Cross country season gets underway

Bournemouth AC team for the Wessex League Cross Country
The Bournemouth AC senior team arrived at Canford Heath for the Wessex League Cross Country fixture small in numbers but big in enthusiasm

The 2019/20 cross country season started with the first Wessex Cross Country League fixture at Canford Heath on 29 September, and continued with the start of the Hampshire Cross Country League at Kings Park on 12 October.

The Wessex Cross Country League continues to grow, having revived from almost disappearing a few years ago, and Bournemouth AC‘s participation also grows, particularly amongst the youngsters. The were some excellent performances from BAC athletes, including wins by valuable new signing Lisa Elmore (SW), Jasper Todd (U17M), Neve East (U15G), with other notable runs from Ed Porter (another valuable new signing) and Richard Brawn, 3rd and 7th SM respectively, James Oliver, 7th U13B, Martha Preece, 4th U15G, Erin Wells, 4th U13G, Oscar Ewen Matthews and Oliver Hill, 2nd and 7th U13B respectively, Isobel Cherrett and Esmee Hurst Atkins, 2nd and 3rd U11G respectively and William Launder, 4th U11B. In all, 314 athletes competed at Canford Heath, and congratualtions and well done to each and every one of the 29 BAC athletes included in that total. Please see below for the full BAC results. The next fixture is on 3rd November at Lytchett School.

Rich Brawn in the Wessex League Cross Country
Rich Brawn was taking on his first ever Wessex League Cross Country race
Raluca Basarman in Wessex League Cross Country
Raluca Basarman was looking to make an impression in her first ever Wessex League Cross Country fixture
Ed Porter and Rich Brawn in the Wessex League Cross Country
Ed Porter and Rich Brawn were both up in the lead group in the early stages of the race

For the 8th year in a row, BAC hosted a fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League at Kings Park, this year the opening fixture of the season on 12 October. First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who turned out to help, marshal, time-keep, issue finishing tickets and do all the other jobs which are needed to enable the fixture to take place. No athletic fixture takes place by someone clicking their fingers and everything is there! It rained most of the day making the efforts of the volunteers even more noteworthy. 838 athletes (for some reason – the rain perhaps – over 100 fewer than last year) competed in 10 separate races throughout the day, 41 of whom proudly wearing the BAC vest.

Having said that, it was perhaps a little disappointing that BAC‘s senior men were unable to take full advantage of the home fixture as they didn’t have their strongest team out. Nevertheless, well done to Jacek Cieluszecki, Henry Bramwell-Reeks, Alex Goulding, Steve Ross (another valuable re-signing) and Richard Brawn who scored 283 points to ensure a reasonably secure mid-table placing in Division 1 (6th out of 10), comfortably ahead of the top team of Division 2.

Rich Brawn in the Hampshire League Cross Country
It had been raining all day so conditions were tricky for Rich Brawn and the other senior men in the Hampshire League Cross Country
Alex Goulding in the Hampshire League Cross Country
Alex Goulding was put off cross country after the Kings Park fixture last year but has vowed to give it a proper go this time round

Plaudits also go to Jacek, Alex and Simon Hearn, who secured an excellent 4th of 21 veteran men’s teams. The senior ladies’ team of Holly Collier, Lisa Elmore and Raluca Basarman can be pleased with their 9th placing of 21 senior ladies’ teams. Unfortunately, only two of our ladies were veterans, not enough to make up a veteran ladies’ team. BAC also fielded complete teams in the U17 men, in which Jasper Todd, Oliver James and Callum Olden ran very well to secure a 3rd position of 7 teams, and the U13 boys, the BAC team of Stanley Peters, Archie Kilburn and Will Bradfield brought the team in 8th of 12. Other notable performances came from Erin Wells, 6th of 61 U13 girls, Isobel Cherrett, Esmee Hurst Atkins and Katie Kilburn, 6th, 10th and 14th respectively of 41 U11 girls, and Isaac Jose, William Launder and Charlie Peters, 11th, 13th and 19th respectively of 62 U11 boys. There are no team results for the U11 races, which are organised by BAC separately from the league. Please see below for the full BAC results. The next fixture is on 9th November at Sparsholt College, Winchester.

Raluca Basarman in the Hampshire League Cross Country
Raluca comes round on her first big lap of the Kings Park course
Rich Brawn makes headway in the Hampshire League Cross Country
Rich wasn’t in the best of form but still came in as fifth scorer for the team

Wessex Cross Country League, Canford Heath, 29 September results (BAC): Senior Men: 3. Ed Porter 29.06, 7. Richard Brawn 30.58, 45. Ian Graham 40.20; Senior Women: 1. Lisa Elmore 26.20, 17. Raluca Basarman 29.59, 35. Jayne Wade 36.00; U17M: 1. Jasper Todd 14.03, 7. James Oliver 15.22; U17W: 8. Anya Sandell 19.07, 11. Laura Reeves 21.14, 12. Ruby Bowden 21.23; U15G: 1. Neve East 15.10, 4. Martha Preece 15.48, 18. Abigail Phillips 18.41, 21. Emily Stonier 22.41; U13B: 2. Oscar Ewen Matthews 11.56, 7. Oliver Hill 12.42, 12. Will Bradfield 13.15, 13. Archie Kilburn 13.18, 15. Daniel Couch, 13.27, 22. Samuel Brewer 15.20, 25. Isaac Sandell 15.33; U13G: 4. Erin Wells 13.32, 13. Imogen Gent 14.45, 17. Emily Coltman 14.56; U11B: 4. William Launder 9.11; U11G: 2. Isobel Cherrett 9.50, 3. Esmee Hurst Atkins 9.51, 36. Olivia Urbanek 12.51.

Rich Brawn in action in the Wessex League Cross Country
Rich is on his way toward a 7th place finish in the Wessex League fixture
Raluca Basarman in action at the Wessex League Cross Country
Raluca went on to finish as third scorer for the senior women’s team

Hampshire Cross Country League, Kings Park, 12 October results (BAC): Senior Men: 19. Jacek Cieluszecki 33.11, 38. Henry Bramwell-Reeks 34.26, 67. Alex Goulding 36.03, 75. Steve Ross 36.17, 84. Richard Brawn 37.13, 94. Mat Du Cros 38.02, 132. Simon Hearn 39.49, 172. Jud Kirk 42.41, 188. Ryan Ford 44.15; Senior Women: 16. Holly Collier 23.14, 53. Lisa Elmore 25.05, 98. Raluca Basarman 29.06, 144. Steph Palmer 31.02, 170. Jayne Wade 36.06; U17M: 8. Jasper Todd 20.49, 16. Oliver James 22.09, 18. Callum Olden 22.14; U17W: 23. Anya Sandell 18.26; U15G: 23. Martha Preece 16.33; U13B: 23. Stanley Peters 12.08, 32. Archie Kilburn 12.23, 43. Will Bradfield 12.39, 65. Samuel Brewer 14.19, 66. Nathan Mearns 14.24, 71. Isaac Sandell 15.08; U13G: 6. Erin Wells 12.30, 35. Imogen Gent 13.51; U11B: 11. Isaac Jose 8.13, 13. William Launder 8.17, 19. Charlie Peters 8.27, 35. Jake Selwood 9.00, 49. Leo James 9.39, 50. Connor Bailey-Pearce 9.41, 51. Solly Abu-Ghaba, 54. Liam Sharp; U11G: 6. Isobel Cherrett 8.39, 10. Esmee Hurst Atkins 8.55, 14. Katie Kilburn 9.05, 26. Amy Betts 9.59, 35. Jasmine Mahmoudi 10.40, 37. Jessica King 10.43.

