Rising stars shine for BAC at New Forest Marathon event

Phil Cherrett and Isabel Cherrett ran side by side in the New Forest Marathon 5k
The New Forest Marathon 5k race presented Phil Cherrett with the chance to run side by side with his daughter Isabel and they certainly made the most of the opportunity

The 2019 edition of the New Forest Marathon event featured Bournemouth AC members of all shapes and sizes and revealed some great potential amongst the youngsters who turned out.

Isabel Cherrett, in particular, is one who has shown great promise over recent weeks. She’s been training with the junior development group at Kings Park on Thursday evenings and is the daughter of Phil Cherrett who is a member of the road runners group.

At the tender age of 10, Isabel has been posted some incredibly impressive parkrun times of late, with her best time so far standing at 22:02.

Naturally, she gets a lot of support from her father who is also a fast runner as well and it clearly must be in the genetics. This was Isabel’s first race away from parkrun though so it was her debut in a BAC vest.

Isabel Cherrett and Phil Cherrett at the New Forest Marathon 5k
It was Isabel’s first proper race for the club so she pulled on the hallowed yellow and blue vest for the first time ever

It was also her first trail run as well and the first time she’d worn trail shoes so it was going to be interesting to see how she handled it. Because she’s only 10, Phil had to stay by her side the entire race, which meant the pressure was on him to try and keep up with her!

Fortunately Phil has also been in great form recently, posting three sub-20-minute 5ks on the bounce. His last one was at the Lytchett Relays, where he secured a superb new PB of 19:31.

Also in action from the junior development squad was Nathan Mearns, who is just 12 years of age. Nathan had got his parkrun time down to just over 23 minutes at Moors Valley and looks a real prospect for the future.

Nathan Mearns at the New Forest Marathon 5k
Nathan Mearns was another BAC youngster looking to impress on the big stage

Defending his title from last year’s race, Chris Phelan-Heath was also in the starting line-up for the 5k race. He had a definitive lack of quality training behind him though with his work preventing him from getting out and running as much as he would have liked.

As well as the 5k that all of the above competed in, the New Forest Marathon event also features a 10k race, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon. Katrina White was the only other Bournemouth AC runner to contest any of those distances. She opted for the Half Marathon race.

Chris Phelan-Heath in action at the New Forest Marathon 5k
Chris Phelan-Heath won the 5k race at the New Forest Marathon last year

Currently training for the Half Marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival as her main target race, Katrina is hoping to finish in around 1 hour 45 minutes.

Of course, the BMF Half Marathon should in theory be a lot more straight forward than the New Forest one, given that it’s run entirely on tarmac and a lot of the course is along the promenade.

With the New Forest Half Marathon being on a multi-terrain course through the heart of the New Forest, you would expect it to be a slightly tougher route than what Katrina will face at the BMF.

Katrina White taking on the New Forest Half Marathon
Katrina White did the most distance out of all the BAC members in action as she took on the Half Marathon

Before the 5k race started Phil bumped into Chris and, having done the race before, Chris was able to talk Isabel through the starting procedure and advised them to ensure they get near the front before it gets underway.

It was a fast and furious race to begin with and, although it wasn’t the largest of fields, loads of people flew past Phil and Isabel. After a couple of minutes it settled down though and Isabel was able to find her rhythm.

Phil finds Isabel to be a joy to run with. She always works hard but makes it look effortless. From 1km in she started picking people off who were ahead, including a number of girls had set off too quickly.

Phil Cherrett and Isabel Cherrett in the New Forest Marathon 5k
Isabel was in good form and, alongside her dad Phil, she soon began working her way up the field

As they got to about 4.5k, Phil let Isabel know that she was on for setting a new 5k PB and sure enough, as they went through 5k he clocked her at 21:58.

Unfortunately though, the course was a little over 5k and there was still over 300m to go. Amazingly, Isabel kept pushing though, making to the finish line in 23:04. That put her in 15th place out of 275 runners. It was a truly magnificent run from her and she received lots of congratulations and plaudits afterwards.

Isabel and Phil Cherrett at the New Forest Marathon 5k
Isabel and Phil both clearly share a huge passion for running which is wonderful to see

They then stopped off at the race village for lunch where the results for the 5k race were announced. Isabel had finished 1st in her age category and 3rd lady overall out of 172. Not a bad return for her first outing in a BAC vest.

She received a medal, a t-shirt, free entry into next year’s race and some vouchers for trainers. It really was the perfect race from her perspective. Isabel absolutely loves to run and enjoys the training even more. It’s her favourite thing to do, which is something she and her dad both have in common.

Isabel Cherrett collects her prize at the New Forest Marathon 5k
Isabel was 1st in her age category and 3rd female overall

Nathan Mearns also put in a good performance to take 28th place overall in a time of 25:54. That made him 9th quickest in his age category.

Nathan Mearns in the New Forest Marathon 5k
Nathan took 28th place overall with an excellent time of 25:54

As for Chris Phelan-Heath, he was unable to replicate his splendid victory from last year and was forced to settle for 4th place this time round. His time of 19:36 did earn him 1st place in the M30 category though but it wasn’t quite what he’d hoped for.

Chris Phelan-Heath in the New Forest Marathon 5k
It didn’t quite match up to his winning performance of 2018 but Chris still took 4th place overall finishing in 19:36

It was, however, a fair reflection on where he is right now off the back of the limited training he’s been having. Sometimes it can be like that though and work or other aspects can make it disrupt training routines which consequently make it tough to maintain the levels. No doubt he’ll be back to his best again in the near future.

Katrina White in the New Forest Half Marathon
Katrina was one of over 2,000 runners in the Half Marathon race

In the Half Marathon, Katrina White completed the course in 1:50:57 which put her in 515th position out of 2,049. She was the 90th woman over the line out of 1,012 and 17th out of 186 in the F20 bracket.

That was a promising run from Katrina and if she can produce a time like that on a mixed terrain it will give her every chance of achieving the time she wants at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. She’ll certainly take some confidence from this run anyway.

Katrina White in action in the New Forest Half Marathon
Finishing in a time of 1:50:57, it was a good effort from Katrina and put her 17th in her age group

In the other races, there was a win for former Bournemouth AC man Sean Edwards, now representing Lytchett Manor Striders again. He seems to have rediscovered his top form, racing round in a superb time of 35:23.

