Linn Erixon Sahlström battles Beacons Ultra

Linn Erixon Sahlström reaches the finish of the Beacons Ultra
In her last big race of the year, Linn Erixon Sahlström was in Wales for the Beacons Ultra – a 50 mile race that she astonishingly classes as a “fun run”

How do you follow up a 123.4 kilometre TDS race that forms part of the famous Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc event, featuring an elevation gain of 6,800m? It’s not easy because the UTMB is the very pinnacle of the ultra-distance, mountain running realm and once you’ve been there and had that experience, there are very few races that can provide that same buzz, or even anything close to it.

Linn Erixon Sahlström had found it difficult to mentally recharge from the TDS, which she completed two-and-a-half months ago and consequently her training since then has been pretty minimal.

She had hoped that with the prospect of her next race on the horizon, she’d be able to get herself in gear and find that motivation again but it hadn’t happened. It was a good job then that her next conquest was only a “fun run”.

Well, I say “fun run”, by that I mean 47 miles through the Brecon Beacons!! In the crazy, extreme distance, ultra-running world that Linn has become a part of, that does almost qualify as a “fun run”.

By virtue of the fact the Beacons Ultra was ‘only’ a 47 mile race, Linn knew it was going to be a fast one in comparison to the TDS and some other of the other longer races she’s done such as the Jurassic Coast 100 miler that she completed back in June.

Originally her aim was to get a top three finish but seeing as she’d only ran a total of 50 miles over a two week period in the lead up to the race, she was forced to reassess her aims and switch the target to just completing the course. With minimal training behind her, that alone was going to present enough of a challenge.

The longest training run she’d done in preparation for the event was a 10 miler, so once she got beyond that in the race, it started to hurt. Managing to tap into the ultra mindset, she managed to push through the first loop of the two loop course, arriving at the half way stage in just over four hours. That was actually bang on target for Linn and put her in 55th place overall.

At that stage she felt like dropping out though. She wasn’t enjoying it and was finding it difficult to stay motivated but she had no real reason to drop out. She didn’t have any injuries and the aches she did have were manageable. Plus her crew told her that abandoning the race was not an option.

She went out for the second loop knowing that she would actually finish. It was now just a case of embracing the run and enjoying the wonderful scenery that comes with it. The sun was out now as well and some of the views were sensational.

Scenery from the Breacon Beacons
Linn was surrounded by beautiful scenery at the Brecon Beacons where the race was located

Although she was in a bit more of a positive frame of mind by this point, there were a few sluggish drags that were very mentally draining. She also fell over a couple of times because of fatigue, which is something that very rarely happens to Linn.

She managed to dig deep though and summon up her Viking spirit to help her get through the tough moments. She even managed to pick up some speed over the last 15 kilometres and finished strongly, crossing the line as the winner of her own battles.

With a finishing time of 8 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds, she took 51st place in a field that to begin with contained 241 runners. Only 209 of those runners successfully completed the race, which gives some indication of how tough it was and how much character and tenacity it takes just to get to the finish line.

Linn Erixon Sahlström in the Beacons Ultra
Linn arrived at the finish in 51st place overall and she the 6th woman over the line, clocking a time of 8:45:41

Considering she wasn’t really in the right place, either mentally or physically, for this race, Linn actually did really well. She was the 6th woman over the line, which was a commendable result, and she’d racked up 5,564ft of elevation throughout the course of the race.

The top ladies in the race were all renowned for their speed and all five of them were under the age of 30 as well, which made Linn feel pretty good for finishing where she did, even though she wasn’t sufficiently trained for the task.

Races of around the 50 mile mark tend to favour the young, or the former marathon runners, as they have the speed to get round quickly. Linn knows that her main strength lies in endurance, rather than speed, hence she tends to fair better in longer races.

Linn Erixon Sahlström after the Beacons Ultra
Linn triumphed in her own internal battle with herself as she completed the 47 mile race despite wanting to quit at the half way stage

It does sound strange in a way to think of 50-mile races as being short and fast but that’s where Linn is at in her running. She favours races that are much further in distance than that, such as the 100 kilometre and 100 mile variety.

That said, it can be an exciting challenge for Linn to do one of these “fun runs” as she calls them, ever once in a while, just to get those legs spinning a bit faster. Next time she’ll do it a bit earlier in the season though.

She’s made a mental note not to do any more races in November again as her body and mind both need a break from running competitively. Those are the learnings she will take back with her from her Beacons Ultra experience.

That’s it for Linn now. She’ll be signing off for the season now, allowing herself some time out to rest and reflect on what has turned out to be an excellent season for her, all things considered. Then it will be time to make some exciting plans for next year’s adventures.

Nice sunset over the Breacon Beacons
As the sun sets on her season, as far as competitive races go at least, Linn can look back on her year with immense pride at what she’s accomplished






Pete Thompson and Billy McGreevy go in Gosport Half Marathon

Billy McGreevy and Pete Thompson after Gosport Half Marathon
Billy McGreevy (in the black jacket) and Pete Thompson (in the orange jacket) were both in the lineup for the Gosport Half Marathon

As one of the biggest, fastest and flattest half marathons in the south, it’s easy to see why the Gosport Half Marathon is attracts a decent sized field.

This year’s race featured 1,648 competitors and in amongst them were two Bournemouth AC members, namely Pete Thompson and Billy McGreevy.

Pete Thompson has been off the race circuit for quite a while, understandably, after completing his incredible challenge where he ran the entire route of the Tour de France in 68 days.

The Gosport Half represented a good opportunity for Pete to get back out there in competitive action and see where his fitness is at.

As for Billy, he ran the 10k at the New Forest Marathon event in September, finishing in 3rd place with a time of 36:58. He also completed the ABP Southampton Marathon, which was on the same day as the London Marathon back in April.

In that race he finished 23rd out of 1,103 people, crossing the line in 3:04:41. Although it wasn’t as quicker time as he’d been targeting, it was good for such a ferociously hot day.

Pete and Billy have also done several races together. In July they both formed part of the “Marathons for the Mind” team at the Lytchett Relays, with both running a very fast 5k leg.

The pair also completed the Heartbreak Marathon together in February 2017 and 2016 and they were both in action at the Great Bristol Half Marathon in September 2016. They even both featured in the Amsterdam Marathon in 2015 and the Berlin Marathon back in 2014.

The route for the Gosport Half Marathon consists of two laps, mostly along the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent. The outbound journey is run on cycle paths and pavement, with the return leg along the esplanade.

Pete Thompson in the Gosport Half Marathon
Pete Thompson hadn’t done many races since his famous Tour de France challenge where he ran the entire route of the world’s biggest bike race over 68 consecutive days

All the runners benefited from fantastic support from the watching crowds as they made their way round the course which came as a welcome source of inspiration.

The race also happened to be a Hampshire Road Race League fixture which meant that it attracted a highly competitive field with points up for grabs for all the top Hampshire clubs.

In spite of the quality opposition that he was up against, Pete Thompson had a really good run, completing the course in a super-fast time of 1:19:45. That put him in 45th place overall, which was not a bad return in such a large field.

Billy McGreevy in the Gosport Half Marathon
Billy McGreevy wasn’t at his absolute peak but was still looking to go quick and finish with a high placing

Billy wasn’t far behind Pete either, coming in at 1:21:06, which put him in 59th place. This was only a couple of minutes off of Billy’s personal best which was set at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival last year. He knew he’s not in PB shape at the moment so to get the time he did was a pleasing result for Billy.

