You probably have to go back to around the 2016 era to find the last time Bournemouth AC were truly dominant in local races and monopolising all the top positions. That was the era when Steve Way was still flying, Jon Sharkey was at the top his game and Pete Thompson, Jacek Cieluszecki and Toby Chapman were all exhibiting fine form. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for the club to occupy the top three or four positions in races.
Then going back a bit further there was the golden era of Steve Way, Ian Habgood and Simon Munro. The club has been blessed with so many top of range athletes over the years.
Times have changed though and it has been a little different over recent years. We saw the uprising of Poole AC, where they really began to challenge the club’s dominance and push them all the way for the Dorset Road Race League crown. And more recently there has been the emergence of Egdon Heath Harriers and the wealthy pool of talent they have at their disposal.
The added competition has certainly made it more difficult for Bournemouth AC athletes to excel in the way that they used to. But in the current crop, there is still that same essence of raw talent and top level performers within the ranks. It’s now more the factor of getting them all together that proves difficult.
When the Purbeck 10k was taken out of the equation on the Dorset Road Race League fixture list though, it created an opening for a different race to be ushered in to fill the void. That was how the offering of a one-off, summer special edition of the Round the Lakes 10k came about.
Being held at Poole Park, over the very same ground as the notoriously fast Poole parkrun, the Round the Lakes 10k generated a real buzz of excitement around the camp. The prospect a fresh new race on the calendar sparked a lot of interest and the entries poured in in droves. Could this be the race that brings the glory days back for Bournemouth AC?
Although it was a strong field, there was one clear favourite for the race win and that was Harry Smith. After he had galloped round the Kempton Park racing course for an incredible 31:21 PB, he was clearly going to take some beating.
He’d also been responsible for that amazing 14:48 time at Poole parkrun toward the beginning of the year which turned out to be the quickest parkrun in the country on the day. Hence he had proven pedigree on that very course.
Harry was part of a formidable looking Bournemouth AC outfit that also included decorated stars Rob McTaggart, who had previously recorded some very good sub 32-minute 10ks, and Ant Clark, who finished 2nd in the Puddletown Plod Half Marathon the previous weekend. It also marked a return to race action for Rob Spencer – the man who produced that phenomenal sub 31-minute 10k at the Speedway in Chepstow.
The club were dealt a bit of blow when Elliott Robertson was forced to pull out of the race due to a knee complaint but fortunately Szymon Chojnacki stepped in to replace him. Szymon was also well capable of a quick time as he proved when he won the Supersonic 10k at the Run Bournemouth event in 34:38.
There were also several other good understudies in the squad who were more than capable of finishing well up in the field, including Rich Brawn, Sam Jackson and Dan Trickett.
They even had a fairly strong looking female line-up as well, with Caitlin Peers in action on the weekend for she jetted off to Canada for the World Triathlon Championships. She would be competing for Great Britain there in one of the age group races, as well as in the relay the day after.
She was joined by Tamzin Petersen and Jola Dewerenda, along with Julia Austin and Heather Khoshnevis, amongst others, giving them plenty of squad depth to play with.
Of course, it wasn’t only BAC members who were capable of challenging for top honours. Leader of the women’s individual table in the DRRL, Mollie Rasch was also on the start line, as were Poole Runners pair Vicki Ingham and Lauren Baker-Little. There was also an appearance from former BAC member, Gemma Bragg, who now represents Twemlow Track Club.
As for the men, Poole AC super-vet Brian Underwood was certainly a threat, as were Twemlow Track Club men Jez Bragg and Harry Lauste. Martyn Bell of Egdon Heath Harriers and Dion Garner of Poole Runners were also in the mix.
As soon as the race started, Harry Smith broke off the front of the pack. He was thinking he might be in with a shout of bettering his Kempton Park time but he knew he needed to be going at a very fast pace to do it.
The conditions weren’t perfect on the day as it was a tad blustery but it was much cooler than it had been during the week leading up to it so that was probably a good thing.
When the runners were coming round the side of the lake though the wind was quite noticeable and inevitably caused the pace to drop a touch. The chasing pack behind Harry included Tag, Rob Spencer, Ant Clark and Szymon. It was beginning to look like an impressive show of dominance from the yellow and blues.
