Category Archives: Road_Reports

Roy and Dave Long make short work of Leeds Abbey Dash

Roy Long took on the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
After an absence of almost four years from the road race circuit, Roy Long (right) was back out there again in the Leeds Abbey Dash, along with his son and Bournemouth AC teammate Dangerous Dave

Following a couple of spectacular performances in the Supersonic 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and the Great South Run a couple of weeks later Dave Long was going into the Leeds Abbey Dash full of optimism.

After setting a blistering new course record of 30:42 in the BMF 10k and getting some well earned TV time in the Great South Run after being up with a lead group containing greats such as Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon, for the first couple of miles at least.

Going on to finish in an incredible time of 49:55, it was a magical day for Dave and even by his high standards, delivering a sub-50 10-mile performance was something that seemed almost inconceivable.

All that made the prospect of another 10k PB at the Leeds Abbey Dash seem very realistic. In fact, there was even a possibility that if he hits the heights of his previous two performances, he could break 30 minutes.

Dave Long in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Dave Long had been in a rich vein of form going into the Leeds Abbey Dash race so had every reason to feel optimistic

The Leeds Abbey Dash is renowned for being on the flattest and fastest 10k road races in the country. And it’s certainly one of the biggest, with over 8,000 people taking part.

The premise of the race is to raise money for Age UK, a charity that helps care for older people who are on their own and feel isolated and lonely.

Dave’s Dad, Roy, who is also a member of Bournemouth AC, was also in action at the Leeds Abbey Dash. Much like Dave is now, Roy himself was a top quality runner in his hay day.

After some years out, Roy has started to make a comeback over recent months and has been joining some of the BAC training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings.

He’s also done the odd parkrun here and there and has seen his fitness improve and his running progress really well over that time. He hadn’t actually done a 10k race since 2014 though, so he could have been forgiven for being a bit ring-rusty.

The last proper race he participated in was the 5,000 metres on the track in the Southern Athletics League fixture at Yeovil in May. Still, Roy felt it was worth giving it a go and it would be an opportunity for him to see where he’s at with his running comeback.

Roy Long at Poole parkrun
Besides the odd parkrun here and there, Roy’s lack of competitive racing left him unsure of what kind of performance he would be able to produce

The route for the race was around the metropolitan area of Leeds city centre. When the race started, Dave shot off like a rocket, looking to be up there battling with the front runners.

Going through the first mile in a staggering 4:38, it certainly looked as if it was going to be a ‘boom or bust’ occasion for Disco. Even going that quickly though, he still wasn’t in the lead, which gives an indication of the amazing standard of field that this race attracts.

Unlike at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, he wouldn’t be struggling for competition to help push him to new heights. For his second mile, he posted a 4:47, which was still super-quick. After that though, he began to feel the effects of his incredibly fast start.

In the third mile, he went over the 5 minute mile marker and he knew then that it was going to be a tough run-in for the remainder of the race.

Dave Long coasting in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
After a blisteringly quick first couple of miles, Dave blew up and ended up suffering for the rest of the race as a result

To his credit though, Dave kept on going and was still banging out the miles at a pace that most people could only dream of. It just wasn’t the performance he was hoping for though.

Crossing the line in 31 minutes and 40 seconds, Dave registered 62nd place in the overall standings. That was an impressive time by most peoples’ standards and it was staggering to think that 61 of the participants were able to run it in a quicker time than that. Again, that underlines how fiercely competitive this race was.

It’s all part of the learning process for Dave though. Even an athlete at his level can still get it wrong sometimes. Achieving great results in running is all about pushing the boundaries of what you are capable of. That of course, carries with it a certain level of risk.

The race was won by Adam Craig, who finished in a tremendous time of 29:08. Seven men in total managed to get under that hallowed 30 minute marker and amazingly, 32 men went under 31 minutes. It truly was a phenomenal standard.

In a surprising turn of events, it was actually Roy rather than Dave who really stole the show. Roy put in an astounding display, running consistently at sub-6-minute miles throughout the race. In fact, in three of those miles he was at 5:45 pace or under.

Roy Long rolling back the years in Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Rolling back the years, Roy found himself in much better shape than even he expected as a raced round the fast, flat course at a very impressive speed

As he approached the finish line, Roy could scarcely believe it himself when he looked at his watch and saw he was in for a sub-37-minute time.

Crossing the line in a remarkable 36 minutes and 35 seconds, Roy came in at 366th place overall. It really was a bolt out of the blue from Roy and gave him 5th place in the MV50 category.

It just goes to show, provided they are willing to work for it, once a runner has a certain level of ability instilled within them, it’s always possible to bring that out, no matter how much time has passed and how many injuries and difficulties they’ve had to overcome.

In truth, Roy knew he’d been running well in training and had been making every effort to try to get the best out of his sessions whilst being careful not a push it too far and risk triggering any injuries. He had no idea he was in good enough shape to run a 36:35 10k though. It was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Roy Long heading for line in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k
Glancing at his watch as he approaches the finish, Roy is shocked to see that he’s in for a superb sub-37-minute time

 

Emma back in the swing of things at New Forest Stinger

Emma Caplan on the ascent in the New Forest Stinger
The New Forest Stinger featured some testing inclines but just three months into her comeback, Emma Caplan felt ready to tackle the tough ten miler

It’s only been three months since Emma Caplan, the athlete formerly know as Emma Dews, had her baby. Since then she’s made an extraordinary comeback to the running circuit, winning the ladies race at the Hoburne 5 league fixture in her first official race back.

It wasn’t an easy or a comfortable victory for Emma either as she was pushed all the way by Laura Pettifer of Kenilworth Runners. What that seemed to do though was to bring out Emma’s competitive edge and it was good to see that since giving birth she hadn’t lost that side to her game.

She’s also made a welcome return back to cross-country action, taking part in the first fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League where she ran really well to secure 20th place in the women’s race and 4th placed vet, just ahead of teammate Georgia Wood who was 22nd and 5th vet.

Those were encouraging results for Emma as she continues her quest to get back to her best form. Of course, for that to happen there will be a certain amount of patience required but with Emma’s determination and mental strength, there’s no doubt she’ll get back there again.

After her fantastic intro back onto the running circuit though, Emma felt it was time to ramp things up a bit, thus decided to put herself down for the New Forest Stinger.

The Stinger is basically an extremely hilly version of a cross country race, except that it’s 10 miles long in contrast to the much shorter distances usually covered in XC, especially by the ladies.

The scenic route ran through the beautiful New Forest National Park and included forest trails, woodland paths and open heathland amongst the challenging multi terrain surfaces. Organised by Totton Running Club and started from Ocknell Campsite.

Emma wasn’t there to make up the numbers though. She meant business and was immediately up at the front with the lead pack. It soon became evident that Emma was going to boss proceedings as far as the ladies were concerned.

In fact, the way she was going it didn’t look as if many men were going to finish ahead her either. The biggest hill of the race was, of course, The Stinger, and that came into play just after mile 6. It was tough but Emma made it up okay.

Emma Caplan at the start of the New Forest Stinger
Emma sets off on her way in her longest race to date since making her almighty comeback

After going down that there was another testing incline at mile 7.4 and then some more climbing to do from 8.6 miles through to 9.4 miles. Rounding off a very tough second half of the race there is even another hill to tackle just before the finish.

Holding her own well over the latter stages of the race, Emma made it the line in an incredibly impressive 5th place overall, registering a time of 1:09:19.

Finishing virtually two minutes ahead of the next lady who was Hayley Higham, it was another fantastic win for Emma in the women’s race and a huge stepping stone on her journey back to her best.

