Dorchester Marathon and Casterbridge Half

With no cars to hold him back, Simon Way makes use of the closed roads, powering to a superb 2nd place finish in the Dorchester Marathon

Four representatives from Bournemouth AC were there to compete in the first ever Dorchester Marathon, with some impressive performances making the headlines in the inaugural event.

The race was organised by White Star Running and Dorchester Casterbridge Rotary, who must have either had some good contacts or done some serious schmoozing to get the roads fully closed for the race. The route ran through the historic town of Dorchester and some of the picturesque surrounding villages, taking in all the splendour of the Dorset countryside.

Simon Way wasn’t hanging around to enjoy the scenery though. He was going for the win and actually led the race from mile 17 to mile 26.  Unfortunately though, in the final 200 metres, Simon was pipped to the post by his nearest rival. Because the marathon race had mixed in with the half marathon, he was unaware that the eventual winner had snuck up and overtaken him.

Nevertheless, it was still a tremendous performance from Simon, on a course that turned out to be quite hilly, particularly in the last 5 miles. His finishing time was a very impressive 2 hours, 53 minutes and 21 seconds, just 21 seconds behind the winner.

Damian Boyle also put in an excellent effort, finishing in 20th place overall in a time of 3 hours 14 minutes and 8 seconds. Not only was this a PB for Damian but it was also a Good For Age qualifying time, a target he was very happy to meet, even if was slightly tighter than he’d anticipated.

Damian felt the race was very well organised and really felt the benefit of the great support that was there all the way round. He recalls the point at mile 12 when the crowd was at its most raucous as they went past a pub with several people sitting down enjoying a pint, making him rather envious at that moment in time.

Estelle Slatford made her marathon debut and crossed the line in a very commendable time of 4 hours 12 minutes and 34 seconds. This put her in 230th place overall out of just over 700 finishers and 19th in the female 40-49 category.

Having her friend Elizabeth there to chat to helped Estelle get through her first every marathon

Estelle had been going well for the first 17 miles but she then began to tire a bit but was kept motivated by the amazing atmosphere. She struggled a bit through the last few big hills but was ultimately pleased with her final time.

She did confess that she had been unable to train as much as she would have liked for the event and would like to target a time of under 4 hours for the next one, provided she can get the proper training in. She has also made a mental note to choose a flatter one for her next marathon attempt.

Tony Hunt came in not far behind Estelle, in a time of 4:15:36, putting him 242nd overall. This is some way of the sort of times he is capable of though, but he was running with niggling injuries in both his glutes, which also caused a pain in his left leg and touch of cramp.

With hindsight, he perhaps shouldn’t have run it, but nevertheless, he enjoyed the rural scenery and the atmosphere of the crowd. Plus, it’s another ticked off the list.

Tony Hunt puts the pain to the back his mind to tick another marathon off the list

Meanwhile, in the Casterbridge Half Marathon, which is part of the same event, Tom Paskins secured a place on the podium, crossing the line in 3rd place with a superfast time of 1 hour, 26 minutes and 31 seconds.

As it turned out, Tom was actually only 10 seconds behind the 2nd placed finisher and had been catching him for some time. He still got a decent array of prizes though for coming 3rd, including a £25 Up and Running voucher and a hamper containing tea and biscuits, jam and beer, plus an old fashioned map of Dorchester with the half marathon route drawn in.

Tom was pleased with his time especially given the humid conditions and undulating nature of the course. There was one killer hill between miles 9 and 10 that may well have floored a few people.

Tom Paskins had a few tough hills to contend with on his way to 3rd place in the Casterbridge Half

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jez Bragg conquers the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race

Jez Bragg takes on his biggest challenge yet in the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race

The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race is regarded as the world’s toughest 5-day mountain running race covering a total distance of 315 kilometres and featuring 15,500 metres of ascent.

This was the task that Jez Bragg faced as he set off early Monday morning for the first of five gruelling stages of running, or in some cases climbing up the mountainous spine of Wales from the north to the south of the country.

