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 Merson comes clean over that Yeovilton 'personal best' - 24/4/14


RACE director Nick Brooke admitted he was ‘gob-smacked’ when learning of the news that Tom Merson’s personal best time of 30mins 28secs to win the Yeovilton Easter Bunny 10 road race was a minute slower than published.

That was picked up by Great Brittan Athletics for their website as it is the fastest recorded in the West Country this year as fellow Exeter-based runner Phil Wylie, who tops the rankings with 30:23, recorded his time in the Chichester 10k. It also put Merson into the top 30 in the UK.

But Merson quickly came clean to admit that he believes he ran a minute slower, based on his own watch and the gantry clock reading at the finish line.

I knew I wasn’t running that quick as I had raced on Friday (winning the Kilmington Kanter) and then worked all weekend so I was a bit tired. I just went there to jog around and I couldn’t run that quick, on that course, all on my own,” said Merson.

“I am in great shape but I would rather run a personal best honestly so please let people know that I didn’t run that quickly on Monday otherwise everyone will be calling me up!”

Le Grice targets place on the Plymouth half podium - 24/4/14


PETER Le Grice will be looking to force his way to the podium for the second running of the new-look Plymouth half marathon Sunday.

A year ago the Cornwall runner from Penzance finished a fine fourth in a then personal best time of 71:53 which he subsequently smashed with 70:53 over the far quicker Bristol course in the autumn.

“He is training well and looking forward to the race,” said coach John Knowles.

In 2013 Le Grice was third west runner behind overall winner Tadele Geremew (69:03), Tavistock’s Jim Cole (70:25) and local star Kairn Stone (71:07)  but with the latter pair showing little form this year there is every chance he can improve and make the top three.

Bristol & West open meeting entries open  24/4/14 

BRISTOL & West AC will be holding an open meeting at their Whitehall Athletics Arena on Tuesday (April 29th ). The first event on the track will be the 75metres for under 11 boys and girls at 6.30pm and the first field event the hammer also at 6.30 pm. For full details of the programme see the website at:

Now Waumsley takes on pace-making role - 24/4/14

FLYING postman Pete Waumsley is back in action on Sunday as he helps with the pace-making in the Plymouth half marathon.

“I am setting the pace for runners targeting one-and-a-half hours so that shouldn’t be too bad,” said Waumsley, who set a new word best time dressed as a postman in the London Marathon of 3hrs 47mins 35secs.

“I am also looking at tackling a half Ironman Relay in the Cotswolds with Zoe Drake and George Prewett which should be good.”

Purnell goes third on UK Rankings - 24/4/14 


WEST runner Tom Purnell soared to third in the 2014 UK Rankings with a superb personal best in the 5000m in California over the Easter weekend.

The 20-year-old Stroud & District AC runner, who is a student at the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, broke the 14 minutes barrier for the first time as he slashed 13 seconds off his best with a time of 13mins 59.42secs.

“I spoke to Tom after the race and he was delighted,” said father Terry Purnell, who lives in Woodchester.

“There were a lot of runners in the race, around 47, so the first 2k was quite slow as there were no pacemakers. It split up later on and Tom finished very strongly with a 60 seconds last lap to break 14 minutes.

“He was really chuffed with his run and felt like there was a lot more left in the tank.” 

Merson breaks PB in runaway 10k victory - 21/4/14

TOM Merson broke his personal best with a superb runaway victory in the Yeovilton Easter Bunny 10k road race today.


The 28-year-old Exmouth-based runner clipped six seconds off his personal best with a winning time of 30mins 28secs as he crushed his rivals by almost three minutes.

Merson’s time is the fastest recorded in the West Country this year as Phil Wylie, who tops the rankings with 30:32, recorded his time in the Chichester 10k.

Exeter Harriers’ Oliver Berry was a distant runner-up in 33:13 while top veteran in fifth overall was Bristol & West’s Exeter-based Stephen Goss (34:21). Just behind Goss and first veteran over 50 was Lloyd Collins of Wells City Harriers (34:24).

