Ups and Downs for Toby Chapman at Ultra Pirineu

One Bournemouth AC member who really loves to push himself to the absolute limit with his running is Toby Chapman. And if there’s one race that is guaranteed to take its participants to the absolute limit is the Saloman Ultra Pirineu.

The Saloman Ultra Pirineu is a 110km mountain run held in the magnificent Cadí Moixeró Natural Park in the Spanish Pyrenees. The race is famed for its colossal 6,800m elevation gain linking eight different mountain huts. In fact, the slopes are so steep, they mostly entail hiking up, rather than running and even that is a very tough ask for the average runner.

The race starts and finishes in the small town of Bagà, which is near Barcelona. The route combines high mountain passes with urban areas and carries a capacity field of 1,000 runners. The setting is spectacular with breath-taking scenery and magical sunsets.

Toby is no stranger to tough mountain ultras having recently entered the Mont-Blanc Marathon 80km race. He managed almost 50km before being forced to abandon his quest due to sickness. By that time he’d been running for over nine and a half hours.

He was hopeful that the Ultra Pirineu would be a bit more runnable and would suit him better, despite being further in distance. Either way, he was primed and ready and determined to give it his best shot and leave everything out on the slopes of the Pyrenees.

Toby Chapman took on another extraordinary challenge in the Salomon Ultra Pirineu

The race started on Saturday 23rd September at 7am. It was an elevation gain of 1000m to the first checkpoint, which was at Rebost. This was 7.6km into the race. Toby arrived there in just under 1 hour 25 minutes which put him in 323rd place.

After that, a further 924m of climbing took him to Niu d’Aliga, taking the distance up to 13.7km. He’d now been racing for 2 hours 37 minutes and was in 253rd position.

It was mostly downhill to the next checkpoint at Serrat Esposes. He’d now covered 28km and the fact that this was a runnable section helped Toby gain several places. He was now in 199th place, having been going for 4 hours 33 minutes.

After a short uphill stretch, it was then downhill again to the next checkpoint at Bellver. This was at the 39.6km mark and Toby arrived in 5 hours 44 minutes. He was now in 172nd position.

He then had to ready himself for a further 10km of climbing before reaching the next checkpoint at Cortals. This took the total elevation gain to 3,268m and Toby had been going for 7 hours 31 minutes. He had now moved up to 140th place

The following stoppage point was just over 60km into the race.  The elevation was now up to 4,181m and Toby had been racing for 9 hours 38 minutes. The route then continued uphill for a few kilometres before working its way down to Gosol.

Reaching Gosol meant Toby had now covered 73km and had arrived in 11 hours 54 minutes. That put him in 162nd place. By the time he set off on the next stretch it was after 7pm.

It was then onto the penultimate pitstop at Estasen. This was 82km into the race. Toby hit this point at 13 hours 41 minutes. He was now in 148th place. The total elevation gain was now up to 5,093m.

This left 18km to go to the finish. The next checkpoint was at the 99km stage. Upon reaching this, the finish line really would been almost in sight. Sadly Toby never actually made it that for. He was forced to pull out at the 96km point suffering from severe dehydration.

Toby made his way through the hellacious peaks of the Cadí Moixeró Natural Park to complete a total of 96km and an elevation gain of almost 6,000m

Whilst it was gutting to get this far and not make it to the end of the race, there was just no way he could continue. His body was shutting down and sadly he had no option but to withdraw.

Despite registering another DNF, Toby was able to see the positives of the race and was pleased with his performance. It was also a great learning experience and the more of these types of races he does, the more he’ll master the nuances of staying hydrated and getting the right nutrition and rest.

Plus completing 96km with such a huge elevation gain will be a massive confidence booster for Toby as he now knows he can do it. If he’d just got his hydration levels right he would probably have made it to the end. Races like this can hang in the balance on aspects like that and it’s so important to get it right.

Only 603 out of the 1000 people who started the race actually made it to the end, which gives some indication of how tough it is, even for experienced mountain ultra runners. The physical demands on the body are just so extreme.

It hasn’t put Toby off though and given the courage and determination he possesses, there’s no doubt he’ll continue with his foray into challenging mountain ultra races that can push him to the absolute limit and beyond.

After a valiant effort leaving him so close to the finish, Toby will be determined to take on another mountain ultra and race and get end next time




Wins, comebacks and hangovers at Hoburne 5

The Hoburne 5 commanded a little less attention from the Bournemouth AC hierarchy than it did the previous year when it was a Dorset Road Race League fixture. That didn’t stop six BAC members from making an appearance though, with some having the drag themselves through the mire a bit to even make it to the start line.

Christchurch Runners had rolled out a brand new course this year, although the race still started and finished from the same HQ at Hoburne Holiday Park.

The route wasn’t massively different but there seemed to be differing opinions about whether it was more or less undulating than last year. It still retained it’s twisty characteristics though which made it hard to maintain a constant pace.

One man who had absolutely no problem with the new route was BAC member Karl Welch, who tore the course up to take first place in a staggeringly quick time of 27:43.