The overall winner of the race was Daniel Campion of Lordshill Road Runners who tore round the course in 1:04:45. Mark Stileman of Romsey Road Runners was 2nd in 1:05:25 with Richard Swindlehurst of Poole AC taking 3rd in 1:07:12.

The fact that she’s already mixing it with the front runners in races of this ilk so soon in her comeback is a testament to the outstanding ability the Emma possesses.

The course came up slightly longer than 10 miles as well and Strava had her down as going through 10 miles in 1:07:41 which makes Emma’s run all the more impressive.

Having her back in the ranks will be a massive boost for the Bournemouth AC ladies. In her absence they have found it difficult to get a team of three together for some of the league races over the course of the season and have often struggled to contend for the top placings.

It’s not too late for the BAC women to salvage something from the season though as, with a couple of strong performances at the last two remaining fixtures, the Wimborne 10 and the Boscombe 10k, they could still sneak into the runners up spot in the DRRL First Division. With only two points separating Littledown Harriers, BAC and Poole AC, it’s all to play for.

That would be a big achievement for the BAC ladies, given the difficulties they had in getting a team together through the middle part of the season. After gaining a late entry into the Wimborne 10, Emma could have a big role to play in that and, if her performance at the The Stinger is anything to go by, she could be a contender for top honours in a somewhat less challenging 10 mile race.

In fact, having Emma back at the club seems to have given everyone a lift and the prospects look good for BAC with the last two fixtures happening over the next couple of weekends. The men’s team look poised to seal the league title at the Wimborne 10 with an extremely strong squad lined up to launch an assault.

Emma Caplan climbs a hill in the New Forest Stinger
A brilliant result for Emma saw her take 5th place overall, completing the hardcore 10 mile route in a terrific time of 1:09:19

 

Steve Parsons on the way up at Gilly Hilly

Steve Parsons in the Gilly Hilly race
Just as he did last year, Steve Parsons was going for a Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly double and was hoping to see some improvement on his time at Gilly Hilly, just as he had at Gold Hill a few weeks prior

Without the carrot of being a Dorset Road Race League fixture this time round, the field for the Gilly Hilly race was somewhat diminished. That said, there were still some good quality athletes in the mix.

Unlike last year, when Bournemouth AC rolled out the big guns in a bid to secure maximum league points, this time round, it was only Steve Parsons who took to the start line in a yellow and blue vest.

Last year Steve finished in a time of 56:45, taking 80th place in the overall standings. That gave him a target to beat at least, as races carrying a distance of 7.5 miles are quite few and far between.

In fact it was the longest race Steve had ever done when he took the country roads of Gillingham, Dorset, last year. Now he’s up to Half Marathon distance having ran the Solent Half back in September.

There has been a noticeable upturn in Steve’s performances this season and in his last race, the Gold Hill 10k, he saw an improvement of almost two-and-a-half minutes on his 2017 time.

That gave him the belief that he could also go significantly quicker than he did last in the Gilly Hilly race. This time round he found it tougher than he’d remembered though. That may have been partly because last year he was coming back after such a horrific race at Gold Hill that it had made the mildly undulating Gilly Hilly course seem a breeze.

He remembered it was undulating but there were a couple of drags that were somewhat harder than he was expecting. It was a different experience for him on this occasion though since he knew only about 100 people had entered so he was hoping for a decent placing.

Steve Parsons during Gilly Hilly
Steve saw an improvement of almost two-and-a-half minutes on his time at the Gold Hill 10k verses the previous year which reflects the excellent progress he’s been making this year

With that in mind, he got himself right up near the front at the start of the race. Knowing that the course was tougher in the first half of the race, he decided to go out reasonably hard and then if he could get to half way, he thought he should be able to push on in the second half.

About ten of the runners went off really quickly but there was a fairly good line of runners following and he was in around 15th place for the first kilometre.

Only having slipped back a couple of places from there by 5k point, he was feeling pretty good at that stage. There was a bit of a climb at the half way point and he started to feel like he was working hard going up that.

A few more people went past him then and he knew for the remainder of the race it would just be a case of hanging on and trying not to lose any more places in the second half.

Finding himself really wanting to push on, his efforts up till that point had taken quite a bit out of him so he just concentrated on trying to maintain the same distance between himself and the runner in front and not allowing the gap to get much bigger.

Knowing there were a few runners behind him but that they were fairly spaced out by that point, he just wanted to keep them there so he got his head down and grafted.

With about a mile-and-a-half to go he arrived at a sharp incline that he’d completely forgotten about. The guy who behind made his move to overtake Steve at that moment.

Making every attempt to dig in and stay with him, with around half a mile to go he pushed on and Steve just couldn’t respond. He’d dropped to about 20 metres behind by the time they got onto the final climb.

Although he was gaining over the last 100 metres, Steve couldn’t quite catch his rival as they reached the line. That little battle had served to keep him motivated though and had given him a good incentive to keep pushing over the latter stages of the race. He was quite pleased about that despite not quite being able to overhaul him.

Unfortunately the weather had not been as nice it was last year and the views were definitely not as spectacular. Steve got pretty wet in the process but he had beaten his time from the previous year by 73 seconds so he was pleased with that.

Posting a time of 55:28, Steve crossed the line in 21st position out of a field of 108 entrants. This was his highest ever placing in a race. He was also proud to be able to say that it was the second year in a row he’d done the Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly double.

Steve Parsons after Gilly Hilly
He may have got pretty wet in the process but Steve registered his highest ever placing in a race, crossing the line in 21st place, so it was all worthwhile

 

 

 

Stu Nicholas completes Cornish Marathon to conquer 50 target

Stu Nicholas celebrates his 50 marathon achievement
It was a huge milestone reached for Stu Nicholas as he went back to his Cornish roots for a race that would see him achieve his target of 50 marathons

In his final race that would take him up to his goal of 50 marathons by end of the year, it was only fitting that Stu Nicholas was back in his spiritual home of Cornwall for the illustrious Cornish Marathon.

Having grown up in the area, it was the fifth time that Stu had lined up for the Cornish Marathon. He still runs for his previous club St Austell as second claim so he was back representing them for the day in their familiar purple and gold vest.

Although it has a reputation for being quite a tough one, Stu loves the Cornish Marathon route. It starts off with a couple of one mile loops to thin the pack out. That is followed by four hilly miles leading to Golitha Falls, which was waterlogged resulting in a flooded road for approximately 25 metres.

It then skirts around Colliford Lake for 10 miles until you reach the dreaded Draynes Valley which is six miles of flat running alongside the River Fowey. After that you then retrace your steps back to where it all began.

Stu Nicholas in Cornish Marathon
Stu was back in the purple and gold of his second claim club St. Austell

For a large part of the race Stu was running with Marc Smerdon, the same guy he had a good head-to-head battle with at the Eden Marathon three weeks prior. He and Marc have had their fair share of duals before in the past when Stu lived in the area so this was nothing new to them.

Stu and Marc ran together up until the 16th mile when Stu decided to push on. It was then that he secured what would turn out to be an excellent 3rd place finish.

Stu Nicholas refuelling during the Cornish Marathon
Stu takes on a refreshment as he progresses along the very familiar Cornish roads

The weather had been ideal on the day, although it did turn to light drizzle over the last six miles or so. Stu didn’t mind that though and, as he crossed the line in a marvellous time of 2:48:41, the realisation of what he had achieved began to dawn on him.

He’d done it! He’d made it to the big 50 before the turn of the year. All his hard work, training and dedication had paid off and he could now finally rejoice with a full year’s worth of marathon exploits behind him.

It was a momentous occasion for Stu and his family had come out to support him, along with his partner Anna and her parents. No doubt they were all incredibly proud of Stu for his Herculean accomplishment.

