All posts by Richard Brawn

County XC Champs, Inter Counties and Wessex and Hants XC League roundup

Dorset senior women's team for the South West Inter Counties
The Dorset senior women’s team line up for their race in the South West Inter Counties match at Aldon Hill, Yeovil

The Dorset County Cross Country Championships were combined with the Wessex Cross Country League fixture at Canford School on Sunday 15 December 2019, and it is pleasing to report that BAC athletes won no fewer than 4 gold medals and 3 silver medals. Many congratulations to BAC‘s Dorset County Champions Harriet Slade (Senior Women), Jasper Todd (U17 Men), Neve East (U15 Girls) and Oscar Ewen Matthews (U11 Boys). Congratulations also to BAC‘s silver medallists – Richard Brawn (Veteran Men) and Erin Wells (U13 Girls).

Harriet Slade and Holly Collier at the Wessex League XC at Canford School
Harriet Slade finished as Dorset County Champion and Holly Collier won the Wessex Cross Country League fixture at Canford School

On 5 January 2020, at Yeovil, the South West Regional Inter Counties competition took place and BAC athletes formed part of Dorset teams, one winning and earning its members a gold medal, and two finishing third and earning bronze medals. Teams consisted of 4 athletes and Dorset was competing against Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Dorset senior women's team at the South West Inter Counties
Ladies from various clubs around Dorset came together to provide a great display of unity at the South West Inter Counties Cross Country
Rich Brawn representing Dorset at the South West XC Champs
After competing in the same event last year, Rich Brawn was proud to be back in back in Dorset green
Heidi Treganza in the South West Cross Country Champs
Former Bournemouth AC member Heidi Treganza won the South West Championship for the second year running
Kirsty Drewett in the South West Cross Country Champs
Kirsty Drewett was part of the Dorset squad in the women’s race at the South West Inter Counties

In the U15 Boys race, Louie Todd was part of the winning Dorset team, whilst Erin Wells was part of the third placed U13 Girls Dorset team and Neve East and Martha Preece together formed half of the third placed U15 Girls Dorset team. Many congratulations to BAC‘s Inter Counties Dorset medallists!

Louie Todd in the South West XC Champs
Louie Todd
Erin Wells in the South West XC Champs
Erin Wells
Neve East in the South West XC Champs
Neve East
Martha Preece in the South West XC Champs
Martha Preece

As already mentioned, the fixture on 15 December 2019 was, as well as the County Championships, the third fixture of the Wessex Cross Country League. More than 30 BAC athletes (including 10 U13 Boys) competed, and there were some excellent performances. Particularly noteworthy runs came from William Launder (4th U11 Boy) Esmee Hurst Atkins, Katie Kilburn and Isabel Cherrett (1st, 2nd and 5th U11 Girls respectively) Oscar Ewen Matthews (2nd U13 Boy) Richard Brawn and Brandon Meredith (9th and 11th Senior Men respectively) Erin Wells (2nd U13 Girl) Neve East and Martha Preece (2nd and 4th U15 Girls respectively) and Jasper Todd and Oliver James (2nd and 9th U17 Men) with Tom Farwell completing the U17 Men’s BAC team not far behind Oliver.

For the second consecutive time in the Wessex League, Holly Collier won the Senior Women’s race. She hadn’t entered the County Championships though so the honor of becoming Dorset County Champion went to her BAC teammate Harriet Slade who finished 2nd in the race.

Isabel Cherrett and Esmee Hurst Atkins at the South West XC Champs
Isabel Cherrett and Esmee Hurst Atkins

At the conclusion of this fixture, the third in the Wessex Cross Country League season, BAC athletes occupied some of the top aggregate positions for the season – William Launder 3rd U11 Boy, Esmee Hurst Atkins 1st U11 Girl, Isabel Cherrett 2nd U11 Girl, Oscar Ewen Matthews 2nd U13 Boy BAC‘s U13 Boys’ team was 2nd on the day), Richard Brawn 1st Senior Man, Erin Wells 2nd U13 Girl (BAC’s U13 Girls’ team was 3rd on the day), Neve East 1st U15 Girl and Martha Preece 3rd U15 Girl.

Rich Brawn at the South West XC Champs
Rich Brawn finished as 1st Senior Male for the season in the Wessex Cross Country League

Results (BAC) Wessex Cross Country League, Canford School, 15 December 2019: U11B: 4. William Launder 5.06; U11G: 1. Esmee Hurst Atkins 5.23, 2. Katie Kilburn 5.26, 5. Isabel Cherrett; U13B: 2. Oscar Ewen Matthews 12.04, 10. Stanley Peters 12.51, 13. Archie Kilburn 13.00, 18. Daniel Couch 13.46, 21. Harry Green 14.50, 22. Ewan Brown 14.56, 23. Sam Brewer 15.02, 27. Isaac Sandell 16.30, 30. Nathan Mearns 17.30, 33. James Ross 20.25; U17W: 10. Anya Sandell 21.09, 12. Ruby Bowden 21.48, 14. Laura Reeves 22.01; S/VM: 9. Richard Brawn 30.23, 11. Brandon Meredith 30.30, 32. Simon Hearn 34.22, 43. Simon Hunt 36.42, 52. Ian Graham 41.37; U13G: 2. Erin Wells 13.24, 18. Imogen Gent 14.55, 20. Emily Coltman 14.58, 22. Mariah Marshall 15.13; U15B: 13. Massinoa Lawson 16.33, 15. Sam Farwell 17.42; U15G: 1. Neve East 16.02, 4. Martha Preece 16.41; U17M: 2. Jasper Todd 15.41, 9. Oliver James 16.45, 16. Tom Farwell 18.00; S/VW: 1. Holly Collier 20.28, 2. Harriet Slade 21.07, 8. Nikki Sandell 24.18, 15. Kirsty Drewett 26.47, 30. Jayne Wade 31.00

Nikki, Harriet and Holly at the Wessex League XC at Canford School
Nikki Sandell (left), Harriet Slade (middle) and Holly Collier (right) at the Wessex Cross Country League fixture at Canford School

The Inter-Counties fixture at Yeovil on 5 January 2020 was also the final fixture of the Wessex Cross Country League. However, as yet, no specific league results have been posted so at the moment it is difficult to determine individual and team places. However there were some excellent runs at Yeovil and it is likely that, for instance, Richard Brawn, Erin Wells, Oscar Ewen Matthews, Neve East, Martha Preece and Oliver James will feature amongst the top athletes. Jasper Todd was going well at Yeovil but unfortunately had to withdraw during the race. Jasper, one of BAC‘s most promising youngsters, went on to win his age category race at the Dorset Schools’ AA Cross Country Championships at Kings Park on Thursday 16 January, so it would appear he has made a speedy recovery!

Daniel Couch and Oscar Ewan Mathews at the South West XC Champs
Daniel Couch and Oscar Ewan Mathews
Oliver James in the South West XC Champs
Oliver James
Rich Brawn running in the South West XC Champs
Rich Brawn

As well as the high scoring BAC teams referred to above BAC‘s senior mens’ team was 2nd aggregate for the season after the 15 December 2019 fixture. However, BAC‘s top scoring man was wearing neither a club nor a county vest and may therefore not count for the team which will dramatically impact the club’s placing at Yeovil. The athlete in question also did not count as part of the Dorset team which meant the Dorset Senior Mens’ team was 5th in the Inter-Counties instead of 4th. There will be a further report, should the final detailed Wessex Cross Country League results be published.

Results (BAC) Wessex Cross Country League, Yeovil, 5 January 2020 (Positions are overall including athletes from all the competing counties): S/VM: 21. Rob McTaggart 29.18, 93. Richard Brawn 33.46, 148. Ian Graham 44.00, 151. Alan Lewis 44.45; S/VW: 71. Kirsty Drewett 29.37, 78. Jayne Wade 33.48, 84. Annette Lewis 44.45; U13G: 9. Erin Wells 13.09, 36. Emily Coltman 14.35; U13B: 15. Oscar Ewen Matthews 12.21, 49. Daniel Couch 13.39; U15G: 8. Neve East 15.12, 29. Martha Preece 16.54; U15B: Louie Todd 21.13; U17W: 36. Lauren East 22.17; U17M: 28. Oliver James 21.14 (Oliver was 1st Dorset athlete); U11G: 8. Esmee Hurst Atkins, 15. Isabel Cherrett.

