As July draws to a close, there is plenty of racing opportunities at home and abroad. James Rhodes brings you the highlights from another busy weekend both on the road and track.

Strong winds were a defining feature of Saturday’s British Milers Club Grand Prix at the University of Birmingham. One of the strongest races of the evening was the men’s 3000m where eight athletes ran inside eight minutes. They were led by a John Wood coached duo in James Gormley (7:49.61) and Alfie Manthorpe (7:53.54), who both set lifetime bests. There were PBs also for George Wheeler (7:57.64), Ben Potrykus (7:58.93), Andrew Penney (8:01.99), Angus McMillan (8:04.19), Jack Goodwin (8:04.94) and Daniel Bebbington (8:06.88).

Photo: James Rhodes

The ‘b’ race was won by Harry Wakefield (8:07.24), also a lifetime best.

Australian duo Lauren Ryan (8:53.75) and Caitlin Adams (9:02.16) finished top two in the women’s race, with Beth Kidger (9:06.29 PB) third. Racing in On colours for the first time, Innes Fitzgerald finished fourth (9:07.85).

Photo: James Rhodes

Niamh Bridson-Hubbard (4:11.13) and Joe Wigfield (3:38.96) won the respective 1500m races. Both competed in Tooting on Wednesday, where Joe set his PB. Max Heyden (3:44.83) and Jack Gumm (3:45.02) improved their bests, as did Sarah Tait (4:17.30).

Photo: James Rhodes

Alex Bell secured an Olympic qualifying mark with 1:59.28 in the 800m, finishing clear of Khai Mhlanga (2:02.59) and Jenny Selman (2:04.01). In fifth, Jill Cherry (2:04.42) improved her PB. Justin Davies (1:49.84) took the men’s race.

Photo: James Rhodes

Earlier in the week, Bradley Giblin (3:46.15 PB) finished just ahead of Harry Wakefield (3:46.42 PB) in the 1500m at the Trafford Gold Standard on Tuesday. No women raced the distance. Jessica Spilsbury (2:05.56) and Megan Davies (2:07.08) set lifetime bests in the 800m. Meanwhile Archie Parkinson (1:48.43) led the first three to PBs inside 1:49.

Also on Tuesday, Innes Fitzgerald (4:15.39) and Jack Organ (3:59.05 PB) recorded the fastest 1500m times at the Exeter Regional Races. Abbie Milnes (2:12.64 PB) and Sam Gentry (1:56.27) were quickest over 800m.

Torrential in Tooting

With a prize pot of £8,000, the Tooting Regional Races on Wednesday attracted good fields despite particularly wet conditions.

New Zealander Sam Tanner ran a BMC all-comers record of 3:35.15 in the 1500m. It was a particularly impressive race with nine of the following eleven athletes setting PBs. They included Callum Elson (3:35.39), Tom Keen (3:37.11) and James Gormley (3:37.51).

A happy Callum Elson. Photo: James Rhodes

Georgia Bell (4:12.16) improved her lifetime best to win the women’s 1500m from Revee Walcott Nolan (4:13.15), who had earlier run the 800m, and Rebekah Greene of New Zealand (4:13.92).

Fast Running’s Hannah Irwin was just 0.16s shy of her PB (15:46.03) ahead of Sarah Astin (15:49.18) and Steph Twell (15:58.30). The latter both ran their fastest times of 2023. Rebecca Johnson (15:58.48 PB) ran inside 16 minutes for the first time in her career.

After taking turns to lead in the pouring rain, Jonathan Escalante-Philips (14:02.41) got the better of Oscar Bell (14:03.30 PB) in the final lap to win the 5000m. Behind Sam Gebreselassie (14:10.20) and Andrew Fyfe (14:11.29) set PBs.

Making her second appearance of the week is Alex Bell. She bounced back from the disappointment of not being selected for the World Championships to run a solo 1:59.42. That is her fastest time since the Olympics final in 2021. Sam Reardon (1:47.31) won the men’s race having competed at the London Diamond League on Sunday.

Photo: James Rhodes

Domestic Track Action

Plenty has continued to happen on the track domestically. One performance that largely went under the radar was at the Trafford Grand Prix, where Abbie Donnelly (8:58.59) improved her 3000m PB by over 20 seconds.

Jason Hall (8:31.41) was the fastest male and also revised his PB. Henry Sinclair (3:57.37 PB) and 800m specialist Molly Hudson (4:20.76 PB) were fastest over 1500m, and Tamsin McGraw (2:11.47) and Jacob Smith (1:52.59 PB) the same in the 800m.

Haydn Arnall (8:33.39) was quickest over 3000m at the Watford Harriers Open on Wednesday, in a race where 13 of the top 16 set PBs. Grace Carson (9:20.55) was the fastest female. In her first race since the European U23 Championships, Alex Millard (4:14.72) ran over 1500m as did Max Nicolle (3:56.08). Eleven ran inside four minutes.

Held in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium, the Tracksmith Twilight 5000m provided Alex Pointon (14:27.0) and Elizabeth Apsley (17:29.3) with quickest times.

Jack Woods (8:34.82) and Ciara Muzio (10:06.50 PB) went fastest for 3000m at the Brighton Track Night. Eleanor Strevens (2:13.18) and Alexander Riley (1:53.82) recorded the fastest 800m times. Abbie Stewart (5:08.40) and Jonathan Fairgrieve (4:40.20) both set PBs and the fastest times at the Marag Mile in Stornoway.

There’s More!

The Kettering Town Harriers Open saw Mark Hill (8:56.10) and Katerina Hemmington (11:37.42) set lifetime bests over 3000m. Amelia Towlson (4:53.84) did the same in the 1500m, with Rio Carr (4:22.88) the fastest male. Finally, Chris Pickering (1:59.15) and Jenny Critchley (2:20.44) took the 800m.

