Bournemouth AC team for road race

Bournemouth AC members came out in force for the Virtual National Road Relay Championships with everyone recording the best 5k effort they could on an individual basis

It’s a sign of the times when a relay race has to be run solo. In fact, to be fair, it’s probably never happened before. But unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and alternatives to the conventional customs applied to all aspects of life are needing to be found.

Usually of course, a relay race is synonymous with team ethic, principally the passing of the baton from one team member to another. In this particular event though, there was none of that. In fact, most team members never actually even saw each other.

The National Road Relays were originally scheduled to take place on the weekend of 4th April at Sutton Park in Birmingham. Due to the current lockdown situation, that was obviously not going to happen.

Instead of just cancelling the event or postponing it though, the race organisers decided to look for another way and thus, they set up the Virtual National Road Relay Championships.

The premise behind it was that running clubs set up a team and then each club member who signs up for the race is then eligible to represent the team.

Because of the new restrictions of social gatherings and social distancing rules, each team member would simply have to run their 5k leg, on their own, and record the activity as evidence.

The activity would then need to be uploaded to Strava and then submitted via the Open Track website, where it could then be officially verified and added to the results.

Over the past few seasons Bournemouth AC have been quite lapse in getting teams together for the National Road Relay Championships and other similar events that attract some of the highest calibre athletes.

This was one that they really could get their teeth into though and it didn’t really require any organisation, transport or funding. All each team member had to do was go out and run a 5k as fast as they possible could in their own back yard.

The idea seemed to appeal to a lot of the BAC members, including many of the club’s faster, more established runners. With a little rallying cry from Craig Palmer on the What’s App group, the troops began to assemble and the team was soon shaping up nicely.

Some of those who had left it late to register for the event had some difficulties as the server appeared to get overloaded but everyone managed to get their entries submitted in the end and the race was on. They now had five days within which to complete their 5k and upload the activity on Open Track.

The process seemed to create quite a buzz on the What’s App group as the banter began and everyone started to get curious about who was going to run when and where. And as the event played out and results began to filter through, the more the excitement built.

The first Bournemouth AC man to get out and record his activity was Stu Nicholas. Although he’d probably say his forte is more marathon running, Stu is a very good all-rounder and regularly comes in as first finisher at Bournemouth parkrun.

Therefore, it was no surprise to see him setting the pace with an excellent benchmark of  17:04. That was an average of 5:31 for the 5k. For most of the BAC runners, it was simply a case of do the run, sync it to Strava and submit it on the website. It wasn’t quite so easy for Stu though.

He had never used Strava before and didn’t even have an account, so he had to create one first and then learn how to sync it with his Garmin and then go through the process of submitting it on the Open Track site.

The technological tasks may have proved more difficult for Stu than the actual run itself but he managed to get it sorted in the end and the Bournemouth AC Road Runners group on Strava had a new member so everyone was a winner.

Stu Nicholas

Stu Nicholas ran his 5k in 17:04 but getting to grips with the technology proved a bigger challenge

A glitch with the website in the last few hours before the entry deadline had caused Rich Brawn, Jacek Cieluszecki and Helen O’Neile to think that they might have missed out on the opportunity to take part in the event.

When the entry list was updated later on though, they all found that they were in and that was a great relief as it would have been a shame for them to miss out when so many of their teammates were getting involved.

As one of Bournemouth AC’s very best runners, the expectations for Jacek were extremely high. Again, he specialises more in longer distance races, often ultramarathons as opposed to shorter, faster ones, but he’s certainly capable of banging out a quick 5k. In fact, he usually gets round Poole parkrun in well under 16 minutes.

Opting for the promenade stretch from Bournemouth to Sandbanks as the location for his Road Relay attempt, Jacek set off fairly early in the morning to avoid the crowds and took advantage of a favourable tailwind to clock a time of 16 minutes on the nose. That put his average pace for the run at 5:08 minuters per mile.

Jacek Cieluszecki

Jacek Cieluszecki completed his 5k in exactly 16 minutes

Other big names were soon dusting off their racing trainers and getting out to do their bit for the team. Craig Palmer had played an important role in galvanising the squad together for the event and despite not firing on all cylinders, he still gave it everything he’s got.

