Providing a vibrant and colourful atmosphere that very few cities can boast to the extent that Brighton can, the most popular marathon on the south coast was back with a bang.
That meant over 7,000 runners would be pouring out onto the streets of Brighton to embark on a journey which would lead them past all the sights and delights that the seaside resort has to offer.
There wouldn’t be any time for ice creams and donkey rides though. There was some serious racing to be done and time was of the essence if the runners would be to achieve what they were hoping to.
Amongst those pounding the pavements of Brighton that day were two Bournemouth AC members in the shape of Mitch Griffiths and Jayne Wade.
Having lost his running mojo a bit during lockdown, Mitch had booked it in as a target to get him going again. He knew he was nowhere near PB shape though due the lack of motivation and a recurring Achilles injury.
As for Jayne, she’d already ran the Brighton Marathon four times so it was not new to her. She had found that each occasion had brought something completely different though so she had no idea what to expect this time round.
The course for the Brighton Marathon starts at Preston Park and snakes its way through the city centre and out onto the seafront before finishing at the iconic Madeira Drive in front of vast crowds.
Starting off with a 7:26 for the first mile, Mitch then settled into a pace that he found comfortable for the next six miles, which was just over 7 minutes per mile.
Then a group came through who were going at sub three hour marathon pace and he decided to latch onto them for a free ride.
He ran with them for the next 9 miles until they dropped out 17 miles. It turned out they were only doing a 17 mile training run.
At that point, Mitch knew he’d overcooked it but he really enjoyed doing the sub three pace. Mitch backed off a bit after that and settled back into a easier pace for the last ten miles or so.
He ran out of steam a bit over the last few miles but managed to see it out, crossing the line in a time of 3 hours 12 minutes and 42 seconds. That put him in 175th place overall out of 7,232 finishers and he was 39th in the M30-34 division.
The conditions didn’t really help him on the day as it was quite hot and neither did the fact that the course was 568 metres longer than it should have been. This was due to a human error when laying out the cones.
That was at around the 10 mile point and after that, the watch and the mile markers were between 0.3 and 0.5 miles out which was quite demoralising.
Jayne started off pretty well and felt very good for the first half of the race. Then at around the 18 mile point she got cramp and had to walk some of the way which she’d never had to do before.
After what seemed like 100 gels later, her legs came back to life and she made it to the finish, clocking a time of 5:08:34. That put her in 5,081st place and out of the 2,315 women in the race, she was 1,281st. In the F 55-59 division she came in 35th out of 88.
Her best time if 4 hours 35 minutes so she was quite a way off but given the cramp issues she suffered, it was no surprise. Plus the heat and the additional distance did her no favours either.
The race was won by Neil McClements of Tonbridge in an impressive time of 2:33:44. That was enough to narrowly fend off the challenge of Ollie Garrod of Surbiton who was 2nd in 2:34:01. Then it was Mark Innocenti of Tring taking 3rd in 2:35:45.
The prize for 1st female went to Verity Hopkins of Ashurst Wood who produced a stunning time of 2:52:11 to come in in 15th place overall.
That put her way ahead of her nearest rival who was Amy Harris of Mannings Heath. She got to the line in 3:04:27 which put her in 87th place overall. Lauren Reid of Bristol was 3rd female, finishing in 134th place in a time of 3:09:31.
Without the extra distance, Mitch would have probably finished in under 3 hours 10 minutes which is where he thought he was in all honesty so it wasn’t a bad run at all from him.
More importantly, it’s given him the motivation to get stuck into his running again once he’s head a week or so of rest. That means he should hopefully be starting his journey back to full fitness in the near future.
Jayne showed great character, along with grit and determination to see it through despite the cramp issue she suffered. That was very commendable from her and if she can carry that same attitude into forthcoming races, she’ll do just fine.
Incorporating the two highest points on the South West Coast – Thorncombe Beacon and Golden Cap – the CapTEN was a race that would have most runners quaking in their trail shoes.
With 2,400ft of climbing to get through over the 10 mile distance it was sure to provide a true test for even the hardiest of trail runners.
The race was organised by Bridport Runners and the route started and finished in Seatown, following the South West Coastal Path over National Trust Land for the most part.
It was essentially a figure of eight course, heading eastwards over Thorncombe Beacon first before looping back on West Cliff above West Bay. Then it was onto the majestic climb of Golden Cap at 626ft and through Langdon Wood before dropping back down to the finish.
To many that would be quite daunting but for Bournemouth AC‘s resident hill specialist, Jacek Cieluszecki, it was something to look forward to rather than to fear.
JC loves a tough climb and really comes into his own on the most challenging of off-road courses. In a race of this sort of profile, there are very few men out there who can match his prowess.
It was straight into the climbing from the get-go, with the first mile containing 446ft of elevation. Despite the steep gradient, JC managed to get up it at 8:41 minute mile pace and that was enough to put him into the lead.
The second mile was coming back down the hill and that gave Jacek the chance to let fly and extend away, clocking a pace of 5:45 minutes per mile.
There was still a fair bit of climbing to do over the next couple of miles but JC amazingly went through those at 6:50 and 6:18 pace before hitting the next big climb on mile five.
That mile featured 405ft of elevation but JC took it in his stride, getting up it at 9 minute mile pace on average. Then it was a fast downhill stretch over the sixth mile before hitting the legendary Golden Cap.
The next mile featured a brutal 570ft of ascent with some hugely steep gradients. JC powered up at an average of just over 10 minute per mile which was mightily impressive.
BAC team captain Rich Nelson went to watch JC in action and he said that Jacek was out in front by a country mile. In fact, when he reached the top of Golden Cap there was literally no one else in sight. Had he not had a number pinned on, you wouldn’t even have known he was in a race.
