All posts by Richard Brawn

Harriet Slade and Joy Wright go off track at New Forest Stinger

Harriet Slade and Joy Wright at the New Forest Stinger
Harriet Slade and Joy Wright were doing it for the girls at the New Forest Stinger, taking on the testing but scenic 10-mile race

More often than not you’d find Harriet Slade and Joy Wright gliding round the track, working on their speed, concentrating on cadence and form and perfecting their technique for the Southern Athletics League events.

Therefore, they were a little out of their comfort zones when they headed over to Ocknell Campsite for the New Forest Stinger. The testing 10-mile multi-terrain route would have them heading along forest trails, through woodland and over open heathland. It was certainly a far cry from the smooth surfaces of the track.

For Harriet, it would also be the furthest she’d ever ran so for that reason alone she would be breaking new ground. As for Joy, she’d competed in the Great South Run two weeks earlier, finishing in 1:11:28, so she knew she was equipped to handle to distance.

Since the New Forest Stinger was an off-road route though featuring some tricky undulations, it was bound to be a sterner test than the GSR.

How it came about though was that Joy had already entered the race and was looking for some company so Harriet contacted the race organisers to see if there were any numbers going. Fortunately there was, which enabled Harriet to join Joy on the start line. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Harriet Slade and Joy Wright before the New Forest Stinger
Even though she hadn’t run the distance before, Harriet agreed to join teammate Joy for the turbulent 10-miler

Considering she’d never done a 10-mile race before and hadn’t really trained for it, Harriet took to it like a duck to water. At the New Forest Stinger they tend to split the results between men and women.

In last year’s race, Emma Caplan took the title of 1st lady and finished in 5th place overall. That was only a few months after she’d given birth as well so it was a fantastic result for her.

In the 2019 edition of the New Forest Stinger it was Ben Pitman of Lordshill Road Runners who picked up the win, completing the course in an impressive time of 1:02:06. He was followed by Philip Mosley of New Forest Runners who crossed the line in 1:03:54 and Neil Jennings of Romsey Road Runners who was 3rd in a time of 1:04:19.

Out of the women though, Harriet performed incredibly to finish in 2nd place, reaching the line in a time of 1:13:14. That was quite some achievement for her in her first stab at the distance and she was over the moon about it.

Harriet Slade in the New Forest Stinger
It was certainly different to any race she’d done before but Harriet adjusted extremely well

The only lady that could get the better of Harriet was Joanna Colley of Cambridge Coleridge. She completed the course in a time of 1:12:50, narrowly pipping Harriet to the post by just 24 seconds.

There was more good news to come though for the Bournemouth AC pair when Joy came across the line as 7th placed lady in a time of 1:20:26.

Joy Wright in the New Forest Stinger
Joy makes her way down the New Forest Track enjoying the picturesque surroundings

Of course, it was nowhere as quick as she managed at the Great South Run but the New Forest Stinger is a an altogether much tougher proposition and that was reflected in her time.

Joy finished four seconds ahead of Sharon Shaw of Poole Runners who was 8th lady in 1:20:32. A total of 233 runners successfully completed the course, with 96 of them female and 137 male.

Joy Wright and Harriet Slade after the New Forest Stinger
Joy and Harriet were both pretty pleased with their morning’s work

As well as collecting the prize for 2nd place, Harriet also claimed 1st place in the Under 40 category, which in a way she was more proud of since she has such a winning mentality.

Harriet Slade finished as 2nd lady at the New Forest Stinger
Harriet (right) picked up a gleaming trophy for 2nd place as well as 1st prize in the U40 category

After the race Harriet felt quite emotional. It’s all part of a huge personal journey she’s on at the moment and running plays an important role in that. It’s clear to see that and her successes mean a lot to her.

The top three ladies at the New Forest Stinger
The top three ladies, including Harriet, on the right, were all smiles after receiving recognition for their efforts

Originally Harriet was on the list for the Wimborne 10 but she’s swapped with Joy so she can focus on the Boscombe 10k which takes place the weekend after. Joy will now line up for the Wimborne 10 which will be her third 10-mile race in a space of a month.

