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Last chance to enter Bristol Cross Country meeeting - 24/10/14

KEITH Brackstone is still working hard to attract entries for the Bristol Cross Country meeting at Ashton Court on Saturday.

The withdrawal of McCain as headline sponsors has meant the event has had to be scaled back but it still remains the premier open cross country meeting in the west country and the Mike Sully Trophy  - now in its 53rd year – is one of the oldest surviving cups in the country.

Entries have been sluggish with a surprising lack of response in the senior age groups from local clubs like Bitton RR, Great Western Runners and Team Bath AC, so Brackstone has extended the deadline until Friday evening.

For further details call Brackstone (tel: 07999511366) or log onto the following link:

In-form Emma fired up for Frankfurt Marathon - 24/10/14


EMMA Stepto tackles her second marathon of the year on Sunday knowing that she is in the best shape of her life.

The 44-year-old Cornwall AC athlete will line up in the Frankfurt Marathon for her first ever race in Germany and the seventh marathon of her relatively short career that only started in earnest six years ago.

“I have really enjoyed the build-up and now it would be nice to cap it off with a good run on Sunday but we’ll see how it goes on the day – and cross fingers that the weather is kind!” said Stepto.

Stepto shouldn’t be lacking in confidence after winning her first British title last month in Cardiff, when she also smashed her personal best by over a minute with a time of 72mins 28secs, the second quickest in the UK All Time Rankings for women over 40.

Her current best stands at 2hrs 35mins 02secs which she ran on her last trip abroad to Amsterdam two years ago - almost to the day.

“I will certainly give it my best shot and we’ll see where that takes me but obviously I would love to run a personal best,” added Stepto. 

Jill is still winning England honours - 22/10/14

JILL Harrison has been selected to represent England – 36 years after making her international debut.

The remarkable 56-year-old athlete from Honiton will race for England in the British & Irish Masters Cross Country Championships in Nottingham at the end of next month.

For Harrison selection continues her impressive record of representing her country in almost every year of her long career and one of which she is understandably very proud.

“I am very old school so I like to get into the national team for an international event whereas many of the new runners aren’t so interested in that,” said Harrison.

“To get picked for the Masters International you have to send in your last few performances to the selectors and I nearly didn’t bother as I hadn’t broken 20 minutes for 5k and didn’t think I deserve a place in the England team.

“But then I ran 19mins 58secs for the Yeovilton 5k last month when I was also suffering from stitch so at the last minute I decided to apply and made the team.”

While Harrison would be embarrassed to be compared to Exeter Olympian Jo Pavey there is no doubt she is cut from the same cloth in terms of her dedication and love of the sport and her continuing success yet again illustrates that when it comes to long distance running age is no barrier to success.

She showed that last year when winning the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m in the W50 age category at the World Masters Championships in Brazil adding yet more medals to her bulging collection.

“Mind you I cannot train as hard as I used to and self-preservation is more of a factor these days and trying to stay fit and healthy,” added Harrison, who works on the reception at Honiton leisure Centre.

What has also changed beyond recognition since Harrison launched her career is the means by which selection is announced. She received an email confirming her place in the England team next month but when she made her international debut it was a much different world.

“I was a student at Birmingham University living in halls when I was first selected to run for England in 1978 and I remember receiving a telegram!” said Harrison.

“We had no phone where I lived and of course there were no mobiles or internet in those days. So the telegram was given to me saying I had been picked to run the 3000m for England against France and Germany in Strasbourg and my team-mates were Joyce Smith and Glenys Penny.

“So 36 years on I am delighted to be still making international teams and I am really looking forward to the event in Nottingham.” 


In-form Alison has a cracker in Dartmoor Vale 10k - 21/10/14


ALISON McEwing had a great run to finish third overall and top woman in the Dartmoor Vale 10k road race yesterday.

The 26-year-old Erme Valley Harrier completed the course in 38mins 31secs to make the podium behind Peter Monaghan (35:04) and Paul Gregg (37:48) to continue her good autumn form.

McEwing, who is coached by Paul Batten, won the Bridgwater half, was 23rd in the British Championships in Cardiff and at the start of last month was crowed Devon 10,000 champion clocking a PB of 37:57.62 on the Exeter Arena track.

Devon girls turn on the style - 21/10/14 

IT was a good day for Devon women in the Dartmoor Vale 10k yesterday.

In addition to Alison McEwing’s excellent run South Devon AC’s Naomi Flangan (6th),  the EVH pair of Alison Thorn (7th)and Cleo Andrews (8th) and Anne Luke of Tamar Trotters (10th) all made the top ten of the 178-strong field.

Frost pays a heavy price for fast start - 21/10/14

George Frost experienced the dark side of the marathon on Sunday when he was forced to drop out of the Dartmoor Vale event.

The Team Bath runner had built up a significant lead at the halfway point of the challenging two lap course which he reached in 76 minutes but he had over-cooked the early pace and paid a heavy price as he tackled the big hills for the second time.

“When I hit the hills for a second time my legs just went and I had to stop and walk,” said Frost. “That was at 18 miles but I then jogged and walked for the next three miles before throwing in the towel and getting a lift with the lead car before it disappeared with the second guy who was close to over-taking me.

“It was a learning experience for me and hopefully I will come back stronger for another marathon in the spring.”

Frost set his marathon PB of 2:39.41 in Manchester in April this year but the Dartmoor Vale event proved you can never take the distance for granted.

Richmond smashes PB in Amsterdam marathon - 21/10/14

AARON Richmond of Bideford AC smashed his personal best in the TCS Amsterdam Marathon in Holland yesterday.

Richmond produced arguably the best run of his career to finish 37th overall and third Brit in a time of 2hs 33mins 31secs to carve 4mins 18secs off his previous best set in London earlier this year.

It now means Richmond has improved his marathon time by almost seven minutes in 2014 and his new best lift him to fifth in the South West Rankings.

Clubmate Ian Gooding was 77th in 2:41.11.

And Smart also sets new best in Abingdon - 21/10/14

Garry Smart of Teignbridge Trotters set a new personal best of 2:50.34 to finish 22nd in the Abingdon Marathon on Sunday.

The performance also earned Smart the bonus of finishing first prize in the over 50s age category.


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.