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Toby Chapman and Gemma Bragg let fly in Highland Fling

Toby Chapman negotiates Highland Fling
Toby Chapman ventured up to Scotland to hit the West Highland Way in the 53-mile trail ultra called the Highland Fling

Two Bournemouth AC bravehearts in the shape of Toby Chapman and Gemma Bragg took themselves up to bonnie Scotland to try their luck in the 53-mile Ultra Trail Marathon they call the Highland Fling.

And if 53 miles of trail doesn’t sound tough enough, if you throw 7,500 ft of elevation into the mix you then start to get a true reflection of the enormity of the task Toby and Gemma were faced with.

Toby likes a challenge though and has a tendency to pick races that will push him to the brink and force him to dig as deep as he possibly can to have any chance of completion. And even then, despite the months of hard training and heavy mileage to get himself into peak condition, there are no guarantees it’s going to come together on the day.

Last year Toby tested himself to the extreme in the monstrous Mont-Blanc Marathon, an 82km mountain ultra with 6,000 metres of vertical. After over 9 hours out on route and having gone 47 km in, Toby finally had to abandon the race. He’d been suffering with altitude sickness for four hours and nothing he tried seemed to cure it.

That didn’t deter him from hitting the mountains again though and for his next challenge, Toby took to the Spanish Pyrenees for the Ultra Pirineu, a 110km ultra with 6,800 metres of elevation gain. This time Toby made it all the way to the 96km point when frustratingly, he could go no further, suffering from severe dehydration.

Toby Chapman in the Highland Fling
After being unsuccessful in his two previous ultra attempts, Toby was determined to set the record straight at the Highland Fling

Whilst it was gutting for Toby to get to within 14km of the finish and not be able to see it through, rather than letting him get him down, it fuelled the fire in him to take on and conquer more tough challenges in his future endeavours. Hence it was now time for him to test his metal again in the Highland Fling.

As for Gemma, she’s taken on a massive challenge of her own last year when she became a first-time mother. That meant taking virtually the whole year out from running whilst she was either pregnant or looking after her new-born son.

This year she’s been back in action and after running the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon in February where she finished as 3rd lady and the New Forest Running Festival 20 miler where she finished as 2nd lady in extreme snowy conditions, she had quickly been able to re-establish her competitive edge.

Gemma Bragg in Highland Fling
Gemma Bragg had made a very good comeback but the Highland Fling would be her toughest challenge yet since becoming a mother

The Highland Fling would be her first ultra though since becoming a mother so it was always going to be a huge challenge for her but one she was certainly capable of rising to.

Unfortunately, she’d been suffering with a leg injury in the lead up to the race though and hadn’t actually ran for three weeks. She has since received a diagnosis from a physio and it turns out she has a lateral tibial plateau stress fracture to the left knee.

Gemma looking happy in HIghland Fling
Although she’s been suffering with a knee injury, Gemma was determined to give it a go

Gemma believes it may be an injury that occurred through overuse as it seemed to surface after she’d completed her final long run before the race – a 34 miler. Since then she’s been hardly able to put any weight on it. This was far from the ideal preparation and dampened her expectations somewhat but nevertheless, she felt she had to at least give it a go.

Despite the debilitating injury, Gemma still somehow managed to do 19 miles before eventually throwing the towel in. The fact she was able to do that much whilst in pain every time she put any weight on the injured leg is a testament to her character and competitive desire.

Gemma Bragg going well in Highland Fling
Gemma had been wanting to do the Highland Fling race for a good few years so it was gutting that she wasn’t fully fit and able to give it her best shot

For the rest of her holiday, she could only really look up at the hills as she couldn’t even walk, so she wasn’t able to do much more exploring of the area, as she and her husband Jez, who also runs for BAC of course, had planned.

She still appreciated the stunning backdrop that the route provided and has vowed to be back to do it justice another time.

Gemma gives a wave at the Highland Fling
Gemma hopes to return to the Highland Fling and conquer it some time in the future

As for Toby though, he had no such issues. He knew he was in form leading up to the race after taking victory in the Taunton Marathon two weeks prior in a superb time of 2 hours 41 minutes.

