BAC stars sizzle in the searing London sun

Rob McTaggart races along in London Marathon
Rob McTaggart was one of 13 Bournemouth AC troopers out to show what they could do in the showpiece event of the running calendar that is the London Marathon

Usually in the lead up to the London Marathon there is a real buzz of excitement and anticipation amongst the athletes taking part as they brace themselves for an attempt at a new PB, or for others maybe for a first attempt at the 26.2 mile distance.

This time round it was slightly different though. All the pre-race discussion was centred around how hot it is going to be and how tough it is going to be whilst out there in the sweltering heatwave that had suddenly swept over the country.

The soaring temperatures were unusual for this time of year and forced many of those taking part to rethink their race strategies and adjust their target times to allow for the additional strain this was going to put on the body.

It even meant that many of those who had planned to run in costumes of some sort to raise money for charity had had to discard their outfits as it was simply just too hot to even attempt whilst dressed up.

Amongst the Bournemouth AC members though, many still had high hopes of a good time. Steve Way was in excellent form, coming into the race off the back of wins in the Bournemouth 10 and the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon, as well as a 5000 metres victory on the track in the Southern Athletics League.

Rob McTaggart is in the form of his life and was hopeful of a new marathon PB after his spectacular 2:28 performance last year. Tag was 2nd to Steve in the Bournemouth 10 and hammered home a magnificent PB of 70:25 in the Big Half Marathon in London on 4th March.

But it turned out even they, along with everyone else, would surely have to revise their targets in the wake of the ferocious heat they were about to throw themselves into.

This year’s race was started off by Her Majesty The Queen, who appeared on the big screen in live footage from Windsor Castle. She pressed a big red button which triggered the klaxon to sound at the start line in Blackheath. Then the masses were off, led out by the elite men, including Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele and the great Brit hope, Mo Farah.

Just behind them, were the very fast club runners, including Steve Way and Rob McTaggart, amongst many others. Steve was the first BAC member to reach the 5k point, arriving in a 16:46. Tag was right behind him though, going through in 16:50.

Steve crossed the 10k point in 33:47 with Tag following in in 34:05. The pair were both pretty close to the front of the field in terms of the non-elites as they motored past the Cutty Sark in Greenwhich.

Steve Way in the London Marathon
Steve Way was leading the charge from a BAC perspective as he reached the 10k point

Steve was still marginally ahead of Tag when they reached the 15k point, with Steve arriving in 51:07 and Tag in 51:19. It was developing into quite a race between the two of them.

By the time they reached the 20k point, Tag had overtaken Steve, arriving in 1:08:32 with Steve going through 6 seconds later. Tag hit the half way point in the race in 1:12:10 and Steve in 1:12:17.

Rob McTaggart digs in at the London Marathon
Tag had overtaken Steve by the time they reached the half way point in the race

At this juncture they were both going pretty well, although Steve was around a minute off his target pace. Steve has been having some issues with his glutes recently and he felt like they were struggling right from the outset.

Over the next 5k, Steve dropped off his target pace quite considerably and when they got to the 25k point, Tag had begun to pull away a bit. He arrived at 1:25:46 with Steve coming in at 1:26:03.

Steve then took the decision to back off a bit as he didn’t want to risk putting his training for the forthcoming week into jeopardy. By the 30k point there was a significant gap between the two, with Tag going over at 1:43:27 and Steve arriving in 1:45:19.

Steve Way with a small group in the London Marathon
Suffering with glute issues, Steve decided he would have to ease up on the pace as he reached the 25k point

Tag was seriously going for broke now and determined not to let relentless sunshine ruin his time. Before the race he’d labelled it as “Operation 2:26 or hospital”, demonstrating how he was prepared to put everything on the line for this race. And that was exactly what he did.

He arrived at the 35k point in 2:02:07, giving him the impetuous to keep rattling out the speed for the remainder of the race. He wasn’t quite on course for 2:28, but in these conditions, that was totally understandable. Again, targets had to be revised to give some sense of reality.

Rob McTaggart in with a group at the London Marathon
Tag was going all out to defy the intense heat and was blasting round the course at a phenomenal speed

Having already abandoned any hopes of hitting his target time, Steve had decided to just enjoy the last 10 miles and took to a bit of showboating or playing to the crowds as he cruised on toward the finish at the Mall.

Steve Way milking the crowd at the London Marathon
Steve some time out to engage with the crowd and soak up the atmosphere in the latter stages of the race

The latter stages of the race were going to be very different for Tag. In fact, the last 10k was an utter death march. He’d drank no fluid throughout the race and must have been severely dehydrated by this point. All he could think about was getting to the line though, such was his focus and desire to do well.

Robert McTaggart zooming round the London Marathon course
Tag really had to dig deep into his reserves in the final stages of the race and showed tremendous heart

Tag arrived at the finish line in front of Buckingham Place in a quite incredible time of 2 hours 30 minutes and 40 seconds. Given the conditions he was running in, that was an unbelievable effort.

That put him in an amazing 31st place out of a 40,158 finishers. It was a monumental achievement, eclipsing what he did last year in the London Marathon when he came in 71st.

Indeed, you’d have to say it was the kind of conditions where only a true  warrior could succeed and Tag had certainly proved to be one of those.

Rob McTaggart pounds the London roads
Tag reached the finishing line in an incredible time of 2:30:40 to assume 31st position

Unfortunately though, that wasn’t the end of the story for Tag though. With typical enthusiasm, he was straight on the beers after the race was over. Having not drank any liquid throughout the race, that was always going to end badly and resulted in him passing out and thus spending the night in Euston Hospital suffering with chronic dehydration and sunstroke and just generally, being a wally.

If ever a race day could epitomise Tag though then this was it. He works hard with his running and is prepared to give everything he has for the cause, no much how much it hurts.

But by the same token, he also likes to play hard as well though and loves getting out on the beers. Someone perhaps needs to teach him though that alcohol and hydration are two very different things. At least he’d kept his promise though of 2:26 or hospital.

Steve Way indulges in a bit of showboating at the London Marathon
Steve arrived at the finish still whipping the crowd up into a frenzy as he approached the line

Despite his showboating and frequently stopping to entertain the crowds, Steve still finished in 85th place in a time most could still only dream of, crossing the line in 2:36:35. That put him 10th in the 40-44 category.

Next up for Steve it’s the North Dorset Village Marathon as he’ll continue to bang out the big mileage in preparation for the Comrades Marathon in June.

Steve Way goes across the finish line in the 2018 London Marathon
Crossing the line in 2:36:35, Steve still took 85th place in the standings despite all the showboating

Another person who did have a good run on the day, despite the hindrance of the heat was Craig Palmer, who finished in 2:34:45. That gave Craig, who was running for his first claim club of Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers, 66th place overall, so a superb run from him.

Craig runs for Bournemouth AC as 2nd claim and competed in the Hampshire League Cross Country last season. This was an improvement on last year for Craig in terms of placings, having finished in 98th in the 2017 race. Of course, his time was faster last year, but practically everyone’s would have been.

Craig Palmer zooms along in the London Marathon
Craig Palmer had a great run, finishing in a time of 2:34:45

With his target race of the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k aleady done and dusted, there was no major pressure on Ant Clark going into the marathon. His initial target was 2:35 to 2:40 but after going through the half way point in 1:17, he decided and to push and just to concentrate of getting home in one piece.

Ant Clark hits the streets for the London Marathon
Ant Clark was still feeling after effects from his incredible 100k performance three weeks prior

Ant was still feeling the after effects from his amazing run at the Anglo Celtic Plate three weeks earlier, where he took 2nd place, completing the full 100k in just over 7 hours.

In the end, Ant finished the marathon in a still very commendable time of 2:41:58, which put him in 187th place and 20th in the 40-44 category.

Ant Clark in action at the London Marathon
Ant made it to the line in a still very impressive time of 2:41:58

The next man to cross the line in the yellow and blue of BAC was Simon Way, who registered a time of 2:54:32. Again, if you take the conditions into account, this was actually a very good day on the road for Simon.

He was aiming to complete the distance in 2:44, so he was about 10 minutes off where he was expecting to be. That can almost certainly be put down to the heat. In reality, after battling the sizzling sun, he was glad just to finish. His time put him in 649th place and 18th in the 50-54 category.

