Back in February Tom Pidcock shook the cycling and running world when his Strava lit up with a startling time of 13 minutes and 25 seconds for a 5km run one frosty Sunday morning. He later posted on social media, “Maybe running is the sport for me.”
Big, if true, as the saying goes. A 5km time of 13.25 is, for the non-runners out there, a breathtakingly rapid time. It is only five seconds off the British record set by Marc Scott in August 2020. It would place Pidcock just outside of the all-time top-25 5km runners.
No wonder, then, that the eager data analysts of Strava quickly took to their laptops to crunch the numbers, their activity flagging fingers at the ready. Curious date entries, inconsistent pace calculation and squiggly GPS lines gave way to skepticism, and we began to wonder how accurate the 13.25 time was.
We decided to put the question to the man himself, when Rouleur sat down with Pidcock last week for an exclusive interview at his home in Andorra.
“I was on Wahoo and switched to Ineos Grenadiers and Garmin. I got my Garmin watch out and charged it and it was the wrong date and all that stuff,” Pidcock explains. “Apparently, the GPS was a bit out but I thought of this perfect place to do the run – if I do three laps, it’s 5km. And I started a little bit downhill – like Kipchoge did in his marathon... I measured it, did it and it said 5k on the watch.”
However, the amateur photometrists on Strava disagreed, and so too does Pidcock. “Apparently, it’s not 5km, the line is a little bit… not so accurate. I don’t know, maybe it’s a little bit wrong.”
Oregon official attempt
By any estimate, though, Pidcock’s running pace was still exceptional. So we wondered whether he would be attempting a more formal 5km effort on the track. “Yeah, I will do it at some point,” says Pidcock.
“Nike wants me to go and do it in Oregon at their facility, so after cyclo-cross worlds [Jan 29-30 in Arkansas], I’m gonna go there and do it,” he says.
“But we’ll see. I want to run one on the flat first to get another time. I don’t want to get over 15 minutes. It’s pointless, innit? The idea was to run sub-15 minute 5km at the end of ’cross season.”
“Who knows? We’ll see.”
Running has certainly become a popular crossover sport for cyclists, with Tom Dumoulin recently running a 32:28 10km, and Adam Yates also ticking off a sub-three hour marathon last weekend. We wonder whether Pidcock may be similarly tempted to test himself on the full marathon distance.
“Running for three hours? That’s unbelievable,” Pidcock says. “He’s gonna be absolutely wrecked. I went for a run yesterday and ran fast down the hill to the valley and my calves are in pieces. I don’t know how he ran for three hours.”
While there's little doubt that Pidcock has the physiology, we'll have to wait and see whether his form, and schedule, will allow his Oregon attempt in early 2022.