The Highland Fling course follows the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long-distance footpath. It runs through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Toby Chapman in the midst of the Highland Fling
Toby had been in top form in the build up to the Highland Fling so was hoping to do well

The first part of the race was relatively flat and Toby took full advantage of that, reaching the marathon point, which was effectively half way, in 3 hours 21 minutes. Then it became a bit more technical when running by the Loch which slowed his speed down somewhat.

He had to hike the last few hills as his pace fell away a bit. It didn’t matter though because he’d made it to the end. He’d conquered his first 50 miler and it pretty damn good. And not only had he completed the course, he’d also aced it, finishing in a time of 7 hours 57 minutes and 50 seconds.

Toby Chapman makes strides in Highland Fling
Toby did tremendously well to finish in a stellar time of 7:57:50 to take 5th place in the standings

That elevated Toby to the lofty heights of 5th position overall, a quite marvellous achievement when you consider that 673 people made it to the finish. It demonstrated well the strength of Toby’s running at the present time and also what a lot of potential he has to grow and improve even further.

It also means that Toby can lay to rest the ghosts those previous two attempts last year. He’s done it now. He’s finished a 50-mile race and that speaks volumes about his character, his grit and his iron will.

Toby Chapman finishing Highland Fling
Emerging triumphant after completing the tough, hilly 53 mile trail route, Toby was pleased to complete a 50 mile race for the first time

Sam Laws and Billy McGreevy attack ABP Southampton Marathon

Sam Laws completes her first ever marathon
Sam Laws was taking on her first ever marathon at the ABP Southampton

Your first marathon is always going to be a nerve wracking experience. It is the culmination of three months of hard graft. All those long, draining weekend runs and then back out there again the next day before the body has fully recovered. It’s always an arduous task to get fully prepared and get into the best possible shape before taking to the start line for the 26.2-mile adventure. Then, after all that training, the pressure is really on to perform on the big day to make all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.

Choosing the ABP Southampton Marathon for her first attempt at the distance, Sam Laws was going on a journey into the unknown. She’d certainly done her due diligence though, putting the high mileage in in training and getting out on those long training runs every Sunday.

Sam had undertaken most of her training with her friend Julia, who is a member for Christchurch Runners, and it was a big day for both of them, with Julia competing in the London Marathon on that very same day.

Sam Laws gives it all she's got in the ABP Southampton Marathon
Sam had certainly done the hard work in training and now it was time to put it into practice

Also representing Bournemouth AC in the ABP Southampton Marathon that day was Billy McGreevy. After forgetting to register in time for the London Marathon, Billy turned to Southampton as a backup option.

Having trained for a sub 2:50 marathon, Billy was optimistic about performing well. There was always the weather to take into consideration though. In the days leading up to the race a mini heatwave and swept the nation, resulting in sky high temperatures for the time of year.

Under normal circumstances, that would be fantastic, but if you’re running a marathon, it could potentially be disastrous. Given the weather conditions, Billy decided to adapt his race plan accordingly, with the intention to go off a bit slower.

Once the race started though, the adrenaline kicked in and, enthused by the many onlookers and the buzzing atmosphere, Billy set off pretty quickly. Despite the heat, he reached the half way stage in 1 hour 26 minutes, which was actually ahead of schedule. He felt good though at that point so he wasn’t worried.

The course was two loops around Southampton, incorporating four trips over the Itchen Bridge and twice through St Mary’s football stadium, home to the mighty, or perhaps this season no so mighty, Southampton FC.

Billy McGreevy in the ABP Southampton Marathon
Reaching the half way stage of the race in 1:26, Billy was going well at that point despite the heat

By the time he’d climbed the Itchen Bridge for the third time though, at around 16 miles, he knew a sub 2:50 wasn’t on the cards. Then at 22 miles, he blew up. His legs began to cramp up and he was really struggling with the heat.

He soldiered on though and managed to make it to the finish, crossing the line a time of 3 hours 4 minutes and 41 seconds. Although it wasn’t the time he had targeted and trained for, given the outrageously hot weather, it was still a very good effort.

That put Billy in 23rd place overall in a field of 1,103 people. That’s not a bad return by any stretch. It’s always disappointing as a runner when you don’t hit your targets of course but sometimes the conditions just don’t allow you to reach your full potential. That was certainly the case for Billy. It was still a decent effort though and one he should be fairly proud of when he looks back on it.

