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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to representing your country at a European Championships, that is time when you absolutely want everything to go smoothly and free from any difficulties presented by mechanical faults or other such mishaps that might impede your ability to perform to your true potential.
That is of course what Ross Smith was hoping for when he headed out to Ibiza to compete in the European Cross Duathlon Championships representing Great Britain. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t always work out that way as Ross was about to discover.
For the past four months Ross had been training hard for the event in a determined bid to mix it with the best in a high quality international field. As a result, he’d seen some tremendous progression with his running, posting some magnificent PB’s along the way including an amazing 10 mile best at the Portland 10 in June.
As for the cycling part, he’s always been strong riding off road and wasn’t expecting that aspect to present him any problems in the race itself. In duathlon events though, anything can happen. Ross always pencils in a race around a holiday and has learnt to expect the unexpected.
It was Ross’s first ever visit to the northern region of Ibiza and he arrived a few days earlier to ride the course a few times and get to grips with the terrain as well as to enjoy some sightseeing.
Both the run routes and the cycling routes were were off-road and there were some very steep climbs, particularly on the bike course. When it came to race day though, he felt as prepared as he could be for the occasion.
It was the run first and as soon as the gun went off, everyone was scrambling to get onto the small tracks that formed a pathway through the bamboos. After running for 30 minutes in 24 degree heat and over mixed terrain, including some of Ibiza’s sandy beaches, his heart rate was already above 190.
Grabbing his bike quickly in the transition, he was soon heading for the first, extremely steep 500ft climb on lap 1. His legs weren’t liking it but he managed to get to the top and after a quick gasp of air he was on his way back down.
It was at that point that he noticed his tyre started leaking sealant after being ripped by a rock. This was gutting for Ross as it had interrupted his flow but nonetheless, he managed to stop, fix it and continue.
Unfortunately though, that wasn’t the end of his problems. As he was coming round on the second lap, it became evident that the hole had not fully sealed and his tyre went flat again.
At that point he thought about quitting but he didn’t want to DNF. Managing to keep it topped up with air just enough to finish the bike segment, he was onto the final run.
Despite all his trials and tribulations on the bike ride, he still had fun on the fast and dangerous downhill sectors. After completing his run, he was chuffed to have finished the race and that was an achievement in itself after all the issues he had with his tyre.
It was a brave effort from Ross and he showed tremendous character and resolve to keep going even though it seemed like the fates were conspiring against him massively.
He still managed to finish 68th out of 137 competitors, which is a fantastic result given that he probably lost around 10 minutes from stopping and trying to fix his tyre on the bike leg. In a field containing all the top cross duathlon athletes in Europe that is some achievement. Who knows where he would have finished if the bike leg had gone smoothly.
Wearing the GB vest and representing his country is always a great honour for Ross though and overall it was still a good experience. No doubt he’ll be back again to give it another shot and the not to distant future and hopefully he won’t have such cursed luck next time round.
Thought to be one of Dorset’s toughest off-road races, The Stickler saw a return to action of Bournemouth AC stalwart Nick Kenchington, as he went in search of some form that would give him something to build on in the coming months.
The Stickler is of course Dorset’s answer to the Three Peaks Challenge and the three climbs of Okeford Hill, Hod Hill and Hambledon Hill will provide a challenge to even the most hardy of competitors, not the mention the infamous ‘Stickle Path’.
It’s a very testing route but Nick does the majority of his training out on the Purbecks so he’s very familiar with rough and rugged terrain and also overcoming unscrupulous climbs. The Stickler features over 15,000ft of climbing over the course of the 10 mile route.
The race begins with an immediate ascent up Okeford Hill which goes on for around a mile and a half. It’s then an undulating but steady downhill curve until the climb up Hod Hill just after mile 6.
After a sharp descent from the top of Hod, it’s then onto the final ascent up Hambledon Hill, which is another climb of about a mile in length. It’s then back down again and in toward the finish for the remainder of the race.
Battling extremely hard to negotiate the rigorous ascents, Nick reached the finish line in a time of 1:16:04 which put him in 26th place overall out of some 544 runners.
Whilst on the face of it, that might seem like a good result, Nick wasn’t happy with his performance and always demands more from himself.
He feels that perhaps age is catching up with him a little as he pushes on toward 58. Of course, he’s still in fine shape for a man of those years but his competitive edge keeps him wanting to be able to contest affairs higher up the field.
Finding that he tends to lose a lot of places on the downhill sectors, Nick’s agility is not perhaps what it once was and that’s something he finds frustrating.
If he could train harder he would but Nick tends to find that harder he trains the more injured he becomes so it’s difficult to find the right balance.
One of the aspects the disappointed Nick most about the race was the fact that he was only 5th best in the MV50 category. He usually targets a high category placing in races at least so that was something that he found tough to take.
Like all good athletes though, Nick will pick himself up and press on to the next one and with a bit of luck there will be some better results to come for him in future endeavours.
The race was won by Edward Rees of Clapham Chasers in a time of 1:07:16, with Ruth Barnes impressively taking 2nd place overall and 1st lady, finishing close behind in 1:07:38. That was a new women’s course record as well, so an incredible effort from her.
