Category Archives: Road_Reports

Graeme and Sanjai use Bramley 20 as a core part of their marathon training

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme Miller (pictured above) and Sanjai Sharma were looking to use the Bramley 20 as a progressive training run to give them an indicator of where their at with their London Marathon preparation

The Bramley 20 mile race was one that Graeme Miller and Sanjai Sharma had targeted as a key part of their London Marathon training. Running a 20 miler at this stage would give them a good indicator of where their fitness is at and how much work they have to do in the coming two months or so.

In fact, it was more like a training exercise than a race for Graeme and Sanjai and they had detailed plans to follow that would dictate what pace they run at different stages in the race.

The race plan for Graeme was a progressive run breaking it into three sections. The first 5 miles he would run at 6:45 m/m pace, the second 5 miles he would run at 6:30 pace and the last 10 miles he would go at 6:20 pace.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme was looking to run the first 5 miles at 6:45 pace, the second 5 at 6:30 and the last 10 at 6:20

Sanjai was looking to employ a similar strategy, starting off at 6:55m/m pace and going progressively quicker every 5 miles to end up at around 6:30 pace.

These kinds of plans would be pretty tough for the average runner but for Graeme and Sanjai in the midst of their focused marathon training, they are very much achievable.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
Sanjai was aiming to start off at 6:55 pace and crank it up every 5 miles to finish at around 6:30

The first 5 miles were relatively flat so they found the pace pretty comfortable to begin with. At around 5 and a half miles they turned into a pretty strong headwind which would persist for the next 4 miles. On top of that, there a couple of hilly sections at mile 6 and mile 8.

In spite of that though, Graeme still managed to hit his splits. However, he’s been having some problems with his right leg recently and at around the 8 mile point, his glute and hamstring tightened up. That made the second lap of the two lap course a whole lot tougher.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
A tightening of the glute and the hamstring in his right leg made the second half of the race a real battle for Graeme

As a result, he wasn’t able to hit his intended 6:20 slits for the last 10 miles. Despite the obvious impact of the injury, Graeme wasn’t too far off his target. He probably averaged around 6:25 for miles 10 to 15 and around 6:30 for miles 16 to 20.

That left him a couple of minutes off his pre-planned finishing time but he still crossed the line in a very impressive 2:10:57, placing him 33rd out of 684 finishers. Graeme knew he wouldn’t be getting a PB for the distance but it would be a good indicator of where he’s at right now.

Graeme Miller at Bramley 20
Graeme ended the day in 33rd place, clocking a magnificent time of 2:10:57

On the contrary, Sanjai managed to execute his race plan perfectly and, aside from having a make a quick pit stop at one point, all went very smoothly. He successfully managed to up the tempo every 5 miles, ultimately finishing in 46th place with a highly commendable time of 2:12:45. Sanjai was 4th in the M50 category, with an average pace of 6:38m/m for the run.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
Sanjai steams along on the first lap of his epic 20 mile crusade

The race was won by Alex Wall-Clarke of Southampton AC in a time of 1:54:23, with James O’Shea of Serpentine taking 2nd in 1:54:40 and Robert Mann of Exeter Harriers in 3rd with a time of 1:55:09.

The first lady over the line was Rosie Keane of Luton AC who came a very impressive 10th overall, completing the course in 2:01:59. Her Luton teammate Charlene Jacobs-Conradie was 2nd lady, coming in 20th overall in a time of 2:07:33.

Sanjai Sharma at Bramley 20
All went swimmingly for Sanjai as he crossed the line in 46th place with a time of 2:12:45 giving him an average pace of 6:38





BAC crew let loose on the lumps and bumps of the Lytchett 10

Jud, Tamzin, Kirsty & Sam at Lychett 10
Jud Kirk, Tamzin Petersen, Kirsty Drewett and Sam Laws were all action at the Lytchett 10 mile race on Sunday 11th February

The Imperial Series of 2018 kicked off on Sunday 11th February with the Lytchett 10 mile race, where 6 Bournemouth AC members were looking to pit their wits against 442 others on the testing, hilly road route.

The race also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles so prizes were up for grabs in that as well for any runners representing Dorset clubs.

The conditions for the race were ideal and certainly bettered the miserable weather at the Hampshire Cross Country League fixture in Aldershot the day before. The sun even made a rare appearance, which seemed to get the positive juices flowing amongst the runners, the supporters and the many marshals out on route.

In fact, the marshals were given high praise for their enthusiasm and for the encouragement they gave all the runners as they made their way around the course. One of those marshals was Bournemouth AC’s very own Ian White, who always seems to do his bit to help local races. In fact, Ian is organising the second race in the Imperial Series, the Bournemouth 10, which takes place on 25th February.

As the race got underway, Craig Palmer of Littledown Harriers took an early lead with Josh Cole of Bournemouth AC in 2nd. Craig has been representing BAC in the Hampshire League Cross Country races and he had been in action the day before at Aldershot, finishing in a very creditable 8th place.

It had been a while since Josh Cole had been seen in a local race so it was good to see him back at the forefront of proceedings. After about 3 miles though, Steve Osborne, of Yeovil based club Running for Time, overtook Josh and Craig and he would assume control of the race from that point onwards.

Josh Cole at Lytchett 10
Making his return to action, Josh Cole was contending at front of the field in the Lytchett 10

Spending the rest of the race out on his own, Josh found it very hard work, with much of the first 7 miles of the race being on an upward incline. He managed to maintain the pace very well though, in spite of the tough hills, and crossed the line in 3rd place, in a magnificent time of 56:38. The winning time for Steve Osborne was 54:22, with Craig following in shortly after to claim 2nd in a time of 54:45.

