With some members preparing for Spring marathons, some striving toward those much coveted Comrades medals and others simply wanting to test themselves over a longer distance, the Wimborne 20 provided an outlet for many Bournemouth AC runners to assess their form as the winter regime roars on.
The opportunity was of course taken away last year when the race was snowed off, playing havoc with the marathon preparations for a lot of runners. Ironically, it went on to be one of the hottest London Marathons on record less than two months later.
The entries for this year’s race were carried over though so those who missed out last year and had to settle for a day of sledging and building snowmen instead got the chance to take their place this time round.
The Wimborne 20 is run along the rural, scenic roads of Wimborne, featuring an undulating profile that is a challenge in itself on any ordinary day. With storm Freya passing over though, there was the added caveat of strong winds and persistent rain to contend with, making conditions tricky for the 232 runners taking to the start line.
Amongst those taking part were Steve Way and Ant Clark who will both be featuring in the Comrades Marathon this summer and are currently undergoing rigorous schedules with that in mind.
They were planning to run together along with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC, the club who were hosting the race. Unfortunately that plan went out the window when Ant was stuck in a long queue for the portaloos before the start of the race.
Just as he finally managed to get in there, the race organisers decided to pull everyone out of the queue and get proceedings underway. Unfortunately, those who were currently occupying the portaloos at the time were unaware of this and they got left behind as the race began.
That left Ant playing catch up as he got out and suddenly realised everyone had gone off without him. He then had to revert to plan B, which was just to get round at a reasonable pace without his hamstring giving him any cause for concern.
Thankfully, he successfully managed to achieve that, keeping a good steady pace throughout the run, crossing the line in a time of 2 hours 5 minutes and 41 seconds. That gave him an average pace of 6:18 per mile and put him in 5th place.
Just up the road, Steve and Chris had already completed the course, with Steve taking 3rd place in a time of 2:02:08. That put his average pace at an impressive 6:06 per mile. Chris filtered in shortly after to take 4th in a time of 2:02:14.
Although that would be a terrific run for most runners, Steve wasn’t overly pleased with his performance and had expected to be going faster than that in a hard 20-mile training run.
His heart rate told him that he was working hard enough though so he knew he couldn’t afford to go any faster. Otherwise, it would have been likely to have an adverse effect on his training in the aftermath.
At the moment he’s not feeling as strong as he perhaps was at this point last year but since the Comrades Marathon doesn’t take place until June, there’s still plenty of time for Steve to pull it round and get back on track.
No less than six Bournemouth AC women were in action at the Wimborne 20, with Emma Caplan, Nikki Sandell, Gemma Bragg, Kirsty Drewett, Estelle Slatford and Sam Laws all taking to the start line.
Currently training for the Boston Marathon in Lincolnshire which she’ll be taking part in in April, Emma Caplan was looking to run the Wimborne 20 in a progressive fashion.
Looking towards the London Marathon on the last weekend of April, Nikki Sandell was hoping for a smooth run to help her build some momentum and get her training moving in the right direction.
As for Gemma Bragg, she was just doing it for fun really. It would be furthest she’d ran for over year though, since she picked up a bad injury that kept her on the side-lines for quite some time.
She was really pleased to be in a position to put herself up for this kind of distance and it would represent another big milestone in her journey back to top form.
The three of them ran together for the first 10 miles of the race, having a good old natter as they went along. Emma then began to ramp up the pace, showing great strength and moving through the field well in the second half of the race.
In the end she capped off a superb negative split to finish as 3rd lady in a time of 2:24:38, putting her in 43rd position overall. She was also 1st woman in the V40 category.
Emma has certainly been putting the mileage in in training of late and has remained remarkably disciplined in her racing, using all her experience to ensure she’s in the best shape she can be for her target race.
Also running a really good second half of the race, Gemma Bragg arrived at the line as 5th placed lady, registering an excellent time of 2:26:41. That put her 48th overall.
Gemma was surprised at how comfortable she found it having not run that far for such a long time. That certainly bodes well for her future prospects as she continues to progress.
Finishing as 10th placed woman, Nikki Sandell completed the course in a time of 2:32:34. It wasn’t quite as quick as she’d hoped for so she was a tad disappointed with the run and felt that she should have been able to crank the pace up more the second half of the race.
