All posts by Richard Brawn

Steve Parsons overcomes Larmer Tree turmoil to complete Imperial Series

Steve Parsons reaches the top of the hill in the Larmer Tree 10
Steve Parsons was looking to complete the Imperial Series but he had an uphill task ahead of him in the Larmer Tree 10 Miler

Sometimes in running things turn out to be more difficult that you first envisage. For instance, there might be unforeseen hurdles that stand in the way. Or perhaps you might underestimate the enormity of the challenge you have set yourself. Those are the times when you have to dig deep into your resolve though and find a way to get the job done.

When Steve Parsons entered the Imperial Series, which entailed running three 10-mile races in the space of four weeks, he probably thought, it’s going to be tough, but it should be fairly manageable.

Even though it’s only been just over a year since he did his first 10-mile race and hadn’t gone beyond the distance before that, Steve has come along way since.

In the first of the three 10-mile races, the Lytchett 10, Steve set himself a new PB of 74:02. That was a very pleasing result for Steve on an immensely tough and hilly course. That gave him every reason to be optimistic for the next race in the series, which was the Bournemouth 10.

Unfortunately for Steve though, it didn’t go so well that day and after the first half of the race went fairly smoothly, he really began to struggle in the second half and his body almost seemed to give up on him. He’d contracted a bad cold the day before the race and that might have just wiped out all the energy he had in the bank.

He made it through though, setting himself up with only the third and final race to complete before he takes home his Imperial Series medal. Unfortunately though, the one he had left was not such an easy one.

Steve Parsons in the Lytchett 10
The Imperial Series started off so well for Steve when he got a PB at the Lytchett 10

The Larmer Tree 10 is a very tricky, off-road course in the Wiltshire Downs. It’s held in the Rushmore Estate, a stunning and picturesque area of countryside, but one notorious for hills, mud and tough terrain. It was always going to be a battle, but Steve isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

Still feeling the after effects of his disappointing run at the Bournemouth 10, Steve hadn’t planned on pushing too hard at the Larmer Tree 10 and wanted to concentrate on just getting round in one piece.

Setting off at a relatively steady pace and going well for the first couple of miles, it wasn’t long before the long uphill section kicked in and Steve began to struggle.

There were a couple of hills on the course that were so steep, you just couldn’t run up them so everyone just walked. That combined with the boggy ground and uneven surfaces made it a far from pleasurable experience for Steve.

Steve Parsons in the Larmer Tree 10
Steve battled hard to make it to the top of the hill but found it very draining

To his credit though, Steve dug in and fought hard and after making it up a very tough hill in the 7th mile, he then found the strength to push hard for the remainder of the race and get to the end of the 10th mile. The only problem was, that wasn’t the end of the race. To Steve’s horror, he then realised that he still had quite a way to go to get to the finish line.

This narked him somewhat, to put it politely, and he walked up the last hill, possibly uttering one or two expletives as he did so. Then to make matters worse, he his legs cramped up along the last flat section into a horrific head-wind.

Suffice to say, it wasn’t really one of those races where you get out there and enjoy every moment. It was merely about survival for Steve. He just wanted to make it to the end, collect his medals and put it all behind him.

Hauling himself over the line in a time of 1:42:33, Steve took 75th place the overall standings and was 14th in the M35 category. A total of 468 people successfully completed the course, so even though he found it a real battle, he still finished reasonably high up considering.

Steve Parsons after Larmer Tree 10
Showing a lot of character, Steve made it to the finish in the end and was very relieved to pick up his medal and complete the set

When he looks back on his Imperial Series races, he’ll probably be proud of the achievement, although he may feel like he hasn’t really done himself justice in the two races after making such a promising start at the Lytchett 10.

On the plus side though, he now possesses four medals that he didn’t have four weeks ago, so that’s always a bonus.

Rob Spall grafting in the Larmer Tree 10
Other BAC members taking on the testing course included Rob Spall

Also in action for Bournemouth AC at the Larmer Tree 10, Rob Spall finished in 105th place, registering a time of 1:47:23. That put him 20th in the M45 category.

Although he found it very tough, especially with the two big leg-killing climbs thrown in, Rob enjoyed the run. It just meant going a bit slower than he normally would.

Rob Spall reaches the top of the hill in the Larmer Tree 10
Rob found the hills pretty tough going but he made it through, finishing in a time of 1:47:23

Another BAC member who didn’t have the best of days was Jud Kirk. He was suffering from a calf niggle which had become very painful after about a mile and a half.

Attempting to walk it off and stretch it out, it didn’t seem to be getting any better so he began to trudge back to the start. Then he suddenly thought, what the hell, it’s a nice scenic route, why not walk round. So that was what he did.

Jud Kirk in action in the Larmer Tree 10
Jud’s chances of doing well were severely hampered early on when the calf injury he had became extremely painful

He got chatting to some of the slower participants and after a while he discovered he could jog a bit, so from that point on, the chase was on. It turned out after six miles, he was okay running downhill but was unable to go uphill.

In the end, Jud made it the end, completing the course in 2:02:26 to finish in 225th place and 6th in the M60 category. Once the calf pain had reduced, his ankles and toes went purple and his lower leg swelled up to nearly double the size.

Jud Kirk battling it out at the Larmer Tree 10
For better or worse though, Jud soldiered on and with a run/walk/hobble strategy, he made it to the finish

Perhaps he shouldn’t have continued after all. He enjoyed the food and beer stops on route though and had a nice bacon bap at the end so that almost made it all worthwhile.

The winner of the race was Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders who crossed the line in a terrific time of 1:11:23. That put him almost nine minutes ahead of his nearest rival who was Stephen Williams of Littledown Harriers.

That also sealed victory in the overall Imperial Series competition for Lee after he finished 2nd in the Lytchett 10 and 5th in the Bournemouth 10.

Steve Parsons' medals and numbers for Imperial Series
The nice new gleaming set of bling Steve had now accrued for completing the Imperial Series was well worth the pain and strife

 

 

Craig and Tag steal the limelight at London’s Big Half

Rob McTaggart and Craig Palmer at the Vitality Big Half
After performing well in the event last year, Rob McTaggart and Craig Palmer were back at the Vitality Big Half hoping they might each be able to seal a seismic sub-70

Whilst much of the attention was focused around Mo Farah’s exploits at the front of the field at the Vitality Big Half, there were some far more interesting events happening slightly further back.

As the cameras for the BBC’s Red Button service switched back to Steph Twell who was leading the women’s race, there were a couple of familiar faces close by that the Dorset running fraternity would recognise.

Bournemouth AC‘s very own Craig Palmer was the man driving the pace of the group featuring Steph Twell and right alongside Steph for much of the early part of the race, was the unmistakable yellow and blue vest of Rob McTaggart.

The weekend didn’t get off to a great start for Craig when he arrived in London and realised he’d forgotten to being his BAC vest. That meant having to make a trip to the shops to buy a new one.

That made a noticeable difference throughout the race as he kept hearing Tag getting shout-outs because he was wearing his Bournemouth AC top and since he was just wearing a regular black vest, Craig missed out on all the benefits from that.

Both Tag and Craig competed in last year’s Big Half race, with Tag bringing home a fantastic new PB of 70:25 which put him in 34th place. Craig didn’t have quite such a good run but still ended up finishing in 51st place, finishing in a time of 71:20.

Could they go one better in this year’s race though and get that illusive sub-70 time to really put them up there with the elites. There was only one way to find out and that was to give it a try.

The Vitality Big Half is a great prelude to the London Marathon, covering much of the same ground but doing so in a reverse direction.

It’s also now the British Half Marathon Championships, guaranteeing a highly competitive field. A sub-75-minute half marathon on your CV gets you into the British Championships sector.

The proceedings got off to a slightly rocky start for Tag though as he hit the deck going round a corner on the third mile. It also just so happened that the BBC coverage had flipped back to Steph Twell at the time so Tag’s tumble was broadcast live to the watching millions.