Jayne Wade and Kirsty Drewett at the South West XC Champs
Jayne Wade and Kirsty Drewett
Emily Coltman in the South West XC Champs
Emily Coltman
Lauren East in the South West XC Champs
Lauren East
Annette Lewis in the South West Cross Country Champs
Annette Lewis
Jayne Wade in the South West Cross Country Champs
Jayne Wade
Kirsty Drewett climbs the hill in the South West Inter Counties Cross Country
Kirsty Drewett

The penultimate fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League took place at Prospect Park, Reading on Saturday 11 January. There were BAC teams in the Senior and Veteran Mens’, Senior and Veteran Womens’ and U13 Boys’ races, and individual BAC athletes in the U17 Mens’, U17 Womens’ and U15 and U13 Girls’ races. The Senior Mens’ team of Jacek Cieluszecki, Rob McTaggart, Alex Goulding, Stuart Nicholas and Richard Brawn (with Steve Ross providing the vital backup should anything go wrong) were 7th team of 10 on the day, and are also 7th aggregate for the season.

A strong team performance at the final fixture at Popham on 8 February should secure BAC‘s position in Division 1. At this stage of the season Jacek is the leading Veteran Man of the league. One feature of the race at Reading was that, for the first time, Poole AC‘s Senior Mens’ team finished above BAC‘s (they were 5th) and as they lie in 8th aggregate position there is a risk that Poole AC could finish above BAC at the end of the season. Jacek and Alex were joined by Jud Kirk to form BAC‘s Veteran Mens’ team, doing well to finish 7th of 20 teams and are a highly creditable 5th aggregate for the season so far.

Nikki Sandell, Julia Austin and Kirsty Drewett made up BAC‘s Senior and Veteran Ladies’ teams, with Jayne Wade and Annette Lewis (for the Seniors) the essential reserves. As Seniors, the team was 11th of 16 teams on the day and is 10th = aggregate for the season, and, as Veterans, the team was 4th of 10 teams on the day.

Nikki Sandell in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Nikki Sandell
Julia Austin in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Julia Austin
Kirsty Drewett in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Kirsty Drewett

Amongst the younger age categories, there were particularly noteworthy runs from Oliver James, Oscar Ewen Matthews, Neve East and Erin Wells. Oscar, who led an U13 Boys’ team consisting of himself, Sam Brewer and Isaac Sandell, is 5th U13 Boy of the league, and his team were 7th of 9 on the day, 9th of 11 aggregate. Erin is 6th U15 Girl of the league. Lauren East and Anya Sandell made up 2/3 of an U17 Women’s team, and Martha Preece supported Neve to make up 2/3 of an U15 Girls’ team. Hopefully at the next and final fixture these two teams can be complete.

Results (BAC) Hampshire Cross Country League, Reading, 11 January 2020: S/VM: 20. Jacek Cieluszecki 34.19, 35. Rob McTaggart 35.43, 64. Alex Goulding 37.35, 80. Stuart Nicholas 38.49, 88. Richard Brawn 39.20 91. Steve Ross 39.33, 164. Jud Kirk 45.52, 197. Ian Graham 53.22; S/VW: 48. Nikki Sandell 24.43, 69. Julia Austin 25.45, 89. Kirsty Drewett 27.54, 111. Jayne Wade 31.35, 125. Annette Lewis 34.24; U17M: 8. Oliver James 18.58; U13B: 4. Oscar Ewen Matthews 11.08, 45. Sam Brewer 13.51, 52. Isaac Sandell 15.11; U17W: 17. Lauren East 18.36, 18. Anya Sandell 19.29; U15G: 6. Neve East 13.00, 20. Martha Preece 14.07; U13G: 4. Erin Wells 12.03.

Ian Graham in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Ian Graham
Jayne Wade in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Jayne Wade
Annette Lewis in the Hants League XC at Prospect Park
Annette Lewis


Chris Phelan-Heath finds the route to success at Maverick New Forest

Chris Phelan-Heath took on the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest
Chris Phelan-Heath was looking for a rerun of his epic victory from last year in the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest ‘Short’ race

After picking up the victory in last year’s Maverick New ForestShort‘ race, Chris Phelan-Heath was back again to defend his title in the 2020 edition.

He completed the 6km trail route in 23:47 last time round which saw him comfortably fend off the challenge of Sam Davis who was second in 25:21.

But could he repeat the same heroics in this year’s race? That was the burning question. The Maverick races are always named after and sponsored by a specific make of product, often a trail shoe of some sort. This year’s event was called the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest.

As usual there were three different routes to choose from. The ‘Short’ distance, which, as with the previous year, was 6km. The ‘Medium’ distance was 17km and the ‘Long’ race consisted of a 24km route.

There was only ever going to be one option for Chris though. He’s not keen on running long distance and specializes in the shorter, sharper stuff.

The route for all three races started off in the Holmsley inclosure, with the ‘Short’ route remaining within the boundaries of the inclosure for the duration. The ‘Medium’ and ‘Long’ routes head onto the Brownhill and Wilverly inclosures.

There were some short, steep slopes to contend with on the routes and the trails have a tendency to be quite wet and muddy at this time of year so it wasn’t going to be all smooth sailing for Chris and his rivals.

Sam Davis was back again and looked likely to provide the main threat for Chris in his title defence. There were other runners there who could also be capable of challenging on the day though so Chris knew he’d have to put in a performance if he wanted to repeat his 2019 success.

Chris was coming off the back of a very strong win in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset, where he finished comfortably ahead of his Bournemouth AC teammate Stu Glenister. The Maverick New Forest was destined to be a much tighter affair though.

Chris Phelan-Heath starts the start of the Maverick New Forest
Chris bursts out of the blocks as the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest races get underway

Due to all the recent rain, conditions in the Holmsley inclosure were extremely wet. That meant some sections of the course were super muddy and there were also some flooded patches to content with which made things interesting.

As it panned out, Chris and Sam were to run the entire race together, jostling for position at the front of the race. Sam has a lot of pedigree, with a 1:21 half marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival to his name and a 2:58 time at the London Marathon last Spring.

Chris Phelan-Heath in the Maverick New Forest
Chris makes his way across the plains of the Holmsley inclosure, leaving most the other runners trailing in his wake

It was a real grudge match between the two of them and the lead changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the race. Crucially, Chris managed to pull away from Sam very slightly in the final mile and that proved to be enough.

Chris Phelan-Heath with Sam Davis Maverick New Forest
Chris (right) and Sam Davis (left) went toe-to-toe all the way in a ferocious battle for supremacy

It was another superb victory for Chris and this time round it was certainly a hard fought win. Crossing the line in a time of 25:01, Chris had a winning margin of four seconds in the end over Sam, who took second in 25:05. Sam Pociecha wasn’t too far behind either, arriving at the finish in 25:10 to seal third place.

Chris Phelan-Heath finishes the Maverick New Forest
Chris tastes the sweet flavour of victory as he crosses the line and Sam just arriving on the home straight in the background

With an average pace of 6:14 for the run, it was a very strong performance from Chris, especially when you consider how tricky the conditions were that day. He will be hoping his victory will be a springboard to another very successful year for him in 2020.

Chris Phelan-Heath with prizes from the Maverick New Forest
It was a lucrative day for Chris as he picked up his prizes after a very hard fought triumph

Déjà vu for Mitch Griffiths in Dark Moors 10 Mile race

Mitch Griffiths lines up for the start of the Dark Moors 10 Mile race
Mitch Griffiths lines up on the start line ahead of the Dark Moors 10-Mile race held in Moors Valley Country Club

This time last year Mitch Griffiths was made his Bournemouth AC debut by taking the runner up spot to Paul Russhard of Lymington Tri Club in the Dark Moors 10-Mile race. He was back again in 2020, hoping to go one better and pick up the victory this time round.

Paul Russhard was back again to defend his title though and in last year’s event, he finished over three minutes ahead so there was a fair deficit for Mitch to make up if he was to have any chance of overturning that result.

Of course, a lot can happen in a year though so there were no guarantees either of them would be able to display to same form they showed in the 2019 encounter.

Mitch’s first year for BAC had it’s ups and downs. He picked up an achilles tendon injury in March that kept him out for a good few months. When he returned to action again in June, it took him a while to gain his fitness back and find the same level that he was on before.

Gradually he managed to pick his times back up though until he was in top form again around September time. After that he ran Poole parkrun in 17 minutes flat and posted a new 5-mile PB of 28:13 at the Littledown 5.

He then proceeded to secure a new 10-mile PB of 58:36 and the Great South Run which he then proceeded to beat in the Wimborne 10, clocking a mightily impressive time of 58:21.

He’d certainly proved he was very accomplished at the 10-mile distance but could he carry that form into a night race, that was a the question?

