All posts by Richard Brawn

Skeleton staff on duty for BAC at North Dorset Village Marathon

Ian Graham takes on the North Dorset Village Marathon
In his first marathon since 2013, Ian Graham was one of four wily Bournemouth AC foxes tackling the evergreen North Dorset Village Marathon

With the race scheduled for the weekend after the London Marathon this year, it was always going to be difficult ask for Bournemouth AC skipper Rich Nelson to get a team together for the North Dorset Village Marathon.

At one stage it looked like they might have five for the men’s league but when Tom Paskins was forced to pull out of the race and give his number up it became evident that it wasn’t going to happen this year.

Because the Dorset Road Race League is done on a best 7 of 12 basis though, you can afford not to field a team for a couple of the races so from a BAC perspective, this one was a write-off.

There were however, still some individual goals to be accomplished from Bournemouth AC members at the NDVM. At the ripe old age of 72, Ian Graham was taking on his first marathon since 2013.

He’d been eyeing up the fastest marathon time in Britain by an over 70 this year and was considering having a go at beating it.

Competing in his first marathon since becoming a proper runner, Matt du Cros entering new territory. He had done the marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival back in 2016 and 2014 but he wasn’t really running much in those days so this one was going to be a completely different prospect.

For the 2019 season, Matt has set himself the target of doing all 12 of the Dorset Road Race League fixtures. That of course meant that he’d have to do North Dorset.

He hadn’t really trained for it at all though and had been on holiday in Chile for three weeks in the build up to the race so his preparation was less than ideal. He still had to give it a go though so he laced up his trainers and headed over to start line. What was the worst that could happen?

The last time Helen Ambrosen competed in a marathon was back in 2016 so it was a big step for her to take on the NVDM. In fairness though, she’d really done her homework for it, banging out some terrific long, hilly runs over at the Purbeck in the build up to the race.

When the day of the race came along, she felt fit and strong and was confident she could do well with the solid block of training she had behind her.

One man who, by contrast, had done a lot of marathons over recent times was Andy Gillespie. He was now on his 96th marathon and countdown toward the 100 Marathon Club was nearing its conclusion.

Completing the Jurassic Coast Challenge at the end of March, Andy already had three consecutive marathons to his name this year and was set to add another three at the Devon Coast Challenge the week after North Dorset.

If he managed to complete all those he’d be on 99 marathons, so would be within touching distance of the century. First thing was first though, and that was to get through the NVDM and he needed to do so unscathed.

Before the NDVM, Matt du Cros’s best marathon time was 4 hours 31 so he knew, barring a complete disaster, he would beat that. Since then, he’d become a very accomplished runner, improving massively over the past couple of years.

The conditions were a lot better than they were the previous year, when the runners had to battle scorching hot sunshine that made it a very uncomfortable and energy sapping process for most of them. This time round it was an overcast day though with a much cooler temperature making the run a bit more manageable.

Matt du Cros in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Off the back of virtually no training,
Matt du Cros was hoping he’d be able to complete the distance okay but knew it would be a tough task

Despite his lack of training, Matt paced the race like a true pro, starting out at around 7:50 pace and using that as a benchmark for the vast majority of the race.

Most of his miles were done at between 7:50 and 8:10 minutes per mile, depending on how much incline there was. Once he got over the hill that went from mile 19 to mile 20, he began to really kick on over the last 10k.

At that point he was feeling really strong and his pace went up to between 7:30 and 7:50 for remainder of the race. It was a perfectly executed run from Matt and he crossed the line in 49th place, with a time of 3:28:27.

It was certainly an effort to be proud of from Matt and underlined what tremendous promise he has. If he was to enter another marathon and go in with a proper block of training behind him, he could no doubt produce something magnificent.

Matt put in a very solid display, racing to an excellent sub-3:30 finish

The next Bournemouth AC member to arrive at the line was Helen Ambrosen who had a superb run to finish first in her age category, although she doesn’t like to mention which age category that is!

She ran her first mile at 9:10 pace, although that was mostly uphill. She then settled in to pace of between 8:40 and 8:50 pace for the next seven miles, except for mile 3 which was mostly downhill so she went a little faster.

For the next four miles she went at around 9 minutes per mile before upping the pace to around 8:50 for next six miles. That took her to the hilly miles of 19, 20 and 21, where she managed to stay between 9 and 9:15 pace.

Helen Ambrosen takes on the North Dorset Village Marathon
Helen Ambrosen had certainly put the hard work in training but she still needed to put it together on the day

Then she was back at just under 9 minutes per mile for the last five miles to cross the line in 87th place with a stunning time of 3:54:09. Her average pace for the run was 8:54 and she had managed to stay remarkably consistent throughout the run.

It was great to see that all her hard training had paid off and she had really begun to flourish again as a result. She came in as 12th placed female on the day and was extremely pleased with her performance.

An excellent run from Helen saw her pick up the win in female over 60 category and secure a superb sub-4-hour time

After his four races in four days over the Easter break, Ian Graham could have been forgiven for feeling a little jaded but he took the bull by the horns and turned in a terrific display to cross the line in 118th place.

With a time of 4:14:35, Ian had to settle for second place in the male over 70 category in the end as Peter Kirby of Teignbridge Trotters took the age group win, clocking a time of 4:10:34 which put him in 111th overall.

Ian Graham had a cracking run to record a time of 4:14:35

Unfortunately for him, Andy Gillespie’s run did not go according to plan. He started off at around 8:45 pace for the first eight miles. Then with the hills over the next couple of miles his speed then dropped a little.

He never really seemed to get it back onto his earlier pace after that though and by the half way point in the race he’d begun to really struggle.

Ian Graham in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Ian secured 2nd place in the Male over 70 category

The rest of the race was a real battle for Andy. Mentally he was shot and just didn’t want to be there. Nevertheless though, Andy has never given up on any of his previous 95 marathons and he wasn’t about to let that record slip.

Soldiering on to the line, Andy completed the course in a time of 4:23:38 putting him in 131st place. Whilst it wasn’t the run he was looking for, it did bring him one step closer to the magic 100 so despite his disappointment with the performance, that was still a positive.

Andy Gillespie battles the North Dorset Village Marathon
Andy struggled over the second half of the race and it turned into a real battle just to keep going

As he shuffled back to the car, he was given a massive bacon roll and that made him feel slightly better about the situation. Life wasn’t so bad after all.

He knew he’d soon have a chance to redeem himself as well as he was set to take on the Devon Coast Challenge the following weekend, where he would look to complete a further three marathons.

Finishing in 4:23:38, Andy was disappointed but it wouldn’t be long before he was back in the saddle at the Devon Coast Challenge

The race was won by Richard Swindlehurst of Poole AC who finished in a time of 2:46:59. Poole AC had also failed to get a team of five men together though, leaving it open for Egdon Heath Harriers to pick up the points.

They duly did that possessing four of the first six finishers, with Simon Arthur taking 2nd in 2:50:05, Ian Middlebrook in 4th with 2:52:02, Graham Sherwin in 5th with 2:52:19 and Bruce Campbell 6th in 2:52:42. Roy Brown of Maverick Runners took 3rd place in a time of 2:50:17.

The first female was Eleanor Bedwell of Clapham Chasers who finished in a time of 3:32:27, just pipping Paula Barker of Poole Runners to the post by 18 seconds. Eleanor was 53rd overall and Paula was 54th.

Heather Khoshnevis and Louise Austin of Littledown Harriers were third and fourth ladies, finishing in 3:38:30 and 3:38:48 respectively. Littledown ran out winners of the women’s team competition, with Poole Runners in second and Dorset Doddlers third.

In terms of the overall league positions, Bournemouth AC still topped the Men’s First Division table with two wins, a second and a fourth but Egdon Heath Harriers had edged closer to them with that win, giving them one win, two seconds and a fourth. Poole AC were in third with one win, a third and two fifth place finishes.

In the Women’s First Division, Egdon Heath Harriers retained top spot with a first, a second, a third and a fourth place finish. Poole Runners were second with a first and three second place finishes. Bournemouth AC are currently sitting in third with one win, one third, one fourth and one fifth place finish.

Ian Graham progressing well in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Ian showed he can still handle the rigours of a relatively testing marathon route

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby Chapman charges to podium position at Highland Fling

Toby Chapman taking omn the Highland Fling
Toby Chapman arrived at the Highland Fling in fine fettle and the wet conditions weren’t going to stop him producing a storming display

A top five finish in the 53-mile, mostly off-road, demonstrably demanding trek along the West Highland Way would be enough for most runners to be satisfied with that result and move onto something perhaps a little lighter on the legs for their next challenge.

Not Toby Chapman though. He was determined to return to the Highland Fling fitter, faster and fiercer than ever before to have another tilt at the toughest trail race north of the border.

His training had included some huge weeks of up to 145 miles and over 10,000ft of elevation. He proved more than willing to put the work in in order to arrive at Milngavie in the best possible shape he could be and was leaving nothing to chance.

Finding the time to fit in a couple of local races in his heavy training routine, Toby had set a course record at the Humdinger Half Marathon in February with an impressive time of 1:17:25.