There’s still a while to go before she does her marathon though so if she can get some god solid training in between now and then, she may still be able to get close to where she needs be come race day.
Also remaining close to each other throughout the race, Kirsty Drewett and Estelle Slatford ended up finishing in 162nd and 164th places respectively.
Kirsty really enjoyed the course and said she’d definitely recommend the event as a first foray into a longer road run. There were lots of water stations on route and the fact it was a lapped course makes it less lonely for those at the back of the field.
Her time of 3:05:05 made Kirsty 49th placed lady and 12th in the V40 category.
Currently in training for the London Marathon, Estelle had reservations going into the race, both about the weather and about the fact that it was a three lap route, meaning she might be tempted to stop at two laps.
As it panned out though, the three-lapped course worked out quite well as it meant, after completing the first lap, she knew exactly what to expect going forward.
Since it was quite a hilly course, she wasn’t trying to keep to a certain pace, she was just running it on how she felt and that she was able to just keep going. It was nice to have Kirsty for company most of the way as well.
Estelle’s time of 3:05:43 made her 50th female on the day and 13th in the V40 category. Last year Estelle had to defer her entry to the London Marathon due to injury so she will be looking forward to having a good stab at it this Spring.
Joining Estelle on the start line at London will be Sam Laws who managed to secure a place via the ballot, much to her delight. Since January, she’s been working to a very rigorous training routine in a bid to get herself in the best possible shape for it and give herself a chance of a sub-four-hour finish.
Fighting well in a less than ideal conditions at the Wimborne 20, Sam managed not to get blown away by the wind and enjoyed the camaraderie between her fellow runners as she went along.
Crossing the line in an excellent time of 3:16:28, Sam recorded a new PB for the 20-mile distance and had every reason to be pleased with her efforts.
She was 69th placed lady and came 6th in the women’s V45 category. There were sure signs that the hard training she’s been putting in his beginning to pay off and she’s well on the road toward achieving her target in the big event.
The race was won by Michael Gregory of Stubbington Green, finishing in a time of 2:01:24. He was followed by James Gilfillan who went over the line in 2:01:43 to take 2nd place.
The clear winner in the ladies race was Erica Fogg of New Forest Runners who registered a time of 2:20:12 to take 30th place overall. Francesca Rawlings of Clevedon was 2nd female in 2:23:14 which put her 37th in the overall standings.
The following day, Ant Clark did his bit for the environment, going round the course again with Chris Wood and the rest of the Wimborne AC crew to collect up all the empty bottles of drink and gel wrappers that had been cast aside by the competitors during the race.
This time last year Mark Hillier was taking on the Pilgrim Challenge as a training run in preparation for the Marathon des Sables. That meant running the entirety of the course with a heavy backpack to simulate how it would be when he battles the toughest footrace on earth.
This time round though his goals were very different. He was aiming to complete it with a friend of his, Mark Kingswsell, who only took up running a mere 12 months ago. What he’s achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of amazing.
The Pilgrim Challenge is a 66-mile race split over two days and is run across the picturesque North Downs Way. The route follows the footsteps of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury in ancient times, featuring stunning landscapes steeped in history.
Day 1 was very much a winter wonderland with a few inches of snow on the ground for the first 15 or so miles. It was a truly beautiful scene to run through.
Once up and over Box Hill, it was the inevitable thick slippery mud that greeted you. It was difficult to walk on in sections, let alone run. Mark and his friend Mark made it through the day unscathed though and were in high spirits when they reached the finish and were ready for some serious food!
The two Marks completed the first 33 miles in 7 hours 33 minutes and 32 seconds putting them in 119th and 120th places after Day 1. The task now was, first and foremost, to get through the second day and secondly, to try to either improve or maintain their positions in the standings.
Because the Pilgrim Challenge often represents a final multi-day training session for those heading over to Morocco for the Marathon des Sables, during the evening the organisers had arranged for some speakers to come and share insight in to their experiences of preparing for and running multi-day races. Much like last year, Mark found it very interesting to listen to.
Overnight temperatures had dipped down to a few degrees below zero and, since they were setting off at 9am on Day 2 for the return leg back to Farnham, they knew there would be a good chance that those muddy sections would be frozen and rutted. That meant, in theory, they should be easier to manage.