Stu Nicholas' parents supporting him in Cornish Marathon
Stu had some great support out on the route from his family, as well as his partner Anna and her parents, pictured here with a banner

After the race Stu picked up his Cornish hamper and mini trophy for 3rd place. He was also part of the St. Austell team that won the team prize for the 10th year in a row.

Stu Nicholas collects his prize for 3rd place in Cornish Marathon
Stu picks up his prize for a superb 3rd place finish

As well as Stu in 3rd, St. Austell also had Dan Alsop who finished 2nd in 2:44:59, Simon Williams who was 5th in 2:58:02 and Jamie Masters who was 6th in 3:07:22. The individual race was won by Dan Nash of Cardiff AAC who clocked a stunning time of 2:35:29.

Stu Nicholas with his St Austell club-mates who won the team prize
Stu and three of his St. Austell teammates were given a bottle of wine each for winning the team competition

For Stu though, it was all about hitting that big 50 benchmark. He’d started the year on 36 marathons, meaning he’d had to complete 14 marathons to meet his target.

At the beginning of the year it looked a tall order and was clearly going to be a challenge, but Stu likes a challenge. In fact, that’s what really gets him going.

He set about researching different marathons and mapping out a potential schedule that he could follow for the year that would enable him to hit his goal.

Kicking off the year with a back-to-back wins in the Winter Enigma event at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. That was the first time he’d run two marathons on two consecutive days but he’d set an early precedence of what was to come for the rest of the year.

Next up it was the Dark Star River Marathon, which was a demanding 28.2 mile trek along the muddy banks of the River Adur. He almost came unstuck in that one but persevered through a tough last five miles to take 4th place.

Stu Nicholas in the Darkstar River Marathon
Despite a tough end to the race, Stu took 4th place in the Darkstar River Marathon

In February he was back to winning ways at the Phoenix Running ‘Jaw Dropper’ Marathon, where he was the only man to finish in a sub-three time.

That was followed by one of the ‘Week at the Knees’ marathons in March, which was back at his happy hunting ground of Caldecotte Lake. Again he emerged victorious despite suffering some stomach issues on the day.

Stu Nicholas in the Week at the Knees Marathon
Stu picked up a brilliant win the one of the seven ‘Week at the Knees’ marathons

Not long after he was back in action again at the Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon where he was in 2nd place up until the 23rd mile when he hit a wall. It became a real battle from that point on but he still completed the race though, taking 7th place and most importantly, adding marathon number 42 to his tally.

As well as doing all these marathons, Stu was also finding the time and the strength to race for Bournemouth AC in the majority of the Dorset Road Race League fixtures, even if he was feeling shattered off the back of his latest marathon.

In May he took part in the North Dorset Village Marathon, which actually was a Dorset Road Race League fixture, so with that he could kill two birds off with one stone.

On a sweltering hot day, Stu somehow managed to get around the course in another superb sub-three-hour time and actually ended up in the winning team for the day, alongside Steve Way and Ant Clark who finished 1st and 3rd.

Stu Nicholas in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Stu took 9th place in the North Dorset Village Marathon finishing in a time of 2:58:40

Later on that month Steve and Stu were both back in action in the Dorchester Marathon, where Steve again emerged victorious, whilst Stu claimed 4th place, getting to the line in a superb time of 2:54:04.

Stu Nicholas in the Dorchester Marathon
The Dorchester Marathon saw Stu seal yet another excellent sub-3-hour time

In July he took on another marathon double header, with the Black Knight Challenge being followed by the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge the next day. Both races took place at Kings Wood in Kent. He won the Black Knight Challenge at a canter, finishing 14 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

In the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge he had a comfortable lead after five laps of the 6 lap race but he then blew up and could no longer carry on. It was gutting, not just because he was in the lead but also because it would have taken him up to marathon number 46, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

That DNF had the consequence of throwing him off-track, meaning he’d have to somehow shoehorn an extra marathon in somewhere to make up for the loss. Instead of giving up though, he set about looking to put a contingency plan in place.

At the end of July, he’d already pencilled in another marathon double header, but this time it was basically two marathons on the same day.

He was taking on the Dorset Invader Marathon on the Saturday morning and was then due to run the Midnight Marathon that same day, in the evening, starting at 9pm.

This was again, something he hadn’t done before so he wasn’t sure how his body would cope, but there was only one way to find out. He completed the 28.5 mile Dorset Invader Marathon in 3 hours 38 minutes, putting him in 3rd place.

He then went home to refuel before heading back out that evening to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park for the South Downs Midnight Marathon. It was a tough course which included some rocky terrain, giving his feet a bit of battering, but he completed it, finishing in 15th place and crucially taking his tally up to 47.

Stu Nicholas in the South Downs Midnight Marathon
At the South Downs Midnight Marathon, Stu faced his 2nd marathon in one day

That left him with three marathons remaining. At the beginning of September he took on the Andover Trail Marathon, where he took 4th place crossing the line in 3 hours 42 minutes.

In October, he headed back to his original home of Cornwall for the Eden Marathon, making a heroic return to the scene by recording a spectacular victory.

It was a very good performance as well for Stu as he clocked a time of 2 hours 53 minutes to give him a winning margin of two-and-a-half minutes. That led him onto the Cornish Marathon for his final act.

Stu Nicholas winning the Eden Marathon
Making a triumphant return home to Cornwall, Stu secured a momentous victory at the Eden Marathon

Overall it’s been a pretty incredible year for Stu. He may have had his ups and downs along the way but ultimately it’s been a hugely rewarding journey where he’s shown amazing commitment, a tremendous work ethic, perhaps a little craziness but, above all, an iron will to succeed in whatever he turned his hand to.

After his 50th marathon, Stu was being congratulated on his achievement and his response, much to his girlfriend Anna’s horror, was to say thanks and that he’s half way there now!

After seeing everything he’s been through over the course of the year, Anna was probably hoping that he’d have a rest now and celebrate reaching the 50 mark.

That comment kind of sums Stu up really though. He’s already setting his sights on his next big goal and if that indication is anything to go by, there will be plenty more to come on the marathon front from Stu Nicholas in 2019.

Stu Nicholas after completing his 50th marathon
Having completed no less than 14 marathons in 2018, Stu had made it to the big 50 – an achievement well worth celebrating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puncture leaves Ross Smith deflated at European Cross Duathlon Championships

Ross Smith on bike leg of European Cross Duathlon Championships
Ross Smith travelled over to Ibiza to compete for Great Britain in the 2018 European Cross Duathlon Championships

When it comes to representing your country at a European Championships, that is time when you absolutely want everything to go smoothly and free from any difficulties presented by mechanical faults or other such mishaps that might impede your ability to perform to your true potential.

That is of course what Ross Smith was hoping for when he headed out to Ibiza to compete in the European Cross Duathlon Championships representing Great Britain. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t always work out that way as Ross was about to discover.

For the past four months Ross had been training hard for the event in a determined bid to mix it with the best in a high quality international field. As a result, he’d seen some tremendous progression with his running, posting some magnificent PB’s along the way including an amazing 10 mile best at the Portland 10 in June.

As for the cycling part, he’s always been strong riding off road and wasn’t expecting that aspect to present him any problems in the race itself. In duathlon events though, anything can happen. Ross always pencils in a race around a holiday and has learnt to expect the unexpected.

Ross Smith testing out the bike route for the Euro Cross Duathlon Champs
Ross went out to Ibiza a few days earlier so he could test out the bike route a few times before the race

It was Ross’s first ever visit to the northern region of Ibiza and he arrived a few days earlier to ride the course a few times and get to grips with the terrain as well as to enjoy some sightseeing.

