In the penultimate fixture of the Dorset Road Race League season, it was all hands to the pump for Bournemouth AC as their men’s team looked to officially wrap up the First Division championship at the Wimborne 10.
Team captain Rich Nelson has assembled an extremely strong line-up in a bid to finally fend off a valiant challenge from Poole AC, who had managed to keep their feint hopes of stealing the spoils alive at Gold Hill by taking 2nd place. Bournemouth AC failed to field five finishers in the fixture which had meant Poole AC could still mathematically lift the title.
Rich wanted to get it done and dusted at the Wimborne 10 though and managed to pull out all the stops to get some of Bournemouth AC’s top boys in on the action.
As a result, the yellow and blue army were bolstered by the inclusion of the hundred k hero Ant Clark and Tor des Géants extraordinaire Jez Bragg, along with the Taunton Tiger Toby Chapman, Jon Sharkey, Craig Palmer, Rob McTaggart and Great South Run sub-50 supremo Dangerous Dave Long.
As for the BAC ladies’ team, they have been making a late charge for the runners up spot, currently lying in 3rd place, two points behind Littledown Harriers. A good result at the Wimborne 10 would be crucial for them in their bid to outfox Littledown and Poole AC who are also in the running.
The ladies’ team were bolstered by a late entry of Emma Caplan (Dews) who usually challenges for the top placings. They also had Joy Wright in the ranks. Joy has been focusing mostly on the track this season so it was good to see her back in action on the road.
To begin with there was a very large lead group containing around 20 people. All the main contenders were in that group, including many of BAC’s top boys. Poole AC had a number of their top names in the mix as well, with the likes of Chris Alborough and Gareth Alan-Williams present.
Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers, Chris Wood of Wimborne, Lee Dempster of Lytchett and Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat were also there. As far as Dorset running goes, it was a star-studded front pack.
At one stage Gareth Alan-Williams broke clear and was out in front on his own but he got reeled back in by the lead chasers who were not prepared to let anyone escape their grasp.
Although they were going along at a pretty good pace, some of the Bournemouth AC guys, in particular Craig, Tag and Disco, still managed to find time for a laugh and joke. In fact, they were having a pretty good time and enjoying both the race and the banter that came with it.
There was also a point where Dave decided he felt strong enough to push on from the lead group and go it alone. Craig and Tag weren’t about to let him get away though and shut the move down.
By this point the lead group had been whittled down significantly, with only Iain Trickett and Chris Alborough able to stay with the pace the Dave, Craig and Tag were setting. Even Toby Chapman fell off the back of the group in the end.
The top five remained together until they reached the long finishing straight. That meant it would be down to a sprint finish the determine who would take the race win. It turned out to be Craig, Iain and Chris that were the strongest and the three of them were initially neck-and-neck as they made their way down the finishing straight.
Craig managed to get ahead and looked he was striding to victory but Iain wasn’t about to let his fantastic recent winning streak go without a fight. Chris was still in contention as well and as Iain and Chris went past Craig it was between the two of them to take the honours.
Iain’s sprint finish proved decisive in the end, getting to the line first in a time of 56 minutes and 3 seconds. Despite his strong finish, Chris was forced to settle for 2nd place. Craig and Tag crossed the line together in 3rd and 4th places, both registering a time of 56:14. It had turned out not to be Dave’s day in the end and he crossed the line in 5th place, clocking a time of 56:28.
Gareth Alan-Williams took 6th in a time of 56:29, with Toby following in shortly after, reaching the line in 56:37. Jon Sharkey had had another strong run and he came in shortly after Toby to make it five Bournemouth AC members in the top ten. Sharkey’s time was 56:56, which put him first in the MV35-39 category.
Next it was Lee Dempster who crossed the line in 57 minutes exactly, with Andy Leggott arriving 35 seconds later to take what was then 10th place. There was no chip timing at the Wimborne 10 though. Instead, the race organisers relied on the old method of a stop watch and some pen and paper to record the numbers as they went over the line.
All the numbers had been set out in the post before the day of the race. Unfortunately for Dave though, he had forgotten to bring his number so, as a consequence, wasn’t wearing one. When the original, provisional results were posted on the board though, Dave was listed so it looked as if he’d got away with it. Then when they were giving the prizes out afterwards, they announced that he had been disqualified.
From a BAC perspective though, it didn’t matter too much though, as Ant Clark had crossed the line in, what turned out to be 11th place, registering a time of 57:51, so he became the fifth scorer for BAC.
Ant was coming off the back of an easy couple of months after his incredible effort in the 100k World Championships where he finished in 8th place, recording the 7th best time ever posted from a Brit.
Naturally, he wasn’t quite in a same shape as he’d managed to get himself into for the 100k, where he began to look like a slimline version of the Incredible Hulk due to the low carb diet and high intensity training. Considering that, he was pretty pleased with that result.
Even without Disco in the results, Bournemouth AC still emerged convincing winners of the fixture as far as the Dorset Road Race League was concerned. That meant the Men’s First Division title was signed, sealed and delivered.
