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McKenna is best in the west on a sizzling day in London

JARLATH McKenna and Mary Menon finished top west runners in the Virgin London Marathon today.

Bristol & West’s McKenna, who is a former winner of the Easy Runner/Bristol Post athlete of the month competition, made the top 50 in the championship event as he clocked a time of 2hrs 32mins for 41st place.

In the hot conditions – the warmest day ever for the event – McKenna’s time was his slowest on the course since he made his debut in London on 2014.

Two years ago McKenna (pictured) ran his PB of 2:24.12 in London and while 2:32.00 is still an excellent time it just underlines how difficult the conditions were today for the runners.

As team Bath’s Dan Jones said: “You train all winter in the freezing cold and rain and then on race day you get weather like that. It was the toughest marathon conditions I have run in and I don’t reckon there will be many PBs today.

“A lot of people were pulling out.”

One of those was Mckenna’s Bristol clubmate Pete Le Grice (pictured right), who stepped off the course just after the halfway point.

With many fo the west’s top women giving the event a miss it was left to Menon of Ilfracombe Running Club to fly the regional flag as she clocked 2:53.44, just over two minutes off the PB she set on the same course last year.

Remarkably just a few weeks ago she won the Taunton marathon in 2:51.20!

Second quickest woman in the west and fastest in Bristol was Jane Faram of Southville Running Club in 3:08.57, well outside her PB of 3:03.22 set in Spain last year.


Virgin London Marathon – Women (selected West runners): Mary Menon (Ilfracombe RC) 2:53.44; Jane Faram (Southville RC) 3:08.57; Samantha Lake (Tavistock RP) 3:11.53; Alison McEwing (EVH) 3:12.29; Hannah Claydon (Swin) 3:13.24; Samantha Antell (Bide) 3:15.19; Lauren Price (Bitt RR) 3:16.08; Amy Sole (CAC) 3:16.57; Phil Richards (Weston AC, W40) 3:18.14; Catie O’Donoghue 3:21.59;

Men: 41 Jarlath Mckenna (B&W) 2:32.00; 43 Ben Cole (Swin) 2:32.19; 104 Ryan Snell (Exm) 2:37.46; 120 Jordan Morant (Haye Runners) 2:38.17; 168 Dan Jones (TB) 2:41.08; 185 Jon Cracknell (TB) 2:41.54; 207 Kieron Summers (Weston, M40) 2:42.30; 213 Jordan Andrews (Tavistock) 2:42.44; 247 Oliver Jones (ECH, M40) 2:44.24; 417 Jamie McBrien (Corsham RC) 2:49.35; 431 Josh Taylor (TB) 2:49.47; 477 Sam Wilson (GWR) 2:50.59; 493 Aaron Pritchard (TB) 2:51.28; 520 James Donald (TB) 2:52.05; 591 Graham Breen (B&W, M40) 2:53.27; 598 Simon Brace (TB, M40) 2:53.32;

DNF: Pete Le Grice (B&W).

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Boss Turner pays tribute to Avon’s super kids after UK Sports Hall success

AVON team manager Dave Turner has saluted his young team after they pulled of a shock victory in the United Kingdom Sports Hall Finals at Manchester’s Sport City Stadium

The under 13 boys’ team, comprising 13 youngsters from 11 schools, beat strong squads from the more fancied Berkshire and Surrey to lift the title for the ninth time since Turner became manager in 1994.

“I thought Berkshire would beat us like they did last year as well but the selection and balance of the team was right and we have an unbelievable group of kids,” said Turner.

“They were amazing on the day and I am just absolutely gob-smacked that we won because it was so unexpected. The boys were brilliant and it is great that we selected the team from 11 different schools, including state and private.

“It is a terrific achievement.”

To complete a marvellous weekend the Avon under 15 boys’ team produced a best ever third place in their competition on Sunday.

The event on Saturday started with a surprise but morale-boosting gold in the obstacle relay team which comprised Kanye Christie (Saint Katherine’s Pill), Joe Meredith (Wellsway), Tom Hobbs (Writhlington) and Ryan Baldwin (Gordano).

The second victory came in the shot from Josh Schriver (Clifton College), who threw an astonishing 12.78m.  Team-mate Zakoor Khan (Bedminster Down) took silver (11.88m) for an Avon one-two.

Dennis Alphonso (SMRT) was runner-up in the 2-lap race and then added another silver in the triple jump with a personal best of 7.41m.

Further silver medals came in the vertical jump where Enoch Ewulomi (St Mary Redcliffe & Temple) surprised both himself and the team with a great performance.

Charlie Thornton (Nailsea), who had come fourth in the South West 6-lap event, ran the race of his young life to storm through in heat one to win silver in 1min 09.4secs. Late replacement Ryan Baldwin (Gordano) also ran well for the team.

