Another step forward for Stu Nicholas in Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon

Stuart Nicholas goes in Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon
The Queen Elizabeth Country Park was the venue for marathon number 42 for Stu Nicholas as he moves ever closer to magic 50

Apparently, it’s Spring now, although you wouldn’t know it from all the snow and freezing temperatures we’ve been having lately. According to Second Wind Running it is though as they staged their Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon on Sunday, 25th March.

This was another stepping stone for Stu Nicholas in his quest to reach a landmark of 50 marathons by the end of 2018. This quest has seen him tackle some pretty tough races of late including the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon on a very muddy towpath alongside the River Thames and the Dark Star River Marathon which followed a trail up one side and down the other side of the River Adur, once again, an extremely muddy affair.

As anyone who’s had the pleasure, or perhaps a more apt way of describing it would be the pain, of running around the Queen Elizabeth Country Park area will know, it can be a very tough place to run. There are generally lots of ups and downs to contend with and often very muddy and slippery surfaces to negotiate.

Members of the Bournemouth AC cross country league squad will remember the location well as it played host to one of the most gruelling races of all time, featuring a mammoth trek up and down the punishing Butser Hill three times over. In fact, some of them still have nightmares about it to this day.

Whilst he was pleased to see that the course for the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon did not include a revisit to Butser Hill, it was still set to be very tough route, with a greater elevation gain than the equivalent of climbing Mount Snowden.

Nevertheless, Stu knew he would just have to grit his teeth and get through it, no matter how tough going it was. The race director put everyone’s minds at rest before the race started by mentioning that, although Butser Hill wasn’t in the route, the total ascent was akin to climbing Butser Hill seven times!!

The course consisted of two very muddy and very testing half marathon loops and kicked off with a brutal climb up through the woods near the visitor centre. It was a very up and down route so gave the quads and the toes a real hammering.

After taking the first lap at quite a steady pace, Stu arrived at the half way point in a very comfortable 2nd place, completing the lap in 1 hour 35 minutes. He now knew what hills and inclines lay ahead, but despite that, he decided to ramp the pace up.

He got to mile 23 thinking all was well. He was even egging on the half marathon runners who had started their race an hour later. Then all of a sudden – crash! He had hit the wall. He couldn’t run at all and his hamstrings felt really tight. He didn’t know where he was and had no water on him. Luckily some friendly half marathon runners gave him a bottle and a Tribe energy bar which helped.

Stu Nicholas surfs the mud in the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon
All was going smoothly for Stu up until mile 23 when he suddenly hit the wall, making it very difficult for him to continue

Finally, he trudged over the line with his legs left very battered and blistered. His time of 3 hours 40 minutes and 5 seconds gave him 7th place out of a 134-strong field. The winner of the race was Alex Whearity of Reading Joggers who completed the course in a stunning time of 3:10:34. He was almost 23 minutes ahead of his nearest rival and Reading Joggers teammate Paul Beechey who crossed the line in 3:33:22.

Looking at the stats on runbritain, Stu is actually faster on paper than all six of the athletes that finished ahead of him but unfortunately, there is little you can do when you hit the dreaded wall. The culmination of doing so many tough marathons over recent months may well be taking its toll on his body.

Of course, the most important thing for Stu though is that it’s another one ticked off his list, bringing his total number of marathons run to 42. He has a little rest now before his next one in May so hopefully that will give him some time recuperate and reinvigorate his energy supply.

Stuart Nicholas went in Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon
With a little bit of refuelling, Stu managed to make it over line, finishing in 7th place in the end with a time of 3:40:05

Julian Oxborough hits Yeovil Half

Julian Oxborough after Yeovil Half Marathon
Now residing in Somerset, Julian Oxborough was competing in the Yeovil Half Marathon for the second year running

It was another big step forward for Julian Oxborough as he took on and completed the Yeovil Half Marathon on Sunday 25th March. Julian now resides in Somerset, so for him it was a fairly local race but, although he no longer lives in Bournemouth, he still has the club very much in his heart and is proud to represent BAC, just as he did in his younger and much faster running days.

Julian is currently at a stage where he’s just building up his fitness again after many years of no running at all. His main focus at the moment is the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on 20 May so he was doing the Yeovil Half Marathon as a part of his training schedule for that.

Having completed the Bournemouth 10 race last month in 2 hours and 5 minutes, Julian had a good platform to work from him and was hoping he would see some further improvement after the training runs he’s been putting in.

The Yeovil Half Marathon is now in its 8th year and it has been growing in popularity each year. This year the race organisers actually reopened the entry after the cut-off date to allow more runners to sign up following the cancellation of many events the previous weekend due to snow. That meant over 1,500 people were set to compete.

Julian and Ruth at Yeovil Half Marathon
Julian and his parftner Ruth who was there to support him as always

The course has changed a little over previous years but the support for the runners whilst out there was as exemplary as ever. The first mile has a downhill stretch and incline before the route flattens out until around the 9-mile mark. The next couple of miles contained some tough hills before leading to the long home straight for the last two miles.

It was pretty tough going for Julian to start off with as he was feeling sick and he was actually sick at miles 4 and 6. He did consider pulling out but keeping his long-term goal of the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in mind, he managed to persevere as he knew he needs to get these long runs in.

The tremendous support gave him a massive boost though and when he got to around the 8 mile point he started to feel a little fresher. He managed to dig in and showed great character and fighting spirit to make it through the remaining 5 miles.

After clocking a total of 13.27 miles, Julian finally crossed the line in a time of 3 hours 2 minutes and 45 seconds. This was a course best for him, beating his time of last year by a massive 14 minutes. He came in 1,531st position overall and took 121st place in the male 50-59 category.

Julian Oxborough's Yeovil Half Marathon medal
The finisher’s medal Julian was given after completing the Yeovil Half Marathon

Ultimately, Julian was pleased with how it went, especially given that it was a tough, hilly course, including an elevation high of 854ft. It was a very good training run for him and will serve him well as he continues to up the ante with his marathon training. He’s certainly starting to reap the benefits of the longer runs that he’s been doing and his times are steadily improving.

At the end of the race Julian received a great medal, which can be used as either a fridge magnet or a bottle opener, and a t-shirt. He thoroughly enjoyed the race and would definitely recommend it to others.

Julian Oxborough in his Yeovil Half Marathon t-shirt
Finishing the race in 3 hours 2 minutes and 45 seconds, Julian bettered his time in the previous year by 14 minutes

New Forest Running Festival goes ahead with snow issues

Trevor Elkins & Richard Brawn in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Trevor Elkins (left) and Richard Brawn (right) were taking on their first ever 20 mile race and they were doing so in the most extraordinary of conditions

On a weekend where snow played havoc with running fixtures up and down the country, one event that did survive the entrenchment of the white stuff was the New Forest Running Festival.

With several races called off including the Eastleigh 10k and the Reading Half Marathon, the latest cold snap from the ‘Beast from the East’ had more than made its mark.

The organisers of the New Forest Running Festival, however, were determined to battle against the adversity and stage each and every scheduled race over the Saturday and the Sunday. That included a 20 mile race, a 50k race and a 50 miler on the Saturday. Then for the Sunday, it was a 10k, a half marathon, a 10 miler and a 20 miler.

Conditions weren’t too bad on the Saturday, with only a light smattering of snow to contend with and, although the temperature had dropped rather dramatically, the three races were able to go ahead as planned without too many problems.

The snow began to fall a bit more heavily on Saturday afternoon and it continued throughout the evening and into the night. By the time Sunday morning arrived, it was full blanket coverage.

Despite that, the race organisers were determined to proceed with the races as planned and in the morning they announced that each race would be delayed by an hour to give people extra time to make their way to the Red Shoot Camping Park where the races started off.

There was also the small matter of having to ferry the participants over from the parking spot at Headlands Business Park to the start area, which they did via a series of shuttle buses. To their credit, the race organisers did a fantastic job to ensure everyone could get to where they needed to be before each race was due to set off.

The first race of the day was the 10k, which featured Bournemouth AC member László Tóth. László had met up with a couple of friends of his from the Sweatshop running group, Cristina Lujan and Rose Bygrave.

Lazslo Toth and friends in the New Forest Running Festival 10k
László Tóth took part in the 10k race on Sunday morning and was accompanied by Rose Bygrave and Cristina Lujan

Before the race began, Cristina and Rose asked László if he would like to run with them. Although László is a very fast runner in his own right, he also very much enjoys the social element to running as well, so naturally he said yes. As a result, he was able to coast along at a very comfortable pace and just enjoy the experience and take in the uniquely enchanting, snow capped surroundings.