Another man coming off the back of a big race that required some serious recovery and recuperation was Jez Bragg, who covered around 294 kilometres over four full days’ worth of virtually non-stop running in the legendary Tor des Géants.
That was only a couple of months ago so his legs were understandably still a little sluggish. He was hoping to dip under the 60-minutes and wasn’t far off in the end, crossing the line in 1:00:03.
It was good for Jez to have this to focus on to help get his mind and body back in the game after his TDG exertions. He’s hoping this will be the platform to him starting to regain his speed and getting back up to his usual level of performance.
Turning in a magnificent performance to secure a terrific new PB of 1:00:50 was Sanjai Sharma who took 21st place in the overall standings. Sanjai’s previous 10-mile best of 1:01:21 was in fact set at the Wimborne 10 back in 2016. He also did the race last year as well, finishing in a time of 1:02:02.
On both of those previous two occasions Sanjai had brought home 1st prize in his age category and this year it was no different, with Sanjai being awarded the trophy for the best MV55-59. He wasn’t really expecting to get the PB so it came as very nice surprise.
Having spent the vast majority of the race trying to stay as close to Sanjai as he could, Rich Brawn was the next BAC man to complete the race, clocking an excellent time of 1:02:05. Rich was himself coming off the back of an outstanding performance in the Great South Run where he posted a new 10-mile best of 1:01:22.
He didn’t quite manage to hit those heights at the Wimborne 10 but the course was a lot harder by comparison. The Great South Run course is pretty much pan-flat throughout, meaning if you get good weather, a fast time is always on the cards for anyone in form.
The Wimborne 10 is a lot more undulating, with an incline of some description never being too far away throughout the race. There are a couple of really tough hills as well that can stop you in your tracks. One is on the fourth mile, where virtually the whole mile is on an uphill curve.
The other most memorable one comes on the 9th mile, when you have to go back up the hill you had gone down towards the beginning of the race. That was quite steep and required every ounce of leftover energy to get up.
Managing to keep Sanjai in his eyeline for the first 7 miles, when he finally disappeared from view it was okay, as Rich knew then that he only had the remaining three miles to get through. Once he got to the top of the last hill it was then onto the long stretch down to the finish line.
At this point Rich was able to push on and put in a super strong finish, going past four of his rivals on his way to the line to take 30th place. Although it was as quick as his GSR time, Rich was pleased with the outcome and was very happy to have been able to finish with a flurry.
Finishing in a time of 1:02:53, Tom Paskins was the next BAC member to arrive at the finish. Tom wasn’t at his absolute best as he’d needed a bit of time to recover from the Chicago Marathon, which he completed back in October in an excellent time of 2:56:46.
Taking that into consideration, Tom was fairly pleased with his run and enjoyed making the most of the tempting array of cakes they had on offer after the race.
The next BAC member to come in was Emma Caplan (Dews) who finished as 3rd lady in a time of 1:05:54. Emma had had an operation earlier in the week and shouldn’t really even have been running but she couldn’t resist the lure of representing her club in a league race that was critical for the BAC ladies in their quest for a runner up spot.
For the first six miles of the race Emma it was going smoothly for Emma but after that the wheels fell off a bit and the latter stages of the race became a bit of a battle. To still manage a top three place though, and 63rd position overall, is a real testament to her character in a race that by doctor’s orders, she shouldn’t really have even gone anywhere near.
She still walked away with a trophy for best FV40-44 as well so that another plus point from doing the race, as well as scoring vital points for the team. Katie Hughes of Westbury Harriers was the first lady over the line, finishing in 1:03:57. Serena O’Connor of Poole Runners was 2nd female in a time of 1:05:13.
After his recent woes it was good to see Adrian Townsend get through the race successfully. In the previous league race, the Gold Hill 10k, he picked up a calf strain in the warm up which prevented him from taking part.
He’d also been forced to abandon in both the Sturminster Half Marathon and the London Marathon before that due to stomach issues, He finished in a time of 1:06:31 which gave him 67th place overall.
Following in shortly after Adrian was Jud Kirk who had a pretty good run to finish in 71st place, registering a time of 1:06:50. That was enough to net Jud 1st prize in the MV60-64 category.
This all but wrapped up the victory for the Jud in the Men’s 60-64 category for the Dorset Road Race League season. His main rival Nigel Haywood took 2nd place at the Wimborne 10, finishing in 1:10:21 to put him 97th overall. The points advantage Jud now has over Nigel should be enough to see him home and dry in the individual league positions.
Next in for Bournemouth AC was Phil Cherrett and Richard Cannings who crossed the line in 107th and 108th places with times of 1:11:38 and 1:11:39 respectively.
The original plan for Richard Cannings was to pace another teammate and work colleague of his, Mike White, to a PB. Mike’s previous best was 1:12:22 so he was hoping to beat that.
Unfortunately, his fitness wasn’t quite there though and he saw his chances of getting close to his target time gradually ebb away. When it became clear that Mike wasn’t going to meet his goal it was then onto plan B for Richard Cannings. They could see Phil up ahead, about 30 seconds in front, so Mike suggested to Richard that he goes to run with Phil instead.