The last couple of miles contained quite a lot of descent and JC tore through those at 6:16 and 5:29 minute mile pace, refusing to let up even though he was so far in front.
That’s one thing you can say about JC. Even if he manages to build up an unassailable advantage in a race, he very rarely goes into cruise mode. That’s how he sets so many course records. He always pushes himself to be the best that he can be, whatever the circumstances.
His finishing time for the race was 1 hour 13 minutes and 29 seconds. It was phenomenal really when you consider that he’d tackled 2,277ft of ascent. His average pace for the run was a flabbergasting 7:21 minutes per mile.
It was a while before anyone else arrived at the finish. Over six minutes in fact. Ben Davidson of Minehead RC took the runner up spot, completing the course in 1:19:50.
Graham Collins took 3rd place in a time of 1:21:41. The first Bridport Runners man arrived in 4th place and that was Jake Hodgetts who reached the line in 1:23:04.
Becky Tovey of Romsey Road Runners was 1st female, finishing in a time of 1 hour 33 minutes which put her in 14th place overall. The next woman in was Sally Bugler of Bridport who got round in 1:40:30, taking 20th place in the overall standings.
Not only was it a resounding win from JC, it was also a mightily impressive course record which was pretty incredible given that the alterations to the course had meant that an additional hard climb had been added.
It was all in a days work for Jacek though and he saw it as a good training exercise for the tougher races he had in store for the following weekend.
Set to make the trip up to the Scottish Highlands, he would be taking on the Salomon Mamores VK, which was a 5k race featuring a kilometre of ascent over the distance, so it was basically uphill all the way upon very rocky terrain.
Then the following day who would take on the Three Mealls Trail Race where he would tackle a further 2,400ft of elevation over a distance of 18 kilometres.
These were proper fell races that looked just about as tough as it gets, which meant of course that they were right up Jacek’s street.
BAC stalwarts Ian Graham and Dave Parsons have missed their annual trip to Guernsey for the Easter Race Festival in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, however, they have kept in touch with their contacts on the Island and when they heard that there were some races and parkrun in Guernsey over the August Bank Holiday weekend, there was only one thing to do. So, they went for it.
With a 5k road race on the Thursday evening on a flat point to point course from the west coast with the promise of the south west prevailing wind blowing to help them and the parkrun on the Saturday morning, the hotel was booked, travel arrangements made. There was the added bonus of the chance to run a 10 miler on part of the South Coast cliff path later in the weekend as well.
Dave and Ian were joined as usual by Poole Runners Geoff Scott, another veteran of races in Guernsey and Dave’s wife Sue in her usual capacity of ‘bag lady’ – well someone has to keep them in order!
Even the challenge of battling with setting up Guernsey Travel Tracker accounts as required under covid regulations failed to deter them. With the 5k being point to point there was the slight issue of where to park the hire car. In the end, they took the advice of one of Guernsey’s local athletes and parked a mile from the finish. That way, Sue was able to walk to the finish and Ian, Dave and Geoff could walk/jog to the start.
Using the walk (note not jog) as a warm up, they duly arrived at the start, collected their numbers and had the chance to catch up with some old friends including Lisa Evans who had joined them as part of their cross-country relay team in 2019.
All three of our intrepid Dorset trio were unsure as to how they would fare as they had all had issues leading up to the trip and were far from at their best. Also, disappointingly, although typically, there was a strong north easterly headwind which would prevent the times from being spectacular.
The runners were called to the start and suddenly, there was a shout of ‘go’ and off the field went. Caught a bit by surprise, both Dave and Ian shot off, in Dave’s case rather too optimistically, but soon it all settled down and Ian disappeared into the distance.
After about a mile, Geoff caught Dave up and moved 15 yards or so ahead and there he stayed for the remainder of the race, despite Dave’s hope that Geoff might slow down near the end.
Ian ran rather well and finished in a very satisfactory time of 26:11 for 80th place and first over 70.
Geoff ran a very even paced race and came home in 99th place in 29:03 for 3rd over 70. He was followed by a fast finishing old friend from Guernsey, Alun Williams, with Dave101stin a time of 29:21 and 4th over 70.
All three were pleased with their efforts and it is fair to say that they all ran quicker than they expected. The race was unsurprisingly dominated by Guernsey athletes and was won by Will Bodkin in 15:24 with Alex Rowe just four seconds behind in second.
On the Saturday morning, they all had to skip breakfast at the hotel and headed off to Pembroke Bay for the parkrun. Lisa was there again as was JP Mace an old Guernsey rival and a few other familiar faces. A short warm up on the course showed that this was not going to be one for fast times.
They subsequently discovered that it is ranked in the top 10 most difficult parkrun courses in the UK, being very narrow and twisty in places with quite a lot of rabbit holes. Part of it is the same as the ‘Stonecrusher’ course used for the Easter cross country relay so it was at least familiar to them.
Geoff took the honours this time, finishing 100th (out of 181) in 30:34; Dave was 109th in 31:29 and both were more than happy with that. Ian decided that he wasn’t going to push it on such a course so just ‘enjoyed’ jogging round in 34:56 for 146th place.
For many years, Ian has wanted to go to Vale Church for Morning Service but hasn’t been able to as there is always a morning race at Easter. With no race on this occasion, he was able to go for the first time. Dave and Geoff accepted an invite to meet up with ‘JP’s Runners’ a group run by JP Mace, who was mentioned earlier.
It seemed like a good opportunity to meet up with others and perhaps run a 5 miler in unfamiliar surroundings. So, they made their way to Port Soif and duly met up with the group. They set off only to find that the course chosen took them back past their hotel and a little further on very familiar territory before turning around and heading back the same way.
