Weekly News – Sunday 28th January 2024

All up to date!

Many thanks

to S.Voller, B.Wood & H.Large who have come forward to be a part of a team to support the newsletter going forwards. Ideally, we would like one more person to join this group so each member of the team wrote the news approximately once a month. Are you this person? The newsletter is an important communication method for the club. Please get in touch with Geraint if you can assist.

Please remember that the club is operated entirely by a team of volunteers. Our current committee members and other volunteers are very busy, so it is really good to get different people involved in helping. Things work best when we have logtss of people doing manageable roles. Many hands make light work; and all that!

Yvette’s Epic Adventure: The Montane Winter Spine Challenger South

The Montane Winter Spine Challenger South is a non-stop, 108 mile race along the Pennine Way. Beginning from Edale in Derbyshire to Hawes in North Yorkshire. Runners have 60 hours to complete the course. It’s a race that requires self-sufficiency and self-management, due to the lack of checkpoints along the way, hence the extensive mandatory kit you are required to carry. It’s a physically and mentally demanding route that needs focus, good physical fitness and making wise decisions. It becomes more challenging when you’re battling against the elements of the harsh British Winter conditions. 


“Prepare to take on one of Britain’s Most Brutal endurance races”, seeing that caption makes you think twice about signing up to an event that sounds as horrendous as this. Every year, I’ve always tuned in to follow updates from the Spine races, in awe of these amazing runners enduring such an incredible feat. Never thinking that could be me one day. In July I received an email from the Spine team notifying me that I was off the waiting list and a spot had become available. I was very confused, as I couldn’t recall signing up. I remember thinking this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I didn’t hesitate for too long to register, and I hadn’t done any proper research into the race either, but usually I sign up to races and then deal with it later. Especially, as I had to get through UTMB TDS first in August. 

I find myself signing up to races that have the words brutal, savage, and technical in the sentences, that I question my sanity at times. However, it’s good to try hard things and go beyond our comfort zone. Occasionally, the fear of going longer distances and the unknown holds us back and can influence our decisions of whether we take that leap of faith to try new experiences and test our abilities. But I felt I had enough past experience to give it a try. I haven’t run beyond 100 miles and the longest time I’ve been on my feet is 41.5 hours. What I didn’t take into account in the later months was how expensive it was all going to be. This event comes with a very long kit list and has to meet approval. If you have the wrong kind of kit, then it could jeopardise your race. I did what I could to recce sections of the Challenger South and train consistently, but suddenly race day wasn’t far off and I felt I hadn’t done enough. During Christmas, I became unwell for 2 weeks, which was a massive setback. I could barely run 1-2 km before I had to pause and walk. I even considered DNS and I was too late to defer. So, it was either lose the spot and the money or just start the race and see what happens. With 10 days to go, I did feel better, but panic set in. I still had to buy a few kit items, and I hadn’t trained much with my pack to cope with the weight. I felt annoyed that I didn’t give this race enough respect to be consistent with my training, planning and testing my gear in order to give myself a better chance and be ready.


