Jola, Adrian, Rich and Ben in their t-shirts from the Great South Run

Jola Dewerenda, Adrian James, Rich Brawn and Ben Collins were amongst the Bournemouth AC members taking to stage at the Great South Run

A contingent of ten Bournemouth AC runners of very variable ages and abilities were greeted by near perfect conditions as the descended onto Southsea for the Great South Run. In fact, if you could pick your ideal conditions for that particular race, it would have been just like that. It was a light northerly wind with a speed of 6mph and there was a slight chill in the air but not enough to make it too cold when standing on the start line.

Most importantly, they weren’t going to be experiencing a massive headwind when they hit the promenade for the last two miles and that meant they had every chance of realising their potential.

After putting himself at the top of the standings in the Purbeck Trail Series following a 2nd place finish in the Black Hill Run 10k, Stu Nicholas had already registered three scoring races. He won the Dorset Ooser Half Marathon and finished 5th in The Beast. There was only one man who could stop him winning it and that was Stuart Holloway. That was if he was to be competing in the Studland Stampede which was the last race of the series and was on the same day as the Great South Run which was what Stu had opted for.

Elsewhere, Stu had been up to his usual standards, which are high, finishing first in Bournemouth parkrun most weekends and he’d had an excellent run in the Southern Road Relays a few weeks prior, completing the undulating 6k route in 20:04. He hadn’t really done many 10 mile races in recent times and his PB was a 56:51 from the Bournemouth 10 in the pre-pandemic days. Hence there was the feeling he could be in line for a big PB.

Ben, Rich and Adrian after completing the Great South Run

Rich, Adrian and Ben travelled to the race together

After nailing a PB of 57:30 the previous year, Ben Collins was back to see if he could improve on that. He’d been training really well, showing a great turn of pace in the Tuesday and Thursday night training sessions and had been completing a decently paced long run of 18, 19 or even 20 miles virtually every weekend.

In March he produced a brilliant sub 1:16 at the Surrey Half Marathon and had recorded a sub 35 minute 10k time at Lordshill. Seeing a significant improvement in his Southern Road Relay time as well from the previous year there was every reason to be optimistic for Ben.

After sealing a half marathon PB two weeks prior in Cardiff, Richard Brawn also felt he was in with a good chance of beating his PB time of 58:22 from the previous year’s Great South Run. He clocked a time of 1:17:11 at Cardiff and his average pace came out at 5:53. Hence he thought he should be able to manage a faster average pace than that at the Great South Run and that would invariably lead to a PB.

Getting coaxed into running his first ever 10 mile race, Adrian James was also featuring at the Great South Run and travelled over with Rich and Ben. He was still relatively new to running, although he’d been doing parkruns, 5 mile and 10k races in the past couple of years. He’d actually never even done 10 miles in a training run before so this was going to a whole new experience for him but he was excited to give it a bash.

Rich, Ben, Adrian and Jola after the Great South Run

It was a sunny morning on the day of the Great South Run

Also making her 10 mile race distance debut was Jola Dewerenda. She’d done half marathons before and have even done a 37.3km race in the Polish mountains, but never a race of the exact 10 mile distance.

Jola had recently been suffering from an injury that had kept her away from running for a considerable amount of time and she’d only recently resumed her training. Therefore, she wasn’t expecting to be at her fittest or fastest. But she was excited to give it a go anyway and at least she knew, whatever happened, she would be getting a 10 mile PB.

Competing in his eighth consecutive Great South Run, Julian Oxborough was going into it without any particular time goal. He was intending to just soak up the carnival atmosphere and enjoy the run and in terms of time, what would be, would be.

There were also a few younger members of the club getting their first stab at the 10 mile distance. They were Hugo Richardson, Oliver Hill and Mariah Marshall. They were all now over the age of 16 and could legally compete in races of length.

Hugo Richardson in action at the Great South Run

Hugo Richardson was competing in his first ever 10 mile race

Hugo had actually done a half marathon race before and in fact, he ended up winning it, so he’d already demonstrated some endurance. He also recorded a very good time of 35:08 at the Round the Lakes 10k a few weeks before the Great South Run so his form was looking promising.

He was certainly more used to running shorter distances though and had been finishing first at Moors Valley parkrun virtually every weekend. It was certainly going to be interesting to see how he fared in a slightly longer distance race where it was still possible to go at a pretty fast tempo due to the flat nature of the course. He didn’t really know what to expect but his primary aim was to finish inside the hour and for a first every 10 miler, that would be pretty good going.

As soon as she was legally allowed to, Emily Coltman signed up for the Great South Run and that was last year’s edition. She recorded a time of 1:19:43 that day so that was her target to beat this time round.

It was the weekend after she’d done a difficult double whammy at the Run Bournemouth weekender, completing the Supernova 5k on Saturday evening and then lining up for the Supersonic 10k the following morning. Her legs hadn’t fully recovered from the 5k over night so that made the 10k a much tougher run than it might otherwise have been. It was good training though ahead of the Great South Run so it would be interesting to see what she could produce.