The winner of the race was Tom Merson of Exmouth Harriers, who completed the course in a mega quick 1:07:31. Daniel Eckersley of Kingston AC and Polytechnic Harriers was 2nd in a time of 1:10:59, with Steve Gallienne of Bideford AAC taking 3rd in 1:12:22.

Lorna Russell of Winchester was 1st female in 1:18:47, which put her in 35th overall. Then it was Lesley Locks of Hart Road Runners in 1:20:47 and Emma Jolley from City of Portsmouth AC who crossed the line in 1:21:06.

Billy McGreevy and Pete Thompson after Gosport Half Marathon
It was a good result for both Pete and Billy, with Pete both finishing in the top 60 of a highly competitive field containing many of Hampshire’s top road runners


BAC Men Win the League at Wimborne 10

Disco, Toby Chapman, Craig Palmer and Tag in Wimborne 10
A strong quartet of Dave Long, Toby Chapman, Craig Palmer and Rob McTaggart led the charge for Bournemouth AC as they looked to secure the Dorset Road Race League title at the Wimborne 10

In the penultimate fixture of the Dorset Road Race League season, it was all hands to the pump for Bournemouth AC as their men’s team looked to officially wrap up the First Division championship at the Wimborne 10.

Team captain Rich Nelson has assembled an extremely strong line-up in a bid to finally fend off a valiant challenge from Poole AC, who had managed to keep their feint hopes of stealing the spoils alive at Gold Hill by taking 2nd place. Bournemouth AC failed to field five finishers in the fixture which had meant Poole AC could still mathematically lift the title.

Rich wanted to get it done and dusted at the Wimborne 10 though and managed to pull out all the stops to get some of Bournemouth AC’s top boys in on the action.

As a result, the yellow and blue army were bolstered by the inclusion of the hundred k hero Ant Clark and Tor des Géants extraordinaire Jez Bragg, along with the Taunton Tiger Toby Chapman, Jon Sharkey, Craig Palmer, Rob McTaggart and Great South Run sub-50 supremo Dangerous Dave Long.

As for the BAC ladies’ team, they have been making a late charge for the runners up spot, currently lying in 3rd place, two points behind Littledown Harriers. A good result at the Wimborne 10 would be crucial for them in their bid to outfox Littledown and Poole AC who are also in the running.

The ladies’ team were bolstered by a late entry of Emma Caplan (Dews) who usually challenges for the top placings. They also had Joy Wright in the ranks. Joy has been focusing mostly on the track this season so it was good to see her back in action on the road.

Start of the Wimborne 10
On a chilly but bright morning, the penultimate fixture of the Dorset Road Race League season, the Wimborne 10, gets underway

To begin with there was a very large lead group containing around 20 people. All the main contenders were in that group, including many of BAC’s top boys. Poole AC had a number of their top names in the mix as well, with the likes of Chris Alborough and Gareth Alan-Williams present.

Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers, Chris Wood of Wimborne, Lee Dempster of Lytchett and Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat were also there. As far as Dorset running goes, it was a star-studded front pack.

At one stage Gareth Alan-Williams broke clear and was out in front on his own but he got reeled back in by the lead chasers who were not prepared to let anyone escape their grasp.

Lead group in the Wimborne 10
A large lead group containing many of Dorset runnings top names was established in the early stages

Although they were going along at a pretty good pace, some of the Bournemouth AC guys, in particular Craig, Tag and Disco, still managed to find time for a laugh and joke. In fact, they were having a pretty good time and enjoying both the race and the banter that came with it.

There was also a point where Dave decided he felt strong enough to push on from the lead group and go it alone. Craig and Tag weren’t about to let him get away though and shut the move down.

By this point the lead group had been whittled down significantly, with only Iain Trickett and Chris Alborough able to stay with the pace the Dave, Craig and Tag were setting. Even Toby Chapman fell off the back of the group in the end.

The top five remained together until they reached the long finishing straight. That meant it would be down to a sprint finish the determine who would take the race win. It turned out to be Craig, Iain and Chris that were the strongest and the three of them were initially neck-and-neck as they made their way down the finishing straight.

Sprint finish for victory at the Wimborne 10
There was nothing to choose between the front runners when they arrived on the finishing straight, with Chris Alborough, Craig Palmer and Iain Trickett battling it out for the race win

Craig managed to get ahead and looked he was striding to victory but Iain wasn’t about to let his fantastic recent winning streak go without a fight. Chris was still in contention as well and as Iain and Chris went past Craig it was between the two of them to take the honours.

Iain’s sprint finish proved decisive in the end, getting to the line first in a time of 56 minutes and 3 seconds. Despite his strong finish, Chris was forced to settle for 2nd place. Craig and Tag crossed the line together in 3rd and 4th places, both registering a time of 56:14. It had turned out not to be Dave’s day in the end and he crossed the line in 5th place, clocking a time of 56:28.

Top four at Wimborne 10
The podium places for the race were taken by Tag and Craig who came joint 3rd, Chris Alborough (right) who was 2nd and Iain Trickett (centre) who got the win

Gareth Alan-Williams took 6th in a time of 56:29, with Toby following in shortly after, reaching the line in 56:37. Jon Sharkey had had another strong run and he came in shortly after Toby to make it five Bournemouth AC members in the top ten. Sharkey’s time was 56:56, which put him first in the MV35-39 category.

Next it was Lee Dempster who crossed the line in 57 minutes exactly, with Andy Leggott arriving 35 seconds later to take what was then 10th place. There was no chip timing at the Wimborne 10 though. Instead, the race organisers relied on the old method of a stop watch and some pen and paper to record the numbers as they went over the line.

Jon Sharkey was 1st MV35 at the Wimborne 10
Jon Sharkey shows off his winnings for 1st place in the MV35-39 category

All the numbers had been set out in the post before the day of the race. Unfortunately for Dave though, he had forgotten to bring his number so, as a consequence, wasn’t wearing one. When the original, provisional results were posted on the board though, Dave was listed so it looked as if he’d got away with it. Then when they were giving the prizes out afterwards, they announced that he had been disqualified.

From a BAC perspective though, it didn’t matter too much though, as Ant Clark had crossed the line in, what turned out to be 11th place, registering a time of 57:51, so he became the fifth scorer for BAC.

Ant was coming off the back of an easy couple of months after his incredible effort in the 100k World Championships where he finished in 8th place, recording the 7th best time ever posted from a Brit.

Naturally, he wasn’t quite in a same shape as he’d managed to get himself into for the 100k, where he began to look like a slimline version of the Incredible Hulk due to the low carb diet and high intensity training. Considering that, he was pretty pleased with that result.

Even without Disco in the results, Bournemouth AC still emerged convincing winners of the fixture as far as the Dorset Road Race League was concerned. That meant the Men’s First Division title was signed, sealed and delivered.

Sharkey and Tag celebrate their success at the Wimborne 10
Sharkey and Tag celebrate a successful day for BAC members, both individually and collectively

Another man coming off the back of a big race that required some serious recovery and recuperation was Jez Bragg, who covered around 294 kilometres over four full days’ worth of virtually non-stop running in the legendary Tor des Géants.

That was only a couple of months ago so his legs were understandably still a little sluggish. He was hoping to dip under the 60-minutes and wasn’t far off in the end, crossing the line in 1:00:03.

