Epic Racing weekend for Axe Valley Runners

By Philip Evans

4th Apr 2022 | Fitness

By Carol Austin

Axe Valley Runners were out in force racing across the country this weekend. From Manchester to Reading, from Exeter to London via Taunton, runners competed in distances ranging from 10k to the 26.2m on the road and up to 22 miles on the trails.


At the Therme Manchester Marathon, qualification was up for grabs for the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games, but for the seven AVRs a personal best (PB) and a good-for-age spot for London was enough incentive for the trip north. The race, which starts and finishes near Old Trafford is fast and flat and with no London marathon this month, it's the biggest Spring marathon in the UK.

In a big field with more than 14,000 marathon finishers, five AVRs finished in the incredible sub-3 hour bracket which is a tremendous achievement for the club. First home was Terry Emmett in 2:37.22 followed by Duncan Staddon in 2:38.41, both in PBs. Next to finish was Rob Collier in 2:49.07, his first sub 2:50 finish and an impressive 12th M50. Matt Hewer in 2:55.34, was also delighted to secure a PB with Richard Hardy in 2:58.39 completing the sub-3 set.

Rupert Pady in 3:10.17 and Karen Eyre in 3:47.59 also ran excellent times for the 26.2m event. All seven have secured the (current) sought after good-for-age times for London showing massive commitment from them and the huge strength in depth within AVR.


Eight AVRs enjoyed a sunny Sunday morning in the capital running the London Landmarks half-marathon which, as the name suggests, takes runners past some of the city's most well-known buildings. Sam Tooze and Emma Richardson ran together and finished in 2:19.18 with Jo Orsman just behind them in 2:23.39. Carolyn Nation, who was running for Parkinson's UK in memory of her mother, achieved a brilliant PB of 2:34.13 while Sam Halls, also got a great PB of 2:43.06 whilst raising money for Diabetes UK.

Jason Hyde completed his third half-marathon in three weeks with a time of 2:19.54 while Denise Burges finished in 2:31.23.

A big shout-out to the final member of the team, Bec Davey, who helped at a water station in Holbone after having to withdraw due to injury.


The Taunton marathon and half also took place in Sunday's perfect racing conditions with Jack Broom and Ron Seward amongst the 500 field in the half-marathon. An excellent fifth place for Jack Broom in a PB of 1:14.52 was particularly impressive given the hilly course. Ron Seward was second M70 in a very good 1:54.43.

Cliff Marriott and Haydn Boehm travelled to Reading for the 40th anniversary of this well-known half-marathon. Following a recent bout of Covid-19, Haydn was happy with his 1:39.13 time while Cliff finished in 1:47.10.


The much delayed First Chance 10k – usually held in January –saw six AVRs test themselves on the flat course around Exeter Riverside. The event is the first of this year's In Step Devon series and prior to today's event last year's winners were announced. In 2021 Eleanor Wood won the F60 category, Rob Collier the M50 and AVR were second male team and fourth female team.

In today's event, 129 runners completed the course in perfect racing conditions with James Ashforth first AVR home in 39th place in 44:21. Suzi Blackett was 74th in 52.19 with Angela Kerr hot on her heels in 52.56 which won her the trophy for first F65. Maxine Sweetman was delighted to bag the second F65 in 58.45 with Gill Day finishing in 58.41 and Rachel Hiscock coming in in 1:01.29.


Arguably harder than the Grizzly, certainly longer, the Exe to the Axe must be one of the most scenic races in the country. Starting at the mouth of the River Exe in Exmouth it follows the South West Coast Path all the way to the Axmouth Yacht Club on Seaton seafront. With all the other races this weekend, a smaller than usual contingent of AVRs took part but those that did enjoyed fantastic views given the very clear skies as they tackled the challenging 22-mile course.

Matt Clist won the race, which had 142 finishers, in a brilliant time of 2:52.39, some eight minutes clear of second place. In third place and second male was Tim Lenton in 3:05.35.

Eleanor Wood was a brilliant sixth female, first F60 in 3:53.30. James Green came in 20th in 3:43.33 with Stephen Grigg 28th in 3:49.34. Ian Kinnersley was second M60 in 3:57.29.

Margaret Pearce and Caroline French ran together to finish in 4:23.13 in 74th and 75th with Alan Morbey coming next AVR in 4:52.05. Steve Maclure finished in 5:22.22. Vicki Wraight, Helen Holmes, Katharine Moran and Julia Mallon all ran together to finish in 5:41.

A half distance option was also on offer running from Sidmouth to Seaton. Esme Markham completed this leg in 2.33.28, a creditable eleventh of the 25 finishers.


On Saturday, in perfect racing conditions, Kerry Board and Andy West represented AVR at the Powderham Castle 10 miler. The two lap route took the 300 runners around the castle's undulating ground finishing in the castle courtyard.

Kerry set a 10m off-road PB finishing in 1:23.20, sixth female and first F45. Andy was just behind clinching 49th overall place 1:27.46.


In this brilliantly named 10k event near Farnham, Simon Dimmock took third place – second male – in 40.39.


Innes Fitzgerald followed up her brilliant win at the Schools International cross country last weekend by smashing her own female course record at Seaton parkrun by running a big PB of 17:11. Vivienne and Derek Blumfield, recent graduates of the club's Couch to 5k, both secured a PB of 33.05.


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