Twelve members of DK Running Club, who were due to take part in this year’s London Marathon until it was called off due to Covid-19, recently ran the marathon distance around south Staffordshire instead.
The 40th London Marathon was due to take place on 26 April but was pushed back to 4 October as the UK went into lockdown and was restricted to elite athletes.
The marathon organisers challenged the 45,000 runners who had secured a place to run a socially distanced virtual London Marathon close to their homes on the same day instead.
Not wanting to waste the months of training that went into getting them ready for the start line in London, the DK runners decided to make the most of the scenic countryside around their Wall Heath-based HQ.
Taking part were Claire Hancox, Kathryn Purslow, Sharon Lowe, Julie Pearson, Malcolm Beddall, Matt Queen, Dirk Baynham, Jan Burbie, Lisa Mason and Dave Fennell.
Fellow DK members Dave Hickman and Kevin Herbert also ran the virtual London Marathon but not from the club.
A 26.2 mile course was carefully mapped out which took the runners along the route of the club’s 10K annual race then on to the South Staffordshire canal path to The Anchor at Caunsall.
They returned to the club by the same route where they were welcomed back by fellow DK members, friends and families, all maintaining social distance, and cake!
Several DK members ran with the marathon runners for stages along the route, encouraging them every step of the way.
One DK member, Farrah Coley-Hunter, did not enter the London Marathon but still ran the entire 26.2 mile distance, supporting her fellow Hoops.
The marathon runners raised thousands of pounds for the British Heart Foundation, Mind, Acorns Children’s Hospice, Action Heart and Scope.
The runners logged their progress on an app to make their times official and secure their medals.
Over thirty members of DK Running Club took part in a special eight-mile run on Sunday 23 August as a tribute to a much loved member who passed away last year.
For the last seven years, the club has organised an early summer ‘Cob Run’
from their Wall Heath clubhouse to The Anchor Inn, Caunsall. The run is named after the pub’s famous ham, beef and cheese cobs.
This year, though, due to Covid-19 the run had to be put back a few weeks
and organiser John Gould decided it should be held in memory of long-standing club member and leading light, John Glover, who lost his battle against cancer in the summer of 2019.
It would have been John Glover’s birthday on 23rd August and, after
finishing the Cob Run, the DKers, most wearing the club’s blue hoops, raised
their glasses in tribute to John at The Anchor Inn, witnessed by John’s wife,
The runners organised themselves into groups of no more than six and left
their clubhouse at staggered intervals from 9am. They kept their social
distance from each other, in line with Covi-19 restrictions, throughout the
eight-mile run along the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
Each runner paid £10 to take part in the Cob Run with £5 going towards a cob and a pint at The Anchor while the other £5 went towards two charities which meant a lot to John Glover and Beryl: the Georgina Ward at Russells Hall Hospital and Stourbridge’s Mary Stevens Hospice.
The Anchor Inn generously donated £50 towards the fund-raising effort as
well as adding cobs and drinks to raffle prizes. In total, £401.70 was raised
with the profits being split between the two charities.
At The Anchor Inn, the DK runners applauded Lisa Hadlington and Ingrid Cain, fellow club members who, along with John Gould, organised the Cob Run.
The Hoops have already booked The Anchor Inn for next year’s Cob Run which they hope will take place in a coronavirus-free world.
A DK Running Club member has completed a dozen marathons in 2020 to raise over £300 for the Dudley NHS Covid-19 Crisis Appeal.
Farrah Hunter-Coley, of Wombourne, set herself a challenge at the start of
this year of running twelve marathons by the end of 2020.
She completed the Wolverhampton Trail Half Marathon to Wombourne on 14th March and then straight after ran another 13 miles on her own to add up to a full marathon.
But after the UK went into lockdown, with group races inevitably cancelled
up and down the country, Farrah had to come up with another plan to meet her goal.
She decided to get up at 4:30am each Saturday and run the marathons close to her home, taking in Wombourne, Wall Heath, Dudley, Stourbridge and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal route along with the South Staffordshire Railway Walk.
Farrah wanted to raise as much money as possible to help the NHS fight the
pandemic so set up a fund-raising page for the Dudley Group NHS Charity
Covid-19 Crisis Appeal.