Joy Wright and Harriet Slade at the New Forest Stinger
Harriet was overcome with emotion after the race and it was clear that the achievement meant a lot to her







JC and Mitch Griffiths come unstuck in The Stickler

Jacek Cieluszecki taking on The Stickler
After missing a turning in last year’s race when he was in the lead, Jacek Cieluszecki was hoping to stay on track this time round as he took on the 25th edition of The Stickler

It is considered one of the most brutal short distance races in Dorset. Perhaps even the most brutal of them all. Of course you’ve got the Enduarancelife Coastal Trail Series races and The Beast which could also be contenders. But The Stickler is a different proposition altogether.

The Stickler features around 1,700ft of climbing in the space of 10.2 miles and includes some of the steepest inclines in the region. In fact, it is known as Dorset’s answer to the 3 Peaks Challenge, with ascents up Okeford Beacon, Hod Hill and Hambledon incorporated into the gruelling mixed terrain route. It would certainly be fair to say that they don’t come much tougher than that.

In this year’s race two Bournemouth AC members were brave enough to put themselves up for the challenge. They were Jacek Cieluszecki and Mitch Griffiths.

Coming off the back of a stunning 10-mile PB at the Great South Run the previous weekend, Mitch was flying high and raring to go. His time of 58:36 was a huge achievement and underlined the immense talent that he possesses.

Of course, the Great South Run is an extremely fast, flat course, which is practically the polar opposite to what he was coming up against in The Stickler, so it was going to be a much tougher test.

As for Jacek, he competed in The Stickler last year and was actually on course to win the race by a considerable margin… until he went off course. It turned out he was actually going so fast that he beat one of the marshals to their post which resulted in him missing a turning and continuing on down the road.

By the time he realized he’d gone the wrong way it was too late. He’d already done a considerable extra distance and would have had to turn back and retrace his steps in order to get back on track.

It was very disappointing for JC as he knew he had the race win in the bag until that mishap. It didn’t deter him from returning through to give it another go and he was hoping that this time all the marshals would be in place or it would be obvious which way he needed to go at every turn.

Jacek and Mitch were joined in the race by a plethora of other talented individuals including Lee Dempster and Edward Crawley of Lytchett Manor Striders, Barry Shea of Dorset Doddlers and Robert Doubleday from Poole AC.

To start off with there was a lead group of three runners consisting of Lee Dempster, Stuart Holloway from City of Salisbury and JC.

The first big climb takes the runners up the infamous ‘Stickle Path’. Unfortunately, soon after that climb, an incident occurred that would alter the course of the race resulting in complete chaos.

Jacek Cieluszecki at the start of The Stickler
Jacek (centre) was in a lead group of three to start of with along with Lee Dempster (left) and Stuart Holloway (right)

Someone directed Jacek, Lee and Stuart away from the correct route and down the wrong path. It turned out that this person was in fact not a marshal and was not wearing hi-viz. Other runners then followed, heading the wrong way and the person even called back some runners were on the correct route only to send them down the wrong path.

One of the official marshals noticed from a distance that they were going in the wrong direction and rushed over to inform them. By then though they’d already done a few hundred yards extra.

In all the melee, a number of competitors ended up running a section of the course in the wrong direction and it caused mass confusion.  Some of the runners who went off-track rejoined the course in the correct place and others did not which resulted in them not having completed the full course.

Stuart and Jacek then had to set about clawing their way back up the field, even though they had been in the lead group before the incident took place. The diversion meant that Jacek had run an extra half a mile than he was supposed to have.

Lee and his two Lytchett Manor Striders teammates Edward Crawley and Jason Robbins somehow managed to rejoin the route in the wrong place so they were deemed not to have run the full course.

Stuart and Jacek did extremely well to climb back up the field and get near to the front again. However, it was Lee who made it to the line first, finishing in the a time of 1:06:54. Because he hadn’t run the full course though, he wasn’t given an official position in the race results.

Lee Dempster in The Stickler
Lee Dempster’s race win was shrouded in controversy as he was deemed not to have ran the full course

The next man over the line was Stuart, who despite having run extra distance, finished in a time of 1:09:39. That effectively gave him the official race win. Then it was Edward who arrived at the finish next in a time of 1:10:05. Again, because he hadn’t run the full course he wasn’t given an official position.

