Turning out to be last season’s league title clincher for the Egdon Heath Harriers men, the Portland 10 represented another opportunity for them to stake their claim. It was only the seventh race in the Dorset League calendar though so they couldn’t quite mathematically seal top spot just yet. With four wins and two third place finishes out of the first six fixtures though, they were certainly in a strong position.
The Bournemouth AC men had been unable to challenge them this season though and were languishing at the bottom of the table and facing the dreaded drop down to the second tier. Their priorities had been placed in the Hampshire Road Race League this season, meaning they had taken their eye off the ball a bit in the Dorset races.
A fixture clash with the final race of the Hampshire Road Race League season, the Lordshill 10k, meant that availability for the Portland 10 was low. That was despite the team having already tied up the win in their HRRL division and sealed promotion to the second tier.
Many of the club’s top men still opted for Lordshill though, leaving them with a difficult task to fill the five spaces required on the team sheet to score in the Dorset League. Recent recruit Matt Brown had entered the Portland 10 though and he isn’t afraid of a hill or two. In fact, he tends to flourish on undulating types of route so this was right up his street.
England over 75 star Geoff Newton was also in the line up for Bournemouth AC, looking forward to the prospect of a rare 10 mile outing. 10 miles used to be the stable distance of road running but it’s now mostly half marathons and 10ks. Finding it difficult to do the distance in training these days, the race would give him the incentive to clock the miles. It was certainly going to be far from easy though with so many tough inclines to contend with.
Also making the trip down to the picturesque, prison haven of Portland were Tom Ralph and Paul Bolton, making it a four pronged line up for Bournemouth AC, just one shy of a team for the league. If they’d only realised they had four in the side they could have perhaps canvassed for one more man to complete the squad.
After winning the last four Dorset League races, Christopher Peck was looking to make it five in a row at the Portland 10. He would face competition from Poole Runners man Lewis Clarke though who had come second in the last two races and pushed Christopher to bring out his best.
Chistopher’s Egdon Heath Harriers teammate Charlie Williams had been having an excellent season thus far as well and he’d finished 2nd at the Marnhull 12k and the North Dorset Village Marathon, 4th at the May 5 and 3rd at the Puddletown Plod.
After failing to get the result they would have wanted at the Puddletown Plod, Poole Runners were looking to bounce back in the Ladies’ First Division. They had Vicki Ingham in their arsenal this time which would help their cause. It was just a question of whether they had another couple of women who could place highly enough to back her up.
As usual, Egdon Heath Harriers brought a strong squad with Georgina Povall, Alex Door, Hannah Martyn and Julie Wargent turning out.
The course for the Portland 10 heads down to bottom of the island first, with the first 2.7 miles being mostly downhill. Then after turning round and heading back up, it’s then uphill all the way to the top of the island which is the 6 mile point. It’s then a small loop for the remaining 4 miles, including going back up half the hill again a second time.
Going through the first two miles in 5:49 and 5:48, Matt then went through the third mile in 6 minutes. Impressively, he got through the next two miles, which were uphill in 5:55 and 5:57 before registering a 6:26 for his sixth mile.
Matt’s tactic was to work the hills and then coast down them. As he headed back down the hill, Matt registered a 5:50 and a 5:42 for his 7th and 8th mile before registering a 6:14 as he headed back up hill for a final time.
Getting though the last mile in 5:51, Matt made it to the line in a magnificent time of 59:36. That put him in 6th place overall, just six seconds adrift of Matt Underhill of Egdon Heath Harriers. He had managed to get over the hills extremely well. It was a great run from Matt with his average pace coming in at 5:56 minutes per mile. That was despite an elevation gain of between 600 and 700ft.
The amazing views of the lighthouse and out to sea in the first couple of kilometres soon became a distant memory for Tom Ralph as the seemingly endless climbs came into play when heading back up to the top of the island. His legs held out well though and he managed a strong kick in the final kilometre, which was thankfully downhill.
Recording a time of 1:12:49, he finished in 62nd place overall with an average pace of 7:14 minutes per mile. It was four minutes slower than his time at the Salisbury 10 earlier in the year but that just verified what he already knew which was that he needs to get back to incorporating regular hill repeats into his training.
Tom has vowed to return to the Portland 10 next year to improve on his time. That makes a refreshing change from the usual reaction of athletes after completing the Portland 10 – which is never again!!
Paul Bolton found it quite a daunting prospect going downhill at first but then knowing you’re going to have to go all the way back up. Despite the mutiny of hills though, Paul enjoyed the race and was pleased with his time of 1:25:21.
That put him in 132nd place overall and 31st in the M50 rankings. His average pace for the run was 8:28. The last 10 miler he’d done was the Great South Run four years and he was only 30 seconds slower at the Portland 10. Considering the Great South Run is a very fast, flat route, that must represent progression for Paul.
