With a whole host of different races of varying distances, the White Star Running ‘Ox Races‘ do most certainly provide something for everyone. Ranging from the Light Ox, which is around a quarter marathon in distance, through to the Ox 50, which is a 50 miler. There’s also the option to do the Ox Frolic where competitors run for 12 hours and the idea is to complete as many five mile laps as possible within the allotted time. This can be done in fours, threes, pairs or solo. There’s also the Dark Ox, which takes place at night, in the dark.
Competing in his first adult race over 10km, Nathan Mearns was tackling the Light Ox where he was joined by fellow Bournemouth AC member Stu Glenister. The course was on a rough woodland trail incorporating some very testing inclines and descents. The location of the race was Cranbourne Chase Woods.
The hills and trails didn’t put Nathan off though. He enjoys the tougher off-road routes and has competed in Maverick races before and regularly takes part in the cross country league events and championships. In fact, he ran the UK Inter County Championships in Loughborough in March and that’s one of the toughest courses out there.
Stu went into the Light Ox off the back of a brilliant performance at The King’s Coronation Run put on by Phoenix Running. In that event he took the runner up spot in the Half Marathon recording a time of 1:45:46 on a challenging, hilly route made up of multiple 5.3km laps.
Although they run for the same club, Nathan and Stu couldn’t be more poles apart when it comes to experience. Nathan is of course very new to scene when it comes to the longer distance races. Stu is a veteran with a wealth of experience behind him in races of every different distance imaginable, including marathons and ultras like the 32 mile Dartmoor Discovery. He even did the Ultra Tour of Arran in which he had to cover 60 miles in the space of two days.
That’s the kind of calibre of athlete Nathan will now find himself up against as he goes into adult racing scene. Many of his opponents will have been there, seen it and done it before and will have a whole draw full of t-shirts to show for it. Being right at the beginning of his journey, Nathan has got all that exciting stuff to come and will no doubt be accumulating a massive medal haul in the future.
The first couple of miles of the Light Ox contained quite a bit of downhill so Nathan made a fast start to the race with a 6:12 for his opening mile split, followed by a 5:54. The hills really came into play over the next mile and his pace then dropped significantly, as one would expect with those kinds of climbs.
He was then back on it for the next mile though which was all downhill, enabling him to gather some good momentum again. It was a tough finish to the race though as from about 4.3 miles onwards, it was mostly uphill.
Powering up the slopes as best he could, Nathan made it to the finish line, 636ft up, clocking a tremendous time of 46:03. That was enough to put him in 4th place overall in a field of 94 runners. It was a very impressive result for Nathan and put him 1st in the 15-19 age group.
His average pace for the run over the 6.42 miles he covered was 7:09 minutes per mile. His elevation gain for the run reached 574ft, so it was not by any means an easy route.
One of only three men to get round quicker than Nathan, Stu Glenister sealed 3rd place in a time of 45:16 and was 1st in the 50-54 category. There were only nine seconds separating Stu and the 2nd placed man who was Brett Martin.
City of Salisbury man Richard Davidson picked up a resounding win though, whipping round the course in 42:51 which was a magnificent effort on that sort of terrain.
Jen Wighton was first female in 53:32 which put her in 14th place. Then it was Marion Frewin of New Forest Runners who crossed the line in 54:21 and was the next person to arrive at the finish. It was the 3rd lady who arrived next and that was Tania Watson of Solent Running Sisters.
In the other races, a couple of Poole Runners youngsters took the top two places in the Ox Calf, with Harry Samways finishing in 15:50 and Max Drozdowski coming in in 16:47.
Stuart Ashford won the Dark Ox, which was the same distance as a the Light Ox. He got round in 44:37. Sally Hunt of Dorset Doddlers was 1st female in 51:15 and Tania Watson, who was 3rd woman in the Light Ox, repeated that same feat in the Dark Ox.
The Ox 50 was won by Jon Kelly in a time of 8 hours 49 minutes, with Paul Downes of Poole Runners taking 2nd in 9 hours 8 minutes. Pippa Gillingham of Lonely Goat was 3rd overall and 1st female in 11 hours 1 minute.
In the Ox Frolic, Annw-Marie Lategan and Karen Bennett both did 10 laps, which was a whopping 55.75 miles. Chris Hunter managed the most though, getting through 11 laps which equated to 61.5 miles over the 12 hour duration.
Matt Faramus of Egdon Heath Harriers won the Ox Half in a time of 1:40:39.
There will be a lot to looking forward to for Nathan in the coming months and years as he embarks on a new running journey and who knows where that may lead him. And as for Stu, no doubt he’s got plenty more running adventures left in him as well so he’ll be back on the start line soon for sure.