Billy McGreevy again in the ABP Southampton Marathon
Billy encountered some issues around mile 22 when his legs began to cramp up but he persevered and made it to the line in 3:04:41

As for Sam, given that it was her first marathon, she was understandably feeling very nervous and emotional on the morning of the race. She kept to a steady pace in the early stages, fully aware of the enormity of the task that lay ahead.

Clutching her bottle of Lucozade, she carefully negotiated her way through the course, eating jelly beans every 45 minutes to keep her energy levels up and regularly dousing herself with bottles of water to try to keep cool. This was much needed on such an unusually hot day for the time of year.

Sam Laws makes her way round the ABP Southampton Marathon course
Although she was nervous to being in with, Sam soon settled down and found her rhythm once the race had started

The crowds were fantastic and buoyed her on with their cheers of encouragement. Sam was particularly pleased to see the familiar face of her friend Claire as she crossed the Itchen Bridge for the third and fourth times which gave her a much-needed boost.

After crossing the bridge for the fourth and final time, Sam was now 19 miles. She’d kept in mind the pre-event advice of making sure she fuels herself well in the first half of the race and don’t go too hard until after mile 18 as that will feel like the half way point. It’s always so much tougher in the latter stages of a marathon.

Sam Laws runs in the sun at the ABP Southampton Marathon
Following the advice she was given beforehand, Sam took it quite steady for the first 18 miles

After passing the 22-mile marker, Sam was now into completely new territory. She’d been up to 22 miles in training but never any further. By this point her legs had started to burn and ache. She was hurting and her legs were beginning to stiffen up.

She changed her running gait to extend the legs a little further in an attempt to try and free them up. This seemed to help a little so she kept it up. Soon she found herself passing through Riverside Park toward the 25-mile point where she spotted her partner and fellow BAC compatriot Ian White.

Sam Laws gives a wave as she goes along
Sam gives a wave as she notices the ever dependable Ian White on the sidelines

Ian gave her a bottle of water, which she primarily used to throw over herself. In return she hurled a half empty bottle of Lucozade at him. Just in case he needed a refreshment as well. This gave her the final push and she knew she was nearing the end. With less than a parkrun left to go, she knew she could do it.

Managing to keep her pace, she passed the 26-mile mark and the finish was almost in sight. As she turned around the last corner, the very welcome sight of the finish flags came into view. The noise began to build as she approached the finish line. The clock showed a time of 4:24:39, which meant she had achieved her goal of a sub 4-hour 30-minute finish.

Ian White and Sam Laws after ABP Southampton
Ian White complained of having more blisters than Sam did after rushing round to be there to cheer her on at any point he could

In tears as she crossed the line, Sam stopped her watch and made her way through the finish tunnel. She received her medal, bag and t-shirt and went to meet up with Ian, at which point more tears arrived. She felt amazed that she had completed the distance and very proud to have achieved her target.

Sam’s official time was even more impressive at 4:21:20. That put her in 500th placed overall and made her 70th lady. She was also placed 25th in the V40 category. All-in-all, a very pleasing result for Sam and thoroughly well deserved after all the hard work she’d put in.

Later on, she discovered that Ian had more blisters than her, having covered over 10 miles in flip-flops whilst out supporting her. He was promptly told to man up though as this was Sam’s day. She had done it. She had completed a marathon!

Thumbs up for Sam Laws after completing the ABP Southampton Marathon
A bit thumbs up for Sam for smashing her target of 4 hours 30 by coming in at 4:21:20

Dave Parsons and Ian Graham’s Guernsey Easter Adventures

Ian, Peter and Dave before Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Ian Graham (left) and Dave Parsons (right) made their annual trip over for Guernsey Easter Running Festival

BAC ‘supervets’ (explanation later) Ian Graham and Dave Parsons made the trip to Guernsey this Easter for the Running Festival which comprises four races in four days. It is fair to say that they are stalwarts of this event with Dave competing for his 20th successive year and Ian for his eleventh time in the last 12 years.

With Easter being so early this year, they were a little concerned about the likely weather (the forecast was pretty awful) and both were travelling with no great expectations as Ian had only just returned from a walking holiday in Yorkshire which had hampered his preparation and Dave had done very little training following a recurring calf injury which restricted his ambitions to merely getting through all four events without injury.