Both the run routes and the cycling routes were were off-road and there were some very steep climbs, particularly on the bike course. When it came to race day though, he felt as prepared as he could be for the occasion.

It was the run first and as soon as the gun went off, everyone was scrambling to get onto the small tracks that formed a pathway through the bamboos. After running for 30 minutes in 24 degree heat and over mixed terrain, including some of Ibiza’s sandy beaches, his heart rate was already above 190.

Ross Smith on the first running leg of his European Cross Duathlon Champs race
The run route took Ross across the some of Ibiza’s glorious beaches

Grabbing his bike quickly in the transition, he was soon heading for the first, extremely steep 500ft climb on lap 1. His legs weren’t liking it but he managed to get to the top and after a quick gasp of air he was on his way back down.

It was at that point that he noticed his tyre started leaking sealant after being ripped by a rock. This was gutting for Ross as it had interrupted his flow but nonetheless, he managed to stop, fix it and continue.

Ross Smith on bike leg of European Cross Duathlon Champs
Ross rushes to try and make up some of the time he’d lost due to his unfortunate puncture

Unfortunately though, that wasn’t the end of his problems. As he was coming round on the second lap, it became evident that the hole had not fully sealed and his tyre went flat again.

At that point he thought about quitting but he didn’t want to DNF. Managing to keep it topped up with air just enough to finish the bike segment, he was onto the final run.

Despite all his trials and tribulations on the bike ride, he still had fun on the fast and dangerous downhill sectors. After completing his run, he was chuffed to have finished the race and that was an achievement in itself after all the issues he had with his tyre.

Ross Smith on the bike leg at the European Cross Duathlon Championships
After managing to fix the puncture the first time round, Ross found that air was still leaking out of the hole and suffered another on the second lap

It was a brave effort from Ross and he showed tremendous character and resolve to keep going even though it seemed like the fates were conspiring against him massively.

He still managed to finish 68th out of 137 competitors, which is a fantastic result given that he probably lost around 10 minutes from stopping and trying to fix his tyre on the bike leg. In a field containing all the top cross duathlon athletes in Europe that is some achievement. Who knows where he would have finished if the bike leg had gone smoothly.

Wearing the GB vest and representing his country is always a great honour for Ross though and overall it was still a good experience. No doubt he’ll be back again to give it another shot and the not to distant future and hopefully he won’t have such cursed luck next time round.

Ross Smith with Great Britain squad for Multisport Triathlon European Championships
Ross with the entire Great Britain Multisport Triathlon squad for the 2018 European Championships

 

 

Nick Kenchington toughs it out at The Stickler

Nick Kenchington takes on The Stickler
Nick Kenchington doesn’t usually mind a tough hill or two – or three in the case of The Stickler

Thought to be one of Dorset’s toughest off-road races, The Stickler saw a return to action of Bournemouth AC stalwart Nick Kenchington, as he went in search of some form that would give him something to build on in the coming months.

The Stickler is of course Dorset’s answer to the Three Peaks Challenge and the three climbs of Okeford Hill, Hod Hill and Hambledon Hill will provide a challenge to even the most hardy of competitors, not the mention the infamous ‘Stickle Path’.

It’s a very testing route but Nick does the majority of his training out on the Purbecks so he’s very familiar with rough and rugged terrain and also overcoming unscrupulous climbs. The Stickler features over 15,000ft of climbing over the course of the 10 mile route.

The race begins with an immediate ascent up Okeford Hill which goes on for around a mile and a half. It’s then an undulating but steady downhill curve until the climb up Hod Hill just after mile 6.

After a sharp descent from the top of Hod, it’s then onto the final ascent up Hambledon Hill, which is another climb of about a mile in length. It’s then back down again and in toward the finish for the remainder of the race.

Battling extremely hard to negotiate the rigorous ascents, Nick reached the finish line in a time of 1:16:04 which put him in 26th place overall out of some 544 runners.

Whilst on the face of it, that might seem like a good result, Nick wasn’t happy with his performance and always demands more from himself.

He feels that perhaps age is catching up with him a little as he pushes on toward 58. Of course, he’s still in fine shape for a man of those years but his competitive edge keeps him wanting to be able to contest affairs higher up the field.

Finding that he tends to lose a lot of places on the downhill sectors, Nick’s agility is not perhaps what it once was and that’s something he finds frustrating.

If he could train harder he would but Nick tends to find that harder he trains the more injured he becomes so it’s difficult to find the right balance.

One of the aspects the disappointed Nick most about the race was the fact that he was only 5th best in the MV50 category. He usually targets a high category placing in races at least so that was something that he found tough to take.

Like all good athletes though, Nick will pick himself up and press on to the next one and with a bit of luck there will be some better results to come for him in future endeavours.

The race was won by Edward Rees of Clapham Chasers in a time of 1:07:16, with Ruth Barnes impressively taking 2nd place overall and 1st lady, finishing close behind in 1:07:38. That was a new women’s course record as well, so an incredible effort from her.

Luke De-Benedictis and Bill Day of Poole Runners were 3rd and 4th, finishing in 1:09:28 and 1:10:13 respectively, with Joseph Sherwood of Littledown taking 5th in 1:11:31.

The next female was almost 10 minutes behind Ruth and that Fay Cripps who crossed the line in 1:17:02, winning the FV40 category. Alice Whiley of Clapham Chasers was 3rd lady in 1:17:56.

Nick Kenchington in The Stickler
Although he wasn’t overly happy with his run, Nick still came in 26th place with a decent time of 1:16:04

 

Day to remember for Disco as BAC members descend on Great South Run

Dave Long racing past in the Great South Run
The splendid conditions on the day brought with them a sense of optimism for Dave Long as he and seven other Bournemouth AC members hit the streets of Portsmouth and Southsea for the 2018 Great South Run

When this year’s batch of Great South Run competitors woke up on race day morning and looked out of the window, they would have seen exactly what they were hoping for. Everything was still. Not a leaf twitching. Not a flower flailing. Not so much as a hint of movement in the air. For anyone feeling at the top of their game or in a decent run of form, it was on. The chance to crown their Power of 10 profile with a new 10 mile best had arrived.

The race was shown live on Channel 5 and attracted over 15,000 participants of a varied range of abilities. Many dress up in costumes and run for charity, some are of the more competitive club runner persuasion and others are the true elites of British distance running.

The course is a 10-mile route through the streets and coastal roads of Portsmouth and Southsea. It takes in famous landmarks such as the HMS Warrior and HMS Victory and of course, the iconic Spinnaker Tower. Because the course is so flat and there tends to be such an amazing amount of support from the watching crowds, it’s a great opportunity for a fast time.

There were eight Bournemouth AC representatives in amongst the masses congregating on the start-line in their relevant pens before the warm up routine got underway. After his stunning performance in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k two weeks earlier, Dave Long had high hopes for a good time at the Great South Run.

It was a target race for Dave and he’d completed a block of very hard and focused training in the lead up for the race. His performance in the BMF 10k, where he set a new course record time of 30 minutes and 42 seconds, gave him hope that he would be able to produce something special, or rather, something ‘naughty’ as he would call it.

The average pace for his 10k was an incredible 4:54 minutes per mile. That run, coupled with the course profile of the GSR meant he could even perhaps allow himself to dare to dream of a sub-50 time. It’s something not too many people have achieved over the years but if everything went right, the possibility was there.

Three other Bournemouth AC members who had been in action at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival were also competing in the Great South Run. Chris O’Brien completed the Half Marathon at the BMF, finishing in a very good time of 1:26:50 and Rich Brawn and Richard Cannings had both been in action in the Full Marathon, finishing in close proximity of each other at around 3 hours 15 minutes.