In the Marathon, it was Rob Forbes of Cirencester AC who swooped in for the win, clocking a time of 2:40:35. There were only three seconds splitting him from his closest rival Ty Farrer from Huntingdonshire AC.

What was great about the New Forest Marathon event though was that it presented the chance for youngsters to shine in the 5k race and there was even a Junior Race where even younger kids could take part.

At the same time though, there were some very competitive races featuring plenty of high calibre athletes at the front of the field. And of course, best of all, it was set in the picturesque surroundings of the New Forest. What more could you ask for?

Isabel, Phil and Elliana Cherrett at the New Forest Marathon 5k
Isabel and Phil celebrate with his other daughter Eliana (right) who ran a parkrun PB the previous day

 

 

 

 

 

Lytchett Relays lit up by BAC stars

Phil Cherrett passes baton onto Jo Dilling
Phil Cherrett passes the baton onto Jo Dilling as they form part of a mixed Bournemouth AC team

This year’s edition of the Lytchett Relays proved extremely popular with Bournemouth AC members with a whole host of them taking part across a wide range of different teams and combinations.

There were those of the Twemlow Anchors persuasion, with the training group featuring some of Dorset’s finest athletes putting out several teams capable of contending.

Then there were two mixed teams of Bournemouth AC traditionalists, organised by Kirsty Drewett. They were looking to pit their wits against 81 other teams made up of members from other clubs in the region and all sorts of others who had got together to give it a go.

It truly was a carnival atmosphere and the team spirit across the board was fantastic to see. No one was in it for themselves. Everyone was going out there and giving their best for each other and for the good of the team – and above all, for fun.

The premise of the event was for teams of five to battle it out with each member completing a 5km lap before passing the baton on to the next designated team member.

The times for each competitor would then be added together to give each team a cumulative time that would decide whereabouts they placed in the final standings. The teams were then split into categories of Mens, Ladies or Mixed.

The team that came out on top included two Bournemouth AC members, with Craig Palmer posting the quickest time of any athlete on the day and Rob McTaggart weighing in the 2nd fastest time overall.

Tag and Craig in the Lytchett Relays
Rob McTaggart and Craig Palmer had storning runs for the “Not Steve & Dave” team

Originally it was Tag who had the course record, getting round in 15:53. He then passed the baton onto Craig who promptly eclipsed that time to finish in a highly impressive 15:47. Their team also had Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders who ran it in 16:31, Mark Smith of Poole AC who did it in 16:47 and Josh Smith of Poole AC who got round in 17:06.

Craig Palmer in the Lytchett Relays
Craig blitzed it round in a time of 15:47 proving he’s in fantastic form

That gave their team a very impressive combined time of 1:22:04. A team of five Poole AC men took 2nd place overall, featuring Jamie Grose (16:02), Chris Alborough (16:13), Robert Doubleday (16:35), Dave Hicks (17:06) and Barry Miller (17:34).

Rob McTaggart in the Lytchett Relays
Tag was lightening quick in his leg, getting roung in 15:53

Their total time was 1:23:30. A team of five City of Portsmouth men took 3rd place, chalked up a cumulative time of 1:23:46.

Next on the leaderboard it was another team of Twemlow Anchors loyalists including Paul Chapman who posted a time of 18:30, Chris Wood of Wimborne who got round in 16:51 and three Poole AC members, giving them a total combined time of 1:26:07.

Rob McTaggart in action in the Lytchett Relays
It was only a week after Tag secured a stunning new 10,000m PB of 31:29

Steve Way was in the team that finished in 5th place and he completed the course in 17:44. He was joined by Steve Yates of Poole Runners and three more Poole AC members with Steve Cook making it a team of three Steves and messieurs Broadley and Jones giving them the two Daves.

Ant Clark was part of the team that took 6th place and it was good to see him back in action after the illness he contracted at in South Africa at the Comrades Marathon. Ant ran it in 18:49 and was joined by Pat Robbins who completed the course in 17:34.

Pat Robbins in the Lytchett Relays
Pat Robbins ran well to complete his leg in a time of 17:34

Chris O’Brien also competed as part of the Verwood Runners Mens team who came in in 18th place overall. Chris got round in a time of 20:18 with his team securing a cumulative time of 1:45:53.

Phil Cherrett in action at Lytchett Relays
Phil Cherrett is on his way in a run that would turn out to be his fastest ever 5k

The first of the two mixed Bournemouth AC teams finished in 23rd place overall and were the 6th best mixed team. Their team included Phil Cherrett who ran a brilliant 5k PB time of 19:31.

Phil Cherrett in full flow in the Lytchett Relays
It was Phil’s third consecutive sub-20-minute 5k

Simon Hearn also had a superb run, finishing just outside his 5k PB in a time of 19:23. Jo Dilling also posted a very fast leg, getting round in 21:35, with Steve Parsons clocking 23:28 and Katrina White completing her leg in 23:50. That gave them a total combined time of 1:47:47.

Simon Hearn pushes on in the Lytchett Relays
Simon Hearn had an excellent run, posting a time of 19:23
Simon Hearn in the Lytchett Relays
Simon was riding on the crest of a wave after his brilliant recent half marathon PB at Maidenhead
Jo Dilling pushes on in the Lytchett Relays
Jo Dilling ran the 2nd leg for one of the mixed Bournemouth AC teams
Jo Dilling in the Lytchett Relays
Jo ran well to complete her leg in 21:35
Steve Parsons and Mike White in the Lytchett Relays
Steve Parsons and Mike White were both running the third leg for their respective teams
Steve Parsons after the Lytchett Relays
Steve ‘almost’ enjoyed his run
Katrina White in full flow in the Lytchett Relays
Katrina White took up the fourth leg for her team
Katrina White in the Lytchett Relays
A decent run from Katrina saw her get round in 23:50

The other Bournemouth AC mixed team were positioned in 29th place overall and 10th mixed team. They did alright and proved they were up for fight, with Ian White, Sam White, Mike White, Joy Wright and Simon Hunt giving them bite.