Realising that he wasn’t going to be on for a PB, Harry went into cruise control. Still travelling at a very quick pace though, he was able to maintain a healthy gap over his nearest rivals whilst relaxing and enjoying the run.
Rob Spencer and Tag were looking like they were going to be the ones battling it out for 2nd place but they were almost a minute behind Harry. Getting to the line a time of 32:20, it was comfortable win in the end for Harry and another highlight to add to his impressive recent record.
Outkicking Spence in the final stages of the race, it was Tag who sealed the runner up spot in a time of 33:17, with Spence following over the line in 33:20.
Poole parkrun regular Thomas Corbin was the next man over the line, recording a time of 33:25, although he isn’t affiliated to any club so didn’t impact the Dorset Road Race League standings.
Harry Lauste arrived seconds later to claim 5th place on the leaderboard in a time of 33:28 before Brian Underwood filtered in to claim the prize for 1st M40, getting round in 33:49.
Ant Clark made it four Bournemouth AC men in out of the top 7 when he crossed the line in 34:38, keeping within his designated heart rate zone as he continues his Comrades Marathon training.
Martyn Bell gave Egdon Heath Harriers their first finisher when he arrived at the finish to register an excellent time of 34:49, putting him in 8th position. That was just enough to edge out Poole Runners man Dion Garner who was 9th in 34:51.
Completing the top ten, as well as the scoring team of five for Bournemouth AC was Szymon Chojnacki and he clocked in at 34:58. It was an extremely dominant display from Bournemouth AC and it was almost a throwback to the glory days of yesteryear.
Poole AC man Luke Terry was next over the line, recording a time of 35:08 to take 11th place. Then it was Steven Rigby of Twemlow Track Club who arrived in 12th in a time of 35:29.
One of the surprise packages of the day was Dan Trickett, who had clearly been on the raisons that morning. He pulled up alongside Rich Brawn at around four-and-a-half miles and Rich wasn’t expecting to see him there.
He tried to stay with him for a bit but soon realised that Dan was going too quickly and he had to let him go. He couldn’t afford to risk red lining and having nothing left for the last mile.
Dan continued to work his way up the field, claiming at least six more places before getting to line in a time of 35:35. He’d even managed to get past Jez Bragg in the end, relegating him to 14th place and finishing two seconds ahead of him. It was a tremendous run from Dan and could perhaps even be classed as a breakthrough performance.
Jay Dunn of Wimborne AC was 1st under 20 male, crossing the line in 35:45 which put him in 15th place.
Setting off at a supersonic speed, there was never a threat of any of the other women in the race catching Vicki Ingham and she got to the line in a magnificent time of 35:56 to take 1st female spot and 18th overall.
Behind her, Rich Brawn was embroiled in a battle of the writers between himself and Running Nose author Steve Cook. Steve edged in front of Rich as they went round the cycle track for the final time and it looked like he was going to come out on top.
When he got to the top corner of the track though, Rich looked at his watch and saw it just ticking over 25 minutes. At that point, he realised there was a chance he could get under 36 minutes. But he was going to have to go some to do it.
He put his foot down and went for it and after rounding the final corner, he sprinted for the line, desperately watching the seconds tick down. In the end he just made it, clocking a chip time of 35:59 which put him in 19th place. He’d put everything he had into that final push so was relieved it had paid off.
Steve Cook had also bagged himself a new PB, with an official time of 36 minutes exactly. It was also enough to see him claim the prize for 1st M50, just ahead of John Bassinder of Poole AC who was the next man over the line in 36:06.
Adrian James had been running with Rich for the first half of the race and as a result, had run his fastest ever 5k. He struggled to keep it going over the second half of the race though and lost a few places, finishing in 27th place in the end in a time of 36:48.
It was still a good performance from Adrian though and considering he’s quite new to running and is still very much learning the ropes. What it did underline though is the great potential he has to go on become a huge success.
Another BAC member who has been improving rapidly over recent times is Matt du Cros and he turned in an excellent display to finish in a new PB of 36:52. That put him in 30th place in the overall standings.
It was another league appearance for Jon Sharkey, following up on his run at the Puddletown Plod the previous weekend. He finished in 31st place recording a time of 37:05 and it was great to have Sharkey back in the group after being off the racing scene for quite a while.
After Vicki Ingham’s explosive display, Mollie Rasch had to be content with the 2nd lady position this time round but it was still a good result for her and could only serve to boost her prospects of winning the individual crown.
