James Rhodes brings you the best of the action from a busy weekend that included the England Athletics U23 & U20 Championships and much more.

Terrific in Chelmsford

This weekend, hundreds of Britain’s young athletes headed to the newly laid track in Chelmsford for the England Athletics U23 & U20 Championships. With places at the European U23 and U20 Championships, being held in Espoo and Jerusalem respectively at stake, there were plenty of good performances. That was despite the windy and, at times, wet weather.

Having sat behind fellow Scot Megan Keith for much of the race, Eloise Walker made a decisive move to win the U23 5000m in 15:51.63. Megan finished second (15:55.92) with Charlotte Alexander third (16:48.06).

Photo: James Rhodes

The men’s race over 12.5 laps was equally as exciting, with five together going into the final lap. It was Will Barnicoat who came out on top with 14:09.20 to secure his spot in Espoo. An impressive time given the hot conditions the race went off in. Behind were good outings from Rory Leonard (14:10.15) and Josh Dickinson (14:11.04).

In winning the U20 races, Natasha Phillips (16:18.50 PB) and James Dargan (14:37.58) secured their spots for Jerusalem.

Innes Fitzgerald did the hard work in the early laps of the U20 3000m, building up a lead of over 100m within the first kilometre. It was a good move, clearly winning in 9:10.67. A dramatic finish saw Eliza Nicholson (9:24.17 PB) just pip Jess Bailey (9:24.67) to second place. Ed Bird (8:23.02) comfortably won the men’s equivalent race.

Competitive Middle Distance

The race of the weekend was the men’s U23 800m, where six of the eight finalists had the European standard. Running five abreast into the home straight, it was Ethan Hussey (1:48.52) who guaranteed his spot in Finland with the win. The podium was completed by Sam Reardon (1:48.75) and Reece Sharman-Newell (1:49.13).

Photo: James Rhodes

Tyler Bilyard (3:44.32) and Sarah Calvert (4:20.99) took the U23 1500m races, with the U20 going to Ella Greenway (4:15.53 PB) and Tendai Nyabadza (3:50.87). Ella’s time was a seven second best.

Steph Driscoll (2:05.92) won the U23 800m from Molly Hudson (2:06.81) and Jodie Martin (2:08.56). The U20 race saw the withdrawal of favourite Abbie Ives. However, Phoebe Gill made the most to commandingly win in 2:03.78.

Photo: James Rhodes

Having bettered her own British Record for 800m in Paris last weekend, Keely Hodgkinson dropped to the 400m. She won in a new PB (and Champs Record) of 52.24. It is the distance she will contest at the European U23 Championships, after racing at the Lausanne Diamond League on 30 June.

Brilliant Bislett

The Bislett Games (Oslo Diamond League) is well known for its middle-distance races of the 1970s and 80s. It was like days of old on Thursday for the sold-out 2023 edition.

The men’s 1500m was one of the greatest in history, with eight men running inside 3:30, led by Jakob Ingebrigtsen in a new European Record (3:27.95). Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley had fantastic races, clocking 3:30.07 and 3:30.88. Josh was agonisingly close to recording his second time inside 3:30, whilst Neil’s performance took over a second and a half off his PB set in Birmingham in February. The depth of the field, however, meant they finished ninth and tenth respectively.

Jess Warner-Judd ran 8:53.10 in the women’s 3000m, a time she noted afterwards to be disappointed by.

European Round Up

Plenty else has been happening across Europe. On Tuesday, Jemma Reekie continued her return to form with 1:59.41 and third in the 800m at the Paavo Nurmi Games. Ellie Baker set another 1500m PB (4:03.95) finishing third as she moves closer towards a World Championships standard. Sarah McDonald (4:05.59) was seventh, her fastest in four years.

Zak Seddon (8:21.71) was less than half a second shy of his PB when finishing fourth in the steeplechase.

Issy Boffey (2:01.83) won the 800m at the Kladno Hazi Memorial in the Czech Republic on the same evening. Angharad Davies set a 1500m PB (4:16.49) at the Gran Premio Diputación de Castellón in Spain on Wednesday.

The On Track Nights moved to Austria for the Track Night Vienna, the third event in the series. It was a good day for Jonathan Escelante-Phillips (13:56.83) and Scott Stirling (13:57.02) who both set 5000m PBs. Calli Thackery (15:28.63) and Verity Ockenden (15:30.30) ran in the elite women’s race, which saw two athletes finish inside 15 minutes.

Will Battershill (8:23.31) improved his steeplechase PB by over three seconds, moving to sixteenth on the UK all-time list. Tom Randolph (1:46.16) and Guy Learmonth (1:46.66) competed in the 800m.

Staying with two laps, Dan Rowden (1:46.30) was third at the International Meeting Anhalt in Germany. Charlie Grice (1:46.22) was second at the Puma Nitro Next Generation Athletics in the Netherlands.

Still Going

Returning after a 22-year absence, the Meeting Nikaiai in France saw Tom Keen (3:38.56) race over 1500m and Amy Eloise Markovc (15:28.66) in the 5000m. Another 1500m saw James Young (3:46.65) finish seventh at the Kuortane Games in Finland.

Ben Pattison (1:45.64) took victory in the 800m at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland. Alex Bell (2:01.48) continued to improve her SB in the women’s race. Sarah McDonald (4:08.99), Piers Copeland (3:38.52) and Tom Dodd (3:39.52) all raced over 1500m.

Back in France, and the Meeting Stanislas in Nancy. Issy Boffey had another excellent race to finish third (2:00.44). The sub-two clocking is knocking on the door.

