Targets achieved by BAC quartet at Abingdon Marathon

The stage was set and the time was now for Chris O’Brien as he had chosen the Abingdon Marathon as the destination in his quest to complete his first sub 3 hour marathon.

He’d had some pretty close calls before, running a 3:03 at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival last year and rather frustratingly, missing the 3 hour mark by just 29 seconds at Manchester in April this year.

That near miss didn’t stop him though and if anything, may have made him more determined to succeed next time. He was leaving nothing to chance in the build up to the Abingdon Marathon and he had been training extremely hard.

He’d completed the Maidenhead Half Marathon in under 1 hour 25 minutes, 40 miles at the Endure 24 hour race and run back-to-back half marathons distance runs, both in under 1 hour 30. The second of the two was the very hilly Winchester Half.

Despite his good form coming into the race, Chris knew he’d need to be at his best to achieve his sub 3 so there was a lot of pressure as he entered the start pens. The conditions were quite blustery as well which would add to the enormity of the task.

Chris O’Brien was going for his first ever sub 3 hour marathon at Abingdon in Oxfordshire

He felt strong for the first half of the race, managing to latch onto group which lessened the effect of the wind somewhat. He reached the half way point in 1:27:45, so all was going well up till that point. He knew he’d drop off a bit after but hoped he’d be able to hold it together.

The group dispersed after 16 miles leaving Chris on his own to battle the last 10 miles. He then felt the wind a lot more and that, coupled with the accumulating tiredness, began to take its toll on him.

Chris has his game face on as he works his way through the town centre in search of that elusive sub 3

He had a particularly bad section between miles 22 and 25 and after that point he knew his target time could easily slide away. He had to dig deep for the last mile or so. He was so determined and focused to hit the benchmark that he left it all out there.

Somehow, he still managed to find the strength to put in a sprint finish to take a place right on the line though. He was exhausted but delighted to see that he’s finally broken that sub 3 barrier, finishing in a time of 2:59:04. That put him in 78th place, out of 751 finishers.

Another BAC athlete chasing a PB was Adrian Townsend. Adrian hadn’t had the best of luck in his two previous marathons. He failed to make the start line at London earlier in the year due to nerve damage and at Brighton the previous year he was forced to pull out due to tendonitis.

Adrian Townsend was due some good fortune after injuries had prevented him from succeeding in his previous two marathon opportunities

His previous best was 3 hours 15 minutes at Paris so that was the target to beat. Fortunately, this time everything went well for Adrian and he crossed the line in a superb time of 3:10:10. This gave him a shiny new PB put him in 163rd position on the day.

As a veteran of many previous marathons, Simon Way was in his element when it came to the Abingdon Marathon. He’d slightly strained some ankle ligaments the Tuesday before that race and hadn’t ran at all since then so that was a bit of a worry. Fortunately though, that didn’t affect him during the race, although it did mess with his head a bit in the build up.

He ended up running almost the entire race on his own, having to accept the slight loss of pace on some of the more windy sections of the course. Simon was aiming for sub 2:45 finish, but found himself drifting slightly off the pace toward the latter stages of the race.

Simon makes his Way through the town centre at Abingdon as he chases a sub 2:45 finish

A friend of his then caught him up strongly inside the last mile. That gave Simon the kick up the backside that he needed to pick up the pace and finish strongly. When he saw the race clock with about 50 metres to go he had 15 seconds left to get the line.

It was a dramatic end to a gruelling race but he did it, crossing the line in 2:44:55. This put him in a very impressive 19th place overall. He was really pleased as he didn’t think he’d see the championship start at the London Marathon again, due to the sciatica issues he’s been suffering with. A sub 2:45 marathon qualifies for a championship entry at the VLM.

He has been hampered significantly by sciatica over the last couple of years, with the pain often bringing him to a standstill at the 7 mile point in any run he did. He only manages to keep it at bay now by doing daily stretching and regular core workouts.

Simon travelled up to Oxfordshire with Sanjai Sharma, who was looking to put his woes from the London Marathon earlier in the year behind. Sanjai had hid race wrecked by cramp in the final stages and was very disappointed with the time he ended up with as a result.

The Abingdon Marathon presented the perfect opportunity to put those demons behind him and he was determined to do just that. He was feeling good throughout the majority of race and remained disciplined enough to run at his pace and not get too carried away.

For the last 8 miles, Sanjai found himself running with Hilary Mott of Cheltenham and County Harriers. She was the first lady and as it panned out, was just too strong for Sanjai at the end.

Sanjai Sharma approaches the grandstand finish after a lap around the track at Tilsley Park

Although he really had a dig in throughout the latter stages of the race, Sanjai had an excellent run, crossing the line in 30th place with a time of 2:50:12. This was a great result for Sanjai and was just the boost he needed to put the events of the VLM firmly behind him.







BAC trio have the wind in their sails at The Great South Run

The Great South Run is considered to be the world’s premier 10 mile race and when you go there and experience the atmosphere and the huge field, headed up by some of the country’s top distance runners, it’s easy to see why.

The event has been going since 1990 the it was first created by Brendan Foster. It was first held in Southampton before being moved to its current location in Southsea, Portsmouth. The race has grown significantly in stature since the early years and now attracts over 15,000 people every year.

One man who does know what The Great South Run was like in its infancy is Julian Oxborough. Julian ran it back in the early 90’s and recalls that in those days only around 2,000 people took part.

Julian Oxborough did the Great South Run back in the early 90’s when the event only attracted around 2,000 people

At the time Julian was able to complete the race in 65 minutes. After a long break from running, Julian has now got back into it and, although he doesn’t posses the speed that he used to in his youth, he still enjoy the big races. He is still competitive with his times as well and is always looking to improve.

This year, Julian was aiming to complete the course in under 2 hours 15 minutes. He hit the 5k point in 34.26, then went over the 10k timer in 1.11.27. Towards the latter stages of the race though, fatigue started to kick in and he had to battle against some negative feelings.

Julian faced a battle of will as he found himself up against some tricky conditions but the support of the crowd helped keep him going

The magnificent support from the crowd helped him stay motivated though and he kept going, crossing the 15k barrier at 1:50:57. The windy conditions had really made it tough going for the last couple of miles after turning onto the seafront and this slowed Julian down a fair bit. Despite that though, he still managed to exceed his expectations on the day, finishing in a time of 1:59:35.

