South West’s Fastest Teacher

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1Mr. RidlerThe Maynard School, DevonWhen he’s not in the labs as Head of Science, Mr. Ridler takes to the track – he’s a dedicated runner who often shares his love of sport with his family. You might have also seen him performing as one of the iconic members of the school’s very own cover band, The Maynard Street Boys. Scientist, athlete, performer… and soon to be the South West’s Fastest Teacher?
2Mr. HodgsonShaldon Primary School, Devon“Running is my therapy! I run once a week with a fellow teacher friend (2 or 3 times in the holidays!) and we use it as our weekly therapy session, making sense of the week and listening to each others’ worries. The fresh air, the exercise and the scenery melt away the worries for another week.

I’ve been running since I was a little boy, representing my school for sprinting. The 100m sprint was my race and I loved to compete. Over the years the distance has increased and the time has decreased!

I ran the 2012 London Marathon which was a lifelong dream – never again though!”
3Mr. TomlinsonBournemouth Collegiate School, Dorset“Running started as a hobby during COVID – I did an online 10K race and caught the bug of getting medals (my kids are very impressed thinking I’ve won every race, which I most certainly haven’t!!)

Several half marathons later I now am aiming to run in the London Marathon!”
4Mr. ClementsBeaminster School, Dorset“I took up running in 2012 never thinking I could do a 5K. I wanted to be a healthy parent for my two young children and that was the kick that got me out of the door. It spiralled from there. 5K’s, 10K’s and then towards my first marathon in 2016. I have since run about 130 marathon distances, some of which are races, most are training runs and some are ultra distances. I have multiple ultra running podiums including a 3rd at my first 50 miler and 3rd at my first 100 miler… I may not be the fastest teacher over 10K, but I can do distance…

If I win the race, it’ll be because other people didn’t turn up! I don’t do speed now!…”
5Mr. WylieTeign School, Devon“I enjoy racing in multi-sports (triathlon & duathlon) & love running competitively & purely for the escape & time outside.

If I were to win I would use it as an opportunity to inspire the next generation of runners & multi-sport athletes at Teign & in our wider primary network. It would be amazing to let them realise there aren’t any barriers to getting outside & putting one foot in front of the other to help them feel more positive.”
6Mr. WagstaffBeaminster School, DorsetMr. Wagstaff has been running for 30 years, with 15 marathons, a couple of ultra’s and a full Ironman distance triathlon under his belt. He was also the Sydney Paralympic Guide Runner for Tracey Hinton (200m and 400m bronze, 800m silver)!
7Mr. LuxaLink Academy Trust, Devon“Bonkers keen runner over any distance, road and trail. Always loved the feeling of freedom running gives me.

If I win I will constantly rub it in the faces of the children I teach.”
8Mr. WilkinsThe Castle School, Somerset“I was never any good at ball sports at school. I’d always run, but a teacher during my A-Levels suggested I joined his running club. The first time we went out I came in second, and I was hooked. I’ve run for the last 30 years and it’s great for stress relief, thinking and general health.”
9Mr. Womersley-WestlakeClyst Vale Community College, Devon“I initially took up running to lose weight but have since taken part in a number of races. I did manage to lose almost 7 stone in weight and have completed many races up to 58km in distance and I am currently 4 weeks away from a 100km ultra marathon.

My long-term aim is to get fit enough to enter the Montane Dragons Back Race before my 50th birthday.”
10Mr. LarkhamMount Kelly, Devon“Running offers enjoyment. The stress release, the exploration, the competition, the achievement. For me, running is meditation. I am humbled and honoured to begin this year’s London Marathon alongside the elite runners.”
11Mr. GoodmanMalmesbury Park Primary School, Dorset“I secured a place in the London Marathon in 2019 and joined my local running club to help get in shape. From that point on I had the running bug. I love running as part of a group, challenging myself and reaching those personal bests.

If I were to win I would use that to inspire the students within my school to show that anything is possible no matter what your starting point is.”
12Mr. GibsonExminster Community Primary School, Devon“I have run nine marathons and numerous half marathons recently winning the Exeter Half Marathon – beating Chris at The Maynard. 😉

I would use the title of the fastest teacher to promote running and healthy lifestyles across the region and for school children and within the teaching community.”
13Mr. StradlingChilthorne Domer Church School, Somerset“Running started as a way to clear my head and quickly turned into a passion. It’s become my therapy session and training ground, both physically and mentally.

