Category Archives: Road_Reports

Andy G returns to the scene with a big PB in the ACC

Andy Gillespie in action in the Atlantic Coast Challenge
The Atlantic Coast Challenge provided a rare opportunity for Andy Gillespie (left) to run with other people and he did indeed make some friends along the way

There were probably very few people more relieved to see the return of competitive racing, at least in some shape or form, than Bournemouth AC‘s resident marathon guru Andy Gillespie.

He’d only been running by himself since lockdown restrictions began at the end of March so Andy was kind of looking forward to being joined by some other people for this one.

Living over near Salisbury, Andy doesn’t get the opportunity to mingle with his BAC counterparts very often, hence why he’s ended up restricted to solo training runs for the past six or seven months. At least no one could accuse him of not isolating or not social distancing though.

Despite the lack of opportunities to run with others and with no parkruns on the agenda, Andy was still feeling pretty good in himself going into the Atlantic Coast Challenge, both mentally and physically.

For those who aren’t familiar with the format of the Atlantic Coast Challenge, it’s basically three marathons on three consecutive days, with the route following the South West Coast Path starting from Padstow in Cornwall on Day 1 and finishing in Landsend at the end of Day 3.

The terrain is wild and rugged, with steep climbs and descents that will test a runner’s concentration, as well as their strength. Each of day is unique and brings forth its own challenges and famous landmarks to add to the experience.

Three hilly, off-road marathons in three days might seem a tall order to many runners. To Andy though, this was not so much “a new normal” but rather more, a return to the old normal.

Andy is something of a connoisseur when it comes to the three day eventing format. He’s a veteran of the Atlantic Coast Challenge, the Jurassic Coast Challenge and the Devon Coast Challenge. In fact, they are all pretty much annual events for Andy and this was his eighth time of participating in the ACC.

With the Covid situation still very much at the forefront of peoples’ minds, it brought a slightly different twist to the proceedings for this year’s ACC. Face masks and hand gels were mandatory on the transfer buses and became part of the already long list of kit you had to carry on the event.

There was also a tracker that runners had to carry with them in their rucksacks and they also had a carry two litres of water with them from the start.

The race organisers were clearly more generous than Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak as they provided each athlete with a ‘packed lunch’ in order to cut down on possible contact points.

On the first day the competitors were met with windy conditions. which seemed to be in their faces most of the time. There was the occasional bit of respite though, when they were running through Newquay, for example.

The route was supplied on an app, with no maps being issued, again, the cut down on risks. There were only two checkpoints but they did offer the opportunity for runners to refill their bottles of water.

Everyone seemed to get used to the changes quickly though and Andy didn’t hear anyone complaining. They were probably all just pleased to be out there to be fair.

Day 1 took the participants from just north of Constantine Bay, near Padstow, to the sumptuous sands of Perranporth.

With the positive mindset he had going into the race, Andy got away well and he managed to maintain that positivity the whole day. He met a couple of other runners 13 miles in and ran with them for the second half of the race.

That helped Andy enormously and worked a lot better than if he’d been on his own. They were able to work off each other and Andy found himself being dragged along without even realising it.

As he arrived at the Gannel Estuary, which leads across towards Perranporth, the water didn’t seem as deep as it was last year which told Andy that he must have been running faster than he did then as he’d beaten the tide.

Andy heads over the beach after crossing the Gannel Estuary
That’s Andy on the beach in the distance after crossing the Gannel Estuary

In fact, it turned out to be an ACC Day 1 PB for Andy, meaning he’d secured a faster time than in all of his seven previous attempts. Completing the course in 5 hours 26 minutes and 51 seconds, he was in 58th place in the standings at the end of stage 1 out of the 137 who successfully made it through the first third of their journey.

It can be difficult to judge on Day 1 how much effort you can afford to throw at it with the prospect of two more days to follow. The temptation was always there for Andy to go harder than planned and he did give in to that along Perranporth Sands, knowing that a PB was on.

With a total elevation gain of 3,520ft, it was always going to be a test but it had been a promising start for Andy and he jumped into the jacuzzi afterwards to recover and recuperate read for the next day.

Andy makes his way down the sand dunes on Day 1
Andy heads down the sand dunes at the 20 mile point

The starts were literally as soon as you got off the bus, so with the tracker in your rucksack being picked up by the satellites, the clock was ticking and it was game on.

After doing so well on the first day Andy was keen to get away quickly on Day 2 and set off as soon as he was out the door. There were some narrow tracks along the cliffs on the earlier part of the route and Andy was conscious that you can get held up if you hang about.

The route for Day 2 took the athletes from Perranporth to St Ives Holiday Park.

As it had been the previous day, the headwind was very strong which forced Andy to put the work in but he felt even better on the second day and didn’t even need to top up his water bottles when reaching the first checkpoint at 12 miles.

Again, Andy had company from another runner he’d met on route and they stayed together up until the 19 mile point when his newfound running buddy had to drop back.

It was going well again for Andy and he was looking on course for a Day 2 PB until he was thwarted by the tide at the end of Gwithian Sands at the 22 mile point.

The water was quite cold and came up above Andy’s waistline. It was a slightly different experience than he’d had in the jacuzzi the previous night.

The crossing was about 50 years long and Andy could feel the strong currents as he waded across. He got some strange looks from people passing by as he was on his own at this point and there hadn’t been too many runners coming through before him.

Arriving at the finish in a time of 5 hours 21 minutes and 23 seconds, Andy 41st quickest on Day 2. When he crossed the line though Andy was dismayed to find that the route had come up short.

In fact, according to his Garmin he’d only done 25.42 miles. Andy prides himself on how many marathons he’s done, having already made it into the esteemed 100 Marathon Club and he likes to be able to look back on that record and know he’s gone the full distance for each one.

Andy is a real stickler for the rules as well and never short cuts any corners in these events. In turn, he gets very annoyed when he sees others flouting the rules.

There wasn’t much he could do on this occasion though about the route coming up short. His OCD almost took hold and he nearly did a bit to make up the distance but he’d already stopped his watch by then so it would have been a pointless exercise.

He knew Day 3 always comes up well over marathon distance though so he managed to put his OCD back where it belongs, keep calm and carry on.

The mileage he clocked for the day did take him past the 2,020 mile mark for the year 2020, so that was something else to celebrate. His total elevation for the day was 3,789ft so again, it was a tough route but that just makes it all the more rewarding to get to the end.

At the end of stage 2 there were now 131 competitors left in the running.

Day 3 can almost not even be described as a running race. In fact, the term “technical” even stretches it to its limits. You do get a nice run through St Ives but that’s the calm before the storm.

With his renewed positive attitude, Andy went out hard. He was actually running with Steve Clark, the same guy he had been accompanied by for the majority of the previous day.

The incredible thing about these events is how you can recover so well after a tough day out and then get back out there and run again the next day.

Steve had certainly done that and this time they stayed together for the entire duration of the run, sharing the load and pulling each other along, although having done the event so many times before, Andy’s main contribution was the navigation.

The section of the coastal path to Lands End is rocky beyond belief and the concentration required can tire you out more than the running itself! It’s a precarious route and Andy did take one fall but he managed to pick himself up, dust himself off and carry on.

Completing the stage in a time of 7 hours 21 minutes and 24 seconds, Andy was 40th quickest on the day. It was a Day 3 PB for him as well, which he was over the moon about.

He felt he owed a lot to his companion as there were certainly moments when Andy may have slipped back if he hadn’t had Steve there to chase down.

Andy with Steve Clark on Day 3 of the ACC
Andy arrives at the finish with his newfound running buddy Steve Clark after three grueling days on the coastal path

Completing a total of 27.8 miles that day and wracking up a staggering 5,266ft of elevation, it had easily been the most brutal run out of the three for Andy. But he’d made it through, as he always does, showing great determination and character.

By the end the field had been whittled down to 114 runners who successfully negotiated the difficult third day and thus had completed the Atlantic  Coast Challenge.

With an overall combined time of 18 hours 9 minutes and 38 seconds, Andy finished as 37th male out of 73 which was a remarkable achievement.

More importantly though, he’d secured an overall PB for the event, out of all the eight times he’d done it. That was a massively pleasing outcome for Andy.

The following day Andy’s ankles were swollen and he had three blue toe nails. His quads were shot to pieces as well but he didn’t mind one bit. He was just thrilled to have run so well by his standards and to have exceeded his own expectations.

The event has given Andy a renewed confidence and in truth it had been quite a while since he’d actually felt like he’d done himself justice, especially over the three day ones.

For the past couple of years he’s kind of felt like he was falling to bits and with just about everything hurting, he was finding it a real struggle to stay positive.

Now he’s well and truly got his mojo back though and just in time for his next event, the Jurassic Coast Challenge, which starts on Friday 6th November.

The JCC had been rearranged from March and will possibly be dark at times with the shorter daylight which will add an intriguing element to the challenge.

It is looking like it could be a wet one as well and with the weather getting colder, it was going to be a testing task but one that Andy is very much looking forward to. There are also more changes at foot in that event as well, with the route for Day 3 being reversed.

It’ll be another epic battle for Andy but no doubt he’ll enjoy in and make the most of it as he always does. Perhaps even more so now he’s managed to stop the slide and turn the clock back a little, as he did at the ACC.
















JC storms to victory in Exmoor Coast 55k

Jacek Cieluszecki at Exmoor Coast 55k
Taking on his second ultra marathon in Exmoor in the space of three weeks, Jacek Cieluszecki was in action in the Exmoor Coast 55k

Just three weeks had passed since Jacek Cieluszecki’s last triumphant trip to Exmoor where he emerged victorious in the Endurancelife CTS Exmoor Ultra Marathon.

That day Jacek ran a total of 33.3 miles with an elevation gain of 6,650ft. His time of 4 hours 44 minutes was enough to smash the course record by 8 minutes.

Despite that fantastic achievement though, he wasn’t done with that area of the country just yet. In fact, he was back for another big ultra, that being the Exmoor Coast 55km race which went from Combe Martin to Minehead.

Doing the CTS race had given JC an appreciation of just how tough the Exmoor coast is. It was definitely more testing than some of the other sections of the South West Coast Path, with steeper climbs and a more rugged nature to the terrain.

