News Newsletter





Fairlands Valley Spartans hosted another successful event on Thursday evening – the 3K Relay event- when nearly 400 runners completed the relay course. There were 47 women’s teams comprised of 3 runners and 50 men’s teams comprised of 5 runners.  Provisional results can be found on the Spartans website at but in the individual results the first man was James McMurray of St Albans Striders and the first woman was Lizzie Bird of Garden City Runners.


Krakow Park Run 5k, Poland.


Andy Neatham came  2nd in this race in a time of 17.57. which is a Vet PB by 1second and broke the Age group course record by over 30 seconds.


Thunder Run 24 hour Race


Spartans enjoyed a challenging weekend on Derbyshire for a 24 hour race on a very hilly course. The torrential rain and thunder storms were very apt for the Thunder Run race name and the dark, very muddy and slippery course resulted in some long, soul searching runs through the night. The format of the race was that in teams you each ran a 10k before passing the baton on to your next team member.


Three Spartans were in a team of five who came second, these were Todd Gray, Andrew Patterson and the stand out performance by Simon Jackson who accounted for 8 of the teams 31 laps.


Other Spartans enjoying the race included Kerry, Nikki Andrews and Darren Wilby.
The race was a fantastic event and thoroughly recommended


Spartan triple take on Northampton marathon double.


Three Spartans made the short trip to Brackmill Reservoir, just to the South of Northampton.


The trail marathon venue was at the Holiday Inn, and featured six laps each day around the reservoir on a mixture of surfaces.  The big killer for running marathons is the heat, and yet again the country was blessed with warm, sunny & muggy weather. The times reflected the conditions, as the Spartan trio took on the weather to complete 26.2 miles each day.

Day 1 (Saturday 27th)

Roger Biggs 4:28:10, Carol Paul 4:53:53 & Mike Newbitt 5:41:13

Day 2 (Sunday 28th)

Roger Biggs 4:44:25, Carol Paul 5:09:22 & Mike Newbitt 5:15:16




DAVE BOWKER was selected to represent Hertfordshire in the Senior Inter County Match in Abingdon recently.  He achieved a new personal best of 17 minutes 27 seconds (compared with 18:49!) and third place in the 3,000 metres walk.  The men’s team placed second overall.


A few days later he won the EVAC (Eastern Veterans) Five Mile Championship for men aged 50 plus with a time of 32 minutes 13 seconds.


Monica’s Gold


After a few weeks of enforced rest due to injuries an apprehensive Monica Brown turned up at Oxford for the British Master’s W45 Heptathlon. The decision to race over the 80m hurdles in trainers, to lessen the impact on a tender Achilles, was a good one as Monica was rewarded with a pb of 16.34 seconds. This was followed by a high jump of 1.33, 6.82 for shot and 29.08 (sb) for 200m which meant she finished day one in the lead by almost 500 points.


On day two Monica knew she had to try to keep her lead going into the long jump and javelin as she would lose considerable points over the 800m, her weakest event. A long jump of 4.20 and a javelin pb of 17.71 meant she was still in the lead with just the 800m to go. Despite finishing 37 seconds behind her rival, Monica’s time of 3.17.15 for the 800m was enough to win the gold with a new heptathlon pb score of 3603.


Second claim Spartan Louise Oliver also competed in the younger W40 age group. In a very tight competition Louise did 80m hurdles in 15.40, high jump 1.39, shot 10.14, 200m 28.26, long jump 4.60, javelin 29.32 and 800m 2.57.35 for the silver medal.




DANIEL BATES did the Wimpole Estate Parkrun near Royston recently.  He was 12th of 124 with a time of 20 minutes 46 seconds.


Then he did the Highbury Fields parkrun in Islington, London on Saturday 27 July and finished 21st out of 94 with a time of 20:41.


On Sunday Daniel competed in the 10 mile race organised by Harlow Runners Club at Harlow.  He had a great start, was a bit slow between mile 3 and mile 6 but managed to do 5km pace after that to recoup loss of time, and finished 57th out 249 runners with a time of 01.12.47.


