There were four Bournemouth AC runners making the journey over to Somerset, looking to make a splash in the Bath Half. They were Simon Hearn, Sanjai Sharma, Matt du Cros and Lucy Ralph. Thought to be one of the flattest, fastest and most competitive half marathons in the south, the Bath Half is a huge event, attracting close to 7,000 runners on this occasion.

For Simon Hearn, it was his main target race for the Autumn and he’d put in a decent block of training in preparation. He ran the Chester Half Marathon in May in exactly 1 hour 28 minutes and recorded a new half marathon PB of 1:27:12 at Cambridge in March. He was hoping he might be able to get close to that sort of time again at Bath but it was difficult to predict how it would go. A lot would depend on how he felt on the day.

For Sanjai Sharma it was a different story. He’d run the London Marathon two weeks before it and had the New York City Marathon a few weeks after so they were really his main target races. His training for London had been a bit slapdash though so the Bath Half would probably serve as quite a good training run to keep him sharp ahead of his trip to New York.

Matt du Cros was has been going from strength to strength recently, recording an excellent 5 mile PB of 28:34 at the Overton 5 and a 10k PB of 36:52 in the Round the Lakes 10k at Poole Park earlier in the season. He’d also managed to hammer his Bournemouth parkrun time down to 17:23 and clocked an overall parkrun PB of 17:10 at Poole in July.

He hadn’t done any half marathon races since before covid times though and is fastest one to date was in fact the Bath Half Marathon back in 2019, which he did in 1 hour 26 minutes. Of course, he had progressed a fair bit since then so he kind of knew he’d beat that time. The question was by how much though? He was thinking that perhaps sub 1:20 could be achievable.

Matt’s sister Lucy’s running had been a little more sporadic over recent months but she’d competed for the club at the May 5 and the Round the Lakes 10k league races earlier in the year. At the Bath Half, she was looking to get round in under two hours.

Getting off to a very steady start, Simon found himself chatting to other runners and feeling very relaxed. He went through the first 5k in 21:06, which put him in 501st place at that stage. He then went on to hit the 10k point in 42:13, making for a very consistently paced first half of the race. He was now in 493rd place.

Reaching the 15k point in 1:03:28, he’d moved up to 457th and again, his last 5k had married up with his first two very closely. He then went through the 20k checkpoint in 1:24:32 and he was now up to 406th in the standings.

That left him with just over a kilometre remaining. Arriving at the finish line in 1:29:15, Simon had taken 344th place overall and was 28th in the M50+ category.

It was another good solid sub 1:30 half marathon for Simon but afterwards he was left thinking that he should perhaps have approached it with a bit more intensity from the get-go, rather than chatting to other runners. There are always learnings from races that you can take with you into the next one and he’ll not doubt adapt his approach accordingly next time.

Simon Hearn ready for the Bath Half

Simon Hearn started off quite conservatively and wasn’t able to crank up the pace enough later on in the race

Mindful of his upcoming marathon, Sanjai wasn’t looking to push too hard and was really aiming for a sub 1:35 time. The course had changed slightly from previous years, with a different start and finish.

Sanjai met a runner he knew from St Albans who said he would run with him, although he was a little quicker and soon ended up pulling away.

Going through the first 5k in 21:49, Sanjai was in 660th place at that stage. He then went on to reach the 10k point in 43:33, moving up to 627th. At the 15k checkpoint, he had climbed to 587th in the rankings, arriving in 1:05:36. Then after that he arrived at the final checkpoint at 20k in 1:27:23, putting him in 535th place.

Crossing the finish line in 1:32:25, Sanjai had come in in 481st place, but he ended up in 528th on chip time. Considering he’d done a marathon two weeks prior though, it was a good result for Sanjai and he’d probably got what he needed out of it anyway in the form of a hard training run. In the M60+ category who finished 14th.

Sanjai Sharma in the Bath Half

The Bath Half was just a test run for Sanjai Sharma ahead of the New York City Marathon

Starting off at the pace he needed to be going at to get in around the 1:20 mark, Matt went through his first few miles at 6:07 pace, reaching the 5k point in 19:07. He was in 187th place at that stage.

On the fifth mile he started the fall off the pace a touch though, dropping to around 6:15 pace. Reaching the 10k point in 38:19, he was now up to 178th place. The seventh mile contained a bit of an incline but he was still able keep to that same pace. Then he dropped a bit in the eighth mile before picking it back up again in the ninth mile.

Reaching 15k in 58:03, he was now in 175th place. From that point on he began to tire though and his splits began slow down, bit by bit as the race went on. At the 20k point he was back in 178th place, arriving in 1:18:19.

By the end he’d gone up to 173rd place, crossing the line in 1:23:05 on chip time, which put him in 180th place overall. It was still a very good half marathon time from Matt and a three minute improvement on his previous best so still a decent effort. He knows he’s capable of better though so it was frustrating for him that it didn’t quite go right on the day. There’s always a next time though and he’ll have plenty of opportunity in the future to set the record straight.

Matt du Cros in the Bath Half

Matt du Cros was unable to maintain his early pace and thus didn’t hit the target he’d set

Starting off at around 8:50 sort of pace for her first few miles, Lucy hit the 5k point in 27:50, which put her in 3,509th place. For the next 5k, she was going at around 9 minutes per mile, leading her to the 10k point in 55:30. That moved her up to 3,413th position.

For her next couple of miles she was back to around 8:54 sort of pace and that brought her to 15k in 1:23:34, putting her in 3,413th place. Her pacing had been incredibly consistent up until then and it stayed that way until the 11th mile, when she began to drop off just a touch.

Reaching the 20k mark in 1:51:38, she’d now moved into 2,961st place in the standings. That left her with just over a kilometre to go. There was a short hill though leading up to the finish which made it quite tough at the end.

Doing her best to power up it though, Lucy made it to the finish line in a chip time of 1:59:04. She come in in 3,022nd place and that put her 3,066th on chip time.

Considering her goal was to complete the course in under two hours, it was mission accomplished for Lucy and she was happy with that. It was certainly a well planned and well paced effort from her and she was 681st female in the overall standings.

Lucy Ralph in the Bath Half

Lucy Ralph ran well to get in in under two hours

Kadar Omar of Birchfield Harriers picked up the win in an outstanding time of 1:05:03, putting him 32 seconds ahead of Jonathan Cornish of Hercules Wimbledon who took 2nd in 1:05:36.

Freddie Hessian of Notts AC was 3rd in 1:05:43, with Sam Costley of Southampton AC the best of the rest in 1:07:32. The fastest female was Atsede Gidey who got round in 1:11:53 which made her 24th fastest person in the race.

Jessica Craig of Herne Hill Harriers was 2nd placed female and 50th fastest overall in a time of 1:14:52. Sophie Wood of Sale Harriers was 3rd female and 58th fastest overall in a time of 1:15:40.

It was perhaps not a day where all the Bournemouth AC runners lived up to their true potential but rather it was one where they’d had experiences and learnings that would be very useful in their future endeavours.