Chris Wood and Ant Clark in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Ant Clark ran most of the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon alongside his mate Chris Wood who represents Twemlow

It can sometimes go under the radar a bit in years where it isn’t part of the Dorset Road Race League fixture list for the season but it wouldn’t seem right for the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon to pass by without any Bournemouth AC involvement. Fortunately Ant Clark and Lea Lohk were on hand to make sure that didn’t happen this time round.

The club has had something of an illustrious history with the race with Steve Way winning it on no less than seven previous occasions and Toby Chapman also claiming top spot on a couple of occasions.

In last year’s race it was a league fixture and Steve Way rolled back the years with some exquisite running to work his way up the field, eventually finishing in 8th place and coming as in as Bournemouth AC’s first scorer.

Ant Clark was also supposed to be running that day but had to pull out due to illness so now he had to chance to make amends and get stuck in. His training for the Comrades Marathon in June is already well under way and he’s already been hitting the hundred mile week sort of barometer, or even over that on occasions.

After taking a tumble in the Winchester Off-Road Half Marathon on a very icy morning, Lea Lohk showed great character to get up, carry on and complete the race. At least with the race being on the road and the conditions being fine, Lea’s prospects of keeping her balance were a lot higher this time round.

It was a bit of a last minute decision from Lea to Blackmore Vale Half Marathon as she wanted to get a Sunday long run in anyway and had done it before so she knew what to expect. The route for the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon is fairly undulating all the way with a total of around 800 to 900 ft of elevation.

Having done the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon on several previous occasions, Ant’s best time was the last time he ran it, which was in 2020. That day he finished in 1:17:25. Lea completed it in 1:47:10 that same year.

Six years ago on that very same day, Lea had run her first ever trail marathon, the Portland Coastal Marathon. That was back in 2017. Now in 2023, she was tackling a hilly road half marathon.

Chris Wood and Ant Clark tackling the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Chris and Ant were occupying 2nd and 3rd places out on the road

Running most the race with his buddy Chris Wood, who runs for Twemlow Track Club, Ant was going at a pace that was too quick for virtually everyone else. Everyone other than Michael Sandiford of Fordy Runs Running Club that is. He had gone into the lead on his own and was far too strong for anyone else to contend with.

His time of 1:13:19 was enough to seal the victory for him. Chris Wood managed to edge away from Ant in the end, taking 2nd place in a time of 1:14:12. Ant arrived just 17 seconds later to take a superb 3rd place in 1:14:29.

Chris Wood and Ant Clark head down the road in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

The pair were really pushing the pace but at the time, enjoying the scenic venture

It was a really strong performance from Ant and his average pace of 5:42 was tremendous for a hilly course like that. It showed that his training is going well and the signs are good for him even though it’s still quite early in his training block.

Ant Clark finishing the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

It was a strong run from Ant, knocking 3 minutes off his course PB

Finding the course a touch monotonous this time round, Lea didn’t really enjoy the run so much but was glad to have some company with her on her run, which she wouldn’t have had if she’d gone out on her own.

Lea was getting her Sunday long run done in style

Lea was glad to be able to get her long run done in the company of others

Completing the course in 2:00:06, Lea finished 107th overall and was 30th female and 1st over 60. She was pleased to get her long run done and at a much faster pace than if she would have done it on her own.

Lea Lohk in action at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Lea was the fastest lady in the over 60 category

Brian Underwood of Poole AC finished 4th in 1:15:10 and it was a very good day for Twemlow Track Club as they had four runners in the top eight. Steven Rigby was 5th in 1:15:55, with Harry Lauste 6th in 1:17:04.

Daniel Thomas of Bridport Runners interrupted the Twlemlow train taking 7th place in 1:17:45 before Steve Cook got over the line in 1:18:24 to take 8th place. That was a marginal PB for him and a 1st over 50 win as well.

Chris Wood and Ant Clark progressing round in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

The training looks to be going well for Ant and Chris as they were in fine form

Gill Pearson of Running for Time was 1st female, clocking a time of 1:23:59 which put her in 15th place. Victoria Walls was next woman, getting round in 1:24:29. That put her in 18th place overall. Almost 10 minutes passed before Helen Anthony of Teignbridge Trotters arrived to take the 3rd lady spot in 1:34:21.

Lea Lohk in the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Lea didn’t love the route but she got through it with no slip ups

On the way towards the Comrades Marathon, there will be a stop off point in the London Marathon for Ant, so that will be his next focus to look forward to. Between now and then, there will many a long, hard training run or session to get through. A lot of runs he does with his Twemlow friends anyway who are mostly all running London as well, so that will help the miles fly by as they set out on their adventures.

In stark contrast to her wintery Winchester Off-Road Half Marathon, Lea noticed that the conditions had very much transformed and become rather more ‘Spring’ like, with lots of snowdrops everywhere. This time it was the flower, rather than icicles, so that was a welcome sight to see.

Chris Wood and Ant Clark in action at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Chris and Ant both ended up recording impressive times for such a hilly race