Simon Way on the left in the London Marathon
Simon Way had a very good run despite the tough conditions he was up against

It was actually only 21 seconds off the time he completed the London Marathon in last year and that was in much better running conditions, so there’s some signs of good progress from Simon there. Last year he finished 1,207th as well, so again, he made a vast improvement on that with this year’s run.

Simon Way running well in the London Marathon
Finishing in an excellent time of 2:54:32, Simon came in 649th and 18th his age group

The next BAC member to reach the Mall was Graeme Miller – and he was followed shortly after by Sanjai Sharma. The pair, who often train together, finished within a minute of one another, with Graeme clocking a time of 2:57:39 and Sanjai coming in at 2:58:35.

Neither Graeme or Sanjai would have been over the moon with those times under normal circumstances, but given the tough conditions, they had had to adjust their target times accordingly. It’s something that an experienced marathon runner might be able to do better than one who is perhaps more of a novice.

Originally, Graeme had planned to set out at 6:25 pace, which would have given him a finishing time of 2:49, but by the time he’d gone through the first 5k, he knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Graeme Miller progressing well in the London Marathon
Graeme Miller quickly realised he’d have to adjust his original plan and target time

He then made the shift to plan B, which was to finish in a sub 3. That he did manage to accomplish, which is quite an achievement given the carnage that he’d seen out on the course.

Many runners succumbed to the heat that day, either hanging over  the barriers in exhaustion, or just having completely collapsed. It was an incredibly tough day out there.

Graeme‘s time put him in 864th place and he was 79th in the 45-49 category. In terms of placings, that was a vast improvement on last year where he came 1,448th.

Graeme Miller with his finisher's medal and t-shirt
Graeme was pleased to get another sub 3 under his belt and that was quite an achievement on a day like that

Sanjai also had to switch from his original plan and after assessing the conditions, he decided to hold back and take a few precautions with hydration and electrolytes.

Fortunately it paid off and Sanjai was happy with the time he got, which put him in 946th place overall and a  very impressive 6th in the 55-59 category.

Sanjai Sharma remains focused as he progresses
Having altered his expectations due to the heat, Sanjai Sharma was focused on a sub 3 finish

He did find it hard to compromise though on the time he was aiming for as it’s a shame when you’ve put so much hard training in to get a particular time. That’s the way the cookie crumbles though. Sometimes the conditions just don’t play ball.

The run would have still helped Sanjai lay the ghosts of the previous year to rest though, where he got cramp in both legs near the end and had to stop and walk to finish line, scuppering his chances of achieving his goal.

Sanjai Sharma going well in London Marathon
Sanjai’s time of 2:58:35 gave him a sense of redemption after the difficulties he had in a latter stages last year

Finishing in a stellar time of 3:06:27, Tom Paskins was delighted with the run he had, given the difficult conditions. He loved the experience, although it was the second year in a row he’d run a marathon in blisteringly hot conditions after Boston last year.

Tom Paskins about to start the London Marathon
Tom Paskins prepared for another marathon in searingly hot conditions

In fact, his finishing time at London this year was also identical to his finishing time in Boston as well, which is a rather spooky turn of events. Unless of course, he planned it!

Taking 1,587th place, Tom enjoyed a couple of pints of home brewed London Pride after the race to help him re-hydrate and after negotiating the sweltering heat, he’d certainly earned them!

Tom Paskins after completing the London Marathon
Tom was very pleased with his time of 3:06:27, an identical time to what he did at Boston last year

Needless to say, it wasn’t really a day for a PB and it’s fairly certain that no one would have been expecting one on the day of what turned out to be the hottest London Marathon ever, with temperatures reaching highs of 24 degrees. That didn’t stop Damian Boyle though in his quest.

Damian’s previous best was set at Dorchester last year where he came in 3:14:08. There is a back story to this though, which is that Damian was originally planning to go for a sub 3 at London this year.

He then went and accidentally signed up for a 50 mile ultra in Snowdonia, as you do, so that became the priority. He figured, blowing up in London would be a lot less painful than not being fully prepared for two ascents up Mount Snowdon.

Sensibly, he then adjusted his marathon target accordingly to put him in a situation where he would have been happy with a small PB. So the target became to better the time he did at Dorchester.

Looking back on the race, he recalls how it was good, then not so good, then absolutely awful, then good again. It was a real roller-coaster of emotion that saw him experience the joy in taking part in something so huge on such a glorious day and experiencing his all-time running highlight of crossing Tower Bridge.

Then came the realisation that it wasn’t a 10k party and it was going to become hard work. That was then followed by 8 miles of “this isn’t fun any more”, although he was still faring rather better than a lot of the fellow runners, walkers or collapsers that were around him at this stage.

Normally the “good again” feeling comes right after the finish, but this time it took Damian until he got to the pub for that to return.  His finishing time was an almighty 3:12:30, giving him a PB of just over 1 and half minutes and putting him in 2,140th place overall.

Damian said he’ll probably look back fondly on the whole day once his ears stop ringing from the noise of the crowd. Judging by the shouts he was hearing, it seemed like everyone was called Dave!

Damian Boyle shifts through the gears in the London Marathon
Damien ran well to secure a brilliant new PB of 3:12:30

After a relatively non-existent build up, struggling with a cold for most of January and then struggling to get back into training throughout February and March, Nick Kenchington had all but given up on doing the marathon this year.

It was only in the two weeks leading up to the race that he had a change of heart, giving into the pressure of knowing that there were so many people out there who would have loved to be running and they wouldn’t have believed he would turn down the opportunity.

Nick had qualified for the London Marathon after achieving a Good For Age time of 3:13:11 at the North Dorset Village Marathon last year.

Knowing that there was no way he was really race fit, Nick made a conscious effort to run at a realistic pace. Having a previous experience of blowing up in the London Marathon back in 1996, there was no way he was going to push himself beyond a comfortable state.

He took on lots of water during the race and poured any residual over himself to try and stay cool. Despite the lack of training though and the extremely tough conditions, Nick did himself proud, crossing the line in a superb time of 3:18:26. That put him in 2,768th place and 59th in the 55-59 category.

Another who had had a less the optimal build up to the race was Paul Chapman. He was going into it off the back of only three weeks worth of training so he knew it was never going to be a PB day.

He went through 10k in just under 3 hour pace but then his calf started twitching. His calf then went fully at 11 miles and it was painful to push off, so he jogged in for a 3:30 finish.

Given his lack of pace and effort in the second half of the race, he was able to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the day and was glad to avoid the sheer brutality of trying to get a fast time in such testing temperatures. Paul‘s time of 3:30:29 put him in 4,421st position.

When a man who has done so many different marathons across the continent says the London Marathon is the best in the world, you take notice. And as everyone knows, Pete Thompson certainly has the experience to give an informed opinion in that area.

He simply loves the London Marathon though and does genuinely put it at the top of the list. Although the heat caused many problems on the day, it definitely brought the crowds out in force and they did not disappoint.

Pete set off with his friend Tom and the plan was just to enjoy the race without focusing too much on time and just to be sensible in the heat.

As the pair drifted along, stealing jelly babies from children and, at one point, being hosed down by the fire brigade, their spirits were high. They then saw Tom’s family and then Pete’s which sent them into the second half of the race with a real boost.

The second half was a tough slog but they made it to the finish line, with Pete clocking a time of 3:32:54. That put him in 4,754th place. It wasn’t really about times or placings for Pete though. It was purely about enjoying the experience.

Pete Thompson and his friend Tom after the London Marathon
Pete Thompson ran the race with his friend Tom and they both enjoyed the experience and revelled in the atmosphere

It was, however, a stark reminder of the challenge that Pete has ahead of him when he embarks upon his challenge of running the entire 2,069 mile route of the Tour de France in 70 days.

That equates to 27,000 ft of climbing and averages out at 30 miles per day. It’s going to be an extraordinarily tough task for Pete but he’s doing it to raise money and awareness for mental health charities. That’s certainly a sobering thought for anyone who found the London Marathon tough.

Pete Thompson shows off his finisher's medal
Out of all the marathons he’s done, London is still Pete’s absolute favourite

There were a couple of BAC members who unfortunately didn’t make it to end in the London Marathon. They were Adrian Townsend and Paul Dixon-Box.

Paul was going well at the half way stage, registering a time of 1:25:22. Unfortunately he was feeling sick though and pulled out after the 25k point. He’s unsure whether to put in down to lack of preparation, lack of racing or just not really knowing what pace to run at. He’s convinced it wasn’t directly due to the heat though.

