The Bournemouth AC men's team for the Victory 5

The Bournemouth AC men commissioned the race starter to take a quick team photo

A disastrous display at the Gosport Half Marathon saw the Bournemouth AC men fail to register the required four finishers and that had seen them slip down the table, allowing Farnham Runners to assume pole position. They desperately needed to bounce back with a good result at the Victory 5. It looked like that could be feasible as well, with Adam Corbin, Rich Brawn, Adrian James, Mike Akers and James Hulbert all in the line-up.

There was even a rare race appearance from captain Rich Nelson who knew that even despite his injury woes, a flat five miler was very doable. Last year  it was only Rob McTaggart, Nikki Whittaker and Trev Elkins who ran at the Victory 5. That meant they had no team for the Hampshire Road Race League, despite Tag running well and finished 6th in 25:37.

Due to illness and injury, Tag and Nikki ended up pulling out of the race this time round which was a bit of a blow. If they could get four men finishing reasonably high up though, there was a feeling that BAC could still have a good chance of being the lowest scoring team in the division. That had to be the aim. They needed to get back to winning ways.

A disappointing run at Gosport had dented Rich Brawn’s confidence a touch and had brought him crashing back down to earth after excellent PBs at the Cardiff Half Marathon and the Great South Run. He’d struggled with the windy conditions at Gosport and found it impossible to go at the sort of pace he would usually expect.

Adam was feeling a bit under the weather at the Cardiff Half Marathon and was a little down on where he would normally be. He had been producing some good parkrun performances though, including a PB of 16:15 at Poole, so he knew his short distance speed was there.

Joining Rich Brawn for the Great South Run, 10 miles was the furthest distance Adrian James had ever ran. He’d never even gone that far in training but he showed great courage to take it on. Finishing in 1:03:42, it was a great attempt by Adrian considering it was his first go, even if it was a painful last few miles.

He’s been consistently producing good parkrun times all year but would still probably see himself as a better 800m runner. He’s targeting the European Masters Championships in March where he hopes he could produce a good enough time to reach the final.

James Hulbert after the Larnaca Marathon

James Hulbert ran the Larnaca Marathon two weeks before the Victory 5

Coming off the back of a 3:01:18 at the Larnaca Marathon in Cyprus, James Hulbert was making his league debut for the club and it was great to have him on board to bolster the squad.

Having produced his fastest ever 5 mile time in the Victory 5 back in 2017, Mike Akers was hoping to challenge that 29:14 effort again in the 2023 edition. He’d been back training with the group in the Tuesday night sessions and had been steadily building his speed back up.

He hadn’t been at his fittest for quite some time but Rich Nelson was hoping the Victory 5 could be the race to kickstart his revival. He knew it wouldn’t be quick in comparison to the sort of times he was capable of in the past but it was certainly worth a go to see where he’s at and just simply to enjoy the event for what it was.

it was raining on the morning of the race and it was looking like it was going to be a wet one. Miraculously though, by the time the runners began to gather on the start line, the rain had stopped. There were a lot of puddles around but aside from that the conditions were actually quite good for running.

It was a two lap course that mostly consisted of running round a car park. It certainly wasn’t the most scenic of races but it was quite a quick course since it was fully flat. Both Adam and Rich were feeling relatively confident they could get a five mile PB. The previous ones they’d done, like the May 5 and the Overton 5 weren’t as quick courses, theoretically.

Adam Corbin racing along

Adam Corbin set the precedence with a fast start

Both men set off quick, with the first mile being ticked off in around 5:25. Adam was slightly in front of Rich and extended the gap between them on the second mile by putting in a 5:28. Rich wasn’t strong enough to stay at that pace and dropped to a 5:34 for his second mile.

Having looked at his fastest previous five mile race which was the Overton 5 from 2022 and seen that his average pace came out at 5:36. His plan was to try to go at 5:35 pace or under for each mile which would then be just about enough to seal the sub 28 minute time that he wanted.

Rich Brawn races through the car park

Rich Brawn was gunning for a five mile PB

Adam was still going well, registering a 5:31 for his third mile. Rich’s pace dropped again slightly to 5:37 for his third mile but it was still around about where he needed to be and he felt in control, albeit close to being on his limit.

Adam’s fourth mile was his quickest yet, going through in 5:20 and he was looking extremely strong with just one mile left to go. Managing to keep his pace on a level for his fourth mile, Rich clocked a 4:38 to bring him onto his fifth a final mile.

Adam Corbin in the Victory 5

Adam produced a terrific run to clock a pleasing PB

Completing his last mile in 5:33, Adam went over the line in 27:09, putting him in 21st place. It was a magnificent performance from Adam and he was well pleased with that result. It was a 45 second improvement on his time from the May 5 in 2022.

Thinking he’d be really close to the 28 minute mark, Rich continued to push hard on his fifth mile but he wasn’t really able to up the pace. All he could do was keep going and hope that it would be enough. With a 5:36 for his fifth mile, Rich reached the finish line in 27:43 which put him in 33rd position.

Rich Brawn in the Victory 5

Rich was right on his limit but managed to keep his pace where he needed it to be

He was pleasantly surprised to see how much he’d gone under 28 minutes by in the end, since he hadn’t looked at the time at all. He’d only really been concentrating on his mile split pace. He was over the moon to add a five mile PB to the half marathon and 10 mile ones he’d already collected. Rich was the 6th vet over the line that day.

Because the course had quite a few twists and turns and parts of it went back on itself, you could sometimes see the runners ahead of you on different parts of the course. It was demoralising in a way to see how far ahead the lead runners were.

