Rob McTaggart and Rob Spencer in the Bath Half Marathon

Rob McTaggart (49) and Rob Spencer (63) were in action at the Bath Half Marathon

Undoubtedly one of the biggest half marathon races in the south, the Bath Half always attracts a high standard field and is guaranteed to host some very fast times. It’s also in the thick of the build up to the spring marathons so a lot of runners use it to assess their form and find out whether they’re on target to achieve the times they’re targeting for their impending marathons.

Having opted for the Wokingham Half Marathon the past couple of years, Rob McTaggart decided to change it up this time round and go for the Bath Half instead. Also in the line up for the Bath Half was another one of the Bournemouth AC‘s top runners in the shape of Rob Spencer. They are the club’s two highest hopes for the London Marathon this year and they’ll both be expecting times of around 2:25 or quicker.

Not being enamoured by any of his early in the year race performances, Tag had joined a training group with some of the quickest competitors around, including Jonathon Cornish, Jaymee Domoney and Jamie Grose. That along with some decent long run sessions had helped get him back into good shape.

After running a lap of the hilly 10 mile circuit before the race had even started, Rob Spencer convincingly won the Lytchett 10 in a time of 55:08 and that was very much a statement from which showed he means business. His training looks to be going really well so far and he’s put in some excellent sessions and long runs in preparation.

Tag had run the Bath Half on three previous occasions, recording a time of 1:10:44 back in 2017 which was a PB for him at the time. He also did it in 2012 and 2011. It was a first attempt at it for Rob Spencer. His current half marathon PB was 1:11:06 which he did at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival in 2019. If he was to have a good run at Bath, that could be under serious threat.

Tag and Rob Spencer in the Bath Half Marathon

Tag and Rob were in a group with YouTuber Ben Felton

Tag and Spence were running in a group together with a guy called Ben Felton who has a YouTube channel. He takes videos whilst he’s running the race and then uploads them as vlogs afterwards so there was quite a lot of coverage featuring Tag and Spence.

Starting off at 5:16 for the first mile, Spence went on to clock a 5:02 for his second mile and a 5:09 for his third mile, taking advantage of a bit of downhill trajectory. Going through 5k in 16:07 minutes, it was a fast start from Tag and Spence and signalled their intentions. Would they be able to sustain it though?

Tag and Spence in the Bath Half Marathon

The group were clocking some very fast mile splits

A 5:12, 5:15 and a 5:18 split saw them get to 10k in 32:22. Spence then put in a 5:13 and a 5:11 before tacking an incline on the 9th mile and registering a 5:19. A 5:12 split saw him get to 10 miles in 51:54 which was faster than he’d ever done it before. He still had enough in the tank for a couple of 5:14 splits in the final 5k though.

Group with Rob Spencer and Tag in the Bath Half

Neither Tag or Spence seemed to tire much as the race went on

The last mile contains quit a tough hill leading up to the finish. Tag had pulled away from Spence by this stage but he lost six places in the final 500m going up the hill. One of those who went past him was Ben Felton, whilst he was filming. Tag‘s finishing time of 1:08:59 which put him in 26th place and Rob Spencer arrived straight after to take 27th place in exactly 1:09.

Tag and Rob Spencer going for it in the Bath Half

It was a really strong performance from the BAC pair

It wasn’t a PB for Tag but it was still a very good run and put him around about where he needs to be for his marathon aspirations. For Spence it was a huge PB and with an average pace of 5:13, he’d well and truly landed. The distance comes up slightly long as well as you go round the same loop twice so end up overtaking the slower runners, who are still doing their first loop, on the outside.

Omar Ahmed of Birchfield Harriers picked up the win in 1:04:41, with Dylan Evans of Shaftesbury Barnet taking 2nd in 1:04:53. Alex Lawrence of Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets was 3rd in 1:05:37 and Jonathan Escalante-Phillips of Cambridge & Coleridge came 4th in 1:06:04.

James Hoad of Thames Hare & Hounds was 5th in 1:06:05 and former Poole Runners man Sean Hogan, who now represents Southampton finished 6th in 1:06:21.

The top ten runners all got in in under 1:07 and Jonathan Cornish came 11th in 1:07:02. Marcus England of Western Tempo was 1st vet, finishing in 1:08:55 which put him 22nd overall. 15 runners were in in under 1 hour 8 minute and 32 finished in under 1:10, outlining the extraordinarily high standard of the field.

Christopher Newnham of Ryde Harriers finished 47th in 1:11:13 and Poole AC man Brian Underwood clocked a brilliant PB of 1:11:56 which put him in 51st place. He was also 2nd M45 and looks on course for a very good London Marathon this year.

Becky Briggs of City of Hull was 1st female, getting round in 1:14:23 and that put her just ahead of Twemlow Track Club star Chris Wood who came 85th in 1:14:42.

Anna Domville of Team Bath was 2nd female finishing in 87th place and recording a time of 1:14:54. Kate Olding of Thames Valley Harriers was 3rd lady in 1:15:16.

Marina Zafeiri, who has been to a few of the Bournemouth AC training sessions was competing at the Bath Half as well and she was 533rd female in a time of 2:04:46.

It was great to see Tag and Spence running well and mixing it with so many high calibre athletes, as well as featuring heavily on the Ben is Running YouTube channel vlog as well. This performance will certainly have given them confidence leading up to the London Marathon which is coming around very soon and it will be exciting to see what times they can produce on the big day.