The arrival of Easter was, this year, notorious for more than just it’s religious significance and another chance to devour copious quantities of chocolate eggs.
This Easter presented perhaps an even greater reason to celebrate, with the easing of lockdown restrictions coming into fruition and those first, all important steps on the roadmap towards freedom being taken.
That doesn’t of course mean that life has suddenly returned to anything vaguely resembling normality as we knew it pre-March 2020. But it did rekindle an opportunity for small groups to get together and for family members to meet up with loved ones for the first time since the holiday season.
Crucially, the easing of the lockdown restrictions also marked a return to the calendar for organised amateur sports events – and for the running fraternity – perhaps the greatest reason of all to celebrate this Easter… The resurrection of racing!
Not virtual racing either. Not solo time trials where the only opponent in sight is the clock, along with those extra few inches of lockdown lard that has unwittingly manifested itself due to the absence of club training and meaningful targets.
This was the return of real racing, in the company of real people. Competition as it should be. Vying for position against other like-minded individuals. The buzz of adrenaline as you look across the start line at your impending rivals.
And what better setting to announce that return to race action than Dorney Lake. The very same venue that salvaged marathon hopes for many last October after the quashing of any prospect of a London Marathon for the masses in its usual form.
Active Training World have been leading the way when it comes to organising Covid-secure races throughout the pandemic and once again, they presided over the showdown of the Easter edition of the Dorney Marathon.
The field for this hotly anticipated encounter featured several high profile Dorset-based athletes who had jumped at the chance to dust off their racing shoes and get back into the thick of the action.
Amongst them was Bournemouth AC man Ant Clark, who took to the start line with several of his Twemlow Track Club buddies including Brian Underwood, Jack Galloway and Harry Lauste.
Ant wasn’t planning to do a Spring marathon and only got the entry around three weeks prior to the race on a number transfer. That left him with only a few weeks of more structured training before the event.
Managing to maintain his focus well over the long lockdown months though, Ant had been hitting top position on the mileage stats for the BAC Strava group on a regular basis since the turn of the year.
Thus it was clear he would be in good shape should any races actually make it past the red tape. He’d also done two 26.2 miles runs – one in January and one in February – so he knew he’d be okay.
Ant’s plan on the day was to target to London Marathon championship qualifying time for 2022 which was sub 2:40. He knew Brian and Jack were going for sub 2:35 so they ran together and after the first 5k, Ant was happy that he could hold that pace.
From then on he just kept it going as evenly as possible without attempting any heroics. It turned out to be a fine display of endurance excellence from Ant.
With an average pace of 5:48 minutes per mile, Ant cruised to a tremendous 2:33:25 finishing time. That was enough to see him end the day as the fastest M40 in the entire field, which was quite an accolade given the high standard of competition he was up against.
It also saw him take an impressive 9thplace in the overall standings out of the 465 runners who took part. It was certainly a memorable return to race action for Ant and another notable achievement to add to his vast array of past glories.
In fact, Ant had come in just ahead of his Twemlow Track Club compatriot Brian Underwood who nailed down a terrific new marathon PB of 2:33:36.
The quickest Dorset-based runner of the pack though was Harry Lauste who finished 5th overall, securing a formidable time of 2:28:58.
Also bagging himself a new marathon PB, Jack Galloway came in 12th place overall, registering a magnificent time of 2:34:12.
Steve Cook capped off a marvelous day for the TTC affiliated runners by sealing the position of top M50 in the rankings with his time of 2:43:34. That was an 8-minute PB for him and put him 45th in the overall standings.
Matt Papa of Egdon Heath Harriers took 19th place with a superb time of 2:37:13 and Wimborne AC’s Damian Huntingford also secured a cracking new marathon PB with his time of 2:47:24, putting him in 63rd place.
Another Dorset runner to register a fabulous new PB was Bruce Campbell of Egdon Heath Harriers, who clocked in at 2:50:09 to take 78th place overall.
Competing a clean sweep for Dorset-based runners in the age category standings, Graham Moyse of Poole Runnners took the top M60 place, finishing in a time of 3:16:39.
For Ant, although his time was quicker than he’d originally planned, it felt comfortable so that’s a great place to build from going forward. He’ll no doubt be looking to find some more races now to capitalise on that over the coming months.
There is no feeling quite like that of being out there racing with others though, as Ant will certainly testify. He’s had some magical moments throughout his running days for both club and country.
The hope is that with the Dorney Lake Marathon having gone ahead successfully, many more races will be able to follow suit in the coming weeks and months. Then, in the not too distant future, the running scene could potentially resemble something similar to what it was before the invasion of Covid-19.
Off the back of their heroics in the first round of the EA Virtual Road Relay, the Bournemouth AC took their rightful place amongst the top 50 clubs in the country for the second round of the 5-mile competition.
This time round the remaining teams were set to battle it out for the honour of representing England in the international round where they would square off against the top clubs from the other home nations.
With the stakes as high as they were, the yellow and blues knew they would have to pull all the stops out to have any chance of contending for the top position.
In the previous round it was Josh King’s astonishing offering of 24:40 that really ignited the interest amongst the BAC ranks.
Georgia Wood and Emma Caplan then also turned in very solid times to give the team real hope that they could mount a serious challenge.
Rob Spencer followed that up by delivering the second sub-25-minute performance for the round and a very high position in the standings began to look on the cards.
It certainly demonstrated the tremendous strength in depth that the club has, with a number of runners well capable of mixing it with the very best on the club road race circuit.
Bournemouth AC’s very own coach extraordinaire Tom Craggs was again on hand to marshal the proceedings in the second round of the competition.
A slight change in the rules from the previous round meant that this time point to point ones were allowed and there would be no need to go for an out-and-back, ending up in similar place to where you started.
That news came as a welcome bonus to some of the BAC members as it meant that, even if conditions were windy, they would still be able to utilize the promenade without having to worry about encountering a speed-killing headwind in one direction.
Originally all runs had to be performed between Wednesday 10th and Sunday 14th February but due to the forecast of some pretty rough weather over the course of that weekend it was extended by a week to give runners two potential weekends to record their activity.
Getting the ball rolling for the BAC squad this time round it was Adrian Townsend. He was keen to test his legs by having a crack at the 5-mile distance and use it to assess where his fitness is at.
He found it pretty tough with the windy conditions on the prom but didn’t blow up and managed to keep a good, steady pace going through to the end.
Completing the run in a time of 33:12, he was fairly pleased with his time, all things considered.
That weekend the weather had taken a real turn for the worse with gale force winds descending upon the promenade which made running conditions extremely tricky.
In fact, the headwind was so fierce that even Josh Cole struggled to blast through it at anything like the sort of pace he would usually expect to be running at in a 5-mile race.
He hadn’t realised that point to point runs were allowed this time round and had gone for an out-and-back route starting out from Sandbanks Beach.
Once he hit the half way point and turned though he was able to pick up speed and get back to something closer to the pace he would have envisaged.
His finishing time of 28:46 very much reflected the difficult weather conditions he was faced with but he was still able to take the value of it as a training exercise.
It was a different story for Georgia Wood though. In spite of the conditions, she still managed to produce a superb run to clock a time of 29:18. That was a marked improvement on her first round effort of 30:56, shaving off a 1 minute and 38 seconds.
Using the same lapped circuit near Salisbury Cathedral that he’d used to record his magnificent first round effort, Harry Smith was looking to emulate his previous performance.
That was always going to be a tough ask though after his run of 25:29 had seen him hit the dizzy heights of 35th position overall.
This time he encountered a couple of groups of people on route that forced him to take a few detours. He soon got back on track though and it turned out to be another high quality display from him.
Completing the distance in a time of 25:48, Harry had certainly proved that he can produce on a consistent basis which bodes very well for him and for the club.
Coming off the back a few high mileage weeks which had seen her placing quite high on the BAC Strava leaderboard for distance, Helen Ambrosen was feeling in good shape for her second round effort.
This time she was more used to the route she was using, along the undulating country roads of Wimborne. The weather was better on the day as well, being sunny and warmer than it had been when she did her first round run.
Registering a terrific time of 39:53, Helen had managed to improve her average mile pace from 8:15 in the first round to 7:58 in the second round, so that was a decent uplift.
The thoroughly enjoyed doing the event and found it a welcome motivator during these lagging lockdown months. She appreciated the opportunity to put in a race effort and to represent the club as well.
Usually much more used to the rigors of a steady paced endurance run or a crazily long ultramarathon race, Linn Erixon Sahlström was very much out of her comfort zone when tackling a fast five miler.
In fact the only form of speedwork she’d done recently had been on a treadmill so this was always going to be an interesting challenge but one that she was very much relishing.
Completing her run a time of 36:21, Linn was pleased with her time, despite not being up there with the lead contenders like she usually is when she does her ultras.
She still finds it baffling how much harder it is to her running a shorter, faster race, where the onus is on speed rather than endurance.
Another BAC member who is far more adept in longer, endurance based race environments, was Andy Gillespie. After missing out on taking part in the previous round due to a hamstring pull, Andy was keen to involved this time round.
