BAC trio work their magic at Wokingham Half Marathon

Sanjai Sharma at Wokingham Half Marathon
Sanjai Sharma was one of the three Bournemouth AC members in action at the Wokingham Half Marathon, along with Graeme Miller and Simon Way

Following a relatively successful outing at the Bramley 20 on the previous weekend, Sanjai Sharma and Graeme Miller entered the next phase of their London Marathon training by participating in the Wokingham Half Marathon on Sunday 18th February. They were joined by Simon Way, who was racing it as part of a longer 20 mile training run as he also has his sights set on the London Marathon in April.

Selected to host the Berkshire County AA Half Marathon Championships for 2018, the Wokingham Half Marathon is the biggest sporting event the town has to offer, attracting a very high quality field, as well as a huge number of other runners of all ages and abilities. This year’s race featured a total of 1,867 who made it to the finish, giving an idea of the popularity of the race.

The course is renowned for being very fast and flat and for a runner at the peak of their powers, it is certainly PB material. In fact, it was in this very race that Graeme Miller secured his half marathon PB back in 2015, posting a phenomenal time of 1:15:38.

For this year’s race, Graeme was initially aiming for a sub 80 minute finish but after his recent afflictions at the Bramley 20 where his glute and hamstring tightened 8 miles in, he was unsure whether his legs would hold up. There was only one way to find out though and that was to give it a go.

Graeme Miller at Wokingham Half Marathon
Graeme Miller set his half marathon PB of 1:15:38 at Wokingham back in 2015 so he knew it was a course the suited him well

The plan was to run at between 6:00 and 6:05 minute miling. He was well on course for that up till the end of the 9th mile. In fact, at that stage he was a fair bit faster than his projected time. It was on the 10th mile when he could feel his legs begin to tighten a bit.

He went through the 10 mile point in 60:05 so was still on track to meet his target time. He really had to dig deep over the last 3 miles and lost a bit of time. Despite that though, he still managed to cross the line in 1:19:20, hence cracking the sub 80 minute target he was hoping for.

That put Graeme in 101st place overall, which underlines the high standard of some of the runners he was up against. He was 8th in the Vet Men 45-49 category, which is a pretty impressive result out of 207 people.

Graeme Miller at Wokingham Half Marathon
Graeme finished just outside the top 100 in a time of 1:19:20, putting him 8th in the Vet Men 45-49 category

Although he felt afterwards that he perhaps should have got in under 79 minutes, looking back at the run, Graeme was happy that he gave it his best shot.

Having competed in the Wokingham Half Marathon on no less than 5 previous occasions, Sanjai Sharma knows the course very well and understands what it takes to put in a good performance there.

Last time he did the race, back in 2016, Sanjai posted his best time so far finishing in 1:21:11. Therefore, that was the target to beat for this year’s edition.

Sanjai Sharma at Wokingham Half Marathon
It was Sanjai Sharma’s 6th time of entering the Wokingham Half Marathon so he knew exactly what he was in for in terms of the route

In truth though, Sanjai had no idea how he would do. He had in his mind to try and stay below 6:15 as an average pace. Although the last couple of miles proved a real challenge, with some tough inclines and a headwind to contend with, Sanjai managed to fulfil his objective, completing the course in a time of 1:21:08.

This eclipsed his previous best time for the course by 3 seconds and put him in 122nd position overall. In the Vet Men 50-59 category, Sanjai was 4th out of 255. His average pace for the distance came out as 6:13, so from all perspectives really, it was mission accomplished for Sanjai.

Sanjai Sharma at Wokingham Half Marathon
Sanjai completed the course in his quickest time yet, clocking a time of 1:21:08 and rendering him 4th in the Vet Men 50-59 category

As for Simon Way, he wasn’t planning to enter the race initially as he hadn’t really done any proper speed work lately. However, since his marathon schedule had him down for 20 miles, with 12 of them being at marathon pace, he thought he may as well do the half marathon as part of his session.

Before the race began, Simon had already done 5.5 miles. He was then hoping to slip into his target pace of 6:10 to 6:12 for the duration of the race. Whilst he did manage it for the first 6 miles, his pace then began to drop slightly.

Simon Way at Wokingham Half Marathon
Simon Way was doing the race as part of a 20 mile training run as he builds up towards his primary focus of the London Marathon

Finishing in a still very creditable time of 1:23:11, Simon took 159th place on the leader-board. That put him 9th in the Vet Men 50-59 category.

With an average pace of 6:22, it wasn’t quite what Simon was hoping for but was still not a bad training exercise, all things considered. He’s now turning his attention to the Bath Half Marathon, in a week on Sunday.

He’s been putting in some hard training this week and with a mini taper next week, he is hoping for a much improved performance at Bath. The Bath Half Marathon is in fact Simon’s PB course, after he clocked a time of 1:17:17 there in 2014.

Simon Way at Wokingham Half Marathon
Simon crossed the line in a time of 1:23:11, putting him in 159th place overall and 9th in the Vet Men 50-59 category

Another man in action at the Wokingham Half Marathon who the Bournemouth AC fraternity will be familiar with was Craig Palmer. Craig competed for BAC in the Hampshire Cross Country League fixtures this season and did extremely well, finishing the season in 4th place overall.

Representing his first claim club of Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers in the Wokingham Half Marathon, Craig ran superbly, finishing in 7th place overall, scoring himself a stunning new PB of 1:10:59.

The race was won by Scott Overall of Blackheath and Bromley AC, who left everyone else trailing in his wake, completing the course in an incredible 1:05:11. Rob Corney of Reading Roadrunners took 2nd place in a time of 1:09:20, with Jonathon Roberts of Southampton AC in 3rd with a time of 1:09:40.

The first lady over the line was Naomi Mitchell of Reading AC who finished in a very impressive 1:17:52. Claire Grima of Hercules Wimbledon was 2nd in 1:18:26, with Marta Bagnati of Serpentine in 3rd, finishing in a time of 1:19:35.







