Competitive opportunities are inevitably few and far between at present , reports Mike Down, so it`s essential that you seize the moment when they arise, and FELIX MCGRATH and JACK BANCROFT both did just that by smashing their previous personal bests in the Cheshire 10K.
There were serious doubts during the week that the event would go ahead due to the West Cheshire region being placed in temporary lockdown, and only an alteration in the course to keep it in East Cheshire saved the race.
Perhaps not surprisingly plans for starting the runners in small groups at ten second intervals were somewhat compromised, and in the event the groups having been lined up in rows across the start actually set off at little more than two or three second intervals.
With the fastest runners on Power of Ten rankings starting at the front, Felix and Jack started close together, but well outside the top 20 of what was a first class field headed by Midland cross country champion Ethiopian OMAR AHMED. It was an ideal set up for our guys as they always had runners in front of them to chase.
It was an out and back course with the outward journey arguably slightly faster than the return, with Felix and Jack close together at the halfway turn in close to 15mins flat. The fact that the return journey was marginally tougher meant that to match the club runners` holy grail and dip under the 30 minute barrier was probably never on the cards especially as they had both been operating at a pace well inside their best for the distance.
Nevertheless clearly boosted by the fact they always had runners in front of them to overhaul and were both always catching runners rather than being passed, they ended up much closer to the front than they had started, with Felix, who pulled away from Jack in the latter stages to finish as high as 8th overall, only just behind internationals NIGEL MARTIN (30:03) and this year`s National cross bronze medallist LINTON TAYLOR (30:06), with Jack less than ten seconds slower in 11th. The net result was that Felix ended up slashing 42 seconds off his best in a time just nine seconds outside that magic 30min barrier of 30:09, with Jack trimming 25 off his in a time of 30:17. AHMED was the individual winner in 29:24.
“ There were doubts all week whether the event would get cancelled by the authorities concerned, but with the weather conditions so good we just knew we had to make the most of the opportunity,” said Felix.
“Having run the race before I feel the original course is flatter and faster, so I am sure we can both get under 30 mins before long especially as we know now that the pace is well within our reach.”
If successful they stand to join PETELE GRICE and DAN STUDLEY, who at present are our only two runners who have run under 30 mins for the distance.