Stuart Holloway on the finishing straight in The Stickler
Stuart Holloway of City of Salisbury got a race win of sorts as he crossed the line first out of anyone who did go the full distance

JC was the fourth man over the line, clocking an official time of 1:11:06. Of course, if you take Lee and Edward out of the equation that would put him 2nd.

Jacek Cieluszecki finishing The Stickler
Jacek was the fourth man to arrive on the finishing straight despite having run nearly half a mile further than he should have

Mitch struggled to get to grips the first gruelling climb and the sheer brutality of it threw him off his stride initially. After getting to the top he found it difficult to recover for a while until he got a second wind on the fourth mile.

He managed to pick it up a bit after that but Mitch certainly felt out of his comfort zone in an off-road race like this as he was unable to get into a rhythm and switch off.

Mitch Griffiths comes in to the finish in The Stickler
Mitch Griffiths arrives on the finishing straight looking surprisingly buoyant considering his gruelling ordeal

Nevertheless, he battled on and got to the end, completing the course in a time of 1:17:40 which put him in 25th place, or 22nd if you don’t include the three Lytchett Manor Striders runners who weren’t given an official position.

Mitch actually ended up covering 10.24 miles in total so that should have been roughly the distance that everyone ran. Due to the incident that impacted Jacek though, he ended up running 10:62 miles.

Mitch Griffiths in action in the Stickler
Although it put him out of his comfort zone, Mitch enjoyed getting to grips with the tricky off-road route with some killer climbs

Although he didn’t quite hit the heights he did in his phenomenal run at the Great South Run, if nothing else, this was still a very good training run for Mitch. He will have undoubtedly made some gains from working his way up the three monstrous inclines in a race environment.

As for Jacek, he’s been extremely unlucky in his first couple of attempts at the Stickler. Perhaps he’ll be back next year though and will manage to stay on route and make it third time lucky. Then he’ll have a great chance of finally getting the victory he craves.

Jacek Cieluszecki comes down the home straight in The Stickler
It was the second time JC had had problems finding his way in The Stickler, with costly repercussions










BAC members go for broke at Great South Run

Mitch Griffiths in the Great South Run
Mitch Griffiths led the charge for Bournemouth AC at the 2019 Simplyhealth Great South Run and he was joined by nine of his clubmates in action over the course of the weekend

There have been some top notch performances from Bournemouth AC runners in the Great South Run over the years, not least Disco Dave Long’s spectacular sub-50 last time out where he executed a near perfect race to seal a top ten place.

There wasn’t likely to be anyone in a BAC vest quite so high up in the 2019 edition but Mitch Griffiths had been in brilliant form of late, producing a new 5-mile PB at the Littledown 5 and a new parkrun PB of 17 minutes on the nose at Poole.

Competing in the race for the seventh year in succession, Rich Brawn was looking forward to being back in the race he regards as his favorite of the calendar year.

The first time Rich entered the Great South Run was back in 2013 when he recorded a time of 1:08:20 and finished 337th. That race really sparked Rich’s interest in getting more competitive with his running and from that day on he was hooked.

Since 2014, every year he’s taken part in the event, Rich has recorded a new 10-mile PB, gradually improving his times all the way up to last year where he recorded a huge PB of 1:01:22.

This year due to a plantar fasciosis injury in the heel, he’s been unable to train to the same level that he did last year so he knew he wasn’t in shape to repeat the same heroics. He would have to try and temper his pace accordingly and just try to get as close to that time as he possibly can.

Rich Brawn before the Great South Run
Rich Brawn can scarcely contain his excitement as he awaits the start of the 2019 Great South Run

For Phil Cherrett, the Great South Run was sure to be the biggest race he’s participated in yet. He’s done events at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival before but this was going to be a level up in terms of grandeur, numbers in the field and crowd support. For that reason, he was excited to see what was in store.

It was only last year that he competed in his first ever 10-mile race, which was the Bournemouth 10. Later that year he went on to set a 10-mile PB of 1:11:38 at Wimborne so that was the target to beat this time round.

