Category Archives: Road_Reports

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



BMF Marathon mission for Rich Brawn, Richard Cannings and Mark Hillier

Rich Brawn in BMF Marathon
Rich Brawn was one of three Bournemouth AC members taking the plunge in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Full Marathon, along with Richard Cannings and Mark Hillier

Conditions couldn’t have been much better on the Sunday morning when 2,148 hopefuls gathered at Kings Park ready for the showpiece event of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, which was of course, the Full Marathon.

There was still a slight chill in the air but the sun had come out, making for a cool but bright feel to the day. This was a stark contrast to the day before, where persistent rainfall threatened to dampen spirits for the 10k race in the afternoon.

Fortunately, the rain had stopped by time the 10k race got underway, but it was still a wet and grey day and there was a bit of a breeze to contend with along the seafront.

Crucially, there wasn’t a strong wind at play on the day of the Marathon and that was a massive bonus for those looking for a fast time or even paced splits.

Three Bournemouth AC blokes braved the 2018 Full Marathon, with Rich Brawn, Richard Cannings and Mark Hillier taking on the familiar, seafront based route through Southbourne, Boscombe and Bournemouth.

It was Richard Cannings’ first stab at the marathon distance and he’d trained really hard to get himself in the best possible shape to tackle the rigours of a long endurance race. His aim was to finish somewhere between 3 hours 17 minutes and 3 hours 30 minutes, which would mean he’d be running at 7:30 to 8 minutes per mile.

Also quite new to the marathon game, it was only Rich Brawn’s second ever marathon, after his first one, which was North Dorset Village, had been hampered by a severe bout of cramp over the last 10k.

This time he’d done a 13 weeks or so of training for it and was determined to make a better fist of it. He’d been running really well in the build up to the marathon, securing numerous including half marathon, 10k and 5 mile bests. He’d also managed to get his parkrun PB down to 17:54 which he was really pleased about.

The marathon is a very different beast though and in his long runs he still found he was often running out of energy and struggling after around the 18 mile point. That was the only aspect of it that was worrying him, but he was hoping that after tapering and feeling a bit fresher, and in a race environment, he’d be able to remain strong over the last 8 miles or so.

As for Mark, a marathon distance race is a mere drop in the ocean for him. He’s used to going much further in races. In May he completed the Marathon des Sables, a 254km trek across the desert over 6 days.

Then a couple of months later he did Race to the King, a 53.5 mile ultra, securing a top 20 position, completing the race in 9 hours 27 minutes.

For the BMF Marathon though, it was a little different, as he was going for time. Now looking to focus, not just on completing the distance in races, he is also keen to improve on his speed. Thus his target for the BMF was sub 3:30.

Richard Cannings decided he would set off slightly faster than his target pace, knowing that he would lose time on the BIC hill at mile 18 and also the hill in Boscombe Gardens which came into play on mile 13.

He also knew that after the BIC hill it was going to be a tough run-in from that point onwards so it would then just be a case of trying to stick as close to 7:30 pace as he could. Therefore, it would be useful to have some time in the bank before then.

Richard Cannings in Bournemouth Marathon
Richard Cannings ran slightly quicker than 7:30 m/m pace in a bid to bank some time for slower miles that would inevitably come after the BIC hill at mile 18

Judging by the sort of times he’d been posting in training, Rich Brawn had a feeling he might be able to get somewhere close to three hours. With that in mind, he decided to set up at a pace that would see him reach the half way point in 1 hour 30 minutes and then see how it goes from there.

Again, he knew the chances are he’d be going a lot slower after the BIC hill so he knew it wouldn’t be a sub-three but he would have been pleased with a 3:05 or something around that.

Making a late decision to set off at the back of the white pen, with the good standard club runners, as opposed to the red pen that he was meant to be in, Rich felt ready for action as the hooter sounded and off he went.

Going from Kings Park towards the shops in Southbourne, Rich moved into 6:50 pace and found it to be a pace he thought he’d be comfortable running at for quite some time.

He had bumped into Gary Woolnough just before the race started and was pleased to see several of his Bournemouth AC teammates out on course, popping up in various different places, including Rich Nelson, Steve Parsons and Mike White.

Rich’s dad Trevor, who is a running coach for Chiltern Harriers, had come all the way down from Chesham in Buckinghamshire, to watch his son in action and offer his support wherever possible. That was a great encouragement for Rich and was very much appreciated as he progressed through the race.

Until he got to Boscombe Gardens, which had ran along very comfortably at almost bang on 6:50 pace for every mile, even managing to maintain it whilst going up Southbourne Coast Road which is a bit of an incline.

Rich Brawn pulls vest in BMF Marathon
For the first 12 miles Rich Brawn coasted along at 6:50 m/m pace

He had decided beforehand though, that when he did come across a tough hill, he wasn’t going to exasperate himself afterwards to try and keep to the pace for that particular mile. He would let that one go and then try to reestablish the pace for the mile that followed.

Of course, mile 13 contained the hill in Boscombe Gardens and then a slight incline along the Overcliff Road afterwards. He knew it was going to be a slower mile so didn’t work too hard to try to speed up. That hill meant he went through the half way stage at 1:30:45, which he felt was nigh on perfect pace. He’d run it exactly as he’d planned.

Rich Cannings on promenade in BMF Marathon
Richard Cannings makes his way along the promenade from Southbourne to Boscombe

Richard Cannings and Mark Hillier went through the half stage in virtually identical times to each other, with Richard going over in 1:36:17 and Mark in 1:36:22. So far so good then for all three BAC members. But that was the easy part. The hard graft was yet to come.

Rich Brawn goes through Boscombe in BMF Marathon
Rich Brawn on the approach up towards Boscombe Pier

After mile 13, Rich Brawn managed to get back on pace and made his way down onto the promenade. As he edged closer to Boscombe Pier, he was thinking, he had never felt as strong as he did then at the 15 mile stage. That gave him a lot of confidence.

Rich Brawn at Boscombe in BMF Marathon
The crowds had gathered in their droves around Boscombe Pier to cheer the marathon runners on

It was when he was approaching Bournemouth Pier on the 17th mile that he started to slip off the pace slightly. It was only by about 15 seconds though so he didn’t mind too much.

Rich Brawn strides out in BMF Marathon
At the 15 mile point, Rich was feeling the best he’d ever felt at the stage but unfortunately it wasn’t going to last

On the 18th mile though, he had to contend with the BIC hill so he knew that one was going to be considerably slower. At the top of the hill Simon Hearn met him with a bottle of Lucozade and he guzzled it down as he went on his way through the Chines.

Just as he got to the top of the next hill and saw Rich Nelson waiting just up the path, he felt his first pang. It was exactly the same thing that happened to him in the North Dorset Village Marathon, so he knew then that was only a matter of time before the dreaded cramp set in.

Rich Nelson then ran with him which helped take his find off the impending cramp a little bit. It was then a bit of back and forth around Branksome Chines, where he tried to vary his stride a little bit, running in all kinds of weird ways in a bid to keep the cramp at bay.

Rich Brawn with Rich Nelson in BMF Marathon
BAC team captain Rich Nelson stepped in to accompany Rich Brawn over the last 8 miles or so

It was on the 21st mile that the pangs became more persistent and he knew that it was only a matter of time before he’d be in terrible pain. He’d already started run/walking by this point and was in real trouble.

When they got down onto the promenade, Rich Nelson ran into a café and got him a glass of orange squash with salt and sugar in it. Rich was taking everything in by this point in a bid to stave off the cramp. Energy gels, jelly babies, sweets and practically anything that was offered to him.

It was on way towards Sandbanks along the seafront on the 22nd mile that the cramp hit him hard in both hamstrings and his legs seized up. He stopped and stood there in excruciating pain.

He was in a bad way and considered abandoning the race at that point but then decided, since he’d got that far, he might as well just walk the rest if he had to.

Rich Brawn looking upright in BMF Marathon
Once the cramp started to take hold it made for a very painful last 10k for Rich Brawn

The cramp went away for the time being and he got back running. But that point he’d lost a large chunk of time though whilst he’d been stood there in agony so his chances of getting the time he wanted had gone out the window. It was damage limitation from then on.

As for Richard Cannings, mile 20 proved to be his pain point. He began to struggle running towards Sandbanks but was hoping when he got to the turning point and started heading back towards Bournemouth Pier, the psychology of running back towards the finish would help. It didn’t though and the pier seemed a distant target.

At least he was still moving though and that was the important thing. He’d almost caught Rich Brawn up by that point and they passed each other on opposing sides as Richard Cannings neared the turning point.

Richard Cannings giving it his all in BMF Marathon
Richard Cannings was finding it tough in the latter stages of the race but showed great tenacity to keep going

It was frustrating for Rich Brawn as he felt he still had a lot of energy left and could have run fast but he just couldn’t risk it as the cramp kept threatening to come back. He was glad to have Rich Nelson and Paolo de Luca running with him the whole way though and helping in any way they could.

When he finally got close the pier, the cramp very nearly came back and he stopped completely. His dad was there at that point, as well as Tamzin Petersen who rushed in to help him as he hobbled on towards the finish.

After walking for a bit, he managed to get going again, actually just about managing to run the last half a mile before he got onto the finishing straight. He could tell the cramp was literally seconds from coming back but he darted towards the line and just managed to make it over before taking the next hit.

It didn’t matter then though because he’d finished and that was a huge relief. He was also pleased to see that he’d finished 3 hours and 15 minutes, even though it seemed like the last 10k had taken for ever.

Richard Cannings was also suffering, just from general exhaustion and he found the last mile really difficult, being forced to stop around three times for quick recovery breaks.