Winning (although unlikely, looking at the current entrants) would be incredible, but the real win is inspiring my students to prioritise their wellbeing. Just like seeing a strong runner motivates me, I want to show them that anyone can find strength and confidence through running.”
14Mr. WatersDartington C of E Academy, Devon“I’ve been running a few years and completed many races across the world. I only have an Australasian half marathon to go before completing every continent (bar the obvious one). I have stepped up to ultras, ran the entire distance of Hadrian’s wall, and moved onto triathlons where I am a multiple time Ironman.

Though, my children are most proud that I hold the world record for the fastest marathon in an inflatable costume. I am the world’s fastest pterodactyl… so it would make sense to now become (world’s) fastest South West teacher.”
15Mr. GreevesTeign School, Devon“I’m a really active person and all of the sports that I enjoy need a good level of base fitness that running provides me with.

…that and I was inspired by Arnie in Conan the Barbarian. Watching him run off across the steppe gave me a vision of freedom that drove me to run several mountain marathons and the Grizzly.”
16Mr. KowalskiSt Mellion C of E Primary School, Cornwall“Love a long Sunday run to draw a line under the week just gone and start the next week with a clear head. Enjoy exploring new areas with a run.”
17Mr. GrieveTotnes Independent School, Devon“I have been running since my early school years. I was fortunate to run at Michigan State University for a year before moving on from competitive running. I now enjoy getting out every weekend on Dartmoor and the South West Coast Path. I just completed a 100k from Brighton to London and will run my first 100 miler on the South Downs Way in June. I love the freedom and moments of zen that running provide.”
18Mr. FoxOkehampton College, Devon“Running gives me something to look forward to each day and week. I love the challenge of improving, the daily time out of training, the great places you get to explore and the people you meet, train and race with. I started running through parkrun and have progressed year on year. I now run with Exeter Harriers and came 44th at a national cross country race in Nottingham in March.

“It’s nice to share with students about running and racing when they show an interest. The most common question from them is how much prize money is on offer!”
19Mr. HanleyTreleigh Community Primary School, Cornwall“My Dad played rugby and dabbled in triathlon, which was my initial inspiration towards athletic pursuits. He ran a few marathons, and the medals captivated me.

“After university, whilst I was lifeguarding and training to be a teacher, I had a go at competing in triathlon and found my swim and run to be my strengths. Later, when I was engaged and eventually married, I ran with my wife in many fell and trail races, travelling the UK and Europe.

“I enjoy hilly, off-road running, and enjoy competing in the XC league for my local club, Cornwall AC. My favourite distance is 10K, preferably with a lot of mud and hills!

“If I win the event, I’ll ask my head teacher for an early summer holiday 😄”
20Mr. MundayExeter School, Devon“As a keen multi-sportsman, running has become more important in recent years. As a Geography teacher, one of my biggest joys in life is being outdoors exploring – running suits this perfectly.

“I’m inspired to run by a desire to stay fit and healthy, to create community and to be competitive with myself. Also by the pursuit of improvement and challenge – to see what my body can do.”
21Mr. WoodParkstone Grammar School, Dorset“I got into running 10 years ago when, with no experience of triathlons at all, I signed up to an Ironman triathlon on a whim. Having become ‘bitten by the bug’, I have since raced various distances in a range of countries, including representing Great Britain on numerous occasions as an age-group athlete. I am the current Age-Group British Aquathlon (swim, run) champion.

“I am a member of my local running club, Poole Runners, and enjoy training and racing with friends from the club at both road and off-road races of all distances.

“If I were to win, my hope would be that it would inspire more young people from my school and local community to try something new, set their own challenges, push themselves outside of their comfort zones, and to have the belief that ‘anything is possible’.”
22Mr. ConwayChaddlewood Primary School, Devon“I started running after head and neck injuries forced me to stop playing rugby and as a way to keep fit alongside teaching. I enjoy competing against myself and often see if I can beat a time I have previously recorded.”
23Mr. WoodThe Maynard School, Devon“I hope to inspire my students to get out and be active whatever their ability.”
24Mr. WillmoreSt Peter’s Catholic School, Dorset“I am an avid runner, running most days. When I was younger I used to compete XC, Road and Track across a multitude of distances. I am on a slow build back to fitness and competing after a long period of illness and injury. I am hoping to inspire athletes that you can still run despite setbacks.”
25Mr. GillMontgomery Primary School, Devon“From an early age, I have been a passionate footballer but with the arrival of COVID it put an instant stop to all competitive games. There was still a need to stay fit and I got swept along with the craze of ‘Run 5K, donate £5 and nominate five friends’. I quickly realised I wasn’t that good, but I had a burning desire to get better and as they say, ‘I got the bug’.