It was a bit of a disaster for Adrian, as he picked up a bug a few days before the race. He didn’t feel too clever at breakfast but headed down to the start line any way to give it a go.

At the beginning he felt okay but he then began to suffer with stomach cramps. He tried going at a slower pace but still felt grim. He ended up just going slower and slower until he almost keeled over at the half way stage. At that point, he was left with no choice but to abandon.

Adrian Townsend at the London Marathon
Despite feeling unwell in the lead up to the race, since it was the London Marathon, Adrian Townsend felt compelled to give it a go

He was really gutted it panned out that way but it was definitely the right decision for him to pull out before being carried out. He’ll get other opportunities in future, no doubt.

All things considered though, it was a great day for those who came out to watch and be part of such a great event and especially rewarding for those who were able to make it to the finish.

To demonstrate such great resolve in conditions as tough as they were is a true testament to the courage, desire and determination of all those who succeeded. Each and every one of them deserves a medal. And a t-shirt too of course.

Graeme Miller shows off the guns in the London Marathon
All of those who made it to the finish deserves huge plaudits in what must have been the most gruelling but possibly the most rewarding London Marathon ever







Jez gets his 100k encore at Belvès

Jez Bragg goes in the Belvès 100k
After his attempt at the UK 100k Championships had been scuppered by a stomach bug, Jez was looking to make his mark at the French National Championships instead

It was a cruel twist of fate that saw Jez Bragg succumb to a severe stomach bug just 24 hours before he was due to set off on his target race of the year, the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k.

He was left virtually incapacitated but still managed to drag himself to the start line, not wanting to miss out on the race he’d been training so hard for or the opportunity to represent England.

Amazingly, even though he was clearly in a bad way, Jez managed to run 23 and a half miles of the 63 mile race before being forced to pull out. He simply had nothing left in his body to give.

It was a massive disappointment for Jez, but he was determined to bounce back. He was now left with the prediction of finding a suitable 100k race that he could do instead.

Since he’d put in all the hard graft in training to get himself into probably the best shape he’s been in in years, he simply had to put it to good use. Cue the French National 100k Championships at Belvès.

It was the right place at the right time for Jez, and with it being the French National Championships, there was a pretty good chance it would be the right level of competition as well to help push him onto a decent time.

The course was really beautiful and was one big loop, so completely different to the 2 lap circuit he would have had to negotiate 32 times at the Anglo Celtic Plate.

The first half of the race went to plan for Jez and he was able to keep to a pace of around 6:40 m/m. At the half way stage he was on around 3 hours 30 minutes, so pretty much bang on target. He was hoping to be able to hold onto that pace but when it reached the middle of the day, the heat suddenly built up.

With the sun streaming down and no shade to hide in, Jez began to get extremely hot. The temperature soared to 32 degrees and all he wanted to do was jump in the Dordogne River, which the course followed for the most part. He was sticking his head in the sponge buckets at the aid stations to soak himself but within a mile he was bone dry again.

Jez Bragg takes on the Belves 100k
At the half way stage Jez was bang on course to finish close to 7 hours but as temperatures rose, the searing heat began to hamper his progress

Most of the French runners had accompanying cyclists with drinks on hand and water to cool them down. Jez had to make do with bottles that he had placed at the aid stations. Most of the time they were left in the sun though and by the time he got to them they were too hot to drink.

That made it extremely difficult for Jez to get the right level of hydration and certainly put him at something of a disadvantage against his French adversaries.

All these were contributing factors to a drop in pace in the second half of the race for Jez. But despite the unrelenting heat and the hilly nature of the course, Jez was determined to make it to the end.

He wound up crossing the finish line in a time of 7 hours 47 minutes and 42 seconds. That put him a quite incredible 4th place overall. This was a huge achievement for Jez, especially given the fact that he’d only recently recovered from his stomach bug and taking the extremely difficult conditions into consideration.

Because the first three athletes were in the French National Championships, Jez took 1st place in the open race, which was for anyone not competing in the French National Champs. He received a pretty spectacular trophy for that as well, so it was a truly great result for Jez in the end.

Jez Bragg after completing the Belves 100k
Jez did remarkably well to get to the line in a highly commendable time of 7:47:42

The only thing he wasn’t completely happy about was the time. He’d taken 4 hours 17 minutes to complete the second half of the race, leaving him with noticeable positive split. Plus 100k runners at the level Jez is at only really judge their performances by the times they post.

The benchmark is always to get to the holy grail of a sub 7 hour race. Jez has actually done that once before, back in 2009 at the UK Athletics 100k Championships. It’s a target that is extremely tough to attain though and only the very best of the best can do it.

Given his current level of fitness though, Jez feels he should have been close to the 7 hour mark. Nevertheless though, it was still a very good run and no doubt he’ll look back on it fondly in the weeks and months to come.

If recent races have taught us anything it’s that there is no legislation for the weather. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much training you’ve done. If it’s a baking hot day for instance, that is always going to take it’s toll.

On the whole though, Jez enjoyed the race and it was great for him to see some of the area. The local people he met along the way were very welcoming and were extremely proud of their race. It was the 42nd time the race had been run and it had attracted a field of over 500 runners, of which a total of 385 made it to the finish.

Jez Bragg picks up trophy for 1st in open race at Belves 100k
Jez brought back the trophy for winning the Open race, which was for those not competing in the French National Championships



Trev’s got 99 problems but a beach ain’t one

Trev Elkins in the Race the Tide Beach Race 5k
Trevor Elkins hit the sand for the Race the Tide Beach Race 5k from Bournemouth Pier

Although he was due to be competing in the 10k race at the ABP Southampton event, in a last-minute change of plan, Trevor Elkins decided to opt for the Race The Tide Run from Bournemouth Pier instead. And it turned out to be a decision he would not regret.

The Race The Tide Run was a Beach Race over a 5k distance. It is actually classed as an obstacle race, due to the requirement to manoeuvre over the groynes after each section of beach.

Trev’s late change of plan was brought about by the after effects he was feeling from his day out on the previous day when he went to Paultons Park for his niece’s birthday.

That entailed plenty of rollercoasters and playing around and he was thinking that it wouldn’t be the best preparation for a fast 10k. As a result, he ended up playing it safe and going for the 5k Beach Race.

The route for the Beach Race was along the shoreline of Bournemouth Beach heading in the Sandbanks direction towards Branksome Beach before turning back. The 5k was a one lap course, starting and finishing on the west side of the pier.

The low tide provided reasonably hard sand to run on. The race featured a number of groynes that had to be negotiated. Most of those were no more than 2 to 3 feet high though and could easily be jumped or stepped over. The race was organised by Offbeat Events.

With virtually the entire race being sand, choosing the right footwear was imperative. At first, Trev was going go for his ‘feather light’ Asics Piranhas.

After Google Earthing the route though, he realised he’d need a slightly heavier, stronger shoe for the climbs and rocks down at Branksome Chine. In the end he went for his Nike Downshifter 7’s, which turned out to be ideal.

Trev was out of the blocks quickly once the race got underway and registered a very quick first kilometre. He decided to temper his pace a bit after that fearing that he might get a stitch. He was building up a good lead though, pulling away from the chase pack by around 30 seconds per kilometre.

Trevor Elkins hurdles the groyne in Race the Tide Beach Race
Looking at how he leaps over the groyne here, perhaps Trev Elkins should be recruited for the hurdles

By the time he crossed the finish line, Trev had built up a lead of over 2 minutes on his closest adversary, crossing the line in a super quick time of 20 minutes and 18 seconds. It also turned out to be a new course record, which Trevor was very pleased about.

Laurence Stevenson of Littledown Harriers took 2nd place in 22:21, with Nick Sims claiming 3rd in a time of 22:35. Trev was particularly pleased to finish 3 minutes ahead of Ross Wayne of Purbeck Runners who came in 4th in 23:25. Ross is a low 18-minute parkrunner and was beknown to Trevor from other low profile, short distance races in the past where the pair have duelled for a trophy.

This was to be Trevor’s day though and he took home the trophy and for the glory of victory. Well, the trophy is in the post actually, but either way, he won it and that’s the main thing.

Trev is now hitting a good patch of form after he’d previously finished 13th in the Bournemouth Bay 10k in a superb time of 38:43. No doubt they’ll be more some more good performances to come for Trev as he builds up to his target race of the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May.

