Even though they’d won five and come second in two of the Hampshire Road League races so far this season, Bournemouth AC were still not confirmed as third division champions. They still had work to. This was because in the Hampshire Road Race League it’s decided on the best nine of twelve races. Therefore, until they had got a team out in nine races, they weren’t home and dry. Just being the best team in the division, which Bournemouth AC clearly are, wasn’t enough. You had to prove you could consistently get a team out for virtually all the races as well.
That situation would keep the season alive at least until the penultimate fixture, the Alresford 10k. They had to keep putting out teams and keep the momentum going and if possible, keep winning. That meant the Netley 10k was another hugely important race. It was another stepping stone toward promotion to the second tier.
For the Netley 10k they were without their talisman Rob McTaggart who was at the Night of the 10,000m PBs that weekend. They did still have a strong line up though, with Stu Nicholas, Adam Corbin, Rich Brawn and Barry Dolman all having signed up and they were joined in the race by relative newbie Zak Preston.
Like the Alton 10, none of the Bournemouth AC members had done the Netley 10k before so it was unchartered territory for them. The course consisted of three laps within the grounds of Royal Victoria Country Park. The lap contained an incline up one side and then a downhill stretch the other side so although it was tough facing the hill three times, the rest of the lap was quite quick so there was ample opportunity to redress the balance.
There was quite a bit of traffic getting to the country park which meant that by the time they had parked up, collected their numbers and taken their bags back to the car, there was very little time for the BAC men to warm up. Considering it was a league race, it had a very low key sort of feel to it and some of the organisation seemed almost too casual. For instance, the competitors had to say what number they had been allocated and they were given that number with no cross checking which could have easily caused some discrepancies in the results.
Nevertheless, they were on the start line ready and raring to go and all that was left for the Bournemouth AC men to do was it give it their best and try to finish as high up the field as they could.
The start bit was a bit tricky as they were taken on a narrow path through the woods. There was very little room to manoeuvre here so if you’d started too far back it was difficult get past those in front. The hill came into play quite soon as well which made a tough opening half a mile.
After that though there was a long flat section for the next half a mile or so followed by a fast downhill segment. It wasn’t until they reached 1.7 miles that the climbing started again and they onto the second lap.
Gingerly recovering from a hamstring injury that was so bad it almost cost him victory in the Spring Larmer Half Marathon, Stu Nicholas had bounced back well. Putting in a strong performance at the Alton 10, he had taken a superb 6th place and most importantly, got through it unscathed.
Hoping to emulate his Eastleigh 10k time of 2021, when he did 33:49, Adam Corbin had been competing in the Great Bristol Run 10k the previous weekend. Unfortunately he ended up starting far too quickly though and blowing up after the first two miles. At least the Netley 10k had given him an opportunity to make amends for that and hopefully put in a more evenly paced effort.
Making a fast start, with a 5:41 for his first mile despite the incline, Stu then followed that up with a very speedy 5:23 for his second mile. Adam wasn’t far behind him, registering a 5:44 and a 5:29 for his first two mile splits.
It was back onto the hill for the third mile and Stu got through that in 5:52 before following it up with a 5:29 fourth mile. Adam’s next couple of miles were quite a similar pace to his first two, registering a 5:49 split, followed by a 5:32. Stu’s average pace for the second lap had gone down by 9 seconds per kilometre verses his first lap and Adam’s had gone down 7 seconds per kilometre.
Putting in a 6:02 for his fifth mile and then a 5:33 for his sixth mile, Stu went on to finish with a lap that was four seconds per kilometre slower than his second lap. It was tough going though having to face that climb three times and when you’re going close to full throttle, it can take its toll.
Registering a 5:52 for his fifth mile and a 5:41 for his sixth, Adam’s third lap was just three seconds per kilometre slower than his second. Stu finished strongly to record a time of 34:45 which put him in 7th place. Adam arrived 13 seconds later, crossing the line in 34:58 to take 8th place.
It was 12 seconds off the time he produced at the Great Bristol Run 10k the previous weekend but it was a much better paced run from Adam. He hadn’t gone out too quickly and spent the rest of the race suffering this time.
He may not have realised it at that time but Stu had finished six seconds behind his main rival for 3rd place in the Hampshire Road Race League individual standings. That was Will Pannell of City of Salisbury and he sealed 6th place in 34:39.
After finishing higher than Will at the Alton 10, Stu had given himself a chance of claiming a top three place behind Harry Smith and Rob McTaggart. Unfortunately he won’t be competing at the Alresford 10k though since he’s doing the Giant’s Head Marathon the day before so the Lordshill 10k will be his last chance to boost his score.
Starting off a little too far back, Rich got held up slightly when they got onto the narrow path through the woods. With the hill to contend, he managed a 6:09 for his first mile before getting into his stride and delivering a 5:42 for his second mile split.
On the third mile though, his watch seemed to lose GPS as he was going through the woods and was showing a much slower pace than he was actually going at. From that point on he didn’t trust his watch as he thought the distance and the mile pace could be wrong so it was now just about doing the best he could and judging the effort level according to what felt right.
When he got onto the third lap he started emptying the tank and putting absolutely everything into it. Seeing the distance markers saying 7km and 8km, he knew he didn’t have far to go, but each kilometre seemed to last forever.
Making it to the finish line in 36:40, Rich was extremely relieved to get there and was pleased with the time he’d produced. It put him in 17th place and 4th in the M40 category. His lap times were actually very even, with his first and second laps both coming in at 11:30, even though the first lap was a bit longer. Then he upped it to 11:28 for his 3rd lap, making it a pretty well paced run with an average pace of 3:40 per kilometre.
