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Victory AC Coaching Team

Head Coach: Pete Harding (UKA Level 2)

Dave Lown (CiRF); Malcolm Hagan; Marilyn Crocker; Gemma Corbett (UKA Level 1); Lucy Smith (UKA Level 1);

Nicola Stott (LiRF); Mary Short (LiRF); Becki Ralf (LiRF); Lesley Allen (LiRF); Deborah Clarke (LIRF)

Malcolm Hagan

Marilyn Crocker

Marilyn Crocker


Lucy Smith

I started running 9 years ago when I joined Victory.
I was a complete beginner, having not run since I was at school many years ago.
I had always been put off running, remembering muddy Monday afternoon cross country runs at school!
Now I run in all types of weather and occasionally even mud, and love it!

I still remember the first VAC club training session I did, how I was welcomed.
Running has given me a tremendous amount. It's improved my health, fitness, self confidence and motivation.
The club's training schedule has helped to focus my training, given me running goals and improve my endurance and speed.
Over the last 9 years I have completed 3 marathons, a few half marathons and all distances from 5k upwards.

I qualified as a UK Athletics level 1 coach in October 2014.
My motivation for becoming a coach was to hopefully give something back to the club and members who have supported and helped me improve my running.
My aim is to try and help other members reach their running goals.

Mary Short

Photo of Mary Short

I started running to 'tick a box' to say I'd done the Great South Run...
I joined the Victory AC 'Return to Running' course, which I was assured would in the 9 weeks of the course provide the foundation for me to run 3 miles, which having never run before seemed almost impossile to me.
Pete Harding was the coach for that course and together with encouragement from the other coaches and helpers I managed that 3 miles and went on to join Victory AC – and yes – I completed the 10 miles of the GSR!
I have remained a member of Victory AC.
I am probably the slowest member that the club has, which is why I was at first unsure about joining the coaching team, but feel that as an inclusive club for all abilities it is important to have a 'back of the pack' coach.
Victory AC has given me so much – I felt that I wanted to give something back.

As a Leader in Running Fitness I hope that I can offer help and encouragement to others, particularly those who find that running doesn't come naturally to them!
I've taken part in numerous races and events, from 5k to marathons! I'm never going to be the fastest runner, never going to pick up prizes from the races, but I'm taking part and feeling the acomplishment, and take great pleasure from seeing others do the same.

Dave Lown (CiRF)

Dave Lown

In January 2011, I weighed almost 18 stone and decided to do something to bring that down. I started running on my own and spent a year running around Havant and Emsworth on the same old routes.
In November 2011 I entered my first race, The Hayling 10 mile.
Whilst there I saw the Victory AC club members and thought I would see what the club was about.
It took till Feb 12 to start my first Tuesday night session (Crookhorn/Purbrook) and I realised then that the club catered for all abilities.

During my first year with the club I entered a few road races, mainly 10k and 10m.
After being away for 6 months in 2013, I started back training again entering races – 5k, 5 miles, 10k, 10 miles and cross-country (though only once because it was cold and muddy!).

I found that although the shorter races were good, I wanted more of a challenge so I entered my first half marathon in September 2014. A painful experience that saw me walk as much as run, but it focused me on the next – the Gosport Half marathon just 6 weeks later.
Training with the club on Tuesdays and Thursday, and taking advice off those who have run before was essential in being able to complete that run in a much improved time!
I ran the Brighton Marathon in April this year and will run it again in 2016, using the first experience to help me beat my time.

In September 2014 I undertook the Leader in Running Fitness course in order to give something back to club that had helped me so much over the last few years. I aim to complete the Coach in Running Fitness course in February 2016.

Seeing someone complete a run (any run!) that they thought they couldn't do is the most satisfying part of coaching.

Gemma Corbett

Gemma Corbett

I have always been a keen runner, running cross country as a child/teenager.
I’ve always wanted to get everywhere as quickly as I possibly can!
I didn’t really do any races as an adult, just ran to keep fit but, as my husband is a keen runner, decided I may as well do the races too rather than spectating.

I started off with 10k’s and used his training programmes to improve my Pb’s.
In the last 3 years have gone from being a 45 minute 10k runner to a 38 minute 10k runner.

I have competed in 5k’s to marathons and since joining Victory AC just two years ago, I have become completely addicted to running and don’t feel a day is complete without a good run!

I completed my level 1 coaches certificate last year and since then have enjoyed coaching and watching people in the club improve week upon week.