Trev Elkins on his way to victory in Race the Tide Beach Race
It was a convincing win in the end for Trev Elkins, who had an advantage of over two minutes over his nearest rival

Jacek battles the elements at Boston Marathon

Jacek Cieluszecki before the Boston Marathon
Jacek Cieluszecki made the trip across the pond to take part in the Boston Marathon

As most of you will be well aware, it takes a lot to knock Jacek Cieluszecki off his stride. Whether it’s racing round Poole parkrun at sub 15-and-a-half-minute pace, assuming pole position in local races or jostling with the world’s top mountain ultra-runners in the Alps, Jacek usually tends to excel and there are very few people who can rival him. At the Boston Marathon in eastern Massachusetts, USA, JC finally met his match. And it turned out to be the weather!

As Jacek and his wife Ela lined up for the Boston Athletics Association 5k on Saturday 14th April, they could have scarcely believed what was about to happen in a couple of days’ time when Jacek was set to take to the start line for the Marathon race.

The sun was shining and conditions were great for the 5k race. Jacek and Ela cruised round the course, taking it all in and enjoying the experience. In more ways than one, it proved to be the calm before the storm. Ela crossed the line in 1,636th place with a time of 24 minutes 28 seconds with Jacek following in a couple of seconds later in 1,651st. This was out of a field of 8,668 people.

By the time it reached Patriots Day, on the Monday, the weather had taken a significant turn for the worse. It was now raining hard and the temperature was bitterly cold at around 0, possibly 1 degree. It was also extremely windy, making the conditions that much more unbearable.

Jacek Cieluszecki gets ready for the Boston Marathon
On the days in the lead up to the race the conditions were good and the sun was out but that was all about the change dramatically

But Jacek wasn’t prepared to allow the inclement weather to deter him and he lined up at the start along with 29,977 others. For the first 10k, Jacek’s pace was okay and he thought everything would be fine. Then suddenly he started feeling cold. He was actually shivering during the run, which was something that had never happened to him before. It was very strange.

Jacek was used to getting up early on a Sunday morning and thrashing out a session over the Purbeck in the cold and wet, but this was something very different. He just couldn’t get warm and his body just completely shut down.

At around the 15k point, he was extremely close to abandoning the race. He desperately did not want a DNF against his name for the Boston Marathon though. He simply had to soldier on. Apparently, it was the worst weather they’d had at the Boston Marathon in 30 years.

At the start area in Hopkington, there were even some patches of snow that had formed. In fact, the start area resembled the kind of scenes would expect to find at Glastonbury festival, only minus the beer and the cider. There was mud everywhere following the continuous downpours.

The whole way round they were running into a headwind which, combined with the heavy rain, kept the body in a freezing cold state. At one point Jacek even asked one of the marshals for his poncho. He was actually begging for it, but the marshal wasn’t keen on getting soaking wet either so duly declined.

Somehow Jacek managed to continue with the race and, after an incredibly tough slog, he made to finish line. Given the ordeal he’d just been through, his time of 2 hours 29 minutes and 45 seconds was actually pretty good.

Jacek Cieluszecki in thermal poncho after Boston Marathon
At least Jacek finally got a poncho once he had crossed the line following a long battle with torrential rain, freezing cold and a biting headwind

That put him in 566th place overall, so still very high up when you consider that there were almost 30,000 people in the field. He was 43rd in his age category. After the race JC concluded that it was the toughest road marathon he’s ever done in his life!

Putting it down as a learning experience, despite the horrific conditions and although he was disappointed with the end result, Jacek doesn’t regret doing it. It was character building if nothing else.

Just to rub salt into the wound, the next day the sun came back out and the weather was almost perfect. It was 10 degrees and there was a tailwind. It was a rather cruel turn of events. When he spoke to the locals about it they said “Welcome to New England”!

It was the first time JC had ever been to America and after spending 6 days in Boston, he then spent 3 days in New York where he enjoyed some fantastic runs in Central Park. There is one plus point about his Boston Marathon experience though. It won’t make those cold, rainy mornings on the Purbeck seem so bad now.

Jacek Cieluszecki prepares to take on Boston Marathon
It was destined to be an unforgettable experience for JC and he classed it as his toughest ever road marathon to date


BAC Team Rise to the Occasion at the SAL, 2nd Place in Yeovil!

The greatly anticipated track & field season has finally kicked off! The first SAL match of the season took place on Saturday 14 April 2018 at Yeovil Olympiads Athletic Club.

The Southern Athletics League (SAL) is the area track and field league for clubs in the SEAA region who wish to compete in joint (male & female) teams. There are 3 divisions and the top 2 teams at the end of the season will be promoted to the higher division.  BAC were last season’s Division 3 WINNERS and subsequently promoted to Division 2.  They welcomed the challenge and thrived against the higher level of competition.

Team spirits were high and enthusiasm flowed throughout the day, enhancing the true talent of BAC, not only the athletes but our outstanding officials, coaches and helpers.  The men and women’s team pulled together to cover almost every single event throughout the day.  They were rewarded with an outstanding 2nd place spot, just 21 points behind Yeovil. Oxford City AC and Portsmouth were behind with 159 and 139 points respectively.

Yeovil                    223
Bournemouth  202
Oxford                 159
Portsmouth      129

The day started with a promisingly full coach and the usual buzz of the men and women’s teams. on board  BAC had the largest squad out for many a year and the weather was fantastic with the welcome sunshine to top things off.   The match kicked off on the field with the throw events at midday.

Women’s Hammer: The first to hit the stage and win both A and the B string was the talented Danielle Broom and Pheobe Dowson in the hammer.  This was a great start to the day and the bar was set high with top class performances against a strong field of athletes. Dannielle (18) threw a PB of 57.42m, almost 10m beyond the next competitor and set a new club and county senior record! Dannielle is now 2nd ranked junior in Great Britain, a great achievement.

Pheobe threw 43.72m to win by over 20m! Later in the day Pheobe went on to win the discus with a PB of 52.48m and another senior club record and is now ranked 2nd in Great Britain. Pheobe was selected for the 2018 European Winter Throws championships, finishing 4th in an International field.  Evidently her performance continues to improve.

Throwers Danielle Broom, Isabella Shepherd Pheobe Dowson

Congratulations to Pheobe and Danielle for setting BAC Senior Club records.
Pheobe Dowson 52.48m Discus 2nd ranked in Great Britain.
Danielle Broom 57.42m Hammer 2nd ranked junior in Great Britain.

Men’s hammer throwers, Dan Brunsden and Andrew Sheerin stepped up to the mark with 2nd place in both A and B string against some tough competition. Dan’s 42.43m was close to the leader by a big cats’ whisker -1.8m. Andrew threw 26.56m to secure 2nd place behind Yeovil’s athlete.  Men’s Team Leader, Andrew also holds the British Masters Indoor Silver medal for Hammer and bronze for the weight throw.

Shot Putt
Danielle Broom 11.38m, and Isabella Shepherd 7.90m rose to the occasion against some tough competition and managed to come 2nd to Portsmouth.  Isabella also threw well in discus 21.62m and hammer 36.09m.

The men’s shot putt was also a great success with winning throws by Dan Brunsden, 15.19m and Andrew Sherrin, 10.79m.

A rose between two thorns, Andy Sherrin’s Shot Putt. Spot the ball?!

Women’s Pole Vault: Harriet Slade and Nikki Sandell competed in the Pole Vault to grab well-earned points for the club. Nikki jumped a PB of 1.90m and Harriet a respectable 1.20m as a first timer. Well volunteered Harriet!

Nikki clearing the bar, by a mere 10 metres!
Harriet enjoying her Pole Vault success.

Men’s Pole Vault saw a fantastic win by James Lelliott with 2.70m SB and a close 2nd place PB for new comer Steve Cox with 2.10m. Steve jumped the same height as the B string winner but only evaded top spot due to a missed attempt, well done to Steve! Steve also took his hand to the Discus (non-scoring) although he almost didn’t make it to the circle. The officials tried to stop him crossing the track to join the other throwers despite his efforts to convince them he was there to compete. Perhaps they weren’t expecting a slim, long distance runner to rock up to throw things?

A fabulous sea of yellow, blue throwers.

