All eyes were on Houston this weekend with some significant debuts from British athletes.
Jess Judd made her intentions known with a strong start for her 13.1 debut at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, going through 10k in 31:54. She fell off the pack shortly afterwards but held on hard to finish fifth in a brilliant time of 67:52.The race was won by Victory Chepngeno in 65:03 with Sara Hall second in 67:15 (a new American record) and Dominique Scott third in 67:42.
Judd’s time puts her fourth fastest AT behind Paula Radcliffe, Liz and Eilish McColgan. Clearly this race is one to go for as it’s the same place that Steph Twell moved herself to 5th AT back in 2020. FastRunning’s stat-man James notes that Jess is the first Brit to run a sub-two 800m and sub 68 minute half marathon. She is also only the second European to do so, the other one being Sifan Hassan
Matt Leach finished 19th in a fine 63:29 and Josh Lunn 30th in 64:54. Ethiopia’s Milkesa Tolosa won in 60:24, John Korir second in 60:27 and Wilfred Kimitei third in 60:44.
Wright clocks Worlds standard with fantastic sub 2:30
In the Chevron Houston Marathon Alice Wright finally got to test herself over 26.2 alongside Luke Caldwell and Emily Kerney. The trio did not disappoint. Eight miles into the race Wright moved into third place with Kearney in 8th and Caldwell in 11th. By 25k all three were looking incredibly strong, with predicted finish times of 2:12:21 for Caldwell, 2:20:11 for Wright and 2:22:06 for Kearney.
Caldwell took the lead at one point and hour and 40 minutes into the race. Right until the final kilometres it looked like Caldwell might break the World Championship qualifying time of 2:11:30 but he finished in a frustratingly close but nonetheless fantastic debut time of 2:11:33. That placed him sixth behind James Ngandu (KEN 2:11:03), Elisha Barno (KEN 22:11:06) and Kenta Uchida (JPN 2:11:19). He was one second behind USA’s Frank Lara who took fifth.
Alice Wright’s debut, whilst long awaited after many aborted buildups for various reasons, turned out to be well worth waiting for. A thrilling finish brought her home second place in 2:29:08 ahead of Magie Montoya and earning her a World Championship qualification and 20th AT Brit. USA’s Keira D’Amato dominated, taking the win in 2:19:12 performance. Emily Kearney placed 13th in a fantastic 2:34:28 running a Welsh Commonwealth Games Standard.
— HOKA NAZ Elite (@NAZ_Elite) January 16, 2022
Also over the pond but shorter and less, well, outdoors was the Washington Preview Indoor Meet in Seattle. It turned out to be a rather excellent start to the season for two British athletes who both set new indoor PBs. Amy-Eloise Markovc ran her best mile time to win in 4:30.78 and Tom Anderson was fifth in a new 3000m best of 7:49.85.
Ultimate Ultra – Running
The big race of the week (yep, the whole week) was the Winter Spine Race. 430km up the length of the Penine Way, 11,000m of elevation and tough conditions saw many favourites fail to finish.
However, 92 hours and 40 minutes were enough for the previous course record holder Eion Kieth to finally secure his first place since 2016 after being runner up in 2020 and 2019 (to Jasmine Paris). There was a draw for second place as Doug Zinis and James Leavesley touched the wall at Kirk Yetholm together with the clock at 96 hours, six minutes and thirty seconds. DNF’s came from initial race leader Kim Collison, Damian Hall and Sabrina Verjee. Eugeni Roselló Solé took the lead for a while before also dropping out.
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It would be fair to say that Debbie Martin-Consani was shocked, though certainly not undeserved, to be the women’s winner in 104 hours eight minutes. The second woman to finish was Elaine Bisson in 107 hours exactly and Lizzie Faithful-Davies of the British Army was third in 112 hours 47 minutes.
Meanwhile, on warmer and slightly shorter but still challenging trails, Elsey Davis placed second in 3:33:10 at the Gallotia Trail 34k race behind Sarah Alonso, though apparently, she was later DQ’d for not carrying an ID card. Rules is rules, but Elsey’s acknowledgement of her placement was certainly gracious. Also the prize for first place sounds to me like something other race should take note of. I’d take a bakewell tart over a medal any day!
