Despite less-than-ideal weather conditions across the UK, plenty of athletes took to the roads for another weekend of fast racing. James Rhodes brings you the highlights of the action.

Fast in Cardiff

We start this weekend at one of the more anticipated races of the weekend was the Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10k. Having once again pulled together strong fields across both genders, potential existed for competitive races.

An already strong women’s field was boosted by the late addition of Natasha Cockram. The Welsh Marathon Record holder was looking to test her speed having this week been announced as the first British representative at August’s World Championships. Swedish athlete Carolina Wilkstrom got the better of the strong domestic field. Having run side-by-side with Cockram for the first half, passing 5k in 16:24, the Swede made a move at the 8k point. She finished in 32:54, with Natasha clocking 33:11 for second.

It was great to see former Fast Running round-up author Hannah Irwin make a return to racing following injury at last summer’s Commonwealth Games. The Northern Ireland international took third in 33:16, with Clara Evans fourth.

Women’s podium at the Cardiff Bay 10k (plus, apparently the winner of Love Island). Photo: Race Organiser

In the men’s race, it was an emphatic victory for Omar Ahmed as took his third win in as many editions on the streets of the Welsh capital. In cold and blustery conditions, the Birchfield Harrier clocked an impressive 29:01, having passed halfway in 14:25. He was followed by Welsh international and previous race winner Dewi Griffiths. Having trailed by eleven seconds at the halfway point, he crossed the finish 57 seconds behind Ahmed (29:58). Griffiths will next race at the London Marathon in four weeks. Tomas Crockett (30:12) completed the top three.

The races formed part of the Run 4 Wales 10k Series and saw almost 6,000 athletes compete.

Photo: Race Organiser

Horrific Conditions in Hastings

If the thought of 300m elevation gain in a half marathon scares you, Hastings probably isn’t the race for you. Already facing a tough course, athletes braving the Hastings Half Marathon were tasked with battling windy and wet weather also.

It was a pair of debutants who took victories for both genders. Perhaps I am showing that I know very little about what makes a good course. U23 athlete Charlie Brisley began his 13.1-mile adventures in impressive format, although it was a close finish. His finishing time of 71:03 tied with that of 2018 race winner Adam Clarke.

The Newham athlete continues his winning ways after doing the same the Ashford & District 10k in February. It was Clarke’s first race of 2023 and over seven minutes down on his 2022 best – some of that course specific. Luke Grenfell-Shaw (77:28) finished third.

Another debutant came in the form of Brighton Phoenix’s Beth Kidger. She finished in 76:27, impressive given the course. Behind her was another athlete making her half marathon debut, Alex Millard (78:01). Millard had a good XC season, including third at the European XC and a win at BUCS. That form is clearly translating onto the roads. Local athlete Grace Baker (79:37) was third, impressively in a PB.

Wonderful in Wilmslow, Fast in Fleet

Theis weekend’s fastest time came via Jonny Mellor at the Wilmslow Half Marathon, part of the Wilmslow Running Festival. He crossed the line in 62:06, setting a PB in the process, over one minute ahead of Dennis Kipkemboi Cheruiyot (63:15) and Carl Avery (65:53). In just her third half marathon, Lauren McNeil (71:59) was a clear winner amongst the women racing. Gemma Steel (72:34) and Kenyan Sharon Kipchumba (73:29) completed the top-three.

If you thought Hastings was the only close finish in a half marathon this weekend, think again! Moving northwards, just two seconds separated Kurt Taylor (66:03) and Max Nicholls (66:05) at the Fleet Half Marathon. A short distance back was Max Walker (66:46) to complete the top-three. It was almost as close amongst the women racing. Six seconds separated Claire Jacobs (77:10) and Katie Olding (77:16) for the top spot, with Vicki Ingham (78:38) third.

Prolific racer Ollie Garrod continued his winning ways at the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon. In his eleventh race of 2023, one being a 40 mile World Record on the track, he finished (70:50) almost two minutes clear of Paul Bailey (72:48) and Craig Winfield of Serpentine (73:58). Annie Birch (80:56) of Kent AC recorded a similar margin of victory ahead of Jessica Welborn (83:05) and Eve Kekeh (83:20).

Continued Half Marathon Fun

Phillipa Williams (74:50) improved her lifetime best by eleven seconds at the RFA Sheffield Half Marathon. It was an emphatic victory in the process, finishing over six minutes before Sarah Lowery (81:11) and Kate Russell (83:13) reached the finish. The third close finish of the weekend saw Tommy Power (68:00) and Daniel Haworth (68:02) closely matched. Third place went to Scott Hinchcliffe (69:43).

A quick-fire rounding out of the 13.1 mile races of the weekend. James Carpenter (74:18) and Elinor Mattey (86:09) won the Merthyr Half Marathon Megan Tibbetts (91:18) and Paul Jones (76:02) doing the same at the Ironbridge Half Marathon. In London, Emily Robbins (81:36) and Jack Henson (71:47) crossed the line first at RunFest at Lee Valley. The associated 10k was won by Max Murray (33:51) and Emily Ballard (41:03).

