Harry Dolman in the Gold Hill 10k

Harry Dolman was one of the five Bournemouth AC members bold enough to battle the iconic slopes of the Gold Hill 10k

“Never again” has often been the words uttered by weary Bournemouth AC members who have dared to tackle the sumptuous slopes of the Gold Hill 10k. Of course, this is often the immediate, overriding emotion after race with a very tough course. Over time though, the memory of the pain and suffering fades but the sense of achievement lives on. The buzz of having done it stays with us and before we know it, we find ourselves back on the start line the following year.

The Gold Hill 10k certainly falls into the ‘unforgettable’ category for those who have taken it on. That’s what it’s all about though. It’s supposed to be challenging. It would be a boring world if every 10k was just on a flat, straight road. That famous hill from the Hovis advert of the 70’s isn’t just famous because it was on TV. It’s also famous because it’s insanely hard to run up. And that’s exactly why it was used in the advert. Because of how steep it is and how that is abundantly apparent from a camera shot.

The Bournemouth AC squad was bolstered by the inclusion of a man who has been one of the club’s real top talents over the years. That being a certain Mr Josh King. Josh has been a sub two minute 800m runner in the past and even once ran a 1500m in under four minutes. The raw ability he has is simply outrageous.

Up until recently though, he hadn’t done any competitive racing for over four years. He tended to suffer from injury problems when trying to adopt a high volume of training and in the end he decided to just stop and to concentrate on his physiotherapy work and studying. Then, all of a sudden, he popped up at the Bournemouth AC Mile of Miles Relay and ran a 4:44, which was faster than all the other senior men there.

That proved beyond any doubt that he’s still got it. After that he went on to run a 4:07 1500m before competing in the Southern Road Relays where he recorded an outstanding time of 19:35 for the mildly undulating 6km route. Handling the inclines on that route was one thing but tackling the ascents of the Gold Hill 10k was quite another, as he was about to find out.

Making her eagerly anticipated return to race action at the Round the Lakes 10k, Debbie Lennon was back for more at the Gold Hill 10k. She came back just in time to preserve her chances of an age category win for the season in the Dorset Road Race League. For that, the minimum requirement is seven races and she’d only done three before Round the Lakes. That meant she’d have to do all four remaining races, including the Gold Hill 10k.

Debbie had of course been experiencing some problems where she would lose consciousness whilst out running, which was a very dangerous situation to be in. As a result, she had some nasty falls, even fracturing her elbow at one stage. If she now manages to salvage something out of the season by getting the category win in the DRRL, that will be quite some achievement when, at one stage, it looked like her time as a runner might have come to an end.

Harry Dolman heads up Gold Hill

It was the same Gold Hill climb that was made famous by the 1970’s Hovis advert

One man who the club have been able to rely on to turn out for the Dorset Road Race League fixtures is Paul Bolton. He’d done four of the last five fixtures, including the Portland 10, so he’d had some experience in handling a tough hill or two.

After recording a 41:07 at the Round the Lakes 10k, Ricky Brennan was back in action at the Gold Hill 10k. This was of course, a much tougher course than he faced at Round the Lakes so it was going to be interesting to see how he coped on the sharp inclines.

The weekend after successfully completing his first ever half marathon race in a respectable time of 1:28:41, Harry Dolman was back in the mix for a stab at the hellacious, hilly 10k.

Unfortunately though, with only four men and one women, the club did not have the required numbers for either a men’s or a ladies team. If it wasn’t sealed already, that just confirmed their fate, with the club set to be demoted to the second division in both the men’s and ladies leagues.

Josh King finishing the Gold Hill 10k

Josh King was the fourth man to reach the finish line

Despite the lumpy nature of the course, Josh King got round in a highly impressive time of 37:37 which put him in 4th place. The only men that could better that time were Christopher Peck of Egdon Heath Harriers, Stuart Holloway of City of Salisbury and Lewis Clarke of Poole Runners.

It was Christopher Peck’s sixth race win of the season and he’d already sewn up the individual male victory. His time was 36:05. Stuart Holloway was the man who Stu Nicholas had been battling it out with in the Purbeck Trail Series. He followed up his win in the Black Hill Run 10k with a runner up spot at Gold Hill, recording a time of 36:27.

Taking 3rd place, Lewis Clarke got round in 37:06 but for the league, it was 2nd place as running for City of Salisbury, Stuart Holloway did not count for that. Lewis now only needed one more race on board to seal 2nd place in the men’s individual for the season. He’d had two wins and four 2nd place finishes.

Harry Dolman heads up the steep slope

Harry works his way up the steep slope

Former Bournemouth AC man Jez Brag finished 5th in 38:27 and Christopher Wright of Dorset Doddlers secured 6th in 39:21. Barry Miller of Poole AC claimed 7th place in 39:32 and Westbourne man Pete Doughty was the only other man to make it round in under 40 minutes. He clocked a time of 39:52.

