Category Archives: Road_Reports

BAC members paint the town yellow at Wimborne 10

Eight Bournemouth AC members including Gary Woolnough and Chris O’Brien took to the tarmac to tackle Wimborne 10

Despite not being listed as a Dorset Road Race League fixture this year, the Wimborne 10 still attracted a very high class field, including eight Bournemouth AC members. The results for the yellow and blue army were exceptional, boasting four category wins along with four fantastic new 10 mile PB’s.

Getting back to something close to her best form, Emma Dews finished as 2nd lady in a phenomenal time of 1:03:56. This put her in 32nd place overall in a field of 475 starters. It also gave her 1st place in the FV40-44 category.

Emma was just over a minute and a half behind Joanna Hanna of Poole AC, who won the ladies race in an incredible time of 1:02:25, putting her in 17th overall.

Emma Dews in pursuit of the leading lady, Joanna Hanna

A 35 second gap separated Emma from the 3rd placed woman who was Kate Cadbury. Vicki Ingham of Poole Runners was 4th in 1:06:55.

Buoyed by a great performance in the Abingdon Marathon, Sanjai Sharma seems to have got his mojo back now and he had another strong performance, winning the MV55-59 category in a time of 1:02:02. This put him in 12th place in the overall standings.

In fact it was the exact same position that Sanjai had finished in last year and was only 40 seconds shy of the blistering PB he set that day.

Sanjai Sharma continued his good recent form by putting another excellent display

After managing to overtake a few others he had been battling with over the second half of the race, Sanjai was pleased with the outcome and had nothing left in the tank when he crossed the line.

The race was sponsored by Farrow & Ball and Sanjai was quite happy to receive his prize of  decorating book and a voucher for 10 litres of paint. No doubt at least some rooms in his house will be getting a makeover in the near future.

Sanjai collects his decorating book and paint vouchers for finishing as 1st MV55-59

Securing victory in the MV50-54 category, Gary Woolnough was pleasantly surprised to earn himself a new 10 mile PB, finishing in a superb time 1:04:21. This put him in 35th place overall and was an excellent result considering he hasn’t really done in major races since the London Marathon back in April.

Gary ran most of the race with his fellow BAC team mate Chris O’Brien with the pair working together well as they progressed along the undulating road based route.

Coming off the back of his magnificent marathon PB at Abingdon four weeks ago, Chris didn’t feel he had fully recovered from his exploits and was careful not to overcook it as he negotiated his way round the course.

BAC team spirit: Gary and Chris ran most of the race together, both finishing comfortably inside 65 minutes

It was only the final hill that proved challenging for Chris and, since he hadn’t planned for an all-out assault, he dropped back a bit on the incline. That didn’t stop him flying down the avenue of trees for a strong finish though and he crossed the line in what turned out to be a new official PB of 1:04:28. This put him in 36th place just 7 seconds behind Gary.

Another BAC member to win a prize was Anthony Clark who, although he was the 2nd MV40-44 over the line, was still awarded the category win as Mark Smith of  Poole AC had already received a prize for coming 2nd overall.

Anthony Clark had not been well in the lead up to the race but decided on the morning of the race that he couldn’t resist giving it a go

This suited Anthony fine as he took home the Farrow & Ball paint vouchers. Having been ill all week prior to the race, Anthony wasn’t even sure he was going to run. He felt a bit better on the morning of the race though so decided to give it a go.

His original plan was to set at 60 minute pace, but Anthony was aware that Lee Dempster of Lychett Manor Striders was targeting a sub 58 minute PB. Ant decided to make it his mission to help Lee achieve his goal.

Anthony sacrificed his own race in favour of helping Lee Dempster of Lychett Manor Striders to an epic new PB

Reaping the benefit of having Anthony alongside him, Lee ran extremely well, sealing a terrific new PB of 57:44 which put him in 3rd place. Ant followed in just after to take 4th position in a time of 57:50.

Anthony crosses the line in 4th place overall in a time of 57:50

The race was won by Craig Palmer of Littledown Harriers, who finished an incredible time of 54:55. Craig has been running for Bournemouth AC in the Hampshire League Cross Country fixtures recently and has been a massive help to the team with two superb displays thus far.

Before he turned up for training with BAC 6 months ago, 1:15 for a 10 miler would have been an aspiration for Mike White. His form has improved dramatically since though and that culminated in a PB of over 3 minutes at Wimborne. This gave Mike a finishing time of 1:12:22, putting him in 93rd place.

It is always nice to see some of the relatively new members of the club flourishiong off the back of the Tuesday and Thursday night training schedule that team captain Rich Nelson devises.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Wimborne 10 course, Mike is now eagerly looking at future road races he can do to keep his good form going and chase down some more PBs.

The Wimborne 10 represented a step up in distance for Kirsty Drewett as it was her first attempt at a 10 miler. She took to it remarkably well and felt comfortable throughout. In fact, she classed it as her strongest and most controlled run to date.

Kirsty Drewett was taking on the challenge of her first ever 10 mile race

Crossing the line in a stellar time of 1:18:36, Kirsty finished in 156th position and was 5th in the FV35-39 category. She was 21st lady on the day.

Taking 5th place in the MV55-59, Jud Kirk had a decent return to form, clocking a time of 1:09:48. It was only two days prior that Jud found out he would be taking to the start line after Graeme Miller was forced to pull out.

Jud Kirk is being chased by a pack of Littledown Harriers

The first 5 miles of the race went well for Jud but the wheels came off a little after that. He pushed on through though despite the tricky climb in the last mile and crossed the line in 71st place overall.

Jud was pleased to finish under 70 minutes and took 5th place in the MV55-59 category



Trevor Elkins steams into second place at the Avon Valley Railway 10k

Trevor Elkins travelled to Bristol to compete in the Avon Valley Railway 10k

On the same weekend that many BAC members were slugging it out on Butser Hill in an extraordinary Hampshire League Cross Country fixture, Trevor Elkins was engaging in a race of his own that was very similar to a cross country race.

