Category Archives: Road_Reports

Tag and Szymon rip round Reading Half Marathon

Rob McTaggart and Szymon Chojnacki in the Reading Half Marathon
Two Bournemouth AC speed merchants were in action at the Reading Half Marathon with Rob McTaggart and Szymon Chojnacki both hoping for quick times

With a highly competitive field ready to do battle over a fast and furious road route round the town, the Reading Half Marathon looked a decent prospect of a good time for any in-form athletes.

Two of Bournemouth AC‘s top tier talents were amongst the 6,000 plus runners looking to reach their potential and make their mark in the big showdown.

They were of course, none other than one the fastest half marathon runners in the club, Mr Rob McTaggart, and the effervescent new kid on the block, Szymon Chojnacki.

Both men had been showing signs of good form coming into the race, with Szymon stealing the show in the Run Bournemouth Supersonic 10k, racing to a 34:38 time to seal the victory.

Then the weekend after that he picked up another win in the 303 Squadron Memorial Run 5k in Feltham.

A blistering battle between Dom Willmore of Poole AC and Scott Cousins of Springfield Striders left Rob McTaggart with a lonely lollop round for 3rd place in the Run Bournemouth Half Marathon.

Dom and Scott ended up pushing each other to incredible times of 1:07:30 and 1:07:40 respectively leaving Tag trailing by some distance. Once he knew he’d have to settle for 3rd, he was able to take his foot of the gas and save his legs for the Great South Run the week after though.

Despite that, he still registered a very quick time of 1:11:49, demonstrating that he was very much in line for a fast time in the right set of circumstances. He was hoping the Reading Half Marathon would present him with the scope to do that.

The following weekend he ran a time of 53:44 in the Great South Run to take 32nd place. He didn’t really feel he had a good run on the day though and knew that with his current level of fitness, he should have been able to go faster.

The Reading Half Marathon route featured a grandstand finish at the Madejski Stadium – home to Reading Football Club – with the course taking in the University of the Reading, Prospect Park and Coley Recreation Ground. It also took the runners past Reading Train Station and Reading West.

The first mile was a very quick one, with Tag getting through it in just 5 minutes and 5 seconds. After that it was a slight incline for the second mile before hitting a steeper curve in the third mile.

Rob McTaggart in action at the Reading Half Marathon -
Tag ended up running virtually the whole race on his own

Sometimes the way a race pans out can hinge on one split-second decision. Tag had been running with a group but when he hit the hill on the third mile, he elected to ease off a touch and let the group go ahead.

Aware that hills aren’t really his strong point, he didn’t want to risk putting himself into the red so early and having to suffer for the remainder of the race.

What happened though was that wasn’t able to catch the group back up afterwards and ended up in no man’s land again. Without anyone to push him on, Tag struggled to find the intensity and slipped off the pace he might otherwise have hoped to maintain.

He ran really well over the last few miles though and managed to reel in and overtake four other runners before getting to the line in a time in a mightily impressive time of 1:10:48.

Rob McTaggart in the Reading Half Marathon
Tag did very well to up the pace over the last few miles and gain some places

That put him in 28th place overall and although he would have liked to have gotten closer to his PB time of 1:08:29, it wasn’t really the right course for that.

It was a very good performance though, nonetheless and represented great progress from the form he was in over the summer when he was really struggling to find top gear.

Szymon opened with a ferociously fast first mile at 5:32 pace. He was then looking at a speed of around 5:45 to 5:50 for the next six miles, except for the third mile that had the steeper part of the incline.

Szymon Chojnacki in the Reading Half Marathon
Szymon (1001) made a very quick start and his intentions were clear from the outset

The ninth mile also had a bit of an incline so that was slightly slower but the rest of the remaining miles were done at around 6 minute mile pace which was still very strong from Szymon.

That culminated in a magnificent finishing time of 1:17:15 which put him in 89th place. Given the standard of the opposition he was up against, that was a pretty good result for Szymon.

His fastest half marathon though was Ranelagh Richmond which he completed in 1:15:25 so that was the sort of time he was aiming for. On a course that wasn’t completely flat though, it was one of those where Szymon should still feel proud of what he’d achieved whilst knowing that there’s still scope for improvement.

Szymon Chojnacki taking on the Reading Half Marathon
Szymon was going well and managed to keep the pace strong throughout

Twemlow Track Club man Richard Swindlehurst was also competing and he had a decent run to finish in a time of 1:17:48, which put him in 103rd place.

It was Omar Ahmed who picked up the win in an astonishing time of 1:02:14. He was the man who just managed to get the better of Grant Sheldon in the Speedway 10k in the summer.

His lead was over a minute ahead of Paulos Surafel who was 2nd in 1:03:18. Then it was Joshua Grace who took 3rd in 1:05:14, with Jonathan Cornish of Hercules Wimbledown in 4th with a 1:05:21.

Alex Tueten of Southampton finished in 7th place, getting over the line in 1:06:25. Phillipa Bowden was top woman, completing the course in 1:13:29.

Naomi Mitchell was 2nd female in 1:14:25, with Michelle Pearson following in soon after to take 3rd lady spot in 1:14:42.

The fact that both Tag and Szymon, despite running such quick times, can still be disappointed with their end results illustrates the high standards that they set for themselves. And that’s probably partly why they are where they are in running terms. They are always striving for better and never settling for anything less than the best that they can possibly be.

Next up for Tag, he would be back on more familiar ground, looking to bring home the bacon in the Wimborne 10.

As for Szymon, he would be in action in the first Hampshire Cross Country League fixture of the season at Kings Park before heading back to Poland for the Łódzkie Mountain Run 10.5km.

 

A fond farewell to a true BAC great

Andy Gillespie in the Jurassic Coast Challenge
Andy Gillespie was in his element when heading up hugely steep climbs over glorious coastal landscape

It was with much sadness and the deepest of regret that we learned of the passing of a much loved and well respected member of the Bournemouth AC road runners group in Andy Gillespie.

Andy was a veteran of an incredible 115 marathons, with his last three completed in October at the Atlantic Coast Challenge. On top of being very committed and dedicated in his marathon running Andy was also very much a ‘club’ man. He loved Bournemouth AC and really enjoyed being part of a team.

Andy Gillespie finishing the Littledown 5
Andy always gave his best for the team in the league races he took part in

Whenever there was a club organised event that required any helpers or marshals, Andy was always always the first person to respond to the call and offer to give up him time. And also, whilst he openly admitted that he wasn’t one of the faster runners in the club, if there was ever a time when he was needed to make up a scoring team for a road race league fixture or any other event, he would be right there.

He was always reliable and committed to helping the club in any way he could. That speaks volumes about Andy as a person. He was very caring and willing to put the needs of others before his own.

