Category Archives: Road_Reports

BAC brigade boosted by buoyant crowds in London Marathon

Barry Dolman, Rob Spencer and Ali Humphrey getting ready to start
The anticipation and excitement builds as Barry Dolman, Rob Spencer and Ali Humphrey gather at the start before getting their 2021 London Marathon runs underway

When racing first came back after Covid restrictions were eased it was a real relief to have it back. The thrill of the chase… that competitive edge… the adrenaline buzz you get from racing against others… There really is nothing quite like it.

Although it was great to have running events back on the calendar though, for the vast majority of that time, there was something missing. Something that plays a massive part in making racing what it is. Something that helps generate the wonderful atmosphere you often experience in big events. And that something is of course – the supporters.

Without the thrill of the onlooking crowds roaring you on, shouting, screaming and cheering, it’s just not the same. It’s so much harder to find the motivation to keep going. To dig deep and find that extra bit of resolve to grind it out when the going gets tough.

It was that that made the Virgin Money London Marathon so special this year, even more so that any other year, and it was that that it will be remembered for in years to come. Especially after what everyone has been through. The isolation… the social distancing… the lack of mingling with friends, family, colleagues and teammates.

Having a race with 36,000 participants go ahead felt like quite a milestone. And having many more thousands out there on streets supporting, cheering and creating the most incredible of atmospheres felt almost ground-breaking. This was it. This was life as we knew it before. This was life at its best!

Of course, for the runners taking part though there was still some serious racing to be done and they couldn’t afford to get carried away with the magnitude of the event or the circumstances. For them, there was a lot at stake. There were potential PB’s to earn and paces to keep to, in amongst all the melee.

Of those 36,000 participants, there were nine runners affiliated to Bournemouth AC. That included Anthony Clark, Richard Brawn, Rob Spencer, Heather Khoshnevis and Alison Humphrey.

It was a bit of a change for Ant Clark to be training just for a marathon, rather than a massive ultra like he did when he was doing the World 100k Championships or the Comrades Marathon which is 89 kilometres.

Thus he was focusing on speed work a bit more as opposed to put in hugely high mileage weeks. He certainly seemed to be getting quicker as a result as well.

For a few weeks in the lead up to London, Ant had been hammering down his 5k times at Poole parkrun. That culminated in him securing a magnificent new parkrun PB of 15:58.

He’d also managed to nail down a new 10k PB of 33:27 at Eastleigh and went pretty close to his all-time half marathon best at Dorney Lake as well when he registered a time of 1:13:19 in a repurposed Maidenhead Half Marathon.

Recording a new half marathon PB of 1:18:49 at the Puddletown Plod just before he started his marathon training, Rich Brawn knew he was going into it from a good place.

Like Ant, Rich had spent a fair bit of his training trying to get his 5k time down as well. He’d competed in a 3000m and a 5000m race on the track in the National Athletics League and had managed to reduce it down to very close to 17 minutes.

He’d also done a 20 mile race at the Milton Keynes Festival of Running and had managed to get round at an average pace of just under what he was targeting at London so he could tell he was there or thereabouts.

Then a couple of weeks before London Rich nabbed a superb new PB of 16:47 at Poole parkrun. He knew then that he was in very good shape for the marathon.

He had been experiencing some issues in training though where he’d been feeling sick towards the end of his long runs though so that was a concern for Rich. He’d also been struggling to find any gels that his stomach would agree with so that was also worrying him somewhat.

Last October, Rich had done the Virtual London Marathon and he’d run it in a race at Dorney Lake. The conditions on the day were horrendous though and it was raining so much that his shorts got soaked and the salt capsules he’s brought with him disintegrated.

He ended up getting cramp in around the 23rd mile and that saw a painful ending to what was otherwise looking like quite a promising run for him. Cramp was always going to be another big concern for Rich at the VMLM.

Rich Brawn picks up London Marathon number
Rich Brawn picks up his number and Age Group World Championship bib at the London Marathon expo

Rich had been joined in his marathon training sessions by one of Bournemouth AC’s newer members, Sam Jackson. The pair had met after the Puddletown Half Marathon and since then Sam had been coming along to some of the BAC training sessions with his brother Luke.

Aiming for a sub 2:50 time, Sam had been certainly been putting in the hard yards in training and had been clocking 80 miles per week in the build up to the race. It was clear that he too was in excellent shape.

Rob Spencer had been following a Tin Man training program throughout most of the year really and it had been working for him. He’d clearly been getting quicker and when he recorded a new 10k PB of 30:46 at the Speedway 10k in Chepstow, he knew he was on the right track.

Since then, he just needed to keep doing what he was doing and keep improving and that was exactly what he did. He’d been joined in some of his training sessions by another new face to the Bournemouth AC ranks in Barry Dolman.

Barry had also been going well in training and making some vast improvements to his times. The progress he’d made was remarkable really considering he was fairly new to running when he joined the club.

He had ambitions to run a sub 3 hour marathon and it seemed that that could even be a possibility in this year’s race. He was certainly hoping to get round in under 3 hours 15 minutes anyway so any improvement on that would be a bonus.

Heather Khoshnevis had certainly done her fair share of marathons in the build up to the VMLM including the New Forest Marathon on the previous weekend.

Then the month before that she’d done the Bath Two Tunnels Marathon. Then in July she ran the Hampshire Hoppit and in June the Kempton Park Marathon.

It was to be Heather’s 14th time of running the London Marathon and incredibly it was her 141st marathon in total. And she certainly isn’t showing any signs of letting up.

Alison Humphrey had been putting in some very good training runs ahead of the London Marathon where she’d been knocking out 18 plus miles at 7:30 pace. Hence, she was feeling ready and raring to go.

Helen O’Neile, on the other hand, was going into it off the back of virtually no training at all. She’d been suffering from an ongoing achilles injury that had plagued her for quite some time now.

If anyone could just turn up and run a good marathon off of minimal training, it was Helen though and she was determined to give it a good go. It was a big ask though of course.

Also in action representing BAC was Jayne Wade. She’d run the Brighton Marathon three weeks prior and hadn’t fully recovered by the time London came around.

She knew it was going to take a lot of determination to get her through it and was anticipating that it wasn’t going to be pretty. In fact, she felt the only way she was going to make it round was by praying to the running gods!

It was easy to see that Rob Spencer was in the mood from the get-go and he blasted out of the blocks in the Championship pen and never looked back.

He was rattling through each mile at between 5:20 and 5:35 pace. That meant he was clocking between 17 and 17:30 for each 5k. It really was an incredible performance from Rob and underlined the huge strides he’s been making of late.

It was only in the last 5k that he started to feel it a bit but he still managed to compete those miles in under 6 minutes. It had been a masterclass from Rob and his finishing time of 2 hours 25 minutes and 56 seconds elevated him to the lofty heights of 30th place out of the masses.

In a field of 35,833, that was an extremely impressive position to be in for Rob. It also put him 18th on the all time list of Bournemouth AC’s quickest marathon times. Thinking of all the impressive athletes who have pulled on the famous yellow and blue vest in the past, that was quite an accolade.