Trevor had ventured over the Bristol for the Avon Valley Railway 10k. Having done quite a bit of running over in Bristol and Bath over the last couple of years, the area wasn’t entirely alien to him and he had had some strong performances over that way in the past. The races tend to be pretty well organised and fun as well.

Two of Trevor’s friends, Gary Freeman and Christopher White also took part in the race

The first 2k and the last 2k of the course were on concrete, running alongside the Avon Valley railway line. The other 6k was over fields and land in the area. It was over that sector of the course where all the fun and games occurred.

Trevor was feeling strong for the race and was in confident mood as proceedings got underway. At first he was in around 8th or 9th place as many of the other competitors got a bit carried away and sped off.

Trevor stayed composed though, looking to conserve energy for the later stages of the race. By the end of the first 2k, he was neck and neck with the race leader. They then headed down into the valley and the complexion of the race took a significant turn.

As they hit the off-road sector, the course became very muddy and slippery. Trevor had opted for road shoes instead of trails, since he knew that 4k of the route was on tarmac.

The muddy, off-road section proved very tough to negotiate

Although the slippery surface was difficult to negotiate, Trevor kept the pace up, jockeying for position with Brad Cox, who was in the lead. Even though Brad had trails on, he was still slipping around a fair bit but he eventually managed to open out a gap over Trevor as he wrestled to stay on his feet.

Trevor jostled for position with Brad Cox at the front of the race in the first 2k before they took to the muddy and waterlogged fields

As well as the muddy, slippery ground, there was also a few inclines to contend with. Some sections were also waterlogged and meant ploughing through a 50 to 250 metre area of water. It seemed like to Trevor that the more he waded into the water, the more it slowed him down as his trainers sank into the mud.

The waterlogged ground made the task all the more challenging for Trevor as he sank into the mud with every forward step

At the 8k stage the route went back ono the road and Trevor was able to start making gains on Brad again as the mud and water on his trail shoes began to weigh him down. There was still quite a big gap between the two though and in the end, Trevor decided to settle for second place. He could see that there was a pretty big gap between him and the third place runner so he could afford to ease off the pace a bit by that point.

The trophy Trevor picked up for finishing in 2nd place overall

As he reached the finish line, the clock had just edged of the 44 minute mark, giving him a time of 44:04. Whilst this may not sound a particularly fast time for  10k race, when you factor in the difficulty of the terrain, it was actually a very good effort indeed.

Trevor ran very well to secure a superb 2nd placed finish in a time of 44:04

A lot of the runners had slipped over in the fields and were caped in mud. it was a miracle Trevor had managed to stay upright in road shoes. He was thinking about the last time he had been in a similar race and had collected so much mud and excess weight on his trainers that it slowed him down as the race went on and he lost the man he was tracking, who had opted for road shoes. Trevor was not prepared to risk making that same mistake again.

After some heavy rain in the run up to the race, the condition of the course was always going to present problems

He ended the race 53 seconds down on the winner, Brad Cox, who’s finishing time was 43:11. Brad is a very accomplished runner and does have ultra training in him, so to be up there vying for the top spot was an achievement in itself for Trevor.

1st and 2nd: Brad and Trevor jostled for the lead throughout the race with Brad eventually sealing the win








Double delight for Stu Nicholas at Halloween Challenge and Enigma Fireworks

Stu Nicholas had given himself the task of completing two marathons in the space of six days and he was out to win them both!

One man who saw his Halloween and Guy Fawkes celebrations go off with a bang was Stu Nicholas, who claimed an incredible two marathon victories in the space of week, winning the Halloween Challenge on 31st October and the Enigma Fireworks five days later on 5th November.

Stu is always looking for new ways to challenge himself and doing two marathons in the space of six days was perhaps taking things up a notch, even by his standards. But it wasn’t enough to just complete the two marathons. He wanted to win them.

The first one was the Halloween Challenge that took place at the Saphire Hoe nature reserve in Dover. The event was put on by the Saxons, Vikings & Normans Marathons & Challenges.

It was a six hour timed challenge where the idea was to complete as many 3.85 mile loops as you can within the given timeframe. Quite a large number of the competitors opted to do a marathon, which meant they would need to complete 7 laps of the multi-terrain course.

In both of his marathon races, Stu had a to complete 7 full laps and he was aiming to do it quicker than anyone else

Armed with only one small square of fudge for nutrition, Stu set off on his quest to complete his 34th marathon to date. Naturally, he set off at a frighteningly quick pace that seemed to scare off all of his nearest rivals.

At the end of the 7th lap, Stu crossed the finish line for the final time, completing the 26.2 mile distance in an astonishing time of 3:01:54. By the time he’d finished, he’d managed to ghost away from all the other participants and had built up a huge gap over the 2nd placed man. In fact, his winning margin had amounted to over 28 minutes by the time the runner up completed his 7th lap.

The spoils from Stu’s first of two outstanding performances, the Saxons, Vikings & Normans ‘Halloween Challenge’

It was then a case of ensuring he recovered well and had recuperated ready for his next marathon, the Enigma Fireworks, which took place on the following Sunday at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes.

The race was again run on a 7 lap course but with the addition of one further small loop to make up the distance. This time though, it was laps around the lake with each lap consisting of 3.55 miles and predominantly off-road.

It was a crisp 9am start so Stu wrapped up warm and set off like a rocket in a bid to raise the body temperature up to something sensible at least.

Once he got into his stride though, there was no stopping Stu. Despite having run a marathon just five days prior, he was on fire, completing the 26.52 mile distance in an astonishing time of 2 hours 50 minutes and 33 seconds. This was the third fastest time anyone had ever done that course in.

His explosive speed had simply blown everyone else away, giving him a comfortable winning margin of 7 minutes 24 seconds. It was another truly spectacular display from Stu, proving that with the talent he possesses, the sky really is the limit.

