Making his Bournemouth AC league debut since switching over from Littledown Harriers, Matt Brown was hitting the undulating country roads of Puddletown where he was joined by Heather Khoshnevis. She was the only other BAC representative taking part, despite it being a Dorset Road Race League fixture.
The disappointing turnout summarised much of the Dorset Road Race League campaign this season for Bournemouth AC. They just haven’t been able garner enough interest amongst the members to mount a serious challenge, or even get the numbers for a scoring team on many occasions. The introduction of the Hampshire Road Race League to the schedule has taken some of the focus away from the DRRL as well and as it stands, the club will struggle to stay in the top division in both the men’s and ladies’ competitions.
It’s been a far cry from years gone by which saw Bournemouth AC dominant the local race scene. That all began to change last season when the Egdon Heath Harriers men stormed to the first division title, outgunning BAC in the majority of the races. One of the closest battles they had was at Puddletown Plod last season where the BAC men really needed a win to keep the season alive.
Ant Clark finished 2nd and Stu Nicholas was 4th that day but with Ben Foyle winning the race, the Egdon men edged it for a crucial victory. They then went on to take the title.
The Puddletown Plod Half Marathon has been a very successful hunting ground for Bournemouth AC in the past with Jacek Cieluszecki winning in 2019. In 2016, the first four finishers were from BAC, with Steve Way, Jon Sharkey, Paul Dixon-Box and Pete Thompson providing the dominant display and Sanjai Sharma completing the scoring team in 6th.
Steve Way also won it in 2015 and Ant Clark topped the standings in 2014, although he was representing Poole Runners back then. Ian Habgood won the 2013 edition and in 2011, Ian Habgood headed up a BAC one, two, three with Jon Sharkey and Simon Munro.
Putting in an extremely strong performance in the 2021 Puddletown Plod, Matt Brown started off at a steady pace for the first half before progressively picking it up in the later stages, leading to a 1:15:40 finish. Coming into this year’s race off the back of a superb 34:42 at the Bognor Prom 10k, Matt was showing signs of some great form again.
After a triple whammy of marathons in April which was rounded off with a 3:47:54 finish in the North Dorset Village Marathon, Heather wasn’t likely to have any issues negotiating the half marathon route at Puddletown. She finished 6th scorer in the Dorset Road Race League on that occasion which has helped her cause in the 60-64 category for the season where she’s currently second behind teammate Debbie Lennon.
The runners had been spared the sweltering hot conditions that had been a constant throughout most of the week leading up to the race. On the day, there was a light smattering of rain but nothing too noticeable.
Opting to go at tempo pace for the first eight miles, which for him was roughly six minutes per mile, Matt then picked up the pace for the final five miles. That’s quite difficult to do in the Puddletown Plod as the last four miles of the race are pretty tough, with a very big climb starting on the 11th mile and continuing for most of the 12th mile.
Somehow managing to complete the 12th mile in a 5:56 split, it was a super strong display from Matt and we went on to get through his final mile split in 5:36 pace. His finishing time for the race was 1:18:03 which was enough to see him take 5th place overall.
It was a quality performance from Matt and he really showcased his talents well over the latter stages of the race when most of the runners would have been seriously flagging.
Egdon Heath Harriers and Poole Runners each had two men apiece in the top four, with Chistopher Peck making it four league wins in row when he crossed the line in 1:14:36.
It had been a close battle between him and Lewis Clarke of Poole Runners who was runner up in 1:14:41. Charlie Williams of Egdon Heath Harriers wasn’t far behind either, taking 3rd place in 1:14:48. Those three were well ahead of the rest of the field.
In form Poole Runners man Dion Garner claimed 4th place, completing the course in 1:17:37 and he was the only other men to get round quicker than Matt.
Nick Reynolds of Dorset Doddlers finished in 6th place and 2nd m40, recording a time of 1:18:40. Dave Hicks of Poole AC came in in 7th place with a time of 1:19:02 and he took the first m50 spot.
