Weekend Round Up

It’s Sunday afternoon and another week filled with plenty of fast racing action is drawing to a close. I will get straight to it as I take you on a tour of some of the highlights from the roads, track and trails.

Watford ‘Diamond League’

The domestic highlight of the week on the track was the BMC Watford International Grand Prix, the third of five GP meetings in 2022. Whilst windy conditions impacted upon some of the earlier middle-distance races, over half of the near-350 finishers set PBs.

The highlight of the meeting came in two high quality 5000m races, including a PB and World Championships qualifier for Calli Thackery (15:06.26). Calli had taken in turns with Sam Harrison at the front until about three laps to go, when she made a decisive move to chase down her previous best of 15:09 from April this year. Sam’s efforts were rewarded with a 15:22.29 lifetime best, with PBs for Sarah Astin (15:39.03) and Hannah Irwin (15:45.87).

The field in the men’s a race over 12.5 laps provided plenty of intrigue, and lived up to its anticipation as the last race of 30 on the night. After making a decisive move with two laps to go, Ian Crowe Wright just held on to take the win in 13:47.11 (PB), just ahead of Isle of Man’s David Mullarkey (13:47.55 PB) and a fast finishing Osian Perrin (13:49.26 PB). It was not just a PB for Perrin but a British Junior Record that saw him secure his spot at the World U20 Championships, for which the race acted as the official trials event. In both 5000m a races, eight of the top ten set PBs.

Ellie Baker (4:07.35) got the better of Jess Judd (4:07.93) and Jenny Selman (4:08.24) in the home straight of the 1500m, whilst Piers Copeland (3:40.22) finished well to take the win in a close men’s a race over the same distance, where the top eight were separated by less than one second. It was Piers’ first race since falling and breaking his elbow at the Birmingham Diamond League last month, and great to see him return with a win.

Irish duo Mark English (1:46.420 and Jenna Brommell (2:03.82) took wins in the respective 800m races, with Dan Jarvis (8:48.88) and Brazilian Tatiane Da Silva (9:24.38) doing the same in the 3000m steeplechase, the latter setting a BMC, Brazilian and South American record in the process.

Heroics in Hengelo

Eilish McColgan has been in imperious form this year, most recently setting a British and European Record for 10k at the Great Manchester Run (30:19). Monday’s FBK Games in the Netherlands played host to her first track outing of the year over the same distance, in a race that included the WR Holder, former WR Holder and 10km WR Holder on the roads.

As she set out for 25 laps of the track, the intent was clear – an attempt to better Paula Radcliffe’s British Record. The early laps were right on pace, although the Ethiopians had no interest in chasing the clock leaving Eilish racing alone. This, combined with increasingly gust conditions, meant the pace dropped off in the second half (after a 15:00.75 halfway split), but an uptick in pace in the closing laps saw her cross the line in 30:19.02. Second fastest Brit in history, and a significant chunk off her mum’s Scottish Record.

The 1500m saw a strong British contingent take to the track, with George Mills, building from his 3:55.48 PB in the Emsley Carr Mile last month, quickest with 3:36.92 in fifth. Elliot Giles (3:37.48) ran well in his outdoor season opener after injury that saw him miss the World Indoor Championships, with Archie Davis tenth (3:40.11). Whilst for some Hengelo was an opener for 2022, it was Ellie Baker’s sixth 800m of the season; she crossed the line fourth in 2:02.47.

Sticking with 10,000m races in Holland, Sam Atkin and Jake Smith ran 27:33.52 and 28:14.10 respectively at the Golden Spike in Leiden on Saturday, the former just five seconds shy of a World Championships Q.

Speedy in Swansea

Despite windy conditions, there were some excellent performances at the Swansea Half Marathon, with Course Records set in both the men’s and women’s races. Following a win at the Chester Half Marathon last month, Omar Ahmed made it two wins in a row over 13.1 miles, after a good race with Phil Sesemann, the two separated by just eight seconds (64:01 to 64:09). The top-five were rounded out by Ollie Lockley (64:31), Josh Griffiths (64:53), and Andrew Davies (65:12).

Swansea Half. Photo: Front Runner Events

Whilst close racing was a theme of the men, it was a very different story amongst the women as Natasha Cockram took an emphatic win in 72:48, crossing the line almost two and a half minutes ahead of Naomi Mitchell (75:11) and Dani Nimmock (76:36). Hayley Munn (76:55) and Anna Boniface (77:32) finished in fourth and fifth.