The trio stayed together throughout the race, with Cristina completing the course in a time of 1:06:12 putting her in 34th place. Following shortly after, Rose crossed the line in 35th place in 1:06:24 and László crossed the line a second later in 36th.

It wasn’t about time and placings for László though. It was purely about catching up with some friends and enjoying the run and he succeeded on both counts.

Lazslo Toth and friends after New Forest Running Festival 10k
Cristina, László and Rose completed the race in around 1 hour 6 minutes and were glad to receive their medals on an extremely cold morning

The next race to start was the half marathon distance, and that was then followed by the 10 mile and 20 mile races, both of which started off together. The 10 miler was a one lap route, with the 20 miler consisting of two laps of that same route.

In the 20 mile race, Trevor Elkins and Richard Brawn were taking on a 20 mile race for the first time ever. They had only ever done up to a half marathon before in an actual race, so this was going to be an intriguing experiment.

It was also going to be an interesting test for Gemma Bragg, who was racing a 20 miler for the first time since the birth of her son Milo 6 months ago. After that she took some time out from running to concentrate on mothering duties but she has been gradually building her fitness back up since the turn of the year.

Her first race back was the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon in February, where she finished as 3rd lady in a time of 1:35:57. Since then she’s done a couple of 20 mile runs in preparation for the New Forest race so she knew was in shape to be able to complete it but she had no real idea what time she’d be capable of.

Gemma Bragg in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
It was only Gemma Bragg’s second race since the birth of her son and it was bound to be a testing one for her

As for Rich, he’d been gradually building up his portfolio of long distance runs since the turn of the year, having completed a 16 mile run, a couple of 17 mile runs, an 18 mile run and one 20 mile run, which included 8 miles of off-road.

Trevor had also upped his mileage since the turn of the year and had been clocking some pretty high weekly totals. He’d only gone up to 16 miles in training though so this would be his longest ever run to date.

After running his 18 mile training run at 7:30m/m pace and completing his 20 mile training run in 2 hours 34 minutes, Rich was full of confidence going to the New Forest Running Festival Race. He believed that if conditions were good, he could get in in under 2 hours 30 minutes. He’d concurred with Trevor and they’d both agreed that would be a good target to aim for. It would mean averaging 7:30m/m which seemed achievable.

Trevor Elkins & Richard Brawn in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Trev and Rich were excited about the prospect of doing their first 20 mile race and were keen so see how they would handle the endurance

Once they were out there on the course though, it was a different ball game altogether. The constant undulation made it very tough to keep to set pace and the ground was very soggy due to all the melting snow.

Rich had his brother Dave there supporting him, along Dave’s partner Gabrielle. Dave, who runs for the Portsmouth Joggers, had taken part in the 10k race earlier that day, finishing in 6th place. Gabrielle had completed the 50k ultra race that was on the previous day.

Trevor was suffering a bit from a cold and had actually considered pulling out of the race, as he knew the freezing conditions weren’t going to help with that. But he decided to give it a go anyway and dosed up on some meds in a bid to relieve his suffering as much as possible.

To start off with, the runners were taken right to the top of the first hill as the race organisers had decided the course would be too long if they started in the same place as the 10k and the half marathon.

Sunday's 20 miler gets underway
Off they go! The 20 miles of torment (I mean pleasantries!) begin

Once they got going, they almost immediately turned off road and onto a muddy trail the lead up the hill and into the woods. This was a sure sign of what was to come. It wasn’t going to be an easy ride.

Rich soon realised that his watch was set to kilometres, as opposed to miles, which was going to make it very difficult for him to pace the run as he doesn’t often work in kilometres. He thought about stopping his watch and switching it to miles and then starting it again but ultimately decided to just leave it as it was.

In fact, it did cross his mind that it might be a blessing in disguise that he couldn’t really monitor the pace he was running at. The intention was for Rich and Trevor to run the entire race together anyway, so if they were doing that, it didn’t matter too much anyway. Trevor could always keep an eye on the minutes per mile pace.

For the first few miles, they were probably going a bit too fast and Rich began to worry that it would be unsustainable. They settled down a bit though in the 4th mile which had some tough inclines and then began to just take it as it comes and start chalking those miles off, or kilometres in Rich’s case.

It seemed as if the first 7 miles had been mostly uphill, so they glad when they began the downward curve that would take them almost to the end of the first lap. After a much more manageable 3 miles they were nearing the half way point.

They reached the 10 mile point in 1 hour 13 minutes, which meant that in theory they were on course to hit their target time if they could replicate that in the second half of the race. The problem was though that they hadn’t got back to the Red Shoot Inn yet, which was where the finish was, so they knew it was going to be quite a lot further than 20 miles by the time they actually reached the finish line.

Trev Elkins & Rich Brawn in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Trevor and Rich were going well at the half way point, reaching the 10 mile mark in around 1 hour 13 minutes

Rich was trying to do the maths in his head but as far as he could gather, it was still feasible they could complete the 20 miles in under 2 hours 30 minutes, although perhaps not the race itself if it was going to end up being quite a bit further.

As they set off on their second lap, it became apparent that perhaps it wasn’t going to be quite so quick this time round and that they would have to dig in a bit to keep the pace up.

Throughout much of the race, they had noticed there was a woman behind them. She was often coming in and out of view but it was a good incentive for them to keep going, knowing if they slacked off she would catch up with them.

It was on the 14th mile that the game changing moment happened for Rich and Trevor. Rich looked over his shoulder and noticed that the woman was sneaking up closer and closer. He suggested to Trevor that they might have to put in a little spurt to get away from her. He asked Trevor if he had enough energy to do that and Trevor didn’t feel he had and told Rich to go on ahead.

Rich was feeling fairly strong at this point, so he began to up the pace and Trevor dropped back. Rich was really digging in in an attempt to put some distance between himself and the first lady. After all, he was desperate not to get ‘chicked’.

Richard Brawn in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
When the leading lady began to loom ever closer on the horizon, which was forced to go it alone in an attempt not to get ‘chicked’

After a while, Rich had managed to build up a bit of distance between himself and the woman, who had now overtaken Trevor. Rich kept going, full steam ahead and soon there was no one in sight. He still knew though, if he slackened off, she would catch him up.

Then with 7k to go, she came back into view and he knew he was going to be in for a rough ride in the latter stages of the race. The woman was going at a serious pace and as they got into the final 3 miles, Rich knew it was mostly downhill the rest of the way so he could really afford to hit the gas and give it all he’s got.

The lady behind was still going at an almighty speed though and, although Rich had upped his pace significantly, it became apparent that she was going to get past him.

Sure enough, at around about the 30km mark, she overtook him and Rich had nothing left to fight with. The woman soon left him for dust. He then realised he recognised the woman. It was in fact, Valeria Sesto, whom he had had a battle with on a previous occasion, which was at Lymington parkrun. On that occasion as well, Valeria had come from behind to overtake Rich and finish ahead of him.

Richard Brawn poses during New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Rich couldn’t quite hold on and Valeria Sesto overtook him with around 3k left

It was now all about time for Rich. The question was, could he make it to the 20 mile point in under 2 hours 30 minutes. He actually did reach the 20 mile mark in around 2 hours 27 minutes so effectively he had hit that target. Sadly though, he knew there was still a way to go to get to the finish.

At around the 20.5 mile mark, he arrived at the approach to the finish and saw his brother Dave up the road cheering him on a taking pictures with his camera. It was a very welcome sight to see the last turning to the finish line come into view. He crossed the line in 7th place in a time of 2:30:43.

Richard Brawn after New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Rich was pretty happy with his finishing time of 2 hours 30 minutes and 43 seconds. Not bad for a first 20 mile attempt!

Since Rich had powered on, Trevor had really begun to struggle. The cold and flu had left him completely sapped for energy and his lack of similar distance training runs meant the last quarter of the race became increasingly challenging. In the end he was reduced to virtually a run/walk sort of pace.

To his credit though, he didn’t give up. He kept going and kept grafting all the way to line, arriving in a time of 2:49:11. That put him in 15th position. It turned out he’d actually been overtaken by Gemma at some point during that last 5 miles as well.