Jez Bragg in the Wimborne 10
Jez Bragg, at the left of the picture, is on the road back to full fitness after his Tor des Géants exertions

It was good for Jez to have this to focus on to help get his mind and body back in the game after his TDG exertions. He’s hoping this will be the platform to him starting to regain his speed and getting back up to his usual level of performance.

Turning in a magnificent performance to secure a terrific new PB of 1:00:50 was Sanjai Sharma who took 21st place in the overall standings. Sanjai’s previous 10-mile best of 1:01:21 was in fact set at the Wimborne 10 back in 2016. He also did the race last year as well, finishing in a time of 1:02:02.

Sanjai Sharma in the Wimborne 10
Sanjai Sharma had a brilliant run, setting himself a new 10-mile PB of 1:00:50

On both of those previous two occasions Sanjai had brought home 1st prize in his age category and this year it was no different, with Sanjai being awarded the trophy for the best MV55-59. He wasn’t really expecting to get the PB so it came as very nice surprise.

Sanjai Sharma was 1st MV55 at the Wimborne 10
Sanjai scooped the spoils for the top MV55-59

Having spent the vast majority of the race trying to stay as close to Sanjai as he could, Rich Brawn was the next BAC man to complete the race, clocking an excellent time of 1:02:05. Rich was himself coming off the back of an outstanding performance in the Great South Run where he posted a new 10-mile best of 1:01:22.

He didn’t quite manage to hit those heights at the Wimborne 10 but the course was a lot harder by comparison. The Great South Run course is pretty much pan-flat throughout, meaning if you get good weather, a fast time is always on the cards for anyone in form.

The Wimborne 10 is a lot more undulating, with an incline of some description never being too far away throughout the race. There are a couple of really tough hills as well that can stop you in your tracks. One is on the fourth mile, where virtually the whole mile is on an uphill curve.

Rich Brawn with Rich Nelson in the Wimborne 10
Team captain Rich Nelson was out on his bike offering encouragement to the BAC members at various points on the course

The other most memorable one comes on the 9th mile, when you have to go back up the hill you had gone down towards the beginning of the race. That was quite steep and required every ounce of leftover energy to get up.

Managing to keep Sanjai in his eyeline for the first 7 miles, when he finally disappeared from view it was okay, as Rich knew then that he only had the remaining three miles to get through. Once he got to the top of the last hill it was then onto the long stretch down to the finish line.

Rich Brawn in the Wimborne 10
Rich Brawn spent most of the race trying to keep Sanjai in view which helped spur him on

At this point Rich was able to push on and put in a super strong finish, going past four of his rivals on his way to the line to take 30th place. Although it was as quick as his GSR time, Rich was pleased with the outcome and was very happy to have been able to finish with a flurry.

Finishing in a time of 1:02:53, Tom Paskins was the next BAC member to arrive at the finish. Tom wasn’t at his absolute best as he’d needed a bit of time to recover from the Chicago Marathon, which he completed back in October in an excellent time of 2:56:46.

Tom Paskins in the Wimborne 10
Tom Paskins started off very quickly but paid the price for that a little as the race went on

Taking that into consideration, Tom was fairly pleased with his run and enjoyed making the most of the tempting array of cakes they had on offer after the race.

The next BAC member to come in was Emma Caplan (Dews) who finished as 3rd lady in a time of 1:05:54. Emma had had an operation earlier in the week and shouldn’t really even have been running but she couldn’t resist the lure of representing her club in a league race that was critical for the BAC ladies in their quest for a runner up spot.

Emma Caplan was 3rd lady in Wimborne 10
Emma Caplan had had an operation earlier in the week so shouldn’t have really even been out there but she loves her running and was determined to give it a go

For the first six miles of the race Emma it was going smoothly for Emma but after that the wheels fell off a bit and the latter stages of the race became a bit of a battle. To still manage a top three place though, and 63rd position overall, is a real testament to her character in a race that by doctor’s orders, she shouldn’t really have even gone anywhere near.

She still walked away with a trophy for best FV40-44 as well so that another plus point from doing the race, as well as scoring vital points for the team. Katie Hughes of Westbury Harriers was the first lady over the line, finishing in 1:03:57. Serena O’Connor of Poole Runners was 2nd female in a time of 1:05:13.

Emma Caplan was 1st FV40 at the Wimborne 10
Emma took the trophy for best FV40-44 which was a great result given that she shouldn’t even have been out there

After his recent woes it was good to see Adrian Townsend get through the race successfully. In the previous league race, the Gold Hill 10k, he picked up a calf strain in the warm up which prevented him from taking part.

He’d also been forced to abandon in both the Sturminster Half Marathon and the London Marathon before that due to stomach issues, He finished in a time of 1:06:31 which gave him 67th place overall.

Adrian Townsend in the Wimborne 10
After an unfortunate spell of injuries and issues, Adrian Townsend was just pleased to actually complete a race

Following in shortly after Adrian was Jud Kirk who had a pretty good run to finish in 71st place, registering a time of 1:06:50. That was enough to net Jud 1st prize in the MV60-64 category.

Jud Kirk in the Wimborne 10
Jud Kirk had a decent run finishing in 71st place with a time of 1:06:50

This all but wrapped up the victory for the Jud in the Men’s 60-64 category for the Dorset Road Race League season. His main rival Nigel Haywood took 2nd place at the Wimborne 10, finishing in 1:10:21 to put him 97th overall. The points advantage Jud now has over Nigel should be enough to see him home and dry in the individual league positions.

Jud Kirk was 1st MV60 at the Wimborne 10
Jud picked up the prize for 1st MV60-64 and more importantly may have sealed the win in his age category for the Dorset Road Race League season

Next in for Bournemouth AC was Phil Cherrett and Richard Cannings who crossed the line in 107th and 108th places with times of 1:11:38 and 1:11:39 respectively.

The original plan for Richard Cannings was to pace another teammate and work colleague of his, Mike White, to a PB. Mike’s previous best was 1:12:22 so he was hoping to beat that.

Unfortunately, his fitness wasn’t quite there though and he saw his chances of getting close to his target time gradually ebb away. When it became clear that Mike wasn’t going to meet his goal it was then onto plan B for Richard Cannings. They could see Phil up ahead, about 30 seconds in front, so Mike suggested to Richard that he goes to run with Phil instead.

Richard duly set about chasing Phil down and by around the half way point in the race he’d caught him up. Richard then asked what time Phil was aiming for and Phil told him he was looking to get under 1:12.

Joy, Mike, Steve Parsons & Phil in the Wimborne 10
Phil Cherrett pushes in in search of a sub 1:12 performance whilst being tracked by Joy Wright, Steve Parson and Mike White

The pair then ran together for the rest of the race, with Richard keeping Phil going and offering words of encouragement when necessary. They overtook about 15 people in the second half of race and Phil was really pleased to hit his target in the end.

Mike ended up finishing in 1:16:31 which put him in 163rd position. He now knows he has some work to do to get back his best and this experience has motivated him to train hard for his next 10-mile race which will be the Lytchett 10 in February.

Crossing the line in 118th place, Trevor Elkins was the next member of the yellow and blue army to complete the race. His time of 1:12:44 is well below what he’s normally capable of but Trev hasn’t been able to run as much as he usually would recently as his focus has been on other matters. He knows though, once he gets back into his usual training routine, he should be able to recapture the kind of form he expects from himself.

Trev Elkins in the Wimborne 10
Trev Elkins ran well for the first five miles but slipped back over the second half of the race

Taking 137th place in the overall standings was Steve Parsons, who crossed the line in 1:14:32. After a couple of strong performances at Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly Steve had every reason to be optimistic that he would run well at Wimborne. However, his race was somewhat scuppered by a technical hitch.