Coming Events


Many Spartans will be enjoying a busy programme of races, social and training events over the next few weeks including the:


  • Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday 5th September
  • Club Five Mile Team Champs on Tuesday 10th September
  • Herts Senior 5K Championships in WGC on Tuesday 24th September
  • County 10K Championships in Letchworth on Sunday 6th October
  • Herts Veterans 5K Championships in WGC on Tuesday 8th October
  • County 10 Mile Championships for veterans on Sunday 27th October
  • Stevenage Half Marathon on Sunday 3rd November
  • County Ten Miles Championship in Buntingford on 30th December 2013


Join The Spartans


Live in or near Stevenage?  Like running?  Fairlands Valley Spartans is your local running club and is on the up!  The club was voted the UK’s Best Running Club in 2010.  It now has about 400 members and encourages participation by all.  The Spartans have a varied training programme to suit those who want to run 5 kilometres through to full marathons. 


The Spartans weekday training sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Go along to the new sports centre at Marriotts School – a Sports College, Brittain Way, Stevenage (SG2 8UT) at 7p.m.  Up to five running groups go out on training nights – there will be one to suit you!


The Spartan Starter group starts from Marriotts at 7.30p.m. every Monday (except public holidays) and 7p.m. every Thursday.


Most long Sunday morning training sessions start 9.30a.m. sharp.  Spartan track training sessions are held at Ridlins Athletics Track, Woodcock Road, Stevenage most Saturdays from 9.15a.m.  There are events to enter every Sunday.  Newcomers are very welcome – those who have not done very much running yet might prefer to start with a Thursday, Saturday or Monday session. 


Try a few sessions before joining.  Membership is only £35 per year, £25 without UKA membership.  Concessions are available.  Membership forms are available on the Spartans website  Please ask if you would like a paper copy. 


If you want to know more about the Spartans please contact Jim Brown (0793 968 7509 or 01438 354505), Vivienne Honey 07702 846304 or visit their website




More from Jim Brown (Press Officer) 0793 968 7509 / 01438 354505 or Vivienne Honey (Secretary) 07702 846304

Club Spartan in the spotlight

Spartan in the Spotlight – Meet Rhiannon



Hello and welcome to the next in our series of Spartan in the Spotlight. Today we meet Rhiannon Griffin, another award winner from the FVS Presentation night in January. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the lady who has been in the local media many times in the last year.

Name: Rhiannon Griffin.

Occupation: Full-time Mother to my 21month old.

When did you join FVS ? End of May 2012.

Why did you join the FVS ?
Why did you join the FVS ? My main reason for joining was to get myself back to being active again from 
having a baby and to help shift the baby weight. I used to go running with the buggy twice a week at 
a club called "Buggycise". We all used to run round Fairlands lakes with our buggys then stop at stations
to do lunges, press ups, sprints and tummy exercises. During the sprints I was always the fastest and 
one of the ladies, who was a Spartan (ahem Sam Franklin), suggested I give Spartans a try as I had a 
bit of a natural speed and nack for running. I joined in with the Stater group and loved it. I then 
progressed fairly rapidly through the groups and I'm now in group 4 and being coached by Richard Bate to 
help me reach even higher :)
As a running club, what does FVS mean to you and provide you with ? 

In my world of running FVS will always represent my Home. It's where I've started and where I've 
grown. Its full of so many friendly faces and already so many good memories.  

Whats been your racing highlight to date, since joining the Spartans and why?
The 5k I did last Septmeber was awesome. Beautifully hot day and i got a a sub 20min time on my second 
ever time running a 5k. Got second lady and ladies team winner in the county race and came away with 
a few little trophies and a medal and then my picture was in the paper a few days later as well:)

Which race has been the best you have taken part in and why ?
Oh wow well... I did the County indoor championships last weekend and that was immense, a real taste 
for how my Summer of track racing will be. I loved the Herts County-Cross country Championships in 
Broxbourne because the course was so ridiculously tough and muddy, I fell over so many times it was 
hilarious and 
great fun. I did the 18mile off road challenge last year too and that was great getting out running 
for hours in the fields and woods. I did the new years eve Ely 10k and that was sooo hard! it was 
basically just running into the strongest head wind for the duration and it just made me laugh. I just 
love racing actually. 

What is your favourite running distance(s) ?
I love Short distance and I love track running. My most enjoyable distance to run is probably 150-300m 
(not that I race that distance), although I'm in training to specialise in 800m. I'm still yet to 
actually run 1500m and who knows what I'll end up liking most. I've done a lot of longer distance stuff 
(ie: 10k, 5k) and cross-county over the winter to build up my strength. And whilst I've enjoyed it, it 
has all been to help me with the track racing. I'm still in my 1st years training and this summer will 
help me determine where my strengths in running lay and clarify which distance is my forte.  

