Podium Mile 2023

Holmfirth at the Podium Mile

On Saturday the 4th of March I arrived in a cold Barrowford attempting to beat Julian Rose’s record of 5.19 Vet 55-59 for a road mile for our club. About 30th in the UK all-time list for that specific age group. The Breaking 10 Mile event was the main focus of the event and an attempt to beat Richard Neuraker’s 30 year old British and European record of 46.02. Our own Club record is 47.20 by Graham Ellis in the Tipton 10.  Having seen Cairess first-hand in training around Carnegie’s track in Leeds, I reckoned he was well on for it.  However, Ian Stewart ran 45.13 in 1977 but there was some dispute over the course length.  These innovations are much needed in athletics to get the fans back and a good crowd amassed which showed good progress on this front.  The problem was obviously pace makers and how to get people fast enough and to go long enough with this kind of pace. And the rules prevent people starting, stopping, and joining in again.

Anyway, back to the open mile race which started at 4.15pm. Eleven started the race. It was cold and there was a slight head wind. This was a fast course. On the start line I looked around there was one chap my age, the rest all younger, looked super fit and ready for action. A small field. I was heartened by some good 600 m efforts on the Tuesday leading up to the race, 1.54; 1.53, 1.53 and 1.52, and six 450s all in 1.23-1.25. Also, a reasonable indoor 1500m and 5th in the British Master’s vet 55 final two weeks earlier. If I replicated that 1500 race, I would be on for a 5.13 mile given the usual 18 sec add on from 1500.

The gun fired and they were off.  After 600 metres I knew this was going to be hard all the way.  It felt like a track race.  I was last. Hanging on for grim death on the heels of a Cheshire athlete 10 years younger.

This pace was relentless. Somehow, I managed to keep with this Chorley chap for the remaining 1km circuit. I was digging deep into the well.  We flew by two struggling athletes from the lead pack. Kept my record intact of not being last, last occurred in May 1984 Yorkshire 1500m won by Peter Elliot.

I summoned a sprint finish to nudge in front of the Cheshire athlete and stopped the watch on 5.28. 9 secs short. But it is early days. Just did not feel that great. The cold or maybe just didn’t have the excitement of the BMAF final but maybe I was not quite on it, mentally. Anyway, the next day did some more 600s at Carnegie on the Sunday morning! I will revisit the mile again in the Summer.

The course is quiet, and the atmosphere really relaxed. No distractions like traffic or dog walkers, spectators wandering on the course etc. With a super-fast course, you attract a lot of talent from all over.  There were athletes from the North-East, Brighton, London, Scotland. A very well-organized event. But there’s no hiding place it feels like a track experience.  And there is a wind usually against you on the back straight…

Emile Cairess clocked 45.55 and broke the record.  Floating over the ground he looked quite effortless. Made it look easy. Next stop for him the London Marathon.  To give him his dues most of it was run solo. But there are rumblings still going on whether UKA will officially ratify it. Elite man’s winner mile Henry McLuckie 04.07; Elite women Calli Thackrey, 04.41, open mile race Luke Mins 4.22.

I got some free taster sample nutritional supplements for my efforts so that was a great result.

Next down to Mallory Park for a 5k in Leicester, in April, around the grand prix circuit.

Gary Graham

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