As the race got underway, he settled into an early rhythm and at first, all appeared to be going smoothly. About a kilometre in he took a glance down at his watch only to find that, to his horror, it hadn’t actually started!

He quickly pressed the button to get it going but he had no idea what distance he’d actually covered thus far so it was difficult for him to tell how well he was progressing from that point. That made things rather tricky for him.

Nonetheless, the ultimate goal remained that same – and that was to get to the finish as quickly as he could. He’ll probably learn a lesson from this experience though and in future races will always check after pressing the start button on his watch that the timer is actually running.

Rich Cannings, Mike, Joy, Steve Parsons and Phil in the Wimborne 10
At one point in the race, there were five Bournemouth AC members together, with Richard Cannings, Mike, Joy and Steve all in the same group

Next in for Bournemouth AC was the 2nd lady to reach the line and that was Joy Wright who clocked a time of 1:15:01. Joy found it to be a long, hard slog and she had to work hard to drag herself round the course.

She struggled over the last 7 miles and has been suffering with an achilles injury recently which did moan a bit, although it didn’t get the better of her. She also sprained her ankle a week ago meaning she’d been unable to run at all in the days leading up to the race.

As a consequence of all her injury woes and the lack of a good, solid, continuous block of training, she felt very unfit. She gave it her best shot though and that was all she could do. Even the sign saying “Half a mile to cake” didn’t get her legs moving any quicker up that final hill.

She did appreciate the support that she had whilst out on the course though. Rich Nelson was riding around on his bike encouraging the various BAC members as they made their way round and Dave Parsons also popped up in various places to cheer on everyone from the yellow and blue crew.

Finishing in 182nd place, it was Ian Graham, who arrived at the line in a time of 1:17:50. That was good enough to secure him 1st place in the MV70+ category.

Ian Graham in the Wimborne 10
Ian Graham is never afraid to put himself out there for the big races and always gives it his best shot

The closest contender for that age group prize was Geoff Parrott of Westbourne RC who finished in 1:19:42. It was nice for Ian to get a trophy as in some races, they don’t even give a prize out for the over 70 category.

Ian Graham was 1st MV70 at the Wimborne 10
Ian picked up the category win for 1st over 70 so it was a pleasing day from his perspective

Arriving at the finish shortly after Ian and completing the scoring team for the ladies was Tamzin Petersen, who obtained a new 10-mile PB with her time of 1:18:18.

That was a 42 second improvement on her previous best which was set at the Bournemouth 10 in February. She’s improved quite a bit since then and is in much better shape at the moment so she was expecting a quicker time.

Tamzin Petersen in the Wimborne 10
Tamzin Petersen updated her Power of 10 profile with a new 10-mile PB of 1:18:18

Two other Bournemouth AC ladies were also in the race, with Estelle Slatford finishing in 249th place, posting a time of 1:22:59 and Louise Price going over the line in 257th place in a time of 1:23:40.

Estelle is still getting back into the swing of things after a little bit of time out but she feels she’s making progress, slowly but surely. Having done the race two years ago, she knew what to expect from the course. That helped in particular with the last hill as she was knew what was coming enabling her to be mentally prepared.

Estelle Slatford in the Wimborne 10
Estelle Slatford had done the Wimborne 10 before so she knew exactly what to expect whilst en route

Considering she hasn’t run the distance for quite a while, Estelle was fairly pleased with her performance and her time was less than a minute off her previous best which was set at the Bournemouth 10 in February.

As for Louise, she had a forgettable day, posting a time that was almost three minutes off what she did in the Wimborne 10 two years ago. It just simply wasn’t her day and sometimes in running, you have to just accept that and move on.

Louise Price in the Wimborne 10
Louise Price (in the background) didn’t have one of her better days but she dug in and got the job done

She has the Boscombe 10k coming up this weekend so that will provide a chance for her to rectify situation and give a better account of herself there. A total of 497 people completed the Wimborne 10 this year.

Poole Runners took the ladies’ team prize and will have once again emerged as winners in the Dorset Road Race League after having already secured the title. 2nd place is between Bournemouth AC and Littledown Harriers. Until the race results have been uploaded onto the DRRL website, it’s difficult to be certain but it could prove crucial in the battle for the runner up spot for the season.

Tag and Craig Palmer swig from their bottles at the Wimborne 10
The celebrations begin as the Bournemouth AC Men’s Team clinch the Division 1 title

It could all come down to the final fixture which is the Boscombe 10k this coming weekend. If BAC can get a win there they could still topple Littledown in the chase for 2nd place, so it’s still all to play for.

As for the men’s team, having already sealed the league title, they can treat the Boscombe 10k as more of a procession. No doubt the race will still be a competitive one though everyone will be putting in 100% whilst they’re out there. Then after the race, the cakes will be cut and the celebrations will begin.

Bournemouth AC pick up the Men's Team prize at the Wimborne 10
Bournemouth AC members did rather well out the prize giving ceremony afterwards, picking up more than their fair share of the goodies

Cross Country Season Marches On

Men's team at the Hampshire League Cross Country race in Aldershot
Some of the BAC squad sheltering from the rain at Aldershot

The return of ‘proper’ cross country weather marked the third Wessex Cross Country League fixture at Yeovil and the second Hampshire Cross Country League fixture at Aldershot. At this point, there are some excellent BAC aggregate positions in both leagues. In the Wessex League BAC‘s U13 Boys‘ and U13 Girls‘ teams are both in the lead, as are the Senior Mens‘ and the Veteran Womens‘ teams, and in the Hampshire League the Senior Mens‘ team lies in second position as does the Veteran Womens‘ team.  In the last fixtures there were some outstanding individual performances, with, at Yeovil, Neve East winning the U13 Girls‘ race and Martha Preece finishing fifth, Oscar Ewen Matthews second of the U13 Boys, Amelia Reynolds third U15 Girl, Laszlo Toth the fourth Senior Man and Nikki Sandell the fourth Senior Woman. At Aldershot, in one of the strongest cross country leagues in the country, the individual BAC highlights were Holly Collier‘s 16th position in the Senior Womens‘ race (Holly was second U20 Woman), Jasper Todd finishing as 11th U15 Boy, and an incredible team of David Long, Jacek Cieluszecki, Josh King, Craig Palmer and Rob McTaggart scoring second (to Aldershot, Farnham and District, who are never going to be caught) in the Senior Mens‘ race.

The third Wessex Cross Country League fixture took place at Yeovil on 4th November, and, unlike all the earlier cross country fixtures, which have taken place in glorious sunshine, at last there was a grey sky and some drizzle.  The course, too, was about as true a cross country course as it is possible to imagine – just two large laps of undulating (to put it mildly) countryside seemingly far removed from any urbanisation – actually about two miles away from Yeovil. Here are the BAC results: U13B; 2. Oscar Ewen Matthews 11.18, 13. Sam Farwell 12.23, 19. Isaac Sandell 14.11, 21. Nathan Mearns 15.14 (team aggregate 1st of 9 teams): U13G; 1. Neve East 11.05, 5. Martha Preece 12.02, 12. Erin Wells 12.46, 30. Mariah Marshall 15.09 (team aggregate 1st of 11 teams): U15G; 3. Amelia Reynolds 16.20, 18. Anya Sandell 19.05: U17M; 8. Tom Farwell 19.05; Senior Men; 4. Laszlo Toth 29.39, 26. Richard Wade 33.36, 53. Ian Graham 41.02 (team aggregate 1st): Senior Women; 4. Nikki Sandell 21.23, 9. Julia Austin 22.43, 15. Kirsty Drewett 23.53, 26. Helen Ambrosen (team – Veteran Women – aggregate 1st).