Fortunately, his experiences of going to ground during various National and Southern Cross Country races in the past seemed to pay dividends as he was somehow able to bounce back up in one free-flowing movement and continue without losing any ground on the pack he was running with. There was even a suggestion that it may have just been a stunt for the cameras.

Craig and Tag appearing on the BBC Red Button coverage
Craig and Tag seemed to get more air time than Mo Farah as they featured heavily in the BBC Red Button coverage

The race rolled on through the streets of London, fast and furious, with Craig looking really strong at the front of the group and Tag looking fairly comfortable alongside Steph Twell. The pair stayed with Steph up until around the 10 mile point when they began to edge away.

Steph was starting to struggle a bit without the BAC boys around to pace her and her lead soon looked under threat. Charlotte Purdue was closing the gap on her fast and once she caught Steph up and breezed past her there was only going to be one winner in the women’s race.

Craig and Tag in a pack during the Vitality Big Half
Craig and Tag were in a competitive pack near the front of the race

Finishing with some super-strong miles in the latter stages of the race, Craig went on secure a stunning new PB time of 69:37, putting him in 32nd place.

The last two miles were a death march for Tag but he could see that a sub-70 was still within reach. He knew the pace of those last two miles would have to be quick though to stand any chance of doing it.

Craig Palmer completing the Vitality Big Half
Craig makes a final push to the line to record a spectacular time of 69:37

When he got to the line he was overjoyed to see that he’d finished in a time of what he thought was 69:58. His heart then sank for a minute when Craig’s official time came through and they’d rounded it up by two seconds. If the same thing had happened to Tag, he would have kicked off. To miss out on a sub-70 after all that would have been devastating.

When his time did come through though, it was confirmed as 69:57, which was a cracking result for Tag, putting him in 41st place in the overall standings.

Tag races toward the finish of the Vitality Big Half
Tag races toward the finish line in last gasp bid to nip under the 70 minute barrier

To hit that level of performance and get such great times despite the windy conditions bodes extremely well for Tag and Craig’s prospects at the London Marathon.

In fact, if anything, Craig was actually a touch disappointed with his time as he feels that on a calmer day, he could have done it in 68:30. That shows the sort of high standards he sets for himself.

The only thing missing from Craig’s perspective, besides his BAC vest of course, was the beers afterwards. He had to do a five-to-six mile cool down afterwards so there was no opportunity to celebrate with a nice cold one.

In this kind of form though it will certainly be interesting to see what Craig and Tag can achieve on marathon day. One thing is for sure though and that is that they’ll find their way into the spotlight one way or the other and Craig has vowed to ensure he remembers his club vest for next time.

Rob McTaggart and Craig Palmer after the Vitality Big Half
This was just a taste of things to come for Tag and Craig as they build up to the London Marathon at the end of April

 

 

 

 

 

Caroline Rowley achieves Six Star status at Tokyo Marathon

Caroline Rowley after the Tokyo Marathon
In the final piece of her World Marathon Major jigsaw, Caroline Rowley was taking on the Tokyo Marathon in a bid to secure that coveted ‘Six Star Medal’

The Abbot World Marathon Major ‘Six Star Medal’ is something most runners could only dream about. The prospect of running the London, Berlin, Boston, New York, Chicago and Tokyo Marathons almost seems like a fantasy. It’s a great idea in theory, but in practice it’s often unattainable.

However, if you want something bad enough, nothing is unattainable, and one lady who has proved that is Bournemouth AC’s very own globetrotting marathon enthusiast Caroline Rowley.

As the date of the 2019 Tokyo Marathon came around, it was set to be one of great significance to Caroline. It was indeed her 6th World Marathon Major, meaning she was in line to pick up her ‘Six Star Medal’. It was going to be a momentous occasion for Caroline – and one that even she herself couldn’t quite believe was about to happen.

Of course she had the small matter of completing the Tokyo Marathon first. The ‘Six Star Medal’ isn’t something that just gets given out willy-nilly. You have to earn it. Like she had done on the previous five occasions though, Caroline was more than willing to do that.

Although it’s a huge marathon, with over 35,000 people taking part, there were actually over 330,000 applicants wanting on it, so that gives an indication of just how popular to Tokyo Marathon is and how difficult it is to get a place.

Somehow, she managed it though and Caroline took to the start line knowing once she’s completed the 26.2 miles, she would be awarded one of the most coveted pieces of silverware in running folklore.

The back of Caroline Rowley'd Bournemouth AC top from the Tokyo Marathon
Caroline had her World Marathon Major list printed on the back of her Bournemouth AC vest for the Tokyo Marathon

It was never going to be about time for Caroline in this particular marathon. Her achievement was an altogether different one than going for a specific target time. In a way, it went beyond that. It was about the experience.

Each one of the six World Marathon Majors she’d completed was about the experience. Travelling across the world, meeting so many different people and getting a taste of so many differing cultures.

That said, whenever she pulls on the yellow and blue, she has a natural inclination to give it her best and put everything she’s got into it and this occasion was no different.

Starting off at a good but conservative pace, Caroline went through the 5k point in 29 minutes and 42 seconds. She then arrived at the 10k stage in 1:01:05. The next 5k was her fastest of the race, getting her to the 15k point in 1:30:29.

As she continued on, she kept a remarkably consistent pace, reaching the 20k point in 2:00:53 and going on to arrive at the half way maker in 2:07:51.

Reaching 25k in 2:32:08, it then began to get a little tougher for Caroline and her pace slipped slightly. She arrived at the 30k point in 3:04:11 before arriving at the 35km marker 33-and-a-half minutes late. It was then onto the final 5k checkpoint, where she registered a time of 4:12:47 for 40km.

It was only a short distance from there and Caroline soon found herself racing down the finishing straight. She’d done it. The dream had been realised and it was a fantastic moment for Caroline.

Crossing the line in 4 hours 27 minutes and 11 seconds, Caroline has taken 14,151st place. That put her in 2,208th place out of 8,202 women and 2,811th out of 6,328 in the 45-49 age category. Out of the British runners taking part, she was 270th out of 451.

Caroline Rowley with her Six Star Major Marathon Medal
Caroline proudly parades her Tokyo Marathon medal along with her prestigious World Marathon Major ‘Six Star Medal’

None of those stats really mattered to Caroline in the grand scheme of things though. What really mattered was putting that tick in the box next to name of her final World Marathon Major.

She was elated to have done it and to have realised her dream of completing all six of the World Marathon Majors. It had been a quite incredible journey that had seen Caroline combine her love of running with the opportunity to spend time in six wonderful cities.

The challenge for Caroline began back in 2013 when she completed the London Marathon in a time of 3:20:20. She didn’t even know back then though that that would form a piece of a much bigger jigsaw.

It was only after she ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 that she found about the ‘Six Star Medal’. From that moment on, the challenge was set.

A year later she would make the journey to Germany to conquer the Berlin Marathon, without even hitting the wall in the process. It was then New York in 2017 and her penultimate World Marathon Major of Chicago in 2018.

After spending some time in Tokyo, exploring the delights of what she found to be a beautiful city, Caroline returned to Bournemouth as World Marathon Major legend, adding her name to that prestige list of runners fortunate enough and dedicated enough to have managed to complete all six.

She hung her ‘Six Star Medal’ up alongside each of the six individual medals from each marathon, taking pride of place on the wall and serving as a reminder of some great times, some amazing experiences and a truly remarkable achievement.

Caroline Rowley's World Marathon Major medal rack
Caroline’s impressive medal rack was completed with the edition of the Tokyo Marathon and ‘Six Star’ medals

 

 

 

Chris, Helen and Rich Brawn in Half Marathon action

Rich Brawn at the Berkhamsted Half Marathon
Rich Brawn returned to his old stomping ground to battle it out at the Berkhamsted Half Marathon, whilst Chris O’Brien and Helen Ambrosen took on the Oakhaven Hlf Marathon

As the stormy weather raged on, so did the running, as marathon season entered an excitingly busy phase for runners up and down the country. 177 participants turned out for the Oakhaven Half Marathon in the New Forest, including Chris O’Brien and Helen Ambrosen from Bournemouth AC.