Andy Gillespie finishing the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon
Andy arrives at finish with a smile on his face as he always did

One of the great things about running is, there’s something out there for everyone. Regardless of age, gender, weight, fitness, speed. Everyone can find something to suit them. Something they excel in. Andy’s niche was the three coastal marathons in three day events.

He always loved those and they were a source of great happiness to him. What he lacked in speed, he made up for in tenacity, stamina and staying power. He simply never quit. No matter how tough it got. In fact, he boasted a proud record of never having a single DNF to his name. In all those 115 marathons. That was a record that no ordinary man could have set.

Andy Gillespie in the Devon Coast Challenge
Andy enjoying his journey during the Devon Coast Challenge

This was illustrated well in his penultimate event, the Jurassic Coast Challenge. Andy went into that one after suffering a recent hamstring injury which was a concern to him. He was hoping it would be okay but within the first 10 seconds of his first marathon of the three, his hamstring went.

That left him with a lot of pain to endure for the rest of the run. But of course, he wasn’t about to let his no DNF record slip. Not only did he complete that marathon, he went on to do the other two days as well, despite the immense pain he was in.

Most of us mere mortals would have difficulty doing the three marathons in three days over that kind of hilly terrain when fully fit. But doing it with a torn hamstring would be simply unfathomable. There was no stopping Andy though.

In his final event, the Atlantic Coast Challenge, Andy had a couple of nasty falls and had some serious cuts on his arms and legs. But he soldiered on regardless. He said it was all part of the fun.

Andy Gillespie making his way across the sand in the Atlantic Coast Challenge
Andy makes is way across the sand at Perranporth on Day 1 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge

One of Andy’s most endearing qualities was that he didn’t take himself too seriously. He was a very humble man. Very honest and forthright. He had a wonderful dry sense of humour and was very witty with it. And he was able to laugh at himself – and did so often!

He also recognized that running was supposed to be a fun activity. It should be something we can take pleasure in and that’s something many of us forget from time to time.

He was never short of a funny story to tell from his marathon adventures. In fact, in his last event he said it was the funniest sight ever – five ultra runners going up and down and road searching for a “virtual” checkpoint!! Sadly, we never got to hear the full story of that one.

Another admirable aspect of Andy’s character was his integrity. Despite the fact that he had to get through three very difficult marathons in three days with an enormous amount of elevation and over extremely tough terrain, he never cut a corner.

He always ensured he did the full route and if he saw that others had cheated, he was often tempted to call them out. He still had a very competitive edge to him but he believed in the fairness of competition. He wanted to earn his position.

Andy Gillespie on Day 2 of the Jurassic Coast Challenge
Making his way along coastal paths become second nature to Andy and he got to know the routes very well

It wasn’t enough of a challenge to him just to complete the three marathons in three days. He knew he was going to do that. He wanted to do it as quickly as he could though and finish as high up in the standings as he could.

Usually in those types of events, where you have to self navigate, it can be very frustrating and upsetting if you go the wrong way and get lost and end up adding on some extra mileage. Whenever that happened to Andy though, he never got distressed or annoyed about it. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He said it gave him more bang for his buck!!

One of Andy’s proudest achievements in running was when he completed his 100th marathon in August 2019 at the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 event. That was a 50km race and it was a very special moment for Andy as he crossed the finishing line with his granddaughter, hand in hand.

Andy Gillespie with his granddaughter in 54321 Salisbury
Andy is accompanied by his granddaughter as he comes in to complete his 100th marathon

After the race he was presented with his 100 Marathon Club Medal and t-shirt and some of the other runners joined him to celebrate with a piece of his magnificent 100 Marathon cake.

It was only in 2004 that Andy ran his first ever marathon, so he’d actually managed to complete all 100 marathons in the space of 15 years. That’s an average of almost 7 per year which takes a lot of commitment.

Andy Gillespie is presented with his 100 Marathon Club medal and t-shirt
Andy gets presented with his 100 Marathon Club medal and t-shirt after the 5-4-3-2-1 Salisbury

Thank you for the memories, Andy. And thank you for the huge contribution you have made to club over the years. And for enriching our lives with your presence. You will be greatly missed.

Yes, Andy may be gone, but he will live forever in the hearts of all who knew him at BAC. As I’m sure he will his friends and of course his family as well. Life is a marathon and not a sprint. And of course, being a marathon, he simply had to finish it! Rest in peace Andy.

Bournemouth AC Team at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon
Andy loved being part of the team and being surrounded by his Bournemouth AC comrades

JC finally finds the route to success in The Stickler

Jacek Cieluszecki takes on The Stickler
Jacek Cieluszecki was looking to finally record the victory he so richly deserved at the third time of asking when he set off to tackle the sumptuous slopes of The Stickler

After having his two previous attempts at winning The Stickler cruelly foiled, when he lined up for the 2021 edition, Jacek Cieluszecki was hoping it might be third time lucky on this occasion.

The disappointing aspect of not winning his two previous attempts was that it wasn’t his fault. On both occasions, it was due to marshalling or course mix ups that prevented him from realising his objective.

The closest he came to winning was in the 2018 race, where he was way out front and was on course for an emphatic victory. The problem was though that he was going so fast he actually beat one of the marshals to their post and as a consequence, missed the turning and carried straight on.

By the time he realised he must have gone the wrong way, it was too late and he would’ve had a long way to go in order to get back on track.

The following year he was out front again, but this time he was with Lee Dempster and Stuart Holloway of City of Salisbury. Soon after the first big climb up the Stickle Path, they got sent the wrong way by a rogue marshal, masquerading as one of the official race crew.

One of the real marshals then noticed they had gone the wrong way and rushed over the tell them. They turned to find their way back to the designated route but it caused complete chaos and some of the runners ended up cutting off a section of the course and thus not completing the full distance.

Jacek did do the full distance but he had to claw his way back towards the front of the race from quite far back and it scuppered his hopes of winning. This year he was determined to get it right though.

Jacek had already won one very hilly 10 mile race this year when he claimed victory in the CapTEN, a race that incorporated two of the highest points in the South West, Thorncombe Beacon and Golden Cap.

Setting a new course record that day, he finished over six minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

There had been a lot of rain the night before The Stickler, as well as on the morning of the race itself and that had left the course waterlogged and muddy in places.

It was actually the same day that the Bournemouth 10 was cancelled on, partly due to the conditions. Luckily The Stickler started a bit later though and the storm had cleared by the time it was due to get underway.

The course is just over 10 miles in length and includes 1,700ft of climbing, beginning with the infamous ‘Stickle Path’. There are three massive peaks to negotiate during the race. They are Okeford Beacon, Hod Hill and Hambledon.

What’s impressive about JC’s running is that he’s still able to go at a very quick pace, even on an incline. For instance, the first mile is almost all uphill, with some of it being very steep, yet he still managed to get through it at under 7 minute mile pace.