Going through the first mile in 5:06, he left himself a hell of a challenge to try and maintain it he was hurting for the remainder of the run. Knowing it was for the Road Relays was enough to give him the inspiration to dig in and see it out though and he completed his 5k in 16:03. That was an average pace of 5:11.

Craig Palmer

Craig Palmer helped encourage others to get involved and got through his 5k in 16:03

The first BAC lady to get in on the act was Nikki Sandell. It would probably be fair to say that she’s some way off where she would like her form to be at this point in time but she actually surprised herself in her 5k.

Completing the activity in a time of 20:09, with an average pace of 6:29, that was actually a lot better than Nikki had anticipated she would do. She then went on to win a family jigsaw challenge later that day, so it all came together nicely for her in the end.

Nikki Sandell

Nikki Sandell surprised herself by clocking a time of 20:09

Despite not considering himself as one of Bournemouth AC’s real speed merchants, Andy Gillespie loves the team events and enjoys getting involved in the banter and camaraderie that comes with it.

Managing to produce a time of 22:32, he was fairly pleased with his effort. It was around the sort of time he would usually post at parkrun and that was without anyone to chase so it was a decent result for Andy.

Andy Gillespie

Andy Gillespie’s performance was on a par with his recent parkruns

Also getting his run in on the Saturday, Rich Brawn surmised that it would probably be his best chance of a fast time. He usually has a recovery day on Friday and wanted to do a long run Sunday so it made sense to get it done then.

Since the lockdown started, Rich had found that he was in fact able to manage a reasonable interval session on his own, which is something he had struggled to do before. Also, judging by the pace he’d been going at in that interval session and in some of his tempo runs along the promenade as well, he knew if the conditions were right he could be in for a quick time.

Starting his 5k on the promenade, just down from Hengistbury Head, he made his way along the seafront towards Boscombe. With the wind on his side, Rich quickly settled into a rhythm, going at around 5:30 sort of pace.

Able to maintain a good pace for that first mile, he went through in a time of 5:33. If he could keep that up, he knew he would be setting himself a personal record.

For the second mile he managed to continue on in that vain and as he went through the second mile, his watch again showed 5:33, which he was well pleased with. Now that battle was on but he knew he’d be able to dig deep and hold on in that last mile if he needed to.

During the third mile he started to feel a bit sick as his body wasn’t quite used to going full throttle at that pace for such a prolonged period of time. His legs were still feeling good though and he was confident he’d have enough in the tank to see it through.

Completing the last mile in an even faster time of 5:28, he just had to keep going until he hit the 0.1 marker. Stopping his watch once he could be certain that the 5k was done, he was over the moon when he glanced down at his watch to see the time of 17:10.

That made it Rich’s fastest every 5k time, 22 seconds quicker than his parkrun PB. And was a great result for Rich and he continued his run along the promenade in the midday sunshine knowing he’d produced the best performance he could.

Rich Brawn

Rich Brawn took advantage of a seafront tailwind to record his fastest ever 5k

Then some news began to filter through that sent shockwaves through the Bournemouth AC camp. A new fastest time had been set and it had been done right here in Bournemouth. Grant Sheldon had posted a staggering time of 13:38!!

Even the top BAC runners were stunned at that time and began to consider if it might be worth using that same Cowell Drive loop that Grant used which is right next to the Littledown Centre grounds.

Grant is an international triathlete who has competed for both Scotland and Great Britain. With an average pace of 4:22 for the 5k, there certainly wouldn’t be too many people out there who could match him on the running section, even on the world stage.

No Bournemouth AC member could realistically hope to challenge that time. Not even the great Steve Way, although he has been insisting on his retirement from competitive race action for quite some time now.

Nevertheless, Steve is always willing to do his bit to help the team out and he did just that, completing his 5k in a time of 16:44. He went through the first mile in 5:16 and then followed that up with a 5:18 second mile. It was only on the last mile where his pace dropped a bit to 5:29, but it was still a decent effort from Steve, giving him an average pace of 5:21.

