Yeovil Town Road Runners have a case of trades descriptions to answer in regard to their use of the word "summer" in the title of the April - September 5k series, held at RNAS Yeovilton, as the weather that greeted runners on the first (April) round of the series was as far removed from summer as you could possibly get. Long tights and base layers were the order of the evening as 4 (and a guest) Exmouth Harriers made their way up the A303 to take on this competitive 5k race.
With the promise of a fast and flat course, us ranking-aware runners we were all seeking to post good times for the club championship and for our Power of Ten profiles. What greeted us were mid-winter temperatures, lashing rain and the stiffest easterly head wind possible. Did that deter us from making the 100+ mile round trip? NO! Yes, conditions were tough and not PB-friendly, but we figured that we would all put down individual markers to chase in subsequent rounds, which would give us a target to run faster next time.
The first Harrier home and first across the line outright was Ethiopian guest runner, Berihu Tesfay. With nobody to push him, the race turned into a bit of a time trial for Berihu and, with no shelter from the strong headwind on the home stretch, he did well to post a time of 15:32, putting him 18 seconds clear of the 2nd placed runner. With more clement conditions and some stiffer competition, it will surely be a matter of time before Berihu is dipping under the 15 minute mark here.
Adam Miller had never run a road 5k before; his only previous experiences of the distance being at the weekly parkrun, which, being multi-terrain, is a much slower track. So a PB was most certainly up for grabs for him, even though he was trying to take it fairly steady and not risk any injuries as he enters the final week of his London Marathon preparation. Given this, his time of 17:09, giving him 11th place overall, is very encouraging and shows that a sub 17 clocking if most definitely on the cards in subsequent rounds.
Using this race as my first competitive outing after my 8 week injury lay-off, following my achillies trouble and calf tear at the Plymouth Hoe 10 mile in February, my aim for this race was to get around pain free and put down a marker to chase in later rounds. Sensibly avoiding my usual 5k strategy of going off like a bat out of hell and watching the mile splits steadily fall from 5:40, to 5:55 to 6:15, I managed to keep an even pace this time. Luckily my achillies felt ok and aside from a massive drop in top end speed and leg cadence, I was pleasantly surprised to feel quite strong. I must have managed my pacing better than the other ladies as I reeled 3 of them in over the latter part of the race, to finish as 2nd lady, just 6 seconds adrift of 1st, in 18:52.
Jon Garrity is likewise looking at completing the whole series at Yeovilton and aiming to preogress throughout the year. Not having done a scrap of speed work all winter to try and give his troublesome calf muscle a rest, he knew he was not as sharp as he could be, so he did extremely well to get around the course in a time of 19:16 for 27th place overall and a very commendable 2nd place in the MV40 section. He was just 1 second ahead of the next MV40 athlete, highlighting the importance of that final kick for the finish line! With a Killerton PB of 18:34, you can be sure that there is much much more to come from Jon once he gets back into structured training.
Carly Miller, like Jon and myself, was also approaching this first round at below full fitness: work, winter illness and the small matter of her wedding to organise have understandably gotten in the way of Carly's training! Not knowing what shape she was in, Carly was keen to just do her best and put a time up that she'll be able to chase in the next round once she returns to full training. That said, considering what she has been juggling over the past few months, her time of 23:39, for 14th female and 81st place overall, in Wednesday's horrendous conditions is very encouraging and gives her a target to aim for at the next outing in May.
Next round is Wednesday May 8th. Only £5 to enter and fast times are most certainly there for the taking if the weather complies! The 4 of us intend to go again and would love another car-load of Harriers to join us!