It was over to Stanmer Park in Brighton for the Southern Cross Country Championships of 2018 and four intrepid Bournemouth AC crusadors made the trip to East Sussex to mix it with the very best that the south of England has to offer.
Steve Way, Jacek Cieluszecki, Rob McTaggart and Dave Long were the BAC contingent hoping to make an impression on the muddy, undulating and extremely challenging 9 mile course.
Steve has been hitting the high mileage again since the turn of the year, working toward his main target of the Comrades ultra marathon in June.
After suffering a setback over the new year when a bout of flu took him out of the game for a couple of weeks, Steve has struggled to get back into his stride but he still has time on his side to reach the level he needs to get to.
With several local race wins to look back on in 2017, including a huge triumph in the Bournemouth Marathon, Jacek has been in great form and picked up where he left off on New Year’s Day by winning The Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon.
Tag has also been looking in very good shape over recent times, taking 21st place in the last Hampshire Cross Country fixture at Prospect Park in Reading.
He also took 3rd place in the Christchurch Christmas 10k in the second week of December and feels he is due for a sub 32 minute finish or a sub 70 minute half marathon, given the right race and right conditions.
Dave has been in scintilating form of late, putting in a tremendous display in the Hampshire Cross Country League fixture at Prospect Park to take 3rd place in the men’s race.
After going through an auspicious 12 week training programme, he was more than ready to tackle the rigours of the Stanmer Park circuit and face the inevitably stiff competition.
In fact, it was Dave who faired the best out of the BAC representatives, putting one of his best ever displays to register an incredible 15th place finish in a field of 740 of the south of England’s finest.
The course was pretty horrific with some very testing sectors of the sloppy, sticky variety of mud. Dave isn’t usually at this best over that kind of terrain but he managed it very well on the day.
The race wasn’t without incident for Dave either. He was holding onto the group of runners placed 11th to 14th until the start of the second hill. He then opted to take a riskier line round a muddy corner to make sure he didn’t get dropped from the group.
Unfortunately, that proved to be a mistake and Dave ended up on his backside. By the time he got back to his feet and got going again, the group were out of sight. He continued to give chase until he came onto the home straight where he could see them again.
The distance was too much by that point though so Dave enjoyed the end of the race, safe in the knowledge that he had run much better than even he expected he would.
After his fall, Dave felt like he had been in a proper cross country and with numerous cuts and scrapes down his back, arm and leg, he certainly had the war wounds to show for it. Dave’s finishing time was a staggering 53 minutes and 24 seconds.
The next BAC member to reach the line was Jacek, who came in 45th place in a time of 55:36. Originally, Jacek was targeting a top 20 finish but he had been feeling slightly unwell most of the week in the lead up to the race which meant that he was not quite in peak condition.
At this kind of level, those small margins can make all the difference. It was still a solid run from JC though and he loved the experience. It seems that the tougher the race and the higher the elevation, the more he enjoys it.
Shortly after, Tag arrived at the finish line, taking 74th place in a superb time of 56:32. Tag is another one who revels in the throws of a proper cross country race in its truest and rawest form, or “balls out racing” as he calls it.
Tag has taken part in the Southern Cross Country Championships in the past non many occasions and has sometimes not done himself justice, particularly last year when he came 132nd. This time he was glad to achieve his highest placed finish to date and it certainly bodes well for his prospects in the forthcoming races he has on his radar.
By contrast, Steve didn’t have one of his better days. The hill heavy, mud laden course wasn’t really to his liking and made for a rather depressing slog.
That said, he still managed to secure 145th position, completing the course in a time of 59:48. This would still be a very good run by most peoples’ standards but Steve is obviously used to finishing a lot higher up the field. He did joke afterwards that he was basically just Jacek’s taxi driver!
Craig Palmer, who has been running for BAC in the Hampshire League Cross Country fixtures this season, was also in action. He represented his first claim club Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers and ran extremely well, taking 41st place in a time of 55:28.
The overall race winner was John Gilbert of Kent AC, who completed the course in an unbelievable 51:07. He was followed by Adam Hickey of Southend on Sea in 51:12 and Max Nicholls of Tonbridge in 51:42.
All things considered, this has to go down a decent day for Bournemouth AC, with Dave Long’s masterclass being the highlight, but also 3 men in the top 75 is no mean feat and all 4 in the top 150.
Unfortunately, to qualify for the team competition, you needed to have 6 members in the race. The top scoring team was Bedford & County AC, who had John Eves in 5th, Darren Deed in 7th and Will MacKay in 16th amongst their contingent.
Highgate Harriers finished 2nd, with Serpentine 3rd, Kent AC in 4th, Hercules Wimbledon in 5th and Aldershot, Farnham & District in 6th.
There were no Bournemouth AC representatives in the ladies race this year. That was won by Phoebe Law of Kingston AC & Poly Harriers in 28:56. Emily Hosker Thornhill of Aldershot, Farnham & District was 2nd in 29:18 with Charlotte Christensen of Cambridge & Coleridge coming in 1 second later in 3rd.
Aldershot, Farnham & District also had Philippa Bowden in 4th, Kate Bingle and 5th and Lauren Hall in 22nd, thus scooping the team prize, which comprised of the top 4 scorers. Cambridge & Coleridge were 2nd with Serpentine in 3rd, Winchester & District 4th and Southampton AC in 5th.
The Romsey 5 Mile Run is set within the majestic grounds of The Broadlands Estate, once home to The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and is known for being one of the fastest and flattest 5 mile races in the country.