The weather was beautiful again on Day 2 and the views across the North Downs were absolutely stunning.
At one of the checkpoints, Mark was surprised to find that one of my tent mates from the Marathon des Sables, Derry Whitehead, was marshalling. It was great to see him again for Mark and brought back a lot of amazing memories from the MdS. It was also very appropriate that he was there at the end of the event to present Mark with his medal.
Completing the 33 miles on Day 2 in 8 hours 27 minutes and 55 seconds, Mark and Mark came in 121st and 122nd places on the day, so that was pretty much in line with where they were on Day 1.
Their total combined time for the two days and thus, the full 66 miles, was 16 hours 1 minute and 27 seconds, giving them final positions of 120th and 121st places. That was out of a field of 161 participants.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience for Mark. Completing 66 miles in two days was the biggest challenge to date for his running friend Mark and crossing the finishing line together, still smiling, was what it was all about.
Next up for Mark is a race called The Oner, which is organised by Brutal Events. It takes place in mid April and consists of an 82-mile course with over 10,000 feet of climbing along the South West Coastal Path.
That makes it the longest non-stop event that he’s ever attempted. He actually considers it to be a tougher test than the Marathon des Sables and with a 50% DNF rate, he’s genuinely scared about the event. You don’t know what you’re truly capable of unless you try it though and he can’t wait to be on the start line.
It’s the toughest, most competitive and most daunting race of the entire cross country season. It’s the one that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. It’s the ultimate test of strength, character, grit and determination.
All of those things would be needed in abundance at the National Cross Country Championships, which this year was held at Harewood House Estate near Leeds.
Unfortunately, with the event sandwiched between the Lytchett 10 and the Bournemouth 10 league races and considering it was such a long trip up north, it didn’t attract too many Bournemouth AC members this time round.
The club did, however, have some representation in the men’s and women’s senior races. Stuart Glenister was action in the men’s race, whilst Georgia Wood and Annette Lewis took part in the women’s.
The senior women had an 8km course to contend with on a two-lap route. The profile of the course was brutal, with hills aplenty – enough to put even the most accomplished of runners through their paces.
Putting in a terrific performance, Georgia Wood finished the race in a superfast time of 32 minutes and 43 seconds which landed her in 83rd place out of 1,034 runners.
Given the extraordinarily high standard of the event, that was a cracking result for Georgia and showed she really has the ability to mix it with some of the top female athletes in the country.
Although she struggled on some of the hills, Annette absolutely loved the course and said she would definitely be keen to race there again. Finishing in 930th place, Annette registered a time of 50 minutes 37 seconds.
The men’s course was 12km long and with the amount of hills there were to scale, it was always going to be an energy sapper. Stu enjoyed the stunning location though and the atmosphere which set the tone for an incredible race.
After powering his way up the first hill, Stu somehow managed to keep on the throttle throughout the race, despite the constant undulations.
Ending with an almighty sprint finish, Stu collapsed over the line and crawled away, very proud of his efforts. One thing is for sure, he certainly left it all out there – and that’s something you can always guarantee from Stu.
Registering a time of 51:09, Stu finished up in 1,158th place in a field of 2008. That was a superb result given the high calibre of the athletes he was up against.
After the race he did contact England Athletics to enquire about the results but was told that, despite the fact that the race was chip timed, there wouldn’t be any age groupings.
That was a little disappointing for Stu as he would have loved to have seen how he compared with other vets but sadly it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, he was still delighted with his run.
The senior men’s race was won by Mahamed Mahemad of Southampton in a time of 36:34, with Emile Cairess taking 2nd in 36:35 and Carl Avery 3rd in 37:04.
In the senior women’s race, Emily Hosker Thornhill came out on top in a time of 28:17, with Philippa Woolven 2nd in 28:28 and Jessica Judd 3rd in a time of 28:52.
Coming off the back of a hard fought victory at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier, the Bournemouth AC squad arrived at the Pier looking to cement their place at the top of the Dorset Road Race League table in a race that essentially qualifies as they’re home fixture.
The Bournemouth 10 is organised by Honorary Treasurer Ian White, with the help of many other budding club members who turn out in their droves to help out.
