Category Archives: Road_Reports

Rich and Trev get their just deserts at Bournemouth Beach Race

Rich Brawn and Trev Elkins at Bournemouth Beach Race
Rich Brawn and Trev Elkins were both in action at Bournemouth Beach Race with Rich taking on the 10k and Trev gunning for glory in the 5k

It is an event like no other!! With the entire course on sand and numerous hurdles to get over, with a groyne in waiting at the end of each segment of beach, this wasn’t your bog standard 5k and 10k race. The Bournemouth Beach Race requires strength, agility, resilience and sheer doggedness.

This edition of the event featured two Bournemouth AC members. Rich Brawn was in action in the 10k race and Trev Elkins was taking on the 5k.

For Rich, it was a step into unchartered waters, or unchartered sand, to be more precise. He hadn’t ever really done a race on the beach before, unless you count the Bournemouth 10 after all the sand has blown up onto the promenade the night before!

He wasn’t really sure what to expect or how tough it would be, but he was about to find out. And the answer was – extremely tough!!

As for Trev, he already had two Bournemouth Beach Race 5k wins to his name, in the summer and the winter events of 2018, so he was practically a veteran across the sandy shores.

When he signed up for the race, Rich was handed a start time of 7:35am which he wasn’t quite expecting since on the website it said the starts were from 8:30. That meant he was already on the backfoot from the get-go.

Then on the previous day, he found out that there was going to be a surprise party for one of his friend’s birthdays that night. It was such a surprise that even Rich hadn’t known about it!

His initial thought was to go along and have dinner and enjoy the party but to only allow himself one glass of wine. Once the champagne started flowing though, that idea went out the window.

After three hours sleep and still feeling half cut from the night before, Rich gingerly made his way to Bournemouth Pier, where the race was located. Luckily, he was able to use his gym as a base so brought some warm clothes with him for after.

Rich Brawn prepares for Bournemouth Beach Race
Rich used his gym as a base to get changed and prepare for the challenge ahead

Since the start was supposed to be in waves, Rich took his time getting ready and by the time he came down to the start area, most the 10k runners had already set off.

Since no chips had been handed out, he thought he’d missed his chance. Then he realised that there were cameras and people recording the times that the runners set off. So he could still run the race and get the correct time. But he’d have to do it on his own.

The course had changed from previous years where it was run in the direction of Sandbanks. This time though, it was towards Boscombe and then on to Southbourne.

The finish at Bournemouth Beach Race
The route concluded with a very tough approach to the finish where the runners to grind it out over the soft sand

Rich had done a couple of training runs from Boscombe Pier to Bournemouth Pier and back on the sand that week, so he knew it wasn’t easy to run fast on it.

Nevertheless, he attacked the race as best he could and managed to get a reasonable pace going for the first couple of miles. After Boscombe Pier though, it started to get very tough.

It was quicker to run on the wet sand as it was more compact, but the groynes were too high to jump so Rich was having to go up onto the dry sand to get over the groyne and then go back down again, and do the same thing after each segment of beach. It was a real grind.

Miles 3 and 4 were very slow for Rich as he battled with constantly having to run through the dry sand. Once he reached the last couple of miles it became easier as the groynes were low and he could stay on the wet sand.

Then on as he was jumping over one of the groynes in the last mile, he twinged his left hamstring. After that it felt like he was getting cramp and he had to slow down for a bit. He was determined to finish though, since he’d slogged it through the sand for so long.

Managing to push on in the end, he successfully made it to the finish line but it was to be the slowest 10k he’d ever ran. Even dating back to the days when he first started running.

With a finishing time of 45:35, it was pretty safe to say, this was not a race he had excelled in. When he found out Luke De-Benedictis had got round in just over 41 minutes, that compounded Rich‘s misery.

Rich Brawn after Bournemouth Beach Race
It was Rich’s slowest ever 10k time but he was still pleased to have risen to the challenge and completed it

The 5k race that Trev was in started at 8am and he had already finished by the time Rich got back. Having done the race a couple of times before, Trev fared a little better. In fact, he was the first finisher, reaching the line in a time of 20:57.