It was a race that Trevor Elkins had targeted for his first time under 30 minutes for a 5 miler. It was always going to be a tough ask though, as it means a sub 6 minute mile average pace. Having recently upped his mileage quite significantly though, Trevor felt like he was in good enough shape to at least give it a go.
Conscious of the difficulty of the task he had ahead of him, Trevor was desperate to get off to a good start and went through the first mile in 5 minutes 50 seconds. His pace slipped a bit in the second mile but he was still on course for the time he was looking for.
The third mile contained a section of badly maintained pavement, which was so rough it felt like going through a never ending pothole. It was a two lap course and Trevor actually had to go over that section three times.
This did slow him down quite significantly and he went through miles 3 and 4 at around 6:30 pace. He now knew that his chances of achieving his target time had gone out the window.
He did manage to pick it up a little in the last mile, managing a 6:15 minute mile, consequently crossing the line in a time of 31:01. Although it wasn’t quite the time he was hoping for, it was still a decent performance from Trevor and gives him something to build on.
In a field of 914, Trevor crossed the line in 39th place, which is still a result to be proud of and it put him 7th in the male 30-39 category. His average pace for the run was 6 minutes 13, which would have pleased most people but for Trevor, it left him feeling slightly disappointed.
Sometimes, as a runner though, you do get those days where it just doesn’t quite click and you don’t feel you have achieved maximum potential. That may have been for case for Trevor on this occasion but he will have the opportunity to redeem himself next weekend as he goes in the Avon Valley Railway 4k; a race he won last year in a course record time of 15:09.
A week of frequent rain in the lead up to the Warmley Forest Park 5k and 10k races had left the Bristol based course in an extremely soggy and muddy state. That seems to be just how the locals from that area seem to like it though and they were keen to get to grips with the challenging off-road route.
Giving an Aspire Running Event a go for the first time, Rich Brawn didn’t really know what to expect. The Aspire Running Event had been recommended to him by his Bournemouth AC teammate Trevor Elkins, who has done quite a few of the Aspire races and has accrued an impressive array of trophies over the past few years.
After arriving at the venue, Rich was immediately struck by the friendly atmosphere and could see that spirits hadn’t been dampened by the cold and wet conditions.
As well as the standard 5k and 10k races, there was also a Canicross option for people wishing to run with a dog. These races were surprisingly popular and added to the genial nature of the proceedings.
Once the Canicross races has got underway, it was time for the 5k race to start. This was where things got a bit more serious, or they did for Rich at least. He was focused and had come with only one intention – and that was to win.
He could see Ross Wayne there on the start line and was aware that Ross would be a threat. In fact, he had encountered Ross at Blandford parkrun a few weeks ago, where the there wasn’t must to choose between the two. Rich had just came out on top that day but he knew he’d have to run well again to repeat that feat.
In the early stages of the race, Rich was in the lead. He was quite comfortable going over the concrete paths. However, once the route began to wind into the forest and out into the fields, that was when it got a whole lot tougher.
Although he had his trail shoes on, Rich was still struggling to find some grip on the muddy surface. He was slipping and sliding all over the place and it was then that Brad Cox pounced to take over the lead.
Brad is a another regular at the Aspire Running Events and has very good pedigree. He’s certainly had some good tussles with Trevor over recent times and has always proved to a be a strong competitor.
Rich tried to stay with Brad as best he could but then a game changing moment occurred. As the pair began to approach a tight path through the woods there were a couple of runners with dogs just ahead. Brad moved quickly to nip in front of them as he got to the path. Rich was unable to get there in time and had to come to a virtual stop to wait for the runners with dogs to let him past.
Brad seized the moment and opened out a gap between himself and Rich and it was a gap that Rich was unable to close as the race went on. He began to realise he would have to settle for 2nd place. The gap between the pair of them was widening throughout the rest of the race and soon Brad was completely out of sight.
The left Rich with just the task of negotiating his way over the thick mud safely enough to be able to get to the line. The difficulty of running in mud had taken it’s toll on Rich and he slowed down quite considerably over the latter stages.
Crossing the line in a time of 22 minutes 54 seconds, Rich finished up 1 minute 18 behind Brad, who took the race win in 21:36. Despite taking a wrong turn at one point, Ross took 3rd in a time of 24:26.
Although it wasn’t quite the result he was hoping for, Rich was still happy to receive a trophy for his 2nd place and it was actually the first trophy he had ever won in an individual race. This made the long drive and the plight of finishing up absolutely covered in mud all worthwhile in the end.
After completing the race, Rich certainly felt like his leg muscles had had a proper workout. It required a fair amount of strength just to stay upright round the twists and turns of the muddy trails. At that point, he was glad he wasn’t doing to the 10k where the participants had to do that same loop twice.
Overall, Rich enjoyed the race and, although it was quite a long way to travel, he wouldn’t be adverse to trying out some other Aspire Running Events in the future. Perhaps he’ll manage to secure that elusive 1st place trophy next time round.
Staged on the rugged trails of the nation’s only dedicated army tank training ground at Bovington Camp, The Dirty Devil Stampede is far from your standard, off-road 5k or 10k race.
The muddy tracks and numerous water sections, sometimes over waist deep, give it a very unique twist. At one point, competitors are required to crawl under a net through an ankle deep muddy puddle. It could almost be described as a cross between a running race and an army assault course.
After winning the race the previous 2 years, Trevor Elkins is quite adept at handling the challenges that a course like this can bring and he was looking to retain his title in the 5k event. Having recently upped his mileage quite significantly, covering 120 miles in three weeks, Trevor was going into it feeling a little fatigued to say the least.