Having recently competed in the Newquay Virtual 10k in aid of the Cornwall Air Ambulance, Andy had taken a good confidence boost out of that race, finishing 27th out of 317. That had helped convinced him to go for it in the 5 mile relay.
After a few practice runs, Andy managed to sort out a route that was relatively flat, although he did still have to go out and back a few times and it wasn’t entirely traffic free.
Although he found it difficult to run at his fastest on his own, Andy felt like he did alright. There was only really one moment of contention when a driver decided to perform a three point turn right in front of him, causing him to have to zigzag around the car.
Finishing up with a time of 39:12, Andy enjoyed the event and found it nice to feel part of the team. It certainly shook up his training as well and served as a good motivator for him to get out and run, even when the weather wasn’t so nice.
Andy is currently on furlough and as a consequence, has set himself the target of running every day to ensure that he doesn’t get lazy. He was in the line up for the Jurassic Coast Challenge but that has just been cancelled, disappointingly for Andy given that he is currently at his fittest. In his current streak of consecutive days running, Andy has racked up 500 miles.
Not really having the opportunity to run with any consistency due to home schooling and work, Chris O’Brien has just had to fit running in around everything else.
He enjoyed testing himself in the 5 mile relay though and came away with a time of 32:56 which was a fairly pleasing result for him, given the circumstances.
Hoping to eclipse his time from the previous round, Rich Brawn had worked very hard in training over the course of the month in preparation for his second round attempt.
On the first weekend, Rich hadn’t realised that the rules had changed and he been on the promenade on the day when it was gale force winds. As soon as he’d turned round and started running into the wind, his pace dropped dramatically and he’d ended up finishing in a time well over 30 minutes.
The following weekend he decided to head down towards the Hengistbury Head end of the promenade and do a point to point run from there, all out.
After completing his first mile at 5:27 pace, he could tell he was potentially on for a new best time. Although, he wasn’t quite able to maintain that pace, he did manage to complete the next few miles at roughly 5:40 pace which had put him well on target for a new best time.
Unfortunately though, on the last mile, disaster struck. There were so many people on the promenade, it had become difficult to negotiate a clear route through. He was always worried about crashing in to something or someone.
Getting up to about the 4.3 mark, he was still powering along at a very good pace. Then all of a sudden a bit dog stepped right in front of him. It was far too late for Rich to change direction and he was sent flying to the floor.
As he hit the deck he was conscious that he couldn’t afford to lose much time and had to get straight back up and continue. Seeing that his pace had only gone down by 5 seconds for that mile, he decided to continue and go for broke.
Completing the run in a time of 28:18, it was another good improvement for Rich on his time in the previous rounds. In fact, it was 29 seconds quicker, which Rich was super pleased about. The hard work he’d put in appeared to have paid off.
On the final day of the competition Helen O’Neile hit the prom for her attempt. Unfortunately, she didn’t have one of her better days and struggled to match the time that she’d produced in the previous round.
She was going well after the first couple of miles and was still on course for a good time at the end of the third mile. Once she turned into the wind though it became a lot tougher and her pace dropped significantly over the last couple of miles.
Her moving time of 30:49 was actually very similar to what she did last time but her elapsed time was what it had to go down as and that was 31:43.
The final Bournemouth AC member to post his run was Barry Dolman. Barry is relatively new to running and had never done a 5 mile race before. In fact, he’d only ever done one official race before and that was the Weymouth 10k on the last weekend before lockdown in March last year.
He was nervous going into it and was unsure what sort of performance he’d be able to produce. He was expecting to be around the 32 minute mark.
Completing the 10k race he did in 42 minutes, that gave him a rough benchmark. The conditions weren’t great on the day though and the course started off in a hilly park so it wasn’t ideal for a quick time.
Around four months ago he’d participated in the club 5k time trials where he’d been getting round in just over 19 minutes so he knew he was in pretty good shape then.
It turned out his form was still there as well when he hit the road for his 5 mile effort and he managed to get round in a time of 30:16 which got him in as fourth male scorer for the team.
Impressively, with that run he went through 5k in 18:36 which would have been a PB for him. His best official 5k time was 18:38 which he recorded at Crissy Field parkrun in San Fransisco.
Barry has designs on recording a sub 40 minute 10k, a sub 1:30 half marathon and a sub 3 hour marathon and judging by the performance he produced here, he’s on the right track.
After going so close as well, he’d very much like to add a sub 30 minute 5 miler to the list as well and that should certainly be an achievable target in the near future.
Making up the final team of four men and four women, it was; Harry Smith who finished 76th overall with his time of 25:48, Rich Brawn who was 262nd overall with his time of 28:18, Josh Cole who was 311th overall with his time of 28:46, and Barry Dolman who was 433rd overall and 13th in the M50 category with his time of 30:16.
Then, taking 4th place in the W40 category and 368th overall it was Georgia Wood. Placing 4th in the W45 category, Emma Caplan‘s time of 30:45 put her in 466th overall. Helen O’Neile was 542nd with her time of 31:43. And finally, making her foray into short distance running worthwhile, Linn Erixon Sahlstrom was 4th scorer in and 856th overall with her time of 36:21.
Chris O’Brien was 654th overall with his time of 32:56 and Adrian Townsend was 676th and 12th in the M55 category with his time of 33:12.
Andy Gillespie was 936th with his time of 39:12 and he was 12th in the M60 category. Helen Ambrosen took 3rd place in the W60 category and 946th overall with her time of 39:53.
With a total combined time for their fastest four men and fastest four women of 4:01:15, Bournemouth AC finished 34th in the final standings for the relay.
With so many of their star names not in action for various reasons, it was a commendable result for the team and those who did take part did give it their best shot.
In terms of the individual honors, Phil Norman of Woodford Green AC was the fastest man, completing his 5-mile effort in an astonishing 23:02.
Jonathan Escalante-Phillips of Cambridge & Coleridge was 2nd, recording a time of 23:40 for his run. Then it was George Dollner of Guildford & Godalming coming in with a time of 23:52.
Kieran Clements of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and Anthony Johnson of Kent AC were joint 4th, both submitting a time of 23:58 and they were the only other athletes to boast a sub-24-minute time.
As for the club relay, the coveted prize of representing England in the international round went to Wirral AC. Their total time for their fastest four men and fastest four women was a very impressive 3:32:39.
They had TJ Jones who was 25th overall in a time of 24:46, Ethan Brady-Jones who was 31st in 24:51, William Strickley who was 54th in 25:23 and Daniel Hayes who was 113th in 26:28.
A very strong female line up contributed massively to their success, with Sophie Tarver finishing in 27:11, Keira Brady-Jones coming in at 27:43, Emily Kearney completing hers in 27:43 and Ellen Mary Kearney recording a time of 28:34.
That meant City of Norwich AC had to settle for 2nd place with their total combined time of 3:33:00. All four of their men were under 25 minutes, including Logan Smith who was 6th overall in a time of 24:05.
They narrowly edged out Aldershot, Farnham & District who finished with a cumulative time of 3:33:09. Then it was Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow in 4th place with a total combined time of 3:34:25.
Whilst it was disappointing for Bournemouth AC not to be up there battling it out for the top positions, they can take heart from a very good display in the first round when they took 6th place overall.
There was also a fantastic display from the squad in the Virtual National Road Relays for 5k where their Men’s 12 Stage team finished 31st overall. The BAC vet men’s team did extremely well to finish 6th in the standings in that one as well.
What these virtual road relay events showed though was that if the Bournemouth AC squad rallies together and focuses on a particular competition, they can be a match for some of the top clubs in the country.
That has got to bode well for when actual races return and events like the EA road relays do take place. The buzz of excitement and team spirit generated in the virtual events will certainly be reason for optimism and there’s every chance that Bournemouth AC could be back on the map in the not too distant future.
It came as a welcome distraction from all the doom and gloom surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic when news got around that England Athletics would be hosting a Virtual Road Relay Competition, pitting clubs up and down the country against each other over a five mile distance.
The premise was that any number of runners could compete for their respective clubs with the fast four men and and fastest four women counting towards the overall time for the club.
The first round was the qualifying round, where the top 50 clubs would then progress to round two where they would square off for the right to represent England in an international round against the top teams from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The event was always going to feature some Bournemouth AC involvement with coach Tom Craggs heading up the proceedings for England Athletics.
It was just a question of how much interest it would garner around the BAC camp, how many members would be prepared to step up to the plait and what kind of performances would they produce?
The rules stated that it had to be either and out and back, where you finish in a similar place to where you started, or a looped route with each loop over 1 kilometre in distance, which meant it couldn’t be done on the track.
That alleviated most of the ways an athlete could gain an unfair advantage, for instance by running with a following wind the whole way or on a downhill trajectory.
Having heard about his Dad’s club Chiltern Harriers looking to assemble quite a strong team for the event, Rich Brawn was keen to try to drum up some enthusiasm among his Bournemouth AC counterparts.
