Over recent years, the name Pete Thompson has become more synonymous with charity work than top level competition. Not that that’s a bad thing. He raised £23,000 for mental health support and awareness for running 44 marathons in 44 days. One in each of the 44 European countries.
A year later, he went on to run the entire route of the Tour de France in 68 days, averaging 30 miles a day, to make a total of 2,082 miles. The route also incorporated the high mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees and Pete raised over £27,000 off the back of that challenge.
As one would expect, it takes a while to recover after putting the body under that type of strain. Slowly but surely, Pete has been bringing himself back into the fold since then.
At one stage he was a 2:25 marathon runner, so has been up at the top echelons of amateur athletics. His goal now though isn’t necessarily to get back there. It’s now more about just simply enjoying his running and seeing where that takes him. And helping others to enjoy their running and get what they want out of it too.
Over recent times though there have been a few glimmers suggesting that Pete may again be destined to hit those heights again. In the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon, Pete turned up the day after coming in as first finisher at Bournemouth parkrun and recorded an excellent time of 1:21:27.
That could’ve been seen as an announcement that, in no uncertain terms, he was back on the scene. A month later he was again back in road race league action for Bournemouth AC at the Littledown 5, looking notably strong as he coasted to a 28:14 finish.
It wasn’t just the times he produced in those races that were the telling factor, it was the way he ran them, starting off steadily and then gradually building up the pace and moving through the field. It was definitely shades of the Pete of old.
For his latest challenge, it was time for Pete to step things up a notch as he took to the start line for the Gosport Half Marathon. The Gosport Half Marathon is notorious for being pretty flat and fast and was one of the designated Hampshire Road Race League fixtures which meant a high standard of competition.
The route featured two laps which went all the way along the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent. Conditions on the day were ideal so for anyone in shape to secure a fast time, it was well and truly game on.
Starting out at around 5:45 pace, Pete soon began to move through the gears. From the fourth mile onwards he managed to hit under 5:40 pace for every mile. It was a very impressive level of consistency and a masterclass of even-pacing.
The only time he really slowed down was in the lead up to the finish when he took the time to enjoy and savour the moment as he approached the finish.
Completing the course in a stunning time of 1:14:10, Pete crossed the line in 10th place out of 1,669 runners. That gave him an average pace of 5:39. It was a truly magnificent display from Pete and put him firmly back on the map in regard to top level running on the local scene.
The race was won by Daniel Eckersley of Kingston AC and Poly Harriers in a time of 1:09:39. Eliot Robinson followed in shortly after to take 2nd place in 1:09:54, with Max Costley of Southampton coming in 3rd in a time of 1:10:14.
As well as getting in some good training over recent months, Pete has been busy launching his new business where he offers services such as sports massage therapy, coaching and motivational speaking.
We don’t get to choose what floats our particular boat when it comes to running. It chooses us. That’s what Damian Boyle believes anyway and that’s why he’s found himself dragging his body through the mire on numerous occasions on some of the longest and toughest ultra races there are out there.
Even though it means he suffers a lot in the aftermath of a big race and his body doesn’t thank him for it one bit, he still keeps coming back for more and is always looking forward to his next big adventure.
You either “get” ultras or you don’t. For Damian, it’s more of an adventure than it is a running race. The build up and planning and training are great. Then at the end, when the pain stops, it’s amazing. As for the bit in between – he’s not so sure.
At 75 miles in distance (120 km) the Thwarted Rebellion Winter event was the furthest Damian had ever gone, so in that sense, it was a step into the unknown.
Back in 2016 he successfully completed the 100k Ultra Trail Cape Town which incorporated the infamous Table Mountain, amongst other extremely high peaks.
Last year he took on the CCC race at the UTMB. That was 101 km in distance and included 6,100 metres of elevation. Again, Damian made it to end, finishing in 17 hours 53 minutes. He also ran the Ultra trail Snowdonia 50-mile race.
The Thwarted Rebellion would be a step further than all of those races though so Damian knew there was a good chance this one would take him to brink.
The route follows the first 75 miles of the Glyndŵr’s Way National Trail in Mid Wales and features a total ascent of 12,500 ft (3,810 m). It started at 7pm on a Friday night meaning at least one night out wandering in the Welsh wilderness was a guarantee.
With designs on competing in the full UTMB race next year, which is 100 miles, this would be a good tester for Damian to see how he coped, not only with the distance, but also going a night without any sleep.
For Damian, it turned out to be a true adventure in every sense of the word. It had a bit of everything really… Rolling farmland, angry night time guard dogs, vicious sheep, even angrier Welsh farmers, limited aid stations and extremely difficult navigation. And it was wet. Yes, there was plenty of that.
The route started in Knighton, just on the Welsh border, and finished in Machynlleth. It is thought to be one of the most beautiful yet demanding ultra courses in the UK.
It was a fairly low key event with only 48 hard core nutters setting off on a very wet and dark Welsh night. Some had visions of completing the full 135 miles of the Rebellion that would see them out for at least two full nights. Quite possibly three in fact.
Fortunately for Damian and his friend David Parker, who runs for Littledown Harriers, they were taking it gently with a mere 75 miles to get through. That was the “fun run” version, if you like. As for how much “fun” it was going to be remained to be seen.
As Damian, David and the other runners got going, they knew they had a long night ahead of them, followed by an equally long day afterwards.
After 4 hours and 47 minutes had elapsed, they arrived at the first checkpoint in Llanbadam Fynydd. They were now 23 miles into their journey and Damian was, at that time, in 7th position.
The Glyndŵr’s Way runs through lots of farmland and, although it’s a national trail, it’s quite underused. As the night progressed, it became apparent that nobody had thought to warn the farmers that the runners would be passing through.
That meant that in the middle of the night they were waking up every guard dog in mid-Wales. The dogs did not seem happy about it either. Consequently, after the lead guys had woken the dogs, the farmers staggered out of bed and went out to see what all the commotion was.
They then found Damian and David skulking around their yard and they took their annoyance out on the two of them, shouting and probably cursing at them in Welsh. Despite the fact that Damian and David were very polite, it wouldn’t have done much for Anglo-Welsh relations in those parts.
After all that Damian was probably hoping the rest of the night of the night would pass without incident. No such luck though. At about three in the morning they were jogging up a very narrow farm track. David was in front and Damian was following and they happened to be behind three sheep that were also heading down the same track.
When the sheep got to the end of the track though, they realised they couldn’t get out so instead, they decided to turn back and charge at David and Damian. In his head torch cocoon of light though, Damian was oblivious to what was going on.
In order to let the sheep go past, Damian jumped aside. He then turned and shouted to alert Damian. Damian stopped to give them room. The sheep that was in the middle of the three though obviously thought “sod this”, and came straight for Damian.
Jumping the full height, it landed all for hooves on his chest and kicked. Damian was knocked off his feet and landed in a deep muddy pool at the side of the track. He was then left lying there thinking “what the hell just happened?”
David couldn’t stop laughing. It was rather a big sheep and had done a proper job on Damian. Of all the things that he though might happen during this adventure, being attacked by a ninja sheep was not on the list.
They still had an ultra race to complete though so Damian picked himself up off the floor and soldiered on. At 6:37am, they arrived at the next checkpoint, which was in Llanidloes, 47 miles into the race. Having been running for 11 hours 24 minutes and 40 seconds, Damian was now in 5th position.