Stu Nicholas goes in for the kill at the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon

Stuart Nicholas at Phoenix Running Jaw Dropper Marathon
Stu Nicholas was hoping his speed would tear apart the field at the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon

Having already completed 39 marathons in his illustrious running career thus far, Stuart Nicholas was hungry for more, this time turning his attentions to the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon.

The Jaw Dropper is billed as an event with real ‘BITE’ and features a very exclusive medal the depicts the jaws of an open-mouthed shark, even containing a hinge to make the jaws open and shut.

Of course, to get the medal though, competitors have to complete the 8 off-road, out and back style laps along a towpath next to the River Thames. This was made harder by the fact that around half of the course on each lap had the participants ankle deep in mud.

Phoenix Running Jaw Dropper Marathon medal
The medal for the Jaw Dropper was really something to be hold, with it’s 3D translucent underwater effect and hinge for the mouth

After his last experience of wading through treacle like mud at the Dark Star River Marathon, he could easily have been put off attempting another waterside sludge-fest, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Stu couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into this next challenge.

Conditions were great on the day and soon after the race got underway, Stu went on the attack. Manoeuvring into an early lead, he began to open up a gap on his nearest rivals. As his opponents began to tire, Stu stayed strong and, once he could smell blood, that was it. Like a true predator, he went in for the kill.

Stuart Nicholas at Phoenix Running Jaw Dropper Marathon
It was another mud laden route for Stu to get to grips with as he worked his way through his 8 lap journey

All was going swimmingly for Stu up until around mile 20. At that point, he was on for gobsmacking time of around 2:53, but his legs then began to tire.

For some people, the element of doubt might have crept in at that point and they might have started wondering if they’d bitten off more than they can chew. Stu showed resilience though and managed to power on, maintaining his advantage of around 5 minutes over his nearest rival.

Stuart Nicholas at Phoenix Running Jaw Dropper Marathon
Stu was in cruise control up until around the 20 mile mark when he began to feel the burn

Although he wasn’t quite as sharp during the closing stages of the race, Stu still managed to reach the line in a sub 3 hour time, which was mightily impressive on such a choppy course.

His official finishing time was 2:58:12, which was an extremely ferocious effort. Martyn Millard took 2nd place in a time of 3:03:30, giving Stu a winning margin of 5 minutes and 18 seconds. Ben Steel was 3rd in a time of 3:18:18.

The first lady over the line was Dianne Abraham, who came in in 3:57:30, putting her 15th overall. A total of 70 people finished the race. Stu’s average pace for his run was an incredible 6 minutes 48 seconds per mile.

So with marathon number 40 safely in the bag and another winner’s trophy netted, Stu will no doubt be embarking upon his next marathon journey imminently as he continues in his quest to reach the magic 50 by the turn of the year.

Stuart Nicholas at Phoenix Running Jaw Dropper Marathon
Stu’s winning time was 2:58:12, putting him over 5 minutes ahead of his nearest rival








BAC at the Indoor Grand Prix Cardiff

Indoor Grand Prix Cardiff Met

The Cardiff Indoor Grand Prix was hosted at the Welsh National Indoor Athletics Centre on 4th February 2018.  It featured the Welsh Championships, South West of England & Welsh Masters Championship events.

BAC’s Janet Dickinson and James Lelliott showed great form with their inspirational performances. A promising start to the year both indoor and for the coming outdoor track and field season. James ran 6.94s in the 60m heat, placing 2nd in a competitive field. He went on to win the final in 6.83s, PB by .09s, even beating the U20 and U23 age groupers.

James Lelliott (in yellow) ready to explode from the block in the 60m sprint.

James also triumphed in the long jump with 7.28m, an SB of 1cm and a convincing lead margin of 86cm! He jumped strongly and consistently throughout the event.

James Lelliott, Long Jump

A great day for James especially as his main goal was to grab the opportunity to compete and get an idea of his current form after the last training cycle. His main focus is to target the outdoor season and we’re looking forward more great performances and likely some PBs.

Janet Dickinson performed well as she focused on shaking off the winter cobwebs in preparation for the British Masters next month. Janet competed in five events and started extremely well with a 60m PB, 8.82s and another PB in the Long Jump, 4.67m Indoor, a mere 19cm under the British record set in 2000! Janet’s High Jump was 1.35m and 200m, 29.46s on the inside lane which could be tough! Another PB in 400m, 67.96s Indoor. The Shot Put clashed with the High Jump (not literally!) so it was impossible to do both.
An excellent performance all round especially considering it’s Janet’s first time racing on an indoor track.

Janet clearing the High Jump bar!

Our outstanding athletes Janet and James will hopefully provide some inspiration for BAC’s current and future track and field athletes.
Janet and James intend to compete at the Indoor British Champs on 10-11 March at Lee Valley. We hope to see some other BAC athletes competing and will be looking forward to the results. If you are interesting in competing at any British Masters event, go to

Link to Full Results

By J.Wright

Graeme and Sanjai use Bramley 20 as a core part of their marathon training

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme Miller (pictured above) and Sanjai Sharma were looking to use the Bramley 20 as a progressive training run to give them an indicator of where their at with their London Marathon preparation

The Bramley 20 mile race was one that Graeme Miller and Sanjai Sharma had targeted as a key part of their London Marathon training. Running a 20 miler at this stage would give them a good indicator of where their fitness is at and how much work they have to do in the coming two months or so.

In fact, it was more like a training exercise than a race for Graeme and Sanjai and they had detailed plans to follow that would dictate what pace they run at different stages in the race.

The race plan for Graeme was a progressive run breaking it into three sections. The first 5 miles he would run at 6:45 m/m pace, the second 5 miles he would run at 6:30 pace and the last 10 miles he would go at 6:20 pace.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme was looking to run the first 5 miles at 6:45 pace, the second 5 at 6:30 and the last 10 at 6:20

Sanjai was looking to employ a similar strategy, starting off at 6:55m/m pace and going progressively quicker every 5 miles to end up at around 6:30 pace.