Then when he gets to the top of the hill and he gets back on the flat or on a descent, the hill doesn’t seem to have taken that much out of him and he’s still able to run really fast.

JC reaches the top of the first big climb
JC reaches the top of the first big climb of Okeford Beacon

His third and fourth miles were done at 5:36 and 5:20 pace before he headed back up the smaller climb on the 5th mile and 6:09 pace. He was then back at 5:37 pace for the sixth mile as he headed back down.

Although Jacek was in the lead, Chris Peck of Egdon Heath Harriers was hot on his heals throughout the first half of the race so he knew he couldn’t afford to let up.

On the last two crucial climbs though, which were Hod and Hambledon, JC managed to exert his authority and extend away from Chris.

Managing to get through the next two miles that included those two climbs in 7:30 and 8 minute mile pace, Jacek managed to open a gap of almost two minutes between himself and Chris.

From that point on it was all academic. He headed back down Hambledon at 5:31 pace for the 9th mile. The last mile took him through a grass field that was extremely waterlogged.

In fact a small river had risen up and flooded the field which left a very large and very deep puddle that the runners had to wade through, or swim through if they so desired, as Sarah Swift of Poole Runners did. Luckily she’d brought her goggles and swimming hat just in case.

Despite all that, Jacek got through the last mile in 6:11. That saw him hit the finish in a time of 1:04:46 to take a resounding victory, with Chris arriving at the line almost two minutes later in 1:06:42.

Tristan Cooper took 3rd place in 1:07:27, which Charles Ford laying claim to 4th place with his time of 1:09:37.

Jacek Cieluszecki on his way to winning The Stickler
Jacek had a small advantage at first but extended his lead on the final two climbs

Jacek’s average pace for the run was 6:26 minutes per mile which, considering he’d tackled almost 1,700ft of climbing and had to face some very tough conditions, was an amazing result.

Mark Packer of Littledown Harriers was also in the mix, finishing in 9th place with a time of 1:15:11. Matthew Bosanquet of Lytchett Manor Striders was 11th in a time of 1:16:39 with Steve Claxton of Poole Runners taking 12th in 1:17:11.

Paolo De Luca, also of Littledown Harriers crossed the line in 19th place in a time of 1:19:43.

Molly Rasch took first female spot, getting round in 1:19:48 which put her 22nd overall. The next women to reach the finish was Jenny Lee Marshall of Purbeck Runners who was 36th in a time of 1:22:47.

Tracy Cook of Dorset Doddlers was 3rd female, registering a time of 1:25:23.

A total of 383 runners took part in the race. It would have been more but the floods and road closures prevented some of the runners from getting to the start line.

It was both a relief and a moment of great joy for JC to finally get the victory he’d been craving for three years. He can now put the mishaps of 2018 and 2019 behind him, knowing that he can finally call himself the official champion of The Stickler and, after what has gone before, never has there been such a worthy winner.

 

JC shows supremacy in Sika Trail Run 10k

Jacek Cieluszecki in the Sika Trail 10k
Looking to get back to winning ways, Jacek Cieluszecki was back on local turf at Wareham Forest for the Sika Trail Run 10k

After venturing over to Exmoor for the North Coast 110km Ultra and the Scottish Highlands for the Saloman Mamores Vertical Kilometre and Three Mealls Trail Race, Jacek Cieluszecki and his wife Ela were back on familiar ground for the Sika Trail Run 10k.

The race was organised by Ultimate Fitness, a gym in Dorchester, and was located at Wareham Forest. Jacek goes to Wareham Forest quite regularly for runs with Ela and he really likes it there so it was the ideal race for him.

Setting his stall out early on, Jacek blasted through the first mile at 5:16 pace. It was a speed that very few runners would be able to live with in an off-road race.

He then completed all the remaining miles at around 5:30 pace or slightly under which gave him an astonishingly quick finishing time of 33:49.

For an off-road 10k that was mightily impressive. It was pretty much like a time trial for JC as no one else could get anywhere near him on that sort of form.

In fact, he was 3-and-a-half minutes ahead of his nearest rival Paul Hilton who runs for Lytchett Manor Striders. Paul took 2nd place in a time of 37:27. Then it was Daniel Thomas taking 3rd in 38:57.

JC coasts in the for the win in the Sika Trail 10k
Jacek made short work of the Sika Trail Run route, tearing through it at a tremendous speed

It was about as resounding a victory you’re ever likely to see in a 10k race for JC. He was expecting to perhaps come in under 35 minutes but to produce the time he did on that sort of terrain actually surprised him somewhat.

Jacek’s wife Ela had been first female in the North Coat 110k so she’d already had a taste of winning a tough trail race. She very nearly repeated those heroics in the Sika Trail Run but was denied by Annie Wooldridge who got round in 46:34.

That put her in 9th place overall. Ela arrived just over a minute later to take 12th overall, clocking a time of 47:46. Carly Forward of Dorchester Riot proved she was fast enough to claim 3rd female spot in 49:05. A total of 117 runners successfully completed the course.

Jacek Cieluszecki in full flight in the Sika Trail 10k
Jacek was so far out in front that it was like a time trial for him as opposed to a race against others

It was another very successful day for Jacek and Ela and they had every reason to celebrate the fantastic results they had each achieved.

Next up for JC, it was the slightly tougher prospect of The Stickler. That was on the followed weekend, and quite fittingly taking place of Halloween.

The Stickler is a very hilly 10 mile route that is a notoriously difficult race to get to grips with. Having gone the wrong way the last couple of times he was hoping it would be third time lucky and he would find the correct path this time round.

Stu Nicholas on fire in Phoenix Running Medusa Marathon double

Stu Nicholas in the Medusa Silver Gorgon
It was a marathon double header for Stu Nicholas when he ran riot along the River Thames in the Phoenix Running ‘Medusa’ marathons

Famed for their spectacular medal designs, Phoenix Running pull all the stops out each year to conjure up something truly special and enticing. The aim is to produce a medal that will stand out amongst all the others on the rack.

In 2018 they had the Explorer, which featured the world’s largest finisher’s medal. In 2019 they had the Golden Phoenix and the Silver Phoenix which were 3D and arguably their best medals ever. Then in 2020 they had medals for the Almighty with the God of Thunder and the Wrath of Poseidon.

In 2021 they continued the tradition of pushing the boundaries of medal production with the Medusa!! And the Medusa might just have been their finest medal yet, which is quite a statement.

One man on the lookout for something bang tidy to add to his bling collection was Bournemouth AC‘s very own marathon maestro Stu Nicholas. Stu has already reached 50 marathon mark after completing 14 of them in 2018 to achieve his target.

He’s also done a couple of 100 kilometre ultra marathons as well, the last of which he did a few months back in the Roseland August Trail Plague. He didn’t have his best of runs that day and the weather was atrocious but he showed great character to get through it regardless.

