Big Ben leading at the of the Lytchett 10

Bournemouth AC runners monopolising the front the field at the start of the Lytchett 10

Providing a great opportunity for a very tough, long training run by adding some miles on at start and the end, or even running the course twice, the Lytchett 10 race tends to prove popular in the thick of the marathon training season. That often results in a star studded line up descending on the lumpy country roads around Lytchett Minster and Lytchett Matravers.

This year was no exception to that, with Rob McTaggart sandwiching the 10 mile race in between six miles before and six miles after to give him a tough 22 mile training run to round off a 99 mile week.

Rob McTaggart taking 3rd place

Rob McTaggart was treating it as a marathon training run

Jacek Cieluszecki usually runs from his home in Poole to the start venue at Lytchett Minster Sports Centre and then back again afterwards which gives him five miles before and five miles after making it a decent 20 mile run.

Jacek Cieluszecki taking 2nd place

Few men can get the better of Jacek Cieluszecki in a hilly race

Some of the Twemlow Track Club guys were also using it as a longer training run by adding miles before and after, as was Brian Underwood of Poole AC.

Making a welcome return to the yellow and blue vest, Harry Smith was also on the start line but since he was no longer a first claim member, he didn’t count as far as league points went. The club were still thrilled to have him on board though.

Harry Smith comes in for the win

Harry Smith was back in a Bournemouth AC vest

Another famous face to be pulling the yellow and blue vest on once again was Craig Palmer. He recorded a time of 55:23 at the Great South Run in October so still had the pedigree to deliver a fast time when he wants to.

Craig Palmer comes into the finish

Craig Palmer had been working hard to get back in shape

One of the most intriguing starters for Bournemouth AC though was big Ben Collins who had been absolutely tearing it up in training over recent months. He’d definitely progressed since his 57:30 time at the Great South Run and was raring to go at Lytchett despite the course being much tougher with all the hills.

Ben Collins gets to the finish

Ben Collins was going for a quick time in his first Lytchett 10 race

After a decent run in the Stubbington 10k, Tom Ralph was back in action as well so it would be interesting to see how he fared on the sumptuous slopes.

Tom Ralph arrives at the finish

Tom Ralph was also competing in his first ever Lytchett 10 race

The ladies team mostly comprised of super-vets, with Debbie Lennon, Heather Khoshnevis and Lea Lohk being joined by Louise Price. There were also some super-vets in the male form, namely Jud Kirk, Bill Lennon and Ian Graham all getting involved.

Debbie Lennon approaches the finish

Debbie Lennon was spearheading the attack for the BAC women

Heather Khoshnevis arrives at the finish

Heather Khoshnevis was also in the mix for the ladies team

As usual, Egdon Heath Harriers brought a strong squad to the party, with Christopher Peck, Charlie Williams, Adam Davies and Martyn Bell all in the line up. They started their title defence by finishing 3rd at the Broadstone Quarter so were hoping to get their first win on the board at Lytchett. With such a fiercely competitive Men’s First Division now though, it wasn’t going to be easy.

Lea Lohk finishing the Lytchett 10

Lea Lohk was back in action after doing the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon the weekend before

Louise Price getting to the finish

After completing seven races in last year’s league season, Louise Price was well on her way again

Out of the women in the race, Vicki Ingham was the favourite and she was joined by her Poole Runners teammate Lauren Baker-Little. Defending women’s champions Egdon Heath Harriers also had a strong female contingent though with Georgina Povall, Alex Door and Natalie Lawrence in their arsenal.

Jud Kirk reaches the finish

Jud Kirk is a regular attender to the Dorset League races

Bill Lennon finishing the race

It was the furthest distance Bill Lennon had attempted for as long as he could remember

The course for the Lytchett 10 contains quite a lot of vertical for the first 7 or so miles. Then it’s a very fast run into the finish for the last three miles, making a thrilling but extremely challenging race and quite tricky to get the pacing right, although for those who are experienced at it, they kind of know what to expect. Whether that’s a good thing or not at Lytchett though is up for debate.

Ian Graham comes into the finish

Ian Graham was looking to lay the ghosts of a bad cross country run to rest

For those doing additional miles, a fair bit of running had already taken place by the time the official race began, but when it did, it was the Bournemouth AC men who led from the front. Surprisingly it was big Ben Collins who first went on the attack, showing no fear, despite the star studded line up behind him.

