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Rich wins Vets, Wendy wins bragging rights  – 1 March 2015     

Ian Kennedy reports from the Bournemouth 10.

After something like a 15 year break, Bournemouth Athletic Club have revived the Bournemouth 10 road race.  It had the reputation of being capable of producing fast times in the right weather conditions, so it was great to welcome it back to the race calendar.

For me, personally, this race has special significance, as it was the first ever road race I competed in. Scarily, it was over 30 years ago! I’d been a good cross-country runner at school. After winning a few XC runs back then, I was gifted the nickname of ‘Kip’ by my school mates – for those of tender years Kenyan Kip Keino won gold medals in distance events at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. We had little in common!

Sadly, like many kids when they leave school, once I’d done my last PE lesson it was then years before I seriously participated in sport again. In the 1970s I discovered the Soul All-Nighter, and I guess it takes some sort of athleticism to still be on your feet and dancing to Tobi Legend, Jimmy Radcliffe and Dean Parrish in the final minutes before chucking out time at 8am! That apart, I didn’t do anything remotely athletic until one day in 1984 a memo went around the company I worked for at the time (Link House in Poole) to field a cross-country team for some corporate competition.

I went and got myself a pair of running shoes and had six weeks to do some training. I had no idea of the standard that my team mates ran to, or of those we would run against – although I knew a couple of the Link House guys were rugby players so probably reasonably fit. I decided that I wanted to count – the first four of a team of six scored. I was the first Link House runner over the line come race day. At that event I was handed an entry form for the ‘Bournemouth 10’. I’d never run 10 miles … here was my next challenge.

I was pretty clueless with my training. I would run increasing distances and speeds between the two piers … I lived in Boscombe at the time. Any training run that wasn’t a new personal best was deemed a failure. On Sundays I went for longer runs, and these also got faster at the same time as they got longer. In hindsight, I was pretty lucky I didn’t get injured.  A few weeks before race day the final instructions, map, numbers, etc., were sent out. I decided that the weekend prior to race day I would run the route of the race. I did this in around 75 minutes.

On race day as the adrenalin kicks in it is amazing what can happen. I was quite well up in the field in the first half of the race. However, by the time we were approaching Boscombe Pier along the Overcliff I was feeling terrible and was heading backwards through the field. Stupidly I was not wearing a watch, so had no idea how fast I was running. My body was telling me it wasn’t feeling good. Just before the descent down the steep hill towards Boscombe Pier I walked for 100m or so before I got going again.  Once on the seafront you can sort of see the finish … although it’s a long way away … and it seems to take forever to get there. Once I got within sight of the gantry with the clock on it I couldn’t believe it. I finished in a time of 64:05. When the results were published I noticed I was the highest-placed unaffiliated runner, from memory I think I finished around 50th. That time would have put me just outside the top 10 in this year’s race.

After the Bournemouth 10 I needed another challenge so tried, unsuccessfully, to get a place in the next London Marathon, at which point my running once more varied between sporadic and non-existent. It was only as I was about to turn 40 that I got really serious about it again … and have remained so ever since. My training/running was at its peak intensity in the early 2000s and although I recorded a couple of races in the 65:00s I have never matched the time set back in 1984.

Fast forward to 2015 and these days my work as a coach is far more important to me than my own running. I’m working with an inspirational squad of fine young athletes and it’s a source of some regret that I didn’t apply myself when I was their age with the same level of commitment that they show. The fact I never ran as fast as a 40-something as I did as a poorly-prepared 26 year-old is further evidence that we should all make the most of what we have while we are younger. There just are not enough 20/30 year olds competing in road races. Many take up roadrunning in the late 30s or even older – it’s a real shame that it takes so many of us so long to take up running. It leaves you wondering what might have been achieved!

My priorities over the 2014/2015 winter have been the cross-country races with the Wimborne team. Wendy entered the Bournemouth 10 and I realised that the race fell on a rare spare weekend. I decided to enter it too. In 2014 I only competed in four races all year (three of those were in December), but I’ve made it a new years’ resolution to ‘race’ (using the term loosely) more often in 2015. I’ve got off to a decent start, seven race results achieved by 1 March. Meanwhile in our house Wendy continues to pile up the mileage and races, week in week out. In February we both did Lytchett 10. I knew that there was a real chance I could get out-raced by her. Wendy’s 5k times are around a minute slower than mine at the moment, but I hadn’t run a distance of 10 miles for me than two years. As it turned out I was reasonably happy with my time in the 88:00s at hilly Lytchett – around three minutes ahead of Wendy.

Come Bournemouth 10 race day we headed down to the pier together. It was pretty sunny, but also quite blustery. It was clear the second half of the race was going to be a bit of challenge. The gun went off, and off we headed along the Promenade. Even with the wind behind us my sub-8 minute first mile was probably too fast. At around three miles I was running alongside Adie Holloway of Littledown when Wendy came up on my shoulder. After the water station sited as we left the seafront I pulled away again, and at the turn near the brutalist church at Hengistbury Head I could see Wendy had dropped back about 200m. I didn’t expect to see her again.

Around six miles, near where the old Shell House used to be she was on my shoulder again. By the time we got onto the Overcliff near the Spyglass & Kettle I knew I had my work cut out to stay with her. I thought as long as I could stay in touch I would come steaming past her on the descent to Boscombe Pier (I am a good descender). Well, on the long straight into the wind the gap just got bigger and bigger and I had no answer to it. True, I made up places on the descent, but Wendy was long gone by that stage.

It’s a bit of mystery how, even allowing for the wind, I could have run so much slower at Bournemouth than I did at Lytchett. In honesty though, it’s clear that I got only what I deserved. Wendy’s had put the work in … I hadn’t! While us Kennedys were having our own little battles other WACers were running rather faster.

Rich Swindlehurst was first Vet home in 61:30 (8th overall). Jerry Shield (66:18) and Mark Buffery (66:56) followed each other in 17th/18th … this was despite Jerry missing the start. Andy Horsley was 28th in 68:39. Sarah Orr had a fine race and was 8th woman in 74:41 (52nd overall) and Jeff Hinsley was 87th in 80:45.

Richard Morris ran as an unaffiliated runner but is the dad of one our cross-country athletes, Chloe. He did his first 10-miler in a very respectable 82:23 for 98th. This is only the start of it … he is doing the 100mile London/Surrey bike ride on August 2nd, and Berlin marathon at the end of September. Richard says, ‘Serious training and total discipline from now on methinks’.

Wendy was next WACer in, 37th woman, 152nd overall, surprisingly only a few seconds quicker than her race time at Lytchett. I was last red vest home in 1:32:54, a PW. I felt fine while I was running … just incapable of going any quicker!

It’s been a long time since Bournemouth AC have staged a road race, although they have staged cross-country races with great success in recent years. Within BAC is a wealth of experience so it came as little surprise that they did such a great job.


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