Good Friday dawned cool and wet although, for once, there was very little wind so the conditions were a lot better than expected. For the first race (5k road), the rain was quite light and Ian ran strongly to finish in 138th place (238 finishers) in 23:35. Dave found himself running quicker than expected and was going quite well until he was sick just before the 4k mark! Nevertheless, after a brief stop, he continued and was satisfied with his 174th place finish in 25:46.

Both were competing in the ‘super vet’ category which comprises all those over 60 and is based on ‘Age Graded’ performance. Ian was 3rd male with 74.06% and Dave 6th with 66.36%.

Ian Graham finishing the 5k in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian striding towards the finish of the 5k
Dave Parsons finishing the 5k in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave finishing a little while later

 The second race of the series was held on Easter Saturday over the ‘full course’ cross country course on L’Ancresse Common and is the only race which has remained the same every year of the Festival. Although very windy, the rain held off for the majority of the time.

Ian, knowing that he was now in with a chance in the ‘super vet’ category went off very purposefully and with the underfoot conditions much better than anticipated, ran a highly respectable time of 38:32 and finished in 69th place (125 finishers).

Guernsey Island Athletic Club have produced their very own ‘age graded’ table for this event (no idea how they have done this) and Ian was a clear winner of the Mens Super Vet category with 74.35%. Dave’s plan for the race was to start off steadily and see what happened. Unsurprisingly this resulted in an extremely steady time of 45:54 for 108th place and 7th male ‘super vet’.

Ian Graham in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian looking far too cheerful at the finish
Dave Parsons in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave making sure he didn’t get too cold!

After the first two races, Ian was now equal first in the Male ‘Super Vet’ category with Dave 6th, just behind old rival Brian Holden from Guernsey.

Easter Sunday’s event was the 4 x 1 mile cross country relay race on the far part of L’Ancresse Common and is part of the ‘Stonecrusher’ course. The good news is that this is not part of the overall series and so is really just an opportunity to mix with the younger (and unfortunately much quicker) athletes who seem to skip around the quite tough course with two short but steep hills.

Ian and Dave submitted a team sheet with just the two of them on it and the organisers of the festival found them two other athletes who were not part of any full team either. The second good bit of news was that the first of these runners was another Easter Festival regular, Richard Batchelor from AFD. Our final runner was to be a newcomer (an 80 plus year old) who had come last in the first two races and by some considerable distance at that!

This was fine in that there was absolutely no pressure on Ian and Dave. Ian ran the first leg in 7:14 (very similar to last year) and came in 35th of the record entry of 50 teams. Dave set off as hard as he dared on the very uneven rabbit hole ridden course and ran 8:23 and we had dropped to 41st team. Richard flew round in 5:22 and we were now up to 30th! As expected, Peter was by far the slowest of the day, however, he did manage to hold on to 49th place so we weren’t last!!

Ian Graham at the top of the ascent in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian at the top of the first steep ascent
Dave hands over to Richard in Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Dave handing over to Richard Batchelor
Ian Graham & Dave Parsons in Guernsey Easter Runs relay
Ian and Dave ’relaxing’ after their legs! 

So now for the last race, the 10k road race on Easter Monday on the point to point course from Grand Rocks to St Sampsons. The early morning weather was atrocious with torrential rain and strong winds. Dave took the hire car to the finish and caught the second of the runners’ busses thankfully provided by the organisers. However, he arrived at the start with over an hour to go.

Meanwhile, Ian had opted to jog to the start from the nearby hotel. There was a baggage vehicle provided which left five minutes before the start. Dave managed to take off numerous layers of clothing that were needed to keep warm and dry and made the decision to keep wearing his leggings for the race to keep his legs warm and protect his calf. (He later confirmed that he just couldn’t be bothered to try to take off the leggings). Ian with the overall super vet title at stake, went off in very determined fashion.

For most of the race, the wind was favourable until turning towards the finish with 2k left when it became a strong headwind. Ian seemed to take this in his stride and finished in a time of 47:29 and 97th place (212 finishers) and was a very deserving winner of his category with 76.13% and thus the overall winner.

Dave was very happy to get round with his calf intact and although it was his slowest ever 10k race by some considerable margin, he was happy with 54:30 and 153rd place (64.95%) and with Brian Holden about one minute behind, Dave was 5th male in the category overall.

