After a disappointing day in the previous race at Round the Rock, the Hoburne 5 represented Poole AC’s last real roll of the dice in their bid to reprise the Dorset Road Race League Men’s First Division title from the jaws of Bournemouth AC with just four fixtures remaining.
After emerging victorious from their previous three clashes; the Portland 10, the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon and Round the Rock, Bournemouth AC had put themselves into a very strong position to reclaim the crown they lost to Poole AC last season. But it wasn’t over yet. It was still all the play for and the Hoburne 5 represented a massive opportunity for both clubs to make a statement.
Poole AC block-booked five places which they planned to hand out to their top five runners to ensure they had their best available team for the five-mile maraud round Christchurch from Hoburne Holiday Park.
Conscious of the threat to their commanding lead, Bournemouth AC looked to assemble a strong squad that would be capable of mixing it with Poole AC’s finest. Team captain Rich Nelson worked his magic to register a star-studded lineup for BAC, including a rare appearance on the road for Josh King and, returning to competitive action after a long time out following the birth of his son Ruben, the legend that is, Jon Sharkey.
With the likes of Brian Underwood, Chris Alborough, Gareth Alan-Williams and Adam Conroy all down on the list for Poole AC, it was sure to be a tight contest.
After sealing a terrific victory in the Ladies First Division in the previous fixture at Round the Rock, BAC were hoping for something of a renaissance over the backend of the season and had also managed to assemble a strong line-up to tackle the Hoburne 5.
There was a blow for BAC in the build-up to the race when Harriet Slade was forced to pull out through injury. That meant, after a very short time back on the running circuit after giving birth, Emma Caplan, formerly known as Emma Dews, was drafted in as a late replacement.
It was much earlier than Emma had anticipated she would be returning to competitive action, as she was planning to make her comeback in the first Hampshire Cross Country League fixture at Kings Park in two weeks’ time. Recruiting Emma to the team for the Hoburne 5 would later turn out to be a masterstroke by captain Rich though.
As the runners lined up on the start-line there was an air of tension as they waited anxiously to get the race underway. After a slightly prolonged wait whilst one of the race organisers gave a speech that seemed to take an age, they were on their way.
The race began with a lap around the perimeter of the holiday park before heading out onto the road. It was a very fast mile, with those at the front taking off at breakneck speed to get into a good position before turning round the corners.
In the first mile it was Iain Trickett of Dorset Doddlers and Josh Cole of BAC who were out front. It wasn’t the first time those two have been involved in a dual at the front of the race. They also did battle at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon in August, where Iain came out on top, beating Josh into 2nd place.
At the end of the first mile though, Iain managed to drop Josh and from that point on, there was only going to be one winner.
After the early hurtle of the first mile, the hills began to come into play, putting those who had set off too quickly into real difficulty. In fact, the second mile contained its fair share of undulations and, in a change of course from previous years, it even veered off the road at one stage and started to go through a woodland path which was followed by a field.
Soon it was back on road though, but some further inclines toward the end of the mile made a bit of a pace killer. For the next couple of miles, it was predominantly a case of trying to get the pace back on track, but there were a lot of turns on the course, making it difficult to gather momentum.
Fortunately, in the last mile of the race there was quite a lot of downhill which lent itself to a fast finish, enabling some of the lost time of the previous three miles to be retrieved. In fact, the finish was on a downhill section that led straight to the finish line. There was no lap round the holiday park at the end this time like there was two years ago. That caught some of the runners by surprise if they hadn’t scoped out the finish beforehand.
By the time they got to the fourth mile, Iain had fairly unassailable lead of Josh, who was still in 2nd place. At one stage, fellow Bournemouth AC man Josh King started to close in on Josh Cole and looked like he was launching a pursuit for 2nd place. Unfortunately for Josh King, he then got a stitch which forced him to slow down, allowing Josh Cole to pull away.
Crossing the line in a superb time of 25:28, Iain cruised in for the win. It was the third Dorset Road Race League fixture in a row he’d claimed the victory in, sealing a happy hat-trick. Josh Cole arrived at the finish just over a minute later, posting a time of 26:33.
It was a pleasing performance from Josh, especially as he’d run the Bristol Half Marathon the previous weekend, racing round in a stunning time of 1:10:36. Understandably, his legs were still a little saw from that so he wasn’t sure what kind of performance he was going to be able to produce. Thankfully for BAC though, it was a good one.
