Simon Hunt leaves them trailing in his wake at Black Hill 10k

Simon Hunt crosses the line in the Black Hill 10k
Simon Hunt was in action at the Black Hill 10k, a rural race with hills-a-plenty

Run on an entirely off-road route through the rural Dorset countryside, the Black Hill 10k starts and finishes in the fields behind Bere Regis, taking its competitors on a figure of eight loop through ancient woodland and historic cattle droves.

First heading round Mays Plantation, it then heads up onto a ridge before descending the Jubilee trail to the delightful hamlet of Turners Puddle.

It then veers off to the right, passing over Kite Hill before heading back down the Jubilee trail to Turners Puddle. It’s then up and over Black Hill and onto the finish.

Simon Hunt was the only Bournemouth AC representative looking to get to grips with the undulation course on this occasion. For the most part, Simon enjoyed the route which was predominantly in the woods.

Simon Hunt in the Black Hill 10k
Simon makes his away along the undulating, figure of eight loop

The dry conditions made it a touch easier than it perhaps would have been on wet and muddy ground, but there were still some tough hills to get up and over. None of them were so though that Simon had to walk up, even at his age, he said!

The route was a little further than 10k though. In fact, it was probably closer to 10.5k. Still, no harm in doing a little extra when your in the splendour of the glorious Dorset countryside.

Simon had a decent run, finishing in 45th place overall, clocking a time of 51 minutes and 4 seconds. That put him 2nd in the Male 65-69 category behind Hamish Murray of Purbeck Runners. In total, 276 people took part.

Simon Hunt finishing the Black Hill 10k
Simon approaches the finish in what was a fairly tough but ultimately enjoyable race

There was also a 5k race on the same day, as well as a 3k race for the Juniors. In fact, there was even a Canicross 10k race which was for people with dogs. It wasn’t just for fun either, it was pretty competitive, with each runner have the dog lead tied around their waste to enable them to use their arms for leverage like a normal runner.

The Black Hill 10k is part of the Purbeck Trail Series for 2018, which is made up of six races. The other races in the series are the Lulworth Castle 10k – which Simon has done, the Beast – which Simon has also one, the Studland 5k, the Purbeck Marathon and the Studland Stampede.

The Black Hill Run is the latest of a number of hilly 10k races Simon has done this year, including the Arundel 10k, the Bredon Cricket Club Tower Race and the Jurassic Trail Medium distance.

In fact, you could almost be forgiven for thinking he enjoys these tough, hilly, off-road races. The only question that leaves is, which one will he do next?

Simon Hunt at the end of the Black Hill 10k
Finishing in 45th place over with a time of 51:04, Simon took 2nd place in the Male 65-69 category



Solid first attempt for Steve Parsons at Solent Half Marathon

Steve Parsons at the Solent Half Marathon
The Solent Half Marathon was to be Steve Parsons’ first ever attempt at the distance

Before last Sunday, if you looked at Steve Parsons’ Power of 10 profile, you wouldn’t have seen any record of a half marathon time. In fact, you wouldn’t have seen stats for any race over 10 miles… But you will now.

After selecting the Solent Half Marathon for his inaugural attempt at the distance, Steve actually got on surprisingly well and came out of it wondering why he’d waited so long.

If truth be told, he’d been wanting to have a crack at a half marathon for quite a while now. He’d run the distance a few times before in training and been on the look out for on with a relatively flat course, on perhaps a bright morning with a cool temperature.

Of course, he ended up finding none of those things whatsoever in the Solent Half Marathon but what the hell. He’d entered it now anyway so was going to jolly well give it his best shot.

The course was described as undulating, which was probably a fair description as there were a few hills. In fact, the last three miles were virtually all on an incline of sorts and there was also going to be headwind on that section, making it a very tough finish.

Although he hadn’t studied the profile of the course beforehand, Steve could tell that the first half of the race was going to be quicker, since it was on a slightly downward curve and would carry the benefit of a tailwind.

Time-wise, having not raced the distance before, it was difficult for Steve to gage what he should be targeting. He’d done it in 1 hour 49 minutes in training so he was hoping that perhaps he might get somewhere near the 1:45 mark in race conditions. When he saw the weather forecast though and how wet and blustery it was going to be, he adjusted his expectations to a sub 1:50.

In fact, the weather wasn’t quite as bad as it was forecasted to be but it still wasn’t pleasant. The race started and finished at Gang Warily Recreation Centre in Blackfield, Hampshire.

It was a scenic course, winding through the New Forest around Exbury and along the Solent shore at Lepe. Steve decided to set of reasonably hard and just see what happens.

Spending a lot of the time trying to figure out what pace he needed to run at to get close to 1:45, he ended up continuing to go quicker than his target pace.

Steve Parsons with New Forest in backgound
With the route heading past the New Forest, there was some nice scenery to take in as Steve progressed along the course

For a large part of the race, Steve found himself on his own, with one group about 50 metres ahead of him and another one about 50 metres behind him.

This actually helped him keep going as he could tell the group in front weren’t getting away and he was able to pick off a few of them later on in the race.

He also had a surprise when he ran past his parents who had decided to come out and cheer him on. That helped spur Steve on to keep going. Steve’s dad Dave is of course Membership Secretary for the Bournemouth AC and has been a big part of the fabric of the club for over 40 years.

It was only when he got to around the 11 mile mark that Steve started to realise he might be on for a sub 1:40 time. That was something he’d never even contemplated, but it was all suddenly becoming very real.

Steve Parsons in Solent Half Marathon
Steve handled the increase in distance extremely well and began to realise he could be on for a much quicker time than he’d anticipated

The thought that he could potentially dip under 1:40 helped him push on in the last couple of miles, despite the incline and the headwind. He wanted it badly now and was prepared to give everything he had left in the tank.

Crossing the finish line in an astonishing time of 1 hour 39 minutes and 12 seconds, Steve came in 143rd out of a field of over 400. That was a tremendous result for Steve and one that had certainly exceeded his expectations.

In fact, it would probably be fair to say he was quite shocked at how well it went and he would be inclined to say that it was possibly the best performance he had ever given.

Up until February of this year, the furthest Steve had gone was 10k. He then did the Bournemouth 10 as his first ever 10 mile race and now he’d gone up to the magic 13.1.

It’s been a sharp rise for Steve, taking his distance running into unchartered waters. Judging by how well this one went though, he’s probably highly likely to give it another go. Not immediately though. He’s earned a bit of rest time first of course.

Steve Parsons at Solent Half Marathon
Steve finished up with a very impressive time of 1:39:12, putting him in 142nd place out of over 400 participants







Things are looking up for Toby Chapman in Skyrunning World Champs Ultra

Toby Chapman in the Skyrunning World Champs Ultra
Toby Chapman new he’d be up against some top class opposition at the Skyrunning World Championships but was keen to test himself against the best in the Ultra division

Taking place at Kinlockleven, in the Scottish Highlands, the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships were held over the weekend of 13th to 15th September and consisted of three different races. They were the Vertical, the Sky and the Ultra.

The races were open to both national teams and individuals, with world titles and medals at stake in each of the three distances. The Vertical race was 5km, featuring 1,000m of ascent. The Sky race was a 29km distance with 2,500m of climbing and the Ultra was 52km, with 3,820km of vertical.

One of Bournemouth AC’s top mountain maestros Toby Chapman was in action in the Ultra distance race, which was the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra.

The route took the competitors up to the summit of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and the setting for the world’s first ever mountain running race back in 1895.

The course is highly technical in nature, featuring remote Scottish glens, singular tracks, airy ridges and high mountain passes. In fact, it’s a very challenging route with vast and varied terrain, including river crossings and a traverse of the infamous Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête ridges which leads up to the summit of Ben Nevis. It truly is a course that only the boldest, all-round ultra-runners would dare to attempt.

With some good previous experience of mountain ultra races that included completing the Mont-Blanc 90k in July and taking part in the Ultra Pirineu 110k and the Mont-Blanc 80k last summer, Toby certainly possesses the knowhow to do well.

Earlier this summer, Toby also completed the 53 mile Highland Fling, a trail race featuring 7,500ft of ascent, so he’s no stranger to tough Scottish courses.

