Bournemouth AC men's team at Rotary Easter Quarter Marathon

Cracking victory from Josh Cole at Easter Quarter Marathon

BAC men at start line for Easter Quarter Marathon
Some of the Bournemouth AC men’s team on the start line for the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon. Left to right: Stu Nicholas, László Tóth, Josh Cole, Rich Brawn, Ross Smith

Taking place on the Saturday over the Easter break, it was always going to be tricky for Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson to scrape a competitive team together for the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon. It was absolutely imperative to do so though since this year it was a Dorset Road Race League fixture so points were up for grabs.

Inevitably though, some people were away visiting family or had made plans for the Easter break knowing they’d get more bang for their buck in terms of taking days off work.

It also clashed with the Anglo Celtic Plate which took several of BAC’s top athletes out of the equation as they were there competing for their country or supporting those that did.

Thankfully, a rallying cry from Rich was answered by several members and they did somehow manage to pull a decent team together, with 10 men and 6 ladies lining up to take on the 6.6 mile route starting at the affable Boscombe Pier.

It was a rather grey and uninspiring day at first which didn’t really seem to spark too much enthusiasm amongst the BAC contingent as they were getting prepared to hit the ground running.

BAC men on start line at Easter Quarter Marathon
The BAC men talk tactics before the race gets underway as László sports his ‘on brand’ blue hat

That said, the promise of a captain’s cream egg for everyone who took part did seem to buoy their spirits somewhat and, with a klaxon sounded by the Easter Bunny, they were soon off down the promenade, with the wind in their sails – for the first part of the race at least anyway.

A small lead group soon broke away from pack, containing Josh Cole of BAC and three Poole AC members. As they went clear, a strong chase pack formed behind them including László Tóth and Stu Nicholas.

The course was practically the same as that of the Bournemouth 10 except, instead of starting at Bournemouth Pier, you started at Boscombe instead, making it 3 and a half miles shorter.

It was still a case of bombing it along the promenade till you get to the end, turning up on the slope that leads toward Hengistbury Head, then working your way back onto the overcliff and heading back that way.

Rich Brawn and Stu Nicholas - Easter Quarter Marathon
And they’re off! Rich and Stu have a laugh before the serious business begins

Those who had done the Bournemouth 10 the previous month knew exactly what was coming at every turn, although to be fair, most Bournemouth AC runners are very familiar with the area anyway, which may have given them a slight advantage.

When they got onto the overcliff, there was a bit of a headwind, making the 3rd, 4th and 5th miles significantly tougher. As they came off the overcliff though and got onto Boscombe Spa Road, it was then a nice downhill finish so they knew they could afford to push hard for the remaining mile and a half, if they had anything left in the tank.

At the front of the field, Josh Cole was running a very smart race and had stayed tucked in behind the Poole AC trio the majority of the way. As he approached the 5 and a half mile point, which was just coming up to the end of the overcliff road, he made his move.

At first, one of the Poole AC members tried to go with him but Josh then put in a second spurt and was soon out front on his own. From that point on, it was all academic as Josh raced toward the finish at breakneck speed.

It was a magnificent victory for Josh, crossing the line in a stunning time of 35 minutes and 46 seconds. Jamie Grose of Poole AC was 2nd in a time of 35:53, with Chris Alborough and Brian Underwood, also both from Poole AC, taking 3rd and 4th in 36:03 and 36:10 respectively.

Josh Cole won the Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon
Josh Cole was given a nice bottle of red for his troubles after winning the race in supreme style

After running an incredibly tough marathon at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park the weekend before, Stu Nicholas was in action again, but he did mention before the race began that his legs were absolutely shot.

The elevation gain in the QE Spring Marathon was said to be greater than that of climbing up Mount Snowden, or for those who know it, the equivalent of hauling yourself up the beastly Butser Hill 7 times.

On top of that, Stu was going off on holiday almost immediately after the race, so had to make a quick getaway and head to Heathrow in order to catch his flight.

Despite all that though, he showed tremendous commitment to the cause by turning out and giving his all. By the way he ran, you wouldn’t have known he’d been through such a tough ordeal the week before though and Stu finished the race in a stellar time of 37:33, putting him in 8th place.

Shortly after, László arrived at the finish line, having also ran extremely well to take 11th place with a terrific time of 37:48. This weekend László is in action again at the Bournemouth Bay Run where he will be competing in the half marathon.