Rob Spencer with partner after London Marathon
Rob had pencilled his name into the BAC record books with a truly astounding time

Also moving his name up the rankings of BAC greats, Ant Clark delivered a terrific new marathon PB of 2:27:35. That put him in 46th place overall at London and 7th in the 40-44 category.

Ant Clark in action in the London Marathon
Ant Clark was on top form at London and able to maintain a ferocious pace throughout

The vast majority of Ant’s miles were run at between 5:30 and 5:35 pace, certainly up until the 20 mile point. Then for the last 10k it was more like 5:45 pace.

Ant Clark going well in the London Marathon
Ant was on his way to record a terrific new PB that would see him finish in 46th place

With an average pace of 5:36 minutes per mile, it was a highly impressive performance from Ant catapulting him up to 22nd on the all-time BAC list.

Anthony Clark in the London Marathon
The stats speak for themselves: Ant Clark excelled at London this year

Rich Brawn and Sam Jackson met up just before going into the start pen and were running together at first. Sam was going a touch too quickly for Rich’s liking though so he decided to let him go.

Since he tends to suffer from cramp in the latter stages, Rich knew how important it was to keep it controlled and ensure he was going at a pace that seemed relatively easy for him.

Rich Brawn and Sam Jackson on the BBC TV coverage
Rich Brawn and Sam Jackson made it onto the BBC TV coverage when they were starting the race

He had in his head the idea of running at around 6:25 sort of pace so that was what Rich was loosely aiming for. His hope was to get up to 20 miles without feeling like he’d expended too much energy.

There was a couple of little inclines on the 20th mile though which made him have to work a bit harder than he would have liked. Nevertheless though, he was going to the last 10k feeling pretty strong.

Rich Brawn spots some friends in the crowd
Rich spots some friends in the crowd and turns to acknowledge their support

The pace still seemed pretty comfortable but as he got closer to the end he could feel his leg muscles beginning to tighten. This was where he was in real danger. He couldn’t afford to let cramp set in.

Even though he was actually feeling strong enough to really push on and up the pace, he decided it was probably best not to and stuck at the speed he was going.

Rich Brawn strides out in the London Marathon
A rare shot of Rich actually looking like he has a good running style

He’d consumed a fair amount of salt capsules and had been eating salt stick chews as well to try and stave the cramp off. At about 25.3 miles he felt his first proper pang and the warning signs that cramp was imminent were there.

Taking out his sachet of Crampfix, he gently sipped it back. The Crampfix had made him sick at Dorney Lake when he tried to swallow it too quickly so he was more careful to drink it slowly this time.

Rich Brawn moving well in the London Marathon
It was touch and go at the end for Rich with the threat of cramp looming large on the horizon

Very relieved to turn onto the finishing straight at The Mall, Rich had managed to get away with it and was overjoyed to cross the line in a time of 2:48:29.

That was an improvement of almost 7 minutes on his previous best time of 2:55:23 which was set at London in 2019. It had turned out to be a very well paced run and the splits were pretty consistent all the way which was pleasing to him.

Rich Brawn with medal
Rich was extremely happy with the performance he produced on the day

Going through virtually every 5k in just over 20 minutes, his average page for the run was a solid 6:23. That put him in 855th place overall and 203rd in the 40-44 category.

It was a fantastic experience for Rich and he revelled in the amazing support he got from his Dad, his friends and his clubmates whilst out on the course.

Rich Brawn with Darren Smith
Rich met Darren Smith after the race and he’d run it in a very impressive 2:42

As for Sam, he ran pretty well for the first 20 miles and was well on course to achieve the sub 2:50 that he wanted. He began to suffer a bit though over the last 10k and was forced to slow down a fair bit.

Having not done any long runs over 20 miles in training, his legs perhaps weren’t used to the additional distance and hence found it difficult to cope.

Crossing the line in a time of 2:51:38, Sam finished in 1,119th place overall and 256th in the 40-44 category. Frustratingly, he just missed out on a PB by 10 seconds after getting round in 2:51:28 in the 2019 London Marathon.

It was tough to take for Sam after all the hard work he’d put in in training but unfortunately, as he found in this instance, there are no guarantees on the day. It was still a cracking time though by all accounts and a result to be proud of nonetheless.

Having never done anything like the London Marathon before, Barry Dolman didn’t really have a clue how to run it, but considering that, he made a pretty good fist of it.

Initially he stuck to a heart rate he was comfortable with, which was probably a good approach, then from 15k onwards he ran pretty much by feel.

For the first 7 miles he was between 7 and 7:15 minutes per mile. For the next 5 miles he was just over 7 minute mile pace. From mile 13 he was going to around 6:50 sort of pace. He then managed to keep that going for pretty much the remainder of the race.

It turned out to be a very good negative split from Barry and showed that you don’t have to be the most experienced of marathon runners to get it right. You just have to be sensible and go in with a good tactical approach.

Crossing the line in a time of 3:03:46, it was indeed a splendid run from Barry and put him in 2,477th place overall and 199th in the 50-54 category. Not bad at all for a first stab at it.

Rob Spencer and Barry Dolman after the London Marathon
It was a momentous day for both Rob and Barry

Feeling pretty good over the first half of the race, Helen O’Neile was going at around 6:40 sort of pace for the first 16 miles. In fact, she went through the half way point in 1:28:35 so was going very well at that stage.

Because she hadn’t really trained for it though, she was anticipating a drop-off over the second half of the race and was hoping to cruise in for a sub 3:14 time.

From the 17th mile onwards her pace began to drop a bit and from mile 21 onwards she really began to struggle. She got cramp as well which made it very tough over the latter stages and reduced her to over 8 minutes per mile.

Despite that, she rallied well and managed to see it through to end, reaching the line in a time of 3:10:23. That put her in 3,151st place overall and she was 266th female on the day.

Considering that was off the back of virtually no training, it was a fantastic result from Helen and shows that with the right training behind her, she has the potential to achieve big things.

It was still good enough to get her a Championship qualifying time for next year though and she has vowed that for that one – she will train! In fact, she has vowed never to do a marathon again without training, although admittedly, she had said that before.

Rob Spencer with a former teammate from St Albans Striders
Rob bumped into a former teammate from St Albans Striders after the race

Going at roughly 7:30 pace for the first 15 miles, Alison Humphrey was feeling pretty good. So much so that she even had to hold herself back at times. She went through the half way point in 1:39:07 and was looking on course for a finish of around 3:20.

Her pace began to drop a touch from mile 16 onwards but she was still holding it together well. She ran out of fuel of the last few miles though and really had to dig in to see it out.

Finishing in a time of 3:24:09, Alison came in in 4,925th place overall and was the 700th fastest female. She was also 38th in the 50-54 category.

It was a pleasing run for Alison though and gave her a PB of over 2-and-a-half minutes. Her previous best was the 3:26:51 that she did at Manchester in 2019.