Karl Welch made a victorious comeback, finishing the race in a super quick time of 27:43

Amazingly, it was Karl’s first race since the Hampshire League Cross-Country fixture at Kings Park last year. He hadn’t trained at all over the summer due to being promoted at work, which resulted in him doing extra hours. This made it it a bit of a struggle to balance out running and working out with the additional time he was putting in at work.

Fortunately this situation has improved a bit recently and Karl has managed to get back to hitting 35 to 40 miles a week. He had been mostly just putting the miles in tough rather than doing any sessions as he felt he needed to get his fitness back and lose a bit of timber first, which he has now done.

For the most part, Karl enjoyed the new route, although he did feel that there were some additional hills in there that he found quite tough. He didn’t really know what sort of time to expect as, like most of us, he hasn’t done many five races, but he can certainly be extremely satisfied with the result.

The winning margin was 33 seconds, over Aaron Froukhians of Totton RC. Andrew Ridley, who often comes to training with us on Tuesday and Thursday evenings took 3rd place in a time of 29:04, seeing off competition from Frank Handy of New Forest Runners, who was 4th in 29:10.

Finishing in 18th place overall was Jud Kirk, who took 3rd in the vm50 category. Jud preferred the new course to the old one, even though it was still quite twisty and he posted a similar sort of the time to what he did at the Littledown 5 a couple of weeks ago, finishing in 33:37.

Jud said he felt like he was going faster so he was a little disappointed when he got to the line and saw his time. It’s made him realise he needs to do more shorter runs to get the leg speed up.

Jud Kirk took 18th place on the day in a time of 33:37

The next BAC member over the line was Mike White, who recorded a time of 35:55. That put him in 32nd place and 9th in the vm40 category. Mike was sandwiched in between two Littledown Harriers, finishing 1 second behind Stephen Amey and 1 second ahead of Heather Khoshnevis.

Having only started training with Bournemouth AC this summer Mike feels that it’s really helped him up his game. This was his first ever race as a club member and he found that the benefits he’s gained from the Tuesday night interval sessions really came in useful on the day. He’s now on the cusp of hitting his PB targets again and he is sure that he if he keeps up the training he will push on.

The Hoburne 5 was also graced with the return to action of a certain Mr Ian White. Ian hasn’t been seen in competitive racing for quite some time but has been putting in a bit of training recently in an attempt to gain some fitness back.

He had chosen the Hoburne 5 as the ideal opportunity to make his long awaited return and dusted his trainers off and dug out his BAC vest from the back of the wardrobe.

Although he would have liked to have been in better shape, Ian still enjoyed being out there. He finished in a very commendable time of 38:02, taking 49th place overall and 11th in the vm40 category.

Two seconds later, Steve Parsons crossed the line, taking 50th place. Steve was having a dilemma in the lead up to the race as he had signed up to do the Hoburne 5 on the Sunday and had been invited to a beer festival on the Saturday night.

He was having a hard time deciding which one of the two events he should sacrifice. However, he couldn’t seem to make up his mind and in the end decided to do both. That meant turning up to the race feeling slightly worse for ware after a few too many ales at the beer festival.

Despite his hungover state, Steve was determined to make it to start line, as he had what he considered to be unfinished business with the Hoburne 5. Last year he started the race but unfortunately did not make it the end after suffering an asthma attack which forced him to pull out.

Steve Parsons put his hangover aside to complete the race, making amends for the previous year when he was forced to pull out

Although he wasn’t at his best, Steve was pleased to have finished the race this time, albeit sweating ale out all the way round. He managed to hang onto the back of Ian White most the way round, which gave him a bit of motivation and took his mind off the discomfort at least. He thinks the smell of the ale seeping out of his pores was probably enough to keep Ian going as well!

Also in the race for BAC was Samantha Laws, who finished in 125th place with a time of 46:55. Sam was 6th in the vf40 category and was reasonably happy with her run.

There was an added bonus for Steve after the race, when they did a raffle with the race numbers and wouldn’t you just know it, Steve got lucky. And of course, the prize turned about to be two bottles of Flack Manor ale and a glass to drink them with. He didn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry when he saw it. Knowing Steve though, he probably drank them when he got home anyway.






Julian Oxborough flies flag for BAC in Salisbury Half Marathon

Julian Oxborough was the only BAC athlete present at the Salisbury Half Marathon

With many BAC athletes focusing their attentions on the Bournemouth Marathon Festival which is fast approaching, the Salisbury Half Marathon was a one that flew under the radar a bit for most of us. We did, however, have some representation in the race in the shape of Julian Oxborough.

Back in the early 1990’s, Julian used to run for Bournemouth AC and was a very good runner in his golden days, capable of doing half marathons in 1 hour 25 minutes.

After a long period out of the game and many changes in his life, Julian has recently got back into running and it’s great to see he has drive to complete races and improve his times, even though his faster days may be behind him.

Despite moving to Somerset, Julian still considers Bournemouth as his true home and still loves to run for BAC. He was targeting a 2 hour 55 finish for the Salisbury Half.