It was a fifth consecutive appearance in the Great South Run for Julian Oxborough dating back to 2015 when he ran it in 1:53:31. Julian also took part in the Great South Run several times when he was younger as well, in his former running days.

Back then, Julian was posting some pretty fast times and was still representing Bournemouth AC. It was in 1991 he made his Great South Run debut, finishing in a time of 1:06:40 which put him in the top 500 out of 5,000 participants. That was also his first ever 10-mile event.

Julian Oxborough in action at the Great South Run
Julian Oxborough was in his fifth year in a row at the Great South Run

There were also some Bournemouth AC ladies representing as well, with Alison Humphrey hoping to go for a sub-70 time. Earlier in the year she finished in exactly 1:10:00 at the Bournemouth 10 so if she could produce something similar at the Great South Run she’d have a good chance of achieving that goal.

Alison was joined in the race by Joy Wright, who is has been more focused on track running over recent times. She did complete the half marathon race at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival two weeks prior though so that would have helped with her endurance.

Also in action for Bournemouth AC was Louise Broderick, who helps out with the Junior Development Group on Wednesday nights. Louise is a sporadic runner as she often has difficulty finding the time to get out and train.

She always enjoys racing though when she gets the chance and was looking forward to getting out there and giving it her all. Louise also took part in the Great South Run back in 2015 when she ran it with a friend, completing the course in a time of 1:16:39.

Although he hasn’t done a lot of running lately, Mike White was also in the starting line-up having entered on an early bird deal last year. Mike done a few of the local 10-mile races over the past couple of years including the Wimborne 10 which he did in 2017 and 2018 and the Lytchett 10 which he did earlier this year. This was his first stab at a really big 10-miler though.

Having been given a number from a friend of his from Zoom Tri Club only a few days before the race, Paul Consani was also in the mix. He’d completed an Ironman race on the last weekend of August though and, although he knew he had plenty of endurance in the tank from that, he hadn’t done any speed work since so he wasn’t expecting a great time by his standards.

Nevertheless, the Great South Run is a terrific race to be a part of and when the opportunity came up, it was just too good for Paul to turn down.

Paul Consani in the Great South Run
Paul Consani (in the purple) had taken a number from a friend of his who had pulled out last minute

When the morning of the race arrived, the runners were pleased to see that conditions appeared to be ideal. The direction of the wind meant that when they hit the seafront for the last two miles they would have a tailwind, which would really help over the latter stages. For much of the rest of the route there would be a slight headwind but because that is more inland, it tends not to matter as much.

As always with the Great South Run, it was the elite women who set off first. This was where Eilish McColgan took centre stage. She was hoping to emulate her Mum, Liz, in winning the race for a second year in a row.

She was also looking to beat her Mum’s Scottish national record of 52 minutes which she did back in 1997. As soon as the gun went off, Eilish sped off leaving the others trailing in her wake. It wasn’t about just winning the race for her. She had a target to go for and was extremely focused.

When the elite men set off, along with the rest of the field, it was Rich Brawn who was furthest up the field for BAC. It wasn’t long before Mitch Griffiths cruised up and overtook him though. As he went past, Mitch asked Rich if he was going for a sub-60.

Knowing he wasn’t in good enough shape for that though, Rich replied saying no, not today. He had to then watch as Mitch strode away looking incredibly strong. Rich had already decided he was going to be sensible with his pace though and not risk burning himself out too much and he stuck to that.

Mitch started off at 5:50 pace for the first mile, which was ideal really for a solid sub-60. The course usually comes up slightly long on the Great South Run so running at 6-minutes-per-mile would most likely not quite get him what he wanted.

Mitch Griffiths looking controlled in the Great South Run
Mitch was looking to beat the 59:40 time he set at the Bournemouth 10 back in February

Going through the 5k point in a time of 18:10, Mitch was well on course to better the 59:40 that he managed at the Bournemouth 10 earlier in the year. The question was though, would he be able to maintain that pace?

At the 10k he went through in 36:29, meaning he’d kept the pace remarkably consistent. Miles 7 and 8 in the Great South Run are often the toughest of the race though.