The Dark Moors event is hosted by White Star Running and is held at Moors Valley Country Park, meaning it’s trails and woods all the way for the participants of both the 5-mile and 10-mile races.

Start of the Dark Moors 10 Mile race
The runners gather at the start in the dead of night, ready to take on the two-lap, 10-mile route through the woods

Setting off at 6:15 minutes per mile pace for the first mile, even though it was mostly uphill, Mitch settled into a decent rhythm and went along at a similar pace for the next four miles.

The sixth mile was all uphill, so that was slightly slower but he picked the pace up again over the next two miles leaving him with just two miles left. He managed those at around 6:20 pace, giving him a finishing time of 1 hour 3 minutes exactly.

Considering it’s a trail race, at night, in the pitch black, that’s actually a very good time from Mitch. It eclipsed his time from last year by 22 seconds. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat Paul Russhard who was once again, the runaway winner.

This time he got round in 1:00:44, which was 43 seconds slower than what he did last year. But it was still a fantastic time that was way too quick for anyone else to content with, even Mitch.

The gap between the pair had closed though to less than three minutes this time round so that was something additional to take out of it from Mitch’s perspective. Adam Cox of Mendip Triathlon and Running Club took third place, coming in in a still very good time of 1:03:49.

Kari Mack of Bognor Regis Tone Zone Runners was first female, crossing the line in 12th place overall with a time of 1:09:29. That was enough to see off the challenge of Valeria Sesto of New Forest Runners who came in in 1:11:11 to take 14th place.

Then it was the Lymington Tri Club pair of Kelly Conrad and last year’s female winner Gemma Russhard who finished in 16th and 17th places in times of 1:11:48 and 1:12:06 respectively. A total of 364 runners successfully completed the course.

Mitch’s pace averaged out at 6:17 for his run and, although he’d been comprehensively beaten by Paul Russhard again, he still had fun out there and was pleased with the improvement over his time from last year.

At the end of the race he was presented with a rather nice hip flask as well for sealing the runner up spot which was a good bonus. If Mitch can steer clear of injury in 2020, he could well be in for a cracking year and no doubt has many more PB’s ahead of him over the coming months.

The Dark Moors 10 Mile race gets underway
Paul Russhard of Lymington Tri Club leads the way as the set off with Mitch following just behind him


New Year’s Day Delight for BAC at Broadstone

BAC Team for the Broadstone Quarter
Numerous members of the Bournemouth AC team gave up their New Year celebrations in favour of running the first league race of the season, the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon

As is the tradition with the Dorset Road Race League, the new season kicked off on New Year’s Day with the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon, organised by Dorset’s most sociable runner, Sarah Swift, and her Poole Runners posse.

For Bournemouth AC, the race marked the beginning of their defence of the First Division Men’s League title they won in 2019. And for the ladies team, it marked the renaissance of a new era, with some exciting new names on the club roster along with the return of some more established names recovering from injury woes.

Once again, the duty falls to team captain Rich Nelson to try to piece together a competitive squad for each of the 12 designated fixtures for the 2020 season.

At one stage it looked as if it might be a struggle for the Broadstone Quarter but then several members of the Bournemouth AC old guard came through and threw their hats into the ring. That included Steve Way, Ant Clark and Jacek Cieluszecki.

Jacek Cieluszecki starts the Broadstone Quarter
Jacek Cieluszecki had won the Broadstone Quarter in both of the last two years

There was even an appearance from a certain Mr Graeme Miller, who hasn’t competed in a league race for a number of years now.

Graeme has been plagued by a long running glute issue which confined him to a treadmill for all of the early part of year in 2019. Then he had an operation on his hand over the summer and didn’t really get back training on the road until right at end of the year.

Graeme Miller and Jacek Cieluszecki at the Broadstone Quarter
Graeme Miller (left BAC vest) and JC (right BAC vest) get the show on the road

Even though he didn’t want to race it, Craig Palmer also came forward to say he’d step in if required to help the team out. Even if he’s running at tempo pace or as another training session of some sort, he’s usually quick enough to finish fairly high up anyway and is always prepared to do what’s needed to ensure the team come away with a victory.

Craig Palmer starting the Broadstone Quarter
Craig Palmer was running it as an interval training session

Alex Goulding and Matt du Cros were also in attendance as well, helping to form what, in the end, turned out to be a very strong men’s squad.

Matt du Cros starts the Quarter
Just missing out on the fidelity award for last season, Matt duj Cros was back in league action

For the ladies, Emma Caplan was back in action after a lengthy injury lay-off over the latter part of 2019. She’s been having trouble with her knee and, following an MRI scan, found out she’s got patella tendinopathy. It seems to be a bit of lottery in the sense that some times it is fine and other times it flares up, so she has to manage it carefully.

The team was also boosted by the edition of Helen O’Neile, who joined towards the end of 2019. She has great pedigree and finished as 3rd lady in her BAC debut at the Wimborne 10 in November just days after signing up.

Also, making her long awaited Bournemouth AC debut was Heather Khoshnevis. Heather raced for Littledown Harriers last season and was often contending for the top prize in her age group. She also runs a training group on Tuesdays and Thursdays which several of the Bournemouth AC members attend.

Jud Kirk starts the Broadstone Quarter
It was Jud Kirk’s fifth consecutive year of racing the Broadstone Quarter

As ever with the league races, the competition was strong. Chris Alborough of Poole AC was a serious contender the way he’s been running of late. His teammate Rob Doubleday was also there, along with Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat RC.

Paul Bullimore from Egdon Heath Harriers was in action as well and the newly formed Twemlow Track Club entered their first season in the league with a host of names that could be potential challengers including Richard Swindlehurst, David Jones and Gareth Alan-Williams.

Dave Parsons starts the Broadstone Quarter
Dave Parsons was back out there again for the new season proving the age is but a number

In the ladies race, last year’s Dorset Road Race League champion Alex Door got back on the horse and began her title defence. Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners would also be a contender, as would Diana Leggott, who runs for Lonely Goat RC.

The Broadstone Quarter route starts and finishes on the Broadway in Broadstone and consists of two laps round a notoriously triangular circuit, with the first lap containing an extra section to make up the distance.

With it being a two-lap course, that of consequently means that the competitors have to tackle the infamous Gravel Hill twice!! A great way to ease them into the new year.

Start of the Broadstone Quarter
The race gets underway and the talented field begin their quarter marathon journey

Running it as part of a longer training run, JC wasn’t looking to go hell for leather. He wanted it to be a strong and solid run and after running to the start from where he lives, he opted not to start too aggressively.

Completing the first lap in 21:38, JC was, at that moment in time, in 5th position. He was feeling pretty good though so decided to up the pace on the second lap.

When he reached Gravel Hill for the second time, he began to chase after Chris Alborough and Ben Renshaw from Bridport Runners who were out front.

Jacek Cieluszecki in the Broadstone Quarter
Jacek begins to chase down race leaders Chris Alborough and Ben Renshaw

On Dunyeats Road, with about half a mile left, Jacek caught Ben from Bridport. He was closing in on Chris as well but the gap proved too big in the end and Chris picked up the win, finishing in a time of 35:45.

On this occasion, JC had to settle for a runner up spot, getting the line in a time of 35:58 but he was happy with his run overall and knows that, had he been racing hard from the outset, it could have been a different story.

For his second lap, JC was actually the fastest man in the field, completing it in 14:20, so that suggests he’s back in pretty good shape again, which is pleasing.

Ben Renshaw took third place in a time of 36:04, ahead of Andy Leggott who was fourth in 36:25. James Bewley of Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC was 5th in 37:24, just in front of unknown under-20, Adne Nesje Hernes, who took 6th place in 37:32.

Rob Doubleday gave Poole AC their second runner over the line, finishing in 7th place in a time of 37:53, with Craig Palmer getting Bournemouth AC their second man over the line to take 8th place in the same time.

Instead of out-and-out racing, Craig decided it would be more beneficial to incorporate a training session into his race, so he did it as two lots of eight minutes, followed by four reps of three minutes, with a bit of recovery in between each rep.

Craig Palmer in the Broadstone Quarter
Even though he was running it as an interval session, Craig still finished in 8th place

For the first eight minutes he ran at a controlled pace of 5:35 minutes per mile. For the second eight minutes he went at 5:45 pace, despite Gravel Hill being part of that meaning he had to work extremely hard on the way up giving him 10th overall on that Strava segment.

Then for the three minute efforts he ran at 5:11 and 5:12 pace for the first two, before a 6:08 which included Gravel Hill and a 5:17 to finish off. He lost three places at the end as he was finishing on a recovery but he’d done what he set out to do so was pleased with the session.