Alison Humphrey with her medals
Alison had every reason to be proud of her efforts after a stellar run

It was a bit stressful at London this year getting all the Covid measures sorted. You had to take a lateral flow test in the days leading up to the race and show proof of the negative test before being allowed into the start zone area.

For some reason they’d also scrapped the bag drop facility on the morning of the race and the runners had to drop their bags off at the expo with everything they needed for after the race. That made the organisation extra tricky, especially for those who were only staying in London for one night and then wanted to head back after that.

Once all that was sorted though you could relax a bit and enjoy the ride and just go out there and do the best you can on the day – and that was what Heather Khoshnevis did.

Some of the runners were entered into the Abbotts Age Group World Championships as well and they were given a separate bib to pin to their back.

Heather enjoyed seeing who was in her category throughout the race and she was able to overtake a few of them on route, including an additional two with just 600 yards to go.

Finishing in a time of 3:41:31, Heather came 8,088th overall and was 1,683rd female. In the 60-64 category, she was 15th, which was a decent result.

Heather Khoshnevis after the London Marathon
Heather shows off her London Marathon and Age Group World Championship medal

She always loves running in London and feels that you just can’t beat the electricity generated from the crowds. It really does feel special at London.

Heather Khoshnevis and Sarah Swift celebrate
That’s a lot of bling!! Heather celebrates with Poole Runner Sarah Swift

The runners who were in the Abbots Age Group World Championships also got given a separate medal after the race. That medal was ginormous and very heavy. Almost too heavy to out around your neck!

Heather Khoshnevis with Ali Humphreyat Horse Gardens Parade
Heather and Alison at Horse Gardens Parade after with a former teammate of Heather’s

Next up for Heather, she was off to pull on her England vest in the York Marathon, competing for the EA against Celtic teams whilst also battling it out in the BMAF Championship.

Ali Humphrey and Heather Khoshnevis after the race
Alison and Heather had given their all and earned their bling

After suffering with cramp towards the end of her Brighton Marathon, Jayne Wade’s goal for London was to keep running the whole way and not to stop and walk.

It was quite a challenge, but she did it! She knew it was never going to be a fast time after the Brighton Marathon so went at a steadier pace. She managed to avoid getting cramp this time as well until after she’d finished and then it really hurt!

It was definitely a race in which she experienced all four seasons weather wise, feeling hot at points, cold at other times, wind battered in certain sections and wet after the downpour she got caught in.

Finishing in a time of 5:13:08, Jayne was 27,789th overall and 9,646th placed female. In the 55-59 category, she took 534th place. For her it wasn’t about where she finished though and what time, it was about the experience.

She thoroughly enjoyed the run though and found the support and the atmosphere during the race to be amazing. After saying this would be her last marathon, she soon found herself entering the ballot for next year.

Her husband Rich is also a member of the club and he came out to support her. Whilst he was in London as well, he took the opportunity to mingle some of the celebrities and the rich and famous who were there. Well I say mingled… he high fived Chris Evans anyway!

Ant Clark with his daughter at the London Marathon
Ant had made his family very proud with his heroic display

There were so many fantastic runs from Bournemouth AC members and it was great to see them getting out onto the hallowed streets and giving their all. And they could all be extremely proud of their efforts when they look back on what they have achieved.

The most significant aspect of the London Marathon this year was that it showed that events can still take place on the grandest of scales and they can still be successful.

That has to provide us with good reason for optimism when it comes to future races and events and our way of life in general. The best events are the ones that bring people together from all different backgrounds – and there’s no event that does that better than the London Marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanjai goes for GFA time in Chester Marathon

Sanjai Sharma in the Chester Marathon
With a Virtual London Marathon to run, Sanjai Sharma headed up north for the Chester Marathon where he was hoping to seal a Good For Age entry for London next year

With most of his running hopes and aspirations usually centred around the London Marathon, Sanjai Sharma was in action at the MBNA Chester Marathon where he was looking to secure a Good For Age time.

In his age bracket, that meant recording under 3 hours 40 minutes for the distance. Whilst that may not seem like a tall order for an athlete of Sanjai’s calibre, he’d been plagued by injury problems for the vast majority of the year and as a result had failed to get a decent block of training behind him going into the race.

In fact, he’d only managed one long slow run in preparation for it and wasn’t even sure he’d be able to finish the course pain free. He was going into it more in hope than expectation.

Last year of course there was no London Marathon, so Sanjai, like many others, competed in the Virtual London Marathon. That was also on the first weekend of October and he ran it in a proper race at Dorney Lake.

A storm had blown in that weekend though and the conditions on the day were atrocious. Sanjai still somehow managed to pull a good run out of the bag though, getting round in 3:19:32.

That did earn him in a place in the London Marathon this year via Good For Age qualification but there was a mix up with his entry and he was unfortunately unable to take his place in the race due to that.

Hence, why he ended up running at Chester instead. It was frustrating for Sanjai as it would have been his 20th consecutive London Marathon if you count last year’s virtual race. But alas, it was not to be.

Luckily there was still the opportunity to run it as a Virtual London Marathon this time round as well, so Sanjai decided to do that. At least it meant he was still effectively doing that race, even though he wasn’t in the actual location.

The last time Sanjai raced was also at Dorney Lake. That was when he was competing in the Maidenhead Half Marathon and the location had been moved due to a low amount of entries. He registered a time of 1:40:13 that day.

Whilst it may have been his slowest half marathon, it was actually a good progressive run where he managed to up the pace on each of the four laps.

The course for the Chester Marathon started at Chester Racecourse. It then headed into the city passing the Town Hall and the Cathedral, along with several other historic landmarks before heading over Old Dee Bridge.

It then heads past the Duke of Westminster’s estate and through Pulford before crossing the border into Wales. Keeping to the rural lanes, it is then onto the village of Holt.

Then it’s over the ancient Roman bridge at Farndon and back into England for the final part of the race. It’s then through Churton, Aldford and Huntington before heading back into the city and into Grosvenor Park for the finish.

There were a number of hills on route, including a couple at mile 25 which was a real sting in the tail. It was a wet and windy out on the course as well, but nowhere near as bad as Dorney Lake the previous year.

Running a very good race tactically, Sanjai tucked in behind a group for the first 15 miles. He was actually having to hold himself back at certain points as he felt like he could go faster.

After that the group were beginning to slow down so Sanjai broke away from them. From then on he managed to increase the pace and finish strongly.

Sanjai Sharma going well in the Chester Marathon
Sanjai ran his race smartly and left some energy in the tank to up the pace in the later stages

Pacing the race extremely well, Sanjai did the first 10k in 49:19, the second 10k in 49:08, the third 10k in 49:18 and then next 10k in a slightly faster 48:05.

It was a textbook way to run a marathon and a testament to Sanjai’s experience and ability that he was able to pull that off on fairly minimal training.

With a finishing time of 3:27:24, Sanjai was positioned 251 in a field of 1,711. In the MV60-64 category he finished 6th out of 49, so all in all it was not a bad result for Sanjai.

In the Virtual London Marathon he finished 564th and 12th in the 60-64 category. He still got the same London Marathon t-shirt and medal as everyone else as well so that was a bonus.

