A huge effort from the Bournemouth AC men at the Ryde 10 had seen them conquer the very hilly Isle of Wight race and return victorious, strengthening their position at the top. That showed how seriously they were taking the Hampshire Road Race League and the lengths they were prepared to go to succeed and gain promotion.
Of course, with this being their first season in the league, they found themselves starting in the third division, which they will need to work their way up from. With four third division wins and one second place, they were in a great position to top the table and move up into the second division. With the final scores being formulated from the best nine of twelve fixtures though, there was still work to be done.
The next race on the agenda was the Salisbury 10. It wasn’t a race that was completely alien to the Bournemouth AC men. Rich Brawn had run it before, back in 2017 and Rob McTaggart did it in 2019, finishing 2nd on that occasion. But it had never been a league fixture before though, so this time it was very different.
As he had been with most of his recent races, Tag was doing it as part of a longer training run where he was looking to hit around 15 miles at his intended marathon pace. That would make it a pretty fast run if was able to manage it.
Paddy McCalister was also looking to run the race at his intended marathon pace which was around 6:45 to 6:50 minutes per mile. He was also intending on doing some more miles before and after the race.
Since he hadn’t really done any proper fast races so far this year, aside from the Boscombe Winter 5k Series, Rich Brawn had decided he was going to race it like he normally would. It would be a good opportunity to gage where he is fitness wise in comparison to how he was before he took time out due to a knee injury. He was worried that he might struggle but felt it would be good for his marathon training to do a proper hard race.
Originally Ryan Pegoraro had been on the list but he had been suffering from a bout of sciatica which had kept him out of action in the Surrey Half a couple of weeks before. His place was duly snapped up by Adam Corbin though which softened the blow of being without Ryan.
Adam had performed extremely well at the Ryde 10 to secure a sub-60 time which put him in 12th place that day. The Salisbury 10 race did feature a fair bit of elevation but it wasn’t likely to be as tough as the Ryde 10.
Tom Ralph was also in the line up for Bournemouth AC as well and he was taking part in his third league race of the season, having already competed at the Stubbington 10k and the Lytchett 10.
The Salisbury 10 route follows the banks of the River Avon, through the undulating but scenic country roads of Woodford Valley, featuring views of the iconic cathedral spire on the return leg. It’s easy to miss though when you’re going hell for leather to contest for those all important league positions.
Recent performances had given Tag every reason to be optimistic about his impending marathon time. He’d run the Wokingham Half Marathon 49 seconds faster than he did the previous year. He’d also gone 10 seconds quicker in the Friday Night Under the Lights 5k at Battersea Park, two minutes faster at the Chichester 10k and two-and-a-half minutes quicker in the Lytchett 10. The signs of improvement were clear to see.
Before the race started Tag had already ran 6.5 miles, including a few at 5:30 minute mile pace. After a five minute wait, he then started the race and continued his run. He was going at just over 5:30 pace for the first mile and the third mile which both contained hills. The second mile had a descent and he got through that in 5:16 before another mile that was mostly uphill sent him back over 5:30.
Tag then managed a 5:25 and a 5:29 before another couple of miles with hills saw him register a 5:34 and a 5:35. After that he really began to crank the pace up for the last few miles when there were no more inclines to tackle.
Former BAC man Harry Smith was way out front on his own, going at a much faster pace than anyone else. Tag was battling it out for 2nd place with Andrew Winterbottom of Winchester & District.
Finishing with a 5:09 and a 5:12 for his last two miles, Tag got outkicked in the end by the Winchester man. He claimed 2nd place in 54:07, with Tag taking 3rd in 54:08. That was still an average pace of 5:25 which was impressive considering the hills he encountered along the way.
Harry managed an average pace of 5:13 to finish in 52:17, giving him a resounding victory. It really was another tremendous performance from Harry. Ben Findlay, also of Winchester & District took 4th place in 54:17, with Chris Newnham of Ryde securing 5th in 54:23.
Will Pannell and Tristan Cooper were next in for City of Salisbury, meaning that with Harry in their line up as well, they were really bossing their home fixture. Will posted a time of 54:53 and Tristan crossed the line in 55:14.
Alex Prinsep of Romsey Road Runners finished 8th in a time of 56:09. That was significant as Romsey Road Runners were also in the third division with the Bournemouth AC men.
Completing the scoring team for City of Salisbury, Ben Saunby arrived in 11th place recording a time of 56:25. That meant they’d won the fixture by virtue of scoring the least amount of points.
Cassie Thorp of City of Portsmouth was first female and came 12th overall in an excellent time of 57:16.
Romsey Road Runners had their second scorer on the board when Matthew Bennett arrived to take 17th place in exactly 58 minutes. Crucially, he’d finished just in front of Adam Corbin who was Bournemouth AC’s second scorer.
Adam ran a comfortable and controlled race and looked strong throughout, never going over six minutes per mile despite the elevation. His time was 58:04, so it was 1 minute 36 seconds quicker than his Ryde 10 time. His average pace for the run was 5:48.
The third scorer for Romsey Road Runners was Neil Jennings who arrived in 58:56, putting him in 23rd place. That meant they still had the upper hand in the battle for the top third division team.
Abigail Woolaston of Andover & District was 2nd placed female, crossing the line in 59:16. That put her in 26th position overall.
Lucy Elliott of Winchester & District then arrived on the track to conclude her race and take the 3rd female spot in 1:00:16. That put her in 32nd place overall.
There was a three-way battle for 33rd place between Emma Jolley of City of Portsmouth, Rich Brawn and Mark Stileman who was competing for Romsey Road Runners.
