Alton Runners have recently enjoyed a successful, busy weekend of racing and events.
On Saturday, the 13th of May, The Emsworth Relay saw two Alton Runners teams celebrating a victory after taking first and fourth place at the 70km relay race. The teams ran the 18-leg relay, which starts with all runners leaving Emsworth and completing the first leg together. After this, each runner fulfils their sections before passing the baton at official checkpoints. The race concludes at Cliddesden near Basingstoke. Legs include the notorious ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ in Steep, a challenging climb known for testing even the hardiest runners. Alistair Smith, part of the winning team, commented, “Emsworth relay is a fantastic day out. It’s tough, demanding, and self-navigated, so we nailed our sections. We beat some tough competition, including Basingstoke and Longmoor, but it feels great to take first, and we’re already looking forward to returning next year.” Each team has an allocated driver for the day; Terry Blake ferried the second team around and said, “ I’ve been providing transport for the Alton Runners’ relay teams for the last ten years. I probably enjoy it more than they do. It’s a nice day out driving through the quiet lanes of Hampshire scenery in places you never normally get to see while they have to do all the hard work of running gruelling miles up and down the hilly landscapes. This year was particularly enjoyable. The weather was good, especially for the runners, cool and dry with some sunshine. I was lucky to be accompanying a team of fast runners which meant very little waiting around at the changeover points. In fact, on some of the shorter legs, I had to put my foot down to get to the next changeover point before the runner!” Alton’s second team took fourth place; team member Adam Maskill said, “Conditions were perfect on the day, all the team put in maximum effort, and I’m really happy with our result. Terry gets a special shout-out for getting us to our checkpoints on a tight schedule!”.
The annual relay is considered a day of friendly camaraderie between Hampshire’s running clubs, with the bonus of raising money for charity. Fifty per cent of the proceeds this year will be donated to Heartburn Cancer UK (HCUK) and Chichester District Food Bank.
On Sunday, the 14th of May, Alton Runners hosted the annual Alton Ten Mile Road Race based at Eggars School and debuted a new route. Approximately 430 runners took part in the race, which is part of the Hampshire Road Race League and got to try the new course. Club members pitched in to help with car parking, registration and medal giving and long-time club member Philip Scrase took on the role of race director for the tenth consecutive year. He commented, “This was the 38th Alton Ten and the first time in quite a few years that the course was changed, taking in the quieter roads around Binsted. Also, we decided to start an hour earlier than in previous years, which helped with less traffic on the roads. It has been great to hear the positive feedback from those who took part in the course change that I'm sure will encourage others in future years to come and try it.”
Club members also turned out in force to run the race, with the route changes being received enthusiastically despite a challenging hill just after the halfway mark. Runner Kathryn Powell remarked, “I never did the old course but I loved this one. Three water stops were luxury, the volunteers were brilliant, the hills weren’t as bad as I feared, and I liked the warm-up and cool-down walks. My best bit was being presented my medal by my daughter.”
All runners received a bespoke wooden medal designed by club member Emily Hall showing the distinctive outlines of Binsted Church, and all proceeds from the event go to Alton Lions.
Reflecting on his final race as run director, Philip said “This event would not be possible without the amazing volunteers. I want to thank the Alton Lions for marshalling the course, the cadets from Alton School, the 3rd Alton Scout Group and the Boys Brigade for providing the water stations, which the runners were very thankful for, especially when the sun came out. I want to thank Holybourne Cricket Club for allowing us to use the cricket ground for the start of the race and Moira Baker for starting the race. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Alton Runners who have helped with this race in the previous ten years that I have been Race Director, as this was my last one. Without the support of the members, my job would have been much harder. I’d like to wish good luck to Oliver Steele-Perkins, who is taking over as Race Director.”