It is just the second week of 2024, but the fast times keep on coming, including a new World Record for 10k. James Rhodes brings you the best of the weekend’s racing action.

Speedy Times in Valencia

If there is any city where fast times are a near certainty, it is Valencia. This year’s Valencia 10k was no exception. In fact, the women’s race saw the fastest time in history – by quite a margin. Agnes Jebet Ngetich didn’t just break the World Record, she obliterated it. Her time of 28:46 is 28 seconds faster than the previous mark from 2022. It is the first time a woman has run inside 29 minutes, either on the road or track. It is in a way hard to comprehend, but such is the landscape of road racing at present.

Jacob Kiplimo won the men’s race in 26:53, making him the eighth fastest man in history. The WR, set in Valencia in 2020 by Rhonex Kipruto, lives another day. Kipruto is currently suspended for anti-doping violations.

It was an excellent day for a large proportion of the British athletes who headed to the Spanish city. The best performance came from Jess Warner-Judd, who finished twelfth in 30:41. That is a 25 second PB, and her 5k split of 14:55 is faster than her road PB also. Agonisingly it is just one second shy of the Olympic qualifying time, although her chip time of 30:38 is inside it.

Photo: Hannah Irwin

Behind, Megan Keith (31:22) considerably improved her PB to start 2024 in the same fashion as 2023 ended. She now sits seventh on the British all-time list for the distance.

Abbie Donnelly (31:59) ran well also, as did Alice Goodall (32:08) and Poppy Tank (32:34), the latter two setting PBs. Verity Ockenden was close to her best with 32:43. Representing England, Ellie Wallace crossed the line in 33:01 and Bryony Gunn in 33:05, a PB.

Fast Men Too

The seven fastest British men all set personal bests (or, in one case, was making their 10km debut). Zak Mahamed was fastest of the group, finishing in 28:10. That time also moves him ahead of his brother Mahamed by four seconds. One of the biggest improvements came from Paulos Surafel (28:26).

Photo: Hannah Irwin

Running as part of the England team, Jack Gray (28:36) and Jacob Allen (28:44) both revised their bests. The pair also got considerable coverage on the livestream, running alongside Agnes Ngetich for much of the race.

Ben Cole (29:21) equalled his PB, whilst James Gormley made an impressive debut with 29:23. He won the 3000m at the British Milers Club Indoor GP just last weekend. Jake Smith’s return continues with an encouraging 29:25 – you guessed it, a PB.

Full results can be found here, with too many performances to mention them all.

Photo: Spencer Duval

No Problems in Houston

Another course that is often fast is that of the Houston Half Marathon. This year, it was the turn of Calli Thackery to take to the American city. Her (and the full field) battled cold temperatures and a strong headwind in the second half of the race.

Nevertheless, she rallied to finish in 68:20, a 36 second improvement on her PB that puts her ninth on the British all-time list. Steph Twell finished in 72:00. Norman Shreeve had an excellent run also, improving his PB to 64:18. His previous best of 64:34 was set in October 2021 at the Valencia Half Marathon.

In the Houston Marathon, the fastest British performances came from Philippa Bowden (2:29:14) and Ryan Smith (2:26:38). That is a two second PB for Philly, who ran at 2:27 pace for the first half of the race.

Back Home

It has been a quieter weekend on the roads at home, but there remain some races to bring you. Battersea Park in London frequently plays host to races, and now Best Athletics have added to the mix. Saturday saw the first Best Race Series 10k; Anna Wright (37:56) and Thomas Brooke (32:24) won the inaugural edition.

Staying in London on Saturday, Rhys Gillard (33:16) won RunThrough’s QE Olympic Park 10k. It was his first race over the distance since September 2022. Lisa Day and Jemma Day both ran 39:05 to share victory in the women’s field. The associated 5k went to Raluca Velicu (21:04) and Will Haigh (17:20).

RunThrough also held races at Heaton Park in Manchester on Sunday. Eleanor Baker (80:52) and Matt Cooper (74:43) crossed the line first in the half marathon; Joe Tant (38:41) and Hannah Jackson (45:12) did the same in the 10k. Wins in the 5k went to Amy Dransfield (19:15) and Stephen Ellison (18:57). Marshall Smith (14:50) and Helen Gaunt (17:39) won the 5k.

Further north, there were victories for Paul Howard (33:22) and Eleesha Charnley (39:26) at the East Lancashire Hospice 10k. Newburgh Nomads’ Ashurst Beacon Race was held for the first time since 2020. It covers approximately six miles and incorporates over 1000 ft of climbing. Daniel Miller (39:45) and Sara Miller (48:11) set the fastest times.

Philip Boynton (57:29) and Rochelle Ramsden (65:06) won the Temple Newsam Ten.

Indoors Stateside

The last few days have seen the indoor season properly kick off, with a flurry of races across the United States. David Mullarkey (7:53.54) and Stevie Lawrence (9:33.74) both set PBs over 3000m at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational in Florida. For David, that time takes over five seconds off his previous best set last year, and is almost certainly an Isle of Man Record.

Yusuf Bizimana (2:8.10) broke the NCAA Record for 1000m at the Rod McCravy Invitational in Kentucky. Pretty niche, but an excellent time, nevertheless. The Arkansas Invitational saw World Championship 4x400m relay medallist Amber Anning run 2:05.05 in her first 800m since 2015. Jacob Deacon (8:16.79) set a 3000m PB at the same meeting.

Cross Country

The third fixture of the Tracksmith Surrey League took place at Wimbledon Common and Oxshott Woods. Georgie Grgec of Herne Hill won the division one ladies fixture by almost a minute. She will be heading to Belgrade to represent New Zealand at the World Cross Country Championships in March. Belgrave won the team fixture.

Running for Thames Hare & Hounds, Jack Millar was a clear winner of the division one men’s race in Wimbledon. Hercules Wimbledon took the team victory, led by Jonathan Cornish. Jack Kavanagh of Holland Sports won the division two fixture at Oxshott Woods, and Walton’s Craig Jarman the combined division three / four match. Finally, Alice Crane of Dorking & Mole Valley won the division two / three women’s competition.

Jack Kavanagh in Surrey League action. Photo: James Rhodes

The Start Fitness Metropolitan League headed to Welwyn Garden City for its fourth fixture. Roger Poolman of Highgate Harriers won the senior men’s race ahead of Oscar Bell of Herts Phoenix and fellow Highgate Harrier Flurry Grierson.

Herts Phoenix took victory in the senior women’s race thanks to Elizabeth Janes. She finished over half a minute clear of TVH’s Verity Hopkins with Rebecca Bunting of London Heathside a further forty seconds back. Highgate and Herts phoenix won the men’s and women’s team competitions respectively.

The Hampshire League headed to Prospect Park in Reading on Saturday for its latest fixture. Jess Gibbon was a clear winner of the senior women’s race. The Reading AC athlete finished 50 seconds clear of Aldershot, Farnham & District duo Megan Gadsby and Kate Estlea-Morris. AFD took the team honours. City of Portsmouth’s Samuel Charig won the senior men’s race from Thomas Syckelmoore and AFD’s Matthew Pickering.

Finally, Rebecca Robinson of Kendal and William Walker of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers won the respective senior races at the Mid Lancs League. The fixture was held at Lawson’s Ground in Blackpool.