Ian Graham storms to an overall category win in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian storming to overall category win
Dave Parsons at the harbour in Guernsey Easter Runs
Dave looking splendid in his leggings!

 It was back to the hotel to shower and change for the Presentation in the afternoon where there was the usual opportunity to relive the weekend and chat to old friends. There was even the chance to reflect on a much better performance in the Quiz which was held on the Saturday night, swapping last year’s rather inglorious wooden spoon success with a mid-table performance finishing 9th of 17 teams.

Ian Graham and Jenny Morgan collect their winnings in Guernsey Easter Runs
Ian and ladies Super Vet winner Jenny Morgan collect their ‘winnings’

After another terrific year they now have the 2019 festival to look forward to. And just 12 months to get fit for it!

Promising runs from BAC crew at Bournemouth Bay 10k

Trevor, László and Damian at Bournemouth Bay Run
At the Bournemouth Bay Run Trevor Elkins (left) and Damian Boyle (right) are with László Tóth (middle) who did the Half Marathon

It’s that time of the year where the races come thick and fast as we build up to the showpiece event of the running calendar, the London Marathon. For some Bournemouth AC members, that meant heading to the seafront again, just as they had the previous weekend at the Easter Quarter Marathon. Instead of Boscombe though, it was over to Bournemouth Pier this time for the Bournemouth Bay Run.

The event started off with a 10k race, which featured four BAC hopefuls. Trevor Elkins, Damien Boyle, Jo Dilling and Julia Austin were all looking for strong performances to compliment the hard work they’ve been putting in in training.

The route went from Bournemouth Pier in the Boscombe direction, along the promenade, past Boscombe Pier and then a bit further on until heading up Gordon’s Zigzag and onto the overcliff. It then went back along the overcliff road before heading back onto the promenade at Boscombe Pier. It was then back along the seafront the Bournemouth Pier.

The Bournemouth AC men in the race, Trevor Elkins and Damien Boyle became locked in a battle for supremacy.  At first Trevor was ahead as they made their way along the promenade.

The first 5k went very smoothly for Trevor, going through in 18:51. It was the zigzag that really knocked the stuffing out of him, interrupting his rhythm and resulting in a downturn in pace for the immediate aftermath.

Trevor Elkins on promenade at Bournemouth Bay 10k
Trevor Elkins made a good start to the race, finding some good pace along the promenade

Overtaking Trevor on the zigzag, Damian pressed on when he reached the top. Trevor tried to track him once they got to the top but Damian had pulled away by a couple of seconds.

A bit of cramp started to kick in at that point and Trevor had to utilise some breathing exercises to get himself back in contention. It had taken him a couple of kilometres to recover from the zigzag and get back to his earlier pace.

It was then a case of holding on for the final 2k for Trevor and he really had to dig deep in the final mile as they battled the headwind on route back to Bournemouth Pier.

It was Damian who got to the line first though, clocking a superb time of 38:31 which put him in 12th place in a field of 920. Trevor filed in 12 seconds later to take 13th place a time of 38:43. There was very little to choose between the two in the end.

Damien Boyle approaches finish at Bournemouth Bay 10k
Damien Boyle ran well to take 12th place in a time of 38:31

Although he’d had a good run and bounced back well from a couple of recent disappointments, including a slightly off-key display in the Bournemouth 10 mile race, Trevor wasn’t wholly satisfied with his run.

He was pleased with his pace for 8 kilometres out of the 10. But it was the 2km in the middle that let him down a bit. Trevor has run some cracking 10k times on the treadmill and has been hitting the 36’s in the gym. He’s finding it hard to replicate that form outside though. It’s frustrating because he knows the aerobic fitness is there. It might just be that he needs a little more strength in his legs.

The primary focus for Trevor is now the Vitality London 10k in June. He’ll be looking for a vast improvement on his Bournemouth Bay 10k time when he heads to the nation’s capital. He should be well capable of that though, especially as the Vitality London 10k is a very fast and flat course.

Trevor Elkins in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Trevor was fairly pleased with his time of 38:43 but feels there is still room for improvment

Initially, Damian’s main target was the London Marathon, where he was looking to attempt a sub 3. However, he ‘accidentally’ signed up for a 50 mile ultra in Snowdonia, so that has now become his main priority.