Julian grimaces as he digs in to reach the line before the 2 hour marker, despite the punishing headwind

At the front end of the field, Chris Thompson was victorious, for the second year in a row, with an incredible time of 48:32. He finished only a few seconds ahead of the chasing pack, who were Matt Sharp, Ben Conner and Alex Teuten of Southampton. Alex featured in the Hampshire League cross country race two weeks prior, taking 2nd place in the senior men’s race.

In the Great South Run, it is the elite women who set off first, 20 minutes before everyone else. That helps make it easier to watch the top ladies in the country battling it out against one another without any dilution.

It was Gemma Steele who got to the line first on this occasion, sealing the win in a time of 55:25. Lily Partidge of Aldershot, Farnham and District was 2nd in 55:37 and Charlotte Purdue, also of Aldershot, Farnham and District was 3rd in a time of 55:43.

The other two Bournemouth AC members in the race were Richard Brawn and Trevor Elkins. Richard had seen Trevor on the start line before the race got underway for the elite men and the masses. They discussed what time they were hoping to finish in both were looking to get around 65 to 66 minutes.

Two weeks earlier, Rich and Trevor had run together at the Bournemouth Half Marathon, along with fellow BAC member Peter Thompson. This proved a successful approach for both Rich and Trevor as they secured new half marathon PBs on the day.

As Dame Kelly Holmes sounded of the hooter to start the race, Rich and Trevor set off together, ready for another tough but exciting challenge ahead. They went through the first mile 6:25, which was about on track for the times they were looking at.

Trevor Elkins (left) and Richard Brawn (right) managed to get on TV as they crossed the start line and were also pictured in the Southampton Echo and the Daily Echo

The next couple of miles were a bit quick at 6:15 and 6:11 pace. They reached the 5k point in 19:53. If they could keep that pace up they’d be in for a really impressive result, but they knew there would be more trying times to come.

They began to relax into the race a little more after that, clocking 6:22 and 6:33 for the next couple of miles to take them to the half way point. At that point they were on for a finish of around 64 minutes if they kept up that pace. But there was still the tough seafront finish into the wind to consider in the second half of the race.

They reached the 10k point in 40:12, so were still going very well at that point. The pace began to drop a bit over the next couple of miles though, with a noticeable headwind coming into play as they edged closer to the seafront.

After reaching mile 8 they soon turned onto the seafront to feel the full force of the westerly wind. They tried to follow the slipstream of a couple of other runners for a little to stay sheltered from the wind resistance.

Rich was thinking back to the latter stages of the half marathon where he wished he had began to push on a little earlier rather than leaving it to the last half a mile or so. This time, he decided to start pushing on at the 8.5 mile point.

He soon overtook a couple of the other runners who were just ahead. Trevor was finding it tough running into the wind and was unable to stay with the increase in pace.

Rich went over the 15k mark in 1:00:51, with Trevor following around 12 seconds later. It was a tough last kilometre as the wind was so strong it was hard to accelerate, even after they reached the finishing straight.

This prevented Rich from going all out for sub 65 despite being close. He crossed the line a time of 1:05:17, which put him in 275th place overall. In  field of 16,305 people, this was a pretty good result for Rich. It was also 2 minutes quicker than his previous best over the 10 mile distance, set the Great South Run the previous year.

Rich topped off a great couple of weeks with a new PB of 1:05:17, which he was very pleased with, given the tough conditions

Shortly afterwards, Trevor crossed the line, finishing in a time of 1:05:42. Although he hadn’t quite managed the sub 65 he was hoping for, it was still a very good time, especially given the tricky conditions he was faced with. On another he would have probably done it. That said, it was still a terrific new PB for Trevor.

Rich attended the race with his brother Dave, who runs for Portsmouth Joggers. Dave has been a Southsea resident for quite some time now and it was his 9th year consecutive year in the Great South Run. Despite the testing wind at the end, he also posted his best time yet, finishing in 455th place in a time of 1:07:57.

Rich and his brother Dave are regulars at the Great South Run, turning out every year for several years running




Graeme Miller digs deep at the Cabbage Patch 10

The Cabbabe Patch 10 is a 10 mile race steeped in history. The Twickenham based event has been going since 1982 and always attracts a strong field. Previous winners of the Cabbage Patch 10 include Mo Farah and Scott Overall and the course record of 46 minutes was set in 1993 by Richard Nerukar.

This year’s edition saw Graeme Miller try his luck on the fast flat course. The route consists of a mixture of road and towpath, crossing the River Thames at Kingston Bridge and Richmond Bridge before running along the riverside to the finish at York House Civic Building.

Graeme Miller (right) is pictured here with Duncan Ward who runs for Dorset Doddlers

Although he knew it wouldn’t be a PB, Graeme has been hitting some good form of late and was hoping to break the hour mark provided his hamstrings behaved themselves.

After running the first few miles with Duncan Ward, who runs for Dorset Doddlers, Graeme was then dropped from the group and had to run the remaining 6 miles on his own.

Despite that he managed to maintain a very strong pace, finishing in a phenomenal time of 59:04. This put him in 26th place out of a whopping 1,563 participants. Duncan was 22nd in a time of 58:24. Duncan was 3rd in the male 45-49 category and Graeme was 4th.

Graeme is all smiles after a cracking performance, taking 26th place in a time of 59:04

Incidentally, Graeme’s 10 mile PB was actually set on his very same course in 2014, with a time of 58:07. Despite not topping that, he was still very happy with his performance this time round though and to finish less than a minute off his PB shows the Graeme is now beginning to recapture something very close to his best form.




Andy Gillespie makes waves in Atlantic Coast Challenge

Running a marathon is always a difficult task in itself and it requires months of training and dedication to prepare correctly for such a long race. Running three marathons in three days though is an entirely different prospect. That requires a different level of mental and physical strength and a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that remains present regardless of what obstacles are in the way.

Of course, being a veteran of 77 marathons including a couple of appearances in the 5-4-3-2-1 Salisbury 50k event does help. And all the more impressively, having successfully completed every single one of those races, Andy Gillespie has proven himself to be as tough and determined as they come. He was about to put that unblemished record on the line though in the Atlantic Coast Challenge.

With the conditions guaranteed to be windswept and with wild and rugged terrain featuring steep climbs and testing descents, three consecutive days of gruelling racing would be in store for Andy, should he manage to complete all three marathons.

Day one began just north of Constantine Bay, near Padstow and went through Newquay and onto Perranporth. The last few miles took in some sand dunes and went across the long and luscious  sandy beach. Not quite so luscious when you have to run across the sand though!

