The well received Elite Only Winter 10k at Newport Stadium was designed to give athletes an opportunity to race ahead of the Great Britain & Northern Ireland Olympic Team Trial for Marathon in Kew Gardens at the of March.
For others it was an opportunity to test fitness and see how close they could get to qualification standards for major Championships.
Charlotte Arter led the early stages of the women’s race, ‘putting in a shift’ to help training partner Jenny Nesbitt who was chasing the women’s qualification mark of 32:30.
Arter, Nesbitt, Clara Evans and Lily Partridge remained intact past the halfway point where they were on target pace to the second.
Nesbitt then took a turn to lead but when the pace slowed in the latter stages, Partridge pulled clear of the others and finished strongly in 32:33.16.
‘Yeah it was really good’ said Partridge. ‘It was obviously a confidence booster, I think I needed it ahead of Kew Gardens in three weeks time’.
‘It was a bit of a shock to the system. I don’t think I’ve run a track 10k since 2016. I’ve just got to recover now. I’ve got one or two hard workouts left and then taper’.
Jenny Nesbitt was next home outside her P.B. with 32:44.26 but nonetheless putting in a strong performance. Her Cardiff club mate and training partner Clara Evans was third in 32:49.01 some way ahead of her 36:20.35 P.B. from 2016.
Sarah Astin had been chasing a qualification mark for this summer but had to settle for a debut over the distance of 34:25.35.
Cairess pushes on for the win
Earlier in the day the men took their turn with pace-maker Ieuan Thomas did his best for the field of athletes leading them through the early laps in 68 second splits, in line with the suggested 28:30 pace.
Emile Cairess, Kris jones, Dewi Griffiths and James Hunt went through half-way in 14:10 in-line with the target pace that mimicked the Welsh Commonwealth Games qualification standard for Birmingham in 2022.
Kristian Jones was the last athlete to remain with Cairess when Griffiths lost ground with around five laps to go. Soon after Cairess began to pick the pace up and build up a commanding lead on Swansea Harrier Jones.
The Leeds AC Athlete increased the pace further over the last lap to lower his lifetime best to 28:14.30 with an emphatic victory. Jones then came agonisingly close to the desired 28:30 mark finishing just outside it in 28:33.17
Griffiths was the third athlete home in a solid 28:45.72, signalling that his preparations for the Kew Gardens spectacle on March 26th were going to plan.
Hunt recorded an impressive new P.B. of 28:59.63 on his 10,000m track debut and some way under his 29:43 road P.B. from the Lisburn 10k last August. Mike Ward came home in 29:43.92.
From a run to a walk
The 10,000m Race Walks were next up and also intended to offer athletes a preparation race ahead of the election event in Kew gardens.
Heather Lewis unlucky to miss her Commonwealth Games qualification target of 46:00 because of a penalty due to a technical infringement. Her time of 46:44.77 did not do her performance justice following the 60 second penalty but her time was still a new lifetime best.
Callum Wilkinson of Enfield & Haringey scored a dominant solo victory here to break his own national record by nearly 50 seconds, setting the new mark at 39:05.85.
He commented; ‘I’m very happy with that. I was keen to get a race under my belt. It was important to get a strong effort before the 20km trial in Kew at the end of the month. You’ve got to put yourself through a certain amount of pain in a 20k and so a really fast 10k is a good way of practicing that without having to batter yourself doing a 20k race’.
Throwing in some throws as well
The races were preceded by an elite only discus event which featured current British women’s Champion Kirsty Law of Sale Harriers who followed up a victory at Loughborough last week with a throw of 54.96 in Newport. Samantha Callaway was the runner-up behind Law in Loughborough and threw 48.71 today.
Talented Welsh youngster James Tomlinson threw 51.36 with Decathlete Curtis Matthews posting 45.10. There were throws for Disability Sport Wales Athletes Harrison Walsh and Zachary Tandy of 54.81 and 41.39 respectively.