top of page

The Pednor 5 – Luke David Willem

Before I really knew much about running, I knew about the Pednor 5. In itself it’s nothing special; organised by Chiltern Harriers it’s a five mile race on the outskirts of Chesham. It uses an under-trafficked loop of tarmac that runs away from the town along the valley floor, rises up the valley side to a farm at the top of the hill, then loops back along the ridge past some houses back to where it began five miles before.

While this race bears little significance to those outside of the HP5 postcodes, for me it has always been the race that I try to fit into my calendar. Growing up in Chesham, ‘the Pednor Loop’ is the place that you’d go for a walk, a run, a cycle. As a child who played tennis at the club used for the race HQ, the Pednor 5 was the one Monday a year where a collection of vest clad adults took over the club house. As a teenager it was the bank holiday where race-worn bodies poured into the pub I worked in. As an adult who got back into running, it was the first race I did.

At first I was just turning up in football shorts to race proper split-short wearing athletics club members, but having finally become one of those athletics club members last year, it was a home race that I was keen to share with hoop-clad friends. Cajoling other team members to join in was met with mixed success. Nick Christie was quick to jump on, followed by Sam Sutherland who had signed up before I finished explaining the race (though he did then have to negotiate his way through leaving Emma post Milton Keynes marathon to put both children down to bed). Rob Duggleby agreed to complete the team if we didn’t mind that he might be hungover, with Roma De Netto making the solitary women’s entry.

Having trundled out to the very end of the underground, my band of soar vested ‘where’s wally’s’ had collected numbers, warmed up and lined up at the start. A moments applause rang out for a recently passed Chiltern Harrier, then their president (a low budget imitation of our beloved Bill O’Connor) passed the ceremonial airhorn over, accidently pressing it while doing so thus setting the race off slightly earlier than anyone had expected.

Like a cross-country race on tarmac, the field bundled into the narrow lane; arms, legs and bodies clashing, with one runner ending up face first in the roadside puddles (thanks to the bank holiday weather for topping these back up). Settling in, the race opened into a 2-mile push along a ribbon of tarmac shouldered by green fields, rolling hills and red kites soaring over head. With an incline imperceptible to the naked eye I picked up the pace to catch back up to Nick whom I’d lost in the melee, dodging the puddles and potholes, slowing my breath as best I could to try and make it seem like I wasn’t working as hard as I was.

At two miles the road turned up hill, while Rob will claim I undersold this element of this course, it’s no hiller than Gladstone parkrun, it just comes all at once (I looked it up, it’s the same elevation to the metre). Grinding this out with eyes to the ground I knew the ridge just around the corner tips ever so slightly downward the entire way home. With a chance to open the legs as the k’s flew past faster and faster, I tried my best to pick off runners left and right for the team score. With a short sharp finish the race throws you back out onto the valley floor hurtling toward the finish line, elbows wide like all too many parkrunners at the finish funnel.


Sam came in as the first V40 having battled with Rob throughout (the trophy turns out to be just big enough for a single measure of tequila), and Roma came in with a 16 minute PB around the Pednor lanes. We finished fourth as a team just 2 points shy of Ealing Eagles, but there’s always next year to try and win a tankard and share some home lanes with some hoop clad friends.


bottom of page