Andy Gillespie makes his way across the sandy Perranporth beach as he reaches the end of his first marathon

Andy completed the first marathon in 5 hours 39 minutes and 16 seconds, putting him in 95th position out of a total of 205 runners who started the race.

It was then onto day two for the second marathon, which started out at Perranporth and finished at St Ives Holiday Park. On this day the weather began to come into play, with high winds and rain adding to the already difficult task of running back-to-back marathons.

The rain had made it muddy under foot, which only served to add to the fun for Andy. This was possibly the easiest route of the three days though as most of the hills were over and done with by the 14  mile point.

There was another long beach in the last few miles at Gwithian. When battling against the wind, Andy felt like he was going nowhere no matter how hard he tried to run. He dug in though and made it to end, crossing the line in a time of 5:34:11, which put him in 66th place on the day.

The conditions worsened somewhat on the second day, after the rain made for a muddy and sometimes slippery surface

Day three went from St Ives Holiday Park and finished up at Lands End. The only target for the majority of runners by this point was just to get to finish, somehow someway.

The route on this day would perhaps best be described as ‘technical’. The first few miles going into St Ives were soon forgotten about once they hit the coastal path.

The rain from the previous day had left a slippery, muddy surface and to make matters worse, the terrain on this part of the path was rocky.

After 7 and a half hours of running, Andy made it to Landsend where he was presented with a delicious pasty for successfully completing the challenge. The pasty made it all worthwhile for Andy and it didn’t even touch the sides, as they say!

Although it was a longer day of running, Andy vastly improved his position on the day, proving he really has the stamina and strength to cope well with these super long distance challenges. He finished in 47th place on the day in 7:30:41.

As you would expect in a multiple race challenge, the overall results were calculated by accumulated time over the three days. Andy’s total accumulated time was 18 hours 44  minutes and 8 seconds, putting him in 61st place overall.

Andy navigates his way through the rocky coastal paths on his way toward completing his second of three marathons in three days

Only 149 out of the 205 runners who started out on the first day managed to complete all three marathons and make it to Lands End. That is testament to how tough the Atlantic Coast Challenge is.

Andy really enjoyed the three days though and, as is often the case with these types of events, the spirit and camaraderie that is built up between the runners is much greater than that of a one-off race.

Andy deserves the utmost respect for completing the Atlantic Coast Challenge. It demonstrates well the tremendous grit and determination he has to succeed in any race he enters and to see it through to the end no matter what the adversity.

This takes Andy up to an incredible total of 80 marathons so far and he’s showing no signs of easing up just yet. In fact, the challenges he’s taking on seem to be getting increasingly harder.

That only leaves 20 marathons to go to make it to the very exclusive 100 marathons club. Although it has to be said, 20 marathons is still a lot, but with the strength of character and the dedication he has, you certainly wouldn’t put it past Andy to achieve that.









Hampshire Cross Country League season starts at Kings Park

BAC ladies’ XC team, Mandy Adams, Harriet Slade, Emma Dews, Kirsty Drewitt and Yvonne Tibble

The 2017/18 season of the Hampshire Cross Country League opened on Saturday 14 October with the first fixture in beautiful sunny weather at Kings Park.

Craig Palmer storming to 15th position

For BAC‘s senior mens’ team the aim this season has to be, at least, to remain in Division 1 of this highly competitive League and thanks to some outstanding performances Saturday was an encouraging start. It is BAC‘s good fortune that Craig Palmer has joined second claim, for the purpose of cross country competition, as Craig‘s astonishing run brought him to the finish line in 15th position. Throughout the mens’ race, Craig was being pursued by Josh King, who edged ever nearer to Craig, finishing one place behind him in 16th. BAC is also fortunate to have recruited fairly recently Stuart Nicholas, running in his first cross country race, who also had an excellent run to finish third BAC athlete. Steve Way followed very shortly afterwards, probably running better than he expected after injury problems, and, completing the BAC mens’ team, Pat Robbins also ran well to finish only one minute (exactly!) after Steve. Steve and Pat were BAC‘s first two veteran men, the veteran’s team being completed by John Phillips, also recently joined (or, more accurately, rejoined after many years!), which meant that BAC‘s veteran mens’ team is no less than the 4th team of the 18 complete veteran men teams (there is only one veteran division), which is an excellent start to the season. BAC‘s senior mens’ team, after one fixture, are 5th of 10 teams in Division 1, so a solid start, but hopefully we can improve on this as the season progresses, and there is certainly no room for complacency! The U20s also ran in the same race as the senior and veteran men, and BAC was sole representative was Brandon Meredith, who should be pleased with his 13th U20M position. Please see the full BAC mens’ results below.

Josh King chasing to finish 16th
Stuart Nicholas in his first xc race (pacing Jamie Grose ex BAC now PAC)

Turning to the ladies, some excellent running led to a satisfactory start to the season.  Despite this being only her second race this year, Emma Dews‘ strong running kept her at the front of the field for the entire race, finishing 12th overall in 22.58 and 2nd veteran lady.  Harriet Slade and Yvonne Tibble, finishing 30th in 24.27 and 70th in 27.14 respectively, completed the senior ladies’ team , and of the 20 complete teams, BAC were placed 8th (there is just one ladies’ division), so that is an excellent start to the season.  Emma and Yvonne were the first two BAC veteran ladies’ the team being completed by Kirsty Drewitt (88th in 28.28) with the veteran ladies’ team also having an excellent start, lying 5th of the 14 veteran ladies’ teams.  Well done too to Mandy Adams who was 124th in 31.53 and provided the essential backup in case of any dropouts.  A total of 156 completed the senior/veterans race, apparently the largest field for many years.

Brandon Meredith on his way to finishing 13th U20

What was slightly disappointing from BAC‘s point of view was the lack of youngsters competing, with not even one  U17M or U17W BAC athlete.  However, well done to those youngsters who did compete, and especially the three U13 girls, as this produced a BAC team result for their category.  They were Martha Preece, who, of the 79 finishers, was 15th in 12.51, Lara Broderick, 56th in 14.16 and Abigail Phillips, 61st in 14.40.  The fact that the team was 11th of the 11 complete teams really doesn’t matter – it is very encouraging to see a BAC team in the younger age groups, and there were plenty of clubs taking part in this race who didn’t have a team.  In the U15 girls, Anya Sandell was 34th of the field of 56 in 17.34, in the U13 boys Sam Farwell was 55th of the 85 finishers in 13.00 and in the U15 boys Tom Farwell was 26th of the 64 finishers in 14.45 and Jasper Todd was 36th in 15.16.  What a pity there wasn’t a third U15 boy to make up a team!  Once again, well done to all the youngsters who competed and kept the BAC flag flying throughout the day.