On the weekend of Phoenix Running’s Medusa, Stu wasn’t look for an easy passage to get hold of the medals. He was going to really earn them by running back to back marathons on the Saturday and the Sunday.

This wasn’t something that was completely alien to him. He had done back to back marathons before, and in fact, had even won them both before. He did that at the Winter Enigma at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. Running back to back marathons was still a task that was never going to be easy, no matter what the experience or skill level.

Stu Nicholas taking on the Medusa Silver Gorgon
It was a big weekend of running in store for Stu but if anyone was capable of coping with it, it was him

The races were conducted on a 3.28 mile out and back route along the River Thames. The first one was the Silver Gorgon, where the medal was presented in an antique silver finish. Stu was going along pretty well at just under 7 minutes per mile for the majority of the race.

However, a dodgy lasagne the previous evening left him with some stomach difficulties on the way round. That meant taking an emergency pitstop during the run but he kept going well and did his best to push on through.

Stu Nicholas heads down the tow path
A dodgy lasagne the night before made the race a touch more difficult and uncomfortable for Stu

The culminated in him completing the marathon in a time of 3 hours 7 minutes and 47 seconds with an average pace of 7:10 minutes per mile, despite the stoppage. That was enough to give him an emphatic win, with his nearest rivals taking almost an hour longer to complete the marathon distance.

It was an excellent win for Stu but at that point the job was only half done. He had to turn up the following day and do it all over again. This time it was the Golden Gorgon – which would earn him a medal in an antique gold/brass finish.

Stu with his Medusa Silver Gorgon medal
There it is!… The ‘Medusa’ Silver Gorgon medal in all its glory

The question was, could his legs hack it after the previous day’s exploits?… There was only one way to find out!!

Taking it a bit easier for the first four miles, he seemed to get into his stride after that and from that point on his pacing was strong and consistent. Getting through most of the miles at between 7 and 7:15 pace, he was going very well.

Stu Nicholas zooms along by the River Thames
Stu heads down the tow path he went down many times over the course of the weekend

At least this time he didn’t require any Imodium either and his stomach remained in tact for the duration. Other than his legs being sore he wasn’t feeling any ill effects from the previous day’s marathon.

Finishing in a time of 3 hours 12 minutes and 5 seconds, it was another fantastic performance from Stu. Again, there was no one else in the field who was able to challenge his supremacy. The second placed runner, Robert Mole, dug in well to complete the distance in 3:38:48 but he was over 26 minutes behind Stu.

Stu completes another lap in the Medusa Silver Gorgon
It must have felt like groundhog day for Stu each time he came round to complete another lap

That meant Stu had done the double and won both marathons back to back, which was quite some achievement. Even though it wasn’t a high standard of competition, by doing the two races back to back Stu had certainly found a way to challenge himself and well and truly earn the massive medals he received as a result.

He probably won’t mind if he doesn’t run along that stretch of the River Thames again for quite some time though!

Stu clutches his Medusa Golden Gorgon medal
Stu proudly poses with his second ‘Medusa’ marathon medal of the weekend after the Golden Gorgon

Harry Smith takes Thames Trot Ultra in his stride

Harry Smith and Jack Searl in the Thames Trot Ultra
It was a terrifying task that would take Harry Smith and his friend Jack Searl beyond any distance they probably imagined they would ever run

Ever fancied a 47 mile run along the banks of England’s largest river?… Anyone?… Well Harry Smith has – and he did just that when he lined up for the Thames Trot Ultra.

The route is a point to point trek from Iffley in Oxfordshire to Henley on Thames using both the Thames Path and the Ridgeway National Trails.

It was predominantly flat the whole way but very muddy in places which presented a real challenge when covering that sort of distance. Harry tackled the daunting distance with his friend Jack Searl and they went in with the aim to ‘complete rather than complete’.

It wasn’t Harry’s first attempt at an ultra marathon. He’d done a few 50 kilometre races before. In fact, soon after he first joined Bournemouth AC he won the Race for the Tide 50k which takes place in Bournemouth, heading out from Ringwood and finishing at Hegistbury Head.

Putting in a very impressive performance that day, announcing himself on the south coast racing scene in style. Ever since then he’s gone from strength to strength, winning triathlons and duathlons and taking first place in the MK Rocket 5K at Milton Keynes and the Shere Half Marathon in Surrey. He’d also recorded a superb sub-32-minute 10k at Eastleigh and and 10 mile best of 54:04 at the Great South Run.

The kind of speeds he was touching on in those races though were not going to be possible in the Thames Trot Ultra. In this one he had to take it slow and steady to give himself a chance of going the full distance.

That meant he was very rarely going under 8 minutes per mile which must have seemed quite slow for him. It was about being disciplined though and he showed he was able to do that when required.

Up till the point he reached marathon distance, the vast majority of his miles had been between 8 and 8:30 sort of pace. It fluctuated a bit more after that as he trooped on for the remaining 20 miles or so but it was all about just making it to the line. That would be a huge achievement in itself.

Harry and Jack in action at the Thames Trot Ultra
The main goal as far as Harry was concerned was to ‘complete’ rather than ‘compete’

Fueled by donuts and crisps, the diet of a true champion, Harry managed to see it through till the end and he and Jack completed the full 47 mile course. And what’s more, they’d done it in a good time as well, going all the way in 7 hours 21 minutes and 47 seconds. That put them in 9th place overall out of 136 participants.

With an average pace of 9:24, it very good, solid attempt from Harry considering it was his first time at that sort of distance. Only 109 of the 136 runners successful completed the full course which illustrates how tough it was.

At the front of the field it was a very close race in the end between Rob Payne and Alexander Whearity, with Rob just edging it in the end. His time of 5:47:14 gave him a 29 second margin of victory over Alexander in the end.

Harry Smith and Jack Searl after the Thames Trot Ultra
It was a successful day for Harry and Jack as they completed the full 47 mile route in 7 hours 21 minutes and 47 seconds

Maxime Lelong proved to have enough endurance to seal 3rd spot in a time of 5:55:33. Then it was Philip Avery arriving at the line in 4th place in a time of 6:17:25.

Ruth Hawkins swooped in to take the 1st female spot and 5th position overall in a time of 7:02:35. that put her 22 minutes ahead of Rachel Piper who came in Just behind Harry and Jack to claim 2nd female spot.

After that it was all about recovering well and recuperating quickly for Harry is he looked to get himself into mint condition for the beginning of the Hampshire Cross Country League season, with the first fixture being Bournemouth AC’s home race at Kings Park.

