September 15 - A Small Half and Last Knockings at 5000 metres

On a weekend when the UK half marathon scene was dominated by the Great North Run and the Bristol halves, two much smaller races yielded chunky PBs for coachees.   So if you are seeking a race that doesn’t involve a weekend away and an ever growing amount of corporate bumph, let’s hear it for the Pleshing Half in mid- Essex, now a regular host for the Essex Championships, and in Cambridgeshire (yes, nice flat Cambridgeshire) the Grunty Fen event. Both are reportedly very flat and well organised. Both have slightly snigger-inducing words in their names but if you think about it ’Nova’ is a strange word too.  At the very front of the GNR it was nice to see that Mo Farah’s victory was achieved purely on merit rather than his training partner giving him the win, as clearly happened in 2014, and the most staggering aspect of Mo’s win was that his 59.23 time came less than two months after a fantastically swift 3.28.8 at 1500 metres. No one has ever matched this range, let alone done it in the same racing cycle, and he had the extra factor of picking up a couple of gold medals at the world championships in between.  We won’t see his like again for some years.

In the more traditional world of track running it’s been great that after years of gradual demise, track races at 5000m and 10,000m for serious club athletes have been picking up critical mass again, particularly in London and the South East. In recent weeks it’s been very encouraging to see coachees hitting notable PBs as they have broken through various barriers from sub 15 minutes to sub 17 minutes. In each case the even pacing has been key to hitting their target times. For whatever reason, these track races comprise about 95% men, very different from the wider running community at club level so let’s hope that a more equal gender split can evolve.