Category Archives: Reports

2018 Round The Island Race Report

2018 Round The Island All Terrain Running Race Report
2018 Round the Island Race – Start

Here are the race positions from the Lions Round the Island All Terrain Race:

First Male Thomas Beedell 1hr 20 mins 25 sec No 204
First Female Sarah Stradling 1hr 34 mins 24 sec No 243
First Mens Team Colchester Harriers
First Womens Team St Edmund Pacers
First Mens Veteran Brian Rogers 1hr 44mins 34 secs No 25
First Women Veteran Brigid Wallen 1hr 54 mins 6 secs No 26
First young man Benjamin Splam 1hr 53 mins 38 secs No 24
First young women Jess Gooderham 1hr 52 mins 41 secs No 97

It was a really hot day for the runners and the course was tough as
well. However they all enjoyed it but did suffer a bit with the heat.

The race started on the beach at the the bottom of Willoughby Car Park. We watched as they disappeared along the beach towards the boardwalk. Having retired to Willoughby car park us Lions, s.m.i.l.e.s and spectators awaited their return. One hour and 20 mins later after running 13.1 miles the first runner came in to view and crossed the line.

This year the Lions, for the first time used an electronic tagging
system which worked well by timing all the runners taking part.

Thank you all for taking part and a special thank you to all the
Marshalls that helped us make this event a success.

Also thank you to our sponsors regional Life and Blackwater Estates.

Roy Chamberlain race Co-ordinator

Click here for picture gallery
Click here for full results

2014 Five and Ten Mile Race Report


The Starting Line – Mersea Lions 5 & 10 Mile Races 2014 – Photo by Leigh Brooksbank
The Starting Line – Mersea Lions 5 & 10 Mile Races 2014 – Photo by Leigh Brooksbank

When you see one of the runners lining up at the start wearing an “Asbel Kiprop” running vest you know he means business. (Kiprop was a 1500m Olympic gold medal winner in 2008.). Paul Davis of Mersea Cycles, who had agreed to lead runners on the first lap of the course, looked worried. Would he be able to keep in front?

It was actually Tom Payn from Tiptree who was wearing that famous shirt and not Asbel Kiprop, but Paul still had his work cut out keeping in front of Tom, who led from start to finish annihilating the opposition in the Mersea 10 mile race, to win the Mens Trophy – over 3 minutes ahead of second placed runner Joe Skipper. After crossing the finishing line Tom decided that whilst waiting for the presentation ceremony he would wind down by running an additional 5 miles, surprising marshals who couldn’t believe their eyes as he sped past overtaking many of the runners out on course.

Mayor Peter Clements, MBE, presents the Winner's Cup to Thomas Payn, winner of the 10 Mile Race. Photo courtesy of Terry Turner
Mayor Peter Clements, MBE, presents the Winner’s Cup to Thomas Payn, winner of the 10 Mile Race. Photo courtesy of Terry Turner

Now if you think that was impressive, what about the second placed man, Joe Skipper? Not only had he cycled from Lowestoft to take part, he cycled home after the event with 2 colleagues who had also raced!

Also putting in a very fast run to win the 10 mile Ladies Trophy was Charlotte Firth from Bracknell, who recorded 61.1 and incredibly was placed 5th overall. Charlotte is ranked in the top 400 runners in the country, and competes for Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow AC.

The winner of the Mens 5 mile race had won the 10 mile race in 2013 — Paul Holley from Newmarket Runners. Local girl Debbie Cattermole from Colchester Harriers won the 5 mile Ladies Trophy, whilst her father John was one of the on-course marshals.
It was great to see Peter Downing from Hempnall in Norfolk again. He won the Wheelchair Trophy. Paul has been coming to Mersea and racing for well over 25 years.

There was a record number of entries this year with 363 runners registered to race, the majority of whom had taken advantage of our new on-line pre entry/pre payment system, and had come from as far afield as Yorkshire to take part.

photo by Leigh Brooksbank
photo by Leigh Brooksbank

Runners safety is always of paramount importance, and over 70 marshals are needed for this event. Very many thanks to Sue Wray and Simon Moran from Mersea and Colchester Boot Camps respectively, who found us the additional marshals we needed over and above local volunteers. It was also good to see so many Boot Camp runners competing in both races this year.