The dynamic duo were still going well and continued on their journey. For the next 15 miles or so they were okay. From around 62 miles onwards though, it started to get extremely tough. The next 17.5 miles were not pretty.
It took Damian about six hours to hobble home from there and he found himself cursing every extra hill. It was a rather strange hobby, this ultra running malarkey.
At 4:28pm that afternoon, Damian arrived at the finish with David, battered and bruised, but not beaten. Finishing in a time of 21 hours 28 minutes and 27 seconds, Damian had come in in 8th place. It had been a hell of a journey, but he’d made it and was very pleased with the time, all things considered.
Out of the 35 runners who attempted the Thwarted Rebellion Winter race, 29 of them successfully completed the course, which is a pretty good ratio for such a long and tough race.
The winner of the Thwarted Rebellion was Frederick Levy of Fulham Running Club who got round in 18 hours 40 minutes. He was followed by Stephen Minnikin of Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow who crossed the line in 18:46:40.
The full Rebellion was a completely different story though. Out of the 13 hardy runners who were looking to complete the 135 mile distance, only two actually managed to make it all the way to the end.
They were Mark Thompson of Trail Running Association who was 1st, finishing in 45 hours and 50 minutes. Then, taking 2nd place and 1st female, it was Lizzie Rosewell who arrived at the final destination of Welshpool in a time of 64 hours 21 minutes.
Everyone else had retired before reaching penultimate checkpoint of Llanwddyn which was 107 miles in. That gives a true reflection of just how difficult it is to get through the full distance. What probably spurred Mark and Lizzie on to get to the end was that they knew they’d be 1st male and 1st female if they carried on.
For Damian though, he’d successfully negotiated his way through 78.5 miles of a very wet and muddy Welsh countryside trail and that was plenty enough for him. He’d also wracked up an elevation gain of over 14,000ft whilst he was out there so it was a tremendous accomplishment to see the race out.
The courage, tenacity, dedication and doggedness required to make it all the way in a race like this cannot be underestimated, especially if it involves running through the night as well. Hats off the Damian for a well executed and disciplined display and for letting nothing get in the way of his quest to reach his final destination, including a vicious ninja sheep.
As the Dorset Road Race League season reaches an enthralling climax, the penultimate fixture saw the Bournemouth AC team make the short trip over to Wimborne to tackle the Wimborne 10. It was a day when the BAC men’s team could potentially seal the league title, should it go their way.
The only team that were in a position to be able prevent the yellow and blues from confirming top spot were Egdon Heath Harriers. They needed to win both remaining fixtures in order to do so though and even then, they’d probably have to hope that Bournemouth AC didn’t finish 2nd in both of them.
Leaving the mathematics aside though, the task for the BAC men’s team was quite simple. Win the fixture and they would officially be champions.
After a storming win at the Littledown 5, the Bournemouth AC ladies had put themselves back in the picture for a possible 3rd place finish. They were vying with Littledown Harriers for that honour and it was fairly close between the two clubs. A good scoring team performance would be vital at the Wimborne 10 to keep their hopes alive.
In the days leading up to the race the BAC men’s team suffered a hammer blow when Rob Spencer got called off-shore to work. Rob works on the oil rigs and in that job it isn’t always set in stone when you’ll be called upon.
Of course, team captain Rich Nelson always knew that was a possibility and did try his best to organise some back up to account for that eventuality.
He did manage to wangle a place in race for Ant Clark, who would be racing for the first time since he was forced to pull out of the Comrades Marathon back in June.
There was more bad news in store though for the club when Matt du Cros pulled out after experiencing some calf problems which had prevented him from training. After Rob was taken out of the equation, Matt would have been elevated into one of the five scoring positions so that was even more a blow that he couldn’t make it.
From a personal perspective it was a devastating blow for Matt as he was going for the fidelity award, which you get for running all twelve of the Dorset Road Race League fixtures.
He’d already done all ten of the previous fixtures so only needed the last two and he would have realised that achievement. Sadly, it was not be though for Matt and his fidelity hopes went out the window.
That meant it would fall to Jud Kirk to bring it home for the team as 5th scorer. There were no takers for the final number that was going spare which meant Rich Nelson had to step up and take his place on the starting line.
In for the ladies, Helen O’Neile was drafted in to make her Bournemouth AC debut only a couple of weeks after she first attended a training session.
Helen had impressed everyone with her super speed in training and captain Rich was extremely keen to get her involved and signed up as quickly as possible.
She also has a Championship starters place in waiting for the London Marathon next year so it made sense for her to join the club so she could activate that entry.
Also in action for the ladies, Joy Wright continued on her journey having participated a spate of recent long distance races, somehow managing to know one out almost every week.
First it was the Windsor Half Marathon at the end of September. Then the week after that she did the Half Marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. Then a couple of weeks later it was the Great South Run. That was followed by the New Forest Stinger. And now, here she was again in a third consecutive 10-mile race.
The Wimborne 10 race starts off from Pamphill Village Green on Vine Hill. A small race HQ had been set up complete with a bag-drop and massage tent and some partaloos for the runners to utilise when they arrived.
The Wimborne 10 has something of an old school feel to it. In the modern world where technology rules the roost and in the era of chip timing and big inflatable finish line arches, the Wimborne 10 has somehow managed to preserve a distinct level of simplicity in its approach to the fundamentals of racing.
In short, it’s pretty much just the same as it would have been back in the old days. Someone fires a gun, the race starts, and as the runners arrive at the finish, someone writes down their number and time as they go over the line.
In fact, it seemed quite a rarity for a road race in this day and age for a gun to be fired in order to get the proceedings underway. Once it did get going, a lead group began to establish themselves at the front of the field.
That consisted of Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders, Chris Alborough of Poole AC, Dom Wilmore of Poole Runners, Jacek Cieluszecki of Bournemouth AC and Mark Smith of the newly formed Twemlow Track Club.
Ant Clark wasn’t too far behind that lead group. Having not raced in such a long time, he wasn’t really sure how he would get on but since it was a very local race for him, he thought he’d give it a go and put his fitness to the test.
The first couple of miles are downhill which helped to ease the runners into it before the undulations began. The first real testing climb comes on the fourth mile. After that though there’s a nice downhill stretch to recover followed by fairly lengthy flat section.
The course is probably famed mostly for the steep hill on the last mile which is a brutal interjection at a point in the race where most of the participants would really be starting to tire.
After a stunning performance at the Great South Run the previous month, Mitch Griffiths was hoping for another sub-60 10-miler and all the ingredients were there for another great race for him. Last time Mitch ran the Wimborne 10 was in 2017 when he ran it in 60:15, so he knew he was well capable of a fast time on this course.
Also having featured in the Great South Run, Rich Brawn had run pretty well on that occasion but his time of 1:02:11 didn’t quite match up to what he produced the previous year.
He’d worked really hard in training though since then to get into the best possible shape for the Wimborne 10, even doing double runs on some days. He was absolutely determined to get back his best form after a plantar fasciosis issue had hampered his progress somewhat.
Although he knew he wasn’t in his best shape going into the race, Jacek Cieluszecki ran surprisingly well and produced a performance that wasn’t too far off the sort of pace he would normally go at for an undulating 10-miler.