Because people were starting at different times though and other runners had started later than him, he knew he hadn’t got the fastest time. He’d seen a youngster who started quite a bit later than him gain some ground.

That was Aidan Dure-Smith – and it turned out he’d completed the course in 19:35. When the results were finalised though, it emerged that Chris Rogers had picked up the win, bettering Aidan’s time by two seconds to finish in 19:33. That meant Trev would have to settle for 3rd in the end.

Although he wasn’t overly pleased with his performance after the race, Trev’s time was still pretty close to what he’d produced before when he won it on the two previous occasions.

The first time he got round in 20:18, which was a course record, and the second time he clocked 20:52. That was on a different course though and it certainly seemed that the new course was tougher and slower than the previous one.

Trev Elkins after Bournemouth Beach Race
Trev’s time of 20:57 was enough to see him seal third spot on the leaderboard in the 5k

Agnieska Loeff finished 1st female in the 5k race, getting round in 22:56. That was also good enough to her take 6th place overall ahead of Crystal Haygreen who was 7th and 2nd woman.

In the 10k race, it was a win for Luke De-Benedictis in the end, with his time of 41:12 comfortably better than anyone else’s. Guy Kopanycia-Reynolds was 2nd in 42:29 and Mike Goulding took 3rd in 43:47.

Rich was disappointed to find he’d only finished 8th in the end, in a race which he thought he might stand a good chance of a top three place.

Amy Kingston was 1st female, finishing in 54:10 and she was followed by Zoe Clark and Francesca Allford who finished in 57:31 and 57:35 respectively. There 56 runners in total completing the 10k race and 38 in the 5k.

The Bournemouth Beach Race medal
Challenging Events still had a batch of medals left over from the last time the race was held so gave those out to anyone who hadn’t done that one

When reflecting back on it after, Trev said that he may not do any more of the beach races as he didn’t really enjoy that one. He certainly didn’t get the same buzz out of it that he did at the New Forest Off-Road 10k a few weeks prior, although he did win that race so that might have something to do with it.

Rich found it perhaps the hardest race out of any he’d done previously. It really was a grueling workout. After the race his legs were so shot that he couldn’t even jog back to Boscombe Pier from Bournemouth Pier when heading home. His hamstrings were so sore that he had to walk.

It was a great challenge though and he could possibly be persuaded to give it another go in future and hopefully get a more respectable result next time round. Only if he’s forgotten how hard it was by then though!

The shore at Bournemouth Beach
The beach setting provided a fantastic backdrop for an early morning race


Harry delivers dynamic duathlon display at Ashridge

Harry Smith in the Ashridge Standard Distance Duathlon
Taking his place in a high standard field, Harry Smith was ready to leave it all on the line in the Ashridge Standard Distance Duathlon

Bringing together the cream of the crop on the national stage, the stakes were high at the Ashridge Duathlon Standard Distance event, with an opportunity to qualify for the 2022 World Championships up for grabs.

That of course meant some tough competition for Harry Smith as he looked to vie for one of the top age group positions. Looking at his recent performances in the EA Virtual Road Relay competition, Harry had every reason to be optimistic, certainly with regard to his running form.

In both rounds he turned in an outstanding display, clocking times of 25:29 and 25:48 for the 5-mile distance. As for the cycling, Harry is also very strong at that and devotes a good proportion of his training time to it.

The weekend before doing battle at Ashridge, Harry had a little warm up for the big event in the shape of the Southampton Fast Twitch Duathlon.

That race was held on the edge of the New Forest and was a Sprint Distance event consisting of a 4.5km run, a 23km cycle and 4.5km run.

Completing the first run in 16:09, at an average pace of 5:24 minutes per mile, Harry went on get the bike leg done in 33:49, despite the windy conditions. He then followed that up with a 16:35 for his second run at an average pace of 5:34.

With an overall time of 1:08:15, Harry finished in 2nd place out of 162 competitors. And that that was despite the fact that he’d ran a  marathon in Cornwall with a couple of friends just four days prior!

