Fiona reports from the Pednor 5:
A small (but perfectly formed) band of eight ESM members headed off to Chesham on a chilly Bank Holiday Monday, accompanied by myself as flag-bearer, and Sarah’s husband Owen as child-minder. The Pednor 5 is a small, friendly, clubby kind of race, where you’re likely to bump into a few familiar faces from neighbouring clubs – Hillingdon and Ealing Eagles were there in similar numbers to ourselves.
The car park is free on the Bank Holiday, which is always a bonus, and the short walk from there to the start takes you through some of the more scenic parts of “Olde Chesham” – and past a few inviting-looking pubs. The race HQ has a pleasant garden to mill around in after the race, which is just as well, as the clubroom (like our own) isn’t quite up to the task of hosting several hundred runners!
Unusually, Carol wasn’t there (diary clash), nor was Patricia (opted for the Shinfield 10K in the morning). However, Mark K, John, Shona and Lynn & Martin arrived with prior knowledge of the course – unlike Bill, Gurmeet and Sarah G who were tackling it for the first time.
As Mark got down to some serious-looking pre-race prep, I headed off up the course to put up the ESM banners. One to mark the end of the last torturous up-and-down section, the next to mark the start of the final glorious downhill dash.
As the race got under way, previous winner Alex Miller of Belgrave already had a 40m lead within the first quarter mile. The first ESM vest was Mark, well placed in the chasing pack. Quite a few females went past before Shona & Sarah appeared, pretty much neck-and-neck at that stage, followed by Bill, John, Lynn, Martin and Gurmeet. I then jogged across the fields to the back end of the course, where I took up position about half a mile from the finish.
Meantime, the runners had galloped through the first two easy miles before encountering the tough hill early in the third mile… This is where Bill’s heart rate monitor told him to stop and walk a bit, giving John the chance to close the gap. This happened on several occasions. Frustratingly for John, though, every time Bill started running again, that gap opened up: “I entertained hopes of getting past him, but that man can shift!” Bill’s aim had been to finish inside 40 minutes, which he did with time to spare. John was also pleased with his sub-40 PB. No-one can say John isn’t consistent with his times at this race: 39:55 in 2016, 39:38 in 2017 and 39:37 this year.
Gurmeet and Martin had also been running quite close together until that uphill struck, and Gurmeet saw Martin pull away.
Lynn had her own private battle with Clive Richardson, who had gone cruising past John between miles one and two. (Now living in Marlow, Clive recently transferred from ESM to Marlow Striders). The two of them traded places over the up and down sections, but Lynn gritted her teeth in the final mile and held him off. To be fair Clive did arrive at the start line a little flustered – although the race details do say you can pick up your race number as late as 15 minutes before the start, that isn’t a recommendation, Clive!
Talking of other vests, Claire Morris of Ealing Eagles has recently become “ambidextrous”, having joined us second claim, though this time she was in the other one.
So, back to the last half mile, by which time eventual winner Chris Booth of Cheltenham & County had taken a commanding lead over Alex Miller. I waited for Mark to show, counting through the runners, and I was pretty sure he was 17th at that stage. He lost a place to a Chiltern Harrier in the closing stages – that guy in the photo as it happens – finishing 18th in the end, but finally got his hands on the V50 trophy on the fifth time of asking. His first sub-30 at this race illustrates how well he’s running at the moment, an improvement he attributes partly to the fact he’s introduced the monthly Ealing Mile into his schedule.
By the time Sarah appeared, she’d pulled out quite a gap on Shona. Sarah was lying fifth in the women’s race but the woman in fourth was only 100 metres ahead, so I encouraged Sarah to try and close her down. She didn’t manage to do that, and in fact she had to fight off the woman behind, who had a go at overtaking her. Sarah used her 800m speed to hold her place, but there was only one second in it. Shona came through in seventh, a place she held till the end.
The one who amused me most was Gurmeet, who came sailing gaily up to me for a high-five. You were on a hill near the end of your race, Gurmeet, you weren’t supposed to look that lively!
It’s a shame the results take a little while at this race, because everyone except Mark headed home before the presentation. It was a lovely surprise to learn that Mark, Lynn and Shona had all won their age categories.
This is a testing but scenic route through some lovely Chiltern countryside. There’s also a 10-mile version of the race (two laps of the same course) at the end of December, which I’ve been told can be run as a two-person relay.
ESM results summary:
Men: 18 Mark Kencroft (V50) 29:53, 163 William Lonsdale (V65) 39:13, 172 John Falvey (V60) 39:37, 219 Martin Wilson (V65) 43:19
Women: 5 Sarah Gerrie (V35) 32:43, 7 Shona Cowper 33:28, 20 Lynn Wilson (V60) 37:44, 61 Gurmeet Lally (V55) 44:41
Full results on runbritain