That said though, he had had a bit of a rest week in the lead up to the race though so was hoping to feel a little fresher but the heavy miles had definitely taken its toll.
In spite of that, Trevor started off well and was sitting in second place for the first couple of miles before edging his way into the lead. He had managed to build up a gap of around 20 metres before proceeding to fall over in one of the water sections.
The guy who Trevor had initially overtaken, Morven Telford, then seized his opportunity and reassumed the lead. After falling over a couple more times, Trevor had to resort to walking through the water sections, whereas Morven was running though, enabling him to extend his lead.
Because it was a training ground for army tanks, the water sections were deeper on the left and right hand sides, where the tracks go, and more shallow in the middle, although that was still up to waist height. The problem for Trevor was that he was trying to take the middle ground but his right foot kept slipping into the deep area.
With about half a mile to go, Trevor caught Morven up, but as he was weaker going through the mud and water sections, he wasn’t able to get back in front and was ultimately forced to settle for 2nd place.
Although he hadn’t quite managed to seal his 3rd consecutive victory, it was still a very commendable performance from Trevor and his finishing time of 21:43 was a slight improvement on his performance last year.
The gap between Morven and Trevor as they crossed the line was only 30 seconds, so it was a very close call. After the race, Trevor was presented with glass trophy for 2nd place, which was a nice consolation.
There were a total of 221 finishers in the 5k race. A further 320 took part in the 10k race, which was won by Luke Debenedictis of Poole Runners in 37:25. There was also a 15k race which attracted 144 participants. That was won by Chris Lee of Zoom Tri Club in 57:23.
Taking place at Moors Valley Country Park, the Dark Moors 10 mile race has a unique twist, starting off at 6:30pm, plunging the participants into pitch black whilst they attempt to navigate their way around the course.
Armed with only a head torch and a certified sense of adventure, the competitors had to make their way round the trails and through the woods in surroundings many would be familiar with from the Moors Valley Country parkrun on Saturday mornings. It’s a little different though when you can’t see where you’re going.
There were two Bournemouth AC members moving over to the dark side, with Mark Hillier and Chris O’Brien looking to shine in the night-time gaze.
Mark is currently in the process of vamping his training up with the prospect of the Marathon des Sables now looming large on the horizon. The Marathon des Sables is a six day, 156 mile ultra across the Sahara desert in southern Morocco. It has been described as the toughest foot race on earth.
The Dark Moors 10 mile race isn’t as extreme as that but it certainly gave Mark something different and interesting to get his teeth into. The visual spectacle of the race was truly something to behold, with all the combatants sporting bright head torches and many draped in fairy lights and wearing reflective racing gear of some sort.
It was a challenging course, given that there were some treacherous muddy sections that were difficult to see, even with a head torch, until you were actually in them! It would have been easy to have twisted an ankle whilst manoeuvring across the uneven ground in the dark. Fortunately that didn’t happen to Mark.
In fact, Mark seemed to flourish in the nocturnal surroundings, racing round the course at an extraordinary speed. Crossing the line in 6th place overall, his time of 1:06:30 was extremely impressive under the circumstances. Mark was also the 1st runner home in the M45 category, a very pleasing result and a sure sign that he is on the right track with his current training regime.
As is often the case with White Star events, the feedback on the race was good and it was well organised, very well attended and had a real friendly vibe about it. There was a total of 348 people in the race.
Unfortunately, the proceedings didn’t go quite so smoothly for Chris O’Brien. Chris hasn’t had the best of times recently and has been suffering from chest problems since the Christmas 10k back in mid-December.
The weekend before last he took part in the Somerley 10k but had to take it easy due his condition. He still came 22nd out of nearly 400 runners, but for him it was really just a tempo training run, finishing in 42:44.
At the Dark Moors race though, it was a different issue that affected him. Again, he was planning on running a steady race and everything was going according to plan up until the 8 mile point.
It was then that he was struck by a big knot that had occurred in his glutes. The pain was quite intense and sent him to a grinding halt. At first he tried to get at the knot but it was too deep to be able to get to it. He was then reduced to walking or hobbling along for the next couple of kilometres before managing to break into a light jog for the remaining kilometre.
He was at least able to make it to the end, but the time he was on for before the calamity had completely gone out the window, leaving him to cross the line in just over 1 hour 30 minutes. This put him in 109th position.
Although it was extremely frustrating for Chris that the race had ended in this way, the glute issue hadn’t completely come out of the blue. He had felt a few niggles in the training session on the Tuesday before. Because of that, he knew there was always a danger something could go wrong, but he certainly wasn’t expecting it to tighten up the way it did.
It was the first time anything like that had happened to Chris in all his time of running and he’s completed over 100 races. It’s never happened to him before in training either. He was philosophical about it afterwards, describing it as just “one of those things”.
The one sliver lining for Chris is that he knows it isn’t a serious, long term injury, which is a good thing since he is due to start his London Marathon training next week.
Next up for Mark is the Pilgrim’s Challenge on 3rd and 4th February. The Pilgrim’s Challenge consists of 33 miles each day over the North Downs.
Mark is planning on carrying a 5kg backpack with him so he use it a test for lugging some weight around with him. This is something he will have to do in the Marathon des Sables as each runner is responsible for carrying their own food, sleeping gear and other equipment with them.
Rather than aiming for a specific time, Mark is just hoping to finish and preferably with as little pain as possible. One thing is for sure though. He won’t be doing any more night races between now and the Marathon des Sables. He cannot afford to risk getting injured at this stage.
