Category Archives: Road_Reports

Sanjai and Graeme get themselves up for the Wokingham Half Marathon

Sanjai Sharma and Graeme Miller in the Wokingham Half Marathon
As a regular part of their London Marathon training routine, Sanjai Sharma and Graeme Miller were in action at the Wokingham Half Marathon

Usually serving as a key race on the road to London for Graeme Miller and Sanjai Sharma, the Wokingham Half Marathon presented them with the opportunity to assess where they’re at with their fitness in preparation for the big event.

Judging by the pace of some of the long training runs he’d been producing recently though, Graeme would have already known that he was running well and in good form. But of course, the proof of the pudding is being able to display it in races.

He had already performed well at the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon on New Year’s Day, finishing in 10th place that day and coming in ahead of some good quality Twemlow Track Club runners.

Unfortunately for Sanjai, his training hadn’t been going quite so well and he wasn’t feeling as positive. Work commitments and the atrocious weather conditions of late had made it very difficult for him to get in the quality or quantity of sessions he usually would.

Every year Sanjai takes part in the Bramley 20 as well which would have been a good training run for him and a good opportunity to gage his progress. Sadly that, along with many other races over the past few weeks, fell foul to the storms and was cancelled as a result.

That made the Wokingham Half Marathon even more important to him as it now represented his first chance of the year to test himself in a race environment.

That said, the Wokingham Half Marathon itself was also under threat due to the obscene amount of rainfall. In fact, on the Monday of the race week itself, some sections of the course were completely under water and bore more resemblance to a river than they did a road.

The race organizers were determined to do what they could to ensure the race went ahead though and even had contingency plan routes they could switch to if need be.

In the lead up to the race, Graeme found himself checking the weather conditions on what seemed like an hourly basis. He wasn’t looking forward to running in 45 mile-per-hour winds and was worried that Storm Dennis would scupper his chances of achieving his goal of a sub-80-minute finish.

Wokingham was actually the venue where Graeme recorded his half marathon PB of 1:15:38 back in 2015, so he knew it would be a good opportunity to go quick if he was feeling good. His last time competing in the race was 2018 where he recorded a time of 1:19:20.

Sanjai also has an impressive resume when it comes to the Wokingham Half Marathon. He’s consistently produced good solid performances there and from 2016, to 2018 he recorded times of 1:21:11, 1:21:13 and 1:21:08. Last year he completed the course in 1:21:55.

The first mile of the route contained a bit of downhill enabling the competitors to get off to a ferociously fast start. Graeme went out hard recording a 5:43 first mile.

He soon found himself in a nice group and began ticking the miles off. He managed to maintain sub-6-minute mile pace for the next four miles.

The strong winds were playing havoc with his asthma though and he got dropped from the group he was running with. He dug in and worked hard to get back in contact with the group only to get dropped again a mile or so later when they hit another section of high winds.

Graeme Miller in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Although he had to combat Storm Dennis on the way, Graeme still managed to maintain a fast pace throughout the run

His pace was still pretty good though and he was going at just over 6-minutes-per-mile pace up to the 11th mile. At that point his left abductor tightened up though and he struggled to run over the last few miles.

Mile 11 was his slowest of the race at 6:25 but he battled on to pick the pace up again and carry on till the end, posting a 6:08 and a 6:03 for the last couple of miles.

Arriving at the finish in a terrific time of 1:18:47 which put him in 88th place overall in a field of 2,632 runners. In the M45 category he was 5th out of 238. That was Graeme‘s fastest half marathon since he recorded that epic PB back in 2015.

As for Sanjai, he didn’t fare quite so well and ended up recording his worst half marathon time for quite a number of years. Crossing the line in 1:28:19, he finished up in 332nd position overall. That put him 18th out of 142 in the M55 category.

Sanjai Sharma in the Wokingham Half Marathon
Sanjai’s time didn’t quite match up to what he’d produced in previous years

Of course that’s still a time that most runners would be pleased with but for Sanjai, he’s used to performing at a much higher level.

Hopefully once the weather improves a bit he’ll be able to vamp his training up though and there is still plenty of time for him to get into reasonable shape, if he’s able to get a decent block of sessions in over the rest of the month and the beginning of next month.

Although really he should really be happy to achieve what he set out to, when Graeme reflects back on it, there is still a tinge of frustration there as he knows he could have gone faster had it not been for his abductor tightening and his asthma.

If anything, it’s a good sign though that, even after such an impressive performance, there is still scope for him to get faster. That can only bode well for his London Marathon prospects when the big day arrives.

Sanjai Sharma and Graeme Miller at the Wokingham Half Marathon
The Wokingham Half Marathon brought about mixed fortunes for Sanjai and Graeme





Mud galore for BAC ladies at Hope Rising Tyrell Trail Run

Bournemouth AC ladies at the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run
Nikki Sandell, Louise Price and Caroline Rowley were the Bournemouth AC trio that made the trip to Avon Tyrrell for the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run

When the Bournemouth AC trio of Nikki Sandell, Louise Price and Caroline Rowley went on a road trip to Avon Tyrrell for the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run, if it was mud they were after, they certainly got a lot of bang for their buck.

The conditions were such that at times they were up to their knees in it and it was incredibly slippery and slidey. It was all part of the fun though and the BAC ladies handled the treacherous conditions commendably.

There was a 5k race consisting on one lap and a 10k race which was two laps and the BAC ladies went for the 10k option. If you’re going to go through the mire once you may as well do it twice, right? That was the theory anyway.

The event was put on by Hope Rising, a Christian charity that helps people in need in a variety of ways. The course went across some lovely scenic countryside. But it was extremely challenging. As well as the deep mud and slippery mud, there were plenty of ups and downs as well. It really was a true test of stamina and resolve.

The course even had a touch of the tough mudders about it. On one particular section there was what could only be described as a mud slide. And to add to the terror, it had a barbed wire fence on one side and an electric fence on the other!!

There were some incidents along the way as well. Caroline hit the deck at one point on a very slippery downhill section. Then Louise very nearly went down and went to grab the wire fence next to her when a guy who was behind shouted to her that is was an electric fence! Fortunately managed to stay upright in the end though and didn’t get electrocuted!

When the results were divvied up at the end, the ladies and men were listed separately. Nikki finished as second placed lady in a time of 57:23. The first lady had come in with an advantage of over three minutes though, coming in in 54:02. That was Anna Smith-James.

Sarah Lewis of Totton RC was the only other lady to finish in under an hour. She crossed the line in 59:28.

Caroline and Louise also ran well, finishing in 8th and 9th places respectively. Caroline’s time of 1:04:44 and Louise’s was 1:04:50. There was a total of 42 females in the race.

It was advertised that there would be a men’s and a ladies’ team prize but they only gave out one team prize in the end and that went to Sir Runalot.

Nikki, Louise and Caroline after the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail 10k
If a ladies team prize had been handed out it would have gone to the Bournemouth AC trio

The Bournemouth AC trio would have won the ladies competition though. Since it was only a small charity event though, it didn’t matter.

Former Bournemouth AC man Trev Elkins claimed victory in the 5k race finishing in 22:45. He fended off competition from Thomas Crawley of Lonely Goat RC who was second in 24:30 and Ross Wayne of Purbeck Runners who was third in 26:21.

Trev Elkins at the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run
Trev Elkins (yellow jacket) was the winner of the 5k race

Caroline had great fun, even though she said it felt like she was wearing welly boots at times because her legs were so caked in mud. She found it nice to be running off-road for a change though.

She also said it was fantastic to be on a road trip with her teammates again as well and it made her realise she’s missed that enormously over the last couple of years.

Louise found it hilarious in places and although she didn’t find the race to be quite as much fun as the others, Nikki thoroughly enjoyed the road trip, as they all did.

Caroline, Louise and Nikki at the Hope Rising Tyrrell Trail Run
Although there was plenty of fun be had traipsing through the mud, the BAC ladies enjoyed the road trip more than the actual race itself









Craig and Disco deliver blinding bests at Barcelona Half Marathon

Dave Long and Craig Palmer hit the Barcelona Half Marathon
Two of Bournemouth AC’s top speed merchants Dave Long and Craig Palmer were looking to hit the ground running in the Barcelona Half Marathon

When they go on tour, the Bournemouth AC boys really do go all out, and that was certainly the case when Craig Palmer and Dave Long ventured over to Catalonia for the Barcelona Half Marathon.

