Sphinx Athletic Club 5 Mile Road Race

Gary Fitzpatrick made his way to the War Memorial Park in Coventry on 12th June to take part in the Sphinx Atheltic Club 5 miler. His report below:
As I was spending the week in Coventry for work I sought out the above
race. This was my second race in a busy period after Chorley 4.4m on 5th June with the Freckleton Half Marathon and Warrington 10k to follow the week after.
I spent the week enjoying glorious sunshine, 20+ degree tempratures and training on the trails around the Ryton Pools nature reserve. I was hoping for a slightly cooler evening for the race and arriving at the venue around 630 I got just that and a downpour of heavy rain!After a few stretches I had a slow jog up and down the first mile of the course to warm up, noticing that runners were arriving in droves on my return. This was definitely going to be a popular race with the field largely made up of club runners from the Coventry and surrounding areas.
There was also a healthy queue of people signing up on the day despite the conditions, which was nice to see. The rain didn’t let up and seemed to get heavier as the 300+ competitors gathered at the start line. There was plenty of jostling for position and mutterings of club rivalries in earshot.
Securing myself a place close to the front I vowed to stick to my ‘start
off steady and maintain’ plan and then did my usual trick of instantly
forgetting that when the hooter went. Registering a 5:47 first mile I
quickly realised I was being drawn into a fast front pack who were taking
full advantage of this fast and flat course. I needed to pull back if I was
to find a sustainable pace. Initially overcompensating I slowed to 6:35
pace which would not be good enough for the sub 30 minute finish I aimed
Picking it up I steadied myself into a pace between 6:05 to 6:10 and
settled into the race.As I passed the four mile marker I started to pick off several of those who disappeared into the distance shortly before. Disaster almost struck when I took a sharp bend too quickly for the slippery conditions leading to a stumble. Luckily I recovered and it only cost me a second or two; it could have been much worse!Coming into the final mile I took a winding path through the centre of the park and before I knew it I was on the final km.
The rain was driving and I could feel my legs getting heavy but I was gaining on the guy in front of me which spurred me on for a strong finish. Overtaking him with 400m to go it was an ‘eyeballs out’ (comment courtesy of Gary Wane at Blackpool last month) sprint finish and I crossed the line at 29:45 securing a joint 20th place finish which I was very happy with.After collecting my medal and complimentary cupcake (a banana just wasn’t going to cut it) I had a quick warm down jog and headed back to my digs soggy and hungry but happy with my evenings efforts.
Overall Sphinx AC delivered a really well organised race in a great venue. With 310 runners finishing the winning time was a very impressive 25:51 by a member of Tipton Harriers which was 40 seconds clear of second place.

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