Stu Nicholas in the Benfleet 15

Whilst away in Essex, Stu Nicholas pitched up for a challenging, multi-terrain race called the Benfleet 15

It’s not a distance regularly featuring on the racing calendar but the Benfleet 15 provides a rare opportunity to tackle a 15 mile route. It’s not an easy 15 mile route though, it’s a very challenging, multi-terrain one incorporating sections of the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike course, along with the Canvey Island sea wall and the undulating Hadleigh Downs.

Whilst enjoying a trip to Southend, Stu Nicholas decided he’ll have a bit that, as did his wife Anna and her two sisters Katherine and Helen.

Exhibiting some fine form of late, Stu recorded a terrific new PB of 33:35 at the Stubbington 10k, knocking over a minute off his previous best. He also ran his fastest ever quarter marathon time at Broadstone on New Years Day, crossing the line in 36:59. Just before Christmas he did the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon in 2:48:40.

Stu and the Trehane sisters at the Benfleet 15

Stu and the three Trehane sisters gather near the start before embarking on their 15 mile adventures

Stu Nicholas heads along the muddy path

Stu was aiming to just enjoy the scenery rather than running as hard as he possibly could

Since it wasn’t a league race and wasn’t really a target race as such, Stu decided to take it a bit easier in the Benfleet 15 and just enjoy the route and soak it all in.

He still ran it pretty quickly though, with most of his mile splits being around 6:30 minutes per mile, which was strong given the terrain he was on. The course was actually fairly flat for quite a lot of the race, with a few inclines in there but nothing too taxing.

There was a very steep incline to get up over the last three quarters of a mile though which made it a very tough ending to the race. Stu powered up it well though to make it to the line in a time of 1 hour 38 minutes and 24 seconds. That was enough to see him finish in 5th place out of a field of 788. Stu managed an average pace of 6:32 despite the 750ft of elevation he had to contend with.

Stu Nicholas in action at the Benfleet 15

Stu put in a solid effort coming way with an average pace of 6:32

Kurtis Swan of Braintree & District floated round in a time of 1:30:29 to pick up the win and he was three minutes quicker than anyone else. Shane Boxall of Southend AC took 2nd in 1:33:42, with Nicholas Sharp of Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets taking 3rd in 1:35:28.

Stu makes his way along the muddy route

The course was very muddy in places making it a challenging race

Stu’s wife Anna Trehane completed the course in 2:31:37 which made her 82nd woman out of 244 and 435th overall. Her sister Katherine got round in 2:04:58 which made her 16th female and 145th overall. She was also 4th out of 99 in the Female Vet 40 category. The other Trehane sister Helen recorded a time of 2:49:52 which meant she was 134th female and 572nd overall.

Anna Trehane in the Benfleet 15

Stu’s wife Anna Trehane also took part in the race

They went on to enjoy the rest of their weekend in sunny Southend, exploring the sights and replenishing all those lost calories in the process.

Stu will be back in league race action at the Lytchett 10 where he’ll be part of a formidable looking men’s team, with Rob McTaggart, Rob Spencer, Josh Cole all in the line up. The ladies have a strong team out as well with Laura Daly, Debbie Lennon and Katie Gunn featuring. As the Lytchett 10 tends to be every year, it looks likely to be an epic showdown.

Stu and the Trehane sisters with their medals

Stu and the Trehanes proudly exhibit their new pieces of bling

Stu Nicholas gives a wave to the camera as he passes

Stu gives a wave to the camera as he heads past