It was an extremely cold morning with spitefully strong winds on the day of the Victory 5 but that didn’t stop three bolshie Bournemouth AC members from getting in on the action at one Europe’s best and most illustrious 5 mile races.
Organised by City of Portsmouth AC, the Victory 5 returned after a Covid-enforced absence in 2020 and it was the 75th annual edition of the race.
It was one of those races that has always attracted a high standard field and has even had some of the Kenyans coming over the past to take part but vie for the prize money.
There is usually a healthy contingent of high quality runners from local clubs as well, with Southampton AC, City of Portsmouth and Tonbridge AC well represented, along with Winchester & District AC and City of Salisbury.
Rob McTaggart led the line from the BAC perspective and he was joined in the race by his partner in crime Nikki Whittaker. Also representing the club was Trev Elkins, who five months ago became a father for the first time.
Despite the duties of fatherhood coming first, Trev had been running pretty well of late and had already secured a parkrun PB of 17:39, a 10K PB of 37:24 and a 10 mile PB of 1:04:17 this year.
He also had one 5 mile race already to his name, completing the Romsey 5 in a time of 29:52 which was his fastest time over that distance to date.
As for Rob McTaggart, he’d also been showing some terrific form of late, winning the Wimborne 10 two weeks prior in the Victory 5 in a time of 53:34 and recording a superb time of 1:10:48 in the Reading Half Marathon a couple of weeks before that.
He’d also demonstrated that he’s still got the short distance speed in his legs as well with an electric 15:33 time at the Friday Night 5k Under the Lights in Battersea Park.
He’d also competed in the Victory 5 before as well back in 2017 when he had a brilliant run to take 5th place in a time of 25:48. That was still his fastest 5 mile time to date.
Nikki Whittaker had competed in the Upton Summer Series earlier in the year, running three of the races and improving her times on each occasion.
She’d also showed signs of getting back close to her best form recording a 53:11 at the Lordshill 10k and a parkrun of 24:41 at Poole a month before the Victory 5.
Despite the conditions being less than ideal, Trev didn’t let it get the better of him and fought hard to keep a good pace going.
It was a day where he was feeling really strong and seemed to be overtaking others for virtually the whole round as opposed to being passed by others so that was a refreshing change for him.
He was in and around the 6 minutes per mile mark for most of his splits and got to the line in a superb time of 29:52, which put Trev in 86th place in a field of 676.
That may not sound all that high but it’s worth bearing in mind that the standard of the field in this race is particularly high. He was also 7th in the Male Vet 40 category.
It was also a PB equalling performance from Trev as it was exactly the same time he’d recorded in the Romsey 5 in September. The Romsey 5 is a mixed terrain race though but on that day he didn’t have to face the fierce and freezing wind that he had to contend with in the Victory 5.
By contrast, Tag did not enjoy the course this time round and found it quite dull and uninspiring. The course was also quite twisty which meant he found it hard to get into a rhythm.
With his splits regressing, he lost interest after about 10 minutes and ended up just coasting through the rest of the race.
It still led to a finishing time of 26:22 though which is in incredible time by most people’s standards and put Tag in 16th place in the overall standings.
It certainly wasn’t what he was hoping for or expecting though he so quickly put it behind him and moved onto the next without even disclosing the race on his Strava profile.
It was a very different story for Nikki though. Despite the tough conditions, she paced her run extremely well, starting off at around 8:10 minutes per mile and managing to stick at the pace, or faster, with each split.
In fact, her second mile and her fifth mile were exactly 8 minutes or just under, making it a very strong run in the end for Nikki.
Crossing the line in a time of 40:25, Nikki finished in 428th place overall and was 121st fastest female. Her average pace for the run came out as 8:06 minutes per mile.
Her previous best 5 mile time was the 40:42 she recorded at the Mayday 5 in Poole back in 2017, so it was a good 17 seconds off that.
It was never going to be a day when Rob Denmark’s course record of 22:43 was threatened but Southampton AC man Alex Tueten did well to seal the victory in a time of 24:03.
That was enough to give him a 12 second winning margin over Jonathan Cornish of Hercules Wimbledon who was 2nd in 24:15. Jack Woods of Worthing & District took 3rd place in 24:34.
It was a Tonbridge AC one and two as far as the women were concerned with Nicole Taylor finishing as 1st female in 27 minutes exactly and Lucy Reid 2nd female in 27:15.
They finished 23rd and 25th overall. Then it was Emily Wicks of Aldershot Farnham & District next in in 29th place with a time of 27:44.
Sometimes when the conditions are trying and the chips are down, athletes can come out and produce their best performances and that was certainly what happened that day to Nikki and Trev.
That’s when character and determination become all important and it’s the unwavering desire to be the best that you can be that takes precedence.