As the Ashridge Duathlon was a Standard Distance event, that meant a Harry would be undertaking a 10km run, a 44km bike ride and a 5km run. Both the runs were on trail and the bike ride was undulating, but that actually suited Harry as he’s strong on the climbs.

Harry Smith on his first run
Harry gets the ball rolling, setting off on his first run

Blasting round the first run in a time of 32:41, Harry made an excellent start to the proceedings. The distance did come up slightly shorter than 10km though. In fact it was just over 6 miles but it was still a magnificent run from Harry, giving him an average pace of 5:26.

Only two men in the entire field were able to go quicker than that and one of those was Jamie Price, it man who finished ahead of him in the Southampton Duathlon the previous weekend.

Harry moves onto the bike phase
Harry moves onto the bike phase

Completing the 24 mile bike ride in a time of 1:04:01, Harry was 7th quickest in the field, leaving just the final run remaining. Clocking a time of 16:49 for the second run, it was a great way to round off an impressive performance from Harry.

Harry soars along on his race bike
Harry soars along on his race bike

Although it came up short again, Harry still recorded a strong average pace of 5:44 in the second run and that put him 5th fastest. With his transitions incorporated in, Harry’s final time for the race was 1:54:44. That put him 5th overall and 2nd in his age category.

Harry gets his second run underway
Harry gets his second run underway

When you consider the standard of the athletes he was up against, that was an absolutely fantastic result for Harry and he had every reason to be pleased with his efforts. And he certainly felt like he put everything into it.

Harry on his second run
Harry powers along toward a remarkable 5th place finish

It turned out to be a pretty close race at the front of the field, with the top five all being separated by under two minutes. It was Ant Gritton who came out on top in the end with a finishing time of 1:52:53.

That put him 9 seconds ahead of Jamie Price who was 2nd in a 1:53:02. Alex Doherty was 3rd finishing up with a time of 1:54:17. Then it was the battle between Royal Navy man Daniel Soltys and Harry for 1st place in the 25 to 29 age group. Daniel won the battle by 20 seconds in the end, finishing with a time of 1:54:24.

Harry on his bike in the Ashridge Duathlon
It was a hilly route which suited Harry quite well

In a field of 266 competitors, it was a top class display from Harry and was enough to see him qualify for the 2022 World Championships. The event is actually due to be held in Australia, so whether he’ll actually get to go or not is another matter, but either way, it was a terrific achievement from Harry.

In the form that he’s in now, Harry would love to find a decent 5k or 10k road race to see what sort of time he can produce. No doubt there will be a big PB awaiting him when he does.






Tom Craggs runs Cheshire Half Marathon in tribute to Tash

Tom Craggs in the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon
Bournemouth AC coach Tom Craggs had a very special reason to take part in the Cheshire Half Marathon as it was in memory of Tash Lewis

Despite being plagued by a knee injury that consistently hampers his ability to run as he would want to, Bournemouth AC coach Tom Craggs found himself competing in the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon, and he was doing so in memory of Natasha Lewis.

The Team Bath athlete, coached by Tom, was tragically and fatally knocked down by a car whilst out on an early morning training run. Tash was a tremendous runner, still in her 20’s and surely destined to go on to great things.

Tom described her as “a wonderful, kind, driven and motivated human being who inspired countless into sport and exercise in their wider lives through her life and the business she built with Dave (her partner and fiancé)”.

Tash did in fact come along to one of Tom’s Tuesday night training sessions at Bournemouth AC last summer and left quite an impression on the group that day.

Her supreme speed saw her well in front over the majority of the intervals in the session. What was most striking about her though was that she just looked like a proper runner. In her technique, in the way she moved, and just everything about her. She was a real inspiration to be around and her talent was clear for all to see.

Natasha Lewis in the Run to the Sea 50k
Natasha Lewis on her way to winning the Run to the Sea 50km Ultra

Of course, Tom has found it very difficult to come to terms with the sudden loss of Tash, as have all those who knew her. He has handled it in the only way he knows how though, which is to keep running, keep coaching and keep doing the things he’s passionate about. And knowing her love for running, that’s exactly what Tash would have wanted.

