As is the tradition with the Dorset Road Race League, the new season kicked off on New Year’s Day with the Junction Broadstone Quarter Marathon, organised by Dorset’s most sociable runner, Sarah Swift, and her Poole Runners posse.
For Bournemouth AC, the race marked the beginning of their defence of the First Division Men’s League title they won in 2019. And for the ladies team, it marked the renaissance of a new era, with some exciting new names on the club roster along with the return of some more established names recovering from injury woes.
Once again, the duty falls to team captain Rich Nelson to try to piece together a competitive squad for each of the 12 designated fixtures for the 2020 season.
At one stage it looked as if it might be a struggle for the Broadstone Quarter but then several members of the Bournemouth AC old guard came through and threw their hats into the ring. That included Steve Way, Ant Clark and Jacek Cieluszecki.
There was even an appearance from a certain Mr Graeme Miller, who hasn’t competed in a league race for a number of years now.
Graeme has been plagued by a long running glute issue which confined him to a treadmill for all of the early part of year in 2019. Then he had an operation on his hand over the summer and didn’t really get back training on the road until right at end of the year.
Even though he didn’t want to race it, Craig Palmer also came forward to say he’d step in if required to help the team out. Even if he’s running at tempo pace or as another training session of some sort, he’s usually quick enough to finish fairly high up anyway and is always prepared to do what’s needed to ensure the team come away with a victory.
Alex Goulding and Matt du Cros were also in attendance as well, helping to form what, in the end, turned out to be a very strong men’s squad.
For the ladies, Emma Caplan was back in action after a lengthy injury lay-off over the latter part of 2019. She’s been having trouble with her knee and, following an MRI scan, found out she’s got patella tendinopathy. It seems to be a bit of lottery in the sense that some times it is fine and other times it flares up, so she has to manage it carefully.
The team was also boosted by the edition of Helen O’Neile, who joined towards the end of 2019. She has great pedigree and finished as 3rd lady in her BAC debut at the Wimborne 10 in November just days after signing up.
Also, making her long awaited Bournemouth AC debut was Heather Khoshnevis. Heather raced for Littledown Harriers last season and was often contending for the top prize in her age group. She also runs a training group on Tuesdays and Thursdays which several of the Bournemouth AC members attend.
As ever with the league races, the competition was strong. Chris Alborough of Poole AC was a serious contender the way he’s been running of late. His teammate Rob Doubleday was also there, along with Andy Leggott of Lonely Goat RC.
Paul Bullimore from Egdon Heath Harriers was in action as well and the newly formed Twemlow Track Club entered their first season in the league with a host of names that could be potential challengers including Richard Swindlehurst, David Jones and Gareth Alan-Williams.
In the ladies race, last year’s Dorset Road Race League champion Alex Door got back on the horse and began her title defence. Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners would also be a contender, as would Diana Leggott, who runs for Lonely Goat RC.
The Broadstone Quarter route starts and finishes on the Broadway in Broadstone and consists of two laps round a notoriously triangular circuit, with the first lap containing an extra section to make up the distance.
With it being a two-lap course, that of consequently means that the competitors have to tackle the infamous Gravel Hill twice!! A great way to ease them into the new year.
Running it as part of a longer training run, JC wasn’t looking to go hell for leather. He wanted it to be a strong and solid run and after running to the start from where he lives, he opted not to start too aggressively.
Completing the first lap in 21:38, JC was, at that moment in time, in 5th position. He was feeling pretty good though so decided to up the pace on the second lap.
When he reached Gravel Hill for the second time, he began to chase after Chris Alborough and Ben Renshaw from Bridport Runners who were out front.
On Dunyeats Road, with about half a mile left, Jacek caught Ben from Bridport. He was closing in on Chris as well but the gap proved too big in the end and Chris picked up the win, finishing in a time of 35:45.
On this occasion, JC had to settle for a runner up spot, getting the line in a time of 35:58 but he was happy with his run overall and knows that, had he been racing hard from the outset, it could have been a different story.