In the backdrop of the new trackside clubhouse, Steve Camacho (4:50.95) and Melody Kane (5:36.36) set the fastest mile times at the Blackheath & Bromley Harriers Open. The quickest 1500m times belonged to Alex Jack (4:27.85) and Amber Matthews (4:30.01 PB).

Also midweek, Sam Wilson (4:37.29 PB) and Ruth Brook (5:02.83 PB) were quickest for 1500m at the Cheltenham Midsummer Open.

Gary Pelosi (32:45.3 PB) and Hannah Turner (40:34.2 PB) set the fastest 10,000m times at the Biggleswade Track Fest. Jack Gray (8:04.0) finished ahead of Alex Melloy (8:19.3) in a male-only 3000m.

Other noteworthy performances include PBs for Marcus Etheridge (8:50.32) and Helen Hall (9:29.20) at the Aldershot, Farnham & District Open. At the same event, Rachel McClay (2:05.43) and Matthew Seddon (1:55.57) ran the quickest 800m times. On Tuesday, Katie Francis (4:36.47 PB) and Adrian Bailes (3:58.79) were quickest for 1500m at the North East Grand Prix in Jarrow.

Finally, Jacob Hurrell (2:00.13) and Rosie Geoghegan (2:20.44) set the fastest 800m at Saturday’s BFTTA Open at Lee Valley.

Midweek Racing

The end of the month often brings a flurry of midweek 5k races, and July was no different. The quickest was Ollie Garrod (15:20) at the Serpentine Last Friday 5k in London’s Hyde Park. He finished almost a half a minute before anyone else, with Jenny Bannerman (17:41) the quickest woman by 20 seconds.

Cassie Thorp (17:12) and Paul Navesey (15:41) were victorious at the Lakeside 5k. The latter finished just four seconds ahead of Mike Houston (15:45 PB).

Sarah Potter (16:38) and Matthew Thackwray (16:14) ran well at the at the July edition of the Leeds 5k. There were wins also for Paul Graham (16:41) and Karen Smith (20:02) at the Workington Summer 5k, and Sion Daniels (17:18) and Dee Jolly (20:59) at the Poppit Sands 5k.

Emily Kearney (16:41) and Joshua Makin (16:35) recorded wins at the Wirral Seaside 5k. John Alton (17:11) and Shavaun Jordan (20:13) did the same at the Fast and Furious 5k in Stourport-on-Severn.

Also midweek, Chloe Dooley (35:56) and Ryan Callahan (33:20) crossed the line first in the Chase the Sun Battersea Park 10k. Almost a minute ahead of the rest of the field was Ollie Garrod (15:17) in the associated 5k. Elizabeth Joyce (18:31) was the fastest female. Garrod’s first of two races in the week!

The Run Media City 10k went to Jonathan Manning (34:51) and Nellie Chadwick-Smith (40:35). Victories in the 5k were taken by Kellyanne Towns (21:48) and Harley Henshaw (16:45).

Weekend on the Roads

There has been no shortage of racing opportunities on the road over the weekend. They included the Magor 10k, which saw victories for Matthew Rees (31:55) and Antoinette Dumayne (37:36).

Max McNeill (54:41) finished over five minutes before anyone else at Deeside Runner’s Ballater 10, with Nicola MacDonald (64:05) the fastest female. Sticking with ten miles, Emma Hodson (59:05) and Matt Williams (55:00) won the Heckington 10.

The East Peckham 10k, in Tonbridge rather than South London, went to Glen Stallard (31:36) and Imogen Amos (37:51). Naomi Elliott (18:27) and Alastair Watson (15:00) crossed the line first at the Newstead Abbey Dash 5k, with Rob Warner (17:28) and Jenny Heymann (19:59) doing the same at the Harold Wood 5k.

Neill Whittaker (83:19) and Fiona Tideswell (99:42) won the Lee Valley Sundowner Half Marathon. The associated 10k went to Becky Evans (46:15) and Joshua Tarn (37:31).

Paul Selian had an impressive run on the multi-lap Battersea Park Half Marathon. His time of 65:18 saw him cross the finish line over eight minutes ahead of Ryan Hogan (73:36) and Sean Collum (75:03). Whilst not as large, Julia Bijl’s winning margin (80:42) over Emma Navesey (82:44) and Kate Williams (88:22) was also impressive.

Easing into the longer side of things this weekend was the Round Reading Ultra Marathon. Taking in 50k, it was Sarah McIntosh (4:34:15) and Bryan Wilkins (3:40:29) who reached the finish line first. Bryan finished sixteen minutes before anyone else. Meanwhile, Sarah finished precisely six minutes ahead of Vicky Bosley Fairbrother (4:40:15).

Late swings in the world of ultra

Two of the UK’s classic ultra-marathons are the Lakeland 50 and 100 milers in Cumbria. On a mixture of fell and runnable trail/coach road around the Lake District they often sell out within minutes and also see a strong competitive end of the racing too.

2023 was no different with Sabrina Verjee a clear winner in the women’s race in 23 hours, but the men’s race was a tighter affair with eventual victor Andy Berry overtaking long time leader Jarlath McKenna in the final miles.

At the last checkpoint of Tilberthwaite McKenna had a 19 minute lead and by the finish line an hour later Berry had turned this into an 11 minute gap in the other direction. If you’re chasing then never stop before that finish line (ironically McKenna was on the other side of such a swing in the ACP 100k earlier this year when a long time pair leading both dropped out or slowed to a crawl).

In the 50 mile race it was previous winner Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn who took the tape in 8:23 and Neil MacNicol of Scotland, much like Berry in the 100, who passed Robert Trigwell in the final section to win in 8:03, just 90 seconds ahead of second place.