Mitch did well extremely well to minimise his losses though and was still comfortably under 6 minutes per mile on those two. Going through 15k in 54:44, it was looking like he would be sailing well under the 60-minute marker.

He didn’t relax at all though, he continued to push and in fact, ran his fastest two miles of the entire race on those last two miles along the seafront, clocking a 5:44 for both of them.

With an official finishing time of 58:36, it was a huge PB for Mitch, by over a minute. He was delighted with that and it put him in 89th place overall, out of 16,000.

Mitch Griffiths powers along in the Great South Run
Mitch strides toward a tremendous finishing time of 58:36

As for Rich, he was trying to stay as close to 6-minutes-per-mile as he could at first. He knew he’d probably fade over the second half of the race though.

Going through the first 5k in 18:50, he was feeling okay at that point but nowhere near as strong as he was last year. He made it through 10k in 38:17 which he was pleased with at that point. But he knew he’d struggle over the next two miles, as he always does.

His pace then dropped from roughly 6:05 to 6:23 and then 6:28 for the 7th and 8th miles. He didn’t mind that so much though as he knew there was a tailwind for the last two miles so he’d most likely pick the pace up then.

Rich Brawn digs in in the Great South Run
Rich was feeling pretty strong as he went through the four mile point

He went through the 15k point in 58:08, leaving him with a mile left to go. He was hoping to at least get under 1:03 so that was still on the cards.

He was feeling pretty strong in the last mile but unfortunately as he was nearing the end of the race he got a stitch which prevented him from pushing on much.

In the end Rich crossed the line in a time of 1:02:11, which he was fairly pleased with, all things considered. That put him in 181st place overall. It was only 49 seconds off his time from last year as well, so it wasn’t a huge deficit.

Rich Brawn in the Great South Run
Although it didn’t match up to his time from last year, Rich was still fairly pleased with his time under the circumstances

Arriving at the finish in a time of 1:04:34, Paul Consani was actually pleasantly surprised with his time given the lack of speed work. Although it won’t go down on his official record, Paul came in 271st place overall.

Paul Consani cruises along in the Great South Run
Paul looks a cool customer as he cruises toward a sub-65-minute finish

Alison Humphrey didn’t quite get the sub-70-minute time she was hoping for in the end but she wasn’t far off. Crossing the line in 716th place, she recorded a finishing time of 1:10:35. That was good enough to see her coming in as 51st female and 6th in the women’s 45-49 category.

Alison Humphrey in the Great South Run
Alison Humphrey ran well to come in as 51st lady in a time of 1:10:35

The next Bournemouth AC member over the line was Joy Wright, who had a pretty good run to finish in a time of 1:11:28. That put her in 815th place overall and 64th lady. She was also 12th in the female 40-44 category, so it was a decent result for Joy in the end.

Following in shortly after Joy was Phil Cherrett, who arrived in 846th place with a time of 1:11:49. Phil started off at around 7-minute-mile pace.

He actually ran very consistently, except for on miles 7 and 8 where he slowed a fair bit. That ended up costing him a PB but it was still a fairly good run from Phil and he was 129th in the Male 40-44 category.

Phil Cherrett in the Great South Run
Phil Cherrett heads past Southsea Pier on his way to a 1:11:49 finish

Reaching the finish in a time of 1:19:55, Louise Broderick was next over the line for Bournemouth AC. That put her in 2,357th place overall and made her 323rd lady. She was 54th in the women’s 45-49 category.

Having forgotten how busy and congested it gets in large scale races like the Great South Run, Mike White positioned himself too far back and ended up locked in at the steady pace in the early stages of the race.

Mike White in the Great South Run
Mike White got caught out a bit at the start after beginning the race too far back

He’s learnt his lesson from that though and intends to ensure he arrives earlier next time to avoid a similar scenario. With a finishing time of 1:20:59, Mike came in in 2,619th place overall and was 346th in the Male 45-49 category.

Mike White battles on in the Great South Run
Once he was able to get into his stride, Mike managed to pick the pace up and find his rhythm

Running his second fastest time in the Great South Run since he came back to running, Julian Oxborough finished up in 13,210th place with his time of 1:57:23.