What are your running goals for the future, either short term, medium or long term goals?

Short term: I want to sub 2:30 800m. Middle term: i would love to make the top 200 or even 100 female 
800m runner in England. Long Term: I'm just going to persevere and see where these little legs will take me.

What other Sports and hobbies do you have in your spare time ? 

I do Pilates once a week now to compliment my Running. I Cycle to and from all my training sessions. And 
once a week I push a very heavy buggy full of shopping back from Tesco haha. Not to mention at lease 15 
mins of each day are dedicated to dancing around the room with 2 stones worth of cute blonde girl. 

Then finally (I have started,  so I will finish)  whats the most interesting fact about you, that 
your friends at the running club would not be aware of ? 

Ermm... I was a county gymnast when I was about 18 (but don't ask me to do a back flip because I'd 
probably seriously hurt myself ), and I'm also a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate (although I 
haven't actually done any karate since I was about 19!!)

Oh yeah, and if it wasn't for getting pregnant with Molly I'd probably just be another girl working in 
Costa right now...

Thanks Rhiannon for answering all of these,   very insightful and interesting stuff.  On behalf of 
FVS then we need to thank your daughter for getting you into running in the first place  !!  
Good luck with your goals.

Tune in again here soon for the next in the series of SITP,  which next time will be featuring 
Mr Andy Prior.

Club Spartan in the spotlight

Spartans in the Spotlight, Meet Ann Tryssesoone



Next in the very popular series taking an in depth look at our fantastic running club members,  is Ann Tryssesoone who has been a member with us for over 10 years now,  loves the mud and recently celebrated a very well deserved Most Improved female award at FVS Presentation night in January.

So a huge congrats to Anne and thanks for the following interview:


Veterinary Surgeon: qualified in Belgium in 1990 and shipped over here the same year

When did you join the FVS ?

Gosh… many moons ago but if I remember correctly it must be a decade ago

Why did you join the FVS ?

Got a bit tipsy on a New Years party and boosted to a friend that I am getting fit and wouldn’t mind doing a marathon. I had never run in my life!!! She – a regular runner – informed me of the distance involved. I gulped and agreed to run a half together. Got the shoes and started to run: 1min on – 1min off. It turned out to be 15 seconds run and 2 hours recovery as my lungs were burning. I sort of gave up but didn’t tell my friend. She didn’t mention the half for a whole year then she informed me that she had entered us both for the Silverstone half a marathon. I ran it and kept running ever since.

As a running club, what does FVS mean to you and provide you with ?

FVS stood for Friends, Variety in training and being Slow. Now I have changed the s for Speed (sort of – in my mind)  but still enjoy the friendship and running in a group.

What’s been your racing highlight to date, since joining the Spartans and why.

There has been many highlights to date however receiving the “most improved female runner of 2012” award has got to be it. The award was totally unexpected but proves that consistency pays off.

Which race has been the best you have taken part in and why ?

It has to be my 1st half a marathon at Silverstone: I didn’t think I could run the distance.

What is your favourite running distance(s) ?

I enjoy muddy and hilly cross country races and half marathons.

What are your running goals for the future, either short term, medium or long term goals.

My main goal is to remain fit and injury free. I have been plagued by shin splint for a long time therefore very weary of anything over half a marathon. I hope to run a few half’s at the end of the year.

What other Sports and hobbies do you have in your spare time ?

Time permitting I like gardening, photography and love painting (canvas). I also enjoy travelling.

What’s the most interesting fact about you, that your friends at the running club would not be aware of ?

When I was young and beautiful (in my late teens) my brother and I competed in Latin and ballroom dancing. Never made it to Strictly…

Thanks very much Ann for taking the time for this.   If your interested in becoming a future Spartan in the Spotlight,  then please contact Andy Jay at the club or leave a comment here.


Spartan in the spotlight

Meet Davie Stafford


Welcome to the next in our series of Spartans in The Spotlight,  a fascinating insight into the lifes of our fantastic runners.  This month we feature Davie Stafford who has been with FVS since 2010 and doing extremely well with the club,  with many Personal Bests and a first marathon in 2012.    So what can we tell you about Davie…..