It was an early start for all those involved in setting up the event, with race kicking off at 8:30 in the morning. The scheduling was designed in an effort to reduce traffic issues on the road and minimise the disruption from other promenade users as 700 eager Dorset club runners pour along the seafront in a stampede of biblical proportions.
With the race providing a good outlet for spring marathon runners to find out where their fitness levels are at, it’s usually not a problem for Bournemouth AC to get a quality, competitive line-up out.
Last year’s race saw a one, two, three for the yellow and blue army, with Steve Way taking the win in a new course record time and Rob McTaggart and Josh Cole following shortly after.
Steve and Tag were both in action again, with Steve once again undergoing a rigorous training programme for the Comrades Marathon in June and Tag looking to sharpen up his speed for another tilt at the London Marathon.
After their impressive performances at the Chichester 10k earlier in the month, Dave Long and Craig Palmer were also in the mix, bolstering a BAC squad brimming with talent and expertise.
It was certainly needed though with the likes of Iain Trickett, Chris Alborough, Lee Dempster and Chris Wood all looking to contend for the top placings. It looked set to be an absolute corker of a race.
There was also a very strong looking ladies team out for BAC as well, with Emma Caplan and Gemma Bragg both included in the ranks. They were joined by Alison Humphrey who was making a comeback for the club after a hiatus of several years.
All the foundations were in place for a day to remember for BAC and as it turned out, the event did not disappoint. In a stark contrast to last year’s race, it was actually a fairly warm day, and with the wind speed not especially high, the runners couldn’t really have hoped for better conditions on a February morning.
As the race got underway, all the usual suspects were at the front of the field, engaging in a game of cat and mouse as they made their way along the promenade from Bournemouth Pier towards Southbourne.
The runners got their first taste of the watching crowds as they approached Boscombe Pier and then sped down the ramp on the other side in the direction of Hengistbury Head.
As the front runners edged closer to Southbourne, it was Dave Long who plucked up the courage to take the race on. After his stunning sub-50 display at the Great South Run in October, if anyone out there had the pedigree to push the pace a little it was him.
With Steve, Tag and Craig all following in the group behind though, it was always going to difficult for Disco to gain any sort of advantage that would be likely to prove decisive.
He was soon reeled in by the chasing pack and it was then Steve, Tag and Craig who took to the front as they began to make their way around the houses in area between Hengistbury Head and Southbourne.
The route then veered up the Southbourne Coastal Road and onto the Overcliff, where it then headed back towards Boscombe. It was on that section of the course that Steve began to ramp up the pace and pull away from Tag and Josh.
He wasn’t feeling quite as strong this year though and it turned out to be Craig who began edge in the lead. After sealing a marvellous victory at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier, despite having run an additional lap of the course beforehand, it was clear that he was in terrific shape.
Doing his best to hang onto Craig’s coat-tails, Tag was the only person who seemed to be able to live with the ferocious pace Craig was setting.
Unfortunately for Tag though, his chances giving Craig a run for his money ended when he got a stitch and had to stop and wait for a bit to try and get rid of it.
Craig then began to accelerate away and it looked like he may well be home and dry for the victory. Steve then came past Tag when he whilst he was pulled up, as did Matt Papa of Egdon Heath Harriers who was doing a very good job of staying with the BAC boys.
Once Tag got going again, he set about trying to catch Steve and Matt in a bid to regain his second spot.
As for Craig, it was now a race against the clock. There was a £50 bounty on it for anyone who managed to beat the course record, for both men and women. That was now in Craig’s sights as he progressed along the final section of the race which was along the promenade from Boscombe to Bournemouth Pier.
Could he do it though? Did he have enough in the tank to topple Steve Way’s course record of 55:13? And the answer was of course, yes. Reaching the line in a phenomenal time of 55:01, Craig had secured himself a new fastest ever Bournemouth 10 time.
It was a truly great run from Craig and managing a super strong negative split as he began to up the pace throughout the second half of the race giving him an average pace of 5:28.
The race also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles which meant that Craig had also earned the accolade of becoming the county champion.
Meanwhile, Tag had succeeded in chasing down Steve and Matt and he arrived at the finish in 2nd place, clocking an excellent time of 55:24, in spite of the stoppage.
