Last winter, Steve Cram, yes that Steve Cram, decided to see how he could put together a late season 5k. Steve’s partner, Allison Curbishley, sent me this release just when I was getting ready to cover the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.
We will cover the event this evening.
Elite international athletes to line up in the UK for new 5K road race
- fast5K is a new COVID-compliant, invitation only race organised by Steve Cram’s events company
- Laura Weightman and Jess Hull to go head to head in the women’s race
- Eric Jenkins, Thijs Nijhuis and Callum Hawkins take on each other in the men’s race
- Men’s and women’s races will both be streamed live by the BBC
A strong field of elite international athletes will line up in men’s and women’s 5K road races in the UK next Monday. The fast5K is being organised by Steve Cram’s company Events of the North and will be held under strict COVID-compliant conditions at The Three Sisters Race Track in Greater Manchester, and streamed live by the BBC. After excellent track seasons, the UK’s Laura Weightman and Australian Jess Hull will go head to head in the women’s race, while the USA’s Eric Jenkins and Denmark’s Thijs Nijhuis will take on Brit Callum Hawkins in the men’s race, which will also see an attempt on a national record by Northern Ireland’s Finn McNally.
The fast5K is giving an invited field of elite athletes a rare opportunity in 2020 to compete against each other in the UK in a 5K road race. The event is the brainchild of Steve Cram, who founded Events of the North, which usually hosts a series of large public running and multi-sport festivals each year, in Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead, Worcester, and at Kielder Water in Northumberland. The COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of that schedule. In response, Events of the North arranged a successful series of virtual festivals and also started work on exploring how to safely host races while the virus is still having a major impact on the events industry and society in general. The fast5K is the result of extensive, detailed preparation, with the venue carefully chosen and race arrangements strictly following the UK Athletics (UKA) COVID Code of Conduct. The event has a UKA licence.
In the women’s race, Laura Weightman and Jess Hull have both set PBs on the track this season. Weightman set PBs in the 1,500m and 5,000m and is now second on the all-time UK list behind Paula Radcliffe in the longer distance. Hull broke the Australian 5,000m record when finishing behind Weightman in the Diamond League meeting in Monaco in August, and went on to set another national record at 1,500m last month. Other leading British runners in the women’s race include Samantha Harrison, Claire Duck and Amelia Quirk, with Katie Snowden pacing the field.
The men’s race will see a fascinating battle involving Eric Jenkins, Thijs Nijhuis and Callum Hawkins. Jenkins has an impressive track 5,000m PB of 13:07 and is a former winner of the 5th Avenue Mile, while Nijhuis is the Danish record holder and Hawkins is the Scottish marathon record holder. Nijhuis and Hawkins will both be taking part as they prepare to race at the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland on 17 October. Also expected to challenge is Northern Ireland’s Finn McNally, who will be attacking the national record of 13:39, which has stood for 34 years. Other notable Brits in the race include Omar Ahmed (who won Events of the North’s own Worcester City Half Marathon in 2019), Adam Clarke, who has the quickest road 5K time in the field (13:42), Adam Craig and Graham Rush. The strong field in the men’s race promises an exciting clash of half marathon and marathon specialists, versus the 1,500m/5,000m track stars.
Race director Steve Cram comments: “After a hugely frustrating year for event organisers, we’re over the moon to be able to stage the fast5K. Our team has worked incredibly hard to ensure that everything we’re doing is as safe as possible in the current circumstances and we’ve attracted two really strong fields. The racing is going to be fantastic and we’re delighted that the BBC will be streaming it live for anyone to watch for free.
“Our very strong desire is that this event demonstrates how similar, and hopefully bigger, races can be re-introduced to the calendar in the months ahead. They represent an essential part of the athletics and wider sporting fabric and economy in our country – for competitors, spectators and event organisers alike – and have been sorely missed.”
The fast5K will take place on Monday 5 October with the men’s race starting at 6:00pm, followed by the women’s race at 6:25pm. Both races will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website, with commentary by Steve Cram and Jenny Meadows. For the latest updates and links, follow Events of the North on social media: Instagram – @eventsofthenorth_; Twitter – @EventsOTN; Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/EventsOTN.