He crossed the line in a time of 55:27 which put him in 4th place overall. That also netted him a lovely wooden carved trophy for 1st MV40.
Chris Alborough has been running really strongly of late and he took that form into the Wimborne 10, coming up with a fine display to seal the race win in a time of 54:22.
That was just enough to see off Dom Wilmore of Poole Runners who was 2nd in 54:32. Lee Dempster didn’t cut any corners on this occasion, taking 3rd place in a time of 55:07.
Mark Smith came in in 5th place with a time of 56:35. He was followed by Poole AC’s second man, Robert Doubleday, who crossed the line in 56:35.
Scott Parfitt of Lytchett Manor Striders took 8th place recording a time of 57:34 before Egdon Heath Harriers had their first man in. That was Jonathan Cooper who got over the line in 57:41.
Considering he’d been out for such a long time, Ant Clark had a surprisingly good run, getting round in a time of 57:44, which put him in 9th place.
That’s a testament to the tremendous ability Ant possesses within him to have gone through everything he has been through and to come out with such a strong performance.
He’d actually contracted Epstein Barr Virus which is a disease that causes the muscles in the body to waste away. He actually caught the virus way before he travelled to South Africa for Comrades.
Because he’d been training so hard though, his body was so physically fit that the virus didn’t actually effect him. It was only when he started tapering that it began to take hold and noticeably attack him.
Since then Ant has been under doctor’s orders not to do anything too strenuous, so it was a while before he was allowed to get back running again. He’s had to very steadily ease himself back into it and it’s been a lengthy and frustrating process.
It was the first time he’d actually been allowed to get racing at the Wimborne 10 and it was great to see him back out there. Hopefully it will be the start of a stellar comeback for Ant.
Poole AC had their third man in, who was Barry Miller, in a time of 58:11, which put him in 12th position. 10 seconds later, the unmistakeable figure of Mitch Griffiths appeared on the horizon.
He’d only gone and done it again! Yep, it was another spectacular PB from Mitch, with his time of 58:21 bettering his performance at the Great South Run by 15 seconds. That put him in 14th place overall.
Mitch had to rush off quickly afterwards so didn’t even get to pick up his prize for 2nd placed Senior Male. It was another truly magnificent display from him though and his running continues to go from strength to strength.
The next Egdon Heath Harriers man over the line arrived five seconds later and that was Simon Arthur. He crossed the line in 58:55. The battle was really on now, with Poole AC and Bournemouth AC both having three runners in and Egdon Heath Harriers with two.
Ryan Pegoraro was the fourth Poole AC man in, completing the course in a time of 59:01 which put him in 18th place. Then, in 21st place, Egdon Heath Harriers had their third man in in the shape of Graham Sherwin. He finished in 1:00:26.
Then to complete their scoring team of five, Alan Barnett reached the line for Poole AC, taking 24th place in 1:01:33. That was to prove hugely significant in the 2019 title race.
Julian Thacker was the fourth Egdon Heath Harrier to arrive at the finish, clocking a time of 1:01:42. He may have been unaware of the intriguing battle that was going on behind him.
Rich Brawn had been running with Neil Sexton of Poole Runners for virtually the entire race. There were also quite a few other Poole Runners members around that position in the field.
It turned out that Neil was leading the Poole Runners club championship league table and Paul Currah who was on the road just up ahead was his main challenger.
Neil didn’t want to lose out to Paul in the race so he was doing his best to keep in check with Paul as he and Rich ran together just a short distance behind.
On around about the 7th mile, Neil and Rich finally overtook Paul but he wasn’t done yet. He was determined to hang in there and make a real contest of it.
As they approached the final hill, Rich was beginning to struggle a bit with the pace and had had to let Neil go. He was thinking that perhaps he might be able to catch up again on the final hill.
As they got close to the top of the hill and the road began to flatten out, Rich made his move. He swept past Neil and the other Poole Runners and continued on down the long and drawn out finishing straight.
There was still a third of a mile left to go though and as they neared the finish, Damian Huntingford of Wimborne AC was the first to go past Rich.
Then it was the resurgence of Paul Currah who also came flying past Rich. Not to be outdone, Neil then followed suit along with the other Poole Runner, Matt Robbins.
Rich was content to let the three of them battle it out as he was happy to see that as the clock ticked down, he had done enough to finish in under 1:02.
Neil ended up coming out on top in the Poole Runners internal battle, taking 28th place in a time of 1:01:44. Then it was Paul in 1:01:45 and Matt in 1:01:46.
Even though he’d lost a few places on the finishing straight, Rich was happy to cross the line in 1:01:49, which put him in 32nd place overall. That was Rich’s second fastest ever 10-mile time and eclipsed his time from last year by 16 seconds.
Rich had overtaken Bruce Campbell of Egdon Heath Harriers on the way up the hill and he was their fifth scorer, crossing the line in 34th place in a time of 1:01:55.
It was now just a question of when Jud would arrive as since he was going to be 5th scorer for Bournemouth AC. Before that though, the first BAC lady arrived on the scene. That was Helen O’Neile.
Before the race Helen had been thinking that she’d ideally like to come in in around 1:06 but she hadn’t done many long runs in the build up to the race so was unsure if her endurance would be there.
As it turned out though, she had a fantastic run, getting to the line in a superb time of 1:06:07. That was enough to see her take the prize for 3rd placed female.
Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners was the first woman to make it to the line. She registered a time of 1:04:42, which put her in 50th place overall.
Following in shortly after was her Poole Runners teammate Charlotte Bunch, who crossed the line in 1:04:56 to finish as 2nd lady. She was 53rd in the overall standings.
For Helen, it was a dream debut and to be taking home a trophy in her first ever race for BAC was a very pleasing outcome.
Finishing in 86th place in a time of 1:09:11, Jud completed the Bournemouth AC scoring five. That was a couple of minutes off the time that Jud set at the Wimborne 10 last year but he was marathon training then so was in better shape.
That was good enough for 3rd place though in the MV60 category for Jud, behind Stephen Hogarth of Poole AC who finished in 1:07:49, taking 78th place.
The winner of the MV60 category though was Stephen’s Poole AC teammate Andy Clements, who finished in a staggeringly quick time of 1:02:4 which put him in 39th place.
The second Bournemouth AC lady to get the finish was Joy Wright, who recorded a time of 1:12:13 to come in in 113th place in the overall standings.
That was only 45 seconds off the time she produced at the Great South Run and this was on a more hilly course so that was a pleasing result for Joy.
She also finished as 12th placed female on the day and when they were giving the prizes out afterwards, she was over the moon to find that she’d finished 2nd in the FV40 category. She therefore got to take home one of the little wooden trophies which was a great way to round off a terrific morning for her.
Despite having done 10 miles over the Purbeck the day before as well as a couple of other runs during the week, Rich Nelson put in a decent display to finish in a time of 1:15:43. That saw him positioned 153rd overall and 20th in the MV45 category.
Getting over the line in 2nd place in the MV70 category, Ian Graham had a good run to record a time of 1:19:24. That put him in 197th place overall.
The category win for the MV70 went to David Cartwright of Poole Runners though who posted a fantastic time of 1:10:07 to finish in 91st place overall.
The final BAC member to complete the course was Helen Ambrosen who crossed the line in 1:23:32. That put her in 245th place overall and 63rd lady. She was also 1st on the FV60 category which meant yet another of the wooden trophies went to a BAC member.