Simon Hunt in the Lytchett Relays
Simon Hunt was on the first leg for his BAC team
Joy Wright in action in the Lytchett Relays
Joy Wright was on duty in the second leg for the BAC team
Mike White in the Lytchett Relays
Mike White hits his top gear as he powers along the track
Sam Laws running in the Lytchett Relays
The recently married Sam White took up the fourth leg for the BAC mixed team
Ian White in the Lytchett Relays
Sam’s now husband, Ian White heads down the track in his high-viz BAC t-shirt

Ian got round in 20:56, with Joy coming in at 21:08. Simon Hunt completed his leg in 21:16, with Mike posting a time of 21:18. The runner formerly known as Sam Laws got through her leg in 26:18. The total combined team for the team was 1:50:56.

Joy Wright in the Lytchett Relays
Joy has been reveling in a bit of time off the track over recent weeks
Sam Laws in the Lytchett Relays
Sam was sporting her trademark blue cap
Ian White in action in the Lytchett Relays
Ian races through the field on his way to a sub-21 finish

Finishing just behind the second mixed BAC team were the first placed all-ladies outfit, consisting of five Poole Runners. Gemma Oliver ran two legs for them, finishing in 21:20 and 21:39, with Paul Barker (22:15), Sarah Swift (22:19) and Joanna Westhead (23:25) completing the line up.

Joy Wright powers along in the Lytchett Relays
Joy demonstrates excellent form as she come in to complete her leg in 21:08
Sam Laws in action at the Lytchett Relays
Sam heads down the track on her way to a 26:18 finish

They finished with a cumulative time of 1:50:58 which was good enough to see off competition from a Lytchett Manor Striders ladies team (1:51:59 and Dorset Doddlers female five (1:52:35).

Craig Palmer did fastest lap at Lytchett Relays
Craig picks up his prize for the fastest lap

It was great to see so many different members of the Dorset running community integrating with each other in a competitive but friendly environment, with some even putting aside club rivalry to join forces and work together.

Rob McTaggart did 2nd fastest lap at Lytchett Relays
Tag collects his prize for the second quickest lap of the day

Everyone has their own personal reasons for running. For some it’s just simply to keep fit and stay in shape. For others it might be to improve and progress. Some people just like to be part of a united team and enjoy the camaraderie. One thing we have in common though is that ultimately, we do it for fun, and the Lytchett Relays certainly embody that sentiment.

Winning team at Lytchett Relays
An excellent collective performance from the “Not Steve & Dave” team saw them claim top honors for being the fastest overall team

 

 

 

 

Stu Nicholas hunts down victory in Crafty Fox Marathon

Stu Nicholas in the Crafty Fox Marathon
After his mammoth 100k effort at the RAT Plague, Stu Nicholas eased himself back into action by taking on a the hugely hilly, off-road marathon they call the Crafty Fox

It was only a month ago that Stu Nicholas was trying his hand at his first ever 100k at the Roseland August Trail where he faced a hellacious hilly route along the Cornish section of the South West Coast Path during the night.

Since successfully completing the full 64 mile course and securing a top five finish in the process, Stu has recovered well and was back in action at the Crafty Fox Marathon event put on by White Star Running.

The Crafty Fox
The Crafty Fox was a fun event but once the race got underway, it was very much game on for the competitors

The race consisted of a two-lap course, starting and finishing in the village of Angsty which is slap bang in the middle of Dorset. As per usual, White Star Running delivered the appropriate razzmatazz including providing an opportunity for weekend camping, a beer tent, medals and prizes for the top three men and women. Plus, as always, they ensured a fantastically scenic location to make the running that much more pleasurable.

Even though White Star events are often fun and often feature participants dressing up and enjoying the more light-hearted side of running, they are also serious when it comes to the crunch and competition can be fierce. As with every race he enters though, Stu was in it to win it and was prepared to give it everything he’s got.

Start of the Crafty Fox Marathon
The race gets underway and Stu is soon up contesting for places at the sharp end of the field

It was an off-road course, with hills pretty much everywhere you turn. In fact, after doing the Roseland August Trail and experiencing the heights of the South West Coast Path, the Crafty Fox marathon was right up Stu’s street.

He soon established a commanding lead at the head of the field and it looked like it would be smooth sailing from that point on. That wasn’t quite the case though when something happened that he hadn’t been banking on.

Lead group in Crafty Fox Marathon
The lead group begin to extend away from the rest of the field with Stu at the helm

On around mile 12, he came to a gate that was shut. From reading the race instructions, he remembered that all the gates on the route had been purposely left open. That immediately raised alarm bells and sure enough, he’d gone the wrong way.

He swiftly turned back and looked to rejoin the course. By the time he managed to get back on track though, he’d lost a significant amount of time and all of a sudden he now found himself in 4th place.

Stu Nicholas powers along in the Crafty Fox Marathon
Disaster struck when Stu somehow managed to take a wrong turn and find himself in a field he shouldn’t have been in

Instead of panicking though, he remained calm and set about working his way back through the field. He was going to have to fight to get to the front again and he was determined to do so.

Fortunately, he had another gear to move into and he was able to crank the pace up as he continued along the trail. One by one, he hunted down the athletes who had overtaken him when he veered off course.

Stu Nicholas battles on in the Crafty Fox Marathon
Although he’d lost some places when he got back on course, Stu was resilient enough to bounce back

By the 15-mile point, he was back in the lead, so it had only taken him three miles to catch the top three runners and get past them to reestablish his position. It was a tremendous show of strength.

From that point on, Stu’s advantage grew bigger and he soon built up an unassailable lead. Well, unassailable provided he didn’t go the wrong way again of course.

Stu Nicholas progresses through the Crafty Fox Marathon
Once he got back into the lead it was all academic from that point on

This time, he had no such troubles though and managed to push on to the finish line, completing the course in a time of 3:41:31 to seal a resounding victory.

With a winning margin of over 14 minutes, it was another fabulous display from Stu, who just seems to be going from strength to strength of late.

It was also a great example of, not just having the ability to go faster than his rival competitors, but also having a winning mentality. To keep his head together when suffering a setback and maintain the belief that he could come out on top. That’s the sign of a true winner.

Stu Nicholas with medal after Crafty Fox Marathon
Stu proudly holds his medal aloft after an excellent performance and a convincing win for the Bournemouth AC man

 

 

 

Paul Consani shows will to succeed at Ironman Vichy

Paul Consani in the Ironman Vichy
In what was without a doubt his biggest challenge yet, Paul Consani went over the France to take on the Ironman Vichy where he faced a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and then a marathon

Running a marathon is enough of a challenge on its own for most people. The months of hard training, high mileage and long Sunday slogs make it a testing task, both physically and mentally. Then when that’s over, there’s the pressure of having to produce the goods on race day and to press on through all the pain and suffering. It’s always a difficult challenge.