Tash had been down to compete in the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon and that prompted Tom to boldly step in and take her place. His knee had only allowed him a handful of 30 to 45 minute runs over the past couple of months though so it was always going to be a battle.

Tom Craggs with Annabel Granger at Run Cheshire
For the vast majority of the race Tom was running alongside Annabel Granger of Bristol and West AC who was doing the Marathon

Tom was running with Annabel Granger of Bristol and West AC, who was doing the Marathon, for the first nine miles. He’d been feeling reasonably comfortable and at that point he was on course to finish in around 1 hour 24 minutes. Then his knee blew up.

That set him up for an emotional and somewhat painful last four miles as he limped home. It was so important to him to see it out though and he was determined not to give up.

Tom starts to feel the pain as his knee blows up
The agony is etched on Tom’s face as the pain in his knee intensifies

Making it to the line in a time of 1:28:29, Tom had accomplished what he set out to do and, given the circumstances, it was pretty decent run.

Ultimately though, the day had always been about finishing something Tash had started. It was never going to be anything but a painful, yet deeply meaningful and emotional race for Tom.

Tom Craggs coasting along in the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon
Tom was wearing a Team Bath vest on behalf of Tash

In a further tribute, the blue and gold colours of Team Bath were added to the ribbon of each medal that was given out in both the Marathon and Half Marathon races. That was a very nice touch by Mike Harrington of Run Cheshire.

In spite of the pain and suffering he went through, Tom will always have the memory of this race to look back on and cherish, just as he will his memories of Tash and all the good times they had.

Tom pushes on through in the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon
Tom was absolutely determined to make it to the end, no matter what






Pete Thompson returns to the Dorset Ooser Marathon

Pete Thompson in the Dorset Ooser Marathon
After picking up the win in the last Dorset Ooser Marathon, Pete Thompson was back again, ready to tackle the testing off-road route once more

It was only eight months ago that Pete Thompson last visited Turners Puddle for the Dorset Ooser Marathon and the event brought him some very happy memories on that occasion.

Running out a convincing winner on the day and despite the near 2,500ft of elevation, Pete still some how managed to get round in under three hours. It was certainly a mightily impressive achievement, even for an athlete of his standing.

The race that day had been put back from its original date due to lockdown restrictions. It was a very significant one as well as it was the first race to be held after the end of the first lockdown.

In many ways, Badger Trail Events paved the way for other races to follow, implementing a COVID secure race environment, with staggered starts, masks and social distancing measures.

Of course, that has since become a race format that is quite familiar and works very well for the most part but Kevin and Denise Day who run the Badger Trail Events company certainly deserve a lot of credit for pioneering it and boldly going where no one had gone before.

The Dorset Ooser Marathon would surely have to go down as one the toughest in the county. The terrain is extremely varied and features farm tracks, fields, woodland trails and heathland.

Whilst being invitingly picturesque, the Dorset countryside is also fiendishly brutal and the marathon route includes 13 hills to negotiate with approximately 1000m of elevation. Add to that the mud, the stiles and the fords and you have a very challenging route to negotiate.

After emerging victorious last time round, Pete’s aims were slightly different on this occasion. He’s entered the South Downs 100k at the end of the month so the Dorset Ooser would serve as a good training exercise for that.

Hence he ran it a lot more tentatively than he did previously but it was still a strong and solid performance that saw him complete the course in a time of 3 hours 19 minutes and 59 seconds.

That put him in 6th place in the final standings, so once again it was a terrific run from Pete on such a bumpy course and should be a very valuable exercise to contribute towards his 100k prep.

Pete Thompson heads down the woodland path
Pete makes his way along the serene woodland trail

After having to settle for a runner up in the last one, Robert Eaton of South Derbyshire Road Runners went one better this time and sealed the win, beating his previous time by 39 seconds to finish in 3:06:58.

The gave him a reasonably comfortable margin of victory over Brett Waters who was 2nd in 3:12:26. 3rd place went to Ryan Burke in a time of 3:16:12.