Team BAC at the Wessex League Cross Country
It was a modest start to the cross country season for BAC but there’s still all to play for in the remaining fixtures


Tag and Graeme Miller cover the distance in Cabbage Patch 10

Graeme Miller in the Cabbage Patch 10
On the very the course where he set his 10-mile PB back in 2014, Graeme Miller was taking on the Cabbage Patch 10 for the third year running

The Cabbage Patch 10 is a race that Graeme Miller does virtually every year and he usually does pretty well in it as well. Last year he posted a time of 61:13 and in previous years he’s recorded some very impressive sub-60 times. In fact, his 10-mile PB of 58:07 came at the Cabbage Patch 10 back in 2014.

The Cabbage Patch 10 is notoriously a very fast race and features a very flat profile and ideal surroundings to bring out the best in those that take part. It also attracts a very high quality field including many elites and fast club runners.

This year Graeme went into it off the back of minimal training over the summer after receiving treatment on an ongoing glute and hamstring problem. Having entered the race back in March though when all was well, he wasn’t sure how he would get on this time round.

Also competing in this year’s Cabbage Patch 10 for Bournemouth AC was Rob McTaggart. He was in scintillating form at the Cardiff Half Marathon the weekend before where he recorded an extraordinary new PB of 1:08:56.

Incredibly he also reached the 10k and 10 mile points in his best ever times. During that race he passed 10 miles at 52:17, so he knew if could replicate that in the Cabbage Patch 10 he’d do very well.

After the half marathon though, he needed to have a rest so didn’t do much running in the build up to the race. He did still find the strength to come in as first finisher at Bushy Park parkrun the day before the Cabbage Patch 10 though in a time of 16:35, so it appeared he had maintained his fitness levels.

The course starts in the centre of Twickenham and crosses the Thames at Kingston Bridge and Richmond Bridge before heading along the towpath by the river and finishing up on the drive in front of the York House Civic Building in Twickenham.

The Cabbage 10 was the race in which Richard Nerurkar set an all-time British record for 10 miles of 46:02, back in 1993. It also boasts some well known previous winners including Sir Mo Farrah.

Tag had run the race a few times before in the past and had done very well each time, finishing in 11th place in both 2010 and 2011 and 9th in 2012. His best time was 52:57, which he did in 2011.

The plan for Graeme was to go out at six-minute-mile pace and then hang on for as long as possible in the second half of the race. For the first couple of miles he felt comfortable and was going at a good sub-six pace.

Unfortunately though, that was as good as it got for Graeme. About half way through the third mile he got a stitch which persisted all the way to the end of the race and was rather painful at times.

It was frustrating for Graeme as he rarely gets a stitch and his glute was pain free up until eight miles.  Had it not been for the stitch, he could have had a pretty decent run.

The consequence was an inevitable drop in the pace though and it became a case of damage limitation for Graeme as he desperately tried to hang on.

As it turned out, he just about managed to sneak under the 64 minute marker, crossing the line in a time of 1:03:54. That put him in 60th place overall and 11th in the Male 45-49 category.

It wasn’t Graeme’s finest hour-and-a-bit but in the grand scheme of things it was still a relatively good 10-mile time that most runners would be over the moon with.

Graeme Miller in action in the Cabbage Patch 10
A nasty stitch made it a tougher race than it otherwise would have been for Graeme and slowed him down considerably

A few modifications had been made to the course for the Cabbage Patch 10 from last year and it was certainly different to how Tag remembered it from the last time he was there back in 2012.

There were some sharp corners and and sections of multi-terrain which slowed him down a bit. It was also quite slippery in places due to the recent rainfall and wet leaves everywhere.

That combined with a week of less running and more biscuit eating might just have put pay to Tag’s chances of recording an official 10k PB. Despite all that though, he was flying for the first five miles, going along at roughly 5:15 pace.

After that he dropped off a touch though and his half marathon exertions from the previous weekend may just have caught up with him. He was hoping he might have enough to get ahead of the Vegan Runner who was just in front of him but after losing 15 seconds over last couple of miles he had to settle for 7th place.

Crossing the line in a time of 53:03, it was probably still the third best performance Tag has produced in a 10-mile race. He’d done enough to see off some very high standard runners as well including Jonny Hay of Aldershot, Farnham & District and Paskar Owor who won the race back in 2011 in a time of 48:58.

Rob McTaggart in the Cabbage Patch 10
Tag is at the top of his game at the moment and recorded an excellent 7th placed finish, finishing ahead of some other highly acclaimed athletes

An old adversary of Tag’s, Steph Twell was also competing and she finished as 1st lady and 12th overall in a time of 55:03. Tag ran alongside Steph for much of the Vitality Big Half race earlier in the year, getting some decent TV limelight before accelerating away from her over the last few miles.

The race was won by Steph’s Aldershot, Farnham & District teammate Joe Morwood who whipped round the course in 50 minutes and 18 seconds. Finn McNally of Brighton Phoenix was 2nd in a time of 50:34 with Nicholas Terry of Serpentine taking 3rd in 50:45.

A total of 1,568 runners successful negotiated the 10-mile course with the slowest ones in the field taking over two-and-a-half hours to get round.

The top 30 runners all finished in under one hour though which underlines the number of high caliber of runners that the event can attract.

Emily Hosker-Thornhill of Aldershot, Farnham & District finished in 30th place in a time of 59:54 which made her 2nd lady over the line. Hampshire Cross Country League regulars might recognize Emily from past fixtures where she’s often won convincingly.



Tag tears up Cardiff Half Marathon with triple PB display

Rob McTaggart takes on the Cardiff Half Marathon
Rob McTaggart was going for broke in the notoriously fast and furious Cardiff University Cardiff Half Marathon

The Cardiff Half Marathon is practically engineered to be a platform for fast runners to excel. And, on his day, they don’t come much faster than Rob McTaggart. He’s certainly more than capable of mixing it with some of the best runners in the UK when he’s at his best.

The main problem with Tag is, you can’t always predict when it is going to be his day. When it is though, you certainly know about it. He had high hopes that he could produce something special at the Cardiff Half Marathon and was looking in great shape going into it.

The previous month he nailed his first ever sub-32-minute 10k, on the track at the Ladywell 10,000m. And he actually did it with time to spare as well finishing in 31:29.

Then at the Lytchett Relays he knocked out the second fastest lap of any of runners, getting round the 5k loop in 15:53. It was only Craig Palmer that could better that in a very star-studded field.

The Cardiff Half Marathon event was launched in 2003 when 1,500 runners took part. It has grown significantly since then, now attracting a field of over 27,500 runners alongside some world-class athletes.

It also hosts the Welsh Half Marathon Championships and has even hosted the World and Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships.

As well as being Wales’ largest mass participation and multi-charity fundraising event, it is part of a global series of SuperHalfs, which are considered to be the world’s most prestigious half marathon races. The others are Lisbon, Prague, Copenhagen and Valencia.