And as well as getting the opportunity to mix it up with some top class elite athletes in one of Europe’s premier half marathon races, it was also Dave’s birthday on the very same day of the race. That made the occasion even more special for Disco and Craig.

They knew that whatever happens, they would be in for a big session in bars later on and there would be plenty of cervezas being sunk. First thing’s first though… They had a race to run. And it was a big one.

After recording a 30:35 time at the Chichester 10k two weeks earlier, Disco was satisfied enough that he was in good form and was thinking he might be looking at something in the region of 65 minutes.

He had had a couple of half marathon attempts that had gone awry in 2019 though. One was the Reading Half where we went out too hard and blew up after four miles.

Then later in the year he was due to compete in the Gosport Half Marathon but picked up a calf strain in the run up to it and had a sinus infection as well which meant he never made it onto the start line.

As for Craig, he wasn’t in the best shape he could have been in as he’d only done a few speed sessions so far this year. Nevertheless though, he was still determined to aim high and give it his best shot. Que sera sera.

Dave Long and Craig Palmer after completing the Barcelona Half Marathon
Disco and Craig both had high hopes of coming away with a decent time as they lined up for the big race

When the race got going, Disco seemed to get caught up in all the excitement and went out really hard. That led to him clocking a 4:48 for the first mile!

It was a blistering pace and one that would have been almost impossible to maintain over the duration of a half marathon. For the next few miles he was going at around five minutes per mile before hitting a downhill section on the fifth mile and picking it up again.

His pace dropped a bit over the next four miles but not a lot. He was still doing around 5:10 per mile. Impressively, he then managed to pick it up again on miles 10 and 11 and he was back to five minute miling.

The last two-and-a-quarter miles were pretty tough going and Dave had to dig deep to limit the damage. His official finishing time as he crossed the line was 1:07:44, which is a phenomenal result for a half marathon.

That put him in 93rd place in the overall standings. That was out of a field of 18,527 finishers. He was also the 10th quickest UK runner out of 1,278. His average pace for the run was an incredible 5:06 minutes per mile.

Another impressive stat for Dave was that he’d slashed 3 minutes 45 seconds of his previous best half marathon time of 1:11:28 which he set at the Goodwood Half Marathon in December.

And not only had he done that, he’d also somehow managed to rip off the front bit of the skin on one of his toes whilst he was running as well which caused quite a bit of bleeding and some pain as well no doubt. Despite that though, he’d been able to keep focused on the job in hand and block it out, which takes character.

Also going out pretty hard from the gun, Craig completed his first mile in 5:12. He then followed that up with a 5:10 in the second mile before taking the pace up a notch further to just over five minutes per mile for the next three miles.

He then completed the sixth mile in 5:10 and at the half way stage of the race, he was on course for a sub-68-minute finish. His levels began to drop a tad over the second half of the race though and he ended up suffering for his early eagerness. That was kind of what he was expecting to happen though. He knew it wasn’t going to be pretty towards the end and was prepared for that.

That said, he’d only gone down to around 5:15 pace from miles 7 to 11 so he had managed to hold it together well considering. He went through 10 miles in 51:28 which would have easily been a 10-mile best for him.

It was only in miles 12 and 13 where he really began to struggle though and he had to dig deep to minimise his losses over that last part of the race.

Reaching the finish line in a time of 1:09:06, Craig came in in a still very impressive 126th place and was 15th quickest out of all the UK runners in the race.

Dave Long and Craig Palmer after the Barcelona Half Marathon
Finishing 93rd and 126th out of over 18,500 runners, it was a terrific result for both Disco and Craig

With an average pace for the run of 5:13, considering he wasn’t in peak condition going into it, that was a fine display from Craig. It also eclipsed his previous best time from London’s Big Half last year by 31 seconds.

Although it wasn’t quite the time he would have wanted in an ideal world, it was still a terrific run under the circumstances and he said he’s learnt some valuable lessons from this run and it’s only served to make him hungrier for the next one.

The next big race Craig has lined up is the Bath Half Marathon on 15th March so if he can get a few decent speed sessions in between now and then, he could be ready to set a big PB if the conditions are right.

Craig, Roy, Elaine and Dave celebrate in Barcelona
Craig and Disco celebrated after the race with Dave’s dad Roy and mum Elaine

Once the racing was over the celebrations began for Disco and Craig and Dave’s dad Roy and mum Elaine were also there to enjoy the occasion. From that point on muchas cervezas were sunk and a fair few tequilas went down as well as the they partied hard long into the night.

It’s very much a work hard, play hard philosophy for Disco and Craig. They put everything into their training and generally get themselves into the best possible condition they can for when a target race comes around.

But they also enjoy the social element and are always keen to reward themselves with a few drinks after a job well done. And they certainly do earn them. There’s no doubt about that.

Dave Long and Craig Palmer at the Barcelona Half Marathon
With both recording new half marathon PBs and enjoying a great night on the source afterwards, it was an excellent trip for Dave and Craig











Andy G earns his stripes with age category win at Newquay 10k

Andy Gillespie taking on the Newquay 10k
In a rare foray for him, Andy Gillespie was in action over a shorter distance race when he took on the Newquay 10k

By his own admission, Andy Gillespie isn’t one of the fastest runners on the Bournemouth AC roster. Nor does he possess the most trophies or prizes on his mantelpiece. As a consequence, he sometimes questions whether that makes him unworthy of wearing the fabled yellow and blue vest. In reality though, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes running isn’t just about getting to the finish line first and how quickly you’ve run. It’s about the magnitude of the achievement. It’s about the commitment and dedication you put in to see it through and overcome the challenges and the adversity.

Andy is a veteran of over 100 marathons and last year at the Salisbury 54321 event, he earned his right of passage into the 100 Marathon Club. That speaks volumes for the kind of athlete is. The determination he possesses and the will to succeed in the face of any challenge put before him makes him a role model for many in the running community.

Having completed all those marathons since 2004 as well, it only took him 15 years to reach that incredible landmark. A lot of the events he did were three marathons and three days coastal challenges as well which he’s always had an affinity for.

What’s all the more impressive and an even bigger reflection of his character is that in all those marathons and ultras he’s conquered, he never had one single DNF. If he was on the start line, he was going to make it to the finish, not matter what. There’s something to be said for a man with that level of tenacity and never say die attitude.

A lot of the races and events he’s completed have left him with a medal and a huge sense of achievement. But not many have brought him a prize it would be fair to say. That all changed when he headed over to Cornwall for the Newquay 10k.

The Newquay 10k has a fairly undulating course with some testing inclines along the way. In fact, it begins with a short sharp climb which is followed by a nice downhill and flat stretch.

There is then a steady incline which starts at around 1.5 miles and continues all the way to mile 3.  A bit more downhill comes into play after that enabling the runners can pick up the pace before the gradual climb up to finish which starts at about mile 5.

When he’s in shorter distance races, Andy usually feels a little out of his comfort zone and the pressure to find his top gear and to perform at a high intensity is something he often finds difficult.

Opening with a 7:04 for the first mile, Andy was well on his way. But would have enough to maintain the pace? That was the question. His pace dropped a little over the next couple of miles when the long climb came into play, posting a 7:58 and a 7:48.

Once he hit the descent on mile 4, he was able to pick up the pace again and went through both the next two miles in 7:10. That left just one more climb over the latter stages of the race.

Completing the 6th mile in 7:21, it was then just a case of getting through the last 0.2 of a mile. Andy did that at 7:50 pace which led him to a 46:50 finish. That put him in 182nd place out of 790 runners.

That was enough to see Andy take first prize in the Male 60-64 category which he was over the moon about. That was 46 seconds quicker than Peter Allen of Newquay Road Runners who was 2nd in the Male 60-64 category, finishing in 47:36.

Since it’s not a regular occurrence for Andy to win a prize of any sort, it was a bit of a novelty for him.  It was also exactly a minute quicker than his time at the Boscombe 10k at the end of November last year so that represents progress for Andy.

Despite the age category win though and the fact that he is working on his speed a bit to try and get quicker, Andy will always be more of an endurance athlete at heart. He’d sooner run a grueling, hilly off-road marathon than a fast, flat 10k, any day of the week.

Andy Gillespie in action at the Newquay 10k
It was a great workout for Andy tackling the testing inclines but he was glad he did it and coming away with an age category win was a huge bonus

BAC trio check in to Chichester 10k

Dave Long takes on the Chichester 10k
After a huge PB in last year’s race, Dave Long returned to the Chichester 10k and brought Rob McTaggart and Rob Spencer with him this time round

In a place that’s synonymous with the thrills and spills of fast-paced racing, what better setting could there be than Goodwood Motor Circuit for three of Bournemouth AC’s quickest turbo chargers to get into gear.