Craig Palmer took 2nd place but won the Dorset County Championships for 10 miles

As the event also doubled up as the Dorset County Championships for the 10 mile distance, BAC President Ian Graham was on hand to work out who had prevailed in that competition. Because the race winner, Steve Osborne, was from a Somerset based club, that meant Craig took home the gold medal for the Dorset County Championships and Josh claimed silver.

As he will also be in action at the Bournemouth 10 on 25th February, Josh could well be targeting a win in the Imperial Series if he runs as well as he did at Lytchett.

Josh Cole at Lytchett 10
Josh took 3rd place in a stunning time of 56:38 and also won a silver medal in the Dorset County Championships

It was a double header for Lazslo Toth as well as he also took part in the Cross Country League fixture on the previous day. He also competed in thee Blackmore Vale Half Marathon the weekend before and, as if that wasn’t enough, he also cycled 16 miles to get to Lytchett and then another 16 to get home afterwards.

All those exertions didn’t stop Lazslo putting in sublime performance in the race and securing a top 10 finish with his time of 1:02:33. Lazslo’s strategy of not running too hard in the cross country and the day before and just “enjoying it” – if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms – seemed to pay off as he had the strength and the energy to push hard in the latter stages of the race.

Lazslo Toth at Lytchett 10
Another race for Lazslo Toth but he was not phased by the heavy workload and managed a top 10 finish

On a few of those miles Lazslo was accompanied by Steve Way, who was actually in the area and out for a 30 mile run which he had planned to coincide with the Lytchett 10 race. A 7 mile hilly loop that Steve often uses in his training runs just happens to be the main part of the Lytchett 10 route.

Another Bournemouth AC member who had a good day at the Lytchett 10 was Jud Kirk, who scooped 1st prize in the M55 category with his time of 1:11:07. That was good enough for 43rd place overall.

Having given his all in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon the previous weekend, Jud wasn’t expecting too much for the Lytchett 10 so he was pleasantly surprised to pick up his £10 running voucher.

There was a bit of a commotion at the start when Jud was still trying to get his Garmin to work when the race began. Once he got going though, he made some good headway and the hilly profile of the course certainly suited him and worked in his favour.

Jud Kirk at Lytchett 10
Jud scooped the 1st M55 prize with his time of 1:11:07

The next BAC member over the line was Kirsty Drewett. Kirsty has been running really well of late and you could even say she’s becoming a bit of a dark horse. Finishing in a time of 1:17:24, Kirsty toppled her previous best time which she did at the Wimborne 10 last year by over a minute.

The atmosphere created by the enthusiasm of all the marshals and the stunning scenery of the course contributed to make it a really enjoyable race for Kirsty and she felt the strong the whole way round. Taking 3rd place and the F35 category and 7th overall female, it was a pretty successful day for Kirsty and she finished 87th overall.

Looking to complete all three of the Imperial Series 10 mile races this year, Kirsty will be hoping she can place quite high up in the overall standings, which is decided on cumulative time over the three races. Last year that competition was won by her BAC teammate Yvonne Tibble.

Kirsty Drewett at Lytchett 10
Kirsty looks cool as she blasts her way round the hilly contours

After smashing her half marathon PB at Blackmore Vale the previous weekend, Tamzin Petersen was understandably feeling a little fatigued and wasn’t able to muster up the strength to put in another spectacular display at Lytchett.

Instead, she suffered throughout the first 7 miles, where the course seemed to be an uphill battle all the way. That said, she still managed to improve on her previous best by 2 and a half minutes, completing the race in 1:20:02. This put her 4th in the Senior Female category and 12th lady over the line. In terms of the overall race, Tamzin finished in 111th position.

Tamzin Petersen at Lytchett 10
Tamzin has counted two very hilly races that she’s conquered over the past two weeks

The BAC involvement in the race was rounded off by Sam Laws, who was  running the Lytchett 10 for the 3rd time. Sam was running with her friend Julia Marsh of Christchurch Runners and, since they are both training for the ABP Southampton Marathon in April, they did a 4 mile warm up run before tackling the lumps and bumps of Lytchett.

Sam Laws & Julia March at Lychett 10
Sam was running with her friend Julia Marsh, with the pair already having 4 miles on the clock before the race had even started

In spite of the 4 miles they’d done beforehand, Sam and Julia were able to maintain a good pace throughout the run and they finished together, with Sam in 289th place clocking a time of 1:35:01 and Julia coming in a second later.

Sam and Julia make hay as they work their way toward completing a very good marathon training exercise

They finished 21st and 22nd in the F45 category and were 103rd and 104th women to cross the line. It was actually only 5 minutes slower than Sam’s PB time she did last year which, considering the mileage beforehand, was a pretty good result.

Sam Laws & Julia March at Lychett 10
Sam and Julia take some time out to bask in the sunshine after the race on what turned out to be very nice day, especially in comparison to the miserable day before

One of the highlights of the race was undoubtedly the cake that was on offer at the end of the race. Several of the BAC members couldn’t resist tucking into a few of the tasty treats. To be fair though, they had certainly earned it after enduring so many challenging climbs throughout the race.

Tamzin, Kirsty & Sam at Lychett 10
Tamzin, Kirsty and Sam are all smiles after completing one of the more testing 10 mile races you’re ever likely to encounter. Or perhaps they’ve just spotted the cake spread!








BAC boys blaze the trail at Blackmore Vale

Toby Chapman & Steve Way - 1st & 2nd - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby Chapman and Steve Way lead the charge in a very competitive Bournemouth AC line-up at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Bournemouth AC brought the big guns out for the 2nd Dorset Road Race League fixture of the season, the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon, which takes place on the undulating country roads of Bishop’s Caundle.

It is a race that has proved popular with some of the top BAC members over the years and this year was no exception, with a very strong side assembled to tackle the splendidly scenic and inherently challenging course.

