The five mile is an often overlooked race distance. Most race directors veer towards 5k or 10k, but the 5 mile bridges the gap. You’ll run a few seconds a mile quicker but still feel it was a decent race length. Chichester Runners AC organises an annual 5 mile called the Mid Summer 5. Starting from Lavant and taking in a lap of the Goodwood motor racing circuit, it’s very popular and the 2018 race sold out. I paid for a place in time and turned up representing The Run Company, who were sponsoring the event (along with the Goodwood Health Club).
WHAT ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO THE MID SUMMER 5?
Well for starters, you are literally running to a beer and a burger (with vegan options and soft drinks too). The faster you run, the smaller the queue!
Then there’s the route which starts at the Lavant cricket pitch, with closed roads to the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. A lap of the circuit later, plus a few extra yards to make up the UKA measured 5 mile route, you run back to Lavant with a final lap of the cricket pitch. It’s fast and mostly flat.
It’s part of the Runbritain rankings handicap ladder and is very well marshalled.
This was the first time I had tried a flat road 5 mile race. I have done a fair few off road, so am familiar with the distance, but had no real idea how to pace it, so was a little apprehensive before arriving. Once I’d bumped into a load of friends from Chichester Runners and the TRC Run Crew though, I relaxed and picked up my number. This year it was chip timed with a tag on the shoe.
I was fully kitted out with gear I had purchased from The Run Company:
- A lightweight wicking T-shirt because it was pretty warm, hovering around 19-20C.
- A pair of Salomon shorts.
- A pair of Mizuno racing flats because it’s a fast race.
- A pair medium-weight Stance socks, because I like a small amount of extra cushion in the flats.
- A TomTom GPS watch.
After a token warm-up (I was too busy chatting), we lined up, ready to dish out the usual start line banter. I got my excuses out of the way - between tapering for the South Downs Way 50 miler, closely followed by the South Downs Way 100 mile Relay and recovering afterwards, it felt like I hadn’t done much training. I set the TomTom for a 30 minute 5 mile race target (it tells you if you are ahead or behind target), not really having much idea what my current fitness levels are.
After a mile into the race, I glanced at the watch and I was already +300 yards on my target and feeling good, which was a massive confidence boost, even though it was a pretty fast mile (5:15) which is faster than I’d normally head out - the excitement of the race had swept me along a bit.
As we joined the Goodwood track, the leaders were still in sight, so I relaxed a bit into a more sane pace. The track is obviously very exposed, so the wind was a challenge - I was in a group of 3 but there was no really way to hide behind them from the wind and they weren’t wanting to press on as hard as a would have liked. The next group seemed a long way off though, so I surged a bit and asked them if they wanted to pick it up a little. One of them came with me and we managed to jump to the next group.
Fortunately it had been overcast during the day - if it had been sunny, I’m told the heat off the track surface can be very “exciting”
As we came back to the track exit, I glanced at my watch again and decided it was time to ditch everyone nearby and peg it to the finish. I was still feeling good and it was only a mile and half to the finish. They tried to stay with me, but there’s a small incline on the way back into Lavant, and the things that I had been using as excuses actually turned out to be my strengths - all the training in the hills for the South Downs races meant I could power up the short hill and none of them responded. I knew none of them would be able to stay with me after that, so took to thinking about the runner in front - he was a long way off, but without anything else to aim for I just concentrated on closing as much of the gap as possible.
Crossing the line was a welcome relief - pushing so hard on a short run isn’t something I’ve done for a long time, but it certainly felt like I’d given it everything, with a 28:41 official time, 9th place overall and 3rd in category.
I headed back to the other side of the pitch to encourage some of the other runners for a while and do a little warm down, before grabbing a burger and a beer and finding out how everyone else did. Definitely a race to add to your list for next year.