Uphill Task for Toby Chapman at Mont-Blanc Marathon

Toby Chapman prepares to tackle his biggest challenge yet – The Mont-Blanc Marathon 80km

The Mont-Blanc Marathon 80km race is one of the most notorious races in the running calendar anywhere across Europe. It provides the opportunity for runners to test themselves to the ultimate limit, with the 82km route incorporating 6000 metres of vertical. It is widely recognized as one of the most technical races in France, but also one of the most beautiful.

This was the challenge that Toby Chapman set out to accomplish this summer. It was always going to be an extraordinarily tough feat but that is the kind of mentality Toby has. If it’s guaranteed that you are going to succeed then it isn’t really a challenge in the first place.

Toby had done a fair bit of training in the Alps in the lead up to the race so he knew what he was letting himself in for and had given himself the chance to get to grips with the conditions he would be facing.

The race kicked off from the Place de I’Église in Central Chamonix at 4am local time on Friday 23rd June. The runners were immediately thrust into an elevation gain of 1442m up to the first checkpoint at Brévant. This was 11km in and Toby arrived in just under 1 hour 53 minutes, putting him in 112th place.

It was then down to Flégère for the next checkpoint which Toby reached in 2 hours 48 minutes. That was 19km done and Toby had moved up to 106th.

37 minutes later, Toby arrived at the 22km mark, Tete Aux Vents, in 117th place. Then it was down to Buet, where he clocked in at in 4 hours 20 minutes. This was already a massive 29km completed and Toby was now 140th at this point.

The trail then climbed around 1300m to the Col du Corbeau before descending to the next checkpoint at Le Molard. This was now 38km done and Toby had been running for 6 hours 12 minutes. He was now 133rd in the standings.

There was another steep climb up to the next checkpoint situated at Barrage Emosson. This took Toby up to 43.3km covered with a total elevation gain of 3491m. He’d now been running for just over 8 hours and was really feeling the effects of the altitude.

The route then descended down just as steeply to Chatelard Village. Unfortunately this was destined to be the final checkpoint that Toby would reach. He was now 9 hours 12 minutes in and was really suffering with altitude sickness. He’d amassed a total of 47.5km and was in 186th place.

Next up was another climb, up to Catogne at the 53.2km mark. Sadly, Toby did not make it that far. He’d been feeling very sick when running uphill for the past four hours and had tried taking increased fluids on board, additional food and increased rest periods. Unfortunately none of this seemed to help and Toby had to abandon the race. He’d been running for almost 9 hours 35 minutes.

Toby was sadly forced to withdraw after covering 47km in nine and a half hours of mountain running

Whilst it was gutting for Toby not to have been able to complete the full 80km of the race, on reflection he should be able to look back on his efforts with immense pride. 47km of running up and down huge peaks with an elevation gain of 3,544m is still an amazing achievement that most hardy runners wouldn’t even dream of attempting.

It just goes to show though that in running nothing is certain. You can put in all the training and make every effort to get into the best possible physical and mental shape for a race, but anything can happen on the day. Injury could hit, illness can take hold, weather conditions could hamper performance. It is the great unknown of running and it’s one of the reasons we all love it so much and rejoice on those rare occasions when it all comes together as planned.

Toby showed great courage to push himself out of his comfort zone and attempt something that he knew was going to be incredibly difficult, even for an athlete of his great calibre. No doubt, he will grow from this experience and will come back stronger and even more determined to succeed in his next challenge.

Toby was not overawed by the idea of running up the highest mountain in Western Europe and showed amazing character and strength to get as far as he did

 

 

 

 

 

BAC pull together for Purbeck 10k

Alex Gould and Stu Nicholas making good headway at the front of the field in the Purbeck 10k

The Purbeck 10k saw a successful return to the scoreboard in the Dorset Road Race League for Bournemouth AC after Rich Nelson managed to scrape a mens’ team together at the last minute.

A week prior to the event, only four BAC men had signed up, but with a little bit of wheeling and dealing Rich managed to draft in Stuart Nicholas and Jez Bragg to bolster the team significantly. As usual, the ladies had managed to get a team together so they were good to go.

The course was a lollipop style out and back route but as it was fairly undulating throughout it was tricky to get the pacing right. In the first 3k there was a long downhill stretch which of course then turned to an incline in the latter stages of the race. They were also running into a headwind on the return approach which also contributed to the significantly tougher second half.

Stu Nicholas was first home for BAC, finishing in 6th place with a very quick time of 35:43. Stu set off at a very quick pace which he found difficult to maintain for the rest of the race. He knew the hill at the end was deceptively tough though so kept a bit in the tank for a strong finish.

