For many of those taking part, the Christchurch Christmas 10k, otherwise known as the Christmas Pudding Race, is the last race of the calendar year and is often seen as a golden opportunity to end merrily on a high with a cracker of a PB. Unfortunately, the weather conditions turned out to be the Grinch that cruelly ripped away those Christmas wishes.
The night before the race a storm seemed to sweep over southern Dorset brining with it a heavy downpour that continued for quite some time. On the morning of the race, it was clear that the roads would be wet, especially in the rural area where the race was located. On top of that, there was a very strong wind, measuring at 25mph at times that would certainly present the runners with a challenging battle on some sectors of the course.
The adverse conditions didn’t seem to douse the festive cheer though, with many arriving in their Father Christmas outfits or dressed as elves, reindeers or giant Christmas puddings. Others were just simply donning a Santa hat.
The Christmas 10k is usually quite a popular race within the Bournemouth AC fraternity and it was a healthy contingent of yellow and blue that took to start line ready to brave the elements. Whether that is due to the flat and fast course profile, or the fact that you get a Christmas pudding at the end of it, is up for debate.
As the runners made their way down the country lane to the start area it was amusing to see everyone trying their best to avoid getting their trainers wet or muddy as they carefully negotiated their way round the puddles that were strewn across the pathway.
Little did they know that there was a 50ft puddle of water and countless tons of cow mess waiting for them just around the corner after they set off. In fact, when the race organiser stated that the wooden bridge should not be used to get across the water section, it became pretty evident that there would be some fun and games in store.
As the race got underway, it was Craig Palmer of Littledown Harriers who took an early lead. Behind him there was a chasing pack of three, including last year’s winner James Phillips, Rob McTaggart of BAC and Max Costley of Southampton.
Tag had been thinking he might be on course for a sub 32 minute 10k following his superb run at the Victory 5 mile race in Portsmouth the previous weekend where he claimed 5th place with a time of 25:48.
Unfortunately, Tag had his plans for a 10k PB scuppered by the weather on two different counts. Originally, he had entered the Telford 10k, which was due to take place on the same day. Because of the snow though, that race was cancelled. This prompted him to contact the race organisers of the Christmas 10k and he was able to gain a late entry.
Despite being in great shape, the windy conditions and waterlogged surfaces put pay to Tag’s chances of achieving the time that he wanted. And with Craig managing to maintain his advantage through to the latter stages of the race, it became a battle for 2nd place between Tag and James.
Craig sailed through for the win in a time of 33:11. James just managed to pip Tag to second place with only 2 seconds separating the two of them. Tag finished in a time of 33:27. It was the third consecutive year that he had obtained a top three finish in the Christmas 10k.
One man who did manage to secure a PB though, despite the treacherous conditions was Stu Nicholas, who finished in 6th place in a time of 35:12. Stu tends to compete in longer distance races, entering marathons on a regular basis. He recently competed in two marathons in five days in a Halloween and bonfire night double-header, winning both races.
His 10k PB had been set at the Purbeck 10k earlier in the year, so he knew, with this being a flat road race, in theory, it should be a guaranteed PB. Sure enough, his finishing time was in fact 31 seconds quicker than what he did at the Purbeck.
The next BAC member over the line was Billy McGreevy, who finished in 12th place with a time of 36:39. He was followed 5 seconds later by Laszlo Toth who came in 14th with a time of 36:44.
Laszlo is a newly signed up member and it’s already clear to see what a great asset he will be to BAC in the coming year. Immediately behind Laszlo, was another BAC representative in the shape of Pat Robbins.
Despite suffering from a bit of plantar fasciitis recently, Pat still managed to pull together a good performance, winning the VM45+ category in a time of 36:53. Initially, there was a bit of a mix up in the results and Pat had been given the prize for winning the ladies category so that had to be rectified afterwards.
The mix up meant that Graeme Miller was pushed down to 2nd in the VM45+ category, with his time of 37:16 giving him 17th position in the overall standings. This a good result considering Graeme has been confined to treadmill running the past four weeks following a course of shockwave therapy.
Having been suffering with tendinopathy in his hamstring and an ongoing glute problem, Graeme is the guinea pig for a new machine they have developed at Bournemouth Hospital. Despite that, his time was still a 43 second improvement on what he did last year.
In the VM55+ category, Sanjai Sharma took the top prize, with his time of 38:19 putting him in 24th position overall. Sanjai was a little disappointed as he had been hoping to get under 38 minutes but again, the conditions probably had a lot to do with that. Last year Sanjai had placed 12th in a time of 36:16, but the weather was significantly better on that day.
As usual, Paul Consani had a strong, solid run finishing in 28th place In a time of 38:52. That put him 3rd in the VM40+ category. Paul continued to maintain a good pace throughout, even when battling the horrific crosswinds on the 5th mile.
The next BAC member over the line was Richard Brawn, who took 35th position in a time of 39:47. Whilst it didn’t quite match the heights of the Boscombe 10k two weeks prior, where he set a new PB of 38:57, Richard was pleased to get another sub 40 under his belt.
Having started on a new training programme in preparation for the Marrakech half marathon in January, Simon Hearn has been coming back into form and he had a strong run finishing in a time of 40:24.