These kinds of plans would be pretty tough for the average runner but for Graeme and Sanjai in the midst of their focused marathon training, they are very much achievable.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
Sanjai was aiming to start off at 6:55 pace and crank it up every 5 miles to finish at around 6:30

The first 5 miles were relatively flat so they found the pace pretty comfortable to begin with. At around 5 and a half miles they turned into a pretty strong headwind which would persist for the next 4 miles. On top of that, there a couple of hilly sections at mile 6 and mile 8.

In spite of that though, Graeme still managed to hit his splits. However, he’s been having some problems with his right leg recently and at around the 8 mile point, his glute and hamstring tightened up. That made the second lap of the two lap course a whole lot tougher.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
A tightening of the glute and the hamstring in his right leg made the second half of the race a real battle for Graeme

As a result, he wasn’t able to hit his intended 6:20 slits for the last 10 miles. Despite the obvious impact of the injury, Graeme wasn’t too far off his target. He probably averaged around 6:25 for miles 10 to 15 and around 6:30 for miles 16 to 20.

That left him a couple of minutes off his pre-planned finishing time but he still crossed the line in a very impressive 2:10:57, placing him 33rd out of 684 finishers. Graeme knew he wouldn’t be getting a PB for the distance but it would be a good indicator of where he’s at right now.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme ended the day in 33rd place, clocking a magnificent time of 2:10:57

On the contrary, Sanjai managed to execute his race plan perfectly and, aside from having a make a quick pit stop at one point, all went very smoothly. He successfully managed to up the tempo every 5 miles, ultimately finishing in 46th place with a highly commendable time of 2:12:45. Sanjai was 4th in the M50 category, with an average pace of 6:38m/m for the run.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
Sanjai steams along on the first lap of his epic 20 mile crusade

The race was won by Alex Wall-Clarke of Southampton AC in a time of 1:54:23, with James O’Shea of Serpentine taking 2nd in 1:54:40 and Robert Mann of Exeter Harriers in 3rd with a time of 1:55:09.

The first lady over the line was Rosie Keane of Luton AC who came a very impressive 10th overall, completing the course in 2:01:59. Her Luton teammate Charlene Jacobs-Conradie was 2nd lady, coming in 20th overall in a time of 2:07:33.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
All went swimmingly for Sanjai as he crossed the line in 46th place with a time of 2:12:45 giving him an average pace of 6:38





BAC crew let loose on the lumps and bumps of the Lytchett 10

Jud, Tamzin, Kirsty & Sam at Lychett 10
Jud Kirk, Tamzin Petersen, Kirsty Drewett and Sam Laws were all action at the Lytchett 10 mile race on Sunday 11th February

The Imperial Series of 2018 kicked off on Sunday 11th February with the Lytchett 10 mile race, where 6 Bournemouth AC members were looking to pit their wits against 442 others on the testing, hilly road route.

The race also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles so prizes were up for grabs in that as well for any runners representing Dorset clubs.

The conditions for the race were ideal and certainly bettered the miserable weather at the Hampshire Cross Country League fixture in Aldershot the day before. The sun even made a rare appearance, which seemed to get the positive juices flowing amongst the runners, the supporters and the many marshals out on route.

In fact, the marshals were given high praise for their enthusiasm and for the encouragement they gave all the runners as they made their way around the course. One of those marshals was Bournemouth AC’s very own Ian White, who always seems to do his bit to help local races. In fact, Ian is organising the second race in the Imperial Series, the Bournemouth 10, which takes place on 25th February.

As the race got underway, Craig Palmer of Littledown Harriers took an early lead with Josh Cole of Bournemouth AC in 2nd. Craig has been representing BAC in the Hampshire League Cross Country races and he had been in action the day before at Aldershot, finishing in a very creditable 8th place.

It had been a while since Josh Cole had been seen in a local race so it was good to see him back at the forefront of proceedings. After about 3 miles though, Steve Osborne, of Yeovil based club Running for Time, overtook Josh and Craig and he would assume control of the race from that point onwards.

Josh Cole at Lytchett 10
Making his return to action, Josh Cole was contending at front of the field in the Lytchett 10

Spending the rest of the race out on his own, Josh found it very hard work, with much of the first 7 miles of the race being on an upward incline. He managed to maintain the pace very well though, in spite of the tough hills, and crossed the line in 3rd place, in a magnificent time of 56:38. The winning time for Steve Osborne was 54:22, with Craig following in shortly after to claim 2nd in a time of 54:45.

Craig Palmer took 2nd place but won the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles

As the event also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for the 10 mile distance, BAC President Ian Graham was on hand to work out who had prevailed in that competition. Because the race winner, Steve Osborne, was from a Somerset based club, that meant Craig took home the gold medal for the Dorset County Championships and Josh claimed silver.

As he will also be in action at the Bournemouth 10 on 25th February, Josh could well be targeting a win in the Imperial Series if he runs as well as he did at Lytchett.

Josh Cole at Lytchett 10
Josh took 3rd place in a stunning time of 56:38 and also won a silver medal in the Dorset County Championships

It was a double header for Lazslo Toth as well as he also took part in the Cross Country League fixture on the previous day. He also competed in thee Blackmore Vale Half Marathon the weekend before and, as if that wasn’t enough, he also cycled 16 miles to get to Lytchett and then another 16 to get home afterwards.

All those exertions didn’t stop Lazslo putting in sublime performance in the race and securing a top 10 finish with his time of 1:02:33. Lazslo’s strategy of not running too hard in the cross country and the day before and just “enjoying it” – if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms – seemed to pay off as he had the strength and the energy to push hard in the latter stages of the race.

Lazslo Toth at Lytchett 10
Another race for Lazslo Toth but he was not phased by the heavy workload and managed a top 10 finish

On a few of those miles Lazslo was accompanied by Steve Way, who was actually in the area and out for a 30 mile run which he had planned to coincide with the Lytchett 10 race. A 7 mile hilly loop that Steve often uses in his training runs just happens to be the main part of the Lytchett 10 route.