Just managing to beat Steve to the line for third place and disrupt what would have otherwise been a BAC one-two-three for the second year running, Matt Papa crossed the line in 55:34. Steve was forced to settle for 4th place on this occasion with his time of 55:37.
Next over the line, it was Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders who finished in a time of 55:50, with Chris Alborough of Poole AC taking 6th in 56:17.
Iain Trickett was 7th in 56:23, with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC and Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat taking 8th and 9th, both registering a time of 56:33.
Making it a fourth BAC member in the top ten, Stu Nicholas secured a brilliant new 10 mile PB, beating his time Bournemouth 10 time of 2016 by three seconds.
That was a fantastic result for Stu, particularly as it was only two weeks since he successfully completed four marathons in four days at the Enigma Quadzilla, finishing up as joint winner of the event.
Not quite managing to hit the heights of his GSR glory, Dave Long had to be content with 13th place on this occasion, reaching the line in a time of 58:02.
The men’s course record wasn’t the only one to go on the day though. Emma Caplan’s time of 1:01:13 from 2016 was also under threat, with Jen Elkins having an incredible run.
Completing the course in a staggering time of 58:26, Jen took 14th place overall and of course, the prize for first lady. That meant Ian White’s pockets were now £100 lighter after the readies he’d already had to cough up for Craig.
Another superb run from Mitch Griffiths saw him secure a sub-60 for the first time ever, taking 20th place in a time of 59:40. Given it’s not the quickest course ever and the fact that he’s deep in the midst of his marathon training, that was a terrific result for Mitch and a really positive sign of progression.
A small group of Bournemouth AC runners finished quite close to each other in between the 1:01:20 and 1:01:50 times, with Ollie Stoten taking 30th place in 1:01:24.
He was followed by Tom Paskins who was 32nd in 1:01:31, with Rich Brawn crossing the line in 1:01:47 to take 36th place. That was actually the reverse order that they had been in at the half way stage in the race.
Tom overtook Rich whilst they were heading up the Southbourne Coast Road to the Overcliff. Then as they came off Boscombe Spa Road and turned down Sea Road towards Boscombe Pier, Ollie went past Rich as well.
It was a very strong finish to the race for Ollie, who is more of an ultra marathon runner than a short distance specialist. He was going so well along the final stretch on the promenade that he also went past Tom right near the end as well.
Rich wasn’t over the moon with his time as he had hoping to be a little closer to the 60 minute mark but it was only a week since he’d run the Bramley 20 and he was feeling a little fatigued from the intense marathon training and high mileage he’d been undergoing.
One man who could be fairly certain that a 10-mile PB was on the cards was Matt du Cros. That was because he’d set his benchmark of 1:05:19 at the Lytchett 10 in his first ever 10-mile race. And the Bournemouth 10 is a much faster course.
Matt did not disappoint though and sealed a brilliant new 10-mile best of 1:03:01 to take 42nd place. That was an improvement of over two minutes, so a pleasing result for Matt, albeit with less hills to contend with.
Going into the race with some doubts over his fitness and concerns over a recent knee injury he’s been suffering from, Paul Consani wasn’t expecting to pull up any trees at the Bournemouth 10.
As it turned out though, he had a pretty good run, all things considered, finishing up just 13 seconds off the time he registered in last year’s race.
That was a pretty decent result, especially as Paul is training for an ironman event at the moment so has been doing a lot of cycling as well and has been focusing on that more than on his running.
Running the first few miles with Ollie Stoten, Paul found the second half of the race quite though as Ollie had pushed on and he was left on his own to battle the inclines over towards Boscombe.
His time of 1:03:31 put Paul in 48th place overall and 11th in the M40 category.
It’s been years since Duncan Wells last competed in a BAC vest but after Phil Cherrett was forced to give up his number for the race after suffering from an ongoing injury, Duncan was tempted into doing the race.
At about four miles in though, Duncan was thinking perhaps he should have stuck to the original plan of marshalling instead of racing. He’d got a little bit over excited and had gone out too quick.
Once the hills were out the way with though, Duncan seemed to get a second wind and he managed to rally well and make it through to the end.
Finishing in a time of 1:04:58, Duncan came in 65th place. He enjoyed being back out there competing and it has definitely wetted his appetite to step up his training and enter a few more races in the future.
Continuing her impressive comeback after a long lay off, Gemma Bragg followed up her victory in the women’s race at Lytchett with another pleasing performance.