In a way though, for JC, the tougher the route, the better he’ll do as he specialises in hilly, off-road running and there are very few who can match him in that sort of domain.

As if the 55 kilometre route incorporating nearly 7,000 metres of climbing wasn’t brutal enough already, Storm Alex arrived just in time to add some spice to the proceedings in the form of some very very inclement weather.

That meant having to content with heavy rain and strong winds for virtually the entire run. It was to be an incredibly challenging race for JC, both mentally and physically. Of course, he rose to the challenge well though, as he always does.

The race started with a very tough climb that went on for the whole of the first two miles. There was certainly no room for easing the runners into it on this course.

Quite a few of the runners started before Jacek so when he set off just after 7am he at least had some people to chase down, or chase up, to be more accurate.

The third mile contained a very steep sharp descent. After that Jacek found his rhythm and was going at between 8 and 8:30 minutes per mile over the next four miles, which was probably a lot faster than anyone else was going.

Once he’d gotten into the lead, Jacek began to accelerate away at a speed that no one else could get anywhere near. From that point on it was more of a mental battle for JC. It was basically now him verses the course and the weather and as a combination, they were not easy to overcome.

The next big climb was on the 8th mile. Then it was another five faster miles for Jacek before hitting a long climb over the 14th and 15 miles. That was then followed by a descent enabling him to once again pick up speed.

From the 19th to the 24th mile Jacek was ticking along nicely despite the undulations. Then on mile 25 he hit some flatter ground for the next few miles.

The longest and steepest climb of the whole route started on the 28th mile and continued to the end of the 29th mile. Once Jacek had got over that it mostly downhill to the finish for the remaining four-and-a-half miles.

After completing a grand total of 33.48 miles along with a elevation gain of 6,929ft, Jacek made it the finish line. The previous course record was 5 hours 41 minutes. JC had somehow managed to get round in 5 hours 11 minutes.

Jacek Cieluszecki after the Exmoor Coast 55
It was a very comprehensive victory for Jacek as he set a new course record of 5 hours 11 minutes

It was a real statement from JC and he’d laid down a marker that will surely be very difficult to beat in years to come. His average pace for the run was exactly 9 minutes per mile, which, considering the tough terrain, the extreme elevation and the atrocious conditions, was quite astonishing.

With a winning margin of 1 hour and 12 minutes it was a resounding victory for JC and one that was never really in doubt. Danny Nicolrizzo took second place in 6 hours 23 minutes, with Michael Harris the only other runner to get in under 7 hours. He took third in 6 hours 49 minutes.

The times tell their own story about how dominant JC was just how much quicker he was going than anyone else in the field. It really was a tremendous show of strength and proves why he is one of the very best.

The first female to complete the course was Melissa King, who finished in 7 hours 6 minutes. That put her in 5th place overall. Next it was Jo Sleep who came in in 7th place overall clocking a time of 7 hours 26 minutes.

A total of 45 runners successfully completed the 55km course on the day, with the longest taking 13 hours 54 minutes. To be fair though, on a course like that, with the weather conditions as they were, it was a hell of an achievement for anyone who finished, regardless of the time.

There was also a 110km race which was won by Jarek Turif in a time of 14 hours 39 minutes. David Parrott took second place in 14:45 with James Kelly finishing third in 14:55.

The showpiece of the event was the 110 mile race and that was won by Adam Mullholland in a time of 24 minutes 52 seconds. He was followed by Andrew Connor who crossed the line in 25 hours 12 minutes. Sebastien Betouret took third place in 26 minutes 12 seconds.

It was shaping up to be a very good end to the year for JC after securing a win and a course record in both of his post-pandemic ultra marathons thus far. His next task would be to tackle the Hellstone Marathon where he was undoubtedly looking to seal his third win on the spin.

JC after winning Exmoor Coast 55
Even Storm Alex couldn’t stop Jacek from taking his second Exmoor ultra victory and his second course record in the space of three weeks


Tidy performances from Harry and Trev at Run to the Sea Ultra

Trev Elkins and Harry Smith at Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon
Trev Elkins and Harry Smith were representing Bournemouth AC in the Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon, following a 50k route from Ringwood to Hengistbury Head

After several months of hard, focused, dedicated training, Trev Elkins was just about ready to tackle his first ever ultra marathon. This was back in March by the way. That was when the Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon was originally scheduled to take place. Then Covid happened.

Literally about a week before Trev was due to take his place on the start line, everything began shutting down. Many races were getting cancelled, mass gatherings were denounced and lockdown restrictions came into force. Thus, the Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon was called off.

They didn’t cancel it though, they just rescheduled it to October. Of course that was a bit of a blow for runners like Trev who had spent months following a training plan and conditioning themselves for the big day.

It was what it was though and Trev just had to accept what had happened and move on. Disappointing as it was, there were of course bigger concerns in the world at that time.

After four or five months of no racing at all, events gradually began to return. With event organisers taking extra measures to ensure social distancing could be maintained, racing was at last back on scene.

That then meant that the rescheduled date for Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon was now looking a realistic proposition. This time Trev had had a lot less time to train for it, since he hadn’t known for sure if it was going to be on. He did what he could though in the time he had and he was ready to give it a good go.

One of the newer members to the Bournemouth AC ranks, Harry Smith, was also in the race that day as well. Harry came from Craig Palmer’s former club, Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers who are based near Luton.

He found work in Salisbury though and since moving down has been training a lot with Craig and Dave Long. Thus, it made sense for him to join a local club so he decided to make the transfer to BAC.

Although he was running a 50 kilometre race, Harry doesn’t really see himself as a long distance runner. He specialises more at the 5k distance. In fact, he’s never even run a marathon before. But he had done a few other 50k races, including the 5,4,3,2,1 Salisbury.

What he likes about ultras though is that the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed. You stop and chat to the marshals at the aid stations and generally just take it at your own pace.

Marathons are completely different. In a marathon, it’s more about going at the fastest possible pace you can that you’ll be able to maintain over the duration of the run.

So, you could perhaps say he’s one of those rare breeds or runner who focuses on both 5k and 50k distances. There can’t be too many of those around though to be fair.

Trev hadn’t really done any official marathons either. He had done a virtual marathon though in August, which he completed in 3 hours 23 minutes and had had one day where he ran 20.5 miles and then a further 7.5 miles later on in the day. Compared to the races he’d done previously though, the 50k represented a big step up in distance.

The route started off in Ringwood, following the Castleman Trailway for the first 18 kilometres. Then it went down Oakley Hill and headed through Broadstone and onto Upton Country Park.

For there it went round Holes Bay, and along the coastal path through Baiter Park and Whitecliff Park. Then it was onto Shore Road heading towards the promenade at Sandbanks.

Once on the promenade, it was all the way down to Hengistbury Head where the finish awaited. The good thing about that was, there would be a tailwind for the last 12 kilometres or so.

Trev was aiming for a time of around four hours but he would have been happy with anything under 4 hours 20 minutes. His plan was to set off slowly, at about 4:50 minutes per kilometre and continue that sort of pace until he reached the promenade at Sandbanks. Then he could see what he has left from there.

Since it was his first ultra marathon though and thus unknown territory, the main aim was ultimately just to complete the race. That in itself would be a good achievement.

Trev queues up for the start
Trev, (yellow jacket), queues up on the socially distanced start line

The runners were able to select their own start times which enabled the race organisers to arrange it so they were segregated into groups of six in order to maintain social distancing as much as possible.

Trev had selected one of the earlier slots at 7am, which meant a very early start for him. He then parked up at Hengistbury Head and jumped on the bus taking the runners over to Ringwood where the race began.

Trev takes to the start line
It was a journey into the unknown for Trev, on the left in the yellow jacket, but one he was very much looking forward to

Once he got his race underway, Trev soon found his rhythm, knowing how important it was for him to remain disciplined in order to give himself the best chance of going the distance.

For the majority of the kilometres along the Castleman Trailway, Trev was going at between 4:40 and 4:45 pace per kilometre, which was roughly what he’d planned, although a touch faster.

Because it was all on trail though, it did take a fair bit out of him and he was already feeling the fatigue in his legs as he got out and onto Oakley Hill. He knew there was still a long way to go though so had to keep pressing on as he headed towards Broadstone and then onto Upton.

Harry listens to the final instructions
Harry, on the left in blue, listens to the final instructions from the race director

Reaching Upton at around the 27 kilometre point, Trev was still going strong though and keeping his pace very consistent. He was now over half way into the run and it was so far so good at that stage.

After going through the 30 kilometre point he began to find it a little tougher and his pace began to drop a touch. He knew he just really needed to get onto the promenade though from that point and then he should be fine.

Harry waves at the camera before starting the race
Harry gives a wave to the camera before getting his race underway

Showing great character to dig deep and keep going, Trev made it to the 39 kilometre point and hit the promenade at Sandbanks. It was now a long straight road ahead, all the way to Hengistbury Head.

As he was heading from Bournemouth Pier towards Boscombe Pier he was greeted by his club-mate Rich Brawn who had come to run the last six kilometres or so with him.

Trev heads along the promenade towards Hengistbury Head
Trev hit the promenade at Sandbanks and set off towards Bournemouth

By that point Trev had already run over a marathon distance and Rich was expecting him to be in bits by then, knowing how he’d felt at the end of the few marathons he had done.

He was surprised to see that Trev was running well and still seemed to be going at a pretty good pace. He certainly didn’t look like he’d just run 44k at least.

Trev still going strong after already having gone over marathon distance
Trev was still going strong even though he’d already gone over a marathon

It was now a case of just keep going for Trev. His left leg was beginning to feel numb and his muscles were starting to feel tight but he was determined to keep going and not to relent on the pace too much.

As they maneuvered along the promenade past Boscombe Pier and on towards Southbourne, every so often Trev would stop to walk for 30 seconds or so, just to keep his muscles from cramping up and ensure he’d have enough in the tank to make it to the end.

Trev manages the race carefully as he gets closer the end
As Trev got closer and closer to end it became more about race management

Showing tremendous character and determination to push through the pain, Trev was getting ever closer to the finish and he was looking certain to get under his 4:20 target.

Sure enough, he made it the end of the promenade and climbed up the ramp towards Hengistbury Head. The last section of the course was across the sandy pathway through Hengistbury and over towards the Hungry Hiker cafe.