The route starts off outside Cardiff Castle and heads in the direction of Penarth, passing the Principality and Cardiff City Stadiums along the way. It then takes the runners through Penarth Marina before heading to Cardiff Bay where the Millenium Stadium is one of the famous landmarks in view.

After that it’s over the northern region of the city, with a loop of Roath Park Lake on the agenda before the grandstand finish at the Civic Centre, right in the heart of the city.

Start of Cardiff Half Marathon
The show gets on the road at the 2019 Cardiff Half Marathon

When the race got underway, Tag blasted off the blocks, getting rather swept up in all the excitement. That resulted in him going far too quickly for the first five miles.

He didn’t blow up though and managed to stay strong, passing the 10k point in an incredible 32:04, which for him would have been a road 10k PB. For the last 8 miles of the race Tag had found himself towing round a Welsh lad and a couple of African ladies.

Rob McTaggart in the Cardiff Half Marathon
Tag dishes out the high fives as he races round on full throttle

Despite that though, he continued to push hard and hit the 10-mile point in 52:17. That would have been another PB for Tag had this been a 10-mile race. But it wasn’t of course. He still had 5k left to go.

It didn’t matter though as Tag was still flying at that stage and he had enough in the tank to see him through to the end. Crossing the line in an astonishing time of 1:08:56, Tag had recorded a barn-storming PB that sent shockwaves through Dorset running circles back home.

Tag passes Roath Park Lake
Tag heads past Roath Park Lake

It was only the second time ever that Tag had gone sub-70 for a half marathon, after managing it in the Vitality Big Half Marathon in March this year. That was a fine performance but this time he’d somehow managed to chalk another minute off that!

That time put Tag in 27th place in the overall standings. That was in a field where the top ten places were all taken by elite African distance runners who were some of the quickest in the world.

Rob McTaggart speeding along in the Cardiff Half Marathon
It was a run that would see Tag eclipse his previous best times for 10k, 10 miles and half marathon

The first four world class African female competitors also finished ahead of Tag, but not by much. Lucy Cheruiyot of Kenya was 1st lady finishing in a time of 1:08:20. She was just in front of Azmera Abreha of Ethiopia who was given the same time. They were placed 21st and 22nd overall.

Top three ladies in the Cardiff Half Marathon
The top three ladies who are amongst the world’s most elite went on to finish just over 30 seconds ahead of Tag

If you take all the African professionals out of the equation, Tag was 13th quickest in the field, and that was a huge achievement when the standard at the front end of the field was so high.

Overall there were 20,257 runners who took part in the race with a diverse range of ages, abilities, shapes and sizes amongst them. There were even several competitors out there in fancy dress and many raising money for various charities and worthy causes.

Rob McTaggart finishing the Cardiff Half Marathon
Tag races down the finishing straight to complete a truly unforgettable run

Kenyan Leonard Langat picked up the win in the end, setting a terrific new course record of 59:30. He had a put in a sprint finish at the end to outdo Shadrack Kimining who was 2nd in 59:32.

The top Brit in the race was Mohamud Aadan of Thames Valley Harriers who got over the line in 1:04:15. He was followed by Peter Le’Grice of Bristol and West in 1:04:21 and Charlie Hulson of Liverpool Harriers in 1:04:28.

Race winner Leonard Langat shadows Shadrack Kimining
Race winner Leonard Langat shadows Shadrack Kimining who finished 2nd

For Tag though, it was a momentous race and one that he’ll no doubt look back on fondly for many years to come. To secure 10k, 10-mile and half marathon PBs all in the space of one race was something rather special, especially when those PBs are as quick as Tag’s are.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the potential to go even faster though. On the right form and in the right surroundings, the sky’s the limit really for Tag.

Rob McTaggart at the Cardiff Half Marathon
Finishing in a time of 1:08:56, it was a result that Tag could be immensely proud of







John Preest and Stephen Ross brave BMF Marathon

John Preest in the BMF Marathon
John Preest and Stephen Ross were amongst over 2,000 runners who lined up for the full Marathon at the 2019 Bournemouth Marathon Festival

The showpiece event of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival weekend itself was of course the Marathon itself. Just as the Half Marathon does, the route starts off from Kings Park and heads over toward Southbourne and down to Hengistbury Head before directing toward Boscombe.

Some sections are on the Overcliff and some along the promenade as the route eventually leads over to Bournemouth Pier where the runners cross the finish line for the first time.

They haven’t finished the marathon yet though when they do that. That’s only 18 miles in and they still have to conquer the BIC Hill and some ups and downs around West Cliff and Alum Chine.

It ends by heading over to Sandbanks before turning back for the last stretch along the promenade to Bournemouth Pier where the runners then reach the finish.

The start of the BMF Marathon
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival Marathon race gets underway from Kings Park

It was a testing route with some difficult hills, as well as a noticeable headwind on certain sections of the seafront. The only official Bournemouth AC representative was John Preest, who completed the full 26.2 miles in a time of 4 hours 13 minutes and 16 seconds.

That was a minute-and-a-half quicker than he ran in the Brighton Marathon in 2018 so all things considered it was a good result for John. His time put him in 797th place overall and he was 112th in the Male Over 45 category.

Also taking part in the BMF Marathon was Stephen Ross, who regularly trains with BAC on the Tuesday night interval sessions. He wasn’t doing it with intention of running as hard as he possibly could though. He was doing it primarily to raise money for charity and just to have run really.

Dressed up in the iconic image of Forest Gump, when he was on his famous run across America in the film, Stephen coasted along looking very strong and controlled throughout the race.

The speed he was going at wasn’t particularly quick by his standards but it was still a tough marathon to complete and still a good achievement from him to finish in a time of 3:35:32. That put him in 247th position overall, not that that really mattered to him much though.

Forest Gump
Stephen Ross took inspiration for his costume from Forest Gump in the famous scene where he runs across America. Run Stephen run!!

Stephen has since officially joined the club and found himself running in the Hampshire League Cross Country fixture at Kings Park, where he did very well to finish as fourth scorer for the team. And that was despite having a full marathon from six days prior in his legs.

Several other Bournemouth AC members were out on the course supporting, popping up in various places from time to time. Chris O’Brien ran the last 6-and-a-half miles of the course with a friend of his from Verwood Runners.

Rich Brawn joined his friend Sophie Routledge, who runs for his former club Dacorum & Tring, for a substantial part of the race. Despite having already covered 7 miles to get to Kings Park twice and run with Raluca for part of her race, Rich was with Sophie for the first 6-and-a-half miles.

He was intending on meeting her just before she hit Boscombe Gardens on mile 12 as well but he arrived too late and missed her, deciding to then rendezvous with her on the promenade instead when she came back down.

One of the famous rhinos often seen participating in marathon events was present, raising money for the Save the Rhino charity

He ended up accompanying her on the latter 12 miles of her run as well which brought his total mileage for the day up to almost 26 miles.

Unfortunately, Sophie was suffering from a knee injury which reduced her to a run/walk approach for the last 10 miles or so. She still ended up finishing in a time of 4:15:37 though which was only 26 seconds off of her PB.

The race was won by Lloyd Biddell who finished in a spectacular time of 2:25:48. Phil Wylie took 2nd place in 2:33:26 with Steven Yates of Poole Runners taking 3rd in 2:41:06.