In addition to the League races, there were also boys’ and girls’ U11 races at Kings Park, which gave an opportunity for our Development Evening youngsters to compete.  It is encouraging that, had these races been part of the League, we could have had an U11 boys’ team!  Of the 75 who completed this race, Archie Kilburn was 12th in 8.21, Sam Brewer 57th in 9.39, Isaac Sandell 59th in 9.43 and Nathan Mearns 66th in 10.00.  There were two Bournemouth U11 girls amongst the field of 47, Ida Waring who was 10th in 9.10 and Katie Kilburn, 26th in 9.43.

This fixture was organised and run by BAC, and many thanks are due to all the marshals, officials and helpers without whom the fixture could not have taken place.  Kings Park appears to be a popular venue for Hampshire Cross Country League clubs (although it is true the first fixture always attracts large numbers) as, throughout the day, including the U11 races, an astonishing 894 athletes completed 10 separate races.

BAC results (senior/veteran/U20 men): 15 Craig Palmer 32.03; 16 Josh King 32.08; 57 Stuart Nicholas 34.45; 60 Steve Way 34.59; 76 Pat Robbins 35.59; 83 Brandon Meredith 36.20; 91 John Phillips 36.47; 96 Tom Paskins 36.52; 108 Richard Wade 37.09; 136 Ross Smith 38.32; 148 Nick Kenchington 39.39; 158 Simon Hearn 40.14; 185 Jud Kirk 41.52.

BAC ladies’ XC team, Mandy Adams, Harriet Slade, Emma Dews, Kirsty Drewitt and Yvonne Tibble

Bournemouth Marathon Festival: Marathon

The showpiece race of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival was, of course, the full marathon. The route started out at Kings Park, just as the Half Marathon had two hours earlier. By the time it got going large crowds had congregated around Bournemouth Pier, most of whom had been there to see the finish of the Half Marathon.

The prize money for winning the race had been considerably reduced this year which resulted in the absence of the Kenyan athletes that came over for the event last year. This meant that local runners would have the chance to shine this time round which made for a much more exciting spectacle.

One man who was determined to seize that opportunity was Bournemouth AC’s very own Jacek Cieluszecki. Jacek has had an incredible season, winning the British edition of the Red Bull Wings for Life and victories in the Portland 10 and the Round the Rock 10k Dorset Road Race League fixtures. He’s also competed in some high profile mountain ultra races including the Eiger 51 and the OCC Mont-Blanc.

Despite his glittering array of victories, a win in the BMF Marathon was something the had so far eluded Jacek. He came 6th in it last year, 7th in 2015 and 7th in 2013. In the form that he’s in at the moment though, there was always a good chance that this could be his here.

Jacek set off at  a blistering pace of around 5:30 m/m which was simply too fast to live with for virtually all the other competitors. There was one young chap who tried to stay with JC for the first 3 miles. He may well have just wanted a brief moment in the limelight though as he soon faded away.

This left Jacek to go it alone for virtually the whole race, unless there was anyone out there quick enough to catch him. Keeping the pace consistent at around the 5:45 m/m mark, he soon built up an unassailable lead. It was soon abundantly clear the JC was going to win the race. It was only really question of how big the margin would be between himself and the 2nd placed runner and also what time he would do.

Jacek Cieluszecki was out there on his own for virtually the whole race with only the countdown of the clock and cheers from the crowds to help drive him on

As he came past the finish line the first time round which the runners had to do at mile 17, people could scarcely believe their eyes, both at how fast he was going and also how far ahead he was. There was simply no one else in sight. The second place runner arrived about 10 minutes later.

The atmosphere was electric around the Bournemouth Pier area after Jacek had gone past. He now had just over 9 miles left to go and could feed off the energy of the crowd to keep him going.

After going up the overcliff path to the left of Hot Rocks, the route then veered over to Sandbanks before working its way back to Bournemouth Pier approach for the grand stand finish.

Jacek approaches the latter stages of the race with an extremely healthy advantage of around 10 minutes over his nearest rival

As he crossed the line, the clock stopped at 2 hours 31 minutes and 59 seconds. This was a quite astounding effort, especially considering he was out on his own for virtually the whole race. It was also his fastest time to date in the BMF Marathon, eclipsing his previous effort from of 2:33:14 which he did in 2013.

Before the race Jacek had set himself the target of anything under 2:35 so he was delighted with the time. Having spent most of the summer training in the Alps and the Purbeck, he knew he’d lost a little bit of speed but had probably gained in strength and stamina.

Jacek’s nearest rival Anthony Webb of Medway Park Phoenix arrived 10 minutes and 43 seconds later, crossing the line in 2:42:42. This is still a very good time; it’s just that the time Jacek set was so incredible.

JC bombs past the coloured huts along the promenade at a sensational speed that just simply blew everyone else away

Anthony Clark was also in the race but was forced to pull out at the 17 mile point due to a hip injury. He was in 5th place at the time but just didn’t think it would be worth struggling through another 9 miles and potentially making the injury worse. Well, it was either that or he noticed people sitting outside Hot Rocks in the sun drinking pints of beer and he got too tempted by that to carry on!

Another BAC member who was in the starting line up but sadly didn’t make it to the finish was Nikki Sandell. Nikki had picked up an Achilles injury in training two weeks before she was due to so the Marathon and sadly it hadn’t healed properly by the time race day arrived.

Despite that, she thought she may as well give it a go and turned up for it anyway. Unfortunately she only managed 1.5 miles before having to pull out. The pain was too much and it would have been impossible to continue for another 25 miles in that state. She knew this would be the likely outcome though so had already pretty much accepted her fate in truth. It didn’t prevent her sticking around to watch the rest of the race, support her teammates and enjoy the remainder of the day.

Nikki Sandell only managed 1.5 miles of the race before pulling out due to the pain from the achilles injury she’d suffered a couple of weeks prior to race day

In the second part of his Bournemouth Marathon Festival double-header, Mark Hillier took on the full marathon, having run the 10k the previous day.

Mark was fairly conservative in the first half of the race and was cautious not to aggrevate any of his injuries or niggles. he then stepped it up a bit in the second half and at the end of the race he was pleased to see that he’d done a negative split.