On that same day, Richard Brawn had travelled back to his roots to get reacquainted with the venue of his first ever half marathon, Berkhamsted, in Hertfordshire.

Back then Rich completed the course in just under 1 hour 35 minutes. That was a fair few years ago now though and he’s seen a steady curve of improvement since then and was hoping to better his time of 1 hour 25 minutes from the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon last August.

Using Oakhaven as a marathon paced training run, Chris O’Brien knew exactly what he wanted to achieve out of the race. What he hadn’t factored in though was the lack of a marshal at one key turning point on the course near mile 11.

Chris O'Brien in the Oakhaven Half Marathon
Chris O’Brien was setting out to run the Oakhaven Half at his marathon pace

That meant a lead group of around 15 runners ended up doing an extra two miles as well as taking a bit of additional time stopping to try to figure out where to go.

Fortunately it didn’t matter too much to Chris, since he wasn’t really racing it for a position anyway – and in fact, it may have actually worked in his favour, getting an extra couple of miles in. He successfully achieved his target pace, completing the course, along with his additional detour, in a time of 1:45:39.

That put him in 10th place on the day and 3rd in the Vet 40 Male category. His average pace for the 14.88 miles he ran worked out as 7:05 per mile.

Chris O'Brien finishes the Oakhaven Half Marathon
Although he’d completed an extra two miles due to missing a turning, Chris managed to hit his target pace

As for Helen Ambrosen, she also saw Oakhaven as the perfect stage for a good training run, enjoying the scenic surroundings despite the wet and windy conditions.

Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time the race began and the route was fairly sheltered, until they got out onto the exposed airfield at least.

It was a fairly flat course across gravel and stony trails. Helen ran well, reaching the finish line in a time of 2:01:20, which put her in 83rd place overall.

Helen Ambrosen in the Oakhaven Half Marathon
Helen Ambrosen ran well to complete the Oakhaven Half Marathon in 2:01:20

She was 25th lady on the day and took 3rd place in the Vet 60 Female category. That capped off a very good week of running for Helen which saw her exceed 50 miles in total.

The race was won by Paul Russhard in a time of 1:21:24, with James Baker of Chichester Runners taking 2nd in 1:25:08. The first lady over the line was Emilia Montagu-Scott who finished two seconds ahead of Chris, taking 9th place in a time of 1:45:37.

Helen Ambrosen at the Oakhaven Half Marathon
The race marked the end of a high mileage week for Helen as she continued with her tough schedule

In the Berkhamsted Half Marathon, the conditions weren’t as bad as they had been in previous days and the wind had died down a little, providing the potential for a decent run.

Using it as a marathon training run, Rich was hoping to get some additional miles in before and after the race as well. He hadn’t actually officially entered the race yet but knew there would be entries on the day so just rocked up on the morning of the race to acquire a race number.

He managed to get four easy miles in before the start of the race and was feeling in pretty good shape despite having completed the Bramley 20 the weekend before as well a tough marathon schedule session on the Tuesday.

Knowing it was a tough, hilly course, Rich had to be careful not to overcook it in the first couple of miles. There was a massive hill on the third mile which he knew would be tricky to negotiate.

Taking it pretty steadily up the hill, Rich did get overtaken by a few runners but he knew he couldn’t afford to take too much out of himself on that hill as there were a few other ups and downs to come afterwards.

Rich Brawn in the Berkhamsted Half Marathon
Rich knew the Berkhamsted Half course well and was aware there were some tough hills to contend with

Managing to pick the pace back up again in the 5th and 6th mile it was then onto Asheridge and another testing climb on the 7th mile. Up until then, Rich had had the first lady, Rachel Doherty, right behind him.

It was at this point in the race though that Rich started to feel really strong and he began to pull away from Rachel and started to reel in and catch other runners in front of him.

Once he’d gone through 10 miles, Rich began to feel like he could really afford to put everything he had left into the last few miles. Just before the 11th mile he caught and overtook Tom Dixon, who runs for his Dad’s club, Chiltern Harriers.

Rich’s Dad had come out on his bike to watch the race and was there to support him at a number of different spots on the course which served as a great encouragement to Rich.

The final climb on the 12th mile was tough to get up and Rich really had to dig in and show some steely determination. Knowing that the last mile was all downhill though did help and Rich began to accelerate in the final stretch toward the finish, flying past several of the 5-mile fun runners as he did.

Rich Brawn taking on the Berkhamsted Half Marathon
Rich started to feel good at around the 7 mile point and began to progress through the field

Crossing the line in a time of 1:23:40, Rich was very pleased to secure a PB, improving on his previous best by one-and-a-half minutes. That put him in 21st place out of over 1,000 competitors.

After the race, Rich did another four easy miles as a warm down run, brining his total mileage for the day up to 21 miles. That was not a bad morning’s work for Rich and he was very glad to have made the trip.

It was also a good confidence booster for Rich and helped reassure him that his marathon training is going well and that he’s on track for a good tilt at a sub-3 in London at the end of April.

After the race Rich bumped into a few friendly faces from his previous club of Dacorum & Tring as well, who he ran for when he was living in Hemel Hempstead a few years back so that was another positive that came out of it as well.

Plus there was the added lure of one his mum’s home cooked roast dinners afterwards. He knew it was always important to replenish the calories after a hard training run anyway.

Rich Brawn going well in the Berkhamsted Half Marathon
It was a good confidence boosting PB for Rich as he continued his preparations for London

 

BAC stars weather the storm at the windswept Wimborne 20

Steve Way takes on the Wimborne 20
Continuing his quest towards Comrades, Steve Way was one of several Bournemouth AC runners viewing the Wimborne 20 as a piece of a much bigger puzzle

With some members preparing for Spring marathons, some striving toward those much coveted Comrades medals and others simply wanting to test themselves over a longer distance, the Wimborne 20 provided an outlet for many Bournemouth AC runners to assess their form as the winter regime roars on.

The opportunity was of course taken away last year when the race was snowed off, playing havoc with the marathon preparations for a lot of runners. Ironically, it went on to be one of the hottest London Marathons on record less than two months later.

The entries for this year’s race were carried over though so those who missed out last year and had to settle for a day of sledging and building snowmen instead got the chance to take their place this time round.

The Wimborne 20 is run along the rural, scenic roads of Wimborne, featuring an undulating profile that is a challenge in itself on any ordinary day. With storm Freya passing over though, there was the added caveat of strong winds and persistent rain to contend with, making conditions tricky for the 232 runners taking to the start line.

Amongst those taking part were Steve Way and Ant Clark who will both be featuring in the Comrades Marathon this summer and are currently undergoing rigorous schedules with that in mind.

They were planning to run together along with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC, the club who were hosting the race. Unfortunately that plan went out the window when Ant was stuck in a long queue for the portaloos before the start of the race.

Just as he finally managed to get in there, the race organisers decided to pull everyone out of the queue and get proceedings underway. Unfortunately, those who were currently occupying the portaloos at the time were unaware of this and they got left behind as the race began.

That left Ant playing catch up as he got out and suddenly realised everyone had gone off without him. He then had to revert to plan B, which was just to get round at a reasonable pace without his hamstring giving him any cause for concern.

Thankfully, he successfully managed to achieve that, keeping a good steady pace throughout the run, crossing the line in a time of 2 hours 5 minutes and 41 seconds. That gave him an average pace of 6:18 per mile and put him in 5th place.

Ant Clark at the Wimborne 20
Ant Clark’s original plan was flushed down the pan when the race started without him, leaving him to play catch-up

Just up the road, Steve and Chris had already completed the course, with Steve taking 3rd place in a time of 2:02:08. That put his average pace at an impressive 6:06 per mile. Chris filtered in shortly after to take 4th in a time of 2:02:14.

Although that would be a terrific run for most runners, Steve wasn’t overly pleased with his performance and had expected to be going faster than that in a hard 20-mile training run.