The first female over the line was Gill Bland who finished in 2:59:36, putting her in 34th place overall. Then it was Jen Granger who completed the course in 3:00:30, giving her in 36th place overall. Juliet Champion took the title of 3rd lady, clocking a time of 3:02:57 which put her 43rd in the overall standings.

Darth Vader was also out there, using the force to get round the energy sapping course

A total of 2,131 participants successfully completed the BMF Marathon, in what seems like it may have sadly been the last year for that particular race. The Bournemouth Marathon Festival event has been rebranded as Run Bournemouth for 2020 and will not be featuring a full marathon.

What really made the Marathon and Half Marathon races special though was the incredible support out on the roads and along the seafront for all the runners taking part. That would have made a huge difference to them, particularly in the marathon where it tends to become a bit of a struggle over the latter stages of the race.

It’s an event that demonstrates what a true sense of community there is throughout Bournemouth and with so many people coming out to cheer the runners on on every section of the course, the atmosphere was electric all the way from start to finish.

BAC stars bang out BMF Half Marathon

Raluca Basarman with Rich Brawn in the BMF Half Marathon
Raluca Basarman was one of six Bournemouth AC members to face the Half Marathon race at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and she was joined by Rich Brawn for the first part of it

The second day of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival saw the Half Marathon and Full Marathon races taking place, with the Half Marathon scheduled for an 8am start.

That of course gave more Bournemouth AC members the chance to take centre stage and see what they could do in a longer and more challenging event.

On the morning of race, the event organizers had a tricky situation to deal with when a dead body was found in Boscombe Gardens shortly before the Half Marathon race was due to get underway.

Boscombe Gardens was on the route for both the Half Marathon and the Full Marathon as well so that could have had disastrous consequences but they somehow managed to get it sorted with only a 15 minute delay before the race began.

The main challenge from a Bournemouth AC perspective was presented by Rob Spencer who has been in scintillating form since taking up residence on the south coast and signing for the club.

Already decorating his profile with wins in the Pubeck 10k, the Littledown 5 and the Hoburne 5, Rob was always going to be in contention for the top placings. Runners come from far and wide to compete at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival though so it was difficult to tell who he would be up against at the sharp end of the field.

Also in action for Bournemouth AC there was a trip back down to the area for Pawel Surowiec, who recently moved away to embark upon a new career opportunity in Sheffield.

Stuart Glenister was another name featuring in the starting line up along with Raluca Basarman, Joy Wright and Katrina White.

The previous weekend Pawel had taken part in the Robin Hood Nottingham Half Marathon so it was his second consecutive weekend of racing the 13.1 mile distance. He was hoping to improve on the time of 1:41:37 that he set in Nottingham.

Going into the race off the back of limited training, Raluca wasn’t expecting to get close to the 1 hour 41 minute time she managed at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival last year. She was thinking that perhaps around 1:45 would be a good target to aim for.

Also competing in the race for the second year running, Katrina White performed superbly last year to secure a time of 1:45:03. She would have been pleased to produce something along those lines again in this year’s race but knew it would be a tough ask.

Start line of the BMF Half Marathon
The runners gather on the start line for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Half Marathon

As the race began, Rob set off at a ferocious pace. He was accompanied by James Hoad and Sean Hogan in a lead group of three. 7 miles into the race the three of them were still together, barely giving each other an inch.

Once they hit the promenade though, it began to get a lot tougher, with a nasty headwind disrupting their pace somewhat. Rob did his best to hang in there and minimize his losses but it was difficult.

In the end it was James Hoad who was the stronger of the three over the latter stages of the race and he completed the course in a stunning time of 1:09:45. It was a very impressive time on that course and in those conditions.

Sean Hogan took 2nd place in 1:10:43, with Rob coming in in a magnificent time of 1:11:06 to secure 3rd place and obtaining a huge new PB in the process.

Rob Spencer in the BMF Half Marathon
Rob Spencer had a magnificent run to take 3rd place and set a new PB in the process

After the 5k race the previous evening, Bayley Massey was back out there in the half marathon, doubling up as he does each year. He finished well to take 4th place in a time of 1:13:38. Peter Baksh completed the top five, posting a time of 1:14:09.

The next Bournemouth AC member to arrive at the finish was Stu Glenister, who completed the race in an excellent time of 1:30:09. That put him in 136th place overall and 15th in the Male Over 45 category.

It didn’t quite match up to Stu’s two previous BMF Half Marathon appearances where he finished in 1:26:46  in 2017 and 1:25:21 in 2016. It was still a decent run out for him though.

Pawel Surowiec at BMF Half Marathon
Pawel Surowiec was back in Bournemouth for the first time since moving up to Sheffield

Although he’s not at his best at the moment and he didn’t get close to the 1:32:04 time that he set last year, Pawel still ran much quicker than he did at Nottingham the previous weekend.

Finishing in a time of 1:36:38, Pawel came in 285th position overall and was 41st in the Over 35 Male category. He enjoyed being back in Bournemouth for the race and was accompanied on the run by his friend and BAC teammate Alex Goulding.

Pawel Surowiec goes through Southbourne
Although he wasn’t close to his best, Pawel enjoyed his cameo down on the south coast

Focusing mostly on 400 meter running over recent times, Joy Wright wasn’t sure how she would fare over a longer distance. She did okay though, competing the course in a time of 1:38:18 which put her in 324th place overall. She was also 28th female over the line and 6th in the Over 40 Female category.

Joy Wright in the BMF Half Marathon
It was a far cry from a 400 metre round the track but Joy Wright tackled the BMF Half Marathon head on

Raluca had company from her BAC teammate Rich Brawn for the first 4-and-a-half miles of the race. As they reached the end of Boscombe Overcliff Road though, Rich peeled off to go and grab a some breakfast and a cup of coffee before he headed off to run round most of the marathon route with a friend from his former club.

For the first half of the race Raluca was going very well, comfortably averaging out at under 8 minutes per mile. She began to find it a little tougher after that though and her pace began to drop.

Raluca Basarman along with Rich Brawn in the BMF Half Marathon
Raluca was very relaxed and controlled in the early stages of the race, especially with Rich beside her for moral support

The last couple of miles were into a headwind and with all the wet sand that was strewn across the promenade it proved difficult for Raluca to keep the pace up.

Despite that though, she continued to push as hard as she could and reached the finish in a time of 1:48:04. Given that she knew she wasn’t the shape she was in the year before when she finished in 1:41, it was still a good effort from Raluca and she was relatively pleased with the outcome. She finished in 836th place overall.

Katrina White goes through Southbourne
It wasn’t the ideal preparation for the race for Katrina but she tempered her pace accordingly

As for Katrina, she was left frustrated after falling ill with a cold just one week before the race. As a result she made the decision to take it a bit easier than she otherwise would have done.

That put pay to her chances of finishing anywhere in the region of 1:45. She crossed the line in 1:53:56, which put her in 1,066th position overall. She was also 190th in the Female category. Given the circumstances, Katrina was reasonably happy with her time.

Katrina White on the promenade in the BMF Half Marathon
It wasn’t as quick as she was originally targeting but it was still a decent run from Katrina all things considered

Christy Murphy who regularly trains with the club on Tuesday and Thursday evenings also took part in the BMF Half Marathon. He went off like a rocket, starting with sub-6-minute first mile.