Reaching the line in a time of 1:06:43, Gemma was the 3rd placed lady in the race, after Helen Southcott of Maiden Newton Runners finished 2nd in a time of 1:05:41.
Feeling really strong during the race, Gemma managed to keep a pretty consistent pace and felt like she couldn’t really have done much more on the day. She finished up 81st in the overall standings.
That run was also good enough to give Gemma the victory in the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles, so that came as a nice little bonus for her.
Filtering in shortly after Gemma to take her position as 4th placed lady, Emma Caplan crossed the line in a time of 1:07:13, putting her in 86th place overall.
Instead of racing as hard as she could though, Emma ran a controlled race, going at 7-minute-mile pace for the first five miles, then marathon pace for the next three and as fast as she liked for the final two miles.
With her main target race being the Boston Marathon – the UK one that is – all of Emma’s training is currently geared towards that and she felt that with the marathon in mind, her run at the Bournemouth 10 went well and she was very comfortable running at that pace.
Finishing as 3rd scorer for the ladies team, Alison Humphrey had a great run to take 8th place in the women’s race in a time of exactly 1 hour 10 minutes.
It was great to see Alison back in race action for BAC again and she will no doubt prove an important player over the course of the season.
She was placed 115th in the overall standings, so a very pleasing result for Alison. That performance was good enough to seal a magnificent team victory for Bournemouth AC in the women’s race and secure maximum points for the fixture.
Aliso was, in fact, having a bit of a ding-dong with her Bournemouth AC teammate Pawel Surowiec throughout the race and pair interchanged positions numerous times during the run.
Arriving at the finish just nine seconds later, Pawel took 118th on the day with his time of 1:10:09. It wasn’t quite as quick as he’d hoped but Pawel enjoyed the run and the tussle he was having with Alison.
The last BAC member to squeeze into he top 100 was Richard Cannings, who crossed the line in a time of 1:08:04 to take 95th place. That was just over a minute down on the time he clocked in the race last year so not a bad run on the whole.
The battle for supremacy in the M60-64 category in the Dorset Road Race League has been hotting up of late, with defending champion Jud Kirk involved in a real grudge match with his main rival Nigel Haywood of Purbeck Runners.
This season there’s a new guy on the scene though and that’s Steven Hogarth of Poole AC. He finished the highest in that category for the first two DRRL fixtures at Broadstone and Lytchett and he looks to the main threat the Jud’s title.
The Bournemouth 10 saw an other first place in that category for Stephen, with him finishing in a time of 1:07:44. That gave him 92nd place overall.
This time Jud took 2nd in the category, and 101st overall, crossing the line in a time of 1:08:52. That put him almost exactly a minute ahead of Nigel Haywood who was 4th M60 on the day in a time of 1:09:51, putting him 113th overall.
The emergence of Stephen as the front runner in that category has made Jud all the more determined to put some extra work in and do whatever he can to raise his levels for the races to come.
Making a change from his usual home on the track, Lewis Bartlett took the opportunity to get out on open road and he ran well to take 143rd place finishing in a time of 1:12:20.
Also in the line up for Bournemouth AC, Rob Spall completed the course in a time of 1:17:22 which put him in 216th place overall. Rob enjoyed the race a lot, just as he did when he ran it before in 2016.
After securing a terrific PB at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier Steve Parsons had every reason to feel optimistic of another good run at the Bournemouth 10. Unfortunately though he came down with a cold the day before the race and didn’t get a good night’s sleep at all.
Deciding to give it a go anyway though, he set off down the promenade and was on target for another PB after the first four miles. He found himself beginning to struggle a little on the fifth mile though and went through the half way stage in 36:40, which was just a touch over his target pace.
From that point on though, things started to go a bit downhill for Steve. He began to feel like he was running on empty and the second half of race took him over six minutes longer than the first half.
He’d never quite experienced his body giving up on him like that during a race though and in truth, he can take some semblance of pride in the fact that he managed to keep going despite how tough he was finding it.
Crossing the line in a time of 1:19:08, Steve finished up in 239th place and he was visibly in a bad way afterwards. Fortunately, his BAC teammate Kirsty Drewett was helping out at the event and she saw him looking a little unsteady at the end and made sure he stayed upright and got some colour back in his cheeks.