Stu doesn’t run 10k races all that regularly and it turned out that his finishing time was actually a 30 second PB. He had originally planned to stay close to Alex Goulding, since the pair had done a fair bit of training together on Tuesday nights in the lead up to the race.

Unfortunately Alex wasn’t in top form though after suffering from a recent illness that he’s found very difficult to shake. Despite that though, Alex still manufactured a top ten finish, which in such a competitive field is still a very good achievement. Alex came in 9th place with a time of 36:25, putting him 2nd in the V40 category.

Alex and Stu both recorded top ten finishes in an extremely competitive field

Jez Bragg and Tom Paskins were pretty close to each other throughout the whole race. It was a bit of a shell shock for Jez to be running at 6 minute mile sort of pace after his recent exploits in the Dragon’s Back Race. The Dragon’s Back Race was a five day mountain event, covering a total distance of 315km, so that was all about endurance and entailed running at a much steadier pace.

Despite that Jez adapted well to running at the faster pace and even had enough energy left to out-sprint a fellow Dragon’s Back competitor Dave Jones of Poole AC. He also held off Tom Paskins as well, who crossed the line in the same time as Jez in 37:20, although Tom’s chip time was actually two seconds quicker. Jez came in 15th with Tom in 16th.

Tom initially found it hard to get going, since it was a Friday night race which is slightly out of the ordinary but he soon managed to settle into a rhythm. He was very pleased with his performance given the consistent undulations and enjoyed the lovely views of Corfe Castle that could be seen en route. Tom was also particularly impressed with the post burgers as well, as he made the post of the opportunity for an essential post race refuel.

Tom Paskins in the blue t-shirt next to Sanjai Sharma, with Jez Bragg on the inside, all finishing in scoring positions for BAC

The fifth scorer the mens’ team was Sanjai Sharma, who posted a very solid time of 38:45 to claim 40th place overall and 4th in the V50 category. Although it was his slowest 10k for quite a while, Sanjai had been running on tired legs following a very busy week so he wasn’t too disappointed with his performance.

Completing the line up for the mens’ team was Steve Parsons, who finished in 154th place with a time of 46:46. This was still fairly high up in the standings in a field of 470 finishers.

Due to a undulating nature of the course, Steve found it hard to get any rhythm but he was pleased with the end result after having recently been out for three weeks with an injury. Even though Steve is still in the process of getting back to full fitness, he still managed to knock 1 and a half minutes off his time from last year.

Steve Parsons cruises to a 46:46 finish, beating his time from last year by a minute and a half

In the womens’ race, Emma Dews finished in 2nd place with a stellar time of 39:32. it was Emma’s first race since October last year and he felt she struggled a bit, particular in the second half of the race where the hills and the headwind came into play.

Her first 5k was very quick, completing it in 19:04 but the pace fell away slightly in the second half of the race, which she did in 20:28. This resulted in a fair few people overtaking her, including the lady who came in 1st place, which was a bitter pill to swallow for Emma.

Emma tends to go into local races with a ‘win or bust’ mindset so is always disappointed when he she doesn’t come out on top. She still enjoyed the social element of it though as the team gathered in the pub afterwards for a post race refreshment.

Yvonne Tibble was locked in a battle with Carol Jones, the lady who finished 1st in the V55 category last year. This time it was a different story though, as Yvonne came out on top, sealing yet another category win in a time of 46:15. This was 20 seconds quicker than Carol. Although it wasn’t a quick time by her standards, Yvonne was pleased with the result. Carol, on the other hand, was not.

Kirsty Dewitt on the outside left, Tamzin Petersen just obscured by 351 and Steve Parsons in the middle of the road

Tamzin Petersen also put in a strong performance, finishing as 19th placed lady out of 204 in a time of 47:45. Tamzin was a little disappointed as her time was significantly slower than what she did in the Poole 10k earlier in the month but that was to be expected, given the substantial uphill sections and the crosswind throughout the second half of the race. Tamzin had also been away in South Africa earlier in the week meaning her preparation hadn’t been ideal going into the race. Given that, she should be fairly pleased with the outcome.

Kirsty Drewett was 34th lady over the line, completing a reasonably successful outing for the women, all-in-all. Kirsty ran a strong out leg, going through the first 5k ahead of schedule. The second half of the race she found tougher, losing around two minutes, although her splits for the second 5k were fairly even so she was pleased with her improvement in that respect.

It would appear that the mens’ team finished in 3rd place on the day and the ladies team were 4th, although that is yet to be officially confirmed.