Gemma had had a storming run and had finished up as 2nd placed lady in a very impressive time of 2:38:13. That put her in 10th position overall. The was a very impressive outcome for Gemma, especially as she hasn’t really raced a lot over recent times.

The first 10 miles of the race went smoothly for Gemma and she reached the half way point, or what should’ve been the half way point, in just over 1 hour 15 minutes.

Gemma Bragg in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Gemma was going well after the first half of the race, reaching the 10 mile mark in around 1 hour 15 minutes

Things got noticeably tougher on the second lap and on mile 14 she really began to suffer, with some very tough hills forcing her pace to drop slightly. She managed to pull it back though and get back into her rhythm okay.

Her husband Jez Bragg, who is also a very accomplished Bournemouth AC runner, was out on the course to support her and was pushing Milo around in the buggy, as the pair often do when out running.

As it was a two lap route, Gemma got to see Jez twice during the run and it was nice for her to have some support out there to help keep her motivated for the task ahead.

Mile 17 was another tough one for Gemma, as she battled hard on the inclines to maintain her pace knowing that the last three miles were pretty much downhill so would be much easier to negotiate. She showed great character to finish the race strongly and seal her 2nd place in the ladies competition and a top 10 position overall.

Gemma Bragg in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
Gemma had an excellent run, finishing as 2nd placed lady in a stellar time of 2:38:13

Sam Laws was also meant to be doing it but something went wrong with her application and it turned out that in fact they hadn’t received it. She still went out and did her own 20 mile training run though instead.

Her friend Julia Marsh, who is a member of Christchurch Runners but sometimes comes to train with BAC on Tuesday nights did run it. Julia and Sam have been doing a lot of their longer marathon training runs together, as Sam is competing in the APB Southampton and Julia is running the London Marathon. Julia completed the 20 miler, or 20.5 miles as it turned out to be, in 3 hours 20 minutes and 20 seconds.

The winner of the race was Tom Lovegrove, who finished in 2 hours 17 minutes and 30 seconds. Vince Fowler was 2nd and took the prize for 1st vet in a time of 2:19:17. The first lady, Valeria Sesto actually crossed the line in a time of 2 hours 30 minutes on the dot.

Reflecting on his run, Trevor acknowledges that perhaps he isn’t quite marathon ready just yet. On another day though and with a clean bill of health, who knows what would’ve happened? He has already said he might consider doing the race again next year and if he does so, he’ll make sure he’s properly trained and primed to go the full distance.

Despite the extreme weather conditions, all four BAC members enjoyed the run and it was certainly a unique and unforgettable experience running through a New Forest covered in a beautiful white layer of snow. In fact you could even say there was something magical about it. And it’s probably not something that’s likely to happen again round here any time soon (famous last words!).

Gemma Bragg & Richard Brawn in New Forest Running Festival 20 Miler
In what could only be described as extremely testing conditions, all four BAC members deserve great plaudits for completing the race and remaining positive in the face of adversity













Gutsy display from Stu Nicholas in Week at the Knees marathon

Stu Nicholas in Week at the Knees Day 3
Stu Nicholas was competing on Day 3 of the Week at the Knees marathon event held at Caldecotte Lake

What do you do when you get the day off work? Some people might take the opportunity to run some errands or catch up on some of that housework they’ve been neglecting. Others might curl up on the sofa and watch a box set or find a good movie on Netflix perhaps. Another option could be meeting a friend for a spot of lunch or a coffee. As for Stu Nicholas – well, naturally, he decided he would enter a marathon.

For many, this would be a step too far on an impromptu decision. But Stu is no ordinary man. He’d already completed 40 marathons to date and looks well on course to reach his intended target of 50 by the end of the year.

The “Week at the Knees”  race he took part in was day 3 of a 7 day series of marathons. There were of course, some runners who participated in all 7 of the races of the Enigma Running event.

For Stu though, it was a return to familiar ground at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes – a location he had been victorious at in marathons on three previous occasions.

Unfortunately for Stu though, this one didn’t go exactly according to plan. He was caught in some traffic on the drive up and almost missed the start of the race. He only arrived at the venue at 9:10 and the race was scheduled to begin at 9:30.

This meant he had to head straight over for the race briefing before taking his place on the start line having had no warm up. It didn’t matter though. He’d made it in time and that was all that mattered, or so he thought.

Once he got going though, he realised something wasn’t quite right and he began to get a tummy ache. This soon escalated and he was forced to make several pit stops as a result.

Nevertheless, he managed to soldier on and, incredibly, he still managed to win the race, completing the course in a mightily impressive time of 3:37:16. That put him exactly 16 minutes ahead of his nearest rival Jesse Shearin who came in 2nd place.

Although it wasn’t the sort of time Stu is used to posting for a marathon, it doesn’t matter. A win is a win and that is all that will go down in the record books.

Stu Nicholas in Week at the Knees Day 3
In spite of the unfortunate hitches, Stu somehow still emerged victorious, completing the race in a time of 3:37:16

Having become quite accustomed to winning marathons recently, this was Stu’s 6th victory in his last 8 marathons. That is a record that really speaks for itself.

It took a lot of determination and strength of character for Stu to come out on top, despite the  adversity he faced, and the fact that he did is a real testament to his will to win.

There were 37 other competitors in the race that Stu entered on Wednesday 14th March. Amazingly, of those 37 people, 15 of them were doing all 7 of the “Week at the Knees” marathons that week, so that’s 7 marathons back-to-back.

The winner of the cumulative competition was Aarno Lehtola of the 100 Marathon Club, who completed all 7 of his marathons in under 4 hours. This gave him a total combined time of 27 hours 1 minute and 54 seconds.

He was over 2 and a half hours quicker than his nearest rival, Denys Baudry who took 2nd place with a total combined time of 29 hours 36 minutes and 13 seconds.

Up next for Stu is, yes you’ve guessed it, another marathon! This coming weekend he’ll be participating in marathon number 42, the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon, which starts off at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield.

This is likely to be a tough one, with some pretty testing trails around the country park. It has been alleged that the total elevation gain in the marathon route is equivalent to what you would register if you climb up Mount Snowden.

One thing that Stu was relieved about though is that the course doesn’t incorporate the dreaded Butser Hill, one that many BAC members still have nightmares about to this day following their cross country experience last November.

Stu Nicholas in Week at the Knees on Day 3
It was the 4th time Stu had won a marathon at Caldecotte Lake in as many attempts


Simon Hearn and Ollie Stoten cop a load of the Maverick inov-8 Hampshire

The Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire was an event that consisted of three races of differing distances. A Short race – which was 6km route, a Middle distance that was 13km and a Long race that was 22km. The Hampshire edition was held in the New Forest, starting out at the Avon Tyrell Activity Centre.

Although the Maverick inov-8 Original events are typically quite low key affairs, this one attracted two Bournemouth AC members. Simon Hearn took part in the Short race, whilst Ollie Stoten entered the Long distance one.

In the build up to the race, Simon wasn’t quite sure what to expect. He’d looked at the results from the previous year and seen that the times were not as quick as he would expect for go for a 6k race. But that kind of made him think, perhaps it’s a really tough course or extremely hilly.

Simon Hearn in the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire 6k
Simon Hearn was taking on the 6k race at the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire event

In fact, the route was comprised of varying types of terrain, from open pastures and heavy woodland and heathland. Whilst negotiating the trails, there is plenty to keep the runners occupied in the New Forest, with ponies, donkeys and cattle roaming freely on the land and there’s also a good chance of catching a glimpse of a wild boar or fallow deer. Snakes and lizards are also frequently spotted in the undergrowth.

Before the race, Simon had been offered the chance to run in a pair of inov-8 trail shoes, on a trial basis. Since it is inov-8 that organise the event, they bring some test shoes with them to allow runners the opportunity to give them a go and see how they feel. Then of course, if they like them they can go to the store and buy a pair afterwards.

Opting to take them up on the offer, Simon laced up the new pair of trail shoes and got ready to race. It was pouring down with rain that morning, so the surface was quite slippery, meaning having the right kind of footwear with some good grip would be quite crucial.

The races for all three distances began at the same time, so the runners from each were at first intermingled. Simon set off at a reasonably quick pace since he knew it was only 6k he had to do.

At first there was a group of about 6 to 8 runners in front of him. As they reached the first corner though, there were arrows directing the runners to go a certain way, depending on what distance they were doing.

