With fantastic performances on the indoor circuit, roads and cross country, James Rhodes brings you the best of this weekend’s action.

Magic at Millrose

The Millrose Games is one of the longest-standing indoor meetings on the calendar. The 119th edition, held on Saturday as part of the World Indoor Tour, continued the tradition of delivering extraordinary results. This year there was plenty of success for British athletes in the middle distance races.

The highlight came from Josh Kerr in his first indoor 3000m since 2015. The Tokyo Olympic 1500m medallist took an emphatic win in a particularly strong field. Furthermore, his time of 7:33.47 is a Scottish Record and puts him third on the British all-time list behind Sam Atkin and Mo Farah. Not a bad venue at which to improve your PB by 98 seconds!

There was plenty to celebrate in the historic Wanamaker Mile races also, with Laura Muir winning the women’s race (4:20.15). That time is outside her lifetime best but is one of the fastest in British history. Behind her was a second breakthrough race of the month for Katie Snowden, finishing third in an outright PB (4:21.19). That is an English Record, World Championship qualifying time and puts her third behind Muir and Jemma Reekie on the British all-time list. Jemma Reekie finished ninth (4:29.91).

The men’s race saw Neil Gourley revise his lifetime best for the second weekend running. Finishing second, his 3:49.46 puts him sixth on the world all-time list and second on the British rankings. His 1500m split was also a European Indoor standard and the fastest by a European in 2023.

Laura Muir in previous action. Photo: James Rhodes

Amazing Armagh

As the cross-country season draws towards a close, the number of road races gradually increases. This weekend provided plentiful racing opportunities on the tarmac, covering all possible distances.

It would be remis to not start with one of the fastest races on the calendar, the Armagh 5k. Making a welcome return after a two-year absence, the one kilometre course has not lost any of its speed.

There was a runaway victory for Henry McLuckie (13:37) in the men’s race, bettering the course record in the process. Behind him, the next twelve athletes were separated by just five seconds. The group was led by American Tai Dinger (13:46) and Feaghal Curtin (13:46) in second and third. Seventeen athletes ran under 14 minutes, with convincing depth behind also.

Racing before heading to Australia for the World XC Championships, Alex Bell took a narrow victory in the women’s 3k. Her time of 9:02 was just one second ahead of Cari Hughes (9:03), with Calli Thackery (9:12) third. It was close behind the top-three, with eight separated by just five seconds.

Weekend Half Marathons

The weekend saw athletes race over 13.1 miles in Wrexham and Exeter, amongst other locations.

The quickest of those two was the Wrexham Half Marathon, thanks to fine wins for David Devine (67:30) and Rachel Hodgkinson (76:32). Moving southwards, Rosie Mew (79:32) and Jacob Maddison (74:02) crossed the line quickest at the Exeter Half Marathon on Saturday.

Mark Hill (71:19) and Raquel Garcia-Cabrera (83:21) were first across the finish line at Sunday’s Nottingham Holme Run Half Marathon. The associated 10k was won by Emily Smith (37:16) and Robert Cassy (34:22), with the 5k going to Adam Hunt (16:19) and Chloe Finlay (18:34).

A day earlier, Katherine Clarke (74:22) and James Williams (72:54) were victorious at the Dorney Lake Half Marathon. Megan Davies (34:49) recorded the fastest time in the associated 10k, with Nathan Canning (35:25) the fastest male.

Stepping Down the Distance

One of the fastest 10ks of the weekend was run by Charlie Brisley (30:07) at the Ashford & District 10k. He was joined on the top-spot by Becky Morrish (39:05). Two days out from February 14, a love for running was clear at the Valentine’s 10k in Chessington. There, it was the turn of Gaby Reynolds (36:22) and Alex Reid (32:17) to leave as race winners. Also spreading the love where Reuben Andrews (30:58) and Dani Nimmock (34:29) to took the wins at the Valentine’s 10km race in Easton.

