Another week, another set of fast outings on the road, trails and track. As per usual James Rhodes has covered all the action for you. Let’s get straight to it!

Brits in Belgium

A strong British contingent headed to the CrossCup in Hannut, Belgium – part of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour – and delivered some excellent performances.

The senior women’s race, over 8000m, saw four Brits in the top 11. Continuing her fine season, Megan Keith finished an excellent third in 28:49, eight second shy of winner Eritrean Rahel Daniel. She was followed by Amelia Quirk in sixth (29:19), Sarah Astin ninth (29:24) and Alex Millard eleventh (29:48).

The senior men’s race, over 9000m, saw Ned Potter finish fifth (29:08), 39 seconds off the leader. He was followed by Joe Wigfield 8th (29:25), Jack Gray 17th (29:45) and Andrew Milligan 20th (30:09). Frenchman Yann Schrub took the overall race victory.

There were British wins in both junior races (men over 6k, women 4.5k), thanks to Luke Birdseye and Innes Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald (15:31) finished precisely one minute ahead of compatriots Rebecca Flagerty (16:31), Sophie Nicholls (16:34) and Hattie Reynolds (16:41). Poppy Craig-McFeely (17:13) and Annie Mann (17:21) were eleventh and twelfth respectively.

It was a one-two in the junior men’s race, with Jacob Deacon (19:29) five second behind Birdseye (19:24). They were followed by James Dargan (19:43, 4th), Benjamin Peck (20:08, 8th) and Louis Small *20:11, 10th). Confirming the value of sending a team to Belgium, British athletes took seven of the top-13 spots.

Cross Country Closer to Home (which depends where you live)

The famed Parliament Hill course hosted the Middlesex County Centenary Championships on Saturday. It was a good day for Thames Valley Harriers, as they took both senior titles alongside the women’s individual. The latter came via Alex Mundell’s impressive 30:28 for the 8k course. This saw her finish 40 seconds ahead of clubmate Kosana Weir (31:08) and Harrow’s Eilish O’Grady (31:19).

Alex Mundell at the Middlesex XC Championships. Photo: Niki Faulkner

Jacob Allen was almost as dominant in the senior men’s race over 12km. The Highgate athlete’s 37:08 32 seconds ahead of Seyfu Jamaal of London Heathside (37:40) and TVH’s Michael Cameron (38:42).

In its first of two appearances this weekend, Heaton Park hosted the South East Lancashire Cross Country League on Saturday. Bethany Reid of Chorley AC was first in the senior women’s race, thanks to a time of 29:33. A 15 second margin provided East Cheshire’s Joe Hudak with the win in the senior men’s competition.

Race 3 of the PECO League in Yorkshire took place at West Park / Becketts Park, with guest athlete Dan Garbutt finishing ahead of Valley Striders’ Marcos Valero in the men’s race. Sarah Kemshall of St Theresa’s AC crossed the line over 30 seconds clear of the rest of the women’s field.

Closer to his home, not ours, Fast Running editor Robbie Britton made his annual outing on the cross country and finished 21st in the Piedmont Regional Champs. A 90 second improvement on the same course from last year there is debate in the Fast Running virtual office as to whether that is due to Tom Cragg’s coaching or my advice on cross country spikes.

No time for smiling on the last lap with a sprint incoming for the 24hr runner. Photo: Natalie White

Fast Road Racing

After victory at last month’s Tilli 10k, Robbie Simpson continued his winning streak at Sunday’s Farnborough Winter Half Marathon. The Commonwealth Games marathoner clocked 65:23 for his fastest HM since February 2020. Behind him was a lifetime best for Daniel Mulryan (65:39), his first half since 2017, with Alex Pointon third (67:04). Thirty seconds separated the top-three women, with Hannah Pullen (78:35) finishing ahead of Kelly Edwards (78:59) and Lauren Cooper (79:05). Rebecca Sleap (17:40) and Ross Wallingford (16:42) won the associated 5k.

It was not the only half marathon of the weekend, however. I imagine there was a sigh of relief for Matthew Chipping at the Inskip Half Marathon. Not only he took the win, but his chip time (69:59) saw him just inside 70 minutes. Jonathan Edwards (71:09) and Dan Edwards (76:59) completed the top three. The title of fastest female went to Hannah Butcher (92:08), finishing clear of Jackie Price (94:52) and Heather Morton (96:16).

North of the border saw some fast racing at the Nigel Barge 10k in Glasgow. Three U20 athletes took the top spots amongst the women racing. Led by Meredith Reid (34:13), with a 27 second margin to Natasha Phillips (34:40) and Josie Wren Golder (36:54). A fine run by Seyd Taha Ghafari (30:47) saw him finish 21 seconds ahead of Ross Good (31:08) and Stephen Addison (31:27). Excellent depth saw the top five all running under 32 minutes.