The theory behind this is that blowing up at London would mean suffering for an hour at the most, whereas not being prepared for two ascents up Snowdon could mean over 10 hours of suffering.

That said, he’s still hoping for a small PB at London and will look to complete it in around 3 hours 10 minutes. It will be his first time of running the London Marathon so he’s very much looking forward to finding out what all the fuss is about.

Damien Boyle in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Damien is running the London Marathon next weekend and a 50 mile ultra in Snowdonia in May

There were also two Bournemouth AC ladies in action, with Julia Austin and Jo Dilling both hoping to make a splash. It was Julia’s second race for BAC, after the Easter Quarter Marathon that she did the previous week.

Having recently moved to Southbourne from Princes Risborough, Julia is still trying to find her feet and settle into the area. Joining BAC will hopefully help her integrate into her new environment and push on with her running hopefully as well.

Julia Austin powers along in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Julia Austin was taking part in her second race for BAC and it was her first in the club vest

Julia quite enjoyed her run in the Bournemouth Bay 10k, although she felt the course was harder than it looks, with a lot of steady inclines in there besides the dreaded Gordon’s Zigzag. She crossed the line in 60th place overall with a time of 44:50.

That made her 13th placed female and 1st in the F45 cateogory, just as she was in the Easter Quarter. Although her run was a minute or so slower than her last 10k time, which was in August 2017, it was still a pleasing result for Julia and it is nice to see her already picking up some age category wins.

Julia Austin nears the finish in Bournemouth Bay 10k
Only having recently moved to the area, Julia has hit the ground running, taking her 2nd F45 category win in as many races

After doing two cardio classes the day before the Bournemouth Bay Run, Jo Dilling was kind of in two minds about doing the race. It was the thought of being annoyed with herself for not doing it but persuaded her to give it a go.

Jo Dilling powers along the promenade in the Bournemouth Bay 10k
Despite doing a couple of cardio classes the day before, Jo Dilling found the strength to run well in the Bournemouth Bay 10k

It was a good job she did as well as it turned out to be a pretty good run for Jo and she was not far off her time in this two years ago. She crossed the line in 76th place overall in a time of 45:43.

That made her 14th placed woman behind Julia and put her 2nd in the F45 category, also just behind Julia. If she can keep her training with the club going, Jo is hoping she could improve on this next time.

Jo Dilling nears the finish in the Bournemouth Bay 10k
Jo finished up 14th placed lady and was 2nd to Julia in the F45 category




Julian Oxborough hits Yeovil Half

Julian Oxborough after Yeovil Half Marathon
Now residing in Somerset, Julian Oxborough was competing in the Yeovil Half Marathon for the second year running

It was another big step forward for Julian Oxborough as he took on and completed the Yeovil Half Marathon on Sunday 25th March. Julian now resides in Somerset, so for him it was a fairly local race but, although he no longer lives in Bournemouth, he still has the club very much in his heart and is proud to represent BAC, just as he did in his younger and much faster running days.

Julian is currently at a stage where he’s just building up his fitness again after many years of no running at all. His main focus at the moment is the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on 20 May so he was doing the Yeovil Half Marathon as a part of his training schedule for that.

Having completed the Bournemouth 10 race last month in 2 hours and 5 minutes, Julian had a good platform to work from him and was hoping he would see some further improvement after the training runs he’s been putting in.

The Yeovil Half Marathon is now in its 8th year and it has been growing in popularity each year. This year the race organisers actually reopened the entry after the cut-off date to allow more runners to sign up following the cancellation of many events the previous weekend due to snow. That meant over 1,500 people were set to compete.

Julian and Ruth at Yeovil Half Marathon
Julian and his parftner Ruth who was there to support him as always

The course has changed a little over previous years but the support for the runners whilst out there was as exemplary as ever. The first mile has a downhill stretch and incline before the route flattens out until around the 9-mile mark. The next couple of miles contained some tough hills before leading to the long home straight for the last two miles.

It was pretty tough going for Julian to start off with as he was feeling sick and he was actually sick at miles 4 and 6. He did consider pulling out but keeping his long-term goal of the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in mind, he managed to persevere as he knew he needs to get these long runs in.

The tremendous support gave him a massive boost though and when he got to around the 8 mile point he started to feel a little fresher. He managed to dig in and showed great character and fighting spirit to make it through the remaining 5 miles.