Tracy Cook of Dorset Doddlers ran well to finish as 1st female and 10th overall in a time of 3:36:04. That put her 11-and-a-half minutes abhead of her nearest female rival, Michelle Maxwell of Cippenham Harriers who was 18th overall in a time of 3:47.34.

Scott Parfitt of Lytchett Manor Striders finished in 11th place with a time of 3:36:48 and he was followed by Mark Goodwin of Littledown Harriers who completed the course in 3:38:32 to take 12th position.

There was also a Half Marathon race and that was won by Mark Peddle who really put his foot down to get round in a time of 1:31:13.

Ian Luke of Poole Runners was 2nd in a time of 1:32:46 with Mark Packer of Littledown Harriers taking 3rd in 1:34:03.

Lindy-Lee Folsher of Epsom Oddballs was the fastest woman in the Half Marathon, completing the course in 1:39:31 which put her in 8th place overall.

Georgie Roberts of Lytchett Manor Striders was the next quickest female, clocking a time of 1:43:28 to finish 15th overall.

Pete Thompson makes headway in the Dorset Ooser Marathon
Looking to build up his endurance for the South Downs 100k, the Dorset Ooser was the perfect foil for Pete to do just that

A total of 256 runners successfully completed the Marathon with a further 272 running the Half. Once again, it was an exceptionally well organised event and one that is becoming of Pete’s favourite races.

Pete didn’t allow himself much time to rest and recuperate after the Dorset Ooser Marathon and the following weekend he was back out on the trails again, this time heading over to the Purbeck in a run that would in the end see him reach 28.8 miles.

That included some tough inclines in the middle as well so Pete is certainly well on his way with his training for his forthcoming ultra. The South Downs 100k is a point-to point race from Arundel to Eastbourne featuring over 8,000ft of climbing.

Pete has completed the Endurance Life Dorset Ultra previously, which was 33 miles and during his epic Tour de France route challenge in 2018 he was averaging about 30 miles a day.

But a 100k course to complete all in one go will certainly be a massive step up in distance. No doubt he’ll rise to it though, like he has in the various challenges he’s taken on thus far. It will be something of a journey into the unknown for Pete but that’s all part of the fun of it.


Josh Cole on fire in Tatton 10k

Josh Cole jostles for position
Whilst he making a regular trip up to the northwest, Josh Cole managed to pencil in the Tatton 10k where he would line up in a field containing several top class runners

After having to endure so many months without any prospect of a race on the horizon it is no wonder runners up and down the country have been keen to lace up their carbon platers and get back on the start line of a real event. And Josh Cole was no exception to that.

His first race opportunity arrived in the shape of the Tatton 10k, held at Tatton Park in Cheshire. Josh invests in a property in the northwest so goes up there every three to four weeks anyway.

His dad is a senior coach at Bury Athletic Club and they let him jump in on their sessions when he’s around. That meant he knew some of the runners he’d be up against in the race.

On the day of the race it was an extremely cold morning. So much so that Josh couldn’t feel his arms until about three miles in. It was a rolling, staggered start in order to keep it Covid secure and when Josh set off he had a number of his Bury rivals out in front of him to chase down.

Signaling his intent from the outset, Josh went off hard and after exactly five minutes, he’d already completed his first mile. He continued on in a high pace, with a 5:17 second mile and a 5:21 third mile.

Josh Cole racing in the Tatton 10k
Josh battles it out with Tom Dart to see who can get on the board first

Usually he finds he starts treading water in the middle of a 10k but he’s been doing some extended tempo work on Saturday mornings and that seemed to help.

In fact he only really started suffering about 8.5k in which meant he just had to grind it out over an inclining final phase of the race. Reaching the line in a spectacular time of 33:30, Josh had well and truly nailed it and had bagged himself a brilliant new PB.

His previous best 10k time was recorded at the Round the Lakes 10k in Poole back in 2014, so to beat that was a fantastic result for Josh. Only one of his Bury AC rivals posted a quicker time and that was Ben Coop who just edged him out of 8th place by two seconds.