Luke De-Benedictis and Bill Day of Poole Runners were 3rd and 4th, finishing in 1:09:28 and 1:10:13 respectively, with Joseph Sherwood of Littledown taking 5th in 1:11:31.
The next female was almost 10 minutes behind Ruth and that Fay Cripps who crossed the line in 1:17:02, winning the FV40 category. Alice Whiley of Clapham Chasers was 3rd lady in 1:17:56.
When this year’s batch of Great South Run competitors woke up on race day morning and looked out of the window, they would have seen exactly what they were hoping for. Everything was still. Not a leaf twitching. Not a flower flailing. Not so much as a hint of movement in the air. For anyone feeling at the top of their game or in a decent run of form, it was on. The chance to crown their Power of 10 profile with a new 10 mile best had arrived.
The race was shown live on Channel 5 and attracted over 15,000 participants of a varied range of abilities. Many dress up in costumes and run for charity, some are of the more competitive club runner persuasion and others are the true elites of British distance running.
The course is a 10-mile route through the streets and coastal roads of Portsmouth and Southsea. It takes in famous landmarks such as the HMS Warrior and HMS Victory and of course, the iconic Spinnaker Tower. Because the course is so flat and there tends to be such an amazing amount of support from the watching crowds, it’s a great opportunity for a fast time.
There were eight Bournemouth AC representatives in amongst the masses congregating on the start-line in their relevant pens before the warm up routine got underway. After his stunning performance in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k two weeks earlier, Dave Long had high hopes for a good time at the Great South Run.
It was a target race for Dave and he’d completed a block of very hard and focused training in the lead up for the race. His performance in the BMF 10k, where he set a new course record time of 30 minutes and 42 seconds, gave him hope that he would be able to produce something special, or rather, something ‘naughty’ as he would call it.
The average pace for his 10k was an incredible 4:54 minutes per mile. That run, coupled with the course profile of the GSR meant he could even perhaps allow himself to dare to dream of a sub-50 time. It’s something not too many people have achieved over the years but if everything went right, the possibility was there.
Three other Bournemouth AC members who had been in action at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival were also competing in the Great South Run. Chris O’Brien completed the Half Marathon at the BMF, finishing in a very good time of 1:26:50 and Rich Brawn and Richard Cannings had both been in action in the Full Marathon, finishing in close proximity of each other at around 3 hours 15 minutes.
Originally Julian Oxborough was also down for the Full Marathon at the BMF but he had given up his place decided that he wouldn’t be fit enough to do it justice. Instead he decided to focus on getting into as good a shape as he could for the Great South Run as he’d then have a couple more weeks to fit in some decent training runs.
Fuelled by a plant only diet, Sean Edwards was wearing his Vegan Runners vest for the occasion. He’s been in pretty good form of late and was hoping the GSR might provide another quick time to bolster his Power of 10 profile. Paul Whitty and Rob Spall were also in action representing Bournemouth AC.
The women’s elite group kicked off the proceedings off containing some top names such as Eilish McColgan, Gemma Steel and Steph Twell. Shortly after, the men’s elite runners were called to the start-line as they set off along with the upper echelon of club runners and the masses.
The front group were led out the two major contenders for the race win, Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson. Around another eight runners were in that lead group, one of which was none other than Bournemouth AC’s very own Dave Long.
For the first couple of miles Dave was hanging onto the coat-tails of that lead group, despite the blistering pace that Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson were setting. They gradually began to edge away from the group, making it quite evident that it was going to be a two-horse race for the win.
Although he began to fall off the back of the group at around mile three, the fact that he could even mix it some of the best distance runners in the country like Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson was an astonishing achievement in itself.
By mile four the group had been completely split with Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson building up quite a big margin out at the front. Dave was on his own by that point and that was how it would remain for the rest of the race. It was just him against the clock now.
For the first half of the race he was well on course for a sub-50 time. He managed to maintain the pace okay for the next couple of miles but it was in the last three miles where it started to get tough.
He had that goal of a sub-50 in his mind though and was determined not to let it slip without a fight. It was a real battle from that point on and it was hurting like crazy but Dave dug deep. In fact, he had to dig deeper than he ever has before.
He didn’t have a lot of time to spare when he came round the corner and onto the finishing straight but he’d timed it just right and went over the line in 49:55. It was an incredible moment for Disco and one that he’ll no doubt treasure for many years to come. All the work he’d put in had paid off and his sub-50 dream had been realised.
Chris Thompson had broken clear of Andy Vernon in the end and had cruised through for the win in 46:56 with Vernon taking 2nd in 47:29. Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton AC finished in 6th place and Alex Tueten, also of Southampton came in 8th.
Dave was the final man to come in under the 50-minute barrier, taking an incredible 10th place which of course he was absolutely buzzing about.
Over 10 minutes had passed before the next Bournemouth AC man reached the finish and that was Sean Edwards. Crossing the line in a time of 1:00:17, Sean finished in 92nd place, which is still amazing when you consider that over 15,000 took part.
It didn’t quite match his performance at the Bournemouth 10 in February where he clocked a phenomenal 56:59 but it was still a decent run from Sean and bettered his times at the Salisbury 10 in April and the Portland 10 in July.
