Szymon Chojnacki after racing at the Piątka Praska

Szymon Chojnacki was gunning for quick 5k time at the Piątka Praska in Warsaw, Poland

As the competition for a place in the A team for the Aldershot Road Relays hots up, Szymon Chojnacki staked his claim with a superb run in the Piątka Praska, which translates as the Prague Five. The Piątka Praska is staged the same evening as the Półmaraton Praski, which is the Prague Night Half Marathon. It was a huge event, attracting a highly competitive field and Szymon knew he’d have to be seriously on his game if he was going to finish anywhere near the front.

If ever there was a man for the big occasion though, it’s Szymon. He loves it and thrives in races where the standard of competition is at its highest and that was certainly the case at the Prague Five, which was staged in Warsaw, Poland.

Getting swept up in all the excitement when the race got underway, Szymon started perhaps a little too exuberantly. In fact, he was going at sub five minute mile pace for the first half a mile. That culminated in a very fast 5:07 for his first mile split. It was always going to be difficult to maintain that sort of speed for the next couple of miles.

There was a slight incline in the second mile but Szymon was still going at a very good pace, albeit not quite as quickly as he was at first. Posting a 5:19 for mile two, he was on for a very get time if he could just hold it together for the last mile or so.

He really started to suffer over the last couple of kilometres though and had to dig in a bit. The fast start he made had indeed come back to haunt him. But he fought hard for it as he was seeking a personal best.

It didn’t quite happen for him on this occasion though and he went over the line in 16:26 which put him in 30th place overall. That was out of 1,974 runners. It was an excellent time from Szymon and he described it as one of the best performances of his running journey so far.

Putting him 3rd in the M40 category, it was a terrific result for Szymon and one that he thoroughly deserves from all the hard training he puts in. The course actually came up slightly long as well so Szymon’s average pace was a mightily impressive 5:14.

The race winner was Aleksander Wiacek in an incredibly fast time of 14:27. He was followed by Krzysztof Wasiewicz who got round in 14:44. Then it was Rafal Sulkowski taking 3rd in 14:50. The top five runners all came in inside 15 minutes underlining what a high standard race it was.

17 athletes in total made it to the line in under 16 minutes and that included Sabina Jarzabek who was first female in a time of 15:57. 45 athletes came in inside 17 minutes and Beata Klimek, who was 2nd female, crossed the line in exactly 17 minutes which put her 43rd overall.

The winner of the Prague Night Half Marathon was Matthew the Duck and he completed the course in a quacking time of 1:03:27. Krystian Zalewski was 2nd in 1:06:26 and Artur Olejarz took 3rd in 1:06:44.

There were six men who got over the line in under 1 hour 10 minutes and 31 who managed under 1:15. Izabela Paszkiewicz was first female in 1:14:23, which put her 24th overall and Emilia Mazek arrived 10 seconds later to take the second female spot in 1:14:33.

Szymon Chojnacki with his son Tymi at the Prague Five

Szymon’s son Tymi was on hand in case they needed him for lead bike duties in the Piątka Praska

Although he didn’t get the PB he was craving, it was still a top class performance from Szymon and he can replicate those sorts of levels at Aldershot, he’ll be in for a very fast time on the undulating 6k route.

It will most likely be between Szymon, Adam Corbin and Ben Collins for the last two places in the A team, with Rob McTaggart, Josh King, Ollie James and Stu Nicholas expected to be four of the six.

Adam recently ran a 16:15 at Poole parkrun so he’s in good form and Ben is usually right up the front in the training sessions, grinding out every ounce of speed he can get out of his legs.

This year Bournemouth AC will have a B team out as well, with Rich Brawn, Adrian James, Dan Trickett, Barry Dolman, George Biggs and David Pinney all aboard the fun bus for the journey up which will be driven by road runners team captain Rich Nelson.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Bournemouth AC men fare against the best clubs in the south east and whether they will fulfil their objective of qualifying for the National Six Stage Road Relays which will be held on Saturday 7th October.