400mH: Steve Cox also nailed the 400H for the first time and brought in the points as the only representative in this event and every point counts in these matches. Steve slotted into the BAC team very well. He’s been bitten by the BAC track & field bug and is enthusiastic about improving his performance and competing at the next SAL match at KP in May.   We look forward to welcoming our women’s hurdler/sprinters, Danielle Marshall and Janet Dickinson back for the next match. Janet was busy officiating and helping the day run smoothly.

Steve’s excellent effort, flying over the hurdles.

Middle Distance:
Next up, the middle distance runners took to the track. The events were covered by Nikki Sandell, Harriet Slade and Joy Wright.

The women’s 800m race was highly competitive pushing Harriet Slade to achieve a much deserved PB of 2:27.60 (from 2:29) in 3rd place and Joy Wright just behind in 2:31.05, 2nd B string.

Harriet & Joy

The Women’s 1500m points were in the bag with Nikki Sandell in 5:34.35 and Joy in 5:39.43. Nikki has been plagued by injury over the winter season, yet managed to bag three PBs and win the 3,000m B, in 11:36.13.  That’s the determination on our team!

Nikki Harriet going for the win in the 3000m

Harriet was delighted with her great performance, achieving a PB in every event; 3000m, 10.55.26 from in 11.18.8, 2nd place and 2000m steeplechase 1st place, a huge PB of 8.03.15 from 8.30.3. Congratulations to Harriet as she is now ranked 4th steeplechaser in Great Britain.

Harriet at the water station, thirsty anyone?

5000m Men
Top points were up for grabs in the men’s 5000m and BAC snatched them with impressive 1st place performances in both A & B string. Ultra-runner, Steven Way clinched it with a convincing win in 15:39.21, making him the fastest athlete for his age group in GB this year!

Roy Long won in 18:26.21, ranking him top 10 in GB (age group).

Steve Way out on his own pushing hard over 5k.
Roy Long, is strong in the 5k

Men’s 800m: Back to the 800m with the men’s performance. This included a great race execution by Lewis Sainval (U20) 2:02.15 and Lewis Bartlett, 2:14.27 PB both bringing in the points for 3rd place. It certainly made it easier for the supporters to cheer them on at the same time by continually shouting “Come on Lewis!”, although there was a third Lewis in the race from Portsmouth, who undoubtedly benefited. Welcome to Lewis Bartlett, a newer member to the BAC team, already showing great potential.

Lewis, Lewis, Lewis in contention in a well paced hard race.

Women’s 400m:
Joy also competed in the 400m, 62.03 SB to come 4th in the A string against a field of U23s. After the 800m and especially the rest of the day’s events, Joy was relieved her body held together considering her constant battle with injuries in the lead up to the outdoor season.  Women’s Team Leader, Jemma Bates also came 4th place in 80.10 against all U17s to gain valuable points for the team.

Men’s 400m: Adam Nicholass and Andrew Sheerin showed great commitment to the team by securing valuable points in the men’s 400m. Adam didn’t stop there and pulled in more wonderful points for 3rd in the 1500m and 2nd place over 2000m Steeplechase. A commendable effort by a sprinter!


Andrew concentrates his efforts on the throwing events and another one of the many dedicated athletes willing to fill in the gaps to cover the events.

Adam on form in 400m

100m & 200m Sprints:
Staying on the track for some sprint action with great performances from the youngest members of the BAC team. Yasmin Bridget (U17) ran a great 100m in 13.52, in 3rd pace and Rebecca Hannibal (U17) was also 3rd, B string in 13.70. Both Jasmin Cooke (U17) and Rebecca ran a speedy 200m to cross the line together in 28.0.

The men’s sprints were dominated by Portsmouth which saw Muiris Egan reach home in 11.69 for 100m, 3rd place A string and Ryan Markham in 12.17 for 2nd B String. Jack Davies and Adam Nicholass put their legs to the test, finishing in 11.95 and 12.75 respectively.
Men’s 200m also competed in the 200m, Muiris in 23.71 (3rd A) and Ryan in 24.68 (2nd B).

Men’s 100m

Charlotte Sidaway (U20) and Joy Wright took on the 100mH with two 3rd place spots in 18.45 and 18.91 PB respectively.

James Lelliott and Joe Hayward’s sterling effort over the 110mH (very high hurdles) welcomed many a cheer from an encouraging crowd. Fortunately neither athlete sustained an injury in their pursuits to cross the line and they were rewarded with a 3rd and 1st place to add to the team points tally. Our very own Janet Dickinson has also perfected the art of lifting, moving and shifting the hurdles. Her help, alongside our other officials and helpers was appreciated by athlete’s and organisers alike.

Janet gets a work out lifting hurdles. Surely not higher?

High Jump:
Jazmin Cooke’s (U17) high jump performance 1.45m, secured 2nd place (A string) in a strong field and only 8cm below the winner.  Sian Meadows (U17) also came up with the goods, jumping of 1.40m, 2nd place (B). Our young athletes are jumping to win and it’s exciting to see such great talent coming through the ranks and stepping up to senior competition.

James Lelliott excelled to 1.78m for 2nd (A string) in a highly competitive field. Sam Adams made his debut appearance for BAC in the high jump with an outstanding 2nd place in 1.50m which is close to his PB and a great start to the season. We hope to see more from Sam as he continues to improve throughout the season.

Sam clearing the High Jump
James Clears High Jump

Long Jump:
It was great to Amelia Dobson back from injury and jumping 5.18m for 3rd place with Angela Spall performing well with 4.19m, 3rd (B).

James Lelliott’s jumping continued to impress with a convincing 6.99m win in the long jump. James is ranked 5th in GB and the current British Indoor bronze medallist, behind the former Olympic champion, Greg Rutherford with a PB of 7.65m. Joe Hayward (U17) showed great promise with a 5.69m and excellent 2nd place spot. This is another event that shows the calibre of athletes training with and competing for BAC.

Triple jump:
James also performed well in the triple jump winning with 12.90m and Dave Flicos jumped 5.97m for 3rd place.

Amelia Dobson showed great form with an outstanding win, 10.48m, over 40cm in front of Yeovil’s 2nd place athlete. Angela Spall jumped well, 6.64m for 2nd place.

The relays are the final events of the day and could be considered one of many highlights. They are cheered on by the whole team in anticipation of bringing that baton home as fast as possible.

4x100m Women

Amelia bringing the baton home

First up was the women’s 4x100m relay with an impressive 2nd place in close race to the line in 52.04, less than a second behind match winners Yeovil. A courageous effort by our youngest athletes, showing great dedication and talent.  The team included:

  1. Jazmin Cooke
  2. Rebecca Hannibal
  3. Yasmin Bridget
  4. Amelia Dobson
Women’s 4x100m Team

4x100m Men
Next the men showed great form in a close battle for 2nd. They came 3rd in 45.16, less than half a second behind Yeovil.

Ryan Markham looking powerful!

4x400m Women– 4:45.9

Harriet Slade 70.4
Phoebe Dawson 74.1
Danielle Broom 74.5
Joy Wright 66.9


4x400m Men – 3:42.6

Ryan Markham 58.2
Lewis Bartlett 59.7
Lewis Sainval 52.3
Muiris 52.4


BAC relay teams were boosted by a combination of throwers & middle distant runners, even Harriet lined up straight from the steeple to take the baton for the 1st leg.

The young athletes showed impressive character. They competed against older athletes but ran hard and smashed it. They should all be very proud. The future is bright!

Non-scoring athletes competed in the same races as scoring athletes, getting excellent competition and an opportunity to gain race experience and improve performances. Steve Dobson has been struggling with injury but still managed a 9.70m Shot Putt and 21.52m Discus. We hope to see Steve fully recovered in the near future!
Other performances include Adam Nicholass 100m 12.75; Fraser Spall, Javelin 33.46m; Andrew Sherrin, Discus 31.09m; David Flicos, Long jump 2.70m and 200m 20.39; 100m: James Lelliott 11.35, Joe Hayward 11.83, Jack Davies 11.95 & Dan Kirkby 12.22. Charlotte Sidaway also ran 100m in 14.19.

A warm welcome to Victoria Coombes (T20) showing a great team spirit and competing numerous events including the 100m 15.03, 200m 32.25, Long jump 3.76m and high jump 1.25m.