Toby Chapman in the Ultra race of the Skyrunning World Champs
With his mountain race résumé growing nicely, Toby was primed and ready for the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra

The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra was a shorter distance than the aforementioned races but was brutal in nature so it was going to be testing.

It rained quite a lot the night before the race though which meant the course had to be changed due to some high scrambles that could’ve been dangerous. Therefore, instead of going up Ben Nevis, the competitors were rerouted back along the West Highland Way.

The change in course actually worked in Toby’s favour and once they came off the more technical terrain, Toby put the hammer down and began to make up several places over the latter stages of the race.

Out of the 367 who started the race, at the first checkpoint Toby was in 64th place, arriving in 1 hour 12 minutes and 32 seconds. At the next checkpoint he was down to 73rd, clocking in with a time of 1:27:05.

Toby Chapman in the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra
A change in course meant instead of going over the top of Ben Nevis, the route ran along the West Highland Way, which suited Toby better

By the third checkpoint he’d climbed back up to 65th place, arriving in exactly 1 hour 49 minutes. There were now three more checkpoints left before he would arrive at the finish. He was still in 65th at the 4th checkpoint, coming in in a time of 2:19:26.

This was where he started to flourish and began to move up the field. As others were beginning to flag, Toby was going well and had moved into 53rd place by the time he arrived at the 5th checkpoint. His time was now 2:48:44.

It was then onto the final checkpoint before the end of the race, where at his time of arrival Toby had shot up to 45th place, registering a time of 3:41:06.

Taking another five places before reaching the finish line, Toby ended up in a magnificent 40th place overall, completing the full 30.7 mile course in a time of 4 hours 46 minutes and 46 seconds.

Toby Chapman on flatter ground in the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra
Once he got on flatter ground, Toby began to motor, picking up numerous places over the last few checkpoints

It was a fantastic result for Toby, especially given where he was in the standings with just a few checkpoints to go. The way he finished the race will be hugely pleasing for Toby.

Of course, if the route up to the summit of Ben Nevis had been upheld, it would have been a lot tougher to make up that ground, but nevertheless, to be so strong in the latter stages is always a good sign.

Despite the change of route meaning a lot less climbing was involved, Toby still racked up an elevation gain of over 5,000ft for the run, so that’s still 1,800m of ascent.

Toby even finished ahead of several of the athletes who were representing their national teams, which goes to show how accomplished his performance was.

The Ultra race was in fact won by a Brit, with Jonathan Albon becoming World Champion, crossing the line in a time of 3 hours 48 minutes. He was 12 and a half minutes ahead of his nearest rival, André Jonsson of Sweden.

Toby Chapman making strides in the Skyrunning World Champs Ultra
A great performance from Toby saw him finish the Skyrunning World Champs Ultra in 40th place, registering a time of 4:46:46 for the 49.4km course





Ollie Stoten plays his cards right at Chiltern Wonderland 50

Ollie Stoten in Chiltern Wonderland 50
Ollie Stoten was looking for podium place in the Chiltern Wonderland 50 to arrest the disappointment of the Ridgeway Challenge 86 Miler when it didn’t go quite as he was hoping

After a minor blip in the Ridgeway Challenge 86 Mile race when he was forced to abandon with just 15 miles to go, suffering from both a hip and an IT band issue, Ollie Stoten was looking to bounce back at the Chiltern Wonderland 50.

Although he was currently in 6th place at the time of pulling out, Ollie wasn’t happy with how the run was going and, given that he was also suffering from an upset stomach as well, the Gods of running just didn’t seem to be on his side that day.

Picking himself up and dusting himself down, Ollie was back in training a few days later and preparing for his next big showdown. The Chiltern Wonderland 50 is a 50 mile race around the beautiful Chiltern countryside.

The area of the Chilterns is renowned for its undulating landscape and the route incorporates 6,500ft of elevation. Taking its competitors on a journey along the Chiltern Way, the Ridgeway and the Thames Path, the Chiltern Wonderland 50 course is scenic and picturesque throughout providing the perfect backdrop for a tough endurance ultra.

Passing through several small and enchanting villages on the way, the route features some great trails, stunning panoramic views and seriously brutal hills. In fact, it all sounds right up Ollie’s street really. He’s a massive fan of long, trail racing with testing, hilly profiles.

The plan for Ollie was to go off steadily, giving himself the prospect of possibly being about to finish strongly and pick up some places over the latter stages when others were floundering.

Hanging back at that start, Ollie made a conscious effort not to get caught up in the race at the front and instead, remained disciplined and going at a pace that he felt very comfortable with.

At the first checkpoint at Tokers Green, 10 miles in, Ollie was in 7th place, arriving in 1 hour 17 minutes and 25 seconds. Then at the 17.7 mile stop, he was in 10th place, having been running for 2 hours 22 minutes.

It felt a bit daunting for Ollie being so far back in the early stages as usually he’d be at the front jostling for position, but on this one he was playing the long game. Crucially, at this point, he didn’t feel like he was pushing too hard. He was just concentrating on fuelling up properly and enjoying the scenery.

Reaching Ibstone at 25.8 miles, Ollie knew he was now over half way into the race. He’d climbed up to 5th place by this time, arriving in 3 hours 33 minutes.

It was around the 45k point (28 miles) that Ollie started to put the hammer down. He still had quite a lot left in the legs and there were some amazing runnable sections of hard-packed trail in the second half of the race that benefited those whose legs were not completely trashed by that point.

At Swyncombe, 33.2 miles in, Ollie was now in 4th position, reaching the checkpoint in 4 hours 39 minutes. His main aim for the race from the outset had been to get a place on the podium but he was still 15 minutes behind the third placed runner.

It was now time to start clawing back the deficit. There was still almost 27 miles left, so plenty of time, provided Ollie could keep up a good pace and with a view to the third placed runner beginning to tire.

Over the next 7-and-a-half miles that’s exactly what happened. By the next checkpoint, Grims Ditch, at 40.9 miles, Ollie had caught Stephen Hobbs, who was in 3rd and had edged in front of him.

Arriving in 5 hours 43 minutes and 25 seconds, Ollie now had a 32 second advantage over Stephen. To have made all that time up in the space of 7-and-a-half miles was pretty damn impressive from Ollie.

It showed that he’d got his tactics right by holding back at the start and saving some energy for the second half of the race. He now just needed to press on for the remaining 9.1 miles until he reaches the finish line.

Ending the race very strongly, Ollie crossed the line in a final time of 7 hours 2 minutes and 14 seconds, giving him a brilliant 3rd place. Amazingly he’d ended up finishing 26 minutes ahead of Stephen who took 4th place. It meant that over the second half of the race, Ollie had gained almost 45 minutes on Stephen.

It was pleasing for Ollie that he managed to secure the place on the podium that he’d been after and all the more satisfying to bounce back with a good performance after the disappointment of the Ridgeway Challenge.

This race will certainly serve as a good confidence booster for Ollie in other races going forward and will give him belief that if he sticks to his own race strategy, he can finish with a flourish, even over long ultra distances.

Ollie Stoten in Chiltern Wonderland 50
Finishing in a superb 3rd place with a time of 7:02:14, Ollie found the strength to pick up the pace in the second half of the race, gaining 45 minutes on the man he overtook to claim a spot on the podium






JC proves prowess at Purbeck whilst Kirsty completes debut marathon

Kirsty Drewett in action at the Purbeck Marathon
Kirsty Drewett was taking on her first ever marathon at the Purbeck Running Festival and, given the venue, it certainly wasn’t going to be an easy initiation

It was a day when three Bournemouth AC members at very different ends of the scale came together to compete in one of the most rural and picturesque, yet one of the most challenging and demanding marathons that the south-coast has to offer. It was of course the Purbeck Marathon which, together with the Purbeck 16, formed the agenda for the Purbeck Running Festival.

Just one week after his incredible performance in the 7 Valleys Run 100k back in his native Poland, where Jacek finished in a very commendable 8th place in a highly competitive field, he was back in action.