Stu had a blast at the Enigma Fireworks marathon and was over the moon to seal his second magnificent marathon victory in the space of six days



BAC men’s team on top at Gilly Hilly

Five members of the men’s team are prepped and ready to battle the lumps and bumps of the Gilly Hilly.
Left to right: Jud Kirk, Jez Bragg, Jon Sharkey, Rich Brawn, Steve Parsons

The next Dorset Road Race League fixture was The Gilly Hilly Race, which was staged by the Gillingham Trotters Running Club. The 7.5 mile route was on undulating but very scenic country roads around the Gillingham area of Dorset.

The race has managed to maintain it’s traditional, old school Dorset feel and, as it turned out, featured a little something for everyone. That’s if you like running up hills, getting confronted by horses, colliding with hay trucks or fighting through brambles! The Gilly Hilly Race of 2017 had all that and more.

In spite of the various ‘race incidents’ that took place involving Bournemouth AC members, it was actually a very successful day from a  BAC perspective. Toby Chapman claimed the race win, getting to the line in a phenomenal time of 43 minutes 52. This gave him an 24 second margin of victory over Joseph Donworth of Frome RC, with Duncan Ward of Dorset Doddlers coming in 2 seconds later to take 3rd.

Toby Chapman collects his prize from the Mayor of Gillingham for winning The Gilly Hill Race of 2017 in an incredible time of 43:52

Bournemouth AC also collected the men’s team winners prize as well, which was decided by the cumulitive time of the top 3 runners. Toby, Jon Sharkey and Jez Bragg  claimed that honour.

Jon Sharkey took 6th place on the day with a time of 44:34 with Jez securing 9th in a time of 45:22. They could easily have been denied their moment of glory if hadn’t been for the eagle-eyed Sharkey, who spotted that they had made a mistake in the results and had in fact omitted him from the original printed list.

The race organiser Ines Braun was quick to act and manage to rectify the error and sure enough, Sharkey was back on the list and the BAC trio were awarded the prizes they rightfully deserved.

Toby Chapman (left) and Jon Sharkey (right) won the men’s team competition along with Jez Bragg who had to head off before the prizes were given out

It was also 1st place for the men’s team in the Dorset Road Race League competition as well, with Toby, Sharkey, Jez, Graeme Miller and Tom Paskins finishing as the 5 scorers.

By his own high standards, Graeme didn’t have the best of races but he did still manage a 13th place finish with his time of 46:20. He hadn’t run since the interval session on the previous Tuesday so wasn’t feeling super confident about how it would turn out.

Once he’d gone through the first mile, he knew he’d be in for a tough and painful race, but he persevered and completed the race in a very creditable time, although it was 1 minute and 40 seconds slower than the time he clocked  in the same race two year’s ago.

Tom was also well off the pace by his own very high standards but he was still the 26th fastest runner over the line, finishing in a time of 47:58. Tom has had a very good season though including strong performances in the Boston Marathon, the Portland 10 and the Round The Rock 10k, as well as a famous 4 wins in four half marathons in four days at the Extreme North Quadrathon.

With all his main targeted races for year done and dusted it is understandable that Tom has eased off the training a bit and is not quite at the top of his game at the present time. That said, it was still a valuable contribution to the team effort on the day from Tom, who usually comes into his own on tough, hilly courses.

Despite the win here and the prospect of another potential win in the final fixture of the season, the Boscombe 10k, it is looking like the BAC men’s team will have to settle for 2nd place in the league this time round.

Poole AC have put together a great run of results since the Puddletown Plod back in June, winning every fixture since and have capitalised on the difficulties that BAC team captain Rich Nelson has had in getting a competitive team together.

It’s frustrating because, as performances in The Gilly Hilly Race showed, if we can get a full strength team out, Bournemouth AC are undoubtedly still the team to beat.

There could yet still be a sliver lining though, as the BAC ladies team could yet steal top spot. The league table hasn’t been updated yet after the previous race which was Gold Hill. Before that though, they were in pole position.

Despite the absence of Nikki Sandell who suffered an achilles injury in the lead up to the Bournemouth Marathon and Emma Dews as well, the ladies still managed to get a team of 3 together for Gilly Hilly, as required.

The first BAC lady over the line was Yvonne Tibble, who came in 74th place overall in a time of 55:51. Yvonne was actually the 6th woman to finish and also took the honour of 1st place in the 50-59 category.

Initially though, she was not awarded the trophy for the category win but as it turned out, the person who had been given the prize was actually a man, so Yvonne discovered about her victory later on.

This was despite an unfortunate incident where a horse reared up inches in front of her face. It was only the expert skill of the rider that prevented the horse from landing on her. The incident left her slightly shaken but she was able to gather herself and continue on.

Kirsty Drewett had her hopes of registering a sub 1 hour time scuppered when a passing Range Rover overtook her on one of the tight country roads. Unfortunately, another vehicle was approaching from the other direction. This forced the Range Rover to cut back in after passing Kirsty.

The driver seemed to forget that he was towing a trailer full of hay and the trailer hadn’t quite passed Kirsty yet which caused her to leap backwards to try to avoid it. Unfortunately she didn’t leap back far enough and the hay at the back caught her shoulder and sent her into the bushes.

To make matters worse the two vehicles were now wedged across the road without enough space for either of them to get past. This meant a further hold up as Kirsty was unable to get past the blockage in order to continue with her race. By the time she did get going again, it was too late and she’d already lost too much time to achieve her target.

She collapsed in a heap as she crossed the finish line, which is a sure sign that she’d given her all. Her time had been hampered somewhat by the hay trailer incident and she clocked 1:00:49, which isn’t bad considering her ordeal. That placed her 123rd overall and 29th lady over the line.

Completing the ladies’ team line-up and ensuring they received points for fielding the required number of team members was Louise Price.

Louise didn’t overly enjoy the race and found the hilly course tough to negotiate but she took one for team and ended up finishing in 1:05:13, putting her in 163rd place overall out of 235 finishers. She was the 52nd lady to finish.

There were several other males competing in The Gilly Hilly Race for BAC. Richard Brawn had a good run, claiming 35th place in a time of 49:15.