For his second lap, JC was actually the fastest man in the field, completing it in 14:20, so that suggests he’s back in pretty good shape again, which is pleasing.
Ben Renshaw took third place in a time of 36:04, ahead of Andy Leggott who was fourth in 36:25. James Bewley of Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC was 5th in 37:24, just in front of unknown under-20, Adne Nesje Hernes, who took 6th place in 37:32.
Rob Doubleday gave Poole AC their second runner over the line, finishing in 7th place in a time of 37:53, with Craig Palmer getting Bournemouth AC their second man over the line to take 8th place in the same time.
Instead of out-and-out racing, Craig decided it would be more beneficial to incorporate a training session into his race, so he did it as two lots of eight minutes, followed by four reps of three minutes, with a bit of recovery in between each rep.
For the first eight minutes he ran at a controlled pace of 5:35 minutes per mile. For the second eight minutes he went at 5:45 pace, despite Gravel Hill being part of that meaning he had to work extremely hard on the way up giving him 10th overall on that Strava segment.
Then for the three minute efforts he ran at 5:11 and 5:12 pace for the first two, before a 6:08 which included Gravel Hill and a 5:17 to finish off. He lost three places at the end as he was finishing on a recovery but he’d done what he set out to do so was pleased with the session.
Shortly after Craig had got over the line, the next two Bournemouth AC members arrived, with Ant Clark taking 9th place in a time of 37:58 and Graeme Miller coming in in 10th with a time of 38:11.
They were both excellent runs from two of BAC’s old school thoroughbreads. After a disappointing run at Round the Lakes on Boxing Day, Ant bounced back extremely well, finishing with an average pace of 5:48 minutes per mile, which is not considering two lots of Gravel Hill were included in that.
Graeme’s only real goal was to get round in a faster time than he did in 2018, which was the only other time he’s run the course as it is now. He went out hard and enjoyed running a few miles on Ant’s shoulder before Ant pulled away on the final climb.
With a superb average pace of 5:51 minutes per mile, Graeme managed to eclipse his time from two years ago by nearly two minutes so even judging by his own high standards, that was an excellent run.
The Bournemouth AC trio of Craig, Ant and Graeme were followed by a hat trick of Twemlow Track Club recruits in the shape of David Jones, Richard Swindlehurst and Gareth Alan-Williams.
Neil Sexton of Poole Runners had a good run finishing in 14th place with a time of 38:29 before the Egdon Heath Harriers train arrived. Jamie Barrington took 15th place in 38:35 with Bruce Campbell following shortly after to take 16th in 38:42. Paul Bullimore was 18th in 38:49.
Dave Hicks was the third man in for Poole AC, finishing 19th in a time of 38:53 before Egdon Heath had their fourth man over the line when Simon Arthur clocked in at 38:55.
The Dorset Road Race League win for the first fixture was sealed by Bournemouth AC though when Alex Goulding completed the course in a time of 39:09 to take 22nd place.
Alex’s approach to this year’s race was heavily influenced by his memories from the last time he did the Broadstone Quarter back in 2017. That day he started off way too fast, not having been familiar with the course.
Careering down Lower Blandford Road at breakneck speed he was thoroughly enjoying the descent and flying past several of the faster runners. His enthusiasm was short lived though as hadn’t appreciated quite how draining it would be running up Gravel Hill.
For the last kilometre that day, he remembers being absolutely exhausted and having no energy left to take on the runners that were zooming past him in the closing stages.
This time he was determined not to make that same mistake. New year, new Alex! His new mantra was to start off slow. “Think of those hills,” he kept telling himself.
However, he ultimately ended up going slightly too slowly for the majority of the way which left him with a huge surplus of energy as he neared the end of race.
Although a fast effort enabled him to overtake a few of the runners in the final minutes, it wasn’t enough to see him beat his time 2017 time which was 50 seconds quicker. Nevertheless, he had still brought the win home for the team though so that was what mattered most.
