With just five races left of the Dorset Road Race League season, the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon was effectively a last chance saloon for both the Bournemouth AC men and women. They were both languishing at the foot of their respective league tables and would likely need to dig out a result in all the remaining fixtures to give themselves a chance of survival. It looked a tall order and turnout for Stur Half pretty much condemned them to relegation certainties.
It was only Paul Bolton from the road runners group who made the trip up to the northerly reaches of Dorset for the hilly but scenic country road canter. He was joined in the race by Bradley Pickup who would perhaps be recognised more for his long jumping than his running. Bradley has been an outstanding long jumper in the past, reaching distances of over eight metres.
It’s only really over the past couple of years that he’s turned his hand to longer distance running and since then he’s managed to chip his parkrun time down to 18:53. In April he ran the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon, completing it in just under 1 hour 40 minutes.
Paul Bolton is a relatively new member to the club but he was part of the team for the previous Dorset League fixture, the very hilly Portland 10. Proving he’s not afraid to tackle some of the toughest road routes in the area, he completed the course in 1 hour 25 minutes. He also competed in the May 5, getting round in just under 39 minutes.
Perhaps his biggest recent achievement was his Endure 24 effort, which he did as part of team of five. In that event, he ended up covering 30 miles over the 24 hour duration.
It wasn’t quite up there with some of the teams of yesteryear that Bournemouth AC had put out in the Stur Half. The legend Billy Nixon won it in 1995 in an electric time of 1 hour 10 minutes. Duncan Hurdwell won it three times, in 96, 98 and 99 with Larry Austin winning it in 97 and finishing as runner up in 98 and 99.
Mark Hargreaves won it in 2003, with Mike Grist and Gary Eagle making it a BAC one, two, three. Then Mark won it again in 2007. 2009 saw another Bournemouth AC one, two, three, with Rob McTaggart, Jon Sharkey and Ian Habgood doing the business. Then in 2010, it was a first four for BAC, with Steve Way, Ian Habgood, Ian White and Simon Munro all excelling. Robin Copestick then completed a dominant scoring team in 6th.
Stu Fox was victorious in 2011 and in 2012, Steve Way put in an outstanding performance to get round in 1:09:10, with Ian Habgood taking 2nd in 1:10:07. In 2014 there was another BAC one, two, three, four – with Pete Thompson picking up with win, followed by Josh Cole, Jon Sharkey and Simon Munro. Rob McTaggart and Toby Chapman were also in the top seven that day.
Josh Cole finished 2nd in 2016 and 2018 and Graeme Miller was runner up in 2017. Jacek Cieluszecki was the most recent Bournemouth AC winner, topping the leader-board in 2019.
This season it’s Egdon Heath Harriers who are the dominant force and with five wins and two 3rd places, they looked to have already wrapped up the Men’s First Division title. They were without Christopher Peck this time round though and he’d won the previous five league races and looked unstoppable. They did still have Charlie Williams though who was 3rd in the standings for the season so far, along with Matthew Underhill and Giles Heaman.
In Christopher Peck’s absence, Lewis Clarke of Poole Runners was probably favourite to take the race win. He’d been 2nd to Christopher in each of the last three fixtures so this looked like it could well be his time get some glory of his own.
With four wins and three 2nd places in the first seven races, Egdon Heath Harriers were edging it over Poole Runners in the Women’s First Division. They had Alex Door, Hannah Martyn and Julie in their line up. Poole Runners had Vicki Ingham though and she was favourite for the win. They also had Lauren Baker-Little as well who was a very consistent performer.
Setting off quite quickly, Paul Bolton overcooked it slightly over the first 10km and he would end up paying the price for that later in the race. He hadn’t properly checked the route though so wasn’t taking into account the massive hill near the end. That somewhat killed his pace over the last 5km.
Another rookie mistake he made was taking an energy bar from home that was out of date, which made it very hard to swallow. In the end it became one of those runs where he was just glad to make it round. Crossing the line in a time of 1:56:51, Paul had finished 224th in the standings and was 39th in the Male 50 category.
His average pace for the run was 8:52 per mile. For the league, he was 87th scorer and was 15th in the 50-54 category, although of course, with no other scorers, it didn’t really matter from a team perspective.
Putting in a really strong performance, Bradley Pickup somehow managed to keep his pace pretty consistent throughout the run, despite undulations and the demanding climb near the end. His pace was mostly between 7 and 7:15 per mile throughout the race and it didn’t even fall away much in the last 5k.
His finishing time was 1:34:41 which was a big PB for him and six minutes faster than his Bournemouth Bay Run time from earlier in the year. That put him in 82nd place in the overall standings.
It was indeed Lewis Clarke who picked up the race win, clocking a very impressive time of 1:14:33. That was almost a 20 minute PB for him and put his average pace for the run at a staggering 5:40 per mile. That’s despite the 500ft of elevation.
That put him close to a minute and a half ahead of his nearest rival who was Stuart Holloway of City of Salisbury. He got round in 1:15:55 to take the runner up spot, five seconds in front of his teammate Aaron Wilson who was 32rd in exactly 1:16.
