Doncaster Town Centre 5k, July 2019 – Ben Hales

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. —Steve PreFontaine, legendary 5000 metres runner

“20 minutes of pain”.

That’s how one Harrier described the five kilometre discipline last night.

Though it’s easy to take part in regular Parkrun 5Ks, there’s something a bit special about this one.

It’s a chance to race through the street of your home town with runners from as far as Salford, Stamford and Sutton-in-Ashfield. There’s prize money up for grabs, but more important than that, it’s a chance to get your PB on a fast road course.

And that’s exactly what most of the Harriers that took part at this year’s event did. In fact, the only member not to get a personal record didn’t do so because he stopped to help a fallen runner at the start – hats off to Richard Hoggard.

So popular has the Doncaster Town Centre 5K become that it’s split into two races: a veterans’ race followed by the open race. I decided to get the suffering over with in the earlier event.

The first lap hurt. My pulse was racing, my breathing fast and heavy, and my mouth was dry. On the second lap, turning past the crowd outside the Danum Hotel I felt a second wind. Then, buoyed on by encouragement from Chris Ramsay, Simon Elliot, Nathaniel Redcliffe and other Harriers, I increased my pace a little, concentrating on breaking my PB of 21:36.

Another lap of struggle then it was into the market for the final time, and I held off threats from behind, passing the finish line just as it turned 21 minutes – job done!

And it was lifetime bests all round – James Holloway romped home in 18:43, with David Langford a second behind. Andrew Finch made 21:49 and Amanda Lane 23:40.

We oldies headed straight to the Red Lion to earn some well deserved Heineken – or was it schadenfreude? Either way, we enjoyed watching Michael Plant (19:34), Tara Burkill (21:29) and Matt Millington (25:40) break the pain barrier, and set their fastest ever times.

Doncaster 5k

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