Start of the Lytchett 10

Big Ben Collins led the way to begin with with a healthy BAC contingent to back him up

Three previous winners were behind him in the shape of Jacek Cieluszecki, Craig Palmer and Rob McTaggart. They were joined by perhaps the strongest of all the runners in Harry Smith. Harry had been on fire in the recent Hampshire Road League races, finishing 3rd in the Hayling 10 and the Victory 5 and 2nd in the Stubbington 10k and Ryde 10. He’d also won the Romsey 5 as well.

Tag and Harry in the Lytchett 10

Tag and Harry were among the leading contenders

The day before the Lytchett 10, Harry had competed in the Hamphire League Cross Country race at Popham Airfields and had incredibly finished in 6th place which was a phenomenal result in such a high standard field. The question was, would he have anything left for the Lytchett 10? And the answer… a resounding yes!

Jud Kirk and Debbie Lennon in the Lytchett 10

Jud and Debbie get their engines running

Heather Khoshnevis in the Lytchett 10

Heather can always be relied upon to turn out for a Dorset League race

Bill Lennon in the Lytchett 10

Bill gets his race underway

Ian Graham in the Lytchett 10

Ian made sure he had more adequate fueling this time round

In the early stages a lead group formed, featuring Harry and Jacek who were driving it. Steven Yates was there as well, along with Christopher Peck and Charlie Williams. Tag was also still in the mix, along with Chris Wood who was just about hanging on to the back of the group. Ben was doing his best to stay in touch with them and he was just ahead of Brian Underwood and Lee Dempster. Craig Palmer wasn’t far behind either.

Leading group in the Lytchett 10

A lead group soon formed including Harry, Jacek and Tag

Front group in the Lytchett 10

Harry & JC were driving the pace in the early going

It was when they hit the hill on the second mile that that JC and Harry started pulling away from the group. The pair would then proceed to run together for the vast majority of the race. Harry was stronger on the flat sections and JC was pulling it back on the hills. It was a real clash of the titans.

Harry & JC in the lead group

After two miles it was Harry and JC who would break away from the group

Ben Collins in the Lytchett 10

Ben was doing his best to stay in touch with the lead group

Craig Palmer in the Lytchett 10

Craig Palmer was looking to hit 6 minute mile pace

Tom Ralph - Lytchett 10

Tom was in for an uphill task

Jud Kirk in the Lytchett 10

Having done the race many times before, Jud knew what he was in for

Debbie Lennon in the Lytchett 10

Debbie battles it out with an Egdon Heath Harriers rival

Heather Khoshnevis in the Lytchett 10

Heather was usually favourite for a V60 prize

Bill Lennon in the Lytchett 10

It was going to be tough route for Bill but great exercise

There was always the sense that Harry had it under control though and in the end that proved to be case and he came out on top. Completely the course in a mightily impressive time of 54:13, it was a truly tremendous run from Harry.

Despite not being able to score for the team in the league, he had certainly done them proud in the race itself. His slowest mile was a 5:52 on the very hilly 7th mile and his quickest was his 4:54 last mile. It really was a masterclass from Harry. And in all fairness, it had to be to beat JC.

Harry Smith winning the Lytchett 10

Harry cruises in for an excellent victory

Reaching the line 25 seconds after Harry, JC claimed a superb 2nd place, clocking a time of 54:38. That put his average pace for the run at 5:28 and his slowest mile was in fact a 5:50 on that 7th mile. It was a top class performance from JC but not quite as quick as his winning time of 2017, which was 54:05. Having said that though, that wasn’t quite as fast as his 2013 time which was 53:54!!

Jacek Cieluszecki finishes as runner up

JC hasn’t been training at his usual level so wasn’t expecting to run it so well

Even though he’d done 45 minutes running before the race, Rob McTaggart still had a fantastic run to take 3rd place in a time of 55:51. It was a day of good solid graft from Tag and was bound to give him some more gains as he works towards getting himself in peak condition for the London Marathon in April.

Rob McTaggart reaches the finish

It was another excellent session for Tag as the grafting continued

Going on for another 35 minutes after he’d finished, Tag completed his 22 mile run at an average pace of 6:06, demonstrating what tremendous shape he’s in. That brought to an end a 99 mile week for him which will serve him very well as he continues with his hardcore programme.

Rob McTaggart gets to the line

A decent 3rd place brought a 99 mile week to its conclusion

It was Christopher Peck who was the best of the rest and he came over the line 31 seconds after Tag to claim 4th place in 56:22. After having already done one loop before the race started, Twemlow Track Club pair Steven Yates and Chris Wood finished 5th and 6th recording times of 56:27 and 56:39 repsectively.

Charlie Williams was Egdon Heath Harriers second scorer, taking 7th place in 57:19, meaning there had now been three Bournemouth AC finishers, although only two were scorers, two from Twemlow and two of Egdon thus far. It was to be an intriguing league battle between the top clubs.