He lost about 40 seconds on that mile but he couldn’t be too disappointed. There had been times during the race when he thought he wasn’t going to finish at all so he had to be pleased with the outcome.

Crossing the line in an extremely impressive time of 3:15:36, Richard had actually beaten the very best time he thought he could possibly do, so that was a fantastic result.

He finished in 113th place, which wasn’t bad at all out of over 2,000 people. He’d very nearly caught Rich Brawn up as well, with Rich taking 108th place with his time of 3:15:11.

Rich Brawn with medal after BMF Marathon
Although the latter part of his race had once again been ravaged by cramp, Rich Brawn was still pleased with how he ran

Meanwhile, Mark had faded a little more than he expected he would over the the last 10 miles. He can’t quite put his finger on why that was though.

At one stage it was looking like he’d be on for 3:20 but it didn’t quite happen in the end. It was still a very good PB for Mark though as he crossed the line in 3:28:20, which put him in 215th place in the overall standings.

Mark Hillier looking relieved after BMF Marathon
Mark Hillier looks relieved after a hard fought race that earned him a fantastic new marathon PB

He’s quite glad now that he can forget the clock and go back to killing himself over some longer distances instead! In April 2019, Mark has entered the Oner, an 82 mile off-road ultra running from Portland to Studland. The route is along an extremely challenging section of the Jurassic Coast Path and will incorporate over 10,000ft of elevation.

Despite being taken the wrong way at one point by the lead bike, it was Iain Trickett who continued his fabulous winning streak to make it to the finish line first, arriving in an incredible time of 2:25:46. He’d had to work really hard as well to catch Richard McDowell who had a huge advantage over him at one stage.

Mark Hillier after finishing BMF Marathon
Although he enjoyed the challenge of racing against the clock, Mark is much more at home in longer, more endurance based ultramarathon races

One thing all three Bournemouth AC members will probably agree on after that race though is that marathon are not easy. They’re a different animal than other shorter distance races and there are so many dependencies and things that can go wrong whilst you’re out there.

Next up for Rich Brawn and Richard Cannings is the Great South Run, so they’ll be hoping, within the space of the two week period they’ve had, they will have recovered fully from their marathon exploits, or at least enough to get round a fast, flat 10 miler in a decent time.

Rich Brawn after finishing BMF Marathon
After allowing themselves a little time to bask in the glory, it was back to training for Rich Brawn and Richard Cannings in preparation for the Great South Run













Strong BAC presence in BMF Half Marathon

Trev Elkins at shops in Southbourne
Trev Elkins was one of eight Bournemouth AC members giving it their all in the BMF Half Marathon

The second day of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival kicked off early doors with the Half Marathon race where almost 3,900 people lined up at Kings Park to embark upon their 13.1 mile journey.

Amongst those taking part were eight Bournemouth AC representatives, all hoping to get a good result to justify all the hard training they’ve put in over the Summer and Autumn months.

There was a noticeable freshness at that time in the morning and a chill in the air that was very prominent as the runners huddled in the start pens waiting for the race to begin.

The BAC contingent included Rob McTaggart, who was gunning for a top three position, with his eyes firmly on the lucrative prize money that would bring.

It was also a rare outing for Stu Fox, who hasn’t featured in a race since the London Marathon in 2017. Plus there was a half marathon debut for Katrina White, who is fairly new to the racing circuit in general but bravely decided to throw her hat into the ring.

After a feisty opening mile, Tag soon lost interest and realised he was in for a tough shift. He wasn’t too fussed though as he hasn’t really been training too hard since the end of the track season.

Tag at shops in Southbourne
Tag races past the shops in Southbourne in the early stages of the BMF Half Marathon

Finishing in 8th place with a time of 1 hour 14 minutes and 2 seconds, it wasn’t one of Tag’s better days but a top ten finish in a competitive field like that is not such a bad result.

At his best Tag would have been a major contender in this race, having registered a half marathon PB of 70 minutes and 25 seconds at the Big Half Marathon in London earlier in the year. He’s now going to start ramping his training up in preparation for the Telford 10k which takes place in December.

Tag in BMF Half Marathon
Once he realised it wasn’t going according to plan, Tag just coasted for the remainder of the race but still finished in 8th place with a time of 1:14:02

After not having competed in a race for so long, Stu Fox could have been forgiven for being a little ring rusty. He enjoyed the race though and appreciated the support he was given by his fellow BAC teammates who were out en route watching.

Stu Fox at shops in Southbourne
It was Stu Fox’s first race since the 2017 London Marathon

A superb time of 1:14:46 sealed a top-ten finish for Foxy, marking a marvellous return to the racing scene. Although he hasn’t competed in such a long time, Stu has still been training hard and running on a very consistent basis. The fact he was able to perform at this level bodes very well for future appearances on the racing scene.

Stu Fox on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Foxy secured a top-ten finish, crossing the line in a mightily impressive time of 1:14:46

The route for the race took the competitors from Kings Park through to Southbourne, where they headed past shops and down toward the seafront.

A stretch along the Overcliff roads followed before heading down Southbourne Coast Road and over to Hengistbury Head. From there it was back along the promenade toward Boscombe Pier.

In the early stages of the race, Trev Elkins and Chris O’Brien were running together with the pair side-by-side as they couriered through the mean streets of Southbourne.

Having only done a couple of shorter distance races recently in the New Forest Marathon 5k and the Hoburne 5, Chris wasn’t really sure what to expect from the race. He started strongly but was wary of overdoing it so held back and let Trev push on on his own.

Targeting a finish of around the 1:25 mark, Trev knew he’d have to push quite hard in the early stages and just hope that he was able to maintain the pace in the latter stages.

It wasn’t the best of starts for Trevor as he was still in the port-a-loo when the race got underway. He had to quickly legged it into the white pen behind everyone else and start his watch as he went over the line.

Once he got going, he found he was comfortably hitting sub-4-minute kilometre splits. Going through the 10k point in just over 39 minutes, it was so far so good for Trev at that stage.

Trev Elkins on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Trev felt a little flushed at first but soon settled into the rhythm

At around mile 7/8, the course leads up the hill in Boscombe Gardens and out onto the Overcliff. That’s the tough part of the race. After that it’s down towards the promenade and then ending with a few miles on the flat before heading onto Bournemouth Pier and out onto the finishing straight.

It was a slow grind up the hill for Trevor and the wheels started to come off soon after. He still managed to hit the 10 mile marker in 1 hour 4 minutes and 51 seconds though, which incidentally was an outdoor PB for Trevor. Although the first signs of struggle were there, he was still well on course for a 1:25 finish at that point.

Chris O'Brien at shops in Southbourne
Chris O’Brien turns onto Boscombe Pier before beginning the final stretch toward Bournemouth Pier

Unfortunately he didn’t quite have the strength or the endurance to keep the pace going and he began to slow down on the way to to Bournemouth.

Meanwhile, Chris O’Brien was having good run and overtook Trev at around 11 miles. He was able to keep to a consistent pace for the last few miles and even managed to put in a really strong sprint finish over the last 300 metres. Crossing the line in an excellent time of 1:26:50, he came in 103rd place overall and 10th in the 45-49 category.

Chris O'Brien on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Chris had a very solid run, even finding the energy for a sprint finish over the final 300 metres or so

Losing a lot of time on the last mile, Trev eventually crossed the line in 1:27:37 putting him in 122nd place overall and 25th in the 35-39 category. That was almost an identical time to what he produced in the same race last year.

Although he was expecting to do better, there were still lots of positives to take out of it for Trevor considering he ran really well for the first half of the race and the fact that the run incorporated a 10 mile PB showed he’s got the speed up to a certain point. He just needed a little more speed endurance to see him through that final stretch.

Trev Elkins after the BMF Half Marathon
Trev came in at almost exactly the same time he did in last year’s race which was frustrating as it was going so well before the last few miles

Still searching for his first ever sub 1:30 half marathon, Pawel Surowiec was taking on his third recent half marathon. He fell short of his target at the Robin Hood Half Marathon in Nottingham the weekend before and the New Forest Half Marathon a few weeks before that.

Determined to make a better fist of it at the BMF, which would represent his last opportunity for a while. Pawel went for it from the outset.

Pawel Surowiec at shops in Southbourne
Thumbs up from Pawel as he embarks upon his half marathon journey

As it turned out, he didn’t quite have enough for a sub 1:30 finish but he did end up registering a new half marathon PB of 1:32:04, beating his previous best which had been set in the same race last year by 6 seconds.

That gave Pawel a 219th place finish in the overall standings and 41st in the 35-39 category. He was honest enough to admit afterwards that he still has work to do before he’s at the level where he can vi for a sub 1:30 finish. It was still a PB though and no matter how marginal the difference, they all count and all demonstrate progress of some sort.

Pawel Surowiec on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Pawel races down the promenade at a speed that would ultimately secure him a new PB of 1:32:04

Forgetting to bring both her watch and her headphones with her on the morning of the race, Louise Broderick had no way of checking what pace she was running at. That meant it was just case of enjoying the race and seeing what the result was at the end.

A few miles into the race she found a running buddy and succeeding in chatting her way through the rest of the race, blissfully unaware that she was going at much faster pace than she’d imagined she would do.

Completing the course in a time of 1:42:40, she took 671st place in the overall standings and was 10th placed female in the 45-49 category.

Considering it was her first ever half marathon race, Katrina White handled the occasion really well. On her entry form, she’d put down 1 hour 45 minutes as her expected time but she wasn’t exactly sure how achievable that would be.

Katrina White at shops in Southbourne
Making her half marathon debut, Katrina White begins a foray into the unknown

Realistically, she would have been happy with anything under 1 hour 50 minutes. She ran the race extremely well to finish in a time of 1:45:03, which was a cracking result.

