In only its second year running, after a very successful inaugural event in 2017, the Dorchester Marathon and Casterbridge Half Marathon were the talking point of local racing down in Dorset for the weekend.
In last year’s race it was Simon Way who impressed, very nearly sealing victory in the marathon, just being edged out of it in the last 200 metres in a dramatic finale after leading for the previous 9 miles.
This year it was the turn of Steve Way to have a tilt at the title. Steve’s been in fine form of late, winning the Bournemouth Bay Half Marathon and the North Dorset Village Marathon. His main focus at the moment though is the Comrades Marathon, which takes place on 10th June.
Winning local races is merely a bi-product of his training for Steve. His training is all conducted with the bigger picture in mind. He usually goes into these races with a tactic of picking a pace that he needs to run at and trying to run at that pace for the entirety of the race. If that gets him the win then so be it. And to be fair, it often does, as there aren’t too many people who are capable of matching the sort of pace he is capable of running at in a marathon,
Also competing in the marathon race for Bournemouth AC in his 44th marathon on the road toward the big 50, was Stuart Nicholas. Stu was came into the race fresh from a good performance in the North Dorset Village Marathon where he finished up in 9th place in a time of 2:58:42.
The Dorchester Marathon route is staged across rural, countryside roads. A torrential downpour in the morning had left the roads in a glossy condition, with puddles a plenty for the runners and riders to negotiate.
As the race got underway, Steve and Stu both assumed position in the lead pack. It wasn’t long before Steve broke away though and took control of the race.
At first, Steve was tracked by Adam Holland from Tavistock AC but it wasn’t too long before Steve was out front on his own, leaving the rest of the field trailing in his wake.
After tempering his pace for the first couple of miles, Steve soon slipped into a rhythm and going at around 5:30 m/m pace on the flat and slowing slightly for more hilly sectors but rarely going above 5:40 pace.
The consistency of Steve’s run was very impressive given that it was quite an undulating route. The end result was, another magnificent win for Steve, setting a new course record in the process as he crossed the line in a phenomenal time of 2 hours 28 minutes and 19 seconds.
Taking 2nd place on the day was Johnny Suttle of Queens Park Harriers, who finished almost 20 minutes behind Steve. He had simply blown the rest of the field away.
As for Stu, his day didn’t get off to the best of starts when some early road closures caused him some difficulty in getting to the race HQ, resulting in him arriving only 20 minutes before the race started.
After his nightmare drive through the torrential rain, Stu was gearing up for a wet one but thankfully it cleared up and the glorious sunshine came out to play, making for rather muggy conditions.
In the early stages of the race, Stu’s legs felt really heavy and as he went past the 6 mile point, it felt more like he’d done 16 miles! It took some real mental fortitude for Stu to push through those difficulties and he set about attempting to reel in Gavin Pritchard, who would in the end finish just behind him. Having that focus really helped get him through the race.
With 11 miles done, Stu was still wrestling with the mental and physical battle he was enduring and at that point he felt like binning it off. Then Jon Sharkey appeared en route with some words of encouragement, which helped him temporarily resume focus.
At around the 20th mile the marathon route coincided with the Casterbridge Half, providing Stu with a welcome distraction as there was now all of a sudden plenty of new targets and people to overtake. That might just have saved his race in fact. It was certainly something the stimulate the mind at least.
Soon he was at mile 25, which was largely downhill and therefore a welcome relief to just allow the legs to run free. Crossing the line in 4th place, with a superb time of 2:54:04, Stu was the grateful recipient of a hug from the medal marshal and he soon had a watercress smoothie in hand and the recovery had begun. A total of 603 people successfully completed the course.
Despite the rather stressful drive, he was ultimately pleased with how it went. And he’s learnt one important lesson from it which is to read the race instructions a little more thoroughly next time.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth AC also had representation in the Casterbridge Half Marathon, with Louise Broderick flying the flag in that race. Louise helps with the coaching for the Junior Development Group on Wednesday nights but she also likes to get out and run when she can.
The half marathon route started with a quick leg through town, passing Kingston Maurward before travelling through the picturesque Puddletown Forest. It then joined onto the marathon route to finish the course through the scenic Waterston.
Although she suffered a bit in the unexpected heat and found the hilly nature of the course quite tough to contend with, Louise really enjoyed the event and appreciated the lovely, scenic route.
Finishing in 140th place, Louise crossed the line in a time of 1 hour 52 minutes and 7 seconds, taking 8th place in the Female 40+ category. There was a total of 1,012 people completing the race.