Jon Spear and Steve Cook rounded things off for Twemlow Track Club in 23rd and 24th place before Liam Openshaw and Gareth Hale completed the scoring team for Poole AC in 25th and 26th.
Still insisting on his retirement from competitive running, Steve Way paced his friend Tim Jones of Poole Runners round to a sub-40 finish of 39:39, giving him 29th place.
Steve crossed the line in 31st place with a timed of 39:43. That was still an average pace of 6:05 though so a fairly decent run on that course. Nathaniel Willmore of Poole Runners was the last man to get in under 40 minutes, finishing in 39:54.
In the ladies’ race, it was Emma Caplan who struck gold, finishing in exactly 41 minutes. Even though it was her slowest ever time in that race, it was nice to pick up the win. Her times over the years she has done have been extremely consistent though, having completed it in 40:51 last year, 40:36 in 2016 and 40:20 in 2012.
Due to a knee injury, Emma hasn’t been running as much as she’d like recently so it was good that she’s still able to preform at such a high level.
According to an MRI scan, she’s suffering from patellar tendinopathy which has a tendency to flare up from time to time. Whenever it does, she’s restricted to non-impact exercises like swimming, which is a frustration for her.
Juliet Champion of Poole AC finished as second lady, completing the course in 41:24 which put her in 44th place overall. Although she wasn’t feeling the freshest considering it was New Years Day, Helen O’Neile did well to take the prize for third lady.
She crossed the line in a time of 42:10, which put her in 53rd place overall. That’s two top three finishes in her first two races for BAC for Helen so a very good start to her new club journey for Helen.
It wasn’t all a bed of roses for Helen though as she did manage to injure her ankle in the race which has given her cause for concern. She’s hoping for a speedy recovery but it’s difficult to tell with these sorts of injuries how long they will last.
She finished one place behind Matt du Cros who took 52nd place in a time of 42:09. That was a 10 second improvement on his time from last year so it was a pretty good run from him.
Caroline Stanzel of Poole Runners was 4th lady in a time of 42:43, which put her in 61st place overall. Diana Leggott arrived at the line in a time of 43:25 to finish as fifth lady and 67th overall. Last year’s champion Alex Door stepped into the new year by finishing as 6th placed female a time of 44:12.
Jud Kirk was almost a minute quicker than the time he posted at last year’s Broadstone Quarter, getting over the line in a time of 45:07, which put him in 93rd place overall.
Usually Jud looks to challenge for top honours in his age category but he’s come to the realisation though that he has a lot of work to do from now onwards if he’s going to get to that level again.
Andy Clements of Poole AC was a comfortable winner in that catgegory, finishing 34th overall in a phenomenal time of 40:22. Realistically, even getting within a couple of minutes of that would be good for Jud.
Stephen Hogarth, also of Poole AC was second in that category in a time of 44:32 which put him in 78th place overall. Jud had had to settle for fourth on this occasion, behind Andrew Stratton of Egdon Heath Harriers who was 87th overall in 44:56.
Sealing the women’s first division win for Bournemouth AC in her debut run, Heather Khoshnevis got to the line in 48:01, which put her in 140th place overall and made her 18th placed lady.
Heather was also second in her age category to Liz Goldsack of Purbeck Runners who finished in 47:24, putting her in 126th place overall.
It was the 10th time Heather has done the race in the last 11 years and that was her fastest time since 2011 so that was a magnificent performance from her. She thinks it must be down to the power of the coveted yellow and blue vest.
After a difficult season last year, it was great for the Bournemouth AC ladies to open with a win in the first fixture and this will hopefully prove a stringboard for them to achieve much better results in 2020.
Ian White nearly gave up his number in the lead up to the race as he knee had played up in a training run. It was too late to do any transfers though so he decided to just go out easy and see what happened.
