It was hot and humid for the 21st staging of the immensely popular Harvel 5 on Saturday (1 June) as another capacity field descended on the Kent village for the annual multi-terrain five mile run.
Race organisers Harvel Hash House Harriers (H4) filled all 800 places within 53 minutes of entries going live on 3 March and there were 729 official finishers in 1:28:33. Harvel boasts a traditional village green and pond, cricket team, village hall and the hub of village life that is the Amazon and Tiger public house.
The pub is the home of H4, self described as a drinking club with a running problem! Beer also plays a part in the race, with the beverage being offered at the hydration station – just one of the reasons for the clamour for places in this event.
The serious running at the front resulted in a one-two for Dartford Harriers' Chris Biddle (28:25) and Jon Kennedy (29:43), with John Whittaker (Gravesend RR, 29:55) third. Just the top three beat six-minute-mile pace on the undulating course on quiet country roads and through spectacular Trossley Country Park.
Tereza Francova (Dulwich Runners, 33:49) took the women's top prize ahead of W45 masters Anoushka Johnson (Central Park Athletics, 34:53) and Lynne Champion (36:00). Half the field had returned to the warm welcome on Harvel Green within 52 minutes.
The post race atmosphere is one of the enduring attractions that brings runners back year on year. The compact village green houses the essential portaloos plus a mini-fete, beer tent and delicious home made cakes for sale at the Women's Institute stall.
Naturally the proceedings always end with a “Down Down” for the organisers, who take the drinking part of their raison d'être pretty seriously!