After completing each solo marathon, Farrah submitted her results to the
marathon organisers who sent her a virtual medal in recognition of her efforts.
When Farrah recently finished her twelfth marathon, her husband, Mark, and three sons, Isaak, 12, Jakob, 9, and Joel, 6, set up a finish line in The
Celadines, Wombourne with a banner welcoming Farrah home.
“It’s taken a lot of motivation and commitment leaving my husband and boys all sleeping in bed and going out to pound the streets. Most people just shake their heads and say I’m nuts!
“I’m pleased to have so far raised £325 for such a good cause. Although my
original plan was to run twelve marathons, I’m going to carry on and aim to
complete twenty marathons by the end of the year. But I will have to see how my tired legs hold up.”
A DK Running Club member has run a virtual marathon one year after a family member went into full time care for dementia.
Vanessa Harris, of Pensnett, took on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Jog on
Dementia challenge to complete the marathon distance of 26.2 miles and raise £100 for the charity.
It was just over a year ago that Vanessa’s mother’s husband, Ray Tibbetts,
was admitted to full time care after contracting dementia. Vanessa wanted to do something positive to mark the occasion and so opted for the marathon challenge.
She decided to run 26 one mile laps from her house adding a pebble to her
window sill at the end of each lap to help her keep count of the distance and
stay focused throughout the physically and mentally tough challenge.
Vanessa also left bottles of water and energy bars on top of her car to fuel
her as she pounded the pavements around Pensnett.
She set off at 6:30am and finished in a personal best (PB) time of five
hours and 41 minutes, knocking 15 minutes off her previous marathon PB.
Vanessa, who is a mobile hairdresser, said,
“I ran the marathon during my first week back at work since lockdown and had to do it on my one day off so this was two milestones in a week.
“I hope this will inspire people to go and pursue their goals, however unimaginable you think they may be.”
Vanessa raised well over £100 for the Alzheimer’s Society Jog on Dementia
Sixty members of Dudley Kingswinford Running Club have completed solo runs to raise money for NHS charities who are supporting staff working tirelessly to care for coronavirus patients.
Event organiser Race The Distance launched the NHS Challenge, ‘Do What You Can’, which encourages people to devote one of their daily exercises a day to running, walking, cycling or any other form of physical activity in return for a medal.
The DK solo runners all completed various distances, starting and finishing at their homes, with most running either 5K or 10K. Some members were self isolating so joined in by riding exercise bikes in their garage or walking around their garden.
Following their activity in the club’s blue and white hoops, the DKers took selfies which were then sent to club member Sally Husselbee who designed a collage including all runners, the NHS Challenge medal and the DK logo.
Sally took part in the running challenge herself but needed no incentive to do so as she works in a frontline high dependency role for the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and is training to be an emergency medical technician.
Sally recently tested positive for Covid-19 but recovered and returned to work with WMAS today (14 April).
“As a frontline medic during Covid-19 I know how vital running is for our mental, as well as physical, health. It was fantastic to see so many fellow DK runners take up this challenge, raising funds to support staff caring for patients.”
All participants in the NHS Challenge pay £12.99 for a specially designed medal which incorporates thanks to the NHS and key workers for their role in fighting the pandemic.
One hundred per cent of all profits are being donated to NHS Charities Together. Donations will fund well-being packs/gifts for staff and volunteers on hospital wards and departments, cost of travel, parking, accommodation for NHS staff and volunteers’ expenses along with other items requested by NHS charities.
The NHS Challenge has so far raised £35,000 for NHS Charities Together.
While the country remains under lockdown and with social distancing in force, DK members are trying to stay fit by going for solo runs close to their homes.
The club’s governing body, UK Athletics, has suspended all athletics activity until at least 31st May. This means the DK beginners’ course and the annual DK10K, both scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, will be postponed until further notice. Both events will be reviewed in the autumn.
If the club cannot rearrange for 2020 then all runners who have already registered for the DK10K will be offered either a full refund or the option to have their entry rolled over for 2021.
Three women from Dudley Kingswinford Running Club took on solo running challenges last week as coronavirus has wiped out all group training sessions and races.