Although he’d had very little recovery time for such a long and demanding mountain ultra, JC couldn’t resist the lure of a race on his beloved Purbeck and he simply had to give it go.

As for Kirsty Drewett, the furthest she’d ever raced before was a half marathon, so for her it would be a completely new experience. After suffering with a serious foot injury which had meant she’d done virtually no running in the build up for the marathon. There was only one thing for it. She would simply have to wing it.

It wasn’t just for fun that Kirsty was doing it for. She was also raising money for the Forest Holme Hospice Charity in memory of her late partner Ian Darnell, who tragically lost his battle with lung cancer in 2008.

She was determined not to let the charity down or any of the people who had kindly donated money to a cause so close to her heart. Therefore, despite the lack of training she had behind her, she was going to be on that start line and ready to give it everything she’s got.

The other BAC member looking to pit his wits against the impervious hills of the Purbeck was Mark Hillier. Mark specialises in ultra distance races of the more extreme nature. He’s completed the Marathon des Sable, a 7-day, 254km trek across the Sahara Desert that is reputed to be the toughest footrace on Earth.

He’s also complete the Pilgrim Challenge, a two day, 66-mile race staged on the North Downs Way and a double marathon along the South Downs Way, in Race to the King.

With that kind of repertoire, you could be forgiven for thinking that a normal marathon would be a walk in the park for Mark, but a race on the Purbeck never is. The terrain is always testing and always unforgiving. No matter who you are or what experience you have behind you, the Purbeck always provides a challenge.

As one would expect from a marathon on the Purbeck, the course was predominantly off-road and featured 3,000ft of climbing. It’s actually closer to 27 miles that the traditional 26.2 as well, just to add to the challenge.

Starting and finishing in Swanage, it heads toward Durlston Country Park and the Jurassic coast path before going through the villages of Worth Matravers and Kingston. It then heads over to Swyre Head, passing Heavens Gate and along the ridge towards Tyneham Cap.

The route then veers off the coast path and through the desolate village of Tyneham before continuing along the ridge to the Purbeck Hills towards Corfe Castle. After going through the village square it then returns to the hill Ridgeway and heads toward Swanage to finish back on the seafront.

The spectacular views out en route can help combat the feeling of fatigue as the regular ascents and uneven terrain begin to take its toll.

Jacek Cieluszecki is ready for the Purbeck Marathon
Despite it being only one week since he completed the 7 Valleys Run 100k, Jacek couldn’t resist a race on his beloved Purbeck

Off the back of his tough 100k adventure, Jacek didn’t really know what to expect going into the race. It went well though and he was feeling surprisingly good considering.

Manoeuvring into an early lead, JC soon began to build up an advantage over his nearest rivals. Jacek is something of an expert when it comes to running on the Purbeck as it’s his favourite training ground. There are very few who can match him on this type of terrain.

Jacek Cieluszecki at the start of the Purbeck Marathon
And they’re off, with Jacek leading the way on the right-hand side of the shot

At one point in the race he was even thinking that a course record might be a possibility, but an unplanned visit to the bushes and mile 20 and some broken shoelaces on mile 23 put pay to that.

In spite of those mishaps, Jacek had a terrific run, crossing the line well out of sight and out of mind for any of the other competitors. His finishing time was 3 hours and 20 seconds, which may not sound super fast for a marathon but on the undulations of the Purbeck, it’s pretty damn impressive.

Jacek Cieluszecki wins Purbeck Marathon
Jacek picks up his prize for winning the 2018 Purbeck Marathon

It was in last year’s edition of the Purbeck Marathon that Alex van Tuyl of Southampton set a new course record, crossing the line of 2:56:34, toppling Steve Way’s previous landmark of 2:56:52.

Perhaps on another day, without having run 100k mountain ultra the weekend before and with no unplanned stops, Jacek could have a serious tilt at breaking that course record and he’d dearly love to give to go.

Jacek Cieluszecki with trophy for winning Purbeck Marathon
Jacek proudly holds his trophy aloft after a very convincing victory

Only having been over the 16 mile mark once in the build up to the Purbeck Marathon, Kirsty had no idea what was going to happen and she felt woefully undertrained.

She didn’t really have any particular time in mind that she wanted to complete it by. She was merely hoping to get to that finish line. That would be massive achievement under the circumstances.

Waiting on the start-line, she was anxious to get proceedings underway. She started at the back of the field, which may not have been the best idea since there were long queues for all the styles.

Six miles into the race she glanced at her watch and saw that her heart-rate was higher that what she felt would be sustainable. Her immediate response was to flick the setting onto current pace, so she couldn’t see the time, distance or heart-rate as they were distressing her. She needed to stay calm and relaxed.

As she approached the route switch in Kingston she was gutted to hear the two leaders from the 16 mile race approaching swiftly and had the fight the urge not put in a surge so she could remain unlapped.

On the approach to Tyneham she began to settle down a bit and even started to enjoy herself a bit. This was the only section of the course she was not familiar with. At that point the temperature started to warm up a bit though and Kirsty began to struggle a bit in the heat. That was a battle which would continue right to the end.

Kirsty Drewett in the Purbeck Marathon
Kirsty often heads over to the Purbeck for a weekend run so she knew most of the trails en route

Finding it difficult to judge her effort in the second half of the race, Kirsty was able to run up all the climbs but she didn’t know how much energy she needed to save.

The approach to Corfe Castle took an unexpected route for Kirsty and she found it to be a terrifying descent. It took most of the run through Corfe village for her to shake off the panic.

On the final leg back to Swanage she passed Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson for the second time. Rich was out on the course cheering on his BAC teammates and other friends who were competing.

Rich Nelson was out supporting in the Purbeck Marathon
Rich Nelson almost felt like he was in the race himself tearing around to see friends as they progressed along the course

One of the most unexpected challenges for Kirsty was feeling too weak to open many of the gates. With the field very strung out, she found herself often having to climb over them instead, which became rather comical over the last six miles.

The last mile was by far the hottest and the tarmac seemed never ending but amazingly, Kirsty’s legs were still moving quite well. She flipped her watch back to see that she’d already gone over 26 miles but the time was fast approaching the hour.

She was a bit gutted not to have checked 10 minutes earlier so she could have put in a bit extra to sneak under. In the grand scheme of things though, it didn’t matter. She was heading to the finish and was about to complete her first ever marathon and that was a wonderful achievement in itself.

Rich Nelson supporting Jonathan Woods of Littledown Harriers
Cheerleader Rich running alongside his friend Jonathan Woods who runs for Littledown Harriers

Although the views were stunning, she found herself looking at the floor quite often as she had to watch where she was going. The fact that she’d managed to complete the course  was something she couldn’t quite take in.

Crossing the line in a time of 5 hours and 51 seconds, Kirsty finished 73rd overall and was 11th placed lady. She was also 7th in the Female Vet 40 category.

Both the distance and the time on her feet for a first for Kirsty so she had no idea how the fatigue would impact her. She was grateful to have her Dad meeting her at two points on the course with extra fuel and then surprising her at two other points to remind her to drink it.

He absorbed all the abuse he was getting about the heat and still managed to make it to the finish to catch Kirsty as she crossed the line.

It was an outstanding performance from Kirsty. To be able to go in and complete an extremely tough marathon without being able to actively partake in proper training regime beforehand is something of a minor miracle.

It demonstrated a great spirit and will to succeed from Kirsty, whatever the circumstances and will perhaps give her confidence for a future marathon attempt, knowing that with the right training behind her, she could push for a much faster time.

Kirsty Drewett with her Dad before Purbeck Marathon
Kirsty had support from her Dad who came to cheer her on and unwittingly bear the brunt of her gloom at times

The other Bournemouth AC member in action, Mark Hillier, was accompanying a friend of his in the race. His friend, Mark Kingswell, also has designs on completing some ultras. The Purbeck was his first proper timed marathon event so this one was all about getting him round in one piece.

Mark’s friend coped well  and, although he was tired in the last couple of miles, he got round with no injuries and has recovered well since, so for Mark, it was mission accomplished. The pair crossed the line in 132nd 133rd place in 5 hours 39 minutes, putting them 37th and 38th in the Male Vet 40 category.