“COVID went away but my passion for running hadn’t, so I researched how to improve and made positive lifestyle changes. All of a sudden my times were getting quicker and I felt like I was making progress.

“I now run most days and enter the odd competition. I came second in the City to Sea coastal marathon and have eyes on setting an official sub 3 hour marathon in Amsterdam later this year! I also raised nearly £2000 for MND as part of a running challenge.

“If I were to win, I would spread the positive impact running can have on you physically and mentally, especially for younger people who are still trying to discover who they are what their passions could be.”
26Mr. PeddleBournemouth School for Girls, Dorset“I got into running after a couple of friends convinced me to do the New Forest half marathon. I did it, loved it and haven’t looked back. Since then, I’ve done dozens of races of different distances, have recently joined a running club – Poole Runners, and am out most days pounding the pavements or hitting the trails. It’s not just the physical benefits – just getting outdoors is a great way to help me mentally recharge, rain or shine!

“Part of our school ethos is to “Be ambitious”, so what better way to demonstrate this than to compete to be the South-West’s Fastest Teacher!”
27Mr. LeaHatherleigh Community Primary School, Devon“I’ve run on and off since primary school. I got lazy in my 20s and 30s but picked it up again and am (just about) getting faster in my late 40s.

“My proudest running moments are finishing the Great West Run with my 78 year old dad and just squeezing under a sub 5 minutes track mile last year.

“I won’t win, but I might just be the fastest Old Teacher!”
28Dr. HolmesKingsbridge Community College, Devon“I really enjoyed sports at school but was not really a ‘runner’ until I decided to do a marathon while at university. Since running my first in 2014, I have run 10 marathons, a few half-marathons, one ultra-marathon across Dartmoor, and plenty of cross country races. I really enjoy the process of training and challenging myself to achieve certain goals in races. Beyond competing, running is a really great exercise to fit around the busy life of teaching and which helps my mental as well as physical wellbeing.

“If I were to win, I’d hope to encourage students at my school to take an interest in running or athletics and give the sport a try a bit sooner than I did when I was their age.”
29Mr. ClaydonWest Exe School, Devon“Running is full of so many different challenges that always keep me inspired. Whether it was doing my first half marathon, challenging my 5K PB, or more recently getting into Ultras, there’s always something to keep me challenged and motivated.

“Whilst I am unlikely to be the fastest teacher in the South West, I look forward to pushing myself with this challenge and enjoying a brilliant opportunity.”
1Ms. GillespieFourlanesend Community Primary School, Cornwall“My name is Ayesha Gillespie and I started running when I was 14, informally. I am now a member of my local club – Tamar Trotters. I’ve always run but last year I did the entire Cornish Grand Prix series and came 3rd woman overall and first in my age. I completed all 13 races too. I do park run weekly; I often volunteer or take part. My best park run is 21.05. I have done the London marathon in October 21 in 5 hours 45. I have since worked super hard and dedicated a lot of time to training properly and in November 23 I did the Cornish marathon in 3 hours 43. A huge improvement. I’ve also had two race PB’s this year in the Exeter First Chance 10k and the well known Looe 10 – hillish and hellish!

If I won I’d be overjoyed and hopefully inspire some more of our school children to get involved with the cross country and other running events/sports.”
2Mrs. JonesWithycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School, Devon“I discovered running late in life (My mid 30’s). A group of teachers at my school decided to sign up for a Race for Life Event… I didn’t want to be last so I did a bit of training. I found that I really enjoyed running, getting faster and it was also good for my stress levels.

I progressed to 10k, half marathons and my first marathon in 2017-where I broke 4 hours.

I have now completed 8 marathons with my most recent one being a PB – 3 hours 32 minutes…not bad for an old lady (51).”
3Ms. BrownTeign School, Devon“I only began running seriously in June 2023 after always believing that I couldn’t run for longer than 20 minutes without stopping. I initially worked towards a park run (5K) and then after a couple of months of regularly running park runs on Saturdays, I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Fast forward to March 2024 – I have run 2 half marathons, 28 park runs and I have 4 more races lined up for this year. I am aiming to run a marathon next year!