As he turned to the left, Simon noticed that all those who were ahead of him had turned right. He did some quick maths and deduced that he must be in the lead.

Running at a comfortably hard pace, he kept on advancing and soon realised there was no one in sight behind him. He knew that if he could keep this up, he’d be in line for the win.

There were a couple of tough hills on the route and, knowing that inclines are often a weakness of his, Simon was half expecting some to come and catch him up on the elevation. But still, there was no one to be seen.

As he approached the latter stages of the race, Simon started to wonder if he had taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. Since there was no one else a round, it was a bit of a worry. But he kept pressing on and made to the finish.

When he arrived, there seemed to be no one around. He then went a spoke to one of the people working there and they looked surprised to see him. It turned out they weren’t expecting anybody back for a good few minutes.

For Simon, it was really pleasing to know that he had won the race, and as it turned out, he’d done so with a very convincing margin. His time was 21:44. The person who finished 2nd in the race came in 2 minutes and 27 seconds later in a time of 24:11.

It came as a bit of a shock to Simon, as he wasn’t expecting to win the race. It was a very nice surprise though and will be a good confidence booster to him going forward.

Simon Hearn won the Short race at the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire
As it panned out, Simon won the Short distance race by a handsome margin of almost 2 and a half minutes

When he spoke to the guy who had given him the trail shoes after, like a true salesman, he told Simon that he must’ve been down to the footwear!

Later that day, Simon did actually decide to take a trip down to the store and did end up buying some of the trail shoes he had tried out, along with some other running gear, so the idea of inov-8 to let the runners try the footwear out clearly did work, at least in Simon’s case anyway.

Next up for Simon it’s the Reading Half Marathon, an event he’s been training quite hard for over recent weeks and judging by his performance in the Maverick inov-8 Original, he has every reason to be optimistic.

Coming into the race off the back of a 26 mile run the previous weekend at LDWA New Forest Challenge, where he finished way ahead of the rest of the field, Ollie had every reason to feel confident in the longer distance race.

Ollie Stoten in the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire 22k
Ollie Stoten opted for the Long distance race at the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire which was 22k

It was 22k in length, so slightly further than a half marathon. Unfortunately though, the marked out route appeared to be different than the GPS route they had been provided with beforehand.

That caused some confusion amongst the lead runners and Doctor Ollie ended up having to stop on some occasions and do some route finding. This was a bit annoying but he was only really treating it as a training run anyway, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

Despite the orienteering, Ollie managed to make it to the finish, completing the course, or the route he had taken at least anyway, in a time of 1:31:19. This put him in 6th place overall.

When you factor in the confusion of the course, that is actually a really good time from Ollie on a tough off-road surface in very wet conditions. His average pace for the run was 6 minutes 38 seconds per mile, which is very strong over that kind of terrain.

As it turned out, Ollie was only 4 minutes behind the winner of the race, who was Chris Southern. He had a look at Strava after the race and saw that everyone seemed to have different finishing distances, which didn’t surprise him after what he had experienced. Nevertheless, he’d run harder than he would have in training, so all things considered, it was a good run out.

Ollie Stoten took 6th place in the Maverick inov-8 Original Hampshire 22k
Despite some route finding issues, Ollie had a decent run out, finishing in 6th place with a time of 1:31:19


Kirsty and Tamzin climb Imperial ladder in Larmer Tree 10

Kirsty Drewett in the Larmer Tree 10
Kirsty Drewett was looking to complete the Imperial Series by conquering the Larmer Tree 10 mile race

The third and final race of the Imperial Series and undoubtedly the toughest of the lot was the Larmer Tree 10, which took place on Saturday 10th March.

Having already completed the Lytchett 10 and the Bournemouth 10, it was time for Kirsty Drewett and Tamzin Petersen to put themselves to the ultimate test in the extremely wet, mesmerizingly muddy and harrowingly hilly setting of the Rushmore Estate.

Tamzin Petersen at the Larmer 10
Tamzin Petersen was looking to finish high up on the leaderboard the Imperial Series but first she had to tackle the testing slopes of the Larmer Tree 10

Completing the Imperial Series 10 was a challenge Kirsty had set herself at the beginning of the year so, although she knew she was in for a tough race, she was determined to give it her best shot.

After finishing 7th lady at Lytchett and 13th lady at the Bournemouth 10, she was looking for another good performance to potentially place her quite high up in the overall standings.

The course contained two big inclines, the first of which began a mile and a half in, then steadily increasing in gradient as it went up, eventually finishing at a round about four and a half miles.

Muddy field at the Larmer 10
The surface was wet and muddy in places making for an interesting and challenging excursion for the runners

The second sumptuous slope began on the 7th mile and was also pretty steep, although a little shorter this time. The last mile was also on an incline, really putting the runners through their paces on whatever their energy levels could muster up at that point in the proceedings.

The time flew by for Kirsty once she got going and she found there were many varying elements to concentrate on which helped keep her mind occupied.

Kirsty Drewett in the Larmer Tree 10
With a 7th place and a 13th place finish in her previous two Imperial Series races, Kirsty was looking to do even better in the Larmer Tree 10

Since it was the first race of the weekend, with a half marathon, a dark race, a 20 miler and a marathon all taking place throughout the weekend, conditions under foot were pretty good for the 10 miler at least.

A finishing time of 1 hour 27 minutes and 23 seconds made Kirsty 4th female on the day and 3rd in the F35 category. This was a decent result for Kirsty and she was pleased to post a time only 10 minutes off what she did at the Lytchett 10 which, given the hardcore profile of the Larmer Tree 10, seemed a respectable aim prior to the race. She came in 43rd overall, out of 445 finishers.

Kirsty Drewett in the Larmer Tree 10
Kirsty thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will definitely be back for more next year

Taking the position of 12th placed lady at the Lytchett 10 and 24th female in the Bournemouth 10, Tamzin was also hoping a good run at the Larmer Tree 10 could place her quite high in the overall standings for the Imperial Series.

Due to the varying terrain and the constant ups and downs, Tamzin found it difficult to get into a rhythm and wasn’t really sure how to pace the run. It was really just a case of gritting her teeth and battling through to the end.

Tamzin Petersen at the Larmer 10
Tamzin hadn’t really done many races with such a variation of terrain and elevation before

Some of the hills on the course were hellacious and there was one that had a 17% gradient, on which Tamzin said that she felt like she was bent double walking up.

Despite the tough terrain and the energy sapping lumps and bumps, Tamzin rallied well though and got to the line in a time of 1:34:15, which made her 14th placed lady on the day and 3rd in the F25  category. In the overall standings, Tamzin was 73rd.

Tamzin Petersen in the Larmer Tree 10
Tamzin was so focused she ignored the direction arrows dictating the route

Currently training for the Edinburgh Marathon on 27th May, Tamzin found the testing off-road 10 miler a welcome break from the longer training runs she’s been putting in most weekends recently.

The 1st placed lady in the race was Maria Everett of Littledown Harriers, who completed the course in a superb time of 1:22:18. She was just 10 seconds ahead of the 2nd placed female, Karen Mitchell of Dorset Sole Sisters. Helen Southcott of Maiden Newton Runners was 3rd in 1:25:40.

Even more hills at the Larmer 10
It was an uphill task for many just to make to the finish line

In the men’s race, Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders was the victor, crossing the line in a stunning time of 1:05:36. He was followed by Duncan Cooper of Poole AC who was 2nd in 1:06:42 and Ian Luke of Poole Runners who was 3rd in 1:07:34.

After securing a 3rd placed finish in both the Lytchett 10 and the Bournemouth 10, Josh Cole had been hoping he would be able to get a place in the Larmer Tree 10 as well. This would’ve given him a great chance of winning the Imperial Series.

Massive hill at the Larmer 10
The hills were big and bad – and at some stages seemed endless

The race organisers were not having it though and since he hadn’t entered by the time the race had filled up, he was sadly denied the opportunity to take that crown.

The Larmer Tree 10 race was over 1,000ft of elevation, which underlines how gruelling the course is. Kirsty said she learned a lot from the run though and can’t wait to put her newly accrued wisdom into practice next time.

Hills at the Larmer 10
The day was brightened up by some funny notices that had been placed around the course

In fact, she has vowed to return to the Rushmoor Estate next year with a view to potentially entering the 20 mile race! She is thinking there might be less dogs to contend with in that race as well.