Originally Julian Oxborough was also down for the Full Marathon at the BMF but he had given up his place decided that he wouldn’t be fit enough to do it justice. Instead he decided to focus on getting into as good a shape as he could for the Great South Run as he’d then have a couple more weeks to fit in some decent training runs.

Fuelled by a plant only diet, Sean Edwards was wearing his Vegan Runners vest for the occasion. He’s been in pretty good form of late and was hoping the GSR might provide another quick time to bolster his Power of 10 profile. Paul Whitty and Rob Spall were also in action representing Bournemouth AC.

The women’s elite group kicked off the proceedings off containing some top names such as Eilish McColgan, Gemma Steel and Steph Twell. Shortly after, the men’s elite runners were called to the start-line as they set off along with the upper echelon of club runners and the masses.

The front group were led out the two major contenders for the race win, Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson. Around another eight runners were in that lead group, one of which was none other than Bournemouth AC’s very own Dave Long.

For the first couple of miles Dave was hanging onto the coat-tails of that lead group, despite the blistering pace that Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson were setting. They gradually began to edge away from the group, making it quite evident that it was going to be a two-horse race for the win.

Although he began to fall off the back of the group at around mile three, the fact that he could even mix it some of the best distance runners in the country like Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson was an astonishing achievement in itself.

Dave Long in the Great South Run
Dave started off in the lead group but after a while he found himself on his own with only the clock to race against

By mile four the group had been completely split with Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson building up quite a big margin out at the front. Dave was on his own by that point and that was how it would remain for the rest of the race. It was just him against the clock now.

For the first half of the race he was well on course for a sub-50 time. He managed to maintain the pace okay for the next couple of miles but it was in the last three miles where it started to get tough.

He had that goal of a sub-50 in his mind though and was determined not to let it slip without a fight. It was a real battle from that point on and it was hurting like crazy but Dave dug deep. In fact, he had to dig deeper than he ever has before.

He didn’t have a lot of time to spare when he came round the corner and onto the finishing straight but he’d timed it just right and went over the line in 49:55. It was an incredible moment for Disco and one that he’ll no doubt treasure for many years to come. All the work he’d put in had paid off and his sub-50 dream had been realised.

Dave Long in action at the Great South Run
Disco races toward a time he thought he could only dream of

Chris Thompson had broken clear of Andy Vernon in the end and had cruised through for the win in 46:56 with Vernon taking 2nd in 47:29. Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton AC finished in 6th place and Alex Tueten, also of Southampton came in 8th.

Dave was the final man to come in under the 50-minute barrier, taking an incredible 10th place which of course he was absolutely buzzing about.

Over 10 minutes had passed before the next Bournemouth AC man reached the finish and that was Sean Edwards. Crossing the line in a time of 1:00:17, Sean finished in 92nd place, which is still amazing when you consider that over 15,000 took part.

It didn’t quite match his performance at the Bournemouth 10 in February where he clocked a phenomenal 56:59 but it was still a decent run from Sean and bettered his times at the Salisbury 10 in April and the Portland 10 in July.

Sean Edwards and Serena O'Connor at the Great South Run
Sean Edwards and his partner Serena O’Conner, who represents Poole Runners, both wore their Vegan Runners attire for the race

Next up it was Richard Brawn, who managed an improvement of almost three minutes on his previous best, which had also been set at the Bournemouth 10 earlier in the year. Registering a time of 1:01:22, Rich took 122nd place on the day and was 20th best in the 35-39 category.

Since it had only been a couple of weeks since he’d completed his second ever marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, Rich wasn’t certain he would have recovered fully. He took it very easy over those two weeks though in the hope that he wouldn’t be carrying any fatigue into the race.

Having competed in the Great South Run every year since 2014, Rich knew it was always a golden opportunity to pull something special out of the bag and he’d managed to secure a 10-mile PB on all but one of those occasions.

He had a feeling he’d be fit enough to add another standout performance to that list off the back of his marathon training and some of his recent parkrun stats gave him the confidence that he could once again produce a quality run. He felt he’d probably be able to sustain a pace of around 6-minute-miling for at least 10k so it would then just be a case of clinging on for the last four miles.

Dave and Rich Brawn before the Great South Run
Rich did the race with his brother Dave, who rund for Portsmouth Joggers and lives very close to where the race starts

Thus he decided he would set off at sub-60-minute pace and then just see what happened. He knew the chances were that he wouldn’t get a sub-60 time but he thought there was an outside change of a sub-61 and a definite possibility of a sub-62.

Managing sub-6-minute mile pace for the first three miles, Rich felt fairly comfortable but he could tell that it wasn’t a pace he’d be able to sustain for the full 10 miles. He managed to stay around 6-minute-miling for the next three miles before his pace began to drop slightly on the 7th mile.

As he began to tire, he realised the next three miles were going to be a tough slog. All he could do though was try to keep going as quickly as possible and try to minimise his losses. He was down to between 6:15 and 6:20 pace for the last three miles but he knew he could stick at that he’d still be in for a good time by his standards.

Rich Brawn going up the road in the Great South Run
After starting off quite quickly, Rich suffered a little in the latter stages of the race and slowed down a fair bit in a final few miles

Reaching the finish line in 1:01:22, he was over the moon with his run and, despite falling away a little over the last few miles, he knew it was still possibly his best run ever. Encased in that run, was a 10k PB of 37:38, which was a very pleasing sign.

The miles in the Great South Run tend to be slightly longer as well than the actual distance and Strava had his 10k time at 37:10. That means that perhaps, instead of a sub-38-minute time for an actual 10k race, he could not perhaps look to strive for a sub-37.

The encouraging thing for Rich is, although he knows there’s work still do to build up his speed endurance to be able to hold that sub-6 pace for the duration of a 10-mile race, the potential is there and if he keeps progressing there’s no reason why he can’t reach that level.

As for Richard Cannings, he unfortunately didn’t have one of his better days and was still feeling the after effects for the BMF Marathon two weeks prior. He’d given absolutely everything he could on that day and left it all out there on the course. Afterwards, he was completely shattered and in need of some serious rest and recuperation.

It wasn’t surprising he was carrying some of those after effects in the Great South Run and that prevented him from reaching his full potential. He’d also had a sore ankle since the Bournemouth Marathon which added to his woes.

Despite all that though, he still managed fairly consistent splits throughout and finished in a time of 1:08:24, which is very creditable under the circumstances. That put him in 468th place overall and 52nd in the 45-49 category.

Richard Cannings in the Great South Run
Still suffering some after effects from his BMF Marathon, Richard Cannings wasn’t at his best but still gave it his all as he made his way round

Perhaps also suffering from the after effects of his superb run at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, Chris O’Brien also struggled to reach the kind of levels that he’d ordinarily look to achieve.

For the first few miles he was going okay but after that his pace began to fall away and he realised that it just wasn’t going to be his day. From that point on it was a long hard slog to the finish line. Sometimes you just have to accept that days like that will happen though and you just have to pick yourself up and go again.

Showing some good progress over recent months though, Chris is definitely on the right track toward rediscovering his best form and will keep persevering with his training until he gets there. That said, it still a decent time from Chris when you look at the overall stats, as he crossed the line in 306th place and 26th in the 45-49 category with a time of 1:06:14.

Chris O'Brien in action in the Great South Run
It wasn’t one of Chris O’Brien’s better days as he struggled to keep up the sort of pace he’d usually be able to go at in a race like this

Suffering an early blow when he pulled a calf muscle two-and-a-half miles in, Julian Oxborough demonstrated tremendous tenacity by continuing on despite the pain he was in. He was buoyed by the fantastic crowds who had once again turned up in their droves to support the race as they always do. That helped him keep going as he chugged through the remainder of the course.