Hoping to get the ball rolling, he went out on the first weekend of January and put in his preliminary attempt, clocking a time of 29:17. Since he hadn’t done any speed-work over the Christmas period, he wasn’t really sure how it would go so he was delighted with that result.
Having said that though, he had been apprehensive about pushing the pace too much through fear of blowing up so he felt he still had a quicker time in him and was tempted to give it another go the weekend after.
One aspect that did help massively that weekend though was that there was very little wind. That presented athletes with a rare opportunity to reach their full potential in an out and back along the prom.
There a few notable absentees who would otherwise have been candidates for a place in the final team. That included Craig Palmer and Dave Long who are both recovering from injury.
Jasper Todd has been out of action since November and Stu Fox had busted his foot whilst out running the day after New Year’s Day. Stu Nicholas was also out of the equation as he was self isolating after contracting Covid-19.
Luckily Bournemouth AC has tremendous strength in depth at the moment and despite having some of their top names sidelined there were still plenty of others waiting in the wings for their chance to shine.
Even though he wasn’t going to run it, Craig Palmer did his bit to gee up the troops. He reached out to all the squirrels, offering to give them Corona as a prize for the top performers. The beer that is – not the virus!
The first man to step up and answer the call was Josh King and he laid down the gauntlet with a stunning display, completing his run in a sensational time of 24:40.
Using the Cowell Drive loop made famous by Grant Sheldon’s amazing 13:38 in the 5k National Road Relay Championships, Josh had put in a performance that really dropped some jaws.
It also served to inspire some of his BAC teammates and generate a good buzz around the squad, instilling some belief that perhaps they could challenge for the top placings.
It wasn’t just the BAC men who had been coaxed into getting involved either. Georgia Wood had done her bit to round up the women and assemble a competitive bunch. That would also prove crucial for the overall success of the team.
The first woman to get out and give it a go was Lisa Elmore. Lisa was keen to make her contribution to the team despite cold and foggy conditions.
Finding her rhythm quite quickly, she managed to maintain focus well throughout the run, keeping a very good consistent pace. Finishing in a time of 35:31, she had put down a very good benchmark for the rest of the ladies to aspire to.
That same afternoon, Holly Collier posted her offering as well. She hadn’t really been training at all towards the end of year due to lack of motivation and had only just started again from the turn of the year.
She could already feel her fitness starting to come back over the course of the week and most importantly, she’s rediscovered her motivation now.
With a time of 34:37, Holly was certainly a contender to be one of top four women on the team. Given the circumstances, it was a pleasing attempt from her, although some way down on what she’s capable of at her best.
Taking to the promenade and heading from Boscombe Pier to Branksome Dene Chine Beach and back, Ollie James recording a magnificent time of 27:27.
His pacing throughout the run was remarkable, clocking the first two miles at 5:28 pace and the next three at 5:30 pace, proving just how strong he’s feeling at the moment.
Also heading down to Boscombe Pier and taking a similar out and back route to Ollie, Georgia Wood and Emma Caplan had decided to run together, hoping to spur each other on.
They did just that and both recorded a terrific time, with Emma finishing in 30:53, giving her an average pace of 6:10 minutes per mile, and Georgia coming in just three seconds after at 30:56. They had given the team a massive boost with that result.
Since she usually finds virtual races much harder than normal ones, Emma was fairly satisfied with her attempt and felt it was a fair representation of her current level of fitness.
Living out in Wimborne, Helen Ambrosen was quite restricted on where she could go in order to get a flattish route. With the help of her partner Mark, she did manage to find one in the end at Gaunts Common, which is where the Wimborne 20 takes place.
Enjoying the opportunity to put in a real race effort, Helen had a good strong run, finishing in a time of 41:21.
Managing a good progressive effort for his run, Ian White started off at 8:20 pace for the first mile and finished up at 7:34 pace for the last mile. That led him to a finishing time of 39:54.
It was a good sign for him that things might be now moving in the right direction, although the closing of the golf courses might perhaps have something to do with that!
Next to go was a major contender for a place in the team as one of the fastest four men in the shape of Rob McTaggart. Like Josh King before him, Tag headed over to the Cowell Drive loop for his effort.
Completing his run a time of 26:10, it was certainly a result that would have pleased most athletes on the roster. Tag wasn’t overly happy with it though as he knew that he was capable of much quicker.
Some of the Northern clubs had contacted Tom to report that they were having difficulties doing their runs due snow. As a consequence, it was agreed that the deadline would be extended by a few days to give them more chance to get a run in.
That meant that Tag would have the opportunity, should he need to, to give it another go and try and post a faster time.
The first runner to record a sub-24-minute time was Phil Sesemann of Blackheath and Bromley Harriers. Unfortunately he had done his run on the track though, which left Tom with no option but to disqualify him.
It was stated very clearly in the rules though that track runs wouldn’t be permitted and also, a lap of the track does not comply with the minimum 1k distance for a loop either.
That meant Andy Coley-Maud was still in the lead with his time of 24:09, although he had run exactly 8k, which equates to slightly less than 5 miles.
It wasn’t long before news of another Bournemouth AC man to go sub-25-minutes emerged. That was none another than the mighty Rob Spencer who had posted a staggeringly quick time of 24:47.
All but one of the miles in his run were under 5 minute mile pace and it was certainly an impressive indictment of where he’s at right now. Of course, with no races around, it can be difficult for runners to know exactly what they’re capable of at the current moment in time so Rob was extremely pleased with this outcome.
That put him in 11th place, just behind Josh King at that point in the proceedings and in such a high standard field, that was quite some achievement. Of course, there was still plenty time for other runners to take to the stage though.
That boosted Bournemouth AC’s position in the standings, moving them up to 8th place and they still had some top class runners yet to submit their activities.
Starting her attempt close to Bournemouth Pier and heading along to Sandbanks and back, Tamzin Petersen had a good run to clock a time of 37:27.
Another brilliant sub-26-minute run was soon to go up on the board when Harry Smith delivered an outstanding performance to register a time of 25:29.
That catapulted him into a high position in the overall standings and was a superb outcome considering he’d been really busy at work in the week leading up to it and had plenty of Zwift intervals in his legs as well.
Harry works as a vet and he’d also somehow managed to get kicked in the knee cap by a cow that week whilst performing surgery so that didn’t exactly help his course either.
On the day though, his run went smoothly and with an average pace of 5:06 minutes per mile it demonstrated the tremendous pedigree he has and showed that a sub-32-minute 10k is undoubtedly on the cards.
Lockdown life can be awfully dull at times but Estelle Slatford has found a new way to entertain herself and that is by making run routes in the shape of animals on Strava. In fact, she did a recent one in the shape of a dolphin.
For the 5 mile relay though, she went all out and gave it everything she could. Estelle actually prefers the longer distances though and often struggles with the speed over 5k to 10k.
Completing her run in 41:05, Estelle was pleased with her time given the fact that she hasn’t done any interval or speed training of any sort for quite some time.
On his second attempt at the virtual relay, Rich Brawn was looking for some improvement on his time of 29:17 from the previous week. He did exactly the same run, in exactly the same location, with pretty much the same weather conditions as his run from the previous week.
This time he wore his new Next Percenters for the first time though. He was very excited to run in them and was confident he would see some uplift.
Managing to clock each mile slightly faster than on his previous attempt, Rich was over the moon when he stopped his watch to see that he’d registered a time of 28:47.
It was exactly 30 seconds quicker, giving him an average pace of 5:45 minutes per mile. He was very pleased to have knocked that amount of time off in the space of a week.
To really boost their position in the standings though, BAC needed another women to step up to the plait and submit a quick time. The prime candidate to do that was Helen O’Neile.
Although she possesses outstanding natural ability and always tends to train well in the Tuesday night sessions, Helen has been plagued by a long-running Achilles injury that has held her back since the beginning of last year.
It has severely limited the volume of training she’s been able to do. Despite that though, she still has plenty of speed and taking a similar out and back route along the promenade to others before her, she managed an excellent time of 30:45.
That actually took almost five minutes off the total accumulated time for the BAC team thus far and lifted them up to third place overall. It was a truly remarkable position to be in at that point.
Also putting in a decent effort, Alison Humphrey was next to add her name to the scoreboard. She ran her route over at Moors Valley and demonstrated superb consistency with her pacing, despite a slight incline towards the end.
With an average pace of 7:12 minutes per mile, Ali’s time of 36:11 represented a good, solid performance from her.
Aiming for a time of 27 minutes, which would have been around 5:25 minutes per mile pace, Jacek Cieluszecki actually ended up going a fair bit faster than that.
Performing his run on the Baiter Park loop in Poole, JC finished in a superb time of 26:21, giving him an average pace of 5:15 minutes per mile. He had exceeded his own expectations and took his place as fourth male scorer for the team.
For his first attempt, Adam Corbin clocked an excellent time of 28:45. However, he hadn’t read the rules though and didn’t realise he was meant to end up within 500 metres of where he started. Thus, he was forced to give it another go.
That served as a blessing though as this time he managed to improve on his previous attempt, completing the run in even more impressive 28:30.