At first he was running with the captain of ship, Rich Nelson and they slowly picked their way through the field. It was on the downhill parts where Ian’s knee hurt the most but once that was out the way, he was confident he was going to finish and began to push on a little.
That culminated in a decent sub 50-minute finish as Ian crossed the line in a time of 49:43 to take 159th place. He felt very motivated throughout the run and quantified as some good solid miles as he works toward his goals of a sub-20-minute 5k by the end of the year.
Captain Rich wasn’t far behind either, getting to the line in a time of 50:19, which put him in 166th place overall. It was good to see Rich and Ian employing a bit of old fashioned BAC teamwork as well to help push each other on.
This year the pressure will be eased off a little on Rich as Tom Craggs has taken on a coaching role within the road runners division of the club and is running some of the Tuesday night sessions. That should free up a bit more time for Rich who often struggles to juggle work time and family life with all the duties he has to do for the club.
With no David Cartwright there, Ian Graham thought he had a golden opportunity to take the 70+ category. As always though, another V70 popped up to deprive Ian of that accolade. That was Jim Brumfield of Egdon Heath Harriers, who Ian hadn’t seen for ages.
Jim finished in a time of 52:17, putting him in 190th place. Ian came in in a time of 53:06 which put him in 204th position overall. Ian was still quite happy with his time though, even though he missed out on the prize.
Next in for BAC, it was the one and only Louise Price, who crossed the line in 53:49. That put her in 215th place overall and she was 38th lady and 9th in the female 50-59 category.
Although it wasn’t her fastest time at the Broadstone Quarter, it was still a fairly decent run from Lou’s perspective and she was glad to be able to get through it without any niggles.
Finishing in 232nd place, Paul Whitty was next over the line in a BAC vest. He completed the course in a time of 55:02 which put him in 36th place in the male 50-59 age category.
After she’d been struggling with a hip injury, Helen Ambrosen initially didn’t think she’d be able to run. The day before though, she decided to give it a go and planned on running the first lap steadily to see how it went.
Fortunately, everything seemed fine so she began to up the work rate on the second lap and finished the race well. Crossing the line in a time of 57:28, Helen finished in 260th place overall and was 63rd lady and 2nd in the Female 60-69 category.
First place in that category went to Caron Stevens of Royal Manor of Portland who got over the line in 56:18, putting her in 253rd place overall.
It was the fifth consecutive year Helen had done the Broadstone Quarter and she enjoyed it and found it to be a great start to 2020. She was pleased to see her teammates doing so well as well and picking in the win in the women’s race.
The new year started very well for Sam White as she nailed down a new quarter marathon PB, arriving at the finish in a time of 58:17, which put her in 274th place overall. She was 66th lady out of 156 and was 14th in the female 50-59 category.
Although she found it to be a challenging route, Sam settled into a good stead pace and managed to hold on and still managed to find the strength for her trademark Samantha sprint finish.
The last Bournemouth AC member in, but by no means the least, was Davey Boy Parsons, who got over the line in 1:00:35. That put him in 298th place overall and 9th in the male 70+ category.
Before the race started, Dave wasn’t feeling too well and it was so hot in the gym where the numbers were distributed that he felt like he was going to faint.
Once he got going though, he felt a little better and was having a good little ding-dong with Ade Holloway of Wimborne throughout the race. In the end Ade, just managed to the better of Dave, outgunning him in a ferocious sprint finish.
It was certainly a great way to start the new season for Bournemouth AC, with both a men’s team win and women’s team win. One could even be so bold as to say, they’ve started as they mean to go on.
After the race, the prizes were dished out and then the trophies for the 2019 season were handed out. The ceremony was compered very well by BAC’s very own Jon Sharkey and Steve Way was the celebrity guest who handed out the prizes. They both brought a nice light-hearted and humorous flavour to the proceedings.
Perhaps it will be both the Bournemouth AC men’s and women’s teams who are up there collecting their prizes on New Year’s Day 2021. It’s going to be an intriguing and enthralling season ahead, that much is certain.