In fact, the talented trio of Dave Long, Rob Spencer and Rob McTaggart were hoping they would be in with a shout of taking the team prize at the Chichester 10k, which starts out at the entrance of Goodwood Motor Circuit and ends with a lap around the circuit.

As is often the case with very fast, flat races with the provisions for a big field though, the event attracts a very high calibre of athlete. In fact, some of the best distance runners in the country were there contesting including the likes of Andy Vernon.

The first 6km of the route are on public roads as the route heads past the Rolls Royce factory and along Stane Street, a historic Roman road. It then heads through Strettington and back toward Goodwood via New Road.

It then enters the motor circuit from Claypit Lane and after a full lap of the motor circuit has been completed the finish on the Pits straight lies in wait.

It was at the Chichester 10k last year that Dave Long recorded his current 10k PB of 30:01. That lopped 41 seconds off his previous best time before that which was set in the Supersonic 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival.

He knew from that it was the kind of race where, if he gets a right, it could yield a terrific result. The same went for Rob Spencer and Tag as well.

They’d both put in some sensation performances towards the back end of 2019 and had been training well thus far since the turn of the year.

Tag had secured a new PB of 31:29 at the Telford 10k in December, breaking that illusive 32 minute barrier for the first time. He’d also delivered a sensational performance in the Cardiff Half Marathon to complete the course in 1:08:56.

As for Rob Spencer, he’d sealed a new PB and the Christchurch Christmas 10k with a time of 32:07 and completed the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Half Marathon in a magnificent time of 1:11:06.

Needless to say, there was a lot of potential for big performances between the three of them as they lined up on the starting grid, well fuelled and ready to go.

Start of the Chichester 10k
Once they’re given the green light, the competitors get their engines running and put the pedal to the metal

Dave opened with a very exuberant first couple of miles, posting a 4:40 and a 4:43 mile. He had the Barcelona Half Marathon to think about in a couple of weeks time and that was his main target race, but in such a fiercely competitive field, it was easy to get swept along.

In fact, Disco got through the first 5k in 14:45 which would have been a PB for him.

Dave Long competing in the Chichester 10k
A ferociously fast first 5k put Disco in a good position going into second half of the race

Rob Spencer and Tag ran together for the first mile, both starting off with at 4:55 pace. Rob Spencer was slightly quicker over the second mile, managing to maintain roughly that same pace and Tag went through around five seconds slower.

Rob McTaggart in the Chichester 10k
Tag settles into his rhythm in the early stages of the race

Both recorded a 5:10 split for the third mile and Rob Spencer went though the 5k point in 15:34 which would have been a PB for him. Tag went through the 5k point in 15:38 which wouldn’t have been far off a PB for him either.

Tag and Rob Spencer in action in the Chichester 10k
Tag and Rob Spencer make their way round Goodwood Motor Circuit

Managing a 5:03 and a 5:04 for the fourth and the fifth mile, Disco picked it up again a bit in the sixth mile to post a 4:56 before finishing strongly to complete the course in an excellent time of 30:35.

Dave Long in the Chichester 10k
Disco put in another top level performance which showed his form is shaping up nicely

That was good enough the put him in 21st place. That might seem quite low down for a time like that but it emphasizes the tremendously high standard of field that the Chichester 10k attracts.

With one eye on the Barcelona Half Marathon, that was about the sort of time Disco was aiming for so he was pretty pleased with that effort.

Dave Long finishing the Chichester 10k
Dave crossed the line in 30:35 to take 21st place

Rob Spencer was very consistent in pace for the second 5k, posting a 5:04 for the fourth mile, a 5:07 for the fifth mile and a 5:05 for the sixth mile.

Tag dropped off the pace slightly on the fifth mile but managed to pick it up again on the sixth mile and the pair both finished strongly.

Rob Spencer and Tag in the Chichester 10k
Tag and Rob Spencer worked well together for much of the race

Rob Spencer went over the line in 31:35, which was a fantastic new PB for him. That put him in 32nd place in the overall standings.

Arriving at the finish 10 seconds later, Tag came in at 31:45, which put him in 35th place. Considering it was a day where he wasn’t quite feeling at his absolute best, that was actually a really good time from Tag.

Rob Spencer finishing the Chichester 10k
Rob Spencer recorded his first sub-32-minute 10k in a stellar performance

Before he managed it at the Telford 10k, Tag had been trying to manufacture a sub-32-minute 10k for quite a while, so it was good news that he’d been able to produce another one so quickly.

Tag was also feeling quite heavy legged after his exertions at the Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill the weekend before, and a long run that he did the next day.

Tag’s main focus from now onwards will be London’s Big Half in March where last year he managed a sub 1:10 time.

Tag finishing the Chichester 10k
Tag reaches the line to take 35th place in a time of 31:45

The race was won by Nick Goolab of Belgrave Harriers who finished in a superfast time of 29:01. Ben Bradley of Aldershot, Farnham & District and Own Hind of Kent AC were second and third, both completing the course in a time of 29:11.

Charlie Hulson of Liverpool AC took fourth place in 29:14, with Ross Skelton of Hastings AC taking fifth in 29:18. Jake Shelley of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers was sixth in 29:40, before Andy Vernon came over the line to take seventh place in 29:46.

A total of 1,529 runners successfully complete the course.

In terms of the team competition, even though all three Bournemouth AC members ran so well and recorded such quick times, it was only enough to see them finish as third best team on cumulative time.

Having been the scourge of Bournemouth AC for many years now in the Hampshire League Cross Country, it was Aldershot, Farnham & District who picked the team win.

They had Ben Bradley who was second, Andy Vernon who was seventh and Alex Pointon who finished 11th in a time of 30:09. That gave them a highly impressive total time of 1:29:06.

Another club with a tendency to outdo BAC in the Hampshire League Cross Country, Southampton AC, managed to secure the second placed team position.

They had Jonathon Roberts who was eighth in 30:00, Ben Brewster who was 29th in 31:26 and Rikki James who was 33rd in 31:43. That gave them a cumulative time of 1:33:11.

The BAC trio of Disco, Rob Spencer and Tag finished as the third placed team with a total combined time of 1:33:57.

This outing at the Chichester 10k will no doubt prove a good springboard for the three of them though and it will certainly be exciting to see what kind of performances they can produce in their next big target races over the coming months.








BAC bring the fight to Blackmore Vale

Bournemouth AC team at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
No less than seven Bournemouth AC ladies turned up to tackle the testing, hilly route at Blackmore Vale. Here they are accompanied by the ever green Ian Graham and half marathon debutante Phil Cherrett

After a dream start to the season in which both the Bournemouth AC men’s and women’s teams emerged victorious at the Broadstone Quarter, the yellow and blue army headed to the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon to try to consolidate their positions in fixture two.

With Jacek Cieluszecki, Steve Way, Toby Chapman, Ant Clark and Stu Nicholas in the line up, they knew they had a good chance of doubling their lead at the top of the men’s first division.

They couldn’t count their chickens just yet though as Egdon Heath Harriers had also managed to assemble a dangerously competitive team of five including Jonny Cooper, Paul Bullimore and Adam Davies.

It had all the makings of an exciting showdown between the two first division heavyweights. After a decent showing in the first fixture, Twemlow Track Club were out in force again and they were bolstered by the return of last year’s Dorset Road Race League men’s individual winner Lee Dempster.

Making his Twemlow Track Club debut after moving over the dark side from BAC, Jez Bragg was also in action and looking to help spearhead his new team to promotion from division two.

Jacek, Stu and Toby in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Stu Nicholas (middle), Jacek Cieluszecki (left) and Toby Chapman (right) formed part of a strong Bournemouth AC line up for the second league match of the season

The Bournemouth AC ladies team had strength in numbers at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon, which was refreshing to see as they’d had difficulties getting a team of three together for some of the fixtures last season.

They had no less than seven women turning out, ready and raring to tackle the tough, hilly course and give their best for the vest. Last season’s highest point scorer for the team, Tamzin Petersen, was in action, as was popular new recruit for the 2020 season, Heather Khoshnevis.

The team were also buoyed by the return to road race league action of Caroline Rowley, after several years away from the local race circuit. It was good to see her in and amongst it again and her presence seemed to give everyone a lift.