In February 2019, Mark will be dragging his friend round the Pilgrim’s Challenge course, which is 66 miles split over two days. As for Mark, he takes on the Bournemouth Marathon in a week and a half in what will be his only road marathon of the year.

Mark Hillier gives a wave in the Pubeck Marathon
Mark Hillier was accompanying a friend of his who was doing his first official marathon

The target for Mark is under 3 hours 30 minutes, but he’s under no illusions that it’s going to be touch and go. He often tends to go out too quickly in marathons, at a pace that feels comfortable up until he gets to the 17 mile point and then it starts to hurt.

Mark does have some hip flexor and glute issues at the moment that will require monitoring but he did manage a 20 mile run on Sunday which, if he could keep the pace up would see him finish in a time of 3:14. He feels it’s likely that the wheels could come off and the final 6 miles will be a nightmare.

It’s a tough one as his brain is telling him to bank some time in the earlier miles for when he starts to slow in the latter miles but in truth, that tactic is probably not going to work. Perhaps it would be better to stick to a steadier pace for the first half to give himself more chance of maintaining the pace, or potentially even running a negative split.

Mark Hillier flying along in the Purbeck Marathon
Mark will be in marathon action again in a week and half’s time at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival

For April 2019 Mark has a much more hardcore prospect lined up as he has entered The Oner. The Oner is the mother of all ultra trail runs, consisting of 82 miles from Portland to Studland, Poole. It follows an extremely challenging section of the Jurassic coast path with over 10,000ft of ascent.

The course is so brutal, it even scares Mark a bit and he’s done the Marathon des Sables. He has a bit of a mental block when it comes to doing anything over a double marathon in a single hit so this will be a massive challenge for him, both mentally and physically.

With a view to doing to UTMB in a couple of year’s time though, The Oner will be a good test for Mark of how far away he is right now.

Jacek Cieluszecki shows off his winner's trophy
Jacek shows off his gleaming winner’s trophy – another one to squeeze on the mantlepiece






One long race for a man, one giant leap for Jez Bragg

Jez Bragg in the Tor des Géants
Jez Bragg was embarking on the biggest challenge of his glittering running résumé when he took to the Italian Alps to face the legendary, 339km Tor des Géants

We’ve seen some incredibly impressive feats of endurance in recent weeks from Bournemouth AC members. There was of course Linn Erixon Sahlström’s 123 kilometre escapade over the fabled slopes of Mont Blanc in the TDS race. Then, also at the UTMB, Damian Boyle battled his way through the 101km CCC race.

Ant Clark’s spectacular success in the World 100k Championships has been well documented, with an 8th place overall finish and a 1st M40 over the line distinction. On that same weekend, Jacek Cieluszecki was tackling a 100k race of his own in the 7 Valleys Run, staged in his homeland of Poland, with JC also occupying 8th position in another high standard field.

These kinds of distances seem a hell of a long way to go in a one-off race and, as anyone who has ever done a marathon will know, the thought of doing that amount of running, nearly two-and-half times over is a seriously daunting proposition.

Amazingly, one Bournemouth AC member took things one step further when he entered the infamous and legendary Tor des Géants. The Tor des Géants is without a doubt one of the longest, toughest and most demanding non-stop trail races on the planet.

With a course billed at 330km in length (205 miles) and the setting being in the Italian Alps, as one would probably gather, the terrain isn’t flat. In fact, the route incorporates an elevation gain of 24,000 metres (78,700 ft), so this is no straight forward, long distance ultra race.

But who would be crackers enough to even attempt such a ‘mission impossible’? Of course, it could only be, the one and only Jez Bragg. To be fair, Jez does have a pedigree in doing the most extraordinarily challenging of races.

In May 2017 he completed the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, a five day mountain ultra covering a  total distance of 315 kilometres and featuring 15,500 metres of ascent across the spine of Wales.

In 2013 he ran across the entire length of New Zealand, meaning both the North and South islands. The 3,000km route took him 53 days to complete, setting a new record for the fastest time anyone has gone across the entire length of the country on foot.

Whilst those were both amazing achievements in their own right, they didn’t entail continuous running from start to finish. That would be a somewhat different prospect altogether.

To complete the Tor des Géants, he was going to have to dig deeper than ever before. As Jez himself said previously though, the greatest of adventures are those with the highest risk of failure.

It would probably be fair to say that this year has been a mixed bag for Jez and has brought both ups and downs. He was forced to pull out of the UK 100k Championships when representing England at the Anglo Celtic Plate. That was due to a horrific stomach bug he’d picked up just 24 hours before the start of the race.

Showing great character though, he came back and made amends by completing the Belvès 100k. The Bèlves 100k was the French National Championships for 100k and, whilst being a foreigner meant he didn’t have all the luxuries that his French rivals had afforded to them, being followed around on bikes with drinks, gels and food etc, it did mean that he qualified the open race.

The open race was for all those not competing in the French National Championships. Finishing a brilliant 4th overall, Jez received  a trophy for his 1st place in the open race.

Jez unfortunately also suffered a DNF at the Paddy Buckley Round, a fell running challenge in Snowdonia, where he completed the bulk of the slightly over 100k route before the tough terrain eventually took its toll and he was forced to abort.

At the Tor des Géants though, he was determined to see it through, no matter what. Jez’s epic journey began on Sunday 9th September at 12 noon (11am UK time).

The start of the Tor des Géants
The famous Tor des Géants gets underway from Courmayeur, as 900 runners set off on the most epic of adventures

The race’s previous history suggested it would take days to complete, with the very top runners over previous years take around 80 hours to get to the finish. That’s well over three days of non-stop running. And for the average runner in the field, it would be a lot longer.

How you even begin to think about pacing yourself for a run like that is hard to comprehend. Jez weighed in with a 6:54 mile though, although it was mostly downhill to be fair.

That quickly changed though as he started going up the first of 20 2,000m passes that he would have to overcome if he was to make it to the end. It was a hugely daunting task when you look at it as an overall spectacle. As with all races though, the trick is to break it down into smaller chunks.

The gradients were super steep and he was thrust straight onto an upward curve of 27%. By the time he’d reached the top of the first mountain, he’d already racked up an elevation gain of almost 4,000ft. It was truly brutal. All part of the fun though of course.

After 2 hours and 42 minutes Jez reached the first checkpoint of La Thuile. Impressively, he was in 16th place out of 900 who started. At the next checkpoint of Rif. Deffeyes, he’d moved up to 12th and had been running for 4 hours 32 minutes. In terms of this particular event though, the race was still young.

The second big climb took him up to 20 miles in and his elevation gain was already up to 9,000ft. By the 50k point in the race at Valgrisenche, Jez had broken into the top 10 and had been running for 8 hours 45 minutes. He knew there was still a long way to go but at least it felt at this point like he was making progress.

As night fell, Jez carried on running. Due to the non-stop nature of the race, he knew sleep tactics would be all important. Along with the other fast guys, he was keen to see how far he could push it though and kept going all the way through the night.

Around 100km in, Jez had climbed to the highest altitude point in the race at over 3,300m (10,500ft). At that kind of high altitude, the air gets pretty thin and Jez was suffering from lack of acclimatisation.

He persevered though and at 8:14am, Jez arrived at Cogne, 108km into the race. He could at this point have been about the third of the way through so this was a big step. He’d now been running for over 20 hours and traversing up and down mountains for that length of time is incredibly demanding.

He wasn’t about to stop there though and Jez battled on. At 4.51pm that afternoon he arrived at Donnas, 153km into the race. He’d now been going for almost 29 hours and was still sitting 9th in the standings.

The slopes of the Tor des Géants
A spectacular scene on the slopes of the Italian Alps with a picturesque, pink sky backdrop

He then began the long journey to Gressoney St Jean, which would take him up to the 207km point. That meant another tough night out on the slopes.

Unfortunately, the thin, cold air at the top of the mountains had given him a chest infection which meant his breathing was severely compromised. As if it wasn’t already a hard enough challenge, he now had that to contend with as well.

Over the course of the night, he allowed himself 50 minutes sleep before getting up and preparing to get back out there. He didn’t want to lose any time to his rivals, so although it was tough keeping alert and staying safe on mountain terrain at nights, he had to try and stay focused.