Trev gives his all as makes his way along the promenade
Trev was glad to see the back of the promenade when he turned up towards Hengistbury Head

As they approached the finishing straight, Rich peeled off and Trev raced through to the finish to complete his epic journey. He’d actually done just over 51 kilometres by the time he made it to the finish line and had come in in just over 4 hours and 11 minutes.

It was a monumental achievement from Trev. Not only had he completed his first ever ultra marathon, he’d also done it in a very good time as well, which was a real testament to his attitude and commitment.

His partner Gemma was there waiting for him when he got to the finish and she was over the moon that he’d got through it okay and come away with the result he wanted.

Trev took some time out after the race to do his bit for the local bird community

After the race they went to cafe so Trev could have some of the soup that they’d laid on for all runners. Shortly after they’d sat down, Harry came into the cafe and joined them.

That was when they discovered that Harry had completed the course in a mightily impressive time of 3 hours 25 minutes and that was certainly going to take some beating.

Of course, not all the runners had finished by that point as there were still many who had started later, so he didn’t know for sure whether it would be the winning time or not. Unsurprisingly though, it turned out that it was.

Harry had gone out very hard, going at a pace of 6:10 minutes per mile for the first four miles. Not sure what that translates to in kilometres – but ‘very fast’ is the simple answer, especially for a 50k ultra.

Harry gets away quickly in Run the Sea ultra
Harry was very quick off the blocks and it soon became clear he was taking no prisoners

He was well under 6:30 minute mile pace for the whole of the first 10 miles, so that was virtually a third of the race done already. In fact, his pace was pretty similar over the next 10 mile as well, proving that he hadn’t gone out too hard and was well capable of maintaining that sort of speed for a substantial distance.

Going through the marathon distance in 2 hours 50 minutes, Harry was still going well and with only five miles to go, it looked like he was going to be setting a very high benchmark.

Even over that last bit of the race, he didn’t allow his pace to drop too much and stayed very strong right till the end. It was a fine display indeed from Harry and his average pace at the end of the run was a sensational 6:35 minutes per mile.

Harry Smith after completing the race
Harry completed the course in an insanely quick time of 3:25:48

When the final results came through, Harry‘s time of 3:25:48 was almost five minutes quicker than that of Peter Lighting of Kent AC who finished second in 3:30:34.

Neil Martin of Overton Harriers took third place in the overall standings with a time of 3:42:06.

Harry looked remarkably fresh afterwards and you would never have guessed he’d just run a 50k race, especially at the speed he had. That performance demonstrated the huge potential Harry has and what a great asset he’ll be to Bournemouth AC going forward.

Harry had picked up a marvelous victory, taking a huge scalp by beating Peter Lighting

Natasha Lewis, who had come along to one of the recent Tuesday night training sessions with Tom Craggs, was also there and she had a fantastic run to finish in fifth place overall and first female. Her time was a magnificent 3:49:20.

That was enough to see off Samantha Amend of Belgrave Harriers who clocked a time of 3:54:19 which put her in 8th place overall and second female.

Tracy Cook of Dorset Doddlers was third placed lady, coming in with an impressive time of 3:58:49 which put her in 10th position overall.

With an official time of 4:11:11, Trev had managed to seal a top 20 place on the leaderboard. Considering it was his first ever ultra marathon, that was quite an achievement and one that he could be extremely proud of.

There were 454 runners in total taking part in the race with 446 of them managing to make it through to the end.

Although it got tough towards the end of the run, Trev thoroughly enjoyed his first foray into ultra marathons and is already thinking about the next Run to the Sea race which is in March 2021.

It would certainly be interesting to see how much quicker he could go with a full block of ultra focused training behind him and having had the experience of already running it once already.

That’s some way down the line though and he needs to have a good rest first and allow his legs to recuperate fully before gently easing himself back into training.

It was great to see two Bournemouth AC runners doing so well though in a Bournemouth based ultra marathon and was a good indicator of the strength in depth that the club now possess.

Trev and Harry show off their medals after the race
Trev and Harry celebrate a magnificent day out with a great result for both of them

Trev rejoined the club this season after a year of non-affiliation. Harry is one of an exciting crop of recent new Bournemouth AC recruits including Szymon Chojnacki who came over from Poland, Joe Arundel who has just renewed his membership, Matt Dicks, another exciting young talent, and Scottish international triathlete and sub-14-minute 5k man Grant Sheldon.

Add to that the emergence of Jasper Todd and Ollie James from the youth ranks along with all the other top quality athletes already at the club and future looks very rosy for BAC. The only problem is the lack of local road races where we could see them in action.

With the Bournemouth 10 that was scheduled for 1st November being cancelled, we might well have seen the last chance for a decent local road race this year go up in smoke which would be a great shame. In these unprecedented times though, it’s difficult to know what’s around the corner.





Back-to-back BAC foursome feature in Clarendon Marathon Relay

Lauren, Erin, Neve and Martha
Lauren East, Erin Wells, Neve East and Martha Preece collaborated to form the BAC 2 BAC team for the Clarendon Marathon Relay

The route for the Clarendon Marathon is every bit as picturesque and varied as it is challenging and undulating. Heading along the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Winchester, 90% of the course is off-road, featuring the very same country tracks and narrow paths that were once travelled upon by the ancient Kings and Queens of England. Admittedly though, they probably weren’t running it!

Although it’s an enjoyable and inclusive sort of race with a very friendly atmosphere, not everyone of course would be able to, or even want to run a full marathon distance.

Fortunately, for those who didn’t, there was still plenty on offer at the event. That included a half marathon race and a mini race consisting of the last five miles of the marathon route.

Another option available was to get a team of four together to run the marathon in the form of a relay. That was exactly what four budding, blossoming Bournemouth AC prospects did when they joined forces to create the BAC 2 BAC All Female team.

The BAC 2 BAC line up consisted of super sister act Neve and Lauren East, along with the effervescent Martha Preece and ever impressive Erin Wells. It was a young team, with Lauren the eldest if the four at 17, Neve at 15, Martha at 14 and Erin the youngest at 13.

Because the route was across the full marathon distance, each team member had to go to wherever the changeover point was for their leg to start and wait for their teammate on the leg before to arrive and hand over the baton.

Kicking things off for BAC 2 BAC it would be Erin Wells taking up the first leg. She would then handover to Martha Preece for the second leg. Then it was Neve East on the third leg and Lauren East on leg four.

With the storm passing over throughout the course of the weekend, there had already been a fair bit of rain, which made the certain sections of the route muddy underfoot. The rain seemed to get worse as the day went on as well which made it ever tougher for the runners on the later legs.

Coming off the back of a couple of good 5k race performances, Erin had every reason to be confident going into the Clarendon Marathon Relay.

Erin Wells in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Erin Wells makes her way through the scenic fields on the first leg of the BAC 2 BAC marathon journey

Completing the Running Grand Prix 5k at Goodwood in an impressive time of 18:47 and finishing as 1st female and 5th place overall in the New Forest Marathon 5k, she had already shown a lot of promise over recent weeks.

She got BAC 2 BAC off to a good start in the first leg of the relay, clocking a time of 51:05 and going at an average page of 4:58 minutes per kilometre. That put them in 9th place out of the 55 teams taking part and 1st out of the 9 All Female teams.

Erin Wells heads through the field in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Erin leaves other runners trailing in her wake as she puts the team 1st in the All Female category

She then passed the baton onto Martha who was on duty for the second leg. Martha had previously proved that she was a dab hand at off-road running, competing in the Southern Cross Country Championships at the beginning of the year, as well representing Dorset in both the Nation Inter County and South West Inter County Championships.

She also turned out for virtually all the Hampshire League and Wessex League Cross Country fixtures and finished 17th in the Hampshire League final standings and 3rd in the Wessex League.

Martha Preece in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Martha Preece took over the reins in the second leg for BAC 2 BAC

Following up on Erin’s run with a very similar standard display, Martha completed her leg in 50:54 which gave her an average pace of 4:57 minutes per kilometre.

She was also 9th quickest overall on the second leg and that moved the team up to 7th place in the standings. There had been some jostling of positions and they had dropped down to 2nd in All Female category.

Martha Preece hands over to Neve East
After moving the team up to 7th place, Martha hands over to Neve East for the all important third leg

Next it was the turn of Neve to assume posession of the baton. Neve was a standout performer in cross countries last season, taking the Under 15 Girls title with a clean sweep in the Wessex League, winning all four fixtures.

She also won a gold medal in the Dorset County Championships and ran well in the Southern Cross Country Championships and represented Dorset in the National Inter Counties and South West Inter County Championships.

Neve East in action in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Neve East brought tremendous pedigree but faced a tough task on the third leg

Neve‘s leg of the Clarendon Marathon Relay was the longest one and the toughest in terms of hills and terrain. The worsening conditions made it even more difficult for her but she gave it everything she had, completing her run in 1:03:38. That was an average pace of 5:08 minutes per kilometre.

The standard of competition was higher in that leg as well but Neve did well to go 18th fastest on that particular leg and she was 3rd quickest out of those in all female teams. That put BAC 2 BAC in 11th place overall and they remained 2nd out of the All Female teams.

Neve East crosses the bridge in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Neve was 18th quickest on her leg, preserving the team’s 2nd place in the All Female category

She then handed over to her sister Lauren who would bring it home for the team. Completing the final leg in a time of 48:48, Lauren managed an average pace of 5:19 minutes per kilometre.

Again, the competition on the last leg was stiffer but like Neve, Lauren was 18th quickest overall on that particular leg and 2nd quickest out of those in an All Female team.

Lauren East does her leg in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Lauren East took over from her sister Neve to shoulder the responsibility of rounding it off for the team

That gave BAC 2 BAC a final collective finishing time of 3 hours 34 minute and 23 seconds. Lauren had also managed to move them up a place in the overall rankings as well which gave them a final position of 10th. There were also confirmed as 2nd in the All Female category which was a fantastic achievement for the girls.

Lauren East in the Clarendon Marathon Relay
Gaining one place on her leg, Lauren elevated BAC 2 BAC to a top 10 finish and kept them as 2nd All Female team

Considering the treacherous conditions, the testing terrain and the undulating nature of the course, the Bournemouth AC girls had done themselves and their club proud.