Of course, City of Salisbury aren’t in the Dorset Road Race League so their placings didn’t count toward the points, meaning it Charlie Williams of Egdon Heath Harriers who was 2nd scorer, finishing 4th in a time of 1:16:10.
A couple of other runners who didn’t run for Dorset Road Race League clubs finished 5th and 6th, with Gwylym Gibson of South West Road Runners taking 5th in 1:16:33 and Lester James coming 6th in 1:16:44. That meant Matthew Underhill was 3rd scorer for the league when he arrived in 7th place in a time of 1:17:52.
Nick Reynolds of Dorset Doddlers was 8th in 1:18:05 with Giles Heaman of Egdon Heath Harriers taking 9th place and finishing as 5th scorer for the league in 1:18:15. With three of the first five scorers, it was beginning to look like another good day for Egdon men.
Benjy Williams of Poole AC was the first Under 21 Male, finishing in 1:19:25, and John Bassinder, also of Poole AC was the first Male 50, taking 13th place in 1:19:38. Luke Terry was Poole AC’s third scorer, finishing in 1:20:08 which put him 15th. Dave Hicks was their fourth man in, clocking a time of 1:21:25 which saw him claim 17th place.
Former Bournemouth AC man Trev Elkins had a good run to record a half marathon PB of 1:23:49, which put him in 21st place and 7th in the M40 category. Lonely Goat man Gavin Pritchard got over the line in 1:24:35 which put him in 24th place.
With Steven Noble finishing 26th in 1:25:07 and Brandon King taking 30th place in 1:25:30 that was a wrap for Egdon Heath Harriers and their scoring team of five was complete. That meant they’d won yet another fixture, finishing comfortably ahead of Poole AC who were 2nd. Poole Runners finished 3rd in the Men’s First Division for the Stur Half.
Unsurprisingly, it was Vicki Ingham who took top spot for the women, clocking a time of 1:22:40. That put her in 19th place in the overall standings and she was six minutes ahead of her nearest female rival. That was Charlotte Ingram of City of Salisbury who came 49th in 1:28:39.
Alex Door finished as 3rd female in 1:30:35 and she was second scorer for the league behind Vicki, since City of Salisbury aren’t in it. That put Alex in 59th place overall. Her teammate Hannah Martyn was the next lady of the line, registering a time of 1:13:58. That put her three seconds ahead of Lauren Baker-Little of Poole Runners who was next over the line in 1:32:01.
Juliet Champion of Poole AC was 6th female in 1:33:29, putting her 75th overall. Then Julie Wargent completed the scoring team for Egdon Heath Harriers, crossing the line in 1:34:47, earning her 1st prize in the Female 45 category. Poole Runners finished as 2nd in the Women’s First Division for the fixture, with Littledown Harriers in 3rd.
Having now transferred her first claim status to Littledown, Heather Khoshnevis finished first in the Female 55+ category in 1:40:13 which put her 18th out of the ladies in the race. Having made the switch to Wimborne AC, Helen Ambrosen was 1st in the 65-69 category for the league with her time of 2:03:22.
Westbourne won the fixture in the Men’s Second Division, ahead of Wimborne AC and Dorset Doddlers. It was an extremely close call in the Women’s Second Division with Wimborne AC emerging victorious by one point over Westbourne, with Royal Manor of Portland taking 3rd.
It was a very good day for Egdon Heath Harriers as they increased their lead at the top of the standings with their wins in both the Men’s and Women’s First Division. Poole Runners are still their closest rivals in both the Men’s and Women’s leagues, with Poole AC currently in 3rd in the Men’s First Division and Dorchester RIOT 3rd in the Ladies.
Westbourne are just ahead of Wimborne AC and Dorchester RIOT in the Men’s Second Division, where the top three will join the bottom two in the First Division to form the new Second Division. It’s looking like that will be Bournemouth AC and Lytchett Manor Striders.
Despite a no show in the last two races, Dorset Doddlers are still leading the Ladies Second Division ahead of Wimborne AC, with Purbeck Runners currently occupying third. Again, they could join Bournemouth AC and Lytchett Manor Striders who look like going down from Division One.
In the individual tables, Christopher Peck is still top of the standings, with Lewis Clarke in 2nd and Charlie Williams 3rd. Dave Hicks is 4th with Adam Davies of Egdon Heath Harriers 5th. John Bassinder could soon take that spot though.
Vicki Ingham tops the standings for the ladies with four race wins. Georgine Povall of Egdon Heath Harriers is 2nd with three 2nd place finished and one 3rd. Alex Door is 3rd and Hannah Martyn is 4th at this stage in the proceedings.
The next Dorset Road Race League fixture is Round the Lakes which is on 24th September. That should hopefully provoke a better turnout from Bournemouth AC members as that tends to be race they are quite keen on. Last season, the Bournemouth AC men won that fixture, with Harry Smith, Rob McTaggart and Rob Spencer securing a BAC one, two, three.
It’s unlikely to be a repeat performance of that this time round though as it’s on the same weekend as the Aldershot Road Relays, meaning that a lot of Bournemouth AC’s top men and possibly women, will be competing in that. With a place in the National Road Relays up for grabs, that is sure to be a high standard event and an intriguing challenge for BAC.