Steve Way

Steve Way showed he’s still got something in the locker, posting a time of 16:44

Not long after she’d transferred to Bournemouth AC as first claim, Nikki Whittaker was making her debut for the club, albeit a very different sort of debut than she perhaps would have envisaged under normal circumstances.

She ran her fastest 5k for quite some time, knocking 50 seconds off her last stab at the distance. Registering a time of 26:32, it was a pleasing first outing for her representing BAC.

Nikki Whittaker

It was Nikki Whittaker’s first time competing for Bournemouth AC and she made a good debut

After keeping a close eye on what sort of times his closest teammates had been producing, it was time for Ant Clark to get his one done.

It would be fair to say that his preparation for the run hadn’t been ideal as his Sunday run, with the 5k incorporated in, would bring him to the end of a 100 mile week. Not only that, but he’d also drank a bottle of wine the night before so may also have been feeling a little worse for wear from that.

Like a true pro though, he went out and delivered an excellent performance, registering a time of 16:32, which was only 9 seconds off his official parkrun PB. That put his average pace for the run at a cracking 5:19.

Ant Clark

A 100 mile week and a bottle of wine the night before proved just the ticket for Ant as he recorded a time of 16:32

Choosing the same stretch of promenade as Rich Brawn, Graeme Miller was the next man to post his activity and after Rich had posted his fastest ever 5k time, Graeme was hoping to do something similar.

In fact, he went even quicker, hammering home a superb time of 17:04, which was actually 14 seconds faster than his parkrun PB of 17:18. It was a fantastic run from Graeme and gave him an average pace of 5:29 for the run.

Graeme was probably one of the most disappointed people out there when the Coronavirus pandemic struck and the London Marathon was cancelled as he was in scintillating form, running better than he has for a number of years.

On that very same seafront course, Ian White and Sam White set off just after Graeme to complete their 5k runs. Starting off with a very quick first mile of 6:31, Ian rolled back the years.

However, over the course of the remaining two thirds of the race the years caught up with him and he paid for his enthusiastic opener. He refused to relent though and kept battling away.

Although he’d slowed down quite significantly by the end, he stopped his watch at 21:11, which was still a pretty decent time. He may have blown every gasket he had but it was quicker than any of his parkruns for the year so far and gave him an average pace of 6:48.

Starting off with a very quick first mile, Ian White had to battle hard over the remainder of the run

The unofficial PBs on that stretch of the promenade hadn’t finished yet though. A very special performance was also on the cards for Sam as well.

She started off with a 7:52 minute mile and held it together, staying under 8 minutes per mile for the remainder of run which gave her a finishing time of 24:39.

The fastest parkrun that she’d ever done was 24:50, which she clocked the weekend before she did the London Marathon last year. She certainly wouldn’t have expected to better that in a 5k run on her own though. But she did and she was rightfully thrilled about it.

Sam White

Sam White ran her fastest 5k ever, posting a time of 24:39

Also heading for the promenade for her effort, Tamzin Petersen continued the trend of impressive displays with an extremely well paced run where she got progressively faster as she went along.

Started off at 7:09 pace, she then upped it to 7 exactly before following it up with a 6:59 before closing it very well to finish with a time of 21:53. It was a time that rivalled some of her fastest ever parkrun performances so she had to pleased with that outcome.

Tamzin Petersen

Tamzin Petersen ran one of her quickest 5k times, getting through it in 21:53

There was still time for two more of the BAC ladies team to take to the promenade for their sessions that morning as well. It was actually supposed to be the day that Estelle Slatford would be running the Paris Marathon.

Of course, that didn’t happen but at she had the Virtual National Road Relays to compete in instead and she threw herself into that instead.

Pacing her run very well, she went through the first mile in 7:30. She then followed that up with a 7:25 for her second mile and then a 7:29 for her third mile.

That saw her reach the 5k distance in a time of 23:12, which was an excellent time for her. With an average pace of 7:27 for the run, she was well pleased with that effort.

Estelle Slatford

Estelle Slatford had a good run, completing her 5k in 23:12

Also in action that morning and once again using the same stretch of promenade for her run, Louise Price completed her 5k in a time of 24:11. Again, it was quite a well paced effort from Lou, going through the first mile in 7:43, the second mile in 7:49 and the third mile in 7:50.