Linn revels in running renaissance at Autumn 100

Linn Eixon Sahlström in the Centurion Running Autumn 100
It had been a while since Linn Erixon Sahlström had ventured out for one of her crazy ultras but the when the Centurion Running Autumn 100 came round it was time for her to get back on her feet

Sometimes it the winning of trophies or the earning of medals that is the important thing. Sometimes it can be overcoming of a mental obstacle that means the most. That was certainly the case for Linn Erixon Sahlström when she took to the start line for the Centurion Running Autumn 100.

Ever since she suffered a really nasty fall and injured herself badly on the slopes on Snowdon, Linn had lost her confidence and her mojo as a runner.

The following year was full of cancelled races which meant she didn’t really have the opportunity to get out there and arrest those demons. The year after that she was busy with other aspects of life, including getting married, becoming an animal chiropractor and acquiring a puppy, which meant she had no time to devote to racing.

Therefore, when she returned to Goring for the third time for the Centurion Running Autumn 100, it was to be her comeback race. Usually Linn looks to finish in a high position and challenge for the first female spot in ultras but since she hadn’t done any for such a long time, this one was really just about finishing.

In many ways, it was do or die for Linn. She was either going to accept that running longer distances were now a thing of the past, or she was going to rediscover the magic again and enjoy the freedom of movement.

Whilst she may have had zero expectations going into the race, Linn did have plenty of nerves but she felt like she had to give herself the chance to enjoy the simplicity of running again. After all, the competition was fierce and Linn had never really seen herself as a fast runner. She felt she was more of a slogger with a Viking mentality and a fair amount of luck.

The course for the Autumn 100 reflected the shape of a cross, featuring for 25 mile out and back spurs upon sections of both the Ridgeway and Thames Path National Trails.

The route started at Goring, first heading to Little Wittenham and back along the Thames Path. It was then out to Swyncombe Farm on the Ridgeway before heading back to Goring again. Then it was back on the Ridgeway to Chain Hill, again returning to Goring for the final out and back on the Thames Path to Reading.

Theoretically the course is quite flat and fast if the conditions are good but the runners did have to face 13 hours of darkness which would test them to their limits.

Fortunately for Linn, it was just one of those days where everything flows and things just fall into place. Her attitude was to embrace everything. Even the bee sting on a neck she suffered on the first leg.

She embraced the fact that she remembered how to run, despite being a 45 year old woman who was a bit slower but had a body that will do incredible things when I asked to. She embraced the fact that her mind kept her going when it got tough.

Linn going strong in the Centurion Running Autumn 100
Linn was glad to be back in full swing and made the most of every moment

The staggered start meant that Linn had no idea who out of the runners that were physically behind her were actually in front of her in racing terms.

She was chasing ultra running extraordinaire Debbie Martin-Consani but all she got was high fives when she sailed past her in the opposite direction.

Linn going strong in the Centurion Running Autumn 100
It was all coming together nicely for Linn as she moved through the course

With 20km to go, Linn was told she had a chance of third place female but she’d have leg it, literally. As much as she loves racing, trying to finish fast after already having run 140km was a new game for her. But magic does happen.

The woman challenging Linn for third place was Alysia Sawicka. She wasn’t sure where exactly they stood in the race but one thing was for certain and that was that she needed to keep Alysia behind her. She couldn’t afford to get caught.

Linn gives the thumbs up in the Centurion Running Autumn 100
As she got closer to the end, it became more of a race for Linn as she realised what was at stake

Knowing she had to go for broke in that last section from Pangbourne, it was set up for an enthralling end to the proceedings for Linn.

As she passed the final checkpoint and went over the bridge she could see two head torches behind her, closing in at a scary speed. Although there were a few undulations over the latter stages, Linn knew it was either run or die.

Somehow a primal instinct kicked in and the adrenaline took over. Despite having a dodgy headtorch that needed charging, Linn found an extra gear. She ran for her life, praying not to stumble on any roots again or fall into the Thames. She didn’t really fancy a swim at that point.

Linn Eixon Sahlström in action in the Centurion Running Autumn 100
When required to do so, Linn was able to turn it on and find an extra gear

The reality was that with four miles to go Linn was actually eight minutes behind Alysia so she had a huge deficit to turn around in the latter stages of the race but she was very determined.

She passed a few guys who, either out of courtesy or fear, stepped aside when they saw the determination in her stride and heard her heavy breathing.

As she crossed the finish line in a sprint like fashion, Linn felt relieved and a tad emotional. After all, crossing that finish line was all the mattered really. It meant she had won her own mental challenge and that was huge.

Finishing in a time of 19 hours 5 minutes and 51 seconds was also a fabulous result for Linn. She could scarcely believe it had gone so well after not managing anything like the sort of training she’d usually put in for a race like that.

The ecstasy of completing a 100 mile race
The ecstasy of completing the 100 mile race was a feeling to savour for Linn

Around 13 minutes later, Alysa arrived at the finish. She’d started quite a bit after Linn though so at that point they had no way of knowing her had actually taken third place and faced an anxious wait to find out.

Sure enough, it turned out that it was Linn who had won the battle for that all important podium spot with a time just six seconds quicker than Alysia.

You wouldn’t usually expect 100 mile races to be quite so dramatic at the end. Incredibly though, it was similar for the men in a battle for the overall race win.

In the end it was Jacob Snochowski who picked up the victory, registering a time of 13 hours 59 minutes and 21 seconds. That gave him a winning margin of just 10 seconds over Peter Windross.

Linn with her Centurion Running Autumn 100 medal
Completing the race was mission accomplished for Linn and taking 3rd place was an unexpected bonus

Holly Rush was in a real hurry to get round and completed the course in 16:51 to finish as first female and 8th overall. Debbie Martin-Consani was 2nd woman and 12th overall in 18:21:46.

Out of the 165 who successfully completed the race, Linn was 17th overall which was a magnificent achievement and certainly well beyond what she was expecting.

It was a dream ending for Linn and made the mammoth effort she’d put in towards the end of the race very worthwhile. She felt very lucky and was so grateful to her body and mind for allowing her to accomplish what she did. And the best thing about it of all… She’d fall back in love with running again.

Helen and Heather compete in BMAF and EA Masters at Yorkshire Marathon

Helen Ambrosen and Heather Khoshnevis in the Yorkshire Marathon
It was a weekend where medals were very much on the agenda for Helen Ambrosen and Heather Khoshnevis at the Yorkshire Marathon and they were hunting for gold

Turns out it isn’t just puddings, tea and serial killers that Yorkshire is good at. The county is also pretty useful at staging marathons too it would seem, as Heather Khoshnevis and Helen Ambrosen can now vouch for.

Whilst it may have been dragged through the mud recently over the racist abuse scandal in cricket, the Yorkshire Marathon Festival portrayed the county in a very good light and showed that it can be a place where everyone comes together to create something special.

