It's hard to know where to start with the ACT Masters' 5000m Championships, held last Thursday evening in Woden. Coming into the race I knew my form was good, having run the 25:47 parkrun in December and 14:57 for 3000m in March. My goal was to improve on my last 5000m track race, 26:04.67 in 2021 and be under 26 minutes. I reallly didn't think I'd be close to 25 minutes. How did that happen?
We nineteen starters were blessed with good weather conditions, a light breeze (tailwind in the home straight), a temperature of 13 degrees and low humidity. I knew the form of my competitors and thought Jacki, Dale and Gordon were good for a 26-minute 5k. At 7:15 PM the starter's gun fired and we were off. I settled in behind Jacki, with Geoff, Dale, Gordon and Robbie up ahead. After two laps I passed Jacki into the 15 metre gap to Geoff. The clock at 1k read 4:57 and I was feeling okay, but thinking maybe the pace was too quick.
During the next five laps I concentrated on not letting the distance to Geoff grow larger and was surprised when he began slowing (due to a pre-race calf injury). My time at 3k was 14:59 and I thought 'that's quick, can I keep it going?' I passed Geoff and spent the next three laps closing the 25 metre gap to Gordon. I sensed my pace was slowing down (the 4th kilometre took 5:11), but Gordon was slowing more. I was excited that a finishing time close to 25 minutes was happening. I just had to maintain the pace. I passed Gordon and ran the final two laps as fast as possible, finishing in 12th place with a time of 25:07.60. 'Wow, that's good!' was my immediate thought on crossing the finish line. When I got home I checked my previous 5k results; the last time I ran faster than this was in July 2019, 24:51 for the Runners Shop 5k. I'm excited for the rest of 2023.
The winner of the race was M40 Jeff van Gangelen in a fantastic 16:49 ahead of M50 Steve Rohan-Jones in 17:30 and M45 Grant McKay in 18:39. The first lady was W55 Ann in 23:27 from W55 Jacki in 26:00. Dale ran 24:40, Mark 24:46, Robbie 24:46, Gordon 25:22 and Geoff 28:56. There was also an Australian Record for W80s run by the amazing Caroline Campbell, 28:52 to break Norma Wallett's equally amazing time of 31:11.58.