A quick-fire rounding out of some of the other road races of the weekend. James McCann (35:09) and Faye Jasmine Waterhouse (38:57) took wins at Saturday’s Tatton 10k. Caroline Brock (38:52) and Robert Whitby (35:02) won the Boalloy Bypass 10k in Congleton, whilst Niall Gilchrist (35:35) and Lucy Ashe (39:03) won the Harrow Hill 10k.

The Street 5k, impressively in its 196th edition, saw wins for Gill Pearson (18.51) and Alexander Coombs (15.58).

Much Longer

One of the most impressive performances of the weekend was Joasia Zakrzewski’s World 48 hour Record. The British athlete covered a staggering 410.843km (to be confirmed) at the Taipei Ultra-marathon. That distance betters both the male and female British Records also, and you can read more about it here.

Photo: Paul Magee

Metric Measurements

Popular as ever this weekend were the opportunities to race over ten or five miles. The quickest time over ten miles went to Callum Mitchelmore (52:35) at the Cannock Chase 10, where Emma Mills (75:46) was the fastest female. Over half the distance, Yvette Lycett (34:18) and Aston Rockley-Chapman (29:22) went fastest in the Cannock Chase 5.

Moving to Poole; spare a thought for Vicky Ingham. She took the win at the Lytchett 10, but was just one second shy of the 60 minute mark (60:01). Harry Smith (54:13) recorded the fastest time overall.

Staying on the south coast, the Eastbourne 5 provided wins for Patrick Marsden (27:14) and Jackie Stretton (30:51).

RunThrough Running

RunThrough’s events continued at pace this week. Sunday at Goodwood saw athletes compete at distances ranging from 5k to 50k. Ollie Garrod (2:51:26) recorded a somewhat staggering margin of victory, completing the 50k almost 40 minutes ahead of the field. Only two women ran the distance; Charlotte Smith (4:57:49)’s margin of victory was considerably smaller at less than three minutes.

Miyuki Okubpo (3:04:30) and Rob Payne (2:34:29) recorded wins in the marathon, as did Will Langdon (1:56:21) and Claudine Davie (2:23:07) over 20 miles. The half marathon went to Rosie Weston (1:20:52) and Rob Hall (1:18:23). Annie Padgett (41:22), Andrew McCaskill (32:30), Naomi Lenane (17:13) and Simon Gilbert (18:00) took the 10k and 5k respectively.

Jessie Swift (40:00) lived up to her name in winning the Run Aintree 10k, with Luke Culshaw (30:34) the fastest male. Matthew Watson (67:41) and Rosie Wild (78:17) were clear winners of the associated half marathon. The shortest races over 5k went to Emilia Platt (17:42) and Ben Green (16:02).

Earlier in the week, Ed Plager (34:32) and Annabelle Evans (41:40) won the Chase the Moon QE Olympic Park 10k. The associated 5k saw victories for Annaka Charters (19:37) and Zack Mitchell (16:53).

European Track and Trail Racing

With one week left to obtain standards for the European Indoor Championships, multiple athletes have raced across Europe in search of a fast time.

Wednesday saw the World Indoor Tour continue at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland. After setting a World Indoor Best for 600m, Keely Hodgkinson started her 800m season in winning fashion. Racing at the home of her European Indoor title and against a strong field, she clocked 1:57.87 for her second fast time indoors. Interestingly, however, was the suggestion she was expecting a much faster outing. She races again in Lievin on Wednesday.

George Mills continued his fine indoor season with a close second place over 1500m (3:35.92), just four hundredths outside his PB set last month. After some close contact at the break, Guy Learmonth ended sixth (1:47.73) in the 800m. Tom McKean’s Scottish Record lives another day.

On the same day, a handful of Brits were in action at the Mondeville Meeting in France. Racing over 800m, Dan Rowden (1:49.52) and Sam Reardon (1:52.14) finishing second and eighth respectively. Meanwhile, Erin Wallace was fifth over 1500m (4:11.67).