Estelle, Sam and Tamzin in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Estelle Slatford, Sam White and Tamzin Petersen were three of the BAC women in action at Blackmore Vale

Bringing home a second win for the season was going to prove difficult though after injuries prevented Emma Caplan and Helen O’Neile from taking part.

Egdon Heath Harriers looked like they would provide the main threat and with last season’s Dorset Road Race League women’s champion Alex Door in their ranks. Poole Runners and Lytchett Manor Striders were also likely to be in contention for team honours.

It wasn’t just Dorset Road Race League club runners who had been attracted to the race though. GB international Adam Holland had also thrown his hat into the ring, along with Jonny Suttle of Bristol and West AC.

Start of Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
The 2020 Blackmore Vale Lions Half Marathon gets underway

As soon as the race got underway it soon became evident that Adam Holland had designs on coming away with the race win. He very quickly opened up a big gap at the front of the field and no one seemed prepared to even attempt to match his pace.

The chasing pack was lead by Jonny Suttle, with Lee Dempster and Mark Smith of Twemlow Track Club in just behind, along with Christopher Peck of the other new team for the 2020 season, Dorchester RIOT.

Toby Chapman was the highest place Bournemouth AC runner in the early stages of the race and he was joined by Harry Lauste of Twemlow Track Club and Jez Bragg in the third group out on the road.

JC and Ant Clark held themselves back at first, looking to either ease their way into the race or run it at a very controlled pace, as opposed to hell for leather all the way. Stu Nicholas was also held back by the fact that he’d forgotten to tie his shoelace and had to stop during the first miles to tie it up.

As the race progressed though and they reached the half way point, it was Ben Renshaw of Bridport Runners who started to move through the field.

In fact, he was going so well, he almost caught up with Adam Holland who had been way out front on his own for virtually the whole race. It turned out Adam had too much of an advantage though and was able to hold on for the win, crossing the line in a magnificent time of 1:14:42.

Ben was only 11 seconds behind in the end, securing second place in a time of 1:14:53. Because Adam runs for Tavistock AC though, it was maximum points for Ben in the Dorset Road Race League, or rather minimum points.

After he’d taken third place at the Broadstone Quarter behind Chris Alborough and JC, Ben was starting to look like a real contender for the Dorset Road Race League individual title in the 2020 season.

Johnny Suttle took third place in a time of 1:15:08, with Christopher Peck taking 4th in 1:15:36. They were followed by the Twemlow Track Club trio of Harry Lauste (1:15:40), Lee Dempster (1:15:58) and Mark Smith (1:16:43).

Ant Clark proved that form is temporary but class is permanent as he reached the line in a super quick time of 1:17:25. That was way better than he’d been expected to run so he was really pleased with that performance.

After having to completely stop running when he was suffering from Epstein Barr Virus last summer, Ant has gradually worked his way back into form and is looking on track to be back at his best in the near future.

After taking the first half of the race very steadily he began to move up through the gears and worked his way up the field, ending the race in 8th position. That secured him the prize for second V40 behind Mark Smith.

Richard Swindlehurst was the fourth Twemlow Track Club member to arrive at the finish, netting the prize for 1st V50, finishing in a time of 1:17:42. Only four scorers are required in the second division so that was enough to see them pick up the team win for the fixture.

Egdon Heath Harriers then got their first two men on the board with Jonny Cooper taking 11th place in 1:17:47 and Paul Bullimore finishing 12th in 1:17:59. Duncan Ward of Dorset Doddlers was 2nd V50, crossing the line in 1:18:09 which put him in 13th place.

Despite the shoelace incident, Stu Nicholas ran well to come in as Bournemouth AC’s second scorer, taking 14th place in a time of 1:18:38. He was followed shortly after by JC who recorded a 15th place finish, crossing the line in 1:18:59.

He was going for more of a controlled training run approach rather than an all-out racing mode so given that, it was a decent run from Jacek’s perspective.

Twemlow Track Club had their fifth man in when Jez Bragg arrived at the finish to take 16th place in a time of 1:19:06. It was a strong debut for his new club for Jez.

Adam Davies was Egdon Heath Harriers third scorer of the day, recording a time of 1:19:17. Toby Chapman wasn’t quite in the form he was in last year when he finished second to Steve Way and this time round he had to settle for 18th place, crossing the line in 1:20:03.  He was the fourth Bournemouth AC man in.

Neil Sexton of Poole Runners put in a fine display to take 20th place in a time of 1:20:31, just behind Scott Parfitt of Lytchett Manor Striders who was 19th in 1:20:03.

Bruce Campbell was fourth scorer for Egdon Heath Harriers, putting in a very strong performance to finish in a time of 1:21:10, just ahead of Steve Cook of Twemlow Track Club who was 22nd in 1:21:20.

That left Bournemouth AC and Egdon Heath Harriers just need one for man to complete their scoring teams of five. Originally it looked like it would be between Richard Brawn and Julian Thacker to see who came in first.

Rich Brawn in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Richard Brawn ended up getting embroiled in the battle for the crucial fifth scorer position

Richard’s technique is usually to take it quite steady on the hills in races so he doesn’t put himself in any difficulty. That strategy didn’t work too well at Blackmore Vale though as there are so many hills and he ended up losing quite a bit of ground over the first half of the race.

On the eighth mile, Julian actually caught Richard up and pulled alongside him. That was enough for Rich to decide to really turn the screw. He began to pick up speed and push on and from that point on he was looking forward as opposed to behind.

Towards the end Rich got in a battle with Steve Claxton of Poole Runners and over the last couple of miles they were jostling for position, overtaking each other constantly.

They ended up pushing each other on though and overtook Nick Berry of Dorset Doddlers in the process. Then on the final hill, Steve Way came galloping up behind them.

He had clearly decided to put some work in over the latter stages of the race and was finishing very strongly. Steve continued to push on up the hill, also overtaking Luke Dowsett of Littledown Harriers before reaching the finish to claim 29th place.

Steve’s finishing time was 1:24:34 and that was enough to give Bournemouth AC the victory in the Dorset Road Race League. Steve Claxton won the battle between himself and Rich Brawn, crossing the line in 31st place with a time of 1:24:43.

Rich followed in five seconds later to take 32nd place in a time of 1:25:48. Julian Thacker rounded off the scoring team of five for Egdon Heath Harriers, crossing the line in 1:25:26. That was enough to see them take 2nd place in the Dorset Road Race League first division.

In the ladies race, Alex Door opened her race winning account for the season putting in a fine display to secure a superb sub-1:30 time. She took 55th place overall, in 1:29:33 which was enough to give her a winning margin of well over six minutes on her nearest rival.

Dawn Andrews of Lytchett Manor Striders was second placed female, getting to the line in 1:35:55 which put her in 84th place overall. Dawn’s teammate Judith Vlaarkamp finished as third lady, registering a time of 1:36:53.

It was to be Egdon Heath Harriers’ day though and Victoria Barnett and Hannah Martyn arrived at the finish close to get to secure them the team victory. Victoria’s time was 1:38:06 which put her in 100th place overall and Hannah was next over the line in a time of 1:38:12.

The first Bournemouth AC lady to complete the course was Heather Khoshnevis who clocked a time of 1:42:21. That was one of the best times she’s done at Blackmore Vale Half Marathon for a number of years.

It seemed that once again, the magic yellow vest had done the trick as she recaptured her form of days gone by. She’s participated in a couple of the BAC track sessions taken by Tom Craggs and is already feeling the difference in strength and found she had added determination to get to the finish line.

Finishing as 12th placed female, Heather took first prize in the F55 category and was 133rd overall. She enjoyed sharing the moment with the other BAC ladies and described it as a great day at the races.

The next BAC lady to reach the line was Tamzin Petersen who posted a time of 1:48:09. That put her in 177th place overall and made her the 23rd placed woman.

She found the crosswinds difficult to contend with when she was making her way up the inclines and because she’s very lightweight she often finds that headwinds effect her more than most.

Caroline Rowley made a marvellous comeback to the road race league by finishing as third scorer for the team. She registered a time of 1:51:21 which put her in 198th place overall and 31st lady. She was also fifth in the F45 category.

That meant the Bournemouth AC women had finished in fourth place for the fixture which was a respectable result given that some of their top names were out of action. Lytchett Manor Striders took second with last season’s champions Poole Runners down in third.