It was an event that would test the resolve of even the very finest runners and adventurers who dared to take on the challenge. With some of the route across dangerously high and rocky terrain, sometimes with very low visibility, it was a race designed to push the competitors to the very limit of human capability, both physically and mentally, as well as technically.

The first stage was the shortest of the five, although it doesn’t sound short, with 52km to cover but with the highest ascent of any stage at 3,800m. Jez got off to very solid start, completing the course in just under 8 hours and 29 minutes which put him in 5th place overall. out of the 223 competitors who started the race.

Jez scales the rocky mountains from northern to southern Wales

The second stage was 58km with the 3,600m ascent. Jez had an even better day on this one, completing the course in the 3rd fastest time of anyone, 8 hours and 46 minutes.

Day 3 looked on paper the toughest stage, with a distance of 71km and an ascent of 3,500m. Again, Jez kept it steady, finishing in 5th place with a time of 9 hours 36 minutes on a day where only 6 minutes separated Jim Mann who was 2nd fastest on the day to Jez in 5th.

There is no rest for Jez as he scales the mountain and then moves onto the next

Day 4 was another mammoth 71km stage but the was less of ascent on this one of just 2,400m which meant that, although there was a few days of mountain fatigue in the legs, it could still be completed a little quicker than the previous day. Jez clocked the 6th best time of the day in 8 hours and 51 minutes.

On the 5th and final stage, which was the flattest and fastest of them all and was a staggered start according to the overall time gaps of each competitor. This meant that whatever position they crossed the line in on the day would be their placement in the final standings.

Losing your footing in a race like this could mean potential disaster

Unfortunately Jez slipped a little from the extremely high standards he had set in the previous four stages, finishing 14th quickest in just under 8 hours 27 minutes. It didn’t matter though as he had an advantage of over 2 hours on the next placed runner.

This meant Jez finished in a magnificent 5th place overall, with a total time of 44 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds. In such a high standard field, this was an incredible achievement from Jez and one he will no doubt look back on with tremendous pride.

Jez carefully but swiftly navigates his way across the spine of the mountain

Only 127 of the 223 that started actually managed to complete the full race, which gives an indication of the unfathomable difficulty that it presented, even to the most experienced and accomplished ultra runners.

Not only did Jez complete it though, he excelled in it, proving what a phenomenally talented and fiercely determined distance runner he is.

An amazing 5th place finish overall for Jez made the most extreme and brutal journey well worthwhile, as did the breath-taking scenery

 

 

 

 

 

Sensational Silver for Anthony Clark at Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k

Anthony Clark on his way to a superb 2nd place in the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k British Championships

It takes a special kind of runner to even compete in a 100 kilometre ultra. The challenges that a race of such extreme distance can present are beyond imagination for most of us. But for some of those at the very pinnacle of ultra distance running, rather than being a question of “How am I going to complete the race?” it is more along the lines of “How quickly can I do it?” Anthony Clark falls into the latter category.

Anthony put in months of long, hard, gruelling training to get himself in peak condition for the Meridian Ultra National 100k. This included running back-to-back marathons and doing the OX 50k, with a half marathon training run the day before and the OX Half Marathon race the day after, which he won. During his training, 130 mile weeks became the norm, as Anthony put in the extraordinary prep work required for a race of such enormity.

The Anglo Celtic Plate is the British Athletics National 100k Championship and is contested by teams from England, Wales and Scotland. Anthony had been selected to represent England and was one of ten athletes starting the race for the team. Scotland had six representatives and a further five from Wales completed the 21-strong line up.

The standard of runners in the field was astronomical, as you would expect in a situation where all the competitors had been selected to represent their respective countries. Despite this, Anthony was determined to succeed and nothing was going to stand in his way.

It was as much of a mental battle as it was a physical one for Anthony as after the first 5k he was on his own for the whole of the rest of the race.