Swansea Half. Photo: Front Runner Events

Swansea Harriers win Welsh Castles

The annual Welsh Castles Relay sees teams compete over 20 stages from Caernarfon Castle to Cardiff and has a huge pedigree with some top names having claimed stage records over the years. It was Swansea Harriers who claimed the overall title this year with a combined time of 19:16:16 over the 209 mile route. The Swansea tam saw Dewi Griffiths amongst their ranks has took Martin Rees’ Stage Three record which had stood since 1996. Griffiths ran the mountain leg in 1:02:02 before going on the race the Swansea Half the next day running 1:06:23. The leading women’s only team was Les Croupiers who run a combined time of 24:29:07 with one of many fantastic performances across the team being Laura Jones who won Stage Nine in 52:37.

Many stage records fell across the weekend. On day one – Ben Harding on Stage One (51:07), Laure Cooper on Stage Two (1:02:46), Nicholas Barry (56:23) and Alaw Beynon-Thomas (1:06:42) on Stage Seven, Finley Hines (57:53) on Stage Eight, Sophie Wood (1:17:55) and Paul Graham (1:09:54) on Stage 10. On Day Two more course records went to Thomas Charles (1:04:41) on Stage 15, Adam Bull (1:09:31) and Kath Matthews (1:27:21) on Stage 16, Dominic Smith (39:42) and Ellen-Mary Kearney (46:39) on Stage 17, Nick Tulp (48:20) on Stage 18 and finally Emily Kearney breaking her own Stage 20 record with 55:39.

Domestic Track Action

There has been no shortage of domestic action on the track over the past seven days.

Monday’s BMC Regional Races in Leeds saw athletes go exclusively over 1500m with Richard Allen (3:52.82 PB) and Steph Pennycook (4:31.35) go quickest. Sticking with the BMC and their Gold Standard Races at Birmingham on Wednesday. On the day her selection for the Commonwealth Games was announced, Jenny Nesbitt (4:17.86) took a commanding win over 1500m, with Oliver Newman (3:47.04) doing the same in a new lifetime best. Shaun Gee (1:49.97) and Kate Seary (2:08.61) took wins in the respective 800m a races.

The event was incorporated into the University of Birmingham Track & Field Series, and their open races saw Thomas Beasley (14:46.43) and Sophie Rotherham (18:16.35) quickest over 5000m, with Lizzie Pennington (4:37.97) and William Newcombe (3:58.96) doing the same over 1500m.

At the Cambridgeshire AA Evening Open Meeting on Wednesday, there were lifetime bests for Chris Darling (15:23.05) and Clare Thurgood (18:16.63) in the 5000m, with U15 athlete Jemima Davey (10:19.99 PB) and Oliver Mills (9:02.11) speediest over 3000m. Six one-mile races at the North East Grand Prix Series in Jarrow on Wednesday provided Danielle Hodgkinson (4:46.84) and Alex Brown (4:13.82) with the quickest times of the evening. Reducing the distance by 109m, Isaac Jessop-Tranter (4:21.01) and Hannah Green (5:07.28 PB) went fastest at the Oxon & Bucks Midweek Open on Wednesday.

Edward Coutts (15:25.87) and Kay Sheedy (18:12.91) took the honours over 5000m at the Tonbridge AC Evening Open Meeting on Tuesday, both with PBs, whilst the 1500m fastest times were recorded by Chloe Sharp (4:32.21) and Ethan Gear (4:01.48).

Rounding out some of the midweek action, Oliver Pocklington (4:47.32) and Ashleigh Walters (5:04.07) were quickest over 1500m at Tuesday’s Corby AC Open Meeting, with Jack LeTisser (4:19.51) and Nicole Petit (4:54.31) speediest over the same distance at the ActiveGsy Track & Field Series in Guernsey on Thursday.

The Welsh Championships, various County-level Schools Championships, Northern League and Southern Athletics League fixtures have also taken place on Saturday and Sunday, and hopefully have all seen some athletes exceed their expectations.

Back to the Roads

North of the border, the racing highlight was Roon the Toon, incorporating the Scottish Championships for 10k. Annabel Simpson (33:22) was the star of the competition, crossing the line over 90 seconds ahead of the rest of the field and taking 18 seconds off her PB in the process. Sean Chalmers (29:58) was victorious in a men’s race where the top three were separated by less than 30 seconds. The two podiums were completed by James Donald (30:05), Michael Christoforou (30:17), Meredith Reid (35:05) and Eve Mackinnon (35:48). It was also great to see Callum Hawkins continue his return to racing with only his second outing of the year (31:20).

It was a big weekend on the roads for Gemma Steel with and outright win clocking 33:55 over the challenging course at Market Harborough Carnival 10k. The former European XC Champion backed this up on Sunday with a win at Swithland 6 mile Race running 32:59 as she continues her impressive return to competitive running.

Staying in Scotland and the Blast Running 10k in Edinburgh; Patryk Kasperek (36:07) and Nicola Macdonald (38:28) left as victors. Moving southwards, John Beattie (31:23) and Elzbieta Lisowska (39:28) won the Run for All Hull 10k, whilst the associated half marathon went to Lindsay Skinner (80:30) and Jonathan Walton (72:19).