Earlier on in April he also won the Taunton Marathon for the second year in a row improving on his time from the previous year by over a minute coming in at 3:39:51. That was in the midst of a pretty big week of training as well so it was a good sign that he was still able to turn it on despite the fatigue.

Having done the Highland Fling last year though, Toby knew only too well how difficult it was and how much strength, stamina and commitment to the cause it was going to require.

The course runs through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Nation Park and incorporates 7,500ft (2,300m) of climbing and 6,900ft (2,100m) of descent.

This year the weather conditions made the task ahead even tougher for the competitors with heavy downpours continuing throughout most of the day.

Toby’s time in the 2018 event was 7 hours 57 minutes and 50 seconds and he was confident that he could do it a fair bit quicker this time round.

The first four miles of the race are uphill. Toby started out at 7:26 pace for the first mile which included quite a steep incline. He then went at 7 minutes per mile for the next three miles before hitting a nice downhill section for the next two miles where he got to stretch out a bit.

By the time they reached the first checkpoint though, at Beechtree, John Hammond of Carnethy, a club in Scotland, had already stolen a march on Toby. Toby was running with Sam Humphrey of Victoria Park Harriers, Marco Consani of Garscube Harriers and David McLure of Kilmarnock.

Somehow John had managed to establish an advantage of over four minutes on Toby and Sam by the time he got to that first checkpoint. Clocking in at 46:16, John now had a commanding lead to defend. Toby and Sam were next to arrive in 50:33 and 50:36 respectively.

Next it was on to checkpoint 2 which was a Drymen, 12.6 miles in.  John clocked in in 1:19:22. He’d extended his lead by a further two minutes by that point, putting him over 6 minutes ahead of Toby, Sam and Marco who came in at 1:25:30.

It was then time for the athletes to be tested over some tough inclines on the way up to the highest point of the race. Then after a sharp climb to the top on mile 18, it was then a huge descent down to Balmaha where the next checkpoint was positioned.

Reaching the checkpoint in 2:14:34, John now had a lead of 6-and-a-half minutes over Toby and Sam who were the next to arrive in 2 hours 20 minutes. They had a 1-and-a-half minute advantage over Stuart Paterson of Carnegie Harriers who had moved up to 4th.

The next 7 miles included some short sharp climbs before they reached the fourth checkpoint at Rowardennan, 27.2 miles in. John came in at 3:17:53, having extended his lead to 7-and-a-half minutes over Toby and Sam, who had now been joined by Stuart, who had caught them up.

There was another fairly big incline on the 29th mile before heading down to Inversnaid, 34.4 miles in. John reached that checkpoint in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Toby and Sam were next to arrive but were now almost 8 minutes down on John. Stuart had now dropped back to about a minute behind Toby and Sam.

Toby Chapman in the Highland Fling
Toby makes his way along the West Highland Way trail with Sam Humphrey who he ran with for the vast majority of the race

The next section of the course was particularly tough, slowing the pace down quite dramatically as they made there way to Beinglas which was 40.9 miles in. That included a very sharp incline before reaching the checkpoint.

Coming in in a time of 5:38:04, John arrived still with a reasonably healthy advantage, although it had now been cut down to 4 minutes 20 by Toby and Sam. They were now over 6-and-a-half minutes ahead of Scott Craighead, who was a clubmate of John’s from Carnethy.

After a sharp descent back down it was then into a period of steady climbing, all the way up to the second highest point of the race which was around the 47.5 mile point.

It was over this section of the course that Sam made his move, accelerating away from Toby and gaining an advantage of almost two minutes. Miraculously, Sam had also caught John up and overtaken him by the time they reached the final checkpoint at Bogle Glen.

Checking in at 6:35:29, Sam’s advantage over John was now 17 seconds, with him arriving in 6:35:46. Toby was now only just over 1-and-a-half minutes behind John, clocking in at 6:37:23.

The race to the line was now really on between the three of them. It was remarkable that after such a long duration of running and over such a tough, hilly course, the three leaders were so close together.

Although he’d lost the lead though, John wasn’t done yet. He dug deep and managed to find the wherewithal to get back in front and in the end managed to open out a sizeable lead over Sam, getting to the line in 7 hours 30 minutes and 29 seconds.

Despite his brief stint as the race leader, Sam was in the end forced to settle for second place, crossing the line in a time of 7:32:08, just over 1-and-a-half minutes behind John.

Completing the podium placings, Toby took a well earned third place, reaching the finish in 7:32:57. It was a truly phenomenal performance from him to and to end the race within 2-and-a-half minutes of the eventual winner was a fantastic achievement.

Toby Chapman finishes the Highland Fling
Toby looks in disbelief as he crosses the line to take a monumental third place

He was almost 10 minutes ahead of the fourth placed runner as well who was Scott Craighead. Scott finished in a time of 7:42:47. Stuart Paterson took 5th in 7:46:50 with Graham Connolly of Team Pyllon reaching the line in 6th with a time of 7:56:50.

Marco Conani, who is the brother of Bournemouth AC member Paul Consani, took 7th place, completing the course in an excellent time of 7:58:51.

The first female to arrive at the finish was Beth Pascall who came in 9th overall with a magnificent time of 8:02:46. She was followed by Nicola Duncan of Carnethy who finished in 8:19:43, putting her 12th overall.

Finishing up with an elevation gain of 6,749ft, Toby completed the 53 mile course at an average pace of 8 minutes 33 seconds per mile. That’s an amazing performance over such a monstrous route.

Another pleasing aspect of the race for Toby was that as well as claiming a spot on the podium, he’d also beaten his time of last year by almost 25 minutes.

That’s a pretty impressive stat when you consider that he was already at an extremely high standard when he competed last year. It underlines the fact that is still clearly progressing with his running.

Perhaps he’ll be tempted to head back up to Highlands again next year for a final fling to see if he can claim the victory. Who knows?

One thing is for certain though and that is that his next stop will be the Laverado in Italy – a 120km off-road ultra incorporating an elevation gain of 5,800m. Something else you can guarantee is that Toby will put in a performance to be proud of, just as he always does.

Toby Chapman takes his place on the podium at the Highland Fling
Toby proudly takes his place on the podium after an enthralling a very close race between the top three

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tough times and magical moments for BAC faithful at London Marathon

Rich Brawn in the hunt for sub-3 at the London Marathon
Rich Brawn was hoping to crown his first ever London Marathon by getting his first ever sub-3 time

Recognised by many to be the very pinnacle of long distance running in the UK, and in fact one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the London Marathon never fails to serve up some spectacular memories to savour for those involved.

It’s also an event that has been known to bring out the best in Bournemouth AC athletes over the years. Who can forget that famous moment in the 2014 edition when Steve Way popped up out of nowhere to finish as the top Brit in 2 hours 16 minutes?

Then there was Rob McTaggart‘s extraordinary death march to the line last year when he broke every rule in the book taking on no water and no gels as others around him were flaking out in the scorching sunshine.

After finishing in 2 hours 30 minutes he then got straight on the beers and ended up collapsing and being taken to hospital suffering from severe dehydration. He really did go ‘all out’ in every sense that day.

In this year’s race it was Tag who was again hoping to lead the BAC charge, looking for a sumptuous sub-2:25 time. He’d been showing a few glimmers of great form in the build up to the race, with a solid win at the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon and a 2nd place finish in both the Salisbury 10 and the SAL 5,000 metres in the same weekend. Plus a decent 6th place finish in the Eastleigh 10k.

Others like Rich Brawn and Sam Laws were relative marathon novices but they had very clear targets in mind and were prepared to put the hard training in in order to achieve their goals.

Rich was going all out for a sub-3 time whilst Sam had her heart set on a sub-4-hour finish. They both exuded a steely determination to get what they wanted and incorporated the infamous Steve Way 12-week marathon session programme into their training.

After deferring her entry from the previous year when she was injured Estelle Slatford finally got her chance to run at London. She’d had issues finding the time to get a proper regimented training programme going but had done her best to fit the sessions in when she could. She was also hoping for a sub-4-hour finish but was worried that the training she had done might not be enough to see her through.

After being forced to conduct virtually his entire training schedule on the treadmill due to an ongoing glute issue, Graeme Miller was hoping his fitness would translate to the great outdoors when he hit the London streets. He was hoping to go sub-2:50 ideally but knew after minimal outdoor activity, it could potentially prove difficult.

Coming off the back of a splendid sub-2:30 marathon PB at Manchester, along with his club comrade Steve Way who finished just behind him, Anthony Clark was looking to use the London Marathon as a training run with a view to the Comrades Marathon which takes place in June.

He was planning to run the first half of the race as a hard enough effort to be rivalling his half marathon PB pace before switching to Comrades pace for the second half of the race.

Hoping to run the marathon faster than he did at Manchester, for Steve, it was liable to be a fairly hard effort all the way through.

Some Bournemouth AC members had had their training severely hampered, either by injury, illness, or just a general lack of time to fit the training runs in.

Falling into the latter category, Chris O’Brien had had very little training so was not expecting a particularly quick time. He’d only taken the decision to run a month before race day and he knew he wouldn’t be in for a repeat of the sub-3-hour time he registered at Abingdon in the Autumn of 2017 which got him the qualifying time.