It was still a lovely run and they met some very friendly fellow runners who made them feel most welcome. Most of the group then went for a swim in the Bay, (Sue had already beaten them to it) followed by coffee and cake in the garden of the local kiosk.
Dave and Geoff declined the swim (the sea being much too cold for such delicate creatures) but did partake in the refreshments. It was the birthday of one of the lady runners and a magnificent cake was produced. The group has a Facebook page so Dave now has a new group to follow!
The rest of the weekend was spent in a much more leisurely fashion including a trip around St Peter Port on the land train which included a commentary giving some of the history of the town. Some light training early mornings were undertaken and the weather was absolutely superb – certainly a lot warmer than when they are usually there at Easter.
Oh, what about the 10 mile cliff path race? Sadly, or rather fortuitously, they missed the closing date for entries. They were assured that if they turned up, they would be allowed to run but didn’t want to take advantage of such generous hospitality. In truth, having done a short walk on the narrow, undulating cliff path one afternoon, this was a very wise decision.
Thus, another chapter in Guernsey concluded. Old friendships rekindled and new friends made and a steely determination to be back again at Easter 2022 for another bash at the Easter Festival bringing the challenge of four races in four days. If they’re spared in the meantime!!
The 10th anniversary of the Maidenhead Half Marathon was commemorated by giving the race a unique twist. And that twist was that it wasn’t actually in Maidenhead!!
For one the venue was switched to Dorney Lake, which meant that, in keeping with tradition, it was still going to be a scenic, fast and flat course which could lend itself to some very quick times.
The reason for the change of venue was that the number of runners who signed up for it were quite low, meaning it was below the required threshold to justify closing roads.
On this occasion though Dorney Lake saved the day, enabling the race to go ahead in a safe and straight forward way.
There were a couple of Bournemouth AC members in the line up for the relocated Maidenhead Half Marathon, namely Anthony Clark and Sanjai Sharma.
It would probably be fair to say that both Ant and Sanjai had already become accustomed to running at Dorney Lake, since they’d both completed a marathon there.
Ant did his in Easter and it was pretty much the first big race that went ahead after the long winter lockdown. Despite having so much time without any racing on the agenda, Ant still managed to pull an excellent performance out of the bag to run it in 2 hours 33 minutes.
That was enough to see him take the crown for 1st M40 and come in in 9th position overall. It was a very impressive run. Could he follow that up with a top quality half marathon though?
As for Sanjai, he ran the Virtual London Marathon at Dorney Lake in October last year and despite some absolutely horrific conditions, he did much better than he thought he was going to, crossing the in 3:19:32.
That was quick enough to earn him Good for Age time for the next London Marathon as well but unfortunately there was a mix up with his entry which prevented him from doing his 20th consecutive London Marathon.
The day before the Maidenhead Half Marathon at Dorney Lake, Ant had recorded his fastest ever parkrun, coming in as first finisher at Poole with a time of 16:07.
That showed he’s in terrific form at the present time and his top end speed is very much there, despite the high mileage and big sessions he’s been putting in during the week.
Setting off very quickly, Ant opened his account with a 5:24 first mile and a 5:28 second mile. He was cooking on gas at that point but before turning into a headwind.
Even that couldn’t slow him down much though and his next six miles were all between 5:30 and 5:35 pace. Ant is usually pretty consistent with his splits and he was still operating at an impressive speed over the back five miles.
In fact, the 13th mile was the only one he went over 5:40 pace on so it was a very strong effort throughout, culminating in a finishing time of 1:13:19. That gave him an average pace of 5:34.
The only time he’s ever gone quicker than that was at Fleet in 2019 when he ran 1:12:31 so it showed that Ant is in terrific form. It was good enough to see him take 6th position overall in a field of 346 and he was also 2nd in the MV40 category, just behind Richard Price of Reading who got round in 1:12:59.
Ant does some of his training runs with Chris Wood of Wimborne AC and he paid the price a bit for his exuberant start but toughed it out well to record a time of 1:14:48. That put him in 10th place and 3rd MV40.
At the peak of his powers Sanjai would usually run his half marathons in around 1 hour 21 minutes. At the moment he’s some way off that though, having suffered with injury problems and a busy summer limiting his training time.
In truth, he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to complete the distance without stopping so he was actually quite pleased when he managed to get round in a time of 1:40:13.
It may have been his slowest ever half marathon time but he actually ran each of the four laps quicker than the previous so it turned out to be a good progressive activity.
Finishing in 113th place in the standings, Sanjai was 4th quickest in the MV60 category so still not a bad result, all things considered.
The race win went to Neil Kevern of Bracknell AC who completed the course in a lightening quick 1:09:23. That was enough to give him a winning margin of a minute over Pete Robinson who was 2nd in 1:10:25.
Aran Davidson of Chiltern Harriers continued his fantastic form of late to come in in 3rd place with a time of 1:11:26. The hard training paid off for Max Costley of Southampton and he took 4th in 1:12:15.
Naomi Mitchell of Reading was the fastest female, registering a phenomenal time of 1:16:44. That put her in 16th place overall and gave a huge margin of victory.
The next lady in was Tamsin Anderson of Winchester & District and she took 38th place in a time of 1:23:28. Nicole Swaffeld was 3rd female, crossing the line in 1:26:28, which put her in 51st place overall.
The only bad thing about running it at Dorney Lake is the repetitive nature of the course when you have to do four laps. Ant would have much preferred it to have been on the usual Maidenhead route, which renowned for being fast, flat and fun.
Saying that though, Ant usually tends to do quite well in repetitive type races. Who can forget his staggering performance in the 2018 World 100k Championships in Croatia? He finished 8th in that and 1st M40 and that was on a course of 7.5 km laps.
As the Autumn draws in, Sanjai is hoping he’ll be able to find more regularity with his training and will be able to perform better in cooler conditions.
