After sealing a splendid victory at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon the previous weekend, the Bournemouth AC men’s team should have been marching over to Portland full of confidence for the Round the Rock 10k, which was the next fixture in the Dorset Road Race League. The problem was though, they’d struggled to get a competitive team together.
Team captain Rich Nelson had searched in every corner and crevice to try to find some fast men to bolster the squad for the race but he’d had no luck. As a result, they were left with line up that looked like it might struggle, on paper at least.
In any case, it was going to be difficult to emulate last year’s success when they picked up maximum points, or rather, minimum points, since the lowest score wins in the Dorset Road Race League.
When it transpired that Mitch Griffiths was going to miss the race after he’d been called over to Dubai on a work trip, Rich knew he was really up against it when looking for a replacement.
It didn’t happen which meant that the only five men left who had actually entered the race, other than Rich and Dave Parsons, would all be scoring for team. That included valiant vet Jud Kirk, fidelity seeker Matt du Cros, consistent top fiver Richard Brawn, comeback king Alex Goulding and making his Bournemouth AC debut, Ed Porter.
After failing to field a team of three in the last three fixtures, the Bournemouth AC ladies team managed to get a side together for Round the Rock, with Julia Austin, Tamzin Petersen and Helen Ambrosen on the entrants list.
Their hopes of topping the table had long since evaporated and it was looking more like it would be a mid-table finish for them. Nevertheless though, a good backend to the season wouldn’t go amiss. Also, with three fixtures already out of the equation, they didn’t really want to risk not getting a team out for any of the remaining fixtures.
Along with the five predicted scorers for the men’s team, Membership Secretary supremo Dave Parsons was also in action and was hoping for a much better run that he had at the Purbeck 10k back in June where he struggled to get going.
Wayne Walford Jelks also popped up to make a cameo appearence after scoring a number late on and rushing over to Portland in an attempt to get there for the 10:30 start.
Unfortunately, due to some traffic hold ups along the way, he arrived around 20 minutes after the race had officially started. It was chip timed though so he quickly laced up his trainers and set off on his way.
In fact Jud, Alex and Richard only just made it in time for the start of the race after their journey took a little longer than anticipated. They frantically nipped up the stairs to collect their numbers seconds before the 10:15 cut-off time. It wasn’t the ideal preparation for an all-important league race.
It had rained a fair bit in the few days leading up to the race but come race day, the conditions were pretty good. The wind had also died down a touch from the ferocious gusts that had swept over Dorset the day before and threatened to disrupt the BAC Bournemouth parkrun takeover.
Once the race instructions had been given out and the athletes had gathered on the start line, the wheels were set in motion and the fun and games were underway.
The usual protagonists were at the front of the field from the get-go, with Lee Dempster of Lytchett Manor Striders the obvious favourite to pick up the victory with no Jacek Cieluszecki present.
One of the few Poole AC men still turning up to races, Chris Alborough, was also there, along with Paul Bullimore of Egdon Heath Harriers who had run really well at the Stur Half the previous weekend.
One-time Bournemouth AC man Sean Edwards, who has now rejoined his previous club Lytchett Manor Striders, is back running well again and he was also up near the front.
One man who was also present in the lead group but was perhaps a slightly less recogniseable face was that of BAC newcomer Ed Porter.
Having attended Bournemouth AC training sessions for the past few months now, Ed had really impressed with his tremendous turn of pace and strength and stamina to go with it.
That had led Rich Nelson to apply some gentle persuasion to convince Ed to put pen to paper and sign up for the club. To begin with, Ed wasn’t too sure as he was uncertain how he would measure up to the other top athletes in the area in a race situation. Eventually he agreed to join though and it was exciting to see him pulling on the yellow and blue jersey for the first time.
Then there was a group in behind that featured Alex Goulding and Neil Sexton of Poole Runners, along with Adam Corbin of Westbourne RC and Bruce Campbell of Egdon.
After being troubled by a soar heel at the Stur Half which prevented him from going out all guns blazing, Richard Brawn wasn’t sure how he would fare at Round the Rock but he felt that, since it was a shorter race, he’d have more chance of being able to get around without being effected too much by the injury.
He felt it would be too risky to try to go with Alex and Neil though so sat in a group just behind them along with Vince Fowler of Littledown Harriers, Joe Godden of Poole Runners and a couple of Royal Manor of Portland members, who were enjoying the advantage of home turf.
