Manol and Jacek scale the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon

Manol Dimitrov in the Scott Snowdonia Trail Ultra Marathon
Manol Dimitrov was taking on the 60.4km Ultra Marathon at the Scott Snowdonia Trail event, with Jacek Cieluszecki going in the Full Marathon

We’ve been getting used to seeing Bournemouth AC athletes taking things to the extreme over recent times. Whether it’s Steve Way in his well revered podium finish at Comrades, JC conquering the world at Wings for Life, Ant Clark with his silver medal at the British 100k Championships, Jez Bragg with his 100k at Belvès, Toby Chapman’s 90k renaissance at Mont Blanc, Pat Robbins at the 24 Hour European Championships, Mark Hillier at the Marathon des Sables, Ollie Stoten in the Namib Desert, Andy Gillespie at the Devon Coast Challenge… The list is endless. Then you’ve got Pete Thompson to takes goes beyond extreme to the verging on unimaginable with his challenges.

It would certainly be fair to say that BAC members are synonymous with pushing themselves to the limit in some of the toughest races and biggest challenges they can find. The latest example of that theme saw Manol Dimitrov and Jacek Cieluszecki tackle the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon.

The Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon is a challenge in every sense of the word. Featuring a 60.4km Ultra Marathon, a 43.4km Full Marathon, a Half Marathon and a 10k, with elevation gains of up to 2,376m, the Scott Snowdonia is designed to push its participants to the peak of their powers.

Opting for the 60.4km Ultra Marathon race, Manol Dimitrov knew he’d have his work cut out to complete such a gruelling, mountainous course with such a huge and difficult ascent profile. In saying that though, this is exactly the kind of challenge that Manol relishes.

With a real affinity for taking to the high peaks, Manol is very much at home on this type of terrain. In fact, it’s in these types of races that he truly excels.

Last summer Manol and Jacek both took on the OCC Mont Blanc race, a 56km course with 3,500 metres of vertical. Jacek finished 23rd out of 1,565 starters that day and Manol came in 63rd, putting him firmly in the top 5% of finishers.

In one of his more recent mountain exploits, it didn’t quite go so well for Manol. It was the 48km Cortina Trail. Unfortunately, on that occasion Manol was suffering with some stomach issues and was forced to retire 16.4 miles in, having already vomited a couple of times.

Faring a little better in his next outing a week later, Manol came in 164th place in the 42km Buff Epic Trail race. The route included over 3,300m of climbing and took Manol 7 hours 23 minutes and 57 seconds to complete.

The Scott Snowdonia Trail races start and finish in Llanberis, a place known as the Welsh outdoor capital. With its iconic and spectacular climbs up the highest peak of Snowdon, featuring breathtaking panoramic views of the Snowdonia National Park, there are surely no more striking trail marathon routes in the entire UK.

Despite the early elevation, Manol started off really quickly and was in the lead after the first 6 miles. It turned out though, he was too quick and the marshals hadn’t yet managed to put out all the markings in the spots they should have. That resulted in Manol taking a wrong turn and he had to then stop, reorient and go back.

By the time he got back onto the correct path, four people were in front of him. It was a frustrating blow but there was no time to dwell on it. I had to pick up where he left off and continue.

Later on he took another wrong turn, descending down a path he wasn’t meant to be going down. Again, he had to stop, reorient and find his way back onto the correct route.

Manol Dimitrov training on Snowdon
Manol had done some training on Snowdon back in June so he knew the terrain. That didn’t necessarily mean he knew the route though!

It was the third time he went wrong though that was the real killer for Manol. He had been climbing and climbing up this goat track for what felt like an eternity. Little did he know though, there had been a gate between the rocks that he’d apparently missed. It was pretty difficult to spot, especially since he was focusing on his running and was on his own for the vast majority of the time.

It turned out he’d added an extra 12km onto the route and around 4,000ft of additional elevation. That’s a pretty big penalty to pay for a few wrong turns but if you go off piste at Snowdon, that’s the kind of consequences you could face.

Although his chances of winning the race had effectively been ruined, Manol refused to let it get him down, which is a real testament to his attitude and character.

On the downhill run in to the finish at Llanberis, he absolutely smashed it, registering a sub-16-minute 5k which, after 45 miles and nearly 7 hours of running, not to mention 11,800ft of climbing, is pretty damn impressive.

Managing to reel in a few people who had inadvertently overtaken him after his various mishaps, Manol incredibly finished up in 5th place with a time of 6:54:35.

It was a a truly great show of strength from Manol, both mental and physical. It wasn’t so much a positive showcase of his navigational skills, but if the course had been marked out properly and clearly, those detours could’ve been avoided.

It would’ve certainly been interesting to see what he could have done if he had managed to follow the correct path. Who knows? He could even have found himself on the top of the podium.

Perhaps he just felt that 60.4km and 8,000ft of climbing up Mount Snowdon simply wouldn’t enough and he felt compelled to take the scenic route.

Manol Dimitrov in Scott Snowdonia Ultra Marathon
Despite going wrong on several occasions, Manol rallied well to take 5th place in a time of 6:54:35

As for Jacek, he had wanted to do the Ultra Marathon but the places for that race filled up pretty quick so he ended up doing the Full Marathon instead. That was still a good 43.4km and 1,685 metres of elevation, so still a tough route that would prove extremely testing, even for an athlete of JC’s calibre.

To say Jacek has been in good form lately would be an understatement. In fact, he’s been killing it since his spectacular victory in the Wings for Life race at Melbourne.

That was followed by double delight at the Poole Festival of Running when he won both the 5k and the Half Marathon. He then claimed another victory in he Maverick ions-8 X-Series Exmoor 15k, although he had been intending to do the 42k until he took a wrong turn.

After that he won the Lulworth Castle 10k before blowing everyone away to defend his title at the Portland 10.

The Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon was going to be a tougher prospect altogether though, with a competitive field including top British international distance runners Callum Rowlinson and Adam Holland.

With such a competitive line up, Jacek knew he was going to have to be at his absolute best to stand any chance of coming out on top.

The race effectively comprised of three different sectors. The first 3.5 miles lead you up and are followed by 1.5 miles through some marshy fields.

The second part is a fast section which is undulating in places. This is the segment where road runners could probably gain some advantage.

The last part is the ascent up Snowdon, followed by the descent back down. This section is by far the hardest and includes a brutally steep stretch on mile 22.

Once you reach the top of the summit, it is then downhill all the way to the finish line at Llanberis. It’s a fast descent but you have to be careful on it as there are rough and rocky parts to negotiate. So much so that many people ended up taking a tumble or two on the way down.

At the beginning of the race there was a lead group of four, containing last year’s winning and course record holder Callum Rowlinson, Adam Holland, Jack Oates – who is an ambassador for Ant Clark’s X-MIles company – and of course JC himself.

At mile 5, Adam Holland, who is in the top five in the world for marathon victories, started to turn the screw and built up a solid gap. Jacek decided to stay at his pace, cruising along in 4th place, around 30 seconds behind Callum and Jack. Saving some energy for the latter stages, Jacek knew full well that everything could change on the final ascent on Snowdon.

Jacek Cieluszecki with Jack Oates and Callum Rowlinson
Jacek running alongside Jack Oates and Callum Rowlinson

From around miles 16 to 22, the course was all uphill culminating with that massive steep section on mile 22. It was over these uphill miles that Jacek made his move. He went past Callum first to take third before overtaking Adam to climb to second.