Joe Godden gave Poole Runners their third man in when he made it the line in 1:19:59 to put them in the hunt for the race win. Egdon Heath Harriers dismissed those hopes though by sealing the next three places and wrapping up the race win.
Matt Underhill was 9th in 1:20:41, followed by Adam Davies in 10th in 1:20:43 and Graham Sherwin took 11th in 1:22:37.
It was a dominant display from the red and blacks from Weymouth way and they also had the top three women in the race, with Nat Lawrence finishing as 1st female and 12th overall in a very impressive time of 1:22:47.
Georgina Povall was next to come in, registering a time of 1:26:52 which put her in 19th place overall. After running a reverse loop of the course before starting the race Alex Door put in an impressive display to clock a time of 1:30:08 and seal the race win for Egdon.
Although she found it tough going, Heather ran really well to complete the course in 1:41:31 and that was enough to seal the 1st f60 position for her. She was also 17th fastest out of the 78 women in the race and came 82nd overall.
With Mark Peddle finishing 14th in 1:23:11 and Luke McKenzie reaching the line in 20th in 1:26:54, Poole Runners took 2nd place for the race. That put them 3rd in the table for the season so far, knocking Poole Runners down to 4th.
Egdon Heath Harriers were well in command with four race wins in two 3rd places out of the six races so far. Although they didn’t have any runners at Puddletown, Twemlow Track Club were still sitting in 2nd place with a win and two 2nd place finishes.
Not getting a team out didn’t do the Bournemouth AC men any good and they remained rooted to the bottom of the table and it was not looking good for them at the half way stage in the season.
In the ladies first division, Poole could only manage 5th place which meant that with three wins and three 2nd places, Egdon Heath Harriers now had a better record than them in the fight for top spot.
Dorchester RIOT finished 2nd at Puddletown which moved them up to 3rd in the table ahead of Littledown Harriers. They were 3rd at Puddletown and currently sit 4th in the table.
Failing to get a team out again plunged Bournemouth AC further into disarray as they remained bottom of the table and looking prime candidates for relegation to the second division.
In the men’s second division, Westbourne picked up the win and they were looking favourites for that top spot which would see them retain a place in the new look second division. Dorchester RIOT finished 2nd at Puddletown and they were 3rd for season so far behind Wimborne AC who could only manage 7th at Puddletown. Only three teams will keep their place in the second division.
A win for Dorset Doddlers in the ladies second division strengthened their position at the top and they looked prime candidates to keep their place in the division. Purbeck Runners were 2nd at Puddletown and they 4th in the table behind Wimborne AC who had no runners at Puddletown and Bournemouth Joggers who sit 3rd.
The first four men in the Puddletown Plod reflected how they are in the men’s individual standings for the season so far, with Christopher Peck leading the way, Lewis Clarke in 2nd, Charlie Williams 3rd and Dion Garner 4th.
Geogina is top of the pile in the ladies individual standings ahead of Alex Door. After finishing 4th female at Puddletown, Karen Perrett of Weymouth St Pauls moved up to 3rd for the season so far ahead of Hannah Martyn of Egdon Heath Harriers.
Despite finishing 1st in the 60-64 category and 15th scorer overall, Heather remained 2nd in the category standings for the season so far behind Debbie. The BAC super-vets are currently 13th and 14th in the women’s individual standings.
One of the best things about the Puddletown Plod is the incredible array of cakes they have available after the race. Being able to indulge in them goes some way toward the 13 miles of pain worthwhile!
The next Dorset League fixture is the dreaded Portland 10 – a race that features some immensely testing climbs and is a very challenging route. Matt Brown will be back in action for that one and he’ll be joined by Tom Ralph. A fixture clash though with the Lordshill 10k in the Hampshire Road Race League may well mean the club fail to get teams out again at Portland which will leave them even further adrift.