Also going into the race without his usual strong block of training behind him, Billy McGreevy wasn’t expecting a time to rival that of previous years. He’d had a couple of good sub-3 times at London but he knew he wasn’t in that kind of form this time round. He’d also been suffering from a knee injury that he was thinking might well effect him over the course of the race.

For a man who is usually so consistent and disciplined with his training every year when it comes to London, this year had been a bit a disaster from Sanjai Sharma‘s perspective.

Again, he’d found it difficult to find the time to get the sessions in in the early part of the year and that set back led to doubts creeping in as to whether he’d be fit enough come the end of April to get anything close to the kinds of times he normally posts.

Sanjai would usually expect to be finishing in around 2:50 but this year was a completely different prospect. Then his luck took a turn for the worse when he contracted an illness in the weeks leading up to the race that had completely wiped him out and left him going into the race with minimal recent training runs behind him.

After achieving her dream of running the six major city marathons and earning the coveted Abbotts World Marathon Major Six Star Medal, Caroline Rowley had taken a bit of time out to recuperate and recover. She wasn’t really targeting any specific time at London but was just looking to enjoy the experience and see what happens.

Usually a 400 metre hurdler by trade, Lewis Bartlett had a very different sort of obstacle in front of him when he decided to tackle the London Marathon. It was his first ever marathon he was running it on behalf of The Brain Tumour Charity, raising almost £3,000 for the cause.

Starting as he meant to go on, Tag was out of the blocks quickly, making the most of the Blue Zone Championship pen getaway. he reached the 5k point in 16:42 and then went on to go over the 10k chip timer at 33:47.

Finding himself in a group of sub 2:23 runners, Tag was exactly where he wanted to be at the point. He checked in at the half way stage in 1:11:59, which was bang on course for a sub-2:25.

Rob McTaggart in the London Marathon
Rob McTaggart was in the hunt for a sub 2:25 time and was looking very strong in the first half of the race

He was fine going at that pace for the first 15 miles. On the 16th mile his pace began to drop slightly. Although he was now going slightly slower than his target pace, Tag hung on in there for the next few miles.

When he arrived at mile 20 though, he had nothing left and was suffering the indignity of seeing other runners overtaking him left, right and centre.

By mile 24 he was mentally shot as well as physically and from there it was a difficult plod to the line which took him to unprecedented lows in terms of pace.

Rob McTaggart in the London Marathon
Over the last 10k Tag began to really struggle and his pace fell away, as did his hopes of achieving the ambitious target he’d set

It was gutting for Tag as he’d put a lot into his training and had even been persuaded to give up red meat and beer in his quest for success. Those who know Tag will know, giving up beer was a huge sacrifice from his perspective.

Sadly though, it just wasn’t to be and his search for a sub-2:25 marathon will continue, for now at least. His official finishing time was 2:37:59 which put him in 307th place overall.

Meanwhile, Ant Clark had had a much more successful outing and had in fact managed to run the race pretty much exactly as he’d intended.

Anthony Clark in the London Marathon
It wasn’t long after he’d secured a fantastic PB at the Manchester Marathon but Anthony Clark was back on the road again at London

Pushing the pace for the first half of the race, he went through 5k in 17:29 and 10k in 34:47 before crossing the checkpoint for half way at 1:13:51. The plan had been to run the first half at roughly the same pace he ran his recent half marathon PB at, which he did at the Fleet Half Marathon, finishing in 1:12:31.

After that he dropped down to Comrades effort levels, so 6 to 6:15 pace and a 140 bpm heart rate.

Anthony Clark at the London Marathon
Ant was treating it s a structured training run, with a fast half marathon followed by a Comrades paced effort

Despite stopping on four different occasions to say hi to people who were watching on the sidelines, including his family whom he shared a few emotional moments with, Ant made it to the line in a time of 2:34:32, making him the first BAC finisher and putting him in 185th place overall and 26th in the 40-44 category.

Ant Clark kisses Nikki at London Marathon
Ant took the opportunity to stop off and show his nearest and dearest how much he appreciated their support

For most of the race, Ant was accompanied by his Comrades training partner and BAC teammate Steve Way. In fact, after reaching the half way point with Ant at just under 1 hour 14 minutes, which was the same as what he did at Manchester, Steve decided that it felt too much of a hard effort and decided to drop the pace and continue on with Ant.

Steve Way and Ant Clark in the London Marathon
BAC comrades Ant and Steve ran together for much of the race

On mile 19 though, he had to stop and pay a visit to the restroom, costing him a couple of minutes on that mile. He carried on at the same pace for one more mile before dropping the pace back a touch further for the remaining six miles in order to steady his heart rate.

Steve Way and Ant Clark in the London Marathon
Getting to the half way stage in just under 1:14, Ant and Steve then deliberately dropped the pace a little for the remainder of the race

Crossing the line in 2:39:18, Steve took 381st place overall and was 61st in the 40-44 category. With his legs not feeling too great at the end of the race Steve wondered if perhaps he should have just stuck to the original plan and continue going quickly after the half way point.

Steve Way in the London Marathon
Steve Way decided against his original plan which was to run it faster than he did at Manchester

Having only run outdoors on four or five occasions since December and also missing ten full weeks of training over that time Graeme Miller didn’t really know what to expect. All he knew was that he was going to have a good go at it and see what happens.

He needed to stay under 6:30 pace to achieve his target of a sub 2:50 finish but he actually started off the 6:09 first mile which was way faster than he was anticipating.

It felt good though running at that pace so he continued, reaching the 5k point in 19:13. he then crossed the 10k marker at 38:19. Although he’d have difficulty maintaining that pace, he decided to roll with it and see where it took him.

Graeme Miller in the London Marathon
Graeme got off to a great start and was feeling really strong in the early stages of the race

Arriving at the 10 mile point in 62:09, Graeme was still feeling good and enjoying the run. Reaching the half way stage in 1:21:29, he then began to dream of sub-2:45. Unfortunately though, his legs were saying otherwise.

Managing the maintain the pace pretty well up till 20 miles though, he was still in sub-2:45 territory but his legs were screaming and he began to slow down a fair bit from that point on.

Graeme Miller in the London Marathon
As he reached the 20 mile point, Graeme’s legs were beginning to tire and he had to dig deep to find the resolve

In the end he had to dig deep in order to bring it home in a sub-2:50 but he managed it, crossing the line in a fantastic time of 2:48:10. It certainly wasn’t the textbook way to run a marathon but it worked for Graeme on this occasion and was absolutely ecstatic with his time.

That put Graeme in 912th position overall and placed him 74th in the 44-45 category.

After the race he stopped off for a quick pint before heading to see a play and when he arrived the security guard noticed his London Marathon finishers medal and he and wife ended up getting their seats upgraded from the cheaper seats at the back to the third row, so it was a brilliant result all round for Graeme.

Graeme Miller after the London Marathon
If anyone needed proof that treadmill training really does work, Graeme was the testament to that

After seeing a couple of friends from his previous club who are of a similar standard get good sub-3 times at the Manchester Marathon, Rich Brawn was feeling pretty confident that he should be able to do it with the training he had behind him.

He’d chosen a marathon pace that was significantly under what he would ordinarily need to get a sub-3 as he didn’t want to leave anything to chance and he wanted to make sure it wasn’t touch-and-go at the end.

The main worry for Rich was the threat of getting cramp – something that had ruined his last couple of marathon attempts. This time he’d taken a lot of precautions against that, including taking magnesium tablets and drinking mineral water in the lead up to the race, using electrolyte drinks, bringing salt tablets to take during the race and even using electromagnetic plasters on the muscles on the backs of his legs.

He’d even managed to get hold of a substance called Crampfix at the expo the day before which you are meant to take as soon as you feel that cramp is on the horizon.

He started off with the figure of 6:38 in his head as a pace that he could potentially run at comfortably enough to hold for the duration of the race.

Expecting it to be a little congested at the start though, Rich was surprised to find that he did have enough space to run at the speed he was hoping to so that was a bonus. He also found that he felt very comfortable running at that pace as well so that gave him great confidence for road ahead.

The first five miles included quite a bit of downhill as well which enabled him to get ahead of his scheduled pace without putting in any extra effort.

There was a spine tingling moment on the 6th mile where you turn the corner and are greeted by huge crowds for the first time. That is when it really hits home that you’re in the London Marathon and the magnitude of the event becomes evident.

Rich Brawn in the London Marathon
Rich Brawn was able to settle into the pace he wanted to go at from the outset and was feeling strong in the early stages

With his mind preoccupied by worries about getting an upset stomach as he often does in his long runs and whether his ongoing lower back problems would flare up or cause a pain in his hip-flexor, the crowds were a welcome distraction.

Continuing to churn at the miles at exactly the pace he wanted, Rich got over nine miles before he even remembered to take his first gel. That was good though as he knew that would give him less chance of getting an upset stomach.

Reaching the half way stage in just under 1 hour and 27 minutes, it was so far so good for Rich and he was very much enjoying the race thus far and liking his chances of a sub-3 finish.