Competing against athletes of all ages, they had demonstrated a maturity beyond their years and an exemplary attitude and will to succeed. No doubt there will be good things to come in the future from all four of the BAC 2 BAC girls.

BAC 2 BAC are ready for the Clarendon Marathon Relay
The BAC 2 BAC team got together at the end of the race to celebrate a terrific collective performance










Tamzin and Julian make marathon dreams a reality in Virtual London

Tamzin Petersen after completing her Virtual London Marathon
Tamzin Petersen was hoping to be right on the money when she took part in the Virtual London Marathon adding her own Bournemouth-based twang to the proceedings

Way back when she first discovered she was the lucky recipient of the club ballot place for the London Marathon, Tamzin Petersen did not envisage she’d be doing the 2020 London Marathon in her own backyard, right here in Bournemouth.

A lot has changed though since her name was pulled out of the hat towards the end of 2019. It’s been a strange year and the topsy- turvy nature of living in the midst of a pandemic has provoked much uncertainty.

When the pandemic first struck and lockdown restrictions were announced, the London Marathon organisers duly moved the event to October, assuming it would safely be able to go ahead by then.

As infection rates continued to sore though and the true impact of the virus was beginning to take shape, it looked increasingly unlikely that the race would be able to take place, even on the rescheduled date.

After much delaying and deliberating, it was finally announced that the 40th London Marathon would be an elite only race, with others getting the opportunity to take part in a virtual race, at a location of their choosing.

That meant that instead of pounding the pavements in the streets of London with 44,000 others, runners would end up having to tackle the 26.2 miles on their own, without the thrills and spills that only a real race environment can provide.

Julian Oxborough had been wanting to the London Marathon for a few years now so when the opportunity came round to take part in the virtual one, he couldn’t turn it down.

Even though that meant doing a marathon with virtually no training, Julian was up for the challenge and was keen to earn his London Marathon medal.

Although she was technically running the marathon on her own, it probably actually turned out to be the most social marathon Tamzin has ever done.

She had many friends accompanying her on route, including fellow Bournemouth AC members Louise Price, Estelle Slatford, Mike White and Phil Cherrett.

Unfortunately, living in Somerset, Julian did not have that luxury. He had to undertake the entire run on his own. And as if running a marathon on your own with no training wasn’t going to be tough enough, he also had horrendous weather conditions to contend with.

That was the weekend that Storm Alex passed over the UK, unleashing copious amounts of rainfall and vivacious winds with strong and sporadic gusts. For Julian that meant a very wet run was in store and with a wind speed of 20 miles per hour, it was going to be a tough road ahead.

Julian Oxborough is ready to set off on his Virtual London Marathon
Julian Oxborough was hoping it wouldn’t be too much of a wash out as he prepared to get his Virtual London Marathon run underway in his local area of Somerset

Julian and Tamzin weren’t the only Bournemouth AC members competing in the Virtual London Marathon that day. Rich Brawn and Sanjai Sharma were also taking part and they had entered the Dorney Lake Marathon which would provide them with the chance to do it in a race environment.

It would be Sanjai’s 27th London Marathon in total and his 19th consecutive one, which was an incredibly impressive tally. Rich had only done one before and that was April 2019, when he recorded his marathon PB of 2:55:23.

Sanjai Sharma doing his Virtual London Marathon at Dorney Lake
Sanjai Sharma opted to double up his Virtual London Marathon with the Dorney Lake Marathon

He kind of liked the idea of running one marathon but being in two different races so that was why he entered the Virtual London one as well as Dorney Lake.

He hadn’t realised that he would have to record his Virtual London Marathon on an app though so hadn’t anticipated bringing his phone with him when he ran.

Discovering it would be too heavy to take in the gel belt he was intending to use, he had to change the shorts he was going to wear to some that had a zip pocket big enough to put his phone in, as well as his gels and salt capsules.

That was a move that would later prove costly as the shorts got so wet that the salt capsules he’d brought with him seemed to disintegrate, leaving him at a greater risk of suffering cramp issues.

Rich Brawn doing his Virtual London Marathon at Dorney Lake
Rich Brawn was also hoping the Dorney Lake Marathon would give him the competitive edge he needed to get his desired time

The advantage of doing her own virtual marathon for Tamzin was that, as well as having friends running sections of it with her, she could also select a route of her choosing. Therefore, she could dictate at which points in a run she had a headwind and at which points she’d have the wind assisting her.

With the weather conditions as they were that day, those decisions could well prove crucial to her getting the best possible time she could.

For Tamzin, the aim really was to go sub-four-hours. That was something she’d attempted a couple of times before, once at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and once at Edinburgh. Although she did produce good times on both occasions, she missed out on the sub-four she craved, so this year’s Virtual London gave her the opportunity to put that right.

Julian wasn’t bothered about time. For him, the challenge would be simply to complete it. He’d already planned to have a short break at some point during the run, essentially dividing it into two to make it more manageable.

Starting off near Winton Rec, Tamzin’s route took her through Meyrick Park and then through Lower Gardens to Bournemouth Pier. Turning right at Bournemouth Pier she then headed off in the direction of Sandbanks.

In fact, the first 5k of her run was the only part of it she did alone. Throughout the rest of it she was joined by friends who would run with her for distances of their choosing.

Tamzin and Lou on the prom during Virtual London run
Tamzin makes her way down the puddle-stricken promenade with friend and club comrade Louise Price

When she reached the end of the promenade at Sandbanks she headed off towards Whitecliff Park and Baiter Park before looping round Poole Park and heading back towards the seafront.

Once she was back on the seafront and had reached the end at Sandbanks, she turned and was greeted by a tailwind as she headed back towards Bournemouth.

Tamzin on the promenade with Louise Price
Tamzin looks as if she’s enjoying herself despite the inclement weather

She was now at the half way stage and had been running the vast majority of her miles between 8:30 and 9 minutes per mile. On the 17th mile she began to start cranking the pace up a touch, then when she went past Bournemouth Pier she shifted into another gear.

Phil Cherrett waiting to do his bit on Tamzin's Virtual London run
Phil Cherrett tries his best to look enthusiastic about doing his stint with Tamzin as the relentless rain continues

By mile 21 she was had got it down to 8:13 pace and was still going quicker. Then at mile 22 she reached the end of the promenade and headed up the slope towards Hengistbury Head.

She headed out towards the chalets that look across to Mudeford, increasing her pace yet further until she reached mile 24. She then turned back to complete the last 2.2 miles before finishing her run.

Tamzin with Estelle Slatford and Mike White
Tamzin is accompanied by BAC teammates Mike White and Estelle Slatford as she nears the end of her epic run

With a finishing time of 3 hours 47 minutes and 19 seconds, Tamzin had well and truly smashed her sub-four target. She’d taken a very large chunk off her previous best and it was a sensational run, all things considered.

It wasn’t just the time that was impressive, it was the way she had done it as well, running so strongly over the last 10 miles or so to end up with a huge negative split.

Even though the weather was atrocious, Tamzin’s friends did not let her down and she was thankful to them for braving the elements and coming out to run with her and support her on her journey. That helped the time pass quicker and meant that it didn’t feel as hard as it otherwise might have.

By the time she stopped her app another minute had gone by, giving her an official time of 3:48:19 in the Virtual London Marathon results. That put her in 4,081st place overall out of 37,337.

She was 845th fastest female out of 18,369 and 345th in the 18-39 age category out of 6,395. It was certainly a result she could be very proud of and a day to remember for Tamzin.

Tamzin completes her Virtual London Marathon run
Tamzin was shattered after he run but very pleased with the end result after securing a massive marathon PB

As for Julian, he found it extremely tough and physically draining but he was determined to see it through no matter how long it took him. At the 19 mile point he went home for a break, as he’d planned, and took a bath as he was suffering from a bit of back pain by that point.

After refueling and changing into some dry clothes he headed back out to complete the remainder of his run. When he officially reached the marathon distance, he’d been running for a total of 6 hours and 51 minutes.

Of course the Virtual London Marathon was done on elapsed time though, so that included the break he’d taken, giving Julian a final time of 8 hours 11 minutes and 36 seconds.

That put him in 30,384th place overall and 1,175th in the men’s 55-59 category. Afterwards Julian confessed that it had been his toughest marathon yet but he’d shown tremendous grit and character to complete the run despite his lack of training and the hindrance of the weather conditions.

It didn’t put Julian off though and he’s already entered the ballot for next year’s race, which hopefully will actually take place in London. As of now the plan for Julian will be just to keep his fitness going and look for improvement over shorter distances.

Julian Oxborough is ready to earn another medal
There will soon be another medal to hang on the wall for Julian after he battled the elements well to complete his Virtual London run

In the Dorney Lake Marathon where Rich and Sanjai were doing their Virtual London, the rain was again relentless and the crosswinds were tough to contend with.

After losing the two salt capsules when his shorts got drenched, Rich did end up getting struck down by cramp on the 23rd mile. That slowed him down quite considerably over the last four miles or so and put pay to his chances of securing a PB.

Then when he got to finish line and took his phone out to conclude the run on his app, he realised it hadn’t actually been recording his run at all. He’d pressed the button which he thought was to start the run but there was another start button which was off the screen and he hadn’t seen that one.

Luckily, he was able to submit the evidence of the run from his Strava activity though and he was added to the results list. Finishing in a time of 2 hours 58 minutes and 32 seconds, he ended up in 549th position in the overall standings and 258th in the men’s 18-39 category out of 6,598.

Rich Brawn running his Virtual London Marathon at Dorney Lake
It was a disappointing end to the run for Rich after he was halted in his tracks by the dreaded cramp

Although it wasn’t quite the time he’d been hoping for, it was still a fairly decent result for Rich but it was just frustrating as once again, cramp had ruined what would otherwise have been a very good run.

Sanjai performed better than he was expecting to and despite the difficult conditions, he managed to come away with a Good-For-Age qualifying time, finishing in 3 hours 19 minutes and 38 seconds.

That put him in 1,484th place overall and 62nd in the men’s 55-59 category. Considering his training hadn’t gone as well as he would have liked, that was a terrific result for Sanjai and he was pleased with his run.

