Men's team winners at North Dorset Village Marathon

Steve Way and Ant Clark clean up as BAC team win at North Dorset Village Marathon

Men's team winners at North Dorset Village Marathon
A strong looking Bournemouth AC team was spearheaded by Steve Way, Ant Clark and Stu Nicholas at the North Dorset Village Marathon

After the sheer carnage that was evident at the London Marathon two weeks prior, all of those who entered the North Dorset Village Marathon would have been hoping for cooler conditions. No such luck though! It was set for another scorching day after the nation encountered its hottest ever May bank holiday.

The only saving grace was that with an earlyish start at 8:30am, the temperature wouldn’t have reached its hottest point, at least by the time the race started.

With the North Dorset Village Marathon being a Dorset Road Race League fixture, it was vital that Bournemouth AC managed to get a team of at least 5 men out and preferably 3 ladies as well. This proved a difficult task for captain Rich Nelson as many were suffering from the traditional London Marathon hangover and weren’t wanting to put themselves out there again, especially in that searing heat.

Some runners from some of the other leading clubs in the DRRL may have viewed the North Dorset Village Marathon as a chance for redemption after perhaps not achieving the times they wanted at London due to the weather.

Both Poole AC and Littledown seemed to have managed to pull together a strong team of at least 5 men, so the pressure was really on for BAC. Luckily, after a few rallying cries to the troops, Rich managed to pull a team together in the end, with Steve Way, Ant Clark, Stu Nicholas, Rich Brawn and Andy Gillespie all stepping up to the plate.

With each of them being a guaranteed scorer, the pressure was on them to not only complete the race but to perform well as well and finish as high up as they possibly could. With Steve and Ant spearheading the attack and with Stu in the ranks as well, it was certainly a team that could mix it with the best of them.

As for Rich Brawn and Andy Gillespie, they were at opposite ends of the spectrum, with Rich a complete novice, taking on his first ever marathon, and Andy being effectively the grand master, taking on the 85th marathon of his illustrious career.

The Bournemouth AC team at the North Dorset Village Marathon
Stu Nicholas, Ant Clark, Rich Brawn and Andy Gillespie were amongst those ready for battle at the North Dorset Village Marathon

The race HQ was Sturminster Newton High School, where all the participants gathered to collect their numbers and get ready. There was also the opportunity to leave drinks bottles that would then be transported to various checkpoints on route so it would be there waiting for you when you arrive.

Once the runners had got themselves prepped all that was left was for race organiser Innes Braun to deliver the final instructions before they set off on their way. As well the marathon on that day, there was also a relay race, which could be done in teams of 4.

Before the race, Ant and Rich joked that instead of doing the marathon, the BAC guys could enter the relay instead and do it was a team of 4. But of course, with Dorset Road Race League points on the line, that was never going to be an option.

On the start line, a photo was taken of the runners who had done all 9 North Dorset Village Marathons since the race was first conceived. Then the raced kicked off and everyone was on their way.

The beginning was on an uphill slant before they turned the corner and headed down the country lane, with many miles ahead of them to complete. As they went down the road, some fireworks went off from the fields on either side. It was a quite spectacular start and made the realisation set in for Rich that he was in a marathon now. A proper marathon!

Prior to the race, Steve Way had signalled his intention to have a crack at the course record of 2:36:37 which was set by Ian Hapgood, also of BAC in 2011. Steve was planning to go for a time of around the 2:30 mark anyway and with the form he’s been in lately and the stage of his training that he’s coming into, it was certainly feasible.

Iain Trickett of the Dorset Doddlers had planned to set off with Steve in the early stages of the race. Iain is a fantastic runner in his own right but due to the lack of training he’s had recently it was always going to be big ask.

Steve and Iain did run together for the first 4 miles of the race but Steve soon began to drift away. For Steve, it was then just a case of getting his head down and concentrating and banging out those miles at the target pace he had set, which was basically around 5:45 per mile.

The race seemed to go pretty smoothly for Steve and fortunately, there were no signs of the glute issues he’d had at the London Marathon two weeks prior. Steve’s race at London didn’t end up going according to plan and after 16 miles, he abandoned any thought of finishing within his target time and decided to just have some fun and entertain the crowds with a bit of showboating.

At the North Dorset Village Marathon there was no showboating to be done. This time Steve meant business and he was going after that course record. Plus, to be fair, there wasn’t much of a crowd to play up to throughout most of the route!

