James Rhodes brings the best of the action from a busy weekend on the roads, cross country and track. A fast, but for many a wet, weekend.

Belgrade Bound

On Saturday, Wollaton Park played host to the final meeting of the British Athletics Cross Challenge and the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships. After the English Championships were cancelled at short notice due to flooding of parking, similar issues were thankfully avoided in Nottingham. The event also served as one of a number of trial races for the World Cross Country Championships taking place at the end of the month.

Her selection for Belgrade was confirmed earlier in the season, but Abbie Donnelly made certain of it as winner of the senior women’s race. It was a relatively comfortable victory. Abbie finished 18 seconds clear of Lauren McNeil with Alice Goodall third a further 15 seconds back. Niamh Brown and Lauren Heyes completed the top-five, with Niamh leading Surrey to the team title.

Start of the senior women’s race. Photo: Mark Hookway

Less than ten seconds separated the top-three in the senior men’s race, led by Calum Johnson. Representing the North East, the Gateshead athlete finished seven seconds clear of Tom Evans and Scott Stirling. The pair recorded the same time of 26:43. Running for Kent, James Kingston finished fourth and Jack Millar (Avon & Somerset) fifth. It was a good day for Calum as he led the North East to the team title.

Calum Johnson, Tom Evans & Scott Stirling. Photo: Mark Hookway

Impressive in Inverness

This weekend’s Inverness Half Marathon incorporated the Scottish Half Marathon Championships, leading to a flurry of fast times. The highlight was a Course Record for Mhairi Maclennan of 71:47. That time betters the 71:56 set by Natasha Phillips last year in Mhairi’s first race of the year. Virginie Barrand (72:36) and Claire Bruce (75:54) completed the top-three.

Photo: Race Organiser

In the men’s race, John Bell of Inverclyde AC was first across the finish in 65:34. That takes over a minute off his PB set at the Edinburgh Half Marathon last May. The podium was completed by Sean Chalmers (65:44) and Michael Ferguson (65:58), with the top fifteen all finishing inside 70 minutes.

Also racing was 1993 World Indoor Champion over 800m, Tom McKean, one week on from attending the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

1993 World Indoor Champion Tom McKean. Photo: Race Organiser

More Happening

It was not the only half marathon taking place this weekend, with the spring marathon season getting ever closer. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Paulos Surafel. Racing at the Ghent Half Marathon in Belgium, he improved his PB by half a minute to run 61:21. That time moves him to sixteenth on the British all-time list. It is also the second fastest by a Brit in 2024, bettered only by Emile Cairess.

Elsewhere, Samuel Roberts (67:13) and Naomi Drakeford (78:02) were victorious at the Redford Half Marathon. Rebecca Ezra-Ham (78:15) and Ronnie Richmond (67:31) took the honours at the Bideford Half Marathon, whilst Paul Jones (78:01) and Hazel Behagg (89:31) did the same at the Lydd Half Marathon.

At the ever-fast Battersea Park, RunThrough’s Battersea Park Half Marathon saw Patrick Martin  (69:15) and Mhairi Hall (81:49) set the fastest times. A day later, the One Race Battersea Park 10k provided victories to Emma Collyear (39:19) and James Lee (35:06). Felix Stewart (14:34) and Amy Kearney (21:07) won the associated 5k.

After winning the Llanelli Half Marathon and Watersons Hale 10k last month, Kadar Omar continued his successful start to the year. Another victory came his way at the Chester 10k in a time of 31:38. Anna Bracegirdle joined him as a race winner with a 34:43 clocking. The respective podiums were completed by Lindsay Fisher (36:36), Joanna Marsden (36:41), Aaron Doyle (32:35) and Morgan Curry (33:13).

James Mellor (34:49) and Sarah Gaunt (42:31) took wins at the Nottingham 10k, whilst Jo Andrews (38:25) and Jack Stuttle (34:50) ran quickest at the Mike Groves 10k in Badersfield. Tom Webb (32:21) and Joanna Carritt (41:23) won the Stoke Stampede 10k.

Still Going

Across the border to Scotland again. Dermot Cummins (31:36) and Jennifer Whetton (36:22) recorded victories at the Down by the River 10km in Cambuslang. Tony Connelly (32:21) and Ross Horgan (33:15) completed the top-three in the men’s field. Alicia Paton (37:40) and Lesley Hughes (38:20) did the same amongst the women racing.

Oscar Coetzee (36:20) and Julie Atkinson (46:18) won the Pollock Park 10k in Glasgow. Meanwhile the Jack Crawford 10k saw V60 Fiona Matheson (39:42) and James Wilkes (33:15) cross the finish line first.

Marcus Dunsford (32:58) and Caroline Nicholas (36:57) won the Total Guide Chilly 10k in Castle Combe in Wiltshire. The Oundle Spring 10k provided Claire Apsted (45:51) and Jack Chennell (34:05) with the quickest times.

Ben Shearer (1:51:12) and Meave Kenny (2:12:47) were victorious at the Lydd 20. Twenty miles may be a distance rarely raced, but there were two opportunities this weekend! Wins at the Oundle 20 went to Claire Frankland (2:09:03) and James Fisher (1:57:33). Finally, Scott Cameron (37:47) and Helen Pape (43:55) were quickest at the Burghley 7.

Farewell, Indoor Season

The NCAA Indoor Championships provided a suitable farewell to the indoor season. The Division 1 Championships took place at the TRACK at New Balance in Boston, with four Brits contesting the middle-long distance events.

The best performance came from Finley McLear, who finished third in the 800m (1:47.68). He also clocked 1:47.49 in the heats. Phoebe Anderson finished tenth in the women’s 5000m (15:37.21), the same position Shannon Flockhart finished in the mile (4:36.73). Shannon ran 4:33.08 in the heats. Finally, David Mullarkey finished eleventh in the 3000m with 7:55.42.