Regular RunThrough Racing

Both Active Training World and RunThrough continued their extensive calendar this weekend. The former provided races at Mallory Park; Adrian Whitwham (75:14) and Sammy Barnes (1:55:45) won the half marathon, and Elana Albery (38:05) and Bruce Raeside (32:15) the 10k. The shortest race, over 5k, went to Matthew Collins (14:52) and Rachel Vatter (18:12).

RunThrough, meanwhile, was in action in London and Manchester. In Regent’s Park, Kate Axford (17:26) was victorious in the 5k, but the men’s result I am less sure on. Unless Harry Rumble, absent on Power of 10, ran 13:53, in which case I apologise! Otherwise it was Sam Dodd (18:00) who should take the plaudits. Brendan Murphy (34:09) and Bianca Grotepass (41:48) capitalised on the excellent conditions in the capital (pun intended).

A day earlier, athletes were out at the QE Olympic Park. Christopher Norman (36:22), Monika Newton (43:43), Amy Valentin (24:27) and George Bennett (17:05) ran quickest over 10k and 5k respectively.
Moving to Manchester and Heaton Park, where Cliona McKenna (92:17) and Jonathan Manning (76:46) recorded wins in the half marathon. The 10k, meanwhile, went to James Bruce (35:53) and Julia Thomas (42:52), with Johanna McManus (23:06) and James Lewis (17:20) taking the 5k.

Metric Measurements

There have been a couple of fast ten-mile races also. The Fred Hughes 10, organised by St Albans Striders, went to Scott Cousins (49:38) and Kate Rennie (59:56), whilst Chelsea Baker (58:04) and Cole Gibbens (52:17) were fastest at the Pentland Homes Canterbury 10.

The Wolves Turkey Trot 5 Miler, postponed from November, went to Luke Vine (24:20) and Lucy Calrow (30:02). Earlier in the week there were wins for Chris McMillan (25:15) and Kelly Dicks (30:03) at the Weston Prom 5 Mile. Honours at the Linda Franks 5 went to James Denne (25:42) and Gemma Collier (29:15).

Round-Up of the Road Round-Up

I’ll attempt to summarise some of the other road races of the weekend succinctly. Nathan Postill (32:11) and Danielle Gibson (39:29) finished first at the Carlisle Resolution 10k, with the associated 5k going to Rachel Brown (18:25) and Paul Coon (16:26). Andy Lawrence (35:08) and Kate Wright (40:28) recorded the fastest times at the Tempo Winter Series 10k.

Further north, Alistair Douglass (15:49) and Stephanie Maclean Dann (19:16) took victories the Fell em Doon 5k in Ashington, Northumberland. Originally postponed due to bad weather, Phill Wylie (30:50) and Vicki Ingham (35:57) won the Christchurch Runners Christmas 10k.

Fell & Trails

Run over 48 miles from the Suffolk border to the North Norfolk Coast, The Peddars Way returned on Saturday. This year it was the turn of Iain Ward (6:24:21) and Juliette Watkinson (6:35:14) to record wins, the latter finishing third overall.

There were wins for Georgia Wood (65:18) and Aidan Daniel (54:21) at the Slaughterford 9. Second place finishes were set by Alex Hammond (56:26) and Heather Fell (66:19). Fun fact – Heather was the silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics in the Modern Pentathlon!

Georgia Wood & Heather Fell at the Slaughterford 9

He may now be best known as a coach, but Steve Vernon (24:15) showed his racing instinct remains intact with a near-two minute margin of victory at the Alderley Park 5 Mile Trail Race. Eli Kirk (27:09) was the fastest woman ahead of Beatrice Cordingly (28:04).

Taking place over 6.4 miles in Penarth, the CF64 Winter Race went to Jacob Tasker (34:59) and Ffion Williams (42:05). Shukila Jordan (46:44) and Andrew Ritchings (47:32) went quickest at the Lark in the Dark race on Wednesday.

Finally, Saturday’s Blake Fell Race was won by Nichola Jackson (41:48) and Billy Cartwright (36:40).

Indoor Speed Through

As is customary for my mid-January round ups, I end with some indoor results from the US. Rarely run indoors, this weekend saw the first entries to the 5000m rankings for 2023. They were set by Tom Heal (15:03.04) at the Carolina Challenge and Sebastien Vicary (15:30.28) at the Panther Invitational.

Scott Beattie (7:50.10) improved the UK lead for 3000m with a win at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational. In third, Isaac Akers improved his best to 7:54.28, sitting alongside a 4:01.14 mile at the same meeting.
George Watson set a mile PB (4:04.51) at the Cyclone Open in Indiana, as did Eddie Narbett (8:34.92) over 3000m. In Nebraska, the Mark Colligan Memorial also saw a mile PB, this time for Daniel Brookling (4:10.10).

Closer to home was an excellent season opener for Jenny Selman at the Scottish Athletics National Open. She clocked 2:02.70 for 800m, just half a second outside the European Indoor Champs qualifying time.