The race was won by Michael Young of West Cheshire AC in a time of 2:27:31. That put him over a minute ahead of his nearest rival Joseph Turner of Cambridge and Coleridge who was 2nd in 2:28:47. 3rd place went to Tomas Roberts of Meirionnydd RC in 2:33:44.

The 1st female spot went to Melissah Gibson of East Eagles RC and she finished 23rd overall in 2:48:44. Keely Smith of West Cheshire was 2nd female and 68th overall in a time of 2:58:29. Alison Taylor was 3rd female over the line and 80th overall in a time of 2:59:19.

For Sanjai, he’d comfortably achieved his goal of a Good For Age qualifying time for London next October so as far as he was concerned it was mission accomplished.

He’s now looking to knuckle down and get some good training in and work his way back to his best form. Provided he can stay injury free, he’ll have plenty of time in which to do that so hopefully, come next October, he’ll be on the start line at Blackheath full of optimism.

Stu Glenister goes large in Ultra Tour of Arran

Stu Glenister at the Ultra Tour of Arran
Stu Glenister arrives at the Isle of Arran to tackle a race that would surely be either the making or the breaking of him. Or potentially even both!!

It was an event he’d been training for and building up to for most of the year so when it was finally time to embark on his epic adventure, Stu Glenister was very much ready to go. That’s if you ever can be ready for a two-day, 60 mile crusade over some obscenely high yet spectacularly scenic Scottish mountains. The mind boggles at how you even begin to prepare for a daunting challenge as daunting as the Ultra Tour of Arran.

One thing was for sure though and that was that Stu had done all he can to get into the best possible shape he could and build up his endurance, strength and stamina to give himself a chance of getting through it.

Back in June he completed the 32 mile Dartmoor Discovery Ultra Marathon – the longest single lap road race in the UK. That was over a course that featured 4,000ft of elevation and took Stu 5 hours and 28 minutes to get round.

That was the equivalent of only one of the two days in the Ultra Tour of Arran. He’d then have to go and do it all again the following day!

He’d also completed the Dorset Conquest Half Marathon which was also on a very undulating route that included some very long grass and high shrubbery to battle through.

On another weekend he ran the Summer Larmer Marathon, which was on a gruelling trail route with 2,650ft of elevation. Then the next day he was back in action in the 8 Mile race at the same event.

That was good training to help him get into the habit of running the next day following a very tough long run the previous day. Of course, there was no way of knowing whether what he’d done would be enough to get him  through the Ultra Tour of Arran but he was certainly going to give it a damn good go.

After a short ferry crossing, Stu and the other runners were on the Isle of Arran ready to get their adventures underway. As well as high mountains, the course also featured deep glens, enchanting forests and a picturesque coastal setting.

Start of the Ultra Tour of Arran
Let the games begin: The Ultra Tour of Arran gets underway. No turning back now!

The course for both days started and finished at Brodick but Day 1 was a loop on the southeast section of the island and Day 2 was in the northeast.

The route on the first day was 27.6 miles and incorporated an elevation gain of 3,882ft. There were more undulations on the Day 1 course and it was pretty much up and down the whole way whereas with Day 2, there were only really two inclines. They were higher climbs though, amounting to a total ascent of 5,786ft. The course for Day 2 was 29.6 miles in length as well, so slightly further.

Over the two days, Stu encountered everything. Hail, fog, sunshine, rivers, bogs, rocky ascents and dangerous descents.

Ultra Tour of Arran scenic view
The Isle of Arran provided a truly stunning backdrop for the race

Completing the run on Day 1 in 3 hours 34 minutes and 31 seconds, Stu was 17th quickest out of the 162 who successfully made it round.

Day 2 was a much tougher prospect and turned out to be a real battle for all of those who were still going. That included Stu and again he was 17th fastest in a time of 7 hours 49 minutes and 7 seconds. There were 137 runners who successfully completed the brutal route.

That put Stu’s overall time for the Ultra Tour of Arran at 11 hours 23 minutes and 38 seconds. Out of the 136 runners who successfully managed to get through the two days, he’d finished in 16th place.

It was a tremendous result for Stu and a very proud moment when he came across the finish line and realised the magnitude of his achievement.

It was a challenge that very few people would even dare to attempt, let alone have a chance of completing. But Stu’s dedication in training and determination over the course of the two days got him through it.

Stu Glenister after completing the Ultra Tour of Arran
This was quite possibly the hardest Stu had ever had to work to earn a medal but it was also probably the most rewarding

The overall winner of the Ultra Tour of Arran was Arian van Helden and he completed Day 1 in 3:01:21 and Day 2 in 6:40:22, giving him a total cumulative time of 9 hours 41 minutes and 43 seconds.

Tom Scott was 2nd, negotiating Day 1 in 3:20:33 and Day 2 in 6:22:24, giving him a total combined time of 9:42:58. Cameron Pollock took 3rd, registering a 3:11:37 and a 6:54:21 putting his total combined time at 10:05:59.

It was a truly great accomplishment from Stu to do what he did but it certainly came at a cost. His feet were cut to shreds and he lost seven toe nails in the process.

He didn’t care though. It was one heck of an adventure, with a dramatic and frightening backdrop of Scotland’s finest. An absolutely unforgettable experience.

Over the next few days he was in a lot of pain and it was an exertion that was going to take some time to fully recover from. He was looking forward to getting back to club through for some more structured training and a bit of a break from those hellacious hills.

 

 

 

 

Jacek chaperones Ela to glory in North Coast 110k

Jacek and Ela after North Coast 110k
BAC ultra running extraordinaire Jacek Cieluszecki was set to run through the night and well into the next day when he lined up for the North Coast 110km race where he would be accompanied by his wife Ela

When faced with a very difficult and daunting task, sometimes it’s best to work together to achieve the best results. And if you’re lucky enough to have a partner there with you to help each other through the dark times, there will always be light at the end of it.

For a regular couple, that task could be something as simple as cooking a family meal or tidying the garden shed. Or it could be painting and decorating the house perhaps.

As for Jacek Cieluszecki and his wife Ela, it was something slightly more outlandish. They were taking on the North Coast 110km Ultra – a race that see them scale 11,500ft of ascent over unforgiving terrain in an adventure of biblical proportions.

And it wasn’t just the distance and the elevation that made it such a challenging proposition. It was the fact that it started at 8:30pm, meaning they would be running through the night and into the next morning and most likely well into the afternoon before they finished. It was not a challenge to be taken lightly that’s for sure.

Runners prepare for the North Coast 110k
The runners gather for a photo before they are set loose into the wilderness to embark on their epic adventure

Jacek and Ela came into it off the back of a nice break in the Scottish Highlands. Not a nice relaxing break though. It was more of an active holiday, where they did a lot of running and hiking up some very high mountains.

They also both took part in an 18km trail race as well which featured 2,400ft of elevation. Then the day before that Jacek competed in Saloman Mamores VK – a 5km race with 1km of vertical ascent.