Shortly after Craig had got over the line, the next two Bournemouth AC members arrived, with Ant Clark taking 9th place in a time of 37:58 and Graeme Miller coming in in 10th with a time of 38:11.

They were both excellent runs from two of BAC’s old school thoroughbreads. After a disappointing run at Round the Lakes on Boxing Day, Ant bounced back extremely well, finishing with an average pace of 5:48 minutes per mile, which is not considering two lots of Gravel Hill were included in that.

Ant Clark in the Broadstone Quarter
Ant Clark ran well to finish 9th in 37:58

Graeme’s only real goal was to get round in a faster time than he did in 2018, which was the only other time he’s run the course as it is now. He went out hard and enjoyed running a few miles on Ant’s shoulder before Ant pulled away on the final climb.

With a superb average pace of 5:51 minutes per mile, Graeme managed to eclipse his time from two years ago by nearly two minutes so even judging by his own high standards, that was an excellent run.

Graeme Miller in the Broadstone Quarter
Graeme is back in tremendous form and could well be one to watch in 2020

The Bournemouth AC trio of Craig, Ant and Graeme were followed by a hat trick of Twemlow Track Club recruits in the shape of David Jones, Richard Swindlehurst and Gareth Alan-Williams.

Neil Sexton of Poole Runners had a good run finishing in 14th place with a time of 38:29 before the Egdon Heath Harriers train arrived. Jamie Barrington took 15th place in 38:35 with Bruce Campbell following shortly after to take 16th in 38:42. Paul Bullimore was 18th in 38:49.

Dave Hicks was the third man in for Poole AC, finishing 19th in a time of 38:53 before Egdon Heath had their fourth man over the line when Simon Arthur clocked in at 38:55.

The Dorset Road Race League win for the first fixture was sealed by Bournemouth AC though when Alex Goulding completed the course in a time of 39:09 to take 22nd place.

Alex’s approach to this year’s race was heavily influenced by his memories from the last time he did the Broadstone Quarter back in 2017. That day he started off way too fast, not having been familiar with the course.

Alex Goulding in the Broadstone Quarter
Alex Goulding started off at a steady pace this time to avoid putting himself into difficulty

Careering down Lower Blandford Road at breakneck speed he was thoroughly enjoying the descent and flying past several of the faster runners. His enthusiasm was short lived though as hadn’t appreciated quite how draining it would be running up Gravel Hill.

For the last kilometre that day, he remembers being absolutely exhausted and having no energy left to take on the runners that were zooming past him in the closing stages.

This time he was determined not to make that same mistake. New year, new Alex! His new mantra was to start off slow. “Think of those hills,” he kept telling himself.

Steve Way and Alex Goulding in the Broadstone Quarter
Steve Way and Alex work their way round the testing hilly route

However, he ultimately ended up going slightly too slowly for the majority of the way which left him with a huge surplus of energy as he neared the end of race.

Although a fast effort enabled him to overtake a few of the runners in the final minutes, it wasn’t enough to see him beat his time 2017 time which was 50 seconds quicker. Nevertheless, he had still brought the win home for the team though so that was what mattered most.

Jon Spear and Steve Cook rounded things off for Twemlow Track Club in 23rd and 24th place before Liam Openshaw and Gareth Hale completed the scoring team for Poole AC in 25th and 26th.

Still insisting on his retirement from competitive running, Steve Way paced his friend Tim Jones of Poole Runners round to a sub-40 finish of 39:39, giving him 29th place.

Steve Way in the Broadstone Quarter
Steve was pacing his friend Tim Jones round

Steve crossed the line in 31st place with a timed of 39:43. That was still an average pace of 6:05 though so a fairly decent run on that course. Nathaniel Willmore of Poole Runners was the last man to get in under 40 minutes, finishing in 39:54.

In the ladies’ race, it was Emma Caplan who struck gold, finishing in exactly 41 minutes. Even though it was her slowest ever time in that race, it was nice to pick up the win. Her times over the years she has done have been extremely consistent though, having completed it in 40:51 last year, 40:36 in 2016 and 40:20 in 2012.

Emma Caplan in the Broadstone Quarter
Emma Caplan finished as first lady in dead on 41 minutes

Due to a knee injury, Emma hasn’t been running as much as she’d like recently so it was good that she’s still able to preform at such a high level.

According to an MRI scan, she’s suffering from patellar tendinopathy which has a tendency to flare up from time to time. Whenever it does, she’s restricted to non-impact exercises like swimming, which is a frustration for her.

Juliet Champion of Poole AC finished as second lady, completing the course in 41:24 which put her in 44th place overall. Although she wasn’t feeling the freshest considering it was New Years Day, Helen O’Neile did well to take the prize for third lady.

Helen O'Neile in the Broadstone Quarter
Helen O’Neile was once again third lady over the line

She crossed the line in a time of 42:10, which put her in 53rd place overall. That’s two top three finishes in her first two races for BAC for Helen so a very good start to her new club journey for Helen.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses for Helen though as she did manage to injure her ankle in the race which has given her cause for concern. She’s hoping for a speedy recovery but it’s difficult to tell with these sorts of injuries how long they will last.

She finished one place behind Matt du Cros who took 52nd place in a time of 42:09. That was a 10 second improvement on his time from last year so it was a pretty good run from him.

Matt du Cros in the Broadstone Quarter
Matt du Cros ran slightly faster than he did in the same race last year

Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners was 4th lady in a time of 42:43, which put her in 61st place overall. Diana Leggott arrived at the line in a time of 43:25 to finish as fifth lady and 67th overall. Last year’s champion Alex Door stepped into the new year by finishing as 6th placed female a time of 44:12.

Jud Kirk was almost a minute quicker than the time he posted at last year’s Broadstone Quarter, getting over the line in a time of 45:07, which put him in 93rd place overall.

Usually Jud looks to challenge for top honours in his age category but he’s come to the realisation though that he has a lot of work to do from now onwards if he’s going to get to that level again.

Jud Kirk in the Broadstone Quarter
Jud could only manage fourth place in the male 60-69 category

Andy Clements of Poole AC was a comfortable winner in that catgegory, finishing 34th overall in a phenomenal time of 40:22. Realistically, even getting within a couple of minutes of that would be good for Jud.

Stephen Hogarth, also of Poole AC was second in that category in a time of 44:32 which put him in 78th place overall. Jud had had to settle for fourth on this occasion, behind Andrew Stratton of Egdon Heath Harriers who was 87th overall in 44:56.

Sealing the women’s first division win for Bournemouth AC in her debut run, Heather Khoshnevis got to the line in 48:01, which put her in 140th place overall and made her 18th placed lady.

Heather Khoshnevis in the Broadstone Quarter
Heather Khoshnevis finalised the win for the Bournemouth AC ladies team

Heather was also second in her age category to Liz Goldsack of Purbeck Runners who finished in 47:24, putting her in 126th place overall.

It was the 10th time Heather has done the race in the last 11 years and that was her fastest time since 2011 so that was a magnificent performance from her. She thinks it must be down to the power of the coveted yellow and blue vest.

Heather Khoshnevis enjoying the Broadstone Quarter
Heather shares a laugh with Sarah Swift who was race director but also competed

After a difficult season last year, it was great for the Bournemouth AC ladies to open with a win in the first fixture and this will hopefully prove a stringboard for them to achieve much better results in 2020.

Ian White nearly gave up his number in the lead up to the race as he knee had played up in a training run. It was too late to do any transfers though so he decided to just go out easy and see what happened.

At first he was running with the captain of ship, Rich Nelson and they slowly picked their way through the field. It was on the downhill parts where Ian’s knee hurt the most but once that was out the way, he was confident he was going to finish and began to push on a little.

That culminated in a decent sub 50-minute finish as Ian crossed the line in a time of 49:43 to take 159th place. He felt very motivated throughout the run and quantified as some good solid miles as he works toward his goals of a sub-20-minute 5k by the end of the year.

Ian White in the Broadstone Quarter
Ian White was pleased to get in under 50 minutes

Captain Rich wasn’t far behind either, getting to the line in a time of 50:19, which put him in 166th place overall. It was good to see Rich and Ian employing a bit of old fashioned BAC teamwork as well to help push each other on.

This year the pressure will be eased off a little on Rich as Tom Craggs has taken on a coaching role within the road runners division of the club and is running some of the Tuesday night sessions. That should free up a bit more time for Rich who often struggles to juggle work time and family life with all the duties he has to do for the club.

