Answer: Andy Johnson and Richard Hawes at the Devon County AA 10'000m track championships that took place at Exeter Arena on Wednesday 12th September.
Also on the entry list for the Harriers was Dave Eveleigh, but Dave wasn't feeling at his best and being ever the perfectionist with his running he did not want to run and deliver a mediocre performance, so he made the reluctant but sensible decision to conserve his energies for another day.
Entries for the event were full, with 40 athletes signing up, meaning that the field could be split into two and offer an A race for sub-40 min 10k runners and a B race for 40 mins +. This meant that runners of all abilities got the chance to run in a competitive race and gave them the opportunity to pit themselves against athletes of a similar standard and to push themselves towards a personal best or season's best time.
Relatively new Harriers' member, Richard Hawes, did just that. Rich has been running for less than a year, having started last autumn with a - self-admitted - low fitness level. He tried to do too much too soon and ended up picking up a few injuries. This year, however, with a more measured approach and by taking some advise from friend and fellow Harrier, Mike Musgrove, Rich's running has gone from strength to strength. Just last month he set an impressive 10k PB of 41:35 at the Exeter event and so his target for this track 10k was to better that and to try and get as close to 40 minutes as possible.
Setting off hard from the gun and running most of the 25 laps tucked in just behind super-vet athlete Karen Cook of SWRR proved to be a good strategy as Richard paced himself well and even managed to store up a little burst of energy to put on what was one of the most impressive sprint finishes of the night. He crossed the line in 40:31:35 to knock a whole minute off his PB in the space of a month! Even more impressively, Rich just missed out on a bronze medal in the county champs by 1 place and 10 seconds in the MV45 category, at his first ever championship race! Rich now plans to step up his training over the winter and to target a few key races next spring where he will surely build on his natural ability and go on to set more and more PBs and get himself elevated onto that MV45 podium!
The only other Harriers' representative on the night was the very experienced and seasoned campaigner, Andy Johnson. Lacking his sparring partner, Dave Eveleigh, to push him, Andy did a pretty impressive job of pushing himself around that track, digging in and gritting his teeth to clock a time of 43:07:41; just 16 seconds adrift of his Exeter 10k time set in August. Those 16 seconds were no doubt lost on the unforgiving back straight of the track which had a strong headwind blowing in the faces of the athletes on the night, stealing precious seconds off their lap times. Andy finished as 6th MV45 on the night.
Despite feeling dizzy after 25 counter-clockwise laps, both athletes seemed to enjoy their track experience!