Richard Brawn put his recent increase in hill practice to good use, finishing in a time of 49:15 which put him in 35th place

Richard wasn’t signed up to the race originally but Pat Robbins had to pull out after suffering a bit of plantar fasciitis, thus transferring his number to Rich. Rich was quite keen to test himself on an undulating course after recently adding a lot more hill work into his training routine.

This tactic seemed to work and Rich was able to keep a reasonable pace throughout the consistent ups and downs of the first 4 miles. After that the course flattened out a bit and Rich was able to pick up the pace and maintain it till the end, picking up several places as he did.

Rich powers his way toward the finish after managing to gain several places in the latter stages of the race

He had an Egdon Heath Harrier right behind him pushing him all the way as well which helped give him the incentive to keep pushing. He was also engaged in a good battle with Nick Berry of the Dorset Doddlers in the last half a mile of the race, with Rich eventually pulling away just before the final climb.

Two weeks after he secured an impressive marathon PB of 3 hours 10 minutes at Abingdon, Adrian Townsend was back in action. Adrian loves these kind of local races and his epic marathon effort didn’t seem to affect him much as he crossed the line a stellar time of 50:16.

Adrian Townsend looks as cool as ever as he approaches the finish to round off a good couple of weeks after his previous marathon PB at Abingdon

The next BAC member to cross the line was Jud Kirk, who came in 50th place with a very respectable time of 52:16. Jud usually enjoys a hilly race but even he found the undulation of Gilly Hilly a bit of struggle. Jud was exhausted as he crossed the line and it was clear to see that he’d given everything he had.

Taking 80th place, Steve Parsons crossed the line in a solid time of 56:45. Steve found himself often gaining places on the inclines but then sometimes losing them on the downhill sections. Toward the end of the race he began to tire a bit and was extremely glad to see the finish line when it arrived on the horizon.

Steve Parsons found the constant undulation tough going but still managed to complete the race in a commendable time of 56:45

If there had been a prize for the over 70 category, Ian Graham would have won that. Ian had a decent run, crossing the line of a time of 1:01:14, putting him in 126th place. This was despite falling into some brambles and ripping some flesh on his shoulder.

The focus now switches to the final race of the Dorset Road Race League season which is the Boscombe 10k on 26th November. BAC will be hoping for another win to finish the season off strongly in the men’s competition and will be hoping to see the ladies’ team seal their league victory.

Some of the members of the Bournemouth AC team parade their medals after a tough but ultimately rewarding race.
Left to right: Rich Brawn, Kirsty Drewett, Jud Kirk, Louise Price, Tom Paskins, Yvonne Tibble, Steve Parsons, Ian Graham







Anthony, Ross and Rich scale the summits of The Stickler

The Stickler isn’t your average 10 mile race. It is billed as the Dorset 3 Peaks Challenge, featuring over 1500ft of climbing, with the route taking in the hills of Okeford, Hod and Hambledon. The tricky off road terrain starts off on the infamous Stickle Path.

Three intrepid crusaders from the Bournemouth AC fraternity were brave enough to take to the steep slopes. They were Anthony Clark, Ross Smith and Rich Nelson.

Anthony Clark is due to start training for some of his targeted races in 2018 soon and just saw The Stickler as a bit of fun really. Of course, 1500ft of climbing wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of fun but Anthony isn’t just your average athlete.

Anthony Clark enjoyed the off-road, 10 mile route with over 1500ft of climbing

Having represented England twice in the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100k race, he knows what it feels like to really push his body to limit. That said, the hills of The Stickler are enough to challenge even the hardiest of competitors.

With no pubs out on the route, Anthony felt compelled to go the full distance this time and, despite the extremity of the climbs, he still managed to keep a good pace going throughout, completing the course in a superb time of 1:12:01.

That may not sound like an especially fast time for a 10 miler but for this particular race, it really is. This put Anthony in 12th place in the overall standings, and 3rd MV40 over the line.

Anthony soars toward a 1 hour 12 minute finish which is impressive on route of such extreme inclines

The first hill out on the course was the most brutal one of the three, reaching a height of over 750ft to the top of Okeford Beacon. Ross Smith is beginning to fit a few more races into his busy schedule now and found The Stickler the perfect opportunity to test his metal on a very tough course.

Working nightshifts has made it difficult for Ross to keep up his running recently but he did compete in the first Hampshire League Cross Country fixture at Kings Park and is hoping he’ll be able to fit a lot more training and racing in next year when he starts up a new business venture.

Ross has a history of numerous successes including a silver medal in the European Cross Duathlon Championships last April demonstrating his tremendous pedigree.

Ross crossed the line in 16th place in a time of 1:13:50 which is quite staggering really considering the lack of running he’s had. There was a total of 542 finishers in the race.

It was good to see Ross Smith back out there and he met the menacing climbs with strength and gusto

BAC team captain Rich Nelson was also in action. Rich can’t resist a hilly race, having completed some tough races in his recent past including the Brecon Beacons Ultra. That race was a 32 mile trek with an elevation gain of over 11,500ft.

Even Rich struggled on the unforgiving peaks of the Stour Valley and confessed that he almost pulled out of the race at certain points, which really underlines how tough it was. He dug in though and managed to conquer the steep climbs and get to finish line.

There was considerable relief as he made it to the end, clocking a time of exactly 1 hour 30 minutes. This is still a commendable time on such a challenging route, putting Rich in 146th place overall.

Rich Nelson found it a struggle getting up the relentless peaks but he stuck it out till the end, finishing in 1 hour 30 minutes

All of those who completed the race deserve a lot of credit for doing so and also deserved a very well earned rest afterwards. The Stickler is certainly not a race for the faint hearted and exemplifies Dorset running in its truest form.



Targets achieved by BAC quartet at Abingdon Marathon

The stage was set and the time was now for Chris O’Brien as he had chosen the Abingdon Marathon as the destination in his quest to complete his first sub 3 hour marathon.