That left only Jack out front. Jack was having a really strong run though and for a 22-year-old, he’s a phenomenal runner. As it panned out, JC just didn’t quite have enough in the tank to catch Jack and he was able to seal the win, smashing the course record as he crossed the line in a time of 3:37:54.

Arriving at the finish less than five minutes later, Jacek took 2nd place in a time of 3:42:41. This was still comfortably under the previous course record that Callum had set last year of 3 hours 51 minutes, so, whilst it may not have been a win, it was still a mightily impressive performance from JC.

Having to settle for third place on this occasion, Adam Holland crossed the line in a time of 3:58:55. As for Callum, he didn’t make it to the finish in the end as he was forced to abandon due to a back pain.

All things considered, Jacek was pleased with his performance, although he did feel a slight lack of freshness in the legs over the final section. He enjoyed the event though and it was good to be in a really competitive race and pit his wits against some other top class athletes.

Next up, JC turns his attentions back to the local scene as an opportunity arises for him to complete a Portland quadruple, having won the Portland 10 and Round the Rock last year and having already retained his crown at the Portland 10 this year. The Round the Rock 10k takes place on 12th August and JC will definitely be the man to beat again in that one.

No doubt they’ll be more stories of mountain exploits from Manol in the near future since he seems to revel his high altitude forays. There will be more from JC as well as he is set to compete in a 100k mountain ultra in Poland in September.

Jacek Cieluszecki in Scott Snowdonia Full Marathon
Jacek powered up the final ascent on Snowdon, moving from 4th up to 2nd but he couldn’t quite catch the leader Jack Oates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Edwards and Chris O’Brien leg it in Lytchett Relays

Team Extreme Edwards in Lytchett Relays
Running in the family: Sean Edwards with his unique inter-club family team

Occasionally it’s nice to get involved in an event that is predominantly about having fun and enjoying being part of a team and that is essentially what the Lytchett Relays are all about.

The premise behind the event organised by Lytchett Manor Striders is to run as part of a team of five, with each member taking one leg of the 5k off-road circuit across heathland, gravel paths and grass tracks at the scenic Holton Lee grounds.

Although it is fundamentally a competitive race, the Lytchett Relays has a fun, family friendly vibe to it and a very social kind of atmosphere to go along with it.

As well as the option to pitch a tent and stay the night, there was also a barbecue and homemade cakes, a bar that opens from the afternoon onwards, a disco in the evening, plus races the the kids to get involved in.

There are three categories for the teams to compete in, depending on whether they are comprised of all men, all ladies or a healthy blend of both. There were also categories for individuals as well, just consisting of overall male and overall female, regardless of which team the person was in.

One man who flourished in the individual competition was new recruit Sean Edwards. Sean has arrived a BAC with huge pedigree, having previously represented the club that organised the Relays event, Lytchett Manor Striders.

Now looking to step up his game even further, Sean saw Bournemouth AC as the ideal club to help him move forward with his running.

Although it was his first race donning the yellow and blue vest of BAC, on this occasion, Sean was really representing Team Extreme Edwards.

Interestingly, Sean’s transfer over to BAC meant that all five members of Team Extreme Edwards run for different clubs, despite all being from the same family.

Sean’s dad represents Poole Runners, whilst his step mum runs for Hamworthy Harriers and her sister wears the colours of Dorset Doddlers. Sean’s sister who still represents Lytchett Manor Striders completed the family five.

Taking the last leg for his team, Sean ran a blistering lap, tearing round the course in a time of 16 minutes 55 seconds. That turned out to be the 2nd fastest time out of anyone on the day. Only Brian Underwood of the Poole AC Mixed team was able to better that, finishing in a time of 16:26.

With the help of Sean’s lightening quick effort, Team Extreme Edwards finished in 24th place overall out of a total of 68 teams. Their total combined time was 2 hours 1 minute and 15 seconds. Out of the 23 teams in the Mixed category, Team Extreme Edwards were placed 15th.

Since it was in very hot conditions, with the race starting at 3 in the afternoon, and considering the course was quite bumpy in places, Sean was very pleased with his performance. He’d also done Poole parkrun in the morning on that same day, which makes his time seem all the more impressive.

Sean Edwards in Lytchett Relays
Super Sean tore round the Holton Lee course in a terrific time of 16:55 which made him second quickest individual

The other Bournemouth AC runner in action at the Lytchett Relays but under the guise of Verwood Runners was Chris O’Brien. Chris does some coaching with Verwood Runners and was helping to complete a Mens team for the race.

Chris has been suffering a bit with injury for quite some time now, having contracted a glute issue back in January. In fact, it’s something to do with his pelvis being stuck in the wrong position on the left-hand side.

It has been okay for Chris over recent months when he’s been participated in longer distance competition, like the Endure 24 event he did in June, where he completed almost 70 miles within the allotted time.

It’s more the shorter distance stuff that causes him discomfort. That is why the one 5k lap he’d be doing at the Lytchett Relays would be a good test for him.

Fortunately, other than a bit of stomach cramps, Chris felt fine throughout the run and, although it wasn’t a particularly fast time for him, he was still the quickest member of his team, completing the course in 20 minutes 18 seconds.

It was an all-male team that Chris was part of, and their total combined time was 1 hour 50 minutes and 6 seconds, which put them in 12th place overall. Out of the Mens teams that put them 5th out of 9. Individually, Chris came in at 40th place, out of a total of 177 runners.

The run gave Chris the confidence to book a place in the Hoburne 5 league race at the end of September and he’s looking forward to booking more races in the future where he can don the yellow and blue of BAC.

Chris O'Brien in Lytchett Relays
Chris O’Brien competed as part of a Verwood Runners 3 team that took 12th place in the overall standings

Building up his speed again to level it was at before when he completed his first sub three hour marathon at Abingdon last summer will take quite some doing, but Chris has the tenacity to get back there. It will just take time and a degree of patience.

The overall winners of the Lytchett Relays were the Poole AC Mixed team of Brian Underwood (16.26), John Bassinder (17:40), Lesley Moore (21:23), Dave Hicks (17:09) and Gareth Alan Davies (17:01). They finished in a total combined time of 1 hour 29 minutes and 39 seconds.

That gave them a 2 minutes 36 seconds margin over Poole Runners Mens team 1, who won the male category in a total combined time of 1:32:15. They had Steve Claxton (18:20), Steve Yates (18:32), Paul Currah (18:36), John Towner (19:12) and Dom Wilmore (17:35) in their line up.

A Poole Runners Mens team 2 took 2nd place in the male category with Colin Somers (19:12), Steve Ogles (19:17), Mike Akers (18:58), Nat Willmore (19:30) and Andrew Humphries (18:40) running for them, giving them a total combined time of 1:35:37.

Poole Runners also took first prize in the ladies category as well, with the team of Kate Philpotts (20:15), Sharon Shaw (21:58), Gemma Oliver (21:58), Paula Barker (22:22) and Joanna Westhead 22:59) completing the race in a total combined time of 1:49:32.

The Poole Runners Ladies team 2 took 2nd place in the female category, with their team comprising of Esther Downes (26:17), Faye Law (26:45), Emma Shore (25:10), Rachael Barry (24:52) and Sarah Swift (23:37) achieving a total combined time of 2:06:41.