Although he was going so fast and had a lead of over 4 minutes, Steve was actually running comfortably up until the last couple of miles when it really started to warm up and his legs reminded him it was the end of a 126-mile week!

And what a great way to end the week it was as Steve set a new course record, crossing the line in 2 hours 30 minutes and 48 seconds. Iain Trickett came in in 2nd place, just over 4 minutes behind Steve in a time of 2:34:58.

Steve will now move swiftly onto the next phase of his training, where he’s targeting 400 miles over the next 3 weeks. Once that’s done, he’ll be tapering for Comrades on 10th June.

Steve Way in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Steve on his Way toward a smashing new course record

Taking 3rd place in the standings was of course, none other than Bournemouth AC’s very own Ant Clark, who finished in a time of 2:46:25. This was a decent run from Ant, who was still just about getting over his amazing 7 hour, 100k effort at the Anglo Celtic Plate over the Easter break.

Ant didn’t enjoy the London Marathon this year as much as he has in previous years as he didn’t feel he could really push too hard with it being only a week after his 100k race. That said, he still managed an impressive 2:41:58 finish.

He felt much fresher though at the North Dorset Village Marathon and his time was only a minute off what he did in last year’s race, when he also took 3rd place.

Ant Clark in North Dorset Village Marathon
It’s been a busy schedule for Ant Clark recently after his 100k at the Anglo Celtic Plate, then the London Marathon and now the North Dorset Village Marathon

Having had an unprecedented 5 weeks since (yes, 5 weeks!!) since he did his last marathon, Stu Nicholas must have been getting withdrawal symptoms by the time the North Dorset Village Marathon came around! Stu is currently on a quest get his marathons completed total up to 60 by the end of the year.

He had, however, completed one marathon in training the weekend before the NDVM in memory of Matt Campbell, the former MasterChef contestant who tragically passed away during the London Marathon.

Other than that, though, he hadn’t done too much long-distance training over the past month or so so wasn’t expecting to be in tip-top condition for the NDMV. He battled with the insufferable heat tremendously well though to put in a very good sub 3 effort, crossing the line in 2:58:40 and taking 9th place overall.

Stu Nicholas in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Stu Nicholas pushes hard as he seeks another scintillating sub 3 hour time

And from one very seasoned marathon veteran to a complete beginner, it was Rich first ever stab at the 26.2-mile distance. After a running well in a 20-mile race at the New Forest Running Festival, completing the (slightly longer than billed) course in just over 2 hours 30 minutes, despite the tough terrain and extremely adverse conditions, Rich figured with a few more long training runs he’d be ready to step up to marathon distance.

With only 5 weeks until the North Dorset Village Marathon though, he’d have to get the runs in quickly, so he scheduled a block of 21-mile, 23 mile and 25 mile runs in three consecutive weeks, all at a similar pace to his intended marathon target pace.

Each run he did was mixed terrain, with a large section of off-road in the middle, usually consisting of around 10 miles. He managed to get through the three runs okay and was pleased with the pace he was able to maintain, although they did begin to get tough once he’d gone over the 20-mile point.

After the 25-mile training run was completed, he submitted his entry for the NDVM, giving him a couple of weeks tapering before the big day. When the race came around, he was a bit apprehensive about the hot conditions, but he was excited to see what he’d be capable of in a full marathon.

Rich Brawn in the North Dorset Village Marathon
Rich Brawn was taking on his first ever marathon and was hoping for a finish of around 3 hours 20 minutes

Over the first 5 miles he got chatting to one of the other runners and wasn’t really paying any attention to his pace, resulting in him going to little too quickly for the first 5 miles. He then settled down a bit to around 7:20 to 7:30 minutes per mile.

Before the race he’d actually put an electrolyte tablet in his water and was drinking that. Unfortunately, it seemed to give him an upset stomach and that remained prominent throughout the race. Every time he took on an energy gel it seemed to upset his stomach more.

After taking in water as well on the first couple of water stations, he needed the toilet quite badly as well and he kind of realised that at some point in the race he’d need to make a toilet stop. He did that at around the 12-mile point and felt a little better afterwards.

On the 17th mile he decided to drop the pace a bit and stop and drink some cups of water at the water station and eat some jelly babies. The sun was getting hotter and he was starting to feel his energy levels were dropping.

On the 18th and 19th mile his pace began to drop to below 8-minute miling and he knew he was in for a tough slog to the finish. Once he got to the 20-mile mark, he thought he probably be down to 9-minute miling for the last 6 miles.