Poole AC caused a massive upset by winning the first fixture of the season but they would have a difficult task to replicate that at Lytchett. Brian Underwood gave them hope though when he crossed the line to take 8th place in 57:58.

Ben Collins had been having a magnificent run but he didn’t quite have the leg turnover to maintain his position over the last few miles and as a result, he lost four places. One of the men who caught him was Craig Palmer who had put in a strong display to take 9th place in a time of 58:44.

Craig Palmer strolls across the line

Craig Palmer came in to take 9th place

His strategy was to get to the top of the hill on the 7th mile averaging 6 minutes per mile and then kick on a finish in a flurry from there. He executed it very well, coming away with an average pace of 5:52.

That was enough to give the Bournemouth AC men first prize in the men’s team competition for the race itself but of course, for the league, it was the first five scorers and Harry wasn’t going to be counted, so for that, it was still game on.

Adam Davies of Egdon Heath Harriers and Luke Terry of Poole AC also managed to get past Ben on the descent and they ended up in a closely fought sprint finish at the end with Adam Davies just getting it to take 10th place, with Luke taking 11th.

Then it was Ben, taking 12th place in 58:55, putting his average pace at around 5:55. It was an excellent performance from Ben and there’s certainly more to come from where that came from.

Ben Collins powers to the line

Big Ben lost a few places on the last downhill stretch but had a great run

Richard Swindlehurst gave Twemlow Track Club their third runner on the board, crossing the line in 59:12. That was enough to net him the 1st MV50 prize. He was followed by Egdon Heath Harriers’ fourth scorer who was Martyn Bell. He clocked a time of 59:28.

Benjy Williams of Poole AC was 15th in a time of 59:43 which meant they had had three scorers in. Then Haydan Clarke gave Poole Runners their first scorer on the board, taking 16th place in 59:47.

Sealing a fabulous new women’s course record, Vicki Ingham completed the race in 1:00:01 to take 18th place overall. It was a phenomenal run from Vicki and she was over four minutes ahead of her nearest rivals who were the Egdon Heath Harriers pair of Natalie Lawrence and Georgina Povall. They recorded times of 1:04:10 and 1:04:20 respectively to finish 41st and 43rd overall on chip time.

Vicki Ingham comes in as first female

Vicki Ingham recorded a fantastic new course record coming in almost right on the hour

Egdon Heath Harriers were the first club to get five scorers over the line when Matthew Underhill arrived to take 19th place in 1:00:17. That proved good enough to seal the win for them, with Steven Rigby coming in as fourth scorer for Twemlow in 1:00:27.

Joe Godden was Poole Runners second scorer, crossing the line in 1:00:32 before Steve Cook arrived to seal 2nd place in the fixture for Twemlow Track Club. His teammate Lee Dempster was next to finish in 1:01:06.

As ever, Julian Critchlow of Purbeck Runners was the top man in the MV60 category, getting round in 1:02:48. Lauren Baker-Little was 4th female, clocking a time of 1:05:56 which out her in 53rd place overall.

Alex Door sealed the win for the Egdon Heath Harriers ladies though, completing the course in 1:08:03 which put her in 94th place overall. That meant they had levelled it up for the season so far after Poole Runners won at the Broadstone Quarter.

Completing the scoring team for Bournemouth AC was Tom Ralph who came in 81st overall in a time of 1:09:52. That meant Bournemouth AC ended up having to settle for 3rd place even though they had the top two scorers in their ranks.

Tom Ralph concludes his race

Tom was 5th scorer for the BAC men’s team

It was Tom’s first time running the Lytchett 10 and he was expecting a hill or two from what he’d heard but it was a lot of more challenging than that, with the relentless ups and downs all the way through. He kind of likes courses like that though and it certainly keeps it interesting.

Tom tends to train to Jack Daniel’s VDOT pace tables and finds the 3:05 marathon times to be a good target for him. He’s nowhere near is peak fitness right now though, coming back from a long stint out. The VDOT tables predicted a time of 1:06 for him but given the course profile and where he’s at right now, it was a decent result for Tom.

He felt it was a splendid event though with a great atmosphere amongst the runners and terrific support from the marshals out on the course. It was a race he’d definitely be keen to do again, which is handy as it tends to be on the Dorset Road Race League roster more often than not.

Leading the way from a BAC women’s perspective was Debbie Lennon. She was 14th fastest lady in the race and 5th in the FV50 category, registering a time of 1:15:21. That put her in 125th place overall. It was a very similar time to what she recorded in the Lytchett 10 last year with just 10 seconds difference between the two. In the Dorset Road Race League, she was 1st in the 60-64 category.

