It's 'Test and Race' at Kempton Park Reunion 5K
First steps towards the return of mass participation running events were taken by 1,874 runners in the London Marathon Events Reunion 5K
Freddie Slemeck (Hercules Wimbledon, 15:26) – pictured above – will be remembered as the first finisher in the first mass participation running event to be held since Lockdown 3.0 was imposed in England on 6 January 2021, when he won Race B at the London Marathon Events Reunion 5K at Kempton Park Racecourse on Saturday (15 May).
LME Reunion 5K was held as part of the government’s Events Research Programme and is the only running event in Phase 1 of the test events schedule. Runners took part in two 5K races, one socially distanced and one with no restrictions, in a significant step towards the return of mass participation sporting events.
Non-scientific comparison of the two races shows that more people opted for the non-socially distanced Race B and generally ran faster, although the best overall time was set in Race A by GB international ultra runner Ollie Garrod (South London Harriers, 15:18 PB) with runners setting off in pairs every three seconds. After winning, Ollie Garrod said: “That was brilliant. It was really well organised, we all felt safe and it’s so good to be back running together. I’ve got a place in the London Marathon in October and this is a massive step towards that.”
Race A saw 85 finishers inside 20 minutes and Georgina Parker (18:53) making a fine 5K race debut as the first female. There were 785 finishers in 47:05. Meanwhile, the stronger field in Race B saw Steph McCall (Herne Hill Harriers, 17:37) first woman among the 125 athletes who ran 20:00 or better and there were 1,089 finishers in 49:58.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events, who took part in the second race, said: “What an amazing day. It was incredible to be back on the start line, shoulder to shoulder with fellow runners, for the first time for 15 months. This is such a significant step towards the return of mass participation events across the UK – from parkrun to the London Marathon. We all need the joy and inspiration of running together again – it’s so important for the mental and physical health of the nation.”
All runners and spectators had to take a Covid-19 PCR test on the day of the event and will be asked to take another test on Thursday as part of the data collection. Everyone entering the Kempton Park venue also had to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 lateral flow test.
The event was organised by London Marathon Events, supported by the Mass Participation Sports Organisers (MSO), a collection of the UK’s biggest mass participation sports organisers including parkrun and Great Run, the organisers of the Great North Run.
Full results are available via runABC South comprehensive race listing here
Image: Freddie Slemeck wins Race B at Reunion 5K courtesy London Marathon Events