He feels that perhaps he could have got under 3:30 but ultimately, he was dead chuffed with his time of 3:38:18, which put him in 269th place.

Mark did the London Marathon in 1989 when he was 18 and then again when he was 1991. He then stopped running for about 10 years whilst making a foray into mountain biking. About 5 years ago, he started running again, but doing only shorter distance races to half marathon distance.

A few months back, Mark reckons he started to have a midlife crisis resulting in him entering Race to the King – a 53 mile ultra over the South Downs. He was kind of hoping this would temper his sudden urge to push himself to the limit but he ended up doing better than he expected and, even though it hurt, all it did was fuel his desire to push himself even further.

He has now entered the Marathon des Sables, which is renowned for being the toughest footrace on earth. The race consists of 156 miles done in six stages over seven days through the Sahara desert with temperatures regularly hitting 50 centigrade. He’s hoping this will be enough to finally quell that desire to take things to the extreme.

As part of his training he headed down to Devon a few weeks ago to do a 33 miler over Dartmoor. The weather was grim and it was all off-road, so it was more like 1/3 running, 1/3 hiking and 1/3 dragging himself through the mud. But he completed it and thoroughly enjoyed it. He’s also entered the Bovingdon Marathon in December and is contemplating whether he is brave enough to enter the Brecon Beacons 46 miler in mid-November.

Carl Jenkins, who has been training with BAC recently on Tuesday and Thursday nights, was also running. Carl completed the course in 3:42:59, putting him in 314th place.

This was a decent time given that he hadn’t done much proper marathon training in the lead up to the race and it was still 7 minutes quicker than last year.

When he’s on top form though, Carl is a force to be reckoned with, and his PB is 3:02:28 which he did at the Rotary Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2011.

He’ll now be turning his attention to the ABP Southampton in April where he’ll be running his next marathon. Hopefully, with an adequate amount of training, he should be on course for a much quicker time than the one he’s just posted at at the BMF.

Whilst Jacek was racing over the finish line to seal his glorious victory, Tamzin Petersen was crossing the line for the first time meaning she was now at the 17 mile point in her race.

Tamzin had been aiming for a sub four hour finish and had been following a rigorous training programme in order to get herself the best chance of hitting her target. This meant four months of extremely long runs, every single weekend.

She got through it though and was poised to do well and give it all she’s got on race day. The first 12 miles went smoothly and felt comfortable although she was running at a slightly faster pace than she’d trained at. Then the trouble started!

She was struck by a massive cramp in her calf. She had also felt this the day before as well and it seemed to have just appeared for no apparent reason. Her hip then started to play up as well which added to the frustration. She then saw her parents who had come to cheer her on and was able to grab some painkillers from them before shuffling on.

She managed to run the next 5 miles, digging in as deeply as she could, determined not to pull out of the race she’d trained so hard for. By the time she got to the 16 mile stage she already knew she wasn’t going to meet any or her goals, or even get a PB. That made the last 10 miles a real mental battle.

To give credit where credit is due, she carried on through and managed to see the race through till the end, which shows a lot of character. Her finishing time was 4:10:22 which put her in 734th place.

Whilst it was not the race she wanted, she lives to fight another day and will no doubt have the mental fortitude to put this behind her and move onto the next challenge. All is not lost though. She has made good progression since starting her marathon training and that progression that she’s made will be far more important to her in the long term than the glory gained from a one-off race.

This highlights one of the most brutal aspects of marathon running. No matter who you are and what training you’ve put in, it all comes down to that 3 or 4 hours of racing in which anything could happen. Suffering cramps toward the end of a race is regular theme for marathon runners and they have ruined many a marathon before and they will do many times again.

At the other end of the scale, if everything goes right, as it did for Jacek, you can achieve something truly momentous that will stay with you forever.

Jacek races to the finish line to complete a magnificent victory in a time of 2:31:59









Bournemouth Marathon Festival: Half Marathon

The three amigos: Peter Thompson, Trevor Elkins and Richard Brawn were amongst 13 BAC members taking part in the BMF Half Marathon

The second day of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival kicked off on with an 8am start for the Half Marathon. Although this entailed getting out of bed and up a little earlier than usual for many of the participants, once daylight began to emerge they were pleased to see that the conditions were great for running.

There seemed to be very minimal breeze, which would be key with many sections of course going along the promenade and the overcliff roads. It was also cloudy at this early stage in the day but with no sign of any rain about so the temperature was not too hot but not chilly either. The Half Marathon runners must have really felt they’d lucked out in comparison to the conditions for the 10k race the day before.

Following on from his 2nd place finish in the Supernova 5k the previous day, Rob Taggart once again found himself at the sharp end of the field. The Half Marathon was the only race of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival that Tag was yet to have a crack at.

The race started off from Kings Park, with the elite club runners immediately setting a very quick tempo. Peter Baksh of Beckenham was the man in front in the early stages of the race and he set a pace that no others were able to live it. By the end of the race Peter had built up a lead of over two minutes on his nearest rival Simon Goldsworthy of Guildford & Godalming.

Peter crossed the line in a stunningly quick time of 1 hour 10 minutes and 29 seconds. Simon’s time in that got him 2nd spot of the podium was 1:12:53.

Behind them the battle for 3rd place was ensuing between Tag and Stuart Holloway, who runs for City of Salisbury. As they made their way along the promenade from Boscombe Pier to Bournemouth with two miles left to go, Tag was sitting on Stuart’s shoulder.

Tag was hoping that his track speed would be a help when reaching the closing stages of the race and, just as he did in the 5k, he was able to find the strength for a strong sprint finish to pip Stuart to the post and take 3rd place by 7 seconds.

Given the lack of training he’d had going into the weekend, Tag was really pleased with his finishing time of 1:13:29 and was delighted to take his second podium place of the weekend.

Rich Brawn, Rob McTaggart and Pawel Surowiec were all smiles after completing a tough but rewarding half marathon

Will Brewin took 5th place in the race with a time of 1:13:58, followed by Matthew Hammerton of Romsey in 6th with a time of 1:14:14. Next there was a small pack of four, which included Stuart Nicholas of BAC. Stu had commandeered three others and the four of them worked together, taking turns to drive the pacing. The group also included Bayley Massey, who had won the 5k race the day before.

The first eight miles of the course were relatively flat and smooth. You then get hit by a short sharp rise as you make your way through Boscombe Chine Gardens which leads onto East Overcliff Drive. It’s a hill that is sometimes used by BAC on their hill sprint training sessions.