Caroline was just pipped to the post by her BAC teammate Ian Graham who managed to overtake her on the last hill. He’d had her in his vision virtually the whole way round but wasn’t really gaining any ground on her and wasn’t expecting to catch her up.

Ian had overtaken a Lytchett Manor Striders runner and about the 11-mile point and thought he might have been in his age category. It turned out to be Stephen Littlecott who was only 64 but Ian didn’t know that at the time.

Stephen had stuck with Ian for a bit but then he’d managed to pull away so was hoping to do his best to keep Stephen behind him. That may in turn explain how he managed to catch Caroline over the course of the last mile when he was pushing hard.

Ian’s finishing time was 1:51:13 in the end which put him in 197th place. There was no prize for the over 70’s but if there had been it would have gone to David Cartwright of Poole Runners who finished in 111th place overall in a stellar time of 1:39:16.

Jim Brumfield of Egdon Heath Harriers also managed to finish ahead of Ian, finishing in a time of 1:50:10 which put him in 190th place.

Closer to the front of the field, Adrian Townsend had been on antibiotics, which seemed to be making him feel sick. As a consequence he took the first three miles very easy before pushing the pace a bit over the next five miles which he ran with one of the Littledown Harriers.

A strong finish saw Adrian go take about five places over the over the last mile. Finishing in a time of 1:31:55, Adrian took 63rd place overall, in what was his third time of running the race.

Adrian Townsend finishing the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Adrian Townsend put everything in over the the course of the last mile and managed to move up the standings as a consequence

Blackmore Vale was to be Phil Cherrett’s first ever half marathon race. He wasn’t sure what it would bring but he was definitely up for giving it his best shot.

Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson was on hand to help shepherd Phil round the course and ensure he was running at a manageable pace.

Rich worked hard to maintain a pace of roughly 8 minutes per mile and led Phil through the race up until they got to the point where they knew Phil would be in line for a sub 1:45 finish. Then Rich slowed his pace down and allowed Phil to push onto the finish.

The pacing had been spot on for Phil and he made it to the finish line in a time of 1:44:39, which put him in 145th place overall. It was a very good first stab at the distance for Phil and he was chuffed that it all went to plan.

Rich ended up crossing the line in a time of 1:45:13 which put him in 149th place overall.

Although she hadn’t been feeling well all week, Estelle Slatford was still keen to do the race for several reasons. One was that she’d done it before and enjoyed to rural setting and undulating nature of the course.

Two was that she knew there were going to be a number of the ladies there so she knew it would be fun. And thirdly, she knew it would be a good training run.

Considering how bad she was feeling before the race and how windy it was, she was pleased with her finishing time of 1:53:24. That put her in 208th place overall, 36th female and sixth F45.

Helen Ambrosen wasn’t far behind Estelle and she was really pleased with her run, getting to the line in a time of 1:54:46. That put her in 219th overall and made her 39th lady and second F60.

Helen actually finished just four seconds ahead of Frances Anderson of Egdon Heath Harriers who is also 63 years of age.

Occupying 231st and 232nd positions on the leaderboard, BAC duo Katrina White and Sam White finished in 1:55:56 and 1:56:16 respectively.

Katrina would have liked to have got closer to 1:50 but on that course and in those conditions, she had to be reasonably pleased. She finished as 45th female.

As for Sam, she had a terrific run and was actually shocked at the time she produced. She thought she’d be over two hours. Although she found it tough mentally and physically, especially with all those hills, she was very pleased with the outcome. It shows she’s in a good place as the begins her training for the London Marathon at the end of April.

Rounding things off for the Bournemouth AC brigade, Ken Parradine completed the course in a time of 2:06:51, putting him in 283rd place. At the ripe old age of 76, Ken is doing well to still be posting those kinds of times. A total of 354 runners successfully finished the race.

With two wins in the first two races, Bournemouth AC are sitting pretty at the top of the table. Egdon Heath Harriers now had a second and a third place to their name and it would appear they will once again be the main challengers for the league title. Poole AC didn’t have a team at Blackmore Vale but they could also be in contention.

Twemlow Track Club look as if they’re going to be the dominant force in the second division and judging by the first two fixtures, they should breeze to promotion.

Their win at Blackmore Vale elevated Egdon Heath Harriers to the top of the women’s first division with Bournemouth AC dropping down the second. With Poole Runners and Lytchett Manor Striders also in the mix it could be a very exciting race for the title this season.

The next Dorset Road Race League fixture on the list was the Lytchett 10 but due to the threat posed by storm Ciara, thew race organisers were left with no option but to cancel the race. They will look to pencil it into the calendar again later down the line.

That means that next up, it’s the Marnhull 12k, which, despite being scheduled for weekend before the London Marathon, has sold out. It could be a tricky task for the Bournemouth AC men to continue their winning streak there as they may not have the strength in numbers there but as usual, Rich Nelson will do what he can to ensure the club fields competitive men’s and women’s teams.

BAC guys get their race underway at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon
Bournemouth AC edged it in the battle for supremacy with Egdon Heath Harriers on this occasion but it’s still early in the season and there’s still all to play for



























Chris Phelan-Heath finds the route to success at Maverick New Forest

Chris Phelan-Heath took on the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest
Chris Phelan-Heath was looking for a rerun of his epic victory from last year in the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest ‘Short’ race

After picking up the victory in last year’s Maverick New ForestShort‘ race, Chris Phelan-Heath was back again to defend his title in the 2020 edition.

He completed the 6km trail route in 23:47 last time round which saw him comfortably fend off the challenge of Sam Davis who was second in 25:21.

But could he repeat the same heroics in this year’s race? That was the burning question. The Maverick races are always named after and sponsored by a specific make of product, often a trail shoe of some sort. This year’s event was called the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest.

As usual there were three different routes to choose from. The ‘Short’ distance, which, as with the previous year, was 6km. The ‘Medium’ distance was 17km and the ‘Long’ race consisted of a 24km route.

There was only ever going to be one option for Chris though. He’s not keen on running long distance and specializes in the shorter, sharper stuff.

The route for all three races started off in the Holmsley inclosure, with the ‘Short’ route remaining within the boundaries of the inclosure for the duration. The ‘Medium’ and ‘Long’ routes head onto the Brownhill and Wilverly inclosures.

There were some short, steep slopes to contend with on the routes and the trails have a tendency to be quite wet and muddy at this time of year so it wasn’t going to be all smooth sailing for Chris and his rivals.

Sam Davis was back again and looked likely to provide the main threat for Chris in his title defence. There were other runners there who could also be capable of challenging on the day though so Chris knew he’d have to put in a performance if he wanted to repeat his 2019 success.

Chris was coming off the back of a very strong win in the Maverick USE Exposure Dark Series Dorset, where he finished comfortably ahead of his Bournemouth AC teammate Stu Glenister. The Maverick New Forest was destined to be a much tighter affair though.

Chris Phelan-Heath starts the start of the Maverick New Forest
Chris bursts out of the blocks as the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original New Forest races get underway

Due to all the recent rain, conditions in the Holmsley inclosure were extremely wet. That meant some sections of the course were super muddy and there were also some flooded patches to content with which made things interesting.

As it panned out, Chris and Sam were to run the entire race together, jostling for position at the front of the race. Sam has a lot of pedigree, with a 1:21 half marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival to his name and a 2:58 time at the London Marathon last Spring.

Chris Phelan-Heath in the Maverick New Forest
Chris makes his way across the plains of the Holmsley inclosure, leaving most the other runners trailing in his wake

It was a real grudge match between the two of them and the lead changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the race. Crucially, Chris managed to pull away from Sam very slightly in the final mile and that proved to be enough.

Chris Phelan-Heath with Sam Davis Maverick New Forest
Chris (right) and Sam Davis (left) went toe-to-toe all the way in a ferocious battle for supremacy

It was another superb victory for Chris and this time round it was certainly a hard fought win. Crossing the line in a time of 25:01, Chris had a winning margin of four seconds in the end over Sam, who took second in 25:05. Sam Pociecha wasn’t too far behind either, arriving at the finish in 25:10 to seal third place.

Chris Phelan-Heath finishes the Maverick New Forest
Chris tastes the sweet flavour of victory as he crosses the line and Sam just arriving on the home straight in the background

With an average pace of 6:14 for the run, it was a very strong performance from Chris, especially when you consider how tricky the conditions were that day. He will be hoping his victory will be a springboard to another very successful year for him in 2020.

