After being forced to settle for second place in the opening Dorset Road Race League fixture of the 2019 season at Broadstone, Rich Nelson and his merry band of Bournemouth AC men knew that it was absolutely crucial they gave themselves every chance of taking top spot at the Lytchett 10.
At first it looked as if that was going to be a real stretch as the race was full to capacity by the time 2018 was out and a strong line up was still yet to be established.
Fortunately captain Rich managed to pull a few strings and with the aid of a few transfers, the prospects began to look a lot more promising.
Some big names had been drafted in to bolster the ranks with Steve Way, Rob McTaggart and Craig Palmer all set to take to the start line. A healthy looking undercard of Mitch Griffiths, Tom Paskin, Rich Brawn and Matt Du Cros were also present to challenge for places.
For the ladies team, Gemma Bragg was back in action after not racing for the best part of a year. Tamzin Petersen and Helen Ambrosen joined her to form the necessary three-pronged assault on the Dorset Road Race League standings.
After taking 3rd place in the first fixture, they were hoping to be able to emulate something similar at Lytchett, but with only three women out, the pressure was on for the trio.
The Lytchett 10 is an extremely tough 10-mile loop that will give runners of all abilities a stellar test. It almost seems as if you’re going uphill for the entirety of the first 7 miles in fact, before a nice downhill cruise for final three miles.
Planning to treat the race as a fast training run, Craig Palmer was looking to run one loop of the course before the race to get some extra miles in. He was then looking to complete the actual race in around 56 minutes, which would be an extremely fast benchmark for a course like that.
It might even be quick enough to net him the race win, depending on who else was there and how they would perform on the day. Lee Dempster looked set to be his main challenger, running on home turf and having displayed some blistering form of late.
Chris Wood of Wimborne AC was also in the line-up along with a couple of top contenders from Poole AC in Adam Conroy and Richard Swindlehurst.
After finishing off his first lap of the circuit, Craig ended up missing the start and to sprint forward to catch the front runners up. As he did so he exchanged a bit of banter with Lee before they accelerated away from the pack.
In the end it was Craig who edged into the lead, running a very disciplined but still very fast race. He managed to establish a small gap between himself and Lee and it turned out to be a telling one as he went over the line to seal the victory in a time of 55:25.
Following in 15 seconds later, Lee ran a brilliant race to secure a new PB of 55:40. There was then a fair gap before James Gilfillan arrived at the finish, crossing the line in a time of 57:25.
The second BAC member, Rob McTaggart was actually chasing James down towards the end and very nearly caught him up, pulling back 50 seconds over the last 2.5 miles.
It wasn’t quite enough though and Tag had to settle for 4th place, registering a time of 57:36. In fairness though, that was a much higher position than he had anticipated so it was very much a job well done from Tag’s perspective without putting himself under any undue strain.
Adding a few more miles on at the end, that brought Tag’s total up to 20 miles as well, so he’d pretty much done what he set out to do. Having also competed in the Hampshire League Cross Country fixture the day before at Dibden Inclosure, it was a pretty successful double race weekender for Tag.
Next to finish was Chris Wood of Wimborne, taking 5th place in a time of 58:49. He was followed by Poole AC’s first man, Adam Conroy, who finished in a time of 58:51. The second Poole AC man arrived just after the hour, with Richard Swindlehurst crossing the line in 1:00:12.
The race was on and the next three placings for each club would prove crucial. Egdon Heath Harriers then put themselves in the picture with three members finishing in 13th, 14th and 15th.
The third Poole AC man came in in 17th place, with Dave Hicks clocking a time of 1:01:23. He was followed by Mitch Griffiths who was making his league debut for BAC.
Mitch had very strong run to take 18th place in a time of 1:01:53. Mitch has been training well recently taking part in the marathon group training sessions and he’s certainly taking full advantage of the more structured approach on offer at BAC.
Shortly after Mitch, Tom Paskins arrived at the finish to pencil himself in as Bournemouth AC’s fourth scorer, taking 22nd place in a time of 1:02:48.
It was a really strong run from Tom, who battled his way up the hill sections well and looked try and keep Mitch in his sights as he went round. Tom was immediately followed by Egdon Heath Harriers’ fourth scorer, making it a tightly contested team competition.
Locking his sights firmly on Tom who was just up ahead of him for the vast majority of the race, Rich Brawn completed his race in a time of 1:03:05 to assume position as the 5th BAC scorer.
After also competing in the cross country fixture the day before and off the back some hard recent marathon training, Rich was feeling a significant amount of fatigue. He felt it would be good marathon training to do the Lytchett 10 on tired legs though and was really happy with how he ran in the end.
The 5th scorer for Egdon Heath Harriers finished two places behind Rich, crossing the line in 26th place. That meant that as far as the Dorset Road Race League went, the Bournemouth AC men had taken the win.
There was a bit of confusion at the end of the race though when the team members of Egdon Heath Harriers were given a six-pack of Moretti each as the prize for the men’s team competition.
It turned out to be a mistake though and the beers should in fact have gone to BAC. Still, with all this serious marathon training they’ve got going on at the moment, the BAC members surely wouldn’t have drank the beers anyway.
In the women’s race, the first female over the was Bournemouth AC’s very own Gemma Bragg. It was a remarkable return to race action for Gemma and she crossed the line in 1:08:10 to take 70th place overall.
