All eyes on the Podium 5k and England 5k champs!

In the world of super shoes and electronic pace lights, Podium 5ks owe their success to a less fashionable concept – tradition!

But occasionally the old ways really are the best and can provide all the expertise and inspiration needed for what has proved to be a massively successful race series. Podium 5k founders,, went about creating what has become the must-do series of the year using the popularity of the Tuesday night at Stretford event as his template. From the 1980s and beyond, if you wanted a fast time, then you could do a lot worse than turn up on a Tuesday in Manchester, enter on the night and slot into a paced, fast race. Everyone from international athletes, using the evening to test form to club stalwarts hoping for a big improvement benefitted from the simplicity of the night; you were there to run as fast as you could and test yourself personally.

‘Put the athlete first’ is the Podium 5k’s philosophy. And that’s exactly what the Podium Festival on 16 March in Leicester will be all about when it hosts this year’s England senior and U20 5k Champs.

According to the Podium team, this year’s entry suggests the race will be “ridiculously fast” thanks to the 13:10 tempo set by the pacemakers that’s been requested for the men’s race. The women’s race will be similarly rapid although it has proved so popular it looks like it will have to be split into two such is the depth on show.

Women's 5k

A quick look at a few of the names to watch confirms just that. The women’s race features English talents of Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington, Rob Lewis) who hits the roads after a fantastic cross country season, Amelia Quirk (Bracknell AC, Mick Woods) with a PB of 15:27 and current England champion Ellie Wallace (North Somerset, Julian Emery) who set her lifetime best of 15:39 at the 2023 England Championships. Dropping down from the two 10ks she has raced so far this year will be Verity Ockenden (Swansea). Welsh representing Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Poole AC, Rob Denmark) tops the GB line-up, holding a fantastic best of 14:53.

Men's 5k

The men’s race will see Reading AC’s Jonathan Davies (Luke Gunn) testing his speed as he holds the third quickest time going into the race (13:14). The loaded field also includes mountain runner and 13:41 5k runner, Tom Evans (Lewes) along with National Cross-country champion Will Barnicoat (Aldershot Farnham and District). On paper he is just a 14:41 performer but given his strength and track speed, the Podium 5k should change that - which is what this event is all about. The fields will feature incredible strength in depth.

1k Time Trial

The Podium event will also feature a 1k time trial with Hannah Nuttall (Charnwood, Helen Clitheroe), Niamh Bridson-Hubbard (Blackheath & Bromley, Philip O’Dell) and Scotland’s Erin Wallace battling it out on the female side, with Tiarnan Crorken (Preston, Andy Bibby) the fastest male on paper.

Indeed, more than 1000 runners will be taking part with more than 2000 spectators expected at what promises to be the best 5k ever run in England. There will be more than eight hours of racing to enjoy plus a superb brand village that will feature product and activities from shoe giants such as Adidas, Puma, Asics, Hoka, Saucony, New Balance, Mizuno and Salomon.

“This will be something the running community has never seen before with the fastest runners competing for the biggest prize pot (£30,000) ever seen in a distance running event” Dan Cartner, head of marketing at said.

The Podium 5k series is no stranger to record-setting as Beth Potter (Shaftesbury Barnet) ran a British record of 14:41 in 2021, while Marc Scott (Richmond and Zetland) also has a British record of 13:20 to his name from the Barrowford event a year earlier. Over the longer distances there was also the European 10-mile record set by Emile Cairess (Leeds City) as he clocked sensational time of 45:57.

It bodes well for the future, and not just for athletes looking for British records. Just as Stretford produced a constant stream of PBs for everybody involved, now Podium 5ks do exactly the same for anybody looking to run just that little bit quicker be it the first time under 14 minutes or that elusive sub 20-minute clocking.

Further information

Information on the Festival, including the timetables (races start at noon and go to 8pm)