Given that his best official time for a 5 mile distance was 29:19, that was quite an achievement from Adam and certainly showed that he’s progressing well, despite the lack of racing and club training that the current climate has presented.
Using the run he had posted for the British Masters Athletics Virtual 10k Challenge for South West Vets AC, Julian Oxborough also added his name to the score-sheet. In that run he went through 5 miles in a time of 56:39.
When all was said and done it was Matthew Dickinson of Clapham Chasers who came out on top. He was the only man to register a legitimate sub-24-minute effort. With an average pace of 4:47 minutes per mile, his finishing time was 23:57.
Among the noteworthy Bournemouth AC performances, Josh King finished up in a very impressive 16th place overall with his 24:40 time. Rob Spencer was 18th with his 24:47 effort.
Harry Smith took 35th place in the overall standings with his 25:29 performance. Tag didn’t end up submitting his 26:10 time in the end but if he had he would have been 65th.
Completing the scoring team for the men, JC finished up in 77th place with his time of 26:21. He was also 5th fastest M40, which was a good achievement given the level of competition.
Ollie James was 169th overall with his 27:27 time and that also put him 10th in the Male Under 17 category. Adam Corbin was 285th with his 28:30 time and Rich Brawn took 335th place with his 28:47.
Helen O’Neile was the 32nd fastest in the Senior Women’s category with her time of 30:45 and was 648th overall. Emma Caplan took 2nd place in the W45 category with her time of 30:51 so that was a fantastic result for her. She came in 668th overall.
Georgia Wood claimed 3rd place in the W40 category with her time of 30:56 and that put her 681st. Again, that was a terrific achievement by her.
Holly Collier was of course fourth scorer for the women and she was 132nd in the Senior Women’s category with her time of 34:37.
It had been a very good turnout from a Bournemouth AC perspective and the signs were certainly looking good for their prospects of challenging for the top placings in the next round.
With a total cumulative time of 3 hours 48 minutes and 26 seconds, Bournemouth AC finished up as 6th placed team in the end, which was a remarkable result given the quality of clubs they were up against.
The top team, with a total combined time of 3:41:47 was Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC. They had Daniel Brookling who was 4th overall in a time of 24:19, along with three other men who posted times under 26 minutes. All four of their women scorers were under 31 minutes as well.
Cambridge and Coleridge were 2nd with a total combined time of 3:42:03 and they actually possessed two men who finished in the top ten with Jack Gray taking joint 4th in 24:19 and Jonathan Escalante-Phillips coming 8th in 24:21.
With all four of their women impressively finishing in under 29:40, Wirral AC were the 3rd placed team in the overall standings, registering a cumulative time of 3:42:42.
Shaftesbury Barnet had four men inside 25 minutes, including Kristian Imroth who was 7th in 24:20 and Kieran Clements who was 10th in 24:23. They were the 4th quickest team overall in a combined time of 3:45:20.
Then it was Kent AC who took 5th in a time of 3:45:49, with their line up including Anthony Johnson who was 9th overall in a time of 24:22.
A total of 127 clubs managed to get a team of four men and four women to compete but of course, it was only the top 50 who would progress into the next round.
In a way, the team placings in this round didn’t actually mean that much. It was really just about qualifying. It is in the next round where that becomes all important. The competition will surely be even fiercer then as each team vies for top spot and the honour of representing England in the international round.
Could Bournemouth AC be in with a chance of glory? Who knows? But if every member of the club brings their A-game to the table, with the talent they possess in their ranks, anything is possible.
Here are the final Bournemouth AC results from the Virtual Road Relay Qualifying Round…
Bournemouth AC – 6th place – 3:48:26 16: Josh King (24:40), 18: Rob Spencer (24:47), 35: Harry Smith (25:29), 77: Jacek Cieluszecki (26:21), 648: Helen O’Neile (30:45), 668: Emma Caplan (30:51), 681: Georgia Wood (30:56), 1257: Holly Collier (34:37)
A ferociously fast field had been assembled for the PB5K at Ardingly Showground, providing the competitors with a good prospect of a quick time, being surrounded by so many other high standard athletes.
That was certainly what Rob McTaggart was hoping for anyway when he threw his hat into the ring.
Although it was a tad twisty, the course was pancake flat, making it an ideal surface for a fast time. On the day though the conditions were a bit windy which made it tougher to hit top speed.
The previous weekend Tag had been in 10k action at the Running Grand Prix staged at Goodwood Motor Circuit. Although he finished in 10th place in a time of 33:21, he was actually very disappointed with his run that day.
Back in February he’d completed the Chichester 10k at the same venue in 31:45, so he knew he was capable of better. It just didn’t happen for him on the day though at the Running GP and, although had a decent first couple of miles at around 5:10 pace, he struggled to maintain it after that.
It was onward and upwards for Tag though and the good thing was that he didn’t have to wait long for opportunity to bounce back and set the record straight. The PB5K at Ardingly Showground seemed like the perfect foil for that.
Blasting out of the blocks quickly, Tag posted a 4:53 split for his first mile which stood him in good stead for a fast time. Maintaining that sort of pace for the rest of the race was always going to be tricky though.
His second mile split was a 5:03 so, even though it had dropped slightly, he was still going well. Towards the end he began to suffer though, posting a 5:10 for his third mile split before managing to back up to the pace he started off at for the final section.
That amounted to a finishing time of 15:42, putting him in 51st place overall. Of course, with that sort of time he would usually expect to place much higher, but the standard of this event was extraordinary.
It was enough to see him confirmed as third fastest V35 on the day though and, in a field like that, that was quite an accolade.
The race win went to Ian Crowe-Wright of Brighton & Hove AC who got round in a staggeringly quick time of 14:23. That was enough to see of the challenge from Joe Wigfield of Liverpool Harriers who reached the line two seconds later.
Robbie Fitzgibbon of Brighton Phoenix took third place in 14:29, just one second ahead of Henry McLuckie of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers. Then it was the Aldershot Farnham & District pair Joshua Grace and Ricky Harvie who came in in 14:31 and 14:33 respectively.
There were a few other local runners taking part as well, with Benjamin Gibbons of Poole AC finishing in 69th place with a time of 16:02. Dom Willmore, also now of Poole AC got round 16:12, with Nathaniel Willmore of Poole Runners finishing 148th in 17:15.
Grace Copeland of Wimborne AC was the ninth fastest female, completing the course in a time of 16:58, which put her in 122nd position overall.
Tag feels that he just needs some more speed sessions going at sub 5 minute mile pace before he’ll be ready to go again and the holy grail would certainly be to make each mile a sub 5.
The end of the November lockdown marked the return of racing for many and what better way to get back into it than with a wet, windy, muddy, hilly, 33 mile ultra. At least, that’s what Pete Thompson thought anyway when he headed over to Kimmeridge for the Endurance Life Dorset Ultra Marathon.
It might surprise some to know that prior to this event Pete had never actually ran an official ultra before. He had of course completed many marathons including the famous 44 marathons in 44 days in 44 different countries challenge.
He’d also ran the entire 2018 Tour de France route in the space of 67 days which entailed covering roughly 30 miles every day, so in that he essentially ran the equivalent of an ultra every day. But as amazing an achievement as that was, it wasn’t an actual race.
One interesting thing about that challenge which wasn’t as well publicised was the fact that Pete had never actually ran over a marathon distance before, even in training, and there he was, having to do it for 67 consecutive days!
The Endurance Life Dorset presented him with the possibility of getting an official ultra marathon under his belt though, but as he was about to find it, it wasn’t going to come easy.
The weather on the morning of the event was atrocious. The lashing rain and high winds turned the route to slop which added to the difficulty of what was already a very demanding route.
Not to be perturbed though, Pete scrambled up an down the hills doing his best to stay upright whilst heading along the mud laden trails.
Accompanied by his friend, and also well renowned Bournemouth AC man over the years, Billy McGreevy, the pair worked their way along the coastal path.
Starting out at Kimmeridge, the route took them over to West Lulworth first before looping round and heading back through Tyneham. It was then over towards Worth Matravers before heading up to Kingston and back to Kimmeridge.
With the elevation billed at 5,567 ft, it was always going to be a serious battle, even for experienced runners like Pete and Billy. The relentless and unforgiving wind and rain turned it into less of a race and more of a slog with just a load of runners saying “why are we doing this” as they passed each other.
Not to be defeated though, Pete and Billy soldiered on and after nearly seven hours, they finally made it to the finish line. Wracking up an elevation gain of 7,372 ft and covering a total distance of 33.6miles, it had been an epic journey for Pete and one that he’ll remember for a long time to come.
Completing the course in 6 hours 48 minutes, Pete finished in 10th place in a field of 109 runners, 99 of which made it the finish line. The winner was Lewis Ryan who got round in 5 hours and 11 minutes.
Second place when to Maxime Lelong in 5 hours 30 minutes, with Kit Walker taking third in 5:35:20. Nina Davies finished as 1st female and was sixth overall with her time of 6:19:51.