Steve Parsons heads toward the finish to complete a decent display from the mens’ team

Simon Hearn battles it out with son Sebastian at the Hull 10k

Simon Hearn and son Sebastian went head-to-head at the Hull 10k

After following a strict and tailored training plan for the past six weeks, Simon Hearn made the trip up to Hull to compete in the “Run For All” Hull 10k. What was unique about this race though was that Simon was doing it with his son Sebastian, which was fitting since it also happened to be on Father’s Day.

Sebastian, who is now 17, was a BAC member when he was younger but moved away to attend Harrogate Army College. Simon knew that Sebastian had been doing some running whilst he’s been up there and had heard that he’d been posting some very good times for races of that kind of distance but he was still hoping to be the stronger of the two on the day.

The conditions were extremely hot on the morning of the race with temperatures soaring to around 30 degrees, meaning it was always going to be difficult for Simon to get the sub 40 time that he was aiming for. He set off quickly, posting a 6:15 for his first mile before settling into a more comfortable pace.

After his fast start, Simon spent the rest of the race looking over his shoulder to see if Sebastian was catching him. However, it turned out that his son had actually sneaked past him on the second mile without Simon realising, so in fact, the whole time he’d been looking behind him, Sebastian was actually ahead of him.

As Simon got close to finish, to his surprise, he overheard the commentator saying Sebastian’s name over the tannoy. At first he thought there must have been some mix up with the numbers since he hadn’t seen his son come past him, but as he crossed the line he saw that Sebastian was already there.

Simon’s finishing time was 40:37, which put him in 59th place in a field of 4,200 and 7th place in the M45 category. This was a strong performance by any standards, but especially in the intense heat.

In fact, Sebastian had actually come in 22 seconds ahead of Simon, in a superb time of 40:15, which put him in 48th position and 17th in his age category.

It was a bittersweet moment for Simon, who, whilst he was disappointed not to have beaten his son, was also pleased to see Sebastian running so well and immensely proud of him.

The crowd that came out to watch the race and support the runners was enormous and in fact, Simon had never seen so many people cheering the runners on in any race he’d done before. This helped make the occasion an even more memorable one.

Putting the competitive element aside though, it was a great experience for Simon to be able to do the race with Sebastian and for a father and a son to both be running at that kind of level is probably quite unusual so huge respect to both of them.

Simon was narrowly pipped to the post by Sebastian, with both achieving an impressive top 60 finish

 

Joy Wright enters impromptu half marathon in Madeira

Joy Wright does her bit to help restore the reputation of Brits abroad

Whilst enjoying a well earned vacation in the sunnier climes of Madeira, in true BAC member fashion, Joy Wright decided to rock up and take part in an impromptu half marathon that just happened to be on in the area at the time.

The race was called Meia Maratona Atlântida and was staged on a hilly route along the south coast of the island starting at Câmara de Lobos.

Joy knew very little about the race and hadn’t planned on doing it at all. She’s currently focusing more on the track but found out about it when talking to a lady in a camping shop and just thought why not give it go. And it turned out to be a great decision.

She actually finished 4th female in the race and took 1st place in the V40 category. This came as great and completely unexpected result for Joy.

In fact, she could even have snuck into the top three, narrowly missing out by just 11 seconds. She actually thought she was in 4th place throughout so consequently wasn’t too worried when she was overtaken by two women on the last hill with just 200m to go.

As it turned out she had enough left in the tank for a sprint finish down the hill for the last 80m. In the process she overtook one of the ladies who had passed her on the hill, along with a couple of men as well. If she had known she was actually in third place, she could have perhaps put up more of a fight to hold onto the position.

When all is said and done though, she had to remind herself that it wasn’t about the competitive element, it was the experience that she really did it for, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Finishing 4th and winning the V40 category was just the icing the cake.

Joy’s finishing time of 1:42:28 was certainly a performance to be proud of. In fact, it might even go some way toward helping to restore the reputation of Brits abroad. And she wasn’t even wearing a football top at the time. She did happen to have a beer afterwards though, although in her defence, it was a beer company sponsoring the event so it would have been rude not to.

Joy just rocked up to the random half marathon in Madeira and ended up taking top spot on the podium for the female V40 category

 

Chris O’Brien racks up the mileage at Endure 24

Chris O’Brien and his BugFace teammates are still standing after an exhausting but rewarding 24 hours of continuous running

Chris O’Brien took part in Endure 24 over the weekend which, as the  name suggests, is a 24 hour endurance running event where the task is to complete as many 5 mile laps of the woodland trail course as possible.

The race can be done as part of a small team (3 to 5), a larger team (6 to 8), in pairs or as a solo runner. The number of laps done by each team, pair or individual are then added together at the end and compared against others of the same type to see who has covered the most distance.