Taking 1st place in the women’s F60 category, Helen Ambrosen was the final BAC member over the line, finishing in a time of 1:23:24. That put her in 297th place overall and 63rd female.
From her training runs, Helen had worked out that she could run nicely at that pace and although it got quite tough towards the end, she executed her race plan well.
Although she doesn’t like owning up to being an over 60, Helen was well pleased to get the category win and she’s done very well on that front over recent races.
It was a splendid day for BAC, all things considered, with both the men’s and women’s teams taking the 1st prizes at the presentation afterwards.
Craig, Tag and Steve Way made up the winning BAC men’s team, with Gemma, Emma and Alison comprising the top three for the women.
It was also a comprehensive victory the men’s team in the Dorset Road Race League, with Craig, Tag, Steve Way, Stu Nicholas and Dave Long completing the scoring team.
Just as they did at Lytchett, Egdon Heath Harriers had another good day to take 2nd place in the men’s league, with a disappointing result for Poole AC seeing them finishing down in 5th.
The BAC ladies team took first place in the women’s first division, with Poole Runners taking 2nd and Egdon Heath Harriers securing 3rd.
That meant the BAC men’s team extended their lead at the top of the table after the first three fixtures of the season, with two wins and one 2nd place.
The women’s team remain in 3rd place for the season so far, behind Egdon Heath Harriers and Poole Runners. There are still plenty of points up for grabs though and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the BAC women’s team back on top before long.
Once again, massive plaudits have to go out to Ian White who organised another magnificent event, with all operations running extremely smoothly. With so many BAC club members coming out to marshal the race and support the runners, it was a superb day for the club all round and one they can all take immense pride in.
Being set on predominantly fast, flat, rural roads, the Wokingham Half Marathon provides a fantastic PB opportunity, or a great speed sharpener for anyone training for a spring marathon or working towards another longer race.
For Sanjai Sharma though, it has formed a regular part of his routine for a number of years now in the countdown towards London. In fact, he’s only missed it once in the last nine years so he knows the course like the back of his hand.
This year he was joined in the race by his Bournemouth AC contemporary Anthony Clark. Unlike Sanjai, it was the first time Ant had had a bash at the race and he was looking to run it at, what he would consider to be a steady pace in what was essentially his first proper leg tester of the year.
Since the start of the year Ant has been suffering from a bit of hamstring trouble. It hasn’t been anything too serious but he’s had to take a sensible approach with it and it did mean he was forced to pull out of the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon at the beginning of February.
As for Sanjai, he wasn’t actually looking forward to the race much at all in truth. His lack of consistency and quality of training in the build up to the race had left him a little behind on where he normally is at this stage of the year.
Despite that though, he had decided to give it ago, although he feared his time may be a little down on what he’s produced in previous years.
Ant made a conservative start looking to ease himself into the race and soon settled into a steady pace, going to roughly 5:45 to 5:50 minutes per mile. He was cautious not to push the hamstring too hard at this early stage and that was the most crucial aspect.
Keeping the pace pretty consistent throughout the run, Ant arrived at the finish in a time of 1:15:52. That put him in 51st place in what was, as it is always is, an extremely high calibre field. He was also 10th out of 215 in the M40 category.
The line up consisted of just over 2,000 people, so it was a very big field with runners of all abilities taking part, as well as a fast and furious contest at the front of the race.
Having had a pretty good run out at the Bramley 20 the previous weekend, Sanjai had at least had his confidence restored a touch by that performance.
Completing the 20 mile course in 2 hours 14 minutes and 33 seconds, the most part he executed his plan of running it in progressive blocks of five miles and his average pace worked out to be roughly what he would be aiming for in a marathon.
Putting his all into the Wokingham Half race, Sanjai ran extremely well and, aside from a minor blip between miles 9 and 10, he was really happy with how it went.
Crossing the line in a superb time of 1:21:55, Sanjai finished up in 149th place in the overall standings. He was also 3rd out of 105 runners in the M55 category.
He’s hoping that the that performance will get him somewhere near the top in the club championship half marathon table. The club championship is decided on age grading, so the higher the age and the faster the run – the better the score.