Imagine doing it after a 3.8km swim and 180km bike ride though. Now that is a challenge. And that’s the task that Paul Consani had ahead of him when he signed up for the Ironman Vichy.

That meant not only did he have to train to run a marathon, he had to fit in a lot of cycling and a lot of swimming as well. It was a big ask, but Paul was determined to do it and was prepared to put the work in a dedicate the required time to do it.

Having competed in triathlons for quite some time now, Paul has been becoming gradually more adept at all three disciplines and the building up the skills required to effectively combine the three together.

He’s always been a strong runner so that comes fairly naturally to him, provided he can stay injury free for a period of training. His cycling has been improving a lot over recent times and is becoming something he’s pretty adept in and feels comfortable with.

The swimming would definitely be his weak point, but in a way, that works quite well in triathlons, as by the time he’s done the swim, he’s often quite far down the field which means he then tends to be catching and overtaking other competitors throughout both the cycle and the run.

Vichy is thought to be one of France’s most luxurious locations, although perhaps not so much if you’re doing an ironman there. It’s healing waters and thermal springs have seen visitors flocking to the Auvergne spa town in the past and it has retained it’s reputation as a health retreat to this day.

Of course, Paul wasn’t there to relax though. In fact it was quite the opposite. He was going to be putting his body through, quite possibly the biggest strain it had ever been under.

The course featured a swim in the beautiful Lac d’Allier and a bike ride through the regions of Allier and Puy-de-dome , boasting spectacular views of the Montagne Bourbnaisse and the Volcanoes of Auvergne. The run route headed along the banks of Lac d’Allier and through the historic town centre where hoards spectators lined the streets to cheer the competitors on.

Paul was a little nervous going into the event as he’d been suffering from a niggling shoulder issue which had prevented him from swimming for the past three weeks.

The swim began before the sun came up so it was dark and the water was murky, meaning Paul could hardly see the Garmin on his wrist which was about the record its longest session ever.

The first half of the swim was with the flow of the river which was great, but on the flip side, it meant that the way back would be head on into it. That makes it very tricky when you’re not blessed with great swimming form.

It was Paul’s first attempt at a full 2.4 mile swim though so he was really just glad to get through it and move onto the disciplines he felt more optimistic in. Completing the swim in a time of 1 hour 26 minutes and 50 seconds, Paul quickly hopped onto his bike and took off hoping to make up for the lost ground. However, he did get a bit more than he’d bargained for in the bike leg.

The main reason he’d chosen the Ironman Vichy was that it was renowned for having a fast, flat bike course. After he’d entered though, they announced a new cycling route to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the race. That meant that instead, Paul would have a the pleasure of doing three laps up and down a dormant volcano with a total of 7,000ft of elevation. How kind of them.

There were some long, energy sapping climbs and the descents were bumpy and twisty. There were hardly any flat sections to enjoy making it extremely tough going.

Unfortunately it turned out to be the hottest day of the week as well, hitting 35 degrees by early afternoon. As a consequence, Paul found the bike leg a lot tougher than he’d hoped for. His power was down about 30 watts in comparison to all his long, easy-paced training rides and his average heart rate was 15 to 20 beats higher. Both of those he puts down to the heat.

Completing the 112 miles in 6 hours 26 minutes and 59 seconds, Paul had finished up about an hour down on his A-plan which was a bit of a blow. He got off the bike and put his trainers on, then 6 minutes later he was setting off on his marathon.

Paul Consani poweres on in the Ironman Vichy
Feeling a touch weary after his long bike ride, Paul sets off on his marathon run

As anyone who has ever run immediately after a hard bike ride will know, the legs can feel horribly tight and jelly-like when you first get going. Knowing he still had 26 miles to cover on heavy and unresponsive limbs was a rather daunting prospect.

Paul Consani enjoying the Ironman Vichy
With the sun beating down, maintaining pace over such a long distance run was always going to be difficult after what had come before it

Within a few miles though they did actually start to feel a little better again. Then the real fatigue began to set in. The run route was pretty straight forward, heading along the banks of the lake with just a short climb to cross each bridge at opposite ends of the course.

Paul Consani by the Lac d'Allier
The run was mostly alongside the banks of the Lac d’Allier

It was a four lap course which presented plenty of opportunities for Paul to see his family who were there supporting him. There were also cold water showers in each of the many aid stations which helped him keep cool in the intense heat. 35 degrees was the hottest temperature Paul had ever run in, let alone raced in and when in the direct sunshine it was even hotter.

Paul Consani on his run in the Ironman Vichy
The trees at least provided some shelter and some respite from the intensely hot sunshine

The fluids, energy gels and electrolytes that Paul took on board seemed to work well for him on the day and despite the conditions, he managed to stick pretty close to his target pace, aside from the odd walk through the aid stations towards the end.

Paul Consani in action at the Ironman Vichy
Paul managed to get his refuelling strategy for the run just right on the day which was imperative in those conditions

Finishing the marathon in 3 hours 49 minutes and 20 seconds, Paul had done it. He’d managed to complete the full ironman and that, in itself, was a fantastic achievement.

His overall time for the ironman race was 11 hours 55 minutes and 26 seconds, which put him in 397th place in the final standings. That was out of 1,240 who successfully completed the race and several others who didn’t manage to get through all three disciplines.

Paul Consani after completing the Ironman Vichy
Paul proudly holds aloft a medal that he will perhaps cherish more than any other in his collection

It was a decent result for Paul although it was a good hour off what I had been hoping for. That was mostly down to the bike ride though to be fair and the fact it was a lot tougher than he’d originally anticiapted.

Given the couse, the conditions and all that could potentially have gone wrong, he can be fairly chuffed with the outcome. With a kinder course though, Paul feels he’s got one in him that is considerably quicker so it may well not be his last full ironman.

That will hopefully be some way down the line though. For now, it’s time to kick back, relax and reflect on a truly remarkable achievement. It’s the ones you work hardest for that are the most rewarding and Paul certainly put everything he’s got into this race and deserves huge plaudits for his efforts.

