After a dream start to the season in which both the Bournemouth AC men’s and women’s teams emerged victorious at the Broadstone Quarter, the yellow and blue army headed to the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon to try to consolidate their positions in fixture two.
With Jacek Cieluszecki, Steve Way, Toby Chapman, Ant Clark and Stu Nicholas in the line up, they knew they had a good chance of doubling their lead at the top of the men’s first division.
They couldn’t count their chickens just yet though as Egdon Heath Harriers had also managed to assemble a dangerously competitive team of five including Jonny Cooper, Paul Bullimore and Adam Davies.
It had all the makings of an exciting showdown between the two first division heavyweights. After a decent showing in the first fixture, Twemlow Track Club were out in force again and they were bolstered by the return of last year’s Dorset Road Race League men’s individual winner Lee Dempster.
Making his Twemlow Track Club debut after moving over the dark side from BAC, Jez Bragg was also in action and looking to help spearhead his new team to promotion from division two.
The Bournemouth AC ladies team had strength in numbers at the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon, which was refreshing to see as they’d had difficulties getting a team of three together for some of the fixtures last season.
They had no less than seven women turning out, ready and raring to tackle the tough, hilly course and give their best for the vest. Last season’s highest point scorer for the team, Tamzin Petersen, was in action, as was popular new recruit for the 2020 season, Heather Khoshnevis.
The team were also buoyed by the return to road race league action of Caroline Rowley, after several years away from the local race circuit. It was good to see her in and amongst it again and her presence seemed to give everyone a lift.
Bringing home a second win for the season was going to prove difficult though after injuries prevented Emma Caplan and Helen O’Neile from taking part.
Egdon Heath Harriers looked like they would provide the main threat and with last season’s Dorset Road Race League women’s champion Alex Door in their ranks. Poole Runners and Lytchett Manor Striders were also likely to be in contention for team honours.
It wasn’t just Dorset Road Race League club runners who had been attracted to the race though. GB international Adam Holland had also thrown his hat into the ring, along with Jonny Suttle of Bristol and West AC.
As soon as the race got underway it soon became evident that Adam Holland had designs on coming away with the race win. He very quickly opened up a big gap at the front of the field and no one seemed prepared to even attempt to match his pace.
The chasing pack was lead by Jonny Suttle, with Lee Dempster and Mark Smith of Twemlow Track Club in just behind, along with Christopher Peck of the other new team for the 2020 season, Dorchester RIOT.
Toby Chapman was the highest place Bournemouth AC runner in the early stages of the race and he was joined by Harry Lauste of Twemlow Track Club and Jez Bragg in the third group out on the road.
JC and Ant Clark held themselves back at first, looking to either ease their way into the race or run it at a very controlled pace, as opposed to hell for leather all the way. Stu Nicholas was also held back by the fact that he’d forgotten to tie his shoelace and had to stop during the first miles to tie it up.
As the race progressed though and they reached the half way point, it was Ben Renshaw of Bridport Runners who started to move through the field.
In fact, he was going so well, he almost caught up with Adam Holland who had been way out front on his own for virtually the whole race. It turned out Adam had too much of an advantage though and was able to hold on for the win, crossing the line in a magnificent time of 1:14:42.
Ben was only 11 seconds behind in the end, securing second place in a time of 1:14:53. Because Adam runs for Tavistock AC though, it was maximum points for Ben in the Dorset Road Race League, or rather minimum points.
After he’d taken third place at the Broadstone Quarter behind Chris Alborough and JC, Ben was starting to look like a real contender for the Dorset Road Race League individual title in the 2020 season.
Johnny Suttle took third place in a time of 1:15:08, with Christopher Peck taking 4th in 1:15:36. They were followed by the Twemlow Track Club trio of Harry Lauste (1:15:40), Lee Dempster (1:15:58) and Mark Smith (1:16:43).
Ant Clark proved that form is temporary but class is permanent as he reached the line in a super quick time of 1:17:25. That was way better than he’d been expected to run so he was really pleased with that performance.
After having to completely stop running when he was suffering from Epstein Barr Virus last summer, Ant has gradually worked his way back into form and is looking on track to be back at his best in the near future.
After taking the first half of the race very steadily he began to move up through the gears and worked his way up the field, ending the race in 8th position. That secured him the prize for second V40 behind Mark Smith.
Richard Swindlehurst was the fourth Twemlow Track Club member to arrive at the finish, netting the prize for 1st V50, finishing in a time of 1:17:42. Only four scorers are required in the second division so that was enough to see them pick up the team win for the fixture.
Egdon Heath Harriers then got their first two men on the board with Jonny Cooper taking 11th place in 1:17:47 and Paul Bullimore finishing 12th in 1:17:59. Duncan Ward of Dorset Doddlers was 2nd V50, crossing the line in 1:18:09 which put him in 13th place.