Sanjai running his Virtual London Marathon at Dorney Lake
Sanjai surprised himself to pull a Good-For-Age qualifying time of 3:19:38 out the bag

What this year’s Virtual London Marathon and the efforts of the Bournemouth AC runners to took part has taught us is that if you want something badly enough you have to get out there and make it happen, whatever the weather.

There were many hurdles that they had to overcome, what with the uncertainty of whether the race was actually going to take place at all, the absence of club training for a period of time and the lockdown restrictions they had to contend with.

Then, when they finally realised it was going to be on in virtual form, they faced stormy weather conditions which made an already difficult task that much tougher.

Nevertheless, Tamzin, Julian, Rich and Sanjai all got out there and did themselves and the club proud and, although it wasn’t on as grand a stage as it should have been, they will remember their fantastic achievements all the same.

Estelle and Tamzin after she completed her Virtual London run
Tamzin celebrates with Estelle after a magnificent run that saw her exceed all expectations








Rich, Tag and Sanjai find opening for marathon at Dorney Lake

Rich Brawn at Dorney Lake Marathon
Richard Brawn was one of three Bournemouth AC members looking to live up to their billing despite the difficult conditions at the Dorney Lake Marathon

For Rob McTaggart, Richard Brawn and Sanjai Sharma, this marathon journey began way back in January when they started training for what they thought then was going to be the London Marathon in April.

Little did they know that the world would be a very different place by the time the scheduled date of the London Marathon would come around.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the London Marathon organisers were forced to postpone the race. Thus it was penciled in for the first weekend of October instead.

That was of course frustrating for those who had already gone through a large part of their training block for the race but it simply wasn’t feasible to hold it at that time and they had to accept it.

As Coronavirus infection levels grew and with with the whole country placed under lockdown restrictions it began to look likely that even the newly planned October date could be under threat.

By the time it reached July they were due to start marathon training again but with social distancing still very much at the forefront and restrictions still in place even the October date was looking in doubt.

Nevertheless, the Bournemouth AC trio tentatively began to ramp up their training in case the race did end up going ahead but they weren’t overly hopeful.

The organisers did everything they could to try to find a way they could still hold the event but in the end had to concede that it simply wasn’t possible to keep it open to the masses.

That left runners with the option to either run a virtual marathon at a place of their choosing, or find an alternative race. That was when Rich began to look at the Dorney Lake Marathon as a possibility.

It was organised by Active Training World and they already had a Covid-19 safe strategy in place for races that would provide a safe and socially distanced environment for all those taking part.

Knowing he’d have a much better chance of getting a good time in an actual race and with the route being flat and fast, it was a no-brainer for Rich and he signed up.

There was also another marathon race being put together though and that was going to be in Wrexham. A plan had been formulated to hold an event strictly for runners capable of completing a marathon in under 2 hours 40 minutes. That would cut down the numbers of entrants and looked a good option for Tag.

Having completed 18 consecutive London Marathons, Sanjai wasn’t about the let that record fall by the wayside and he was looking to get to 20 in-a-row. That meant by hook or crook, even if it wasn’t going to actually be in London, he still needed to make sure he was doing the virtual race.

Again, he knew his best bet would be run it in an actual race environment, so he joined Rich in signing up for Dorney Lake. Now it was just a case of getting in the best training that he could to boost his fitness levels.

As the months went by, the big day was getting ever closer but doubts were emerging about whether the Wrexham Marathon would actually take place. That left Tag contemplating yet another wasted block of training.

He’d managed to get into fantastic shape as well and could tell from his training runs that was beginning to hit his best form. In the end he managed to get an entry for Dorney Lake as well so at least he knew the chances are he’d have something to show for all the grafting he’d done.

The only potential problem with Dorney Lake was that it’s a very open area, meaning on a windy day it could leave them quite exposed to the elements. They just had to hope for calm conditions on the day.

When the news came in that a storm was due to be passing over the UK that weekend, that was exactly what they didn’t want to hear. Strong winds and ongoing rainfall was forecast which was bound to make things a little more tricky for the race.

There was nothing they could about that though. They had to get on with it and give it their best shot and hope that the direction of the wind wouldn’t result in a strong headwind on any of the long straights.

Sure enough, when the morning of the race came, it was very wet and rather cold to boot. Whilst it didn’t seem overly strong, the wind was certainly noticeable and seemed gusty at times.

The runners were started off depending on their estimated finishing time. Tag was fourth on the list which meant he was starting in the red wave with all the top runners.

That included Will Mackay of Bedford and County AC who had finished second in the New Forest Half Marathon that Rich had taken part in two weeks earlier.

Tag had won the 5k and and finished second in the 10k at that same event so that was a useful little race sharpener for him ahead of the Dorney Lake Marathon.

Rich was 157th fastest according to estimated time so he started in the white wave which followed in a couple of pens later. As well as the New Forest Half Marathon, which he’d found tougher than he was expecting, Rich had recorded a 10k PB at St Albans in the build up to the race. He’d also ran a 5k best at the Bournemouth AC time trial in one of the Tuesday night sessions so he knew he was in fairly good form.

In terms of long runs though, he hadn’t had any 20 mile races to run in at marathon pace this time round so that was worrying him somewhat. He had taken part in the Virtual Wimborne 20 miler but that was on a very hilly course and he didn’t have a great run that day.

That left him unsure of whether he’d realistically be able to achieve the time that he wanted but he’d just have to roll the dice and give it a go.

Because his estimated time was over three hours, Sanjai was starting his race at a later time than Rich and Tag. He was due to set off at 11 o’clock so had a bit more time to play with before he would get his run underway.

Tag started with a guy who said that he wanted a sub 2:30 and that was kind of aligned with Tag’s target, given the conditions, so they set off running together.

After a bad experience at last year’s London Marathon where Tag had ended up falling off the pace over the last 10 miles or so, he wasn’t looking for a lonely run so it was a bonus to find someone who would be going at a similar pace.

They caught up a group and then merged in to form a bigger pack  that would stay together for what turned out to be the vast majority of the race.

Having fully tapered in the week leading up to the race and going through the carb depletion and carb loading process, Rich knew he’d have plenty of energy in store for the marathon. His intention was to go off at a pace that seemed comfortable but he was secretly hoping it would be quite a fast pace.

He went through the first three miles at an even quicker pace than what he was aiming for but after that settled into his intended marathon pace.

Right from the outset though, his muscles felt tight and he knew the chances of him getting round the full marathon without getting cramp were slim to none. That was a real worry.

There was a difficult crosswind on certain sections of the course and that was always likely to wear him down as the race progressed and make it more difficult to maintain the pace.

Rich Brawn taking on Dorney Lake Marathon
Although he was feeling strong on the opening lap, Rich was concerned that his muscles felt tight from the outset

On the 10th mile his pace dropped and he began to produce similar sort of split times to what he had at London the previous year when he recorded his current PB.

That was okay though. He didn’t mind that and knew he’s still be on for a good time if he could stick at that sort of pace for the remainder of the race. It wasn’t going to be easy though by any means.

Tag had been going at between 5:40 and 5:45 pace for the first 12 miles. On the 13th mile he decided it was time to crank it up a notch which forced those in the group he was running with to follow suit.

For the next couple of miles he was going at 5:39 pace before steadily increasing his speed even further over the next four miles. It was a great show of strength that must have put other members of the group into difficulty.

When he got to water station at just over 12 miles, Rich decided he was going to take one of his salt capsules. He put his hand in his pocket to get one out only to find that there was only one there.

His shorts had got so wet that the other two must have just disintegrated. Now he was in real trouble and the threat of cramp had increased further.

He was beginning to find it tough going and was thinking he might end up getting progressively slower over the second half of the race. Just at that point though, he got overtaken by two runners who were going side by side and looked like they were running together.

Remembering what his Dad had told him, Rich decided to up his pace slightly and tuck in behind the two runners. Rich’s Dad is a running coach for Chiltern Harriers and was there supporting him, alongside other members of his club who were taking part.

Soon beginning to feel the benefits of being sheltered from the wind, Rich decided to stay right where he was for the entirety of the third lap. It made a huge difference and by the time he got to mile 20 he was starting to feel good again.

Rich Brawn in action at Dorney Lake Marathon
Rich’s shorts had got so wet that the salt capsules he had in his pocket seemed to disintegrate

By the time he reached the mile 20 point, Tag‘s arms had gone numb from the persistent crosswinds and he started to get very cold. He wasn’t about to let it slip now though and continued to push on well.

In fact, he proceeded to churn out decent split times all the way to the end and with 26.36 miles on the clock, he made it to the line in a tremendous time of 2:29:04.

That was only 11 seconds off his best ever marathon time which he’d recorded at London in 2017. To be able to produce that sort of time in conditions like that was a real testament to the superb form he was in.

With an astonishing average pace of 5:39, it was the fifth quickest time out of anyone on the day. That was a great achievement for Tag given that there plenty of runners there of a very high standard.

Unfortunately for Rich, his race didn’t end so well. On the 22nd mile, he could feel his muscles starting to seize up and he began to get the dreaded pangs which told him cramp was on the way.

After the second lot of pangs, he took out his shot of CrampFix and tried to drink it. It didn’t go down too well though and the liquid just seemed to nestle in his chest. He actually couldn’t breathe and it felt like he was drowning so he had to stop and try to cough it up.

As he’d stopped, the cramp then kicked in in his left hamstring and that all too familiar excruciating pain was back. He lay on the floor, flat on his back and two of the slower runners who were passing by on a different lap came to help.

Rich had seen that when footballers get cramp they usually get other players to bend their toes back, so he got the other two runners to do that.

Very quickly the pain seemed to subside and he got up gingerly and headed off on his way, thanking the runners who had helped him. Even though he’d got back going though, he was very worried it was going to happen again.

Rich Brawn in Dorney Lake Marathon
One again cramp had struck and ruined Rich’s race which had been going quite well until then

He managed to get into a slow jogging sort of pace which he then stuck at for the remainder of that mile and the next mile as well. Then as he got to mile 25 he started to feel the muscles release.

The CrampFix must have worked all of a sudden. He now felt like there was a good chance he could make it to the line without a relapse and was wondering whether to crank the pace back up for the last couple of miles or just carry on taking it steady.