Top woman in 18th place overall (36:43) was Rosie Hiles of Guildford & Godalming with Taunton AC’s Rachel Langbein runner-up (38:03) and Frances Swartridge of Yeovil Town Road Runners third (39:15).


Monaghan is too fast for his rivals - 18/4/14 

PETER Monaghan of Torbay AC was the inaugural winner of the Fast Friday 10k in Exeter today.

Monaghan finished well clear off the 104-strong field – 200 entries were actually taken – in a time of 34mins 22secs which is his quickest of the year eclipsing 34:53 in the Plympton January Jaunt race in February and the Mad March event.

Ben Neale of Bere Alston Trekkers and SWRR veteran Mike Feighan took second (35:11) and third (35:15) respectively.

Leading woman in 10th overall (39:31) was veteran Alison Thorne of Erme Valley Harriers with Newton Abbots Martha Neal second (40:32) and Laura Swanton third (42:54).


That's a first class run by Waumsley - 18/4/14 

IN terms of wacky world records popular west country road runner Pete Waumsley delivered a first class performance in the Virgin London Marathon.

The Plymouth postman donned his work outfit and a bad weighing 10lb to complete the 26.2 miles in a time of 3hrs 47mins 35secs which is a new best according to the Guinness Book of World records.

On a hot sunny day in the capital 41-year-old Waumsley, who is a member of Tamar Trotters, descried his hybrid running as a “boil in the bag suit”.


Don't forget the classic Bampton to Tiverton - 18/4/14


ROAD races on Easter Monday include the Yeovilton Easter Bunny 10k ( and the Bampton to Tiverton 7 ( while off-road there is the Shapwick Bunny Hop in Somerset (

* Next Thursday is the penultimate race in the Weston Prom 5 miles winter series with entries on the night ( while entries are still being taken for the Pensford 10k ( the Highworth 5 ( and the Corsham St George’s 10k ( all on Sunday April 27th.


* Finally a reminder that Millfield School will again stage the popular British Milers’ Club PB Classic on Monday May 5th and entries are being taken on-line (


Now Cram joins elite coaching team  18/4/14 


BRITISH Athletics have announced that Steve Cram has joined the British Athletics Endurance Programme.

Under the guidance of Head of Endurance Barry Fudge, Cram will become a key advisor for guiding and mentoring athletes and coaches. The former 800m and 1500m specialist joins Paula Radcliffe, who also works for British Athletics on an advisory basis.

In December 2013, Fudge was appointed British Athletics’ Head of Endurance – the first of three key appointments for the Olympic Performance Programme. 

The Endurance Programme is geared towards podium success at Olympic and world level and enables British coaches the chance to up-skill and develop alongside some of the world’s best coaching set-ups such as Nike’s Oregon Project with Alberto Salazar.

“It’s an exciting time for the British Athletics Endurance Programme and it’s great to be part of it,” said Cram.

“Barry, Alberto, Paula and the team have been making good progress over the last six months and everything is on track for success as we head towards Rio 2016 and London 2017.”


Are west family marathon record-breakers? - 16/4/14

IT was a few years ago that Dave Stone of Exmouth Harriers entered the Guinness Book of Records for running the quickest marathon dressed as the comic book hero Superman  - but the West Country may have some new record-breakers from Sunday’s London race.


Father and daughter Martin and Eleanor Davis, who compete for Newquay Road Runners, have contacted the book authors after running what they reckon is a new world record for the quickest combined time for a parent and child.


Martin led the way with a time of  2hrs 55mins 16seccs, outside his personal best of 2:50.41 which he set six years ago, but still a terrific effort for the 55-year-old and good enough to place him fifth overall in his age group.


Eleanor wasn’t far behind as the 25-year-old smashed her personal best by almost 20 minutes with an excellent time of 2:58.21 to give them a total time of 5hrs 53mins 37secs - and a real chance of creating a little piece of family history.


