No, not the Alton that has loads of rollercoasters and fast rides. It wasn’t that one. But there were quite a lot of ups and downs and it certainly had its fair share of thrills and spills.
For the ninth race out of twelve in the Hampshire Road Race League, the Bournemouth AC men were off to Alton (the one that’s near Farnham) for what turned out to be what turned out to be a very undulating 10 mile race.
With the end of the season getting ever closer, league points were absolutely vital and with the Bournemouth AC men sitting pretty at the top of the third division, they didn’t want to let it slip now.
Stu Nicholas hadn’t raced since aggravating a hamstring injury during his Dorset Ooser Half Marathon win on 16th April (unless you include parkrun!). He didn’t really know for sure how it was going to go but he was hoping it would be alright.
Rich Brawn then joined him in signing up and Rob McTaggart said he’d do it if needed, although just three weeks on from the London Marathon it wasn’t ideal. Thankfully he did end up entering, meaning they had three and needed just one more man.
Ryan Pegoraro had previously entered but due to his sciatica problem, he was unable to run which meant someone could take his place. Seeing that they were struggling for numbers, Stu Glenister then came forward to offer his services and the entry was transferred over to him.
The team was boosted further when Matt Dicks agreed to run and after that David Pinney confirmed that he’d signed up as well. Swooping in with a late entry, Sanjai Sharma stepped up to make it a magnificent seven. In the end they’d gone from not even have an A-Team to almost having enough for a B-Team. Rich Nelson wasn’t quite ready for an undulating 10 miler yet though but he did taxi some of the squad up and assume photo duty.
It was quite far from the race HQ at Eggars School to the start line at Holybourne Cricket Club. At least they’d had a good warm up though by the time they got there. Having spoken to his brother Dave about the race, since he had done it previously when running Portsmouth Joggers, Rich Brawn had an idea of what the course was like. Or so he thought. They’d changed it though for 2023 and as he was about to find out, they’d thrown in a few extra hills!
Before the race got underway, the starter mentioned that there was a cycling race on that same day so there were also going to be directional markers out for that route. That complicated matters slightly as the runners had to make sure they were following the correct route markers.
Hoping for a second consecutive league race win, Harry Smith was back in the hunt after emerging victorious at the Salisbury 10. He faced competition though from Andrew Greenleaf of Winchester & District and it was those two who broke away from the pack.
That left Tag somewhat isolated, in 3rd place. He was still managing to go at roughly 5:30 pace for the first few miles despite the hills. Then, when on the way down in the fourth mile, he picked it up to a 5:11.
The fifth mile was the toughest of the whole race, up a demanding incline. That knocked Tag down to a 6:22 mile split before he then got back on pace with a 5:41, a 5:30 and a 5:26 for this next three miles.
That left just two miles to go but they were also on a slight upward trajectory. Getting through them in 5:41 and 5:43, Tag had made it to the finishing line in a time of 56:19. That saw him comfortably take 3rd place with over a minute between himself and Alex Hamilton of Basingstoke & Mid Hants who was 4th in 57:24.
Tag’s average pace for the run was 5:37 which was very impressive on a course like that. The elevation gain came to 623ft so that was a fair amount of climbing to get through on a 10 mile route.
Despite being pushed by Andrew Greenleaf, Harry had too much in the end and was first to the line in an incredible time of 53:04. That put him 23 seconds ahead of Andrew who had to settle for a runner up spot with his time of 53:27.
Harry is really strong on hills so the Alton 10 course suited him quite well. It would probably be fair to say that the more hilly a race is, the more he can make his supremacy tell. His average pace for the run was 5:18 minutes per mile.
Like Alex Hamilton, Chris Mullin of Kent AC was a non scorer for the league but he arrived in 5th place in a time of 57:28.
Because of his hamstring or groin concern, Stu Nicholas had planned to start off quite conservatively. That plan went out of the window as soon as the claxon sounded. The competitive edge often tends to take over in a race scenario and once that adrenaline gets pumping, before you know it, you’re in top gear!