Finishing in 37:11, she came in 33rd overall, just one second ahead of Trev Elkins who was the next BAC man home. It was a fantastic PB of 37:12 for Trev, although it wasn’t quite a sub-37 that he wanted. It was very close though and the course did come up slightly long which didn’t help matters. Nevertheless, it was a strong run for Trev though and put him in 34th place overall.
Crossing the line just a second after Trev, Barry Dolman also bagged himself a terrific new PB of 37:13. That was enough to see him finish ahead of the likes of Paul Hilton from Lytchett Manor Striders and Andy Leggott from Lonely Goat and put Barry in 35th place.
Making his 10k debut, Hugo Richardson paced his run pretty well to finish in a time of 37:47, which put him in 42nd place and saw him come as 2nd Under 20 male.
Curtis Doherty was the fifth man over the line for Poole AC so that completed their scoring team of five. He finished 43rd in a a time of 38:04 which put Poole AC in 2nd place for the fixture in the men’s first division.
Brandon King finished 47th and that completed the Egdon Heath Harriers scoring team of five. Of course, it wasn’t enough to come close to challenging Bournemouth AC on the day but it was enough to see them finish as 3rd placed team for the fixture.
Poole AC woman Emily Hilliar was 3rd placed female, crossing the line in 38:35 and that put her in 48th place overall.
After having his hopes of a sub 40-minute 10k dashed by Gordon’s Zigzag in the Bournemouth Bay Run 10k, Paddy McCallister was hoping this could be his day. And it was! Recording a superb new PB of 38:48, it was an impressive run Paddy and what’s more, it was all him this time as well.
Poole Runners star Lauren Baker-Little was 4th placed female, and 1st over 35, getting round in 39:06. That put her in 53rd place overall
The next familiar face to arrive at the line from the yellow and blue ranks was Robin Copestick, who registered a time of 39:21. He was aiming for a sub 40 so as far as Robin was concerned, it was mission accomplished and, to be fair, it never really looked in any doubt. That put him in 55th place overall.
As always, Stephen Hogarth of Poole AC was 1st over 60 man in. He crossed the line in a fantastic time of 39:40, proving he’s still in very good shape. That was enough to give him 59th place in the overall standings.
After a run that he felt was a little below par at the Puddletown Plod the weekend before, Luke Jackson redeemed himself with an excellent run that was him secure a time of 40:01. It was very nearly a sub-40 for Luke and certainly a vast improvement on his run the previous weekend, putting him in 68th place overall.
Unfortunately Luke’s brother Sam wasn’t having such a good day and was forced to abandon the race early on. It was disappointing for Sam as he is going for a win in the 45-49 category in the Dorset Road Race League for the season. It wasn’t the end of the world though as it’s counted on a runner’s best seven races, so it shouldn’t have done his prospects of winning that category too much harm.
Completing the course in 40:42, Gemma Bragg was the 5th female to reach the finish, even though she’d been up late partying the night before. She was placed 72nd overall.
The next lady to arrive was BAC team captain Caitlin Peers. With her impending Triathlon World Championships the following weekend, she coasted round in a time of 41:10, which saw her finish as 6th female and 76th overall. All that mattered to her really though was that she got round in one piece and didn’t over exert herself, with an event of such huge importance on the horizon.
Trying out a swish pair of new Hokas, Adrian Townsend was the next BAC man over the line, completing the course in 41:42 which put him in 82nd place. That was a fairly decent run from Adrian considering he’d been in action in the Puddletown Plod Half Marathon the previous weekend.
Since she started training with the club Jola Dewerenda has seen some vast improvements to her times and she was hoping to get in under 45 minutes. She did that comfortably in the end, clocking a time of 43:42 which meant she was 15th fastest female and 6th over 35. In the overall standings, she came 98th.
Next to finish in the fabled yellow and blue vest and completing the scoring team for Bournemouth AC, it was Tamzin Petersen. She struggled a bit when confronted with the headwind round the side of the lake since she’s quite small and lightweight. That didn’t stop her putting in a good performance overall though and she was 20th placed female in 45:45 and 116th in the overall standings.
That was enough to see them finish 3rd for the fixture, behind Poole AC who were 2nd and Poole Runners who picked up the win. The Egdon Heath Harriers trio could only manage 5th place which won’t have helped their quest for first division championship. After winning the previous four races though, they were still in the healthy position at the top of the table, but with Poole Runners hot on their heels.
