Di hits the Great Wall

18595298_292701481156560_8524312183288009827_o.jpg Hitting the wall is a phrase well-enough known to marathon runners who suddenly run out of fuel just a few miles from the finish – but for City of Salisbury’s distance specialist Di Cross it took on a completely new dimension when she ran the Great Wall marathon.

Widely considered to be one of the world’s most challenging marathons, it’s also one of the most breathtaking.

“It was an amazing experience but the race itself was brutal – made worse by some especially hot weather this year,” says Di. “By the time we started out on the second section of the wall the temperature was at least 38 degrees – even the metal handrails were too hot to hold! A lot of people were struggling.”

The race – which also has a half marathon and fun run option – starts in Yin and Yang Square in the old Huangyaguan Fortress, with runners being set off in four waves to avoid congestion. From the fortress, runners passed through a tunnel before joining the Jinwei Highway and then, after a kilometre, a left turn up the steep Changcheng Highway before joining the wall at 5k.

“It’s strikingly beautiful, the most incredible structure. However, it’s quite hard to run on as it’s really steep in places and the steps are different sizes – with no steps at all over some sections.”

After a 3k section there was a further kilometre round the walls of the fortress before heading back across the square to loud cheers and then back up the highway and a long, hot section through the local villages.

“The local people were so encouraging and lots of children were out high-fiving us and waving. It was great to have that encouragement. Thankfully, drink stations were frequent and the marshalls helpful, providing sponges as well as bottled water, which was warm in no time!”

After 34k, runners returned to the square and had to pass the finish – without crossing it – before heading back up towards the wall. First, however, they had to cross a bridge out of the fortress, where they were given a green wristband stamped with ‘5,164 steps into history’. A strict six-hour cut-off was in operation here, and those not arriving in time had to return to the square without finishing.

“I reached the bridge in five hours, taking it at a really steady pace as I was struggling in the heat, but then we had to climb up the goat trail – 700m of really steep track – boy, I could have done with that extra pair of legs as mine were screaming! Certainly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do – especially in that heat. The camaraderie between competitors was wonderful, however, and a great support and medical assistance was on hand.”

Having conquered the second stretch of wall, from west to east this time, the final 5k was back on the road and downhill back to Yin and Yang Square and the finish line. A very welcome sight!

“An incredible experience with a truly international field and well organised by Albatross Events. I travelled out with UK company 2:09 Events and made some good friends over the week that our group was in China. So pleased I completed it – in 7:37:08. An amazing adventure.”

Reduced team of athletes still take league win











Four City of Salisbury young athletes defied sweltering conditions to win regional titles at the South West School championships in Exeter.

Jaymee Domoney won the senior 1500m gold and Ottilie Knight was best in the intermediates’ javelin. Among the junior girls, Molly Hole continued her progress to win both the shot and the high jump, and Bea Wood took the 1500m.

Also performing well was Skye Allen who earned a silver medal in the 200m, and it was bronze for Gabrielle Kirkham in the long jump.

With its track and field team depleted by the Exeter event, the Salisbury club might have been expected to turn in a reduced result at the Southern Athletics league fixture in Winchester on the same day – but the small group took to multi-tasking in a big way to produce a remarkable overall win.

Highlights included Rachel Noble who won both the long jump and triple jump as well as taking second in the high jump. Hamish Mundell won the 400m hurdles and was second in 110m hurdles, 200m and high jump.

Emma Clarke competed in no less than 12 events, racking up the points and winning the 2000m steeplechase.

Further afield, Rithy Hy took ninth place in the international quarter marathon at Phnomh Penh in Cambodia with an excellent 46min 06sec.

On the Hants/Berks border in a trail marathon, another event affected by the weekend heat, Phil Perry completed his eighth 26miler of the year in a competitive 4hours 57min 14sec.

Lordshill is the venue on Sunday for this season’s Hampshire road race league showdown which has attracted more than 30 Salisbury runners. The event is also the club’s inaugural 10k road championship.



John Gorham Fights back!