Another Bournemouth AC member who had a good day at the Lytchett 10 was Jud Kirk, who scooped 1st prize in the M55 category with his time of 1:11:07. That was good enough for 43rd place overall.

Having given his all in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon the previous weekend, Jud wasn’t expecting too much for the Lytchett 10 so he was pleasantly surprised to pick up his £10 running voucher.

There was a bit of a commotion at the start when Jud was still trying to get his Garmin to work when the race began. Once he got going though, he made some good headway and the hilly profile of the course certainly suited him and worked in his favour.

Jud Kirk at Lytchett 10
Jud scooped the 1st M55 prize with his time of 1:11:07

The next BAC member over the line was Kirsty Drewett. Kirsty has been running really well of late and you could even say she’s becoming a bit of a dark horse. Finishing in a time of 1:17:24, Kirsty toppled her previous best time which she did at the Wimborne 10 last year by over a minute.

The atmosphere created by the enthusiasm of all the marshals and the stunning scenery of the course contributed to make it a really enjoyable race for Kirsty and she felt the strong the whole way round. Taking 3rd place and the F35 category and 7th overall female, it was a pretty successful day for Kirsty and she finished 87th overall.

Looking to complete all three of the Imperial Series 10 mile races this year, Kirsty will be hoping she can place quite high up in the overall standings, which is decided on cumulative time over the three races. Last year that competition was won by her BAC teammate Yvonne Tibble.

Kirsty Drewett at Lytchett 10
Kirsty looks cool as she blasts her way round the hilly contours

After smashing her half marathon PB at Blackmore Vale the previous weekend, Tamzin Petersen was understandably feeling a little fatigued and wasn’t able to muster up the strength to put in another spectacular display at Lytchett.

Instead, she suffered throughout the first 7 miles, where the course seemed to be an uphill battle all the way. That said, she still managed to improve on her previous best by 2 and a half minutes, completing the race in 1:20:02. This put her 4th in the Senior Female category and 12th lady over the line. In terms of the overall race, Tamzin finished in 111th position.

Tamzin Petersen at Lytchett 10
Tamzin has counted two very hilly races that she’s conquered over the past two weeks

The BAC involvement in the race was rounded off by Sam Laws, who was  running the Lytchett 10 for the 3rd time. Sam was running with her friend Julia Marsh of Christchurch Runners and, since they are both training for the ABP Southampton Marathon in April, they did a 4 mile warm up run before tackling the lumps and bumps of Lytchett.

Sam Laws & Julia March at Lychett 10
Sam was running with her friend Julia Marsh, with the pair already having 4 miles on the clock before the race had even started

In spite of the 4 miles they’d done beforehand, Sam and Julia were able to maintain a good pace throughout the run and they finished together, with Sam in 289th place clocking a time of 1:35:01 and Julia coming in a second later.

Sam and Julia make hay as they work their way toward completing a very good marathon training exercise

They finished 21st and 22nd in the F45 category and were 103rd and 104th women to cross the line. It was actually only 5 minutes slower than Sam’s PB time she did last year which, considering the mileage beforehand, was a pretty good result.

Sam Laws & Julia March at Lychett 10
Sam and Julia take some time out to bask in the sunshine after the race on what turned out to be very nice day, especially in comparison to the miserable day before

One of the highlights of the race was undoubtedly the cake that was on offer at the end of the race. Several of the BAC members couldn’t resist tucking into a few of the tasty treats. To be fair though, they had certainly earned it after enduring so many challenging climbs throughout the race.

Tamzin, Kirsty & Sam at Lychett 10
Tamzin, Kirsty and Sam are all smiles after completing one of the more testing 10 mile races you’re ever likely to encounter. Or perhaps they’ve just spotted the cake spread!








Successful BAC finish to Hampshire XC season

Dave Long led BAC’s senior men to a successful Hants XC League 3rd final position in Division 1

As BAC embarked on the final fixture of the 2017/18 Hampshire Cross Country League season on a new, very muddy course at Aldershot on Saturday 10 February there were high hopes for a successful end to what has been one of the best campaigns in this League for some time.

And the Senior Men certainly delivered!  Dave Long led a spectacular team performance, finishing 3rd in a high quality field, and with Jacek Cieluszecki 6th, Craig Palmer 8th, Rob McTaggart 16th and Steve Way 18th, the team’s score for the day was a mere 51, placing the team second in Division 1 (behind Aldershot, Farnham and District, whom no-one was going to catch), well ahead of third placed Reading AC.  With, during the season, two 5th place finishes and three 2nd place, the final position in the Division 1 table (of one of the strongest cross country leagues in the country) of BAC‘s senior men was 3rd – a very impressive achievement.

Of course, it isn’t all about the winners, and it was pleasing to see a further five BAC vests competing round the course.  Stuart Nicholas was the 6th BAC athlete to cross the line, and such was the quality of his run which resulted in a finish in 34th position that, had Stuart been the 5th scorer, the Senior Mens’ team would still have been 2nd!

BAC‘s Veteran Men have also been doing well this season, with some excellent results in the earlier fixtures.  Unfortunately, at Aldershot, there was no complete veteran team, with just Steve (who was the 1st Veteran Man) and Richard Wade completing the course.  Richard Nelson, despite injury, and setting a Captain’s example as always, started the race, but it quickly became clear that serious injury could result and he made the sensible – and only – decision to drop out.  In the event, it is clear that Richard‘s injury has been aggravated, and we wish him a speedy recovery.  Nevertheless,  because of the strong performances at the earlier fixtures, BAC‘s Veteran Mens’ team finished the season in 5th position, of 17 teams, which is a very creditable result.  Next season, of course, Jacek, who became a veteran during this season, will count towards the veteran as well as the senior results.

