08 Oct

FELIX MCGRATH and JACK BANCROFT finally got the opportunity to underline  the recent form and progress they have shown in training during the lockdown in Sunday`s Rogue Runs promoted Shepperdine 5M road race, reports Mike Down.

Despite the odds being stacked against them, they defied  relentless rain and that curse of all runners fierce winds besides a hardly favourable early 8am start time to smash their previous personal bests for the distance.

In accordance with the sport`s current guidelines for distances of 5K and above the runners were set off at 10 second intervals, and as the fastest two in the field they started first, with Felix 10 seconds after Jack.

Jack could have waited for Felix, but made him work to close the gap over the first mile or so after which they duly shared the pace together till the closing stages when Jack, who had clearly saved something in the locker for when Felix caught him, pulled away from his clubmate in the closing stages to steal line honours in an impressive time for the conditions of 24:52, with Felix in his wake only losing 4 seconds of the 10 he had gained in closing the original gap to record an even faster 24:46.

It improved Felix` previous best for the distance by over a quarter of a minute, while Jack was some three seconds faster than his best done in far better conditions at Sutton Benger.

“I can`t honestly recall running in worse conditions, but we both decided to give it a go whatever ,” commented Felix. “At least the course was pan flat and we had each other to keep the pace going.” Boosted by their fine performances they are both now looking forward to tackle their 10K pb`s in the Cheshire 10K in a fortnight`s time.

With ANDY DRAKE following them home third in 27:29, which was only 20 secs off his best despite having to run the whole way on his own, Bristol and West runners dominated the team event with four others in the top eight fastest times recorded.

DAN CANNON also dipped under 28mins with 27:52 for 4th place, while LEE GAWLER 6th in 28:15, NICK TUFTNELL 7th and first vet in 28:17, and STEVE HONIGHT 8TH 28:37 were all well inside 29mins.

Mike Down

Junior Endurance Runners Keeping Busy

30 Sep

Just like waiting for a bus then 2 come along at once so it was the case last week with competitive races, when on Wednesday several endurance coaches organized some middle distance races on the track. Then Alis Army used Eastville park as a substitute for the traditional Sutton Park annual relays on Saturday.

Both events were very well attended & despite the appalling weather for the track races 40 young athletes turned up. There were some very competitive races ranging from 400m-800m & the consensus of opinion suggests possibly some 1500m time trails later in the Autumn is a possibility. This event was well supported by parents assisting with time keeping, track judging & despite the rain I did have a full set of results to hand thanks to the aga which dried them out nicely.

Everyone went home happy after consuming plenty of cake.

The weather could not of been more perfect for the relays  & in total 4 full teams competed around the I mile lap in Eastville park. The teams consisted of new lads & old timers who have been with the group for several years .Despite the recent lack of competitive racing every one gave it their best shot & there were some surprisingly fast times especially form the younger contingent. The winning team were rewarded with chocolate medals & as the enclosed photos show except for the 2 sets of siblings social distancing did not stop the fun.

The excitement did not stop here as we finished off with a parents race. The winning time was  6.18 by Phil White.

The park lent itself very well for these informal relays & the general public appeared to be well impressed by the commitment from the lads who all gave a good account of  themselves.

The highlight for me was the new toilet block recently built & open! What a relief.


Relay results.

Eddie 6.19      Felix  6.41     Joey  6.18     total 19.mins 18sec

Tom   6.05      Yasin 8.04     Oliver 6.10             20.mins 19sec

Max   6.30      Ravi   7.05     Ben    7.04              20.mins 39sec

Sean  6.03      Dudley 9.50  Vijay   5.44              21. Mins 37 sec.

Caleb 7.35     ( first reserve, in case someone failed to show on the day)

IMPORTANT Track Update

17 Sep

Whitehall track will  be closed between the 28th-30th September.

Due to lines being repainted on a section of Whitehall track and needing 48h to fully cure, the track will be closed between the 28th – 30th September and will reopen on the 1st October. Your coach will let you know in advance if they plan to put alternative training sessions on during this time, or if the sessions will be cancelled/rescheduled.