BAC has something of an illustrious history at Blackmore Vale with Steve Way having won the race on 7 previous occasions, including last year, where he fended off competition from Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers.

The year before that Steve had to pull out after a few miles with a stomach upset but his BAC teammate Toby Chapman swooped in to seal the victory, with Jon Sharkey, also of BAC in a close 2nd.

This year’s edition looked promising for BAC, with Steve, Toby, Ant Clark and Jez Bragg all lined up on the front row ready to lead the charge.

As the race got underway, Steve hit the front for around the first 800m before Toby assumed pole position. Toby was feeling in tip-top condition and was soon exhibiting a pace that not many of his contemporaries could live with. In fact, as it turned out, the only one strong enough to stay with Toby was Steve himself.

After suffering from a cold at the beginning of the year, Steve has struggled to find his best form of late, putting in some indifferent performances in cross country races by his own very high standards.

This time though, Steve was determined to lay those demons to rest and bestow a refined performance. A more ‘Steve Way’ like display, if you will.

Doing his best to hang onto Toby’s coattails, Steve managed to maintain a very small gap between himself and Toby. After the first few miles, there was a point where Steve considered letting Toby go, but he was conscious that if he did allow Toby to get away, he could easily lose motivation and start to fall back down the field.

Having one of his best races for a long time, Toby was absolutely flying and Steve did really well to keep that short gap between the two of them for the remainder of the race.

As the pair reached the finish line, there was only a second between them, with Toby taking the win in a terrific time of 1 hour 14 minutes and 21 seconds. Steve was 2nd in 1:14:22.

Toby Chapman & Steve Way - 1st and 2nd - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby approaches the finish line to claim a superb victory with Steve following closely behind in 2nd

Sean Edwards of Lychett Manor Striders took 3rd place in a time of 1:16:07, followed shortly after by Ryan Snell of Exmouth Harriers in 1:16:15. Chris Wood of Wimborne AC was 5th in 1:17:45.

Next came the Bournemouth AC duo of Ant and Jez, who were actually doing the race as part of a much longer run that would see the pair of them run back home from Bishop’s Caundle after completing the half marathon in a round trip that would take them up to 35 miles each.

Despite knowing they had a much longer run ahead of them once they had completed the race, Ant and Jez still performed extremely well, with Ant taking 6th place in a time of 1:17:59 and Jez securing 7th in 1:18:36.

When they eventually got home, Ant and Jez were more than ready for their Sunday dinners after what would have to go down as a fantastic day’s training.

Toby Chapman - 1st male - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby Chapman picks up his trophy for 1st male and overall race winner

Both Ant and Jez will be competing in the UK 100k Championships at the Anglo Celtic Plate on 31st March. Jez has won UK 100k Championships on a couple of occasions before, in 2007 and 2009.

For Ant, it will be his 3rd consecutive year at the Anglo Celtic Plate, finishing in 2nd place last year. No doubt they’ll both be doing a few more of these extended training runs in the weeks to come no doubt.

Of course, in the Dorset Road Race League it is the top 5 that score points for the men’s team and the next BAC man over line to complete the scoring team was Pat Robbins, who had an incredible run, finishing in 13th place out of a field of 395.

Pleasantly surprised with his time of 1:22:11, it was a promising sign for Pat, who has been selected to represent Great Britain in the 24 Hour European Championships at Timisoara in Romania on 26th-27th May.

Steve Way - 2nd male - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Steve Way collected the prize for 2nd overall male, finishing just a second behind Toby

This could even be a breakthrough performance for Pat at a time when he hasn’t quite been running at his absolute peak, perhaps due in part to an ongoing plantar fasciitis issue. He has still had a pretty solid season in the Hampshire League Cross Country, regularly scoring points for BAC and contributing to a fantastic campaign for the club thus far.

The ladies race was won by Vicki Ingham of Poole Runners, who finished in 57th place overall in a time 1:29:53. Clare Martin of Purbeck Runners was hot on her heels finishing immediately behind Vicki in 58th with a time of 1:30:15.

It was the performance of Bournemouth AC’s Gemma Bragg though that really caught the eye. It was Gemma’s first race since the birth of her baby son back in October and she did not disappoint.

Finishing in a superb time of 1:35:57, Gemma was 3rd female over the line, marking a tremendously successful comeback. It was clear that her BAC teammates were pleased to see her back, particularly the ladies, who will be hoping she’ll be able to make it to some of the other DRRL fixtures.

Gemma Bragg - 3rd female - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Gemma Bragg marked a magnificent comeback by picking up the prize for 3rd female

Another BAC lady who had a race to remember was Tamzin Petersen. Despite the hilly profile of the course and the challenging crosswinds over some of the more open stretches of the route, Tamzin somehow managed to bag herself a new half marathon PB, finishing in a phenomenal time of 1:46:28.

Recently Tamzin has tried to incorporate more hills into her long training runs in preparation for Blackmore Vale and it certainly seemed to pay dividends. Her time was 26 seconds quicker than her previous best of 1:46:54 which was set at the Indian Queens Half Marathon in Cornwall. Tamzin was 25th female over the line and came 178th overall.

The ladies team had been dealt a blow in the lead up to the race when Yvonne Tibble pulled out through injury. Yvonne normally does very well in the league races and was a consistent points scorer last season, ending the year as 3rd placed lady in the individual standings.

This meant the other ladies who were racing at Blackmore Vale would have to step up to the plate in her absence. The other two BAC representatives, Louise Price and Estelle Slatford ran a lot of the race together.

Incidentally, Blackmore Vale is actually one of Louise’s favourite races and she did actually set her PB of 1:42:59 on that course. Whilst she is still some way off that kind of form, Louise is getting her fitness back after spending almost the full year on the side-lines in 2017.