Finishing in a time of 2:15:26, Julian took 14,901st place overall and was 959th in the Male 50-54 category. Julian has been through some tough times of late but running always provides a good outlet for him to focus his mind on something positive and work towards achieving the fitness goals he has set himself.

Julian was also raising money for the charity Mind, one that is very close to his heart since he’s experience first-hand what mental issues can do to people and how it can affect their lives. Mind works to let people in this situation know that they’re not alone and ensure there is always someone there for them to talk to through difficult times.

Julian Oxborough ran the Great South Run for the MInd charity
Julian Oxborough raised money for the charity Mind – a very worthy cause that helps people going through mental health issues

Also competing in the race for Bournemouth AC were Rob Spall, who came in 1,564th place, completing the course in a time of 1:16:53. That put him in 219th in the 45-49 age category. Paul Whitty was also in action, crossing the line in 3,566th position, registering a time of 1:25:04. That put him in 179th place in the 55-59 age bracket.

The Great South Run is a race that never fails to deliver in terms of both spectacle and atmosphere. Everywhere you turn, there are people by the side of the road cheering you on, offering you sweets or looking for a high-five.

There are also various organised bands at certain points on the course which often come as a welcome distraction from the athletic exertions. It really is an all-round terrific running experience to be a part of.

Richard and David Brawn after the Great South Run
The Brawn brothers celebration another fantastic Great South Run experience

BAC teams prove hills are their bread and butter at Gold Hill 10k

BAC ladies team at Gold Hill 10k
They may have got a good soaking in the process but the Bournemouth AC ladies team stood tall at the Gold Hill 10k

As the Dorset Road Race League season enters its final furlong, the 10th fixture out of 12 was the one they’d all been dreading, the famously brutal and beautifully curvaceous Gold Hill 10k.

As if the race wasn’t already difficult enough, the lashing rain on the morning of race brought an even bigger challenge, as not only did the runners have to contend with the hugely steep inclines, they also had to take the utmost of care on the cobbled streets when on the sharp descents. The wet weather had made for a slippery surface that could easily prove disastrous with any slight lapse in concentration.

It was an unfortunate fixture clash for Bournemouth AC, falling on the same weekend as the Hampshire League Cross Country fixture on the day before. That meant a lot of the top BAC athletes had already raced on the Saturday afternoon so were unlikely to be prepared to get back out there for a hill-ridden 10k the following morning.

It was also Bournemouth AC’s home fixture held at Kings Park, meaning most members were out all day, either helping out with the organising and marshalling, or racing, or in some cases, both.

Nevertheless, team captain Rich Nelson did just about manage to scrape a team of five men together for race, with Jud Kirk, Phil Cherrett, Steve Parsons and Ian Graham all lined up to tackle the testing inclines.

Andy Gillespie was also down to run but he decided off the back of his three marathons in three days at the Atlantic Coast Challenge, it might be a bit too much to put himself out there again the following weekend. Adrian Townsend stepped in take his entry.

The BAC ladies had no such trouble fielding a team this time round, with a five-strong squad of Julia Austin, Tamzin Petersen, Louise Price, Estelle Slatford and Helen Ambrosen all signed up. Of course, they only needed three scorers for the Dorset Road Race League.

The men’s team suffered an early blow though when Adrian Townsend suffered a calf strain in the warm up. That rendered him hardly able to walk, let alone run.

Adrian has been extremely unlucky in races over recent times, being forced to pull out of the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon in August suffering from stomach issues. They were the same stomach issues that had forced him to abandon the London Marathon earlier in the year.

The loss of Adrian sadly meant the Bournemouth AC men’s team only had four members for Gold Hill meaning they wouldn’t actually score in team competition for the league.

Being the team player that he is though, Adrian stayed around to support his teammates, despite the treacherous conditions, cheering them on and taking photos of them as they approached the finish.

With the BAC men out of the picture, that gave Poole AC a late glimmer of hope that they could still snatch the league title away from BAC as the season conclusion drew ever closer. To do so though, they’d have to get at least two wins and a 2nd place from their remaining three fixtures, which included this one at Gold Hill.

The race started off from Shaftesbury School on Hawkesdene Lane in Shaftesbury, consisting of a single loop course, mostly along scenic country lanes.

Quite soon after the start, the route leads onto one of the most iconic ascents in Dorset, Gold Hill, which was made famous by the Hovis television advert.

The second half of the race is virtually all uphill so from around about 5.5k onwards, it’s a long hard slog to the finish, requiring a deep resolve from every competitor looking to wear the medal round their neck at the end.

The first Bournemouth AC member to get their hands on that very medal was BAC’s resident hill expert Jud Kirk, proving he’d still got the knack of managing a tricky ascent or two.

Registering a time of 45 minutes exactly, Jud crossed the line in 40th place. Whilst he did do well on the hills, Jud felt that he dropped a few too many places on the descents.

Jud Kirk powers up Gold Hill
Jud Kirk makes his way up the super steep gradient of the iconic Gold Hill

Finishing so high up the field though will have done his prospects in the Dorset Road Race League the world of good though. Jud is going for the win in the men’s 60-64 category and it also transpired that none of his main competitors for that title were even competing in the race so that was another bonus.

The result at Gold Hill gives Jud a 24-point advantage over Nigel Haywood at the top the league table for that category. Barring any major slip-ups in the last two races, that should be enough a cushion to see Jud home and dry.

Jud Kirk in Gold Hill 10k
His performance at Gold Hill may just have sealed the league title for Jud in the 60 to 64 category

It was a reversal of what happened in the previous Dorset Road Race League fixture this time as Jud had finished ahead of Phil Cherrett on this occasion, whereas at the Hoburne 5 it was Phil who came out on top.

Crossing the line in a time of 46:53, Phil took 46th place in the standings. Phil blames – or rather – credits Steve Parsons with forcing him run the race so he could truly understand how tough it is.

Having looked at the past results, Phil knew it was never going to be a PB course and times ranged from 5 to 10 minutes slower than PB. He could also tell that the second half would be much slower than the first judging by the elevation graph.

He’d decided to run hard for the first half of the race since it was mostly downhill. Due to the rain and the steep gradients, for the first time ever, he actually felt scared running downhill.

Phil Cherrett reaches top of Gold Hill
Phil has been doing a fair bit of extra hill training over recent months but Gold Hill was a shock to the system, even for him

It was certainly exciting, if at times, a little death defying, but he spent the first half of the race trying to slow himself down. Going through the first 5k in 22 minutes. He knew though that the real work was yet to come.

The climb on the 7th kilometre was difficult but once he’d negotiated it, he settled into a rhythm and started to pick people off who were ahead of him.

He’d been warned about the final climb at 9.5k but Phil was amazed that with only a few hundred metres left, one chap ahead of him had slowed to a walk. Reaching the top of the hill and hitting the grass finishing straight was a brilliant feeling for Phil. He sprinted across the line, through the funnel and past the marshals who were handing out water and medals.

Phil was pleased to have managed to run the whole way and was chuffed with his end result. After the race Phil proclaimed that it was the hardest run he’d ever done and thanked Steve Parsons for making him do it. He feels that he’ll take a lot from the race going forward.

Phil Cherrett in Gold Hill 10k
Relieved to have made up the final climb, Phil dashed for the line to take 46th place in a time of 46:53

The next member of the BAC clan to make it to the finish was in fact Steve Parsons. Steve had done the race last year and had a pretty horrendous day, vowing never to return again. However, falling the wrong side of 50 minutes did not sit well with him and once the memory of how hard it was had faded a little, there was a yearning inside him to go back and conquer the race in a sub-50 time.