The event was held at Washing Park in Reading, where camping space is provided for the participants so they can rest between laps and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the race village as the event progresses.

Chris took on the challenge as part of a mixed team of four and was going to the race knowing he’ll be suffering from severe jet lag having only just flown back from Arizona the night before.

Despite that though, Chris was determined to take part in the event due to his incredible commitment to raise money for “Batten Fighters Forever”, a charity that raises money for those effected by this rare inherited disorder affecting the nervous system causing numerous difficulties and ultimately premature death.

This was far from the ideal preparation for an event of such magnitude and for such a huge physical and mental challenge. But Chris demonstrated tremendous commitment to the cause and was determined to see it through.

It was originally intended to be a team of five but one member had pulled out due to injury, meaning already they were starting with a handicap. Of the other teammates that were taking part, one of them, Mark, had an inured ankle and another one, Emma, was suffering from the remnants of concussion and skull issues caused by a face plant onto the pavement five weeks ago. The other team member, Mick, was fortunatelty not carrying any injury.

Chris and his team put their fragilities behind them and set off on their way. The plan was for each team member to run one lap before handing over to the next in a continuous relay throughout the duration of the event.

Chris got the ball rolling by running two laps, since they couldn’t be sure at this point how many laps Mark and Emma would be able to manage. He then handed over to Emma, where the one lap pattern began, ensuring the team had one runner out on the course at all times. This gave each of them around a two and half hour window between laps to rest and recouperate.

As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough as it is, there was some further drama for Chris to contend with on his first lap when he got a stone stuck in his shoe. Rather unusually, the stone had actually pierced the bottom of his trainer and gone right the way through and cut his foot. This was not the ideal start but Chris bandaged it up and soldiered on.

The one lap routine continued until Chris has completed his fifth lap by approximately 2.25am. None of them had had any sleep any then so they decided to take a two hour break. Chris managed to get one and a half hour’s sleep before the running resumed with Emma kicking off the one lap each sequence.

Chris finally stopped for a short power nap after 30 miles worth of trail running

This continued until Chris had done his seventh lap, equating to an astounding 35 miles. Emma wanted to do one more lap so she went on to do her seventh lap before all four members of the team walked the final lap together. That took Chris’s total mileage for the event up to a massive 40 miles. Not bad for a guy suffering from jet lag, a severe lack of sleep and a stone through his foot!

As a team they covered a total of 27 laps, which equates to a total of 135 miles between them. This put them 81st out of 138 teams of 3 to 5 people. Putting the competitive element to one side though, it was really all about raising as much money as they possibly could for the charity and enjoying the team spirit, camaraderie and togetherness that a 24 hour running event brings. In those respects, Chris and his team were absolutely triumphant.

Chris covered an impressive 40 miles in total with the team putting an an incredible 27 laps equating to 135 miles between them

 

Puddletown Half Marathon proves to be anything but a Plod

A smile of success for Nikki Sandell as she races to victory in the Puddletown Plod Half Marathon

The Puddletown Plod didn’t quite attract the same level of attention this year as it did last year when BAC athletes dominated the standings taking five out of the top six places, including a top four clean sweep for Steve Way, Jon Sharkey, Paul Dixon-Box and Peter Thompson. That said, this year’s batch still managed a very successful outing, scooping numerous prizes between them.

Although Bournemouth did not have a victor in the mens’ race this time round, they did have a winner in the female stakes, with Nikki Sandell claiming that honour in a super quick time of 1:32:20. This put her 3 minutes and 22 seconds ahead of the second placed lady. She was 35th overall in a field of 215 finishers and it was a 22 second improvement on her time last year when she finished 3rd woman.

Nikki shows the rest of the ladies the way. The only problem was, they were too far behind to see!

Sanjai Sharma also took home some silverware, winning the m50 category with a terrific time of 1:24:19. That put him in 9th place overall and was a pretty good return for Sanjai given that this was the furthest he’d run since the London Marathon back in April.

Sanjai had been hoping for a around 1 hour 23 minutes and was on course to achieve that until he got a stitch in the last two miles. Unfortunately Sanjai doesn’t seem to be having much luck in the latter stages of races lately, having been struck down by cramp in the final stages of the VLM.

It was still only 3 and a half minutes off his PB time of 1:20:53 from last year. This was when he was in his very best form and finished in 6th place.

Sanjai Sharma on his way to a top ten finish and first place in the m50 category

Yvonne Tibble kept up that winning theme by taking 1st place in the f50 category with a time of 1:42:47. Yvonne has been on quite a streak of late, also claiming a category win at the Poole 10k the previous week, as well as finishing 1st overall woman in the Imperial Series earlier in the year.