The top lady in the individual was Fern Kimber of the Super Speedy Juniors who finished in a time of 19:48. Kate Philpotts of Poole Runners was second in 20:15, with Lucy Payne of Plumbers Mates in third in 21:22.

As for Sean Edwards, he now turns his attention to the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon, which will be his first league race representing BAC. He’s also signed up for the Round the Rock 10k the following weekend and will no doubt prove a very useful edition to the team in those upcoming fixtures.

Team Extreme Edwards in Lytchett Relays
The Lytchett Relays proved a fantastic outlet for families, friends and club-mates to get together and enjoy a day’s running, food, entertainment and all-round great fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janet Dickinson BAC sets new British Record w50 Heptathlon & Crowned British Champion.

The British Masters Heptathlon Championships were held in Sheffield last weekend, 14-15 July 2018. These championships take place on an annual basis where Great Britain’s finest Masters Heptathletes compete for the honour of being crowned the British Champion. That esteemed honour was awarded to Janet Dickinson BAC, British Champion.

Janet Dickinson, British Champion with Gold Medal

Dickinson set a new British Record for the w50 Heptathlon in the British Multi Events Championships at the two day event in Sheffield. The previous record stood for over 19 years. Dickinson’s total points exceeded Jean Fails excellent 19 year old record by an astounding 218 points. The new British Record now stands at 5163 points.

Janet Dickinson was all smiles after breaking the 19yr old British record.

Dickinson recorded new PB’s in 80m hurdles in a time of 13.78sec, 200m in 28.31 sec. These results rank Dickinson as GB’s current number 1 w50 in 80mH and number 2 over the 200m.

One of the biggest challenges arose on day two as Dickinson strived to overcome a painful knee. However, she managed to score well and keep the record challenge alive.  Dickinson’s High jump was an SB of 1.37m, Long Jump 4.37m, Shot 9.06m and Javelin 26.20m.  The gruelling last event, the 800m was again a different experience yet she came home in 2min 51sec and managed to remain standing afterwards.

Janet Dickinson collecting her Gold medal

The atmosphere was superb with a great spirit amongst the women competitors. It was a very efficiently and pleasantly run competition at an excellent facility. One competitor stated it was an honour to have competed with such great and welcoming group of athletes in the women’s heptathlon. It was especially great to have witnessed a new British record!

Janet Dickinson at Sheffield with Julie Wilson, winner of the British w55 Throws Pentathlon on Saturday before getting back in action on day 2 winning more Gold Medals.

Dickinson has been preparing well for this event and expressed how pleased she was to have broken the British Master v50 Heptathlon record which has stood for 19 years. During an exclusive interview with BAC, she commented on the brilliant support provided by her coach, Paul Rees, as well as the athletes and officials who helped her through the two days including some dodgy moments. The next big championship for Dickinson is the World Masters championships in Malaga in September and BAC wish her every success!

Janet Dickinson with coach, Paul Rees.

 

SAL Victory in North Braunton!

Team Victory Splash

The long journey to Braunton, Devon was well worth making for the BAC men and women’s team as they triumphed against Radley AC, North Devon and Aldershot. Although it was a convincing win, BAC were pushed hard by Radley who at times were just 3 points behind. A consistent and courageous battle determined a strong finish, putting BAC over 25 points ahead with 214 points and Radley AC on 187.

On the day, the SAL team had an early start, the coach left the Kings Park tarmac at 7am sharp. Considering the long journey they left with smiles, plenty of noise and lots of laughs.
The weather was amazing with the sun a blazing – so was the performance. In fact BAC were on fire with some sporting some very interesting sunburn marks.

It was great to see many new faces making their debut for BAC on the Track & Field scene including Tom Paskins and Laslo Toth.

Some notable performances by the throwers included Danielle Broom and Issobella Shepherd (coach Paul Rees) who fought hard to keep it going in the heat and scoring well for the club. Danielle performed well, with wins in the Shot 10.74m, Discus 41.60m and Hammer, 51.37m as well as a brilliant final leg on an amazing 4 x100m relay team. Issobella threw the Hammer 20.27 and Shot 7.70m in addition to a debut Triple Jump effort to gain extra valuable points and add to her growing list of events contested.

Issy Shepherd
Danielle Broom

Other Bournemouth throwers included the superb Phoebe Dowson, exceeding 53m again in Discus! Dan Brunsden had a great day with a PB in Hammer 47.14m, wins in Javelin 39.37m, Shot 14.20m and Discus 45.49m. A clean sheet of wins in the throwing events for Dan and he also did high jump to maximise points for the team. Dan’s high jump was the talk of the town or more accurately the track. He managed to scale 1.25m for 3rd (same height as 2nd) and with one attempt he remarkably used his well-built, muscular frame to obliterate the entire high jump facility. Impressed witnesses talked in awe of his exceptional efforts and performance, putting many to shame.

Phoebe Dowson

Andrew Sheerin was also on great form throwing a PB in Hammer 37.79m for 1st place and a great shot result, 1st place with 10.96m. Another win in the javelin 29.90m SB. Andrew also scaled the pole vault using an incredibly unique technique, rolling in mind air, up and over the bar like an acrobat. It’s difficult to do it justice in words but he was awesome, clearing 2.20m for 2nd place.

Steve Cox was also on top form in the pole vault and came 2nd (A string) with a PB, 2.60m. It was an exciting performance to watch as the bar went higher and higher. In true BAC form, Steve also pulled in numerous points by covering a multitude of events with zest and enthusiasm, always supporting the action. He ran a PB in the 400mH 85.0 for 3rd, 1st in 200m 30.6, 800m PB 2.52.2 and 4th Steeple which was unfortunately an unofficial time due to the error of the officials. Nevertheless the standings remained, the points were added and the passion to win continued.

Steve Cox 400mH

More top throwing performances came from Janet Dickinson and Joy Wright (both masters athletes) who placed 2nd A string and 1st B String in the Javelin 26.60m and 26.21m PB respectively. Janet also made her mark on the track with a great 200m PB, 28.5, ranking her no.1 in GB age group, 400mH in 76.8, High Jump 1.30m before finishing with a fast starting 4x100m leg.  Joy competed in the High jump and came 2nd (A string) with a PB of 1.38m, a 3rd place 400m (A string) in 63.3 against U20 and is ranked 3rd GB age group. The javelin was delayed and Joy ran the 100m start between throws to gain points in 100mH in 19.4. Joy ran the third leg of the 4x100m taking the bend well to put BAC out in front and the 4x400m.

The South West multi events championships took place the same day and this presented a challenge to fill gaps in events as several BAC athletes were unavailable, particularly the younger ages. This left gaps to fill in sprints and a complete change of 4x100m team which comprised of throwers and middle distance runners. They performed so well to secure 2nd place for the senior women.

The men’s sprinters included Jack Davies and Ryan Markham’s 100m, both in 11.6. Rebecca Hannibal ran 13.3 and Jemma Bates 15.8 to score points for the team. Ladies Team Captain, Jemma ran 400m in 87.4 to bring in the valuable points.

Muiris Egan and Adam Nicholass performed well over 200m against tough competition in a time of 23.3 and 26.3 respectively. Again Muiris did BAC proud with a great 400m win (A) in 53.8 and Adam ran 61.5 for more valuable points.