The other medals came from the 4×2 lap relay in which Elijah Banguera (SMRT) give Avon the lead, followed by secure runs from Zac Bird (Fairfield) and Zakoor Khan to give Dennis Alphonso a chance of a medal.  He fought valiantly and just pipped Surrey for the silver.

The paarlauf team of Charlie Thornton and Stan Irving (Churchill) won their heat of the race by a mile but lost out to a faster heat and finished fourth.  Irving also finished sixth of 22 in the 4-lap race in 44.5secs.

Banguera was fourth in the long jump as were the quartet of Zac Bird, Kanye Christie, Tom Hobbs and Zakoor Khan in the 4×1 lap relay.

“Team captain Dylan Perera (Redland Green School) waited nervously on the podium with all the other team captains before it was declared that Avon had won by 45 points from Surrey,” added Turner.

“To make it even more poignant the win came at the same time as the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane where it is was nice to see former Avon Sports Hall athletes Emily Diamond, Leon Reid and Lucy Bryan all competing internationally for their countries.

“Maybe in years to come some of the current team will also go on to further success.”




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Bristol & West women are in charge at Frenchay 10k

NICOLA Brookland and Jessie Sanzo enjoyed a Bristol & West AC one-two in the Frenchay 10k  race on Sunday.

Brookland ran out a clear winner as she clocked a time of 37mins 52secs in ninth place overall of the 654 finishers with Sanzo, who has been troubled by injuries in recent years to leave her short of her best, 46 seconds behind in second.

Third in the women’s race was Westbury Harriers’ Emma D’Alton clocking 40:47 in 27th overall.

Above left Nicki Brookland with opposite Jessie Sanzo and below right the Bristol &                                                          West AC pair of Clare Jolliffee and Sarah                                                              Everitt.Below left Adam Stokes (656)                                                                         leads from David Bruce (668)

Top man was Taunton AC’s Adam Stokes in 35:29 with Bristol & West’s David Bruce runner-up (35:44) and Robert Farley of Bitton Road Runners third (36:16).

Top veteran was Team Bath’s Ewen Malloch in fourth (36:39) just ahead of Westbury’s Alex Hamblin (36:51).

Photos courtesy of Dave Taylor.



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In-form Ellie scorches to another PB in 800m

OVER in America Bristol runner and former Easy Runner athlete of the month winner  Ellie Leather is enjoying the best start to an outdoor season in her life.

In a blistering opening to the summer Leather, who is on a sports scholarship at Fresno University in California, has recorded four personal bests in four races.

The latest came at the weekend as Leather, who is a member of Yate & District AC and Westbury Harriers, slashed another two seconds off her PB for 800m clocking 2mins 11.16 seconds to finish runner-up at a meeting in California.

The time is also a new Yate senior women’s record breaking the 30-year-old record of 2mins 13secs held by Joanna Presley. In addition she also recorded a split of 59 sec for her leg in the 4 x 400m relay.

Jason Daniel, who is her coach in Bristol, said her progress has come as no surprise.

“As Ellie is now in America it was pretty much a given that the volume and intensity of her training has increased,” said Daniel.

“I wrapped her in cotton wool and never trained her too hard here. It was always about natural progress and keeping her in the sport without burning her out.

“Now she is a full time athlete training and racing in high quality races I expected (hoped!) her times to tumble.”

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38 years of hurt – Bristol & West’s long wait continues

IN the end the dream just remains that as team manager Mike Down watched on in frustration as Bristol & West AC could only finish seventh in the National 12-Stage Road Relay Championships on Saturday.

Having been on the podium for the past two years, finishing third and second, Down had high hopes of making a serious challenge for the title for the first time since that legendary victory in 1980.

Dan Studley recorded the ninth fastest time of the day on the long stage

On paper a strong squad looked more than capable of mounting a serious charge on the top spots but once again the event, which stretches over four hours and is the biggest test of a club’s strength in depth, confounded all expectations.

“So what went so tragically wrong to wreck our expected challenge?” asked Down afterwards.

“In particular it was a combination of the foot injury that ended up forcing our team captain Steve Mitchell to limp home on the fifth stage more than three minutes slower than anticipated, together with a much slower run than expected by his own admission by Will Christofi (pictured below during the cross country season) on the previous long leg that left us to play catch-up for the rest of the race.”

In truth the signs looked ominous from the start when the vastly improved Jack Millar finished 22nd on stage one. Admittedly his time was only a minute behind the winner but it was thought that he would be far closer to the front.

That prompted an over-eager Luke Evans to go off too hard as he chased down the pack and he paid the inevitable price on the Sutton Park course though he still managed to haul back seven places.