Next up it was Richard Brawn, who managed an improvement of almost three minutes on his previous best, which had also been set at the Bournemouth 10 earlier in the year. Registering a time of 1:01:22, Rich took 122nd place on the day and was 20th best in the 35-39 category.
Since it had only been a couple of weeks since he’d completed his second ever marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, Rich wasn’t certain he would have recovered fully. He took it very easy over those two weeks though in the hope that he wouldn’t be carrying any fatigue into the race.
Having competed in the Great South Run every year since 2014, Rich knew it was always a golden opportunity to pull something special out of the bag and he’d managed to secure a 10-mile PB on all but one of those occasions.
He had a feeling he’d be fit enough to add another standout performance to that list off the back of his marathon training and some of his recent parkrun stats gave him the confidence that he could once again produce a quality run. He felt he’d probably be able to sustain a pace of around 6-minute-miling for at least 10k so it would then just be a case of clinging on for the last four miles.
Thus he decided he would set off at sub-60-minute pace and then just see what happened. He knew the chances were that he wouldn’t get a sub-60 time but he thought there was an outside change of a sub-61 and a definite possibility of a sub-62.
Managing sub-6-minute mile pace for the first three miles, Rich felt fairly comfortable but he could tell that it wasn’t a pace he’d be able to sustain for the full 10 miles. He managed to stay around 6-minute-miling for the next three miles before his pace began to drop slightly on the 7th mile.
As he began to tire, he realised the next three miles were going to be a tough slog. All he could do though was try to keep going as quickly as possible and try to minimise his losses. He was down to between 6:15 and 6:20 pace for the last three miles but he knew he could stick at that he’d still be in for a good time by his standards.
Reaching the finish line in 1:01:22, he was over the moon with his run and, despite falling away a little over the last few miles, he knew it was still possibly his best run ever. Encased in that run, was a 10k PB of 37:38, which was a very pleasing sign.
The miles in the Great South Run tend to be slightly longer as well than the actual distance and Strava had his 10k time at 37:10. That means that perhaps, instead of a sub-38-minute time for an actual 10k race, he could not perhaps look to strive for a sub-37.
The encouraging thing for Rich is, although he knows there’s work still do to build up his speed endurance to be able to hold that sub-6 pace for the duration of a 10-mile race, the potential is there and if he keeps progressing there’s no reason why he can’t reach that level.
As for Richard Cannings, he unfortunately didn’t have one of his better days and was still feeling the after effects for the BMF Marathon two weeks prior. He’d given absolutely everything he could on that day and left it all out there on the course. Afterwards, he was completely shattered and in need of some serious rest and recuperation.
It wasn’t surprising he was carrying some of those after effects in the Great South Run and that prevented him from reaching his full potential. He’d also had a sore ankle since the Bournemouth Marathon which added to his woes.
Despite all that though, he still managed fairly consistent splits throughout and finished in a time of 1:08:24, which is very creditable under the circumstances. That put him in 468th place overall and 52nd in the 45-49 category.
Perhaps also suffering from the after effects of his superb run at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, Chris O’Brien also struggled to reach the kind of levels that he’d ordinarily look to achieve.
For the first few miles he was going okay but after that his pace began to fall away and he realised that it just wasn’t going to be his day. From that point on it was a long hard slog to the finish line. Sometimes you just have to accept that days like that will happen though and you just have to pick yourself up and go again.
Showing some good progress over recent months though, Chris is definitely on the right track toward rediscovering his best form and will keep persevering with his training until he gets there. That said, it still a decent time from Chris when you look at the overall stats, as he crossed the line in 306th place and 26th in the 45-49 category with a time of 1:06:14.
Suffering an early blow when he pulled a calf muscle two-and-a-half miles in, Julian Oxborough demonstrated tremendous tenacity by continuing on despite the pain he was in. He was buoyed by the fantastic crowds who had once again turned up in their droves to support the race as they always do. That helped him keep going as he chugged through the remainder of the course.
Finishing in a time of 2:15:26, Julian took 14,901st place overall and was 959th in the Male 50-54 category. Julian has been through some tough times of late but running always provides a good outlet for him to focus his mind on something positive and work towards achieving the fitness goals he has set himself.
Julian was also raising money for the charity Mind, one that is very close to his heart since he’s experience first-hand what mental issues can do to people and how it can affect their lives. Mind works to let people in this situation know that they’re not alone and ensure there is always someone there for them to talk to through difficult times.
Also competing in the race for Bournemouth AC were Rob Spall, who came in 1,564th place, completing the course in a time of 1:16:53. That put him in 219th in the 45-49 age category. Paul Whitty was also in action, crossing the line in 3,566th position, registering a time of 1:25:04. That put him in 179th place in the 55-59 age bracket.
The Great South Run is a race that never fails to deliver in terms of both spectacle and atmosphere. Everywhere you turn, there are people by the side of the road cheering you on, offering you sweets or looking for a high-five.
There are also various organised bands at certain points on the course which often come as a welcome distraction from the athletic exertions. It really is an all-round terrific running experience to be a part of.