 “We have applied to the Guinness Book of records and now we will have to wait and see what happens,” said Eleanor.


Rose boys bloom in the London sunshine - 16/4/14


SHOULD the organisers of the Virgin London Marathon ever give a prize to the fastest veterans father and son team then David and Stephen Rose of Team Bath AC would be outstanding contenders.


Firstly 42-year-old Stephen carved almost four minutes off his personal best with a time of 2hrs 42mins 06secs and not to be out-done 67-year-old dad David recorded an outstanding 3hrs 15mins 33secs which placed him third in the veterans over 65s age category.


Together that represents a huge achievement for the Rose boys and makes them a real winning team.


Chew Valley 10k sign up the Bath Bullet - 16/4/14 

ORGANISERS are delighted to announce that Bath-based Olympic gold medallist Jason Gardener MBE – known as ‘the Bath Bullet’ – will be attending this year’s Chew Valley 10k event on Sunday 22 June.


“I am very excited to be invited to be part of the Chew Valley 10k and 1k event and to see how sport can positively change lives - whether that be as a runner or the charities that benefit from funds raised,” said Gardener.


“Set in the beautiful Somerset open countryside and a stone’s throw away from my home, I am sure this year’s event will be a great success and I look forward to cheering on everyone taking part."


After joining the BBC's Doctor Phil Hammond to officially start the 10k, Jason will then start and run the Yeo Valley-sponsored 1km fun run. Wendy Riordan, Chew Valley 1k organiser, commented: “I'm delighted that Jason is supporting this great new running event for all the family and his presence will certainly make this year one to remember! The 1km run is a great opportunity for children to have fun exercising whilst raising money for the local community.”


For further details for the event log onto: Gardener is a keen supporter of Team Superschools, which gives schoolchildren the opportunity to be inspired by meeting an Olympian or international sports star. For more information, see


I'm happy with that, says Emma - 14/4/14 

EMMA Stepto declared herself happy with her performance in the Virgin London Marathon yesterday.

Lining up on the elite women’s start for the first time the Cornwall AC runner found herself on her own for long stretches before crossing the finish line in 2hrs 36mins 05secs.

That was 63secs outside her PB set in Amsterdam last year but was her second fastest time ever and easily her best time in London eclipsing her 2:44.17 recorded two years ago.

“It was a completely new experience for me being on the elite start and I really enjoyed it,” said Stepto.

“The crowds were amazing but it was along run on my own.”

The time puts Stepto third in the 2014 UK Rankings behind Louise Damen (2:32.21 in Osaka) and Amy Whitehead (2:34.20 in London).

Gooding is top Devon man in London - 14/4/14

IAN Gooding was the leading Devon runner in the Virgin London Marathon yesterday.

The Bideford AC veteran finished 102nd in a time of 2hrs 35mins 46secs just outside his PB of 2:33.47 set in Frankfurt last year. Clubmate Aaron Richmond also clipped over two minutes off his best to break 2hrs 40mins for the first time with 2:37.52.

Top Somerset runner was Taunton AC’s Phil Burden, who clocked a big PB of  2:32.29 while the Cornwall challenge as led by Justin Thomas in 164th with 2:38.57.

Leading west runner was Nick Sallaird. The 39-year-old North Somerset AC runner, who lives in Bristol, carved over 11 minutes off his previous best set in London just last year on his debut at the distance with a time of 2hrs 31mins 32secs.

