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Woodbridge Shufflers Marathon Report

April was a bumper marathon month for the Woodbridge Shufflers with no less than 16 club members participating in three fantastic events.

Brighton Marathon ‘scorcher’ – 9th April 2017

In Brighton, the following seven Shufflers completed the 26.2 mile route on the hottest day of the year with temperatures hitting 20C!

  • Paul Wright
  • Nancy Wright
  • Alastair Bartlett
  • Gemma Gilbert
  • Melanie Roberts
  • Benjamin Solway
  • Steve Whittaker

London Marathon – 23rd April 2017

The Woodbridge Shufflers at London were:

  • Dave Alley
  • Sarah Cousins
  • Ian Coxall
  • Richard Dempsey
  • Matthew Hunt
  • Paul Nickells
  • Sam Chater

This group was a mix of first-time marathoners and seasoned long distance runners. There was also some impressive fundraising going on, with Dave, Sarah, Richard and Sam running for Mind & The Teenage Cancer Trust, the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, Woodbridge Primary School and Ormiston Families respectively.

Richard Dempsey on his post-run experience:

“Physically I’m a wreck in this but just wanted say that the crowd and the thought of letting everyone down especially after all the support I had drove me to the end.
A hug from my sister with 600m to go actually made me cry a little!”

Thanks to Richard’s fundraising efforts, local primary Woodbridge Primary will be able to continue to offer ‘Bikeability’ for Years 5 and 6 and swimming lessons for Y6 in 2017 – well done Rich!

Ian Coxall reports back:

“Really pleased to be back following my foot operation in November. It was my 4th London and probably my proudest. Only having completed one 20m run after a 6-week programme I’m delighted to run 3:19. It was my 18th Marathon in all and it gave me a really good benchmark for Chicago in October.”

Dave Alley, an ultra runner but first time London Marathoner, sums it all up…

“Amazing!  The sights, the sounds and the supportive crowds made it a race to remember.  The spectators made it a fantastic experience, and made every runner feel like they were an Olympic champion.  It really felt like being at the centre of a major sporting event – which I guess it was.”

With his dedicated training regime, Dave completed the course in the exact time he’d planned – spurred on by an unlikely pal…

“For me the event went to plan, and I managed to sustain a fairly even pace of around 8:10 per mile.  It was great to have my family racing around London to shout encouragement when they spotted me.  Unfortunately a guy in a lobster suit outran me, but this gave my family advanced warning that I was about to appear.  If they saw the lobster, I would be close behind.  It was a huge boost to see them cheering me on, despite playing second fiddle to an outsized Crayfish.  In fact, the whole crowd was fantastic, with cheers of “go for it Dave” every 100 metres or so.   It really gave me a massive lift to my running mojo.”


Matt Hunt on his fourth London marathon – and second as a Shuffler:

“After suffering from a hamstring injury last September through to early February this year I was ecstatic to run down the mall and achieve another sub 2:45 finish after a 10 week training program. Perfect conditions and amazing support as usual. Well done to all the other Shufflers who ran.”

Suffolk Heritage Coastal – 30th April 2017

And finally: Carina Sewell and Frank Holmes completed the Heritage Coastal Marathon, taking on a beautiful but challenging route featured pebbled beach, shaded woods and gorse-filled paths.

To sum it up, a few words from Shufflers team captain and former London Marathon entrant, Kathryn Gerry:

Well done everyone.  Running a marathon is not easy.  It takes training, dedication, sacrifice, determination and a certain level of craziness!




Woodbridge Shufflers set for London Marathon

With the Virgin Money London Marathon under six weeks away, it’s exciting to know that no less than five Woodbridge Shufflers will be flying the Club flag at the biggest event in the racing calendar.

Dave Alley, Sarah Cousins, Ian Coxall, Richard Dempsey and Matthew Hunt will all take to the capital’s streets on 23rd April 2017. Here’s a chance to hear their stories and to support their brilliant fundraising efforts.