From around mile 15 onward his pace dropped slightly but he knew it was still comfortably under the pace he needed to go at to get a sub-3 so he wasn’t too concerned.

His thinking was to try and get to 20 miles and then see how much time had left to do the last 10k. The more time he had, to do it in, the more chance he’d have in allowance in case he did get cramp or start to struggle.

When he got to 20 miles he worked out that he had at least 47 minutes to complete the last 10k. His thoughts then turned to cramp. He knew that was the only thing that could stop him now.

At this point he was feeling really strong and considered pushing the pace but he was so scared about getting cramp that he decided to just carry on as he was.

He considered just taking the shot of Crampfix anyway but decided against it in case it did something that triggered the cramp instead of preventing it.

Going through 23 miles, and then 24 miles, there was still no sign of cramp. He couldn’t quite believe his luck. But it was really playing on his mind.

One of the main highlights of the race for Rich was when he saw people he knew in the crowd watching. He’d seen his brother Dave out there cheering him on and knew his Dad was there watching as well. He also saw some of his Bournemouth AC teammates there including Mitch Griffiths and Pete Thompson.

Rich Brawn acknowledges the crowd in the London Marathon
Rich acknowledges the support from his brother Dave who had come to watch

He particularly enjoyed going past his friends from his former club Dacorum & Tring who always have a massive support network. It was a great boost high-fiving them all near the end as he got into the last few miles.

The first sign of cramp he got was when he was almost at mile 25-and-a-half. It was a pang in his left hamstring, which is usually what happens right before he gets cramp.

He immediately whipped out the Crampfix and took the shot. After that he got two more pangs at the same time, one in each hamstring. He knew he was in trouble now and started to run in a weird kind of style to try to stop the cramp setting in.

He was half expecting to be struck down as he arrived onto the finishing straight but luckily nothing else happened and Rich was able to make it to the line.

Finishing in a time of 2:55:23, Rich was 1,557th overall. He couldn’t believe he’d actually done it and the reality of the situation began to set in. He’d done it! He was now a sub-3-hour marathon runner!

As he went over the line he bumped into Stephen Cook of Poole AC who had crossed the line at roughly the same time. Stephen had posted another excellent marathon time, just three weeks after running a magnificent 2:51:29 at Manchester.

The two local Dorset writers were over the moon to pen such solid sub-3 times. They were also both relieved not to have been beaten by the bumble been that they had overtaken right near the end as well. It was a great buzz.

Rich Brawn in the London Marathon
Rich was over the moon to secure a superb sub-3 time and very chuffed to do so in such an emphatic way

One person who had probably trained harder than anyone for London was Sam Laws. She’d only ever ran one marathon before that which was the ABP Southampton, completing that in 4 hours 21 minutes. She desperately wanted a sub-4 finish at London though so set about it by embarking on a rigorous training plan 12 weeks out that incorporated three interval sessions per week.

She was also soon banging out her long runs every Sunday and attending the BAC marathon training sessions with Rich Brawn on Tuesday nights.

Hitting unprecedented mileage every week, over the course of her training, Sam went through a huge transformation. She lost a lot weight and gained a huge amount of fitness. And with that came the inevitable thing she’d always previously struggled with – speed.

It was quite noticeable during the latter stages of her interval training how much she’d improved as a runner and how strong she was becoming.

That was highlighted when three three weeks before London she ran the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon, adding some miles on before and after to make it the fastest 20 mile run she’d ever done. It was over 10 minutes quicker than she’d run at the Wimborne 20 the previous month.

The week before London she secured a new parkrun PB as well and it was her first time under 25 minutes. That was a massive confidence booster for Sam going into the marathon and underlined the progression she’d made over the training period.

It was still of course a nerve wracking experience for Sam though as she knew she still had to produce the goods on the day so in that respect, the pressure was on.

Completing the first 5k in just under 26 minutes, that was quite fast in comparison to the majority of the parkruns she’s done previously. But it felt comfortable now as she was so much fitter.

She then went through 10k in 52:28 and was running a much faster pace than she needed to to get sub-4 time. She was feeling good though so continued to go for it.

Reaching the half marathon point in 1:52:26, she was on course to finish comfortably under her target time if she could continue in the same vain.

Managing to maintain the pace for the next couple of miles she was up to mile 16 before showing any signs of difficulty. Her pace dropped a bit after that but she knew she was well ahead of schedule so wasn’t worried.

Over the last 10 miles she battled on well and all the hard work she’d done in training was clearly paying dividends.

Arriving at the finish in an incredible time of 3:53:20, Sam had not just beaten her target, she’d absolutely smashed it and that was a great feeling.

Needless to say, she was over the moon with the run which saw her finish in 12,512th position overall and 3,239th female. In the 45-49 category she placed 501st and had comprehensively beaten her time at Southampton by a massive 28 minutes.

Her amazing performance showed, if you acquit yourself correctly and want it badly enough, anything is possible.

Sam Laws and Caroline Rowley at the London Marathon
Sam Laws (left) had an amazing run and looked ecstatic as she celebrated with BAC teammate Caroline Rowley after the race

Considering it was his first ever marathon, Lewis Bartlett handled to race splendidly well. Going through the first 5k in 23 minutes he made a very smooth start, subsequently reaching the 10k marker in 46 minutes.

At the half way stage, Lewis was at 1 hour 39 minutes and looked on course for the sub-3:30 time. Understandably his pace dropped a tad over the second half of the race but he held it together well to reach the finish line in a magnificent time 3:29:30.

It was a terrific run from Lewis and put him in 6,640th place overall which was a truly remarkable achievement. He found it to be an incredible experience running the London Marathon and one that he’d certainly never forget. Going over Tower Bridge was one  of the highlights of his race and he was thrilled to have conquered the hallowed route.

Lewis Bartless after the London Marathon
Lewis Bartlett had gotten over his biggest hurdle yet in completing the 2019 London Marathon

Rather than suffering at the end of the race though, Lewis actually felt like he still had plenty left in the tank as he crossed the finish line and felt that he could perhaps have pushed a little harder. That sort of knowhow will come with experience though and if he does another one, he’ll perhaps modify his strategy accordingly.

The marathon training has helped him massively with his preparation for hitting the summer trails and he’ll now focus back on the track in his much more comfortable setting of the 400 hurdles.

He would definitely like to do another marathon though and is hoping it might even be possible to do London again over the next couple of years.

Lewis Bartless celebrates completing the London Marathon
Lewis raised almost £3,000 for The Brain Tumour Charity which was another reason to be proud

Estelle Slatford started off pretty well, going through the first 5k in 27:11. She then crossed the 10k marker in 54:38 so it was so far so good at that stage.

Reaching the half marathon point in 1:56:48, Estelle was well on course to achieve the sub-4-hour time she was hoping for. For the next couple of miles she kept the pace going well and it was around the 16th mile when she started to find it tough.

Although her pace had dropped slightly, she was still going okay for the next couple of miles. On the 18th mile though, she started cramping up a bit. She decided to slow down a bit but still wasn’t too concerned at that stage.

Before long though her legs really began to ache and she had to stop. From that point on she had to keep stopping to walk in order to ease the pain.

That made things really tough for Estelle over the last 10k but she did extremely well to soldier on and see out the race despite the agony she was in.

Estelle Slatford during the London Marathon
Estelle was going well for much of the race and was on course for a sub-4 finish until she started getting cramp

Crossing the line in 4:11:07 in the end, Estelle came in 17,679th place and was 5,048th woman to finish. In the 40-44 category, she was 936th.

Although she was a bit disappointed, it was actually not a disastrous time for Estelle considering everything she’d been through. That was down to the fact that she’d run so well for the first 15 miles or so.

Despite the problems she suffered from, Estelle appreciated the event for what it was and enjoyed the amazing support from the huge crowds along the route.

It feels very much like unfinished business to her though and Estelle will definitely be looking to do another marathon at some stage in order to achieve her goal. In fact, she’s already entered the ballot for next year’s race.

The other silver lining for Estelle was that she managed to make it onto the TV screens as well and she was particularly pleased that that was at a time when she was running rather than in the latter stages when she was walking.

Estelle Slatford after the London Marathon
Estelle was pleased to have finished despite the difficulties she had over the latter stages of the race

Despite his patchy training and niggling knee complaint, Billy McGreevy started off okay reaching the 5k point in 20:41. He then went over the 10k marker in 41:38 before reaching the half way point in 1:28:24.

At that stage it was looking a sub-3 might be on the cards and he continued on pace up until around the 30k point. That was when he really began to struggle and his time fell away a bit.

From there, it was damage limitation for Billy as he focused on just getting to the line as best as he could. Finishing in a time of 3:06:56, he placed 2,980th overall.

It wasn’t a great run from Billy when you consider what he’s capable of but under the circumstances, it wasn’t a bad run either.

Billy McGreevy in the London Marathon
Billy McGreevy wasn’t on top form but he still came away with a time that most runners would be overjoyed with

The goal for the day from Chris O’Brien’s perspective was really just to finish and above all, to enjoy the race.

He went through 5k in 21:31 and then reached 10k in 42:58. At the half way stage in the proceedings, he arrived at 1:31:19, so it was a pretty decent first half of the race and he had lots of fun in that time.