Three middle-distance Brits were in action at the Meeting Metz Moselle Athlelor in France on Saturday. Jack Rowe improved his 3000m best to 7:46.47, whilst Piers Copeland (3:42.86) and Seb Anthony (3:47.64) ran their quickest times of 2023.

Cross Country Continues

The Surrey League drew to a close on Saturday with races at both Lloyd Park and Morden Park. Division 1 races took place at Lloyd Park, a course notorious for plentiful mud but providing excellent conditions on Saturday. A close team battle saw the senior ladies league go to Herne Hill Harriers just ahead of Belgrave Harriers. This was thanks in part to a third consecutive win for Georgie Grgec, finishing over a minute ahead of the rest of the field. Guildford’s Suzie Monk and Bethanie Murray of Thames Hare & Hounds completed the top three.

Photo: James Rhodes

Jack Millar (Thames Hare & Hounds) took a win on the five-mile course, six seconds ahead of Guildford’s John Sanderson. The latter recorded his best result of the four-fixture season, with Belgrave Harrier Josh Trigwell finishing third. Hercules Wimbledon won the league.

Walton’s Alex Kilby and Holland Sports’ Harry Lawton won the Division 2 and Division 3/4 respectively at Morden Park. Morden also hosted the senior women’s division 2 fixture, which was won by Penny Oliver of Croydon Harriers.

There was a convincing win for Rebecca Murray in the senior women’s race of the Chiltern League in Milton Keynes. The Bedford & County athlete’s time of 21:11 saw her finish 58 seconds clear of the rest of the field. The senior men’s race was similar, with another Bedford athlete in Ben Alcock winning by 43 seconds (27:46). Ben Warren (Luton) and Rebecca Frake (Oxford City) were quickest in the Division 2 field.

Muddy Conditions

The fifth fixture of the Start Fitness Metropolitan League provided individual wins for Highgate Harriers in both senior races. Hannah Viner completed the Trent Park course quickest in the senior ladies race, with a 29:02 clocking. She was followed by two Thames Valley Harrier athletes in Yvie Lock and Verity Hopkins. Amongst the senior men, Jacob Allen recorded another victory finishing ahead of Oscar Bell (Herts Phoenix) and Seyfu Jamaal (London Heathside).

Joining Highgate in taking wins in both races were Aldershot, Farnham & District in the Hampshire League. Racing at Popham Airfield, the honours went to Kate Estlea and Rickie Harvie.

The final fixture of the Birmingham League saw races across three divisions at three venues. Abington Park hosted a win for Kadar Omar (Birchfield Harriers) in Division 1. Ben Holmes (Solihull & Small Heath) took the Division 2 race at Burton Dassett, with David Brewis (Sphinx AC) the same in Division 3 at Coombe Abbey.

The seventh fixture of the Kent Fitness League was held at Haven Allhallows Holiday Park. There was no break, however, for the athletes competing. Jordan Howes (Medway & Maidstone) took another win, joined on the rostrum by Charlotte Johnston of Maidstone Harriers.

There were victories for Lucy Crookes from Tyne Bridge Harriers and Ellis Hetherington of Blyth RC in the respective senior races of the North Eastern Harrier League held at Thornley Hall Farm in Peterlee. Finally, there were wins for Tonbridge’s Sean Molloy and Blackheath & Bromley’s Andrea Clement at the Kent League.

Photo: Sarah-Jayne Pugh (who finished the 14k before taking this picture).

On the trails

Out in Liguria, Italy, Natalie White was battling it out over 52km with a good women’s race that saw the front four all together around half-way. Multiple Italian international Virginia Oliveri pushed ahead in the second half to take the winning 6:02 and White held on for a strong third place in 6:18. With 2,500m of climbing over the distance, White felt it was a bit too “runnable” for her liking… her words, not ours.

In New Zealand it was British International XC star Kate Avery who was shining on the trails at the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon 50k with a 3rd placed finish against strong competition in the first UTMB World Series race of the year. Avery is now qualified for the UTMB OCC in Chamonix in August we think, although she might just have a handful of running stones?