Dave Alley


Dave and Siobhan Alley Colchester Half 2015

Dave Alley with daugher Siobhan (also a Mind runner)



Dave, who achieved his place through the VLM ballot, is supporting Mind, the charity for mental health, and The Teenage Cancer Trust.

“I’m feeling very excited about running the London Marathon.  I hadn’t run a Marathon before I joined the Woodbridge Shufflers, but was inspired by some amazing people in the club.  Everyone was incredibly supportive, and really made me believe that I could do it.  Since completing my first Marathon in 2013 I haven’t looked back, and have now run several Marathons and Ultra-Marathons. But this is my first time at the VLM – the Big One!”

“Running is now a huge part of my life, and my place in the London Marathon gives me an opportunity to raise money for two amazing charities.  All sponsorship raised will go directly towards helping people when they need it most.”

To sponsor Dave, visit his Just Giving page.

Sarah Cousins

Sarah and her mum

Sarah Cousins and her late mum

Sarah gained her VLM place through the Woodbridge Shufflers ballot. Sarah is raising money for the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, a Cambridge based organisation that provides free care to people with a life-limiting illness.

“London is my first marathon. I completed a half marathon on my 21st birthday nearly ten years ago and have enjoyed many shorter distances with the Shufflers since then, but this will be the longest I will have ever run. Each Sunday, I head out on a long run with the club. Thanks to their support, I’m running increasingly longer distances each time and they’ve been a huge part of this achievement.”

“My Mum sadly died in November 2016, just a few weeks before I found out I was doing the marathon and the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity played a huge part in our lives during mum’s last few months. Having taken her to watch my sister run in London in 2015 for the same charity, I know she would have been extremely proud of me.”

“I think it’s safe to say my body was not built for running marathons! At times I’ve found the training really hard. But with the Shufflers’ support, and knowing the big difference the money will make to others going through the similarly horrid situation that I did, I know it’s going to be worth it.”

“Finally, I’m very much looking forward to my few weeks of ‘tapering’ before the big day and hope I can do the race justice!”

To donate to the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, please visit Sarah’s Just Giving page.

Richard Dempsey

Richard Dempsey and Henry

Richard Dempsey and son Henry

Richard (Rich) also gained his place through the Woodbridge Shufflers’ ballot. Richard is fundraising for the Friends of Woodbridge Primary School (FOWPS) where his son is a pupil.

“It’s hard to believe I’m turning 50 this year! And after stating on many occasions, “You need to be mad to run a marathon!” I was ‘lucky’ enough to get allocated one of the club places on this year’s 26.2 mile ‘jaunt’ around London. I’m pleased to say that my training is on target and I’ve just completed the Tarpley 20 mile run in under 2 hours 50 minutes so I’m hoping I can beat my target of four hours in the real thing.”

“I’ve decided to raise some funds for the Friends of Woodbridge Primary School (FOWPS) who work tirelessly all year to organize events for the school. With the money, they can provide the children with much-needed equipment and support.”

“I’m really looking forward to travelling down to London with my family and having them there on the day. I’m a little nervous about the race as it’s such a long way but I know I’ll be proud to complete my first – and very likely last – marathon!”

To support Richard’s fundraising efforts, please visit Richard’s Just Giving page.

Ian Coxall

After having just returned to running following a foot operation in November (and in recovery from sciatica), Ian hopes to run VLM at a more leisurely pace this year. Ian says:

“My aim is to get around and enjoy the great race for the 4th time. This will be my 18th Marathon in all and I’ll be using London as a benchmark for my A race in The Chicago Marathon in October where I hope to complete my 4th major.” Go Ian!

VLM team Tom_Matt_Ian

Fancy a place in next year’s London Virgin Marathon?