Holly Collier and Nikki Sandell in the Hampshire League Cross Country race at Aldershot
Holly Collier and Nikki Sandell at the start of the womens’ race

There might have been some drizzle at Yeovil, but cross country weather returned with a vengeance at Aldershot for the second Hampshire Cross Country League fixture on 10 November – pouring persistent rain producing mud everywhere. Here are the BAC results: Senior Men; 16. David Long 33.48, 17. Jacek Cieluszecki 33.55, 19. Josh King 34.10, 25. Craig Palmer 34.38, 40. Rob McTaggart 35.23, 77. Stuart Nicholas 37.31, 96. Ross Smith 38.20, 110. Richard Brawn 39.12, 159. Tom Paskins 41.42, 166. Simon Hearn 41.54, 184. Richard Wade 42.44, 190. Jud Kirk 43.06, 272. Richard Nelson 48.19 (Senior Men team 2nd on the day and 2= aggregate, Veteran Men team 10th on the day and 9= aggregate, Jacek 1st Veteran Man aggregate, one race to count).  Spare a thought for Laszlo Toth who misjudged his warm up time and missed the start of the race by about two minutes! U15B; 11. Jasper Todd 15.36, 18. Callum Olden (non scoring for BAC having competed for another club this season) 16.10: U13B; 74. Sam Brewer 14.13, 76. Isaac Sandell 14.16, 85. Nathan Mearns 15.23 (team 13th on the day and 10= aggregate): Senior Women; 16. (2nd U 20W) Holly Collier 24.22, 68. Nikki Sandell 27.32, 109, Kirsty Drewett 30.16, 171. Helen Ambrosen 34.20, 202. Jayne Wade 40.21 (Senior Women team 13th on the day and 7= of 29 teams aggregate, Veteran Women team 12th on the day and 2= of 20 teams aggregate, Emma Caplan 6= and Georgia Wood 8= Veteran Women aggregate, one race to count). U17G;17. Lauren East 18.34. U15G; 46. Anya Sandell 19.52, 50. Ruby Bowden 20.22. U13G; 25. Martha Preece 13.13.

Rich Brawn after the Hampshire League Cross Country race at Aldershot
Rich Brawn is proud of his run at Aldershot – and rightly so!

So it is all to go for!  The next fixtures are 1 DecemberHampshire Cross Country League at Popham, Basingstoke, and 16 DecemberWessex Cross Country League at Bryanston School, which is also the Dorset County Championship race for 2018.

Roy and Dave Long make short work of Leeds Abbey Dash

Roy Long took on the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
After an absence of almost four years from the road race circuit, Roy Long (right) was back out there again in the Leeds Abbey Dash, along with his son and Bournemouth AC teammate Dangerous Dave

Following a couple of spectacular performances in the Supersonic 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and the Great South Run a couple of weeks later Dave Long was going into the Leeds Abbey Dash full of optimism.

After setting a blistering new course record of 30:42 in the BMF 10k and getting some well earned TV time in the Great South Run after being up with a lead group containing greats such as Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon, for the first couple of miles at least.

Going on to finish in an incredible time of 49:55, it was a magical day for Dave and even by his high standards, delivering a sub-50 10-mile performance was something that seemed almost inconceivable.

All that made the prospect of another 10k PB at the Leeds Abbey Dash seem very realistic. In fact, there was even a possibility that if he hits the heights of his previous two performances, he could break 30 minutes.

Dave Long in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Dave Long had been in a rich vein of form going into the Leeds Abbey Dash race so had every reason to feel optimistic

The Leeds Abbey Dash is renowned for being on the flattest and fastest 10k road races in the country. And it’s certainly one of the biggest, with over 8,000 people taking part.

The premise of the race is to raise money for Age UK, a charity that helps care for older people who are on their own and feel isolated and lonely.

Dave’s Dad, Roy, who is also a member of Bournemouth AC, was also in action at the Leeds Abbey Dash. Much like Dave is now, Roy himself was a top quality runner in his hay day.

After some years out, Roy has started to make a comeback over recent months and has been joining some of the BAC training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings.

He’s also done the odd parkrun here and there and has seen his fitness improve and his running progress really well over that time. He hadn’t actually done a 10k race since 2014 though, so he could have been forgiven for being a bit ring-rusty.

The last proper race he participated in was the 5,000 metres on the track in the Southern Athletics League fixture at Yeovil in May. Still, Roy felt it was worth giving it a go and it would be an opportunity for him to see where he’s at with his running comeback.

Roy Long at Poole parkrun
Besides the odd parkrun here and there, Roy’s lack of competitive racing left him unsure of what kind of performance he would be able to produce

The route for the race was around the metropolitan area of Leeds city centre. When the race started, Dave shot off like a rocket, looking to be up there battling with the front runners.

Going through the first mile in a staggering 4:38, it certainly looked as if it was going to be a ‘boom or bust’ occasion for Disco. Even going that quickly though, he still wasn’t in the lead, which gives an indication of the amazing standard of field that this race attracts.

Unlike at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, he wouldn’t be struggling for competition to help push him to new heights. For his second mile, he posted a 4:47, which was still super-quick. After that though, he began to feel the effects of his incredibly fast start.

In the third mile, he went over the 5 minute mile marker and he knew then that it was going to be a tough run-in for the remainder of the race.

Dave Long coasting in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
After a blisteringly quick first couple of miles, Dave blew up and ended up suffering for the rest of the race as a result

To his credit though, Dave kept on going and was still banging out the miles at a pace that most people could only dream of. It just wasn’t the performance he was hoping for though.

Crossing the line in 31 minutes and 40 seconds, Dave registered 62nd place in the overall standings. That was an impressive time by most peoples’ standards and it was staggering to think that 61 of the participants were able to run it in a quicker time than that. Again, that underlines how fiercely competitive this race was.

It’s all part of the learning process for Dave though. Even an athlete at his level can still get it wrong sometimes. Achieving great results in running is all about pushing the boundaries of what you are capable of. That of course, carries with it a certain level of risk.

The race was won by Adam Craig, who finished in a tremendous time of 29:08. Seven men in total managed to get under that hallowed 30 minute marker and amazingly, 32 men went under 31 minutes. It truly was a phenomenal standard.

In a surprising turn of events, it was actually Roy rather than Dave who really stole the show. Roy put in an astounding display, running consistently at sub-6-minute miles throughout the race. In fact, in three of those miles he was at 5:45 pace or under.

Roy Long rolling back the years in Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Rolling back the years, Roy found himself in much better shape than even he expected as a raced round the fast, flat course at a very impressive speed

As he approached the finish line, Roy could scarcely believe it himself when he looked at his watch and saw he was in for a sub-37-minute time.

Crossing the line in a remarkable 36 minutes and 35 seconds, Roy came in at 366th place overall. It really was a bolt out of the blue from Roy and gave him 5th place in the MV50 category.

It just goes to show, provided they are willing to work for it, once a runner has a certain level of ability instilled within them, it’s always possible to bring that out, no matter how much time has passed and how many injuries and difficulties they’ve had to overcome.