With entries lined up for both the London Marathon and the Manchester Marathon it’s going to be a busy October for him. The way he’s running though, he’s certainly on course to do well in both races.
When the Lytchett 10 mile road race came round most of runners who were on the entry list had forgotten all about it. The event had been cancelled and postponed so many times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and whatnot it seemed like it was never going to take place.
The race is usually staged in February and is part of the Imperial Series, along with the Bournemouth 10 and the Larmer 10. The first time it was postponed it was due to adverse weather conditions. A storm had hit the south that weekend and the course was deemed unsafe.
Of course the club who put the event on, Lytchett Manor Striders, had no idea then that it would take until August 2021 for the race to finally go ahead. But here it was, taking place in the summer months which brought a welcome change in outlook in comparison to the usual cold climate of a February date.
This time it was bright day and not too windy either. Practically perfect running conditions. Ideal for those in good form to take advantage and record a fast time.
It often ends up being treated as a marathon training run for some of the field, with runners often opting to go round the course an extra time before the race has even started, giving them a very good 20 mile training run.
With the London Marathon being just six weeks away, that was again the case here, with many of the more serious marathon runners getting up and out early to get the loop done once before the actual race kicked off.
None of the Bournemouth AC members who were in action that day took that option though. They all decided once was enough for them on this occasion.
That included Rich Brawn, who is competing at London. He’d done a lot of long training runs recently though so was looking for a slightly faster paced run. Therefore he figured racing the 10 miles hard might be a better option.
Unfortunately he’d pulled a muscle in his back though in the week leading up to the race and it had been causing him a lot of pain. Even the day before the race he was considering pulling out but he thought it would be better to go along and at least try to run and see what happened.
He was joined in the race by Jacek Cieluszecki, who had won the Lytchett 10 a couple of times before. That was in 2017 and 2011. He’d also had a number of other top three finishes in the race dating back to 2009.
After running the Scafell Pike Trail Marathon the weekend before though, JC wasn’t expecting to be in full swing at Lytchett but he was keen to give it a go anyway.
In comparison to the 1800 metres of vertical he faced at Scafell Pike though, including climbing England’s highest peak, the slopes of Lytchett weren’t likely to prove too taxing for him. But with very little speed-work in his current training regimes, tapping back into that faster gear could still prove tricky.
Even though he claims to have retired from the running scene, Steve Way still always comes out to support his local race and he managed to dust off his old BAC vest for a rare outing.
Although he hadn’t been doing much outdoor running, Steve had been training hard on the bike using Zwift so that would have helped keep his fitness at a reasonable level.
He’d been suffering from a hamstring injury though so was going to have to hope that held up alright on the unforgiving tarmac.
Also in action for BAC at the Lytchett 10 was Helen Ambrosen. She’d been participating in the British Masters Athletics Federation Championships and the Lytchett 10 was a designated race for that competition which meant extra age group medals were up for grabs for her.
Fresh off the back of an excellent Summer Series campaign, Katrina White was also competing at Lytchett for the yellow and blues. She finished 5th in her age group at the Summer Series and for the most part, manged to get quicker as the competition progressed.
A good 10 mile display at Lytchett would cap off a superb summer for her. Ian White was also there and was marshaling for the event and cheering on the runners as they went by.
When the race started it kind of took Jacek by surprise. He was with his wife Ela who was also taking part and they were right at the back of the pack. That meant JC had to then work his way up toward the front of the field.
Due to the back issue he’d been having, Rich Brawn made a tentative start. At first he thought it would be too painful to go the whole way but he stuck it out and tried to manage as best he could.
It wasn’t long before JC caught Rich up and at the time he was close to Steve Way as well. Steve had bumped into an old friend in Holly Rush, who runs for Avon Valley Harriers, and they were running together, with Holly emerging as the front runner in the women’s race.
The Lytchett 10 course is mostly uphill for the first 4.5 miles. Then there is a downhill stretch to 5.7 miles before the final climb which leads to just over 7 miles. After that it’s predominantly downhill all the way to the finish.
About half way into the race which started to feel pretty good and the back pain he was suffering from had subsided. He then began to kick on, pulling away from Richard Swindlehurst who he had been running with and setting about in pursuit of Graham Sherwin of Egdon Heath Harriers.
Then after that he went past Matt Risden of Southampton and it was beginning to turn into a half decent run for Rich. He just needed to keep going and keep working hard.
JC had managed to get up to 5th place in the end but he was unable to catch Steven Yates of Twemlow who had already run one lap of the course before the race had started.
The win was taken by Tom Merson of Exmouth Harriers and he managed to get round in a superb time of 53:15. That was enough to see him claim a very convincing win with an advantage of over 3-and-a-half minutes over his nearest rival.
That was Sam Hull of South West Vets and he took the runner up spot in 56:55. Adam Tuck of Ride Harriers sealed 3rd place in 57:44.
Crossing the line for the second time round, Steven Yates showed superb form to clock a time of 57:51. Then it was JC in 5th with a time of 58:18.
The second Twemlow man in was Harry Lauste who arrived in 6th place, recording a time of 58:36. Even though he hadn’t been doing a lot of running of late, Jack Galloway made it three Twemlow men in the top ten when he crossed the line in 9th place with a time of 59:14.
Finishing strongly to stay ahead of Matt Risden, Rich Brawn ended the morning in 12th position, posting a time of 1:01:57. It wasn’t as quick as he would have liked but was still a fairly decent run given how his back was at the start and the hilly nature of the route.
Matt Risden followed in after Rich to take 13th place in 1:02:13. Then it was Richard Swindlehurst, completing the team win for Twemlow despite having run a lap of the course beforehand as well. He clocked a time of 1:02:34, with Graham Sherwin taking 15th place in 1:02:43.