This time out, Louise completed the race in a time of 1:50:43, which made her 40th female on the day and put her in 219th place overall. Estelle wasn’t far behind, finishing as the 44th woman and 222nd overall in a time of 1:50:58.

In spite of the big hill on the 5th mile that put her off a bit, Estelle thoroughly enjoyed the course. It wasn’t a PB for her but it was quicker than she ran in her last half marathon which was at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival.

This year Estelle is running the London Marathon, having been the lucky recipient of a place through the club ballot. She has just recently started on her 16 week training programme to prepare for the big day.

There were several other notable performances from BAC men at Blackmore Vale. Tom Paskins showed he’s finding some form again, finishing in 19th place in a very good time of exactly 1 hour and 25 minutes.

It was 1 and a half minutes off the time he did at Blackmore Vale last year, but Tom was coming off the back of a very heavy week’s training, having also recently started his London Marathon programme.

One very consistent performer in the ranks at BAC is Laszlo Toth. Laszlo took it quite steady at the start of the race but soon got into his stride, overtaking his BAC teammate Richard Brawn after the first few miles.

From that point on, Lazslo ran a very strong race, managing to maintain the pace well despite the constant undulation. He reached the finish line in 23rd place, clocking a very impressive time of 1:25:37.

The next BAC member over the line was Richard who took 46th place with a solid time of 1:28:42. Rich hadn’t put himself to the test on many hilly half marathons previously so he wasn’t really sure how it was going to go. He felt fairly strong throughout the race and was ultimately pleased with the outcome.

Richard Brawn had a decent run, finishing in 46th place with a time of 1;28:42

With a strategy of trying to keep to under 7 minute miling, Jud Kirk was on course to achieve that as he reached the half way point. Unfortunately he had very little left in the legs for the second half of the race and slipped off the pace a bit.

At the end of the race he was completely shot, having given everything up those last few energy sapping hills. Jud finished up in 73rd place with a time of 1:34:09.

During the latter stages of the race, Jud was thinking about his category in the Dorset Road Race League and was pleased to finish ahead of one of his rivals, John Cook, of Egdon Heath Harriers. Last season Jud finished 2nd in the 55-59 category in the DRRL but this year he will be moving up to the 60-64 category.

Jud was the 5th man over the age of 55 to complete the race and after crossing the line, he was so exhausted that he could barely make it to his car.

This coming weekend, Jud will be in action again at the Lychett 10. Following his half marathon exploits, he said he is very glad that Lychett is only a 10 miler.

The final BAC male to arrive at the finish line was Mark Westcott, who came in 214th place in a time of 1:50:30. This was only Mark’s second ever competitive half marathon and the first was back in 1984!

Over the last few years, Mark’s main focus has been cycling, but recently he’s really starting to enjoy his running and is happy with the way it’s going. His time at Blackmore Vale was 2 minutes quicker than the 13 mile training run he’d done with BAC the weekend before.

Mark and his partner Helen Ambrosen, who also runs for BAC, have already signed up for the Oakhaven Half Marathon, which takes place at the New Forest in March. Mark will be looking to see if he can improve on his half marathon time further in that race.  As well as enjoying the race, Mark enjoyed the camaraderie and being part of a team.

In terms of the prizes, Bournemouth AC scooped a decent haul, with Toby taking the prize for overall male winner and Steve claiming the overall male runner up. Gemma took the prize for 3rd female.

Toby Chapman - 1st male under 40 - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Toby is given his certificate for 1st male under 40

Toby took the award for 1st male under 40, whilst Steve picked up the 1st male over 40 certificate. Ant was 2nd male over 40 and Toby, Steve and Ant won the prize for 1st male team.

Steve Way - 1st male over 40 - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Steve took the certificate for 1st male over 40

In the Dorset Road Race League, the top 5 of Toby, Steve, Ant, Jez and Pat easily won the men’s team competition, marking an excellent day all round for BAC. In fact, you could even say, it was just like the good old days.

Toby, Steve & Ant - 1st male team - Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
As the winning men’s team retrieved their beers, Ant Clark had already set off on his mammoth run home, meaning a lookalike had to be drafted in. Unfortunately this small boy was the only one available at such short notice!










Mark Hillier puts in almighty effort to complete Pilgrim Challenge

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge
Mark Hillier is currently in training for the Marathon des Sables and was taking on the 66 mile Pilgrim Challenge race as preparation for his attempt at the toughest footrace on the planet

With the Marathon des Sables now only 9 weeks away, it was time for Mark Hillier to put himself to the test by taking on the 2 day, 66 mile ultra marathon called the Pilgrim Challenge. And to simulate how it might be when he battles the toughest race on earth, Mark was intending to carry 6kg on his back for both days. At the Marathon des Sables, each runner is responsible for carrying their own food and camping equipment round for the duration of their 6 day journey across over 250km of desert.

Staged across the impressive North Downs Way, the participants must follow in the footsteps of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury as they pass through the ancient countryside, picturesque villages and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

One key difference between the Pilgrim Challenge and the Marathon des Sables, aside from the distance and terrain of course, is that at the Pilgrim Challenge, everything is taken care of. You get overnight accommodation, breakfast and evening meals, plus food and drink at the checkpoints. At the Marathon des Sables of course, you have to bring all this stuff with you.

The race starts at Sandy Farm Business Park in Farnham, with the route for the first day finishing up at Warwick School in Redhill. The second day then takes the participants back to Sandy Farm. The course includes 2,374 metres of ascent.

Something else he probably won’t encounter at the Marathon des Sables is persistent rain. At the Pilgrim Challenge, he had to contend with a whole day of rain on the Saturday, which turned it into a 33 mile slog across churned up mud. It was slippery under foot but Mark battled the elements well, completing the course for Day 1 in a time of 5 hours, 46 minutes and 21 seconds. That put him in 39th place overall, which he was pretty happy with.