Steve Way in the Wimborne 20
Steve completed the course in 2:02:08, putting him in 3rd place

His heart rate told him that he was working hard enough though so he knew he couldn’t afford to go any faster. Otherwise, it would have been likely to have an adverse effect on his training in the aftermath.

At the moment he’s not feeling as strong as he perhaps was at this point last year but since the Comrades Marathon doesn’t take place until June, there’s still plenty of time for Steve to pull it round and get back on track.

Steve Way races to 3rd in the Wimborne 20
Although he didn’t run as well as he would have liked, it was a decent effort from Steve in some very trying conditions

No less than six Bournemouth AC women were in action at the Wimborne 20, with Emma Caplan, Nikki Sandell, Gemma Bragg, Kirsty Drewett, Estelle Slatford and Sam Laws all taking to the start line.

Currently training for the Boston Marathon in Lincolnshire which she’ll be taking part in in April, Emma Caplan was looking to run the Wimborne 20 in a progressive fashion.

Looking towards the London Marathon on the last weekend of April, Nikki Sandell was hoping for a smooth run to help her build some momentum and get her training moving in the right direction.

As for Gemma Bragg, she was just doing it for fun really. It would be furthest she’d ran for over year though, since she picked up a bad injury that kept her on the side-lines for quite some time.

She was really pleased to be in a position to put herself up for this kind of distance and it would represent another big milestone in her journey back to top form.

The three of them ran together for the first 10 miles of the race, having a good old natter as they went along. Emma then began to ramp up the pace, showing great strength and moving through the field well in the second half of the race.

Emma Caplan in the Wimborne 20
After running conservatively for the first half of the race, Emma cranked the pace up a notch for the second half and ran strongly

In the end she capped off a superb negative split to finish as 3rd lady in a time of 2:24:38, putting her in 43rd position overall. She was also 1st woman in the V40 category.

Emma has certainly been putting the mileage in in training of late and has remained remarkably disciplined in her racing, using all her experience to ensure she’s in the best shape she can be for her target race.

Also running a really good second half of the race, Gemma Bragg arrived at the line as 5th placed lady, registering an excellent time of 2:26:41. That put her 48th overall.

Gemma Bragg in the Wimborne 20
It was the furthest she’d ran for quite some time but Gemma Bragg made it look easy, cruising over the line as 5th placed lady

Gemma was surprised at how comfortable she found it having not run that far for such a long time. That certainly bodes well for her future prospects as she continues to progress.

Finishing as 10th placed woman, Nikki Sandell completed the course in a time of 2:32:34. It wasn’t quite as quick as she’d hoped for so she was a tad disappointed with the run and felt that she should have been able to crank the pace up more the second half of the race.

Nikki Sandell in the Wimborne 20
Nikki Sandell didn’t quite have the run she wanted but she got it done in a respectable time and that was the most important thing

There’s still a while to go before she does her marathon though so if she can get some god solid training in between now and then, she may still be able to get close to where she needs be come race day.

Nikki Sandell comes round the corner in the Wimborne 20
Nikki was hoping that the Wimborne 20 would help her turn a corner with her training for the London Marathon

Also remaining close to each other throughout the race, Kirsty Drewett and Estelle Slatford ended up finishing in 162nd and 164th places respectively.

Kirsty really enjoyed the course and said she’d definitely recommend the event as a first foray into a longer road run. There were lots of water stations on route and the fact it was a lapped course makes it less lonely for those at the back of the field.

Her time of 3:05:05 made Kirsty 49th placed lady and 12th in the V40 category.

Kirsty Drewett in the Wimborne 20
Kirsty Drewett refused to let storm Freya dampen her spirits at the Wimborne 20

Currently in training for the London Marathon, Estelle had reservations going into the race, both about the weather and about the fact that it was a three lap route, meaning she might be tempted to stop at two laps.

As it panned out though, the three-lapped course worked out quite well as it meant, after completing the first lap, she knew exactly what to expect going forward.

Since it was quite a hilly course, she wasn’t trying to keep to a certain pace, she was just running it on how she felt and that she was able to just keep going. It was nice to have Kirsty for company most of the way as well.

Estelle’s time of 3:05:43 made her 50th female on the day and 13th in the V40 category. Last year Estelle had to defer her entry to the London Marathon due to injury so she will be looking forward to having a good stab at it this Spring.

Estelle Slatford in the Wimborne 20
Estelle was able to push on through despite the testing hills and treacherous conditions to finish in 3:05:43

Joining Estelle on the start line at London will be Sam Laws who managed to secure a place via the ballot, much to her delight. Since January, she’s been working to a very rigorous training routine in a bid to get herself in the best possible shape for it and give herself a chance of a sub-four-hour finish.

Fighting well in a less than ideal conditions at the Wimborne 20, Sam managed not to get blown away by the wind and enjoyed the camaraderie between her fellow runners as she went along.

Crossing the line in an excellent time of 3:16:28, Sam recorded a new PB for the 20-mile distance and had every reason to be pleased with her efforts.

She was 69th placed lady and came 6th in the women’s V45 category. There were sure signs that the hard training she’s been putting in his beginning to pay off and she’s well on the road toward achieving her target in the big event.

Sam Laws at the Wimborne 20
Saw Laws has certainly been working hard in training of late and her run showed the signs of progression she was looking for

The race was won by Michael Gregory of Stubbington Green, finishing in a time of 2:01:24. He was followed by James Gilfillan who went over the line in 2:01:43 to take 2nd place.

The clear winner in the ladies race was Erica Fogg of New Forest Runners who registered a time of 2:20:12 to take 30th place overall. Francesca Rawlings of Clevedon was 2nd female in 2:23:14 which put her 37th in the overall standings.

The following day, Ant Clark did his bit for the environment, going round the course again with Chris Wood and the rest of the Wimborne AC crew to collect up all the empty bottles of drink and gel wrappers that had been cast aside by the competitors during the race.

Ant Clark picking up litter the day after the Wimborne 20
After a rubbish start to the race, Ant managed to get a decent run out of it in the end and even went round the course again the next day to help tidy up the neighbourhood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Hillier and friend make the journey at the Pilgrim Challenge

Mark KIngswell and Mark Hillier at the Pilgrim Challenge
Mark Hillier (right) accompanied his friend Mark Kingswell (left) in his first ever ultra at the two-day, 66 mile Pilgrim Challenge

This time last year Mark Hillier was taking on the Pilgrim Challenge as a training run in preparation for the Marathon des Sables. That meant running the entirety of the course with a heavy backpack to simulate how it would be when he battles the toughest footrace on earth.

This time round though his goals were very different. He was aiming to complete it with a friend of his, Mark Kingswsell, who only took up running a mere 12 months ago. What he’s achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of amazing.

The Pilgrim Challenge is a 66-mile race split over two days and is run across the picturesque North Downs Way. The route follows the footsteps of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury in ancient times, featuring stunning landscapes steeped in history.

Day 1 was very much a winter wonderland with a few inches of snow on the ground for the first 15 or so miles. It was a truly beautiful scene to run through.

Snowy scenery at Pilgrim Challenge
Conditions were all white as the two marks set off on their Pilgrims journey

Once up and over Box Hill, it was the inevitable thick slippery mud that greeted you. It was difficult to walk on in sections, let alone run. Mark and his friend Mark made it through the day unscathed though and were in high spirits when they reached the finish and were ready for some serious food!

The two Marks completed the first 33 miles in 7 hours 33 minutes and 32 seconds putting them in 119th and 120th places after Day 1. The task now was, first and foremost, to get through the second day and secondly, to try to either improve or maintain their positions in the standings.

Because the Pilgrim Challenge often represents a final multi-day training session for those heading over to Morocco for the Marathon des Sables, during the evening the organisers had arranged for some speakers to come and share insight in to their experiences of preparing for and running multi-day races. Much like last year, Mark found it very interesting to listen to.

Overnight temperatures had dipped down to a few degrees below zero and, since they were setting off at 9am on Day 2 for the return leg back to Farnham, they knew there would be a good chance that those muddy sections would be frozen and rutted. That meant, in theory, they should be easier to manage.