Anthony was eternally grateful to his wife Nicki for supporting him and keeping him fuelled throughout the day

He found the last 20k particularly brutal as it was getting warmer and he was getting dehydrated with aid stations only available at every 5k point. On the plus side though, with the sun beating down, Anthony did manage to get a pretty good sun tan after being out on the road all that time.

Through a combination of incredible speed, supreme endurance and unwavering commitment to the cause, Anthony was able to get to finish line in an astonishing time of 7 hours and 4 minutes.

To put that into perspective, it’s basically like doing two consecutive three hour marathons and then another 10 miles on top that in just over an hour. That is some seriously uncompromising running.

The performance earned Anthony a silver medal, finishing just 21 minutes behind the winner of the event, Lee Grantham, who was also representing England. Anthony was 19 minutes ahead of David McLure of Scotland who crossed the line in third place.

Anthony collecting his trophy for second place overall and the Men’s Team winner prize with his England counterparts

For the first 20k, Anthony was in 5th place. He then manouvered into 4th position before taking 3rd at the 55k mark. He was able to tell throughout the race where he was in relation to the other contenders and was kept informed by the England team manager who was on his bike.

At the point of taking 3rd, he could have just settled for a place on the podium but that wasn’t enough for Anthony. At 85k, he moved into 2nd place and for the final 10k he knew he had a comfortable enough lead on the 3rd placed runner and would not be able to catch the first place runner. From that point it was just a case of keeping going, as he knew if he stopped he would never get going again.

The silver medal wasn’t the only accolade Anthony got his troubles. He also claimed 27th place on the leaderboard for all-time British 100k times. This is a list that is of course topped by Bournemouth’s very own Steve Way and also contains Jez Bragg who currently sits 21st. Now Anthony has put his name on the list, there are three BAC runners in top 30.

England won the men’s team event as well, with the fastest cumulitive time of 21 hours and 12 minutes following the times of Lee Grantham, Anthony and Paul Fernandez who finished fourth.

Anthony embarks upon his long and lonely journey toward 100k glory as he takes the silver medal

Anthony had been aiming to qualify for the 100k World Championships in Croatia 2018 where he needed a time of 6 hours 55 minutes. With an average pace of 6:38 m/m required, this was always going to be a tall order, but for the first 75k he was on track for that.

Unfortunately he couldn’t quite keep the pace going in the latter stages of the race but it was still a tremendous performance from Anthony and one he should be immensely proud of.

It was very pleasing for Anthony to get on the podium this year, having narrowly missed out after finishing fourth in the race last year. It was also an improvement in terms of performance as well, with Anthony bettering his 2016 time of 7 hours 17 minutes by just over 11 minutes.

Anthony has not ruled out entering the event again next year if selected and if he continues the progress he is currently making, there is every chance he could be going for gold next year and smashing that World Championship qualifying target in the process.

Perhaps with unfinished business, we may yet see Anthony making another appearance in this event in the future. Watch this space!

Rich Nelson hits peak performance in Brecon Beacons Ultra

Rich Nelson faced an uphill task at the Trail Events Company Brecon Beacons Ultra

As we all know, BAC team captain Rich Nelson loves a good hill and can often be found enjoying, or perhaps the term for most of us would enduring, the ups and downs of the Purbeck, or any other hilly terrain he can find. But this challenge looked set to be the one to put that love of hills to ultimate test.

With an elevation gain of 11,608 feet and a distance of 32.23 miles, the Trail Events Company Brecon Beacons Ultra is not one for the faint hearted. In fact, as Rich will most likely now testify, it’s probably one of the toughest races around.

The competitors line up on the start line to see what the Brecon Beacons has to offer

The course started off with an immediate climb on an unused mountain railway track right up to the extremely high summit of the Beacons. It then turns away from the mountains for a number of miles before once again, angling its way back up to the summit.

This was pretty much the order of the day for majority of the race until the final five miles where the route went back down to finish with a flat mile along the Talybont Canal path.

One climb in  particular, that led back up Jacobs Ladder, was described by Rich as one that will haunt him for many years to come. For a man who is such an avid hill running enthusiast to say this, gives some inclination of how brutal and relentless the climbs in the race truly were.