Sunday saw a significant improvement in the weather, which all of those taking on both days of the Pilgrim Challenge, including Mark, would have been very grateful for. Unfortunately the mud was still there though and Mark actually managed to fall over 4 times, leaving him a little battered and bruised in the aftermath.

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge - Muddy ground
This picture gives a good impression of how thick and sludgy the mud was on Day 2 of the Pilgrim Challenge

He also managed to take an unplanned detour, adding an extra 4 miles onto the route. As if it wasn’t already far enough! After completing the 33 miles, plus the additional 4, Mark hauled himself over the finish line to register a time of 7 hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds.

Combining the 2 days of hard graft, Mark’s total overall time was 13 hours, 29 minutes and 38 seconds, putting him in 74th place. This was out of 181 who actually completed the full 2 days. A further 32 of the competitors were unable to complete the challenge, pulling out either on the 1st or 2nd day.

Mark was 31st in the Men 40+ category. The race was won by James Bellward, who completed Day 1 in 4:25:31 and Day 2 in 4:43:47, giving him a combined overall time of 9:09:18.

Gregory Allen finished 2nd, completing Day 1 in 4:25:35 and Day 2 in 4:51:53 giving his a total combined time of 9:17:28. Justin Montague took 3rd, finishing Day 1 in 4:40:17 and Day 2 in 4:48:24, giving him an overall time of 9:28:41.

The 1st lady to finish was Sarah Hill who came in 6th overall, getting through Day 1 in 4:43:13 and Day 2 in 5:00:54, giving her a very impressive total combined time of 9:44:00.

As opposed to being driven by time though, Mark’s main focuses for the race were just completing it carrying the weight on his back and also getting through it injury free. He succeeded on both counts so that has to go down as an extremely valuable training exercise.

Over the next couple of weeks Mark is going to focus on recovery, with a few light runs. He will follow this up with a final block of 4 weeks hard training before undertaking 3 weeks of tapering with some hot yoga thrown into the mix to help him get used to desert temperatures.

The next race he has lined up is the Oakhaven Half Marathon in the New Forest, which is on 4th March. He plans to complete that race fully loaded with weight.

Mark Hillier - Pilgrim Challenge
Mark completed Day 1 in 5:46:21 and Day 2 in 7:43:17 to give him a total overall time of 13:29:38. This put him in 74th place out of 181 finishers




Trevor Elkins back on track in Avon Valley Railway 4k

Trevor Elkins - Avon Valley Railway 4k
Trevor Elkins was back in Bristol for the Avon Valley Railway 4k, a race he had won the previous year, setting a new course record in the process

Following something of an indifferent display at the Romsey 5 Mile Run last weekend, where he felt he didn’t perform to the best of his abillity, Trevor Elkins was back in action over at Bristol for the Avon Valley Railway 4k.

It was a race that Trevor had been victorious in last year, setting the course record at the time of 15:09. He was expecting to comfortably beat that this time round.

The race was part of an Aspire Running Event which also featured a 10k race and also a Canicross 4k and 10k which is for runners with dogs. Trevor competed in the 10k race at the previous Avon Valley Railway event in November last year, where he was narrowly beaten into 2nd place by Brad Cox of Bitton Road Runners.

This time, both Brad and Trevor had opted for the 4k race, so it was effectively a rematch between the two of them, although this time over a shorter distance.

The 4k race was a very straight forward out and back route along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. It was all on tarmac, so although it had rained off an on during the morning making it wet and slippery in places, it was actually a very fast course.

Trevor took it very easy towards the beginning of the race, finding himself in around 7th or 8th position for the first quarter of a mile. Brad had already shot off at this point in time built up a bit of a gap at the front.

Brad was in good form, having scored a victory over another Bournemouth AC member, Richard Brawn, the previous weekend in  the Warmley Forest Park 5k, another Aspire Running Event.

Trevor Elkins & Brad Cox - Avon Valley Railway 4k
It was another dual between Trevor and Brad Cox, who had edged Trevor out of the win in the Avon Valley Railway 10k the previous time they met

Staying true to his strategy, Trevor kept his cool, clocking a 6:15 for the first mile. By the time he’d reached the half way point, Trevor had closed the gap between himself and Brad to 49 seconds.

Putting in a 5:38 for the second mile, Trevor was now in hot pursuit and was going well. He pushed hard over the second half of the race but was unable to catch Brad, who was as relentless as ever.

Crossing the line in a super-quick time of 14:22.7, Brad picked up another 1st place trophy, with Trevor following in behind 27 seconds later to take 2nd place in a time of 14:50.0.

It was another occasion where Brad had just edged out a BAC rival to scoop the top prize. You have to hand it to him. He’s a top competitor. That doesn’t detract from the excellent display that Trevor put in though and he can still be well pleased with his runner up spot on this occasion.

Trevor will be back in Bristol in a months time for the Railway River Run, another Aspire Running Event where he will be competing in the 11k race. He is also competing in an Omnium event in Bath in July.

The Omnium event will be four events in four hours, consisting of a 100m sprint, an obstacle run, an 800m and a either a 5k (bronze), 10k (silver) or half marathon (gold) category. Trevor is going for the bronze category.

Although he’s been doing mostly long distance races in recent times, Trevor is also a pretty useful 100m runner, so the Omnium event should suit him down to the ground.

Perhaps one of these forthcoming events will provide Trevor with the opportunity to go one better and take home the gold winner’s trophy instead of the silver.

Trevor Elkins - Avon Valley Railway 4k
Trevor ran really well, completing the course in a superb time of 14.50, but had to settle for 2nd place due to another relentless display from Brad




Half Marathon success in Marrakech for Simon Hearn

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
Simon Hearn enjoyed a short break in the Moroccan sunshine before lining up for the Marrakech Half Marathon on Sunday, 28th January

With the cold, drab weather that tends to befall this country every January, it’s often tempting to look for an escape. Even just a few days of warmth and brighter surroundings would help lighten the mood somewhat.