This hill can slow the pace down significantly if you haven’t saved enough energy for it and as you follow onto East Overcliff Drive there is then another slight incline of the road which forces you to work hard before heading back down onto the promenade for the final stages of the race.

By the time they got off Boscombe and back onto promenade, the pack of four that Stu was in had dispersed slightly. They were all still within quite close proximity of each other though and all ended up finishing within 13 seconds of each other. Stu crossed the line in 8th place with a time of 1:14:30.

Stu Nicholas put in a strong performance to finish in 8th place with a time of 1:14:30

Taking on his second race of the weekend, having previously secured 3rd place in the 5k the previous day, Billy McGreevy was in the hunt for a second PB of the weekend. He was looking to go under 1 hour 19 minutes for the first time very and , as it panned out, he ended up very close to that target.

Billy McGreevy claimed his second PB of the weekend, knocking 9 seconds off his previous best

Billy’s finishing time was 1:19:08, which put him in 17th place. It was another fantastic run from him and was a 9 second PB. He was a little disappointed not to break 1:19 on this occasion but is confident of conquering that marker next time round. Had he not run such a fast 5k the previous day, he may well have done it on this occasion, but he was still very happy he did having gained his spot on the podium.

Billy was in scintillating form as he races past the coloured huts along the promenade

Making his BAC debut, Joseph Morrison was another club member who secured a fabulous new PB as he weighed in with a time of 1:26:47. This shaved a good 2 minutes off his previous best time.

Joe has been a regular at the Tuesday night training sessions on the promenade in recent weeks and had been running very well. Despite the impressive PB, Joe’s race management certainly left room for improvement. He had a friend who completed the race in 1:20 and had tried to stick with him in the early stages of the race.

In fact, Joe’s completed the first 10k in 38:36, which would have been a PB for him in a 10k race! Inevitably, the fast start caught up with him as the race progressed and he began to struggle in the second half of the race. By the end he was really clinging on as he ticked the miles off till he saw the welcome sight of the finish line.

Slightly further down the field, three BAC members found themselves running together. Richard Brawn, Trevor Elkins and Peter Thompson had seen each other in the early stages of the race and had got chatting.

They were all running at a similar sort of pace and decided to stick together for the long haul. This turned out to be a great decision for the trio as they were all running at a comfortable enough pace to be able to converse but still push fairly hard throughout. This made the race a lot more pleasant and made it seem almost like a long tempo training run rather than an all-out, do or die race where every second counts.

Peter, Trevor and Rich stuck together throughout the race demonstrating the power of BAC

Whenever they approached an area of the race where larger crowds had gathered, people could be heard shouting and cheering when they caught sight of the three Bournemouth AC local runners emerging in a line together. That said, some of those cheers may have been aimed more at Peter, who is a very famous face since his 44 marathons in 44 days in 44 different countries escapade.

Peter, Trevor and Rich make their way onto Boscombe Pier as they approach the closing stages of the race

Rich and Trevor were both targeting a sub 1:30 finish for the race and when they hit the promenade with just over three miles left to go, they knew they were in a position to meet that target. It was then just a case of seeing how much they under they could go.

Rich’s PB was just over 1 hour 29 minutes so at this point he turned his attention to beating that. Trevor’s last half marathon race was Bath back in March where he did 1 hour 32 minutes. That was on much weaker legs though and he has since upped his mileage and trained a lot harder.

For Peter, it was a nice steady pace and he was never really in any difficulty. He was just enjoying the experience and had fun running with Trevor and Rich and that’s what it’s all about to him; enjoying the experience with others.

The trio stayed together until around the last half a mile or so when Rich decided it was time to push on. Rich has noticed he’s been running a strong last mile in races recently and has usually had enough in the tank to up the pace in the latter stages.

He began to open up a gap on Trevor and Peter before hitting Bournemouth Pier and making a final dash for the line. Rich was delighted to see that he had achieved a superb new PB of 1:27:18. This put him in 79th place in a field of 3,995.

Rich shaved almost 2 minutes off his previous best to finish in 79th place with a time of 1:27:18

Filtering in shortly after Rich, Trevor had also secured himself a new PB finishing in 1:27:35. Prior to the race Trevor had been suffering from a dodgy stomach so was not sure how he would fair once the race got going. Fortunately he seemed to settle into it okay and the stomach ache faded. It was Trevor’s first race for the club and he felt proud to be wearing the BAC vest.

Amazingly, Trevor is more of a 100m sprinter than a distance runner and is actually hoping to join up with the track team in the near future. In fact he used to be capable of a 10 second 100m back in his school days and can still probably hit around 11 seconds. Trevor finished the Half Marathon in 83rd place.

Just 5 seconds late Peter crossed the line, coming in 85th with a time of 1:27:40. It has been long road but Peter is now beginning to return to full fitness since his 44 marathon exploits. He’s still a long way off where he used to be but he’s feeling healthy and that’s the main thing.

Another BAC member going all out for a PB was Pawel Surowiec. Pawel has been turning out for training very regularly on both Tuesday and Thursday nights and had been running well during sessions. He needed to get close to 1 hour 32 minutes in order to secure a PB.

Pawel Surowiec makes his way down the promenade toward Boscombe Pier as he goes in search of the new PB that he went on to secure

The race had been going okay for Pawel until he hit the hill going through Boscombe Chine Gardens after mile 8. That hit him hard and he had to dig deep into the energy reserves to get to the top.

From that point onwards it was tough for Pawel to pick the pace back up. He got to the line in a time of 1:32:10 which gave him a marginal new PB. This put him in 175th place.

Pawel chases down a competitor as he digs in to try and finish as strongly as he can

Following a spell of 6 months on the side-lines due to an ITB injury, Tom Piloni had only started running again back in June and was almost back to square one at that point. His longest training run in the lead up to the race was a slow 12 miler which didn’t feel particularly easy.

Despite not having the best preparation, Tom ran surprisingly well on race day, finishing in a decent time of 1:36:12, which put him in 298th place.

Tom Piloni ran better than he was expecting to finish in a stellar time of 1:36:12

There was even a BAC married couple of the race, with Michael Cowham and Cherry Sheffrin both in action. The pair were close together throughout the race but Cherry overtook Mike near the end of the race and wound up finishing 13 seconds ahead of him in a time of 1:42:37. This put her in 577th place.

Cherry Sheffrin finished just ahead of husband Mike, crossing the line in 1:42:37

Mike came in 13 seconds later and 13 places later in a time of 1:42:50, putting him in 590th place.

