A very successful outing in last year’s Gosport Half Marathon saw the Bournemouth AC men’s team scoring the lowest points of any team in Division Three, as they so often did. They were aiming to repeat that feat again in this year’s race but after their promotion, they were now competing for Division Two supremacy.
After taking top spot in their first two fixtures of the season, the Overton 5 and the Solent Half Marathon, their progress had been stunted slightly by the cancellation of the New Forest 10 and the a no-show for the Hayling 10.
Farnham Runners were looking like they could be the main contenders for the Division Two title and they had claimed victory at the Hayling 10 in BAC’s absence. Hence, it was important for the yellow and blues to get back on track at Gosport.
After getting round in 1:19:24 in last year’s race, Rich Brawn was back again and hoping to improve on his time this time round. After managing a new half marathon PB of 1:17:11 at Cardiff six weeks prior, he had every reason to be optimistic about what he could produce.
Also competing for BAC on the day was Grzegorz Kazaniecki, who had ran a 3 hour and 28 second marathon at Berlin two months ago and despite having some back problems, he was ready and raring to go.
At the time Tom Ralph was training for the Valencia Marathon and the Gosport Half was two weeks before that race was due to take place. He was therefore seeing it as a sharpener before he heads over to eastern Spain for the big showdown.
Also competing for Bournemouth AC on the day was Laura Rothwell. She had narrowly missed out on a Championship qualifying time for the London Marathon by nine seconds at the Oxford Half Marathon, needing a sub 1 hour 28 minute time. The Gosport Half Marathon represented her last hope of getting into London so it was absolutely crucial.
Her partner James Phillips also runs for the club and he was going to try to pace Laura round in order for her to get the time she needs. He would also complete the team of four for the Bournemouth AC men.
Unfortunately for Laura, the conditions were not favourable on the day, with very strong winds afoot that were almost certain to impact the pace. Thoughts of setting a fast time quickly went out the window when the runners met the full force of the wind.
Rich and Tom went for a short warm up jog along the seafront and as they turned and ran back into the headwind, they soon realised they were in for a rough ride. It was not going to be an easy race.
Making a fairly fast start, Rich posted a 5:41 split for his first mile before following it up with a 5:56 for his second mile. Once he was on the section parallel to the promenade though, he began to find it really tough.
Fighting the wind was difficult and it was constantly blowing him sideways and even almost tripped him up by blowing one of his legs into the other. It was frustrating for Rich as he wanted to power on but he just couldn’t. He had nowhere to go.
By the time he got onto the second lap, Rich knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. The strong winds had taken too much out of him. As soon as he turned round the cone to head back in an easterly direction his pace dropped dramatically. The rest of the race was destined to be a real battle.
All hopes of a good time went out the window and it became a case of damage limitation. He was getting overtaken by lots of other runners and simply had no reply. In fact, he was getting overtaken by other runners who he would normally beat in races and that was frustrating, He just couldn’t understand why the headwind was effecting him so much.
He had been doing a fair bit of strength work as well so he was disappointed to feel how weak he was when running into the wind.
It wasn’t to be Rich‘s day sadly and he’d produced a much slower time than he managed the previous year, clocking a time of 1:21:07. That put him in 46th place and he was 6th in the V40 category.
He was 36th at the half way point but had lost ten more places in the second half of the race. In terms on league scoring places, he’d come in 25th, which wasn’t quite so bad but was still well down on where he would normally be in a Hampshire Road League race.
The next man to score for the Bournemouth AC men was Grzegorz Kazaniecki. He was 96th at the half way stage but ended up losing a further 21 places to come in in 117th position overall and 9th in the V45 category. His finishing time of 1:27:05. In terms of league placings, Grzegorz finished 59th male.
Starting with a 6:32 for his first mile, Tom Ralph then settled down to just over 7 minutes for his next couple of miles before continuing at just under 7 minute mile pace for his next four miles.
He was in 198th place at the half way stage of the race. The way back for the second time though really took it out of him, as it did many of the runners. He was down to around 7:25 minute mile pace for his next three miles before heading back along the prom.
It was a gruelling race but Tom came through it, completing the course in 1:32:56. That was enough to put him in 208th place and as far as the league points went, he was 104th male.
Laura and James did make it past the half way point but as they were heading back through the headwind for the second time, Laura decided that she’d had enough. The headwind had completely scuppered any hope she had of achieving the time she wanted. Hence she decided it wasn’t worth continuing and abandoned ship.
Unfortunately that meant that James also stopped and as a consequence, the men no longer had a scoring team of four. That was a huge blow as they would now not be scoring for the fixture, rendering the other results useless. It was not the outcome that the club was looking for at all.
The winner of the race was Ben Tyler of Medway and Maidstone AC and he somehow got round in 1:10:45. Will Grace of Endurance Hub Tri Team finished 2nd in 1:11:10. Andrew Winterbottom of Winchester and District claimed 3rd place in 1:11:10 and he was the lowest scorer in the league, since the first two weren’t representing HRRL clubs.
Southampton man Richard Waldron finished 4th in 1:11:40 and the next four runners weren’t representing HRRL clubs. One of them was James Baker of Chichester and he was first vet and came 8th in 1:12:58. Ant Gritton of Lordshill was 9th overall and third league point scorer.
Lesley Locks of Aldershot Farnham and District was first female and 59th overall in 1:22:18. She wasn’t a league scorer though so it was actually Emma Jolley who topped the women’s standings. She finished 64th overall in 1:22:54.
Hannah Alderson of Bristol and West was third female in 1:23:08 which put her 71st overall. Again, she wasn’t a league scorer though so Victoria Edwards of City of Portsmouth was next in 122nd place with her time of 1:27:18.
All the teams in the second division tend to get a team out for every race, which puts added pressure on BAC if they don’t. Farnham Runners took advantage of BAC’s absence by producing the best score, just ahead of Itchen Spitfires who got second and Overton Harriers who came third.
There were some shock results in the men’s first division, with Winchester and District not getting the best score. In fact, it was Lordshill who got the top score, with City of Salisbury taking seconds and Stubbington Green getting third. Winchester could only manage 8th which was really surprising.
Isle of Wight Road Runners were the top team in Division Three in the Gosport Half but New Forest Runners currently sit top of the table.
In the women’s first division, Denmead Striders topped the standings at Gosport, just as the did at the Hayling 10. Fareham were 2nd and Hedge End 3rd.
Alton Runners got the best score in the women’s second division with Eastleigh taking 2nd. In the third division, New Forest Runners won their fourth race out of four with Hamwic Harriers taking 2nd.
In the men’s B league, it was Lordshill who came out on top with City of Salisbury in 2nd. Lordshill also won in the men’s C league and D league.
After again failing to field a team, the Bournemouth AC men really needed a return to winning ways at the Victory 5. Luckily they had a reasonably strong looking team, with Adam Corbin joining Rich Brawn, Adrian James, James Hulbert and Mike Akers. There was even a rare race appearance scheduled for team captain Rich Nelson.