He’d had some pretty close calls before, running a 3:03 at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival last year and rather frustratingly, missing the 3 hour mark by just 29 seconds at Manchester in April this year.

That near miss didn’t stop him though and if anything, may have made him more determined to succeed next time. He was leaving nothing to chance in the build up to the Abingdon Marathon and he had been training extremely hard.

He’d completed the Maidenhead Half Marathon in under 1 hour 25 minutes, 40 miles at the Endure 24 hour race and run back-to-back half marathons distance runs, both in under 1 hour 30. The second of the two was the very hilly Winchester Half.

Despite his good form coming into the race, Chris knew he’d need to be at his best to achieve his sub 3 so there was a lot of pressure as he entered the start pens. The conditions were quite blustery as well which would add to the enormity of the task.

Chris O’Brien was going for his first ever sub 3 hour marathon at Abingdon in Oxfordshire

He felt strong for the first half of the race, managing to latch onto group which lessened the effect of the wind somewhat. He reached the half way point in 1:27:45, so all was going well up till that point. He knew he’d drop off a bit after but hoped he’d be able to hold it together.

The group dispersed after 16 miles leaving Chris on his own to battle the last 10 miles. He then felt the wind a lot more and that, coupled with the accumulating tiredness, began to take its toll on him.

Chris has his game face on as he works his way through the town centre in search of that elusive sub 3

He had a particularly bad section between miles 22 and 25 and after that point he knew his target time could easily slide away. He had to dig deep for the last mile or so. He was so determined and focused to hit the benchmark that he left it all out there.

Somehow, he still managed to find the strength to put in a sprint finish to take a place right on the line though. He was exhausted but delighted to see that he’s finally broken that sub 3 barrier, finishing in a time of 2:59:04. That put him in 78th place, out of 751 finishers.

Another BAC athlete chasing a PB was Adrian Townsend. Adrian hadn’t had the best of luck in his two previous marathons. He failed to make the start line at London earlier in the year due to nerve damage and at Brighton the previous year he was forced to pull out due to tendonitis.

Adrian Townsend was due some good fortune after injuries had prevented him from succeeding in his previous two marathon opportunities

His previous best was 3 hours 15 minutes at Paris so that was the target to beat. Fortunately, this time everything went well for Adrian and he crossed the line in a superb time of 3:10:10. This gave him a shiny new PB put him in 163rd position on the day.

As a veteran of many previous marathons, Simon Way was in his element when it came to the Abingdon Marathon. He’d slightly strained some ankle ligaments the Tuesday before that race and hadn’t ran at all since then so that was a bit of a worry. Fortunately though, that didn’t affect him during the race, although it did mess with his head a bit in the build up.

He ended up running almost the entire race on his own, having to accept the slight loss of pace on some of the more windy sections of the course. Simon was aiming for sub 2:45 finish, but found himself drifting slightly off the pace toward the latter stages of the race.

Simon makes his Way through the town centre at Abingdon as he chases a sub 2:45 finish

A friend of his then caught him up strongly inside the last mile. That gave Simon the kick up the backside that he needed to pick up the pace and finish strongly. When he saw the race clock with about 50 metres to go he had 15 seconds left to get the line.

It was a dramatic end to a gruelling race but he did it, crossing the line in 2:44:55. This put him in a very impressive 19th place overall. He was really pleased as he didn’t think he’d see the championship start at the London Marathon again, due to the sciatica issues he’s been suffering with. A sub 2:45 marathon qualifies for a championship entry at the VLM.

He has been hampered significantly by sciatica over the last couple of years, with the pain often bringing him to a standstill at the 7 mile point in any run he did. He only manages to keep it at bay now by doing daily stretching and regular core workouts.

Simon travelled up to Oxfordshire with Sanjai Sharma, who was looking to put his woes from the London Marathon earlier in the year behind. Sanjai had hid race wrecked by cramp in the final stages and was very disappointed with the time he ended up with as a result.

The Abingdon Marathon presented the perfect opportunity to put those demons behind him and he was determined to do just that. He was feeling good throughout the majority of race and remained disciplined enough to run at his pace and not get too carried away.

For the last 8 miles, Sanjai found himself running with Hilary Mott of Cheltenham and County Harriers. She was the first lady and as it panned out, was just too strong for Sanjai at the end.

Sanjai Sharma approaches the grandstand finish after a lap around the track at Tilsley Park

Although he really had a dig in throughout the latter stages of the race, Sanjai had an excellent run, crossing the line in 30th place with a time of 2:50:12. This was a great result for Sanjai and was just the boost he needed to put the events of the VLM firmly behind him.







BAC trio have the wind in their sails at The Great South Run

The Great South Run is considered to be the world’s premier 10 mile race and when you go there and experience the atmosphere and the huge field, headed up by some of the country’s top distance runners, it’s easy to see why.

The event has been going since 1990 the it was first created by Brendan Foster. It was first held in Southampton before being moved to its current location in Southsea, Portsmouth. The race has grown significantly in stature since the early years and now attracts over 15,000 people every year.

One man who does know what The Great South Run was like in its infancy is Julian Oxborough. Julian ran it back in the early 90’s and recalls that in those days only around 2,000 people took part.

Julian Oxborough did the Great South Run back in the early 90’s when the event only attracted around 2,000 people

At the time Julian was able to complete the race in 65 minutes. After a long break from running, Julian has now got back into it and, although he doesn’t posses the speed that he used to in his youth, he still enjoy the big races. He is still competitive with his times as well and is always looking to improve.

This year, Julian was aiming to complete the course in under 2 hours 15 minutes. He hit the 5k point in 34.26, then went over the 10k timer in 1.11.27. Towards the latter stages of the race though, fatigue started to kick in and he had to battle against some negative feelings.

Julian faced a battle of will as he found himself up against some tricky conditions but the support of the crowd helped keep him going

The magnificent support from the crowd helped him stay motivated though and he kept going, crossing the 15k barrier at 1:50:57. The windy conditions had really made it tough going for the last couple of miles after turning onto the seafront and this slowed Julian down a fair bit. Despite that though, he still managed to exceed his expectations on the day, finishing in a time of 1:59:35.