Josh approaches the finish of the Tatton 10k
Josh makes a break for the finish before falling over the line in exhaustion after giving it everything he’s got

The Tatton 10k that Josh did was actually the first race in a monthly series and it boasted an extremely high standard field. Josh’s 33:30 time put him in 9th place out of nearly 700 participants. His average pace for the run was 5:21 minutes per mile.

Ben Fish tanked it round in 31:49 to pick up the race win. The Blackburn Harriers man would go on to finish 16th in the Cheshire Marathon with a time of 2:23:58. 2nd place in the Tatton 10k went to Ian McBride in 32:11, with Scott Nixon taking 3rd in 32:40.

Impressively, Bury AC had seven runners inside 37 minutes and that included Hannah Price who was 1st female, getting round in a terrific time of 36.22.

Josh Cole in action in the Tatton 10k
Josh on his way to claiming a super new PB

Josh was very pleased with his time, especially since a few months ago he was struggling to get under 17 minutes for 5k. It was certainly a good indicator of what he’s truly capable of when he manages to string a decent block of training together.

The following Tuesday he was straight back into training, recording the best track session he’s done in years with the Bury AC group, including Josh Birmingham and Lawrence Fairclough – two up and coming stars with huge potential.

It was a 3 x 1 mile session with a 5 minute recovery in between and Josh completed the miles at a lightening quick pace of 4:52, 4:53 and 4:52. Unfortunately since then he’s been struggling with a pain in his foot so he’ll be hoping to recover quickly from that and start preparing for his next big race.




Trev Elkins excels in New Forest Off-Road 10k

Trev Elkins looking ready for the New Forest Off-Road 10k
Trev Elkins was hoping he might have to make space on the shelf for another trophy when he lined up for the New Forest Off-Road 10k

His stellar performance in the Run to the Sea 50k Ultra last October certainly did something to reignite the fire in Trev Elkins with regard to racing and competing.

Since then though, the various lockdowns and restrictions on mass participation events have meant that opportunities to do it have been very limited.

That left him like a horse in traps for quite some time, waiting for the chance to bolt free and let the shackles off again. That opportunity finally came, albeit nearly six months later, in the form of the New Forest Off-Road Half Marathon event.

The fixture was put on by UK Running Events and consisted of a 10k and a 14k race as well as the half marathon showpiece. Trev opted for the 10k distance.

Naturally, he was super excited to be back out there and to Trev it felt a bit like 2015 all over again, when he lined up for his first ever race. He threw himself into beast mode and just went for it, hell for leather. That’s the kind of approach that’s he’s perhaps lacked over the past couple of years.

The race was staged at the Hinton Admiral Estate, after being granted special access to an area of the New Forest which is not usually open to the public.

Trev Elkins at the New Forest Off-Road 10k
This rare opportunity to run in the Hinton Admiral Estate was an appealing proposition for Trev

The starts were staggered, going from 8:30am through to 1pm and Trev opted for a 12:50 start. With hindsight, that might have been a mistake, as there were times when he felt like he was in the queue at Aldi supermarket but without any cheap groceries to bag at the end of it.

Everyone in front of him was bottle-necking to cross bridges or go through gates and to take the racing line as they followed the trail through the forest.

That meant Trev had to be ruthless and just carry on, running through bushes on occasions and speeding up where necessary to get to the corners first. The adrenaline buzz he got from that may have helped spur him on though.

The runners who were in front of him were those who had started in earlier slots to him, some also doing the 10k race and some back-markers in the longer distances.

The first 4k was on an incline, on bobbly, uneven ground, and also a tricky 24kph headwind to contend with. With that in mind, Trev decided to see how he felt and perhaps ease himself into it.

He hadn’t checked any of the live results so had no idea what the time to beat was or anything like that. He’d done an 8k threshold run in 29:28 quite comfortably a couple of weeks beforehand though so he knew he had some form in him.

One he got going, Trev could tell he was feeling good and decided to crank it up a notch. Getting through the first mile at 6:14 average pace, he’d set off pretty quick. After that he settled into a slightly steadier pace at around 6:35 pace for the next few miles.