In the end he decided it wasn’t worth the risk so continued coasting until he reached the end of the 26th mile. The finishing line was now in sight and he was virtually home and dry, or wet, rather, as the case may be. At that point he began to up the pace and pushed through to end which came at 26.45 miles.

As he crossed the line, Rich stopped his watch at just under 2 hours 58 minutes. During the cramp incident though, his watch had paused for a bit though so he now wasn’t sure if he’d actually even got a sub 3. He faced an agonising wait for for the chip time results to come through before he could find out for certain.

As for Sanjai, his training hadn’t gone so well for a number of reasons so he was thinking he’d probably do well to get in under 3 hours 30 minutes.

Sanjai Sharma tackles Dorney Lake Marathon
Sanjai Sharma set off at the later time of 11am for his marathon

He managed to settle into a steady pace at the beginning though which he knew would be good enough to get him a Good-For-Age qualification if he was able to maintain it throughout.

Despite the treacherous conditions, Sanjai stayed strong and stuck to the task at hand. Crossing the line in a time of 3:19:32, Sanjai finished in 258th place overall and 27th in the M50 category.

Sanjai Sharma in Dorney Lake Marathon
Although his training wasn’t what he would have wanted, Sanjai was still determined to give a good account of himself

It was a remarkable run from Sanjai under the circumstances and a much better result than he’d been expecting. Crucially as well, it should be enough to see him get into next year’s London Marathon on a Good-For-Age basis which will mean he can do his 20th consecutive one.

There was relief for Rich when his official time came through at 2:58:29 which put him in 148th place. Since he’d been worrying about the amount of time that his watch had auto-paused for, he was actually quite pleased with that result, even though it wasn’t the time he was hoping for.

Rich Brawn pushes on in Dorney Lake Marathon
Rich was relieved to see that he’d still got a sub-3 time despite the cramp issues

Running the entire race out front on his own, Will Mackay picked up the victory, finishing in an incredible time of 2:26:14. He was followed by Jack Blaiklock of Thames Hare & Hounds who came in fresh out the pub to finish just over a minute later with a time of 2:27:17.

Chris Richardson of Metro Aberdeen took third place in 2:27:41 with Samuel Barnes of Serpentine taking fourth in 2:28:38. In total 522 runners successfully completed the race with the last one coming in at 6 hours 31 minutes. A further 29 runners who started the race didn’t make it through to the end.

There were some other impressive performances from Dorset based athletes, in particular Brian Underwood who secured a spectacular new PB of 2:35:16. That was good enough to put him 12th in the overall standings and 1st in the M40 category.

Poole Runners man Tim Jones also recorded a terrific new PB of 2:49:35 which put him in 76th place overall and 20th in the M40 category. His running has sky rocketed over the lockdown period and that was huge improvement on his previous best.

Also weighing in with an emphatic PB, Damian Huntingford of Wimborne AC took 35 minutes off his previous best to finish in 95th place with a time of 2:52:11. That put him 32nd in the M40.

Damian had done many similar sort of training runs to Rich in the build up to the race, including the Virtual Wimborne 10 and the Virtual Wimborne 20. Rich could tell that Damian was in excellent form going into the marathon at Dorney and his time was a just reward for his terrific efforts in training.

Sanjai Sharma going well in Dorney Lake Marathon
Sanjai managed to achieve a Good-For-Age time finishing in 3:19:32

The  best thing about the Dorney Lake Marathon really though was that it gave all the runners who had been training hard during lockdown and over the summer months an opportunity to have something tangible to show for it.

With marathon races being cancelled left, right and centre, those who had worked tirelessly to get into peak shape needed something definitive to aim for that was not going to end up getting canned like all the rest of them.

Active Training World stepped up to plate and provided that at Dorney Lake and that was something all the participants were hugely thankful for, whatever the weather.

























Heather defies inclement weather in Isle of Wight Marathon

Heather Khoshnevis - Isle of Wight MarathonHeather Khoshnevis at the Isle of Wight Marathon
The conditions couldn’t have been much worse for Heather Khoshnevis as took to the start line for the Isle of Wight Marathon but she wasn’t about to let that put her off

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and a gentle autumnal breeze enthused an air of calmness and tranquility… That was how Heather Khoshnevis might have envisaged it when she signed up for the 64th edition of the Isle of Wight Marathon on the first weekend of October.

Sadly though, Storm Alex had other ideas as it swept over the southern reaches of the country bringing with it a ferocious wind, persistent rain and a biting chill in the air.

It was certainly less than idyllic conditions for Heather and the other 170 or so runners looking to get through the 26.2 mile route from Cowes over to Freshwater and back on the north-western side of the island.

As she sat in the car waiting to be called to the start line she could feel the whole vehicle rocking in the blustery wind and when she made her trip to the portaloo it felt as if she was in Doctor Who’s Tardis about to take off!!

At that point there was certainly a temptation to just sack it off and head home but Heather convinced herself and the others she was with that the weather would improve and she’d regret giving in to it.

Plus there were so many other runners there who had stayed and seemed determined to get out there and do what they came to do. If there’s one thing Covid-19 has taught runners it is that races are not be taken for granted. If you get the opportunity to take part in a real race, with real people, you have to seize it and make the most of it.

So, when she got the call, Heather gingerly proceeded to the start line to get her race underway. It was her 136th marathon and in all those previous races, she can’t have done many in worse conditions than this.

Once she got going though, there was only ever going to be one outcome. As she made her way along the undulating, rural roads, in the teeming rain, with the gusty wind penning her back, she was probably wondering why on earth she was putting herself through it.

Anyone who is capable of completing 135 marathons though clearly has plenty of character and determination and that day Heather demonstrated it in abundance.

Crossing the line in a time of 3 hours 51 minutes and 34 seconds, Heather came in in 54th position overall and was 7th quickest lady. That was enough to net her the F60 category win as well, which made the ordeal she’d had to go through that much more worthwhile.

All things considered it was an excellent performance from Heather and one that she could be immensely proud of. She’d gone almost 15 minutes quicker than she’d run in the New Forest Marathon two weeks prior as well so that was a pleasing improvement for Heather, although being on the road for the entire duration would have helped somewhat.

At the time she was doing it, Heather almost felt like giving up running, but once she got home, showered and dried with a huge plate of food in front of her she felt very differently.

That was the point at which she smiled to herself and realised she was either a hero, or an absolute nutter!! Or perhaps even a quintessential blend of both. Either way, it was a good feeling.

Heather Khoshnevis after completing the Isle of Wight Marathon
An F60 category win for Heather was a well deserved reward for her efforts



Erin Wells goes full throttle in Running Grand Prix at Goodwood

Erin crosses the line in the Running Grand Prix 5k
Erin Wells was hoping she’d have the drive and the acceleration to put in a high quality performance in the Running Grand Prix at Goodwood

There can be few better places to race than Goodwood Motor Circuit if you have a need for speed and the Running Grand Prix organised by RunThrough presented athletes with a great opportunity to do just that.

And with the course being on a race track it meant a smoot, tarmac surface was guaranteed and since it didn’t clash with any motor races, it would also a traffic free environment on this occasion.

Interestingly, Goodwood Motor Circuit is the only classic track in  the world to remain entirely in its original form and that dates back to September 1948, when it was first open to the public. It played host to Britain’s first post-war motor race meeting and then became the permanent venue.

Each lap of the course is around 5k which makes it ideal for staging a running event and the RunThrough Running Grand Prix featured five different distance races. A 5k, a 10k, a Half Marathon, a 20 Mile and Marathon.

That was enough to wet the appetite of one of Bournemouth AC‘s brightest young prospects, Erin Wells. She was lining up on the grid for the 5k race where she was hoping to put the pedal to the metal in a big way.

It wasn’t going to be easy though as at just 13 years of age she was up against mostly older and more experienced athletes than her. But she has raw talent and a maturity that allows her to be competitive at a higher level.

Her impressive cross country displays last season demonstrated the huge pedigree she has. That included a 2nd place finish in the Wessex League standings and 6th in the Hampshire League aggregate for the Under 13 Girls.

On top of that she also recorded a 27th place finish in the National Cross Country Championships in  Nottingham and 30th in the Southern Championships at Parliament Hill.

The line up for the Half Marathon race included Kirsty O’Callaghan, who has recently been training with the Bournemouth AC group on Tuesday nights.

The previous weekend both Erin and Kirsty had been in action at the New Forest Marathon event, where again, Kirsty took part in the Half Marathon and Erin ran the 5k.

That involved a much tougher off-road course though with its fair share of ups and downs. In comparison to that, the Running Grand Prix, on paper at least, looked like it should be smooth sailing.

There was only one element that could prevent the runners from hitting their top speed at Goodwood and that was the wind. With it being a racing track, it was a very open area which left it exposed if it so happened to be a windy day. And sure enough, it was.

Erin Wells in the Running Grand Prix at Goodwood
Erin shifts into top gear as she speeds round the racing circuit

That made it much tougher than it otherwise would have been. In the 5k race, Erin performed extremely well though, despite the adverse conditions, and finished as 4th placed female out of 23 and 20th overall out of 120 runners.

Registering a time of 18 minutes and 47 seconds, she’d gone over a minute quicker than she did at the New Forest Marathon and that was despite the ferocious winds she had to contend with.

Erin Wells completes the Running Grand Prix 5k
Erin reaches the line in the 20th best time on the day which made her 4th fastest female

Erin thoroughly enjoyed the event though and said she would love to try the race again but without the gale force conditions!

Erin Wells at Running Grand Prix at Goodwood
In spite of the blustery conditions, Erin enjoyed the race

Completing the Half Marathon course in 1 hour 35 minutes and 23 seconds, Kirsty finished as 6th female out of 52 and 48th overall out of 174 runners.

That was almost 20 minutes quicker than she’d run at the New Forest Marathon the previous weekend so it was a pleasing result for Kirsty.

Kirsty O'Callaghan completes the Running Grand Prix Half Marathon
Kirsty O’Callaghan arrives at the finish to conclude her Half Marathon race

Once again, it was good to see another successful running event taking place though and again proving that, if organised well, there is no reason why races can’t continue to prosper in these unprecedented times we are now living in.

