Kevin's Column

Contact Kevin -

Follow Kevin's Podcast

100% Sports Clinic



Olympian Chris Maddocks Interview | Listen via Endurance Talk website

Another Great run by local hero Merson - 19/10/14 


LOCAL favourite Tom Merson successfully retained his Great West Run title in Exeter this morning.

The Exmouth-based runner set a new course record of 69mins 18secs – it is only the second year of the new-look course in the 30 years of the event’s history  - to finish 69 seconds clear of Exeter University student Anders Grahl.

Third place went to Bideford’s Shaun Antell in 70:40 with Jack Waldron fourth (73:23) and former champion Kairn Stone fifth (74:23).

“The course proved to be really fast for the first three to four miles, which helped with the pacing,” said Merson.

“It was very scenic, and took in everything that Exeter has to offer. It was extremely well supported across the whole route, but particularly at the start and finish line which was moved to the high street last year, and made a huge difference.”

Merson’s time clipped 44 seconds off the mark he set when winning last year but was well short of the personal best of 66:46 he set in Cardiff last month.

Newquay newcomer Julia scorches to PB in Exeter - 19/10/14 

WITH reigning champion Lucy MacAlister forced to withdraw due to an Achilles tendon injury the way was left clear for Crawley AC’s Hannah Brooks to claim an emphatic victory in 81:45.

But the best performance in the women’s race came from Newquay Road Runners’ newcomer Julia Davis.

In only her first full season the 28-year-old smashed her personal best by almost four minutes with an impressive 83:42 to finish second with Plymouth Harriers’ Jane Allison a distant third and first veteran in 90:34.

Exmouth’s Hannah Bown was fifth in 91:49.

Organisers' joy at big turn-out - 19/10/14 

THE organisers of the Great West Run were delighted with the outcome of today’s event.

A total of 2,697 runners completed the 13.1 mile race, which was taken over by Bath-based GO2 last year – a decent increase on the 2,164 who crossed the line in 2013.

Jamie Warren, Head of Marketing and Commercial at GO2, said: “Congratulations to each runner that participated in today’s race, and thank you to every spectator that took the time to come out and cheer our runners on. You made a huge difference to their race!

“We have seen an encouraging increase in race participants, which shows real promise for the future of the event. We also need to make a special mention to all of our 150 volunteers who helped make the event a success.

“The race had an amazing  atmosphere, and we can’t wait to return again next year!”

In addition to the main race, over 700 school children ran a mile as part of the Schools' Challenge, helping to raise funds for Children’s Hospice South West. Cancer Research UK and Devon Air Ambulance Trust, were the Official Charity Partners for this year’s Great West Run.

Pearce break three hours to win Dartmoor Vale marathon - 19/10/14

In his third marathon of the year Crewkerne veteran Mike Pearce raced to an impressive victory in the Sibelco Dartmoor Vale Marathon today.

The 45-year-old clocked a very respectable time of 2hrs 50mins 28secs over the challenging course, the only man to break three hours.

Earlier this year Pearce clocked 2:43.09 in the London Marathon and then barely a month later finished fourth in the North Dorset Village Marathon.

Fellow veterans Robert Burn (3:02.26) and Seamus Tucker (3:07.16) completed the top three.

Top woman was Diane Roy of East Cornwall Harriers, who clocked 3:24.10 in 12th overall with South Devon AC’s Rachel Langdon second (3:28.27) on her marathon debut and Debbie Burman third (3:41.14).

There were 105 finishers.



Merson hoping to defend his Great West title - 17/10/14

REIGNING champion Tom Merson, who went second on the South West Rankings with his PB in Cardiff recently, is hoping to shake off a niggle to defend his Great West Run half marathon title in Exeter on Sunday.

Merson who lives in nearby Exmouth and works in Exeter, regards this as his home event so it will be a surprise if he is not on the start line.

Merson clocked 70:02 to win the event last year when it was held over a new course. He is clearly in shape to go sub 70 this year – the course isn’t particularly fast – having recorded 66:46 in Cardiff.

Lucy MacAlister won the women’s race last year but will make a late decision on whether to run having aggravated an Achilles tendon problem at the Cardiff half marathon where she finished eighth in a season’s best of 75:37.