The Endurance Life Dorset even consisted of five different races. As well as the Ultra that Pete competed in, there was also a Marathon, which was won by Dan Blake in 3:55:20, a half marathon which was won by Tom Campbell in 1:48:53 and a 10k, which was won by Matthew Dicks in 51:56.
There was also an Ultra Plus, which consisted of 46.3 miles. The winner of that was Dave Phillips, who made it round in 7 hours 48 minutes. Second place went to Simon Dicks in 8:37:46 and third went to Bob Gilliland in 8:39:15.
Pete claimed afterwards that it was the most challenging day he’d ever had in a pair of running shoes – and that’s saying something after all the crazy charity activities he’s done!
In answer to the question of why they were doing it, Pete would love to have something wise and profound to say but in all honesty, he just loves the experience. Well, it’s either that there’s something wrong with him!
After the Bournemouth AC‘s signature race, the Bournemouth 10, was cancelled for the third time this year, Ian White had been left with a huge surplus of t-shirts and medals but no one to give them to.
It was a real shame, not just for the infringement on Ian’s wardrobe space, but because the Bournemouth 10 has traditionally been one of the highlights of the local road race calendar. It has certainly hosted some terrific battles over the years, not least between some of the big names in the yellow and blue of BAC.
Despite all the ground work Ian and his team of organisers had done to try and find a workable solution to get it to go ahead, they had been forced to concede defeat in the end. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and issues that had arisen off the back of that, it just wasn’t going to be possible to hold the race in its usual form.
Fortunately though, the main sponsor for the race, Runderwear, agreed to put on a virtual event, where runners could record their own 10-mile run and submit the activity. A list of results would subsequently be compiled and produced from the evidence received.
Even though it was a virtual event the race attracted some top talent from far and wide, including well known elites such as Adam Holland. There were also several of Bournemouth AC’s big hitters turning out as well including Rob McTaggart and Harry Smith and they were well equipped to give the elite athletes a run for their money.
Emma Caplan was also in action and she would no doubt be vying for the top woman’s crown but with a field of 750 taking part there were bound to be other good female adversaries for her to contend with.
Alex Goulding and Adam Corbin were also getting in on the action and both had the potential to finish well up in the standings if they had a run.
There was also a race debut of sorts for Szymon Chojnaki who recently joined the clubs after moving over from Poland. He was another athlete who had shown tremendous pedigree so it was going to be interesting to see what kind of performance he could produce in his new surroundings.
Having trained extremely hard for the original Bournemouth 10 race, or the third edition at least anyway, Paddy McCallister was probably amongst those most disappointed when the event was canned.
He’d been targeting a sub-70 minute time which would have represented a huge step up on anything he’d produced previously. Even though the race was off though, Paddy was determined to get out and test his resolve anyway and on the date that he would have been running the Bournemouth 10, he managed to complete the 10 mile distance in a time of 1:09:59.
He hadn’t left himself much to spare that day and had to seriously motor over the last couple of miles but he did it and that was a testament to the progression he’s been making over recent months. Now, three weeks later, he had another opportunity to see if he could improve on that even further.
The Runderwear Virtual 10 Mile race also presented Ian White with a rare chance to tackle the Bournemouth 10 himself, instead of being there to organise and oversee the proceedings. And the same went for his wife Sam, who also runs for BAC. She was also relishing the opportunity to race it herself this time round.
On the day of the race the runners were greeting with nigh on perfect conditions. With relatively no wind to hold them back, it was a great chance for them to excel if they could get into full on race mode despite being on their own.
Coming off the back of a superb victory in the Run to the Sea 50k ultra marathon, Harry Smith had clearly been in good recent form. He was treating it as both a fitness test for himself and a chance to test out his new Alphafly trainers before running in them in a proper race.
Harry lives near Salisbury so his run was conducted from there. For the bulk of it, he was targeting around his projected half marathon sort of pace, which was between 5:35 and 5:34 pace. He managed that with no troubles for the first 7 miles or so began to crank it up a notch for the last few miles.
Ending with a 5:24 and a 5:20 mile, Harry completed his 10 mile run in an incredible time of 55:33. At an average pace of 5:33 minutes per mile, it was a very impressive performance and was abundantly clear that both he and the trainers had passed the test.
That was time that very few competitors were able to better. In fact, only one Bournemouth AC man posted a quicker time than that and that was of course Rob McTaggart.
After his outstanding run in the Dorney Lake Marathon back in October when he got round in 2 hours 29 minutes despite atrocious conditions, Tag knew he was in good form.
He ran a looped route starting from just north of Christchurch and heading over to Bransgore. He then turned left onto Thatchers Lane before heading back along Harpway Road.
For the first nine miles he didn’t even look at his watch. He just ran it at, what was for him, a solid tempo pace. He then turned the screw in the last mile to finish very strongly with a 5:12 mile split.
For the rest of the miles he’d been mostly going at between 5:25 and 5:35 pace. He actually completed the 10 miles in a time of 55:01 but didn’t manage to stop his watch straight away which cost him 16 seconds, putting his official time at 55:17.
It was a remarkable run from Tag and again, there were very few out there who could even dream of matching that sort of pace.
When all the results had been counted and verified though it emerged the Nick Bester of Herne Hill Harriers had taken the top prize. Running his Virtual 10 at Battersea Park, he clocked in at an astonishing time of 54:10, which was enough to give him a fairly comfortable victory.
Electing to run his race along Taunton Canal, Adam Holland sealed 2nd place, finishing in a time of 55:01. That was exactly the same time as Tag, only he did remember to stop his watch straight away. That put his average pace at a tremendous 5:30 minutes per mile.
Ben Goddard of Woking took the official 3rd place posting a time of 55:12. That also meant he netted the prize for first vet over 35. Then it was Tag in 4th and Harry in 5th.
Ben Neale of Tavistock Run Project took 6th place in a time of 56:58, with Luke De-Benedictis of Poole Runners finishing in 7th place, completing his 10 mile run in 57:50.
Toby Rowlands of Runnymede Runners finished in 8th place in a time of 58:08, with Adam Tuck of Ryde Harriers taking 9th and 1st prize in the vet 40 category with his time of 58:40.
Clocking a time of 59:45, Szymon Chojnacki was the next highest Bournemouth AC man in the standings. He finished in 12th position, which sounds like a terrific result. Szymon has high expectations though and he was actually hoping for a quicker time.
His chosen route did feature a couple of tough climbs though which he did lose a bit of time on. Because he’s relatively new to the area though, he wasn’t able to find a full flat route on this occasion.
German runner Wolgang Buhr finished in 13th place, also securing a time of 59:45. That saw him take 1st prize in the vet 45 category just pipping Alex Goulding to the post.
Aiming for a sub-60-minute time, Alex had been going very well in training over recent times so he knew he was in great shape. A large part of his route was along the promenade though which was packed with pedestrians and other runners so that didn’t help his cause.
He’d actually slipped behind schedule a bit over the first 7 miles though and had left himself a lot to do over the last three miles. He found to strength and the will to dig deep though and put in a 5:45, 5:49 and a 5:35 for his last three miles, just managing to sneak in with a sub-60.
His time of 59:59 put him in 15th place which was a marvelous result and a well earned reward for all the hard work he’s been putting in on such a consistent basis.
As for the race to be declared fastest female, that accolade did indeed go to Bournemouth AC’s Emma Caplan. She conducted her run right along the length of the promenade from Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks.
She was consistently between 6:20 and 6:25 minutes per mile pace for the vast majority of her miles, with a couple of them being even quicker.
It was a very strong, solid run from Emma which saw her complete the 10 miles in a time of 1:03:52. That put her in 28th place overall and saw her secure a winning margin of almost two minutes over her nearest female rival.
That was Rebekah Edgar of Thames Hare and Hounds who finished in 32nd place overall in a time of 1:05:40. She was immediately followed by Laura Dalton who was 3rd lady in 1:05:57.
One BAC member who wasn’t quite at the races that day was Adam Corbin. He got out of the blocks quickly and went through the first two miles in a decent time but at around the 2-and-a-half mile point he went into a slight headwind which knocked him off track.
He stopped for a moment, pondering over whether or not to continue. He decided to soldier on, get the 10 miles done and get his t-shirt.
For the next four miles though he was significantly slower than an athlete of his caliber should be over the 10 mile distance. He managed to pick the pace up a bit for last four miles though but his prospects of getting the sort of time he would ordinarily have hoped for had gone out the window.
Completing the 10 miles with a moving time of 1:03:24, it would actually still have been a reasonable time for Adam. As is standard with virtual races though, they tend to go on elapsed time, and his elapsed time, including the stoppage he had, was 1:04:58. That put him in 30th place in the standings.
Adam had recently been ill for three weeks which had killed his momentum somewhat so the fact that he struggled to hit the heights he’d usually demand of himself may have been a bi-product of that.
Putting in another stellar performance, Paddy McCallister just managed to squeeze into the top 50 with his time of 1:08:15. That was a 1 minute 44 second improvement on his previous effort on the original Bournemouth 10 date so he was pleased with that outcome.