Ironically, although there was a race for people running with dogs starting 15 minutes before, this time Tamzin had absolutely no trouble with any of the canines out on the course. Yet, at the Bournemouth 10, she somehow managed to be apprehended by one who had escaped from his leash as she approached the finish line on the promenade!

More hills at the Larmer 10
Another of the many hills that the competitors had to conquer throughout the race

In terms of the Imperial Series competition as a whole, Kirsty finished as 4th lady, with a cumulative time of 4 hours and 47 seconds. That’s a combined time of the Lytchett 10, the Bournemouth 10 and the Larmer Tree 10. She was 3rd in the senior female category.

Finishing up as the 8th placed woman overall, Tamzin registered a cumulative time of 4 hours 13 minutes and 17 seconds. This put her 5th in the senior female category. It was a fantastic result for the two BAC ladies and they can be immensely proud of their extraordinary efforts in the three races.

Kirsty Drewett in the Larmer Tree 10
Kirsty was 4th placed lady in the race, finishing in a stellar time of 1:27:23

Maria Everett of Littledown won the Imperial Series, taking the title the BAC’s Yvonne Tibble claimed last year. Maria’s cumulative time was 3:52:24.

Helen Southcott of Maiden Newton Runners was 2nd with a total time of 3:54:29 and Karen Mitchell of Dorset Sole Sisters took 3rd in 3:57:38.

For the men, it was Duncan Cooper of Poole AC who scooped the victory with a very impressive cumulative time of 3:08:30. Jonni Sucking of Slinn Allstars was 2nd, clocking a total time of 3:15:16, with Stephen Williams of Littledown taking 3rd in 3:19:34.

Tamzin Petersen takes on the Larmer Tree 10
Coming in 14th placed lady, Tamzin completed the course in a time of 1:34:15










Big PB in Big Half for Terrific Tag

Rob McTaggart in Vitality Big Half
Rob McTaggart was mixing it with some of the finest distance runners out there in the Vitality Big Half

The Vitality Big Half was a brand new event staged in heart of the nation’s capital that proved extremely popular, drawing a huge field of 11,600 people. Running from Tower Bridge to Greenwich and passing through the boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham, the race was heralded as a perfect warm up for the London Marathon, taking place 7 weeks later.

With such a grand venue and with the event being designated the British Half Marathon Championships for 2018 , there was little surprise that it attracted some big names, including Britain’s greatest ever long distance track athlete Mo Farrah, plus Callum Hawkins and the 2017 London Marathon winner Daniel Wanjiru.

The prospect of such a huge half marathon also caught the attention of one of Bournemouth AC’s finest, as Rob McTaggart took to the start line, hoping he’d be in with a shout of a very fast time. BAC second claimer Craig Palmer was also in the line-up, representing his home club of Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers.

After what turned out to be a truly remarkable race, Tag kindly agreed to give us the lowdown of how the events unfolded from his perspective, so here’s a full, raw and unfiltered recount of proceedings from the man himself…

“This past Sunday, myself and second claimer Craig Palmer, running on this occasion in the colours of Ampthill & Flitwick, were entered in the inaugural BIG HALF marathon event in London.

The race was advertised as an ideal warm up for the London marathon, taking in many prominent features of the current route including Tower Bridge and Cutty Sark.

There was also a random mile long tunnel and lots of unwelcome cobbles to contend with. The race doubled up as the British Championships and had the likes of Mo Farah and Callum Hawkins duking it out at the front.

My initial plan was an £11 return trip on the National Express, travelling up on Friday evening and staying at my sister’s. Due to the shocking weather and lack of any public transport in Dorset, these plans were ruined and I’d basically written the race off and got on a sesh up the Tav that night.

Waking up with a heavy head on Saturday morning, a couple of phone calls confirmed there was one final train going from Bournemouth to London at 11:47, resulting in a 53 minute smash and dash to reach the station and a £60 expense on the train fare.

A shopping trip to snowy Bicester village via Hampstead followed and I was still convinced the race would get cancelled. However, on the day of the race it was about 2 degrees warmer and most of the ice and snow appeared to have melted.

I met Craig in the ‘Championship Start’ at some random school – where the standard sub 70 minute target time and usual abuse was exchanged. A minimal trot was done to warm up before we were ushered into the starting pen.

To be fair this is a cracking race. There were quite a few tight turns to negotiate and the cobble sections were a hindrance as they were slippery and generally bad to run on.

The main issue though was the starting area. The race contained a field of over 10,000 people but as it double backs on itself, the start is half a road width wide.

We started at the back of the ‘Championship’ pen and were stuck behind multiple charity and fancy dress runners, as well as some 90 plus minute female runners.

It took 8 seconds to cross the start line and within a minute of running I could see the lads of the calibre I should be with about 80 to 100 metres up the road.

A panic mile of zig-zagging through the masses at 5 minute/mile tempo ensued before I caught up with the group at about 1.5 miles. This group went on to run around 68 to 69 minutes.

A post-race stat indicated that I passed 91 runners in the first half of the race, losing only one place, whilst in the second half of the race I passed only four people and lost 2 places.

Rob McTaggart in Vitality Big Half
After a tricky start to the race, Tag soon got going and began to pick people off as he progressed toward the front end of the field

That confirms I really did cock up and should get to the start pen earlier in future as a remotely even paced run would surely get a better result.

I started to suffer from my fast start around the 4 mile marker but settled in with a group and started to tick off the miles. By around mile 6.5 to 7 miles, a motorbike with a cameraman appeared from nowhere.

A few seconds later my worst nightmare was confirmed and I had been reeled in by the lead women and was going to appear on the BBC getting dropped. I had to raise my game and latch onto the back of Charlotte Purdue and Lily Partridge at all costs.

For the rest of the race I did absolutely nothing other than stalk these ladies for as long as possible. The last 2 miles were pretty tough and I dropped off a few seconds.

However, despite what the photo evidence  suggests, I’m claiming that I didn’t get chicked, due to registering a chip time of 70:25 verses Purdue’s 70:29. As it turned out, those 8 seconds at the start saved me.

This was a new PB for me and, although not quite the time I felt capable of, the manner I ran in confirms I could potentially go about a minute faster and is a positive result on the road to the London Marathon.

Craig finished in 71:20, which was not as fast as his run a few weeks ago at Wokingham. He realised 3 miles in he wasn’t on for a sub 70 on this occasion and just focused on beating his rivals from Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, which he managed with no concerns.

Craig Palmer and Tag after Vitality Big Half
Craig Palmer and Tag enjoy a well earned post race refreshment after their cracking performances

Next we march on to either the Eastleigh 10k or the Reading Half and a period of three or four 100 mile training weeks in the chase for a 2:25 finish at the London Marathon.

For all the stats fans and people with far too much time on their hands, here’s a link to my Strava activity, showing my race splits for each 5k sector.”

Race results:
Rob McTaggart – 34th – 1:10:25
Craig Palmer – 51st – 1:11:20
Rob McTaggart in Vitality Big Half
A spectacular run by Tag saw him take 34th place in a terrific new PB time of 1:10:25 an most importantly of all, he didn’t get chicked!

Ollie Stoten strides to victory in the LDWA New Forest Challenge

Ollie Stoten in the LDWA New Forest Challenge
Ollie Stoten took on the extremely hilly 26 mile route of the LDWA New Forest Challenge

The New Forest Challenge was an event put on by the Wessex group of the Long Distance Walkers Association and featured either a choice of an 18 mile or 26 mile route that could either be walked or ran.

Of course, Bournemouth’s resident hardcore hill enthusiast Ollie Stoten took the running option. Ollie is no stranger to very long runs that include extremely high elevation gains.

Whilst the course for the New Forest Challenge would be most peoples’ idea of hell, with the off-road route incorporating over 3,000ft of elevation, Ollie was actually quite a home in this environment.

Regularly featuring near the top of the BAC leaderboard on Strava for weekly mileage, Ollie certainly puts everything into his training. In terms of elevation, he is usually right at the top of the table, sometimes racking up over 19,000ft of climbing within the space of a week.

The New Forest Challenge course started off at Burley Village Hall and was a circular route over forest tracks and paths, through woods and across heathlands. The participants were responsible for using their own navigation skills to find their way to each checkpoint.

It was a picturesque route, with some lovely open views throughout. Ollie wasn’t hanging around to admire the scenery though. He was tearing his way round the course, making light work of the hills as he advanced.