Stone continues comeback in Exeter - 17/10/14 

KAIRN Stone tells me that he will also be on the start line on Sunday but doesn’t expect t challenge Merson.

Stone made a welcome return to action after lengthy injury when he won the Plymouth Armada half marathon two weeks ago in a time of 71:48.

For his first race in over six months that was decent and shows Stone is not un-fit but he knows Merson well so won’t be rash enough to take him on – quite yet!

Where to watch the Great West Run - 17/10/14

THE organisers of Exeter’s Great West Run have confirmed that the second running of the new-look event has attracted around 3,500 entrants.

The race starts and finishes on Sidwell Street with the race village located in Belmont Park, and takes runners on a picturesque running tour of Exeter, running around the city, through Stoke Woods and past the University.

The race starts at 9.00am and there will be space along Sidwell Street for a good view of the start of the race, and the finishing straight when the runners return. In a press release GO2 also point out that there are a number of spectator ‘cheer points’ along the route, namely:


* University of Exeter, Cowley Bridge Road and Prince of Wales Road (miles 7 and 8)

* Blackboy Road and Pinhoe Road (miles 10 and 12)


Frost eyes glory in Dartmoor Vale marathon - 17/10/14 

WITH his confidence high after smashing his personal best with a time of 72mins 19secs to finish top Team Bath AC runner in the 26th Bristol half marathon George Frost tackles the Dartmoor Vale marathon on Sunday.

The Bath University post-graduate student, who lives in Odd Down, carved over a minute off his previous best in Bristol but will find it tough to challenge his marathon PB of 2:3941 which he set in Manchester in April this year.

“I fancied a lower-key, smaller race before hopefully doing London next year,” said Frost.

Reluctant cross country runner Eleanor shows her class - 17/10/14 


IN her first cross country race since leaving school Eleanor Davis showed just what a talented runner she is by winning the opening Brooks Westward League fixture.

The self-confessed road running fan admitted that coach John Scott had ‘coerced’ her into getting her cross country spikes out again for the race in Central Park, Plymouth but if the 25-year-old from Truro harboured any misgivings then they must have surely been dispelled by the emphatic nature of her victory.

“That was my first cross country race since I was at Penair School and I did not know what to expect as it is a different crowd of runners,” said Davis, who is a member of Newquay Road Runners.

“It is not something I am used to and I did it for strength rather than enjoyment. I am not a huge fan of cross country but John Scott, whom I am running with a bit, coerced me into doing it.

“It was hard as there were two strong Exeter University girls there as well but I was pleased to win it.”

Davis, who is working as a trainee doctor at the Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske), has so far forged her reputation from her exploits on the road with a recent victory and big personal best in the Truro half marathon coming on top of a PB in the London Marathon when she broke three hours for the first time.

She has a half marathon in Slovenia on her schedule – combined with a holiday – plus other road races planned leading up to the 2015 London Marathon next spring. But in the meantime she admits there may yet be more excursions on the mud.

“I will try and run the rest of the Westward League races although I am working nights for the next one in Newquay (November 9th) so I will have to see how I feel when I wake up,” added Davis.

“But it would be good to run a few more cross country races.”  And I think she may have meant it!

Fancy a quick 5k road race in Bristol? - 17/10/14

THE second of the Winter Series of Aztec West Fast 5K races - there were numerous PBs in the first last month - takes place on Tuesday 28th October. Registration takes place from 6.30pm in the Goodman Buildings, Aztec West Centre, BS32 4TD with the action underway at 7.30pm. The prize giving is scheduled for 8.40pm.

“A reminder that there are a good number of spot prizes for those who have not already picked up a prize on the night, so it could be worth you staying to the prize giving” said a spokesman for the event.

Refreshments and light meals are available at the Gourmet cafe. For further details see the club website at:


England Athletics chief makes flying visit to Exeter - 16/10/14


ENGLAND Athletics CEO Chris Jones dropped in at the new-look Exeter Arena recently to take a closer look at the work being done by the Harriers.

The success of long-time club member Jo Pavey this summer ensured that the Harriers got plenty of mentions in national TV, radio and written media so Jonees decided to make the trip to Devon to see what makes the club tick.

“Before training commenced, George Eccles, the club President and head throws coach, walked Chris around the newly laid track,” said club chairwoman Irene Brown.