Bournemouth AC coach Tom Craggs was up there performing his role as head honcho at England Athletics and he was in charge of an EA Masters team that consisted of some of the country’s top vets in their respective categories.

That included Bournemouth AC’s very own Heather Khoshnevis who took the well earned opportunity to pull on an England Athletics vest.

It wasn’t really surprising Heather was selected to represent England Athletics since she virtually always wins her category prize in whatever races she does.

Heather had certainly done her fair share of recent marathons including London, and the week before that, the New Forest Marathon.

She’d also done a few over the summer as well including the Two Tunnels Marathon in Bath, the Hampshire Hoppit and Kempton Park Marathon. The Yorkshire Marathon would be the 142nd of her ever growing tally.

It was also a designated British Masters Athletics Federation race which meant there were age group medals up for grabs in that competition, as well as for the race itself.

That was enough to lure Helen Ambrosen to the table and she also made the journey up from the south coast to get a taste of the action up north.

Helen has really thrown herself into the BMAF races this season and she’s been getting the results to show for it. She finds that the extra bit of added motivation to do well can make a huge difference.

She has an illustrious history with the BMAF marathons as well, winning the W50 medal when she ran a lifetime best of 3:18 at the age of 54!! She also has the W55 medal but missed out on the W60 one.

Now she was after the W65 one and she was determined to get it. With the level of training she’d put in she felt she had it within her capability to run steadily at 9 minutes per mile which would get her round in under four hours.

Helen had certainly been putting the mileage in in training and had completed the New Forest Marathon three weeks before as her last long run so she certainly wasn’t going into the Yorkshire Marathon unprepared.

The race started at the University Campus and there was a shuttle bus put on take the runners over there. It was a smoothly done and very well organised event.

It was an undulating course, heading out to a few villages before going back into the city centre. The route even goes past York Minster, although Heather somehow managed to miss that. She must have been so focused on her running.

Heather Khoshnevis in the race
It was a special occasion for Heather is she got to wear an England vest and represent the EA Masters team

Going through the first 10k in 47 minutes, she then hit the half way point in 1 hour 43 minutes. She toughed it out well over the second half the race despite a niggly foot issue that effected her over the last 10 miles.

Heather Khoshnevis in action in the Yorkshire Marathon
Heather gives a wave as she reaches the hairpin turn

Finishing in a time of 3 hours 42 minutes and 26 seconds, Heather finished 671st overall and was 86th placed female. It was a terrific run and was enough to seal the gold medal for her age group in the British Masters as well as gold for the England Athletics Masters team. And for the race itself she was 2nd in her age category.

Heather Khoshnevis reprsenting EA Masters team at Yorkshire Marathon
Heather reaped the rewards for her efforts with three gleaming new medals including two golds

It was a fantastic result for Heather and one that was very well deserved after all the hard work she puts in. And with all the bling she’d received, it certainly wasn’t going to be one that she’ll forget any time soon.

Heather's medal haul from Yorkshire Marathon
Heather’s impressive medal haul included a gold in the BMAF Championships and a gold for the England Athletics team

Helen went through the 10k point in 54:29 and went on to reach the half way point in 1:57:29. At that stage she was looking good for a sub-four provided she could maintain the pace over the second half.

Her splits were very consistent and it was only really over the last 5k that she dropped off a bit with a few tough little inclines towards the end.

Getting to the line in 3:58:47, it was a magnificent run from Helen and in the end she was quite comfortably under the four hour target she’d set herself.

Helen Ambrosen at the Yorkshire Marathon
It was a fine performance from Helen Ambrosen that saw her dip under the 4 hour barrier with time to spare

That put her in 1,074th place overall and she was 176th fastest female. It was enough to secure the age category win for the race itself and also take home the gold medal she wanted for the BMAF.

Helen Ambrosen and Heather Khoshnevis after the Yorkshire Marathon
It was another marathon done and dusted for Helen and Heather

The two Bournemouth AC ladies had really excelled in the race and showed that it doesn’t matter age you are. If you put the work in and have the right attitude and dedication, success will come your way. And Heather and Helen had certainly done both themselves and their club proud in that respect.

Helen, Tom and Heather at the Yorkshire Marathon
Helen and Heather had the privilege of joining Bournemouth AC coach and EA Road Running Manager Tom Craggs in the conference room

York is a marvellous city with so much history and since it was quite a long journey, Heather and Helen went a few days earlier to explore.

One of the greatest advantages of running marathons is you get to visit places that you otherwise may not go to. After all, what better way of sightseeing is there than running a marathon?

 

 

 

Georgia Wood wins women’s race in Yorkshire 10 Mile

Georgia Wood after finishing the Yorkshire 10 Mile
Up in the Yorkshire Marathon Festival, one of Bournemouth AC’s quickest ladies, Georgia Wood (middle), was going for glory in the 10 Mile race

The Yorkshire Marathon Festival had an unfamiliar Dorset twang to it this year, with a notable Bournemouth AC presence in the thick of the action.

BAC coach Tom Craggs had made the journey up to lead an England Athletics Masters team for the event and that team included Bournemouth AC’s very own Heather Khoshnevis  who was running the marathon.

Helen Ambrosen had also made the trip and was also competing in the marathon, knowing that it was a British Masters Athletics Federation race.

Meanwhile, in the 10 Mile race, Georgia Wood was in action, bringing a bit of southern flavour to the proceedings.

Georgia had finished 2nd placed woman and 10th overall in the Half Marathon race at the New Forest Marathon event in September and had also secured a solid sub-1:30 time in the Natasha Lewis Foundation Half Marathon in Bath earlier in the month.

But she was yet to reach her full potential in a race thus far in 2021. The Yorkshire 10 Mile represented a golden opportunity for her to do that.

When it came round to the day of the race though, Georgia almost opted not to run. She’d had such a lot going on that she wasn’t sure she was in the right head-space to fully commit to it.

In the end she decided to go for it though and that would turn out to be a decision she wasn’t going to regret.

Georgia Wood in action in the Yorkshire 10 Mile
Georgia takes to the streets of York to give her all over the 10 mile distance

Starting off at a very quick pace, once she got into her stride, it was clear there was going to be no stopping her. Getting to the half way point in a time of 30:23, it was obvious that a cracking time was on the cards if she could maintain it over the second half of the race.

Georgia Wood going well in the Yorkshire 10 Mile
It soon became clear that Georgia meant business and she wasn’t handing round to enjoy the architecture

She did just that, demonstrating superb strength and stamina to get to the finish line in a time of 1:01:43.

Georgia Wood finishing Yorkshire 10 Mile
Georgia crosses the line to seal the 1st female spot

It was an excellent performance from Georgia and was enough to see her claim the 1st female prize and take 26th place in the overall standings.

That gave her a huge winning margin of 4 minutes, with the next female arriving in a time of 1:05:43.