Church at Pilgrim Challenge
The two Marks were praying that the low temperatures might harden up some of the mud but knew they would still have to dig in to make it to the end

The weather was beautiful again on Day 2 and the views across the North Downs were absolutely stunning.

At one of the checkpoints, Mark was surprised to find that one of my tent mates from the Marathon des Sables, Derry Whitehead, was marshalling. It was great to see him again for Mark and brought back a lot of amazing memories from the MdS. It was also very appropriate that he was there at the end of the event to present Mark with his medal.

Completing the 33 miles on Day 2 in 8 hours 27 minutes and 55 seconds, Mark and Mark came in 121st and 122nd places on the day, so that was pretty much in line with where they were on Day 1.

Their total combined time for the two days and thus, the full 66 miles, was 16 hours 1 minute and 27 seconds, giving them final positions of 120th and 121st places. That was out of a field of 161 participants.

Mark KIngswell and Mark Hillier at the Pilgrim Challenge
The two Marks ran the entirety of the race together, finishing in 120th and 121st places in a time of 16 hours 1 minute and 27 seconds

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience for Mark. Completing 66 miles in two days was the biggest challenge to date for his running friend Mark and crossing the finishing line together, still smiling, was what it was all about.

Next up for Mark is a race called The Oner, which is organised by Brutal Events. It takes place  in mid April and consists of an 82-mile course with over 10,000 feet of climbing along the South West Coastal Path.

That makes it the longest non-stop event that he’s ever attempted. He actually considers it to be a tougher test than the Marathon des Sables and with a 50% DNF rate, he’s genuinely scared about the event. You don’t know what you’re truly capable of unless you try it though and he can’t wait to be on the start line.

Mark Hillier and Derry Whitehead at Pilgrim Challenge
Mark (left) bumped into an old friend of his, Derry Whitehead, who he met at the Marathon des Sables last year

BAC represented by trio at National Cross Country Championships

Georgia Wood in the National Cross Country Championships
Georgia Wood was one of three Bournemouth AC members present at the National Cross Country Championships for 2019 which were held at Harewood House Estate near Leeds

It’s the toughest, most competitive and most daunting race of the entire cross country season. It’s the one that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. It’s the ultimate test of strength, character, grit and determination.

All of those things would be needed in abundance at the National Cross Country Championships, which this year was held at Harewood House Estate near Leeds.

Unfortunately, with the event sandwiched between the Lytchett 10 and the Bournemouth 10 league races and considering it was such a long trip up north, it didn’t attract too many Bournemouth AC members this time round.

The club did, however, have some representation in the men’s and women’s senior races. Stuart Glenister was action in the men’s race, whilst Georgia Wood and Annette Lewis took part in the women’s.

The senior women had an 8km course to contend with on a two-lap route. The profile of the course was brutal, with hills aplenty – enough to put even the most accomplished of runners through their paces.

Putting in a terrific performance, Georgia Wood finished the race in a superfast time of 32 minutes and 43 seconds which landed her in 83rd place out of 1,034 runners.

Georgia Wood in the National Cross Country Championships
Georgia Wood was one of three Bournemouth AC members present at the National Cross Country Championships for 2019 which were held at Harewood House Estate near Leeds

Given the extraordinarily high standard of the event, that was a cracking result for Georgia and showed she really has the ability to mix it with some of the top female athletes in the country.

Although she struggled on some of the hills, Annette absolutely loved the course and said she would definitely be keen to race there again. Finishing in 930th place, Annette registered a time of 50 minutes 37 seconds.

Annette Lewis in the National Cross Country Championships
Despite the ma many testing hills, Annette really enjoyed the course and said she’d love to race there again

The men’s course was 12km long and with the amount of hills there were to scale, it was always going to be an energy sapper. Stu enjoyed the stunning location though and the atmosphere which set the tone for an incredible race.

After powering his way up the first hill, Stu somehow managed to keep on the throttle throughout the race, despite the constant undulations.

Ending with an almighty sprint finish, Stu collapsed over the line and crawled away, very proud of his efforts. One thing is for sure, he certainly left it all out there – and that’s something you can always guarantee from Stu.

Stu Glenister racing hard in the National Cross Country Championships
Stu Glenister fought hard on the hills to keep a good pace going throughout the race

Registering a time of 51:09, Stu finished up in 1,158th place in a field of 2008. That was a superb result given the high calibre of the athletes he was up against.

After the race he did contact England Athletics to enquire about the results but was told that, despite the fact that the race was chip timed, there wouldn’t be any age groupings.

Stu Glenister in the National Cross Country Championships
Stu is always 100% committed to his races and he certainly gave everything he could at the National XC Champs

That was a little disappointing for Stu as he would have loved to have seen how he compared with other vets but sadly it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, he was still delighted with his run.

The senior men’s race was won by Mahamed Mahemad of Southampton in a time of 36:34, with Emile Cairess taking 2nd in 36:35 and Carl Avery 3rd in 37:04.

In the senior women’s race, Emily Hosker Thornhill came out on top in a time of 28:17, with Philippa Woolven 2nd in 28:28 and Jessica Judd 3rd in a time of 28:52.

Stu Glenister at the National Cross Country Championships
Stu celebrates an excellent performance, proudly holding aloft the Dorset flag as he does so

 

 

Craig cracks course record as BAC boss Bournemouth 10

Bournemouth AC team at Bournemouth 10
A very strong squad had been put together by team captain Rich Nelson for the Bournemouth 10 in the hope that both the men’s and women’s teams could challenge for the win

Coming off the back of a hard fought victory at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier, the Bournemouth AC squad arrived at the Pier looking to cement their place at the top of the Dorset Road Race League table in a race that essentially qualifies as they’re home fixture.

The Bournemouth 10 is organised by Honorary Treasurer Ian White, with the help of many other budding club members who turn out in their droves to help out.

It was an early start for all those involved in setting up the event, with race kicking off at 8:30 in the morning. The scheduling was designed in an effort to reduce traffic issues on the road and minimise the disruption from other promenade users as 700 eager Dorset club runners pour along the seafront in a stampede of biblical proportions.

With the race providing a good outlet for spring marathon runners to find out where their fitness levels are at, it’s usually not a problem for Bournemouth AC to get a quality, competitive line-up out.

Last year’s race saw a one, two, three for the yellow and blue army, with Steve Way taking the win in a new course record time and Rob McTaggart and Josh Cole following shortly after.

Steve and Tag were both in action again, with Steve once again undergoing a rigorous training programme for the Comrades Marathon in  June and Tag looking to sharpen up his speed for another tilt at the London Marathon.

After their impressive performances at the Chichester 10k earlier in the month, Dave Long and Craig Palmer were also in the mix, bolstering a BAC squad brimming with talent and expertise.

It was certainly needed though with the likes of Iain Trickett, Chris Alborough, Lee Dempster and Chris Wood all looking to contend for the top placings. It looked set to be an absolute corker of a race.

There was also a very strong looking ladies team out for BAC as well, with Emma Caplan and Gemma Bragg both included in the ranks. They were joined by Alison Humphrey who was making a comeback for the club after a hiatus of several years.

All the foundations were in place for a day to remember for BAC and as it turned out, the event did not disappoint. In a stark contrast to last year’s race, it was actually a fairly warm day, and with the wind speed not especially high, the runners couldn’t really have hoped for better conditions on a February morning.

As the race got underway, all the usual suspects were at the front of the field, engaging in a game of cat and mouse as they made their way along the promenade from Bournemouth Pier towards Southbourne.

Start of the Bournemouth 10
A star studded line up including Tag, Dave Long and Steve Way get their 2019 Bournemouth 10 race underway

The runners got their first taste of the watching crowds as they approached Boscombe Pier and then sped down the ramp on the other side in the direction of Hengistbury Head.

As the front runners edged closer to Southbourne, it was Dave Long who plucked up the courage to take the race on. After his stunning sub-50 display at the Great South Run in October, if anyone out there had the pedigree to push the pace a little it was him.