It was essentially running all the way up a mountain for 5km, so slightly tougher than your average parkrun. Remarkably Jacek finished in 2nd place in that race, despite the many experienced fell runners taking part who would have been more accustomed to running on that sort of rocky terrain.

Jacek listens to the race briefing
Jacek listens intently to the race briefing which is very important on such a long and hazardous route

Before that both Jacek and Ela had competed in the Scaffell Pike Trail Marathon, which entailed scaling England’s highest peak.

Jacek had already ran the second half of the North Coast 110km Ultra as well when he competed in the Exmoor Coast 55k. In that race he claimed a new course record of 5 hours 11 minutes and finished over an hour ahead of his nearest rival.

Running through the night though, the 110km race was going to be an entirely different proposition. Racing on the coast path or in the woods in the dark is quite a scary experience. The howling wind and teeming rain made it even more of a difficult task.

The North Coast 100 runners set off on their way
The runners set off in the dark, knowing they had a long a gruelling, but hopefully fun night ahead of them

The route began in Barnstaple with the only flat section of the entire course, heading along the Taw estuary. After passing through Braunton Burrows it was onto the first climb over Saunton Sands before dropping back down to Croyde Bay.

The next section was around Baggy Point, Woolacombe Sands and Morte Point. From there the hills get higher and steeper as it heads past Bull Point light house and Lee Bay and on to Ilfracombe.

Then it’s onto Water Mouth Cove before reaching the half way point at Combe Martin. Then it’s all the way along to Minehead from there, heading through the full length of Exmoor National Park on the way.

That section also features the longest stretch of woodland in England and Wales and the highest point on the coastline which is Culbone Hill at 433m. Plus the highest sea cliff which is Great Hangman at 244m.

Jacek and Ela make their way down the dark trails
Surrounded only by darkness, Jacek and Ela make their way along the trails with only their head torches to guide them

The climbs over the second half of the route were truly brutal. Ela did well though and managed to keep pushing all the way. She only really struggled for a few miles between 45 to 50 miles.

It was an extraordinary show of strength from Ela and she even surprised Jacek with how well she coped with the obscenely tough hills.

Crossing the line in a time of 16 hours 53 minutes and 11 seconds, Ela finished 3rd quickest overall. It was an incredible performance and of course, meant she was 1st female.

It was a huge achievement from her and showed that Jacek isn’t the only strong ultra runner in the family. He followed her in to take 4th place in a time of 16:56:03.

Jacek and Ela after North Coast 110k
The happy couple rejoice after a fantastic result in one of the toughest ultras they’re ever likely to face

Only Harry Lewthwaite, who won the race in 14:33:38 and Nathan Gregory was 2nd in 16:05:56 got round faster than Ela. The next female to come in was Kate Knill who arrived in 6th place overall and she was 1 hour and 19 minutes behind Ela.

In truth it was probably a race that Jacek could have comfortably won if he’d gone for it himself but sometimes there’s more value in running together.

He’d helped Ela achieve something monumental and been there to witness the whole thing and experience it with her. In a way, there was more value in that there would have been in winning it himself and there will no doubt be plenty more opportunities for him to win ultra races in the future.

BAC members make their mark at New Forest Marathon

Heather Khoshnevis and Helen Ambrosen in the New Forest Marathon
Heather Khoshnevis and Helen Ambrosen were amongst the Bournemouth AC contingent who featured at the New Forest Marathon event, along with Georgia Wood and Emily Coltman

It had everything you’d expect from a New Forest Marathon event… A wonderful blend of varied terrain including trail, gravel, grass and farm tracks; a beautiful rural setting with miles of unspoilt scenery; an epic tree-lined finishing straight; a choice of distances to suit runners of all abilities.

In fact, the only thing it didn’t have which you would have expected it to have, was a New Forest location. Yes, that’s right. The New Forest Marathon isn’t actually in the New Forest any more. Or at least it wasn’t for this year, or last year either.

Now staged in the picturesque grounds of the St Giles Estate, the New Forest Marathon has indeed settled into a new home. But it’s one that allows for a very COVID safe environment, with plenty of space for the athletes to wait, warm up and filter into the start area.

Last year’s New Forest Marathon was one of the first big marathon events to go ahead after COVID restrictions were being cautiously eased over the summer. And to all intents and purposes it was a huge success and a landmark occasion for races in the area.

Now the measures are a lot less stringent, it gave the athletes and race organisers more scope to focus on the running part rather than the necessary protocol they would need to follow.

Over the course of the weekend there was a 5k race, a 10k race, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon. After running the Full Marathon last year, Heather Khoshnevis was back to do it all again.

It’s a very tough course though and the terrain is certainly testing in places. She struggled a bit over the last eight miles that day but Heather did win her age category so that made it all worth while.

She was joined in the barracks by Helen Ambrosen. It was Helen’s last long run before she takes on the York Marathon, which is on the road, so this would undoubtedly serve as a very good training run for that, particularly as the terrain would be so much tougher.

Georgia Wood was also at the event and she was taking on the Half Marathon which was scheduled for the following day. She was treating it as a training run really though so wasn’t planning to go all out.

Also in action from the Bournemouth AC ranks was Emily Coltman and she was competing in the 5k race, just as she had the previous year.

And like last year, she was joined in the race by Erin Wells, who was previously a BAC member but has since transferred to Poole AC.

Erin recorded a top five finish last year and was 1st female so if she could repeat those heroics again, she would have been overjoyed.

Heather Khoshnevis in the New Forest Marathon
Heather makes her way round the two-lap route in the St Giles Estate

This time Heather enjoyed the second lap of the Marathon more than she did the first, although that was mostly due to fact that she knew she would be finishing at the end of it.

Although the grounds of the St Giles Estate are nice, Heather thinks she preferred the pre-COVID course. She found it bit boring with just bushes and trees, freshly cut corn fields and dry, loose grass.

Completing the course in a time of 4 hours 8 minutes and 36 seconds, Heather was 61st overall out of 236 participants and she was 2nd in over 60 category but 1st female.

Out of the 78 women who took part in the Marathon, Heather was 14th fastest. Her time was just over two minutes slower than the previous year but she justified that by pointing out that she is a year older!

Heather Khoshnevis after the New Forest Marathon
Heather was pleased to come in as the 1st over 60 female, although that does mean she’ll have to run it again next year!!

When crossing the finish line she had that familiar feeling runners often get where their first immediate reaction is… “never again”.  that usually soon subsides though as the sense of achievement begins to overshadow the pain that was felt in the process.

Her category win earnt her a free entry into the race next year, although it’s up for debate whether that is actually a prize or a punishment. She will endeavour to forget about how tough it was between now and then though.

Since it was described as a course with gravel trails, Helen got prepared by wearing her heavy duty trail shoes. Since she lives near Wimborne, she’d trained a lot on gravel but when going off-road there it’s usually thick gravel.

The surfaces at the New Forest Marathon were something completely different though. The route included thick grassy sections where she would have benefited from having lighter shoes.