Rich Nelson and Ian White in the Broadstone Quarter
Rich Nelson and Ian White worked together to try and claw their way up the field

With no David Cartwright there, Ian Graham thought he had a golden opportunity to take the 70+ category. As always though, another V70 popped up to deprive Ian of that accolade. That was Jim Brumfield of Egdon Heath Harriers, who Ian hadn’t seen for ages.

Jim finished in a time of 52:17, putting him in 190th place. Ian came in in a time of 53:06 which put him in 204th position overall. Ian was still quite happy with his time though, even though he missed out on the prize.

Ian Graham in the Broadstone Quarter
Ian Graham’s hopes of a 70+ prize were foiled by an unexpected adversary

Next in for BAC, it was the one and only Louise Price, who crossed the line in 53:49. That put her in 215th place overall and she was 38th lady and 9th in the female 50-59 category.

Although it wasn’t her fastest time at the Broadstone Quarter, it was still a fairly decent run from Lou’s perspective and she was glad to be able to get through it without any niggles.

Louise Price in the Broadstone Quarter
Louise Price having a bit of fun. Who says Bournemouth AC members take themselves too seriously?

Finishing in 232nd place, Paul Whitty was next over the line in a BAC vest. He completed the course in a time of 55:02 which put him in 36th place in the male 50-59 age category.

After she’d been struggling with a hip injury, Helen Ambrosen initially didn’t think she’d be able to run. The day before though, she decided to give it a go and planned on running the first lap steadily to see how it went.

Fortunately, everything seemed fine so she began to up the work rate on the second lap and finished the race well. Crossing the line in a time of 57:28, Helen finished in 260th place overall and was 63rd lady and 2nd in the Female 60-69 category.

Helen Ambrosen in the Broadstone Quarter
Helen Ambrosen on her way toward a second female 60-69 placing

First place in that category went to Caron Stevens of Royal Manor of Portland who got over the line in 56:18, putting her in 253rd place overall.

It was the fifth consecutive year Helen had done the Broadstone Quarter and she enjoyed it and found it to be a great start to 2020. She was pleased to see her teammates doing so well as well and picking in the win in the women’s race.

The new year started very well for Sam White as she nailed down a new quarter marathon PB, arriving at the finish in a time of 58:17, which put her in 274th place overall. She was 66th lady out of 156 and was 14th in the female 50-59 category.

Although she found it to be a challenging route, Sam settled into a good stead pace and managed to hold on and still managed to find the strength for her trademark Samantha sprint finish.

Sam White in the Broadstone Quarter
Sam White heads toward a new quarter marathon distance PB of 58:17

The last Bournemouth AC member in, but by no means the least, was Davey Boy Parsons, who got over the line in 1:00:35. That put him in 298th place overall and 9th in the male 70+ category.

Before the race started, Dave wasn’t feeling too well and it was so hot in the gym where the numbers were distributed that he felt like he was going to faint.

Once he got going though, he felt a little better and was having a good little ding-dong with Ade Holloway of Wimborne throughout the race. In the end Ade, just managed to the better of Dave, outgunning him in a ferocious sprint finish.

Dave Parsons in the Broadstone Quarter
Although he wasn’t feeling great at first, Dave Parsons soon got into the swing of things

It was certainly a great way to start the new season for Bournemouth AC, with both a men’s team win and women’s team win. One could even be so bold as to say, they’ve started as they mean to go on.

After the race, the prizes were dished out and then the trophies for the 2019 season were handed out. The ceremony was compered very well by BAC’s very own Jon Sharkey and Steve Way was the celebrity guest who handed out the prizes. They both brought a nice light-hearted and humorous flavour to the proceedings.

Perhaps it will be both the Bournemouth AC men’s and women’s teams who are up there collecting their prizes on New Year’s Day 2021. It’s going to be an intriguing and enthralling season ahead, that much is certain.

Peter Clarke and Steve Way presenting DRRL and County Champ awards
Peter Clarke and Steve Way presented the 2019 DRRL and County Championship awards










Toby Chapman boxing clever in Clevedon 4-miler

Toby Chapman reaches the top of a testing hill in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
Toby Chapman reaches the top of a testing hill in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race

In keeping with tradition, Toby Chapman was back at his parents’ place for Christmas which gave him the opportunity to take part in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race for 2019.

The Clevedon Boxing Day Race is organised by Clevedon Athletic Club and consists of quite an undulating 4-mile route with a fairly testing ascent starting right near the end of the second mile.

It has something of a festive feel to it though since it is the holiday season and usually attracts plenty of runners who dress up an the appropriate Christmas related attire, including Santa outfits, elf and reindeer costumes.

Despite that though, the event tends to attract a high quality field, with plenty of top talent battling it out at the front of the field. The wet conditions didn’t seem to have dampened the spirits of the competitors as they lined up in the start area.

Toby opened with a 5:17 first mile before the inclines began to come into play for the second mile. He went through that in 5:36 before hitting the toughest climb on the route.

Toby Chapman at the start of the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
As always with the Clevedon Boxing Race, the field was brimming with talent giving Toby some good competition

Completing the third mile in 5:53, it was then onto the mostly downhill fourth mile leading to the finish. Managing to find enough left in the tank for a strong sprint finish, Toby polished off the last mile in a super quick 5:08 which got him to the finish line in 21:41.6.

That was just enough to net him 18th place ahead of William Cheek of North Somerset AC. It wasn’t quite as quick as he’d run in previous years but it was still a decent performance from Toby, with his average pace for the run coming in at 5:29.

In last year’s race he crossed the line in 8th place, clocking a time of 20:44.6 and the previous year (2017) he was 11th in a time of 20:48.9.

In the 2019 edition there were a total of 972 participants, which is a good turn out for a Boxing Day event. The race was won by Felix McGrath of Bristol & West AC in a time of 19:34.1.

He was followed by his Bristol & West teammate Andrew Chambers who finished in 19:45.9. James Rodgers of North Somerset AC prevented Bristol & West from securing a one, two, three, taking third place in 20:18.4.

Joe Conners of Bristol & West was 4th in 20:22.3, just edging out Alex Crossland of Clevedon AC who went over the line in 20:22.8.

Emma Pallant of Aldershot, Farham & District was 1st female in a time of 21:50.2 which put her in 22nd place overall. She narrowly fended off the challenge from Stephanie Barnes of Bristol & West AC who was second lady in 21:59.0 and Jenny Spink, also of Bristol & West, who was third lady in 22:02.3.

Toby will hopefully be back in action for the next fixture in the Dorset Road Race League which is the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon. He has a great record there, finishing second to Steve Way last year and winning the race in 2018 and 2016.

Toby Chapman digs in in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
Toby digs and and grinds his way up the steep slope



BAC trio wade through water at Round the Lakes

Jud Kirk goes across the water at Round the Lakes
It was difficult to distinguish the cycle track from the boating lake in Poole park at 2019’s Boxing Day showdown

At this year’s edition of the festive Boxing Day blowout in Poole Park it was more a case of “through the lakes” rather than “Round the Lakes”.

Such was the unprecedented amount of rainfall in the days leading up to Christmas, much of the pathway around the park was looking waterlogged and washed out.

That didn’t stop the race from going ahead though and it didn’t seem to stop the 245 participants from thoroughly enjoying themselves as they splashed through the perpetual puddles.

The line up for the race included three Bournemouth AC members. Ant Clark opted to represent his second claim club which is the newly formed Twemlow Track Club. Jud Kirk was in his familiar yellow and blue colours though and Kirsty Drewett ran the race in tandom with her dad Robert.

Ant Clark and Andrew Ridley in Poole Park
Ant Clark races through in Twemlow Track Club attire, followed by Andrew Ridley
Jud Kirk splashes through the water at Round the Lakes
Jud Kirk was looking to make a splash in the over 60 category
Kirsty Drewett and her Dad Robert at Round the Lakes
Kirsty Drewett accompanied her father Robert round the 10k course

Along with the streaming surface water that the competitors had to contend with, the weather conditions were somewhat unfavourable, with a howling wind and teeming rain dominating the morning’s proceedings.

The 10k course was based around the same boating lake and cycle track as the ever popular Saturday morning haunt of Poole parkrun. It consisted of one lap round the flooded cycle track followed by three full laps round the lake and the cycle track.

Ant Clark and Andrew Ridley cruise along at Round the Lakes
Ant heads along the waterlogged cycle track with the Riddler still in pursuit
Jud Kirk splashes through the puddles at Round the Lakes
Jud digs deep to find his best waterskiing skills to help him progress round the track

Southampton AC came over to raid the Poole party and their runners occupied five of the top seven places, with William Bryan picking up the win in a lightening quick time of 32:14.

The runner up spot went to Daniel Mulryan of Thames Valley Harriers in a time of 32:30, with Sam Costley of Southampton taking third in 32:39.