Samantha Hemming (pictured) ran a remarkable three trail marathons in three days in Telford. On the first day Samantha ran a 32-lap course at Burroughs Bank, Lightmoor while on the second day she completed three out and back laps along a disused railway line in Coalport. The marathon challenge was organised by How Hard Can It Be events.
Vanessa Harris ran a half marathon on her own around Pensnett and Kingswinford to earn a finisher’s medal from the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon that was cancelled last month due to stormy conditions.
The most poignant run undertaken by a DK member this week occurred in Anglesey where Lucy Elwell ran nine miles of country lanes, beach and trail exactly one year after her son Alex died.
Lucy plans to run the rearranged London Marathon in October in memory of Alex and his brother Nathaniel who were both born with the fatal condition bilateral renal angenesis.
While coronavirus continues to hold the country in an iron grip, DK members are trying to maintain their running regime by going for solo runs close to where they live or running in small groups while sticking to social distancing requirements.
Nine Dudley Kingswinford Running Club members travelled to Gloucester on 15th March for a 20 mile road race which was meant to form part of their London and Manchester Marathon preparations.
However, the race was tinged with disappointment as, just 48 hours earlier, the organisers of both of next month’s big city marathons announced that the races will be put back until the autumn due to coronavirus.
On a rain-sodden and hilly course, Dirk Baynham, Lucy Elwell, Nigel Enoch, Karen Flint, Kathryn Purslow, Matt Queen, Ray Selwood, Alison Thorneycroft and Rebecca Withers put their marathon dismay behind them to complete the three laps that made up the Gloucester 20.
All the runners vowed to continue their marathon training over the spring and summer, ready to take on the London and Manchester marathons when coronavirus is hopefully under control in a few months’ time.
Another DK member could not wait that long to complete a marathon as Farrah Hunter-Coley ran the Wolverhampton Trail Half Marathon on Saturday (14 March) having run 13 miles to get to the start line.
The race course followed the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal system to Wombourne then headed home along the Staffordshire Railway Walk. This was the third of twelve marathons that Farrah plans to complete in 2020.
Finally this week, several DK members indulged in a spot of parkrun tourism with Jonathan Pearce running with his dog, Finn, at the Camborne parkrun in Cornwall, Aimee Pugh and Kevin Herbert taking on the Bushy parkrun in Teddington, London and Jane Somerville running the South Manchester parkrun.
On the other side of the world Jane Campbell completed her fiftieth parkrun at Lower Hutt in New Zealand, accompanied by her husband, Rory.
Five Dudley Kingswinford Running Club members helped several runners from across the Black Country achieve personal best 5K times when they acted as pacemakers at the Dudley Parkrun on Saturday 7 March.
Sam Gordon, Salah Muflahi, Kathryn Purslow, Ray Selwood and Sarah-Jane Stevens were the DK representatives at the pacing event at The Dell Stadium, Brierley Hill.
The five Hoops were joined by pacemakers from several other local running clubs, including Stourbridge Running Club and The Yellow Army. The runners set the pace at two to three minute intervals between 20 and 40 minutes.
In Wolverhampton, DK member Helen Tinsell-Jones joined the Parkrun 50 Club as she notched up a half century of Parkruns in Wolverhampton.
On 1 March Lucy Elwell and Richard Jones wore the Hoops when taking on the Warwick Half Marathon with Richard finishing in one hour 44 minutes and Lucy in one hour 53 minutes.
The most formidable run undertaken by a DK member this week was the Groundhog Marathon at Telford Running Track where Claire Hancox had to run 105 half laps of the 400 metre running track to make up the 26.2 miles.
Finally this week, five DK runners took on the muddy and hilly Cannock Chase 5 and 10 mile event today (8 March). Jennie Fletcher crossed the 5 mile finish line in 53 minutes 51 seconds while Leanne Fogarty was just one second behind. Justine Hammond finished in one hour five minutes 39 seconds.
In the 10 mile race at Cannock Chase Ray Selwood finished in one hour 22 minutes eight seconds while Jacqui Elson-Whittaker was the first female over 50 veteran lady to finish in one hour 33 minutes 31 seconds.
Fifteen DK Running Club members crossed the finish line together at today’s Action Heart 5 Mile race which started at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley.
The group completed the club’s ‘From couch to 5K’ ten-week running course last spring and decided to run, step by step with each other, at the Action Heart event.