Helen Ambrosen in the New Forest Marathon
Helen found the long grass tough to contend with but she was determined to get through it

Finding the second loop very tough going, Helen had to dig deep and show some great resolve to keep going and get to the finish. Clocking a time of 4:32:52, Helen finished 113th overall and 29th female. She was also 3rd over 60.

Even though it was tough, by the time she got back to the car, Helen already felt like she wanted to go again next year and do it better.

She found it to be a lovely venue and felt the event was extremely well organised. But she’s her own harshest critic and couldn’t help wishing she’d run better.

Georgia Wood in the New Forest Marathon Half Marathon
Georgia Wood was in action over Half Marathon distance

In the Half Marathon, Georgia finished 10th overall out of 584 competitors with her time of 1:32:36 and 2nd woman out of 301. That wasn’t a bad result at all considering she was only treating it as a training run.

Emily Trumplemann was 1st female over the line and she registered a time of 1:31:33 which put her in 8th place overall.

Georgia Wood in action in the New Forest Marathon Half Marathon
Taking 10th place overall and 2nd female, Georgia registered a time of 1:32:36

In the 5k race, Emily Coltman managed a top 10 finish this time round, securing 10th place with her time of 21:01. That saw her come in as 3rd placed female, just as she did the previous year.

Crucially though, she’d run it a minute faster and that represented progression for Emily, who is still in the junior ranks. Once again, she had impressed against predominantly adult competition.

Her dad Jason ran as well and he got round in a very good time of 20:20 which put him in 7th place overall. The week after that he would be competing in the London Marathon – and then the weekend after that – the Atlantic Coast Challenge!

Although she had a brilliant run, Erin Wells was pipped to the post for the 1st female crown this time round by Jen Granger. Jen came in 3rd overall in a time of 17:50 with Erin taking 4th place in 18:23.

Her time from last year was 19:53 though so she’d made a considerable improvement on that. Thus it was another showing of tremendous progression from a very talented young athlete.

She went on to compete for the South West in the London Mini Marathon before heading up to Birmingham for the National Road Relays.

Emily Coltman and Erin Wells in the New Forest Marathon 5k
Emily Coltman (left middle) with Erin Wells (right middle) and two New Forest Juniors

The weekend after the New Forest Marathon, Heather would go on to compete in the London Marathon, giving her very little time to recuperate and refresh.  She’s used to doing a lot of marathons though and seems to have legs of iron so it wasn’t likely to present too much of a problem for her.

Then after that she’ll be putting on her England vest and representing the EA against the Celtic teams in the York Marathon. And joining her in the York Marathon, Helen is very much looking forward to a run on much easier terrain than the thick grass she had to face at the New Forest one.

Heather Khoshnevis and Helen Ambrosen at the New Forest Marathon
It was a successful day at the races for Heather and Helen but they were certainly made to work for their medals

 

 

Simon Hunt goes back to Black Hill

Simon Hunt in the Black Hill 10k
It was a return to the peaks and troughs of Bere Regis for Simon Hunt when he lined up for the Black Hill 10k, a race he competed in in both 2019 and 2018

It’s the race that keeps drawing Simon Hunt back, even though he wasn’t originally planning on doing it this year. His Bournemouth AC teammate Kirsty Drewett had to pull out of the Black Hill 10k though last minute and offered her number up.

In for a penny, in for a pound, thought Simon, and before he knew it he was back in Bere Regis and ready for another round of the ‘slightly longer than it should be’ hilly route.

Like most events of course, it wasn’t on last year, but Simon did compete in the 2019 race, finishing in 51st place in a time of 51:45. The year before that he was 45th in a time of 51:04. These previous experiences at least gave him something to aim for in the 2021 edition.

The conditions were dry on the day so Simon hoping he might better his time from 2019. The course is a figure of a eight loop which heads round Mays Plantation and up onto the ridge before heading down the Jubilee trail to Turners Puddle.

It’s then over Kite Hill and through Piddle Wood, then down the Jubilee trail for a second time to Turners Puddle. It’s quite an undulating route as well, featuring three long climbs.

One goes on for the whole of the first mile. The next one starts at 2.5 miles and continues to around the 4.3 mile point. The last one is a slightly shorter rise starting just after 5 miles and going up to about 5.6 miles.

Simon Hunt in action in the Black Hill 10k
Simon works his way down the gravel path

The course has been the same since 2015 and it’s actually quite a bit further than 10 kilometres, It tends to come up around 6.6 miles so it’s not one to try and record your fastest 10k time on. Plus the elevation gain comes to 640ft.

This time round it took Simon 52 minutes and 45 seconds to complete the race, so he was exactly a minute off the time he ran in 2019.  That put him in 45th place in a field of 173.

He was 3rd quickest in the M65-69 category after Hamish Murray of Purbeck Runners, who was 24th overall in a time of 48:20, and Nick Brooke who was 41st in a time of 52:13.

Given that his chances to take part in any competitive races had been reduced by the COVID crisis up until quite recently, that wasn’t such a bad result for Simon.

Simon Hunt heads down the track
The off-road course provided a scenic backdrop to the proceedings

Dion Garner of Poole Runners claimed the victory, completing the course in 42:50. He was closely followed by Robert Doubleday of Poole AC who clocked in at 43:01. Then it was Ian Luke of Poole Runners taking 3rd in 43:15.

Jenny Lee of Pubeck Runners was 1st female, recording a time of 47:10 which put her 16th overall. That was just enough to see off Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners who got to the line in 47:32 to take 19th place.

Virginie Morris of Dorchester RIOT was 3rd female and 21st overall with her time of 47:42.

Simon Hunt makes his mark in the Black Hill 10k
Simon’s time of 52:45 put him in 45th place and 3rd in his age group

The event also features a Canicross 10km, a 5km race and a 3km run for the juniors. It’s essentially a fund raiser for the local scout group and they raise so much money from it that they don’t need to do any other fundraising.

The scouts made some nice cakes for the runners to have at the end of the race as well so that left Simon and the other participants with a something pleasant to think of when reflect back on their morning exertion.

Tag and Nikki let loose at Lordshill 10k

Rob McTaggart and Nikki Whittaker in the Lordshill 10k
Just a few days after a fabulous 5k at Battersea, Rob McTaggart made the short journey to Southampton with Nikki Whittaker to compete in the Lordshill 10k

Located on the outskirts of Southampton, the Oasis Academy was actually quite a quite  a convenient venue to get to for a Bournemouth AC runner, as Rob McTaggart and Nikki Whittaker found when they checked in for the Lordshill 10k.

Having not raced on the road since November 2019, it had been a while for Nikki so it would be a good opportunity for her to gage where her fitness is right now. It was a year-and-a-half since she’d raced a 10k as well it was going to be interesting to see what kind of performance she could produce.

After suffering a dip in form which saw him clock a disappointing 36 minute 10k at Eastleigh and get taken to task by Matt Brown in the Upton Summer Series, Tag had managed to find his fast feet again.

On the Thursday before the Lordshill 10k, he competed in the Friday Night Under the Lights 5k at Battersea Park. It was an event purely aimed at very fast club runners, giving them a chance to go hammer and tong over a very quick course.