45 Nicholas Saillard (NSAC) 2:31.32; 86 David Fitzpatrick (WH) 2:35.03; 102 Ian Gooding (Bide, M40) 2:35.48; 110 Stuart Leaney (Chipp) 2:36.25; 55 Phil Burden (Taun) 2:32.29; 134 Scott Campbell (WH) 2:37.36; 136 Dan Jones (TBAC) 2:37.40; 142 Aaron Richmond (Bide) 2:37.52; 164 Justin Thomas (CAC) 2:38.57; 198 Guy Landon (TBAC, M40) 2:40.00; 205 Luke Sturgess-Durden (TBAC) 2:40.44; 210 Noel Kindon (CAC) 2:40.40; 212 Thomas Dudden (TBAC) 2:40.42; 235 Simon Brace (TBAC, M40) 2:41.37; 236 Jarlath McKenna (B&W) 2:41.37; 250 Stephen Rose (TBAC, M40) 2:42.06; 259 Dave Coales (TBAC, M40) 2:42.18; 275 Oliver Starkey (Sev, U23) 2:42.48;

Helen delight as she smashes PB - 14/4/14 

TOP west women in the mixed start was Bristol & West AC’s Helen Sharpe, who slashed over ten minutes off her PB set in 2012 with a time of 2:47.22.

Leading Cornwall runner was 25-year-old Eleanor David of Newquay Road Runners, who slashed almost 20 minutes off her personal best with an excellent time of 2:58.21 to go fourth on the South West Rankings.

Leading Devon runner was Plymouth Harriers’ Ami Yetton with 2:59.21, which easily beat her only previous effort at the distance of 3:17.36 in 2009 while top Somerset athlete was Wells City Harriers’ veteran Clare Prosser

Open race – 10: Helen Sharpe (B&W) 2:47.22; 22 Lucy Richens (WH) 2:51.46; 50 Eleanor Davis (NRR) 2:58.21; 58 Clare Prosser (Wells, W40) 2:58.46; 65 Ami Yetton (Ply H) 2:59.21; 66 Alison McEwing (EVH) 2:59.39; 83 Zelah Morrall (CAC, W45) 3:01.50; 94 Julia Davis (NRR) 3:03.28;

Teen ace Emily stars for the South West- 14/4/14

DEVON teenager Emily Ackford led the South West to their best team result in the London Mini Marathon.

16-year-ol City of Plymouth runner finished eighth in the 17 women’s race to set the tone of r afatastic team effort that saw the West Country girls finished runners-up behind a strong London squad.

With Wells City Harriers’ Isobel Glaisher ninth,  City of Plymouth’s Victoria Weir 14th and Gemma Shepherd of Team bath AC 21st the west girls scored 52 points – well adrift of London but  crucially nine ahead of the South East team.

The best individual result came from Team Bath’s Laura McNab, who was fifth in the under 13 girls’ race with Westbury Harriers’ Ellie Hobbs also making the top 20 in 15th.

Tavistock’s Sian Temple was top west runner in the under 15 girls’ race in 21st with Cornwall AC’s Yoyo Barnsley 26th.

Finn Birnie of Newquay & Par AC produced the best result in the boys’ race as he finished sixth in the under 13 boys’ race but they had to wait until North Somerset’s Sam Gentry in 33rd, as their next scorer.

Best placed team were the under 15 boys, with the quartet of Will Stockley (Team Bath) 16th, Cameron Perkins (Team Bath) 19th, Frankie Aldred (East Cornwall Harriers) 39th and Team Bath’s Themis Bower 51st.

London Mini marathon  3 miles – under 17 men:  11 South West 198 points (32 Oliver Fox 15:07, 52 Andrew Smith 15:39, 56 Jason Drew 15:45, 58 Sam Sommerville 15:48, 65 Luke Prior 16:00, 66 Jack Turner 16:01). 73 finishers.

Under 15 boys: 8 South West 125 (16 William Stockley 15:40, 19 Cameron Perkins 15:43; 39 Frankie Aldred 16:13, 51 Themis Bower 16:29, 60 Tom Mortimer 16:47, 66 Piers Copeland 17:03). 74 finishers.