Staged in the heart of the small, scenic village of Stubbington, the illustrious Stubbington 10k is now in its 33rd year running and remains as popular as ever with the locals and other runners from nearby clubs in the southern region of Hampshire.
It isn’t just the race that’s been around for a while though. Having taken part in the Stubbington 10k on numerous occasions before, Sanjai Sharma is a seasoned campaigner. In fact, he’s competed in 6 or the last 7 years, so is very familiar with the picturesque landscape, country lanes and coastal roads that the route encompasses.
Renowned as one of the biggest and best races of its kind that the south coast has to offer, the Stubbington 10k course is fast and mostly flat, with a sprinkling of gentle inclines.
As so many people have been recently, Sanjai has been suffering from a cough and cold and has spent the last few weeks trying to recover. With that in mind, he wasn’t expecting to be at his absolute peak on the day but was still aiming for a sub 38 minute finish.
As you would expect from a January morning, the temperature was cold but, aside from that, the conditions were good. Despite his recent illness, Sanjai had a good run, completing the course in a stellar time of 37:17.
That put him in 77th place in a field of 1,657. Although he was desperately hanging on in the last kilometre, Sanjai was happy with the result, which put him 3rd in the Vet Male 55 category.
This was almost an identical time to what Sanjai has produced in this race the previous two years. In 2017 he crossed the line in 37:14 and in 2016 he clocked a 37:13, so he’s been remarkably consistent over the past few years.
Last year’s race winner Matthew Bennett of Southampton AC was beaten into 4th place, with Joe Wade of Aldershot, Farnham & District seizing victory in a blistering time of 31:11. Ben Brewster of Southampton AC was 2nd in a time of 32:07, with George King of Winchester & District claiming 3rd in 32:17.
In the ladies race, Jen Elkins of Southampton AC retained her title from last year, finishing in a time of 34:47. She finished 19th overall. The next female to cross the line was Rebecca Lord, who came in 47th overall in a time of 36:21. Sarah Kingston of Southampton AC was 3rd in a time of 36:38, putting her 56th in the overall standings.
What a weekend of athletic triumph! England‘s cricketers trounced the Australians in the first ODI, and then the Cherries floored Arsenal with a 2-1 win. But before all that, and most importantly, BAC‘s senior men romped to a clear second place in Division 1 at the penultimate fixture of this season’s Hampshire Cross CountryLeague at Reading on Saturday 13 January.
The BAC charge was led by Dave Long who is surely pleased with his last minute decision to compete. Dave ran an intelligent, tactical race, keeping with the leading group until it dwindled down to just three, Dave and the two leading AFD athletes, well ahead of fourth. Dave eventually judged that he would be unable to take the AFD athletes so, instead of expending unnecessary effort in an attempt to do so, and being well clear of the next athlete, Dave eased off to finish a comfortable third. Not far behind, Craig Palmer and JoshKing were battling it out for a top spot, with Craig finishing eighth, and Josh tenth, just 11 seconds later. Rob McTaggart and GrahamRobinson were also running out of their skins, and it paid off, with 21st and 28th finishing positions respectively. So BAC‘s senior men concluded the day with their best result of the season, just 70 points, to place them second on the day, well ahead of third placed Southampton AC on 111 points. BAC‘s aggregate position for the season so far is third. No-one is going to catch Aldershot, Farnham& District, but, having finished 5th, 2nd, 5th and 2nd it is all to go for to achieve 2nd of Division 1 for the season, but it will need a similar performance at the last fixture at Aldershot on Saturday 10 February.
Spare a thought for Stuart Nicholas! Stuart powered round the course at Reading to finish a magnificent 40th, despite having competed in – and won! – not one, but two, marathons only a week earlier. On any other day Stuart would have counted in the team, but the fact that, had anything gone wrong, or any of our ‘super five’ team athletes not made it to Reading, Stuart‘s 40th position would still have left us with an excellent result, shows just how important the sixth runner is.
BAC are, of course, going well in the veteran men and veteran women competitions. Pat Robbins was BAC‘s first veteran man to cross the line, running very strongly to finish 66th overall, to be followed by Jud Kirk, who had ‘called in’ at Reading to compete during a journey from Cambridge back home to Bournemouth. The team was completed by Steve Cox, and finished in 12th position on the day. However, based on the best three results, BAC‘s veteran men are 3rd equal aggregate – 3rd equal with Poole AC, so a good result at Aldershot is essential! Unfortunately, the ‘Reading curse’ struck again for the ladies, with BAC represented by just NikkiSandell and Kirsty Drewett. Although, therefore, there is no team result for the day, BAC still lies 6th in the table for the senior women, and an impressive 3rd for the veteran women, but a strong turnout at Aldershot will be needed to maintain these positions.
The Hampshire Cross Country League is one of the strongest in the country, so Richard Brawn was well pleased with his finish in the top 100.
More photos below….photos with thanks to Sarah Swift, Richard Brawn and Steve Cox…………
A number of BAC athletes, based on their best three performances, appear in the top ten individual rankings. Of the senior men, Dave is third and Craig is fifth. Of the veteran men, Steve Way is sixth and Nikki is third of the veteran women.
Once again, BAC‘s youngsters were conspicuous by their absence, with representation almost exclusively from the Farwell (Tom – U15 boys and Sam – U13 boys) and Sandell (Anya – U15 girls and Isaac – U11 boys) families, though it was pleasing to see in addition SamBrewer competing with the U13 boys and Nathan Meares with the U11 boys.