Paul Consani with his son after Ironman Vichy
Being able to share the achievement with his nearest and dearest made it all the more special for Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie Stoten paces it to perfection in MCC at UTMB

Ollie Stoten in the MCC at the UTMB
Ollie Stoten was in action in the MCC race at the UTMB, mixing it with some of the finest mountain ultra runners in Europe over the 40km route

Whilst he’s been off on his travels, galivanting around Europe in his camper van, Ollie Stoten may have had to leave most of his personal possessions behind but he did manage to find space for his running shoes. And it’s a good job he did, since his journey seems to keep coinciding with the biggest running events on the continent. And since he was passing through, well… It would be rude not to, right?

He was in Italy for the Lavaredo Ultra Trail weekend where he took part in the 48km Cortina Ultra Trail race, incorporating 2,600m of elevation.

Then he happened to be passing through Switzerland on the week of the UTMB, meaning of course, he had to have a stab at one of the illustrious events on offer at the world’s biggest and best mountain ultra racing extravaganza.

The route for the MCC race consists of 40km, featuring an elevation gain of 2,300m. It starts off at Martigny-Combe in Switzerland and finishes off, as all the UTMB races do, in the iconic commune of Chamonix.

The course takes the competitors up through the vines of Martigny-Combe to the col de la Forclaz. The climbing then continues up to the col de Balme before heading down along the rocky road to Chamonix.

In the lead up to the event, Ollie had been suffering from a touch of man flu so he was a little worried that that could effect his performance, especially since it was at a high altitude.

It was straight into the ascent for Ollie and his adversaries, encapsulating the true spirit of a UTMB event. Ollie took it quite steadily to begin with, arriving at the col de la Forclaz in 1:02:55. That was after 7.83km of climbing, with the elevation gain already over 1,000m. At that point Ollie was in 76th place.

Feeling pretty good at that stage, it wasn’t long before Ollie went into attack mode. The next section took him up to the col de Balme, which was 17km into the race.

Arriving in a time of 2:34:41, Ollie had now moved up to 43rd place in the standings. That showed he was going well and after 1,826m of climbing, he was feeling very strong.

After that it was predominantly on the descent for the remainder of the race. The next checkpoint was Argentiere at the 28km point. Reaching there in 3 hours 34 minutes, Ollie had made further gains, climbing to 29th place on the leaderboard.

It was beginning to look like a very well executed race strategy from Ollie. He then moved up a few more places before arriving at the next checkpoint of Le Lavancher, which was 33km in. Having been running for just over 4 hours, Ollie was now in 26th place and was looking forward to the run-in toward the finish.

Cranking up the pace well over the last 5km, Ollie cruised into Chamonix, enjoying the adulation from the onlooking crowd as he made his way to the finish line.

Completing the course in 4 hours 39 minutes and 27 seconds, Ollie had come in in 21st place overall. That was a tremendous result in such a high calibre field. A total of 950 runners successfully managed to find their way to Chamonix, taking some of them up to 10 hours.

Ollie was actually the first placed Brit in the race as well, finishing just ahead of James Coates who came in in 22nd place with a time of 4:40:11.

In total, Ollie had completed 25.15 miles and amassed an ascent of 7,000ft. His average pace for the run was just over 11 minutes per mile. It was a race that Ollie had managed extremely well from start to finish and he was pleased with how he performed.

Since he was now right in the heart of Mont Blanc, it was only right that Ollie should do a bit more mountain running whilst he was there. He went on to enjoy a tour of Mont Blanc, with his partner Gail, who is also a keen ultra runner, experiencing all the highs and, well, the highs that the legendary peak has to offer.

Ollie Stoten finishes the MCC at the UTMB
Ollie approaches the finish with the roaring crowds cheering him on all the way to the line

 

 

 

UTMB not to be for JC as virus takes hold

Jacek Cieluszecki takes on the full UTMB
Usually a man for the big occasion, Jacek Cieluszecki was hoping for a performance for the ages as he took on the full, 170km UTMB race

The full UTMB race is classed by many runners as the very pinnacle of achievement. It’s kind of like the final destination that all ultramarathon roads eventually lead to. Certainly all mountain ones anyway.

To qualify for the UTMB, runners have to accrue a certain amount of points from successfully completing other ultra and marathon races. It is only once they’ve reached the appropriate number of points that they are allowed to enter.

That is a good way of ensuring anyone who does make it the holy grail of the running realm is experienced enough and well acquitted enough to at least give the race a good go.

Jacek Cieluszecki has certainly been through his fair share of monstrous races on his path toward the UTMB. That includes the Jurassic Coast 100km Ultra which he completed and won back in June.

With the route across the South West Coast Path incorporating over 9,000ft of elevation and with most of his race being conducted at night, it was the toughest and most brutal challenge Jacek had ever faced.

He’d also completed the 7 Valleys 100k in his native country of Poland which featured a gruelling route over some of the nation’s highest mountains.

On top of that, he’d taken on several marathons with high elevation including the Dorset Ooser, the Portland Coastal, the Purbeck Marathon and the Scott Snowdonia.

The culmination of all those brutal races was the opportunity to compete in the showpiece event on the grandest stage of them all. It had been a hell of a journey to get there but it was all worth it to compete in the full UTMB. After all, it’s the race that dreams are made of, right?

The route of the full UTMB is 170km in length and features over 10,000 metres of elevation. It starts off in Chamonix and loops around the high mountains of Mont Blanc before eventually finishing back in Chamonix.

Being set at such a high altitude of over 2,500m makes it incredibly tough to get enough oxygen into the lungs to maintain optimum performance. Plus the increment weather conditions in the high mountains provide a uniquely testing environment, with wind, rain, cold and snow all likely to be encountered along the way.

It was indeed a daunting prospect but Jacek was ready to give it his best shot. He’d successfully completed the OCC race at the UTMB in 2017  and the CCC in 2016 so he had some idea of what he was letting himself in for. The OCC was 56km from Orsieres to Champex to Chamonix.

The CCC is 101km with 6,100m of elevation, going from Courmayeur to Champex to Chamonix so that’s a little closer to what JC could expect at the full UTMB. The 170km route of the full UTMB race was still going to be taking it up a notch though.

When the day of reckoning finally arrived, Jacek was good to go. He did mention  his partner Ela, who had come out with him to support him, that something wasn’t quite right but he assumed it was just pre-match nerves and adrenaline running through his veins. With an event of such magnitude, that was probably not uncommon amongst the competitors.