Charlotte Purdue took to the streets of Manhattan for the New York Mini 10k, finishing 17th in a time of 32:26 in her first.

Helen Cross (36:04) and Jordan Howe (31:29) took the honours at the Knavesmire 10k, with David Eagon (33:34) and Victoria Ratcliffe (39:32) first across the line at the Chew Valley 10k. The Rothley 10k went to Dan Hallam (33:26) and Rebecca Randell (40:20).

Hills & trails

The famous Man vs Horse race sees runners pitted against the aforementioned 4-legged running specialists (roughly 1000 runners and 50 horses) over a challenging 22.5-mile course. Mountain running specialist Ricky Lightfoot became, we think, only the third person in the race’s history (single 1980) to beat the horses to the finish line clicking 2:22:23. Samuel Humphrey was next over the line with 2:29:01 with Hywel Davies (2:30:07) third. Victoria Nealon took the women’s win in 2:56:33 with Olympic silver medallist in the modern pentathlon from Beijing, Heather Fell, 2nd in 3:02:32 Wendy Price was third in 3:04:07.

Another famous domestic off road race is the Centurion South Downs Way 100. GB Athlete Bethan male took the win in 16:49:57 with Ellie Baverstock second in 17:37:39 and Alice Robinson third in 18:12:09. Serial winner Richard McDowell claimed the mens title in a time of 14:49:35 with Peter Windross second in 15:05:19 and Chris Kelly third in 15:53:05.

Credit: Centurion Running

European Track Action

It just missed the cut off for last week’s round up, but it would be remis of me to not mention some of the results from Sunday’s Rabat Diamond League. There was a British one-two in the men’s 1500m, thanks to two Jakes, Wightman (3:32.62) and Heyward (3:33.54). Those are the third and second fastest times of their respective careers, Wightman’s behind his 3:29.47 at Monaco in 2020 and 3:31.87 for fifth at the World Championships in Doha, and Heyward’s behind his 3:32.82 Welsh Record.

An equally impressive performance came from the (unsponsored!) Amy-Eloise Markovc with a close second place finish over 3000m (8:40.32 PB). The European Indoor Champion finished just behind 2014 Commonwealth 5000m gold medallist Mercy Cherono after making a bid for the win with 350m to go. Melissa Courtney-Bryant continued her encouraging return from injury with 4:04.40 over 1500m, with Alex Bell sixth in the 800m (2:01.50).

Jemma Reekie and Jamie Webb recorded their fastest 800m of 2022 at the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial in Poland, with 1:58.44 and 1:45.54 respectively. A fast steeplechase at the Trond Mohn Games in Norway saw Zak Seddon (8:25.68), William Battershill (8:31.89 PB) and Mark Pearce (8:49.99) run well, Battershill running his first Commonwealth Games Q of 2022.

Jenny Selman left the P-T-S Meeting in Slovakia with a win over 800m (2:03.43), whilst Ben Pattison (1:46.45) and Jamie Webb (1:47.51) finished second and fifth respectively in the men’s race over two laps. Returning to a competition she competed at least year, Issy Boffey finished fourth over 800m (2:02.34) at the Memorial Josef Odložila in Prague on Monday.

Ending with the metric mile, George Mills was a just one second shy of his PB when taking a win over 1500m at the AthletiCAGeneve EAP meeting in Switzerland on Saturday, whilst Isaac Hirshman Chandler (3:47.76 PB) ran at the Trofeo de Atletismo Ciudad de Sagunto in Spain on Tuesday.

Adding a last sentence just as I was completing this round up to add a fine PB and World Championships Q for Ben Pattison (1:45.16) at the Sollentuna GP in Sweden, with Katie Snowden clocking 4:06.08 over 1500m at the same competition. Superb running!

NCAA Championship Weekend

There are always some notable performances at the NCAA Championships in America, and this year was no different, with the competition held in Eugene for 2022. From a British perspective, key performances came from Charlotte Dannatt (33:26.78 PB) and Charles Hicks (28:17.88), with the pair finishing eighth and sixth respectively in the 10,000m. Elise Thorner continued her fine season with a fifth place finish in the 3000m steeplechase (9:33.99), just outside her lifetime best, whilst Shannon Flockhart (4:11.11) finished seventh in the 1500m.

Staying Stateside, Sarah Inglis had a breakthrough race over 5000m at the Portland Track Festival in Oregon on Saturday, clocking a new lifetime best and World Championship standard of 15:05.51, a fine performance that means, by my count, five women now have the time for Eugene. Patrick Dever and Marc Scott both raced over the same distance, finishing in 13:20.12 and 13:22.15 respectively.