Rich decided to take the harder route

Despite all that though, Rich proved he’s still got the grit and the appetite for major competition as he completed the course in a magnificent time of 6 hours 47 minutes. This put him in 17th place out of a total of 63 finishers, with some of those taking over 9 hours to reach the end.

The winner of the race clocked a time of 5 hours 13 minutes, which again demonstrates it was not a course that can be conquered quickly. It takes a lot of heart and a lot of determination just to make it to the finish line.

The Brecon Beacons boasts some of the most stunning scenery in Britain

Rich was also 5th in the MV40 category on the day, so it was result he could be very proud of in his first ever ultra. After the race, the stats showed he’d covered over 33 miles and 11,538 feet of elevation gain.

“It was a really tough event,” Rich reflected. “The Brecon Beacons is a challenge that will punish the unprepared and humble even the most experienced off road runner.” In fact, the extreme toughness of the terrain is probably the reason why the SAS use this area for their training routines.

The difficulty level and the struggles it presented hasn’t put Rich off though and he’s already considering another similar event in a couple of months time.

The climbs were tough enough to present a challenge to any runner of any ability

Alex, Pawel and Steve set sail for the Lymington Lifeboat 10k

Alex Gould and Pawel Surowiec at the Lymington Lifeboats 10k

Three Bournemouth AC members take to the start line for the Lymington Lifeboat 10K on Sunday (14th May). Alex Goulding, Pawel Surowiec and Steve Parsons were amongst a field of over a thousand people sampling the predominantly flat, multi-terrain course.

The beautiful sunshine was complemented well by the stunning scenery as the course meanders along the top of the sea defences with views stretching all the way to the unmistakable landscape of the Isle of Wight. Starting off on grass, the track then turned to tarmac before hitting the well-trodden, compressed gravel of the ramparts. The gravel path continued for the majority of the run, before returning to tarmac and grass in the lead up to the finish.

There was a bit of a headwind to start off with but that was then behind them as the course changed direction. Pawel found the first 5k easy going but had to really start putting in the work in the second half of the race in order to maintain pace. The last kilometre was a real challenge for him and he summed it up well by describing it as a mixture of joy, excitement and complete exhaustion, followed by massive relief as he dragged his worn out body across the finish line.

Running on the shingle is a bit of a slog and Alex found it particularly tough after 7k when he felt he was struggling from fatigue. It was at this point he thought of Pete Thompson’s marathon spectacular, thinking to himself if Pete has managed to successfully complete 44 marathons in 44 days, surely he should be able to finish 10k without breaking down.  Thankfully that thought kept him going, along with the great support along the way. The community really seemed to pull together well to offer encouragement to the participants throughout the race.

Alex and Pawel both impress on the tricky, multi-terrain course topping off a great weekend of running for the pair

Neither Alex or Pawel had allowed themselves the luxury of resting the day before as both had been out chasing personal bests at Bournemouth Parkrun.  Pawel was celebrating his 100th parkrun and was looking to break 20 minutes for the first time on the course, whilst Alex was striving for a sub 17 minute finish.  Unfortunately, they both narrowly missed out on their targets. However, Alex was first finisher and did still manage to knock 5 seconds off his previous best with a terrific time of 17:05.

Despite that though, they both still managed strong performances at Lymington. Alex ended up taking 7th place with a super speedy time of 35 minutes 40 seconds. This was an improvement of 90 seconds on his time the previous year.  It was Pawel’s first attempt at the course and he came away with a very creditable time of 42:19, putting him 87th in the standings.

Steve Parsons had a slightly different motive as he paced his wife Roz round on her first ever 10k race. Roz had done the distance before in training but managed a quicker time than ever before in her race debut, with Steve’s assistance. The pair crossed the line together in a time of 1:06:52. It was quite a family affair for Steve as his children, aged 5, 6 and 8, took part in the 1k fun run.