Lead pack head down promenade in Bournemouth 10
The lead group make their way down the promenade with several BAC members in the mix

With Steve, Tag and Craig all following in the group behind though, it was always going to difficult for Disco to gain any sort of advantage that would be likely to prove decisive.

He was soon reeled in by the chasing pack and it was then Steve, Tag and Craig who took to the front as they began to make their way around the houses in area between Hengistbury Head and Southbourne.

Lead group in the Bournemouth 10
As they came off the promenade Tag, Steve and Craig were all right up there with Lee Dempster driving the pace

The route then veered up the Southbourne Coastal Road and onto the Overcliff, where it then headed back towards Boscombe. It was on that section of the course that Steve began to ramp up the pace and pull away from Tag and Josh.

He wasn’t feeling quite as strong this year though and it turned out to be Craig who began edge in the lead. After sealing a marvellous victory at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier, despite having run an additional lap of the course beforehand, it was clear that he was in terrific shape.

BAC lead train in Bournemouth 10
The BAC lead train make their way round the corner with Craig ramping up the pace, followed by Tag and Steve

Doing his best to hang onto Craig’s coat-tails, Tag was the only person who seemed to be able to live with the ferocious pace Craig was setting.

Unfortunately for Tag though, his chances giving Craig a run for his money ended when he got a stitch and had to stop and wait for a bit to try and get rid of it.

Craig then began to accelerate away and it looked like he may well be home and dry for the victory. Steve then came past Tag when he whilst he was pulled up, as did Matt Papa of Egdon Heath Harriers who was doing a very good job of staying with the BAC boys.

Once Tag got going again, he set about trying to catch Steve and Matt in a bid to regain his second spot.

As for Craig, it was now a race against the clock. There was a £50 bounty on it for anyone who managed to beat the course record, for both men and women. That was now in Craig’s sights as he progressed along the final section of the race which was along the promenade from Boscombe to Bournemouth Pier.

Could he do it though? Did he have enough in the tank to topple Steve Way’s course record of 55:13? And the answer was of course, yes. Reaching the line in a phenomenal time of 55:01, Craig had secured himself a new fastest ever Bournemouth 10 time.

It was a truly great run from Craig and managing a super strong negative split as he began to up the pace throughout the second half of the race giving him an average pace of 5:28.

The race also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles which meant that Craig had also earned the accolade of becoming the county champion.

Craig Palmer was the winner of the Bournemouth 10
It was a wheely good day for Craig as he took 1st place, set a new course record and became country champion

Meanwhile, Tag had succeeded in chasing down Steve and Matt and he arrived at the finish in 2nd place, clocking an excellent time of 55:24, in spite of the stoppage.

Just managing to beat Steve to the line for third place and disrupt what would have otherwise been a BAC one-two-three for the second year running, Matt Papa crossed the line in 55:34. Steve was forced to settle for 4th place on this occasion with his time of 55:37.

Next over the line, it was Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders who finished in a time of 55:50, with Chris Alborough of Poole AC taking 6th in 56:17.

Tag took 2nd place in the Bournemouth 10
Tag had a good run to take 2nd place, although Craig was a little less impressed with his arm warmers

Iain Trickett was 7th in 56:23, with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC and Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat taking 8th and 9th, both registering a time of 56:33.

Making it a fourth BAC member in the top ten, Stu Nicholas secured a brilliant new 10 mile PB, beating his time Bournemouth 10 time of 2016 by three seconds.

That was a fantastic result for Stu, particularly as it was only two weeks since he successfully completed four marathons in four days at the Enigma Quadzilla, finishing up as joint winner of the event.

Stu Nicholas in the Bournemouth 10
Stu Nicholas secured a top-ten finish and an excellent new 10-mile PB of 56:51

Not quite managing to hit the heights of his GSR glory, Dave Long had to be content with 13th place on this occasion, reaching the line in a time of 58:02.

The men’s course record wasn’t the only one to go on the day though. Emma Caplan’s time of 1:01:13 from 2016 was also under threat, with Jen Elkins having an incredible run.

Completing the course in a staggering time of 58:26, Jen took 14th place overall and of course, the prize for first lady. That meant Ian White’s pockets were now £100 lighter after the readies he’d already had to cough up for Craig.

Another superb run from Mitch Griffiths saw him secure a sub-60 for the first time ever, taking 20th place in a time of 59:40. Given it’s not the quickest course ever and the fact that he’s deep in the midst of his marathon training, that was a terrific result for Mitch and a really positive sign of progression.

Mitch Griffiths in the Bournemouth 10
Mitch Griffiths has been excelling since pulling on a BAC vest and he delivered a magnificent sub-60 performance to take 20th place

A small group of Bournemouth AC runners finished quite close to each other in between the 1:01:20 and 1:01:50 times, with Ollie Stoten taking 30th place in 1:01:24.

He was followed by Tom Paskins who was 32nd in 1:01:31, with Rich Brawn crossing the line in 1:01:47 to take 36th place. That was actually the reverse order that they had been in at the half way stage in the race.

Tom Paskins in the Bournemouth 10
Tom Paskins ran well to finish in 32nd place with a time of 1:01:31

Tom overtook Rich whilst they were heading up the Southbourne Coast Road to the Overcliff. Then as they came off Boscombe Spa Road and turned down Sea Road towards Boscombe Pier, Ollie went past Rich as well.

Rich Brawn in the Bournemouth 10
Rich Brawn was going alright in the earlier stages but dropped back a bit once they hit the Southbourne Coast Road

It was a very strong finish to the race for Ollie, who is more of an ultra marathon runner than a short distance specialist. He was going so well along the final stretch on the promenade that he also went past Tom right near the end as well.

Ollie Stoten in the Bournemouth 10
Ollie Stoten finished really strongly taking a number of places over the last couple of miles

Rich wasn’t over the moon with his time as he had hoping to be a little closer to the 60 minute mark but it was only a week since he’d run the Bramley 20 and he was feeling a little fatigued from the intense marathon training and high mileage he’d been undergoing.

Richard Brawn in the Bournemouth 10
Although it wasn’t quite what he was hoping for, Rich was still relatively pleased with his time of 1:01:47

One man who could be fairly certain that a 10-mile PB was on the cards was Matt du Cros. That was because he’d set his benchmark of 1:05:19 at the Lytchett 10 in his first ever 10-mile race. And the Bournemouth 10 is a much faster course.

Matt did not disappoint though and sealed a brilliant new 10-mile best of 1:03:01 to take 42nd place. That was an improvement of over two minutes, so a pleasing result for Matt, albeit with less hills to contend with.

Matt du Cros in the Bournemouth 10
Matt du Cros scooped his second 10-mile PB in two weeks as he ran strongly to finish in 1:03:01

Going into the race with some doubts over his fitness and concerns over a recent knee injury he’s been suffering from, Paul Consani wasn’t expecting to pull up any trees at the Bournemouth 10.

As it turned out though, he had a pretty good run, all things considered, finishing up just 13 seconds off the time he registered in last year’s race.

That was a pretty decent result, especially as Paul is training for an ironman event at the moment so has been doing a lot of cycling as well and has been focusing on that more than on his running.

Running the first few miles with Ollie Stoten, Paul found the second half of the race quite though as Ollie had pushed on and he was left on his own to battle the inclines over towards Boscombe.

His time of 1:03:31 put Paul in 48th place overall and 11th in the M40 category.

Paul Consani in the Bournemouth 10
Paul Consani wasn’t overly optimistic going into the race but was fairly pleased with the outcome afterwards

It’s been years since Duncan Wells last competed in a BAC vest but after Phil Cherrett was forced to give up his number for the race after suffering from an ongoing injury, Duncan was tempted into doing the race.

At about four miles in though, Duncan was thinking perhaps he should have stuck to the original plan of marshalling instead of racing. He’d got a little bit over excited and had gone out too quick.

Once the hills were out the way with though, Duncan seemed to get a second wind and he managed to rally well and make it through to the end.