That gave her a winning margin of over three minutes on her closest rival who was Alexandra Door of Egdon Heath Harriers, who finished in 1:11:13. Clare Martin of Purbeck Runners finished straight after in a time of 1:11:33 to come in as 3rd lady and take 92nd place overall.
The women’s team prize was very tightly contested between Littledown, Poole Runners and Egdon Heath. In the end it was Egdon Heath who took the points for the Dorset Road Race League, manoeuvring into pole position in the league standings. Poole Runners had to settle for 2nd on this occasion, with Littledown taking 3rd.
Finishing as 27th lady over the line, Tamzin Petersen took 161st place overall, registering a time of 1:19:26. That gave her an improvement of 36 seconds over her time from the previous year, so that was a decent result for Tamzin.
Completing the scoring team for BAC, Helen Ambrosen finished the race in a time of 1:25:35. She was the 44th female on the day, taking 227th place overall. That also netted her to prize for first F60+ which was a pleasing reward for Helen and thoroughly deserved.
That was enough to put Bournemouth AC 4th in the women’s team placings for that fixture in the Dorset Road Race League. It also kept them in 3rd position in the league for the season so far, behind Poole Runners and Egdon Heath.
Racing in the aftermath of having previously completed two loops of the Lytchett 10 circuit already, Steve Way battled his way round to finish in 31st place in a time of 1:04:10.
Of course, if he’d just run the race as normal he would have been much closer to the front end of the field but Steve has bigger fish to fry. All his training is focused around getting himself in the best shape he can for the Comrades Marathon in June.
Although it may have felt like hell at the time, the three laps of the Lytchett circuit amounted to 28 miles in total and that will be a really good training run for Steve.
Also considering the route contains a lot of uphill, followed by a downhill section in the later stages, it resembles the Comrades Marathon quite well in terms of profile, especially as Comrades is an “Up Run” this year.
In his first ever 10 mile race, Matt Du Cros took 43rd place finishing in a time of 1:05:19. For a first attempt at the distance, that was a smashing effort from Matt and no doubt he’s got it in him to go much quicker on a flatter, less demanding course.
Having competed in the race for three years running now, Richard Cannings is something of a veteran as far as the Lytchett 10 goes. That doesn’t mean it gets any easier of course though.
Crossing the line in a time of 1:09:39, Richard finished in 79th place and 12th in the M45+ category. It was almost exactly the same time he did last year at Lytchett in fact, so he was relatively pleased with that.
The between Jud Kirk and Nigel Haywood for top M60 rages on from last season where Jud came out the victor in the overall category competition for the league.
This year Nigel has come out swinging though and after finishing just ahead of Jud in the first fixture at Broadstone, he was looking to repeat that at Lytchett.
Determined not to let that happen though, Jud kept Nigel in his sights as the race unfolded. There was a moment in the race though where Nigel managed to open out a small gap over Jud and that turned out to be significant.
Once they got to the seven mile point it was mostly downhill from there and Jud’s chances of catching Nigel had diminished somewhat.
Crossing the line in 83rd place with a time of 1:10:34, Nigel took 1st prize in the M60+ category and extended his advantage over Jud in the DRRL standings.
Finishing up in 90th place with a time of 1:11:05, Jud had to settle for second best again on this occasion. It will now be all eyes on the Bournemouth 10 to see if he can reduce the arears between himself and Nigel.
Putting in a fantastic performance which earnt him a new 10-mile PB, Steve Parsons crossed the line in 1:14:02 to take 108th place. That was a 30 second improvement on his previous best which was done at the Wimborne 10 in November.
To record a PB on such a tough course though, you have to be in fine form, so Steve was well pleased with that result and if anything, a little shocked by it.
He’s taking part in the Imperial Series this year, which is a competition combining the results of the Lytchett 10, the Bournemouth and 10 and the Larmer 10 in March. Therefore, he’ll be hoping he can follow up his performance at Lytchett with another strong run at the Bournemouth 10.
Completing the course in 1:18:21, the next BAC man over the line was Mike White, putting him in 150th place and 22nd in the M45+ category.
Having done Lytchett a few times before, it wasn’t Mike’s quickest attempt but it wasn’t his slowest either. It did appear that he had learned his lesson from the Wimborne 10 though where he set off too quickly.
This time he kept the pace steady at the start and that enabled him to stay strong over the latter stages of the race. He knows he still has a way to go to get back to his best but he’ll keep working at it.
Also representing Bournemouth AC, Rob Spall came in in 171st place with a time of 1:19:58 which put him 23rd in the M45+ category.
In the men’s league positions, the fact that Egdon Heath did so well at the Lytchett 10 worked in Bournemouth AC’s favour as it meant they took 2nd place in the fixture, knocking Poole AC down to 3rd.
That gives Bournemouth AC the outright lead at the top of the table with one win and one 2nd place from their two fixtures so far, with Poole AC registering one win and one 3rd place. For that reason, in a way, Egdon Heath did deserve the beers they got at the end of the race.
Attentions now turn to the Bournemouth 10, where BAC will be hoping, in their home fixture, that they can extend their lead at the top of the standings in the men’s league First Division. It will be tough though as Poole AC look to have a strong squad out.
The ladies’ team will be hoping to their first win of the season as well so it looks set to be a very interesting day, with plenty of points and prizes to play for.