At 11:44 the next morning he arrived at Gressoney St Jean. Another huge step in the journey had been taken and he’d been running for almost two full days.

There was no time to rest though. He had to get back out there and carry on the journey. Next it was onto Valtournenche, 240km in. This was quite a big landmark as it meant he technically only had 100km to go. 100km is still a lot of course, but if you’ve already done 240km, that probably puts a slightly different complexion on it.

Arriving at Valtournenche at 10:16pm, he’d now been going for a massive 56 hours. Due to the breathing issues he was having though, he had began to slow down a bit by this point and had slipped to 12th in the standings.

Showing tremendous courage and tenacity though, Jez trooped on and made his way toward the next big milestone, which was Ollomont at 288km. Reaching Ollomont would mean only 50km to the finish line.

That night he allowed himself only a couple of 10 minute laps as he was so conscious of not losing any time to his fellow rivals, especially is his breathing was still causing him problems.

Before reaching Ollomont though, he first he had to make it Oyace, which he managed by around midday on the Wednesday. That meant he’s been running for 72 hours, so three full days.

How he was still going is difficult to perceive but he was and it didn’t seem like anything was going to stop him. At this point Jez was at 256km and was currently lying in 14th place.

Five hours later he arrived at Ollomont, taking him up to 288km. It was a simply breathtaking display of determination and grit. A never say die attitude that very few are lucky enough to possess.

A few hours later he reached the 300km point in the race, which was another huge milestone to get to. He’d now been running for 18 hours and had incredibly reached an elevation gain of 28,000ft.

He was now in 16th place. It was 8pm though, so having 40k still to go meant he had another long night out on the rugged slopes ahead of him.

It must have been mentally tough for Jez to prepare himself for that, but he would have been buoyed by the fact that if he could make it through this one last night, he would surely see the finish on the following day.

With that in mind, he battled on, reaching the next checkpoint at Bosses at 2:30am. That night he allowed himself one hour’s sleep before he got back out there.

He’d lost a few more places by the time he got to Rif. Frassati at 7:11 on the Thursday morning but he kept going and did his best, despite his breathing issues, to maintain the pace. It was then onto the penultimate checkpoint of Rif. Bertone, which he arrived at at 10:39am.

45 minutes later, his monumental journey reached its conclusion when Jez arrived at the finish line in Courmayeur. He’d only gone and done it! He’d completed all 339km of the Tor des Géants! He’d taken on the toughest mountains the Italian Alps has to offer and looked them right square in the eye and said “You are not going to defeat me!”

Jez Bragg finishes the Tor des Géants
After four gruelling days in the Italian Alps, having covered almost 400 kilometres and climbed 80,000ft of ascent, Jez crosses the famous yellow ramp to complete his epic Tor des Géants journey

It was a dream come true for Jez. He’d been on the most amazing adventure and he’d seen it through to the end. In spite of all the difficulties he’d suffered along the way, he had kept on going and had refused to let anything stand in his way.

His official time was 95 hours 24 minutes and 9 seconds, so he’d made it just before the four full days of running were up. He’d scaled an elevation of 30,900m (80,000ft) and had finished in 23rd place. It was a truly astonishing piece of running, even by Jez’s very high standards.

In fact, the 339km (210 miles) it was meant to have been was way off the mark. By time he arrived at the finish line, Jez had actually run over 245 miles, which is 394km. That was a big difference and makes completing the race seem even more impressive and even more of a superhuman achievement.

Although he went through some difficult times over the duration of his four day foray, Jez said it was the most amazing experience. The local people of Astoa Valley, which is where the route circumnavigates, were very kind to the runners. They gave them great levels of support from the mountain huts and were very passionate about helping the runners through it.

They even fed the competitors and gave them shelter when needed and their warmth provided Jez and his fellow participants with the strength they needed to keep going.

Jez was the first Brit to cross the line, which was a huge accolade in a very diverse, international line up, finishing 30 minutes ahead of Jamie Aarons who came in 26th place.

There were athletes from all over the world taking part. Of course, there were many Italians, with it being on their home soil, but there were also Americans, Canadians, French, Spanish, Swiss, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, South African and many, many other nationalities being represented.

Jez Bragg and Paul Tierney after completing the Tor des Géants
Jez compares notes with Irishman Paul Tierney over which one of the 25 or so mountain passes was the toughest

The race was won by Franco Colle of Italy, who finished in a time of 74 hours and 3 minutes. Galen Reynolds of Canada was 2nd in 74 hours 40 minutes.

In total, 534 of the 894 who started the race managed to make it onto the famous yellow ramp of the finish line. That meant that 360 of the participants sadly did not make that far, so it was a 40% drop-out rate. That just underlines how difficult this race actually is. Each and every one of the competitors will no doubt have stories to tell about their truly unique Tor des Géants experiences though.

Out of all the races he’s done in his illustrious running lifetime, Jez said this one was by far the hardest. That’s saying something as he’s done some other incredibly demanding events in the past. He was glad to get it done and get it ticked off his bucket list though and he was extremely proud to be a finisher.

After the race they had a ceremony in Courmayeur, where all the finishers were presented with a special finisher’s jersey. It was a journey that had taken Jez deeper than he’d ever gone before but he felt hugely blessed to have made it.

At the end of day though, or rather in this case, the end of the four days, was it all worth it? The relentless ascents, the trashed and painful quads, the breathing difficulties, the sleepless nights, the extreme levels of fatigue…

Here’s a quote from Jez that perhaps goes some way toward answering that question: “The mammoth scale of the challenge creates a constant rollercoaster of emotions, but at the end, the ultimate sense of contentment knowing the most special of journeys is safely saved in the memory bank.”















Ant Clark delivers performance of his life at 100k World Champs

Ant Clark at the 100k World Championships in Croatia
Ant Clark was representing Great Britain at the 100k World Championships in Croatia

It is always a special moment for Bournemouth AC when the club sees one of its members representing the country at international level. It’s something that has only happened on a handful of occasions in the past.

There was that time when Steve Way famously represented England at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. That was after he shocked everyone by appearing out of nowhere to break the qualifying time in the London Marathon.

Then there’s Pat Robbins, who has represented Great Britain in the 24-Hour World Championships and European Championships. Ross Smith has represented Great Britain on numerous occasions in major Cross Duathlon events and is set to compete in the European Championships this October.

Both Anthony Clark and Jez Bragg have represented England multiple times in the Anglo Celtic Plate, the UK Championships for 100k, as did Jon Sharkey in 2015.

When the selections for the IAU 100k World Championships were announced, it was exciting to see two Bournemouth AC names among those selected in the Great Britain team. Both Ant Clark and Steve Way had been picked.

Ant earned his selection after finishing in 2nd place at the Anglo Celtic Plate, losing out on victory by the smallest of margins. Frustratingly he was also only 38 seconds away from a sub-7-hour time, which is considered to be the ultimate target for a 100k race.

Steve earned his place off the back of a stunning performance at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, where he secured a sensational podium position, finishing 3rd with a time of 5 hours 35 minutes and 26 seconds. That was a mightily impressive effort, even by his high standards, for a distance that was just over 90 kilometres.

As soon as he got the call, Ant set about making plans for an intense and rigorous training routine that could help prepare him to mix it with the world’s elite.

Steve had every intention of doing the same thing but unfortunately picked up a calf injury that prevented him from getting out and running. At that time he was doing most of his cardio on the cross trainer in a bid to try and maintain his fitness.

On the morning of the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon, Steve went out for a long training run, which he was hoping would incorporate the race as well.

Unfortunately he never made it that far and was forced to call his wife Sarah and ask her to pick him up after the injury flared up. He knew then that his hopes of making the World Championships were over.

As for Ant, he wasn’t satisfied just to be picked to run for Team GB. He was determined to work hard and get himself in the best shape possible the race. He wanted to measure up against the best in the world.

His training schedule included a block of four consecutive 120 mile weeks and in his last big week before tapering he packed in 127 miles.

