Haslemere Border Athletics Club (HBAC) members have travelled far and wide to get their running fix.

Sunday, April 2 kicked off the start of the 2023 spring marathon season, when all the months of winter training – trudging through heavy showers, muddy puddles and very early chilly starts – come to fruition and athletes are ready and waiting at the start line for perhaps their first marathon experience.

This was indeed the case for two Haslemere Border athletes who were taking on the Brighton Marathon – Paul Seymour and Charlotte Finden.

Paul, who had trained hard – having attended countless training sessions organised by the club and competed in a number of races before the event – was well prepared for the challenge.

Charlotte, too, had trained extremely hard for her first marathon. She had brought her own support crew, and could hardly contain her excitement.

The race also included two other HBAC athletes, Rodger Morley and Tom Bampton, and all four were at the start line at Preston Park. The route takes runners into Withdean, before turning back down London Road towards the city alongside the pavilion into Kemptown and towards the coast to Ovingdean, before turning back into the city and along the coastal promenade to finish at Hove Lawns.

The first of the quartet to reach the finish line was Rodger, who finished in a fantastic time of 3:22.31, achieving a personal best. Shortly after him was Paul in 3:36.02 – a superb first-time achievement.

Tom, who had succumbed to feeling sick at mile 14, persevered to finish his race in a time of 4:15.17 – a grand effort!

Last, but by no means least, and probably the most elated runner of them all, was Charlotte. She finished in an excellent time of 4:50.31.

A tremendous effort by all four and truly-deserved beers and bubbles all round.

As well as the marathon event taking place at Brighton, there was also a 10km race, and for one Haslemere Border athlete this was just the ticket.

Duncan Selmes blasted his way round the course in an amazing time of 34.29. Well done, Duncan.

An hour earlier, in European time, another Haslemere athlete, Steve Taylor, was lining up at the start line for the 46th Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris.

Steve had trained well and was looking for a personal best on what is traditionally a fast-paced course through the spectacular streets of the city.

The race starts at the iconic Avenue des Champs-Elysees, taking runners past some of the world-famous Paris landmarks – including the Arc de Triomphe, the Bastille, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower – before finishing on Avenue Foch close to the Arc de Triomphe all the while being spurred on by the French chant ‘Allez Allez’ as the race takes hold.

Steve ran a perfect race with negative splits throughout to gain a personal best by four minutes in a splendid time of 3:29.08.

A fantastic start to the Haslemere Border marathon season with many more exciting performances to come over the coming weeks.

Back in the UK on the North Wessex Downs, Steve King and Hesta Gilham were taking part in the Combe Gibbet to Overton trail run, a 16-mile challenging cross-country race through the Berkshire and Hampshire countryside.

The race starts at Combe Gibbet at the summit of the spectacular Inkpen Beacon, and finishes in Overton.

For Hesta, this was her first time at the event and she was looking forward to the race. However, there had been no mention of the many hills she would endure when she had been persuaded to take part in the race a few weeks earlier.

Because of the heavy rain leading up to the race, the course was treacherous, muddy and extremely slippery, and those hills became even more difficult. For Hesta and Steve, the biggest challenge was staying on their feet.

Considering the extreme conditions, both finished in excellent times. Hesta finished in 2:29.17, and was third in her age group. Steve finished in 2:52.43. Well done both.

Sam and Dudley Walker took to the streets of London on April 2 to take part in the London Landmarks half marathon. The route takes runners past many of London’s iconic landmarks, before finishing in St James’s Park. Sam narrowly missed out on a sub two-hour time, finishing in 2:00.05. Dudley finished in 2:00.06.

On Easter Monday, HBAC member Sarah Smith chose to run the Serpent Trail 100km – totally self-supported and in the worst April showers the month could possibly offer.

Sarah, who first had the idea during lockdown, set off from Haslemere into Swan Barn Farm – known for its mud – and believe you me there was plenty and it didn’t stop there.

Sarah then battled through heavy rain, storms and even a glimmer of lightning all the way to the finish at Petersfield.

What a superstar, not only did she go it alone but she also achieved the fastest known time in 12:44.06 – a truly phenomenal result.

While Sarah was tackling the Serpent Trail, a number of club members were making the journey down to Dorset to surprise fellow club member Lorraine Herring – who was with her family celebrating her 60th birthday.

For Lorraine, any trip away always involves parkrun tourism, and the chosen location was Moors Valley parkrun.

Little did she know that joining her on the start line would be Karen Sinclair, Janet Govan, Tine Fairminer, Ann Varnes, Peter Varnes, Sam Walker and Dudley Walker – her regular running friends.

The glorious course, set in the Moors Valley Country Park, followed woodland tracks, with the last kilometre around Moors Lake.

The traditional parkrun birthday celebration included cake and an additional treat of prosecco. Cheers, Lorraine!

Further parkrun tourism has seen Martin Wells complete the Owairaka, Invercargill, Balclutha and Lower Hutt parkruns in New Zealand, and the Chermside and Torquay parkruns in Australia – all of which were run in glorious sunshine.

Back in the UK, Karen Sinclair continues to get nearer to completing her alphabeteer parkrun challenge, with recent travels to Malling in Kent, Medina on the Isle of Wight, Ifield Mill Pond and Newbury.

Karen has also successfully completed the Old MacDonald parkrun challenge, by completing events that start with each letter depicted in the song Old MacDonald Had a Farm – E-I-E-I-O.

Where next, Karen?

Ann Varnes and Philomel Bennett