Finishing in a time of 1:04:58, Duncan came in 65th place. He enjoyed being back out there competing and it has definitely wetted his appetite to step up his training and enter a few more races in the future.

Continuing her impressive comeback after a long lay off, Gemma Bragg followed up her victory in the women’s race at Lytchett with another pleasing performance.

Reaching the line in a time of 1:06:43, Gemma was the 3rd placed lady in the race, after Helen Southcott of Maiden Newton Runners finished 2nd in a time of 1:05:41.

Feeling really strong during the race, Gemma managed to keep a pretty consistent pace and felt like she couldn’t really have done much more on the day. She finished up 81st in the overall standings.

That run was also good enough to give Gemma the victory in the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles, so that came as a nice little bonus for her.

Gemma Bragg in the Bournemouth 10
Gemma Bragg finished as 3rd lady and also took to prize for 10-mile country champion

Filtering in shortly after Gemma to take her position as 4th placed lady, Emma Caplan crossed the line in a time of 1:07:13, putting her in 86th place overall.

Instead of racing as hard as she could though, Emma ran a controlled race, going at 7-minute-mile pace for the first five miles, then marathon pace for the next three and as fast as she liked for the final two miles.

Emma Caplan in the Bournemouth 10
Emma Caplan ran a disciplined race to comply with her marathon training programme

With her main target race being the Boston Marathon – the UK one that is – all of Emma’s training is currently geared towards that and she felt that with the marathon in mind, her run at the Bournemouth 10 went well and she was very comfortable running at that pace.

Finishing as 3rd scorer for the ladies team, Alison Humphrey had a great run to take 8th place in the women’s race in a time of exactly 1 hour 10 minutes.

Alison Humphrey in the Bournemouth 10
It was several years since Alison Humphrey had pulled on a BAC vest and the way she ran it was like she’d never been away

It was great to see Alison back in race action for BAC again and she will  no doubt prove an important player over the course of the season.

She was placed 115th in the overall standings, so a very pleasing result for Alison. That performance was good enough to seal a magnificent team victory for Bournemouth AC in the women’s race and secure maximum points for the fixture.

Pawel Surowiec in the Bournemouth 10
Pawel Surowiec was hoping for a big performance after putting the work in on his Sunday runs recently

Aliso was, in fact, having a bit of a ding-dong with her Bournemouth AC teammate Pawel Surowiec throughout the race and pair interchanged positions numerous times during the run.

Arriving at the finish just nine seconds later, Pawel took 118th on the day with his time of 1:10:09. It wasn’t quite as quick as he’d hoped but Pawel enjoyed the run and the tussle he was having with Alison.

Pawel Surowiec in the Bournemouth 10
Although he would have liked to come in under 1:10, Pawel enjoyed the race and in particular the battle he had with Alison

The last BAC member to squeeze into he top 100 was Richard Cannings, who crossed the line in a time of 1:08:04 to take 95th place. That was just over a minute down on the time he clocked in the race last year so not a bad run on the whole.

The battle for supremacy in the M60-64 category in the Dorset Road Race League has been hotting up of late, with defending champion Jud Kirk involved in a real grudge match with his main rival Nigel Haywood of Purbeck Runners.

Richard Cannings in the Bournemouth 10
Richard Cannings finished up in 95th place, completing the course in 1:08:04

This season there’s a new guy on the scene though and that’s Steven Hogarth of Poole AC. He finished the highest in that category for the first two DRRL fixtures at Broadstone and Lytchett and he looks to the main threat the Jud’s title.

The Bournemouth 10 saw an other first place in that category for Stephen, with him finishing in a time of 1:07:44. That gave him 92nd place overall.

This time Jud took 2nd in the category, and 101st overall, crossing the line in a time of 1:08:52. That put him almost exactly a minute ahead of Nigel Haywood who was 4th M60 on the day in a time of 1:09:51, putting him 113th overall.

Jud Kirk in the Bournemouth 10
Jud ran well to finish ahead of Nigel Haywood but it was Stephen Hogarth who took the win in the M60 category

The emergence of Stephen as the front runner in that category has made Jud all the more determined to put some extra work in and do whatever he can to raise his levels for the races to come.

Making a change from his usual home on the track, Lewis Bartlett took the opportunity to get out on open road and he ran well to take 143rd place finishing in a time of 1:12:20.

Lewis Bartlett in the Bournemouth 10
Lewis Bartlett made a rare appearance out on the road, finishing in 143rd place with a time of 1:12:20

Also in the line up for Bournemouth AC, Rob Spall completed the course in a time of 1:17:22 which put him in 216th place overall. Rob enjoyed the race a lot, just as he did when he ran it before in 2016.

After securing a terrific PB at the Lytchett 10 two weeks earlier Steve Parsons had every reason to feel optimistic of another good run at the Bournemouth 10. Unfortunately though he came down with a cold the day before the race and didn’t get a good night’s sleep at all.

Deciding to give it a go anyway though, he set off down the promenade and was on target for another PB after the first four miles. He found himself beginning to struggle a little on the fifth mile though and went through the half way stage in 36:40, which was just a touch over his target pace.

From that point on though, things started to go a bit downhill for Steve. He began to feel like he was running on empty and the second half of race took him over six minutes longer than the first half.

He’d never quite experienced his body giving up on him like that during a race though and in truth, he can take some semblance of pride in the fact that he managed to keep going despite how tough he was finding it.

Steve Parsons in the Bournemouth 10
At this point in the race Steve Parsons was unaware of the strife he was about the go through

Crossing the line in a time of 1:19:08, Steve finished up in 239th place and he was visibly in a bad way afterwards. Fortunately, his BAC teammate Kirsty Drewett was helping out at the event and she saw him looking a little unsteady at the end and made sure he stayed upright and got some colour back in his cheeks.

Taking 1st place in the women’s F60 category, Helen Ambrosen was the final BAC member over the line, finishing in a time of 1:23:24. That put her in 297th place overall and 63rd female.

From her training runs, Helen had worked out that she could run nicely at that pace and although it got quite tough towards the end, she executed her race plan well.

Although she doesn’t like owning up to being an over 60, Helen was well pleased to get the category win and she’s done very well on that front over recent races.

Helen Ambrosen in the Bournemouth 10
Helen Ambrosen took the prize for 1st F60, finishing in a time of 1:23:24

It was a splendid day for BAC, all things considered, with both the men’s and women’s teams taking the 1st prizes at the presentation afterwards.

Craig, Tag and Steve Way made up the winning BAC men’s team, with Gemma, Emma and Alison comprising the top three for the women.

It was also a comprehensive victory the men’s team in the Dorset Road Race League, with Craig, Tag, Steve Way, Stu Nicholas and Dave Long completing the scoring team.

Just as they did at Lytchett, Egdon Heath Harriers had another good day to take 2nd place in the men’s league, with a disappointing result for Poole AC seeing them finishing down in 5th.

Tag and Craig Palmer were part of the winning men's team at the Bournemouth 10
Tag and Craig Palmer were part of the winning team for Bournemouth AC, along with Steve Way

The BAC ladies team took first place in the women’s first division, with Poole Runners taking 2nd and Egdon Heath Harriers securing 3rd.

That meant the BAC men’s team extended their lead at the top of the table after the first three fixtures of the season, with two wins and one 2nd place.

The women’s team remain in 3rd place for the season so far, behind Egdon Heath Harriers and Poole Runners. There are still plenty of points up for grabs though and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the BAC women’s team back on top before long.

Once again, massive plaudits have to go out to Ian White who organised another magnificent event, with all operations running extremely smoothly. With so many BAC club members coming out to marshal the race and support the runners, it was a superb day for the club all round and one they can all take immense pride in.

Alison Humphey and Pawel Surowiec after the Bournemouth 10
Alison Humphrey and Pawel Surowiec pushed each other on by jostling for position during the race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ant Clark and Sanjai Sharma rise and shine at Wokingham Half Marathon

Ant Clark in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Ant Clark was putting their legs to the test at the Wokingham Half Marathon, along with his Bournemouth AC teammate Sanjai Sharma

Being set on predominantly fast, flat, rural roads, the Wokingham Half Marathon provides a fantastic PB opportunity, or a great speed sharpener for anyone training for a spring marathon or working towards another longer race.