Steve Parsons and family celebrate a great day’s running at the Lymington Lifeboats 10k and fun run

 

Great Run from Julian Oxborough at Bristol 10k

Julian Oxborough was one of 13,000 that took part in the Great Bristol 10k

Julian Oxborough completed the Simplyheath Great Bristol 10k on Sunday 7th May in a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 13 seconds. This was the quickest Julian had gone since returning to running following a 17 year absence from the sport and showed he is making good progress in his quest to get back to where he wants to be.

The race started on Anchor Road, near Millennium Square and Bristol Cathedral, running parallel to the historic Bristol Harbour before continuing onto Avon Gorge. The route also took the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, Spike Island and Cumberland Basin before passing the soaring Gothic St Mary Redcliffe on the way back to Anchor Road. It was a fairly flat course with just a couple of notable inclines.

Julian said he would highly recommend the race, which is part of the Great Run series  and attracted a huge field of over 13,000. Julian finished in 10,379th place and was 425th in the male 50-54 category.

Julian giving his all in the latter stages of the race

This would have to go go down as a success for Julian given that it was only a two weeks after completing the London Marathon. He took it steady at the start of the race due to a slight knee concern and then eased into a rhythm before hitting the 5 mile mark in a very creditable 58:26.

Unfortunately he slowed quite considerably over the last 1.2 miles which showed his fitness isn’t quite where it needs to be yet but nevertheless, it was an encouraging step toward his goal of a sub-60 by the end of the year.

Another medal added to the collection for Julian Oxborough after completing the Great Bristol 10k

In other news, Jud Kirk was in action at the David Lloyd Ringwood Triathlon, which is a sprint distance event consisting of a 400m swim, 24km cycle and a 5k run.

Jud finished in 18th place out of 53  with an overall time of 1 hour 20 minutes and 22 seconds. This put him 3rd in his age category. Looking at the breakdown, he was 8th fastest in the 5k run with a super quick time of 19 minutes 35 seconds.

Not only is Jud a very accomplished runner though, he is also a swimming coach, meaning he’s also fairly adept in the water as well. The time for his swim and first transition was down as 8 minutes 43, which would put him 10th fastest for that sector.

It was really the cycle that let him down a bit, with his time of just over 51 minutes not quite matching up as well with those around him. That’s something he may be looking to work on going forward but overall, it was a pleasing result for Jud. The hardest part may well have been having to get up at 5:30 in the morning, but the inclusive breakfast he got afterwards went some way toward making it all worthwile.

 

 

BAC stars gain world notoriety at Wings for Life

Jacek Cieluszecka wins the Wings for Life World Run in Cambridge managing an astounding 68.8km

Bournemouth AC were well and truly put on the map last night on the world stage in the Wings for Life World Run with Jacek Cieluszecki winning the Cambridge race and Steve Way taking third place over in Santa Clarita, California.

The Wings for Life World Run takes place in 25 different starting locations around the world, across six different continents, with over 86,000 runners taking part.  Each of the 25 races around the globe start simultaneously, with the aim of the event being to raise money as much money as possible to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

The idea is run as far as you can before getting caught by the Catcher Car that chases the competitors down, eliminating them from the race one by one. The last person to get caught wins the race.

The English edition was held in Cambridge and that was where F1 Grand Prix legend David Coulthard was giving chase to the runners in the Catcher Car. Even Coulthard found it difficult to catch Jacek Cieluszecki though as he claimed his incredible victory, covering a total distance of 68.8km (42.75 miles).

Jacek chats to the TV presenter and David Coulthard after the race

Jacek was running for 4 hours 32 minutes in total and he actually went the 12th furthest out of anyone in the world on the day. It was an unforgettable achievement and indeed a proud moment for Jacek and for Bournemouth AC.

It was actually another Dorset based runner who was Jacek’s closest rival, as Iain Trickett from Dorset Doddlers claimed the runner up spot, proving just how strong the local running club scene is in this part of the country.

The original plan was to run 40 miles (64km) but at the 55km mark Jacek decided to start speeding up and attempt to chase down the two leaders who were at the front. Amazingly, he was still running at between 6 and 6:10 minute miling, which surprised even Jacek himself.