With so many category prizes and terrific individual performances, it was a brilliant day for BAC in one respect. In terms of the team competitions, the trio of Jacek, Ant and Mitch were 2nd place in the men’s with a cumulative time of 2:51:32. They were behind the Poole AC three of Chris Alborough, Robert Doubleday and Barry Miller who were 1st with a total cumulative time of 2:49:28.
In the women’s team competition, Poole Runners easily won it with their team of Caroline Stanzel, Charlotte Bunch and Melanie Austreng giving them a total time of 3:20:20. In fact they also had a second three that were quicker than any three from any other club in Zoe Barrett, Sarah Swift and Paula Barker.
However, as far as the Dorset Road Race League went, the Bournemouth AC men’s team had actually only managed 4th position, which was unprecedented for them. Egdon Heath Harriers, Poole AC and even Poole Runners had finished ahead of them.
Whilst on the face of it that seemed a bit of a disappointment though, there was a silver lining, or rather, perhaps a gold lining, if you will. And that was the fact that Poole AC had won the fixture and not Egdon Heath Harriers.
Therefore, because Egdon Heath needed to win their last two fixtures, that handed the title to BAC. Although this wasn’t perhaps quite the way they’d envisaged it happening, by virtue of their excellent performances in other races over the course of the season, the club had once again been confirmed as champions.
They had every right to be proud of that achievement as well. With stiff competition from Egdon Heath Harriers who pushed them all the way as well as some strong team efforts from Poole AC, Littledown Harriers and Poole Runners, it was a fantastic result for the club.
Despite all the challenges and adversity they had faced, the BAC men had come together and delivered when it really mattered and that was testament to all the hard work put in, largely by Rich Nelson as team captain and also by each member who came out to represent the club.
The BAC ladies team also finished 4th for the fixture, with Poole Runners coming out on top, Littledown Harriers in 2nd and Egdon Heath Harriers 3rd.
That effectively sealed 3rd place for Littledown and condemned BAC to 4th place in the table. It’s gone down to the wire between Poole Runners and Egdon Heath Harriers for top spot though. Basically, whichever one of them wins the final fixture will be champions.
That will set up an exciting climax in the ladies’ race at least at the Boscombe 10k. As for the men though, with the league title sewn up, they can afford to just go there and enjoy the occasion. Knowing the competitive spirit that exists within BAC though, they will go out all guns blazing anyway and look to round off an excellent season with a win.
As the saying goes, there’s no place quite like home, and Stu Nicholas loves going back to his spiritual home of Cornwall to race. And when he does, he always represents his previous club, St Austell, for whom he still runs for as second claim.
But whilst he may be wearing a different coloured vest, Stu is still every bit as fast and every bit as successful as he is back in Bournemouth.
Having already completed the Cornish Imerys Trail Marathon, which he won, and the Roseland August Trail Plague, which was over 100k, there were still a couple of other Cornwall based races on his bucket list for 2019. They were the Eden Project Marathon and the Cornish Marathon.
The Eden Project Marathon took place on 13th October and that was a race he was victorious in last year. Sure enough, he was back to defend his crown, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
The Eden Project Marathon is run on a hilly, multi-terrain course through areas of spectacular mining heritage and beautiful countryside landscapes. Around 60% of the course was off-road and some parts were very swampy.
Towards the beginning of the race Stu was out front with Jamie Stephenson of Mile High AC. They were running together up until about the 10-mile point when they encountered the first proper muddy and waterlogged section.
At that point Jamie began to open up a gap. Rather than attempting to go with him, Stu decided to just run his own race and if he caught up he caught up, if he didn’t he didn’t.
It turned out he didn’t catch up and Jamie managed to hold it together to record an excellent finishing time of 2:53:47. Stu arrived in shortly after to take 2nd place in a time of 2:56:40. Olly Jones of East Cornwall Harriers took 3rd place in 3:02:53.
Given it was a tough, off-road course in very tricky conditions, that was actually a pretty good time from Stu. He wasn’t too disheartened with having to settle for 2nd place though and joked that next year he might try and get 3rd place so he has the full set, after finishing 1st last year.
Two weeks later Stu was back in marathon action in Cornwall’s only all-road marathon, the Cornish Marathon. The race started from Millenium House in Pensilva and was supposed to consist of a scenic circular out and back route.
A torrential downpour and gale force winds had taken some trees down though and resulted in a six mile section of the course being completely flooded. That brought about a last minute change of route meaning it would be a straight forward out and back route as opposed to a lollypop style route.
To start off with Stu was running Olly Jones, the same guy who finished just behind Stu in the Eden Project Marathon. The pair were leading the race together for the first 10 miles. After that Stu began to gradually pull away.
Initially it was just a slight drizzle but the weather worsened as the race went on, turning into another torrential downpour. As it was now an out and back though, Stu received lots of encouragement from his St Austell teammates on the return leg. That did mean the route was a lot hillier than it otherwise would have been though.
Due to the change of route, the distance unfortunately came up half a mile short but that didn’t detract from what was a brilliant performance from Stu and he won the race convincingly in the end, crossing the finish line in a time of 2:47:26.
Four minutes later Olly arrived to take 2nd place in 2:51:47. He was followed by Dean Harris of Chineham Park who was the only other man to get in under three hours.
In a race that was once voted the in the top three toughest marathons in the UK, Stu managed a highly impressive average pace of 6:23 which was a hell of an effort.
So out of the four Cornish marathon majors, Stu recorded two wins and one 2nd place. And he completed three marathons in under three hours and a 100k in 13-and-a-half hours. Not a bad return at all when you think about it.
More often than not you’d find Harriet Slade and Joy Wright gliding round the track, working on their speed, concentrating on cadence and form and perfecting their technique for the Southern Athletics League events.
Therefore, they were a little out of their comfort zones when they headed over to Ocknell Campsite for the New Forest Stinger. The testing 10-mile multi-terrain route would have them heading along forest trails, through woodland and over open heathland. It was certainly a far cry from the smooth surfaces of the track.
For Harriet, it would also be the furthest she’d ever ran so for that reason alone she would be breaking new ground. As for Joy, she’d competed in the Great South Run two weeks earlier, finishing in 1:11:28, so she knew she was equipped to handle to distance.
Since the New Forest Stinger was an off-road route though featuring some tricky undulations, it was bound to be a sterner test than the GSR.
How it came about though was that Joy had already entered the race and was looking for some company so Harriet contacted the race organisers to see if there were any numbers going. Fortunately there was, which enabled Harriet to join Joy on the start line. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Considering she’d never done a 10-mile race before and hadn’t really trained for it, Harriet took to it like a duck to water. At the New Forest Stinger they tend to split the results between men and women.
In last year’s race, Emma Caplan took the title of 1st lady and finished in 5th place overall. That was only a few months after she’d given birth as well so it was a fantastic result for her.
In the 2019 edition of the New Forest Stinger it was Ben Pitman of Lordshill Road Runners who picked up the win, completing the course in an impressive time of 1:02:06. He was followed by Philip Mosley of New Forest Runners who crossed the line in 1:03:54 and Neil Jennings of Romsey Road Runners who was 3rd in a time of 1:04:19.
Out of the women though, Harriet performed incredibly to finish in 2nd place, reaching the line in a time of 1:13:14. That was quite some achievement for her in her first stab at the distance and she was over the moon about it.