Georgia Wood with medal after Yorkshire 10 Mile
Georgia was head and shoulders above the rest on the day

It was an impressive and emphatic win for Georgia and she was very pleased when she came into the finish to have produced such a fine display.

Georgia Wood finishing the Yorkshire 10 Mile
Georgia is all smiles as she reaches the finish line knowing she’s done herself proud

It was a great event and the local community had turned out in droves to offer support to the runners and generate a fantastic ambience.

Georgia Wood takes 1st female prize at Yorkshire 10 Mile
Georgia picks up her well deserved prize for sealing the 1st female spot

BAC guys go all guns blazing at Great South Run

Harry Smith in the Great South Run
A star studded line up for Bournemouth AC in the 2021 Great South Run included Harry Smith who has been in fabulous form of late

There a very few races in the UK that can top the Great South Run in terms of spectacle and magnitude of the event. With 11,500 athletes lining the streets of Southsea ready to tackle the iconic 10 mile route, it really is quite a sight to behold.

It’s a race that welcomes runners of all abilities as well and usually features some of the top runners in the country and some very high standard club runners towards the front of the field.

The likes of Eilish McColgan and Chris Thompson are regulars at the Great South Run with Eilish winning it the previous two years and managing to reduce her time down to a phenomenal 51:38 in 2019.

Chris Thompson had won it three years in a row from 2016 to 2018 and he would have dearly loved to add to the tally in the 2021 edition.

The field also includes many slower runners and joggers as well, many of whom are just happy to get round. There is also a fun side to the proceedings with many of the participants wearing fancy dress including some very creative outfits.

Many of these runners will be raising money for various different charities and great causes as well so the race serves plenty of different purposes.

What all the participants have in common though is that they all have to complete the same 10 mile course, no matter what their speed, age, gender or background.

Being reasonably close to home as well, it usually attracts a decent quota of Bournemouth AC runners as well. This year’s event featured six members of the yellow and blue army.

After a solitary saunter round the seafront in the Run Bournemouth Half Marathon that saw him seal a comfortable 3rd place the previous weekend, Rob McTaggart was back in action again.

Despite producing a scintillating time of time 1:11:49, Tag was still four minutes behind the top two in the race so he knew he was going to have to settle for third. At least it meant he could conserve some energy for an all out assault at the GSR though.

He’d been in good form of late, recording a spectacular 15:33 time in the Friday Night Under the Lights 5k at Highgate and a 33:17 at the Lordshill 10k a few days after.

It had been quite a while since Tag had last competed in the Great South Run. In fact, the last time he did was in 2015 when he ran his current 10 Mile PB of 52:42. He also ran it a number of years from 2006 to 2010.

It was Harry Smith‘s first ever Great South Run but equally, in the form he’d been showing recently, he had the potential to do very well.

It had been a tremendous year for Harry thus far and he’d really been flourishing since joining the BAC ranks. Managing a superb 10k PB of 31:55 at Eastleigh, he’d also recorded a ferociously fast 5k of 15:02 which saw him pick up the win in the MK Rocket 5k.

On top of that he also boasted Triathlon and Duathlon victories to his name, proving that his cycling is also top notch and his swimming isn’t too bad either.

Having competed in the Great South Run in each of the last six years, dating back to 2014 when he first got back into running, it was business as usual for Richard Brawn.

On almost all of those years he’d managed to produce a new 10 mile PB as well, eclipsing his time from the previous year. Hence, he’d always loved participating in the race.

His best time thus far was the 1:01:22 he recorded in 2018. He’d already ran a sub-60 minute 10 miler though according to Strava during the Puddletown Plod Half Marathon back in July. That was a race in which he went to secure a magnificent new PB of 1:18:49.

Just two weeks before the Great South Run he’d registered a terrific new PB of 2:48:29 at the London Marathon so he was clearly in good shape for a new 10 mile best, provided he’d recovered well enough.

Rich Brawn at the Great South Run
Rich Brawn was hoping to cash in on his marathon fitness two weeks on from the big showdown

Having done the Great South run on a couple of occasions before, Trev Elkins‘ best time was 1:05:42 which he set in 2017. His form had been pretty good for the most part in the weeks and months building up it though and he’d recorded a 10k PB of 37:24 at Eastleigh along with a 5 mile PB of 29:52 at Romsey. Plus a parkrun best of 17:39.

Only just recently returning to the racing circuit after a long absence, Chris O’Brien came off the back of a very good time of 1:28:47 in the Run Bournemouth Half Marathon the previous weekend.

That proved he could still produce decent times on the day if everything goes well for him and he was hoping that would be the case at the GSR this year too.

Competing at the Great South Run in each of the last five years, dating back to 2015, Julian Oxborough was another mainstay in the race and knew exactly what to expect.

A couple of weeks before the event though, he’d been left disappointed and frustrated at his attempt in the Salisbury Half Marathon, pulling out before even getting to the half way point.

The Great South Run would be his opportunity to demonstrate he had the character to bounce back from a bad experience and ensure he made a better fist of it next time round.

Starting off in the elite runners pen, Rob McTaggart made an extremely quick start, getting through the first 5k in 16:06. Unfortunately he blew at the four mile point though and began to suffer for the remainder of the race.

He was still going at between 5:23 and 5:27 pace for the next four miles though before hitting the headwind on the seafront for the last two miles.

That slowed him down further but he rallied well to cross the line in a time of 53:44 which put him in 32nd place overall. Although he considered it to be an off day, it was still an excellent time from Tag and showed that his speed and fitness is in a very good place at the moment.

Harry Smith, Rich Brawn and Trev Elkins started off with the fast paced club runners in the pen behind and although his intention was to run it at as a tempo, Harry soon got sucked into a much quicker pace.

He did actually have a 47 mile ultra to run six days later which was why he was intending to temper the pace slightly. Going through the first 5k in 16:34, it was clear that he wasn’t holding back too much over the early stages.

Harry Smith makes strides in the Great South Run
As soon as the race got going Harry clicked into race mode and all thoughts of tempering the pace fell by the wayside

Working as a vet though, Harry often encounters unpredictable behaviour from animals and it has been known to cause him concerns going into races.

He was unfortunately kicked in the leg by a cow in the week leading up to the race and at the half way point he began to feel his knee flare up from where he’d been kicked so he took it a touch steadier from that point on.

Reaching the 10k marker at 33:26, Harry managed to keep the pace up very well over the latter stages of the race, despite the tough headwind, and he felt pretty comfortable.

Harry Smith in action in the Great South Run
It was a very strong run from Harry and his pace didn’t wain much over the last couple of miles

Finishing in a time of 54:04, Harry took 36th place in the overall standings which was a fantastic result for him. He now had less that a week to recuperate before the Thames Trot Ultra.

As for Rich Brawn, he was a little unsure of what pace to go for initially but he though he’d try something in the region of 5:45 minutes per mile.