It wasn’t just the long runs he was doing. It was also high intensity interval sessions often consisting of 1k efforts. He was often seen at Poole parkrun running round the course several times, sometimes still ending up as first finisher on the round where everyone else does it.

He was training like a machine but yet the most human kind of machine you could get, always willing to stop and talk to people before he set of on his next run. And he was always doing it with a smile on his face, despite how hard he was obviously working.

Never once did he complain about the huge workload he was taking on, or moan about being tired or having any niggling injuries. He just got on with it and continued to push through, regardless of the stresses and strains he was putting on his body.

He even went on a low calorie diet whilst training in a bid to get himself in as leaner physical condition as he could. As he progressed with his training plan, he began to look stronger and stronger and appeared more and more shredded.

In the week leading up to the race he went through a carb depletion process for the first three days of the week where he consumed no carbs at all before entering the loading phase for next few days.

When it came to the big showdown, Ant was in the best shape of his life and was absolutely raring to go as he boarded his flight to Croatia, where the 2018 World 100k Championships would be taking place.

Ant Clark with his GB teammates at 100k World Championships
Ant with his Team GB squad at the opening ceremony of the 100k World Championships

There was a real buzz of excitement as he met up with his Great Britain teammates for the event and it was an emotional moment for Ant when he participated in the opening ceremony. That really brought home what it means to be representing your country on the world stage.

Ant Clark with his Great Britain teammates for the 100k World Championships
Ant with all his Great Britain teammates for the 100k World Championships

When the day of the race arrived though, it was strictly down to business for Ant and he was looking for a big performance. The course consisted of a 2.5km loop to start off with. That would then be followed by 13 laps of 7.5km.

Ant Clark with his Great Britain men's team for the 100k World Championships
Ant with his Great Britain men’s team colleagues Rob Turner and Lee Grantham for the 100k World Championships

Making a solid start, he reached the 10k point in 40 minutes 34 seconds, putting him in 29th place. Being able to do this same distance another nine times, at that same pace, was a tough ask but one thing was for sure and that was that Ant would give it his absolute best.

Reaching the 25km point in 1 hour 41 minutes, with a quarter of the race down, it looked like a sub-7-hour finish would be a real possibility for Ant. Of course, it was still a long way to go yet and maintaining the pace for the duration was always going to be difficult.

Ant continued banging out the laps with tremendous consistency, never faltering and never wavering until, after completing his 8th lap, he reached the 55km point. By this time he’d climbed up to 20th place in the standings and was gradually working his way up the field as the laps went by.

By the time he’d completed his 9th lap he’d taken a couple more places, putting him in 18th with a total time thus far of 4 hours 11 minutes and 29 seconds. This was at the 62.5km point.

Others were beginning to fade and tire but Ant stayed strong, consistently knocking out each lap in around 30 minutes. It was a truly amazing show of endurance. At the end of the 10th lap he was up to 16th place, having now completed 70km in a time of 4:41:46.

After his 11th lap, Ant had risen to 13th place on the leaderboard, reaching the 77.5km mark in 5 hours 12 minutes. It wasn’t that Ant was speeding up when overtaking his competitors. It was more a case of, they were slowing down, and he was keeping his lap times consistent despite having run such a long way.

Ant Clark in the zone at 100k World Championships
Ant is in the zone as he races along to complete another lap displaying incredible strength and consistency

Once lap 12 was complete, he’d moved up to a staggering 8th place. He was now in the top 10 of the World Championships. This would be a truly phenomenal feat if he could see it through. He’d now completed 85km in a time of 5:42:39, meaning he had just 15km left to go.

Running his penultimate lap in 30 minutes and 32 seconds, he’d once again nailed another consistent lap, bringing him to 92.5km, leaving just one 7.5km lap to go. He was now at 6 hours 13 minutes, meaning if he could manage another lap of roughly 30 minutes, he would be comfortably inside 7 hours.

It was all beginning to get very real for Ant. This was it. It was the performance of his life. He had exceeded all expectations. Of course, he didn’t let the ecstasy he must have been feeling inside impact him on his last lap and refused to allow any slackening of the pace, completing the final 7.5km in 30 minutes 11 seconds.

He grabbed a Union Jack flag as he approached the home straight, holding it aloft as he went over the finish line. It was a very proud moment for Anthony, as was it for his dad who was in the crowd supporting.

As he reached the line, despite having run 100km, he somehow managed to find the energy to jump for joy, thus creating an iconic image that will live long in the memory for Ant and anyone who knows him.

Not only had he taken 8th place in the 100k World Championships, he was first M40 over the line, making him officially the M40 World Champion. He was also the top Brit and the 2nd European to come in, after Giorgio Calcaterra of Italy, who was 7th.

Ant Clark jumps for joy in 100k World Championships
Ant jumps for joy after taking 8th place in the 100k World Championships

It was a history making performance from Ant and he’d got his name well and truly etched in the record books. His finishing time of 6 hours 43 minutes and 22 seconds landed him 7th on the list of the best 100k runs of all-time from a British athlete. That’s the very same list that is topped by a certain Steve Way.

Ant Clark crosses the line in 100k World Championships
Ant crosses the line in a fantastic time of 6 hours 43 minutes and 22 seconds

His average pace for the full 100k was a staggering 6 minutes and 25 seconds per mile. Imagine running that for 62.72 miles without slowing down one iota for the entire duration. It was a simply phenomenal run and his mile splits for the activity on Strava illustrate just how impressive it was.

Ant Clark after completing 100k World Championships
Ant looking pleased as punch with his stunning display

Ant finished just ahead of Fritjof Fagerlund, the Swede who often does the Comrades Marathon, running for the same Nedbank team as Steve Way. In fact, in the 2017 race, Fagerlund finished one place behind Steve when they were 9th and 10th.

At the front of the field an enthralling end to the race had ensued when Comrades 2018 winner Bongmusa Mthembu, who had been leading since the half way point, began to run out of steam. With around 10k left, last year’s champion Hideaki Yamauchi took the lead.

Yamauchi went on to take a dramatic victory, crossing the line in a time of 6 hours 28 minutes. His Japanese compatriot Takehiko Gyoba was 2nd in 6:32:51, with Mtehmbu holding on for 3rd place in 6:33:47. Koji Hayasaka made it three Japanese athletes in the top four when he arrived at the finish in a time of 6:36:05.

Next there were four men all within the space of a minute, with Geoff Burns of the USA and Nao Kazami of Japan finishing neck-and-neck in 6:42:30. Burns took 5th place with Kazami in 6th. Then it was Calcaterra in 7th with a time of 6:42:35 and Ant, of course, in 8th with his time of 6:43.22.

For Ant, the feeling of elation was immeasurable. He could scarcely believe what he had achieved. To be the 8th best 100k runner in the world was a tremendous accolade. To be M40 World Champion was unreal. To be the top Brit and 7th best of all time was simply mind-blowing. He just couldn’t get his head around it.

Ant Clark is crowned V40 100k World Champion
Ant receives his medal and is crowned M40 100k World Champion

Ant’s success in this event will no doubt inspire many other Dorset-based runners to strive to go on to achieve big things. Such is his gravitas and popularity within the running community, everyone in the area was buzzing about his performance.

When you meet Ant he comes across as a very warm and friendly guy. He’s always approachable and looking to share a laugh and joke with others. But inside him there is a steely determination to want to do well. A yearning to push himself to be the very best that he can be.

That’s a lesson to all of us really. Having the talent in the first place is one thing but having the application to go out there and maximise your potential is quite another. It takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice but, as Ant will testify, when you achieve that goal and realise that dream, the reward at the end makes it all worthwhile.

Ant Clark holds the Union Jack flag aloft with pride
An incredible achievement from Ant saw him take his place at number 7 on the list of the top Brits of all-time for 100k





Jacek surmounts 7 Valleys 100k in Poland

Jacek Cieluszecki in the Bieg 7 Dolin 100km
Jacek Cieluszecki travelled back to his native Poland to battle the brutal 7 Valleys Run 100k

For his next big quest, Jacek Cieluszecki was drawn back to his native Poland for the Bieg 7 Dolin 100k.