Managing to keep his pace remarkably consistent considering it was such an undulating route, Stu was getting through the majority of his miles in roughly 5:40 pace. It was only on the last couple of miles that he dropped off a bit, with a 5:50 for the ninth and a 5:44 to close it out. He put that down to a lack of conditioning and it was understandable, since he hadn’t been running much due to the injury.
Crossing the line in 57:33, Stu had taken 6th place but as far the league points went, he was 4th, which was a superb result. Kevin Willsher of Lordshill Road Runners was 7th in 57:48. Then came Bournemouth AC’s next scorer, Matt Dicks.
Going out really hard from the outset, Matt posted a 5:26 for his first mile before following it up with a 5:36 for his second mile, a 5:38 for mile three and a 5:28 for mile four. The hill on the fifth mile really took it out of him and from that point on, he was suffering.
He kept ploughing on though regardless and was still able to hold a pace below 6 minutes per mile for the majority of his remaining splits. One thing Matt does possess is an extraordinary turn of pace over a short distance. His 800m and 1500m times are very impressive.
Once he got near the end of the race, there was no way Matt was going to be beaten sprint finish. Crossing the line in 57:51, he came in just ahead of James Clarke of Farnham Runners and James Perrett of Alton. That put him in 8th place and in terms of league scorers, he was 6th. That meant Bournemouth AC had had three out of the first six scorers!
Struggling a bit on hills of late, Rich Brawn was finding it quite tough going and could tell after the first few miles that he wasn’t going to be on for a fast time. He was really enjoying the long descents though and was usually able to claw some places back on them.
Finding the hill on the fifth mile really tough going, he then managed to find his rhythm and started to run quite well after that, getting closer to 6 minute mile pace for most of his remaining splits.
There wasn’t anyone that near him but he could sense there was someone not too far behind and if he took his foot off the gas he’d get caught so he had to work really hard in the last couple of miles to keep the intensity up. He had a glance over his shoulder when he came round onto the finishing straight to see that he was home and hosed and put in a final push to the line.
Going over in 1:01:32, Rich had taken 20th place and was 18th scorer for the league. That was a wrap for Bournemouth AC. They had their four scorers in and since no other club had had more than two, they were the lowest scoring team of all the clubs in the league. It was a tremendous result for the yellow and blue army and would serve to strengthen their title winning prospects even further.
Shortly afterwards, Tamsin Anderson of Winchester & District crossed the line to seal the 1st female spot. She was 22nd overall in a time of 1:01:50. Emma Jolley arrived 12 seconds later to take the 2nd female position in 1:02:02, putting her 24th overall.
They were well ahead of any other women, with Sarah Page of Liss Runners and Caitlin Millar Fleet & Crookham next to arrive. They clocked times of 1:05:57 and 1:06:07 respectively to take 53rd and 54th place in the overall standings.
The next Bournemouth AC man to make his way down the finishing straight was David Pinney. He’d made it round in 1:07:25 which out him in 70th place overall. That put his average pace at 6:44 minutes per mile.
It wasn’t long before Sanjai Sharma arrived, registering a time of 1:09:47. That put him 89th in the overall standings and 4th in the 60-64 category. He found it to be a really tough course and the hills sapped a lot of his energy. He got through them though and came out of it with an average pace of 6:59.
Rounding it off from a Bournemouth AC perspective, Stu Glenister reached the line in 1:10:40 which put him in 94th place overall and 8th in the 50-54 category. Stu was dripping wet when he arrived and said that he’d taken a dunk in the river whilst on his way back. It was either that or he’d thrown a cup of water over himself.
When the race started it was cloudy and overcast but by the time they finished, the sun had come and it had warmed up quite considerably, to the point where it was looking like a trip to the beach could be on the cards when they got back to the south coast.
