One of the busiest weekends in a while saw eyes focused primarily on the British Indoor Championships and World Cross Country Championships. However, there was much more happening on the roads and trails, both at home and abroad. James Rhodes brings you the highlights.

Brilliant in Birmingham

Some may have commented on the lack of ‘star’ names at this weekend’s British Indoor Championships. However, the event produced some spectacular middle distance races and some quick times. With the event acting as the trials for next month’s European Indoor Championships, there was plenty at stake.

Both 3000m races were close to the end. The women’s 3000m provided plenty of intrigue before the gun went off. Melissa Courtney-Bryant and Hannah Nuttall both had the European Indoor standard, whilst reigning champion Amy-Eloise Markovc did not.

As expected, Markovc pushed the pace in the early laps, running within the standard time (sub-8:48.00). However, as the pace started to drop Courtney-Bryant and Nuttall took it on. A superb sprint finish saw Melissa (8:50.76) just get the better of Hannah (8:50.85), with Eloise Walker (9:00.53) third. The latter has run the UKA ‘B’ standard and could be selected if she receives a ranking invite from European Athletics.

The men’s race was equally impressive. Tonbridge’s James West was the sole entrant with the European Indoor standard, and secured his first senior British vest with 7:49.78. Osian Perrin and Charles Wheeler had the best runs of their careers to complete the podium. The pair closed 7:50.86 and 7:51.80 respectively to both set lifetime bests.

Photo: James Rhodes

Middle Distance Races to Form

Neil Gourley and Ellie Baker took the respective 1500m titles, both securing their places in the team for Istanbul. The latter did so in fine fashion, running 4:06.73 for a Championship Record, previously set by Zola Budd in 1986. It was also her first time under 4:10 indoors. Katie Snowden was second and, having the standard, is guaranteed a spot in the team also. After leading for early laps, Erin Wallace finished third.

Gourley had George Mills for company for much of the race, but a decisive last lap sprint saw him move clear. He crossed the line in 3:41.20 to Mills’s 3:42.87, with Blake Moore (3:47.74) taking bronze.

The 800m titles went to Isabelle Boffey (2:03.27) and Guy Learmonth (1:47.43). Jenny Selman, Abbie Ives, Ben Claridges and James McMurray completed the two podiums.

Photo: James Rhodes

Balmy Bathurst

Whilst many were taking to the indoor track in Birmingham, a selection of athletes had crossed the world to compete in another b; Bathurst. The World Cross Country Championships (finally!) took place, after a four year COVID-inflicted gap.

Whilst the senior men’s squad was somewhat depleted, with the sole Brit Zak Mahamed finishing the 10km course in 76th (34:05), the other races provided encouraging results.

The highest position went to Ed Bird in the U20 men’s race, with the lead Brit finishing a superb 18th. He completed the 8km course in 26:10. He was followed by Jacob Deacon in 26th (26:44) and Luke Birdseye in 28th (26:52). The team was completed by Sam Mills in 48th (27:46).

The U20 women’s race, taking in 6km on the 2km loop course, provided equally encouraging results. Rebecca Flaherty took the highest position with 23rd (23:11), closely followed by Hannah Ryding in 24th (23:18). Zoe Gilbody was 33 seconds behind in 33rd (23:51), with Megan Harris completing the team in 40th (24:32).

It was also exciting to see two women finish inside the top 25 of the senior women’s 10km race. The pair of Abbie Donnelly (35:53) and Amelia Quirk (35:56) ran together for the entire race and were rewarded with 24th and 25th respectively. Poppy Tank had a good outing to finish 36th (36:47), with Megan Keith 52nd (38:32).

The British mixed-relay quartet finished sixth.

Fast Road Races Abroad

As the road racing season gets fully underway, a number of Brits had travelled to different destinations in search of a fast time. In warmer climates than the UK, Sam Harrison (70:47) had a good outing at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in Dubai. Nick Little (71:44) was the fastest British male, finishing 19th overall.

In Spain, a host of Brits took to the streets of Seville for the Seville Marathon. Tom Anderson was the star performance thanks to a 2:12:05 time. That is an impressive seven minute improvement in his first marathon since London in 2017. Behind him, Gateshead’s Calum Johnson had an excellent outing also, clocking 2:13:28. That time takes over four minutes off his lifetime best set in Wrexham last year.

Clara Evans became the 31st British woman to run under 2:30 for 26.2 miles with 2:29:27. That improves her PB by almost two minutes.

