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Volcanoes and PBs

Whilst many of us found ourselves running and racing under heavy clouds at the weekend, Lara Thomson was looking at them from above in the Canary Islands as she took part in the Transvulcania Ultra on Saturday. Sadly, Lara was timed out during this incredibly tough event and, although she wouldn’t be drawn into telling us too much detail, her stunning photographs of the volcanic landscape and her words “this race is a beast!” probably tell us everything. So impressive Lara.





Also on Saturday, Martin Croucher clocked up marathon number 118 when he completed the Beachy Head Marathon. This is one of the biggest off-road marathons in the UK and its scenic, challenging route takes runners through the South Downs National Park countryside with some significant climbing and some great coastal views along the way.


Martin enjoyed the day and was kind to himself by running and walking as the ankle he twisted some weeks ago is still not quite 100%.


22nd October, Beachy Head Marathon, 26.2 miles, trail

1 Tom Evans (Lewes AC) 2:48:29 chip time

605 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 5:52:12

1198 finished



Anyone who was up early to race on Sunday morning was faced with torrential rain and very dark skies.


At the 40th running of the Stroud Half, the penultimate race in the club road race championship for this year, seven hardy Cirencester runners tried to find a bit of shelter before the off. Fortunately, the rain eased before the 9am start and the weather improved greatly as the morning went on. There was a slight change to route with a little less industrial estate, it was replaced by an equally uninspiring new build housing estate. There were mixed fortunes.


First home for Cirencester was Aaron Willis. Whilst he didn’t quite hit the time he was aiming for, his tremendous 1.18.57 finish earned him overall 18th place. He shaved a further two minutes off the PB he set recently at Chippenham and is looking ahead to Spring and a fast, flat half somewhere. A performance to be very proud of.


Next to finish was Brecht Grieten. Brecht was recovering from illness but felt he was well enough to run. At halfway he still felt fairly confident of achieving his goal time although that started to slip away soon afterwards and then his watch started playing games and messing with his mind a little too. The course had more uphill than Brecht was expecting and, under the circumstances, he was really pleased with his excellent 1.28 finish and no walk breaks.


Keith Firkin ran a cracking 1.37.45 and took 3rd in the MV 60-69 category.


Rachel Ranger almost didn’t start. Most of us have had one of those races where things go a bit wrong before the start and are enough to throw us mentally off course. After leaving her drink and energy gel in the car and forgetting her timing chip, she nearly called it a day but knew she would be disappointed in herself if she didn’t try. She must be so glad she didn’t give up. In the end she reports feeling surprisingly strong to mile 10 when a fellow runner encouraged her to keep going to the finish. Rachel ran a gun time of 1.52.40 and was an impressive 5th of 41 FV50-59 finishers. And she still had the energy to cheer home club colleagues in very enthusiastic style!


Rachel Barrow and Rupert Chesmore set off together with a plan to follow the 2 hour pacer. The not very disciplined duo soon drifted ahead of him though. Rachel felt surprisingly ok to the 8/9 mile mark but then the lack of effort in training really showed and it became a struggle. Rupert reappeared on her shoulder at about 10 miles and they were soon overtaken by the aforementioned pacer. Lots of walk breaks meant that 2 hour finish slipped away. Both took something away from the experience. Rachel, that you actually need to train properly to run a half marathon well and Rupert, that he probably doesn’t love road running!


Liza Darroch, just three weeks after her Masters marathon at Chester, said she felt the tank emptying at about 9 miles with all that mileage in her legs. She looked strong at the finish though and was 2nd in her FV70+ age group.


Standings in the championship will be updated shortly. The final race in the series is the Guy Fawkes 5.


23rd October, Stroud Half Marathon, 13.1 miles, road

1 Lee Stopford (Stroud and District AC) 1:11:23 (chip time)

18 Aaron Willis (Cirencester AC) 1:18:57

65 Brecht Grieten 1:28:56

142 Keith Firkin 1:37:45 - 3rd MV60-69

304 Rachel Ranger 1:52:40 (gun time) 5th FV50-59

447 Rachel Barrow 2:01:14

464 Rupert Chesmore 2:03:03

611 Liza Darroch 2:20:50 - 2nd FV70+

724 finished



Also celebrating a 40th anniversary this year was the Abingdon Marathon. The popular race begins and ends on the local athletics track giving participants a grandstand finish experience. The route takes in the town centre and two loops around local villages. It is described as fast and flat and has a strict 5 hour cut off.


It proved to be a great course for Stuart Fitzgerald who ran an excellent new PB of 2:55:56.


23rd October, Abingdon Marathon, 26.2 miles , road

1 Henry Hart (Belgrave Harriers) 2:33:49

72 Stuart Fitzgerald (Cirencester AC) 2:55:56

703 finished



Last weekend Clare Tapley completed the Great South Run and tells us a bit about her journey to the start line and the day itself.