That seemed like it might be a bit too fast though once he got into the second mile so he decided to instead switch to a plan of keeping every mile split under six minutes.

Rich Brawn gives it all he's got in the Great South Run
Rich wasn’t sure exactly what pace to go for but was going to let that be dictated by feel

Going through the first 5k in 18:10, it was certainly a good solid start from Rich. He then clocked a 36:23 for 10k. The course usually tends to get a bit tougher over the last four miles though so he was expecting to have to work for it.

At the nine mile point when he turned and headed for the seafront he felt the full force of the headwind for the first time. He knew then that the last couple of miles were going to be a grind.

With the pace dropping to just under 6 minutes per mile, he had to dig deep to find the resolve to stabilise it. Most of the other runners were slowing down too much at that point so he couldn’t tuck in behind any of them. He had to go it alone.

Rich Brawn races through in Great South Run
The first 8 miles had one well for Rich but the hard work would come after that

It was a very tough ninth mile but Rich was absolutely determined not to blot his sub-six copybook at that late stage. Thus he was relieved to go through it in 5:56.

That meant just a mile and a bit to go and he’d made it. Completing the final one in 5:51 pace, he arrived on the finishing straight knowing he’d secured a massive PB.

Crossing the line in a time of 58:43, it was a fantastic result for Rich, putting him in 62nd place overall and 6th in his age group. The primary goal was to get in in under 60 minutes and he’d achieved that very emphatically, with an average pace of 5:49.

Rich Brawn with medal at the Great South Run
Rich was overjoyed with his new 10 mile PB of 58:43

Making a decent start, Trev Elkins went through the first 5k in 19:22. His pace dropped a bit after that but he still went through 10k in 39:08.

It got a bit tougher for him over the last four miles, especially when he turned onto the seafront in the 9th mile to face the ferocious headwind.

Trev Elkins giving his all in the Great South Run
Trev Elkins had to wear an orange vest after getting baby sick on his BAC attire

That disrupted his pace further but he soldiered on to complete the course in a time of 1:04:17. That put him in 229th position overall and 37th in his age group. Although it wasn’t quite the time he wanted, it was still a pretty solid 10 mile PB for Trev.

Trev Elkins motors through in Great South Run
Trev approaches the turning point after going fairly well up till then

He had been hoping to get much closer to 60 minutes though so from that perspective he was a little disappointed. No sooner had he finished and cooled down and Trev was eager to get out there and give it another go, demonstrating the immense hunger he possesses to achieve the goals he sets himself.

Trev Elkins in the Great South Run
It wasn’t quite the performance Trev had been hoping for but it was still a decent PB of 1:04:17

Also making a fairly strong start to the race, Chris O’Brien went through the 5k mark in 20:41. That was at roughly 6:30 pace. For the next 5k he was going at around 6:40 pace and got to the 10k point in 41:28.

He was on course for an excellent time and it was all going  pretty smoothly. Then, out of nowhere, he suddenly felt a searing pain in his foot. That stopped him in his tracks and he lost almost a minute over the last two kilometres.

Chris O'Brien in action in the Great South Run
Chris O’Brien ran well for a majority of the race until encountering some difficulties in the latter stages

Finishing in a time of 1:07:06, it had been a disappointing end to an otherwise promising run for Chris. He’d come in in 356th place overall and he was 24th in his age group.

Julian Oxborough had had numerous issues in the past few weeks leading up to the race including a soar throat and ongoing stomach problems.

The weekend before the Great South Run Julian had attempted the Salisbury Half Marathon but hadn’t even made to the half way point before having to pull out. A was a big disappointment but he was determined to bounce back at the GSR.

Julian Oxborough at the final corner in the Great South Run
Julian Oxborough’s approach to the race was a little different to normal this year

Instead of going all out to get round as quick as he could, Julian decided to take it really easy and just enjoy the run. With the pressure off, he was able to just relax and appreciate the race for what it is.

Crossing the line in a time of 2:36:143, Julian had arrived in 11,289th position and 1,069th in his age group. Although it was his slowest ever recorded time, he’d done what he set out to do which was just to complete the race and have fun in the process.

Julian Oxborough speeds past in the Great South Run
Julian comes around the final corner knowing he was almost there

At the other end of the field it was Jack Rowe of Aldershot Farnham & District who picked up the win in a lightening quick time of 47:20. He was followed closely by Emile Cairess of Leeds City who came in at 47:38.

Daniel Jarvis of Bedford County took 3rd in 48:48 forcing Chris Thompson to have to settle for 4th place in a time of 49:01. Southampton man William Bryan notched 5th place in a time of 49:05.

Rich Brawn with medal after the Great South Run
It was another GSR medal and t-shirt to add the collection for Rich

Eilish McColgan smashed the Great South Run course record which was previously set by Sonia O’Sullivan in 2002. She ran 51 minutes exactly 51 minutes that day and Eilish produced a phenomenal time of 50:43 to eclipse that.

It also wiped out Paula Radcliffe’s UK record of 51:11 which she’d held since 2008. That put Eilish 14th overall and showed why could well be considered Britain’s best ever female distance runner.

Jess Piasecki of Stockport Harriers was 2nd female, crossing the line in 51:50 which put her in 27th place overall. Then it was Verity Ockenden of Swansea Harriers who was 3rd female in 54:07 which put her 37th overall, just behind Harry.

Rich Brawn after the Great South Run
Rich was pleased with the progression he was making and the GSR showcased that

It has become something of a tradition for Rich Brawn and his brother Dave to meet up and do the Great South Run. It was Dave’s 12th consecutive year at the GSR and he also managed to secure a terrific new PB, finishing in a time of 1:05:39.

After the race the Brawn brothers went to the common where Rich had parked to get some stuff out of his car. To get over to the common, they had to pass the start line again and they discovered that some of the runners were only just going over the start line.

Rich and Dave Brawn with medals at the Great South Run
It was a great day for the Brawn brothers with Dave also securing a new PB

The waves were more segregated this year and there were quite big gaps between start times meaning that it was going to take a very long time for all the runners to finish.

Rich and Dave then went back to cheer on the other runners who were still out on the course and they were hoping to catch Julian when he came round onto the finishing straight.

A running portaloo at the Great South Run
This running portaloo was one of the many inventive costumes on show

There were plenty of wonderful and wacky outfits on display amongst the runners who were still making their way round the course and approaching the finish.

The race had a fantastic vibe to it and the crowds of people who had come out to support all the way along the route made it extra special. It was great to see such a large scale race take place in the way that it should be, with runners competing alongside one another and spectators mixing together to generate a terrific atmosphere.

Rich and Dave Brawn with medals after the Great South Run
The Great South Run had once again lived up to its billing as the biggest and best race on the south coast