Chris O'Brien in the Wimborne 10

Chris O’Brien was one of three Bournemouth AC men in action at the Wimborne 10

Many famous names from the past, and indeed the present, have trod the famous Wimborne 10 ‘out and back with a loop’ route. The history of the race and Bournemouth AC‘s affinity with it goes quite some way back. In fact, Bournemouth AC man Tony Chutter was victorious, all the way back in 1999. Mark Hargreaves won it in 2001 and 2002, posting a time of 52:47 in the latter.

Steve Way and Jon Sharkey picked up a joint victory back in 2009 and Poole Runners man George Miller won it for three consecutive years after that. Ant Clark was first to the finish back in 2014 and Rob McTaggart claimed the victory in 2016 before returning to win it again in 2021. Craig Palmer also topped the standings one year, back in 2017.

The fastest time ever produced in the race though was 51:37, set by Williard Chinhanhu of Poole Runners in 2007. With a £500 bounty on offer, many runners had tried to beat that ever since then but had all fallen short. Every year though, the prize money pot was up for grabs.

With out the attraction of it being a league race this time round there was a little less focus and hype around it. There was still three Bournemouth AC members on the start line though, with seasoned veterans Sanjai Sharma and Chris O’Brien being enjoyed by the super quick Ryan Pegoraro.

Completing the Run to the Sea 50k ultramarathon the previous month, as well as a couple of the Wessex Cross Country League fixtures would have likely put Chris O’Brien in reasonable shape for the Wimborne 10.

Sanjai had been training regularly with the club in Tuesday and Thursday evenings but had missed a couple of the races he was supposed to be doing over the Autumn. One of those was the New Forest 10 which was cancelled due to flooding. The other was the Hayling 10 which he was going to do instead but after being in the Netherlands the day before and getting back late, he was too tired to do it in the end. Hence the Wimborne 10 was a good back up option.

Out of action for a lot of the summer due to a sciatica problem, Ryan had got been back running for a couple of months. He’d been in action in the Hampshire Cross Country League race at Popham Airfields the weekend before the Wimborne 10 and had also featured in the one before that at Wellesley Woods in Aldershot.

The lead group in the Wimborne 10

Jonathan Cornish (76) was a man on a mission, driving the pace of the lead group

The field for the Wimborne 10 was pretty strong, with a handful of high quality runners coming from far and wide for the taste of the action. Perhaps they all fancied their chances at the £500 loot. City off Salisbury man Jaymee Domoney had been producing some fine performances of late, including a 2nd place finish in the Run Bournemouth Half Marathon, a race which he won the previous year. He also won the Overton 5 race in 2022.

Daniel Mulryan of Thames Valley Harriers was a top runner, capable of some very quick times and Mark Duffett of Wells City Harriers and Nathan Williams of Vale Royal AC both had bags of ability.

There were also some fine athletes from the local scene in the mix as well, including Thomas Corbin and Luke Terry of Poole AC. Jez Bragg and Lee Dempster of Twemlow Track Club were also featuring.

The Wimborne 10 is a relatively quick course but it does contain a couple of fairly demanding inclines and one of them is right near the end, making for a tough last mile. The first mile is quite quick though as the runners head down the hill that they’ll be going up at the end.

Group with Jez Bragg, Rob Doubleday and Ryan Pegoraro

Ryan Pegoraro in the blue vest behind Jez Bragg and Robert Doubleday

Having got back into a fairly decent shape quite quickly since his injury, Ryan raced to a 5:24 for his first mile split. The course levels out for a couple of miles after that and Ryan produced a 5:41 for his next mile, followed by a 5:52 for his third.

After that it’s time to head onto the loop which begins with a testing incline. Ryan worked his way up it well though, registering a 6:03 for his fourth mile. Then its a descent back down on the fifth mile which Ryan got through in 5:48. He was now half way there.

Posting a 5:55 for his sixth mile, he then pushed on strongly for next few miles as he completed the loop and headed back towards the finish. Registering a 5:49 for his seventh mile, he then cranked it up to a 5:41 for his eighth and a 5:46 for his ninth. Had he saved enough in the tank for the final climb though? The answer was a definite yes and managed to keep the pace relatively high, ending with a 6:03 split.