It was only really on the fifth mile when he started to struggle a bit and his pace began to waver. He got through it though and recovered well to finish strongly in the last mile.

Finishing in a time of exactly 39 minutes, it was a strong run from Trev and he was pleased with the outcome. Of course, with everyone starting at different times, he had no idea at that point where that would put him in the final standings.

It turned out it was good enough to see him finish top of the pile, with the next fastest runner, Lee Thomas, finishing in a time of 39:21. They were the only two runners to get inside 40 minutes. It was a fantastic result for Trev and he should have a winner’s prize being posted out to him next week.

Trev Elkins prepares for the New Forest Off-Road 10k
Completing the 10k course in dead on 39 minutes, Trev had outdone all of his adversaries on this occasion

The victory has fueled his desire to race more and given him back that hunger to compete and test himself. It was a good feeling for Trev to come out on top, having gone quicker than 99 other competitors. He was glad that he was fit enough and able to find it within himself to push harder than ever.

The 14k race was won by Joe Hulme in a time of 45:56, with Simon Bond taking 2nd place in 50:13. The Half Marathon victory was sealed by Christopher Reed in a time of 1:18:39, with Simon King taking 2nd in 1:20:53 and Joe Cuthbert 3rd in 1:21:49.

The fact he felt stronger than he ever had before is a good sign for Trev and will give him confidence to take into future races. Speaking of future races, he already has a few in the pipeline including the Eastleigh 10k which has been scheduled for July, the ABP Southampton Half Marathon in September and the Great South Run in October.

He’s also signed up for Bournemouth Beach Race in early may. That’s an event which he has won the 5k in twice before, so there’s plenty to look forward to for Trev from a running perspective.

He and his partner Gemma also have a baby on the way so there are certainly some exciting times to come this summer. His victory in the New Forest Off-Road 10k could well be just the beginning of a cracking year ahead for Trev.



Ant Clark takes top M40 props at Dorney Marathon

Ant Clark in the Dorney Marathon
Marking the occasion where running races returned to the agenda, the Dorney Lake Marathon took place over the Easter weekend, giving Ant Clark the chance to get out and compete

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 9th place 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.

Ant Clark on his way to a 2:33 finish
Ant delivered a fine performance to demonstrate that he is still very much one of the top vets out there

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.






BAC team stutter in second round of EA Virtual 5-Mile Relay

Bournemouth AC members at a real race
After making a statement of intent in the first round of the EA Virtual Road Relay, the Bournemouth AC team had to try to follow it up in round two

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.

Adrian Townsend in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Adrian Townsend was looking to gage what kind of form his lockdown training had put him in

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.

Josh Cole in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Although the stormy conditions were not favourable, Josh Cole wasn’t going to be deterred

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.

Georgia Wood in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Georgia Wood turned in a magnificent performance to register a time of 29:18

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.

Harry Smith in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Harry Smith proved his terrific first round display was not a one-off

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.

Helen Ambrosen in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Helen Ambrosen was in good shape and hadn’t had any trouble maintaining her motivation throughout lockdown

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.

Linn Erixon Sahlström in the EA Virtual Road Relay
The relay competition provided a rare opportunity for Linn Erixon Sahlström to practice some short distance speed

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.

Andy Gillespie in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Andy Gillespie had been running every day whilst being on furlough but was hoping to step the pace up for his relay attempt

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.

Chris O'Brien in the EA Virtual Road Relay
It’s been a very busy time for Christ O’Brien lately but he still found the time to get out and register his five mile effort

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.

Rich Brawn in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Taking to the bustling promenade for his attempt, Rich Brawn found that his hurdling was perhaps not quite up to scratch

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.

Helen O'Neile in the EA Virtual Road Relay
After a bright start Helen O’Neile wasn’t quite able to hit the heights she would have hoped for

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.

Barry Dolman in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Barry Dolman added a superb time of 30:16 to bolster the overall score 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.

BAC team grouped together at an actual race
There have certainly been some positives to take from the virtual competitions and no doubt when the real racing returns, Team BAC will be ready to excel

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.

