For most of us though, work commitments rule out the possibility of that, forcing us to put our heads down and get on with it. That was not the case this month for Simon Herne though. He had set his sights on the Marrakech Half Marathon on 28th January and had a nice little break in Morocco to look forward to.

Flying out on the Thursday beforehand, Simon would have a few days out there with his wife Joanne to explore the area, sample the local cuisine and above all, relax before his big race on Sunday.

The Marrakech Half Marathon is renowned for being one the flattest and fastest in the world. The exotic location, with it’s palm tree laden roads and mild January temperature make it an attractive prospect for local and international runners of all abilities.

It was certainly enough to get the juices flowing for Simon. He wasn’t there purely to enjoy the sunshine and the lamb tagine. He had brought his game face and was there to race!

Having booked the break last summer, the Marrakech Half Marathon was a race that Simon had been looking forward to for quite some time and his training since the end of November had all been geared toward it.

Over the summer months, Simon had seen his level of performance drop slightly in comparison to what he’s used to and he’d been suffering a bit through lack of motivation. He’d also been devoting a lot of his time and attention into coaching Bournemouth AC‘s kids, running the Thursday night training sessions at Kings Park and also helping to guide and aid their improvements in parkruns.

On top of that, he’d been focusing on his coaching course in a bid to achieve his running fitness qualification. The level of study and hard work he had to put in for that had meant his free time had become somewhat restricted.

Once the Marrakech Half Marathon began to loom on the horizon and it was time for him to start his 10 week training programme, Simon knuckled down and managed to shift the focus back onto his running.

With his motivation back and his mojo rediscovered, Simon’s performances began to pick up again. He was back to running 6 days a week putting in some very hard sessions in a bid to get in the best shape possible for Marrakech.

When the time came for him to fly out, Simon was in a relaxed mood, but at the same time, very excited. His primary target was to finish in under 1 hour 30 minutes. This is usually the aim for Simon when going into a targeted half marathon race and, more often than not, he manages to achieve it.

His last attempt was back in May at Milton Keynes, where he got very close to that marker but just missed out by 30 seconds. That blot on his copybook had given him a steely determination to redress that balance in Marrakech.

When he arrived on the morning of the race, Simon was surprised to see there were no starter pens according to what time each participant was expecting to finish. That made for a bit of a free-for-all at the start, with runners of all different paces jockeying for position.

This resulted in Simon being held up on numerous occasions and he was initially unable to get up to the pace he was intending to run at. Once the first mile was done, it spaced out and he managed to settle into a rhythm and get back on track.

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
After a chaotic start to race, Simon got into his stride and made his way down palm tree encrusted roads of Marrakech

From that point on, Simon felt really strong. The conditions were excellent for running. It was a bit warmer than the January weather in England, as you would expect from Morocco, but it wasn’t too hot.

There were regular water stations with bottled water so staying hydrated was not a problem. The only issue was that instead of tossing their bottles to the side of the road like everyone does in England, people were just dropping the bottles in the middle of the road. This meant that whenever he was near a water station, Simon had to watch where he was stepping to avoid all the bottles that were on the floor.

Nevertheless, the hard training he’d put in really seemed to pay off and Simon was able to maintain his pace all the way to the end. He’d managed the race very well and was overjoyed when he reached the line, clocking a tremendous time of 1:29:36.

This put Simon in 385th place out of a field of over 4,000. He was also the 5th British finisher in the race. It was a fantastic result for Simon and he was delighted with the outcome. In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and said he would definitely recommend it.

Following on from his success in Marrakech, Simon is definitely keen on exploring the possibility of entering other races abroad in the future. It’s now just a question of where next.

On another note, there was some additional good news for Simon as he found out that he’d passed his “Coach in running fitness” qualification. This was again a testament to the hard work and endeavour he puts in when he sets his sights on something. It was also another very good reason to celebrate.

Simon Hearn - Marrakech Half Marathon
Simon’s race went according to plan and he was extremely pleased with the end result, completing the course in a stellar time of 1:29:36

Stu Nicholas proves rapid in Dark Star River Marathon

Stuart Nicholas - Darkstar River Marathon
The Dark Star River Marathon was not your standard race. It was 28.2 miles along both sides of the muddy banks of the River Adur

Over recent times, Stu Nicholas has become rather adept at running marathons and with 5 wins in his last 5 marathons, it would appear he has even gotten used to winning them. That doesn’t mean to say they’re all going to be plain sailing for him though and, as he lined up for marathon number 39, he was perhaps benighted of the toils and torment he was about to go through over the next 4 hours.

The task ahead was to complete the 28.2 mile trail route up one side of the River Adur and down the other in the first race of the Sussex Trail Events River Marathon Series, the Dark Star River Marathon.

Whilst it may look simple enough on paper, it was anything but in practice, with the thick and seemingly endless mud on the river banks making it a battle every single step of the way. In fact, Stu said it felt like he was running through an estuary and described it as “akin to wading through treacle”.

Stuart Nicholas - Darkstar River Marathon
Stu gets to grips with the thick, stodgy mud he would be wrestling with for virtually the entire race

It was the first multi-terrain race aside from cross country that Stu had done for years and he had forgotten how little cushioning trail shoes have in comparison to road runners.

Ploughing through the mud is extremely tough going in any race but when you’ve got 28.2 miles of it to get through, that throws it into an entirely different stratasphere.  Stu found himself ankle deep in mud for at least 23 of those miles.