That was enough to see Ryan finish in a superb time of 58:16 which netted him a top ten finish. That was a good achievement, given the standard of the field up near the front. His average pace for the run was 5:48 which is excellent given that there’s close to 400ft of elevation.

Chris O'Brien competing in the Wimborne 10

Chris O’Brien made a fast start but was determined to keep it going

Deciding to attack it from the outset, Chris O’Brien was cooking on gas, recording a 6:05 for his first mile. He settled into the rhythm after that and kept it going well. Chris has had difficulty breathing ever since catching covid over two years ago and suffering some long term effects. The hills he found challenging because of his breathing and it was quite a windy day which also presented difficulties.

Chris O'Brien heading down the finishing straight

Chris heads down the tree-laden finishing straight

There was even a section of the course which was flooded which kept it interesting. Chris tackled it with aplomb though and reached the finish line in 1:05:43. That put him 47th overall out of 376 participants and 5th in the M50 category. His average pace for the run was 6:27.

It was five years on from the last time Sanjai competed in the Wimborne 10. He was first in his age category that day in just under 61 minutes. He’s not quite as quick as that these days but can often still vie for supremacy in his category.

Sanjai Sharma in the Wimborne 10

Sanjai Sharma had clocked some very good Wimborne 10 times in previous years

Clocking a time of 1:09:26, Sanjai came in in 78th place and was 3rd in the Male 60 category. He was a little disappointed with that result as he had been hoping for faster but when he arrived back home to his new granddaughter, it soon put things into perspective. Running times are not the be all and end all but Sanjai is still competing at a very high level for his age and still has plenty to play for going forwards.

Sanjai Sharma pressing on in the Wimborne 10

Sanjai did well to finish under 70 minutes

At the front of the field though, something very special had taken place and that involved Hercules Wimbledon star Jonathan Cornish. He’s ranked in the top hundred runners in the country and showed why as he ripped round the course in an astonishing time of 50:34. He’d only gone and beaten that long standing course recording and scooped for £500 jackpot. In fact, he’d smashed it by over a minute!!

Jonathan Cornish leading the Wimborne 10

Jonathan Cornish was too fast, even for the lead bike

That put him well clear of anyone else, with Daniel Mulryan the next man to arrive at the line in 52:17, with Jaymee Domoney having the settle for third in 52:45. Mark Duffett was the fouth man in in under 53 minutes, registering a time of 52:50. Nathan Williams took 5th place in 53:40, with Thomas Corbin the first local man to reach the line. He netted a time of 56:03.

Jez Bragg came in 7th in 57:42 and was first vet. Benjamin Gibbons of Poole AC and his teammate Luke Terry taking 8th and 9th in 58:08 and 58:09. Egdon Heath Harriers man Jonathan Churchill finished 11th in 59:08 and Rob Doubleday of Poole AC was the final man to get in under the hour. He crossed the line in 59:22.

Jonathan Cornish crosses the line and breaks the course record

Jonathan crosses the line and breaks the course record

Gill Pearson of Running for Time was first female, completing the course in 1:03:12 which put her 27th overall. Molly Rasch of Dorset Doddlers wasn’t far behind though, getting to the line in 30th place in 1:03:30. Louise Mills of Woking AC was third female and 35th overall in just over 1 hour 4 minutes.

Chris O'Brien in action at the Wimborne 10

Chris ran well and was pleased with his performance

Ryan and Sanjai both had some interesting half marathons in the pipeline, with Ryan doing one in Málaga and Sanjai heading out to Singapore for his. Due to the heat and humidity, the Singapore Half Marathon started at 4:30am, so that was set to be a race that differed significantly to any he had done before.

Sanjai Sharma with his granddaughter

Seeing his granddaughter put everything in perspective for Sanjai

Jonathan Cornish tearing up the course record

Jonathan Cornish made history with his incredible 50:34 time