Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Hercules Festival 5k’s (August 2018)


The Festival 5k’s was a success again in good conditions, with 19 runners bettering 15 minutes and, 70 athletes breaking 16 minutes, as opposed to 48 last year
The record time for the event that began in 2015 was achieved when Jonathan Escalante-Phillips ran 14:11.29 in the top grade race 7. His previous best of 14:35.46 done in the corresponding race last year.
Escalante-Phillips, who is a maths teacher in Cambridge runs, 7 miles to work and back as his current main training and, considers his best performances were in this race and, in his breakthrough, when in Ireland last September, he ran 68:14 for the half-marathon beating  his previous  best of 71:23.

After winning the 3k at Wimbledon two weeks previously Roger Poolman was handily placed through out and, looked comfortable leading at the bell.
Escalante-Phillips pointed out “I was in contention with 2 a laps to go’
He put in a 59 last lap and drew clear by some 10 metres, as they entered the last curve but Poolman retaliated and they were stride for stride up the finishing straight before Escalante-Phillips just had the edge to win. Poolman who ran 14:12.03 in second place improved massively on his previous best of 15:34.8 that he achieved in 2016.

Shaftesbury Barnet’s, Naomi Taschimowitz, who did a personal best of 9:09.21 in the 3k’s at Wimbledon two weeks before, also bettered her 5k time of 16:09.89 with 15:54.14 in Race 4.
“It was nice to come sixth in the National at Parliament Hill but I then had an ‘Up and Down’ season till the Wimbledon 3k & 5k.
‘The clock was saying 15:54. My best was 16:08 last year; I had been trying to go under 16 minutes.”

In Race 3 Lucy Reid improved on her 16:29.59 with 16:09.6. She was London cross county Champion and ran 11th in British Championship & European trials 5k. ‘I started running when I was 8 but not properly till I was 16. To-day I did think I could do 16:20 but I did not think I would get that much quicker (16:09.96)

In Race 1 Clare Grima (41) came 2nd of the 16 that ran, in a personal best of 17:45.73 She was particularly pleased with her Wokingham half marathon in February when she ran 78:29 but the heat got to her in the London and she ended up with 2:53.13 (PB 2:42.51 in 2016)

Additional comments: - Ray O’Donoghue, a Herne Hill Harrier, who was a great character, with a wonderful, Irish sense of humour .He was a good photographer and well known in  South London athletics, besides his work he had done as a nurse in hospitals. He died recently and a prize was given to the winner of race 7. And presented, in his memory, by outstanding Hercules Wimbledon runner Dave Clarke.

Race 1. 1st place Tom Corbett (EALE) did 17:31.97. “I ran 16:37 at Lewisham before but that was about 3 years ago. I have not been training properly so, I have been doing Park runs and running 18 minutes. I thought I would like to go below 18 as I have not done it for ages. It is bit off the Park run time where I ran 18.I eased off a bit with 800 to go.”

Race 2. Tim Anetts (Hardley) did 16:24.97 which was a PB. “I don’t think it was my best, I was out by a couple of seconds. I really enjoyed it but, it was my first race on the track.
I loved it BUT I had never run on the track before. I just did the time in a Park run’.
I did 16:22 in the Park run.’
When did he realise he could win it and went into the lead?
“The last lap I felt a gentleman on my shoulder and, I started thinking I am not having this so I went for it.”,

Isabel Clark of Serpentine who did do a PB of 17:00.9 (8th of the 17 mixed race).
Have you had some good races this year?
‘A good half marathon early on in the year –76:43.24, Hackney half Marathon on the 20th of May. Not so good at the shorter stuff at the moment”

Nathan Wilkins of Serpentine won Race 3.  “15.48.14 was a big PB for me (2016 his PB was 16:27.42) ‘It helped with a pacer there (Robel Bahelbi). He went off slow then kind of picked it up a bit which worked out well.”

Race 4 won by Finn Johnson of Hercules Wimbledon in 15:32.02.
“I left it till 2k to go in the lead. I saw it was a few yards short of the 2k time and I wanted to do 3:05 so, I thought ‘Lets go’ My previous best was 15:54. It was my second 5k of the season.
I have done two 3’s and 2- 5’s and I want to do 10k.’
What was his favourite distance?
“Cross-country’ His Best ‘I was 20th in leg 2 of the Surrey league, last year. (Mitcham 11/11/17).

Race 5 where 17 of the 19 runners did personal bests on the day.
It was won by Richard Mc Dowell of Hercules in 15.10 61
When did he try to get away?

“800 to go’
The Guilford and Godalming runner was running with you or just ahead (Simon Goldsworth who did 15:14.50) “He was pacing it really nicely and I sat on his shoulder. He was steady and so I thought I would pick it up’
‘I took a minute off my time. I am rubbish on the track but I am a marathon man. This is short and quick for me. I did 2:27 in London. At t he half marathon my PB is slower than both my halves in the London. I am yet to do a quick half marathon. Next race is Bournemouth so building up for Bournemouth in October.’
‘I began to realise as I got older the longer stuff suits me better. I am nearly 40 so. I will be 40 a week before the London next year. I hope for the age grade I will be well up there next year.’
‘I did my first marathon in India six years ago. I was living out there. I did 2:59 for that.
I started running properly when I got back and ran with the Hercules guys and really picked it up from then.“

Race 6. Phillip Sewell of Aldershot Farnham & District won in a PB of 14:53.3
“It was my best time by a long way. My last best was 15:23.“
When did he realise it was time to go?
“Maybe the last lap. I felt pretty good through out .It was with 2 laps to go it started to hurt a little bit.’
Favourite event?
“Probably the 10k. I have run about 32 minutes for that. I would like to improve on that...
I started running about 4 years ago. I am 24 now so quite late to the game.”

Chris Smith (41) of TVH was 2nd in 14:58.52
“My best was two years ago on this track’
Chris is an established cross-country and International Mountain runner
He was in the lead at half way in both his Mountain races this year but was eventually overtaken. Over 500 took part in the Snowdon Marathon

“I got to the top of Snowden, in the International race, in the lead by 30 seconds.
It was 5 miles up and 5 miles down.
I thought I was doing really well and for 2 miles I was fine then, started to get a stitch.
This 22 year old Italian, Alberto Vender (1:06.41) came ‘Whoosh past me’; then Chris Oldsworth (1:07.29) a young fell runner coming through. He was in the England team too. He came by then Rob Sammuel (1:07.55) , a Welsh runner who came by so, I got 4th in the end.”

Alastair Aitken

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