Through entering this race, I hope to inspire my students to believe that they are capable of anything they put their mind to. I also would like to spread the message to young people that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking on different physical challenges brings so many benefits (both physical and mental).”
4Ms. MorrisseyTeign School, Devon“I love running because no matter what level you’re at, you can set your own goals and keep finding ways to improve. We are all runners, whether we’re speeding along at the front or at a slower pace behind, and a 10K is a 10K however long it takes to cover the distance! My favourite distance is the half marathon, but I’m currently training for a marathon and have really enjoyed pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

Being active is so important for physical and mental health, and running is so simple and accessible. Running is also a great way to develop your mental strength and determination – when the going gets tough, keep going!”
5Miss. HutchensKingskerswell C of E Primary School, Devon“I ran The Great West Run, Exeter, half marathon with some work colleagues last year. We raised money for our school. It was the second time I had run this half marathon and I wanted to beat my time from the previous year, which I did by 10 minutes. I’m not a natural runner so this was a personal accomplishment.”
6Mrs. WylieTeign School, Devon“I started running in Year 7 with an adult neighbour early in the morning before school as I wanted to be the best in PE! 🙂 I gradually increased my mileage into Sixth Form and more so at university. I never really wanted to race, it was just a zero cost easy activity to do to ensure I got a mental break from my studies and to help me stay at the top of my game in my other sports.

I didn’t enter any events until I started working as a PE teacher and these were social events that allowed me to challenge myself alongside my friends… I am absolutely not the fastest right now but I believe I am the most determined to mend my back and get back out there to be a good role model to my students.”
7Mrs. LakeTavistock Primary School, Devon“I have been running competitively for almost 10 years and before that, I was a competitive swimmer. I now also race in Aquathlons and finally won the World Aquathlon Championships in 2022… I also recently represented Devon at the National Cross Country Championships 2024 in Nottingham, where my daughter also raced in the 15 and up age group.

I love inspiring the pupils at our school. We have a superb cross country group with record numbers now attending… I also help with lots of community events involving all the local schools and I am part of the local athletics club.

The parents and staff at school often joke with me saying they always see me running around the local streets and I’m Tavistock’s answer to Forrest Gump! I just love running…”
8Mrs. BurmanStover School, Devon“I started running at the age of 11, representing my school. I have gone on to run over 100 races of marathon and ultra distance, including five 100 mile races. I am currently a member of Torbay Tri club and have recently been working on improving my speed over shorter distances.

I help out with the running club at Stover and if I won would continue to encourage the next generation to get involved in running as a sport.”
9Mrs. DoyleLittleham Church of England Primary School, Devon“I have recently taken up running again after getting really into e-racing and then triathlons. I’ve done a couple of sprint triathlons and duathlons. This year I’m going up do my first open-water triathlon, terrifying! I love doing the Parkrun because I find it so friendly (and running with a pacer is great). Along with a colleague, we plan to start a running club at our school. If I win, I’ll take the opportunity to promote running and healthy lifestyles at our school.”
10Miss. CousinsThe Maynard School, Devon“While I’ve always found my passion in the realms of football and netball, the allure of running has slowly but surely captivated me. In recent times, I’ve discovered the exhilarating thrill of hitting the pavement, finding a newfound appreciation for the rhythm of each stride and the freedom it brings.”
11Mrs. AndrewsTeign School, Devon“I love the challenges that running on Dartmoor in all seasons brings. It focuses my mind, makes me feel close to nature and at one. I prefer to run on my own or with my husband but he’s often ahead so I’m usually on my own, except the downhill bits!

“If I won I would say that running can be whatever you want it to be.”
12Mrs. Lewis-WeeksThe Maynard School, Devon“I have always kept myself fit and healthy for my job as a PE teacher, but always played team sports such as football and hockey. In lockdown, I found a love for running, and have entered numerous 5km, 10km, half marathon races, as well as running the London Marathon and raising £3600 for Macmillan. My favourite thing to do is a Parkrun on a Saturday morning – I love the range of ages, shapes and sizes that all get involved in running or walking 5km.”
13Miss. WilliamsonThe Maynard School, Devon“I started running ‘properly’ around 2015 and quickly found myself running in half marathons. I must have got the running bug because I found myself getting a charity place to run the London Marathon on behalf of CLIC in 2016 and 2017 (raising £11,500) for charity. Since then I’ve run 8 marathons and clocked up a fair few miles!

“I run with Teignbridge Trotters where I met my partner (also an avid runner) and have been fortunate to make lots of lovely friends. I still run but since having my 2 year old I’ve had a bit less time for the really long distances! I’ve still got my eye on an ultra in the future and absolute love the freedom and post run buzz.”
14Mrs. WestobySt James School, Devon“I started running casually as a teenager. Both my parents regularly went out running so I thought it was just what you did! I got into running more seriously at University where I joined the Triathlon Club. I loved the social element of training and racing with others. I love the feeling of running (although still have to drag myself out the door for a run) and now I have two young kids I enjoy the time to myself when running, or the time to catch up with friends.”