A Great Day at Sprints Festival

16 Sep

A lot of happy people left Whitehall on Saturday with big smiles on their faces and many asking if we could do another one’? Athlete Owen Miller from Yeovil remarked: “This is a very well organised and relaxed event – well done to all”.

Jeff Staples, coach and parent of one of the great sprinters who travelled from Newport had this to say:

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and from a logistics standpoint it was really smooth, a great team you’ve got there! I would suggest you hold these events more frequently as it’s a good opportunity for an informal run, I’m sure with that you could get more competitors too”.

The sunshine helped the mood with different groups of spectators given their own space between two hurdles defining their area. Over 50 athletes came from far and wide to take advantage of this rare opportunity for a run out. The standard of competition was very high with the u17’s men semi and final being a real test with Zak Wall of Cardiff just pipping our two great u17 sprinters Ed Wilson and Josh Maggs with all three finishing in 11.2, 11.3 and 11.4 respectively.

The Masters races were of a particularly high standard with the pick of them being Juliet Sidney from Newport Harriers (M50) running the 100m in 14.1.

Great to see long jumper Ella Bowell and pole vaulter Nyree Perry chasing 100m sprints specialist Sophie Reid Thomas who ran  PB against the wind in the final. Ryan Brady also demonstrating he is definitely one to watch as he made it look easy with speed and strength to spare.

Smile of the day has to go to sprints coach Tristan Jamieson who not only got his wish to run against Olympian Emily Diamond in the 200m, he also recorded a PB – trying to catch her. Great race. Thanks must go to Emily for making the day that bit more special.

Hilary Nash, who watched the most anticipated event of the day from the central infield said “It was a real pleasure to watch Emily’s smooth flowing action and the guys were struggling a little to keep with her. It became clear that it was going to be a close finish and the guys managed to find a last effort to give the track judges a difficult task to sort out a blanket finish. The timekeepers could not separate the first three Emmanuel Shutsha (SM), Josh Maggs U17 and Emily all on 24.1 with Tristan Jamieson just behind but delighted with a new PB 24.5. I’m sure the guys will all remember the day they competed with Emily.”

Tristan later remarked that, from a coaches perspective, the whole day was an extremely positive vibe. Smiles everywhere and a lot of conversation between people who had never met. I’m sure the weather helped to set the tone of the day.  The U17 boys 100m was an especially fun set of events – heat 1 was very close all the way to the finish, heat 2 was a nail-biter and the final had a lot of drama with the gun miss-firing and then a blanket finish with the times being split by 0.1s

“From an athletes perspective, the set-up of being allowed to line either side of the track with spectators was the best atmosphere I have ever raced in. The senior 200m final was thrilling for me – I got to race a cross-track rival, a training partner and a Team GB international!  We emerged from the bend relatively staggered but still quite close and then the straight drew us even closer with a blanket finish to top it off.  A strong head wind set the front 3 back a second from their respective PBs but I still managed a PB despite the wind.”

Another great day for the club and local athletes!

British Championships Round Up

09 Sep

After some initial scepticism as to weather the event would go ahead, the weekend saw some classy performances by Bristol and West athletes in the British Championships.

Jody Smith got off to a good start in the 100m heats where he ran just three hundredths off his personal best of 10.59 to go through to the next round, finishing 8th in a tough semi-final.

Simran Kaur (coached by Nick Harris) finished second in the 100m T46 category with a time of 13,35.

Alex Daley and Mark Cottam went head to head in the men’s 400m heats, separated by just 0.03 seconds, finishing in 48.59 and 48.62 respectively, both just half a second outside their personal bests.

Mike Wilsmore ran a well thought out and tactical 1500m heat, crossing the line just behind eventual bronze medallist, Josh Lay, in a time of 3.46.57. Mike was initially given a DQ and not allowed to progress through to the final, but this decision was later rightfully overturned after judges reviewed the video footage. The final, as they so often do in championship middle distance races, went off at a pedestrian pace, leaving it down to the sprinters in the field come the final 400m. Wilsmore crossed the line in 7th place with a time of 3.53.43

Jenna Blundell was Bristol and West AC’s highest finisher of the competition, finishing 6th in final of women’s 100mH in a time of 13.91

Congratulations to all those who competed at the British Championships!