As the race progressed, Lee Dempster began to take control, building a sizeable advantage over Chris Alborough and Sean Edwards. Paul Bullimore and Ed were quite closely matched in the battle for 4th place on the road.
The first 5k of the course features quite a bit of downhill, so you can really pick up some speed there. Unfortunately though, what goes down must come up, meaning the second half of the route contains some very testing climbs.
There was a bit of headwind as they went down the hill towards the southern part of the island on mile three and that was where Rich Brawn began to find it a little tough going. Vince Fowler and Joe Godden moved ahead of him at that point.
However, on the way up the hill, he began to really feel strong. He managed to catch up with the group he had been running with on the way down and leave them behind as he powered up.
That was really encouraging from Rich’s perspective. Now he just needed to focus on what was in front of him and try to keep Alex Goulding and Neil Sexton in sight.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race, it was to be Lee Dempster’s day and he picked up another impressive win to add to his collection, getting to the line in a time of 34:18.
Chris Alborough cruised in to claim 2nd place in exactly 35 minutes, with Lee’s Lytchett Manor Striders teammate Sean Edwards sealing 3rd place in 35:27.
Aside from the emergence of Egdon Heath Harriers, Lytchett Manor Striders are fast becoming the team to watch in the Dorset Road Race League. They have absolutely stormed the Second Division this season and could be major contenders when they return to Division One next season.
It was an Egdon verses Bournemouth AC battle for 4th place with Paul Bullimore and Adam Davies of Egdon up against Ed from BAC. Paul Bullimore found the strength to pull away from Ed in the end and managed to secure 4th position, crossing the line in 36:11.
Ed had had a brilliant run though and to get 5th place in his first ever Dorset Road Race League fixture was an astonishing achievement. He arrived at the finish to register an excellent time of 36:20, underlining the huge potential he has to compete at the top level.
Adam Davies took 6th position in a time of 36:34, with Robert Doubleday of Poole AC finishing 7th in 36:45.
Alex Goulding and Neil Sexton were having a right old ding-dong battle for 1st place in the M40 category and had been neck-and-neck virtually the whole way. It looked like it was going to go right down to the wire until, on the way down toward the finishing straight, a car pulled out from one of the side roads.
The marshall tried to direct them behind the car but Neil thought she was telling him to turn left so he started to run down the road, not realising he was meant to be carrying straight on.
That put Alex in the clear to take 8th place and seal the trophy for 1st M40, registering a time of 37:06. That meant Neil had to settle for 9th place and no prize, crossing the line in 37:12. He did take maximum Poole Runners club championship points on the day though so all was not lost for Neil. Plus it was a brilliant PB for him as well.
Who would have come out on top if Neil hadn’t gone the wrong way, it’s difficult to say, but Alex does have a pretty mean injection of pace on him and a competitive edge that makes him very hard to beat in situations like that, so you wouldn’t bet against him.
Adam Corbin took 10th place for Westbourne RC in a 37:20, with Bruce Campbell the second man to come in for Egdon Heath, taking 11th place and 1st M50 in a time of 37:41.
Lytchett had their third man in when Edward Crawley crossed the line in 12th place, registering a time of 37:54.
After getting to the top of the hill ahead of the pack he was running with, as the route flattened out, Richard was determined not to let them overtake him again.
Vince Fowler was finishing strongly though and did manage to find his way past Richard to take 13th place in a time of 38:09. On the downhill stretch toward the home straight, Joe Godden had one final go at overtaking Richard but he was having none of it and managed to dig in and retain his position.
Crossing the line in 38:17, Richard came in to take 14th place and was the third BAC member home. It was a decent run from him and was a 33 second improvement on his time from the previous year.
Damian Hayward was the first runner in from Royal Manor of Portland, winning the sprint finish for 15th place ahead of Joe Godden who had to settle for 16th. Their times were 38:22 and 38:23 respectively.
Charlie Lawson was the third runner in for Egdon Heath, coming in in 19th place, before Jamie Barrington in 21st and Ian Middlebrook in 23rd completed their team of five scorers to give them the victory in the Dorset Road Race League First Division.
Poole Runners had Paul Currah in at 22nd, Steve Claxton in at 26th and Ian Luke in in 31st position which was enough to give them 2nd place in the DRRL.