Melissa Courtney-Bryant (4:00.45) took over a second off her 1500m with victory in a race entirely front run. Jemma Reekie (4:01.40) finished third, also with a lifetime best.

Closer to Home

As ever, Watford on a Wednesday was the place to be this week. The BMC Gold Standard Races saw an impressive double by Elliot Giles. He won the 800m in 1:45.90 ahead of Dan Rowden (1:46.14) and Archie Davis (1:46.29), before returning less than 25 minutes later for the 1500m. He won that too (3:43.82) from Benjamin Davies (3:44.22 PB) and James Beeks (3:44.24 PB).

The highlight of the evening was two new members to the sub-two club for 800m. Erin Wallace (1:59.69) and Revee Walcott-Nolan (1:59.96) dipped under the barrier for the first time. A last minute drop-out meant the race was paced by a man meaning the times won’t count for championship qualifying purposes.

Photo: Mark Hookway

U20 Annie Mann (4:16.99) improved her PB to win the 1500m.

In the associated Watford Open Graded Meeting, Niamh Brown (9:43.11) and Max Jones (8:35.36) were quickest in the 3000m, with PBs for Dillon Smith (1:54.77) and Jorjia March (2:09.27) over 800m.

Another BMC Gold Standard Races was held a day earlier, this time at Trafford. Alex Bell (2:01.56) improved her SB with a clear victory, whilst Nicholas Landau (1:49.16) was the fastest male. Duncan Robinson (3:45.72) was quickest in the 1500m, with no women’s race held.

The meeting was held in conjunction with the Trafford Grand Prix. There, Luke Davies (8:46.64) and Beth Barlow (9:30.75) were fastest over 3000m, Jess Bailey (4:24.24) and Joseph Reeve (3:57.62 PB) in the 1500m and Harry Hayes (1:54.34 PB) and Ty Brockley-Langford (2:10.33) in the 800m.

More Track

A good news story was seeing Jeremy Dempsey break the four-minute barrier for the mile for the first time (3:59.28) at Wednesday’s Cambridgeshire Evening Open Meeting. Jasmine Christmas (5:16.70 PB) the fastest female.

There were 5000m PBs for Maisie Wilmer (17:49.43) and Luke Anderson (14:48.84) at Wednesday’s BMC Regional Races in Loughborough. Angus McMillan (3:48.27) and Grace Igoe (4:33.16 PB) won the 1500m and Tamsin McGraw (2:11.03) and Max Heyden (1:53.07 PB) the 800m.

Eden Klugman (4:56.28) and Zara Bratt (5:08.99) were fastest in the Charnwood AC Open incorporated into the event. Ethan Rocks (1:59.94) and Kara Bryan (2:15.38 PB) recorded the fastest 800m at Monday’s Blackheath & Bromley Open.

Podium Returns

Renowned for its fast course, Barrowford in Lancashire played host to the Podium Classic on Saturday. Excellent fields across both genders were assembled thanks to the fast course and prize bonuses on offer.

It was Marc Scott (13:47) and Mary Ngugi (15:25) who took respective victories. Marc took a ten second margin ahead of Omar Ahmed (13:57) and Linton Taylor (14:05). Mary, best known for her marathon exploits, was precisely thirty seconds clear of Lauren Heyes (15:55) with Philippa Bowden (16:07) third female.

Podium was not the only 5k of the week. Seyfu Jamaal was a runaway winner at the Sri Chimnoy 5k in Battersea Park on Tuesday. His 14:35 saw him finish over 40 seconds clear of the field with Anya Culling (16:51) thirty seconds clear of the female field. An impressive 118 athletes finished inside 18 minutes.

Tristan Cooper (16:02) and Freya Spruit (17:57) won the AVR Westbury 5k, whilst Gosport 5k went to Cassie Thorp (17:13) and James Baker (16:08). Jason Gunn (17:02) and Helen Davies (17:39) were victorious at the Harwich 5k.

On the Roads

Track season may be in full swing, but there remains no shortage of road races for those who fancy taking on the tarmac. One of the larger races of the weekend was the Leeds 10k, which saw Benjamin Douglas (32:05) and Heather Townsend (34:02) take victories.

Harry Smith (32:32) and Tamsin Anderson (38:35) were first across the line at the Alresford 10k with Scott Hinchcliffe (33:30) and Julie Briscoe (38:34) doing the same at the Penistone 10k. Alice Robinson (43:11) and Garry Turner (38:41) won the Madehurst 10k.

Alastair Matheson (32:55) and Georgia Holden (39:33) took the Osterley Park 10k in London. Meanwhile the midweek Cirencester Park Summer Sizzler 10k went to Lee Stopford (33:21) and Rachel Felton (36:35).

Also midweek was the Lethbridge 10k which provided wins to Jessica Stueber (43:16) and Harry Woods (34:54). The Run Redditch 10k went to Alex Gittens (46:15) and Joe Smith (33:43). Robert Doubleday (36:15) and Alex Sims (40:54) were victorious at the Tarrant Valley 10k.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Bryan Brett (35:03) and Yolenda King (42:51) at the Heathfield Midsummer 10k, Faye Clark (52:28) and Adam Osborne (42:46) the Crackpots 10k, Nicola Rennie (44:05) and Will Howard (34:52) at the Father’s Day 10k, Cara Jasmine Bradley (43:53) and Joe Mercer (35:03) at the Marple Runners Carnival 10k, and Matthew Skaife (34:33) and Alice Jones (41:51) at the Penny Lane Striders 10k.

Finally, it was the turn of Thomas Grimes (37:01) and Kat Alpe (41:22) to win the Trent Park Traffic 10k, and the Cliveden 10k went to Edwina McDowall (46:22) and Findlay Dyer (38:54).