Julian Oxborough in the Great South Run
Julian was the envy of many other runners in his flame embroiled shorts

That was a significant improvement on his time of 2:15:26 from last year so that was pleasing for Julian. In face, every mile he did was substantially quicker than the equivalent mile in 2018. He finished 887th in the Male 50-54 category.

Julian Oxborough jumps for joy in the Great South Run
Julian jumps for joy when he finds out the finish is just around the corner

It turned out that Eilsih McColgan did break her Mum’s Scottish national record. In fact, she smashed it, knocking 22 seconds off to finish in a stunning time of 51:38.

That was enough to see her take 22nd place in the overall standings. Her margin of victory over the next lady to come in was 3-and-a-half minutes.

Julian Oxborough after the Great South Run
Julian stands on the podium with his medal after completing the race in a much quicker time than he did last year

The winner of the overall race was Marc Scott, of Richmond an Zetland Harriers, who finished in an incredible time of 46:58. He was followed by Ben Connor of Derby who finished in 47:16 and Emile Cairess of Leeds City who was 3rd in 47:32.

Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton ran well to finish in 6th place with a time of 48:08. Scott Overall was 7th in 48:46, with Andy Vernon taking 8th in 48:38. His Aldershot, Farnham & District teammate Joe Morwood was 9th in 48:44.

Julian Oxborough with Timmy Mallet at the Great South Run
The last thing Julian wanted after running 10 miles was to be hit over the head with a mallet but that tends to be what happens when you encounter Timmy Mallet

Last year’s winner Chris Thompson had to settle for 12th place this time round, finishing in 49:23. He was just behind Alex Tueten of Southampton who crossed the line in 48:56. Steve Gallienne, who upset the applecart in the Poole Festival of Running 5k and 10k, was 16th in a time of 50:38.

Jasper Todd races round in the Great South Run 5k
BAC youngster Jasper Todd was in action in the Great South Run 5k which took place the day before the main race

As well as the 10-mile race on the Sunday, there was also a 5k race which took place on Saturday. That race also had Bournemouth AC representation as well in the shape of Jasper Todd.

Jasper is a rising star in the BAC ranks and whipped round in a time of 17:01, which was a terrific new 5k PB for him. That put him in 13th place overall out of over 600 competitors.

Jasper Todd in the Great South Run 5k
Jasper put in an exquisite performance to cross the line in 17:01, taking 13th place

The race was won by Paul Navesey of Crawley in a staggering time of 14:46. He fended off competition from James Heneghan of Cardiff who finished in 15:16 and Sam Charig of City of Portsmouth, who crossed the line in 15:21.

The 2019 edition had been another terrific event, as the Great South Run always seems to be, once again reaffirming its status as one of the world’s premier 10-mile races. Rich Brawn, in particular, enjoys the weekend as he gets to visit his brother Dave, who ran his 11th consecutive GSR and recorded an excellent PB of 1:07:48.

Plus, some of Rich’s old friends from his previous club, Dacorum & Tring, came down for the weekend as well so it was nice for him to catch up with them and have lunch with them afterwards. Rich will almost certainly be back at his favourite race again in 2020.

Dave and Rich Brawn at the Great South Run
The Great South Run always presents an opportunity for Rich to link up with his brother Dave who runs for Portsmouth Joggers


















Rob Spencer speeds to victory at Hoburne 5

Rob Spencer at the Hoburne 5
Rob Spencer has been in fine form of late and was, without a doubt, the man to beat when he lined up for the Hoburne 5

Just two weeks on from his commanding victory at the Littledown 5, Rob Spencer was back in 5-mile race action at the Hoburne 5 and hoping he might be able to make it a Dorset double for the distance.

It wasn’t going to be walk in the holiday park though for Rob as he faced stiff competition from the likes of Dom Willmore of Poole Runners, Barry Miller of Poole AC and Robin Copestick of New Forest Runners.

After recording a terrific new 5-mile PB of 28:06 at the Littledown 5 two weeks prior, Stu Nicholas knew he was also in shape to mount a challenge for the top placings.