Vikki in the Long Jump

Man of the Match Awards:
Congratulations to…
Dan Brunsden, Shot – 15.19m
James Lelliott, Long Jump – 6.99m
Pheobe Dowson, Discus – 52.48m
Dannielle Broom, Hammer – 57.42m

Throwers Steve, Pheobe, Andy & Dan

“Efforts today by club members were special in my opinion.
Seeing a full coach of enthusiastic members going to a SAL match has seldom been matched in my 53 years at the club.
Well done everyone.”
                                                                                                              Coach Paul Rees

Thank you BAC!
A huge thank you to all who attended and to all the officials and helpers that made the day possible. In particular Officials, Juliet Dobson, Janet Dickinson, Hazel Bates, Wynne, Robin and helpers, Paula Broome, Susie Shepherd and Paul Dowson. Not forgetting a big shout out the both team managers Jemma Bates and Andrew Sheerin. Andrew and Jemma work extremely hard to organise and manage the teams to go and represent our club too the highest standard. Their zest and enthusiasm will continue to spread throughout the season and we look forward to the next match on 20th May.

Wynne grabs a much needed cuppa to go!

There are 16 clubs in Division 2, West and BAC are currently 7th place in the league table after match 1. This is just 36 points behind top spot and we can continue to improve with the same dedication and commitment displayed in Yeovil.

BAC is a diverse and wide ranging club with plenty of young new talent moving up through the ranks, some long standing and well established athletes and numerous Masters (35+). No matter what age or level, come and join us on the track for training and at SAL days which are outstanding for competition, enthusiasm and extraordinary team spirit so get your trainers or spikes on and join us!

The next SAL is at Kings Park on Sunday 20 May 2018.  It’s a home match so let’s get out in force and go for a win!

Full Results

For more information on the SAL Click here

Helen Ambrosen toughs it out at Pen Selwood 10k

Helen Amrbosen took part in the Pen Selwood 10k
Looking to try out some new races, Helen Ambrosen went over to the village of Pen Selwood to take part in the Pen Selwood Tough 10k Challenge

The Pen Selwood Tough 10k Challenge is a small local race staged in the village of Pen Selwood and organised by Gillingham Trotters, that same club who organise the Gilly Hilly race that’s in the Dorset Road Race League.

The capacity of the race is only 110 which gives some idea of the kind of scale we’re talking about. Since it’s close to the Stourhead Estate though, the course is very scenic and there is very little traffic out on route.

Looking to try out some different races that she hasn’t done before, Bournemouth AC lady Helen Ambrosen decided to head over there and give it a go. Helen has been really getting back into her running recently, having not perhaps done as much training as she would’ve liked over the past few months.

She’s been a regular on the Tuesday and Thursday night sessions over the past few weeks though and has been really enjoying the Thursday night sessions in particular, where the routines vary from off-road trails to hills on the seafront Chines.

It was only a week after Helen had had a somewhat disappointing run at the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon, where she completed the course in just over 56 minutes.

She fared much better in the Pen Selwood 10k though and – although it was a slightly shorter distance, she could tell by the runners around her that she’d improved by over a minute from her performance at the Easter Quarter.

Although the Pen Selwood 10k is quite a tough hilly course, Helen thoroughly enjoyed the run and came in with a very commendable time of 54:32. That put her in 47th position out of a total of 93 finishers. She was also the 2nd over 60 lady to cross the line on the day.

Helen was particularly pleased with her last mile which she did in 7:27. It’s always nice when you can finish a race strongly as bodes well for future races to come.

Helen gives thanks to captain Rich Nelson for the brilliant training sessions he puts on week by week which she’s been really enjoying recently. Hopefully if she keeps it up she’ll see even more improvement over the coming weeks and months.

Helen Ambrosen was in action at the Pen Selwood 10k
Helen was pleased to make a noticeable improvement on her performance from the previous week at the Easter Quarter, crossing the line in 47th place with a time of 54:32


Simon Hearn hits up Regents Park Half Marathon

Simon Hearn took part in the Regents Park Half Marathon
After the previous race he’d signed up for, the Reading Half Marathon was abandoned due to snow, Simon Hearn opted to go for the Regents Park Half Marathon instead

The Regents Park Half Marathon was a contingency plan for Simon Hearn after his target race, which was the Reading Half Marathon, was abandoned due to snow a few weeks back. Simon had even travelled up to Reading the day before and had booked to stay the night at a hotel so as it turned out he’d had a wasted journey.

Although he was disappointed that the race had been called off, Simon knew that it couldn’t be helped and it was all down to circumstances beyond the control of the race organisers. Of course, safety always has to come first in these situations.

That said, he didn’t want to let all the training he had done for the Reading Half Marathon go to waste so his response was to quickly line up a replacement race. That’s how he found the Regents Park Half Marathon.

It was billed as a fast, flat course which Simon thought would probably suit him well. As the day of the race arrived conditions were pretty good. Certainly better than they were at Reading a few weeks prior anyway! There was no wind present and only slight drizzle to content with.

On the whole Simon felt good, although he had a few slight niggles. The field consisted of around 300 people and the course was five laps of Regents Park, with each lap measuring at roughly 2.5 miles.

Simon started off okay and felt fairly strong. On the first lap though, he found that, although the course was supposed to be flat, there were a few undulations. He then thought “Pants! I’ve got to do this five times!!”

Despite that though, he managed to stay on pace and was running with the 1st lady up till mile 8. At that point he started to flag a little and his pace began to drop. He knew then that he’d have to make up some time if he was going to get a sub 1:30 time. Unfortunately though, he just didn’t have it in him. He got to mile 10 and then just had to hang on for the remainder of the race.

Once he’d finished his 5th and final lap, the race was complete and Simon crossed the line in a time of 1:31:28. That put him in 39th place overall and he took 7th place in the MV40 category, so not a bad result for Simon , all things considered.

Simon tends to be pretty consistent with his running and always looks to stay under 1 hour 32 minutes for a half marathon so he achieved that target. Finishing under 1:30 is always a bonus and he’s done that on many an occasion. This time it was not to be though.

His split times for each lap illustrate how he began to tire as the race went on and slipped off his earlier pace. He completed the first lap in 17:34 and the second lap in 17:42. The third lap was slightly slower at 18:05 but still roughly on track.

It was on the fourth lap that he began to struggle a bit, clocking an 18:42. Then once he knew he wasn’t going to make up the time on his final lap to get a sub 1:30, he cruised in with 19:22 final lap.

He still enjoyed the race though and was relatively pleased with the result. He said he didn’t think he’d do a multi-lap half marathon again though as he found it a touch repetitive. On the bright side, though, he got to know Regents Park very well!

Simon Hearn took part in the Regents Park Half Marathon
Completing the 5 lap Regents Park Half Marathon course in 1:31:28, Simon finished in 39th place out of 294

Rich Nelson and Pat Robbins grind out the miles in JP’s Exe to Axe

Rich Nelson takes on JP's Exe to Axe
Rich Nelson was back in long distance action at the JP’s Exe to Axe 22 mile race along with Pat ‘Paddy’ Robbins

The year’s edition of the JP’s Exe to Axe featured two brave, budding Bournemouth AC bloomers in the shape of captain marvel Rich Nelson and ultra-extraordinaire Pat ‘Paddy’ Robbins. The Exe to Axe course runs from Exmouth Sea Front and follows the South West Coast Pat for around 22 miles before finishing up on the Esplanade at Seaton.

The Exe to Axe race is now in its 16th year and is a brute of a race but carries with it the caveat of containing breath-taking views throughout from magnificent cliff top settings. The race is split into four different segments.

The first stage is 4 miles long and runs from Exmouth to Budleigh. On this part, you go past the Geo Needle at Orcombe Point. It measures 5 metres tall and marks the beginning of the World Heritage Site that the runners are about to go through.

After that it’s Budleigh to Sidmouth, which is 6 miles long and features some of those outstanding views along the way. This stage takes the runner inland toward the River Otter before working its way back to the coast.

Startline for the JP's Exe to Axe race
The runners line up on the start line for the 2018 JP’s Exe to Axe

It’s then Sidmouth to Branscombe Mouth, which is just over 6 miles and there is where the going gets tough. The runners must climb to the top of Salcombe Hill, then down towards Salcombe Mouth and onto Salcombe Beach.

The final stage is from Branscombe Mouth to Seaton, which is a little over 4 miles. The part involves some serious climbing up to the top of Hooken Cliffs. A landslip on the Old Beer Road several years ago meant to route had to be changed from what was previously a 20-mile distance to closer to 22 miles. It’s a downhill run towards Seaton and onto the Esplanade before the final stretch along the sea front leading to Axe Valley Sailing Club.