I love the fact that running is something that everyone can access and it doesn’t cost the Earth like many other sports.
I believe that everyone can get involved in running at any age and improve with a good training plan and just lots and lots of running!

Lesley Allen

Lesley Allen

I first started running when I decided to take part in a Race for Life run in Southsea.
I decide to join a running club to help me with my running as I knew I didn't have the discipline to go out on my own, so I joined Victory AC.
They were all very encouraging at the club and I improved slowly.

I then got involved in triathlons and have since completed about 25 triathlons, I have run the Great South run several times, completed a half marathon and the London Marathon.

Now my favourite distance is 10k, but I also enjoy Park runs too, having just completed my 100th.

I was always encouraged by the Victory coaches, so I decided to become a coach myself and attended a Leader in Running Fitness course in 2016 and have now coached a C2-5K course following on with 5-10k course.

I love Victory as it has a great bunch of runners of all abilities, it's not only for the fast runners but slower ones too, we cater for all.
I enjoy taking part in our handicap series as well and we have a very good social side to our club.
I am also a Sports Massage therapist so I have been able to help club runners in that area too.

Pete Harding: Head Coach
(UKA Level 2)

Pete Harding

I have been a member of VAC since 1999.

Over the years I have competed and run distances from Marathon to Chichester Corporate Challenge and with every other distance and terrain covered in between.

Having benefited from members experience and support I wanted to give something back to the club, so I qualified as a UK Athletics Level 1 coach in 2001 and achieved UKA Level 2 coach status in 2003 and have renewed and requalified every three years.

Level 2 qualifies me to coach all running, jumping, throwing and track activities for both club juniors and seniors although I major on endurance (over 1500k.)

I initiated, on behalf of VAC, the Return to Running courses (forerunners to Couch to 5k) and have organised two successful Sport Relief days with both activities providing increased membership to VAC.

I get my greatest satisfaction from seeing those new and less confident runners go on and achieve their first distance, be it 5k, 10 miles or cross country.

I work with the clubs' other coaches to develop a fresh and lively training programme that is suitable for all members, no matter age or ability..

Nicola Stott

Nicola Stott

Hi, I’m Nicola. I’ve been a member of Victory AC since early in 1999.

Initially running for me was something I could fit in around my then small children to help keep fit and to control my weight.
The then small children are now in their 20s and sometimes run with me, which I love.

Over the years I have progressed from finding the short handicap a challenge, through to half and full marathons.
I have now completed 13 marathons which range from road routes such as London, Brighton and Edinburgh, to mainly road eg Snowdonia to trail eg Beachyhead, South Downs and the Ox.

Running has become a real love of mine, especially off road. It helps keep me sane, though some might query this.

A recent new love of mine is parkrun, which is a free weekly timed 5k run at 9am on Saturdays. My husband, Ian, and I enjoy looking up the nearest parkrun whenever we are away too.

I was a little nervous about running with a club when I first joined, but found Victory to be a friendly bunch, and I really enjoyed the structured training sessions on Thursdays, which encouraged, and still encourage, me to push myself in ways I never would have on my own.

Hopefully as a junior member of the coaching team, I can help the club continue with this. You might need to stand close when I’m coaching though, as my voice isn’t as loud as some!.

Becki Ralf

Becki Ralf

I started running in July 2014 to help me lose weight.
Having never run before I followed the Couch to 5k programme on my own via a phone app, and was amazed that after as little as 8 weeks I could go from struggling to run for 30 seconds, to completing 5k.
In September 2014 I completed my first event, a 5k Color Run, and then decided to try and up my distance to 10k. I again followed an app/programme and completed my first 10k, The London Winter Run, in February 2015.

Having convinced myself that I’d exhausted all the local routes (turns out there’s many more!), and looking for a little motivation to improve both my distance and speed, I joined Victory AC in August 2015.
My first run was along the Hayling Billy Line, supported by a group of runners who welcomed me straight away.

I have since completed multiple 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons, and always look forward to collecting more bling (medals)!
With the help of Victory I might just make it to the marathon club one day!

Inspired by the coaches that have helped me, I completed the LiRF (Leadership in Running Fitness) course in September 2016, in the hope of helping new and existing club runners, and to give something back to the club.

In January 2017 I lead the clubs Couch to 5k course, and was delighted to be able to introduce running to a new group of people and watch them progress and complete the course.

Through Victory I have made good friends, received multiple bits of advice, encouragement and support, and now can’t imagine life without it.

Deborah Clarke

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