After clocking a total of 13.27 miles, Julian finally crossed the line in a time of 3 hours 2 minutes and 45 seconds. This was a course best for him, beating his time of last year by a massive 14 minutes. He came in 1,531st position overall and took 121st place in the male 50-59 category.

Julian Oxborough's Yeovil Half Marathon medal
The finisher’s medal Julian was given after completing the Yeovil Half Marathon

Ultimately, Julian was pleased with how it went, especially given that it was a tough, hilly course, including an elevation high of 854ft. It was a very good training run for him and will serve him well as he continues to up the ante with his marathon training. He’s certainly starting to reap the benefits of the longer runs that he’s been doing and his times are steadily improving.

At the end of the race Julian received a great medal, which can be used as either a fridge magnet or a bottle opener, and a t-shirt. He thoroughly enjoyed the race and would definitely recommend it to others.

Julian Oxborough in his Yeovil Half Marathon t-shirt
Finishing the race in 3 hours 2 minutes and 45 seconds, Julian bettered his time in the previous year by 14 minutes


It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to be successful in sport and here are some of your fellow athletes that have done just that!!  Well done to them!!

These pictures are available for you to use on your Facebook, websites and Instagram pages.  If anybody wants a copy to frame, perhaps for a Xmas present, please contact for a larger file copy.  This will cost £2.50 for BAC club funds.




BAC’s Men’s BAL Team narrowly miss out on a Div 2 Win

On Saturday 3rd June the BAC BAL team travelled to Yate, near Bristol for their second match of the year.  The team had made a solid start to their Division 2 campaign finishing 4th (of 8) in the first round.  Despite having some key athletes unavailable, the team battled hard throughout the day.  The desire to gain every point possible was in everyone’s minds which led to some superb performances throughout the day.  The result was a 3rd place finish, narrowly missing victory by only 5 points.  This places BAC 3rd in the league table, just outside a promotion position.

James Lelliott once again hauled in a large number of points starting the day with a win in the A string Long Jump.  He was partnered in that event by Rob Woolgar who also took a victory in the B string.  Lelliott was 2nd in the A string Triple Jump and 4th for A string in a quality Javelin event, with Andy Brown taking victory in the Javelin B string.

Dan Brunsden once gained many points in the heavy throws whilst Alex Cox and Cameron Hale performed fantastically in High Jump taking A and B string victories.  Cox cleared 1.90 and Hale 1.80, but both were very close to achieving their next heights.  Hale then teamed up with Ryan Long, who made his BAC BAL debut, for the Pole Valut.  Long cleared 3.80 to take 3rd place in the A string, whilst Hale also came 3rd in the B string with 3.40.

Despite some superb performances in the track events, BAC’s only victory came from Josh King, who once again set a new PB (9:46.66) in the A string 3000m Steeplechase.  Roy Long gained a valuable 6th place in the B event.

Rob Green had earlier kicked off the track events with a solid 3rd place in the A string 400m Hurdles in what were windy conditions.  Jamie Grose and Lewis Sainval both set seasons best times in the 800m.  Grose, 5th in the A string 1:58.80, and Sainval, 3rd in the B string set 1:58.51, just some 0.13s short of his PB.

A BAL team debut for Henry Bramwell-Reeks found him taking a decent chunk of his previous best time to set a new PB of 4:23.42 for 6th place in the B string 1500m.  He battled hard in what was a tough race and the 17 year old did not seem fazed by the high standard BAL competition.  Jamie Grose finished in a commendable 5th place in the A string to complete his middle-distance ‘double’ of the day.  David Long and Rob McTaggart, the ever stalwarts of track distance events, finished both 4th (A) and 3rd (B) in the 5000m.

The sprinters had a tough day in their individual races but came together as a strong team in the 4x100m Relay.  Ben Arnold, James Lelliott, Scott Rutter and Ryan Long carried the baton round to a 4th place.  Muiris Egan, Lewis Sainval, Jamie Grose and Rob Green took 6th place in a tough 4x400m Relay.

The 3rd place ranking in the Div 2 table sees the BAC BAL Men’s team achieve yet another all time highest position.