Muiris Egan 200m
Adam Nicholass Steve Cox behind at the 200m finish

The women’s 200m saw Rebecca Hannibal return to run 27.5 and Janet Dickinson as mentioned above a class 28.5 PB.

Rebecca Hannibal, 200m top bend

Lewis Sainval had a great match with a clean sheet of class wins in 100mH 22.0, High Jump 1.90m (both A string) and Triple Jump 12.92m (B string). He ran, hopped and jumped higher, further and faster by a convincing margin in each event.

Lewis Sainval 110mH

Patrick Sylla had another class win in the Triple Jump 13.48, over 2m more than 2nd place. He also jumped 6.75m in long jump, winning A string by over 1m.  Congratulations to Patrick for being donned ‘Man of the Match’!
Sprinter, Adam Nicholass won B string with 3.97m for top points.

The woman’s triple jump saw Harriet Slade and Isabella Shepherd stepping in to earn valuable points for the club. Neither athlete had any experience in the triple jump yet put in great efforts with Isabella jumping 5.01m. Unfortunately a slight mishap prevented Harriet from scoring in her one attempt before rushing off to her next event.

The team spirit continued to thrive as BAC drew closer to that ultimate win.

Stepping up a distance, Joshua King won the A string 1500m in 4:14.6, SB. Not content with that, Joshua went on to won the 5,000 (A string) in a great time of 16:18.7. Rob McTaggart ran another brilliant race for 1st place (B string) in 16:35.2. Rob also won the B String 1500m in a time of 4:20.3.

Tom Paskins joined the 5,000m in his debut appearance on track for BAC and ran 18:08.7. Marathon man, Tom is well known amongst the road runners and competes in a wide range of distances from 800m to half marathons. He’s not afraid of new challenges and even ran a great Steeplechase 2k for the first time to bring in more points for the team as he was 4th place (A string).

Newcomer Laszlo Toth ran a well-executed 800m in 2:09.5 (ns) before hitting the track for a 1500m PB in 4:30.3 (ns). Laszlo enjoyed his debut match, especially being part of the winning team and the great atmosphere and buzz it brings. He’s looking forward to the next match and is warmly welcomed by BAC.

The women’s steeplechase was an exciting and close race with Harriet Slade well on course to break the 8 minute barrier. However, circumstances dictated the outcome as Harriet tripped and fell during the race. Harriet showed guts and determination as she immediately jumped up and got back into her stride whilst onlookers gasped in amazement. Harriet still ran a PB and came 2nd in 8:02.7. Step aside Mo Farrah. A busy day for Harriet also saw a PB in the 800m 2:26.7 and Pole Vault (PV) 1.20m. She also ran with Nikki Sandell in the 3000m where both came 2nd in 10.56.2 and 12:02.1 respectively. Nikki performed well in the PV scaling a new height of 2.10m for 2nd A string and the 1500m in 5:48.6 to come 2nd ahead of Radley. Holly Collier ran A string and came 2nd in 5:10 which was as great result after an excellent 800m SB of 2:26. Holly ended the day with the steeplechase, her newly embraced event with another PB of 8:21for 2nd (B).

Holly & Harriet Steeple

The club team performed again with determination and much enthusiasm throughout all events. Good times at BAC winning again! Paul Rees

Thanks to the Team Captains Jemma Bates and Andrew Sheerin as well as all officials and supporters alike. Your contribution to the team success is invaluable.

BAC are currently in 3rd place in the division, less than 20 points shy of Basingstoke in 2nd. The top two teams will be promoted to Division 1 and BAC have already shown their potential to achieve this so get the champagne on ice.

Next match is this weekend in Woking on 14 July 2018, where BAC will no doubt give their best performance, resulting in another fantastic day.

Anyone for a dip?

Toby Chapman returns to conquer Mont Blanc 90k

Toby Chapman in Chamonix for the Mont Blanc 90k
Toby Chapman was out for redemption in the Mont Blanc 90k race after he was forced to abandon last year due to altitude sickness

The Mont Blanc 90k race represented unfinished business for Toby Chapman. This time last year he was in the Mont Blanc 80k race as it was then, battling with severe altitude sickness that would eventually put pay to his chances of completing the race.

He’d managed almost 50km and been running for 9 hours 35 minutes before being forced to withdraw from the race. It was gutting for Toby not to be able to complete the distance after working so hard to get himself into the best possible shape he could. But when you’re running on mountains as high as Mont Blanc, with its 6000 metres of vertical, it’s never going to be plain sailing.

Also experiencing disappointment in his other attempt at a mountain ultra race in 2017, the Saloman Ultra Pirineu, a 110k race in the Spanish Pyrenees, Toby had had a couple of tough blows to deal with that year. At the Ultra Pirinieu he’d completed a massive 96km before being forced to pull out through severe dehydration.

It was frustrating as he’d had less than 15k left to go. But again, there is so much uncertainty when running on these kinds of extreme mountains. You can think you’ve cracked and then all of a sudden something hits you and it’s game over.

A lesser man might have decided off the back of those two DNF’s that perhaps these huge mountain ultras just aren’t for them. But not Toby. All they did for Toby was to add fuel to the fire and instil in him an even greater, steely determination to go back and make amends.

At the Mont Blanc 90k he was desperate lay the ghosts to rest of those two DNF’s that had been haunting him ever since.

Of course, that’s easier said than done though. With its ferocious 6220 metres of vertical and 91km length, the race is recognised as one of the most technical ultra trail races in France and is certainly one of the most demanding of its kind.

With narrow, exposed footpaths, snowy sections and an average altitude of over 2000m, the race presents plenty of difficult challenges to overcome.

That said though, the sensational scenery makes up for the difficulty, offering up some incredible sights to behold, including the Mont-Blanc sunrise, the Emosson dam in Switzerland, the Mer de Glace glacier and the sparkling lights on the way down to Chamonix.

The race starts off at Chamonix at an altitude of 1095m and doesn’t get an lower than that throughout. The first 10k is a climb of 1371m which took Toby an hour and 42 minutes to scale. That put him in 41st place at checkpoint number one in Brévent.

Toby Chapman is on his way in the Mont Blanc 90k
Toby set out with a steely determination to make it to the end this time, no matter what it takes

The next checkpoint was Flégere at 18.1k, where Toby arrived in 2 hours 35 minutes putting him in 54th place. Then, by the time he reached the next checkpoint, Tete Aux Vents, at 21.6k, Toby had climbed to 36th place.

Next up was the descent down to Buet, where Toby rolled up at in 3 hours 54 minutes. It was 27.7km from the start, so just under a third of the distance had been covered at this point. Toby had now slipped back to 54th place.

By the time the next checkpoint arrived, the total elevation gain was up to 2500m. Toby had now been running for just over 5 hours and had completed 34.4km.

It was then back down to La Villaz at 38.6km before heading up to Barrage Emosson at 43.6km. It was on the way up to that checkpoint that Toby started to suffer from the altitude. It’s not surprising really since he was at an altitude of over 1800m by that point.

Toby Chapman makes his way along the testing 90km route
Toby makes his way through an area of lush vegetation as he progresses along hugely testing 90km route

Giving himself just over three and a half weeks training out in the Mont Blanc region before the race, Toby had hoped this would provide him some opportunity to get used the altitude a little better.