Academy Update

09 Sep
Monday night academy sessions are now fully booked until further notice. There are still places available for the Wednesday evening sessions!

Please contact Dean Garrett at DeanG@bristolandwestac.org for more info or to book a place on the Wednesday evening sessions

BWAC Athletes Show Their Class at Jumps & Throws Event

02 Sep

An experimental event put on by Bristol and West AC to help get field event athletes competing again unfolded into a fantastic weekend of athletics for throwers and jumpers from Bristol & West AC and other club athletes including Stratford, NS, Yate and Swindon for the meeting on Saturday. This was followed by a very similar event hosted by Yate on Sunday. Given the successful format, sprint and middle-distance
meetings are now in the planning stage with the Sprints scheduled for the 12th September including showcase 100 and 200 metre races featuring Olympic and World Championship medalist Emily Diamond!

The event saw some great discus throwing from Josh Schrijver and Alice Grosjean in particular. Josh hit a fabulous second round throw of 44.04m exceeding his target for the year by quite a few metres. Josh now goes into 4th position in the UK rankings u17 with that big PB in only his first year in that age category. Alice put a very good set of consistent throws together for a best of 37.44. Young thrower Owen Garrett continues his improvement in the discus and javelin and has gone straight to the top of the UK rankings in both events. Libby Parker demonstrated her power with a 4th round 28.08 discus throw and it is clear from her speed of release that once the discus comes out flat and not face first, she is going to clear 38- 40 metres with no trouble. New girl Freya Holt, felt the pressure after getting held up on the motorway and not having warm up throws so threw below her best. However, she made up for it at Yate with a big PB of 27.43 which took her to 2nd spot in the UK rankings u15. Josh threw the shot 13.07 at Yate with the heavier 5kg implement which is very impressive. Maria Townsend continued her careful return to throwing after a serious operation to reset the kneecap on her plant leg and is throwing better than expected.

Recent recruit, multi-eventer Jordanna Morrish, travelled from her home in London to compete for the first time in her new club colours, but she admitted she was disappointed with her results given the high standard of training she has been doing lately. Jordanna has some impressive personal bests over various disciplines and we are looking forward to seeing her progress as part of Bristol & West.

The club also saw some brilliant results in the long jump competitions including Tim Leong who set a new personal best of 5m80.
U15 Bristol and West Athlete Ella Bowell added 6cm to her previous personal best jump from 2019 and an exciting competition between U13 BWAC athletes Sophia Bowell and Ruby Woodman saw the pair separated by a mere 2cm by the end of the event.  Ruby finished the competition with a jump of 3m82, slightly off her personal best but a classy performance nonetheless given the difficult conditions on the day, while teammate Sophia added a promising 26cm to her previous best to finish with 3m80

The club and in particular the officials and organisers of this event received some amazing feedback from those (and parents of those) who took part:

“I just wanted to say thank you for excellent hosting yesterday.  It was the first time my son had competed since lockdown and he was naturally a bit anxious about what to expect. When he arrived he was immediately put at ease by the friendly assistants and he went on to jump 2 pbs.”

“Thank you for allowing me to join your javelin competition on Sat, it was a great event and really well organised for Covid secure set up. Please pass on my thanks to all the officials, organisers and yourself for putting this event on and standing out in the rain during javelin”

A big thank you must go out to all the officials and volunteers who helped out on the day including organiser Dean Garrett, Mike Strange, Hilary Nash, Jim Kyle, Eugene H, Nicki Bowell, Matt Spicer Paula Casling, Gert Schrijver, Steve Grant and Nick Harris.


02 Sep
Whether it`s the reward for being one of our valued NHS workers or perhaps the antibodies he has been producing in abundance in managing to ward off the corona virus at Weston Hospital, there`s simply no holding FELIX MCGRATH at present.

Not only did he repeat his victory in the BTC`s second 5K Trial of Truth, but carved a remarkable 18 seconds off the time he set that day, storming home in the formidable time of 15:16. Formidable yes – and I have chosen the word guardedly – as not only is our mixed road and grassland course on Durdham Downs hardly ground you would select if looking for a fast 5K, but the cool windy conditions on the day made it even more testing. While the prevailing wind had been blowing in a favourable west/south westerly direction since our inaugural race, it cruelly turned round almost overnight back to a 15mph northerly that meant it helped only marginally on the downhill run to the Sea Walls , while it was in your face on the long slog up the Ladies Mile. How for goodness sake was it named a ladies mile!