Stuart Nicholas - Darkstar River Marathon
Stu looks like he’s enjoying himself in this one. But then… looks can be deceiving

For the vast majority if the race, Stu was in 2nd place. At the turnaround point on mile 14, he was still feeling strong so began to reel in the guy who was leading. He got pretty close at one stage, even managing a quick high five, but he was never able to quite catch up.

Unfortunately, it may just have been his incessent will to win that proved to be his undoing on this occasion. At mile 23, the wheels fell off, forcing Stu to employ a strategy of walking a quarter of the mile and then running three quarters. He doesn’t like walking but it simply had to be done. It was the only way could conceivably get to the finish without being dead on his feet!

Stuart Nicholas - Darkstar River Marathon
It was all going so well for Stu until mile 23 when the wheels came off

For the last 5 miles, Stu persevered with his walk/run strategy, determined to make it the end. He did get caught and overtaken by two of the other competitors but he made it to the line, completing the race in a still very impressive time of 3 hours 54 minutes and 9 seconds.

Considering what he’d been through in the latter stages of the race, that was a hell of an achievement. He finished up in 4th place out of the 170 who completed the course.

There were also 53 runners who started the race but were unable to make it the end, which gives some impression of how incredibly tough it was out there.

Stuart Nicholas - Darkstar River Marathon
It was a challenging race but an extremely character building one for Stu as he took 4th place in a time of 3:54:09

The race was won by Paul Sargent of Burgess Hill Runners in a time of 3 hours 48 minutes and 48 seconds. Jonny Burke of Goring RRC was 2nd in 3:44:19 and Paul Perry of Serpentine came in 3rd in a time of 3:52:28. The first lady over the line was Lorna Spayne, who came in 17th in a time of 4:17:10.

Ordinarily, Stu would expect to complete most of his marathons in under 3 hours, but to get through one as tough as this one was in under 4 hours was still an outstanding achievement.

Needless to say, he was aching a bit in the aftermath but as the soarness in the joints eases off, no doubt he’ll look back on this race with, not necessarily fond memories, but a sense of pride and some semblance of satisfaction in what he achieved.

It’s also brought him one step closer to his target of having completed 50 marathons; a milestone he is hoping to reach by the end of the year.

Darkstar River Marathon medal
A nice big piece of bling and a can of Dark Star lager made it all worthwhile. Well… almost!




Trevor Elkins ramps it up at the Romsey 5 Mile Run

Trevor Elkins - Romsey 5 Mile Run
Trevor Elkins was aiming for a sub 30 minute finish in the Romsey 5 Mile Run

The Romsey 5 Mile Run is set within the majestic grounds of The Broadlands Estate, once home to The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and is known for being one of the fastest and flattest 5 mile races in the country.

It was a race that Trevor Elkins had targeted for his first time under 30 minutes for a 5 miler. It was always going to be a tough ask though, as it means a sub 6 minute mile average pace. Having recently upped his mileage quite significantly though, Trevor felt like he was in good enough shape to at least give it a go.

Trevor Elkins - Romsey 5 Mile Run
Trevor gets a warm up in before he sets off on his 5 mile foray

Conscious of the difficulty of the task he had ahead of him, Trevor was desperate to get off to a good start and went through the first mile in 5 minutes 50 seconds. His pace slipped a bit in the second mile but he was still on course for the time he was looking for.

The third mile contained a section of badly maintained pavement, which was so rough it felt like going through a never ending pothole. It was a two lap course and Trevor actually had to go over that section three times.

This did slow him down quite significantly and he went through miles 3 and 4 at around 6:30 pace. He now knew that his chances of achieving his target time had gone out the window.

Trevor Elkins - Romsey 5 Mile Run
Trevor (number 1742) mixes in with the pack as he works his way round the picturesque Broadlands Estate

He did manage to pick it up a little in the last mile, managing a 6:15 minute mile, consequently crossing the line in a time of 31:01. Although it wasn’t quite the time he was hoping for, it was still a decent performance from Trevor and gives him something to build on.

In a field of 914, Trevor crossed the line in 39th place, which is still a result to be proud of and it put him 7th in the male 30-39 category. His average pace for the run was 6 minutes 13, which would have pleased most people but for Trevor, it left him feeling slightly disappointed.

Sometimes, as a runner though, you do get those days where it just doesn’t quite click and you don’t feel you have achieved maximum potential. That may have been for case for Trevor on this occasion but he will have the opportunity to redeem himself next weekend as he goes in the Avon Valley Railway 4k; a race he won last year in a course record time of 15:09.

Trevor Elkins - Romsey 5 Mile Run
Finishing in a time of 31:01, Trevor took 39th place out in a field of 914 participants

Rich Brawn slips into 2nd place at Warmley Forest Park 5k

Richard Brawn - Warmley Forest Park 5k
Richard Brawn made his way over to Bristol for the Warmley Forest Park 5k in search of some silverware to put on the mantelpiece

A week of frequent rain in the lead up to the Warmley Forest Park 5k and 10k races had left the Bristol based course in an extremely soggy and muddy state. That seems to be just how the locals from that area seem to like it though and they were keen to get to grips with the challenging off-road route.

Giving an Aspire Running Event a go for the first time, Rich Brawn didn’t really know what to expect. The Aspire Running Event had been recommended to him by his Bournemouth AC teammate Trevor Elkins, who has done quite a few of the Aspire races and has accrued an impressive array of trophies over the past few years.

After arriving at the venue, Rich was immediately struck by the friendly atmosphere and could see that spirits hadn’t been dampened by the cold and wet conditions.

As well as the standard 5k and 10k races, there was also a Canicross option for people wishing to run with a dog. These races were surprisingly popular and added to the genial nature of the proceedings.

Once the Canicross races has got underway, it was time for the 5k race to start. This was where things got a bit more serious, or they did for Rich at least. He was focused and had come with only one intention – and that was to win.