Ant Clark enjoying himself at Round the Lakes
Even in seriously adverse conditions, Ant tends to run with a smile on his face
Jud Kirk gets stuck in at Round the Lakes
Jud gives chase looking to catch the colourful lady in front of him

Another Southampton man, Will Brewin, took 4th place in a time of 32:49 before Callum Gillett of Reading and Rikki James, also of Southampton took fifth and sixth places, both finishing in 33:02.

Dom Willmore of Poole Runners finished 8th in a time of 34:17, with Ben Lewis of Poole AC coming in just behind him in 34:24. Andrew Ridley took the prize for first over 50, crossing the line in a time of 36:32 which put him in 15th place.

Andrew Ridley splashes through the water at Round the Lakes
Andrew Ridley finished as first over 50 in a time of 36:32

Ant Clark was the first Bournemouth AC affiliated runner to make it to the finish line, clocking in at 37:09, which put him in 20th place. It wasn’t one of Ant’s finest performances but it was another step forward on the comeback trail for him.

Before the Wimborne 10 in mid-November, Ant hadn’t raced for several months after he found out he was suffering with Epstein Barr Virus, a muscle wasting illness.

Ant Clark makes his way through the water
Ant wasn’t at his best but still took 20th position, registering a time of 37:09
Jud gives it his all at the Round the Lakes 10k
Jud gives everything he’s got as he nears the end of the race

Picking up the prize for first over 60, Jud Kirk arrived at the finish in a time of 43:21, putting him in 52nd place in the overall standings. That was a decent result for Jud and it was always a welcome reward to pick up the category win. His cause may have been helped somewhat by the conditions though which seemed to keep the numbers down somewhat.

As well as being a keen runner and triathlete, Jud is also swimming coach and he said he was glad he could swim given the amount of water on the course that day.

Jud Kirk feels the pain at Round the Lakes
The pain is etched across Jud’s face as he works hard for the over 60 category win

Kirsty enjoyed some precious family time with her dad as they negotiated their way through the water and the wind to cross the line 1:01:57 and 1:01:58, with Robert taking 212th place and Kirsty in 213th.

Conflicting work routines mean Kirsty and her dad very few opportunities to meet up and spend time together so it was nice that they could make the most of that chance on this occasion.

Kirsty Drewett running alongside her dad Robert
Kirsty very much enjoyed spending time with her Dad as they made their way round

There was also a Junior Relay Race on where the youngsters were paired up with a partner via lucky dip, each running a one mile leg. Several Bournemouth AC juniors took part in that race but they were unable to stop the Poole AC pair of William Rabjohns and Leo Riggs from emerging victorious.

William completed his leg in a superfast time of 5:13 which was the fastest out of anyone. Then Leo brought it home in 6:01 to give them a team time of 11:14.

BAC youngster Oscar Matthews was in the team that came second. He raced to a superb 5:40 time in his leg before handing over to Lexie Brown of Poole AC who got round in 6:12, giving them a cumulative time of 11:52.

Oscar Matthews in the Junior Relay at Round the Lakes
Oscar Matthews ran a blisteringly quick 5:40 mile for his leg in the Junior Relay

Another Bournemouth AC starlet, Erin Wells, was in the team that came fourth. She completed her leg in 6:36 with Izzy Rabjohns of Poole AC taking the second leg and registering a time of 6:41. That gave them a combined time of 13:17.

The other BAC member in action was Mariah Marshall and she formed part of the team that took 5th place, completing her leg in a time of 7:01. She ran the second leg, with Camilla Brown of Poole AC getting round in 6:36 before handing over the baton. Their combined time was 13:37. There were nine teams taking part in total.

Mariah Marshall in the Junior Relay at Round the Lakes
Mariah Marshall completed her leg in just over 7 minutes to give her team 5th place in the Junior Relay





Stu and Jez make top three in Portsmouth Coastal Marathon

Stu Nicholas and Jez Bragg after Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Two of Bournemouth AC’s top long distance pros in Stu Nicholas and Jez Bragg were in action at the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon

What better way to prepare for the Christmas festivities than running a marathon three days before the big day? It certainly provides you with a great opportunity to create a big calorie deficit which can then in turn be filled with all the mince pies, turkey and Christmas pudding that you can shovel down. And perhaps even more so when it’s one that is as testing as the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon.

As well as being a few days before St. Nicholas comes down the chimney, it was also the day before Stu Nicholas‘s birthday, so he was certain to have two reasons to celebrate at least. Could he make it one more though this time round by ending the season with a victory?

Two years ago in fact, he did do just that, in this very race, seeing off the challenge from Neil Kevern of Bracknell Forest Runners to seal the win in a time of 2:47:12.

Stu would very much have loved to repeat those heroics in the 2019 edition. This year he was joined in the race by his Bournemouth AC compadre Jez Bragg.

Jez is a well known and highly respected member of the running community, not just in Dorset, but also on a national scale. He’s competed for his country numerous times, including at the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k, where he won on a couple of occasions. He also took home a gold medal at the Commonwealth 100k Championships.

He also ran across the entire length of New Zealand which was 3,000km, taking 53 days which made him the fastest person to have done that on foot.

More recently he’s completed the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, which was 315 kilometres with 15,500 metres of ascent. In what might perhaps even be his biggest achievement to date, Jez completed the Tor des Geants, where he covered a total distance of 394km in 95 hours and 24 minutes.

Despite all those incredible achievements, Jez has been suffering an ongoing battle with Ulcerative Collitis and Crohns, a lifelong inflammatory Bowel Disease. That has seen him go through some very difficult times over years but he’s never thrown the towel in and the fact he has had to battle such a vicious illness makes his successes seem all the more unfathomable.

Having completed the Beachy Head Marathon at the end of October in a race where his BAC teammate Jon Sharkey stopped off to get married half way through, Jez proved there that he had a marathon in him.

The Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon would be Stu’s 12th marathon of the year and despite making it to the 50 marathon landmark and the end of last year, his enthusiasm to go the distance had not been quelled. In fact, he’d even stepped it up a notch when he completed the Roseland August Trail 100k along the coast of Cornwall.

The course for the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon runs from South Parade Pier to the end of the Hayling Billy Line and back, providing a unique blend of multi terrain surfaces for the participants to get to grips with.

To begin with it was Pete Concannon in his first ever marathon who took the race by the scruff of the neck. He set off at a furious pace, leaving everyone else including Jez and Stu for dust.

Stu Nicholas near Southsea Pier
Stu comes past the pier at Southsea
Jez Bragg heads along the prom in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez has great pedigree and was always going to be one to watch

Chris Brebin Sayers was in second place but was quite a way back. Then it was Stu and Jez. The BAC duo were together up till 11 miles. That was until Stu had to stop to tie shoelaces. That was a rookie error that could have proved costly.

Jez Bragg coasting along in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez and Stu first got separated when Stu stopped to tie his shoelace
Stu Nicholas makes his way in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Although his shoelace had come undone, Stu’s challenge in the race remained firmly intact

Fortunately for Stu, he was able to come back and catch Jez up. He then decided to press on and began to pull away as they approached the turning point.

It was then a case of trying to reel in the two guys who were still out front. That wasn’t going to be easy though by any stretch of the imagination. Pete Concannon had blasted through the half way point in a superfast time of 1:20:27.

Pete Concannon leading the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Pete Concannon led the way in his first ever marathon, blitzing the first half in 1 hour 20 minutes

He had an advantage of almost five minutes over Chris Brebin Sayers who was second at that point in 1:25:20. Stu was a further 20 seconds back, arriving in 1:25:40 and Jez was 16 seconds behind his at 1:25:56.

Stu Nicholas in action in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Stu was in third place when he reached the half way point
Jez Bragg in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez was fourth when he went through the half way stage in 1:25:56

Chris Brebin Sayers blew up massively over the second half of the race and it wasn’t long before both Stu and Jez had gone past him. The race was on now for Stu and he’d got into a good rhythm and set about chasing Pete down.

Back of Stu Nicholas in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Stu makes his way down the long, straight promenade
Jez Bragg moves forward in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez was following shortly after Stu

It seemed an almost impossible task to make up five minutes over the second half of a marathon but it was worth a go. Pete began to fade and his pace dropped significantly. Stu stayed strong and was progressively eating up the ground between them.

Stu Nicholas in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Stu was beginning to gain time on the race leader Pete Concannon
Jez Bragg in action in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez was still going smoothly and looking strong over the latter part of the race

The gap between the two had been dramatically reducing to the point that there was now only seconds in it. Unfortunately for Stu though, it was too late and Pete made it to finish line before he could catch him.