After completing 15 miles, he began to struggle a bit and his paced dropped. Over the last 10k he really started to suffer and had a dig in well to make it to the finish.

Crossing the line in a time of 3:16:36 in the end. Chris finished up in 4,267th place and was 619th in the 45-49 category.

Chris OBrien after London Marathon
Chris O’Brien achieved his goal which was simply to enjoy the run and pick up this huge piece of bling at the end of it

Caroline Rowley was another who didn’t really have any specific target in mind. After securing the Abbott Six Star World Marathon Major Medal though, the pressure was off a bit for her. She was able to just enjoy the experience and soak it all in.

She went through the first 5k in 26:49 before crossing the 10k line in 53:37. Reaching the half way point in 1:54:49, she began to realise that she could perhaps be on for a sub-4 finish.

Despite not really training for it at all, Caroline held her pace remarkably well over the second half of the race and managed to cruise into the finish in a time of 3:58:25, which put her in 14,241st place overall. She was the 3,782nd lady on the day and took 585th in the 45-49 category.

After the race, Caroline was thrilled to have pulled that performance out of the bag and the buzz she got from it prompted her to rediscover her running mojo. She’s now determined to go for a qualifying time at the Abingdon Marathon in October.

Sam Laws and Caroline Rowley at the London Marathon
Caroline (right) ran a very good race off the back of very limited training and the race has made her hungry for more marathon action

Having had such bad luck getting ill in the build up to the race, Sanjai Sharma knew he was really up against it to get a time anywhere near what he usually does. His only real goal for this one was to finish.

He went through 5k in 21:34 and got to the 10k stage in 43:05. He then continued on at a similar pace to reach the half way point in a time of 1:32:45.

He was actually pleasantly surprised at how well he’d run up till that point. As the race went on though he began to find it tougher and tougher.

The last 10k in particular were a real struggle for Sanjai but credit to him, he stuck at it and made it through the end, crossing the line in a final time of 3:47:01. That put him 10,789th overall and 369th in the 55-59 category.

Sanjai and Marie Sharma at the London Marathon
Sanjai Sharma was completing his 26th London Marathon, whilst his wife Marie was competing in her 4th

Whilst it may not have been the sort of time he’d expect under normal circumstances it was still a job well done from Sanjai and he could be proud of the fact that he’d now done 18 consecutive London Marathons.

It’s a very impressive record he has there and certainly not too many could boast a stat like that on their Power of 10. Sanjai has vowed to continue at least until he gets to 20 consecutive London Marathons, so he’s got at least the next two years there.

Jason Bell who regularly trains with the Bournemouth AC Tuesday night group also ran completing the race in a cracking time of 3:04:11. That put him in 2,677th place overall and it was a decent result for Jason considering he’d had an injury which meant he hadn’t been able to train much in the build up to the race.

Whilst it produced something of a mixed bag of results from the Bournemouth AC representatives this year, for those running it for the first time, it certainly served up some special memories and moments to savour and for everyone involved, it was inspiring to be part of the biggest and best marathon on Earth.

Steve Way and Ant Clark in the London Marathon
Steve and Ant were ticking off another training run on their path to the Comrades Marathon in June

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Parsons and Ian Graham go great guns in Guernsey Easter Runs

The Peninsulists in the Guernsey Easter Run Stonecrusher XC Relay
Dave Parsons (B22) and Ian Graham (A22) were joined by Lisa Evans (D22) and Geoff Scott (C22) to form the Peninsulists in the Stonecrusher XC Relay at the Guernsey Easter Run event

Travelling to Guernsey again this Easter to take part in the Easter Festival of Running, Bournemouth AC’s resident ‘Supervets’ Ian Graham and Dave Parsons readied themselves to tackle the annual challenge of four races in four days.

Dave was attending for the 21st consecutive year and for Ian it was his 12th out of the last 13 years. They were joined by Poole Runners’ own ‘Supervet’ Geoff Scott, who was amazingly present for the 25th occasion since his first trip in 1989.

Ian was defending his ‘supervet’ title from last year and although training had been going okay recently, he had quite a tough act to follow after his success in 2018. Dave was just hoping to get round in each race following a hamstring problem which had severely hindered his training.

The first race on Good Friday was the 5k road race which starts and finishes at the athletic stadium on Footes Lane and is mostly conducted on lovely quiet narrow country lanes, finishing on the track.

Ian ran strongly and was very pleased to finish in a time of 22:49 (just over a minute quicker than last year) for 109th place out of the 186 finishers.

Ian Graham in the Guernsey Easter Run 5k
Ian crosses the finish line in the first race of four at the Guernsey Easter Run event – the 5k

After a slightly conservative start, Dave found a good consistent pace to finish 147th in a time of 25:38 (a few seconds faster than in 2018). Geoff, who had recently been finishing outside 30 minutes in parkruns, was very pleased with his time of 28:37 which put him in 174th place.

18 ‘Supervets’ completed the course with Ian finishing 5th (Age graded 77.50%), Dave coming in 8th (67.43%) and Geoff taking 12th (63.48%). Just to clarify, ‘Supervets’ are all over 60 and the organisers use the age graded tables to classify these competitors.

Dave Parsons in the Guernsey Easter Run 5k
Dave reaches the line to take 8th place in the Supervets competition in the 5k race

The second race on Saturday was the usual ‘Full Course’ cross country which is held on L’Ancresse Common and is a multi-terrain course of 4.75 miles. This event is held in memory of Keith Falla who was sadly killed when hit by a vehicle  whilst he was on a training run. In addition to being a talented Guernsey athlete, Keith was also at one time a member of BAC.

Although it was quite windy, the conditions were otherwise excellent. 119 athletes completed the course and Ian ran another strong race to finish 72nd in a time of 37:29. Again, he was just over a minute quicker than 2018.

Ian Graham in the Guernsey Easter Run XC
Ian approaches the finish of the ‘Full Course’ cross country

Dave found the conditions to his liking and he managed to establish a pace to suit his fitness and was very happy to finish 100th in 43:39, which was over two minutes quicker than 2018! Geoff also enjoyed the race and was pleased with his time of 47:16 which put him in 109th place.

In the ‘Supervet’ category, Ian was 3rd (77.32%), Dave was 7th (64.91%) and Geoff was 8th (63.01%). It was fairly clear now that there were a couple of runners in this category who, as long as they stayed upright for the final scoring race, were going to be just a little too good for Ian to catch and overtake.  At least that meant that for him, the pressure was off.

Dave Parsons in the Guernsey Easter Run XC
The first signs of injury begin to surface for Dave as he nears the end of the cross country race

Dave had felt a severe twinge in his left calf just before the end of the race so had some massage treatment in the hope that it would last out the final two events.

And so to Easter Sunday and the ‘Stonecrusher’ cross country relay, an event which no longer counts towards the overall individual results but is a 4 x 1-mile relay over a twisty, rabbit-hole strewn, and rather hilly course.  It is great for spectators but quite challenging for the more senior runners competing against, in most cases, much younger and more agile competitors.

The intrepid Dorset trio were joined by a Guernsey based athlete in the shape of Welsh-born Lisa Evans, who had finished just behind Dave in the first two races. The team name chosen was ‘The Peninsulists’ – a reference to the Peninsula Hotel where Dave and Ian have stayed for many years. Ian took first leg and his time of 7:22 put them into 31st place.

Ian Graham in the Guernsey Easter Run Stonecrusher XC Relay
Ian approaches the Stonecrusher on the first leg of the cross country relay

Dave took over but unfortunately, after just under half a mile, his calf ‘went’ and he had to slow down in an attempt to avoid too much further damage. He managed to finish in 8:31 but the team had dropped to 34th.

Dave Parsons in the Guernsey Easter Run Stonecrusher XC Relay
Dave takes over the baton for the second leg where his calf injury hampered his progress somewhat

Geoff took over and his leg of 8:57 lost them just one place, putting the Peninsulists into 35th. Lisa ran very well on the final leg and overtook a number of her rivals. However, she was also overtaken by a few and her excellent time of 8:14 brought them home in equal 36th place in an overall time of 33:04.

Geoff Scott in the Guernsey Easter Run Stonecrusher XC Relay
Geoff Scott makes his way round on the third leg

Despite further treatment on his injured calf, it became clear to Dave that his competition for the weekend was over and his role on the final day would be that of a ‘supporter’.

Lisa Evans in the Guernsey Easter Run Stonecrusher XC Relay
Guernsey-based runner Lisa Evans brings it home for the Peninsulists

Easter Monday dawned and another fine day was on the cards going into the final event – the 10k road race. 165 runners completed the point-to-point course with the individual honours and the overall festival victory deservedly going to Jacob O’Hara from City of Portsmouth AC.

Ian found himself in a small group of runners and was content to stick with them, eventually finishing in 101st place in a very creditable time of 49:33.

Ian Graham in the Guernsey Easter Run 10k
Ian makes a break for the finish of the 10k road race with just two more up ahead to pick off

Geoff, although perhaps a little disappointed to just miss out on a sub-60, was far quicker than his last 10k in Guernsey and finished 150th in 60:44.