He could see Ross Wayne there on the start line and was aware that Ross would be a threat. In fact, he had encountered Ross at Blandford parkrun a few weeks ago, where the there wasn’t must to choose between the two. Rich had just came out on top that day but he knew he’d have to run well again to repeat that feat.

In the early stages of the race, Rich was in the lead. He was quite comfortable going over the concrete paths. However, once the route began to wind into the forest and out into the fields, that was when it got a whole lot tougher.

Although he had his trail shoes on, Rich was still struggling to find some grip on the muddy surface. He was slipping and sliding all over the place and it was then that Brad Cox pounced to take over the lead.

Rich Brawn and Brad Cox - Warmley Forest Park 5k
Rich and Brad were jostling for the lead as they made their way across the slippery fields in the early stages of the race

Brad is a another regular at the Aspire Running Events and has very good pedigree. He’s certainly had some good tussles with Trevor over recent times and has always proved to a be a strong competitor.

Rich tried to stay with Brad as best he could but then a game changing moment occurred. As the pair began to approach a tight path through the woods there were a couple of runners with dogs just ahead. Brad moved quickly to nip in front of them as he got to the path. Rich was unable to get there in time and had to come to a virtual stop to wait for the runners with dogs to let him past.

Richard Brawn - Warmley Forest Park 5k
The mud out on the route was thick and slippery and made it very tough going as the race wore on

Brad seized the moment and opened out a gap between himself and Rich and it was a gap that Rich was unable to close as the race went on. He began to realise he would have to settle for 2nd place. The gap between the pair of them was widening throughout the rest of the race and soon Brad was completely out of sight.

The left Rich with just the task of negotiating his way over the thick mud safely enough to be able to get to the line. The difficulty of running in mud had taken it’s toll on Rich and he slowed down quite considerably over the latter stages.

Crossing the line in a time of 22 minutes 54 seconds, Rich finished up 1 minute 18 behind Brad, who took the race win in 21:36. Despite taking a wrong turn at one point, Ross took 3rd in a time of 24:26.

Rich Brawn and Brad Cox - Warmley Forest Park 5k
Rich pictured with race winner Brad Cox

Although it wasn’t quite the result he was hoping for, Rich was still happy to receive a trophy for his 2nd place and it was actually the first trophy he had ever won in an individual race. This made the long drive and the plight of finishing up absolutely covered in mud all worthwhile in the end.

Rich picks up his trophy for finishing 2nd overall in the 5k race

After completing the race, Rich certainly felt like his leg muscles had had a proper workout. It required a fair amount of strength just to stay upright round the twists and turns of the muddy trails. At that point, he was glad he wasn’t doing to the 10k where the participants had to do that same loop twice.

Overall, Rich enjoyed the race and, although it was quite a long way to travel, he wouldn’t be adverse to trying out some other Aspire Running Events in the future. Perhaps he’ll manage to secure that elusive 1st place trophy next time round.

Richard Brawn - Warmley Forest Park 5k
Rich enjoyed the race and would certainly consider doing other Aspire Running Events in the future


Trevor Elkins guns for glory in Dirty Devil Stampede 5k

Trevor Elkins - Dirty Devil Stampede 5k
It was a cold, wet day as Trevor Elkins set out on a quest to retain the Dirty Devil Stampede 5k title that he had claimed the past two years

Staged on the rugged trails of the nation’s only dedicated army tank training ground at Bovington Camp, The Dirty Devil Stampede is far from your standard, off-road 5k or 10k race.

The muddy tracks and numerous water sections, sometimes over waist deep, give it a very unique twist. At one point, competitors are required to crawl under a net through an ankle deep muddy puddle. It could almost be described as a cross between a running race and an army assault course.

After winning the race the previous 2 years, Trevor Elkins is quite adept at handling the challenges that a course like this can bring and he was looking to retain his title in the 5k event. Having recently upped his mileage quite significantly, covering 120 miles in three weeks, Trevor was going into it feeling a little fatigued to say the least.

That said though, he had had a bit of a rest week in the lead up to the race though so was hoping to feel a little fresher but the heavy miles had definitely taken its toll.

In spite of that, Trevor started off well and was sitting in second place for the first couple of miles before edging his way into the lead. He had managed to build up a gap of around 20 metres before proceeding to fall over in one of the water sections.

The guy who Trevor had initially overtaken, Morven Telford, then seized his opportunity and reassumed the lead. After falling over a couple more times, Trevor had to resort to walking through the water sections, whereas Morven was running though, enabling him to extend his lead.

Because it was a training ground for army tanks, the water sections were deeper on the left and right hand sides, where the tracks go, and more shallow in the middle, although that was still up to waist height. The problem for Trevor was that he was trying to take the middle ground but his right foot kept slipping into the deep area.

With about half a mile to go, Trevor caught Morven up, but as he was weaker going through the mud and water sections, he wasn’t able to get back in front and was ultimately forced to settle for 2nd place.

2nd place trophy - Dirty Devil Stampede 5k
The trophy Trevor was awarded his 2nd place finish

Although he hadn’t quite managed to seal his 3rd consecutive victory, it was still a very commendable performance from Trevor and his finishing time of 21:43 was a slight improvement on his performance last year.

The gap between Morven and Trevor as they crossed the line was only 30 seconds, so it was a very close call. After the race, Trevor was presented with glass trophy for 2nd place, which was a nice consolation.

There were a total of 221 finishers in the 5k race. A further 320 took part in the 10k race, which was won by Luke Debenedictis of Poole Runners in 37:25. There was also a 15k race which attracted 144 participants. That was won by Chris Lee of Zoom Tri Club in 57:23.

2nd place trophy and finisher's medal - Dirty Devil Stampede 5k
Trevor took home some good mementos of the race including his 2nd place trophy and a very nice finisher’s medal