Results (BAC): Senior/Veteran Men: 3. Dave Long 31.52; 8. Craig Palmer 32.33; 10. Josh King 32.44; 21. Rob McTaggart 33.39; 28. Graham Robinson 34.08; 40. Stuart Nicholas 35.39; 66. Pat Robbins 37.07; 96. Richard Brawn 39.39; 120. Jud Kirk 41.54; 160. Steve Cox 46.54: U15 Boys: 25. Tom Farwell 14.53: U13 Boys: 48. Sam Farwell 12.31; 62. Sam Brewer 14.25: U11 Boys (not part of the League): 40. Isaac Sandell 12.11; 50. Nathan Meares 12.50: Senior/Veteran Women: 32. Nikki Sandell 23.04; 65. Kirsty Drewett: U15 Girls: 28. Anya Sandell 14.48.
Completing a marathon is a tough task in itself and requires a certain level of intestinal fortitude. Winning a marathon requires something a little bit extra. Something special that sets you apart from the rest.
Completing two marathons in two days requires an extraordinary level of toughness in both a mental and a physical sense. Winning two marathons in two days… well, there are no real superlatives to describe an achievement like that. It’s something that is very rarely done. In fact, it’s very rarely even attempted.
That was the target Stu Nicholas had set himself though as he took on the Winter Enigma on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th January. The event was held at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes and featured one marathon that was 7 and a half laps of the lake in a clockwise direction, on the Saturday, and a second marathon that was 7 and a half laps of the lake in an anti-clockwise direction, on the Sunday.
It sounds quite simple really. Participants just had to select which day they fancied, submit their entry and when the time came, do the run. However, if they wanted to be really outlandish, there was always option C. This was the chance to do both marathons, back-to-back. It was this choice that Stu went for, of course. It was the only option he was ever going to go for.
Stu has won marathons before. In fact, he recently emerged victorious in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon four weeks prior up against a field of 895 competitors. But he’s always looking for new ways to challenge himself and sometimes, winning one marathon just isn’t enough.
Stu was very familiar with the Caldecotte Lake having previously ran there in the Enigma Fireworks Marathon on bonfire night last November. In fact, it was the same route of 7 and a half laps round the lake. That day he won the race, competing just 5 days after his triumph in the Halloween Challenge, another marathon which was held at Saphire Hoe Nature Reserve in Dover.
The Enigma Winter was taking the challenge up a notch though as it was the first time he’s attempted back-to-back marathons on consecutive days.
The conditions were cold, wet and icy as he set off for marathon number 1. He was up against 55 other competitors, many of whom were members of the 100 Marathon Club. Some of those in the line up were also scheduled to compete in the second marathon as well, but many of them were only doing the one so could afford to really go for broke.
Despite that though, Stu was quickly into pole position and as the race continued he went from strength to strength. In fact, it turned out the biggest problem he had to negotiate was a flock of geese who had decided to take up residence on the path he was meant to be following.
Nothing was going to stand in his way though and Stu established a comfortable lead. Without any of the other competitors close to him, it was just a case of carrying on and ticking off the laps, one by one. Of course he also knew in the back of his mind that he had to conserve some energy for the second marathon the day after.
That didn’t stop him registering a terrific time of 2 hours 56 minutes, claiming a superb victory in marathon number one. His advantage was over 20 minutes from the 2nd placed runner who was Paul Allen from the 100 Marathon Club. Of course, this was only half the job done for Stu though. He knew he’d be lining up there again the next day to complete his second marathon in as many days.
The only difference this time was that Stu had to get used to running in an anti-clockwise direction, rather than clockwise. Otherwise it was pretty much the same task ahead, only this time he could afford to leave everything out there on the course knowing he could rest afterwards.
Having run so well the previous day, Stu was in confident mood going into the second race. He was feeling a lot of fatigue from his exploits though so started off at a more tempered pace.
That said though, he still managed to get into the lead in the early stages of the race. Although it may not have been quite as fast as the previous day, the pace he was going at was still too tough for most of the 51 other competitors he was up against.
Stu managed to maintain an advantage over the rest of the field up until the 18th mile, when Jamie Bird of the 100 Marathon Club appeared out of nowhere and overtook him. At that point, Stu thought the game was up and his hopes of achieving back-to-back marathon victories were going up in smoke.
Nevertheless, he kept Jamie in sight and dug in. If he was going to go down, he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. As the remaining miles went by, he slowly began to close the gap on Jamie. Then, with 800 metres to go he reassumed 1st place.
Having got the lead back, Stu was absolutely determined to keep hold of it and as he approached the finish line, it became clear that he had done it. He’d claimed his second marathon victory in as many days and the dream had been realised.
It was a true testament to Stu’s character that after losing the lead on the 18th mile, he did not give up hope. He remained resolute and determined and was not prepared to settle for anything less than 1st place. He had demonstrated the attitude of a true winner.
In the end there were just 24 seconds separating Stu from Jamie who finished in 2nd. Stu’s time for marathon two was a still very impressive 3:13:40. The athlete who took 3rd place, Paul Sutherland of Marshall Milton Keynes had also completed the marathon on the previous day, finishing 4th on that occasion.
For Stu to be able win his second of the back-to-back marathons was seriously impressive. However, it was even more impressive when you take into consideration that a lot of the competitors he was up against hadn’t done the marathon the day before so were much fresher. That made his double marathon victory all the sweeter.