Geoff Scott in the Guernsey Easter Run 10k
Geoff comes in to take 9th place in the 10k road race Supervet category

In the ‘Supervet’ category Ian was 5th (74.55%) and Geoff 9th (62.54%). A special mention here should go to Julie Lawlor, an FV75 whose time of 51:41 gave her an age grading of 94.29%!!! She is now top of the rankings for 2019 in her age group and seemingly second on the all-time list!

In the overall ‘Supervet’ category Ian came 3rd and Geoff 6th. They should both be proud of their achievements and it is hard to overestimate how tough it is to run four hard races in four days. They, and Dave, are already looking forward to 2020 when, if Geoff can finish all four races, he will have completed 100 Guernsey Easter Races.

The sun sets at the end of the Guernsey Easter Run weekend
The sun sets on another wonderful Easter weekend for Dave and Ian in Guernsey. Here’s to 2020!

 

Egg-cellent win for JC as temperatures reach boiling point at Easter Quarter

Start line of the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon
A strong Bournemouth AC presence was notable on the start line of the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon

In the midst of a spectacular and sun-kissed Easter Bank Holiday weekend that had people flocking from far and wide down to Bournemouth, the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon provided another reason to get down to the south coast.

Although it wasn’t a Dorset Road Race League race this year so the numbers were slightly down on what they were in 2018, the race still attracted some of the county’s big names and boasted a highly competitive field that would provide plenty of intrigue.

Amongst the main contenders were some of Bournemouth AC’s finest in Jacek Cieluszecki, Steve Way and Anthony Clark. They were all competing as part of a longer training run, with other more important race goals to consider further down the line.

Strong Bournemouth AC presence on start line of Easter Quarter Marathon
It was another long training run for Ant Clark and Steve Way with the Easter Quarter sandwiched in the middle

Other BAC members taking part included Stu Nicholas, Alex Goulding, Stu Glenister and Julia Austin. There was also another familiar face in the starting line up in the shape of Graham Robinson, a man who has represented Bournemouth AC on many occasions in the past.

Of course, there were other strong contenders taking to the start line as well including Gavin Pritchard of Lonely Goat RC and Bill Day of Poole Runners.

The Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon gets underway
Amongst the leading contenders were Jacek Cieluszecki (white), Steve Way (yellow) and Alex Goulding (red cap)

JC, Steve and Ant were all planning to run at least 20 miles that morning so they weren’t expecting to go as quickly as they would in a target race. The likelihood was though that with the ability they have, they would still be up there vying for the top positions.

In fact, they had all run 8 miles before the Easter Quarter Marathon got underway. Even so though, the pace they started off at was too quick for the majority of the competitors. They were running at around 5:40 pace for the first few miles.

The Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon race begins
And their off!! The runners and riders are out of the traps and on their way along the promenade

Ant and Steve were planning on hitting marathon pace for the race effort. Steve wasn’t feeling too great though and had to drop the pace down after the first couple miles to ensure he would be able to complete the rest of his long run.

Ant managed to persevere and continue at exactly the pace he was supposed to be running at. On the fourth mile though, JC moved into another gear and took the race by the scruff of the neck.

Jacek Cieluszecki races to victory in the Easter Quarter Marathon
Around four miles into the race JC began to flex his muscles and open up a lead

A blistering 5:24 mile saw him open up a gap over Ant who was in second and from that point on the result was a formality. A strong last couple of miles at 5:35 and 5:33 pace saw Jacek arrive at the finish line to take a convincing win in a time of 36:33.

He then went on to run another 8 miles giving him a total of just over 22.5 miles for the day. Next up for Jacek it was off to Miami for the Wings for Life World Run, where he would look to win his location race for the third consecutive year.

Jacek Cieluszecki collects his prize for winning the Easter Quarter Marathon
JC receives his bottle of champagne after an impressive win

Reaching the line in a good solid second place, Ant completed the course in a time of 37:11, so again, a very strong and very disciplined run from him. He subsequently completed the remaining 6 miles of his planned training run.

Third place went to Graham Robinson who had an excellent run to cross the line in 37:36. Graham has been suffering from a dodgy calf since before Christmas but on this occasion it felt fine and he was able to get a good run out.

Anthony Clark in the Easter Quarter Marathon
Anthony Clark comes in to take a superb second place

Gavin Pritchard of Lonely Goat was the only other man to get inside 38 minutes. He finished in 37:56 to take fourth place. Having not quite had the race that he was hoping for, Steve arrived at the line in fifth place, registering a time of 38:32.

He was disappointed that he’d failed to match the average pace he’d managed in the Manchester Marathon a couple of weeks prior. Steve has been finding his body to be rather unpredictable these days though and he never quite knows what he’s going to get. He did go on to complete the rest of his 20 mile run afterwards though.

Sixth place went to Bill Day of Poole Runners who crossed the line in 39:03, before Alex Goulding arrived at the finish to take seventh place in a time of 39:35.

When Alex entered the race he never dreamt he’d have to be contending with such intense heat in April! His only real concern before realising it was going to be so hot was having to run over all the sand that seems to have taken up permanent residence along the prom.

As the race started Alex watched the front runners zoom off as he made a concerted effort to not get carried away trying to keep up with them. His plans for a negative split went out the window though when the fatigue set in from the heat.

With the race being an 11am start on such a glorious Saturday, the prom was really busy which made it more of a challenge to navigate through all the walkers, dogs and cyclists, as well as the council van that for a short time blocked the path.

At the halfway stage Alex was still feeling strong having been encouraged by moving up a couple of places. As he began the ascent along the cliff top he struggled to maintain a decent pace though as the heat began to take its toll.

Using all his mental energy to keep focused on the race and not to keep thinking of excuses to give if he dropped out, he was disappointed to look at his Garmin and just see his pace dropping as the race went on.

The last couple of miles were pure drudgery for him and he found it to be one of the most mentally tough races he’d ever done. That confirmed for him that more work is needed in order to get back to his previous form.

In the latter stages it also felt a bit solitary for Alex as the front runners were way in the distance and he could only see glimpses of the runners behind him. It was a huge relief for him to get to the finish though and receive his chocolate Easter egg.

It had only been a week since Stu Nicholas had run a splendid new PB of 2:43:10 at Brighton but he couldn’t resist the lure of a chocolate Easter egg.

Struggling out there in the heat though and with the marathon effort still in his legs, as well as the 17 minute parkrun he did that very same morning before the race, Stu didn’t have the best of runs. He still managed a top ten finish though, crossing the line in a time of 40:43.

Taking 22nd place in the overall standings, Stu Glenister was revelling in a cracking little battle that he was having with Joe Godden and Neil Sexton of Poole Runners.

The Poole Runners pair just managed to get the better of Stu in the end but he was pleased to complete the course in a stellar time of 43:41. Next up for Stu he was off to Shropshire for back-to-back half marathons.

Putting together a decent performance to take 55th place overall, Julia Austin won the Female 50+ category posting a time of 49:27. That made her 6th woman over the line.

The first placed lady on the day was Laura Pettitt who finished in a time of 45:54 which put her in 30th place overall. She was followed by Sarah King of Redway Runners who was 33rd in a time of 47:03. Sarah Ellis of Westbourne AC was third lady, crossing the line in 47:38 which put her in 40th place overall.

Jacek Cieluszecki is this year's winner of the Easter Quarter Marathon
The victory would serve as a good confidence booster to Jacek going into the Red Bull Wings for Life World Run in Florida

 

 

 

All Brighton breezy for Stu Nicholas in his latest marathon marvel

Stu Nicholas races along in the Brighton Marathon
Out for a fast time, Stu Nicholas was taking no prisoners in the 2019 Brighton Marathon

In all of the 14 marathons Stu Nicholas completed last year to elevate his tally to 50, not many of them were, what you would term as fast road marathons. They were often either on tough off-road courses or multiple laps round the lake and included some treacherous treks along river banks and undulating, country road canters in scorching conditions.

Sometimes they were even back-to-back marathons in the same week, or in some cases, on the same weekend! He didn’t really do any of the so called ‘big marathons’ where he’d have the chance to go for an excessively fast time and have the benefit of a roaring crowd cheering him on at every turn.

That’s not to say he didn’t go fast in them though. Despite the tricky nature of the races, he still managed some terrific sub-three hour displays and went home with the winning time in many of them. But they weren’t really scenarios where he would have expected to be challenging for a PB or anything like that.

There was also the fatigue factor. When having to do so many marathons in quick succession, he often hadn’t had the chance to fully recover from  a marathon before he found himself out there doing his next one, so in that sense, he wasn’t really exercising his true potential. That was all part of the challenge though.

The 2019 Brighton Marathon represented a very different proposition for Stu. He’d had a bit of time to recover and recuperate since completing four marathons in four days at the Enigma Quadzilla back in February, where he won two and was second in the other two to finish as joint overall winner.

A couple of weeks later he ran a very strong 10 mile PB at the Bournemouth 10, so he knew he was in good shape. Now it was time to put the pedal to the metal and hit the streets of Brighton with gusto.

When the day of the race came along he was feeling fresh when the day of the race came along and the temperature was cool which presented a good opportunity for a fast time.