Matt Sharp of Ryde Harriers picked up the win in 23:50, with Alex Tueten of Southampton taking 2nd in 24:04. Jack Woods of Worthing & District wasn’t far behind, taking 3rd in 24:18.

It was a good day for Ryde Harriers as they had Dan Eckersley who finished 4th in 25:12 and Joe Wade who took 7th in 25:24. Chris Newnham then rounded off their scoring team by giving them their fourth man in the top ten. He recorded a time of 25:43.

Southampton were also doing well, with Richard Waldron taking 12th in 26:01 and Jordan Wimbourne sealing 16th place in 26:32.

Adrian James tackling the Victory 5

Adrian James was third scorer for the BAC men

As he usually does in races, Adrian James started off fast but faded as the race progressed. Finishing in 70th place in the end, he posted a time of 29:30 and was Bournemouth AC’s third scorer. They now just needed one more man in to complete the scoring team.

After also starting off quick with a 5:32 for his first mile, James Hulbert dropped to a 6:05 for his second mile. He then followed it up with a 6:11 for his third mile before picking it back up again and registering a 6:04 for his fourth mile. Closing it out with a 6:03 for his fifth mile, James got over the line in a creditable time of 30:05.

Adrian James in the Victory 5

Adrian helped the team on to a Second Division win

That put him in 78th place and was enough to seal a win in the Second Division for the Bournemouth AC men. Totten RC finished 2nd at the Victory 5 and they currently sit 2nd in the table behind Farnham Runners who are top of the tree. They finished 3rd at the Victory 5. The Bournemouth AC men are now 3rd in the table.

Five teams from the top division boasted a better score than Bournemouth AC including Ryde Harriers who recorded the lowest score of any team in any of the races thus far. It was a good day for Andover as well, meaning the two newly promoted teams had shown the others how its done at the Victory 5.

Alton Runners finished 3rd and Southampton ended up 4th, with Winchester & District having to settle for 5th place. They were still top of the standings though after five races, with Andover flying high in 2nd and Lordshill and Alton Runners level on points in 3rd and 4th.

Winchester RC, who are new to the league as of this season were the lowest scoring team in the Third Division, with City of Portsmouth taking 2nd and Hart Road Runners 3rd. Although they could only manage 8th, New Forest Runners were still top of the Third Division table ahead of Hart Road Runners and Victory AC.

Mike Akers in the Victory 5

Mike Akers did well to finish less than a minute off his previous best time

Finishing just six seconds behind James, Mike Akers clocked a time of 30:11 which put him in 83rd place. He put in a superb, evenly paced effort with his first mile split being 5:56 and the rest of them just seconds over six giving him an average pace of 6:02. It was less than a minute off his best time so not a bad result at all for Mike as he continues to works his way back to his best.

Former BAC man Trev Elkins ran as well and he completed the course in 29:06 which put him 62nd in the overall standings and 8th in the VM40 category.

Steph McCall of Clapham Chasers was 1st female, crossing the line in 27:59 which put her 37th overall. Emily Wicks of Aldershot Farnham & District was 2nd in 28:27, putting her 48th overall. Then Bryony Proctor of Kent AC completed the course in 28:43 which made her 3rd female and 53rd overall.

Annie Mann of Winchester & District was 4th female and 55th overall in 28:49 she finished highest out of those in the Junior Woman category.

City of Portsmouth star Emma Jolley was 5th female and 1st vet in 29:24 and Lesley Locks of Aldershot Farnham and District was the only other woman to dip under 30 minutes. She came 64th overall and topped the standings in the VW45 category in 29:13.

Winning their third consecutive league fixture, Denmead Striders were the surprise leaders in the Women’s Top Division. Hedge End were 2nd at the Victory 5 and also sit 2nd for the season so far with Lordshill finishing 3rd at the Victory 5 and City of Salisbury 4th.

Alton Runners topped the standings in the Women’s Second Division after narrowly pipping City of Portsmouth to the post at the Victory 5. It was Alton Runners who sit top of the table in Division Two with Portsmouth Joggers 2nd and Overton Harriers in 3rd.

Hart Road Runners were the lowest scoring team in the Third Division at the Victory 5, with Winchester RC in 2nd and Victory AC 3rd. New Forest Runners are way clear at the top so far this season though, with Victory AC in 2nd and Hart Road Runners in 3rd.

Rich Nelson in the Victory 5

It was a rare race appearance from BAC team captain Rich Nelson

Not quite managing to make it in before the heavens opened, Rich Nelson made it to line in 39:31, finding it pretty tough going since he rarely runs at all these days. It was great for the team to have him with them though and he had fun whilst he was out there, at least to some extent and that’s what its all about.

His time put him in 345th place overall. A total of 562 runners successfully completed the course that day. Who would have thought that running round a car park in the rain could be such an attraction?

The next Hampshire Road League matchup is the Stubbington 10k and despite the entries getting full in the space of a few hours, Bournemouth AC should have enough for a very strong Men’s A and B team and, for the very first time in the Hampshire League, a Women’s team of four as well.

It will be really exciting to see how the squad gets on as the enthusiasm to race seems to have been rejuvenated, early on in the year at least, and it could have the makings of a very successful 2024 for the yellow and blues. The ultimate goal will of course be to gain promotion to the top flight in both the Hampshire Road League and the Dorset Road League and there is a feeling that the club now possesses enough strength in depth to do just that.

The Bournemouth AC men's team on the start line at the Victory 5

It was a good day for the Bournemouth AC men as they continued their promotion charge