Sunday morning saw 19 Western Tempo athletes lining up against a high quality field at the Speedway 10k, at Beachley, just outside Chepstow. It was chilly start to the day, with a strong wind coming in from the River Severn. Luckily, the sun was out on the warmup field and the overall conditions weren’t bad, considering the race HQ is situated right below the Severn Bridge.
The organisers did a great job of putting on the event, despite the current Covid restrictions, taking just the top 150 entries, dividing them into 5 waves of 30. Starting at 1min intervals, fastest wave first, the racing was furious from the gun. The opening 1km saw eventual race winner, Birchfield Harrier’s Ethiopian star Omar Ahmed, take an early lead, followed by Grant Sheldon (a Commonwealth Games triathlete for Scotland, with 5k/10k bests of 13:51/29:37) following in close order. These two soon pulled clear of the chasing pack, which included our own Phil Wylie and Dom James.
As the race unfolded, the lead pair built an unassailable lead over the chasers, with Ahmed coming home for the win, in 29:18, 27 seconds shy of his course record from January last year. The furious early pace was enough to split the chasing pack after just 2km, with Phil hanging in, as they passed 3k in 8:44 and Dom following through in 8:50, both racing at PB pace at this point. This though, is where the wind started to play it’s part on the two lap course, with athletes having to work hard into a direct headwind that was hitting them as they completed each lap on the long run back in toward the race HQ. Tailwinds are rarely noticeable, especially in a group, but a headwind is often a different story. Going through 5k, the first wave was now spit into the two leaders, a chasing group of around ten athletes and then a long line of athletes who were working mostly in pairs or battling solo. Phil was still sitting tight in the chase group, passing 5k in 14:46, with the wind having slowed the group. Dom was still working well and looking very comfortable, going through halfway in 14:59.
As the athletes worked into the wind for the final time, the chasing group was being slowly whittled down, but Phil was still in the mix, as Josh Grace of AFD unleashed a blistering final km to take 3rd in 29:34. In the finishing straight battle, Phil secured an excellent 7th place in 29:42, as 7 athletes finished within six seconds of each other. Subject to confirmation, this time will see him go equal third on the British All-Time M40 10k rankings. Dom hung on well, despite suffering from the early pace and finding himself working hard solo into the wind on lap 2. Coming home 23rd, in 30:42, he’d just about emptied the tank and finished amidst some very good names, for a solid start to the summer season.
In Wave 2, we were well represented, with Alex Lee, Charlie Jones, Marcus England and Rhys Park starting together. Rhys and Charlie were to the fore at 3k, as the group passed 3k in just under 9mins, with Alex Lee 9:03 and Marcus following very close behind. The group was splintering from this point, with somebody being dropped off the back almost every minute. By the time they reached 5k, Rhys and Charlie were clear of Alex and Marcus, as they passed 15 seconds ahead, in 15:11. When you consider how close all of these guys were running to their 5k times from the Hereford 5k, you’ll appreciate just how deep into the well they were having to go in the opening stages of this 10k race!
Eventually, the early pace took it’s toll and Charlie, who was having a phenomenal run, passing Rhys at around the 6k marker. Charlie hung on superbly to record a 31sec PB with 31:17 to take 33rd overall. Next home was Marcus with a 17 second PB in 31:37, having opened a gap to Alex on the second lap. Alex came through at 31:58, feeling like he’d been run over by a train, having passed 5k in 15:27. Next home, in 32:48 was Rhys, whose race was effectively over at 7km, after a valiant effort to go with the leaders early on, cruising home to the finish and looking to recover in time for the upcoming Hereford 5k.
The next three waves were a mixed bag for everybody involved. The gaps were larger in seeding and therefore, we saw upto three minutes difference in 10k form across each wave. With the best will in the world, I don’t think that the organiser could have avoided this and they did well to bring in athletes from the waiting list in the final week, when it became clear that some of the faster athletes couldn’t make it on the day.
In wave three, Dave Aubrey and Alex Jones were well positioned from the gun, with Dave leading them through 3km in 9:29 to Alex’s 9:32, with Anthony Bailey and Will New in close attendance. After passing through 5k in 16:02, well inside his PB pace, Dave was eventually reeled in by Alex, who passed half way and held on well to cross the line in a huge PB of 32:46. Dave kept the gap to 31 seconds with a 33:17 clocking. Behind them, Anthony and Will had solid races, dealing well with the wind and the gaps in the field, to come home in 33:44 and 34:03 respectively.
Sadly, being seeded in wave three was the undoing of two athletes, as both Matt Flynn and Chris Roxburgh worked hard to from the gun. The pair took different approaches to the race, with Chris going out harder, reaching 5k in 17:17, then trying to hold on, whilst Matt paced himself well to go through in 17:40 and chase steadily through the second half. Ultimately, it was Chris who came out on top in this battle, but only by two seconds on the line. Both will benefit hugely when we start to see larger fields assembled in the summer. One of the most impressive runs of the day, was Dave Johnson, who set out in wave 4.After ignoring the early pace, Dave sat back with Steve Linton, Rachel Brown and Mark
Sprigings, before he set about reeling in almost his entire wave, to post a 34 second PB with 35:35. Whilst Rachel clung onto Dave until 3k, the middle of her race was a tough gig, until Steve Linton and Mark Sprigings joined her at halfway. Steve ran strongly to gap the pair in the headwind and was rewarded with a 1 second PB, stopping the clock at 36:34, after a hard fought race.
With less than 2km to go, Mark started his push for home, dancing past Rachel as the pair started to reel in athletes from other clubs. This turned into quite a battle over the final mile, with Rachel regaining the lead from Mark with 500m to go as they approached the finishing straight, but couldn’t hold off Mark’s sprint, as he came past to force a five second gap and bag a huge 80 second PB, Rachel’s was rewarded with a 50 second PB, as the pair finished in 36:41 & 36:46 respectively, with Rachel getting into the prizes as fifth lady.
In the fifth wave, we saw Jonathan Floyd start off at a cracking pace, going through 5k in 18:15, before the wind and fatigue took their toll to slow him on the second lap. His 37:31 was not only a 12 second PB, but shows that he’s likely to dip under 37mins this summer. All it takes is the right race now.
Behind Jonathon, his regular training partners, Rachel Underhill and Naomi Eaton were up against a mountain of a task from the start. Having been drafted in from the reserve list, with several others, they found themselves fairly isolated after the opening 3km. From this point, the race was never likely to provide them with PBs, but it was going to be a huge test of their racing instincts. Neither lady disappointed, as they battled hard with Bromsgrove’s Caroline Warrington and Swindon’s Ed Hall. After spending the whole race working together, the pair were separated in the final 2km as they fought for places. Naomi came home in 38:20, whilst Rachel finished strong to finish 10th lady in 38:41.
Whilst team results have not yet been announced, but after doing the maths, we seem to have safely won the lady’s (3 to score) title and taken second place in the men’s (4 to score) competition behind Bristol and West.
A huge well done from me, for all who raced. Not an easy day by any means and every one of you had to dig deep for your results. Very proud of you all. DN.
Phil Wylie 29:42
Dom James 30:40
Charlie Jones 31:17
Marcus England 31:37
Alex Lee 31:58
Alex Jones 32:46
Rhys Park 32:48
Dave Aubrey 33:17
Anthony Bailey 33:44
Will New 34:03
Dave Johnson 35:35
Chris Roxburgh 35:43
Matt Flynn 35:45
Steve Linton 36:34
Mark Sprigings 36:41
Rachel Brown 36:46
Jonathan Floyd 37:31
Naomi Eaton 38:20
Rachel Underhill 38:41