Also MI Lions extend sincere thanks to Paul Davis, our lead cyclist, Ann and Geoff Pearce for the loan of their summer house for race control, Peter and Mary Duerden and Nicky Willmott for ‘manning’ race control, Terry Walker who processed many of the entries, and of course a huge “thank you” to all the marshals out on the course and in the car park, including the Witham Lions Club members who came a fair way to help. MI Lions also wish to record their thanks to Colchester CBC and WMTC Parking Partnership and to Leigh Brooksbank and Terry Turner whose excellent photographs can be viewed and purchased via our 2014 5 & 10 Mile Race Photos page.

photo by Terry Turner
photo by Terry Turner

Finally, we are indebted to our long time local sponsor Alan Clayton of C.C. Discount Heating (Colchester) Limited, without whose generous support we could not have raised this year’s massive record sum of £3,180. These funds will be distributed by MI Lions in the usual way to mainly local charities.




1ST 10 MILE RACE               THOMAS PAYN  IN 52:40
2ND 10 MILE RACE               JOE SKIPPER IN 56:03
3RD 10 MILE RACE               PAUL DOBSON IN 59:13

45+ MEN:                            TERRY BACK IN 1:04:50
WHEELCHAIR:                     PETER DOWNING

1ST 10 MILE RACE               CHARLOTTE FIRTH  IN 1:01:12
2ND 10 MILE RACE              EMMA BURGESS IN 1:08:39
3RD 10 MILE RACE               AMANDA HENRY IN 1:08:47

40+ LADIES:                         KATRINA FINCH IN 1:13:29
LADIES TEAM:                     COLCHESTER HARRIERS: EMMA BURGESS, AMANDA HENRY,                                                               ANDREA JAMES

1ST 5 MILE RACE                 PAUL HOLLEY  IN 28:17
2ND 5 MILE RACE                STEVE HEWES IN 28:43
3RD 5 MILE RACE                STUART PUTT IN 29:25

1ST 5 MILE RACE                 DEBBIE CATTERMOLE  IN 35:46
2ND 5 MILE RACE                REBECCA PITTMAN IN 36:03
3RD 5 MILE RACE                PAULA REYNOLDS IN 37:23

Tim Densham, Race Organiser
A pdf version of this report is available here: 2014 5 and 10 Mile Race Report

2014 Round the Island Race Report


Start of the 2014 Round the Island Race - photo courtesy of Tori Andrews Photography
Start of the 2014 Round the Island Race – photo courtesy of Tori Andrews Photography

Sun shining, sea sparkling, circa. 76 volunteer marshals/stewards in position, and Willoughby Avenue car park almost full to capacity – all before 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 22nd June. It was definitely all systems “go” for Mersea’s historic Round the Island all terrain running race.

This year a record 351 runners registered to run, and the majority were accompanied by their families and/or friends and supporters, who flocked to the beach in front of Two Sugars Café to hear final instructions given to the runners by Deputy Mayor Cllr Bev Perkins, who then gave the “off” signal, and the competitors were cheered on their way.

The race’s reputation for being one of the most gruelling events in the running calendar does not seem to detract from its popularity, with runners coming from all over the UK. This year we believe it is the first time the race has gone “international”, with three runners from the USA (two from Arizona and one from New Hampshire) and one from France. It is, however, always great to see Mersea runners, who this year included Bob Norton (the oldest competitor) and three members of the Sunnocks family. This year two members of Mersea Island Football Club – Jack Sheeran and Gavin Iliffe – competed. The youngest competitor was 17 year old Abigail Morgan of Tiptree. Second youngest, by just 3 months, was George Mcarthy of Great Dunmow. Two Army competitors, dressed in combat uniform and carrying 35lb back packs, completed the race side by side. They were cheered to the line, with extra loud applause for the petite female soldier, whose physique belied her strength and sheer determination not just to complete the course, but also to record a good time.

In addition to the normal marshalling positions, there have to be “sweepers”, who follow the runners round the entire course to ensure those who sustain an injury, or just drop out, are accounted for. This year Sue Wray from Mersea Boot Camp ran behind the runners until they came off the boardwalk at Coast Road, where Paul Davis and Sam Mussett were waiting with their cycles. This really is an “all terrain” race, and for the parts of the course which were not able to be cycled, Paul and Sam became the strong men of Mersea, hoisting their bikes aloft and carrying them to the next rideable section.