In truth, Roy knew he’d been running well in training and had been making every effort to try to get the best out of his sessions whilst being careful not a push it too far and risk triggering any injuries. He had no idea he was in good enough shape to run a 36:35 10k though. It was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Roy Long heading for line in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Glancing at his watch as he approaches the finish, Roy is shocked to see that he’s in for a superb sub-37-minute time


Janet Dickinson Wins the Silver at the World Masters Champs in Malaga

Janet Dickinson World Championship W50 Heptathlon in Malaga, Spain.

The World Masters Championships were held on the Costa Del Sol in Malaga, Spain, between 4 and 16 September 2018.  It was deemed as one of the largest World Masters Championships with the arrival of over 8,000 athletes from 101 different countries, ready to compete in the facilities of the province.

The streets of Malaga welcomed the community of Master athletes who represent a social movement throughout athletics; embracing the sport as a healthy lifestyle, understanding competition as a striving for continuous improvement, consistent effort and rewarding coexistence.

Athletes competed in men’s and women’s categories, according to age groups in 5 year intervals; in a diverse range of disciplines and athletic events including 100m 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m, Hurdles, 2,000m and 3,000m, Weight, Hammer, Discus, Javelin, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump and Pole Vault.

Remarkably, the oldest woman aged 102 years, Man Kaur of India competed in 4 tests, 100m, 200m, Shotput, and Javelin in the 100-104 age group category.  The oldest man with the same age, Giussepe Ottaviani, competed in 2 tests: Triple and Long Jump.  In addition, the athlete enrolled in the largest number of tests was Rad Leovic, a 91-year-old Australian who entered 16 events.

BAC masters athlete, Janet Dickinson represented Great Britain and headed to the championships with the determination to bring home a medal, following hours of training and dedication, both on and off the track.  Dickinson’s hard work paid off and she did not disappoint in winning the SILVER medal, Word Masters W50 Heptathlon.  She is an inspiration to us all.  Congratulations on an outstanding performance and achievement!

Dickinson is currently ranked No.1 in GB, Heptathlon W50, a title maintained since 2016 when in W45 category.  Dickinson also holds current No.1 rankings in numerous other events including Pentathlon, 200m, 300m, 300mH, 400i, 400mH and Long Jump.

Dickinson’s Track and Field career began 5 years ago, with coach Paul Rees, from a background as an occasional marathon/road runner.  Her T&F career started with the throwing events, namely Shotput, Discus, Javelin and Hammer which were her main focus during the first year.  Dickinson is evidently well accomplished at three of them but is not a fan of the Shotput.  Coach Paul Rees commented, “I qualified and coached all T&F events over time and she has given me such a great opportunity to coach her in every one of them”.

Dickinson has competed in every Track and Field event and won the one hour Decathlon at Woking last year, 2017.  She also won the European W50 double Heptathlon Championships in 2016.

Dickinson’s latest triumph in winning the World Silver medal saw her break the British Record with a personal best.  She is pictured below running down the eventual Bronze Medallist and closing in on the winner (a former Soviet Union International).

Janet Dickinson near the end of the final event (800m) in the World Championship W50 Heptathlon in Malaga, Spain.

As one of the least enthusiastic 800m runners (to say the least), Dickinson comically stated “whoever put the 800m in at the end of a Heptathlon needs a good talking to”.

Dickinson is an extremely talented athlete with an outstanding work ethic and manages to inspire and encourage other athletes of all ages.  Not content with seven events in the Heptathlon, Dickinson entered the 200m event which took place just one day after the Heptathlon.  The event saw 74 entries, squeezed into 9 heats with only the first two guaranteed a place in the semis.  Dickinson commented that four years ago she had decided to enter the 200m at the British Masters Championships. “I came last. Today I ran in a World Championship semi-final.  I was faster and I didn’t come last.”  In fact she won her heat with the 9th fastest time of the championships.  Despite her disappointment in not making the final, she was pleased to have more time off before Long Jump event.

Results link, medal and competitors here.

WORLD Heptathlon W50 SILVER Medallist 2018 Malaga.  Janet Dickinson with Coach, Paul Rees, behind the University Stadium after completing the seven event challenge.

Two former BAC Athletes, Caroline and Jean, won GOLD in the relay at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga.  Many congratulations on such a great achievement.

Janet Dickinson made a well-earned appearance in the popular Track and Field magazine, “Athletics Weekly”.

More information on competing at future masters competitions can be found here.

Emma back in the swing of things at New Forest Stinger

Emma Caplan on the ascent in the New Forest Stinger
The New Forest Stinger featured some testing inclines but just three months into her comeback, Emma Caplan felt ready to tackle the tough ten miler

It’s only been three months since Emma Caplan, the athlete formerly know as Emma Dews, had her baby. Since then she’s made an extraordinary comeback to the running circuit, winning the ladies race at the Hoburne 5 league fixture in her first official race back.

It wasn’t an easy or a comfortable victory for Emma either as she was pushed all the way by Laura Pettifer of Kenilworth Runners. What that seemed to do though was to bring out Emma’s competitive edge and it was good to see that since giving birth she hadn’t lost that side to her game.

She’s also made a welcome return back to cross-country action, taking part in the first fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League where she ran really well to secure 20th place in the women’s race and 4th placed vet, just ahead of teammate Georgia Wood who was 22nd and 5th vet.

Those were encouraging results for Emma as she continues her quest to get back to her best form. Of course, for that to happen there will be a certain amount of patience required but with Emma’s determination and mental strength, there’s no doubt she’ll get back there again.

After her fantastic intro back onto the running circuit though, Emma felt it was time to ramp things up a bit, thus decided to put herself down for the New Forest Stinger.

The Stinger is basically an extremely hilly version of a cross country race, except that it’s 10 miles long in contrast to the much shorter distances usually covered in XC, especially by the ladies.

The scenic route ran through the beautiful New Forest National Park and included forest trails, woodland paths and open heathland amongst the challenging multi terrain surfaces. Organised by Totton Running Club and started from Ocknell Campsite.

Emma wasn’t there to make up the numbers though. She meant business and was immediately up at the front with the lead pack. It soon became evident that Emma was going to boss proceedings as far as the ladies were concerned.

In fact, the way she was going it didn’t look as if many men were going to finish ahead her either. The biggest hill of the race was, of course, The Stinger, and that came into play just after mile 6. It was tough but Emma made it up okay.

Emma Caplan at the start of the New Forest Stinger
Emma sets off on her way in her longest race to date since making her almighty comeback

After going down that there was another testing incline at mile 7.4 and then some more climbing to do from 8.6 miles through to 9.4 miles. Rounding off a very tough second half of the race there is even another hill to tackle just before the finish.

Holding her own well over the latter stages of the race, Emma made it the line in an incredibly impressive 5th place overall, registering a time of 1:09:19.

Finishing virtually two minutes ahead of the next lady who was Hayley Higham, it was another fantastic win for Emma in the women’s race and a huge stepping stone on her journey back to her best.

The overall winner of the race was Daniel Campion of Lordshill Road Runners who tore round the course in 1:04:45. Mark Stileman of Romsey Road Runners was 2nd in 1:05:25 with Richard Swindlehurst of Poole AC taking 3rd in 1:07:12.

The fact that she’s already mixing it with the front runners in races of this ilk so soon in her comeback is a testament to the outstanding ability the Emma possesses.

The course came up slightly longer than 10 miles as well and Strava had her down as going through 10 miles in 1:07:41 which makes Emma’s run all the more impressive.