“I ran the London marathon last year which was incredible and I was chuffed with my time. If I win I’ll enjoy basking in the glory for a good amount of time and definitely take the trophy in to show my classes!”
15Miss. KnoxMount Street Primary and Nursery, Devon“I started running around six years ago because I thought it looked fun! I quickly realised I was quite fast and trained hard to get faster. I had my little girl during lockdown and then worked REALLY hard to get even faster. I run with the buggy every week at parkrun (they call me buggy lady) and won a marathon before I had my daughter.

“Being a fast, female runner is what I love. My students at school know I run and attend my running club every in order to “run the Plymouth half” alongside me (they do the schools challenge mile whilst I run the half).

“I would be shocked and honoured if I was to win. I think it’s so important to show young girls in particular it’s cool to run fast and keep fit.”
16Mrs. CornishTeign School, Devon“I would probably class myself as more of a hockey player than a runner but during COVID my running journey truly began (alongside a lot of PE with Joe Wicks!). I still run weekly with my running buddy but have also completed 63 parkruns with my family as well as several endurance races of different lengths.

“I am certainly not going to be the fastest teacher, however I always get excited when I achieve a new PB and I love seeing my students running in the local parkruns and hope that I inspire them by getting involved, while they inspire me by being so fast!”
17Mrs. WaringRiviera Education Trust, Devon“From a really young age I remember my neighbour taking me to the local fete and paying 20p to enter me in the children’s race. That was the begin of my love for running. From there I joined Cornwall A.C, then Newport Harriers, representing my club, region and country over 400m as well as combined events and cross country along the way. These days I miss track running but as long as I can throw on a pair of trainers and run I’m happy. Park runs and a few half marathons give me my competitive fix!

“As a PE teacher, I just want young people to find a sport that they love, so win or lose I will be happy that I’ve been part of ‘The Fastest Teacher in the South West.'”
18Miss. SquirrellOldway Primary School, Devon“I started running when I was in Year 7 initially, to help with swimming and other sports I was involved with. I have been running on-and-off since, in between powerlifting, swimming, university and training to be a teacher!

“I love telling the children in my class about my running, as I hope to inspire them to move their bodies in a way that they enjoy. Movement is so important for mental and physical wellbeing, and teaching children this from a young age is vital to help build a generation of happy humans! Running can be a challenge, but proving to yourself that you can do hard things builds resilience and confidence.

“If I won, I would be surprised… but I would continue to promote my love of running to others. Hopefully, this would inspire children to get involved in running or any movement that is enjoyable to them.”
19Miss. RowanTorquay Boys’ Grammar School, Devon“Moving to Devon in 2016 and living so near the coastline inspired me to start trail running simply so that I could go out and see more of it. My most recent (and possibly biggest) achievement has been completing the Endurance Life coastal marathon around Start Point, racking up a breezy 1500m elevation.

“If I win, I will ask the Art and D&T departments to raise a statue in my honour. Maybe.”
20Miss. CoxKingsbridge Community College, Devon“My name is Hannah and I love to run. For me it is the best thing to do after a day in the classroom. Regardless of how my day has been or what my to-do list looks like, I will put my kit on and get out the front door. I will always feel so much better after going for a run, and this is what I have to tell myself (even if it’s raining).

“I recently trained and completed the Exeter Marathon because I wanted something to focus my efforts over winter. It was a great event and I really enjoyed it.

“For anyone thinking of getting into running… DO IT! You will thank yourself in future.”
21Mrs. EvansSt James School, Devon“My Dad inspired me to run at the age of 18, and from there, I joined a triathlon group at university and became the women’s captain of the triathlon society. I love running as a sense of freedom and being able to meet some wonderful people through running groups and races.

“I have recently had a baby – Olive is one years old, and I am currently on the journey of improvement! Therefore, if I win this race, I will celebrate with her and a big slice of cake with all the other Mums out there trying to get their fitness back!”

Vote for your fan favourite!

Even if your favourite teacher doesn’t get a place in the final for their submitted time, they still have a chance to compete!

After the finalists are announced on Thank a Teacher Day (Wednesday 19th June), we’ll be starting a social media vote on Thursday 20th June so the public can choose which other teachers should be the recipients of TWO MORE free places in the final.

Simply go to our Instagram story and vote for your favourite teacher, then come back each day to see who moves forward to the next round.

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  • The race to find the South West’s Fastest Teacher begins!
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