Due to erosion of parts of the sea wall during the winter, caused mainly by tidal surges, several detours had to be made this year, adding an additional mile onto the usual distance. The official race distance has changed over the years, as old GPS equipment was not 100% accurate, but this year new technology enabled a more precise reading to be taken which, including detours, registered a distance of 13.2 miles.

Despite the course taking in some of our most beautiful and unspoilt countryside, none of the runners had time to take in the views. With uneven surfaces, long grass and the inevitable rabbit holes to avoid, it was more a matter of focusing eyes on the ground all the way. However, many of the runners commented on how encouraging it had been to see so many spectators along the route – even on remote tracks – all urging them on.

Robert Reason - this year's winner
Robert Reason – this year’s winner

To ensure the runners took on sufficient liquid there were five water stations around the course and a final one at the finish. In view of the extended distance the first runner was not expected to appear on Victoria Esplanade until at least 12 noon. It was therefore a surprise when the marshal positioned at the junction of Victoria Esplanade and Seaview Holiday Park alerted the stewards waiting at the finish line in Willoughby Avenue car park, that the first runner had just passed him. Just a few seconds later No 347 turned into the car park to cross the finish line. This was none other than Robert Reason of Harwich Runners, who recorded a time of 1:20:36. Just 3 minutes behind him was Carwyn Jones of Colchester Harriers (1:23:55) and third was Andrew Jopson of Tiptree Road Runners in 1:24:33. Carwyn had led the field for part of the race, and having come second last year was disappointed to have been placed second again. Reason must have a full set of Mersea running race trophies, having previously won the 10 miles, 5 miles, and on more than one occasion, the RTI. Carwyn expressed a determination to return in 2015 for another attempt to lift the winning trophy. (It is possible Carwyn – he can be beaten!)

Laura Shrewbridge - Ladies Winner
Laura Shrewbridge – Ladies Winner

The first and second ladies to cross the line were Colchester Harriers, Laura Shewbridge (1:35:40), and Alice Addison (1:37.07). The “Over 40” Female trophy went to Jane Nodder of Sepentine Running Club (1:47:36) and the winner of the trophy for “Over 45” Male was Dave Cox (1:27:37). Tiptree Road Runners won the Mens Team trophy and Colchester Harriers took the Ladies Team trophy.

An incredible amount of time and effort by many people goes into organising this event, the profits from which benefit mainly Mersea Island charities. Mersea Island Lions would particularly like to thank sponsors Mersea Life and Blackwater Estates, Ann and Geoff Pearce for the invaluable use of their summer house for “Race Control”, Paul Davis and Sam Mussett, Sue and Neil Wray of Mersea Boot Camp, Stuart Devonish for the very kind loan of a scaffolding tower, photographer Tori Andrews and all the volunteer marshals and stewards who willingly gave up their time to make this event such a resounding success. Lions would also like to thank Paul Button of Essex Outdoors, Dougal Urquhart of Cudmore Grove, Coopers Beach and Seaview Holiday Parks and WMTC/Colchester Borough Council Parking Partnership, for their much appreciated co-operation and help in staging this event. Last but not least we need to thank the competitors themselves, who actually pay to enter this gruelling race! We couldn’t hold the running race events without you all – your help really is very much appreciated. Early estimates show circa. £2,750 was raised which will be distributed by Lions to mainly MI charities.

And was there a “downside” to this amazing day, which raises so much money for local charities? Of course, every event has a negative, and this one was no exception. Perhaps it’s indicative of the society in which we live, or perhaps it’s because we don’t understand those who don’t appreciate the Mersea way of life and traditional values. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised or upset, but we would just like to say to the drivers of the vehicles who declined to heed signs or marshals requests to stop to allow the runners to cross Colchester Road – we hope you reached your destination safely and enjoyed your day on our beautiful island.

The next Mersea Island Lions (and last of this year) running race is scheduled for Sunday, 24th August. If you have a couple of hours you could spare, and would like to join our band of volunteer marshals, please contact Tim Densham (01206 386220 or e-mail ) who will be please d to provide more details – without commitment!