The Easte Quarter Marathon race gets underway in Boscombe
László takes off down the promenade with Rich Brawn in behind at the left of the screen

The next BAC member over the line and 4th scorer for the men’s team in the Dorset Road Race League was Ross Smith, who came in 22nd place.

Despite not having done a lot of running recently, Ross is the kind of person who can just turn up and put in a brilliant performance out of the blue. That’s exactly what he did at the Easter Quarter Marathon, displaying great strength to keep to a consistent pace throughout and cross the line in a solid time of 39:18.

Finishing as the 5th scorer for the team, Richard Brawn came in in 44th place in a fairly decent time of 41:33. Rich wasn’t really feeling overly enthusiastic about the race at first but once it started he soon got in the mood.

Richard Brawn at Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon
Rich Brawn is ready and raring to go on the start line at Boscombe promenade with Ross Smith in the background

For the first couple of miles along the promenade towards Southbourne, you kind of felt compelled to push hard, since the wind was behind you at that point. Rich felt that he needed to start quite quickly in order to compensate for the time he might lose running into a headwind on the way back.

Sure enough, the wind was a factor and did slow him down a fair bit as he went along the overcliff. He became embroiled in a few battles along the way but showed good resilience and determination not to be overtaken by anyone.

At one point, the leading lady came up right behind Rich. Thinking back to what happened in his 20 mile race a couple of weeks before, when he got overtaken by the first lady in the final few kilometres, he was determined not to allow that to happen again.

Finding some extra strength, Rich managed to build up a bit of a gap between himself and Amy Bond of Poole AC. With the increase in pace, he also managed to gain a few more places before reaching the end of the overcliff road. Once he got onto Boscombe Spa Road he knew he could afford to start his kick toward the finish.

He almost gained one more place as he came up behind Stephen Ogles of Poole Runners but Stephen just managed to hold him off. At the same time Rich also had to fight hard to stay ahead of Charlie Griffiths of Westbourne, who was finishing quickly behind.

Ultimately, Rich was pleased with his run as his average pace of 6:20 was a second quicker than in the 10k PB he got at the Boscombe 10k in November.

Finishing as the first placed lady, Amy Bond took 46th place overall, crossing the line in a superb time of 41:37. The 2nd placed lady was Charlotte Bunch, also of Poole AC in a time of 42:06, with Lesley Moore making it a Poole AC 1-2-3, taking 3rd place in a time of 43:51.

Just stealing in in front of BAC’s Nikki Sandell to take 4th place was Clare Martin of Purbeck Runners, who crossed the line in 69th overall in a time of 43:56.

Nikki arrived at the finish 6 seconds later, clocking an impressive time of 44:02. Given the fact she’d done no speed work and had also lost some endurance as well after suffering with a long standing Achilles injury, this wasn’t a bad result for Nikki.

As well as the physical difficulties she’s had, Nikki has also been struggling a bit mentally and feels like perhaps she’s lost her running mojo a bit. Seeing that she was still capable of putting in a competitive performance though despite the lack of training must give her some sense of encouragement. She’s hoping once the track season gets underway again it might reignite that spark that she’s been missing recently.

Coming in immediately behind Nikki, taking 71st place was Jud Kirk. Jud’s time was registered at 44:14, which was not a bad run at all for him. He was also the first V60 to cross the line.

In contrast to most of the participants, Jud actually found the start of the race along the promenade a lot tougher than the second part of the race when he went back along the overcliff.

It usually takes Jud a little while to get his motor running at full speed these days so he’s not ideally suited to the faster starting races. It’s more as the race goes on that his strength begins to serve him well and he starts to pick up some places as others begin to tire.

He also tends to like the tougher or more hillier sections of the course, meaning he actually preferred the stretch along the overcliff road, despite the headwind coming into play.

The next BAC member over the line and winning the women’s V50 category in her first race for Bournemouth AC was Julia Austin. Julia has just recently moved to the area and has been joining the BAC training sessions for the past couple of weeks. Finishing as the 11th placed lady, Julia took 106th position overall with her time of 46:52.

Crossing the line a couple of places after Julia was Michael Cowham, who completed the course in a time of 46:54. Michael enjoyed the race but feels like he’s just struggling for speed a little at the moment.