The Virtual National Road Relay was already going well from a Bournemouth AC perspective but it was about to take another massive upturn.

Louise Price

Louise Price registered a time of 24:11 for her 5k

Perhaps turning in the performance of the entire championships for BAC, Stu Fox surprised everyone when he nailed the first sub-16-minute effort .

Heading over the cycle track over at Winton Recreation Ground where he does a lot of his speedwork, Stu recorded a phenonmenal time of 15:48!! And not only that, his splits were remarkably consistent as well, clocking a 5:08, a 5:07 and a 5:04 for his three miles, followed by a very strong sprint finish.

Because Stu doesn’t race a lot, it’s easy to forget how good he actually is, but after this run it was clear to see that he is still very much at the top of game.

Stu Fox

Stu Fox tore round the track at Winton Rec, becoming the first BAC member to go sub 16 minutes

Later on that day, the prospects of the team were given a further boost when Rob Spencer chipped in with a time of 15:49. Rob had opted for the same Hawthorn Road route as Craig Palmer for his effort.

A very lively start to his run saw Rob go through the first mile in 4:56. Considering he hadn’t been training on a very consistent basis over much of the year, he hung on very well, recording a 5:08 for the second mile and 5:13 for the third mile.

With an average pace of 5:05 for the run, it was a mightily impressive display from Rob and turned out to be his second fastest ever 5k. The only time he’d ever gone quicker was at Poole parkrun in July last year when he registered a 15:41.

Rob Spencer

Despite a lack of regular training, Rob Spencer still conjured up a very quick time of 15:49

The next morning it was Joy Wright‘s turn to get out an do her bit for the ladies’ team. The wind was blowing in the other direction that day though so Joy started off from Bournemouth Pier and headed towards Southbourne.

Although she’s been suffering a bit recently due to sciatica, Joy has been keeping her training fairly consistent over the lockdown period and including some 400m focused interval sessions in her schedule.

Completing her 5k in 20:55, it was a decent run from Joy, making her the second fastest lady thus far. Her average minutes per mile pace for the run was 6:42.

Joy Wright

Joy Wright came in with a time of 20:55 which was a good effort from her

Next to get his run in for the men’s team, it was Mitch Griffiths. He did his run along the promenade from Sandbacks to Bournemouth Pier, starting off at 5:28 pace for the first mile.

Clocking in the with a 5:32 for the second mile, he kept it remarkably consistent over the duration of the run, also completing the third mile in 5:32.

That was enough to see him complete the 5k in a superb time of 17:07, which was his second fastest ever attempt at the distance after registering exactly 17 minutes at Poole parkrun in September last year.

Mitch Griffiths

Mitch Griffiths had an excellent run, reaching the 5k distance in 17:07

The next BAC member to give it a shot was Alison Humphrey. She ran an out-and-back style route along Castleman Way. Again, she kept a very good consistent pace for the run, putting in a 6:40 for the first mile, a 6:45 for the second mile and then a 6:40 again for the third mile.

That meant, like Mitch, she’d run her fastest 5k time since September last year, coming with a finishing time of 20:43. She was now the second fasted woman on the team behind Nikki Sandell.

Alison Humphrey

Alison Humphrey clocked a time of 20:43 for her 5k

Some good news in that evening as well when it emerged that the Bournemouth AC Vet Men’s team were currently occupying top stop in the standings.

The Vets teams were made up of six people and the BAC contigent of Stu Fox, JC, Ant Clark, Steve Way, Graeme Miller and Ian White were sitting pretty in first place. Of course, there was still a long way to go, but it was a hell of an achievement to be up there in some a fiercely competitive race.

In the overall standings for the 12 Stage Men’s race, BAC were fairing pretty well as well and they still had Mitch’s result to be added in. Plus Jon Sharkey, Rob McTaggart and Dave Long were still get to submit their activities.

A 16-minute run from each of them would see the team move up the second place in the standings based on the current state of play. That put a bit of pressure on those still with runs remaining to ensure they delivered the goods.