Having her back in the ranks will be a massive boost for the Bournemouth AC ladies. In her absence they have found it difficult to get a team of three together for some of the league races over the course of the season and have often struggled to contend for the top placings.

It’s not too late for the BAC women to salvage something from the season though as, with a couple of strong performances at the last two remaining fixtures, the Wimborne 10 and the Boscombe 10k, they could still sneak into the runners up spot in the DRRL First Division. With only two points separating Littledown Harriers, BAC and Poole AC, it’s all to play for.

That would be a big achievement for the BAC ladies, given the difficulties they had in getting a team together through the middle part of the season. After gaining a late entry into the Wimborne 10, Emma could have a big role to play in that and, if her performance at the The Stinger is anything to go by, she could be a contender for top honours in a somewhat less challenging 10 mile race.

In fact, having Emma back at the club seems to have given everyone a lift and the prospects look good for BAC with the last two fixtures happening over the next couple of weekends. The men’s team look poised to seal the league title at the Wimborne 10 with an extremely strong squad lined up to launch an assault.

Emma Caplan climbs a hill in the New Forest Stinger
A brilliant result for Emma saw her take 5th place overall, completing the hardcore 10 mile route in a terrific time of 1:09:19


Steve Parsons on the way up at Gilly Hilly

Steve Parsons in the Gilly Hilly race
Just as he did last year, Steve Parsons was going for a Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly double and was hoping to see some improvement on his time at Gilly Hilly, just as he had at Gold Hill a few weeks prior

Without the carrot of being a Dorset Road Race League fixture this time round, the field for the Gilly Hilly race was somewhat diminished. That said, there were still some good quality athletes in the mix.

Unlike last year, when Bournemouth AC rolled out the big guns in a bid to secure maximum league points, this time round, it was only Steve Parsons who took to the start line in a yellow and blue vest.

Last year Steve finished in a time of 56:45, taking 80th place in the overall standings. That gave him a target to beat at least, as races carrying a distance of 7.5 miles are quite few and far between.

In fact it was the longest race Steve had ever done when he took the country roads of Gillingham, Dorset, last year. Now he’s up to Half Marathon distance having ran the Solent Half back in September.

There has been a noticeable upturn in Steve’s performances this season and in his last race, the Gold Hill 10k, he saw an improvement of almost two-and-a-half minutes on his 2017 time.

That gave him the belief that he could also go significantly quicker than he did last in the Gilly Hilly race. This time round he found it tougher than he’d remembered though. That may have been partly because last year he was coming back after such a horrific race at Gold Hill that it had made the mildly undulating Gilly Hilly course seem a breeze.

He remembered it was undulating but there were a couple of drags that were somewhat harder than he was expecting. It was a different experience for him on this occasion though since he knew only about 100 people had entered so he was hoping for a decent placing.

Steve Parsons during Gilly Hilly
Steve saw an improvement of almost two-and-a-half minutes on his time at the Gold Hill 10k verses the previous year which reflects the excellent progress he’s been making this year

With that in mind, he got himself right up near the front at the start of the race. Knowing that the course was tougher in the first half of the race, he decided to go out reasonably hard and then if he could get to half way, he thought he should be able to push on in the second half.

About ten of the runners went off really quickly but there was a fairly good line of runners following and he was in around 15th place for the first kilometre.

Only having slipped back a couple of places from there by 5k point, he was feeling pretty good at that stage. There was a bit of a climb at the half way point and he started to feel like he was working hard going up that.

A few more people went past him then and he knew for the remainder of the race it would just be a case of hanging on and trying not to lose any more places in the second half.

Finding himself really wanting to push on, his efforts up till that point had taken quite a bit out of him so he just concentrated on trying to maintain the same distance between himself and the runner in front and not allowing the gap to get much bigger.

Knowing there were a few runners behind him but that they were fairly spaced out by that point, he just wanted to keep them there so he got his head down and grafted.

With about a mile-and-a-half to go he arrived at a sharp incline that he’d completely forgotten about. The guy who behind made his move to overtake Steve at that moment.

Making every attempt to dig in and stay with him, with around half a mile to go he pushed on and Steve just couldn’t respond. He’d dropped to about 20 metres behind by the time they got onto the final climb.

Although he was gaining over the last 100 metres, Steve couldn’t quite catch his rival as they reached the line. That little battle had served to keep him motivated though and had given him a good incentive to keep pushing over the latter stages of the race. He was quite pleased about that despite not quite being able to overhaul him.

Unfortunately the weather had not been as nice it was last year and the views were definitely not as spectacular. Steve got pretty wet in the process but he had beaten his time from the previous year by 73 seconds so he was pleased with that.

Posting a time of 55:28, Steve crossed the line in 21st position out of a field of 108 entrants. This was his highest ever placing in a race. He was also proud to be able to say that it was the second year in a row he’d done the Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly double.

Steve Parsons after Gilly Hilly
He may have got pretty wet in the process but Steve registered his highest ever placing in a race, crossing the line in 21st place, so it was all worthwhile




Congratulations to BAC U11 Athletes at the Sportshall Match

Congratulations to the U11 Boys and U11 Girls teams at Sportshall match held on the last weekend of October!

BAC’s boys finished first with an amazing total of 442 points, well ahead of Wimborne who finished second. The Sportshall boys’ competition consisted of 6 teams. Poole AC finished third, Dorchester AC fouth, Poole Runners fifth and Weymouth sixth.

The 9 victorious BAC athletes were Ewan Brown, James Davie, William Launder, Findlay Orchard, Rufus Parsons, Connor Bailey, Stanley Peters, Marvin Marshall and Ollie Thompson.

In the U11 Girls match the BAC team came second with 394.5 points, just behind the Wimborne 1st team who gained 398.5 points. The BAC girls team competed with only 7 athletes so their achievement was all the more remarkable as they were missing 2 competitors. Poole AC were third, Poole Runners fourth, Wimborne 2nd team were fifth, Dorchester AC sixth and Weymouth seventh.

The BAC magnificent seven were Jennifer Shute, Chrissie Thompson, Elizabeth Davie, Harriet Wilford, Millie Fisher-Wyatt, Emelia Burgas and Katie Kilburn.

Well done to Nick Marshall for managing the team and phoning round all the parents and guardians to ensure as full a team as possible could be assembled. His enthusiasm and encouragement has helped lift BAC youngsters in Sportshall. This follows on from great improvements in Quadkids in the Wessex League this summer.

A big thank you to parents and guardians for giving up their time to bring the boys and girls along to Sportshall. Thanks also to all the officials and volunteers helping to run the competition.

by William Kearsey

Stu Nicholas completes Cornish Marathon to conquer 50 target

Stu Nicholas celebrates his 50 marathon achievement
It was a huge milestone reached for Stu Nicholas as he went back to his Cornish roots for a race that would see him achieve his target of 50 marathons

In his final race that would take him up to his goal of 50 marathons by end of the year, it was only fitting that Stu Nicholas was back in his spiritual home of Cornwall for the illustrious Cornish Marathon.

Having grown up in the area, it was the fifth time that Stu had lined up for the Cornish Marathon. He still runs for his previous club St Austell as second claim so he was back representing them for the day in their familiar purple and gold vest.

Although it has a reputation for being quite a tough one, Stu loves the Cornish Marathon route. It starts off with a couple of one mile loops to thin the pack out. That is followed by four hilly miles leading to Golitha Falls, which was waterlogged resulting in a flooded road for approximately 25 metres.