Having not really done any long-distance training in the lead up to the race, Rich Nelson was dubious about how he would fair on such a tough and lengthy course. But he was prepared to give it a go, citing a tactic of walking up the steeper climbs and running the rest of it.

Exe to Axe coastal path runs from Exmouth to Seaton
The Exe to Axe race runs along the coast line from Exmouth to Seaton and incorporates some breathtaking views

Rich has been suffering with ongoing calf issues for quite some time now which have really begun to hamper his enjoyment of running somewhat. But it is starting to look like things are on the upturn now and fingers crossed he’s over the worst of it.

With the lack of training that he’s had though, Rich knew he was always going to find it tough but he was hoping he’d be able to dig in and make it through. And that’s exactly what he did. Sticking to his tactic of walking the hills and running the rest, Rich was able to make it to the 17-mile point in reasonable nick.

It was the last 5 miles of the race that really hit him hard. It’s not surprising really. Most people wouldn’t dream of entering a race like this without an adequate amount of training beforehand. But Rich is an experienced veteran of many a marathon in his time and managed to find the resolve to see it through.

It was a feeling of great relief for Rich as he finally reached the finish line, completing the race in 4 hours 11 minutes and 51 seconds. That is not a bad time at all considering the enormity of the task and the circumstances it was under. It put Rich in 88th place overall out of a field of 201 finishers.

Rich Nelson in the JP's Exe to Axe race
Rich Nelson put in an almighty effort to make it to the finish and to his credit he came out of it with a fairly decent time given his recent injury woes

For Pat ‘Paddy’ Robbins, there were no such issues. Pat is currently in training for the 24 Hour European Championships where he will be representing Great Britain. In preparation for that he’s really been stacking up the weekly mileage.

Given the challenge Pat is due to undertake when he hits the 24 Hour European Championships in Romania at the end of May, the 22-mile Exe to Axe race was a drop in the ocean. Of course, for Pat, just the same as everyone else, it still had its ups and downs.

Pat managed the race well though, crossing the line in 20th place with a time of 3 hours 21 minutes and 48 seconds. That put him 10th in the M Over 40 category. It was another step forward for Pat in his journey toward his big target race and no doubt they’ll be many other tough long distance runs he has to battle through before the big day arrives.

Pat Robbins in the JP's Exe to Axe race
The Exe to Axe race was merely a gentle training exercise for Pat Robbins as he is set to line up for Great Britain in the 24 Hour European Championships at the end of May

Dave Parsons and Ian Graham’s Guernsey Easter Adventures

Ian, Peter and Dave before Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Ian Graham (left) and Dave Parsons (right) made their annual trip over for Guernsey Easter Running Festival

BAC ‘supervets’ (explanation later) Ian Graham and Dave Parsons made the trip to Guernsey this Easter for the Running Festival which comprises four races in four days. It is fair to say that they are stalwarts of this event with Dave competing for his 20th successive year and Ian for his eleventh time in the last 12 years.

With Easter being so early this year, they were a little concerned about the likely weather (the forecast was pretty awful) and both were travelling with no great expectations as Ian had only just returned from a walking holiday in Yorkshire which had hampered his preparation and Dave had done very little training following a recurring calf injury which restricted his ambitions to merely getting through all four events without injury.

Good Friday dawned cool and wet although, for once, there was very little wind so the conditions were a lot better than expected. For the first race (5k road), the rain was quite light and Ian ran strongly to finish in 138th place (238 finishers) in 23:35. Dave found himself running quicker than expected and was going quite well until he was sick just before the 4k mark! Nevertheless, after a brief stop, he continued and was satisfied with his 174th place finish in 25:46.

Both were competing in the ‘super vet’ category which comprises all those over 60 and is based on ‘Age Graded’ performance. Ian was 3rd male with 74.06% and Dave 6th with 66.36%.

Ian Graham finishing the 5k in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian striding towards the finish of the 5k
Dave Parsons finishing the 5k in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave finishing a little while later

 The second race of the series was held on Easter Saturday over the ‘full course’ cross country course on L’Ancresse Common and is the only race which has remained the same every year of the Festival. Although very windy, the rain held off for the majority of the time.

Ian, knowing that he was now in with a chance in the ‘super vet’ category went off very purposefully and with the underfoot conditions much better than anticipated, ran a highly respectable time of 38:32 and finished in 69th place (125 finishers).

Guernsey Island Athletic Club have produced their very own ‘age graded’ table for this event (no idea how they have done this) and Ian was a clear winner of the Mens Super Vet category with 74.35%. Dave’s plan for the race was to start off steadily and see what happened. Unsurprisingly this resulted in an extremely steady time of 45:54 for 108th place and 7th male ‘super vet’.

Ian Graham in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian looking far too cheerful at the finish
Dave Parsons in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave making sure he didn’t get too cold!

After the first two races, Ian was now equal first in the Male ‘Super Vet’ category with Dave 6th, just behind old rival Brian Holden from Guernsey.

Easter Sunday’s event was the 4 x 1 mile cross country relay race on the far part of L’Ancresse Common and is part of the ‘Stonecrusher’ course. The good news is that this is not part of the overall series and so is really just an opportunity to mix with the younger (and unfortunately much quicker) athletes who seem to skip around the quite tough course with two short but steep hills.

Ian and Dave submitted a team sheet with just the two of them on it and the organisers of the festival found them two other athletes who were not part of any full team either. The second good bit of news was that the first of these runners was another Easter Festival regular, Richard Batchelor from AFD. Our final runner was to be a newcomer (an 80 plus year old) who had come last in the first two races and by some considerable distance at that!

This was fine in that there was absolutely no pressure on Ian and Dave. Ian ran the first leg in 7:14 (very similar to last year) and came in 35th of the record entry of 50 teams. Dave set off as hard as he dared on the very uneven rabbit hole ridden course and ran 8:23 and we had dropped to 41st team. Richard flew round in 5:22 and we were now up to 30th! As expected, Peter was by far the slowest of the day, however, he did manage to hold on to 49th place so we weren’t last!!

Ian Graham at the top of the ascent in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian at the top of the first steep ascent
Dave hands over to Richard in Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Dave handing over to Richard Batchelor
Ian Graham & Dave Parsons in Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Ian and Dave ’relaxing’ after their legs! 

So now for the last race, the 10k road race on Easter Monday on the point to point course from Grand Rocks to St Sampsons. The early morning weather was atrocious with torrential rain and strong winds. Dave took the hire car to the finish and caught the second of the runners’ busses thankfully provided by the organisers. However, he arrived at the start with over an hour to go.

Meanwhile, Ian had opted to jog to the start from the nearby hotel. There was a baggage vehicle provided which left five minutes before the start. Dave managed to take off numerous layers of clothing that were needed to keep warm and dry and made the decision to keep wearing his leggings for the race to keep his legs warm and protect his calf. (He later confirmed that he just couldn’t be bothered to try to take off the leggings). Ian with the overall super vet title at stake, went off in very determined fashion.

For most of the race, the wind was favourable until turning towards the finish with 2k left when it became a strong headwind. Ian seemed to take this in his stride and finished in a time of 47:29 and 97th place (212 finishers) and was a very deserving winner of his category with 76.13% and thus the overall winner.

Dave was very happy to get round with his calf intact and although it was his slowest ever 10k race by some considerable margin, he was happy with 54:30 and 153rd place (64.95%) and with Brian Holden about one minute behind, Dave was 5th male in the category overall.

Ian Graham storms to an overall category win in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian storming to overall category win
Dave Parsons at the harbour in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave looking splendid in his leggings!

 It was back to the hotel to shower and change for the Presentation in the afternoon where there was the usual opportunity to relive the weekend and chat to old friends. There was even the chance to reflect on a much better performance in the Quiz which was held on the Saturday night, swapping last year’s rather inglorious wooden spoon success with a mid-table performance finishing 9th of 17 teams.

Ian Graham and Jenny Morgan collect their winnings in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian and ladies Super Vet winner Jenny Morgan collect their ‘winnings’

After another terrific year they now have the 2019 festival to look forward to. And just 12 months to get fit for it!

Steve leads the Way at the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon

Steve Way leads as the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon gets underway
Steve Way (3039) assumes pole position in the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon with Rob McTaggart (3031) in behind

It was another great local event in Bournemouth that showed just how vibrant and popular the running scene is in this area at the current time. The Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon attracted participation from five Bournemouth AC members, including some of the club’s big hitters.