Emily had her dad Jason running with her as well and he’s also been coming along to the Tuesday night training sessions with the Bournemouth AC road runners recently. It’s probably a good job as well as he knows he will have to keep progressing as well to keep pace with his daughter.

After leaving later than planned and then getting caught up in the traffic build up and having problems finding somewhere to park, Rich, Ben and Adrian arrived at the race venue with little time to spare. Rich and Adrian didn’t have their numbers yet either so had to frantically rush around trying to find the information hut to pick them up.

In the end they found it and got their numbers on a headed for the start pen. Rich went into the fast club runners pen where he met up with Ben, Stu and Hugo who were all close to the start line. They knew it would be important to get away quickly to avoid getting held up or having to do too much zig-zagging to get past other runners.

Hugo racing along in the Great South Run

Hugo was going at just over 5:45 pace for the first half of the race

Stu and Ben set off at 5:30 pace and Rich and Hugo were more in the region of 5:45. In fact, all Rich’s mile splits were between 5:42 and 5:45 for the first six miles. With it being his first ever 10 mile race, Hugo had taken a touch more conservatively for the first half, with his opening five miles being between  5:45 and 5:49.

After the first mile, Stu’s next five splits were all slightly quicker than 5:30 pace and for the sixth mile he’d cranked it up to 5:23. His 10k time came through as 34:02 which would have been a huge PB for him. That certified that he was having a blinder. He couldn’t keep that going though surely. Could he?

Ben had also made a ferocious start, with a 17:22 for his first 5k. His pace dropped to around 5:40 for his next 5k which saw him reach the 10k point in exactly 35 minutes. He too was on for stonking PB if he could keep it going.

The target pace Rich had in his head was 5:47 so he was hoping to be at the pace for under for all his splits. His 7th mile came up just over, at 5:49 but he was still feeling strong and he knew the last couple of miles would be fine. He just needed to make it to eight but considering he’d been well under his target for virtually all his splits, he knew it was going well.

Hugo comes round the corner in the Great South Run

Hugo began to speed up in the second half of the race

Hugo picked up the pace in the second half of the race, with a 5:35 for his sixth mile, then a 5:44 and a 5:45 before hitting the seafront for the last two mile stretch. He was running very strongly.

Putting in a 5:30 and a 5:33 for his seventh and eighth miles, Stu was still managing to keep his pace high. Now it was time for the run-in to the finish. Could he crank up the pace even further?

Completing his 7th and 8th mile splits at 5:46, Big Ben was onto his last two miles and though his pace had dropped a touch, he was holding it together well.

Sailing through the last two miles at 5:26 and 5:23 pace, Stu arrived at the finish line in an incredible time of 54:46. That was almost a two minute improvement on his previous best. It really was a phenomenal run from Stu. He’d started strong, continued in the same vein and then finished strong as well.

Stu is usually fairly non-plussed about it when finishes a race, even if he’s won it or produced a really good time. But this time, he was elated. He’d gone much quicker than probably even he though he would and that was fantastic. It was enough to put him in 53rd position as well, in a field of close to 15,000 people.

Ben Collins after the Great South Run

Big Ben towered above most the runners in the race

Going through the last couple of miles in 5:42 and 5:41, Ben reached the line in 56:45, which was a 45 second PB for him. It was a pleasing performance and although he was suffering a bit over the second half of the race, he’d shown great character to stay strong and close it out well. He’d come in in 92nd place overall.

Rich Brawn after the Great South Run

Rich recorded a 49 second PB

Feeling strong all the way through, Rich never really felt in too much discomfort. He got through the last couple of miles in 5:44 and 5:40, resulting in a finishing time of 57:33. That was a 49 second PB for him and his average pace came up as 5:44. He was really pleased with that performance and was even left at the end questioning whether he could have pushed a little harder. That put him 109th in the overall standings and 11th in his age group.

He’d gone through the 10k point in 35:43 and that would have been a PB for him over that distance, which proved how well he’d run. As he went over the finish line, he looked over his shoulder and Hugo was right there. He’d literally appeared from nowhere. He clearly must have blasted through those last two miles.

Hugo Richardson in the Great South Run

Hugo turned up the heat with a very fast last two miles

In fact, Hugo had finished really strongly, with a 5:42 followed by a 5:36 for his last mile. With a finishing time of 57:35, he’d taken 111th place and 6th in his age group. Considering it was his first ever 10 mile race, he had paced it incredibly well and come away with a superb negative split which meant there was scope to go much quicker.

Hugo and Stu after finishing the Great South Run

Hugo and Stu after completing the race

Getting his parkrun PB down to 18:09, Oliver Hill certainly had the raw ability to do well. The question was though, would he have enough experience to pace it right? He set off quite quickly with a 5:43 and a 5:49 for his first couple of miles. Then he was around 6 for his next couple of miles.

Going through the fifth mile at 6:13, he then registered a 6:07 for both his sixth and his seventh miles. His 10k time came up at 37:53 which was superb. He struggled a bit on the eighth mile, putting in a 6:28 but he then got back on track for last two miles with a 6:10 and a 5:52.