Littledown Harriers also had five team members in before the fourth Bournemouth AC man had crossed the line but because they didn’t have anyone finishing higher than 13th place, BAC got 3rd place for the fixture, which was about as good as they could have hoped for under the circumstances.
Matt du Cros had a fairly decent run though, crossing the line in 41:22 which put him in 42nd place overall. Considering he hasn’t really done in any speed work at all over recent weeks, that was probably the best he could have expected really. Once he gets back into his regular training routine, he should start to see his times improve significantly.
Getting to the line in 55th place, Juk Kirk was the fifth man home for BAC, recording a time of 43:14. He’d finished just ahead of a rival in the M60 category in Andrew Stratton of Edgon Heath Harriers, who followed in just after in a time of 43:23.
Unfortunately though, the first prize in that age category had already gone to Stephen Hogarth of Poole AC who had crossed the line in 47th place in a time of 41:56.
The first BAC woman over the line was Julia Austin who was having a good battle for supremacy with Louise Austin of Littledown Harriers.
In the end it was Louise who came out on top, completing the course in 47:02 to take 1st F40 and 86th place, whilst Julia came in in 47:08 to take 1st F55 and 88th overall. That made Julia 9th placed lady in the race.
Not far behind Julia, finishing in 95th place and 11th female, it was Tamzin Petersen, who clocked a time of 47:33. Tamzin has been closing the gap on Julia over recent times and even finished ahead of her in the May 5 race earlier in the year.
Tamzin had Julia in her sights for the vast majority of the race. It was on the downhill sections though that she seemed to struggle, since they were into a headwind. Because she’s so small and lightweight, any kind of headwind will make it tough for her and she gets blown back so easily.
It was on those sections that Julia managed to open up a bigger gap over a Tamzin. At one stage she was over a minute ahead. However, with the wind behind her on the way up, Tamzin made up a fair bit of ground on Julia whilst on the ascent.
In the end the gap between the two of them was only 25 seconds so that was a decent result from Tamzin and the strong second half of the race had left her feeling content with her efforts. What’s more, she’d beaten her time from last year by 40 seconds.
Another category prize went to a Bournemouth AC member when Helen Ambrosen crossed the line in 149th place, to take 1st in the F60 category.
After a difficult run at the Stur Half the previous weekend, Helen was pleased to bounce back with a much better performance in this one. Her finishing time was 52:49.
As Helen was the third lady in for BAC, she completed the scoring team and they finished in 4th place in the Dorset Road Race League Division One, behind Egdon Heath Harriers, Littledown Harriers and Poole Runners.
Egdon Heath Harriers had Alexandra Door who was 2nd lady in a time of 42:17, Hannah Martyn who was 5th female in 45:25 and Sophie Elford who was 7th lady in 46:35.
Vicky Ingham of Poole Runners picked up the win in the ladies competition, crossing the line in a time of 40:56, which put her in 39th position overall.
Laura Pettifer of Kenilworth Runners was 3rd lady, completing the course in 42:48 which put her in 51st place overall.
In stark contrast to his run at the Purbeck 10k, Dave Parsons had an excellent run at Round the Rock, completing the course in 56:58, which put him in 7th place in the M65 category and 203rd overall.
On this occasion he felt strong all the way round and being two minutes quicker on a much tougher course was a very pleasing result for Dave.
Since he arrived late, Wayne Walford Jelks didn’t quite get to complete the full course but he did still manage to run 4.58 miles of it which he completed in 35:43 so at least he didn’t come all that way for nothing at least. A total of 262 runners successfully completed the course.
That 4th place kept Bournemouth AC in 4th position in the Dorset Road Race League Ladies First Division for the season so far. There was a change at the top of the table though and the win for Egdon Heath Harriers had seen them leap frog Poole Runners into 1st place, moving one point ahead. With three fixtures to go, that sets things up nicely for an enthralling title race as those matches play out.
In the Men’s First Division, that win brought Egdon Heath Harriers to within one point of Bournemouth AC, who sit top with four wins and two second places. Egdon now have three wins and three second places so it is extremely tight between the two. How they perform over the three remaining fixtures will determine who takes the title.
The next fixture is the Littledown 5 on Sunday 15th September and with that one being a very local fixture, Rich Nelson has managed to assemble a pretty strong team out that look capable of claiming a vital win. On their current form though, Egdon certainly can’t be counted out and it’s sure to be an intriguing clash of the titans.