That made her 112th female over the line and put her in 805th place overall Being able to produce a time like that in her first ever half marathon shows she has great potential for the future.

Katrina White on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Katrina makes her way down the sun kist promenade on her way to record a fabulous time of 1:45:03

Having not done too much specific training for the half marathon distance, Sam Laws was quite happy to register a time of 1:58:20 which put her in 1,784th place overall. That made her 64th female in the 45-49 category.

That completed the line-up from a Bournemouth AC perspective in what was an enjoyable yet challenging race. Those running were massively boosted by the tremendous support they received from their BAC teammates who were spectating and other locals watching on.

Sam Laws on promenade in BMF Half Marathon
Sam Laws was pleased with her time of 1:58:20 which wasn’t a bad result considering she hadn’t done any specific half marathon training










Dave Long smashes course record in Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k

Dave Long wins Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k
Dave Long hits the ground running for BAC in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival with an incredible new PB and new course record in the Supersonic 10k

The increasingly popular and eagerly anticipated Bournemouth Marathon Festival kicked off at 4pm on Saturday 6th October with the Supersonic 10k.

As you would expect in a local event of this magnitude, a healthy contingent from Bournemouth AC were present in the race, as they were across each different distance over the weekend.

After a miserable morning of persistent rain and generally grey and uninspiring weather, the rain finally ceased just before the 10k race was set to get underway.

That came as a massive bonus to the participants who were probably considering getting their wet suits and flippers out before that.

It meant they could just focus their minds on one thing, and that was launching down the promenade as fast as they could to try to get themselves a PB, or in some cases, go for a high position.

As it panned out, it was a Bournemouth AC man who absolutely stole the show, as Dave Long shot off at the sound of the gun, leaving all the other competitors in the race for dust.

From that point on, it was really just Dave against the clock. It was just a question of what sort of time he would produce. It wasn’t a race that Dave had specifically targeted for any reason. It was simply a line in the sand at the end of a good, solid four week block of training.

Dave Long in the BMF 10k
Dave quickly built up a healthy advantage which would only increase as they race progressed

The training was really with a view to hopefully coming up with something special at the Great South Run, which takes place this coming weekend.

It came as a complete surprise to Dave when he actually crossed the line in an astonishing new PB of 30:42. Incredibly it was 12 seconds quicker than his time at the Highgate in the Night of the 10,000m PB’s which was on the track. It was also a new course record for the Supersonic 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, so a phenomenal result for Dave.

Dave Long in the BMF 10k
Dave makes the turn knowing that if he could continue at the pace he’s going he could be on for something special

By the time he crossed the line, Dave had accrued a huge advantage over his nearest competitor, who was nowhere in sight. In fact, it was Nick Marriage took 2nd place in the end, arriving almost two and half minutes later. That’s quite an emphatic margin of victory for a 10k race.

It’s not surprising he head such a healthy advantage when you consider than his average pace for the run was an unbelievable 4:54 m/m. It was underlined the fact the Dave is currently in seriously good shape.

Dave Long in the BMF 10k
Dave stretched his lead to to a two-and-a-half minute advantage over his nearest rival

Following that up the next day by doing his last long run before tapering for the Great South Run, Dave racked up 18 and a half miles running with a friend who was racing in the marathon.

The race for the accolade of first female was hotly contested between Bournemouth AC’s Georgia Wood and Bethan Francis of Avon Valley Runners.

The pair were neck-and-neck for much of the race but in the end it was Bethan who prevailed, finishing in a time of 37:43. Georgia reached the line just a couple of seconds later to take a superb 2nd place in 37:45.

Georgia Wood in the BMF 10k
A fiercely competitive dual ensued between Georgia Wood and Bethan Francis of Avon Valley Runners for the prize of first female

It was a terrific run from Georgia and, even though she came so close to the victory, she was really pleased with her performance. It certainly confirmed that she’s well on the way towards recapturing her best form.

Bethan was 27th in the overall standings, with Georgia placing 29th. That was out of 2,346 who completed the race, so a tremendous result for the top two ladies.

Serena O’Connor of Poole Runners wasn’t far behind either, taking the final podium spot by finishing in a time of 38:06. That put her in 31st place overall.

Georgia Wood picks up her prize for 2nd placed lady
Georgia had to settle for 2nd place in the end after just being edged out following her enthralling battle with Bethan

Also finishing quite well up in the field was Joseph Morrison who secured a brilliant new PB to finish in 46th place with a time of 39:05.

Joseph Morrison comes off the pier in the BMF Supersonic 10k
Joseph looks in fine form and he comes off the pier in the approach toward the finish

Considering that was off the back of very limited training, Joseph was really happy with that result, although he did find it tough pushing himself all way.

Joseph Morrison approaches the finish in the BMF Supersonic 10k
It was a brilliant new PB of 39:05 for Joseph which he was delighted with

Joseph finished just in front of his new Bournemouth AC teammate Matt du Cros, who was making his debut in the hallowed yellow and blue. Matt had an excellent run, taking 47th place in a time of 39:10.

Matt du Cros in the BMF 10k
Matt du Cros had a stellar run in his Bournemouth AC debut finishing a time of 39:10

Another BAC member who ran well on the day was Simon Hearn, who bagged 62nd place finishing in a time of 39:51. Simon had trained hard for eight weeks in the lead up to the race in a bid to secure a sub-40 time so for him, it was mission accomplished.

Simon Hearn in the BMF 10k
Simon Hearn had trained hard for a sub-40 finish and was determined to make it happen, whatever the weather

Before he started training for the race, Simon had seen his form dip slightly with the lack of a regular training programme and a clear goal to work towards.

He was determined to get back to full fitness though and once he got going in his new training regime, his speed began to come back. He set the pacer on his watch to 6:25 average pace and managed to keep to that target well.

Simon Hearn in the BMF 10k
Reaching the turn on course for the time he was targeting, it was then just a case of maintaining it for the second half of the race for Simon

He felt really strong throughout the race and it turned out to be the best run he’s had for quite some time. At last year’s event he just missed out on a sub-40, so it was pleasing to meet that goal this time round. Impressively, Simon finished 2nd in 50-54 category.

Simon Hearn in the BMF 10k
After a slight loss of form over the summer months it was good to see Simon back firing on all cylinders again

One man who has been running really well recently is Phil Cherrett. Phil’s rise up the rankings has been notable since he joined Bournemouth AC and started training with the club and now there’s no stopping him.

Phil was aiming a sub-42-minute finish, which would be his first ever and given his recent form, it was certainly well within his capability. The race went completely to plan for Phil and he managed to run a very consistent pace throughout, always managing to stay ahead of his split targets.

Phil Cherrett in the BMF 10k
Phil Cherrett was targeting his first ever sub-42-minute 10k time

With 3k to go he was thinking he might be able to kick on and possibly even go sub-41 but his legs refused to go any faster. Although it wasn’t the speedy finish he was hoping for he’d done the hard work of the course of race and was still going to comfortably achieve his target.

Crossing the line in a time of 41:37, Phil had improved on his time from last year by exactly two minutes and it was a 47 second PB. This put him in 93rd place overall and made him 13th in the 40-44 category. It demonstrated the great progress Phil has been making over the year and no doubt there’s certainly more to come from him.

Phil Cherrett in the BMF 10k
Phil races to the turn knowing that if he could keep up the pace he’d be in for a huge PB

Making his debut in the Bournemouth AC colours, Wayne Walford Jelks had set himself a target of a sub-50-minute finish. He hadn’t got too much training under his belt going into the race so was really pleased to cross the line in a time of 44:40, which put him in 184th place. Wayne was 40th in the 35-39 category.

Wayne Walford Jelks in the BMF 10k
Wayne Walford Jelks was making his Bournemouth AC debut in the Supersonic 10k

Tamzin Petersen decided to enter the race late on and she was very glad she did as she secured a fantastic new PB, getting under 45 minutes for the first time ever. In fact, it was the first time she’d ever been under 46 minutes!

Wayne Walford Jelks in the BMF 10k
Wayne reaches the turn well ahead of pace he was expecting to be going at

Tamzin has been in pretty good form of late, recently recording a new parkrun PB of 21:55, so she knew she was in good shape. Before the race she’d had a good four days rest, so she was feeling really fresh and ready to go when the time came.

Tamzin Petersen in the BMF 10k
Tamzin Petersen is well on the way to her fastest ever 10k time as she flies down the promenade

Finishing in a time of 44:59, Tamzin was 21st female over the line and placed 197th in the overall standings. The following weekend she had a very different race to look forward to as she prepared for the significantly more challenging Gold Hill 10k.

Tamzin Petersen in the BMF 10k
Tamzin approaches the turn to begin a second in which she would actually manage to increase the pace before making her final charge to the finish

Some of Bournemouth AC’s younger members were in action in the Supernova 5k race that took place on the same day, at 7pm. Morgan Summerseth was the first of them to get to the line, finishing in 16th place with a superb time of 19:25.

Natalie Hayward came in as 26th placed female, crossing the line in a time of 24:16 which put her 126th in the overall standings. Emma Stonier finished in 442nd place, registering a time of 29:15, which made her 160th female.

The race provided quite a spectacle with most of the competitors wearing head torches and sporting lights or glow in the dark bands, along with luminous clothing, since it was beginning to get dark by that time.




Sting in the tail for Andy Gillespie at Atlantic Coast Challenge

Andy manoeuvres along the rocky coastal paths
Andy Gillespie had been doing some speed-work in the build up and had got himself into prime physical condition for the three marathons in three days Atlantic Coast Challenge

As he edges ever closer to the becoming an exclusive member of the 100 Marathon Club, Andy Gillespie was set to add marathons 90, 91 and 92 to his ever growing completed list in the Atlantic Coast Challenge.