Reaching the line just 18 seconds later, Josh King took 3rd place, registering a still very impressive time of 26:51. Josh tends to focus more on his track running and cross-country, so it’s always good to see him out there doing well in a road race and making it all look so easy.
Running superbly well in his comeback to the racing circuit, Jon Sharkey finished in 11th place with a time of 27:29. Sharkey has only quite recently started finding the time to get out and train again on a more regular basis and has been doing some decent runs in practice.
It will be difficult for him to get back to his best form until he’s able to get a bit more mileage in but this was certainly a good solid base to work from for Sharkey.
Following in immediately after Sharkey in a time of 27:32 was László Tóth. László has been grafting extremely hard in training lately in a bid to grind his times down.
That has resulted him securing an 800m PB of 2:04.9, a 1500m best of 4:24.3 and a stunning mile time of 4 minutes 43 seconds which he did in the SOAR Summer Mile at the Olympic Park.
He’s also managed a sub-17-minute parkrun at Bournemouth and a best ever time of 16:27 which he recorded at Poole. It was no surprise then that his time at the Hoburne 5 was his quickest ever for a five mile race and he just seems to keep going from strength to strength.
Really though, it turned out to be Craig Palmer who actually saved the day for BAC. Craig had turned up with a raging hangover after getting in at 3am the night before.
To his credit though, he somehow managed to get up and drag himself onto the start-line. He was still feeling quite rough at that point so wasn’t expecting the produce anything special.
At the end of the fourth mile, Craig was in 10th place. He then decided to put the hammer down. Overtaking five of his rivals, including four Poole AC runners, he clocked a 5:04 last mile to steam into 4th place on the leaderboard, finishing in a time of 26:57.
It was a quite incredible turn of pace and with Chris Alborough, Gareth Alan-Williams, Brian Underwood and Adam Conroy taking the next four places, it was an absolutely crucial move from Craig that tilted race in Bournemouth AC’s favour in the Dorset Road Race League.
It wasn’t the first time Craig has done that for BAC either. In the previous fixture at the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon, Craig and Dave Long turned up last minute, once again feeling the effects from the night before but managing to pull together a good enough run to ensure Bournemouth AC came away with maximum points.
Achieving his goal of a sub-28-minute finish, Sean Edwards crossed the line in 14th place, registering a time of 27:53. It was the first PB Sean has recorded for quite a while so he was very happy about that.
He came in just after his former Lytchett Manor Striders teammate Lee Dempster, who also secured a terrific new PB, clocking a time of 27:38.
Taking 17th place on the day was Stu Nicholas, who didn’t have the best of days, crossing the line in a time of 28:25. Having been suffering from a cold the past few days, Stu wasn’t feeling in top condition for the race anyway.
He ended up going out a little too hard in the first mile and suffering for the rest of the race as a consequence. It’s always tough to get the race strategy right for a 5 miler. Every runner knows what pace they are capable of sustaining in a 5k and a 10k race. But with 5 miles, it’s kind of between the two, making it hard to gage.
The next BAC member over the line was Graeme Miller, who 39th place in a time of 30:08. Graeme had been hoping to get a sub-30-minute finish so was a little disappointed with his performance.
He hasn’t been able to do as much running as he would have liked out the past few months though so it’s not surprising that he wasn’t at his absolute best. It was still a decent run though, given that it wasn’t easy to do a quick time on that particular course.
Taking 45th place in the standings in a time of 30:37 was Rich Brawn. Rich had also been hoping for a sub-30-minute time having been seeing some great signs of improvement over recent months.
Securing a new parkrun PB of 17:54 a couple of weeks ago, as well as a 10k PB at Round the Rock and a half marathon PB at Sturminster Newton, Rich had been hitting some good form in the lead up to the race.
He thought it might be possible to run sub-6-minute miles for the duration of the race but the hills in the second mile put pay to that plan. In fact, he found the third and fourth miles were also quite up and down as well and with the constant turning round different corners he wasn’t able to go at the pace he had been hoping to in those miles either.
The first and last mile salvaged the time a bit for Rich though and in the end he was relatively happy with his performance. It was a 44 second improvement on his previous best time set at the Littledown 5 in September last year.
Next up for Rich is the Full Marathon at the Bournemouth Running Festival, where he will be hoping to better the time of 3 hours 33 minutes that he did in his only previous marathon, which was the North Dorset Village.