Soon finding himself way out front on his own, it wasn’t a case of whether he would win or not, it was more a question of how quickly could he get round.

As the miles were ticked off one by one, Ollie kept a very consistent pace, despite the constant undulation. A very quick last 4 miles saw Ollie get to finish line and complete the course in an incredible time of 3 hours 31 minutes.

The total distance he covered amounted to 27 miles and his average pace for the run was 7 minutes 32 per mile. A very impressive stat given the profile of the course, which contained 3,089ft of elevation.

No one else in the field could come anywhere near Ollie. In fact, Ollie was the only participant who did the full 26 mile route that came in under 4 hours. The next quickest person to complete the course did it in 4 hours 24 minutes, so almost an hour behind Ollie.

To be fair, very few people managed to get through the 26 miles in under 5 hours which gives an idea of the sheer dominance of Ollie over the rest of the field.

It will be interesting to see what Ollie has lined up for his next challenge. No doubt it will be a long distance route with a very hilly profile though. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ollie Stoten in the LDWA New Forest Challenge
Ollie completed the course in a tremendous time of 3 hours 31 minutes, which was almost an hour ahead of the next person to finish



Toby Chapman tackles Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge

Toby Chapman takes on the Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge
Back in his homeland area of North Somerset, Toby Chapman took on the Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge

Whilst many BAC members were making their presence felt at the Bournemouth 10, either participating in the race or helping out with the organising or marshalling, Toby Chapman was back in Somerset, the area where he grew up.

As he often does when he’s back visiting family, Toby took the opportunity to enter a local race. On this occasion, that was the Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge in Weston-super-Mare.

The Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge is a 10 mile, multi-terrain race along the North Somerset coastline. The race features some stretches across the beach in Weston Bay and Sandy Bay as well as some fast sections along the promenade, some woodland trails and some very challenging climbs.

The lead group make their way across the sandy beach
Some sections of the race were run across sandy beaches, hence why the call it the Two Bays ‘Tough’ Ten

It was a course that suited Toby quite well, since he possesses both the speed on the flat, as he had demonstrated in various Dorset races recently, and some decent climbing credentials, having competed in some of the toughest mountain ultra races out there.

Last summer, Toby took on the 80km Mont-Blanc Marathon and then in the autumn he was in the Spanish Pyrenees for the 110km Ultra Pirineu. So far this year, Toby has a victory in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon to his name, having finished narrowly ahead of his Bournemouth AC teammate Steve Way.

The lead group charge along the sandy bay
The lead group make their way across the sandy bay, which does give the race something of a unique characteristic

In the Two Bays Tough Ten Challenge, Toby found himself again jostling for position at the front of the field. This time he was battling it out with Chris McMillan of Weston AC.

The pair were neck and neck for the first half of the race but at around the six mile point, Chris made the significant move, breaking clear of Toby.

There was a massive hill going from just after the 7th mile to part the way into the 8th mile that proved hard work, even for an experienced ascender of Toby’s stature.

Toby Chapman accelerates along the promenade
Toby zooms down the promenade at Weston-super-Mare

As they began the descent down to the finish, Toby tried his best to catch Chris but he ran out of road and Chris took the victory in a time of 58:35. That meant Toby had to settle for 2nd place on this occasion, crossing the line in a still remarkable time of 59:14. A total of 540 people completed the race.

This was a good result for Toby though, especially since it marked the end of his first 100 mile week for about 10 months, so the upping of mileage was bound to have taken it’s toll on him to some extent.

Toby is currently in training for the Highland Fling, a 53 mile ultramarathon following the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long distance footpath. The route takes the participants through Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park and features 7,500ft of ascent. The event is scheduled for Saturday 28th April, which is the week after the London Marathon.

Toby speeds down the Weston-super-Mare promenade
It was the last blast for Toby bringing to a heavy week of training to its end as he reached the 100 mile mark




Brilliant BAC 1,2,3 at Bournemouth 10

BAC team after Bournemouth 10 race
A total of 22 Bournemouth AC members took to the start line for Bournemouth 10 and many others were on hand to help set up and marshal the event

It was a cold, crisp February morning on the day of one of Bournemouth’s most eagerly anticipated and appealing races, the Bournemouth 10. This year’s edition brought together a field brimming with talent, including many of Bournemouth AC‘s big hitters, making it a showdown of biblical proportions.

It’s a great time of year to be staging a 10 mile road race, with many runners looking for middle distance races to break up the monotony of the marathon miles as they prepare for the London Marathon or other big events around the end of March to late April.

As well as being one of the three 10 mile races that make up the Imperial Series, along with the Lychett 10 and Larmer 10, the Bournemouth 10 was also a Dorset Road Race League fixture this year, which added further to the intrigue.

The race was organised by Bournemouth AC’s Ian White who, together with his team of helpers including Sam Laws and many other BAC members, worked tirelessly to ensure proceedings went smoothly.

Off the back of a distinct lack of cooperation from the town council, who again refused to allow any road closures or promenade restrictions, there were many challenges for Ian to overcome in order to make the event a success. It meant that the race had to begin at the even earlier time of 8:30am, forcing Ian and many of his helpers to arrive at 6 in the morning to get everything set up.

They didn’t complain about it though. They were up bright and early and got on with the job – and not only did they do that – they did it all with a smile on their faces as well, helping to enhance the experience even further for those who took part.

Prior to the race, as well as the cold weather, a lot of the discussion amongst the participants was about the direction of the wind. The easterly wind meant that the first 4 miles of the route, which were along the promenade from Bournemouth Pier to Southbourne, would be running into a headwind.

On the plus side though, on the return journey back along the overcliff road, there would be a tailwind. This was a reversal of the conditions last year, where the way back along the overcliff was into a headwind, making it a very tough second half of the race.

As the race kicked off, a lead group was quickly established and it contained 6 Bournemouth AC members, amongst others. They worked together, taking it in turns to drive the pace from the front with the rest of the group tucking in behind, peloton style.

That star studded lead group included last year’s race Steve Way, Stuart Nicholas – who was 3rd in 2017 and 2nd in 2016, Josh Cole – who won the race in 2015, plus Anthony Clark, Jez Bragg and Rob McTaggart – all of whom have huge credentials of their own.

The lead group on the promenade
The lead group took it in turns to drive the pace, peloton style, for the first 4 miles into a headwind

Once they got off the promenade, a new breakaway group formed containing Steve Way, Rob McTaggart, Josh Cole and Andy Leggett of Lonely Goat RC. Andy did his best to stay with the BAC trio but the blistering pace Steve Way was setting was hard to live with.

Soon it was only the three Bournemouth AC guys in contention and they tore their way back along the overcliff road from Southbourne back toward Boscombe.

At this point Steve was in full flow and began to pull away. Tag was trying to hang on and was hoping he was still in with a chance of catching Steve if he could maintain a small gap between them. He was thinking there was no way Steve would be able to maintain the pace he was going at for the remainder of the race.

The lead pack in the Bournemouth 10
The lead group of Steve Way, Rob McTaggart and Josh Cole tore away from the rest of the pack once they got off the promenade

That prognosis proved to be incorrect though, as Steve was running really strongly and he was indeed able to maintain the pace. In fact, he actually upped pace the significantly over the course of the second half of the race, finishing with a 5:07 and a 5:06 for the last couple of miles.

This was enough to see Steve reclaim his crown as the Bournemouth 10 winner for 2018, with a phenomenal time of 55 minutes 30 – a very similar time to what he did last year.

That meant Tag had to settle for 2nd place but did really well to stay so close to Steve, in the end finishing just 18 seconds behind in a time of 55:48.

Making it a magnificent 1,2,3 for BAC, Josh Cole took 3rd place, running a great race himself to stay very close behind Tag. The gap between those two was a mere 20 seconds with Josh recording a terrific time of 56:08.

This was a great performance from Josh, and followed up his 3rd place finish at the Lytchett 10 two weeks prior. He thoroughly enjoyed the run and said it had the feel of a proper old-school road race.

Andy Leggott crossed the line in 4th place with a time of 56:40 and Sean Edwards of Lytchett Manor Striders was 5th in a 56:59.

With the prospect of the Anglo Celtic Plate British 100k Championships looming large on the horizon, Anthony Clark and Jez Bragg saw the Bournemouth 10 as a nice bit of speed work, in amongst the seriously heavy mileage they’ve been putting in recently.