Stu Nicholas comes along the promenade
Stu was edging closer toward catching the leader as the race progressed
Back of Jez Bragg in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
The way Jez was going he looked like he’d had a full programme of marathon training behind him

The winning time was 2:50:29. Stu crossed the line 23 seconds later to take second place in 20:50:52. Jez crossed the line in a comfortable third place in the end, clocking a time of 2:53:43. That gave him an average pace of 6:31 minutes per mile, with the course coming up slightly long at 26.67 miles.

Alexander Whearity of Reading Joggers was the only man to come in in under three hours. After such a promising first half of the race, Chris Brebin Sayers slipped to 8th place in the overall standings on this occasion.

Jez Bragg in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Jez had run well to take third place in a time of 2:53:43

Even though they didn’t pick up the race win on this occasion it was great to see the Bournemouth AC pair running so well. Considering he hadn’t really done any specific marathon training and the fact that he has to just get out as and when he can due to having a small child, it was a very good run from Jez’s perspective.

He completed the second half of the race in 1:27:46, which was less than two minutes slower than his first half. As for Stu, he actually ran his second half faster than his first, completing it in 1:25:11. That demonstrates how strong he is at the moment.

Stu Nicholas heads down the prom in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
It was touch and go in the end but there was no cigar for Stu on this occasion and he had to settle for second place

It was Stu’s fifth time of running the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and his 12th marathon of the year. There could easily have been a temptation to tone it down for Stu after he reached his 50 marathon landmark at the end of last year but he hasn’t really done that. He’s kept on going.

Stu enjoys the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon so much that he’s already signed up for the race again next year and no doubt he will once again be a serious contender to pick up the race win.

Stu Nicholas and Jez Bragg in the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
Stu and Jaz had made it two BAC members in the top three at this year’s Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon


Tremendous time for Tag in Telford 10k

Rob McTaggart in the Telford 10k
Tag made the trip up north for the tantalisingly quick Telford 10k, hoping to finally fulfil the prophecy of a sub-32-minute time

As far as 10k races go, the Telford 10k has got to be up there with the best of them. It’s a fast, flat course and it’s also heavily tree-lined meaning it’s well sheltered from the wind.

Even in unfavourable conditions, there’s still a great chance of a fast time at Telford and that’s what gets the top athletes flocking over. Of course, having so much high calibre competition around can also help runners reach their full potential.

It’s a race that Rob McTaggart has been interested in for a number of years now. Every year though, his chances of rolling out the perfect performance have been scuppered in some kind of way.

One year he’d planned to go up there a weekend of heavy snow meant the race was cancelled. Another year he was sick in the car whilst he was on his way up and felt so bad that he ended up turning round and heading back home.

Last year, he did finally make it to the start line but had an off-day, resulting in a finishing time of 32:29. Whilst that was still a very fast time, it wasn’t what he’d gone there for. He was aiming for that illusive sub-32.

Ever since then that had remained a primary goal of Tag’s but he still hadn’t quite been able to fulfill it. He’d managed it on the track, finishing in 31:29 at the Ladywell 10,000m in September. The closest he’d come on the road through was a 32:08 at Eastleigh.

This year he managed to make it the start line again, so that was one hurdle over with. Now he just had a produce the performance of his life to make it count.

Although he wasn’t feeling at his absolute peak, Tag knew he was in good shape. He won the Boscombe 10k at the end of November and in October he ran well in the Cabbage Patch 10, finishing in 53:03.

That month he’d also produced one of his best ever runs at the Cardiff Half Marathon, recording 10k, 10-mile and half marathon best times all in the space of one race, finishing in an incredible time of 1:08:56.

The question at Telford was, did he have one more extra special performance left in him before the year was out? It was a bleak and blustery day and the course was wet, with lots of leaves strewn across the path.

There is a short section of downhill near the beginning which can help runners to quickly shift into a good pace. Going through the first mile in 5:01, Tag had made a good start and knew that the race was on.

He then ran a 5:18 for his next mile split before producing a fantastic 4:57 for his third mile which put him right back on track. Going through the 5k point in 15:42, it was looking for Tag at the half way stage.

Tag at the half way stage in the Telford 10k
Tag was looking very strong at the half way point of the race, going through 5k in 15:42

It was effectively a two lap course with a bit added on at the beginning. Tag got to end of the first lap in 16:23. Maintaining the pace he was going at wasn’t going to be easy but he knew, if he could, he was going to be in for a blinding run.

For his fourth mile, Tag registered a 5:14, before getting through the fifth mile in a superb 5:10. Over the course of the second lap, he was overtaking people left, right and centre.

Many of the runners had gone out too hard and were beginning to suffer. Not Tag though. He had paced it well and hence was moving up the field rapidly.

Despite going so fast, he still had more left in the tank heading into the final mile and was then able to post his fastest mile of the race at 4:57, equalling his pace for third mile.

That just left the remaining 0.2 of a mile where he upped the pace even further as he headed for the finish. Crossing the line in a phenomenal chip time of 31:25, Tag had smashed his 10k PB and finally achieved that much sought after sub-32 on the road.

Tag makes a break for finish in the Telford 10k
Tag makes a break for the finish with just 50 metres remaining

Such is the incredibly high standard of the event that that time only put him in 73rd place but that didn’t matter. It was about the time for Tag and having that kind of calibre of runners around him helped spur him on.

Amazingly, 16 runners came in in under 30-minutes, with Adam Craig sealing the race win in a time of 28:32. That was also a new course record for the Telford 10k, beating the previous best time of 28:51, which had stood for 15 years.

Omar Ahmed of Birchfield Harriers also came in under the previous course record, getting to the line in 28:39. Alex Teuten of Southampton also ran well to secure an official PB of 29:33 which put him in 9th place. A total of 1,128 participants successfully completed the course on the day.

For Tag though, it was a fantastic way to round off what has turned out to be an outstanding year for him. After a disappointing London Marathon earlier in the year, he has showed great character to completely turn it around and end on a huge high. He’ll now have every reason to be optimistic about what’s in store for him in 2020.

Tag after recording a new PB in the Telford 10k
It was a terrific day at the office for Tag as he registered a fabulous new 10k of 31:25

Chris and Stu Glen move over to the dark side at Maverick Dorset

Chris Phelan-Heath taking on the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
Chris Phelan-Heath hurtles through the darkness at Wareham Forest in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset

Usually staged on tricky off-road routes, runners at most of the Maverick Series races do at least have the benefit of being able to see what’s in front of them. However, that was not the case so much at the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset.

The Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset is held along the Sika Trail in Wareham Forest. With a 5pm start, at this time of year, that means negotiating the trails in the pitch black, with only the use of a head torch to light the way and glow sticks to mark the route.

As with all Maverick Series events, there were three different distances. A Short which was a 5km, a Medium at 10km and a Long with was 16km.

Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
The Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset promised to be a fiery occasion

The Bournemouth AC pair of Chris Phelan-Heath and Stu Glenister both opted for the Short distance. All three races start off together before the routes are split at around the 1 mile point. That makes it difficult to know who you’re racing against at first.

It was extremely wet and muddy under foot which made the pace a tad slower than it otherwise would have been but it certainly added to the intrigue.

Chris Phelan-Heath in action in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
Chris negotiated the Sika Trail with pace and precision

There is something rather alluring about running through the woods in the dark. It tends to heighten your senses as your immerse yourself in the surroundings.

It turned out to be a slightly hillier route than Chris was execpting but it was nothing compared to the Maverick Dorset day race. He was pleased make it round without getting lost this time, unlike in the previous Maverick race he did.

In fact, Chris ran extremely well, hitting sub-6-minute-mile pace for the first couple of miles and taking a commanding lead. The hills came into play a bit more after that but Chris stayed strong and made it to the line in a super quick time of 20:15. That gave him a resounding victory in the Short distance race.

Chris Phelan-Heath darts across the water in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
Chris darts across the water, determined to let nothing stand in his way as he romps to victory

It was actually a bit further than 5k as well, with the total distance coming up as 3.3 miles. With an average pace of 6:06 minutes per mile, it was a fantastic performance from Chris, especially considering it was in the dark.

The next man to arrive at the finish area was Chris’s BAC teammate Stu Glenister, who had also had an excellent run. He crossed the line in a time of 21:43.

Stu Glenister in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
Stu Glenister was having great fun as he raced through the tricky terrain

Stu is in a good place with his running at the moment and he was very happy with how the race went from his perspective. No one else came in under 23 minutes so it was a terrific result for the Bournemouth AC pair.