Staying in Spain, Jonathan Collier (64:37) and Ann Marie McGlynn (72:33) were the fastest Brits at the Barcelona Half Marathon.

Indoor Rapid Fire

A couple of other indoor races happened earlier in the week. The most notable of which came on Wednesday at the Meeting Lievin in France. Part of the World Indoor Tour Gold, Keely Hodgkinson  was one of many star names competing, in her second 800m of the year. Her time – 1:57.71 – is the fastest of 2023 but fell short of her targeted attempt for the World Indoor Record. She will race again over the distance in Birmingham next weekend.

At the Lee Valley Middle Distance Open, also on Wednesday, Bethan Morley (4:19.75) and Aaron Enser (4:00.83) went quickest over 1500m. Matt Woodward (1:53.67 PB) and Holly Watson (2:12.35) did the same over 800m.

Road Round Up

Friday night saw good quality fields take to the fast route in Battersea Park for the PUL5K. The event combines the expertise of Podium and Friday Night Under the Lights. Revee Walcott Nolan took an eight second victory (15:48) over Calli Thackery (15:56), with Georgie Grgec (16:6) third. Tom Keen (14:07) revised his lifetime best in winning the men’s elite race, followed closely by Josh Grace (14:11) and Ben Alcock (14:13). A total of 18 athletes ran under 14:30.

The half marathon calendar is growing, with multiple races happening this weekend. Alan Wood (73:18) and Florence Papougnot (85:47) took wins at the Deal Half Marathon, with Karla Borland (86:04) and Matt Cooper (80:13) doing the same at the Richmond Half Marathon.

The honours at the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon went to Matthew Chipping (71:07) and Hannah Roberts (82:58). Ben Light (76:10) and Helen Harrington (91:52) were winners of the Rhyl Half Marathon in Wales.

Stepping Down in Distance

A rapid fire run through of some of the 10k races this weekend. Sophie Wood (34:37) and Simon Birch (31:32) took victories at the Watersons Hale 10k, whilst Andy Greenleaf (32:28) and Tina Christmann (37:45) were quickest at the Winchester 10k.

Race five of the Tempo Winter Series 10k went to Andy Lawrence (35:13) and Kate Wright (41:02). Jon-Jo Doherty (36:15) and April Caufield (44:10) crossed the line first at the Standish Hall Trail Race.

RunThrough Rolls On

There were two RunThrough events, in Birmingham and Soithampton, this weekend.

The Birmingham Running Festival included races over 5k, 10k and half marathon. The latter was won by Matthew Scarsbrook (73:09) and Natasha Newton (87:32), with Emma Perz Horn (40:53) and Jason Bennett (32:26) taking the 10k. The shortest race went to Tess Alfrink (19:53) and Patrick Ryan (21:39).

Following the same set up was the Southampton Running Festival. James Hughes (16:46) and Jessica Spooner (22:35) were winners of the 5k, whilst the 10k saw quickest times set by Rebecca Cackett (40:53) and Daegen Beaumont (34:06). It was Vincent Warne (82:07) and Victoria Walls (84:06) who crossed the line first in the half marathon.

Metric Measurements

The ever-popular ten-mile distance continues to entice athletes. The fastest of the weekend were both in Wales, in Cardiff and Rhyl. The latter went to Keely Smith (61:01) to Ryan Davis (49:14), with the associated Rhyl 5 Mile going to Robert White (27:20) and Philippa of Wilmslow Striders (35:51). So good she doesn’t need a surname on the results!

Meanwhile, Josh Griffiths (50:37) and Kristie James (64:36) were fastest at the Cardiff 10 Mile. The associated 20 mile race went to Emma Wookey (2:17:26) and Tom Flitcroft (2:01:21).

The Hereford 10 Mile provided wins for Eric Apperley (57:46) and Sarah Bell (65:57). Matthew Orford (54:32) and Charlotte Beddow (68:36) won the Rugeley 10 Mile. Chris McMillan (25:26) and Naomi Alwyn (30:10) won the Weston Prom 5 Mile, with the Wombwell 5 Mile going to Samantha Hughes (29:10) and Euan Brown (25:21).

Shortest Distances

The shortest races of the weekend saw wins for Luke Edwards (15:27) and Sinead Bent (17:26) at the Bolton 5k, Laura Salter (24:07) and Dominic Montford (20:18) at the Greenwich Park Meridian 5k and Matthew Baker (17:21) and Neve Jones (21:30) at the Ruthin 5k. Laura Parry (44:42) and Robin Stacey (35:30) took the associated 10k of the latter.