The Hoburne 5 starts and finishes at Hoburne Holiday Park which is an excellent location for a race HQ. The course is predominantly flat, with a few mild inclines. It’s generally quite a fast course but features a fair few twists and turns which can disrupt the rhythm a touch.

It was quite windy on the day as well may have hampered the chances of a PB for the distance somewhat. Nothing much can slow Rob Spencer down though. He immediately hit the front and clocked the first mile at 5:30 pace. From then onwards, he got progressively faster.

There are some inclines on the second mile but Rob powered up them with no concerns, maintaining his pace well. He went through the next two miles at 5:28 pace before moving into a higher gear for the fourth mile and completing that in 5:19.

He wasn’t done yet though and managed to up the pace further in the fifth mile to a staggering 5:11. That gave him an excellent finishing time of 27:05 which was enough to see him through for the win.

Rob Spencer comes in for the win at the Hoburne 5
Rob Spencer manoeuvres toward the finish before sealing his second 5-mile race win in a month

It wasn’t quite as quick as his time of 26:39 at Littledown but was still another magnificent performance from Rob to add to his growing list of successes.

His margin of victory wasn’t as big as it was at Littledown either though as Dom Willmore did well to hang with him and crossed the line just 10 seconds later in a time of 27:15.

Another impressive display from Stu Nicholas saw him take third place in a time of 28:46. Again, it wasn’t quite as quick as his time at Littledown but considering the conditions, and the fact that there wasn’t quite as much competition for him at the sharp end of the field, it was a very good result for Stu.

Fourth place went to an unaffiliated runner in the shape of Stephen Nurrish who finished in a time of 29:40. He was the last man to get under 30 minutes.

Barry Miller of Poole AC took 5th place in a time of 30:34, with Robin Copestick finishing 6th in 30:41. Robin used to be a Bournemouth AC member several years ago and has made a return to running after a very lengthy injury lay-off. He’s even attended a couple of BAC training sessions recently and it’s been great to see him round the place again.

Stu Nicholas at the start of the Hoburne 5
Stu Nicholas is up at the front of the field as the runners make there way round the holiday park

The first female over the line was Gemma Russard of Lymington Triathlon Club. She finished in 15th place overall with a time of 32:50. She had a very healthy lead over the next two women to come in who were Kristina Varley of Littledown Harriers and Heather Butcher of New Forest Runners.

Kristina and Heather finished in 27th and 28th places with times of 37:20 and 37:39 respectively.

Joining Rob and Stu in the Hoburne 5 and also representing Bournemouth AC was Jud Kirk. Jud is something of a mainstay in the race having competed in it in each of the last six years dating back to 2014.

He completed the course in a time of 34:10 this time round, which put him in 19th place overall. That was a pretty decent run for Jud and was less than a minute off the time of 33:24 which he posted last year.

Jud Kirk storms along in the Hoburne 5
It was Jud Kirk’s sixth consecutive year at the Hoburne 5

Stu’s partner Anna Trehane also ran at the Hoburne 5 and she got over the line in a time of 39:46 which put her in 40th place overall. That was almost exactly a minute off her best 5-mile time.

The race is organised by Christchurch Runners and the run director Peter Wallis did an excellent job trying the drum up participation for the event. Since this year it wasn’t part of the Dorset Road Race League schedule they were significantly down on numbers in the months leading up the race.

In the end though, a total of 110 runners successfully completed the course so it wasn’t as bad a turn out as first feared. The timing of the race is quite good though since it’s the weekend before the Bournemouth Marathon Festival so it could be seen as an ideal warm up run ahead of the BMF.

The Hoburne 5 is a fantastic little local race though and it’s nice to see these events that have carried with them a good tradition over the years, still going strong. Hopefully more will sign up next year to get the numbers a little closer to what they should be for such a friendly and well organised race.

Rob Spencer leads the way in the Hoburne 5
It was another superb local race win to add to the collection for Rob Spencer





Phil and Steve find themselves in deep water at Gold Hill 10k

Flooding at Gold Hill 10k
Some sections of the Gold Hill 10k course resembled a canal more than they did a road due to severe flooding

If you’re going to go through the mire, as Bournemouth AC teammates Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons thought, why not go through it together. And that’s exactly what they had to do at this year’s somewhat extraordinary edition of the Gold Hill 10k.