Occupation: Self Employed/Window Cleaner


Family: wife Hailey, Daughter Isla-May


When did you join FVS ?  2010


Why did you join the FVS ?  Because i felt i needed i new fitness challenge, FVS was local & recommended through a friend.


As a running club,  what does FVS mean to you and provide you with ?  Provides a very good training programme. I like to be committed something and achieving my goals.


Whats been your racing highlight to date,  since joining the Spartans and why. Running my first marathon in MK 2012 and i’m happy I have achieved a PB in every race (so far!)


Which race has been the best you have taken part in and why ? St Neots half marathon, as it was a lovely course & enjoyed running it.


What is your favourite running distance(s) ? 10miles/half marathons


What are your running goals for the future,  either short term,  medium or long term goals. My main goal is to get into the london marathon (fouth time lucky this year, i hope). Sub 1hr 30 half marathon. Continue to achieve my pb’s in every race i enter.


What other Sports and hobbies do you have in your spare time ? none


Whats the most interesting fact about you,  that your friends at the running club would not be aware of ?
I was a qualified chef before i owned my own window cleaning company


Thanks Davie,  so clearly you are loving your racing and setting some great Personal Bests along the way.  Congratulations on your first Marathon in 2012.  Good luck with your targets in 2013.


Next up in the spotlight Series,  I will be catching up with the FVS Most Improved female and Most Improved Male – so stay tuned to this channel !!!!
Andy Jay.
Spartan in the spotlight

Meet your Chairman, Beverley Harlow

FVS Chairman
FVS Chairman

New Year,  New Chairman.  Welcome to the next in the popular series of Spartans in the Spotlight.  I recently caught up with Beverley for our Spartan in the Spotlight series:

Name:  Beverley Harlow

Occupation: Formerly Deputy Headteacher at a Secondary school teaching music, now retired.

Family: Married to John — no children but one lovely dog called Meg who is a fair weather runner

When did you join the Spartans: I joined the Spartans in 1991.

Why did you join the Spartans: I decided to enter the London Marathon intending to walk as I hated any form of running. When my confirmation of entry arrived through the post it included a training plan. I started running on 1st January that year and my first run(jog )nearly killed me, but, being of a slightly obsessive nature, I followed the plan to the letter and joined the Spartans after about a month. I haven’t stopped running since!

Tell us all about the role(s) you play within the club: Last year I became a club coach having completed the LiRF course. I also joined the committee and was elected Vice-chair. This year I have taken on the chairmanship — I suspect it will be a steep learning curve, but it is time for me to give something back to the club after 21 years.

What has been your Racing highlight to date, since joining the Spartans and why. This is a difficult one — I decided to try for a marathon pb last year to celebrate 20 years of running and achieved that at Chester. Other highlights over the years have been my first London marathon and last years VLM. Also my Olympic Park run in March was amazing and a lovely precursor to my time in the park as a Gamesmaker in the summer.

Have you ever represented your running club in a race overseas? I love going to a foreign city and running a half marathon or other distance. I have been lucky enough to compete in Prague, Paris, Stockholm,  New York, Reno (USA), Montagu and Port Elizabeth (South Africa) and in Wiarton in Canada. I always look for a race to enter if I am going away.

What are your running goals for the future. I aim to continue running for as long as I am able. I think it is fantastic to see older runner into their 70s and 80s still running and competing. I run because I can. I aim to get as close to my half-marathon pb as possible at Edinburgh in 2013.

What other Sports and hobbies do you have in your spare time when you’re not running? I am the organist and choirmaster at St. Mary the Virgin church in Walkern and that takes up most Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I also really enjoy walking and cycling (slowly). I love photography and am learning to play bridge.

Whats the most interesting fact about you, that your friends at the running club would not be aware of ?  I am aunt to Olympian Goldie Sayers who has been the UK record holder for the last ten years.

Wow thanks to Chairman Beverley for a fascinating insight,  especially the Aunty news at the end !!   Thanks for taking the time to do this. 

Readers, hope you enjoyed this and please feel free to catch up further with Bev at the many FVS training sessions and of course at our major Annual FVS Presentation Evening on 25th January at Knebworth Barns.  Tickets available online from the main page.


Andy Jay.