I am not sure if the Hollis Fast 5k is the fastest 5k road race in the world, but it is certainly the fastest 5k race I have ever completed. What makes this course so fast?
1) It is a point to point course with only one turn. You basically run straight down one road for the entire race.
2) The course has a gradual downhill grade. You will not be running out of control like you would if the downhill grade was steep. This allows you to run the entire race with your normal 5k stride, and you will be able to maintain your top end speed for a lot longer with the same effort.
3) Wide road, so really no issue with crowding.
4) Last mile has quarter mile marks so you know where you are for the entire last mile. (1 mile, .75, .50, .25 to go)
Here is some real data about how fast this course can be. Last year I ran all 8 races in the Good Times 5k series in Lowell, Massachusetts. The last 5 races in the series I ran between 19:06-19:36. The Good Times series ended the week before the Hollis Fast 5k so my conditioning did not change before I entered this event. My time at Hollis was 18:32. Not only was this about a minute faster than my average time last year, but it also broke my all time PR of 18:44.
Here is how I ran the race. I started out running with the normal effort I would give in a 5k but ended up running the first mile in 5:45 which is 10-15 seconds faster than usual. I am a crash and burn 5k runner so I usually run the 1st mile very fast and then die off to the finish. This is where the speed of the Hollis course pays off. Because the race is a gradual downhill the entire way, you are able to maintain a faster pace for longer. My time for the second mile was 6:02. The course flattens out in a few spots so you need to concentrate to maintain your pace. Keep telling yourself that if I can hold this pace for another 30 seconds the road will start heading downhill again. The beauty of the Hollis Fast 5k is that it continues going downhill right to the finish. My third mile was 6:07. I was dying, but the course enabled me to hold pace. I finished in 18:32 with a new PR.
I recommend that you do not wear a watch for this race. Since it is a downhill course you will have no baseline to know what is a good pace or bad pace. Run a hard controlled effort for the entire race and then give it everything you have for the last half mile. The bottom line is that if you are in good form right now, you should definitely enter the Hollis Fast 5k on June 14th. Sign up today as they only accept 1200 runners, and there is no race day registration. If you want a PR in the 5k this year....run the Hollis Fast 5k....you will not be disappointed.