BAC squad deliver five star display in EA Virtual Road Relay

Bournemouth AC team from happier times
Even though it was a virtual race, the Bournemouth AC squad rallied well with 18 members competing in the EA 5-mile Road Relay

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.

Rich Brawn on his first attempt at the 5-mile relay
Rich Brawn recorded a time of 29:17 on his first attempt at the 5-mile road relay but he felt he could potentially go quicker

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.

Lisa Elmore in the EA Virtual Road Relay
When the call came Lisa Elmore didn’t hesitate to show she was a team player

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.

Holly Collier in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Holly Collier returned to the racing realm after having taking some time out towards the end of the year

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.

Oliver James in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Ollie James had a very strong run in which he was well in control throughout

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.

Georgia Wood in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Georgia Wood ran well to clock a time of 30:56

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.

Emma Caplan in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Although she’s not massively keen on virtual races, Emma put in a strong display to register a time of 30:53

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.

Helen Amrbosen in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Although she had to hunt around a bit for some flat ground, Helen made the most of the opportunity to get into race mode

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!

Ian White in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Ian White swapped his golf shoes for trainers and successfully rediscovered his running legs

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.

Rob McTaggart in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Recording a time of 26:10 for his attempt, Rob McTaggart felt that was a result he could improve on on another day

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.

Rob Spencer in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Rob Spencer bolted round at lightening speed to throw down a tremendous time of 24:47

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.

Tamzin Petersen in the EA Virtual Road Relay
A decent performance from Tamzin Petersen saw her return home with 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.

Harry Smith in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Harry Smith nailed his run and with a time of 25:29 he was sure to finish high up in the standings

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.

Estelle Slatford in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Although she’s more adept over longer distances, Estelle Slatford still managed an astute display in her 5 miler

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.

Rich Brawn in the EA Virtual Road Relay
A 30 second improvement over his time the previous week gave Rich Brawn a terrific time of 28:47

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.

Helen O'Neile in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Helen O’Neile chipped in with a run that was hugely important to the team, shooting them up to third in the rankings

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.

Alison Humphrey in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Alison Humphrey paced her run well to finish in a time of 36:11

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.

Jacek Cieluszecki in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Jacek Cieluszecki’s time of 26:21 was good enough to see him secure a scoring spot

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.

Adam Corbin in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Adam Corbin was able to better his previous time on his second go, finishing in 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.

Julian Oxborough in the EA Virtual Road Relay
Julian Oxborough has run quite a few virtual races over recent times and added another to the list here

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.

Team BAC at a road race league fixture
The heat will certainly be on in the next round with the chance to represent the country in an international round up for grabs

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)

Place Name Category Category Position Time
16 Josh King SM 11 24:40
18 Rob Spencer SM 13 24:47
35 Harry Smith SM 27 25:29
77 Jacek Cieluszecki M40 5 26:21
169 Oliver James U17M 10 27:27
285 Adam Corbin SM 158 28:30
335 Richard Brawn M35 41 28:47
648 Helen O’Neile SW 32 30:45
668 Emma Caplan W45 2 30:51
681 Georgia Wood W40 3 30:56
1257 Holly Collier SW 132 34:37
1384 Lisa Elmore SW 17 35:31
1461 Alison Humphrey W50 19 36:11
1617 Tamzin Petersen SW 184 37:27
1853 Ian White M50 111 39:54
1937 Estelle Slatford W45 96 41:05
1957 Helen Ambrosen W60 20 41:21
2433 Julian Oxborough M55 83 56:39













Tag goes out hard at Ardingly 5k

Rob McTaggart in the PB5K at Ardingly
Looking to test himself against the best of the best, Rob McTaggart lined up for the PB5K at Ardingly Showground

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.

Tag reaches the line in the Running Grand Prix at Goodwood Motor Circuit
Tag reaches the line in the Running Grand Prix 10k at Goodwood Motor Circuit

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.

Tag battling it out in the PB5K at Ardingly Showground
It was an improvement on his performance from the previous weekend which Tag was pleased about

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.