Race preparation is also a key factor of course and Stu had booked an Air B&B very close to the start line so all he had to do was roll out of bed and there he was.

The starting procedure included a Good For Age zone which enabled Stu to get away with no fuss and get into his stride relatively quickly. He began the race with a 5:46 mile, signalling his intent for the rest of the race.

Stu Nicholas presses on in the Brighton Marathon
Stu wasn’t hanging round to look in the shops and made a very quick start to the proceedings

The first few miles were around the town centre, with Stu arriving at the 5k point in 18:03. After that it was a long out-and-back stretch towards Ovingdean which was into a headwind and with a slight incline.

Reaching the 10k stage in 36:38, it was certainly an impressive first part of the race for Stu. He only had one other runner to help put the work in over that sector though so it was tough going. The blessing was that on the way back it would be a tailwind and a decline.

It was then back into the centre for the half way point, which Stu arrived at in a terrific time of 1:17:38. The guy he was running with began to pull away after that but Stu remained disciplined, looking to keep his pace consistent.

Helen and Anna supporting Stu at Brighton Marathon
Stu’s partner Anna (right) and her sister Helen provided a vital support network for Stu whilst he was out there

The miles from 13 to 18 were a dog leg to make up the distance. Stu ran this section on his own, just trying to push on as much as he could.

The section of the course that lay in wait between miles 18 to 22 was known as ‘the road to hell’ because it was simply a road that led to an industrial estate and back. It was right on the coast though so the a headwind wreaking havoc along the way.

The last four miles or so were on the over-cliff which meant loads of crowd support over the final stretch and encountering the masses heading in the other direction. They were about half way into their race at this point. The headwind once again came into play though and put paid to Stu’s chances for any further progress.

Stu Nicholas gets some seaside air in the Brighton Marathon
A stiff headwind made things difficult for Stu over the latter stages of the race

It was frustrating for Stu as he was on form for a sub 2:40 but he lost about a minute on each of the last four miles as a result of the hellacious headwind.

A big effort over the last 400 metres saw Stu overtake his aforementioned companion and he arrived at the finish line in a staggering time of 2:43:10. That put him in 24th place overall, which was a remarkable achievement in a field of 16,651 people.

Stu Nicholas rehydrating after Brighton Marathon
A brilliant run from Stu saw him record a 34 second PB and take 24th place in the overall standings

That was an improvement of 34 seconds on his previous best marathon time, which he did at London in 2017. His average pace for the run was an incredible 6:13 per mile.

Although he would have loved to have gone sub-2:40, given the testing headwind he’d had to face for much of the run, it was a fantastic performance from Stu and certainly showed signs of progression which is always pleasing.

The race was won by Peter Le Grice who, despite the windy conditions, charged to a 2:16:23 finish. That gave him a winning margin of almost two minutes on his nearest rival Paul Navesey who was second in 2:18:17. Ian Leitch took third place in a time of 2:18:34.

The classic 'Go Stuart' flag was out at the Brighton Marathon
The famous ‘Go Stuart’ flag got another airing as he gave the fans what they came to see

Helen Davies ran extremely well to finish as 1st female and take 15th place overall with her time of 2:34:08. The next woman to arrive at the line was Jill Collett who finished in 2:48:16 putting her 37th overall. Johanna O’Regan was third lady and 42nd overall with her time of 2:49:41.

Stu was eternally grateful to his partner Anna and her sister Helen for their exemplary support during the race. Anna covered almost 12 miles, darting from place to place to cheer him on wherever she could.

After the race, Stu enjoyed the best rehydration technique known to man in the form of a couple of pints down the pub and there was certainly no disputing the fact that he’d earned them on this occasion.

Stu Nicholas refuelling after Brighton Marathon
Post race refuelling is a part of the race day strategy that Stu takes very seriously

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sumptuous sub-three for Emma Caplan in Peterborough Marathon

Emma Caplan finishes the Peterborough Marathon
Emma Caplan was going for her first ever sub-three-hour time at the inaugural Peterborough Marathon

This time last year Emma Caplan was pregnant with her second baby girl. Nine months after giving birth, she found herself taking to the start line for the Peterborough marathon. That tells you all you need to know about Emma’s drive and determination – and above all, her love for running.

Far from being content to do just do the marathon though, Emma had set her sights on a sub-three-hour finish and had been through a focused and rigorous training programme to get her into the best physical shape for the challenge ahead.

Her original plan was to run the Boston Marathon in Lincolnshire, but just six weeks before the day of the race they announced that the inaugural Peterborough Marathon would be taking place on the same day. The location was ideal for Emma is it was just five minutes from her Dad’s house, so she decided to enter that instead.

The aim was still she same though for Emma an she showed tremendous dedication to the cause in training, putting in some high mileage and executing some disciplined and well-paced training runs and races.

With entries only up to 200 the race was conducted on a fairly small scale, with the idea that this would be the soft launch for a bigger event in a year’s time.

The route was predominantly flat, taking in the spectacular sights of the River Nene, the Green Wheel network of cycle routes and the beautiful Ferry Meadows within the grounds of Nene Park.

Although the full distance was on tarmac, 95% of it was off the road, so traffic free, with some narrow, twisty pathways to negotiate and at least 10 bridges. That made it perhaps not quite as fast as as a regular road marathon might be.

There was a three-hour pacer there and Emma was one of six people who decided to use the tactic of staying with the pacer as they went round.

Emma Caplan in the Peterborough Marathon
Emma opted to go with the 3 hour pacer which proved to be a good tactic as the race thinned out significantly as it progressed

Feeling okay going along at the pace that was being set by the pacer, once she got to the 20th mile, Emma began to really believe she might achieve the sub-three she’d trained for. That gave her a huge boost.

Each  other five runners who had attempted to go with the pacer had fallen away one by one meaning Emma was the only one left. Holding up very well in the latter stages, Emma pushed on through to finish as 1st lady and 4th place overall with a time of 2:57:36.

Emma Caplan reaching the line in the Peterborough Marathon
Emma hoists an arm triumphantly as she crosses the line

That put her over 15 minutes ahead of the 2nd placed female, Nancy Connolly, who was 10th overall, completing the course in a time of 3:13:03. It was a truly magnificent performance from Emma and she was over the moon that it had all come together nicely on the day.

Emma Caplan gave it all she's got at the Peterborough Marathon
Emma had given absolutely everything she’s got

It had been a tough road in the 12 weeks leading up to it and she’d had some difficult times trying to juggle the training with motherhood, as well as working as well.

Emma Caplan looks exhausted as she goes over the line
It was an excellent run from Emma and she’d crossed the line as first lady

She hit a few curveballs on the way too, including the unenviable occurrence of both her girls catching chicken pox during her biggest training week.

Emma couldn't believe she'd achieved her sub-three
Emma could scarcely believe that she’d done it and her sub-three dreams had come true

Thankfully her husband Sam was very supportive in looking after the girls whilst Emma was out running. She also had a coach who gave her a great plan with just the right amount of training for a busy working mum.

Emma is all smiles after the race
Emma is all smiles after a race that was executed to perfection

All the pain and sacrifice was worthwhile in the end though for Emma as she had achieved what she had set out to do and through sheer hard work and determination, her dreams of becoming a sub-three marathon runner had been realised.

Emma celebrates a fantastic performance
Emma celebrates a fantastic performance that she thoroughly deserved

 

 

 

 

Tag takes second in Salisbury stroll

Rob McTaggart at the Salisbury 10
It was another race and another crucial session for Rob McTaggart at the Salisbury 10 as he builds up his best form for the London Marathon, which is just around the corner

After recording a good solid victory at the Bournemouth Bay Run Half Marathon the previous weekend and sealing second place in the SAL 5000m the day before, for his next trick, Rob McTaggart lined up for the Salisbury 10.

Planning to run the 10 miles at marathon pace, with a four mile warm up beforehand and a few miles as a cool down afterwards, it was a race that would test Tag’s discipline as the countdown towards London draws ever closer. It just so happens that his marathon pace is faster than most people can run a 10-mile race in anyway.

The Salisbury 10 is a Hampshire Road Race League fixture so the standard is usually fairly high at the top end of the field, with the likes of Southampton, Winchester and City of Salisbury vying for points.

The course takes a scenic route north of Salisbury following the banks of the River Avon through the gently undulating Woodford Valley, featuring views of the cathedral spire on the return leg.

The cathedral is of course a popular visiting spot for tourists worldwide, or at least it is as far as the Russian tourist board are concerned anyway.

The start of the Salisbury 10 road race
The Salisbury 10 gets underway, with Tag at the front on the right, in the black vest with red headband

Resisting the temptation to go off with the leaders, Tag showed restraint in the early stages of the race and concentrated on running his own pace, which was largely between 5:30 and 5:40 pace.

Consequently, he wound up on his own for the entire race and, although he had hoped there would be others going along at a similar pace, it was not the case.

At around 8.5 miles he caught Julian Manning who was in second place at the time. He had been out of sight for most of the race but seemed to flounder somewhat in the latter stages. Saying that though, Tag did run a very strong last three miles, picking the pace up slightly as he moved through the gears.