Under 13 boys – 9 South West 127 (6 Finn Birnie 16:13, 33 Sam Gentry 17:21, 41 Jed Skilton 17:52, 47 Thomas Fisher 18:06; 49 James Greenwood 18:08, 52 Joel Kirby 18:25).


Under 17 women -  1 London 27; 2 South West 52 (8 Emily Ackford 16:55, 9 Isobel Glaisher 17:03, 14 Victoria Weir 17:31, 21 Gemma Shepherd 17:39, 42 Katie Grinyer 18:36, 55 Charlotte Cayton-Smith 19:10); 3 South East 61.

Under 15 girls – 8 South West 107 (21 Sian Temple 17:38, 26 Yoyo Barnsley 17:50, 27 Alice Davies 17:51, 33 Bridget Dence 18:00, 62 Amelia Vance 19:28, 72 Rosie Allen 22:26).

Under 13 girls – 6 South West 79 (5 Laura McNab 17:40, 15 Ellie Hobbs 18:14, 28 Grace Copeland 18:42, 31 Elena Sidman 18:48, 37 Harriet Fox 18:54, 54 Sophie Jones 19:30).  

Lucy's win No 6 - but Cathy's Taunton record survives - 8/4/14

So that was win number six for Lucy MacAlister in the Taunton half marathon on Sunday.

Indeed, the only race in which MacAlister, who lives on the Somerset/Devon border, hasn’t finished top woman was the Bath half – and there she was still first Brit behind two Kenyans.

MacAlister’s roll call in 2014 now reads victories in the in the South West Cross Country Championships, the Braunton 10, Hestercombe Humdinger, the Grizzly, the Yeovil half and now Taunton.

Interesting to note, though, that MacAlister’s time of 1:8.05 was outside Cathy Newman’s long standing record of 76:14 which just underlines the quality of that run.

Frost's hot run puts his top of South West Rankings - 8/4/14 

STEPHEN Buckley’s personal best time of 2:42.09 in the Manchester Marathon on Sunday is the third quickest by a west runner this year for the classic 26.2 miles.

Top of the 2014 South West Rankings at this early stage is Team Bath’s George Frost, who in only his second marathon clocked a PB of 2:39.41 to finish 25th in the popular Manchester event on Sunday.

Bideford’s Steve Gallienne is second quickest with his debut mark of 2:41.44 in Barcelona last month.

Top veteran is Alan Ryder of Plymouth Musketeers, who clocked 2:47.18 in the Taunton Marathon last weekend. That is the sixth quickest in the west this year.

Nicky's Taunton PB lifts her into South West top 10 - 8/4/14 

THE quickest Devon marathon runner in 2014 is veteran Nicky Putman of Plymouth Harriers, who recorded a personal best of 3:20.24 in the Taunton event on Sunday.

That puts her ninth in the South West Rankings in 2014 with the top three places going to Poole AC’s Juliet Champion (3:03.25 in Treviso), Weston AC’s Phil Richards (a PB of 3:10.17 in Taunton) and Polly Adams of Royal Manor of Portland (3:11.55 in Brighton).


Step forward Tom Mason - or is it Merson? - 7/4/14

THE official results on the event website reckon a certain Tom Mason won the Taunton half marathon yesterday but I have a sneaky feeling it may just have been popular Devon runner Tom Merson.

Firstly I have never heard of Mason and no-one turns up by that that name on the UK Athletics Power of 10  Rankings. Secondly it would be a hell of a debut to emerge and run 68mins 56secs and finish over seven minutes clear of the field.

That would be well with Merson’s range even if he had run the English National 12-Stage Road Relays the previous day. Come to think of it, that represents a typical Merson weekend!

The distant runner-up was Exmouth Harriers’ Adam Miller (76:05) with Torbay’s Arran Tocknell third (76:48).

Lucy just can't stop winning! - 7/4/14 


I asked in Friday’s blog who could stop in-form Lucy MacAlister from adding the Taunton half women’s title to her success in the Yeovil half marathon the previous weekend.

The answer was a