Unfortunately for Steve his hamstring went in the end, leaving him with a rather painful last few miles. That saw him take 18th place in 1:03:27.
Holly Rush had been by his side throughout though and she crossed the line in 1:03:25 to seal the win in the women’s race by a very substantial margin.
The next female to arrive at the finish was Charlotte Bunch of Poole Runners and she completed the course in 1:09:57 to take 40th place overall. Susie Hill was 3rd female and she came in in 44th place overall recording a time of 1:11:11.
Katrina White had a good run in the end to get over the line in 1:23:57 and that put her in 129th place overall and 23rd fastest female. In the 25-29 category she took 3rd place and it was great to see her produce another successful outing after the high of the Summer Series.
Securing a silver medal in the BMAF 10 Mile Championships for the over 65’s, Helen Ambrosen completed the course in a time of 1:30:07. That put her in 166th place overall in 35th fastest female.
Helen was pleased with how she ran and was over the moon with her silver medal. She’s really enjoying competing in the BMAF Championships and has found that it adds a new dimension to the race knowing that there is also the prize and prestige of that on offer.
Given he still had heavy legs from his marathon at Scafell Pike, it was a fairly decent performance from Jacek to get round in 58:18. At the moment he’s finding it hard to get the inspiration to go flat out in road races though. He’s much preferring the tough, hilly, trail type races.
The next race he had lined up was the CapTEN which is a 10 mile fell race over in Bridport, incorporating the humongous climb of Golden Cap. Then after that he’ll be heading up to Scotland for the Saloman Mamores VK, which is the 5 kilometre fell race featuring 1000 metres of ascent.
After winning The Shere 10k back in 2019, Harry Smith returned to the sumptuous slopes of Surrey and this time it was to tackle 21 kilometre distance.
The Shere Half Marathon is run on a very testing trail route with some daunting climbs to negotiate. In fact, it’s fairly up and down most of the way, incorporating an elevation gain of 1,350 ft.
That was right up Harry’s street though as he tends to find that hills and trails suit him much better than road races. That said, he did produce a stunning sub-32-minute 10k at Eastleigh recently which saw him finish in a fantastic 5th place.
He also won the MK Rocket 5k in a lightening quick time of 15:02 and recently finished top of pile in both the Huntsman Triathlon and the TrailX Spring Off Road Duathlon.
The Shere Half Marathon route started and finished in the picturesque village of Shere, which is not far from Guildford where Harry was based when he went to university.
It was very quickly into a massive climb which went on for the majority for the first mile. With 400 ft of elevation already covered in the space of that first mile, it was certainly a difficult start to the proceedings.
Harry still managed to get through it at 7:35 minute mile pace which was impressive on a slope that steep and put him into the lead. Once he got to the top, Harry picked up speed and went though the next mile at 5:35 pace.
Even though it was off-road he was still going at well under 6 minute mile pace for the next four miles which included a long downhill stretch on the fifth mile.
What comes down, must go back up though and that meant a big climb to negotiate on the other side. That wasn’t a problem for Harry though and he still powered up at 7:14 minute pace for the 7th mile even though it was pretty much all uphill.
Going through the next few miles at around 6:30 pace, Harry was then back to 6 minute mile speed for the 11th mile before embarking on a huge descent for the 12th mile.
That meant a very fast finish for Harry and he soared down at 5:41 pace leaving him with a short way to go to get to the line. It was a fine performance from Harry and he’d shown great strength given the varied nature of the terrain.
Registering a time of 1:15:41, it was a convincing victory from Harry and he was over a minute ahead of his nearest rival Ry Webb. He clocked a time of 1:16:44 to seal the runner up spot.
The next man in was Alex Gibb who finished in a time of 1:18:56. The top three were way ahead of anyone else though, with the next man, Oliver Hassall reaching the line over 15 minutes later, underlining just how well they performed.
Despite the 1,361 ft of elevation, Harry had still managed an average pace of 6:13 minutes per mile for the run which was an excellent result. Plus it was another terrific win to add to the resume.
The Shere event also features a 42 kilometre race as well as the 10k and 21k distances and Harry is thinking that he might go back next year to see if he can win that to complete the treble. If he’s in anything like the form he’s in now, he’ll take some stopping!!
The final race of the six in the Upton Summer Series presented the athletes with one final chance to either secure their place on the final scoreboard, or improve upon or consolidate their position.
After the first four fixtures, Katrina White was 4th female in the standings and was leading the 18-39 category. Following the culmination of the fifth fixture though, she’d slipped down to fourth in the category.
Charlotte Bunch of Poole Runners had assumed pole position after her 2nd place finish and Siabham Gorman was in 2nd. It was tight between Hailey Higgins and Katrina but Hailey was just edging it for 3rd.
The opportunity was there for Katrina in the sixth race though to improve her overall score. Anything above a 9th place finish for the age category would do that.
Having done three fixtures thus far, husband and wife Ian White and Sam White had the chance to get their fourth attempt in and register their names on the overall leader-board for the series.
Ian’s main aim for the series was to finish in under 26 minutes and he managed that in Race 2 when he clocked a time of 25:41. Instead of having another crack at a sub-26 though, he opted to run with his daughter Katrina to see if he could help her improve on her position.
As for Sam, she’d finished in 29:51 on both of the first two races and that was her quickest time thus far so she was looking for an improvement on that.
Katrina’s best time thus far was the 26:50 that she posted in Race 3. She’d been making some good incremental improvements over the first three races though so it would be interesting to see if she could go even faster on her final attempt.
It was much cooler on the day than it has been for the previous races so it was a great opportunity for the athletes to record a new best time if they could find their form. Katrina did just that.