With the event comprising of three marathons in three days, it’s ideal to help Andy chalk a few more onto his already impressive total.

Of course, doing three marathons in three days is a tough ask, but Andy is something of a veteran at that. He’s done all three of the triple marathon Coast Challenges, those being the Atlantic, the Devon and the Jurassic.

In fact, he did the Atlantic Coast Challenge last year, completing the three marathons in a total combined time of 18 hours 44 minutes. That gave him a target to beat for this year’s edition.

Having never failed to complete a marathon in all of his previous 89 attempts, you could bet your bottom dollar that he would complete all three marathons. The real question was, how quickly could he do it in?

This year was slightly different for Andy in the sense that he’d been making a real concerted effort to introduce more speed into his running. His parkrun times are improving and he’s been doing quite a few of the shorter distance road races in a bid to try to work on his speed.

He’s also slimmed down over the course of the year and managed to get himself into very good shape. That’s why this time round he was hoping to be higher up the leader-board in terms of time.

Anticipating a good performance, Andy was buzzing to get the event underway. However, in the week leading up to the race, something was about to happen that would change things for Andy.

Whilst out on a training run, he unfortunately got stung by a hornet. Ordinarily that would be fine. It might sting a bit but most likely wouldn’t impact any forthcoming race. For Andy though, it was a different matter.

Being allergic to hornet stings, after it happened, Andy began to suffer an anaphylactic reaction. Usually on his longer runs and when running a marathon, he always bring a syringe with him with the appropriate medication.

Because this was just a short training run though, he had nothing with him. That meant he would feel the full force of the allergic reaction.

The area around the sting swelled up and Andy’s leg became very soar. The allergy had taken hold and he’d had to take medication for it and it just knocked him for six. Going into the race, he was feeling devoid of energy and in a bad way.

It was frustrating as all the good work he’d done to get himself into peak condition had now been undone and it seemed it would be difficult to achieve the kind of time improvements he was looking for.

Nevertheless, Andy set off on his way and just hoped that he’d be able to battle on through, as he always does. The Atlantic Coast Challenge follows the South West Coast Path which is marked out the whole way by an acorn sign.

The conditions along the trail are notoriously windswept and wild, whilst the rugged terrain, steep climbs and technical descents are testing to even the most experienced of off-road ultra-marathon enthusiasts.

Andy has been there, seen it and done it before though and wasn’t phased. It was just really a case of managing the fallout from the hornet sting which was causing him to feel sluggish before the journey had even begun.

The route starts off near Padstow and finishes up at Lands End, some 78.6 miles away. The idea is that you run a marathon on each of three days, although the third day is slightly longer.

After completing the first marathon, you get to recover and recuperate for the rest of the day, go to sleep in the accommodation provided and then get up the next day and do it all again.

The route for the Day 1 started just north of Constantine Bay and finished up with a stretch across the back at Perranporth.

Andy Gillespie on Perranporth Beach on Day 1
Day 1 incorporates a trek cross Perranporth Beach

After 1 hour 34 minutes and 34 seconds, Andy arrived at the first checkpoint of Marathon 1. He was in 79th place at that point, so it was a very conservative start from Andy. He knows how to pace races like this though so that he isn’t left struggling towards the end.

At the second checkpoint, he’d moved up to 62nd place, arriving in a time of 2:35:23, then at the third checkpoint, he’d climbed to 52nd, getting there in 3:39:07.

View at 24 mile point on Day 1
Lovely scenery at the 24 mile point on Day 1

The tide was in at the end of the stage when he was meant to be going across Perranporth Beach which meant a bonus hill was added into the equation.

Completing the route for Day 1 in a time of 5:39:20, Andy was in 55th position when he crossed the line, so that was a decent start given the trials and tribulations that had gone before it. His elevation gain for the first day was 3,300ft.

View of Perranporth Beach
View of Perranporth Beach after Day 1 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge

The route for Day 2, which took the participants from Perranporth to St Ives Holiday Park, proved a much more difficult challenge for Andy.

He was still feeling unwell off the back of his anaphylactic reaction and that began to play a part and cause him to struggle. The high winds and rain combined to make it difficult when going along the narrow paths as well.

Andy Gillespie on Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge
Conditions were wet and windy for Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge which made it a struggle for Andy

Arriving at the first checkpoint in 1 hour 20 minutes and 39 seconds which put him down in 89th place. At the second checkpoint he was in 76th, reaching the designated area in 2:46:42. He was then in 70th at the third checkpoint, arriving in 4:15:01.

Old mines on Day 2
Some old mines provided an interesting backdrop on Day 2

Managing to gain a couple more places before reaching the finish, Andy crossed the line in 5:22:08, putting him in 68th place for the day.

It was a little further down the field than he would have liked to have been but, due to circumstances beyond his control, it was a very tough day at the office. The elevation chart for Day 2 had gone over 4,000ft.

Seals on the rocky beach at Godrevy
Seals on the rocky beach at Godrevy

It was now a case of rest up and recover as best as he could before the final day, which he knew was going to be a colossal task. This day is always considerably harder than the first two, with a couple of extra miles to cover in terms of distance. It’s also a very slow start to the day, with the rocky terrain providing a significantly slow running surface.

Andy has a reputation to uphold though so there was no ducking out of this one. He was in it for the long haul and was going to make to the finish and complete the challenge no matter what it takes.

The route for Day 3 went from St Ives Bay to the final destination at Lands End. At the first checkpoint of the day he was down in 91st place, arriving in a time of 2:46:16.

Structural ruins on cliff edge on Day 3
Structural ruins on the cliff edge on Day 3

Getting to the second checkpoint in 4:24:12, he was then in 89th. He knew at that stage he needed to dig and and start making up some ground.

By the time he reached the next checkpoint, he’d moved up to 80th place, arriving in a time of 6:10:49. After a very long and hard day out, he made it the finish in 78th place, crossing the line in 7:54:41. His elevation gain for the day was up to 5,550ft.

Drink station up a rocky climb on Day 3
Drink station up a rocky climb on Day 3

In the overall standings for the three days combined, Andy finished up in 58th place with a total accumulated time of 19 hours 21 minutes and 51 seconds. That put him 12th in the Male Senior Vet category. In total 166 out of the 172 who started the Challenge managed to complete all three marathons.

Considering everything that happened in the build up, Andy had to be happy with his efforts. He knew his anaphylactic reaction to the hornet sting and the fallout from that had left him not in his best physical condition. Fitness-wise though, he was in great shape, so that was frustrating.

Under the circumstances though, he gave it his best shot and that was all he could do. Just to complete three difficult marathons in extremely tough weather conditions and across very testing terrain was an achievement in itself for Andy and he can take heart from that.

It also brought him three marathons closer to the magic 100, which was another huge step forward. With a taste for these types of events, it certainly won’t be long before Andy reaches that monumental landmark. Then the countdown to 150 will begin.





Caroline Rowley and Tom Paskins continue Marathon Major march in Chicago

Caroline Rowley with her medal after the Chicago Marathon
The Chicago Marathon was Caroline Rowley’s 5th World Marathon Major, bringing her another step closer to the prestigious Six Star Medal

Mo Farrah’s magnificent victory in the Chicago Marathon may have captured all the headlines and stole the spotlight but he wasn’t the only athlete of interest from across the pond to feature in the race. Two Bournemouth AC members were also in the starting line up, with both Caroline Rowley and Tom Paskins jetting across to the Windy City to fly the infamous drapeau jaune-bleu .

Although the Chicago Marathon is a huge event in its own right, attracting a field of 45,000 runners, for Caroline and Tom, it was actually part of a bigger picture.

They are both on the road toward the coveted Six Star Medal which is awarded to athletes who complete all six races of the Abbott World Marathon Major distinction.

The six World Marathon Majors are London, New York, Boston, Berlin, Tokyo and Chicago. It’s no easy feat completing all six of those as it requires a lot of travelling and a lot of expense, along with a love and dedication to running that knows no bounds.

Both Caroline and Tom were well on their way though, with Caroline having already ticked four off the list and Tom having previously racked up three to his name.

The Chicago Marathon represented another huge stepping stone to bring them closer to the ultimate running accolade. They had to complete the race first though of course. Just being there wasn’t enough.

Off the back of basically no training, that was going to a battle in itself for Caroline. But she was determined to earn that finisher’s medal, whatever the weather.

Caroline Rowley at the start of the Chicago Marathon
Caroline is on the start-line waiting to get her Chicago Marathon journey underway

Starting off smoothly, she completed the first 5k in 28:47 before going through the 10k point in 57:09. She arrived at the half way stage in 2 hours 3 minutes and 28 seconds, which was a decent first half considering her lack of training.

The second half of the race became a bit of a challenge as her pace inevitably began to drop as she began to tire. In true BAC spirit though, she battled through the tough times and remained focus on her goal of getting to the finish line.

Towards the end of the race she bumped into a friend of hers who had made the journey over from Bournemouth with her. The pair ended up finishing together which made it all the more special for Caroline.

Caroline Rowley finishes with her friend Tracey Lander
Caroline found her friend Tracey towards the end and they both finished together

Her official finishing time was 4 hours 30 minutes and 42 seconds, putting her in 23,214th place. She was 8,438th lady over the line and 906th in her age group.

Caroline holds medal aloft after Chicago Marathon
Caroline holds her medal aloft after completing the Chicago Marathon in fine fettle

It was a decent result for Caroline under the circumstances but of course, none of that really mattered too much on this occasion. It was all about enjoying the race, making the most of her visit to another amazing city and bringing the bling back to Bournemouth with her when she returns.