Although it was a tad faster than he perhaps should have gone, he was still going pretty well for the first 10 miles. Unfortunately though, the wheels camed off a touch over the last few miles and the headwind proved tough to contend with.

In the end he finished in a time of 1:34:20 which put him in 231st place overall. Although it wasn’t perhaps quite the time he’d envisaged when he first set off, on the balance of play it was still a decent effort from Christy.

In total there were 3,768 participants who successfully completed the BMF Half Marathon, proving that the race is still a hugely popular event, attracting athletes from all over the UK.

Raluca Basarman after the BMF Half Marathon
Raluca holds aloft her finisher’s t-shirt after a tough and hard fought half marathon










BAC Juniors and Seniors light up BMF Supernova 5k

Start of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k was held at 7pm which meant each brought about a wonderful array of lights and high viz gear of various sorts

A mixture of effervescent youth and incandescent experience came together for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k as a vibrant showing of high viz, glow sticks and torches lit up the seafront by Bournemouth Pier.

It was of course, the Saturday evening race starting at 7pm, which meant that since darkness had fallen, a head torch was a must, along any other bright, decorative gear the competitors had at their disposal. It really was quite a sight to see the masses lining up at the start.

That included Mitch Griffiths, Tamzin Petersen and Louise Price from the Bournemouth AC Road Runners group, along with several of the club’s junior athletes who are allowed to compete in 5k events. Plus a few other senior club members.

Having recently secured a new 5-mile PB of 28:13 in the Littledown 5 and a new parkrun PB of exactly 17 minutes at Poole, Mitch was hoping for his first ever sub-17-minute 5k.

Earlier in the year, Mitch competed in the Dark Moors 10 as well, which was a 10-mile off-road race at night, so he was already quite ofay with running at night with a head torch. And he finished 2nd that night as well.

Tamzin had also been in fine form this year, posting a new 5-mile PB, a new 10k PB and a new half marathon PB. With that in mind, she felt confident that a new 5k PB was on the cards at the BMF.

The first lights to be seen maneuvering along Bournemouth Pier were the head torches of Bayley Massey and William Stockley. Bayley won the event in 2017 and was 2nd in 2018 so he came with great pedigree.

In the end, it was Bayley who prevailed, managing to stay strong all the way to line to finish in a time of 15:51. William was forced to settle for 2nd on this occasion registering a time of 15:52.

Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k light streak
A spectacular array of lights and colours were on show as the competitors made their way down the promenade

The next man to arrive on the home straight was former BAC man Sean Edwards, who ended up transferring back to his former club Lytchett Manor Striders. He crossed the line in a terrific time of 16:05.

The first Bournemouth AC man to emerge off the pier and onto approach to the finish was indeed Mitch Griffiths. Although he didn’t quite manage to hit the target he was hoping for, Mitch still ran well to finish a time of 17:07 which netted him 7th place. He was followed by his former Westbourne teammate Adam Corbin who got over the line in 17:37.

Bournemouth AC youngster Oscar Ewen Matthews was the next to arrive in the yellow and blue vest. He took an excellent 10th position registering a time of 17:44.

Following in shortly after was another bright BAC prospect in the shape of Adam Petty who took 12th place, crossing the line in a superb time of 17:50.

Skeletons at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k
If anyone had any skeletons in their closet, the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k seemed like the perfect place to reveal them

All set to go for her big 5k PB attempt, everything was in place for Tamzin and she was focused and ready go, only she’d forgotten one thing. Soon after she got going she realized something wasn’t quite right. She looked down to find that her shoelace was undone.

It was a real blow for Tamzin as she knew she couldn’t afford to have any sort of break during the course of the race if she was going to get the time she was looking for. Alas, she was forced to stop and tie it up, this time ensuring it was double-knotted.

She was soon on her way again but had lost some time. With the amount of people in the race as well, there wasn’t too much room to manouvre and she had a problem getting past people who had overtaken her whilst she was attending to her shoelace.

In the end it proved to be a costly mistake as she crossed the line in a time of 22:14 which meant that she had failed in her PB attempt. It was gutting as she knew she was in shape to to do it but sadly, on this occasion, it was not to be.

Finishing in 74th place overall, Tamzin had come in in 10th place in the Female category but that was no consolation as she hadn’t got what what she came for.

Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k lighting streak
It was lights, camera, action as the race got into full swing

Next over the line for BAC was Ollie Thomson, who is in the Under 13 category. He arrived at the finish in 94th place, registering a time of 23:13.

He was followed by Natalie Hayward who is in the Under 15 category. She finished in 23:27 to take 102nd place and 14th in the Female category.

The next Bournemouth AC member to appear on the finishing straight was Mariah Marshall who reached the line in a time of 24:14, putting her 127th overall.

Having not found the time for too much training over recent times, Louise Price wasn’t expecting to rip up any trees. She was there primarily to support Tamzin in her PB attempt.

She also felt it would suffice as a good training run whilst she tries to get some fitness back. Crossing the line in a time of 25:39, Louise finished in 185th place overall and 33rd lady. She was also 2nd in the Female Over 50 category so not a bad result for her.

Girl lit up at Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k
Many of the runners came up with inventive ways to ensure they stood out from the crowd

Next in for the yellow and blue army, it was Emily Stonier, who came in in 203rd position and 44th Female. Emily is in the Under 17 category and posted a time of 26:25.

It was a little wait before the next Bournemouth AC member arrived and that was Alison Davie who finished in 390th place in a time of 29:44. After that it was Fiesta Matthews who crossed the line in 32:45 to take 595th place.

The Supernova 5k featured an incredibly broad spectrum of runners of all different ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. Even Andrew Sheerin, who looks after the Southern Athletics League track and field team for BAC, had a go.

He ran well to make it to the line in a time of 33:35 which put him in 612th place overall. Andrew is normally known for his throwing but he’s famously prepared to give anything a go if it helps the team out.

Andrew still finished ahead of well over 50% of the field, with a total of 1,442 runners successfully completing the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k.

Scene from Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supernova 5k
There was a lively and vibrant atmosphere around Bournemouth Pier to complement the magical spectacle








BAC crew kick off BMF with Supersonic 10k

Simon Hearn in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Simon Hearn was taking part in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Supersonic 10k for the sixth year in a row and was competing alongside five of his Bournemouth AC teammates

An air of anticipation and excitement filled the air around Bournemouth Pier as the 2019 Bournemouth Marathon Festival rolled into town, bringing with it a tremendous buzz as runners from far and wide flocked down to the south coast for a seafront saunter.

As would be expected for such a popular local race, there was a big Bournemouth AC presence over the four main races which consisted of a 10k, a 5k, a Half Marathon and of course, a full Marathon.

Following the trend of previous years, the event began at 4pm on the Saturday afternoon with the Supersonic 10k. Six Bournemouth AC members were in the line up for the grand opener including Rich Brawn, Phil Cherrett and Simon Hearn.

The original plan for Rich Brawn was to be running the marathon as he was keen to address the ghosts of last year where a crippling cramp prevented him from getting the time he wanted.

Unfortunately, over the summer he began to suffer from plantar fasciosis in the heel and it prevented him from getting out on any long runs, thus putting pay to his chances of competing in the marathon.

