Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Festival of 5k’s - Wimbledon (August 2015)

The 5k Festival Night was experiencing the same success that Ben Pochee’s first ‘Night of Personal Best 10k’s’ at
Parliament Hill experienced three years ago.
It had then gone on, drawing more interest each year from the best runners, as it will with Ben Noad’s first Festival 5k.

At Wimbledon Park stadium, Ben Noad’s organisation and thought behind the Festival event, was helped by officials
from Hercules Wimbledon AC and others.
It created closer competition than usually experienced, at the many of 5k league races, where the fields were often much more spread out.
Noad remarked “Watford does 3’ks basically and, does them very well so; we are looking to create a similar vibe on a Wednesday
night in London over 5000m. There is definitely a call for it.”

Rain was quite heavy at times, before and after the events but not during them fortunately the first event was at
6.45 for ‘Sub 20 minute runners’.
In The final Race 5, at 8.40, for those who had said they were capable of Sub 15 minutes, Shaun Dixon, ran very close to his previous personal best of 14:22.93 that he achieved in the BMC races at Watford, on the 19th of August but it was only his fourth track race of the season and, he clocked 14:23.55. He looked to be getting closer to the form that gave him fourth place in the National cross country of 2013.

Shaun, who is always good value, with his honest and amusing answers added “I have been on a stag do and a wedding in Ibiza last weekend and a stag do in Budapest so, I think my drinking is better than my running lately but I am in really good shape.’
He added “I had a bad Southern Cross country Championships which blew my season apart and I had been building nicely. Since then, I had a crisis of confidence and I could not get it back.’
However the Inter-Counties were quite good?
‘Yes! I was 23rd. Besides a 10k I had two 5ks and, I have lost a bit of weight. I am flying at the moment. I have got a half marathon in a couple of week’s time’
What were his thoughts of racing with such good runners as John Gilbert and Andy Maud?
‘Fantastic. Andy and I worked together. We recently did a Park run together. He is a great guy. We said we would take a lap each or 600 each, so our plan was to do that. It was good to have him there. I have now won two 5k’s and I don’t win races very often. I feel I am coming back into shape mentally and, I am getting married in a couple of weeks and feel this could be a good year.’”  
        In the race Ben Noad paced the runners through the early stages and just behind him was Andy Maud, Shaun Dixon, John Gilbert and Robel Bahelbi. It was after 1500 that Dixon and Maud had been thinking they would take 600 each. They did drift away from the rest and Dixon was the stronger in the home straight. Maud, who only took up running a couple of years ago had been on for 2:18 in the London but had to pull out with a back problem, that had started two weeks before the marathon, which dented his overall season. “Cross country is my best event” he declared. It was noted that Christopher Greenwood, 41, did a PB of 14:51.21 in fourth place. It also sent him into 2nd place in the Over 40 UK rankings.
All the other races were won in personal best times. 50 out of 83 competitors on the day achieved Pb’s... 22 runners ran sub 16.

In Race 4 Ben Noad, like in Race 5, set off at a fast pace. He was immediately followed by Ben Reynolds, who was hoping for a good time. Soon, the gap opened to the rest.
Neil Aitken, at 41, having his best season, was biding his time 10 metres further back with the group. When Noad dropped out, it really left Reynolds exposed and Aitken was eventually able to get on terms and run clear in the last couple of laps.
       Reynolds could afford to sit back on his performance, as he won the World Veterans ‘Over 50’ 5000 at Lyon earlier in the month.
Regarding Lyon he said “It was very hot that day but I was thrilled to win, as I did not expect to beat the Spaniard (Francisco Fontaneda) who was a lot quicker than me. He had won the 10k and the half marathon, but I did beat him, which was a bit of a mystery.”
It was in race 4 when George Grassly came 5th out of the 18 and, as an ‘Under 17’ went top of the UK rankings with 15:48.93.

Neil Aitken:- “Ben Noad said what he was going to do and actually went out a bit quick. I kept away by 5 or 10 metres, no pressure.’
A good year for him “Really good I managed somehow with a PB for 5000; 10k & 10 miles. I only missed my half marathon best by 9 seconds on Sunday so, not too bad.’
His start “I started a year before I formed Clapham Chasers, so it is our 10 year Anniversary. I am Chairman of Chasers and so it is our big 10th Anniversary this year in November. A big milestone for the club. It is nice to be doing something fairly good on the track. All the youngsters are coming through really quickly which is allowed and, that’s good!”

Race 3 won by Tal Ramsay in a PB of 16.27 “The guy from Aldershot took off quite early (Scott-Smith Bannister an ‘Over 50’ runner who did 16:27.75 Now -5th in the UK rankings for his age). He continued ‘I stayed with him and ran at a good pace round and got him in the end’.
          Is track His favourite surface? “I think so. I never used to do any. I just did cross-country and stuff so, this year I did some of the Rosenheim meets. They are really good fun and you get the feel for middle distance.
I did a bit of orienteering and fell running as a kid but I did not really get into it till Uni at Glasgow. They have got some seriously good runners up there. It was a good social scene and gets you into it really.”

Race 2 won by Max Bontoft in 16:47.29 “It was a good race”.
You must like these type of races, when you have got a lot of people around you? “It helps when you work together. My previous best is 17.20 so, it is a big PB.’
Bontoft then said “I started running last February; I was really out of shape. The Olympics sort of inspired me. I went out last February and did one or two half marathons, enjoyed it so, I am now working on the track to get my speed up’ (He has already done 1.16 which is a good start).

Alastair Aitken

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