Expecting the initial section to Portland Bill to be all downhill, Geoff Newton was ambushed by two unexpected steep inclines. That kind of sums the Portland 10 up really. Even the downhill sections are uphill!! He was expecting the long drags after that for the remainder of the race.
Going over the line a time of 1:27:52, Geoff finished in 141st place in the overall standings and was 4th in the M70+ bracket. He was a little disappointed with that as he was hoping for at least a sub 1:25.
First M70 was always going to be beyond him though as he had Purbeck pair Hamish Murray and Chris Miller to contend with and they are both about years younger than him.
Geoff has vowed that when he starts taking twice as long as his 10 mile PB of 52:15, which he set in 1973, he will retire. That’s now creeping closer than he would like.
A total of 216 athletes participated in the Portland 10 with all but two of them successfully competing the course. The race winner was… drumroll… Christopher Peck of course!! For the fifth time in a row!! He was proving to be an unstoppable force on the Dorset road race scene.
It was close though, with Christopher crossing the line in 56:04 and Lewis Clarke arriving 13 seconds later to take the runner up spot. Again, he had been foiled by the Egdon Heath Harriers man for the third consecutive time.
In fact, it was the exact same top three as at the Puddletown Plod, with Charlie Williams taking 3rd place in 56:48. Those three were well clear of the rest of the field. Dave Hicks of Poole AC took 4th place in 59:17 and claimed the first M50 prize.
Matt Underhill was Egdon’s third runner in the top five, with his time of 59:30, making it another very impressive display from the league champions, who currently look odds on to retain their crown.
John Bassinder of Poole AC was 8th in a time of 1:00:44, making him 2nd M50. Then Joe Godden arrived in 9th place to give Poole Runners their second man in, He clocked a time of 1:01:24.
Finishing as first female, Vicki Ingham got round in a time of 1:01:51 which was enough to see her take a top ten finish overall.
Egdon Heath Harriers had their fourth man in when Daniel Hull arrived in 11th place, clocking a time of 1:02:06. Then Corey Stone of Weymouth St Paul’s arrived in 12th place to claim the first Under 21 placing.
As usual, Julian Critchlow was the first over 60 to get round, clocking a time of 1:03:25. That put him in 16th place overall. Then Adam Davies arrived to complete the scoring team for Egdon Heath Harriers and give them their fifth win of the season.
Arriving in a time of 1:05:44, Georgina Povall was 2nd placed female and came 25th overall. The next woman in was Jenny Lee Marshall of Purbeck Runners who crossed the line in 1:06:12, putting her 27th overall.
Jenny’s Purbeck runners teammate Anna Philps then reached the line in 1:08:23 which put her 39th overall. Alex Door was Egdon Heath Harriers’ second lady in, registering a time of 1:09:29 which put her 45th overall.
11 seconds later, Hannah Martyn completed the scoring team for Egdon Heath Harriers to give them a very important win. Their prospects of retaining the women’s First Division title had been given another massive boost.
Poole Runners did get 2nd place in the end, with Clare Wood finishing as 16th lady and Lisa Pitcaithley taking 18th in 1:15:06 and 1:18:03 times respectively.
Purbeck Runners did take first place in the Ladies’ Second Division, with Abigail Baker completing the scoring team in 1:25:46. She was 30th fastest female. That brought them close to Dorset Doddlers at the top of the Second Division table since they didn’t have a team out at the Portland 10.
Hamish Murray won the first over 70 prize, clocking an excellent time of 1:11:18 which put him 56th overall.
Poole Runners took 2nd place in the Men’ First Division, with Littledown Harriers in 3rd and Poole AC 4th. Bournemouth AC were 6th due to only having four runners and Twemlow Track Club were the only club in the top division not to field any runners.
That no show meant Twemlow Track Club dropped down to 4th in the table, with Poole Runners moving up to 2nd and Poole AC assuming 3rd.
Wimborne AC won the Portland 10 fixture in the Men’s Second Division, keeping the pressing on Westbourne who were 2nd and are currently top of the table.
Only the top three teams will remain in the Second Division though with the new league format coming into play next season so it will no doubt be hotly contested between the remaining teams for that all important 3rd place.
With no BAC ladies featuring at the Portland 10, the women remain rooted to the bottom of the table with time running out if they’re to save themselves from relegation to the second tier. Then men are in the same situation and looking like they might be plunging to new depths next season as well.
The next race of the Dorset Road Race League campaign is the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon on 6th August and with the Hampshire Road Race League in preseason, that could be an opportunity for the yellow and blues to get a team out and begin the fight to save their top tier status.
They should definitely get a good squad together for Round the Lakes in September, as that is a big favourite amongst the Bournemouth AC camp, being close to home at Poole Park.
Big thanks to Ken Hewitt Photography and Dorsetbays Photography for all the amazing action shots.