Richard duly set about chasing Phil down and by around the half way point in the race he’d caught him up. Richard then asked what time Phil was aiming for and Phil told him he was looking to get under 1:12.
The pair then ran together for the rest of the race, with Richard keeping Phil going and offering words of encouragement when necessary. They overtook about 15 people in the second half of race and Phil was really pleased to hit his target in the end.
Mike ended up finishing in 1:16:31 which put him in 163rd position. He now knows he has some work to do to get back his best and this experience has motivated him to train hard for his next 10-mile race which will be the Lytchett 10 in February.
Crossing the line in 118th place, Trevor Elkins was the next member of the yellow and blue army to complete the race. His time of 1:12:44 is well below what he’s normally capable of but Trev hasn’t been able to run as much as he usually would recently as his focus has been on other matters. He knows though, once he gets back into his usual training routine, he should be able to recapture the kind of form he expects from himself.
Taking 137th place in the overall standings was Steve Parsons, who crossed the line in 1:14:32. After a couple of strong performances at Gold Hill and Gilly Hilly Steve had every reason to be optimistic that he would run well at Wimborne. However, his race was somewhat scuppered by a technical hitch.
As the race got underway, he settled into an early rhythm and at first, all appeared to be going smoothly. About a kilometre in he took a glance down at his watch only to find that, to his horror, it hadn’t actually started!
He quickly pressed the button to get it going but he had no idea what distance he’d actually covered thus far so it was difficult for him to tell how well he was progressing from that point. That made things rather tricky for him.
Nonetheless, the ultimate goal remained that same – and that was to get to the finish as quickly as he could. He’ll probably learn a lesson from this experience though and in future races will always check after pressing the start button on his watch that the timer is actually running.
Next in for Bournemouth AC was the 2nd lady to reach the line and that was Joy Wright who clocked a time of 1:15:01. Joy found it to be a long, hard slog and she had to work hard to drag herself round the course.
She struggled over the last 7 miles and has been suffering with an achilles injury recently which did moan a bit, although it didn’t get the better of her. She also sprained her ankle a week ago meaning she’d been unable to run at all in the days leading up to the race.
As a consequence of all her injury woes and the lack of a good, solid, continuous block of training, she felt very unfit. She gave it her best shot though and that was all she could do. Even the sign saying “Half a mile to cake” didn’t get her legs moving any quicker up that final hill.
She did appreciate the support that she had whilst out on the course though. Rich Nelson was riding around on his bike encouraging the various BAC members as they made their way round and Dave Parsons also popped up in various places to cheer on everyone from the yellow and blue crew.
Finishing in 182nd place, it was Ian Graham, who arrived at the line in a time of 1:17:50. That was good enough to secure him 1st place in the MV70+ category.
The closest contender for that age group prize was Geoff Parrott of Westbourne RC who finished in 1:19:42. It was nice for Ian to get a trophy as in some races, they don’t even give a prize out for the over 70 category.
Arriving at the finish shortly after Ian and completing the scoring team for the ladies was Tamzin Petersen, who obtained a new 10-mile PB with her time of 1:18:18.
That was a 42 second improvement on her previous best which was set at the Bournemouth 10 in February. She’s improved quite a bit since then and is in much better shape at the moment so she was expecting a quicker time.
Two other Bournemouth AC ladies were also in the race, with Estelle Slatford finishing in 249th place, posting a time of 1:22:59 and Louise Price going over the line in 257th place in a time of 1:23:40.
Estelle is still getting back into the swing of things after a little bit of time out but she feels she’s making progress, slowly but surely. Having done the race two years ago, she knew what to expect from the course. That helped in particular with the last hill as she was knew what was coming enabling her to be mentally prepared.
Considering she hasn’t run the distance for quite a while, Estelle was fairly pleased with her performance and her time was less than a minute off her previous best which was set at the Bournemouth 10 in February.
As for Louise, she had a forgettable day, posting a time that was almost three minutes off what she did in the Wimborne 10 two years ago. It just simply wasn’t her day and sometimes in running, you have to just accept that and move on.
She has the Boscombe 10k coming up this weekend so that will provide a chance for her to rectify situation and give a better account of herself there. A total of 497 people completed the Wimborne 10 this year.
Poole Runners took the ladies’ team prize and will have once again emerged as winners in the Dorset Road Race League after having already secured the title. 2nd place is between Bournemouth AC and Littledown Harriers. Until the race results have been uploaded onto the DRRL website, it’s difficult to be certain but it could prove crucial in the battle for the runner up spot for the season.
It could all come down to the final fixture which is the Boscombe 10k this coming weekend. If BAC can get a win there they could still topple Littledown in the chase for 2nd place, so it’s still all to play for.
As for the men’s team, having already sealed the league title, they can treat the Boscombe 10k as more of a procession. No doubt the race will still be a competitive one though everyone will be putting in 100% whilst they’re out there. Then after the race, the cakes will be cut and the celebrations will begin.