BAC‘s ladies fielded a full Senior and Veteran team at Aldershot, welcoming Jo Dilling wearing a BAC vest for the first time.  Nikki Sandell led BAC‘s ladies to the finish, and with Jo and Louise Price the team finished as 12th Senior Ladies’ team on the day, of 19 complete teams, and, aggregate for the season, were 6th of 17 teams.  The same team also doubled as the Veteran Ladies’ team and, in this capacity, were 6th of 13 teams on the day, and, on aggregate for the season, were a highly respectable 3rd of 9 teams.

Yet again, there was a scarcity of BAC youngsters competing – in fact, at Aldershot there was just one, namely Anya Sandell in the U15 girls race.  Anya has been ever present during the season, and it is be hoped that in the future Anya will have some BAC company – it would be very pleasant to report on some BAC youngsters’ team performances in this League.

With the end of the season come some BAC individual top 10 placings.  Of the Senior Men Dave Long is 3rd and Craig Palmer 4th.  Of the Veteran Men Steve Way is 4th and Pat Robbins 9th, and of the Veteran Women Nikki Sandell is 3rd.

So it has, in general, been a successful season for BAC and thanks and congratulations to all who have taken part and contributed, and particular congratulations to our top 10 finishers.

Results (BAC): Senior/Veteran Men: 3. Dave Long 34.08; 6. Jacek Cieluszecki 34.50; 8. Craig Palmer 35.00; 16. Rob McTaggart 36.01; 18. Steve Way 36.11; 34. Stuart Nicholas 37.20; 67. Ross Smith 39.55; 90. Richard Brawn 41.41; 104. Richard Wade 42.29; 106. Laszlo Toth 42.43: Senior/Veteran Women: 26. Nikki Sandell 27.50; 50. Jo Dilling 30.11; 83. Louise Price 33.13: U15G: 32. Anya Sandell 21.01.

Dave Long led BAC’s senior men to a successful Hants XC League 3rd final position in Division 1

BAC boys blaze the trail at Blackmore Vale

Toby Chapman & Steve Way - 1st & 2nd - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby Chapman and Steve Way lead the charge in a very competitive Bournemouth AC line-up at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Bournemouth AC brought the big guns out for the 2nd Dorset Road Race League fixture of the season, the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon, which takes place on the undulating country roads of Bishop’s Caundle.

It is a race that has proved popular with some of the top BAC members over the years and this year was no exception, with a very strong side assembled to tackle the splendidly scenic and inherently challenging course.

BAC has something of an illustrious history at Blackmore Vale with Steve Way having won the race on 7 previous occasions, including last year, where he fended off competition from Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers.

The year before that Steve had to pull out after a few miles with a stomach upset but his BAC teammate Toby Chapman swooped in to seal the victory, with Jon Sharkey, also of BAC in a close 2nd.

This year’s edition looked promising for BAC, with Steve, Toby, Ant Clark and Jez Bragg all lined up on the front row ready to lead the charge.

As the race got underway, Steve hit the front for around the first 800m before Toby assumed pole position. Toby was feeling in tip-top condition and was soon exhibiting a pace that not many of his contemporaries could live with. In fact, as it turned out, the only one strong enough to stay with Toby was Steve himself.

After suffering from a cold at the beginning of the year, Steve has struggled to find his best form of late, putting in some indifferent performances in cross country races by his own very high standards.

This time though, Steve was determined to lay those demons to rest and bestow a refined performance. A more ‘Steve Way’ like display, if you will.

Doing his best to hang onto Toby’s coattails, Steve managed to maintain a very small gap between himself and Toby. After the first few miles, there was a point where Steve considered letting Toby go, but he was conscious that if he did allow Toby to get away, he could easily lose motivation and start to fall back down the field.

Having one of his best races for a long time, Toby was absolutely flying and Steve did really well to keep that short gap between the two of them for the remainder of the race.

As the pair reached the finish line, there was only a second between them, with Toby taking the win in a terrific time of 1 hour 14 minutes and 21 seconds. Steve was 2nd in 1:14:22.

Toby Chapman & Steve Way - 1st and 2nd - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby approaches the finish line to claim a superb victory with Steve following closely behind in 2nd

Sean Edwards of Lychett Manor Striders took 3rd place in a time of 1:16:07, followed shortly after by Ryan Snell of Exmouth Harriers in 1:16:15. Chris Wood of Wimborne AC was 5th in 1:17:45.

Next came the Bournemouth AC duo of Ant and Jez, who were actually doing the race as part of a much longer run that would see the pair of them run back home from Bishop’s Caundle after completing the half marathon in a round trip that would take them up to 35 miles each.

Despite knowing they had a much longer run ahead of them once they had completed the race, Ant and Jez still performed extremely well, with Ant taking 6th place in a time of 1:17:59 and Jez securing 7th in 1:18:36.

When they eventually got home, Ant and Jez were more than ready for their Sunday dinners after what would have to go down as a fantastic day’s training.

Toby Chapman - 1st male - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby Chapman picks up his trophy for 1st male and overall race winner

Both Ant and Jez will be competing in the UK 100k Championships at the Anglo Celtic Plate on 31st March. Jez has won UK 100k Championships on a couple of occasions before, in 2007 and 2009.

For Ant, it will be his 3rd consecutive year at the Anglo Celtic Plate, finishing in 2nd place last year. No doubt they’ll both be doing a few more of these extended training runs in the weeks to come no doubt.

Of course, in the Dorset Road Race League it is the top 5 that score points for the men’s team and the next BAC man over line to complete the scoring team was Pat Robbins, who had an incredible run, finishing in 13th place out of a field of 395.

Pleasantly surprised with his time of 1:22:11, it was a promising sign for Pat, who has been selected to represent Great Britain in the 24 Hour European Championships at Timisoara in Romania on 26th-27th May.

Steve Way - 2nd male - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Steve Way collected the prize for 2nd overall male, finishing just a second behind Toby

This could even be a breakthrough performance for Pat at a time when he hasn’t quite been running at his absolute peak, perhaps due in part to an ongoing plantar fasciitis issue. He has still had a pretty solid season in the Hampshire League Cross Country, regularly scoring points for BAC and contributing to a fantastic campaign for the club thus far.