As a member of the Woodbridge Shufflers, we are pleased to offer our members the chance to enter our ballot for a place in the London Marathon. (read the full Ts & Cs here).  But at the Shufflers, we believe that running’s for life, not just for races! So why not come along to our training sessions and see what we’re about? You are guaranteed a warm welcome, varied sessions – and – if you still have the energy – a chat in the pub afterwards!

Learn more about club runs with the Woodbridge Shufflers.

Woodbridge Primary School benefits from Shufflers’ charitable donation

Preschool gains new library books and enhances its Forest School with £1000 donation from Woodbridge Shufflers

The Woodbridge 10k and Junior Race is well-known for its hills, its enthusiastic runners and post-run party atmosphere. But at its heart, the race is geared at helping local charities. Last year, six charities received a £1000 donation from the race: Lapwing Education, Ipswich Holiday Help For Children, Suffolk Young People’s Health Project (4YP), Orwell Panthers AC and Woodbridge Primary School.

Mark Krisson, Headmaster at Woodbridge Primary, tells us a little about how the school spent the money.

Forest School inspires learning
“We’re really grateful for the £1000 donation from the Woodbridge Shufflers. The money enabled us to buy Forest School equipment and thereby ensure that our Forest School Leaders could take groups of children off-site for all sorts of learning activities.”

“Many children find these sorts of activities really exciting and for some pupils, it allows them to demonstrate skills and abilities that they’d find hard to show in the classroom.”

A modern library
The money also helped towards the school’s library project. “With the donation, we were able to update our 10-year old library software and purchase a new package that will be really useful for parents as well as children and teachers,” continues Mr Krisson.

Books by favourite authors
In addition, the children were able to have their say in how the money was spent. Members of the ‘school council’ – nominated children from each year group – were asked which authors they liked best and favourite titles were subsequently purchased for the school to enjoy.

Lucy Cliff, who led the project on behalf of Friends of Woodbridge Primary School (FOWPS) says, “It’s been a lovely project which has allowed parents, staff and children to work really closely together. Thank you, Shufflers!”

Marathon Man to help FOWPS

And the good work doesn’t stop there! Richard Dempsey, a member of the Woodbridge Shufflers, will run this year’s London Marathon with all charitable donations going to Woodbridge Primary School.

Richard, who recently completed the Tarpley 20-mile race in under 2 hours 50 minutes, is training incredibly hard and is on target to achieve his dream sub-four hour marathon. Richard says:

“I was lucky enough to gain a London marathon place through the Woodbridge Shufflers and have decided to raise some funds for the Friends of Woodbridge Primary School (FOWPS). They work tirelessly all year organising lots of events to raise money for the school to provide the children with much needed equipment and support. All donations to this worthy causes are greatly appreciated.”

To donate, please visit Richard’s Just Giving page.





My Woodbridge 10k story – by Bon Collins

Three years ago, local runner Bon Collins suffered an illness so severe doctors feared she’d never walk again. With her amazing determination and a little help from her friends, Bon has managed to run herself back to health and is excited to enter her third Woodbridge 10k. Bon explains why the annual Shufflers’ race is so special to her.

Hi Bon! You’re a familiar face on the 10k circuit. How many times have you taken part?

This year will be my third time. In 2015, I’d only been walking properly for four months so to run any of it was an achievement. Last year I ran more but still struggled. This year I am excited because I know I can run it all!

How did you get into running?

I’ve been overweight my entire adult life. As I started to head towards 40, I wanted to do something about that. Over the years, I’d tried literally every diet you can imagine and at the end of it all, I was bigger than ever. I started running, but then I got sick and was unable to walk. When I beat that (and I still have to pinch myself), I knew that the one thing I wanted to do was run.

You have lost a lot of weight in the past few years. Is that down to running?

Pretty much. Since running and eating healthily I have lost weight and it stays off. No starving myself or fad diets for me. If I want to have a chocolate bar, I can, but I know what is and isn’t good for me and I understand that exercise is required to keep me getting to my goal.