Paddy did his run on a two lap route which had a couple of inclines to keep it interesting. He went through the five mile point in 33 minutes 30 seconds so he knew at the stage he was on for a decent time and he managed to avoid crumbling in the second half to bring it home well.
Setting off on his run just after midday, Chris O’Brien elected to go for the seafront route. That was a decision he would live to regret as it turned out the promenade was quite busy at that time so he ended up having to weave in and out of people the whole way. In fact, he even had to stop at one point.
It ended up as more of a hard training run than a race for Chris and he was disappointed with his finishing time of 1:11:19. It still put him in 60th place though and was an outcome that most runners would have been overjoyed with. Chris knows he is capable of much better though.
When he headed out for his Virtual 10 run, Phil Cherrett was undertaking his second run of the day. He’d already been out on the trails that morning at Moor Park with his daughter Isabel, who is one of BAC’s brightest young prospects.
For the Virtual 10, Phil set off at just over 8:30 pace and gradually upped the pace throughout the duration of his run to make it a good progressive effort in the end. Finishing in exactly 1 hour 22 minutes, Phil claimed 181st place in the standings.
Having really missed running with others, it was nice for Phil even to do a virtual run. He felt pretty strong throughout and was pleased with how he ran. He has been struggling for motivation recently so was thankful to the organisers for getting him out to run 10 miles.
The highlight of the event for Phil was that he managed to convince four family members to run it as well. Without parkrun they are missing out on everything that running brings so it was great that they were able to take part.
And to put the icing on cake, Phil’s mum Jan won the female V70 category as well in her first ever 10 mile run, finishing in 1:41:27. He was proud of her for that.
Although he hadn’t done too much running over recent times, Ian White made the most of his chance to actually compete in the Bournemouth 10 and thoroughly enjoyed his first event as a V50.
Starting off from Southbourne, he headed off in the direction of Hengistbury Head first before heading back along the Overcliff and down onto the promenade. Turning round just before Bournemouth Pier, he then headed all the way back to where he started at Southbourne.
It was a decent run from Ian and his pace was pretty consistent throughout. Finishing in a time of 1:22:49, he came in in 189th place overall and out of the V50 category, he was 16th of 51.
Completing her Virtual 10 in a time of 1:23:09, Debbie Lennon took 1st place in the female V55 category which was a terrific result for her. In the overall standings, she was 193rd, and she was 34th out of 347 females.
Each choosing a seafront based route, Estelle Slatford, Tamzin Petersen and Louise Price all bumped into each other on route and ran together whilst heading towards Bournemouth Pier.
For them it was more of a social, chatty run that an all out blaster. Estelle started off in Boscombe and headed in the direction of Southbourne first before turning and heading towards Boscombe Pier, the on towards Bournemouth and subsequently on towards Branksome Dene Chine before heading back to Boscombe.
Picking up the pace a touch over the last few miles, Estelle completed her 10 mile route in exactly 1 hour 27 minutes. That put in 249th place overall and saw her finish as 50th female. In the V45 category, she came 10th out of 69.
Starting off from the top of Middle Chine, Tamzin headed down towards the seafront and then headed off towards Bournemouth Pier. She then carried on to Boscombe Pier and on towards Southbourne before turning round and heading all the way back to Alum Chine.
Completing the run in 1:27:55, Tamzin finished 264th overall and was 55th female. In the Senior female category, she was 14th out of 53.
Running her Virtual 10 with her husband ‘Pricey’, Louise went for a point-to-point run, starting off from Christchurch and then heading towards Hengistbury Head before hitting the seafront and heading all the way to Sandbanks.
Finishing in 1:29:11, Lou was 292nd overall and 70th female. In the V50 category she was 8th out of 50. It was a PB for the distance for her husband, so he was very pleased with that.
Running the same route as Ian, Sam White set off five minutes before him, meaning he would be initially be chasing her. She had to stop and go to the loo though and and Ian went past so after that she was behind him.
They then passed each other on Bournemouth Pier and she followed him back to the finish at Southbourne Beach. The format seemed to work well for Sam and she actually managed to record a PB for the distance.
Finishing in 1:31:54, Sam came 335th overall and was 91st female and 12th in the vet 50 category. All things considered, it was a very pleasing result for Sam.
Currently recovering from a torn calf muscle, Wayne Walford Jelks took it fairly easy but still put in a decent shift to finish in 1:32:07. That put him in 348th place overall.
Starting off with a sub two hour target, Julian Oxborough used Stryd to help him achieve his desired outcome. Stryd measures power to instruct on the level of exertion you should be putting in as opposed to using pace alone.
It seemed to work well for Julian and he ran his fastest 10 mile time since the Great South Run back in 2015, getting round in 1:56:10. That put him in 634th place overall.
Having not dipped under the two hour target for quite some time, he was absolutely delighted with the result and said that he had never felt so good in a race.
Crucially, in the last two miles he felt like he had a lot of energy left which meant he was able to sustain the pace he needed to hit his target. That confirmed to him that the advice he was getting from the Stryd app was working and was helping him perform to the best of his ability.
Although obviously it wasn’t quite the same as the Bournemouth 10 races of previous years, it was great to see so many runners out there taking part and it went some way to proving that, even in troubled times, the spirit of the running community cannot be quelled.
If long, steep, relentless climbs and tough, turbulent, energy sapping terrain is your idea of heaven, then the Hellstone Marathon could be just the ticket for you.
Set in the heart of rural Dorset, the course reveals some of the sensational scenery that the countryside has to offer. It provides challenging yet rewarding proposition for anyone with the courage to take it on.
The wide range of differing terrain across the route certainly keeps things interesting with footpaths, bridleways, farm tracks and fields among the surfaces competitors would encounter along the way.
Tarmac is kept to a minimum with virtually the whole course on trail of some sort. The Hellstone Marathon incorporates 1,169 metres of elevation, so it’s a tough workout for any runner at any level. In fact, it’s challenging enough to earn those who complete it 1 UTMB point.
The event also includes a Half Marathon and, for the first time, it featured a 10k race as well. Staged by Badger Trail Events, the Hellstone Marathon is the sister race of the Dorset Ooser, which was won by Pete Thompson back in August.
That was the second consecutive year that a Bournemouth AC man had claimed victory in the Dorset Ooser Marathon, with Jacek Cieluszecki taking the 2019 win.
This time round Jacek was competing in the Hellstone Marathon and with his track record, or perhaps you could call it ‘trail record’, to be more precise, he was always going to be a leading contender.
Lytchett Manor Striders pair Scott Parfitt and Edward Crawley were also in the mix and there was certainly a possibility they could give JC a run for his money.
Having completed the Hellstone Marathon in May last year, Kirsty Drewett was back again for more punishment – or perhaps more pleasure – depending on how you want to look at it.
That time she completed the race in just over five hours. This year it was an entirely different proposition though. She hadn’t really been running all that regularly since completing the Larmer Tree 20 back at the end of March. That was just before lockdown came into force and all racing ceased.
Since then she’d only done one run over 14 miles and her total weekly mileage had only twice matched the distance she was taking on in the Hellstone Marathon.
With that in mind she had doubts going into it but she didn’t want to miss out on such a cracking course. Hence, she decided to throw herself into it and see what happened.
In the Half Marathon race, Helen Ambrosen was flying the flag for BAC. She’d done a fair bit of trail running over the course of the spring and the summer and had really enjoyed it. Hence, she was looking for an event to give her the chance to end the summer on a high and the Hellstone Half Marathon was it.
Coming off the back of two ultra marathon victories, Jacek had been showing some good form going into the Hellstone Marathon. In September he won the EnduranceLife CTS Exmoor Ultra Marathon which was 32.4 miles.
Setting a new course record by over 8 minutes, it was a very successful outing for Jacek in his first race back since the Covid-19 pandemic came into prominence.
He followed that up with another win and another course record in the Exmoor Coast 55km race. That was despite treacherous weather conditions on the day, with high winds and persistent rain compounding what was already a testing challenge.
Luckily it was a much nicer day for the Hellstone Marathon and that would have made it more enjoyable for JC and more manageable for all the participants.
JC wasn’t going into the race with entirely fresh legs though. The previous day he’d been cycling around the Purbeck on a Beryl Bike, following his wife Ela who was competing in the Maverick Jurassic Coast Marathon.
Going through Corfe Castle and onto Kingston, then through Kimmeridge and back to Corfe, he realised that a Beryl Bike was perhaps not the ideal mode of transport for that sort of trip!
Those exertions didn’t stop him going out hard from the outset in the Hellstone Marathon though, despite the difficult climbs he had to face along the way. In fact, the race started with a fairly steep ascent and that was a taster of what was to come throughout.
Considering it was such a hilly route though, JC was still able to go at a remarkable pace. His regular training over the Purbeck is the perfect conditioning for races like this and there are very few men out there who could match him over this sort of trajectory.