Instead, Rich had decided to run round some of the marathon route with a friend from his previous club, Dacorum & Tring, who was coming down for the event.

Although he was glad that he would still get to be a part of the event, Rich was frustrated that he couldn’t compete in the showpiece race. As the weekend drew closer and the excitement built up, he began to contemplate running the 10k.

Having not been able to go out and do any proper long runs, he knew he wasn’t at his absolute peak but he thought there was a chance he might still have a decent 10k run in him. Plus knowing it was a fast course, being an out-and-back along the promenade, he gave into the temptation and signed up.

Simon Hearn does the BMF 10k every year, with his fastest time being a 39:41 which he set back in 2015. Simon has been running well this year though and secured a brilliant new 10k of 39:04 at the Royal Berkshire 10k in May. He then followed that up with half marathon PB of 1:27:18 at the Maidenhead Half Marathon in September.

Rich Brawn and Simon Hearn in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Rich Brawn and Simon Hearn get their Supersonic 10k race underway

After missing a substantial part of the year out with an IT band injury, Phil Cherrett is now back on the PB trail, having recently secured a parkrun PB of 19:34 at Bournemouth as well as a 5k best of 19:31 at the Lytchett Relays. And he secured a new 5-mile PB of 33:12 at the Littledown 5.

That spate of superb performances had led Phil to believe that he could have a chance of threatening a sub-40 at the BMF. Unfortunately though, his elevated expectation levels got the better of him and instead of running in a relaxed way, he was constantly watching the clock over the first half of the race.

Phil Cherrett in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Phil Cherrett was aiming for his first ever sub-40 10k

When his prospects of a sub-40 time began to slip, he stopped enjoying the run and the second half of the race became a real struggle.

Still managing to muster up a strong finish at the end though, Phil‘s time of 41:39 was within two seconds of the PB he got in the same race last year. That put Phil in 78th place in the overall standings and 14th in the Over 40 category.

Although it wasn’t what he was looking for, Phil didn’t allow himself to be too disheartened as he knows he’s been progressing and making some great strides of late. And he says he’ll learn from the experience as well and look to put the things he didn’t do so well on this occasion right next time round.

Simon Hearn and Rich Brawn in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Simon and Rich head down the promenade from the start area by Bournemouth Pier

Rich Brawn set off quite quickly and was going okay for the first few miles but he could tell that he isn’t running as well as he was when he was at his best.

Rich Brawn pushes on in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Rich tried out his new BAC blue and yellow Hokas for the occasion

Consequently, as the race went on, he began to tire and his mile times began to drop slightly. He was finding it difficult to maintain the pace running on the wet sand that was strewn across the promenade and the last couple of miles became a real battle.

Rich Brawn in action in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Rich began to struggle of the second half of the race and his lack of endurance was exposed

As he headed round the finishing straight, Rich was disappointed to see the clock tick over 38 minutes, which for him meant that it wasn’t a very good time. In the end, his official time went down as 38:03, which put him in 24th place overall and 8th in the over 35 category.

Rich Brawn giving chase in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Rich gives chase on the way back along the promenade towards Bournemouth Pier

Simon Hearn‘s main aim, as it usually is, was to finish in a sub-40 time. He managed that comfortably this time round, completing the course in a time of 39:13 which put him in 37th place overall and 2nd Over 50.

Young Thomas Farwell also had a good run in his first official 10k race, finishing in a time of 41:08 which put him in 65th place overall.

Thomas Farwell in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Thomas Farwell had a cracking 10k debut coming in in 65th place with a time of 41:08

Having just recently joined the club, Leon Atkins crossed the line a time of 42:15, which put him in 89th place overall and 19th in the Over 35 category.

The only female representative in the 10k race was Lucy du Cros and she ran well to finish in a time of 49:50, which put her in 344th place in the overall standings.

That made her 54th senior female. Lucy’s main aim was to get under 50 minutes so she was pleased to manage that. A total of 2,154 people took part in the Supersonic 10k.

Lucy du Cros in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Lucy du Cros was looking to get under 50 minutes and she did so with 10 seconds to spare



Julian and Adrian set their stall out at Salisbury Half Marathon

Julian Oxborough finishing the Salisbury Half Marathon
Julian Oxborough has completed every edition of the Salisbury Half Marathon thus far and he was looking to continue that record in 2019

On the right day the Salisbury Half Marathon can be a potential PB course since it’s a very flat two lap route and would even be suitable for a first attempt at the distance.

The weather on the day though was wet and wild, with strong gusts of wind and heavy showers playing havoc with the equilibrium of even the most astute of PB hunters.

Julian Oxborough and Adrian Townsend are two of Bournemouth AC’s more seasoned campaigners so neither of them were making a bid for a PB. They were looking for more of a steady run than an all-out slugfest.

The Salisbury Half Marathon event was first held in 2016 so this was only its fourth year in existence. Julian had taken part in all three previous years so he knew exactly what he was in for.

He was treating it as a training run in preparation for the Great South Run though and was hoping it would help getting him race ready for the nation’s biggest 10-mile event.

Julian Oxborough before the Salisbury Half Marathon
Julian may not have been able to put his number on straight but he’s more than capable when it comes to running a half marathon

Currently suffering from the bane of plantar fasciitis, it was only Adrian’s second race of the year after he took on the Purbeck Running Festival 16-mile race two weeks prior.

Starting off by running with the 2:30 pacer, Julian felt extremely strong and light on his feet at first. He kept going at that pace for the first four miles before he decided to drop off and go along at this own pace.

That way, he could make sure he had enough left in the tank to finish strongly. His target was to get under three hours but also to do so by maintaining a comfortable pace throughout.

Adrian Townsend lines up for the Salisbury Half Marathon
Adrian Townsend lines up in the starting pen ready to get the race underway

Looking to go at roughly 7-minute-mile pace, Adrian set off gently for the first couple of miles before cranking it up a notch in the third mile and breaking into a decent tempo.

The hardest part of the race for Julian was finishing the first loop only to find you have to run the whole thing again. This left him feeling a little deflated and required him to dig deep to find the motivation to keep going. Also, since it’s quite a small race, he found himself on his own at times.

Julian Oxborough in the Salisbury Half Marathon
Julian heads along the streets of Salisbury looking to keep his effort controlled and measured

The support that Julian had from onlookers whilst out there did give him a good boost though and helped encourage him to push on to the finish, which was located in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral.

After a few faster miles which took him up to mile 5, Adrian ran at a very consistent pace of just over 7 minutes miles for the remainder of the race and came into the finish in a time of exactly 1 hour 31 minutes.

Adrian Townsend finishing the Salisbury Half Marathon
Adrian gets over the finish line in a time of 1 hour 31 minutes

That put him in 62nd place overall and 5th in the 50-59 category. He felt pretty comfortable most the way so it was definitely a good benchmark for future races provided his heel behaves itself.

Adrian Townsend indulging after the Salisbury Half Marathon
Adrian enjoys a well earned burger and a pint after the race

When Julian went for a sub-three time in the Salisbury Half Marathon last year he ended up finishing in 3:10. It was a different story this time round though as Julian hit the line in 2:58:35, comfortably exceeding his target.