With another two marathons completed that brought Stu’s total up to 38 and he’s now well on his way to reaching the magic 50 marathon mark by the time the year is out.
Aldon Hill in Yeovil was the venue for the South West Club & County Cross Country Championships of 2018 held on Sunday 7th January. Bournemouth AC had two members representing both club and county in the shape of Josh King and Tom Paskins.
Both Josh and Tom were in the Senior Men’s category with the race kicking off at midday. The course was 3 laps and 8.5k in length. There were a couple of reputable climbs and some steep descents on each lap, along with some challenging section under foot. These all had to be negotiated 3 times over, of course. The tough profile, combined with the freezing cold weather made it feel like a proper cross country race at least.
Josh enjoys a challenging course though and had high hopes for a good performance. Unfortunately it didn’t quite come together for him on the day and he was a little disappointed with the end result.
That said though, it was still a terrific run by most peoples’ standards, landing him a 15th place finish overall in a time of 32:04. In such a high standard field, that’s still a very good achievement, although it’s not where he would have wanted to be.
The race was won by Phil Norman off Woodford Green in a time of 29:53, who was representing Devon. Also running for Devon, Aaron Richmond of Bideford was 2nd in a time of 30:36.
The 1st Dorset runner over the line was Tom Austin of Poole AC, who took 3rd place in a time of 30:40. Josh was actually the 2nd Dorset runner to finish out of the 18 representitives.
Tom Paskins started off at a steady pace as he had a bit of a pain in the left knee and didn’t want to destroy himself so early on in the season. The pain eventually subsided after a couple of laps and he was able to pick up the pace.
Crossing the line in a time of 39:46, Tom finished in 109th place overall and was the 13th Dorset runner to complete the race. Other than the knee complaint, his legs felt pretty good and he was pleased not to get lapped by the super-fast guys at the front of the field. It was a good experience for Tom and despite the cold weather, he was glad he got out there and did it.
In the county competition for the Senior Men, Dorset finished 4th out of the 6 counties involved. Devon finished 1st and as well as having the top 2 finishers, they had 5 athletes in the top 20. Avon were 2nd, with Somerset in 3rd. Cornwall were 5th and Wiltshire 6th.
Also running for Dorset on the day were Chris Alborough of Poole AC (30th, 33:11), Dominic Wilmore of Poole Runners (34th, 33:18), Jamie Grose of Poole AC (35th, 33:27), Piers Copeland of Wimborne AC (42nd, 33:59), Tom East of Poole Runners (51st, 34:39), Joseph Kelliher of Wimborne AC (58th, 35:08), Steve Claxton of Poole Runners (74th, 36:08), Ian Luke of Poole Runners (85th, 37:05), Joseph Mitchell of Poole Runners (93rd, 37:53), Adam Gough of Dorchester AC (104th, 39:17), Simon Wildbur of Poole AC (116th, 40:29), Clint Cornick of Dorchester AC (119th, 41:27), Mike Jurd of Wimborne AC (120th, 41:47), David Crowther of Dorchester AC (125th, 43:20) and Peter Kingswell-Farr of Wimborne AC (128th, 44:31).
There was a total of 134 participants in the Senior Men’s race. The club competition was won by Bristol & West AC who had 5 runners in the top 30. Wells City Harriers were 2nd, with Team Bath in 3rd, Cornwall AC in 4th, Taunton in 5th, Westbury Harriers in 6th and Poole Runners in 7th.
You had to have 5 club members to make up a team, so Bournemouth AC didn’t feature in the team competition. Originally a strong team of 5 had been assembled but a combination of illnesses and changes of plans meant that it didn’t happen in the end.
Firstly team captain Rich Nelson, who was doing all the organising, was taken ill and was unable to make it. This debilitating virus that has been going round also got the better of László Tóth, who was down to race but was forced to pull out as a result.
Rob McTaggart was also initially on the list but then the Telford 10k that he’d also entered was rescheduled to the same day, having been postponed due to snow. This was a big target race for Tag and he was intending on doing it but only made is as far as Oxford before he was sick and had to abandon the idea.
Craig Palmer but he opted to go for the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Championships instead, where his first claim club of Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers is located. Craig came 6th overall in the race, which was held at Biggleswade on the Saturday, completing the 11k course in a time of 48:24.
In the Senior Women’s race, on one Bournemouth AC lady, HarrietSlade, was representing club and county. Unfortunately she’d picked up a calf injury during the week though, most likely as a result of overuse.
After resting it for a bit prior to the race day, she was hoping it would be okay. However, as soon as she hit the hills she could feel the calf muscle pulling and the pain she’d been experiencing previously had returned. It was a sharp sort of pain, similar to that of shin splints, and in the end it got the better of her, forcing her to pull out at the end of the first lap.
She was reluctant to do so but had to think of the bigger picture. It wasn’t worth the risk of making the injury worse and potentially putting herself on the sidelines for a lot longer.
The race was won by Ruth Barnes of Avon Valley Runners. Ruth was also representing Wiltshire and she clocked a time of 20:35 on a course that was around 5.3k in length.
Charlie Arnell of Torbay AC and Devon was 2nd in 21:52, with Natalie Griffiths of Bristol and West AC and Avon in 3rd in a time of 22:02. Emma Stepto of Cornwall AC and Cornwall was 4th.
The 1st Dorset runner over the line was Amy Bond of Poole AC, who finished 5th in a time of 22:22. Also representing Dorset were Sharon Hutchings of Dorset Doddlers (42nd, 25:20), Sharon Shaw of Poole Runners (44th, 25:36), Helen Southcott of Maiden Newton Runners (54th, 26:27), Sarah Swift of Poole Runners (66th, 29:06) and Tina Mercer of Wimborne AC (68th, 32:42).