With Richard Waldron of Southampton way out front, that was how it stayed for Tag and he cruised over the line in 55:26, taking second place in almost exactly the same time he ran the Bournemouth 10 in back in February.

Tag glances to the right in the Salisbury 10
Tag glances to the right, perhaps catching a sight of the cathedral spire as he goes past

Julian Manning held on for 3rd place in a time of 55:55, with Alastair Pickburn of New Forest Runners taking 4th in 56:58. Richard Waldron’s winning time was 53:20, putting him over two minutes ahead of Tag.

Tag has had a few run-ins with Richard Waldron in the past though, finishing two places ahead of him at the Eastleigh 10k recently. The year before in the very same race they had a good battle, with Richard just pipping Tag to the post by three seconds.

As soon as he’d gone over the line, Tag was straight into his warm down run and once he’d completed that it was the end of another very successful and promising session in the build up to London.

With the big day looming large on the horizon, Tag is looking in prime condition and showing all the signs that he’s ready to put in a performance to remember.

Tag picks up his prize for 2nd place in the Salisbury 10
Tag picks up his prize for second place after he completed the course in a time of 55:26

 

 

Toby Chapman chases Taunton Marathon top spot for second year running

Toby Chapman in the Taunton Marathon
It was going to take more than a bumpy road to put Toby Chapman off his stride as he went for back-to-back triumphs in the Taunton Marathon

In his last long run before heading up for the Highland Fling, the brutal 53-mile trail race he did last year, Toby Chapman was at the Taunton Marathon looking to secure back-to-back victories.

Last year he snatched the win by overtaking Robert Farley of Bitton Road Runners in the last 10k of the race. Could he emulate that success this time round though? That was the question.

It was in the midst of a big week of training for Toby though so he was running it on tired legs. He established quite early on that he wasn’t on for anything spectacular so from that point it was just a case of making the legs last the distance.

For the first four miles he was going at around 5:50 pace. After that he dropped to around 6 minutes per mile for the next six miles or so. For the remainder of the race, he managed to keep the pace fairly constant at between 6 and 6:10 minutes per mile.

For the first 15 miles of the race Toby had company from his old adversary Robert Farley and the pair were out in front together, neck-and-neck all the way.

Robert Farley and Toby Chapman out in front at the Taunton Marathon
Toby locked horns with a familiar rival in Robert Farley of Bitton Road Runners and for the first 15 miles there was nothing to choose between them

The pair had built up a significant advantage over the rest of the field and by that point, no one else was in sight. After that though, Toby began to stretch out and accelerate away from Robert. From then onwards, it was all academic.

Increasing his advantage as the race progressed, by the time he got to the line, Toby had built up a lead of over four minutes on Robert, who was still in second.

Toby Chapman behind the lead car in the Taunton Marathon
Edging closer to finish, it soon became apparent that Toby was going to beat his time from last year

Registering a time of 2:39:51, Toby won the race fairly comfortably and was pleased to record a time that was 1 minute and 19 seconds quicker than what he did last year.

With an average pace of 6:05 per mile, it was a very impressive run from Toby , especially as he was carrying some fatigue, and he felt pretty good throughout the race.

These were encouraging signs for Toby with the Highland Fling just around the corner and he’s very much looking forward to the event. His approach will be to be patient and to stay consistent and he’s hoping he’ll be able to go a reasonable amount quicker than last year.

In his previous attempt he managed a top five finish, completing the course in a time of 7:57:50, so it will be interesting to see if he can improve on that this time round and where that might take him if he does.

Toby Chapman winning the Taunton Marathon
It was a terrific result for Toby, sealing the win by over four minutes on his closest competition

 

 

 

 

BAC possie come out to play at Bournemouth Bay Run 10k

Chris Phelan-Heath and Trevor Elkins in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Chris Phelan-Heath (1525) dusted off his road running trainers to take part in the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k alongside former BAC member Trevor Elkins (1234)

It wasn’t the easiest course for a fast time with a tough headwind going along the promenade for the first three miles and then a tough zig-zag that was a bit of a pace killer.

A strong contingent of Bournemouth AC members lined up for race though with Alex Goulding, Chris Phelan-Heath, Phil Cherrett, Ian White and Katrina White all representing the club.

Start of the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
The 2019 Bournemouth Bay Run 10k gets underway

It was another positive step on the road back to his best form for Alex Goulding as he took part in his first race since the Boscombe 10k back in  November.

In terms of competitive running, Alex has only really done parkruns recently but he’s been gradually improving his times week-by-week and the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k would be a good tester for where he’s at with his fitness.

Chris Phelan-Heath and Alex Goulding at the start of the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
Chris Phelan-Heath and Alex Goulding look to get off to a good start and steal a march on their rivals

After getting a good pace going for the first 5k, Alex almost felt like that was all he could muster up. He wasn’t used to running hard any further than that.

He stuck with it though and was able to grind out a decent second half to finish in a time of 37:22 which put him in 9th place overall. It was still well below what Alex is capable of but he’s getting there. It will just take some time before he gets back to his full potential over a 10k distance.

Alex Goulding in the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
It was good to see Alex Goulding back in racing action and he didn’t disappoint, finishing in 9th place with his time of 37:22

Taking a rare break from the trails, Chris Phelan-Heath decided to take a punt on a rare road race foray and it worked out well for him, culminating in an excellent time of 37:34. That put him in 11th place overall.

After six months of pure trail running, Chris wasn’t sure how it would go on tarmac but he felt strong and even had a few more gears to go up if needed.

His race strategy was to run 3 miles and around 6 minutes per mile and then the rest a touch faster to hopefully give him a negative split.  That was pretty much how it turned out as well so it was a very solid run from Chris.

Chris Phelan-Heath and Trevor Elkins in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Chris Phelan-Heath (1525) and Trevor Elkins (1234) go past the pier where the watching crowds were creating quite an atmosphere

After his magnificent run at the Eastleigh 10k where he secured a PB of 37:27, Trevor Elkins was back in 10k action looking to emulate that time.

After starting off quite quickly, Trev’s pace dropped a touch though and he found himself suffering a bit of fatigue. The headwind may have had an impact as well as Trev failed to reach the heights he did at Eastleigh. Finishing in a time of 39:32, Trev took 24th place in the overall standings.

Trev’s partner Gemma Vincent was also in action that day in the 5k race, which she ran to raise money for Spring, a charity that helps parents and relatives cope through the loss of a child.

Gemma isn’t really a runner by nature so it was a great achievement for her to complete the race but he did, even managing a cheeky spring finish at the end. Most importantly though, she raised a large amount of money for a charity very close to her heart.

Gemma Vincent after the Bournemouth Bay Run 5k
Trev Elkin’s partner Gemma Vincent ran the Bournemouth Bay Run 5k to raise money for the charity Spring

Another man on the comeback trail after a recent injury was Phil Cherrett, who finished in 170th place with a time of 48:55. Again, that is well below what Phil is capable of but he is trying to take things easy as he was worried about his knee throughout the race.

In truth a may have been a tad too early in the calendar after his injury and also illness had kept him out of action for so long. He knew he wasn’t anywhere near PB shape so just ran it for fun.

Thankfully the knee held firm and Phil was able to complete the race for the fourth year in a row. His time was almost exactly the same as his time from the year before so that will give him some encouragement that he will be able to rediscover his best form once he gets back to peak health and fitness.

Phil Cherrett in the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
Phil Cherrett returned to racing action after a long lay off through injury and illness

Having not done a lot of running recently due to a knee injury see suffered in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Half Marathon last October, Katrina White was targeting a sub-50 time.

Some help was on-hand for her though as Ian was also running and took it upon himself to help pace his daughter through the run. The first couple of miles went okay for them but Katrina began to struggle a bit over the middle two miles.

Managing to pick the pace up well for the last two miles, the pair managed to pull it round and give themselves a chance of sub-50 finish. It was going to be touch and go through.

Ian White preparing for the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
Ian White was hoping to guide his daughter Katrina to a sub-50-minute finish

They both stopped their watches on 50:01 so it was an anxious wait to see if they had actually done it when the official time came through.

It turned out they had, with both registering a chip time of 49:58, so although it was a close call, it was mission accomplished in the end for Katrina and Ian.

Katrina took 178th place overall and was 26th female, with Ian taking 179th place. The fact they were so close to the target time just served to emphasise the accuracy of Ian’s pacing. He’d say it was never in doubt.

Katrina White in the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k
Katrina White managed to meet her target of a sub-50-finish by the skin of her teeth

The winner of the race was David Broadley, giving the Twemlow Track boys a double after Rob McTaggart won the half marathon. David clocked a superb time of 34:26, putting him a minute ahead of Ryan Wheeler who was 2nd in 35:28.

Jonathan Day and Joseph Bull battled it out for 3rd place, with Jonathan coming out on top by just one second, finishing in a time of 36:00.

The prize for first female went to Ruby Orchard who crossed the line in 38:41, which put her in 16th overall. She narrowly edged out Jessie Lutwyche who finished 17th in a time of 38:49.

Third place went to Gemma Russhard who completed the course in a time of 40:39, giving her 29th place overall. There were 636 runners in total who completed the 10k race.