Caroline with her friends Kathy Fooks and Tracey Lander
Straight outa Bournemouth: Caroline with her friends Kathy Fooks (left) and Tracey Lander (centre)

She did all that and now as her sights set firmly on Tokyo in 2019 where she will look to conquer her final race of the Abbott World Marathon Major selection. Then she will finally get her hands on the illustrious Six Star medal that she’s been craving for five years now, when her Marathon Major journey began.

Caroline with a glass of Prosecco
Caroline enjoys a well earned glass of Prosecco after ticking another one of the World Marathon Majors off the list

As for Tom, he was looking to make this his fourth Marathon Major success. He wasn’t going to be satisfied just to make it the finish line though. He was hoping for a sub-three hour time and had been training super hard to get himself into top form for the big day. That included building up a workload as big as 70 miles per week as he invested heavily in getting into prime condition.

Tom had previously run sub-three-hour marathons at both London and Berlin, so he knew the recipe for it and what kind of performance it would take to deliver on it. Last year he was over in the U.S. for the Boston Marathon, which he completed in 3 hours 6 minutes.

Boston is a tough one though as it contains some very difficult and exasperating inclines and often inclement weather conditions. On the day Tom ran it was extremely hot.

The Chicago Marathon is quite a fast, flat course though, which meant if Tom was at his best, he’d be in with a good chance of securing another sub-three.

It took him a little while to get used to the conditions though as, although it wasn’t hot, there was a lot of humidity in the air during the early stages of the race due to tall buildings in the city centre. This was combined with a cool breeze that hit you every so often.

It was in these early stages that Tom felt a little sluggish and fatigued from jet lag and not getting a great amount of sleep the previous two nights since arriving in the city.

Reaching the 5k mark in 21:23, giving him an average pace of 6:53, it was a modest start from Tom. He then picked the pace up slightly, going through 10k in 42:22, putting his the average pace of his second 5k at 6:46.

He was in amongst the three-hour pacers though so just tried to remain calm and relaxed and keep to a steady pace. Once he’d settled into a good consistent rhythm he was okay and at around the 8 mile point, he started to pick the pace up.

By this point it had started to rain a persistently but it was only light rain which actually helped him cool down. He stayed strong until the half way point, arriving in a time of 1:28:29.

At this point, he began to doubt his chances of doing a sub-three since the second halves of his marathons are typically around five minutes slower than the first half.

He continued to push hard though managing to catch the lead three-hour pacemaker at mile 16. He stayed with the pacemaker and the group around him, working together with others in the group to keep each other motivated and strong through the no man’s land miles.

At mile 20, he found he was starting to pull away from the pacer and at the point he thought it was just him against the clock now and pushed on further.

Feeding off of the energy from the crowd and with a few much need gels as the inevitable fatigue began to kick in and became more and more evident with each mile that passed.

Eventually he reached the 800 metres to go banner, knowing by that point that he was going to well under three hours. It was then just the small matter of getting over the final hill and over the bridge on E Roosevelt Road before arriving on the finishing straight in Grant Park.

Although it was only short, the final climb seemed like a mountain after all the hard miles that had gone before it. Tom made it up there in one piece though and was then all set for a nice downhill run-in before turning onto S Columbus Drive and reaching the finish line.

Registering a tremendous time of 2:56:46, Tom finished in 941st place, which is not bad at all out of 45,000 entrants. He was 208th in the 30-34 age group.

Tom Paskins with medal after Chicago Marathon
Finishing in an impressive time of 2:56:46, Tom kept a very consistent pace throughout the race

Looking at his splits after, Tom was pleased to notice that his pace hadn’t really dropped at all the second half of the race. In fact, he had actually run negative split by 12 seconds, which was something he’d never done before in a marathon.

Medals, water, protein bars, and most importantly, a can of Chicago’s very own Goose Island 26.2 beer were waiting for all the runners on arrival at the finish.

Tom Paskins after Chicago Marathon
Tom was going so well I the second half of he race he actually managed to register a negative split

Overall, it was a great experience for Tom and a fantastic feeling to be one step closer to getting that Six Star finisher medal.

Amazingly, both Mo Farah and David Weir were on the same flight back as Tom. He was standing in the boarding cue when all of a sudden Mo Farah appeared in front of him, having been called for priority boarding. Then David Weir was sitting just two rows in front of him on the flight. Surprisingly, neither of them asked for a selfie with Tom though. Perhaps they were a little too star-struck.

Tom Paskins with Poncho at Chicago Marathon
Tom even found the time to hit the mall whilst he was in Chicago picking up this nice new jacket











Julian and Joy pick Salisbury Half Marathon as their poison

Julian Oxborough goes down road in Salisbury Half Marathon
Julian Oxborough makes his way down the long and winding Netherhampton Road which was on the route of the Salisbury Half Marathon

Whilst it may not seem so plausible that anyone would want to travel from afar to Salisbury just for a spot of sightseeing, it is, however, easy to see why people might want to go there for the Salisbury Half Marathon. And that’s exactly what Julian Oxborough and Joy Wright did for the 2018 edition of one of the most popular Half Marathon races in the South.

The course for the Salisbury Half Marathon is flat and fast and generally benefits from a superb atmosphere as many spectators line the streets to cheer the runners on. The route takes in some of the great landmarks of the city proving that, contrary to some of the recent reporting, Salisbury does have its fair share of attractions.

The event is now in its 21st year and it was the third year of the new city centre route. The race consists of two laps, starting on New Canal. The first lap runs through the cathedral grounds, with the race finishing on lap two in the sports field within the cathedral grounds.

It’s been a difficult past few months for Julian as he’d been battling against anxiety and depression which have, in turn, caused his fitness levels to plummet. Originally he was down to enter the Marathon race at Bournemouth Marathon festival but he felt that he wasn’t ready for a full marathon at that stage so opted to go for the Salisbury Half instead.

In fact, he was unsure whether to even do the Salisbury Half or whether to give it a miss and focus on getting his fitness levels back up for the Great South Run a couple of weeks after. After much deliberating though, he decided to give it a go and, if worst comes to the worst, just use it as a training run.

Having run the race last year as well, finishing in 2 hours 46 minutes, Julian found it much tougher this time round. The temperature was quite warm, peaking at around midday when the race started. He’d been quite stressed about it in the lead up to the race and was actually feeling sick on the race day from worrying so much about it.

In the early stages of the race he was having anxiety attacks, with his mind telling him to pull out. He’d already stopped on quite a few occasions by the time he got to the 10k point. He had to dig really deep to try to get the end of each mile but he kept pushing on.

Julian focuses as he progresses along the course
Julian found it tough going after the end of the first lap knowing that he had to go round again

Realising he wasn’t going to get under three hours, he decided to take it easy and jog/walk the remainder of the race. The later stages were quite tough going for Julian but the amazing  support he had all around him kept him going.

There were cars beeping their horns and people shouting words of encouragement everywhere he turned. One car was even blasting out the “Eye of the Tiger” tune from the Rocky films when he reached the end of the first loop.

A cyclist who was helping out stayed with him for the last four miles, pushing him again and again. The race organisers kept the roads closed even when they were due to be reopened to allow the last few runners to continue their journey.

Going through the city and running past the vast crowds that had gathered to watch brought some confidence back to Julian and once he’s recovered from this race he plans to start training again. This time it’ll be for the London Landmark Half Marathon which he’s doing in March, running on behalf of mental health charity Mind.

Julian makes his way through the streets of Salisbury
Julian makes his way through the streets of Salisbury

Completing the race in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes and 35 seconds, Julian was pleased the run and, given the circumstances, he shouldn’t be too disappointed in not going under the 3-hour barrier. It’s been a tough road this time round and he did well just to make it to the end.

One of the roads Julian ran down as part of the course was a road he used to live on back in the day so he had some good memories to reminisce over as he made his way through.

Julian would like to do one more marathon next year, if the fates allow. After that he’ll be looking to switch to shorter distances races where he feels like he can achieve more. He’s also now entered the Gilly Hilly race that is in November.

As for Joy Wright, she decided to enter the race late on and having not done much long distance running in the build up, it was always going to be a battle.

Joy Wright powers along
Joy Wright was a late entry into the Salisbury Half Marathon, going into the race without a great deal of training behind her

Joy likes a challenge though and having just come off a good season on the track, she is looking to try her hand at a few road races over the winter months.

Hampered by injury and health issues, Joy hasn’t been able to make it to training as often as she would have liked over recent months. She has a problem with her achilles art the moment which she is trying to shake but it means she has to be quite careful in choosing which races and events she does do.

Despite all that though, Joy had a decent run finishing in 1 hour 39 minutes and 42 seconds. That put her 34th out of 373 ladies in the race and 16th out of 130 in the Female 40-49 category. Overall she came 195th out of the 915 who successfully completed the race.

Joy makes her way round the Salisbury Half Marathon course
Joy managed to wing it well, finishing as 34th lady in a time of 1:39:42

It was not a bad result at all considering she hadn’t done any specific training for it. Joy would like to, at some stage, do a 10 mile or half marathon race with a proper training programme behind her and see what she is capable of doing.

She has entered the Wimborne 10, which is the next Dorset Road Race League after Gold Hill so it will be interesting to see how she gets on in that. She’s also deliberating over whether to enter the Boscombe 10k which takes place on the weekend after the Wimborne 10.

In March next year Joy is hoping to compete in the World Masters Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, provided she can shake off her achilles injury and get back to proper training.

Julian Oxborough outside Salisbury Cathedral
Julian proudly stands outside Salisbury Cathedral with his medal after completing a tough but ultimately rewarding race









Clash of the titans sees BAC edge out PAC at Hoburne 5

Bournemouth AC team at the Hoburne 5
This motley crew of Bournemouth AC representatives were amongst those going for broke in the Hoburne 5

After a disappointing day in the previous race at Round the Rock, the Hoburne 5 represented Poole AC’s last real roll of the dice in their bid to reprise the Dorset Road Race League Men’s First Division title from the jaws of Bournemouth AC with just four fixtures remaining.