Julian grimaces as he digs in to reach the line before the 2 hour marker, despite the punishing headwind

At the front end of the field, Chris Thompson was victorious, for the second year in a row, with an incredible time of 48:32. He finished only a few seconds ahead of the chasing pack, who were Matt Sharp, Ben Conner and Alex Teuten of Southampton. Alex featured in the Hampshire League cross country race two weeks prior, taking 2nd place in the senior men’s race.

In the Great South Run, it is the elite women who set off first, 20 minutes before everyone else. That helps make it easier to watch the top ladies in the country battling it out against one another without any dilution.

It was Gemma Steele who got to the line first on this occasion, sealing the win in a time of 55:25. Lily Partidge of Aldershot, Farnham and District was 2nd in 55:37 and Charlotte Purdue, also of Aldershot, Farnham and District was 3rd in a time of 55:43.

The other two Bournemouth AC members in the race were Richard Brawn and Trevor Elkins. Richard had seen Trevor on the start line before the race got underway for the elite men and the masses. They discussed what time they were hoping to finish in both were looking to get around 65 to 66 minutes.

Two weeks earlier, Rich and Trevor had run together at the Bournemouth Half Marathon, along with fellow BAC member Peter Thompson. This proved a successful approach for both Rich and Trevor as they secured new half marathon PBs on the day.

As Dame Kelly Holmes sounded of the hooter to start the race, Rich and Trevor set off together, ready for another tough but exciting challenge ahead. They went through the first mile 6:25, which was about on track for the times they were looking at.

Trevor Elkins (left) and Richard Brawn (right) managed to get on TV as they crossed the start line and were also pictured in the Southampton Echo and the Daily Echo

The next couple of miles were a bit quick at 6:15 and 6:11 pace. They reached the 5k point in 19:53. If they could keep that pace up they’d be in for a really impressive result, but they knew there would be more trying times to come.

They began to relax into the race a little more after that, clocking 6:22 and 6:33 for the next couple of miles to take them to the half way point. At that point they were on for a finish of around 64 minutes if they kept up that pace. But there was still the tough seafront finish into the wind to consider in the second half of the race.

They reached the 10k point in 40:12, so were still going very well at that point. The pace began to drop a bit over the next couple of miles though, with a noticeable headwind coming into play as they edged closer to the seafront.

After reaching mile 8 they soon turned onto the seafront to feel the full force of the westerly wind. They tried to follow the slipstream of a couple of other runners for a little to stay sheltered from the wind resistance.

Rich was thinking back to the latter stages of the half marathon where he wished he had began to push on a little earlier rather than leaving it to the last half a mile or so. This time, he decided to start pushing on at the 8.5 mile point.

He soon overtook a couple of the other runners who were just ahead. Trevor was finding it tough running into the wind and was unable to stay with the increase in pace.

Rich went over the 15k mark in 1:00:51, with Trevor following around 12 seconds later. It was a tough last kilometre as the wind was so strong it was hard to accelerate, even after they reached the finishing straight.

This prevented Rich from going all out for sub 65 despite being close. He crossed the line a time of 1:05:17, which put him in 275th place overall. In  field of 16,305 people, this was a pretty good result for Rich. It was also 2 minutes quicker than his previous best over the 10 mile distance, set the Great South Run the previous year.

Rich topped off a great couple of weeks with a new PB of 1:05:17, which he was very pleased with, given the tough conditions

Shortly afterwards, Trevor crossed the line, finishing in a time of 1:05:42. Although he hadn’t quite managed the sub 65 he was hoping for, it was still a very good time, especially given the tricky conditions he was faced with. On another he would have probably done it. That said, it was still a terrific new PB for Trevor.

Rich attended the race with his brother Dave, who runs for Portsmouth Joggers. Dave has been a Southsea resident for quite some time now and it was his 9th year consecutive year in the Great South Run. Despite the testing wind at the end, he also posted his best time yet, finishing in 455th place in a time of 1:07:57.

Rich and his brother Dave are regulars at the Great South Run, turning out every year for several years running




Graeme Miller digs deep at the Cabbage Patch 10

The Cabbabe Patch 10 is a 10 mile race steeped in history. The Twickenham based event has been going since 1982 and always attracts a strong field. Previous winners of the Cabbage Patch 10 include Mo Farah and Scott Overall and the course record of 46 minutes was set in 1993 by Richard Nerukar.

This year’s edition saw Graeme Miller try his luck on the fast flat course. The route consists of a mixture of road and towpath, crossing the River Thames at Kingston Bridge and Richmond Bridge before running along the riverside to the finish at York House Civic Building.

Graeme Miller (right) is pictured here with Duncan Ward who runs for Dorset Doddlers

Although he knew it wouldn’t be a PB, Graeme has been hitting some good form of late and was hoping to break the hour mark provided his hamstrings behaved themselves.

After running the first few miles with Duncan Ward, who runs for Dorset Doddlers, Graeme was then dropped from the group and had to run the remaining 6 miles on his own.

Despite that he managed to maintain a very strong pace, finishing in a phenomenal time of 59:04. This put him in 26th place out of a whopping 1,563 participants. Duncan was 22nd in a time of 58:24. Duncan was 3rd in the male 45-49 category and Graeme was 4th.

Graeme is all smiles after a cracking performance, taking 26th place in a time of 59:04

Incidentally, Graeme’s 10 mile PB was actually set on his very same course in 2014, with a time of 58:07. Despite not topping that, he was still very happy with his performance this time round though and to finish less than a minute off his PB shows the Graeme is now beginning to recapture something very close to his best form.




Andy Gillespie makes waves in Atlantic Coast Challenge

Running a marathon is always a difficult task in itself and it requires months of training and dedication to prepare correctly for such a long race. Running three marathons in three days though is an entirely different prospect. That requires a different level of mental and physical strength and a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that remains present regardless of what obstacles are in the way.