Anthony Clark during Bournemouth 10
Ant Clark was doing the race as part of a longer training run as he prepares for the 100k UK Championships

Having already done 8 and half miles before he took to the promenade for the Bournemouth 10, Ant was pleased to take 6th place in a time of 57:21 and he was 2nd VM40 behind Steve.

Gareth Alan-Williams of Poole AC came in 2 seconds later to take 7th place before Jez reached the line shortly after to post a time of 57:40.

It was actually only 30 seconds off Jez’s PB of several years ago, so that is a very good sign for his fitness levels. Jez completed  a further 11 miles throughout the course of the day, brining his total for the day to 21 miles.

Jez Bragg during Bournemouth 10
Jez Bragg is also competing in the 100k UK Championships and was using the Bournemouth 10 to get an idea of where his fitness is currently

Steven Yates of Poole Runners took 9th place in a time of 58:07 before the next BAC member, Stu Nicholas, arrived at the finish to complete the top 10 in a time of 58:31.

Despite not having the best of preparations, having spent most of the week in the lead up to the race on the beers at the Norwich Winter Ale Festival, Stu was pleased with his time. It was a 1 minute 19 second improvement on what he did last year, although the wind was a lot more ferocious on that occasion.

Stuart Nicholas during Bournemouth 10
Stuart Nicholas had a 3rd and a 2nd place in the previous two years at the Bournemouth 10

There was a new PB for the distance for Paul Consani who crossed the line in 27th place with a very strong time of 1:03:18. This was a 22 second improvement on his time in the 2016 Bournemouth 10 race.

For the first sector of the race on the promenade, Paul ran really well, settling into a group just behind the main lead pack and keeping a very good pace despite the bitterly cold Siberian wind.

After hitting the turning point and heading back towards Boscombe, Paul was relentless in his pace and just continued to push hard whilst heading along the overcliff.

A very quick last couple of miles put him in contention for his fastest ever 10 mile run as he hit the line he was really pleased to find out that he had done it.

Paul Consani during Bournemouth 10
Paul Consani motors round the course in what turned out to be a new PB for him

The next BAC member to complete the race was Richard Brawn, who also netted himself a fabulous new PB for the distance. Up until this race, Rich’s 10 mile PBs had always been set at The Great South Run, with his most recent being last October, when he posted a time of 1:05:17.

This year at the Bournemouth 10 though, Rich managed to write himself a new record, eclipsing his time at The Great South Run by almost a minute. He took 34th place in a time of 1:04:19.

After setting off at quite a quick pace for the first mile, Rich soon settled into a more moderate pace as the wind made the stretch along the promenade pretty tough.

Rich Brawn and Adrian Townsend on the promenade
Richard Brawn and Adrian Townsend formed part of a pack as they battled the chilly easterly wind

Initially he was at the front of the group but as he was finding it a real battle in the end, he dropped back into a group of Littledown Harriers and took shelter behind some of them for most the rest of the way along the promenade.

As the group began to approach the turning up from the promenade, Rich made a break for it to see if he could leave the group behind. A couple of the Littledown Harriers caught him up and they worked their way round the windy roads before getting onto the overcliff road and heading back toward Boscombe.

Most of Rich’s miles were at around 6:30 pace, so he was thinking that he wasn’t on for a particularly special time. However, the last two miles changed all that, as Rich put in a 6:02 on the 9th mile which contained the downhill road leading back onto the promenade.

Then the last mile he stayed strong, conscious that there was a Littledown Harrier not far behind him who would almost certainly overtake him if he dropped the pace.

He was pleased to see that the finish line was before the pier and was extremely surprised as he crossed the finishing line and stopped his watch to see that it was 1:04:19.

Richard Brawn during Bournemouth 10
Richard Brawn did his best to lift the pace after a tough first 4 miles into the wind

Rich has been making some good improvements recently, having set a new half marathon PB at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, a new 10k PB at the Boscombe 10k in November and a new parkrun PB on Christmas Day. He was glad to add a new 10 mile PB to that list of successes.

Another one who doing the Bournemouth 10 as part of a longer training run as part of his London Marathon programme was Tom Paskins.

Tom ran 6 miles at a steady jogging pace before the race began. His plan was then to run the 10 miles of the race at marathon pace with a 1 mile warm down afterwards.

Tom Paskins during Bournemouth 10
Tom Paskins remained disciplined and stuck to running at his marathon pace throughout most of the race

Even though he remained disciplined for the most part and resisted the temptation to go quicker, Tom still crossed the line in 42nd place, posting a time of 1:05:14.

If he’d actually been racing it though, Tom could have gone a lot quicker than that. In the 2016 Bournemouth 10 race, he completed the course in 1:00:53.

The next two BAC members, Adrian Townsend and Pat Robbins, crossed the line at exactly the same time, taking 48th and 49th position with a time of 1:05:43.

Tom Paskins and Pat Robbins on the promenade
Tom Paskins and Pat Robbins were doing the race as part of a longer training run as they prepare for their target races in the coming months

Adrian had been suffering from man flu in the lead up to the race and very nearly didn’t get out of bed. He was glad that he did though and still enjoyed the race, even though he wasn’t able to go on full gas.

He was running much of the race the leading lady, Diana Leggott of Lonely Goat RC. She then dropped him at Boscombe Pier and went on to win the women’s race in a time of 1:05:29.

Adrian Townsend during Bournemouth 10
Adrian Townsend ran a lot of the race with Diana Leggott who finished as 1st lady

As for Pat Robbins, he was another who was running the Bournemouth 10 as part of a longer training run. Pat is currently training for the IAU European 24 Hour Championships that are taking place in Romania on 26/27 May and he will be representing Great Britain.

The 2nd placed lady, Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners, came in a second after Pat to take 50th place overall in 1:05:44. Clare Martin of Purbeck Runners was 3rd female, finishing in 63rd place in 1:07:04.

Pat Robbins during Bournemouth 10
Pat Robbins turns the corner to start heading down to the overcliff road

In the pre-race build up, Trevor Elkins had high hopes for a good time and was looking to finish in around the region of 1:03 or 1:04. He started off running with Rich Brawn as the pair desperately tried to get a good pace going against the extremely resistant easterly winds.

After a quick first mile, the wind soon began to take it’s toll and Trevor dropped back a bit to take some shelter from others in the group they were running with.

The race started to turn pear shaped for Trevor when he got a stitch, forcing him to stop and start walking for a bit. By the time he got going again, the chances of registering a time anywhere near what he wanted were severely hampered.

Trevor Elkins on the promenade
Trevor Elkins set off at a good pace but then got a stitch which hampered his chances of getting the time he was hoping for

Nevertheless, he persevered and battled on through the remainder of the race. The one highlight for Trevor was when he reached the finishing straight and managed to put in an almighty sprint finish to gain a place on the line.

Taking 68th place overall, Trevor‘s finishing time was 1:09:03. Although it wasn’t the time he was looking for, it was still a beneficial run for Trevor, who is currently in training for a 20 mile race he is competing in on 18th March at the New Forest Running Festival.

Trevor Elkins during Bournemouth 10
Trevor Elkins powers his way toward the overcliff road in a bid to make up the time he’d lost after his stoppage

Aiming to record his first sub 70 minute 10 miler, Pawel Surowiec knew he would have a tough task on his hands with the wind coming into play over the first 4 miles. The previous year, Pawel had had his race scuppered by the headwind on the return stretch back from Southbourne to Bournemouth, resulting in him crossing the line in 1 hour 13.

This time he was determined to hit his target though and battled well to sustain a reasonable pace into the headwind along the promenade before turning round and heading back toward Bournemouth.

Pawel Surowiec on the promenade
Pawel Surowiec set out hoping to achieve his target of a sub 70 minute finish

The second half of the race went much better for him this time and he reaped the benefits of the tailwind on his return journey, ultimately crossing the line in 76th place with a time of 1:09:55. Pawel was glad to get the time that he wanted despite the conditions – and in truth, he couldn’t have timed it much better.

Pawel Surowiec during Bournemouth 10
Pawel Surowiec worked hard to maintain a good pace throughout despite the challenging start along the promenade

Having been a Bournemouth AC member for some 25 years now, it was good to see Tony Chutter pulling on the yellow and blue vest again. It was Tony’s first run back after illness.

