With Christmas around the corner, it was a quieter couple of days on the racing calendar compared to recent weeks. James Rhodes brings you the best of the action from the roads, cross country and indoors.

Back with a Bang

In her first race since the summer, Laura Muir made a (slightly surprising) indoor season opener at the Cardiff Met Indoor Christmas Classic on Sunday. Competing in a comparatively strong domestic 3000m field, it proved to be a race against the clock. An impressive one at that, as the Olympic medallist clocked 8:34.39, a time that only she and Jo Pavey have bettered indoors. Notably, it was inside the tough World Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 8:37.00. Those championships take place in March on her home track in Glasgow.

Finishing second, Georgia Bell clocked a very impressive 8:49.63 in her first indoor race since 2015. That time is a 17 second outright PB and puts her 20th on the UK all-time list indoors. A week after winning the European Cross Country Championships, Innes FitzGerald finished third (9:06.26). That moves her to third on the British U20 all-time list behind Zola Budd and Jess Warner-Judd.

Benjamin Reynolds won the fastest of six men’s heats, beating athletes including Jake Smith and Piers Copeland.

Fast Times Abroad

There are not many times the World Champion over 1500m would race a half marathon, but Josh Kerr is an exception. He returned to the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon on Saturday, home of his one and only prior race over 13.1 miles. Twelve months ago, he clocked 63:44 and this year he improved to a 62:45 gun time. Even more impressive is his chip time of 61:51.

The latter is the fourth fastest half marathon by a British athlete this year. If the course was ranking-eligible (it has a net downhill profile of almost 200m), it would move him into the top-25 fastest in British history. Not bad for a 3:29 middle distance man!

Staying abroad and with weather assumedly much warmer than at home, Charlotte Purdue (72:45) and partner Adam Clarke (72:57) competed at the Bangsaen21 Half Marathon in Thailand.

Moving across to Italy, where there was a British one-two in the Pisa Marathon. Jemima Farley (2:36:43) and Melissah Gibson (2:42:07) finished first and second respectively. Jemima’s time improves her PB set in Malta in February by seven seconds, whilst Melissah was completing her fifteenth (!) marathon of the year.

Ben Barnes was the quickest British athlete at the Abu Dhabi Marathon (2:37:09) on Saturday.


The South of Thames XC Championship Race was first held in 1888, making it one of the oldest cross-country races in the world. This year’s edition was held in Lloyd Park in Croydon, a challenging and muddy course over 7.5 miles. There were decisive individual wins for both genders, thanks to Georgie Bruinvels of Aldershot and Tonbridge’s Ben Cole. The latter retained the trophy having won last year when held in Aldershot. The pair clocked 46:34 and 39:55 respectively. The men’s podium was completed by Ed Chuck of Dulwich Runners and Max Nicholls of Tonbridge, whilst Belgrave’s Lea Adamson and South London Harrier Molly Smith made the women’s podium.

Belgrave won both the men and women’s team trophies.

Photo: James Rhodes

Closer to Home

James Baker (2:40:51) and Jenny Laing (3:23:06) recorded victories at the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon. Over five minutes separated Tim Stratton (71:09) from the rest of the field at the Run Aintree Half Marathon in Liverpool. Laura Hesketh (81:07) was the quickest female. The associated 10k went to Georgia Armitage (40:02) and Paul Howard (32:36), whilst Nick Odgers (16:32) and Gabrielle Phelan (18:13) won the 5k.

Other half marathons this weekend included the Lancaster Turkey Trot Half Marathon. It saw Anna Firth (85:31), finishing second overall, and Philip Lynch (80:04) run fastest. Matt Webster (88:57) and Alison Armstrong (99:08) did the same at the Let it Stow Half Marathon in Stowmarket. Make sure to enjoy the race name!

Christmas Themes

In her debut over the distance, Moli Lyons (34:45) was victorious at the Cardiff Festive 10k. Tom Flitcroft (33:40) joined her on the winner’s podium. Staying with the Christmas theme, Amy Wilkin (46:26) and Richard Wilson (34:52) won the Christmas Cracker 10k in Lancaster.

Sean Willis (37:51) and Helen Williams (49:22) won the Rudolph’s Revenge 10k, and Victoria Pattison (50:20) and Steven Worth (42:35) the Great Sprout Scuttle 10k. The associated 5k went to Katie Mancey (21:55) and Kian Derbyshire (19:51).

Annabel Harley (42:18) and Doni Clarke (33:40) won RunThrough’s Tatton Park 10k. Another RunThrough event on the same day was the QE Olympic Park 10k. That provided victories to Hannah McGowan-Jones (36:12) and Adedeji Oluwatosin Emmanuel (32:14).

Andy Lawrence (33:33) and Louise Andrews (44:31) set the fastest times in the third race of the Tempo Winter Series 10k. Finally, Fiona Sim (41:42) and Luke Hilliard (36:09) crossed the finish line first at the Rothbury Winter 10k.

Five (Miles & Kilometres)

Battersea Park is renowned for producing fast times, and this week was no different. A flurry of fast five-mile times were set at the Battersea Park Friday Under the Lights 5. Lucy Reid took her second win at the event, having first done so in 2021. The Tonbridge athlete improved her PB to 26:03 and in the process moves to ninth on the British all-time list. There were impressive runs also from Dani Chattenton (26:23) and Lily Coward (26:45) in second and third respectively.

It was a close finish in the men’s field, with just one second separating Roger Poolman (23:25) from Seyfu Jamaal (23:26). It was Roger’s first race over the distance whilst Seyfu improved his PB from the Chingford League in February. Oscar Bell’s improvement in finishing third was even greater. The Herts Phoenix athlete revised his PB from 2021 by over two and a half minutes to 23:34. Both Roger and Lucy’s times were the fastest by British athletes this year.

Jason Bennett (25:38) and Beth Tabor (30:03) won the Wolves Turkey Trot 5 Miler in convincing fashion, both by over 45 seconds. Alexander Coombs (26:22) and Louise Mills (30:53) crossed the line first at the Baltonsborough Christmas Pudding 5. Yiannis Christodoulou (28:27) and Amy Goodhand (32:40) won the Kent Christmas Cracker 5. In Pett, Amy Dixon (33:13) and Jack Hutchinson (29:18) set the fastest times the Christmas Pudding Dash 5.

Sophie Nicholls (17:21) and Tom Webb (15:22) won the midweek Street 5k, whilst Ben Brereton (16:56) and Aisling Redmond (22:42) won the Audley Festive 5k. Finally, the Tavy 5k course record was bettered by local athlete Ben Neale with 15:19. Pille Pedmanson (21:47) was the fastest female.

Less-Run Distances

As is often the case, the round-up ends this week with the lesser-run distances that often feature during the autumn to winter months.

Sophie Wood (37:16) and James Anderson (33:22) were fastest at the Travellers 6 in Denby Dale. Covering approximately seven miles, the Hook Norton Harriers Christmas Canter went to Henry Sleight (46:51) and Katherine Jones (55:31). Lewis Gamble-Thompson (40:56) and Cat Taylor (45:26) were quickest at the Loftus Poultry Run over 7.5 miles.

Finally, the Torrington Christmas Caper 9 provided Rebecca Ezra-Ham (69:58) and Mark Jenkin (62:39) with wins. The latter completed the race almost seven and a half minutes quicker than the remaining 217 athletes.