(Who's your friend, Edwina?)
Twenty runners represented Mel's Milers at the Seville half marathon, a record number so far for a trip abroad.
Under the clear blue sky and winter sunshine over 6,500 runners (mostly Spanish men with a penchant for compression socks) set off near the Olympic Stadium on La Cartuja Island, on the outskirts of Seville. The route was mostly flat and weaved through the old quarter of the city along cobbled streets, passing many historical sites on the way, and ending back at the Olympic stadium with runners doing one lap of the running track to finish.
All twenty Mel's Milers finished the scenic course with Catherine Low posting the fastest time of 1 hour 45 mins, closely followed by Kathryn Hayhurst (1.46), who was the 2nd fastest V50 female overall in the race!
Paula Reeves also managed a great time despite coming down with a cold the day before (1.49 mins).
Congratulations to Colin Shaw and Sue Smith who ran together all the way and posted the most evenly paced split times of all of us. Also to Sharon, Fiona, Ann and Anna who always seem to run a good race and this was no exception (all managed under two hours).
A special mention to Shirley Slough (her second ever half marathon), Sarah Inman (her first half marathon since Nice 2012), Lisa Love (who finished despite having an ankle injury) and Edwina Chandaman (for remembering how to run under 2 hours after selflessly supporting others in races over the last few years).
A huge thank you to our four supporters who came to Seville and cheered us on at several points in the race. (Sarah Curran, Nicki Wolvern, Louise Philips and Mike Bransden) and also to Steve Wilson for his brilliant speed sessions which helped many of us kick up our heels for a sprint finish around the stadium track. With free beer, enthusiastic Spanish support (vamos!) and a free t-shirt that actually fitted, everyone came away feeling weary but happy. A thoroughly enjoyable day!
Seville made a great place to stay. Flamenco dancing, a trip to Alcazar castle and the gothic cathedral, amazing tapas and great bars all added to this wonderful weekend.
Balmoral Trip 2015
This year's "Race Abroad" contained no racing, just some fabulous running around Balmoral, whisky tasting and good times.
Nice, 3rd February 2013
The race from Nice to Monaco along the Cote d'Azur coast has to be about the most scenic route possible. 16 Mel's Milers completed the half marathon race on the day, with the other 3 in the group choosing to try it out a day early ! The sun shone, the vests came out, and the English winter weather was briefly forgotten. It seemed a shame to leave Monaco too soon so lunch was taken on a beach along the coast, with well-earned beers and some paddling in the sea. The new fashion in Monaco this season is lycra and bright orange race t-shirts !
Nice made a great place to stay for the long weekend, with opportunities to walk or cycle along the Promenade Anglais, a big choice of places to eat, even for a big group of hungry runners, and some good shopping. Let's not mention the cocktails and champagne ! We wouldn't want anyone to think we weren't serious runners !
Verona, 19th February 2012
Seventeen Mel's Milers completed the Romeo and Juliet half marathon in Verona on 19th February, with support from three non-runners who made our travelling group of twenty the largest yet to represent the club abroad. Thankfully the snow of the previous week had melted and the race conditions were just right allowing for some good times and PBs ranging from 1:38 to 2:13. The route weaved around and through Verona and included several bridges, some cobbled streets, a castle and through the Roman amphitheatre at the end. A selection of unusual drinks were on offer during and after the race including lemon tea and mulled wine !
Verona made a perfect destination for a weekend away, with Lake Garda a short train ride away, and plenty of pasta, pizza and gnocchi eating opportunities !
Marrakech, 30th January 2011
Marrakech was more than a race abroad; for many of us it was an unforgettable experience. Staying, as we did, in the middle of the old Medina part of the city, our riad was like an oasis of calm amongst streets of chaos. Frequent visits to the souks resulted in much haggling and some good purchases such as shoes, oils, teapots, scarves, mirrors, cloaks and daggers !
The race itself was surprisingly orderly (apart from a total absence of pre-race loos), and a flat course that circled the city for most of the way. The weather was disappointingly English and puddles had to be dodged or splashed through, but a good temperature for running, and all 14 Mel's Milers completed the half marathon distance to get the medals, dates and satsumas at the end. Chip times ranged from 1:45 to 2:19 and considering the assortment of injuries, replacement hip etc. being carried, this was a great achievement by all.
The post-race massages in the riad were just what were needed, and a brisk walk in the mountains the day after was good for stretching the legs and filling the lungs with fresh air. View the Marrakech photo album here.
Lake Maggiore, Italy, 7th March 2010
The half marathon around Lake Maggiore was stunningly scenic with a nice flat course that helped towards some very good times and some personal bests for the ten Mel's Milers who completed it. In fact our ladies filled 7 of the top 10 places of British runners. How's that for domination ! The relay option was a bonus for the other four runners who were not able to manage the full distance. The weather Gods evidently heard our prayers the night before and diverted the snow clouds away so even the conditions were perfect for running. The boat ride back across the lake from the finish was an unusual mode of race transport, and a fitting end to a unique race.
The Italian hospitality, scenery and food made it one of the best destinations yet for a race abroad. Not a Starbucks in sight, but all the better for it, as the bars and restaurants were very accommodating towards our large party. Our slight lack of fluency in the Italian language didn't hold us back, and new ways of were found for interpreting menus with a spot of miming !
The hotel location was perfect with rooms large enough to hold a party in, and the other residents probably thought that was what we were doing !
Barcelona 8th February 2009
Barcelona provided a great destination for a weekend away and half marathon race, with plenty of interesting sights to see, Spanish culinary delights to sample, and a reminder of what sunshine felt like. The sangria and paella probably won the food and drink popularity contest, followed closely by tapas and beer, and several visits to the numerous Starbucks outlets helped to make us feel at home !
The race itself wasn't bad either ! The course was on wide, traffic-free streets with only very gentle inclines, providing a good chance of getting a PB. Several of the eight Mel's Milers running it managed to achieve that, with the three non-runners of the party providing welcome support along the way.
Malta 24th February 2008
The club trip to Malta was a great success with 1 runner completing the full marathon and the other 9 opting for just the half. Everyone appreciated the mainly downhill course, and most enjoyed the lovely warm, sunny weather. Apart from the running there was the usual amount of quality and quantity eating, some sightseeing on land and water, some scary taxi rides, and even a spot of sunbathing on a beach favoured by her Majesty and Philip !
We won't mention the hotel as it will spoil the perfect image !
The trip to Prague for the half marathon on 24th March had the usual series of mishaps including a missed flight and lost purse, but otherwise our 14 travellers enjoyed a great weekend away in the lovely city. The 10 runners all completed the winding course with it's charming cobbles and tram lines, and the 4 spectators braved the chilly wind to cheer them on. Well done to everyone, especially Colin who came second in his age group ! Must have been the free beer en route !