The problem was though that they’d had such heavy snowfall that winter that he was limited in terms of what altitude level he could actually get to.

Whilst out there, he did some good training with his Bournemouth AC teammate Manol Dimitrov though, who does a lot of mountain running and knows how to handle that type of terrain.

In fact, the week before Toby did his Mont Blanc race, Manol had featured in a 48km mountain race called the Cortina Trail. Unfortunately he had some stomach issues of his own and had vomited a couple of times before abandoning 16.4 miles in.

Manol Dimitrov did some training with Toby in the lead up to the race
Manol Dimitrov was on hand to accompany Toby on some tough mountain excursions in the lead up to the race

It would normally take a runner at least two-to-three weeks to acclimatise properly to high mountain altitude but the more you run in that environment, the more you can learn about what happens to the body and how you can adjust nutrition and speed to cope with the altitude better.

Once Toby got to the top of the climb up to Barrage Emosson he was in 68th and had now racked up an elevation gain of nearly 4000m. It was then down to Chatelard Village at 47.9km, where he arrived in 73rd place with a time of just under 7 hours 54 minutes.

Next it was the climb up to Cotogne, which was the checkpoint he failed to reach last time round. It was on the way up there that he finally succumbed to altitude sickness on that occasion.

He wasn’t about to let that happen again though and powered his way up to the top, arriving in 81st place and in a time of 9 hours 28 minutes. He’d now at least improved upon what he did last year which was a relief, but he didn’t want it to end there.

The next checkpoint was the Col Des Posetties at 57.7km. Arriving in just over 10 hours, Toby has now in 84th place and had reached an elevation gain of over 4400m.

Toby Chapman using his trekking poles
Toby making use of his trekking poles, a valuable asset for mountain ultra running

After that there was quite a bit of descending to do before he got onto the final climb. It was Le Tour first at 62.7km which he reached in 10 hours 41 minutes. Then it was down to Les Bois at 72.8km. Upon reaching that milestone, Toby was now in 80th place and had been going for just under 12 hours and 9 minutes.

It was then onto the final climb, first up to Montenvers and then onto Plan de l’Aiguille. When he arrived the final aid station, Toby was tempted to stop at that point. He knew he was close to town so it would have been easily done.

It seems unfathomable that a runner could go all that way in the race and then pull out so close the end. But that’s how tough these mountain races are. They are as much a mental battle as a physical one.

Grinding out the last climb, once he reached the top, there was no turning back then. He was now in 94th place and had been running for 15 hours 12 minutes. His elevation gain was now up to over 5900m and he’d completed 83.7km of the course.

All that was left was to head down the remaining 8km to Chamonix where the finish awaited. Having gained a few places on that final descent, Toby arrived there in 90th place, crossing the line in a truly remarkable time of 16 hours 9 minutes and 20 seconds.

Toby Chapman crosses the line in the Mont Blanc 90k
That magical moment where Toby crossed the line knowing all his months of hard training and sacrifice had paid off

His total distance covered had reached 93.5km (58 miles) and he had amassed an elevation gain of 6827m (22,400 ft). It had been an incredible journey and he had now had the satisfaction of getting closure on the two DNF’s he suffered last year.

It was a moment Toby will no doubt remember as being a pivotal one in his running legacy. Managing to complete the race despite his problems with altitude sickness was a huge achievement and one that means a great deal to him.

It also showcased the improvements he’s been making in his running over recent times. He’s feeling a lot better in himself and a lot better whilst he’s out there racing, which is great to see.

Toby Chapman reaches the end of an epic race
Although he was exhausted, Toby was thrilled to have made it to the end and laid the ghosts of last year to rest

There were 676 people who managed to complete the race this year and a further 300 or so who were unsuccessful in making it to the end, underlining just how tough it is.

To come in 90th place out of all those competitors was a simply monumental achievement from Toby. Perhaps even more so considering that most of those who finished ahead of him belong to proper mountain ultra clubs and most likely train on that sort of terrain on a regular basis.

When you put all that into perspective, it really was a fantastic run from Toby and he’s done himself proud, his family and friends proud and of course, his club proud as well.

Toby takes some time to reflect after a huge achievement
Toby takes some time out to let it all sink in after an epic journey that saw him realise his dream of conquering the Mont Blanc 90k

 

 

 

BAC scoop the spoils at Portland 10

Bournemouth AC team before Portland 10
Bournemouth AC brought their A-Team to Portland and they weren’t there just to make up the numbers

Last Sunday saw the return of the Dorset Road Race League and it was over to Portland for a tough, turbulent 10 miler that was sure to sort the men from the boys.

Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson had worked hard to assemble a really strong team for the race in the hope that they might be able to come out on top over a consistently solid Poole AC line up.

With the bonus of Rich managing to wangle a couple of late entries to the race, the yellow and blue crew was assembled and ready to be unleashed on the uncompromising island circuit.

In their arsenal were last year’s race winner Jacek Cieluszecki, who tore round the course in dominant fashion on that occasion, registering a time of 54 minutes 24 seconds.

In his first race official race for Bournemouth AC, Craig Palmer was hoping for a good run to follow up his 2nd place in the Purbeck 10k the previous weekend.

There was also a wealth of talent on the undercard for BAC as well, with Tom Paskins returning to Portland after a stunning performance last year saw him take 8th place in a time of 62:10.

Also lining up for BAC after his double marathon a few days earlier was Stu Nicholas, who won one of them and very nearly won the other until he blew up before the last lap.

Adding to that motley crew were László Tóth, who had run a terrific parkrun at Bournemouth the day before, finishing in a time of 17:50. Plus the ever strong and ever reliable Graeme Miller, who had run really well in the half marathon race at the Poole Running Festival to take 6th place in 1:22:30.

Currently in training for the Cross European Dualthlon Championships, Ross Smith was also in action and was hoping to follow up a decent 10k performance at the Poole Running Festival where he took 12th place in a time of 37:24 with another strong display.

They were supported by Rich Brawn, who has had a few PB’s himself over recent times, including a parkrun best of 18:19 at Poole a few weeks prior. Ian Graham was also in action, still looking spritely despite being into his 70’s.

As the race got underway, it quickly became apparent that it was going to follow a similar pattern to last year, with Jacek way out in front, driving up the inclines like they weren’t even there.

Jacek Cieluszecki in Portland 10
Just as he did last year, Jacek Cieluszecki led from the outset

Even Craig couldn’t live with that kind of early pace but he’d established a fairly sizable advantage himself over the 3rd placed runner behind him.

The course is basically a lap and a half round the island, starting just down the road from Portland Red Triangle Cricket Club, which is where the finish is located.

From the start, the route leads down to Portland Bill lighthouse at the most southerly point of the island. Once the first three miles have been completed, there is a turn before the runners head back in the direction they came from, making their way back towards the north of the island.

The 5th and 6th mile feature a beast of a hill that leads up through the town. The worst part is knowing that because the second half of the race is a smaller lap going over what you’ve already done, so you have to go up the hill twice before getting to the top when you can finally cruise into the finish.

The way Jacek cruised up them seem more like a mole hill than a mountain. With his recent lack of speed training and having ran a tough 17 miler at the Pubeck the day before, JC wasn’t expecting to be able to better his time from the previous year.

He still ran well though, crossing the line in a time of 55:54, which was enough to seal a comfortable win. JC’s average page for the run was an impressive 5:33, which is amazing for such a tough, hilly course.