Reaching the line shortly after Tamzin was her Bournemouth AC teammate Jud Kirk, who registered a time of 46:06 to take 4th in the M60 category and 119th on the overall listing.
Coming in in as 26th placed lady and 4th in the F55 category, Julia Austin crossed the line in a time of 47:35. That put her in 132nd position overall.
Just one week on from her epic Dartmoor Discovery adventure which she ran 32 miles in, Heather Khoshnevis was back in action at Round the Lakes. Her commitment to the cause certainly cannot be faulted and she was 27th placed lady and 5th in the F55 category with her time of 48:11.
That put her in 136th position overall. Heather is currently top of the chart in the ladies 60-64 category and she certainly wasn’t going to be relinquishing that status any time soon.
Bournemouth AC team captain Rich Nelson had recently acquired a pair of Nike Next Percenters and he was hoping they would help him kick his running back into gear after suffering some ongoing injuries.
The day before the race he’d been to try and them out and ran a 22 minute 5k which is a lot faster than any time he’d posted recently before that. Unfortunately it had left him with some tight muscles ahead of the Round the Lakes race though.
Finding it very tough going, Rich managed to get round in a time of 49:02 which put him 140th overall and 25th in the M50 category. Unfortunately, rather than inspiring him to want to race again, it reminded him of exactly why he doesn’t race very often any more.
Making her Bournemouth AC debut, Ella Preston had an excellent to secure herself a new 10k PB of 49:24. That put her 8th in the senior female category and 28th woman to reach the finish. In the overall standings, she was 143rd.
Next in for BAC, it was the ever green Lea Lohk, who completed the course in 50:34. That put her 6th in the F55 category and made her 30th lady over the line. In the overall standings, she came 150th.
Running with her dad, Ian du Cros, Lucy Ralph was the next Bournemouth AC member to arrive at the finish. She clocked a time of 51:37 which put her 158th in the overall standings. In the senior female category though, she was 9th and out of all the women in the race, she came 33rd.
Lucy is of course the sister of Matt du Cros and also the sister of Holly, who has also been coming to the BAC training sessions a lot recently. As well as doing this race, their dad Ian does parkrun most weekends, so they are certainly a family of running enthusiasts.
Completing the course in 53:12, Nikki Whittaker was 11th in the senior female category and 37th lady. Although it wasn’t quite as quick as her Round the Lakes effort on Boxing Day when she clocked a 51:12, she was still fairly pleased with the run after not having much sleep the previous night. She came in 164th overall.
Shortly afterwards, Helen Ambrosen arrived to claim victory in the F65+ category, getting round in a time of 53:44. That put her 39th out of all the ladies in the race and 167th overall.
Helen had featured in all the recent league matches, including the May 5 and the Puddletown Plod which took place the previous weekend. She also qualified to run for England in the age group marathon championships by running a 4.20.50 at the Milton Keynes Marathon a couple of months ago.
Having not been in top form of late, Louise Price found it pretty tough going and felt like she had nothing in the legs. She was still 11th in the F45 category though and 44th placed female with her time of 54:04. That put her in 171st place overall.
In truth, Lou is more of a cold weather, winter runner though and doesn’t really favour the warmer climate. She still enjoyed the event though and was happy to see everyone.
The final Bournemouth AC member to arrive at the finish was Mike White who got to the line in 56:23. That put him 42nd in the M40 category and 179th overall.
The team prize for the race itself was awarded to the top three runners from a club, so after finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd – Harry, Tag and Rob Spencer scooped that.
Interestingly, the second best trio of runners from the same club was Ant Clark, Szymon Chojnacki and Dan Trickett, thus underlining what a hugely successful race it had been for them.
Perhaps this race could indeed be a catalyst for the return of the glory days for Bournemouth AC. With their new subscription to the Hampshire Road Race League in place, there were certainly some exciting times to come for the club as they looked to broaden their competition horizons.
First though, they will still need to put in a performance at the Portland 10 to prevent Egdon Heath Harriers from confirming themselves as league champions for the season. It was going to be a big ask but with serial Portland race winner Jacek Cieluszecki back in the fold for BAC, it certainly isn’t over till it’s over.