Once he got going, Jacek felt okay to begin with. He wasn’t feeling on top of the world, but equally, he wasn’t in a bad way either. He was moving at the steady pace, knowing that the tendency amongst many of the participants is to start way too fast.

The first five miles were predominantly either downhill or on the flat so it that helped to ease Jacek into the race before the real climbing started on mile six. He was then heading up a very steep slope until mile 10. Then it was a steep descent for the next four miles.

From mile 14, it was on the ascent, all the way up to mile 28. The race had started at 6pm so it wasn’t too long before night fell. It was during the night that Jacek began to feel worse. He was coughing from time to time but he was still okay to continue and wasn’t overly worried at that stage.

Some steep descending followed over the next four miles before he was back on the ascent, up to the highest point of the race at 8,000ft. He was now 40 miles in.

Jacek Cieluszecki in action in the full UTMB
Jacek usually feels pretty at home in the high mountains but as the race progressed it became evident that something wasn’t quite right

After 12 hours of running, Jacek arrived in Courmayeur in Italy, where there was an aid station at 81km. Ela was waiting for him there. In hindsight, he perhaps should have stopped there but after a brief chat with Ela, he replenished his stock of gels and water and he was back on his way.

After around 10 to 15km later, it started to get noticeably harder for JC and from that point on, he experienced more lows than highs. He had a headache and his cough was becoming more and more evident. His body was tired after such a long effort and he was forced to slow down quite considerably.

To add to his woes, the sun had come up as well and it was turning into a hot day. A few hours later he arrived at Champex-Lac, an aid station in Switzerland, just over 80 miles in. Ela was there again and after discussing it with her, Jacek decided to abandon the race.

His UTMB battle was over, having covered 126.62km in 21 hours 17 minutes and 19 seconds. His elevation gain stood at 7,310 metres. It was a shame to have to call it quits after coming such a long way but the fact of the matter is, there was still well over a marathon left to go on extremely tough terrain. That would have taken him another six or seven hours to get through.

It was a difficult decision but when he looks back on it now, Jacek still feels he made the right call. Above all, health and wellbeing is the most important thing and to put that at risk by continuing would have been foolish. He had to look after his own best interests.

Only 1,556 of the 2,543 runners who started the UTMB managed to successfully complete the full 170km course which gives a good indication of just how tough a race it is; mentally, physically and emotionally.

To complete it, even the most accomplished of athletes would at least need a clean bill of health. Jacek didn’t have that luxury. It is frustrating to think that, had he not been suffering from the virus, he most likely would have made it to end. But it just was not to be on this occasion.

In truth, to get as far as he did, running over 80 miles and climbing over 23,000ft, is a minor miracle for someone who isn’t feeling well. Most people would have thrown the towel in long before that. But Jacek is a fighter. He stuck it out for as long as he possibly could and that kind of spirit, courage and determination speaks volumes about the character of the man.

All the training he put in and the huge effort expended during the race was not all for nothing though. Everyone who makes it to a checkpoint in the UTMB gets put down in the results. And rightfully so as well. It’s an achievement just to make to the first time check. In fact, it’s an achievement just be in the race.

Even though he abandoned in the end, Jacek made it through 18 of the 25 points in total and the time he did it in put him in 1,620th place so he was still almost half way up the leader-board.

More importantly though, he will have gained vital experience. The UTMB is the type of race where, the more times you do it, the more you learn and the better you can acquit yourself next time round.

This isn’t the end of the UTMB dream for JC, that’s for sure. He’ll be back again one day to face it again. Whether it will be next year, that is still to be determined, but one thing is certain and that is that Jacek won’t give up until he’s conquered it.

Jacek Cieluszecki in the full UTMB
After over 21 hours of running and having covered over 80 miles in the high mountains, Jacek finally succumbed to the virus he’d been suffering from for quite some time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Hearn makes headway at Maidenhead Half Marathon

Simon Hearn in the Maidenhead Half Marathon
So far this year Simon Hearn had achieved both a new half marathon and a new 10k PB. Could he do it again though at the Maidenhead Half Marathon? He was certainly going to give it all he’s got either way

It’s fast, it’s flat and it’s ferocious and it has been known to, on occasions, provide a fairytale foray for runners looking to inscribe a new PB onto their Power of 10 portfolio.

That’s exactly what Simon Hearn was hoping to when he travelled up to Berkshire for the Maidenhead Half Marathon. And with good reason as well.

He’d already secured a half marathon PB at Les Courants de la Liberte in Normandy earlier in the year, weighing in with a magnifique time of 1:28:35. He’d also recently recorded a new 10k PB of 39:04 at the Royal Berkshire 10k in Reading, so he’s clearly been a man in form of late.

His recipe for success was basically to select a target race first and foremost, then to find a training plan for whatever sort of time he was looking to complete it in, then to absolutely throw himself into that training plan.

That was Simon’s way of getting motivated for the task at hand and ensuring he arrives on the day of the event in the best shape he possibly can and confident that he can achieve the result he is setting out to attain.

It’s certainly a technique that appears to be working for Simon and the fact he’s running fast than he ever has before despite being in his 50’s shows he must be doing something right.

Of course preparation is one thing and Simon has certainly being doing his due diligence on that. However, actually executing the plan on race day and dealing with all the pressure that comes with it is never easy, no matter how well you’ve trained. You have to have nerves of steel and possess that inner belief in yourself that you can do it.

Having previously recorded a half marathon PB at Maidenhead a few years back, Simon has some good memories of the place already. This time he was hoping for the same again on his return.

The race starts off and finishes at Maidenhead town hall where the race village is set up. It is run on closed roads around the town and surrounding villages.

There was a Masters Championships for half marathon taking place as well which meant that the standard of the older runners competing was extremely high. That really helped to spur Simon on as he was on his way round.

He found himself running at around 6:38 pace for the most part of the run and it felt comfortable for Simon. Even though he’d never gone that fast over the duration of a half marathon before, he felt strong and always in control.

There were a few little battles he had within the race as well which helped him sustain a high intensity as he progressed along the course. Simon could scarcely believe it when he arrived on the finishing straight and saw the clock tick down to 1:27:47 as he cruised over the line.