It’s race day and I kept thinking about how cold it was going to be and how far I would get along the course. Did I mention I absolutely hate the cold!! I had no expectations about how I would do and had accepted a possible DNF, but I had 2 goals. Firstly, to get to the bag drop checkpoint at Hebden Hey Scout Centre at mile 46, and if I felt well to continue, then my next aim was to arrive at the last location I had recced, which was Gargrave at mile 76. Early on into the race I fell twice between the flagstones into the boggy, muddy water. Annoyed that I was cold, wet and had grazed my shin badly. I was a little shaken up, but I composed myself and cracked on. I tried to move as quickly as possible to make the most of the daylight, 46 km and 8 hours into the race it was time to switch to headtorch, the weather had stayed dry and the cold temperatures were manageable. Hebden was the only checkpoint to eat, sleep and change, however on certain sections of the route we were fortunate to have MRT staff (Mountain Rescue Team) and locals provide pop-up aid stations. It was such a treat to have these food/drink supplies! One in particular I was looking forward to was Nicky’s Foodbar where I munched on a bacon bap and sat inside a cosy shipping container. At every aid station I couldn’t resist a cup of tea to perk me up.  From 53km onwards a runner called Pete decided to buddy up with me. I didn’t mind the company and was happy to navigate and lead the way, but we practically paired up and stuck together right up until the end. Arriving at Hebden I was happy to be reunited with my drop bag. The level of support from the volunteers was top noth working around the clock to assist runners. A change of clothes, socks and a serving of pasta, I decided to crawl into my sleeping bag for an hour to snooze. I’m not sure I slept properly as I could hear noises in the background, but it was time to get back out there. Another plate of food, final kit check and we headed out into the darkness around 3am. I was in good spirits and very awake, we had a long way to go, 31km, before we saw another little aid station with supplies. I could feel my feet swelling up, and had the start of friction on my little toes and soles of my feet. I blocked it out and ignored the discomfort, but it meant I couldn’t run much. Sunrise was upon us, we were 24hrs into the race, a glorious morning with stunning views. I wish I had taken more photos, but I didn’t want to faff around with my gloves constantly or trip over. We arrived at the next aid station at 9am for a well deserved rest, another tea and bacon bap. I got a medic to check my toe, and decided to keep it taped up and loosen the laces; I had grown half a shoe size. Gargrave was our next stop, we arrived around 2pm meaning everything was open, whoop!. We chose to sit inside the cosy Daleman Cafe that was recommended, ordered a ham and cheese toastie and a flat white. Also it was a chance to enjoy the luxury of a proper toilet too! A quick trip to CoOp for some extra supplies and we marched on. By this point, I already felt a sense of achievement getting this far into the race and feeling in good form. I felt I was that little bit closer to the finish, but still had a tough second night to get through and still climb up Pen Y Ghent. I tried dehydrated food for the first time. Yuck! 15 min to brew in hot water was too long, so I forced myself to eat it slightly undercooked, but it was a few extra solid calories in the belly.


It wasn’t long before I really felt the conditions get much colder, the temperature had dropped significantly.  I had 5 layers on, buff, beanie and all the hoods over my head, plus 3 layers of gloves and hand warmers. The wind chill got slightly worse and I was just keen to get Pen Y Ghent out the way. Slowly we trekked across Fountains Fell, before dipping down to the foot of Pen Y Ghent and began the climb up. We had another runner join us, Kirstie, and thankfully she quickly guided us as we scrambled to the top of the summit. Carrying a heavy pack and poles made the climb hard. In the dark it was hard to visualise and make sense which way to go and I felt like I was on the edge. I recall reaching the trig and we hugged and kissed the stone with relief. That was the final big climb done. Descending from Pen Y Ghent to Horton was tedious. It wasn’t exactly runnable and I think I cursed and moaned a lot. I wanted to get some momentum on the descent but the path was so rocky, I had to focus extra hard not to kick any rocks and bash my toes. Horton was the last little village before the final push to the finish. We were greeted by more MRT staff who checked on us. I remember shedding a few tears. I think I was in disbelief by this point that I was still on my feet and feeling relatively good. I knew then that the finish was in sight, I just had to dig deep on the final stretch. The three of us had agreed to take a little rest inside the public toilet. Pete and I agreed to sleep for an hour and be ready to set off at 2:30am. I sat on the cold floor with my back against the wall, but I couldn’t get comfortable. So I took my sleeping equipment out, laid the mat on the floor like a tarpaulin and wrapped the sleeping bag around me. I could feel my feet throbbing so I switched myself around by resting my feet against the wall. I was fidgeting, my strategy wasn’t working and couldn’t settle. It was almost pointless taking a break here and perhaps we should have persevered.


The slow slog through Cam High Road just went on forever. This section was my least favourite, and the wind picked up, it felt more exposed and definitely reached minus degrees. Darkness everywhere and no sign of approaching Hawes, our final point. We noticed our flasks were starting to freeze over. I had been warned about this, but didn’t think it was cold enough for that to happen. One of my flasks had Tailwind which stopped the bite valve from freezing whereas the one with water I couldn’t get any fluid out or turn the cap. Good job we didn’t have very far to go. It felt like we weren’t making progress and I was getting grouchy! The lead runner of the Spine race caught up with us and shouted that we had 5km to go. I believed him! Suddenly I felt a surge of energy and urgency to make haste and get it done! (I later found out that it was Kim Collison who was leading). And just like that, we turned off the main track up a little hill and there below in the distance was Hawes. Rewarded with another beautiful sunrise, a few more Spine runners passed us. They looked so fresh and light on their feet and we just looked on in amazement. Touchdown into Hawes, we had a few hundred metres of the main high street, eagerly looking out for the Spine flags, and there it was, inconveniently blocked by a white van, the village Market House entrance. I immediately sat on the steps, shook Pete’s hand and slumped against the wall. I was emotional and in disbelief because I didn’t think it was possible. A unique experience I’ll never forget, genuinely one of the hardest races I’ve done and total admiration for all the runners that have the courage to give these races a go. Spine Challenger South Finisher in 48:04.18, 17/20 Female, 72/98 Overall.