Chris Phelan-Heath with prizes from the Maverick New Forest
It was a lucrative day for Chris as he picked up his prizes after a very hard fought triumph

Déjà vu for Mitch Griffiths in Dark Moors 10 Mile race

Mitch Griffiths lines up for the start of the Dark Moors 10 Mile race
Mitch Griffiths lines up on the start line ahead of the Dark Moors 10-Mile race held in Moors Valley Country Club

This time last year Mitch Griffiths was made his Bournemouth AC debut by taking the runner up spot to Paul Russhard of Lymington Tri Club in the Dark Moors 10-Mile race. He was back again in 2020, hoping to go one better and pick up the victory this time round.

Paul Russhard was back again to defend his title though and in last year’s event, he finished over three minutes ahead so there was a fair deficit for Mitch to make up if he was to have any chance of overturning that result.

Of course, a lot can happen in a year though so there were no guarantees either of them would be able to display to same form they showed in the 2019 encounter.

Mitch’s first year for BAC had it’s ups and downs. He picked up an achilles tendon injury in March that kept him out for a good few months. When he returned to action again in June, it took him a while to gain his fitness back and find the same level that he was on before.

Gradually he managed to pick his times back up though until he was in top form again around September time. After that he ran Poole parkrun in 17 minutes flat and posted a new 5-mile PB of 28:13 at the Littledown 5.

He then proceeded to secure a new 10-mile PB of 58:36 and the Great South Run which he then proceeded to beat in the Wimborne 10, clocking a mightily impressive time of 58:21.

He’d certainly proved he was very accomplished at the 10-mile distance but could he carry that form into a night race, that was a the question?

The Dark Moors event is hosted by White Star Running and is held at Moors Valley Country Park, meaning it’s trails and woods all the way for the participants of both the 5-mile and 10-mile races.

Start of the Dark Moors 10 Mile race
The runners gather at the start in the dead of night, ready to take on the two-lap, 10-mile route through the woods

Setting off at 6:15 minutes per mile pace for the first mile, even though it was mostly uphill, Mitch settled into a decent rhythm and went along at a similar pace for the next four miles.

The sixth mile was all uphill, so that was slightly slower but he picked the pace up again over the next two miles leaving him with just two miles left. He managed those at around 6:20 pace, giving him a finishing time of 1 hour 3 minutes exactly.

Considering it’s a trail race, at night, in the pitch black, that’s actually a very good time from Mitch. It eclipsed his time from last year by 22 seconds. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat Paul Russhard who was once again, the runaway winner.

This time he got round in 1:00:44, which was 43 seconds slower than what he did last year. But it was still a fantastic time that was way too quick for anyone else to content with, even Mitch.

The gap between the pair had closed though to less than three minutes this time round so that was something additional to take out of it from Mitch’s perspective. Adam Cox of Mendip Triathlon and Running Club took third place, coming in in a still very good time of 1:03:49.

Kari Mack of Bognor Regis Tone Zone Runners was first female, crossing the line in 12th place overall with a time of 1:09:29. That was enough to see off the challenge of Valeria Sesto of New Forest Runners who came in in 1:11:11 to take 14th place.

Then it was the Lymington Tri Club pair of Kelly Conrad and last year’s female winner Gemma Russhard who finished in 16th and 17th places in times of 1:11:48 and 1:12:06 respectively. A total of 364 runners successfully completed the course.

Mitch’s pace averaged out at 6:17 for his run and, although he’d been comprehensively beaten by Paul Russhard again, he still had fun out there and was pleased with the improvement over his time from last year.

At the end of the race he was presented with a rather nice hip flask as well for sealing the runner up spot which was a good bonus. If Mitch can steer clear of injury in 2020, he could well be in for a cracking year and no doubt has many more PB’s ahead of him over the coming months.

The Dark Moors 10 Mile race gets underway
Paul Russhard of Lymington Tri Club leads the way as the set off with Mitch following just behind him


New Year’s Day Delight for BAC at Broadstone

BAC Team for the Broadstone Quarter
Numerous members of the Bournemouth AC team gave up their New Year celebrations in favour of running the first league race of the season, the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon

As is the tradition with the Dorset Road Race League, the new season kicked off on New Year’s Day with the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon, organised by Dorset’s most sociable runner, Sarah Swift, and her Poole Runners posse.

For Bournemouth AC, the race marked the beginning of their defence of the First Division Men’s League title they won in 2019. And for the ladies team, it marked the renaissance of a new era, with some exciting new names on the club roster along with the return of some more established names recovering from injury woes.

Once again, the duty falls to team captain Rich Nelson to try to piece together a competitive squad for each of the 12 designated fixtures for the 2020 season.

At one stage it looked as if it might be a struggle for the Broadstone Quarter but then several members of the Bournemouth AC old guard came through and threw their hats into the ring. That included Steve Way, Ant Clark and Jacek Cieluszecki.

Jacek Cieluszecki starts the Broadstone Quarter
Jacek Cieluszecki had won the Broadstone Quarter in both of the last two years

There was even an appearance from a certain Mr Graeme Miller, who hasn’t competed in a league race for a number of years now.

Graeme has been plagued by a long running glute issue which confined him to a treadmill for all of the early part of year in 2019. Then he had an operation on his hand over the summer and didn’t really get back training on the road until right at end of the year.

Graeme Miller and Jacek Cieluszecki at the Broadstone Quarter
Graeme Miller (left BAC vest) and JC (right BAC vest) get the show on the road

Even though he didn’t want to race it, Craig Palmer also came forward to say he’d step in if required to help the team out. Even if he’s running at tempo pace or as another training session of some sort, he’s usually quick enough to finish fairly high up anyway and is always prepared to do what’s needed to ensure the team come away with a victory.

Craig Palmer starting the Broadstone Quarter
Craig Palmer was running it as an interval training session

Alex Goulding and Matt du Cros were also in attendance as well, helping to form what, in the end, turned out to be a very strong men’s squad.

Matt du Cros starts the Quarter
Just missing out on the fidelity award for last season, Matt duj Cros was back in league action

For the ladies, Emma Caplan was back in action after a lengthy injury lay-off over the latter part of 2019. She’s been having trouble with her knee and, following an MRI scan, found out she’s got patella tendinopathy. It seems to be a bit of lottery in the sense that some times it is fine and other times it flares up, so she has to manage it carefully.

The team was also boosted by the edition of Helen O’Neile, who joined towards the end of 2019. She has great pedigree and finished as 3rd lady in her BAC debut at the Wimborne 10 in November just days after signing up.

Also, making her long awaited Bournemouth AC debut was Heather Khoshnevis. Heather raced for Littledown Harriers last season and was often contending for the top prize in her age group. She also runs a training group on Tuesdays and Thursdays which several of the Bournemouth AC members attend.

Jud Kirk starts the Broadstone Quarter
It was Jud Kirk’s fifth consecutive year of racing the Broadstone Quarter

As ever with the league races, the competition was strong. Chris Alborough of Poole AC was a serious contender the way he’s been running of late. His teammate Rob Doubleday was also there, along with Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat RC.

Paul Bullimore from Egdon Heath Harriers was in action as well and the newly formed Twemlow Track Club entered their first season in the league with a host of names that could be potential challengers including Richard Swindlehurst, David Jones and Gareth Alan-Williams.

Dave Parsons starts the Broadstone Quarter
Dave Parsons was back out there again for the new season proving the age is but a number

In the ladies race, last year’s Dorset Road Race League champion Alex Door got back on the horse and began her title defence. Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners would also be a contender, as would Diana Leggott, who runs for Lonely Goat RC.

The Broadstone Quarter route starts and finishes on the Broadway in Broadstone and consists of two laps round a notoriously triangular circuit, with the first lap containing an extra section to make up the distance.

With it being a two-lap course, that of consequently means that the competitors have to tackle the infamous Gravel Hill twice!! A great way to ease them into the new year.

Start of the Broadstone Quarter
The race gets underway and the talented field begin their quarter marathon journey

Running it as part of a longer training run, JC wasn’t looking to go hell for leather. He wanted it to be a strong and solid run and after running to the start from where he lives, he opted not to start too aggressively.

Completing the first lap in 21:38, JC was, at that moment in time, in 5th position. He was feeling pretty good though so decided to up the pace on the second lap.

When he reached Gravel Hill for the second time, he began to chase after Chris Alborough and Ben Renshaw from Bridport Runners who were out front.