Team Manager Tim Hughes was once again delighted with the performance of his athletes.  “All of the athletes in the team today ran, jumped or threw out of their skin!  It was a superb team effort from a bunch of guys who want, not just their own performances to be superb on the day, but also those of their team mates and the team as a whole.  It was great to bring in some new faces to the team today and to see them perform well and really enjoy the atmosphere too.”

Hughes goes on to talk about the next match.  “Today, we beat two of the teams that beat us in Round 1 and we narrowly missed out on a victory.  We have a great squad of athletes to call upon this year and results to date are demonstrating that if we work hard and really want it, we could get promoted yet again.  I’d like to see that and I know the lads will now settle for nothing less!  The next match at Bedford is going to be fun.”

Josh King on his way to Victory in the 3000m Steeplechase Photo: Lisa Shepherd

Match Result:

BAC athletes selected for South West Schools

Congratulations to the BAC athletes chosen to represent their county at the regional schools finals.

The BAC athletes selected to represent Dorset in the South West Regional Finals at Exeter on Saturday the 18th of June 2016 are: Elle Ward, Yasmin Bridet, Serena Sutherland, Gemma Kennard, Abigail Richardson, Poppaea Bramwell-Reeks, Olivia Galloway, Izzy Wedderburn, Amelia Dobson, Danielle Broom, Chloe Burrows, Bridget Dence, Angel Kerin, Madeleine Smith, Samantha Cash, Cameron Hale and Lewis Sainval.

Iona Sheerin has also been selected to represent Hampshire at the South East Regional Championships at Carshalton.

Other athletes in the Senior Age group will be competing in Bedford at the National U20/U23 Championships.

Good luck to all the athletes competing, including any BAC reserves who may be added to the squads.

Apologies if I have missed anyone, please let me know if I have!

YDL Lower Team Fixture Report

YDL Lower – Sat 21st May – Kings Park

Written by Kate Sheerin.

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On a wet, blustery day, a highly spirited group of BAC athletes teamed up with New Forest Juniors in a competitive yet friendly atmosphere.

Spirits were high and PB’s came in abundance, some unexpected as athletes stepped up to compete in events they had not tried before to help their team mates out.

In the ladies events, Serena Sutherland had a superb day, gaining 1st places in all 3 of her events :

U15w Shot with a PB of 9.87 m

U15w discuss – 26.10 m

U15w hammer – 21.03 m


Lauren Sheerin made it a double with wins in:

B string shot – PB of 6.91m

hammer – PB of 15.66 m


The U15 w long jump also saw wins in A and B string with Millie Lynk winning the A string with a PB of 4.89m and Elle Ward winning the B string with 4.41 m.

Despite feeling poorly, Elle also won the U15w Javelin with a new PB throw of 15.10 m.

PB’s were also achieved by:

Isabelle Franklin U13w 75m N/S in 11.3 s

Anya Sandell U13w 800m in 3:14.6 m

Rebecca Hannibal U15w 200m in 28.2 s

Yasmin Bridet U15w 75 Hurdles in 12.4s

The boys team also had some great performances with some of the boys also having a go at events they would not normally compete in for the team.

First places were achieved by:

Harry Grubb U15m 100m B string in 13.1 s and 300m B string in 43.2 s – both also PB’s.

Joe Hayward was 1 st in U 15m Long Jump in 4.70m

Fraser Spall was 1 st in U15m B string Javelin with 26.92 m

Mario Youseff was 1 st in U15m 100m N/S in 13.3s

PB’s were gained by:

Jim Dence U15m 80m Hurdles in 16.2 s

It was a pleasure to be part of such a positive team who showed great spirit and gained second place overall – well done and thank you to all athletes who competed.

Bedford Jumps Competition – 28th May 2016

A number of BAC athletes travelled to Bedford on Saturday for the BIG ish Jumps &Throws Fest (this is the actual name of the event).

Patrick Sylla, an U20,  again performed well in the senior men’s long jump, coming 6th with a distance of 7.31m which is 2cm short of his PB. James Lelliott came 4th with a distance of 7.40m. Bradley Pickup, a former member of BAC who still trains regularly at King’s Park came 2nd with 7.52m.

Rob Woolgar jumped in the B competition gaining a distance of 5.62m, while Izzy Wedderburn, an U17 athlete, came 11th in the senior women’s competition with 4.90m.