After emerging victorious from their previous three clashes; the Portland 10, the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon and Round the Rock, Bournemouth AC had put themselves into a very strong position to reclaim the crown they lost to Poole AC last season. But it wasn’t over yet. It was still all the play for and the Hoburne 5 represented a massive opportunity for both clubs to make a statement.

Poole AC block-booked five places which they planned to hand out to their top five runners to ensure they had their best available team for the five-mile maraud round Christchurch from Hoburne Holiday Park.

Conscious of the threat to their commanding lead, Bournemouth AC looked to assemble a strong squad that would be capable of mixing it with Poole AC’s finest. Team captain Rich Nelson worked his magic to register a star-studded lineup for BAC, including a rare appearance on the road for Josh King and, returning to competitive action after a long time out following the birth of his son Ruben, the legend that is, Jon Sharkey.

With the likes of Brian Underwood, Chris Alborough, Gareth Alan-Williams and Adam Conroy all down on the list for Poole AC, it was sure to be a tight contest.

After sealing a terrific victory in the Ladies First Division in the previous fixture at Round the Rock, BAC were hoping for something of a renaissance over the backend of the season and had also managed to assemble a strong line-up to tackle the Hoburne 5.

There was a blow for BAC in the build-up to the race when Harriet Slade was forced to pull out through injury. That meant, after a very short time back on the running circuit after giving birth, Emma Caplan, formerly known as Emma Dews, was drafted in as a late replacement.

It was much earlier than Emma had anticipated she would be returning to competitive action, as she was planning to make her comeback in the first Hampshire Cross Country League fixture at Kings Park in two weeks’ time. Recruiting Emma to the team for the Hoburne 5 would later turn out to be a masterstroke by captain Rich though.

As the runners lined up on the start-line there was an air of tension as they waited anxiously to get the race underway. After a slightly prolonged wait whilst one of the race organisers gave a speech that seemed to take an age, they were on their way.

The race began with a lap around the perimeter of the holiday park before heading out onto the road. It was a very fast mile, with those at the front taking off at breakneck speed to get into a good position before turning round the corners.

In the first mile it was Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers and Josh Cole of BAC who were out front. It wasn’t the first time those two have been involved in a dual at the front of the race. They also did battle at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon in August, where Iain came out on top, beating Josh into 2nd place.

At the end of the first mile though, Iain managed to drop Josh and from that point on, there was only going to be one winner.

After the early hurtle of the first mile, the hills began to come into play, putting those who had set off too quickly into real difficulty. In fact, the second mile contained its fair share of undulations and, in a change of course from previous years, it even veered off the road at one stage and started to go through a woodland path which was followed by a field.

Soon it was back on road though, but some further inclines toward the end of the mile made a bit of a pace killer. For the next couple of miles, it was predominantly a case of trying to get the pace back on track, but there were a lot of turns on the course, making it difficult to gather momentum.

Fortunately, in the last mile of the race there was quite a lot of downhill which lent itself to a fast finish, enabling some of the lost time of the previous three miles to be retrieved. In fact, the finish was on a downhill section that led straight to the finish line. There was no lap round the holiday park at the end this time like there was two years ago. That caught some of the runners by surprise if they hadn’t scoped out the finish beforehand.

By the time they got to the fourth mile, Iain had fairly unassailable lead of Josh, who was still in 2nd place. At one stage, fellow Bournemouth AC man Josh King started to close in on Josh Cole and looked like he was launching a pursuit for 2nd place. Unfortunately for Josh King, he then got a stitch which forced him to slow down, allowing Josh Cole to pull away.

Crossing the line in a superb time of 25:28, Iain cruised in for the win. It was the third Dorset Road Race League fixture in a row he’d claimed the victory in, sealing a happy hat-trick. Josh Cole arrived at the finish just over a minute later, posting a time of 26:33.

Josh Cole in the Hoburne 5
Josh Cole raced to a 2nd place finish in a super-quick time of 26:33

It was a pleasing performance from Josh, especially as he’d run the Bristol Half Marathon the previous weekend, racing round in a stunning time of 1:10:36. Understandably, his legs were still a little saw from that so he wasn’t sure what kind of performance he was going to be able to produce. Thankfully for BAC though, it was a good one.

Josh King at the Hoburne 5
Josh King was on his way in a rare road-race outing for him

Reaching the line just 18 seconds later, Josh King took 3rd place, registering a still very impressive time of 26:51. Josh tends to focus more on his track running and cross-country, so it’s always good to see him out there doing well in a road race and making it all look so easy.

Josh King in the Hoburne 5
Josh looks to be enjoying himself as he cruises toward the finish to take a superb 3rd place

Running superbly well in his comeback to the racing circuit, Jon Sharkey finished in 11th place with a time of 27:29. Sharkey has only quite recently started finding the time to get out and train again on a more regular basis and has been doing some decent runs in practice.

It will be difficult for him to get back to his best form until he’s able to get a bit more mileage in but this was certainly a good solid base to work from for Sharkey.

Jon Sharkey in the Hoburne 5
A strong comeback to racing for Jon Sharkey saw him take 11th place in a time of 27:29

Following in immediately after Sharkey in a time of 27:32 was László Tóth. László has been grafting extremely hard in training lately in a bid to grind his times down.

That has resulted him securing an 800m PB of 2:04.9, a 1500m best of 4:24.3 and a stunning mile time of 4 minutes 43 seconds which he did in the SOAR Summer Mile at the Olympic Park.

László Tóth at the Hoburne 5
László Tóth has been in superb form lately at was hoping to carry that into the Hoburne 5 race

He’s also managed a sub-17-minute parkrun at Bournemouth and a best ever time of 16:27 which he recorded at Poole. It was no surprise then that his time at the Hoburne 5 was his quickest ever for a five mile race and he just seems to keep going from strength to strength.

László Tóth in the Hoburne 5
László ran his fastest 5 mile race ever, completing the course in a blistering time of 27:32

Really though, it turned out to be Craig Palmer who actually saved the day for BAC. Craig had turned up with a raging hangover after getting in at 3am the night before.

To his credit though, he somehow managed to get up and drag himself onto the start-line. He was still feeling quite rough at that point so wasn’t expecting the produce anything special.

At the end of the fourth mile, Craig was in 10th place. He then decided to put the hammer down. Overtaking five of his rivals, including four Poole AC runners, he clocked a 5:04 last mile to steam into 4th place on the leaderboard, finishing in a time of 26:57.

It was a quite incredible turn of pace and with Chris Alborough, Gareth Alan-Williams, Brian Underwood and Adam Conroy taking the next four places, it was an absolutely crucial move from Craig that tilted race in Bournemouth AC’s favour in the Dorset Road Race League.

Craig Palmer in the Hoburne 5
Craig Palmer zoomed past four of his rivals to clock a 5:04 last mile and storm into a magnificent 4th place

It wasn’t the first time Craig has done that for BAC either. In the previous fixture at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon, Craig and Dave Long turned up last minute, once again feeling the effects from the night before but managing to pull together a good enough run to ensure Bournemouth AC came away with maximum points.

Achieving his goal of a sub-28-minute finish, Sean Edwards crossed the line in 14th place, registering a time of 27:53. It was the first PB Sean has recorded for quite a while so he was very happy about that.

He came in just after his former Lytchett Manor Striders teammate Lee Dempster, who also secured a terrific new PB, clocking a time of 27:38.

Sean Edwards in the Hoburne 5
Sean Edwards secured a brilliant new 5 mile PB of 27:53 to take 14th place

Taking 17th place on the day was Stu Nicholas, who didn’t have the best of days, crossing the line in a time of 28:25. Having been suffering from a cold the past few days, Stu wasn’t feeling in top condition for the race anyway.

Stu Nicholas at the Hoburne 5
Stu Nicholas was feeling a little under the weather but as always he was still prepared to do his bit for the team

He ended up going out a little too hard in the first mile and suffering for the rest of the race as a consequence. It’s always tough to get the race strategy right for a 5 miler. Every runner knows what pace they are capable of sustaining in a 5k and a 10k race. But with 5 miles, it’s kind of between the two, making it hard to gage.

Stu Nicholas in the Hoburne 5
Even a runner of Stu’s experience can find it difficult to gage what kind of pace to go at for a 5 mile race

The next BAC member over the line was Graeme Miller, who 39th place in a time of 30:08. Graeme had been hoping to get a sub-30-minute finish so was a little disappointed with his performance.

He hasn’t been able to do as much running as he would have liked out the past few months though so it’s not surprising that he wasn’t at his absolute best. It was still a decent run though, given that it wasn’t easy to do a quick time on that particular course.

Graeme Miller in the Hoburne 5
Graeme Miller came very close to his target time of a sub-30, crossing the line in 30:08

Taking 45th place in the standings in a time of 30:37 was Rich Brawn. Rich had also been hoping for a sub-30-minute time having been seeing some great signs of improvement over recent months.

Securing a new parkrun PB of 17:54 a couple of weeks ago, as well as a 10k PB at Round the Rock and a half marathon PB at Sturminster Newton, Rich had been hitting some good form in the lead up to the race.

He thought it might be possible to run sub-6-minute miles for the duration of the race but the hills in the second mile put pay to that plan. In fact, he found the third and fourth miles were also quite up and down as well and with the constant turning round different corners he wasn’t able to go at the pace he had been hoping to in those miles either.