It was a strong overall turn-out by DK in Dudley with over thirty members competing. The club received the Silver Team Award from Action Heart in recognition of their support of the event.
Jacqui Whittaker finished as first lady in her age category and achieved a personal best time of 40 minutes 37 seconds.
The run leaders of the 2019 DK beginners’ group, Ingrid Cain and Dave Fennell, ran with their group at Action Heart today. Ingrid said:
“We are very proud of the group taking on this tough, hilly run. Their decision to run Action Heart together shows the great teamwork and friendships they have forged over the last year.”
Away from the Black Country, three DK runners travelled to London to compete in the Vitality Big Half Marathon. Claire Hancox, Tony Noke and Kathryn Purslow wore the club’s hoops on a route which crossed Tower Bridge and finished at the Cutty Sark.
Blue and white hoops were in abundance at Walsall Arboretum on Saturday 22nd February as 23 Dudley Kingswinford (DK) Running Club members took part in the Walsall Parkrun.
The 5K event, made up of two loops around the Arboretum, forms part of DK’s annual Grand Prix competition. In this fiercely fought contest, several races of various distances, from 5K to a half marathon and taking place all over the Midlands, are selected. Members gain points for competing in each event with bonus points added for finishing positions, course best and personal best times.
First male finisher for DK at Walsall was Gary Davies in 19 minutes 26 seconds while the fastest female Hoop was Becky Withers in 28 minutes and nine seconds.
Mark Bailey and Dirk Baynham represented the club at the Dirt Run in the Dark at Kinver Edge on Wednesday (19th February). Both runners wore head torches to ensure they safely navigated the muddy hills.
Sandeep Kaur achieved a 5K milestone when she completed her fiftieth parkrun in Wolverhampton.
On the other side of the world, DK members Jane and Rory Campbell took part in the Hobsonville parkrun in Auckland, New Zealand while Amy Nelson also wore the club’s Hoops when she competed in the Crissy Field parkrun in San Francisco.
The final DK globetrotter this week was Dave Ede who, in sunny Spain, ran the Valencia 15K Open to the sea, finishing in one hour 11 minutes 10 seconds.
Over thirty runners from DK Running Club took on the tough Stourbridge Stagger on Sunday 2nd February.
Hosted by Stourbridge Running Club, the event, starting and finishing at Mary Stevens Park, was made up of two races: a seven kilometre and a ten mile multi-terrain run.
The event lived up to its forbidding name as runners faced steep hill climbs and ankle-deep mud.
Twenty-two DK Hoops competed in the ten mile race: Mark Gatenby, Kevin Herbert, Mark Garrett, Adam Crowle, Daniel Davey, Helen Tromans, Ray Selwood, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker, Dave Hickman, Sharon Bailey, Dirk Baynham, Simon Ballinger, Becky Withers, David Fennell, Helen Bingham, Kelly Idoine, Samantha Hemming, Claire Hancox, Karen Flint, Malcolm Beddall, Vanessa Harris and Sally Husselbee.
Mark Gatenby was the first male to finish for DK in one hour 16 minutes 52 seconds while Helen Tromans was the fastest female Hoop, finishing in one hour 30 minutes 55 seconds.
Twelve Hoops competed in the 7K race: Alex Pearce, Peter Stevens, Paula Alder, Salah Muflahi, Mark Bailey, Sarah-Jane Stevens, Anna-Marie Limb, Dianne Castree, Amy Nelson, Lynsey Muflahi, Helen Tinsell-Jones and Laura Jones.
Alex Pearce was the first male Hoop to cross the finish line in 36 minutes 51 seconds while Paula Alder was the fastest female DKer, finishing in 41 minutes 36 seconds.
The most impressive running achievement by a DKer at the weekend came from Samantha Hemming who, just one day before completing the ten mile Stourbridge Stagger, ran a marathon in Shropshire.
Samantha ran the Icing on the Cake trail marathon at Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton which took in the Shropshire Hills and The Long Mynd.
As entries go live for the DK 10k on 6th May, DK member Sally Husselbee recently ran a very different sort of 10k…
On 23rd January, Sally had to rely on a head torch to light her way when she took part in the Salcey Forest Gato Sports Head Torch 10k in Northampton.