Opening with a very quick first mile of 4:49, Tag wasn’t quite able to maintain such ferocious speeds over the remainder of the run but he was still very strong. Recording a 5:01 for the second mile and a 5:08 for the third mile, he made it to the finish line in a superb time of 15:33, giving him an average pace of 4:59.

It was the fastest time he’d run for a 5k off the track so it was cracking result for Tag and firmly announced his arrival back into top form. Incredibly, the standard of the field was so high though that only saw him finish in 55th place out of the 150 runners who took part.

The winning time on the night went to Sayed Taha Ghafari of Highgate who got round in an astoundingly quick 14:18. In fact, 26 of the athletes there got under 15 minutes, proving that the talent on display was spectacular.

It didn’t really leave Tag much time to recover though before competing at Lordshill three days later. The course for the Lordshill 10k was an out and back some slight downhill over the first 2.5 miles and a couple of inclines over the last 2.5 miles.

Nikki Whittaker in the Lordshill 10k
It was a while since Nikki had raced on the road but she soon got back into the swing of it

The conditions were quite cool on the day which suited Nikki well, although there was a bit of drizzle. Getting through the first 5k in 26:40, Nikki then followed that up with a 26:31 for the second 5k, so she’d managed a negative split despite the inclines towards the end.

Nikki giving her all in the Lordshill 10k
Nikki ran a very well paced run even though the second half of it was tougher on paper

That gave her a finishing time of 53:11 which put her in 295th place overall out of a 450 strong field. She was 85th fastest female out of 183 so all-in-all it was a pretty decent run from her and she was happy with the time.

Nikki Whittaker in action in the Lordshill 10k
Nikki was pleased with her finishing time of 53:11

It was Richard Waldron of Southampton who had taken control of the race and Tag was with Sebastian Hoenig of Lordshill Road Runners and Ben Saunby of City of Salisbury up until the 7km point.

Rob McTaggart in the Lordshill 10k
Tag was embroiled in a three way battle for the 2nd place

He then lost a few metres to them and was unable to get it back over the remainder of the race. The incline over the last mile didn’t really play to his strengths and the fact that he hadn’t fully recovered from his 5k exploits didn’t help.

Tag passes the pub in the Lordshill 10k
Tag is more renowned for running to the pub but on this occasion he was running past it

That meant Tag had to settle for a 4th place finish, getting to the line in a time of 33:17. Richard Waldron did take the win, clocking a time of 32:41. Sebastien Hoenig took 2nd in 32:55 and Ben Saunby was 3rd in 33:09.

Tag powers along in the Lordshill 10k
Tag didn’t even have time to stop for a pint as he zoomed past The Four Horseshoes

Sarah Sheddon of Winchester & District was first female, taking 54th place overall with her time of 39:16. Bernadette Versey of Lordshill was 2nd woman and 68th overall in 40:02, just edging out Alice Burch of Totton who was next over the line in 40:08.

A face some Bournemouth AC runners will recognise from the Tuesday training nights, Christy Murphy also ran the race. Representing New Forest Runners, he completed the course in a time of 40:14.

Christy Murphy in the Lordshill 10k
Christy Murphy, who sometimes trains with BAC, was also in action at the Lordshill 10k

Tag will now turn his attentions to the Great South Run which is just around the corner. He’ll be hoping to record a quick time there over the fast, flat, 10 mile route around Southsea and if his run at Battersea is anything to go by, he could well produce something special.

Ken and Estelle go to the Winchester Half Marathon

Ken Parradine and Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Some testing hills lay in wait for Ken Parradine and Estelle Slatford when they set off in the Winchester Half Marathon

Unlike in the popular slapstick horror movie Shaun of the Dead, there was no zombie apocalypse to worry about on this occasion when Ken Parradine and Estelle Slatford went “to the Winchester”… Half Marathon.

There were, however, some pretty scary hills to contend with on the route that were enough to give any runner the heebie-jeebies. In fact, the route encompassed 281 metres of elevation as it looped round the city, starting and finishing in the centre of Winchester outside the Guildhall.

The scenic, countryside course also takes in some famous historic landmarks including Catherine’s Hill, Winchester Cathedral and King Alfred the Great.

Having done four hill sessions in the week leading up to the race, Ken had already done his fair share of inclines before he’d even started the half marathon.

Estelle has signed up for the Run to the Sea 50 kilometre ultra so she was taking the Winchester Half Marathon as a training run for that and did a few kilometres as a warm up before heading over to the start line.

Estelle Slatford and Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle and Ken get their race underway
Estelle Slatford and Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
The BAC duo look determined as they head off

The race started with a massive hill that went on for the majority of the first three miles. Buoyed by his recent hill exploits, Ken shot up the first ascent but Estelle managed to catch up with him shortly after that.

By the time he got to the six mile point, Ken was exhausted and after that he had to stop and walk a few times during the remainder of the race, although only for about a minute or so each time.

Estelle Slatford and Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle begins to extend away from Ken
Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle gets into her stride
Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
After the first six miles Ken was really beginning to feel it
Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Ken his motor running again
Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle powers along well
Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Ken showed great spirit to keep battling away

Once she’d reached the half way point, Estelle was feeling pretty good and was really enjoying the rural nature of the course. She knew it wasn’t going to be a fast one so the pressure was off a bit from that perspective.

She did manage to crank the pace up a bit for the finish though, spurred on by a great atmosphere generated by the onlooking crowds.

Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle laps up the support from the crowd
Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle looks happy as she nears the finish

Finishing in a time of 2:01:25, Estelle came 384th overall out of 736 and was the 69th female over the line out of 246. That made her 17th quickest in the V40 category out of 78.

Estelle Slatford in the Winchester Half Marathon
Estelle reaches the finish line
Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Ken is relieved to be approaching the finish
Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Ken in full flight as he heads down the finishing straight

Completing the course in a time of 2:08:05, Ken was 472nd overall and took 3rd place in the Male V70 category. Considering he’d had to walk in places, Ken was amazed with his time.

Ken Parradine in the Winchester Half Marathon
Ken arrives at the finish line

Keeping a cool head when it mattered most, Guy Brayn of Winchester & District adopted the right strategy to claim the victory, getting round in a terrific time of 1:16:50.

That put him just over a minute ahead of James McKinnel was 2nd in 1:17:53, with Zachary Jeps of Southampton AC taking 3rd in 1:19:08.

Laura Butchart was 1st female, finishing in 1:33:36 which put her in 58th place overall. That put her just under a minute ahead of Ellie Duncalfe who was 2nd woman and 67th overall in 1:34:34. Bryony Thompson of Winchester & District was 3rd female and 70th overall with her time of 1:35:15.

Ken’s next race is the Bournemouth Half Marathon this coming weekend and he’s looking forward to the prospect of a race with fewer hills.

Having only run two marathons before Estelle is continuing her prep work for her 50k race in just over a week’s time. It will represent a big step up in distance for her and a testing challenge to overcome.