Michael Cowham put in a rare performance, finishing in a time of 1:42:50

Another BAC member tackling the Half Marathon race was John Preest, who completed the course in 1:45:44. That put him in 783rd position in the standings.

Estelle Slatford was chasing a half marathon PB of 1:48 and was going well for the first half of the race. She then began to struggle a bit with lower back pains that caused her to slow down quite considerably. In spite of the pain, she kept pushing but ended up crossing the line in a time of 1:52:55. She was a touch disappointed with that, but ultimately enjoyed the race.

Estelle Slatford ran well for the first half of the race until she started to suffer from back pains and dropped off the pace a bit













Bournemouth Marathon Festival: Supernova 5k

The Supernova 5k race at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival took place on Saturday 7th October at 7pm and as the dusk fell on the evening, the seafront was lit up by runners sporting various types of lights, glow-sticks and luminous outfits. It was truly a sight to behold.

A massive 1,653 competitors lined up along the promenade for the race and in amongst them were Bournemouth AC members Rob McTaggart and Billy McGreevy.

Tag took on the Supernova 5k as part of his Bournemouth Marathon Festival double header

Tag has had quite an illustrious history with the Bournemouth Marathon Festival having won both the 5k and 10k races in previous years. Last year he was the first Brit in the Marathon. He’s also had a couple of 2nd places to his name in the 5k.

He hadn’t quite had his usual volume of training in the lead up to weekend this time round having done minimal running since the end of the track season. Despite that though, he knew he’d still be in the with a shot of being up there with the front runners if he performs well.

Billy has been running really well lately, putting in very strong performances in the Poole Festival of Running 5k and 10k earlier in the year and managing an excellent sub 3 hour marathon at the New Forest last month.

Billy continued his great form in the BMF Supernova 5k

The stage was set for a great contest between the two of them and any potential others who would be good enough to stay with them. As it panned out, it was Bayley Massey of Cambridge Harriers who stole the show, winning  the race in a time of 16:17.

Sure enough, the battle for 2nd place was between Billy and Tag. Billy had another incredibly strong run and had caught up with Tag in the latter stages on the race. In the end, Tag was forced to put in a big sprint finish to stay ahead, crossing the line just 4 seconds before Billy.

To finish so close to Tag and push him so hard really highlights the progress Billy has been making of late. His time of 16:32 was a fantastic new PB and a very proud moment.

After taking up their places on the podium, both Tag and Billy had to then regroup and begin to focus on the second phase of their BMF dual, the Half Marathon, that they were set to compete in the next day.

Tag and Billy collect their prizes for 2nd and 3rd place in the BMF Supernova 5k






Bournemouth Marathon Festival: Supersonic 10k

The widely anticipated and ever popular Bournemouth Marathon Festival kicked off at 4pm on Saturday 7th October with the Supersonic 10k.

There was a real buzz around the place as the athletes lined up in their starting pens along the promenade next to Bournemouth Pier, with the elite club runners at the front and stretching all the way round to the roundabout on Bath Road. The event had once again captured the imagination of huge numbers from the local area and had attracted athletes and clubs from far and wide. A field of 2,232 runners took part in the 10k race.

Four days prior to race day Bournemouth AC had been contacted by visually impaired runner Khalid Elkhereiji. It turned out his guide runner for race was injured so he had approached the club to ask if anyone would be prepared to step in and assist. Khalid was hoping to finish in around 42 minutes so he needed a guide runner who is capable of comfortably finishing a 10k in under 40 minutes.

Almost immediately, Jez Bragg responded back and answered Khalid’s calling, saying he would do it. It would be Jez’s job to communicate the pace to Khalid and made him aware of any hazards as they progressed along the course, plus to ensure he was running at the intended place and maintain morale throughout the race. This part was especially important when running into the headwind in the second half of the race.

Jez actually found running as a guide quite a liberating experience. For the first time in a race, he didn’t think about himself at all. It was all about supporting someone else, which was a completely different and very refreshing mind-set.

Although they’d only done a one mile warm up together, the race went smoothly for Khalid and Jez and Khalid finished very strongly to secure a new PB of 42:12. This was a very impressive effort given the westerly wind along the promenade and put Khalid in 73rd place overall.

Joy Wright and Simon Hearne take to the promenade for the BMF Supersonic 10k

The winner of the race was Ben Lewis of Poole AC, with a blistering time of 34:03. Ben is predominantly a track runner but he has been known to do the odd 5 mile or 10k road race. He is still in the U20 age group as well so will no doubt have a very bright future ahead of him.

It was a familiar face in 2nd place, as Graham Robinson reached the line in a phenomenal time of 34:40. Although Graham runs for Sandhurst, he is well known amongst the BAC fraternity, having represented the club in the Hampshire League Cross Country on numerous occasions.

The first official BAC athlete to cross the line was Simon Hearn who finished 48th in a time of 40:44. Simon hadn’t done a race since the Hull 10k back in June and hadn’t been training as regularly as usual in the lead up to the race so he felt a bit ring rusty.

He had earmarked a time of under 42 minutes as his target, so, although it wasn’t close to a PB for him, he was quite happy with the result. He was 6th in the male 45-49 category.

Simon was the first Bournemouth AC finisher in a time of 40:44 putting him in 48th place

In his first ever race for the club, Phil Cherrett was on the hunt for a PB. Phil has been attending the Tuesday night training sessions on a regular basis and has demonstrated an explosive turn of pace on occasions. He’s been putting in a concerted effort to improve his strength and stamina and was hopeful that on race day, the hard training would pay off.

He started out a little too hard, despite making a conscious effort to slow himself down. He found kilometres 4 to 8 quite tough going, especially running into the wind but he really felt the sessions he’d done with BAC helped him battle through.

With a mile left to go, he knew he was on for a sub 45, so he’d beaten his time from the previous year. It was then just a case of, would he be able to topple his PB time of 44:44. And the answer, was yes. Emphatically! He managed to pick up the pace in the closing stages to finish in a fantastic time of 43:37. This put him 109th in the overall standings.

Phil was delighted with the run and is very much looking forward to seeing more improvements in his running going forward thanks to the training sessions at BAC.

The first lady over the line for the club was Joy Wright, who finished in 14th female in a time of 44:06. She was 122nd overall and took 3rd place in the 40-44 category, finishing just 5 seconds ahead of her nearest rival in the category, Zoe Hayward.