Congratulations to Helen Tromans who ran the annual Buff Winter Trail Wales half marathon in the Coed Y Brenin Forest Park on 18th January. Helen finished the race in two hours six minutes and 19 seconds, coming an impressive second in her age category.
In total, 750 runners took on the challenging course in the Snowdonia National Park, made up of trails and tracks and set against a stunning mountain backdrop.
Three of Dudley Kingswinford (DK) Running Club took on and completed the iconic running challenge of a marathon today, Sunday 19th January.
On a bitterly cold morning, Gary Davies and Samantha Hemming took part in the Gloucester Marathon along with almost 300 other runners. The largely flat, traffic-free 26.2 mile route went through the scenic parish of Haresfield and Colethrop village.
Gary achieved a personal best marathon time of three hours two minutes and 14 seconds, finishing in 24th place overall. Samantha wore DK’s renowned blue and white hoops and finished in four hours 58 minutes and 38 seconds.
Back in south Staffordshire, Vanessa Harris braved the freezing cold, taking on a virtual marathon with the theme Move for Australia. The challenge was set up after members of the running and sporting community asked for an event which would support and raise money to help with the horrific wildfires in Australia.
A virtual challenge was created by Race the Distance which could be done from any location and by running, walking, cycling, swimming or using a wheelchair and over one mile, 2k, 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon.
Vanessa ran the first 12 miles with friends before completing the 26.2 miles on her own, running along lanes around Himley and Wombourne as well as the South Staffordshire Railway Walk track and Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
All profits from the virtual challenge will be donated to WIRES, the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia.
DK member Kathryn Purslow faced a less daunting, but still testing, challenge on Saturday (18th January) when she acted as a pacemaker at the Severn Valley Country 5k parkrun at Alveley, Bridgnorth. Kathryn paced at 36 minutes and helped a number of runners achieve parkrun personal best times.
Elsewhere in Shropshire, 24 DK runners wore the Hoops at the Telford 5k parkrun. Almost 700 runners made up the field with icy conditions underfoot. Jonny Pearce was the fastest DK man, finishing in 20 minutes 56 seconds while Jane Campbell was the quickest DK lady, finishing in 26 minutes 18 seconds.
The third race of the Midland cross country season saw six female runners from DK Running Club travel to Coombe Abbey Park, Coventry on Saturday 11 January.
Jane Campbell, Farrah Hunter Coley, Claire Hancox, Vanessa Harris, Helen Tromans and Jacqui Elson Whittaker represented DK in the event run by the Midland Women Cross Country League.
On a wet, windy and muddy course Helen Tromans was the fastest Hoop to finish in 33 minutes 43 seconds.
On Sunday 12 January Helen achieved a remarkable double triumph at the Dirt Run Winter Warrior Series at Comer Woods, Quatt near Bridgnorth finishing first in her age category and winning the overall series.
Over seventy runners shook off any New Year’s Eve hangovers when DK Running Club hosted its annual New Year’s Day Handicap Race on Wednesday 1st January.
Starting and finishing at the club’s Swindon Road base, 78 runners took part in the four-mile run.
The competitors set off in five different waves, starting at 11am, depending on each runner’s fastest 5k finish time.
The Hoops were well represented with 32 DK members competing while The Yellow Army and Tipton Harriers also provided strong contingents.
The fastest male finisher was Tom Bentley of Tipton Harriers in 22 minutes 47 seconds while Jade Charlton, also of Tipton Harriers, was the fastest female finisher in 27 minutes 21 seconds.
First male back for DK was Mark Garrett in 26 minutes 42 seconds with Paula Alder the fastest female Hoop, finishing in 32 minutes 52 seconds.
Two DK athletes won cash prizes for finishing closest to their estimated times: Leanne Fogarty who was just four seconds off her estimated finish time and Dirk Baynham who was twelve seconds away from his estimated finish time.
A successful start to the running New Year for DK was made possible by 25 club members who volunteered as race marshals, time-keepers, cake stall holders, photographers and other vital tasks.
On Sunday 5th January DK members Adam Crowle and Leanne Fogarty took part in the Bodenham Bound 10k in the grounds of Bodenham Arboretum near Kidderminster.