Those who know JC though will be aware that he often tends to go off track and get lost in these types of races. Usually it’s not his fault though. It’s just that he’d so far ahead of everyone else that he doesn’t have anyone to follow, so if there is a discrepancy with the route somewhere, he is liable to come a cropper.
Sure enough, at the Hellstone Marathon, this was destined to happen again. On this particular occasion, someone had pulled up one of the signs marking out the route and put it in the wrong place, 4 ft away. Then another one had been thrown 50 ft away from its designated post.
Not even a sabotaged course could stop JC though and he still managed to find his way back and make it to the finish line. Even though he’d probably done an additional 1.5 miles, he still ran out a comfortable winner, completing the race in 3 hours 33 minutes and 50 seconds.
That gave him a winning margin of over 7-and-a-half minutes on his nearest rival Scott Parfitt, who finished in 3:41:33. Edward Crawley took third place in 3:45:20.
It was another incredibly impressive display from JC and most certainly a performance to be proud of. Despite an elevation gain of 3,374 ft, he came away with an average pace of 7:18 minutes per mile for his moving time, over a total distance of 28.4 miles.
Due to the lack of training and preparation she’d had going into the race, Kirsty wasn’t expecting to produce anything special by her standards. She’d earmarked a sub-6-hour time as a target to aim for.
With it being a trail race, she of course had to concentrate on where she was putting her feet but besides that she found it a sheer joy to be out there. It felt like a wonderful escapism from the reality that is 2020.
The views were epic and far reaching and she encountered a wide variety of livestock and crops along the way, along with obstacles such as gates and stiles. There was certainly plenty to invigorate the mind.
Not only did she make it to the end, Kirsty actually ended up doing a lot better than she’d expected and crossed the finish line in a superb time of 5 hours 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
That was enough to put her in 53rd place overall in a field of 108 runners who successfully negotiated the course. That was a fantastic result for Kirsty and it was only 10 minutes over the time she managed last year, despite having done a lot less running than she was back then.
She was 15th fastest female as well and had every reason to be thrilled with that performance. Most importantly though, she had an absolute blast and that’s what it’s all about.
Kirsty felt the organisation of the race and the signage was exceptional, as were the aid stations, and the marshals were hugely energetic and reassuring.
Given her doubts before the race, Kirsty was so pleased that she’d been bold enough to try and do the race. If she hadn’t taken the risk, she would have never known whether she could have done it, so it’s always worth giving it a go.
In the mean time, Helen Ambrosen was in thick of the action in the Half Marathon race. She hadn’t run in that part of the countryside before but she was expecting it to be tough – and she wasn’t wrong. At the same time though, it was beautiful and scenic.
She also had to experience the tough uphill start, ascending for the first kilometre before the steep, rough downhill sector that followed. Because of the difficult start, it took Helen a while to get going.
She struggled a bit over the first half of the run but settled down in the second half and was feeling pretty strong by the end. She loved the 1k downhill stretch to finish on, although she wasn’t brave enough to run the steepest bits.
Completing the course in 2 hours 27 minutes and 26 seconds, Helen came in in 73rd position overall and was 21st female over the line. There were 146 runners in total who completed the Half Marathon.
Sam Davis picked up the win in a time of 1:37:31. Mark Packer of Littledown Harriers took the runner up spot getting round in 1:38:17 with Eddie Cairns sealing third place in 1:42:51.
Andrea Banks of Tynedale Harriers finished in fourth place overall and she was first female as well, crossing the line in a time of 1:42:57.
Helen said she would definitely like to do the event again and it would be good to have experienced the course before and have a stronger run next time.
In the 10k race it was Lee Dempster who came out on top, completing the course in a time of 42:54. That was enough to give him a comfortable victory, with Ian Luke of Poole Runners taking second in 46:13.
Lytchett Manor Striders pair Scott Mordew and Paul Hilton took third and fourth in times of 47:31 and 47:38 respectively.
Once again, huge plaudits have to go to Badger Trail Events for putting on another great race and also to Dorsetbays Photography for capturing the action in all its glory.
With most races cancelled this year due to the pandemic, there have been far fewer events on which to report the successes of BAC athletes. It is perhaps interesting to look back to a previous time when there were far fewer events locally for our athletes to contest – before the London Marathon was conceived and the start of the running boom which resulted in a huge upsurge of road races in the area!
Trawling through my running archives accumulated during over 40 years of being a BAC member, I have come across a number of race results featuring some of BAC’s ‘stars’ of the day some 40 years ago in 1980.
Back in those days, results were obtained by leaving a stamped addressed envelope with the race organisers with a small sum of money, say 50p, and a type written copy of the results would be sent to you in the post. A far cry from today where, with chip timing, results are often up on the internet before you get home!!
I’ve managed to dig out the results of three races from 1980 that I competed in (apologies for the poor quality of the photos but the originals were often not very clear in the first place).
Here’s a bit of background on those races…
Isle of Wight Marathon – 17th May 1980
This was on the original tough course starting and finishing in Ryde which was used for over 50 years. Back in those days, it incorporated the Marathon Championships for Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, there being no other marathons locally. This meant that quite a number of BAC athletes made the short trip across the Solent to compete over the magic distance of 26 miles 385 yards.
This year, one of the marshals wasn’t at his post half way up the long hill in the middle of Ryde shortly after the start and, as a result, the lead group of some 12-20 runners ended up some way off course and when we got back onto the correct course, found ourselves way back down the field.
Most of us did gradually make our way back up and finished in the top 20, however, it made quite a difference to our times, perhaps as much as a few minutes.
Star performer was BAC’s super vet John Hurt who, undaunted by going off course, moved right through the field and took first place in the very creditable time of 2:33.35 to finish the winner by one and a half minutes.
I also managed to recover well from the psychological blow of going the wrong way and worked myself up to 8th position in a time of 2:43:26 and 2nd place behind John in the Dorset Champs. Our 3rd man home was Chris Birch who finished 49th in 2:58:05.
The team results for the race were calculated by the combined times of the first three runners from each club and BAC finished with a combined time of 8:15:06, an agonising 53 seconds behind Epsom & Ewell whose total was 8:14:13.
Other BAC finishers that day were Dick Brown 65th in 3:04:37; Des White (competing for Barclays House, Poole) 108th in 3:19:52 and Brian Tolley 200th in 4:16:06.
There were 219 male finishers. Interestingly, back then, very few ladies ran marathons and their results are shown separately, with just 8 finishing!
The first lady was Lesley Watson from London Olympiads in the time of 3:11:09. Lesley was very well known in running circles and most people remember her for the fact that she always finished races looking absolutely immaculate with not a hair out of place!
Offa’s Dyke 15 – 15th June 1980
This was another race on a very hilly course (this time ‘off-road’) and was very popular with those who like such courses. If my memory serves me well, it has three massive hills including ‘Hergist Ridge’ (Mike Oldfield fans will know of this).
Five BAC runners travelled up on the day to do this one and we all piled into John Hurt’s car for the long journey setting off at some ridiculous time in the morning. I remember we stopped at a service station just before the Severn Bridge and had a light breakfast which in my case proved a bad decision!
Although advertised as 15 miles, this isn’t an accurately measured course and with it being so hilly, times aren’t particularly relevant. The race was one by Mike Gratton (Invicta) in the excellent time of 1:27:39.
The first four BAC runners finished close together with Richard Morgan 7th in 1:34:23, Harold Chadwick 8th in the same time, Barrie Smith 11th in 1:34:52 and John Hurt (first vet) 12th in 1:34:54.
With three to score in the team event, BAC were winners with 26 points, ahead of Westbury Harriers on 45 and Leicester Coritanians on 53. I had a disappointing run suffering with stomach problems and made several ’pit stops’ (I blame the breakfast) and ended up 69th in 1:47:18 out of 247 finishers. A very successful day for the team though!
Salisbury Plain 15 – 2nd November 1980
This was one of the races to do back in these times! Always a good quality field and a lovely picturesque course starting at Amesbury Abbey, following one side of the river Avon, back along the other side after half way and then climbing up to Boscombe Down with a fast, downhill finish to the Leisure Centre.
It was also well known for having lots of prizes, some of them quite unusual – Des White’s tennis racquet and my socket set being two that spring to mind.
In 1980, BAC athletes featured prominently near the front of the race which was won by Salisbury star Ian Ray in 79:20 with Marathon legend, Ian Thompson (Luton) second in 80:49.
First BAC man home was John Hurt (first vet) finishing 5th in 83:48 and we clinched the team prize with Barrie Smith 10th in 86:25, closely followed by Pete Fryer 11th in 86:37 and me 12th in 87:22. Other BAC performances were Terry Smith 30th in 92:10, Chris Birch 39th in 93:37 and Richard Morgan 50th in 96:35. Another fine day for BAC.
There are few better places to run in the south west than on the Jurassic Coast and the picturesque Isle of Purbeck provides a challenging and invigorating setting for a race.
Maverick to full advantage of the spectacular scenery and tumultuous terrain there to stage the Maverick Adidas Terrex X & Ultra Jurassic Coast 2020.