Debbie Lennon gets to the line

Debbie ran a very similar time to what she did last year

Next over the line in a Bournemouth AC vest was Jud Kirk who got round in 1:16:57, putting him in 137th place overall. That was good enough for 10th place in the MV60 category for the race and 4th in the 65-69 division in the Dorset Road Race League.

Jud Kirk makes it to the line

Jud was 10th in the MV60 category

Coming in as 2nd scorer for the BAC ladies and winning the FV60 category, Heather Khoshnevis crossed the line in a time of 1:20:03, which made her 33rd female and 155th overall.

Heather Khoshnevis makes it to the line

Heather claimed 1st place in the FV60 category

Running the furthest distance he’d ran in years, Bill Lennon was the next Bournemouth AC member to arrive at the finish. He managed a time of 1:26:22 which put him in 14th place in the MV60 category for the race and 193rd overall.

In terms of placings for his age group in the league, he was 7th in the 65-69 division. Although he found it tough going up the hills, Bill coped better than he imagined he would going into it.

Bill Lennon makes it to the line

Bill did well considering he hadn’t raced such a long distance for a very long time

Being such an up and down course, the Lytchett 10 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it’s exactly the kind of profile that Lea Lohk revels in. She likes the long climbs which are followed by descents that you can recover on before embarking upon the next climb.

She felt a touch heavy legged for the first five miles or so but then gradually the weight seemed to lift and she felt more energy flowing through them. For the last four miles she began to feel really strong and she really got into her stride. When she arrived at the finish line she felt like she had a real surplus of energy and could have gone on for longer.

Crossing the line in a time of 1:28:08, Lea finished 2nd in the FV60 category for the race behind Heather and she was 53rd female and placed 198th overall. Considering her watch had given up the ghost after the first five miles so she didn’t know what pace she was going at, it all panned out rather well in the end for Lea.

Lea Lokh arrives at the finish area

Lea felt strong at the end and wanted to continue running

That completed the scoring team for the Bournemouth AC women. Unfortunately it was only enough to see them placed 7th out of the top flight teams in the Dorset Road Race League, meaning they were now positioned 6th overall.

The season ahead looks like it could be a real battle for survival for the ladies with only five teams staying in the First Division. They will need to up their game if they are to avoid dropping down to the new look Second Division when the new format is established.

The next BAC member in was Louise Price who clocked a time of exactly 1 hour 31 minutes. That put her in 15th place in the FV50 category for the race and 60th female out of 142.

Her position in the overall standings was 213th and she was 5th in the 55-59 category for the league. Lou was using the race to build up to the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon which she has scheduled in for April.

Louise Price reaches the finish

Louise was 5th fastest in the 55-59 category for the league

The only other Bournemouth AC member besides Harry who was brave enough to do the double of the cross country and the Lytchett 10 the next day was Ian Graham. Unfortunately he had a bad run at the cross country and had very little energy on the day, meaning he had to walk from time to time. Since he was fifth scorer for the team though, he knew he couldn’t bail out and had to keep trucking on.

It may just have been a fuelling issue though as he ran a lot better at the Lytchett 10. Although it was his longest race for quite some time, probably three years in fact, he handled it well, completing the course in 1:36:47. That put him 4th in the MV70+ category for the race itself and 245th overall out of 324.

Ian Graham completes the race

After his difficulties the previous day, normal service was resumed for Ian Graham and he got round smoothly

It was great for Ian that he was able to bounce back so quickly after his woes of the previous day and that will certainly help him put that performance behind him and move on from it. His time at Lytchett was enough to put him in 2nd place in the 75-79 category for the league which was a very good outcome, all things considered.

It was wonderful to see the Bournemouth AC men dominating proceedings in a big race though and it was almost like a throwback to days gone by when it was a regular occurrence to see the club taking the top three or four placings in a Dorset Road Race League.

Some of the BAC Team at the Lytchett 10

Some of the Bournemouth AC team that tackled the sumptuous slopes of the Lytchett 10

After their dismal start to the season at the Broadstone Quarter, the Bournemouth men’s 3rd place at Lytchett lifted them up to 4th in the table. Egdon Heath Harriers had taken top position, with Poole AC dropping down to 2nd and Twemlow Track Club in 3rd after finishing 2nd in both races.

The next Dorset Road Race League fixture of the season will be the Marnhull 12k which takes place on April 16th and the Bournemouth AC men will be looking for build on their much improved display at the Lytchett 10. The ladies also know a good performance will be crucial to get their season off the ground and start to climb the table.