There were four Bournemouth AC runners selected to run for Dorset in the South-West Inter-Counties Road Race Championships and they made the journey over to Wiltshire to compete in the Chippenham Half Marathon. Stu Nicholas, Billy McGreevy, Caitlin Peers and Lea Lohk were all swapping their familiar yellow and blue vests for a green garment on this occasion to represent Team Dorset and they had all earned their places in a very strong line up.
The ladies were chosen by Poole Runners supremo Sarah Swift whilst the organisation of the men’s team fell to Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson. Then, on the day of the race he would drive them over in the fun bus to ensure they all arrived in time to make an impression on proceedings.
Joining Caitlin and Lea in the Dorset ladies squad were Vicki Ingham and Helen Draper of Poole Runners, Georgina Povall of Egdon Heath Harriers, Jenny Walker-Leach of Lytchett Manor Striders and Natalie Thomas and Maria Everett from Littledown Harriers.
In for the men alongside Stu and Billy, it was Lee Dempster of Twemlow Track Club, Lewis Clarke of Lonely Goat, Charlie Williams and Daniel Hull of Egdon Heath Harriers and Haydan Clarke of Poole Runners.
Both teams looked fantastic on paper, but of course they needed to go out an execute their best performances on the day if they were going to put Dorset in the mixer. The other counties they were up against included Cornwall, Devon and Wiltshire.
The first mile contained a fair bit of downhill and Stu Nicholas was out of the blocks quickly, recording a superfast 5:19 opener. He then settled down to around 5:30 sort of pace for the next five miles, then closer to 5:40 pace for the next four miles.
On the 11th mile, the climbing started but Stu was still going strong and recorded a 5:48 for that mile. The 12th mile was all uphill though and that was the only one he over 6 minutes per mile on, registering a 6:08. Then he was back down to 5:32 pace for the 13th miles before accelerating to the finish.
That culminated in a tremendous time of 1:13:58, which was his best ever half marathon time and that put Stu in 13th place. The course came up slightly long as well which made the time even more impressive and his average pace was 5:37.
Stu had certainly done enough to justify his selection and there was only one man in the Dorset squad who could rival that time and that was Lewis Clarke of Lonely Goat.
He got round in a sensational time of 1:13:23, which put him in 9th place overall. It was a fantastic run from Lewis, but not really a surprise given the way he’s been running of late.
Lewis has won several local races, often favouring trail over road and has proved virtually unstoppable at times. He won the Larmer 10 back in March and had that race in the Lytchett 10 where he broke away from the pack early on and bravely took the race on. It was only Jez Bragg who managed to catch him up and get past him in the end that day.
After returning to action with a win in the Somerley Estate Spring 10k, Billy McGreevy was very much enjoying being back on the race scene. He didn’t disappoint in the Chippenham Half either, finishing in a magnificent time of 1:22:17, which put him in 48th place.
Charlie Williams, Daniel Hull and Lee Dempster made it three consecutive Dorset finishers, taking 15th, 16th and 17th places. Charlie’s time was 1:14:46, Daniel’s was 1:14:50 and Lee came in at 1:15:24. Haydon Clarke was the next Dorset man in, taking 39th place in 1:20:08.
Opening with a very fast 5:50 for her first mile, Caitlin Peers then settled to around 6:20 pace for the next couple of miles and then just under 6:30 for the next two. She was between 6:30 and 6:35 pace for the following four miles before recording a 6:39 for the 10th mile.
The climbing started from there but Caitlin tackled it well, with a 6:48 for her 11th mile and a 7:04 for the 12th mile which was all uphill. Finishing strongly with a 6:40 for the last mile, all that remained was for her to race through the final fifth of a mile to cross the line in a scintillating time of 1:26:05.
That saw Caitlin come in as first scorer for the Dorset team and 11th placed female, which was impressive in such a high standard race. Her average pace for the run was 6:31 and it put her 65th overall.
Also weighing in with a pretty solid run, Lea Lohk was very consistent with her pacing, with the majority of her miles being clocked at just over 8 minutes. That culminated in a finishing time of 1:47:48, which made her 42nd female and 209th overall. That meant she’d come 1st in the Vet Women 55-64 category out of 23 which was a terrific result for Lea.
Georgina Povall ran well to finish in 1:27:57 which made her 14th fastest female and 74th overall. Vicki Ingham was the next woman over the line, getting round in 1:28:39, which put her 81st overall. She was 3rd out of 70 in the Vet Women 35-44 category.
Jenny Walker-Leach also put in an excellent display to cross the line in 1:31:09, which made her 17th fastest female and 87th overall. In the Vet Women 45-54 category she came 6th out of 81.
Natalie Thomas was next in for Dorset, getting round in 1:33:41. That made her 19th quickest lady and 94th overall and she was 4th in the 35-44 category.
Coming in as 5th Woman in the 35-44, Helen Draper recorded a time of 1:35:46, which made her 24th fastest female and put her 111th in the overall standings.
Clocking a time of 1:38:49, Maria Everett was 30th female and 135th overall. In the Vet Women 35-44 category, she was 8th quickest.
The race was won by Aaron Richmond of Bideford in an astonishing time of 1:07:20. That meant Tom Merson had to settle for 2nd place despite recording a marvellous time of 1:08:49. Jacob Landers of Tamar Trotters was 3rd in 1:09:19.
Out of the women, it was Alice Murray-Gourlay who finished highest up, taking 35th place in a time of 1:19:14. She was followed by Annabel Granger of Bristol & West who was 2nd female and 43rd overall in 1:20:53. Then sealing 3rd female spot, it was Rosie Mew of South West Road Runners. She recorded a time of 1:20:58.
In the South-West Inter-Counties Road Race Championship, Dorset finished 3rd in both the men’s and women’s races, with Devon winning the men’s and Cornwall taking 2nd, with Wiltshire taking 4th. In the women’s it was Cornwall who were 1st and Wiltshire claimed 2nd.
Caitlin’s performance was a massive boost to her ahead of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Utah on 28th October. That will entail running a half marathon after a 1900m swim and a 56 mile bike ride.
Stu Nicholas would be back in half marathon action the following weekend for the second Hampshire Road Race League fixture, the Solent Half Marathon. And the day before that he was set to compete as part of six man team for the Aldershot Road Relays. Once again, his dedication and commitment to representing his club, and in the case of the Chippenham Half Marathon, his county, was unwavering.
Lea Lohk is also always one of the first names on the team-sheet when it comes to races and she was down the Hoburne 5, which was also on the weekend after Chippenham. That was the next race in the Dorset Road Race League.
With the Hampshire Road Race League events added to the fixture list and the cross country league races soon to start there will certainly be ample opportunity for all club members to get involved and do their bit for team in the coming weeks and months and there should be some exciting times ahead for the club.