It was a surprising success for Yvonne who wasn’t overly confident going into the race having not managed to do as much half marathon training as she would’ve liked. In fact, 10 miles was the furthest she had gone in the lead up to the race.

The first eight miles of the run went smoothly for Yvonne but it got tough from there on in. Nevertheless, Yvonne rallied well and was 8th lady over the line on the day and finished 74th overall.

The conditions were okay on the whole, although it was a fairly warm day and there was a light breeze. The course is undulating in places which can make it quite tough going. One man who does usually enjoy hilly races is Jud Kirk.

Jud was hoping for a time of around 1 hour 32 minutes and was expecting to at least get under 1:35. Unfortunately it didn’t go quite as planned and he found himself slowing considerably as the race went on. The last five miles in particular were a real struggle but he persevered got to the line in a still very respectable time of 1:36:06. This put him in 49th position overall and 10th in the m50 category.

The only real downside was that the Puddletown Plod is a Dorset Road Race League fixture but sadly due to only fielding two men and two ladies, BAC won’t actually get any points for the team competition. Hopefully the turnout will be better for the remaining DRRL races.

A very satisfying day for the individuals who did take part in the Puddletown Plod

 

 

 

Richard Brawn breaks 1:30 at Derby Half Marathon

Richard Brawn powers along on his huge sub 1:30 attempt at the Ramathon Derby Half Marathon

Whilst many Bournemouth AC members stayed local for the Poole Festival of Running, Richard Brawn casted his net further afield as he made the long journey up to Derby for the Ramathon Derby Half Marathon.

This was the race that Richard had been targeting for his first sub 1:30 half marathon and he had undertaken a rigorous 10 week training programme in the lead up to the race.

After seeing quite a big improvement in his running since starting the training programme, Richard was in confident mood going into the race. He’d set a couple of parkrun PB’s in the lead up to the big day and had also set a new half marathon PB of 1:30:01 at Southampton half way through his training programme.

Although he was intending on treating the Southampton race as more of a training run, it went so well that it very nearly resulted in the sub 1:30 run well ahead of schedule. This was a huge boost for Richard and proved that the six day, 40 mile-a-week training routine he’d been doing had put him on the right track.

The race route started and finished just outside Pride Park stadium, the home of Derby County Football Club. It was a great place to stage a large race of this kind and the course was fairly flat for the duration, so a good one for setting a quick time.

Richard gives it all he’s got on the final stretch of the race as the route took him round Pride Park stadium

Despite being determined not to set off too quickly from the start, Richard was feeling comfortable running at around 6:30 pace for the first five miles. He then followed that up with a couple of 6:40 miles.

It was on the 8th mile that Richard started to feel his energy being slowly sapped away, although he did still manage to complete that mile in 6:49, so still under the target of 6:50 that he’d set himself for each mile.

The course then turned off the road and changed to a track through a woodland area and through a few parks. This was where Richard really began to struggle to maintain the pace.

The conditions were very hot but luckily there was a bit of a breeze which prevented the runners from suffering as much. For a few miles the route took the runners over a gravelly sort of surface.

On the 11th mile, the heat and the surface and his apparent lack of energy had really got the better of Richard and he turned in his slowest mile of the race, at 7:28. By this time Richard had mentally given up on finishing within the 1:30 target time. Then, half way through the 12th mile, he switched his watch onto time to see how he was doing and was surprised to see that it said 1 hour 19 minutes. This meant if he got a move on, he’d still be able to reach the finish line within the time he was hoping for.

With that psychological boost, Richard manage to get back to his normal pace for the last mile and a half and once Pride Park stadium came into view he knew he had done it. He still kept pushing to the line as he wanted to get the quickest time he could and his energy levels had been reinvigorated by the crowd as he worked his way round the stadium to the finish line.

Richard wears his medal with pride after finishing a tough but rewarding race

Richard’s official time was 1:29:06 which put him in 122nd place overall out of field of 2,780. Although he was elated about having finally breached that illusive 1:30 barrier, he was a touch disappointed that his pace dropped so significantly for a period in the race. That said, it’s certainly something to build on and has given him the belief that he can go faster with a better race management strategy.

Ultimately, Richard was glad that the 10 week’s of hard training paid off and he was able to achieve the target he wanted to and he’s looking forward to his next challenge, whatever that may be.

A happy Richard celebrates achieving his goal in emphatic style

 

 

BAC out in force at Poole Festival of Running

Jacek Cieluszecki is roared on by the crowds as he leads the way for BAC in the Poole 10k

A healthy contingent of Bournemouth AC members made the short trip over for the Poole running festival and they more than made their presence felt over the weekend’s 10k and 5k races.