So far, Jacek has had a pretty good season, with victories in the Wings for Life race in Melbourne, the Portland 10 and a double triumph in the 5k and Half Marathon at Poole Running Festival.

In his last big mountain foray, Jacek took on the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon, a 43.4 kilometre route with 1,685 metres of elevation.

Although he was up against some of the top distance runners in the country, such as Adam Holland and Callum Rowlinson, Jacek took a superb 2nd place, beaten only a staggering performance from X-Miles ambassador Jack Oates. Both Jacek and Jack finished well under the previous course record.

The Bieg 7 Dolin would be an entirely different prospect though. The race is run on one massive loop, starting and finishing in Deptak, Krynica-Zdrój.

The route is pretty much constant ups-and-downs throughout the entire way, taking the runners across some of Poland’s highest mountains, featuring 4,500m of elevation. It certainly represented Jacek’s biggest challenge of the year so far.

The Bieg 7 Dolin 100k is the Polish National Championships and is one of the biggest running events in the calendar. The race is even covered on TVP, which is Poland’s national broadcaster, essentially their equivalent of the BBC, with the channel providing regular updates throughout the morning.

Having completed the race on two previous occasions, in 2015 and 2017, Jacek knew what he was letting himself in for though and also knew exactly what it takes to conquer such a gruelling circuit.

The race does combine two aspects of running that Jacek is very strong on though; endurance and ascending. Both the extremely long distance and the many, large scale inclines suit JC down to the ground.

In 2015, Jacek completed the 7 Valleys Run in 10 hours 35 minutes and in 2017, he managed it in 10 hours 11 minutes. This year he was hoping for further improvement and was targeting a time of around 9 hours 20 to 9 hours 30 minutes.

It was an early start for Jacek, with the race beginning at 3am, leaving little time for breakfast and fuelling up for the big journey ahead. There were checkpoints at various stages of the race with some of them including cut-off times that must be met by each competitor if they are to be allowed to continue.

Of course, there was no danger of Jacek not making any of the cut-off times. He would be travelling at a pace that most of the masses could only dream of.

At that time in the morning though, it was very dark, and that brought with its own navigational challenges. Towards the beginning of the race Jacek must have veered off-track and got lost, costing him around 5 to 6 minutes.

That was a bit of a blow, but he one he found his way back on the route, he couldn’t afford to dwell on it. He had to put it behind him and work hard to make up the lost ground.

He also managed to fall over a couple of times as well which, although he wasn’t seriously hurt, did compound his earlier misfortune to make it a frustrating start.

In these long races though, it’s as much about mentality and character as it is about physical ability. Things can and will go wrong throughout the race but when they do, you cannot afford to let it impact the rest of your run.

7 Valleys 100k with mountains in background
The 7 Valleys Run route was so scenic you could almost get lost in it

At the first checkpoint, 22km in, Jacek was in 21st place, with 1 hour 55 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock. At this point he’d already conceded 12 minutes to the current leader of the race, but a substantial amount of that time was lost when he went off-piste.

The race was now on for Jacek and he needed to start clawing back some places. By the 36km point, he had climbed to 17th, arriving in 3 hours 11 minutes and 9 seconds.

At 44km he was up to 12th place, reaching the station in 4 hours 16 minutes. He was going really well now and working his way up the field with intent.

By the 62km point, Jacek had broken into the top 10 and was currently situated in 9th place, with a time of 5:52:41 on the clock. After a shaky start, he’d made some fantastic progress over the last 40km and was really beginning to demonstrate his amazing strength over extremely testing climbs.

Some of the climbs were absolutely brutal as well. The climb up from 1,115ft at the 21 mile point to 4,115ft at the 31 mile point was long and incredibly tough, the gradients of up to 30% in some places and elevations of up to 800ft in the space of one mile.

Taking it all in his stride though, Jacek made it to 77km still in 9th place, having now been running for 7 hours 20 minutes and 42 seconds. He was seriously closing in on Pavel Brÿdl of the Czech Republic who was just ahead of him. The gap between the two was down to under two minutes now though.

7 Valleys Run 100k in Poland
Another scene showing the picturesque surroundings of the Polish countryside

There was still a couple of big climbs to get over in the remaining 23km of the race, including one hugely steep one that they were just about to scale.

It was ski slope where the gradient rose to 24% and included the toughest uphill sector of the race on mile 49, where 974ft of ascent would be overcome within the space of a mile.

Often training on the hills of the Purbeck, Jacek is used to big climbs, but this one was a tough one, even by his standards. Nevertheless, Jacek made it up the cimb and by the 83km checkpoint, he had moved into 8th position in the standings with 8:10:48 on the clock.

It was now time to embark upon the final climb up to Runek. There was one further checkpoint on the way up this long and arduous 8km ascent, with Jacek reaching the 88km station in 8:41:55.

Now closing in on the next man ahead of him, Jacek had somehow made up 7 minutes on Andrzej Witek within the space of 5km. That put him exactly 2 minutes behind.

With only 3km of climbing left though until the descent into Deptak, Krynica-Zdrój, it wasn’t quite enough for Jacek and remained in 8th place, crossing the line in a still mightily impressive time of 9 hours 45 minutes exactly.

Although he hadn’t quite met his initial target of 9:20 to 9:30, he would have been closer to 9 hours 30 if he hadn’t got lost towards the beginning of the race or had those two falls.

Jacek Cieluszecki finishing 7 Valleys 100k
Jacek arrives at the finish still looking strong as he crosses the line in a fabulous time of 9 hours 45 minutes putting him in 8th place

It was a valiant effort from Jacek and one he can certainly look back on with immense pride. He was 26 minutes quicker than last year as well, so is showing good progress year-on-year.

Many of the top guys he was contending with are sponsored athletes, running for clubs such as Salco Garmin, Hoka, Mizuno and Salomon so it was always going to be difficult up against runners who can devote a lot more of their time training in the mountains.

As well as finishing in 8th place in a field of 479 who completed the distance, Jacek was 2nd V40 in the Polish Championship Masters, thus earning him a prestigious silver medal.

Silver medal from Polish Masters 100k
The silver medal Jacek won for taking 2nd place in the V40 category Polish Masters Championships

The Bieg 7 Dolin also carries some big prize money, with £5,500 going to the winner who was Bartosz Gorczyca and £1,600 to the runner up Marek Causidis.

Gorczyca of Poland finished in a time of 9:03:45, putting him 41 minutes ahead of JC and giving him a healthy winning margin of 10 minutes over Causidis, who is from the Czech Republic.

For coming in 8th place, Jacek got £200 and also received some souvenirs and vouchers for 2nd V40 in the Polish Masters.

JC on the podium for the Polish Masters 100k
A proud moment as Jacek steps onto the podium to receive his reward for 2nd place in the V40 National Championships

It isn’t just the 100k race that is featured at the Bieg 7 Dolin event though. There are many other races over a the 3-day weekend of varying distances.

Jacek’s wife Ela competed in the 64km race, where she finished as 17th placed woman and took 6th in the W30 category.

Ela has been on quite a few long training runs over the Purbecks with Jacek and it has clearly paid off, with her running showing signs of rapid improvement. Ela’s time for the 64km distance was 9 hours 16 minutes and 19 seconds.

The Bieg 7 Dolin 100k is also a qualifying race for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, where Jacek will be looking to do the full 170km UTMB, featuring 10,000m of vertical.

Jacek Cieluszecki after completing 7 Valleys 100k
It had been an exhausting race for Jacek, as it had for all those who made it to the end, but ultimately, a very rewarding experience







BAC four log mixed results at New Forest Marathon

Rich Cannings in the New Forest Half Marathon
Rich Cannings was one of four Bournemouth AC members in action in various races at the New Forest Marathon event, along with Pawel Surowiec, Billy McGreevy and Chris O’Brien

The New Forest Marathon event took place on Sunday 9th September, comprising of four standard distance races, those being a Marathon, a Half Marathon, a 10k and a 5k.

As usual, there was a Bournemouth AC presence across the various races, with Pawel Surowiec and Rich Cannings taking part in the Half Marathon, Billy McGreevy in the 10k and Chris O’Brien in the 5k. The only race that didn’t feature any BAC members was the Marathon itself.