“When I passed the first guy and then overtook Iain Trickett at around 60km, I knew I was going to win,” recalls Jacek. “It was a great feeling to win such a big event.”

No wonder Jacek looks pleased with his day’s work

Meanwhile, across the pond, Steve Way had decided to enter the California race and again put in a magnificent effort to finish in third place, with a total of 64.87km. For Steve though, this was merely a controlled training run. He was under strict orders from his Nedbank team manager for the forthcoming Comrades ultra not to go beyond 40 miles.

Steve Way opted for Santa Clarita in California as his Wings for Life race

The temptation must have been there for Steve, particularly as he could’ve got a free holiday next year at any of the locations around the world if he had won the race. To his credit though, he stayed disciplined and managed to keep his eyes on the prize of his primary goal, which is the Comrades.

Steve probably thought he was onto a winner when he chose the do the race in California but ironically it turned out to be the coldest of all the locations in the end which left him cursing his luck a bit.

He actually managed the 36th furthest distance out of anyone in the world so this was still a tremendous achievement and gives a good indicator of the level he is at in these kind of endurance events.

Wings for Life is unquestionably one of the most entertaining running events to watch and it, in terms of raising money, it is also one of the most productive, with a total of 6.8 million euros being raised. This money will be put towards funding more research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury. It was good to see some Bournemouth AC members contributing so hugely toward that.

A truly memorable day for Jacek after his outstanding performance saw him go 12th furthest out of anyone in the world

 

 

 

Solid Start to Season for BAC’s Men’s BAL Team

On Saturday 6th May, the BAC BAL team travelled to Kingsmeadow, London for their first match of the year. The team was promoted to Div 2 at the end of the last season which now ranks them inside the top 24 teams in the UK. The team, which saw some new athletes battling alongside most of last year’s usual faces, encountered some tough opposition which included a number of GB&NI International Athletes.

Notable performances in the field came from thrower Dan Brunsden who scored solid points in the Shot, Discus and Hammer. Returning to the team this year was his brother Steve, who after some years out of competition, returned to set a new PB with a 49.01m Hammer throw.

Long Jumper Bradley Pickup rejoined the team this year teaming up with James Lelliott to take 1st place in the A and B strings. They both also scored valuable points together in the Triple Jump. Lelliott once again demonstrated his versatility over a range of other events winning the B Discus and coming 3rd in the A Javelin (55.03m). The B string Javelin was won by Andy Brown.

Alex Cox made a solid start to his season coming 3rd in the A High Jump (1.90m) with Cameron Hale 4th in the B. Hale then went on to just miss out on a PB in the Pole Vault, clearing 3.20m

Harry Dalton, a new multi-event athlete for the team gained valuable points in the Pole Vault, Shot, 110m Hurdles and the 4x400m Relay. Like Lelliott, he is destined to score many points for the team during this year’s campaign.

On the track the wind was quite blustery at times. The sprinters were mixing it with some tough international competition such as Conrad Williams. Lelliott doubled up for 100m and 200m with support in the B strings from Pickup and Ben Arnold. Scott Rutter joined with Lelliott, Pickup and Arnold to finish a commendable 4th place in the 4x100m Relay.

In the 400m, Kev Hodgson and Muiris Egan returned to gain valuable points, before joining with Dalton and fellow new team member Yiu Man Wong in the 4x400m Relay where they finished 5th in a tough race.

Rob Green, a former English Schools 400m Hurdles 4th placer, made his debut for the team with a solid A race, 57.33 a time unseen from a BAC athlete for many years. Wong was 4th in the B race.

Jamie Grose and Lewis Sainval, who had both been out for some weeks over the past few months made a return to the track to contest the 800m. Grose was 6th in the A string, but a determined race by Sainval allowed him to clinch 2nd place in the B race.

Josh King set a new lifetime best in the 3000m Steeple Chase, finishing 3rd with a time of 9:52.9. Ever present Roy Long gained those valuable points in the B race, finishing 5th.