Making a stunning comeback, Emma Caplan only went and won the ladies race in what was a tremendous battle between her and Laura Pettifer of Kenilworth Runners.
Laura had been ahead of Emma throughout the whole race up until the last mile when Emma made her move and assumed pole position. Once she got there, she was never going to give it up, proving that despite recently giving birth, that competitive spirit still burns brightly within her.
What’s more, Emma’s time of 32:07 was only two minutes off the time she did at the Hoburne 5 back in 2016, when she at her peak, so it just goes to show, she hasn’t got too far to go to get back to her best.
The winning margin was a mere 5 seconds, with Laura crossing the line in 32:13 and the fact that Emma had to work so hard for it made it that much sweeter. It was a far better return to racing than anyone could have anticipated.
Filing in shortly afterwards was Chris O’Brien, who had a very good run to cross the line in 32:17. For the majority of the year so far, Chris has either been concentrating on longer distance running in preparation for the Endure 24 event he did in June, or he’s been nursing an injury.
The 5k race he did at the New Forest Marathon event was his first short distance race in a long time so it came as a bit of a shock to the system. At least it meant that for the Hoburne 5, he’d acclimatised a bit more to the shorter, sharper distance and managed to put in a performance that gives him a good solid base to build from.
Two Bournemouth AC runners finished in close proximity in 75th and 76th place with Phil Cherrett completing the race in 33:14 and Jud Kirk following in 10 seconds later in 33:24.
It was Phil’s first ever 5 mile race but the plan for him was to run it in 33:30, which would give him the confidence to make a sub-42-minute attempt in the 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival the following weekend.
Everything went to plan in the first 3km but in kilometres 4 and 5 his pace dropped a little. Fortunately, he spotted Jud up ahead and decided to try and catch him.
That extra incentive helped him build a bit more momentum and he began to gradually edge closer and closer. With 800m left, he moved alongside Jud. As a result, his speed had increased and he was able to push on and get a good sprint finish in at the end.
Phil has been making some great strides recently, as reflected in his latest parkrun PB of 19:43, which he registered at Bournemouth in August.
As well as working hard in the BAC training sessions, Phil has been incorporating quite a lot of hill work in his own schedule and it certainly seems to be paying off. Finishing ahead of a seasoned pro like Jud underlines the progress he is making.
As for Jud, his main goal is to win the male 60-64 category in the Dorset Road Race League. It’s very tight at the top over the season so far between Jud, Nigel Haywood of Purbeck Runners and John Cook of Egdon Heath Harriers.
At the Hoburne 5 though, Jud came out on top out of the three rivals, finishing two places ahead of John Cook, who was 78th in 33:53. Nigel Haywood came in shortly after, taking 83rd place in a time of 34:14.
That was a big boost for Jud in his bid to take title, although in terms of his category for the race, he was pipped to the post by Simon Hayter who came in 68th place in 32:40.
One BAC member who get the prize for winning her age category at the Hoburne 5 was Julia Austin, who was awarded 1st place in the Female U55 group.
Although she found it tougher than she had anticipated, Julia enjoyed the race and was quite pleased with her time of 35:08, which put her in 100th place overall. She would have loved to have been 10 seconds quicker to get under 35 seconds but it was still a decent run for Julia.
It wasn’t long before the next BAC vest emerged to reach the finish line, that being Mike White. Mike took 103rd place, registering a time of 35:22.
It was pretty much bang on what he was targeting for the race so that was a pleasing outcome for Mike and he feels he’d much more suited to road races than the off-road routes like Bournemouth parkrun.
Quite often he finds that he gets overtaken towards the end of the race but on this occasion he finished strongly, which is a very positive sign. He’s hoping he can use this as a good platform to build from as he goes into the Wimborne 10 and the Boscombe 10k.
Completing the winning trio for the BAC ladies team was Jo Dilling, who came in 118th in a time of 36:10 and 7th in the Female U55 category.
Jo found it difficult to judge the pace, since it was in between a 5k and 10k and she also learned a valuable lesson to always study the route map before a race.
Expecting to do a lap round the holiday park like on the previous course, she hadn’t noticed the 100m marker that was chalked onto the pavement on the downhill slope towards the finish. She was hoping to go past a few ladies who were on her radar at that stage but the sudden finish put pay to that happening.