Rich Brawn at the Hoburne 5
The course was a touch too undulating and there were too many twists and turns for Rich Brawn to run at the pace he was hoping to

The first and last mile salvaged the time a bit for Rich though and in the end he was relatively happy with his performance. It was a 44 second improvement on his previous best time set at the Littledown 5 in September last year.

Next up for Rich is the Full Marathon at the Bournemouth Running Festival, where he will be hoping to better the time of 3 hours 33 minutes that he did in his only previous marathon, which was the North Dorset Village.

Rich Brawn in the Hoburne 5
Rich still had a decent run registering an improvement of 44 seconds over his previous best for the distance giving him a good confidence booster for the BMF Marathon on the following weekend

Making a stunning comeback, Emma Caplan only went and won the ladies race in what was a tremendous battle between her and Laura Pettifer of Kenilworth Runners.

Laura had been ahead of Emma throughout the whole race up until the last mile when Emma made her move and assumed pole position. Once she got there, she was never going to give it up, proving that despite recently giving birth, that competitive spirit still burns brightly within her.

Emma Caplan in the Hoburne 5
She was made to work for it but Emma managed to take a marvellous win in the ladies division after assuming pole position in the last mile

What’s more, Emma’s time of 32:07 was only two minutes off the time she did at the Hoburne 5 back in 2016, when she at her peak, so it just goes to show, she hasn’t got too far to go to get back to her best.

The winning margin was a mere 5 seconds, with Laura crossing the line in 32:13 and the fact that Emma had to work so hard for it made it that much sweeter. It was a far better return to racing than anyone could have anticipated.

Emma Caplan was 1st lady at Hoburne 5
Emma picks up her prize for finishing as 1st lady in her first race since returning to running after giving birth

Filing in shortly afterwards was Chris O’Brien, who had a very good run to cross the line in 32:17. For the majority of the year so far, Chris has either been concentrating on longer distance running in preparation for the Endure 24 event he did in June, or he’s been nursing an injury.

The 5k race he did at the New Forest Marathon event was his first short distance race in a long time so it came as a bit of a shock to the system. At least it meant that for the Hoburne 5, he’d acclimatised a bit more to the shorter, sharper distance and managed to put in a performance that gives him a good solid base to build from.

Chris O'Brien in the Hoburne 5
There were signs that Chris O’Brien’s form is returning and he had a good run to finish in a time of 32:17

Two Bournemouth AC runners finished in close proximity in 75th and 76th place with Phil Cherrett completing the race in 33:14 and Jud Kirk following in 10 seconds later in 33:24.

It was Phil’s first ever 5 mile race but the plan for him was to run it in 33:30, which would give him the confidence to make a sub-42-minute attempt in the 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival the following weekend.

Everything went to plan in the first 3km but in kilometres 4 and 5 his pace dropped a little. Fortunately, he spotted Jud up ahead and decided to try and catch him.

Phil Cherrett at the Hoburne 5
Phil Cherrett has been making some very visible improvements in his running of late and was hoping to carry that form into the Hoburne 5

That extra incentive helped him build a bit more momentum and he began to gradually edge closer and closer. With 800m left, he moved alongside Jud. As a result, his speed had increased and he was able to push on and get a good sprint finish in at the end.

Phil has been making some great strides recently, as reflected in his latest parkrun PB of 19:43, which he registered at Bournemouth in August.

As well as working hard in the BAC training sessions, Phil has been incorporating quite a lot of hill work in his own schedule and it certainly seems to be paying off. Finishing ahead of a seasoned pro like Jud underlines the progress he is making.

Phil Cherrett in the Hoburne 5
Phil leaves Jud trailing in his wake as he powers home to finish in a time of 33:14

As for Jud, his main goal is to win the male 60-64 category in the Dorset Road Race League. It’s very tight at the top over the season so far between Jud, Nigel Haywood of Purbeck Runners and John Cook of Egdon Heath Harriers.

At the Hoburne 5 though, Jud came out on top out of the three rivals, finishing two places ahead of John Cook, who was 78th in 33:53. Nigel Haywood came in shortly after, taking 83rd place in a time of 34:14.

That was a big boost for Jud in his bid to take title, although in terms of his category for the race, he was pipped to the post by Simon Hayter who came in 68th place in 32:40.

Jud Kirk in the Hoburne 5
Jud once again used his experience to run a controlled race to stay ahead of his rivals in the 60-64 category for the Dorset Road Race League

One BAC member who get the prize for winning her age category at the Hoburne 5 was Julia Austin, who was awarded 1st place in the Female U55 group.

Although she found it tougher than she had anticipated, Julia enjoyed the race and was quite pleased with her time of 35:08, which put her in 100th place overall. She would have loved to have been 10 seconds quicker to get under 35 seconds but it was still a decent run for Julia.

Julia Austin and Jo Dilling in the Hoburne 5
Julia Austin and Jo Dilling completed a very solid first three for BAC, along with Emma who was 1st lady

It wasn’t long before the next BAC vest emerged to reach the finish line, that being Mike White. Mike took 103rd place, registering a time of 35:22.

It was pretty much bang on what he was targeting for the race so that was a pleasing outcome for Mike and he feels he’d much more suited to road races than the off-road routes like Bournemouth parkrun.

Quite often he finds that he gets overtaken towards the end of the race but on this occasion he finished strongly, which is a very positive sign. He’s hoping he can use this as a good platform to build from as he goes into the Wimborne 10 and the Boscombe 10k.

Mike White in the Hoburne 5
A strong finish from Mike White saw him take 103rd place in a time of 35:22

Completing the winning trio for the BAC ladies team was Jo Dilling, who came in 118th in a time of 36:10 and 7th in the Female U55 category.

Jo found it difficult to judge the pace, since it was in between a 5k and 10k and she also learned a valuable lesson to always study the route map before a race.

Jo Dilling in the Hoburne 5
Jo Dilling was part of a strong ladies contingent at the Hoburne 5

Expecting to do a lap round the holiday park like on the previous course, she hadn’t noticed the 100m marker that was chalked onto the pavement on the downhill slope towards the finish. She was hoping to go past a few ladies who were on her radar at that stage but the sudden finish put pay to that happening.

Jo Dilling on the finishing straight
Saving a bit of energy for a lap round the holiday park that never came, the finish arrived a little too abruptly for Jo

It was all good experience to utilise in future races though and Jo was thrilled to be part of the winning team, along with Emma and Julia. Oddly, they given a box of Flack Manor ales for their victory in the presentation at the end of the race.

Ladies team winners at Hoburne 5
The ladies team of Jo, Emma and Julia topped the standings in the ladies team division, receiving a box of ales, proving it truly is the age of equality

After his dream half marathon debut the weekend before, Steve Parsons came crashing back down to earth at the Hoburne 5. His exploits had unsurprisingly left him a little jaded and he never really got into full flight, finishing in 127th place with a time of 36:35.

Steve didn’t mind though as he was still dining out on his superb run in Solent Half Marathon, where he completed the race in a time of 1:39:12 which was a lot quicker than he had been expecting.

Steve Parsons in the Hoburne 5
Steve Parsons wasn’t on top form as he was still feeling the effects of his brilliant half marathon the weekend before

Next in for BAC it was team captain Rich Nelson, who crossed the line in 131st place in a time of 36:39. Rich was planning to do the race as part of a longer training run, where he going to head all the way back to Bournemouth after.

Rich Nelson at the Hoburne 5
Looking to complete the race as part of a longer training run, Rich Nelson was aiming to cruise round at a steady pace

Rich is considering the possibility of doing some more longer distance races in future so is looking to get a few endurance runs in the bank to see how the legs hold up.

As it panned out though, he ended up getting a lift back to Southbourne with Stu and then running back to Bournemouth from there.

Rich Nelson in the Hoburne 5
Captain’s on deck as Rich sails down the home straight

Coming in with one second of each other, Ian White and Tamzin Petersen took 151st and 152nd place in the overall standings. Ian’s time of 37:46 was two minutes quicker than what he did at the Hoburne 5 last year so he was pleased with that result.

It was this time last year that Ian had just returned to the running circuit following a lengthy absence through injury and just a general loss of motivation. He’s made good progress over the course of the year though and has been steadily improving his parkrun times over the summer.

Considering he’d only just recently returned from a week’s holiday in La Manga as well, where he was playing golf and sampling the local delights (beer) it was as good of a run as he could have hoped for really.

Ian White in the Hoburne 5
Ian White alongside two Lytchett Manor Striders on the finishing straight

As for Tamzin, it was a week after she’d secured a fantastic parkrun PB of 21:55 at Bournemouth so she was hoping to ride on the crest of that wave going into the Hoburne 5.

The race didn’t really go according to plan for Tamzin though and she struggled to maintain the pace that she’d set to begin with. She may perhaps have underestimated how difficult the course was going to be.

Tamzin Petersen at the Hoburne 5
After rejoicing in a new parkrun PB the previous weekend, Tamzin was hoping for another dazzling display at the Hoburne 5

It could also have been partly due to a bit of fatigue after having upped her training volume over recent weeks. Her time of 37:47 still put her in 6th place in the Female U35 bracket so it was still not a bad result for Tamzin.

Tamzin Petersen in the Hoburne 5
It wasn’t quite the performance she was hoping for but Tamzin still took 6th place in the U35F category finishing in 37:47

BAC journeyman Ian Graham delivered another good run to finish in 162nd place, crossing the line in a time of 38:21. That put him in 9th place in the Male 65+ category.

Ian Graham in the Hoburne 5
Ian Graham rolls back the years as he flies down the finishing straight

Conquering her target of a sub-39-minute finish, Katrina White completed the race in a time of 38:36, which put her in 166th place in the overall standings and 9th in the Female U35 category.