Running alongside Ian, she got through the first mile in a very quick 7:10, so she’d really got out of the traps well. In fact Katrina was running so well that it was forcing Ian to work quite hard himself just to keep up!
Finishing in an incredibly impressive time of 26:16, Ian and Katrina took 51st and 52nd in the overall standings. Katrina was 9th fastest female 5th in the 18-39 category, so she had improved her final score by four points. Ian was 6th in the Male 50-54 category.
Taking 34 seconds off her previous best time was quite some achievement for Katrina though and even she wasn’t expecting to pull such a great performance out of the bag.
She wasn’t the only one either. Sam also ran significantly quicker than she had in any of her previous attempts to finish in a magnificent time of 29:05.
Going through the first mile in 8:12, she then followed that up with an 8:23 second mile and an 8:23 third mile. Then picked the pace up again to 8:13 for the last half a mile.
That was actually a pretty consistent paced run considering the first mile contains more downhill. The last half a mile includes an incline so she did well the finish strongly on that.
That put Sam in 86th place overall and she 26th placed female. In the 50-54 category, she was 5th. It was a very pleasing run for her and she treated herself to a McDonald’s afterwards to celebrate.
Having already wrapped up the series with four wins out of five, Matt Brown decided to let someone else have a chance to taste victory in the sixth and final race.
That opportunity was snapped up by Dion Garner of Poole Runners who got round in 19 minutes 23 seconds. That was just enough to edge him in front of Brian Underwood of Poole AC who crossed the line in 19:44.
Lewis Clarke of Lonely Goat took 3rd place in a time of 19:47 which out him 2 seconds ahead of Duncan Cooper who was 4th in 19:49. Tom Andrews of Lytchett Manor Striders was a specialist in finishing 4th but on this occasion he had to settle for 5th place, crossing the line in a time of 20:03.
Out of the women, Fern Kimber was 1st finisher, crossing the line in 21.19. That put her in 12th place overall out of the 159 who successfully completed the race.
That also meant that Fern had won the series, after finishing 1st female in all four races she took part in. Kate Wilkinson of Poole Runners was the next woman in, taking 29th place overall with her time of 23:39.
That put her just ahead of Charlotte Bunch who was 30th and 3rd lady, posting a time of 23:49. In the series though, taking the best four results, it was Charlotte who finished 2nd to Fern, with Kate taking 3rd.
Joanna Westhead, also of Poole Runners was 4th in the series and 1st in the Female 45-49 category. Then it was Sophie Watton of Wimborne AC in 5th.
Lesley Moore was 6th female in the series and 1st in the 40-44 category. Carole Loader of Bouremouth Joggers was 7th and 1st in the Female 50-54 category.
Katrina finished 12th female and 5th in the 18-39 category, just behind Siobham Gorman and just ahead of Hayley Higgins. The way she ran throughout the series and the results she accrued had perhaps even surprised Katrina herself. She’ll certainly come out of the series with a lot more confidence than she had when she went into it.
Sam finished 37th female for the series and 6th in the 50-54 category. That was a decent outcome for Sam and she was certainly boosted by the run she had in the final race.
Ian was 65th in the overall standings and 7th in the series for the Male 50-54 category. That represented a pretty good effort from him, all things considered.
Having only done three of the races, Nikki Whittaker was knocked down the pecking order, finishing in 90th place in the end. Her partner Rob McTaggart was the only other BAC member to feature but he only did two of the races. He did finish 1st and 2nd in them though.
As previously mentioned, with four wins, Matt Brown swept to an impressive series victory. Lewis Clarker finished as runner up with three 3rd places and a 5th place.
Then it was Brian Underwood with a 7th a 4th and two 2nd places. Then Dion Garner with a 1st, a 2nd, a 3rd and a 10th. Tom Andrews was 5th with his three 4th places and a 5th.
In the teams competition, Poole AC won the men’s, being the highest scorers in four of the fixtures. Then it was Poole Runners, just edging out Lytchett Manor Striders and Littledown Harriers.
In the women’s team competition, Poole Runners were the victors, securing five wins and a 2nd place from the six fixtures. Poole AC were 2nd, securing five 2nd places and one win. Then it was Bournemouth Joggers in 3rd.
It was great to see the Summer Series go ahead and with a full program of fixtures completed. The competitive spirit generated by an ongoing league type of format is certainly one that has been missing from running for quite some time now.
Hopefully it won’t be long before the Dorset Road Race League is back on the horizon, along with the Hampshire League Cross Country which has already been penciled in. With those competitions taking place, there should be some exciting times ahead for the Dorset running community.
Having completed 138 different marathons, you would have thought Heather Khoshnevis had been there, seen it and done it all, right?…. Well, you’d be wrong there. She hadn’t done one quite like the the Two Tunnels Marathon before.
As the name suggests, the Bath based route incorporates two tunnels, the first of which is the Devonshire Tunnel, which is 408 metres long. The second is the Combe Down Tunnel which is 1672 metres long which actually makes it the foot race with the longest underground section in Britain.
There is then a stretch of about 7 miles along the canal, heading from the Somerset Coal Canal onto the Kennet & Avon Canal at Dundas Aqaduct, which is over 200 years old.
There were several long boats moored along the bank which were interesting to look at. They were old but very well looked after and there was even one called the Floating Baker which was selling cakes.
The route also included a jaunt past the house of the world renowned geologist William Smith who produced the first geological map of the country. It also heads along lane that was a track bed of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway, which then meets the Somerset and Dorset Line.
The canal eventually merges into the River Avon and the runners are taken onto a bridge over Lock Gate, which is the second deepest lock in the country. It is then heads along the river bank into the heart of Bath.
One of the aid stations was just by the world famous Pulteney Bridge and Weir at a spot which is overlooked by Bath Abbey. The aid stations were very impressive, containing an abundance of chocolates and sweets.