Erin Wells after Running Grand Prix at Goodwood
Erin picked up a nice new medal and t-shirt for completing the race


















Linn turns to marathon running at Race The Tide

Linn Erixon Sahlström at Race The Tide
It was a rare foray into ‘short’ distance running for Linn Erixon Sahlström when she took Race The Tide; even though it was still a tough, hilly marathon

In these uncertain times you certainly cannot take anything for granted and that unfortunately goes for running events as well. With the spread of infection going up and down in different areas of the country, coronavirus has brought about an air of unpredictability in all walks of life.

In running terms that means that you can enter an event and spend months training for it but there are no guarantees that that particular event will actually go ahead. It’s a very tricky situation for athletes to be in.

Take Linn Erixon Sahlström for example. She was due to take on the Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 165km race on Friday 18th September but just five days beforehand, she discovered it had been cancelled.

It was a massive blow for Linn since she’d spent the whole summer training for it. That had meant heading over to the Purbeck for some crazy hill sessions and getting plenty of ups and downs in over Hengistbury Head.

It was also a disappointment as it was also going to be part of a very personal journey for Linn where she would be returning to the scene of the crash. It was on Mount Snowdon where she’d had a nasty fall and injured herself very badly in her last race there.

You can tell a lot about a person’s character from how they handle a disappointment though and Linn wasn’t going to let it get her down. Then, as she was collecting the post later that day though, she found she’d received two race numbers. She’d completely forgotten about the post-pone Race The Tide marathon that was happening that same weekend!!

So, instead of heading off to the mountains, she took her camper van and headed off the Devon coast to hit the trails. In this day and age, it’s simply best to “stay flexible, embrace the uncertainty and find your stride” as Linn puts it.

She’d done a lot of climbing and a lot of long, slow endurance runs over the summer in preparation for the UTS but absolutely no speed work. Now she found herself competing in a marathon, which by her standards, classifies as quite a ‘short’ race. Nevertheless, she was determined to embrace the challenge.

Linn Erixon Sahlström at Mount Snowdon
When Linn’s hopes of revisiting Mount Snowdon were dashed, she found an alternative and went for it

The Race The Tide event was in the Flete Estate at Mothercombe. The marathon included two estuary crossings – one at Burgh Island and the other one racing the tide 19.9 miles in over Erne Estuary before concluding with a picturesque sea view at Mothercombe.

The route incorporated 1800 meters of elevation so that was still more than enough to turn the legs of a very accomplished fell runner to jelly.

The tide was in when they first started out so the first kilometer was more of a wade through the water than a run. It definitely woke Linn up though and set the tone for what was to come.

Because there were different start waves though, it was difficult to know who was in what position. Linn’s goal was to push as hard as possible though so she ended up slogging it out, small trotting up the inclines to get ahead of whoever was in front of her.

Deciding to go off in the first wave, Linn felt it would suit her better. That way she could be first female to begin with, although she knew there would be some speedy women behind her.

Quite early on in the proceedings, a light-weight lady with minimalistic shoes and a flying gait went past Linn and she knew she was never going to be able to race her. From that point on, her focus was to keep whoever else was behind her, behind her.

Scenic view from Race The Tide
The Race The Tide course certainly featured it’s fair share of water hazards for the participants to contend with

It was an extremely hilly route which also included sand dunes and some stunning forests. At around 12km from the finish, Linn started to seize up and she was forced to hobble through the last 8km.

Her lack of speed training had taken its toll but Linn was determined to give it everything she’s got. She was desperate to prove to herself that the hill training she’d done was competitive enough for a top three podium place.

She’d only ever done the marathon distance once before, when she did the Bournemouth Marathon and it was definitely on the shorter end of her spectrum. It was by no means a fast race though, given the terrain.

The woman who had overtaken Linn was Lucy Commander and she went on to finish in 5th place overall, completing the course in a time of 4 hours 19 minutes and 23 seconds.

Taking the accolade of being the second quickest female, Linn crossed the finish line in 4:52:12 which put her in 24th place overall and 1st in the FV40 category.

The next lady in was Emma Langstaff who finished just over four minutes behind Linn, clocking a time of 4:56:39. She took 27th position overall.

Linn Erixon Sahlström after finishing Race The Tide
Linn celebrates completing the Race The Tide marathon with her partner Shelley after finishing as 2nd placed female

It was a fantastic result for Linn, especially as ‘short’ races are not really her specialty. She was pleased to have done her first race of the year. Interestingly though, she found that the marathon had hurt almost as much as a 100 miler because you’re at your max all the time.

Covering 26.63 miles over the course of the race, Linn also racked up an elevation gain of over 5,900ft so, although it wasn’t quite to the level of what the Ultra-Trail Snowdonia would have offered, it was certainly still a very good workout.

The overall race was won by Matthew Hart who finished in a time of 3:51:47. He was just ahead of Stuart Walker who came in just 8 seconds later in a time of 3:51:55.

Linn has another so called ‘short’ race in November which is a 50k night run with hills. That will mean she now needs to put some speed training in so she may well be forced to drag herself to the track a few times over the coming month.








New Forest Marathon finds route to successful running event

Louise Broderick in the New Forest Marathon
Louise Broderick was amongst several Bournemouth AC members competing in various distances at the New Forest Marathon event but she was one of only three to brave the full Marathon

The restrictions placed upon all of our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic have made it very difficult for running events of any description to be held, with mass-gatherings generally discouraged and social distancing and safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

That has forced event organisers to really think outside the box when formulating plans for how they can successfully stage races and ensure the participants and volunteers can operate in a safe environment and that the risk of virus transmission is kept to a minimum.

The New Forest Marathon and Community Fund Team went above and beyond to ensure that the New Forest Marathon event went ahead and that runners had at least some form of racing they could go out and enjoy that would give them that adrenaline buzz they’ve been craving for so long.

The constant changing of government policies in regard to what people can and can’t do prevented enormous challenges, even forcing a late change of venue for the event which is usually held at Brockenhurst in the New Forest.

For this year’s edition though, they switched to the wide open space of the St Giles Estate in Wimborne, giving the runners and volunteer teams the perfect opportunity to compete or coordinate in safe and secure surroundings.

The event featured a Marathon, a Half Marathon, a 10k and a 5k race and also gave runners the opportunity to compete virtually, on a course of their choosing should they wish to do so. There were Bournemouth AC members taking part in each of the four distances and they couldn’t wait to dust off their trail shoes and get back out there for some real race action.

Only three of them were brave enough to tackle the full Marathon distance though and they were Heather Khoshnevis, Wayne Walford Jelks and Louise Broderick. Richard Brawn, Estelle Slatford, Ken Parradine and Jasper Todd were giving the Half Marathon a go, along with Kirsty O’Callaghan who has just recently joined the BAC training group and her partner Ed Malcolm.

Going for a New Forest Marathon weekend double-header, Rob McTaggart was looking to battle for supremacy in both the 5k on Saturday and the 10k on Sunday. Alex Goulding was also competing in the 10k race and a trio of budding BAC junior stars were in the line up for the 5k on the Saturday morning. They were Oscar Ewen Matthews, Emily Coltman and Erin Wells.

The New Forest Marathon event is sponsored by Garmin, meaning the prizes for winning any of the races included a nice new watch. That was enough of a temptation for Rob McTaggart to throw his hat in the ring. Looking the times from the previous year, he thought he’d be in a with a pretty good chance of a lucrative return on his entry fee.

Just nearing the end of a decent block of marathon training as well, Tag was in top form. He’d been working towards an appearance at the Wrexham Marathon which had been set up for any athlete capable of running a sub 2:40 marathon. It now looks like that race may not be going ahead but he has Dorney Lake as a backup plan so could find himself in action there instead.

For the 5k race at the New Forest though, Tag got round in 17:35 which was enough to see him comfortably pick up the win. Although that wouldn’t be a fast time for him in an ordinary 5k, given the terrain and the hilly nature of the course, that was actually a strong performance.

The next quickest was Ian Howard who’s time was 1-and-a-half minutes down on Tag’s effort. He came in at 19:05.

Oscar Ewen Matthews made it two BAC members in the top three when he recorded a time of 19:22, so that was an excellent result for him. Erin Wells posted another magnificent time to come in as first female and make it three BAC members in the top five.

She completed the course in a time of 19:53 which, considering she’s in the Under 15 age bracket is incredibly impressive. Her cross-country endeavours from last season may well have made her more adept to handle the rigours of a tough off-road course.

Erin competed in the South-West Inter Counties, the Southern and the National Cross Country Championships toward the beginning of the year, as well as all the Hampshire and Wessex League fixtures. And what’s more, she excelled in all of the above.

Also in the Under 15 age bracket, Emily Coltman ran well as well, getting round the course in a time of 22:02. That was enough to give her 12th place in the overall standings and she was third placed female, just behind New Forest Junior Annabel White.

That was a terrific result for Emily in a race where she was facing predominantly adults of all age groups in amongst the 69 participants who successfully completed the 5k route.

Marathons often seem to conjure up a heroic tale or an inspiring story amongst the competitors with many raising money for good causes or looking to challenge themselves to achieve a certain goal.

Having set herself the challenge to train for and run a marathon over the lockdown period, Louise Broderick was all set to give it her best shot in the New Forest Marathon.

She was also raising money for Mind, the mental health charity, which was a cause she found to be very close to heart. In fact, it was the getting out and exercising aspect that she found most helps her with her own emotional, physical and mental wellbeing and she always looks to encourage and inspire others to do the same.

After seeing the huge response she’d had in terms of sponsorship and well-wishers, Louise was determined to do them all proud – and that’s exactly what she did.

Louise Broderick during the New Forest Marathon
As well as doing it for a personal challenge, Louise was also raising money for the mental health charity Mind

Despite the constant ups and downs and testing terrain underfoot, Louise absolutely smashed it, getting round the grueling two lap course in a mightily impressive time of 3 hours 55 minutes and 26 seconds.

That saw her finish up as the 9th fastest woman out of 119 and put her in 74th position overall in a field of 409. She was also 6th out of 33 in the F40 category. It was a result that even she herself was amazed by.

Then, after completing the race, when she found out she’d raised over £1,000 for Mind, she was overwhelmed. She’d never imagined she’d attract anything close to that amount and it made the pain that she went through and the loss of a few toenails all the more worthwhile.