Photos provided by ToriAndrews ( ) and Neil Wray ( )


2013 Five and Ten Mile Race Report

Report 2013 Five and Ten Mile Race

This year the race organisers had to contend with a rather unusual problem – the car park in which runners assemble, and which is used as “Race Control”, was invaded by travellers the day before the race!  At one stage concern was expressed that it might not be possible to hold the event, but thanks to the quick response and co-operation of Colchester’s Parking Partnership, local Councillors, a vigilant local resident, and Police, a possible confrontation was averted and the race(s) went ahead as planned, with the travellers occupying an area towards the back half of the car park.  It later transpired that members of the Regatta Fair, who had their vehicles in the car park, had first alerted the Police to the situation, and it was due to their initial alarm call that a further approaching convoy of travellers was prevented access.  As it was, the presence of the travellers created a number of problems for the organisers, who in true Mersea fashion, remained stoic throughout the day.   At least the weather performed as scheduled, and with a blue sky, sparkling sea and onlookers lining the start it made for a perfect day. This year there were some 266 entries, and the runners chatted amicably as they lined up on Victoria Esplanade at the start.  However, as the Mayor, Peter Clements MBE, called them to order concentration took over, and once he had given the “off” signal a competitive spirit pervaded, and the runners juggled for that all important position as they ran along the Esplanade in the direction of Seaview Avenue on the anti-clockwise course around the streets of West Mersea.   Mersea Island’s very own Chris Froome (Paul Davies) had been sent off just in front of the runners with instructions to cycle the course in 28 minutes whilst ensuring he never lost touch with the leading pack.  His task was two-fold.  (1) To guide the runners around the first 5 mile lap of the course and (2) To warn the on-course marshals that the race was in progress.  Paul’s timing was perfect, and 25 minutes after the start, as he approached Broomhills/Victoria Esplanade, the first runners could be clearly seen just behind him.   This is where the marshals based at the entrance to Willoughby Avenue car park took over, and whilst the 5 mile competitors were directed up the finish funnel, the 10 mile runners were waved on to the second lap.   The time keepers and number recorders were kept extremely busy as the runners came in groups – some putting in sprint finishes to overtake fellow competitors as they approached the finish line.   The 5 mile race is often referred to as the “fun run”, but this year 2 runners contested the lead for virtually the entire race, with Robert Reason of Harwich Harriers being the first to cross the finish line in 27.49 minutes.  Robert has, for several years, won the 10 mile race, and on being presented with his trophy he was asked why he had switched to the 5 mile race this year.  His response was that this was that having previously won the Round the Island and the 10 mile race, he needed a 5 mile trophy to complete a set!!  (The true answer is that he was just returning from injury).  Brigid Wallen of Witham Running Club put in a time of 35.48 minutes to take the 5 mile lady’s trophy.   This year’s 10 mile race winner was Paul Holley (Newmarket Joggers) in a time of 57.06 minutes whilst Katherine Wilson of “26.2 Road Runners Club” recorded 68.34 minutes to win the 10 mile lady’s trophy.   It was particularly encouraging this year to see those black T-shirts of Mersea Ladies Boot Camp worn by Penny Hester and Maxine Jones, to whom on-lookers gave a special cheer.   As Peter Downing approached the finish line in a time of 73.25 he too received a special welcome.  Peter has competed most years since his first one in 1989 in his wheelchair, and he has become well known to organisers and spectators alike.   This year Harwich Harriers lost their grasp of the Male Team Trophy, which went instead to Witham Running Club, whose team comprised Leo Cole, Pete Riley and Daniel Hardy.  Eileen Shadford, Laura Emms and Janine Simpson of Great Bentley Runners were the well deserving winners of the Female Team Trophy.   Spectators who lined the Esplanade and gathered at the finish to cheer competitors home enhanced the atmosphere at this special event, which is made up of  serious club runners, those endeavouring to record personal best times  and people who strive to achieve a goal they have set themselves.   Together they make up the Mersea 5 and 10 competitors and their support of these historic races is much appreciated.   Once again C.C. Discount Heating (Colchester) Limited generously sponsored the trophies and medals, and a figure approaching £1,900 was raised, which Lions will distribute in the usual way to mainly local charities.   MI Lions are indebted to so many people without whose invaluable help these races could not safely take place.  Some 56 volunteer marshals were deployed around the course and at “Race Control”.  Ann and Geoff Pearce once again very kindly made their summer house available, and WMTC/Colchester Borough Council liaised to provide competitors’ with designated parking.  Tori Andrews very kindly acted as “Official Photographer” (her excellent photographs are available on, and of course C.C. Discount Heating (Colchester) Limited.   Lions wish to record their thanks to them all.  Without their help such a magnificent sum would never have been achieved.