Written by Yvette Casallas

Chepstow 10km Race Report: A Club Championship Contest

A relatively small group of Westbury runners travelled across the Severn Bridge to take part in the Chepstow 10k this morning. The 10k was one of three races around the Horse Racing course. The Half Marathon set off first over 4 laps, 10k next around 2 laps, and finally a 5k of just one lap. The event was well organised and marshalled with no confusion over who was doing what or which way to go! The course was undulating with one particularly nasty hill towards the end of the lap, the surface varied with sections of tarmac but also gravel and even some short sandy sections. What the Westbury Runners lacked in quantity we certainly made up for in quality. Remarkably every single one of us finishing in the top 5 of our respective age categories! A group of us thought it would be amusing to pose on the podium before the race started, fortunately we all finished in podium positions too!

Tamsin was the first Westbury athlete to finish, 3rd female and 1st FV45. Paul the next to finish and pick up maximum Club Championship points was 2nd MV40. There were age category wins for Sophie FV40, Heidi FV50, and Kate FV55. 2nd places for EJ FV50 and Ali FV55. Mark was 3rd MV55, Judy 4th FV55, Heather 5th FV 45 and Richard 5th MV 60. Great running from everyone and lots of Club Championship points! It was a lovely sunny morning, I had great fun with good company, hope everyone else enjoyed themselves!







Written by Mark Andrews

Parkrun Milestones!


The clubhouse was opened on Saturday for post run refreshments and to celebrate Eithne’s 150th Parkrun. Eithne managed to come in exactly 150th (a feat I’ve been advised was unplanned) on the day. What a coincidence and a lovely 150th cake was shared. Fantastic achievement. Well done.

4th Gwent League Fixture

All our teams (seniors / juniors) are doing really well in the league so far. We need you all for the next fixture at Margam Park, on the 10th February.


Juniors, please let your team managers know if you are available. Seniors, please sign up on RunTogether.

Tuesday Night Trail Run

The Tuesday trail run is on this week (30/01/24), at 18:00. Book on via RunTogether.

Tuesday Track Sessions

From February, track session fees (+admin fees) will be taken through RunTogether like our other sessions, so there will be no need to pay Yate directly; as the Club will do this. Please do cancel if you can’t make the session as the track sessions are popular and there has been a waiting list in recent weeks.

The session this week is:
A Pyramid! 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1000m, 800, 600, 400 & 100m with 100m jog recoveries after each interval (except the 1km interval, which is 200m).

If you run regularly at Yate or plan to give track races a go this season, do make sure you have taken advantage of our partnership with Yate AC and joint them for free as an associate Westbury Harriers member.

Wednesday Hill Session

Many thanks to Fliss, who is supporting coaching these sessions since Richard stepped back. We are also grateful for others who are completing their LiRF course to help out to as well. These sessions are covered over the next few months, so please book on via RunTogether.

Thursday Intervals

This week’s session is on the field. It will be:

4x 3min efforts @5-10km pace (1min recoveries), 4x 90s @5k pace (1min recoveries) & 4x 45s @ quicker than 5k pace. Option to drop down to three of each interval length.

Diary Dates

Key; Red = key club team races, Green = club championship race 


Sunday 4th February The Doynton Hard Half Marathon, trail race.

Saturday 10th February 2024 Gwent Cross Country League Margam Park

Sunday 18th February Dursley Dozen Trail Race (Club Championship). https://tinyurl.com/2p8sn7eu

Saturday 24th February National Cross Country Championship, Weston Park.

Sunday 25th February 2024 Bath Two Tunnels Railway Race

Saturday 2nd March 5th Gwent League Pont-y-pŵl (Club Championship)

Sunday 3rd March Newport Half Marathon fullonsport

Saturday 16th March 2024 – Masters Open Cross Country Championships. Corwen, Wales. (Men/Women masters V35, V45, V55, V65 plus)

Saturday 27th April Butcombe Trail Ultra Marathon 50 or 56 mile options

Editor this week

Tamsin Chick is this week’s guest editor. This is the last week of cover by the committee. We will be handing over to the new team from next week.