FELIX MCGRATH produced a storming final burst of speed to edge out training partner OWAIN JONES in a nail-biting finish to the BTC`s inaugural Trial of Truth on a measured 5K mixed grassland/tarmac course on Durdham Downs.
In what was reckoned to be the first competitive event of its kind in the area, the BTC, an athlete inspired group of runners attached to the club that is dedicated to running faster and nothing less, sponsored this innovative 5K time trial test.
Although handicap events have long been popular, particularly at holiday seasons, our sport has never had a time-trialling arm as has long existed in cycle sport. Why this has never been popularised is odd as there is no purer test of an individual`s ability to push oneself to the limit against the clock with no pacemakers or heels to follow. Is there not a case for a separate list of records on Power of Ten for solo efforts against the clock?
What`s more during the current pandemic, events like this have the advantage of being able to embrace far more runners and distances in a competitive environment than the ongoing EA guidelines allow, since at present any event lasting more than 15 minutes is considered potentially dangerous and not permitted due to the risk of aerosol contamination.
The BTC group was ostensibly using the event as a guide to their training progress, but unfortunately this was not helped by the heat and prevailing strong North East breeze that undoubtedly affected the times recorded, as of course did the undulating parkland course round the Seawalls/Ladies Mile circuit of the Downs. Ideally you need the wind blowing in the opposite South West direction so that is against you on the long decline to the Seawalls and in your favour on the drag back up the Ladies Mile.
Felix` winning time of 15:34 was probably worth some 10-15 seconds faster in ideal conditions, while on a flat road circuit you would be looking at something closer to half a minute. Even so he was the first to admit afterwards that his three second winning margin over Owain was due to the fact that he had his minute man ADAM WILSON in his sights in the closing stages and actually caught him just short of the line. The two of them have been swapping bragging rights in training recently and knew there would not be much between them.
However there is no doubt who was the star of the race vet GRAHAM BREEN – or should we now say supervet ! – who had drawn the short straw by having to set off first. Ironically it was to prove a blessing in disguise as he knew Owain would be setting off in hot pursuit as second starter, and running like a startled rabbit it gave him the shot of adrenalin needed for an uncompetitive event like this. Whatever his motivation Graham more than lived up to the England masters vest he was wearing by clocking a remarkable new pb of 15:46, which was only 12 seconds slower than the winner.
“I don`t know where that came from” was his amazed reaction, but not such a surprise to those of us who have seen the way has been going in training since he started working with the group recently. Now in his 45th year there can`t be many runners in the country whom he won`t be able to challenge when he graduates to the V45 age group.
JOE CONNORS, who like Graham has been making big strides in training recently, would have surely also ducked under 16 minutes on the basis of his first lap time, but unfortunately he went off course and failed to post a true finishing mark.
As for the others Adam for some reason had declared beforehand that he was only using it as a tempo run, and if so was probably happy with the time he posted of 16:35, though he too on recent training form could have been under 16 mins. He was just one second faster than DAVE AWDE, who was reasonably happy with his time after admitting to having started too fast. I seem to have heard that one before Dave!
We were disappointed that fewer runners in the group were able to participate, though ALEX CROSSLAND (hip trouble), JOHNNY THEWLIS (tendinitis issues). JOSH MOODY (backside problem after a recent fall) and ANDY WATT (lack of training due to imminent job change) all turned up and helped with marshalling. Hopefully all four will be back in action for a replay at the end of the month when we will also be inviting some of our faster girls to take part.