Of course, being a veteran of 77 marathons including a couple of appearances in the 5-4-3-2-1 Salisbury 50k event does help. And all the more impressively, having successfully completed every single one of those races, Andy Gillespie has proven himself to be as tough and determined as they come. He was about to put that unblemished record on the line though in the Atlantic Coast Challenge.

With the conditions guaranteed to be windswept and with wild and rugged terrain featuring steep climbs and testing descents, three consecutive days of gruelling racing would be in store for Andy, should he manage to complete all three marathons.

Day one began just north of Constantine Bay, near Padstow and went through Newquay and onto Perranporth. The last few miles took in some sand dunes and went across the long and luscious  sandy beach. Not quite so luscious when you have to run across the sand though!

Andy Gillespie makes his way across the sandy Perranporth beach as he reaches the end of his first marathon

Andy completed the first marathon in 5 hours 39 minutes and 16 seconds, putting him in 95th position out of a total of 205 runners who started the race.

It was then onto day two for the second marathon, which started out at Perranporth and finished at St Ives Holiday Park. On this day the weather began to come into play, with high winds and rain adding to the already difficult task of running back-to-back marathons.

The rain had made it muddy under foot, which only served to add to the fun for Andy. This was possibly the easiest route of the three days though as most of the hills were over and done with by the 14  mile point.

There was another long beach in the last few miles at Gwithian. When battling against the wind, Andy felt like he was going nowhere no matter how hard he tried to run. He dug in though and made it to end, crossing the line in a time of 5:34:11, which put him in 66th place on the day.

The conditions worsened somewhat on the second day, after the rain made for a muddy and sometimes slippery surface

Day three went from St Ives Holiday Park and finished up at Lands End. The only target for the majority of runners by this point was just to get to finish, somehow someway.

The route on this day would perhaps best be described as ‘technical’. The first few miles going into St Ives were soon forgotten about once they hit the coastal path.

The rain from the previous day had left a slippery, muddy surface and to make matters worse, the terrain on this part of the path was rocky.

After 7 and a half hours of running, Andy made it to Landsend where he was presented with a delicious pasty for successfully completing the challenge. The pasty made it all worthwhile for Andy and it didn’t even touch the sides, as they say!

Although it was a longer day of running, Andy vastly improved his position on the day, proving he really has the stamina and strength to cope well with these super long distance challenges. He finished in 47th place on the day in 7:30:41.

As you would expect in a multiple race challenge, the overall results were calculated by accumulated time over the three days. Andy’s total accumulated time was 18 hours 44  minutes and 8 seconds, putting him in 61st place overall.

Andy navigates his way through the rocky coastal paths on his way toward completing his second of three marathons in three days

Only 149 out of the 205 runners who started out on the first day managed to complete all three marathons and make it to Lands End. That is testament to how tough the Atlantic Coast Challenge is.

Andy really enjoyed the three days though and, as is often the case with these types of events, the spirit and camaraderie that is built up between the runners is much greater than that of a one-off race.

Andy deserves the utmost respect for completing the Atlantic Coast Challenge. It demonstrates well the tremendous grit and determination he has to succeed in any race he enters and to see it through to the end no matter what the adversity.

This takes Andy up to an incredible total of 80 marathons so far and he’s showing no signs of easing up just yet. In fact, the challenges he’s taking on seem to be getting increasingly harder.

That only leaves 20 marathons to go to make it to the very exclusive 100 marathons club. Although it has to be said, 20 marathons is still a lot, but with the strength of character and the dedication he has, you certainly wouldn’t put it past Andy to achieve that.









Bournemouth Marathon Festival: Marathon

The showpiece race of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival was, of course, the full marathon. The route started out at Kings Park, just as the Half Marathon had two hours earlier. By the time it got going large crowds had congregated around Bournemouth Pier, most of whom had been there to see the finish of the Half Marathon.

The prize money for winning the race had been considerably reduced this year which resulted in the absence of the Kenyan athletes that came over for the event last year. This meant that local runners would have the chance to shine this time round which made for a much more exciting spectacle.

One man who was determined to seize that opportunity was Bournemouth AC’s very own Jacek Cieluszecki. Jacek has had an incredible season, winning the British edition of the Red Bull Wings for Life and victories in the Portland 10 and the Round the Rock 10k Dorset Road Race League fixtures. He’s also competed in some high profile mountain ultra races including the Eiger 51 and the OCC Mont-Blanc.

Despite his glittering array of victories, a win in the BMF Marathon was something the had so far eluded Jacek. He came 6th in it last year, 7th in 2015 and 7th in 2013. In the form that he’s in at the moment though, there was always a good chance that this could be his here.

Jacek set off at  a blistering pace of around 5:30 m/m which was simply too fast to live with for virtually all the other competitors. There was one young chap who tried to stay with JC for the first 3 miles. He may well have just wanted a brief moment in the limelight though as he soon faded away.

This left Jacek to go it alone for virtually the whole race, unless there was anyone out there quick enough to catch him. Keeping the pace consistent at around the 5:45 m/m mark, he soon built up an unassailable lead. It was soon abundantly clear the JC was going to win the race. It was only really question of how big the margin would be between himself and the 2nd placed runner and also what time he would do.

Jacek Cieluszecki was out there on his own for virtually the whole race with only the countdown of the clock and cheers from the crowds to help drive him on

As he came past the finish line the first time round which the runners had to do at mile 17, people could scarcely believe their eyes, both at how fast he was going and also how far ahead he was. There was simply no one else in sight. The second place runner arrived about 10 minutes later.

The atmosphere was electric around the Bournemouth Pier area after Jacek had gone past. He now had just over 9 miles left to go and could feed off the energy of the crowd to keep him going.

After going up the overcliff path to the left of Hot Rocks, the route then veered over to Sandbanks before working its way back to Bournemouth Pier approach for the grand stand finish.