In comparison to previous years, Sanjai’s performance didn’t measure up too badly. Last year he ran it in 1:21:08, so he was only 47 seconds down on that. In 2017 he did it in 1:21:13 and in 2016 it was 1:21:11 so he has shown remarkable consistency in that race over the years.
Next up for Ant it will be the Wimborne 20 this weekend, where he will be looking for another good solid run with no hamstring concerns.
In June this year, Ant will be taking part in the Comrades Marathon, so all of his current training will be conducted with a view to that event where he will be running alongside his Bournemouth AC teammate Steve Way.
The Wokingham Half Marathon race was won by Matt Clowes of Cardiff AAC in a blistering time of 1:04:06. he was followed by Richard Allen of Aldershot, Farnham & District who finished in 1:05:15.
Scott Overall of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers took 3rd in a time of 1:05:25. That gives an idea of the extraordinary talent on show in the race, making for a hugely competitive environment throughout the field.
The first female over the line was Hayley Munn of Northampton Road Runners. She finished in a time of 1:16:51 which put her 66th overall. Naomi Mitchell of Reading took 2nd in 1:17:14, giving her 73rd position overall. Lesley Locks of Hart Road Runners was 3rd lady, completing the course in a time of 1:19:02.
Organised by the Hope Rising, a Christian charity that helps people in need in different places around the world, the Avon Trail Run was a good way for athletes to get their cross-country fix in the off-season.
The ‘Tyrrell Trail’ Cross-Country Run was staged at the beautifully scenic Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Activity Centre and it as the eighth time the event had been held at that location.
Off the back of some excellent performances in the Wessex League Cross Country fixtures, Chris Phelan-Heath was keen to take to the trails again, looking for success in the 5k race.
Simon Hearn and Trevor Elkins opted for the 10k route, hoping they’d be able to negotiate their way across the muddy ground and twisty tracks quickly and competitively.
It was an unseasonably sunny and mild day as a group of just over 180 prepared to tackle the challenging course. Both races started at the same time, with the 5k consisting on one loop and the 10k being made up of two loops.
There were fast flat sections, demanding climbs, twisty downhills, plenty of mud and some water sections for the runners to contend with. It was actually quite technically tricky and with all the tree roots to avoid and the boggy bits to get through, it certainly kept the participants on their toes throughout.
Setting off quite quickly, Chris Phelan-Heath decided to take the race on and he wasn’t taking any prisoners. The only man who could get close to him was Alastair Pickburne of New Forest Runners.
Although Chris was doing the 5k race, he didn’t know which distance Alastair was doing so that kept him driving on to get round as quickly as possible and try to maintain his lead.
Getting to the line in a time of 20:46, Chris took a very strong win in what was a pretty decent time for such a testing course. As it turned out, Alastair was actually doing the 10k race so he went round for his second loop.
The next athlete over the line in the 5k race was Ross Wayne of Purbeck Runners who was over three-and-a-half minutes behind Chris, registering a time of 24:22.
33 people in total opted for the 5k distance, with 12 men and 21 women in the mix. The first women to arrive at the finish was Fay Abramson who clocked a time of 28:15.
In the 10k race, it was Alastair Pickburne who got the win, reaching the line in a time of 43:32. Darryl Still of Hardley Runners was 2nd in a time of 44:02 before Trevor Elkins arrived to take a very good 3rd place, registering a time of 45:05.
Trevor seems to be getting his running mojo back now after some turbulent times and is now finding new ways to push himself and feeling stronger than ever.
All the twists and turns made it difficult to gather a good pace and momentum throughout but that was all part of the challenge and Trev was very pleased with his run.
Following some strong runs in the Hampshire League cross country, Simon Hearn was well adept at dealing with this type of terrain. That didn’t make it any easier though and he still found the course to be extremely demanding.
Managing to cope with the rigours of the forest tracks very well though, Simon crossed the line in 7th place with an impressive time of 47:17.
A sum total of 133 people went for the 10k race, consisting of 70 men and 63 women. The writing was on the wall for Sam Smith to finish as first lady, recording a time of 50:18. Joanna Tomsett of Westbourne RC took 2nd in 55:42.
Despite the challenging nature of the course, Chris, Trev and Simon all thoroughly enjoyed the race and it was certainly a decent off-road training run for all of them and a true fitness tester if ever there was one.