Since he wasn’t as fit as usual Rich was struggling a bit with the inclines and they had really slowed him down. Emma, on the other hand, was stronger on the hills and she caught Rich up as they were going up the steepest hill of the race which was on mile six.
Rich knew Emma through his brother Dave who used to run for Portsmouth Joggers and when he saw her overtake him he decided he would do his best to try and stay with her. That sparked his race into life and he managed to raise his effort level for the remainder of the race.
Mark Stileman had been running at a similar pace to Emma so he was there as well and the three of them were now running together for the next couple of miles. Rich was quicker on the flat and on the downhill but Emma kept catching him back up on the ascents.
When they got to the top of the climb at 7.7 miles, the marshal shouted that there were no more hills to come. That was music to Rich’s ears and he knew he could now afford to push on for the last couple of miles.
Managing to pull away from Emma a bit, he still had Mark there with him and knew that he needed to keep the pressure on. Mark was in front of Rich as they headed back towards the athletics track. Once they got on the track though, Rich was able get past Mark and come into the finish to take 33rd place.
His time was 1:00:25, which he was a bit disappointed with as it would have been nice to come in under the hour. It wasn’t a total disaster though so that was something to be grateful for. His average pace for the run was 6:02.
Because Mark was Romsey’s fourth scorer though and Rich was only Bournemouth AC’s third man in, that meant Romsey had effectively sealed top spot in Division Three. The good news was that they weren’t promotion challengers, since they’d only managed to get a team out in one of the other races, so from that perspective, it didn’t matter too much.
Running three miles before the race, Paddy McCalister then ran a good controlled effort to get through most of the miles at close to marathon pace. Then for the last couple of miles he was able to crank it up a notch.
That culminated in a finishing time of 1:07:56 which put him in 130th place overall and gave him an average pace of 6:48. That’s very much in the right sort of ballpark for what he’ll be looking to do at London. He just needs to replicate it for another 16 miles!
With Paddy in as fourth scorer for the team, the confirmed a 2nd place finish for Bournemouth AC in the third division for the race behind Romsey Road Runners. Isle of Wight Road Runners claimed 3rd with Pompey Joggers taking 4th.
Finishing shortly after Paddy, Tom Ralph completed the course in 1:08:49, putting him in 147th place. Again, he paced the run pretty well and was able to close it out with three fast miles. His average pace for the run was 6:53.
He enjoyed the scenery and the crowd support whilst on route and felt the organisation of the race was spot on. He also liked the track finish as well as the t-shirt and medal he received. After the race he treated himself to bacon bap as well, which topped off an overall positive experience for Tom.
Despite losing out to City of Salisbury on this occasion, Winchester & District were still well in control in the Men’s first division. Alton finished 3rd with Lordshill taking 4th place.
For the fifth consecutive race, it was Ryde Harriers who topped the standings in the second division and if they were to get a team out for all the remaining four fixtures, it would likely be them that gains promotion to Division One.
In the Ladies league, it was Winchester & District who picked up the win, strengthening their position at the top of the standings. City of Salisbury took 2nd place in their home fixture.
City of Portsmouth bossed proceedings in the third division as they looked to chase down Pompey Joggers and Ryde were the top scorers in the second division, just edging them ahead of Liss in the standings for the season so far.
Out of the Men’s B teams, it was City of Salisbury who got the best score, with Winchester in 2nd and Lordshill in 3rd. Winchester still had a very healthy advantage at the top of the standings in the first division though.
Totton were winners of the second division, which is the one Bournemouth AC are in. Isle of Wight Road Runners were 2nd with the current division leaders, Eastleigh, taking 3rd.
City of Salisbury were also victorious out of the C Teams, with Winchester in 2nd. They also won the fixture in the D Team division as well, marking a dominant display for the blues in their home match.
Out of the Ladies’ B Teams, Winchester & District won the fixture, edging them closer to Totten at the top of the table. City of Salisbury B Team were 2nd on the day in the top division.
In the second division it was a win for Isle of Wight Road Runners ahead of Ryde Harriers and they were the two clubs battling it out for promotion into the top tier. Ryde Harriers are currently occupying top spot.
Winchester C Team also won the fixture, moving them level with Lordshill C Team on league scores at the top of the standings. City of Salisbury D Team won the fixture but remained third for the season, with Stubbington D Team staying top of the table.
Tag was a little disappointed at the end of the race that he hadn’t been able to hit his intended marathon pace for all the miles of the Salisbury 10 race but it with so many speed altering undulations, it wasn’t really the ideal course for that. Also he was going into it off the back of three 95 mile weeks so that was bound to have taken its toll on his performance levels. To still be able to produce what he did under those circumstances was impressive.
When he’s competing at the London Marathon, with the fast, flat surfaces and the crowds roaring him on, being fully tapered and fresh legged, it will be a very different story.
With just four fixtures of the season left, the Bournemouth AC men are clearly in the driving seat to take top spot and gain promotion to the second tier. They already have six good scoring races under their belts so need just three more.
The next three fixtures, the Alton 10, the Netley 10k and the Alresford 10k are largely unknown quantities amongst the Bournemouth AC camp but they will provide some good opportunities to try out a new race. If they are able to get a team of four for each of those races, the BAC men could potentially seal the third division title before the Lordshill 10k, which is the final fixture.
Next up for Tag, Rich and Paddy was the Bournemouth Bay Run Half Marathon and also possessing an entry into the 10k race, Tag was going for an unprecedented double. Adam was also featuring in the 10k as well, with a strong looking Bournemouth AC squad in force.