It’s no longer about weight loss – I don’t even know how much I weigh any more. It’s about being fit. Focusing on that has helped no end.

What’s your training routine like?

I like to run with people. I’m not very talkative when I run, mostly because it’s hard to do both well, but I do like to run with others. I run with my team mates from Ipswich JAFFA on a Monday night on the track and with friends during the week, then at weekends I run with my trainer Luke Read from Airborne Fit. (Airborne Fit are also sponsors at this year’s 10k). Luke helps me to focus on good running and improving all the time. His encouragement has been key to the achievements over the last few months in particular.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s race?

Firstly running in club colours! The Jaffas have been a great support to me and it will be an honour to wear my club vest.

Woodbridge 10k is a race that I want to do every year that I can. It was my first race after I learned to walk again and so it means a lot to me.

This year I have a solid year’s worth of training under my belt (I had a 5 week break for spinal surgery last summer but was soon back to it) plus good instruction, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying the race to see that hard work bear fruit!

What do you like most / least about the Woodbridge 10k?

I love the support that you get on the route. It’s amazing just how many people turn out to watch – there is music played by families, people giving you water from their houses and everyone is willing you on. I remember that in 2015 I got paranoid that everyone was saying my name, until my running partner pointed out that it was on my bib!

What do I like least? It’s hard to say – I mean every runner of course will say the hills!! But then the course has a lot of nice downhills as well! My least favourite hill is the bit that goes around from the Co-Op carpark up to the Thoroughfare (Lime Kiln Quay). It doesn’t look like much but it’s a slow climber – the heat usually gets me!!

How will you celebrate after the race?

The first year I ran, I celebrated by going home and crying my eyes out because I couldn’t believe that I actually just did it. My legs were shot to bits! This year I am looking forward to celebrating in style with my trainer Luke and my team mates from JAFFA because I hope to really show what good consistent training can do for even an amateur runner like me.

I’m usually sick on the finish line – I seem to have made a habit of that at most races, probably because I try to give it my all on the course, but I am hoping this year not to disgrace myself again!

Do you take part in other running races?

Last year (2016) was the first year that I did anything other than the Woodbridge 10k. In March 2016 I did my first cross country race (Farmhouse Five for Females) which was fun. I did a couple of fun runs with friends and my friends’ children, like the Colour Dash, Insane Terrain and Race For Life. I had hoped to do the Twilight 10k (10k is definitely my favourite distance at the moment), but unfortunately I had spinal surgery which meant I had to take some time out.

I celebrated my return by doing the Tough Mudder half in September which was so different for me! I didn’t get a place in the Adnams 10k as I wasn’t quite quick enough on the computer, but thankfully a kind person donated their place to me and so I ran that!

Woodbridge is still my favourite race. You just can’t beat it!

What inspires you to keep running?

I think when you lose the ability to do something and are lucky enough to get it back, you no longer want to waste it. I have some inspirational friends who achieve amazing things in running, but I have learned not to compare myself to them too much and to understand that the fact that I even run is an inspiration to others.

You cannot beat running in my opinion. It brings people together; it gives you a great sense of achievement; you get fit; you can shake off a really bad day. It has so many benefits.

What’s next for your running?

I want to complete a marathon. It was the one thing I wanted to do before I got sick. I’m not quite marathon ready this year and I am ok with that. I am understanding that although I can run, I have only been walking again for just over two years, so to be where I am now (my longest run has been 7 miles) is still a miracle.

I know what it’s like wanting to lose weight or run and to be scared that you’re too big or will look silly. And I hope that by continuing to do it, I will inspire others to do it too. So long as I have the gift of my legs working, I will run.

Entries for this year’s race open at 8am Friday 10th March 2017. Links to the Run Britain entry system will be published to the Woodbridge Shufflers 10k race page as soon as the system goes live. Good luck!


Bon Collins 10k story

Thanks to a love of running, Bon Collins has recovered from severe illness to lose weight and stay healthy.