Felix` remarkable effort against the watch was not such a surprise as he had clocked a final mile of five in a spectacular 4:39 in training midweek as well as finishing only a few seconds off his 3000m best in 8:46 close behind BTC colleague ALEX CROSSLAND (8:42) in an equally windy club event the previous week at Whitehall despite hardly having set foot on a track in the past couple of years. The fact that Alex progressed dramatically to set a new BTC group record just over 8:21 at Wimbledon last week that something special could be on the cards for Felix too despite the disappointing conditions.

With OWAIN JONES, who himself has been matching strides with Felix in training this summer and had finished just three second slower in our inaugural event, not there to push Felix due to a subsequent flare up in his ongoing achilles problem, it was left to the club`s top cross exponent JACK MILLAR, who was passing through town from his new London base en route for a week`s holiday in Pembrokeshire, to lead the challenge. While clearly in holiday mood and not attacking the race with the same intensity as Felix, the fact that he had clocked 14:47 for the distance on the road at Milton Keynes recently, yet conceded some 25 seconds here clocking 15:41 suggests that Felix is surely in shape to rewrite his best for the distance given the right opportunity.

JACK BANCROFT ended up less than ten seconds down on his namesake in 15:49, though would have been significantly closer had he not briefly taken a wrong turn and had to retrace his steps on the final half lap of the course. While nobody else was under 16 minutes on the day, Alex, clearly still basking in the plaudits of his revelationary effort at Wimbledon, opted to use his his run as a tempo session and cruised round in 16:19. This was exactly half a minute quicker than DAVE AWDE, whose 16:49 was only three seconds slower that he had recorded last month in arguably worse conditions and despite him admitting that he also was missing the lunchtime training runs he had been able to do while working from home during the lockdown.

ANDY DRAKE was the fastest of the three guys from his training entourage, finishing another 25 seconds back on Dave in 17:14 and just 12 seconds faster than JAMIE HINTON`s 17:26, with their other training colleague STEVE HONIGHT also inside 18 mins in 17:54.
If Felix had made his intentions clear from the outset, so did the first of our two lady guests ELAINA GARD, who stripped for action tore off the start as if she meant business, and making maximum use of the pavement, wherever available, paced her effort to perfection to just dip under the 19 minute barrier. Elaina is surely something of a scientist, for having assessed the conditions during her warm up coolly added 10 seconds to her predicted time- itself a carefully analysed 18:47 – just before the start and duly finished only two seconds shy of her target in 18:59.

Even so, undeterred behind her HANNAH STEEDS, a picture of concentration throughout, though never in close contact with her rival, did manage to pull her back by nearly half a minute to set an inaugural women`s time to beat of 18:32. Both should feel well satisfied with their first attempt at this sort of event.
Sandwiched between our two leading ladies the club`s revered webmaster NICO BROOKE was pressganged into acting as webmistress on the day and the perfect gentleman he is duly deferred to his two rivals by deciding ot would be unfair to beat either of them! Even so I`m sure Nico would be the first to admit that he surfs the web more swiftly than his feet allow him to do so on terra firma!
As for the runners` predictive abilities while Elaina`s calculating mind stole the honours, eight of the rest finished within 20 seconds of their predicted times, with Dave and Jamie only four seconds out. The net result was that Jack Millar ended up edging out Felix, Jack Bancroft and Dave Awde in the pocket money rewards, though as promised no one went home empty handed even if Steve and Nico had to share a coffee between them!

In conclusion it was disappointing that a few more of our faster girls had not taken up the challenge, but while real racing above anything more that 3K is still not permitted, we intend to put one of these time trial events each month. For September we hope to pick the best weekend weatherwise, so will only post the information early in any week.
While I`m sure you are all missing the excitement of tactical racing, I remain surprised that time trialling has never established a foothold in our sport, whereas it`s been the bedrock of serious cycle sport in the country. After all it`s so much easier to sit on the heels of the runner in front of you as there is surely no truer test of who can push themselves that bit more than having to race against yourself and the clock
It only remains to thank my BTC colleagues OWAIN JONES, JOSH MOODY and BEN WESTHENRY for helping marshal the course along with JULIA BELYAVIN


PS Other recent performances among the BTC group include ADAM WILSON dipping under 9 mins for 3000m at Trafford with an 8:58 clocking and JOE CONNORS 15:24 for 5K on the road at Milton Keynes..

