Sexarathon – Lilleshall 5 2024 Race Report by Seth Kirby

Seth Kirby running towards camera, another runner behind several metres distant

Some of the hill! The Tipton runner behind I’ve known since I was 11. He passed me at mile 4…

Race date: Wednesday 24th April 2024

Race distance:

Report by: Seth Kirby

The Sexarathon is a series of midweek races organised by Telford Athletic Club. To provide a bit of context, for a while I had been planning on getting a place for the whole series and some changes to my race schedule opened up the possibility in 2024. I decided to enter for two main reasons – my Mum had just moved to Newport (not that one…), which is not far from the majority of the races held around Telford. Also, offering the opportunity to schedule some regular time to visit throughout the year! Secondly, the series had reached its 40th anniversary making the series even more attractive to enter. There are six races in the series across the distances from 5k to 5m and although I won’t run them all, at £42, the events provided good value for money. I will most likely use these races as proper training sessions for the summer track meets.

Lilleshall 5 was the first race in the series. This five mile race is very similar to the South Yorkshire Road Race League races, only with a smattering of Black Country accents. I spent a lot of my youth living near Wolverhampton and I definitely prefer hearing northern accents around me! Lilleshall and its hall, just a stone’s throw away from the race, is one of the National Sports Centres and performance centres for sports such as gymnastics and archery. Back in the day, Lilleshall was the location for the Football Association’s School of Excellence (now located at St. George’s Park, Burton). The centre also houses Wenlock Hall, a multi-purpose sports facility, which is inspired by the modern Olympic Games movement (and Much Wenlock is not far away either!). Wenlock was one of the mascots of London 2012 too. I say this as some of you may not be aware but I’m fascinated by Olympic history and have spent a lot of my time during my research banging on about Olympic Games development, good and bad…

A large warehouse-style building, primarily blue. A sign saying "Lilleshall" is in front of it

Wenlock Hall

I ran to the race from my Mum’s house so ample opportunity to warm-up. The entrance to Lilleshall Hall is about a mile and a half away but the main car park is probably another two miles further – long driveway, I know! I had already prepared my terrible number positioning, and I dropped off my bag in the race HQ and was all set to go.

A trail with some spectators

Finish area

My aim was to use this race as a good training session and potentially get a Sheffield club in the top 100 on the Lilleshall 5 mile men’s rankings. The organisers shared a rankings list beforehand and to be included you needed to log a time under 29 minutes. I thought this was very achievable as I last ran a 5 mile race in 2022 at the South Yorkshire Road League and finished in just over 29 minutes in Penistone.

Now back to the race itself, the race starts and finishes just beyond the pavillion beside the football pitches. The route is an out and back with the first couple of miles heading downhill and, of course, the last miles uphill. I don’t really mind a few hills and an uphill finish! I went off a bit quicker than anticipated and after we left the quaint grounds at the turning point (potentially around 2 miles), we then looped around a pub and back past the main gates.

Several runners running flat out along a tarmac track

The fast downhill!

The main path takes us back up towards the runners completing their first two miles and rises past the sports facilities. I lost a bit of ground on the climb but was closing in on other runners in the last half a mile.

Two runners run toward the camera, other people are milling about

Runners finishing in the last 200m

Conditions on the night were close to perfect. I didn’t stay for the prize giving otherwise my mother would not have been happy for obvious reasons! The next event of the series I’ll be attending is in May, I believe. Both of the remaining fixtures I can make are 5ks which fits into my track programme more efficiently.

The men’s race was won by Luke Vine of Tipton Harriers in a time of 25:27 and the women’s race was won by Kate Wells (Telford Athletic Club) who finished in 30:43. 356 runners completed the race and I was the only Strider.

Strider result:

Position Name Category Time
12 Seth Kirby MSEN 27:26

The full results can be found here.

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