After a good rest following his monumental marathon performance at Boston, Barry Dolman had a couple of weeks rest before getting back to training. It wasn’t long before he’d secured a new parkrun PB of 17:41 at Poole and he should now start to reap the benefits of the tremendous block of marathon training he put in.
Like Rich, Barry may also have lost GPS going through the woods on the third mile so he didn’t get the correct distance coming up at the end. None of his lap times seemed to register either for some reason but he completed the course in 37:29 which put him in 27th place.
With an average pace of 3:45 per kilometre, it was enough to seal 1st place in the M50 category for Barry. He received a bar of Toney’s chocolate for that at the prize presentation afterwards. As fourth scorer, Barry had completed the scoring team for the Bournemouth AC men.
Zak Preston paced his run better than any of the other Bournemouth AC members. He went through the first lap at 4:30 per kilometre, the second lap at 4:30 per kilometre and the third at 4:34 per kilometre.
With a finishing time of 45:41, Zak came in 164th out of the 520 participants in the race. Aiming for a sub 50 minute time, he had emphatically beaten his target so it was a very pleasing result in that respect.
Stu’s wife Anna was competing at the Netley 10k as well and she got round in 49:32 which put her in 230th place overall. She was 44th out of 233 women and 9th out of 24 in the F35 category. That was despite doing a very long run a couple of days before the race took place.
Like Stu, Anna will be taking on the Giants Head Marathon next weekend so she has been training hard in preparation for that. The Giants Head Marathon is over 28 miles and features many testing climbs so that will certainly put Anna through her paces.
The winner of the race was Winchester & District man Chris Powner who rocketed round in a flabbergasting fast time of 32:50. That gave him an advantage of over a minute on his nearest rival Christopher Newnham of Ryde Harriers who got round in 33:57.
Simon Pilcher of Vectis Academy took 3rd place in 34:26 although he wasn’t a scorer for the league. David Coak of Totten was next over the line, completing the course in 34:30, with Joe Driscoll of Winchester & District taking 5th place in 34:33.
Dave Hunt was Ryde Harriers’ second finisher in the top ten when he crossed the line in 35:27. Winchester & District had their third man in before Rich Brawn reached the finish and that was David Comb who took 15th place in 36:28.
Completing the scoring team for Winchester & District’s A-team, David Gaskell made it to the line just six seconds ahead of Barry to take 25th place. That meant it was Winchester & District who were the lowest scoring team in the league for the Netley 10k race.
Bournemouth AC were the second lowest though and that meant they were easily the lowest scoring third division team. City of Salisbury were the next lowest scoring team in the league and they were the only other team to get under 100.
Winchester & District had already been confirmed as league champions anyway and City of Salisbury had already sealed 2nd place. Lordshill were in 3rd in the first division with Alton Runners in 4th, both for the Netley 10k and the league standings for the season.
With their sixth victory of the season, Ryde Harriers took top spot in the second division and now need just one more result to be confirmed as champions. They will then be promoted to the top division next season along with either Hardley or Andover.
Itchen Spitfires were 2nd at the Netley 10k, proving that on the rare occasion that they do get a team together, they can do pretty well.
Portsmouth Joggers took 2nd place in the third division for the Netley 10k, with Netley Abbey coming 3rd and Isle of Wight Road Runners in 4th. It was a sixth league win of the season for Bournemouth AC and like Ryde Harriers, they just need one more result to be confirmed as third division champions.
That will likely come at the Alresford 10k when Rob McTaggart will be back in action along with Rich, Barry and Adam. David Pinney is also in the line up and there might even be a rare race appearance from captain marvel himself, Rich Nelson.
Winchester & District wonder woman Tamsin Anderson was 1st female in the Netley 10k, crossing the line shortly after Barry to claim 29th place overall in 37;34. Nikki Moxham of Gosport was 2nd female and 33rd overall in 38:07. Holly Newton of Ryde Harriers finished as 3rd placed female in 38:28.
Alex Lane of Winchester & District was 4th female in 38:40 which put her in 43rd place overall. She came in just one second ahead of Emma Montiel of City of Portsmouth who was 5th female and 44th overall in 38:41.
Karla Borland of Winchester & District was 6th female in 39:43 and 65th overall. Sarah Gurney rounded off the scoring team for Winchester & District, finishing as 8th female and 76th overall in 40:37.
Winchester & District had now won nine out of the ten races so far this season in the Ladies A team league. Lordshill came 2nd and they will claim the runner up spot in the first division this season.
Overton were the lowest scoring side in the second division with Liss taking 2nd place but Liss topped the standings in the division still. Ryde will need pull something out of the bag in the last two races to stop them winning it but it looks likely both teams will be promoted.
It was a win for Portsmouth Joggers in the third division but they had already been confirmed as champions at the Alton 10 when City of Portsmouth didn’t field a team.
Winchester & District had the lowest scoring men’s B team, with Lordshill in 2nd and that was exactly how it was in the standings for the league. Totten were the lowest scorers in the 2nd division and they now need just one more result to be confirmed as second division champions.
Winchester & District C team topped the standings as well at the Netley 10k ahead of Lordshill C team even though Winchester C team had already been confirmed as champions.
The Lordshill B team were the lowest scorers in the Netley 10k and that strengthened their position at the top of the ladies first division ahead of of Totten who could only manage 5th.
So the yellow and blues will almost certainly be popping the champagne at the Alresford 10k. Then they’ll have one more fixture left of the season and that will be the Lordshill 10k which seems to have garnered quite a lot of interest in the camp with at least 14 members having signed up.
That will hopefully be Bournemouth AC’s last ever fixture as a third division club. They will be looking to rise up to the top division and won’t be expecting to find themselves in the bottom tier ever again.