Looking at runABC South race listings for this weekend we noticed several appearances of the relatively rarely run five mile distance, so we have decided to celebrate this once popular event with an in-depth look at what is on offer.
The UK best times for five miles are held by Steve Jones with 22:17 at Birmingham in 1984 and 24:47 by Paula Radcliffe at Balmoral in 1999. Jones' best came in the same year that he set the world marathon record (2:08:05) in Chicago but Radcliffe was still three years away from her pomp, coincidentally setting her first world record at Chicago (2:17:18) in 2002. These amazing records will not fall this weekend but lots of runners can experience the thrill of the chase as they follow in the footsteps of such great British athletes.
Our first featured event is the Harvel 5 on Saturday (2 June) organised by the friendly folk at Harvel Hash House Harriers – self described as a drinking club with a running problem! This is a race that comes with the personal seal of approval of Kent-based runABC South reporter Alan Newman due to its beautiful but challenging out and back route on quiet country lanes through Trottiscliffe (pronounced Trossley) Country Park.
Sunday's five mile action starts with the Romsey Braishfield Beer Race, a much-loved local event that attracts a capacity 400 runners every year. Runners will enjoy the picturesque lanes of Braishfield village with the added incentive of a free pint of beer and slice of cake at the finish!
The Ollie Johnson Kintbury 5 is our next event, organised by Newbury AC member Dave Wright in memory of former club member Ollie Johnson, who was tragically killed in an accident in 2005, aged 18 years. This year there is a limited edition technical T-shirt for everyone and an out and back 2-mile run for those who do not wish to race the full 5 miles.
Finally, with a tiny bit of cheating, we can include the Maverick Original Series Surrey race at Polesden Lacey House in our round-up of the weekend's action. The “short” route is officially 8kms (4.97 miles) so near enough to qualify given the tough trails in the Surrey hills. The race website describes the course as: “Brutiful, with more ups and downs than a Thorpe Park ride”.
So why not give it five for a change at the weekend and turn the clock back to a bygone era?