It then skirts around Colliford Lake for 10 miles until you reach the dreaded Draynes Valley which is six miles of flat running alongside the River Fowey. After that you then retrace your steps back to where it all began.

Stu Nicholas in Cornish Marathon
Stu was back in the purple and gold of his second claim club St. Austell

For a large part of the race Stu was running with Marc Smerdon, the same guy he had a good head-to-head battle with at the Eden Marathon three weeks prior. He and Marc have had their fair share of duals before in the past when Stu lived in the area so this was nothing new to them.

Stu and Marc ran together up until the 16th mile when Stu decided to push on. It was then that he secured what would turn out to be an excellent 3rd place finish.

Stu Nicholas refuelling during the Cornish Marathon
Stu takes on a refreshment as he progresses along the very familiar Cornish roads

The weather had been ideal on the day, although it did turn to light drizzle over the last six miles or so. Stu didn’t mind that though and, as he crossed the line in a marvellous time of 2:48:41, the realisation of what he had achieved began to dawn on him.

He’d done it! He’d made it to the big 50 before the turn of the year. All his hard work, training and dedication had paid off and he could now finally rejoice with a full year’s worth of marathon exploits behind him.

It was a momentous occasion for Stu and his family had come out to support him, along with his partner Anna and her parents. No doubt they were all incredibly proud of Stu for his Herculean accomplishment.

Stu Nicholas' parents supporting him in Cornish Marathon
Stu had some great support out on the route from his family, as well as his partner Anna and her parents, pictured here with a banner

After the race Stu picked up his Cornish hamper and mini trophy for 3rd place. He was also part of the St. Austell team that won the team prize for the 10th year in a row.

Stu Nicholas collects his prize for 3rd place in Cornish Marathon
Stu picks up his prize for a superb 3rd place finish

As well as Stu in 3rd, St. Austell also had Dan Alsop who finished 2nd in 2:44:59, Simon Williams who was 5th in 2:58:02 and Jamie Masters who was 6th in 3:07:22. The individual race was won by Dan Nash of Cardiff AAC who clocked a stunning time of 2:35:29.

Stu Nicholas with his St Austell club-mates who won the team prize
Stu and three of his St. Austell teammates were given a bottle of wine each for winning the team competition

For Stu though, it was all about hitting that big 50 benchmark. He’d started the year on 36 marathons, meaning he’d had to complete 14 marathons to meet his target.

At the beginning of the year it looked a tall order and was clearly going to be a challenge, but Stu likes a challenge. In fact, that’s what really gets him going.

He set about researching different marathons and mapping out a potential schedule that he could follow for the year that would enable him to hit his goal.

Kicking off the year with a back-to-back wins in the Winter Enigma event at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. That was the first time he’d run two marathons on two consecutive days but he’d set an early precedence of what was to come for the rest of the year.

Next up it was the Dark Star River Marathon, which was a demanding 28.2 mile trek along the muddy banks of the River Adur. He almost came unstuck in that one but persevered through a tough last five miles to take 4th place.

Stu Nicholas in the Darkstar River Marathon
Despite a tough end to the race, Stu took 4th place in the Darkstar River Marathon

In February he was back to winning ways at the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon, where he was the only man to finish in a sub-three time.

That was followed by one of the ‘Week at the Knees’ marathons in March, which was back at his happy hunting ground of Caldecotte Lake. Again he emerged victorious despite suffering some stomach issues on the day.

Stu Nicholas in the Week at the Knees Marathon
Stu picked up a brilliant win the one of the seven ‘Week at the Knees’ marathons

Not long after he was back in action again at the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon where he was in 2nd place up until the 23rd mile when he hit a wall. It became a real battle from that point on but he still completed the race though, taking 7th place and most importantly, adding marathon number 42 to his tally.

As well as doing all these marathons, Stu was also finding the time and the strength to race for Bournemouth AC in the majority of the Dorset Road Race League fixtures, even if he was feeling shattered off the back of his latest marathon.

In May he took part in the North Dorset Village Marathon, which actually was a Dorset Road Race League fixture, so with that he could kill two birds off with one stone.

On a sweltering hot day, Stu somehow managed to get around the course in another superb sub-three-hour time and actually ended up in the winning team for the day, alongside Steve Way and Ant Clark who finished 1st and 3rd.

Stu Nicholas in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Stu took 9th place in the North Dorset Village Marathon finishing in a time of 2:58:40

Later on that month Steve and Stu were both back in action in the Dorchester Marathon, where Steve again emerged victorious, whilst Stu claimed 4th place, getting to the line in a superb time of 2:54:04.

Stu Nicholas in the Dorchester Marathon
The Dorchester Marathon saw Stu seal yet another excellent sub-3-hour time

In July he took on another marathon double header, with the Black Knight Challenge being followed by the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge the next day. Both races took place at Kings Wood in Kent. He won the Black Knight Challenge at a canter, finishing 14 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

In the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge he had a comfortable lead after five laps of the 6 lap race but he then blew up and could no longer carry on. It was gutting, not just because he was in the lead but also because it would have taken him up to marathon number 46, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

That DNF had the consequence of throwing him off-track, meaning he’d have to somehow shoehorn an extra marathon in somewhere to make up for the loss. Instead of giving up though, he set about looking to put a contingency plan in place.

At the end of July, he’d already pencilled in another marathon double header, but this time it was basically two marathons on the same day.

He was taking on the Dorset Invader Marathon on the Saturday morning and was then due to run the Midnight Marathon that same day, in the evening, starting at 9pm.

This was again, something he hadn’t done before so he wasn’t sure how his body would cope, but there was only one way to find out. He completed the 28.5 mile Dorset Invader Marathon in 3 hours 38 minutes, putting him in 3rd place.

He then went home to refuel before heading back out that evening to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park for the South Downs Midnight Marathon. It was a tough course which included some rocky terrain, giving his feet a bit of battering, but he completed it, finishing in 15th place and crucially taking his tally up to 47.

Stu Nicholas in the South Downs Midnight Marathon
At the South Downs Midnight Marathon, Stu faced his 2nd marathon in one day

That left him with three marathons remaining. At the beginning of September he took on the Andover Trail Marathon, where he took 4th place crossing the line in 3 hours 42 minutes.

In October, he headed back to his original home of Cornwall for the Eden Marathon, making a heroic return to the scene by recording a spectacular victory.

It was a very good performance as well for Stu as he clocked a time of 2 hours 53 minutes to give him a winning margin of two-and-a-half minutes. That led him onto the Cornish Marathon for his final act.

Stu Nicholas winning the Eden Marathon
Making a triumphant return home to Cornwall, Stu secured a momentous victory at the Eden Marathon

Overall it’s been a pretty incredible year for Stu. He may have had his ups and downs along the way but ultimately it’s been a hugely rewarding journey where he’s shown amazing commitment, a tremendous work ethic, perhaps a little craziness but, above all, an iron will to succeed in whatever he turned his hand to.

After his 50th marathon, Stu was being congratulated on his achievement and his response, much to his girlfriend Anna’s horror, was to say thanks and that he’s half way there now!

After seeing everything he’s been through over the course of the year, Anna was probably hoping that he’d have a rest now and celebrate reaching the 50 mark.

That comment kind of sums Stu up really though. He’s already setting his sights on his next big goal and if that indication is anything to go by, there will be plenty more to come on the marathon front from Stu Nicholas in 2019.

Stu Nicholas after completing his 50th marathon
Having completed no less than 14 marathons in 2018, Stu had made it to the big 50 – an achievement well worth celebrating