Fulfords Five success for Merson in fast time

08:25 06 February 2014

Fulfords Estate Agents first became involved with Exmouth Harriers when they supported Harriers member and then Fulfords employee, John Watson in his Parolympian exploits over 30 years ago, writes Dave Eveleigh.

They first supported the annual Exmouth 5 Mile road race in the early 1980s. Lots of local businesses support sports events and teams in their area without actually asking for very much in return. However, if participants and spectators came to a subliminal conclusion that this particular sponsorship suggested that Fulfords was a business that is ‘in it for the long run’ that would probably be something of a reward for their generosity! Also pleased to continue an association with this event is the Wukro Project which is helping young Ethiopian athletes have opportunities to progress that are not normally easy to obtain in their part of the athletically talented, but impoverished, East African nation. The Fulfords Five event is one source of a total annual sum of £750 contributed by Exmouth Harriers which helps maintain the project.

This year’s Fulfords Five took place over two laps through the heart of Exmouth on the first Sunday of February. There were over 260 finishers of which 115 were women. Tom Merson is to be regularly seen at local races in Exmouth colours as a second claim member, utilising his Bristol and West first claim membership to undertake challenges further afield. Tom won the 5 Mile race by two minutes, in a time 19 seconds faster than he recorded in winning it last year. Runner-up was Jon James, who runs for Wells City Harriers - a fair distance to have travelled, suggesting this rather unusual distance is in demand.

In 17th place was John Shapland from North Devon in a time of 28:41, this (allowing for age) being the outstanding male performance of the day. The outstanding female run (again allowing for age) came from Exmouth’s Cathy Newman as she finished second Woman behind a runner 14 years her junior.

Cathy was 29th overall in 29:52 and at 51 was easily the winner of the Women Age 50–54 category. East Devon has a reputation as a retirement hotspot, but four Exmouth Harriers who ran are clearly not content with a stroll along the sea front for post-retirement exercise. Seventy-one-year-olds Mike Keep (a welcome return after injury) and Jim Wyatt were 179th in 42:11 and 221st in 47:17 respectively. Just behind Mike was 75-year-old Mick Allen in 183rd place with a time off 42:31. Re-joining the club (and in his case a welcome return to racing after illness) and finishing 231st in 48:16 was John Perratt who is 76. A quartet there who would make up a competitive Over 70 relay team. There were five more harriers who completed the race. Carly Miller was 107th overall and 20th woman in 36:04, around half-a-minute faster than in 2013 while Sarah Jackman was 127th and 28th woman in 37:39. Andrew Johnson (Male Veteran 50 - 54) was 60th in a swift 33:05, Richard Pyle 86th in 34:40 and Roger Riggs (Male Veteran 55—59) 195th in 45:33.

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