It was the first time the Bournemouth AC men had recorded the lowest score out of all the clubs since the Overton 5 on the first day of the season. With a total score of only 31, it was also one of the lowest scores achieved by any club in any of the previous races this season. The only times a lower score had been recorded were Winchester & District at the Hayling 10 (18), City of Salisbury at the Victory 5 (20), City of Salisbury at the Salisbury 10 (25), Bournemouth AC at the Overton 5 (26) and Southampton AC at the Overton 5 (29).
Provided they manage to field a team of four for two of the three remaining fixtures, Bournemouth AC look nailed on to take top spot in the third division. With two teams being promoted to the second division, it looks like it will be either Portsmouth Joggers or Isle of Wight Road Runners who will also be going up.
Winchester & District were the next lowest scoring team at the Alton 10 with 74, just ahead of City of Salisbury who finished on 79. Then it was Alton Runners in their home fixture, scoring 91. That was enough to confirm Winchester as champions, winning six out of nine fixtures so far this season.
In the second division, Andover recorded a huge win which could help them in their quest to stay in top spot. Ryde Harriers had won the last five fixtures so Andover badly needed to buck that trend. Ryde could only manage 3rd with Liss taking 2nd. Two teams will be promoted to the top tier but Hardley Runners currently occupy 2nd place so they are also in the hunt.
Winchester & District also sealed the league title in the ladies league with their eighth win out of nine fixtures. Denmead took 2nd place at the Alton 10 with Lordshill finishing 3rd.
In the second division it was Liss who were the lowest scoring team at the Alton 10, with Isle of Wight Road Runners being the only other side to field a team. Liss are currently top of the table with Ryde Harriers in 2nd.
In the third division it was New Forest Runners who picked up the win at the Alton 10, with Hart Road Runners take 2nd and Portsmouth Joggers 3rd. Since City of Portsmouth didn’t field a team, Portsmouth Joggers were confirmed as third division champions and will be promoted as no other team will have had a team for nine races.
In the men’s B team league it was Denmead who won the fixture, with Winchester taking 2nd and Alton Runners 3rd. Winchester still had a commanding lead at the top of the table though ahead of City of Salisbury.
In the second division, although they didn’t have a full team of four, Bournemouth AC were still 3rd after New Forest Runners and Totton. Totton are currently top of the table with Eastleigh in 2nd.
Denmead C Team also won at the Alton 10 with City of Salisbury taking 2nd but Winchester C Team remain top of the standings by a sizeable margin ahead of Lordshill C Team.
Denmead were also the lowest scoring team in the ladies B team league at the Alton 10, with Lordshill 2nd and Totton 3rd. Totten remained top of the table though ahead of Lordshill and Winchester.
Harry Smith’s win at the Alton 10 strengthened his position the top of the men’s individual table, having been top points scorer in four out of six of his races. Boosted by another 3rd place finish, Tag was 2nd in the table. Ben Findlay of Winchester is currently 3rd but he’s only done four races so far so he’ll need to do all three remaining fixtures to stay there. Currently occupying 4th place, Stu Nicholas is making it two Bournemouth AC men in the top four. Rich Brawn is currently 14th on the list.
In the ladies individual Tamsin Anderson of Winchester is leading it after being top scorer in three out of her five races so far. Emma Jolley of City of Portsmouth is 2nd, with Lucy Elliott of Winchester in 3rd and Charlie Metcalfe of Ryde Harriers 4th.
Next up for the Bournemouth AC men it was the Netley 10k where the yellow and blues looked to pick up a second consecutive league win and perhaps register the lowest score out of all the teams again.
It was on the same day as the May 5 so the club needed all hands to the pump to field strong teams out for both fixtures. Stu Nicholas and Rich Brawn were back in action at the Netley 10k and they were joined by Barry Dolman, Zak Preston and Adam Corbin.
The Bournemouth AC men could be confirmed as champions of the third division at the Alresford 10k which takes place on the 18th June. That would be a fantastic debut season in the Hampshire Road Race League if they can get the job done.