After a seven year absence, Poole Runners had decided that it was finally time to bring back the Boscombe Winter 5k Series, generating quite a buzz of excitement on the local running circuit, particularly amongst the Bournemouth AC fraternity.
The races used to be held on Friday nights and previously anyone was allowed to just turn up, pay their £2 and enter there and then. When parkrun was introduced though, it killed the Boscombe Winter 5k Series off, as there was now a free 5k on every Saturday morning.
The last Winter Series 5k race was won by Bournemouth AC man Josh Cole in February of 2015. Simon Munro, Paul Hill and Ben Walliman were all in the line up as well that day.
The course for the Boscombe Winter 5k Series was an out-and-back, starting just to the left of Boscombe Pier and heading down towards Southbourne for 2.5km before heading back to Boscombe Pier to finish.
The races were now scheduled to take place on Tuesday nights, with four races making up the series. One race would be held each month, starting from November.
The weather had been terrible in the days leading up the race, with persistent rain making the running conditions pretty dire. When the day of the race arrived, it was still looking pretty wet and there was a good chance that rain would come into play at some point.
Rob McTaggart remembered the race fondly from previous years and he’d had some terrific races there. In fact, he’d recorded a long standing 5k PB of 15:39 in that race back in 2006. It was a record that it took him until September last year to surpass when he ran 15:33 in the Under the Lights 5k at Battersea Park.
He was really pleased to have the race back and was of course there for the series opener, along with his partner and Bournemouth AC teammate Nikki Whittaker. Trev Elkins, Rich Brawn and Paddy McCalister were also in the line up, along with Tamzin Petersen, Simon Hunt, Ian Graham and Dave Parsons.
It was a real mix bag of youth and seniority taking part and it was great to see them all mixing together, all aligned with that common goal of completing the course as fast as they possibly could.
There were also some emerging talents amongst the Bournemouth AC ranks, with the increasingly impressive Hugo Richardson ready to give it his best shot and Emily Coltman also there from the 15-19 division.
Although the rain had sort of subsided by the time they were due to start, it was a very windy day and that meant the runners would face a massive headwind on the way back to Boscombe Pier. That flushed any hopes of a fast time down the drain really so it was all about position. It was about how high up in the standings you could place.
Quite a lot of sand had blown up to the promenade as well which added to the challenge it made it very tricky to keep momentum when running at a fast pace and you really had to watch where you step. That was quite difficult to do in the dark.
To start off with, it was Andrew Ingleton of City of Salisbury who took the race on, setting a quick early pace. Tag and Hugo both went with him. Trev and Rich were leading the chasing pack behind but the front three seemed to be getting further and further way as they headed down toward Southbourne.
Rich had been suffering from quite a bad cold over the past week or so and he almost didn’t do the race as it was particularly bad that day. But he was curious to see what it would be like and decided that he had to be there.
Trev was still suffering from the after effects of covid so he wasn’t really expecting to be in top form either, although he was hoping he’d be alright over a short distance.
Poole Runners man Dion Garner went past Rich towards after the first kilometre and he then went in pursuit of the top three. Tag and Andrew Ingleton had gone through the first mile in 5:08 and Hugo was only four seconds behind them.
After 1.55 miles, it was time to turn and start heading back towards Boscombe Pier. That meant they’d then have to face the fearsome headwind. The change of pace was immediately evident. It was now going to be a bit of a grind all the way back.
Shortly after the turn, Rich got overtaken by a group of three or four other runners. That was ideal as it meant he could tuck in behind them and let them bear the brunt of the headwind. That gave him a much easier ride on the way back.
After sitting in behind Andrew Ingleton till the 4.1km point, Tag put in a small surge to get out in front and from there, it was enough to cruise home for the victory. His time of 16:46 gave him a comfortable winning margin of 13 seconds over the Salisbury man who had to settle for 2nd in 16:59.
Hugo got caught by Dion Garner in the end and it was the Poole Runners man who came through to take 3rd place in 17:09. That meant Hugo ended up in 4th place, getting to the line in 17:20. It was still a fabulous run from Hugo though in such difficult conditions.