Jacek Cieluszecki in the Broadstone Quarter
Jacek begins to chase down race leaders Chris Alborough and Ben Renshaw

On Dunyeats Road, with about half a mile left, Jacek caught Ben from Bridport. He was closing in on Chris as well but the gap proved too big in the end and Chris picked up the win, finishing in a time of 35:45.

On this occasion, JC had to settle for a runner up spot, getting the line in a time of 35:58 but he was happy with his run overall and knows that, had he been racing hard from the outset, it could have been a different story.

For his second lap, JC was actually the fastest man in the field, completing it in 14:20, so that suggests he’s back in pretty good shape again, which is pleasing.

Ben Renshaw took third place in a time of 36:04, ahead of Andy Leggott who was fourth in 36:25. James Bewley of Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC was 5th in 37:24, just in front of unknown under-20, Adne Nesje Hernes, who took 6th place in 37:32.

Rob Doubleday gave Poole AC their second runner over the line, finishing in 7th place in a time of 37:53, with Craig Palmer getting Bournemouth AC their second man over the line to take 8th place in the same time.

Instead of out-and-out racing, Craig decided it would be more beneficial to incorporate a training session into his race, so he did it as two lots of eight minutes, followed by four reps of three minutes, with a bit of recovery in between each rep.

Craig Palmer in the Broadstone Quarter
Even though he was running it as an interval session, Craig still finished in 8th place

For the first eight minutes he ran at a controlled pace of 5:35 minutes per mile. For the second eight minutes he went at 5:45 pace, despite Gravel Hill being part of that meaning he had to work extremely hard on the way up giving him 10th overall on that Strava segment.

Then for the three minute efforts he ran at 5:11 and 5:12 pace for the first two, before a 6:08 which included Gravel Hill and a 5:17 to finish off. He lost three places at the end as he was finishing on a recovery but he’d done what he set out to do so was pleased with the session.

Shortly after Craig had got over the line, the next two Bournemouth AC members arrived, with Ant Clark taking 9th place in a time of 37:58 and Graeme Miller coming in in 10th with a time of 38:11.

They were both excellent runs from two of BAC’s old school thoroughbreads. After a disappointing run at Round the Lakes on Boxing Day, Ant bounced back extremely well, finishing with an average pace of 5:48 minutes per mile, which is not considering two lots of Gravel Hill were included in that.

Ant Clark in the Broadstone Quarter
Ant Clark ran well to finish 9th in 37:58

Graeme’s only real goal was to get round in a faster time than he did in 2018, which was the only other time he’s run the course as it is now. He went out hard and enjoyed running a few miles on Ant’s shoulder before Ant pulled away on the final climb.

With a superb average pace of 5:51 minutes per mile, Graeme managed to eclipse his time from two years ago by nearly two minutes so even judging by his own high standards, that was an excellent run.

Graeme Miller in the Broadstone Quarter
Graeme is back in tremendous form and could well be one to watch in 2020

The Bournemouth AC trio of Craig, Ant and Graeme were followed by a hat trick of Twemlow Track Club recruits in the shape of David Jones, Richard Swindlehurst and Gareth Alan-Williams.

Neil Sexton of Poole Runners had a good run finishing in 14th place with a time of 38:29 before the Egdon Heath Harriers train arrived. Jamie Barrington took 15th place in 38:35 with Bruce Campbell following shortly after to take 16th in 38:42. Paul Bullimore was 18th in 38:49.

Dave Hicks was the third man in for Poole AC, finishing 19th in a time of 38:53 before Egdon Heath had their fourth man over the line when Simon Arthur clocked in at 38:55.

The Dorset Road Race League win for the first fixture was sealed by Bournemouth AC though when Alex Goulding completed the course in a time of 39:09 to take 22nd place.

Alex’s approach to this year’s race was heavily influenced by his memories from the last time he did the Broadstone Quarter back in 2017. That day he started off way too fast, not having been familiar with the course.

Alex Goulding in the Broadstone Quarter
Alex Goulding started off at a steady pace this time to avoid putting himself into difficulty

Careering down Lower Blandford Road at breakneck speed he was thoroughly enjoying the descent and flying past several of the faster runners. His enthusiasm was short lived though as hadn’t appreciated quite how draining it would be running up Gravel Hill.

For the last kilometre that day, he remembers being absolutely exhausted and having no energy left to take on the runners that were zooming past him in the closing stages.

This time he was determined not to make that same mistake. New year, new Alex! His new mantra was to start off slow. “Think of those hills,” he kept telling himself.

Steve Way and Alex Goulding in the Broadstone Quarter
Steve Way and Alex work their way round the testing hilly route

However, he ultimately ended up going slightly too slowly for the majority of the way which left him with a huge surplus of energy as he neared the end of race.

Although a fast effort enabled him to overtake a few of the runners in the final minutes, it wasn’t enough to see him beat his time 2017 time which was 50 seconds quicker. Nevertheless, he had still brought the win home for the team though so that was what mattered most.

Jon Spear and Steve Cook rounded things off for Twemlow Track Club in 23rd and 24th place before Liam Openshaw and Gareth Hale completed the scoring team for Poole AC in 25th and 26th.

Still insisting on his retirement from competitive running, Steve Way paced his friend Tim Jones of Poole Runners round to a sub-40 finish of 39:39, giving him 29th place.

Steve Way in the Broadstone Quarter
Steve was pacing his friend Tim Jones round

Steve crossed the line in 31st place with a timed of 39:43. That was still an average pace of 6:05 though so a fairly decent run on that course. Nathaniel Willmore of Poole Runners was the last man to get in under 40 minutes, finishing in 39:54.

In the ladies’ race, it was Emma Caplan who struck gold, finishing in exactly 41 minutes. Even though it was her slowest ever time in that race, it was nice to pick up the win. Her times over the years she has done have been extremely consistent though, having completed it in 40:51 last year, 40:36 in 2016 and 40:20 in 2012.

Emma Caplan in the Broadstone Quarter
Emma Caplan finished as first lady in dead on 41 minutes

Due to a knee injury, Emma hasn’t been running as much as she’d like recently so it was good that she’s still able to preform at such a high level.

According to an MRI scan, she’s suffering from patellar tendinopathy which has a tendency to flare up from time to time. Whenever it does, she’s restricted to non-impact exercises like swimming, which is a frustration for her.

Juliet Champion of Poole AC finished as second lady, completing the course in 41:24 which put her in 44th place overall. Although she wasn’t feeling the freshest considering it was New Years Day, Helen O’Neile did well to take the prize for third lady.

Helen O'Neile in the Broadstone Quarter
Helen O’Neile was once again third lady over the line

She crossed the line in a time of 42:10, which put her in 53rd place overall. That’s two top three finishes in her first two races for BAC for Helen so a very good start to her new club journey for Helen.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses for Helen though as she did manage to injure her ankle in the race which has given her cause for concern. She’s hoping for a speedy recovery but it’s difficult to tell with these sorts of injuries how long they will last.

She finished one place behind Matt du Cros who took 52nd place in a time of 42:09. That was a 10 second improvement on his time from last year so it was a pretty good run from him.

Matt du Cros in the Broadstone Quarter
Matt du Cros ran slightly faster than he did in the same race last year

Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners was 4th lady in a time of 42:43, which put her in 61st place overall. Diana Leggott arrived at the line in a time of 43:25 to finish as fifth lady and 67th overall. Last year’s champion Alex Door stepped into the new year by finishing as 6th placed female a time of 44:12.

Jud Kirk was almost a minute quicker than the time he posted at last year’s Broadstone Quarter, getting over the line in a time of 45:07, which put him in 93rd place overall.

Usually Jud looks to challenge for top honours in his age category but he’s come to the realisation though that he has a lot of work to do from now onwards if he’s going to get to that level again.

Jud Kirk in the Broadstone Quarter
Jud could only manage fourth place in the male 60-69 category

Andy Clements of Poole AC was a comfortable winner in that catgegory, finishing 34th overall in a phenomenal time of 40:22. Realistically, even getting within a couple of minutes of that would be good for Jud.

Stephen Hogarth, also of Poole AC was second in that category in a time of 44:32 which put him in 78th place overall. Jud had had to settle for fourth on this occasion, behind Andrew Stratton of Egdon Heath Harriers who was 87th overall in 44:56.

Sealing the women’s first division win for Bournemouth AC in her debut run, Heather Khoshnevis got to the line in 48:01, which put her in 140th place overall and made her 18th placed lady.