It was the kind of race where swimming trunks, a snorkel and some flippers might have been more appropriate as opposed to road shoes and the standard BAC attire. Sadly they don’t make BAC swimming trunks though.

Originally it was Phil Cherrett’s bright idea to enter the race. He had an steady run for an hour or so planned in for Sunday morning and on the Friday afternoon, he suddenly remembered that Gold Hill was on.

The weather forecast for the weekend was awful and knowing he’d be more inclined to go out if he’d entered a race, Phil signed up for it. He then spent the next few hours persuading Steve to join him and in the end he reluctantly agreed. A nice steady run round Gold Hill… What could possibly go wrong?

When they arrived the area was shrouded in mist. In fact, the fog was so thick you couldn’t see more than 100 metres ahead. As they collected their numbers they were advised that there were some puddles out on the course.

At that point they didn’t see any reason for any major concerns. They thought they’d probably be fit enough to jump over them with a good run up. However, during the race briefing just before they set off they learned that the puddles were in fact shin to knee deep and they were actually 200 to 300 metres long!! Steve looked at Phil and he burst out laughing. This was going to be fun!

In fairness though, they weren’t really planning on running it quickly anyway and given that it was only Steve’s third run in three months after the Lytchett Relays and the Littledown 5, it was just a case of getting round and trying to enjoy it.

Having talked Steve into it, Phil kindly jogged alongside him and it actually turned out to be a rather fun morning. They settled into a sensible early pace and soon approached the iconic, cobbled climb.

Even at a very forgiving pace though, that is not an easy incline to negotiate. The next few kilometres were full of excitement and anticipation as they approached the flooded part of the course around half way through.

It was a fantastic moment as fellow runners and marshals very much got into the spirit of it as they waded through the water, laughing all the way. The water was freezing cold though and very deep in sections.

Steve Parsons wades through the water at the Gold Hill 10k
Steve Parsons trudges through the water which was almost knee deep in places

The second half of the Gold Hill 10k is when the climbs really begin and Phil thoroughly enjoyed his work alongside Steve. Two further flooded sections awaited them as well and once again, they were great fun.

It wasn’t the norm to be splashing around and playing during a race, but the plan for Phil and Steve was to just enjoy themselves so that’s exactly what they did.

Steve Parsons at the Gold Hill 10k
Steve gives a glance back to Phil as if to say… “What the hell have you gotten me into?”

Although they had to tackle the entire second half of the race with squelchy, soaked shoes, they kept on smiling and laughing about it as the progressed round the course.

It almost seemed a shame when they worked their way up the final climb and headed across the field to the finish. The pollyanna pair ended the race in 78th and 79th positions, each coming in in a time of 59:57.

It was 11 minutes slower than Steve’s time in the Gold Hill 10k last year but the times were not important. They will remember the run fondly when they look back on it and that’s the most important thing.

The chap who won the race somehow managed to get round in 36:33 which is an amazing time on that course on a normal day, let alone in those conditions.

As well as the flooded sections, the wet weather had made the downhill slopes very dicey as they were on country lanes and full of wet leaves and mud making for a slippery surface. Luckily Phil and Steve weren’t going flat out though so they didn’t have to take too many risks on the steep descents.

The marshals and volunteers all did a fantastic job in treacherous conditions and deserved high acclaim for the part they played. Phil enjoyed it so much that he’s already looking forward to next year’s race.

It was the third successive year Steve has done the Gold Hill 10k now and he’s slightly worried it’s becoming a tradition. It took him three days to be able to walk again properly after the race and it also took a good few days for his shoes to dry out. He’s hoping he’ll be able to use this a bit of a springboard to help him get back fit again.

Perhaps if they do do the race again next year they’ll have their wetsuits and flippers to hand. Just in case of a flood!

Steve Parsons & Phil Cherrett at the Gold Hill 10k
It wasn’t quite what they envisaged when they woke up on race day morning but Steve (left) and Phil (right) went with the flow and had fun anyway







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