Due a lack of fitness though, Jon Sharkey wasn’t sure whether he would be able to do enough to make the final 12. He’d already one attempt, finishing in 17:37, but he hadn’t submitted it yet so was prepared to give it another go on the last day and see if he could muster up anything better.

There were high hopes for Tag and Disco though and the pressure was certainly on them to see they could put in performances that would be quick enough to elevate the club’s position significantly.

The following afternoon it was time for the talking to be over the action to take place and that was where Tag came into his own. He chose a 2km loop around the Talbot Woods area as the location for his attempt.

Starting out a ferociously quick mile at 4:46 pace, it was clear that he was going out all guns blazing. He then followed that up with a 4:50 for the second mile, leaving himself with just over a mile left before he recorded something very special.

Going through the last mile in 4:54, he then raced through the remainder of the 5k to clock an incredible time of 15 minutes exactly. It was a phenomenal performance that was just what the team needed to elevate them in the 12-stage standings.

Rob McTaggart

Rob McTaggart was the highest placed BAC runner finishing in 15 minutes exactly

Even though it was a terrific run which he could be really satisfied with, it was kind of bittersweet for Tag as he’d come so close to the sub-15. Nevertheless, he certainly could not be unhappy with that result and it was easily the fastest 5k he’d ever produced on the road.

Unfortunately Tag’s run wasn’t the only lightening quick 5k to be submitted that day. There were several others as well, with many going under the 15 minute marker.

That completely changed the rankings on the leader-board, pushing Bournemouth AC down the list quite considerably and making it all the more imperative that Dave recorded a fast time.

Throughout the competition, Ian White had been studying the results intently and he’d worked out that if Disco ran it in 16 minutes, that would put BAC in 13th place. 15 minutes would put them in 11th and in order to get in the team into the top ten, he’d need to clock around 14:15.

That was based on everyone who’s results had been submitted so far tough. There was no way of knowing who else was still to run from any of the clubs and how fast they would go. All that was clear was that there was a lot of pressure of Dave to pull it out the bag.

If they could record a 13th place finish or higher it would have been an amazing result for BAC. Their best performance over recent times was a 10th place in the Southern Relays so this had the potential to be ground breaking for the club.

The Bournemouth AC Vet Women were in 6th place at the time so that was a terrific achievement from them thus far. The six counting for their team were Nikki Sandell, Alison Humphrey, Joy Wright, Estelle Slatford, Louise Price and Sam White.

The next day was the final day for runners to submit their activities and everyone was glued to the scoreboard to see where they would end up in the final standings for each of the various categories.

Leeds had previously been top of the standings in the Men’s 12-Stage rankings and they’d had four men in in under 14:30. As more results came flooding in though, they’d been overtaken by Tonbridge who had 11 runners in with times of 15:10 or faster. That demonstrated how high the standard was at top of the table.

It was looking like BAC could still be on course for a top 20 finish but it was tightly bunched, so Disco knew that when he went out for his run, every second would count.

The Vet Men were in 2nd place at the point in the proceedings and the Vet Women were in 7th so it was all looking very good from a BAC perspective.

Before lockdown started, Tom Craggs had been providing coaching sessions to Bournemouth AC members on the track at Kings Park. This had gone down very well with the Tuesday training nights attracting some big numbers.

On top of that he coaches a number of athletes individually as well. Putting so much time into his coaching though leaves Tom with very little time to work on his own running. He still had a go at the 5k though and managed to produce a time of 18:50, which was 6:04 average pace.

It was still a decent time by normal standards but it wasn’t quite what Tom was hoping for. Since he isn’t a first claim BAC member, he didn’t submit the run in the end anyway, but it was useful for Tom to get an idea of where he’s at with his running and what he needs to do going forward.

Tom Craggs

Tom Craggs has done more coaching than he has running over recent times but he was still prepared to give it a go and see what he could produce

That left just Disco, Sharkey and Helen O’Neile still to post their activities. Dave decided to use the same loop that Grant Sheldon had used for his run, which saw him still at the top of the table in the overall rankings.