He already knew it was a PB but when his official chip time came through, it was confirmed at 1:27:18. That was over a minute quicker than his time at Normandy in June. That was an extremely impressive improvement in the space of two-and-a-half months.

That stellar performance put Simon in 238th place in the final standings out of 1,573. In the MV50 category he was 32nd out of 196, which was a terrific result, especially considering the Master Championship that was taking place.

All the hard work in training had paid off for Simon and he was absolutely buzzing about how it went. He’d delivered the performance of his life and it was there for all to see.

It was now time for a bit of rest and reflection for Simon before he begins to contemplate what his next big challenge will be. He’ll certainly be enjoying the moment for quite some time yet though as he looks back fondly on a perfectly executed race.

Simon Hearn pushes hard in the Maidenhead Half Marathon
An extremely polished performance from Simon saw him carve out a brilliant new half marathon PB of 1:27:18

 

Helen Ambrosen in the shake up at New Forest Rattler

Helen Ambrosen in the New Forest Rattler Half Marathon
Taking on the New Forest Rattler Half Marathon as part of a longer training run, Helen Ambrosen had to contend with roasting conditions on the August bank holiday weekend

The New Forest Rattler Endurance Weekender is an event primarily aimed at triathletes, consisting of a swim, a bike ride and a run. It’s a very inclusive event though and competitors can take part in either the swim, the bike ride or the run as individual events, or they can enter all three of them.

There are also three different distances for each discipline as well, meaning each participant can tailor it to suit their needs. Since she had a long training run to do that weekend anyway, Helen Ambrosen decided she’d go for the run.

The three choices available for the run were 10k, Half Marathon or Full Marathon. She was looking to do 18 miles that day so had opted for the Half Marathon and was looking to add five miles on at the start of the run.

Since she tends to find it difficult when running in hot weather, it was always going to be challenge for Helen, but one that she would rise to with a keen enthusiasm. Plus it was nice for her to have a race to do to help keep her motivated during her long training run.

Quite a few people were camping out there over the weekend, particularly those who were taking part in all three events so that created quite a nice atmosphere around the place.

The run was scheduled to begin at 11am but the organisers decided to move it to 9:30 since it was forecast to be so hot. And in fact, it was 30 degrees so that was probably a good decision.

Just as she’d planned, Helen got her five mile warm up done before the race kicked off. It was quite a small field lining up on the cattle grid, with only 59 competitors present across all three distances.

It was a lovely off-road route, but quite hilly in places. There was a four mile section through open heathland which the half marathon runners had to go through twice, since it was an out-and-back course. There was very little shelter on these sections so the heat was palpable.

Helen Ambrosen takes on the New Forest Rattler Half Marathon
After an extensive five mile warm up, Helen proceeded to get her race underway

They ran out of water in the water stations as well so it was lucky that Helen was carrying some with her. She began to find it really tough over the last couple of miles though and the constant, pounding heat really got to her. In the end she was reduced to a walk/jog to the finish.

Reaching the line in a time of 2 hours 27 minutes and 47 seconds, Helen came in 27th out of the 36 who were competing in the half marathon. There were four runners who completed the full marathon, which must have taken a hell of an effort in such trying conditions.

Receiving an awesome medal at the end, it had been a good training run for Helen and she’d got to know a new route in the New Forest which is always handy.

Covering 18.26 miles in total, Helen was out there running for 3 hours and 6 minutes in total and amassed an elevation gain of 574ft over the course of the run. She said she would definitely do the race again, but would hope for cooler weather.

Helen is hoping to do the Abingdon Marathon towards the end of October in order to gain experience before she takes on the London Marathon next, where she achieved a good-for-age entry.

Over the summer she’s been struggling with her long runs, since it has been so hot, but now the weather is getting cooler she’s hoping it’ll be a little easier.

A calf issue had forced her to miss a couple of her planned long runs and meant that she was unable to run further than 13 miles but thankfully that seems to have settled down now.

She’ll be taking part in the Littledown 5 this weekend, which is a Dorset Road Race League fixture for Bournemouth AC. Then it will be back to the long runs and building her endurance up for the marathon ahead.

Helen Ambrosen after the New Forest Rattler Half Marathon
It was a well-earned medal for Helen after a very tough morning slugging it out in the New Forest furnace

 

 

 

 

Kirsty Drewett and Ian Graham face off against The Beast

Ian Graham in the Beast
After a long walking holiday, Ian Graham was quickly thrust into racing action at The Beast where he had to contend with a very tough, undulating route

Beast by name and beastly by nature, the “Tout and Back Again”, as it’s otherwise known, is one of those races that is as brutal as it is brilliant. It’s one of those runs where the course almost seems especially designed to be as testing as possible.

Of course, the difficulty level of the race is somewhat offset by the spectacular Dorset views you encounter along the way, with the route starting off on Corfe Castle Common and heading out towards Worth Matravers. Then it’s on to the coastal path, with the sea views providing a quite splendid backdrop.

After that it heads back up towards Corfe with some hellacious hills to overcome along the way. There are also some steps to negotiate as well which can really sap the energy out of you. To give a rough idea of the task, you’re looking at 1,800ft of climbing over the course of the 12.5 mile route.

Kirsty Drewett is becoming quite a fan of tough, hilly, off-road races though and she’s completed the Purbeck Marathon, the Hellstone Marathon, which featured over 1,150 metres of elevation, and the Dorset Ooser Half Marathon, which took her upwards of 1,150ft of climbing. She’s usually in her element over this type of terrain.

Also getting in on the action, Ian Graham had recently returned from a 19-day walking holiday up in Scotland which saw him cover a total of 215 miles across the Southern Upland Way.

You could argue that’s not the ideal preparation for a tough, hilly, near-on half marathon but then, he did do a fair bit of climbing over the course of his 215 mile walk so he’d certainly had plenty of practice. Excessive walking does often seem to have an adverse effect on running though in the immediate aftermath, so it was always going to be tricky for Ian.

The race starts off on quite a thin track which can create some congestion when you have 371 runners trying to jostle for position all the way down.

Kirsty normally positions herself about two thirds of the way back when on the start line as that’s where she finds she usually finishes up. That created a bit of a problem for her at The Beast though as there was a bit of bottleneck which meant she got held up and initially could only go at walking pace until the track widened.