Tony had been suffering mantle cell lymphoma and had undergone a stem cell transplant as a result. Fortunately he’s now back fit again and is already looking forward to the next race. Completing the course in 1:11:22, Tony took 83rd place in the final standings, marking a very successful comeback race indeed.

Tony Chutter during Bournemouth 10
It was good to see Tony Chutter back in action again after a long lay off through illness

Both running in their first ever 10 mile race, Steve Parsons and Phil Cherrett started off running together and, as it panned out, stayed together for the  majority of the race.

It wasn’t the ideal preparation for Steve as he had to get up at 5am that morning to get to Bournemouth in order to set up the gazebos and the barriers.

At around the half way mark Phil got away from Steve but Steve didn’t panic. He got his head down and kept going and managed to catch up with Phil on the hill up to the clifftop.

Steve Parsons and Phil Cherrett on the promenade
Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons were both competing in their first ever 10 mile race

Once he got past Phil, having the knowledge that Phil was right behind him was enough of a motivation for Steve to keep the pace up.

When they got down onto the seafront, they were both able to pick the pace up and finish strongly. It was only really the last 500m or so that were a real struggle for Steve.

Steve Parsons during Bournemouth 10
Steve Parsons got his head down and prepared to graft all the way back to Bournemouth to hit the target time he wanted

Phil found the increase in pace over the last couple of miles quite tough but he knew he had to dig in and give it everything he had to hit the 1:15 target he’d been hoping for.

Crossing the line in 121st place, Steve stopped the clock at 1:14:35, with Phil coming in 3 places later in 124th with a time of 1:15:03. Considering it was the furthest either of them had gone in a race before, they both did very well and can be proud of their efforts.

Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons during Bournemouth 10
Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons remained close to each other throughout the entire race

Another BAC member who was going for a 75 minute target time was Kirsty Drewett. Originally, she was going to run with Steve and Phil but she didn’t back herself from the start.

After suffering with some breathing problems in the early stages of the race, Kirsty started to panic and she never really got back in full control of her breathing rhythm.

Despite that though, her leg strength was good and she rallied well to complete the course in a superb time of exactly 1 hour 16 minutes. This beat her previous best time set at the Lytchett 10 a couple of weeks prior by almost a minute and a half.

Kirsty finished in 133rd position in the overall standings and she was 13th lady on the day and 5th in the VF35 category. She now has one more race to go in the Imperial Series, which is the Larmer 10. If she can put in another good performance, she could finish quite high up the cumulative results.

Kirsty Drewett during Bournemouth 10
Despite having some breathing problems on the way round, Kirsty Drewett ran well, securing an impressive new PB for herself

The next BAC lady to reach the finish was Tamzin Petersen, who managed a terrific new PB of 1 hour 19 exactly, putting her in 168th overall and 24th female on the day.

Again, Tamzin’s previous best time of 1:20:02 had been set two weeks earlier at the Lytchett 10. The day before the Bournemouth 10, she’d had an attempt at breaking her parkrun PB but that hadn’t gone so well.

As a consequence, she wasn’t going to the race brimming with confidence but on the whole she has been running well lately, as her half marathon PB at Blackmore Vale earlier in the month proved.

Tamzin Petersen during Bournemouth 10
Tamzin Petersen was looking for a sub 80 minute finish in order to secure a new PB

The Bournemouth 10 was a new day though and a new opportunity to make her mark and she did just that. She knew that to get a sub 80 minute finish, she just needed to average quicker than 8 minutes per mile and she is well capable of that.

In fact, she kept her pace very consistent, clocking just under 8 minutes for pretty much every mile and then managing to pick up the pace in the last couple of miles.

The only hairy moment she had was when Rex the dog ran out in front of her, almost sending her tumbling to the ground as she approached the finish. Fortunately, she managed to dodge the over-zealous canine and neither human or animal were harmed.

Tamzin Petersen making a gesture
Despite an unexpected encounter with Rex the dog, Tamzin ran very well to claim a super new PB

Only 17 seconds had passed when Louise Broderick arrived at the finish, registering a time of 1:19:17. That put her in 173rd place overall and 25th lady. This gave her 5th place in the VF45 category.

Louise is an assistant coach with the Junior Development Group on Wednesday nights and helps out with club matters whenever she can but she doesn’t get as much opportunity as she would like to run with the club.

In fact, this was her first race for quite a while so she was pleased with the time. She said she could’ve done with it being a few degrees warmer but she enjoyed the scenery and the sunshine.

The next BAC member to finish was Estelle Slatford, who took 213th place in a time of 1:22:04. That made her 36th lady on the day and 13th in the VF35 category.

Currently in the midst of her training for the London Marathon in April, Estelle was planning to do 7 additional miles after completing the Bournemouth 10 race.

Despite the tough headwind on the way out, Estelle really enjoyed the race and felt pretty good throughout. Her time was a 1 minute 21 second improvement on what she did last year, although of course, the wind was stronger then.

After the race she went on to do an extra 5 and a half miles, so all things considered, it was a very good day’s training for Estelle. She ran most the race with Louise Price, who finished 220th in a time of 1:22:45. This made her 40th lady on the day and 12th in the VF45 category.

Louise Price and Estelle Slatford during Bournemouth 10
Louise Price and Estelle Stratford ran the majority of the race together

A couple of days before the race Louise found out that she is anaemic, which explained why she’s been struggling with fatigue recently.

Off the back of that discovery, she did consider not running but decided to give it a go anyway to see what happened. Although she was a little disappointed with the time, ultimately, she was pleased just to get round.

The final BAC member to cross the line was Julian Oxborough, who came in 540th place in a time of 2:05:44. Julian was targeting a finish of around the 2 hour mark, so he wasn’t too far off what he was hoping for.

Julian Oxborough on the promenade
It was a return to a race that he competed in back in the 1990’s for Julian Oxborough

Now residing in Somerset, Julian still represents BAC whenever he does any races but he very rarely makes it to any in the Bournemouth area as it’s such a long way to travel.

For this one though, he booked a hotel in Southbourne and stayed there the night before. He managed to meet a few of his BAC teammates whom he had spoken to in messages but never actually seen in person before.

Julian Oxborough on the overcliff road
Julian powers his way along the overcliff road from Southbourne to Boscombe

The course was still the same as when Julian did it back in the 1990’s when he was in his 20’s. After a long spell out of running, Julian is now getting back into it and is working to get his fitness back, whilst also just enjoying the experience.

After the first 4 miles, Julian was feeling a little sick, but that subsided in the end and he was absolutely determined to make it to the finish. He said afterwards that he loved every minute of the race and appreciated the outstanding support he got on the way round.

Julian Oxborough approaches the finish
Julian approaches the finishing straight after a tough but enjoyable race

In terms of the team competition – Steve Way, Rob McTaggart and Josh Cole won the 1st team prize for the men and Anthony Clark, Jez Bragg and Stu Nicholas won the 2nd team prize. The trio of Sean Edwards, Lee Dempster and Tom Andrew of Lytchett Manor Striders were 3rd in the men’s team competition.

In terms of the ladies team prizes, Caroline Stanzel, Paula Barker and Kelly Amos of Poole Runners won 1st place. Maria Everett, Heather Khoshnevis and Jenny Beckett of Littledown Harriers were 2nd and Alexandra Door, Olivia Hetreed and Stella Campbell of Egdon Heath Harriers were 3rd.

Phil, Steve and Pawel after Bournemouth 10 race
Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons hit their target of a 75 minute finish whilst Pawel Surowiec just dipped under the 70 minute mark

In the Dorset Road Race League, Bournemouth AC secured a resounding victory in the men’s team competition, with Littledown Harriers taking 2nd and Lytchett Manor Striders 3rd. The BAC ladies finished in 4th place in the women’s first division.

It was a glorious day for Bournemouth AC, all things considered and huge plaudits go to all those that competed. However, the most credit has to go Ian White for organising the race in such an impeccable manner and to all his helpers who got up at the crack of dawn to get things organised and ensure the race went smoothly.

Whether they were marshalling, giving out the numbers, looking after the baggage, setting up the gazebos and guard rails, filling up the water stations or just doing anything they could to help, it was a fantastic team effort by all concerned and their contributions made the day the monumental success that it was.

BAC team after Bournemouth 10 race
Some of the Bournemouth AC contingent bask in the sunshine after completing the race, although it was still rather chilly at that point it has to be said!