Julian Oxborough with medal after the Salisbury Half Marathon
Julian proudly holds up his medal after a pleasing run which saw him finish comfortably under his target

That put Julian in 841st place overall and 92nd in the 50-59 category. An improvement of over 11 minutes on his time from last year will give him confidence that he can go well when he takes to the streets of Portsmouth for the Great South Run.

Julian Oxborough with his medal from the Salisbury Half Marathon
It was a good training run for Julian and will give him confidence for the forthcoming Great South Run





No chance of hitting the wall for Craig Palmer in Berlin Marathon

Craig Palmer in the Berlin Marathon
Craig Palmer went over to Germany for the Berlin Marathon with every intention of producing a performance that would go down in history as one of the best ever from a BAC athlete

It isn’t very often an athlete of the current generation puts in a performance that stands out when put up against the best in the archives of Bournemouth AC history. That’s mainly because there have been so many high calibre athletes that have pulled on the hallowed yellow and blue vest over the years.

There was always a chance that could happen though when Craig Palmer headed over to Germany for the 2019 BMW Berlin Marathon.

Craig’s running has gone from strength to strength since he moved down to the south coast and with every step he’s taken he’s looked more and more like the real deal.

He was initially a member of Littledown Harriers and it was in 2017 that he started winning numerous local races and emerging as a special talent.

In 2018, Craig joined Bournemouth AC as first claim and he hasn’t looked back since. Representing the club in track events, cross country and road races, Craig’s rise through the rankings has been meteoric.

In December that year he showed a glimpse of the amazing marathon potential he has by completing the Valencia Marathon in 2:29:16. He wasn’t done there though. He wanted more.

In March this year he finished 32nd in the Vitality Big Half Marathon coming in with a staggeringly quick time of 1:09:37. Then he went on to run 2:27:18 in the Manchester Marathon a month later coming in 11th place overall.

Ever since then he’s been quietly focusing his efforts on the Berlin Marathon. He’s gone about his training with an admiral degree of professionalism and hasn’t often allowed himself to deviate from his training plan and get drawn into local races or other temptations.

His time at the Manchester Marathon was good but it left him feeling a tinge of disappointment as he felt he had a better time in him. It was so hard for him to stay motivated on certain sections of the race though whilst heading down empty roads with no other runners near him and no crowd to push him on.

That most certainly would not be the case in Berlin though. Berlin is one of the biggest marathons in the world, boasting even more participants than the London Marathon. It’s also thought to be the fastest as well. It is of course, the course that Eliud Kipchoge set the world record on last year.

If there was ever a marathon that could bring out the best in Craig, it would surely be Berlin. He certainly hadn’t banded his target time about as much as Kipchoge did though. He didn’t want to put any undue pressure on himself. He knew what he was aiming for and it would be down to him to make it happen.

Craig Palmer on the start line of the Berlin Marathon
Craig is in amongst the crowd in his yellow vest and shades, looking calm and collected as the biggest race of his life is about to begin

Craig started off in a pen just behind the elite runners, of which there were some of the very best in the world, including Kenenisa Bekele. Completing his first mile in 5:34, it soon became clear that Craig wasn’t messing around. He meant business.

It would be easy to think running a first mile at that pace that he’d perhaps got dragged along by the crowd a touch, which is easily done. But he hadn’t. That was the pace he was intending to run at for the entire duration of the marathon. In fact, it was slightly slower even.

Going through the first 5k in 17:03, it was a good start from Craig and he was bang on track. That was an average pace of 5:30 m/m. Keeping his pace very consistent, his next 5k was completed in 17:06, which was 5:31 pace.

That was then followed by a 17:04 5k, which was again, 5:30 pace. He then cranked it up a notch for his next 5k, completing that in 16:53, which was 5:27 pace.

Reaching the half marathon point in 1:12:45, it was so far so good for Craig and he was looking on target for an incredible time, if he could sustain it.

Going through the next 5k in exactly 17 minutes, that was 5:29 pace. He then followed that up with a 17:08, which was 5:32 pace. If you thought his performance was slipping at that point, you’d be wrong.

His next 5k was his fastest yet at 16:42, which was an astoundingly quick 5:23 pace. That really began to put him in the picture for something truly memorable.

Even though he was nearing the end of the race, he didn’t seem to be tiring. If anything, he seemed to be growing in strength and building up speed.

Completing his last full 5k in 16:54, which was 5:27 pace, he now had just 1.64 miles remaining. He ran that at 5:30 pace, taking him just over 9 minutes.

A very fast last half a mile saw him arrive at the finish line in an astonishing time of 2:24:52. It had been an absolute distance running masterclass from Craig and he was now a member of the illustrious, sub 2:25 group.

He’d actually ran a negative split as well, clocking his second half marathon at 1:12:07, which made it an even better performance from a running purist’s perspective.

It appeared he’d got everything right. The race strategy, the pace, the tempo… everything was spot on. That didn’t just happen by chance though. It was all down to careful planning and strictly bespoke training that got him into the shape he needed to be in order to perform like that on the big stage.

That magnificent result made Craig the 104th man to cross the line on the day, out of 30,817. It was an incredibly impressive position in such a high standard race where runners travel from all over the world to get involved.

Craig was also 43rd in the M30 category out of 4,107. Out of all the UK athletes in field, of which were nearly 3,000, Craig was 7th fastest, which underlines how well he did.

That moves Craig up to 13th on the all-time best list for Bournemouth AC marathon times, just ahead of a certain Dave Parsons who ran the London Marathon in 2:25:06 back in 1989.

It really was a truly phenomenal achievement from Craig and one he should look back on with immense pride. Knowing him though, he’s probably already thinking about what his next target will be and how he’s going to improve on that.

You can have all the ability in the world in running but if you don’t have the drive to want to succeed and want to better yourself, you won’t make the most of it. Craig does have that drive though. He has that inner desire to be the best and that’s what will no about spur him on to even greater things in years to come.

Craig Palmer in the Berlin Marathon
Craig’s time of 2:24:52 was the fastest marathon by a Bournemouth AC member since Steve Way’s 2:20:50 London Marathon in 2016







Toby Chapman conquers Cotswold Way Century

Toby Chapman takes on the Cotswold Way Century
Nine weeks on from a hellish experience at the Lavaredo, Toby Chapman laced up for his first ever 100-mile race in the form of the Cotswold Way Century

Ultra distance running is a journey of discovery. The more you do it, the more you learn about yourself. What you can do, what you can’t do and what you need to do to help you be able to do the things you can’t do. It about finding out what works for you personally.

A few months ago Toby Chapman was sat on the high street in Cortina d’Ampezzo feeling awful, demoralised and very sick. At that point, he vowed never to do a long race again.

Two weeks later he entered his first ever 100-mile race and seven weeks after that he was on the start line of the Cotswold Way Century.

His experience at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail had been a difficult one. The race entailed heading off at 11pm for a 120km trek across the Dolomites mountains incorporating 5,800m of ascent.

Toby Chapman on the start line of Cotswold Way Century
What was going through Toby’s mind here as he stood at the start line about to set off on a 102 mile journey?

His training had gone well and he was in great shape, but the race did not go as planned. About 45km into the race he started to feel sick and from that point on it became a real struggle.

Incredibly, Toby somehow managed to soldier on and finish the race, despite feeling sick for 12-and-a-half hours of the 18-and-a-half hours he was running for.