The ladies race was won by Vicki Ingham of Poole Runners, who finished in 57th place overall in a time 1:29:53. Clare Martin of Purbeck Runners was hot on her heels finishing immediately behind Vicki in 58th with a time of 1:30:15.

It was the performance of Bournemouth AC’s Gemma Bragg though that really caught the eye. It was Gemma’s first race since the birth of her baby son back in October and she did not disappoint.

Finishing in a superb time of 1:35:57, Gemma was 3rd female over the line, marking a tremendously successful comeback. It was clear that her BAC teammates were pleased to see her back, particularly the ladies, who will be hoping she’ll be able to make it to some of the other DRRL fixtures.

Gemma Bragg - 3rd female - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Gemma Bragg marked a magnificent comeback by picking up the prize for 3rd female

Another BAC lady who had a race to remember was Tamzin Petersen. Despite the hilly profile of the course and the challenging crosswinds over some of the more open stretches of the route, Tamzin somehow managed to bag herself a new half marathon PB, finishing in a phenomenal time of 1:46:28.

Recently Tamzin has tried to incorporate more hills into her long training runs in preparation for Blackmore Vale and it certainly seemed to pay dividends. Her time was 26 seconds quicker than her previous best of 1:46:54 which was set at the Indian Queens Half Marathon in Cornwall. Tamzin was 25th female over the line and came 178th overall.

The ladies team had been dealt a blow in the lead up to the race when Yvonne Tibble pulled out through injury. Yvonne normally does very well in the league races and was a consistent points scorer last season, ending the year as 3rd placed lady in the individual standings.

This meant the other ladies who were racing at Blackmore Vale would have to step up to the plate in her absence. The other two BAC representatives, Louise Price and Estelle Slatford ran a lot of the race together.

Incidentally, Blackmore Vale is actually one of Louise’s favourite races and she did actually set her PB of 1:42:59 on that course. Whilst she is still some way off that kind of form, Louise is getting her fitness back after spending almost the full year on the side-lines in 2017.

This time out, Louise completed the race in a time of 1:50:43, which made her 40th female on the day and put her in 219th place overall. Estelle wasn’t far behind, finishing as the 44th woman and 222nd overall in a time of 1:50:58.

In spite of the big hill on the 5th mile that put her off a bit, Estelle thoroughly enjoyed the course. It wasn’t a PB for her but it was quicker than she ran in her last half marathon which was at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival.

This year Estelle is running the London Marathon, having been the lucky recipient of a place through the club ballot. She has just recently started on her 16 week training programme to prepare for the big day.

There were several other notable performances from BAC men at Blackmore Vale. Tom Paskins showed he’s finding some form again, finishing in 19th place in a very good time of exactly 1 hour and 25 minutes.

It was 1 and a half minutes off the time he did at Blackmore Vale last year, but Tom was coming off the back of a very heavy week’s training, having also recently started his London Marathon programme.

One very consistent performer in the ranks at BAC is Laszlo Toth. Laszlo took it quite steady at the start of the race but soon got into his stride, overtaking his BAC teammate Richard Brawn after the first few miles.

From that point on, Lazslo ran a very strong race, managing to maintain the pace well despite the constant undulation. He reached the finish line in 23rd place, clocking a very impressive time of 1:25:37.

The next BAC member over the line was Richard who took 46th place with a solid time of 1:28:42. Rich hadn’t put himself to the test on many hilly half marathons previously so he wasn’t really sure how it was going to go. He felt fairly strong throughout the race and was ultimately pleased with the outcome.

Richard Brawn had a decent run, finishing in 46th place with a time of 1;28:42

With a strategy of trying to keep to under 7 minute miling, Jud Kirk was on course to achieve that as he reached the half way point. Unfortunately he had very little left in the legs for the second half of the race and slipped off the pace a bit.

At the end of the race he was completely shot, having given everything up those last few energy sapping hills. Jud finished up in 73rd place with a time of 1:34:09.

During the latter stages of the race, Jud was thinking about his category in the Dorset Road Race League and was pleased to finish ahead of one of his rivals, John Cook, of Egdon Heath Harriers. Last season Jud finished 2nd in the 55-59 category in the DRRL but this year he will be moving up to the 60-64 category.

Jud was the 5th man over the age of 55 to complete the race and after crossing the line, he was so exhausted that he could barely make it to his car.

This coming weekend, Jud will be in action again at the Lychett 10. Following his half marathon exploits, he said he is very glad that Lychett is only a 10 miler.

The final BAC male to arrive at the finish line was Mark Westcott, who came in 214th place in a time of 1:50:30. This was only Mark’s second ever competitive half marathon and the first was back in 1984!

Over the last few years, Mark’s main focus has been cycling, but recently he’s really starting to enjoy his running and is happy with the way it’s going. His time at Blackmore Vale was 2 minutes quicker than the 13 mile training run he’d done with BAC the weekend before.

Mark and his partner Helen Ambrosen, who also runs for BAC, have already signed up for the Oakhaven Half Marathon, which takes place at the New Forest in March. Mark will be looking to see if he can improve on his half marathon time further in that race.  As well as enjoying the race, Mark enjoyed the camaraderie and being part of a team.

In terms of the prizes, Bournemouth AC scooped a decent haul, with Toby taking the prize for overall male winner and Steve claiming the overall male runner up. Gemma took the prize for 3rd female.

Toby Chapman - 1st male under 40 - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby is given his certificate for 1st male under 40

Toby took the award for 1st male under 40, whilst Steve picked up the 1st male over 40 certificate. Ant was 2nd male over 40 and Toby, Steve and Ant won the prize for 1st male team.

Steve Way - 1st male over 40 - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Steve took the certificate for 1st male over 40

In the Dorset Road Race League, the top 5 of Toby, Steve, Ant, Jez and Pat easily won the men’s team competition, marking an excellent day all round for BAC. In fact, you could even say, it was just like the good old days.