David Long and Rob McTaggart both had strong races in the 3000m. Long was 4th in the A race (8:51.27) and McTaggart 3rd in the B (9:05.58) having just completed the London Marathon less than a fortnight earlier. Long and Grose both also competed in the 1500m finishing 4th (A) and 3rd (B) respectively.

At the end of the day BAC finished in 4th place (of 8) with only 24 points separating 1th to 4th places. This sets yet another highest ever position for a BAC team.

Team Manager Tim Hughes was delighted with the performance of his athletes and the solid start to life in Div 2. “This match was never going to be easy, but the determination of our athletes never fails to impress. They are not phased by the higher standards found in Div 2 and they genuinely would love to go out there and try and win the Division. I targeted recruitment over the winter towards what have become traditionally weak events for us, and the new guys Rob, Harry and Yiu Man along with returning athletes Steve and Bradley did not fail to impress”.

Hughes goes on to talk about the next match. “We have made a solid start so far finishing 4th in a match where the top three teams were all effectively very local to the event. Next time they have to travel too. I don’t doubt that we can go and put in another solid performance at the June match and maybe start to creep up the league table”.

Match Result: http://www1.bal.org.uk/media/1599/2017-div-2-match-1-results-v1.pdf

Simon Hearn hits Milton Keynes Half Marathon

Simon Hearn prepares to take on the Milton Keynes Half Marathon

There are many different ways to spend a bank holiday Monday, some like to have a chilled one with family, others like to meet with friends for a pub lunch and a few beers. Then there are those who look to engage in something a little more energetic, like Simon Hearn for instance.

Simon took himself up to Milton Keynes to take on the MK Half Marathon. The race is part of the extremely popular MK Marathon Weekend, which includes a 5k and a 10k race, as well as the Marathon and Half Marathon.

The race kicks off from the magnificent stadiumMK, home to MK Dons football club of course, and follows wide roads and tree lined boulevards for the first five miles. The route then follows a more picturesque path through some parishes and onto Walton Lake, which is one of Milton Keynes’ richest wildlife spots.

The race then heads back to stadiumMK and finishes with a lap around the pitch, milking the applause from the crowd as you go before finally crossing the finish line.

Simon has become a dab hand at half marathons for late, having completed his last few races in sub 1:30 times. He had been following a rigorous 10 week training programme in there lead up to the MK Half and was hoping it could be another sub 1.30 in the bag.

The tactic was to go with the 1:30 pacer, who happened to be a former team mate of fellow BAC member Richard Brawn when he was with Dacorum & Tring. Richard did the Milton Keynes Half Marathon last year and had mentioned to Simon that he knew the 1:30 pacer, Jamie Marlow, would definitely be bang on.

Simon executed the plan well initially and managed to stay with Jamie up until around the 10 mile mark. Although it is billed as a fairly flat race though, there are quite a few twists and turns and numerous points where there are slight elevations that can knock your pace off track.

Over the last few miles Simon slipped slightly off the pace and wasn’t quite able to recover, costing him the sub 1:30 time he’d been hoping for. It was a very close call in the end though, with Simon still ending up with an excellent time of 1:30:35.

Simon adds another half marathon notch to his belt

This put him in 62nd place overall out of 3,008 finishers. He was also 14th in the MV40 category so all things considered a very good performance from Simon.

Despite not quite hitting his target, Simon was pleased with his run and thoroughly enjoyed the race, stating that he would recommend it to anyone. Knowing Simon, he’ll be back imminently and will already be contemplating his next big challenge.

Simon completed the MK Half Marathon in a superb time of 1:30:35

Big success for BAC at North Dorset Village Marathon

Anthony Clark enjoying himself at the North Dorset Village Marathon

A  very successful day for Bournemouth AC at the North Dorset Village Marathon saw club members securing joint first place in the men’s race, first in the ladies race and first in the men’s team competition.