Sadly the tone had been set and notwithstanding Mitchell’s unfortunate injury and a sterling effort by GB international Dan Studley on stage seven to clock the ninth fastest long stage of the day, the team were always on the back foot.

“It is academic to calculate where we might have finished without the mishaps, but while we certainly would not have beaten Tonbridge, who emerged as worthy champions, we surely would have taken one of the minor medals to maintain our progress of the previous two years,” added Down.

“We may have missed what I felt was our best ever opportunity to win the blue riband of British road running through misfortune.

“The challenge now is to regroup and make sure that next time the Gods are on our side. Never let it be said that the 12-stage was one stage too many!”

It is also worth noting that while Bristol & West’s B squad finished 27th and were easily the leading B team on the day.

Men’s 12-Stage: 1 Tonbridge AC 4hrs 17mins 24secs; 2 Highgate Harriers 4:18.56; 3 Swansea Harriers 4:19.42.

7  Bristol & West AC              ‘A’  4:24:17


Jack Millar      (22) 27:21

Luke Evans       (16) 16:13

William Christof (21) 28:31

Richard Peters   (18) 16:05 (pictured)

Stephen Mitchell (27) 30:05

Harry Allen      (21) 15:52

Daniel Studley   (14) 26:18

Andrew Chambers  (12) 15:56

Owain Jones      (11) 28:15

Jack Bancroft    (9) 16:03

Jarlath Mckenna  (7) 27:48

Michael Wilsmore (7) 15:50


27  Bristol & West AC              ‘B’  4:38:03


Matt Battensby   (51) 29:50

Josh Moody       (38) 16:38

Andy Watt        (36) 28:36

David Awde       (34) 16:58

Ben Robinson     (33) 28:52

Hugh Sadler      (31) 16:37

Miles Chandler   (31) 29:56

Adam Wilson      (31) 17:25

Andy Salmon      (30) 30:22

Robert Stewart   (30) 17:01

Kurt Taylor      (28) 29:08

Mark Edwards     (27) 16:40

Fastest times overall – long stage: 1 Alex Yee (Kent) 24:57; 9th Dan Studley (B&W) 26:18. Short: Kieran Wood (Cambridge) 15:06.


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Can Bristol & West finally win the National 12-Stage title again?

BRISTOL & West AC team manager Mike Down has been dreaming of winning the National 12-Stage Road Relay title for as long as I can remember and tomorrow he has put together a squad that has a real chance of glory.

The event, which takes place over four hours around the iconic Sutton Park circuit in Birmingham, is far too unpredictable to call with any certainty.

Key runner British international Dan Studley

The fact that the only time that Bristol – then operating as Bristol AC- has ever won this title, widely regarded as the Blue Riband of the club road running world, was back in 1980 when Olympians like Nick Rose and ‘Tony Staynings were in their prime, reflects just how hard it is to make the podium.

Some seriously good Bristol teams have tried and failed to get among the medals over the following thirty years but it is only recently that the team have emerged as genuine contenders.

Third two years ago Bristol & West improved to the silver medals twelve months ago when they also finished top English club behind the powerful Swansea outfit.

They are unlikely to retain their title as their leading lights are on international duty for Wales in the Commonwealth Games but as ever with this race nothing can be taken for granted as Down rightly outlines in his prediction for the event.

Loyal club man Steve Mitchell

“No-one should underestimate the opposition that confronts us, headed by the high-flying Tonbridge squad who scored such an overwhelming victory in the recent English cross-country championships,” said Down.

“According to the grapevine they are confident of repeating this success, and admittedly they will start as worthy favourites.

“There are other leading Southern clubs, notably Aldershot and Highgate, who could feature too if they get all their top runners out.

“The Northern challenge will be headed by their new champions Lincoln, who are a rising and close-knit force with a growing reputation, while the same as applies to Aldershot does to the North’s other leading challengers Salford, Sale, Stockport, Leeds, Morpeth and Liverpool, with whom we have had many a ding-dong struggle in the past.

“As regards our Midland opponents, Notts do not seem to be the force they were, while though top Birmingham club Birchfield ran us so close in the area 12-stage we are set to field a much stronger line-up, so it would be a major surprise if they trouble us this time.”

Bristol & West will be hoping international 1500m runner Rich Peters can deliver a big performance

So can Bristol & West do it? Traditionally cautious Down won’t be caught making any bold predictions of victory but he knows more than anyone else that everyone in the squad will have to run to their best form and a few others will need to have absolute blinders if they are to be in the mix.

“But a final message to you all:  bear in mind that opportunities are never missed, they are simply taken instead by your rivals!” added Down.

“Do you want that to happen?  We think not, so it’s over to you all now to fulfil our destiny as UK champions.”








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Wilsmore called into England squad for Austrian road mile

BRISTOL & West middle distance runner Mike Wilsmore has been selected represent England in the Attnanger Street Mile, in Austria, later this month.