The only lady that could get the better of Harriet was Joanna Colley of Cambridge Coleridge. She completed the course in a time of 1:12:50, narrowly pipping Harriet to the post by just 24 seconds.
There was more good news to come though for the Bournemouth AC pair when Joy came across the line as 7th placed lady in a time of 1:20:26.
Of course, it was nowhere as quick as she managed at the Great South Run but the New Forest Stinger is a an altogether much tougher proposition and that was reflected in her time.
Joy finished four seconds ahead of Sharon Shaw of Poole Runners who was 8th lady in 1:20:32. A total of 233 runners successfully completed the course, with 96 of them female and 137 male.
As well as collecting the prize for 2nd place, Harriet also claimed 1st place in the Under 40 category, which in a way she was more proud of since she has such a winning mentality.
After the race Harriet felt quite emotional. It’s all part of a huge personal journey she’s on at the moment and running plays an important role in that. It’s clear to see that and her successes mean a lot to her.
Originally Harriet was on the list for the Wimborne 10 but she’s swapped with Joy so she can focus on the Boscombe 10k which takes place the weekend after. Joy will now line up for the Wimborne 10 which will be her third 10-mile race in a space of a month.
It is considered one of the most brutal short distance races in Dorset. Perhaps even the most brutal of them all. Of course you’ve got the Enduarancelife Coastal Trail Series races and The Beast which could also be contenders. But The Stickler is a different proposition altogether.
The Stickler features around 1,700ft of climbing in the space of 10.2 miles and includes some of the steepest inclines in the region. In fact, it is known as Dorset’s answer to the 3 Peaks Challenge, with ascents up Okeford Beacon, Hod Hill and Hambledon incorporated into the gruelling mixed terrain route. It would certainly be fair to say that they don’t come much tougher than that.
In this year’s race two Bournemouth AC members were brave enough to put themselves up for the challenge. They were Jacek Cieluszecki and Mitch Griffiths.
Coming off the back of a stunning 10-mile PB at the Great South Run the previous weekend, Mitch was flying high and raring to go. His time of 58:36 was a huge achievement and underlined the immense talent that he possesses.
Of course, the Great South Run is an extremely fast, flat course, which is practically the polar opposite to what he was coming up against in The Stickler, so it was going to be a much tougher test.
As for Jacek, he competed in The Stickler last year and was actually on course to win the race by a considerable margin… until he went off course. It turned out he was actually going so fast that he beat one of the marshals to their post which resulted in him missing a turning and continuing on down the road.
By the time he realized he’d gone the wrong way it was too late. He’d already done a considerable extra distance and would have had to turn back and retrace his steps in order to get back on track.
It was very disappointing for JC as he knew he had the race win in the bag until that mishap. It didn’t deter him from returning through to give it another go and he was hoping that this time all the marshals would be in place or it would be obvious which way he needed to go at every turn.
Jacek and Mitch were joined in the race by a plethora of other talented individuals including Lee Dempster and Edward Crawley of Lytchett Manor Striders, Barry Shea of Dorset Doddlers and Robert Doubleday from Poole AC.
To start off with there was a lead group of three runners consisting of Lee Dempster, Stuart Holloway from City of Salisbury and JC.
The first big climb takes the runners up the infamous ‘Stickle Path’. Unfortunately, soon after that climb, an incident occurred that would alter the course of the race resulting in complete chaos.
Someone directed Jacek, Lee and Stuart away from the correct route and down the wrong path. It turned out that this person was in fact not a marshal and was not wearing hi-viz. Other runners then followed, heading the wrong way and the person even called back some runners were on the correct route only to send them down the wrong path.
One of the official marshals noticed from a distance that they were going in the wrong direction and rushed over to inform them. By then though they’d already done a few hundred yards extra.
In all the melee, a number of competitors ended up running a section of the course in the wrong direction and it caused mass confusion. Some of the runners who went off-track rejoined the course in the correct place and others did not which resulted in them not having completed the full course.
Stuart and Jacek then had to set about clawing their way back up the field, even though they had been in the lead group before the incident took place. The diversion meant that Jacek had run an extra half a mile than he was supposed to have.
Lee and his two Lytchett Manor Striders teammates Edward Crawley and Jason Robbins somehow managed to rejoin the route in the wrong place so they were deemed not to have run the full course.
Stuart and Jacek did extremely well to climb back up the field and get near to the front again. However, it was Lee who made it to the line first, finishing in the a time of 1:06:54. Because he hadn’t run the full course though, he wasn’t given an official position in the race results.
The next man over the line was Stuart, who despite having run extra distance, finished in a time of 1:09:39. That effectively gave him the official race win. Then it was Edward who arrived at the finish next in a time of 1:10:05. Again, because he hadn’t run the full course he wasn’t given an official position.
JC was the fourth man over the line, clocking an official time of 1:11:06. Of course, if you take Lee and Edward out of the equation that would put him 2nd.
Mitch struggled to get to grips the first gruelling climb and the sheer brutality of it threw him off his stride initially. After getting to the top he found it difficult to recover for a while until he got a second wind on the fourth mile.
He managed to pick it up a bit after that but Mitch certainly felt out of his comfort zone in an off-road race like this as he was unable to get into a rhythm and switch off.
Nevertheless, he battled on and got to the end, completing the course in a time of 1:17:40 which put him in 25th place, or 22nd if you don’t include the three Lytchett Manor Striders runners who weren’t given an official position.
Mitch actually ended up covering 10.24 miles in total so that should have been roughly the distance that everyone ran. Due to the incident that impacted Jacek though, he ended up running 10:62 miles.
Although he didn’t quite hit the heights he did in his phenomenal run at the Great South Run, if nothing else, this was still a very good training run for Mitch. He will have undoubtedly made some gains from working his way up the three monstrous inclines in a race environment.
As for Jacek, he’s been extremely unlucky in his first couple of attempts at the Stickler. Perhaps he’ll be back next year though and will manage to stay on route and make it third time lucky. Then he’ll have a great chance of finally getting the victory he craves.
There have been some top notch performances from Bournemouth AC runners in the Great South Run over the years, not least Disco Dave Long’s spectacular sub-50 last time out where he executed a near perfect race to seal a top ten place.
There wasn’t likely to be anyone in a BAC vest quite so high up in the 2019 edition but Mitch Griffiths had been in brilliant form of late, producing a new 5-mile PB at the Littledown 5 and a new parkrun PB of 17 minutes on the nose at Poole.
Competing in the race for the seventh year in succession, Rich Brawn was looking forward to being back in the race he regards as his favorite of the calendar year.
The first time Rich entered the Great South Run was back in 2013 when he recorded a time of 1:08:20 and finished 337th. That race really sparked Rich’s interest in getting more competitive with his running and from that day on he was hooked.
Since 2014, every year he’s taken part in the event, Rich has recorded a new 10-mile PB, gradually improving his times all the way up to last year where he recorded a huge PB of 1:01:22.
This year due to a plantar fasciosis injury in the heel, he’s been unable to train to the same level that he did last year so he knew he wasn’t in shape to repeat the same heroics. He would have to try and temper his pace accordingly and just try to get as close to that time as he possibly can.