Jacek Cieluszecki followed up his incredible victory in the Wings for Life “run till everyone else has been caught” race with another first place finish, this time in the Poole 10k. Jacek’s time of 31 minutes 56 seconds was quick enough to fend off stiff competition from Mark Jenkin of Bideford AAC who took second.

Jacek shakes off a strong challenge from Mark Jenkin of Bideford to bring home the race win

Mark has a couple of sub 31 minute 10k’s under his belt so Jacek did well to beat such a high calibre opponent. The pair were running side by side by the first 5k point but on the second lap, Jacek managed to open up a small gap on a little incline. The gap was gradually growing up to the end of the race and finished at 24 seconds. It was Jacek’s 11th appearance in the Poole 10k but was his fastest time and first win in the event.

Jacek takes first place in a superfast time of 31:56

The course is a two lap route starting off at Poole Park and heading out towards Baiter and then onto Whitecliff. It’s relatively flat with just the one small hill on the return journey from Whitecliff just before the road descends underneath the railway line.

Conditions were warm but with a very strong breeze. The 10:30am start made the race a bit more manageable than last year when it started at 2pm. It was incredibly hot at that time, undoubtedly causing some of the runners to suffer from heat exhaustion.

Despite not running as competitively as he used to since his son Ruben was born, Jon Sharkey was still able to put in a very strong performance finishing in a time of 35:09.

Jon Sharkey puts in a rare performance showing that he’s still got it in the locker

Jon had overtaken Alex Goulding when Alex’s pace started to drop at around 7k.  A few others also went past Alex at this point. Fortunately, following a rallying cry from Rich Nelson on the side-lines, Alex summoned up some strength for the final 1.5k and managed to claw some places back. He couldn’t catch Jon though and had to settle for 12th place, with a time of 35:15.

Alex Goulding on his way to a 12th place finish in a time of 35:15

This put Alex in 2nd place in the M40-49 category and was over a minute quicker than his time last year. Jacek, Jon and Alex also claimed second prize in the team competition, behind Poole AC, although the top three from both teams were pretty much equal on paper.

Next to finish for BAC was Billy McGreevy, who came 21st with a time of 36:04. Considering Billy had competed in the 5k race the day before, this was a superb time. In face, this, together with a 5th place finish in the 5k in a time of 17:15 , earned Billy a trophy for coming 3rd in the 5 and 10k combined.

Billy on his way to completing part two of the weekend’s work

With a time of 36:23, Graeme Miller followed shortly after Billy in the 10k, crossing the line in 24th place. This significantly eclipsed the target Graeme had set himself of under 38 minutes and showed that he’s making excellent progress on his road back from a tumultuous time with injury.

Graeme Miller shows great form and looks well on his way back to his best

Finishing just three places after Graeme,  Tom Paskins set himself a new 10k PB with a tremendous time of 36:26. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up with the numbers and Tom was put down as a Poole AC runner at first, which as he pointed out afterwards, pretty much amounts to scoring an own goal. Thankfully this has been rectified now and Tom does feature in the results.

Tom Paskins notches an impressive new 10k PB of 36:26

Although he’s not in quite the form he was last year in this event, Sanjai Sharma still put in a good shift, finishing in a time of 37:33. This put him in 37th overall and 2nd in the M50-59 category. Also in good form on the day was Paul Consani, who finished in 39th place with another magnificent time of 37:39.

Sanjai on his way to 2nd place in the M50-59 category

Jud Kirk also put in good performance, clocking a stellar time of 41:06, which was something close to the time he was expecting. He ran the first 5k very well in 20:15 but didn’t quite have enough in the legs to maintain that same pace for the second half of the race. Jud came in 97th place overall and 9th in the M50-59 category.

Jud Kirk makes his way down the path by the lake

After his hip tightened at around 3k, Steve Cox was tempted to pull out but to his credit he kept going, despite knowing the injury would slow him down significantly throughout the remainder of the race. Despite the pain, he still managed to finish in a respectable time of 43:34.

Steve Cox battles through to the end despite a niggling hip injury

The first lady to finish for BAC was Yvonne Tibble, who crossed the line in a time of 44:48, putting her in 205th position. Yvonne was also first home from the F50-59 category.

Yvonne seals a 1st place finish in the F50-59 category

Next up was the other BAC lady in the running, Tamzin Petersen . Tamzin set off quite quickly, going at around her usual 5k pace. She fell away a bit towards the end as the fast start caught up with her but still came out with a decent time of 46:08. This put her in 259th place out of 1,106 finishers and 15th in the senior female category.