It was still an epic achievement to complete the race but it was tinged with disappointment for Toby as he knew he could have done so much better. He came to the conclusion that it was all down to fuelling and not taking in any solid foods earlier on in the run.

Rather than let that disappointment get the better of him though, Toby vowed to take those learnings and use them to improve his performance in his next ultra race and that’s exactly what he was looking to do at the Cotswold Way Century.

Toby Chapman before Cotswold Way Century
Toby was looking to take what he learnt at the Lavaredo and utilise it in a positive way at the Cotswold Way Century

The route for the Coltswold Way Century starts in Chipping Campden and heads along the Cotswold Way, all the way to Bath Abbey.

One thing to note about the Cotswold Way though is, it’s extremely hilly, so Toby and his contemporaries had to be prepared for a bumpy ride. It was a mixed terrain course with a few road sections, lots of stony tracks, plenty of grassy trails and a number of ploughed fields.

At least time the race started off at a more sensible hour with the proceedings getting underway as the clock struck 12 midday. At the first checkpoint, 27 miles into the race, there was a lead group of five runners of which Toby was a part of.

They all arrived between 4 hours 38 and 4 hours 39 minutes, which was an average pace of 10:06 minutes per mile. A few others filtered in around 10 minutes later. They’d already hit over 4,000ft of elevation.

It appeared at this stage that everyone had approached it in a sensible way, rather than tearing off to quickly and tiring themselves out after the first marathon. If you really want to go the distance in a 100 mile race, you have to respect the distance, first and foremost.

Toby Chapman is all smiles in the early stages
Toby is all smiles as he sets off on an epic adventure that was set to be his longest run ever

The next checkpoint was Birdlip, 39 miles in. Toby arrived with two other runners in a time of 6 hours 51 minutes. They all arrived 11 minutes after Tommasso Migliuolo who was in the lead. Then there was a group of other runners about 10 to 20 minutes after Toby.

This time he was managing to consume some solid foods, including spaghetti hoops, Rice Crispy Squares and some GU chews, as well as some chews. He knew getting the right level of fuel into his body was crucial.

On they went, heading for the next checkpoint at Painswick, which was 48 miles in. Toby was still with the same two runners, Scott Smith and Zen Sherley-Dale. They came in at 8 hours 37 minutes and were sitting 9 minutes behind the leader, which was still Tommasso.

Over the past 20 or so miles Toby had added another 2,500ft of elevation and had been running at an average pace of 11:07 minutes per mile. They were now almost half way into the race.

The next checkpoint was at Coaley, 58.5 miles in, where Toby arrived at in 23 hours 20 minutes. Zen Sherley-Dale came in just after but Scott Smith had abandoned the race by this point. Tommasso had now stretched his lead to 19 minutes over Toby.

From there it was onto Wotton, 71 miles in. Toby came in at 14 hours and 5 minutes, still accompanied by Zen. They were still 20 minutes behind Tommasso. Toby and Zen had a 30 minute gap over the next runner to come in.

The past 23-and-a-half miles had seen Toby work his way up another 3,750ft of elevation and he managed to get through that at an average pace of 12:58 minutes per mile.

It was so far so good for Toby but there was no time for resting on his laurels. He needed to crack on and progress further. Next up, it was the 80 mile point at Horton, where Toby and Zen arrived at in 16 hours 29 minutes.

Tommasso had managed to increase his advantage at the front of the race to 29 minutes now and it was beginning to look like he would emerge the victor.

The fourth man in the standings, Greg Nieuwenhuys, had actually made some ground up on Toby and Zen over this sector and was now only 11 minutes behind them.

They were tiring significantly by this point but they soldiered on. Toby had continued to ensure he kept eating at each checkpoint and that seemed to serve him well and keep his energy levels in tact.

Over this next part of the race there were some occasions where Toby took a wrong turn. That was particularly frustrating because in a 100-mile race, the last thing you want to be doing is adding extra distance!

At one point he almost sat down and had a tantrum after running almost a mile back in the direction he came from after missing a turning. But he managed to keep his head and get back on the right track and, in actual fact, he found he was going surprisingly well despite already having 80 miles in the legs.

At the 87 mile checkpoint of Tormarton, Toby clocked in at 18 hours 10 minutes. After the various wrong turns he’d lost some ground to Zen and was now 16 minutes behind him.

Furthermore, his third place position was coming under threat from Greg Nieuwenhuys who was now only three minutes back. Tommasso was still out in front with a 22 minute advantage over Zen.

The following checkpoint was Cold Ashton, which was 92 miles in. Toby arrived there in 19 hours and 7 minutes. Crucially he’d managed to increase the gap between himself and Greg Nieuwenhuys to 7 minutes.

Zen was still 15 minutes ahead though and was looking good for 2nd place. Tommasso’s advantage had now been but to 12 minutes but it still looked like he’d have enough to see out the win.

The final checkpoint was at Weston, 99.5 miles in. The route was actually 102 miles in total so there was still a little way to go after that. At this stage though, Toby knew he was within touching distance of the finish and that must have been a great feeling.

Toby Chapman nears the end of the Cotswold Way Century
As he neared the end of his lengthy journey, the realisation of what he’d accomplished began to set in for Toby

He’d been running for 20 hours and 32 minutes and was in 3rd place on the leaderboard, 22 minutes behind Zen who was 2nd. Tommasso held a 14 minute advantage over Zen at the front of the race. Toby had now extended his lead over Greg in 4th to 16 minutes so it appeared that his top three finish had now been all but sealed.

Over the last 23-and-a-half miles, Toby had amassed another 2,500ft of elevation and had done it at an average of 10:51 minutes per mile.

There was a feeling of true elation as Toby arrived into the finish to take a well-deserved 3rd place finish. Crossing the line in a time of 20 hours 59 minutes and 50 seconds, he had done it! He’d successfully completed the full 102 mile distance and that in itself was a huge accomplishment. To get a top three finish was just the icing on the cake for Toby.

Tommasso Migliuolo held firm for the victory, finishing in 20 hours 25 minutes and 8 seconds. Zen took 2nd place, 9 minutes and 20 seconds behind Tommasso. Toby’s gap over Greg Nieuwenhuys finished up at 17 minutes as Greg took 4th place in a time of 21:16:53.

The top three at the Cotswold Way Century
The top three in the race stand proudly with their trophies after a very hard fought battle

It had been an event he would never forget for Toby. The feeling of having completed a 100 mile race was one of great pride and satisfaction. Especially when you consider he had to overcome 12,100ft of ascent over the course of the run.

Above all though, he’d enjoyed the race. It had provided him with the opportunity to make new friends and work as a team in what is often perceived to be an individual sport. He met several inspiration people along the way and he’d managed to conquer his demons in regard to taking food on board and fuelling correctly.

It was exactly what ultra running should be. A massive personal challenge where you learn a lot about yourself. And Toby learnt that he had the character to suffer a disappointment, come back fighting and channel that disappointment in a way that would make him stronger. He also discovered that he had the courage, the belief, the will and the heart to see out an epic 102 mile adventure.

Zen Sherley-Dale and Toby Chapman after the Cotswold Way Century
One highlight of the race was making new friends and meeting inspirational people and Toby ran the vast majority of it with Zen Sherley-Dale, pictured here on the left with Toby