Club member John Gorham, who’s now recovering from cancer of the oesophagus, was on BBC TV’s South Today and in the Southampton Daily Echo giving a patient’s perspective on his ground-breaking treatment at Southampton General. A major grant from Cancer Research was made to his surgeon’s department to enable further research. See links at:



Mills takes first win at Race for Men

City of Salisbury’s James Mills had good reason to celebrate when he recorded his first win in the 10k Race for Men. On a course that puts runners to the test throughout its hilly second half, he used his strength to pull away and he crossed the finishing line at Hudson’s Field in a quick 41min 22sec.
Not far behind was Jonathan Croom, whose good 42.49 earned fifth spot and first in his age group.
Other times in a big Salisbury contingent were: Robert Dawson 45.03, Peter Manning 46.44, James Welsh 47.03, John Kershaw 48.04, Steve Mitchell 50.26, Graham Wickham 50.36, Nick Willetts 50.45, Tim Phillips 51.19, John Chamberlain 53.47, Jef Hutchby 57.42, Paul Slaughter 58.13, Mike Winter 58.36, David Smith 63.46, Nick Cooke 66.24, and Norbert Webber 75.38.
The Salisbury club made it a winning double when under 16’s Guy Mitchell just pipped a senior rival to win the 3k event in 10min 30sec.
In the Wiltshire schools’ track and field championships at Swindon, Molly Hole continued to impress with wins in both the high jump and shot; Georgia Clarke joined Molly on the podium in the shot taking second place with a new pb 9.49m.

Gabrielle Kirkham won the long jump with a championship best performance of 5.22m, breaking a record which has stood for 29 years, and Martha Royle came second.

The outstanding Bea Wood easily took the girls 1500m title in another championship best performance while Rose Warren scored a pb in the 800mtrs to take third.

Louise Webb was second in the intermediates’ 1500m and Morgan Ringwood was second in the long jump. Kieron Appleton ran well to take second in the sprint hurdles, and Jacob Norcliffe had a busy day with second in the 100m and a win in the 200m final in 23.2s. Josh Hole won the shot.

In the senior boys, Fabrice Webb marked his recent improvement by winning the 3000m, and Jaymee Domoney won the 1500m.

At Bournemouth in the Dorset schools’ championships Alex D’Arbost took second in the 1500m and Sam Coles was fourth while at Portsmouth’s Hampshire finals, Greg Herring won the 1500m.

League win and two club records for Salisbury athletes

As if a win for City of Salisbury track and field athletes against stiff opposition in the Wessex Young Athletes’ League match at Bournemouth wasn’t enough, two new club 1500 records last weekend put the icing on the cake.

The league win followed a series of good points earned across the board, with performances such as a big new personal best for Lukas Bailey also at 1500m enough to produce a great overall result.

Bea Wood

Bea Wood, in her first year as an under 15 won her middle distance race with more than 200m to spare, clocking an excellent 4min 37.9sec. Not only did her run set a new mark for her age group but also it broke the under 17’s and under 20’s records too.

In the British Athletics League Premiership, Jaymee Domoney took another step up the ladder with a 3min 53.8sec performance to improve the club’s indoor and outdoor records at the distance as well as beating the national qualification standard for the English Schools Athletics championships later in the season.
On the Isle of Wight In the newly launched Needles cross country half marathon, described by the organisers as one of the country’s toughest, the club had four runners who were up to the challenge.
Craig Murphy was quickest, finishing in 1hour 49min 14sec and then came Mel Murphy in 2.26.31, Jane Whiteley 2.26.32 and Colin Martin 2.42.20.

Salisbury parkrun celebrated its second anniversary on Saturday morning when a near-record 589 runners and walkers completed the 5k course at Churchill Gardens. Among those attending were Elin Maurin and Richard Powell who soon after finishing the run were due to marry nearby.
Fastest on the day was City of Salisbury’s Christopher Melville in 17min 52sec, and fastest lady was Jo Meek of Winchester AC in 18.37.