For Phil Cherrett, the Great South Run was sure to be the biggest race he’s participated in yet. He’s done events at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival before but this was going to be a level up in terms of grandeur, numbers in the field and crowd support. For that reason, he was excited to see what was in store.
It was only last year that he competed in his first ever 10-mile race, which was the Bournemouth 10. Later that year he went on to set a 10-mile PB of 1:11:38 at Wimborne so that was the target to beat this time round.
It was a fifth consecutive appearance in the Great South Run for Julian Oxborough dating back to 2015 when he ran it in 1:53:31. Julian also took part in the Great South Run several times when he was younger as well, in his former running days.
Back then, Julian was posting some pretty fast times and was still representing Bournemouth AC. It was in 1991 he made his Great South Run debut, finishing in a time of 1:06:40 which put him in the top 500 out of 5,000 participants. That was also his first ever 10-mile event.
There were also some Bournemouth AC ladies representing as well, with Alison Humphrey hoping to go for a sub-70 time. Earlier in the year she finished in exactly 1:10:00 at the Bournemouth 10 so if she could produce something similar at the Great South Run she’d have a good chance of achieving that goal.
Alison was joined in the race by Joy Wright, who is has been more focused on track running over recent times. She did complete the half marathon race at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival two weeks prior though so that would have helped with her endurance.
Also in action for Bournemouth AC was Louise Broderick, who helps out with the Junior Development Group on Wednesday nights. Louise is a sporadic runner as she often has difficulty finding the time to get out and train.
She always enjoys racing though when she gets the chance and was looking forward to getting out there and giving it her all. Louise also took part in the Great South Run back in 2015 when she ran it with a friend, completing the course in a time of 1:16:39.
Although he hasn’t done a lot of running lately, Mike White was also in the starting line-up having entered on an early bird deal last year. Mike done a few of the local 10-mile races over the past couple of years including the Wimborne 10 which he did in 2017 and 2018 and the Lytchett 10 which he did earlier this year. This was his first stab at a really big 10-miler though.
Having been given a number from a friend of his from Zoom Tri Club only a few days before the race, Paul Consani was also in the mix. He’d completed an Ironman race on the last weekend of August though and, although he knew he had plenty of endurance in the tank from that, he hadn’t done any speed work since so he wasn’t expecting a great time by his standards.
Nevertheless, the Great South Run is a terrific race to be a part of and when the opportunity came up, it was just too good for Paul to turn down.
When the morning of the race arrived, the runners were pleased to see that conditions appeared to be ideal. The direction of the wind meant that when they hit the seafront for the last two miles they would have a tailwind, which would really help over the latter stages. For much of the rest of the route there would be a slight headwind but because that is more inland, it tends not to matter as much.
As always with the Great South Run, it was the elite women who set off first. This was where Eilish McColgan took centre stage. She was hoping to emulate her Mum, Liz, in winning the race for a second year in a row.
She was also looking to beat her Mum’s Scottish national record of 52 minutes which she did back in 1997. As soon as the gun went off, Eilish sped off leaving the others trailing in her wake. It wasn’t about just winning the race for her. She had a target to go for and was extremely focused.
When the elite men set off, along with the rest of the field, it was Rich Brawn who was furthest up the field for BAC. It wasn’t long before Mitch Griffiths cruised up and overtook him though. As he went past, Mitch asked Rich if he was going for a sub-60.
Knowing he wasn’t in good enough shape for that though, Rich replied saying no, not today. He had to then watch as Mitch strode away looking incredibly strong. Rich had already decided he was going to be sensible with his pace though and not risk burning himself out too much and he stuck to that.
Mitch started off at 5:50 pace for the first mile, which was ideal really for a solid sub-60. The course usually comes up slightly long on the Great South Run so running at 6-minutes-per-mile would most likely not quite get him what he wanted.
Going through the 5k point in a time of 18:10, Mitch was well on course to better the 59:40 that he managed at the Bournemouth 10 earlier in the year. The question was though, would he be able to maintain that pace?
At the 10k he went through in 36:29, meaning he’d kept the pace remarkably consistent. Miles 7 and 8 in the Great South Run are often the toughest of the race though.
Mitch did well extremely well to minimise his losses though and was still comfortably under 6 minutes per mile on those two. Going through 15k in 54:44, it was looking like he would be sailing well under the 60-minute marker.
He didn’t relax at all though, he continued to push and in fact, ran his fastest two miles of the entire race on those last two miles along the seafront, clocking a 5:44 for both of them.
With an official finishing time of 58:36, it was a huge PB for Mitch, by over a minute. He was delighted with that and it put him in 89th place overall, out of 16,000.
As for Rich, he was trying to stay as close to 6-minutes-per-mile as he could at first. He knew he’d probably fade over the second half of the race though.
Going through the first 5k in 18:50, he was feeling okay at that point but nowhere near as strong as he was last year. He made it through 10k in 38:17 which he was pleased with at that point. But he knew he’d struggle over the next two miles, as he always does.
His pace then dropped from roughly 6:05 to 6:23 and then 6:28 for the 7th and 8th miles. He didn’t mind that so much though as he knew there was a tailwind for the last two miles so he’d most likely pick the pace up then.
He went through the 15k point in 58:08, leaving him with a mile left to go. He was hoping to at least get under 1:03 so that was still on the cards.
He was feeling pretty strong in the last mile but unfortunately as he was nearing the end of the race he got a stitch which prevented him from pushing on much.
In the end Rich crossed the line in a time of 1:02:11, which he was fairly pleased with, all things considered. That put him in 181st place overall. It was only 49 seconds off his time from last year as well, so it wasn’t a huge deficit.
Arriving at the finish in a time of 1:04:34, Paul Consani was actually pleasantly surprised with his time given the lack of speed work. Although it won’t go down on his official record, Paul came in 271st place overall.
Alison Humphrey didn’t quite get the sub-70-minute time she was hoping for in the end but she wasn’t far off. Crossing the line in 716th place, she recorded a finishing time of 1:10:35. That was good enough to see her coming in as 51st female and 6th in the women’s 45-49 category.
The next Bournemouth AC member over the line was Joy Wright, who had a pretty good run to finish in a time of 1:11:28. That put her in 815th place overall and 64th lady. She was also 12th in the female 40-44 category, so it was a decent result for Joy in the end.
Following in shortly after Joy was Phil Cherrett, who arrived in 846th place with a time of 1:11:49. Phil started off at around 7-minute-mile pace.
He actually ran very consistently, except for on miles 7 and 8 where he slowed a fair bit. That ended up costing him a PB but it was still a fairly good run from Phil and he was 129th in the Male 40-44 category.
Reaching the finish in a time of 1:19:55, Louise Broderick was next over the line for Bournemouth AC. That put her in 2,357th place overall and made her 323rd lady. She was 54th in the women’s 45-49 category.
Having forgotten how busy and congested it gets in large scale races like the Great South Run, Mike White positioned himself too far back and ended up locked in at the steady pace in the early stages of the race.
He’s learnt his lesson from that though and intends to ensure he arrives earlier next time to avoid a similar scenario. With a finishing time of 1:20:59, Mike came in in 2,619th place overall and was 346th in the Male 45-49 category.
Running his second fastest time in the Great South Run since he came back to running, Julian Oxborough finished up in 13,210th place with his time of 1:57:23.