The event was extremely well organised and a great atmosphere was created by supporters out on route. It was a double loop course with very flat profile.

As the race got underway, Julian settled into a steady pace and felt relaxed. He managed to stay strong for the first seven miles, keeping a good pace. Unfortunately, his watch didn’t though and the battery ran out.

Julian takes on some water as he makes his way down Netherhampton Road

At this point he considered pulling out as he had no idea what pace he was running at. He persevered though and continued with the race and in the end he was very glad to have done so.

Crossing the line in 2 hours 46 minutes and 34 seconds, Julian had run his fastest half marathon of the modern era. Since he’s come back into running, Julian has reset the clock on all his PB’s and looks at this as an entirely separate stage of his running career.

Finishing in 780th place overall, Julian was also 74th in the M50-59 category. He was pleased with his performance and will be hoping to use this as a springboard toward becoming a good vet runner. He is under no illusions though and knows he has a lot of work ahead of him. At the moment he’s just taking it one day at a time.

Julian makes a dash for the line, finishing in a very respectable time of 2:46:34

Interestingly, 39 runners were disqualified from the race for wearing headphones. This is something that if often threatened in races, but rarely ever carried through. In the Salisbury Half though, they did actually enforce the rule, much the dismay of numerous competitors.

The safety of the participants should always be paramount though in any race, along with the safety of drivers and other road users who may be passing by. Being unable to hear the instruction of the marshals or the sound of vehicles in the road could potentially be dangerous, so the actions of the race organisers were in fact commendable under the circumstances.

Julian dons his new medal and t-shirt after completing the Salisbury Half Marathon in his fastest run of recent times

BAC heroes Luke Sinnott and Mark Bowra impress at Invictus Games

Luke Sinnott was going for gold in the IT2 100m, 200m and 400m at the Invictus Games 2017 in Toronto

The Invictus Games 2017 took place in Toronto, Canada, between 23rd and 30th September and featured two Bournemouth AC members representing Great Britain. Luke Sinnott took part in the IT2 100m, 200m and 400m and Mark Bowra was in the IF2 Discus and Shotput finals.

The Invictus Games was the brainchild of Prince Harry, set up for members or former members of the armed forces from countries all around the world who have been disabled, either physically or mentally. The Games in Toronto was the third edition of the Invictus Games, following London in 2014 and Florida in 2016.

Luke lost both his legs whilst serving in the Army in Afghanistan in 2010 after becoming the victim of an Improvised Explosive Device. Luke demonstrated the extraordinary character to, not only come back from that, but also to forge a very successful athletics career.

Luke joined Bournemouth AC two years ago and was an inspirational special guest at the BAC presentation evening 2015. He mainly specialises in the Long Jump T42, competing for Great Britain in the World Champions in July. In fact, he finished 4th in the event with a PB jump of 6.15m and was only 10cm shy of a medal.

There was no Long Jump event though in the Invictus Games, so Luke competed in some of the track events instead. First he won his IT2 100m heat in a time of 14.05. Shortly after, he won his 200m heat  in a time of 28.50.

This put him into the finals of both events, where he took the silver medal in the 100m with a time of 14.32. An hour later he was competing in the 200m final, where he went one better, taking the gold medal in an incredible time of 27.99.

Then in the afternoon of that very same day, Luke lined of the 400m final as well. Incredibly, he managed to add to his medal haul, taking a second gold medal, with a time of 1.03.94.

Luke Sinnott races to the line to claim one of two gold medals he won, along with one silver

Needless to say, it was a tremendously successful Games for Luke. He had been determined to win a medal after pledging to bring one back for the family of Corporal David Barnsdale. Corporal Barnsdale was a friend and colleague of Luke’s who was also in the bomb squad. He was killed in Helmand Province in 2010 when a bomb exploded.

This gave Luke an added motivation to succeed and he did not just want to bring any medal back to Corporal Barnsdale’s family. He wanted it to be gold – and indeed it was.

Also travelling to Toronto in search of Invictus Games glory, Mark Bowra was another BAC member who is often seen perfecting his craft at Kings Park.

Mark Bowra packs his bags for Toronto ensuring he brings all his UK kit

Mark was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines. He has always been very sporty and was a member of BaySUP (The Standup Paddleboard club) based in Bournemouth. His life changed dramatically in 2014 when he suffered a severe stroke, which affected his physical ability and speech.

Mark wasn’t going to let the disability get the better of him though and was determined to get back into sports. He’s since excelled in throwing events and was proud to represent Great Britain in both the IF2 Discus and the IF2 Shotput at the Invictus Games.

Mark represented Great Britain in the IF2 Discus and Shotput at the Invictus Games

With a distance of 15.02m, Mark took 5th place in the Discus and with a best throw of 5.97m he finished 6th in the Shotput. This marked a very successful couple of days of athletics for BAC athletes and for Great Britain.

Luke and Mark are not only war heroes, they are also sporting heroes. Their achievements at the Invictus Games are truly inspirational and demonstrate that with hard work and dedication, and with the right attitude, any obstacle can be overcome.