Once that happened though and she got properly on her way she was able to get into her stride and find a rhythm. It was still a very testing route though and steps she had to climb up added to the enormity of the task.

Kirsty Drewett enjoying the Beast
Positioned quite far down the field to begin with, Kirsty got held up a bit due to the narrow pathway

Ian didn’t get off to the greatest start either, taking a tumble quite early on in the race and finishing up on his back in a bed of nettles. The stinging didn’t add to his enjoyment of the run and it was only some 24 hours later that it had completely subsided.

Ian Graham takes on the Beast
Ian gets his race underway, unaware of the fate that would befall him a short way in

Since she’d taken it pretty steady over the first half of the race, Kirsty managed to pick up the pace a bit over the latter stages and managed to take quite a few places and work her way up the field.

Kirsty Drewett battles the Beast
There were some difficult hills to negotiate the views went some way toward making it all worthwhile

Getting to the line in a time of 2:14:53, Kirsty finished in 157th position over and was 29th lady. She also took 10th place in the W35 category.

Kirsty Drewett takes on the Beast
Kirsty heads toward the finish before crossing the line in a time of 2:14:53

Reflecting on the race afterwards, Kirsty was a little disappointed with her time and felt she could have handled the hills a bit better and perhaps could have gone bit quicker over the first part of the race in particular.

It’s difficult to pace tough, hilly races like this though because you’re caught in a catch 22 situation of whether to try to save energy for the inclines or whether to try to go fast on the flat to make up for the time you lose on the ascents.

Kirsty Drewett finishing the Beast
Kirsty certainly looks like she was enjoying herself anyone despite the tough profile of the race

As for Ian, he found it a real slog but still managed to battle hard all the way to the end, trying his best to put the stinging sensations to the back of his mind. He crossed the line in a time of 2:38:10, which put him in 242nd place overall and 25th in the M60 category.

Ian Graham powers along in the Beast
Ian recovered well from his stinging incident to reach the finish in a time of 2:38:10

It was certainly a testing race as the name suggests and there were valuable lessons to be learned for both Ian and Kirsty along the way. For Kirsty, it was to make sure she doesn’t start too far back, particularly in races where the pathway isn’t too wide to start off with.

For Ian, it was probably more, don’t sign up for such a brutal race in the immediate aftermath of a 215-mile walking holiday. And if you do, watch your footing and take care extra not to fall over at any point. Then, if that all fails and you end up hitting the deck, for heavens sake make sure you don’t land in a bunch of stingy nettles!!

Ian Graham battles the Beast
It wasn’t one of Ian’s finest runs but he showed great heart and spirit to see it through

Who knows though? Perhaps Kirsty and Ian will be tempted back again some time to put their learnings into action and launch an improved bid to slay The Beast once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Performance by BAC Junior Athletes at Basingstoke on 28 August 2019

By Nick Marshall

Amazing work from all the BAC Junior Athletes that competed on 28 August 2019, a very humbling night that so many turned up to represent the Club, they virtually took over the whole meet with a Sea of Blue at Basingstoke last Night we had, in total 14 Junior Athletes there making the Long Trip to Basingstoke Grand Prix Open it look like the most Athletes from any away Club there.

Special thanks to our very own Hazel Bates & Jemma Bates for making the long trip to be Match Officials and thanks to all the Parents for bringing the Junior Athletes.

We had some Great Wins and PBs from so many in the U11s with Leo Thomasson and Will Launder both Winning two events each overall.

In the U13 Mariah Marshall, Adam Gulliver and Oscar Ewen Matthews all Winning in their Events Overall.

A Big third from Clodagh O’Brien in the Vortex and 2nd in her heat at 75 Meters U11 Girls who’s still has a year to go in the U11’s, plus James Davie Winning his Heat in the U11’s Boys 75 Meter and William Launder for coming Second Overall in 75 Meters & two overall wins in Long Jump & 600 Meters too.  Strong running too from Alba O’Brien Second girl in her 75 Meter Heat. A Win in the U15s 100 Meters for Adam Gulliver in his heat & even a photo finish was used with the Girl he tired with, something I’ve not seen used before at a meet.

A new event was tried by a few at U11’s in the 150 Meters and Leo Thomasson took first place & he was pushed all the way from strong running by James Davie in second place also in this race strong running from Noel Slade first time they have all had a go at 150 Meters distance before.

In the girls race a fantastic run from Elizabeth Davie who got 2nd Place.  Ewan Brown in the U13s 200m ran strong in his Heat to get Second place for U13 Boys. In the U11’s 600 Meters William Launder cruised the Win Overall with a time of 1.51 & Ollie Thomson great running from him taking 4th Boy and Esmee 4th Girl in this very tough Race 1 Heat.  Race two saw Clodagh O’Brien have a great win & Noel Slade put in one of the strongest last 100 Meters busts I have seen in getting 2nd Boy in this Heat from a tough start for him with James Davie 3rd Boy in this heat and 3rd Girl for Albha O’Brien respectly.  In the last heat Elizabeth Davie ran very strong to get third place Girl overall.

Oscar Ewen Matthews took complete control of the 800 Meters in the first heat and cruised to a comfortable win with a time of 2.21. Race 3 saw Ewan Brown run a fantastic 800 Meter PB and Mariah Marshall run well considering she had to sprint over to actual make the start of her heat Straight after her three Javelin throws where she took 3rd girl and a big PB of 18.41m, after a win in Shot with a throw of 6.93m and another PB from a good night in the field.

Adam Gulliver ran a strong 1500 getting third place in his heat for the U15 Boys.  Leo Thomasson threw a mighty fine PB taking Overall first place in the Vortex with a throw of 39.04m and Clodagh O’Brien took 3rd Girl with a Super throw of 27.61m also a PB, Esmee Atkins Hurst also threw well for the girls.

In the Long Jump saw William Launder in the U11s Win with a Jump most U13s would be proud of with a jump of 4.27m, as he smashed his previous PB.  Great jumping from Ollie to take fourth and Jake Selwood & Noel Slade also to Jump their PB’s too.

In the Girls Long Jump more PBs from Esmee Atkins Hurst & Alba O’Brien fantastic performance for both.

Another overall Boys win in the U13s from Oscar Ewen Matthews running into the wind with a jump of 4.39m and good jumping from Ewan Brown getting 5th place overall. Again massive thanks for all that took part last night.