That was a significant improvement on his time of 2:15:26 from last year so that was pleasing for Julian. In face, every mile he did was substantially quicker than the equivalent mile in 2018. He finished 887th in the Male 50-54 category.
It turned out that Eilsih McColgan did break her Mum’s Scottish national record. In fact, she smashed it, knocking 22 seconds off to finish in a stunning time of 51:38.
That was enough to see her take 22nd place in the overall standings. Her margin of victory over the next lady to come in was 3-and-a-half minutes.
The winner of the overall race was Marc Scott, of Richmond an Zetland Harriers, who finished in an incredible time of 46:58. He was followed by Ben Connor of Derby who finished in 47:16 and Emile Cairess of Leeds City who was 3rd in 47:32.
Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton ran well to finish in 6th place with a time of 48:08. Scott Overall was 7th in 48:46, with Andy Vernon taking 8th in 48:38. His Aldershot, Farnham & District teammate Joe Morwood was 9th in 48:44.
Last year’s winner Chris Thompson had to settle for 12th place this time round, finishing in 49:23. He was just behind Alex Tueten of Southampton who crossed the line in 48:56. Steve Gallienne, who upset the applecart in the Poole Festival of Running 5k and 10k, was 16th in a time of 50:38.
As well as the 10-mile race on the Sunday, there was also a 5k race which took place on Saturday. That race also had Bournemouth AC representation as well in the shape of Jasper Todd.
Jasper is a rising star in the BAC ranks and whipped round in a time of 17:01, which was a terrific new 5k PB for him. That put him in 13th place overall out of over 600 competitors.
The race was won by Paul Navesey of Crawley in a staggering time of 14:46. He fended off competition from James Heneghan of Cardiff who finished in 15:16 and Sam Charig of City of Portsmouth, who crossed the line in 15:21.
The 2019 edition had been another terrific event, as the Great South Run always seems to be, once again reaffirming its status as one of the world’s premier 10-mile races. Rich Brawn, in particular, enjoys the weekend as he gets to visit his brother Dave, who ran his 11th consecutive GSR and recorded an excellent PB of 1:07:48.
Plus, some of Rich’s old friends from his previous club, Dacorum & Tring, came down for the weekend as well so it was nice for him to catch up with them and have lunch with them afterwards. Rich will almost certainly be back at his favourite race again in 2020.
Just two weeks on from his commanding victory at the Littledown 5, Rob Spencer was back in 5-mile race action at the Hoburne 5 and hoping he might be able to make it a Dorset double for the distance.
It wasn’t going to be walk in the holiday park though for Rob as he faced stiff competition from the likes of Dom Willmore of Poole Runners, Barry Miller of Poole AC and Robin Copestick of New Forest Runners.
After recording a terrific new 5-mile PB of 28:06 at the Littledown 5 two weeks prior, Stu Nicholas knew he was also in shape to mount a challenge for the top placings.
The Hoburne 5 starts and finishes at Hoburne Holiday Park which is an excellent location for a race HQ. The course is predominantly flat, with a few mild inclines. It’s generally quite a fast course but features a fair few twists and turns which can disrupt the rhythm a touch.
It was quite windy on the day as well may have hampered the chances of a PB for the distance somewhat. Nothing much can slow Rob Spencer down though. He immediately hit the front and clocked the first mile at 5:30 pace. From then onwards, he got progressively faster.
There are some inclines on the second mile but Rob powered up them with no concerns, maintaining his pace well. He went through the next two miles at 5:28 pace before moving into a higher gear for the fourth mile and completing that in 5:19.
He wasn’t done yet though and managed to up the pace further in the fifth mile to a staggering 5:11. That gave him an excellent finishing time of 27:05 which was enough to see him through for the win.
It wasn’t quite as quick as his time of 26:39 at Littledown but was still another magnificent performance from Rob to add to his growing list of successes.
His margin of victory wasn’t as big as it was at Littledown either though as Dom Willmore did well to hang with him and crossed the line just 10 seconds later in a time of 27:15.
Another impressive display from Stu Nicholas saw him take third place in a time of 28:46. Again, it wasn’t quite as quick as his time at Littledown but considering the conditions, and the fact that there wasn’t quite as much competition for him at the sharp end of the field, it was a very good result for Stu.
Fourth place went to an unaffiliated runner in the shape of Stephen Nurrish who finished in a time of 29:40. He was the last man to get under 30 minutes.
Barry Miller of Poole AC took 5th place in a time of 30:34, with Robin Copestick finishing 6th in 30:41. Robin used to be a Bournemouth AC member several years ago and has made a return to running after a very lengthy injury lay-off. He’s even attended a couple of BAC training sessions recently and it’s been great to see him round the place again.
The first female over the line was Gemma Russard of Lymington Triathlon Club. She finished in 15th place overall with a time of 32:50. She had a very healthy lead over the next two women to come in who were Kristina Varley of Littledown Harriers and Heather Butcher of New Forest Runners.
Kristina and Heather finished in 27th and 28th places with times of 37:20 and 37:39 respectively.
Joining Rob and Stu in the Hoburne 5 and also representing Bournemouth AC was Jud Kirk. Jud is something of a mainstay in the race having competed in it in each of the last six years dating back to 2014.
He completed the course in a time of 34:10 this time round, which put him in 19th place overall. That was a pretty decent run for Jud and was less than a minute off the time of 33:24 which he posted last year.
Stu’s partner Anna Trehane also ran at the Hoburne 5 and she got over the line in a time of 39:46 which put her in 40th place overall. That was almost exactly a minute off her best 5-mile time.
The race is organised by Christchurch Runners and the run director Peter Wallis did an excellent job trying the drum up participation for the event. Since this year it wasn’t part of the Dorset Road Race League schedule they were significantly down on numbers in the months leading up the race.
In the end though, a total of 110 runners successfully completed the course so it wasn’t as bad a turn out as first feared. The timing of the race is quite good though since it’s the weekend before the Bournemouth Marathon Festival so it could be seen as an ideal warm up run ahead of the BMF.
The Hoburne 5 is a fantastic little local race though and it’s nice to see these events that have carried with them a good tradition over the years, still going strong. Hopefully more will sign up next year to get the numbers a little closer to what they should be for such a friendly and well organised race.
If you’re going to go through the mire, as Bournemouth AC teammates Phil Cherrett and Steve Parsons thought, why not go through it together. And that’s exactly what they had to do at this year’s somewhat extraordinary edition of the Gold Hill 10k.
It was the kind of race where swimming trunks, a snorkel and some flippers might have been more appropriate as opposed to road shoes and the standard BAC attire. Sadly they don’t make BAC swimming trunks though.
Originally it was Phil Cherrett’s bright idea to enter the race. He had an steady run for an hour or so planned in for Sunday morning and on the Friday afternoon, he suddenly remembered that Gold Hill was on.
The weather forecast for the weekend was awful and knowing he’d be more inclined to go out if he’d entered a race, Phil signed up for it. He then spent the next few hours persuading Steve to join him and in the end he reluctantly agreed. A nice steady run round Gold Hill… What could possibly go wrong?
When they arrived the area was shrouded in mist. In fact, the fog was so thick you couldn’t see more than 100 metres ahead. As they collected their numbers they were advised that there were some puddles out on the course.