Zoe had attempted to overtake Joy a few times toward the end of the race and was not best pleased when Joy put in her usual ‘do or die’ sprint finish to pip her to the post.

It wasn’t quite as fast a time as Joy would have wanted but she had been unwell and is recovering from an Achilles injury so given the circumstances it was a pretty good result. In fact, she felt so sick that she was relieved to make it to the finish line without vomiting!

In the last 2k she also had a fly go into her eye and surmised that it must be hitch hiking to the finish. At least the fly chose a good person to ride with as Joy zoomed to the line.

Another BAC lady taking on the 10k event was Louise Broderick. Louise is an assistant coach for the junior development group on Wednesday nights and helps the club out in various ways when she can.

Louise’s time of 46 minutes 55 seconds put her in 4th place in the female 45-49 category and she finished 224th overall. She found the 4pm start time difficult to get to grips with and hasn’t had much time to train this year so she was pleased with her performance. She was the 30th woman to cross the line out of 1,335.

Louise Broderick celebrates completing the 10k with her kids Joseph and Lara who took part in the junior races earlier in the day

Having entered both the 10k and the Marathon for the BMF, Mark Hillier was in for an interesting couple of days. A friend of Mark’s was running the 10k in his first ever race, so Mark decided to run with him, despite having already entered the Marathon.

As planned, Mark completed the 10k race with his friend in a time of 53:06, putting him in 533rd place. This was a comfortable pace for Mark and meant that he had a lot left in the tank for the Marathon the next day, which would no doubt prove crucial.









Going for Gold Hill

An unfortunate fixture clash placed the next Dorset Road Race League fixture, the Gold Hill 10k, on the same weekend as the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. That meant team captain Rich Nelson was set for another difficult task in getting a team together. Nevertheless, he did somehow manage it, with a team of five men and three ladies ready to brave the sumptuous slopes of Shaftesbury.

It would probably be a fair assessment to say that some BAC members were secretly glad they’d already pre-booked their races for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival given that the Gold Hill 10k is notorious for being one of the toughest local races around.

The course has a combined elevation gain of approximately 870ft and features a constant theme of undulation throughout. The route also incorporates the iconic Gold Hill, the setting from the famous Hovis advert of 1973 that was directed by Ridley Scott and was voted Britain’s favourite advertisement of all time.

The BAC squad are geared up for the peaks and troughs of the Gold Hill 10k

Hills like that are  bead and butter to Jez Bragg and he rocketed round the course in 38 minutes 46, earning him 8th place in the standings. Jez is renowned for pushing himself to the absolute limit, taking part of races like the Dragon’s Back, a 315km mountain ultra run over 5 days and featuring 15,500m of ascent.

For an athlete of Jez’s ilk to say that Gold Hill is a tough race says it all really. Although he’s used to ascents of biblical proportions, when you’re hitting them at 10k pace they smack you hard.

Jez admits that he set off a bit too quick and paid the price for that toward the end of the race. He was 4th going into the last kilometre but dropped a few places before crossing the line. He still managed to finish around a minute quicker than he’s done the course before so it was still an excellent performance.

Another man who is no stranger to tough races is Pat Robbins. Pat competed in the 24 hour World Championships earlier in the summer where he covered almost 150 miles. Gold Hill is a very different kind of tough though and Pat had to use all of his tremendous talent and tenacity to do as well as he did. Pat was pleased with his time of 40:45 which put him in 14th place.

The BAC member over the line was Jud Kirk who took 52nd place in a time of 45:50. Given the profile of the course, Jud was quite pleased with the way he ran in a race where it was really a huge sense of achievement just to finish.

Heading up the proceedings for the ladies’ team was Harriet Slade who came in 55th place in a time of 45:59. Harriet had been ahead of Jud for most of the race but in the end he just pipped her to the post.

As fourth placed female overall, Harriet made another valuable contribution to the scoring for the ladies who are still hopeful of winning the league if they can get enough interest from the two remaining fixtures. Her teammates will certainly be hoping Harriet joins them for more road races in the near future.

Taking 2nd place vet lady for the second year running, Yvonne Tibble finished in 69th place overall in a time of 48:14. Yvonne enjoyed the race, taking in the stunning picturesque views as she scaled the heights.

Having ran it last year, she was fully aware how tough the hills were and didn’t let the memories from her previous experience deter her and she had decided she would be prepared to take on for the team on this occasion. She also managed to acquire a second rather pretty hand painted, glazed bowl to go with the other she won in the previous year, meaning she now has a matching pair.

The handmade clay medal that Samantha Laws collected after completing the race

“Absolutely horrific was Steve Parsons synopsis of the race. He found the relentless hills very tough going and found that when he wasn’t running up a steep hill he was coming down one, which wasn’t much better.

The second half of the race was virtually all uphill and felt extremely demoralising to Steve, particularly when having to drop down steeply, knowing you would be having to climb all the way back up again.

The gradients were pretty crazy and the last hill right at the end of the race felt ‘like torture’ to Steve. The constant up and downs made it very difficult to maintain a rhythm during the run. He recalls one section of the course where he came hurtling down the hill flat out only to be greeted by a really steep climb immediately after, forcing a difficult change of pace.

Steve finished in 79th place with a time of 50:54, having completed the first 5k in 23:15 and the second half in 27:17. That gives a good indication of just how much tougher the second half of the race is.

The last hill sticks out in Steve’s memory was the final hill at about 9.5k, which was ‘like a wall’. He finished in 79th place with a time of 50:34. With very sore legs after the race, in particular his calves, Steve was finding getting down the stair extremely difficult.

In the immediate aftermath he said he’d never do it again, but after falling the wrong side of 50 minutes, he might be tempted to give it another go once the memory of it has faded a little bit.

Left to right: Gemma Bragg, Jez Bragg, Harriet Slade, Samantha Laws, Jud Kirk, Ian Graham, Steve Parsons

One man who has done the race more than once is Ian Graham. He’s done it a few times in fact, but always seems to have managed to forget how hard it is until he’s back in the thick of it again.

It was Ian’s first race for six months or so, having spent a significant amount of time on the side-lines  through injury. It was good to see Ian back in action and he was indeed the rock holding the team up, finishing in 126th place with a time of 56:06

Third across the line for the BAC ladies was Samantha Laws, who came in 215th place with a time of 1 :11:01. Sam found the race challenging both mentally and physically but in the end completed it in a commendable time.

She was particularly keep on the medals that were handed out to all the finishers. They were actually all hand made from clay, making them rather unique in comparison to the standard bling you normally get.