Heather Khoshnevis in the Broadstone Quarter
Heather Khoshnevis finalised the win for the Bournemouth AC ladies team

Heather was also second in her age category to Liz Goldsack of Purbeck Runners who finished in 47:24, putting her in 126th place overall.

It was the 10th time Heather has done the race in the last 11 years and that was her fastest time since 2011 so that was a magnificent performance from her. She thinks it must be down to the power of the coveted yellow and blue vest.

Heather Khoshnevis enjoying the Broadstone Quarter
Heather shares a laugh with Sarah Swift who was race director but also competed

After a difficult season last year, it was great for the Bournemouth AC ladies to open with a win in the first fixture and this will hopefully prove a stringboard for them to achieve much better results in 2020.

Ian White nearly gave up his number in the lead up to the race as he knee had played up in a training run. It was too late to do any transfers though so he decided to just go out easy and see what happened.

At first he was running with the captain of ship, Rich Nelson and they slowly picked their way through the field. It was on the downhill parts where Ian’s knee hurt the most but once that was out the way, he was confident he was going to finish and began to push on a little.

That culminated in a decent sub 50-minute finish as Ian crossed the line in a time of 49:43 to take 159th place. He felt very motivated throughout the run and quantified as some good solid miles as he works toward his goals of a sub-20-minute 5k by the end of the year.

Ian White in the Broadstone Quarter
Ian White was pleased to get in under 50 minutes

Captain Rich wasn’t far behind either, getting to the line in a time of 50:19, which put him in 166th place overall. It was good to see Rich and Ian employing a bit of old fashioned BAC teamwork as well to help push each other on.

This year the pressure will be eased off a little on Rich as Tom Craggs has taken on a coaching role within the road runners division of the club and is running some of the Tuesday night sessions. That should free up a bit more time for Rich who often struggles to juggle work time and family life with all the duties he has to do for the club.

Rich Nelson and Ian White in the Broadstone Quarter
Rich Nelson and Ian White worked together to try and claw their way up the field

With no David Cartwright there, Ian Graham thought he had a golden opportunity to take the 70+ category. As always though, another V70 popped up to deprive Ian of that accolade. That was Jim Brumfield of Egdon Heath Harriers, who Ian hadn’t seen for ages.

Jim finished in a time of 52:17, putting him in 190th place. Ian came in in a time of 53:06 which put him in 204th position overall. Ian was still quite happy with his time though, even though he missed out on the prize.

Ian Graham in the Broadstone Quarter
Ian Graham’s hopes of a 70+ prize were foiled by an unexpected adversary

Next in for BAC, it was the one and only Louise Price, who crossed the line in 53:49. That put her in 215th place overall and she was 38th lady and 9th in the female 50-59 category.

Although it wasn’t her fastest time at the Broadstone Quarter, it was still a fairly decent run from Lou’s perspective and she was glad to be able to get through it without any niggles.

Louise Price in the Broadstone Quarter
Louise Price having a bit of fun. Who says Bournemouth AC members take themselves too seriously?

Finishing in 232nd place, Paul Whitty was next over the line in a BAC vest. He completed the course in a time of 55:02 which put him in 36th place in the male 50-59 age category.

After she’d been struggling with a hip injury, Helen Ambrosen initially didn’t think she’d be able to run. The day before though, she decided to give it a go and planned on running the first lap steadily to see how it went.

Fortunately, everything seemed fine so she began to up the work rate on the second lap and finished the race well. Crossing the line in a time of 57:28, Helen finished in 260th place overall and was 63rd lady and 2nd in the Female 60-69 category.

Helen Ambrosen in the Broadstone Quarter
Helen Ambrosen on her way toward a second female 60-69 placing

First place in that category went to Caron Stevens of Royal Manor of Portland who got over the line in 56:18, putting her in 253rd place overall.

It was the fifth consecutive year Helen had done the Broadstone Quarter and she enjoyed it and found it to be a great start to 2020. She was pleased to see her teammates doing so well as well and picking in the win in the women’s race.

The new year started very well for Sam White as she nailed down a new quarter marathon PB, arriving at the finish in a time of 58:17, which put her in 274th place overall. She was 66th lady out of 156 and was 14th in the female 50-59 category.

Although she found it to be a challenging route, Sam settled into a good stead pace and managed to hold on and still managed to find the strength for her trademark Samantha sprint finish.

Sam White in the Broadstone Quarter
Sam White heads toward a new quarter marathon distance PB of 58:17

The last Bournemouth AC member in, but by no means the least, was Davey Boy Parsons, who got over the line in 1:00:35. That put him in 298th place overall and 9th in the male 70+ category.

Before the race started, Dave wasn’t feeling too well and it was so hot in the gym where the numbers were distributed that he felt like he was going to faint.

Once he got going though, he felt a little better and was having a good little ding-dong with Ade Holloway of Wimborne throughout the race. In the end Ade, just managed to the better of Dave, outgunning him in a ferocious sprint finish.

Dave Parsons in the Broadstone Quarter
Although he wasn’t feeling great at first, Dave Parsons soon got into the swing of things

It was certainly a great way to start the new season for Bournemouth AC, with both a men’s team win and women’s team win. One could even be so bold as to say, they’ve started as they mean to go on.

After the race, the prizes were dished out and then the trophies for the 2019 season were handed out. The ceremony was compered very well by BAC’s very own Jon Sharkey and Steve Way was the celebrity guest who handed out the prizes. They both brought a nice light-hearted and humorous flavour to the proceedings.

Perhaps it will be both the Bournemouth AC men’s and women’s teams who are up there collecting their prizes on New Year’s Day 2021. It’s going to be an intriguing and enthralling season ahead, that much is certain.

Peter Clarke and Steve Way presenting DRRL and County Champ awards
Peter Clarke and Steve Way presented the 2019 DRRL and County Championship awards










Toby Chapman boxing clever in Clevedon 4-miler

Toby Chapman reaches the top of a testing hill in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
Toby Chapman reaches the top of a testing hill in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race

In keeping with tradition, Toby Chapman was back at his parents’ place for Christmas which gave him the opportunity to take part in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race for 2019.

The Clevedon Boxing Day Race is organised by Clevedon Athletic Club and consists of quite an undulating 4-mile route with a fairly testing ascent starting right near the end of the second mile.

It has something of a festive feel to it though since it is the holiday season and usually attracts plenty of runners who dress up an the appropriate Christmas related attire, including Santa outfits, elf and reindeer costumes.

Despite that though, the event tends to attract a high quality field, with plenty of top talent battling it out at the front of the field. The wet conditions didn’t seem to have dampened the spirits of the competitors as they lined up in the start area.

Toby opened with a 5:17 first mile before the inclines began to come into play for the second mile. He went through that in 5:36 before hitting the toughest climb on the route.

Toby Chapman at the start of the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
As always with the Clevedon Boxing Race, the field was brimming with talent giving Toby some good competition

Completing the third mile in 5:53, it was then onto the mostly downhill fourth mile leading to the finish. Managing to find enough left in the tank for a strong sprint finish, Toby polished off the last mile in a super quick 5:08 which got him to the finish line in 21:41.6.

That was just enough to net him 18th place ahead of William Cheek of North Somerset AC. It wasn’t quite as quick as he’d run in previous years but it was still a decent performance from Toby, with his average pace for the run coming in at 5:29.

In last year’s race he crossed the line in 8th place, clocking a time of 20:44.6 and the previous year (2017) he was 11th in a time of 20:48.9.

In the 2019 edition there were a total of 972 participants, which is a good turn out for a Boxing Day event. The race was won by Felix McGrath of Bristol & West AC in a time of 19:34.1.

He was followed by his Bristol & West teammate Andrew Chambers who finished in 19:45.9. James Rodgers of North Somerset AC prevented Bristol & West from securing a one, two, three, taking third place in 20:18.4.

Joe Conners of Bristol & West was 4th in 20:22.3, just edging out Alex Crossland of Clevedon AC who went over the line in 20:22.8.

Emma Pallant of Aldershot, Farham & District was 1st female in a time of 21:50.2 which put her in 22nd place overall. She narrowly fended off the challenge from Stephanie Barnes of Bristol & West AC who was second lady in 21:59.0 and Jenny Spink, also of Bristol & West, who was third lady in 22:02.3.

Toby will hopefully be back in action for the next fixture in the Dorset Road Race League which is the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon. He has a great record there, finishing second to Steve Way last year and winning the race in 2018 and 2016.

Toby Chapman digs in in the Clevedon Boxing Day Race
Toby digs and and grinds his way up the steep slope