Jacek Cieluszecki was Portland 10 winner
Jacek picks up his prize for winning the Portland 10 race

Just under 3 minutes later, Craig arrived at the finish to take a sublime 2nd place with a time of 58:51. Again, his average speed of 5:53 per mile was super impressive for race of that sort of profile. That made it a magnificent 1,2 for BAC.

Craig Palmer in Portland 10
Craig Palmer took a very strong 2nd place with a time of 58:51

Taking 3rd place for Poole AC was Brian Underwood, in 59:01, with teammate Chris Alborough in 4th finishing in 61:04.

Despite the tragic end to his Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge Run, leaving his feeling completely shattered in the aftermath, Stu showed tremendous character to bounce back from the disappointment and take 5th place on the day, finishing in an excellent time of 61:10.

Craig Palmer was 2nd in Portland 10
Craig picks up the prize for 2nd place

Tom East of Poole Runners took 6th place in a time of 61:51, with the Poole AC duo of John Bassinder and Dave Hicks taking 7th and 8th in 62:04 and 62:18 respectively.

Jacek Cieluszecki picks up prize for 1st M40
JC also picked up the prize for 1st M40

Weighing in with a mind-blowing new 10 mile PB of 62:36, Ross was 3rd scorer for BAC and assumed the final place in the top 10. It was an incredible performance from Ross and one that even he himself was quite surprised at. It certainly bodes well for his training though as he works toward his big duathlon event at the end of October.

Tom Paskins and Ross Smith in Portland 10
Tom Paskins and Ross Smith tackle the hills of Portland

Filing in immediately after Ross was his BAC compatriot Graeme, who took 11th place in a time of 62:39. Graeme was relieved that the sun hadn’t come out to play after such an intensely hot week, and the overcast conditions certainly worked in favour of the runners.

Embroiled in a tussle with László for the first 7 miles, it was the moment when Ross came flying past him at 5.5 miles as if he was standing still that gave Graeme the wake up call he needed.

Graeme Miller and László Tóth in Portland 10
Graeme Miller and László Tóth jostled for position for the first 7 miles

That gave Graeme someone to chase at least for the second half of the race and helped him get into gear. Ross is very strong on the hills though had a tendency to pull away from Graeme on the inclines before Graeme would catch up on the descents.

Before the race Graeme had mentioned to his wife Carole that he though he was in shape for a finish of around 1 hour 3 minutes so he was pleased with his run.

Graeme Miller in Portland 10
After Ross had come flying past Graeme on one of the hills, Graeme did his best to catch him up

After the race, Graeme quickly rushed back to grab a shower before heading off to camp out at Wimbledown over night in order to get tickets for the tennis on the following day.

Tom didn’t have quite as good a run as he did last year, but still turned in a solid performance, crossing the line in 16th place in a time of 63:36.

As for László, he started off promisingly but as the race wore on, he began to tire and his energy levels were depleted. The exertions of the previous day at parkrun may have taken its toll on him as he suffered a fair bit over the final climb.

Crossing the line in a time of 65:12László was very glad to get the race over and done with but he still took 22nd place in a highly competitive field.

Chalking almost 4 minutes off his time from the previous year, Rich Brawn had a very good run, underlining the excellent progress he’s been making of late.

Rich Brawn in Portland 10
Rich Brawn made a significant improvement on his time from the previous year

Finishing in a time of 65:58, Rich came in 28th place, just behind Joseph Sherwood of Littledown Harriers, who he was having a good battle with as they worked their way up to the top of the last hill.

Remembering what happened to him last time after he started off too quickly and really suffered over the second half of the race, Rich tried to take it a bit easier this time, hoping that he’d have some energy saved up for later in the race.

The first couple of miles are predominantly downhill as you head towards Portland Bill so they are always faster. As he got onto the uphill sections, Rich began to find it difficult to establish and maintain a good pace.

Although he found the hill up through town on the 5th and 6th miles tough going, he knew from looking at his mile splits on Strava from last year’s race that he was going quicker than he did then.

It was on the 7th mile that he started to feel strong and began to start going past some of the runners who had previously overtaken him on the way up the big climb the first time.

That was encouraging for Rich and it gave him the impetus to really dig in that final climb and finish strongly. As he reached the cricket pitch where the finish line was located, he was really pleased to see that the clock hadn’t gone past 1 hour 6 minutes yet and made a dash for the line to get in just before time ticked over.

Rich Brawn after Portland 10
Rich was pleased with his time of 65:58 which put him in 28th place

It had been a few years since Ian had done the Portland 10. In fact, his last appearance in the race was 2014. Now in the over 70’s bracket, Ian has had to reduce his weekly mileage somewhat but still enjoys getting out when he can.

Having not done any 10 mile runs in training in the build up to the race but with a couple of 9 milers under his belt, Ian’s only real aim was just to get around and also to enjoy it if he could.

Ian Graham in Portland 10
Ian Graham did well to get a tough 10 miler under his belt

During the race Ian became involved in a tussle with a lady from Poole AC. There was even a bit of argy-bargy as she pushed past him looking for her preferred racing line. This got on Ian’s nerves a bit and he proceeded to sit on her shoulder for the rest of the race, just to annoy her.

Crossing the line in a time of 89:15, Ian came in 156th place overall. He also scooped the prize for 1st place in the 70+ category which was a fantastic reward for his efforts.

Ian Graham picks up prize for 1st M70
It was a win for Ian in the M70 category

Fortunately it didn’t require a penalty shootout to determine who should win the team competition, although in saying that, the race organisers did manage to get it wrong initially when giving out the prizes. They incorrectly awarded 1st prize in the men’s team competition to Poole AC when it should in fact have been Bournemouth AC.

The team competition for the race itself was decided by the cumulative time of the top four runners from each club. The team of Jacek, Craig, Stu and Ross were almost 6 minutes faster than the Poole AC team of Brain Underwood, Chris Alborough, John Bassinder and Dave Hicks. The 2nd BAC team of Graeme, Tom, Laszlo and Rich Brawn were 3rd.

Bournemouth AC were team winners
Jacek, Craig, Stu and Ross were the winning team for the race itself

As far as the Dorset Road Race League goes, it is always the positions of the top five that count for the men’s team competition, so that was a clear victory for Bournemouth AC, with Jacek, Craig, Stu, Ross and Graeme as the scorers. Poole AC were 2nd with Poole Runners in 3rd.

For the ladies team competition, Bournemouth AC unfortunately didn’t have any female members out so there were no points for them there. Poole Runners were the victors in the ladies first division, with Littledown Harriers in 2nd and Egdon Heath Harriers in 3rd.

In the league tables so far, it’s very tight at the top of the men’s first division, with Bournemouth AC now reestablishing their position at the top of the table ahead of Poole AC.

Both teams have three fixture wins to their name, with BAC having managed three 2nd places. Poole AC have two 2nd place finishes but miss out on top sport as they only managed 5th in the Bournemouth 10 fixture.

Rich Brawn with ice cream after Portland 10
The Bournemouth AC members certainly earned their ice creams that day

The ladies team have not dropped down to 4th place in the league after failing to field a team in the previous two fixtures (Portland 10 and North Dorset Village Marathon). Poole Runners top the first division table, with Littledown in 2nd and Poole AC in 3rd.