Toby, Steve & Ant - 1st male team - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
As the winning men’s team retrieved their beers, Ant Clark had already set off on his mammoth run home, meaning a lookalike had to be drafted in. Unfortunately this small boy was the only one available at such short notice!










Mark Hillier puts in almighty effort to complete Pilgrim Challenge

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge
Mark Hillier is currently in training for the Marathon des Sables and was taking on the 66 mile Pilgrim Challenge race as preparation for his attempt at the toughest footrace on the planet

With the Marathon des Sables now only 9 weeks away, it was time for Mark Hillier to put himself to the test by taking on the 2 day, 66 mile ultra marathon called the Pilgrim Challenge. And to simulate how it might be when he battles the toughest race on earth, Mark was intending to carry 6kg on his back for both days. At the Marathon des Sables, each runner is responsible for carrying their own food and camping equipment round for the duration of their 6 day journey across over 250km of desert.

Staged across the impressive North Downs Way, the participants must follow in the footsteps of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury as they pass through the ancient countryside, picturesque villages and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

One key difference between the Pilgrim Challenge and the Marathon des Sables, aside from the distance and terrain of course, is that at the Pilgrim Challenge, everything is taken care of. You get overnight accommodation, breakfast and evening meals, plus food and drink at the checkpoints. At the Marathon des Sables of course, you have to bring all this stuff with you.

The race starts at Sandy Farm Business Park in Farnham, with the route for the first day finishing up at Warwick School in Redhill. The second day then takes the participants back to Sandy Farm. The course includes 2,374 metres of ascent.

Something else he probably won’t encounter at the Marathon des Sables is persistent rain. At the Pilgrim Challenge, he had to contend with a whole day of rain on the Saturday, which turned it into a 33 mile slog across churned up mud. It was slippery under foot but Mark battled the elements well, completing the course for Day 1 in a time of 5 hours, 46 minutes and 21 seconds. That put him in 39th place overall, which he was pretty happy with.

Sunday saw a significant improvement in the weather, which all of those taking on both days of the Pilgrim Challenge, including Mark, would have been very grateful for. Unfortunately the mud was still there though and Mark actually managed to fall over 4 times, leaving him a little battered and bruised in the aftermath.

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge - Muddy ground
This picture gives a good impression of how thick and sludgy the mud was on Day 2 of the Pilgrim Challenge

He also managed to take an unplanned detour, adding an extra 4 miles onto the route. As if it wasn’t already far enough! After completing the 33 miles, plus the additional 4, Mark hauled himself over the finish line to register a time of 7 hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds.

Combining the 2 days of hard graft, Mark’s total overall time was 13 hours, 29 minutes and 38 seconds, putting him in 74th place. This was out of 181 who actually completed the full 2 days. A further 32 of the competitors were unable to complete the challenge, pulling out either on the 1st or 2nd day.

Mark was 31st in the Men 40+ category. The race was won by James Bellward, who completed Day 1 in 4:25:31 and Day 2 in 4:43:47, giving him a combined overall time of 9:09:18.

Gregory Allen finished 2nd, completing Day 1 in 4:25:35 and Day 2 in 4:51:53 giving his a total combined time of 9:17:28. Justin Montague took 3rd, finishing Day 1 in 4:40:17 and Day 2 in 4:48:24, giving him an overall time of 9:28:41.

The 1st lady to finish was Sarah Hill who came in 6th overall, getting through Day 1 in 4:43:13 and Day 2 in 5:00:54, giving her a very impressive total combined time of 9:44:00.

As opposed to being driven by time though, Mark’s main focuses for the race were just completing it carrying the weight on his back and also getting through it injury free. He succeeded on both counts so that has to go down as an extremely valuable training exercise.

Over the next couple of weeks Mark is going to focus on recovery, with a few light runs. He will follow this up with a final block of 4 weeks hard training before undertaking 3 weeks of tapering with some hot yoga thrown into the mix to help him get used to desert temperatures.

The next race he has lined up is the Oakhaven Half Marathon in the New Forest, which is on 4th March. He plans to complete that race fully loaded with weight.

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge
Mark completed Day 1 in 5:46:21 and Day 2 in 7:43:17 to give him a total overall time of 13:29:38. This put him in 74th place out of 181 finishers




Trevor Elkins back on track in Avon Valley Railway 4k

Trevor Elkins - Avon Valley Railway 4k
Trevor Elkins was back in Bristol for the Avon Valley Railway 4k, a race he had won the previous year, setting a new course record in the process

Following something of an indifferent display at the Romsey 5 Mile Run last weekend, where he felt he didn’t perform to the best of his abillity, Trevor Elkins was back in action over at Bristol for the Avon Valley Railway 4k.

It was a race that Trevor had been victorious in last year, setting the course record at the time of 15:09. He was expecting to comfortably beat that this time round.

The race was part of an Aspire Running Event which also featured a 10k race and also a Canicross 4k and 10k which is for runners with dogs. Trevor competed in the 10k race at the previous Avon Valley Railway event in November last year, where he was narrowly beaten into 2nd place by Brad Cox of Bitton Road Runners.

This time, both Brad and Trevor had opted for the 4k race, so it was effectively a rematch between the two of them, although this time over a shorter distance.

The 4k race was a very straight forward out and back route along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. It was all on tarmac, so although it had rained off an on during the morning making it wet and slippery in places, it was actually a very fast course.

Trevor took it very easy towards the beginning of the race, finding himself in around 7th or 8th position for the first quarter of a mile. Brad had already shot off at this point in time built up a bit of a gap at the front.

Brad was in good form, having scored a victory over another Bournemouth AC member, Richard Brawn, the previous weekend in  the Warmley Forest Park 5k, another Aspire Running Event.