Steve Way was a late entry into the race, seeing it as a good opportunity to further his training for the Comrades Ultra in June. Before the race though, he found out that Chris Wood of Wimbourne AC was going to attempt a sub 2 hour 45 minute marathon for the first time. Steve then took it upon himself to do all he could to help Chris achieve his target, pacing him the whole way and shielding him from the difficult crosswinds at certain points in on the course.

There was one minor hitch where Steve had to queue up for two minutes to use the porter-loo at mile 12, meaning he then had to go some to catch Chris back up. Besides that though, the plan worked to perfection and Chris and Steve crossed the line together in a time of 2 hours and 42 minutes, a 10 minute PB for Chris. Naturally, Steve recognised that it was Chris’s moment and allowed him to take the glory of first place in official standings.

Steve Way guides Chris Wood to a tremendous sub 2.45 marathon

Anthony Clark was also using the NDVM as a training run as he works toward his 100k ultra which is in just over a couple of weeks time. Like Steve, Anthony was also in action at the London Marathon the week before. However, shortly after the VLM, Anthony then jetted off to Portugal with the infamous Peter Thompson to join him in the next stage of his consecutive marathon adventures. They completed the Lisbon Marathon together. That meant the NDVM was Anthony’s third marathon in the space of a week. This didn’t seem to effect him too much though as he coasted in in third place in a superb time of 2 hours 45 minutes, much quicker than his planned training run.

Anthony Clark making light work of the country lanes of Sturminster Newton

Nikki Sandell was hoping she’d recovered okay from the Brighton Marathon two weeks ago where she managed to turn her ankle over, leading to a considerable amount of swelling. She wasn’t going to let this get in the way of her putting in a fantastic performance at the NDVM though, as she finished in 12th place overall and was the first lady over the line. Nikki’s time of 3 hours 11 minutes was 5 minutes quicker than her previous best time in the NDVM, which she did in 2015.

Nikki Sandell powers through to victory in the women’s race

Next BAC member in the standings was Nick Kenchington, who had a remarkable run to seal a Good For Age qualifying time for the London Marathon next year. He finished in 3 hours 13 minutes, comfortably inside the 3.20 time he needed, and giving him 15th place overall out of a field of 236.

The men’s team prize was worked out by the cumulative total of the first three finishers from each club. Steve, Anthony and Nick had a combined time of 8 hours 41 minutes which was good enough to take the top spot.

Steve Cox had also been through the rigours of an intense marathon training schedule in the lead up to the race. He completed the course in a time of 3 hours 50 minutes. By many peoples’ standards this would be an excellent time but Steve was a little disappointed and had hoped to go quicker. The conditions on the day were pretty tough though, with the strong crosswinds providing a real battle at times during the race, not to mention the undulating terrain.

Steve Cox thinking of that beer and hog roast he’ll be able to consume once he gets to the line

Andy Gillespie was another who was coming off the back of having completed the London Marathon the week before. Fitness wise he was feeling fine but his hips were hurting from around the 18 mile mark which made it quite a painful one in the end. Nevertheless, Andy was determined to finish as Ian Graham had mentioned to him that it would be worth some points in the Dorset League if BAC had six members completing the race. He ended up clocking a very respectable time of 4 hours and 8 minutes, which was only 6 minutes off the time he set at the VLM.

Stuart Nicholas opted to run the NDVM with his brother Matthew, thereby taking it a lot slower than he otherwise would have. Matthew had planned to finish in around 4 hours but his wheels fell off around the 17 mile mile mark and they had to run/walk the remainder. The pair came over the line together in 4 hours and 32 minutes. Stuart had raced round the VLM course the previous week in a terrific time of 2 hours and 43 minutes.

Stuart Nicholas in cruise control

Although it was a fairly tough course and the conditions were testing, most of the competitors enjoyed the NDVM and were kept motivated by the prospect of the hog roast they each got to enjoy afterwards with a nice cold beer. It’s not all bad, this marathon running lark!

Anthony Clark tackles the his third marathon in a week with a smile
Steve Way and Chris Wood after finishing a very satisfactory race