Sure enough, he was back and this time he was determined to take care of unfinished business and address those demons. Even though the weather didn’t play ball, Steve faired a little better this time round. In fact, you could almost say he enjoyed it.

There had been a break in the rain when the race started and it was at least fairly dry going up the cobbles of Gold Hill, which may have been a bit tricky otherwise. A second downpour followed soon after the start, making it very dicey negotiating the steep slopes.

Knowing he was in much better shape than he was at this time last year, Steve was confident he could go quicker and just really had to trust in his training. Also, having done the race before, he knew what was coming, which certainly did help.

The last hill at 9.5k is an absolute killer but at least Steve knew what to expect this time so he could mentally prepare himself. Last year, when he turned the corner and saw the monstrosity he had to go up, it would be fair to say he lost his sense of humour.

Steve Parsons in Gold Hill 10k
Steve Parsons was looking to lay the ghosts of the previous year to rest and get a sub-50 this time round

It’s a hard race to gage as the first half is mostly downhill, except a couple of really steep hills so it should be a quick first 5k. But knowing how hard the second half of the race is going to be, you need to ensure you’ve kept something in the tank for that, so you can’t afford to go out too hard.

In the second half of the race you climb a lot in the 5th and 6th kilometre and you then drop down again at 7k, which is a little demoralising as you then have to climb back up again.

Steve felt okay going up Gold Hill towards the start of the race as, although it’s very steep, it isn’t very long. Some of the later hills took much more out of him. This time he did manage to get in in under 50 minutes. In fact, he was quite comfortably under, crossing the line in a time of 48:29, which put him in 58th place.

Originally, his intention was to do the race one more time to get that sub-50 and then never put himself through it again. This time he found that he didn’t hate it quite so much though so he may very well find himself lining up again next year.

Steve Parsons finishing Gold Hill 10k
Steve faired much better in this race this time round, finishing in a time of 48:29, putting him in 58th place

Finishing as 9th placed lady, Julia Austin was the first scorer for the women’s team, taking 68th place overall with a time of 50:22. In a funny sort of way, Julia actually quite enjoyed the race, focusing on keeping it steady and ensuring that, above all else, she was able to make it to the finish.

Again, Julia found the steep downhills quite tricky on the wet ground and the uphills were of course testing at times as well. It was her second race of the weekend after running in the Hampshire League Cross Country the day before so Julia did remarkably well considering.

Julia Austin in Gold Hill 10k
Julia Austin battled the wet conditions to finish as 9th placed lady, clocking a time of 50:22

Coming in just five places after Julia was Tamzin Petersen who finished as 2nd scorer for the ladies’ team. Tamzin was 11th placed female with her time 51:02 and was 73rd overall.

Tamzin Petersen scales the heights of Gold Hill
Tamzin arrives at the top of what must have seemed like a very big hill for a very small girl

That was an impressive performance from Tamzin who is now coming back into some good form – and despite getting drenched in the process, she actually quite enjoyed it.

Tamzin Petersen in Gold Hill 10k
Tamzin came in as 11th placed female registering a time of 51:02

The third scorer for the Bournemouth AC ladies team in the Dorset Road Race League was Louise Price, who was 26th placed female and 109th overall, crossing the line in a time of 55:48. It was the first time she’d ever ran Gold Hill and Lou had been putting in extra hill training over the summer after hearing about how hard it was.

Louise Price battles the elements in the Gold Hill 10k
Louise battles the testing conditions, with surface water making for slippery ground on some of the descents

On the day, Louise’s main goal was to get round without walking. She was nervous at the start but as the race progressed, she began to feel strong and ended up really enjoying it. Her achilles are only just recovering from the downhill sections but it was worth it.

Louise Price in Gold Hill 10k
Louise finished as third scorer for the team, crossing the line as 26th placed lady

Following in soon after Louise was Estelle Slatford, who was 30th woman crossing the line in 57:07. That put her in 117th place in the overall standings.

It turned out to be Estelle’s slowest ever 10k, but in a way that was to be expected. She hadn’t done a lot of training over recent times and considering how hilly it was, she was expecting it would be tough going.

Estelle Slatford climbs the famous Gold Hill
Estelle found it difficult but showed great tenacity to scale so many testing inclines

Weirdly though, she quite enjoyed it, going in with no expectation since she’s only just started building up a decent weekly mileage again after a long time of not doing much for various reasons.

The first half of the race was pleasant enough for Estelle, containing a good balance of ups and downs. The last few kilometres she found pretty tough though. That said, she would like to come back again next year and see how much better she could do with a good block of training behind her.

Estelle Slatford in Gold Hill 10k
Estelle finished as 30th placed lady, getting round in 57:07

Finishing as 2nd over 70, Ian Graham completed the course in a time of 58:12, putting him 131st overall. Ian has ran the Gold Hill 10k many times before but not for a good few years now so he’d forgotten how tough it is.

He went along with the mindset that it was going to be 10k of continuous hard work, with the ascent up Gold Hill being the least of the problems. The end result though was that it didn’t seem too bad.

Ian Graham makes his way up Gold Hill
Gold Hill was the least of the worries for Ian as he knew there were more testing climbs to come

It was an enjoyable day, all things considered, as Ian travelled to the race with Jud, Phil and Steve. The rain had been pouring down all morning and they were expecting it to continue all day and therefore were pleasantly surprised when it stopped just before the race got underway. Of course, it did start raining again after that but by that point they’d got going anyway.

Ian Graham in Gold Hill 10k
Ian finished as 2nd over 70, registering a time of 58:12

Having raced the day before in the Hampshire League Cross Country fixture, Helen Ambrosen was treating Gold Hill as a recovery run. Of course, with all those hills it didn’t present much of an opportunity to recover. She also found the downhills as tricky as the uphills in some respects.

Helen Ambrosen climbs up Gold Hill
After a tough cross country fixture the day before, Helen Ambrosen was a glutton for punishment when entering Gold Hill as well

Finishing in 168th place, Helen completed the course in 1:02:44. She said she’d like to give it another go when her legs are fresher. She very much enjoyed being with the other ladies though.

Helen Ambrosen in Gold Hill 10k
Although she was completely wet through, Helen enjoyed the camaraderie with the other ladies

Continuing his seemingly unstoppable winning streak, Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers was once again victorious, finishing in a time of 36:44. Chris Alborough of Poole AC took 2nd place in a time of 37:10, with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC in 3rd, reaching the line in 37:29.

Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders was 4th in 37:37, with Brian Underwood of Poole AC in 5th.

In the women’s race, it was another tightly contested affair, with Claire Martin of Purbeck Runners coming out on top in the end, finishing in a time of 47:50. Lynda Faulkner of Dorset Doddlers was 2nd in 47:58 with Gemma Oliver of Poole Runners finishing a second later to take 3rd.

As far as the team positions for the Dorset Road Race League go, the BAC women’s top three of Julia, Tamzin and Louise came in 4th place, behind Poole AC who were 3rd, Egdon Heath Harriers who were 2nd and Poole Runners, this year’s DRRL champions, who once again got the win with their top three of Gemma Oliver, Paula Barker and Isabelle Somers.

In the men’s team results, Dorset Doddlers had a good day, with Iain Trickett getting the win, Duncan Ward taking 6th and Steven Rigby in 7th, Nick Berry in 22nd and Ian Osborne in 30th.

Poole AC kept their hopes of stealing the men’s league title from under Bournemouth AC’s noses alive by taking 2nd place, with Littledown Harriers securing 3rd. Of course, failing to field a team of 5, BAC had to settle for 7th place, meaning the title race is well and truly back on.