Hopefully BAC will have more success in getting a ladies team out over the next few races and they can look to climb back up the table.

For the men’s competition, if Bournemouth AC can take this momentum into the next league fixture, the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon on 5th August, and the Round the Rock 10k the week after, they will have a great chance of reclaiming the title back from Poole AC. It’s going to be tight though, so it’s certainly all to play for in the coming months.

Bournemouth AC team after Portland 10
A very successful day for Team BAC saw them take 1st and 2nd places in the individual, 1st place in the race team prize and 1st place in the Dorset Road Race League

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stu Nicholas wins Black Knight Challenge but gets big surprise at Teddy Bears Picnic

Stu Nicholas in Black Night and Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge Runs
Stu Nicholas was faced with the task of completing the Black Knight Challenge Run on the Wednesday and the Teddy Bears Picnic the day after, both of which were on the same 6-lap undulating, off-road course

It was very much a tale of two different marathons and two different outcomes for Stu Nicholas as he embarked upon his latest quest to tick off another couple of races in his bid to reach the big 50 by the turn of the year.

He has done marathon doubleheaders of a weekend before, completing one on the Saturday and another one on the Sunday for instance, thus essentially killing two birds off with one stone. In that sense, he’s no stranger to the rigours of running two consecutive marathons on two consecutive days.

In fact, in January of this year, Stu entered the Winter Enigma at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. He took the option to run back-to-back marathons on the Saturday and Sunday of that weekend and spectacularly won both races.

This time round he was aiming to complete two events put on by Saxons, Vikings and Normans Marathons and Challenges. The first of these was the inaugural Black Knight Challenge Run which held on a Wednesday. That would then be following by the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge Run on the Thursday.

It wasn’t Stu’s first experience of an event put on by Saxons, Vikings and Normans Marathons and Challenges. In November last year, he completed and won the Halloween Challenge marathon. Then five days later, he was victorious in the Enigma Fireworks marathon which was held on Bonfire Night.

But did he have it in him to complete the two marathons back-to-back on this occasion? And did he have the intestinal fortitude to win both of them? That was the question.

Both races were located on the same course, at King’s Wood in the heart of Kent between Ashford and Canterbury. They consisted of six 4.37-mile loops on a challenging trail route with an undulating profile.

Each loop incorporated an elevation rise of approximately 350 feet. The course was predominantly out in the depths of nature, well away from the throws of bustling civilisation.

The track leading into King's Wood
The track leading into King’s Wood

The Black Knight race started at 2pm on the Saturday, which was a scorching hot day. The afternoon start posed some problems for Stu when it came to nutrition.

Despite that though, he assumed an early lead. Due to the nutritional issues, come the half way stage he was running low on fuel and felt like binning it off. It was only the encouragement of race organiser Traviss Wilcox that kept him going.

Track through the forest at King's Wood
The course for both races consisted of 6 laps of woodland trail

He persevered though and managed to complete the 26.2-mile distance in a time of 3 hours 39 minutes. This was enough for a convincing win for the marathon distance, giving him an advantage of 14 minutes over his nearest rival Adam Austen. No one else got under 4 hours for the 26.2-mile distance.

Another path through the woods
With plenty of undulations and mostly hard surfaces, it was a very challenging route

So, it was a good first marathon of the two. Could he follow it up with another success the next day though in his second marathon? It was always going to be a tough ask but if anyone could do it, it would be Stu.

A black knight
There were no photos available of Stu from the Black Knight Challenge Run so here’s one of a black knight instead

The proceedings got off to a good start and the runners and riders were soon on their way. Just as he did in the Black Knight Challenge Run, Stu assumed an early lead and quickly built up a sizeable advantage over the rest of the field.

A track alongside the woods
A track running alongside the woods

As the old Teddy Bears Picnic proverb states though, if you go down to the woods today, be sure of a big surprise. Stu had not taken heed from this though and he hadn’t gone in disguise. He was the same Stu Nicholas who won the Black Knight race the previous day. This time though, he was in for a big surprise.

Pathway through the depths of the forest
The pathway through the depths of the forest

As he was almost ready to start his 6th and final lap, having led the race from the outset, when the extreme heat and the bludgeoning terrain finally got the better of him. He blew up massively and his hip flexors and entire core was shot to bits. He had reached his breaking point and just couldn’t go on.

It was a lovely, quiet route through the woods
It was an opportunity for the runners to be at one with nature whilst they made their way round the course

It was supposed to be marathon number 46, which would mean he only had four left till he reached his 50 benchmark. Sadly though, it wasn’t to be and Stu regretfully had to end the day on 21.85 miles.

As far as the rules of the race go though, you are actually allowed to complete any number of laps you want and provided you’ve done at least one, you get in the results, with your total distance being dependent on laps completed.

Stu completed the 5 laps he did do in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes and 26 seconds. If he’d been able to manage the last lap, he would have finished in a much quicker time than he registered for the Black Knight Challenge the previous day. In fact, he probably would have been looking at around 3 hours 25 minutes.

The fastest man who did manage to complete the 26.2 miles was Paul Richardson who clocked a time of 3:29:55, so although that was still a great time, it wouldn’t have been enough to finish ahead of Stu, had he been able to continue as normal.

Teddy Bears Picnic
Again, there were no photos available of Stu from the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge Run so here’s one of some teddy bears having a picnic instead

Nevertheless, it was still sad for Stu, having gone all that way and having been one lap away from victory – and most importantly ticking another one off the list.

There were learnings he could take from it though and he had discovered that diarrhoea salt replacement sachets are no substitute for electrolyte tablets.

This mishap will mean that Stu has to try and squeeze in an additional, unscheduled marathon before the end of the year in order to meet his target. He’s still got five months left though so if he does one a month, including one this month, in July, he will still make it.

The Black Knight medal and goodies haul
The spoils from Stu’s first marathon of the two, the Black Knight Challenge Run

Next up for Stu it was the Portland 10 – a Dorset Road Race League fixture. This race would offer up an ideal opportunity for Stu to put the disappointment behind him and move on from it.

That’s the good thing about running. No matter what happens, there’s always a chance for redemption just around the corner. Besides, winning one out of two marathons is still a good result and one that most of us mere mortals could only dream of.

Teddy Bears Picnic medal
Stu was still more than deserving of the medal he got for the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge Run

Phoebe Dowson, Discus Bronze Medallist at the British Champs!

The Müller British Athletics Championships took place over the weekend of 30 June – 1 July 2018 at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.

Phoebe Dowson preparing to throw big!   Photo by Mark Atkins, Gettyimages

The best of Britain gathered to compete for the esteemed honour of being British Champion as well as a place on the British Athletics Team for the European Championships in Berlin on 7-12 August and the Athletics World Cup on 14-15 July at the London Stadium.

The Alexander Stadium has played host to numerous memorable British Championships and this trend continued in 2018 including Dina Asher-Smith’s new 100m championship record of 10.92.

A highly competitive field of throwers were lined up for the discus with the top seven throwers capable of exceeding an outstanding 50m. Phoebe Dowson (Mark Chapman, BAC) started the championships with a joint 4th GB ranking and needed to rise to the occasion. She was aware of the level of competition and a top class performance was required to reach the podium.  Phoebe did not allow her nerves to dictate the situation but instead channelled them to fuel an outstanding performance of 53.05 for the bronze medal and prestigious place on the podium.