Avon topped the standings in the county competition for the Senior Women, with 4 ladies in the top 10. Devon were 2nd, with Wiltshire in 3rd, Cornwall in 4th and Dorset in 5th.
In terms of the club competition for the Senior Women, Bristol & West AC also won this as well, with 4 athletes in the top 15. Avon Valley Harriers were 2nd, with Chippenham Harriers in 3rd, Taunton AC in 4th, Westbury Harriers in 5th and Cornwall AC in 6th.
The new year kicked off with the first Dorset Road Race League fixture of 2018, The Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon. With the race scheduled for New Year’s Day, it was always going to be tricky for Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson to get a competitive team together.
Many would have been out partying till the early hours and knew they would most likely not be in any condition to race the day after but it was still very important for BAC to get off to a good start in their bid to challenge for the league titles.
This difficulty was then compounded by a debilitating virus that has been going round since Christmas. The virus took its fair share of victims in the build up to the race including Steve Way, Joy Wright and Steve and Dave Parsons.
This meant Rich had to rope in some replacements and make some last ditch number transfers on the morning of the race to get the team sheet to reflect all those who were actually fit to run.
In the end, Rich had managed to succeed in his mission impossible and a team of 10 men and 4 ladies took to the start line. That included the reluctant Rich, who caved in following a bit of banter with Richard Wade and others. They pointed out that since he’d dragged them out, he should jolly well get out there in the rain with them!
The race started in a comical fashion when the race briefer announced that he was going to hand over to the starter who will begin the race in 2 minutes. Then, after a bit of jostling at the front, it appeared that the race had in fact started, catching some of the participants unaware.
It was a different course this year, which gave those who were familiar with the previous route the hope that perhaps this time it would be a little easier. However, they seemed to somehow manage to find even more hills!
The course was basically a triangle that they did twice. It was downhill to start off with, then up Gravel Hill and across the top back to where it started. The first lap included a detour into a housing estate to make up for the section that the route changes had cut out.
By the very nature of the Broadstone Quarter, it was easy to guess that the housing estate would not be entirely flat and it included a short sharp hill that most would have been glad they didn’t have to tackle twice.
Unfortunately, Bournemouth AC’s chances of finishing 1st in the men’s team competition were dealt an early blow when Ant Clark was forced to abandon the race on the first lap, due to a tight hamstring.
Once the race was underway, it was two BAC men that hit the front. Jacek Cieluszecki was looking to start the new year in the same vain that you finished the last one, by winning! Another BAC member, Joe Arundel, went with him for the first couple of miles.
Jacek didn’t fancy sharing the spoils though and began to build up a gap. After that, he never looked back. The course suited Jacek very well, with one of the hills being about a mile long. And as it was two laps, that meant going up that long climb a second time as well.
As we all know by now, JC is very adept at going up and down hills, spending a lot of his time out training on the humps of the Purbeck. He also competed in and excelled in the OCC Mont-Blanc and Eigar 51 mountain ultras over the summer, so heavy duty inclines are something of a speciality for him.
In the end, there was only going to be one winner, and Jacek cruised home for the victory in a stunning time of 35:01. Although this time seemed inconceivable for most competitors, Jacek was actually thinking beforehand that he could do it in about 35 minutes, so his hypothesis was bang on.
1 minute and 21 seconds later, Joe Arundel crossed the line to take 2nd place in a still mightily impressive time of 36:22. Joe is currently back in Bournemouth on a break from university and showed that uni life has not been a detrement to his running ability.
Joe has been predominantly training on the track at the moment, with the 3k and 5k distances his main focus. He is considering stepping up to 10k this year though and judging by his performance in this race, he’d certainly do well at that.
Dominic Wilmore of Poole Runners took 3rd place in a time of 36:44. Jamie Grose of Poole AC was 4th in 37:19, with Tom East of Poole Runners taking 5th in 37:24.
Sean Edwards and Lee Dempster of Lychett Manor Striders took 5th and 6th, with David Broadley and Brian Underwood of Poole AC finishing in 8th and 9th. Steve Claxton of Poole Runners completed the top 10.
The next Bournemouth AC member over the line was Graeme Miller who came in 18th place in a time of 40:05. Graeme actually preferred the new course over the old one as this time there wasn’t a climb that hits you in the very 1st minute. His time was over a minute slower than on the previous course but that is a reflection on where he is right now.
Finishing 5th in the male 40 to 49 category, Graeme was pleased with his performance in what was always going to be a tough race.
After experiencing a tough end to the year in 2017 where his form dipped a little, Tom Paskins showed that his speed is starting to come back. He took 30th place in a solid time of 41:43.
At this early stage in the season, Tom was quite happy with his effort and his legs felt much stronger than they did at the Boscombe 10k in the final fixture of the 2017 DRRL campaign.
Last season Tom was the top BAC man on the board, finishing in 11th place overall, so it was pleasing for him to get off to a good start in 2018.
Only 7 seconds had elapsed when the next BAC member arrived at the finish. It was Richard Wade, who took 32nd place in a time of 41:50. Richard was one of those who had been drafted in at late notice and he’d already done a long training run the day before before he realised he’s be racing New Year’s Day.
Considering that and the foot injury he’s been suffering from recently, it was a decent effort from Richard, who feels he is still a little short on top end speed at the present time. He was 3rd in the male 50 to 59 category.