Notoriously, Simon has always done well in the Christmas pudding race in previous years, always managing to go sub 40. The flat and fast profile tends to suit him quite well.
Although, he didn’t quite manage a sub 40 this time round, Simon was still pleased with his run, knowing that if the conditions had been more akin to how they were last year, he would have almost certainly done it. Simon came 5th in the VM45+ category.
Finishing just after Simon, in 47th place, was Chris O’Brien, who recorded a time of 40:33. This was significantly down on the sort of time Chris is usually capable of. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the best of days though, suffering from chest pains toward the beginning of the race.
That then progressed onto a stomach ache, which again forced him to ease off the pace somewhat. Chris has had a very good year though and having recently ran his first ever sub 3 hour marathon at Abingdon, he can take solace in the fact that he achieved his main goal for the year.
Having recently come up through the ranks onto the senior stage, Harry Sherwood had a cracking run at the Boscombe 10k, finishing in a time of 38:56. Unfortunately he also had a bit of an off-day at the Christmas 10k, again falling a touch below his potential.
That said, it was still a fairly decent run in such testing conditions, with Harry finishing in a time of 42:28, putting him in 64th place overall.
Following shortly after, Jud Kirk took 2nd place in the VM55+ category, finishing in a very creditable time of 42:33. This was pretty close to sort of time Jud thought he would do which, given the conditions, was a pleasing result. Jud was 67th overall.
The first BAC lady over the line was Yvonne Tibble who came in in 81st place overall with a time of 44:55. Having run it in 42:34 last year, Yvonne wasn’t especially pleased with her time, but she did still win the VL55+ category, so that was some consolation at least. She was also the 6th placed woman overall.
One lady who did have a pretty good run though was Kirsty Drewett, who claimed a new PB of 47:52. Her previous best was 48:30 so it was a substantial improvement on that. She still fell slightly short of her intended target of 47:30 but again, taking the conditions into consideration, that was a decent result.
Kirsty was 124th overall and was 13th placed lady. She only just missed out on a prize, finishing 4th in the VL35+ category.
Continuing his progress on the comeback trail, Ian White successfully completed the course, finishing in a time of 48:24. It was the first time Ian had run 6 miles since he took some leave from pounding the pavement, so this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Ian’s PB of 32:59 was actually set in this same race, many years ago, although that was on the original course. He’s got some way to go before he hits those heights again but he did point out that if you combine his 5k and 10k PB’s together, he was just inside that time, so this is a success of sorts. Ian finished in 129th place.
One lady who had a particularly torrid time out there was Tamzin Petersen. Being so lightweight, Tamzin isn’t ideally suited to conditions where she has to power through strong winds. In fact, she’s more likely to get blown away by them in truth.
It was a shame because Tamzin has been running well recently, finishing only 2 seconds outside of her PB at Boscombe a couple of weeks prior. She also had a crack at her parkrun PB at Kings Park the previous day, missing out by only 5 seconds.
With the weather as it was though, she knew a fast time was not going to be on the cards at the Christmas 10k and she did indeed end up finishing well below what she is capable of, crossing the line in 142nd place in a time of 49:03.
It probably goes without saying, but Tamzin didn’t enjoy the experience, stating that she’s never before uttered so many expletives in the space of one race. That sums it up pretty well really. She did still finish as the 14th placed lady though on the day.
Another lady who was glad to get the race over and done with was Louise Price. Again, Louise did not enjoy the wet and windy conditions but came out of it with a creditable result, crossing the line in 172nd place in a time of 51:02. She was the 24th lady to finish.
Also in action for BAC was Mark Hillier, who was attempting to pace a friend round to a 50 minute finish. Unfortunately though, his friend struggled in the tough conditions and despite Mark’s best efforts to drive the pace forward, the pair came in at 52:36.
The previous year Mark ran it in 41:45 so he’s certainly capable of a quick time if running it for himself. Mark is competing in the Bovington Marathon this weekend so it will be interesting to see how he fares in that.
The final BAC member to cross the line was Sam Laws, who came in 286th overall in a time of 57:33. This was a decent result for Sam, especially as she has been suffering with a knee injury recently so hasn’t been able to get out as much as usual.
At the time of the presentation, the race organisers hadn’t yet worked out who won the team competition. BAC would have had a good chance of getting 1st prize the men’s one though, with Tag finishing 3rd, Stu in 6th and Billy 12th. Then there was Pat in 15th and Graeme in 17th.
The only team that could potentially have topped that would have been Southampton AC if it was based on the best 3. They had Max Costley in 4th, Thomas Stevens in 5th and David Coak in 11th.
If there was a ladies competition, BAC would have won that as well by the looks of it, with Yvonne in 6th, Kirsty in 13th and Tamzin in 14th. That’s reason enough to crack open the eggnog and celebrate.
It would probably be fair to say that it was one of those days where you start questioning your own sanity as a runner. Getting out there in the ice cold wind, sometimes up to your knees in muddy water when you could be sat in an armchair at home in front of a nice warm fire doesn’t sound entirely rational. I guess one thing it does prove though is that people will do pretty anything for a Christmas pudding.