Phoebe Dowson proudly displays her medal

Phoebe’s senior international debut in the discus was at the winter throws event organised by British Athletics in conjunction with Loughborough University. This is where she also rose to the occasion, throwing a PB of 52.37m to secure her first British vest.

Pheobe is an inspiration to BAC having realised her goal of obtaining her GB vest and being selected by British Athletics to represent the country at the European Throwing Cup. This was held in Leiria, Portugal on 10-11 March 2018 where she came 4th, an outstanding achievement.

Other notable performance include championship best performance 2018, at the Hampshire Athletics Track & Field Championships on 12-13 May 2018 at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth.  Phoebe Dowson threw 52.90m, improving on her previous 2017 record of 51.80m.

Phoebe also formed part of the England’s Team victory on 20 May 2018, at the Loughborough International.   Phoebe saved her best until last with her final throw of 52.39m moving up into second position.

It’s exciting to see Phoebe improving her performances, competing for GB and heading towards the international stage.

Congratulations Phoebe!

Phoebe Dowson preparing to throw big!   Photo by Mark Atkins, Gettyimages

Majestic Maraud for Mark Hillier at Race to the King

Mark Hillier crosses the line in Race to the King
Following his successful completion of the Marathon des Sables, Mark Hillier was back in action again at Race to the King

Less than three months ago Mark Hillier was in the Sahara Desert tackling the toughest footrace on Earth in the 254 km, 6 stage monstrosity known as the Marathon des Sables.

It was the biggest challenge of his life, having to complete huge distances of up to 86km every day in 120-degree heat whilst lugging everything you need for the duration of the journey. But he did it. And thankfully it hasn’t put him off running either and he’s already undertaken his next extreme endurance foray.

This time for Mark, it was the double marathon along the South Downs Way named Race to the King. The event is actually a two-day adventure where participants can run or walk 23.4 miles on day 1, camp out overnight and then complete the remaining 30.2 miles the following day. Or, there is the option to run the whole lot in one go. Since he clearly likes a challenge, Mark of course opted for the latter.

This time his aim wasn’t simply to complete the course though. He had a time goal of under 9 and a half hours and a top 50 finish. That meant that he’d have to push himself to not only go the distance but also to progress quickly and efficiently.

The route started off at the Slindon Estate near Arundel and finishes up at Windsor Cathedral, taking the competitors along the South Downs Way, an ancient path set on a ridge of chalk hills.

Mark Hillier waving in Race to the King
It was a double marathon in store for Mark as he set himself the target of a sub 9 and a half hour time and a top 50 finish

As well as incorporating some breath-taking, panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, there are also numerous historical sites to take in as the participants progress on their journey.

The highlights of the course include The Devil’s Jumps, Queen Elizabeth Country Park along with the infamous Butser Hill, the HMS Mercury, Old Winchester Hill, Beacon Hill Nature Reserve, Cheesefoot Head, St Catherine’s Hill and of course the magnificent Winchester Cathedral.

Mark Hillier jumps for joy in Race to the King
The route was set along the South Downs Way and featured some spectacular scenery throughout

The path actually follows the journey taken by visitors in ancient times to the burial place of the very first kings of England, hence the name ‘Race to the King’.

Although it was a warm day, there were plenty of shaded areas along the course which provided respite from the sun. Mark completed the first 26.2 miles in 4 hours 7 minutes and a that point he thought he might even be in for a sub 9 hour finish, although that was based on a total distance of 52.4 miles when the event was officially billed at 53.5 miles.

Mark Hillier is almost there in Race to the King
After completing the first half of the race in 4 hours and 7 minutes Mark was shaping up to exceed all expectations

Despite taking on plenty of fluids though as well as consuming salt tablets left over from the Marathon des Sables, the threat of cramp reared its ugly head at around mile 17 which hampered his progress severely throughout the second half of the race. It was somewhat disappointing for Mark as he had hoped the salt tablets would act as a remedy to that problem.

Mark Hillier arms out stretched in Race to the King
For much of the race Mark was teetering on the brink of cramp which was a situation he had to manage carefully

As he spent much of the second half of the race managing the situation an attempting to keep the cramp at bay, he lost a lot of time as a result and consequently, heading into the last 3 or 4 miles it began to dawn on him that he might not actually hit his sub 9-and-a-half-hour target after all. Coming past the 1 mile to go marker though he had 10 and a half minutes in the bank so he knew he was home and dry by that point.

Mark Hillier goes through a field in Race to the King
As he neared the end of the race Mark began to worry that he might not hit his sub 9 and a half hour target

Finishing in a time of 9 hours 27 minutes and 11 seconds, Mark ended the race in 20th place overall, out of over 700 people who started the race with the intention of completing it non-stop. That’s a really good result for Mark and he could certainly be pleased with his efforts. His total mileage after stopping his watch was 54.1 miles, so he’d covered even more distance than was officially proposed.

The next venture for Mark is the Purbeck Marathon in September so he’s planning on taking some time out from doing anything too strenuous until he goes into any sort of training regime in around 6 weeks’ time.

Mark Hillier nears the finish of Race to the King
Clocking a magnificent time of 9 hours and 27 minutes, Mark managed a top 20 finish

BAC Masters Athletes Triumph at the Hampshire Vets League in Basingstoke

Winners at the Hampshire Vets League

A contingent of five BAC masters athletes headed to Basingstoke on Monday 25 June 2018 to compete in the Hampshire Vets League as 2nd claim for Southampton AC. BAC made a significant contribution to secure an amazing win for both the men and ladies teams.

The Veteran’s ladies team secured their second win of three matches with a score of 137 points, a good 14 points clear of Winchester. Winchester ladies have historically been dominant in this league and Southampton ladies have only ever secured one match win in the league prior to this season.

Stand out performances came from BAC’s Janet Dickinson with a convincing win in V50 100m in 14.0, 400m in 67.2, Javelin 26.61m and High Jump 1.30m. Also Joy Wright won the V35 400m in 62.3, high jump 1.25m and 2nd place in the 100m in 13.6, just dipping at the line to beat the main rivals, Winchester.

The night was rounded off with an impressive win in the medley relay consisting of 2 x 200m, 1 x 400m and a final 800m leg. Janet ran a fantastic 200m 1st leg and the baton was handed to Joy for the 400m with a close lead alongside Winchester. Joy managed to open up the gap and get the baton to the 800m runner who did a fantastic job to maintain the lead and win in style. Many described it as an exciting relay to be a part of as well as witness. It’s always a great event to bring the team together and the close the match, especially as the winners!

The men were on form yet again and won their match with 147 points, just 4 points ahead of Aldershot, Farnham & District. BAC’s Andrew Sheerin won the M45 Shot with a 9.89m throw and Stephen Dobson came 3rd in a very close competition with an outstanding throw of 10.35m.

Andrew Sheerin sealed another victory in the Hammer with an impressive 37.25m, only just behind the M40 winner (37.69m) and Andy Turner won the M50 Hammer with 34.06m.

The final match in the series is almost upon us on Monday 9 July 2018 in Aldershot. The men won the league and final last year and are looking to repeat this champion performance streak.
A win for Southampton ladies in the final match would secure them a season’s league win and a much desired place in the Southern Counties Finals in Ashford, Kent in September. Come on team, you can do it!