Hoping that his GPS might be as generous with the distance as Grant’s had been, Dave set off on his way. Hitting the first mile in 14:42, it looked very promising at that stage.

Unfortunately he wasn’t quite able to maintain that pace though and went through the second mile in exactly 5 minutes and the third mile in 5:09. Once he’d completed the run and stopped his watch the time was 15:28, although he did go through the 5k point in 15:22.

It was still a great time from Dave though and gave him an average pace of 4:57 for the run which was an excellent result. That made him second fastest for the BAC team behind Tag. Unfortunately his GPS did him no favours and he’d ended up going the full distance.

That time from Disco took BAC up to 13th place in the table, which was a great position to be in. If Sharkey could deliver a decent showing as well they could even move further up.

Dave Long

‘Disco’ Dave Long was Bournemouth AC’s second fastest man, completing his 5k in 15:22

Starting off at a pace that would have improved the team’s position in the standings, Sharkey went through the first mile in 5:25. With his current level of fitness though, it proved too difficult to maintain and he registered a 5:32 for the second mile and a 5:36 for the third mile.

Whilst it was still enough to put him level with Rich Brawn on a time of 17:10, it wasn’t quite enough to improve the team’s placings as Rich had previously been the 12th quickest.

With Disco’s result added in, that would have taken the BAC Men to 24th place in the 12-Stage relay. The Vet Men were impressively still in 2nd place and the Vet Women were lying in 10th.

Jon Sharkey

Jon Sharkey gave it his best shot but couldn’t quite do enough to improve the club’s position in the standings

After bailing out in her first attempt due to a stitch, Helen O’Neile did manage to get her 5k done in the end, but not quite at the pace she would have wanted.

Her time of 19:56 would have still made her fastest BAC lady though so that would have still been something to be proud of. With an average pace for the run of 6:25 though, she knew she was capable of a lot faster.

Since the lockdown had been put in place though, Helen had really struggled to find the motivation with her running. She much prefers training in groups and has found it difficult doing sessions by herself.

Unfortunately her time never actually got included in the results though, even though she did email it through the race organiser. It may have been something to the naming of her activity in Strava that meant it couldn’t be counted but either way, it was a disappointing outcome for Helen after she’d worked hard to get the run completed.

Helen O'Neile

Clocking a time of 19:56, Helen O’Neile was disappointed not to be included in the results

The battle for supremacy at the top of the table for the Men’s 12-Stage relay was proving increasingly exciting as clock ticked toward the submission deadline time.

News had broken that morning that Cambridge and Coleridge had overtaken Leeds at the top after Marc Scott had posted the third best time of all, completing his 5k in 13:43.

It was only Adam Hickey’s time of 13:40 and Grant Sheldon’s 13:38 that could top that. As the late submissions came pouring in though, there was still time for the team standings to change.

When the results were all in and they had all been counted and verified, it was in fact Leeds who picked up the win in the Men’s 12-Stage relay. Their cumulative time of 2:57:08 was 36 seconds quicker than Cambridge and Coleridge. For it to be that close after 12 men had raced was quite incredible.

Unbelievably, Leeds had eight runners who got in in under 15 minutes, which was a mightily impressive club performance. All 12 men finished in under 16 minutes. Phil Sesemann and Graham Rush were their top two athletes, both finishing 7th in the overall standings with times of 14:02 apiece.

Cambridge and Coleridge of course had Marc Scott who did finish up in third place overall but they only had five men in in under 15 minutes. Their 12th member came in at 15:22 though so it was a fantastic team result for them.

Having to settle for third place in the end, Tonbridge also finished up with eight men in in under 15 minutes and their 12th runner finished in 15:09 so they were unlikely to find themselves in third place really with a display like that.

Once Dave Long’s result had finally been added, Bournemouth AC were confirmed as having finished in 31st place with a cumulative time of 3:15:49. The 12 scorers were Tag (15:00), Disco (15:28), Stu Fox (15:48), Rob Spencer (15:49), JC (16:00), Craig (16:03), Ant (16:32), Steve (16:44), Graeme (17:04), Stu Nicholas (17:04), Mitch (17:07)  and either Rich or Sharkey, as they both finished in 17:10.