Crossing the line in 67th position, Jud Kirk was the next BAC member to complete the race. Jud finished in a time of 44:37, putting him 11th in the male 50 to 59 category.
After spending the first part of the race trying to get around people who had moved to the front due to all the chaos at the start, Jud settled into a good pace and was still going well at the half way point.
A couple of people who he’d been targeting then managed to get away from him on the second downhill section and he left himself a bit too much to do on the Gravel Hill ascent to make up the ground.
That was despite a very strong finish in which he was going at 6 minute mile pace for the last half a mile. Overall, Jud was pleased with his run but feels he needs to find a bit more speed to get to where he wants to be.
The first BAC lady over the line was Nikki Sandell who came in 81st place in a time of 45:58. Nikki is still suffering from her achilles injury that she sustained back in September in the run up to the Bournemouth Marathon.
After Joy was ruled out through illness, it meant the ladies were quite thin on the ground, with only 3 of them available on the day. As is often the case, that prompted Nikki to take one for the team and do the race, even though deep down she knew she shouldn’t be running.
Nevertheless, she played through the pain and ended up as the 8th lady over the line on the day, so not a bad result considering her situation.
As the winner of the individual league last season, Nikki would very much like to be in a position to defend her crown this time round. Hopefully she’ll make a full recovery in the coming weeks or months and give herself a chance to get back to top form. Otherwise she’ll really be playing catchup.
There next BAC lady to finish was Yvonne Tibble, who took 1st place in the female 50 to 59 category, a prize that she won on so many occasions last season.
With a time of 48:31, Yvonne was 12th placed lady and finished 115th overall. Last season Yvonne finished as 3rd placed lady overall and she’d dearly love to emulate that achievement again in 2018.
Next in for the club was Rich Nelsonwho finished in 121st place, crossing the line dead on 49 minutes. For Rich, it was more of a leisurely jog round than an all-out race.
On a couple of occasions he even stopped to chat to a BAC members he spotted out on the route supporting, hoping to encourage them to participate in forthcoming fixtures. A captain’s work is never done it would appear.
Taking 152nd place on the day was Mike White, who completed the race in a time of 50:30. Mike has been running well recently, securing PB’s in both 10 mile and 5 mile distances.
On the flat and downhill sections, Mike was comfortable running at his usual pace but felt he was struggling a bit on the hills. This could easily be put down to the Christmas indulgence though. One thing it has done is give him the motivation to get back to training so he can enjoy the races a little more than he did on this occasion.
The third lady in for BAC was LouisePrice,who was horrified at first to find she would be scoring for the team. She stepped up to the plate well though and delivered a strong performance, finishing in 191st place in a time of 53:15.
Louise was the 33rd female to cross the line and, although she was a minute slower than her time of last year, considering the wet conditions and the fact that she missed virtually the whole season in 2017 due to high hamstring tendonopathy, it was a pleasing result.
This gave the ladies a 4th place finish in the team competition, which was not a bad return considering it was a bit of a makeshift team. Poole Runners were the winners, with Poole AC in 2nd and Dorset Doddlers 3rd. Dorset Doddlers are in Division 2 off the Dorset Road Race League, so effectively it was 3rd place for the BAC ladies team.
In 213th place overall, Mark Westcott was the next BAC member to complete the race, finishing in a time of 55:18. Mark was one of several who also turned out in the Round the Lakes 10k race on Boxing Day.
Another man completing a Boxing Day and New Year’s Day double header was IanGraham,who had still not fully recovered from the after effects of the flu he’d been suffering from over Christmas.
Ian had a bit of a torrid time on the soggy first lap but as conditions improved a bit he began to warm up. He reached the line in 56:38, putting him in 238th place overall.
Although this was a few minutes down on his time from last year, given his condition, he was really just content to get round. That said, Ian still finished 2nd in the male 70 plus category.
Rounding things off for the BAC brigade was Helen Ambrosen, who crossed the line in 263rd place with a time of 58:58. Helen has done the Broadstone Quarter several times before, registering her best time of 46:54 in 2005.
After having a lot of time out in 2017, she knows it will take a while to get back to that sort of form but she’s certainly willing to work for it. At the current moment in time though, she’s just happy to be back out there racing again and representing the club.
She was actually a couple of minutes faster in the Broadstone Quarter last year but Helen has been doing a lot recently, including parkrun 2 days before and some weight training the previous day so that may have had an impact. She felt she was going well until the ascent up Gravel Hill on the 2nd lap where her legs began to tighten a bit.
All things considered though, it was a good day for Helen and her comeback appears to be progressing nicely. She was 67th lady to finish.
In the men’s team competition, the trio of Jacek, Joe and Graeme finished 2nd to Poole Runners in terms of places, although they did have a faster cumulative time. The next three consisting of Tom Paskins, Richard Wade and Jud Kirk came in 10th.
For the Dorset Road Race League, it is the first 5 who score for the men. That means BAC would have finished 2nd behind Poole AC. Poole AC had Jamie Grose 4th, David Broadley 8th, Brian Underwood 9th, John Bassinder 12th and Harry Lauste 20th. Scoring for Bournemouth, it was Jacek 1st, Joe 2nd, Graeme 18th, Tom 30th and Richard Wade 32nd.
2nd place is not a bad result really to kick the season off considering the illnesses and the injuries suffered by some key members and also the general lack of availability on New Years Day. Hopefully, if a full strength team can be assembled for the next fixture at Blackmore Vale on 4th February, BAC will be back on top.