Doctor Felix Shades BTC Trial of Truth

11 Aug
FELIX MCGRATH produced a storming final burst of speed to edge out training partner OWAIN JONES in a nail-biting finish to the BTC`s inaugural Trial of Truth on a measured 5K mixed grassland/tarmac course on Durdham Downs.
Felix McGrawth on his way to winning the BTC Trial of Truth
In what was reckoned to be the first competitive event of its kind in the area, the BTC, an athlete inspired group of runners attached to the club that is dedicated to running faster and nothing less, sponsored this innovative 5K time trial test.
Although handicap events have long been popular, particularly at holiday seasons, our sport has never had a time-trialling arm as has long existed in cycle sport. Why this has never been popularised is odd as there is no purer test of an individual`s ability to push oneself to the limit against the clock with no pacemakers or heels to follow. Is there not a case for a separate list of records on Power of Ten for solo efforts against the clock?
Owain Jones battling the heat
What`s more during the current pandemic, events like this have the advantage of being able to embrace far more runners and distances in a competitive environment than the ongoing EA guidelines allow, since at present any event lasting more than 15 minutes is considered potentially dangerous and not permitted due to the risk of aerosol contamination.
The BTC group was ostensibly using the event as a guide to their training progress, but unfortunately this was not helped by the heat and prevailing strong North East breeze that undoubtedly affected the times recorded, as of course did the undulating parkland course round the Seawalls/Ladies Mile circuit of the Downs. Ideally you need the wind blowing in the opposite South West direction so that is against you on the long decline to the Seawalls and in your favour on the drag back up the Ladies Mile.
Coach Mike Down ready with the stopwatch
Felix` winning time of 15:34 was probably worth some 10-15 seconds faster in ideal conditions, while on a flat road circuit you would be looking at something closer to half a minute. Even so he was the first to admit afterwards that his three second winning margin over Owain was due to the fact that he had his minute man ADAM WILSON in his sights in the closing stages and actually caught him just short of the line. The two of them have been swapping bragging rights in training recently and knew there would not be much between them.
However there is no doubt who was the star of the race vet GRAHAM BREEN – or should we now say supervet ! – who had drawn the short straw by having to set off first. Ironically it was to prove a blessing in disguise as he knew Owain would be setting off in hot pursuit as second starter, and running like a startled rabbit it gave him the shot of adrenalin needed for an uncompetitive event like this. Whatever his motivation Graham more than lived up to the England masters vest he was wearing by clocking a remarkable new pb of 15:46, which was only 12 seconds slower than the winner.
“I don`t know where that came from” was his amazed reaction, but not such a surprise to those of us who have seen the way has been going in training since he started working with the group recently. Now in his 45th year there can`t be many runners in the country whom he won`t be able to challenge when he graduates to the V45 age group.
JOE CONNORS, who like Graham has been making big strides in training recently, would have surely also ducked under 16 minutes on the basis of his first lap time, but unfortunately he went off course and failed to post a true finishing mark.
As for the others Adam for some reason had declared beforehand that he was only using it as a tempo run, and if so was probably happy with the time he posted of 16:35, though he too on recent training form could have been under 16 mins. He was just one second faster than DAVE AWDE, who was reasonably happy with his time after admitting to having started too fast. I seem to have heard that one before Dave!
Adam Wilson, in very good shape lately!
We were disappointed that fewer runners in the group were able to participate, though ALEX CROSSLAND (hip trouble), JOHNNY THEWLIS (tendinitis issues). JOSH MOODY (backside problem after a recent fall) and ANDY WATT (lack of training due to imminent job change) all turned up and helped with marshalling. Hopefully all four will be back in action for a replay at the end of the month when we will also be inviting some of our faster girls to take part.