Katrina is new to the racing circuit so that was pleasing performance from her shows she has some good potential to work with for the future.

Katrina White in the Hoburne 5
Katrina White managed to fulfil her objective of a sub-39-minute finish

Crossing the line in a time of 41:43, Helen Ambrosen came in 207th overall and was 6th in the Female U65 category. Helen has been concentrating largely on her cycling over the summer months so was hoping to carry her fitness gains from that into running.

She enjoyed the race and was glad to be back on the running scene. She’s now planning to work hard at improving her mile splits and was set to compete in the Wessex Cross-Country League fixture the following weekend, which would be a good test for her.

Helen Ambrosen in the Hoburne 5
After spending the summer months on the bike, Helen Ambrosen proved she hasn’t forgotten how to run, finishing 6th in the U65F category in a time of 41:43

The final BAC member to reach the impromptu finish line on the day was Samantha Laws, who secured a terrific new PB of 45:06. That was a 1 minute 49 second improvement on her time from last year so she was really pleased with that effort.

Running at a good steady pace that felt comfortable to her, that performance underlines the excellent progress Sam has made over the course of the year. She was 23rd in the Female U55 category.

Sam Laws in the Hoburne 5
Sam Laws capped a brilliant day for BAC with a 1 minute 49 second improvement on her previous best, finishing in 35:06

Overall a total of 336 people completed the Hoburne 5 race, which seems to be growing in popularity, year by year.

Following their hard-fought victory at the Hoburne 5, Bournemouth AC only need one more win out of the remaining three fixtures to seal the First Division Men’s league title. They will be confident in achieving that at either the Wimborne 10 or Boscombe 10k.

Jon Sharkey takes men's team prize at Hoburne 5
Sharkey gets the beers in, collecting the Men’s team prize for Bournemouth AC which was a box of Flack Manor ales

Gold Hill could be tricky since it falls on the same weekend as the first fixture of the Hampshire League Cross-Country season, which happens to be Bournemouth AC’s home fixture at Kings Park.

It looks like Julia wasn’t listed as a Bournemouth AC runner in the Hoburne 5 results though as Poole Runners have been awarded first place in the fixture.

Julia Austin was 1st U55F at Hoburne 5
Julia picks up her prize for taking 1st place in the Female U55 category

Even if that gets rectified though, Poole Runners have already wrapped up the Ladies First Division title. They cannot be caught now since they have five wins and two 2nd places.

It’s quite tight for 2nd place though between Littledown Harriers, who are the current occupiers, Bournemouth AC and Poole AC. Bournemouth AC could ensure they take that by winning two of the remaining three fixtures.

Team BAC at the Hoburne 5
A fantastic team performance saw Bournemouth AC end up victorious in both the men’s and ladies divisions in another successful Dorset Road Race League fixture

















Ollie Stoten shows he’s not afraid of the Monster Ultra

Ollie Stoten with lead group in Monster Ultra
Ollie Stoten (in the red and blue) was in the city of Ely for the 68km Monster Ultra

Following a successful run out at the Chiltern Wonderland 50, where he claimed a spot on the podium in the picturesque but very hilly 50 miler, Ollie Stoten was back in action again, looking to repeat his heroics at the Fenland Runner Monster Ultra.

The race was based in the city of Ely and was 68km in length. In contrast to the Chiltern Wonderland 50, though, the Monster Ultra was a fairly flat and fast race. Ollie usually specifies in races of the more ‘up and down’ variety so this race, although it was long distance, didn’t really play to his strengths as such.

After recently moving back to Bournemouth though, Ollie has been able to attend training on a more regular basis and has been getting his speed back as a consequence of the Tuesday night interval sessions. He’s also been doing the parkrun at Kings Park on Saturday mornings which has helped him sharpen his speed endurance.

Starting at the magnificent Ely Cathedral, the race passes through the city of Ely and onto the river banks of the Great Ouse. The path leads through to Wicken Fen, the first ever National Trust site, before heading onto White Fen.

It then follows a path alongside the River Cam, leading to the outskirts of Cambridge and onto Jesus Green which is the half way point. It then retraces the same route all the way back to the ‘Ship of the Fens’.

The route was mostly along a cycle path, with the terrain consisting of a mixture of concrete, towpath and trail. Luckily there weren’t too many stiles and gates allowing the potential for a fast pace to be maintained throughout.

With the first few miles being mostly downhill, Ollie shot off like a rocket, recording sub-7—minute miles for each one before settling into a pace of almost exactly 7-minute miles.

From the gun, a lead pack of five had been established, which included Ollie. He then made a point of distancing himself from the front four so he didn’t overdo it.

Running at his target pace, he was still able to keep in close proximity with the leaders and was only 100m back from them. At the half way checkpoint, all five were within a minute of each other.

Ollie Stoten in the Fenland Runner Monster Ultra
Ely Cathedral provides a magnificent backdrop as Ollie hurtles past at breakneck speed

Reaching the marathon point in just under 3 hours and 5 minutes, Ollie amazingly, managed to sustain that same fast pace up until mile 31. In fact, it registered on Strava as his best 50k effort, reaching that marker in 3 hours 39 minutes.

Dropping the pace slightly for the remaining 10 miles, Ollie only went down to around 7-and-a-half minute miles, so it was still a tremendous feat of speed endurance.

Taking two positions whilst on the way back, after 41.4 miles, Ollie arrived at the finish line and again, he’d secured a podium position, taking another magnificent 3rd place.

His official time as he crossed line was 4 hours 57 minutes and 4 seconds, giving him an advantage of almost 11 minutes on the 4th placed guy. He was also less than 5 minutes behind Benjamin Thomas who was 2nd in a time of 4:52:14.

The winner of the race was Craig Holgate of local club Ely Runners. He ran an impressive negative split to come in with a time of 4:44:30, which was only two seconds off the course record. Ollie was only 13 minutes behind though, which isn’t that much in a 68km race.

Craig is a very experienced runner, having represented Great Britain in both 100k and 24 hour races. To even get close to an athlete of his pedigree is a big achievement.

In fact, since the race began in 2013, Craig, Ben and Ollie were the only three men who have ever completed the race in under five hours. That gives a good indication of how high the standard was in this particular year.

Ollie had also ran the inaugural race back in 2013 and by comparison, his time in this year’s race was actually two hours quicker than he did then. That goes to show what enormous strides Ollie has made over the last five years.

Ollie’s average pace for the run was clocked at 7:09 minutes per mile, which is incredibly fast for a 41 mile race. He should certainly be extremely pleased and proud of his efforts that day. It was another in a long list of excellent ultra-marathon performances he’s given recently.

Ollie Stoten on the podium after finishing third
It was another superb podium spot for Ollie after he took 3rd place, finishing in a mightily impressive time of 4 hours 57 minutes

Pawel Surowiec hopes to steal a good time at Robin Hood Half Marathon

Pawel Surowiec in the Robin Hood Half Marathon
Pawel Surowiec travelled up to Nottingham, not just to see the sights, but also to compete in the Robin Hood Half Marathon

It was the second of a series of three half marathons in quick succession for Pawel Surowiec having completed one at the New Forest Marathon event earlier in the month. This time round it was up to Nottingham for the Robin Hood Half Marathon before his final episode which will be at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival.

After a disappointing run in the New Forest Marathon event where he never really got going, Pawel was hoping to put that behind him and turn in a good performance in Nottingham.

On the day of his half marathon at the New Forest, Pawel just simply wasn’t in the right headspace to attack the race in the way that he needed to. This time, he went into the race with a fresh and focused attitude, determined to make a much better fist of it.

Ideally, Pawel would love to run a sub 1-hour-30-minute half marathon and that is the target he is striving for. The race in Nottingham would be a good gager of how far away he is from realising that aim.

It also provided Pawel and his partner Naomi with the opportunity to explore a city they had never been to before and they travelled up Friday to spend a weekend enjoying a change of scene. When the day of the race came on the Sunday though, Pawel was in the zone and ready to give it everything he’s got.

The Robin Hood Half Marathon route takes in some of Nottingham’s most iconic landmarks, including Nottingham Castle, Wollaton Hall and The Park.

Pawel Surowiec on the start-line in the Robin Hood Half Marathon
The hooter goes off and Pawel’s journey in the Robin Hood Half Marathon begins

The notorious hills of The Park made it a gruelling start to the race but the crowds had turned out in their droves to cheer the runners on, making it a little easier to get over the inclines and keep a positive outlook for the remainder of the race.

The course then followed on back through Jubilee Campus before passing Castle Boulevard ahead of the big finish on Victoria Embankment.

Pawel knew the pace he needed to run at to achieve a sub 1:30 finish but on such an undulating route, with some very tough climbs, it was always going to be a big ask.

Although he’d fallen off the pace he needed to be going at, Pawel did not give up this time and remained concentrated on getting to line as quickly as he could. He dug deep and was able to find the energy to keep going and maintain a relatively good pace throughout.

Arriving at the finish in a time of 1 hour 33 minutes and 20 seconds, Pawel took 345th place. Out of the thousands who started the race, that was not a bad result at all for Pawel.

Of course, it wasn’t quite the time he was looking for and it wasn’t a PB either. His personal best remains as the 1:32:10 that he did at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival last year. It was only just over a minute off that time though and on a very tough hilly route, that should give Pawel confidence going into the BMF next weekend.

The Bournemouth Marathon Festival Half Marathon will represent Pawel’s last opportunity of the three to get the time he is looking for. Hopefully he will take some encouragement from his performance in Nottingham and can build on that over a slightly less undulating route.

Pawel Surowiec nears the end of the Robin Hood Half Marathon
Finishing in 345th place, Pawel crossed the line in a time of 1:33:20