Doncaster Town Centre 5K is traditionally held in the middle of July, and despite heavy rain on the days leading up to the race, true to form the sun came out with a slight breeze, making almost perfect conditions for running 5K on the night. The 5K is split into the Vets (women over 35 and men over 40) and Open races, starting at 7:30pm and 8pm respectively.
The Vets race set off at 7:30pm, and as usual was very well supported with the Fun Run and Open runners lining the streets. Anthony Whiteman of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers was back again: in the past 2 years he has run and won both the Vets 5K and Open 5K, but this year settled for just the Vets 5K, winning in 16:05. The Ladies Vets winner was Jenny Blizard for Rotherham Harriers in 17:36.
Chris Ireland led the SRC contingent, finishing in 18:01 and winner of the M55 category, with Jed Turner hot on his heels in 18:11 and runner up in the M55 category. James Thompson has improved massively since joining the club last year, including 1st place rookie for SRC’s Sheffield Half Marathon awards, and he did his best to cling to Jed for as long as possible, finishing in 18:31.
After several years away from Doncaster 5K, Steve Tanner turned up to race (wearing his 2012 T-shirt to warm up in), but putting in a brilliant performance of 21:52. Steve now runs in the M70+ category but is still pulling out fast times – I can’t run that speed at half his age! Neal Matthews entered on the night and finished in a very respectable 24:32.
So onto the Open race, which appeared to be a smaller field than previous years, but no matter as it meant more space for everyone to get around some of the tighter turns of the Doncaster course, especially when it’s a 3 lap route and lapping is to be expected. Graham Rush of Cheltenham & County Harriers won the race in 14:29, with the top 5 all going sub-15. The Ladies winner was Emma Clayton of Leeds City AC in 16:32.
Mike Tanner finished in 6th place in 15:11; Joe Sweetnam-Powell has trained remarkably hard this year, winning lots of races and accolades along the way; he may be taking a temporary retirement from competitive racing, but was still determined to beat his 16:01 PB which he did in style, finishing in 15:40, with Stuart Little finishing not far behind him in 15:53.
Since turning his attention to shorter distances, Ben Mahoney has improved his speed tremendously, including breaking his 800 metres PB recently, so it was no surprise that his previous 5K PB of 17:41 would come under threat, which he did in a brilliant 17:25. Steve Davison followed his recent run of great results with 17:28. Ben Wilkinson was happy with his 18:14, admitting he wasn’t in PB form, and it was a similar story for Gareth Irvine, who achieved a season’s best of 18:21, and a whole minute than his most recent parkrun time. SRC’s Most Improved Male for 2016 Rob Cassy made an assault on his PB, breaking it in 18:38; followed by Chris Moss, another runner who has improved over the last year, achieving 19:07 for 5K.
Abigail Knight led the SRC ladies home in 19:47, finishing as 7th lady, and first U20. It’s still hard to believe this talented young lady isn’t yet 20! Samya Armoush, winner of the Most Improved Female for SRC at January’s AGM, continued her fantastic form in 9th place with a PB of 20:01, so close to sub-20 but I’m sure it won’t be long before the sub-20 5K is smashed!
Andy Pickard was suffering from an ankle injury picked up at Round Sheffield Run, so was happy to finish in 20:15. Rachel Miller was the 3rd SRC lady home in 20:40 (another PB), and our first 3 ladies between them picked up the 1st Ladies Team prize, something SRC last achieved back in 2013. Fantastic running from you all! Georgina Williams-Mahoney finished in 28:45, a fantastic effort considering she ran her first ever marathon and got married in the last 3 months.
Now to talk about Alexa Dale (me) – forgive my self-indulgence here, but Doncaster 5K was my only goal race for 2017, for which I had a sub-25 aim. Last year I ran 24:44 which I haven’t been near since, but this year I didn’t really know what was possible as I had more endurance but less speed. I suspected sub-25 was about doable, so I embarked on a training plan, which at times involved running around the grass on Don Valley Bowl in the rain, or running down the canal in 30C heat (off-road interval training is better for me than concrete.) On race day, I decided to run the first mile quite hard, taking advantage of the slightly downhill start, which meant I broke my mile PB in the first mile (7:28 vs 7:39 – oops!), and then had to cling on for the last 2 miles, until the very last corner where I sprinted to the line. My Garmin suggested just over 24 minutes (so a definite PB) but I nearly fell over in shock later on that evening when the chip time came through and I’d run 23:57 (sub-24!), and a whole 47 seconds off my PB.
Well done to everyone who ran tonight and Laura & Emily for the support!