Whether it`s the reward for being one of our valued NHS workers or perhaps the antibodies he has been producing in abundance in managing to ward off the corona virus at Weston Hospital, there`s simply no holding FELIX MCGRATH at present.
Not only did he repeat his victory in the BTC`s second 5K Trial of Truth, but carved a remarkable 18 seconds off the time he set that day, storming home in the formidable time of 15:16. Formidable yes – and I have chosen the word guardedly – as not only is our mixed road and grassland course on Durdham Downs hardly ground you would select if looking for a fast 5K, but the cool windy conditions on the day made it even more testing. While the prevailing wind had been blowing in a favourable west/south westerly direction since our inaugural race, it cruelly turned round almost overnight back to a 15mph northerly that meant it helped only marginally on the downhill run to the Sea Walls , while it was in your face on the long slog up the Ladies Mile. How for goodness sake was it named a ladies mile!
Felix` remarkable effort against the watch was not such a surprise as he had clocked a final mile of five in a spectacular 4:39 in training midweek as well as finishing only a few seconds off his 3000m best in 8:46 close behind BTC colleague ALEX CROSSLAND (8:42) in an equally windy club event the previous week at Whitehall despite hardly having set foot on a track in the past couple of years. The fact that Alex progressed dramatically to set a new BTC group record just over 8:21 at Wimbledon last week that something special could be on the cards for Felix too despite the disappointing conditions.
With OWAIN JONES, who himself has been matching strides with Felix in training this summer and had finished just three second slower in our inaugural event, not there to push Felix due to a subsequent flare up in his ongoing achilles problem, it was left to the club`s top cross exponent JACK MILLAR, who was passing through town from his new London base en route for a week`s holiday in Pembrokeshire, to lead the challenge. While clearly in holiday mood and not attacking the race with the same intensity as Felix, the fact that he had clocked 14:47 for the distance on the road at Milton Keynes recently, yet conceded some 25 seconds here clocking 15:41 suggests that Felix is surely in shape to rewrite his best for the distance given the right opportunity.
JACK BANCROFT ended up less than ten seconds down on his namesake in 15:49, though would have been significantly closer had he not briefly taken a wrong turn and had to retrace his steps on the final half lap of the course. While nobody else was under 16 minutes on the day, Alex, clearly still basking in the plaudits of his revelationary effort at Wimbledon, opted to use his his run as a tempo session and cruised round in 16:19. This was exactly half a minute quicker than DAVE AWDE, whose 16:49 was only three seconds slower that he had recorded last month in arguably worse conditions and despite him admitting that he also was missing the lunchtime training runs he had been able to do while working from home during the lockdown.
ANDY DRAKE was the fastest of the three guys from his training entourage, finishing another 25 seconds back on Dave in 17:14 and just 12 seconds faster than JAMIE HINTON`s 17:26, with their other training colleague STEVE HONIGHT also inside 18 mins in 17:54.
If Felix had made his intentions clear from the outset, so did the first of our two lady guests ELAINA GARD, who stripped for action tore off the start as if she meant business, and making maximum use of the pavement, wherever available, paced her effort to perfection to just dip under the 19 minute barrier. Elaina is surely something of a scientist, for having assessed the conditions during her warm up coolly added 10 seconds to her predicted time- itself a carefully analysed 18:47 – just before the start and duly finished only two seconds shy of her target in 18:59.
Even so, undeterred behind her HANNAH STEEDS, a picture of concentration throughout, though never in close contact with her rival, did manage to pull her back by nearly half a minute to set an inaugural women`s time to beat of 18:32. Both should feel well satisfied with their first attempt at this sort of event.
Sandwiched between our two leading ladies the club`s revered webmaster NICO BROOKE was pressganged into acting as webmistress on the day and the perfect gentleman he is duly deferred to his two rivals by deciding ot would be unfair to beat either of them! Even so I`m sure Nico would be the first to admit that he surfs the web more swiftly than his feet allow him to do so on terra firma!
As for the runners` predictive abilities while Elaina`s calculating mind stole the honours, eight of the rest finished within 20 seconds of their predicted times, with Dave and Jamie only four seconds out. The net result was that Jack Millar ended up edging out Felix, Jack Bancroft and Dave Awde in the pocket money rewards, though as promised no one went home empty handed even if Steve and Nico had to share a coffee between them!
In conclusion it was disappointing that a few more of our faster girls had not taken up the challenge, but while real racing above anything more that 3K is still not permitted, we intend to put one of these time trial events each month. For September we hope to pick the best weekend weatherwise, so will only post the information early in any week.
While I`m sure you are all missing the excitement of tactical racing, I remain surprised that time trialling has never established a foothold in our sport, whereas it`s been the bedrock of serious cycle sport in the country. After all it`s so much easier to sit on the heels of the runner in front of you as there is surely no truer test of who can push themselves that bit more than having to race against yourself and the clock
It only remains to thank my BTC colleagues OWAIN JONES, JOSH MOODY and BEN WESTHENRY for helping marshal the course along with JULIA BELYAVIN
PS Other recent performances among the BTC group include ADAM WILSON dipping under 9 mins for 3000m at Trafford with an 8:58 clocking and JOE CONNORS 15:24 for 5K on the road at Milton Keynes..