Race Review: Sphinx 5 miles

This was a race of firsts. First ever 5-mile race, first ever WRRL race, first evening race, and my first true Striders club race.

I was a little daunted at the thought of this race. My running club (Spa Striders) held their race of the WRRL season a couple of weeks earlier, and I chickened out running it, offering instead to help marshal the race.

Why was I a little concerned? I am a club runner, but I do not run at a pace you would normally associate with a club runner. In a general race, I seem to be resolutely mid-pack, no matter how much I try to progress!

Therefore there was a very real fear that I would come last. I have come last in many races before, in fact, in my first (and only) Olympic distance triathlon, I was so far behind the leaders, I arrived at the finish line to find the entire transition area packed up with only my bike and box left in the middle of a field. I don’t necessarily mind coming last, but I did not want to be the last over the line in such a heavily strider dominated field!

Race Information

Where: War Memorial Park, Coventry
When: Wednesday 8th June 2016
Distance: 5 miles
Weather: Hot & humid

About the race

A five-mile race in the evening in Coventry? What is this Witchcraft?

No, I haven’t gone loopy, the race, was really on a Wednesday afternoon. The Sphinx 5 miles race was the third race in the 2016 Warwickshire Road Racing League (WRRL) calendar. Organised by the Sphinx Running Club in Coventry, it is a popular race in the calendar and has been run in and around War Memorial Park for the last six years. Visit the Sphinx RC website to find out more.

This may have been my first evening race, but as a fully signed up member of a WRRL affiliated club, it will not be my last! In fact, come August, I will be running a 5-milerace around War Memorial Park again in the Godiva Autumnal 5.


Cake,water and a nice shiny medal. What more could you possibly want?

A few of my club mates had mentioned that cakes available after the race. What they didn’t tell me, was that the cakes were homemade and awesome. Unfortunately all the amazing looking cupcakes had gone by the time I got there, but that is just an incentive to run faster next year. The lemon traybake that I did have, was divine!

Support/ Marshalling

Given that the race was on a Wednesday evening, the support around the course was fantastic. But I suppose that is the benefit of running a club race!


The war memorial park in Coventry is a lovely place to run. Wide, tree lined tarmac paths, and completely traffic free; the ideal location for a run! With the exception of one 1/2 mile section (which you run twice), the whole race takes place within the confines of the park.


Fast and flat(ish). The course comprises of two laps of a 2.5-mile route. The majority of the course is within the park itself, but there is around 1/2 a mile which leaves the park and runs along the road outside the park before cutting back in. I used to live in Earlsdon, and my general weekday run included part of the race course, so I knew the area well.


This is a VERY popular race that regularly sells out, so I was happy that I got a place. The race is limited to 350 people, and when it is full, it’s full. The organisation, was fantastic. All the numbers were picked up on the night and there were very enthusiastic marshals at every corner cheering on all the runners as they made their way around the course.

There was no water on the course, which normally wouldn’t have bothered me, but as summer decided to start this week, and knowing that i don’t work well in the heat, I took a small bottle with me. As it was, I didn’t need it, but it was nice having that safety blanket there, just in case!

Getting there and getting back!

The War Memorial Park in Coventry is probably one of the easiest places to get to in Coventry. With a large car park, there was no problem with parking and we got in and out with no hassle at all. If only all races were that easy!



It was my first five-mile race, and I had no idea what to aim for time wise, or pace wise. So in an attempt not to overcook it in the first mile, I opted to run to an HR target, rather than a pace target. I knew from my fast finish runs and speed work that I could hit a sub 9 min mile with an HR of over 170, so that’s what I aimed for.

In the end, my average heart rate was 173, so I managed to keep up the effort all the way through (despite some horrendous indigestion between 2 miles and half way. Note to self, toast within an hour of the start time was not a good idea). But my pace was not where it needed to be. I was hoping I could hit an average of 9 min per mile, but in the humidity, it wasn’t to be, and I averaged 9:16, but that just gives me something to aim for in August!


I feel like racing tonight, racing tonight!

Firstly, I am very sorry about how long it has taken me to get another post up. When I logged on this morning, it said that my last post was published two months ago! How is that even possible? I know they say that life speeds up as you get older, but this is ridiculous!

So what have I been up to?

Life has been phenomenally busy since my last post as the summer racing season is in full swing. In fact, since the Tewkesbury Half Marathon, I have raced four times and the calendar does not let up anytime soon!

Why so much racing?

‘Tis the season! As I mentioned many blog posts ago, I am now a fully-fledged member of the Spa Striders Running Club, and as such I am eligible to take part in all the league races that are put on around the county.

As a Warwickshire club, Spa Striders are a member of the Warwickshire Road Racing League (WRRL).  The League consists of a series of 12 races across a variety of distances where all the Warwickshire clubs compete against each other for running glory. As an added bonus, many of the races are also included in our intra-club summer series where we compete against each other for running glory.

As a relatively slow runner compared to my clubmates (which includes a super speedy woman who qualified for the London Marathon championship race this year, as well as  the current female GB 100km champion), I am not going to be able to win any points with my finishing times. So my only hope in getting any sort of decent position in the internal club competition is by racing lots. My hope is lots of mediocre performances might beat a stellar performance, hence the racing overload.

How’s it going?

So far, my results have been mixed. I have set a new PB over the 5-mile and 5km distance, although as it was the first time I have ever raced these distances I’m not sure it counts! The Northbrook 10km didn’t quite go to plan and I was an annoying 54 seconds slower than I had hoped (01:00:54 is not a nice time to see against your name) and the Arden 9 I entered and then had to pull out from as I had forgotten it was the same day as my little cousin’s christening (oops).

I am in the process of writing up a race report for each of these races, so watch this space!

What’s next?

My next races are the Stratford 6 miles (not 10km, 6 miles) and the Summer Shakespeare 10km where I hope to crush my 10km PB from last year! Sub 55 mins, here I come!

In summary, I am really sorry for the 2-month break, but I am back up and running now, so expect to be overrun with posts from here on in! Oh, and before I forget, I’m planning another marathon in November (it doesn’t do to be idle).

Hope you are all well. Until next time, happy running!

Helen xx