Wells City Harriers


The early May weekend has traditionally seen the staging of the Glastonbury Road Run. The race was first held back in 1981, organised by the Town Council, to raise funds for local causes and tapped into the running boom that was then sweeping the UK. The first London Marathon had just taken place at the end of March that year (see previous Harrier web article) and no doubt lots of people were inspired by that to come and try what was then a 5.69 mile circuit on road around the town and the Tor. The Harriers were heavily involved throughout the 1980s and 1990s in assisting with this race and have continued to enjoy racing there, providing the winners of the main race, and the shorter races, on numerous occasions. We look back at early Glastonbury Road Runs and also offer another little bit of distraction to help cope with coronavirus lockdown. How fit are you really?


Photo of Terry KIngham and Arthur Vernoum soon after the start of a Glastonbury Road Run from the early 1990s. Fellow Harrier Phil Marsh chasing them.



Pete Wright recalls the beginning of the Road Races as he was living in Glastonbury at the time, and like many local residents it became one of, if not THE, race to target each year:

The original team organisers were Hugh Sharp (then a local GP now retired to Cornwall), Jan White (Town Councillor and Mayor) & Mike Evans (a local solicitor) who now helps out his Son at Glastonbury Reclamation. Along with many other races it was in line with the London Marathon, I think Hugh Sharp and possibly Jan’s husband Graham may have competed in that Marathon. Later it also involved the Leisure Centre staff at St Dunstan’s and by the early 1990’s when I joined the organising committee it was a very big event on the local Town calendar.”


Harrier stalwarts Clive & Angela Thomas and a wider group of local Harriers, including former Harrier Chairman, and local Glastonbury resident, Mike Derbidge, were involved in the organisation of the race in the early days, certainly by the mid-1980s. The Harriers used to provide help for the entry desk, finishing funnels and to process the race results. By the late 1990’s Ian Humphreys took over race results when it was starting to get very complicated as more races of different distances were added to cater for youngsters. Millfield School had started to use the races as a charity fundraising event which most, if not all, of the kids took part in, with many in fancy dress. Later the main race became a measured 10k distance. Of course, throughout the history of the races the Harriers also provided a good number of the runners!

For the first decade or two, all of the various races of different distances would start at the same time and pandemonium broke loose as youngsters would stampede up the High Street only to start walking after a few hundred yards; the other challenge at that time was that with so many races of different distances, but also different abilities and speeds, many finishers would all come in together and it used to take for ages to untangle who had finished in what position, in what race! – this was all long before chip-timing!


Harriers were always out to beat one another at this race, just like any other race but one of the most hotly contested races, within a race, was that for the prestigious ‘First Local Runner’, resident in Glastonbury. The Harrier’s legendary runner Stuart Marsh won this every year for well over a decade, Stuart was a really good tough runner who was a bit like ‘Alf Tupper’ – he never gave up and had cast iron resolve. For many other races, far away from Glastonbury, he would cycle to the race, win it, and then cycle home! (probably having fish & chips on the way).


When fellow Glastonbury resident Pete Wright started running the race, then Stuart was always the target – the man to beat! Stuart’s amazing sequence entitled him to be called ‘King of Glastonbury’ by all fellow Harriers and his long victory run only came to an end when fellow Harrier, nippy Eddie Richards moved to live in the town. Many thought that Eddie had moved just to win that trophy! Veteran category awards for Glastonbury residents were also swept up by many Harriers with Terry Kingham, Felicity Derbidge, Steve Padfield and Paul Knight winning on occasions.


Photo of Harriers at the awards ceremonies – from about 20 years ago with the then Glastonbury Town Mayor on the left and a Race Committee member on the right. We have  left to right back row Steve Padfield (1st V40 Glastonian); Denise Hoogesteger; Terry KIngham (1st V50 Glastonian); Front row left to right Maeve O'Mahoney (1st F45 Glastonian); Felicity Derbidge (1st Glastonian woman) Stuart Marsh (1st Glastonian aka King of Glastonbury!



Up at the sharp end of the race the Harriers have had some great victories, often by minutes on chasing runners.