Trevor Elkins & Brad Cox - Avon Valley Railway 4k
It was another dual between Trevor and Brad Cox, who had edged Trevor out of the win in the Avon Valley Railway 10k the previous time they met

Staying true to his strategy, Trevor kept his cool, clocking a 6:15 for the first mile. By the time he’d reached the half way point, Trevor had closed the gap between himself and Brad to 49 seconds.

Putting in a 5:38 for the second mile, Trevor was now in hot pursuit and was going well. He pushed hard over the second half of the race but was unable to catch Brad, who was as relentless as ever.

Crossing the line in a super-quick time of 14:22.7, Brad picked up another 1st place trophy, with Trevor following in behind 27 seconds later to take 2nd place in a time of 14:50.0.

It was another occasion where Brad had just edged out a BAC rival to scoop the top prize. You have to hand it to him. He’s a top competitor. That doesn’t detract from the excellent display that Trevor put in though and he can still be well pleased with his runner up spot on this occasion.

Trevor will be back in Bristol in a months time for the Railway River Run, another Aspire Running Event where he will be competing in the 11k race. He is also competing in an Omnium event in Bath in July.

The Omnium event will be four events in four hours, consisting of a 100m sprint, an obstacle run, an 800m and a either a 5k (bronze), 10k (silver) or half marathon (gold) category. Trevor is going for the bronze category.

Although he’s been doing mostly long distance races in recent times, Trevor is also a pretty useful 100m runner, so the Omnium event should suit him down to the ground.

Perhaps one of these forthcoming events will provide Trevor with the opportunity to go one better and take home the gold winner’s trophy instead of the silver.

Trevor Elkins - Avon Valley Railway 4k
Trevor ran really well, completing the course in a superb time of 14.50, but had to settle for 2nd place due to another relentless display from Brad




Half Marathon success in Marrakech for Simon Hearn

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
Simon Hearn enjoyed a short break in the Moroccan sunshine before lining up for the Marrakech Half Marathon on Sunday, 28th January

With the cold, drab weather that tends to befall this country every January, it’s often tempting to look for an escape. Even just a few days of warmth and brighter surroundings would help lighten the mood somewhat.

For most of us though, work commitments rule out the possibility of that, forcing us to put our heads down and get on with it. That was not the case this month for Simon Herne though. He had set his sights on the Marrakech Half Marathon on 28th January and had a nice little break in Morocco to look forward to.

Flying out on the Thursday beforehand, Simon would have a few days out there with his wife Joanne to explore the area, sample the local cuisine and above all, relax before his big race on Sunday.

The Marrakech Half Marathon is renowned for being one the flattest and fastest in the world. The exotic location, with it’s palm tree laden roads and mild January temperature make it an attractive prospect for local and international runners of all abilities.

It was certainly enough to get the juices flowing for Simon. He wasn’t there purely to enjoy the sunshine and the lamb tagine. He had brought his game face and was there to race!

Having booked the break last summer, the Marrakech Half Marathon was a race that Simon had been looking forward to for quite some time and his training since the end of November had all been geared toward it.

Over the summer months, Simon had seen his level of performance drop slightly in comparison to what he’s used to and he’d been suffering a bit through lack of motivation. He’d also been devoting a lot of his time and attention into coaching Bournemouth AC‘s kids, running the Thursday night training sessions at Kings Park and also helping to guide and aid their improvements in parkruns.

On top of that, he’d been focusing on his coaching course in a bid to achieve his running fitness qualification. The level of study and hard work he had to put in for that had meant his free time had become somewhat restricted.

Once the Marrakech Half Marathon began to loom on the horizon and it was time for him to start his 10 week training programme, Simon knuckled down and managed to shift the focus back onto his running.

With his motivation back and his mojo rediscovered, Simon’s performances began to pick up again. He was back to running 6 days a week putting in some very hard sessions in a bid to get in the best shape possible for Marrakech.

When the time came for him to fly out, Simon was in a relaxed mood, but at the same time, very excited. His primary target was to finish in under 1 hour 30 minutes. This is usually the aim for Simon when going into a targeted half marathon race and, more often than not, he manages to achieve it.

His last attempt was back in May at Milton Keynes, where he got very close to that marker but just missed out by 30 seconds. That blot on his copybook had given him a steely determination to redress that balance in Marrakech.

When he arrived on the morning of the race, Simon was surprised to see there were no starter pens according to what time each participant was expecting to finish. That made for a bit of a free-for-all at the start, with runners of all different paces jockeying for position.

This resulted in Simon being held up on numerous occasions and he was initially unable to get up to the pace he was intending to run at. Once the first mile was done, it spaced out and he managed to settle into a rhythm and get back on track.

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
After a chaotic start to race, Simon got into his stride and made his way down palm tree encrusted roads of Marrakech

From that point on, Simon felt really strong. The conditions were excellent for running. It was a bit warmer than the January weather in England, as you would expect from Morocco, but it wasn’t too hot.

There were regular water stations with bottled water so staying hydrated was not a problem. The only issue was that instead of tossing their bottles to the side of the road like everyone does in England, people were just dropping the bottles in the middle of the road. This meant that whenever he was near a water station, Simon had to watch where he was stepping to avoid all the bottles that were on the floor.

Nevertheless, the hard training he’d put in really seemed to pay off and Simon was able to maintain his pace all the way to the end. He’d managed the race very well and was overjoyed when he reached the line, clocking a tremendous time of 1:29:36.

This put Simon in 385th place out of a field of over 4,000. He was also the 5th British finisher in the race. It was a fantastic result for Simon and he was delighted with the outcome. In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and said he would definitely recommend it.

Following on from his success in Marrakech, Simon is definitely keen on exploring the possibility of entering other races abroad in the future. It’s now just a question of where next.

On another note, there was some additional good news for Simon as he found out that he’d passed his “Coach in running fitness” qualification. This was again a testament to the hard work and endeavour he puts in when he sets his sights on something. It was also another very good reason to celebrate.

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
Simon’s race went according to plan and he was extremely pleased with the end result, completing the course in a stellar time of 1:29:36