Despite the shoelace incident, Stu Nicholas ran well to come in as Bournemouth AC’s second scorer, taking 14th place in a time of 1:18:38. He was followed shortly after by JC who recorded a 15th place finish, crossing the line in 1:18:59.
He was going for more of a controlled training run approach rather than an all-out racing mode so given that, it was a decent run from Jacek’s perspective.
Twemlow Track Club had their fifth man in when Jez Bragg arrived at the finish to take 16th place in a time of 1:19:06. It was a strong debut for his new club for Jez.
Adam Davies was Egdon Heath Harriers third scorer of the day, recording a time of 1:19:17. Toby Chapman wasn’t quite in the form he was in last year when he finished second to Steve Way and this time round he had to settle for 18th place, crossing the line in 1:20:03. He was the fourth Bournemouth AC man in.
Neil Sexton of Poole Runners put in a fine display to take 20th place in a time of 1:20:31, just behind Scott Parfitt of Lytchett Manor Striders who was 19th in 1:20:03.
Bruce Campbell was fourth scorer for Egdon Heath Harriers, putting in a very strong performance to finish in a time of 1:21:10, just ahead of Steve Cook of Twemlow Track Club who was 22nd in 1:21:20.
That left Bournemouth AC and Egdon Heath Harriers just need one for man to complete their scoring teams of five. Originally it looked like it would be between Richard Brawn and Julian Thacker to see who came in first.
Richard’s technique is usually to take it quite steady on the hills in races so he doesn’t put himself in any difficulty. That strategy didn’t work too well at Blackmore Vale though as there are so many hills and he ended up losing quite a bit of ground over the first half of the race.
On the eighth mile, Julian actually caught Richard up and pulled alongside him. That was enough for Rich to decide to really turn the screw. He began to pick up speed and push on and from that point on he was looking forward as opposed to behind.
Towards the end Rich got in a battle with Steve Claxton of Poole Runners and over the last couple of miles they were jostling for position, overtaking each other constantly.
They ended up pushing each other on though and overtook Nick Berry of Dorset Doddlers in the process. Then on the final hill, Steve Way came galloping up behind them.
He had clearly decided to put some work in over the latter stages of the race and was finishing very strongly. Steve continued to push on up the hill, also overtaking Luke Dowsett of Littledown Harriers before reaching the finish to claim 29th place.
Steve’s finishing time was 1:24:34 and that was enough to give Bournemouth AC the victory in the Dorset Road Race League. Steve Claxton won the battle between himself and Rich Brawn, crossing the line in 31st place with a time of 1:24:43.
Rich followed in five seconds later to take 32nd place in a time of 1:25:48. Julian Thacker rounded off the scoring team of five for Egdon Heath Harriers, crossing the line in 1:25:26. That was enough to see them take 2nd place in the Dorset Road Race League first division.
In the ladies race, Alex Door opened her race winning account for the season putting in a fine display to secure a superb sub-1:30 time. She took 55th place overall, in 1:29:33 which was enough to give her a winning margin of well over six minutes on her nearest rival.
Dawn Andrews of Lytchett Manor Striders was second placed female, getting to the line in 1:35:55 which put her in 84th place overall. Dawn’s teammate Judith Vlaarkamp finished as third lady, registering a time of 1:36:53.
It was to be Egdon Heath Harriers’ day though and Victoria Barnett and Hannah Martyn arrived at the finish close to get to secure them the team victory. Victoria’s time was 1:38:06 which put her in 100th place overall and Hannah was next over the line in a time of 1:38:12.
The first Bournemouth AC lady to complete the course was Heather Khoshnevis who clocked a time of 1:42:21. That was one of the best times she’s done at Blackmore Vale Half Marathon for a number of years.
It seemed that once again, the magic yellow vest had done the trick as she recaptured her form of days gone by. She’s participated in a couple of the BAC track sessions taken by Tom Craggs and is already feeling the difference in strength and found she had added determination to get to the finish line.
Finishing as 12th placed female, Heather took first prize in the F55 category and was 133rd overall. She enjoyed sharing the moment with the other BAC ladies and described it as a great day at the races.
The next BAC lady to reach the line was Tamzin Petersen who posted a time of 1:48:09. That put her in 177th place overall and made her the 23rd placed woman.
She found the crosswinds difficult to contend with when she was making her way up the inclines and because she’s very lightweight she often finds that headwinds effect her more than most.
Caroline Rowley made a marvellous comeback to the road race league by finishing as third scorer for the team. She registered a time of 1:51:21 which put her in 198th place overall and 31st lady. She was also fifth in the F45 category.
That meant the Bournemouth AC women had finished in fourth place for the fixture which was a respectable result given that some of their top names were out of action. Lytchett Manor Striders took second with last season’s champions Poole Runners down in third.