As they approached the end of the third mile Rich was still sitting in behind Sean Harnett of New Forest Runners and Michel Godfrey of Wimborne. He was hoping as he got near the end, he’d have enough to extend away from the other two having conserved some energy by tucking in behind the whole way.
Young Sean Harnett was still strong at the end though and he had too much for Rich, coming through to take 5th place in 17:50. Rich reached the line a few seconds later to take 6th place in 17:53. Then it was Michel Godfrey taking 6th in 17:54.
After finishing 3rd in the last Winter Series race back in 2015, Will Newbery of New Forest Runners was back and this time he took 8th place in 18:05, just ahead of Tom Cawley of Littledown Harriers who took 6th in 18:06.
His Littledown teammate Matt Brown came through to take 10th place in 18:11. Dave Tindall of Poole Runners arrived in 11th place recording a time of 18:24. Then it was Trev Elkins who had found the strong headwind tough to contend with on the way back. He crossed the line in 13th place, clocking a time of 18:47.
Completing the course in 19:19, Paddy McCalister was the next Bournemouth AC man in, in 16th place. Then it was Patrick Kingston who registered a time of 20:41, putting him in 36th position.
Getting round in 21:21, Leon Atkins finished in 45th place, with Neil Smith reaching the line in 21:45 to take 52nd place. That put him just ahead of Vicky Rutter of Westbourne who finished as 2nd female in 21:49. Lauren Baker-Little of Poole Runners was the 1st woman to get to the line and she got round in 19:39 which out her in 25th place overall.
Another famous face from days gone by who was back in action at the Boscombe Winter Series was Joe Price and he raced round in 21:53 which put him in 56th place overall.
Taking the 3rd female spot, Emily Coltman crossed the line in 22:01 which put her in 58th place overall and put her 1st in the Female 15-19 category. Somehow managing fairly consistent splits, Tamzin Petersen finished as 8th lady in 23:05, which put her in 70th overall.
The next Bournemouth AC member to cross the line was Simon Hunt who completed the course in 24:15. That put him in 83rd place overall and 3rd in the Male 65-69 category.
Coming in in 101st place in a time of 26:06, it was Nikki Whittaker. That made her 20th female that day and although it wasn’t quite as quick as she’d hoped, she’d coped pretty well with the difficult headwind. It started to rain towards the end of her run as well which made it even tougher.
Getting to the line in 26:46, Ian Graham was 2nd fastest in the Male 75+ category. That put him in 110th place overall. Mick Anglim of Hardley Runners was 1st in the men’s 75+ category, completing the course in 25:14 which out him in 92nd place overall.
Also getting caught in the rain on the way back, Dave Parsons had a tough time out there but showed great character to cross the line in 31:16. That put him 154th overall and 4th in the Male 70-74 category.
It was the first time Dave had pinned on a number in a local race since New Year’s Day 2020 and the way the conditions were, he might not be tempted to do it again too soon either. At least he had a nice Mediterranean cruise to look forward to soon afterwards though so he’d likely be in line for some better weather there.
170 runners in total completed the race and in the team results, it was a win for the Bournemouth AC men, with Tag taking 1st, Hugo in 4th and Rich Brawn in 6th. That put them ahead of Poole Runners who were 2nd and New Forest Runners who took 3rd.
Out of the female teams, it was Poole Runners who came out of top, with Lauren Baker-Little finishing 1st, Joanna Westhead in 4th and Becky Dean in 7th. The Bournemouth AC trio of Emily Coltman, Tamzin Petersen and Nikki Whittaker were 2nd.
Managing to win the race without over-exerting himself too much was quite pleasing for Tag and set him up nicely for the Inter Financial Services Cross Country Championships the following evening.
The course was changed to multi terrain after all rain and it was a two lap route. Running the first lap quite conservatively, Tag then cranked it up a notch for the second lap and ended up claiming his second win in as many days. The distance was just shy of 6 miles and Tag completed it in 32:14, giving him an average pace of 5:24.
It was then over to Gosport on the Sunday of that week for Tag, Rich, Paddy and Patrick as they were all back in race action at the Gosport Half Marathon. That was to be the fourth event of the Hampshire Road Race League and Bournemouth AC were brining a strong squad over to continue their promotion charge.