2013 Round the Island Race Report

ROUND THE ISLAND RUNNING RACE 2013 REPORT   Sponsored by Estuary Life and Blackwater Estates   There was a record entry of 327 runners for this event, which was held on Sunday 30th June.  A combination of glorious weather, publicity from “Runners World” magazine and Radio Essex generated a large crowd of spectators, especially along Victoria Esplanade as runners approached the finish, which in turn produced a fantastic atmosphere.   The runners lined up on the beach in front of the 2 Sugars Café,  and in accordance with tradition the race was started at 10.30 a.m. by West Mersea’s Mayor, Peter Clements MBE.  Although it remained hot throughout the event, there was a reasonable breeze which the competitors found most welcome.   The route for this historic all-terrain race, which was first held in 1919, was in a clockwise direction around the island, and runners followed the beach as far as Monkey Steps where they were directed up the steps and along the path by St Peters Well, then out onto Coast Road.   Runners then continued past The Hard and Dabchicks Sailing Club and onto the sea wall path, which they followed as far as the fishing lake on Colchester Road.   It was in the lay-by here where the first drink station was located.  At this point everyone was still going strong and the water was used mainly as a coolant rather than a drink!  After a short piece of road work between Colchester Road and East Mersea Road they were directed back onto the coast path for the next stage of the run.   Around the northern part of the Island the runners had to contend with long grass, stiles and uneven paths. At Mersea Stone, the most easterly point, there was another drink station before they came to Cudmore Grove, where they had to drop down onto the beach once more.  Back up onto the coast path at Coopers Beach:  by this time the majority of runners were ready to take advantage of the final drink station situated at the west end of Coopers Beach.  They then stayed on the path to the Youth Camp, where they were directed back down onto the beach for the final section – the dreaded sand!  For the runners this was without doubt the worst section of the race.  By this time not only had they run circa. 9 miles of the 12.2 mile course, but running on a soft surface sapped their energy whilst at the same time they felt as if they were being pushed back by the wind.  (As runners discussed times and experiences at the end of the race it seemed they were united in their comments that contending with the sand in the last sector was the worst part of the race, and one competitor was overheard to say it was far worse than running in the London Marathon!)   At Seaview corner they were directed onto the spectator lined Victoria Esplanade, where they were clapped and cheered all the way to the finish in Willoughby Avenue Car Park. Here the 287 runners who completed the race were presented with their medals.   Trophies were presented by Mayor Peter Clements MBE as follows:   “First male” – Scott Richardson of Tunbridge Wells Harriers, who recorded a time of 1:21:42 (2 minutes slower than last year).  Carwyn Jones was second in 1:26:30 and Lewis Patching of Springfield Striders third in 1:26:41.

(Scott’s time was particularly noteworthy as not only was he some 5 minutes ahead of the chasing pack at the finish after leading the race all the way from Monkey Steps, but he had completed a 50 mile cycle race on the previous day!)     Local honour was upheld by Laura Shewbridge of Colchester Harriers who was the “1st female” in a time of 1:32:47.  Second was Andrea Collitt in 1:40:18 and third Jane Nodder of Mornington Chasers in 1:40.29       The first “Over 45” male was the aptly named Neil Swift who also came home 5th overall in a time of 1:27:0, and the 1st female “Over 45” was Sue Aves who completed the course in 1:46.07

The “Team” trophies were presented to Stowmarket (Male) and Colchester (Female)   Special congratulations must go to 83 year old George Woods, who this year completed the course in 3 hours 7 mins.   Recorded 2013 times were all slightly slower than previous years, mainly attributable to the unusually hot weather which made for difficult running conditions.

Race organisers were Mersea Island Lions who, with the dedicated help of some 45 volunteers, raised a massive £2,400 from this event.  This will be distributed to mainly local charities.  MI Lions are extremely grateful to race sponsors, Estuary Life and Blackwater Estates.  Also Mayor Peter Clements MBE, St Johns Ambulance Service, Geoff and Ann Pearce for the loan of their summer house for “Race Control”, Mersea Town Council and Colchester Borough Council for the exclusive use of Willoughby Avenue car park, and also to the 45 volunteer helpers whose invaluable help was needed to run this event.