Initially it looked like Bournemouth AC had sealed the title despite not scoring on the day and they began to rejoice. However, the celebrations were cut short when the league organisers realised, they’d counted Sean Edwards as a scorer in the Round the Rock race, thus giving BAC a win that they shouldn’t actually have had. Thus, Egdon Heather Harriers were awarded the win and BAC relegated to 2nd.

That oversight changed everything and meant the title is still up for grabs and it looks like it could go down to the wire, with only the Wimborne 10 and the Boscombe 10k races remaining. Even if Poole AC were to win both races though, they wouldn’t be guaranteed champions. They’d still have to hope that Bournemouth AC didn’t finish 2nd in both fixtures. Otherwise it wouldn’t be enough.

So in short, if BAC can get at least 2nd place in both races, they will be confirmed as 2018 Dorset Road Race League champions. Of course, that’s not the way they’ll want to win it though. Team captain Rich Nelson will be looking to pull out all the stops to ensure they get the victory in both fixtures. That’s the Bournemouth AC way. They won’t settle for anything less than the best.

BAC ladies team at Gold Hill 10k
It was good to see the BAC ladies getting five members out for a race that was, on paper, quite a daunting prospect

Room for growth for Graeme Miller after Cabbage Patch 10

Graeme Miller returns to the Cabbage Patch 10
Graeme Miller was back in Twickenham for the Cabbage Patch 10, a race in which he posted his fastest ever 10 mile time back in 2014

The Cabbage Patch 10 is a race Graeme Miller knows well, having ran it on several previous occasions. In fact, he set his 10 mile PB of 58:07 there back in 2014 so he knows it’s one that bring out the best in him.

The race HQ is in Twickenham and is almost as old as the London Marathon, providing a great platform for runners of all abilities to go for a quick time.

Previous winners of the race include Mo Farah and Scott Overall and it was the course that Richard Neruker set an all-time British 10 mile record of 46:02 at in 1993. All were given the much coveted cabbage as their prize.

The route of fast and flat across roads and towpaths, starting in King Street, Twickenham and crossing the River Thames and Kington Bridge and Richmond Bridge. The course then runs along the riverside, finishing on the drive in front of the York House Civic Building in Twickenham.

The standard of the race is generally quite high, attracting a field of around 2,000 people and usually featuring some quality runners from the London area.

Having run a sub-60 in the race last year, Graeme was hoping he’d be able to somehow pull it out the bag again this year. When the day of the race came around it caught the tail end of Storm Callum and the forecast didn’t look too good.

Fortunately there was a small break in the weather whilst Graeme was racing which he was grateful for. His plan was to go out at sub-6-minute-mile pace and see if he could hold on.

In the first mile though, he found it tougher than it should have been and he could only managed two sub-6 miles before his pace dropped. He then that it wasn’t going to be his day but he still managed to slog it out well for the remainder of the race.

Crossing the line in 1:01:13, Graeme finished in 30th position in the overall standings, so although it wasn’t quite the time he was looking for, it wasn’t an altogether disastrous outing. Especially when you consider that 1,422 people completed the race, so to get top 30 in such a large field is a still a good achievement.

It’s frustrating for Graeme as he keeps finding himself a couple of minutes off his best form at the moment at the moment. He’ll certainly on fighting to get back there though and once he starts his London Marathon training next year, that’s when he should see his performances take an upturn.

This year’s  race was won by Emile Cairess of Leeds City AC in a time of 51:14, with Scott Overall taking 2nd in 54 minutes and Christian Pryor of Sale Harriers Manchester finishing 3rd in 55:04.

Graeme Miller in the Cabbage Patch 10
Completing the course in 1:01:13, Graeme took 30th place in a field if 1,422

Stu sows the seeds and reaps the rewards in Eden Marathon

Stu Nicholas asks for a hand in Eden Marathon
It was a visit back to his old stomping ground of St. Austell for marathon number 49 for Stu Nicholas as he took on the Eden Marathon

It was very much a case of ‘home sweet home’ for Stuart Nicholas as he went back to his roots in Cornwall to tackle the Eden Marathon. Stu has of course done many a marathon and should he complete this one, it would be marathon number 49. But this one encapsulated a special meaning since the Eden Project is only five miles from his parents’ house so quite a lot of the route was his old stomping ground.

It also provided him with a good opportunity to represent his former club St. Austell, who he still runs for as second claim, and catch up with some of his old teammates.

The Eden Marathon is Cornwall’s biggest running event, providing a tough, hilly multi-terrain route through the sumptuous Cornish countryside. The course features some spectacular mining heritage along with plenty of scenic landscapes.

The race started off on a steep downhill curve, with Stu setting off in a lead group of three, accompanied by Marc Smerdon of East Cornwall Harriers and Jamie Stephenson of Mile High AC.

The trio stayed together for the first half of the race, feeling each other out and with no one prepared to make a break for it at an early stage.

As they traversed down a waterlogged country footpath, the other two runners moved away from Stu, establishing a small advantage. Stu knew that he would be able to claw them back on the road sections though.

The course makeup was around 70% road and 30% off-road so there would be plenty of opportunities for Stu to seize the initiative. At mile 18, he picked off Jamie Stephenson, manoeuvring up to 2nd place.

Stu Nicholas makes his way up the hill in Eden Marathon
The route for the Eden Marathon contained some tough off-road sections with steep hills and rocky terrain

Then, at mile 21, he caught up with Marc Smerdon and overtook him. The Eden Marathon wasn’t only a chance to meet up with old friends from his former club. It also provided the prospect of renewing old rivalries. He and Marc had had their fair share of tussles on this course over the years.

This time Stu was determined to come out on top though and dug in well to maintain his advantage until the race was nearing its conclusion.

Stu held his hands aloft as he crossed the line to take a glorious homecoming victory. His time was 2 hours 53 minutes and 25 seconds which, on a course that contained some very tough sections, is extremely impressive.

It was good to see Stu back at the top of his game after he’d experienced some mixed fortunes over recent times. In his last foray, at the beginning of September, Stu took on the Andover Trail Marathon, where he finished in 4th place, crossing the line in 3 hours 42 minutes and 48 seconds.

At the end of July he successfully completed two marathons on the same day, running the 28.5 mile Dorset Invader first, where he took 3rd place.

He then followed that up by heading to Queen Elizabeth Country Park for the Midnight Marathon, a night run along the South Downs Way, where he finished in 15th place.

In the double marathon weekender he attempted before that at King’s Wood in Kent, he very nearly won both them, first taking victory in the Black Knight Challenge.

The next day he had a commanding lead in the Teddy Bears Picnic Challenge after five out of six laps. Sadly, he was physically unable to go any further though. On an extremely hot day, the conditions and the bludgeoning terrain had got the better of him and his hip flexors and entire core was shot to bits.

With 21.85 done, he was forced to abandon the race, which was gutting as he was so close to another win and more importantly, another marathon added to list in his quest to reach the big 50 by the end of the year.

His win at the Eden Marathon has put Stu back on track though and means he now has only one marathon left to complete by the turn of the year to reach his goal. That will be a hugely commendable achievement if he can do it after starting the year off on number 37.

In another bonus for Stu, he was given some great press coverage in the local St. Austell newspaper afterwards, with a big article being written to tell the story of a local running hero making his triumphant return home.

Stu Nicholas crosses the line as winner of the Eden Marathon
Forget the ‘Lightening Bolt’ and the ‘Mobot’. It’s all about the ‘Stu Salute’ as the hometown hero crosses the line for a famous victory