With eleven weeks to go so far twenty Fairlands Valley Spartans have declared that they are running this April’s London Marathon. Some have qualified on time; some came out of the draw; many are running for charity.

50 Miles for John * Paul’s Enigma * Maddie Second 

With eleven weeks to go so far twenty Fairlands Valley Spartans have declared that they are running this April’s London Marathon.  Some have qualified on time; some came out of the draw; many are running for charity. 


Please support them.  Over the next few weeks several stories on the Spartan entries will be released.  To get the ball rolling


London Marathon – Jim Brown 

Those of you that know Jim will know why he was so pleased to be able to complete the London Marathon in 2014 after a break of four years – and why he was so much slower than he used to be!   Jim thought that “comeback” was his last but it was great fun and he was delighted when the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund gave him the chance to run this year. Brilliant. It’s almost the ideal charity for someone running the London Marathon, all the money raised goes to supporting young athletes. 

So come on everyone.  He’s been given a target of £1500.  Let’s see if we can bust through that – and maybe Jim can be a wee bit quicker than last time.  Please go to now

Jim is press officer and part of the coaching team for Fairlands Valley Spartans.  This will be his 21st London Marathon – 18 running and three helping as a volunteer. 

The Ron Pickering Memorial Fund (RPMF) raises funds to help young aspiring athletes become the next generation of British Olympians 

The RPMF helps recipients make the difficult transition from junior to senior level through support for equipment, specialist coaching or travel and importantly helps build the athletes’ confidence and self esteem through recognition. 

The fund has raised and awarded over £1.5 million in small but significant grants to over 2000 talented young British athletes, including all of the London 2012 Olympic athletics medallists. 

Over 75% of the British athletics team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics had at some stage in their careers received support from the fund.

Ron Pickering, OBE, was one of British sport’s great visionaries.  He was a former Physical Education teacher and national athletics coach, training Lynn Davies to Tokyo Olympic long jump gold.  Ron is best remembered as the voice of athletics during his 25 years spent commentating alongside David Coleman for the BBC and iconic programmes such as Superstars.

When Ron unexpectedly died in 1991, his wife Jean, herself an Olympic medallist from the 1952 Helsinki games, and children Kim and Shaun set up the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to help aspiring young athletes fulfil their potential.

Sadly, Jean passed away in March 2013 but the Fund continues her legacy by supporting the next generation of Olympic champion. 

Jim’s first contact with an Olympian was ROBBIE BRIGHTWELL.  A silver medallist at Tokyo and his geography teacher in 1964.


London Marathon – Grant Ramsay 

GRANT RAMSAY will be running this year’s London Marathon, for his charity Asthma UK.  He will be aiming for another sub 2 hours 40 minutes finish and hopefully smash his 2:37 finish. 

Grant wants London to be a building block for this year’s World Marathon Champs for Veterans in Lyon, where he will be aiming for a top 10 finish (overall), and push on for a time around 2 hours 30.  The champs will take place in August.  He’s feeling very bullish, due to excellent progress being made in training.


London Marathon – Nicola and Richard, Four in Four

Richard Kennedy and Nicola Haberland will be running the London Marathon.

Nicola was lucky enough to get her Virgin London Marathon space in the Fairlands Valley Spartans club ballot and Richard has got a charity place for the Hertfordshire based Animal Care Trust.  Between them they aim to raise £1000 for them. 

Nicola and Richard both love running and to date have run the entire 26.2 miles 6 times.

This year they wanted to challenge themselves a little bit more by running the following four marathons in four weeks (104.8 miles in total by the time they cross the last finish line) to raise money, as mentioned above, for the Animal Care Trust:  Brighton on Sunday 12th April; Bungay on Sunday 19th April; London on Sunday 26th April and Milton Keynes on Monday 4th May. 

Funds raised for the Animal Care Trust not only contribute towards improving animal care, but also support their Care Farm Project which is a series of short farm-based courses and activities aiming to make a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged and disabled individuals who are experiencing social or educational exclusion.

Nicola and Richard are paying all their own expenses so any donations received will go directly to the Animal Care Trust.  They would be extremely grateful and appreciative of any donations members of the public can possibly give, they only need to find 1000 people to all donate £1 each (25p a marathon) and they will hit our target.  Just in case you can include the fundraising information here are their Just Giving page details: 

Just Giving Website: 

Alternatively you can text:  Text: NHRK47, followed by the amount, e.g. £1, £2,£5.  To: 70070 

As said above they both really love running, it’s a great way to keep fit, meet other people and feel a real sense of personal achievement each time they cross a finish line at a race. 

They say their love of running has only been enhanced even more since becoming members of Fairlands Valley Spartans in November 2013.  All the coaches (and all fellow FVS members) they run with are so encouraging and they both feel they have benefited and developed so much more as runners since joining the club.  They encourage anyone interested in running or thinking about starting to run to join the club.

Since starting running back in the summer of 2006 their main aim has always been to run the London marathon.  This is the first time we will be running the London marathon, so it is really exciting. 

They both remember watching the London marathon on the television when we were little admiring all those 1000s of runners raising money for such good causes, and now this year they are both so lucky enough to have places as well. 

Nicola’s personal best to date was at the Stevenage Marathon last year which was 3 hours 49 minutes and 21 seconds.  This year she is hoping to go under 3 hours 45 minutes. 

Richard’s personal best to date was at the Abingdon marathon last year which was 3 hours 30 minutes and 6 seconds.  This year he is hoping to go under 3 hours 20 minutes 

For more information please contact Nicola Haberland – Email:

Tel: 07946 786 336 or Richard Kennedy – Email: rtckennedy@gmail.comTel: 07814 166 765


Got a place in the London Marathon?   