That culminated in a finishing time of 1:01:11 which put him in 228th place and 13th in his age group. It was terrific effort for his first go at the distance and with an average pace of 6:03, it was certainly a run to be proud of for Oliver.

Adrian James was going pretty well for the first 10k but the wheels fell of a bit after that. Since he’d never really gone over that distance before, his legs weren’t used to it and understandably, he was suffering. At one stage he thought about stopping, but he didn’t. He showed great character to dig in and keep going all the way to the line.

Adrian James after the Great South Run

Adrian had an amazing run considering it was the first time he’d ever ran that far

Ending up with a time of 1:03:42, it was fantastic effort from Adrian, considering that was the first time he’d ever run that far. He’d come in 353rd position which was a tremendous result, all things considered. He was certainly hurting in the aftermath but he was glad he’d done it and knew that it was a great achievement for him.

Again, considering it was her first ever 10 mile race, Jola paced it pretty well. She was going at around 7:20 pace for the first 10k, going through the checkpoint in 46:49. It was on the seventh and eighth miles where her pace dropped a touch but she picked it back up well for the last couple of miles.

Jola Dewerenda after the Great South Run

Jola performed well to finish in 1 hour 15 minutes

Making it to the line in a time of 1:15:12, she was 175th female and 1,590th overall. She was also 27th in her category. That was actually a brilliant result for Jola seeing as she’d had very little training beforehand and not enough time to get her fitness back to where it was before.

Starting off slightly quicker than 7:30 pace, Emily Coltman went through the first 5k in 23:50. She was then just over 5:45 pace for the next four miles. On the eighth mile she started to find it tough but she was still below 8 minutes for the mile. She then managed to get back on pace for the last mile, finishing with a 7:38.

Clocking a time of 1:18:22, Emily had beaten her time from last year by 1 minute 21 seconds. She was really pleased with that and it demonstrated the progress she’d been making over the course of that year. That made her 292nd female and 11th in her category. In the overall standings, she was placed 2,238th. Of course, her dad Jason was right there with her and that put him 196th in his category.

A couple of days later Emily co-hosted the Dorset School Games at Bryanston where she was an ambassador, helping junior school children get involved in sport. They can get the opportunity to try a range of different events there from athletics to rock climbing.

Going the first 5k in 28:45, Mariah Marshall went on to reach the 10k point in 1:04:43. She then went on to get to the finish line in a time of 1:43:46. That put her 3,189th female and 41st in her category. In the overall standings she came in 9,408th.

Although she competes mostly in the throwing events in the track and field league fixtures, Mariah loves cross country and took part in the South West Champs, the National Cross Country Champs and the Inter County Championships in Loughborough. She also did the last Wessex and Hampshire League cross country matches.

Julian Oxborough in the Great South Run

Julian produced a much faster time than he did the previous year

Getting to the 5k checkpoint in 36:12, Julian Oxborough went on get to 10k in 1:14:10. Reaching the finish line in a time of 2:01:35, Julian was placed 12,843rd overall and 714th in his category. That was actually the fastest time he’d managed since 2019 and was close to 12 minutes quicker than he did last year.

That was reason enough to be pleased for Julian and, although he would have loved to have got in under two hours, he’d had to tread carefully after having only recently recovering from an illness. It was his 15th time at the Great South Run and Julian is currently thinking he might take a break from it next year. Who knows though? He may well get tempted back when it comes around.

Trev Elkins finishing the Great South Run

Trev Elkins (right) just missed out on a sub 60

One man who almost certainly will be back next year is Trev Elkins. he narrowly missed out on his first ever sub 60, getting to the line in 1:00:28. It turned out that he’d covered an extra 0.12 miles from zig-zagging around people, since he started off in the orange wave which is behind the fast club runners section.

That 0.12 miles may well have ended up costing him the sub 60 and that was frustrating for him even though it was one of his best ever runs to date. No doubt he’ll be back again next year to crack it if he hasn’t managed it in another race before then.

Anna and Stu Nicholas at the Great South Run

Stu and his wife Anna with their medals

Stu’s wife Anna was competing as well and she completed the course in a time of 1:20:50 which made her 409th female and 62nd in her category. She came 2,837th in the overall standings.

The race was won by Southampton man Zakariya Mahamed in 46:41, with Jacob Allen of Highgate Harriers taking 2nd in 47:13. Omar Ahmed of Birchfield Harriers took 3rd place in 47:31 with Callum Hawkins coming 4th in 47:43.

Lily Partridge of Birchfield Harriers won the women’s race in 54:04, with Hannah Irwin of Cambridge & Coleridge taking 2nd in 54:30 and Amelia Quirk of Bracknell sealing 3rd in 54:37.

Ben, Jola and Rich after the Great South Run

The BAC members were all happy with how they got on

It was a very successful outing from a Bournemouth AC perspective, with nine out of the ten of them either racing the 10 mile distance for the first time or getting a PB. That was certainly a good sign of things to come. With many of them young and up and coming as well and taking their first steps into distance running, it will be exciting to see how the future unfolds for them.

Ben, Rich and Adrian at the Great South Run

It was a day to remember for the BAC runners who took part