Senior coach Jon James recalls:

I think I've run it 3 times (all when I was a V40 or V45) and am disappointed to have never won it - second on two occasions, and 3rd on another. I was actually beaten by someone older than me the first time that I did it (Mick O'Doherty) as he kicked away from me at the end along Market Street. In 2010, a Kenyan turned up - Haggai Chepkwony - and he even beat our Ben Tickner (ex-TeamGB) into second place, I was 3rd. In 2011, my hopes got raised, because I heard that Ben Tickner had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but he still beat me 2 minutes!”


How Ben didn’t win the Harrier bog-seat that year, only history will know, but he does feature strongly on the all time fastest at Glastonbury list.

Wells City Harrier members have dominated the races from time to time, winning on numerous occasions and have 6 of the fastest 10 winning times (for men) from the 10k editions of the main race, and 1 of the top times for women.

Ben Tickner Wells City Harriers SM 2011 30:43
Haggai Chepkwony Bristol & West AC M40 2010 31:23
Ben Tickner Wells City Harriers SM 2010 31:26
Jon James Wells City Harriers M40 2010 32:22
Dave Long Bournemouth AC SM 2017 32:27
Nathan Young Wells City Harriers SM 2013 32:40
Mick O'Doherty Bristol & West AC M40 2008 32.44
Simon Nott Calne Running Club SM 2017 32:44
Jon James Wells City Harriers M40 2011 32:46
Nathan Young Wells City Harriers SM 2014 32:47

Women’s top 10 over 10k

Amy Chalk Bristol & West AC SW 2011 35:24
Emma D'Alton Westbury Harriers SW 2011 36:10
Olivia Walwyn City of Norwich AC SW 2013 36:11
Olivia Walwyn City of Norwich AC SW 2012 36:13
Debbie Marsden Bristol & West AC SW 2010 36:15
Livi Gwynn Millfield School U20W 2015 37:06
Emma Stepto Cornwall AC W45 2017 37:10
Clare Martin Wells City Harriers SW 2008 37:20
Olivia Walwyn City of Norwich AC SW 2011 37:21
Nicky Brookland Bristol & West AC W35 2010 37:20



Photo of Harriers gathering up after the 2017 edition of the 10k road race


The Glastonbury 10k 2020 was due to be race number 7, of 23, in the Somerset Series 2020 but as many of the Series races have now had to be cancelled or postponed, we await to see how the Series gets reconfigured for this year or simply cancelled.

How Fit are You Really?


Hopefully everyone is able to get out walking or running or biking during this lockdown period and by doing so are remaining fit and healthy? There are so many challenges out there to have a go at – the 40 minute home exercise challenge of footballer Jesse Lingard caught my eye this week – I wasn’t entirely sure if he was doing everything correctly (better to do fewer with good form than rush and get ragged) but he definitely worked hard in that session (start off by doing 1 set and then build it up to 3 if you’ve not been doing much of this before) . Here's the link from the BBC website.


Our Australian Harrier ‘branch’ members have been doing a Covid-19 Marathon challenge. Bob Martin and Sally have been running 42.2k in 42 hours – they started on Friday eve (1st May) and are following their own programme: Fri eve 6k; Sat morn 5k; Sat afternoon 21.1k; Sunday morn 11.1k. Bob, who has been the Oceania V70 Ironman Champion the last few years, is still going strong.


It would be interesting for Bob & Sally, and any other Harriers who fancy it, to run this little test and see what age they come up with – it’s fitness as measured against the general population. Give it a go – I expect Jon James & Nick Somerville will be teenagers again! (by the way, do the full-length test, not the short version).


Video of the week: We all know that there’s different ways to run a race. No doubt we’ve all experimented with whether to run hard from the front, or run from the back gradually increasing pace, or just run steady pace all the way through. Here’s one way of doing it as demonstrated by Dave Wottle in the 800m final at the 1972 Munich Olympics….

Dave Wottle 800m Final Munich Olympics 1972

Stay healthy and run strong during lockdown. Next week we take a look at Track & Field performances - the Bank Holiday Monday would traditionally have been the BMC Meet at Millfield for youngsters to achieve personal bests at middle distance; and also coming up would have been the County T&F Championships. Stories, memories or good photos please to Paul by Monday 11th May. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.