“Sometime at the beginning of the year my eldest daughter Emily decided that it would be a good idea to for us all to do something together as a family, so we all signed up for the Great South Run. As this event takes place in October we would have plenty of time for training and to make plans .... Or so we thought.”


“Sadly, things did not go quite to plan ............ Colin did not sign up: he does not like these 'big events' and worse, it clashed with the time of year when we normally go on holiday. Despite the fact that we are heading off for our annual 'summer' holiday to Scotland next week I have still not quite been forgiven for this! He did, however, stay at home to look after the dog, and supported us all on the Great South Run App offering suitable amounts of encouragement and praise as he tracked us around the route, and for that we were all truly thankful. The dog would have been a nightmare.”


“I then hurt my leg. What the exact problem was I have absolutely no idea but it limited my ability to walk normally let alone run, and just as this started to get better and I officially started my training plan I got COVID. Okay so I wasn't that ill but I was totally exhausted - for weeks.”


“The girls and their partners did not get on much better: working hours, moving houses, various non Covid illnesses, injuries and their grandparents diamond wedding celebrations all had an impact. So, as the morning of race day arrived, we were all somewhat nervous as to what lay ahead.”


“Despite the weather forecast we could not have wanted better running conditions. It was dry, warm but not too hot, and the breeze along the sea front for the last two miles was cooling and gentle - so no battling along in gale force wind.”


“In the end I adopted a 'strategy' that I had tried during my one and only long run ........ walk the first mile, then run 100/walk 20 for the rest of the way. Emily's boyfriend David announced at the start that he was going to run with me so that I could pace him. This was a shock but he was happy to go with my plan and despite a couple of 'you must surely be up to 100 now' we managed to get round in 1.55.19 . Not great I know, but given the failures in the training I was happy to be under 2 hours - and David was too.”


“My youngest daughter Charlotte came in at quite literally just over 2 hours - 2:00:46, with her sibling, who had actually managed to run the entire distance with no walking albeit slowly and despite absolutely no training, 5 minutes behind her in 2:05:56.”


“That only leaves Matt ... the other member of our squad: he came in 772nd position in 1.11.33. Awesome, and it was so good to see him cheering us all on as we crossed the line having already been there for 45 minutes.”


“So, have we all agreed to do it all again next year? No. I for one will definitely be on holiday, and as for the others, well let's wait and see what happens when we all get together at Christmas.”


Well done Clare, and definitely best to not make rash decisions after a Christmas sherry or two.


16th October, Great South Run, 10 miles, road

1 Ben Connor (Derby) 47.19

10214 Claire Tapley (Cirencester AC) 1.55.19



There was the usual great parkrunning this weekend with club members up and down the land, including the Tapley clan in action again. This time Colin coaxed Clare to Abingdon to meet up and run with some of his work colleagues. Clare recommends the course and the short stroll to town for post parkrun coffee and cake.


At Cirencester Wendy Nicholls and Corinne Clark were first and second female finishers not far behind Ian Barrett in 9th overall. Nea Sneddon-Jenkins and Holly Willis both ran strongly in very large events.


22nd October, parkrun, 5k, trail


Cardiff parkrun

1 Luke Williams (Unattached) 16.28

61 Nea Sneddon-Jenkins (Cirencester AC) 20.36

588 finished


Gloucester North parkrun

1 Luke Hine (Unattached) 18.59

75 Ruth Fulford (Cirencester AC) 31.57

116 finished


Poole parkrun

1 Oliver Walker (Unattached) 16.08

58 Holly Willis (Cirencester AC) 20.08

673 finished


Abingdon parkrun

1 Aled Lees (Unattached) 17.28

67 Colin Tapley (Cirencester AC) 23.41

236 Clare Tapley 33.26

331 finished


Stonehouse parkrun

1 Freddy Ward (Unattached) 19.26

8 Kate Sackett (Cirencester AC) 23.26 – 2nd female

52 finished


Jersey parkrun

1 Joshua Brien (Unattached) 16.35

160 Samantha Timms (Cirencester AC) 29.02

276 finished


Cirencester parkrun

1 Felix Wernham (Unattached) 17.22

9 Ian Barrett (Cirencester AC) 19.33

14 Wendy Nicholls 20.52 – 1st lady

22 Corinne Clark 22.20 – 2nd lady

56 Gordon Jones 25.44

92 Pamela Wheeler 30.33

124 Rachel Jones 33.34

158 finished


Teignmouth Promenade parkrun

1 Sean Lovett (Unattached) 17.17

45 Gary Wood (Cirencester AC) 23.51

200 finished


The Pastures parkrun

1 Alex McVey (Unattached) 18.09

21 Alan McAdam (Cirencester AC) 26.14

27 Rachel McAdam 27.06 58 finished


Tetbury Goods Shed parkrun

1 William Paulson (Unattached) 14.59

57 Brendan McCarthy (Cirencester AC) 27.50

124 finished


Do send words and pictures for the report to Rachel at rachelelisabethbarrow@hotmail.co.uk




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