“This is a marvelous new facility with improvements beyond the track, with a new pole vault area, increased facilities for disabled throws and a permanent photo finish facility alongside.”

Following his visit, Chris Jones commented: “It is important to see a range of clubs in action on a ‘normal’ club night and to be able to talk to the members and volunteers of those clubs in a more informal environment.”


* For the fully story click on the following link:


Cornwall men off to a flying start in team title defence - 14/10/14

 CORNWALL AC made a strong opening to the defence of their senior men’s team title in the Brooks Westward Cross Country League.

The CAC men scored 1,453 points to finish 86 points clear of Tavistock AC (1,367) with Exmouth Harriers third (1,357). Former champions Exeter Harriers came fourth 117 point drift of the reigning champions.

Dan Rodgers led the charge in second with Ash Chambers fifth and then Colin Snook (14th), Jonny Dry (16th) and that veteran campaigner and county warrior Dave Buzza (18th) completing the scoring as the five all packed in the top twenty.

Scott is top vet in Plymouth  14/10/14

INTERESTING to note that 48-year-old John Scottt of Newquay Road Runners was top veteran in Plymouth.

Scott finished an excellent sixth overall to beat his M40 rivals Kevin Toher (N&P) and Pete Waumsley (Tamar Trotters).

Cornwall AC’s Dave Buzza was first veteran over 50 and Tavistock’ss Richard Drave top M55.

Sign up for Bristol cross country races - 14/10/14

THE British Cross Challenge may have dropped Bristol from its programme following the withdrawal of sponsorship from McCain but the traditional autumn meeting will still go ahead.

Bristol & West AC will state the meeting, incorporating the Mike Sully Trophy, which was first held in 1960 so is one of the oldest cups in the west country and Gemma Butler Bowl on Saturday October 25th.

Club development officer Keith Brackstone has been working hard to promote the races, which caters for all age groups and is optimistic that there will be a decent turn-out at Ashton Court.

“There may not be the same elite field as we saw for the British Challenge when McCain sponsored the event but I still believe we will attract some good runners as it is a good event held on an excellent cross country course,” said Brackstone.

“Luckily we are still getting the support of Bristol City Council so can continue with the event.”

But Brackstone and the club will scrutinise the level of entries very carefully before deciding whether the new format is viable.

The meeting will start at 11am with the under 11 races and culminate with the senior women at 2.10pm and the senior men at 2.40pm.

For entry details see the club website at: The full race schedule is as follows:

Under-11 boys - 11.00 a.m.

Under-11 girls  -  11.10 a.m.

Under-13 boys  -  11.20 a.m.

Under-13 girls  -  11.40 a.m.

Under-15 boys - 12 noon

Under-15 girls  -  12.20 p.m.

Under-17 men  -  12.40 p.m.

Under-17 and under-20 Ladies - 1.10 p.m.

Under-20 men  -  1 .40 p.m.

Senior and Veteran Ladies - 2.10 p.m.

Senior and Veteran Men - 2.40 p.m.

Invite to join free west marathon workshop - 14/10/14

SOUTH West Area Coach Mentor Mark Brace  and Ben Cox , MSc, will be staging a Performance Marathon  Workshop at North Devon Athletics Club on Sunday November 2nd (10am-2.30pm).

“The workshop, which is free, is aimed at both marathon coaches and runners who have an eye on performance with the ideal outcome of creating a South West performance driven marathon network,” said Brace.

“This will be a totally practical and interactive introduction day.”

Brace said the programme will run as follows:

10am: Welcome

10.15:  Run session 1 ( bench mark)
11.00 Physical Prep : Core or Trunk theory and practical
12.00: Training Zones: What When Why : applications
12.45: Lunch Network & programme sharing. Please bring your own lunch and sample programmes.
13.45: Run Session 2 (interval)
14.30: Network and depart.

For any queries contact Brace on 07540 703511.


Wells ace Clare retains her Muddle title - 14/1014 

CLARE Prosser of Wells City Harriers retained her Mendip Muddle title and her time of 1hr 30mins 22secs as quicker than last year for the 20k course. In the men’s race Bristol & West’s Neil Williams finished third.