The event featured four races of different distances, with all routes setting off from Burnbake Campsite, just outside Corfe Castle. Amongst the distances on offer was a 53km Ultra, alongside a 44km ‘Long’ race, a 20km ‘Middle’ distance and an 11km ‘Short’ race.
The line up for the 11km ‘Short’ race included two Bournemouth AC members in the shape of Josh King and promising junior Emily Coltman.
It had been quite some time since Josh had been in action on the road race circuit, or off-road as it was in this case. In fact you have to go back to the Eastleigh 10k back in March 2019 to find the last time he was last in a major competitive race off the track.
That day he was part of the winning team along with Dave Long and Rob McTaggart, picking up the prize in a highly competitive race ahead of the likes of Aldershot, Farnham & District and Southampton AC.
Finishing in 7th place that day with a time of 32:16, it was a terrific performance from Josh. He had been ill all week in the build up to the race though and felt that he would have been capable of a sub-32-minute time had that not been the case.
As for Emily, she’d featured in numerous cross country races for Bournemouth AC, both at the beginning of this year and in previous years so she was no stranger to the rigors of an off-road route.
Running on the Purbeck was probably taking it up a notch though to be fair so it would be an intriguing test for her.
Finishing the season 12th in the Under 13 Girls division, Emily competed in all four of the Wessex Cross Country League fixtures last season.
That included the South West Inter County Cross Country Championships where she represented Dorset coming in in 36th place in her race.
She also competed in the Dorset County Schools Championship which was staged at Kings Park in January, finishing 19th in her race that day.
More recently she’d been at back-to-back track meetings on the same weekend, running in the 800m at Southampton on the Saturday and the 1500m in Portsmouth on the Sunday.
Performing well in both races, she was 2nd in the 800m with a time of 2:38.65 and 3rd in the 1500m in a time of 5:24.90.
Maverick were one of the first event organisers to embrace the new form of racing, with social distancing measures being observed and each runner being set off at a different time.
Of course, with chip timing, it is still possible to see how quickly each competitor has completed the course and formulate a list of results from that.
The only drawback is, you don’t necessarily know how well you are doing in comparison to other runners, so you just have to give it your best shot and see where you end up at the end.
Although he was only treating it as a training run, Josh managed to get round the 11km Maverick Jurassic Coast course in 45 minutes 16 seconds.
That made him 2nd fastest out of any athlete in the ‘Short’ race. It was only Ed Bird who managed to get round in a quicker time. He completed the course in 44:58.
Ed and Josh were significantly quicker than anyone else in the field, with Jonathan Martin taking 3rd place in a time of 48:15, three minutes slower than the time that Josh produced.
As for the race for the fastest female, that was still on and Emily was very much in the running. She managed to get round in a superb time of 58 minutes 13 seconds.
That was a benchmark that very few females in the race could match. In fact, she was only denied a 1st female position by Elissa O’Brien, who completed the course in 55:07.
Despite being in the Under 15 bracket, Emily had taken on and beaten all but one of the senior women in the race and that was quite some achievement.
She was also 9th quickest out of anyone in the ‘Short’ race in a field of 91 runners so it was most certainly a display to be proud of from Emily.
The next fastest female after Emily was Laura Edmonds and she clocked a time of 59:19, which was over a minute slower than the talented BAC junior.
In the ‘Middle’ distance race Dale Seddon romped to an emphatic victory finishing in a time of 1:14:43. That was 7 minutes quicker than his closest rival Nik Darlington who finished in 1:21:44.
In the ‘Long’ race, it was Lewis Ryan who picked up the win, getting round the 44km course in 3 hours 57 minutes. That gave him a healthy margin of victory over Will Davey who was 2nd in 4 hours 18 minutes.
Louisa Robbins took 3rd place and 1st lady, completing the course in a time of 4 hours 28 minutes.
Jacek Cieluszecki’s wife Ela did the ‘Long’ race and she got round in 5 hours 55 minutes, putting her 7th fastest female. She had Jacek following her on a Beryl Bike throughout the run.
Unsurprisingly though, he discovered that a Beryl Bike is perhaps not the ideal mode of transport over that type of terrain!
The 53km ‘Ultra’ was won by Alex van Tuyl. He managed to make it round in an impressive time of 4 hours 32 minutes. That gave him a margin of victory that was over 20 minutes on Maxime Lelong who was 2nd in 4 hours 53 minutes.
Some other well known names from the Dorset running scene took part in the ‘Ultra’ race. Jason Bell completed the course in 5 hours 49 minutes to take 20th place overall.
Poole Runners man Neil Sexton also took on the challenge and he managed to get round in time of 5 hours 58 minutes which put him in 32nd place overall.
The route incorporated over 4,700ft of elevation so it was a real test of both mental and physical resolve.
It has become something of a tradition for Phil Cherrett and his daughter Isabel to run a 5k together on the Saturday before Phil’s birthday. Since they’re both such avid runners it makes perfect sense to celebrate it in that way.
Usually it would be at parkrun though where they would mark the occasion. Unfortunately though, they didn’t have that luxury this time round.
There’s also an interesting footnote to that tradition as well which is that on each of the last three years they’ve done it, Isabel has managed to set a new PB.
This year though, with no parkruns on the horizon and in the current climate, with Coronavirus restrictions still casting a shadow over the very essence of what we used to call normality, that tradition was in serious jeopardy.
Some events were still taking place though and with special attention given to social distancing precautions and strategies for safe starting, many races had gone ahead successfully.
That meant there was some hope for Phil and Isabel and sure enough, they managed to find an opportunity on the very day that they needed.
There was an event being put on by RunThrough featuring a 5k, a 10k and a Half Marathon which was being staged at Newbury Racecourse. This would provide the ideal foil for Isabel and Phil to keep their remarkable tradition going.
All that had to happen now was that Isabel would need to run her fastest ever 5k. No pressure there then!
Having been through one of the strictest possible forms of lockdown, Phil and Isabel didn’t leave the house for three months and the only buildings any of their family had been in since March were from the girls going back to school.
Now they were suddenly thrust into an environment where there would be many other people gathering it the same place. In some ways it was quite a daunting prospect.
The event was completely different to normal though and Phil and Isabel felt very safe throughout. From a social distance perspective, it was very well organised.
There were 105 runners taking part in the 5k race, including Phil and Isabel. Before the start they called all the runners together, but since it was such a large area, there was plenty of room for social distancing.
They then asked all the runners to line up in single file, with cones marking out a safe distance. Then then called for groups according to estimated time, so sub 16 runners first, then sub 17 runners and so forth.
The runners were then marched to the start in single file, with four at a time being brought forward onto the start line and sent off. Then five to ten seconds later the next four were called forward.
It seemed to work well and created a nice relaxed feel to the start process, as opposed to the tense, nerve wracking situation of pre-Covid race environments.
The course was advertised as fast and flat but, although it was fairly flat, the middle two miles around the race course were on mixed terrain consisting mostly of old gravel path.
Containing large stones and numerous pot holes, it was tough to find a race line you could stay happy on for any length of time. Then there were sections of soft ground as you left the racecourse area.
It was harder than Phil was expecting but it kept him mentally focused on the job at hand.
When arriving at the finish it was a strange sort of atmosphere, with no crowd cheering you on, and in fact, no sound at all other than a polite voice other the tannoy asking you to collect your medal and vamousse, essentially.
It had been difficult for Isabel over the lockdown period. She’d had to face a long spell without any club training sessions and with no races or school sport on the calendar, she’d done remarkably well the stay fit and motivated.
The previous three years Phil has been able to run with Isabel when she’d set her PB’s. This time round though, he just couldn’t keep up with her.
It was a ground breaking moment really for the pair of them as it confirmed that Isabel, at just 11 years of age, was now faster than her dad.
Crossing the line in a time of 20 minutes and 42 seconds, Isabel had finished up in 43rd place overall and she was 19th female on the board.
That meant she’d only gone and done it again. For the fourth year running she’d produced her fastest ever 5k on the Saturday before her dad’s birthday. And as that benchmark gets higher, her performances get more and more impressive.
Feeling extremely strong throughout the race, Isabel had really enjoyed herself and was glad to be back racing. It was a strange experience for Phil as he came across the finishing line having no idea how she’d actually done. That was new.
Clocking in with a time of 21:17, Phil had finished 2nd in the Male V40 category and 46th overall. It was actually the fastest he’d run all year so, even though he’d been soundly beaten by his daughter, he was still delighted with how he did.
In reality as well, he couldn’t have been prouder that Isabel had finished ahead of him. The fact she was still improving despite the challenges she’s faced with lockdown and the lack of club sessions a a substantial time was pretty impressive.
Thankfully, at 11 years of age, Isabel has still got plenty of time on her hands but its pretty clear how tough it is for some age groups at the moment who are missing out on so much. Those who should be looking forward to their final year of school and of junior competition have had that taken away from them and that’s a real shame.
With the self motivation that Isabel has though, there’s no doubt she’ll continue to grow and improve. It might even spur Phil on as well as he now knows he’d going to have to put some serious work in if he’s going to stand any chance of catching her up.