It was all good experience to utilise in future races though and Jo was thrilled to be part of the winning team, along with Emma and Julia. Oddly, they given a box of Flack Manor ales for their victory in the presentation at the end of the race.
After his dream half marathon debut the weekend before, Steve Parsons came crashing back down to earth at the Hoburne 5. His exploits had unsurprisingly left him a little jaded and he never really got into full flight, finishing in 127th place with a time of 36:35.
Steve didn’t mind though as he was still dining out on his superb run in Solent Half Marathon, where he completed the race in a time of 1:39:12 which was a lot quicker than he had been expecting.
Next in for BAC it was team captain Rich Nelson, who crossed the line in 131st place in a time of 36:39. Rich was planning to do the race as part of a longer training run, where he going to head all the way back to Bournemouth after.
Rich is considering the possibility of doing some more longer distance races in future so is looking to get a few endurance runs in the bank to see how the legs hold up.
As it panned out though, he ended up getting a lift back to Southbourne with Stu and then running back to Bournemouth from there.
Coming in with one second of each other, Ian White and Tamzin Petersen took 151st and 152nd place in the overall standings. Ian’s time of 37:46 was two minutes quicker than what he did at the Hoburne 5 last year so he was pleased with that result.
It was this time last year that Ian had just returned to the running circuit following a lengthy absence through injury and just a general loss of motivation. He’s made good progress over the course of the year though and has been steadily improving his parkrun times over the summer.
Considering he’d only just recently returned from a week’s holiday in La Manga as well, where he was playing golf and sampling the local delights (beer) it was as good of a run as he could have hoped for really.
As for Tamzin, it was a week after she’d secured a fantastic parkrun PB of 21:55 at Bournemouth so she was hoping to ride on the crest of that wave going into the Hoburne 5.
The race didn’t really go according to plan for Tamzin though and she struggled to maintain the pace that she’d set to begin with. She may perhaps have underestimated how difficult the course was going to be.
It could also have been partly due to a bit of fatigue after having upped her training volume over recent weeks. Her time of 37:47 still put her in 6th place in the Female U35 bracket so it was still not a bad result for Tamzin.
BAC journeyman Ian Graham delivered another good run to finish in 162nd place, crossing the line in a time of 38:21. That put him in 9th place in the Male 65+ category.
Conquering her target of a sub-39-minute finish, Katrina White completed the race in a time of 38:36, which put her in 166th place in the overall standings and 9th in the Female U35 category.
Katrina is new to the racing circuit so that was pleasing performance from her shows she has some good potential to work with for the future.
Crossing the line in a time of 41:43, Helen Ambrosen came in 207th overall and was 6th in the Female U65 category. Helen has been concentrating largely on her cycling over the summer months so was hoping to carry her fitness gains from that into running.
She enjoyed the race and was glad to be back on the running scene. She’s now planning to work hard at improving her mile splits and was set to compete in the Wessex Cross-Country League fixture the following weekend, which would be a good test for her.
The final BAC member to reach the impromptu finish line on the day was Samantha Laws, who secured a terrific new PB of 45:06. That was a 1 minute 49 second improvement on her time from last year so she was really pleased with that effort.
Running at a good steady pace that felt comfortable to her, that performance underlines the excellent progress Sam has made over the course of the year. She was 23rd in the Female U55 category.
Overall a total of 336 people completed the Hoburne 5 race, which seems to be growing in popularity, year by year.
Following their hard-fought victory at the Hoburne 5, Bournemouth AC only need one more win out of the remaining three fixtures to seal the First Division Men’s league title. They will be confident in achieving that at either the Wimborne 10 or Boscombe 10k.
Gold Hill could be tricky since it falls on the same weekend as the first fixture of the Hampshire League Cross-Country season, which happens to be Bournemouth AC’s home fixture at Kings Park.
It looks like Julia wasn’t listed as a Bournemouth AC runner in the Hoburne 5 results though as Poole Runners have been awarded first place in the fixture.
Even if that gets rectified though, Poole Runners have already wrapped up the Ladies First Division title. They cannot be caught now since they have five wins and two 2nd places.
It’s quite tight for 2nd place though between Littledown Harriers, who are the current occupiers, Bournemouth AC and Poole AC. Bournemouth AC could ensure they take that by winning two of the remaining three fixtures.