Flurry of 10k Racing

With a plethora of 10k races over the past couple of days, it is hard to know where to start. North of the border provided one of the most competitive finishes. The top-three at the Moray Road Runners 10k finished inside 31 minutes and within 15 seconds of each other. They were led by Kenny Wilson (30:37), who got the better of Lachlan Oates (30:45) and Max Abernethy (30:52). Jenny Bannerman (37:01) was the fastest female, less than a minute ahead of Jennifer Donaldson (37:11) and Amy Hudson (37:47).

Simon Nott (33:11) and Alexandra Stainthorpe (39:23) took wins at the Clock Change Challenge 10k in Wiltshire. The associated 5k was won by Fiona Blackmore (20:56) and Matthew Waite (16:29). Ashley Illingsworth (35:20) and Laura Bardsley (42:01) crossed the line first at the Rushcliffe 10k.

It appeared a good idea to travel to a town beginning with W to race this weekend, especially Wolverhampton and Wilmslow. The former hosted RunThrough’s Wolverhampton 10k, where Luke Vine (31:02) headed a trio of athletes under 32 minutes. The others were Daniel Haymes (31:17) and Daniel Husbands (31:48). Lorna Hulme (38:59), Lucie Tait-Harris (39:25) and Georgia Delaney (40:10) were the fastest females. Jade Morgan (36:49) and Robert Weston (33:22) took the honours at the Wilmslow 10k.

Continuing with a W, the Welshpool 10k provided victories for M40 marathoner Andrew Davies (34:28) and Emma Palfrey (43:33).

More Racing

As ever, there were fast times at the Chase the Moon Battersea Park on Wednesday. Fastest times went to Rachel Owen (37:18) and Thomas Holliday (32:02), the latter one of six men to run inside 33 minutes. As a Clapham Chaser, Matt Dickinson is used to Battersea Park. It served him well, as his 15:00 clocking in the 5k saw him finish over 70 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Kate Axford (16:39) had an excellent run also, finishing fourth overall.

The next results will go past almost as quickly as the athletes racing. There were victories for Laura Bailey (37:06) and David Bishop (31:22) at the Derby 10k, whilst Adam Kula-Przezwanski (32:42) and Bethan Francis (39:05) took the Lightning Bolt 10k in Langley Burrell.

The Ali Clark Memorial 10k went to James Johnson (34:29) and Della Hatfield (34:55), and the Smugglers 10k to Amy Seager (39:18) and Lee Hardie (35:46). Zak Lee-Green (38:46) and Lindsey Dixon (47:59) were fastest at the Treehouse School 10k.

The nicely named Pendock Spring Chicken 10k saw William Kennedy (36:27) and Jennifer Cashmore (43:15) race well. It was a family affair thanks to the 5k, with Quisha Cashmore (23:16) and Stephen Millward (17:59) recording victories.

Sticking with 5k, Alex Birkett (15:24) and Eleanor Bolton (17:05) won the midweek Leeds 5k.

Final Stretch

Getting closer! For athletes looking for race conditions for their pre-spring marathon long runs, a 20 miler can be a perfect opportunity. Fortunately, there were a handful to choose from this weekend.

The fastest was from Highgate’s Alex Lepretre (1:42:26) at the Hillingdon 20 in London, in his debut at the distance. It is in fact his longest race since his one and only marathon back in 2014. Behind him were Alex Lawrence (1:45:04) and John Eves (1:50:07). After a win at the Eastleigh 10k last weekend, Louise Small made it two wins in consecutive weekends. Her 1:58:47 was almost 15 minutes clear of Helen Mussen (2:13:43) and Lucy Foreman (2:14:23).

Staying in London, there were wins for Gaby Reynolds (2:14:36) and Alastair Matheson (1:52:42) at the Thames Riverside 20. Meanwhile, the Wymondham AC 20 went to Alan Darby (1:50:28) and Charlotte Rose (2:11:18), with the Aldi Ashby 20 going to Abigail Halcarz (2:07:52) and Daniel Bagley (1:47:36).

Two different distances now. It was the turn of Kieran O’Doherty (33:22) and Susan Dixon (41:57) at the BVAC Open 5 Mile. Meanwhile, Patrick Connolly (4:25:48) and Amy Maughan (5:41:40) were quickest at the Great British Seaside Marathon starting and finishing in Skegness.

Longest Races Last

Ending this weekend with two of the longer race distances. Jackie Stretton recorded an impressive win at the X-Bionic Lake Garda 42 in Italy. Taking place on the shores of Lake Garda, the race saw over 2,700 entrants. I can think of worse places to spend a Sunday. Jackie, representing Springfield Striders RC, raced largely alone to finish in 2:53:52. Italian Enrico Bartolotti won the men’s field.

Photo: Race Organiser

Finally, it would be remis to not mention Camille Herron’s incredible performance at the Sri Chimnoy 48 Hour Festival in Australia. She obliterated the 48-hour ultra-running World Record, completing a distance of 435.336km. That is impressive enough, let alone when done on a running track – that’s 1,088 laps to be precise. A host of intermediate marks were set also. These included new GOMU (Global Organisation of Multi-Day Ultramarathoners) World Records for 300km and 200 miles.

On that note, it’s time for a lie down.