Harry Dolman finishing the Gold Hill 10k

Harry approaches the end of a hard fought race

The elevation for the Gold Hill 10k comes to over 900ft so Harry Dolman did really well to get complete the course in 41:27. That put him in 18th place and he was the 3rd under 20 male to cross the line, behind Corey Stone of Egdon Heath Harriers who was 9th in 40:10 and his teammate Joseph Usher who is only 15. He reached the line just six seconds ahead of Harry. Harry’s average pace for the run was 6:45.

Ricky Brennan in the Gold Hill 10k

Ricky Brennan found the sharp gradients tough to contend with

Ricky Brennan battles up the steep climb

Ricky nears the top of the famous Gold Hill climb

Registering a time of 45:32, Ricky Brennan was the third man in for Bournemouth AC. He finished in 44th place.

Debbie Lennon heading up the hill

Still working her way back to fitness, it was a difficult race for Debbie Lennon to tackle

Since she didn’t have a lot of running behind her, Debbie Lennon found it extremely tough going. It was the kind of course where, if you weren’t at your peak level of fitness, you get found out. She battled well though to make it to the line in 52:34 which put her in 96th place overall.

Out of the scoring women, she was 19th and was 2nd fastest in the 60-64 category. Having now switched allegiances back to Littledown Harriers, Heather Khoshnevis was 1st in the that category and was 10th female in a time of 49:09.

That was Heather’s sixth race of the season, so all she needed was one more to complete her scorecard for the season. Debbie still needed to do both of the final two fixtures to get her seven races in but if she did, it was going to be very tight between the two of them for top spot in the category.

Although she came in as 1st female, Vicki Ingham was another one who put herself in the “never again” category. She finished just behind Harry in 20th place recording a time of 41:37. That was Vicki’s sixth race win of the season. One more race out of the remaining two would surely see her crowned ladies champion.

Egdon Heath Harriers woman Georgina Povall finished runner up for the fourth time this season, taking 41st place overall in 45:06. Hannah Martyn, also of Egdon finished 3rd female in 45:46 which put her 45th overall, just one place behind Ricky.

Virginie Morris of Dorchester RIOT was 4th female, registering a time of 46:22 which put her in 48th place overall. With a 5th placed female finish, Julie Wargent sealed the race win for the Egdon ladies. She clocked a time of 47:10 which put her in 55th place overall and she was first over 50 woman to reach the line.

Having now signed up for Poole Runners, Gemma Bragg came in as 6th placed female. She got round in a time of 47:18 which put her in 58th place overall.

With Eleanor finishing 9th in 49:07 and Karen Mitchell taking 12th in 49:17, Dorchester RIOT picked up 2nd place in the women’s First Division behind Egdon. Poole Runners only needed one more woman in to complete their scoring team of three and Lisa Pitcaithley game them that, going over the line two seconds after Debbie in 96th place.

Paul Bolton in the Gold Hill 10k

Paul Bolton wasn’t afraid to take on the toughest Dorset road races out there

Completing the course in 58:54, Paul Bolton recorded a final position of 133rd and that was enough to put him 8th in the 50-54 category.

Steven Noble and Matthew Underhill got over the hills well to complete the scoring team of five for the Egdon Heath Harriers men, with Christopher Peck, Corey Stone and Joseph Usher. That was enough to give them minimum points for the league win at Gold Hill. If they weren’t already, that confirmed Egdon Heath Harriers as men’s champions as it was their seventh win of the season, making it impossible for anyone else in match them.

In truth, they didn’t really have a lot of competition this season, the Bournemouth AC falling away and Twemlow Track Club not quite managing to live up to the hype in their first appearance in the top division. In fact, Poole AC had surprisingly emerged as their closest challengers. They could only manage 5th at Gold Hill though, with Poole Runners taking 2nd, Twemlow getting 3rd and Littledown Harriers claiming 4th.

It was a fifth win of the season for Westbourne in the men’s Second Division, putting them in a very strong position to top the table. Wimborne AC were the only team that could realistically topple them and they could only manage 3rd at Gold Hill, with Dorset Doddlers taking 2nd. The top three teams take their place in the new look Second Division though so Dorchester RIOT, Purbeck Runners and Royal Manor of Portland were all in the hunt for that final spot.

In the ladies Second Division, Dorset Doddlers accrued their third win of the season, with Wimborne AC taking 2nd and Gillingham Trotters surprisingly taking 3rd. With a 4th place finish, Royal Manor of Portland were in pole position for that all important 3rd spot that would see them as one of the five teams making up the newly formed Second Division.

That left just the Weymouth 10 and the Boscombe 10k to go to wrap up the season. Since their fate was already sealed, the Weymouth 10 wasn’t likely to garner too much interest from the Bournemouth AC camp. But for Debbie Lennon, it was crucial. She needed to be there and ideally she needed to put in a good performance to keep fighting for that age group top spot.

Since the race HQ is at Kings Park, the Boscombe 10k brings a home fixture feel for the Bournemouth AC squad, although it’s actually organised by Bournemouth Joggers. It should be an opportunity for the club to get some numbers out though the end the season on a high before they start life in Division Two for the 2024 season.