1st - Matthew Battersby (36) - Unattached - 1h 26m 39s
2nd - Tom Sutherland (167) - Unattached- 1h 27m 16s
3rd - Neil Williams (99) - Bristol & West AC- 1h 28m 02s

1st - Clare Prosser (17) - Wells City Harriers - 1h 30m 22s
2nd - Lucy Richens (265) - Westbury Harriers - 1h 36m 43s
3rd - Lynette Porter (153) - Bitton Road Runners - 1h 37m 21s

There were 246 finishers.


Merson edges out Rodgers in league thriller - 12/10/14

TOM Merson followed up his excellent personal best in the Cardiff half marathon with victory in the opening race of the Brooks Westward Cross Country League, Central Park, Plymouth.

But the Exmouth Harrier didn’t have the race all his own way as Cornwall AC’s Dan Rodgers, who won the Newquay 10k in a PB of 32:10 the previous weekend, pushed him the whole way.

“The pair seemed to swap the lead a few times and Tom only won by six seconds at the end,” said meeting organiser Keith Reed.

Third was Exeter University student Anders Grahl, who hails from Sweden.

Truro half marathon champion Eleanor Davis was making her debut in the league and the 25-year-old member of Newquay Road Runners showed she will be a force to watch in the west this winter with an encouraging victory.

But the biggest result of that race was in the number of women who took part with 170 crossing the line.

“Thar is a record for the league and for the first time I can recall we had more women than men finishing which is just great to see,” added Reed.


Men: 1 Tom Merson (Exm); 2 Dan Rodgers (CAC); 3 Anders Grahl (Exeter Uni)

Women: 1 Eleanor Davis (NRR); 2 Steph McCall (Exeter Uni); 3 Vicky Budd (Ex Uni).

Further to results to follow shortly.


Last chance to enter Plymouth 10k - 9/10/14


THERE are now just five days remaining to enter the Plymouth 10k road race.

Midnight on Monday October 13th is the final deadline to register for the race which is scheduled for Sunday November 2nd .

“Places are racing out of the door, so don’t miss out!” said Jamie Warren, Head of Marketing and Commercial at event organisers GO2.

“Runners can look forward to pounding the pavements of the largest 10K road race in Devon and Cornwall, on a fast, relatively flat, traffic-free route through the city centre.”

For further details of the race, which is sponsored by Mansbridge Balment, log onto the event website at:

The 10K course will start on Princess Street at 08.30am, taking runners along Royal Parade, into Exeter Street and along Embankment Road, where they will then loop back on themselves for the return route finishing back at Princess Street.

Official charity partners for the race are Cancer Research UK and Children’s Hospice South West.

New Westward League season set for lift-off - 9/10/14 


THE 2014/15 Brooks Westward Cross Country League season gets underway on Sunday (October 12th)

Plymouth hosts the first of the six fixtures with the action taking place in Central Park and the first race – the under 11 boys/girls - starting at 12.15pm. Senior women are up next at 12.30pm with the senior men at 1.50pm.

The other fixtures will be held on November 9th (Newquay), December 7th (Exeter), January 11th 2015 (Bideford), February 8th (Bovey Tracey) and finally March 1st (Redruth).

Emma goes sixth on South West All-Time Rankings - 7/10/14 

NO apologies for embellishing even further Emma Stepto’s performance in the Cardiff half marathon in which she was crowned British champion.

According to my research Stepto’s time of 72mins 28secs puts her sixth on the South West All-Time Rankings which is headed by our own Olympic legend Jo Pavey.

Pavey ran 68:53 in the Great North Run six years ago, one of just three west women to have broken that prestigious 70 minutes mark.

The top six are as follows:

68:53 Jo Pavey Great North Run 2008

69:39 Andrea Wallace Bath 1993

69:41 Marian Sutton Great North 1997

71:44 Jill Harrison Fleet 1987

72:02 Claire Hallissey Bristol 2010

72:26 Emma Stepto Cardiff 2014


Longthorpe smashes PB in Chester marathon - 7/10/14

WORD just reaches me that Simon Longthorpe smashed his personal best in the MBNA Chester Marathon on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Torbay AC runner clocked 2hrs 35mins 46secs to finish 10th overall and slash over six minutes from his previous best of 2:42.08 set in London last year.

The time puts Longthorpe sixth on the Sout