After the 20-mile point, he suddenly started getting these pangs in his legs. He could tell that cramp was beginning to set in and he was in big trouble. It had been his biggest fear going into the race and he was about he experience it for real.

As the pangs began to get more frequent, he kept stopping to walk for a bit every time it happened. Then towards the end of mile 23, he was hit by the full-on cramp, forcing him to stop and scream out in agony.

Luckily there was a medical van nearby and the medical guy came up to him and told him he had a magical cure for cramp. Rich stopped, will to try anything at this point. He was given some anti-freeze spray to put on the backs of his legs and a cup of salt water to drink. He was then back on his way.

Unfortunately, though, the magical cure didn’t work and he got only half way down road before the cramp came back. This time it came on his right hamstring and the left side of his upper body, just under his arm. He had to stop again and ride out the pain.

All thoughts of a good time had gone out the window at this point and he tried his best to run the remainder of the race with as shorter strides as he could and if possible, without bending his legs too much. He ended up running like the Tin Man out of Wizard of Oz.

At the 25 mile point he saw Sarah Swift from Poole Runners who was out on the course helping and supporting. She ran along with him for a bit after that, giving him some much-needed encouragement to help get through that last mile or so.

As he reached the 26 mile point he was relieved to have made it, although he was aware that the course was slightly longer that 26.2 miles so he wasn’t counting his chickens just yet. As he approached the line he could see that the clock had just gone beyond the 3 hours 33 minutes.

Although he had been hoping for a much quicker time, Rich had to accept that this time the cramp had got the better of him and there was little he could’ve done in those last 5 or 6 miles that would have made it better. Still, it was his first marathon and there was plenty to learn from and look to improve in future attempts. His official time was 3:33:20 which put him in 48th place out of 207 who completed the race.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Andy Gillespie was making his way steadily round on his 85th marathon. Having completed all 84 of his previous attempts, he knew getting to the end was absolutely paramount, in spite of the hot weather.He had even been considered that a sub 3:45 time might get him into the London Marathon, since he’ll be 60 by the time it comes around.

But alas, the Good for Age rules have been recently changed so you have to be that age at the time that you actually do the run. With that in mind, he’ll have to wait another year for an attempt at that. Before the race started, he was thinking that if things go well, he could possibly be in for a sub 4-hour finish.

For the first two thirds of the race he was on course for that but as the race wore on, he began to tire a bit and the relentless heat started to take its toll. The last 6 miles were a pretty tough slog, even for a man of Andy’s experience.

He ended up crossing the line in a time of 4:02:54, which out him in 88th place overall. That was a still very good run from Andy under the circumstances. It put him 6th in the Male V55 category.

As he rather philosophically put it afterwards, sometimes you just have to accept that conditions go against you and it’s best just to settle for the time that you finish with.

Steve picks up his winner's medal
Steve picks up his winners medal

The race organisers did a remarkable job in getting the results together quickly afterwards and everyone gathered in the assembly hall for the prize giving. As expected, Steve and Ant cleaned up in the award ceremony, with Steve taking 1st in the overall and Ant taking 3rd overall and Steve taking 1st vet and Ant taking 2nd vet.

Ant Clark picks up his prize for 3rd place
Ant Clark collects his reward for 3rd place

Steve, Ant and Stu also took the prize for being 1st Male Team. It was the 3rd consecutive year that a BAC trio had won the Male Team competition. Ant joked afterwards that he’d accumulated enough porridge to last him a lifetime.

Steve, Ant and Stu pick up their men's team prize
Steve, Ant and Stu take the Men’s team prize for Bournemouth AC

With regard to the Dorset Road Race League, it was of course 5 to score which meant BAC had a scoring team at list, but with Rich and Andy finishing a little further down the pecking the order, they were up against it in the league team competition.

They still did pretty well though, amassing a total of 89 points, with the idea being to get the least amount of placings possible. Poole AC took the win with a total of 76 points. Poole Runners took 3rd with 99 points.

In the ladies’ team competition, BAC didn’t have any ladies in the race so they didn’t score any points. The only teams in Division 1 that did manage to get 3 ladies out were Littledown Harriers and Lytchett Manor Striders, so they took 1st and 2nd respectively.

All things considered, it would have to go down as a pretty good day for Bournemouth AC, from the men’s perspective at least, and they could each be proud of their efforts on what turned out to be a very hot and harrowing race.

The Bournemouth AC men at the North Dorset Village Marathon
The Bournemouth AC men’s team took 2nd place in the Dorset Road Race League on the day behind Poole AC