Laura Rothwell in the Maverick Hampshire 'Long' race

Laura Rothwell looks delighted to be out in the open air at the Maverick Hampshire

There’s something about being out in the countryside… Breathing in the fresh air… Feeling the wind in your hair… Being at one with nature… Set in the South Downs National Park on the trails around Winchester, the Maverick Hampshire affords its participants all those things.

The trails head through the quaint villages of Tichbourne and Cheriton and up and down the sumptuous slopes. The route heads past the River Itchen and through the woods before working its way back to Cheesefoot Head.

That’s exactly the kind of race James Phillips and Laura Rothwell enjoy. They’ve done several of the Maverick races in the past and James has even won quite a few of them. The most recent of those was the Maverick New Forest event which took place in January. James won the ‘Long’ race that day finishing over three minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Laura was 8th female.

Graeme Miller and Chester at the Maverick Hampshire

Graeme Miller was tacking the ‘Middle’ distance race with his dog Chester

James Phillips in the Maverick Hampshire 'Long' race

James Phillips won the Maverick New Forest by a huge margin

Also a regular participant of the Maverick races, Graeme Miller was lining up with his super speedy dog Chester. Usually offering a canicross opportunity, the Maverick events are perfect for Graeme and Chester to flex their muscle and there aren’t too many dog and man combos out there who can get the better of them.

Despite starting at the back with the other canicross runners, Graeme made his way up to 2nd place in the ‘Middle’ distance race at the Maverick New Forest, blasting round the 10k course at an average pace of 5:57.

Laura Rothwell racing well at the Maverick Hampshire

Laura Rothwell was back in the game after a recent illness

Since then Graeme and Chester had also competed in a British Sleddog Sports Federation where they tore round the 2.7 mile course at Hinton Admiral in 14:56. That was an incredible average pace of 5:32. It was supposed to be a two day event though but the second race got cancelled due to flooding.

Going into it off the back of a brilliant Wokingham Half Marathon time off 1:11:36, James was looking in good form and his marathon training for London appeared to be going well. He and Laura were competing in the ‘Long’ race which was 25km.

Completing the course in a time of 1:43:53, James finished in 3rd place, with Gregoire Desloges picking up the win in 1:40:51 and Sean Carroll taking 2nd in 1:43:30.

James Phillips in action at the Maverick Hampshire

James finished 3rd in the ‘Long’ race

After missing out on the Wokingham Half Marathon and a few weeks worth of running due to illness, Laura was pleased to be back out there getting some miles in and she clocked a time of 2:18:45 which made her 15th female out of 130 and 103rd overall. 351 runners in total did the ‘Long’ race.

Laura heads down the path in the Maverick Hampshire 'Long' race

Laura was 15th fastest woman in the ‘Long’ race

The course for the ‘Middle’ distance race was mostly on a downhill slant for the first half and then uphill for the second half, making it quite tough going. It was over a 17km distance. There were quite a few styles on the route which cost Graeme quite a bit of time having to pick Chester up and carry him over.

They fought hard though and Graeme ended up finishing 3rd overall in a time of 1:10:20 and he and Chester were 1st out of the canicross runners. Carl Assmundson picked up the win in 1:07:26 with Rich Mallett taking 2nd place in 1:09:21.

Graeme and Chester head through the field in the Maverick Hampshire 'Middle' race

Graeme and Chester race to a 3rd place finish and 1st of the canicross persuasion

Graeme is suffering from a bit of plantar fasciitis though and that was very painful and he could hardly walk at the end of the race. A total of 204 runners took part in the ‘Middle’ distance race.

Laura Rothwell in action at the Maverick Hampshire

It was great for Laura to get her running back on track