On a day where a new chapter was written in the female marathon running history books, James Rhodes brings you the highlights of the weekend’s racing action.
It is impossible to start the round up anywhere other than the Berlin Marathon, where Tigist Assega took female marathon running into unknown waters. She didn’t just break, but absolutely pulverised, the World Record finishing in 2:11:53. A truly astonishing performance that sees her become the first woman to better not only 2:14, but 2:13 and 2:12 for good measure. It improves Brigid Kosgei’s previous mark by two minutes eleven seconds.
It was just Assefa’s third marathon, having raced over 800m(!) at the Rio Olympics. Not that you’d have guessed watching. The way she did it was just as impressive, reaching halfway in 66:20, increasing her pace over the second half to negative split a 65:33. The latter would have been the half marathon WR less than a decade ago.
Yes, she was wearing the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 – the shoes in the media for their rather insane price tag and (lack of) sustainability – but that does not detract from the enormity of the time set; one can’t attribute it solely to the footwear.
It was an excellent day for Charlotte Purdue too. She finished ninth in 2:22:17, taking over a minute off her lifetime best and running well inside the Olympic standard. It also moves her from fourth to second on the British all-time list, going ahead of Jess Piasecki and Mara Yamauchi.
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Louise Small improved her PB to 2:30:54, finishing 25th overall. Anya Culling (2:35:42) narrowly missed her fastest time, but Sally O’Gorman (2:37:48) bettered her previous best by over a minute. It’s great to see four British women inside the top 40 at such a prestigious race.
The headlines beforehand focused on Eliud Kipchoge, coming to Berlin in search of a record-setting fifth victory. The clock was a focus too, having bettered his own World Record on the same streets last year. The win was secured, but it was not to be a WR despite a fast opening pace. He finished in 2:02:42, over half a minute clear of deburants Vincent Kipkemoi and Tadese Takele. There have been twelve marathons inside 2:03; Kipchoge has run give of them.
Weynay Ghebresilasie had the best race from a British perspective, improving his lifetime best by over two minutes to 2:09:50. He becomes the eighteenth Brit to run under 2:10. Alex Lepretre (2:18:27) ran well in his second ever marathon, although shy of his 2:15 debut in London. Adam Clarke (2:22:33) paced Charlotte Purdue, his other half, but still finished, with Ben Leaman (2:23:04) less than a minute behind.
Streets of London
Whilst most eyes were focused on what was happening in Berlin, thousands of runners took to the streets of London for the Vitality 10,000. Sadly, the event did not provide elite fields this year; however, that did not deter some fast runners from running in search of a fast time.
Leading from the outset and not relinquishing that lead was Jack Rowe, who won in 28:13. The race acted as a warm up for next week’s World Road Running Championships, where he will compete in a Great Britain vest for the second time this year – having run at the European Indoor Championships in March.
Behind him was a close battle for second, with Ben Bradley (29:32) just getting the better of Callum Tharme (29:34). It was a PB for the latter. Irishman Keelan Kilrehill (29:46) was fourth with Ellis Cross (30:34) fifth. It was a tough day for Ellis, the previous winner of this race having been second at the halfway point.
In the women’s field, Sonia Samuels (33:01) considerably improved her PB of 33:18 set six years ago. The Rio Olympian finished almost a minute clear of Blackheath & Bromley’s Andrea Clement (33:52) who improved her best also. Holly Dixon (34:08) completed the top-three, just one second shy of her lifetime best.
Plenty of 10ks
London was not playing host to the only 10k of the weekend. There were fast times at the Sheffield 10k, where local athlete Eleanor Baker (35:35) improved her PB by twenty seconds in her first 10k of the year. Alexander Smith (32:09) was the fastest overall.
Dillon Millard (33:06) and Nicky Savill (38:56) were victorious at the Taunton 10k, with the Cambridge Cambourne 10k going to James Orrell (34:02) and Michelle Prior (41:13). Two races with a ‘d’ now. Richard Keep (35:00) and Melody Kane (41:13) crossed the line first at the Dartford 10k, whilst Fleur Peoples (42:12) and Michael Beckett (33:55) took the Devizes 10k.
Claudine Benstead (41:48) and Chris Murphy (35:38) won the Bradley’s Exmouth 10k. Laura Baylis (40:53) was quickest at the female-only Running4Women Windsor 10k. Another race not far from the capital was the Run Thorpe Park 10k. Its honours went to Graham Jones (35:24) and Carolyne Baxter (37:35).
Across the border in Scotland, Alastair Marshall (31:54) and Rebecca Burns (37:54) were victorious at the fast Linlithgow 10k. Mitchell Bunn (34:32) and Cassie Moden (40:08) won the Run Sandringham 10k, Helen Mussen (38:47) and Phil Johnson (37:12) the Moor Park 10k, and Mike Toft (33:47) and Belinda Houghton (37:00) Friday’s Fairhaven Flyer 10k.
Charlie Brisley had an excellent outing at the windy Folkestone Half Marathon on Sunday, improving his best to 68:41 in just his second outing over the distance. That is a near-three minute improvement, the same time he had clear on the rest of the field. Roanna Vickers (82:07) was the quickest female.
What’s better than one race starting with “win”? Two! Firstly to the Windsor Half Marathon. Georgie Bruinvels (79:42) and Hugo Donovan (71:14) crossed the line first in good performances for both. Next the Winchester Half Marathon where George King (73:17) and Rachel Olds (93:59) were victorious.
In Wales, Caryl Edwards (79:53) and Harry Waring (74:52) raced well to win the Llanelli Half Marathon. Not in Wales but in Nottingham, Nicholas Dennis (70:35) and Olivia Bates (84:03) crossed the line first at the Robin Hood Half Marathon. The quickest times at the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon were set by Hannah Cowley (87:51) and Lee Gratton (70:27).
Finally, there were wins for David Hudson (71:15) and Emma Hodson (80:27) at Runthrough’s Running GP at Bedford Autodrome.
At the time of writing, full results for each of the regional road relays were not available. One with full results available, however, was the Southern Relays held in Aldershot. The popular course brought out some fast times, with the senior men’s and women’s races going to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and Aldershot, Farnham & District respectively.
Steph Twell (19:50), Lauren Hall (20:55), Maddie Jordan Lee (20:32) and Kate Estlea (20:30) comprised the AFD winning quartet. Each ran the fastest times for their respective leg. They finished almost two minutes ahead of an AFD ‘b’ team, made up of Emily Moyes, Millie Jordan Lee, Pippa Roessler and Lilly Coward. Belgrave completed the top three, a further 80 seconds back.
The winning Shaftesbury team comprised Tom Butler (17:42), Henry Dover (18:25), Jeremy Dempsey (17:57), Kieran Clements (17:55), Dylan Evans (17:50) and Jamie Dee (17:31). The latter three ran the fastest times for those legs. Cambridge & Coleridge were second and Aldershot, Farnham & District third.