The Middle distance race was won by Edward Bird in 38:07 with Jack Galloway coming out on top in the Long distance race, completing the 10-mile route in 59:42.

Describing it as a great race with an incredible atmosphere, Chris said he’s pleased that he’s starting to get a few decent runs under his belt.

Chris Phelan-Heath at the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset
Chris kept it festive in his Christmas jumper before getting down to the business


Rob Spencer wraps up the win at the Christmas 10k

Start of the Christmas 10k
Rob Spencer was leading the charge for Bournemouth AC at the Christmas 10k in Christchurch and was looking to win for the second year running

The Christchurch Christmas 10k, or Christmas Pudding race as it’s otherwise known, has been a popular fixture in the Dorset race calendar for quite some years now. It’s one that Bournemouth AC athletes have a history of producing great results in and those competing in this year’s event were hoping that trend might continue.

After winning the race last year, reprsenting St Albans Striders at the time, Rob Spencer was back again to try to retain his crown. As is the case with pretty every local race, in order to ermerge victorious, the top BAC members know they will have to finish ahead of Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders and that is no easy task.

Lee has had a cracking season and is always in contention at the front of the field. Another man who’s running has sky rocketed in 2019 is Chris Alborough of Poole AC. He was also in the mix and hoping to challenge for top honours.

Philip Mosley of New Forest Runners, Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat and Robert Doubleday of Poole AC were also in the line up and with all that talent jostling for position, it promised to be an epic showdown.

There were also a fair few other big names in the fabled yellow and blue vests who were looking to make their mark, including Stuart Nicholas, Graeme Miller, Sanjai Sharma and Adrian Townsend.

The carrot of a Christmas pudding at the end of the race and a cup of hot soup is usually enough to draw the numbers for the Christmas 10k and the race has a nice festive feel to it, with many competitors dressing up in Santa outfits, or as elvesm, reindeers or even Christmas puddings.

Rob wasn’t too concerned with all the festive frivolities though. He was as focused, driven and determined as ever and was soon taking the race by the scruff of the neck. It was only really Lee and Chris who felt like they could go with him.

As the race progressed though it soon became apparent that Rob was going to be far too strong for anyone else. He was tearing round the course at a scintilating speed and soon built up a huge lead. It was all academic from that point on.

Rob Spencer in the Christchurch Christmas 10k
Rob’s blistering pace was too much for anyone else to handle

Arriving at the finish line in an astonishly quick time of 32:05, Rob had blazed a brilliant new PB, beating his time from the Purbeck 10k, when he made his BAC debut, by 1 minute 14 seconds. His winning margin had already stretched to well over a minute by the time Chris arrived to take 2nd place.

In fact, it was a gap of exactly 1 minute and 20 seconds before Chris crossed the line, recording a time of 33:27. Lee followed in four seconds later to take 3rd place in a time of 33:31. Philip Mosley wasn’t too far behind, sealing a 4th place finish in a time of 33:52.

Chris Alborough in the Christmas 10k
Chris Alborough of Poole Ac ran well to take 2nd place in 33:27

Next up, it was Tom Stevens of Southampton who crossed the line in 5th place with a time of 34:16. He was followed by Andy Leggott who recorded a still excellent time of 34:32.

Lee Dempster in the Christmas 10k
Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders had to settle for 3rd place on this occasion

Coming in in a time of 35:19, Stu Nicholas had a very good run to take 9th place overall. It was only really his epic run in the very same race last year where he had produced a significantly quicker time over a 10k distance.

Stu Nicholas in the Christmas 10k
Stu Nicholas heads down the path towards the finish after a ferociously fast race

Robert Doubleday filtered in soon after Stu, finishing in 10th place with a time of 35:28. Two seconds later, it was a 1st V55 to get over the line, and that was Andrew Ridley, who took 11th place in 35:28.

Stu Nicholas taking on the Christmas 10k
Stu’s time of 35:19 saw him take 9th place in the standings

Andrew is often seen around the Kings Park area and has had his competitive running capacity blighted by injuries over recent years so it was good to see him coming back into some good form.

Another man who has experienced his fair share of injury turmoil over recent years is Graeme Miller. An ongoing glute issue has persistently played havoc with his training but he’s never given up. He’s always found a way to work through it and put in a performance when it really matters.

It finally feels like things are moving in the right direction now for Graeme though and he’s beginning to get in some pain-free runs. The strength and conditioning work he’s been doing is beginning to pay dividends and he’s looking in good shape.

Graeme Miller in the Christmas 10k
After some difficult injury woes, Graeme Miller was back in form again and firing on all cylinders

He found a good group to run with in the early stages of the race and the miles seemed to soon tick by. The last couple of were is there was a strong headwind but Graeme kept it together well to finish as 1st V45 in a time of 36:24.

That put Graeme in 14th place overall and it had turned out to be his fastest 10k for four years so that was a very pleasing result. He came in just ahead of Alastair Pickburn of New Forest Runners who was 15th in 36:34.

Graeme Miller gives his all in the Christmas 10k
It was great to see some old BAC stalwarts like Graeme proving that they can still mix it with the best of them

Another recognisable name from a Bournemouth AC perspective was Robin Copestick who used to run for a club back in 2015. Since then he’s had a very lengthy injury layoff and is now starting to get back on track with his running and producing some good times.

He’s even made a few appearances at BAC training sessions recently although he is currently unattached. Finishing in 23rd place, Robin crossed the line in a time of 37:36 which was a decent run from him.

Hoping for a sub-40 time, which is something he’s normally been used to in the past, Adrian Townsend is another BAC member who’s had a turbulent time with injuries.

Recently he’s been suffering with plantar fasciitis which has adversely effected his training and consequently his fitness. That culminated in a slightly disappointing time at the Boscombe 10k at the end of November.

This time he was going a little better though and at the six mile point he thought he’d got the sub-40 in the bag. Unfortunately though, as he approached the finish he was disappointed to see the clock just ticking over 40.

Finishing with a time of 40:23, Adrian crossed the line in 35th position overall and was 2nd in the V55 category.

Arriving at the finish shortly after Adrian was his Bournemouth AC teammate Sanjai Sharma who is again, another member who has been plagued by injuries of late.

Clocking a time of 40:47, Sanjai came in in 38th place and was 3rd in the V55 category. It was his worst 10k time for a number of years but it wasn’t a huge surprise to Sanjai considering his injury woes.

He’s been trying to build up his running again slowly but his glutes are still painful which is making it difficult. He’ll be hoping though, after a little break over Christmas he’ll come back swinging again in the New Year before he starts his marathon training.

Completing the course in a time of 43:10, Jud Kirk ended the race in 59th position and 3rd in the V60 category. That wasn’t quite as quick as his time at the Boscombe 10k a couple weeks prior but it wasn’t a bad effort from Jud given the blustery conditions.

Also in action for the yellow and blues at the Christmas 10k was the White clan, consisting of Ian White and his now wife Sam, formerly Sam Laws. And Ian’s daughter Katrina was competing as well, making for a nice festive, family affair.

Ian has been suffering a knee complaint over recent times so has had to tread very carefully with his running. Having only managed 50 miles of slow training over the past six weeks, Ian was expecting to struggle to go sub-50.

For the first mile, he was chasing Katrina which got him going at a reasonable pace. He then found, to his surprise that he was actually able to keep going at that speed. It was only over the last couple of miles into the wind that he lost around 15 seconds.

All-in-all, it was a very pleasing run from Ian’s perspective and he crossed the line in a time of 46:28, putting him in 96th place overall and 16th in the V45 category.

It’s been a tough year for Katrina and she’s struggled to find her top form so she was really pleased to end on a high with her fastest10k time of the year.

Clocking a time of 48:50, Katrina crossed the line in 129th place overall and 24th placed female. It was only really on the fifth mile into the headwind where she found herself isolated and lost a bit of pace. Other than that though, she was very happy with her performance and rightfully so.

Completing a good day all round for White possie, Sam weighed in with a cracking course PB of 55:34. That was her second fastest 10k ever as well so a very encouraging run for Sam.

She finished as 77th lady and 9th in the V50 category and was 230th overall. 466 runners in total successfully negotiated the course on the day.

For many of them it will be their last race of the year before the Christmas partying gets underway and season of merriment begins. No doubt for some there will still be time to don the Santa hat for one or two festive parkruns over the course of the holidays though.

There’s also the Round the Lakes 10k on Boxing Day so there will still be ample opportunity to burn of those Christmas calories, should the need arise.

Rob Spencer attacking the Christchurch Christmas 10k
The Christchurch Christams 10k has been a happy hunting ground for Rob who now has back-to-back victories