Wilmsore will be joined by North Devon AC’s Phil Norman in the team for an event that takes place over a three-lap course in a small village which is packed with locals.

“It is not especially fast but it is intense with a top quality field and the atmosphere is brilliant,” said Norman.

Wilsmore did the race in 2016 when he finished fifth in 4mins 14secs.



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Bristol to launch a Sporting Hall of Fame

BRISTOL City Council is launching a Bristol Sporting Hall of Fame to celebrate those people who have inspired others to take part in sport and physical activity whether in their local community, at international level,  against the odds or are an up and coming young achiever.

The Hall of Fame is both to recognise this contribution of individuals but also to inspire others to take part and get involved through sharing their stories.

The Council are inviting nominations for people in the following categories: Exceptional Contribution, Elite Performers, Inspirational People and Young Achievers who are either born and bred or living and training in their sport/ activity within the Bristol City Council area.

For those who deserve recognition for their contribution to sport and physical activity but don’t meet the criteria of the above categories we have a ‘Name in Lights’ section.

Successful nominees received by 30th April will be invited to an inaugural reception in the afternoon of Thursday 24th May.

To find out more and to nominate please go to:



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Annabel’s crushing victory in Devizes

ANNABEL Granger raced to her first big win of the year in the Devizes half marathon on Sunday.

The Bristol & West AC runner (pictured far left from the Bristol half marathon last year) * was a convincing winner clocking a time of 83mins 34secs to finish over four minutes clear of nearest rival.

Devizes half marathon – men: 1 Jamie McBrien (Corsham RC) 74:57;2 Alasdair Leslie (Stella, M40) 75:24; 3 Mike Rose (Calne RC) 77:12.

Teams: 1 Team Bath AC ( 7 Josh Taylor 79.22; 15 Stuart Henderson (M40 2nd) 83.50; 22 James Taylor 87.46

Women: 1 Annabel Granger (B&W, W35) 83:34; 2 Rosie Hattersley (Unnat) 87:44; 3 Jessica White (unatt) 88:20. 675 finishers.

Adam Wilson, who has recently joined Bristol & West AC, opted for the shorter Highworth 5 miles road race and claimed a creditable seventh place in a time of 27mins 49secs.

Adam Wilson pictured in team kit prior to making his Great Britain debut.

The race was won by Tri-Counties cross country champion Simon Nott in 26:04, who was also crowned Wiltshire champion.

Team Bath’s Eilidh Bell opted for the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon and smashed her personal best as she broke three hours for the first time.

Setting off at 2hrs 50mins pace Bell never faltered, reaching halfway in 1:25 and barely missing a stride in the second half to cross the line in 2:50.12.

A few minutes ahead of her was former west international marathon runner Holly Rush, who is more often seen on the ultra scene these days.

Indeed, the day after clocking 2:47.32 to go top of the South West Rankings she flew out to Nepal for an event in the mountains.

Leading west man in Manchester was Corsham Running Club ultra trail specialist Damian hall with a PB of 2:38.26.

Asics Greater Manchester Marathon – men: 1 Shadrack Tanui 2:21.18

LOCAL: 32 Damian Hall (CRC, M40 2nd) 2:38.26 (PB); 42 Chris Roxburgh (AVR) 2:40.40.

Women: 1 Dani Nimmock (Norwich) 2:38.21

LOCAL: 6 Holly Rush (AVR, W40) 2:47.32; 8 Eilidh Bell (TB) 2:50.12.

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Imogen smashes personal best to win Taunton half marathon

IMOGEN Peck raced to an impressive win in the Taunton half marathon yesterday on a good day for local runners.

The Bristol & West AC athlete finished 35th overall and top woman in a time of 1hr 25mins 30secs which slashed 1min 29secs off the personal best she set in Gloucester at the start of the year.

Torbay’s Naomi Flanagan was runner-up (1:26.28) and fourth woman home and leading veteran over 40 was Westbury Harriers’ Sophie Voller in a time of 1:27.45.

In the men’s race Westbury’s Nick Faye was a fine fourth overall and second veteran over 50 in a personal best time of 1:19.11 with Torbay’s Peter Monaghan top M50 in second (1:15.09) behind Jamie Barnett of Teignbridge Trotters (1:11.30).

Making his debut in the marathon Robert Farley of Bitton Road Runners was runner-up in 2hrs 42mins 07secs, putting him fourth in the 2018 South West Rankings, with victory going to Bournemouth’s Toby Chapman in 2:41.10.

Great Western Runners’ Chris Newby clocked 3:07.01 in 15th.

Also in the half there were also big PBs for the Westbury pair of Ewan Paton (1:24.37) and Michael O’Connell (1:31.55).