Got a Place in the London Marathon on 26 April?  Every year Fairlands Valley Spartans successful train thirty or more people, many of them first timers, to run the London Marathon.  There are training groups from starters to fast fives to suit everyone with sessions available five days a week.   Why not have a look at or contact Jim Brown 0793 968 7509 or Karen Palmer 0773 467 8566?  Newcomers very welcome.


Nelms Goes Ultra 

JOHN NELMS completed the Thames Trot 50 mile trail race in 10 hours 43 minutes.  He wants to thank all the coaches and fellow runners at Fairlands Valley Spartans who have encouraged him and helped him train for this ultra marathon event.


Paul’s Enigma 

PAUL HOLGATE ignored the snow showers to take the opportunity for a Thursday marathon in Milton Keynes consisting of 7.5 laps around a very cold Caldecote Lake.  He finished in a very satisfying 5 hours 26 minutes 23 seconds.


Maddie Second In 5K 

MADDIE PRITCHARD ran the Norton 5K in Norton, Letchworth on Saturday morning.  It was icy and muddy but she still finished in an excellent time of 22 minutes 11 seconds  Maddie was second lady, and 13th overall.   CRAIG BACON was 17th in 22:42.  There were 63 finishers.


Parkrun Report 

This Saturday’s Parkrun down the A1 had drama and some pretty fast action for the boys from the Spartans at Barnet.  Oak Hill was the venue and is one of the fastest parkrun courses in North London.  Danik aiming to beat his course personal best (PB) of 20-06 (and maybe an overall PB) and Thomas Sauka improving all the time on the circuit.  However there was some drama before the start after the warm-up where Danik’s laces couldn’t be sorted out before getting to the start on time.

During the run after taking the lead, good pacing, all was going well until after 3.5km mark where Daniel Bates laces became undone and took around twenty seconds to sort out with cold hands.  Dropping places and around twenty valuable seconds and finishing 9th with a time of 20-09. Thomas Sauka put in another superb performance to wrap up the run in 21-29 (14th).  There were 90 runners in this week’s run.

Down the road at our favourite local course of Panshanger (Hertford), Daniel Sutton was first Spartan home finishing 27th (out of 171 runners) with a time of 22-12, Mark Allen finished with a time of 23-15 with Verity Fisher not far behind in 23-34.  Emma Kinsley powered home in 25-20.  

At St Albans Graham Hill completed the three laps of the lakes next to the beautiful cathedral in 32-33 (256th out of 311 runners).


Met X/C at the Scrubs 

GRANT RAMSAY raced in the final match of the Metropolitan Cross Country League at Wormwood Scrubs, London on Sunday. 

Over five miles he was 63rd out of 400 runners in 28 minutes 19 seconds.  Grant was 54th in the overall classification for the whole series and fifth in the very tight veterans contest – he missed out on winning by only four points.


Punchbowl Marathon 

On Sunday CAROL PAUL and MIKE NEWBITT took part in the Punchbowl Marathon which is 30 miles off road taking in the Devils Punchbowl.  On a lovely sunny day Carol completed the event in 7:12:10 and Mike completed it in 7:52:30.


Got a place in the London Marathon?   

Got a Place in the London Marathon?  Every year Fairlands Valley Spartans successful train thirty or more people, many of them first timers, to run the London Marathon.  There are training groups from starters to fast fives to suit everyone.  Why not have a look at or contact Jim Brown 0793 968 7509 or Karen Palmer 0773 467 8566?  Newcomers very welcome.


Coming Events 

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

  • Cross Country League at Therfield Heath, Royston on Sunday 15th February.
  • Bramley 20 mile road race on Sunday 15th February.
  • Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday evening 19th February.
  • Serpentine 5K on Friday 27th February.
  • Presentation Evening, Dinner and Dance at Chesfield Downs on Friday 27th February. Tickets available now.
  • County Veterans Five Mile Championship, and open road race, at Berkhamsted on Sunday 1st March.
  • Finchley 20 mile road race on Sunday 8th March.
  • Silverstone Half Marathon on Sunday 15th March.
  • Handicap 5K in Stevenage on Thursday evening 19th March.
  • County Cross Country Championships for Veterans in Trent Park on Sunday 22nd March.
  • Welwyn Garden City Half Marathon on Sunday 22nd March.
  • Serpentine 5K in Hyde Park on Friday 27th March.
  • Orion 15 classic cross country on Saturday 28th March.
  • Oakley 20 mile road race on Sunday 29th March.
  • Maidenhead Easter Ten on Friday 3rd April.
  • Sandy 10 mile road race on Sunday 12th April.
  • Flitwick 10K on Sunday 19th April.
  • London Marathon on Sunday 26th April.
  • County 1500 metres track championship in Stevenage on Monday 4th May.
  • County 5 miles senior championships at Pednor on Monday evening 4th May.
  • Bushy 10K including Herts Veterans road championships on Sunday 5th July.
  • County 10000 metres track championship in Biggleswade on Thursday 9th July.
  • County and Open 3K Relay Championship in Stevenage on Thursday 30th July.
  • County 5K Senior Championships on 2nd September.
  • County 5K Veterans Championship on 16th September.
  • Standalone 10K (inc. country senior champs) in Letchworth on Sunday 4th October.
  • Stevenage Half Marathon (includes County Veterans) on Sunday 1st November.
  • County 10 miles Veterans Championship at Buntingford on 27th December.



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 hundreds of 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, Telford Avenue, 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 9.00a.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 yet done very much running 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), Karen Palmer (07734678566) or visit their website 



More from Jim Brown (Press Officer) 0793 968 7509 or Karen Palmer (Secretary) 07734678566

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