At that point they didn’t see any reason for any major concerns. They thought they’d probably be fit enough to jump over them with a good run up. However, during the race briefing just before they set off they learned that the puddles were in fact shin to knee deep and they were actually 200 to 300 metres long!! Steve looked at Phil and he burst out laughing. This was going to be fun!
In fairness though, they weren’t really planning on running it quickly anyway and given that it was only Steve’s third run in three months after the Lytchett Relays and the Littledown 5, it was just a case of getting round and trying to enjoy it.
Having talked Steve into it, Phil kindly jogged alongside him and it actually turned out to be a rather fun morning. They settled into a sensible early pace and soon approached the iconic, cobbled climb.
Even at a very forgiving pace though, that is not an easy incline to negotiate. The next few kilometres were full of excitement and anticipation as they approached the flooded part of the course around half way through.
It was a fantastic moment as fellow runners and marshals very much got into the spirit of it as they waded through the water, laughing all the way. The water was freezing cold though and very deep in sections.
The second half of the Gold Hill 10k is when the climbs really begin and Phil thoroughly enjoyed his work alongside Steve. Two further flooded sections awaited them as well and once again, they were great fun.
It wasn’t the norm to be splashing around and playing during a race, but the plan for Phil and Steve was to just enjoy themselves so that’s exactly what they did.
Although they had to tackle the entire second half of the race with squelchy, soaked shoes, they kept on smiling and laughing about it as the progressed round the course.
It almost seemed a shame when they worked their way up the final climb and headed across the field to the finish. The pollyanna pair ended the race in 78th and 79th positions, each coming in in a time of 59:57.
It was 11 minutes slower than Steve’s time in the Gold Hill 10k last year but the times were not important. They will remember the run fondly when they look back on it and that’s the most important thing.
The chap who won the race somehow managed to get round in 36:33 which is an amazing time on that course on a normal day, let alone in those conditions.
As well as the flooded sections, the wet weather had made the downhill slopes very dicey as they were on country lanes and full of wet leaves and mud making for a slippery surface. Luckily Phil and Steve weren’t going flat out though so they didn’t have to take too many risks on the steep descents.
The marshals and volunteers all did a fantastic job in treacherous conditions and deserved high acclaim for the part they played. Phil enjoyed it so much that he’s already looking forward to next year’s race.
It was the third successive year Steve has done the Gold Hill 10k now and he’s slightly worried it’s becoming a tradition. It took him three days to be able to walk again properly after the race and it also took a good few days for his shoes to dry out. He’s hoping he’ll be able to use this a bit of a springboard to help him get back fit again.
Perhaps if they do do the race again next year they’ll have their wetsuits and flippers to hand. Just in case of a flood!
The Cabbage Patch 10 is a race that Graeme Miller does virtually every year and he usually does pretty well in it as well. Last year he posted a time of 61:13 and in previous years he’s recorded some very impressive sub-60 times. In fact, his 10-mile PB of 58:07 came at the Cabbage Patch 10 back in 2014.
The Cabbage Patch 10 is notoriously a very fast race and features a very flat profile and ideal surroundings to bring out the best in those that take part. It also attracts a very high quality field including many elites and fast club runners.
This year Graeme went into it off the back of minimal training over the summer after receiving treatment on an ongoing glute and hamstring problem. Having entered the race back in March though when all was well, he wasn’t sure how he would get on this time round.
Also competing in this year’s Cabbage Patch 10 for Bournemouth AC was Rob McTaggart. He was in scintillating form at the Cardiff Half Marathon the weekend before where he recorded an extraordinary new PB of 1:08:56.
Incredibly he also reached the 10k and 10 mile points in his best ever times. During that race he passed 10 miles at 52:17, so he knew if could replicate that in the Cabbage Patch 10 he’d do very well.
After the half marathon though, he needed to have a rest so didn’t do much running in the build up to the race. He did still find the strength to come in as first finisher at Bushy Park parkrun the day before the Cabbage Patch 10 though in a time of 16:35, so it appeared he had maintained his fitness levels.
The course starts in the centre of Twickenham and crosses the Thames at Kingston Bridge and Richmond Bridge before heading along the towpath by the river and finishing up on the drive in front of the York House Civic Building in Twickenham.
The Cabbage 10 was the race in which Richard Nerurkar set an all-time British record for 10 miles of 46:02, back in 1993. It also boasts some well known previous winners including Sir Mo Farrah.
Tag had run the race a few times before in the past and had done very well each time, finishing in 11th place in both 2010 and 2011 and 9th in 2012. His best time was 52:57, which he did in 2011.
The plan for Graeme was to go out at six-minute-mile pace and then hang on for as long as possible in the second half of the race. For the first couple of miles he felt comfortable and was going at a good sub-six pace.
Unfortunately though, that was as good as it got for Graeme. About half way through the third mile he got a stitch which persisted all the way to the end of the race and was rather painful at times.
It was frustrating for Graeme as he rarely gets a stitch and his glute was pain free up until eight miles. Had it not been for the stitch, he could have had a pretty decent run.
The consequence was an inevitable drop in the pace though and it became a case of damage limitation for Graeme as he desperately tried to hang on.
As it turned out, he just about managed to sneak under the 64 minute marker, crossing the line in a time of 1:03:54. That put him in 60th place overall and 11th in the Male 45-49 category.
It wasn’t Graeme’s finest hour-and-a-bit but in the grand scheme of things it was still a relatively good 10-mile time that most runners would be over the moon with.
A few modifications had been made to the course for the Cabbage Patch 10 from last year and it was certainly different to how Tag remembered it from the last time he was there back in 2012.
There were some sharp corners and and sections of multi-terrain which slowed him down a bit. It was also quite slippery in places due to the recent rainfall and wet leaves everywhere.
That combined with a week of less running and more biscuit eating might just have put pay to Tag’s chances of recording an official 10k PB. Despite all that though, he was flying for the first five miles, going along at roughly 5:15 pace.
After that he dropped off a touch though and his half marathon exertions from the previous weekend may just have caught up with him. He was hoping he might have enough to get ahead of the Vegan Runner who was just in front of him but after losing 15 seconds over last couple of miles he had to settle for 7th place.
Crossing the line in a time of 53:03, it was probably still the third best performance Tag has produced in a 10-mile race. He’d done enough to see off some very high standard runners as well including Jonny Hay of Aldershot, Farnham & District and Paskar Owor who won the race back in 2011 in a time of 48:58.
An old adversary of Tag’s, Steph Twell was also competing and she finished as 1st lady and 12th overall in a time of 55:03. Tag ran alongside Steph for much of the Vitality Big Half race earlier in the year, getting some decent TV limelight before accelerating away from her over the last few miles.
The race was won by Steph’s Aldershot, Farnham & District teammate Joe Morwood who whipped round the course in 50 minutes and 18 seconds. Finn McNally of Brighton Phoenix was 2nd in a time of 50:34 with Nicholas Terry of Serpentine taking 3rd in 50:45.
A total of 1,568 runners successful negotiated the 10-mile course with the slowest ones in the field taking over two-and-a-half hours to get round.
The top 30 runners all finished in under one hour though which underlines the number of high caliber of runners that the event can attract.
Emily Hosker-Thornhill of Aldershot, Farnham & District finished in 30th place in a time of 59:54 which made her 2nd lady over the line. Hampshire Cross Country League regulars might recognize Emily from past fixtures where she’s often won convincingly.