It’s a two lap route as well so after doing all that once, the marathon runners then get to experience it all again a second time, including going back through the tunnels.
The northern side of the Combe Down Tunnel is 50ft higher than the southern portal which sends a cool breeze circulating through the tunnels.
That created a chilling environment that felt quite eerie as you couldn’t even see your own feet or anyone in front of you. Every now and then you could feel drips of water on your head as well and it felt a bit like being in a scary ghost train at the fair.
Heather was trying to imagine what a complete marathon just going back and forth through the tunnels would be like and her weird mind told her that it could be quite fun, especially on a rainy day.
It wasn’t a fast course as the canal paths were quite narrow and busy in places but that enabled Heather to take the time check out the boats.
She’d actually entered the race before COVID and it had been pushed back so she wasn’t even sure if she was going to do it. It was only late in the afternoon on the day before the race that she made up her mind to go for it.
The race started on a hill and finished on a hill as well and featured plenty of other undulations along the way which made it challenging and forced Heather to work for it.
Completing the course in 4 hours 8 minutes and 15 seconds, Heather finished in 42nd place in the overall standings, out of 141 who successfully negotiated the distance.
That saw her pick up the category win in the Female 60-69 division which was a pleasing outcome for Heather and a nice little reward for her efforts.
It was a very well organised race with a friendly atmosphere and Heather really enjoyed herself and had a lovely day out. Thus, she was very pleased she opted to go for it in the end. Plus it was another notch to add to her impressive marathon tally.
Usually in a super tough, long distance trail race you would make Jacek Cieluszecki favourite for the win. In fact, he’s won his last five races now including the Maverick Chilterns ‘Middle’ distance, the Maverick Exmoor Ultra and the Maverick Dorset ‘Long’ race.
Then before that he won the CTS Exmoor Ultra and the Exmoor Coast 55k, setting a course record in both races. They both incorporated a huge elevation gain of around 7,000ft.
The Scafell Pike Trail Marathon was a slightly different prospect though in that it was one where fully focused fell runners would have the upper hand.
Carrying out the bulk of his training over the Purbeck, JC is well accustomed to powering his way up a hefty slope or two and speeding back down a muddy or stony track. But the terrain at Scafell Pike is much more extreme.
The surfaces are very rocky and uneven and can become very slippery when wet. Plus the gradients are on a different scale than anything you are likely to encounter over the Purbeck.
That said, looking at the results from the previous years going, Jacek felt he should be well capable of claiming victory if he performs to his best.
This year though the Scafell Pike Trail Marathon was included as part of the Golden Trail National Series, along with three other races across England, Scotland and Wales.
That meant it could attract a higher standard of competition, with potentially some of the top national and international trail runners vying for the chance to compete in the GTNS Grand Finale in the Azores Islands.
And not only that. It was also announced as a selection race for the World Mountain and Trail Championships 40km trail race, so the stakes were extremely high in that respect. As Jacek was about to find out, he was really going to have his work cut out to compete for a high placing on this occasion.
The route incorporated England’s highest peak and featured 1,800 metres of ascent over the 27 mile distance. With the rocky terrain prominent throughout, it really was some next level stuff in terms of difficulty and intricacy.
The course heads from Keswick along lakeshore trails, wooded valleys and spectacular high mountain trails including some of the most dramatic rock scenery in the Lake District. In fact, Borrowdale has been described as the most beautiful valley in England and a trail runner’s paradise.
The first section runs to Seathwaite, following some woodland trails alongside the shores of Derwentwater and onto the village of Grange. Then it’s onto the first climb of the day going past Castle Crag. Then it’s through Seatroller to the hamlet of Seathwaite.
The second section takes the runners up to the summit of Scafell Pike, crossing the old packhorse bridge over Stockley Beck. Then it’s a very steep climb to Styhead Tarn and Skyhead Pass. After that it’s an ascent up the infamous Corridor Route, with it’s rocky trails and rugged yet spectacularly scenic landscape.
The route then descends to Broad Crag col before continuing its high level traverse past Broad Crag and Ill Crag towards Esk House. Then it’s on past Sprinkling Tarn to Styhead Pass before retracing the route back to Seathwaite.
From there it’s then a case of heading back to Keswick, with a final testing ascent from Rosthwaite to the isolated hamlet of Watendlath. Following the trail alongside Watendlath Beck it then reaches the final checkpoint before descending past Suprise View and Ashness Bridge.
It’s then onto a single-track trail below Falcon Crag and into Great Wood, with the last stretch long the lakeshore trails to the finish in Crow Park.
It was raining on the day which made it that much tougher to negotiate the tricky trails and sharp descents. Visibility was poor as well, meaning the spectacular views were somewhat diminished and more importantly, when you got near to the top of the mountain it was difficult to see where you were going.
In fact, there was one point where Jacek reached the top of the summit but because the visibility was so poor had had no idea which route he should take to get back down and couldn’t see very far along any of the trails.
Luckily just at the moment he got caught by Eleanor Davis of Preston Harriers who was first female at that point. She seemed to know where she was going so was able to find the correct path, which in turn enabled JC to stay on track.
Since it was a selection race for the the World Mountain and Trail Championships some of the runners there were very experienced and skilled fell runners, including the likes of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Adams.
As he wasn’t such an experienced fell runner, it was very difficult for Jacek on the descents, especially in the wet conditions. He was having to be cautious about where he was treading to ensure he stayed upright on the sharp downhill sections.
That was where the difference between him and the top fell runners was most evident. That were flying down the slopes at top speed, attacking them with courage and confidence.
Once they were on the steep descents, Eleanor began to extend away from Jacek and there was nothing he could do about it. She was clearly a very accustomed fell runner and was able to build a very quick momentum as she went down.