Tamzin holds on well after a fast start to finish in 46:08

In the 5k that was held on the Saturday at 5pm, as well as Billy McGreevy, Bournemouth also had representation in the shape of Wayne Lyle. Wayne was first a BAC member in 1979 but moved away and has been running for different clubs. He’s now back at BAC, although he doesn’t live locally.

Billy collects his trophy for 3rd place in the combined 5k and 10k races, although his daughter seems more pleased with it than he is

Wayne finished in 6th place, one behind Billy, with a stellar time of 18:31. He felt he could’ve gone a little faster as well had it not been for so windy out there. All-in-all, it was a very good day for BAC athletes across the board.

Sanjai and Graeme played their part in a very strong team performance at Poole Festival of Running

 

 

 

Steve Way gets gold after monumental Comrades conquest

Sheer elation for Steve Way after achieving all his goals at the Comrades (Ultra) Marathon

Another incredible chapter has been written in the book of Steve Way’s extroadinary running achievements  after a truly formiddable  performance at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

Comrades is the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon with a maximum field of 20,000 and competitors lining up from over 60 different countries. The race was first conceived back in 1921 to commemorate South African soldiers killed in World War I and is steeped in tradition and culture.

The route alternates between starting off in Durban and running approximately 87 kilometres through to Pietermaritzburg and every other year, it is vice-versa. This is significant because of the extremely hilly profile of the course. It meant that this year, the first 50km were predominately uphill, with the last 35k mostly downhill.

The dream for Steve Way was to complete the race in under 6 hours and secure a top-ten finish to claim one of the much coveted gold medals that are awarded only to top-ten finishers.

Going for gold! Steve’s aim was to claim one of these medals for finishing in the top ten

Of course, having a dream like that and putting it into practice are two entirely different things. Steve had been struggling to capture the kind of form he was in in 2014 when he ran his fastest London Marathon and set a new British 100k record.

He had had a couple of set backs with his training in the earlier part of the year due to colds but had since got back on track and was certainly putting in the mileage in. His name was regularly at the top of the BAC Strava leaderboard with 100+ mile weeks.

When the day of the Comrades arrived, Steve felt that he was 90% where he wanted to be with his training going into the race. He took the somewhat unconventional approach to run the race entirely on heart rate monitoring, as opposed to pace or position.

Given the profile of the course, with the elevation gain being so high over the first 50k and the remainder mainly on a descent, this would have made it hugely difficult to manage the race based on pace per mile.

Steve with his Nedbank International teammates

This tactic turned out to be a masterstroke for Steve as it enabled him to go the full distance with equal effort, maximising his potential throughout the race. At the first checkpoint, 18.2km in, Steve was down in 112th place.

Whilst that may have alarmed some runners who harboured top ten hopes come the end of a race, Steve had done his research on the Comrades Marathon. He knew that many of those who started the race off quickly would fall away in the latter stages.

By the next checkpoint, 29.7km in he was still only in 94th place, but he remained calm and disciplined, running at a average pace of just over 4 minutes per kilometre. Despite his position in the field, the race was going to plan for Steve. This was exactly where he wanted to be.

Steve had climbed to 47th place in the standings by the next checkpoint, which was 42.7km into the race, so almost at the half way point. Although he’d moved up the field, Steve’s pace had remained constant, at just under 4 minutes per kilometre for this split. Not that he knew that though. He was only concerned with his heart rate.

By the next checkpoint, 56.7km in, Steve was in 28th place and was making serious inroads into catching those front runners. At the 66.7km mark, he had moved up to an incredible 19th place.

This was the point where Steve knew his goal of finishing in the top ten was achievable. But he still had to make up nine more places in the final 20km.

Before the next checkpoint at Polly Shortts, there was still one big climb left. This presented Steve with a chance to take the remaining places he needed to sneak into the top ten. As he began to pick the runners ahead of him off, one by one, he saw his dream gradually becoming reality.

And indeed, by the final checkpoint at 79.2km, Steve had risen to 9th place where he was able to remain for the final run down to the finish at Pietermaritzburg. He completed the race in a staggering time of 5 hours, 49 minutes and 40 seconds. This was a only 14 minutes behind the race winner.

Not only had Steve managed to achieve his target of finishing in the top ten, thus collecting a solid gold medal, he had also won the trophy for “1st novice”.

Steve proudly shows off his “1st novice” trophy and gold medal for a top ten finish

It had been widely depicted the first timers just don’t do well at the Comrades. Most athletes need to have done it at least once before to be able to manage a race like that. Steve Way was the exception to that rule though.

Steve was also the first European to finish the race, which given the standard of athletes that the race attracts, is quite an achievement. In fact he was the first person to finish who wasn’t from Southern Africa, coming in just ahead of his Nedbank International teammate Fritjof Fagerlund, who is Swedish.