Caroline was just pipped to the post by her BAC teammate Ian Graham who managed to overtake her on the last hill. He’d had her in his vision virtually the whole way round but wasn’t really gaining any ground on her and wasn’t expecting to catch her up.
Ian had overtaken a Lytchett Manor Striders runner and about the 11-mile point and thought he might have been in his age category. It turned out to be Stephen Littlecott who was only 64 but Ian didn’t know that at the time.
Stephen had stuck with Ian for a bit but then he’d managed to pull away so was hoping to do his best to keep Stephen behind him. That may in turn explain how he managed to catch Caroline over the course of the last mile when he was pushing hard.
Ian’s finishing time was 1:51:13 in the end which put him in 197th place. There was no prize for the over 70’s but if there had been it would have gone to David Cartwright of Poole Runners who finished in 111th place overall in a stellar time of 1:39:16.
Jim Brumfield of Egdon Heath Harriers also managed to finish ahead of Ian, finishing in a time of 1:50:10 which put him in 190th place.
Closer to the front of the field, Adrian Townsend had been on antibiotics, which seemed to be making him feel sick. As a consequence he took the first three miles very easy before pushing the pace a bit over the next five miles which he ran with one of the Littledown Harriers.
A strong finish saw Adrian go take about five places over the over the last mile. Finishing in a time of 1:31:55, Adrian took 63rd place overall, in what was his third time of running the race.
Blackmore Vale was to be Phil Cherrett’s first ever half marathon race. He wasn’t sure what it would bring but he was definitely up for giving it his best shot.
Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson was on hand to help shepherd Phil round the course and ensure he was running at a manageable pace.
Rich worked hard to maintain a pace of roughly 8 minutes per mile and led Phil through the race up until they got to the point where they knew Phil would be in line for a sub 1:45 finish. Then Rich slowed his pace down and allowed Phil to push onto the finish.
The pacing had been spot on for Phil and he made it to the finish line in a time of 1:44:39, which put him in 145th place overall. It was a very good first stab at the distance for Phil and he was chuffed that it all went to plan.
Rich ended up crossing the line in a time of 1:45:13 which put him in 149th place overall.
Although she hadn’t been feeling well all week, Estelle Slatford was still keen to do the race for several reasons. One was that she’d done it before and enjoyed to rural setting and undulating nature of the course.
Two was that she knew there were going to be a number of the ladies there so she knew it would be fun. And thirdly, she knew it would be a good training run.
Considering how bad she was feeling before the race and how windy it was, she was pleased with her finishing time of 1:53:24. That put her in 208th place overall, 36th female and sixth F45.
Helen Ambrosen wasn’t far behind Estelle and she was really pleased with her run, getting to the line in a time of 1:54:46. That put her in 219th overall and made her 39th lady and second F60.
Helen actually finished just four seconds ahead of Frances Anderson of Egdon Heath Harriers who is also 63 years of age.
Occupying 231st and 232nd positions on the leaderboard, BAC duo Katrina White and Sam White finished in 1:55:56 and 1:56:16 respectively.
Katrina would have liked to have got closer to 1:50 but on that course and in those conditions, she had to be reasonably pleased. She finished as 45th female.
As for Sam, she had a terrific run and was actually shocked at the time she produced. She thought she’d be over two hours. Although she found it tough mentally and physically, especially with all those hills, she was very pleased with the outcome. It shows she’s in a good place as the begins her training for the London Marathon at the end of April.
Rounding things off for the Bournemouth AC brigade, Ken Parradine completed the course in a time of 2:06:51, putting him in 283rd place. At the ripe old age of 76, Ken is doing well to still be posting those kinds of times. A total of 354 runners successfully finished the race.
With two wins in the first two races, Bournemouth AC are sitting pretty at the top of the table. Egdon Heath Harriers now had a second and a third place to their name and it would appear they will once again be the main challengers for the league title. Poole AC didn’t have a team at Blackmore Vale but they could also be in contention.
Twemlow Track Club look as if they’re going to be the dominant force in the second division and judging by the first two fixtures, they should breeze to promotion.
Their win at Blackmore Vale elevated Egdon Heath Harriers to the top of the women’s first division with Bournemouth AC dropping down the second. With Poole Runners and Lytchett Manor Striders also in the mix it could be a very exciting race for the title this season.
The next Dorset Road Race League fixture on the list was the Lytchett 10 but due to the threat posed by storm Ciara, thew race organisers were left with no option but to cancel the race. They will look to pencil it into the calendar again later down the line.
That means that next up, it’s the Marnhull 12k, which, despite being scheduled for weekend before the London Marathon, has sold out. It could be a tricky task for the Bournemouth AC men to continue their winning streak there as they may not have the strength in numbers there but as usual, Rich Nelson will do what he can to ensure the club fields competitive men’s and women’s teams.