Since the race is staged with exactly two weeks to go until the London Marathon, or Southampton, the Bournemouth Bay Half is the ideal foil for those running either marathon to test themselves one final time and see how their form is ahead of the big day.

The route started at Bournemouth Pier before heading in the Sandbanks direction for the first couple of miles before turning a heading back onto the promenade. It then goes along the promenade back past Bournemouth Pier, then on past Boscombe Pier, through to Southbourne and all the way down to Hengistbury Head.

It then turns up and winds back round onto the overcliff road, following that road all the back to Boscombe where it dropped back down onto the promenade for the final stretch to the finish at Bournemouth Pier. It was pretty much the same as the Bournemouth 10 route and also the Easter Quarter Marathon that was on the week before.

One of the BAC big hitters looking to polish up his supreme skills ahead of the London Marathon was Steve Way. Steve has been in scintillating form of late, as demonstrated when he won the Bournemouth 10 at the end of February in 55 and a half minutes.

Once again, he was going for a quick time at the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon and pretty much as soon as the race got underway, Steve found himself at the front of the field, blowing everyone else away with his amazing acceleration.

Steve Way at Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Steve Way was looking for another big performance to follow up his win at the Bournemouth 10

Although he’d been churning out the heavy mileage in training that week and for many weeks in the lead up, usually getting up to almost 120 miles, Steve still managed to find the strength to maintain his super quick early pace throughout the race.

That was essentially what pleased him most about his run. The consistency to keep banging out the 5:20 pace miles. It’s what he looks for most in his training.

It was always going to be a formality from the outset and, needless to say, Steve was first to the line, sealing another superb race win in a staggering time of 1 hour 10 minutes and 31 seconds.

Steve Way in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Steve ran a good consistently paced race to seal the win in a very impressive time of 1:10:31

Lewis Green of Team Willow was almost 2 minutes behind when he crossed the line in 2nd place in 1:12:23. Andrew McCaskill took 3rd in 1:13:55.

Although he was pleased with the result, Steve had secretly been hoping for a sub 70 performance. It was difficult though with no one up there with him to race against and push him go as fast as he possibly could.

The run still bodes well for his form though going into the London Marathon and also for the Comrades Marathon in June, which is his primary focus of the year.

Steve Way flying in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Steve looks to be absolutely flying as he approaches the finish line

Steve wasn’t the only BAC member with a specific target in mind for the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon. László Tóth was looking to complete the race in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Dreaming of making the trip across the pond to take part in the New York Marathon, László knew that a 1 hour 21 minute time would be enough to see him qualify for the race. He wanted a bit of leeway though in case of any particularly tough miles toward the end of the race so sensibly decided to go all out for 1:20.

Lazslo Toth in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
László Tóth was looking for a sub 1:20 finish to qualify for the New York Marathon

So the question was, could László achieve his target? And the answer – a resounding yes! He came up with the goods, running a phenomenal race to clock a magnificent new PB time of 1:19:53. This put him in 12th place on the day and, as one would expect, László was delighted with his performance.

All he needs to do now is save up the money and he could be heading out to New York, although he did say that getting enough readies for the trip out there could prove even harder that actually achieving the target time.

Last year in the Bournemouth  Bay Half Marathon, László registered a time of 1:20:44, so impressively he’d managed to top that by 51 seconds.

Lazslo strides to the finish of the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
It was mission accomplished for László
as he took 12th place finishing in a time of 1:19:53

Another man who has his sights set on a super quick time at the London Marathon is Rob McTaggart. By contrast though, Tag wasn’t especially bothered about the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon. He surmised that it was too close to London to be of any real benefit and thus could only be detrimental if he went out too hard.

As it turned out, the race didn’t go very well for Tag anyway. He woke up late that morning and only had breakfast 40 minutes before the race was due to start. He then got a terrible stitch about 2 miles in and as a result, decided to cut his losses and turn it into a reasonable pace 18.5 mile training run.

Rob McTaggart in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Rob McTaggart didn’t have one of his better runs but was looking at bigger picture as he focuses on his primary target of the London Marathon

That ‘reasonable pace’ run as he called it, led Tag to a 1:20:57 finish and still put him in 14th position in the standings.

On the whole though, Tag’s marathon training has been going really well and he recently secured a huge new half marathon PB of 1:10:25 at the Big Half in London. He also finished a close 2nd to Steve at the Bournemouth 10 with a time of 55:48.

Rob McTaggart in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Tag has been in superb form lately and is expecting big things in London this year

Coming in 23rd place, in a time of 1:23:33 was another recognisable face in the shape of Billy McGreevy. Billy is doing the ABP Southampton Marathon in a week’s time and this was his last long training run before that.

He ran 9 miles before taking to the start line for the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon so it was a progressive long run for him in the end.

Billy McGreevy on promenade in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Billy McGreevy was using the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon as part of his last long training run before the Southampton Marathon

Ordinarily, Billy would have been doing the London Marathon but even though he had a qualifying time, having run a couple of sub 3 hour marathons last year, he forgot to register in time. He then decided to enter the Southampton one instead.

Billy McGreevy in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Even though he’d done 9 miles before the race started, Billy still completed the race in an excellent time of 1:23:33 which put him in 23rd place

Taking on what was essentially her first ever half marathon, except some random one she did many years ago before she joined BAC, Kirsty Drewitt was heading into uncharted waters.

She does have a burning desire to do some longer distance races though and is looking to work her way up the distance ladder. This year she did all three of the Imperial Series 10 races, so that was the Lytchett 10, the Bournemouth 10 and the Larmer 10.

Considering how tough some of those races were, particularly the Larmer 10, she was pretty much half marathon ready anyway after doing all those.

She had been lacking a bit of motivation for training though in the lead up to the Bournemouth Bay Half and had also picked up a niggling foot injury the week before.

Kirsty Drewett looking happy in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Kirsty Drewett was taking on her first ever half marathon since joining BAC

Despite that, she got her game face on and made it to the start line on the morning of the race. She had adjusted her expectations slightly, due to the lack of training and niggle she’d picked up but once the race got underway she actually felt really good.

The usual sea breeze we are familiar with along the promenade was absent and even though it was an overcast day, Kirsty felt like she was overheating.

Her foot injury started playing up on around the 8th mile so she didn’t push on too much from there and instead opted to cruise home.

Finishing in an excellent time of 1:45:18, Kirsty took 246th place overall out of a field of 920. She was the 32nd lady to cross the line and came 10th in the F35 category.

Kirsty beats Superman in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Kirsty was pleased to be able to say that she finished ahead of superman in the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon

Understandably, Kirsty was thrilled with her time and was really pleased with how strong she felt throughout the race. There are certainly some good things to come from Kirsty and it will be interesting to see how she progresses in future longer distance races.

Despite competing in the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon, Kirsty much prefers off-road running or cross-country to going up and down the promenade. Her go to place for training runs is often the Purbeck, which shows she has an affliction for the more adventurous kind of run.

Weighing in with a huge PB, registering a time that was over 5 minutes quicker than her previous best was Sam Laws. Sam’s mightily impressive effort of 1:58:01 put her in 491st place overall and she was 110th lady on the day. She also finished 17th in the F45 category.

Sam Laws in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Sam Laws is currently training for the Southampton Marathon, which will be her first ever stab at the 26.2 mile distance

Sam’s previous best half marathon attempt of 2:03:59 was set at the Bournemouth Bay Run last year. These were promising signs for Sam as she enters the final stages of her training for the Southampton Marathon, which takes place on the same day as London.

Having really put the mileage in in training, Sam should have stood herself in good stead for what will be her very first marathon attempt. It was great to see signs that the hard work she’s been putting in is paying off and that her times are coming down.

Sam Laws bursts toward the finish in the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Sam makes a burst toward the finish to record a magnificent PB of over 5 minutes

Henna Patterson, who sometimes trains with BAC on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, also ran the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon. Her goal was to complete the race in under 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Henna duly accomplished her mission, crossing the line in a time of 1:49:56. That put her in 325th place overall and made her 52nd lady. She is currently training for a half iron-man and is looking to do the Bournemouth Marathon in October.

Henna Patterson in Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon
Henna Patterson sometimes trains with BAC on Tuesday and Thursday nights and was aiming for a sub 1:50 finish