester AC) 21.01 – 2nd Female

Cirencester parkrun

1 Brecht Grieten (Cirencester AC) 19.10

2 Ian Barrett 19.14

40 Rachel Ranger 25.09

61 Jocelyn Randall 27.11

126 finished

Tetbury Goods Shed parkrun

1 Oliver Cox (Unattached) 19.40

2 Wendy Nicholls (Cirencester AC) 19.47 – 1st Female

19 Paul Timms 23.00

45 Alan McAdam 25.32

64 Brendan McCarthy 27.10

136 finished

Seven Fields parkrun

1 Mark Purbrick (Unattached) 18.54

5 David Moss (Cirencester AC) 20.56

143 finished

And a lovely story from Nea Sneddon-Jenkins to round off a busy report. Nea and her boyfriend ran a trail called the Penrhys Pilgrimage and, in doing so, have set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the route.

She tells us more here. “The Penrhys Pilgrimage is an old pilgrimage route starting at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff and finishing at the top of a massive hill 20 miles away in Penrhys. We set out steady, it was actually just a training run for our longer races coming up, but as we ticked off the miles we realised we were on target to drop the previous mixed group FKT by over an hour and a half so we set our sights on 4 hours.”

“After running a couple of circles around the fields in the snow on the hills, we made it to the biggest hill I think I’ve ever run up (which I also managed to bag the all time Strava segment for too!) At the top of the golf course we started to pick up the pace and, with less than a mile to go, we were basically sprinting.”

All in all, it was a freezing cold but stunning day out and I think we’re both pretty excited to try some more FKTs. We received our verification today, which you have to submit GPS evidence, photos and a run report to get.”

Thank you Nea for that brilliant story of how you are adding a new dimension to your running challenges and well done to both of you.

As always, do let Rachel know about any news for the weekly report at

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