 

Chris O’Brien and Trev Elkins ramp up the pace at Romsey 5

Chris O'Brien in action at the Romsey 5
In his first race in the 50+ category, Chris O’Brien was hoping for a strong run at the Romsey 5

Known for being one of the flattest 5 mile races in the country, the Romsey 5 attracted two Bournemouth AC members over to the Broadlands Estate. They were Chris O’Brien and Trev Elkins.

It was Chris’s first non-endurance event for quite some time really and it was his first race as a V50 so it was something of a landmark occasion for him.

His aim was to run it as a sort of tempo paced training run and come away from it feeling good and strong. He was hoping it would give him a good base to build from with a view to racing harder in a couple of events over the last quarter of the year.

Trev Elkins completes the Romsey 5
After bailing out in the Southampton Half Marathon, Trev needed to bounce back with confidence boosting run at Romsey

As for Trev, he was hoping to bounce back after a disappointing display at the Southampton Half Marathon when he was feeling very off-colour.

Running at a pace he would normally expect to hold quite comfortably, he was struggling maintain it and his body felt weak. He was sweating a lot and overheating as well and his calves had begun to cramp up.

Feeling like he had no other option, Trev abandoned the race and had to come away from it without even so much as a t-shirt or a medal.

Although he’d been concentrating on his daddy duties of late, with a new-born son to look after, Trev was hoping the Romsey 5 might still provide him with some redemption.

Trev Elkins featuring in the Romsey 5
Trev was looking to run the Romsey 5 at around threshold sort of pace

He’d competed in the Romsey 5 three times before so he knew what to expect from the three lap route round the Broadlands Estate. His best time thus far was 30:52

He did have a cold on the day though which was bound to make it tough to find his best form. Despite that though, he still managed to complete every mile of the race except one sub-6-minute pace, which was pretty strong.

In fact, it was enough to see him claim 14th place overall, securing a solid sub-30-minute effort. With a time of 29:52, Trev was fairly pleased with the way he performed and he managed to keep it fairly controlled throughout.

Trev Elkins finishes the Romsey 5
Arriving at the finish line in 14th place, it was a good sub-30 minute time from Trev

Going at between 6:20 and 6:25 pace for the first four miles, Chris was keeping it very consistent. He slowed slightly in the 5th mile but then picked it up again right at the end.

That gave Chris a finishing time of 32:57 which put him in 41st position overall and 9th in the 50-59 category. A total of 538 runners successfully completed the course that day.

Chris O'Brien comes in to complete the Romsey 5
Chris managed to get in in a time of just under 33 minutes

The race win went to Ben Brown of Southampton and it was a resounding victory in the end for him, getting to the line in a super quick time of 24:20.

The next man to come in was his teammate Tom Scully who was nearly 3 minutes back. He clocked a time of 27:14. Then it was Gareth Baker of Windle Valley Runners in 3rd, registering a time of 27:40.

Chris O'Brien finishing strongly in the Romsey 5
Chris arrives at the finish after a good, solid run and a firm base to build from

The first female to complete the course was Erin Willmers of Winchester & District and she claimed 10th place overall with her time of 29:32.

The next woman to come in was Sarah Kingston of Southampton and she got round in a time of 31:29 to take 24th place overall.

Chris O'Brien battling well in the Romsey 5
Chris enjoyed being back in racing action and it won’t be long before he’s back on the start in the Bournemouth Half

Trev was glad to have seen the race through this time and to have managed it at roughly his threshold sort of pace. He’s now looking forward to the Great South Run which is not far away now.

Pleased to have achieved his goal of feeling good and strong, Chris will now turn his attention to the Run Bournemouth Half Marathon which is on this weekend. He’ll be hoping to work a bit harder there and give himself the chance of recording a decent time in that one.

JC goes in for second course at Three Mealls Trail Race 18K

JC crosses the line in the Three Mealls Trail Race
There was a very tough and tricky run in store for Jacek Cieluszecki as he took on the 18km Three Mealls Trails Race

There wasn’t much time to recover for Jacek Cieluszecki after his incredible Mamores VK run, or the 15 miler he did afterwards, before he was thrust back into action in the Three Mealls Trail Race.

The Three Mealls Trail Race is described as one of Skyline Scotland’s boldest – which is certainly saying something. There was a rocky path with steps first, then it went across some very boggy grass fields and the descents were pretty technical. Even JC found it tough.

The first five miles were very hilly as well, with the total elevation reaching 2,400ft. The first mile was the toughest, with an extremely steep vertical that featured 780ft of ascent.

Jacek Cieluszecki in the Three Mealls Trail Race
It was a route of varying terrain that would very much put JC through his paces

The route crosses the intake of Loch Ellde Mor before heading down a single track path the winds behind the three Meall-named hills. It’s then onto a bounding descent where the Blackwater Dam can be seen straight ahead.

It’s then onto Claran Path leading down the glen of the River Leven on a trail that gradually descends back to sea level. That just leaves a short dash to the edge of Kinlockleven where the finish line awaits.

Running his own race, Jacek went out fairly hard but not too crazy. The first two guys were out of reach though. They were clearly experienced on this type of terrain and possessed good fell running and mountain skills.

JC was losing a lot of distance to them on the descents. He’s better than he was two or three years ago but compared to the very top level fell runners he is still found wanting.

There was a lot of downhill over the last six miles as well so being strong on the descents made all the difference.

Jacek Cieluszecki heads along the path in the Three Mealls Trail Race
Jacek was good on the climbing parts but was losing ground on the descents

Completing the course in a time of 1 hour 46 minutes and 18 seconds, Jacek was 5th fastest overall in a field of 307 runners. It was a good achievement given the calibre of athlete he was up against. He was also 1st M40 as well which was something else to be proud of.

Jacek’s wife Ela also ran and she finished in 150th place with a time of 2:38:25. She was happy with her run considering she’s not a massive fan of that type of terrain. She finished with a smile though and that’s what counts.

Finn Lydon picked up the win, completing the course in a remarkable time of 1:35:19. That saw him come in almost five minutes ahead of his nearest rival. That was Tom Lines and he crossed the line in 1:40:08.

Matt Clark was 3rd in 1:43:07  with Chris Bruchhausen taking 4th in 1:45:59. The first female to finish was Ellen Downs who came in at 1:56:35. That put her 14th overall. She was followed by Kirsty Campbell who clocked a time of 1:59:01 to come in 18th overall.

Jacek Cieluszecki finishes the Three Mealls Trail Race
JC did very well to cross the line in 5th place overall with a time of 1:46:18

In truth they were expecting it to be more like a standard trail race, but it wasn’t. It was the Scottish version which of course meant it would be extremely tough.

It was actually the same day as the Ben Nevis Ultra race which was 52km. The winner of that completed it in 7 hours 40 minutes. The following day Jacek and Ela went hiking up Ben Nevis on a route that took them up 4,300ft of vertical.

They very enjoyed their time in the Scottish Highlands, covering many many miles and climbing hills and mountains aplenty. For JC, that’s pretty much a recipe for the perfect holiday.

JC after completing the Three Mealls Trail Race
It rounded off a splendid week of training and racing for JC as he experienced the beauty and brutality of the Scottish Highlands