Chris O'Brien in the Romsey 5

Making a third appearance in the last four years at the Romsey 5, Chris O’Brien knew the course well and was aware what was required

As one of his regular ‘go to’ races, Chris O’Brien knows the Romsey 5 well and its one he always looks forward to. Set in the grounds of the Broadlands Estate, the three lap course is one of flattest in the country for the five mile distance and one that is often touted as PB material.

Those who have followed Chris’s journey will know that he struggles with his breathing and its effected him for over two years now, ever since he contracted covid. It’s been a tough road for him and he’s had to come to terms with the fact that he may not be able to hit the speeds he used to with the breathing difficulties he has.

To his credit though, he hasn’t thrown the towel in and his love for running has seen him keep at it and still go on to achieve some impressive results. Like his sub four hour time at the Run to the Sea 50k last summer. He may struggle with his short distance speed but he can certainly still build a great level of fitness and endurance so that is an aspect of running he can still excel in.

Ricky Brennan in the Romsey 5

It was Ricky Brennan’s third race of the year having taken part in the Broadstone Quarter and the Stubbington 10k

Joining him in the Romsey 5 was Ricky Brennan who has been running well since joining the club last year. He finished 22nd in the Dorset County Championship cross country race before Christmas and has already competed at the Broadstone Quarter and the Stubbington 10k so far this year.

In the Broadstone Quarter he got round in 41:22 and at the Stubbington 10k he managed time of 38:26. Now he was hoping to follow it up with a fast five mile time.

Start line of the Romsey 5

The runners gather on the start line as the big showdown is about to begin

Chris tends to have good days and not so good days with his breathing. Unfortunately, the day he did the Romsey 5, it was bad day. Consequently, he was pretty much redlining from start to finish, which was painful to say the least.

He battled through it though and completed the course 32:33 which put him in 40th place. His average pace for the run was 6:34 and he was 6th fastest in the 50 to 59 category.

Although he felt like he was struggling, it was actually only 21 seconds off the time he produced in last year’s race so that’s not a huge difference. It’s certainly in the same ballpark as all the other five mile races he’s done since the Littledown 5 in 2015 which was when he recorded his current PB of 30:53.

Trev Elkins at the start of the Romsey 5

Former BAC member Trev Elkins (green vest) is up near the front at the start of the race

On another day though, had his breathing been behaving, the likelihood is he could have gone much quicker. He has accepted that that is how it is for him though won’t allow himself to get disheartened by it.

As for Ricky, he had a pretty decent run to clock a time of 30:50 which put him in 16th place. That was out of 884 runners and in the 40 to 49 category, he came 5th out of 130. His average pace for the run was 6:10.

Chris O'Brien featuring in the Romsey 5

Chris O’Brien had some breathing difficulties but still produced a time that rivalled his previous attempts

Former BAC man Trev Elkins is also a regular at the Romsey 5 and he managed to bag himself a trophy by finishing as first vet and taking 6th place overall in a time of 29:20. He found the wind quite tough to contend with and his back three miles were a little slower than his first two. It was still an average pace of 5:52 though which was a solid effort.

In last year’s race it was Harry Smith who emerged the victor, with Matt Risden of Southampton taking 2nd place. In this year’s edition, Matt Risden finished runner up again in a time of 26:38. This time it was David Healey of Lordshill who topped the standings though. He got round in a time of 26:02 which put his average pace at an incredible 5:12.

Stuart Price was 3rd in 28:25 and Erin Willmers of Winchester & District was 1st female in a time of 30:21 which put her in 13th place overall. Kathy Dudman of City of Salisbury was 2nd female in 31:25 which put her in 25th place overall and Hayley Weston of Romsey Road Runners completed the top three female roster, clocking a time of 32:36 which put her 42nd overall.

There will no doubt be plenty more races to look forward to for Chris and Ricky over the course of the season and they will continue to train hard in a bid to get faster and improve on their times.