For Sanjai Sharma though, it has formed a regular part of his routine for a number of years now in the countdown towards London. In fact, he’s only missed it once in the last nine years so he knows the course like the back of his hand.

This year he was joined in the race by his Bournemouth AC contemporary Anthony Clark. Unlike Sanjai, it was the first time Ant had had a bash at the race and he was looking to run it at, what he would consider to be a steady pace in what was essentially his first proper leg tester of the year.

Since the start of the year Ant has been suffering from a bit of hamstring trouble. It hasn’t been anything too serious but he’s had to take a sensible approach with it and it did mean he was forced to pull out of the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon at the beginning of February.

As for Sanjai, he wasn’t actually looking forward to the race much at all in truth. His lack of consistency and quality of training in the build up to the race had left him a little behind on where he normally is at this stage of the year.

Despite that though, he had decided to give it ago, although he feared his time may be a little down on what he’s produced in previous years.

Ant made a conservative start looking to ease himself into the race and soon settled into a steady pace, going to roughly 5:45 to 5:50 minutes per mile. He was cautious not to push the hamstring too hard at this early stage and that was the most crucial aspect.

Keeping the pace pretty consistent throughout the run, Ant arrived at the finish in a time of 1:15:52. That put him in 51st place in what was, as it is always is, an extremely high calibre field. He was also 10th out of 215 in the M40 category.

Ant Clark makes his way in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Ant ran well, keeping a consistent pace throughout to finish in a time of 1:15:52

The line up consisted of just over 2,000 people, so it was a very big field with runners of all abilities taking part, as well as a fast and furious contest at the front of the race.

Having had a pretty good run out at the Bramley 20 the previous weekend, Sanjai had at least had his confidence restored a touch by that performance.

Completing the 20 mile course in 2 hours 14 minutes and 33 seconds, the most part he executed his plan of running it in progressive blocks of five miles and his average pace worked out to be roughly what he would be aiming for in a marathon.

Putting his all into the Wokingham Half race, Sanjai ran extremely well and, aside from a minor blip between miles 9 and 10, he was really happy with how it went.

Crossing the line in a superb time of 1:21:55, Sanjai finished up in 149th place in the overall standings. He was also 3rd out of 105 runners in the M55 category.

He’s hoping that the that performance will get him somewhere near the top in the club championship half marathon table. The club championship is decided on age grading, so the higher the age and the faster the run – the better the score.

Sanjai gives it some in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Sanjai wasn’t expecting great things as he was a bit behind in his training but under the circumstances he did extremely well

In comparison to previous years, Sanjai’s performance didn’t measure up too badly. Last year he ran it in 1:21:08, so he was only 47 seconds down on that. In 2017 he did it in 1:21:13 and in 2016 it was 1:21:11 so he has shown remarkable consistency in that race over the years.

Next up for Ant it will be the Wimborne 20 this weekend, where he will be looking for another good solid run with no hamstring concerns.

In June this year, Ant will be taking part in the Comrades Marathon, so all of his current training will be conducted with a view to that event where he will be running alongside his Bournemouth AC teammate Steve Way.

The Wokingham Half Marathon race was won by Matt Clowes of Cardiff AAC in a blistering time of 1:04:06. he was followed by Richard Allen of Aldershot, Farnham & District who finished in 1:05:15.

Scott Overall of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers took 3rd in a time of 1:05:25. That gives an idea of the extraordinary talent on show in the race, making for a hugely competitive environment throughout the field.

The first female over the line was Hayley Munn of Northampton Road Runners. She finished in a time of 1:16:51 which put her 66th overall. Naomi Mitchell of Reading took 2nd in 1:17:14, giving her 73rd position overall. Lesley Locks of Hart Road Runners was 3rd lady, completing the course in a time of 1:19:02.

Sanjai Sharm in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Sanjai’s time of 1:21:55 was good enough to put him 3rd in the M55 category and 149th overall

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Phelan-Heath wins as BAC boys attack Avon Trail Run

Simon Hearn, Chris Phelan-Heath and Trev Elkins in the Tyrrell Trail XC Run
Simon Hearn (left), Chris Phelan-Heath (centre) and Trevor Elkins (right) were at the Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Activity Centre for the Hope Rising ‘Tyrrell Trail’ Cross Country Run

Organised by the Hope Rising, a Christian charity that helps people in need in different places around the world, the Avon Trail Run was a good way for athletes to get their cross-country fix in the off-season.

The ‘Tyrrell Trail’ Cross-Country Run was staged at the beautifully scenic Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Activity Centre and it as the eighth time the event had been held at that location.

Off the back of some excellent performances in the Wessex League Cross Country fixtures, Chris Phelan-Heath was keen to take to the trails again, looking for success in the 5k race.

Simon Hearn and Trevor Elkins opted for the 10k route, hoping they’d be able to negotiate their way across the muddy ground and twisty tracks quickly and competitively.

It was an unseasonably sunny and mild day as a group of just over 180 prepared to tackle the challenging course. Both races started at the same time, with the 5k consisting on one loop and the 10k being made up of two loops.

There were fast flat sections, demanding climbs, twisty downhills, plenty of mud and some water sections for the runners to contend with. It was actually quite technically tricky and with all the tree roots to avoid and the boggy bits to get through, it certainly kept the participants on their toes throughout.

Setting off quite quickly, Chris Phelan-Heath decided to take the race on and he wasn’t taking any prisoners. The only man who could get close to him was Alastair Pickburne of New Forest Runners.

Although Chris was doing the 5k race, he didn’t know which distance Alastair was doing so that kept him driving on to get round as quickly as possible and try to maintain his lead.

Getting to the line in a time of 20:46, Chris took a very strong win in what was a pretty decent time for such a testing course. As it turned out, Alastair was actually doing the 10k race so he went round for his second loop.

Chris Phelan-Heath in the Avon Trail Run 5k
Chris Phelan-Heath tore up the trails to seal a comprehensive victory in the 5k race

The next athlete over the line in the 5k race was Ross Wayne of Purbeck Runners who was over three-and-a-half minutes behind Chris, registering a time of 24:22.

33 people in total opted for the 5k distance, with 12 men and 21 women in the mix. The first women to arrive at the finish was Fay Abramson who clocked a time of 28:15.

In the 10k race, it was Alastair Pickburne who got the win, reaching the line in a time of 43:32. Darryl Still of Hardley Runners was 2nd in a time of 44:02 before Trevor Elkins arrived to take a very good 3rd place, registering a time of 45:05.

Trevor seems to be getting his running mojo back now after some turbulent times and is now finding new ways to push himself and feeling stronger than ever.

Trev Elkins at the Hope Rising Avon Trail Run
Trevor Elkins was happy with his morning’s work after securing 3rd place in the 10k race

All the twists and turns made it difficult to gather a good pace and momentum throughout but that was all part of the challenge and Trev was very pleased with his run.

Following some strong runs in the Hampshire League cross country, Simon Hearn was well adept at dealing with this type of terrain. That didn’t make it any easier though and he still found the course to be extremely demanding.

Managing to cope with the rigours of the forest tracks very well though, Simon crossed the line in 7th place with an impressive time of 47:17.

A sum total of 133 people went for the 10k race, consisting of 70 men and 63 women. The writing was on the wall for Sam Smith to finish as first lady, recording a time of 50:18. Joanna Tomsett of Westbourne RC took 2nd in 55:42.

Despite the challenging nature of the course, Chris, Trev and Simon all thoroughly enjoyed the race and it was certainly a decent off-road training run for all of them and a true fitness tester if ever there was one.

Simon Hearn, Chris Phelan-Heath and Trev Elkins at the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run
Simon, Chris and Trevor all ran well in their respective races and enjoyed giving their best on a very difficult circuit