Michael Cowham in Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon
It was good to see Michael Cowham back out there again, looking focused and determined

Michael’s wife Cherry, who runs for Westbourne AC, was also in the race, finishing just 10 places after Michael. There was a 51 second gap between the two of them.

Coming in one place ahead of Cherry was Jo Dilling, who had a fairly decent run to come in as 13th placed lady on the day and 117th overall. Jo’s time was a solid 47:44.

Playing it safe at the beginning, Jo felt like she perhaps started a little too pensively but she was worried about running out of steam towards the end of the race. Plus she wanted to save some energy for a final kick in the last mile.

Captain Rich Nelson came in shortly after, taking 122nd place overall in a time of 47:55. Rich has lost his competitive edge a little with running over recent times and has been plagued by persisting calf injuries that have impeded his training somewhat.

Over the past few weeks though, Rich has showed something of a resurgence and has been back at training and has even been finding a bit of speed in the interval sessions.

This weekend Rich is taking on the Exe to Axe 22 mile coastal run which goes from Exmouth seafront along the South West Coast Path to the far end of the Esplanade at Seaton.

Rich Nelson at Rotary East Cliff Easter Quarter Marathon
Captain Rich Nelson was back in action, using the race as a little warm up Exe to Axe the following weekend

Coming in as 18th placed lady, Joy Wright crossed the line in a time of 48:28, putting her in 130th place overall. Joy has been focusing mostly on the track recently and has had some good successes, including a 3rd placed finish in the 400 metres at the last meeting.

Following immediately after Joy was Steve Parsons, who crossed the line in a time of 48:30. Steve has recently been plagued by a knee injury that he is finding very difficult to shake off. It’s an IT band issue that is quite common place amongst runners.

He was hoping it wouldn’t effect him too much during the race but as soon as he set off it began to flare up and it hampered his progress during the race a fair bit. Despite the injury though, Steve dug in and managed to complete the course. He was limping a little bit afterwards though and it was clear he had aggravated it to some extent.

Taking 154th place in the standings, Phil Cherrett was the next BAC member over the line. The previous month, both Phil and Steve had run their furthest distances ever in a race at the Bournemouth 10. After that though, Phil had missed a week of running due to the cold weather and the snow and he’d then contracted a flu virus that knocked him for six.

In fact, the next run he got in was just four days before the Easter Quarter, so he knew he wasn’t in his best shape going into the race. After the first 3k, the discomfort began to set in and it was a bit of a struggle for the remainder of the race.

Nevertheless, Phil dug deep and managed to complete the race and, in truth, he was happy just to get around without stopping. He’ll now look to start getting his fitness back over the coming weeks.

Steve Parsons and Phil Cherrett in Easter Quarter Marathon
Steve Parsons and Phil Cherrett both had fitness concerns going into the race but they wanted to give it a go

The next BAC member to reach the finish was Louise Price, who was the 41st lady over the line. Her time of 52:49 put her in 210th place overall. Louise enjoyed the race and said she felt better than she has in all her other recent races.

It was certainly nice to see a bigger contingent of ladies out for a race, rather than just the customary three in order to scrape together a team for the league points.

Only two more people crossed the line after Louise before Mark Westcott arrived to take 213th place in a time of 52:58. It was Mark’s partner Helen Ambrosen who rounded things off from a BAC perspective, finishing as 84th placed lady and 267th overall with her time of 56:10.

As far as the team competition for the Dorset Road Race League goes, we know that Poole AC won the ladies contest claiming each of the top 3 places. The BAC ladies team of Nikki, Julia and Jo would have taken 2nd place.

It would appear that it was the same result for the men as well, with Poole AC taking top spot and Bournemouth AC in 2nd. Poole AC had 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th and 17th positions. BAC had 1st, 8th, 11th, 22nd and 44th.

Considering it was a bit of a makeshift team and the fact that some of Bournemouth AC’s top runners were at the Anglo Celtic Plate, this would have to go down as a pretty decent day for BAC.

After the race, Rich Nelson kept his word and dished out a Cadbury Cream Egg to everyone who ran to reward them for their egg-cellent performances. I’m not sure how much he had to shell out for that but they tasted all white so it was definitely worth it.

BAC men's scoring team at Easter Quarter Marathon
Stu, László, Josh, Rich and Ross gave Bournemouth AC 2nd place in the men’s team competition for the Dorset Road Race League