Steve with other members of his Nedbank Running Club team showing off their glittering array of trophies

The utter elation when he crossed the finish line was very evident on the TV coverage for all to see. It was a defining moment for Steve and he had proved, to himself more than anything, that he has still got what it takes to be one of the very best.

Steve said afterwards that his experience of the Comrades might just have eclipsed his London Marathon performance of 2014 where he came from nowhere to finish 15th, sending the commentators into  a frenzy and achieving the Commonwealth Games qualifying time of under 2 hours 17 minutes.

The Comrades Marathon is a truly unique race and is held in very high esteem by the people of South Africa, to the point where the whole country stops to watch. And one thing is for sure… If they didn’t already, they will all now know the name of Steve Way, that guy from a small running club in southern England.

Steve with his gold medal before it was temporarily prised away from him pending the doping test results

 

 

BAC’s Men’s BAL Team narrowly miss out on a Div 2 Win

On Saturday 3rd June the BAC BAL team travelled to Yate, near Bristol for their second match of the year.  The team had made a solid start to their Division 2 campaign finishing 4th (of 8) in the first round.  Despite having some key athletes unavailable, the team battled hard throughout the day.  The desire to gain every point possible was in everyone’s minds which led to some superb performances throughout the day.  The result was a 3rd place finish, narrowly missing victory by only 5 points.  This places BAC 3rd in the league table, just outside a promotion position.

James Lelliott once again hauled in a large number of points starting the day with a win in the A string Long Jump.  He was partnered in that event by Rob Woolgar who also took a victory in the B string.  Lelliott was 2nd in the A string Triple Jump and 4th for A string in a quality Javelin event, with Andy Brown taking victory in the Javelin B string.

Dan Brunsden once gained many points in the heavy throws whilst Alex Cox and Cameron Hale performed fantastically in High Jump taking A and B string victories.  Cox cleared 1.90 and Hale 1.80, but both were very close to achieving their next heights.  Hale then teamed up with Ryan Long, who made his BAC BAL debut, for the Pole Valut.  Long cleared 3.80 to take 3rd place in the A string, whilst Hale also came 3rd in the B string with 3.40.

Despite some superb performances in the track events, BAC’s only victory came from Josh King, who once again set a new PB (9:46.66) in the A string 3000m Steeplechase.  Roy Long gained a valuable 6th place in the B event.

Rob Green had earlier kicked off the track events with a solid 3rd place in the A string 400m Hurdles in what were windy conditions.  Jamie Grose and Lewis Sainval both set seasons best times in the 800m.  Grose, 5th in the A string 1:58.80, and Sainval, 3rd in the B string set 1:58.51, just some 0.13s short of his PB.

A BAL team debut for Henry Bramwell-Reeks found him taking a decent chunk of his previous best time to set a new PB of 4:23.42 for 6th place in the B string 1500m.  He battled hard in what was a tough race and the 17 year old did not seem fazed by the high standard BAL competition.  Jamie Grose finished in a commendable 5th place in the A string to complete his middle-distance ‘double’ of the day.  David Long and Rob McTaggart, the ever stalwarts of track distance events, finished both 4th (A) and 3rd (B) in the 5000m.

The sprinters had a tough day in their individual races but came together as a strong team in the 4x100m Relay.  Ben Arnold, James Lelliott, Scott Rutter and Ryan Long carried the baton round to a 4th place.  Muiris Egan, Lewis Sainval, Jamie Grose and Rob Green took 6th place in a tough 4x400m Relay.

The 3rd place ranking in the Div 2 table sees the BAC BAL Men’s team achieve yet another all time highest position.

Team Manager Tim Hughes was once again delighted with the performance of his athletes.  “All of the athletes in the team today ran, jumped or threw out of their skin!  It was a superb team effort from a bunch of guys who want, not just their own performances to be superb on the day, but also those of their team mates and the team as a whole.  It was great to bring in some new faces to the team today and to see them perform well and really enjoy the atmosphere too.”

Hughes goes on to talk about the next match.  “Today, we beat two of the teams that beat us in Round 1 and we narrowly missed out on a victory.  We have a great squad of athletes to call upon this year and results to date are demonstrating that if we work hard and really want it, we could get promoted yet again.  I’d like to see that and I know the lads will now settle for nothing less!  The next match at Bedford is going to be fun.”


Josh King on his way to Victory in the 3000m Steeplechase Photo: Lisa Shepherd

Match Result:  http://www1.bal.org.uk/media/1622/2017-div-2-match-2-results-v1.pdf