She’s now contemplating doing a road marathon once everything is back to normal and supporters are allowed out to watch, just for the experience. Judging by her effort on the St Giles Estate course, she’ll do pretty well in that if she does get the opportunity.

Louise Broderick completing New Forest Marathon
Louise celebrates after completing the marathon in a terrific time of 3:55:26

As a bit more of a seasoned marathon connoisseur, it seemed a long time to Heather Khoshnevis since she’d run her last marathon, six months ago, so she was glad to be back out racing and putting her endurance to the test again.

Seeing herself as more of a road runner though, despite enjoying some lovely trail runs of the summer, Heather wasn’t really ready for 26.3 miles of rough!!

The course at the original venue was 50/50 between road and trail, so that would have suited her better since she fines the rugged paths tough to contend with.

Heather Khoshnevis at the New Forest Marathon
It had been six months since her last marathon and Heather Khoshnevis was itching to get stuck in at the New Forest Marathon

Feeling that she’d perhaps been a little over complacent about her endurance and not having put in enough longer training runs, she began to get into difficulty at around 18 miles.

She had been going very well up till that point at a pace of 3:40 per kilometer. Then it all fell apart somewhat from there. It is difficult though returning to something you previously took for granted.

That said, Heather soldiered on well and managed to grind out the remaining miles to finish in a time of 4:06:29. That was enough to see her pick up the F60 category win and place 13th woman. She was 113th in the overall standings.

That was still a decent result for Heather even though she may have felt it wasn’t the vintage display she’s become accustomed to. Nevertheless, it was good to put some mileage and marathon muscle memory back into the legs before she takes on the Isle of Wight Marathon in just over a week’s time.

Heather Khoshnevis after the New Forest Marathon
Heather won the F60 category with her time of 4:06:29

People take part in marathons for all kinds of different reasons though. For Wayne Walford Jelks, his main goal at the moment is just to shift some timber and he knew this was a race that could certainly help him in that respect.

Driving buses and coaches for a living and the unhealthy eating habits that come with it have caused Wayne to put on a few extra pounds but running could well be the catalyst to help him get back in shape again, as it has been for so many.

Managing to stay in his fat burning zone throughout the entire run, Wayne completed the tough two lap route in a time of 5:53:54. That put him in 383rd place overall.

Wayne Walford Jelks after the New Forest Marathon
Wayne Walford Jelks (left) with Mike Collins who also ran the Marathon

Ty Farrer of Huntingdonshire AC picked up the win in the Marathon race, getting round a tremendous time of 2:46:38. Only four men finished in under three hours which goes to show how hard it actually was.

Sunday’s proceedings began with the 10k race which saw Tag return to the St Giles Estate, already with one victory in the bag. Could he repeat those heroics a second day running though?

Opting for a tactical start, Tag let many of the other runners in the wave go before him, knowing he’d then have the incentive of having other athletes to chase as he worked his way round the course.

He did actually end up overtaking all the runners except one. The one he wasn’t able to catch was the man who emerged with the fastest time of all. That was Nick Harris-Fry of Orion Harriers. He got round in a phenomenal time of 35 minutes 40 seconds.

That meant Tag had to settle for second place on this occasion, finishing in a still impressive time of 36:35. It may not quite have been what he was hoping for but still, a win and a second place wasn’t a bad return for the weekend.

The other Bournemouth AC member in the race was Alex Goulding and he finished in third place, getting round in a time of 38:38.

Alex had been hoping for a bit more tarmac but there was none of that. The whole route was trail but there was quite a lot of variation in the terrain which kept things interesting at least.

Having looked at the course map beforehand, Alex was expecting the route to be quite flat but of course, looking at a 2D map you don’t really get much of a sense of the elevation you’ll be facing. Thus, it turned out to be very undulating which made it difficult to keep the tempo high.

Much like Tag, Alex wasn’t really a fan of the new format of racing. Usually he relies on other competitors around him to help him work out what sort of pace he should be going at. In this case though, he didn’t have that.

Many of the runners who had started before him were much slower than he was so he couldn’t get a gage on how fast he should be running in comparison to them. He just had to look at his watch and try to find the right pace that he’d be able to sustain for the duration and with so many hills on the route, that wasn’t easy. In fact, quite often he found he was going too slowly and needed to speed up.

It was also difficult to find which was the best path to run on. There were often three tracks where you could choose between the indented left-hand side, the right-hand side which had loose stones, or the raised bank in the middle.

Overall, Alex felt he did okay, although it would have been nice to have gone a bit faster. The terrain was just too tough though. When he reached the line, he was pleased to have got to the end.

Later on that day it was the turn of the Half Marathon runners to shine.  That gave Rich Brawn and Estelle Slatford the chance to take centre stage. The star of the show though, was undoubtedly the rawest talent of them all in Jasper Todd.

Even though he’s in the Under 17 age bracket, Jasper is fast proving that he can mix it with the best of them and this half marathon would be a great opportunity for him to showcase what he can do on the big stage.

Rich Brawn at the New Forest Half Marathon
Rich Brawn arrives at the St Giles Estate in Wimborne for the New Forest Half Marathon

Once the race start was announced, Rich made his way over to the start area with Kirsty O’Callaghan and Ed Malcolm. Each runner was set off on their own using a traffic light system where once it turned from red to green, they were good to go.

Looking to use the Half Marathon as a training run for his impending Dorney Lake Marathon, Rich was hoping to string a good sequence of miles together at marathon pace.

Having not been running at full capacity over the lockdown period, Kirsty knew she wouldn’t be anywhere near her top form but she was excited to get that racing buzz again and also to gage where her fitness was at.

As for Ed, he made an impromptu entry on the day so hadn’t even known he was going to be running it. Since he was there with Kirsty anyway though, he thought why not give it a go.

The course started on a long, slight uphill curve and it soon became evident to Rich that he wouldn’t easily be running every mile at marathon pace. He just about managed it for the first couple of miles but then hit a very steep incline on the third mile.

On the way up the hill, Jasper had pulled up alongside Rich and Rich asked him what sort of time he was looking to do. Jasper said around 1 hour 23 minutes, which would have been extremely impressive on a course like that.

Jasper went on looking very strong and Rich hung back, conscious that it was more of a training run that a race for him and ensuring he wasn’t expending too much energy as he progressed.

On the sixth mile, Rich was caught up by his mate Neil Sexton who represents Poole Runners and Vegan Runners. The pair had often ran together in previous road race league fixtures and they decided to adopt that same strategy in this race.

They chatted as they went along throughout the remainder of the race but were still keeping to a decent pace given the ups and downs and energy sapping gravelly paths they were often running on.

Eventually they reached the long, grassy straight where they could see the inflatable finish line in the distance. It was still quite a long way away though.

They had a Fareham Crusader just in front of them and did consider putting in a sprint finish to try to catch him up. Since they’d all been set off at different times though, it probably would have been pointless as they still may not have finished ahead of him in the final standings.

Rich Brawn and Neil Sexton finishing the New Forest Half Marathon
Rich arrived at the finish line with Neil Sexton who he’d been running with for the last eight miles

Crossing the line together, Rich finished in a time that he’d recorded as just under 1 hour 27 minutes but it was given as 1:27:11 on chip time. That put him in 11th place overall and second to Sam Davis in the M30 category.

Since he’d run much faster than Rich over the first five miles, Neil had completed the course in a time of 1:25:13 which put him in 8th place in the standings.

Before they’d arrived at the finish though, Jasper had continued on his way in a very strong and solid fashion. Despite the tough and varied terrain, he’d managed to power through with extraordinary aplomb.

His earlier prediction of 1 hour 23 minutes turned out to be bang on and he concluded his race in a chip time of 1:23:01. That was enough to see him take third place in the overall standings. It really was a magnificent run from Jasper and outlined the huge potential he has for future road races.

Jasper Todd finishes the New Forest Half Marathon
Jasper approaches the finish line after a stellar run that saw him take third place overall

Having been in the lead for virtually the whole race, Charlie Palmer of Bedford & County AC thought he was cruising towards victory. But he hadn’t realised that behind him, Andrew Siggers of Kenilworth Runners was actually going quicker.

In the end Andrew managed to catch up and sweep straight past Charlie so he knew at the point he’d been relegated to second place. It did kind of highlight the possibility though that in this format of racing, you could actually be the first finisher and think that you’ve won the race but yet still not be winner if someone that started much later had got round in a quicker time.

Andrew’s winning time was 1:19:12, with Charlie having to settle for the runner up spot with his time of 1:20:02.

Kirsty posted time of 1:55:09 which was way down on what she’d be capable of producing at her best. Having not raced for such a long time though and on such a difficult course, it was a decent effort from her.

She was 18th placed woman out of 219 and 5th in the F20 category. Overall she was 127th quickest out of the 551 who participated.

As for Ed, he wasn’t too far behind, coming in with a time of 2:08:48 which put him in 258th place overall and 3rd in the Senior Men’s category which was for anyone in between 20 and 30. Considering it was a spur of the moment decision for him to enter, that was a pretty satisfying result.

Ed Malcolm, Kirsty O'Callaghan and Rich Brawn after the New Forest Half Marathon
Ed Malcolm, Kirsty O’Callaghan and Rich Brawn were pleased with their afternoon of racing

Finding the course very challenging, Estelle finished up with a time of 2:08:34, which was her slowest ever half marathon time. She didn’t care though really. She was just pleased to be back out there and to have a proper organised race to take part in. That was the most important milestone of all on the day.

She was 54th placed woman in the race and was 17th out of 72 in the F40 category. In the overall standings she finished up in 255th position.

Estelle Slatford after the New Forest Half Marathon
Estelle Slatford was grateful to be back at a proper running event after such a long time with no races being staged

Despite the grueling nature of the course, Ken Parradine wasn’t going to be stopped in his tracks and he made it round successfully, posting a time of 2:23:58. That saw him take 5th place in the M65 category and 373rd position overall.

Once again it was nice to see a running event going ahead with no hitches and with everyone doing what they could to make it as safe an environment as it conceivably could be.

The organisation from the New Forest Marathon team was impeccable and they can certainly hold their heads up high after this weekend, knowing it was a job well done.