That was actually a very good result for BAC when up against such high quality opposition. The road relays really do give a true insight into just how many top clubs there are out there and the remarkable strength in depth that they have. To be finishing above clubs like Sale Harriers and Herne Hill was a magnificent achievement and the BAC Men could be proud of that.

Herne Hill won both the women’s 12-Stage and 6-Stage relays finishing with a cumulative time of 3:37:09 for the 12-Stage and 1:43:20 for the 6-Stage.

They had both Chloe Tighe (16:44) and Steph McCall (16:58) along with three other women who came in under 17:11. Their top 12 all finished in under 20 minutes. They edged out Thames Valley Harriers (3:47:14) and Tonbridge (3:48:06) in the 12-Stage race and Leeds (1:44:27) and City of Norwich (1:44:43) in the 6-Stage.

The fastest woman overall was Lucy Reid of Tonbridge who ran her leg in 16:19, putting her 3 seconds ahead of Jennifer Walsh of Leeds and British 1500m champion Holly Archer who both posted a time of 16:22.

The Bournemouth AC team finished 75th in the Women’s 6-Stage relay with a combined time of 2:11:03. Their team of six was Nikki Sandell (20:09), Ali (20:43), Joy (20:55), Tamzin (21:53), Estelle (23:12) and Lou (24:11).

If Helen’s time of 19:56 had been added into the mix though that would have put their time at 2:06:48 which would have put them in 60th place.

The BAC Vet Men‘s team did tremendously well to finish in 6th place overall with the team of Stu Fox (15:48), JC (16:00), Ant (16:32), Steve (16:44), Graeme (17:04) and Ian White (21:11). That gave them a combined time of 1:43:19.

The Vet Women‘s team did well as well to take 21st place in the rankings with a cumulative time of 2:13:49. Their team was made up of Nikki Sandell (20:09), Ali (20:43), Joy (20:55), Estelle (23:12), Lou (24:11) and Sam (24:39).

There was also a Mixed Age Graded category as well which saw Bournemouth AC finish in 24th place with an Age Grading of 83:60%. The team for that consisted of: Stu Fox (88.64%),  Tag (87.97%), JC (86.91%), Graeme (85.14%), Steve (84.93%), Ant (84.10%), Disco (83.94%), Craig (82.22%), Rob Spencer (82.19%), Ali (79.76%), Rich (79.29%) and Sharkey (78.20%).

The best thing about the event though wasn’t even anything to do with the results or any individual performances. It was that it brought everyone together as club and as a team.

And in the current climate, the lockdown restrictions that are in place are leaving a lot of people feeling isolated and finding it difficult being unable to socialise with friends, family and team members.

Taking part in the Virtual National Road Relay brought a great buzz around the squad and it also gave the runners a sense of purpose, providing something tangible to aim for as oppose to just training without any short term goals to target.

There is also some hope that, off the back of this event, the team spirit it has generated will transcend to other future road relay competitions later on the year and Bournemouth AC will get back to competing on the big stage, which is exactly where they should be.

Bournemouth AC team line up for a road race

The Virtual National Road Relay Championships generated a fantastic team spirit around the squad despite the fact that they weren’t physically together like they usually would be for a race

The final positionings of each Bournemouth AC member in the overall standings were as follows:
104. Rob McTaggart 15:00
232. Dave Long 15:28
335. Stu Fox 15:48
341. Rob Spencer 15:49
413. Jacek Cieluszecki 16:00
429. Craig Palmer 16:03
616: Ant Clark 16:32
712. Steve Way 16:44
865. Graeme Miller 17:04
865. Stu Nicholas 17:04
886. Mitch Griffiths 17:07
925. Rich Brawn 17:10
925. Jon Sharkey 17:10
2177. Helen O’Neile 19:56
2253. Nikki Sandell 20:09
2454. Ali Humphrey 20:43
2529. Joy Wright 20:55
2617. Ian White 21:11
2819. Tamzin Petersen 21:53
2992. Andy Gillespie 22:32
3129. Estelle Slatford 23:12
3273. Louise Price 24:11
3340. Sam White 24:39
3528. Nikki Whittaker 26:32