With the race earmarked as a potential PB opportunity, Rich Cannings was hoping to manage his first ever sub 1:30 half marathon.

Currently in training for the Bournemouth Marathon, Rich has been running very strongly over recent times and was certainly in shape to put in performance of note. This was underlined when he secured a new parkrun PB of 19:16 at Poole a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately his hopes were dashed though after he picked up an achilles injury in the run up to the race. He was also suffering from a backache as well so decided to treat it as a training run instead of going an all-out attack.

Rich Cannings nears the finish of the New Forest Half Marathon
Due to a sore achilles, Rich ended up treating the New Forest Half Marathon as more of a training run that a race

It was a bit disappointing for Rich as he had wanted to cash in his good form but the blow was softened by the fact that he was able to run round with a friend instead, which is what he did, completing the race in a time of 1 hour 37 minutes and 35 seconds. That put Rich in 179th place in a field of 1,961 finishers.

Luckily there is another opportunity for Rich just around the corner as he will be competing in the Solent Half Marathon on 23rd September. If his achilles has recovered by then, he should be able to make a proper PB attempt there instead.

Rich Cannings finishing the New Forest Half Marathon
Running with a friend of his, Rich ended up crossing the line in 179th place with a time of 1:37:35

Another man looking for a good performance in the New Forest Half Marathon was Pawel Surowiec. Pawel has also been running well in training over recent months and has showed signs of progression in his parkrun times, managing a superb PB of 19:45 at Poole in July.

Unfortunately for Pawel though, the race didn’t go according to plan. When the day of the race came, he just simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind to run at his best.

Pawel Surowiec in the New Forest Half Marathon
Pawel wasn’t mentally prepared to attack the race in the way that he normally would

Consequently, it didn’t really happen for him and he ended up rolling in in 250th place with a time of 1:41:15. It was a time well below what Pawel is capable of and naturally he was disappointed afterwards.

With two more half marathons coming up in the near future though, one in Nottingham and one at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, Pawel will have the opportunity to put that right and hopefully turn in a performance that reflects his true ability.

Pawel Surowiec finishing the New Forest Half Marathon
Coming in in 250th place with a time of 1:41:15, Pawel delivered a well below par performance in comparison to what he’s capable of

In the 10k race, Billy McGreevy ran well, taking 3rd place out of 1,259 finishers, crossing the line in a time of 36:58.

It was a tougher course than Billy had expected and he had been hoping for a quicker time. The gravel trails and a few climbs that were in there slowed him down.

In a frustrating end to the race, Billy had been in 2nd place with about 500m left to go before he got overtaken by Cole Pearce of Isle of Wight Runners.

Billy McGreevy lines up for the 10k at the New Forest Marathon
Billy McGreevy lines up for the New Forest Marathon 10k race

He did still get a t-shirt and a month’s free gym membership for his 3rd place so that was some consolation to Billy at least. He was also 1st in the M30 category.

At the New Forest Marathon event last year, Billy actually did the Marathon race, finishing in a superb time of 2 hours 56 minutes and 35 seconds which put him in 8th place.

Billy McGrrevy goes in the 10k race at the New Forest Marathon
Taking 3rd place in the race, Billy completed the 10k distance in a time of 36:58

Another Bournemouth AC member returning to the New Forest Marathon after competing in it last year was Chris O’Brien. Last year Chris took 2nd place in the 5k race in a time of 21:46. This year he was again testing his metal in the 5k distance.

So far in 2018, Chris has been mainly focusing on endurance-based events so it was good to try a little gear change and see where his speed is at.

In June of this year Chris competed in Endure 24, an event where the task is to complete as many circa 5-mile laps as you possibly can within the space of 24 hours.

Chris did the event as part of a duo, successfully completing 14 laps himself meaning he’d covered just under 70 miles over the 24-hour duration.

Chris O'Brien in the New Forest 5k race
It was a rare short ditance race for Chris who has been concentrating more on longer races so far this year

This time round Chris had to settle for 5th in the race, even though he did actually post a faster time than he did last year, clocking 21:10.

That was a decent run from Chris considering it was his first ‘speedy’ race this year and he feels it was a fair reflection of where he’s at right now.

Having been suffering a bit through injury so far this year, most notably from a glute issue caused by his pelvis being stuck in the wrong position, the most important thing was to make it through the race without any flare ups. He did manage that so that was pleasing to see.

There were also no stomach issues on this occasion as well which was another bonus. Chris does tend to get stomach cramps when running for time-to-time as well.

Chris O'Brien finishes the New Forest 5k
Completing the 5k race in a time of 21:10, Chris took 5th place on the day

Although he still has a lot of work to do to get back to kind of form that saw him register his first very sub-3-hour marathon, which he did at Abingdon in March 2017, this certainly a step in the right direction for Chris.

The 5k race was won by Chris Phelan-Heath who has just recently moved to the Bournemouth area from Lincoln. Chris has already attended a few Bournemouth AC training sessions and is looking to join the club once he gets settled.

With some very speedy 5k and 10k times in his arsenal, Chris will be a great asset to BAC and it will be fantastic to see him out there in the yellow and blue vest.

The New Forest Marathon 5k was his last race in the colours of his previous local club Lincoln Wellington and he certainly signed off in style, taking the victory in a time of 19:06, giving him a 29 second margin over Lukas Harber of Worthing & District Harriers who was 2nd.




Good foundation for Andy Gillespie at Great Wishford 10k

Andy Gillespie takes on the Great Wishford Run 10k
Andy Gillespie was doing the Great Wishford Run 10k as part of a 15 mile training run in preparation for the Atlantic Coast Challenge in October

The Great Wishford Run is a small, local race organised by The Friends of Great Wishford School. That being said, it does still attract a few good club runners. There was even a Bournemouth AC vest in the field as Andy Gillespie lined up to battle the undulating, multi-terrain course.

In fact, Andy is a regular at this race as if often represents one of his last serious day’s training in the build up to the Atlantic Coast Challenge in October.

The Atlantic Coast Challenge entails completing three marathons in three days, so requires considerable endurance and an iron will. Fortunately, Andy has those in abundance so he should be in a position to, not only complete the race, but to also set himself certain time targets for each day.

The Great Wishford Run is part of training routine that sees Andy run four miles across the fields from where he lives to get to the start-line of the race.

He then cracks the race out as best he can before running the four miles back home afterwards. That gives him a solid 15 mile day with a good workout in the middle.

The race itself kicks off with a 3.5 kilometre hill leading up to the woods. Some of the route up is on road and some is on a stoney track. Once in the woods, it’s onto typical woodland trails, mainly on rough grass and narrow Land Rover tyre tracks. Whilst in the woods there is still quite a lot of ups and downs to negotiate.

The start of the Great Wishford Run 10k
Difficult to tell from this picture whether Andy is starting his watch or just flexing his biceps

In the middle of the race comes the main area of downhill to counterbalance the climb from the start. Some of that section is an old Roman road so it’s quite flat underfoot.

At around 8 kilometres there is a steep descent back into Great Wishford. This is a fast section but there are a few ninja rocks waiting to trip you up if you’re not careful. In previous years they had got Andy but fortunately not this time.

Managing to stay upright, Andy cruised into the finish in 22nd place, registering a time of 51 minutes 55 seconds. That was around the same sort of time that he usually does so Andy was relatively happy with that.

Andy Gillespie in the thick of it at the Great Wishford 10k
Andy shows the way on a course he’s familiar with having done it on numerous occasions before

A total of 68 people completed the route, which actually comes up slightly over 10k, measuring at around 6.5 miles.

After the race Andy’s route back home entailed retracing his steps up the 3.5k hill he’d gone up at the start of the race. It was an incline that he’d tackled every day last week in fact, so a very good bit of preparation for ACC, which features plenty of steep climbs along the way.

All things considered, it was a good day’s training for Andy taking all the lumps and bumps and the distance into the equation. It’s now back to the daily grind and in no uncertain terms, the show must go on.

Andy Gillespie makes his way round the Great Wishford 10k course
Andy finished in 22nd place with a time of 51:55 for the 6.5 mile course