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Cross Country Continues Apace
After last week’s county champs the XC area leagues were all back in action. As always it’s hard to cover everything but respect goes to all those who taped up their spikes this weekend.
Birmingham and District League race three (9.5k) was hosted by UoB at Waley Woods, Smethwick and it was George Beardmore of Worcester AC who raced home victorious in 28:47 in the D1. The University of Birmingham had most points in the team rankings. Host club Spa Striders topped the D2 race at Burton Dasset thanks to Ian Allen’s 32:33 performance. Royal Sutton Coldfield were well clear in the team competition.
Sophie Wood assisted Sale Harriers to a team win, with her individual victory of 30:24 at the Manchester Area CCL, Tatton Park. Nigel Martin ensured the club also took the men’s solo title in 30:27 but they couldn’t quite hold off Salford Harriers who ended up four points clear in the team results.
In the Surrey League, Mitcham Common hosted 5 miles of muddy fun for the Division 1 men and the Division 1& 2 women. Guildford and Godalming were first home over the line as Andy Coley-Maud took the win. However, in the team competition, it was Belgrave Harriers who took both men’s and women’s titles as well as the individual win in the women’s competition thanks to Sarah Austin. The Division 2 men’s race was held in Richmond Park and saw Edward Chuck cross the line first for Dulwich, helping them secure the team win as well. Times will be confirmed here soon.
One of the flatter courses in the Met League, Wormwood Scrubs (7.6k for both) saw London Heathside win the D1 women’s competition with Beth Hawling of the club winning with a strong lead in 28:33.
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Ealing, Southall & Middlesex top the D2 rankings, with Alice Sunderland first home in the division in 30:27. Harrow AC lead the D3 – both teams won on the day as well as being top overall at the moment. In the men’s competition, Highgate Harriers were team winners on the day, but Woodford Green’s Thomas Frith broke the tape in 25:04, beating Alex Lepetre (25:12). Harrow AC won the D2 race, as did their fastest runner Damian Nevins (26:38). They hold the same spot in the league, while their B team are top of the D3 points table.
Hampshire League held their race at Prospect Park in Reading, but due to other commitments results will not be available until Sunday evening.
Cardiff AC took two of the three medal spots at the hilly Essar Four Villages Half Marathon as Michael Kallenberg won in 67:22 and Christian Prior took third in 71:30. Kallenberg’s time was a touch slower than his runner-up mark from 2020 (67:03), but enough for the win this year. Keeping the Cardiff AC-ers apart, Gary Priestly of Salford Harriers placed second in 68:33. Salford’s Anna Bracegirdle won the women’s race in 75:19, with a comfortable lead over Kirsty Longley (78:25) and Elizabeth Renendau (78:57).
Greenwich Park 10k was won by Victor Lio in 33:54 and Ashleigh Jayin 42:32. The York Knavesmire Harriers hosted the Brass Monkey Half Marathon starting at York Racecourse and the weather lived up to its milling. The ladies podium belonged to Charlotte Mason, who ran 78:10 followed by Jenna Mcgrevey in 78:35 and Zara Knappy in 79:06. For the men, it was a tight finish with the top four gents within half a minute of each other – Kieran Walker held everyone off to take victory in 65:28 with Lewis Gamble-Thompson a stride behind in 65:32 and Rob Scott third in 65:40. An honourable mention goes to Marc who also finished sub 66 in 65:58 for fourth place
The Stubbington Green 10k saw a new PB for Naomi Mitchell running 33:14 well clear of Cassie Throp in 2nd who ran 35:36 just edging Lesley Locks into third as she ran 35:37. The men’s race was a little closer with AFD’s Richard Lovejoy taking the win in a time of 32:38 with the podium completed by Will Grace (32:42) and George King (32:55).
Olympic silver medallist from Beijing in the modern pentathlon, Heather Fell won Slaughterford 9 in a time of 1:06:40 well clear of Victoria Ratcliffe (1:07:55) and Michelle Maxwell (1:11:55) in 2nd and third. The leading man was Jon Cracknell (54:22) beating Aiden Daniel (55:22) and Otto Copping (55:28) into second and third respectively.