A bit of friendly competition can go a long way to bringing out the best performances in an athlete. When club bragging rights are in question, the stakes are raised even higher, meaning you can sometimes dig just that little bit deeper still to pull a good performance out of the bag. That is certainly true of our 7 Harriers who lined up for the June Round of the Run Exe 5k, organised by Iron Bridge Runners, and this time incorporating the InStep Devon Championships. Of those 7 runners, 6 were involved in a two-way tussle with a club mate for a down-to-the-wire finish.
The first little mini-battle came from Mike Musgrove and Pete Fletcher. This wasn't the first little duel for these two, merely a continuation of a friendly rivalry initiated at the Hope 24 relays, where they - along with men's captain Adam Miller - tussled for the fastest leg time. The rivallry continued at club nights and spilled into the 1 mile time-trial and was consolidated via a new game that they are all playing on Strava whereby you go out and aim to beat other peoples' times at various courses they have set up and recorded on the website. So, ding-ding, seconds out, round 4.... On this occasion, Mike had that little bit more strength-endurance required for the 5k and took Pete's scalp as pay back for Pete beating him at the shorter, more explosive, 1 mile time trial the previous week. Mike finished in 9th place on a time of 17:17, taking top honours in the MV45 section, just 3 seconds ahead of him namesake and category rival, Mike Feighan, from SWRR. Pete finished just 1 second adrift in a very pleasing 17:18, chopping a whopping 31 seconds off his time from last month: a sign of his fast improvement and of greater things to come perhaps? Watch out Mike!
A short way behind this tussling pair came the equally closely locked duo of Jon Garrity and Chris Dupain. On paper Jon would appear to be the fastest, but Chris has been on a massive improvement curve over the past year and showing a particular strength in the 5k distance, so it was really either runner's victory for the taking. On the night, Jon's stamina won out over Chris' speed and he stole the advantage in the final lap, finishing in 14th place overall, as 4th MV40, in 18:27, a mere 4 seconds ahead of Chris who clocked a fine 18:31 for 15th place.
Sandwiched and somewhat isolated in the middle of all these mini-battles was the ever consistent Andy Johnson. Doing his own thing and continuing to pace himself well (as well he might as he has done so many of these Run Exe 5k runs now he must now every pothole and divot on the course!) he ran yet another 20 minute time (20:32) for 45th spot.
Our final battle of the night was for the honours in the MV70 section. There were just two athletes vying for the top spot in this category and both of them were Harriers. In the end, Mike Keep's storming PB run of 24:52 for 77th place overall proved to be just too hot a pace for his team mate and rival, Les Turner, to live with. Les though still had a solid run himself to clock 28:35 for 89th overall, only 1 minute slower than the times he was clocking for the distance 4 years ago when he was a youthful 66 years old!!
Well done to all the guys (no female representation, we'll have to do something about that next round!).
Check the InStep Devon Championship webpage at the start of next week to see how this has effected your standings in the competition! http://www.instepdevon.org.uk/instep-championship.html