Once he got to the bottom of the mountain, JC was able to pick up the pace for the remaining 12 miles or so and managed to gain a couple of places between the last checkpoint and the finish.
Completing the course in a time of 4 hours 14 minutes and 2 seconds, Jacek took 12th position in the overall standings out of the 239 runners who started the race.
Considering his lack of fell running experience compared to many of the others he was up against, that was a decent result for JC. It was enough to see him finish 1st in the 40-49 category as well. During the course of the run he’d amassed over 5,000 feet of ascent.
Tom Adams picked up the win, getting round in a tremendous time of 3 hours 32 minutes and 29 seconds. That gave him a 2-and-a-half minute margin of victory over Andrew Douglas of Inverclyde AC who was 2nd in 3:35:01.
Ricky Lightfoot was 3rd in a time of 3:37:20. Then it was Daniel Haworth of Matlock in 3:58:35 in 4th with Josh Barrow of Macclesfield taking 5th in 3:58:44.
The woman who was with Jacek at the summit, Eleanor Davis, finished very strongly and ended up in 9th place overall in a time of 4:08:12 and that saw her claim the prize for 1st female.
Nichola Jackson of Keswick AC was 2nd female, finishing 14th overall in a time of 4:18:40. Then it was Georgia Tindley of Merrell finishing as 3rd female in a time of 4:24:19, putting her in 16th place overall.
Already having lined up his next fell race, JC will be competing in the CapTen in September in Bridport in a race that includes the daunting climb of Golden Cap, incorporating 2,400 feet of ascent over the 10 mile duration.
Then after that he heads up to Scotland for the Saloman Mamores VK, a race where the participants will gain 1000 metres of elevation over a distance of under 5 kilometres. Hence why it’s called the Vertical Kilometre.
The terrain for that race is extremely rocky so the experience gained from the Scafell Pike Trail Marathon should stand JC in good stead for the challenge ahead.
You know that feeling when you complete a brutal 100 kilometre race right through the night and into the following day and you think… I must do that again sometime!! No?… Me neither. Stu Nicholas does though.
In the summer of 2019 he completed the Roseland August Trail Series race they call The Plague, setting off a 12 midnight and heading out into the pitch black for the next six hours or so armed with only a headtorch and whole lot of hope.
Then as daylight begins to emerge the running continues until eventually the full 100k distance has been covered. Stu took to it surprisingly well considering he’d never done 100k before and finished in 5th place with his time of 13 hours 33 minutes and 17 seconds.
And yes indeed. Even though that box had been ticked, Stu was mad enough to attempt it all over again. The route is basically a 64 mile out and back along the South West Coast Path between St Anthony Head on the Roseland Peninsula and Porthpean in St Austell Bay, which is where Stu grew up.
The elevation is big and constant, amounting to 3,390 metres and is multi terrain all the way, with uneven and slippery ground in places and stiles, gates, rocks and steps to negotiate. It’s every bit as grueling and energy sapping as it sounds.
Unfortunately the race was destined not to go quite so smoothly for Stu this time round though. He had a few tumbles during the night which really set him back and as daylight broke, he was greeted by torrential rain showers. It was the perfect recipe for some awesome blisters!!
It was a real mental battle for Stu as well as a physical one and for the last 40 miles or so, his heart wasn’t really in it. 40 miles is a hell of a long way to go when it’s raining cats and dogs after having ran through the night.
Somehow Stu soldiered on though and managed to complete the race, getting to the line in 14 hours 5 minutes and 24 seconds. Given everything he’d been through and considering the conditions, that was actually still a very good time.
It also gained Stu a place in the top ten which was a good result in a pool of 82 runners who successfully managed to complete the route.
It might not be an event that Stu looks back on too fondly but he should still be able to recognize the achievement in overcoming the adversity and getting through such a difficult journey without giving up.
It was a real test of character and resolve and Stu stood up to that test which says a lot about the type of runner and the type of person he is.
Ellis Bland of Team Vaga picked up the race win in a time of 10:01:11, which gave him a very comfortable margin of victory over Andrew Berry of Durham Fell Runners who was 2nd in 11:33:52.
Daniel Rowe-Leete of Highland Hill Runners finished 3rd in a time of 11:50:04.
Emma Langstaff of Looe Pioneers led the way as far as the women’s race was concerned and she completed the course in 14:48:20 to finish in 14th place overall.
Holly Holmes was next quickest female, getting round in 15:30:56 which put her in 23rd place overall. Then it was Melissa Nicholas, doing the surname proud to finish 3rd female and 25th overall in a time of 15:34:27, putting her just ahead of Emma Nicholls who clocked a time of 15:35:11.
As she did the previous time, Stu’s partner Anna Trehane competed in the Black Route race, which was 32 miles and she completed that in 7 hours 40 minutes, putting her in 71st place in the overall standings and making her 19th quickest female.
That was 16-and-a-half minutes quicker than she ran in the previous edition so she was pleased with that. Her sister Katherine who runs for Norfolk Gazelles also competed in the same race and she did very well to finish in 6:31:50.
That put her in 36th place overall and she was 7th female and 3rd F40. It was an improvement of 37 minutes over the previous time so a cracking result for her.
They were joined in the race by their other sister Helen as well this time and she completed the course in a time of 8:22:40, putting her in 103rd place overall and 35th fastest female.
How many other sets of three sisters are there out there who could all complete a very tough 50km race? There can’t be many other there surely so that was quite an achievement from the Trehane sisters.
In fact, Stu and the Trehane sisters could all be very proud of the performances they put in in extremely challenging surroundings and in a very trying conditions. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that will certainly be the case after their accomplishments at the Roseland August Trail.