Jacek approaches the latter stages of the race with an extremely healthy advantage of around 10 minutes over his nearest rival

As he crossed the line, the clock stopped at 2 hours 31 minutes and 59 seconds. This was a quite astounding effort, especially considering he was out on his own for virtually the whole race. It was also his fastest time to date in the BMF Marathon, eclipsing his previous effort from of 2:33:14 which he did in 2013.

Before the race Jacek had set himself the target of anything under 2:35 so he was delighted with the time. Having spent most of the summer training in the Alps and the Purbeck, he knew he’d lost a little bit of speed but had probably gained in strength and stamina.

Jacek’s nearest rival Anthony Webb of Medway Park Phoenix arrived 10 minutes and 43 seconds later, crossing the line in 2:42:42. This is still a very good time; it’s just that the time Jacek set was so incredible.

JC bombs past the coloured huts along the promenade at a sensational speed that just simply blew everyone else away

Anthony Clark was also in the race but was forced to pull out at the 17 mile point due to a hip injury. He was in 5th place at the time but just didn’t think it would be worth struggling through another 9 miles and potentially making the injury worse. Well, it was either that or he noticed people sitting outside Hot Rocks in the sun drinking pints of beer and he got too tempted by that to carry on!

Another BAC member who was in the starting line up but sadly didn’t make it to the finish was Nikki Sandell. Nikki had picked up an Achilles injury in training two weeks before she was due to so the Marathon and sadly it hadn’t healed properly by the time race day arrived.

Despite that, she thought she may as well give it a go and turned up for it anyway. Unfortunately she only managed 1.5 miles before having to pull out. The pain was too much and it would have been impossible to continue for another 25 miles in that state. She knew this would be the likely outcome though so had already pretty much accepted her fate in truth. It didn’t prevent her sticking around to watch the rest of the race, support her teammates and enjoy the remainder of the day.

Nikki Sandell only managed 1.5 miles of the race before pulling out due to the pain from the achilles injury she’d suffered a couple of weeks prior to race day

In the second part of his Bournemouth Marathon Festival double-header, Mark Hillier took on the full marathon, having run the 10k the previous day.

Mark was fairly conservative in the first half of the race and was cautious not to aggrevate any of his injuries or niggles. he then stepped it up a bit in the second half and at the end of the race he was pleased to see that he’d done a negative split.

He feels that perhaps he could have got under 3:30 but ultimately, he was dead chuffed with his time of 3:38:18, which put him in 269th place.

Mark did the London Marathon in 1989 when he was 18 and then again when he was 1991. He then stopped running for about 10 years whilst making a foray into mountain biking. About 5 years ago, he started running again, but doing only shorter distance races to half marathon distance.

A few months back, Mark reckons he started to have a midlife crisis resulting in him entering Race to the King – a 53 mile ultra over the South Downs. He was kind of hoping this would temper his sudden urge to push himself to the limit but he ended up doing better than he expected and, even though it hurt, all it did was fuel his desire to push himself even further.

He has now entered the Marathon des Sables, which is renowned for being the toughest footrace on earth. The race consists of 156 miles done in six stages over seven days through the Sahara desert with temperatures regularly hitting 50 centigrade. He’s hoping this will be enough to finally quell that desire to take things to the extreme.

As part of his training he headed down to Devon a few weeks ago to do a 33 miler over Dartmoor. The weather was grim and it was all off-road, so it was more like 1/3 running, 1/3 hiking and 1/3 dragging himself through the mud. But he completed it and thoroughly enjoyed it. He’s also entered the Bovingdon Marathon in December and is contemplating whether he is brave enough to enter the Brecon Beacons 46 miler in mid-November.

Carl Jenkins, who has been training with BAC recently on Tuesday and Thursday nights, was also running. Carl completed the course in 3:42:59, putting him in 314th place.

This was a decent time given that he hadn’t done much proper marathon training in the lead up to the race and it was still 7 minutes quicker than last year.

When he’s on top form though, Carl is a force to be reckoned with, and his PB is 3:02:28 which he did at the Rotary Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2011.

He’ll now be turning his attention to the ABP Southampton in April where he’ll be running his next marathon. Hopefully, with an adequate amount of training, he should be on course for a much quicker time than the one he’s just posted at at the BMF.

Whilst Jacek was racing over the finish line to seal his glorious victory, Tamzin Petersen was crossing the line for the first time meaning she was now at the 17 mile point in her race.

Tamzin had been aiming for a sub four hour finish and had been following a rigorous training programme in order to get herself the best chance of hitting her target. This meant four months of extremely long runs, every single weekend.

She got through it though and was poised to do well and give it all she’s got on race day. The first 12 miles went smoothly and felt comfortable although she was running at a slightly faster pace than she’d trained at. Then the trouble started!

She was struck by a massive cramp in her calf. She had also felt this the day before as well and it seemed to have just appeared for no apparent reason. Her hip then started to play up as well which added to the frustration. She then saw her parents who had come to cheer her on and was able to grab some painkillers from them before shuffling on.

She managed to run the next 5 miles, digging in as deeply as she could, determined not to pull out of the race she’d trained so hard for. By the time she got to the 16 mile stage she already knew she wasn’t going to meet any or her goals, or even get a PB. That made the last 10 miles a real mental battle.

To give credit where credit is due, she carried on through and managed to see the race through till the end, which shows a lot of character. Her finishing time was 4:10:22 which put her in 734th place.

Whilst it was not the race she wanted, she lives to fight another day and will no doubt have the mental fortitude to put this behind her and move onto the next challenge. All is not lost though. She has made good progression since starting her marathon training and that progression that she’s made will be far more important to her in the long term than the glory gained from a one-off race.

This highlights one of the most brutal aspects of marathon running. No matter who you are and what training you’ve put in, it all comes down to that 3 or 4 hours of racing in which anything could happen. Suffering cramps toward the end of a race is regular theme for marathon runners and they have ruined many a marathon before and they will do many times again.

At the other end of the scale, if everything goes right, as it did for Jacek, you can achieve something truly momentous that will stay with you forever.

Jacek races to the finish line to complete a magnificent victory in a time of 2:31:59